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Vedanta Glossary

Oṃ Śrī Mahā Gaṇapataye namaḥHow to search this glossary

abādhita
Not subject to negation (a definition of satyam); unobstructed; unrefuted; see bādhaḥ.
ābhāsa-vādaḥ
A teaching device (vādaḥ) showing how consciousness appears as many, just as one face appears to be many in several adjacent mirrors. Each mirror reflection is no more than an appearance, ābhāsa, of the real face and is not to be confused with it. Like the real face, consciousness plays no active part in its appearance in the world/mirror. See avaccheda-vādāḥ, pratibimba-vādaḥ and vādaḥ.
abhāvaḥ
'Non-existence'; non-manifestation; complete absence; see bhāvaḥ. Since, by its very nature, existence is not an attribute, there is no such thing as non-existence, only non-manifestation: existence itself never ceases to exist, whereas the names and forms of existence are transient (Gītā 2.16).
For an object to be known, knowledge has to arise, and knowledge implies a knower. That which can never be seen or known by anyone at any time is defined as non-existent. Therefore, an object that is not known is as good as non-existent, abhāvaḥ.
The naiyāyikaḥ philosophers (logicians) claim there are four types of non-existence: anyonya-abhāvaḥ, atyanta-abhāvaḥ, pradhvaṃsa-abhāvaḥ and prāg-abhāvaḥ.
abhayam
Fearlessness; peace; security.
abhedaḥ
Non-difference; non-division; non-breaking; see bhedaḥ.
abhidhānam
A word; a name; an expression (a syonym of nāman); see abhidheyam. Oṃ is the abhidhānam of Brahman (the corresponding abhidheyam).
abhidheyam
The object or meaning denoted by its corresponding word or expression, abhidhānam; the meaning conveyed by a word; the person meant by a given name. Syonym of rūpam, form, nature.
Neither the organ of speech (vāg-indriyam), nor the word(s) it produces (abhidhānam), nor the object pointed to or denoted by words (abhidheyam) can directly reveal the vastu, the ātmā. The ātmā, being ever the attributeless, actionless, relationless subject, can never be directly revealed by words (as objects can) but is what remains when the words of Vedāntaḥ have been properly used.
The words of Vedāntaḥ tell us what the ātmā is not, leaving it to be revealed by what that negation implies.
This elegantly simple method of implication through negation, even though using words, avoids the limitations of words: it avoids a definition. A definition would make an object out of the self-evident self, ātmā, whereas that which remains (that which is not dismissed) after showing what ātmā is not, makes the hitherto non-obvious immediately obvious.
When the error in the tenth man's thinking is corrected, it immediately becomes obvious to him that he is the 'missing' tenth man – and has never not been the so-called missing tenth. See nāma-rūpam.
abhimānaḥ
'I'-sense; a term typically used to indicate the erroneous identification with the mind and body – known as deha-abhimānaḥ – and the almost inevitable proud arrogation of their attributes and capacities to oneself; conceited; haughty.
Abhimānaḥ takes two forms: universal or samānya-abhimānaḥ, and individual or particular, viśeṣa-abhimānaḥ. The first, association with a body and mind (due to prārabdha-karma) is universal, naturally found in all creatures, and includes awareness of bodily hunger/satiety, emotional urges, etc. The second (viśeṣa-abhimānaḥ) is the intellectual conviction 'I am this body'; it is this conviction alone, born of avidyā (leading successively to adhyāsaḥ, āropaḥ and adhyāropaḥ) that is called bandhaḥ, bondage.
Having foolishly shackled his identity to the body, the individual weaves himself a so-called protective cocoon of cherished notions and objects, succeeding only in wrapping himself in saṁsāraḥ.
abhiniveśaḥ
Tenacious clinging to (investment in) the ephemeral body and worldly life, believing them to be enduring. See kleśaḥ.
abhinna
Non-separate; not different from; undivided.
abhyantara
Internal (opp. of bāhya, external).
abhyāsaḥ
Repeated practice – primarily in Vedāntaḥ it is repeatedly recognising a fact and so continually avoiding or refraining from error (such recognition requires vivekaḥ, and vairāgyam naturally follows); exercise.
In japaḥ, for example, during repetition of the mantraḥ we repeatedly recognise the fact of the distinction between the mantra and the awareness in which and by which the repeating mantra is known. Gradually, the distinctness of this awareness becomes clearer and clearer, ever more obvious. Gradually we learn to refrain from the error of identifying with the mind and come more and more to recognise our identity with that pure unalloyed awareness.
acala
Unmoving; unagitated. All movements in the mind have ever-unmoving consciousness as their substratum, just as waves have ever-unmoving water as theirs. The agitated mind does not need to be stilled for this fact to be recognised.
ācāraḥ
Conduct; principled, scripture-inspired behaviour of noble people handed down as tradition.
ācāryaḥ
A teacher (and exemplar) of ācāraḥ. A teacher is one who fully moves (ā-cara) your understanding to the correct place, the place of proper understanding. This can be done only because an ācāryaḥ is well versed in the śāstram and steadfast in knowledge of the truth.
A true teacher's words are rational, never contradicting one's reasoning. A proper teacher makes the student see what he sees, he does not simply make the student believe. Such teaching invokes trust and at the same time helps the student gradually become emotionally independent.
Among teachers of Vedāntaḥ, a traditional Vedānta-ācāryaḥ will regularly point out to his students that one day, when equipped with sufficient purity of mind through karma-yogaḥ, they will have to come to ātma-vicāraḥ, self-enquiry, for liberation. Only self-enquiry, in which ātmā is cognitively distinguished from anātmā, leads to liberation. Those ācāryas who say ātma-vicāraḥ is not required and that bhaktiḥ, or God, or nāma-saṅkirtanam will give liberation, have strayed from tradition.
Neither will a proper ācāryaḥ seek to teach; the teaching has to be sought.
The teacher always gives credit to the paramparā, the preceding lineage of teachers, giving importance only to the teaching, the śāstram. If importance is given only to the teaching it becomes a teaching tradition, sampradāyaḥ. Instead, if a person merely makes one believe what he believes, he is a preacher not a teacher. If he puts himself before the teaching he creates a cult, and with it emotional dependence.
A real teacher is someone who understands and follows, and makes others understand and follow; "not only by words, but by example, do others understand and follow."* See guruḥ, śrotriyaḥ, brahma-niṣṭhā, āgamaḥ.
ācāryopāsanam
Meditation upon the teacher; keeping the teacher (who stands for the vision, dṛṣṭiḥ, of the teaching) always in one's heart; willingness to serve the teacher; expressing gratitude to and respect for the teacher and the teaching by serving the teacher as best one may. This does not amount to worship of the person, but reverence for what the teacher represents, namely scriptural knowledge and thus knowledge of Brahman.
Surrender of ego and personal likes and dislikes is implied, providing an opportunity for growth for the student. Avoidance of even a whiff of exploitation, so that only the student gains, is essential.
Whether service occurs or not, willingness to serve is the significant aspect and is where growth at the altar of surrender occurs.
The real benefit of ācāryopāsanam is that, by respectful association with a great person, something of that greatness is imbibed.
acetana
Inanimate; non-living.
acetasaḥ
Indiscriminate people; those who, lacking maturity and the requisite purity of mind, are not prepared mentally for liberation.
acintya
Beyond any mental construct; beyond thought; inconceivable. Ātmā is so subtle it is acintya.
acyuta
Ever present; never slips away (an epithet for jñaptiḥ, pure consciousness).
adambhitvam
Absence of pretence; free from hypocrisy, posturing and self-glorification.
ādhāraḥ
Support; base; foundation. Ādheyam, is that which is supported; the content. (Note that when ātmā is referred to as a support, it is ever of a different order of reality to the ādheyam (and is secondless, advitīya). Any such relationship is mithyā).
adharmaḥ
Not in line with the inherent, natural order of dharmaḥ; unwise; action leading to an unfavourable outcome.
ādhibhautika-tāpaḥ
Pain, tāpaḥ, caused by an obstacle arising from local circumstances, such as heavy traffic, store closure, machine failure, and from problems associated with close acquaintances, family and friends; also see ādhyātmika-tāpaḥ, ādhidaivika-tāpaḥ.
adhi
Centred on; concerning; related to.
adhibhūtam
Gross, manifest universe; centred on a (transient) being, element or entity; centred on all that is perishable. īśvaraḥ, when regarded as the material cause, upādāna-kāraṇam (otherwise known as māyā) is referred to as adhibhūtam, that which pertains to the total – see adhyātmam.
adhidaivam
Subtle (non-physical) manifest universe; centred on the devāḥ, on the gods (the myriad natural forces that manifest and operate the world and its interacting and inter-dependent systems – including Nature, all the sciences, etc., – and hence centred on the natural events that arise from them); 'devaḥ' or 'adhidaivam' may alternatively refer to or imply their ruling intelligence, īśvaraḥ, as the nimitta-kāraṇam, the one puruṣaḥ; also see Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ.
The term adhidaiva refers to the universal aspect of a power – the power of sight, for example, is a universal power, common to all. The individual aspect or expression of a power or capacity (such as an individual's capacity to see) is referred to by the term adhyātma. In truth, it is one-and-the-same power.
ādhidaivika-tāpaḥ
Pain, tāpaḥ, caused by an obstacle arising from natural events such as weather, earthquakes, floods, bushfires, etc. produced through the devāḥ (see adhidaivam); also see ādhyātmika-tāpaḥ, ādhibhautika-tāpaḥ.
adhikaraṇam
Substratum; location; source of action; location or place of action.
adhikārī
Qualified aspirant (especially for self-knowledge); see anubandha-catuṣṭayam.
adhiṣṭhānam
Basis; support; seat; absolute existence; the source of the existence of everything; (synonym of Brahman). There are not various forms or degrees of adhiṣṭhānam, the only adhiṣṭhānam is caitanyam, pure consciousness.
So, properly speaking, 'rope' is not the adhiṣṭhānam of 'snake' (see rope-snake analogy, rajju-sarpa-nyāyaḥ). Only a rope 'enclosed/held' in consciousness may be the adhiṣṭhānam of 'snake'. Adhiṣṭhitam, that which is supported. See āśrayaḥ.
adhiyajñaḥ
Cause and truth of all; centred on ritual; the one on whom the ritual is centred, namely antaryāmīśvaraḥ (īśvaraḥ, the unmanifest cause of all, the subject of ritual).
adhyāhāraḥ
Insertion of extra words into a sentence to make its intended meaning clear.
adhyakṣaḥ
Overseer; master; lord. īśvaraḥ is the adhyakṣaḥ of māyā.
adhyāropa-apavāda-viveka-prakriyā
Method (prakriyā) of analysis (vivekaḥ) for arriving at the true self (ātmā) by bringing to light and then negating (apavādaḥ) the false identities and attributes mistakenly superimposed (adhyāropaḥ) upon oneself. This is the primary method Vedāntaḥ uses for uncovering freedom. All other prakriyās are developments of it. See prakriyā.
It begins by showing that, as Brahman, which is pure existence, is the very existence of all that is here, and hence it alone can be the cause (kāraṇam brahma) of the jagat, the universe. Since there is really nothing here but Brahman, pure existence, the jagat must be only a name, form and function (nāma-rūpa-karma) of Brahman, namely a superimposition, adhyāropaḥ, upon existence, upon Brahman (hence kāryam brahma). Thus, the jagat can have no independent reality of its own.
A clay pot is similarly a name, form and function of its causal substance, clay, and has no reality of its own – remove the clay and the superimposed name, form and function, pot, disappears. Having only a dependent reality, like the pot, the jagat cannot properly be considered to be real. If it is not really real, it cannot be regarded as an effect, and, if there is no effect, Brahman cannot be a cause (hence, the negation, apavādaḥ, of Brahman's causal status).
The purpose here is also to show that the actionless Brahman 'acts' by lending existence to the world. Without existence, the world could not exist. Existence is lent, not by an action, but by mere presence (in which there is no change whatsoever in Brahman). Thus, the world is revealed to be not a product, a kāryam, of Brahman but an effortless, ever-recurring, mithyā appearance in Brahman, somewhat like a recurring dream for a sleeping waker.
adhyāropaḥ
Superimposition. Due to misconception, adhyāsaḥ, the characteristic(s) of one thing are seemingly or falsely attributed, āropaḥ, to another. That results in their superimpostion, adhyāropaḥ, upon that other. Such invalid superimposition leads, for example, to ahaṅkāraḥ, a mistaken notion of the self.
adhyāropa-vākyam
A statement of (deliberate) superimposition that is later negated; an important teaching device used by the śāstram to initially superimpose the status of 'cause' on Brahman in a temporary acceptance of duality. See apavāda-vākyam and adhyāropa-apavāda-viveka-prakriyā.
adhyāsaḥ
Erroneous cognition; misconception: taking something to be what it is not; confusing this with that. Without upādhiḥ, adhyāsaḥ is not possible. Upādhiḥ is instrumental and avidyā, ignorance, is the cause for adhyāsaḥ. (Adhyasta, wrongly ascribed; mistakenly attributed.)
Adhyāsaḥ (not the world!) is responsible for individual unhappiness as misconceptions lead successively to āropaḥ, adhyāropaḥ, ahaṅkāraḥ, kāmaḥ, karma and then saṁsāraḥ. See nirupādhikādhyāsaḥ, sopādhikādhyāsaḥ and anyonya-adhyāsaḥ.
adhyātma-cetas
Of discriminating mind; knowledge of the right thing to do; one who is completely committed to self-knowledge.
adhyātma-jñānam
Knowledge centred on the self; knowledge whose object is the self; knowledge of the absolute self as one's own self.
adhyātma-jñāna-nityatvam
Constancy in knowledge centred on the self; a value for constancy in study of the scriptures centred on the self (the Upaniṣads, etc.) in order to ensure that that knowledge is clear and free from doubt.
adhyātmam
Centred on, concerning, belonging to the self, the individual – namely whatever is taken to be or belong to the self, be it the body (dehaḥ), jīvaḥ, or ātmā. See adhidaivam and adhibhūtam.
adhyātmayogaḥ
Turning thoughts away from anātmā and fixing (samādhānam) the mind upon the ātmā (holding to the proper understanding that I am that ātmā). For this to proceed properly, adhyātmayogaḥ entails śravanam, mananam and nididhyāsanam with the help of a guruḥ while following dharmaḥ. Synonym of adhyātma-jñānam.
ādhyātmika-tāpaḥ
Pain, tāpaḥ, caused by an obstacle pertaining to oneself, such as worry, agitation, illness, physical impairment, etcetera; also see ādhidaivika-tāpaḥ, ādhibhautika-tāpaḥ.
adhyāyaḥ
A chapter; a lesson; a reading.
adhyayana
Focused, reverential attention on a mantraḥ throughout its recitation.
ādi
Beginning (with); etcetera; indicates others of the same group, for example, śamādi, the group beginning with śamaḥ (śamaḥ, damaḥ, uparamaḥ, titikṣā, śraddhā, samādhānam).
adṛṣṭa
Unseen; unknown (the cause of suffering or pleasure is unseen/unknown since ordinary so-called causes are themselves symptoms); invisible; not experienced; unobserved – especially in relation to the accumulation of puṇya-pāpam.
adṛṣṭa-phalam
An unseen result (of an action), a result that manifests later in this life or in a future one. An unseen result accrues only when an action is done – not when an action is not done.
When an action is not done, a seen result, a dṛṣṭa-phalam (even though not directly produced) can certainly occur: an unmade bed will remain unmade, uncut hair will grow, etc. An adṛṣṭa-phalam is the as-yet-unseen result of actual mental, oral or physical action, not a result that might arise from inaction. See dṛṣṭa-phalam and naimittika-karma.
advaita
Non-dual (advaitam, non-duality). The term Advaita Vedānta is a tautology as proper, traditional Vedāntaḥ is ever non-dual (advaya) in its vision of how things are.
The much-praised and sought-after advaita-anubhavaḥ, the experience of non-duality, cannot reveal true liberation since all experiences – including all states of mind and all forms of samādhiḥ – are transient.
However, advaita-darśanam, clear knowledge (clear vision, clear seeing, clear understanding) of the non-dual nature of reality, shows that that knowledge is not dependent on experience. Advaita-darśanam reveals true, unfading liberation, true mokṣaḥ. See vivaraṇam and bhāmatī.
"How can you know the non-dual consciousness? If there is a knower involved, there is duality. Thus, it is only as one's own consciousness that one knows non-dual Brahman."*
advaya
Not two. Reality is better described as 'not two' rather than 'one'. Describing reality as 'one' (as some do) fails to account for the fact that there are two orders of reality, satyam and mithyā. Saying they are one would imply that both orders are equally real, which is as untrue as saying that the ocean wave is as real as the water. The wave is merely a form or expression of the water, but, although water is really all that is there, the wave has to be accounted for.
That can best be done by recognising that the wave is a temporary appearance of water. The weight, shape, movement, wetness, saltiness, colour and temperature of the wave are that of water, and so the wave cannot properly be said to be as real (have the same reality status) as the water forming it. The reality of the wave is dependent on the water (remove the water and there is no wave). Just so, 'not two' dimisses duality while not failing to account for the two orders of the same reality.
Similarly, advaya asserts that the world does not consist of multiple (two or more) equally real entities. For waves, ocean, foam, tides, swell, ripples, flow, current, colour, temperature, wetness, weight, saltiness and water, for example, all except the water are mithyā, meaning their reality is dependent on water. None of those multiple entities is as real as the water. Remove the water and they disappear. Take no account of (fail to measure or assess) any of them and the water is still present. Advayam (noun) means non-duality, absolute truth.
advitīya
Secondless; second to none; matchless.
āgamaḥ
Traditional doctrines, precepts or teachings contained in the śāstras; that teaching which has been coming (beginninglessly); the precepts conveyed (handed down) by a sampradāyaḥ, a teaching tradition, to aspirants. See paramparā.
āgāmi-karma
Future karma (formed solely by human beings) due to action involving free will and kartṛtvam, doership, here in this present life. Āgāmi-karma – also known as kriyamāṇa-karma, karma that is 'being formed' – is stored in sañcita as unmanifest puṇya-pāpam awaiting fructification and manifestation as prārabdha either in this life or a future one.
There is no āgāmi-karma for the jñānī since all sancita becomes impotent on the rise of self-knowledge, and no āgāmi-karma forms afterwards as the wise have no personal motives and no doership. See prārabdha-karma, sañcita-karma.
agniḥ
Deity of fire; the element Fire; subtle aspect of form, shape and colour; it is appreciable through sound, touch and sight; the very word agniḥ also implies 'fire ritual'; also see pāñcabhautikam, the five-element model of the universe – ākāśaḥ, space; vāyuḥ, air; agniḥ, fire; āpaḥ, waters; pṛthivī, earth.
agnihotram
A very simple, twice-daily Vedic fire ritual, with oblations and mantras, to be performed only by married people; generates puṇyam; smallest of the fire rituals prescribed in the Karma-Kāṇḍaḥ of the Vedaḥ; to be performed with relevant oblations and mantras by a man from the day of his marriage (now there is a substitute pūjā for this ritual).
agocara
Inaccessible (indriya agocara, imperceptible, not accessible through the senses; vācām agocara, inexplicable).
agrahanam
Non-recognition (of reality); lit. no grasp (on reality); a characteristic of nidrā, sleep; a direct consequence of avidyā, ignorance; present in jāgrad-avastha, svapna-avasthā and suṣupti-avasthā. See its product anyathāgrahanam.
aham
'I' (the first-person-singular pronoun); the 'I'-sense. In common with the word ātmā, the word aham can be (and is) used to mean oneself, although not always accurately.
The 'I-sense' is a composite of three things: pure consciousness, its reflection (cidābhāsaḥ) in the mind, and thirdly the mind itself. In suṣuptiḥ (deep sleep) the 'I-sense' (self-awareness) is quiescent because the mind and cidābhāsaḥ are inactive. However, pure consciousness remains unaffected, alert, ever-unmanifest and ever non-transactable in suṣuptiḥ. See Anubhūti Prakāśaḥ Ch19v45.
ahaṃ brahmāsmi
'I am Brahman' (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 1.4.10). The term 'I' refers here to that which is the very source and essence of the 'I' thought – namely, pure consciousness (Brahman) – not to what is commonly regarded as 'I' or 'me', the individual mind. See mahāvākyam and also see tattvamasi, ayamātmā brahma, prajñānaṃ brahma.
ahaṅgraha upāsanam
A meditation in which I see myself as Brahman. My hand is seen as Brahman, my body, my mind, all that I call 'I' is seen by me as Brahman. Like this, ahaṅkāraḥ and Brahman are equated. However, it is a sādhanam in which ahaṅkāraḥ has yet to be properly negated and so it is not nididhyāsanam. It becomes nididhyāsanam when I really do see that I am Brahman, which is not at all the same as seeing myself as Brahman. See sampat upāsanam and upāsanam.
ahaṅkāraḥ
Sense of 'I', 'me' and 'mine'; mistaken notion of the self; upādhiḥ of ātmā; the misplacement of the sense of 'I' in the body-mind-sense complex (and especially in the sense of doership) due to the superimposition, adhyāropaḥ, upon the self (pure consciousness) of false and limiting attributes. Such misplacement of attributes creates a form or version (kārah) of aham. That ever-changing form is known as ahaṅkāraḥ.
Ahaṅkāraḥ, the ego, the mistaken notion of 'I', is the identification, tādātmyam, of aham with non-intrinsic attributes such as all forms of thinking, remembering, feeling, perceiving, acting, etc. It is the nature of ahaṅkāraḥ to continually adopt and claim such limitations and to identify with them. This limiting is the misattribution or misappropriation of ever-changing characteristics to changeless being.
When ahaṅkāraḥ is manifest, the mind is then objectified as ‘this’, creating a duality (this is my mind, my thoughts and feelings) and so too with the world. Such limiting, dualistic notions create an irrational but compelling sense of lack or inadequacy in oneself and the world, leading to desire, kāmaḥ, to either mitigate or overcome that seeming lack. See mamakāraḥ.
(Note: ahaṅkāraḥ is also known as ahaṃkāraḥ or ahaṅkṛtiḥ and the meaning is the same.)
ahiṃsā
Abstaining from deliberately hurting any being in thought, word or deed; harmlessness; the primary virtue, following which all others become followed; the most exalted of the universal values; one of the five prohibitions of yamaḥ and sāmānya-dharmaḥ. "Ahiṃsā is a very dynamic concept that has to be interpreted from time to time and situation to situation."*
āhutiḥ
Any solemn rite accompanied with oblations – punāhutiḥ is an oblation that is the culmination of all worship in which the offerer is offered through cognitively resolving the 'I'-sense, aham, in the Lord, in īśvaraḥ.
aikyam
Oneness; the fact of being ever one-and-the-same; non-difference.
aiśvaryam
Lordship; overlordship; see bhagaḥ.
ajaḥ
Unborn
ajahal-lakṣaṇā
A type of implication (also known as ajahatī-lakṣaṇā) in which one or more words are added to an unclear or incomplete statement to bring out the intended or implied meaning. For example, in "Red won" we retain the literal and primary meanings of the words 'red' and 'won' and add another word, 'horse', to complete the meaning of the sentence, namely, 'the red horse won'. Since this type of implication retains the literal meaning of words, and additional words merely clarify that literal meaning, it is unsuitable for elucidating the subtlety of tattvamasi. See jahallakṣaṇā, jahadajahallakṣaṇā and also lakṣaṇam.
ajāti-vādaḥ
The view, vādaḥ, that nothing has been born (ajāti, 'is not born') nothing has originated. The view is that there is no creation. A creation has a beginning and an end, which the world does not – matter can never be created or destroyed. Here, it is being said that the 'creation' is an appearance, a manifestation of what was previously unmanifest, like a pot that, until its manifestation, was unmanifest (unformed, unshaped) in clay. Similarly, matter is unmanifest in energy, and vice-versa.
Vivarta-vādaḥ and ajāti-vādaḥ are two different ways of looking at the mithyātvam of the world. Vivarta-vādaḥ declares that something is seemingly existent. Ajāti-vādaḥ is saying that something is unborn, factually non-existent. 'Seemingly existent' refers to a seeming or apparent existence such as that of a pot – the pot seems to exist (but only because of the presence of clay). 'Factually non-existent' refers to an object that literally, factually, does not exist – being clay, a pot cannot be said to exist (only the clay exists) and yet the pot is experienced. See vivarta-upādāna-kāraṇam, vādaḥ and mithyā.
ajñānam
Ignorance; incorrect or incomplete knowledge; knowledge that is opposed to the truth; synonym of avidyā and of māyā.
ājyam
Ghee – butter, melted in sunlight.
akāmahata
Unaffected by desire; free from the hold of desire; calm.
ākāraḥ
Form; appearance.
akartā
Non-doer. One who knows that ātmā is ever actionless, ever a non-doer – even in the midst of activity – also knows the fullness that cannot ever be augmented or improved by action.
ākāśaḥ
The element Space; all-pervading; ākāśaḥ itself is manifestation; its distinguishing quality is that it is connected to sound; also see pāñcabhautikam the five-element model of the universe – ākāśaḥ, space; vāyuḥ, air; agniḥ, fire; āpaḥ, waters; pṛthivī, earth.
akhaṇḍa
Undivided; partless; indivisible; whole; (khaṇḍa, having gaps or breaks; deficient; fragment; section).
akhaṇḍa-ākāra-vṛtti-jñānam
Knowledge (jñānam) in the form of (ākāra) a unique thought (vṛttiḥ) pertaining to the nature of reality being whole, limitless, indivisible (akhaṇḍa). The vṛttiḥ negates what is untrue, thereby implying the truth.
"Consciousness is recognised through a vṛttiḥ as the truth of the subject, the object and the connection between the two. In fact, consciousness itself is called akhaṇḍākāra-vṛttiḥ, a thought free from divisions. All the words used to reveal this identity disappear. The vṛttiḥ that removes the ignorance goes away. That vṛttiḥ does not objectify the ātmā and does not have to because the ātmā is self-revealing. The self-revealing, divisionless consciousness is you and it is everything. This recognition is the result of the operation of the words of Vedāntaḥ. The result of the operation (phala-vyāptiḥ) that belongs to the knower is not relevant here because the knower is resolved in the wake of knowledge."*
The recognition takes place in the jāgrad-avasthā, the waking state, in a mind (buddhiḥ) that is pure, one that is no longer under the hold of rāga-dveṣas, etc. Thereafter, that vision remains.
"That (Brahman) has to be attained through the mind alone." Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.1.11
Ten men crossed a turbulent river. Their leader then counted only nine. All lamented. A passer-by counted, showing the leader (who had not counted himself) that he was the tenth! Sorrow vanished immediately.
The story shows how the akhaṇḍa-ākāra-vṛttiḥ works. It takes the form of the truth: "You are the tenth!" On understanding their meaning, words drop away. The meaning alone remains. Significantly, after counting nine men, the passer-by smilingly points to the leader implying that he, the leader, is the 'missing' tenth. It is an implication that dismisses ignorance of a fact.
Knowledge, being ever-present, is never gained. Wrong knowledge (error, ignorance) is removed, that's all. If knowledge were something that could be given, and is given to someone who is ignorant, the person remains ignorant (knowledge gets superimposed upon the person). In contrast, removing ignorance reveals knowledge. All knowledge already exists and is only revealed, discovered.
akhila
Whole; entire; complete.
akṛtārthaḥ
One for whom the aim of human life, liberation from sorrow – a freedom that is in the form of jñānam, knowledge – is not yet accomplished (akṛta, not done, not accomplished; arthaḥ, aim, purpose).
akṣara
Indestructible; imperishable; immutable;
akṣaram (n.) any letter (any vowel or consonant) – or any syllable (as a syllable is composed of letters). All letters/syllables are sounds, indestructible sounds. See svaraḥ and vyañjanam.
akṣata
Unbroken; (unbroken, uncooked rice, coloured yellow by mixing it with Turmeric, is used in ritual and worship to carry prayers to the deity).
alam
Enough; sufficient.
ālambanam
Support; symbol; a support for one's attention (during meditation or worship) that acts as a symbol for the vastuḥ. See pratīkaḥ and pratimā.
alātam
Firebrand. When the single flame of a firebrand moves continuously in a circle, a ring of fire appears when in fact there is only ever a single flame. The steady flame and the ring of fire are different names given to the same entity. They are not separate, independent entities. This famously illustrates the convincing (but mithyā) appearance or manifestation of the world via the power known as māyā.
Similarly, the world is another name for Brahman. It is not a separate entity. Not being a separate entity from the unmoving, single flame, the ring of fire cannot be said to arise from or return to it, nor arise from or return elsewhere. In spite of appearances, all that is ever present is the single flame. In spite of appearances, all that is here is Brahman. See āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ and vikṣepa-śaktiḥ.
alaukika
Unlike anything one knows.
ālocanam
Proper thinking; enquiry; analysis; considering; reflecting; perceiving.
amanībhāvaḥ
Enquiring into the truth of the mind shows that the mind is thoughts of objects. Not only are objects not perceiveable when the mind is inactive (as in deep sleep, etc.), without objects to perceive, mind ceases to be mind. Since the mind is dependent on the world (on objects) for its expression, and since objects (thoughts) are dependent on the mind for their experience, both are mithyā.
Consciousness is the adhiṣṭhānam both of thoughts and their objects.
Cognitive resolution of the mind as mithyā is jīvan muktiḥ, which is also amanībhāvaḥ. So, having the ascertained vision of non-dual reality is amanībhāvaḥ. And later, after the fall of the body, resolution of the mind for good is also amanībhāvaḥ. See manonāśaḥ.
amānitvam
Humility; absence of conceit; not demanding respect, even when respect could be due.
amāvāsyā
New Moon day; day for performing certain monthly rituals; first day of the first quarter of the Moon, in which the Moon is invisible (due to its being fully in the Earth's shadow).
āmnāyaḥ
Sacred texts handed down by tradition; received doctrine; advice.
amṛtam
Immortality (amṛta, immortal); nectar of immortality; ambrosia.
aṃśaḥ
Portion; aspect; part.
anabhiṣvaṅgaḥ
Absence of intense attachment to possessions, etc. – such attachment being due to emotional dependence on the world for happiness.
anadhigata
Not understood; that which cannot be arrived at or understood by perception or inference, or by any means except Vedānta-śāstra-pramāṇam.
anādi
Beginningless (ādi, beginning).
anahaṅkāraḥ
Absence of pride and arrogance; understanding that 'what I have accomplished is really nothing'.
analpa
Not small; infinite in all respects (alpa, small).
ānandaḥ
Happiness – never created, only ever discovered – limitlessness (synonym of ananta). Happiness is the ultimate aim of all activity. Ānandaḥ is the svarūpam of the self, ātmā. Every experience of happiness is an experience of an appropriate fraction of that innate ānandaḥ (limitless fullness) which effortlessly and spontaneously manifests when puṇyam is present and the ego resolves briefly. Manifestation of the limitless must necessarily be limited – to manifest is to limit, to come to a stop.
Unhappiness being due to a limit, true happiness is limitlessness – hence, ānandaḥ indicates happiness without limit in quality and extent, and so includes being effortlessly, consciously happy everywhere, with everyone, at all times, in all situations. It therefore does not simply mean bliss, the total absence of duality and hence of pain and pleasure (all of which is a characteristic of suṣuptiḥ and samādhiḥ) and is transitory. Bliss is a form of happiness, but happiness is not bliss, it is more than that.
Since limitlessness, anantam, implies complete absence of any form of lack, ānandaḥ also means fullness, pūrṇam – hence the famous śānti-pāṭhaḥ that begins pūrṇamadaḥ pūrṇamidam. The expression of the fullness, the limitlessness, of pure consciousness is love. "Unqualified love is limitless, ananta, or pūrṇa, full, and is Brahman. Love is only for ānandaḥ."* See sat, cit and saccidāndaḥ.
ānandamaya-kośaḥ
This, the subtlest of the pañca-kośas, pervades the other four. It is born of beginningless avidyā in the form of the kāraṇa-śarīram, the causal body of impure sattvam (mixed with tamas). This ānandamaya, which is a product of puṇya-karma, is a vṛttiḥ that has an upādhiḥ, the mind. Ānandaḥ, absolute happiness, reflects in the mind and hence pervades the ānandamaya vṛttiḥ. This means, as its name suggests, ānandamaya vṛttiḥ, being conditional and temporary, is not absolute happiness.
The varying degrees of reflected ānandaḥ pervading the ānandamaya are known as priya, modaḥ, pramodaḥ (which are in causal form in the ānandamaya and experienceable in the waking state). Hence there is the possibility of the basic person, the enjoyer, bhoktā (the ahaṅkāraḥ mistakenly identified with the ānandamaya) enjoying degrees of ignorance and happiness, which are at their fullest in suṣupti-avasthā, deep sleep, and are restricted in svapna-avasthā, dream, and in jāgrad-avasthā, waking.
No experiential happiness arises from objects or circumstances. All experienced happiness (which is conditional and temporary) arises when the mind is somewhat resolved, somewhat free from agitation. When agitation subsides, the nature of the self, which is happiness, naturally becomes evident to the degree that it is unhindered by any remaining mental activity: the thinner the clouds, the brighter the sun. All happiness is the innate happiness of the self.
anantam
Endlessness; limitlessness; infinity (anta, end); that which is ever undivided. The word anantam is a synonym of ānandaḥ, the limitless fullness that is true happiness.
ananya
Not other (not anya); non-different; non-separate – used as a synonym for a wise person, one who sees no other, one who has ananyamanasa a focused, distraction-free, dispassionate mind.
anātmā
Not self; all that is other than the self; all that is transient; any and all objects of consciousness (including the body, mind and senses, for they too are objects of consciousness as I am aware of them; being aware of them I am necessarily distinct from them). Whatever I take to be myself amounts to placing a limit upon myself. Limitation brings vulnerability, which gives rise to fear, bhayam.
The five features of anātmā are:
dṛśyatvam, perceptible
bādhyatvam, negatable
saguṇatvam, endowed with attributes
savikāratvam, changeable
āgama-apāyitvam, subject to arrival and departure.
However, just as the entire contents of a dream have their origin, being and nature in the dreamer, and yet are ever distinct from the dreamer (even though not other than the dreamer) all that seems to be anātmā is ultimately found by the discriminating to be not other than ātmā, while ātmā is ever distinct from anātmā.
anavasthā
Infinite regression; absence of conclusion; without resting place.
andha-paramparā
Blind lineage; continuance of confusion through recourse to a flawed, ill-chosen teaching lineage; the blind being led by the blind, andha-andhena-nīyamānāḥ (āndhyam, blindness, darkness).
aneka
Many (an, not; eka, one).
aṅgam
Limb; constituent; component; part.
anirvacanīya
Not categorically definable (but not inexplicable!); understood by implication only. This adjective, which is often used with reference to māyā, also refers to all that arises from it – in other words, the entire creation is found on careful investigation to be ultimately indefinable as it too is a product of māyā. As Vivekacūḍāmaṇi verse 109 says: māyā is neither existent nor non-existent, nor a combination of the two; neither is it separate nor non-separate from Brahman (nor a combination of the two); nor does it have parts nor not have parts (and it is, again, not a combination of the two). However, it is explicable via a proper understanding of the guṇas and of the term mithyā.
anīśā
Helplessness; powerlessness.
anitya
Timebound; limited; impermanent.
annamaya-kośaḥ
The physical body, a modified form of food, annam, seemingly covers the non-coverable ātmā because of ignorance. This, the grossest of the pañca-kośāḥ, is pervaded simultaneously and successively by each of the other four. With it occurs the potential to mistakenly identify with the physical body (I am mortal, male, female, tall, short, old, young, etc.). See pañca-kośāḥ, prāṇamaya-kośaḥ, manomaya-kośaḥ, vijñānamaya-kośaḥ, ānandamaya-kośaḥ.
antaḥ-karaṇam
Mind (antaḥ, inner; karaṇam, instrument); consists of vṛttis, thoughts, of which there are four categories: manaḥ, buddhiḥ, cittam, ahaṅkāraḥ. The antaḥ-karaṇam is the means, the inner instrument, by which the ahaṅkāraḥ encounters and transacts with the world, the jagat. The mind is a product of previous action, karma.
The mind is the only place where knowledge takes place and hence is the only place where liberation can take place. Manasa-eva-anudraṣṭavyam "[Brahman] is to be known through [by means of] the mind alone." Br. Up. 4.4.19. The mind is also the only place where ignorance is found and removed. There is no self-knowledge 'beyond' the mind.
The mind depends for its existence on the world, and vice-versa. The mind becomes a non-perceiver when (as in deep sleep) objects are no longer perceived. Then, in effect, the mind ceases to be the mind. If no object is perceived, there is no thought; no thought, no mind; no object, no world. The mind and the world are mutually dependent. Both depend on consciousness. The mind and the world arise (and resolve) together.
All antaḥ-karaṇams are within Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ just as all waves are in the ocean. See sūkṣma-śarīram.
antaḥ-karaṇa-naiścalyam
Steadiness of mind; essential prerequisite for śravaṇam as only a focused, subtle, steady mind hears fully; attained through meditation (dhyānam and upāsanām).
antaḥ-karaṇa śuddhiḥ
Purification of the mind, meaning mastery over one's ways of thinking, including emotions and rāga-dveṣas (likes and dislikes) – a mastery that leads to inner maturity. It is accomplishable through a life of karma-yogaḥ, especially through steady adherence to dharmaḥ.
Antaḥ-karaṇa-śuddhiḥ is an essential prerequisite for jñāṇam because only a mind that is free of its prejudices and preconceptions can listen cleanly and thereby hear properly that which is being taught. Otherwise, all that is taught becomes, at best, filtered and interpreted by 'what I think it means' and fitted into or adjusted to my existing collection of ideas and views, and if not, rejected by them – all of which means the teaching is never heard.
antarā
In the middle; between; within; (antaram, interior; contents).
antarātmā
Subtle body; ātmā identified with the subtle body. So called because the subtle body is antarā, in between, the body and ātmā, connecting the two and thereby acting as a manifesting medium for ātmā.
antarikṣam
Space between Heaven (svargaḥ) and Earth (bhūḥ); sky.
antaryāmī
Inner controller; īśvaraḥ (and his māyā) as the unmanifest cause of all, as the samaṣṭiḥ of all causal bodies, may, due to his causal rôle, be referred to as the antaryāmīśvaraḥ, the inner controller of all, or as kāraṇambrahma, the causal form of all. The individual (vyaṣṭiḥ) counterpart, is prājñaḥ – see Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, Vaiśvānaraḥ, Virāṭ.
anubandha-catuṣṭayam
Set of four requisites that, combined, make a text worth studying:
adhikārī - a person of appropriate understanding for the text.
prayojanam - the particular benefit to be gained by the adhikārī from studying the text.
viṣayaḥ - the subject matter's suitability for delivering the prayojanam.
sambandhaḥ - the connection of the text to the viṣayaḥ (the pratipādaka-pratipādya-sambandhaḥ) and the viṣayaḥ to the prayojanam (the sādhana-sādhya-sambandhaḥ).
anubhāti
Shines after – dependent on another source of light; shines only by reflecting another light, for example, the mind, the Moon).
anubhavaḥ (anubhūtiḥ)
Immediate knowledge; an understanding derived from one's own personal observation of the world.
Anubhavaḥ (anubhūtiḥ) is often translated as 'experience', whereas the better word is vision (seeing, understanding). "Experience can lead to knowledge, but the impression of experience need not be knowledge. Experience has to be assimilated in terms of knowledge. Experience need not include or be knowledge. Experiences can be contradictory. Knowledge includes experience. Knowledge can contradict experience. Knowledge can also resolve the contradictions in experience. Knowledge cannot be contradicted."*
Some falsely believe that an ātma-anubhavaḥ, an experience of the self at some point in time is necessary for mokṣaḥ. However, this would make a limited object out of the limitless reality that is ātmā, which is impossible: draṣṭā hi dṛśyātmatayā na dṛṣṭaḥ - the seer is never to be seen in the form of the seen (Vivekacūḍāmaṇi v183).
Moreover, truth or reality being ever-present, its hoped-for experience can never come – it is already in and through each and every experience as its very reality. Since truth or reality is ever-present, the knowledge that removes the misconceptions covering it is sufficient. Knowledge is the only correction needed because only knowledge, not practices or experiences, removes ignorance. See svānubhavaḥ.
anudarśanam
Seeing again and again, very clearly, very intimately, the limitations of the human condition, and hence not wasting time in trivia, but energetically pursuing what matters, mokṣaḥ.
anudāttaḥ
The low tone in chanting, shown in the devanāgarī text by a short horizontal line below a vowel; also see svaraḥ, udāttaḥ, svaritaḥ.
anugrahaḥ
Grace – grace is earned, not bestowed arbitrarily. It is extremely important to earn the grace of īśvaraḥ. Earning the Lord's grace – earning puṇyam – through prayer, worship, mantra-japaḥ, living a life of dharmaḥ, etc., can eliminate pāpa-karma by neutralising it. Unless pāpa-karmas are neutralised by puṇya-karmas they will obscure appreciation and understanding of the knowledge given by the teacher and scriptures. When pratibandhas (inhibiting circumstances and misunderstandings) are neutralised, śravanam becomes unobstructed and hence understanding becomes unobstructed. Only when pāpams and their restrictive, blocking effect are rendered ineffective (by being neutralised) can vague understanding become clear and the knowledge from śravanam shine.
The grace of the teacher, ācāryaḥ, which is the grace of the knowledge of the śāstram, is transmitted not in touching the student's head or back, or in a glance of the teacher's eye, but in regular, systematic teaching of the śāstram. It is the grace of the knowledge enshrined in the śāstram that alone liberates, not the grace of the teacher, nor that of the self within. See kṛpā (a synonym of anugrahaḥ) also see guru-kṛpā, ātmā-kṛpā and śāstra-kṛpā.
anumānam
Inference from pratyakṣam, direct sensory perception, for example, knowledge of fire is inferred from the smell and/or sight of smoke; one of the six pramāṇas. Since it is dependent on sense-perception, a primary means of knowledge, inference is a secondary means. See the other five means: anupalabdhiḥ, arthāpattiḥ, pratyakṣam, śabdaḥ, upamānam.
anupalabdhiḥ
Knowledge of the non-presence of an object is known from its absence (non-availability) for example, seeing no food on the table is knowledge of its absence; one of the six pramāṇas – see the others: anumānam, arthāpattiḥ, pratyakṣam, śabdaḥ, upamānam.
anupraveśaḥ
Entrance (into the world); a term used to refer to the figurative entering of Brahman into the world. The Upaniṣads use the word anupraveśa only to symbolically indicate that Brahman, absolute reality, pure consciousness, pervades the body-mind-sense complex, enlivening it and being (seemingly) enclosed within it.
anusandhānam
Synonym of dhyānam, meditation; contemplation; anu-san-dhānam – constantly, continuously, consistently placing the attention of the mind on something for a length of time.
anuṣṭhānam
Following the religious disciplines, as prescribed in the scriptures, in conformity with the teacher's instructions; carrying out; undertaking; performance; religious practice; acting in conformity to; dharma-anuṣṭhānam, following a way of life that is in keeping with dharmaḥ.
anuṣṭup
Metre with 32 syllables (8 per quarter) – common in the Bhagavad-Gītā, Rāmāyaṇam. See gāyatrī, triṣṭup.
anuvādaḥ
A restatement within a text of what may be known through other means of knowledge or which has already been mentioned. This contrasts with a pramāṇam, a specific (or even unique) means of knowledge.
anuvākaḥ
Section or chapter of a Vedaḥ.
anvayaḥ
Prose order; the natural order or connection of words in a sentence (the words of a ślokaḥ may be re-arranged in prose order to aid appreciation of their meaning).
Anvayaḥ also means 'following', 'succession', 'logical connection' and implies anuvṛttiḥ, continuance – see vyatirekaḥ and anvaya-vyatireka-nyāyaḥ.
anvaya-vyatireka-nyāyaḥ
Proof by assertion and negation; a logical procedure for determining truth from whatever is (and is not always) in accord; anvayaḥ focuses on accordance or invariability, vyatirekaḥ on non-accordance or variability. The presence of the effect when the cause is present is anvaya. The absence of the effect when the cause is absent is vyatireka. For a cause-effect relationship to exist, anvaya and vyatireka should match or agree.
For example, if happiness is to be accepted as arising from an object or event, happiness must be shown to be always present with the object or event (anvaya), and always absent in its absence (vyatireka). If a toy gives a child happiness at one time and not at another, there is no agreement – the toy is not the cause of happiness. Further, even in the absence of that toy, he may be happy. Similarly, pot and clay are both present in a clay pot, but clay alone is present when the clay pot breaks. Hence, in this context, clay is satya, real and the pot is mithyā, seemingly real.
Establishing that which is true from seeing that which is variable and invariable in situations and phenomena is helpful in understanding the real nature of the self. See nyāyaḥ.
anvita
Endowed with; possessing; having as an inherent part.
anyathā grahanam
Taking things to be other than they are; misconception; error; misunderstanding. This is a characteristic of both the jāgrad-avasthā (waking state) and svapna-avasthā (dream state), but not of the suṣupti-avasthā (deep-sleep state) because in suṣupti the mind is inactive. See its cause agrahanam. Anyathā grahanam and adhyāsaḥ are synonyms.
anyonya-abhāvaḥ
Mutual non-existence – for example, 'pot' and 'cloth' are mutually exclusive at the level of name and form because a pot is not a cloth and vice-versa. See abhāvaḥ.
anyonya-adhyāsaḥ
Mutual (reciprocal) erroneous conclusion; error involving mutual superimposition of limiting attributes, upādhis. (Also known as itaretarādhyāsaḥ.) For example, a cold, heavy, solid, iron ball, when put in a fire, apparently becomes radiantly hot, whereas it is fire alone that is hot and radiant. Heat and brilliance – properties belonging to fire – are mistakenly seen to belong to the iron ball. Seeing the ball as hot (when it is not) is adhyāsaḥ. When removed from the fire, the ball’s natural attributes seem to slowly reappear. But they were never lost or absent, only overlaid in our perception with those of the fire. Error-caused superimposition, adhyāropaḥ, made heat and radiance seem to belong to the iron ball rather than solely to fire.
Often, adhyāsaḥ works both ways: as well as a cold, iron ball being mistaken for what it is not – hot and radiant – fire too is mistaken here for what it is not: it appears solid, weighty and spherical. Such mutual wrong conception is called anyonyādhyāsaḥ, the most obvious example of which is between the complex of body-mind-senses, kārya-karaṇa-saṅghātaḥ, and ātmā, where the qualities of each are mutually superimposed so that the body, mind and senses seem alive and ātmā seems to have a form.
Since the red-hot iron ball, when present, is present as (and is regarded as) a coherent, convincingly existent, independent reality, it is impossible to say from its perspective when it came into being. It is present and it cannot be known (there is no means to know) from its own current perspective any previous non-presence or beginning. Therefore, from its own perspective, it appears not only beginningless but has ever been as it is now, and must ever remain so. This means its beginning is ever shrouded in ignorance.
The origin of the jīvaḥ is also beginningless ignorance, an ignorance in which the jīvaḥ is mistakenly taken to be a coherent, convincingly existent, independent reality that from its own perspective within the creation has never known itself to be otherwise. However, this does not mean the jīvaḥ was created at some moment in time (like the red-hot iron ball). Time is a factor within a creation. The beginningless jīvaḥ did not originate within the creation, the creation being a product of the jīva's karma alone.
anyonya-āśrayaḥ
Mutual dependence.
āpaḥ
Waters (āpaḥ is nominative plural, āp is nominative singular; the plural, waters, is used when referring to the element Water); the element Water; subtle aspect of taste; an element appreciable through sound, touch, sight and taste; also see pāñcabhautikam the five-element model of the universe – ākāśaḥ, space; vāyuḥ, air; agniḥ, fire; āpaḥ, waters; pṛthivī, earth.
apānaḥ
Name given to the vital air governing the function of excretion; the elimination aspect of prāṇaḥ, seated in the kidneys; also see samānaḥ, digestion; vyānaḥ, circulation; udānaḥ, upward breath.
aparā-prakṛtiḥ
Lower nature of the self; the immediate cause of all that is conceivable, manifest and perceivable; see parā-prakṛtiḥ.
aparā-vidyā
Knowledge of anything and everything other than the truth obtaining as the self; lower knowledge. Not only all worldly knowledge, but even the entire Vedaḥ and all śāstram is aparā-vidyā – see parā-vidyā.
aparicchinna
Unlimited (limitless); not bound by; not subject to.
aparigrahaḥ
Minimum of parigrahaḥ, possessions; having no claim upon anything; renunciation; one of the five prohibitions of yamaḥ in which the common human frailty of excessive acquisitiveness is restrained, thereby reducing the mental agitation it brings.
aparokṣa-jñānam
Immediate knowledge, knowledge of the immediate self, knowledge of the knower (whether of the satya or mithyā knower). Saying, as many do, that here immediate means "not indirect" is insufficient and misleading.
Usually, our knowledge is from either direct sensory perception, pratyakṣa-jñānam, or from indirect sensory perception, parokṣa-jñānam. Indirect sensory perception is, for example, from books, or reported speech, or from inference.
Both pratyakṣa and parokṣa require an intermediary, meaning they are both mediated through the senses, and both are knowledge of objects. Aparokṣa-jñānam requires no intermediary: it is not mediated, not dependent on being conveyed through a medium (such as the senses). It is not knowledge of objects, but is direct, unmediated knowledge of the immanent self.
For example, when someone elsewhere in the house shouts, "Are you here?!" your knowledge that you are is neither sensory nor aided or conveyed by something, it is immediate (unmediated) awareness of yourself, your presence.
When the words of the śāstram are unfolded by a competent and properly informed teacher (a śrotriya and sampradāyavit) and heard cleanly and clearly by a properly prepared student (whose pratibandhas are gone) they more than just make logical sense in their dismissal of the non-self, they bring immediate (and unmediated) self-knowledge.
That which remains (that which is not dismissed) after showing what ātmā is not, makes the hitherto non-obvious immediately obvious.
This corrected understanding, revealed by the śabda-pramāṇam of the śāstram, is aparokṣa-jñānam. With such an awakening there is no need for further confirmation by special practices or experiences! It is self-evident. One's true nature is clear to oneself, then and there, during śravaṇam.
However, if the student is not yet properly prepared, he or she will, while living a life of karma-yogaḥ, need to think over and enquire into what has been heard from the teacher until it is fully and accurately understood and all doubts resolved. That process is called mananam.
When the teaching has been fully and correctly understood through śravaṇam and mananam, nididhyāsanam may be used to deal with any residual pratibandhas and complete the teaching's ascertainment and assimilation. See parokṣa-jñānam, pratyakṣa-jñānam, vivaraṇam and bhāmatī. Also see abhidheyam.
apasmāraḥ
Forgetfulness (of one's true nature).
āpātata-jñānam
Knowledge (insight) one attains unexpectedly through some means or the other such as a public talk on scriptural literature or by association with older, more experienced people, and so on.
āpat-sannyāsaḥ
A sannyāsaḥ taken when facing āpat, danger, and one doesn't want to die a gṛhasthaḥ or vānaprasthaḥ. Ādi Śaṅkaraḥ famously took āpat-sannyāsaḥ when caught by a crocodile.
apauruṣeya
Of non-human (divine) origin; hallmark of the Vedas.
apavādaḥ
Negation; refutation (of a view or assertion); cognitive resolution of, for example, the form, name and function, pot, in clay, as mithyā. See vādaḥ.
apavāda-vākyam
A statement, vākyam, negating (refuting) an earlier attribution; a teaching device used by the śāstram to correct an inexact impression that might result from an earlier statement. When, for example, Brahman is declared to be the cause of all that is here, that attribution of a causal status to Brahman is later negated by an apavāda-vākyam dismissing all possible categorisation for Brahman (even though there is no other cause than Brahman).
Similarly, once it is recognised that a clay pot is really nothing but clay, the causal status of clay (in forming the non-substantial pot) is negated. No cause means no effect. So, all that is really there is clay plus a name and form, 'pot'. Adhyāropa temporarily accepts the pot, apavāda negates it as mere insubstantial nāma-rūpam. See adhyāropa-vākyam, adhyāropa-apavāda-viveka-prakriyā and vādaḥ.
āpekṣika-mokṣaḥ
Relative freedom, the freedom enjoyed by Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ.
apohanam
Forgetfulness, both in the ordinary sense and in the sense of forgetting or putting aside or suspending a current idea in order to properly apprehend its correction, which is essential for learning something new. Such forgetfulness (suspension) is also essential for memory to arise displacing other thought. Apohanam can also mean suspension of thought in moments of joy or awe.
aprameya
Not available for objectification, which means 'cannot be made into or treated as an object', and so cannot be known by any process of objectification (in which something is made, or treated as, experienceable). The self, ātmā, is aprameya.
āptiḥ
Attainment (āpyam); to gain or reach is one of the four possible results of karma, action, for example, "She attained motherhood" "He attained top marks" "She attained great wealth."
Mokṣaḥ, being one's true, essential nature is already attained – even if unrecognised at present – and so cannot (and need not) be attained or reached by any form of action, such as meditation or worship. Action to attain the already attained is an unknowing denial of an already existent fact. Mokṣaḥ is instead simply the unhindered recognition of that ever-present fact. That recognition requires only knowledge, which takes the form of the correction of incorrect ideas about oneself.
Also see utpattiḥ (utpādyam), production; vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam), modification; saṁskṛtiḥ (saṁskāryam), refinement.
apūrṇatvam
Inadequacy; insufficiency; the status of being inadequate, of lacking this or that (lit. not full, not abundant, imperfect, flawed). See pūrṇa.
Ignorance, avidyā, of his real nature of pūrṇatvam causes the individual to come to the false conclusion that he is limited. Being limited, he sees himself as subject to various forms of lack (not tall enough, not strong enough, not clever enough, not charming enough, not wealthy enough, etc.). Such perceived forms of lack (such feelings of inadequacy, such lack of fulfilment) prompt the rise of desire to overcome or at least mitigate them, and without the corrective guidance of the Vedaḥ, saṁsāraḥ is the inevitable consequence.
apūrvam
Not (seen) before; not having existed before; unmatched; novel; recent; unique.
āratiḥ
Waving of light performed as part of a pūjā; one of the units of the act of worship (karmāṅga).
aratiḥ janasaṁsadi
No longer craving social interaction; ever comfortable in one's own company.
arcanam
Worship in the form of praising the Lord.
ārjavam
Straight-forwardness; honesty; truthfulness; integrity (alignment of thought, word and deed in which a person does not think one thing, say another and then perhaps even do a third). To develop ārjavam I must keep my promises (including those I make only to myself, mentally) and hence, for example, I must only ever speak the truth and must always be punctual. Keeping my promises, I will also develop self-respect, self-confidence and a strong will.
arjunaḥ
The famous Mahābhāratam warrior whose doubts Lord Kṛṣṇaḥ resolved on the eve of battle, thereby creating the Bhagavad-Gītā.
āropaḥ
Attribution of the characteristics of one thing to another. The result of adhyāsaḥ (misconception) is that the characteristics of one thing are wrongly attributed to another. That very mis-attribution is āropaḥ. Its consequence is that the characteristics become superimposed, adhyāropaḥ, on that other. (āropita, superimposed, placed upon.) See adhyāsaḥ, adhyāropaḥ.
arpaṇam
Entrusting; offering.
ārṣa
Relating to, or from ṛṣis.
arthaḥ
Pursuit; aim; meaning; wealth; pursuit of security.
arthāpattiḥ
Knowledge from presumption about whatever is not perceived, derived from that which is perceived, for example, the man seen each day claims to be fasting but is getting fatter, so it is presumed he is eating at night; one of the six pramāṇas – see the others: anumānam, anupalabdhiḥ, pratyakṣam, śabdaḥ, upamānam.
arthavādaḥ
Praise; affirmation; explanation of meaning.
asaktiḥ
Absence of a sense of ownership; recognising that although I possess a few things, I actually own nothing as all that is here is īśvaraḥ. See saktiḥ.
asambhavaḥ
Impossibility; inapplicability. When the teaching is heard in śravanam, doubts and questions can emerge, some of which may be summarised by the term asambhavaḥ, which expresses the feeling: "How can it be true that I am Brahman? That cannot apply to me, it seems impossible." Doubts are removed by the clarity that comes from mananam. See the other two major pratibandhas or hindrances: malaḥ, impurities and viparīta-bhāvanā, contrary tendencies or orientations.
āsanam
Posture; seat; part of aṣṭāṅga-yogaḥ, the eight-fold discipline of haṭha-yogaḥ.
asat
This word literally means non-existent or unreal, but in Vedāntaḥ it is more closely defined as not independently existent or not self-existent (not non-existent); phenomenal; synonym for mithyā. See sat, satyam, tuccham.
asat-kārya-vādaḥ
A vādaḥ, a view or assertion (rejected by Vedantins) that a non-existent (asat) effect (kārya) arises from an existent cause, but an existent cause can never bring into being a non-existent effect – only an existent ornament can originate from existent gold, not a non-existent one. See sat-kārya-vādaḥ and vādaḥ.
āśayaḥ
Resting-place; abode; seat of thoughts and feelings; heart; mind.
asmitā
Egoism; the knowledge 'I am'; excessive self-concern, with or without exaggerated feelings of self-importance; see kleśaḥ.
aśobhana-adhyāsaḥ
Denigrating or under-valuing someone or something by superimposing a false notion of it having less value, beauty or excellence than it merits, for example, 'the world gives me sorrow'; see śobhana-adhyāsaḥ and adhyāsaḥ.
asparśa-yogaḥ
That knowledge (that union, that yogaḥ) that is untouchable, asparśaḥ. It refers to the fact that ātmā is satya and the world is mithyā. This means they are different orders of reality, and so the world is asparśa, it cannot touch ātmā – just as mirage-water (mṛgatṛṣṇikā) can never touch (wet) the ground; or the pot, being merely an appearance of clay, can never touch the clay. The ground and the clay are asparśa, untouched by the mirage and pot.
Self-knowledge is a different order of reality to the dependent reality that is mithyā (just as the waking state is a different order of reality to the dream state). Synonym of brahma-vidyā.
āśramaḥ
Dwelling place of spiritual seekers. See gurukulam.
Āśramaḥ also refers to the four stages of Vedic (vaidika) religious life:
brahmacaryam - studentship
gṛhasthaḥ - householder
vānaprasthaḥ - withdrawal
sannyāsaḥ - renunciation
āśrama-dharmaḥ
Duties pertaining to the four orders or stages of life.
āśrayaḥ
Basis; that upon which something depends or rests; that upon which one depends as a means to achieving a desired end; locus; refuge; shelter. See adhiṣṭhānam.
aṣṭāṅga-yogaḥ
Patañjali's Aṣṭāṅga Yogaḥ is an important, preparatory, eight-fold discipline, but not an end in itself as, without the teaching of Vedāntaḥ, one does not gain mokṣaḥ. Aṣṭāṅga-yogaḥ, a parallel practice to karma-yogaḥ, aims to purify the antaḥ-karaṇam for the sake of gaining knowledge. When properly practised it is a prayerful discipline wherein the Lord is worshipped, without which it has no spiritual value, only a mental and material value. It is designed to develop enough composure and concentration to hold an object in one's mind for a length of time and consists of:
yamaḥ - (five) prohibitions
niyamaḥ - (five) injunctions
āsanam - posture
prāṇāyāmaḥ - breath control
pratyāhāraḥ - sense control
dhāraṇā - concentration
dhyānam - meditation
samādhiḥ - absorption
asteyam
Non-stealing in thought, word or deed; one of the five prohibitions of yamaḥ and sāmānya-dharmaḥ.
āstikaḥ
One who accepts the Vedaḥ as a pramāṇam – a nāstikaḥ does not. The āstika-darśanas are schools of thought (born of their own reasoning) which accept the Veda as authoritative. They are Sāṅkhyam, Yogaḥ, Nyāyaḥ, Vaiśeṣikaḥ and Pūrvamīmāṃsakaḥ. Vedāntaḥ accepts the authority of the Veda but is not a school of thought (not a product of someone's reasoning) and is a vision of a fact.
asuraḥ
A materialistic person who deludedly goes against dharmaḥ while lost in an unchecked pursuit of sensory pleasure; one who thinks chiefly of arthaḥ and kāmaḥ, and who takes pleasure in lying and causing hurt; predominant guṇaḥ is tamas; see rākṣasaḥ.
atad-vyāvṛtti-lakṣaṇam
Definition (lakṣaṇam) of an object being atad (atat) not the truth, not That. It is arrived at through distinguishing (vyāvṛttiḥ) the subject (ātmā) from it. See lakṣaṇam.
atīndriya
Beyond the reach of the senses (ati, beyond; indriya, the power of sense-perception); subtle.
atīta
Beyond; distinct; transcendent; free from.
ātmā
Self; the true self; the true I; that which is ever distinct from (and ever the witness of) the gross, subtle and causal bodies (sthūla, sūkṣma, kāraṇa-śarīrāḥ) and the world at large; beyond the five levels of experience (pañca-kośāḥ); self-evident, changeless, ever-pure witness, sākṣī, of the three states of experience (avasthā-trayāḥ); that which ever remains as existence, consciousness, fullness (sat-cit-ānandaḥ).
Even though jīvas are many and varied, atma, being changeless, all-pervasive, partless consciousness, is ever one-and-the-same, just as gold is ever the same in all gold items.
The word ātmā, as well as meaning the true, limitless self, is also commonly used to mean 'self', 'I', or 'mind' in the ordinary senses of those words. Its meaning therefore encompasses not only one's true self, but also whatever notion is held of oneself. Such notions are given the technical term ahaṅkāraḥ or jīvātmā. In this way, the very word ātmā highlights the fundamental human problem of adhyāsaḥ, mistakenly taking oneself (ātmā) to be what one is not: limited, mortal, wanting and in various ways inadequate. This is why, in correcting through jñānam, knowledge, the false notions one has about oneself, mokṣaḥ is the gain of the already gained. See anātmā, jīvaḥ and paramātmā.
ātma-anātma-vivekaḥ
The process of sifting or distinguishing ātmā from anātmā (the self from the not-self) is called vivekaḥ. It chiefly takes the form of a systematic study of the Upaniṣads with the help of a guruḥ. This term ātma-anātma-vivekaḥ summarises the whole of Vedāntaḥ.
ātma-bodhaḥ
Becoming conscious of (awakening to) knowledge of the self; the blossoming of self-knowledge.
ātma-jñānam
Knowledge of the truth of oneself; self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is the correction of an habitual wrong conclusion, an habitual mis-identification of myself with one or more objects of perception. I am distinct from all thoughts, feelings, physical objects, etc. They arise in perception, but I, the final perceiver, am not limited to them or by them. Being variable and fleeting, they cannot be myself as I am invariable and ever-present.
"Self-knowledge can resolve all our emotional problems. Knowledge, especially self-knowledge, leads to emotional strength. Ultimately, absolute strength is attained through knowledge alone. All emotions are based on the way we look at the creation, at people, our children, our subordinates, our boss. Our perspective determines our emotions. That perspective is dependent on our understanding. The way we understand the world will determine the way we look at the world. Knowledge determines the perspective, the perspective determines the emotion, and therefore knowledge determines emotions. Thus, self-knowledge can change one's life." Sw. Paramarthananda
See jñāna-yogaḥ.
ātmā-kṛpā
Grace of the self, the ātmā. The grace of the self is that it is ever available to be recognised as the pratyag-ātmā (thus confirming the truth of the śāstram). See kṛpā, śāstra-kṛpā, gurukṛpā and anugrahaḥ.
ātman
Self; vocative and also uninflected (prātipadikam) form of the word ātmā, self.
ātmani kartṛtva-darśana
Seeing (darśana) doership (kartṛtva) in the self – which means taking oneself to be a doer. This is the sole cause for bondage to saṃsāraḥ.
ātmanyeva santuṣṭiḥ
A wise person, one who is contented solely in the self, in ātmā.
ātmaratiḥ
Wise person; one who revels in the self, in ātmā.
ātma-samarpaṇam
Resolving wrong notions of oneself in the ātmā, the self.
ātma-sambodha-vidhura
Asleep to the true nature of oneself. This sleep is due to the āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ of māyā.
ātmatṛptiḥ
One who is satisfied in one's own self and hence is free from (binding) desire and its consequence, saṁsāraḥ, the endless cycle of birth and death; a wise person.
ātmavān
A jñānī; one who is the master of oneself; one who has clear vision of oneself being ātmā, meaning one whose doubts about oneself and the world have been resolved through flawless knowledge; one who is no longer bound by action; one who recognises actionlessness in the midst of action (and action in actionlessness).
ātma-vicāraḥ
Enquiry into the nature of the self. Such enquiry alone leads to liberation. It can be conducted only by one who is sufficiently qualified, meaning one whose mind is sufficiently prepared through karma-yogaḥ. It is an enquiry conducted through study of the Upaniṣads, with the help of a guruḥ.
ātma-vidyā
Self-knowledge; knowledge of one's true nature.
ātma-vinigrahaḥ
Mastery over the body-mind-sense complex in order to regulate it in preparation for ātma-vicāraḥ. Karma-yogaḥ and aṣṭāṅga-yogaḥ are prescribed for this regulation.
atyanta-abhāvaḥ
Absolute non-existence (also known as tuccham, empty, vain); impossibility of existence, for example, a square circle, the son of a barren woman. See abhāvaḥ.
atyanta-pralayaḥ
Total dissolution; a synonym of moksaḥ in which objects are resolved into their cause, the satya-vastu, without involving any kind of disappearance. See layaḥ, pralayaḥ and mahā-pralayaḥ.
avaccheda-vādaḥ
Conditioning or limitation model. A model or teaching device showing how the one consciousness 'becomes' many limited or conditioned forms of consciousness, for example, space is seemingly conditioned or limited by multiple pots to form individual pot spaces. Also see pratibimba-vādaḥ and ābhāsa-vādaḥ – all such models have their merits and flaws.
avacchinna
Limited; separate (from); distinguished (from). The first and most recognisable characteristic of the jivaḥ is that it is limited and hence separate from and distinguishable from all else – but in reality, in essence, it is limitless consciousness, ātmā. When consciousness shines within a limited being, that consciousness is said to reflect there cidābhāsaḥ (cit, consciousness; ābhāsaḥ, reflection).
avadhāraṇā
Ascertainment; understanding; conviction; commitment.
avagamanam
An understanding; a proclamation; something made known.
āvaraṇam
Covering; a cover; an obscuring; a concealing.
āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ
Tamas, the power of inertia of māyā, is the source of its concealing or veiling power known as its āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ (or āvṛti-śaktiḥ), a synonym of avidyā. The āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ 'covers' the uncoverable ātmā so well (just as heavy cloud, formed by the sun, obscures our view of the sun) that ātmā is not seen for what it is – distinct from what it is not. This erroneous conception, adhyāsaḥ, marks the arising of the vikṣepa-śaktiḥ of māyā that successively leads to āropaḥ, adhyāropaḥ, ahaṅkāraḥ, kāmaḥ, karma and saṁsāraḥ.
Although commonly translated as ignorance, this covering power may be understood as the power of knowing being unmanifest. Ignorance is just a temporary name given to the unmanifest power of knowledge. When it is unmanifest, as for example in deep sleep, knowledge is not evident, which means knowledge is as good as covered. That in turn amounts to saying ignorance is present, concealing knowledge. However, seemingly concealed or not, all that is ever there is knowledge. Ignorance, in contrast, has no real or independent existence, it is merely a particular perspective on knowledge. There is no independent entity called ignorance other than knowledge.
In common with ātmā, ignorance at the level of mūla-avidyā, or āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ, is featureless and so is free from any kind of division, there being no experience of duality until brought by the emergence of vikṣepa-śaktiḥ.
If māyā completely covered īśvaraḥ there could be no universe. Instead, its āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ covers the limitlessness and non-duality of īśvaraḥ. What is not veiled is that īśvaraḥ exists, asti, shines bhāti, and is pleasing, priya. When these take on name and form (nāma-rūpam) īśvaraḥ 'manifests' as the world in all its variety, just as dream manifests from the slumbering waker.
avasthānam
Departure point; residence; situation.
avasthā-trayam
The three (trayam) states (avasthā) of experience. All three are mutually exclusive, discontinuous states of the mind, enjoying only conditional, dependent (not absolute) reality. This is confirmed by the fact that each state is regarded as real while in it, but is later found to be unreal when in either of the other two states. In dream, the dream world alone is real; similarly, in the waking state, only the waking world is regarded as real. The reality of both worlds is dismissed in deep sleep, and the reality of deep sleep is dismissed in both waking and dream. Turīya alone is truly, independently real; it fully pervades the other three and is the source of their 'reality' as it lends them their reality, as gold does for a gold ring, bracelet or chain.
jāgrad-avasthā, waking state.
svapna-avasthā, dream state.
suṣupti-avasthā, deep-sleep state.
Also see turīya, 'fourth' (not a state).
avasthā-traya-viveka-prakriyā
Method, prakriyā, of analysis, vivekaḥ, (used, for example, in the Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad) demonstrating that ātmā is not limited to any of the three, traya, states, avasthā – waking, dream and sleep.
avatāraḥ
Descent; the divine (īśvaraḥ) descended (meaning, as though manifest) in bhū-lokaḥ, due to the prayers of followers of dharmaḥ for the quelling of adharmaḥ, and primarily for the re-establishing of dharmaḥ.
avayava
Limb; member; part; portion; subdivision; component.
avayava-vikāraḥ
Partial change, for example, gold undergoes a partial change (a change of form, not substance) in becoming an ornament. This appears to make the causal status of Brahman questionable. See adhyāropa-apavāda-viveka-prakriyā.
āveśaḥ
Complete absorption (of the mind in consciousness).
avicāraḥ
Lack of enquiry; thoughtlessness; complacency; error. See vicāraḥ.
avidyā
(Beginningless) ignorance; knowledge that is opposed to truth; incorrect or incomplete knowledge (a-vidyā); the vyaṣṭiḥ aspect of māyā manifest only in the jāgrad-avasthā (waking state) and the svapna-avasthā (dream state) of the jīvaḥ, while ever unmanifest and undifferentiated in the suṣupti-avasthā (deep-sleep state).
Ātmā with the avidyā-upādhiḥ (the manifesting medium or conditioning adjunct of ignorance) is known as the jīvaḥ, the individual. Ātmā with the māyā-upādhiḥ, the conditioning adjunct of māyā, is īśvaraḥ.
Ignorance is not created. It is a condition of the mind in which tamas prevails. It is not mere absence of knowledge: ignorance is opposed to knowledge (just as unmanifest is opposed to manifest, and wrong to right) and is overcome by knowledge alone. Ignorance conceals that which is true and causes the projection of something else in its place. That 'something else', that incorrect or incomplete knowledge, when taken to be true, stands opposed to that which is true.
That incorrect or false conclusion occurs in the mind (and so enlightenment is only for the mind). Ignorance cannot occur in ātmā, for ātmā is flawless, pure knowledge. Ignorance occurs only for the jīvaḥ and is held in the mind – the jīvaḥ being a seeming conjoining or association of consciousness and mind. When the jīvaḥ status is recognised to be no more than an appearance, its ignorance goes too. Hence, on ceasing identification with the mind (and body) the wise see no ignorance. Ultimately, there is no ignorance, no mind and no māyā.
To come to a false conclusion because of avidyā is to arrive at adhyāsaḥ. It is adhyāsaḥ, erroneous conception, not seeing things as they are, that is the immediate cause of saṁsāraḥ, while ignorance is of course the foundational or ultimate or root cause (mūla-avidyā). Avyakta is a synonym of avidyā. See āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ, vikṣepa-śaktiḥ and rajju-sarpa-nyāyaḥ.
āviḥ
Self-effulgent; self-revealing; self-evident.
avikārya
Unmodifiable; unchanging.
avināśaḥ
Immortality; absence of death or destruction.
aviruddha
Unopposed
avivekaḥ
Absence or lack of discriminative understanding. See vivekaḥ.
āvṛttiḥ
Mental repetition (of a mantraḥ).
avyabhicārinī-bhaktiḥ
Unswerving devotion; a mind that, in its moments of leisure, spontaneously returns to dwelling on its highest aspiration, liberation.
avyākṛta
Undifferentiated; primal; undeveloped; māyā prior to its manifestation of sṛṣṭiḥ. Avyākṛta-ākāśaḥ, the undifferentiated sacred space within the seat of 'I' (namely, within the buddhiḥ) in which Brahman is available for recognition – as indeed is all else. That same space is also known as parama-vyoman.
avyakta
Unmanifest; imperceptible via the senses; reality's beginningless unmanifest power of knowing; synonym of māyā and of avidyā. The kāraṇa-prapañcaḥ, the seed or cause of the whole (macro) cosmos, and the kāraṇa-śarīram, the seed or cause of each micro or individual manifest being are both incorporated (included) in this universal, undifferentiated avyaktam. To help more easily distinguish these two macro and micro causes, Vedāntaḥ gives them the names māyā and avidyā respectively.
avyaya
Undecaying; indeclinable; changeless.
ayamātmā brahma
'This self is Brahman' (Māṇḍūkya 2). Ayam, this one, this very self here, this pratyagātmā, my innermost, most fundamental self, pure consciousness, is Brahman!
It is being pointed out here by the mahāvākyam that the very subtlest essence of the individual is pure consciousness, Brahman. The ordinary sense of self, 'me', is not being equated with Brahman, it is its unlimited, unobjectifiable substratum that is being equated. See mahāvākyam and also tattvamasi, ahaṃ brahmāsmi, prajñānaṃ brahma.
āyatanam
Abode; sanctuary; resting place; support; altar.
ayathārtha-jñānam
Erroneous knowledge. We make a mistake about something when it is not clearly or fully evident or available to us. Neither an unknown and absent nor a known and evident object causes a mistake to be made about it. "Erroneous knowledge takes place when an object is recognised, but not as it is."*
This flawed recognition arises (in the buddhiḥ) due to the āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ of māyā and avicāraḥ, a lack of enquiry.
bādhaḥ
Negation (by correct knowledge); sublation; objection; contradiction; (bādhita, false, annulled, subject to negation; bādhaka, any factor that negates a previous contention). In Vedāntaḥ, jñānam corrects error not just by negating it but by sublating it (resolving it into a greater perspective). Such sublation is the natural outcome of true knowledge. Bādhaḥ removes, through understanding, the false/apparent reality of an object or situation. See abādhita and prabodhaḥ.
bādhāyāṁ sāmāna-adhikaraṇyam
A term describing the correction of an error by negation when words are in apposition. For example, when a stump of a tree is mistaken for a man, 'man' and 'tree' are in apposition and the corrective negation (bādhaḥ) arises from the words: "Don't be alarmed, it's only a tree stump." Similarly, the mistake of thinking "I am this body" ('I' and 'body' are in apposition) is corrected by the sublation, "No, the seer cannot be the seen, even though the seen is the seer." See sāmāna-adhikaraṇyam.
bāhya
External (opp. of abhyantara, internal).
bāhyendriyam
External organ, for example, the eye (a category term distinguishing external organs from internal ones). There are several such organs. Each is referred to as an organ (indriyam) because each is the 'organ' or instrument via which a subtle power or capacity, such as sight or speech, manifests. See golakam.
bāla
Young; not mature; not fully grown.
balam
Strength; force. Strength is more than physical. Real strength – inner strength – is the ability to live a purposeful, disciplined life, following true values. It is evident in having the qualifications needed for mokṣaḥ, which in turn come from having puruṣārtha-niścayaḥ, definiteness about one's primary aim in life. See sādhana-catuṣṭayam.
bandhaḥ
A fetter; a fastening; a shackle; a binding. In Vedāntaḥ, the shackle is subtle, not physical. It is deha-abhimānaḥ, 'I'-sense in the body.
bandhanam
Bondage; confining; restraint; imprisonment; dependence. Bondage is being bound or shackled (and made dependent) by the false conclusion in the intellect that I am this limited individual, this aggregate of body, mind and senses. Liberation, mokṣaḥ, is freedom from this intellectual problem of ignorance-caused mis-identification and its consequence, saṁsāraḥ. That freedom is found in the recognition and full ascertainment that I am the limitless ātmā.
Bondage is not real and is because of ignorance. When ignorance is destroyed through knowledge, all bondage ceases. Mokṣaḥ is nothing but abidance in one’s true nature, Brahman. Mokṣaḥ is not something actually attained by the ātmā for the ātmā is never bound, only mistaken to be bound.
"Even while thinking any thought, you are free; just as the actor remains free while playing the rôle of the beggar. If this is clear, then the world cannot cause a problem for you. Vedānta doesn’t remove any limitations, it only makes you understand that you are already free from all of them."*
bauddhaḥ (buddhist)
Asserts that neither matter nor consciousness has any substance – both are said to be śūnyam, void/empty. The self is similarly said to be void. The other main debating opponents of Vedāntaḥ are: cārvākaḥ, pūrvamīmāṃsakaḥ, sāṅkhyam, vaiśeṣikaḥ, and naiyāyikaḥ.
bhadra
Auspicious; that which drives away, or does not cause, pain.
bhagaḥ
The six great virtues (also known as jñānādi guṇavantaḥ) found in equal, absolute and limitless measure only in Bhagavān:
aiśvaryam - overlordship
vīryam - the capacity to create, sustain and resolve
yaśas - absolute fame
śrīḥ - all wealth and resources
jñānam - all knowledge
vairāgyam - total dispassion
bhāga-tyāga-lakṣaṇā
A defining statement (lakṣaṇā) in which irrelevant and inappropriate parts (bhāga) of word meanings are left aside (tyāga) and relevant and appropriate ones retained. Synonym of jahadajahallakṣaṇā.
bhagavad-gītā
Part of the great epic Mahābhāratam, the Bhagavad-Gītā (The Lord's Song) is a smṛtiḥ that teaches the way of life that prepares the mind for knowledge of truth and for knowing the nature of reality. It is one of the three great pieces of scriptural literature that form the prasthāna-trayam.
bhagavān
Lord, īśaḥ; the one endowed with the six great virtues, bhagaḥ, in abundant and equal measure; personification of absolute supreme reality, absolute peace; synonym of īśvaraḥ.
bhaktaḥ
Devotee; there are four types of devotee:
ārtaḥ - a distressed devotee (ārta, distressed) who thinks of God and seeks his help only when in trouble.
arthārthī - a desirer (arthī) of the object of desire (artha); a simple devotee who seeks God’s help to pursue security, pleasure and the removal of suffering.
jijñāsuḥ - a real devotee, a seeker of knowledge of īśvaraḥ, the Lord.
jñānī - a wise person, an exalted devotee who sees his or her own self being non-separate from the Lord.
bhaktiḥ
Devotion, love, with respect and reverence; attachment; trust; homage; worship; piety; faith.
Since bhaktiḥ is expressed through action, it comes within karma-yogaḥ and so there is no bhakti-mārgaḥ. Bhaktiḥ is not a separate, distinct path to truth. It is a love for dharmaḥ, for doing what is right, and love for dharmaḥ becomes love for īśvaraḥ.
The highest form of bhaktiḥ is ātma-vicāraḥ, self-enquiry, the middle form is constantly meditating upon (dwelling upon) the fact that the entire universe is a manifestation of God, and the lowest form is offering all one's actions in service of the Lord in acknowledgement that all that is here is īśvaraḥ (including oneself).
bhāmatī
A contention within Vedāntaḥ that śravanam provides only parokṣa-jñānam, indirect knowledge, and that afterwards nididhyāsanam has to be practised, not only for removal of pratibandhas (principally viparīta-bhāvanā) but for the full ascertainment of what has been heard and understood through śravanam. In short, the contention is that mokṣaḥ requires a combination of both knowledge and action, jñāna-karma samuccayaḥ.
This is not and cannot be true: being limited in both scope and result, action (whether combined with knowledge or not) cannot produce or help produce limitlessness. No incremental action can reach infinity. Mokṣaḥ, an already existent fact, only needs to be known, not produced. The already free who think they are bound need no action to be free, they just need to properly recognise the fact of being ever free. Knowledge alone removes ignorance. See vivaraṇam.
bhārata-deśaḥ
The country, deśaḥ, (in which the people) revel, rata, in the light of truth, bhā, (and so live a life of dharmaḥ). The proper name for India.
bhāsaḥ
Light; lustre; brightness; impression made on the mind; see cidābhāsaḥ.
bhāṣā
Language; speech.
bhāṣyakāraḥ
Commentator; author of a bhāṣyam, a commentary; a term often used to refer to the great commentators Śrī Rāmānujaḥ and Śrī Mādhvaḥ, but perhaps most often as a synonym for the incomparable Ādi-Śaṅkara-Bhagavatpādaḥ.
bhāsya
(Made) visible; brought to light.
bhāṣyam
Written commentary on a śrutiḥ text bringing out its significance (a commentary on a text that is not a śrutiḥ is called a vyākhyānam or explanation). The method used in a bhāṣyam is to quote a word and next to it offer one or more words in explanation. A commentary becomes a bhāṣyam when it gives the meaning and also defends the meaning that is given. There are many bhāṣyams, but the well-known ones are written by three ācāryas: Śrī Ādi-Śaṅkaraḥ, Śrī Rāmānujaḥ, and Śrī Mādhavaḥ. The greatest and most famous are by Śrī Ādi-Śaṅkaraḥ. See kārikā, ṭīkā and vārtikam.
bhātiḥ
Splendour; evidence; knowledge; light – all pertaining to the shining of the light of consciousness (as a verb, bhāti means 'to shine, be, exist, show oneself').
bhāvaḥ
Existence; state of being; manner of being; nature; temperament; character; any state of mind or body; way of thinking or feeling; sentiment; opinion; disposition; intention.
bhāvanā
Attitude; conception; understanding; imagination; supposition; fancy; thought; meditation. Without a proper, healthy, positive attitude towards Vedānta it will be of no benefit.
bhavarogaḥ
Disease (rogaḥ) of existence, of becoming; the disease of saṁsāraḥ, the beginningless, endless cycle of births and deaths.
bhaviṣyat
About to become or be; the future.
bhaviṣyat-kālaḥ
Future time; the future; (gram.) future tense; see kālaḥ, bhūta-kālaḥ, vartamāna-kālaḥ.
bhayam
Fear; alarm; dread. Fear, which is always of a potential loss, is the inevitable consequence of perceived limitation – one who has limits is vulnerable to loss and vulnerability is the harbinger of fear. Desire and action may arise in an attempt to mitigate or eliminate vulnerability and its offspring, fear. All such action, being based on a false premise, perpetuates saṁsāraḥ.
bhedaḥ
Difference. Every object in the universe is subject to three kinds of difference:
svagata-bhedaḥ - differences between parts of the same object (e.g. between a leaf and a branch of the same tree).
sajātīya-bhedaḥ - differences between objects of the same kind (e.g. between two trees).
vijātīya-bhedaḥ - differences between different kinds of object (e.g. between a tree and a cow).
Difference, although experienced, is not a perception but an interpretation. It is not perceived but conceived, and is solely of the mind. It is a concept and is mithyā.
bhedābheda-vādaḥ
Contention of difference with non-difference. A dualist proposition maintaining that irreconcilable differences and non-differences forever exist. For example, the jīvaḥ and īśvaraḥ are, they claim, forever in some respects similar and in some respects not. Such thinking is flawed, taking no account of the mithyā status of upādhiḥ and having no real understanding of the vastu that is satyam. See vādaḥ.
bhikṣā
Alms; a gift of money, food, clothing, etc., in support of a sādhuḥ.
bhinna
Separate; different.
bhoga-āyatanam
The place, āyatanam, of experience, bhoga (the support, abode or 'counter' across which one has dealings with the world); the body-mind-sense complex.
bhogaḥ
Experience; enjoyment. Searching in the world for enjoyments or pleasures is the mistake of projecting happiness onto external phenomena and leads to sorrow. The world is not designed to give happiness, peace or love; being our nature, they are already ours. The world is designed to fulfil our basic needs. Hence, it is saner to give (contribute) happiness, peace and love.
bhoga-bhūmiḥ
World of experience or enjoyment; the world in which a person appears with an appropriate physical and subtle body to experience the results of his/her karma.
bhoga-sādhanam
Instrument or means, sādhanam, of experience, bhoga. A synonym for the subtle body, sūkṣma-śarīram.
bhogya
An object of enjoyment or experience.
bhoktā
Enjoyer (also known as bhoktṛ); one who believes himself to be an experiencer. Arising in the ānandamayakośaḥ, the kośaḥ closest to the ātmā, this experiencer, this bhoktā, is the basic person (the basic manifestation of the individual) he who is ever in search of sukham, happiness.
Ultimately, ātmā, consciousness, is the only experiencer/enjoyer, providing doership and enjoyership to each means of experience in the body-mind complex by pervading and enlivening each means. Without ātmā, experience is impossible. Similarly, it could be argued that without the body-mind complex, manifestation is impossible for ātmā, but really, the body-mind complex (and the whole jagat) are merely appearances in ātmā.
bhoktṛtvam
Enjoyership; the sense of being the enjoyer (experiencer) of the results of action. See kartṛtvam.
bhramaḥ
Confusion; perplexity; delusion (fem: bhrāntiḥ).
bhūḥ
The Earth; known as bhū-lokaḥ, the world of becoming; world of mortals; lowest of the seven heavens. It is the turning point, the only lokaḥ where change can occur, where new karma may be formed, because it is the only lokaḥ with free-will and doership and where mokṣaḥ may be attained.
Bhūḥ is also the name of the first of the three vyāhṛtis that are the origin and essence of the gāyatrī-mantraḥ. See bhuvaḥ, svaḥ.
bhūmiḥ
The element Earth.
bhūta-grāmaḥ
Group or multitude of beings.
bhūta-kālaḥ
The past; (gram.) past tense; see kālaḥ, vartamānakālaḥ, bhaviṣyat-kālaḥ.
bhūtam
A (transient) element, being or entity; that which has come into being and will later cease to be. See viṣayaḥ.
bhūta-yajñaḥ
Worship, yajñaḥ, of the Lord in the form of proper care for the living beings, bhūtas, that constitute the natural world of plants, animals, etc.; one of the five pañcamahā-yajñas.
bhūta-yoniḥ
Cause of all.
bhūtiḥ
All forms of wealth; prosperity; being; well-being; power; might.
bhuvaḥ
The intermediary world between bhū-lokaḥ and suvar-lokaḥ; sixth lowest of the seven heavens, it is also known as antarikṣam, the astral plane.
Name of the second of the three vyāhṛtis that are the origin and essence of the gāyatrī-mantraḥ. See bhuḥ, svaḥ, lokaḥ.
bījam
Seed; source; cause.
bimbaḥ
Reflection; manifestation – often used figuratively in the metaphoric sense that an ornament reflects the jeweller's design (makes a concept manifest) or that thought is reflected in action. Nevertheless, 'reflection' conveys the idea that that manifestation is, within its limits, an accurate representation. Further, since ātmā is all-pervading, there is nothing away from ātmā that can serve as a locus for reflection.
bodhaḥ
Knowledge; awareness.
brahmā
An exalted jīvaḥ in the rôle of the creator and protector of the universe, and as the revealer of the Vedāḥ. Also known as Brahmājī, Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, Prajāpatiḥ. See Viṣṇuḥ, Śivaḥ.
brahma (brahman)
Brahman is absolute, non-dual, abstract reality; absolute truth; absolute peace; all-pervading, indivisible, non-transactable, formless being. Brahman alone is satyam, all else is mithyā. Context determines whether the term brahman refers to saguṇa-brahman or nirguṇa-brahman. The word brahman implies the limitlessness of absolute reality, whereas the word ātmā implies the all-pervasiveness of reality. Brahman and ātmā are synonyms.
Brahman is existence (existence itself); knowledge (pure knowledge, knowledge as such); limitlessness; timelessness; free from impurity; beyond māyā; self-evident; happiness not bound by time or degree; non-separate from oneself. When related to, it is regarded as īśvaraḥ.
Brahman is the divisionless, ever available, unmanifest reality behind and beyond all manifestation; it is that pure, unmanifest being worshipped by the highest, most mature devotee – not to be confused with the similarly named Brahmā (Brahmājī) the Creator. See iṣṭa-devatā and viśvarūpaḥ. Also see cit and jñaptiḥ.
brahma-abhyāsaḥ
Gaining clarity of understanding through teaching. Teaching Vedāntaḥ is itself a means to gaining more clarity about something you already know as it highlights unknown weak points or brings further insights.
brahma-abhyāsa-rūpa-nididhyāsanam
A practice of nididhyāsanam in which what has been thoroughly understood from śravanam and mananam comes to mind each day, informing all interactions and activities. The person's life is lived more and more from the truth of oneself: knowing I am Brahman, I live as Brahman. Such assimilation of the teaching does not require samādhi-abhyāsa-rūpa-nididhyāsanam, although some practise that too. See samādhiḥ.
brahmacaryam
A lifestyle wherein a student is given to the discipline of entertaining only the Vedic teaching in the mind. The word brahma also means Vedaḥ, which is why a brahmacārī constantly dwells upon the Vedic teaching, avoiding worldly concerns. And so, for example, during brahmacaryam no sexual relationship is indulged.
Brahmacaryam is part of yamaḥ in which it means restraint of sensory appetites (exemplified by the strongest appetite, the sexual appetite) in order to help discover and maintain an unagitated mind.
Earliest of the four āśramas or stages of Vedic life – studentship; also see gṛhasthaḥ, householder; vānaprasthaḥ, withdrawal; sannyāsaḥ, renunciation.
brahmaikyam
Attainment of oneness with Brahman. After the death of the physical body, a jñānī is said to 'merge' with Brahman, meaning all vestiges of jīvatvam go for good. 'Merging' means regaining one's full status as Brahman, a status one never actually left.
brahma-jñānam
Knowledge of absolute truth; knowledge of reality; enemy of saṁsāraḥ; synonym of brahma-vidyā. Absolute truth harbours no enmity towards all that is seemingly here – it is knowledge of truth, not truth itself, that is opposed to (is the enemy of) the false, and is the enemy of saṁsāraḥ.
brahma-kārya-vādaḥ
The proposition, vādaḥ, that the creation is an effect or product, kārya, of Brahman. It is not so! See vādaḥ.
brahma-lokaḥ
Highest of the seven heavens; also known as satya-lokaḥ. See lokaḥ.
brāhma-muhūrtaḥ
A 48-minute period beginning 96 minutes before sunrise; useful for worship and meditation as mental focus is easier.
brāhmaṇaḥ
The mature individual who is totally committed to the pursuit of knowledge and thereby is committed to living a life of values. One who knows the truth is a brāhmanaḥ.
Name of the prose format in which the text of some Upaniṣads is written.
Name of the first varṇaḥ – a priest, teacher, doctor, lawyer, etc.; also see kṣatriyaḥ, soldier; vaiśyaḥ, businessman; śūdraḥ, labourer.
brāhmaṇa-upaniṣad
An Upaniṣad in prose form (not in verse form, meaning, not in mantraḥ form). Each brāhmaṇa-upaniṣad is looked upon as explaining its corresponding mantra-upaniṣad. For example, the Praśna Upaniṣad is the corresponding brāhmaṇopaniṣad to the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad.
brahmāṇḍam
Macrocosom; universe; cosmos.
brahma-niṣṭhaḥ
One who looks upon himself as Brahman and never as a jīvaḥ; one established in knowledge of Brahman, in knowledge of his self being absolute reality, and who reflects its beauty in word and deed; a jñānī – also see śrotriyaḥ.
brahmapuram
Abode of Brahman; the place where Brahman can be found; an epithet for the buddhiḥ, in which alone Brahman can be found or recognised (and having been recognised there is then recognised everywhere).
brahmarandhram
Aperture (randhram) in the crown of the head, closed soon after birth (by the natural fusion of skull bones) through which the jīvaḥ may exit the body on death.
brahma-sūtrāṇi
A nyāya-prasthānam, an analytical study of the statements found in Vedāntaḥ wherein their meanings are irrefutably established. Written by Vyāsaḥ, it is the third text in the prasthāna-trayam.
brahmātmā
The fact of oneself, ātmā, being satyam, jñānam, anantam brahma.
brahmavarcaḥ (brahmavarcas)
Radiance or glow born of dedicated, long-term study of the Vedaḥ and from spiritual practice, especially japaḥ. It includes the brilliance of the capacity to study, recite and remember the Vedaḥ.
brahma veda brahmaiva bhavati
'The knower of Brahman becomes Brahman'. These famous words (from Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 3.2.9) are not speaking of a mere intellectual grasp of the purport of the Upaniṣads but of a fully ascertained knowledge of the fact of being Brahman. That ascertainment is an immediate knowledge of intrinsic limitlessness; it is a never-absent lived reality. No longer subject to sorrow, one is free from all puṇya-pāpas and saṁsāraḥ.
The use of the word bhavati, 'becomes', does not mean a transformation or 'becoming' of the jīvaḥ, the individual. Instead it indicates a full recognition of and 'return' to one's never-absent true self. It is a freedom (mokṣaḥ) from being a jīvaḥ, not a freeing of the jīvaḥ, a freedom from the limited 'me', not a freeing of the limited 'me'. See mahāvākyam.
brahma-vidyā
Knowledge of Brahman, knowledge of ātmā being Brahman, absolute reality. Being the very meaning of the word Upaniṣad, it permanently disintegrates or destroys saṁsāraḥ and is the only means for the attainment of mokṣaḥ. It is the most exalted, most important and most significant among all the forms of knowledge as it is their basis, and it is also known as parāvara-vidyā (knowledge, vidyā, passed in succession, over millennia, from teacher, para, to student, avara).
brahma-yajñaḥ
Also known as ṛṣi-yajñaḥ; one of the five forms of worship; studying Veda-śāstram; studying any scriptural literature as a spiritual aspirant; regular, systematic śravaṇam – also see pañcamahā-yajñaḥ.
buddhiḥ
Intellect – the power to determine, reason, recognise, deliberate, discriminate, decide, will; part of antaḥ-karaṇam (one of its functional names) and hence part of sūkṣma-śarīram. All that happens happens in the buddhiḥ. The buddhiḥ is the place, the only place, where recognition of the self, the ātmā, takes place. It is also the place where its non-recognition takes place. "Enlightenment is only for the buddhiḥ."*
It is the degree of refinement of the buddhiḥ (the degree to which it is able to discern a sense of 'I', of oneself) that alone distinguishes a human being from an animal and gives free-will.
Being the locus of judgement and decision, buddhiḥ is the seat of dhṛtiḥ, the will. Resolve, saṅkalpaḥ (often contaminated to varying degrees by rāga-dveṣas) is a judgement as to value or appropriateness – "this is worth having or doing; this must happen (or not happen)" – which runs through every desire, driving it to its fulfilment. Identification with the thought or desire or judgement means ahaṅkāraḥ has risen, making it 'my will', 'my decision', etc. In this way, buddhiḥ and ahaṅkāraḥ become synonymous with will.
"The buddhiḥ is related to objects during cognition but cannot cognise itself (as it is a capacity, not an object). However, as it negates ignorance it cannot be said to be uncognised. Hence, unlike a pot, it is neither an object of cognition nor of non-cognition." Pañcadaśī 8:23
The inert buddhiḥ, when infused or associated with the reflected light of consciousness is rendered sentient, and the sense of 'I' arises. This limited 'I'-thought (aham-vṛttiḥ) is also known as ahaṅkāraḥ (the variable mistaken 'I'-notion) or jīvaḥ (the individual soul). Limited individuality, (naturally) acting from a limited, incomplete perspective gains limited results and so becomes a saṁsārī, travelling from birth to birth.
buddhimān
One who, being a kṛtsna-karmakṛt, sees actionlessness in action; an intelligent person; a discriminating person; one who thinks clearly and hence is fearless and wise.
buddhism
See bauddhaḥ.
caitanyam
Consciousness; awareness.
cala
Moving; movable; unsteady.
caṇḍālaḥ
Uncivilised, unrefined, uncultured, tāmasika, wild, rough person (lit. dog-eater).
candraḥ
Moon (cāndra, lunar).
cārvākaḥ
A materialist and atheist school of Indian philosophy whose adherents often appear in bhāṣyams as debating opponents of Vedāntaḥ. They claim that matter alone is real and that the mind (or senses) is the ātmā, the self, which doesn't survive death and so there is no-one to suffer the consequences of puṇya-pāpam. See other dualist opponents of Vedāntaḥ – pūrvamīmāṃsakaḥ, sāṅkhyam, vaiśeṣikaḥ, bauddhaḥ and naiyāyikaḥ.
caturyugam
The four (catur) ages (yugam) of the world-cycle:
kali-yugam 432,000 yrs
  (began 18 Feb 3102 BCE)
dvāpara-yugam 864,000 yrs
  (kali-yugam x 2)
tretā-yugam 1,296,000 yrs
  (kali-yugam x 3)
kṛta-yugam 1,728,000 yrs
  (kali-yugam x 4)
A catur-yugam (all four yugas combined) totals 4,320,000 yrs and is known as a mahā-yugam (a kali-yugam x 10 is also 4,320,000 yrs). See kalpaḥ, manvantaram, yugam.
cetanā
Consciousness; intelligence; faculty of cognition; sentience; (cetana, conscious, intelligent, alive). "Cetanā implies not only clarity, but free will. It is the highest form of prakṛti's manifestation."*
cetas
Mind; consciousness; awareness.
chandaḥ (chandas)
Science of prosody, metre (e.g. anuṣṭup, triṣṭup, gāyatrī) the science of proper stress and intonation patterns used in ritual; one of the six auxiliary sciences, Vedāṅgas, of the Vedas – also see śikṣā, vyākaraṇam, niruktam, jyotiṣaḥ, kalpaḥ.
chāndasa-prayogaḥ
Vedic usage; Vedic expression; a word-form peculiar to the Vedas that does not conform to conventional Saṁskṛtam grammar rules.
cidābhāsaḥ
Reflection of pure consciousness from the perspective of the individual. When consciousness shines in the body-mind-sense complex as 'I' it is known as cidābhāsaḥ. The reflection of consciousness within the individual, which gives rise to the sense of individual self-awareness and self-existence is the essence of the jīvaḥ. That individual self-awareness is a limited reflection in the mind and body of absolute, non-limited, non-individual, pure consciousness. This reflection leads to the identification of consciousness with the body-mind, thus forming the individual sentient being, the jīvaḥ or jīvātmā. Also see pratibimbaḥ. Cidābhāsaḥ and pratibimbaḥ are the same consciousness viewed from different perspectives (the former 'internally', the latter 'externally').
cidākāśaḥ
The space, ākāśaḥ, in the buddhiḥ in which consciousness, cit, shines (is manifest) as the 'I'-sense.
cidambaram
That ātmā, that consciousness, that awareness, that cit, upon which the entire fabric (ambaram) of the jagat is woven as it were.
cidvilāsaḥ
(All is) the play (vilāsaḥ) of consciousness, cit.
cidvivartaḥ
An appearance (vivartaḥ) in cit (pure consciousness); all is an appearance in consciousness.
cinmātrā
All is a mātrā, a measure, of cit, pure consciousness – all consists of (is an expression of) pure consciousness; there is nothing here but awareness, which is my essential nature. Brahma khālu idam sarvam, iha nānā kiñcana nāsti - All this is indeed Brahman; nothing else is here (there is no plurality or variety here).
cinmayam
(In the form of) pure consciousness; (consisting of) pure thought; nothing but awareness.
cintanam
Thinking; reflecting.
cit (citiḥ)
Pure consciousness; pure knowledge; pure intelligence; source of all knowledge (both manifest knowledge and yet-to-be-manifest knowledge); source of all manifestation – the one unchanging presence (also known as sat); synonym of caitanyam. (Note: cit - neuter, citiḥ - feminine of the same word.)
'Pure' consciousness (or pure knowledge) is a term used to distinguish undifferentiated (unmanifest) consciousness from differentiated (manifest) consciousness, namely consciousness itself from consciousness of something or in the form of something. It is like distinguishing water from a wave, water is ever water regardless of its present appearance as a wave, and yet the wave undeniably has a distinct existence, but that existence is the existence of pure (meaning ever-unformed) water.
Even though one's face is undeniably present, a mirror is needed to see it. Just so, ever-present cit is not experienceable as an object. Any direct 'experience' of pure consciousness is of its reflection. As with the unreflected face, cit is ever self-evident and no special experience is needed to know its presence.
When fully manifest (via māyā), cit is known as (has the status of being) all-powerful, all-knowing īśvaraḥ. When only partially manifest, as in a jīvaḥ, cit has the status of being avidyā, and knowledge is similarly partial and incomplete. When unmanifest, as in insentient objects, cit is known as the nature, prakṛtiḥ, of such objects and manifests (is appreciable) only as their very existence due to the absence of a suitable means of manifestation, a sūkṣma-śarīram.
Cit, absolute reality (also known as Brahman) being self-effulgent, non-objectifiable and free from all limitations, can never be experienced directly (as objects can) and can be arrived at only in terms of its nature of knowing. It is the formless 'substance' (the very reality) of aham, the 'I'-thought. See ānandaḥ, jñānam, jñāptiḥ, śuddha-caitanyam, turīyam, vidyā and vijñānam.
citra-paṭa-nyāyaḥ
The analogy of embroidered cloth. A beautifully embroidered scene of people, mountains, trees and animals soon disappears when threads are pulled. Just so, this entire world of names and forms is no more substantial than richly coloured images 'embroidered' in the 'fabric' of awareness. (citram, image, picture; paṭaḥ, cloth, fabric; nyāyaḥ, illustration, maxim.) See nyāyaḥ.
cit-svarūpam
Of the very form of (of the very nature of) pure knowledge, pure consciousness.
cittam
Mind-stuff; subconscious mind; memory; power of recollection; part of the antaḥ-karaṇam (one of its functional names) and hence part of the sūkṣma-śarīram.
citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ
The discipline (nirodhaḥ) of patiently guarding the mind (citta) from being dominated and controlled by habitual, troublesome, involuntary thoughts (vṛtti). Citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ is the proper direction (disciplining) of habitual, unnecessary thoughts that hinder the development of self-knowledge. Poor habits are removed by creating new ones that oppose and displace them, thus good habits overcome bad ones.
Without practising this discipline – with patience and perseverance, in the light of the teaching – poor habitual thoughts will hinder the assimilation and enjoyment of the knowledge gained through Vedāntaḥ. This discipline is an aspect of śamaḥ and contributes to mental well-being. It is, of course, essentially the same disciplining of the mind that is involved in japaḥ and in all forms of meditation – without it there can be no japaḥ, no meditation.
daivam
Grace; being blessed by the devas. Any successful undertaking involves three important factors: effort, prayatnaḥ, time, kālaḥ, and the unknown factor, daivam, which, when invoked by prayer, may neutralise unseen obstacles to success.
dakṣiṇa
Able; skilful; expert; right (side); southern direction.
dakṣiṇā
An offering or honorarium (whether in money or in kind) to brāhmaṇas or to one's guruḥ. Dakṣiṇā is not a fee, donation or gift. It is compulsory for a ritual. When not given in a ritual, the priest alone – and not the yajamānaḥ – reaps the ritual's benefit.
dakṣiṇāmūrtiḥ
īśvaraḥ, the Lord, invoked as the bestower of spiritual knowledge, absolute wisdom.
First and foremost in the unbroken lineage of gurus or teachers, Dakṣiṇāmūrtiḥ is the personification of pure knowledge (the source of all manifest knowledge) and so is said to be teaching in silence, which does not mean he did not speak – all teaching requires speech. It means that, in common with all traditional teachers, he taught first by niṣedha-vākyam, negation of that which is not true. Then he taught that which is true, which, due to its subtlety, is best conveyed by lakṣaṇa-vākyam, its indirect implication.
Although formless, amūrti, he is portrayed facing south, dakṣiṇa, sitting under a banyan tree with his four disciples (sons of Brahmā) known as Sanakaḥ, Sanātanaḥ, Sanandanaḥ and Sanatkumāraḥ.
damaḥ
Mastery over the organs (powers) of sense and action. When there is a possibility of their inappropriate use, such as in the expression of anger or of excessive indulgence, damaḥ is required to channel the emotion appropriately. Damaḥ requires being alert to one's responses and using one's will, dhṛtiḥ, to modify or redirect them so that one's speech and actions are appropriate. When the mature, objective outlook needed for śamaḥ is unavailable (when anger has risen, for example) damaḥ may be needed to ensure appropriate behaviour. See ṣaṭka-sampattiḥ – also see śamaḥ, uparamaḥ, titikṣā, śraddhā, samādhānam.
dānam
Giving; gift; charitable activity.
darśanam
Vision; seeing; vision of truth; school of thought; contention; seeing Bhagavān in the form of a deity in a temple. Vedāntaḥ is not a darśanam, it merely provides corrections to misunderstandings of one's real nature. Those corrections naturally imply one's true nature, which, due to its subtlety, cannot be pointed out directly.
dayā
Compassion; empathy.
dehaḥ
Body; subject to heat, to the burning heat of mental and/or physical adversity and eventually, in many instances, to the heat of cremation; also see the synoyms kāyaḥ, śarīram.
dehātma-buddhiḥ
Identification of the self with the body; the cognition (buddhiḥ) that the self (ātmā) is the body (dehaḥ). The word 'body' in this devastating error includes the senses and mind, not just the physical body. In its most extreme form, identification is with the physical body alone – in which the mind, consciousness and sensory experience are regarded as mere epiphenomena of the brain.
deha-vāsanā
Three types: identification with the body, beautification of the body, and attempts to remove bodily flaws. See vāsanā.
dehī
Indweller of the body; synonym for jīvaḥ.
deśaḥ
Place; spot; country.
deśikaḥ
Guide (to a place); teacher; guruḥ.
devaḥ
Effulgence; fem: devatā. The knowledge principle by which something has its existence. All devas, as one, constitute īśvaraḥ and each is the samaṣṭiḥ to the correponding vyaṣṭiḥ, namely, to an individual indriyam. Devaḥ is a general term for any natural phenomenon looked upon as an illumination of consciousness or as a specific manifestation of the Lord (typically in the form of laws, such as the laws of optics that determine seeing).
devanāgarī
Name of the script used for Saṁskṛtam. Its most popular transliteration scheme, IAST, is used in this glossary. Since naga means city or abode, devanāgarī may be translated as 'from the abode of the divine' or simply 'from the gods'.
deva-yajñaḥ
One of the five forms of worship; invoking īśvaraḥ in the form of gods (devatāḥ, natural phenomena) in order to express gratitude for all with which one has been blessed; also see pañcamahā-yajñas.
dhairyam
Courage; boldness; bravery.
dhāmam
Abode; destination.
dhanam
Wealth; property; treasure.
dhāraṇā
Holding or placing the attention of the mind on a chosen object for meditation, or on one's own svarūpam for contemplation. Meditation (dhyānam) and contemplation (nididhyāsanam) both consist in always returning attention to that chosen focus when it moves away. See pratyāhāraḥ and aṣṭāṅga-yogaḥ.
dharmaḥ
There is no equivalent word in European languages; dharmaḥ is that which upholds; universal, natural, moral, law and order; ethics; universal values; disciplines; performance of one's own duties, and secular and sacred activities; social service; acquiring puṇyam through the above factors.
Dharmo rakṣati rakṣitaḥ – Dharmaḥ protected protects: by following dharmaḥ it is protected from falling into disuse, and the follower is in turn protected from falling into adharmaḥ. Additionally, the good influence of good action spreads.
Dharmaḥ provides relative protection; jñānam, knowledge, alone gives absolute protection.
Pure consciousness, due to its very purity, is flawless, perfect, limitless and complete. Being so, whatever arises from it will be of essentially the same nature and will reflect that nature within the confines of its form. This means that, in spite of appearances and to the degree that the limits of manifestation allow, the sṛṣṭiḥ is a flawless, orderly and complete reflection of that nature. That flawless, harmonious orderliness (niyatiḥ) that permeates and upholds all manifestation, as its very adhiṣṭhānam, is dharmaḥ. "All that is here is īśvaraḥ."*
This does not mean that this order cannot be wilfully challenged, neglected or (severely) distorted, but then it naturally reasserts itself.
Dharmaḥ is a karma that produces special unseen puṇyam, unlike other karmas. "The law that we call the law of dharmaḥ at the level of choice and the law of karma at the level of action is the same."* See sāmānya-dharmaḥ and viśeṣa-dharmaḥ.
dharma-aviruddha-karma
Action unopposed to dharmaḥ. In living a life of karma-yogaḥ all one's actions are kept aligned with all that is perceived of the order that is dharmaḥ. As best one may, one's actions (karma) then become unopposed (aviruddha) to dharmaḥ. See karma-yogaḥ.
dhātuḥ
Element or constituent of the body, for example, phlegm, blood, marrow; vital force in man; metal; verbal root.
dhīḥ
Intellect; mind; thought in general (subtle body).
dhīraḥ
A wise person – one whose intellect is protected from fear due to fear having been resolved for good. It is resolved for good only with those who, being liberated, are free from ignorance and so know no second. When the intellect is free from ignorance, the mind is protected from the rise of fear. Only a person with such a mind is a truly brave person who no longer fears the worst of fears... death.
dhṛtiḥ
Will; resolution; perseverance; firmness; fortitude; the capacity not to be diverted from a chosen goal; a function of the buddhiḥ as strength of will is directly related to the clarity with which a value is appreciated (values determine purpose). Human beings alone have free will.
Because it may be applied, or not, or applied differently, will is said to be free. However, although it is indeed intrinsically free, its freedom may be constrained by attitudes, habits, and so on. Thus, a will may be said to be free to the degree to which it is free of its delusions. Its freedom is fully rediscovered only when the delusion of doership is resolved in mokșaḥ. See prārabdha-karma.
dhyānam
Meditation. Meditation is purely a mental activity. If the object is saguṇa-brahma (īśvaraḥ) and it results in calmness or steadiness of mind it is saguṇa-brahma-upāsanam in which there is a difference between the meditator and the meditated. Dhyānam and upāsanam are synonyms.
"To see everything as Bhagavān is dhyānam or upāsanam. To see everything is Bhagavān is jñānam."*
Meditation is formally defined as vijātīya-vṛtti-rahita-sajātīya-vṛtti-pravāha-rūpa-saguṇa-brahma-viṣaya-mānasa-vyāpāraḥ. This means it is a mental (mānasa) activity (vyāpāraḥ) whose subject matter (viṣayaḥ) takes the form (rūpam) of saguṇa-brahma, where all thought (vṛttiḥ) that is devoid of (rahita) or other than the chosen object or topic (vijātīya) is let go and only thought (vṛttiḥ) concerning the chosen object (sajātīya) flows continuously for a time (pravāhaḥ).
For the Vedantin, meditation is not limited to an action done at a given time daily but is a certain commitment that one keeps to many times a day. It is a mental action to which one is committed and it is done the whole day.
"Meditation will not reveal ātmā because the meditator is ātmā."* Talk of transcending the mind by meditation treats anātmā as equally real as ātmā. It is not. No transcendence is needed to recognise waves as water, or clay pots as clay.
If the object of meditation is the truth of the subject (namely, the nature of reality, which is one's own svarūpam or intrinsic nature) meditation is contemplation, nididhyāsanam – otherwise known as nirguṇa-brahma-upāsanam. In nididhyāsanam there is no meditator-meditated difference.
The four hindrances to all forms of meditation are: kaṣāyam, layaḥ, rasāsvādaḥ and vikṣepaḥ.
dhyāyamānaḥ
Carefully thinking over, carefully enquiring into all that is heard from the śāstram. This word encompasses the entire process of śravaṇam, mananam and nididhyāsanam.
dīkṣā
Initiation; consecration; a vow made ceremonially.
dīrgha
Long; two successive hrasva (short) mātrā (measures) of a vowel sound, joined without a gap to make one unbroken sound.
For example, it's the slightly lengthened 'a' sound used when saying 'father' and 'part', or the slightly lengthened 'u' sound used for 'pool' and 'rule'. Note that it's the sound (not the name) of the letter 'a' and 'u' that is meant. See hrasva, short; pluta, lengthened.
divya
Divine; heavenly; not worldly.
doṣaḥ
Limitation (often mistranslated as 'defect'). See pratyavāya-doṣaḥ, vaiṣamya-nairghṛṇya-doṣaḥ, viṣaya-doṣaḥ.
dravyam
An object; substance; material ingredient.
dravya-śaktiḥ
The power of inertia, inherent in māyā. Inertia is the capacity to remain at rest or to continue in uniform motion. "The creation is a movement."* Without that movement and its capacity to come to some measure of rest, nothing could ever be sufficiently perceivable long enough to be knowable. Dravyam refers to that capacity and to its material or perceptible outcome.
When manifest, the power of inertia is known as tamo-guṇaḥ. Tamas in turn manifests as the veiling power known as the āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ. See guṇaḥ, śaktiḥ, jñāna-śaktiḥ and kriyā-śaktiḥ.
dṛḍha
Firm; steady; resolute; persevering; (dṛḍha-niścayaḥ, firm conviction, clear ascertainment).
dṛg-dṛśya-viveka-prakriyā
Method (prakriyā) of discriminative analysis (vivekaḥ) demonstrating the ever-present distinction between the seer (dṛk) and the seen (dṛśyam). The seer is not the seen, even if the seen is the seer.
dṛk
The seer, draṣṭā (knower); the one who sees.
dṛṣṭāntaḥ
An illustration or example – typically used to help communicate the meaning of a proposition, pratijñā. An example is meant to prove a point, not to be exactly like that which it illustrates, for then it wouldn’t be an example, it would be the thing itself.
dṛṣṭa-phalam
A seen result; the immediately manifest result (of an action). See adṛṣṭa-phalam.
dṛṣṭiḥ
Vision; seeing; perception; view. Vedāntaḥ is not a philosophy, it is a vision of reality, meaning it is an understanding of how things actually are – not mere speculation, nor a theory.
dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vādaḥ
The statement or doctrine (vādaḥ) that seeing, perception (dṛṣṭiḥ) is creation (sṛṣṭiḥ) – the world is not only a perception, a vision, but is created by seeing. Perception is creation. There is no creation other than perception. Perception of a thing is its origination. See saṃvṛtiḥ, vādaḥ and nimitta-kāraṇam.
dṛśya-anuviddha-savikalpa-samādhiḥ
A meditation, dhyānam, in which a dṛśyam, an object of knowledge (a thought seen or experienced in the mind) is used, anuviddha, to shift the attention from nāma-rupam, name and form, to be absorbed, samādhiḥ, in that pure consciousness.
On dwelling upon a thought arising in the mind, the fact that it is illumined by consciousness is recognised. When that recognition occurs, the focus shifts from the thought to its substratum, consciousness – like shifting one's attention from an ocean wave to its substratum, water. That shift in focus can lead to samādhiḥ, absorption of the mind in that substratum, which is oneself. See śabda-anuviddha-savikalpa-samādhiḥ and also samādhiḥ, savikalpa-samādhiḥ, nirvikalpa-samādhiḥ and amanībhāvaḥ.
dṛśyam
That which is objectifiable perceptually or inferentially (not merely that which is seen visually); the object of knowledge (distinct from the subject, draṣṭā).
duḥkham
Sorrow; uneasiness; misery; pain; grief; trouble. All sorrow/grief is due to the limitation felt in frustrated or unfulfilled desire. That limitation is due to delusion, avivekaḥ (lack of vivekaḥ) which in turn has its root in avidyā, ignorance of one's true nature. See sukham and śokaḥ.
duḥkha-saṃyoga-viyogam
(Yogaḥ is) dissociation (viyoga) from association (samyoga) with sorrow (duḥkha). Living a life of karma-yogaḥ and, when ready, a life of jñāna-yogaḥ, eventually leads to the clear ascertainment that 'I am the witness of the mind and hence distinct from its thoughts'. As that recognition becomes clearer and clearer, so does dissociation from association with sorrow. Such dissociation is yogaḥ, union with the self rather than the mind. See Gītā 6.23 and also see karma-yogaḥ.
duritam
Sin; synonym of pāpam; result of wrong action translated into the experience of discomfort, difficulty, pain or undesirable situations.
durlabha
Difficult to attain or accomplish; rare.
duṣkṛtam
Bad or evil act; misdeed; see pāpam; adharmaḥ.
duṣṭa-catuṣṭayam
The four (primary) malign influences upon – and hindrances to – liberation: ahaṅkāraḥ, ego; mamakāraḥ, my-ness; rāgaḥ, attachment; dveṣaḥ, aversion.
dvaitam
Duality. The duality of action and experience is natural and not a problem; taking it to be real (when in fact it is mithyā) is a problem because taking it to be real causes saṁsāraḥ. See advaita.
dvaita-prapañcasyopaśame
Sublation or alleviation (upaśame) of the world (prapañca) of duality (dvaitam). The world of duality (the ordinary world of opposites, such as hot and cold, seer and seen) is mithyā and is sublated by knowledge of satyam, its adhiṣṭhānam (its non-dual basis or substratum).
Such sublation in the waking state does not mean the world disappears, but the error of thinking that the world and its characteristics are absolutely real goes. Alleviation of all sorrows naturally follows from knowledge of satyam.
dvandvam
Pair of opposites (of experience) for example, pleasure and pain, hot and cold, like and dislike, honour and dishonour, comfort and discomfort, success and failure. See titikṣā.
dvayam
A set of any two.
dveṣaḥ
Aversion; dislike; hatred. Attachment means an aversion to loss, revealing an emotional dependence. See rāgaḥ, vairāgyam, kleśaḥ.
dvijaḥ
Twice-born; a mature person; an ethical person; see upanayanam.
eka
One; undivided; continuous.
ekādaśī
Eleventh day of the lunar fortnight, namely the eleventh day after either the new or full Moon.
ekadeśī
A person unaligned with any school of thought, who, on his question being answered, asks no more and goes.
ekāgraḥ
One-pointed – referring to a focused state of attention. Only a sufficiently subtle buddhiḥ, one that is not obsessed with the external world (and so is not consistently in the grip of vikṣepaḥ) is capable of distinguishing the intrinsic awareness that is oneself from the myriad thoughts that arise in that awareness and which attract and occupy attention. Only such a disciplined, one-pointed intellect properly appreciates that the never-absent ātmā is the substratum of those thoughts, just as water is of the ocean wave.
ekāgrata
One-pointedness (of the mind); concentration; intentness in the pursuit of a given object.
ekam eva advitīyam
'One alone without a second' (Chā. 6.2.1) – (there is) emphatically one, indeed, with no second entity at all, meaning there is nothing here but īśvaraḥ, the Lord, nothing here but pure consciousness.
ekarasam
(Being of) one essence (devoid of both substance and attribute); absolute purity; happiness not bound by time or degree. Ekarasam is a term declaring that ātmā (pure existence, pure consciousness, absolute happiness) is not a substance, nor does it have any attributes. All else, all that is manifest or unmanifest, is a duality of a single or complex substance that has one or more attributes. Such duality is only in the field of anātmā, all that is not the self. The word ekarasam therefore reveals the uniqueness of the self, pure consciousness, showing that it is not a part or aspect of the creation.
ekātma-pratyaya-sāram
This famous phrase in Māṇḍūkya-Upaniṣad, verse 7, indicates how to understand turīyam. Pratyayaḥ means thought, cognition, but here it means thought in the sense of 'thinking of, dwelling on'. How long? Eka, continuously. Continuously, solely, on what? On oneself, ātmā (which is turīyam). This continuous self-awareness is the sāram, indicator or pointer to understanding turīyam, one's real nature.
This means that when, for example, I speak of myself as one who knows the states of waking, dream and deep sleep, I am necessarily speaking from the standpoint of turīyam, perhaps unknowingly. I am speaking from the standpoint of being their common, ever-present, single substratum. This understanding or recognition of the essence or substance of all three being one-and-the-same is called pratyabhijñā. To consciously (non-verbally) acknowledge this fact, again and again, is to knowingly take my stand in turīyam. In this way I knowingly emphasise, knowingly remind the mind, that I, abstract, formless consciousness (the very substance of 'I') am ever distinct from ahaṅkāraḥ and the three states of mind (waking, dream and deep sleep). Such a practice, such a nididhyāsanam, is a pointer to understanding and taking ownership of my svarūpam, my real nature.
eṣaṇa-trayam
The three common, strong, human desires:
putraiṣaṇā - desire for a son, putraḥ
vittaiṣaṇā - desire for wealth, vittam
lokaiṣaṇā - desire for higher worlds, lokāh
(eṣaṇā, ardent desire, passion; also see icchā, kāmaḥ)
gagana-ravindam
Sky-lotus; a poetic term for a (literally) incredible object to show astonishment at its apparent reality; a synonym for the world. (gaganam, sky, firmament, heaven)
gaṇapatiḥ
Lord Gaṇeśaḥ (son of Lord Śivaḥ and Pārvatī); lord of multitudes, of groups of beings and of laws; remover of obstacles, therefore always invoked first before beginning any ceremony or significant event.
gandhaḥ
The sense-object (viṣayaḥ), subtle or gross, perceptible through the nose and mind and known as smell, scent or odour – the exclusive quality of earth.
gandharvaḥ
Demigod; celestial musician.
gandha-tanmātram
Subtle principle or root-element of odour.
gaṅgā
Sacred river Ganges; its sacredness is due to its being the symbol of the eternal flow of Vedic (vaidika) wisdom.
gatiḥ
Means; aim; destination; path (the means, the road, by which one reaches the destination, and the actual destination or end achieved). The recently deceased are typically wished a "good gatiḥ" in the hope that, on their journey, hell is avoided and a propitious future life is found.
Śukla gatiḥ, the bright or solar path (also known as the uttara mārgaḥ, northern path) takes those with great puṇyam to brahma-lokaḥ after death, from which there is no return. Kṛṣṇa gatiḥ, the dark or lunar path (also known as the dakṣiṇa mārgaḥ, southern path) takes those with lesser puṇyam to a lokaḥ higher than bhū-lokaḥ after death, from which they eventually return.
gati-samānya-nyāyaḥ
An axiom referring to the fact that all four Vedas have the same aim, mokṣaḥ'gati' here means end or aim. Ādi-Śaṅkaraḥ is said to have chosen to write commentaries on Upaniṣads selected from all four Vedas to demonstrate this fact. See nyāyaḥ.
gauṇa-vṛttiḥ
A figurative expression indicating attributes. The Upaniṣads make use of this mode of speech, in that their 'acceptance' of duality is only ever gaunam, provisional or figurative. It's at best temporary and is a stepping stone to advaitam, non-duality. See mukhyārthaḥ and vācyārthaḥ.
gāyatrī
Name of a particular metre of 24 syllables, variously arranged, but generally as a triplet of eight syllables each; name of any hymn composed in the gāyatrī metre. See anuṣṭup, triṣṭup.
gāyatrī-mantraḥ
A famous sāvitrī-mantraḥ invoking the Lord in the form of the Sun. This sacred mantraḥ is said to be all four Vedas in condensed form. Chanted 108 times, thrice daily, during sandhyāvandanam, it burnishes the buddhiḥ and so it is given to young people to aid intellectual as well as spiritual development.
Three well-known vyāhṛtis (bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ, svaḥ) are said to be its essence, and they respectively have their origin in the sounds 'a', 'u' and 'm' of the sacred syllable Oṃ.
ghaṭaḥ
Pot (a clay pot is an oft-used teaching device). Vedāntaḥ questions the reality of 'pot', 'pot' being merely a name and form whose weight and substance is clay – remove the clay and there is no pot.
"'Pot' is that which has pot-ness and pot-ness is only in understanding. That understanding of pot-ness is the only reality about 'pot'."*
ghaṭākāśaḥ
Space seemingly bounded by (apparently contained within) a pot. Pot-space is merely notional, having no independent existence.
gītā
Song; gīta, sung. See bhagavad-gītā.
go
A cow; earth; knowledge. The cow represents all four Vedas.
golakam
A living, functional, physical organ of perception or action that is a medium of manifestation for its respective subtle sense-power or motor-power, for example, the physical eye, ear, hand, foot; see indriyam.
govindaḥ
He who is attained only through knowledge; a name of Lord Kṛṣṇaḥ.
grahaḥ
Planet; grip; grasp.
grahaṇam
Grasping; acquiring; comprehending; recognising; eclipse; that which is grasped or understood – which might be the vivakṣā, the meaning a speaker/writer intended to convey, or it might be quite different.
grāhya
Admissible; fit to be received, picked up, gathered, taken, observed; sense-object.
granthaḥ
Book; treatise; text. See mūla-granthaḥ.
gṛhasthaḥ
Householder; second of the four āśramas of Vedic (vaidika) life – a married householder whose primary purpose is to mature emotionally by living a life of dharmaḥ in preparation for mokṣaḥ, and secondly to help perpetuate dharmaḥ by showing his/her children how to follow it. See brahmacaryam, studentship; vānaprasthaḥ, withdrawal; sannyāsaḥ, renunciation.
guhā
Cave (of mind); often used in the scriptures as an epithet for buddhiḥ in which is to be discovered the truth of the self and the world. The far end of the cave, the back or dead end of the cave where all further movement comes to an end, symbolises the very root of the mind, the 'I'-thought, aham (the foundation of ahaṅkāraḥ) whose formless, limitless substratum or essence is reality itself.
guhya
Secret; mysterious.
guṇaḥ
A component power of māyā – there are three, namely sattvam (sattva), rajaḥ (rajas), tamaḥ (tamas). They are, respectively, the names for the jñāna-śaktiḥ, the power of knowing, the kriyā-śaktiḥ, the power of activity, and the dravya-śaktiḥ, the power of inertia. Each guṇaḥ seemingly causes dependence and hence appears to bind the individual, the dehī. This is because a person may, due to lack of discrimination, take the manifest effects of the guṇas personally.
No guṇaḥ ever exists independently of the other two. All three are present in differing degrees in each of the pañca-bhūtas, five elements, and hence in all that arise from them. The word guṇaḥ is also used to indicate 'property, quality', and also has the meaning 'snake' (a symbol of power).
guṇātīta
Free from, distinct from all three guṇas.
guruḥ
Darkness (gu) dispeller (ru) (dispeller of ignorance of one's true nature by giving the vision of reality); a śrotriyaḥ and a brahma-niṣṭhā; a preceptor; an ācāryaḥ of ātma-vidyā. The guruḥ has to be discovered in the ācāryaḥ, teacher. A guruḥ is an ācāryaḥ, but not every ācāryaḥ is a guruḥ as although an ācāryaḥ may communicate well what the śāstram says, he or she might not communicate its transformative vision well enough to dispel the ignorance of it, either through his/her own inability or through the lack of preparation of the hearer.
A true guruḥ, while properly unfolding and interpreting the liberating words of the Upaniṣads – dispelling the student's ignorance of himself, the world and God – carefully avoids creating even the slightest emotional dependence in students.
The Upaniṣads themselves declare that, due to its subtlety, the enquiry into the nature of reality should be done only with the help of a guruḥ who knows the sampradāyaḥ. This is not only because only the knowledge enshrined in the śāstram liberates, but to understand properly even one verse of the Upaniṣads one needs to understand the whole of the Upaniṣads. Hence, one requires a teacher who has him or herself been taught by a sampradāyavit (a knower of the sampradāyaḥ).
In addition, due to the mind's unquestioned assumptions and misconceptions, and its tendency to interpret whatever it meets only in terms of what it presently knows, it needs to be shown more than it knows, which necessitates a teacher. In particular, the questioner takes for granted the idea that he himself is a limited being. The questioner is never questioned. Additionally, the guruḥ must constantly check and counter the aspirant's strongly habitual orientation that regards the self as an 'object' to be 'realised' rather than as a fact that is misperceived. "The human intellect is good enough to commit a mistake about the self, but it is not good enough to know what the self is."* See śiṣyaḥ, guru-śiṣya-paramparā, sampradāyaḥ, paramparā, āgamaḥ.
gurukṛpā
Guru's grace or blessings. Such grace is the grace of the knowledge enshrined in the śāstram. One may talk of the grace of the śāstram, the grace of the guruḥ, and the grace of the self within the disciple or aspirant – but there is really only the grace of the (flawless) śāstram. When the guruḥ, fully enlightened by the śāstram, teaches it properly to the disciple, resolving misunderstandings, the disciple's understanding of the śāstram becomes not different from that of the guruḥ. The enlightenment of the disciple is thus provided by the śāstram alone. If an aspirant ignores this and attempts to be guided by his own lights – studying the śāstram on his own, in his own way – true knowledge or clear vision will be impossible. See kṛpā, śāstra-kṛpā, ātmā-kṛpā and anugrahaḥ.
gurukulam
A residential school where students stay with the teacher, living as a community, kulam, enjoying both the care and discipline of community life while systematically studying the Vedaḥ and/or traditional Vedāntaḥ in the traditional way. A gurukulam is an āśramaḥ, but not every āśramaḥ is a gurukulam.
guru-śiṣya-paramparā
Guru-disciple lineage in which knowledge is passed successively over time immemorial. See paramparā, sampradāyaḥ, guruḥ, śiṣyaḥ.
guru-upasādanam
Formal, respectful approach to a guruḥ by an individual sincerely requesting to be accepted as a śiṣyaḥ, disciple, in order to be taught the means to mokṣaḥ.
The teaching can only be given on request (there is no question of proselytising). It is also by no means certain that the guruḥ will accept the person as a disciple: an aspirant needs to be suitably qualified (see sādhana-catuṣṭayam) to deserve such a commitment from the guruḥ. The qualifications are acquired through living a life of karma-yogaḥ. See śiṣya-svīkāraḥ and praṇipātaḥ.
hal
A consonant, vyañjanam, without any vowel, svaraḥ. The term derives from the māheśvarāṇi-sūtrāṇi of Pāṇiniḥ wherein hal encompasses, and thus becomes the name for, any and all consonants.
harṣaḥ
Elation; joy; delight; pleasure.
haviḥ
Offering; oblation.
hetuḥ
Cause; motive; reason; means. Its corresponding effect is referred to by the word phalam, fruit, result.
hīna
Devoid of; deficient in; left out; omitted; incomplete; lost or strayed from; abandoned; faulty.
hiraṇyagarbhaḥ
Subtle body of īśvaraḥ functioning as the entire subtle universe; the samaṣṭiḥ of all subtle phenomena and subtle bodies; cosmic or universal mind; karma-phala-dātā; omnipotent and omniscient, he is the first and highest created being (known universally through the sense of 'I', aham) through whom īśvaraḥ manifests the subtle aspect of the universe.
Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, is the totality of all intellects, mind and prāṇaḥ and so is known by three epithets: Mahat-tattvam, the totality of all intellects, Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, the totality of all minds, manaḥ, and as Sūtrātmā, the totality of all prāṇaḥ. These are respectively the cause and support for all vyaṣtiḥ (individual) vijñānamaya-kośas, manomaya-kośas and prāṇamaya-kośas just as an ocean is the cause and support for all of its waves.
Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ is also known as Brahmā, the one in whom exists knowledge of the entire cosmos along with the jñāna-śaktiḥ, the capacity to know without limit; the kriyā-śaktiḥ, the capacity to create, sustain and dissolve the world; and the icchā-śaktiḥ, the capacity to desire or will. Its individual or vyaṣṭiḥ aspect is taijasaḥ in whom these capacities are limited. Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ is also known as kāryambrahma as it is the first stage in the emergence of the cosmos from its cause, kāraṇambrahma (antaryāmīśvaraḥ). Kāryambrahma is also the name for the entire gross world since both the subtle and gross worlds are effects or manifestations, kāryams, of brahman.
Since the mind and other subtle phenomena are manifesting media for consciousness, hiraṇyam (gold) symbolises effulgence (and hence consciousness); garbhaḥ (foetus) symbolises 'inside of'. Hence, hiraṇyagarbhaḥ means 'the one in whom consciousness shines from within' – it does not mean 'golden egg'!
hotram
Sacrifice; oblation with fire.
hrasva
Short; one short mātrā (measure) of a vowel sound; a short measure of a vowel is the time taken to make the 'i' sound in 'it', or the 'u' sound in 'pull'. See dīrgha, long; pluta, lengthened.
hṛdaya-granthiḥ
The knot, granthiḥ, of the heart, hṛdayam. The three-stranded knot of the mind or heart consists of avidyā, kāmaḥ and karma. Avidyā leads to a false understanding of oneself and the world, in which I seem limited and lacking. Desire, kāmaḥ, and action, karma, attempt to compensate. Such error-based action ties the individual jīvaḥ to saṁsāraḥ. The knot is cut for good only on properly and fully ascertaining, during the waking state, that I am not the mithyā and limited body-mind and world but their unchanging witness.
hrīm
A mantraḥ meaning: "I invoke the power in īśvaraḥ". Since this śakti, this power, can create or destroy, one wants a power that is a blessing, and so śrīm is added to hrīm, thus oṃ hrīṃ śrīm. Śrīm is the Lord's blessing power, Lakṣmī, 'all that is good'.
icchā
Desire; wish; inclination; see eṣaṇā, kāmaḥ.
icchā-śaktiḥ
Power to desire or will; an aspect of vikṣepa-śaktiḥ – also see jñāna-śaktiḥ, kriyā-śaktiḥ, dravya-śaktiḥ and śaktiḥ.
indraḥ
Lord of the senses; chief of the celestials; ruler of Heaven.
indriya-artheṣu-vairāgyam
Dispassion towards sense-objects.
Why does there need to be dispassion? The first response of the mind and senses to the world is often emotional: whatever is met is met with rāga-dveṣaḥ, a degree of like or dislike (a pleased or displeased form of desire). All desire emerges from emotion – all emotions are positive or negative forms of love. Being expressions of love, such mental and sensory responses need to be handled carefully by the person or they will rule him or her. When ruled by emotion, by passion, I am unavailable for vicāraḥ, meaningful enquiry.
indriya-jñānam
Sense perception; sensory knowledge.
indriyam
Subtle power of an organ of perception or action. For example, a jñānendriyam is an inner (subtle) organ of knowledge, namely a sense power such as seeing, hearing; a karmendriyam is an inner (subtle) organ of action, a motor power such as talking, handling.
It must be emphasised that each indriyam is the individual (vyaṣṭiḥ) power to see, the power to talk, etc. (dependent on the respective universal (samaṣṭiḥ) devatā and on prāṇaḥ). Each power is not to be equated with its seat, the physical organ (golakam) such as the eye, hand, or foot. See jñānendriyāṇi, the five subtle organs of knowledge; karmendriyāṇi, the five subtle organs of action. Also see atīndriya.
indriya-nigrahaḥ
Restraint of the senses from going out incautiously or ill-advisedly to external objects (and especially not living under the dominion of sensory appetite). Such restraint is an essential aspect of all spiritual discipline and of sāmānya-dharmaḥ. Without it mokṣaḥ is far away.
iṣṭam
Desired; beloved; worshipped.
iṣṭa-devatā
Favourite or tutelary (protective) deity; a personal form of God, worshipped by the immaturest form of devotee. See viśvarūpaḥ and brahman.
iṣṭa-karma
Prayer, worship or religious ritual, all of which produce puṇyam. Iṣṭa-karma includes recitation of various mantras and stotras (vācikam karma) as prayers, and it also includes meditation (mānasam karma).
īśvara-arpaṇa-buddhiḥ
A mind that is awakened to īśvaraḥ surrenders all actions to īśvaraḥ. The person recognises that he/she is in situations he did not knowingly create (all being created by the natural law that manifests prārabdha) that nothing really belongs to him and instead belongs to īśvaraḥ alone. The order governing all situations is dharma, and dharma is the Lord. The order determines whatever is expected of the person in each situation. A karma-yogī acts with an awareness of this fact. See karma-yogaḥ and saṅkalpaḥ.
īśvaraḥ
Saguṇa-Brahma manifest as the entire universe, sṛṣṭiḥ, in all its causal, subtle and gross/physical aspects. A formal definition for īśvaraḥ (īśa - lord, vara - exalted, supreme) would be: māyā-upahita-caitanya-brahma, the pure consciousness that is Brahman, when recognised (or acknowledged) as having the inherent creative power known as māyā, is given the name īśvaraḥ (to distinguish it in its rôle as lord of all).
Similarly, when absolute reality, nirguṇa-brahma (also known as Brahman) is regarded as having the status or attribute of being the creator, sustainer and resolver of the universe it is given the title īśvaraḥ. Thus, īśvaraḥ can be regarded as an upādhiḥ of Brahman. And the jīvaḥ does not exist outside of īśvaraḥ. See antaryāmī, Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, Brahmā, Śivaḥ, Viṣṇuḥ, Vaiśvānaraḥ, Virāṭ, devaḥ.
īśvara-praṇidhānam
Keeping īśvaraḥ always in one's heart. The perspective that that brings helps keep excessive worldly desire in check. īśvara-praṇidhānam is part of niyamaḥ.
īśvara-prasāda-buddhiḥ
Although an individual has the power to initiate action, the results occur only in line with dharmaḥ, the natural, universal law and order that is īśvaraḥ. Due to the individual's limited knowledge and power, the results of action are not his to command. On recognising that īśvaraḥ is the only karma-phala-dātā, the only giver of the fruits of action, results are accepted as prasādaḥ, a gift from īśvaraḥ. This attitude brings samatvam, equanimity, sameness or evenness of mind towards all results in all situations, softening the impact of adverse emotional responses. See karma-yogaḥ.
īśvara-sṛṣṭiḥ
The empirical world; the world made manifest by māyā, the Lord's creative power; the world experienced by the jīvaḥ in the waking state, jāgrad-avasthā, in fulfilment of the prārabdha-karma of each jīvaḥ. See jīva-sṛṣṭiḥ.
iti
Thus; so; accordingly; lays stress on that which precedes it; also marks the end of a quotation, definition, etc.
itihāsaḥ
History; (iti ha āsaḥ, this is how it was) the traditional account of former events describing the life and adventures of a hero or heroes, for example, Lord Rāmaḥ of the Rāmāyaṇam, and the five Pāṇḍavāḥ of the Mahābhāratam. See purāṇam.
jaḍam
Insentient; inert; lifeless; inanimate; absence of knowledge of the existence of oneself; absence of a sūkṣma-śarīram. All objects and phenomena (including the mind) are inert by nature. Any consciousness they exhibit is borrowed from the ātmā.
jagat
Universe – changing continuously, it becomes manifest and unmanifest cyclically. The jagat has only nāma-rūpam (name and form) reality. Its reality is a borrowed, dependent, mithyā reality. It was never born and yet it exists. It is the product of māyā and, being inert, is not responsible for anyone's happiness or unhappiness.
The very existence of an existent object is consciousness. Analysis of any object, a table for example, shows it is wood in the form of 'table'. Wood is similarly fibres, atoms, particles and finally notions in consciousness. Consciousness is not only the very existence of objects, the form that existence takes is a degree of manifestation of the pure, unqualified knowledge that is consciousness.
Therefore, we can say the world of material things that enjoys its existence in the light of awareness is mithyā, because, having its foundation in consciousness, it has no independent existence at all. We can further say on negating the universe as mithyā – using bādhāyāṁ sāmānādhikaraṇyam – that I, consciousness itself, am the whole. This means, matter is consciousness. Appreciating this, I cannot then say awareness is of something other than myself.
jagat-brahma-aikyam
Oneness of jagat and Brahman. Having understood that the jīvaḥ and Brahman, being essentially one-and-the-same pure consciousness, are not different (jīva-brahma-aikyam) it is then necessary to account for the jagat. That too is also non-different from Brahman, but that fact is less easy to discern as mundane objects (such as pots and utensils, chairs and tables) show no sign of being conscious.
However, it is undeniable that such objects exist. Vedāntaḥ points out that their very existence is not an attribute but is the existence of consciousness, which in the absence of a suitable means to manifest more noticeably (a subtle body) does so as their very existence, just as the material objects in a dream exist as manifestations of the waker's dreaming mind. See jīva-brahma-aikyam.
jagat-kāraṇam
Cause of manifestation of the cosmos. īśvaraḥ, with his śaktiḥ (known as māyā) is the means of manifestation of the cosmos, but the cause is the ripening prārabdha-karma of (innumerable) jīvas. It is a ripening that lawfully demands expression and, being lawful, it must happen. The cause is not some capricious whim or desire of īśvaraḥ but the natural and inevitable consequence of the law of karma.
jāgrad avasthā
Jāgrad, waking, avasthā, state (of experience) characterised by both non-apprehension (agrahanam) and misapprehension (anyathāgrahanam) of reality, in which the gross world of physical objects, the īśvara-sṛṣṭiḥ, seemingly created by īśvaraḥ in fulfilment of the karma of the jīvaḥ, is experienced in the mind via the senses (also created by the dharmaḥ of īśvaraḥ).
The waking state is no more real than the dream state, even though each state seems real while in it (both involve object perception, so both are mithyā). Compared to the dream state, the waking state appears to be objectively real, having a transactional, empirical reality, a vyāvahārika satyam. Yet all that is experienced are personal misapprehensions of transient external objects and events.
Both the waker and dreamer experience only vṛttis, thoughts. The waker's experiences are in the form of perceptions of external objects, whereas the dreamer's experiences have an entirely subjective reality, a prātibhāsika satyam, that is in thought-forms only, unassociated with any objects, whether external or internal.
Day-dreaming is a turning of the mind inwards towards its own memories, vāsanās, and there is no separation from the waking-state experience. However, this process reveals the presence of taijasaḥ in the waking state. Similarly, prājñaḥ is known in the waking state during moments of mental silence.
Mokṣaḥ is not mokṣaḥ unless known in the waking state – for knowledge of non-duality to be proper it needs to be known in the midst of duality, where all that is mithyā is recognised to be mithyā and satyam as satyam.
Free-will and doership exist only in the waking state, not in dream or in deep sleep. Enjoyership exists in both waking and dream, but not in deep sleep. See viśvaḥ, the knower of the waking state; also see svapna-avasthā, dream state; suṣupti-avasthā, deep-sleep state; avasthā-trayam, the three states of experience; turīya, 'fourth'.
jahad-ajahal-lakṣaṇā
A type of defining statement (also known as jahatī-ajahatī-lakṣaṇā) in which the non-contradictory part is retained, but the apparently contradictory part is left aside. For example, in "This is that Devadatta" (seen elsewhere, long ago) the contradictory associations regarding time and place are left aside, but the non-contradictory part – the person called Devadatta – is retained. Similarly, in tattvamasi (you are That) the contradictory factors of remoteness and immediacy, omniscience and partial knowledge, etc., respectively associated with That (īśvaraḥ) and 'you' (a jīvaḥ) are given up and pure consciousness – which, being intrinsic to both, is the direct meaning of the sentence – is retained. Thus, jahadajahallakṣaṇā (also known as bhāga-tyāga-lakṣaṇā) is shown to be suitable for elucidating tattvamasi. See jahallakṣaṇā, ajahallakṣaṇā and also lakṣaṇam.
jahal-lakṣaṇā
A type of defining statement (also known as jahatī-lakṣaṇā) in which meaning is conveyed by completely leaving aside the literal meaning in favour of the implied meaning. In, for example, 'the village on the river', the village is not literally afloat on the river, but is on its bank. Leaving aside the literal meaning and using only the implied meaning (on the bank) renders jahallakṣaṇā unsuitable for elucidating tat-tvam-asi as without the literal meaning, a contrast can no longer be drawn with the implied meaning of identicalness of essential nature. See ajahallakṣaṇā, jahadajahallakṣaṇā and also lakṣaṇam.
jalpa-vādaḥ
A discussion in which both sides are convinced they are right and are only interested in being right. Neither gives up his stand in spite of all evidence to the contrary, which means neither fanatic has any regard for the truth and neither can be reasoned with. The purpose in jalpaḥ is only to convert the other party to your beliefs, which is typical of a missionary and a cult. Also see samvādaḥ, vādaḥ, vitaṇḍa-vādaḥ.
jananam
Production; manifestation; birth; life; coming into existence.
janma(n)
Birth; embodiment; the four sources of birth are:
aṇḍaja - egg-born (birds, reptiles, etc.)
jarāyuja - womb-born (humans, mammals)
svedaja - moisture-born (lice, mosquitos, etc.)
udbhijja - seed-born (plants, vegetation)
On this Earth, there are 8,400,000 species of living being and hence 8.4 million types of birth for a jīvaḥ. By that measure of 1: 8.4 million, birth in human form is rare. The birth each jivaḥ has to take is due to the law of karma and results solely from action done when in human form, leading to long periods in various non-human forms for some.
jantuḥ
A living being; a creature.
japaḥ
Repeated utterance (of a single mantraḥ). Japaḥ is repetition of a vṛttiḥ, a thought, a mantraḥ. The meaning of the mantraḥ should already be understood prior to japaḥ (japaḥ implies the meaning is already in mind) then, although the meaning is not and cannot be dwelt upon during japaḥ, it is as good as kept in mind by its repetition as a vṛttiḥ in the form of a mantraḥ. Whether japaḥ is oral or mental, it is ever repetition of a vṛttiḥ, a single meaningful vṛttiḥ. See abhyāsaḥ.
Even if the meaning is not understood, the mantraḥ has some effect because it stands for what it is, the sounds contain some meaning. At the very least, repetition of a mantraḥ causes dwelling upon the divine rather than the secular.
Japaḥ may be loud, barely audible or silent – the latter being the most powerful as, being mental, focus is better. By making the mind deliberately dwell again and again on one thought, japaḥ trains it to focus, breaking the undisciplined mental drift of chain thinking in which a connected thought succeeds the previous one and the mind wanders away. More than that, in japaḥ the mind is refined by dwelling on that which is true, thus neutralising unhelpful tendencies through their neglect (neglected, they fade away). It is this process of refinement and neutralisation that makes japaḥ compulsory for all aspirants.
Daily japaḥ is soon found to be a form of prayer addressed to the Lord – naturally bringing the grace of the Lord in the form of puṇyam – and with it an inner mental space in which one gains an awareness of the ways of the mind and of oneself being distinct from the mind. "Being just myself, I recognise the fact that I can be comfortable just being myself."*. See stavaḥ.
jarā
Old age; infirmity; decay.
jātiḥ
Species; family; clan; birth.
jihāsā-vairāgyam
False, temporary dispassion (also known as śmaśāna-vairāgyam, cremation-ground dispassion); a short-lived desire to renounce all, resulting from disenchantment, despair, frustration, pain, and so on, such as may be felt with bereavement. See vairāgyam.
jijñāsā
Desire/thirst for knowledge. The beginner student seeks to know his true self, the ātmā. For the more mature aspirant, the thirst for knowledge becomes a thirst to properly understand and recognise the fact that mokṣaḥ is ever-accomplished, and that pursuit of the already attained is a misplaced effort. The 'gaining' of knowledge is rather the correction of flawed knowledge, meaning the removal of ignorance.
jijñāsuḥ
A person desirous of knowledge.
jitendriyaḥ
Someone who has conquered or who has mastery over the indriyāṇi, senses.
jīva-brahma-aikyam
Oneness of jīvaḥ and Brahman. Cognitively putting aside all that is mithyā about the jīvaḥ and thereby highlighting its essence, pure consciousness, it is relatively easy to acknowledge that that essence is not (and cannot be) different from the pure consciousness that is Brahman, but it is less easy to have and enjoy that understanding at all times. See jagat-brahma-aikyam.
jīvaḥ
An individual whose sense of 'I' is in the body-mind-sense complex. He or she, therefore, mistakenly has kartṛtvam (doership) and bhoktṛtvam (enjoyership). A formal definition is: ajñāna-upahita-caitanyam [a jīvaḥ is] pure consciousness in association with or limited by vyaṣṭi-ajñānam, individual ignorance.
The essence and substratum of the jīvaḥ is ātmā, just as water is the essence and substratum of the ocean wave, and just as clay is of the clay pot. The jīvaḥ does not exist outside of īśvaraḥ, the whole. (īśvaraḥ includes all jīvas.) All that is here is īśvaraḥ.
jīvan-muktaḥ
One liberated from apparent individuality (from 'jīva-hood'); free while living; unattached; of the nature of existence, consciousness, fullness; the indweller of all beings, in the form of all-pervasive consciousness. This freedom is known through śravaṇam, clarified through mananam and confirmed through nididhyāsanam.
Knowledge of being free is clear and unshakeable for the jīvan-muktaḥ, with happiness and peace that are continuous and which cannot be overshadowed. Although the world continues to be experienced, it causes no disturbance as it is known to be mithyā.
Knowing that ahaṅkāraḥ and mamakāraḥ are ātmā alone, both remain merely notional and are used only for transacting with the world. Having no guilt or regrets about the past, nor anxieties about the future, the present is met with dispassion while ever remaining even-minded. There is complete freedom from becoming, and hence from saṁsāraḥ.
jīvan-muktiḥ
Liberation while living; immediate liberation while alive in this present life due to a perspective change in understanding. Such a perspective change has an immediate result, hence the term sadya-muktiḥ (sadya - now, in the present). Also see videha-muktiḥ.
There are three necessities for jīvan-muktiḥ. All three need to be present for freedom to be truly found.
tattva-jñānam - knowledge of reality.
vāsanākṣaya - (sufficient) neutralisation of the deep-seated predispositions that perpetuate saṁsāraḥ.
mano-nāśaḥ - elimination of the mind's undue influence.
jīva-sṛṣṭiḥ
The jīva's (subjective) creation. The jīvaḥ responds (in the waking state, jāgrad-avasthā) to the world it meets (the īśvara-sṛṣṭiḥ). Using his will, the jīvaḥ projects and superimposes his own subjective creation, the jīva-sṛṣṭiḥ, upon the īśvara-sṛṣṭiḥ. "This is my response to the world." That response is individually expressed in various mental or physical forms of activity and is collectively expressed in the built environment, in human culture, in societal norms, etc. – all of which help perpetuate saṁsāraḥ. See prātibhāsika-satyam.
jīvātmā
Consciousness reflected (cidābhāsaḥ) in the subtle and causal bodies (respectively, sūkṣma-śarīram and kāraṇa-śarīram) constitutes the jīvātmā. Associated with the gross body, sthūla-śarīram, and seemingly limited by that association, the jīvātmā in a human being becomes a knower, jñātā, doer, kartā, and enjoyer, bhoktā – in non-human bodies there is only enjoyership, bhoktṛtvam. On association of the jīvātmā with a human physical or gross body, free-will (which is otherwise dormant) becomes activated due to the quality of the human buddhiḥ. (The term paramātmā is used to refer to pure consciousness, which is ever unassociated with individuality.)
jīvatvam
Individuality; the state or condition of being a jīvaḥ. Hence, individuality is 'jīva-hood' or 'jīva-ness'. Liberation (mokṣaḥ) is liberation from jīvatvam, from the condition of being a jīvaḥ. In that liberation, namely in properly understanding that one's true nature is pure consciousness alone, there is a recognition that I was never really a jīvaḥ (only seemingly so, due to ignorance) and I have ever been brahman. (On awaking from a dream, one recognises that one was never really that dream person, even though one definitely seemed to be so during the dream.) Brahma satyaṃ jagan mithyā jīvobrahmaiva nāparaḥ - Brahman alone is real, the universe is mithyā, the jīva and brahman are not different.
jñāna-abhyāsaḥ
Involving oneself in jñāna-yogaḥ, namely in śravaṇam, mananam and nididhyāsanam.
jñāna-adhyāsaḥ
An accurate perception that is factually incorrect, for example, the Sun is (accurately) seen to rise and set, but in fact the Sun's 'movement' is the Earth turning on its axis. It is because of jñāna-adhyāsaḥ that the jīvanmuktiḥ continues to experience and interact with the world while knowing it to be only seemingly real. See sopādhika-adhyāsaḥ.
jñāna-kāṇḍaḥ
Upaniṣads – that (latter) part of each Vedaḥ (the part known as Vedāntaḥ) that deals with spirituality or self-knowledge. See karma-kāṇḍaḥ.
jñāna-karma samuccaya-vādaḥ
The contention (vādaḥ) that a combination (samuccaya) of knowledge (jñānam) and action (karma) leads to moksaḥ. Some think that knowledge, ātmavidyā, needs to be combined with action to attain liberation; in other words, learn the theory then put it into practice. That is not true. Since avidyā, ignorance, is the cause of bondage, knowledge alone is required to remove ignorance and the bondage it causes. Action, a product of ignorance, need not, cannot, be combined with knowledge to remove ignorance.
Jñānam is opposed to karma because where there is jñānam there cannot be kartṛtvam, the sense that “I am a doer”. To have doership one must have identity with anātma, for which one must be ignorant (yet, in liberation, action – free from identification with doing – can still occur). See vādaḥ.
jñānam
Knowledge that is not negatable and is free from doubt; nature of reality; reality, which is of the nature of knowing, is jñānam; synonym of consciousness, awareness; jānāti iti jñānam, that which knows is knowledge (reality is so described to emphasise its attributelessness).
The light of jñānam, of knowledge, has a two-fold function: in removing the darkness of ignorance it reveals whatever was covered by that ignorance, and in so doing dismisses any adhyāsaḥ, any misconception about the object or situation. Knowledge ever exists and is only discovered, never created.
jñāna-mārgaḥ
The path (mārgaḥ) of knowledge (jñānam); the knowledge that leads to (and is) moksaḥ. (Jñāna-mārgaḥ is a synonym of jñāna-yogaḥ). See karma-yogaḥ.
jñāna-niṣṭhā
Steadiness in the knowledge (of being Brahman); knowledge free from obstructions; abidance in the knowledge that is limitless wholeness.
"This knowledge does not take place by merely doing śravanam, etc. For complete absorption of this knowledge, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the mind has to develop sufficient vairagyam in terms of understanding that dependence on external factors such as body/mind and the world can never be the ultimate solution to worldly problems. One has to move away intellectually from the idea ‘I am the body/mind’ to ‘I am akartā-abhoktā-ātmā'. Abiding in this truth, deep within the mind, at all times, is jñāna-niṣṭhā. Recognition of the fact that you are all-pervading consciousness, which is available within you, should be dominant at all times. The thought that I am always Brahman should rest in the mind unwaveringly and without any hesitation."
Swami Paramarthananda
jñāna-śaktiḥ
The power to think, explore, know and remember. It is inherent in māyā. When manifest, the power is known as sattva-guṇaḥ. It is also inherent in vikṣepa-śaktiḥ. See śaktiḥ, icchā-śaktiḥ, kriyā-śaktiḥ, dravya-śaktiḥ, and also sattvam and guṇaḥ.
jñāna-yajñaḥ
Sacred act of dissemination of knowledge via teaching; sādhanam in praise of (and for the attainment of) knowledge, conceived of as an offering or divine sacrifice. Regular, systematic teaching of the student by the teacher or guruḥ is the primary means of transmitting the knowledge that is Vedāntaḥ.
jñāna-yogaḥ
The discipline for the attainment of knowledge; the path of knowledge. It consists of:-
śravanam – removes saṁśayaḥ
mananam – removes asambhavaḥ
nididhyāsanam – removes viparīta-bhāvanā
Jñāna-yogaḥ is a life devoted to ātmā-jñānam, knowledge of the self, and is a synonym for the sannyāsaḥ life-style.
Although jñāna-yogaḥ is the true solution for sorrow, that fact remains undiscovered as long as the world is assumed to be the source of happiness. Vairāgyam, dispassion, is essential for the successful pursuit of jñāna-yogaḥ. Karma-yogaḥ is introduced as a means to come to jñāna-yogaḥ.
jñānendriyāṇi
The five subtle sense-powers, evident in:
• hearing - śrotram (ear)
• touch - tvak (skin)
• sight - cakṣuḥ (eye)
• taste - rasanā (tongue)
• smell - ghrāṇam (nose)
Part of sūkṣma-śarīram and vijñāṇamaya-kośaḥ. Jñānendriyam refers to an individual's subtle power of sense perception (such as the power or capacity to see) not to its physical medium or location. The power's physical location (golakam) is shown in the above list, in for example the eyes. Therefore, the word for the respective golakam not only refers to the physical organ, it also implies the indriyam, the conscious power pervading it – this is the same with all powers of perception and action. See indriyam, the subtle power of an organ of perception or action; also see karmendriyāṇi, the five subtle organs of action.
jñānī
Knower (of Brahman, of absolute reality); one who is free from saṁsāraḥ
"Pot is a word given to a form of clay for transaction. Once I understand this, in my vision the substance called pot does not exist. The word ‘pot’ alone exists. For a Vedānta jñānī, the world is nothing but a word, the substance called world does not exist. The only existing thing is turīyaṃ and everything else is name and form. I am that turīyaṃ. This is the teaching." Swami Paramarthananda.
jñaptiḥ
Pure, formless, unalloyed awareness (fem. of jñānam); pure objectless consciousness; pure knowledge; knowledge itself, unrestricted by having a form, unrestricted by being 'knowledge of' or by the identification of being a 'knower of'; the intrinsic nature of the knower in which there is knowing without the status of being 'a knower'. The term 'pure knowledge' is therefore used to distinguish jñaptiḥ from any and all forms of manifest knowledge (from particular or specific knowledge, namely from vṛtti-jñānam).
"Consciousness takes up the rôle of knowing only when the mind joins consciousness. Consciousness by itself [pure consciousness] is not a knower, not an experiencer and cannot do any action. Turīyaṃ is of the nature of pure consciousness. Can consciousness say, ‘I am consciousness'? It cannot do that. Consciousness requires the mind because claiming requires a relevant thought. Claiming, knowing, and experiencing require relevant thoughts and thoughts require a mind. In the presence of mind alone, the process of knowing is possible. Turīyaṃ is the non-knowing consciousness principle ['non-knowing' in the sense that its 'knowing' is not a rôle or functional state]. Consciousness does not require mind to be consciousness, but a mind is required to claim 'I am consciousness'." Swami Paramarthananda, commentary on Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad Kārikā, Kārikā 10.
jñātā
Knower; subject of the verb 'to know' (vijñātṛ has the same meaning).
jñeya
Adjective meaning 'knowable, that which has the characteristic of being knowable, that which is capable of being known or understood'; in some contexts it can also mean 'known' or 'to be known, to be learnt or understood'.
jyotiḥ
Light; the light of consciousness, because of which everything comes to light – a sound comes to light, a form comes to light, a touch comes to light...
jyotiṣam
Science of astronomy and astrology; one of the six auxiliary sciences, Vedāṅgas, of the Vedas – also see śikṣā, chandas, vyākaraṇam, niruktam, kalpaḥ.
kaivalyam
Oneness; freedom; absolute unity; limitless independence; mokṣaḥ; advaitam. The beatitude of limitlessness, fullness and 'aloneness' of being. No 'other' is present – there is no trace of the jagat – and one is fully, joyously, at home, at peace.
kalā
Sixteenth part; small part, aspect or portion of a whole (such as a small division of time); digit of the Moon; facet; fine art; feature.
The praśnopaniṣad (6.4) enumerates 16 kalās, aspects, of the embodied puruṣaḥ, all of which are resolved into their respective universal aspects at videha-muktiḥ, like rivers merging with the ocean. The 16 are: prāṇaḥ, śraddhā, khaṃ, vāyuḥ, jyotiḥ, āpaḥ, pṛthivī, indriyaṃ, manaḥ, annaṃ, vīryaṃ, tapaḥ, mantrāḥ, karma, lokāḥ, nāma.
kālaḥ
Time (antakālaḥ – end time, namely, the time of death). See bhūta-kālaḥ, vartamānakālaḥ, bhaviṣyat-kālaḥ.
kalmaṣaḥ
A mental or emotional impurity, defect or stain born of adharmaḥ. It leads to mental conflicts, which are removed by japaḥ, kīrtanam, pūjā, etc.
kalpaḥ
Day of Brahmā, i.e. 14 manvantaras or 1,000 mahā-yugas (the night is of equal length). A year of Brahmā is 360 days and nights, and his lifespan is 100 years. So the life of Brahmā is 3 x 1014 human years. See caturyugam.
Kalpaḥ also means projection. The universe is not a creation, it is a projection of an unmanifest condition into a manifest condition; it is an appearance, a cyclical appearance. See vikalpaḥ.
In addition, kalpaḥ means rule, resolve, procedure, and hence means the methods or know-how of ritual (including which mantras to use for which ritual) and as such kalpaḥ is the name of one of the six auxiliary sciences, Vedāṅgas, of the Vedas – the other five are śikṣā, chandas, vyākaraṇam, niruktam, jyotiṣaḥ.
kalpanam
Imagining; forming in the imagination; creating in the mind. Kalpanā, concept, idea.
kalpita
Projected; imagined; fabricated; artificial; composed; invented; supposed.
kāmaḥ
Desire; longing; love for; pleasure in; lust. Kāmaḥ, a principal manifest form of ignorance (dispelled only by knowledge) leads to karma, action and its results. See karma.
Frustrated desire leads to krodhaḥ, anger. A desire is a thought, a thought has the status of being a desire only if it has will behind it (impelling it to its fulfilment) and thus is the source of mental or physical action, and of a corresponding mental and/or physical result.
Desire is natural, but desire born of tamas degrades a person and prevents spiritual progress. Gradually converting such desires into rājasika desires (by fulfilling them in line with dharmaḥ) is a step in the right direction. When rājasika desire is fulfilled through puruṣārtha-niścayaḥ it becomes sāttvika desire. Desire formed in sāttva is free of narrow, stultifying motives; it is as good as non-desire and helps to clear the way to freedom. "Removal of desires is neither possible nor necessary. That I desire is not a problem. Desire becomes a problem when I come under its spell."* I come under its spell when I identify with it. So, it binds only when contaminated by ahaṅkāraḥ.
At its core, every desire is a wish to be free from being a wanting person, a person bound by limits, from which one seeks freedom. That desire for freedom from limitation is because everyone's true nature is limitlessness, which is true happiness. Being true, that nature cannot change, even if seemingly covered.
See the six malaḥ, impurities; also see eṣaṇā and icchā.
kāmakāmī
One who desires pleasure; a pleasure-seeker.
kāmya-karma
Any volitional action, karma, in which choice is (naturally) involved and which aims to fulfil a specific desire, kāmaḥ; a choice-based action, often producing a desired result that is binding. Even if a kāmya-karma is performed in line with dharmaḥ it will produce puṇyam, which has to be exhausted one day, thereby perpetuating saṁsāraḥ.
An action is non-binding only when the desire driving it is for antaḥ-karaṇa śuddhiḥ alone. Only then does action become a (preparatory) means for mokṣaḥ.
Also see the four possible results of action: utpattiḥ (utpādyam) production; vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam) modification; āptiḥ (āpyam) attainment; saṁskṛtiḥ (saṁskāryam) refinement.
kāṇḍaḥ
Section; chapter; part; portion.
kāntiḥ
Beauty; loveliness; female beauty; beauty of character; beauty of personality.
kāraḥ
Letter; syllable; word; act; action. As a verb, kāra – 'making', 'doing', 'activity (of)'.
kārakam
Accessory to action; that which is instrumental in bringing about the action denoted by a verb. There are six kārakāṇi (kārakams) present in any and every action, namely:
kartā - agent (performer) of action
karma - object (result or recipient) of action
karaṇam - instrument (means) of action
sampradānam - aim (purpose or beneficiary) of action
apādānam - source (origin or cause) of action
adhikaraṇam - location (place) of action
karaṇam
Instrument (means) of action (includes any means from the most physical to the most subtle).
kāraṇam
Cause of an action or phenomenon (from the most physical to the most subtle cause) – its corresponding effect is referred to by the term kāryam. That effect is inherent in the cause, which means it is a manifestation of what was present but unmanifest in the cause. (However, causation is one of the creations of avidyā.) Also see sthūla, sūkṣma.
kāraṇam brahma
Brahman regarded as the cause of the subtle and gross worlds. Kāraṇam brahma is a synonym for īśvaraḥ. See kāryam brahma and adhyāropa-apavāda-viveka-prakriyā.
kāraṇa-prapañcaḥ
Causal world. See sthūla-prapañcaḥ, sūkṣma-prapañcaḥ and prapañcaḥ.
kāraṇa-śarīram
Causal body of the individual; of the nature of indefinable, beginningless avidyā and impure sattvam; persists even beyond pralayaḥ – except in the case of a jñānī (the end of self-ignorance is the end of the kāraṇa-śarīram). The individual causal body is nothing but māyā operating at an individual level. As such, it is the cause of ignorance of one's true nature and is the seed or undifferentiated cause of the subtle and gross bodies of the individual.
Māyā, the causal body at the cosmic or universal level, is the store of all karma, whereas māyā, operating at the individual causal level, being ignorance, is the root of individual tendencies, prejudices, attitudes, etc., but not the store of individual karma. See sthūla-śarīram, sūkṣma-śarīram and śarīram. Also see suṣupti-avasthā.
kārikā
An analytical study in verse form of a text bringing out its meaning. The most famous and revered kārikā is that of Śrī Gauḍapādācāryaḥ who wrote 215 kārikās on the twelve verses of the Māṇḍūkya-Upaniṣad. See bhāṣyam, ṭīkā and vārtikam.
karma
Action (especially action from free-will); object/result of action; duty; that which causes the production of bodies (new births) and hence perpetuates saṁsāraḥ.
"When karma is done for the sake of one's rāga-dvesas, without considering dharmaḥ as īśvaraḥ, then it is bondage... It is true that if kāmya-karma is done keeping dharma and adharma in view, no pāpam is incurred. However, only when karma is done for antaḥ-karaṇa śuddhiḥ does it become a means for mokṣaḥ. Only then is it yogaḥ."*
The karma, destiny, of each and every being is stored in māyā, the universal causal body. See sañcita-karma, prārabdha-karma, āgāmi-karma.
Since all action is limited, its results must always be limited (an effect is always in line with its cause) and so no amount or form of action can produce the limitlessness that is mokṣaḥ. Action may contribute towards the mental preparation needed for jñānam, but jñānam need not, cannot, be combined with karma for mokṣaḥ. And karma is a product of ignorance!
A wealthy person who is unaware of his weath does not need action to become wealthy. He just needs to know he is wealthy, nothing more. No amount or form of action, karma, can make the already wealthy wealthy. It is a matter of knowing, not doing. Just so, since ātmā is ever attained (yet improperly known) no amount of action can attain it. Knowledge alone may do so.
Also see the four possible results of action, all of which are limited and subject to time: utpattiḥ (utpādyam) production; vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam) modification; āptiḥ (āpyam) attainment; saṁskṛtiḥ (saṁskāryam) refinement.
karma-adhyakṣaḥ
The one who presides over all action (a title of īśvaraḥ).
karma-kāṇḍaḥ
This pūrva earlier or prior kāṇḍaḥ, part or section, of each Vedaḥ (Veda-pūrva) deals with karma, action, in the form of religious rituals and their results. It is earlier or prior to its fulfilment, the anta, latter part of the Vedaḥ (Veda-anta). As meditation is an action, the karma-kāṇḍaḥ includes the upāsana-kāṇḍaḥ.
Although providing the means for the proper fulfilment of legitimate desire, the ultimate purpose of the karma-kāṇḍaḥ is to help the individual see that all action (physical, oral or mental) is limited and limiting – karma, being finite, produces only finite ends. Thus, the karma-kāṇḍaḥ prepares the way for entry into the latter part of the Vedaḥ, the jñāna-kāṇḍaḥ. This movement from Veda-pūrva to Veda-anta is the growth of the religious life into the spiritual life.
"One should start with religious life and graduate into spiritual life. Without religious life, spirituality will not work. Without spirituality, religious life is incomplete. Therefore, the follower of the Vedaḥ should follow a religious life and go to spirituality." (Swami Paramarthananda). See jñāna-kāṇḍaḥ, Vedāntaḥ.
karma-kārya-vādaḥ
The Vedic theory of creation. It states that the creation is the effect, kārya, of the karma of jīvas. The creation is not īśvara's product. īśvara, being obliged by the karma of the jīvas to render its result, is necessarily the sāmānya-kāraṇam (general cause) of the world, but the jīva is the viśeṣa-kāraṇam, the specific cause. See vādaḥ and adhyāropa-apavāda-viveka-prakriyā.
karma-phala-dātā
Giver (dātā) of the fruit (phalam) of action (karma), a title of hiraṇyagarbhaḥ. The natural, inter-related, flawless laws of dharmaḥ that are īśvaraḥ give the results of action. These laws govern all aspects of the emergence, full manifestation and resolution of all phenomena, and thus all aspects of all activity. We may bounce a ball, but the result, being always in accord with natural laws (gravity, kinetics, elasticity, friction, etc.) may, with sufficient experience, be ours to anticipate, but is not ours to command. See īśvara-prasāda-buddhiḥ.
karma-phalam
Result of action; the results manifest as puṇya-pāpams (happiness or sorrow arising from pleasant or unpleasant situations and incidents) which can be exhausted only by being experienced by the bhoktā, experiencer, or else eliminated by fully recognising 'I am not the agent of action'.
Results of action (positive or negative) fall into four categories:
utpattiḥ (utpādyam) - production
vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam) - modification
āptiḥ (āpyam) - attainment
saṁskṛtiḥ (saṁskāryam) - refinement.
Action makes, modifies, attains or refines – that's all!
karma-yogaḥ
A way of life followed as a discipline to prepare the mind for knowledge of the truth, the Lord. As the Lord becomes the ultimate goal, all the actions one performs become offered to the Lord. "There is karma-yogaḥ only when īśvaraḥ is brought into the picture."*
Karma-yogaḥ is a disciplined householder life, lived in line with dharmaḥ, in which all actions are performed in the recognition that all that is here is īśvaraḥ. Intrinsic to this recognition is a natural attitude of offering or entrusting all one's actions to īśvaraḥ (īśvara-arpaṇa-buddhiḥ) since all action is, essentially, in and of īśvaraḥ. Thus, a life of karma-yogaḥ is a life lived attempting to keep all one's actions aligned with that which is perceived of the order that is dharmaḥ, īśvaraḥ. As best one may, one's actions then become unopposed to whatever is appreciated of dharmaḥ, (dharma-aviruddha-karma).
Natural to this order is the law-ordained result of action, which is accepted as prasādaḥ, a gift from īśvaraḥ (īśvara-prasāda-buddhiḥ). That acceptance brings evenness and equanimity of mind (samatvam) when results appear.
Additionally, specific forms of upāsanam may be used to help refine the mind (enhance its subtlety) and improve one's capacity to listen.
This way of life purifies the mind in preparation for jñānam since it entails mastering one's emotions and ways of thinking, including foregoing personal bias in the form of rāga-dveṣas, attachments and aversions, when putting dharmaḥ first. This 'putting dharmaḥ first' (following the lead of dharmaḥ) requires discretion in action (yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam) which helps develop subtlety of mind. With all this comes dissociation from association with sorrow, duḥkha-saṃyoga-viyogam. Then, when śravaṇam occurs in such an open, unagitated, self-disciplined, worshipful mind, there is little to impede it – there is jñāna-yogaḥ – and freedom from saṁsāraḥ follows. There is much more to karma-yogaḥ than sevā, service! Karma-yogaḥ is the preparatory means for jñāna-yogaḥ. Jñāna-yogaḥ is the sole means for and fruition of liberation.
karma-yogī
"If you follow values and do what is to be done without recognising īśvaraḥ then you are a clean person but not a karma-yogī. Only when you are a karma-yogī is there a relative resolution of the ego into īśvaraḥ – there is some kind of settlement between the jīvaḥ and īśvaraḥ. Only then will Vedāntaḥ work.
"When you do what is to be done there is trust in the order that is īśvaraḥ. In that trust you relax. This relaxation is called purification of mind. Then your rāga-dveṣas, likes and dislikes, are neutralised, you are no longer under their hold. So, purification (maturity) of mind is settling account with īśvaraḥ, otherwise you are like a ninja with reference to the world, fighting with it all the time.
"The order that is īśvaraḥ is everywhere, inside and out. The world is included in this order. So, if you settle account with īśvaraḥ [that is, recognise that the world and all that has happened to you is 'in order'], you need not fight with the world. When you submit to that order, you relax. The more you appreciate the order, the easier submission to it becomes. Until there is submission to the order, the ego does not resolve its problems. When the resolution has more or less taken place, Vedānta-vākyas, the teachings of Vedāntaḥ, will work. The teaching will be all light, not mere words."*
karmendriyāṇi
The five subtle powers of action, evident in:
• speaking - vāk (speech)
• handling - pāṇiḥ (hand)
• moving - pādaḥ (foot)
• reproducing - upasthaḥ (genitals)
• eliminating - pāyuḥ (anus)
Part of sūkṣma-śarīram and prāṇamaya-kośaḥ. The word karmendriyam refers to the subtle power of action (such as an individual's power or capacity for handling, walking, speaking, etc.) not to the physical action itself, but to its means. The power's physical location (golakam) is shown in the above list, in for example the hands. The word for the respective golakam not only refers to the physical organ, it also implies the conscious power pervading it – this is how it is with all powers of perception and action. See indriyam, the subtle power of an organ of perception or action; also see jñānendriyāṇi, the five subtle organs of knowledge.
kartā
Doer or performer or author of action (a status applicable solely to human beings); subject of an action.
kartṛtvam
Doership; the sense of being the doer or author of action. "When one is able to recognise oneself as free from doership, one also becomes free from enjoyership."* See bhoktṛtvam.
karuṇā
Compassion; empathy.
kārya-kāraṇa-viveka-prakriyā
A method (prakriyā) of analysis (vivekaḥ) that reveals reality by distinguishing between cause (kāraṇam) and effect (kāryam). This is the primary method for bringing about the vision of non-dual reality. This method is also known as sṛṣṭi-viveka-prakriyā, a method of analysing the manifest universe (to reveal its source) or adhyāropa-apavāda-viveka-prakriyā, a method of cognitive resolution of superimposition (in order to reveal ātmā); see prakriyā.
kārya-kāraṇa-sambhandaḥ
Cause-effect relationship.
kārya-karaṇa-saṅghātaḥ
Body-mind-sense complex (close union or combination, saṅghātaḥ, of karaṇams and kāryam); the intelligently-put-together assemblage, saṅghātaḥ, of the physical body, kāryam, and the instruments of action, karaṇams (the instruments of bodily action are the mind, senses and prāṇaḥ). The karaṇams and kāryam are all modifications of the guṇas of prakṛtiḥ. All actions are performed by these prakṛti-guṇas (the mind, senses and physical limbs) alone.
kāryam
Effect; product; its cause is referred to by the word kāraṇam. Being an expression of its cause, an effect is in essence not different from its cause. An effect is a particular named expression or form of its cause. For example, a gold bangle is a specific name and form (a particular expression) of its cause, gold.
kāryam brahma
Both the subtle and gross worlds are nothing but Brahman, just as waves are forms or effects of water and pots are nothing but forms of clay. Both the subtle and gross worlds are therefore said to be the kāryam, the effect or product, of Brahman. Kāryam brahma is a synonym for īśvaraḥ. See kāraṇam brahma and adhyāropa-apavāda-viveka-prakriyā.
kaṣāyam
Dormant, unassimilated emotional problems from unresolved hurtful experiences, stored in the subconscious in the form of memories or impressions, saṃskāras, that, on surfacing, make the mind stagnant, inhibiting its attention to the object of focus.
Kaṣāyam is one of the four hindrances to meditation – the others are: layaḥ, rasāsvādaḥ and vikṣepaḥ.
"Vedānta doesn't work unless you love yourself. And unless you clear the kaṣāya, the unconscious inhibitions that deny self-love and make you loathe yourself, you cannot love yourself. Therefore, you start with self-care. Self-care begins with what one considers oneself to be."*
kauśalam
Discretion, good judgement in one's choice of action; capacity to interpret correctly with reference to norms for human interaction.
In the context of karma-yogaḥ (yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam – Gītā 2.50) it does not mean skill, perfection or efficiency, it means the capacity to assess correctly what (and how) action(s) should be done.
kaviḥ
Poet; seer (ṛṣiḥ); one who is able to see beyond surface appearances and see things properly.
kāyaḥ
The body; trunk of a tree; assemblage; collection; capital; habitation; also see dehaḥ, śarīram; (kāyika, relating to the body).
kāyikam karma
Bodily action. In saguṇa-brahma-upāsanam or īśvara-upāsanam, worship of the Lord is a three-fold activity: kāyikam karma, vācikam karma and mānasam karma. Kāyam means body, so kāyikam karma includes activity involving the physical body, such as waving a light, ringing a bell, offering food, cooking food, decoration of deities, etc. Orally reciting verses or chanting mantras or singing in praise of the Lord (invoking grace) is oral activity, vācikam karma. Vācikam karma can be with or without kāyikam karma. In kāyikam and vācikam karma the mind is involved, having only the thought of the Lord. However, in mānasam karma, purely mental activity, body and speech are not involved. Mānasam karma can be mānasa japaḥ (mentally repeating a mantraḥ) or visualising the form of the Lord as a given deity (as described in jñāna ślokāḥ) with focused attention. See mānasam karma, vācikam karma.
kevalam
Only; simply; (kevala – alone; pure; unmingled; uncompounded). See kaivalyam.
kīrtanam
Singing (praising) the glory of God.
kleśaḥ
Affliction; due to ignorance, various afflictions impairing recognition of īśvaraḥ arise for the jīvaḥ, such as:
abhiniveśaḥ - clinging to the body and to earthly life
asmitā - egoism
avidyā - ignorance
dveṣaḥ - aversion
jananam - birth
maraṇam - death
rāgaḥ - attachment
kośaḥ
One of the five areas of the kārya-karaṇa-saṅghātaḥ, the body-mind-sense complex, providing the potential for self-misidentification; see pañca-kośāḥ.
koṭiḥ
View (of reality). No view or opinion or philosophy, being composed of words, ever reaches the truth about anything as truth is more than its articulation. Ātmā is ever-untouched by any view, which is yet another reason why Vedāntaḥ cannot be considered to be a philosophy.
krama-muktiḥ
Gradual (krama) liberation (muktiḥ) by slowly resolving after death the false notion that I am other than brahmātmā, while in brahma-lokaḥ being taught by Brahmā, and attaining videha-muktiḥ at mahā pralayaḥ. Since reaching brahma-lokaḥ and being taught there by Brahmā is said to be extremely difficult (almost impossible) to attain, krama-muktiḥ is extremely rare. It is also unnecessary to go to brahma-lokaḥ to understand that one is ever brahmātmā.
kriyā-śaktiḥ
Power (śaktiḥ) of action (kriyā) – the power to act, make or do that is inherent in māyā. When manifest, the kriyā-śaktiḥ is known as rajoguṇaḥ, and is expressed in vikṣepa-śaktiḥ. Doing also implies the power to know, jñāna-śaktiḥ, and the power to desire, icchā-śaktiḥ. Also see śaktiḥ, dravya-śaktiḥ and guṇaḥ.
kriyāvān
One endowed with the ability to act; actor.
krodhaḥ
Anger; wrath; passion; also see the six malas, impurities.
kṛpā
Mercy; grace; blessing; pity; tenderness; compassion (including the compassion that is easily dismissible in testing situations).
The three forms of grace are śāstra-kṛpā, guru-kṛpā and ātma-kṛpā, respectively, the grace of the scriptures, the grace of the guru and the grace of the true self. Although all three graces are necessary for liberation, and all three have to be earned, śāstra-kṛpā is primary in terms of both need and importance. See anugrahaḥ (a synonym of kṛpā).
kṛpaṇaḥ
Poor; a beggar; miserly; stingy – in the Vedantic context, one who does not spend his or her knowledge of right and wrong (stingily doesn't use or 'spend' his buddhiḥ) and instead unthinkingly abuses the human birthright of free-will is a miser. Only an action in line with dharmaḥ is truly an action born of free-will because only a will in line with dharmaḥ is free (at least temporarily) from habitual delusions, prejudices and flaws. See saṅkalpaḥ.
Human will may be contaminated with habitual prejudices and various forms of conditioning that limit thinking, but the degree of self-awareness that comes with being human means that there is still some degree of autonomy (and hence responsibility) in human choices.
kṛṣṇaḥ
Lord Viṣṇuḥ, teacher of the Bhagavad-Gītā; personification of all-attractive happiness, fullness, limitlessness. For kṛṣṇa-gatiḥ see gatiḥ.
kṛtakṛtya
"One who has found fulfilment through knowing that he is free, by nature, from any limitation"* and hence is spontaneously free from hatred, aversion, etc.
kṛtsna
Entire; whole; all. Kṛtsnavit, knower of the whole, one of complete knowledge, a wise person.
kṛtsna-karmakṛt
(One for whom) the performing of action is entirely over; one who, knowing that ātmā is akartā, has accomplished all that need be done; a jīvan-muktaḥ, a jñānī.
kṣamā
Forbearance, tolerance (especially in hostile situations); one who is naturally accommodative, who has patience, forgiveness, endurance – all due to dispassion.
kṣaṇika-vijñāna-vādaḥ
An assertion that reality is just numerous fleeting cognitions. It's mistaken because, for cognitions to be known to be fleeting, an ever-present consciousness is needed of both them and the gaps between them.
kṣāntiḥ
An accommodating, appropriate, non-reactive, non-judgemental response to others' behaviour.
kṣatriyaḥ
A holder of kṣatram, authority; one who protects the righteous from being wounded or hurt by the non-righteous; a person born into the second varṇaḥ – a soldier, governor, administrator, landowner, etc.; also see brāhmaṇaḥ, priest; vaiśyaḥ, businessman; śūdraḥ, labourer.
kṣayaḥ
Decay; loss; disease.
kṣemaḥ
Protection, preservation or retention of what has been acquired; ease; wellness; security. Its counterpart is yogaḥ, which is the acquiring of the yet to be acquired. These two related worldly pursuits, with the anxiety and stress they involve, can be detrimental to the pursuit of freedom. See Gītā 9.22.
kṣetrajña
Field-knower; knower of the field (kṣetram) of experience; knower of all that is observable; a synonym for sākṣī and for the ātmā identified as īśvaraḥ. See Gītā, chapter 7.
kṣetram
Place, area or field (of experience) namely, the jagat (including one's mind). "All desire is the property of the kṣetram."*
kṣīne
Intellectual; an understanding that is only intellectual. Many think that an intellectual understanding of the Teaching is enough, but it is not. An experiential understanding is also inadequate, and so is mere belief! Assimilation of the Teaching is necessary and that begins with properly recognising it to be true.
A fact can be grasped intellectually, but an intellectual grasp need be no more than being clear what is being said, while yet remaining unclear whether it's true or false. In contrast, proper understanding of a fact is more than intellectual, it is a settled, irrefutable recognition of it being a fact. Only then can assimilation begin, for, prior to that, doubt will still be present.
kṣiptam
Thrown; scattered (attention); distracted (mind).
kṣudhā
Hunger
kulam
Family; community.
kuṇḍaḥ
Receptacle; pot; pitcher.
kūṭastha
Immutable; ever the same. Because of its unchanging nature, ātmā is said to be kūṭastha, likening it to the unbending anvil, kūṭam, on which the blacksmith hammers hot metal. Kūṭastha is a synonym for sākṣī. See Gītā 12.3 and also Pañcadaśī 8.21.
lābhaḥ
Benefit; wealth; profit; gain; advantage; attainment; conquest.
laghu
Light; easy.
lakṣaṇam
A word or statement, vākyam, that retains part of its own meaning while negating a supposed meaning, and in so doing implies a further meaning. That implied meaning is the meaning to be used. When a literal meaning of a definition or statement does not fit, an implied or figurative meaning is sought. A definition or statement from which an implied meaning (a lakṣyārthaḥ) is meant to be drawn is called a lakṣaṇam or lakṣaṇā.
ajahallakṣaṇā
atad-vyāvṛtti-lakṣaṇā
jahadajahallakṣaṇā
jahallakṣaṇā
svarūpalakṣaṇam
taṭasthalakṣaṇam
upalakṣaṇā
lakṣaṇa-viśeṣaḥ
A defining adjective. The words satyam, jñānam, anantam are not, as is often thought, ordinary adjectives describing attributes or features of Brahman. They are 'defining' adjectives that indicate or reveal Brahman. In doing so, they each use negation to correct mistakes committed from different standpoints.
In satyam-jñānam-anantam the word satyam refers to that which is non-negatable, changeless, independent, causeless, free from the limitations of time. There is nothing in the world that we can refer to as satyam. Hence, satyam negates all attempts at worldly comparison or definition and implies an unchanging, immanent reality that is the substratum of all. Similarly, jñānam negates the notion that such a reality is inert and implies a conscious being that is all-knowledge, jñaptiḥ, pure unformed knowledge per se. Again, anantam negates any notions of limit for Brahman (such as the possession of qualities or attributes) and thus implies a limitlessness that is beyond all conceptions of limit.
lakṣya-lakṣaṇa-bhāvaḥ
This term connotes the relation between two words and an identical thing implied by them. It is one of the three kinds of relation: see the other two sāmānādhikaraṇyam and viśeṣaṇa-viśeṣya-bhāvaḥ.
lakṣya-lakṣaṇa-sambandhaḥ
The relationship (sambandhaḥ) between a word (lakṣyam, the thing being defined) and its meaning (lakṣaṇam, the definition). See sāmānādhikaraṇyam.
lakṣyam
That whose characteristics are to be defined, revealed or indicated.
lakṣyārthaḥ
Indicated or implied meaning of word(s); the meaning targeted or aimed at. For example, when someone asks for water, a glass or cup for carrying it is implied in the request. He means a glass of water. See vācyārthaḥ, mukhyārthaḥ, vyaṅgyārthaḥ.
laukika
Worldly; pertaining to empirical phenomena.
layaḥ
Third of the three states of all created things, namely sṛṣṭiḥ, creation; sthitiḥ, abidance; layaḥ, dissolution. Layaḥ often refers to dissolution or resolution at the individual or micro level, such as when falling asleep. See pralayaḥ, mahā-pralayaḥ and atyanta-pralayaḥ.
Layaḥ also means sleepiness; sloth (due to tamas) – one of the four hindrances to meditation – the others are: kaṣāyam, rasāsvādaḥ and vikṣepaḥ.
līlā
Play; sport; diversion; pleasure.
liṅgam
Clue; mark; sign; attribute; gender; source; origin.
liṅga-śarīram
Alternative name for the subtle body, indicating that evidence of its presence (such as breathing) is a sign (liṅgam) not just of life, but a sign that a functioning mind infused by consciousness is present. See sūkṣma-śarīram.
lobhaḥ
Greed; also see the six malas, impurities.
lokaḥ
Place; region; result. Of the 14 temporary abodes, lokas, the seven lower are forms of hell, narakaḥ. They allow enjoyership, but not doership and are only for the exhaustion of pāpam. The seven higher are forms of heaven, svargaḥ. Excepting Earth, they too allow only enjoyership, not doership and are only for the exhaustion of puṇyam.
This Earth, bhū-lokaḥ – the only place with free-will, doership and enjoyership – is the sole exception. It is the turning point, the point where change takes place (hence the name bhū, becoming). It is where puṇyam and pāpam may be acquired (and exhausted) and where mokṣaḥ may be attained.
If there is insufficient puṇyam or pāpam to merit time in (respectively) svargaḥ or narakaḥ after death, the jīvaḥ remains in a state akin to the deep-sleep state until the next birth.
Memories are associated with the physical body alone and do not travel with the jīvaḥ after the body's death (except in very rare cases). However, vāsanās do travel with the jīvaḥ.
The seven higher lokas begin with this Earth, bhūḥ, and in ascending order are bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ, suvaḥ, mahaḥ, janaḥ, tapaḥ, with satyam (also known as brahma-lokaḥ) the highest. In descending order, the seven lower are: atalam, vitalam, sutalam, talātalam, rasātalam, mahātalam, with pātālam lowest of all.
loka-saṅgrahaḥ
Welfare of the world.
madaḥ
Arrogance; pride; intoxication; also see the six malas, impurities.
madhu
Sweet; pleasant.
madhyamā
Middle; third (middle, intermediate) stage of emergence of speech. The unmanifest and undifferentiated power of speech, known as parā, having become differentiated at the paśyantī stage, continues rising. At the anāhata cakram, that same unmanifest power, parā, assumes by association with the intellect a specific word form. This means that, at this madhyamā stage, words and their pitch, speed of delivery, etc., are chosen for articulation at vaikharī. See parā, paśyantī, vaikharī.
madīya
My; mine; my own; belonging to me.
mahaḥ
One of the sacred utterances. In the Taittirīya Upaniṣad, four vyāhṛtis are mentioned for a meditation known as vyāhṛti-upāsanam. These vyāhṛtis are used as an ālambanam, a support, to meditate upon different devatās. The three well-known vyāhṛtis are bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ and svaḥ. The fourth, mahaḥ, is introduced in the Taittirīya. Mahaḥ, which in common with the others symbolises saguṇa-brahma-hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, was revealed by ṛṣiḥ Māhācamasya. See vyāhṛtiḥ.
mahādhīḥ
One of wide knowledge, who knows even the source of knowledge.
mahā-pralayaḥ
Complete dissolution/cessation of the universe at the end of each kalpaḥ in which it remains in an unmanifest, potential condition as the unmanifest aspect (seed) of the māyā of īśvaraḥ until it manifests again, in an endless cycle. Brahma-pralayaḥ is a synonym. See layaḥ, pralayaḥ and atyanta-pralayaḥ.
mahātmā
A great mind; a person of vision; a person free from ignorance; a jñānī. The word also indicates Bhagavān, the absolute or great self, the truth that is the only self (the only reality) of all beings.
māhātmyam
Majesty; glory; greatness; dignity.
mahat-tattvam
The great principle; principle of intelligence or buddhiḥ; first product of prakṛtiḥ; all knowledge; the totality of all intellects and hence an epithet for Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ or Brahmā.
mahā-vākyam
Great (mahā) statement (vākyam) from the Upaniṣads negating all knower-known duality as mithyā, thereby revealing the non-dual reality of the self and the world. The four most famous are:
tattvamasi
ahaṃ brahmāsmi
ayamātmā brahma
prajñānaṃ brahma
.
There is no gradation between them (as some suggest), the lakṣyārthaḥ of all is the same. Some of the many other mahā-vākyas are:
brahma veda brahmaiva bhavati
neha nānāsti kiñcana
sarvaṃ hyetadbrahma
sarvaṃ khalvidaṃ brahma
satyaṃ jñānam anantaṃ brahma
.
maitrī
Friendliness; benevolence; good will.
malam
Totally unmanifest ignorance.
mālā
Garland (of flowers); string of beads (usually 108) for japaḥ.
malaḥ
Dirt; impurity – six kinds:
kāmaḥ - lust
krodhaḥ - anger
lobhaḥ - greed
mohaḥ - delusion
madaḥ - arrogance
mātsaryam - jealousy
All are encompassed by the term rāga-dveṣaḥ and each of these six is also known as a vairiḥ, an enemy, of the wise. Together, kāmaḥ, krodhaḥ, lobhaḥ form the threefold doorway to narakaḥ, hell (Gītā 16.21).
mamakāraḥ
My-sense; sense of ownership; possessiveness; identification with, and claiming ownership of not only the body-mind-sense complex but also my car, my child, my career, my house, etc. Since mamakāraḥ depends on ahaṅkāraḥ, resolution of ahaṅkāraḥ simultaneously resolves mamakāraḥ (also known as mamatvam, my-ness).
manaḥ (manas)
Mind (fem. matiḥ); part of Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ. Manas is a particular manifestation of the jñāna-śaktiḥ, the power to know, and icchā-śaktiḥ, the power to desire. It is formed of vṛttis alone, which undergo constant change. It is typified by saṅkalpa-vikalpaḥ, desires and doubts, options and alternatives. Due to identification with one body, the mind divides what it meets into 'me', 'mine', and 'not me', 'not mine', superimposing attributes on the self.
Since the power to know and desire includes notions of identity (ahaṅkāraḥ), as well as memories (cittam) and decisions (buddhiḥ), manaḥ is used both to mean specific functions of the mind (knowing, feeling, desiring) as well as to represent the mind as a whole; see antaḥ-karaṇam, sūkṣma-śarīram.
mananam
Lit. 'thinking'. Removing, with the help of the teacher and of reasoning, all vagueness, fallacies and misunderstandings that may have arisen during śravaṇam (or elsewhere) until one's understanding of the śrutiḥ is flawless and complete. 'Elsewhere' includes refutation of conclusions drawn from others' faulty logic.
In mananam, a good student is like an oyster that picks up a grain of sand along with water and makes it into a pearl. He makes it his own. Thinking over what he has heard, he makes it complete. See nididhyāsanam, sākṣātkāraḥ.
mānasam karma
Mental action. Thoughts are just thoughts, unless acted upon. A thought without a will behind it is not an action, it is a passing thought. If it has a will behind it (and thus it is deliberately dwelt upon) it becomes a mānasam karma, a mental action (or soon a kāyikam karma, a physical one) which accrues puṇyam or pāpam, as appropriate.
In saguṇa-brahma-upāsanam or īśvara-upāsanam, worship of the Lord is a three-fold activity: kāyikam karma, vācikam karma and mānasam karma. Kāyam means body, so kāyikam karma includes activity involving the physical body, such as waving a light, ringing a bell, offering food, cooking food, decoration of deities, etc. Orally reciting verses or chanting mantras or singing in praise of the Lord (invoking grace) is oral activity, vācikam karma. Vācikam karma can be with or without kāyikam karma. In kāyikam and vācikam karma the mind is involved, having only the thought of the Lord. However, in mānasam karma, purely mental activity, body and speech are not involved. Mānasam karma can be mānasa japaḥ (mentally repeating a mantraḥ) or visualising the form of the Lord as a given deity (as described in jñāna ślokāḥ) with focused attention. See kāyikam karma, vācikam karma.
manda
Non-discriminating person (an avivekī); dull-witted; unintelligent; no puruṣārtha-niścayaḥ; lazy; (māndyam, dullness, laziness).
maṅgala-ācaraṇam
A prayer (often chanted aloud) at the beginning of an auspicious activity (such as the writing of a bhāṣyam) seeking the Lord's grace for the action's success.
maṅgalam
Auspicious; synonyms are bhadram, kalyāṇam, śam, śivam, śubham, svasti.
manīṣā
Ascertained knowledge of the vision of the śrutiḥmanīṣī, a clear thinker, intelligent, wise.
manomaya
Having the mind as an upādhiḥ. This term refers to the mind being an upādhiḥ for ātmā. See manomaya-kośaḥ.
manomaya-kośaḥ
The five senses plus the mind, which seemingly cover the non-coverable ātmā, together constitute the manomaya-koṣaḥ. Being pervaded by the vijñānamaya-kośaḥ, the mind becomes a kośaḥ due to the reflection of consciousness in the buddhiḥ causing it (the mind) to identify with its location (the body) objectify what it meets and so create 'me', 'mine', etc. Then follows further mistaken identification and division with the modifications of the senses and mind into 'I am angry, peaceful, unsure, enthusiastic, cautious, kind, unkind, blind, sharp-eyed, deaf, hearing well', etc. Any sukham, happiness, in the manomaya belongs to the ānandamaya-kośaḥ which pervades it. The mind, being no more than an instrument of the self, is intrinsically anṛta-jaḍa-duḥkham, unknowing, inert and dissatisfied (wanting). See manas, pañca-kośāḥ, annamaya-kośaḥ, prāṇamaya-kośaḥ, vijñānamaya-kośaḥ, ānandamaya-kośaḥ.
manonāśaḥ
The literal translation is destruction of the mind, but it is destruction of the mind's dominance as a source of identity. It therefore means mastery of the mind due to discovering that I am not the mind and its preoccupations: I become less and less subject to its dualistic spell of dwelling in subject-object relations.
When the mind no longer perceives duality it ceases to be the mind and I step out from under its thrall. When, gradually, in the wake of knowledge, all impurities in the mind resolve (non-triggerably) for good, that is manonāśaḥ. See jīvanmuktiḥ and amanībhāvaḥ.
mano-nigrahaḥ
Mastery over one's ways of thinking. See citta-vṛtti-nirodhaḥ.
manorājyam
The "kingdom of the mind's" ignorant involuntary projection (then entertainment) of emotions, wrong conclusions, etc., usually leads to excessive dwelling upon thoughts of worldly objects and worldly pleasures. Entertaining them encourages them, leading to a weakness for them, perpetuating saṁsāraḥ. This is dealt with by nididhyāsanam, repeatedly dwelling on the clearly understood prior unfoldment of the teaching, eventually leading to absorption in one's svarūpam.
mantraḥ
That which protects the reciter (through understanding and repeatedly dwelling upon its meaning). A mantraḥ can be a name of īśvaraḥ, the Lord, a word revealing the essential nature of reality, the self. Any Vedic sentence in prose or verse is revered as a mantraḥ.
mantra-upaniṣad
An Upaniṣad in the form of hymns (verses) not prose, for example, the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad. See brahmana-upaniṣad.
manuṣyaḥ
A living being capable of thinking, namely, a human being. (Manuṣya-lokaḥ, the world of human beings, is an alternative name for bhū-lokaḥ, the world of mortals.)
manuṣya-yajñaḥ
Worship of īśvaraḥ in the form of one's fellow human beings by appropriately caring for and serving them; one of the five pañcamahā-yajñas.
manvantaram
Period of rule of each Manuḥ, i.e. 71.43 caturyugas (usually rounded to 72). One manvantaram is one 14th of a kalpaḥ (hence, 14 Manus per kalpaḥ). One kalpaḥ is a day of Brahmā or 1,000 mahāyugas.
maraṇam
Death; (māraṇam, killing, slaying).
mārgaḥ
Path; way; course; route. There are not, as some claim, four paths to mokṣaḥ. In fact, since the self is ever free, there is no path or road to travel. Instead, the 'path' is one of enquiry (leading to the discovery 'I am Brahman', and always have been). It is an enquiry that involves two sequential lifestyles. There is no choice as to which to follow: karma-yogaḥ prepares the mind for jñāna-yogaḥ, in which is gained the knowledge that is mokṣaḥ.
mātā
Mother; the one who measures (also mātṛ).
matam
View; contention; thought; opinion; a given school of thought. However, the view of Bhagavān is a vision, dṛṣṭiḥ, of a fact – not merely a 'view', as views and contentions differ. Thus, whenever matam is used in the śāstram, it is a final verdict, a recognition of a fact, not a matter of opinion.
maṭhaḥ
Monastery
mātrā
Measure; that by which something is measured; for example, hrasvaḥ, dîrghaḥ, plutaḥ. (Amātrā, not possible to measure; without boundary; limitless.)
mātsaryam
Jealousy; envy; discomfort felt on seeing another's excellence, possession(s), etc.; also see the six malas, impurities.
maunam
Silence. Due to its subtlety, Vedāntaḥ is not (cannot be) communicated by direct speech. It is communicated by implication, which, because it is unspoken, is as good as silence.
māyā
Indefinable, beginningless power of knowing of īśvaraḥ. This means māyā, the svabhāvaḥ of īśvaraḥ, does not exist independently of īśvaraḥ, just as the capacity to burn does not exist independently of fire (and is beginningless). Hence, to say māyā exists is to say it is mithyā, as is all that arises from it. Its being mithyā, dependently real, is why it is called māyā'yā mā sā māyā, that which is not is māyā'. To properly understand the mithyātvam of māyā is to end māyā.
Māyā is the pariṇāmi-upādāna-kāraṇam of the jagat, producing all that is insentient. It has three aspects: the jñāna-śaktiḥ (capacity to know) which when manifest is called sattva-guṇaḥ, the kriyā-śaktiḥ (capacity to act) which when manifest is called rajo-guṇaḥ, and the dravya-śaktiḥ (capacity for inertia) which when manifest is called tamo-guṇaḥ.
The first forms to emerge from māyā at the arising of the universe are the pañca-bhūtas, the five subtle elements, each of which naturally consists of the three guṇas. These elements form all that follows. Their sāttvika aspects, for example, form the jñānendriyāṇi, the subtle aspects of the five senses.
From the standpoint of the jīvaḥ, it can seem that māyā is an upādhiḥ of īśvaraḥ. However, being inseparable from īśvaraḥ, māyā is not an upādhiḥ (only when māyā is manifest as forms, names and functions do upādhis arise). Māyā is not a part, product or property of īśvaraḥ, and it does not exist as a separate entity. Neither does māyā mean 'illusion', nor is what arises from it an illusion; the world is real, albeit dependently real, for its substratum, pure consciousness, is absolutely, independently real.
Māyā endlessly cycles from manifest to unmanifest. When māyā is unmanifest, the universe is unmanifest, meaning knowledge is undifferentiated. When māyā is unmanifest it is referred to as avidyā, ignorance, for then, like its product the universe, it is unknown. When māyā is manifest, knowledge is differentiated, meaning the subtle and gross universe are both manifest knowledge, vidyā – and yet māyā itself remains unknown (avidyā) while its power bears fruit.
Truth or reality is the substratum or very existence of both knowledge and ignorance, of both the differentiated and the undifferentiated, of both the manifest and the unmanifest. In Vedāntaḥ, that truth is implied by the word Brahman, satyam brahma, and is jñāptiḥ, pure (absolute, relationless, changeless) knowledge, pure consciousness.
Ultimately, there is no ignorance, no mind and no māyā, just pure knowledge, pure consciousness, which is ever of the nature of absolute peace, absolute fullness, absolute happiness.
māyāvī
Magician; sorcerer. īśvaraḥ can be likened to a magician whose power, māyā, produces a magic show, the world. Such a show, such a world, is not what it seems.
medhā-śaktiḥ
Power of intellection, namely, the ability to properly receive and understand whatever is studied, fully retain and assimilate it, and then properly recall it at the necessary and appropriate time – and not just for a few things, but for many texts, many disciplines of knowledge. See śaktiḥ.
medhāvī
Wise man; one of refined intelligence; one who understands a subject thoroughly and retains it, complete with all the details.
mīmāṃsā
Mīmāṃsā is the analysis of the sentences of the Vedaḥ, an analysis that makes use not only of logic and grammar, but also of context and intention, tātparyam.
Analysis of the earlier, pūrva, portion (the karma-kāṇḍaḥ or ritual portion) is called pūrva-mīmāṃsā, also known as karma-mīmāṃsā. Its adherents rightly say that the Vedaḥ is eternal and is the final word on everything. However, some karma-mīmāṃsā adherents also wrongly say that the Vedaḥ enjoins you to do action coupled with jñānam for mokṣaḥ, and that mokṣaḥ is only from a combination of the two.
Uttara-mīmāṃsā is an analysis that is uttara, later. It is an analysis of Vedāntaḥ, the concluding or end portion of the Vedas. These concluding portions are also known as the Upaniṣads. Their statements indicate the nature of reality. They further reveal that the ultimate aim and purport of the Vedaḥ is not any form of karma – or even bhaktiḥ – but jñānam, knowledge, and that knowledge alone liberates. See other dualist opponents of Vedāntaḥ – cārvākaḥ, sāṅkhyam, vaiśeṣikaḥ, bauddhaḥ and naiyāyikaḥ.
mithyā
Mithyā is defined in two ways: adhiṣṭhāna-ananya, that which has its basis in something else (meaning, it has no independent existence) and secondly, sad-asadbhyām anirvacanīya, that which cannot be defined as absolutely existent or non-existent.
Mithyā is not any kind of object, but is an ontological term indicating that which is neither absolutely real nor unreal, but which is empirically, objectively, relatively, dependently real. Whatever is mithyā has a beginning and an end, is dependent on something else and is subject to change. Therefore, all that is experienceable is classifiable as mithyā and every experience is mithyā.
Mithyā is a synonym for asat, indicating something that is dependent for its very existence on its observer or on its substratum, just as a perception (a perceived object) depends on its perceiver, or a gold ornament depends on its substratum, gold. The perception and ornament are known only while the perceiver and gold are present; remove them and the perceived object and ornament disappear. Hence, the perception and ornament are both mithyā, dependently real, not absolutely real, but certainly not illusions or delusions. (Mithyā is a synonym of mṛṣā, unreal, false, and vaitathyam, falseness.) See sat, asat, satyam, tuccham, abhāvaḥ and turīya.
modaḥ
Joy, pleasure; a degree of happpiness: the (greater) pleasure born of having got a desired object; also see priya, pramodaḥ.
mohaḥ
Delusion; absence of discriminative understanding; bewilderment; perplexity. In mohaḥ there is no dharma-adharma vivekaḥ, no discrimination between right and wrong in terms of values and action – hence, what is due to be done is not done. Neglect of duty inevitably leads to pāpam, doing what should not be done, which results in śokaḥ, grief.
Humanity's delusion in its vain search for fulfilment in worldly phenomena is like that of a small child sucking its thumb, mistaking its own saliva for mother's milk and so remaining ever unsatisfied. See malaḥ, abhimānaḥ, bandhaḥ.
mokṣaḥ
Freedom from the notion of being limited; freedom from ignorance-born erroneous identification with the body and mind; freedom from saṁsāraḥ the beginningless, endless cycle of births and deaths; freedom from emotional dependence; freedom from being a wanting person – all of which is accomplishable only through self-knowledge as freedom is already present, but covered by ignorance. In short, mokṣaḥ (moksha) is not freedom for the individual, it is freedom from the limitations (and consequent unhappiness) of apparent individuality.
Knowledge of the self itself is taking ownership of that freedom that is already one's own essential nature. Mokṣaḥ is also known as parama-śreyaḥ, most exalted wellness, and as saṁsiddhiḥ, the greatest accomplishment, and yet it is the accomplishment of the already accomplished. Mokṣaḥ is not and cannot be an event that occurs in time (for whatever begins ends). It is an ever-existent fact that simply needs to be recognised as such. Mokṣaḥ is not mokṣaḥ unless known in the waking state, jāgrad-avasthā.
The freedom that is mokṣaḥ is freedom from self-ignorance, an ignorance that leads to misperception of both oneself and the world. These misperceptions result in misconceptions that often evoke misplaced emotional responses in the form of unease or distress (including jealousy, anger, depression, fear, anxiety, regret, etc.) too often resulting in inappropriate action and sorrow. All such unfortunate responses leave a residue of unfinished business that perpetuates the cycle of emotionally driven problems known as saṁsāraḥ, a cycle that is never-ending until broken by correct knowledge of oneself and the world.
While identified with the mind, ātmā appears to be the experiencer of varying vṛttis, thought forms, whereas in mokṣaḥ, ātmā is known to be distinct from every vṛttiḥ. In mokṣaḥ, ātmā is known to be the free, unsullied substratum of each and every vṛttiḥ, no matter the state of mind. In mokṣaḥ, ātmā is known to be the invariable consciousness in every (variable) cognition – pratibodha viditam matam (Kena 2.4). This means, consciousness is 'experienced' in every experience, but, crucially, not as an object of experience! Consciousness is 'experienced' as the invariable, unsullied presence in (the existence of) all experience.
That presence is the natural, effortless, unchanging presence of oneself, the presence of one's very existence, awareness of which has remained throughout life. It is that presence which enables and is the adhiṣṭhānam, support, of the continuing sense of self, day to day, year to year, from early childhood, giving an unbroken continuity or sameness of self. Confusing that continuous, unchanging presence with the ever-changing kārya-karaṇa-saṅghātaḥ, the body-mind-sense complex, leads to saṁsāraḥ. This error is like confusing ever-unchanging water with its ever-changing form: an ocean wave, foam, vapour, etc. See brahmaikyam, parā-vidyā and āptiḥ. Also see sadyomuktiḥ and videhamuktiḥ
mṛtyuḥ
Death; lord of death. The deluded jīvaḥ, stuck on the wheel of saṁsāraḥ, goes from death to death. After each death, the time until a new birth occurs varies from months to hundreds of Earth (bhū-lokaḥ) years, depending on puṇya-pāpam and the last impression before death. One day after death in other lokas equates to one year here in this lokaḥ.
mūḍhāḥ
The deluded, the confused, who, due to ignorance, lack discriminative understanding.
mudrā
Name for certain hand gestures and finger positions.
mukhyārthaḥ
Direct, literal meaning of a word or statement. Synonym of vācyārthaḥ. For example, in 'this is your book', the direct meaning of 'your book' is understood: it is yours. See vācyārthaḥ, lakṣyārthaḥ, vyaṅgyārthaḥ.
mukta
Free; released; liberated.
muktiḥ
Freedom; release; liberation; synonym of mokṣaḥ (freedom) and vimocanam (liberation).
mūla-granthaḥ
The source or root text (mūlam, root; granthaḥ, text); a text when unadorned by a commentary, bhāṣyam.
mūla-pramāṇam
Root or most basic means of knowledge, that is, direct perception. See pramāṇam
mūlāvidyā
Original or primary ignorance; the world in a potential unmanifest form – (mūlam, root; avidyā, ignorance) synonymous with māyā. Mūlāvidyā is created in the mind by māyā, preventing the mind from knowing the ātmā. See tūlāvidyā.
mumukṣuḥ
Desirer of freedom, liberation, knowing clearly what that means, which is knowing that through recognition of one's true nature, all ignorance-born bondages (from the ego to the body) will go, along with the sorrow they induce. For such a person, it is by far the predominant goal in life. In contrast, a mumukṣā is one who has heard of mokṣaḥ, likes the idea of it and desires it, but who is unclear exactly what it is, its relation to jñānam and how it (mokṣaḥ) is attained.
mumukṣutvam
Having the status of being desirous of liberation, mokṣaḥ, from sorrow. This status is something that is arrived at when all the prior stages of sādhana-catuṣṭayam have reached sufficient maturity. This singular desirousness arises on recognising that all desires are in fact expressions of the desire for freedom from limitation and its accompanying sense of inadequacy, vulnerability and constraint. That recognition and its consequent changed priorities (all due to vivekaḥ) bring an enduring commitment, a status of being unshakeably committed to that quest for freedom and its means, jñānam. See sādhana-catuṣṭayam.
muniḥ
One who never loses sight of the fact that all that is here is absolute reality; one who has disciplined (fully mastered) the mind and so is not subject to sorrow; a person capable of appropriate thinking; one who remains focused on the vision of the truth; someone capable of being meditative; a sage (a budhaḥ, a learned man); an ascetic.
mūrtiḥ
Form; visible shape; personification; idol; statue. An idol representing a deity and sanctified for worship.
nādaḥ
Sound; ringing of a bell.
nāḍī
Nerve; a system of subtle nerves or channels (unavailable via dissection) that runs throughout the subtle body and converges on the heart, the seat or golakam of the mind, antaḥkaraṇam. The most well-known nāḍī is the suṣumnā nāḍī.
naimittikam
(noun) Effect; result. Its corresponding cause is referred to by the term nimittam; (adjective: naimittika, occasional, special, accidental).
naimittika-karma
Occasional (not daily) duties, some of which will be regular, for example, monthly, yearly. All naimittika-karmas are included in nitya-karmas. Both categories of action earn puṇyam, which is reaped in a future life, neutralising some future pāpam. Neither category neutralises future puṇyam as neither is opposed to it.
Even though non-performance of naimittika-karma will not incur pāpam, turning to and involvement in unnecessary action then becomes inevitable. Dalliance with the unnecessary, pratyavāya-doṣaḥ (the fault of omission) is a slippery slope that leads to doing what should not be done, which produces pāpam.
In the aspirant for mokṣaḥ, nitya-naimittika-karmas become niṣkāma-karmas, and kāmya-karmas are left untouched.
Also see the four possible results of action: utpattiḥ (utpādyam) production; vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam) modification; āptiḥ (āpyam) attainment; saṁskṛtiḥ (saṁskāryam) refinement.
naiścalyam
Steadiness; solidity; fixity.
naiṣkarmyam
Actionlessness; knowing oneself to be free from doership.
naiṣkarmya-siddhiḥ
The full recognition that one's nature is actionlessness. It comes with clear knowledge of oneself being ātmā. This means, naiṣkarmya is mokṣaḥ.
Recognising the truth about oneself is recognising that I do not have doership – I never could have it, and I never have had it (in spite of how things seemed).
naivedyam
Offerable; conveyable; food (symbolically) offered to a deity.
naiyāyikaḥ
Logician; a user and follower of the dualist nyāyaḥ (logic) system of Indian philosophy, founded by Akṣapāda Gautama, that asserts (in common with modern science) that matter is real and consciousness is its product. Hence, they say the world is independently real, that īśvaraḥ is different from the world and that you, a unique jīvaḥ, are a kartā, doer, and bhoktā, enjoyer. The naiyāyikas claim one becomes liberated by knowing the different elements of which the world consists. In common with other dualist schools (pūrvamīmāṃsakaḥ, sāṅkhyam, vaiśeṣikaḥ, bauddhaḥ and cārvākāḥ) they form the chief debating opponents of Vedāntins.
nākaḥ
Heaven; vault of Heaven; firmament; (a place of) no unhappiness. See svargaḥ
nakṣatram
Star; constellation.
nāman (nāma)
Name
nāma-rūpam
Name (nāman) and form (rūpam). This insubstantial world is mere name and form whose substance is satyam.
A name is not separate from the form (the object) it reveals. A form or object is the meaning of its name and does not have an existence of its own: it does not exist as a separate, independent reality from its name.
For example, shirt is but a name for fabric formed in a particular (named) way. Fabric is but a name for the threads forming it. Threads is but a name for yarn, yarn but a name for fibres, and so on. Although we think we are handling a substantial object, we find on investigation that we are handling nothing more than a series of named forms, forms that are named appearances only. Further, only more and more named mithyā appearances are revealed, down to the molecular level and beyond. There is no such thing as the creation: the objective world is only a name and not a material substance. Its 'substance' is non-material satyam.
namas
Salutations, a bow (namaskāraḥ or namaste, salutations to you). The salutations are to that which is real, to the vastu, not to the ego, not to the ahaṅkāraḥ. See praṇipātaḥ.
nandaḥ
Joy; delight; happiness. See ānandaḥ.
nanu
An expression used to convey an objection or question: a vocative particle revealing kindness, perplexity or reproach; also used to convey 'no doubt', 'not at all', 'never', 'indeed', 'certainly'.
naraḥ
Man; a person; a human being; that which na, does not, ra (rīyate) die – the body alone dies.
narakaḥ
Hell; the group of seven lower regions, which are (in descending order): atalam, vitalam, sutalam, talātalam, rasātalam, mahātalam, with pātālam lowest of all. The worst among those bound for hell are said to be dragged to the abode of Lord Yamaḥ by a noose around their necks and are endowed with a special body, yātanā dehaḥ, to undergo sufferings on the way. Reaching the city a year later, Citragupta assigns their punishments in line with his records. See lokaḥ and svargaḥ.
nārāyaṇaḥ
One of the names of īśvaraḥ as the all-pervasive sustainer, meaning 'the one who has ultimately to be arrived at, attained, by a human mind' (having discovered whom, the mind will resolve for good); Lord Viṣṇuḥ.
narmadā
Bestower of happiness.
nāśaḥ
Destruction; disappearance; removal.
nāsikā
Nose; nostril (nāsikāgram, tip of the nose; the point where external air enters the nose – nāsikāgram does not mean the 'root' of the nose between the eyes.)
nāstikaḥ
One who does not recognise the Vedaḥ as a pramāṇam; see āstikaḥ. The six nāstika-darśanas are Cārvākas, Jains, and four divisions of Buddhism: Mādhyamas or Śūnyavādins, the Yogācāras or Vijñānavādins, the Sautrāntikas, and the Vaibhāṣikas.
naśvara
Transient; perishable; subject to change.
nāthaḥ
Lord; refuge; protector; husband.
neha nānāsti kiñcana
'There is no plurality, no second thing here at all.' Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.1.11. See mahāvākyam.
neti neti
"(It is) not this, not this" – an expression used in various places in the bṛhadāraṇyaka upaniṣad. It negates whatever can be objectified, whether physical or subtle, as mithyā, meaning none can be ātmā. Neither can satya-ātmā be any of them. Since ātmā alone is satyam, independently real, the entire universe is thereby negated as not truly real.
'This' is observable. Anything observable is changeable and is within consciousness, but consciousness is unchanging and is not limited to or by its content – just as an ocean is not limited to or by its waves, which are no more than temporary appearances in it.
Carefully dismissing all that is transient and objectifiable (and hence, untrue because not properly real) reveals, by implication, the non-objectifiable, unchanging truth. A concept may express a truth, but truth is not a concept.
nidhānam
Repository; place of rest; residence; receptacle. Mokṣaḥ is said to be the paramaṃ nidhānam, the supreme resting place in which is found the greatest treasure.
nididhyāsanam
Contemplation – repeatedly dwelling upon the nature of reality understood as one's own self, the truth of 'I'. Contemplation is a form of meditation, dhyānam, wherein the meditator-meditated division or difference is absent because the 'object' of meditation is oneself, it is the truth or essential nature of you, the subject.
Nididhyāsanam (didhyāsa, the desire to dwell; ni, on well-ascertained knowledge) is possible only after sufficient śravaṇam and mananam. Only then is the required knowledge well-enough ascertained to be worth dwelling on.
Nididhyāsanam is for the removal of the obstructions to the full ascertainment and assimilation of what has already been correctly understood from śravaṇam and mananam. That removal is the uprooting of viparīta-bhāvanāḥ, competing, deeply embedded, false ideas about oneself, that is, identification with the mind and body. Nididhyāsanam is not for gaining knowledge; that is the rôle of śravaṇam.
One method of assimilation is to dwell repeatedly, in daily life, upon the understanding one has gained (and thereby not lose the objectivity it bestows). This practice is known as brahma-abhyāsa-rūpa-nididhyāsanam.
Alternatively, an aspirant may gain that assimilation by regularly sitting and dwelling at specific times on what has been properly understood of the truth of oneself. This is known as samādhi-abhyāsa-rūpa-nididhyāsanam. Often, both methods are used.
Nididhyāsanam is a synonym of nirguṇa-brahma-upāsanam and svasvarūpa-anusandhānam. See the two types of nididhyāsanam – samādhi-abhyāsa-rūpa-nididhyāsanam and brahma-abhyāsa-rūpa-nididhyāsanam and also sākṣātkāraḥ. The four hindrances to all forms of meditation are: kaṣāyam, layaḥ, rasāsvādaḥ and vikṣepaḥ.
nidrā
Sleep; spiritual sleep, the sleep of ignorance; the sleep of non-recognition of the truth. Nidrā indicates that the states of waking, dream and deep sleep are characterised by an absence (non-recognition, non-apprehension) of the knowledge of reality and hence are states of sleep, spiritual sleep.
Māyā or universal ignorance has its individual aspect (avidyā) that has the same two-fold power of veiling/projecting and hence is capable of projecting a 'new' individual in his/her own world. All this amounts to the near-universal human malaise of ignorance-born (non-recognition-born) self-misconception, the malaise of being asleep to that which is real. It is a spiritual sleep, a sleep (a dream or error) in which the reality of one's sense of self and the reality of the world usually remain unquestioned. As long as a person in the waking state is convinced of being already fully awake (and of being different from the world) it never occurs to him or her to seek to wake up. This is spiritual sleep, the sleep of ignorance, avidyā-nidrā (the seed of saṁsāraḥ) – see Gītā 2.69.
nigamanam
Conclusion arrived at through deductive reasoning from two or more propositions; conclusive summary of an argument.
nigrahaḥ
Restraint; obstruction; mastery.
nimitta-kāraṇam
Intelligent or efficient cause, the presence of which itself lends existence to matter. It is a cause in a three-fold way: as the creator, as the one who or which sustains the creation and as the one into whom or into which the creation resolves.
Each cause changes in becoming its related effect. In the case of material causes, the changes are obvious (clay becomes moulded into a pot, gold into a ring). For instrumental causes, the knowledge that effects change is both causal and instrumental. In effecting change, unmanifest knowledge becomes manifest knowledge, that is, knowledge becomes manifest in the very form revealed. Knowledge, as well as becoming manifest in (and as) the object, manifests as the very existence of the object, sustaining it, for without it the effect would not occur. Later, that same knowledge is that into which the manifestation resolves.
The nimitta-kāraṇam has intelligence in the informational or knowledge sense of the word (as in the 'gathering of intelligence' on a suspected criminal) and that knowledge includes the skill, the know-how, to apply it (all skill is intelligently applied knowledge). Efficient here means the capacity, the knowledge, to accomplish or effect (produce) change. See upādāna-kāraṇam.
nimittam
Being instrumental; reason; motive; target. Its corresponding effect is referred to by the term naimittikam.
nipātaḥ
A letter or syllable that conveys no meaning in a verse but has a specific purpose, such as indicating a prior event.
nirañjana
Untainted; spotless; pure; untainted by any association; ever distinct, even though immanent (a term for ātmā).
niratiṣaya
Unsurpassed; unrivalled; unequalled.
niravayava
Without parts; divisionless; indivisible.
nirguṇa-brahma
Attributeless, absolute reality implied by the term 'Brahman' (as its nature is limitlessness); pure consciousness. Also known as parambrahma, supreme Brahman to distinguish it from non-supreme Brahman aparambrahma (saguṇa-brahma or īśvaraḥ). See saguṇa-brahma.
nirguṇa-brahma-upāsanam
Meditation on nirguṇa-brahma, the abstract formless reality, in which meditation there is no meditator-meditated difference – see upāsanam, nididhyāsanam.
nirguṇaḥ
Free from all attributes.
nirodhaḥ
Obstruction
niruktam
The discipline of Vedic (vaidika) etymology showing the evolution of words from their grammatical roots; one of the six auxiliary sciences, Vedāṅgas, of the Vedas – also see śikṣā, chandas, vyākaraṇam, jyotiṣaḥ, kalpaḥ.
nirupādhi
Without upādhiḥ (not having or possessing a limiting adjunct or manifesting medium). See upādhiḥ and sopādhi.
nirupādhika-adhyāsaḥ
In nirupādhikādhyāsaḥ, one object is mistaken for another, for example, a rope is mistaken for a snake. Once the rope is known, the snake goes away. The snake, being only prātibhāsika-satyam, subjectively real, cannot remain when the rope is known. See sopādhikādhyāsaḥ, adhyāsaḥ and upādhiḥ.
nirvāṇam
Nirvāṇam, which is not to be understood as some kind of void, implies the nature of reality being non-coverability – reality is non-coverable because of its nature of all-pervasiveness. Nirvāṇam also means knowledge, mokṣaḥ, because in knowledge one knows oneself to be free from all seeming covers, pañca-kośas. Nirvāṇam means mokṣaḥ because in mokṣaḥ one sees oneself being limitlessness; liberation.
nirvedaḥ
A commitment to knowledge and a dispassion for worldly objects and pursuits; a consequence of puruṣārtha-niścayaḥ.
nirvikalpaḥ
Divisionless; changeless; free from the knower-knowledge-known division; (nirvikalpa does not mean 'absence of thought'.) See vikalpaḥ and saṅkalpaḥ.
nirvikalpa-samādhiḥ
"A state of absorption [also known as asamprajñāta-samādhiḥ or nirbīja-samādhiḥ] in which there is no second thing at all; a samādhiḥ in which there is absence of distinction between knower-knowledge-known, as in deep sleep, but, unlike sleep, the mind is awake, meaning there are vṛttis and so the state will be displaced by thought. Being of the mind, any samādhiḥ is transient. Nirvikalpa-samādhiḥ is not and cannot be an experience of ātmā as ātmā is not experienceable. Some say that after you come out of nirvikalpa-samādhiḥ you will see the world entirely differently, but that is not correct because how you see the world depends purely on your vision of reality. Having experienced nirvikalpa-samādhiḥ you have to interpret that experience, and to interpret the experience you must have a pramāṇam, a means of knowledge."*
Nirvikalpa-samādhiḥ, although deeper than savikalpa-samādhiḥ, is not mokṣaḥ. It is an experience that comes and goes. That vṛttiḥ, having assumed the form of Brahman is no longer perceived as a vṛttiḥ (but exists nevertheless) and only the self remains evident. When another vṛttiḥ displaces it, the samādhiḥ concludes. In contrast, in deep sleep (suṣuptiḥ) thoughts are unmanifest, the other two mental states (waking and dream) having merged in their cause, ignorance (ajñāna-vṛttiḥ). Only the demands of prārabdhaḥ stir the person from nirvikalpa-samādhiḥ (or from suṣuptiḥ, deep sleep). See samādhiḥ, savikalpa-samādhiḥ and nididhyāsanam.
nirvikāra
Unmodifiable; changeless; unchanged.
nirviśeṣa
Without attributes or distinguishing characteristics (a term used to express the limitlessness of ātmā).
nirvṛtiḥ
Complete satisfaction or happiness; final beatitude; mokṣaḥ.
niścayaḥ
Conviction; definiteness; firm resolve.
niścitam
A decision; a conclusion; a certainty; a statement (pratijñā) of something ascertained or resolved (niścitārthaḥ, well ascertained).
niṣedhaḥ
Prohibition (forbidden by scripture); discontinuance; warding off; negation; control.
niṣedha-vākyam
A śāstram statement (vākyam) phrased in negative terms, for example, 'the self is unlimited', 'the seer is not the seen', dismisses by negation (niṣedha) false notions of limit and identity. However, a niṣedha-vākyam may not only negate that which is false, it can also be used to imply much more. Such a negation is formally called a niṣedha-mukha-lakṣaṇam, a negation that implies something.
Since the ātmā is obscured by falsely transferred attributes (causing misidentification) their removal via negation is essential. When those attributes are properly dismissed they no longer obscure the ever self-evident true self, which is also pointed out by what the negation of superimpositions implies.
The ātmā can't be revealed by the kind of positive statements, called vidhi-mukha-lakṣaṇam, that point only to objects. The ātmā, being consciousness – the very means of experience – can never be an object of experience, no matter how subtle that experience may be.
In Vedāntaḥ a positive statement may negate an untruth and imply a truth. See vidhi-vākyam.
niṣiddha-karma
Forbidden action; action not in line with dharmaḥ and therefore forbidden by the scriptures and which accumulates pāpam.
Also see the four possible results of action: utpattiḥ (utpādyam) production; vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam) modification; āptiḥ (āpyam) attainment; saṁskṛtiḥ (saṁskāryam) refinement.
niṣkāma-karma
An action free from binding desire, which means an action that is proper, necessary and done with no ulterior motive. There is no attachment to the action or its result, even though the person may want the result. The result is expected (all actions have results) but there is no attachment to the result as the focus is only on performance of action as a means to purify and steady the mind for mokṣaḥ. Such a person is a karma-yogī. He or she knows that no action is ever a source of happiness as happiness is inherent in the person (it is never a product, refinement, attainment or modification). His aim is clear, he wants only mokṣaḥ. He has puruṣārtha-niścayaḥ.
When such an action is done, recognising that the fulfilment of the need is the fulfilment of the dharmaḥ of īśvaraḥ, it becomes an action dedicated to īśvaraḥ, in service of īśvaraḥ. That recognition, and the consequent surrendering or entrusting of the action to īśvaraḥ, is known as īśvara-arpaṇa-buddhiḥ. It brings antaḥkaraṇa-śuddhiḥ, purification of the mind, as it incurs the grace of īśvaraḥ while turning the mind away from excessive 'me-focused' behaviour. See karma-yogaḥ. (Desire is natural and necessary for action. All actions – mental or physical – are done with desire, but a desire having a personal motive binds, for it reinforces the ego.)
Also see the four possible results of action: utpattiḥ (utpādyam) production; vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam) modification; āptiḥ (āpyam) attainment; saṁskṛtiḥ (saṁskāryam) refinement.
niṣkriyam
The actionless one (a synonym for ātmā).
nistāraḥ
Crossing over; deliverance; final release.
niṣṭhā
Firmness; steadiness; freedom from doubt or vagueness; remaining established in the vision of the truth. Because of this steadiness, niṣṭhā can also mean 'lifestyle' (steady adherence to a way of life).
nitya
Timeless; not subject to time. Timelessness is not 'eternity' (which is a measure of time) neither does it have 'continuity', for continuity is also a measure of time.
nitya-karma
Any regular, daily or occasional duty – hence, the term includes naimitta-karma and of course religious duties. Duty is that which is due, due to be done, or needs to happen. It is not a matter of choice but of recognition. Fulfilling a true need earns puṇyam as it is a manifestation of dharmaḥ, and it avoids or even mitigates pāpam (nitya-karmas such as prayer may neutralise or perhaps just soften the impact of prior pāpam, wrong action).
When nitya-naimittika-karmas (daily and occasional duties) are done for antaḥkaraṇa-śuddhiḥ, purification of the mind (as a step towards mokṣaḥ) they become niṣkāma-karmas, actions not driven by binding personal desire, and hence become part of karma-yogaḥ.
Also see the four possible results of action: utpattiḥ (utpādyam) production; vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam) modification; āptiḥ (āpyam) attainment; saṁskṛtiḥ (saṁskāryam) refinement.
nitya-mukta
Ever free. True mokṣaḥ can only be a timeless, ever-present, ever-attained fact that need not and cannot be attained. A mokṣaḥ that is not beyond the constraint of all three periods of time (past, present, future) must decline and so is not true mokṣaḥ.
nitya-naimittika-karma
Daily and occasional duty. See nitya-karma and naimittika-karma.
nitya-śuddha-buddha-mukta
Timeless, pure, awakened, liberated – an expression sometimes used to describe a jñānī.
nivṛtaḥ
Contented; ceased; resolved – hence, free from the hold of the mind; identified with the self, not the mind.
nivṛttiḥ
Abstinence; cessation; giving primacy to śreyas rather than preyas – see its opposite pravṛttiḥ.
niyamaḥ
Injunction; rule; precept; name of a set of five injunctions in aṣṭāṅga-yogaḥ, namely:
saucam
santoṣaḥ
tapaḥ
svādhyāyaḥ
īśvara-praṇidhānam
niyata-karma
Action that is obviously right or appropriate in a given situation and therefore must be done; action that is in line with dharmaḥ or ordained by śāstram.
niyatātmā
One having a disciplined mind.
niyatiḥ
Law; order; inner order of things (dharmaḥ); self-restraint; restriction; necessity; destiny; religious duty or obligation.
nyāyaḥ
Justice; rule; law; fact. Nyāyaḥ is a system of philosophy, covering worldly and metaphysical topics, that uses methods of logic and epistemology, but whose adherents have no interest in mokṣaḥ.
oṃ
All that is within both time and space (the entire universe) and all that is beyond time and space, everything is Oṃ. This sacred sound-symbol (pratīkaḥ) of the Lord is an auspicious name, which when chanted invokes īśvaraḥ, helping one recognise the vastu that is turīyam. The meaning of the word Oṃ is ātmā.
All human sounds are modifications of the natural gutteral sound 'a', which becomes the sound 'm' on closing the lips. The sound 'u' (oo) represents all sounds in between. As all words in all languages are combinations of sounds, and as words denote forms, Oṃ may be said to pervade and represent all names and forms. Its three constituent sounds a, u, m are also the origin of the three vyāhṛtis that are the essence of the gāyatrī-mantraḥ. The gāyatrī-mantraḥ is in turn the essence of every mantraḥ of the entire Vedaḥ.
Oṃ is used for both saguṇa as well as nirguṇa-dhyānam. In saguṇa-brahma-dhyānam the letter 'a' is the waker and Virāṭ, the waker's world; the vowel 'u' is the dreamer and Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, the dreamer's world, the thought world. The consonant 'm' is the sleeper and the causal world, Śivaḥ. The silence between repetitions of Oṃ is nirguṇa-brahma, the truth of Oṃ.
Oṃ is not to be chanted on its own, except by vānaprasthas and sannyāsins, as doing so induces vairāgyam. See praṇavaḥ.
The vowel 'o' in the word Oṃ should be pronounced by forming the lips into a tiny circle and making the vowel sound in 'home'. The vowel should be one long (dīrgha) measure of sound. The labial sound 'm', formed by gently closing the lips, should be short (hrasva) giving a total of three short measures for the duration of Oṃ. The phonetic 'aum' is a teaching device and not a pronunciation guide, nor an alternative spelling!
oṃ tat sat
A famous mantraḥ that purifies and makes sāttvika any action unopposed to dharmaḥ.
oṣadhiḥ
Plant; (medicinal) herb; vegetation.
pādaḥ
A fourth part (a quarter) of a stanza; a quarter of a whole (not one of four separate items); a foot.
padam
Step; foot; word; that (destination) which is to be reached or accomplished; that (means) by which an object is reached or known.
Being the blessing by which anything may be arrived at, padam also implies pure knowledge.
padārthaḥ
Meaning of a word (usually the direct meaning); substance (of any substantive). This term especially refers to any and all objects, situations and phenomena in the world with which I have no emotional bond of either attachment, rāgaḥ, or aversion, dveṣaḥ. I am, for example, untouched emotionally (I am calmly disinterested) on happening to hear of the plight of people elsewhere in the world with whom I have no connection or relation. In contrast, those people and events with whom I do have a rāga-dveṣaḥ relation are categorised as viṣayaḥ, an object or area of interest, concern or involvement. So, padārthaḥ and viṣayaḥ refer to the two categories of objects and phenomena I meet: respectively īśvara-sṛṣṭiḥ and jīva-sṛṣṭiḥ.
pakṣaḥ
Side (of anything); wing (of a bird); a shoulder; fortnight (one 'side' or half of a lunar month); (the contention of the opposing) side – see pūrvapakṣī.
pāñcabhautikam
Five-element model of the world – see ākāśaḥ, space; vāyuḥ, air; agniḥ, fire; āpaḥ, waters; pṛthivī, earth. These pañca-bhūtas, five elements, arise from māyā in the order shown here. Each therefore, like māyā, consists of the three guṇas and has, in addition to its own properties, a measure of the properties of its predecessor in succession (due to being pervaded by it) and so pṛthivī has all of them. Since these five are the first to manifest from māyā, all that follows is their product.
The names, fire, water, earth, and so on, do not refer to their well known material forms: the names are only indicative – flaming fire, for example, is just the closest physical exemplar of the element agniḥ, fire.
pañcāgni-vidyā
A poetic description of the return of a jīvaḥ for a new birth (in which description īśvaraḥ is looked upon, for the purpose of upāsanā, as five sacrificial fires) – see Muṇḍaka 2.1.5. When the puṇyam of the jīvaḥ that took it to Heaven (fire 1) is exhausted, entering clouds (fire 2) it comes down to the Earth (fire 3) through rain. Absorbed into the sap of vegetation, it is ingested as food by a male (fire 4). That food becomes a seed that is placed in a female (fire 5) and the jīvaḥ is born.
pañca-kośāḥ
The five (mithyā) layers of personality that seemingly cover the non-coverable self, ātmā. Ignorance provides the potential for self-misidentification with the kārya-karaṇa-saṅghāta, the body-mind-sense complex. Although the finer kośaḥ successively pervades the grosser (and the Upaniṣads similarly reflect this metaphor of causes being 'inner' to, subtler than and pervading their effects) the five kośas are not nesting successively like Russian dolls within dolls (with ānandamaya as the innermost and ātmā within that). Instead, all are within the mind and ātmā pervades all five, at every level, as the very existence and substance of each. The cognitive negation of each in turn arrives at the non-negatable sākṣī, the witness. See...
annamaya-kośaḥ
prāṇamaya-kośaḥ
manomaya-kośaḥ
vijñānamaya-kośaḥ
ānandamaya-kośaḥ
The five correspond to the three śarīrams: the annamaya-kośaḥ to the sthūla-śarīram, the prāṇamaya, manomaya and vijñānamaya-kośas collectively to the sūkṣma-śarīram, and the ānandamaya-kośaḥ to the kāraṇa-śarīram. (The suffix -maya(ṭ) means modification, as in annamaya, modification or product of food, anna. It does not refer to māyā.)
pañca-kośa-viveka-prakriyā
Analysis of the five kośas that seemingly cover ātmā (one of the methods of unfoldment of the self). This method helps the seeker or aspirant gradually arrive at the subtlest consciousness, ātmā, from the gross physical body, thereby shifting the 'I'-sense, aham, from the body to consciousness; see prakriyā.
pañca-mahā-yajñaḥ
The five great forms of worship or sacrifice:
devayajñaḥ - worship of īśvaraḥ, the Lord, in the form of gods, devatās.
pitṛyajñaḥ - worship of the Lord in the form of ancestors.
ṛṣiyajñaḥ - worship of the Lord in the form of ṛṣis and scriptures.
manuṣya-yajñaḥ - worship of the Lord in the form of human beings.
bhūta-yajñaḥ - worship of the Lord in the form of the natural world of plants, animals, etc.
All five contribute toward the mental preparation (karma-yogaḥ) needed for mokṣaḥ and so compensate for omissions in nitya-naimittika-karmas.
pañcīkaraṇam
Grossification (pañcīkaraṇam, 'making into five') of the five tanmātras, the subtle aspect of each of the five elements. One half of the tāmasika aspect of each tanmātra is combined with one eighth of each of the tāmasika aspects of the other four.
The word 'elementals' refers to the five sense organs and five prāṇas that arise from the five tanmātras.
paṇḍitaḥ
Scholar; learned. However, in Vedāntaḥ, paṇḍitaḥ means a wise person, a sage (a budhaḥ, a learned man), one who has self-knowledge due to a profound understanding of śāstram.
pāpa-karma
Action (karma) that is not in line with dharmaḥ. It has a later (presently unseen) unpleasant result. The adṛṣṭa-phalam, the unseen result (similarly known as pāpam) manifests as an unwelcome, inauspicious situation or experience later in this life or in a future one. Any immediate or later pleasure appearing to arise from a wrong, adharmic action is not due to that action but to the arising of previously earned, unrelated puṇyam. See puṇya-karma.
pāpam
The adverse or unfavourable influence or quality arising from wrong or inappropriate action, from action that transgresses universal values and disturbs the order that is dharmaḥ. The adverse influence remains unseen (adṛṣṭa) until manifesting as duḥkham, sorrow, arising from unpleasant, unfavourable situations and experiences. Any unpleasant situation is the result of pāpa-karma. All pāpas are due to identification with the body, which leads to competition in which others' loss is necessarily sought, forming pāpam. Specific pāpam is exhausted by specific experience. See puṇyam, vāsanā, saṁskāraḥ, adharmaḥ.
parā
Supreme; absolute; origin of all; synonym of māyā (as all returns to it).
Name of the unmanifest and undifferentiated power of speech, which is latent in the individual and found within the perineum (not the base of the spine) at the mūlādhāra cakram – also see paśyantī, madhyamā, vaikharī.
param
Supreme; highest; limitless; the most superior; a reference to Brahman being the very truth of its own intrinsic power, māyā, and hence, in that sense, superior to it.
paramahaṃsaḥ
A highly disciplined person of vision, one of keenly discriminative understanding and graceful demeanour; a sannyāsī.
paramārthaḥ
Highest truth or meaning; absolute reality; knowledge that is brahmātmā.
pāramārthika-nityatvam
Absolute (timeless) eternity – an eternity that has nothing to do with time. See pravāha-nityatvam, perennial eternity.
pāramārthika-satyam
Supreme (absolute) reality, that which is satyam jñānam anantam brahma, free from all attributes. The very reality of jīvaḥ, jagat, and īśvaraḥ. Synonym of turīyam. See vyāvahārika-satya, prātibhāsika-satyam.
paramātmā
The limitless, all-pervasive, ever-pure, ever-unchanging, ever-accomplished, timeless self, ātmā, out of which the universe is born, is sustained, and to which it returns. Paramātmā is therefore a synonym for īśvaraḥ, ātmā and pratyagātmā. It is the pure consciousness whose recognition and full ascertainment as the same, secondless, ultimate truth (svarūpaḥ) of the jīvaḥ, īśvaraḥ and Brahman is what is meant by liberation. The prefix param, supreme, emphasises and celebrates the greatness and absolute, non-dual nature of the ātmā. Hence, the term paramātmā contrasts with the term jīvātmā, emphasising that ātmā (the essential nature of each) is the same – just as water is the essence of both wave and ocean.
Some claim that paramātmā refers to a 'supreme soul' of which the so-called 'many individual ātmās' are a part and with which they eventually merge. None of that is true. Such errors are due to a misunderstanding of the nature of the self and of the soul. The truth is, ātmā is advaita, non-dual, which means there is no second entity. Therefore, there is not and cannot be a supreme soul (as it implies other, lesser souls). Neither are there, nor can there be, many individual ātmās. Ātmā does not mean soul. The nearest equivalent to the word 'soul' is jīvaḥ.
parambrahma
Brahman; supreme reality.
parameśvaraḥ
Supreme ruler (lord) of all and everything; formless, pure consciousness – personified as īśvaraḥ – manifest as (appearing as) the universe.
paramparā
Lineage; refers to the unbroken lineage of teachers in which the passing of knowledge (precepts, āgamaḥ) from teacher to student over millennia ensures the preservation of the sampradāyaḥ, teaching tradition; see guru-śiṣya-paramparā.
parā-prakṛtiḥ
Higher nature of the self; the ultimate cause, without which no cause is possible; consciousness; existence; see saccidānandaḥ, aparā-prakṛtiḥ. See Gītā, chapter 7.
paratantram
Dependence; being dependent on something else for existence – the opposite of svatantram.
parā-vidyā
Self-knowledge; supreme knowledge; knowledge of absolute truth in terms of aham brahmāsmi; synonym of brahma-vidyā. The knowledge of the identity of the self with Brahman that takes place in the buddhiḥ on hearing and properly understanding the words of the Upaniṣad is called parā-vidyā. See aparā-vidyā and akhaṇḍākāra-vṛttiḥ.
pārāyaṇam
Reading/chanting a text aloud.
paricchedaḥ
Limitation. Being subject to limitation, paricchedaḥ, an object can be regarded as paricchedya, a recipient or possessor of limitation. A (possessed) attribute, by its very presence, necessarily manifests its capacity to limit, and that capacity is paricchedakam, that which is conducive to the manifestation of limitation.
In their own way the sense organs are also paricchedakam, conducive to the bestowal and manifestation of limitation, in that they each act within their respective spheres to limit what may be known (hearing, for example, is limited, paricchinna, to perceiving only sound, not taste). Each object of perception, being naturally distinct from other objects, is (by that very distinctness) paricchedya, subject to limitation, and is yet further subject to limitation by the restricted knowledge the senses provide of it, hence the notorious unreliability of sensory perception in any quest for truth.
Any pramāṇa which picks up a distinct piece of knowledge becomes paricchedakam (that which limits) and that which is picked up is paricchedya (something limited, a limited object).
paricchinna
Limited; confined; circumscribed; cut off.
parīkṣā
Examination; analysis; investigation.
pariṇāmaḥ
Evolution; growth; change.
pariṇāmi-upādāṇa-kāraṇam
Material cause (upādāṇa-kāraṇam) that undergoes a change (pariṇāmaḥ) in the very substance or material itself to become an effect, for example, churned butter becomes ghee, burnt wood becomes smoke and ash, a seed transforms into a plant. Here, cause and effect belong to the same order of reality, whereas in vivarta they do not. See upādāna-kāraṇam, vivarta-upādāna-kāraṇam.
paripaśyanti
Clearly see or recognise.
paripūrṇa
Absolutely full. Time, space and all objects are so absolutely 'filled' by consciousness that consciousness is in fact all that is there.
parivrājaka
One who moves along, not staying permanently in one place due to dispassion; one whose home is not in any relative world; an epithet for a sannyāsī.
parokṣa-jñānam
Knowledge, jñāna, that is Indirect, remote, out of direct sight (para, remote, beyond; akṣa, senses). It is knowledge that is not from direct perception and includes reported, read and inferred knowledge. For example: "I heard they arrived safely", "I read about the changed time", "There is smoke; so there is, or has been, fire."
Similarly, when the student understands the śāstram sufficiently well for it to make sense to him that the entire world (all manifestation) is mithyā, its substratum is īśvaraḥ, the self is limitless, and so on, that understanding is indirect, it is parokṣa-jñānam, not yet enough in itself to bring mokṣaḥ. Immediate knowledge, aparokṣa-jñānam, is now needed. See pratyakṣa-jñānam.
pārvatī
Wife of Lord Śivaḥ; daughter of Himāvat; also known as Durgā, Satī, Umā.
paśyantī
Seeing; second stage of the emergence of speech or sound. Parā, the power of speech, after leaving the mūlādhāra cakram, arrives at the manipura cakram where, differentiated by and remaining with a specific emotion, it has now reached the paśyantī stage of being known (seen) – also see parā, madhyamā, vaikharī.
paṭaḥ
Cloth; garment.
pāṭḥaḥ
Chant; recitation; reading; lesson; study.
patiḥ
Lord; husband; protector; lord of the home and the family; the one who, by following dharmaḥ, earns the grace of Bhagavān, the absolute protector of all, thereby protecting his wife, family, the society and culture in which they live, and of course himself.
patnī
Wife; one who, being of a noble, compatible, pleasing, like mind, helps cross the ocean of saṁsāraḥ by always following dharmaḥ.
pauruṣeya-śāstram
Scripture that is of human, not divine, authorship, for example, smṛtiḥ.
phalam
Fruit, result (of something). Its corresponding cause is hetuḥ.
phala-śrutiḥ
A verse or statement showing the benefit of chanting or reciting a given work of verses or mantras; result of hearing; a concluding summary, after śravaṇam, of what has been taught; the benefit to be gained through properly hearing a text being unfolded by a teacher and the praise of that benefit. (Proper hearing is the result of listening without omission, distortion or addition.)
phala-vyāptiḥ
This term refers to the conclusion of the two-part process of perception involved in every form of empirical knowledge. It is the result of operating a pramāṇam, a means of knowledge. In phala-vyāptiḥ the object is known. When, for example, a table is seen, the table is held in awareness as a vṛttiḥ, a thought, one that occupies (pervades) the entire mind for a time. This is vṛtti-vyāptiḥ. The recognition or knowledge of that vṛttiḥ being 'a table' is the result or conclusion of the process of perception. That result is called phala-vyāptiḥ.
That phala-vyāptiḥ, that resulting knowledge, implies a knower. That knower is a vṛttiḥ, a vṛttiḥ that recognises the vṛtti-vyāptiḥ. This knower-vṛttiḥ is the 'I'-thought, aham-vṛttiḥ. Having knower-status, it is called the pramātā, knower, or draṣṭā, seer (both of which are forms of ahaṅkāraḥ).
In knowledge of ātmā, the second operation, phala-vyāptiḥ, is not required, for the 'knower' is resolved in the wake of self-knowledge. Being the self-evident seer/perceiver, ātmā, the source of perception, is not objectifiable and hence cannot be the fruit of perception (no matter how subtle that perception may be). Every perception is possible only because of the ātmā.
piṇḍa-udaka-kriyāḥ
A monthly post-death ritual performed by surviving family members to neutralise the pāpa-karmas that up to three generations of close relatives may have committed when alive. (Piṇḍaḥ, ball of cooked rice.)
pipāsā
Thirst (as in 'thirst for water'; for thirst as in 'anguish or greed' see tṛṣṇā).
pippalaḥ
Sacred fig tree; Ficus Religiosa, commonly called the Peepal or aśvatthaḥ tree.
pitṛ-yajñaḥ
Worship of īśvaraḥ in the form of manes (a Latin term for revered, deceased relatives) by offering rice balls and water, which incurs a blessing for those descendants who perform this sacrifice; one of the five pañcamahā-yajñas.
pluta
Prolonged; a single, unbroken vowel sound, equal in length to three or more immediately successive hrasva (short) mātrā (measures) of sound. See hrasva, short; dīrgha, long.
prabhāvaḥ
Glory; brilliance; splendour; majesty.
prabhuḥ
Self-effulgent (and hence self-evident) lord, master. By stating that ātmā is self-evident, prabhuḥ implies that ātmā is ever effortlessly available for recognition.
prabodhaḥ
Knowledge; awaking (to the mithyā status of the world, etc.). This awaking is the transformation of understanding from 'all is īśvaraḥ' of the karma-yogī into 'I am īśvaraḥ' of the jñānī. (Prabodhanam, action of awakening understanding through teaching.)
It is akin to the waker waking up from being identified with one of the characters in the dream he has just now been experiencing. Having awoken, he knows that the entire dream was dependent on him (his mind) and that it had all arisen in him, was sustained by him and on waking has resolved in him. Now, in prabodhaḥ, there is no more dream, no dream world, no waking world, no jīvaḥ, no īśvaraḥ, there is just oneself, kaivalyam.
pradakṣiṇa
Reverential, clockwise circumambulation of a holy place or person (placing on one's right is a token of respect).
pradhānam
Original, unevolved source material of the universe; undifferentiated matter; synonym of prakṛtiḥ and māyā. (Adj. pradhāna, predominant, primary.)
pradhvaṃsa-abhāvaḥ
Posterior non-existence; non-existence following annihilation or destruction. When something such as a pot is destroyed, the nyāya philosopher claims it ceases to exist, whereas in fact, on being broken, the name and form 'pot' is simply no longer manifest, and existence itself (symbolised here by clay, which was only temporarily in the form of 'pot') remains unaffected. See abhāvaḥ.
prāg-abhāvaḥ
Prior non-existence. Prior to birth, prior to becoming manifest, an object seems not to exist – prior to clay being moulded, no pot is evident and yet the potential pot can validly be said to exist (unmanifest) in the clay, but not, of course, in a material such as water. See abhāvaḥ.
prajā
Offspring; progeny; mankind; citizen/subject (of a nation).
prajāpatiḥ
Lord of all beings; the creator; also known as Brahmā and Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ.
prajñā
Consciousness; awareness; pure knowledge; wisdom svarūpa-jñānam (synonym of prajñānam). Prajñā also means evident, manifest knowledge, vṛtti-jñānam, because pure knowledge is the adhiṣṭhānam or essence and support of all worldly or manifest knowledge.
prājñaḥ
One who is aware, conscious, of the meaning of the śāstram, whose mind is continually absorbed in the self.
Prājñaḥ, a form of ahaṅkāraḥ, is also a term for ātmā identified with the causal body, the kāraṇa-śarīram of the jīvaḥ, in the deep-sleep state, suṣupti-avasthā, thereby temporarily free from the habitual and universal identification of the waking state, that 'I am someone of limited knowledge'.
Identified in ignorance with the causal body, prājñaḥ does not know or apprehend reality, and has no misconceptions about it as the individual mind is inactive in deep sleep.
From the vyaṣṭiḥ perspective, prājñaḥ is an ignorant, individual aspect of ignorance-free īśvaraḥ. From the samaṣṭiḥ perspective, prājñaḥ is īśvaraḥ for their essence is the same: touch a wave, the ocean is touched; touch the ocean, all waves are touched (the essence of both being water). See taijasaḥ, viśvaḥ.
prajñānam
Pure knowledge, pure consciousness; abstract, formless truth; prakarśena jānāti iti prajñānam,prajñānam is that which knows, absolutely, thoroughly, definitely; synonym of jñāptiḥ.
Prajñānam is that which knows without any instrument of knowledge; that which knows by its mere presence; that which, being unqualified awareness, is of the nature of knowing; that because of which the mind, etc., have sentience and function; substratum of vṛtti-jñānam, manifest knowledge.
prajñānaṃ brahma
'Consciousness is Brahman' (Aitareya v3.3). Here, it is being said that Brahman, absolute reality, is pure consciousness, jñaptiḥ (and vice-versa). Pure consciousness is not to be confused with the ordinary consciousness of the waking state, which is consciousness associated with (and taking the form of) thoughts, feelings, perceptions and conceptions. See prajñānam, mahāvākyam and also tattvamasi, ahaṃ brahmāsmi, ayamātmā brahma.
prakāraḥ
Manner; mode; method; sort; type; kind; variety.
prakaraṇa-granthaḥ
A text or treatise (prakaraṇam) that ties or strings together (granthaḥ), systematically, meaningfully and approachably, the concepts and terminology used in the Upaniṣads. Examples include ātma-bodhaḥ, tattva-bodhaḥ, vākya-vṛttiḥ, vivekacūḍāmaṇi.
prakāśaḥ
Light; clearness; brightness; splendour; lustre.
prakriyā
Method; Vedāntaḥ makes use of methods of discriminative, analytical enquiry (vivekaḥ) correcting confusion about ātmā. See...
adhyāropa-apavāda-viveka-prakriyā
avasthā-traya-viveka-prakriyā
dṛg-dṛśya-viveka-prakriyā
kārya-kāraṇa-viveka-prakriyā
pañca-kośa-viveka-prakriyā
śarīra-traya-viveka-prakriyā
sṛṣṭi-viveka-prakriyā
tanmātra-viveka-prakriyā
prakṛtiḥ
Intrinsic nature; absolute, ever-present, unchanging nature of reality (cf. svabhāvaḥ and svarūpam); material cause; origin; a synonym of the three-fold power, māyā, that is, that which is available for and capable of manifestation; consists of the three guṇas.
Prakṛtiḥ has three aspects: when sattvam is more evident, prakṛtiḥ is known as māyā, when rajas is more evident, prakṛtiḥ is known as avidyā, and when tamas is more evident, prakṛtiḥ remains known as prakṛtiḥ (from which a new guṇa balance declines forming the five tanmātras).
pralayaḥ
On the death of the physical body and until its next birth, the jīvaḥ remains in an unmanifest condition (akin to sleep) unless due to spend some time in either svarga-lokaḥ or narakaḥ. See layaḥ, mahā-pralayaḥ and atyanta-pralayaḥ.
pramā
Knowledge. See pramātā, prameyam and pramāṇam.
pramādaḥ
Indifference; apathy; inattention; negligence; slothfulness; inadvertence; mechanicalness. Being apathetic and negligent, lacking seriousness in one's study of Vedāntaḥ is a major limitation on progress and is due to tamas.
pramāṇam
Means of knowledge. A means of knowledge is that which produces accurate, doubt-free knowledge of something meaningful, which has not already been understood or known and that cannot be negated by any other means of knowledge. (See pramātā, prameyam and pramā.) There are six pramāṇas:
anumāna-pramāṇam
anupalabdhi-pramāṇam
arthāpatti-pramāṇam
pratyakṣa-pramāṇam
śabda-pramāṇam
upamāna-pramāṇam

A pramāṇam is only a pramāṇam for an appropriate recipient. Since ātmā is not an object of knowledge, no pramāṇam can reveal it directly. It is not even the subject (the knower) of knowledge. It is the truth, the svarūpam, of the subject and, being so subtle, can be revealed only by what a pramāṇam implies. That implication points to the ever self-evident self, previously obscured by superimpositions caused by ignorance.
pramāṇa-vicāraḥ
Enquiry, vicāraḥ, by means of a valid pramāṇam, means of knowledge. Such an enquiry alone leads to mokṣaḥ. Mokṣaḥ, freedom, is not the product of a 'special experience' as all experiences begin and end while true freedom is ever-present. The vṛtti-jñānam arising from pramāṇa-vicāraḥ alone reveals the knowledge that is mokṣaḥ.
pramātā
Knower (also termed pramātṛ). The actual pramātā, served by every pramāṇam, is the sākṣī. See pramā, prameyam and pramāṇam.
prameyam
The object known; that which is knowable. See pramātā, pramā and pramāṇam.
pramodaḥ
Intense joy, pleasure, delight; degree of happiness: the (much greater) pleasure born of the enjoyment of a desired object; also see priya, modaḥ.
prāṇaḥ
A five-fold vital force accounting for all physiological functioning; also see apānaḥ, elimination; vyānaḥ, circulation; samānaḥ, digestion; udānaḥ, upward breath. When mentioned separately from the other four, prāṇaḥ is purely respiration; the prāṇāḥ are part of the sūkṣma-śarīram.
Five further prāṇas are mentioned by some: nāgaḥ helps belching; kūrmaḥ helps open the eyes; kṛkalaḥ excites hunger; devadattaḥ enables yawning and dhanañjayaḥ nourishes the body.
prāṇamaya-kośaḥ
The kośaḥ that is the modification of air and is the five physiological functions (prāṇaḥ, apānaḥ, vyānaḥ, samānaḥ, udānaḥ) and the five karmendriyas, powers of action (evident in speaking, handling, moving, reproducing, eliminating). Here, there is the potential for mistaken identification with hunger, thirst, good (or bad) health, and with walking, talking, etc. See pañca-kośāḥ, annamaya-kośaḥ, manomaya-kośaḥ, vijñānamaya-kośaḥ, ānandamaya-kośaḥ.
praṇavaḥ
Praṇavaḥ means 'unique name'. It is a name for Oṃ because the word Oṃ, uniquely among words, denotes, is a name for, all objects (everything is Oṃ). Oṃ is the sacred sound-symbol (pratīkaḥ) for īśvaraḥ, the Lord. It is the essence of the entire Vedāḥ.
prāṇāyāmaḥ
Breath (prāṇaḥ), discipline (āyāmaḥ); the discipline of breath control. Since prāṇaḥ is associated with the mind, its properly exercised control assists in quietening the mind as well as in restoring and maintaining bodily health. See prāṇaḥ and aṣṭāṅga-yogaḥ.
praṇidhānam
Meditation upon a deity; prostration; respectful conduct; prayer; vow; (also many other meanings.)
praṇipātaḥ
Prostration; falling at the feet of the teacher in reverential and humble submission. Such prostration demonstrates a desire and gratitude for that which the teacher imparts. It humbly implies: my mind is at your feet and has yet to rise to (and match the thinking in) your head.
It is not reverence for or submission to the person or ego of the teacher, but reverence for and submission to the indwelling vastu, to the truth, the satyam of that which is imparted (thus avoiding any cult of personality). See sāṣṭāṅga-namaskāraḥ.
prapañcaḥ
Universe (manifest or unmanifest); the five-element model of the universe, pāñcabhautikam.
The kāraṇa-prapañcaḥ, the causal world, the sūkṣma-prapañcaḥ the subtle world, and the sthūla-prapañcaḥ the gross world are each an upādhiḥ of īśvaraḥ.
prapañcopaśamaḥ
(In the turīya-ātmā there is) upaśamaḥ, cessation, of prapañcaḥ, cessation of all seeming phenomena.
"Prapañcaḥ refers to the waking world, the universe. Upaśamaḥ literally means absent. Prapañcopaśamaḥ means that even though we experience the world, factually it is not there. It is experientially available, factually non-existent; it is mithyā." Swami Paramarthananda, Māṇḍūkya commentary.
Only ātmā is factually existent. All else is the phenomenal (mithyā) manifestation of māyā.
prāptasya prāptiḥ
Attainment (prāptiḥ) of the already attained.
prārabdha-karma
In the case of all living beings, ripe portions of sañcita-karma (all of which, ripe or unripe, is stored in māyā) fructify and manifest as prārabdha-karma (destiny). Prārabdha is karma that has already begun, ārabdha, and includes birth, parentage, death – all the events and situations of this present life.
Prārabdha-karma may take three forms: that which produces fruit (results) in the absence of desire, that which does so with desire, and that which does so through the desire of another.
An individual's response to prārabdha is very much influenced by vāsanā, which may produce responses in the form of actions, karma, that have subsequent results, karma.
Prārabdha-karma, the manifest, fructifying portions of sañcita, is experienced as translations of puṇya-pāpam in the form of sukham, happiness, and duḥkham, sorrow, thereby exhausting some of the sañcita's store of puṇyam and pāpam. All the unseen results of action (karma), unspent or freshly accruing, are stored as unmanifest puṇya-pāpam in māyā, the universal causal body. (The individual causal body, the kāraṇa-śarīram, is the individual aspect of māyā and stores vāsanās, individual tendencies, attitudes, tastes, etc., but not individual karma.)
The severity of the impact of strong prārabdha (prabala-prārabdha) may perhaps be mitigated somewhat by prayer or austerity, but must be faced. Weak prārabdha (abala-prārabdha) may be fully or partially overcome by prayer, austerity, etc. The prārabdha experienced in dream is also abala-prārabdha.
As for the apparent conflict between free will and destiny, since all that is here is omniscient īśvaraḥ, his will appears as both the dhṛtiḥ, the free will of people, and as their destiny. If (desire-driven) prārabdha could not be overcome, a person could not be held responsible for his actions. He would not have choice. However, individual free will has its limits, it is not absolute.
The total number of breaths in each lifetime is set at birth by prārabdha-karma, to which prāṇaḥ (in the form of udānaḥ) is directly connected. That number cannot be increased or decreased.
Prārabdha-karma is an expression of the law of karma and is thus part of īśvara-sṛṣṭiḥ (not jīva-sṛṣṭiḥ). Just as an arrow travels as it may, prārabdha-karma (of the wise too) runs its course. And yet, for the jñānī, awake to the fact 'I am Brahman', prārabdha-karma (being now known to be mithyā) is no more real and has no more impact or value than a prior dream has for a person awake. See āgāmi-karma, sañcita-karma, pratibandhaḥ.
prārthanā
Prayer; entreaty; request; supplication; desire.
prasādaḥ
Tranquillity; serenity; cheerfulness; clearness; gift from Bhagavān. Since all that is here is Bhagavān – all actions and their results, all events and their participants, all pairs of opposites – all and everything is a gift from Bhagavān. Properly knowing this brings a quiet, cheerful serenity. See karma-yogaḥ.
prasaktiḥ
Attachment in which the mind is strongly stuck; confusion due to fixed adherence to an idea or belief.
praśaṃsā
Praise; admiration; compliment.
prasannātmā
One whose mind (ātmā) is cheerful. This important emotional disposition is the natural outcome of living a life of karma-yogaḥ. Knowledge of brahman (brahma-niṣṭhā, steadiness in brahman) is possible only when one is happy with oneself, because only then is the mind untroubled enough for steady nididhyāsanam, contemplation.
praśānta-citta
Tranquil-minded; naturally cheerful and quiet (due to vairāgyam); ready to take both pleasant and unpleasant situations in one's stride; one of the two primary qualities needed for studying Vedāntaḥ – see the other one, śamānvita. (The adjective praśānta can also mean 'free from modification' since a departure from tranquility involves change.)
praśnaḥ
Question; query; enquiry. Teaching should occur only in response to questions or enquiries, meaning in response to a sincere desire to know, not from a desire to teach. (This is the principal reason that Vedāntaḥ shuns proselytisation.)
Questions need to be put properly, which means with reverence for the teaching and with respect for and trust in the teacher (and certainly not in an attempt to test the teacher).
Anupraśnaḥ means a question from a disciple who is listening and whose question is in keeping with what the teacher has taught.
Praśna-bījam is the seed (cause) of a question. It refers either to the unresolved doubt from which the question has arisen, or to the unspoken situation, doubt or misunderstanding that is behind the question and that has prompted the actual question asked.
Praśnaḥ is the name of one of the ten major Upaniṣads in which six people ask one question each and Śrī Ṛṣiḥ Pippalādaḥ answers them all.
prasthāna-trayam
Set of three great texts of scriptural literature, namely Upaniṣads, Bhagavad-Gītā and Brahma-Sūtrāṇi. Since all three (trayam) have their source or origin (prasthānam) in the Upaniṣads (śruti-prasthānam) and so have the same content, they are known collectively as Vedāntaḥ. The Bhagavad-Gītā is an independent text, part of the Mahābhāratam (smṛti-prasthānam). The Brahma-Sūtrāṇi are an analytical study of Upaniṣad mantras (nyāya-prasthānam).
pratibandhaḥ
Obstacle; obstruction; impediment; hindrance; hurdle; that which 'blocks against' (bandha, bound; prati, back). Pratibandhas are misunderstandings, mistaken attitudes, false ideas and adverse circumstances that block both the appreciation and rise of true knowledge. They are in three main categories: malaḥ (consisting of various forms of rāga-dveṣaḥ) secondly vikṣepaḥ and thirdly āvaraṇam (which includes asambhavaḥ and viparīta-bhāvanā). All are the result of pāpa-karma. They can be neutralised by puṇya-karma.
In brief, karma-yogaḥ removes malaḥ, impurity, upāsāna-yogaḥ removes vikṣepaḥ, distraction (and hence brings focus, ekāgram) and jñāna-yogaḥ removes āvaraṇam, the covering created by ignorance.
prātibhāsika-satyam
Subjective (mithyā) reality; personal, subjective view; mistaken notions; unknown fears; all forms of personal, subjective mental projections and interpretations of the world. It is a satyam that exists only in appearance and yet may have a strong influence. In the famous rajju-sarpa-nyāyaḥ, rope-snake example, the 'seen' snake is a subjective misperception and misinterpretation of a (dimly lit) rope. The rope belongs to vyāvahārika-satyam, the mistaken snake is a prātibhāsika-satyam.
Prātibhāsika-satyam is the reality experienced by the unenlightened jīvaḥ. It includes common subjective interpretations such as "I am clever/stupid" "She is nice/horrible" "This is taking a long time". Both prātibhāsika-satyam and vyāvahārika-satyam are falsified in pāramārthika-satyam.
pratibimba-caitanyam
Pure, unconditioned consciousness reflected in the antaḥ-karaṇam and (seemingly) limited by that (like the Sun being reflected in various pots of water); see cidābhāsaḥ.
pratibimba-vādaḥ
Reflection (pratibimbaḥ) model (vādaḥ). A model or teaching device showing how the one ātmā 'becomes' many due to multiple reflections of the one consciousness, just as the Sun appears to be many when reflected in several pots of water. Here, each reflection of the Sun has something of the power of the Sun in that each reflection illumines its own mass of water – like this, reflection of consciousness in individual minds creates individual conscious beings. Also see avaccheda-vādaḥ and ābhāsa-vādaḥ – all such models have their merits and flaws. See vādaḥ.
pratijñā
Declaration; statement; proposition; assertion. A declarattion is often followed by a dṛṣṭāntaḥ, an illustration or example, to help convey its meaning. For instance, the statement (pratijñā) that "pure consciousness is the substratum of all" is illustrated (dṛṣṭāntaḥ) by "just as gold is the substratum of all gold ornaments." See dṛṣṭāntaḥ.
pratīkaḥ
A limbless form, niravayava-mūrtiḥ, for example, a śiva-liṅgam, a śālagrāmaḥ (a naturally formed small piece of sacred stone symbolising Lord Viṣṇuḥ); Oṃ, a sound-symbol for the Lord. Each pratīkaḥ or pratimā acts as an ālambanam, a support or aid for attention during meditation or worship. See pratimā.
pratimā
A form-symbol (with limbs) for the Lord; a personification; typically a life-like idol or statue, a murtiḥ. See pratīkaḥ.
pratipādaka-pratipādya-sambandhaḥ
Revealer-revealed connection. Between the śāstram and the knowledge that is mokṣaḥ, there is a revealer-revealed connection – śāstram alone reveals that knowledge. See anubandha-catuṣṭayam.
prātipadikam
Base or uninflected form of a word; the form a word takes prior to its having a declinable status.
pratipakṣa-bhāvanā
Deal with an adverse emotion or tendency in oneself by deliberately cultivating one that opposes it, or is even its opposite. For example, love may counter hate, or admiration may overcome jealousy. (Poor habits are removed by creating new ones that oppose and displace them, thus good habits can overcome bad ones.) Although this practice helps deal with rāga-dveṣas and their related emotions, it is primarily intended to bring a more comprehensive or total perspective to situations, neutralising any limited or partial view.
pratipattiḥ
Ascertainment; determination; knowledge; attainment.
pratiṣedhaḥ
Negation to eliminate or ward off or prevent error; negation of whatever is not true as a means to that which is true. (To prepare the mind for that which is true, it is usually necessary first to dismiss or negate whatever is untrue. The truth is then best revealed by implication, thus avoiding the literalness or grossness in thought that definition can bring.)
Jñāna vṛttiḥ (the liberating understanding) negates dvaita prapañcaḥ (the world of duality) as well as itself. Here, negation is not absence or disappearance or non-existence of a notion or object, but its falsification as mithyā, dependently real. When ajnānam, ignorance, is removed, not only the whole world of duality disappears, but the jñāna vṛttiḥ itself disappears, so there is no duality, leaving only the self-evident true self.
pratiṣiddha-karma
Prohibited or forbidden actions – see Gītā, Ch.16 – also called niṣiddha-karma (restrained, checked, prevented action); actions that go against the specific prescription of dharmaḥ and accumulate pāpam, unwelcome results.
Also see the four possible results of action: utpattiḥ (utpādyam) production; vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam) modification; āptiḥ (āpyam) attainment; saṁskṛtiḥ (saṁskāryam) refinement.
pratiṣṭhā
Basis, support (pratiṣṭhita, established; rooted; installed; well founded).
pratītiḥ
Complete understanding or ascertainment; conviction; obviousness; clear perception; delight; clarity.
pratyabhijñā
Recognition (of a fact). A term used to indicate recognition of, for example, the fact that 'I' is fundamentally one-and-the-same conscious being in waking, dream and deep sleep. This one divisionless awareness is turīya.
pratyabhijñā kālaḥ
Objects experienced in a dream exist (are limited to) the time of perception in the dream. In contrast, objects in the waking state are available at two periods of time, namely at the time of first perception and again later, when recognised. Nevertheless, both being forms of perception, they're both mithyā.
pratyagātmā
Innermost self; reality obtaining as the svarūpam of 'I'. The word 'innermost' does not mean merely inside the body but inside the entire jagat as its all-pervading existence and substratum. The ātmā, the true self, is said to be innermost (pratyak) because nāma-rūpam, names and forms, as though hide it. They 'hide' it only because of our gross-minded preoccupation with them. Therefore, it is necessary to turn one's attention from the world of names and forms to the very existence that pervades them. That existence is also the svarūpam of the innermost (subtlest) sense of 'I'. The necessary subtlety of intellect for the proper appreciation and practice of all this is what establishes a brāhmaṇaḥ as a brāhmaṇaḥ.
pratyāhāraḥ
Gathering the mind and senses (withdrawing them from a variety of concerns) in order to be able to focus on something; a prelude to dhāraṇā. See aṣṭāṅga-yogaḥ.
pratyakṣam
Direct perception; direct knowledge via perception includes sense-perception (hearing, seeing, tasting, etc) and, as such, is one of the six pramāṇas (means of knowledge). But direct perception is not limited to the senses: it can be sense perception (indriya-pratyakṣam) or witness perception (sākṣī-pratyakṣam). Direct perception is therefore the root or basic perception, the 'root' means of knowledge (mūla-pramāṇam). See the other pramāṇas: anumānam, anupalabdhiḥ, arthāpattiḥ, śabdaḥ, upamānam.
pratyakṣa-jñānam
Knowledge of proximate objects derived from direct sensory perception (prati, presented; akṣa, to the senses). See parokṣa-jñānam, aparokṣa-jñānam.
pratyavāya-doṣaḥ
Limitation, error or fault, doṣaḥ, of omission, pratyavāyaḥ (of a duty); backsliding; neglect of duty; sin of omission. See doṣaḥ, vaiṣamya-nairghṛṇya-doṣaḥ and viṣaya-doṣaḥ.
pratyayaḥ
Cognition; conviction; notion; conception; intelligence; idea; proof; explanation; solution. When a house is pointed out saying 'that house, there', the meaning of the word 'house' is cognised as 'that particular house'. That cognition is not in the form of words, but is the (silent) meaning carried by the words. It is the intended meaning of 'that house'. In grammar, pratyayaḥ means 'suffix'. See vṛttiḥ.
pravacanam
Lecture; discourse; exposition; eloquent speech; oral instruction; mantra-recitation. Attending discourses must be accompanied by total commitment to mokṣaḥ for pravacanam to be fully and properly useful.
pravāha-nityatvam
Perennial eternity – that which keeps returning with every creation, every kalpaḥ. For example, even though the knowledge that is the Vedaḥ unfailingly arises with each creation, its repeated emergence means it is time-bound and hence it is perennially (not absolutely) eternal. See pāramārthika-nityatvam, absolute eternity.
pravilāpanam
Resolution; solution; disentanglement; clarification; conclusion. Resolution is not, as some think, a dissolution or destruction of name and form in Brahman, it is a cognitive resolution of the pot in its substratum, clay (and similarly, of the pot-space in space). There is no need to destroy the pot to appreciate that what is there is clay! In fact, there is nothing to destroy. It is only in knowledge of the vastu that everything gets resolved.
pravṛttiḥ
Activity; participation in the world; full involvement in worldly life; usually entails giving primacy to preyas rather than śreyas – see nivṛttiḥ.
prāyaścitta-karma
An expiatory karma, action – a specific ritual performed to neutralise (or perhaps at best weaken) the results of previous wrong action. (Prāyaścitta-karma is also known as parihāra-karma.)
Also see the four possible results of action: utpattiḥ (utpādyam) production; vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam) modification; āptiḥ (āpyam) attainment; saṁskṛtiḥ (saṁskāryam) refinement.
prayatnaḥ
Appropriate, sufficient effort; perseverance. "Individual effort is not futile, it is the Lord himself who manifests (vivartate) in the form of personal effort." Pañcadaśī 6.177. The Lord manifests as the grace of seeing/knowing that which is true or real, which is the essence of will, dhṛtiḥ. See saṅkalpaḥ.
prayojanam
Purpose; object; gain; utility; benefit. See anubandha-catuṣṭayam.
prema
Love; kindness; tender regard (all too often, mere attachment, rāgaḥ, is mistaken for love).
preta-śarīram
On leaving the body at death, and while awaiting a new birth, the jīvaḥ takes a preta-śarīram, an after-death body (preta, departed, dead) an invisible thought-form that is subtle, like the sūkṣma-śarīram.
For an untimely death, such as suicide – a death that leaves a portion of prārabdha-karma unexhausted – the departed jīvaḥ will be caught up in a preta-śarīram until that portion of prārabdha is exhausted (the term preta-śarīram includes ghosts).
At no time can the jīvaḥ be without a body. Depending on its place or destination, it is given an appropriate one in which different elements are predominant. In the dream state, svapna-avasthā, for example, the 'material' body that is present is different from that of the waking state. In Heaven, Fire is the predominant element in bodies; in the region of the Moon it is Water; on Earth, the predominant element is Earth.
preyaḥ (preyas)
All beneficial, relative, time-bound ends (arthaḥ, kāmaḥ, dharmaḥ) accomplishable through religious and secular activity that is in line with dharmaḥ; any desired result other than mokṣaḥ (śreyas).
Śreyas, which is of the nature of vivekaḥ, and preyas, which is of the nature of avivekaḥ, are mutually exclusive. They cannot be followed simultaneously, only sequentially, as śreyas is associated with vidyā, and preyas with avidyā.
The word preyas can also be used to refer to the means for the attainment of the above ends, namely karma-yogaḥ.
prītiḥ
Love – love is not a verb, no one can 'do' love on demand. Love is the manifestation of the fullness of ānandaḥ. "Love is non-fault-finding accommodation."*
priya
Dear; pleased; beloved; priyam (noun), a degree of happiness: the pleasure born of seeing something desired. See modaḥ, pramodaḥ.
pṛthivī
The element Earth; subtle aspect of odour; the element appreciable through sound, touch, sight, taste and odour; also see pāñcabhautikam the five-element model of the universe – ākāśaḥ, space; vāyuḥ, air; agniḥ, fire; āpaḥ, waters; pṛthivī, earth.
pūjā
Formal worship. Worship is a symbolic act of offering through which a devotee expresses his/her gratitude to the Lord, to īśvaraḥ, in the form of all devatās (natural phenomena) acknowledging the abundance of their contribution to the wellbeing of all. The basic needs required for life (food, clothing and shelter) are not producible without the grace of these phenomena. Worship, being a will-involved action, is efficacious in that it results in prosperity. Worship contributes for material things when performed with a desire for knowledge. It also serves as a preparatory discipline, yogaḥ, that brings mental purity and steadiness.
Worship and prayer earn the Lord's grace, which neutralises accumulated pāpa-karma, thereby removing obstacles to the manifestation of the knowledge the student of Vedāntaḥ has gained. Then, that true knowledge, being now unobstructed, shines. See yajñaḥ.
pūjya
Revered; venerable; worthy of being worshipped.
puṃliṅgam
Masculine gender; masculine; see strīliṅgam.
punaḥ
Again; once again.
puṇya-karma
Action (karma) that is in line with dharmaḥ. In addition to its immediate, seen result (a dṛṣṭa-phalam) an action in line with dharmaḥ has a later, unseen result (an adṛṣṭa-phalam) that is pleasant. The unseen result, which is also in the form of puṇyam, manifests as a welcome, auspicious situation or experience later in this life or in a future one.
Any immediate or later pain appearing to arise from a virtuous action is not due to that action but to the arising (fructification) of previously earned, unrelated pāpam. See pāpa-karma.
puṇyam
The meritorious or beneficial influence or quality arising from right or appropriate action, from action that aligns with universal values. The resulting beneficial influence remains unseen, adṛṣṭa, until manifesting later as sukham, a pleasing, desirable event or situation. Any pleasant, beneficial situation is the result of puṇya-karma. Specific puṇyam is exhausted by specific experience. See pāpam, vāsanā, saṁskāraḥ, dharmaḥ.
puṇya-pāpam
Puṇya-pāpam, the unseen result of right or wrong action, karma, is stored in a dormant, unmanifest form in māyā. It manifests in due time as happiness or sorrow within the various situations and events of life. That manifestation is known as prārabdha-karma. The responses to those situations and events may perpetuate saṁsāraḥ.
The world is not responsible for anyone's happiness or unhappiness. It is only ever instrumental in the manifestation of the puṇyam and pāpam earned (the tally of which is said to be kept by Citraguptaḥ). See puṇyam, pāpam, sañcita-karma and pūrva-janma-puṇyam.
puram (purī)
Town; city; sanctuary; body (brahma-puram is used figuratively to indicate Brahman's 'place' or 'abode').
purāṇam
Legend; antique; ancient; mythology; relic; huge body of ancient, inspirational and highly informative Hindu mythology with the status of smṛtiḥ. A wide variety of topics is covered in thousands of verses. Vyāsaḥ is the author of 36 purāṇas (18 mahā-purāṇas and 18 upa-purāṇas). See itihāsaḥ.
Purāṇaḥ means ātmā, implying its nature of being beginningless (the most ancient) but ever new and fresh.
pūrṇa
Full; whole; entire; complete; filled; pervaded. (pūrṇatvam, fullness, a state in which one is totally relaxed, there is no longer any distress or dissatisfaction and there is a sense of total fulfillment within oneself – the nature of ātmā). See apūrṇatvam.
purohitaḥ
A priest who performs prayers or rituals, before, purā, in advance, for the (later) well-being, hitam, of all; a vaidikaḥ.
pūrta-karma
Karma, action, enjoined by smṛtis – mostly charitable, social service acts (with no strings attached) such as digging wells or reservoirs, building hospitals or temples, feeding the needy. Such acts generate puṇyam.
puruṣaḥ
Person; man; original source of the cosmos; the Supreme Being; the very self, ātmā, of a human being, who dwells in all as the essence of all, who dwells in the 'city', puram, the body of nine gates (two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, mouth, genitals, anus); pure uṣati iti puruṣaḥ, the only indweller of all bodies; purayati sarvam iti puruṣaḥ, fills everything, thus puruṣaḥ.
puruṣārthaḥ
Human pursuit or goal; that which is sought by a human being, puruṣeṇa arthyate iti – see arthaḥ, kāmaḥ, dharmaḥ, mokṣaḥ.
puruṣārtha-niścayaḥ
Definiteness, complete clarity and certainty about one's ultimate, absolute end being mokṣaḥ, namely freedom from unhappiness, freedom from the sense of limitation. This certainty, this very well-ascertained conclusion, brings a change in priorities, and with it an unerring focus, commitment, to the pursuit of knowledge and reverence for Vedānta-śāstram as the means of knowledge.
It is a certainty that arises from a careful examination of one's life experiences in which it becomes clear that actions, being finite, can at best bring limited happiness. I see that everywhere, in everything, I am only ever pursuing happiness and so I need to discover the true nature of happiness. Being clear that this is my primary aim, shallow pursuits tend to fall away naturally. See śreyaḥ (śreyas) and preyaḥ (preyas).
puruṣottama
Most exalted (uttama) of all puruṣas, beings; a name for īśvaraḥ.
pūrva-janma-puṇyam
This term refers to some puṇyam, some meritorious, beneficial situation, attribute or event in this present life, which is the lawful fruit of action in a pūrvam, earlier, janma, birth (not in this current one). Its opposite, pūrva-janma-pāpam, similarly occurs. Since the result or fruit of karma needs time to ripen, that earlier life may be a far distant one.
pūrvapakṣī
Someone who presents an alternative opinion or contention, typically from an earlier, pūrva, established belief system or opposing side, pakṣaḥ, in a discussion; an objector (real or imagined) who is often presented in commentaries not only to reveal the flaws in opposing views, but, in the process, to provide the reader with further clarity and precision in grasping the commentator's words and vision, dṛṣṭiḥ.
The pakṣaḥ, the flawed contention, should be presented first by the teacher, showing how it is flawed. Then the siddhāntaḥ, the correct conclusion, should be presented. Dismissing wrong notions first is a necessary step in unencumbering the mind in preparation for hearing that which is right.
puṣṭiḥ
Health; wellness; strength; stamina; well-nourished condition.
putraḥ
Son; for a vaidikaḥ, one who lives a Vedic life, the rearing of progeny who live a life of dharmaḥ is a noble duty that protects dharmaḥ, a duty whose fulfilment avoids hell for the vaidikaḥ. (Trāyate, protects; the one who protects parents from falling into put, a particular hell; the same protection is provided by a putrī, a daughter.)
rāga-dveṣaḥ
Attachment and aversion, arising as the impulse of like and dislike (I want, and I want to not have). Since likes and dislikes (desires or wants) are anchored on ahaṅkāraḥ – the erroneous and varying ideas of oneself – rāga-dveṣas can bind a person to karma, hindering or even preventing right action.
Attachment and aversion are harmless and normal when expressions of preference or care, but when that preference or care becomes an emotional dependence or demand, it binds us to an action and its outcome.
In emotional dependence, rāga-dveṣas are taken to be absolutely real, which means their status is falsely raised from mithyā to satyam. When this occurs, even renunciates can be felled by attachment and aversion and again become embroiled in saṁsāraḥ. One who lives at the whim of like and dislike foregoes freedom.
Managing rāga-dveṣas leads to a mind that is capable of focused, distraction-free attention on that which is known to be important. Only a distraction-free mind can be a profound mind; only a profound mind is capable of hearing and recognising profound truth profoundly. See malaḥ, pratibandhaḥ, vairāgyam and karma-yogaḥ.
rāgaḥ
Attachment; passion; strong liking; dependence on the world for one's happiness; red colour; inflammation; see vairāgyam, dveṣaḥ, kleśaḥ.
rahasyam
A secret; mystery; concealed; private; privately.
rahita
Without; devoid of; separated from (opposite of sahita).
rajaḥ (rajas)
Guṇaḥ or force out of which desire, ambition, sin, etc. are born (adj. rājasika). The term rajas is the name given to the manifestation of the kriyā-śaktiḥ, the power of activity inherent in māyā.
When rajas is predominant it completely colours or stains the mind, bringing passion (strong desires, strong likes and dislikes) and hence action to fulfil them. A rājasika person is therefore restless, full of longing (tṛṣṇā) and strong attachment (āsaṅgaḥ), and is dependent on action and its results (in the form of pleasure, enjoyment, achievements, etc.) for his/her happiness, leading to deeply entrenched bondage. Bondage to (identification with) a rājasika mental disposition greatly increases the likelihood of committing pāpam. Also see sattvam (sattva), tamaḥ (tamas).
rajju-sarpa-nyāyaḥ
Rope-snake illustration of the power of ignorance, avidyā, in which a dimly-lit rope, rajjus, is mistaken for a snake, sarpaḥ, and fear strikes. The mistaking of one object for another (in this instance, a rope for a snake) is called arthādhyāsaḥ, resulting in a reality that is prātibhāsika, subjective. The rope's subsequent illumination, revealing it for what it actually is, symbolises the liberating 'lamp' of knowledge of the śrutiḥ, brought by the guruḥ, dispelling darkness and fear.
Knowledge of the rope is sufficient to banish the snake. No action is needed to do so. On recognition of the rope, the snake goes forever and liberation from the fear is both simultaneous and irreversible.
Ignorance of the rope is beginningless, for there was no knowledge of rope prior to 'snake' and no presence of 'snake' before it appeared. The best that can be said is that the ignorance was there on seeing the snake. If ignorance of the rope did have a beginning, there would have been a prior knowledge of rope, which there wasn't. Neither can the snake be said to be in the rope nor on the rope, nor to have originated in the rope, for the rope is unknown (and yet is all that really exists). All that is known is 'snake' (and fear) and the 'is-ness' in which they occur.
It can be said that the snake is mistakenly projected or superimposed on the 'situation' (not on the rope, which, until illumined, remains unknown, as good as unmanifest and not the cause of fear) because whatever is in fact there is simply not being seen correctly and is apparently displaced by that which is not properly there, the mithyā snake and the consequent mithyā fear.
Ignorance, avidyā, is not connected in any way to the rope, and ignorance exists only as long as ignorance is there. "Ignorance belongs to the one who sees it."* Note: all analogies have flaws. Here, an observer of the rope/snake must be imagined for the analogy to work. See avidyā, āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ and nyāyaḥ.
rākṣasaḥ
A person who goes against dharmaḥ in pursuit of wealth, power, position, etc.; predominant guṇaḥ is rajas – see asuraḥ.
rāmāyaṇam
Vālmīkī's epic describing the adventures of Lord Rāmaḥ.
rasaḥ
A sense-object, a viṣayaḥ, perceptible through the tongue or mind and known as 'taste'; aesthetic sentiment; essence (either of a liquid or of reality); juice; content.
In Taittirīya (Anuvāka 7) the word rasaḥ is used to mean ānandaḥ, the essence of happiness, the svarūpam of Brahman.
rasāsvādaḥ
So appreciating, so enjoying the calmness and beauty of meditation that one becomes attached to that stillness, to that beauty, and holds onto it (such attachment is one of the four hindrances to meditation – the others are: kaṣāyam, layaḥ and vikṣepaḥ).
rātriḥ
Night
rogaḥ
Disease; (bhāva-rogaḥ, disease of saṁsāraḥ). Any dis-ease, any absence of ease, is indicative of not being comfortable with oneself. Abiding in ātmā brings complete freedom from even the slightest discomfort or lack of ease.
Just as medicine removes disease and does not create health, knowledge removes ignorance and does not create freedom; freedom is innate, like health. Disease inhibits health; ignorance inhibits freedom.
ṛṣiḥ
Rishi; seer of truth; inspired sage; one who is eligible to have subtle facts revealed; one who does not get caught up in any place or situation; one who knows. Ṛṣati paśyati iti ṛṣiḥ, one who sees (knows) is called a ṛṣiḥ. He does not create the Veda mantras on their emergence from the unmanifest at the beginning of the universe, he only sees the mantras that are already there.
ṛṣiyajñaḥ
Worship of īśvaraḥ in the form of the rishis (sages) by studying and chanting the Vedas and other śāstras given to mankind; synonym of brahma-yajñaḥ; study of the Vedaḥ or of any scriptural literature reflecting the Vedic vision, dṛṣṭiḥ. One of the five pañcamahā-yajñas.
ṛtam
Truth; the two words, ṛtam and satyam, have the same meaning: truth. However, when they come together they differ in what they express. Ṛtam then stands for ascertained, assimilated, clear knowledge gained by scriptural study. Satyam stands for that same knowledge reflected in thought, word and deed.
When used separately, satyam means the truth as you see it: your honest, accurate expression of what you see or understand (even if it's later found to be factually incorrect). However, ṛtam means flawless truth, truth that can never be negated. Truth that is accepted by the ṛṣis and is in keeping with śāstram is ṛtam.
rudra
Terrible; dreadful; horrible; formidable; crying.
rudraḥ
One who drives away sorrow (rutam drāvayati iti); name of Śivaḥ; a hymn addressed to Rudraḥ, deity of ahaṅkāraḥ.
rūpam
Form; appearance; nature; a sense-object, viṣayaḥ, subtle or gross, perceptible through the eyes or mind and known as 'form, shape'.
śabda-anuviddha-savikalpa-samādhiḥ
A meditation, dhyānam (a contemplation, nididhyāsanam) using words, śabdāḥ, from the scriptures to help shift the attention from nāma-rupam, name and form, to absorption in that pure consciousness that is the source of manifestation.
Words from the śāstram (such as ayam ātmā pūrṇaḥ, this self is complete) may best be dwelt upon when their meaning is not only properly and fully understood, but is so well-established that on hearing them the meaning immediately flashes in the mind without a pause for translation. Dwelling (contemplating) upon the meaning then becomes a means of absorption, samādhiḥ, in the self as the words are the truth of oneself. There arises absorption in the very consciousness that illumines the meaning. See dṛśya-anuviddha-savikalpa-samādhiḥ and also samādhiḥ, savikalpa-samādhiḥ and nirvikalpa-samādhiḥ.
śabdaḥ
Sound; word (a meaningful sound); a sense-object (viṣayaḥ), subtle or gross, perceptible through the ears and mind and known as 'sound'.
śabda-pramāṇam
Word or meaningful sound, śabdaḥ, as a means of knowledge, pramāṇam. This term refers to the words of the śāstram (Vedāntaḥ) being a means of knowledge, a means to mokṣaḥ. Since the manifest world is the self-evident ātmā, no further experience of ātmā is needed. Only the words of the śāstram, unfolded by a teacher who knows the sampradāyaḥ, and is both a śrotriyaḥ and a brahma-niṣṭhā, can correct the errors about ātmā and bring its full and clear ascertainment through what the words of the śāstram imply.
The words of the śāstram do not act as a pramāṇam by pointing directly to ātmā (as if it were an object). It is too subtle for that. Instead they show what it is not, leaving it to be revealed by what that negation implies. See niśedha-vākyam.
Śabda-pramāṇam involves only enquiry into the vastu, not into the ignorance that covers it. The aim of the enquiry is to know the vastu, not the ignorance.
Knowledge in the form of words constitutes one of the six pramāṇas – the others are: anumānam, anupalabdhiḥ, arthāpattiḥ, pratyakṣam, upamānam.
śabda-pravṛtti-hetuḥ
The cause (hetuḥ) for elucidation (pravṛtti) by words (śabda). An object must fulfil certain conditions for it to be describable and so the direct meaning of words about an object must fall within one or more of four categories.
jātiḥ - species
guṇaḥ - attribute
kriyā - action
sambandhaḥ - connection or relation
Not being an object, Brahman does not fall into any of these four categories. Therefore, it cannot be revealed by the direct meaning of any words – although it can be and is revealed by the implied meaning of certain words: see abhidheyam and śabda-pramāṇam.
saccidānandaḥ
Sat, existence; cit awareness or consciousness; ānandaḥ happiness. These three words are not describing three different things, they are three words for one thing, absolute reality. That reality is a timeless, non-transactable, all-pervading, independent spiritual principle, unlimited by name, form or function. The nature of absolute reality, Brahman, can be arrived at only as the intrinsic nature or truth of the knower, the subject, 'I'. It cannot be known as an object at all: na vijñātervijñātāraṃ vijānīyāḥ. "You cannot know [as an object] that which is the knower of knowledge [you cannot know as a distinguishable entity that witness-consciousness, that pure consciousness that makes knowledge itself possible]." Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 3.4.2
Consciousness, being self-existent, is not dependent on the known for its existence. Instead, the known is dependent on the knower, consciousness, for its existence. The knower alone is appreciable in the form of the existence of the world, and since the knower is consciousness, consciousness is existence, cit is sat. Consciousness alone is of the nature of fullness, ānandaḥ, which is limitless, unqualified happiness.
sadānandaḥ
The true, unlimited, non-fading happiness that is ātmā, a happiness that, being one's true nature, can never be experienced directly as an object. It is knowable only via its reflection in a mind capable of reflecting it.
sadātmaka
Having its being in sat, reality.
Usually, adjectives describe attributes, for example, red lips, hot water. However, some adjectives reference substance, for example, a clay pot, a gold ring, revealing the existence or truth of the object (on which the object depends). There is no ring or pot separate from or other than the gold or clay. Similarly, in 'the person is existent, conscious and happy' the words existent, conscious and happy refer not to attributes of the person but to his/her very substance, for Vedāntaḥ maintains they indicate the very reality of the person.
ṣaḍ-bhāva-vikāraḥ
The six (ṣaḍ) modifications (vikāra) of the jîva's state of being (bhāvaḥ):
asti - existence (in the womb)
jāyate - birth
vardhate - growth
vipariṇāmate - maturation
apakṣīyate - decline and decay
vinaśyati - destruction, death
sādhakaḥ
A disciplined aspirant.
sādhana-catuṣṭayam
The group of four qualifications needed for ātmajñānam or mokṣaḥ.
Vedāntaḥ is a pramāṇam for self-knowledge only when the student is sufficiently qualified. As a minimum, sufficient qualification is a mind that is clear enough to hear the teaching fully, without distortion or addition. The distortions and additions take the form of mental pollutants such as agitation, arrogance, complacency, attachments, aversions, dullness – and especially lack of objectivity towards one's mind. The four qualifications are: vivekaḥ, vairāgyam, ṣaṭka-sampattiḥ, mumukṣutvam.
sādhanam
A means of attainment (a means for accomplishing a goal). The means for attaining liberation from sorrow are:
karma yogaḥ for removal of malaḥ, mental impurity.
upāsanam for removing vikṣepaḥ, mental preoccupations and agitations.
śravaṇam for removal of ajñānam, ignorance.
mananam for removal of saṁśayaḥ, doubts.
nididhyāsanam for removal of viparīta bhāvanā, age-old habitual thinking.
All of this necessitates making full use of the words of the śāstram, unfolded by a competent and knowledgeable ācāryaḥ who is a śrotriyaḥ, brahma-niṣṭhā and sampradāyavit.
Karma is a sādhanam for artha-kāma-dharmas. Jñānam is the sādhanam for mokṣaḥ.
sādhana-sādhya-sambandhaḥ
The connection between a sādhana, a practice or means and its sādhya, goal or aim. See anubandha-catuṣṭayam.
sādhāraṇa
Universal; common to all; general.
sādharmyam
Sameness of nature.
sādhuḥ
A good person; a person of values; noble; a pious, highly disciplined, virtuous aspirant; a renunciate; a sannyāsī.
sādhyam
A goal to be accomplished.
ṣaḍ-liṅgāni
Where there is disagreement about the true purport and aim of a text, analysis is needed to establish the truth. The hermeneutics, the six indications by which the true tātparyam, purport, of a text may be established are:
upakrama-upasaṃhāraḥ - beginning and end (consistency of)
apūrvatā - uniqueness (not knowable by other means)
upapattiḥ - proof (as established by reasoning)
arthavādaḥ - explanation (of meaning)
phalam - result (its nature)
abhyāsaḥ - repetition (of same idea elsewhere)
sadyomuktiḥ
Mokṣaḥ attained here, now, in this life (sadyaḥ - immediately, now); synonym of jīvanmuktiḥ. This is the proper aim for the jīvaḥ. See videhamuktiḥ
saguṇa-brahma
Brahman regarded as having qualities or attributes, saguṇa, and hence also known as aparambrahma, non-supreme brahman. Saguṇam brahma is a synonym for both kāraṇambrahma and īśvaraḥ. īśvaraḥ as the entire causal, subtle and gross cosmos is known respectively as antaryāmīśvaraḥ, hiraṇyagarbīśvaraḥ and virādīśvaraḥ. Also see nirguṇa-brahma.
saguṇa-brahma-upāsanam
Meditation on saguṇa-brahma in which there is necessarily a meditator-meditated difference – see upāsanam, nirguṇa-brahma-upāsanam.
sahaja samādhiḥ
When nididhyāsanam is sufficient, then, even during worldly transactions, appreciation of the fact of being ātmā, pure consciousness alone, is never lost. Samādhiḥ has become sahaja, natural, innate. No second thing is found, so no event causes fear. Effortlessly being oneself, remaining as the self is sahaja samādhi.
sahakāri-kāraṇam
Supportive cause.
sahasram
Thousand (often used to indicate innumerability).
sahita
Along with; connected with; possessed of (opposite of rahita).
sajātīya
(Beings) of the same species.
sakāma-karma
Action (karma) with (driven by) desire, kāma; action in which there is dependence on (and hence attachment to) the result(s) of action for one's happiness; the action of a worldly, deluded person who imagines the world is absolutely real and the giver of happiness. See niṣkāma-karma.
śākhā
Branch, clan or tradition passing down a Vedic text of the same name over generations.
śākhā-candra-nyāyaḥ
A maxim highlighting the systematic, step by step use in Vedāntaḥ of subtler and subtler teachings for appreciation of subtler and subtler facts. Such systematically subtler steps are akin to the way in which the gaze can be led successively from a general gaze to smaller and smaller branches (śākhā) of a tree until, between two of the finest branches, the thinnest sliver of a crescent Moon (candraḥ) can at last be discerned. See nyāyaḥ.
sākṣāt
Evidently; visibly; (immediately, without a means of knowledge.)
sākṣātkāraḥ
Clear vision, dṛṣṭiḥ, of the truth as the essential nature of the very knower 'I'. Culmination of nididhyāsanam, which itself naturally follows from śravaṇam and mananam.
"As in all the notes of a flute, the sound of a flute is recognised, similarly in every vṛttiḥ, you recognise paramātmā."*
sākṣī
Witness; seer; consciousness (namely ātmā) in the rôle of the changeless, passive, seemingly enclosed witness of the changing states of mind (and hence, ātmā is not any aspect of the mind); the ever-present knower in every experience, which is not and never can be experienced as an object; that which illumines without help from anything else and which itself never can be illumined or objectified; a term for ātmā when in the presence of anātmā.
It is important to appreciate that a witness is not an experiencer. Just as light is unaffected by what it illumines, a witness ever remains uninvolved and unaffected by what is seen. (Being affected means involvement and identification have occurred, implying a loss of witness status.)
Consciousness, caitanyam, when pervading the mind and the body is called sākṣī-caitanyam. This is just another name to indicate the pervasion of the consciousness principle in the body/mind. It witnesses all that happens in the body/mind and in the world. Sākṣī-caitanyam, witness consciousness, is partless, changeless and devoid of qualities. It is ever-unaffected by any content or aspect of the body, mind or world. Although it appears to be confined to the body/mind, it is all-pervading. It is eternal and ever-present, even when there is no body/mind.
The term sākṣiṇam (that which is witnessed) is sometimes used in preference to anātmā when referring to the body-mind-sense complex because the body-mind's 'closeness' to ātmā makes it especially difficult to distinguish from ātmā. More distant objects, such as clothing, chairs, etc., are far easier to distinguish as 'not me' and hence may easily be recognised as anātmā.
"Our problem is we want to be conscious of consciousness"* and so we tend to treat it as an object to be experienced when, in fact, it is our svarūpam, our essential nature.
sākṣī-pratyakṣam
Witness-perception; knowledge gained directly, without the help of the senses. All mental conditions, all emotions, all experiences gained through the senses are known because of the witness that is present in all these perceptions. Direct perception (pratyakṣam) is possible both with and without the senses. All pramāṇas are known because of the sākṣī, witness-consciousness. Every pramāṇa works because of the presence of this witness.
saktiḥ
Attachment, in general; 'stickiness'; longing; sense of ownership; also see asaktiḥ.
śaktiḥ
Power; capacity; faculty; skill; (śaktimān, power-possessor).
āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ
dravya-śaktiḥ
icchā-śaktiḥ
jñāna-śaktiḥ
kriyā-śaktiḥ
medhā-śaktiḥ
sarvaśaktimān
vikṣepa-śaktiḥ
sālakṣaṇyam
Different objects can belong to the same group if they share characteristics, for example, chairs, tables, sofas, although different from each other are all classed as furniture.
samacittatvam
Equanimity; sameness of mind in the gain of the desirable and the undesirable; capacity to retain composure.
samādhānam
Focused intent; being always conscious of the goal of liberation from sorrow, thereby being focused without being distracted; samādhānam is the culmination of śamaḥ, damaḥ, etc. See ṣaṭka-sampattiḥ – also see śamaḥ, damaḥ, uparamaḥ, titikṣā, śraddhā.
samādhiḥ
Absorption. Focusing attention on a chosen object is dhāranā, concentration. Bringing attention back to the object when it wanders from it is dhyānam, meditation. When attention no longer wanders, but is consistently and fully absorbed in that object, that is samādhi. It is a condition in which the intellect is suspended, as in suṣuptiḥ, but in contrast to suṣuptiḥ, the mind is fully awake.
Being a highly refined state, samādhiḥ is unlikely to occur in a mind that is beset by emotional difficulties, strong attachments and aversions, unhealthy choices and other similar impediments. Facing and dealing with such problems while living a life of karma-yogaḥ is a necessary preliminary step, not only for meditation but, more importantly, for the mental and emotional growth needed for jñāna-yogaḥ, and for the eventual freedom from limitations that is mokṣaḥ. Moreover, even the most mystical experience in samādhiḥ will not be present afterwards when samādhiḥ ends.
The consciousness by which any and every experience is revealed is ever-present and needs no special experience to be known. Being the substratum and reality of all experience, it is never absent, never not known, and simply needs to be recognised as such rather than 'experienced' or 'realised'. Some, unable to accept that knowledge is enough, will say they have understanding but now need to 'realise' the self. Only an unqualified student talks like this, whereas a student with sādhana-catuṣṭayam sees that knowledge alone is mokṣaḥ. See savikalpa-samādhiḥ, nirvikalpa-samādhiḥ and nididhyāsanam.
samādhi-abhyāsa-rūpa-nididhyāsanam
Those who, due to adverse prārabdha, are unable to derive the full benefit of Vedāntaḥ study, even after long śravaṇam and mananam and practice of brahma-abhyāsa-rūpa-nididhyāsanam, need to calm the mind sufficiently to appreciate the fact of being Brahman. Repeated alert dwelling is needed on the proper understanding (gained through śravaṇam) of one's real nature being Brahman and of the world being mithyā. This is a seated meditation in which the mind is absorbed in samādhiḥ, meaning it's absorbed in the understanding gained from śravaṇam, so absorbed that nothing else occupies the mind. See nididhyāsanam, brahma-abhyāsa-rūpa-nididhyāsanam and sahaja samādhiḥ.
śamaḥ
Resolution or management of the mind to rest and refine it and prevent one's thoughts, feelings and impulses (arising from internal and external contact with the varieties of viṣayas, sense-phenomena, including people) 'running the show'. Vairāgyam, dispassion, developed from seeing again and again the limitations in phenomena, provides the means. Only a mature, dispassionate, objective mind has śamaḥ.
Śamaḥ is a discipline practised to have mastery over one's ways of thinking rather than being at their mercy.
samāmnāyaḥ
Mentioned together; a collection or compilation of sacred texts.
sāmāna-adhikaraṇyam
This expression is a noun meaning having the same (sāmāna) locus or location (adhikaraṇam). It refers to words being in apposition. Words in apposition have the same number, gender and case, and are committed to revealing the same object. The two words wave and ocean, for example, denote two entirely different forms, but both forms have the same locus, water, which lends existence to both – wave-form and ocean-form have the same adhikaraṇam, they have sāmānādhikaraṇyam. Because of this, 'wave' and 'ocean' can be equated. Being equated to 'ocean', 'wave' is resolvable in 'ocean', resolvable due to being one with 'ocean'.
Similarly, jīveśvara-aikyam, the oneness of jīvaḥ and īśvaraḥ, is revealed through the mahāvākyam tattvamasi (you are that) because of sāmānādhikaraṇyam, their common locus – the very existence of 'I' and the very existence of 'this' is one-and-the-same consciousness.
In the same way, in the sentence "This is that Devadatta," both the word 'that' signifying the Devadatta associated with the past, elsewhere, and the word 'this' signifying the Devadatta associated with the present, here, refer to one-and-the-same locus or person. Likewise, in the sentence, "You are that," both the word 'that' signifying consciousness characterised by remoteness, etc., and the word 'you' signifying consciousness characterised by immediacy, etc., refer to one-and-the-same locus, that is, consciousness, Brahman.
Conversely, by distinguishing a common locus, consciousness, the mithyā status of both jīvatvam and īśvaratvam becomes highlighted, while the substance is common. See lakṣya-lakṣaṇa-sambandhaḥ.
Sometimes, words in apposition are used to negate an apparent difference when in showing, for example, that the essential 'substance' of all material forms is the one consciousness. This is called bādhāyāṁ sāmānādhikaraṇyam. Similarly, aikya-sāmānādhikaraṇyam reveals the oneness of all beings through establishing consciousness as the reality of all.
There are three kinds of relationship between words: words can either be in apposition to each other and to the word to which they relate, or they can define (or qualify) each other, or they can connote the same thing. These are respectively sāmānādhikaraṇyam, viśeṣaṇa-viśeṣya-bhāvaḥ and lakṣya-lakṣaṇa-bhāvaḥ. Each has its own merits in elucidating Vedic statements such as tattvamasi.
samānaḥ
The aspect of prāṇaḥ that aids digestion; also see apānaḥ, elimination; vyānaḥ, circulation; udānaḥ, upward breath.
samanvayaḥ
Consistency. To arrive at its proper understanding, all parts of an upaniṣad must consistently fit with its total picture, its tātparyam.
śamānvita
Anvita, endowed with, śamaḥ, mastery over one's own thoughts – not being at the mercy of one's own thoughts, feelings or impulses and thus capable of managing them; one of the two primary qualities of a sufficiently qualified student, śīsyaḥ – see the other one, praśāntacitta.
sāmānya-dharmaḥ
Universal ethics, universal values applicable to all and sundry (sāmānya) regardless of time, religion, gender, age, race, country, social status, etc. For example, ahiṃsā, non-hurting or harmlessness is an ethical and moral value applicable to all, at all times and in all situations. See viśeṣa-dharmaḥ and dharmaḥ. Sāmānya-dharmaḥ is also known as sādhāraṇa-dharmaḥ, non-specific, unfocused dharmaḥ.
The dharmas declared in Manu 10.63 to be common to all are:
ahiṃsā - non-hurting
satyam - truthfulness
asteyam - non-stealing
śaucam - cleanliness
indriya-nigrahaḥ - restraint of the senses
sāmānya-jñānam
Consciousness or knowledge of that which is ever the same; synonym of śuddha-caitanyam.
sāmānya-sattā
The one existence (sattā) that is common to all beings, objects and phenomena. That very existence is lent by the mere presence of Brahman.
samaṣṭiḥ
Universal; macrocosm; macrocosmic being. This term is best understood via examples: gold is the samaṣṭiḥ aspect of gold ring, total space is the samaṣṭiḥ aspect of the space within a pot, and ocean is the samaṣṭiḥ aspect of ocean wave. Samaṣṭiḥ always includes and incorporates vyaṣṭiḥ, its individual, local expression or manifestation. Touch the ocean, all waves are touched; touch a wave, the entire ocean is touched. Thus, the relationship is one of substance, not number. As a further example, kindness as such is recognisable as the substance or essence of all individual acts of kindness.
Therefore, samaṣṭiḥ does not mean total or aggregate. The oft-used example of tree and forest is flawed as not only can a tree exist alone, far from any forest, the example also misleadingly implies a numerical relationship (one among several). See vyaṣṭiḥ.
samatvam
Evenness; sameness; equanimity of mind in all aspects of life, but especially towards results of action.
samatvam yogaḥ ucyate
Evenness (of mind) is called yogaḥ. This evenness is with regard to the results of action. It depends on the capacity to see that all events, all phenomena, all activity and their results occur by means of and in accord with the natural, universal laws (dharmaḥ) that are īśvaraḥ. Therefore, although the individual has the power to initiate action, he has no power over its manifestation or result.
Acceptance of this fact follows from the recognition that all results, being the product of natural laws, are a gift from īśvaraḥ (they are the prasādaḥ of īśvaraḥ). This brings an equanimity or evenness of mind toward whatever the result may be. Such equanimity is possible only when the whole picture is in view. That totality of view, characterised by an untroubled evenness of mind, is yogaḥ. See Gītā 2.48 and also karma-yogaḥ and īśvara-prasāda-buddhiḥ.
sambandhaḥ
Connection; association; relationship. See anubandha-catuṣṭayam.
saṃhāraḥ
Withdrawal (of the universe) that is, the manifest becomes unmanifest; resolution; dissolution.
saṃhitā
A methodically arranged collection of texts or verses.
samidh
Firewood; fuel; log of wood; oblation (samidhā) to the kindled (samiddha) fire, which is the consumer of the fuel; igniting; flaming; burning.
samitpāṇiḥ
A seeker of brahma-vidyā who, carrying a small bundle of twigs (samidh) of the pippalaḥ, or Peepal, tree in one hand (pāṇiḥ), approaches a householder teacher hoping to be accepted as a disciple. The twigs represent the student's readiness to be of service to the teacher in a practical way (by providing fuel for rituals) in gratitude for the teaching. If the guruḥ is a sannyāsī, one cannot take twigs as no rituals are performed, and so something more appropriate is offered, symbolically, with an attitude of surrender and with śraddhā.
sāṃkhyaḥ
See sāṅkhyaḥ.
saṁnyāsaḥ
See sannyāsaḥ.
sampattiḥ
Prosperity; good fortune; accomplishment; fulfilment; success.
sampat upāsanam
In this form of meditation, a given object is looked upon as more than it is. The object could be a flower, a stone, a sculpted form (a murti), it could be anything. Whatever be the chosen object, the mind dwells upon it as (regards it as) īśvaraḥ. In this way, something greater is superimposed upon an ordinary object. This way of looking, this regard, is the foundation of much worship and prayer. See ahaṅgraha upāsanam and upāsanam.
sampradāyaḥ
Teaching tradition; established teachings and method of teaching (including the knowledge of how to handle the words of the scriptures); careful, distortion-free transference of scriptural understanding from the teacher's mind to the student's through words, using a unique method of unfoldment inbuilt in the scripture and understood only by studying from a teacher who would have studied from another sampradāyavit teacher; a teaching tradition transmitted from one teacher to another over millennia via the guru-śiṣya-paramparā, guru-disciple lineage; a valid tradition is based on śrutiḥ and is supported by logic. See paramparā and āgamaḥ.
sampradāyavit
One who thoroughly knows the teaching tradition, having learnt it from his/her guruḥ.
saṁsāraḥ
Transmigratory life; "that which keeps moving in perfect order"; the endless cycle of becoming, of repeated births and deaths.
Saṁsāraḥ, which is no more real than a dream, is the result of the puruṣaḥ identifying (due to ignorance) with the modifications of the guṇas. This leads to the perception (conclusion) of difference between the individual and īśvaraḥ.
Saṁsāraḥ is often characterised as a treacherous ocean the jīvaḥ is struggling to cross. It is defined as śarīrādi-upādānam eva lakṣaṇam yasya saḥ saṁsāraḥ – "saṁsāraḥ is that which is characterised by the assumption of bodies, etc."
That final word, etcetera, refers to all that follows from the assumption of bodies, namely, actions and their consequences and the various worldly contexts in which they are experienced (including both svarga-lokaḥ and narakaḥ) life after life.
Freedom from saṁsāraḥ is only in recognising and fully ascertaining that one's self is Brahman. See brahma-jñānam.
saṁsārī
One subject to saṁsāraḥ. See jīvaḥ, buddhiḥ.
saṁśayaḥ
Doubt; indecision.
śravanam removes saṁśayaḥ
mananam removes asambhavaḥ
nididhyāsanam removes viparīta-bhāvanā
saṁskāraḥ
Impression on the mind; disposition; tendency; degree of refinement of a person due to the accumulation of better or worse vāsanās.
The attitudes, dispositions, tastes and inclinations of a person are all stored in the subconscious as vāsanās. They reflect attachments and aversions (likes and dislikes) and in so doing reveal the saṁskāraḥ, the degree of refinement of the individual. They travel with the subtle body from birth to birth, tending to influence the individual's responses to the prārabdha-karma of each birth as it unfolds in each lifetime. Those responses, those actions, can in turn lead to new karma (āgāmi-karma).
The word saṁskāraḥ, refinement, is also used to mean the 41 rituals for enhancing mental refinement that are performed at different stages of an individual's life, from the time of conception until shortly after death. The word 'sacrament', often used to translate 'saṁskāraḥ ritual', is not expressive enough to convey all that needs to be conveyed. Saṁskāraḥ, refinement; saṁskṛtiḥ, culture; and saṁskāryam, refinable, are all different grammatical forms of the same word.
saṁskṛtam
Well formed; well done; refined; the Sanskrit language – a highly expressive language having a highly refined and exalted culture established within it. See devanāgarī.
saṁskṛtiḥ
Culture; refinement via action, which is one of the four possible results of karma, action. Refinement occurs by either adding or removing something. The other results of action are: utpattiḥ (utpādyam), production; vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam), modification; āptiḥ (āpyam), attainment.
Saṁskāraḥ, refinement; saṁskṛtiḥ, culture; and saṁskāryam, refinable, are all different grammatical forms of the same word.
saṁśrayaḥ
Refuge; resting place; support.
saṃvādaḥ
Dialogue imparting knowledge from teacher to student; teacher-student discourse with the sole aim of learning the truth; also see vādaḥ, jalpa-vādaḥ, vitaṇḍa-vādaḥ.
saṃvṛtiḥ
A concealing movement of thought-forms. It is such a movement alone that makes a world; there is no other world. The world is kalpita, a projection, a projection that so absorbs attention that its source is as good as concealed or kept secret. See dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vādaḥ and nimitta-kāraṇam.
saṃvyavahāra-mātram
Only transactional; a term referring to the status of worldly experience, in effect saying it is mithyā.
samyag-darśanam
Clear vision; correct knowledge; proper understanding; seeing the truth of everything; the vision of the sameness that is Brahman (asamyag-darśanam, confusion).
samyag-jñānam
Proper, correct (samyak) understanding (jñānam) of what the scriptures say. Such understanding is the result of śravanam, mananam and nididhyāsanam with the help of a guruḥ.
saṃyamī
One who has self-mastery; a wise person.
saṃyoga-viyogaḥ
Caught in the endless cycle of saṁsāraḥ, the jīvaḥ is subject to association (saṃyogaḥ) with a physical body and sense organs at each birth and to disassociation (viyogaḥ) from them at each death. The subtle and causal bodies, however, do not die but remain with the jīvaḥ, travelling with it to each new birth.
sanātana
Eternal; permanent; ancient.
sanātana dharmaḥ
Eternal law; eternal values; the beginningless order that is īśvaraḥ; the proper and correct name for Hinduism (a merely geographically-derived word). Sanātana dharmaḥ is not a religion, it is a way of life in which two pursuits are followed: karma yogaḥ and jñāna yogaḥ.
sañcita-karma
Unmanifest, unexpired aggregate of the adṛṣṭa-phalam, the unseen result, of karma, action. Sañcita-karma is also known as anārabdha-karma, karma that has not begun (to bear fruit). That adṛṣṭa-phalam is duly accredited to the living being and stored in māyā, the universal causal body. When ripe, the as-yet-unmanifest puṇya-pāpam arising from karma, action, will manifest as prārabdha-karma for that person/being.
Sañcita is also the store for the āgāmi-karma being produced (by human beings only) now, in this life. When ripe, the āgāmi will manifest as prārabdha-karma.
"The law of karma and dharmaḥ are the same, because dharmaḥ produces puṇyam and pāpam, which form the very order that is īśvaraḥ. The law of karma, centred on your free will and dharma-adharmaḥ, are all highly interconnected. Therefore, to that one Lord, who is in the form of the very order of dharmaḥ, the order of karma, you surrender and do what is to be done. We conform to dharmaḥ because dharmaḥ is Bhagavān."* See āgāmi-karma, prārabdha-karma.
sandhyā-vandanam
Vandanam, worship, salutation, prayer done at the (three) junctures or meeting points, sandhyā, of each day: shortly before dawn, when the sun has not yet risen (even though the night is over), next when the sun is at its highest in the sky, and lastly when the sun has already set, but the night has not yet come.
saṅgaḥ
Attachment due to close contact; association; community; company; friendship.
"Attachment to the guṇas is the cause for births in higher and lower wombs." Gītā 13.21. The close association an individual has with the mind and body and their attributes (guṇas) leads to attachment. Attachment narrows the perspective with which one sees the world. A narrowed perspective leads to dependence on the world for happiness; rebirth is then inevitable.
saṅghātaḥ
An assemblage (one that is intelligently put together); close union or combination; collection; cluster; aggregate. See kārya-karaṇa-saṅghātaḥ.
saṅkalpaḥ
Decision as to worth, value, need, etc.; resolve; will; thought; determination; the impetus (in the form of a conviction or determination as to worth) running through every desire, driving it to fulfilment.
Will or will-power, dhṛtiḥ, is the very force of a conviction, or the strength of a decision (strong or weak, firm or wavering, correct or incorrect) that 'this' has value, 'this' is worth having or doing.
When something catches my attention and I judge it to have no particular worth or value, it becomes just a passing thought and goes. If, instead, it is seen to have worth or value, it is dwelt upon (even cherished) and that notion of value turns the thought into a desire. The perceived sense of value evokes emotion and will, which then impel the desire, driving it to its fulfilment. Depending on the nature of the desire – and the will, the force, behind it – that drive to fulfilment can power the desire for a fraction of a second or, perhaps, for decades. Therefore, desire is not the problem, saṅkalpaḥ is the problem. See dhṛtiḥ, vikalpaḥ and kṛpaṇaḥ.
saṅkaraḥ
Mixture; mixing together that which should be kept apart, thus creating confusion.
śaṅkaraḥ
Ādi-Śaṅkara-Bhagavatpādaḥ was a most illustrious, highly revered teacher of Vedāntaḥ who revivified and re-established the supremacy of its sampradāyaḥ, and the Vedic dharmaḥ and way of life, several centuries ago. He was the author of incomparable Upaniṣad bhāṣyams that demonstrated that the purport of the Upaniṣads is that reality is non-dual and is attainable only by knowledge. He is regarded by many as an avatāraḥ of Lord Śivaḥ. (Śaṅkaraḥ is also a name of Śivaḥ.) Ādi-Śaṅkaraḥ left behind teaching maṭhas, monasteries (one in each of the four corners of India) of which Śṛngerī is perhaps the best known.
He succinctly summarises the Vedantic vision in verse 20 of his brahmajñānāvalīmālā "Brahma satyaṃ jaganmithyā jīvo brahmaiva nāparaḥ." Brahman is real, the universe is mithyā. The jīva and brahman are not different.
sāṅkhyam
Systematic, discriminating enquiry and assessment; thorough knowledge arising from such enquiry. The second chapter of the Bhagavad-Gītā is entitled sāṅkhya-yogaḥ. There the word sāṅkhyam means knowledge, the topic of the chapter. In the third chapter, the word sāṅkhyaḥ means a renunciate, a sannyāsī, who is totally committed to the pursuit of knowledge.
Sāṅkhyam is also the name of a dualistic philosophical system, ascribed to the sage Kapilaḥ, that accepts two realities: puruṣaḥ, spirit, and prakṛtiḥ, matter, and that liberation is gained by knowing the difference between them. It does not accept īśvaraḥ. See other dualist opponents of Vedāntaḥ – pūrvamīmāṃsakaḥ, vaiśeṣikaḥ, cārvākaḥ, bauddhaḥ and naiyāyikaḥ.
sannyāsaḥ
Renunciation; a life in which all worldly ties are renounced in a focused pursuit of ātma-jñānam alone. A sannyāsī (saṁnyāsī) takes vows granting immunity from fear to all beings, meaning he/she won't compete, make demands or seek favours, and he/she also lives a life of poverty and chastity.
Sannyāsaḥ is of two types: vidvat-sannyāsaḥ and vividiṣā-sannyāsaḥ. Vidvat-sannyāsaḥ is where sannyāsaḥ is not taken: it is a renunciation that is an expression of knowledge wherein a wise person has naturally or effortlessly cognitively resolved his/her wrong notions of the self. This cognitive resolution of wrong identity, this giving up of all wrong ideas about the self and the world, is true or real sannyāsaḥ. It is a sannyāsaḥ that requires no external changes.
Knowledge, brahma-jñānam, is sannyāsaḥ. A vidvat-sannyāsī is a person of a different perspective, a jñānī. Every human being, going through all the stages of life sequentially, is expected to attain this sannyāsaḥ, thereby discovering absolute maturity, the culmination of growth, the fulfilment of the purpose of human life.
Vividiṣā-sannyāsaḥ is renunciation, a lifestyle in which there is a total commitment to the pursuit of knowledge to the exclusion of all other ends, artha-kāmas. The very word vividiṣā means 'desire to know'. A tīvra-mumukṣuḥ, a mature individual who is desperate for mokṣaḥ, knowing the value of knowledge as the only means for mokṣaḥ, who seriously wants to know the truth, takes to the life of sannyāsaḥ for knowledge.
A sannyāsī spends his life only in śravaṇam, mananam or nididhyāsanam (in keeping with his qualification) also involving himself in sharing his understanding through teaching, which is another form of contemplation. He is sanctioned to free himself from obligatory social duties. His basic needs (food, clothing, shelter) are met by a society whose culture values this pursuit with great reverence as it is a spiritual pursuit, a basis for all religious disciplines.
Sannyāsaḥ is the fourth of the four āśramas of Vedic (vaidika) life – brahmacaryam, studentship; gṛhasthaḥ, householder; vānaprasthaḥ, withdrawal; sannyāsaḥ, renunciation. Also see āpat-sannyāsaḥ.
sannyāsī
A renunciate (female: sannyāsinī); one who has taken the vows of sannyāsaḥ.
sansāraḥ
See saṁsāraḥ.
sanskāraḥ
See saṁskāraḥ.
sanskṛtam
See saṁskṛtam.
śāntiḥ
Peace; calmness; tranquility; cessation; elimination (of evil); synonym of the mental discipline, śamaḥ.
śānti-pāṭhaḥ
Peace invocation. There are peace invocations in the Vedaḥ for all four compilations as Ṛg, Yajur, etc. A peace invocation, specifically invoking the grace of devatās, is a mantraḥ with a prayer for physical and emotional well-being and the elimination of all possible obstacles to study of a text, neutralising hidden variables arising from three possible sources: ādhibhautika-tāpaḥ, ādhidaivika-tāpaḥ, ādhyātmika-tāpaḥ. Every Upaniṣad begins with a śānti-pāṭhaḥ.
santoṣaḥ
Complete contentment; satisfaction; happiness – also known as santuṣṭiḥ. Part of niyamaḥ where it means remaining sensibly content with what one has rather than unthinkingly chasing desires and so falling prey to the mental agitation that such chasing entails.
sapta-bhūmikāḥ
Seven levels (of spiritual development) of which the last three are optional for a jñānī:
śubhecchā - desire (icchā) for the necessary purity (śubha) of mind needed to attain knowledge, jñāna-yogaḥ, and hence adoption of the necessary means, sādhana-catuṣṭayam.
vicāraṇā - enquiry (into truth, with the help of a guruḥ) via śravanam and mananam.
tanumānasā - full refinement of mind (nididhyāsanam) by removal of remaining hindrances (viparīta-bhāvanā).
sattvāpattiḥ - enjoyment of knowledge of truth, jñāna-niṣṭhā, which is mokṣaḥ.
asaṁsaktiḥ - freedom from all attachment in the enjoyment of the samādhiḥ of ātma-svarūpam.
padārthabhāvanī - remaining in samādhiḥ until disturbed by others.
turīya - undisturbable samādhiḥ from which videhamuktiḥ follows.
śaraṇāgatiḥ
Seeking refuge in the Lord; offering oneself totally to the Lord; surrender; having the vision of the Lord as the truth, the whole; seeing one's own self being non-separate from the Lord, the whole, is absolute surrender; cognitively resolving one's individuality in the totality; seeing there is no second thing other than the Lord.
Relative surrender is that in which a person surrenders his/her will to Bhagavān in the form of dharmaḥ. His actions become governed by his knowledge of right and wrong, and his personal likes and dislikes are not allowed to dictate his actions. Relative surrender is possible only if the person knows the value of knowledge, and thereby of dharmaḥ, and commits himself to living a life of values.
śaraṇam
Refuge; protection; place of shelter.
sarasvatī
Goddess of knowledge and music; wife of Brahmā.
śarīram
Body; prone to disintegration and decay; synonym of dehaḥ, kāyaḥ. See sthula-śarīram, sūkṣma-śarīram and kāraṇa-śarīram – each of the three is an upādhiḥ of each and every jīvaḥ.
śarīra-traya-viveka-prakriyā
Method of analysis through which ātmā is recognised to be distinct from and independependent of the three bodies (gross, subtle and causal); see prakriyā.
sarpaḥ
Snake
sarūpaḥ
Of the same nature as...; similar; resembling.
sarvagata
All-pervading
sarvajñatvam
Omniscience; knowledge of all in general; a knowledge that all that is here is Brahman, the one reality that is consciousness, the self, and that I am that Brahman. This is the knowledge enjoyed by the jñānī. He or she recognises the one self in all, but does not have all knowledge of everything in detail (as īśvaraḥ does) so if, for example, a person's name is not known prior to sarvajñatvam, the jñānī will still not know it. This is because the human mind is structured to know and gather knowledge sequentially, not simultaneously.
Being pure knowledge, the source of all knowledge, īśvaraḥ is sarvajñaḥ. Knowing everything in detail, īśvaraḥ is also described as sarvavit. See sarvavit.
sarvaṃ hyetadbrahma
'All this is indeed Brahman' (Māṇḍūkya 1.2) – see mahāvākyam.
sarvaṃ khalvidaṃ brahma
'All this is certainly Brahman' (Chāndogya 3.14.1) – see mahāvākyam.
sarvaśaktimān
(He who is) all-powerful; a name of īśvaraḥ. See śaktiḥ.
sarvātmā
The only self of all beings; the only self of everything. The śāstram often uses such terms in the glorification of a jñānī saying, the knower of ātmā, being everything (being sarvātmā), as it were gains whatever objects he/she could desire, gains all worlds and objects just by a thought. This is a poetic way of saying that being the only self of all and everything, no world or object is away from such a one and is as good as gained. Even the desires of others, whose saṅkalpaḥ a jñānī may entertain, may be said to have their desires fulfilled (to the degree that their prārabdha permits) as the grace of the jñānī neutralises obstacles. This is one reason sannyāsīs are so respected and their grace so sought: being īśvaraḥ, the wise person becomes an altar for invoking īśvaraḥ.
sarvavit
Omniscient; a term indicating the unlimited detailed knowledge enjoyed by īśvaraḥ due to his being satyam, the very existence or basis, adhiṣṭhānam, of every aspect of every being, entity and phenomenon. He knows everything simultaneously without needing an antaḥkaraṇam, a mind, because all that is here is māyā-upādhiḥ, which is to say all that is here is īśvaraḥ. See sarvajñatvam.
This all-knowingness is not experiential, it is being. With reference to the jagat, Brahman is all-knowledge, with reference to itself, it is knowledge as such, knowledge itself, jñaptiḥ.
Sarvavit is somewhat comparable to an author being the source and content of a book. He knows everything simultaneously about his completed book.
sāṣṭāṅga-namaskāraḥ
A bow, salutations (namaskāraḥ) with eight limbs (sa-aṣṭa-aṅga); prostration at the feet of the teacher. It includes not only touching the ground with one's forehead, chest, hips, knees, feet and outstretched folded hands, but also includes speech (to utter namaste) and the mind. It is done in reverence for and submission to the truth of that which is imparted by the teacher – not to the person, not to the ego of the teacher! See praṇipātaḥ.
śāstra-kṛpā
Grace of the śāstram. It is the knowledge enshrined in the śāstram that alone liberates. See kṛpā, gurukṛpā, ātmā-kṛpā and anugrahaḥ.
śāstram
Sacred body of knowledge for growing towards one's full stature; śāsti trāyate iti śāstram – the śāstram is that which protects by governing one's way of life. It includes both śrutiḥ and smṛtiḥ, but the former is chiefly meant.
śāstra-pramāṇam
Just as it is impossible to see one's own face directly, it is impossible to know the self directly (like an object). Some form of mirror is required in both cases. For the self, the śāstram alone is that mirror. It alone is capable of reflecting or revealing one's true nature to oneself. It alone is the pramāṇam, the means of knowledge, for self-knowledge, for mokṣaḥ. The guruḥ, enlightened only by the śāstra-pramāṇam, communicates its liberating vision to the śiṣyaḥ.
However, the śāstram does not, need not and cannot directly reveal the already self-evident self. Instead, the śāstram acts as a pramāṇam by merely correcting misconceptions about one's true nature (and that of the world and of God). That true nature is then revealed by implication alone as it is too subtle to be pointed out directly like some 'object'. Therefore the śāstram does not function as a means of indoctrination, but as a means of de-indoctrination – and even dismisses itself when properly understood!
śāstra-vāsanā
A craving for the study of śāstras other than Vedāntaḥ (typically as an aid to "experience hunting") can destroy a person in the pursuit. One has to tackle this craving by commitment to Vedānta-vicāraḥ. See vāsanā.
sat
That which is ever the same presence in all three periods of time (past, present and future); pure, non-dependent existence; goodness; absolute truth; that which cannot be negated.
Existence is not an attribute, existence alone exists. All that exists exists in (pure) existence, and all forms of existence are ultimately forms or modes of expression of pure existence (rather like ocean waves are expressions or forms of water). Pure existence, existence itself, being intrinsically formless, has no limit. Being limitless, ananta, it is not different from cit, pure consciousness. Pure consciousness exists, and pure existence is the very existence (the very being) of pure consciousness. Consciousness is all that is here. See asat, tuccham, satyam, mithyā, cit, ānanda.
ṣaṭkam
Consisting of six, an aggregate of six (not six-fold) as in ṣaṭka-sampattiḥ, six accomplishments.
sat-kārya-vādaḥ
A Sāṅkhyam vādaḥ, a Sāṅkhyam view or contention, (temporarily) accepted by Vedāntins, that an effect is unmanifest in its cause, and its manifestation is a change or modification, pariṇāmaḥ, of the cause, or an appearance, vivartaḥ, of the cause – and both types of effect are mithyā.
Being unmanifest in its cause, no effect is ever created. There is no such thing as creation, only manifestation from a prior, unmanifest (potential) state. Only that which is potentially present can manifest. Butter comes out of milk because butter is in a potential, unmanifest form in milk. Butter is not in a potential form in water! See asat-kārya-vādaḥ, upādāna-kāraṇam, pariṇāmaḥ, vivartaḥ and also nimitta-kāraṇam.
ṣaṭka-sampattiḥ
A group of six accomplishments – also known as śamādi-ṣaṭka-sampattiḥ, a group of six accomplishments beginning with śamaḥ. The six form part of sādhana-catuṣṭayam and are: śamaḥ, damaḥ, uparamaḥ, titikṣā, śraddhā, samādhānam.
satsaṅgaḥ
Company (saṅgaḥ) of the wise, of truth (sat); good association; association with śāstram; association with those who know and live the śāstram.
sattā
Existence; being; reality. Existence is of two types: svarūpa-sattā, original, unmanifest or potential existence, and secondly rūpa-sattā, manifest or functional existence. See abhāvaḥ. A clay pot exists in potential until formed from a lump of clay.
sattvam (sattva)
Guṇaḥ signifying purity, knowledge, truth, intelligence, mind (adj. sāttvika). The term sattva is the name given to the manifestation of the jñāna-śaktiḥ, the power of knowing inherent in māyā. Sattva can also mean a living being.
Free from any kind of impurity, sattva reflects consciousness and hence endows a person with the capacity for clear knowledge and with the capacity for experiential happiness. A predominance of sattva means that a vṛttiḥ in the form of pleasure and/or knowledge arises. On identifying with that vṛttiḥ (on identifying with being happy and knowledgeable) the person becomes dependent on pleasure and knowledge for happiness, and so becomes attached to them. In this way, even sattva can (seemingly) bind. See rajaḥ (rajas), tamaḥ (tamas).
sattva-śuddhiḥ
Purity of mind (sattva means mind here); synonym of citta-śuddhiḥ. Purity of mind increases as rāga-dveṣas decrease. When rāga-dveṣas begin to subside, through being neutralised by living a life of karma-yogaḥ, a person gains the mental space in which to recognise the shallowness and emptiness of being, namely the self-dissatisfaction that drove his previous unthinking chase of likes and dislikes. This recognition of his own spiritual poverty is the awakening of vivekaḥ and with it arises dispassion towards all worldly ends through clearly seeing their limitations. Now the quest for spiritual knowledge begins in earnest.
satyam
Truth; reality; that which is the truth of everything; that which cannot be negated by anything in all three periods of time – therefore beginningless, endless, changeless, causeless, independent, free from the limitations of time, space and object; the changeless substratum upon which change takes place (without which change would not be perceivable).
Only ever speaking the non-hurtful truth, devoid of untruth, is the discipline of satyam in speech (also known as vāk-tapas). Even speech that is pleasant but not factual or beneficial is not satyam.
Truth is established when there is consonance between śrutiḥ, smṛtiḥ, nyāyaḥ and anubhavaḥ.
Satyam is also a name of the highest of the seven heavens (see svargaḥ and lokaḥ) and is also a part of yamaḥ and sāmānya-dharmaḥ in which satyam is an injunction to speak only the truth and never to lie.
Also see sat, asat, mithyā, tuccham and ṛtam.
satyaṃ jñānam anantaṃ brahma
'Brahman is existence, consciousness (and) limitlessness.' (Taittirīya Upaniṣad 2.1.1). These three words, satyam, jñānam, anantam are not indicating distinct individual attributes of Brahman. Instead, while negating any limits on what Brahman might be thought to be, they imply that there is no limit on its reality, its being and its consciousness.
Satyam means Brahman is not a form or kind of existence (such as existence in the form of a chair or in the form of an idea) but is pure existence, sat, existence itself, reality itself.
Jñānam is saying that Brahman is not an aspect or form of knowledge (such as the knower, the object known, or a specific form of knowledge). Instead it implies it is pure knowledge, jñaptiḥ, knowledge itself, and since consciousness is involved in knowledge, the pure existence that is Brahman cannot be something inert.
Anantam is saying that Brahman is not just without limit, but is limitlessness itself, thereby negating any notion that the pure existence and pure knowledge that is Brahman is in any way limited.
In this way, all three words dismiss limiting ideas about reality, and are also another way of saying saccidānandaḥ. See mahāvākyam, vidhi-vākyam and lakṣaṇa-viśeṣaḥ.
saubhāgyam
Good fortune; happiness; prosperity; loveliness; popularity – all that is needed for a fulfilling life, especially wisdom.
śaucam
Cleanness, both inner and outer; purity of body (including environment), mind and intellect; part of niyamaḥ and sāmānya-dharmaḥ.
sāvayava
Composed of parts; having parts; (whatever has a beginning falls within the category of being sāvayava). Whatever has parts will one day fall apart and hence cannot be eternal.
savikalpaḥ
Being endowed with a variety of divisions or distinctions, for example, knower, known, knowledge; being differentiated; being doubtful.
savikalpa-samādhiḥ
This samādhiḥ (also known as samprajñāta-samādhiḥ or sabīja-samādhiḥ) is a state of meditation, dhyānam, in which there still remains a distinction between meditator and meditated, between name-and-form and its all-pervading substratum, the vastu. All other thoughts are resolved as the vastu shines through phenomena like the Sun through clouds. Being an experience, a state of mind, it is transient and will be lost. There are two types of savikalpa-samādhiḥ, namely dṛśya-anuviddha-savikalpa-samādhiḥ and śabda-anuviddha-savikalpa-samādhiḥ. See samādhiḥ, nirvikalpa-samādhiḥ and nididhyāsanam.
sevā
Service; homage; worship. Sevā becomes yajñaḥ when done with humility and devotion. For a karma-yogī, every action is service only because of the reverential attitude pervading it – otherwise it is merely action.
siddha
Accomplished; established; gained.
siddhāntaḥ
Established end or conclusion ('This is now shown to be so.'); demonstrated right conclusion of an argument; settled opinion or doctrine; established principle, axiom or rule. In the sampradāyaḥ, wrong notions are negated first when establishing the truth of the matter.
siddhiḥ
Accomplishment; achievement; an occult power (of which there are eight) gained through the prolonged practice of certain disciplines. None leads to mokṣaḥ. They are a distraction and are best avoided:
aṇimā - power to assume minute forms
mahimā - power to assume huge forms
laghimā - becoming almost weightless
garimā - becoming as heavy as a mountain
prāptiḥ - ability to procure anything from anywhere
prākāmyam - having irresistible will
īśitṛvam - mastery over bodily senses and able to create or destroy outside objects
vaśitvam - full control over movement of physical objects.
śikṣā
Science of phonetics, of proper articulation and pronunciation of varṇas, the sounds of letters in Vedic mantras/texts; teaching, instruction; one of the six auxiliary sciences, Vedāṅgas, of the Vedas.
Vedic (karma-kāṇḍaḥ) mantras are effective only when pronounced correctly, whereas in jñāna-kāṇḍaḥ (Upanishadic) mantras proper understanding and assimilation are foremost. Also see chandas, vyākaraṇam, niruktam, jyotiṣaḥ, kalpaḥ.
siṃhā-avalokana-nyāyaḥ
'By the backward glance of a lion.' According to the rule of the lion's look – a maxim recommending reviewing what was said earlier, to see the connection with what is said later, when studying a text. See nyāyaḥ.
śiṣyaḥ
Student; disciple; a self-disciplined student who deserves the teaching due to having praśāntacitta and śamānvita, (gained through living a life of karma-yogaḥ while practising sādhana-catuṣṭayam); one who, due to vairāgyam is sufficiently pure-minded (sufficiently able to manage his/her mind and emotions) for undisturbed, accurate, unprejudiced hearing of the ācāryaḥ unfolding the śāstram. See guru-śiṣya-paramparā, sampradāyaḥ, praśāntacitta, śamānvita.
śiṣya-svīkāraḥ
Acceptance (svīkāraḥ) of a disciple (śiṣyaḥ) by a guruḥ, who must have reasons for the decision (such as the student's evident qualifications and sincerity). A guruḥ never seeks disciples, never proselytises – truth must be sought, not offered. See guru-upasādanam.
śivaḥ
Auspicious; pure; propitious; īśvaraḥ as the resolver of the universe; see Brahmā, Viṣṇuḥ.
ślokaḥ
Verse; praise; glory; hymn of praise; maxim; fame; voice; name of a particular epic metre.
smaraṇam
Recollecting; remembering.
smṛtiḥ
Memory (in general); the content of śrutiḥ (the original text) properly heard, studied, understood, retained, recollected and presented without any distortion in their own words by later authors, for example, Bhagavad-Gītā, purāṇas, manu-smṛtiḥ; see pauruṣeya-śāstram.
snehaḥ
Attachment; fondness; affection; friendship; emotional entanglement; 'stickiness'; oil.
śobhana-adhyāsaḥ
Over-valuing someone or something by superimposing a notion of greater śubha, beauty, excellence, virtue, etc. than is deserved, for example, mistaking a sea shell's colouring for silver or thinking 'the world gives me happiness'; see adhyāsaḥ and aśobhana-adhyāsaḥ.
śodhita
Filtered; refined; cleansed; purified. An adjective used to describe the filtering or distinguishing of pure consciousness from that which is inert, jaḍa – the filtering of ātmā from anātmā by vivekaḥ.
śokaḥ
Sorrow; anguish; grief; affliction; pain; see duḥkham. All grief is due to rāgaḥ, attachment, which in turn is due to mohaḥ, delusion. Delusion is caused by avidyā, ignorance.
sopādhi
With upādhiḥ (having or possessing one or more limiting adjuncts or manifesting media). See upādhiḥ and nirupādhi.
sopādhika-adhyāsaḥ
This is a form of adhyāsaḥ, erroneous conception, in which one fact is naturally mistaken for another, for example, sunrise/sunset, blue sky, a bent rod in water. The fact of the sun being seen to rise/set is mistaken for the fact of the Earth turning. Similarly, the fact of the sky being blue is mistaken for the fact that the blue part of sunlight is scattered more by the Earth's atmosphere than other parts, and the fact of a rod appearing bent in water is mistaken for the fact that light slows (refracts) in water as water is denser than air. Sopādhika-adhyāsaḥ is also known as jñānādhyāsaḥ.
Being natural consequences of the īśvara-sṛṣṭiḥ (being vyāvahārika-satyam) such facts persist even when understood to be misperceptions. They continue to be experienced, including by the wise: the sun is still seen to rise and set, the sky still looks blue, the rod still looks bent. However, the wise, the discriminating ones, nevertheless appreciate the truth of the matter through cognitively resolving the upādhiḥ. Some say that it is due to sopādhika-adhyāsaḥ that the body of the guruḥ is seen by disciples to persist after mokṣaḥ. See nirupādhikādhyāsaḥ, upādhiḥ and adhyāsaḥ.
sparśaḥ
Touch; the sense-object (viṣayaḥ), subtle or gross, perceptible through the skin or mind and known as 'touch' or 'contact'.
sphuliṅgaḥ
Spark (from a fire); sparks shooting from a fire are used to demonstrate that fire alone is in the form of many sparks due to many upādhis. This is also used as an analogy for showing how distinct manifestations or forms of Brahman arise from the one Brahman. It is often wrongly interpreted to mean that unique beings, jīvas, separate from Brahman, burst forth from Brahman like sparks from a fire, whereas the analogy is pointing to the fact that all sparks, jivas, are nothing but limited forms of fire. Their intrinsic nature is not different from fire (Brahman) even though their forms differ.
sphura
Evident; self-evident; shining forth.
śraddhā
Acceptance by firm judgement as true what the guruḥ and śāstram instruct; unflinching faith in the śāstram and in the words of the guruḥ – they are regarded as fact.
Śraddhā is often translated as faith or trust, but it is more than that. Initially, a degree of trust, viśvāsaḥ, is necessary in any teaching situation. But śraddhā allows us to stand apart from ahaṅkāraḥ, from our own ideas, enabling what is taught to be heard free of interference.
When the teaching is heard cleanly, there arises avadhāraṇā, an error-free understanding and conviction. Hearing cleanly, without omission, distortion or addition, is only possible when there is respect both for the teaching and the teacher. "Respect and love together is śraddhā."*
śrāddham
Ancestor worship; a specific ritual performed on a specific day of a specific fortnight (death anniversary of one's parents, grandparents).
śravaṇam
Hearing. Hearing, for a length of time, the step by step, systematic, regular, unfoldment of Vedāntaḥ by a competent ācāryaḥ who knows the sampradāyaḥ.
Being a result (and not an action) hearing is involuntary since the ears naturally pick up sound, but accuracy of hearing depends on careful listening, on fully focusing one's attention, without distortion or addition, by surrendering all else. Distortion means either changing whatever is heard to fit it into one's existing belief system, or wilfully changing it to mean something unintended by the speaker. Addition means adding one's own ideas, beliefs or embellishments to whatever is said.
Without proper accuracy of hearing, little will be properly understood.
Śravaṇam, hearing, is a śruti-pramāṇam, which brings ajñāna-nivṛttiḥ, resolution of ignorance-caused error. Mananam is then needed to remove doubts. But viparīta-bhāvanā (habitual error) is removed only by nididhyāsanam.
Śravaṇam does not create knowledge. Knowledge, being ever-present, is revealed or uncovered when doubt or error is removed. Knowledge is determined by all that is heard, seen, etc., meaning, it’s determined by the nature of that which is seen or heard, not by the perceiver or his instruments. Knowing is, therefore, not an action, it is the inevitable result of operating a pramāṇam, a means of knowledge. Self-knowledge too is not the result of the hearer's action; it occurs naturally and effortlessly when certain words, arriving at the ear, are heard without distortion or addition. See mananam, nididhyāsanam, sākṣātkāraḥ.
śreyaḥ (śreyas)
Highest or absolute good; that which is above even dharmaḥ and adharmaḥ and is desirable for all people of all times and places, namely the knowledge that is mokṣaḥ, freedom from unhappiness.
Śreyas, which is of the nature of vivekaḥ, and preyas, which is of the nature of avivekaḥ, are mutually exclusive. They cannot be followed simultaneously, only sequentially, as śreyas is associated with vidyā, and preyas with avidyā.
The word śreyas can also refer to jñāna-margaḥ, the path of knowledge, the ultimate means for attaining mokṣaḥ, the highest good. See preyaḥ (preyas).
śrīḥ
Lakṣmī, all forms of wealth, including virtues, health, progeny, food, beauty, etc.; wife (śaktiḥ) of Viṣṇuḥ. See bhagaḥ.
śrīmat
Illustrious; eminent; glorious; venerable.
śrotram
Ear; organ of hearing.
śrotriyaḥ
One who has wide knowledge and profound understanding of the scriptures through carefully hearing and assimilating, for a length of time, the vedānta-śāstram being properly and systematically unfolded by a competent teacher; one well versed in the śāstram and in its traditional methods of communication, and who is able to communicate its riches effectively. Such a śrotriya is preferable to a brahma-niṣṭhā who does not know the sampradāyaḥ or who is unable to communicate it well.
sṛṣṭiḥ
Manifestation; emergence; the manifest universe. First of the three states of all created things, namely sṛṣṭiḥ, emergence; sthitiḥ, abidance; layaḥ, dissolution. The source and generation of these three states is Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ. Hence, Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ is known as sṛṣṭi-sthiti-laya-kartā.
Nothing is ever created or destroyed: the universe and all that is here is an expansion or manifestation as names and forms (nāma-rūpam), one that does not happen outside of Brahman. In time it becomes unmanifest in Brahman and again becomes manifest (appears) in Brahman in a beginningless, endless cycle. Brahma khālu idam sarvam, iha nānā kiñcana nāsti - All this is indeed Brahman; nothing else is here (there is no plurality or variety here).
Hence, the word creation is not an accurate translation for sṛṣṭiḥ. Nothing is created, the sṛṣṭiḥ is a manifestation from a potential or unmanifest condition: the unmanifest made manifest. It is not to be treated as absolutely real.
This beginningless, endless cycle is not a volitional action by Brahman. The universe manifests only to lawfully fulfil the prārabdha-karma of countless jīvas. See īśvara-sṛṣṭiḥ and jīva-sṛṣṭiḥ.
sṛṣṭi-viveka-prakriyā
Method of arriving at ātmā, the true self, by analysing that which is here, aiming to reveal its source, which is consciousness, the ultimate reality; see prakriyā.
śrutiḥ
Heard; a name for the sacred knowledge of the Vedaḥ transmitted orally from generation to generation; a name for the veda-śāstram emphasising its preservation and transmission through careful listening via the teacher-student lineage, karṇa-paramparā (karṇa means ear). Listening is with the aim of inquiring and understanding. Only in full understanding has the śrutiḥ been properly heard.
stambhaḥ
Pillar; post; column.
stavaḥ
Repetition (chanting) of several names of the Lord (such as Viṣṇu Sahasranāma, the thousand names of Viṣṇuḥ), whereas japaḥ is the repetition of just one name. By extension, stavaḥ is the name for any text consisting of words of praise – especially praise of the Lord, of īśvaraḥ; synonym of stotram.
sthairyam
Steadfastness; constancy; perseverance; steadiness; firmness; calmness. Steadfastness in one's commitment to mokṣaḥ and to one's duty.
sthānam
Place; abode; rank; altar.
sthāṇu
Firm; immovable; motionless; stump of a tree.
sthāṇu-nikhana-nyāyaḥ
A maxim encouraging the making of one's knowledge of the truth of oneself as unshakeable as a well-buried (well-fixed) post that is able to withstand any amount of shaking (by opposing notions). Such firmness is a consequence of the clarity and accuracy of perception and understanding that arises from proper śravanam and mananam accompanied by śamaḥ etc. – not from obstinacy of view. All of this is an essential prerequisite for nididhyāsanam. See nyāyaḥ.
sthāṇu-puruṣa-nyāyaḥ
Illustration of a stump of a tree being mistaken for a person. See nyāyaḥ.
sthita
Steady; abiding; ascertained.
sthitiḥ
Abidance; staying; remaining; being in any state or condition; continued existence. Second of the three states of all created things, namely sṛṣṭiḥ, creation; sthitiḥ, abidance; layaḥ, dissolution.
sthitadhīḥ
Wise person with doubt-free, ascertained vision; steady-minded; firm; unmoved; calm.
sthita-prajñaḥ
A person of steady, unshakeable wisdom; one abiding in wisdom; one free from the hold of desire; happy with oneself, in oneself; free from emotional dependence; awake to the nature of oneself and therefore wise; a jñānī.
sthūla
Gross; physical – also see sūkṣma, kāraṇam.
sthūla-arundhatī-nyāyaḥ
A maxim (nyāyaḥ) encouraging the leading of the mind from a gross (sthūla) understanding of the self towards a subtler and subtler understanding of it. Arundhatī is a tiny star, located by first pointing out the Moon and then successively smaller nearby stars until the finest star of all, Arundhatī itself, is seen. See nyāyaḥ.
sthūla-prapañcaḥ
Gross/physical world. See sūkṣma-prapañcaḥ, kāraṇa-prapañcaḥ and prapañcaḥ.
sthūla-śarīram
Gross/physical body, made of the 'grossified' five basic elements; born of good karma; abode of enjoyment of experiences of pleasure, pain, etc.; subject to ṣaḍ-bhāva-vikāraḥ, six modifications; locus of all subtle (imperceptible) instruments of knowledge and action; also see sūkṣma-śarīram, kāraṇa-śarīram and śarīram.
stotram
Hymn of praise; see stavaḥ, stutiḥ.
strīliṅgam
Feminine gender; feminine; see puṃliṅgam.
stutiḥ
Praise; eulogy; commendation. Stutiḥ, praise of what is true and good, is always followed in Vedāntaḥ by nindā, criticism of that which hinders its understanding and ascertainment.
śubha
Auspicious; good; virtuous; something that ends well.
śuddha
Pure; clean; faultless; error-free. A pure mind is necessary for self-knowledge. Impurities (anger, pride, lust, etc.) confuse and distort thought. They are best dealt with by being alert to their arising, bud-like, in the mind and letting them go before they flower. That alertness requires śamaḥ and is possible only for one who is relatively peaceful, that is, one with sufficient vairāgyam. When vairāgyam is sufficiently developed, a person can be objective towards his/her own mind. That objectivity brings emotional maturity. The emotionally mature see things in their proper perspective and so are not distracted from what matters by something inappropriate. Such people are able to hear the teaching (upadeśaḥ) cleanly.
śuddha-caitanyam
Pure consciousness; unmanifest consciousness; consciousness unassociated with varying thoughts; consciousness remaining ever itself, unrestricted by being 'conscious of'; consciousness in which there is no second.
Śuddha-caitanyam is also known as sāmānya-jñānam. See viśeṣa-jñānam.
śūdraḥ
A person born into the fourth varṇaḥ – artisan, labourer, servant, etc.; revered as an indispensable part of īśvaraḥ, the whole, (just as feet are indispensable to the body) and whose contribution for maintaining the social order is as important as that of the other three varnas; also see brāhmaṇaḥ, priest; kṣatriyaḥ, soldier; vaiśyaḥ, businessman.
sukham
Happiness; delight; joy; pleasure. Happiness, delight, is an experience of a time-bound fraction of the fullness that is the very nature of timeless reality. Such experience (triggered by circumstance) is an expression of the kāraṇa-śarīram in the waking or dream states, and is not due to circumstance since an event's repetition may fail to trigger happiness and may instead trigger repulsion or even pain. Sukhī, an enjoyer, experiencer. See duḥkham.
śuklaḥ
White; bright. For śukla-gatiḥ see gatiḥ.
sukṛta
Well made; well done.
sūkṣma
Subtle; fine; penetrating; non-physical; also see sthūla, kāraṇam.
sūkṣma-prapañcaḥ
Subtle world. See sthūla-prapañcaḥ, kāraṇa-prapañcaḥ and prapañcaḥ.
sūkṣma-śarīram
Subtle body; made of the (non-grossified) five elements; born due to good karma; the means for the enjoyment of pleasure, pain, etc.; composed of five karmendriyaṇi, five jñānendriyaṇi, five prāṇāh, and the antaḥ-karaṇam whose chief aspects are buddhiḥ, cittam, manaḥ, ahaṅkāraḥ.
It is a body only in the sense of it being a 'body' or collection or composite of capacities or powers with which the ātmā is identified and which seemingly limit it. It is the ātmā, as the jīvaḥ, conditioned by the sūkṣma-śarīram, that departs on the death of the physical body. The sūkṣma-śarīram continues to exist until its dissolution at pralayaḥ. See sthūla-śarīram, kāraṇa-śarīram, indriyam and śarīram.
śuktikā
Mother-of-pearl. The inner surface of the pearl oyster shell is so reflective it can be mistaken for silver, rajata. This inner layer of nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, is often used as an example of adhyāropaḥ, superimposition – the nacre is misperceived as silver, thereby superimposing a condition and value on the nacre that it does not have or deserve.
sulabha
Easily obtainable; feasible.
sundara
Beautiful; lovely.
suniścita
Fully ascertained, definite, fixed, settled (conclusion). An adjective used to describe the certainty of the knowledge enjoyed by the wise.
śūnyam
Void; empty. For śūnyam to be confirmed to be the ultimate reality, would require the presence of a vṛttiḥ (not to mention its substratum, consciousness) preventing confirmation.
sūryaḥ
The sun; devatā of sight; sūryāstaḥ, sunset.
śuśrūṣā
The desire to hear the śāstram being unfolded by the teacher; service to the teacher (teaching provides the teacher with an opportunity to hear the teaching, which is a service to him/her).
susukham
Easy; effortless; pleasurable.
suṣumnā nāḍī
Running from the heart to the sahasrāra-cakram at the crown of the head, it is the sole nāḍī by which a yogī, on leaving the body at death (via the brahmarandhram) goes to brahma-lokaḥ, eventually attaining krama-muktiḥ. All this is rendered unnecessary by fully ascertaining, before death, that I am Brahman.
suṣupti-avasthā
Suṣupti, deep-sleep, avasthā, state (of experience); a state in which no dream is experienced and no external object is desired; a state of agrahanam, non-apprehension of reality, in which tamas is predominant and there is experience of the absence of the experience of 'I'. And since the mind is inactive in deep sleep, there can be no misapprehension (no error) no anyathāgrahanam.
In suṣupti the intellect, mind and senses resume an unmanifest, undifferentiated, potential condition in the causal body (kāraṇa-śarīram) in which individuality, with all its misconceptions, limitations and consequent problems, is given up while the individual remains – and then absence of experience is known since, on rising, that same individual can say, "I knew nothing." This is not a direct experience because the present tense is not used, nor is it an inference because one part of the statement is from direct perception, one not. No part is directly perceived in sleep as the mind (including ahaṅkāraḥ) is unmanifest. However, to be able to say that absence of cognition was experienced implies memory, which implies an ever-present witness.
That witness, in which the blankness of suṣuptiḥ is revealed, is pure consciousness, consciousness unqualified by the attributes and mis-identifications of the mind. Being unqualified, being without attributes, it is not recognised and is assumed to have not been there. Consciousness is not recognised as consciousness unless the mind is active.
Movement between the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep is always via the deep-sleep state because, since distinct orders of reality obviously cannot be manifest simultaneously, one must subside for another to replace it. The gateway, the point of origin, emergence and return is suṣupti-avasthā for both of the other two states. Just as a cause permeates its effect, suṣupti-avasthā permeates svapna-avasthā and jāgrad-avasthā.
Various vṛttis not being manifest during deep sleep is known, and the 'knower' of that absence is the sākṣī alone, not any form of ahaṅkāraḥ. There are just two vṛttis in the deep-sleep state: ajñāna-vṛttiḥ and sukha-vṛttiḥ – experience of total ignorance and bliss respectively (bliss being the total, but temporary, absence of experience of all pairs of opposites, such as pain and pleasure, and hence is the absence of duality). The presence of the āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ is also evident in deep sleep, but not vikṣepa-śaktiḥ.
The sākṣī, common to all three mutually exclusive states, including deep sleep, is none other than formless pure consciousness. See prājñaḥ, the knower of the deep-sleep state; also see jāgrad avasthā, waking state, svapna-avasthā, dream state, turīya, 'fourth'; avasthā-trayam, the three states of experience.
suṣuptiḥ
Deep, disturbance-free, dreamless sleep (in which the mind is temporarily unmanifest, temporarily merged with īśvaraḥ).
sūtra-bhūta-vākyam
An aphoristic statement that gives the teaching in a nutshell.
sūtram
Verse; thread; an aphorism with minimum words and maximum sense; a cryptic statement pregnant with meaning.
sūtrātmā
Epithet for Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ describing him as the totality of all prāṇaḥ, without whom the operation of the physical world would not be possible; the one who, like a thread (sūtram) of prāṇaḥ, connects all life-forms, lending life to all. See samaṣṭiḥ.
svabhāvaḥ
Non-intrinsic, changeable nature; apparent nature of objects, phenomena, creatures, etc.; manifest nature. At the human level, the term includes inclinations, dispositions – in short, the nature fashioned and revealed by attitudes, habits and behaviour. The svabhāvaḥ of īśvaraḥ is māyā. See svarūpam and prakṛtiḥ.
svadharmaḥ
One's own duty. Duty is that which is due to be done, that which needs to be done. Only by doing just your duty may you be protected from acting inappropriately and incurring pāpam. Recognising whatever is and isn't my duty is recognising viśeṣa-dharmaḥ. "When you perform all your duties at the correct time and place, with an awareness of īśvaraḥ, who is in the form of dharmaḥ, then svakarma, one's own karma, becomes very evident and it becomes an offering to īśvaraḥ."*
svādhyāyaḥ
Śāstram study under the care of a competent ācāryaḥ; daily recitation of the Vedaḥ; the study of a branch of one's own Vedaḥ. Svādhyāyaḥ is also part of niyamaḥ.
svaḥ (suvaḥ)
Abode of the gods and the blessed; the vault of heaven; region of the planets; fifth lowest of the seven heavens; also known as svarga-lokaḥ, heaven or the mental plane. It includes all the worlds above, namely mahaḥ, janaḥ, tapaḥ and satyam.
Name of the third of the three vyāhṛtis that are the origin and essence of the gāyatrī-mantraḥ – also see bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ, lokaḥ.
svāhā
An exclamation: "Hail to Thee" used when oblations (to any deity) are offered into the fire, implying: "I offer myself to Thee"; food offered to devatās.
svāmī (svāmin)
One who has mastery over oneself; spiritual preceptor; title of a man who has taken the vows of sannyāsaḥ (female: svāminī). Although the word 'swami' is often written with a 'w' (to aid correct pronunciation) the correct IAST transliteration is svāmī, pronounced phonetically as 'swaa-mee', not 'swaa-mi'.
svānubhavaḥ
When what has been revealed about the self is no more an insight or a possibility, no more an article of faith but immediate, unobstructed knowledge, that is sva-anubhavaḥ. This sure knowledge is vijñānam.
It is a recognition of the truth of oneself, not in any sense an experience of a supreme 'Self' by 'me' an individual. It is a rediscovery of the fact that I already am and always have been Brahman and that 'me' is nothing more than a false superimposition upon my true nature, like a rôle superimposed upon an actor and taken to be him.
svapna-avasthā
Svapnaḥ, dream, avasthā, state (of experience); a projection associated exclusively with the subtle body, sūkṣma-śarīram. The dream world of subtle phenomena is experienced in the mind as a reality separate from the reality of the waking state, jāgrad-avasthā. Both states or worlds are mithyā as both are objects of experience. In both there is non-apprehension (agrahanam) and misapprehension (anyathāgrahanam) of reality. Neither waking nor dream is more real than the other. Yet, just as the waking world seems absolutely real for the waker, "a dream is not a dream in a dream for a dreamer".
The dream world has only a prātibhāsika satyam, a subjective reality. It is a jumble of impressions, vāsanās, gained in the waking state and presented, sometimes symbolically, in dreams. A person's prārabdha determines which vāsanās are played out in dream. In the dream state, the jīvaḥ sets up its own world, its own timescale and its own sthūla and sūkṣma-śarīras with their own senses, all formed in the mind of the jīvaḥ (not īśvaraḥ, as is the case in the waking state).
The dreamer and waker experience only vṛttis, thoughts. The dreamer's experiences are mithyā thought-forms only, unassociated with any objects, whether external or internal, whereas the waker's experiences are in the form of personal interpretations of transient, mithyā, external objects.
Ahaṅkāraḥ, and hence the mind as a whole, is only half-manifest in dream. There is no free-will or doership in a dream – they both occur only in the waking state – but there is enjoyership in dream (and of course in waking). Neither is any result carried over into the waking state: no puṇya-pāpam accrues in dream. Note that the term dream (meaning a waking sleep) is often used in Vedānta as a metaphor for self-misconception.
See taijasaḥ, the knower of the dream state; also see jāgrad-avasthā, waking state; suṣupti-avasthā, deep-sleep state; turīya, 'fourth'; avasthā-trayam, the three (mutually exclusive) states of experience.
svaprakāśaḥ
Self-effulgent; self-revealing. Consciousness needs no illuminator to light it up. It is not only self-revealing, it is ever-present in all experiences as the unobtrusive, unassertive presence, pervading all, knowing all. Direct, unmediated knowledge of this self-effulgent self is one of the two types of aparokṣa-jñānam (according to Vidyāranya Swami). The other type is enlightenment itself, brahma-jñānam, exemplified by the tenth man realising that he is the tenth.
svaraḥ
A vowel; see vyañjanam, a consonant. (Also see akṣaram.) Svaraḥ is also a collective term for a chanting accent, of which there are three: udāttaḥ, anudāttaḥ, svaritaḥ.
svārājyam
A meditator (upāsakaḥ) who through contemplation (through living in awareness of the total) merges with and gains the status of Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, attains sovereignty as the truth and lord of all, as all-knowledge consciousness, as the self of all. Peace in abundance, samṛddham, is attained. Such a one is all manifest happiness, knowledge and peace – of which individual enjoyment is but a fraction.
svargaḥ
Heaven. The seven heavens or higher lokas begin with this Earth, bhū-lokaḥ, and in ascending order are bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ, svaḥ, mahaḥ, janaḥ, tapaḥ, satyam.See lokaḥ and narakaḥ.
svaritaḥ
A high or raised tone in chanting, shown in the devanāgarī text by a short vertical line above a vowel. Sometimes two short svaritaḥ notations appear side-by-side above the same vowel. They indicate that that vowel is to be sounded as two short, raised sounds in immediate succession. Being, in effect, a long sound, the notation is called dīrgha-svaritaḥ. Also see svaraḥ, udāttaḥ, anudāttaḥ.
svarūpa-jñānam
Knowledge, jñānam, of one's intrinsic nature, svarūpam, which means knowledge that one's intrinsic nature is solely pure consciousness.
svarūpa-lakṣaṇam
A definition that unfolds the svarūpam, the essential, intrinsic nature of something by lakṣaṇam, implication, for example, a definition of absolute reality in which its intrinsic nature is directly revealed through implication; see taṭastha-lakṣaṇam, lakṣaṇam, jahadajahallakṣaṇā, upalakṣaṇā.
svarūpam
Intrinsic, essential nature; that which is inherent, natural, changeless, not incidental nor acquired but innate for the object or individual. For example, the svarūpam of īśvaraḥ is consciousness. Similarly, the svarūpam of fire is heat – and, as with īśvaraḥ, that nature is unchanging. See svabhāvaḥ and prakṛtiḥ.
svasvarūpa-anusandhānam
Meditation on (continuously dwelling upon) one's own true nature; synonym of nididhyāsanam.
svataḥ
By oneself; by itself. (svataḥ siddham, self-evident).
svatantram
Independence (of will); self-dependence; free-will; capacity of choice. This capacity is the essence of kartā, agency, and hence the source of the generation of puṇya-pāpam. See paratantram
svātmani avasthānam
Abidance in one's own self through knowledge; one who, free from doership, has discovered fullness and so has all his desires fulfilled. Synonym of jīvan-muktiḥ.
svātma-vyatiriktam
Other than oneself.
svayam
On its own; by oneself; spontaneously; effortlessly. Svayam-jyotiḥ, self-effulgent.
svayambhū
Self-existent; self-manifested; self-born
svayam-siddha
Self-accomplished. I do not need to do something to know, feel or experience the self. Being awareness, it is ever present and self-evident in all that is known, felt or experienced, even if normally remaining obscured and unnoticed due to prevailing thoughts, feelings and perceptions taking centre stage. Even so, prevailing thoughts, feelings, etc., are pointers to the true self, for it is their substratum.
tādātmyam
Identity; nature; character; that which one takes oneself to be.
taijasaḥ
A term for a form of ahaṅkāraḥ in which ātmā is identified with the subtle body, sūkṣma-śarīram, in the dream state, svapna-avasthā (and hence also associated with the kāraṇa-śarīram from which its content arises). In svapnaḥ, taijasaḥ undergoes the experience of dream (in which free-will cannot occur). Taijasaḥ does not know or apprehend reality and has misconceptions about it. The universal or samaṣṭiḥ equivalent is Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, of which taijasaḥ is an individual or specific part, vyaṣṭiḥ – also see prājñaḥ, viśvaḥ.
tamaḥ (tamas)
Guṇaḥ signifying inertia, lethargy, delusion, habitual scepticism, day-dreaming, cessation (adj. tāmasika). Tamas is also the name given to the manifestation of the dravya-śaktiḥ, the power of inertia, inherent in māyā. Tamas manifests as the veiling power, known as the āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ.
In tamas, sattva and rajas remain overpowered (as good as resolved or unmanifest). Dominance of tamas in a person's mind brings delusion, born of ignorance. Tamas (seemingly) binds a person by completely covering the buddhi, the capacity to discern true from false, right from wrong – including in ordinary, everyday situations. The resulting delusion brings pramādaḥ, negligence or indolence, ālasya, slothfulness or laziness, and nidrā, sleep (both literal and spiritual). When tamas dominates in the mind it produces neither puñyam nor pāpam, it wastes life. Also see sattvam (sattva), rajaḥ (rajas).
tanmātram
Subtle, pure, uncombined element (of which there are five) forming the subtle basis for the entire cosmos. The sattvam aspects of the five tanmātras give rise to the five senses (and, in combination, to manaḥ and buddhiḥ). The rajas aspects give rise to the five karmendriyas (and, in combination, to the five prāṇas). The tamas aspects of the five tanmātras give rise, through the process of pañcīkaraṇam, to the five gross elements.
tanmātra-viveka-prakriyā
A form of sṛṣṭi-viveka-prakriyā in which the mind is pointed towards ātmā through emphasising the emergence of the five gross elements from their respective subtle or tanmātram origin (ātmā being subtler still).
tāpaḥ
Heat; affliction or mental agony which scorches like heat, causing pain; affliction; difficulty. Also see ādhyātmika-tāpaḥ, ādhibhautika-tāpaḥ, ādhidaivika-tāpaḥ.
tapaḥ (tapas)
Religious discipline; purificatory penance or austerity; adherence to disciplines leading to self-knowledge. "Committed, relevant action in line with dharmaḥ."* Part of niyamaḥ.
tapasvī
An ascetic; one who is committed to relevant action in line with dharmaḥ.
tarkaḥ
Logic; reasoning. A philosophical system based on reasoning and conjecture. Used to remove erroneous notions entertained about reality by the aspirant. Being based on sensory information, logic is insufficient by itself for discovering reality (as reality is not objectifiable) but it's useful as a support for śrutiḥ and in defending Vedāntaḥ from challenges. Although the tarkikas, logicians, accept the Vedaḥ, they give chief importance to logic. See yuktiḥ and nyāyaḥ.
tat (tad)
That. A pronoun often used for ultimate reality, as in tat-tvam-asi, you are That. The direct meaning of 'that' is Brahman, the one endowed with all knowledge. The implied meaning is pure consciousness, that which is free from limiting adjuncts. By pointing to Brahman with the word 'that', yet not defining it, the error of presuming to limit the limitless via a definition is avoided.
taṭastha-lakṣaṇam
A statement that defines something in terms of its real or apparent connection to something else. It makes use of something which, although it is distinct from an entity's intrinsic nature, is nevertheless something by which that entity is known. For example, Brahman is known (definable) as the only source of the manifestation, sustenance and resolution of the universe. Likewise, "The house with the crow on the roof" defines a house in a way that is incidental, not intrinsic. See lakṣaṇam, svarūpa-lakṣaṇam, jahallakṣaṇā, ajahallakṣaṇā, jahadajahallakṣaṇā, upalakṣaṇā.
tātparyam
Purport; intention; essential meaning; essential theme. See ṣaḍ-liṅgāni.
tattva-jñānam
Knowledge of the truth; knowing the true nature of myself, the world and God; synonym of brahma-jñānam and ātma-jñānam. See jīvanmuktiḥ.
tattva-jñānārtha-darśanam
Keeping in view the aim and purpose of the knowledge of truth, of self-knowledge, namely freedom from limitation.
tattvam
Truth; reality; the existence or truth of everything (tasya bhāvaḥ) of every object, indicated by the pronoun tat, 'that'; element; essence. The word tat-tvam may be literally translated as 'that-ness', the state or condition of being 'that', but really tattvam is the svarūpam of Brahman. See tattvamasi.
tattvamasi
'You are that' (Chāndogya 6.8.7). In this famous compound word, which contains the whole of Vedāntaḥ, the word tat, that, refers to Brahman, pure consciousness. The word tvam, you, points both to its literal meaning, namely the ordinary individual, and to the implied meaning, namely his/her svarūpam, pure consciousness. The word asi means are.
In brief, the mahāvākyam is saying (implying) that the essence of you, the individual (namely, pure consciousness) is not different from Brahman and hence the equation stands. It of course does not stand if tvam is instead taken in its literal sense to refer to the bound, ignorant, indvidual waker or dreamer (and/or tat is taken to mean Brahman with its sarvajñaḥ).
However, by expressing the equation in this two-fold way, you, the individual (experienced as 'I') are being shown that you are not what you take yourself to be – I am, in truth, limitless, ever-free, pure knowledge (as is Brahman). It also shows that Brahman is not some remote entity: in essence, Brahman and I are one. See jahadajahallakṣaṇā and mahāvākyam and also see ahaṃ brahmāsmi, ayamātmā brahma, prajñānaṃ brahma.
tattvavit
Knower of the truth; an ātmajñānī.
tejaḥ (tejas)
Brightness, lustre of countenance; light; brilliance; fire; the Fire element.
ṭīkā
Explanatory notes on a commentary, bhaṣyam. These notes (sometimes called a ṭippaṇī or gloss) serve to introduce the topic by explaining the sentences of the bhāṣyam or a particular word in a sentence. A ṭīkā is not an independent work because it follows the bhāṣyam line by line, sentence by sentence. The most famous ṭīkās are by Ānandagiri. See bhaṣyam, vārtikam and kārikā.
tīrtham
Purifier; pilgrimage site; holy place; water sanctified with mantras.
tiryak
Horizontal, horizontally (a descriptive term for creatures that grow horizontally, namely animals).
tithiḥ
Date; lunar date.
titikṣā
Cheerful forebearance; endurance; cheerfully (objectively) bearing opposites such as heat and cold, and honour and dishonour with equanimity, which means without anxiety, complaint or retaliation.
Titikṣā is the capacity to deal cheerfully and objectively with external conditions and events that are beyond our control – it does not mean allowing pain to happen and then putting up with it.
Titikṣā is developed by willingly undergoing minor difficulties without dwelling on or lamenting them – and while also not seeking a remedy that will make the voluntary tapas easier or shorter. See ṣaṭka-sampattiḥ – also see śamaḥ, damaḥ, uparamaḥ, śraddhā, samādhānam.
tīvra-mumukṣuḥ
A person with an intense (tīvra) desire for freedom (mumukṣuḥ).
traividyāḥ
Those who have studied all three Vedas and gained a thorough knowledge of karma-kāṇḍaḥ.
tripuṭi-bhedaḥ
Three-fold (tripuṭī) difference (bheda) – knower, knowledge, known; seer, sight, seen; experiencer, experience, experienced, etc.
triṣṭup
Name of a Vedic metre of 44 syllables (11 per quarter); name of a hymn composed in this metre; frequently used in the Ṛgvedaḥ and occasionally used in the Bhagavad-Gītā (for example, Gītā 2.5). See gāyatrī, anuṣṭup.
tṛptiḥ
Satisfaction; contentment. The jñānī is ever satisfied, ever content. Happiness and fulfilment are his own svarūpam. They are not dependent on experiences and puṇyam and are recognised to be ever-present in all circumstances. In this way, all desires are as good as satisfied, for the happiness they aim at is already his.
tṛṣṇā
Thirst; strong desire or craving; strong longing for that which is absent; avidity; lust; greed; also see pipāsā. A student who is properly qualified for brahma-vidyā has no thirst, no craving, for objects or pleasures in this world or in higher worlds.
tuccham
Non-existent; unreal; (also known as atyanta-abhāvaḥ, absolute or endless non-existence); empty; vain; never can exist; for example, the son of a barren woman (vandhyā putraḥ), a square circle. See sat, asat, satyam, mithyā.
tūlāvidyā
Secondary ignorance; inability to discern that which is right or wrong in ordinary, worldly situations; ignorance of worldly matters such as a street name or politeness or art or botany; see mūlāvidyā.
turīya
Fourth; not a state of experience but an adjective attributed to the ātmā – the only knower in all three states of experience – to distinguish it from the three states (like a fourth entity or person). It is only the appearance of the other three that causes us to count turīya as 'fourth' – from its own perspective it is all there is.
Turīyam (noun) 'the fourth' is pure, divisionless, objectless consciousness, independent of all the three mithyā states of waking, dream and deep sleep – and yet all three, belonging (as they do) to a lower order of reality, are not independent of it, for turīyam is the unchangeable substratum of each.
To talk of gold, necklace, bracelet and ring is to talk of gold, for gold is that which is really, independently present as the substratum of the other three, all of which are appearances of gold. Moreover, gold is ever distinct from, but never distant from, the necklace, bracelet and ring – just so with turīyam.
Turīyam has neither misunderstanding nor misconception and is free from cause and effect. It is unqualifiable, indivisible, and not experienceable in any subject-object sense of 'experience'. No one can claim to have experienced turīyaṃ. It is knowable only by recognition of it being the truth of oneself. Repeated dwelling on this recognition is nididhyāsanam. See ekātma-pratyaya-sāram.
The adjective 'fourth' has no numerical significance. There is no fourth state of experience. See jāgrad-avasthā, waking state; svapna-avasthā, dream state; suṣupti-avasthā, deep-sleep state; avasthā-trayam, the three states of experience. See jñānam, jñāptiḥ, śuddha-caitanyam, vidyā and vijñānam.
tuṣṭa
Pleased; contented.
tvak
Skin; subtle power of touch (invisible in skin). The word tvak refers to both the physical organ and to the conscious power of touch pervading it – this is the same with all powers of perception and action: in referring to the organ, the name refers to its power. See indriyam.
tvam
You (second-person-singular pronoun).
tyāgaḥ
Renunciation; sacrifice; dedication; withdrawal; abandoning. Since the purpose of renunciation is purification (namely maturity) of the mind, tyāgaḥ means renunciation of attachment to the results of action and also renunciation of the actual results themselves.
Renunciation of attachment to the results of action entails disavowing any form of ulterior motive (typically in the form of rāga-dveśas) when doing what needs to be done.
Renunciation of results means being unconcerned about reaping the fruits of action. The results are regarded as prasādaḥ.
Disinterest in the results of action occurs when my principal concern or my priority is mental preparation for knowledge – knowledge itself being mokṣaḥ, the ultimate goal. That preparation takes the form of the development of sufficient emotional maturity. (Note: yajñaḥ, dānam and tapas are actions that are not to be given up).
udānaḥ
Upward breath (manifesting as hiccups, coughing, sneezing, vomiting); an aspect of prāṇaḥ that reverses a process.
The udānaḥ is the upward breath by which the jīvaḥ exits the body at death.
The total number of breaths in each lifetime is set at birth by prārabdha-karma, to which prāṇaḥ is directly connected. That number cannot be increased or decreased. (An inhalation and its exhalation constitute one breath.) Suicide solves nothing: unfinished prārabdha, measured in unfinished breaths, becomes played out in the mind after bodily death. Even though unhealthy living weakens the body, it does not shorten life; it can bring poor health both before death and in a future life. Also see apānaḥ, elimination; samānaḥ, digestion; vyānaḥ, circulation.
udāsīna
One who does not take sides (does not sit with either competing group); indifferent; neutral; neither friend nor foe; unprotesting; (āsīna, one who is seated).
udāttaḥ
Neutral; a chanting tone that has neither a high nor a low pitch (no line appears above or below a vowel in the devanāgarī text); also see svaraḥ, svaritaḥ, anudāttaḥ.
udgīthaḥ
Oṃ; praṇavaḥ; sung; announced; celebrated; a sonorous prayer, prescribed in the Sāmavedaḥ to be sung aloud.
umā
Wife of Śivaḥ, also known as Pārvatī; the constituent phonetic elements of Oṃ (a-u-m) put in a different order; power in three conditions: gross, subtle, unmanifest.
upacāraḥ
Figurative; a figure of speech; honouring.
upādāna-kāraṇam
Material (upādānam), cause (kāraṇam); two types:
Pariṇāmi-upādāna-kāraṇam, a material cause in which the causal material itself undergoes a change when causing (becoming) an effect, for example, churned butter becoming ghee, water becoming ice (or vice-versa).
Vivarta-upādāna-kāraṇam, a material cause in which the causal material undergoes no change in the arising of an effect, such as mother-of-pearl appearing to be silver, rope as the cause of a 'snake'.
Brahman is the upādāna-kāraṇam of the jagat in the vivarta (unchanging) sense. See pariṇāmaḥ and vivartaḥ, and also see nimitta-kāraṇam and satkāryavādaḥ.
upādānam
Material – that which lends support to the effect, remaining inseparable from it, for example, clay re pot.
upadeśaḥ
Teaching; instruction. The teaching corrects misconceptions about that which is real. To do so it communicates in two principal ways: by negation, niṣedha-vṛttiḥ and by implication, lakṣaṇa-vṛttiḥ. First, erroneous ideas about oneself, the world and God are dismissed by negation (by revealing the error). Then their nature, which cannot be pointed to (as worldly objects can) is shown by implication.
"The meaning of the teaching has to be conveyed with such clarity that both the person and the words disappear and the meaning alone remains."*
upādhiḥ
That which seemingly transfers its attribute(s) to a nearby recipient, an upahitam, by staying close to it. (The translation 'limiting or conditioning adjunct' is poor and misleading as the limitation produced by the upādhiḥ is only apparent – 'manifesting medium' might be better.)
If a red Hibiscus flower, for example, is brought close to a colourless lump of clear crystal, the crystal (the upahitam) appears red. From having no colour, the crystal apparently has the attribute 'red' – the red flower has become a manifesting medium for redness. The crystal is never red (and limited only to red) and yet, undeniably, for a time it appears so.
The upādhiḥ in this example is the flower, not its redness. But the flower does not function as an upādhiḥ unless it is close to the crystal. So, it is the item and the effect of its close proximity – namely the seeming transfer of one or more of its attributes – that together make for an upādhiḥ.
However, this crystal-flower example is not to be taken too literally. When the upahitam is ātmā, whatever its upādhiḥ may be, that upādhiḥ is of a different order of reality, it is mithyā, and so need only be separated cognitively. See sopādhi, nirupādhi, upahitam and anyonyādhyāsaḥ.
upahitam
Put on or upon; mixed; that upon which an upādhiḥ subsists; ātmā associated with an upādhiḥ is said to be an upahitam – the two cannot be distanced physically.
upalabdhi
Observation; perception; becoming aware of; understanding. Upalabdhi-sthānam a place of recognition.
upalakṣaṇā
Implication of something that has not or cannot be expressed, for example the use of a large number to express innumerability or non-countability; metaphor; feature; characteristics; see lakṣaṇam; also see jahallakṣaṇā, ajahallakṣaṇā, jahadajahallakṣaṇā, svarūpalakṣaṇam, taṭasthalakṣaṇam.
upamānam
Knowledge arising from comparison, similarity or illustration. For example, if someone has never seen a bison, he can be told it looks like (can be pictured as similar to) a buffalo. One of the six pramāṇas – see the others: anumānam, anupalabdhiḥ, arthāpattiḥ, pratyakṣam, śabdaḥ.
upanayanam
Sacred thread ceremony; a boy's initiation into the study of the scriptures at ages 7-11. Upa, near, nayanam, taking, leading; taking the student to the teacher and leaving him there for studying the scriptures. This is one of the very important saṁskāryas or rituals performed for the mental refinement of the individual. Only after the performance of this upanayana-saṁskāryaḥ is the child eligible to learn and chant the Gāyatrī-Mantraḥ and also eligible for scriptural study.
upaniṣad
Forms the jñāna-kāṇḍaḥ, knowledge section at the end (antaḥ) of each Vedaḥ and so is known as Vedāntaḥ, the end and fulfilment of the Vedas. There are more than 100 extant Upaniṣads.
The word Upaniṣad means brahma-vidyā. It is derived from the dhātuḥ or verbal root, 'sad', meaning 'to destroy, to reach, to weaken', which is saying an Upaniṣad will destroy ignorance of brahma-vidyā, thus allowing the seeker to attain the truth of oneself. It also destroys ignorance-caused saṁsāraḥ. The prefix 'upa' means 'near', 'that which is nearest', namely the seeker's svarūpam, ātmā, which is identical with Brahman. The prefix 'ni' stands for niścaya jñānam, well-ascertained knowledge. 'Upa' and 'ni' together refer to brahma-vidyā, knowledge of ātmā being Brahman. So, the word ‘upaniṣad’ means: “That which, by destroying ignorance, reveals brahma-vidyā.”
It is important to appreciate that it is not the words of an Upaniṣad that liberate, but the properly ascertained and assimilated meaning of the words.
The ten major or principal Upaniṣads (so-named because Ādi-Śaṅkara-Bhagavatpādaḥ wrote commentaries, bhāṣyams, on them) are: Aitareya, Bṛhadāraṇyaka, Chāndogya, īśāvāsya, Kaṭha, Kena, Māṇḍūkya, Muṇḍaka, Praśna, Taittirīya.
upapattiḥ
Tenability; proof; ascertained conclusion; reason; substantiation; logical support provided by commentators demonstrating the absence of supposed or apparent loopholes in scriptural statements.
uparamaḥ (uparatiḥ)
A calm, steady, quiet mind that, due to being disciplined through śamaḥ and damaḥ, no longer turns habitually or mechanically to outer sensory involvement, but instead is able to follow svadharmaḥ.
Due to control of the will (via vivekaḥ) the thoughts, feelings and impulses that would previously distract one from staying with that which is important are now easily not indulged and the mind has become alert, poised and available for whatever is necessary. Now one lives in charge of one's life instead of being in thrall to the push and pull of sense-objects. See ṣaṭka-sampattiḥ, śamaḥ, damaḥ, titikṣā, śraddhā, samādhānam.
upāsakaḥ
Meditator (one who dwells upon the Lord, upon īśvaraḥ); contemplator (one who dwells upon one's own real nature).
upaśamaḥ
Resolution (of a problem or error into a greater whole); alleviation or cessation of a problem (especially of the problem of saṁsāraḥ) resulting in calmness and absence of distress. Such resolution is the fruit of careful enquiry, vicāraḥ. For example, when there is knowledge of the self being fullness, rāga-dvesas, the fuel for various pursuits, are gone and thus the pursuits are resolved.
upasamhāraḥ
Summing up; conclusion.
upāsanam
Meditating or dwelling upon in homage or worship, or in the seeking of knowledge of one's own self. A formal definition for upāsanam is saguṇa-brahma-viṣaya-mānasa-vyāpāraḥ a mental activity whose object is saguṇa-brahma (īśvaraḥ). Upāsanam and dhyānam are synonyms.
Upāsanam takes care of malaḥ and vikṣepaḥ (respectively, the impurities of the mind and the agitation, restlessness and extrovertedness of the mind). Karma-yogaḥ (along with, perhaps, the parallel practice of aṣṭāṅga-yogaḥ) purifies the mind. Combined with upāsana-yogaḥ, one-pointedness and expansion of the mind is attained. When used as a preparatory means for self-knowledge, upāsanam is practised to develop sufficient focus and subtlety of mind (through reducing malaḥ and vikṣepaḥ) to hear the teaching properly. Then, during śravanam, the teaching may be better understood.
"To see everything as Bhagavān is upāsanam or dhyānam. To see everything is Bhagavān is jñānam."*
There are two types of upāsanam, namely ahaṅgraha upāsanam and sampat upāsanam.
upāyaḥ
Means; method; remedy; plan; upāyaḥ covers both primary and secondary means, it covers everything necessary. See upeya.
upekṣā
A highly mature dispassion in which there is no rāgaḥ or dveśaḥ, no expectations from the world; disregard; indifference.
upeya
Having attainability; capable of being attained.
ūrṇanābhiḥ
Spider – an example of an entity being both a material cause, upādāna-kāraṇam, and an efficient cause, nimitta-kāraṇam, in this case of its web; ūrṇam (thread), nābhiḥ (stomach) 'one who has thread in the stomach'.
utkrāntiḥ
'Proceeding up'; passing away; dying; departure of the soul from the body.
utkṛṣṭa
Exalted; superior; eminent.
utpattiḥ
Production or creation, (utpādyam) for example, "He produced a fine portrait of her" – the production of something is one of the four possible results of karma, action – also see vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam), modification; āptiḥ (āpyam), attainment; saṁskṛtiḥ (saṁskāryam), refinement.
utsavaḥ
Festival; celebration; ceremony.
uttama
Highest; best; most exalted; greatest; ultimate; most profound.
vācikam karma
Oral action; any oral activity; action of speaking, chanting.
In saguṇa-brahma-upāsanam or īśvara-upāsanam, worship of the Lord is a three-fold activity: kāyikam karma, vācikam karma and mānasam karma.
Kāyam means body, so kāyikam karma includes activity involving the physical body, such as waving a light, ringing a bell, offering food, cooking food, decoration of deities, etc. Orally reciting verses or chanting mantras or singing in praise of the Lord (invoking grace) is oral activity, vācikam karma, which can be with or without kāyikam karma. In kāyikam and vācikam karma the mind is involved, having only the thought of the Lord. However, in mānasam karma, purely mental activity, body and speech are not involved. Mānasam karma can be mānasa japaḥ (mentally repeating a mantraḥ) or visualising the form of the Lord as a given deity (as described in jñāna ślokāh) with focused attention. See mānasam karma, kāyikam karma.
vācyārthaḥ
The direct, literal meaning of word(s); see lakṣyārthaḥ, mukhyārthaḥ, vyaṅgyārthaḥ.
vādaḥ
Speech; discourse; statement; thesis; proposition; doctrine; discussion. See:
ābhāsa-vādaḥ
adhyāropa-apavāda-viveka-prakriyā
ajāti-vādaḥ
apavādaḥ
apavāda-vākyam
asat-kārya-vādaḥ
avaccheda-vādaḥ
bhedābheda-vādaḥ
brahma-kārya-vādaḥ
dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vādaḥ
jñāna-karma samuccaya-vādaḥ
karma-kārya-vādaḥ
kṣaṇika-vijñāna-vādaḥ
pratibimba-vādaḥ
sat-kārya-vādaḥ
One form of vādaḥ is known simply as vādaḥ and is an open-minded, unbiased discussion between equals to resolve a disagreement and establish the truth – both think they are right, yet are ready to listen to and accept the other’s view. For other forms of discussion, see samvādaḥ, jalpa-vādaḥ, vitaṇḍa-vādaḥ.
vaidyaḥ
Doctor; physician. Bhagavān is the real and ultimate vaidyaḥ, the grace of whose knowledge alone cures bhavarogaḥ, the disease of saṁsāraḥ.
vaikharī
Fourth and final stage of the manifestation of speech or sound: when the power that is parā reaches the viśuddha cakram (at the throat) the words chosen at the madhyamā stage assume a final spoken form, vaikharī, and fully articulated sound (speech) arises at the forefront of the mind and/or emerges from the mouth – also see parā, paśyantī, madhyamā.
vairāgyam
(The state of) dispassion, detachment, objectivity (neuter form of virāgaḥ – free from rāgaḥ, passion or attachment); absence of dependence on results of action for one's happiness; absence of desire for enjoyments here (in this world) and hereafter.
Passion here refers to the passions of attachment and aversion or the impulses of like and dislike, due to śobhanādhyāsaḥ. Wherever there is attachment there will be dveṣaḥ, aversion. Both are forms of desire, which is born of adhyāsaḥ, misconception, followed by adhyāropaḥ, the superimposition of false characteristics (leading to false valuations). But vairāgyam does not mean no enjoyment, it means enjoyment without dependence or addiction.
Dispassion – freedom from being ruled by the pull and push of attachment and aversion – is developed from seeing again and again the limitations of everything, and seeing that everything is subject to time and so cannot give permanent happiness (timeless reality alone gives timeless happiness). More specifically, it's developed by seeing that all action is inherently flawed because all achievements involve some degree of suffering. All pleasure, for instance, involves pain in its attainment, its loss and sometimes even pain in its enjoyment. Secondly, being limited, an action's result can never give limitless satisfaction, and thirdly, all action binds as it produces a result that has to be met sometime, somewhere.
Only someone of dispassion is capable of hearing the teaching without adding his own interpretations, or distorting it to fit his preconceptions; only someone of dispassion is capable of the focused attention needed to hear it undistractedly; only someone of dispassion will have the subtlety of mind required to understand the teaching clearly. Such hearing alone liberates.
Vairāgyam without vivekaḥ, its forerunner, is impossible. See bhagaḥ and sādhana-catuṣṭayam.
vaiśamya-avasthā
State of 'unuven-ness or disproportion' in which the equilibrium of the three guṇas is disturbed; a state opposite to śamya-avasthā, in which they are in equilibrium.
vaiṣamya-nairghṛṇya-doṣaḥ
The flaw of partiality and pitilessness. Due to the difficulties some experience, the Lord may be thought to be guilty of the flaw of pitiless partiality in the bestowal of 'favours' such as grace or even of mokṣaḥ. However, neither is bestowed but earned in line with the unbending law of dharmaḥ. See doṣaḥ, pratyavāya-doṣaḥ and viṣaya-doṣaḥ.
vaiśeṣikaḥ
A philosophy or school of thought (founded by Kaṇādaḥ) with its own metaphysics, epistemology, logic, etc., that is at variance with Vedāntaḥ in some respects. For example, vaiśeṣikaḥ asserts that there are many separate ātmās, and that only pratyakṣam (perception) and anumānam (inference) are valid and reliable pramāṇas (means of knowledge). Hence, its adherents appear in Vedāntaḥ bhāṣyams as opponents, as do pūrvamīmāṃsakaḥ, sāṅkhyam, cārvākaḥ, bauddhaḥ and naiyāyikaḥ.
vaiśvānaraḥ
Omnipresent; all-pervasive. The entire gross manifestation, experienced in the waking state (jāgrad-avasthā) and looked upon as a manifestation of the knowledge that is the Lord, is known as Vaiśvānaraḥ or Virāṭ (the words are synonyms). The individual or vyaṣṭiḥ aspect of Virādīśvaraḥ is viśvaḥ, namely ātmā associated with an individual body-mind-sense complex in the waking state. (Vaiśvānaraḥ is also the deity of the digestive fire and of the sun and sunlight, and also a name for mankind as a collective whole.) See antaryāmī, Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, Virāṭ.
vaiśyaḥ
A person born into the third varṇaḥ – a businessman, trader, farmer, accountant, etc.; also see brāhmaṇaḥ, priest; kṣatriyaḥ, soldier; śūdraḥ, labourer.
vāk
Speech, namely the power or faculty of speech. Speech should be non-agitating, true, pleasing and beneficial (Gītā 17.15).
vāksiddhiḥ
Perfection in speech, in which whatever is spoken turns out to be true; result of observance of truthfulness.
vākyam
Sentence; statement (or even 'a whole subject matter').
vākyārthaḥ
The meaning of a sentence or statement. This meaning is not necessarily the direct or literal meaning. The speaker or writer's clearly implied or intended meaning should be the meaning taken.
vallī
A specific section or part of a text.
vālmīkī
Author of the Rāmāyaṇam.
vānaprasthaḥ
Third of the four āśramas of Vedic life – retirement to the forest, vanam (figuratively) which means withdrawal from the participation and engagement that is usual in gṛhasthaḥ and entry into a quieter, more reflective period of life, spending time in upāsanam in preparation for sannyāsaḥ. See brahmacaryam, studentship; gṛhasthaḥ, householder; sannyāsaḥ, renunciation.
vandanam
Worship; praise; salutation; reverence.
vandhyā putraḥ
Son of a barren woman – a famous example of tuccham, non-existence, something that never can exist. (Vandhyā, barren, fruitless, unproductive – said of biologically faulty women, plants, female animals.)
varaḥ
Boon; reward; blessing.
varaṇam
Choice; selection; act of choosing. Mokṣaḥ has to be deliberately chosen, it is not something that can just occur. Ātma-varaṇam, choosing self-knowledge, depends on putting aside all one thinks one knows about oneself in order to look freshly into that which is actually real about oneself. This can only be from choosing to do so. Such a choice depends on some degree of recognition of the falsity and severity of one's apparent limitations. That recognition provides the spur to look, to enquire.
varcaḥ (varcas)
Brilliance; lustre.
vareṇyam
Exalted; supreme; praiseworthy; incomparably great; worthy of worship.
variṣṭha
Best; most exalted.
varjita
Devoid of (dvaita-varjita, devoid of duality).
varṇaḥ
That characteristic by which something is described or understood; nature; outward appearance; cover; colour; species; class; tribe; letter; alphabet; sound; syllable.
varṇāśramaḥ
Class of people; caste; see brāhmaṇaḥ, priest; kṣatriyaḥ, soldier; vaiśyaḥ, businessman; śūdraḥ, labourer. See āśrama-dharmaḥ.
vartamāna-kālaḥ
The present time; the present; (gram.) present tense; (vartamāna, turning; moving; existing); see kālaḥ, bhūta-kālaḥ, bhaviṣyat-kālaḥ.
vārtikam
Independent exposition, in verse, of a bhāṣyam (a commentary) – not an exposition of the original text. Each vārtikam is by Sureśvarācārya, an original disciple of Ādi-Śaṅkaraḥ whose bhāṣyams he was elucidating with his vārtikams. Each vārtikam is not a ṭīkā because it either goes beyond the bhāṣyam or is a further explanation of the bhāṣyam. The vārtikams of Sureśvarācārya were so well received they gave rise to a Vedānta school of that name. See kārikā.
varuṇaḥ
Presiding deity of water.
vāsaḥ
Home; house; residence; (nivāsaḥ, absolute abode).
vāsanā
Impression created in the waking state and stored in the subconscious. Whatever is actively dwelt upon creates an impression in the subconscious mind. When triggered, that impression rises to influence thought, speech and action.
These innumerable impressions, created both in this present birth and in countless prior ones, emerge in the conscious mind as habitual, involuntary thoughts, inclinations, feelings or tendencies that induce a person to initiate or avoid actions or experiences.
In this way vāsanās may influence for better or worse a person's saṁskāraḥ, refinement of being. However, because of free will, a taste or tendency might or might not be allowed to impel action! Prārabdha-karma, destiny, is formed only when the impulse is acted upon, only when actual mental, oral or physical action happens. Destiny, unfailing lawful consequence, is from action done, not from action not done.
Good vāsanās aid spiritual progress while bad ones hinder it. Bad vāsanās can be countered by cultivating ones of opposite nature (good habits prevent or displace bad ones). Spiritual aspirants therefore displace or neutralise the impure vāsanās that plague them (and others!) by cultivating purer ones.
There are three types of impure vāsanāviṣaya-vāsanā, śāstra-vāsanā and deha-vāsanās.
Since vāsanās are mithyā they do not have to be eliminated for mokṣaḥ to take place – also see puṇyam, pāpam, dharmaḥ and prārabdha-karma.
vāsanākṣaya
Elimination or destruction of vāsanās implying their exhaustion. It is neither possible nor necessary to exhaust or destroy all vāsanās. Instead, rendering them ineffective by their neutralisation is what is needed. The śāstram mentions vāsanā exhaustion, but it is purely with reference to the preparedness of the mind (antaḥkaraṇa-śuddhiḥ). Neutralisation of these deep-seated orientations or influences that drive a person into error, perpetuating saṁsāraḥ, is through vicāraḥ, enquiry and nididhyāsanam. It is aided by understanding that all vāsanās are mithyā and therefore dependent on the satyam that is one's svarūpam, one's true nature. See jīvan-muktiḥ.
vasiṣṭhaḥ
Name of a great and famous sage of legendary wisdom; preceptor of Lord Rāmaḥ and owner of Nandinī (Kāmadhenuḥ) the wish-fulfilling cow of plenty.
vastu
That which exists; reality; existence itself and hence the very substratum (the very existence) of whatever nāma-rūpam manifests from it. All that manifests from the vastu is mithyā and hence: "The vastu alone is free; nothing else in saṁsāraḥ is free."*
vāsudevaḥ
A name of Kṛṣṇaḥ; son of Vasudevaḥ.
vaṭa-vṛkṣaḥ
Banyan tree.
vāyuḥ
God of wind; the element Air; subtle aspect of touch; appreciable through sound and touch; also see pāñcabhautikam the five-element model of the universe – ākāśaḥ, space; vāyuḥ, air; agniḥ, fire; āpaḥ, waters; pṛthivī, earth.
vedaḥ
Revealed knowledge in a sacred, ancient śāstram that is apauruṣeya, not of human origin. The Vedaḥ is a timeless means of knowledge that becomes manifest every time the universe becomes manifest.
Even though widely revered as a scripture, the true sacredness and ultimate purpose of the Vedaḥ is as a pramāṇam for discovering reality, and it should be used (operated) as such.
Scripture is something that has been spoken by a given mahātma. Thereafter, it becomes a mandate to be followed by others. In contrast, the Vedaḥ, being a pramāṇam, its subject matter is something to be revealed. Therefore, it is operated by those seeking to understand what it reveals. That which is revealed by the Vedaḥ is not a matter for belief. Being a pramāṇam, it is universal.
The Vedaḥ was compiled into four texts: Ṛg-vedaḥ, Sāma-vedaḥ, Yajur-vedaḥ, Atharvaṇa-vedaḥ by the mahāmuniḥ (great sage) known as Veda-vyāsaḥ. The Yajur-vedaḥ consists of the Śukla-yajur-vedaḥ and the Kṛṣṇa-yajur-vedaḥ, effectively giving five Vedas. Each Vedaḥ consists of a prior section (Veda-pūrva) known as the karma-kāṇḍaḥ or ritual section followed by a final or end section (Veda-anta) also known as the jñāna-kāṇḍaḥ or knowledge section (the Upaniṣads). In the context of ritual, only three Vedas (Ṛg, Yajus, Sāma) may be counted. The Atharvaṇa is not counted with the other three as it does not have a prominent rôle in ritual.
The Vedaḥ expects every follower of the Vedaḥ to start with the karma section, the religious way of life. One should start with the religious life and graduate into the spiritual life revealed in the jñānam section. Without a religious life, spirituality will not work. Without spirituality, a religious life is incomplete. Therefore, the follower of the Vedaḥ should follow a religious life and go to spirituality.
vedāṅgaḥ
Texts of six auxiliary sciences required for understanding the Vedaḥ, namely:
chandas
jyotiṣam
kalpaḥ
niruktam
śikṣā
vyākaraṇam
vedāntaḥ
End, conclusion, antaḥ (literally and metaphorically) of each Vedaḥ. It is the very summit, the final aim and fulfilment of the Vedas, namely Veda-antaḥ.
Vedāntaḥ is the jñāna-kāṇḍaḥ (the Upaniṣads), that section of the Vedas that deals with self-knowledge, for which the earlier part, the karma-kāṇḍaḥ, is in preparation.
Vedāntaḥ enshrines śabda-pramāṇam, the ultimate and primary means to mokṣaḥ. Discovery of absolute reality is discovery of Vedāntaḥ.
Vedāntaḥ is not subject to negation as it is not a philosophy, not a school of thought, not a system of ideas, not a set of contentions. It is a pramāṇam, a means of knowledge for a vision of reality that has to be understood rather than believed.
Not by replacing one set of notions with another, but by showing the error in mistaken ones, Vedāntaḥ reveals by implication the non-dual nature of reality. Hence, the term Advaita Vedāntaḥ is a tautology.
Vedāntaḥ is not part of what academics call the six systems of Indian philosophy. Neither is Vedāntaḥ for proselytisation, it is for sharing with those who seek it.
vibhu
All-pervasive (by being the invariable reality of all); not spatially limited; powerful.
vibhūtiḥ
A manifest exression of the glory and greatness of īśvaraḥ, for example, a flower, a tree, a painting, music, etc.; all that is manifest is an expression of the glory and greatness of the Lord.
vicāraḥ
Enquiry; investigation into the reality of oneself and the world, chiefly by śravaṇam, etc., of the Vedāntaḥ scriptures with the help of a competent ācāryaḥ. See avicāraḥ.
vicāraṇīya
Must be investigated; should be enquired into; must be considered; to be deliberated upon.
vicetasaḥ
One lacking discriminate understanding; unthinking person; unintelligent; someone unable to discern that which is proper or improper and so unable to learn from his/her experiences in life.
videhaḥ
Free from the body; dead; (sadehaḥ, embodied, alive).
videhamuktiḥ
Freedom after death; non-assumption of a body, meaning freedom from being born again. Videhamuktiḥ, also known as mukhyam amṛtattvam, absolute immortality, is only for the jñānī, namely, one who has already attained jīvanmuktiḥ. After death, the jñānī 'merges' into īśvaraḥ from the vyāvahārika perspective, or 'merges' into Brahman from the pāramārthika perspective. The cidābhāsaḥ, the individual reflection of consciousness, 'merges' into the total cidābhāsaḥ of īśvaraḥ, like pot-space 'merging' into total space when the pot breaks. The gross, subtle and causal bodies all 'merge' into their respective universal counterparts. In short, ātmā 'resumes' its identity with the birthless, deathless, limitless Brahman, an identity that had never actually been lost and never could be lost.
Some erroneously think that mokṣaḥ is inevitable after death, but if one does not properly ascertain that one is the paramātmā before death, it is another birth that is inevitable! See sadyomuktiḥ.
vidhiḥ
An injunction; a rule; a law; an order; a duty; destiny; something ordained.
vidhi-vākyam
A positive statement; knowledge expressed in positive terms by the śāstram. Such statements appear to contrast with niṣedha-vākyams that reveal Brahman by negating false ideas about it (thereby implying the truth!). However, the aim of even a vidhi-vākyam is to dismiss errors about Brahman, not to attempt positive definitions of the indefinable. Satyam jñānam anantam brahma, for example, seemingly defines Brahman, but, in fact, it dismisses what it is not, thereby implying what it is.
Both vidhi and niṣedha vākyams offer the same understanding of how things really are, and yet, although their approach differs, they ultimately use the same means, implication through negation, to bring that understanding!
vidvān
Scholar; learned person; wise person.
vidvat-sannyāsaḥ
See sannyāsaḥ.
vidyā
Knowledge in manifest form, which is two-fold: parā-vidyā and aparā-vidyā. (Vidyā and jñānam are synonyms.) See cit, jñānam, jñāptiḥ, śuddha-caitanyam, turīyam and vijñānam.
vidyamāna
Prevailing; prevalent (as); obtaining (as); be in force (as); hold good; being found (as); existent; present.
vighnaḥ
Obstacle; impediment; hindrance.
vihita-karma
Enjoined (ordained) action; (vihitam, order, command). The scriptures prescribe certain actions (such as pañcamahāyajñaḥ) that are of benefit to the world as a whole and from which all may benefit – and yet never do the scriptures insist, they only state (and encourage us in) that which is necessary for our well-being and eventual liberation. The scriptures also present what must happen if we neglect to do whatever is enjoined. Since, in common with most beneficial action, prescribed actions must be done regularly to be effective, vihita-karmas are also known as niyata, regular, karmas, actions.
Also see the four possible results of action: utpattiḥ (utpādyam) production; vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam) modification; āptiḥ (āpyam) attainment; saṁskṛtiḥ (saṁskāryam) refinement.
vijātīya
Of a different species; unlike.
vijaya
Absolute victory.
vijñānam
Since pure knowledge is the essence and substratum of all, vijñānam conveys a range of meanings: from truth itself, pure intelligence, to assimilated knowledge, and even specific, secular knowledge. For example, in relation to ātmā, vijñānam refers to fully assimilated knowledge devoid of pratibandhas, inhibiting factors. So, vijñānam is synonymous with aparokṣa-jñānam. See cit, jñānam, jñāptiḥ, śuddha-caitanyam, turīyam and vidyā.
vijñānamaya-kośaḥ
The kośaḥ consisting of the modifications of the intellect, buddhiḥ, together with the five powers of perception, jñānendriyāṇi (hearing, touching, seeing, tasting, smelling). It is pervaded by the ānandamaya-kośaḥ. The vijñānamaya-ātmā (ātmā identified with the vijñānamaya-kośaḥ) pervades and identifies with the manomaya-kośaḥ and hence the lowest two as well.
The vijñānamaya-ātmā, being both identified with and being the locus of the 'I'-thought, ahaṃ-vṛttiḥ, becomes the subject or knower, jñātā (I know, I don't know, I'm clever, I'm stupid). By making use of the prāṇamaya-kośaḥ it becomes the doer, kartā, (I achieved that, I am guilty of that, etc.). Everything else in the mind, including the world, is looked upon as 'this', idaṃ-vṛttiḥ, or 'object'.
This central figure, this ahaṅkāraḥ, this vijñānamaya-ātmā, is known as the jīvaḥ, who constantly undergoes change and is the immediate cause of saṁsāraḥ, as well as being the recipient of the upadeśaḥ, the teaching.
vijñānātmanā
The one knower in all intellects. It is non-different from Brahman.
vijñeyam
That which is to be (should be) known – implies ātmā.
vikalpaḥ
Doubt; alternative idea or option; imagination; division.
Vikalpaḥ means a division, imagination, superimposition (arising in ignorance) resulting in an error in perception that veils the truth. See kalpaḥ.
Such division leads to seeing options for action, options that make use of free will. Hence, two terms saṅkalpaḥ and vikalpaḥ are sometimes used together to refer to the activity of thinking in which manas fluctuates between certainty (saṅkalpaḥ) and uncertainty (vikalpaḥ) or an option for action and an alternative. It is the job of the buddhiḥ to resolve the question: to judge or decide between the options manas presents.
vikāraḥ
Change; transformation; alteration; effect; product; malady. (Nirvikāraḥ, beyond change, unchanging.)
vikriyā
Transformation; modification; change for the worse.
vikṛtiḥ
Modification, (vikāryam) for example, "His behaviour modified her view of him"; a change, in the form of a modification (even to the point of destruction) is one of the four possible results of karma, action – also see utpattiḥ (utpādyam), production; āptiḥ (āpyam), attainment; saṁskṛtiḥ (saṁskāryam), refinement.
Vikṛtiḥ is also a term for that which has prakṛtiḥ as its cause (at both the universal and individual level). In other words, it is a term for all subtle and gross matter and phenomena, for all that is the (inert) modification of māyā (and hence of avidyā).
vikṣepaḥ
Extrovertedness of the mind; overactive turning to outer concerns; strong emotions. Vikṣepaḥ is evident in the agitation, distraction, inattention and unconnected thoughts arising from the manifesting, scattering and tossing activity of vikṣepa-śaktiḥ. Born of the rajas of māyā, vikṣepaḥ is one of the four hindrances to meditation – the others are: kaṣāyam, layaḥ and rasāsvādaḥ. Vikṣepaḥ leads to vikṣipta.
vikṣepa-śaktiḥ
Rajas, the name of the active aspect of māyā, the kriyā-śaktiḥ, gives rise to the vikṣepa-śaktiḥ which by its projecting power creates the appearance of an external world (in which ātmā is mistaken for what it is not in adhyāsaḥ). Vikṣepa-śaktiḥ is the means (not the cause!) by which thought springs forth in the mind.
Vikṣepa-śaktiḥ is three-fold:
jñāna-śaktiḥ - the power to know
icchā-śaktiḥ - the power to desire
kriyā-śaktiḥ - the power to act
Knowing may lead to desire and then action. Also see āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ and śaktiḥ.
vikṣipta
Distracted, scattered (attention); unfocused (thought); bewildered (mind) – all caused by vikṣepa-śaktiḥ.
vilakṣaṇa
Distinct; distinguished (from).
vimocanam
Liberation; deliverance; release; unharnessing.
vināśaḥ
Destruction; annihilation.
viparināmaḥ
Modification; change; morphing; alteration; transformation; ripening; maturing; see ṣaḍ-bhāva-vikāraḥ.
viparīta
Contrary; perverse; wrong; false; erroneous; the very opposite of the truth.
viparīta-bhāvanā
Habit-driven self-misconception. Deep-rooted (mostly subliminal, and hence unseen and unquestioned) habitual error due to past orientations, vāsanā, manifesting as prārabdha-pāpam. It is this deeper form of pratibandhaḥ, this severe form of stubbornly persistent error (most commonly, identification with the body-mind-sense complex, but also including all forms of unquestioned obsessive thoughts and feelings that assume the world is independently real) which prevent the fulfilment and enjoyment of what has been understood through śravaṇam and mananam. Viparīta-bhāvanā are removed through nididhyāsanam. See malaḥ, asambhavaḥ, nididhyāsanam, sākṣātkāraḥ and pratibandhaḥ.
vipaścit
Learned; wise; one who sees clearly; person of right perception.
vipraḥ
One who, through study of the śāstram and strict adherence to dharmaḥ (having learnt its value) becomes relatively mature, is known as a vipraḥ, a learned person.
By the time of upanayanam a child is usually mature enough to obediently follow instructions, but not yet mature enough to properly understand the value of what is taught. Later in life, having developed a degree of vivekaḥ and vairāgyam from analysing life's experiences, having begun to live a life of dharmaḥ, and having begun to see that nothing in life brings meaningful, lasting happiness, the person begins serious study of the śāstram. Such study eventually leads to that person becoming vipraḥ, learned. From vipraḥ alone comes an adequate degree of maturity. Full maturity is only in jñānam.
virāga
(adj.) Passionless; objective; dispassionate; free from attachment (as a noun, it's masc. of vairāgyam).
virāṭ
The one who shines in varied forms, with their names. The entire gross, perceptible universe, experienced in the waking state – and looked upon as a manifestation of the knowledge that is Brahman – is known as Virāṭ. This means Virāṭ is nothing but īśvaraḥ made manifest, and hence it is also known as virādīśvaraḥ and as kāryambrahma. This virādīśvaraḥ (or kāryambrahma) the gross manifestation of brahman, cannot emerge directly from its cause, antaryāmīśvaraḥ, but only from hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, the subtle form of the cosmos.
Just as samaṣṭiḥ includes vyaṣṭiḥ, viśvaḥ is not separate from and is included in Virāṭ. In religious or purānic language Virāṭ is known as Viṣṇuḥ. Virāṭ and Vaiśvānaraḥ are synonyms. See antaryāmī, Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, Vaiśvānaraḥ.
virodhaḥ
Opposition
vīryam
Strength; capacity; power. The capacity to create, sustain and resolve the jagat. See bhagaḥ.
visargaḥ
Setting forth; letting go; voiding; dismissal; removal; discarding; action of offering during a fire ritual.
Grammatically, the two dots : that appear at the end of a Sanskrit word (in devanāgarī script) ending with a vowel are known as visargaḥ. It takes the sound of that immediately preceding vowel, for example, rāmaḥ (raamaha), hariḥ (harihi), guruḥ (guruhu).
viṣayaḥ
Any perceptible object, phenomenon or individual (gross or subtle); sense-object; content (subject matter). There are not innumerable sense-objects but, essentially, only five: śabdaḥ, sparśaḥ, rūpam, rasaḥ, gandhaḥ.
Objects of perception are the manifest properties of the elements: an object's capacity to manifest properties of the elements is all that is ever perceived of any object. (Pañcadaśī 2.7)
Viṣayaḥ also refers to a subject-matter's suitability for delivering a sought benefit – see anubandha-catuṣṭayam.
viṣaya-dhyānam
Thinking of an object. Objects are dwelt upon because they are liked. Liking leads to manorājyam, emotional dependence upon the world for one's happiness and security, in which desire is inevitable. When the expectation in a desire is frustrated, anger arises and with it the incapacity to discriminate true from false, appropriate from inappropriate. Anger is a state of delusion in which memory of what has been learnt to be appropriate or inappropriate is no longer available. Impulse displaces discrimination, leading to destruction (loss and decline). (See Gītā 2.62.) Prevention of all this is possible only by dwelling on pratyagātmā, the innermost self, which means guarding the mind by keeping one's true nature always in mind.
viṣaya-doṣaḥ
The limitations of objects (being inert, objects cannot bring happiness, and anyway happiness is one's svarūpam). See doṣaḥ, pratyavāya-doṣaḥ and vaiṣamya-nairghṛṇya-doṣaḥ.
viṣaya-vāsanā
Fascination for an object (viṣaya), thinking it can give me security and happiness, is a superimposition called śobhana-adhyāsaḥ.
viśeṣaḥ
Attribute; distinguishing quality; peculiarity; that which is particular to.
viśeṣa-dharmaḥ
Particular or individually applicable dharmaḥ; universal dharmaḥ as it is applicable in this particular or specific situation now; correct interpretation and application of universal or sāmānya-dharmaḥ in a particular context. See sāmānya-dharmaḥ and dharmaḥ.
viśeṣa-jñānam
Awareness of variety. Consciousness appears varied and variable (but only) because of association with varied thoughts. See śuddha-caitanyam.
viśeṣaṇam
Adjective; that which qualifies a word; that which distinguishes an object (a noun) by negating other objects.
It is often thought that satyam, jñānam, anantam are merely attributes of Brahman, but that is not true. They are not svarūpa-viśeṣaṇas, ordinary adjectives that reveal attributes, they are lakṣaṇa-viśeṣanas, meaning they do not qualify Brahman but distinguish the vastu from everything else (and, in doing so, each of the three negates the limits of the other two, and so together they negate any notions that Brahman has attributes, viśeṣas, and is limited). See viśeṣyam.
viśeṣaṇa-viśeṣya-bhāva-sambandhaḥ
Attribute-substantive relation. This shows the relation between two words qualifying each other so as to signify a common object. In the sentence, "This is that Devadatta" the meaning of the word ‘that’ is Devadatta existing elsewhere in the remote past, and the meaning of the word ‘this’ is Devadatta existing here in the present. They are contrary ideas, but still they qualify each other so as to signify a common object. Similarly, in the sentence tattvamasi (you are that) the meaning of the word ‘that’ is consciousness characterised by remoteness, etc., and the meaning of the word ‘you’ is consciousness characterised by immediacy, etc. They are contrary ideas, but still they qualify each other so as to signify that which is common, namely consciousness. See sāmānādhikaraṇyam and lakṣya-lakṣaṇa-bhāvaḥ.
viśeṣyam
Noun; a substantive (that having substance, having substantiality, and hence having the capacity to be the focus of attention, and, being 'substantial', is capable of being a locus of named, distinguishing attributes); that which is subject to being distinguished (vyāvartya) from other items or phenomena by an adjective, viśeṣaṇam.
viśiṣṭa
Qualified (by); distinguished (by); the attributed (that which has attributes).
viśiṣṭādvaitam
The dualistic view that, 'I am part of the whole'; a view in which individuality ever remains, and that the individual self and the absolute ever co-exist in some way.
viṣṇuḥ
īśvaraḥ, the Lord, as the all-pervasive reality sustaining the universe; see Brahmā, Śivaḥ, Virāṭ.
vistāraḥ
Manifestation; expansion; projection; elaboration; enumeration; becoming large or great. The universe is a manifestation, projection or expansion of consciousness.
viśvaḥ
A complete, manifest jīvaḥ. A term for a form of ahaṅkāraḥ in which ātmā, identified with being a jīvaḥ, with an individual gross body, sthūla-śarīram, in the waking state, jāgrad-avasthā (in which state alone free-will may be enjoyed) gathers experiences of the world through the five senses. For a jīvaḥ to be identified with the gross body there must be identification with and use of the subtle and causal bodies too, hence the use of the term 'a complete, manifest jīvaḥ'. Viśvaḥ does not know or apprehend reality and has misconceptions about it. The corresponding universal or samaṣṭiḥ term is Virāṭ, of which viśvaḥ is vyaṣṭiḥ, an individual specific part or aspect. See prājñaḥ, taijasaḥ.
viśvam
All; all-pervading; whole; entire; universal; omni-present; that which is constituted of innumerable forms, names and functions; synonym for the jagat (which is mithyā); also an epithet for Viṣṇuḥ (and hence for īśvaraḥ).
viśvarūpaḥ
The Lord, īśvaraḥ, in the form, rūpam, of the entire universe in all its glorious detail. This is the form of God that is worshipped by the devotee of intermediate understanding. See iṣṭa-devatā and brahman.
viśvāsaḥ
Trust; faith; belief; reliance.
vitaṇḍa-vādaḥ
Discussion with the sole purpose of defeating the opponent; no intention to learn from or even tolerate the other's view; no regard for truth; also see samvādaḥ, vādaḥ, jalpa-vādaḥ.
vītarāgaḥ
Free from attachment; free from the hold of likes and dislikes; not dependent on the world for one's happiness.
vittam
An acquisition; a gain; property; wealth; power.
vivakṣā
Intended meaning; that which the speaker/writer wishes to express or hopes to communicate; see grahaṇam.
vivaraṇam
An explanation or scriptural elucidation within Vedāntaḥ (traced back to Padmapādācārya, a direct disciple of Ādi-Śaṅkaraḥ) that, since the ātmā is ever-experienced as one's sense of self, śravanam, hearing, is sufficient for its full ascertainment as it provides aparokṣa-jñānam, immediate knowledge, in a suitably prepared hearer. Both mananam and nididhyāsanam of course have their place, but the emphasis is on knowledge through śravanam. This is confirmed numerous times by Ādi-Śaṅkaraḥ in his many commentaries. See bhāmatī.
vivartaḥ
Apparent change of one object or material into another while retaining its original nature. See pariṇāmaḥ.
vivarta-upādāna-kāraṇam
A material cause (upādāna-kāraṇam) in which there is the assuming of another form (vivarta) without giving up one's own intrinsic nature. For example, mother-of-pearl appearing to be silver, or a rope appearing to be a snake. Here, cause and effect belong to different orders of reality and so knowledge alone suffices to bring freedom. Similarly, Brahman is the vivarta-upādāna-kāraṇam of the jagat. See upādāna-kāraṇam, pariṇāma-upādāna-kāraṇam.
vivekaḥ
Discriminative knowledge. It is a discriminative understanding that the timeless, infinite vastu is satyam, the truth, and all else is mithyā, apparent, time-bound, finite. This capacity to clearly and accurately distinguish true from false (real from apparent) is the first and foremost of the qualifications required for self-knowledge.
Discrimination works in two ways: it corrects the error of two things enjoying an equally real status being mistaken one for the other (he is mistaken for him). It also corrects the error that may occur from something of a different order of reality being superimposed on another. In the second case, an illusory snake, for example, does not have an existence of its own and is of a different order of reality to the rope on which it's superimposed.
There are two types of vivekaḥ needed in life: discrimination between the real and the unreal, and discrimination between what is to be done and what is not to be done. These two constitute jñānam. See sādhana-catuṣṭayam and vicāraḥ.
Pure consciousness is not opposed to ignorance. It is undisturbed and unaffected by ignorance. Only discriminative knowledge, knowledge in the form of vivekaḥ, is opposed to ignorance. That knowledge is found in the buddhiḥ of the knower of truth – see Pañcadaśī 6.32. Also see avivekaḥ.
vividiṣā-sannyāsaḥ
See sannyāsaḥ.
vivikta
Secluded; solitary; isolated; separated.
vivikta-deśaḥ
A quiet, undisturbed place that is by nature free from causes for fear; one who tends to go there is called a vivikta-deśa-sevitvī and his state of mind is vivikta-deśa-sevitvam, a state in which solitude is not just valued but, due to emotional independence, is also found comfortable and free from feelings of loneliness and lack.
vratam
A vow; a firm commitment – dṛḍha-vratam, (dṛḍha) firm, (vratam) commitment – only by a firm commitment is truth attained; a solemn vow carried out under strict rules on food, sleep, etc., usually to attain greater self-control or to expiate sins. Since the firm commitment can (and often is) made in a religious context, a vratam may connote worship too.
vṛddhiḥ
Growth; increase; success.
vṛttiḥ
Thought; state; mode of being; disposition; behaviour; commentary (vartikam).
An object is known when there's a cognition of it in the intellect (buddhiḥ). When the senses bring data into the mind, the mind (manas) undergoes changes, called vṛttis or pratyayas, that are momentary (changing very rapidly like a succession of frames in a movie camera) and relevant to that object. The vṛttiḥ pervades the data presented to the mind by the senses and becomes the very form of it (a process called vṛtti-vyāptiḥ) like water taking the form of a wave or clay of a pot. Only that vṛttiḥ is seen in the mind, so if the external object is a rope and the vṛttiḥ is a snake, it is a snake that is seen, not a rope.
In this way, sensory data is interpreted by the mind (manas) as a vṛttiḥ that is presented to the buddhiḥ for cognition and decision. That interpretation will be influenced by memory and hence by habit, prejudice, preconception, like, dislike, etc.
Consciousness pervades each vṛttiḥ, as water pervades each wave, making the otherwise inert vṛttiḥ conscious. This means, every (transitory) vrttiḥ is a manifesting medium for (non-arriving, non-departing) consciousness. Every vṛttiḥ is a transitory state of consciousness, just as every ocean wave is a fleeting state of water, or every image varying modes of light.
The mind is nothing but transitory vṛttis that need to be individually and successively 'lit' by consciousness for perception to happen.
Patañjali categorises vṛttis into five kinds: pramāṇam, a means of (correct) knowledge; viparyayaḥ, incorrect knowledge; vikalpaḥ, doubt or imagination; nidrā, sleep; and smṛtiḥ, memory.
vṛtti-jñānam
Knowledge, jñānam, manifest in the mind as a vṛttiḥ, as a thought or perception or understanding. This term encompasses any and all knowledge, from mundane sensory knowledge (knowledge of objects) to the liberating knowledge that is mokṣaḥ.
vṛtti-viśeṣaḥ
A particular, limited state of mind; a mental modification.
vṛtti-vyāptiḥ
This is a term referring to the perceptual process.
When an object (along with its setting or environment) is perceived by the senses a corresponding thought-form of the whole perception is generated in the mind. That thought-form is called a vṛttiḥ. That vṛttiḥ pervades (vyāptiḥ) the mind, meaning the vṛttiḥ takes the form of (reproduces or re-presents) the object in the mind, pervading the mind with it. Each vṛttiḥ is subsequently updated only by what changes in the sensory perception.
The vṛttiḥ having taken the form of the object, ignorance of the object resolves; the object becomes known. The vṛttiḥ is perceived in the mind due to its being simultaneously illumined by consciousness. It is that illumination of the vṛttiḥ by consciousness that makes the vṛttiḥ perceived or known. That phalam, that fruit or conclusion of the vyāptiḥ (the re-presentation of the object as a vṛttiḥ in the mind, a vṛttiḥ which pervades the mind, and is known) is called phala-vyāptiḥ.
That vṛttiḥ is only ever a thought-form in the mind. It is not the external object. If, for example, the external object is a rope and the vṛttiḥ is a snake, it is a snake that is perceived by the person, risking misunderstanding.
vyabhicāraḥ
Inconsistence; ever changeable; deviation; subject to arrival and departure; a contradiction; fallacious or erroneous reasoning.
vyādhiḥ
Disorder, disease, ailment, sickness, plague; a tormenting or vexatious person.
vyāhṛtiḥ
Sacred utterance; a term for any of the sacred utterances (always preceded by Oṃ) namely bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ, svaḥ, mahaḥ, janaḥ, tapaḥ, satyam. See gāyatrī-mantraḥ.
vyākaraṇam
Sanskrit grammar; one of the six auxiliary sciences, Vedāṅgas, of the Vedas – also see śikṣā, chandas, niruktam, jyotiṣaḥ, kalpaḥ.
vyākhyānam
Exposition or commentary on a text that is not a śrutiḥ text.
vyakta
Manifest; (vyaktiḥ, manifestation; appearance; perceptibility; being available for experience.)
vyānaḥ
Name attributed to the vital air governing the circulatory system in the body – an aspect of prāṇaḥ; also see apānaḥ, elimination; samānaḥ, digestion; udānaḥ, upward breath.
vyaṅgyārthaḥ
The suggested meaning, the meaning hinted at or indicated by allusion or insinuation, as in: "You seem to be saying..." "He alluded to there being..." "She insinuated that there might have been...". See vācyārthaḥ, lakṣyārthaḥ, mukhyārthaḥ.
vyañjanam
A consonant; a letter of the alphabet other than a vowel. A consonant is soundless without a vowel (hence the English word 'consonant', sounding with) and so a vowel needs to be added for pronunciation. For example, the consonant 'd' cannot be sounded on its own without the vowel sound 'ee' being added, viz. 'dee'. In Sanskrit, the soundless (vowel-less) vyañjanam is known as hal. See svaraḥ, hal.
Even though the IAST transliteration scheme (followed in this glossary) uses a 'v' in many Sanskrit words, that 'v' is always to be pronounced 'w' as there is no dental fricative in Sanskrit. For example, Vedaḥ is pronounced 'way-daha' – an 'e' in IAST always means the vowel sound in came, play, etc. – and although the word swami is often written with a 'w', the correct IAST transliteration is svāmī, pronounced phonetically as 'swaa-mee', not 'swaa-mi'.
vyāptiḥ
Pervasiveness; inherent, inseparable presence.
vyāpti-jñānam
Knowledge arising from invariable concomitance – since fire and smoke are always present together I can validly infer that the sight or smell of smoke means there is, or has recently been, a fire.
vyāsaḥ
Compiler; the great saint known as Veda-Vyāsaḥ (also known as Bādarāyaṇaḥ) who compiled the Vedas and authored the Mahābhāratam, Brahma-Sūtras, a commentary on the Yoga-Sūtras and also 18 mahā-purāṇas and 18 upa-purāṇas. Vyāsaḥ is considered to be an avatāraḥ of Viṣṇuḥ.
vyaṣṭiḥ
Individual; microcosmic being. N.B. there is no vyaṣṭiḥ without samaṣṭiḥ, no gold ornament without gold, no pot-space without space, no act of kindness without kindness itself – all of which means every vyaṣṭiḥ is a specific, individual aspect or expression of the corresponding samaṣṭiḥ. Touch an ocean wave, the entire ocean is touched; touch the ocean, every individual wave is touched.
vyatirekaḥ
Contrast – implies vyāvṛttiḥ, discontinuance; removal; cessation; exclusion; see anvayaḥ and anvaya-vyatireka-nyāyaḥ.
vyatiriktaḥ
Distinct; separate.
vyavahāraḥ
Transaction; vyāvahārika, transactional.
vyāvahārika-satyam
Empirical, phenomenal, experiential, transactional reality, namely the (mithyā) universe (the īśvara-sṛṣṭiḥ) and all that is in it, including its laws, its means and ends, and one's body, mind and senses.
From the standpoint of the jñānī (which is the standpoint of ātmā) there is no vyavahāra, everything is prātibhāsika, everything is māyā – meaning the world is within him, just as a dream is within the dreamer. See pāramārthika-satyam, prātibhāsika-satyam and jīva-sṛṣṭiḥ.
vyāvarttakam
That which distinguishes something from everything else.
vyavasāyaḥ
Resolution; decision; settled determination; being definite.
vyomā (vyoman)
The space in the heart, hṛdayam, in which the mind is figuratively said to abide.
vyutpatti
Derivation or origin of a word (especially in grammar); its etymology.
yajamānaḥ
Worshipper; performer of a ritual; the one to whom goes the benefit of the ritual.
yajñaḥ
Vedic form of worship; fire ritual; prayerful worship in general. Synonyms of yajñaḥ are yāgaḥ, kratuḥ, homaḥ, all of which are fire rituals in which oblations are offered.
Worship and prayer earn the Lord's grace, which neutralises accumulated pāpa-karma, thereby removing the obstacles to the manifestation of the knowledge one has previously gained through śravanam, etc. Then that true knowledge, being now unobstructed, shines.
There are 18 time-bound factors (four priests for each of the four Vedas, the yajamānaḥ and his patnī, wife) involved in performing any ritual in which mantras from all the Vedas are used. No timebound action (such as a ritual), no matter how meritorious, can produce a timeless result and so cannot produce the limitlessness that is mokṣaḥ. Nāsti akṛtaḥ kṛtena, the uncreated cannot be created (the limitless cannot be gained by the limited, that is, by action).
A yajñaḥ is a devotional act, a prayerful discipline, which may include the formal dissemination of knowledge, jñānam, via that which is known as a jñāna-yajñaḥ.
The karma-yogī knows that every action binds unless it is done as a yajñaḥ, as a prayerful offering to īśvaraḥ. See anugrahaḥ, pūjā, pañcamahā-yajñas.
yakṣaḥ
A mysterious, divine appearance (ref. Kena Upaniṣad, Ch. 3 & 4).
yamaḥ
Set of five prohibitions in aṣṭāṅga-yogaḥ, namely:
ahiṃsā
satyam
asteyam
brahmacaryam
aparigrahaḥ
yaśaḥ (yaśas)
Fame; renown; glory. See bhagaḥ.
yatiḥ
One of proper, adequate and appropriate effort; a karma-yogī or a sannyāsī.
yatnaḥ
Effort
yātrā
Journey; pilgrimage.
yogaḥ
Joining; absolute knowledge (wisdom); discipline.
A karma or action performed with the proper attitude, in conformity with universal values, that serves as a preparatory discipline for the knowledge that is mokṣaḥ, is known as karma-yogaḥ.
Pursuit of knowledge involving three steps – śravaṇam, mananam, nididhyāsanam – is a discipline called jñāna-yogaḥ, which must be followed for the attainment of knowledge.
Discipline followed for gaining the mental preparation needed for knowledge is karma-yogaḥ, whereas discipline followed for the attainment of knowledge is jñāna-yogaḥ.
A discipline known as haṭha yogaḥ, involving force, haṭha (physical action) is now practised worldwide in a simplified form and known as "yoga".
Yogaḥ also has a worldly meaning: the gaining of the not yet gained (see kṣemaḥ).
yogaḥ karmasu kauśalam
Discretion in action is yogaḥ. "Kauśalam is your capacity to interpret correctly. This capacity to interpret with reference to norms for human interaction is discretion, the proper exercise of which is an expertise. The norm for human interaction is called dharmaḥ and the opposite is called adharmaḥ. Dharmaḥ and adharmaḥ form the standard norms. They are not absolutes in that they have to be interpreted according to the given situation. The person who can interpret them properly is called kuśala, skilful, competent, expert. Dharmaḥ and adharmaḥ are not to be interpreted according to convenience, but must be in line with what is proper. Proper interpretation of dharmaḥ is what is meant by kauśalam. Kauśalam is yogaḥ because you are not in the hands of your rāga-dvesas when you exercise discretion in your choice of action."* See Gītā 2.50 and also karma-yogaḥ.
yogārūḍha
One who is adequately disciplined and mentally prepared for the pursuit of knowledge having gone through the discipline of karma-yogaḥ. An ethical and religious person committed to and prepared for the spiritual pursuit.
yoniḥ
Womb; cause; (any) place of origin.
yugam
Astronomical time period; see caturyugam, manvantaram, kalpaḥ.
yukta
Integrated with; endowed with; engaged in; united with; yuktaḥ, person of integrated personality, person of integrity. Yuktatama, most endowed with, most intent upon, most fit, most exalted.
yuktiḥ
Reasoning; use of logic. Ātmā is differentiated from anātmā by śruti-pramāṇam (specifically Vedānta-vicāraḥ) supported by yukti-pramāṇam, use of reason or logic.
Mere logic lacks finality because it is drawn from and depends on experience. As such, logic is helpful in elucidating truth, but the dualistic and relative nature of experience means logic can never, by itself, provide absolute proof. However, logic that has scripture as its basis is decisive and deserves to be resorted to. See tarkaḥ and nyāyaḥ.
*His Holiness Parama Pujya Sri Swami Dayananda Saraswati (1930-2015)

न निरोधो न चोत्पत्तिर्न बद्धो न च साधकः ।
न मुमुक्षुर्न वै मुक्त इत्येषा परमार्थता ॥२.३२॥

na nirodho na cotpattirna baddho na ca sādhakaḥ |
na mumukṣurna vai mukta ityeṣā paramārthatā ||2.32||

There is neither dissolution nor birth (of the Universe), none bound, none aspiring for wisdom, none seeking liberation and indeed none liberated! This is absolute, irrefutable fact.

Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad, Gaudapāda Kārikā, 2.32

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