Abharana: Adornment; vastabharana is adornment with clothes
Abhyasa: Exercise, practice
Acharya: 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 center
Akasha: 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 center
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 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 with oiled wick, or burning camphor
Asana: Seat; posture
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 emperors greatest 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 (Rejuvenator)
Bhakti: Devotion; bhakta, a devotee
Bhagavatam: Devotional stories on Lord Krishna, compiled by Veda Vyasa

Chakra: 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 manas, buddhi

Dakshinayana: Sun’s movement south starting 21st July
Darshan: That which is seen; usually 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; satva, rajas and tamas
Guru: Master; literally one who leads from darkness (gu) to light (ru)
Gurukul: Tradition of guru, refers to the ancient education system in which children were handed over to a guru 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’; continuous repetition of the name of divinity
Jiva samadhi: Burial place of an enlighetend 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: 5 energy layer surrounding body: annamaya (body), pranamaya (breath), manonmaya (thoughts), vigyanamaya (sleep), anandamaya (bliss)
Kriya: Action
Kshana: Moment in time; refers to time between two thoughts
Kshatriya: Caste or varna group of warriors.
Kundalini: Energy that resides at the root chakra

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 buddhi, chitta
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 used as sacred chants to worship the Divine
Maya: That which is not; not reality ; illusion; all life is maya according to advaita
Moksha: Liberation; same as nirvana, samadhi, turiya, etc.
Muladhara: The first energy center, mula (root), adhara (foundation)

Nadi: River
Naadi: Nerve; also an energy pathway which is not physical
Naga: 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 moksha, samadhi
Niyama: The second of eight paths of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga

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: Control of alls senses as part of the eight-fold ashtanga 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
Putra: Son
Putri: Daughter


Rajas, Rajasic: The mid-characteristic of the three human gunas or behavior modes, referring to aggressive action
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-petaled lotus, the crown energy center
Shakti: 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 (original) and sama (becoming that); literally, becoming one’s original, enlightened, liberated state; liberated. 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; causeless auspiciousness
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: 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:  Energy center 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
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 being beyond time and space
Turiya: state of samadhi, no mind

Upanishad: 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: 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: 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