In most places, the meaning in English is described where any Sanskrit word is used in the book for the first time. Some particularly important words appear here for immediate reference.

Abhay: Fearlessness

Abhyasa: Practice

Abhisheka: Ritual bathing of the deity’s image

Acharya: Spiritual preceptor

Advaitya: Non-duality or monoism

Agamas: Scriptures of rituals and temple construction

Agni: Hindu god of fire

Ahimsa: Non-injury or nonviolence, in thought, word, or deed

Akasa: Free open space, sky, ether

Amrita: Nectar of immortality

Ananda: Divine bliss

Anekta: Different points of view

Antahkaran: Inner being

Apara: Imperfect

Archana: Personalized temple worship

Artha: Property, wealth

Asana: Body posture

Ashrama: Place for learning, hermitage

Asura: Evil spirit, demon

Atman: Soul

Aum or Om: mystic symbol (icon) of the Divine

Avtara: Incarnation of God in earthly form

Ayurveda: Ancient Hindu science of life

Bhakti: Devotion of God

Brahmacharya: Divine conduct, controlling lust when unmarried

Brahman: Supreme Being, Transcendental Absolute

Brahmand: Represents solar system or galaxy in Hindu scriptures

Brahmin: Person with divine knowledge, used as higher caste

Buddhi: The determinative faculty of mind

Chakra: Subtle center of consciousness at different levels

Chit: Consciousness

Dasanami: Ten renunciate orders founded by Sri Shankaracharya

Daya: Compassion

Deva: Shining One, refers to God or deity

Devi: Goddess, Shakti deity

Dharma: What sustains, way of righteousness, religion

Dhyana: Concentration, meditation

Dipavali: Row of lights, Hindu festival to celebrate the return of Lord

Rama from exile

Ganges: India’s most sacred river

Grihastha ashrama: Householder law and family code of conduct

Guna: Strand, quality (inherent from birth)

Guru: One who removes darkness of ignorance, spiritual preceptor

Hatha-Yoga: A school of yoga that chiefly aims at physical well-being

and exercises

Ida: Feminine psychic current flowing along the Kundalini energy

Ishta Deva: Chosen family or personal deity

Japa: Recitation of Lord’s name

Jnana: spiritual knowledge or wisdom

Kalpa: Time period in Hindu scriptures

Karma: Action, deed, in Hindu philosophy it refers to the consequences

of the deeds performed

Kartikeya: Son of Lord Shiva, also known as Skanda, Murgan,


Kriya: Religious rite or ceremony

Kundalini: Coiled latent cosmic serpent power, awakened with yoga


Mahaprasthna: Great departure, death

Mahatma: Great, enlightened soul

Mahayuga: Time period in Hindu scriptures

Mantra: Mystic sound syllable endowed with spiritual energy, Vedic hymn

Mauna: Vow of silence

Maya: Illusion, God’s ever-changing manifestations of the creation

Moksha: Salvation, in Hindu philosophy liberation from recurrent birth/death cycles

Murti: Image, icon, or effigy of God

Nirguna: (God) Without attributes and form

Nirvana: Absorption in the Absolute Transcendental, liberation

Nirvikalpa samadhi: The realization of Self, a state of oneness with Supreme

Ota-prota: pervading in all the creation

Papa: Wickedness or sin

Para: Perfect

Paramhansa: Highly evolved soul

Pingala: Masculine psychic current flowing along the kundalini


Prakruti: Primordial nature, the material substratum of the creation

Prana: Vital energy, life principle, also refers to breath

Pranayama: Breath control by yoga technique

Prayaschitta: Penance, acts of atonement for mitigating the effects of


Puja: Worship and adoration ceremony

Pujari: Hindu temple priest, anyone who performs the worship


Punarjanma: Reincarnation, taking birth again and again

Punya Bhumi: Holy land

Punya: Virtuous, auspicious actions

Purana: Ancient lore of Hindu folk narratives

Rajsic: Active, materialistic

Rishi: Enlightened soul with spiritual wisdom

Rita/Ruta: Hindu god of order

Sadhana: Religious or spiritual discipline and meditation toward super conscious God-realizationSadhu: Holy man, Hindu monk

Saguna: (God) With attributes and form

Sahan-Shakti: Tolerance

Samadhi: Ecstasy, communion with God

Sampardaya: Sect

Samsara: The phenomenal world fraught with recurrent birth and death cycles

Samskara: Hindu sacraments and rites marking significant stages of life, creating mental impression

Sanatana Dharma: Eternal religion of Hindu philosophy

Sanyasa: Renunciation, refers to those who have renounced household aspirations and obligations

Sanyasin: One who has renounced, Hindu monk, swami

Sanskrit: The classical language of sacred Hindu scriptures

Sanstha: Organization

Saraswati: Goddess of arts and learning, sacred river of ancient Hindu civilization

Satguru: Spiritual preceptor of highest attainment

Sattvic:Noble auspicious

Satya: Truth

Self: Refers to the Supreme Being at the core of every soul

Self Realization: Direct knowing of the Supreme God, the ultimate spiritual experience

Seva: Service, selfless work considered an integral part of spiritual path

Shanti: Peace

Shastra: Scripture

Shraddha: Faith and reverence

Siddha: A perfected one, who attains supernatural powers

Sloka: Holy hymn in Hindu scripture

Sumati: Good auspicious mind

Swadharma: One’s own set of duties

Swami: Hindu monk, who knows spiritual knowledge, one who is master of one’s senses

Swastika: Hindu sign of auspiciousness

Tamsic: Indolent, lethargic

Tapas: Austerities and penances associated with spiritual purification

Tilaka: Marks made on forehead with red clay, ash or sandalwood.

Varna: Group, caste in Hindu society

Vasudev Kutumbkam: God’s universal family

Vastu Shastra: Hindu scripture dealing with building construction

Veda: Literally means (spiritual) knowledge or wisdom. Hinduism’s most authentic scripture

Vedanta: Final culmination of the Vedas, refers to the ultimate wisdom and spiritual knowledge

Yajna: Worship sacrifice, offerings in sacred fire altar agni havan-kund

Yama-niyama: Hinduism’s fundamental ethical codes

Yoga: Union with the Divine