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)

Agama-s: the secondary scriptures that deal with temple and all other ritualistic worship
AgAmi karma: the aggregate of actions that one is yet to do
abhisheka: ritualistic bathing of a deity in the form of an idol or image
adharma: unrighteousness; the opposite of dharma; any action, thought or speech discordant with the soul�s natural urge to be one with the ultimate Supreme
advaita: non-dual; philosophy that holds that in the Absolute Reality (brahman or Atman) there is not the slightest element of duality
Agastya: one of the greatest sages of yore; the anecdotes that reveal his spiritual and psychic powers are in every PurANa; also considered to be the father of the Tamil language in the sense that the language and its grammar were divinely revealed to him
agni: fire; God of fire; one of the eight deities guarding the eight directions
AhalyA: sage Gautama�s loyal wife, who was, for once, disloyal; was it a willing act of sin or was it a tragedy of circumstances? � is a perennial controversy; AhalyA is listed as one among the five great chaste women of Hindu mythology
ahaMkAra: the ego; the feeling that this body and/or the mind within it is the Self
AjAmila: a brahmin who was ostracized by his caste because he married an outcaste and was so infatuated with her that he committed several misdeeds; however, when dying, he called to his side his son, Narayana, by name and was therefore redeemed by the Lord for taking His name!
Akrura: Krishna's paternal uncle and a great admirer-devotee of Lord Krishna
Akshara the imperishable, the immutable
alambana: prop
Alvars: twelve Vaishnava saints (3rd millennium BCE to 10th century CE) are called Alvars; their devotional poems in Tamil constitute the Divya Prabandhams (Divine Songs) considered equivalent to the Sanskrit Veda-s
Ambarisha: the great king in the ikshvAku dynasty, famous for his superlative devotion; his devotion withstood the wrath of even the fiercest sage, Durvasa
anAtman, anAtmA: that which is not the Atman; that which is not the Ultimate Reality; non-Self
apara bhakti: lower level devotion; not devotion to the Supreme Reality
apara shakti: the Power that is not supreme; connotes prakRRiti, which is secondary to the Ultimate Godhead, the parA shakti
arcanA: sequence of successive offerings of flowers or their equivalent to the deity during ritualistic worship
Arjuna: the great hero of the Mahabharata, the middle one of the five Pandava princes; friend and disciple of Lord Krishna - Krishna became his charioteer in the great war and their friendly discourse at the start of the battle constitutes the bhagavadgItA
artha: wealth and material happiness; the second of the four objectives (puruShArtha-s) of human life
arti: the ritual of waving lights or lighted camphor before a deity or a holy person
aSrama: hermitage of a holy person; (also) one of the four stages of human life
Atman, AtmA; the ultimate Reality of Hindu philosophy � sometimes loosely used in the sense of the individual �soul� auM: The ultimate syllable which stands for brahman itself, the one syllable with which every prayer, every arcanA and every chanting starts
avatAr, avatAra: the descent of Godhead as a physical manifestation, a divine incarnation
avidyA, aj~nAna: primal ignorance, veiling the true nature of brahman
Balarama: son of Rohini; elder brother of Lord Krishna
bhagavadgItA (B.G.): a part of the Bhishma-parva of the Mahabharata by Vyasa; the discourse between Arjuna and Krishna on the battlefield, teaching Arjuna the entire philosophy of karma, bhakti and j~nAna
BhAgavataM (BhA.) The most important of the eighteen purANa-s written by Vyasa; excellent in the sublimity, fervour and comprehensiveness of the pattern of matchless devotion-cum-enlightenment that it inculcates in the reader
bhajan: singing in chorus of prayers, hymns or names of God
bhakta: devotee
bhakti: devotion; worship of God or a holy person through personal love
Bhishma: the grandfather figure in the M.B.; respected and revered by everyone, friend and foe; an intense devotee, through intellectual conviction, of Lord Krishna; after the M.B. War, it was to him that Yudhishtira, at the instance of Lord Krishna, asked several questions on Hindu dharma and to him is owing the elaborate expositions on the various subtleties and niceties of dharma that occupy a sizable portion of the great epic
Brahma: the Creator, the first of the classic Trinity: Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva; philosophically he is the first-born jIva
brahmacharyi: generally, one who is in the first of the four stages of life; traditionally, any brahmin bachelor who has been initiated into the Veda-s and is devoting his time to learning and austerity under the supervision of his guru
brahman: metaphysical term in the neuter gender denoting the Transcendental Absolute Supreme Reality, the all-pervading principle of all that exists; to be clearly distinguished from the masculine gender word Brahma, the Creator
brAhmaNa: brahmin, one of the four varNas; (also) a section of the Veda-s
brahmasUtra-s: authoritative treatise of aphorisms on vedAnta; one of the three ultimate sources (prasthAna-traya) of Hindu philosophy
chakra-s: Literally, wheels or circles; in the literature on Yoga, cakra is a mystical circle or location, usually six in number, of the human body, viz., at the pubis, in the umbilical region, at the pit of the stomach, in the heart, at the hollow between the frontal of the sinuses and the space between the eyebrows
chit-shakti: pure Consciousness
dAkShiNa-murti: The manifestation of Shiva as a youthful preceptor, trampling upon the demon of ignorance, facing the southern direction to ward off Spiritual Death from His devotees and confer on them Immortality; the hymn composed by Shankara on Dakshina-murti, known as dakshina-murti ashTakam is very famous
darshana: seeing, paying a visit to a deity or a holy man; (also) silent transmission of spiritual experience to an audience or an individual
Dasaratha: father of Lord Shri Rama; a king of the Ikshvaku dynasty, also known as the solar line of kings
dharma: righteousness, duty, law, the inner characteristic of a thing without which it cannot be what it is; (also) the path which a man should follow in accordance with his nature (evolution) and station (Asrama) in life
Dhruva: the boy-devotee who decided to seek redress, from the Lord Himself, for the insulting treatment he got from his stepmother; when he did see the Lord after a historiuc penance for five and a half months, he had already become the lodestar in the firmament of bhakti
dhyAna: dynamic meditation and contemplation on the divine leading to enlightenment
Draupadi: Panchali princess, wife of the five Pandavas, heroine of the M.B. and an admirer-devotee of Lord Krishna who performed miracle after miracle in her favour
dvaita: dual; the dualistic philosophy which recognises an ultimate difference between the individual soul and God; the school of philosophy propagated by Madhwa
Gajendra: the elephant king of yore who appealed to the Fountain of Godhead (and none less!) at his greatest crisis and received divine rescue
Ganga: the Ganges; the deity associated with the river Ganges
Garuda: the King of birds; born of KaSyapa and VinatA; the bitter enemy of serpents; the eternal carrier or vAhana of Lord Vishnu and as such his most intimate devotee
Gopis: the milkmaids of Brindavan; companions and staunch self-effacing devotees of Lord Krishna; the role-models of bhakti par excellence
gRRihASrama: the second stage of life, namely the householder state of living
guNa-s: three essences, qualities, stresses, tensions or tendencies of Nature, viz., sattva, rajas and tamas
Hanuman: the well-known devotee of Lord Rama; the hero, next only to Rama himself, of the Ramayana; has the form of a monkey; considered as the foremost devotee of the Lord and to be worshipped as such as a God in his own right and as an ishTa-devatA (= favourite deity); the one deity worshipped and revered throughout the Hindu world without exception of caste or region or school of philosophy to which one adheres
Hiranyakashipu: father of Prahlada; the Asura King for whose destruction the Lord had to take the Narasimha avatara
Ikshvaku: the first King who ruled on earth in the present Manvantara, known as Vaivasvta Manvantara; his dynasty of kings includes such great names as Bhagiratha, Dilipa and Rama
ishTa-devatA: the God that suits one�s taste, temperament and tradition
jaDabharata: the perfect sage who, for fear of getting into the clutches of attachment, would not even talk, would not protest or resist whatever anybody did or spoke to him
Janaka: Sita�s father, in the Ramayana; the Upanishads speak, however, of a philosopher-king of the same name
JaTAyu: the vulture-friend of Rama (and of King Dasaratha) in the Ramayana; by offering his very life in the cause of Rama, in a fight with Ravana, he attained mokSham by dying on the lap of Lord Rama
Kamsa: maternal uncle of Lord Krishna; he was killed by the latter in a duel for his tyranny but as he was constantly thinking of the Lord even in his dreams, he was blessed with mokSham
King Bali: also known as mahAbali, grandson of the great devotee, Prahlada; by his spiritual prowess he became king of the three worlds; later the Lord had to appear as a dwarf (vAmana-avatAra) and trick him into submission by his own promise
Lakshmana: brother of Lord Rama in the Ramayana; the descent (= avatAra) on earth of Adi-Sesha, the serpent-seat of Lord Vishnu in the world of Vaikuntha
Lakshmi: the eternal consort of Lord Vishnu; the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity

Glossary N-Z

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Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012