Abhimana: Egoism; conceit; attachment; I-sense; pride; the function of the ego; the delusion of “me” and “mine;” identification with the body.
Abhinivesha: Clinging to earthly life; will to live; strong desire; false identification of the Self with the body or mind; an instinctive clinging to life and a dread of death.
Acharya: Preceptor; teacher; spiritual teacher/ guide; guru.
Adhidaivika: Pertaining, to the heaven or the celestial beings.
Adhyatmika: Adhyatmic; pertaining to the Self (Atma), individual and Supreme.
Ajnana: Ignorance; nescience.
Amrita: That which makes one immortal. The nectar of immortality that emerged from the ocean of milk when the gods churned it.
Ananda: Bliss; happiness; joy. A fundamental attribute of Brahman, which is Satchidananda: Existence, Consciousness, Bliss.
Antaratma(n): Inner Self; conscience.
Apara: Lower; lower knowledge; other; relative; inferior.
Asamprajñata samadhi: Highest superconscious state where the mind and the ego-sense are completely annihilated. Superconscious union; a stage in samadhi wherein one is not conscious of any object and in the mind ceases to function.
Asara: Without essence; dry; barren; worthless.
Ashram(a): A place for spiritual discipline and study, usually a monastic residence.
Atma(n): The individual spirit or Self that is one with Brahman. The true nature or identity.
Atmavichara: Enquiry into the Self.
Atmic: Having to do with the atma–spirit or self.
Atyantabhava: Complete non-existence; extreme unreality, like the horn of a rabbit or a lotus in the sky or the son of a barren woman.
Avatar(a): A fully liberated spirit (jiva) who is born into a world below Satya Loka to help others attain liberation. Though commonly referred to as a divine incarnation, an avatar actually is totally one with God, and therefore an incarnation of God-Consciousness.
Bhakta: Devotee; votary; a follower of the path of bhakti, divine love; a worshipper of the Personal God.
Bhakti: Devotion; dedication; love (of God).
Bhava: Subjective state of being (existence); attitude of mind; mental attitude or feeling; state of realization in the heart or mind.
Bhedabuddhi: The intellect that creates differences: the vyavaharika buddhi that diversifies everything as opposed to the paramartika buddhi that unifies everything.
Bhiksha: Almsfood; food obtained by begging or that is offered to a monk.
Bhuma: The unconditioned Infinite; Brahman.
Brahma: The Creator (Prajapati) of the three worlds of men, angels, and archangels (Bhur, Bhuwah, and Swah); the first of the created beings; Hiranyagarbha or cosmic intelligence.
Brahmabhava(na): Feeling of identity with Brahman, as well as of everything as Brahman.
Brahmacharya: Continence; self-restraint on all levels; discipline; dwelling in Brahman.
Brahmajnana: Direct, transcendental knowledge of Brahman; Self-realization.
Brahmakaravritti: The sole ultimate thought of Brahman alone to the exclusion of all other thoughts that is arrived at through intense Vedantic meditation.
Brahman: The Absolute Reality; the Truth proclaimed in the Upanishads; the Supreme Reality that is one and indivisible, infinite, and eternal; all-pervading, changeless Existence; Existence-knowledge-bliss Absolute (Satchidananda); Absolute Consciousness; it is not only all-powerful but all-power itself; not only all-knowing and blissful but all-knowledge and all-bliss itself.
Buddhi: Intellect; intelligence; understanding; reason; the thinking mind; the higher mind, which is the seat of wisdom; the discriminating faculty.
Chakra: Wheel. Plexus; center of psychic energy in the human system, particularly in the spine or head.
Charanamrita: Water sanctified by bathing the feet of a deity or of a holy man with it.
Chitta-shuddhi: Purity or clarity or the chitta; purification or clarification of the chitta.
Crore: Ten million.
Darshan: Literally “sight” or “seeing;” vision, literal and metaphysical; a system of philosophy (see Sad-darshanas). Darshan is the seeing of a holy being as well as the blessing received by seeing such a one.
Deva: “A shining one,” a god–greater or lesser in the evolutionary hierarchy; a semi-divine or celestial being with great powers, and therefore a “god.” Sometimes called a demi-god. Devas are the demigods presiding over various powers of material and psychic nature. In many instances “devas” refer to the powers of the senses or the sense organs themselves.
Devata: Godhead; god; divinity; celestial being. See Deva.
Dosha: Defect; imperfection; blemish; fault; shortcoming. In Yoga philosophy there are five doshas: lust (kama), anger (krodha), greed (lobha), delusion (moha), and envy (matsarya).
Dosha drishti: Seeing the defects in samsara and samsaric life.
Dwesha: Aversion/avoidance for something, implying a dislike for it. This can be emotional (instinctual) or intellectual. It may range from simple non-preference to intense repulsion, antipathy and even hatred. See Raga.
Ghee: Clarified butter.
Guna: Quality, attribute, or characteristic arising from nature (Prakriti) itself; a mode of energy behavior. As a rule, when “guna” is used it is in reference to the three qualities of Prakriti, the three modes of energy behavior that are the basic qualities of nature, and which determine the inherent characteristics of all created things. They are: 1) sattwa–purity, light, harmony; 2) rajas–activity, passion; and 3) tamas–dullness, inertia, and ignorance.
Indra: King of the lesser “gods” (demigods); the ruler of heaven; the rain-god.
Indriya: Organ. The five organs of perception (jnanendriyas) are the ear, skin, eye, tongue, and nose. The five organs of action (karmendriyas) are the voice, hand, foot, organ of excretion, and the organ of generation.
Jada: Inert; insentient; unconscious; matter.
Janaka: The royal sage (raja rishi) who was the king of Mithila and a liberated yogi, a highly sought-after teacher of philosophy in ancient India. Sita, the wife of Rama, was his adopted daughter.
Japa: Repetition of a mantra.
Jiva: Individual spirit.
Jivanmukta: One who is liberated here and now in this present life.
Jnana: Knowledge; knowledge of Reality–of Brahman, the Absolute; also denotes the process of reasoning by which the Ultimate Truth is attained. The word is generally used to denote the knowledge by which one is aware of one’s identity with Brahman.
Jnanagni: Fire of spiritual knowledge or wisdom.
Jnani: A follower of the path of knowledge (jnana); one who has realized–who knows–the Truth (Brahman).
Kalpataru: “The wish-fulfilling tree.” The celestial tree of Hindu mythology, which grants all that a person standing or sitting under it desires.
Kamandalu: A water vessel carried by a traveling sannyasi; usually made of a gourd or coconut shell, it may also be earthenware. The kamandalu and staff (danda) are considered the insignia of the sannyasi along with gerua clothing.
Karanavairagya: Dispassion caused through some misery, disappointment or failure in life.
Karma: Karma, derived from the Sanskrit root kri, which means to act, do, or make, means any kind of action, including thought and feeling. It also means the effects of action. Karma is both action and reaction, the metaphysical equivalent of the principle: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). It is karma operating through the law of cause and effect that binds the jiva or the individual soul to the wheel of birth and death. There are three forms of karma: sanchita, agami, and prarabdha. Sanchita karma is the vast store of accumulated actions done in the past, the fruits of which have not yet been reaped. Agami karma is the action that will be done by the individual in the future. Prarabdha karma is the action that has begun to fructify, the fruit of which is being reaped in this life.
Karma Yoga: The Yoga of selfless (unattached ) action; performance of one’s own duty; service of humanity.
Kartritva: Doership; agency of action.
Kundalini: The primordial cosmic energy located in the individual; it is usually thought of as lying coiled up like a serpent at the base of the spine.
Lila: Play; sport; divine play; the cosmic play. The concept that creation is a play of the divine, existing for no other reason than for the mere joy of it. The life of an avatar is often spoken of as lila.
Mahatma: Literally: “a great soul [atma].” Usually a designation for a sannyasi, sage or saint.
Manana: Thinking, pondering, reflecting, considering.
Mara: The embodiment of the power of cosmic evil, illusion, and delusion; Satan.
Mauna(m): Silence–not speaking.
Maya: The illusive power of Brahman; the veiling and the projecting power of the universe, the power of Cosmic Illusion. “The Measurer”–a reference to the two delusive “measures,” Time and Space.
Mayic: Having to do with Maya.
Meru: The mountain, of supreme height, on which the gods dwell, or the mountain on which Shiva is ever seated in meditation, said to be the center of the world, supporting heaven itself–obviously a yogic symbol of the spinal column or merudanda. The name of the central bead on a japa mala (rosary).
Mithyabhimana: False egoism.
Mithyasambandha: False relationship.
Moha: Delusion–in relation to something, usually producing delusive attachment or infatuation based on a completely false perception and evaluation of the object.
Moksha: Release; liberation; the term is particularly applied to the liberation from the bondage of karma and the wheel of birth and death; Absolute Experience.
Mrityu(h): Death; of death; a title of Yama, the Lord of Death.
Mukti: Moksha; liberation.
Mumukshutwa: Intense desire or yearning for liberation (moksha).
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.
Niratisaya Ananda: Eternal, infinite bliss; the highest bliss above which bliss there is none other.
Nirupadhika: Unconditioned; without any limiting adjunct.
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.
Nishkama: Without desire.
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).
Nivritti: Negation; the path of turning away from worldly activity; withdrawal. Literally, “to turn back.” The path of renunciation.
Nivritti Marga: The path of renunciation or sannyasa, of withdrawal from the world.
Padmasana: Lotus posture; considered the best posture for meditation.
Paramarthika (paramarthic): The Absolute; the absolutely real; in an absolute sense, as opposed to vyavaharika or relative.
Paravairagya: Highest type of dispassion; the mind turns away completely from worldly objects and cannot be brought back to them under any circumstances.
Paripurna: All-full; self-contained.
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 submerged 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.
Prana: Life; vital energy; life-breath; life-force; inhalation. 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.
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. It also means the refining (making subtle) of the breath, and its lengthening through spontaneous slowing down of the respiratory rate.
Pratishta: Establishment; installation (see Pranapratishta); firm resting; reputation; fame. Gross matter; earth (from prati: “down upon” and stha: “to stand.”
Prema: Love; divine love (for God).
Puja: Worship; ceremonial (ritual) worship; adoration; honor. Usually involving the image of a deity.
Pundit: Scholar; pandita; learned individual.
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.
Raga: Blind love; attraction; attachment that binds the soul to the universe. 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.
Rajas: Activity, passion, desire for an object or goal.
Rajasic: Possessed of the qualities of the raja guna (rajas). Passionate; active; restless.
Rajkumar: Crown prince.
Rajoguna: Activity, passion, desire for an object or goal.
Sadhana: Spiritual practice.
Sadhu: Seeker for truth (sat); a person who is practicing spiritual disciplines. Usually this term is applied only to monastics.
Sakshatakara: Self-realization; direct experience; experience of Absoluteness; Brahmajnana.
Samadhi: The state of superconsciousness where Absoluteness is experienced attended with all-knowledge and joy; Oneness; here 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.
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.
Samskara: Impression in the mind, either conscious or subconscious, produced by action or experience in this or previous lives; propensities of the mental residue of impressions; subliminal activators; prenatal tendency. See Vasana.
Sannyas(a): Renunciation; monastic life. Sannyasa literally means “total [san] throwing away [as],” absolute rejection.
Sannyasi(n): A renunciate; a monk.
Satchidananda: Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute; Brahman.
Satsang(a): Literally: “company with Truth.” Association with godly-minded persons. The company of saints and devotees.
Sattwa: Light; purity; harmony, goodness, reality.
Sattwa Guna: Quality of light, purity, harmony, and goodness.
Sattwic: Partaking of the quality of Sattwa.
Satya Loka: “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.
Shankara: Shankaracharya; Adi (the first) Shankaracharya: The great reformer and re-establisher of Vedic Religion in India around 500 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.
Shanti: Peace; calm; tranquility; contentment.
Shastra: Scripture; spiritual treatise.
Shravana: Hearing; study; listening to reading of the scriptures or instruction in spiritual life.
Shuddha: Pure; clear; clean; untainted.
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.
Sloka: A Sanskrit verse. Usually it consists of two lines of sixteen syllables each, or four lines of eight syllables each.
Soshana: Emaciation; drying.
Stambhana: Arresting; stopping; stupefaction.
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.
Tamas: Dullness, darkness, inertia, folly, and ignorance.
Tapana: Inflaming; burning.
Tapas: See 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.
Tapaswi(n): Ascetic; one who is practicing Tapas.
Trishna: Thirst; craving; desire.
Tyaga: Literally: “abandonment.” Renunciation–in the Gita, the relinquishment of the fruit of action.
Unmadana: Intoxication; maddening.
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, Ramanuja and Madhavacharya, thus setting the seal of authenticity on them.
Vairagi: A renunciate.
Vairagya: Non-attachment; detachment; dispassion; absence of desire; disinterest; or indifference. Indifference towards and disgust for all worldly things and enjoyments.
Vasana: Subtle desire; a tendency created in a person by the doing of an action or by experience; it induces the person to repeat the action or to seek a repetition of the experience; 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.
Vasana(s): A bundle or aggregate of such samskaras.
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, the Brahma Sutras compiled by the sage Vyasa.
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.
Virasa: Without essence.
Vishaya: Object; object of perception (sensory experience) or enjoyment; subject matter; content; areas; range; field-object domain; sphere; realm, scope; matters of enjoyment or experience.
Viveka: Discrimination between the Real and the unreal, between the Self and the non-Self, between the permanent and the impermanent; right intuitive discrimination.
Viveka-purvaka-vairagya: Vairagya arising from discrimination (viveka) between the real and the unreal.
Viveki: One who possesses discrimination (viveka).
Vyavahara: Worldly activity; relative activity as opposed to Absolute Being; phenomenal world; worldly relation; worldly life which is the basis of all one’s practical movements.
Vyavaharika: Practical; phenomenal; empirical; relative.
Yama: Yamaraja; the Lord of Death, controller of who dies and what happens to them after death.
Yogabhrashta: One who has fallen from the high state of Yoga.
Yoga Vashishtha: A classical treatise on Yoga, containing the instructions of the Rishi Vashishta to Lord Rama on meditation and spiritual life.
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.