Sanskrit Glossary


Abharana: adornment; vastabharana is adornment with clothes

Abhyasa: exercise, practice

Acarya: teacher; literally ‘one who walks with’

Advaita: concept of non-duality; that individual self and the cosmic SELF are one and the same; as different from the concepts of dvaita and visistadvaita, which consider self and SELF to be mutually exclusive

Ahara: food; also with reference to sensory inputs as in pratyahara

Ajna: order, command; the third eye energy centre

Akasa: space, sky; subtlest form of energy of universe

Amrta, amrt: divine nectar whose consumption leads to immortality

Anahata: that which is not created; heart energy centre

Ananda: bliss; very often used to refer to joy, happiness etc

Angulimaal: a Highway robber and murderer who wore a garland with the fingers of his victims. He was later transformed by Buddha and became a monk in Buddha’s monastery

Anjana: collyrium, black pigment used to paint the eye lashes

Annamalai Swamigal: enlightened disciple and personal assistant of enlightened master Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi

Apas: water

Aarti: Worship of the deity using lit lamps

Arti: Worshipping with a flame or light, as with a lamp wiht oiled wick, or burning camphor

Ashtavakra: An enlightened sage of ancient India, authorised Ashtavakra Samhita

Asirvad: blessing

Ashtanga Yoga: Eight fold path to enlightenment prescribed by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra

Asraya: Grounded in reality; asraya dosa, defect related to reality

Atma, atman: individual Self; part of the universal Brahman

Atma Shatakam: Poem of six stanzas composed by enlightened master Adi Shankara, summarizing the concept ofadvaita or non-dualistic philosophy

Aurangazeb: One of the last Mughal emperorsgreatest of all the Mughal emperors who ruled India; a despotic ruler



Beedi: Local Indian cigarrette

Bija: seed; bija-mantra refers to the single syllable mantras used to invoke certain deities, e.g., gam for Ganesha

Bhagavan: literally god; often used for an enlightened Master

Bhavana: visualization

Brahma: The God of creation in the Hindu Trinity of Brahma (Creator), Visnu (Preserver) and Siva (Rejuvinator)

Bhakti: devotion; bhakta, a devotee

Bhagavatam: Devotional stories on Lord Krishna, compiled by Veda Vyasa



Chakra: Literally a ‘wheel’; refers to energy centers in the mind body system

Chaksu: Intelligent power behind senses.

Chandala: An untouchable; usually one who skins animals

Chandana: sandalwood

Chitta: Mind; also manasbuddhi



Dakshinayana: Sun’s movement South starting 21st July

Darshan: That which is seen; usualy referred to seeing Divinity

Dharma: Righteousness

Dhee: Wisdom

Diksha, Deeksha: Grace bestowed by the Master and the energy transferred by Master on disciple at initiation or any other time; may be through a mantra, a touch, a glance or even a thought.

Dosha: Defect

Dhyana: Meditation

Drishti: That which is seen




Gada, Gadha: Weapon, similar to a mace; also Gadhayudha

Gopi, Gopika: Literally a cowherd; usually referred to the devotees, men and women, who played with Krishna, and were lost in Him

Gopura, gopuram: Temple tower

Grihasta: A householder; a married person; from the word griha meaning house

Guna: the three human behavioral characteristics or predipositions; satvarajas and tamas

Guru: Master; literally one who leads from gu darkness to ru light

Gurukul: literally ‘tradition of guru’, refers to the ancient education system in which children were handed over to aguru at a very young age by parents for upbringing and education.




Homa: Ritual to Agni, the God of fire; metaphorically represents the transfer of energy from the energy of Akasa (space) , through Vayu (Air), Agni (Fire), Apu (Water), and Prithvi (Earth) to humans.




Iccha: Desire

Ida: along with pingala and sushumna the virtual energy pathways through which pranic energy flows.

Ithihasa: Legend, epic, mythological stories




Jaati: Birth; jaati dosha, defect related to birth

Jagrat: awake

Japa: Literally ‘muttering’; conitinuous repetition of the name of divinity

Jiva samadhi: Burial place of an aenlighetend master, where his spirit lives on; jiva means living.

Jyotisha: Astrology; jyotish is an astrologer




Kaivalya: Liberation; same as moksha, nirvana ..

Kala: Time

Kalpa: Vast period of time; similar to Yuga.

Kalpana: Imagination

Karma: spiritual law of cause and effect, driven by vasana and samskara

Kosha: Energy layer surrounding body; there are 5 such layers. These are: annamaya or body, pranamaya or breath, manonmaya or thoughts, vigyanamaya or sleep and anandamaya or bliss  koshas.

Kriya: Action

Kshana: Moment in time; refers to time between two thoughts

Kshatriya: Caste or varna group of warriors.

Kundalini: Ebergy that resides at the root chakra ‘muladhara’




Maha: Great; as in maharishi, great sage; mahavakya, great scriptural saying

Mala: a garland, a necklace; rudraksha mala is a necklace made of the seeds of the rudraksha tree.

Manan: What is thought

Manas: Mind; also buddhichitta.

Mandir: Temple

Mangal: auspicious; mangal sutra, literally auspicious thread, the yellow or gold thread or necklace  a married Hindu woman wears

Mantra: A sound, a formula; sometimes a word or a set of words, which because of their inherent sound , have energizing properties. Mantras are used as sacred chants to worship the Divine; Mantra, tantra and yantra are approaches in spiritual evolution.

Maya: That which is not; not reality ; illusion; all life is maya according to advaita.

Moksha: liberation; same as nirvanasamadhituriya etc.

Muladhara: the first energy center, mula is root, adhara is foundation, here existence




Nadi: River

Naadi: Nerve; also an energy pathway which is not physical

Naga: a snake; a naga sadhu is an ascetic belonging to a group that wears no clothes.

Namaskar: Traditional greeting with raised hands palms closed

Nanda: unbound

Nari: woman

Nidhityasan: What is expressed

Nimitta: Reason; nimitta dosha, defect based on reason

Nirvana: liberation ; ‘nibbhana’ in Pali language; same as mokshasamadhi.

Niyama: The second of eight paths of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga; refers to a number of day to day rules of observance for a spiritual path.




Papa: sin

Phala: Fruit; phalasruti refers to result of worship

Paramahamsa: Literally the ‘supreme swan’; refers to an enlightened being of a specific level.

Parikrama: The ritual of going around a holy location, such as a hill or water spot

Parivrajaka: Wandering by an ascetic monk

Pingala: please see Ida

Prana: Life energy; also refers to breath; pranayama is the control of breath

Pratyahara: Literally ‘staying away from food’; in this case refers to control of alls senses as part of the eight foldashtanga yoga.

Prithvi: Earth energy

Purohit: Priest

Puja: normally any worship, but often referred to a ritualistic worship

Punya: merit

Purana: Epics and mythological stories such as Mahabharata, Ramayana etc.

Purna: Literally ‘complete’; refers in the advaita context to Reality.




Rajas, rajasic: the mid characteristic of the three human guna or behavior mode, referring to aggressive action.

Putra: son; putri is daughter.

Rakta: blood

Ratri: Intensity; also night;

Rishi: A spiritual sage




Sadhana: Practice, usually a spiritual practice

Sadhu: literally a ‘good person’; refers to an ascetic; same as sanyasi

Sahasranama: Thousand names of God; available for many Gods and Goddesses, which devotees recite

Sahasrara: thousand petal lotus, the crown energy center

Sakti: Energy; intelligent energy; Parasakti refers to Universal Energy; Divinity; considered feminine; masculine aspect of Parasakti is the Purusha.

Samadhi: state of no mind, no thoughts; adhi is original and sama is becoming that; literally, becoming one’s original state; liberated, enlightened state. Three levels of samadhi are referred to sahaja, which is transient, savikalpa, in which the person is no longer capable of normal activities, and nirvikalpa, where the liberated person performs activities as before.

Samsaya: Doubt

Samskara: embedded memories of unfulfilled desires stored in the unconscious that drive us into decisions, intokarmic action.

Samyama: Complete concentration

Sankalpa: Decision

Sanyas: Giving up worldly life; sanyasi or sanyasin, a monk, an ascetic; sanyasini, as referred to a lady monk.

Sastra: Sacred texts

Satva, satvic: the highest guna of spiritual calmness

Siddhi: Extraordinary powers attained through spiritual practice

Sishya: Disciple

Simha: Lion; Simha Swapna is nightmare.

Siva: Rejuvenator in the Trinity; often spelt as Shiva. Siva also means ‘Causeless Auspiciousness’; in this sense, Sivaratri, the day when Siva is worshipped is that moment when the power of this Causeless Auspiciousness is intense.

Smarana: Remembrance; constantly remembering the Divine.

Smruti: Literally ‘that which is remembered’; refers to later day Hindu works which are rules, regulations, laws and epics, such as Manu’s works, Puranas etc.

Sradha: sincere

Sravan: what is heard

Srishti: That which is, which is created

Sruti: Literally ‘that which is heard’; refers to the ancient scriptures of Veda, Upanishad and Bhagavad Gita, considered to be Words of God

Stotra: Devotional verses, to be recited or sung

Sudra: Caste or varna group of manual laborers.

Sutra: Literally ‘thread’; refers to epigrams, short verses which impart spiritual techniques.

Sunya: Literally zero; however, Buddha uses this word to mean Reality

Sushumna: Please see Ida

Swadishthana: where Self is established; the groin or spleen energy center

Swapna: Dream

Swatantra: Freedom




Tamas, tamasic: the lowest guna of laziness or inaction

Tantra: Esoteric Hindu techniques used in spiritual evolution

Tapas: Severe spiritual endeavor, penance

Thatagata: Buddhahood, suchness..a pali word

Tirta: Water; tirtam is a holy river spot and a pilgrimage center

Trikala: All three time zones, past, present and future; trikalajnani is one who can see all three at the same time; an enlightened v=being beyond time and space.

Turiya: state of samadhi, no mind




Upanishad: Literally ‘sitting below alongside’ referring to a disciple learning from the Master; refers to the ancient Hindu scriptures which along with the Veda , form sruti.

Uttarayana: Sun’s movement North, starting 21st January




Vaisya: Caste or varna group of tradesmen.

Vanaprastha: The third stage in one’s life, when a householder, man or woman, gives up wordly activities and focuses on spiritual goals

Varna: Literally color; refers to the caste grouping in the traditional Hindu social system; originally based on aptitude, and later corrupted to privilege of birth.

Vasana: the subtle essence of memories and desires, samskara, that get carried forward from birth to birth

Vastra: Clothes;

Vastraharana; removal of clothes, often used to refer to Draupadi’s predicament in Mahabharata, when she is forcibly undressed by the Kaurava Prince.

Vayu: Air

Veda: Literally knowledge; refers to ancient Hindu scriptures, believed to have been received by enlightened rishi at the being level; also called sruti, along with Upanishad.

Vibhuti: sacred ash worn by many Hindus on forehead; said to remind themselves of the transient nature of life; also glories.

Vidhi: literally law, natural law; interpreted as fate or destiny

Vidhya: knowledge

Vishada: Depression, dilemma etc

Vishnu: Preserver in the Trinity; His incarnations include Krishna, Rama etc.; also means ‘all encompassing’

Vishwarupa: Universal Form




Yama: discipline as well as death; One of the eight fold paths prescribed in Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga; refers to spiritual regulations of Satya (Truth). Ahimsa (Non Violence), Aparigraha (Living simply); Asteya (Not coveting other’s properties) and Brahmacharya (giving up fantasies); Yama is also the name of the Hindi God of Justice and Death.

Yantra: Literally ‘tool’; usually a mystical and powerful graphic diagram, such as the Sri Chakra, inscribed on a copper plate, and    sanctified in a ritual blessed by a Divine presence or an Enlightened Master

Yoga: literally union, union of the individual self and the divine Self; often taken to mean Hatha Yoga, which is one of the components relating to specific body postures.

Yuga: a long period of time as defined in Hindu scriptures; there are four yugas: Satya, Treta, Dwapara and Kali