Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

The Fundamentals of the Bhakti Tradition
in Hinduism

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by Professor V. Krishnamurthy

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Glossary of Technical Terms and Puranic Persons Mentioned

(The technical terms are italicised with phonetic spelling;
names of persons are given with their non-phonetised popular spelling.)

Part I Part II Part III Part IV Part V Part VI Part VII Part VIII Part IX Part X Part XI (i) Part XI (ii) Part XII Part XIII Part XIV (i) Part XIV (ii) Part XV Part XVI (i) Part XVI (ii) Glossary A-M

Narada: the great divine devotee of the Lord, who perambulates all the three worlds with the Lord's name in his heart and on his lips, with a vINA in his hand, bringing comfort to all, through his famous but mysterious machinations, which always end in the success of virtue over vice; the apostle of nAma-sankIrtana (= recitation and singing of God's names) and the legendary author of the authoritative bhakti-sUtras. He is not only the divine messenger in the PurANa-s, but the friend, philosopher, guide and consoler of all - gods, humans and asuras alike - the intermediary between God and His creation.He places himself in the hands of God as a willing instrument for the service of man and prefers to enjoy the divine play and company to becoming merged in Him for ever. To that extent he is gracious enough to retain a little ego to teach the other souls immersed in saMsAra
Panchali: another name for Draupadi, because she is the daughter of the King of Panchala
Pandavas: The five sons of Pandu; the heroes of the epic M.B., much maligned by the Kauravas, the one hundred sons of Dhritarashtra
Parasara: Father of Vyasa; author of one of the smRRiti (moral codes) known as Parasara-smRRiti. Later in the 12th century, Shri Ramanuja named one of his disciples Parasara, who wrote the famous commentary on Vishnu-sahasra-nAma, known as the Parasara-bhatta-bhAshya
parA-shakti: the Ultimate Godhead of Power; another name for pure spirit or pure Consciousness
Parikshit: the Pandava emperor; grandson of Arjuna; son of Abhimanyu; to him was narrated the entire bhagavata story by Sage Suka and thus arose Vyasa's bhagavata-PurANa
Patanjali: a great seer of rare insight. The first exponent of the yoga system of Indian philosophy and the author of yogasUtra-s, the authoritative tone of which speaks of his genuine personal experience. Is probably different from the celebrated grammarian of the same name who lived in the 2nd century B.C.
Prahlada: the divine son of the undivine Hiranyakashipu whom the Gods and Asuras dreaded alike; Prahlada�s unshakable belief in the omnipresence of the Lord resulted in the Lord appearing from within a pillar, but appearing in such a form (half-man, half-lion) that it proved to be the end of Hiranyakashipu
prakRRiti: the one insentient origin of the universe; consists of the three guNas; has no power of independent actions, acts in the presence of the supreme parA-shakti
prArabdha-karma: the aggregate of actions that begin to bear fruit the moment one is born
puruShArtha: the goal of man; there are four goals: dharma, artha, kAma and mokSha
Radha: the celebrated gopi (milkmaid) of Brindavan, beloved of Krishna, and the principal character in Jayadeva�s Gita Govinda; in later times came to be worshippedas a goddess and an avatara of Lakshmi. Hindu literature and mythology are studded with stories of the mutual devotion and divine love of Radha with Krishna that we can no more think of one without the other
Rahugana: A King to whom Jadabharata gives the spiritual teaching in a most unexpected context
rajas, rajo-guNa: as an abstract quality, the expansion outwards into activity and multiplicity; in a human being, the tendency to be attached to activity; rajasik is used as the corresponding adjectival form in English
Ranganatha: name of the deity as worshipped in the famous temple of Srirangam
Ravana: the Brahmin-born Rakshasa king of Lanka, who brought destruction on himself by committing the one sin of carrying off Lord Rama�s consort, Sita. Since he met his end on the battlefield at the hands of the Lord Himself, he attained salvation (after one more birth)
Rg-veda: the first of the four Vedas, the oldest of religious compositions
sAdhanA: the practice of spiritual discipline
sAdhu: a holy man saguNa-brahman: brahman with attributes; the Absolute conceived as Creator, Preserver and Destroyer of the universe
sahasranAma: the litany of the thousand (and eight) names of God
samAdhi: the supreme goal of yogic effort; superconsciousness consequent on a total negation of the physical universe
SAma-veda: the third of the four Vedas, the most musical of them all
saMsAra: the cycle of births and deaths; (also) the course or circuit of worldly life
Sanandana: one of the four sons born out of the mind of Brahma the Creator; he renounced worldly life at birth
Sanat-sujata: one of the four sons of Brahma the Creator, born out of his sheer mental construct; like his three other brothers, Sanaka, Sanandana and Sanatana, he also refused to lead a worldly life and chose a life of renunciation and illumination
Samcita-karma: the entire aggregate of actions done in the past, including all previous lives � minus that portion which has already begun to give fruit in this life, technically called prArabdha-karma
sankIrtana: singing, in chorus, or otherwise (of the Lord�s names and glories)
sannyAsa-ASrama: the fourth stage, if at all, of a person�s life and personality
sannyAsi: a person in the fourth stage of man�s life; such a person must have renounced all wealth and property, kith and kin
sachchidAnanda: literally, Being-Consciousness-Bliss; a term for the divine state, since spiritual knowing is being the Self and it is pure Bliss
sattva, sattva-guNa: the tendency to spirituality, involving freedom from worldly passions and attachments; sattvik is used as the corresponding adjectival form in English
Shaiva: relating, belonging, devoted, consecrated to Shiva
shAstra: scientific, legal or canonical treatise
Shiva: the third of the classical Trinity, the other two being Brahma and Vishnu
Shiva-linga: a symbol of Shiva, indicating his divine creative and dissolutive functions, made of stone or other materials, in the shape of an ellipsoid; a holy symbol worshipped with the noblest attitude of prayer and surrender. The word �linga� has a root meaning � �that in which all beings are absorbed�
shloka: literally, a verse
shraddhA: literally, deep interest or devotion; technically, supreme devotion to the work on hand
shravaNa: the act of listening to or hearing (names of God and His glories)
shRshTi: creation
shruti: that which is heard; a collective name for all the Vedas
Shuka: the great boy-sage, son of vyAsa, noted as the perfect specimen of one who has renounced both internally and externally; therefore referred to in all scriptural literature as a brahma-j~nAni (= one who lives always in the full realisation of brahman)
siddha: literally, accomplishd, fulfilled, gained, acquired; technically, a semi-divine being of great spiritual purity and perfection and said to possess the eight supernatural faculties; colloquially, anyone who has supernatural powers whether or not he has spiritual enlightenment
Sisupala: the arch-enemy of Lord Krishna who finally met his end at the hands of the Lord and reached mokSham
smaraNa: the act of remembering (God and His glories)
smRRiti: the law books, forming the secondary source for Hinduism, guiding all daily life and conduct, private and public, secular as well as religious
Sugriva: the dethroned king of the monkey kingdom in the Ramayana; befriended by Lord Rama and restored by him to kingship; he placed the might of all his kingdom at Rama's disposal against Ravana svabhAva: inborn nature, temperament
svadharma: one�s own dharma or duty
tamas, tamo-guNa: abstractly this implies movement downwards from spirit to matter; in a human being it is the tendency to evil, malice and ignorance; tamasik is used as the corresponding adjectival form in English
tulsI: a plant most sacred to the worship of Vishnu
turIyAvasthA: the fourth state of Consciousness; a super-conscious state where perception of physical reality vanishes
Uddhava: cousin, admirer-devotee and confidant of Lord Krishna; the parting message that Krishna gives to him on the eve of His exit from the world is known as uddhava-gItA, built into 18 chapters of the eleventh skanda of the bhAgavata-PurANa
Upamanyu: son of Arjuna; a great warrior and a devotee of Krishna
upaniShad-s: the third and last part of the Vedas, forming the basis of the entire Hindu philosophy; along with the B.G. and the Br.S. it forms the triad of authoritative sources (prasthAna-traya) for Hindu philosophy
vaishNava: relating, belonging, devoted or consecrated to Vishnu
vaiSya: the third caste, engaged in trade, commerce and agriculture
Vali: the elder brother of Sugriva; he committed the indiscretion of misunderstanding Sugriva�s conduct in his absence and turned him out of the family as well as the kingdom and persecuted him almost to death; was finally punished by Rama who shot a fatal arrow at him from behind a tree. This questionable means of punishment has been a standing controversy ever since, even though Vali himself acquitted Rama of any guilt or adharma
Valmiki: the renowned author of the ancient Ramayana. He was earlier a highway robber but later by the circumstance and penance of repetition of the name Rama for several hundreds of years (even though he could only repeat mara, mara, �) he was transformed into the enlightened Maharshi Valmiki
vanaprastha-Asrama: the third stage, if at all, of a person�s life and personality; traditionally, the stage where the householder (and maybe, the spouse also) retire to the forest and live in seclusion, austerity and prayer
vAsanA-s: latent tendencies inherent in a human being resulting from the thoughts and actions in previous lives and governing those in the present life, unless overcome by discipline, penance and God�s Grace
vedAnta: literally, end of the Vedas; the main source for the intellectual interpretation of Hinduism
Vedas: the oldest Hindu literary compositions; the primary source for Hinduism
Vidura: the character in the M.B. who is depicted as the repository of wisdom; respected by one and all for his wisdom, though born of a lower caste; a great silent devotee of Lord Krishna
vidyA: knowledge, learning; opposite of avidyA which means ignorance
Vishnu: the second of the classic Trinity, the other two being Brahma and Shiva
vishiShTAdvaita: the qualified non-dualistic philosophypropounded by the school of Ramanuja; it recognises the ultimate identity of the individual soul with brahman but emphasizes the practicality of the difference
Vyasa: the celebrated author and father figure not just in the story of the M. B., but in the entire cultural milieu of Hinduism. The prolific nature of his writings transcends, in quantum alone, not to speak of its qualitative impact, that of any writer in (probably) any language in the total history of mankind (also called Veda-vyAsa)
Yajna: act of worship or devotion; offering, oblation, sacrifice; special vedantic meaning given to it by the B.G.
Yajna-valkya: reputed Maharshi and Seer of the upaniShad-s; the famous teaching of Yajna-valkya to his wife Maitreyi, is found in Br.U.
Yajurveda: the second of the four Vedas
Yasoda: cow-herd queen and foster mother of Lord Krishna; she had several instances of the Godhood of the child Krishna but her affection and attachment were so intense that it turned into a motherly love of the divine in the form of the child
yoga: spiritual discipline
Yudhishtira: the eldest of the Pandavas in the M.B.; not only the true hero of the story, but the role model for all time for all souls wedded to dharma

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012