Sanskrit Glossary of Vedantic Terms – 4

Below definitions are found in paperback book “Srimad Bhagavatam: First Canto” by Swami A. C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada.

NOTE: Swami Prabhupada started the ISCON movement in 1966. It's essentially a dualistic school, glorifying Krishna as God, who resides in heaven, and our purpose is to reach Him after death by means of good acts, service and devotion. It's basically identical to sects of religion who too portray God in a location, far away from Earth, and devotees aim is to each Him after death. ISCON (Hari Krishna movement) rejects Advaita, since Advaita requires a highly subtle mind to appreciate the non-dual nature of Reality.  However this doesn't stop us from including their Glossary on this website, as we honor their dedication to Sanskrit and Vedantic works.  Texts in red are arguments against ISCON definitions from standpoint of Advaita-Vedanta.

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  • Ācārya — an ideal teacher, who teaches by his personal example; a spiritual master.
  • Adhidaivic powers — the administrative functions delegated by the Lord to demigods, such as control over rain, wind and sun.
  • Ahiṃsā — nonviolence.
  • Akṣauhiṇī — a military division consisting of 21,870 chariots, 21,870 elephants, 109,350 infantrymen and 65,610 horses.
  • Anna-prāśana — the ceremony of offering a child his first food grains; one of the ten purificatory samskaras.
  • Ārati — a ceremony for greeting the Lord with chanting and offerings of food, lamps, fans, flowers and incense.
  • Arcanā — the devotional process of Deity worship.
  • Artha — economic development.
  • Āsana — a sitting posture in yoga practice.
  • Āśrama — one of four spiritual orders of life. See also: Brahmacarya; Gṛhastha; Vānaprastha; Sannyāsa,
  • Asura — an atheistic demon; gross materialist.
  • Aśvamedha-yajña — a Vedic horse sacrifice.
  • Avatāra — a descent, or incarnation, of the Supreme Lord.


  • Bhagavad-gītā — the discourse between the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, and His devotee Arjuna expounding 2 principal topics: Yoga-śāstra (knowledge of living properly), and brama-vidyā (self-knowledge).
  • Bhāgavata — anything related to Bhagavan, the Supreme Lord, especially the devotee of the Lord and the scripture Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
  • Bhāgavata-dharma — the science of devotional service to the Supreme Lord; the religious principles enunciated by the Lord.
  • Bhāgavata-saptāha — a seven-day series of lectures on Srlmad-Bhagavatam given by professional reciters to a paying audience.
  • Bhakta — a devotee of the Supreme Lord.
  • Bhakti — devotional service to the Supreme Lord.
  • Bhakti-vedāntas — those who have realized the conclusion of the Vedas through devotional service and self-knowledge.
  • Bhakti-yoga — linking with the Supreme Lord by devotional service.
  • Bhāva — the preliminary stage of ecstatic love of God.
  • Brahmacarya — celibate student life; the first order of Vedic spiritual life.
  • Brahma-tejas — the potency of a brāhmaṇa.
  • Brahman — the Absolute Truth; especially the impersonal aspect of the Absolute.
  • Brāhmaṇa — a member of the intellectual, priestly class; the first Vedic social order.
  • Brahmānanda — the pleasure of realizing the spiritual effulgence of the Lord.
  • Brahmarṣi — a title meaning “sage among the brahmāṇas.”
  • Brahmāstra — a nuclear weapon produced by chanting mantras.


  • Caṇḍāla — an outcaste or untouchable; a dog-eater.


  • Daridra-nārāyaṇa — “poor Narayana,” an offensive term used by Māyāvādīs to equate poor men with the Supreme Lord.
    NOTE by Andre: This definition is created by ISCON folks, who don't understand the context, thus it has nothing to do with calling the Lord “poor”. It's classic example of how a term is taken out of context, and then perpetuated throughout the entire institution, until it's normalized. And there's no such thing as “mayavadis”; it's another term created by their ignorance of reality, and not knowing what “māyā” teaching is all about.
  • Devarṣi — a title meaning “sage among the demigods.”
  • Dharma — religion; duty, especially everyone’s eternal service nature.
  • Dhyāna — meditational yoga.


  • Ekādaśī — a special day for increased remembrance of Kṛṣṇa, which comes on the eleventh day after both the full and new moon. Abstinence from grains and beans is prescribed.


  • Gandharvas — demigod singers and musicians.
  • Garbhādhāna-saṃskāra — the Vedic ceremony of purification to be performed by parents before conceiving a child.
  • Goloka Vṛndāvana (Kṛṣṇaloka) — the highest spiritual planet, Lord Kṛṣṇa’s personal abode.
    NOTE by Andre: This is product of dualistic thinking, on which entire ISCON is built upon. Putting the all-pervading Lord inside a physical time-space domain. It's identical to what we see in sects of Christianity/Islam or any religion; putting one's God inside a physical place, far away from here.
  • Gopīs — Kṛṣṇa’s cowherd girl friends, who are His most surrendered and confidential devotees.
  • Gosvāmī — a controller of the mind and senses; title of one in the renounced, or sannyasa, order.
  • Gṛhastha — regulated householder life; the second order of Vedic spiritual life.
  • Guṇa-avatāras — Viṣṇu, Brahmā and Śiva, the presiding deities of the three modes of nature.
  • Guru — a spiritual master.


  • Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra — See: Mahā-mantra.
  • Harināma-yajña — congregational chanting of the holy names of the Supreme Lord, the recommended sacrifice for this age.
  • Haṭha-yoga — the practice of postures and breathing exercises for achieving purification and sense control.


  • Itihāsa — a historical account.


  • Jīva-tattva — the living entities, atomic parts of the Supreme Lord.
  • Jñāna — knowledge.
  • Jñāna-kāṇḍa — the portions of the Vedas containing knowledge of Brahman, or spirit.


  • Kaivalya — the impersonal liberation of merging into the spiritual effulgence emanating from the Lord.
  • Kali-yuga (Age of Kali) — the present age, characterized by quarrel; it is last in the cycle of four and began five thousand years ago.
  • Kalpa — Brahmā’s daytime, 4,320,000,000 years.
  • Kāma — lust.
  • Kāmadhenu — spiritual cows, in the spiritual world, which yield unlimited quantities of milk.
  • Karatālas — hand cymbals used in kīrtana.
  • Karma — material, fruitive activity and its reactions.
  • Karmī — one engaged in karma (fruitive activity); a materialist.
  • Kīrtana — the devotional process of chanting the names and glories of the Supreme Lord.
  • Kṛṣṇaloka — See: Goloka Vṛndāvana.
  • Kṣatriya — a warrior or administrator; the second Vedic social order.


  • Lakṣmī — the goddess of fortune and eternal consort of the Supreme Lord as Nārāyaṇa.
  • Līlā-avatāras — innumerable incarnations of the Supreme Lord who descend to the material world to display spiritual pastimes.
  • Loka — a planet.


  • Mahā-mantra — the great chant for deliverance: Hare Kṛṣna, Hare Kṛṣna, Kṛṣna Kṛṣna, Hare Hare
    Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.
  • Mahā-ratha — a powerful warrior who can single-handedly fight against ten thousand others.
  • Mahājanas — great self-realized souls, authorities on the science of Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
  • Mahat-tattva — the original, undifferentiated form of the total material energy, from which the material world is manifested.
  • Mahātmā — a great soul (soul refers to the mind).
  • Mantra — a transcendental sound or Vedic hymn, which can deliver the mind from illusion.
  • Mathurā — Lord Kṛṣṇa’s abode, surrounding Vṛndāvana, where He took birth and to which He later returned after performing His childhood Vṛndāvana pastimes.
  • Māyā — the inferior, illusory energy of the Supreme Lord, which rules over this material creation; forgetfulness of one’s relationship with the Absolute Truth.
  • Māyāvādī — impersonalist philosophers, who conceive of the Absolute as ultimately formless and the living entity as equal to God.
    NOTE by Andre: This is aimed at Advaita Vedanta. Advaita understands there's no contradiction between the form and formless. Then proceeds to show how that is so, right now. Then lets you contradict it, if you can. Advaita also doesn't force ideas or make promises of something you can't prove right now in your own experience while living. Whereas Swami Prabhupada (the creator of ISCON or Krishna Consciousness movement) didn't understand this, and only way to justify his ignorance, or lack of qualification to recognize the true import of Vedas, was to interpret Advaita vision by Adi Shankara, as insulting or degrading to the truth. Unfortunately the entire ISCON is built on this ignorance, yet it's propagated worldwide. In fact, Prabhupada is contradicting the entire vision of Vedas whose culmination is non-dual understand or reality. That's why ISCON avoids Upaniṣads (which are part of Vedas), as it doesn't support their dualistic idea of reality.
  • Mokṣa — liberation from material bondage.
  • Mṛdaṅga — a clay drum used for congregational chanting.
  • Muni — a sage.


  • Nirguṇa — without material qualities.
  • Nivṛtti-mārga — the path of renunciation, which leads to liberation.


  • Pañcarātra — Vedic literature describing the process of Deity worship for devotees in the present age.
  • Paṇḍita — scholar.
  • Parākīya — the relationship between a married woman and her paramour; particularly the relationship between the damsels of Vṛndāvana and Kṛṣṇa.
  • Paramahaṃsa — a topmost, swanlike devotee of the Supreme Lord; highest stage of sannyāsa.
  • Parameśvara — the supreme controller, Lord Kṛṣṇa.
  • Paramparā — a disciplic succession of bona fide spiritual masters.
  • Prāṇāyāma — breath control used in yoga practice, especially āṣṭāṅga-yoga.
  • Prasādam — the Lord’s mercy; food or other items spiritualized by being first offered to the Supreme Lord.
  • Pravṛtti-mārga — the path of sense enjoyment in accordance with Vedic regulations.
  • Purāṇas — the eighteen Vedic supplementary literatures, historical scriptures.
  • Puruṣa-avatāras — the three primary Viṣṇu expansions of the Supreme Lord who are involved in universal creation.


  • Rājarṣi — a great saintly king.
  • Rājasūya-yajña — the great sacrificial ceremony performed by King Yudhiṣṭhira and attended by Lord Kṛṣṇa.
  • Rāma-rājya — a perfect, Vedic kingdom following the example of Lord Rāmacandra, the incarnation of the Supreme Lord appearing as the perfect king.
  • Rāsa-līlā — the pure exchange of spiritual love between Krishna and His most advanced, confidential servitors, the cowherd damsels of Vrajabhūmi.
  • Ṛṣi — a sage.


  • Sac-cid-ānanda-vigraha — the Lord’s transcendental form, which is eternal and full of knowledge and bliss.
  • Sādhu — a saintly person.
  • Śālagrāma-śilā — a Deity incarnation of the Supreme Lord in the form of a stone.
  • Sampradāya — a disciplic succession of spiritual masters, along with the followers in that tradition.
  • Saṃskāra — one of the Vedic rituals performed one by one from the time of conception until death for purifying a human being.
  • Sanātana-dharma — the eternal occupation or religion of all living beings, devotional service to the Supreme Lord.
  • Saṅkīrtana — congregational or public glorification of the Supreme Lord, Krsna, especially through chanting of the Lord’s holy names.
  • Sannyāsa — renounced life; the fourth order of Vedic spiritual life.
  • Śāstra — revealed scripture, such as the Vedic literature.
    NOTE by Andre: If it's revealed, and considered absolute authority, and from which one of ISCON's main texts (Bhagavad Gita) is based on… then why is ISCON rejecting Upanisads (which come from Veda-śāstra), such as Katha/Kena/Mandukya Upanishad? Because ISCON is unable to reconcile śāstric statements like “aham brahman asmi (I am Brahman)”, or “tat tvam asi (You are That)”, etc.
  • Sāyujya — (the liberation of) merging into the spiritual effulgence of the Lord.
  • Smṛti — revealed scriptures supplementary to the sruti, or original Vedic scriptures, which are the Vedas and Upanisads. NOTE: Bhagavad Gita is category of smṛti, which gets it's information from śāstra. See argument against ISCON's dualistic vision of reality, in śāstra above.
  • Soma-rasa — a life-extending heavenly beverage available to demigods on the higher planets.
  • Śravaṇam kīrtanam viṣṇoḥ — the devotional process of hearing and chanting about Lord Visnu, or Krsna.
  • Śruti — knowledge via hearing; the original Vedic scriptures (the Vedas and Upanisads), given directly by the Supreme Lord.
  • Śūdra — a laborer; the fourth of the Vedic social orders.
  • Śūdrāṇī — the wife of a sudra.
    Surabhi cows — spiritual cows, in the spiritual world, which yield unlimited quantities of milk.
    NOTE by Andre: This is fictional, not factual.
  • Svāmī — a controller of the mind and senses; title of one in the renounced, or sannyāsa, order.
  • Svargaloka — the heavenly planets of the material world.
  • Svayaṃvara — the ceremony in which a princess is allowed to choose her husband.


  • Tapasya — austerity; accepting some voluntary inconvenience for a higher purpose.
  • Tilaka — auspicious clay markings placed by devotees on the forehead and other parts of the body.
  • Tulasī — a sacred plant dear to Lord Krsna and worshiped by His devotees.


  • Vaikuṇṭha — the spiritual world, where there is no anxiety.
  • Vaiṣṇava — a devotee of the Supreme Lord, Visnu, or Krsna.
  • Vaiśyas — farmers and merchants; the third Vedic social order.
  • Vānaprastha — one who has retired from family life; the third order of Vedic spiritual life.
  • Varṇa — one of the four Vedic social-occupational divisions of society, distinguished by quality of work and situation with regard to the modes of nature (gunas) . See also: Brahmana; Ksatriya; Vaisya; Sudra.
  • Varṇa-saṅkara — children conceived without regard for Vedic religious principles; thus, unwanted population.
  • Varṇāśrama-dharma — the Vedic social system of four social and four spiritual orders. See also: Varna; Asrama.
  • Vedānta — the philosophy of the Vedānta-sūtra of Śrīla Vyāsadeva, containing a conclusive summary of Vedic philosophical knowledge and showing Krsna as the goal.
    NOTE by Andre: Where SPECIFICALLY did Vyāsa, even in one place, mention, “Krishna is the goal”. Another example of biased teaching from ISCON.
  • Vedas — the original revealed scriptures, first spoken by Lord Krsna.
    NOTE by Andre: This definition is misleading. Vedas are compilation of texts by various sages through hundreds of years. Why is ISCON not giving due credit to our wonderful rishies, and instead taking a chance to glorify Krishna, when Krishna is specifically from Bhagavad Gita era, which came thousands of years later AFTER Vedas compilation.
  • Virāṭ-rūpa — the conception likening the physical form of the universe to the Lord’s bodily form.
  • Viṣṇu — the Supreme Lord; Lord Krsna’s expansions in Vaikuntha and for the creation and maintenance of the material universes.
  • Viṣṇu-tattva — the status or category of Godhead; applies to primary expansions of the Supreme Lord.
  • Vṛndāvana — Krishna’s eternal abode, where He fully manifests His quality of sweetness; the village on this earth in which He enacted His childhood pastimes five thousand years ago.
    NOTE by Andre: This is ISCON's specific definition of Vṛndāvana, thinking it's an actual physical place, located somewhere away from Earth, in which Krishna resides. No different then sects of Religion, in which Jesus, Allah, etc reside.
  • Vyāsadeva — the incarnation of Lord Krsna who gave the Vedas, Purāṇas. Vedanta-śūtra and Mahābhārata to mankind.


  • Yajña — sacrifice; also, the Supreme Lord, the goal and enjoyer of all sacrifices.
  • Yātrā — a journey.
  • Yoga-nidrā — the mystic slumber of Lord Visnu.
  • Yogī — a transcendentalist who is striving for union with the Supreme.
  • Yuga-avatāras — the four incarnations of the Supreme Lord that appear in the four yugas, or millenniums, to prescribe the appropriate method of spiritual realization for that age.
  • Yugas — ages in the life of a universe, occurring in a repeated cycle of four.