Glossary of Terms

Term Definition
Abhisheka anointing. A traditional procedure of bathing the Lord.
Abhyudaya prosperity/welfare. The varied and different ends that human being could achieve.
Acarya – Teacher/Master. The one who sees and makes the other see. The one who himself practises the Vedic tenets and makes the others also practise them.
Arsha coming or flowing from Rishis.
Arsha Dharma the religion or the laws enunciated or culled by the Rishis.
Arsha Vidya Knowledge of the Rishis.
Arya Noble person. One who does what is to be done & refrains from doing what is to be avoided.
Arya Dharma the religion or the laws of the noble.
Amsa Avatara Part incarnation of the Lord. Here, in the Advaitic tradition, the part incarnation of Siva is Pujyapada Samkara otherwise called Samkaracarya, Adi Samkaracarya or Samkara Bhagavatpadacarya.
Antakarana (inner instrument) Karana means instrument and anta means inner. The inner instruments are four fold manas, buddhi, citta and ahamkara, which are mind, intellect, memory and ego.
Antakarana suddhi is purity of the inner instruments – antakarana. It is a state where the mind is relatively free from impurities in the form of likes/dislikes and their resultant projections & vacillations.
Arcana – Act of paying obeisance an act where one offers either flowers or other forms of offerings sanctioned by the scriptures, while uttering the varied names of the Lord.
Arjuna is a great archer of the Mahabharata war and the second of the Pandava brothers. Sri Krishna unfolded the Bhagavad Geeta to him, who was caught in the midst of inner chaos and confusion rendering him ineffective. This teaching cleared the web of confusion and made him execute the work effortlessly and effectively.
Asram hermitage.
Bharata Portion of which is the modern India (Technically Bha means Brahma Vidya or Light and ram means revel. It was the land where people revelled in Brahma Vidya or Light).
Bhagavad Geeta A Scripture taught by Sri Krishna to Arjuna (Technically it means song of the Lord / sung by the Lord or song of the Lord sung by himself).
Bhagavatpada Adi Samkaracarya∙ Disciple of Govindapadacarya. He is considered a shining link in the teaching tradition. (Technically, the word Samkara means the one who blesses/ bestows auspiciousness).
Brahma is one among the Hindu trinity of Gods. He takes care of the mechanism of creation in the creation. Generally when used in the masculine sense, it implies the creator.
Brahmacari (Celibate student) One who has been initiated through a ritual called Upanayana, which is meant for only a section of people and is the first order of life. The initiate thereafter has got to perform the specific ritual thrice a day during the three junctions. However, some do it only twice which is, in the mornings and evenings skipping the afternoon session. While performing the evening ritual they include in it, the expiatory act. Only on being initiated, one is qualified for the study of Vedas, etc., and performance of rituals. This is purely from a religious angle. From another level, any one who wants to know Brahman and goes to an ashram to study under a teacher is considered a brahmacari if he has not yet taken Sannyasa. In a spiritual sense, anyone who is seeking Brahman and has decided to live a life style conducive to gaining Brahman is considered a Brahmacari, which technically means the one who treads the path of Brahman.
Brahman Limitless. The word Brahman is derived from the root Brih meaning big. Since it is not qualified or quantified, one has to understand that it is the biggest, beyond which there is nothing else – limitless.
Brahma Sutras One of the three spiritual texts that Indian Spiritualism upholds and is of the form of aphorisms. (Technically those sentences that reveal Brahma – limitless in crystal clear terms and are of the form of aphorisms.)
Brahma Vidya the knowledge of Brahman (Technically, Brahma the word means limitless ie. That which is free from all forms of limitations and Vidya means knowledge. Brahma Vidya is the knowledge of limitless.)
Brahma Vidya Gurukulam a registered charity where Brahma Vidya is being revealed or unfolded. (Technically it can mean any school where Brahma Vidya is being taught or revealed.)
Brahma Vidya Vani the bi monthly newsletter of Brahma Vidya Gurukulam.
Dharma Law, religion, nature, duty, etc. (Technically it means that which sustains, supports, bears, retains a thing.)
Dharma, Artha, Kama & Moksha these are the four objects of human pursuits or popularly known as the four human accomplishments. Generally everyone wants to achieve or gain objects, which are called Artha. Once that is met, one wants to enjoy them, which is called Kama. These are two universal basic urges in all beings. If one is sensitive, mature and cultured, one wants to gain these two pursuits, in a righteous way and this is Dharma. After that, if one is blessed, one turns one’s attention towards the quest of freedom, which is called Moksha.
Four Vedas – though the Veda knowledge is only one, since they were compiled under four heads by the great Sage Vyasa and these are the only material that are available as Vedas, hence people consider the Vedas to be four in number. However, some consider the Vedas to be only three in number leaving Atharvana on certain grounds, but we could safely consider the Vedas to be four in a very general sense.
Grihasthasrama householder the one who has chosen a family life. Having entered the first stage. Brahmacari now enters the second stage through a ritual called Vivaha – marriage, where the couple declare in front of fire god, sun god and elders that they would stay together and lead a life of righteousness (Dharma) conducive for inner growth.
Guru Master. (Technically it means the one who shows, reveals, or unfolds.) The one who removes the ignorance with the help of knowledge and thereby unfolds the truth, is a Guru
Gurukkal the family priest or just a priest.
Gurukulam a traditional school. (Technically it means the family of the guru -master.)
Hinduism the name that is given to an ancient East Indian life style – culture contained in the Vedas which presents both the view as well as the way of life. It is both religion as well as spirituality combined into one. The earlier and traditional name for this religion is Sanatana Dharma.
Itihasa the epic. There are two epics and they are Ramayana & Mahabharata. (Technically, the word Itihasa means ‘thus it was,’ meaning they are not just fiction but facts.)
Karmas rituals, actions or results of action. Though we could technically call results of action as Karma phala, still they also go by the name karma. The rituals spoken of in the Scriptures are also called Karma. In a very general sense, Karma the word also means any action that one performs irrespective of its nature.
Kamya Karma (acts performed for obtaining fulfilment of desires) These acts or rituals are mentioned in the scriptures. When one wants to achieve something and despite all effort fails to accomplish that thing, then the Scriptures mention a path. Such acts that are prompted by desire and performed only for fulfilment of the desire are called Kamya karma. An example is performing the ritual Jyotishtoma for gaining heaven.
Kaivalyopanishad It is a small Upanishad that reveals the state of freedom from all forms of difference. It unfolds the self as differencelessness. Muktikopanishad mentions a list of the 188 Upanishads that tradition accepts of which Kaivalya is the 13th Upanishad.
Krishna is one of the incarnations of Vishnu. He was a very charming personality and his life – story is very well composed in a text called Bhagavatam, also called Srimad Bhagavata Purana. Sri Krishna is considered the World Master, for the teaching of this Master is universal and eternal. One could gain a clear picture of His teachings by studying the Bhagavad Geeta. One could also read the Uttara Geeta and Uddhava Geeta, which contain the teachings of Sri Krishna. He is considered a complete or full incarnation.
Sivaù One of the three gods that are upheld by the Hindus as a part of the trinity. He takes care of the mechanism of destruction in the creation. Technically the word Siva means the one who is auspiciousness and bestows the same on devotees.
Mahabharatam is the second epic itihasa. Sri Krishna is the central figure of the epic Mahabharata. Modern scholars fix the age of Mahabharata to be 5000 years. In this Mahabharata there are very many Geetas (texts with the name Geeta) and Bhagavad Geeta is one of them.
Mahatma Great or noble Soul. Generally sannyasins are addressed as Mahatmas. (Technically the word Mahatma means ones who have appreciated the Self as limitless.)
Mantra It is repetition of which helps one cross over death or change. It is generally translated as spiritual or religious formula or chant.
Moksha is freedom or liberation from all forms of bondage the Ultimate goal of all human pursuits according to the Hindu Scriptures.
Muktikopanishad one of the minor Upanishads from the Sukla Yajur Veda constituting two chapters containing approximately 131 mantras. In this text apart from unfolding the vision of the Upanishads there is also a mention of the various traditionally accepted Upanishads.
Naimittika Karma (occasional duties) These are duties enjoined upon one by the Scriptures – Vedas that are obligatory in nature.
Nisreyas Freedom, liberation or emancipation. Literally it means that which is ever of the form of good that which is always or eternally good.
Nitya Karma (daily duties) Duties that are enjoined by the Vedas, Smritis, Puranas upon a person to be performed on a daily basis. Here only the daily duties as enjoined upon one by the scriptures like Sandhyavandana, etc are meant but not the social /transactional daily duties.
Sanatanam that which is fresh or new.
Panchamrita abhishekam A traditional procedure of anointing the Lord or bathing using items like, milk, yogurt, honey, ghee (butter oil) and sugar., etc.
Panchamritam Generally the Five materials that are considered as life giving (nectar – amritam) and they are milk, yogurt, honey, ghee (butter oil) and sugar.
Patanjali A great Seer, who composed the aphorisms on Yoga called Yoga Sutras and also wrote a commentary on Grammar rules that are in the form of aphorisms, composed by Panini. Actually the commentary was on the vartika written by the sage Katyayana upon the Panini’s aphorisms. Because of this Patanjali is respectfully addressed as Bhashyakara and his work is called Maha Bhashyam. Some scholars believe that the grammarian Patanjali was different from the Patanjali who composed the Yoga Sutra. Patanjali Maharishi is considered an incarnation of Adi Sesha.
Prayascitta Karma – (expiatory actions) Those acts done to neutralise the effects of certain acts which fall under the category of ‘should not be done’ (don’ts), that one has unintentionally performed.
Principal Upanishads are those Upanishads on which all the three Traditional Masters have written their commentaries. Some consider the major or principal Upanishads to be ten and others as eleven, though majority of the scholars view them to be only ten.
Puranam Hindu Scriptural text that reveals profound ageless truths along with the set of practises that one has to observe in order to gain them, presented in the form of anecdotes that are easy and simple. The Puranas are 18 in number and in addition to them are the 18 Upa Puranas. The word Purana technically means though old, that which is ever fresh or new.
Pujya the term means respectful or worthy of worship.
Rishis The Hindu Seers. Technically, the word Rishi means the one who sees, know, roam or wander about in the truth of the Self. The ones who have seen the meaning of the Mantras are also called Rishis.
Rishikesh It is a place in North India at the foot of Himalayas. (Technically it means the hair of Rishis – Seers)
Sada always or ever.
Sadhu Holy people of India. Generally the sannyasins are referred as sadhus. (Technically the word Sadhu means a good person.)
Samsara Sagara is the ocean of the ceaseless cycle of birth and death.
Samkalpa resolve or intention. Invariably every ritual starts with the performer making the intentions clear.
Sanatana That which is ancient or ever new/fresh.
Sanatana Dharma is the Law, religion or nature of the eternal, ancient.
Sandeepany Sadhanalaya A Vedantic teaching institution started by Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati in early 1960. Sandeepany was a great sage and Guru of Sri Krishna.
Sannyasa renunciation (Technically it is a ritual that one performs to cut off all relationships with family and friends so that one could focus on one’s liberation freedom)
Sannyasin renunciate or monastic.
Sanskrit One of the oldest languages (Technically it means that which is refined/purified/ well done).
Saraswati Goddess of learning (When used after the name of a Sannyasin – a monk, it refers to a particular order of Sannyasins).
Sastras The Hindu Scriptures. (Technically it means a body of teaching that helps one cross over Samsara – the cycle of birth and death or pleasure and pain.)
Sri A respectful address of a person, place or thing. It could also mean wealth or goddess of Wealth.
Srotriya the one who has listened to the teaching of the Sastras.
Sruti the word is derived from the root Sru used in the sense of hearing. Sruti means that which is of the form of hearing or which is passed on through hearing.
Suddhi purity.
Svabhava nature. Literally it means, its own state.
Svarga Heaven (A field of experience predominated by pleasures.)
Swami A Master in general, the one who has control over the senses. (Usually it is used as a term of respect equalling God.)
Swamiji is a respectful address of a Swami. Ji is a respectful address in the Hindi language, which has become a common usage in other Indian languages as well.
Vedanta That teaching or subject matter that is available at the end portion of the Vedas.
Vedas Is the Scripture of the Aryas – noble people – Hindus. (Technically it means knowledge and is derived from the root Vid meaning ‘to know’.) The Vedas are the four holy books available today in the world under the name Åk, Yajus, Sama and Atharvana.
Vedic Peace Chants Chants or mystical formula that have the power to generate peace around and within. They could also mean that which could make one discover the peace within.
Vidya Knowledge. (Though sometimes the scriptures use the word Vidya in the sense of meditation.)
Vihita & Nishiddha Karmas The do’s and don’ts. The acts that one should or should not perform as enjoined upon by the Vedas, depending upon the order and inner colouring (varna) of individuals. Strictly adhering to the do’s, one gains Punya merit and not adhering to which, one gains demerit or sin. Abstaining from don’ts prevents gain of demerit or sin.
Vishnu One of the gods of the trinity. Technically the word means the one who is all pervasive. He takes care of the mechanism of sustenance in the creation.
Vyasa compiler. Though tradition speaks of many Vyasas, still the one that is popularly known in the teaching tradition is, the Seer known by the names Badarayana and Krishna Dvaipayana.
Yoga a practise that helps one gain a union or merger with the transcendental. It is derived from the root yuj meaning merger or union. There are various forms of yoga. The yoga that Patanjali speaks of is popularly known as Ashtanga yoga or the practise consisting of eight limbs.