Advaita Vision

Advaita for the 21st Century

Dictionary of common Sanskrit spiritual words
A - B

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Note that words appear in order of the Roman alphabet, not the Sanskrit alphabet.

English ITRANS Sanskrit Meaning


a A

as a prefix to another word, it changes it into the negative. e.g. vidya - knowledge, avidya - ignorance.


AchArya Aacay

a spiritual guide or teacher. See shankaracharya.


adhyAsa AXyas

used to refer to the 'mistake' that we make when we 'superimpose' a false appearance upon the reality or mix up the real and the unreal.


advaita AÖEt

not (a) two (dvaita).


AgAmin Aagaimn!

That type of sanskara which is generated in reaction to current situations and which will not bear fruit until sometime in the future. It literally means 'impending', 'approaching' or 'coming'. Also called kriyamANa, which means 'being done'. See prarabdha, sanchita, sanskara.


aham Ahm!

I am.

aham vritti

aham vRRitti Ahm! v&iÄ

the thought 'I am' as opposed to thoughts about objects, feelings etc. - idam vritti. See vritti.


ahaMkAra Ah>kar

the making, kara (kAra), of the utterance 'I', aham (aham) - this is the equivalent of what we would call the 'ego' but specifically refers to the identification or attachment of our true Self with something else - see antakarana.


ajAti Ajait

a - no or not; jAti - creation; the principle that the world and everything in it, including these mind-body appearances were never created or 'brought into existence'.


anAdi Anaid

without any beginning, often used to refer to 'ignorance'.


Ananda AanNd

'true' happiness; usually called 'bliss' to differentiate it from 'ordinary' happiness because this is a an aspect of our true nature. See sat, chit and satchidananda.

anandamaya kosha

Anandamayakosha AÚmykaez

the sheath of bliss, i.e. the samadhi of deep meditation - the last of the five sheaths (kosha) with which we identify.

annamaya kosha

annamayakosha AÚmykaez

the sheath made of food, i.e. the gross material body - the first of the five sheaths (kosha) with which we identify.


antaHkaraNa ANt>kr[

used to refer to the overall functions of mind; the seat of thought and feeling. It consists of a number of separate functions - see manas, buddhi, chitta and ahankara.


apauruSheya ApaEé;ey

literally 'not coming from men'; used to refer to the shruti - scriptural texts passed on verbatim from generation to generation since their original observation by realised sages. - see shruti.


ArjavamArga AajRvmagR

direct path (teaching). Arjava - honest, sincere, directness; mArga - track of a wild animal, any road or path.


artha AwR

acquisition of wealth. See purushartha.


asat Ast!

non-existent. See sat.


aShTAvakra Aòav³

the eponymous Sage of the Astavakra Gita (or Samhita). The word literally means 'twisted' (vakra) in 'eight' (aShTan) ways. Astavakra was so called because he was born severely deformed after being cursed in the womb by his father (because the unborn child had criticised him for making mistakes whilst reading the scriptures!). Later in life, after he had secured his father's release through defeating the court philosopher in debate, his father blessed him and, after swimming in a sacred river, he was cured. See gita, samhita.


Atmabodha AaTmbaex

knowledge of Self; a book ascribed to Shankara (though this is disputed by modern scholars).


Atman AaTmn!

the Self. Usually used to refer to one's true (individual) nature or consciousness - see jiva.


AtmavichAra AaTmivcar

vicAra in this context means reflection or examination upon the Atman, the Self. See atman.


avachCheda-vAda AvCDed vad

theory that the Self is limited by ignorance in the forms of upadhis. See upadhi.


AvaraNa Aavr[

the 'veiling' power of maya. See maya, vikshepa.


avidyA Aiv*a

ignorance (in a spiritual sense) - see also maya.




bAdha bax

sublation or subration - the process by which an accepted point of view or understanding is superseded by a totally different one when some new information is received.


bhagavad Égvd

in the context of Bhagavad Gita, it refers to the God, Krishna and Bhagavad Gita means Krishna's Song. (Bhagavat means prosperous, happy etc.) See gita.

Bhagavad Gita

bhagavadgItA ÉgvÌIta

the scriptural text forming part of the Hindu epic, the Mahabarata. See Bhagavad, smriti.


bhakta É´

one who practises bhakti yoga. See bhakti yoga.


bhakti Éi´

devotion or worship as a means to enlightenment. See karma, jnana.


bhAShya Éa:y

commentary on some other scriptural document.


brahma äü

God as the creator of the universe in Hindu mythology (the others are Vishnu, viShNu, the preserver and Shiva, shiva, the destoyer). N.B. Not to be confused with Brahman!


brahmacharya äücyR

the first stage of the traditional Hindu spiritual path, in which the Brahman begins his life as an unmarried, religious and chaste student (charya means 'due observance of all rites and customs'). See also grihasta, sanyasa, vanaprastha.


brahman äün!

the universal Self, Absolute or God. There is only Brahman. It derives from the Sanskrit root bRRih, meaning to grow great or strong and could be thought of as the adjective 'big' made into a noun, implying that which is greater than anything. See also atman, Brahma, jiva, jivatman, paramatman.

Brahma Sutra

brahmasUtra äüsUÇ

a book (in sutra form, which is terse verse!) by Vyasa. This book is the best known of the third accepted source of knowledge (nyaya prasthana). Effectively, it attempts to summarise the Upanishads. The three main philosophical branches of Indian thought, Dvaita, Advaita and Vishishtadvaita have provided commentaries, or bhashyas (brahmasUtrabhAShya). The proponents of each school state that it substantiates their beliefs. That for Advaita was written by Shankara and provided extensive arguments against any other interpretation. See bhashya, nyaya prasthana, sruti, smriti.


bRRihadAraNyaka b&hdar{yk

one of the major Upanishads. See Upanishad.


buddhi buiÏ

the organ of mind responsible for discrimination and judgement. See also, ahankara, antakarana, manas and chitta.

Page last updated: 10-Jul-2012