Glossary of the Bhagavad Gita
and some other Hindu terms

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adharma Injustice, evil and against moral laws (not dharma).
advaita The supreme Reality. Used in Vedanta which stresses the unity of the Self (Atman) and Brahman. (without a second)
ahamkara Self will, separateness.
ahimsa Nonviolence, no injury, wishing no harm (not violence) as taught by Gandhi.
akasha Space and sky; the most subtle of the five elements.
akshara The eternal, Om.
Ananta The cosmic serpent on which Vishnu reclines in rest.
apara Lower knowledge; intellectual knowledge (not eternal)
Arjuna Seeks guidance from Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. One of the five Pandava brothers and an important figure in Indian epic and legend.
Aryaman Vedic god and an ancestor of mankind (noble one).
asat Untruth, untrue, unreal, lacking goodness.
ashvattha The pipal tree (like fig) or what is holy and found at temples.
Ashvatthama Drona's son who is a great archer and warrior.
asura Demon or a being with an evil nature.
Atman Divine Soul and Self in every creature.
avatara The descent of God; the incarnation of Vishnu; divine consciousness appearing first in the human heart (down cross).
avidya Ignorance, absence of wisdom, need of knowledge (not wisdom).
avyaya Changeless, eternal
Bhagavad Gita Hindu scripture of Krishna advising Arjuna (Lord song, The Song of the Lord)
bhakti Devotion, worship, love.
bhakti yoga The Way of Love.
Bhishma Kaurava dynasty elder who lets himself be killed by Arjuna in the Mahabharata battle.
Brahma Creator God who stands alongside preserver Vishnu and Destroyer Shiva. Not the same as Brahman.
brahmacharya self control, purity (conduct leading to God).
Brahman Highest God, supreme Reality, ground of being, impersonal God.
brahmanirvana Spiritual goal; union with eternity, union in Brahman (nirvana in Brahman).
Brahmavidya The science of knowing Brahman.
brahmin Person of the priestly/ learned class (person who strives to know Brahman).
Bhrigu A sage in ancient legend.
Brihaspati The guru/ priest of the gods.
Buddha Siddhartha Gautama Shakyamuni when enlightened (The awakened one).
buddhi Discriminating in the understanding of the correct view or correct purpose through true intelligence.
Chitraratha King of Gandharvas (having a bright chariot).
daivam Divine will, destiny.
deva A god. Immortal but like mortals in behaviour.
devi Goddess that is immortal but like a mortal.
dharma The universal law that unifies, duty.
Dhritarashtra Being blind since birth Dhritarashtra has never been enthroned as the rightful king of the Kurus, but is the effective ruler. The whole Bhagavad Gita is a narration told by Sanjaya to the blind king, whose sons are the Kauravas.
Draupadi The royal princess who married each of the five Pandava brothers.
Drona A brahmin, then warrior, and later general of the Kaurava army. Teacher of the royal princes. He taught the heroes of the Mahabharata war skills.
duhkha Suffering, pain, sadness.
Gandharva Heavenly musicians who are demigods, sensitive, proud, handsome and amorous.
Gandiva Arjuna's bow, a gift from the god offire.
Ganges The sacred river.
Garuda Vishnu's great eagle.
gayatri Metre used in Vedic hymns and especially a prayer to the sun.
Gita Shorter name of the Bhagavad Gita (the Song).
Guna The three qualities making up phenomena: sattva (law, harmony, purity, goodness - can say, "It is sattvic."), rajas (energy, passion - can say, "It is rajasic."), and tamas (inertia, ignorance - can say, "It is tamasi.").
guru A spiritual mentor.
Hastinapura Capital of the Pandavas and descendents, about sixty miles northeast of Delhi (city of the elephants).
Hari Vishnu or Krishna.
Himalaya Mountain range home of Shiva and other gods (hima, laya is snow, abode).
Ikshvaku Son of Manu, founder of the great Solar Dynasty of kings.
Indra The god of storms and battle. Indra is the chief of the gods (devas) in the Veda, but his place declines afterwards.
Ishvara The Lord, God.
Janaka Ancient effective king and a holy sage too.
Janardana Krishna (he who stirs up the people).
jiva Living soul but one which is separate from Atman, the eternal Soul, Living being.
jnana Wisdom, spiritual knowing (jna is to know).
jnana yoga The path of Wisdom.
kalpa One Day of Brahma or 1000 great yugas meaning 4320 million years.
kama Many forms of desire and craving and Kamadeva personifies this.
Kamadhuk The cow of wishes who grants all desires.
Kapila First teacher of Sankhya philosophy.
karma Cause and effect process (from kri meaning to do).
karma yoga Doing action and selfless service.
Karna Brave warrior in Mahabharata but short mention in the Bhagavad Gita.
Kauravas Duryodhana and brothers, seen as wicked usurpers, greedy for wealth and power, and enemies of the Pandavas brothers, who are the good guys. They fight the Pandavas for the ancient throne of Hastinapura. The battle to decide their conflict is ready to commence in the Bhagavad Gita (the sons of Kuru).
Kripa Teacher of the royal family and warrior.
Krishna Incarnation of Vishnu to restore dharma and who personifies spiritual love in everyone. Krishna is the friend and advisor of Arjuna (in the Bhagavad Gita) and the other Pandava brothers (either black or to krish to draw or be attractive).
kshatriya ruling class warrior or princethe .
kshetra A field, a place, a sacred place or temple.
Kubera God of wealth.
kundalini Spiritual or evolutionary energy, coiled at the base of the spine and, according to yogi texts, to be brought out by meditation and yoga so that it can rise up and activate higher centres of con-sciousness (The serpent power).
Kurukshetra Site of the Mahabharata battle
lila game Krishna in divine play disguises himself as someone in the world (The field of the Kurus).
Madhava Krishna (the descendant of Madhu).
Madhusudana Krishna, because he killed the demon Madhu (Slayer of Madhu).
Mahabharata The great Indian epic from 2,500 years ago, traditionally written by Vyasa. It tells of the deep conflict between the descendants of Pandu (the forces of light) and Dhritarashtra (the forces of darkness).
manas That which receives and retains sensory impressions, which we call the mind.
mantra/ mantram Reading and speaking a phrase repetitively because it has a spiritual effect.
Manu The first man of humankind.
Marichi A demigod in the Vedas (particle of light)
Maya appearance instead of reality but also from the creative power of God.
Meru A mountain at the centre of the world/ cosmos. It is a place of beauty in both cities and gardens.
Mira A medieval Indian female saint who gave songs to Krishna.
moksha Liberation, salvation, illumination.
Nakula A younger Pandava brother.
Narada The divine musician and sage and devotee to Krishna.
Nirvana No further separateness of the soul (nir, vana, out, to blow; that is blowout).
nirvikalpa samadhi Pure state of awareness beyond all dualities and within God.
Om/ Aum Holy Word for God (Brahman) repeated in meditation as taught in the Upanishads.
Pandavas Arjuna and brothers, Yudhishthira, Bhima, Nakula, and Sahadeva, enemies of Kauravas, and about to fight to a conclusion in the Bhagavad Gita (the sons of Pandu).
Partha Arjuna or his brothers Bhima and Yudhishthira (son of Pritha).
Patanjali The author of the Yoga Sutras which teach mediation through to self-realisation using raja yoga. He lived around the 100s B.C.E.
Pavaka God of fire (the purifier).
Prahlada A demon prince yet devoted to Vishnu.
Prajapati One great Father of all creatures, although there can be seven or more creating fathers or sages (lord of offspring).
prajna Transcendental knowing from meditation (jna, to know).
prakriti Forming energy of mental and physical worlds; nature.
prana Vital force, breath of life.
Pritha (or Kunti) Arjuna's mother thus he can be Partha (son of Pritha).
Purusha The Atman or spiritual soul (person) and the Bhagavad Gita uses both.
Purushottama Supreme Being (highest person).
raja yoga Patanjali taught this meditation as in the Yoga Sutras (the Royal Path).
rajas Energy or passion being one of the three guna qualities making up phenomena.
Rama An incarnation of Vishnu being the son of Dasharatha (king of Ayodhya), the prince who killed the evil demon Ravana to get his wife Sita back (Prince of Joy).
Rik Oldest of the four Vedas.
Rudras Either a group of gods or a single one dealing with destruction which replaced Shiva in later Hinduism.
sadhana A body of disciplines or way of life going to total self realisation.
sadhu Holy man or sage.
Sahadeva A younger brother of the Pandavas.
Sama One of the four Vedas with songs and chants.
samadhi Concentration bringing consciousness in line with God.
samsara Birth, decay, death and rebirth which forms the cycle nirvana is meant to end.
Sanjaya From divine perception he told the Bhagavad Gita to Dhritarashtra.
Sankhya This Hindu philosophy (one of six) teaches the ultimate separation and thus liberation of the individual purusha (spirit) from prakriti (mind and matter).
sannyasa Renunciation.
sat Truth, good, reality (to be)
sattva One of the three qualities making up phenomena, this being law, harmony, purity and goodness.
satya Truth and truthful, good and the Good, eg satyagraha
savikalpa samddhi Meditation state where awareness of object and subject remain and where there is not total unity with God (having distinctions, admitting separateness).
Shakti Feminine side of God or the divine mother, power.
shama peace from deep meditation.
Shankara Shiva (giver of peace).
Shiva Destroys and conquers death coming after Brahma, the Creator, and Vishnu, the preserver.
shraddha Faith.
shudra A worker or servant, being the fourth Hindu caste.
Skanda A god and son of Shiva and being general of the divine forces against the demons.
soma the drink of the gods used in Vedic ritual.
Sri Lord or holy and often placed before Krishna.
svadharma Individual dharma and therefore the duty appropriate to a person.
tamas One of the three qualities making up phenomena, being inertia or ignorance.
tapas Where having self control delivers spiritual strength.
tyaga Renunciation.
Upanishads Heard or revelatory documents at the end of each of the four vedas.
Ushanas A sage and poet in the Vedas.
varna One of the four castes of traditional Hindu society.
Varuna God of waters and the ocean who in the Veda is the moral overseer of the world.
Vasuki The king of the serpents who lives in the under world and balances the world on his serpent hood.
Veda The most ancient scriptures in Sanskrit being heard as knowledge from God to the mystics (vid, to know).
vidya Knowledge, wisdom in general or a science/ field of study.
vijnana Knowledge, judgment, understanding.
Vishnu The Preserver (after Brahma the creator and before Shiva the destroyer) who always becomes incarnate in every age for dharma and the welfare of all.
Vivasvat The ancestor of mankind who is also the sun god and is the father of Manu.
Vrishni A clan in north India which completely perished at the end of Krishna's life when their city, Dvaraka, disppeared into the sea.
Vyasa The father of both Dhritarashtra and Pandu, who gave Sanjaya the mystic vision to give the dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna, and so is regarded as the author of the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad Gita.
yajna Offering, sacrifice and worship.
Yajur One of the four Vedas.
yoga A discipline to realise the union with God and all life and also one of the six branches of Hindu philosophy as is Sankhya (yuj, to unite).
yogi Person carrying out a spiritual discipline.
Yudhishthira Arjuna's elder brother, who kept to the dharma.
yuga The world goes through 1000 yuga-cycles during one kalpa (a day of Brahma). There are four parts to a yuga-cycle, representing deterioration. First is Krita yuga or the age of perfection, and then treta yuga, followed by dvapara, after which Krishna was made incarnate, and finally the fourth and final yuga, kali happens, where creation is the most deteriorated (yuga is from a game of dice).