Glossary of Sanskrit Terms

In general, transcription of Sanskrit terms has been made according to the English standard of pronunciation.

Advaita: non-duality, the philosophy of the Upanishads especially developed by Shankaracharya (ninth century) and the Vedantic School.

Amrita: immortality, or "nectar" of immortality.

Ananda: bliss.

Ananta: infinite.

Asana: sitting position, a yoga posture.

Atma(n): individual self and universal Self (both are possible since in Sanskrit there are no capital letters).

Atma vichara: search for Self, especially by the question "Who am I?".

Avatar: descent, Divinity incarnate.

Bhajana: religious chant, often by groups.

Bhava: a Sanskrit word having many meanings: emotion, state of being, inner experience.

Brahma: creator God.

Brahmachari: literally "he who moves in the Brahman"; usually means "celibate student", especially in the religious field (fem. brahmacharini).

Brahman: the Absolute.

Brahmin: member of the caste in charge of traditional teaching.

Chit: consciousness.

Citta -nirodha: stopping of the mind-waves, the goal of yoga.

Darshan: the act of seeing, both in the normal sense of seeing a statue or a guru, and in the inner sense of seeing a Divinity.

Dharana: concentration.

Dharma: law that has always been there, socio-cosmic order supporting the existence of universe; one’s own duty.

Dhyana: meditation.

Dvandvatita: he who is beyond pairs of opposites (pain-pleasure, etc.).

Guru: spiritual master, traditional teacher.

Ishta devata: Divinity who has been chosen by a devotee for his personal worship.

Japa: repetition of the Name of God.

Jivanmukta:he who is liberated while alive.

Jivanmukti: liberation during life time.

Jnana: knowledge.

Jnani: sage who has realised the Self.

Kaivalya: literally "isolation"; state of liberation.

Kama: Desire, sensuality.

Karma: every action, often the ritual action, performed with the expectation of a given result; secondarily, it means bondage, conditioning due to passed actions performed in an interested manner.

Krishna: one of the most popular gods in India, who is said to have lived in his human form in Vrindavan, near Delhi, where he is especially worshiped nowadays, and in Dwaraka as a king. He is also the guru of Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita.

Kundalini: inner energy which manifests itself in the form of libido in the ordinary man and which is progressively transmuted in spiritual energy in the yogi.

Lila: play, especially the divine play and the play of the Guru.

Mahatma: "great soul", a title of respect for a religious man.

Mantra: a verse in the Veda or the word of Veda; the name of God that one repeats throughout his life.

Maya: fundamental illusion pushing us to believe that the universe is only what we perceive with sense organs.

Moksha: liberation, the fourth and ultimate goal of human life.

Mumuksutva: desire for liberation, essential quality for a spiritual seeker.

Niyama: law, rule of behaviour.

Ojhas: sublimation, transmutation of sexual energy into spiritual energy through the process of yoga.

Prana: breath, vital energy, in practice a current of sensations that one learns to direct through yoga.

Pranayama: regulation of energy through breathing exercises.

Prasada: divine grace; sacred food or objects (like flowers etc.) received from a temple or a guru.

Prema: spiritual love.

Purana: traditional texts, especially medieval, collecting all that a Hindu should know about cosmology, myths, rituals, etc.

Raja-yoga: the principal system of yoga, taught by Patanjali.

Rama: one of the most popular incarnate gods of Hinduism along with Krishna. He is considered as the model king and hero.

Rasa: literally "sap", "taste" "juice"; it conveys also the essence of aesthetical and mystical emotion.

Rishi: "seer", sage of Vedic times.

Sadguru: true Master.

Sadhaka: spiritual seeker.

Sadhana: regular spiritual practice.

Sadhu: literally "good man"; religious person, often a wandering one.

Sahaja-samadhi: continuous state of spontaneous absorption, even in the midst of daily activity.

Samadhi: experience of absorption, enstasis occurring to a sadhaka.

Samsara: cycle of births and deaths; the world.

Samskara: innate tendency, deep conditioning. Rituals equivalent to the sacraments.

Samnyasi: ascetic, renouncer.

Sat-cit-ananda: being-consciousness-bliss, one of the names of the Absolute.

Satsanga: meeting with sages (literally: "being with Being").

Satva: purity.

Siddhi: parapsychological power.

Shakti: primordial divine energy, referred to as feminine.

Shaktipat: "descent, transmission of energy", especially through the grace of the guru.

Shankara-charya: famous sage and philosopher of non-duality in the ninth century. He has spread the teaching of Vedanta.

Shiva: god, both of asceticism and of vitality, of destruction as well as of liberation; he seems to be, among the gods still worshipped nowadays in the world, the one whose cult is the most ancient.

Upanishads: portion of revealed texts, the last part of the Vedas, most clearly expressing a teaching on non-duality; this teaching has penetrated the whole of Hindu thinking in one way or another.

Vedanta: "the end of the Vedas": the doctrine of non-duality as can be established from the teaching of the Vedas.

Vedas: sacred texts, whose authority is recognised by all Hindus.

Vijaya: complete victory.

Vijnana: complete knowledge.

Yoga: one of the six Brahmanical philosophical systems, includes theory and especially practice implying body-postures and meditation.

Yogabhrashta: he who has failed in his yoga practice.

Yogiraj: "king of yoga", he who has succeeded in yoga practice.