The Spiritual Import of the Mahabharata and the Bhagavadgita
by Swami Krishnananda


Glossary of Sanskrit Terms

A

abhyasa: repetition; practice
abhyasa yoga: the yoga of persistent practice
adhibhuta: pertaining to the elements
adhidaiva: presiding deity
adhiyajna: the entire administration of the cosmos in its various facets
adhyatma: spirituality; pertaining to the spiritual
advaita: non-dual
advaita vedanta: non-dualistic philosophy
aham: I; the ego
ahamkara: egoism or self-conceit
ajnachakra: the psychic point between the eyebrows
ajnana: spiritual ignorance
akshara: imperishable Brahman
ananda: bliss; happiness; joy
ananya chintana: completely absorbed thinking or contemplation.
annamaya kosha: gross physical body; food sheath
anatma(n): non-self; insentient
antahkarana: internal instrument; fourfold mind; mind, intellect, ego and subconscious mind
arati: waving of light before the Lord
artha: meaning; sense; purpose; object of perception or desire; wealth asana: posture; seat
ashtanga yoga: the eight-limbed raja yoga of Maharshi Patanjali
asura: demon; evil tendency in man
atma(n): the Self
avatara: incarnation

B

bhagavan: the Lord
Bhagavadgita: 700 verses from the great Hindu epic Mahabharata recording the conversation between Lord Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra, prior to the commencement of the war and giving in clear and concise form the highest teachings and truths
bhakta: devotee
bhakti: devotion; love of God
bhakti yoga: path of devotion
bhav(a): mental attitude; feeling; purity of thought
bheda: difference; splitting; soliciting political alliances against an opponent
bhokta: subject of experience or enjoyment
bhrumadhya: concentration on the centre between the eyebrows
bhuma: the unconditioned; infinite; Brahman
brahma-loka: highest heaven
brahma-jnana: direct knowledge of Brahman
brahmakara vritti: thought of Brahman alone that is arrived at through intense Vedantic meditation
Brahman: the Absolute Reality, Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute; the Supreme Reality that is one and indivisible, infinite and eternal; all-pervading, changeless Existence
brahma-vidya: science of Brahman; knowledge of Brahman; learning pertaining to Brahman or the Absolute Reality
Buddha: the enlightened one; full of knowledge
buddhi: the discriminating faculty; intellect; reason; understanding

C

chaitanya: the consciousness that knows itself and knows others; Absolute consciousness
chakra: plexus; a centre of psychic energy in the human system
chit: the principle of universal intelligence or consciousness
chitta: the subconscious mind

D

dakshina marg: the Southern Path
dama: control of the outer senses
dana: charity; giving; a political sacrifice
danda: the staff of a mendicant or a sannyasin; a kind of physical exercise common in India; punishment
darshan: vision; sight; way of seeing
dharana: concentration of mind
dharma: righteous way of living as enjoined by the sacred scriptures; characteristics; virtue
dhyana: meditation; contemplation
dukhya: pain; misery; sorrow; grief
dvaita: dualism

G

ghee: clarified butter
Gita: see the BhagavadGita
guna: quality born of nature; sattva, rajas and tamas
guru: teacher, spiritual preceptor

H

Hiranyagarbha: cosmic intelligence

I

ida nadi: the psychic nerve current through the left nostril
istha devata: chosen deity for worship
Ishwara: God

J

japa: repetition of the Lord’s Name, repetition of a mantra
jigjnasu: one who seeks knowledge or reality
jitaatma: one who has attained self-control
jitendriya: one who has restrained the senses
jiva: individual soul with ego
jivanmukta: one who is liberated in this life
jivatma(n): individual soul
jnana: knowledge, wisdom of the Reality or Brahman
jnana indriya(s): organs of knowledge
jyoti: light

K

kama: desire, passion, lust, legitimate desires
kapha: one of the doshas (humours) of Ayurveda, meaning “phlegm”
karma: actions operating through the law of cause and effect
karma bandhana: the bondage of karma
karma bhumi: land of action, the earth plane
karmakaushala: dexterity in action  
karma-phala-bhoga: experience of fruit of actions
karma yoga: the yoga of selfless service
karma yogi: one who practises karma yoga
kirtan: singing the name and glory of God
kramamukti: progressive emancipation
kosha: sheath
krisattva: integrality
kritsnam: completeness
kshara: perishable
kripa: grace, mercy, blessing
kshatriya: warrior class
kshetra: field, holy place, physical body in the philosophical sense
kshetrajna: knower of the field
kumbhaka: form of breath control involving breath retention
kutastachaitanya: the changeless, permanent Self

L

loka: world of names and forms

M

mahatma: great soul, saint, sage
Mahat-tattva: the great principle, principle of intelligence
mahat: great, lofty, or, the primordial evolution of prakriti
Makara Sankranti: movement of the sun across the Tropic of Capricorn that begins summer in the northern hemisphere
mala: rosary
manana: pondering the meaning of the scriptures
mantra: sacred syllable or word or set of words through the repetition and reflection of which one attains perfection or realisation of the Self
mara: mortal, perishable
marga: path
maya: the illusory power of Brahman, the veiling and projecting power
moksha: liberation, Absolute Experience
mrityuloka: world of suffering
mukta: the liberated one
mulaprakriti: the ultimate subtle cause for all matter
muni: a silent person

N

nadabindukalatita: the supreme state of Brahman
nam(a): name
niddhyasana: deeply meditating on the meaning of the scriptures
nirakara: formless
nirguna: without attribute
nirvana: liberation, final emancipation
nirvitarka: unchanging

O

omkara: OM

P

parabhakti: highest level of devotion
pravesa: to dissolve oneself
pingalanadi:the psychic nerve current which terminates in the right nostril
pitta: one of the doshas (humours) of Ayurveda, meaning “fire”
prakriti: nature, causal matter
pralaya: dissolution, complete merging
pramada: heedlessness, carelessness
prana: vital energy, life-force, life-breath
prana sakti: subtle vital power arising from the control of prana and self-restraint  
pranava: the sacred monosyllable “ OM”
pranayama: regulation and restraint of breath
prasad: food dedicated to a deity during worship and then eaten by devotees as something sacred
pratyahara: abstraction or withdrawal of the senses
puja: worship, adoration
pundit: scholar, learned man
Puranas: Hindu scriptures containing the whole body of Hindu mythology (major Puranas are eighteen in number)
purusha: the Supreme Being, the Self which abides in the heart of all things
purushartha: right exertion
purushottama: the Supreme Person

R

rajas, rajo guna: one of the three aspects of cosmic energy,
the principle of dynamism in Nature bringing about all
change, activity, passion, restlessness
rajasuya: a sacrifice performed by a monarch
raja yoga: the royal yoga of meditation; the system of yoga generally taken to be the one propounded by Patanjali Maharshi
raja yogi: one who practises raja yoga
rishi: sage, seer of truth

S

samyavastha: equilibrated condition of the cosmos
sadhak(a): spiritual aspirant
sadhu: a pious or righteous person, a sannyasin, a holy person
saguna: with attributes or qualities
sama: control of mind, tranquillity, or, political conciliation between opponents
samadhi: the state of superconsciousness where Absoluteness is experienced, attended with all-knowledge and joy, Oneness
samadhana: proper concentration
samatva: evenness of mind, equanimity
Samkhya: correct understanding, knowledge of reality; a school of philosophy
samkhyabuddhi: correct understanding, higher reason
samsara: life through repeated births and deaths, the process of worldly life
samskara: mental impression, subconscious tendency
samyam(a): perfect restraint, an all-complete condition of balance and repose, concentration, meditation and samadhi
sankalpas: imaginations
santi(h): peace or transitional period
sannyasi(n): a monk, one who has embraced the life of complete renunciation
sat: Existence Absolute, Being, Reality, Truth
satchidananda: Existence-Consciousness-Bliss Absolute
satta: Reality
satsang(a): association with the wise
sattva: light, purity, reality
sattvic: pure
satyaloka: heaven
satyamukti: immediate salvation
savitarka: with logic and argumentation
seva: service
shakti: power, energy, force, the Divine Power of becoming, the dynamic aspect of Eternal Being, the Absolute Power or cosmic energy
sharanagati: self-surrender
shastra: scriptures, words of authority
siddhi: psychic power, perfection
sloka: verse
sraddha: faith
sravana: listening or hearing the scriptures
sukha purvata: type of breath control
sunya: merit
sushumnanadi: the psychic nerve current that terminates in the sahasrara
sutratman: the cosmic thread
svabhava: one’s own nature or potentiality, innate nature
svadharma: one’s own prescribed duty in life according to the eternal law
swami: a Hindu monk

T

tamas, tamo guna: ignorance, inertia, darkness
tanmatras: rudimentary element in an undifferentiated state
tantra: path of spiritual practice laying emphasis on japa and various esoteric practices
tapas(ya): asceticism, austerity
tattva: reality, element, truth, essence, principle

U

upadhis: limiting adjuncts or additions, superimposition that gives a limited view of the Absolute and makes It appear as the relative
Upanishads: knowledge portion of the Vedas, texts dealing with the ultimate Truth and Its realisation. 108 Upanishads are regarded as important ones of which ten are regarded as most important
upasana: worship, devout meditation
uttaramarga:northern path

V

vairagya: dispassion, indifference towards sensual objects and enjoyments
vata: one of the doshas or humours of Ayurveda, meaning “wind”
Vedanta: the end of the Vedas (lit.), the Upanishads
Vedas: the most ancient authentic scripture of the Hindus, a revealed scripture and therefore free from imperfections
vibhuti: manifestation
vichar(a): enquiry into the nature of the Self, Brahman, Truth Absolute
virat: the physical world
vitarka: projection, emanation, ejection, bringing forth

Y

yajna: sacrifice
yoga: union (lit.), abstract meditation or union with the Supreme Being, unruffled state of mind under all conditions; yoga is mainly of four types; karma, bhakti, raja and jnana
yogi(n): one who practises yoga
yogayukta: established in yoga
yugas: divisions of time
yugasanti: one power colliding with another power