Vedanta Glossary

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Not subject to negation (a definition of satyam); unimpeded; unobstructed; unrefuted; see bādhaḥ.
Appearance; semblance; reflection (In English, the word reflection has a literal or figurative sense, depending on context. In Vedāntaḥ it is often used figuratively – see bimbaḥ).
'Non-existence'; non-manifestation; complete absence; see bhāvaḥ. Since existence is not an attribute, there is no such thing as non-existence, only non-manifestation – existence never ceases to exist, whereas the names and forms of existence are transient (Gītā 2.16).
Non-existence cannot be claimed except of an existent entity and so non-existence is impossible. Neither can non-existence have attributes (such as beginnings and endings). Similarly, to say "there is nothing there" requires the presence of a knower to reveal that 'nothing'.
The naiyāyikaḥ philosophers (logicians) claim there are four types of non-existence: anyonya-abhāvaḥ, atyanta-abhāvaḥ, pradhvaṃsa-abhāvaḥ and prāg-abhāvaḥ.
Fearlessness; peace; security.
Non-difference; non-division; non-breaking; see bhedaḥ.
A word; an expression; see abhidheyam.
Object/meaning denoted by its corresponding word/expression, abhidhānam; the meaning conveyed by a word; the person meant by a given name.
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, adhyāsaḥ, āropaḥ and adhyāropaḥ – all unique to human beings – 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 saṃsāraḥ.
Tenacious clinging to (investment in) the ephemeral body and worldly life, believing them to be enduring. See kleśaḥ.
Non-separate; non-different.
Internal (opp. of bāhya, external).
Repeated practice – primarily, in Vedāntaḥ, repeatedly recognising a fact and so continually avoiding or refraining from error; exercise.
Unmoving; unagitated.
Conduct; behaviour.
A teacher. One 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-ācaryaḥ 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 atma-vicaraḥ, self-enquiry, for liberation. Only self-enquiry, in which ātmā is cognitively distinguished from anātmā, leads to liberation. Those ācāryas who say atma-vicaraḥ is not required and that bhaktiḥ, or God, or nāma-saṅkirtanam will give liberation, have strayed from tradition.
The teacher always gives credit to the paramparā, the preceding lineage of teachers, giving importance only to the teaching. If importance is given only to the teaching it becomes a tradition. 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.
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.
Inanimate; non-living.
Devoid of mind.
Beyond any mental construct; beyond thought; inconceivable.
Ever present; never slips away.
Absence of pretence; free from hypocrisy, posturing and self-glorification.
Support; base; foundation.
Not in line with the inherent, natural order of dharmaḥ; unwise; action leading to an unfavourable outcome.
Pain (tāpaḥ) caused by an obstacle arising from local circumstances, e.g. heavy traffic, store closure, machine failure, and from problems associated with close acquaintances, family and friends; also see ādhyātmika-tāpaḥ, ādhidaivika-tāpaḥ.
Centred on; concerning; related to.
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.
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.
Pain (tāpaḥ) caused by an obstacle arising from natural events such as weather, earthquakes, floods, bushfires, etc. (produced through the devāḥ, see adhidaivam, above); also see ādhyātmika-tāpaḥ, ādhibhautika-tāpaḥ.
Substratum; location.
Qualified aspirant (especially for self-knowledge); see sādhana-catuṣṭayam.
Abundance; excess.
Basis; absolute existence; the source of the existence of everything; (synonym of Brahman).
Centred on ritual; the one on whom the ritual is centred, i.e. antaryāmīśvaraḥ (Īśvaraḥ, the unmanifest cause of all, the subject of ritual).
Insertion of extra words into a sentence to make clear its intended meaning.
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.
Superimposition. Due to erroneous perception, 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 a mistaken notion of the self, ahaṅkāraḥ.
A statement of (deliberate) superimposition. A teaching device used by the śāstram to show that all that is here is Brahman. For example, by referring to the Lord as the cause of all that is here, the śāstram superimposes the status of 'cause' on Brahman in order to show that all that is here arises from Brahman. See apavāda-vākyam.
Erroneous perception: taking something to be what it is not; confusing this with that. Without upādhiḥ, adhyāsaḥ is not possible. Upādhiḥ is instrumental and ignorance is the cause for adhyāsaḥ. Adhyāsaḥ leads successively to āropaḥ, adhyāropaḥ, ahaṅkāraḥ, kāmaḥ, karma and then saṃsāraḥ. See nirupādhikādhyāsaḥ and sopādhikādhyāsaḥ.
Wrongly ascribed; mistakenly attributed.
Of discriminating mind; knowledge of the right thing to do; one who is completely committed to self-knowledge.
Knowledge centred on the self; knowledge whose object is the self; knowledge of the absolute self as one's own self.
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.
Centred on, concerning, belonging to the self, the individual – namely whatever is taken to be the self, be it the body (dehaḥ), jīvaḥ, or ātmā. See adhibhūtam.
Centred on the self; anything pertaining to the self, the individual.
Pain (tāpaḥ) caused by an obstacle pertaining to oneself, e.g. worry, agitation, illness, physical impairment, etc.; also see ādhidaivika-tāpaḥ, ādhibhautika-tāpaḥ.
A chapter; a lesson; a reading.
Focussed, reverential attention on a mantraḥ throughout its recitation.
Beginning (with); etcetera; indicates others of the same group, e.g. śamādi, the group beginning with śamaḥ (śamaḥ, damaḥ, uparamaḥ, titikṣā, śraddhā, samādhānam).
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.
An unseen result (of an action), a result that manifests later. An unseen result accrues only when an action is done rightly or wrongly – 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: the unmade bed will remain unmade, the uncut lawn will grow longer, the unwashed dishes will pile up, etc. An adṛṣṭa-phalam is the as-yet-unseen result produced by actual mental or physical action, not a result that might arise from inaction. See dṛṣṭa-phalam and naimittika-karma.
Non-dual (advaitam, non-duality).
Not two.
Without a second; second to none; matchless.
New karma, formed due to action here in this present life and stored in sañcita to await fructification and manifestation as prārabdha either in this life or a future one; also see prārabdha-karma, sañcita-karma.
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.
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).
Inaccessible (indriya agocara, imperceptible, not accessible through the senses; vācām agocara, inexplicable).
Having no lineage.
'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.
ahaṃ brahmāsmi
'I am Brahman' (Bṛhadāraṇyaka 1.4.10). The term 'I' refers to that which is the very source and essence of the 'I am' thought – namely, pure consciousness – not to what is commonly regarded as 'I' or 'me', the individual mind. See mahāvākyam and also see tattvamasi, ayamātmā brahma, prajñānaṃ brahma.
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.
Ahaṅkāraḥ, the mistaken notion of 'I', arises because of identification, tādātmyam, of the self with these non-intrinsic attributes. It is the nature of ahaṅkāraḥ to continually adopt such limitations and identify with them. The suffix 'kāra' expresses the qualifying or limiting of 'aham', the application 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.
(Note: ahaṅkāraḥ is also known as ahaṅkṛtiḥ and the meaning is the same).
Abstaining from hurting, harming or killing anyone or anything in thought, word or deed; harmlessness; the primary virtue, following which all others become followed; the most exalted of the universal values.
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.
Oneness; the fact of being ever one and the same; non-difference.
Lordship; overlordship; see bhagaḥ.
A type of definition or implication in which one or more words are added to an unclear or incomplete statement to bring out the intended meaning. For example, in "Red won" we retain the literal or direct meaning of the words 'red' and 'won' and add another word, 'horse', to show the intended meaning of the sentence, namely, 'the red horse won'. Since this type of implication (also known as ajahatī-lakṣaṇā) is used merely to clarify a direct, literal meaning and does nothing to show us anything more, it is unsuitable for elucidating tattvamasi. See jahallakṣaṇā, jahadajahallakṣaṇā and also lakṣaṇā.
Ignorance; synonym of māyā.
Ghee – butter, melted in sunlight.
Unaffected by desire; free from the hold of desire; calm.
Form; appearance.
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.
Undivided; partless; indivisible; whole; nature.
Knowledge (jñānam) in the form of (ākāra) a unique thought (vṛttiḥ) pertaining to the nature of reality being indivisible (akhaṇḍa).
"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 [since the very thought 'consciousness' is itself divisionless]. 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 a mind that is pure, one that is no longer under the hold of rāga-dveṣas, etc. Thereafter, that vision remains.
Whole; entire; complete.
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.
Indestructible; imperishable; immutable; any letter, vowel or consonant.
Unbroken; (unbroken, uncooked rice, coloured yellow by mixing it with Turmeric, is used in ritual and worship to carry prayers to the deity).
Enough; sufficient.
Symbol; support.
Unlike anything one knows.
Proper thinking; enquiry; analysis; considering; reflecting; perceiving.
Small; little.
Humility; absence of conceit; not demanding respect, even when respect could be due.
New Moon day; day for performing certain monthly rituals; first day of the first quarter of the Moon, in which the Moon is invisible.
Sacred texts handed down by tradition; received doctrine; advice.
Immortal (amṛta); nectar of immortality; ambrosia.
Portion; aspect; part.
Absence of intense attachment to possessions, etc. – such attachment being due to emotional dependence on the world for happiness.
Not understood; that which cannot be arrived at or understood by perception or inference, or by any means except Vedānta-śāstra-pramāṇam.
Absence of pride and arrogance; understanding that 'what I have accomplished is really nothing'.
Not small; infinite in all respects (alpa, small).
Happiness; never created, only ever discovered; limitlessness (synonym of ananta). Ānandaḥ is the svarūpam of the self, ātmā. Every experience of happiness is an experience of an appropriate fraction of that innate ānandaḥ which effortlessly and spontaneously manifests when puṇyam is present and the ego resolves briefly.
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 pain and pleasure, which is transitory. Bliss is a form of happiness, but happiness is not bliss, it is much more than that.
Since limitlessness implies complete absence of any form of lack, ānandaḥ also means fullness, pūrṇam, hence the famous śānti-pāṭhaḥ that begins pūrṇamadaḥ pūrṇamidam. "Unqualified love is limitless, ananta, or pūrṇa, full, and is Brahman. Love is only for ānandaḥ."*
This, the subtlest of the pañca-kośāḥ, pervades all 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 reflects in the mind and hence pervades the ānandamaya vṛttiḥ.
The varying degrees of reflected ānandaḥ pervading the ānandamaya are known as priya, modaḥ, pramodaḥ. 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.
Endless (anta, end); that which is ever undivided.
Not other; non-different; non-separate; identical; ananyamanasa – focussed, distraction-free, dispassionate mind.
All that is 'other' than the self (lit. 'not 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: see bhayam.
It is important to understand that, just as the entire contents of the dream have their origin, being and nature in the dreamer – and so cannot be other than the dreamer – all that seems to be anātmā is ultimately found by the wisely discriminating ones to be not other than ātmā.
Infinite regression; absence of conclusion; without resting place.
Blind lineage; continuance of confusion through recourse to a flawed, ill-chosen teaching lineage; the blind being led by the blind, andha-andhena-nīyamānāḥ.
Blindness; darkness.
Many (not one).
Limb; constituent; component; part.
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 deeper investigation to be ultimately indefinable as it too is a product of māyā. As a famous verse (109) in Vivekacūḍāmaṇi 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.
Helplessness; powerlessness.
Timebound; limited; impermanent.
The physical body, a modiifed form of food, annam, that 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.
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. It is also the only place where ignorance is found and removed. There is no self-knowledge 'beyond' the mind.
The totality of all antaḥ-karaṇams is Hiraṇyagarbaḥ. See sūkṣma-śarīram.
Steadiness of mind; essential prerequisite for śravaṇam as only a focussed, steady mind hears fully; attained through meditation (dhyānam and upāsanām).
Purification of the mind, meaning mastery over one's ways of thinking, including emotions and rāga-dveṣas (likes and dislikes). 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 what is being taught. Otherwise, what 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.
In the middle; between; within; (antaram, interior; contents).
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.
Space between Heaven and Earth; sky.
Inner controller; Īśvaraḥ and his māyā as the unmanifest cause of all, as the totality (samaṣṭiḥ) of all causal bodies may, due to his causal role, be referred to as the antaryāmī, the inner controller of all. The individual (vyaṣṭiḥ) counterpart, is prājñaḥ – see Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, Vaiśvānaraḥ, Virāṭ.
Set of four requisites that, combined, make a text worth studying:
adhikārī, a person of appropriate understanding for the text.
viṣayaḥ, the subject matter's suitability for delivering the prayojanam.
prayojanam, the particular benefit to be gained by the adhikārī from studying the text.
sambandhaḥ, the connection of the text to the viṣayaḥ and the viṣayaḥ to the prayojanam.
Binding or fastening on; connection to.
Shines after (a dependent source of light that shines only by reflecting another light, e.g. the mind, the Moon).
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.
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.
The low tone in chanting, shown in the text by a short horizontal line below the vowel; also see svaraḥ, udāttaḥ, svaritaḥ.
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 knowledge, 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.
Inference from direct sensory perception, e.g. knowledge of fire is inferred from smoke; one of the six pramāṇas – see the others: anupalabdhiḥ, arthāpattiḥ, pratyakṣam, śabdaḥ, upamānam.
Knowledge of non-presence (non-existence) of an object is known from its absence (non-availability) e.g. seeing no food on the table is knowledge of its absence; one of the six pramāṇas – see the others: anumānam, arthāpattiḥ, pratyakṣam, śabdaḥ, upamānam.
Synonym of dhyānam, meditation; contemplation; anu-san-dhānam – constantly, continuously, consistently placing the attention of the mind on something for a length of time.
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.
Metre with eight syllables per quarter – common in the Bhagavad-Gītā, Rāmāyaṇam. See gāyatrī, triṣṭup.
Translation; restatement within a text of what has already been mentioned.
Section or chapter of a Vedaḥ.
Following; succession – implies anuvṛttiḥ, continuance; see vyatirekaḥ.
Proof by assertion and negation; a logical procedure for determining truth from what is always co-present or co-absent; anvayaḥ focusses on presence, vyatirekaḥ on absence. For example: a pot and clay are co-present. When the pot breaks, clay remains present (anvayaḥ) and so is real, satyam, but the pot does not remain co-present (vyatirekaḥ) and so is merely apparent, mithyā. The pot is present only when clay is present in a particular form. See nyāyaḥ.
Endowed with; possessing; having as an inherent part.
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.
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 to fire alone.
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 perception is called anyonyādhyāsaḥ, the most obvious example of which is between the complex of body-mind-senses, kārya-kāraṇa-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.
Mutual dependence.
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.
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.
Lower nature of the self; the immediate cause of all that is perceivable, manifest and conceivable; see parā-prakṛtiḥ.
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.
Unlimited (limitless); not bound by; not subject to.
Having no claim upon anything; renunciation; minimum of possessions.
Immediate knowledge, knowledge of the immediate self, knowledge of the knower.
Usually, our knowledge is from (mediated through) either direct sensory perception, pratyakṣa-jñānam, or is reported or indirect knowledge, parokṣa-jñānam, both of which require an intermediary and are knowledge of objects. Aparokṣa-jñānam requires no intermediary, is not knowledge of objects, but is direct, unmediated knowledge of the immanent self.
When the words of the śāstram, unfolded by a competent and properly informed teacher (a śrotriya and sampradāyavit) are heard cleanly and clearly by a properly prepared student (whose pratibandhas, obstacles to understanding, are gone) they more than just make logical sense, they give immediate knowledge, direct understanding, because it is knowledge of an ever-present (but previously not fully grasped) fact about one's essential nature.
This corrected understanding, conveyed via śabda-pramāṇam, when properly recognised to be true is aparokṣa-jñānam. With such hearing there is no need for further confirmation by special practices or experiences! This is because the teacher’s words, while dismissing erroneous ideas about oneself, immediately reveal one's true nature 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 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.
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.
Of non-human (divine) origin; hallmark of the Vedas.
Negation; cognitive resolution of, for example, the form, name and function, pot, in clay, as mithyā.
A statement, vākyam, negating 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). See adhyāropa-vākyam.
Relative freedom, the freedom enjoyed by Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ.
Suspension of thought (typically in moments of joy or awe).
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).
Attainment (āpyam); one of the four possible results of karma, action.
Mokṣaḥ, being one's true, essential nature is already attained – even if unrecognised at present – and so cannot (and need not) be attained or produced 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; saṃskṛtiḥ (saṃskāryam), refinement.
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, saṃsāraḥ is the inevitable consequence.
Not (seen) before; not having existed before; unmatched; novel; recent; unique.
Waving of light performed as part of a pūjā; one of the units of the act of worship (karmāṅga).
aratiḥ janasaṃsadi
No longer craving social interaction; ever comfortable in one's own company.
Worship in the form of praising the Lord.
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).
The famous Mahābhāratam warrior whose doubts Lord Kṛṣṇaḥ resolved on the eve of battle, thereby creating the Bhagavad-Gītā.
Attribution of the characteristics of one thing to another. The result of adhyāsaḥ (erroneous perception) 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.
Entrusting; offering.
Relating to or from the ṛṣis.
Pursuit; aim; meaning; wealth; pursuit of security.
Knowledge from presumption about what is not perceived, derived from what is perceived, e.g. the man seen each day claims to be fasting but is getting fatter, so it is presumed he must be eating at night; one of the six pramāṇas – see the others: anumānam, anupalabdhiḥ, pratyakṣam, śabdaḥ, upamānam.
Praise; affirmation; explanation of meaning.
Absence of a sense of ownership; recognising that although I possess a few things, I actually own nothing; also see saktiḥ.
Not independently existent; not self-existent (not non-existent); phenomenal; synonym for mithyā. See sat, satyam, tuccham.
Resting-place; abode; seat of thoughts and feelings; heart; mind.
Egoism; the knowledge 'I am'; excessive self-concern, with or without exaggerated feelings of self-importance; see kleśaḥ.
Denigrating or under-valuing someone or something by superimposing a false notion of it having less value, beauty or excellence than it merits, e.g. 'the world gives me pain'; see śobhana-adhyāsaḥ and adhyāsaḥ.
Dwelling place of spiritual seekers. Also see gurukulam.
The four stages of Vedic (vaidika) religious life:
brahmacaryam, studentship
gṛhasthaḥ, householder
vānaprasthaḥ, withdrawal
sannyāsaḥ, renunciation
Duties pertaining to the four orders or stages of life.
Base; refuge; shelter; locus; that upon which something depends or rests.
(He, she, it) is, exists.
A person who accepts the Vedaḥ as a pramāṇam – a nāstikaḥ does not.
Demon; materialistic person who deludedly goes against dharmaḥ, while lost in an unchecked pursuit of sensory pleasure; one who thinks only of arthaḥ and kāmaḥ; predominant guṇaḥ is tamas; see rākṣasaḥ.
Definition of an object being atad, not the truth, arrived at through the distinction, vyāvṛttiḥ, of the subject (ātmā) from it. See lakṣaṇā.
Beyond the reach of the senses; imperceptible; mind.
Beyond; distinct; transcendent; free from.
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 (saccidānandaḥ).
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 to be what one is not: limited, wanting and in various ways inadequate. This is why, in correcting through knowledge, jñānam, the false notions one has about oneself, mokṣaḥ is the gain of the already gained. See anātmā
The process of enquiry, conducted by systematic study of the Upaniṣads with the help of a guruḥ, having the aim of distinguishing ātmā from anātmā (the self from the not-self). This term summarises the whole of Vedāntaḥ.
Becoming conscious of (awakening to) knowledge of the self; the blossoming of self-knowledge.
Knowledge of the truth of oneself; see jñāna-yogaḥ.
Self; vocative and also uninflected (prātipadikam) form of the word ātmā, self.
ātmanyeva santuṣṭiḥ
A wise person, one who is contented in the self alone, in ātmā.
Wise person; one who revels in the self, in ātmā.
Resolving wrong notions of oneself in the ātmā, the self.
One who is satisfied in his/her own self; a wise person.
Enquiry into the nature of the self. Such enquiry alone leads to liberation. It can be conducted only by one who is sufficiently qualified, i.e. 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.
Self-knowledge; knowledge of one's true nature.
Mastery over the body-mind-sense complex by, for example, overcoming slothfulness.
Absolute non-existence; impossibility of existence, e.g. a square circle, the son of a barren woman. See abhāvaḥ.
Limitation; condition; boundary; separation.
Conditioning model. A model or teaching device presenting worldly phenomena as a 'conditioned' (rather than 'reflected') form of consciousness, e.g. pot-space is space 'conditioned' by the pot (not a reflection of the pot). As an alternative, see pratibimba-vādaḥ – both models have their merits and flaws.
Limited; separated (from); distinguished (from).
Ascertainment; conviction; commitment.
Covering; obscuring.
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, that '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 perception, adhyāsaḥ, marks the arising of the vikṣepa-śaktiḥ of māyā that successively leads to āropaḥ, adhyāropaḥ, ahaṅkāraḥ, kāmaḥ, karma and saṃsāraḥ.
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.
Note that 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 sleeping waker.
State; condition.
Departure point; residence; situation.
The three states of experience, all of which are mutually exclusive states of mind:
jāgrad-avasthā, waking state.
svapna-avasthā, dream state.
suṣupti-avasthā, deep-sleep state.
Also see turīya, 'fourth' (not a state).
Method of analysis (used, for example, in the Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad) demonstrating that ātmā is not limited to any of the three states: waking, dream and sleep; see prakriyā.
Descent; the divine, descended and manifest in bhū-lokaḥ.
Complete absorption (of the mind in consciousness).
Unbroken; uninterrupted; continual; eternal.
Beginningless ignorance; the vyaṣṭiḥ aspect of māyā manifest only in the waking state of the jīvaḥ (jāgrad-avasthā) and dream state (svapna-avasthā) while ever unmanifest and undifferentiated in the deep-sleep state (suṣupti-avasthā).
Ātmā with the avidyā-upādhiḥ (the manifesting medium or conditioning adjunct of ignorance) is the individual, the jīvaḥ. Ātmā with the māyā-upādhiḥ, the conditioning adjunct of māyā, is Īśvaraḥ.
Ignorance is not merely absence of knowledge, ignorance is opposed to knowledge. It conceals what is true and causes the projection of something else in its place. That incorrect or incomplete knowledge, when taken to be true, becomes opposed to that which is true.
To come to a false conclusion because of avidyā is to arrive at adhyāsaḥ. It is adhyāsaḥ, erroneous perception, not seeeing things as they are, that is the immediate cause of saṃsāraḥ (while ignorance is of course the foundational or ultimate cause). See āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ, vikṣepa-śaktiḥ and rajju-sarpa-nyāyaḥ.
Self-effulgent; self-revealing; self-evident.
Unmodifiable; unchanging.
Immortality; absence of death or destruction.
Limb; member; part; portion; subdivision; component.
Mental repetition (of a mantraḥ).
Unswerving devotion.
Undifferentiated; primal; undeveloped; māyā prior to its manifestation of sṛṣṭiḥ.
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.
Unmanifest; reality's unmanifest power of knowing; synonym of māyā. 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 unmanifest macro and micro causes, Vedāntaḥ gives them the names māyā and avidyā respectively.
Undecaying; indeclinable; unchanging.
This one.
ayamātmā brahma
'This self is Brahman' (Māṇḍūkya 2). 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 – 'me', the ordinary sense of self, 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.
Abode; sanctuary; resting place; support; altar.
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 due to the āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ of māyā and a lack of enquiry.
Negation (by correct knowledge); sublation; objection; contradiction; (bādhita, false, annulled, subject to negation; bādhaka, any factor that negates a previous contention). See abādhita.
bādhāyām 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 not a man, 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.
In many ways; diversely; repeatedly; variously; manifoldly.
External (opp. of abhyantara, internal).
External organ, e.g. the eye.
Young; not mature; not fully grown.
Strength; force. Strength is more than physical. Real strength – inner strength – is the ability to live a disciplined life, following true values. It is evident in having the qualifications needed for mokṣaḥ and comes from having puruṣārtha-niścayaḥ, definiteness about one's primary aim in life. See sādhana-catuṣṭayam.
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). Bondage is being bound or shackled to the notion that I, the limitless ātmā, am this aggregate of body, mind and senses. Liberation, mokṣaḥ, is freedom from this intellectual problem of mis-identification. That freedom is found in the recognition and full ascertainment of my true nature.
Bondage; confining; restraint; imprisonment; knot.
The six great virtues, found in equal and full measure only in Bhagavān:
jñānam, knowledge.
śrīḥ, wealth.
yaśas, fame.
vīryam, strength.
vairāgyam, dispassion.
aiśvaryam, overlordship.
Part; fraction.
Implication or definition (lakṣaṇā) in which irrelevant and inappropriate aspects (bhāga) of word meanings are left aside (tyāga) and relevant and appropriate aspects retained. Synonym of jahadajahallakṣaṇā.
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.
Lord; the one endowed with the six great virtues, bhagaḥ, in abundant and equal measure; personification of absolute supreme reality, absolute peace; synonym of Īśvaraḥ.
Devotee; there are four types of devotee:
ārtaḥ, a distressed devotee who thinks of God and seeks his help only when in distress.
arthārthī, 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.
Devotion; love; attachment; trust; homage; worship; piety; faith; since bhaktiḥ is expressed through action, it comes within karma-yogaḥ and so bhakti-mārgaḥ is not a separate path.
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 as Īśvaraḥ.
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 such as viparīta-bhāvanāḥ, 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 as action, being limited, cannot (whether combined with knowledge or not) produce or help produce limitlessness. Knowledge alone removes ignorance. See vivaraṇam.
The country (in which the people) revel in the light of truth; the name for India.
Light; lustre; brightness; impression made on the mind; see cidābhāsaḥ.
Language; speech.
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.
(Made) visible; brought to light.
Written commentary on a śāstram text. The method 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 Śaṅkaraḥ, Śrī Rāmānujaḥ, and Śrī Mādhvaḥ. The greatest and most famous are by Śrī Śaṅkaraḥ. See ṭīkā, vārtikam.
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').
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.
Attitude; conception; understanding; imagination; supposition; fancy; thought; meditation.
Disease (rogaḥ) of existence; the disease of the beginningless, endless cycle of births and deaths.
Modification of one's state of being; there are six such modifications:
asti, existence (in the womb)
jāyate, birth
vardhate, growth
vipariṇāmate, maturing
apakṣīyate, decline and decay
vinaśyati, destruction, death.
About to become or be; the future.
Future time; the future; (gram.) future tense; see bhūta-kālaḥ, vartamāna-kālaḥ.
Fear; alarm; dread. Fear is the inevitable consequence of perceived limitation – one who has limits is vulnerable and vulnerability is the harbinger of fear. Desire and action arise in an attempt to mitigate or eliminate vulnerability and its offspring, fear. All such action, being based on a false premise, perpetuates saṃsāraḥ.
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 or species (e.g. between two trees).
vijātīya-bhedaḥ, differences between objects of different species (e.g. between a tree and a cow).
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.
Separate; different.
Place of experience (the support, abode or 'counter' across which one has dealings with the world); the body-mind-sense complex.
Experience; enjoyment.
The world where the person appears with an appropriate physical and subtle body to experience the results of his karma.
Instrument or means of experience; synonym for the subtle body.
An object of enjoyment or experience.
Enjoyer (also known as bhoktṛ); one who believes himself to be an experiencer; it is the individual's karma that makes him or her a bhoktā.
Enjoyership; the sense of being the enjoyer (i.e. experiencer) of the results of action. See kartṛtvam.
Confusion; perplexity; delusion (fem: bhrāntiḥ).
The Earth; known as bhū-lokaḥ, the world of becoming, as it is the only lokaḥ where change can occur, i.e. where new karma may be formed; world of mortals; lowest of the seven heavens; first of the three vyāhṛtis that are the origin and essence of the gāyatrī-mantraḥ. See bhuvaḥ, svaḥ.
The element Earth.
Group or multitude of beings.
The past; (gram.) past tense; see vartamānakālaḥ, bhaviṣyat-kālaḥ.
A (transient) element, being or entity; that which has come into being and will later cease to be. See viṣayaḥ.
Worship of the Lord in the form of proper care for the living beings that constitute the natural world of plants, animals, etc.; one of the five pañcamahā-yajñas.
Cause of all.
All forms of wealth; prosperity; being; well-being; power; might.
The intermediary world between bhū-lokaḥ and suvar-lokaḥ; sixth lowest of the seven heavens; second of the three vyāhṛtis that are the origin and essence of the gāyatrī-mantraḥ. See bhuḥ, svaḥ, lokaḥ.
Seed; source; cause.
Reflection; manifestation (Reflection is often used figuratively in Vedāntaḥ, it's used in the metaphoric sense that an ornament reflects the jeweller's design, i.e. it makes manifest his/her design or concept, or in the sense that a person's thoughts are reflected in his actions. In both examples, 'reflection' is not being used in the visual sense of reflection in a mirror, it is being used to speak of the manifestation of a design or the manifestation of a thought. Nevertheless, the word reflection is conveying 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.)
Knowledge; awareness.
Īśvaraḥ as the creator and protector of the Universe, and as the revealer of the Vedāḥ. Also known as Brahmāji, Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, Prajāpatiḥ. See Viṣṇuḥ, Śivaḥ.
brahma (brahman)
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; always available; absolute reality; all-pervading; non-transactable; absolute truth; absolute peace; the divisionless, unmanifest reality behind and beyond all manifestation, worshipped by the highest most mature devotee; (not to be confused with the similarly named Brahmā (Brahmāji) the Creator). See iṣṭa-devatā and viśvarūpaḥ.
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.
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. Hence, during brahmacaryam no sexual relationship is indulged.
Earliest of the four āśramas or stages of Vedic life – studentship; also see gṛhasthaḥ, householder; vānaprasthaḥ, withdrawal; sannyāsaḥ, renunciation.
Knowledge of absolute truth; knowledge of reality; synonym of brahma-vidyā.
Highest of the seven heavens; also known as satya-lokaḥ.
Dawn or a little before; a particular period of the day; see muhūrtaḥ.
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, i.e. 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.
Macrocosom; universe; cosmos.
One established in knowledge of Brahman, in knowledge of absolute reality, and who reflects its beauty in word and deed; a jñānī – also see śrotriyaḥ.
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).
Aperture (randhram) in the crown of the head, closed soon after birth, through which the soul may exit the body on death.
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.
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 saṃsāraḥ.
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 from being a jīvaḥ, not a freeing of the jīvaḥ. See mahāvākyam.
Knowledge of Brahman, knowledge of ātmā being Brahman, absolute reality. Being the very meaning of the word Upaniṣad, it permanently disintegrates or destroys saṃsāraḥ 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.
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.
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.
It is the degree of refinement of the buddhiḥ (the degree to which it is able to discern a sense of self) that alone distinguishes a human being from an animal and gives free-will.
Being the manifestation of the intrinsic capacity of awareness to know, being the means by which knowing manifests, and hence being the locus of judgement and decision, buddhiḥ is the seat of the will. Will or 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 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 perspective gains limited results and so becomes a saṃsārī, travelling from birth to birth.
Consciousness; awareness.
Moving; movable; unsteady.
Uncivilised, unrefined, uncultured, tāmasika, wild, rough person (lit. dog-eater).
Moon (cāndra, lunar).
A materialist and atheist school of Indian philosophy whose adherents often appear in bhāṣyams as debating opponents of Vedāntaḥ. They say, for example, the mind (or senses) is ātmā, which doesn't survive death and so there is no-one to suffer the consequences of puṇya-pāpam. See other dualist opponents of Vedāntaḥ – mīmāṃsā, sāṅkhya and naiyāyika.
Four-month monsoon period (June-July to October-November); a period when sannyāsīs remain in one location; a particularly auspicious period of religious austerities and observances, especially those involving vows, vratams.
The four (catur) ages (yugam) of the world-cycle:
kṛta-yugam 1,728,000 yrs (kali-yugam x 4)
tretā-yugam 1,296,000 yrs (kali-yugam x 3)
dvāpara-yugam 864,000 yrs (kali-yugam x 2)
kali-yugam 432,000 yrs long (began 3,102 BCE).
A catur-yugam (all four yugas combined) is also known as a mahā-yugam (kali-yugam x 10 = 4,320,000 yrs); see kalpaḥ, manvantaram, yugam.
A set or group of four.
Conscious; sentient; alive.
Mind; consciousness; awareness.
Metre; mantra; science of metre, prosody, 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.
Vedic usage; Vedic expression; a word-form peculiar to the Vedas that does not conform to conventional Saṃskṛtam grammar rules.
Manifestation or reflection of consciousness from the perspective of the individual; one who identifies the consciousness manifest in the body-mind-sense complex as 'I' is called a jīvaḥ or cidābhāsaḥ; also see pratibimbaḥ; cidābhāsaḥ and pratibimbaḥ are the same consciousness viewed from different perspectives.
The space, ākāśaḥ, in the buddhiḥ in which consciousness, cit, shines (is manifest) as the 'I'-sense.
That ātmā, that consciousness, that awareness, that cit, upon which the entire fabric of the jagat is woven.
(In the form of) pure consciousness; (consisting of) pure thought; nothing but awareness.
Thinking; reflecting.
cit (citiḥ)
Pure consciousness; pure knowledge; pure intelligence; source of all knowledge; source of all manifestation – synonym of caitanyam. (Note: cit - neuter, citiḥ - feminine of the same word).
'Pure' consciousness (or pure knowledge) is a term used to distinguish pure, undifferentiated ('unmanifest') consciousness from differentiated ('manifest') consciousness, i.e. 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', ever-unformed water).
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, being self-effulgent, non-objectifiable and free from all limitations, can never be experienced directly and can be arrived at only in terms of its nature of knowing. It is the formless substance of the 'I'-thought, aham.
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. See nyāyaḥ.
Of the very form of (of the very nature of) pure knowledge, pure consciousness.
Mind-stuff; subconscious mind; memory; power of recollection; part of antaḥ-karaṇam (one of its functional names) and hence part of sūkṣma-śarīram.
Crest; top; summit.
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.
Able; skilful; expert; right (side); southern.
An offering, gift or honorarium to brāhmaṇas or to one's guruḥ.
Īśvaraḥ, the Lord, invoked as the bestower of spiritual knowledge, absolute wisdom; first and foremost in the unbroken lineage of gurus or teachers; personification of pure knowledge, which is the source of all manifest knowledge, and so Dakṣiṇāmūrtiḥ is said to be teaching in silence, which does not mean he did not speak (all teaching requires speech) it means that, due to the subtlety of what had to be communicated, he taught not by direct exposition but by the indirect means of the implication of what is true, lakṣaṇa-vākyam, and the negation of what is not, niṣedha-vākyam.
He is portrayed sitting under a banyan tree with his four disciples (sons of Brahmā) known as Sanakaḥ, Sanātanaḥ, Sanandanaḥ and Sanatkumāraḥ.
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 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.
Giving; gift.
Vision; seeing; vision of the truth; seeing Bhagavān in the form of a deity in a temple.
Compassion; empathy.
Body; subject to heat, to the burning heat of mental and/or physical adversity and eventually to the heat of cremation; also see the synoyms kāyaḥ, śarīram.
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.
Indweller of the body; synonym for jīvaḥ.
Place; spot; country.
Guide (to a place); teacher; guruḥ.
Effulgent; general term for any natural phenomenon looked upon as an illumination of consciousness or as a manifestation of the Lord (fem: devatā).
Name of the script used for Saṃskṛtam.
One of the five forms of worship; invoking Īśvaraḥ in the form of gods (devatāḥ) in order to express gratitude for all with which one has been blessed; also see pañcamahā-yajñas.
Courage; boldness; bravery.
Abode; destination.
Wealth; property; treasure.
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 – Dharma protected protects.
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 distorted, but then it naturally reasserts itself.
Dharmaḥ is a karma which produces special unseen puṇyam, unlike other karmas. See sāmānya-dharmaḥ and viśeṣa-dharmaḥ.
Element or constituent of the body, e.g. phlegm, blood, marrow; vital force in man; metal; verbal root.
Action unopposed to dharmaḥ. In living a life of karma-yogaḥ all one's actions are kept aligned with what 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.
Intellect; mind; thought in general (subtle body).
A wise person – one whose mind is protected from fear due to fear having been resolved for good.
Resolution; perseverance; firmness; fortitude.
Firm; fixed; permanent; unchanging.
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.
"To see everything as Bhagavān is dhyānam or upāsanam. To see everything is Bhagavān is jñānam."*
Meditation is defined as vijātīya-vṛtti-rahita-sajātīya-vṛtti-pravāha-rūpa-saguṇa-brahma-viṣaya-mānasa-vyāpāraḥ. This means it is a mental activity (mānasa-vyāpāraḥ) whose subject matter (viṣayaḥ) takes the form (rūpam) of saguṇa-brahma, where all thought (vṛttiḥ), other than that concerning the chosen object or topic (pravāhaḥ) is removed (vijātīya-vṛtti-rahita), and only thought concerning the chosen object flows for a length of time (sajātīya-vṛtti-pravāhaḥ). Meditation is not 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 atma."*
If the object is the truth of the subject (i.e. 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.
Carefully thinking over, carefully enquiring into what is heard from the śāstram. This word encompasses the entire process of śravaṇam, mananam and nididhyāsanam.
Initiation; consecration; a vow made ceremonially.
Lamp; light; lantern.
Long; two successive hrasva (short) mātrā (measures) of a vowel sound joined without a gap to make one long sound; also see hrasva, short; pluta, lengthened.
Divine; heavenly; not worldly.
Limitation (often mistranslated as 'defect'). See pratyavāya-doṣaḥ, vaiṣamya-nairghṛṇya-doṣaḥ, viṣaya-doṣaḥ.
An object; substance; material ingredient.
Power of inertia; tamo-guṇaḥ, see guṇaḥ.
Firm; steady; resolute; persevering.
Method (prakriyā) of discriminative analysis (vivekaḥ) demonstrating not only the ever-present distinction between the seer (dṛk) and the seen (dṛśyam), but also that the seer can never be the seen; corrects the identification of ātmā with what it is not; see prakriyā.
The seer, draṣṭā (knower); the one who sees.
An example; illustration.
A seen result, an immediately manifest result (of an action). See adṛṣṭa-phalam.
Vision; view.
A meditation, dhyānam, in which a dṛśyam, an object of knowledge, a thought seen or experienced in the mind, is used as an aid to shift the attention from nāma-rupam, name and form, to be absorbed in that pure consciousness which alone truly exists (asti), shines (bhāti), is pleasing (priya), and is the source of all manifestation.
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 and nirvikalpa-samādhiḥ.
That which is objectifiable perceptually or inferentially (not merely 'that which is seen visually'); the object of knowledge (distinct from the subject, draṣṭā).
Sorrow; uneasiness; misery; pain; grief; trouble – see śokaḥ.
(Yogaḥ is) dissociation from association with sorrow. 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.
Sin; synonym of pāpam; result of wrong action translated into the experience of pain or undesirable situations.
Difficult to attain or accomplish; rare.
Bad or evil act; misdeed; see pāpam; adharmaḥ.
Pair of opposites (of experience) e.g. pleasure and pain, hot and cold, like and dislike, honour and dishonour, comfort and discomfort, success and failure. See titikṣā.
Door; entrance; gateway; means.
Set of two; a pair; dual; couple.
Aversion; dislike; hatred. Attachment means an aversion to loss, revealing an emotional dependence. see rāgaḥ, vairāgyam, kleśaḥ.
Twice-born; a mature person; an ethical person; a bird; see upanayanam.
One; undivided; continuous.
Eleventh day of the lunar fortnight, i.e. eleventh day after the new Moon or full Moon.
One-pointed – referring to a focussed state of attention.
One-pointedness (of the mind); concentration; intentness in the pursuit of a given object.
ekameva advitīyam
'One alone without a second' – an indicatory term for Īśvaraḥ, the Lord.
(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. This duality is only in the field of anātmā, that which 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.
This famous phrase from verse 7 of the Māṇḍūkya-Upaniṣad 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.
Here is what this means. When 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 without realising it. I am speaking from the standpoint of being their common, ever-present, single substratum. 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 am ever distinct from the three states of mind. Such a practice (such a nididhyāsanam) is a pointer to understanding and taking ownership of my real nature.
Ardent desire; passion; also see icchā, kāmaḥ.
The three common, strong, human desires:
putraiṣaṇā, desire for a son
vittaiṣaṇā, desire for wealth
lokaiṣaṇā, desire for higher worlds
Sky; firmament; heaven.
Sky-lotus; a poetic term for a (literally) incredible object to show astonishment at its apparent reality; a synonym for the world.
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.
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.
Demigod; celestial musician.
Subtle principle or root-element of odour.
Sacred river Ganges; its sacredness is due to its being the symbol of the eternal flow of Vedic (vaidika) wisdom. Three dips (three successive full immersions) in the Gaṅgā stand for śravaṇam, mananam, nididhyāsanam.
Movement; motion; end; goal; destination; (that towards which you go; that which you actually want; that which you get/obtain); path. The recently deceased are typically wished a "good gatiḥ" in the hope that on their journey hell is avoided and a propitious future life found.
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.
Having qualities; metaphorical.
Secondary sense or meaning expressing a perceived attribute; a metaphorical sense as in: "She is brilliant, she is on fire"; a secondary power of words. See mukhyārthaḥ and vācyārthaḥ.
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.
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 om.
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. "'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'."*
Space bounded by (apparently contained within) a pot.
Song; gīta, sung.
A cow; earth; knowledge.
A living, functional, physical organ of perception or action that is a medium of manifestation for its respective subtle sense-power or motor-power, e.g. physical eye, ear, hand, foot; see indriyam.
Family name; tribe; lineage; genus; species.
He who is attained only through knowledge; a name of Lord Kṛṣṇaḥ.
Planet; grip; grasp.
Grasping; acquiring; comprehending; recognising; perception; eclipse; that which is grasped or understood – which might be the vivakṣā, the meaning the speaker/writer intended to convey, or it might be quite different; see vivakṣā.
Admissible; fit to be received, picked up, gathered, taken, observed; sense-object.
Book; treatise; text. See mūla-granthaḥ.
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.
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.
Secret; mysterious.
A component power of māyā – there are three, namely sattvam (sattva), rajaḥ (rajas), tamaḥ (tamas). All three guṇas are present in each of the 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'.
Free from, distinct from, the guṇas.
Dispeller (ru) of darkness (gu) (dispeller of ignorance of one's true nature); a śrotriyaḥ and a brahma-niṣṭhā; a preceptor; an ācāryaḥ of ātma-vidyā. The guruḥ has to be discovered in the ācāryaḥ, teacher.
The guruḥ, in properly unfolding and interpreting the liberating words of the Upaniṣads, dispells the student's ignorance of himself, the world and God. 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 because 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 what it knows, which necessitates a teacher. In particular, 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"* (and hence needs to be shown). See śiṣyaḥ, guru-śiṣya-paramparā, sampradāyaḥ, paramparā.
Guru's grace or blessings.
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-disciple lineage in which knowledge is passed successively over time immemorial; see paramparā, sampradāyaḥ, guruḥ, śiṣyaḥ.
A consonant, vyañjanam, without any vowel, svaraḥ.
Elation; joy; delight; pleasure.
Offering; oblation.
Cause; motive; reason; purpose. Its corresponding effect is referred to by the word phalam, fruit, result.
Devoid of; deficient in; left out; omitted; incomplete; lost or strayed from; abandoned; faulty.
Īśvaraḥ as the entire subtle Universe; the sum-total (samaṣṭiḥ) of all subtle phenomena and subtle bodies; cosmic or universal mind; the highest created being 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. Its individual or vyaṣṭiḥ aspect is taijasaḥ in whom these capacities are limited.
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'!
Sacrifice; oblation with fire.
Short; one short mātrā (measure) of a vowel sound; a short measure of a vowel is the time taken to sound the 'a' in hat, or the 'i' in 'hit', or the 'u' in 'put'; also see dīrgha, long; pluta, lengthened.
The three-stranded knot, granthiḥ, of the heart, hṛdayam. The knot of the mind or heart consists of avidyā, kāmaḥ and karma. It ties the individual jīvaḥ to saṃsāraḥ.
A mantraḥ meaning: "I invoke the power in Īśvaraḥ". Since one wants a power which is a blessing, śrīm is added to hrīm. Śrīm is the Lord's blessing power, Lakṣmī, 'all that is good'.
Desire; wish; inclination; see eṣaṇā, kāmaḥ.
Power to desire; an aspect of vikṣepa-śaktiḥ – also see jñāna-śaktiḥ, kriyā-śaktiḥ.
Lord of the senses; chief of the celestials; ruler of Heaven.
Dispassion towards sense-objects.
Sense perception; sensory knowledge.
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 the indriyams are the power to see, the power to talk, etc., (dependent on the respective devatā and on prāṇaḥ) and are not to be equated with their 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.
The Lord.
Desired; beloved; worshipped.
Favourite or tutelary (protective) deity; a very personal form of God worshipped by the immaturest form of devotee. See viśvarūpaḥ and brahman.
Performance of worship or of a religious ritual.
Sacrificial rites.
Saguṇa-Brahma manifest as the entire Universe, sṛṣṭiḥ, in all its causal, subtle and gross/physical aspects. A formal definition for Īśvaraḥ 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 role as lord of all).
Similarly, when absolute reality, nirguṇa-brahma (also known as Brahman) is regarded as having the status of being the creator, sustainer and resolver of the Universe it is given the title Īśvaraḥ. See antaryāmī, Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, Brahmā, Śivaḥ, Viṣṇuḥ, Vaiśvānaraḥ, Virāṭ, devaḥ.
How an action is performed is more important than the result because, if there is a personal agenda behind it, that agenda, when put into action, will have its own consequences. No personal agenda can be in line with dharmaḥ since such an agenda is an attempt to refashion the world in its own image (the 'I know best' attitude) rather than follow the lead of dharmaḥ. Such actions, such a competing world view, being at odds with the flawless order that is dharmaḥ, only leads to more saṃsāraḥ. By following dharmaḥ, a karma-yogī avoids this error. Then the quality of the action becomes more important than the end.
He/she follows dharmaḥ by appreciating the fact that all that is here is Īśvaraḥ, from which there naturally arises the recognition that, not only all inner and outer phenomena, but all one's thoughts, feelings and actions are also in and of Īśvaraḥ (have īśvaraḥ as their very existence and occur only by His grace, just as is the case with the waker and the dream world that arises with the dream state). This understanding is what is meant by īśvara-arpaṇa-buddhiḥ, consigning or offering (arpaṇa) all one's actions to Īśvaraḥ in acknowledgement of the fact that that is in whom and by whom (by whose grace) they all occur. It results in a natural desire to live in accord with the orderly manifestation that is Īśvaraḥ, and so one makes efforts to live a life of dharmaḥ. See karma-yogaḥ and saṅkalpaḥ.
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. See karma-yogaḥ.
The manifest world; the world made manifest by māyā, the Lord's creative power; the world experienced by the jīvaḥ in the waking state, jāgrad-avasthā. See jīva-sṛṣṭiḥ.
Thus; so; accordingly; lays stress on what precedes; also marks the end of a quotation, definition, etc.
"So indeed it was"; epic; legend; traditional account of former events describing the life and adventures of a hero or heroes, e.g. Lord Rāmaḥ of the Rāmāyaṇam, and the five Pāṇḍavāḥ of the Mahābhāratam.
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.
Universe – which becomes manifest and unmanifest continuously, cyclically, and is mithyā. The jagat has only nāma-rūpam (name and form) reality. It is the Lord's knowledge.
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. See jīva-brahma-aikyam.
Cause of manifestation of the cosmos; Īśvaraḥ, with his śaktiḥ known as māyā, is the means of manifestation, but the cause is the ripening prārabdha-karma of (innumerable) jīvas, a ripening that lawfully demands expression and, being lawful, it cannot be gainsaid. The cause is not some capricious whim or desire of Īśvaraḥ but the natural and inevitable consequence of the law of karma.
Waking state of the mind in which the gross world of physical objects, created by Īśvaraḥ, is experienced via the senses (also created by Īśvaraḥ). Free-will and doership exist only in the waking state, not in dream or deep sleep. See svapna-avasthā, dream state; suṣupti-avasthā, deep-sleep state; turīya, 'fourth'; avasthā-trayam, the three states of experience.
A type of definition or implication in which the non-contradictory part of a sentence is retained but the apparently contradictory part is left aside, e.g. in "This is that Devadatta," the contradictory associations regarding time and place are left aside, but the non-contradictory part, the person called Devadatta (seen earlier) 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 lakṣaṇā.
A type of definition or implication in which meaning is conveyed by completely leaving aside the literal or direct meaning in favour of the implied meaning, e.g. 'the village on the river' – the village is on the river bank, not afloat upon the river. By leaving aside the direct meaning of the term 'village on the river' its essential nature is also left aside, and so jahallakṣaṇā is unsuitable for elucidating tattvamasi as it ignores the svarūpam of tvam, the jīvaḥ. See ajahallakṣaṇā, jahadajahallakṣaṇā and also lakṣaṇā.
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 has any regard for the truth and neither can be reasoned with. The purpose in jalpaḥ is only to convert the other party, which is typical of a cult. Also see samvādaḥ, vādaḥ, vitaṇḍa-vādaḥ.
Production; manifestation; birth; life; coming into existence.
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)
Although on this Earth there are 8.4 million species of living things, and hence 8.4 million types of birth for a jīvaḥ, the actual number of possible births is of course immeasurable.
A living being; a creature.
Repeated utterance (of a mantraḥ); chanting. 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 meaningful vṛttiḥ.
Even if the meaning is not understood, the mantraḥ has some effect because it stands for what it is, the sounds contain some meaning.
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 dwells on what is true and it benefits from all that that brings.
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."*
Old age; infirmity; decay.
Species; family; clan; birth.
Holy birth anniversary.
False, temporary dispassion; a desire to give up resulting from disenchantment, despair, frustration, pain, etc. such as may be felt with bereavement. See vairāgyam.
Desire/thirst for knowledge.
A person desirous of knowledge.
Someone who has conquered or who has mastery over the indriyāṇi, senses.
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. See jagat-brahma-aikyam.
Individual being whose 'I'-notion (ahaṅkāraḥ) is mistakenly identified with the body-mind-sense complex and hence has kartṛtvam (doership) and bhoktṛtvam (enjoyership). The essence and substratum of the jīvaḥ is ātmā, just as water is the substratum of the ocean wave or clay of the clay pot.
One liberated from apparent individuality (from 'jīva-hood'); free while living. His or her knowledge of being free is clear and unshakeable, with happiness that is continuous and that cannot be overshadowed; and although the world continues to be experienced, he or she is undisturbed by it, knowing it to be mithyā. Knowing that ahaṅkāraḥ and mamatvam 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'.
Liberation while living (liberation after death is videha-muktiḥ).
The jīva's creation. The jīvaḥ responds (in the waking state, jāgrad-avasthā) to the world it meets (the Īśvara-sṛṣṭiḥ) forming favourable and unfavourable impressions (vāsanāḥ). These lead to the jīvaḥ living in a self-created personal world of largely habitual notions, moods, predispositions, obsessions and responses in the form of attachments and aversions and their consequent desires and fears. In short, the jīvaḥ projects its own world view, the jīva-sṛṣṭiḥ, upon the Īśvara-sṛṣṭiḥ, "This is how I see the world; this is my view of how to respond to it." See prātibhāsika-satyam.
Ātmā (consciousness) associated with an individual body-mind-sense complex. (The term paramātmā is used to refer to ātmā unassociated with individuality.)
The state or condition of being a jīvaḥ; 'jīva-hood' or jīva-ness. Jīvatvam is like captaincy: if a person is the captain of a cricket team, he or she has the captaincy of the team, which is to say the person holds the status of being the captain. Captaincy means he has captain-ness or captain-hood (he is in the state of being a captain). Here, 'person' is equivalent to ātmā, 'captain' is equivalent to jīvaḥ and 'captaincy' is jīvatvam.
Involving oneself in jñāna-yogaḥ, i.e. in śravaṇam, mananam and nididhyāsanam.
The error of taking to be real an accurate perception that is factually incorrect, e.g., taking the rising of the Sun in the east to be real (the Earth is turning on its axis).
Upaniṣads – that (latter) part of the Vedas (also known as Vedāntaḥ) that deals with spirituality or self-knowledge. See karma-kāṇḍaḥ.
jñāna-karma samuccayaḥ
Combination of knowledge and action. Some think that knowledge needs to be combined with action to attain liberation, i.e. learn the theory then put it into practice. That is not true. Since 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 be, cannot be combined with knowledge to remove ignorance.
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. See bhagaḥ.
Abiding in the knowledge that is limitless wholeness.
The power to know; an aspect of vikṣepa-śaktiḥ – also see icchā-śaktiḥ, kriyā-śaktiḥ, and also see sattvam, guṇaḥ.
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.
The discipline for the attainment of knowledge; the path of knowledge; constantly and systematically hearing (śravaṇam), for a length of time, the guruḥ unfold the Upaniṣads, then removing doubts and misunderstandings from what has been heard (mananam) and, finally, dwelling (nididhyāsanam) upon what is properly understood of the true nature of the self as taught by the guruḥ; a life devoted to knowledge of the self, ātmā-jñānam; a synonym for the sannyāsaḥ life-style.
Although jñāna-yogaḥ is the true solution for sorrow, many are not fit to discover that fact due their delusion that the world is a source of happiness. They need to discover for themselves that actions and their results can give at best a fleeting access to happiness. Such a growth in dispassion is essential for the successful pursuit of jñāna-yogaḥ. Thus, karma-yogaḥ is introduced as a means to come to jñāna-yogaḥ. See karma-yogaḥ.
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. Note that the subtle power of sense perception (for example, the power or capacity to see) is meant here, not its physical medium or location. The power's physical location (golakam) is shown in the above list, which in the example is the eye. See indriyam, the subtle power of an organ of perception or action; also see karmendriyāṇi, the five subtle organs of action.
Knower (of Brahman, of absolute reality); one who is free from saṃsāraḥ.
Pure, formless, unalloyed awareness; pure objectless consciousness; pure knowledge; knowledge itself, unrestricted by having form, unrestricted by being 'knowledge of'; the intrinsic nature of the knower (fem. of jñānam). See cit and śuddha-caitanyam.
Knower; subject of the verb 'to know'.
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'.
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...
Science of astronomy and astrology; one of the six auxiliary sciences, Vedāṅgas, of the Vedas – also see śikṣā, chandas, vyākaraṇam, niruktam, kalpaḥ.
Freedom; oneness; absolute unity; limitless independence; mokṣaḥ; advaitam.
Time (antakālaḥ – end time i.e. time of death).
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.
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 rule, resolve, procedure, and since it can mean 'methods of ritual' it is additionally the name of one of the six auxiliary sciences, Vedāṅgas, of the Vedas – the other five are śikṣā, chandas, vyākaraṇam, niruktam, jyotiṣaḥ.
Imagining; forming in the imagination; creating in the mind.
Projected; imagined; fabricated; artificial; composed; invented; supposed.
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.
At its core, every desire is a wish to be free from being a wanting person, a person bound by limits. That desire for freedom from limitation is because everyone's true nature is limitlessness – which is true happiness – and that nature cannot and will not be gainsaid. "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."*
See the six malas, impurities; also see eṣaṇā and icchā.
One who desires pleasure; a pleasure-seeker.
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 saṃsāraḥ.
Section; chapter; part; portion.
Beauty; loveliness; female beauty; beauty of character; beauty of personality.
Letter; syllable; word; act; action. As a verb, kāra – 'making', 'doing', 'activity (of)'.
Instrument of action.
Cause of an action or phenomenon – its corresponding effect is referred to by the term kāryam. Also see sthūla, sūkṣma.
Causal body; consisting of beginningless avidyā and impure sattvam; persists even beyond pralayaḥ. See sthūla-śarīram, sūkṣma-śarīram, and suṣupti-avasthā.
Action (especially action from free-will); object of an action; duty; that which causes the production of bodies (new births) and hence saṃsāraḥ.
Being limited, no amount 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.
This early or prior part of the Vedaḥ (also known as Veda-pūrva) deals with religious rituals and their results. Although providing the means for the proper fulfilment of legitimate desire, its ultimate purpose is to help the individual see that all action is limited and limiting (karma, being finite, produces only finite ends). Thus, it 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.
Giver of the fruit of action. 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 phenomena, and thus all aspects of all activity. We may bounce a ball, but the result, being always according to 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.
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 also fall into four categories:
utpattiḥ (utpādyam), production
vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam), modification
āptiḥ (āpyam), attainment
saṃskṛtiḥ (saṃskāryam), refinement.
Action makes, modifies, attains or refines – that's all!
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 actions performed 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 what is perceived of the order that is dharmaḥ, Īśvaraḥ. As best one may, one's actions then become unopposed to what 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 mastery over one's emotions and ways of thinking, including forgoing 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 saṃsāraḥ 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.
"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 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 [i.e. 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."*
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. Note that the subtle power of action (for example, the power or capacity of handling) is meant here; not the physical action itself but its means. The power's physical location (golakam) is shown in the above list, which in the example is the hands. See indriyam, the subtle power of an organ of perception or action; also see jñānendriyāṇi, the five subtle organs of knowledge.
Doer; subject of an action.
Doership; the sense of being the doer or author of action. See bhoktṛtvam.
Compassion; empathy.
Cause-effect relationship.
Body-mind-sense complex (close union or combination, saṅghātaḥ, of cause, kāraṇam, and effect, kāryam). The assemblage (saṅghātaḥ) of the physical body or effect (kāryam) and the mind, senses and prāṇaḥ, or cause (kāraṇam), is a modification of the guṇas of prakṛtiḥ. All actions are performed by these prakṛti-guṇas (the mind, senses and physical limbs) alone.
A method (prakriyā) of analysis (vivekaḥ) that reveals reality by distinguishing between cause (kāraṇam) and effect (kāryam). It 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.
Effect; product; its cause is referred to by the word kāraṇam.
Stain; impurity; "Vedāntaḥ doesn't work unless you love yourself. And unless you clear the kaṣāyaḥ, 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."*
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.
Poet; seer (ṛṣiḥ); one who is able to see beyond surface appearances and see things properly.
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 focussed attention. See mānasam karma, vācikam karma.
Hair (on the head, śīrṣam); body hair is loman.
Only; simply; (kevala – one; alone; entirely).
Small amount; very little.
Singing (praising) the glory of God.
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
One of the five areas of the kārya-kāraṇa-saṅghātaḥ, the body-mind-sense complex, providing the potential for self-misidentification; see pañca-kośāḥ.
View (of reality). No view or opinion or philosophy ever reaches the truth. Ātmā is ever-untouched by any view, which is yet another reason why Vedāntaḥ cannot be considered to be a philosophy.
Gradual (krama) liberation (muktiḥ) by slowly resolving the mind in the self after death while in brahma-lokaḥ being taught by Brahmā. 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.
Power to do or act; an aspect of vikṣepa-śaktiḥ – doing also implies the power to desire, icchā-śaktiḥ, and prior to that, the power to know, jñāna-śaktiḥ; also see guṇaḥ.
One endowed with the ability to act; actor.
Anger; wrath; passion; also see the six malas, impurities.
Mercy; grace; blessing; pity; tenderness; compassion – especially a compassion that is easily dismissable in testing situations.
Poor; a beggar; miserly; stingy – in the Vedantic context, one who does not spend his knowledge of right and wrong (stingily doesn't use or 'spend' his buddhiḥ) and instead unthinkingly abuses his free-will is a miser. Only an action in line with dharmaḥ is an action born of free-will because only a will in line with dharmaḥ is free (at least temporarily) of its delusions, restrictions and flaws. "Freedom is in spite of free-will."*
Lord Viṣṇuḥ, teacher of the Bhagavad-Gītā; personification of all-attractive happiness, fullness, limitlessness.
Entire; whole; all. Kṛtsnavit, knower of the whole, one of complete knowledge, a wise person.
Patience; forgiveness; endurance; forbearance; tolerance.
Momentary; transient.
An accommodating, appropriate, non-reactive, non-judgemental response to others' behaviour.
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.
Decay; loss; disease.
Ease; wellness; security; protection or retention of what has been acquired. Its counterpart is yogaḥ, which is the acquiring of the yet to be acquired. Being subject to these two worldly pursuits and the anxiety and stress they involve is detrimental to the pursuit of freedom. See Gītā 9.22.
Field-knower; knower of the field (kṣetram) of experience; knower of all that is observable; a synonym for ātmā as the sākṣī. See Gītā, chapter 7.
Field (of experience) i.e. the jagat (including one's mind).
Thrown; scattered (attention); distracted (mind).
Family; community.
Pot; pitcher.
Immovable; ever the same. Because of its nature of immovability, ātmā is said to be kūṭastha, thereby likening it to the unbending blacksmith's anvil, kūṭam, when hammering red-hot metal. See Gītā 12.3.
Hut or cottage.
Benefit; wealth; profit; gain; advantage; attainment; conquest.
Light; easy.
Definition; indication; description; symbol. See...
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 reveal Brahman. In doing so, they each use negation to correct mistakes committed from different standpoints. For example, since 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, the word satyam negates all attempts at worldly comparison or definition and implies an unchanging, immanent reality that is the substratum of all. Similarly, the word 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 (such as the possession of qualities or attributes) and thus implies a limitlessness that is beyond all conceptions of limit.
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.
The relationship (sambandhaḥ) between a word (lakṣyam, the thing being defined) and its meaning (lakṣaṇam, the definition). See sāmānādhikaraṇyam.
That whose characteristics are to be defined, revealed or indicated.
Indicated or implied meaning of word(s); see vācyārthaḥ.
Worldly; pertaining to empirical phenomena.
Mental absorption with return, as in deep sleep; sloth; dissolution as part of the endless cycle of manifestation and unmanifestation of the universe.
Fraction; small portion; particle.
Play; sport; diversion; pleasure.
Clue; mark; sign; indication; gender.
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.
Greed; also see the six malas, impurities.
Place; region; result. Of the 14 temporary abodes, lokas, the seven lower ones are forms of hell, narakaḥ, and are only for the exhaustion of pāpam. The seven higher are forms of heaven, svargaḥ, and are only for the exhaustion of puṇyam (with the exception of the turning point, bhū-lokaḥ, this Earth, in which change takes place, and puṇyam and pāpam are both acquired and exhausted).
Bhū-lokaḥ is the only place with free-will and so is the only lokaḥ where change or development or becoming is possible, hence the term bhū, to become.
The seven higher lokas begin with this Earth, bhūḥ, and in ascending order are bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ, suvaḥ, mahaḥ, janaḥ, tapaḥ, with satyam the highest. In descending order, the seven lower are: atalam, vitalam, sutalam, talātalam, rasātalam, mahātalam, with pātālam lowest of all.
Welfare of the world.
Pride; arrogance; intoxication; also see the six malas, impurities.
Sweet; pleasant.
Middle; third (middle, intermediate) stage of emergence of speech. When a person is inclined to speak, the unmanifest and undifferentiated power of speech known as parā, having become differentiated at paśyantī, goes upwards to a cakram (power centre) called manipūrakam, located at the navel. As it continues upwards into the heart cakram (anāhatam), the same unmanifest power, parā, assumes by association with the intellect a specific word form, madhyama. see parā, paśyantī, vaikharī.
My; mine; my own; belonging to me.
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-hiraṇyagarbaḥ, was revealed by ṛṣiḥ Māhācamasya. See vyāhṛtiḥ.
One of wide knowledge, who knows even the source of knowledge.
Great intellect; first product of prakṛtiḥ (also a term for the totality of all intellects and hence is an epithet for Hiraṇyagarbaḥ).
A great mind; a person of vision; a person free from ignorance; a jñānī. Also means Bhagavān, the absolute or great self, the truth that is the only self (the only reality) of all beings.
Majesty; glory; greatness; dignity.
The great principle; principle of intelligence or buddhiḥ; Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ or Brahmā.
Great statement from the Upaniṣads revealing the self. There are many such statements, but the four most famous are:
ahaṃ brahmāsmi
ayamātmā brahma
prajñānaṃ brahma
There is no gradation between them (as some suggest), the lakṣyārthaḥ of all is the same. Some other mahā-vākyas are:
brahma veda brahmaiva bhavati
neha nānāsti kiñcana
sarvaṃ hyetadbrahma
sarvaṃ khalvidaṃ brahma
satyaṃ jñānam anantaṃ brahma
Friendliness; benevolence; good will.
Garland (of flowers); string of beads (usually 108) for japaḥ.
Dirt; impurity – six kinds:
kāmaḥ, lust
krodhaḥ, anger
lobhaḥ, greed
mohaḥ, delusion
madaḥ, pride
mātsaryam, jealousy
Each of these six is also known as a vairiḥ, an enemy, of the wise.
'My-sense'; sense of ownership; possessiveness.
manaḥ (manas)
Mind; 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; 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' and '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.
Lit. 'thinking'. Resolving doubts by reflecting, with appropriate reasoning, on what has been heard through śravaṇam until understanding is flawless and 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, it becomes a mānasam karma, a mental action (or soon a kāyikam karma, a physical one) that 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 focussed attention. See kāyikam karma, vācikam karma.
Dull; dull-witted; lazy; inactive; (māndyam, dullness).
Auspicious; synonyms are bhadram, kalyāṇam, śam, śivam, śubham, svasti.
Jewel; gem; ornament.
Ascertained knowledge of the vision of the śrutiḥmanīṣī, a clear thinker, intelligent, wise.
Having the mind as an upādhiḥ. This term refers to the mind being an upādhiḥ for ātmā. See 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 too 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, hear 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.
Mastery over one's ways of thinking.
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 saṃsāraḥ. 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.
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), e.g. the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad. See brahmana upaniṣad.
A living being capable of thinking, i.e. a human being.
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.
Period of rule of each Manuḥ, i.e. 72 caturyugas. One manvantaram is one 14th of a kalpaḥ. One kalpaḥ is a day of Brahmā.
Death; (māraṇam, killing, slaying).
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') an enquiry that involves two sequential lifestyles, and 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.
Mother; the one who measures (also mātṛ).
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 differ.)
Jealousy; envy; discomfort felt on seeing another's excellence, possession, etc.; also see the six malas, impurities.
Indefinable power of Īśvaraḥ. Māyā does not exist independently of Īśvaraḥ and hence is mithyā (as is all that arises from it). It undergoes change to manifest the jagat. It is one power with three aspects: the three guṇas, sattvam (sattva), rajaḥ (rajas), tamaḥ (tamas). This three-fold creative power manifests as the jñāna-śaktiḥ (capacity to know) of sattvam, the kriyā-śaktiḥ (capacity to act) of rajas, and the dravya-śaktiḥ (capacity for inertia) of tamas.
First to emerge from māyā at the arising of the Universe are the pañca-bhūtas, the five elements, each of which naturally consists of the three guṇas. These elements form all that follows. Their sāttvika aspects, for example, form the jñānendriyāni, 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 intrinsic to and inseparable from Īśvaraḥ, māyā is not an attribute nor an upādhiḥ (only when māyā is manifest as forms, names and functions do upādhis arise). Neither does māyā mean 'illusion', nor is what arises from it an illusion; the world is real, albeit dependently real, for its substratum, consciousness, is absolutely (independently) real.
Māyā unmanifest is ignorance. Māyā manifest is knowledge.
Magician; sorcerer.
Power of intellection – ability to unfailingly attend (focus), properly understand, ever retain, fully ascertain and completely assimilate what is taught.
Wise man; one of refined intelligence.
Analysis of the sentences of the Vedaḥ. Analysis of the earlier, pūrvā, portion (karma-kāṇḍaḥ or ritual portion) is called pūrvā-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, the Upaniṣads, whose statements reveal the nature of reality. They further reveal that the ultimate purpose of the Vedaḥ is not karma but jñānam, the knowledge that alone liberates. See other dualist opponents of Vedāntaḥ – cārvākaḥ, sāṅkhyam and naiyāyikaḥ.
Mithyā is that which is neither absolutely real nor unreal, but is empirically, objectively, relatively, dependently real. It is a synonym for asat, indicating something that is dependent for its very existence on its substratum, just as a clay pot depends on clay, or a gold ornament on gold. The pot and ornament are present only while the substratum, clay or gold, is present; remove the substratum and the pot and ornament vanish. Hence, the pot and ornament are both mithyā, seemingly real, dependently real, not absolutely real. (Synonym of mṛṣā, unreal, false.) See sat, asat, satyam, tuccham.
Joy, pleasure; a degree of happpiness: the (greater) pleasure born of having got a desired object; also see priya, pramodaḥ.
Delusion; absence of discriminative understanding; bewilderment; perplexity. 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.
Freedom from ignorance-born erroneous identification with the body and mind; freedom from saṃsāraḥ the beginningless, endless cycle of births and deaths; freedom from emotional dependence; freedom from being a wanting person, which is accomplishable only through knowledge as freedom is already present, but covered by ignorance. Knowledge of the self itself is taking ownership of that freedom that is already there as one's own essential nature. Mokṣaḥ is also known as parama-śreyaḥ, most exalted wellness, and as saṃsiddhiḥ, the greatest accomplishment.
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 saṃsāraḥ, a cycle that is never-ending until broken by correct knowledge of oneself and the world. See parā-vidyā.
Death; Lord of Death. After death, the time until a new birth 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).
The deluded; the confused ones.
Name for certain hand gestures and finger positions.
A period of 48 minutes – a typical length of time for a meditation session. See brāhmamuhūrtam.
Primary or usual meaning of a word or sentence. 'On the face of it, it means...' (mukham, face). See vācyārthaḥ, gauṇa-vṛttiḥ, lakṣyārthaḥ.
Free; released; liberated.
Freedom; release; liberation; synonym of mokṣaḥ (freedom) and vimocanam (liberation).
Root; source; basis; principle.
The root or source text; a text when unadorned by a commentary, bhāṣyam.
Original or primary ignorance, māyā. See tūlāvidyā.
Desirer of freedom, liberation, knowing clearly what that means i.e. knowing that through recognition of one's true nature, all ignorance-born bondages (from the ego to the body) will go. 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.
Having the status of being desirous of liberation, mokṣaḥ. 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 and constraint. That recognition and its consequent changed priorities (all due to vivekaḥ) brings an enduring commitment, a status of being unshakeably committed to that quest for freedom and its means, jñānam. See sādhana-catuṣṭayam.
One who is discipline-minded; a person capable of appropriate thinking; one who does not lose sight of the fact that all that is here is absolute reality; one who remains focussed on the vision of the truth; someone capable of being meditative; a sage; an ascetic.
Form; visible shape; personification; idol; statue.
Sound; ringing of a bell.
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.
(noun) Effect; result. Its corresponding cause is referred to by the term nimittam; (adjective) naimittika, occasional, special, accidental.
Occasional (not daily) duties, some of which will be regular e.g. monthly, yearly. All naimittika-karmas are included in nitya-karmas. Their performance earns puṇyam. 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. See karma, kāmya-karma, nitya-karma, niṣiddha-karma, pratiṣiddha-karma, prāyaścitta-karma.
Steadiness; solidity; fixity.
Offerable; conveyable; food (symbolically) offered to a deity.
Logician; a user and follower of the dualist nyāyaḥ (logic) system of Indian philosophy, founded by Akṣapāda Gautama, that asserts that 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 (the mīmāṃsakas, sāṅkhyas and cārvākāḥ) they form the chief debating opponents of Vedāntins.
Heaven; vault of Heaven; firmament; (a place of) no unhappiness. See svargaḥ
Star; constellation.
nāman (nāma)
Salutations – namaste (namaḥ-te), 'salutations to you'. Sāṣṭaṅga-namaskāraḥ is a 'salutation with eight limbs' in which all eight touch the floor in prostration viz. chest, head, mind, words, trunk etc, feet, knees and hands.
Name (nāman) and form (rūpam). This insubtantial world is mere name and form whose substance is satyam.
Joy; delight; happiness.
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'.
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's court assigns their punishments in line with his records. See lokaḥ and svargaḥ.
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.
Bestower of happiness.
Destruction; disappearance; removal.
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.)
One who does not recognise the Vedaḥ as a pramāṇam; see āstikaḥ.
Transient; perishable; subject to change.
Lord; refuge; protector; husband.
neha nānāsti kiñcana
"There is no second thing here at all." Kaṭha Upaniṣad 2.1.11. See mahāvākyam.
"Not this, not this" (lit. "No! No!"); an expression used in various texts for progressively negating any and all attributes of ātmā.
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.
Contemplation – dwelling upon the nature of reality understood as one's own self, the truth of 'I', wherein the meditator-meditated division or difference is absent because the object of meditation is the truth or essential nature of the subject.
In order to gain the full benefit of what has been understood of the self, it is necessary to constantly dwell upon that vision in all situations (and thereby not lose the objectivity that understanding bestows).
Nididhyāsanam is possible only after śravaṇam and mananam as its purpose is the full ascertainment and assimilation of what has already been correctly understood from śravaṇam and mananam (and the removal of viparīta-bhāvanāḥ).
Sleep. Māyā or universal ignorance has its individual (vyaṣṭiḥ) aspect, known as nidrā, in the jīvaḥ with the same two-fold power of veiling/projecting and hence capable of projecting a 'new' individual, in his/her own world, in svapnaḥ, dream.
Nidrā is a general term for either svapnaḥ (dreaming sleep) or suṣuptiḥ (deep sleep). The very word nidrā itself, meaning sleep, emphasises the primacy of sleep, indicating that each state of dream and waking arises directly from the deep-sleep state.
Conclusion arrived at through deductive reasoning from two or more propositions; conclusive summary of an argument.
Restraint; obstruction; mastery.
Intelligent or efficient cause, the presence of which itself lends existence to matter; also see upādāna-kāraṇam.
Being instrumental; reason; motive; target. Its corresponding effect is referred to by the term naimittikam.
Untainted; spotless; pure; untainted by any association; ever transcendent even though immanent (a term for ātmā).
Unsurpassed; unrivalled; unequalled.
Without parts; divisionless; indivisible.
Attributeless, absolute reality implied by the term 'Brahman' (as its nature is limitlessness); pure consciousness; see saguṇa-brahma.
Meditation on nirguṇa-brahma, the abstract formless reality, in which there is no meditator-meditated difference – see upāsanam, nididhyāsanam.
Free from all attributes.
The discipline of Vedic (vaidika) etymology; one of the six auxiliary sciences, Vedāṅgas, of the Vedas – also see śikṣā, chandas, vyākaraṇam, jyotiṣaḥ, kalpaḥ.
Without upādhiḥ (limiting adjunct); see upādhiḥ.
In nirupādhikādhyāsaḥ, one object is mistaken for another, e.g. 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 implies the nature of reality being non-coverability (reality is non-coverable because of its nature of all-pervasiveness); also means knowledge, mokṣaḥ, because in knowledge one sees one's own self being free from all seeming covers, pañca-kośas; nirvāṇam means mokṣaḥ because in mokṣaḥ one sees oneself being limitlessness; liberation.
A commitment to knowledge and a dispassion for worldly objects and pursuits; a consequence of puruṣārtha-niścayaḥ.
Divisionless; changeless; free from knower-knowledge-known division; (does not mean 'absence of thought'.)
"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 a state of 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, being an experience that comes and goes, is not mokṣaḥ. See samādhiḥ and savikalpa-samādhiḥ.
Unmodifiable; unchangeable; unchanged.
Without any attributes or distinguishing characteristics.
Development; completion; termination; mokṣaḥ.
Conviction; definiteness; firm resolve.
Well ascertained
Prohibition (forbidden by scripture); discontinuance; warding off; negation; control.
A statement phrased in negative terms e.g. 'the self is unlimited', 'the seer is not the seen', here dismissing (negating) false notions of limit and identity. See vidhi-vākyam.
Forbidden action; action not in line with dharmaḥ and therefore forbidden by the scriptures and which accumulates pāpam. See karma, kāmya-karma, nitya-karma, naimittika-karma, pratiṣiddha-karma, prāyaścitta-karma.
Free from (binding) desire.
An action free from binding desire, which means an action that is proper, necessary and done with no ulterior motive, no desire for personal benefit. Moreover, when such an action is done, recognising that the fulfilment of the need is the fulfilment of the dharmaḥ of Īśvaraḥ, it can become an action dedicated to Īśvaraḥ. Such a 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-focussed' behaviour. See karma-yogaḥ. (Desire is natural and necessary for action. All actions are done with desire, but a desire having a personal motive binds).
Crossing over; deliverance; final release.
Firmness; steadiness; freedom from doubt or vagueness; remaining established in the vision of the truth.
Timeless; not subject to time. Note that timelessness is not 'eternity' (which is a measure of time), neither does it have 'continuity', for continuity is also a measure of time.
Any regular, daily or occasional duty and hence, the term includes naimitta-karma and of course religious duties. Doing what needs to be done is choiceless because a need is by definition not a matter of choice but of recognition. Fulfilling a need earns puṇyam and avoids or even mitigates pāpam (nitya-karmas such as prayer may mitigate the impact, or even neutralise the results, of prior 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. See karma, kāmya-karma, naimittika-karma, niṣiddha-karma, pratiṣiddha-karma, prāyaścitta-karma.
Timeless, pure, awakened, liberated – an expression sometimes used to describe a jñānī.
Contented; ceased; resolved – hence, free from the hold of the mind; not identified with the mind (by permanently taking one's stance in the self).
Abstinence; cessation; giving primacy to śreyas rather than preyas – see its opposite pravṛttiḥ.
One having a disciplined mind.
Law; order; inner order of things (dharmaḥ); self-restraint; restriction; necessity; destiny; religious duty or obligation.
Definitely; asssuredly; certainly.
Logic; justice; rule; law; maxim; illustration. For example:
The sacred sound-symbol (pratīkaḥ) of the Lord, om is an auspicious name of Īśvaraḥ and so when chanted it invokes Īśvaraḥ, helping one recognise the vastu.
All human sounds are modifications of the natural gutteral sound 'a', which becomes 'm' on closing the lips. The sound 'u' simply represents all sounds in between. All words in all languages being combinations of sounds, om may be said to pervade and represent all name and form. Its three constituent sounds are also the origin of the three vyāhṛtis that are the essence of the gāyatrī-mantraḥ. The gāyatrī is in turn the essence of every mantraḥ of the entire Vedaḥ.
Om is used for both saguṇa- as well as nirguṇa-dhyānam. In saguṇa-dhyānam the letter 'a' is the waker and Virāt, 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 is nirguṇa-brahma, the truth of om. See praṇavaḥ.
The 'o' in the word om should be pronounced by forming the lips into a tiny circle and making the vowel sound in 'show', 'go' or 'sew'. The vowel 'o' should be one long (dīrgha) measure of sound, i.e. two successive short (hrasva) measures joined with no gap. One short measure is the time taken to say the 'a' in 'hat' or 'sat'. Similarly, the labial sound 'm' should be short, giving a total of three short measures for the duration of om.
Om, a single-syllable sound, is not to be pronounced (or written) 'aum' or any variant of it. Grammatically, it may be formed that way in the Sanskrit language, but the use and benefit of a-u-m is as a teaching device (in, for instance, the Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad) to reveal the significance of the elements of om. 'Aum' is not a pronunciation guide.
Plant; herb; vegetation.
A fourth part (a quarter) of a stanza; a quarter of anything; foot.
Step; foot; word; that which is to be reached or accomplished; that by which an object is reached or known.
Being the blessing by which anything may be arrived at, padam also implies pure knowledge.
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.
Side (of anything); wing (of a bird); a shoulder; fortnight (one 'side' or half of a lunar month); (the other, the opposing) side's (contention) – see pūrvapakṣī.
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. Being the first to manifest from māyā, all that follows is their product.
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.
The five (mithyā) layers of personality that seemingly cover the non-coverable self, ātmā. Ignorance provides the potential for self-misidentification with the kārya-kāraṇa-saṅghāta, the body-mind-sense complex. Note that although the finer kośaḥ successively pervades the grosser (and the Upaniṣads similarly reflect this metaphor of causes being 'inner' to and subtler than 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...
The five correspond to the three śarīrams: the annamaya-kośaḥ to the sthūla-śarīram, the prāṇamaya, manomaya and vijñānamaya-kośas 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.)
One of the methods of unfoldment of the self; analysis of the five kośas that seemingly cover ātmā. 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.
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.
Grossification of the five subtle elements, tanmātras (lit. 'making into five'); one half of the tāmasika aspect of each is combined with one eighth of each of the tāmasika aspects of the other four. (The word 'elementals' refers to the modified forms of the five gross elements, namely all the objects (forms) in the world, jagat, including the words denoting those forms and the purpose those forms serve.)
Scholar; learned. However, in Vedāntaḥ, paṇḍitaḥ means a wise person, a sage, one who has self-knowledge.
Action (karma) that is not in line with dharmaḥ. It has a later, presently unseen result, an adṛṣṭa-phalam that is unpleasant. The unseen result, which is similarly in the form of 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.
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. See puṇyam, vāsanā, saṃskāraḥ, adharmaḥ.
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 at the base of the spine, at the power centre (cakram) called mūlādhāram – also see paśyantī, madhyama, vaikharī.
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.
Highest truth or meaning; absolute reality; knowledge that is brahmātmā.
Supreme reality, that which is satyam jñānam anantam brahma, free from all attributes and upon which the entire world depends. See vyāvahārika-satyam, prātibhāsika-satyam.
The limitless, all-pervasive, ever-pure, ever-unchanging, ever-accomplished, timeless self out of which the universe is born, is sustained, and to which it returns; synonym for pratyagātmā, 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.
Brahman; Supreme reality.
Supreme ruler (lord) of all and everything; formless, pure consciousness – personified as Īśvaraḥ – manifest as (appearing as) the Universe.
Lineage; refers to the unbroken lineage of teachers in which the passing of knowledge from teacher to student over millennia ensures the preservation of the sampradāyaḥ, teaching tradition; see guru-śiṣya-paramparā.
Higher nature of the self; the ultimate cause, without which no cause is possible; consciousness; existence; see saccidānandaḥ, aparā-prakṛtiḥ. See Gītā, chapter 7.
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 the words of the upaniṣad is called parā-vidyā. See aparā-vidyā.
Reading/chanting a text aloud.
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 is limited, paricchinna, to perceiving only sound, for example, 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 by the limited 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 what is picked up is paricchedya (something limited, a limited object).
Limited; confined; circumscribed; cut off.
Removal; exclusion; cessation; omission.
Examination; analysis; investigation.
Evolution; growth; change.
Material cause that undergoes a change in the very substance or material itself to become an effect, e.g. churned butter becomes ghee, burnt wood becomes smoke and ash; see upādāna-kāraṇam, vivarta-upādāna-kāraṇam.
Clearly see or recognise.
Absolutely full. Time, space and all objects are so absolutely 'filled' by consciousness that consciousness is in fact all that is there.
Indirect (out of direct sight) knowledge; knowledge not from direct perception, e.g. "I heard they arrived safely."
Similarly, when the student understands sufficiently well for it to make sense 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. What is now needed is immediate knowledge, aparokṣa-jñānam.
Wife of Lord Śivaḥ; daughter of Himāvat; also known as Durgā, Satī, Umā.
Seeing; second stage of emergence of speech or sound; the power of speech, after arising from parā, when differentiated by and remaining with a specific emotion becomes known as paśyantī – also see parā, madhyama, vaikharī.
Cloth; garment.
Chant; recitation; reading; lesson; study.
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.
Wife; one who, being of a noble, compatible, pleasing, like mind, helps cross the ocean of saṃsāraḥ by always following dharmaḥ.
Scripture that is of human, not divine, authorship, e.g. smṛtiḥ.
Fruit; result of action. Its corresponding cause is referred to by the term hetuḥ.
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.)
The result attained (i.e. knowledge, the result of perception, the result of operating a pramāṇam, a means of knowledge). This term refers to the conclusion of the two-part process of perception involved in every form of empirical knowledge. See the first part: vṛtti-vyāptiḥ.
In knowledge of ātmā this second operation is not required, for the 'knower' is resolved in the wake of self-knowledge. Being the self-evident seer/perceiver, ātmā is not and cannot be the fruit of perception (no matter how subtle that perception may be).
Any roundish mass; lump; morsel of food; a solid object; the body; microcosm.
Thirst (as in 'thirst for water'; for thirst as in 'anguish or greed' see tṛṣṇā).
Sacred fig tree; Ficus Religiosa, commonly called the Peepal or aśvatthaḥ tree.
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.
Prolonged; three or more successive hrasva (short) mātrā (measures) of a vowel sound joined without gaps to make one prolonged sound; also see hrasva, short; dīrgha, long.
Glory; brilliance; splendour; majesty.
Lord; master.
Reverential, clockwise circumambulation of a holy place or person (placing on one's right is a token of respect).
Primary, unevolved source of Universe; undifferentiated matter; synonym of prakṛtiḥ and māyā.
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 (which was only temporarily in the form of 'pot') remains unaffected. See abhāvaḥ.
Prior non-existence. Prior to birth, prior to becoming manifest, an object seems not to exist (prior to the clay being moulded, no pot is evident) and yet... See abhāvaḥ.
Offspring; progeny; mankind; citizen/subject (of a nation).
Lord of all beings; the creator; also known as Brahmā, Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ and Parameśvaraḥ.
Consciousness; awareness; knowledge; wisdom; discernment (synonym of prajñānam).
One who is aware, conscious, of the meaning of the śāstram, whose mind is continually absorbed in the self.
Prājña, 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 being temporarily free from the habitual and universal identification of the waking state, that 'I am someone of limited knowledge'. The universal or samaṣṭiḥ equivalent is Īśvaraḥ with his māyā (described in the Māṇḍūkya as the antaryāmī, inner controller) – see taijasaḥ, viśvaḥ.
Pure knowledge, i.e. the source of vṛtti-jñānam, manifest knowledge. That which knows without any instrument of knowledge; that which knows by its mere presence; that which is of the nature of knowing. Source of all knowledge. Abstract, formless truth. Pure consciousness. That because of which the mind, etc., have sentience and function.
prajñānaṃ brahma
'Consciousness is Brahman' (Aitareya v3.3). What is being said here is that Brahman, absolute reality, is pure consciousness. 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 and perceptions. See prajñānam, mahāvākyam and also tattvamasi, ahaṃ brahmāsmi, ayamātmā brahma.
Manner; mode; method; sort; type; kind; variety.
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.
A text, treatise, book or chapter expounding a topic.
Light; clearness; brightness; splendour; lustre.
Method; Vedāntaḥ makes use of methods of discriminative, analytical enquiry (vivekaḥ) correcting confusion about ātmā. See...
Nature; material cause; origin; a synonym of the three-fold power, māyā, i.e. that which is available for and capable of manifestation; consists of the three guṇas.
Prakṛtiḥ is of three basic types: when sattvam is predominant it is known as māyā, when rajaḥ is predominant, it is known as avidyā, and when tamaḥ is predominant prakṛtiḥ remains known as prakṛtiḥ (from which a new guṇa balance declines forming the five tanmātras).
Complete resolution/cessation of Universe.
Inadvertence; mechanicalness; inattention; negligence; carelessness; indifference. Being indifferent and negligent, lacking seriousness in one's study of Vedāntaḥ is a major limitation on progress and is due to worldly attachments.
Means of knowledge. A means of knowledge is that which produces accurate, doubt-free knowledge of something meaningful, that cannot be negated by any other means of knowledge and which has not already been understood or known. There are six pramāṇams:
Knower (also termed pramātṛ).
The object known; knowable.
Intense joy, pleasure, delight; degree of happiness: the (much greater) pleasure born of the enjoyment of a desired object; also see priya, modaḥ.
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 sūkṣma-śarīram.
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.
'Unique name' because the praṇavaḥ, om, denotes all objects; om, the sacred sound-symbol (pratīkaḥ) for Īśvaraḥ, the Lord; essence of the entire Vedāḥ.
Meditation upon a deity; prostration; respectful conduct; prayer; vow; (also many other meanings.)
Prostration; falling at the feet of the teacher in reverential and humble submission. Such prostration demonstrates a desire and gratitude for what the teacher imparts, and humbly implies 'my mind is at your feet and has yet to rise to (and match the thinking in) your head'.
Prostration at the feet of the teacher in aṣṭāṅga-namaskāraḥ (eight-limbed obeisance) includes not only the touching of the ground with the forehead, shoulders, chest, hands, knees and feet, but also includes speech (to utter 'namaste') and mind (in reverence).
Universe (manifest or unmanifest); the five-element model of the Universe, pāñcabhautikam.
prāptasya prāptiḥ
Attainment of the already attained.
Attainment; gain; reaching.
Ripe portions of sañcita-karma fructifying and manifesting as this present life (including birth, parentage, death, all situations, all pairs of opposites) are experienced as translations of prārabdha-puṇya-pāpam in the form of sukham, happiness, and duḥkham, sorrow, thereby exhausting some puṇya-pāpam. The severity of some prārabdha can be mitigated by prayer, austerity, etc., but prabalaprārabdha, strong prārabdha-karma, cannot be modified or softened and must be faced in full.
Prārabdha-karma has an allotted span measured in breaths (one inward and outward breath counting as one breath).
Being the outcome of the law of karma and thus part of Īśvara-sṛṣṭiḥ (not jīva-sṛṣṭiḥ) prārabdha-karma must run its full course. Just as an arrow once released travels as it must, so prārabdha-karma (of the wise too) must run its full course. And yet, to the one who is awake to the fact 'I am Brahman', prārabdha-karma is no more real and has no more value than a prior dream has to a person awake. See āgāmi-karma, sañcita-karma, pratibandhaḥ.
Prayer; entreaty; request; supplication; desire.
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. Knowing this brings a quiet, cheerful serenity. See karma-yogaḥ.
Attachment in which the mind is strongly stuck; confusion due to fixed adherence to an idea or belief.
Praise; admiration; compliment.
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.
Question; query; enquiry. Teaching should occur only in response to questions, to a sincere desire to know, not from a desire to teach. Questions need to 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.
Name of one of the ten major Upaniṣads in which six people ask one question each and Śrī Ṛṣiḥ Pippalādaḥ answers them all.
Source; place of origin.
Set of three great texts of scriptural literature, namely Upaniṣads (Vedāntaḥ), Bhagavad-Gītā, Brahma-Sūtrāṇi. Since all three have their original source 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 is an analytical study of Upaniṣad mantras (nyāya-prasthānam).
Obstacle; obstruction; impediment; hindrance; hurdle; that which 'blocks against'. Pratibandhas are misunderstandings, mistaken attitudes, false ideas and adverse circumstances that block the appreciation and rise of true knowledge. They are the result of pāpa-karma. They can be neutralised by puṇya-karma, action that generates puṇyam. When, for example, we are in fine, virtuous, uplifting company (such as may be found in an ashram) our thoughts and feelings become in tune with that company; they refine. On returning later to a world that is perhaps far less pure, our minds resume a coarser, duller condition. It isn't that the coarseness has gone when in the ashram, it has simply been neutralised, rendered ineffective by the abundant good company. Similarly, when efforts are made to live a life of dharmaḥ the grace of Īśvaraḥ is attracted and earned (manifesting as puṇyam) and coarse, unwelcome feelings, thoughts and tendencies (pratibandhas) are kept increasingly at bay, neutralised, almost forgotten, while puṇyam and sattvam predominate. When puṇyam is strong enough, we can be lifted out of poor situations completely.
There are many means via which the grace of Īśvaraḥ is earned and the pratibandhas neutralised. They include: japaḥ, service of the guruḥ, living a life of dharmaḥ, practising ahiṃsā, etc. Gradually, so much grace, so much puṇyam is gained by these various indirect, preparatory means to mokṣaḥ that the mind not only increasingly finds itself in situations conducive to hearing the teaching, it becomes refined, subtle and steady enough to hear it properly. It becomes ready for the direct means to mokṣaḥ, namely śravanam, mananam and nididhyāsanam. Being heard fully and cleanly during śravanam, the teaching liberates.
There are said to be three primary obstacles to knowledge: ignorance (removed by śravaṇam, hearing the teaching), doubts about what is heard (removed by mananam, appropriate reasoning) and thirdly, habitual error (removed by nididhyāsanam, deep contemplation).
Subjective (mithyā) reality; personal, subjective view; mistaken notions; unknown fears; all forms of personal, subjective mental projections and interpretations of the world. See pāramārthika-satyam, vyāvahārika-satyam.
Reflection model. A model or teaching device presenting worldly phenomena as a reflected rather than conditioned form of consciousness, e.g. the intellect is said to be alive and shines due to its being a 'reflection' (not a condition) of consciousness. As an alternative, see avaccheda-vādaḥ – both models have their merits and flaws.
Reflected consciousness in the antaḥ-karaṇam; reflection is nothing but manifestation; see cidābhāsaḥ.
Promise; vow; affirmation; agreement; proposition; prosecution; declaration; statement.
A limbless form, niravayava mūrtiḥ, e.g. a śiva-liṅgam, a śālagrāmaḥ (a naturally formed small piece of sacred stone symbolising Lord Viṣṇuḥ); om, a sound-symbol for the Lord.
A form-symbol (with limbs) for the Lord; a personification; typically a life-like idol or statue, a murtiḥ.
Revealer-revealed connection. Between the śāstram and the knowledge that is mokṣaḥ, there is a revealer-revealed connection – śāstram alone reveals that knowledge.
Base or uninflected form of a word; the form a word takes prior to its having a declinable status.
Dealing with an adverse tendency in oneself by deliberately cultivating its opposite. Although this practice helps deal with rāga-dveṣas and their related emotions, for example, it is primarily intended to bring a more comprehensive or total perspective to situations, neutralising any limited or partial view.
Ascertainment; determination; knowledge; attainment.
Negation; elimination; prohibition; negation to eliminate or ward off or prevent error; negation of what is not true as a means to what is true. (To prepare the mind for what is true, it is usually necessary first to dismiss or negate what is untrue. What is true is then best revealed by implication, thus avoiding the literalness or grossness in thought that definition can bring.)
Prohibited or forbidden actions; actions that go against the specific prescription of dharmaḥ and accumulate pāpam, unwelcome results; also called niṣiddha-karma (restrained, checked, prevented action). See karma, kāmya-karma, nitya-karma, naimittika-karma, niṣiddha-karma, prāyaścitta-karma.
Established; rooted; installed; fixed; well-founded; thriving; (pratiṣṭhā, support).
Complete understanding or ascertainment; conviction; obviousness; clear perception; delight; clarity.
Recognition (of a fact).
Innermost self; reality obtaining as the svarūpam of 'I'.
Sensory perception; perception via hearing, seeing, tasting, etc.; one of the six pramāṇas (means of knowledge) – see the others: anumānam, anupalabdhiḥ, arthāpattiḥ, śabdaḥ, upamānam.
Knowledge (of objects) derived from direct sensory perception. See parokṣa-jñānam, aparokṣa-jñānam.
Limitation, error or fault, doṣaḥ, of omission, pratyavāyaḥ (of a duty); backsliding; neglect of duty. See doṣaḥ, vaiṣamya-nairghṛṇya-doṣaḥ and viṣaya-doṣaḥ.
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 meaning carried by the words. It is the intended meaning of 'that house'. In grammar, pratyayaḥ means 'suffix'.
Lecture; speech (talk); proclamation; exposition; explanation; eloquent speech; teaching; oral instruction.
Flow; stream; streaming forth; continuous train of thought; continuity; course or direction towards.
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.
Activity; employment; tendency; source; process; fate; application; practice; continuance; behaviour; participation in the world; full involvement in worldly life; usually entails giving primacy to preyas rather than śreyas – see nivṛttiḥ.
An expiatory karma, action – a specific ritual performed to neutralise the results of previous wrong action. See karma, kāmya-karma, nitya-karma, naimittika-karma, niṣiddha-karma, pratiṣiddha-karma.
Appropriate continued effort; perseverance; will; see saṅkalpaḥ.
Purpose; object; gain; benefit.
Love; kindness; tender regard (all too often, mere attachment, rāgaḥ, is mistaken for love).
Departed; dead.
When the jīvaḥ leaves the body at death it takes a preta-śarīram, a thought-form that is subtle, like the sūkṣma-śarīram. The departed jīvaḥ can be caught up there for a long time if the last rites are not done. The children therefore do the necessary prayers and rites to ensure the departed soul is released from the preta-śarīram and takes the next birth.
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 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, their predominant element is earth.
preyaḥ (preyas)
All relative, time-bound ends (arthaḥ, kāmaḥ, dharmaḥ) accomplishable through religious and secular activity; any desired result other than mokṣaḥ – see śreyaḥ (śreyas).
Love – love is not a verb, no one can 'do' love on demand. "Love is non–fault–finding accommodation."*
Dear; pleased; beloved; priyam (noun), a degree of happiness: the pleasure born of seeing something desired. See modaḥ, pramodaḥ.
Distinct; different.
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.
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.
Revered; venerable; worthy of being worshipped.
Again; once again.
Masculine gender; masculine; see strīliṅgam.
Action (karma) that is in line with dharmaḥ. It 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 of previously earned, unrelated pāpam. See pāpa-karma.
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. See pāpam, vāsanā, saṃskāraḥ, dharmaḥ.
Result of right or wrong action manifest (respectively) as happiness or sorrow arising from pleasant/favourable or unpleasant/unfavourable situations and experiences. See puṇyam, pāpam.
Town (brahma-puram is used figuratively to indicate Brahman's 'place' or 'abode').
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).
Purāṇaḥ means ātmā, implying its nature of being beginningless (the most ancient) but ever new and fresh.
Town; city; castle; fortress; sanctuary; body.
Full; whole; entire; complete; filled; pervaded. (pūrṇatvam, fullness – the nature of ātmā). See apūrṇatvam.
A priest who performs prayers or rituals, before, purā, in advance, for the (later) well-being, hitam, of all; a vaidikaḥ.
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.
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.
Human pursuit or goal; that which is sought by a human being, puruṣeṇa arthyate iti – see arthaḥ, kāmaḥ, dharmaḥ, mokṣaḥ.
Definiteness, complete clarity and certainty about one's ultimate, absolute end being mokṣaḥ, 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.
Most exalted (uttama) of all puruṣas, beings; a name for Īśvaraḥ.
Before; earlier; prior; foregoing; eastern.
One 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.
Health; wellness; strength; stamina; well-nourished condition.
Son; ('put' a particular hell, trāyate, protects; the one who protects parents from falling into put, Hell; same protection is also provided by a putrī, a daughter.)
(Binding) attachment and aversion (arising as the impulses of likes and dislikes). Since likes and dislikes (desires) originate from ahaṅkāraḥ – the erroneous and varying ideas of oneself – rāga-dveṣas are impurities that may hinder or prevent right action. Note that attachment and aversion are harmless and normal when expressions of preference or care. It's only when that preference or care becomes an emotional dependence or demand that it binds. See vairāgyam and karma-yogaḥ.
Attachment; passion; strong liking; dependence on the world for one's happiness; red colour; inflammation; See vairāgyam, dveṣaḥ, kleśaḥ.
A secret; mystery; concealed; private; privately.
Without; devoid of; separated from.
rajaḥ (rajas)
Guṇaḥ or force out of which desire, ambition, dislike, sin, etc. are born; it powers all forms of movement; also see sattvam (sattva), tamaḥ (tamas).
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. 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.
Ignorance of the rope is beginningless, for there was no knowledge of rope prior to 'snake' and no presence of 'snake' before being seen. The best that can be said is that the ignorance was there on seeing it (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 or on the rope, for the rope is unknown. All that is known is 'snake' (and fear). 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 what 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."* See avidyā, āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ and nyāyaḥ.
Demon; person who goes against dharmaḥ in pursuit of wealth, power, position, etc.; predominant guṇaḥ is rajas – see asuraḥ.
Vālmīkī's epic describing the adventures of Lord Rāmaḥ.
Sense-object, viṣayaḥ, perceptible through the tongue or mind and known as 'taste'; aesthetic sentiment; essence (either of a liquid or of reality); juice; content.
Seed; sperm; semen.
Disease; (bhāva-rogaḥ, disease of saṃsāraḥ).
Seer of truth; inspired sage; one who is eligible to have subtle facts revealed. Ṛṣati paśyati iti ṛṣiḥ, one who sees is called a ṛṣiḥ. He does not create the Vedaḥ mantras on their emergence from the unmanifest at the beginning of the Universe, he only sees the mantras that are already there.
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.
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.
Terrible; dreadful; horrible; formidable; crying; a kind of stringed instrument.
One who drives away sorrow (rutam drāvayati iti); name of Śivaḥ; a hymn addressed to Rudraḥ, deity of ahaṅkāraḥ.
Form; appearance; nature; a sense-object, viṣayaḥ, subtle or gross, perceptible through the eyes or mind and known as 'form, shape'.
A meditation, dhyānam, 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 śāstram may best be dwelt upon in meditation when their meaning is not only properly and fully understood but is so well-established that on hearing them it immediately flashes in the mind without a pause for translation. Dwelling on the meaning then becomes a means of absorption, samādhiḥ, in the self as the words are about myself. There arises absorption in the very consciousness that illumines the meaning. See dṛśya-anuviddha-savikalpa-samādhiḥ and also samādhiḥ, savikalpa-samādhiḥ and nirvikalpa-samādhiḥ.
Sound; word (a meaningful sound); a sense-object (viṣayaḥ), subtle or gross, perceptible through the ears and mind and known as 'sound'.
Word, 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.
Note that 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.
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.
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
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.
A disciplined aspirant.
The group of four qualifications needed for ātmajñānam or mokṣaḥ.
Vedāntaḥ is a pramāṇam for self-knowledge only when the student is sufficiently qualified. 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.
Means of attainment (means for accomplishing a goal); the principal means for the attainment of liberation from sorrow are śravaṇam, mananam, nididhyāsanam on 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.
Universal; common to all; general.
Sameness of nature.
A good person; a person of values; noble; a pious, highly disciplined, virtuous aspirant; a renunciate; a sannyāsī.
Goal to be accomplished.
The six indications by which the true tātparyam, purport, of a text may be established:
upakrama-upasaṃhāraḥ, beginning and end (consistency of)
arthavādaḥ, explanation (of meaning)
abhyāsaḥ, repetition (of same idea elsewhere)
upapattiḥ, proof (as established by reasoning)
apūrvatā, uniqueness (not knowable by other means)
phalam, result (whether one will accrue or not).
With qualities; having attributes.
Brahman regarded as having qualities; a synonym for Īśvaraḥ; Īśvaraḥ as the jagat-kāraṇam, cause of all that is evident; Īśvaraḥ manifest as the entire cosmos; also see nirguṇa-brahma.
Meditation on saguṇa-brahma in which there is necessarily a meditator-meditated difference – see upāsanam, nirguṇa-brahma-upāsanam.
Natural; inborn; innate (lit. born along with).
Thousand (often used to indicate innumerability).
(Beings) of the same species.
Branch, clan or tradition passing down a Vedic text of the same name over generations.
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.
Evidently; visibly; (immediately, without a means of knowledge.)
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."*
Witness; seer; consciousness (i.e. ātmā) in the role of the changeless, passive witness of the changing states of mind (and hence, it is not any aspect of the mind); the ever-present knower/experiencer in every experience, which is not (and never can be) experienced; 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.
"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 nature.
Attachment, in general; 'stickiness'; longing; sense of ownership; also see asaktiḥ.
Power; capacity; faculty; skill; (śaktimān, power-possessor).
Different objects can belong to the same group if they share characteristics, e.g. chairs, tables, sofas, although different from each other are all classed as furniture.
Equanimity; sameness of mind in the gain of the desirable and the undesirable; capacity to retain composure.
Focused intent; being always conscious of the goal of liberation from sorrow, thereby being focussed without being distracted; see ṣaṭka-sampattiḥ – also see śamaḥ, damaḥ, uparamaḥ, titikṣā, śraddhā.
Absorption. Being a highly refined state, samādhiḥ is unlikely to occur in a mind that is beset by unhealthy choices, emotional difficulties, strong attachments and aversions, 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.
No matter the experience in samādhiḥ, the consciousness by which 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'. See savikalpa-samādhiḥ, nirvikalpa-samādhiḥ.
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.
Mentioned together; a collection or compilation of sacred texts.
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 existence of 'I' and the 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 Devadatta associated with the past, and the word 'this' signifying Devadatta associated with the present, 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, i.e. 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 bādhāyām 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.
The aspect of prāṇaḥ that aids digestion; also see apānaḥ, elimination; vyānaḥ, circulation; udānaḥ, upward breath.
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.
Common to all; universal; general.
Universal ethics, universal values applicable to all and sundry regardless of time, religion, gender, age, race, country, social status, etc. For example, non-hurting or harmlessness is an ethical and moral value applicable to all, at all times and in all situations. Sāmānya-dharmaḥ is also known as sādhāraṇa-dharmaḥ. See viśeṣa-dharmaḥ and dharmaḥ.
Consciousness or knowledge of that which is ever the same; synonym of śuddha-caitanyam.
The one existence (sattā) that is common to all beings, objects and phenomena. That very existence (a synonym of vyāvahārika-satyam) is lent by the mere presence of Brahman.
Universal; macrocosm; macrocosmic being; total. See vyaṣṭiḥ.
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 brings 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. This totality of view, characterised by an untroubled evenness of mind, is yogaḥ. See Gītā 2.48 and also karma-yogaḥ and īśvara-prasāda-buddhiḥ.
Connection; association; relationship.
Withdrawal (of the univese) i.e. the manifest becomes unmanifest; resolution; dissolution.
A methodically arranged collection of texts or verses.
Firewood; fuel; log of wood; oblation (samidhā) to the kindled (samiddha) fire, which is the consumer of the fuel; igniting; flaming; burning.
A seeker of brahma-vidyā who, carrying a small bundle of twigs (samidh) of the pippalaḥ, or Peepul, 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.
See sannyāsaḥ.
Prosperity; good fortune; accomplishment; fulfilment; success.
Teaching tradition; established teachings and method of teaching (including the knowledge of how to handle the words of the teaching); careful, distortion-free transference of knowledge 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.
One who thoroughly knows the teaching tradition, having learnt it from his/her guruḥ.
Transmigratory life; the endless cycle of becoming, of repeated births and deaths. It is often characterised as a treacherous ocean the jīvaḥ is struggling to cross. It is defined as śrarīrādi-upādānam eva lakṣaṇam yasya saḥ saṃsāraḥ – "saṃsāraḥ 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' (actions and their consequences, and the various worldly contexts in which they are experienced, life after life). Freedom from saṃsāraḥ is only in recognising and fully ascertaining one's identity with (as) Brahman.
One subject to saṃsāraḥ. See jīvaḥ, buddhiḥ.
Doubt; indecision.
Impression on the mind; disposition; degree of refinement of a person in terms of accumulation of better or worse vāsanās.
The word saṃskāraḥ, 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 'saṃskāraḥ ritual', is not expressive enough to convey all that needs to be conveyed. Saṃskāraḥ, refinement; saṃskṛtiḥ, culture; and saṃskāryam, refinable, are all different grammatical forms of the same word.
Well formed; well done; refined; the Sanskrit language – a highly expressive language having a highly refined and exalted culture established within it.
Culture; refinement via action, which is one of the four possible results of karma, action. The other results of action are: utpattiḥ (utpādyam), production; vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam), modification; āptiḥ (āpyam), attainment.
Saṃskāraḥ, refinement; saṃskṛtiḥ, culture; and saṃskāryam, refinable, are all different grammatical forms of the same word.
Refuge; resting place; support.
Contentment; satisfaction; happiness. Also known as saṃtuṣṭiḥ.
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.
Knowledge; understanding.
A 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.
Only transactional; a term referring to the status of worldly experience, in effect saying it is mithyā.
Proper, correct understanding of what the scriptures say. Such understanding is the result of śravanam, mananam and nididhyāsanam.
Clearly; accurately; correctly; properly.
One who has self-mastery; a wise person.
Softly; gently; quietly (śanaiḥ śanaiḥ, slowly).
Eternal; permanent; ancient.
sanātana dharmaḥ
Eternal law; eternal values; eternal religion; the beginningless order that is Īśvaraḥ; the proper and correct name for Hinduism (a geographically-derived term coined by those who knew no better).
Unmanifest, unexpired aggregate of karma. When ripe it will manifest as prārabdha-karma. Sañcita is also the store for the āgāmi being produced now, in this life (which, when ripe, will manifest as prārabdha-karma); see āgāmi-karma, prārabdha-karma.
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.
Attachment due to close contact; association; community; company; friendship.
Assemblage; close union or combination; collection; cluster; aggregate; compressed together.
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 is, therefore, not a 'power' in the usual understanding of that word, it is knowledge, knowledge in the form of a decision (that may later prove correct or incorrect) that 'this' has value, 'this' is worth having or doing. It is such convictions (strong or weak, firm or wavering) that are the essence of will and which sentence a person to the outcome. Will-power is improved by improving the clarity of one's thinking.
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, and that notion of value turns the thought into a desire. The perceived sense of value then impels the desire, driving it to its fulfilment. Depending on the nature of the desire – and the will, the judgement, behind it – that drive to fulfilment can power the desire for a fraction of a second or, perhaps, for decades.
(If your understanding of īśvara-arpaṇa-buddhiḥ does not reveal the true meaning of free-will, you have not understood either of them.)
Mixture; mixing together that which should be kept apart, thus creating confusion.
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 and 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.
His vision is succinctly summarised in this famous quotation from verse 20 of his brahmajñānāvalīmālā "Brahma satyaṃ jaganmithyā jīvo brahmaiva nāparaḥ." Brahman is real, the Universe relatively so. The jīva and brahman are not different.
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. See other dualist opponents of Vedāntaḥ – mīmāṃsā, cārvākaḥ and naiyāyika).
Renunciation; a life in which all worldly ties are renounced in a focussed pursuit of ātma-jñānam alone. A sannyāsī (saṃnyāsī) 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, seriously wants to know the truth – he/she 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.
Fourth of the four āśramas of Vedic (vaidika) life – brahmacaryam, studentship; gṛhasthaḥ, householder; vānaprasthaḥ, withdrawal; sannyāsaḥ, renunciation.
A renunciate (female: sannyāsinī); one who has taken the vows of sannyāsaḥ.
See saṃsāraḥ.
See saṃskāraḥ.
See saṃskṛtam.
Peace; calmness; cessation; elimination (of evil); synonym of the mental discipline, śamaḥ.
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, neutralising hidden variables arising from three possible sources: ādhibhautika-tāpaḥ, ādhidaivika-tāpaḥ, ādhyātmika-tāpaḥ.
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.
asaṃsaktiḥ – 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.
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 live a life of values.
Refuge; protection; place of shelter.
Goddess of knowledge and music; wife of Brahmā.
Body; prone to disintegration and decay; see sthula-śarīram, sūkṣma-śarīram, kāraṇa-śarīram; synonym of dehaḥ, kāyaḥ.
Method of analysis through which ātmā is recognised to be distinct from and independependent of the three bodies (gross, subtle and causal); see prakriyā.
Of the same nature as...; similar; resembling.
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), i.e. 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 in sequence, 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.
(He who is) all-powerful; a name of Īśvaraḥ.
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.
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 that is here. 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.
Sacred body of knowledge for growing towards one's full stature; includes both śrutiḥ and smṛtiḥ, but the former is chiefly meant.
Pure existence, which is of the nature of limitlessness; absolute truth; non-dependent existence; that which is the very existence itself of all three periods of time (past, present and future); that which cannot be negated. See asat, tuccham, satyam, mithyā.
Consisting of six, aggregate of six (not six-fold) as in ṣaṭka-sampattiḥ, six accomplishments.
A Sāṅkhyam vādaḥ, a Sāṅkhyam view or contention, 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. Therefore, there is no such thing as creation, only manifestation from a prior, unmanifest (potential) state. Only what is potentially present can manifest. Energy (matter) is neither created nor destroyed, only converted from one form into another. See upādāna-kāraṇam, pariṇāmaḥ, vivartaḥ and also nimitta-kāraṇam.
A group of six accomplishments (also known as śamādi-ṣaṭka-sampattiḥ, a group of six accomplishments beginning with śamaḥ), which form part of sādhana-catuṣṭayam. The six are: śamaḥ, damaḥ, uparamaḥ, titikṣā, śraddhā, samādhānam.
Company (saṅgaḥ) of the wise, of truth (sat); good association; association with śāstram; association with those who know and live the śāstram.
Existence; being; reality.
sattvam (sattva)
Guṇaḥ signifying purity, knowledge, truth, intelligence, inception; mind; also see rajaḥ (rajas), tamaḥ (tamas).
Reality; that which exists in all three periods of time – therefore causeless, beginningless, endless, independent, true, non-negatable; free from the limitations of time, space and object; the changeless substratum upon which change takes place (and without which change would not be perceivable).
Only ever speaking the non-hurtful truth, devoid of untruth, is the discipline of satyam in speech.
Satyam is also a name of the highest of the seven heavens (see svargaḥ).
Also see sat, asat, mithyā, tuccham.
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, but are each independently expressing one thing – that Brahman is limitless reality, limitless being, pure consciousness – while simultaneously negating what Brahman might be thought to be.
Satyam means Brahman is pure existence, sat, existence itself, reality itself, not a form or kind of existence (such as existence in the form of a chair or in the form of an idea).
Jñānam is saying that Brahman is pure knowledge, jñaptiḥ, knowledge itself, not an aspect of knowledge (such as the knower, the object known, or a specific form of knowledge) 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.
All three words are another way of saying saccidānandaḥ. See mahāvākyam.
Good fortune; happiness; prosperity; loveliness; popularity – all that is needed for a fulfilling life, especially wisdom.
Cleanness, both inner and outer; purity of mind; cleanliness.
Incomplete; unfinished; having a remainder.
Composed of parts; having parts; (whatever has a beginning falls within the category of being sāvayava).
Being endowed with a variety of divisions or distinctions, e.g. knower, known, knowledge; being differentiated; being doubtful.
This samādhiḥ (also known as samprajñāta-samādhiḥ or sabīja-samādhiḥ) is a culmination of meditation, dhyānam, in which there remains a distinction between meditator and meditated, with all other thoughts resolved. 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 and nirvikalpa-samādhiḥ.
Remainder; balance; surplus; residue.
Service; homage; worship. Sevā becomes yajñaḥ when done with humility and devotion.
Accomplished; established; gained (siddhiḥ, accomplishment; achievement).
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.
Science of phonetics, of proper articulation and pronunciation of varṇas, the sounds of letters in Vedic (vaidika) texts; teaching, instruction; one of the six auxiliary sciences, Vedāṅgas, of the Vedas – also see chandas, vyākaraṇam, niruktam, jyotiṣaḥ, kalpaḥ.
'By the backward glance of a lion.' According to the rule of the lion's look, i.e. a maxim recommending reviewing what has been said before in order to see the connection with what is said later when studying a text.
Student; disciple; a self-disciplined student who, due to having praśāntacitta and śamānvita, deserves the teaching; 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 unfold the śāstram – see guru-śiṣya-paramparā, sampradāyaḥ, praśāntacitta, śamānvita.
Auspicious; pure; propitious; Īśvaraḥ as the resolver of the Universe; see Brahmā, Viṣṇuḥ.
Verse; praise; glory; hymn of praise; maxim; fame; voice; name of a particular epic metre.
Recollecting; remembering.
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, e.g. Bhagavad-Gītā, purāṇas, manu-smṛtiḥ; see pauruṣeya-śāstram.
Attachment; fondness; affection; friendship; emotional entanglement; 'stickiness'; oil.
Beautiful; excellent; splendid; virtuous.
Over-valuing someone or something by superimposing a notion of greater beauty, excellence, virtue, etc. than is deserved, e.g. mistaking a sea shell's colouring for silver or thinking 'the world gives me happiness'; see adhyāsaḥ and aśobhana-adhyāsaḥ.
Sorrow; anguish; grief; affliction; pain; see duḥkham.
With upādhiḥ.
This is a form of adhyāsaḥ, erroneous perception, in which one fact is naturally mistaken for another, e.g. sunrise and sunset, blue sky, a bent rod in a glass of 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 than other parts, and the fact of a rod appearing bent in water is mistaken for the fact that light slows (refracts) in water. 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. It is also due to sopādhika-adhyāsaḥ that the body of the guruḥ is seen by disciples to persist after mokṣaḥ. See nirupādhikādhyāsaḥ, upādhiḥ and adhyāsaḥ.
Touch; the sense-object (viṣayaḥ), subtle or gross, perceptible through the skin or mind and known as 'touch'.
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 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 forms of fire, Brahman, their intrinsic nature being not different from fire even though their forms differ.
Evident; self-evident; shining forth.
Acceptance by firm judgement as true what the guruḥ and śāstram instruct; unflinching faith in the śāstram and in the words of the guruḥ.
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. It allows us to stand apart from our own ideas and, for now at least, give the benefit of the doubt to the text and the teacher rather than to our own views – acceptance pending verification is an aspect of śraddhā. And if what is taught seems incorrect, having śraddhā means I do not reject it but question my understanding until what is being taught is clear.
With further knowledge, that acceptance takes the deeper form of a clear, carefully reached understanding or conviction, avadhāraṇā. Definite acceptance of what the guruḥ and śāstram teach is a more mature śraddhā, it is a knowledge that is far away from blind faith or unthinking belief. Only from such śraddhā arises sufficient objectivity to see the mind dispassionately enough to resolve what needs to be resolved. Then the challenge: 'Why believe when you can know?' can be meaningful.
Ancestor worship; a specific ritual performed on a specific day of a specific fortnight (death anniversary of one's parents, grandparents).
Hearing. Hearing, for a length of time, the 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 actively listening, fully focusing one's attention, without distortion or addition. Distortion means either changing what 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 what is said. Without proper accuracy, little will be properly understood.
Śravaṇam, hearing, is a pratyakṣa-pramāṇam, which in common with all other means of knowledge, facilitates it; it does not create knowledge (which is impossible since knowledge, being ever-present, may only ever be revealed or uncovered). Knowledge is determined by what is heard, seen, etc., meaning, it’s determined by the nature of what 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 (opening the eyes, for example). Self-knowledge too is not the result of the hearer's action; it occurs naturally and effortlessly when certain words arrive at the ear. See mananam, nididhyāsanam, sākṣātkāraḥ.
śreyaḥ (śreyas)
Highest or absolute good; that which is desirable for all people of all times and places, namely freedom from unhappiness, the knowledge that is mokṣaḥ – see preyaḥ (preyas).
Lakṣmī, goddess of wealth; wife (śaktiḥ) of Viṣṇuḥ; beauty; all forms of wealth, including virtues, health, progeny, food, etc. See bhagaḥ.
Illustrious; eminent; glorious; venerable.
One who has wide knowledge and profound understanding of the scriptures through carefully hearing, for a length of time, a competent teacher properly and systematically unfold the words of the vedānta-śāstram; one well versed in the śāstram and able to communicate their riches effectively; also see brahma-niṣṭhā.
Manifestation; creation; nature; production; the manifest Universe.
Nothing is ever created or destroyed: the Universe and all that is here is an expansion or manifestation as names and forms, one that does not happen outside of Brahman. In time it becomes unmanifest in Brahman and again becomes manifest in an endless cycle. 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.
This 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.
Method of arriving at ātmā, the true self, by analysing that which is here to reveal its source, the ultimate reality that is consciousness; see prakriyā.
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 through careful listening by the teacher-student lineage (karṇa-paramparā).
Pillar; post; column.
Any text consisting of words of praise – especially praise of the Lord, of Īśvaraḥ; synonym of stotram.
Steadfastness; constancy; perseverance; steadiness; firmness; calmness.
Place; abode; rank; altar.
Firm; motionless; unmoving; stump of a tree.
A maxim encouraging making one's knowledge as unshakeable as a well-buried (well-fixed) post that is able to withstand any amount of shaking (by opposing notions). See nyāyaḥ.
Illustration of a stump of a tree being mistaken for a person. See nyāyaḥ.
Steady; abiding; ascertained.
Wise person with doubt-free, ascertained vision; steady-minded; firm; unmoved; calm.
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.
Gross; physical – also see sūkṣma, kāraṇam.
A maxim (nyāyaḥ) encouraging the leading of the mind from a gross 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 of all, Arundhatī itself, is seen. See nyāyaḥ.
Gross body; physical body; abode of enjoyment; locus of all subtle (imperceptible) instruments of knowledge and action; also see sūkṣma-śarīram, kāraṇa-śarīram.
Hymn of praise; see stavaḥ, stutiḥ.
Feminine gender; feminine; see puṃliṅgam.
Praise; adulation; eulogy; commendation; tribute.
Auspicious; good; virtuous.
Pure; clean; faultless; error-free.
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. Also known as sāmānya-jñānam. See jñaptiḥ and viśeṣa-jñānam.
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.
Pleasure; happiness. Pleasure is an experience of a time-bound fraction of manifest fullness. Happiness is an expression of the manifestation of fullness – fullness being the very nature of timeless reality.
White; bright.
Well-made; well-done.
Subtle; fine; penetrating; also see sthūla, kāraṇam.
Subtle body. 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.
The sūkṣma-śarīram is a composite of five karmendriyas, five jñānendriyas, five prāṇas, and the antaḥ-karaṇam whose chief aspects are buddhiḥ, cittam, manaḥ, ahaṅkāraḥ – also see sthūla-śarīram, kāraṇa-śarīram, indriyam.
Shell of a pearl oyster, the inside of which is so reflective it can be mistaken for silver, rajata; often used as an example of superimposition, adhyāropaḥ.
Easily obtainable; feasible.
Beautiful; lovely.
Fully ascertained, definite, fixed, settled (conclusion). An adjective used to describe the certainty of the knowledge enjoyed by the wise.
Void; empty. There is no possibility of śūnya existing since for it to be known would require the presence of a vṛttiḥ.
The Sun; devatā of sight.
Desire to hear the śāstram being unfolded by the teacher; service to the teacher.
Easy; effortless; pleasurable.
suṣumnā nāḍī
This well known subtle nerve or vessel runs upwards within the body between and along with two other vessels, the iḍā on its left (terminating at the left nostril) and the piṅgalā on its right (terminating at the right nostril). The suṣumnā runs from the mūlādhāra-cakram, situated within the perineum (the space between the genitals and anus at the apex of the legs), to the sahasrāra-cakram at the crown of the head. The suṣumnā acts as a channel for the rise of the kuṇḍalinī that in its quiescent state lies coiled at the mūlādhāra-cakram.
To burst through the sahasrāra-cakram is to enter brahma-lokaḥ and be one with Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ. In Vedāntaḥ this is attained by living in the recognition that all minds are aspects of Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, the totality of all subtle phenomena. (Taittir. Śikṣā Vallī, Anuvāka 6).
Deep-sleep state of the mind; experience of the absence of the experience of 'I'. The intellect, mind and senses resume an unmanifest potential condition in the causal body (kāraṇa-śarīram) in which individuality, with all its problems and limitations, is given up while the individual remains – and then absence of experience is experienced 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 identifications of the mind. Being unqualified, being without attributes, it is not recognised and is assumed to be not there.
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 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 hence jāgrad-avasthā.
Vṛttis not being manifest during deep sleep is known, and the knower or experiencer of that absence is the sāksî alone, not any form of ahaṅkāraḥ. There are two vṛttis in the deep-sleep state: ajñāna-vṛttiḥ and sukha-vṛttiḥ – experience of total ignorance and bliss respectively (bliss being the total absence of pain and pleasure).
The sākṣī common to all three mutually exclusive states, including deep sleep, is none other than formless pure consciousness. See jāgrad-avasthā, waking state, svapna-avasthā, dream state, turīya, 'fourth'; avasthā-trayam, the three states of experience.
Deep, disturbance-free, sound sleep.
A term for an aphoristic statement that gives the teaching in a nutshell.
Verse; thread; an aphorism with minimum words and maximum sense; a cryptic statement pregnant with meaning.
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 (all ātmās) lending life to all.
One's own nature; expression of one's nature based on one's inclinations and saṃskāraḥ; acquired, earned, non-intrinsic nature, i.e. the nature fashioned and revealed by attitudes, habits and behaviour; see svarūpam.
One's own duty. Duty is what is due to be done, what needs to be done. Only by doing just your duty, may you be protected from acting inappropriately and incurring pāpam. Recognising what is and isn't my duty is recognising viśeṣa-dharmaḥ.
Śāstram study under the care of a competent ācāryaḥ; the study of a branch of one's own Vedaḥ.
svaḥ (suvaḥ)
Abode of the gods and the blessed; the vault of Heaven; region of the planets; fifth lowest of the seven heavens; third of the three vyāhṛtis that are the origin and essence of the gāyatrī-mantraḥ – also see bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ, lokaḥ.
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).
Dream state of the mind; a projection associated exclusively with the subtle body, sūkṣma-śarīram; the dream world of subtle phenomena experienced in the mind as a reality separate from the reality of the waking state, jāgrad-avasthā.
The dream world arises from impressions, vāsanās, gained in the waking state, that are sometimes presented symbolically in dreams. In the dream state the mind sets up its own sthūla and sūkṣma-śarīras with its own senses, created by the jīvaḥ and not by Īśvaraḥ as in the waking state.
Ahaṅkāraḥ is only half-manifest in dream. There is no free-will or doership there – they occur only in the waking state – but there is enjoyership. Neither is any result carried over into the waking state: no puṇya-pāpam accrues in dream. So-called day-dreaming is merely imagination in which there is no separation from the waking-state experience. See jāgrad-avasthā, waking state; suṣupti-avasthā, deep-sleep state; turīya, 'fourth'; avasthā-trayam, the three (mutually exclusive) states of experience.
A vowel; a chanting accent – see vyañjanam, and also udāttaḥ, anudāttaḥ, svaritaḥ.
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.
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.
A high or raised tone in chanting, shown in the text by a short vertical line above the vowel. Sometimes two short svaritaḥ notations appear side-by-side above the vowel. They indicate that the 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.
A definition that unfolds, by implication, the essential intrinsic nature of something, e.g. a definition of absolute reality in which its intrinsic nature is directly revealed through implication; see taṭastha-lakṣaṇam, lakṣaṇā, jahadajahallakṣaṇā, upalakṣaṇā.
Intrinsic, essential nature; that which is inherent, natural, not incidental nor acquired, but innate for the object or person; one's own essential nature, saccidānandaḥ. See svabhāvaḥ.
Su-asti, well-being; su-asti-ka, conducive to well-being; svastika, that which confers a blessing, auspiciousness, prosperity, good fortune. An auspicious symbol foully misappropriated by rākṣasas in the 20th century.
Meditation on (continuously dwelling upon) one's own true nature; synonym of nididhyāsanam.
By oneself; by itself. (svataḥ siddham, self-evident).
Independent; free; self-dependent.
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.
Other than oneself.
On its own; by oneself; spontaneously; effortlessly. Svayam-jyotiḥ, self-effulgent.
Self-existent; self-manifested; self-born
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 unnoticed due to prevailing thoughts, feelings and perceptions taking centre stage).
Identification; forgetting one's true nature and becoming something one is not.
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 seemingly undergoes the experience of dream (in which free-will cannot occur). The universal or samaṣṭiḥ equivalent is Hiraṇyagarbaḥ – also see prājñaḥ, viśvaḥ.
tamaḥ (tamas)
Guṇaḥ signifying inertia, lethargy, delusion, habitual scepticism, day-dreaming, cessation. In tamas, sattva and rajas remain 'overpowered' (as good as resolved or unmanifest). When tamas dominates in the mind it produces neither merit nor demerit, it wastes life. Also see sattvam (sattva), rajaḥ (rajas).
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 rajaḥ aspects give rise to the five karmendriyas (and, in combination, to the five prāṇas). The tamaḥ aspects of the five tanmātras give rise, through the process of pañcīkaraṇam, to the five gross elements.
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).
A form or manifestation (as in 'in the form of').
Heat; affliction or mental agony which scorches like heat, causing pain; affliction; difficulty. Also see ādhyātmika-tāpaḥ, ādhibhautika-tāpaḥ, ādhidaivika-tāpaḥ.
tapaḥ (tapas)
Purificatory penance or austerity; heat; enquiry; knowledge. "Committed, relevant action in line with dharmaḥ."*
Ascetic; one who is committed to relevant action in line with dharmaḥ.
Wave (of water).
Reasoning; conjecture; logic.
tat (tad)
An entity definition that makes use of something distinct from and merely incidental to that entity's intrinsic nature, but by which it is known, e.g. a definition of Brahman wherein it is presented as the only source of the manifestation, sustenance and resolution of the Universe; see svarūpa-lakṣaṇam, lakṣaṇā, jahallakṣaṇā, ajahallakṣaṇā, jahadajahallakṣaṇā, upalakṣaṇā.
Purport; meaning; intention.
Knowledge of the truth; synonym of brahma-jñānam and ātma-jñānam.
Keeping in view the aim and purpose of the knowledge of truth, of self-knowledge, namely freedom from sorrow.
Truth; reality; existence or truth of everything (tasya bhāvaḥ), of every object, indicated by the pronoun tat, 'that'; element; essence.
'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' points both to 'you' the ordinary individual and to your svarūpam, consciousness. The word 'asi' means 'are'.
In brief, the mahāvākyam is saying 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 to be the bound, ignorant, indvidual waker or dreamer. However, by exressing the equation in this way, you, the individual are being shown that you are not what you take yourself to be, you are in truth limitless, ever-free, pure knowledge. See mahāvākyam and also see ahaṃ brahmāsmi, ayamātmā brahma, prajñānaṃ brahma.
Knower of the truth; an ātmajñānī.
tejaḥ (tejas)
Brightness, lustre of countenance; light; brilliance; fire; the Fire element.
Explanatory notes on a commentary, bhaṣyam. These notes 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. See vārtikam.
Purifier; pilgrimage site; holy place; water sanctified with mantras.
Horizontal, horizontally (a descriptive term for creatures that grow horizontally, i.e. animals).
(To) stay, abide.
Date; lunar date.
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.
Intense; strong; ardent; acute; keen; sharp.
A person with an intense desire for freedom.
Those who have studied all three Vedas and gained a thorough knowledge of karma-kāṇḍaḥ.
Three-fold; a triad.
Three-fold difference – knower, knowledge, known; seer, sight, seen; experiencer, experience, experienced, etc.
Name of a Vedic metre of 44 syllables (four quarters of eleven syllables each); name of a hymn composed in this metre; frequently used in the Ṛgvedaḥ and occasionally used in the Bhagavad-Gītā. See gāyatrī, anuṣṭup.
Satisfaction; contentment. The jñānī is ever satisfied, ever content, as happiness and fulfilment, being his own svarūpam, are not dependent on experiences and puṇyam, but are ever-present in all circumstances. In this way, all desires are as good as satisfied, for the happiness they aim at is already his.
Thirst; strong desire; lust; avidity; greed; also see pipāsā.
Non-existent; unreal; never can exist, e.g. son of a barren woman, a square circle; see sat, asat, satyam, mithyā.
Secondary ignorance; ignorance of worldly matters such as French or physics or a street name; see mūlāvidyā.
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).
Turīyam (noun) is not really 'the fourth', it is pure, divisionless, objectless consciousness, independent of all three mithyā states of waking, dream and sleep – and yet all three, belonging (as they do) to a lower order of reality, are not independent of it, for it is their unchangeable substratum. To talk of gold, ring, chain and bangle is to talk of gold, for that is what is really, independently present as the substratum of the other three.
Being unqualifiable, being indivisible, turīyam is not experienceable in any subject-object sense of 'experience'. It is knowable by recognition of it being the truth of oneself. Repeated dwelling on this recognition is nididhyāsanam. See ekātma-pratyaya-sāram.
The word 'fourth' has no numerical significance. There is no fourth state of experience. Also see jāgrad-avasthā, waking state; svapna-avasthā, dream state; suṣupti-avasthā, deep-sleep state; avasthā-trayam, the three states of experience.
Pleased; contented.
Skin; subtle power of touch (invisible in skin).
You (second-person-singular pronoun).
Sacrifice; dedication; leaving; abandoning; forsaking; giving up.
Upward breath; an aspect of prāṇaḥ that reverses a process; vomiting; hiccups; coughing; sneezing. It is the final outward breath by which the jīvaḥ exits the body on death having completed the combined number of inward and outward breaths allotted by prārabdhaḥ (to which prāṇaḥ is directly connected) after which there can be no more breathing in. Also see apānaḥ, elimination; samānaḥ, digestion; vyānaḥ, circulation.
One who does not take sides; indifferent; neutral; neither friend nor foe; unprotesting.
Neutral; a chanting tone that has neither a high nor a low pitch (no line appears above or below the vowel in the text); also see svaraḥ, svaritaḥ, anudāttaḥ.
Om; praṇavaḥ; sung; announced; celebrated; a sonorous prayer, prescribed in the Sāmavedaḥ to be sung aloud.
Wife of Śivaḥ, also known as Pārvatī; the constituent phonetic elements of om (a-u-m) put in a different order; power in three conditions: gross, subtle, unmanifest.
Figurative; a figure of speech; honouring.
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, e.g. churned butter becoming ghee, water becoming ice (or vice-versa).
Vivarta-upādāna-kāraṇam, a material cause in which the causal material undergoes no change when producing an effect, e.g. water as the cause of a wave, 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.
Material – that which lends support to the effect, remaining inseparable from it, e.g. clay re pot.
Teaching; instruction. The teaching corrects misconceptions about what is real. To do so it communicates in two principal ways: by implication, lakṣaṇa-vṛttiḥ, and by negation, niṣedha-vṛttiḥ. Implication reveals the nature of oneself, which cannot be pointed to (as worldly objects can), and negation dismisses erroneous ideas about oneself, the world and God.
"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."*
That which seemingly transfers its attribute(s) to a nearby recipient, an upahitam. (The translation 'limiting adjunct' is poor and misleading as the limitation produced by the upādhiḥ is only apparent – 'manifesting medium' would be better.)
If a blue flower, for example, is brought close to a colourless lump of clear crystal, the crystal (the upahitam) appears blue. From having no colour, the crystal apparently has the attribute 'blue' – the blue flower has become a manifesting medium for blueness. The crystal is never blue (and limited only to blue) and yet, undeniably, for a time it appears so.
The upādhiḥ in this example is the flower, not its blueness. 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 upahitam and anyonyādhyāsaḥ.
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.
Observation; perception; becoming aware of; understanding. Upalabdhi-sthānam a place of recognition.
Implication of something that has not or cannot be expressed, e.g. use of a large number to express innumerability or non-countability; metaphor; feature; characteristics; see lakṣaṇā; also see jahallakṣaṇā, ajahallakṣaṇā, jahadajahallakṣaṇā, svarūpalakṣaṇam, taṭasthalakṣaṇam.
Knowledge arising from comparison and similarity, e.g. on handling a shirt similar to another seen earlier, the earlier remembered shirt is known to be similar to the present one, and vice-versa. One of the six pramāṇas – see the others: anumānam, anupalabdhiḥ, arthāpattiḥ, pratyakṣam, śabdaḥ.
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 saṃskāryas or rituals performed for the mental refinement of the individual. Only after the performance of this upanayana-saṃskāryaḥ is the child eligible to learn and chant the Gāyatrī-Mantraḥ and also eligible for scriptural study.
Forms the jñāna-kāṇḍaḥ, knowledge section at the end (antaḥ) of each Vedaḥ and so is known as Vedāntaḥ, the ultimate and final end and fulfilment of all the Vedas.
The word Upaniṣad means brahma-vidyā. It is derived from the dhātuḥ or verbal root, 'sad', meaning 'to disintegrate, to destroy, to reach', which is saying an Upaniṣad will destroy ignorance and thus allow the seeker to reach the truth. 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 well-ascertained knowledge. 'Upa' and 'ni' together refer to brahma-vidyā, knowledge of ātmā being Brahman.
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.
Tenability; proof; ascertained conclusion; reason; substantiation; logical support provided by commentators demonstrating the absence of supposed or apparent loopholes in scriptural statements.
A calm, steady, quiet mind that, due to being disciplined through śamaḥ and damaḥ, no longer turns habitually or mechanically to outer sensory involvement. The thoughts, feelings and impulses that would previously distract one from staying with what 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.
Meditator (one who dwells upon the Lord, upon Īśvaraḥ); contemplator (one who dwells upon one's own real nature).
Summing up; conclusion.
Meditating or dwelling upon in homage or worship, or in the seeking of knowledge of one's own self. When used as a preparatory means for self-knowledge, upāsanam is practised to develop sufficient subtlety of mind to hear the teaching properly. Then, during śravanam, the teaching is understood.
"To see everything as Bhagavān is upāsanam or dhyānam. To see everything is Bhagavān is jñānam."*
Upāsanam takes two principal forms: saguṇa-brahma-upāsanam in which meditation is upon saguṇa-brahma (Brahman with attributes), and nirguṇa-brahma-upāsanam in which meditation is upon nirguṇa-brahma (Brahman without attributes) which is one's real nature.
Yad bhāvaḥ tad bhavati – One becomes what one meditates upon.
Means; method; remedy; plan; upāyaḥ covers both primary and secondary means, it covers everything necessary. See upeya.
Disregard; indifference; abandonment.
Having attainability; capable of being attained.
Spider – an example of an entity being both the material cause, upādāna-kāraṇam, and efficient cause, nimitta-kāraṇam, in this case of its web; ūrṇam (thread), nābhiḥ (stomach), 'one who has thread in the stomach'.
'Proceeding up'; passing away; dying; departure of the soul from the body.
Exalted; superior; eminent.
Production, (utpādyam) – one of the four possible results of karma, action – also see vikṛtiḥ (vikāryam), modification; āptiḥ (āpyam), attainment; saṃskṛtiḥ (saṃskāryam), refinement.
Festival; celebration; ceremony.
Highest; best.
Later; following; subsequent; northern.
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 focussed attention. See mānasam karma, kāyikam karma.
Literal (primary or direct) meaning of word(s), the common, everyday meaning; see mukhyārthaḥ, gauṇa-vṛttiḥ, lakṣyārthaḥ.
Speech; discourse; statement; thesis; proposition; doctrine; discussion; 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; also see samvādaḥ, jalpa-vādaḥ, vitaṇḍa-vādaḥ.
Vedic; an entity or person (vaidikaḥ) dedicated to, or related to, or of the Vedaḥ.
Doctor; physician.
Fourth and final stage of the manifestation of speech or sound: when the power that is parā reaches the power centre (cakram) called viśuddhiḥ (at the throat) it assumes a final spoken word form, vaikharī, and articulated sound emerges from the mouth – also see parā, paśyantī, madhyama.
(The state of) dispassion, 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 and hereafter.
Passion here refers to the passions of attachment and aversion or the impulses of likes and dislikes. Wherever there is attachment there will be dveṣaḥ, aversion. Both are born of adhyāsaḥ, mistaken perception followed by adhyāropaḥ, the superimposition of false characteristics leading to false valuations. Dispassion – freedom from the pull 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).
Vairāgyam without vivekaḥ is impossible. See bhagaḥ and sādhana-catuṣṭayam.
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.
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.
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, it 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.
Relating or belonging or devoted or consecrated to Lord Viṣṇuḥ
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 Virāt (the words are synonyms). The individual or vyaṣṭiḥ aspect of Virād-īśvaraḥ 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.
A person born into the third varṇaḥ – a businessman, trader, farmer, accountant, etc.; also see brāhmaṇaḥ, priest; kṣatriyaḥ, soldier; śūdraḥ, labourer.
Speech, i.e. the power or faculty of speech.
Perfection in speech, in which whatever is spoken turns out to be true; result of observance of truthfulness.
Sentence; statement.
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.
Chapter; section.
Author of the Rāmāyaṇam.
Forest; woods.
Third of the four āśramas of Vedic life – retirement to the forest (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; also see brahmacaryam, studentship; gṛhasthaḥ, householder; sannyāsaḥ, renunciation.
Worship; praise; salutation; reverence.
Barren; fruitless; unproductive (said of biologically faulty women, plants, female animals).
Boon; reward; blessing.
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 clearly recognising the falsity and severity of one's apparent limitations.
varcaḥ (varcas)
Brilliance; lustre.
Exalted; supreme; praiseworthy; incomparably great; worthy of worship.
Best; most exalted.
Devoid of (dvaita-varjita, devoid of duality).
Characteristic by which something is described; nature; outward appearance; cover; colour; species; class; tribe; letter; alphabet; sound; syllable.
Class of people; caste; see brāhmaṇaḥ, priest; kṣatriyaḥ, soldier; vaiśyaḥ, businessman; śūdraḥ, labourer.
Turning; moving; existing.
The present time; the present; (gram.) present tense; see bhūta-kālaḥ, bhaviṣyat-kālaḥ.
Independent exposition, in verse, of a bhāṣyam (a commentary) – not an exposition of the original text. A vārtikam is not a ṭīkā because it either goes beyond the bhāṣyam or it is a further explanation of the bhāṣyam.
Presiding deity of water.
Home; house; residence. (Nivāsaḥ, absolute abode).
Tendencies and impressions, held in the subtle body (in the subconscious) that are respectively resulting from and created by volitional karma, action (including thought and speech). These ever-unseen (adṛṣṭa), subtle impressions, inclinations and influences, developed previously and taking form as memories, induce a person to initiate or avoid actions or to seek or prevent their repetition (thus making him or her a doer, kartā) and hence influence his or her degree of refinement, saṃskāraḥ. Being mithyā, vāsanās do not have to be exhausted for mokṣaḥ to take place – also see puṇyam, pāpam, dharmaḥ.
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.
Cloth; clothes; garment; dress; cover.
That which exists; reality itself and hence the very existence of whatever nāma-rūpam manifests from it. "The vastu alone is free; nothing else in saṃsāraḥ is free."*
A name of Kṛṣṇaḥ; son of Vasudevaḥ.
Banyan tree.
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.
Revealed knowledge in a sacred, ancient scripture that is apauruṣeya, not of human origin. It was compiled into four texts: Ṛgvedaḥ, Sāmavedaḥ, Yajurvedaḥ, Atharvavedaḥ by the mahāmuniḥ (great sage) known as Veda-vyāsaḥ.
The Vedas are perennially eternal vṛttis that re-manifest in the minds of seers on the emergence of every jagat. See ṛṣiḥ.
Texts of six auxiliary sciences required for understanding the Vedaḥ, namely:
End, conclusion, antaḥ (literally and metaphorically) of each Vedaḥ; summit and final aim of all four Vedas; 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, being not subject to negation, is not a philosophy, not a school of thought, not a system of ideas, not a set of contentions. It is a means of knowledge, a pramāṇam, for a vision of reality that has to be understood rather than believed.
Vedāntaḥ, by not replacing one set of notions with another, but by showing the error in mistaken ones, reveals the non-dual nature of reality. Hence, the term Advaita-Vedāntaḥ is a tautology.
Vedāntaḥ is, therefore, 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.
Dwelling; entrance; house.
All-pervasive (by being the invariable reality of all); not spatially limited; powerful.
A manifest exression of the glory and greatness of Īśvaraḥ, e.g. a flower, a tree, a painting, music, etc.; all that is manifest is an expression of the glory and greatness of the Lord.
Enquiry; investigation into the reality of oneself and the world, chiefly by śravaṇam, etc., of the scriptures with the help of a competent ācāryaḥ.
Must be investigated; should be enquired into; must be considered; to be deliberated upon.
One lacking discriminate understanding; unthinking person; unintelligent; someone unable to discern what is proper or improper and so unable to learn from his/her experiences in life.
Free from the body; dead.
Freedom after death; non-assumption of a body, i.e. not being born again.
Rule; law; order; stipulation; mandate; injunction; duty.
A positive statement; knowledge expressed in positive terms e.g. satyam jñānam anantam brahma is a statement that reveals Brahman, defining its nature. Such a statement contrasts with a niṣedha-vākyam, one that reveals brahman by correcting false idea(s) about it.
Scholar; learned person; wise person.
See sannyāsaḥ.
Knowledge; it is two-fold: parā-vidyā and aparā-vidyā.
Prevailing; prevalent (as); obtaining (as); be in force (as); hold good; being found (as); existent; present.
Obstacle; impediment; hindrance.
Enjoined; ordained – the scriptures never insist, they state (and encourage us in) that which is necessary for liberation and present what must happen if we neglect to do what is enjoined.
Of a different species; unlike.
Absolute victory.
Pure knowledge; truth itself; pure intelligence; assimilated knowledge; secular knowledge.
The kośaḥ consisting of the intellect, buddhiḥ, together with the five powers of perception, jñānendriyāṇi (hearing, touching, seeing, tasting, smelling). It is pervaded by the ānandamaya-kośaḥ and in turn the vijñānamaya-ātmā (ātmā idenitifed 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) and by making use of the praṇamaya-kośaḥ becomes the doer, kartā, as well (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, is known as the jīvaḥ, who constantly undergoes change and is the immediate cause of saṃsāraḥ, as well as being the recipient of the upadeśaḥ, the teaching.
The one knower in all intellects. It is non-different from Brahman.
That which is to be (should be) known – implies ātmā.
Doubt; alternative idea or option; imagination; division.
Change; transformation; alteration; effect; product; malady.
Transformation; modification; change for the worse.
Modification, (vikāryam); one of the four possible results of karma, action – also see utpattiḥ (utpādyam), production; āptiḥ (āpyam), attainment; saṃskṛtiḥ (saṃskāryam), 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).
The agitation, distraction, inattention and unconnected thoughts arising from the manifesting, scattering and tossing activity of vikṣepa-śaktiḥ, born of the rajas of māyā. Leads to vikṣipta.
Rajas, the active aspect of māyā, 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 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, which leads to action. Also see āvaraṇa-śaktiḥ.
Distracted, scattered (attention); unfocussed (thought); bewildered (mind) – all caused by vikṣepa-śaktiḥ.
Distinct; distinguished (from).
Liberation; deliverance; release; unharnessing.
Destruction; annihilation.
Modification; change; morphing; alteration; transformation; ripening; maturing; see bhāva-vikāraḥ.
Contrary; perverse; wrong; false; erroneous; the very opposite of the truth.
A deep-rooted (mostly subliminal, and hence unseen and unquestioned) habitual error due to past orientation, 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) that prevents the fulfilment and enjoyment of what has been understood through śravaṇam and mananam. Habits are formed gradually and removed gradually. See nididhyāsanam, sākṣātkāraḥ and pratibandhaḥ.
Learned; wise; one who sees clearly; person of right perception.
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.
(adj.) Passionless; objective; dispassionate; free from attachment (as a noun, it's masc. of vairāgyam).
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. In religious or purānic language Virāṭ is known as Viṣṇuḥ. Virāṭ and Vaiśvānaraḥ are synonyms. See antaryāmī, Hiraṇyagarbhaḥ, Vaiśvānaraḥ.
Strength; capacity; power. See bhagaḥ.
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, e.g. rāmaḥ (aha), hariḥ (ihi), guruḥ (uhu).
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 alone what is perceived of any object.
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.
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.
Attribute; distinguishing quality; peculiarity; that which is particular to.
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.
Awareness of variety. Consciousness appears varied and variable (but only) because of association with varied thoughts. See śuddha-caitanyam.
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 adjectives 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 negate any notions that Brahman has attributes, viśeṣas and is limited). See viśeṣyam.
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 in the past and the meaning of the word ‘this’ is Devadatta existing 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 a common object, consciousness. See sāmānādhikaraṇyam and lakṣya-lakṣaṇa-bhāvaḥ.
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 recipient of named, distinguishing attributes); that which is subject to being distinguished (vyāvartya) from other items or phenomena by an adjective, viśeṣaṇam.
Qualified (by); distinguished (by); the attributed (that which has attributes).
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 co-exist in some way.
Īśvaraḥ, the Lord, as the all-pervasive reality sustaining the Universe; see Brahmā, Śivaḥ, Virāṭ.
Manifestation; expansion; projection; elaboration; ennumeration; becoming large or great. The Universe is a manifestation, projection or expansion of consciousness.
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. Note that 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". The corresponding universal or samaṣṭiḥ term is Virāṭ. See prājñaḥ, taijasaḥ.
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).
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.
Trust; faith; belief; reliance.
Discussion with the sole purpose of defeating the opponent; no intention to learn; no regard for truth; also see samvādaḥ, vādaḥ, jalpa-vādaḥ.
Free from attachment; free from the hold of likes and dislikes; not dependent on the world for one's happiness.
An acquisition; a gain; property; wealth; power.
Intended meaning; that which the speaker/writer wishes to express or hopes to communicate; see grahaṇam.
An explanation, a scriptural elucidation within Vedāntaḥ that, since the ātmā is ever-experienced, śravanam, hearing, is sufficient for its full ascertainment as it provides aparokṣa-jñānam, immediate knowledge. Both mananam and nididhyāsanam of course have their place, but the emphasis is on śravanam. Pujya Swami Dayanandaji (Arsha Vidya) and his disciples follow the vivaraṇam view. See bhāmatī.
Apparent change of one object or material into another while retaining its original nature; alteration; transformation. For example, water appears to take the form of a wave while retaining its original nature of being H2O. See upādāna-kāraṇam, pariṇāmaḥ.
Material cause in which there is an apparent change of one object or material into another without any change in the nature of the original item itself; alteration; transformation; for example, water appears to take the form of a wave while retaining its original nature of being H2O; see upādāna-kāraṇam, pariṇāma-upādāna-kāraṇam.
Discriminative knowledge or understanding that the timeless, infinite vastu is one and all else is time-bound, finite. This is the first and foremost of the qualifications required for self-knowledge. See sādhana-catuṣṭayam.
See sannyāsaḥ.
Secluded; solitary; isolated; separated.
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.
A solemn vow carried out under strict rules on food, sleep, etc., usually to attain greater self-control or to expiate sins.
Growth; increase; success.
Thought; conduct; mode of being; behaviour; disposition; profession; livelihood; job; commentary (vartikam).
An object is known when there's a cognition of it in the mind (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, what is seen is that snake, not the rope. The 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 all vṛttis as water pervades waves or clay pervades pots.
Knowledge manifest in the mind as a thought.
A particular, limited state of mind; a mental modification.
A term referring to the perceptual process of the mind (manas) attaining (taking the form of) the object perceived by the senses. This is the essential first step in the perception of an object: the object perceived by the senses becomes a vṛttiḥ, a thought – it is only ever that thought that is perceived by the mind, not the object (so, if the object is a rope and the vṛttiḥ is a snake, what is perceived is a snake). See the second step: phala-vyāptiḥ.
Inconsistence; ever changeable; deviation; subject to arrival and departure; a contradiction; fallacious or erroneous reasoning.
Sacred utterance; a term for any of the sacred utterances (always preceded by om) namely bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ, svaḥ, mahaḥ, janaḥ, tapaḥ, satyam. See gāyatrī-mantraḥ.
Sanskrit grammar; one of the six auxiliary sciences, Vedāṅgas, of the Vedas – also see śikṣā, chandas, niruktam, jyotiṣaḥ, kalpaḥ.
Exposition or commentary on a text that is not a śrutiḥ text.
Manifestation; appearance; perceptibility; being available for experience.
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.
A consonant; a letter of the alphabet other than a vowel. A consonant is soundless without its vowel, hence the English word 'consonant' (sounding with), it can be sounded only by means of a vowel. In Sanskrit, the soundless (vowel-less) vyañjanam is known as hal. See svaraḥ, hal.
Pervasiveness; inherent, inseparable presence.
Knowledge arising from invariable concomitance – since fire and smoke are always present together I can infer (validly know) that the sight or smell of smoke means there is, or has recently been, a fire.
Compiler; the great saint known as Veda-Vyāsaḥ (also known as Bādarāyaṇa) 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.
Individual; microcosmic being (N.B. there is no vyaṣṭiḥ without samaṣṭiḥ, no ocean wave without an ocean); see samaṣṭiḥ.
Contrast – implies vyāvṛttiḥ, discontinuance; removal; cessation; exclusion; see anvayaḥ.
Distinct; separate.
Transaction; vyāvahārika, transactional.
Phenomenal, experiential, transactional reality, namely the (mithyā) Universe (the Īśvara-sṛṣṭiḥ) and all that is in it, including its laws, its means and ends, its joys and sorrows, and also one's body, mind and senses. See pāramārthika-satyam, prātibhāsika-satyam.
That which distinguishes something from everything else.
Resolution; decision; settled determination; being definite.
vyomā (vyoman)
Space in the heart, hṛdayam, in which the mind is figuratively said to abide.
Worshipper; performer of a ritual; the one to whom goes the benefit of the ritual.
Vedic form of worship; fire ritual; 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. Note that 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 limited action).
A yajñaḥ is a devotional act, which may include the formal dissemination of knowledge, jñānam, via what is known as a jñāna-yajñaḥ. See anugrahaḥ, pūjā, pañcamahā-yajñas.
An inexplicable, divine appearance (ref. Kena Upaniṣad, Ch. 3 & 4).
yaśaḥ (yaśas)
Fame; renown; glory. See bhagaḥ.
One of proper, adequate and appropriate effort; a sannyāsī.
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.
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.
Womb; cause; any place of origin.
Astronomical time period; see caturyugam, manvantaram, kalpaḥ.
Integrated with; endowed with; engaged in; united with; yuktaḥ, person of integrated personality, person of integrity.
Reasoning; logic.
*Swami Dayananda

na nirodho na cotpattirna baddho na ca sādhakaḥ |
na mumukṣurna vai mukta ityeṣā paramārthatā ||32||

There is no obstruction [to limitlessness], no birth, none bound; no aspirant, no seeker of freedom, and indeed none liberated! This is the absolute truth.

Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad, Gaudapāda kārikā, 2.32