As a Sadhaka (truth/spiritual seeker) on the yogic path, an understanding of Vedanta and it’s rich and ancient Sanskrit language, is an essential part of bringing the practice to Life and embodying the universal Truths of the Yoga tree. If we are blessed with the luxury to study books and to reflect on teachings from enlightened masters and ancient sages may we be grateful for such a blessing and delve in. However when the heart is pure, such universal Truth can be experience and embodied without ever reading a word! Hence the diversity of the Tree’s branches. No Body is excluded from the Spirit of Love that lies within.
Profound terms exist in Sanskrit that the English language takes multiple words/sentences/essays to describe, still without hitting the spot!
Advaita Vedanta and Samkhya are fascinating explorations of reality, delving into the most fundamental and primal concerns of existence – absolutely worth journeying into.
When pondering the term Hiranyagarbha (one with a Golden Womb, unmanifested Cosmic mind/creator) I came across this wonderful glossary of Sanskrit/Vedantic terms compiled by Advaita Vision (at advaita.org.uk) an open platform for all committed to self enquiry. Greatest thanks to them. “The definitions of the words in this Glossary are compiled from several sources. We are grateful to all the original sources.”
I just love to soak up these words and feel the naked truth in the sounds they are crafted from and how this weaves into modern language.
Adhisthana – Substratum.
Adhyaropa – Superimposition.
Aham – The sense of I, Embodied self,
Ahamkara – I – sense, I – consciousness, ego.
Ajapajapa – A yogic process of linking mantra japa with the cylces of breaths.
Anima – See under Siddhis.
Aniyata – Unregulated, Not sure to happen
Antahkarana – It is a combination of four types of intellectual activities called Manas, Buddhi, Chitta, and Ahamkara. Some texts translate ‘antahkarana’ as ‘inner organ’. (The English word ‘mind’ generally denotes all the four functions of thinking, discrimination, memory and ego. But the word ‘mind’ is also used as translation for manas in some
texts. The Sanskrit word ‘ manas’ is also loosely used as a substitute for ‘antahkarana’ in some contexts. The Sanskrit words manas, buddhi and chitta are also sometimes used to indicate antahkarana.)
Antas sanga (Sanga) – Forgetting that ‘self’ is actually Infinite Self and craving for worldly
pleasures. The word sanga is defined in several other ways too. The literal meaning of antas sanga is internal attachment.
Apavaada – (i) Exception to a general rule. (ii) In the context of Advaita philosophy: A process of mentally negating series of superimpositions (adhyaropa).
Asamprajnata – The state when the mind is identified
Samadhi – with the Supreme Self without any thought waves.
Atma – Individual self. The word atma without any prefix denotes a Jiva or Jivatma.
Avidya – Nescience; Ignorance about the Ultimate truth of Self of an individual. Maya and
Avidya are sometimes used synonymously.
Bija – Seed, generally implies root cause. Sometimes it is used to indicate tiny things. Bija askhara (seed letter) refers to a letter that represents a very deep and elaborate meaning and spiritual significance.
Brahma – The personification of the Creator. (see Brahman also)
Brahma randhra – The vertex of the skull. It is said that there is a fine hole at the
vertex and the Sushumna nadi passes up through this hole to connect the individual to the Brahma loka through Solar rays. Brhama randhra is the center of the seventh chakra (Sahasraara) which corresponds with the Pineal plexus.
Brahman – Brih means to expand, spread all over. It stands for the primordial undifferentiated changeless, limitless and everlasting, nameless substance that forms the substratum for the world. The Advaitic view is that Brahman is the Universal Self, the Absolute that appears as the world. Parabrahman is also used sometimes. The word Brahman ending with ‘n’ is used to mean the Universal Self while the word Brahma ending with ‘a’ is used to mean the creator. Braahmana etymologically means one who is
knowledgeable of Brahman. In common usage Braahman denotes a social class/caste.
Buddhi – A part of antahkarana which is associated with decision-making-faculty. In general literature this word sometimes indicates intellect.
Chaitanya – Consciousness. (Note: A convention has been adopted in the text in capitalizing the words that describe the Supreme Self or Pure Consciousness.
Consciousness (with capital ‘C’) refers to the Supreme Self; consciousness (lower case ‘c’) refers to general awareness. Other words like Knowledge – knowledge, Time – time, Truth – truth, Awareness – awareness etc. have also similar significance).
Chetya – Pereceivables, visibles, objects perceived in the world. The word “Percept” is used by us to indicate a map in the mind (brain) of what is perceived.
Chidaabhaasa sphurti – Chidaabhasha literally means reflection of chit and denotes I –
consciousness. Chidaabhasha sphurti means experiencing the I – consciousness.
Chit – Same as Chaitanya
Chitta – A part of antahkarana associated with recapitulative faculty. In literature the words manas, buddhi and chitta are used to denote mind in general.
Chitta satta (Sarupa manonaasa) – Annulment of mind is of two types. When the mind is annulled with its form retained, it is called sarupa manonasa or chitta satta. When the form also is eliminated, then it is arupa manonasa which is none other than Videhamukti.
Dama – Restraint of the external functions of the organs.
DRik – The name of the Seer when there is nothing to be seen; Used for the Brahman state. Potent – Looker.
DRisya – The object seen, perceived.
Gunas – Refers to sattva, rajas and tamas – These three are the fundamental qualities or tendencies that underlie all manifestations.
Hiranyagarbha – Literally means “One with a Golden Womb.” Represents the unmanifested cosmic mind and the creator.
Japa – Repeated recitation of a Hymn or the name of a God.
Jiva or Jivaatma – Individual self, embodied person.
Jivanmukta – One who realized that his self and the Supreme Self are One when he is still living.
Jnana samadhi – Knowledge – based Deep Meditation.
Jnani – One who realized Self.
Kalpa – Period equivalent to 4.32 billion earth years. A span of 4.32 million years forms a set of Four Yugas. A thousand of such sets of Four Yugas make one day time of Brahman.
Brahman has an equally long night time. A day time of Brahma is called a Kalpa.
Karma – Action. Also refers loosely to the effects of action. Karma is of three types viz. agami, sanchita and prarabdha. The accumulation of the effects of all actions of the countless past births is called sanchita karma. Out of the sanchita karma, a small portion is segregated to be enjoyed during the present life. This specific portion is called prarabdha. The part of sanchita which is going to give us future births is agami karma.
Kartritva – Doership, owning the responsibility for doing an action.
Linga sariira (Sukshma sarira) – Subtle body which consists of five sense organs, the five action organs, the subtle five elements, antahkarana and prana.
Lambika Yoga – A process of Hatha Yoga wherein the nerve under the tongue is cut so that the tongue can be folded back to press up the uvula and receive the drops of nectar from sahasraara.
Mahat – Intellectual principle as source of ahamkara (I – consciousness).
Mahayuga – The combined span of the four Yugas viz., Krita , Treta, Dwapara and Kali. It is also known as Chaturyugi.
Manana – Firming up in the mind that Brahman is the substrate of all things through continuous Reflection.
Manas – A part of antahkarana that is associated with thoughts and counter thoughts. Sometimes the word manas is used loosely to denote antahkarana.
Manvantara – Equivalent to 71 sets of Four Yugas.
Maaya – Illusion. The veiling and projecting power of Brahman. It is like an operator “+”. It does not associate with operands. Nor does it itself undergo any change. But it brings out an illusory change. E.g. Brahman + Thought is Hiranyagarba.
Mithya – One which is neither existent nor non – existent (apparition).
Mukti – Literally means liberation. It is of four types.
(i) Saalokya mukti: living permanently in the same world as the worshipped God.
(ii) Saamipya mukti: Living permanently in close association of the worshipped God.
(iii) Saaruupya mukti: Attaining the same form as that of the worshipped God.
(iv) Saayujya mukti: Merging with the worshipped God.
The above four types of liberation are followed in the Devotional path. Liberation in Advaita philosophy stands for complete identification with the Non-Dual Supreme Self, Brahman.
Nididhyaasa Nididhyaasana – It is the practice through Contemplation or Meditation of repeatedly focusing the residual thought wave on Brahman after the completion of the process of sublation.
Nimitta kaarana – Subsidiary instrumental or enabling cause.
Nirguna – Devoid of the three Gunas, attributeless.
Niyata – Regulated, Sure to happen
Niyati – The inexorable Laws of Nature. In this text this word is used to denote the natural principles of the universe, which are guided and determined by the thought process of the supreme creator, Hiranyagarbha.
Pancha Bhutas – The existence of an object in creation can be established only by experience. An object can be experienced only through the sense organs which are five in number. Each of the sense organ can detect only one attribute of the object and hence what constitute the creation can be correspondingly five fundamental properties.
Accordingly there are five fundamental elements. These are earth, water, fire, wind and space.
Para or Parama – Higher, Supreme, not belonging to this world. Para indicates other also. Parabrahman – See Brahman.
Paaramaarthika Paramartha means the Ultimate or the Supreme thing to be attained. That which is related to be attained Paramartha is paaramaarthika.
Paramatma – Supreme Self, Universal Brahman.
Prarabdha, Praarabdha – See Karma.
Parinama – Evolution. Formation of an object by re-arranging the parts in the material cause.
Prakriti – Nature. Primal substance from which all things are created.
According to Sankhya System there are two ultimate fundamentals of truth in the universe. They are Purusha and Prakriti.
Purusha – is the one with consciousness but He is actionless. Prakriti, also known as Pradhana, is inert but it is the creator of the universe. Prakriti has three intrinsic parts called trigunas i.e. sattva, rajas and tamas.
Pralaya – Complete merging, dissolution. Dissolution (with capital “D”) that comes at the end of one cycle of creation. End of Kalpa.
Pratyabhijna – Re-cognition after a lapse.
Pratyaksha Pramaana – Direct cognition. In Advaita philosophy, direct cognition connotes the identity of ‘individual self’ with the Supreme Self without mediation.
Pravilaapana – Absorption. The mental process of traveling back taking the series of causes as steps and reaching the causeless Supreme Brahman.
Panchiikaranam – Qunituplication i.e., mixing the five elements in a systematic way.
Rajas – The second of the three gunas. It signifies activity, energy, motion, desire, anger etc.
Saadhak – Seeker on a spiritual path.
Saadhana chatustaya sampatti – Fourfold Aids of Seeking:
(i) Discrimination between the eternal (Truth) and the ephemeral (objects of the world) (Nitya anitya vastu viveka).
(ii) Renunciation of the worldly desires or desires pertaining to heaven (Iha amutra phala bhoga viraaga).
(iii) The six qualities like control of internal organs, external organs
etc. (Samaadi shatka sampatti).
(iv) Unceasing Desire for Liberation (Mumukshutva).
Sadrupa – In the form of sat, Pure Existence.
Saguna – Associated with the three gunas, attributes.
Samaadhi – Thoughtless state of meditation. It is divided into many subtypes such as:
(i) Sabija samadhi – a samadhi wherein the sacred sounds of hymns like ‘Om’ are concentrated upon.
(ii) Nirbija samadhi – a samadhi where no sounds or thoughts are allowed to remain.
(iii) Savikalpa samadhi – a samadhi where contemplation on the Supreme Self continues like an unbroken stream of oil.
(iv) Nirvikalpa samadhi – a samadhi where the aspirant’s consciousness stays dissolved in the Supreme Self with an experience of total Oneness.
Samprajnaata samaadhi – Deep Meditation. This is an effortless process of having the stream of thoughts filled with the Brahman.
Samsaara – State of Bondage. Also refers to the cycle of births and deaths, the visible world and the universe, which is considered to be a phantasmagoria.
Samskaara – see sanskaaras.
Samvit – This word has been used with different meaning in this text. (i) a thought wave on knowledge; (ii) Pure Knowledge; (iii) Potent Knower.
Samyak jnaana – Proper Knowledge.
Sankalpa – Thoughts. Also sometimes intentions.
Sankalpa vikalpa – Thoughts and counter thoughts.
Sanskaaras – Innate tendencies. Impressions of past actions carried in the mind.
Vasanas sat – Pure existence; beingness
Sarga – A sub-chapter; Section within a Chapter.
Saarupya Mukti – See under Mukti.
Satta samanya – Common or Universal beingness.
Sattva (satva) – The first of the three gunas. It signifies qualities like goodness, softness, wisdom and the like.
Shama – Control of internal organs (mind). Abandonment of desires.
Shravana – Translated as Listening to scriptures in the present text. This is a practice towards the conviction and affirmation that the meaning of all Vedic statements indicates the Oneness of Brahman.
Siddhi – Yogic accomplishments, attainments. They are eight types. (i) Anima: Miniaturization. (ii) Mahima: Expansion to colossal size. (iii) Laghima: Becoming light. (iv) Garima: Becoming heavy. (v) Praapti: Materialization. (vi) Praakaamya: Teletransportation. (vii) IIsatvam: Supremacy. (viii) Vasitvam: Control of one’s own organs.
Sloka – A verse or stanza
Sphurana – A flash. A flash-wave of thought. Arising of an experience.
Sphurti – Same as above
Sthiti – Sustenance is the process of sustaining something (i.e. providing support physically or mentally). Some texts translate sthiti to mean maintenance (to cause something to continue in the same state or level). Other translations for sthiti adopted by some authors are: being; existing; subsistence; state. Subsistence usually means ‘to maintain oneself at the minimum level.’ The word ‘state’ is commonly used for physical states of matter (e.g.: water, ice and steam). The words existence and beingness are commonly used as the meaning of the Sanskrit word ‘sat.’ Hence we preferred here the word “sustenance” for Sthiti as it is more proximal to the connotation in Yogavaasishta.
Svasvarupa – One’s own original form – refers to the Supreme Self.
Taadaatmya-adhyaasa – Taadaatmya means identification of one with the other; adhyaasa means imagination. Taadaatmyaadhyaasa is an illusory feeling that ‘that is myself’ or ‘that is something else’.
Tamas – The third of the three gunas. It signifies lethargy, inertia, lust, cruelty and the like.
Tapas – Austerity, meditation
Tapasvi – Ascetic; one who practices austerities.
Triputi – Triad of the observer – observed – observing and the like.
Turiiya – The fourth state which is distinct from the wakeful, dream and deep sleep states and exists pervading all the states.
Turiiyaatiita – The state beyond Turiiya, generally corresponds to videhakaivalya.
Turiiyaatiitaa is used by a few teachers to explain the all pervading Oneness because some mistake Turiya as a ‘state’ comparable to the other three states of wakeful, dream and deep sleep states.)
Upadaana kaarana – Material cause.
Upaadhi – Limiting adjunct. Also body.
Upasama – The calming down, stillness, quietitude, annulment or annihilation.
Utpatti – Creation, origination.
Vaasanaas – Impressions. Represent the influences from actions of past births.
Videhamukti – Liberation without body.
Vivarta – Illusory visualization of an object, a changeless-change.
Vritti – Thought-wave, a modification in the mind.
Vyavahara – Mundane, worldly, transactional, operational, empirical.
Yuga – A span of 432 crores of human years was decided as the period of the whole universe and it is called Kalpa was subdivided into Mahayugas. A Mahayuga consists of 4320000 of Human years. A Mahayuga is divided into four Yugas called – Kaliyuga, Dwaparayuga, Treta yuga and Krita yuga. Kaliyuga is = 432000 human years Dwapara Yuga = Kali x 2 = 864000 human years Treta yuga = Kali x3 =1296000 human years Krita yuga = Kali x4 = 1728000 human years Mahayuga = 4320000 human years Thus – 432 and three zeros make a Kaliyuga 432 and four zeros make a Mahayuga 432 and seven zeros make a Kalpa