Glossary – Some commonly used Sanskrit words in Hinduism & Their meaning

Acknowledgement: Most of these Glossaries with meanings have been taken from the book
“Autobiography of Swami Sivananda” published by Divine Life Society, Rishikesh.

Acharya — Preceptor

Advaita — Non-duality, monism

Akarta — Non-doer

Akhanda — Unbroken, continuous, partless

Alasya — Inertia, Idleness

Ananda-bhashpam — Tears of bliss

Arhats — The perfect souls

Asana — Yoga exercises

Ashram — An ideal centre for Sadhana, a monastery

Bandha — A group of exercises in Hatha Yoga; a bondage

Bhagavatas — Those illumined souls who recite the stories of the Lord

Bhaitak — An Indian physical exercise

Bhajan — Praise of the Lord singing in chorus songs in praise of the Lord

Bhakti Yoga — The Path of devotion

Bhakti — Devotion

Bhav — Feeling of devotion and love

Bhikkus — Monks

Brahma-muhurta — The period from 4 to 6 in the morning which is highly favourable for spiritual


Brahmachari — A Celibate

Brahmacharya — Celibacy

Chitta — Mind-stuff, subconscious mind

Dand — An Indian physical exercise

Darshan — Insight, seeing the Lord or holy persons

Daya — Mercy, compassion

Devas — Celestial beings, Gods

Dharma — Righteousness

Dharmasala — Charity house

Dvaita — Duality

Ekadasi — The 1 1th day of full-moon or new-moon, a holy day for observance of fast

Gambhira — Dignified, grand, magnanimous

Grihastha — Householder’s life, a householder

Grihasthi — A householder

Guru — Preceptor, Teacher

Indriyas — Senses, sense-organs

Ishta-Devata — A particular incarnation of the Lord which appeals most to a person

Jaalam — Jugglery

Japa — Repetition of the Name of the Lord

Jnana-Yajna — Dissemination of knowledge

Jnana-Yoga — The path of knowledge

Jnana — Wisdom

Jnani — A Vedanti, one in the path of knowledge, the illumined

Kaashtha Mauna — Silence wherein one does not make even gestures and signals

Kamandalu — A vessel used by Sadhus for carrying water, mostly the shell of a hard fruit

Karma- Yoga — The path of selfless action

Karma — Action, fate

Kirtan — Loud singing of the Name of the Lord in different tunes

Koran — The holy scripture of the Mohammedans

Kshama — forgiveness

Kumbhaka — Retention of breath

Kutir — Hermitage, hut or cottage, where a renunciate or Yogi lives

Likhita-Japa — Writing of Mantras or the Name of the Lord

Mahant — The Founder or the president of a religious institution

Mahatmas — Great men, holy persons, high souled ones

Mantra — A sacred formula expressing obeisance to the Lord

Mauna — Observance of silence

Maya — Illusive power of the Lord, which is responsible for ignorance and bondage

Moha — Attachment to things and beings

Mudras — A group of exercises in Hatha Yoga

Mukti — Liberation, release from the bondage of birth and death

Mumukshutva — Intense longing for liberation

Murti — Image, an idol

Mutt — The institution of monks, a monastery

Namaskar — Prostration

Nirguna — Without attributes, the Absolute Reality

Nirvana — Final emancipation, liberation

Nirvikalpa Samadhi — Complete absorption in Reality; A state wherein one’s identity with the

Universal Reality is realised

Nishkama — Selfless service, work without selfish motive

Nishtha — Deep meditation; full dedication to a holy undertaking

Nivritti Marga — The path of renunciation

Parivrajaka — A Wandering monk; a mendicant

Pooja — Worship

Prabhat Pheri — A religious procession early in the morning

Prana — Vital force or breath in the body

Pranayama — Breathing exercises; Regulation of the vital breath

Raga-Dvesha — Feelings of attachment and aversion

Rajas — One of the 3 qualities producing passion and restlessness, the principle of dynamism in


Sadhaka — An aspirant; a spiritual practitioner

Sadhana — Spiritual practices

Sadhu — An anchorite

Saguna — The Absolute conceived with form; A personal God

Sahaja-Avastha — Superconscious state that has become natural and continuous

Saiva — The worshipper of Lord Siva

Sakshi — Witness; the self who acts as a witness

Samadhi — Superconscious state

Sammelan — A Religious Conference

Samsara — The process of worldly life through transmigration

Samskara — Impressions in the mind

Sannyasa — Renunciation

Sannyasi — A Monk

Sastra — Scriptures of the Hindus

Satchidananda — Existence, knowledge and bliss; an expression suggesting the indescribable

Absolute Reality

Satsanga — Association with the wise and sages

Sattva — Purity

Sattvic — Pure

Seva — Service

Shat-Sampat — Sixfold virtues: Sama (balance in pain and pleasure), Dama (control of senses),

Uparati (tranquillity), Titiksha (forbearance, bearing heat and cold), Sraddha (faith and sincerity)

and Samadhana (balanced state of mind)

Siddha — A perfected sage

Siddhi — Psychic powers

Svabhava — one’s own nature

Svapna — Dream

Svarupa — F orm

Swami — One who is devoted to the path of renunciation

Tamas — Ignorance, inertia

Tapasya — Austerity, penance

Titiksha — Forbearance

Trataka — Steady gazing

Vaikuntha — The abode of Ford Vishnu

Vairagi — A man of dispas sion

Vairagya — Aversion to sense-objects

Vaishnava — Worshipper of Ford Vishnu

Vanaprastha — Householders leading a life of a hermit

Vedas — Scriptures of the Hindus

Vikshepa — Tossing of mind

Viraja Homa — Religious rite for entering the Order of Sannyasa, the path of renunciation

Viveka — Discrimination

V yapaka — All-pervading

Yajna — A sacrifice

Yoga Bhrashta — One who has fallen from the high state of Yoga

Yogi — An aspirant going through a course of spiritual discipline, A student in the path of Yoga

Zenana — womanfolk