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.
Abhyasa: Sustained (constant) spiritual practice.
Abhyasa Yoga: Yoga, or union with God, through sustained spiritual practice.
Adhyatmika: Adhyatmic; pertaining to the Self (Atma), individual and Supreme.
Advaitic: Non-dual; having to do with the philosophy of Advaita (Non-Dualism).
Agnihotra: “Fire offering;” a Vedic fire sacrifice.
Akshara: Imperishable; indestructible, immutable, undying; undecaying; unchanging–all in reference to the individual self and the Supreme Self, Brahman. It also means syllable and is used in reference to the ekakshara–the one syllable, the One Imperishable: Om.
Anandamaya: Full of bliss.
Anandamaya kosha: “The sheath of bliss (ananda).” The causal body (karana sharira). The borderline of the Self (atman).
Anitya: Impermanent; transient.
Antarmukha: Literally “inner face”–inward vision or perception.
Antarmukha vritti: A state in which the mind is turned inwards and is withdrawn from objects.
Anubhava: Perception; direct personal experience; identity of the Jiva with Brahman; spiritual experience; intuitive consciousness and knowledge.
Apara: Lower; lower knowledge; other; relative; inferior.
Aparoksha anubhuti: The direct, immediate, intuitive experience or perception of the invisible–the realization of Brahman. The title of a treatise on Advaita Vedanta by Shankaracharya.
Apta: Competent person; a sage or an adept; a wellwisher.
Aradhana: Worship of the Divine; adoration; self-surrender.
Arya(n): One who is an Arya–literally, “one who strives upward.” Both Arya and Aryan are exclusively psychological terms having nothing whatsoever to do with birth, race, or nationality. In his teachings Buddha habitually referred to spiritually qualified people as “the Aryas.” Although in English translations we find the expressions: “The Four Noble Truths,” and “The Noble Eightfold Path,” Buddha actually said: “The Four Aryan Truths,” and “The Eightfold Aryan Path.”
Arya Samaj: The organization founded by Maharshi Dayananda Saraswati in the nineteenth century to encourage the restoration of the more ancient and simple forms of original Vedic religion.
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.
Asat: Unreal[ity]; nonbeing; nonexistence; false; falsehood.
Ashram(a): A place for spiritual discipline and study, usually a monastic residence. Also a stage of life. In Hinduism life is divided ideally into four stages (ashramas): 1) the celibate student life (brahmacharya); 2) the married household life (grihasta); 3) the life of retirement (seclusion) and contemplation (vanaprastha); 4) the life of total renunciation (sannyasa).
Asmita: I-ness; the sense of “I am;” “I exist;” sense of individuality.
Atattwa: The absolute opposite of Tattwa; non-principle; non-element; non-essence; untruth; unreality.
Atma(n): The individual spirit or Self that is one with Brahman. The true nature or identity.
Atmic: Having to do with the atma–spirit or self.
Avidya: Ignorance; nescience; unknowing; literally: “to know not.” A Sakti or illusive power in Brahman which is sometimes regarded as one with Maya and sometimes as different from it. It forms the condition of the individual soul and is otherwise called Ajnana or Asuddha-maya. It forms the Karana Sarira of the Jiva. It is Malina or impure Sattwa. Also called ajnana.
Bhagavata(m): Srimad Bhagavatam. A major purana devoted to the glory and worship of Vishnu and his incarnation as Krishna. The major scripture of the Vaishnavas.
Bharat(a)varsha: The land of India.
Bhava: Subjective state of being (existence); attitude of mind; mental attitude or feeling; state of realization in the heart or mind.
Bhiksha: Almsfood; food obtained by begging or that is offered to a monk.
Bhikshu: One who lives on bhiksha (almsfood); a mendicant; a sannyasi; also a designation of a Buddhist monk.
Bhuma: The unconditioned Infinite; Brahman.
Brahma satyam; jagan mithya; jivo brahmaiva naparah: “Brahman is real. The world is unreal. The jiva is none other than Brahman.” This is Shankara’s renowned “Vedanta in half a verse.”
Brahma-anubhava: Direct personal experience of Brahman.
Brahmachari(n): One who observes continence; a celibate student in the first stage of life (ashrama); a junior monk.
Brahmajnana: Direct, transcendental knowledge of Brahman; Self-realization.
Brahmajnani: One who possess Brahmajnana.
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.
Brahmana (1): A knower of Brahman; a Brahmajnani.
Brahmana (2): A member of the Brahmin caste.
Brahmavada: The Path to Brahman; the way to supreme enlightenment.
Brahmavadin: Literally “one who walks the path of Brahman.” One who advocates that there is one existence alone–Parabrahman.
Brahmavidya: Science of Brahman; knowledge of Brahman; learning pertaining to Brahman or the Absolute Reality.
Charvaka: The Indian materialistic school, also known as Lokayata (“restricted to the world of common experience”). Its central teaching is that matter is the only reality, and sense perception is the only valid means of knowledge or proof. Therefore sense satisfaction is the only goal.
Crore: Ten million.
Dakshinamurti: A name for Lord Shiva as the silent teacher. Vedic Religion declares that in every cycle of creation God manifests as Dakshinamurti and becomes the guru of the first human beings–those who were most spiritually evolved in the previous creation–teaching them the path to liberation (moksha).
Dasanami: “Ten named.” A term for members of the monastic order of Shankaracharya headquartered in the four quarters of India (Sringeri, Dwaraka, Badrinath and Jagannath Puri). After their proper monastic names they add one of ten titles (Saraswati, Bharati, Puri, Tirtha, Ashrama, Giri, Parvata, Sagara, Vanam, Aranya) according to their monastic succession.
Dattatreya: A famous sage, son of the Rishi Atri and Anasuya. His birth was a divine boon, hence his name: Datta–“given”–and atreya–“son of Atri.” Considered a divine incarnation and known as the Lord of Avadhutas, he is often revered as the embodiment of the Supreme Guru. He is credited with the authorship of the Avadhuta Gita, the Jivanmukti Gita, and the Tripura Rahashya.
Dayananda (Maharishi Swami): A leading reformer within Hinduism in the nineteenth century (1824-1883) and the founder of the Arya Samaj.
Dehadhyasa: False identification with the body.
Devi: Goddess; the Supreme Shakti (Divine Power) or Divine Mother, or a demigoddess.
Dharma: The righteous way of living, as enjoined by the sacred scriptures and the spiritually illumined; characteristics; law; lawfulness; virtue; righteousness; norm.
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.
Dukha(m): Pain; suffering; misery; sorrow; grief; unhappiness; stress; that which is unsatisfactory.
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.
Grihastha: A married “householder;” the second stage (ashrama) in life.
Gurukula: “Teacher’s school” or “teacher’s abode.” A gurukula is the residence of a spiritual teacher where young students (brahmacharis) came to live and learn.
Hiranyagarbha: Cosmic intelligence; the Supreme Lord of the universe; also called Brahma, cosmic Prana, Sutratma, Apara-brahman, Maha-brahma, or karya-brahman; Samasti-sukshma-sarirabhimani (the sum-total of all the subtle bodies); the highest created being through whom the Supreme Being projects the physical universe; cosmic mind.
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.
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.
Jiva: Individual spirit.
Jivanmukta: One who is liberated here and now in this present life.
Jivanmukti: Liberation in this 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.
Jnana Yoga: The path of knowledge; meditation through wisdom; constantly and seriously thinking on the true nature of the Self as taught by the upanishads.
Jnana yogi: One following the path of knowledge–jnana yoga.
Jnani: A follower of the path of knowledge (jnana); one who has realized–who knows–the Truth (Brahman).
Jyoti(h): Light; flame; illumination; luminosity; effulgence.
Kaivalya-mukti (moksha): Liberation in which the yogi becomes one with Brahman while living (jivanmukti); final emancipation.
Kama: Desire; passion; lust.
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.
Karana sharira: The causal body (where the individual rests during sound, deep, dreamless sleep, the intellect, mind and senses being reduced to an unmanifested potential condition), also known as the anandamaya kosha, the “sheath of bliss.”
Karika: Commentary; treatise.
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.
Karmabandhanam: Karmic bondage; karmic tie.
Karma Marga: The path of selfless knowledge leading to union with God.
Karmakanda: The ritual portion of the Veda. The philosophy that Vedic ritual is the only path to perfection.
Karmakandi(n): One who follows the Karma-kanda as philosophy and practice.
Karma Marga: The path of selfless knowledge leading to union with God.
Karmaphala: The fruit (phala) of actions (karma); the consequence of a deed in the shape of pain or pleasure.
Karmic: Having to do with karma.
Kaupina: A small strip of cloth used to cover one’s private parts. Also called a langoti.
Kevala: Oneness; alone; single; independent; perfect; uncompounded. The Absolute.
Kevala-advaita: Absolute Non-dualism culminating in liberation.
Kevala Advaitin: A nondualist intent on the attainment of the state of Kaivalya–liberation.
Kosha: Sheath; bag; scabbard; a sheath enclosing the soul; body. There are five such concentric sheaths or bodies: the sheaths of bliss, intellect, mind, life-force and the physical body–the anandamaya, jnanamaya, manomaya, pranamaya and annamaya bodies respectively.
Krishna: A Divine Incarnation born in India about three thousand years ago, Whose teachings to His disciple Arjuna on the eve of the Great India (Mahabharata) War comprise the Bhagavad Gita.
Kshama: Forgiveness; patience; forbearance.
Kumaras (Four): Those advanced souls–Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatkumara and Sanatsujata–who at the beginning of this creation cycle refused to engage in worldly life despite the command of Brahma. They were then taught by Lord Shiva, in the form of Dakshinamurti, the mysteries of Brahmajnana and attained liberation.
Lakshya: Perceivable object; object or point of concentration-attention; target; vision.
Lokasangraha: Solidarity of the world; uplift of the world.
Madhyama: Moderate; the middle stage of sound as it develops from silent to fully audible or spoken. Sound in its subtle form as it exists in the mind/psyche before its gross manifestation.
Mahabharata: The world’s longest epic poem (110,00 verses) about the Mahabharata (Great Indian) War that took place about three thousand years ago. The Mahabharata also includes the Bhagavad Gita, the most popular sacred text of Hinduism.
Mahatma: Literally: “a great soul [atma].” Usually a designation for a sannyasi, sage or saint.
Mahavakya: Literally: “Great Saying.” The highest Vedantic truth, found in the Upanishads expressing the highest Vedantic truths or the identity between the indidual soul and the Supreme Soul. There are four Mahavakyas: 1) Prajñanam Brahma–“Consciousness is Brahman” (Aitareya Upanishad 3.3); 2) Ayam Atma Brahma–“This Self is Brahman” (Mandukya Upanishad 1.2); 3) Tat Twam Asi–“Thou art That” (Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7); 4) Aham Brahmasmi–“I am Brahman” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10).
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.
Mimamsa: An enquiry into the nature of a thing; the science of philosophical logic enquiring into Vedic knowledge. Usually a reference to Purva-Mimamsa, one of the six schools of orthodox Indian philosophy. It focuses on the Vedas and the Vedic rites to establish their supreme spiritual value and authority.
Mimamsaka: A follower of the Purva Mimamsa school of philosophy. See Mimamsa.
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.
Muhurta: A unit of time–a thirtieth part of a day, forty-eight minutes in length; auspicious moment.
Mukti: Moksha; liberation.
Mumukshu: Seeker after liberation (moksha).
Mumukshutwa: Intense desire or yearning for liberation (moksha).
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].
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.
Nirguna: Without attributes or qualities (gunas).
Nirguna Brahman: The impersonal, attributeless Absolute beyond all description or designation.
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.
Nishkama: Without desire.
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.
Para(ma): Highest; universal; transcendent; supreme.
Parabhakti: Supreme devotion to God. This leads to jnana.
Paramahan[m]sa/Paramhan[m]sa: 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.
Parabrahman: Supreme Brahman.
Paravairagya: Highest type of dispassion; the mind turns away completely from worldly objects and cannot be brought back to them under any circumstances.
Patanjali: A yogi of ancient India, a Nath Yogi and the author of the Yoga Sutras.
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.
Prapancha: The world; appearance of the world.
Prarabdha: Karma that has become activated and begun to manifest and bear fruit in this life; karmic “seeds” that have begun to “sprout.”
Pravritta: One who follows the Pravritii Marga of active involvement in the world–attached action.
Pravritti: Action; endeavor. Literally: “to turn forth.” Active involvement in the world; attached action.
Pravritti Marga: The path of active involvement in the world. The path of action or life in worldly society or according to the nature of the world.
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.
Puja: Worship; ceremonial (ritual) worship; adoration; honor. Usually involving the image of a deity.
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.
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).
Purva samskaras: Previous samskaras; that is, samskaras brought over from previous lives.
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.
Raga-dwesha: The continual cycle of attraction and repulsion; like and dislike; love and hatred.
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: 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.
Rishi: Sage; seer of the Truth.
Ritambharaprajna: Truth consciousness; consciousness that is full of truth.
Rudra: Shiva. Derived from rud–he who drives away sin or suffering.
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).
Saguna: Possessing attributes or qualities (gunas).
Saguna Brahman: Brahman with attributes, such as mercy, omnipotence, omniscience, etc.; the Absolute conceived as the Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer of the universe; also the Personal God according to the Vedanta.
Samadhana: Equal fixing; proper concentration.
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.
Samhita: A division of the Vedas; Vedic hymns.
Samsara: Life through repeated births and deaths; the wheel of birth and death; the process of earthly life.
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.
Sanandana: One of the Four Kumaras (see Kumaras).
Sang(h)a: Attachment; affinity; company; association; collection; community.
Sanaka: One of the Four Kumaras (see Kumaras).
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.
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.
Sannyas(a): Renunciation; monastic life. Sannyasa literally means “total [san] throwing away [yas],” absolute rejection.
Sannyasi(n): A renunciate; a monk.
Sannyasic: Pertaining to sannyasa and the life and thought of a sannyansin.
Sat: Existence; reality; truth; being; a title of Brahman, the Absolute or Pure Being.
Satchidananda: Existence-Knowledge-Bliss Absolute; Brahman.
Satsang(a): Literally: “company with Truth.” Association with godly-minded persons. The company of saints and devotees.
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.
Seva: Service; selfless service.
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.
Shantam, Shivam, Advaitam: “Peaceful, Blissful, Non-Dual”–the definition of Brahman and the Self found in the seventh verse of the Mandukya Upanishad.
Shanti: Peace; calm; tranquility; contentment.
Shastra: Scripture; spiritual treatise.
Shirovratam: “Vow of the head;” a vow in which fire is carried on the head or in which the head is shaven; sannyasa.
Shuddha: Pure; clear; clean; untainted.
Shuddhi: The state of purity (shuddha); purification.
Siddha: A perfected–liberated–being, an adept, a seer, a perfect yogi.
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.
Smriti: Memory; recollection; “that which is remembered;” code of law. In this latter sense, Smriti is used to designate all scriptures except the Vedas and Upanishads (which are considered of greater authority: shruti).
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.
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.
Surya-mandala: The circle (orbit) of the sun.
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 (ritam).
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.
Tapas: See tapasya.
Tapaswi(n): Ascetic; one who is practising Tapas.
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.
Tat Twam Asi: “Thou art That.” The Mahavakya (Great Saying) of the Chandogya Upanishad.
Tattwa: “Thatness.” Principle; element; the essence of things; truth; reality.’
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.
Triputa: The triad (seer, sight, seen).
Triputi: “The triple form.” The triad of: knowing, knower, and object known; cognizer, object, and cognition; seer, sight, and seen.
Tyaga: Literally: “abandonment.” Renunciation–in the Gita, the relinquishment of the fruit of action.
Upadesha: Spiritual instruction.
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.
Upasana: “Sitting near” or “drawing near;” worship; adoration; contemplation of God or deity; devout meditation; both teaching and learning.
Vairagya: Non-attachment; detachment; dispassion; absence of desire; disinterest; or indifference. Indifference towards and disgust for all worldly things and enjoyments.
Vakya: That which is denoted by speech.
Vanaprastha: Literally: a forest 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.
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.
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, the Brahma Sutras compiled by the sage Vyasa.
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.
Vibhuti: Manifestations of divine power or glory; the special forms in which the Lord reveals himself; 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.
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.
Vidvan: A knowing person; the term is particularly applied to one that knows the real nature of the Self as distinct from the body; 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. Sannyas conferred without the elaborate rituals–either simply with some mantras or with none but the giving of the gerua cloth and bestowal of a sannyas name.
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.
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.”
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(n): One who possesses discrimination (viveka).
Vividisha sannyasa: Renunciation for the purpose of knowing Brahman.
Vritti: Thought-wave; mental modification; mental whirlpool; a ripple in the chitta (mind substance).
Vyavahara: Worldly activity; relative activity as opposed to Absolute Being; empirical/phenomenal world; worldly relation; worldly life which is the basis of all one’s practical movements.
Yajna: Sacrifice; offering; sacrificial ceremony; a ritual sacrifice; usually the fire sacrifice known as agnihotra or havan.
Yajnavalkya: A great sage whose teachings are recorded in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad; the guru of King Janaka.
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.
Yama: Yamaraja; the Lord of Death, controller of who dies and what happens to them after death.
Yoga Vashishtha: A classical treatise on Yoga, containing the instructions of the Rishi Vashishta to Lord Rama on meditation and spiritual life.
Yogi(n): One who practices Yoga; one who strives earnestly for union with God; an aspirant going through any course of spiritual discipline.