Sanskrit Glossary of Vedantic Terms – 5

Below definitions are found in paperback book “Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead” 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.

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  • Ācārya – one who knows and explains the import of all the Vedic literatures, abides by their rules and regulations, and teaches his disciples to act in the same way.
  • Aguru – the fragrant aloewood tree.
  • Akṣauhiṇī – a large military division consisting of 21,870 chariots, 21,870 elephants, 109,350 infantry soldiers and 65,610 horses.
  • Āmalaka – the emblic myrobalan tree, a kind of wild almond tree with round or pear-shaped fruits.
  • Ambikā – a name of Durgā meaning “mother.”
  • Ārati – a ceremony for greeting the Lord with offerings of food, lamps, fans, flowers and incense, accompanied by chanting.
  • Āryan – a civilized follower of Vedic culture; one whose goal is spiritual advancement.
  • Aśoka – a tree of moderate size with magnificent red flowers.
  • Āśrama – a place of spiritual practice; one of the four spiritual orders according to the Vedic social system: brahmacarya (student life), gṛhastha (householder life), vānaprastha (retirement) and sannyāsa (renunciation).
  • Asura – a demon or nondevotee.
  • Āśutoṣa – a name of Śiva meaning “one who is easily pleased.”
  • Ātmārāma – a self-satisfied sage.
  • Avabhṛta – a ceremonial bath at the end of a sacrifice.
  • Avatāra – an incarnation of Godhead who descends from the spiritual world.


  • Bael fruit – the fruit of the wood-apple tree, a thorny shrub. The actual Sanskrit name of this tree is bilva, and the fruits are sometimes called Bengal quince.
  • Bhagavad-gītā – the book that records the spiritual instructions given by Kṛṣṇa to His friend Arjuna on the Battlefield of Kurukṣetra.
  • Bhakta – a devotee.
  • Bhakti-yoga – the yoga of devotional service to the Lord.
  • Bherī – a kettledrum.
  • Bhūr – earth, the first of the three worlds spoken of in the Vedic literature.
  • Bhūtas – malignant spirits that haunt cemeteries, animate dead bodies, and delude and devour human beings. The Bhūtas are attendants of Lord Śiva, and he is said to be their king.
  • Bhuvar – the second of the three worlds (the world between the earth and the sun).
  • Brahmā – the first created being and secondary creator of this material universe.
  • Brahmacārī – a celibate student under the guidance of a spiritual master.
  • Brahma-jyoti – the impersonal effulgence that emanates from the body of Kṛṣṇa. 
    NOTE by Andre: This is incorrect definition, and modified to suit ISCON's Krishna Consciousness view. This refers to “Consciousness” (or the light of consciousness).
  • Brāhma-muhūrta – the period of the day just before dawn. It is especially favorable for spiritual practices.
  • Brahman – the impersonal feature of the Absolute Truth. 
    NOTE by Andre: “Impersonal feature” is incorrect and ISCON's personal addition. Nowhere in Vedas does it say this. Correctly, Brahman means: Absolute Truth.
  • Brāhmaṇas – the spiritual order of society whose occupation is the cultivation of Vedic knowledge.
  • Brahma-rākṣasa – a man-eating demon who was a fallen brāhmaṇa in his last life.
  • Brahma-saṁhitā – a very ancient Sanskrit scripture recording the prayers of Brahmā to the Supreme Lord, Govinda.


  • Caitanya Mahāprabhu (1486–1534) – the Supreme Lord appearing as His own greatest devotee to teach love of God, especially through the process of congregational chanting of His holy names.
  • Cāmara – a yak-tail whisk.
  • Campaka – a species of magnolia with highly fragrant, yellowish or orange flowers.
  • Candra – the demigod in charge of the moon.
  • Capātī – an unleavened, pancake-sized whole-wheat bread.
  • Cāraṇas – the panegyrists of the demigods.
  • Cāturmāsya – the four months of the rainy season in India, during which devotees of Viṣṇu observe special austerities.


  • Daityas – the (demoniac) offspring of Diti and Kaśyapa.
  • Ḍākinīs – female demonic attendants of Kālī who feed on human flesh and drink blood.
  • Deva – a demigod or devotee.


  • Ekādaśī – a special day for increased remembrance of Kṛṣṇa that comes on the eleventh day after both the full and new moon. Abstinence from grains and beans is prescribed.
  • Esarāja – a stringed instrument played with a bow and nowadays found mainly in Bengal.


  • Gandharvas – denizens of the heavenly planets who sing very beautifully.
  • Gāndharva marriage – marriage by mutual agreement between husband and wife.
  • Garuḍa – the giant bird-carrier of Viṣṇu.
  • Gautama – the sage who established the Nyāya system of philosophy.
  • Gavaya – a wild species of oxen.
  • Gandharvas – denizens of the heavenly planets who sing very beautifully.
  • Gāndharva marriage – marriage by mutual agreement between husband and wife.
  • Garuḍa – the giant bird-carrier of Viṣṇu.
  • Gautama – the sage who established the Nyāya system of philosophy.
  • Gavaya – a wild species of oxen.
  • Gāyatrī mantra – the Vedic prayer chanted silently by brāhmaṇas at sunrise, noon and sunset.
  • Gopīs – cowherd girls, specifically the transcendental girlfriends of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
  • Gopura – a big gate, usually an entrance to a town or a temple.
  • Gṛhastha – one who is in the householder order of life.
  • Guhyakas – (“hidden beings”) inferior celestials who serve Kuvera by guarding his hidden treasures.
  • Guru – a spiritual master.



  • Halavā – a dessert made from toasted grains, butter and sugar.
  • Halāyudha – a name of Balarāma that means “armed with a plow.”
  • Hṛṣīkeśa – a name of God meaning “the controller of the senses.”


  • Indra – the chief of the administrative demigods, king of the heavenly planets and presiding deity of rain.
  • Īśopaniṣad – one of the principal Upaniṣads.


  • Jaimini – the sage who established the Karma-mīmāṁsā school of philosophy, which teaches methods of interpreting Vedic texts; author of the Mimāṁsa-sūtra.
  • Janaloka – a heavenly planetary system situated between Maharloka and Tapoloka and populated by celibate sages.
  • Jñāna-yoga – the path of spiritual realization through a speculative philosophical search for truth.
  • Jñānī – one adhering to the path of jñāna-yoga.
  • Jyotiṣṭoma – a Vedic sacrifice meant to elevate one to the heavenly planets.


  • Kachaurī – a crispy fried pastry filled with spiced lentils or vegetables.
  • Kadamba – a tree with orange-colored fragrant blossoms; said to grow only in the Vṛndāvana area.
  • Kahlāra – the lotus known as the white lily, also called white Egyptian lotus.
  • Kalaśa – a waterpot.
  • Kaṇāda – the sage who established the Vaiśeṣika system of philosophy, a materialistic theory of atomism, and wrote the Vaiśeṣika-sūtra. The name “Kaṇāda” means “atom-eater.”
  • Kañja – a word for the lotus flower meaning “born from the water.”
  • Kapila – the sage who established the atheistic Sāṅkhya system of philosophy (different from Kapila, the son of Devahūti, mentioned in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam).
  • Kāraṇa Ocean – the Causal Ocean, wherein Kāraṇodaka-śāyī Viṣṇu (Mahā-viṣṇu) lies.
  • Karma – fruitive activities or their reactions.
  • Karma-kāṇḍa – the part of the Vedas that prescribes means for obtaining material benedictions.
  • Karmī – a fruitive worker.
  • Kaumudī – an especially fragrant water lily found on the bank of the Yamunā River.
  • Kaustubha – a transcendental jewel worn around the neck of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
  • Kṛṣṇa-kathā – narrations spoken by or about Lord Kṛṣṇa.
  • Kṣatriyas – members of the Vedic social order whose occupation is governmental administration and military protection of the citizens.
  • Kunda – a kind of jasmine.
  • Kuṅkuma – a sweetly scented reddish powder used to decorate the body.
  • Kurarī – an osprey.
  • Kuśa – the sacred grass used at religious ceremonies.
  • Kūṣmāṇḍa – a kind of evil spirit said to harass children.


  • Līlā – pastimes.


  • Māgadhas – professional singers for sacrifices.
  • Mahā-bhāgavata – a highly advanced devotee of Kṛṣṇa.
  • Mahā-mantra – the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare / Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.
  • Mahātmā – a “great soul”.
  • Mālatī – a kind of jasmine with fragrant white flowers.
  • Mallikā – a kind of jasmine.
  • Mantra – a transcendental sound or Vedic hymn that can deliver the mind from illusion.
  • Marakata – an emerald.
  • Māyā (Mahāmāyā) – the external, material energy of the Supreme Lord, which covers conditioned souls and does not allow them to understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
  • Mṛdaṅga – a clay drum with two heads.
  • Mukti – liberation from material bondage.
  • Mukunda – Lord Kṛṣṇa, who awards liberation and whose smiling face is like a kunda flower.


  • Nāga – a tree (Mesua roxburghii) with fragrant flowers.
  • Nirguṇa – literally, “without qualities” (used to describe the Supreme Lord, who has no material qualities).


  • Oṁ-kāra – the sacred syllable that represents the Absolute Truth.


  • Paṇava – a kind of drum.
  • Pañca-śūna – the five mahā-yajñas, or great sacrifices. They include reciting the Vedas, offering oblations into the sacrificial fire, waiting on guests, making offerings to the forefathers, and offering a share of one’s food to living entities in general.
  • Pāṇḍavas – the five sons of King Pāṇḍu, namely Yudhiṣṭhira, Bhīma, Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva.
  • Pannagas – semicelestial demoniac beings belonging to the Nāga race.
  • Paramahaṁsa – a topmost, swanlike devotee of the Supreme Lord.
  • Paramātmā – an expansion of the Supreme Lord who lives in the heart of all living entities.
  • Pārijāta – a type of flower found on the heavenly planets.
  • Paṭaha – a small drum.
  • Patañjali – the sage who systemized the philosophy of yoga and wrote the Patañjali-yoga-sūtras.
  • Patnī-saṁyāja – the ritual in which the sponsor of a sacrifice offers oblations together with his wife.
  • Piśācas – evil spirits placed by the Vedas lower than Rākṣasas; the most vile and malignant order of demoniac beings.
  • Pitās – forefathers.
  • Prākṛta-sahajiyā – a pseudodevotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa who fails to understand His absolute, transcendental position and imitates His pastimes.
  • Pramathas – a class of Bhūtas. See : Bhūtas.
  • Prāṇāyāma – the yogic breathing exercises.
  • Prasādam – food first offered to the Supreme Lord and then distributed.
  • Pretas – evil spirits animating corpses and haunting cemeteries and other places.
  • Purī – puffed white bread fried in ghee.


  • Rabrī – cooked-down, sweetened milk.
  • Rajas – the material mode of passion.
  • Rākṣasa marriage – marriage in which the bride is forcibly stolen from one’s rival suitors.
  • Rasas – the loving moods or mellows relished in the exchange of love with the Supreme Lord.
  • Rāsa-līlā – Lord Kṛṣṇa’s transcendental pastime of dancing with the gopīs.
  • Rūpa Gosvāmī – a great Vaiṣṇava author and the leader of the Six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, the principal followers of Lord Caitanya.


  • Śāla – a tall, strong tree whose wood is used for building houses.
  • Sālokya-mukti – the liberation of being elevated to live on the same planet as the Lord.
  • Samādhi – trance; deep absorption in meditation upon the Supreme.
  • Sāmīpya-mukti – the liberation of attaining the association of the Lord.
  • Samosā – a fried pastry stuffed with spiced vegetables or fruits.
  • Sanātana-dhāma – the eternal abode of the Supreme Lord (Vaikuṇṭha).
  • Saṅkīrtana-yajña – the chanting of the holy names of God, which is the recommended sacrifice for this age.
  • Sannyāsī – one who is in the renounced order of life.
  • Sarasvatī – a holy river in ancient India, approximately parallel to the present Indus River. The Sarasvatī dried up thousands of years ago.
  • Śarat – autumn.
  • Sārṣṭi-mukti – the liberation of enjoying the same opulence as the Lord.
  • Sārūpya-mukti – the liberation of attaining the same bodily features as the Lord.
  • Śāstras – revealed scriptures.
  • Śataghnī – the śakti spear of Bhaumāsura.
  • Sattva – the material mode of goodness.
  • Sāyujya-mukti – the liberation of merging into the existence of the Supreme Lord.
  • Siddhas – a class of semidivine beings of great purity and holiness who dwell in the regions of the sky between the earth and the sun.
  • Siddhi – a mystic yogic perfection.
  • Śikṣāṣṭaka – eight verses by Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu glorifying the chanting of the Lord’s holy name.
  • Sindhī – born in the province Sindh (now in Pakistan).
  • Sitar – a stringed musical instrument.
  • Śiva – the demigod in charge of annihilation and the mode of ignorance.
  • Śrīdhara Svāmī – an important commentator on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.
  • Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam – the Purāṇa, or history, written by Śrīla Vyāsadeva specifically to give a deep understanding of Lord Kṛṣṇa, His devotees and devotional service.
  • Śrīvatsa – three lines of white hair on the chest of Lord Viṣṇu, representing the goddess of fortune.
  • Sudarśana – the wheel that is the personal weapon of Lord Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa.
  • Śūdra – a laborer; the fourth of the Vedic social orders.
  • Sūta – a mixed class who are originally the offspring of kṣatriya fathers and brāhmaṇa mothers. Their occupations are reciting Purāṇas and epic histories, and driving chariots.
  • Svar – the third of the three worlds (the heavenly kingdom).
  • Svayaṁvara – a ceremony where a princess selects her husband from a group of princes.
  • Śyāmasundara – a name of Kṛṣṇa meaning “blackish (śyāma) and very beautiful (sundara).”


  • Tamas – the material mode of ignorance.
  • Tamboura – a musical instrument with four strings.
  • Tantras – traditional supplementary post-Vedic texts. Tantras in the mode of goodness describe knowledge of God and are aimed at liberation; those in the lower modes describe different kinds of magic, rituals and worship.
  • Tapasya – austerity.
  • Tapoloka – a heavenly planetary system situated between Janaloka and Satyaloka and populated by great ascetics.
  • Tilaka – auspicious clay markings placed by devotees on the forehead and other parts of the body.
  • Tulasī – a great devotee in the form of a plant; she is very dear to Lord Kṛṣṇa.
  • Tūrya – a musical instrument.


  • Udumbara – a kind of fig (Ficus glomerata).
  • Upaniṣads – 108 philosophical treatises that appear within the Vedas.
  • Utpala – the blue lotus flower.


  • Vaiṣṇava – a devotee of the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa.
  • Vaiśya – a farmer or merchant; the third Vedic social order.
  • Vandī – a bard who sings the praises of royalty or accompanies an army and sings martial songs.
  • Vedānta-sūtra – the philosophical treatise written by Vyāsadeva. It consists of aphorisms that embody the essential meaning of the Upaniṣads.
  • Vetālas – a class of evil spirits, largely followers of Lord Śiva. They dance and feast on flesh and blood on the battlefield.
  • Vidyādharas – a race of celestial beings who are attendants of Lord Śiva and who possess material mystic knowledge.
  • Vīṇā – a musical instrument with five, seven or more strings.
  • Vināyakas – a variety of evil spirits who are followers of Lord Śiva.
  • Viṣṇu – an all-pervasive, fully empowered expansion of Lord Kṛṣṇa qualified by full truth, full knowledge and full bliss.
  • Viṣṇu-sahasra-nāma – a section of the Mahābhārata consisting of one thousand names of Lord Viṣṇu.
  • Vyāsadeva – the compiler of the Vedas and author of the Purāṇas, Mahābhārata and Vedānta-sūtra.
  • Vyāsāsana – the elevated seat of the representatives of Vyāsadeva (those speaking on the subject of transcendental knowledge).


  • Yajña – sacrifice.
  • Yakṣas – a class of supernatural beings (sometimes considered evil) attendant on Kuvera, the god of wealth.
  • Yoga – the process of linking with the Supreme.
  • Yogamāyā – the principal internal (spiritual) potency of the Supreme Lord.
  • Yogī – one who practices yoga.