Hinduism Glossary

  1. Ahamkara – the sense of ‘I’ or the ego that emerges from the mind, five senses and their objects, the organs of action or motor functioning, subtle and gross elements (Flood 235)
  2. Ahimsa – nonviolence (Sharma)
  3. Akam – a type of love poetry classified as ‘inside’ or ‘internal’ (Flood 129)
  4. Ananda – bliss (Flood 85)
  5. Arati – an act of worship involving the waving of a lighted lamp in a circular motion before a deity (Haberman 227)
  6. Artha – one of the four goals in life (wealth/possessions) along with dharma, karma, and moksha (Menon 688)
  7. Asana – a seated “posture” assumed as part of spiritual practice, as in yoga and sculpture (Renard 159)
  8. Ashrams – the four stages of life (Embree 76)
  9. Asura – any of a class of demons (Menon 688)
  10. Atman – the self (Gethin 319)
  11. Avatara – an incarnation of God, especially Vishnu (Menon 688)
  12. Avesa – possessions that men like the Tantras are concerned with (Flood 160)
  13. Ayana – a journey (Menon 688)
  14. Ayudha – a weapon (Menon 688)
  15. Balarama – elder brother of Krishna; considered to be a manifestation of the cosmic serpent Shesha (Haberman 227)
  16. Bhagavan – popular name of God: the worshipful one (Sharma)
  17. Bhagavata Purana – a major Vaishnava scripture that includes a narration of the story of Krishna. Most scholars date the composition of this text in the ninth century (Haberman 227)
  18. Bhakti – devotion, worship (Menon 688)
  19. Bhang – an intoxicating plant related to marijuana (Haberman 228)
  20. Bhava – an emotional state or power of the imagination that allows a higher perception of reality (Haberman 228)
  21. Bhoga – the experience of bliss in higher worlds (Flood 160)
  22. Bhur – earth (Flood 117)
  23. Bindu – a “point.” Refers specifically to that undifferentiated point that is in the center of all that is differentiated (Haberman 228)
  24. Brahman – ultimate godhead (Menon 688)
  25. brahmana – a member of the priesty class; also known as “Brahma’s people” (Menon 689)
  26. Brahmavidya – knowledge of Brahman (Menon 689)
  27. Brahmin – member of the priestly class (Renard 159)
  28. Buddhi – intelligence (Sharma)
  29. Carvaka – a point of view which considers wealth and enjoyment as the ends of human activity (Clark 198)
  30. Chit – spiritual “consciousness”; a characteristic of ultimate reality and the liberated soul (Renard 159)
  31. Darshan – “seeing, being seen by” the deity; the goal of devotional practice (Renard 160)
  32. Deva – any of a class of celestial, elemental beings; God (Menon 689)
  33. Dham – a sacred abode (Haberman 228)
  34. Dhanusha – a bow (Menon 689)
  35. Dharma – truth, justice, duty (Menon 689)
  36. Dhyana – meditation (Menon 689)
  37. Diksha – initiation (Flood 134)
  38. Dukha – suffering (Flood 76)
  39. Eightfold Path – Right views, resolve, speech, conduct, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration provide insight to the Middle Way (Embree 134)
  40. Ekarnava – the original sea of life (Menon 689)
  41. Farman – an imperial order (Haberman 228)
  42. Gamcha – a piece of cloth that serves as a multipurpose towel (Haberman 228)
  43. Gayatri – sacred verse for the Vedas (Rg Veda III, 62.10) which plays an important ritual and liturgical role in Hinduism (Sharma)
  44. Ghat – steps built on the edge of a river or pond to provide easy access (Haberman 228)
  45. Gopi – a female cowherd lover of Krishna. The gopis are exemplary spiritual figures for the Vaishnava traditions in Braj. One’s inner being which is capable of the highest love is typically considered a gopi (Haberman 228)
  46. Guna – “strand”; an attribute or quality according to one classic tripartite Hindu analysis of phenomenal reality into passion, goodness, darkness (Renard 160)
  47. Guru – from the root “grave, heavy”; a spiritual guide or teacher (Renard 160)
  48. Isvara – Lord, God (Sharma)
  49. Jati – “birth-status”; one of the distinguishing features in social stratification (Renard 161)
  50. Jivanmukti – the purpose of liberation whilst living (Flood 92)
  51. Jnana – knowledge (Flood 81)
  52. Kaivalya – liberation (Flood 234)
  53. Kama – “pleasure”; one of the four legitimate goals of life (Renard 161)
  54. Karma – from kamma (action-cause) and vipaka (reaction-effect); the law of moral causation; it includes past and present actions and is not to be confused with fate or predestination: good or bad karma results from our own actions (Soccio 46)
  55. Karma-Yoga – salvation by works (Embree 122)
  56. Kirtana – hymns (Flood 141)
  57. Krishna – the chief conception of ultimate reality as celebrated in Braj; the darling of the residents of Braj. As the youthful lover, he is the favorite deity of many Hindus (Haberman 229)
  58. Kshatriya – a member of the caste of royal warriors (Menon 691)
  59. Kund – a small pond or lake (Haberman 229)
  60. Lila – “play,” both in the sense of fun or game, and in the sense of “drama.” In Vaishnava theology lila is understood to be purposeless divine activity (Haberman 229)
  61. Lingam – conical representation of Shiva, often considered phallic (Sharma)
  62. Lota – a small metal pot used to carry water (Haberman 229)
  63. Lungi – a long, saronglike cloth tucked round the waist and worn in informal circumstances in northern India (Haberman 229)
  64. Mahavrata – a ritual, ‘great vow’ (Flood 79)
  65. Marga – path, way, or method of spiritual progress toward liberation (Renard 160)
  66. Nirvana – annihilation of the ego; a state of bliss; “pure consciousness” that leads to release from suffering while remaining conscious (Soccio 43)
  67. Manas – mind (Sharma)
  68. Mandala – a dimension, galaxy (Menon 691)
  69. Mast – a state of being characterized as “laid-back,” “carefree,” “happy,” “intoxicated,” or “lusty” (Haberman 229)
  70. Maya – the illusory world (Flood 141)
  71. Moksha – liberation, salvation, enlightenment (Menon 692)
  72. Nam – name, often associated towards the Lord (Flood 142)
  73. Namarupa – “name form”; a reference to the appearances under which the deity condescends to be known, out of deference to human need
  74. Nanda – the adoptive father of Krishna (Haberman 229)
  75. Nivrtti – a purely spiritual life (Clark 200)
  76. Om – the primal, holy syllable (Menon 692)
  77. Pada – ‘feet’ or ‘supports’ (Flood 160)
  78. Padukas – the symbolic “footprints” of a deity as established in the image by the pranapratistha rite (Eck 106)
  79. Panda – a traditional pilgrimmage guide (Haberman 229)
  80. Parikrama – “circumambulation”; the circling of an object as a way of honoring and experiencing it (Haberman 229)
  81. Pitha – “seat, bench” – a locus of goddess worship (Eck 106)
  82. Prana – life breaths (Menon 693)
  83. Pravrtti – a life of worldly activity (Clark 200)
  84. Prana – breath (Flood 84)
  85. Prasad – literally “grace”; usually refers specifically to edible grace, that is, food given to a worshipper after it has been offered to a deity (Haberman 230)
  86. Prema – the highest “love” (Haberman 229)
  87. Puja – ritual worship (Menon 693)
  88. Punya – merit from meritorious karmic action (Flood 86)
  89. Puram – a class of war or heroic poetry that is ‘outside’ or ‘external’ (Flood 129)
  90. Purana – a genre of Hindu scripture which contains a wealth of mythology and traditional history. There are 18 major Puranas, chief among them for the residents of Braj is the Bhagavata Purana (Haberman 229)
  91. Purnima – the full moon (Menon 693)
  92. Purushartas  – Hindu axiological doctrine which classifies the goal of human endeavor as dharma, artha, kama, and moksha (Sharma)
  93. Pustimarga – the path of grace (Flood 141)
  94. Radha – Krishna’s main consort and chief lover. Theologically, Radha is an aspect of Krishna’s own bliss and as such is the source of love (Haberman 230)
  95. Rasa – aesthetic experience (Flood 141)
  96. Ratha – a chariot (Menon 694)
  97. Rekha – a line of power (Menon 694)
  98. Revati – a consort of Balarama (Haberman 229)
  99. Ritvik – a priest (Menon 694)
  100. Rta – a word with three layers of meaning: natural order, moral order, and ritual order (Sharma)
  101. Rudra – Shiva; also any of eleven fierce beings associated with Shiva (Menon 694)
  102. Sadhana – a “means of realization”; religious practice (Haberman 229)
  103. Sadhu – “accomplished one”; an individual who has achieved liberation in his life (Renard 161)
  104. Sakhi – a “girlfriend” of Radha and Krishna
  105. Sakitmat – the ‘holder of power’ (Flood 140)
  106. Sambur – a species of deer (Menon 694)
  107. Sampradaya – sect, order, or tradition that refers to a deity, often regional in character (Flood 134)
  108. Samsara – the round of rebirth (Gethin 321)
  109. Sanatana Dharma – eternal law (Flood 255
  110. Sannyasa – the condition of being a hermit (Menon 694)
  111. Saras – a lake (Menon 694)
  112. Saringa – Krishna’s bow (Menon 694)
  113. Sarvodhaya – welfare of all (Flood 260)
  114. Sastra – “teaching” – a sacred treatise or body of learning (Eck 107)
  115. Sat/Satya – truth (Sharma)
  116. Sati – a virtuous woman (Embree 98)
  117. Satyagrahis – followers of Gandhi and his satyagraha
  118. Seva – devotion, service (Flood 137)
  119. Shakti – “feminine energy”; generic name of female divine consorts (Renard 161)
  120. Shastra – scripture (Menon 695)
  121. Sishya – a pupil or discipline (Menon 695)
  122. Sivalinga – a phallic emblem of Shiva (Menon 695)
  123. Shruti – “heard”; referring to the authoritative status of the earliest categories of sacred scriptures, the Vedas and Upanishads (Renard 161)
  124. Sloka – a sacred verse (Menon 695)
  125. Soma – moon good; also, lunar nectar (Menon695)
  126. Smriti – “remembered”; the later scriptures, including the epics and puranas, for example (Renard 161)
  127. Sruti – a tone or octave (Menon 695)
  128. Sukshma – subtle; incorporeal (Menon 695)
  129. Surya – the sun God (Menon 695)
  130. Svar – sky (Flood 112)
  131. Svarupa – a natural form of God (Haberman 231)
  132. Svayambhu – “self-born; self-manifest.” that which is beginning-less, un-created; therefore, used to describe certain images which are said to have appeared spontaneously and were not established by human hands (Eck 107)
  133. Swapna – a dream (Menon 695)
  134. Swarga – Heaven (Menon 695)
  135. Tamas – the third and grossest guna, or essence, in nature (Menon 695)
  136. Tapas – ascetic practices (Flood 81)
  137. Tirtha – a sacred place (Menon 695)
  138. Trimurti – the Hindu ‘Trinity’ comprising Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva (Sharma)
  139. Trishula – a trident (Menon 696)
  140. Ubhaya Vedanta – ‘Dual Vedanta’ incoprorated by the Tamil tradition that reveres both the Sanskrit tradition from Vedas and the Tamil tradition of the Alvars (Flood 132)
  141. Upanishads – interpreation at the end of the Veda for analyses of the ritual process and inner meanings; etymology: ‘upa’ – near to, and ‘nisad’ – to sit down like that of a student to a guru (Flood 83)
  142. Upasana – religious worship (Flood 137)
  143. Uri – the inner emotions of love (Flood 129)
  144. Vaastu Shanti – a rite for peace in a new dwelling (Menon 696)
  145. Vaikunta – Vishnu’s celestial city (Menon 696)
  146. Vaishnavism – amajor school of Hinduism that worships Vishnu or Krishna as the supreme reality (Haberman 231)
  147. Vajra – Indra’s thunderbolt (Menon 696)
  148. Vanara – a member of an ancient, magical race of monkeys (Menon 696)
  149. Varna – “color” (popularly but erroneously understood as “caste”); referring to one of the four major traditional socio-religious distinctions: priest, warrior, merchant, peasant (Renard 161)
  150. Varaha – a boar; Vishnu’s third incarnation (Menon 696)
  151. Veda – originally one, became four; the ancient collections of sacred Hindu prayers and hymns (Menon 696)
  152. Vedanta – “end of the Veda”; originally referring to the Upanishads; a school of thought dedicated to the path of knowledge (Renard 161)
  153. Vellala – a low-caste farming family (Flood 131)
  154. Vivekin – a spiritually discriminating person that inevitably suffers (Flood 76)
  155. Vishnu – the preserver of the Hindu trinity (Menon 696)
  156. Vishram, Vishranti – literally “rest”; also ascetic repose (Haberman 231)
  157. Vrata – a vow or observance (Flood 156)
  158. Yaga – a sacrifice (Menon 696)
  159. Yagnapashu – a sacrificial best (Menon 697)
  160. Yajamana – the patron of a ritual (Flood 87)
  161. Yantra – magical diagrams (Flood 178)
  162. Yatra – a “journey” – often refers specifically to the site of a tryst of Radha and Krishna (Haberman 232)
  163. Yoga – spiritual knowledge that can be attained by asceticism or world-renunciation and disciplines (Flood 75)
  164. Yoga-Pitha – a “place of union.” Refers specifically to the site of a tryst of Radha and Krishna (Haberman 232)
  165. Yogi – one who, through yoga, is united with his higher self or with God (Menon 697)

 

Works Cited

Clark, Walter Eugene. “Some Misunderstandings about India.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 46 (1926): 198-200. JSTOR. Web.

Eck, Diana L. Darsan: Seeing the Divine Image in India. New York, NY: Columbia UP, 1998. Print.

Embree, Ainslie Thomas. The Hindu Tradition. New York: Modern Library, 1972. Print.

Flood, Gavin D. An Introduction to Hinduism. New York, NY: Cambridge UP, 1996. Print.

Gethin, Rupert. The Foundations of Buddhism. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998. Print.

Haberman, David L. Journey through the Twelve Forests: An Encounter with Krishna. New York: Oxford UP, 1994. Print.

Renard, John. Responses to 101 Questions on Hinduism. Mahwah: Paulist, 1999. Print.

Sharma, Arvind. Classical Hindu Thought: An Introduction. New Delhi: Oxford UP, 2000. Print.

Soccio, Douglas J. Archetypes of Widsom: An Introduction to                   Philosophy. Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.

Valmiki, and Ramesh Menon. The Ramayana. New York: North Point, 2003. Print.

 

 

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