A Brief Sanskrit Glossary
Part 2 – M through Z
Nada: Sound; the resonance of sound; mystic inner sound; the primal sound or first vibration from which all creation has emanated; the first manifestation of the unmanifested Absolute; Omkara or Shabda Brahman. The inner sound of Om experienced in meditation.
Nadi: A channel in the subtle (astral) body through which subtle prana (psychic energy) flows; a physical nerve.
Naga: Snake; a kind of astral being; naked.
Nagar(a): City; town.
Nagar(san)kirtan: Kirtan done in procession through the streets or sometimes within or around an ashram or other property.
Nagas: Astral beings that often interact with human beings, usually taking the form of snakes. (In Sanskrit naga is the word for snake.)
The Nahabat at Dakshineshwar
Nahabat: A temple music tower. Musicians sit on the upper story and play during festivals and sometimes at the time of daily worship. Holy Mother Sarada Devi lived in the northern nahabat of the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple.
Naishthika brahmachari(n): One irrevocably vowed to life-long celibacy; a permanent brahmachari.
Naivedya: Food offered in worship.
Nakshatra: Star; heavenly body; asterism or constellation.
Nama: Name. The Divine Name.
Nama-rupa: Name and form.
Namaskara: “I bow to you;” a respectful greeting; salutation; obeisance.
Namasmarana: Remembrance (repetition) of the Name of God. Remembrance of the Lord through repetition of His name.
Namaste(bhyam): “I bow to you.” “I salute you.”
Nanak (Guru): Founder of the Sikh religion in the fifteenth century.
Nara: Man; human.
Narada: A primeval sage to whom some of the verses of the Rig Veda are attributed.
Naraki: One who is in hell.
Narayana: A proper name of God–specifically of Vishnu. The term by etymology means a Being that supports all things, that is reached by them and that helps them to do so; also one who pervades all things. He Who dwells in man. Literally: “God in humanity.” Sadhus often address one another as Narayana and greet one another: “Namo Narayanaya”–I salute Narayana [in you].
Narayana shila: See Shalagrama.
Nasikagra: Tip of the nose.
Nasikagradrishti: Gaze directed toward the tip of the nose.
Nastika: Unbeliever; atheist.
Nataraja: “King of the Dance,” a title of Shiva the Cosmic Dancer. The whole creation is the dance of Shiva. He holds a drum (damaru) in his upper right hand representing the sound (shabda) of Om by which the universe is created. In his upper left hand he holds a flame which symbolizes the dissolution of the universe in fire–but which also represents the tapasya by which the yogi dissolves the bonds of this world. His lower hand is in abhaya mudra, the gesture meaning “fear not,” bestowing peace and protection. His lower left hand points toward his upraised foot indicating that the “feet” of the yogi must be lifted up toward Spirit. It also symbolizes liberation.
Natha: Lord; ruler; protector.
Nath Yogis: An ancient order of yogis, sometimes called Siddha Yogis, claiming Patanjali and Jesus (Isha Nath) among their master teachers.
Navadhvara kuti: The nine-gated house–the body.
Navadhvara puri: The nine-gated city–the body.
Neem Karoli Baba
Neem Karoli Baba: One of India’s most amazing and mysterious spiritual figures. The life of this great miracle-worker and master spanned from two to four centuries (at the least), including most of the twentieth century.
Neti-neti: “Not this; not this.” The analytical process of progressively negating all names and forms in order to arrive at the eternal underlying Truth. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad both Brahman and the Self are described as “not this; not this,” meaning that when we negate every name, form, or quality, Being Itself will remain.
Nididhyasana: Meditation; contemplation; profound and continuous meditation. It is a continuous, unbroken stream of ideas of the same kind as those of the Absolute. It removes the contrariwise tendencies of the mind.
Nidra: Sleep; either dreaming or deep sleep state.
Nija: Perception without sense organs.
Nijananda: The bliss beyond sense perception.
Nimitta: Cause; instrument; effect; sign; substance.
Nirakara: Without form.
Niranjana: Without blemish; spotless.
Nirbija: “Without seed;” without attributes; without the production of samskaras or subtle karmas.
Nirbija samadhi: Nirvikalpa samadhi samadhi wherein the seeds of samskaras or karmas are destroyed (“fried” or “roasted”) by Jnana, and which produces no samskaras or karmas.
Nirguna: Without attributes or qualities (gunas).
Nirguna Brahman: The impersonal, attributeless Absolute beyond all description or designation.
Nirodha: Restraint; restriction; suppression; dissolving/dissolution; cessation; disappearance; control inhibition; annihilation; process of ending.
Nirmala: Without impurity; pure; without defect or blemish.
Nirvana: Liberation; final emancipation; the term is particularly applied to the liberation from the bondage of karma and the wheel of birth and death that comes from knowing Brahman; Absolute Experience. See Moksha.
Nirvana chakra: Energy center located beneath the crown of the head and opposite the middle of the forehead–in the midst of the brain.
Nirvedam: Indifference; non-reaction; non-susceptibility; the state of being unmoved or not influenced by something.
Nirvichara samadhi: A stage in samadhi wherein the mind (chitta) no longer identified with a subtle object or assumes its form, simply resting in perception without analytical awareness of its nature by means of the buddhi, whose operation has become completely suspended so that only pure awareness remains; without deliberation and reasoning or inquiry.
Nirvikalpa: Indeterminate; non-conceptual; without the modifications of the mind; beyond all duality.
Nirvikalpa Samadhi: Samadhi in which there is no objective experience or experience of “qualities” whatsoever, and in which the triad of knower, knowledge and known does not exist; purely subjective experience of the formless and qualitiless and unconditioned Absolute. The highest state of samadhi, beyond all thought, attribute, and description.
Nirvikara: Without transformation, modifications, or change; changeless.
Nishkama karma: Desireless action; disinterested action; action dedicated to God without personal desire for the fruits of the action; selfless action.
Nitya: Eternal; permanent; unchanging; the ultimate Reality; the eternal Absolute. Secondarily: daily or obligatory (nitya karma–that which must be done every day).
Nitya-Shuddha: Eternally pure.
Nityananda (Avadhuta Paramhansa): A great Master of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the most renowned Pranava yogi of our times. His Chidakasha Gita contains some of the most profound statements on the Pranava and Its application by the yogi.
Nivritti: Negation; the path of turning away from activity; withdrawal. Literally, “to turn back.” The path of renunciation.
Nivritti Marga: The path of renunciation, of withdrawal from the world.
Niyama: Observance; the five Do’s of Yoga: 1) shaucha–purity, cleanliness; 2) santosha–contentment, peacefulness; 3) tapas–austerity, practical (i.e., result-producing) spiritual discipline; 4) swadhyaya–self-study, spiritual study; 5) Ishwarapranidhana–offering of one’s life to God.
Ojah: See Ojas.
Ojas: Vitality; vigor; luster; splendor; energy; spiritual energy. The highest form of energy in the human body. In the spiritual aspirant who constantly practices continence and purity, other forms of energy are transmuted into ojas and stored in the brain, manifesting as spiritual and intellectual power.
Om: The Pranava or the sacred syllable symbolizing and embodying Brahman.
Oshadhi: Medicinal plant.
Pada (1): Part; chapter; one-fourth portion.
Pada (2): Foot.
Padmasana: Lotus posture; considered the best posture for meditation.
Panchabhuta: The Five Elements (Mahabhuta): ether (akasha), air (vayu), fire (agni), water(ap), and earth (prithvi).
Panchagni: “Five fires.” A discipline in which four fires are kindled in the four cardinal directions and meditation is done from dawn till dusk seated in their midst, the sun being the fifth “fire.” Also called Panchatapa.
Panchanga: Traditional Indian calendar.
Panchatapa: See Panchagni.
Pandal: A flat-roofed tent whose sides and top are detached from one another, the root usually being higher than the sides to provide air circulation.
Pandavas: The five sons of King Pandu: Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva. Their lives are described in the Mahabharata.
Pandita: Scholar; pundit; learned individual.
Papa: Sin; demerit; evil; sinful deeds; evil deeds.
Para(m): Highest; universal; transcendent; supreme.
Parabhakti: Supreme devotion to God. This leads to jnana.
Parabrahman: Supreme Brahman.
Parama: Highest; supreme.
Param[a]guru: The guru’s guru.
Paramananda: Supreme (param) bliss (ananda).
Param[a]purusha: See Purusha.
Paramartha: The highest attainment, purpose, or goal; absolute truth; Reality.
Paramatma(n): The Supreme Self, God.
Parameshwara: The Supreme Lord.
Paramhansa: Literally: Supreme Swan, a person of the highest spiritual realization, from the fact that a swan can separate milk from water and is therefore an apt symbol for one who has discarded the unreal for the Real, the darkness for the Light, and mortality for the Immortal, having separated himself fully from all that is not God and joined himself totally to the Divine, becoming a veritable embodiment of Divinity manifested in humanity.
Paramapada: The highest abode; the supreme abode (Vaikuntha) of Lord Vishnu.
Parameshwara: The supreme (param) Lord (eshwara; Ishwara).
Parampara: Tradition; one following another; lineage; succession; uninterrupted succession.
Parampurusha: The Supreme Spirit; Supreme Person.
Paranirvana: The Supreme, Final Nirvana, when the perfectly enlightened individual is released from physical embodiment, never to return to birth in any world, high or low.
Parasamvit: Supreme knowledge; supreme consciousness; the supreme experiencing principle; absolute experience; self-luminous knowledge; pure consciousness; Shiva; Supreme Reality.
Para-shakti: Supreme Power.
Paridrishtah: Regulated; measured; observed or viewed with the intent to regulate.
Parikrama: Circumambulation; “to traverse around.” It is the custom in India to circumambulate sacred objects and places, always moving clockwise so the sacred thing or place is to the right of the devotee.
Parinama: Change; modification; transformation; evolution; development; effect; result; ripening; altering/changing.
Parinama-vada: The theory that the cause is continually transforming itself into its effects. The belief that Brahman transforms a portion of His Being into the universe. The belief that Prakriti is transformed into the world.
Paripurna: All-full; self-contained.
Parivrajaka: “One who wanders;” a roaming ascetic; one who has renounced the world; a sannyasin.
Parvati: “Daughter of the Mountain;” the daughter of King Himalaya; the consort of Shiva; an incarnation of the Divine Mother.
Pashyanti: The first prearticulated aspect of sound; sound in a subtle form as it starts to manifest before reaching the mind; the first perceptible form of sound.
Patala: Hell; nether world.
Patanjali: A yogi of ancient India, the author of the Yoga Sutras.
Pati: “Lord;” God; Master; Shiva.
Pativrata dharma: The rules of life of a chaste woman devoted to her husband.
Paurusha: Manhood, manliness, virility, potency, courage, effort.
Pauresheya: Personal; pertaining to or what originates from a person (purusha).
Pavitra: Holy; pure; purified; can also mean purifier or sanctifier.
Payasa: A sweet rice pudding made from rice, milk, ghee, sugar, and spices.
Phala: Fruit; result or effect.
Pinda (1): Part of the whole; individual; the body–either of the individual jiva or the cosmic body of Ishwara. It can also mean an organized whole or a unity of diversities.
Pinda (2): Small ball of rice offered to one’s ancestors as an oblation. Sometimes in the sannyas ritual the prospective sannyasi performs his own funeral obsequies (shraddha ceremony), including making offerings of rice balls to/for himself.
Pindotpatti: The origin of the bodies, cosmic as well as individual.
Pingala: The subtle channel that extends from the base of the spine to the medulla on the right side of the spine.
Pishacha: Vampire; flesh-or-blood-craving demon.
Pitamaha: Grandfather; Great Father; titles of Brahma, the Creator.
Pitha: Seat; throne; chair. It also indicates a place where something is centered or established. For example, a place of power may be referred to as a “shakti pitha” or a place favorable to meditation as a “yoga pitha.” A shrine to a deity may also be called a pitha, such as “Sarada pitha,” etc., meaning that the deity resides or is established there.
Pitri: A departed ancestor, a forefather.
Prabhu: Lord; excelling; mighty; powerful; master. From the root bhu–“to become, hence to rule”–and pra–“forth.”
Prarabdha karma: “Ripened” actions (pra=before; rabh=begin); the portion of accumulated karma, the fruits of which determines one’s present life, which are being experienced now and which cannot be erased; karma in action; remainder; karma that is working itself out during the present life. That part of the accumulated effect of past deeds which has begun to take effect with the creation of the present physical body and which is responsible for the continuance of the body even after release is attained. It is destroyed only when its force is spent. It cannot be averted, avoided, or changed–though either by knowledge or by grace its impact can be minimized or rendered nil to the perceiver.
Pradakshina: Circumambulation of a sacred object or place, walking around it clockwise so it is always on your right side.
Pradhana: Prakriti; causal matter.
Prahlada: A daitya prince who rejected his daitya heritage and became a devotee of Vishnu. His father, the evil Hiranyakashipu, tortured him and attempted his life because of his devotion and his speaking to others of divine matters, yet he remained steadfast.
Prajapati: Progenitor; the Creator; a title of Brahma the Creator.
Prajna: Consciousness; awareness; wisdom; intelligence.
Prajñanam Brahma: “Consciousness is Brahman.” The Mahavakya (Great Saying) of the Aitareya Upanishad.
Prajapati: Progenitor; the Creator; a title of Brahma the Creator.
Prakash(a): Shining; luminous; effulgence; illumination; luminosity; light; brightness. Pure Consciousness, from the root kash (to shine) and pra (forth); cognition.
Prakriti: Causal matter; the fundamental power (shakti) of God from which the entire cosmos is formed; the root base of all elements; undifferentiated matter; the material cause of the world. Also known as Pradhana. Prakriti can also mean the entire range of vibratory existence (energy).
Prakritilaya: Absorbed or merged in Prakriti; the state of yogis who have so identified with the cosmic energy that they are trapped in it as though in a net and cannot separate themselves from it and evolve onwards until the cosmic dissolution (pralaya) occurs in which the lower worlds of men, angels, and archangels (bhur, bhuwah and swar lokas) are dissolved.
Pralaya: Dissolution. See Mahapralaya.
Prama: Valid knowledge; true knowledge; knowledge of the real; knowledge free from error and above doubt.
Pramana: Means of valid knowledge; logical proof; authority (of knowledge); means of cognition (from the verb root ma–to measure and pra–before or forward.
Pramanya(m): Truth; validity; proof.
Pramada: Carelessness; fault; guilt
Prameya: Object of cognition; object of (right) knowledge; object of proof; subject of inquiry.
Prana: Vital energy; life-breath; life-force. In the human body the prana is divided into five forms: 1) Prana, the prana that moves upward; 2) Apana: The prana that moves downward, producing the excretory functions in general. 3) Vyana: The prana that holds prana and apana together and produces circulation in the body. 4) Samana: The prana that carries the grosser material of food to the apana and brings the subtler material to each limb; the general force of digestion. 5) Udana: The prana which brings up or carries down what has been drunk or eaten; the general force of assimilation.
Pranam: “To bow;” to greet with respect. A respectful or reverential gesture made by putting the hands together palm-to-palm in front of the chest. A prostration before a deity or revered person.
Pranamaya kosha: “The sheath of vital air (prana).” The sheath consisting of vital forces and the (psychic) nervous system.
Pranapratishta: “Installation of life;” a ritual which is done to an image when it is set on the altar of a temple at its consecration. This ritual makes the image alive in a subtle–but no less real–sense.
Pranava: A title of Om, meaning “Life-ness” or “Life-Giver.” Om is the expression or controller of prana–the life force within the individual being and the cosmos.
Pranayama: Control of the subtle life forces, often by means of special modes of breathing. Therefore breath control or breathing exercises are usually mistaken for pranayama.
Prapancha: The world; appearance of the world.
Prarabdha: Karma that has become activated and begun to manifest and bear fruit; karmic “seeds” that have begun to “sprout.”
Prarabdha karma: The action that has begun to fructify, the fruit of which is being reaped in this life.
Prasada(m): Food or any gift that has been first offered in worship or to a saint; that which is given by a saint; literally: “grace.”
Pratibha: Special mental power; imaginative insight; intelligence; splendor of knowledge; intuition; ever-creative activity or consciousness; the spontaneous supreme “I”-consciousness; Parashakti.
Pratima: Image; symbol; reflection; idol; figure; creator.
Pratipaksha bhavana: The method of substituting the opposite through imagination; thus, fear is overcome by dwelling strongly upon its opposite, viz., courage. Reflecting on and cultivating those traits which are opposed to spiritual obstructions.
Pratyagatman: The Self whose existence is understood only by turning one’s vision inward; the indwelling Self; kutashtha; Brahman.
Pratyahara: Abstraction or withdrawal of the senses from their objects, the fifth limb of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga.
Pratyaksha: Perception; direct perception; intuition.
Pratyayau: Content of the mind-field; presented idea; cognition principle; cognition; causal/awareness principle; awareness perceiving [through the mind]; buddhi; discriminatory intelligence; immediate arising thought directed to an object; cause; mental effort; imagination; idea of distinction.
Pravrajin: A wandering sannyasi.
Pravritti: Action; endeavor. Literally: “to turn forth.”
Pravritti Marga: The path of active involvement in the world.
Prayag: Rudraprayag, the modern-day Allahabad, site of the Triveni–the confluence of the three sacred rivers: Ganges, Jumna (Yamuna), and Saraswati.
Prayaschitta: Atonement (through various prescribed acts); expiation; mortification.
Prayatna: Effort; attempt; conscious activity.
Prema: Love, both human and divine; in the latter sense an ecstatic experience, interior disposition or movement which brings the lover into oneness with the Beloved.
Prema-bhakti: Intense love of God.
Premeshananda, Swami: Affectionately known as “Premesh Maharaj,” Swami Premeshananda was a disciple of Sri Sri Ma Sarada Devi, the wife of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, and a renowned monk of the Ramakrishna Order.
Preta: Ghost; spirit of the dead.
Preyo marga: The path of the pleasing, the pleasant, the pleasurable, or of worldly gain, as opposed to the path of the good or truly beneficial.
Prithvi: The planet earth; the earth element, from which the sense of smell (gandha) arises
Priya(m): Dear; beloved; pleasing. It can also mean the happiness or joy felt when seeing a beloved object.
Puja: Worship; ceremonial (ritual) worship; adoration; honor. Usually involving the image of a deity.
Pujari: One who performs ritualistic worship (puja).
Punarjanma: “Birth again;” rebirth/reincarnation.
Pundit: Scholar; pandita; learned individual.
Punya: Merit; virtue; meritorious acts; virtuous deeds.
Purana: Literally “The Ancient.” The Puranas are a number of scriptures attributed to the sage Vyasa that teach spiritual principles and practices through stories about sacred historical personages which often include their teachings given in conversations.
Purana Purusha: The Ancient Person; God.
Purascharana: An observance consisting of the repetition of a mantra–as many hundred thousand times as there are “letters” (Sanskrit consonants) in it. This is done with rigid rules regarding diet, number of japa to be done per day, seat, etc.
Purna: Full; complete.
Purnima: Full moon day.
Purohita: Priest; class of Vedic priests.
Purusha: “Person” in the sense of a conscious spirit. Both God and the individual spirits are purushas, but God is the Adi (Original, Archetypal) Purusha, Parama (Highest) Purusha, and the Purushottama (Highest or Best of the Purushas).
Purushartha: The four goals of human life: wealth (artha), desire (kama), righteousness (dharma), and liberation (moksha). The first is the economic value, the second is the psychological value, the third is the moral value, and the fourth is the spiritual value. Human effort; individual exertion; right exertion.
Purushottama: The Supreme Person; Supreme Purusha. (See Purusha.)
Purva samskaras: Previous samskaras; that is, samskaras brought over from previous lives.
Purvashram: Previous stage of life.
Pusan: Surya, the Sun-god.
Pushpanjali: Flower offering.
Putraishana: Desire for progeny.
Radha: The most celebrated of the Gopis, the dearest to Sri Krishna.
Raga: Attachment/affinity for something, implying a desire for it. This can be emotional (instinctual) or intellectual. It may range from simple liking or preference to intense desire and attraction. Greed; passion. See Dwesha.
Raga-bhakti: Supreme love, making one attached only to God.
Raga-dwesha: The continual cycle of desire/aversion, like/dislike.
Raja: King; royal.
Rajarshi: “Royal sage;” a king who knows Brahman; an epithet of King Janaka.
Raja Yoga: See Ashtanga Yoga.
Rajas: Activity, passion, desire for an object or goal. One of the three gunas.
Rajasic: Possessed of the qualities of the raja guna (rajas). Passionate; active; restless.
Rajoguna: Activity, passion, desire for an object or goal.
Raki: A (usually) red string tied around the right wrist–usually by a priest in a temple or holy place–as mantras are recited for blessing and protection.
Rakshasa: There are two kinds of rakshasas: 1) semidivine, benevolent beings, or 2) cannibal demons or goblins, enemies of the gods. Meat-eating human beings are sometimes classed as rakshasas.
Ram: A title of Brahman the Absolute. Though sometimes used as a contraction of the name of Rama, many yogis insist that it is properly applied to Brahman alone and employ it as a mantra in repetition and meditation to reveal the Absolute. Interestingly, Ram (Rahm) is also a title of God in Hebrew.
Rama: An incarnation of God–the king of ancient Ayodhya in north-central India. His life is recorded in the ancient epic Ramayana.
Rama Tirtha: One the key spiritual figures in late nineteenth and early twentieth century India. A former university professor of mathematics in the Punjab, Swami Rama Tirtha traveled throughout India and even to Japan and America, preaching the truths of Advaita Vedanta and vigorously teaching the practice of Om Yoga.
Ramakrishna: Sri Ramakrishna lived in India in the second half of the nineteenth century, and is regarded by all India as a perfectly enlightened person–and by many as an Incarnation of God.
Ramana: Enjoyer; one who enjoys or delights in something
Ramana Maharshi: A great sage of the twentieth century who lived in Arunachala in South India. He taught the path of Self-Inquiry (Atma Vichara) wherein the person simply turns his awareness within asking “Who am I?” until the self (atma) is revealed.
Ramanuja (Sri): The great Vaishnava teacher of the eleventh century who formulated the philosophy known as Vishishtadvaita Vedanta (Qualified Non-Dualism).
Ramayana: The great Sanskrit epic poem by the sage Valmiki describing the life of Rama, the king of ancient Ayodhya in north-central India, who is regarded as an incarnation of God. The renowned Hindi devotional poem by the saint Tulsidas, also on the life of Rama.
Ramdas (Swami): One of the best-known and most influential spiritual figures of twentieth-century India, founder of Anandashram in South India and author of the spiritual classic In the Vision of God as well as many other inspirational books.
Ramnam: “The Name of Rama.” Japa or kirtan of the Name, titles, or mantra(s) of Rama.
Rasa: Taste; essence; savor; juice; nectar of delight.
Ratna: Jewel; pearl; gem; the best.
Rechaka: Exhalation of breath.
Retas: Semen; virile seed
Riddhi: Highest experiential delight; nine varieties of extraordinary exaltation and grandeur that come to a yogi as he advances and progresses in Yoga, like the supernatural powers or siddhis. Increase; growth; prosperity; success; wealth.
Rishabhadeva: An ancient ascetic who wandered freely through the forests, possessing nothing–not even wearing clothes–virtually unaware of his body.
Rishi: Sage; seer of the Truth.
Rita(m): Truth; Law; Right; Order. The natural order of things, or Cosmic Order/Law. Its root is ri, which means “to rise, to tend upward.” It is said to be the basis for the Law of Karma.
Rudra: Shiva. Derived from rud–he who drives away sin or suffering.
Rudras: Vedic deities of destruction for renewal, the chief of which is Shiva.
Rudraksha: “The Eye of Shiva;” a tree seed considered sacred to Shiva and worn by worshippers of Shiva, Shakti, and Ganesha, and by yogis, usually in a strand of 108 seeds. Also used as a rosary to count the number of mantras repeated in japa.
Rupa: Form; body.
Sabha: Assembly; congregation; public audience.
Sabija: “With seed;” with attributes; producing samskaras or subtle karmas.
Sabija samadhi: Savikalpa samadhi wherein the seeds of samskaras or karmas are not destroyed, and which produces the highest and subtlest of samskaras or karmas.
Sadachara: Morality; right behavior.
Sadashiva: Eternally auspicious; eternally happy; eternally prosperous. A title of Shiva, the eternally auspicious One.
Sad-darshanas: The six orthodox systems of Indian philosophy: Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Sankhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, and Vedanta.
Sadguru: True guru, or the guru who reveals the Real (Sat–God).
Sadhaka: One who practices spiritual discipline–sadhana–particularly meditation.
Sadhana: Spiritual practice.
Sadhana-chatushtaya: The fourfold aids to spiritual practice: 1) the ability to discriminate between the transient and the eternal (nitya-anity-astu-viveka); 2) the absence of desire for securing pleasure or pain either here or elsewhere (iha-anutra-artha-phala-vairagya); 3) the attainment of calmness, temperance, spirit of renunciation, fortitude, power of concentration of mind, and faith (shama-damadi-sadhana-smaptti); 4) an intense desire for liberation (mumukshutwa).
Sadhu: Seeker for truth (sat); and person who is practicing spiritual disciplines. Usually this term is applied only to monastics.
Sadhvi: A female “sadhu.”
Sadhyas: A group of celestial beings with exquisitely refined natures thought to inhabit the ether.
Sagar[a]: Sea; ocean.
Saguna: Possessing attributes or qualities (gunas).
Saguna Brahman: Brahman with attributes, such as mercy, omnipotence, onmiscience, etc.; the Absolute conceived as the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer of the universe; also the Personal God according to the Vedanta.
Sahaja: Natural; innate; spontaneous; inborn.
Sahasrara chakra: The “thousand-petalled lotus” of the brain. The highest center of consciousness, the point at which the spirits (atma) and the bodies (koshas) are integrated and from which they are disengaged.
Sahitya: Association; connection; society; combination; harmony.
Sai Baba: See Shirdi Sai Baba.
Sakara: With form.
Sakhyam: Friendship; companionship.
Sakshatakara: Self-realization; direct experience; experience of Absoluteness; Brahmajnana.
Sakshi(n): The witness self; the kutashtha which passively observes the actions of the body and the senses; seer; the intuitive faculty.
Sakshichaitanya: The witness consciousness or intelligence.
Samadarshana: Equal vision; seeing all things equally; equal-sightedness; equanimity.
Samadhi: The state of superconsciousness where Absoluteness is experienced attended with all-knowledge and joy; Oneness; where the mind becomes identified with the object of meditation; the meditator and the meditated, thinker and thought become one in perfect absorption of the mind. See Samprajñata Samadhi, Asamprajñata Samadhi, Savikalpa Samadhi, and Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
Samadrishti: See Samadarshana.
Samana: The prana that carries the grosser material of food to the apana and brings the subtler material to each limb; the general force of digestion.
Samarasa: Homogeneity; even essence; equilibrium; the process of bringing the body into a harmonious resonance with the Divine.
Samarasya: Homogeneity; oneness–especially of essence–which results from the elimination of all differences; equilibrium; the process of bringing the body into a harmonious resonance with the Divine.
Samasti: Cosmic; collective; an integrated whole of the same class of entity.
Samata (samatwa): Equality; impartiality; equanimity; equalness; equanimity of outlook in the sense of making no distinction between friend and foe, pleasure and pain, etc.
Sambandha: Relationship; connection.
Samhara: Destruction; dissolution.
Samhita: Collection; a division of the Vedas; Vedic hymns.
Sampradaya: Tradition; school; doctrine; handed-down instruction.
Samprajñata samadhi: State of superconsciousness, with the triad of meditator, meditation and the meditated; lesser samadhi; cognitive samadhi; samadhi of wisdom; meditation with limited external awareness. Savikalpa samadhi.
Samprayoga: Contact of the senses with their objects; communication; interchange; uniting; connecting.
Samsara: Life through repeated births and deaths; the wheel of birth and death; the process of earthly life.
Samsaric: Having to do with samsara; involved with samsara; partaking of the traits or qualities of samsara.
Samsarin: One who is subject to samsara–repeated births and deaths–and who is deluded by its appearances, immersed in ignorance.
Samshaya: Doubt; suspicion.
Samskara (1): Impression in the mind, either conscious or subconscious, produced by previous action or experience in this or previous lives; propensities of the mental residue of impressions; subliminal activators; prenatal tendency. See Vasana.
Samskara (2): A ritual that makes an impression or change in the individual for whom it is done. There are sixteen samskaras prescribed by the dharma shastras, beginning with conception (garbhadan) and concluding with the rite for the departed soul (antyshthi). The major ones besides these two are the birth rite (jatakarman), naming ceremony (namakaranam), the first eating of solid food (annaprasannam), the first cutting of the hair (chudakaraman), bestowal of the sacred thread and instruction in the Gayatri mantra (upanayanam), marriage (vivahanam), taking up of the retired life (vanaprastha), and taking up the monastic life (sannyasa). They are all done at points in the person’s life when significant changes in the subtle energy bodies are going to take place. Thus the samskara protects and strengthens the individual at those times and also prepares him for those changes, making actual alterations in his subtle bodies. Although they are often made social occasions, they are very real instruments of change to facilitate and further the person’s personal evolution. They are the linchpins of dharmic life, and essentially spiritual events.
Samvega: Intense ardor derived from long practice.
Samvit: Knowledge; consciousness; awareness; intelligence; supreme consciousness.
Samyama: Self-control; perfect restraint; an all-complete condition of balance and repose. The combined practice of the last three steps in Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga: concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and union (samadhi). See the Vibhuti Pada of the Yoga Sutras
Samyoga: Conjunction; contact..
Sanaka: One of the Four Kumaras (see Kumaras).
Sanandana: One of the Four Kumaras (see Kumaras).
Sanatana: Eternal; everlasting; ancient; primeval.
Sanatana Dharma: “The Eternal Religion,” also known as “Arya Dharma,” “the religion of those who strive upward [Aryas].” Hinduism.
Sanatkumara: One of the Four Kumaras (see Kumaras).
Sanatkumaras: The Four Kumaras (see Kumaras).
Sanatsujata: One of the Four Kumaras (see Kumaras).
Sanchita karma: The vast store of accumulated actions done in the past, the fruits of which have not yet been reaped.
Sandhya: A ritual done at the “junctions” (sandhyas) of the day–dawn, noon, and sunset–during which the Savitri Gayatri is repeated.
Sangha: Attachment; company; association; collection; community.
Sankalpa: A life-changing wish, desire, volition, resolution, will, determination, or intention–not a mere momentary aspiration, but an empowering act of will that persists until the intention is fully realized. It is an act of spiritual, divine creative will inherent in each person as a power of the Atma.
Sankhya: One of the six orthodox systems of Hindu philosophy whose originator was the sage Kapila, Sankhya is the original Vedic philosophy, endorsed by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (Gita 2:39; 3:3,5; 18:13,19), the second chapter of which is entitled “Sankhya Yoga.” The Ramakrishna-Vedanta Wordbook says: “Sankhya postulates two ultimate realities, Purusha and Prakriti. Declaring that the cause of suffering is man’s identification of Purusha with Prakriti and its products, Sankhya teaches that liberation and true knowledge are attained in the supreme consciousness, where such identification ceases and Purusha is realized as existing independently in its transcendental nature.” Not surprisingly, then, Yoga is based on the Sankhya philosophy.
Sankirtan: Singing the names and praises of God; devotional chanting.
Sannyasa: Renunciation; monastic life.
Sannyasi(n): A renunciate; a monk.
Sannyasini: A female renunciate; a nun.
Sanskrit(am): The language of the ancient sages of India and therefore of the Indian scriptures and yoga treatises.
Santosha: Contentment; peacefulness.
Sapta Rishis: “Seven Sages.” Great Beings who exist at the top of creation and supervise it.
Sri Sarada Devi
Sarada Devi (“Holy Mother”): The virgin-wife of Sri Ramakrishna, and a great teacher in her own right, considered by many to be an incarnation of the Mother aspect of God.
Saraswati: The goddess of speech, wisdom, learning and the arts–particularly music.
Sarva: All; everything; complete.
Sarvajna: Knowing everything; omniscience.
Sarvesha(m): All; everything; complete.
Sashtitantra: A name for the Sankhya philosophy.
Sat: Existence; reality; truth; being; a title of Brahman, the Absolute or Pure Being.
Satchidananda: Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute; Brahman.
Satkarya-Vada: The doctrine which holds that the effect is inherent in the cause and that the effect is only a change of the cause–that the effect exists prior to its manifestation in a latent state in the cause. This is a tenet of both Sankhya and Shaiva Siddhanta.
Satsanga: Literally: “company with Truth.” Association with godly-minded persons. The company of saints and devotees.
Sattwa: Light; purity; reality. One of the three gunas.
Sattwa Guna: Quality of light, purity, harmony, and goodness.
Sattwic: Partaking of the quality of Sattwa.
Satya(m): Truth; the Real; Brahman, or the Absolute; truthfulness; honesty.
Satyaloka:“True World,” “World of the True [Sat]”, or “World of Truth [Satya].” This highest realm of relative existence where liberated beings live who have not entered back into the Transcendent Absolute where there are no “worlds” (lokas). From that world they can descend and return to other worlds for the spiritual welfare of others, as can those that have chosen to return to the Transcendent.
Satya Yuga: The Golden Age. See Yuga.
Savichara samadhi: A stage in samadhi wherein the mind (chittta) is identified with some subtle object and assumes its form, being aware of what it is and capable of analyzing it by means of the purified buddhi; with deliberation and reasoning or inquiry.
Savikalpa Samadhi: Samadhi in which there is objective experience or experience of “qualities” and with the triad of knower, knowledge and known; lesser samadhi; cognitive samadhi; samadhi of wisdom; meditation with limited external awareness. Samprajñata samadhi.
Savitri Gayatri: A mantra of the Rig Veda which is recited for unfoldment of the intellectual powers leading to enlightenment.
Sayujya: Becoming one with God; united with God; union/merging.
Seva: Service; selfless service.
Shabda: Sound; word.
Shabda Brahman: Sound-God; Brahman in the Form of Sound; Omkara; the Vedas.
Shabdakshara: “Sound-syllable;” Om.
Shaiva/Shaivite: A worshipper of Shiva; pertaining to Shiva.
Shakta: A worshipper of Shakti, the Divine Feminine.
Shakti: Power; energy; force; the Divine Power of becoming; the apparent dynamic aspect of Eternal Being; the Absolute Power or Cosmic Energy; the Divine Feminine.
Shama: Calmness; tranquility; control of the internal sense organs; same; equal.
Shambho: The beneficient; auspicious; origin of bliss; bestower of happiness. A title of Shiva.
Shankara (1): “The Auspicious One.” A title of Shiva.
Shankara (2): Shankaracharya; Adi (the first) Shankaracharya: The great reformer and re-establisher of Vedic Religion in India around 300 B.C. He is the unparalleled exponent of Advaita (Non-Dual) Vedanta. He also reformed the mode of monastic life and founded (or regenerated) the ancient Swami Order.
Shalagrama: A flat-round or disk-like stone with rounded edges, found only in the Mandakini River in the region of Tibet, considered to be a manifestation of Vishnu and His avataras.
Shanta: One who possesses shanti; peaceful; calm; peace; contentment.
Shanti: Peace; calm; tranquility; contentment.
Sharanam: Refuge; protection, shelter.
Sharanagati: Taking refuge or shelter, seeking protection. One who has taken refuge or shelter, or sought protection.
Sharira: Body; sheath; literally: “that which perishes,” from the root shri which means “to waste away.”
Shastra: Scripture; spiritual treatise.
Shastri: One who is a scholar and teacher of the scriptures (shastras).
Shaucha: Purity; cleanliness.
Shesha: The endless; the infinite; The name of the snake (naga) upon which Vishnu reclines.
Shesha Narayan: The form of Vishnu reclining upon Shesha, the infinite (endless) snake (naga).
Shikha: A tuft of hair on the crown of the head, usually worn only by Brahmins or brahmacharis, but in the villages of Northern India many men of other castes wear the shikha as a sign that they are Hindus.
Shiksha: Teaching; instruction.
Shila (1): Conduct; good behavior; right discipline; morality; quality or property.
Shila (2): Stone; rock.
Shirdi Sai Baba
Shirdi Sai Baba: Perhaps the most renowned spiritual teacher of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in India. His fame continues to grow in this century as well.
Shishya: Disciple; student.
Shiva: A name of God meaning “One Who is all Bliss and the giver of happiness to all.” Although classically applied to the Absolute Brahman, Shiva can also refer to God (Ishwara) in His aspect of Dissolver and Liberator (often mistakenly thought of as “destroyer”).
Shiva Linga(m): A column-like or egg-shaped symbol of Shiva, usually made of stone. The column-like linga represents the central axis of creation which was seen by Brahma and Vishnu as a column of Light that had no top or bottom, but out of which Shiva emerged and explained that he was the source–indeed the totality–of creation. To yogis it represents the sushumna nadi which embodies the Consciousness that is Shiva. The egg-shaped (garbha) linga represents Shiva as the germ or seed of the universe out of whom all things have come to be as his manifestation. It is often to considered to represent the universe itself which is identical with Shiva.
Shraddha (1): Faith; confidence or assurance that arises from personal experience.
Shraddha (2): Rituals for the welfare of the dead, done in the days after the death and then usually done on the anniversary of the death.
Shravana: Hearing; study; listening to reading of the scriptures or instruction in spiritual life.
Shri (1): The goddess Lakshmi; prosperity; glory; success.
Shri (2): Excellent, venerated. A term of respect. Often used as a prefix to the name of deities and holy personages to indicate “holiness.”
Shrotra: Ear; the sense or faculty of hearing.
Shruti: That which is heard; revealed scripture in the sense of divine communication. Usually applied to the Vedas, Shankara also spoke of the Upanishads as Shruti.
Shubha: Auspicious; fortunate.
Shuddha: Pure; clear; clean; untainted.
Shuddhasattwa: According to Vishishtadvaita philosophy, shuddhasattwa is a self-luminous, immaterial, spiritual substance which is unconnected with the three gunas. It is infinite in the higher regions and finite in the lower regions. It is the “matter” out of which the bodies of gods, avatars, eternals, and liberated beings are made.
Shudra: A member of the laborer, servant caste.
Shukla: White; bright.
Shukla sannyasa: “White sannyasa.” The adoption of monastic life spontaneously, solely from a profound urge from within, without any formal external ritual or conferring of sannyasa by another person.
Shukta: Vedic hymn.
Shyama: “Dark one;” a name of Krishna because of his dark blue complexion, and also of Kali because of her dark or black complexion..
Shyama Charan Lahiri: See Lahiri Mahasaya.
Shyamasundara: “The beautiful dark one”–Krishna.
Sivananda (Swami): A great twentieth-century Master, founder of the world-wide Divine Life Society, whose books on spiritual life and religion are widely circulated in the West as well as in India.
Siddha: A perfected–liberated–being, an adept, a seer, a perfect yogi.
Siddhaloka: The highest realm of existence in which the fully liberated (siddhas) live. (However, wherever a siddha is, that place is siddhaloka.)
Siddhi: Spiritual perfection; psychic power; power; modes of success; attainment; accomplishment; achievement; mastery; supernatural power attained through mantra, meditation, or other yogic practices. From the verb root sidh–to attain.
Sita: The consort of Rama and daughter of King Janaka.
Skanda: See Subramunya.
Skandha: Group; aggregate.
Sloka: A Sanskrit verse. Usually it consists of two lines of sixteen syllables each, or four lines of eight syllables each.
Smarana(m): Remembrance (of God).
Smriti: Memory; recollection; “that which is remembered.” In this latter sense, Smriti is used to designate all scriptures except the Vedas and Upanishads (which are considered of greater authority).
Snana: Ritual bath in a sacred river, pond, lake, or ocean.
So’ham: “That am I,” the Ajapa Gayatri formula of meditation in which “So” is repeated mentally during natural inhalation and “Ham” is repeated mentally during natural exhalation.
So’ham Bhava: The state of being and awareness: “THAT I am.” Gorakhnath says that So’ham Bhava includes total Self-comprehension (ahamta), total Self-mastery (akhanda aishwarya), unbroken awareness of the unity of the Self (swatmata), awareness of the unity of the Self with all phenomenal existence–as the Self (vishwanubhava), knowledge of all within and without the Self–united in the Self (sarvajñatwa).
Soma: A milkweed, Ascelpias acida, whose juice in Vedic times was made into a beverage and offered in sacrifices; the nectar of immorality; a name of Chandra, the presiding deity of the moon.
Spanda: Vibration; expanding vibration; flutter; throb; movement; creative shakti; pulsation; creative pulsation; apparent motion in the motionless Shiva which brings about the manifestation, maintenance, and withdrawal of the universe; the principle of apparent movement from the state of absolute unity to the plurality of the world.
Sparsha: Touch; sense contact.
Sphatika: Clear quartz crystal.
Sphota: The Sanskrit original of our English word “spot;” manifester; the idea which bursts or flashes–including the Pranava which burst or flashes forth from the Absolute and becomes transformed into the Relative.
Sreyo marga: The path of the good or truly beneficial, as opposed to the path of the merely appealing, pleasant, pleasurable, or that which leads to worldly gain.
Sri: Holy; sacred; excellent; venerated (venerable); revered; a term of respect similar to “Reverend.” Also: prosperity, glory, and success–and therefore an epithet for Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and abundance, the consort of Vishnu. It is often used as an honorific prefix to the name of deities and holy persons to indicate holiness (Sri Krishna, Sri Swami N., etc.). Also used as the equivalent of the English “Mr.” (Srimati would be the equivalent of “Mrs.”)
Sri Yantra: The mystical diagram showing the movement of the spiritual energies inherent in and produced by the supreme mantra: Om. The Sri Yantra has also come to be identified with the energy-power of the Divine Mother, and if often worshipped by her devotees.
Sri Vaishnava: A worshipper of Vishnu according to the philosophical school of Sri Ramanuja known as Vishishtadvaita Vedanta (Qualified Non-Dualism).
Srimad Bhagavatam: One of the eighteen scriptures known as Puranas which are attributed to Vyasa. See Bhagavatam.
Srishti: Creation; projection or gradual unfoldment of what exists potentially in the cause; evolution of the universe from its seed state.
Sruti: Sacred scripture. The Vedas and Upanishads.
Stambha: Suspended; retention; stationary; fixed; to fix firmly; support; sustain; prop; pillar.
Sthala: Abode; place; hall.
Sthana: Position; abode; residence.
Sthira: Fixed; firm; still; steady; stable; enduring.
Sthirata (Sthirattwa): Steadiness or firmness of body or mind; the steady tranquillity born of meditation.
Sthitaprajna: Establishment in Divine Consciousness; one who is so established.
Sthiti: Steadiness; condition or state; existence; being; subsistence; preservation.
Sthula: Gross material; physical entity; atomic matter.
Sthula-sharira: Gross body; physical body; body of atomic matter.
Styana: Dullness; languor, debility; drooping state.
Stotra(m): Hymn in praise of God.
Subramanya: The god of war and son of Shiva and Parvati.
Sudarshana Chakra: The invincible weapon of Lord Vishnu which is able to cut through anything, and is a symbol of the Lord’s power of cutting through all things which bind the jiva to samsara. Thus it is the divine power of liberation (moksha).
Sukha: Happiness; ease; joy; happy; pleasant; agreeable.
Sukshma: Subtle; fine.
Sukshma: Subtle sense organ; sometimes applied to the mind itself.
Sukshma-sharira: Subtle body; astral body (also called linga sharira).
Sura: Divine being; deva; one who is filled with light.
Sureshwaracharya: Sureshwaracharya was a renowned disciple of Shankara.
Surya: The sun; the presiding deity of the sun, sometimes identified with Vishnu (Surya-Narayana) or the Absolute Brahman.
Surya-mandala: The circle (orbit) of the sun.
Suryanarayana: God (Narayana) in the form of the Sun (Surya).
Sushumna: A subtle passage in the midst of the spinal column, corresponding to the spinal cord, that extends from the base of the spine to the medulla oblongata in the head.
Sushupti: The dreamless sleep state.
Sutra: Literally: a thread. An aphorism with minimum words and maximum sense; a terse sentence.
Swa(r)loka: The median astral world.
Swara: Sound; accent; tone.
Swabhava: One’s own inherent disposition, nature, or potentiality; inherent state of mind; state of inner being.
Swadharma: One’s own natural (innate) duty (dharma), based on their karma and samskara. One’s own prescribed duty in life according to the eternal law.
Swadhishthana chakra: Energy center located in the spine a little less than midway between the base of the spine and the area opposite the navel. Seat of the Water element.
Swadhyaya: Introspective self-study or self-analysis leading to self-understanding. Study of spiritual texts regarding the Self.
Swaha: “It is offered.” Invocation at offerings to the gods. A mantra used when offering oblations to the sacrificial fire.
Swahananda Swami: Swami Swahananda is a senior monk of the Ramakrishna Order, a disciple of Swami Vijnanananda, a direct disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, and head of the Vedanta Society of Southern California.
Swaloka: The median astral world. See Swarloka.
Swami(n): Literally, “I am mine”–in the sense of absolute self-mastership. It could be legitimately translated: “He who is one with his Self [Swa].” It is often used in the sense of “lord” or owner as well as a spiritual guide or authority. God Himself is the ultimate Swami. As a matter of respect it is always used in reference to sannyasis, since they have vowed themselves to pursue the knowledge of the Self, or those considered to be of spiritual advancement.
Swapna: The dream state; a dream.
Swaprakasha: Self-luminous; self-illumined; self-revealing.
Swara: Sound; accent; tone.
Swarga/Swargaloka: Heaven; the celestial region; a place of light and happiness.
Swarloka: The highest of the three lower worlds–Bhur, Bhuvah, and Swah.
Swarupa: “Form of the Self.” Natural–true–form; actual or essential nature; essence. A revelatory appearance that makes clear the true nature of some thing.
Swarupasthiti: Established in the Self; firmly established in one’s own essential nature.
Swasti: “May it be well.: An expression of salutation meaning “may it be well with you.” Successful; fortune; well-being.
Swastika: Sign of auspiciousness.
Swayambhu: Self-existent or self-generated.
Swayamjyoti: Self-luminous; self-illumined.
Swayam prakash(a): Self-luminous; self-illumined.
Swatantra: “Self-rule;” independent; free; absolute freedom.
Taijasa: The dream self; the vital self; the “fiery.”
Taimni, I. K.: A professor of chemistry in India. He wrote many excellent books on philosophy and spiritual practice, including The Science of Yoga, a commentary on the Yoga Sutras. For many years he was the spiritual head of the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society headquartered in Adyar, Madras (Tamilnadu), and traveled the world without publicity or notoriety, quietly instructing many sincere aspirants in the path to supreme consciousness.
Tala: Place; world. See Loka.
Talu chakra: Energy center located at the root of the palate opposite the tip of the nose.
Tamas: Dullness, inertia, folly, and ignorance. One of the three gunas.
Tamasic: Possessed of the qualities of the tamo guna (tamas). Ignorant; dull; inert; and dark.
Tandava: Dance of Destruction (Dissolution of the Cosmos) of Lord Shiva.
Tanmatras: The pure elements; the subtle essence of the five elements, elemental essence.
Tantra: A manual of or a particular path of sadhana laying great stress upon japa of a mantra and other esoteric practices relating to the powers latent in the human complex of physical, astral, and causal bodies in relation to the cosmic Power usually thought of as the Divine Feminine.
Tantric: Pertaining to Tantra.
Tapa: Trouble; acute anxiety; anguish; suffering.
Tapa Loka: The world of tapasya; the world beyond rebirth where adept yogis perpetually engage in tapasya (yoga) until they attain liberation and pass upward into Satya Loka, the realm of the liberated ones who know Brahman.
Tapas: See tapasya.
Tapaswin: One who is practicing tapasya.
Tapasya: Austerity, practical (i.e., result-producing) spiritual discipline; spiritual force. Literally it means the generation of heat or energy, but is always used in a symbolic manner, referring to spiritual practice and its effect, especially the roasting of karmic seeds, the burning up of karma.
Tapatraya: Sufferings or afflictions of three kinds, to which mortals are subject: 1) those caused by one’s own body (adhyatmika), 2) those caused by beings around him (adhibhautika), and 3) those caused by devas (adhidaivika).
Tapoloka: The median causal world exclusively inhabited by advanced spirits who perpetually engage in meditation–tapasya.
Tara: Savior; Deliverer; a title of the Divine Mother.
Taraka Mantra: From the root word tara–that which crosses. The Taraka Mantra is that which enables its invokers to cross over the ocean of samsara and attain liberation.
Taraka Nama: The Delivering Name; Om.
Tarka: Reasoning; logic; argumentation; debate.
Tat Twam Asi: “Thou art That.” The Mahavakya (Great Saying) of the Chandogya Upanishad.
Tattwa: “Thatness.” Principle; element; the essence of things; truth; reality.
Tattwa jnana: Knowledge of Brahman; same as Brahmajnana.
Tejas: Radiance; brilliancy (especially spiritual); Agni; heat; the element of fire, from which the sense of sight (rupa) arises.
Tejomaya: Full of tejas; full of light; resplendent.
Thakur: “Master” or “Lord.” A reference to God or to a holy person considered to be one with God.
Tilaka: A sacred mark made on the forehead or between the eyebrows denoting what form of God the person worships.
Timira: Darkness; disease of the eye producing double vision or darkening the vision; glaucoma.
Tirtha: A sacred place of pilgrimage; a river or body of water in which it is auspicious and spiritual beneficial to bathe; the water offered in ritual worship and then sprinkled on or drunk by the devotees.
Titiksha: Endurance of opposites; forbearance; tolerance; the ability to withstand opposites like pleasure and pain, heat and cold, etc., with equal fortitude; the bearing of all afflictions without caring to change them and without anxiety or lament.
Tivra Mumukshutva: Intense, earnest and consuming desire for liberation (moksha).
Trataka: Steady gazing; the process of fixing the gaze on a small dot, point, yantra, etc.
Treta Yuga: The Silver Age. See Yuga.
Triguna: The three gunas or qualities: sattwa, rajas, and tamas. (See the entry under Guna).
Trigunatita: Beyond the three gunas.
Triloka: The three worlds: Bhur, Bhuvah, and Swah.
Trimurti: “The three forms”–Brahman, Vishnu, and Shiva, the Hindu “Trinity.”
Triputi: “The triple form.” The triad of: knowing, knower, and object known; cognizer, object, and cognition; seer, sight, and seen.
Trishna: Thirst; craving; desire.
Triveni: The confluence of the three sacred rivers: Ganges, Jumna (Yamuna), and Saraswati, located outside the sacred city of Rudraprayag (called Allahabad in modern times). Considered the most place for purificatory bathing.
Tukaram: A poet-saint of seventeenth century India (Maharashtra) devoted to Krishna in his form of Panduranga (Vittala).
Tulasi (Tulsi): The Indian basil plant sacred to Vishnu. Considered a manifestation of the goddess Lakshmi. Its leaves are used in worship of Vishnu and his avataras, and its stems and roots are formed into rosary beads used for counting the repetition of the mantras of Vishnu and his avataras. The leaves of tulasi are also used for purification and even medicinally.
Turiya: The state of pure consciousness. A Ramakrishna-Vedanta Wordbook defines it as: “The superconscious; lit., ‘the fourth,’ in relation to the three ordinary states of consciousness–waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep–which it transcends.”
Turiya-Turiya: “The consciousness of Consciousness;” the Absolute Consciousness of God, the Consciousness behind our individualized consciousness (turiya).
Tushti(s): Contentment; satisfaction; satisfaction, contentment, or happiness with the status quo.
Tyaga: Literally: “abandonment.” Renunciation–in the Gita, the relinquishment of the fruit of action.
Tyagi: A renouncer, an ascetic.
Uchchaishravas: The name of Indra’s horse (or the horse of the Sun god, Surya), that was born of the amrita that was churned from the ocean by the gods. The name means “high-sounding” and refers to the power of mantra.
Uchchishta[m]: The remnants of food eaten by others, the actual leavings from someone’s plate, considered extremely unclean physically and psychically. (This does not apply to food left in a serving dish or cooking vessel unless someone ate from it rather than serving it on their own dish.)
Udana: The prana which brings up or carries down what has been drunk or eaten; the general force of assimilation.
Udgitha: The Pranava [Om] when it is sung aloud in Vedic recitation.
Uma: See Parvati.
Upadesha: Spiritual instruction.
Upadhi: Adjunct; association; superimposed thing or attribute that veils and gives a colored view of the substance beneath it; limiting adjunct; instrument; vehicle; body; a technical term used in Vedanta philosophy for any superimposition that gives a limited view of the Absolute and makes It appear as the relative.
Upanayana(m): Investure with the sacred thread (yajnopavita) and initiation into the Gayatri mantra.
Upanishads: Books (of varying lengths) of the philosophical teachings of the ancient sages of India on the knowledge of Absolute Reality. The upanishads contain two major themes: (1) the individual self (atman) and the Supreme Self (Paramatman) are one in essence, and (2) the goal of life is the realization/manifestation of this unity, the realization of God (Brahman). There are eleven principal upanishads: Isha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitareya, Chandogya, Brihadaranyaka, and Shvetashvatara, all of which were commented on by Shankara, thus setting the seal of authenticity on them.
Uparati: Uparati is the power–once the sense have been restricted–to ensure that they may not once again be drawn toward worldly objects; indifference toward the enjoyment of sense-objects; surfeit; discontinuance of religious ceremonies following upon renunciation; absolute calmness; tranquillity; renunciation.
Upasana: “Sitting near” or “drawing near;” worship; adoration; contemplation of God or deity; devout meditation; both teaching and learning.
Upasaka: One who engages in upasana.
Urdhvareta yogi: The yogi in whom the seminal energy flows upwards.
Ushmapas: A class of ancestors (pitris) which live off subtle emanations or vapors.
Utsava: Festival; celebration.
Utsava murti: The image of a deity that is taken out in procession rather than the main image in the temple which is usually permanently affixed to a stone pedestal.
Uttama: Highest; superior; best.
Uttarayana: “Northern way.” The half of the year beginning on the winter solstice (December 21) when the sun appears to be moving northward.
Vach: Word; Divine Word; logos; speech.
Vachaka: That which is denoted by speech.
Vachya: That which is denoted by speech.
Vahana: Vehicle; conveyance.
Vaikhari: Sound that is spoken and heard.
Vaikuntha: The celestial abode (loka) of Vishnu and His devotees.
Vairagi: A renunciate.
Vairagya: Non-attachment; detachment; dispassion; absence of desire; disinterest; or indifference. Indifference towards and disgust for all worldly things and enjoyments.
Vaishnava: A devotee of Vishnu.
Vaishvanara: Universal Being; the Self of the waking state; the sum-total of the created beings; Brahman in the form of the universe; Cosmic Fire.
Vaishya: A member of the merchant, farmer, artisan, businessman caste.
Vajra: Diamond; thunderbolt–the special weapon of Indra, king of the gods.
Vak: Speech; voice, world; Primoridal Word (Om); Logos.
Vakya: Word or statement.
Valmiki: The first poet of India, author of the Ramayana.
Vanaprastha: Literally: a forest (vana) dweller. The third stage of life (ashrama) in which, leaving home and children, the husband and wife dwell together in seclusion and contemplation as a preparation to taking sannyasa.
Varna: Caste. (Literally: color.) In traditional Hindu society there were four divisions or castes according to the individual’s nature and aptitude: Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra.
Varnashrama: Related to the four castes and the four stages (ashramas) of Hindu life; the laws of caste and ashrama.
Varnashram dharma: The observance of caste and ashram.
Varshneya: Clansman of the Vrishnis–a title of Krishna.
Varuna: A Vedic deity considered the sustainer of the universe and also the presiding deity of the oceans and water. Often identified with the conscience.
Vasana: A bundle or aggregate of similar samskaras. Subtle desire; a tendency created in a person by the doing of an action or by enjoyment; it induces the person to repeat the action or to seek a repetition of the enjoyment; the subtle impression in the mind capable of developing itself into action; it is the cause of birth and experience in general; the impression of actions that remains unconsciously in the mind.
Vasanakshaya: Annihilation of subtle desires and impressions.
Vashikara: Mastery; control (especially complete control); power.
Vashishtha: One of the most famous of Vedic seers (rishis).
Vasudeva: “He who dwells in all things”–the Universal God; the father of Krishna, who is also sometimes called Vasudeva.
Vasuki: The king of the serpents. He assisted at the churning of the milk ocean.
Vasus: Eight Vedic deities characterized by radiance.
Vasyata: Mastery; control; obedience.
Vayu (1): The Vedic god of the wind.
Vayu (2): Air; the element of air, from which the sense of touch (sparsha) arises.
Veda: Knowledge, wisdom, revealed scripture. See Vedas.
Vedanta: Literally, “the end of the Vedas;” the Upanishads; the school of Hindu thought, based primarily on the Upanishads, upholding the doctrine of either pure non-dualism or conditional non-dualism. The original text of this school is Vedanta-darshana or the Brahma Sutras compiled by the sage Vyasa.
Vedanta Sutras: The Brahma Sutras.
Vedantin: A follower of Vedanta.
Vedas: The oldest scriptures of India, considered the oldest scriptures of the world, that were revealed in meditation to the Vedic Rishis (seers). Although in modern times there are said to be four Vedas (Rig, Sama, Yajur, and Atharva), in the upanishads only three are listed (Rig, Sama, and Yajur). In actuality, there is only one Veda: the Rig Veda. The Sama Veda is only a collection of Rig Veda hymns that are marked (pointed) for singing. The Yajur Veda is a small book giving directions on just one form of Vedic sacrifice. The Atharva Veda is only a collection of theurgical mantras to be recited for the cure of various afflictions or to be recited over the herbs to be taken as medicine for those afflictions.
Vedic: Having to do with the Vedas.
Vega: Motion; velocity; inertia.
Vibhu: All-pervasive; great.
Vibhuti (1): Manifestations of divine power or glory; might; prosperity; welfare; splendor; exalted rank; greatness; miraculous powers; superhuman power resembling that of God (Ishwara). The quality of all-pervasiveness (omnipresence). Also sacred ash from a fire sacrifice.
Vibhuti (2): Sacred ash from a fire sacrifice.
Vichara: Subtle thought; reflection; enquiry; introspection; investigation; enquiry/investigation into the nature of the Self, Brahman or Truth; ever-present reflection on the why and wherefore of things; enquiry into the real meaning of the Mahavakya Tat-twam-asi: Thou art That; discrimination between the Real and the unreal; enquiry of Self.
Videhamukti: Disembodied salvation; salvation attained by the realized soul after shaking off the physical sheath as opposed to jivanmukti which is liberation even while living.
Vidvan: A knower; usually applied to a knower of the Self as distinct from the body; one who is learned; an expert in all aspects of the Sanskrit language.
Vidvat sannyasa: Renunciation after the attainment of the knowledge of Brahman. Asceticism resorted to by the wise (jnanis) and perfected ones (siddhas). Renunciation by the wise.
Vidya: Knowledge; both spiritual knowledge and mundane knowledge.
Vidyapith(a): A school.
Vijaya: Victory; triumph.
Vijnana: Supreme knowledge; supreme wisdom; supreme realization.
Vijnana: Buddhi; intellect.
Vijnanamaya kosha: The jnanamaya kosha, the buddhi.
Vijnani: One endowed with vijnana.
Vikalpa: Imagination; fantasy; mental construct; abstraction; conceptualization; hallucination; distinction; experience; thought; oscillation of the mind.
Vikara: Change, change of form, or modification–generally with reference to the modification of the mind, individually or cosmically.; gluiness; manifestation.
Vikshepa: Distractions; causes of distractions; projection; false projection; the tossing of the mind which obstructs concentration.
Vilwa: See Bel.
Vimala: Purity; unblemished; without stain or defect.
Vimarsha: Consideration; examination; test; reasoning; discussion; knowledge; intelligence; reflection.
Vinaya: Humility; sense of propriety; manners; rule of conduct; education; mental culture and refinement; discipline.
Vipaka: A type of transformation; ripening; resultant; fruition.
Viparyaya: Erroneous congition; wrong knowledge; illusion; misapprehension; distraction of mind.
Vipra: “Twice-born.” A term usually applied to those that have been invested with the yajnopavita (sacred thread) and initiated into the Gayatri mantra. Since the Kshatriya and Vaishya castes no longer do this, today vipra almost exclusively means a Brahmin. Vipra can also be meant in a spiritual manner, indicated one that has been “born” spiritually as well as physically.
Viraj: The macrocosm; the manifested universe; the world man–the masculine potency in nature in contradistinction to the feminine potency.
Viraja homa: “Universal homa;” the final fire sacrifice done just before taking sannyas in which offerings are made to all living beings in petition for their releasing of the prospective sannyasin from all karmic obligations he might have in relation to them.
Virat: The cosmic form of the Self as the cause of the gross world; the all-pervading Spirit in the form of the universe.
Virochana: King of the demons (asuras). According to the Chandogya Upanishad, along with Indra he went to the Creator to learn the nature of the Self. Misunderstanding the teaching: “Virochana, satisfied for his part that he had found out the Self, returned to the demons and began to teach them that the body alone is to be worshiped, that the body alone is to be served, and that he who worships the body and serves the body gains both worlds, this and the next.”
Virodhat: Opposition; conflict; contradiction.
Virya: Strength; power; energy; courage.
Vishaya (1): Object; object of perception (sensory experience) or enjoyment; subject matter; content; areas; range; field-object domain; sphere; realm, scope; matters of enjoyment or experience.
Vishaya (2): Doubt.
Vishaya-chaitanya: Consciousness as objects; the object known; the consciousness determined by the object cognized.
Vishayavritti: Thought of sensual objects.
Vishesha: Special; distinctive qualification; distinguishable; particularity; propriety.
Vishishta: Qualified; particularity.
Vishishtadvaita Vedanta: The philosophy of Qualified Non-Dualism formulated by Sri Ramanuja.
Vishnu: “The all-pervading;” God as the Preserver.
Vishoka: Blissful; serene; free of grief, suffering or sorrow.
Vishuddha: Supremely pure; totally pure.
Vishuddha chakra: “Supreme purity.” Energy center located in the spine opposite the hollow of the throat. Seat of the Ether element.
Vishuddhi: Supreme purity; total purity.
Vishwa: Universe; all pervasive.
Vishwa-devas: A group of twelve minor Vedic deities.
Vishwanatha: “Lord of the Universe;” a title of Shiva, often applied to his temple in Varanasi (Benares).
Vishwaprana: Universal Life or Prana.
Vishwarupa: Universal/Cosmic Form (see chapter eleven of the Bhagavad Gita); multiform having all forms.
Vitaraga: Free from attachment (raga); one who has abandoned desire/attachment; a sannyasi.
Vitarka: Thought; reasoning; cogitation with sense perception; discussion; debate; logical argument.
Vittaishana: Desire for wealth.
Vitthala: A title of Krishna, meaning “the one standing on a brick,” a reference to the image of Krishna worshipped in Pandharpur in Western India.
Vivarta: Illusory appearance; doctrine of creation as an illusory appearance/manifestation of the Absolute; seeming change; superimposition; appearance..
Vivarta-vada: Phenomenalism. See Vivarta.
Viveka: Discrimination between the Real and the unreal, between the Self and the non-Self, between the permanent and the impermanent; right intuitive discrimination.
Vivekananda (Swami): The chief disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, who brought the message of Vedanta to the West at the end of the nineteenth century.
Viveki: One who possesses discrimination (viveka).
Vividisha sannyasa: Renunciation for the purpose of knowing Brahman.
Vrata: Vow; a resolution; rule of conduct.
Vritti: Thought-wave; mental modification; mental whirlpool; a ripple in the chitta (mind substance).
Vyadhi: Disease of the body.
Vyakta: Manifest(ed); revealed.
Vyana: The prana that holds prana and apana together and produces circulation in the body.
Vyasa: One of the greatest sages of India, commentator on the Yoga Sutras, author of the Mahabharata (which includes the Bhagavad Gita), the Brahma Sutras, and the codifier of the Vedas.
Vyasti: Individual; microcosm.
Vyavahara: Worldly activity; relative activity as opposed to Absolute Being; empirical/phenomenal world; worldly relation.
Vyoma: Ether (akasha); the sky.
Vyutthana: Rising up; awakening; emergence; externalization; outgoing; rising; waking state; a stage in Yoga.
Word-Brahman: Om; Shabda Brahman.
Yajna: Sacrifice; offering; sacrificial ceremony; a ritual sacrifice; usually the fire sacrifice known as agnihotra or havan.
Yajnavalkya: A great Vedic seer whose teachings are found in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad.
Yajnaypitha: See Yajnasthala.
Yajnasthala: An open sided, roofed structure in which the fire sacrifice is performed.
Yajnopavita: Sacred thread. A triple thread worn by the twice-born (dwijas) that represents the threefold Brahman. It is essential for the performance of all the rites of the twice-born. Usually worn only by Brahmins, originally it was worn by Kshatriyas and Vaishyas as well.
Yajnopavitin: Wearer of the sacred thread (yajnopavita).
Yaksha: There are two kinds of yakshas: 1) semidivine beings whose king is Kubera, the lord of wealth, or 2) a kind of ghost, goblin, or demon.
Yama (1): Restraint; the five Don’ts of Yoga: 1) ahimsa–non-violence, non-injury, harmlessness; 2) satya–truthfulness, honesty; 3) asteya–non-stealing, honesty, non-misappropriativeness; 4) brahmacharya–continence; 5) aparigraha–non-possessiveness, non-greed, non-selfishness, non-acquisitiveness.
Yama (2): The Lord of Death, controller of who dies and what happens to them after death.
Yantra: Geometrical designs of the energy patterns made by mantras when they are recited or which, when concentrated on produce the effects of the corresponding mantras. Though often attributed to deities, they are really the diagrams of the energy movements of those deities’ mantras.
Yasha(s): Fame; celebrity; good repute.
Yati: “Wanderer;” a wandering ascetic.
Yoga: Literally, “joining” or “union” from the Sanskrit root yuj. Union with the Supreme Being, or any practice that makes for such union. Meditation that unites the individual spirit with God, the Supreme Spirit. The name of the philosophy expounded by the sage Patanjali, teaching the process of union of the individual with the Universal Soul.
Yoga Darshan(a): Hinduism embraces six systems of philosophy, one of which is Yoga. The basic text of the Yoga philosophy–Yoga Darshana–is the Yoga Sutras (also called Yoga Darshana), the oldest known writing on the subject of yoga, written by the sage Patanjali, a yogi of ancient India. Further, the Yoga Philosophy is based on the philosophical system known as Sankhya, whose originator was the sage Kapila.
Yoga Marga: The path of meditation and inner purification leading to union with God.
Yoga Maya: The power of Maya–divine illusion. Maya in operation rising from the presence (union–yoga) of Ishwara within it, and therefore possessing delusive power.
Yoga Nidra: A state of half-contemplation and half-sleep; light yogic sleep when the individual retains slight awareness; a state between sleep and wakefulness. In its higher sense Yoga Nidra is the state in which the yogi experiences pure consciousness within the state of dreamless sleep, when he is neither awake nor asleep in the usual sense. And in the highest sense Yoga Nidra is the state in which the three “normal” states of waking, sleep, and deep sleep have become transmuted into the turiya state of pure consciousness and the yogi remains “asleep” in relation to those three lesser states.
Yoga Siddhi: Spiritual perfection or psychic power resulting from the practice of Yoga.
Yoga Sutras: The oldest known writing on the subject of yoga, written by the sage Patanjali, a yogi of ancient India, and considered the most authoritative text on yoga. Also known as Yoga Darshana, it is the basis of the Yoga Philosophy which is based on the philosophical system known as Sankhya.
Yoga Vashishtha: A classical treatise on Yoga, containing the instructions of the Rishi Vashishtha to Lord Rama on meditation and spiritual life.
Yogabhrashta: One who has fallen away from the practice of Yoga.
Yogabhyasa: Practice of Yoga.
Yogananda (Paramhansa): The most influential yogi of the twentieth century in the West, author of Autobiography of a Yogi and founder of Self-Realization Fellowship in America.
Yogeshwara: Lord of Yoga; a Master Yogi; a title of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.
Yogi: One who practises Yoga; one who strives earnestly for union with God; an aspirant going through any course of spiritual discipline.
Yogic: Having to do with Yoga.
Yogini: A female practicer of yoga.
Yogiraj: “King of Yogis,” a title often given to an advanced yogi, especially a teacher of yogi.
Yojana: A measure of distance equivalent to nine or ten miles.
Yuga: Age or cycle; aeon; world era. Hindus believe that there are four yugas: the Golden Age (Satya or Krita Yuga), the Silver age (Treta Yuga), The Bronze Age (Dwapara Yuga), and the Iron Age (Kali Yuga). Satya Yuga is four times as long as the Kali Yuga; Treta Yuga is three times as long; and Dwapara Yuga is twice as long. In the Satya Yuga the majority of humans use the total potential–four-fourths–of their minds; in the Treta Yuga, three-fourths; in the Dwapara Yuga, one half; and in the Kali Yuga, one fourth. (In each Yuga there are those who are using either more or less of their minds than the general populace.) The Yugas move in a perpetual circle: Ascending Kali Yuga, ascending Dwapara Yuga, ascending Treta Yuga, ascending Satya Yuga, descending Satya Yuga, descending, Treta Yuga, descending Dwapara Yuga, and descending Kali Yuga–over and over. Furthermore, there are yuga cycles within yuga cycles. For example, there are yuga cycles that affect the entire cosmos, and smaller yuga cycles within those greater cycles that affect a solar system. The cosmic yuga cycle takes 8,640,000,000 years, whereas the solar yuga cycle only takes 24,000 years. At the present time our solar system is in the ascending Dwapara Yuga, but the cosmos is in the descending Kali Yuga. Consequently, the more the general mind of humanity develops, the more folly and evil it becomes able to accomplish.
Yukti (1): Union or Yoga.
Yukti (2): Reasoning (about something; skill; cleverness; device.