A General Glossary of Vedic and Tantric Terminology 

Abhava "non existence", the spaces between each individual moment in the field of time. One of four phases in the process of creation and dissolution which maintain the continuity of existence from one moment to the next.

Abhinivesa the fear of disconnection from individual identity, the fear of death, the fear of the inevitable end of a particular aspect of ever changing relativity. Abhinivesa is the ultimate cause of the experience of suffering

Acharya "teacher", expounded of knowledge

Adharma a state of Maya in which perception is contrary to reality. The action of going against Dharma, or natural Law

Adi "first, original or true"

Adishankara the founder of the Advaita Vedanta Darshana, The final school of Vedic philosophy

Advaita "non dual"

Aghora "without ignorance" or "without darkness", a name for particular type of tantric practitioner, who generally is unclothed representing the lack of the veil of ignorance.

Ahimsa the principle of non-violence, one of the "Yamas" from Patanjali's Astanga Yoga which cultivates the idea of unity among all beings

AIM the Bija mantra(seed sound) of Sarasvati, the universe in the form of creative intelligence

Agni the "fire" of creation and transformation. In the Vedas, Agni is an allegory of the universe as a constantly evolving expression of The union of Purusha and Prakriti. Also one of the five "Mahabhutas", representing fire.

Ahamkara "Identity" or "Identification". literally "I maker" the most subtle aspect of individuality. The idea of separateness often referred to as "ego"

Akasha the mahabhuta "space" or "ether", the field in which creation occurs and thus exists.

Akshara the syllables of the Sanskrit alphabet which act as the building blocks creation in its most subtle aspect, sound

Amrita "immortality" also referred to as the "divine nectar of immortatality",  equivilant to Soma.

Ānanda "bliss", in Vedanta, Ananda is synonymous with Brahm. Ananda is the experience of Brahm

Ānandamaya(Kosha) the "bliss" sheath, the causal state of a living being consisting of Jivatma

Ananta "without end", infinite or eternal, also a name for Vinshu, also a name for the serpent upon which Vishnu lies, a reference to Kundalini Shakti, the "mother of all creation"

Annamaya(Kosha) the "food" sheath, the gross physical body which is made from materials extracted from food

Antahkarana "the inner instrument", the aspect of human consciousness which allows for free will made up of the Budhi, Ahamkara, Manas and Chitta

Apana the downward direction of physiological Prana

Apas see Jala

Aroha the ascent or ascending arc of Consciousness(in e form of Buddhi) from lower to higher states

Aroha(Pathway) the ascending pathway within a living being with an advanced nervous system

Asana literally "seat" the posture of meditation or pose in which meditation in experienced

Ashtanga the "eight-limbed" system of Yoga expounded by Patanjali

Atma the fundamental level of Being, the simplest form of awareness. The individualized idea of Brahm or Purusha.

AUM the primordial sound of the universe representing the gunas together in their causal state. The sum of all possibilities and all probabilities.

Avaroha the descent, or descending arc of Consciousness(in the form of Buddhi) from subtle to gross forms

Avaroha(Pathway) the descending pathway within a living being with an advanced nervous system

Avatar an incarnation of Vishnu, a divine being incarnated to preserve and uphold Dharma(evolution, Natural Law) in relationship to mankind. An expression of the descent of Pure Consciousness into gross form, while retaining awareness of Itself as Pure Consciousness

Avidya the state of existence, without recognition of existence, ignorance

Avyakta the unmanifest state

Ayurveda the "Science of Life", a system of knowledge related to the knowing of all processes related to the lifespan of a living being

Bhagavad Gita "the song of God" the sacred chapter from Mahabharata in which Lord Krishna gives the exposition of Karma Yoga to Arjuna

Bhagavan Chetana "God Consciousness" the sixth state of human consciousness in which an individual experiences all things in their true nature, from the point of view of both Purusha and Prakriti. Correlates to the arrival of The Kundalini in Ajna Chakra

Bhajan a devotional song, hymn, or chant

Bhakti the act of devotion

Bhakti Yoga the path of yoga involving intense concentration in the form of devotion

Bija "seed" the result of Bindu, the individualized expression of Nada. The "seed" of a more complex idea which contains the essence of the whole idea

Bijashara a Bija mantra, a seed mantra containing the complete idea of the Ishtar Devata in its most condensed and consise form.

Bindu the process of becoming individual. Bindu means point, the process of something being distinguished as specific in relation to the whole. The tantric equivalent of Soma, from the perspective of Totality, whereas Soma is from the perspective of relativity.

Brahm in Vedanta philosophy Brahm is the idea of Totality, the sum of all probabilities and all Possibilitites, beyond name and form, beyond attributes and qualities, and devoid of creation and dissolution.

Brahman In Sanatam Dharma, Brahman is the personification of Rajo guna, the creator of the universe.

Brahmana "silence" an allegory for the field in which the universe exists in as the form of sound, also a particular group of commentaries on the Vedas

Brahmacharya one who "demonstrates" Brahma. Usually thought of as the act of celibacy, as a means to preserve the individual essence(ojas) for spiritual practices. One of the "Yamas" in Patanjali Yoga

Brahmavidya the knowledge of ultimate reality(Brahm)

Brahmi Chetana the pinnacle of human consciousness. Brahmi Chetana is the final state in human evolution where the individual is completely identified with Brahm, totality, and all experiences are perceived in terms of Brahm. In Tantra, this state of consciousness correlates with the arrival of the Kundalini Shakti in Sahasrara Chakra

Budhi the intellect. The aspect of individual consciousness which distinguishes and decides the direction of individual attention. Bhudi is also refers to as Mahat(the great cosmic mind) and Kundalini Shakti

Chakra "wheel" a dynamic field created by the meeting of two or more Nadis within the physiology

Chandas an allegory for time and space, the objective universe. Chandas is also the meter of which the verses of the Veda are chanted. Chandas gives the physical form to the Vedas in time and space.

Chetana individual consciousness or awareness or attention, the manner in which the attention is directed

Chitta Shakti "mental power" the energy of mental faculties, which is conducted through Ida Nadi

Chitta the "field" or range of consciousness experienced by a being

Dasavatara the10 incarnations or avatars of Vishnu

Devata the field of action. A law of nature, most often personified as a deity

Devi the divine in "feminine" form

Dharana the concentration or direction of attention in a specific manner, such as on an object of meditation, the ability to direct Buddhi

Dharma the natural cycle of evolution. The cyclical process of the gunas fulfilling themselves. Also refers to the particular path of an individual which furthers evolution or involution.

Dhatu a tissue system of the physical body of which there are seven which forms the Annamaya Kosha. The Dhatus are stages of digested food

Dhyana the result of Dharana, in where the attention spontaneously and automatically is directed at the object of meditation. Dhyana results from the experience of one witnessing their own performance of the action of Dharana

Diksha the process of instruction or initiation into a particular tradition or lineage

Dosha "impurity" one of three physiological humors which synergistically create the physiology of living beings

Durga an aspect of Devi in her protective state.

Dvapar Yuga "The Copper Age" the age in which human consciousness relates to 1/2 of it's natural potential or Dharma.

Gandharva a particular type of celestial being related to the act of creation through particular sequences of sound in the form of music. The classical music system of the Vedas

Guna literally "quality" one of 3 specific conditions necessary for manifest creation. It is by and through the gunas that creation exists.

Gandha the causal state of smell

Ganesha the principle of creative intelligence responsible for creating and maintaining space, the elephant headed son of Siva and Parvati, the personification of wisdom

Gayatri the full manifestation of the divine, the culmination of all intelligence(Sarasvati), and all processes(Savitri)

Guru "important", "heavy", teacher, or "dispeller of darkness", the name for the planet Jupiter or the Devata associated with Jupiter

Hanuman the personification of devotion. The monkey faced deity who became invincible through his devotion to Rama and Sita

Hatha "sun" and "moon", an allegory for the physical body based on its existence through polarity

Hatha Yoga a type of yoga which focuses on the balancing and uniting of Prana and Apana, the two opposing energies within which the physical body exists through specific physical and mental practices

Ida Nadi the principle Nadi on the left side of the body, which is the conductor of "Chitta Shakti" or mental energy, also referred to as the lunar Nadi

Indriya the manner in which the mind externalizes itself through the sense organs and organs of action, one of the sense organs or organs of action, the gross expression of the tanmatras

Istha "preferred" or "cherished"

Istha Devata a personally chosen aspect of creative intelligence for the direction of attention and meditation

Ishvara "Lord" or "Master" a reference to Siva, or any personality of creative intelligence, or Pure Consciousness itself

Ishvara Pranidhah the surrender to Ishvara, the experience of lack of resistance towards any aspect of creation, an experience of unity. A "Niyama" of Patanjali Yoga

Jagrit Chetana the third state of consciousness, the waking state of existence

Jala "water" the liquid phase of the Mahabhutas, the state of internal integrity

Japa a yogic practice which consists of the repetition of a sound, name or idea pertaining to the absolute or the divine.

Jiva the culmination of an individual's collective Samskaras. The essence or "soul" of the individual

Jivatma the contents of Anandamaya Kosha. The combination of the individual Jiva, combined with Atma, Pure Consciousness

Jna pure knowledge

Jnana knowledge of the difference between absolute and relative

Jnana Yoga a type of yoga where the principle means of achieving yoga is by the understanding of the intellect and its processes in relation to the individual and their Samskaras

Jyotish the "science of light" the science of predicting probabilities based on mathematical calculations in time and space, known also as Vedic Asatrology

Kaivalya "oneness" "liberated" the state of ultimate liberation, the perception of the universe beyond duality

Kala time

Kali "the creator of time" an aspect of Devi responsible for liberation through the destruction of illusion. An aspect or result of Durga.

Kali Yuga "the iron age" the age in which human consciousness reflects 1/4 of its original Dharma

Kalpa a "day" of Brahma, 1000 Yugas

Kanda literally "bulb", the first 3 chakras which contain the Samskaras of the individual

Kapha the physiological "water" humor, representing the coherent structure of the body, physiological "dampness" or phlegm

Karma action, the process of creation. The law of the relationship between cause and effect.

Karmashaya the psychic storehouse of Karma as impressions(Samskara), located in Muladhara Chakra

Karuna divine compassion

Karya the "effect", the result of Satkarya, or "cause".

Kirtan devotional singing or songs of worship

Kosha "sheath" one of the five levels of individual physiology

Kshetra "field" a point on the physical body which allows for access to a chakra

Kundalini the tantric term for Mahat, the individualized expression of pure consciousness(Purusha) as the form of individual attention or individual awareness(Prakriti)

Lakshmi the "Goddes of wealth" the aspect of creative intelligence responsible for the fulfillment of an idea into form

Lakshmi Nadi a major Nadi of the physiology responsible for the realization of thoughts, whose contents originate in the Kanda

Lalita "She who plays" an aspect of Devi as the divine play of existence

Lila the divine play of existence

Lingam the male phallus, an allegory for Purusha

Loka "sphere" or "realm" of existence. A particular state of the intellect(Budhi) which reflects its level of development from gross to subtle. There are seven Lokas, or realms of consciousness which correlate to the location of The Kundalini in specific Chakras.

Maha "great"

Maharishi(Maharshi) "great seer"

Mahabhuta one of the five phases of matter

Mahabharata one of the two epic works of ancient India from Itihasfilled with allegories of the correct performance of Dharma in the form of stories

Mahat in Samkhya philosophy, Mahat is "the great cosmic mind", the product of Purusha and Prakriti, the primary dynamic field of intelligence responsible for manifestation in the form of the Tattvas, Mahat is equivalent to the Kundalini, and Buddhi

Mahesh an aspect of Siva as the destroyer, representing Pralaya, the dissolution of the universe back to its causal state

Mahurta a measurement of time based on 1/30 of the length of time for earth to make a single rotation(24 hours). Approximately 48 minutes. In Jyotish, an auspicious time in which to perform a specific action, to achieve specific results.

Manas the mechanism of "mind" which allows for the expression of individual ideas as specific thoughts. The mechanism which directs thoughts and actions.

Manomaya the sphere of the mind, one of the 5 phases of the physiology

Mantra "the liberation of an idea" an idea brought forth into creation and expressed in the form of sound, the most subtle aspect of creation, existing in the field of Brahmana, or silence. The subtlest aspect of anything physical exists as mantra, it's sound value

Marma"sensitive area" specific locations on or in the physical body, which allows for the access to all of the Koshas. Used as points for meditation in Kriya Yoga, to create jealing in Ayurveda, and in the Indian martial art "Kalari" as specific points to easily cause injury or even death to an opponent.

Maya " illusion" the necessary element which diversifies creation into separate manifestations from one ultimate reality. Synonymous with Prakriti in Samkhya Philosophy

Mula the "root" or base

Mulabandha "the root lock", in Hatha Yoga, one of 3 energetic locks which control the movement of Prana

Mula Prakriti the root of manifestation. The causal state of Prakriti

Mudra "seal" a psychic or physical gesture which influences the flow of Prana. Used in forms of Hatha yoga to subtly and deeply enhance the practice

Nama "name" the name of something. This causal idea of something distinguished in the form of language

Namarupa "name and form"

Nada the original sound of all creation, AUM

Nadi literally "river" the pathways in which physiological Prana is distributed

Nadi Shodhana a beginning pranayama which creates equal activation of Ida and Pingala Nadis causing awareness to infiltrate the Shushumna Nadi and induce a more subtle state of consciousness.

Nakshatra one of 27 distant constellations in Jyotish

Nikara "without form", a meditation technique based on direction of the attention onto the formless and infinite.

Nirguna "without form", "without attributes"

Nimitta Karana the means, as in the relationship between Satkarya or cause, Karya, effect

Nitya "eternal"

Ojas the final and finest product of the digestive process. The "essence" of the Dhatus. In tantric practices, Ojas is converted into Refined Prana(Kundalini) which is then converted to Soma.

OM (see AUM)

PanchaKarma "five actions" a series of Ayurvedic treatments which remove excess Doshas from tissues(Dhatus) to create physiological balance

Paramahamsa "Great Swan" a title bestowed upon an spiritual aspirant who has transcended "hamsa" or the dual nature of relativity(Ham and Sa)

Parashakti synonymous with Kundalini

Pingala Nadi the physiological conduit of Prana Shakti

Pitta the physiological "fire" humor, representing all physiological functions involving transformation, physiological "heat"

Prana the primal energy which forms the basis of all of "Prakriti" or manifest material creation. Also refers to the upward direction of physiological energy in the body.

Pranamaya the "sheath" of Prana, one of the 5 phases of the individuality in the  physiology

Pranashakti the energy flowing through Pingala Nadi, another name for, or form of Kundalini

Prakriti the manifest universe, made up of the 3 gunas

Pralaya the state of dissolution. The end result of Yoga and Vedanta, where individual reality ceases due to the transcendence of duality

Pratham Spandan the "first" sound. The source of creation as sound. A name for "Nada"

Pratyahara "withdrawal from food" the withdrawal of the externalizations of the mind in the form of the senses, resulting in an ability to powerfully direct the attention(Dharana)

Pratyaya the contents of the Chitta or mind, based on the relationship of Buddhi to the Samskaras

Prema "Divine Love"

Prithivi the Mahabhuta(element) or earth. The principle of stability within matter

Puja a ritualized act of worship or devotion

Purusha pure consciousness, the "experiencer"  or "enjoyer" of Prakriti which is inert "experienced" the object of pure consciousness.

Rajas(Rajoguna) the quality of desire to be, the quality which initiates action, the origin of creation


Ramayana one of the two epic works from Itihasa, the story of the hero Ram, an allegory for self realization

Rasa literally "essence" the first Dhatu created in the process of digestion, the plasma part of blood

Rasa(Tanmatra) the essential component of coherence in form, the causal state of perception of coherence in the form of taste

Ravi see Surya

Richa a verse from a hymn of the Vedas

Rishi "knower" or "seer" of ultimate reality. The Rishis are the original authors of the Vedas via cognition of sound sequences, which were heard in subtle states of consciousness. Rishi also refers to fundamental subjectivity as in Rishi, Devata, and Chandas

Rk Veda(Rig Veda) the principle Veda, "knowledge of RK" or all processes within relative creation. The other Vedas exist as an elaboration and commentary on RK Veda.

Rupa the causal state of form. The field of vision.

Sadhana the necessary actions taken on the path towards achieving Siddhi, or perfection in something. A spiritual path.

Sadvichara "right thinking" which arises from "viveka" the ability for correct discernment

Saguna "with form or attributes"

Sakara "with form", a meditation technique based on directing the attention toward a form such as a mantra, or symbol.

Samadhi the state of complete annihilation of individuality. The absorption of individual consciousness with an object of meditation, or with pure consciousness itself in "Nivikalpa" Samadhi

Samkalpa an intention from which the act of creation takes place

Samkhya the "science of enumeration" which gives the cause of existence to be the relationship of Purusha and Prakriti. Samkhya forms the basis of Yoga Philosophy and Ayurveda

Samsara the continuous and eternal cycling of Dharma

Samskara the result of action, the "seed" of the "fruit" of Karma from which new Karma or action is produced.

Sanatam Dharma the original name for Hinduism meaning "the eternal way"

Sarasvati the personification of "Creative Intelligence". An aspect of Devi as the consort of Brahma, the creator. The Goddess of creative arts, music, and speech.

Sarga in Tantra, the initial division between Shiva and Shakti from Bindu which formed all of creation

Satkarya the "cause", in relation to Karya, the "effect"

Satya the act of truthfulness or integrity in action. One of Patanjali's Yamas in Astanga Yoga

Sat Yuga "the golden age" an age where human consciousness is aligned with Universal Dharma. The pinnacle of human consciousness

Shabdha (Tanmatra) the causal form of sound.

ShabdhaBrahmathe most subtle aspect of creation in the form of sound, synonymous with Kundalini, Shakti, Mahat

Shakti the "potential" for creation, the tantric equivalent of Prakriti, also refers to individualized awareness from the perspective of, or in the form of energy. Matter is an expression of energy(Shakti). Shakti represents the consort of Shiva, being the manifest form of pure consciousness, the pure energy which has the ability to create or express any possibility

Shatkarma "six actions" consisting of purification exercises which function as a prerequisite for Hatha Yoga

Shastra a sacred scripture

Shiva the masculine principle, which is responsible for enlivening and directing Prakriti. An allegory for Purusha, pure consciousness. An allegory for the universe, represented by a trident, symbolizing the unity of subject, object and relationship.

Shruti "sacred utterance", the element of creation in sound value

Shtula the gross state of an object

Shthula Sharira the gross body

Shuddhi an act of purification

Shushumna Nadi the central channel of Pranamaya Kosha connecting Muladhara with Sahasrara Chakras. The most important channel in Hatha Yoga and Tantric practices.

Sishya a faithful disciple of a guru

Siddha one who has attained perfection in yoga

Siddhi "perfection" the perfection or attainment of a specific ability which correlates to the the location of the Kundalini, or the state of the intellect. A Siddhi is an ability well within the range of human capability, but seemingly rare as it is only experienced with higher developments of consciousness.

Smriti the principle of memory

Soma the fundamental idea of integrity which is responsible for existence on both an individual and cosmic level

Sparsha the field of perception as tangibility

Sukta a hymn from the Vedic Literature

Sukshma the subtle state

Sukshma Sharira the subtle state of the body, the subconscious, Swapna Chetana

Surya the sun. An allegory for Purusha as the Pure consciousness that pervades all of existence. Synonymous with Ravi

Svapna Chetana the second state of consciousness, the dream state

Svara the natural rhythm of alternating Shakti Patterns through Ida and Pingala Nadis, which occurs every 90 minutes. The Svara is related to the cycles of the moon, and relates to the to the dominant flow of breath in each nostril

Tamas one of the three Gunas, Tamas is the final state in creation where action is has stopped, due to its completion, pr coming to fruit. Tamas represents the quality of inertia

Tanmatra the subtle or causal state of the mahabhutas, the potentiality of the indriyas

Tantra "to expand and liberate" ancient practices which serve to expand individual consciousness to the level of ultimate reality, ultimately liberating the individual from the cycle of Karma

Tattva basic element, or fundamental principle of creation

Tejas "fire" one of the five mahabhutas representing the manifestation and transformation of form

Treta Yuga the "silver age", the age in which human consciousness identifies with 3/4 of its original Dharma

Turya Chetana the fourth state of human consciousness, synonymous with Atma, and Nirvikalpa Samadhi. The state in which the individual identifies with Self or Atma, rather than individuality.

Turyatita Chetana the fifth state of human consciousness, the experience of Turya Chetana in combined with the first three states of consciousness(Shushupti, Svapna, and Jagrat Chetanas)

Vaidya an Ayurvedic physician

Vata the "air" humor, the cause of movement and function in the physical body, physiological "wind"

Vayu "air" one of the five Mahabhutas, the principle of movement within space

Vairaga the state of non attachment or non affinity, the disinterest in objects of the senses

Vaisheshika one of the six Vedic Darshanas containing theories of Realism

Vaikari the manifestation of a thought or idea in the form of speech

Vac "sound" also speech or language

Veda the structuring intelligence of nature, the principle of Natural Law. Also refers to the extensive body of ancient Sanskrit Texts from the "Vedic" era in which this intelligence was recorded as knowledge.

Vedanta "the end of knowledge" the final Darshana of Indian Philosophy expounded by Adishankara

Vibhu "all pervading"

Vibhuti "distinctions" of the all pervading. Equated with "siddhi" in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras

Vijnanamaya(Kosha) the "sheath" or sphere of the intellect, or Buddhi

Vikriti the state of modification from original form

Vishnu the personification of the sustaining aspect of creative intelligence. Vishnu continually incarnates at specific times to elevate human consciousness, or restore Dharma. Traditionally, there are ten Avatars, or incarnations of Vishnu.

Viveka "discrimination", the ability to discern the true eternal nature of existence from the the unreal temporal

Vishnu the preserving aspect of nature. The personification of Sattva Guna, as the God who takes birth to assist the evolution of, and preserve the human race in the form of an Avatara

Vishva the entire manifest universe

Vishvakarma "the Celestial Architech" a personification of the creator of the universe. Vishvakarma is the designer of all Karma or action, and it's infinite courses which makes up the entirety of time and space, the universe from beginning to completion. Also identified with Surya, Brahma

Vishvarupa "Universal Form" an form of Visnu revealed in the Bhagavad Gita through Krishna. The culmination of all probabilities and all possibilities

Vritti a modification in the field of consciousness(Chitta) due to identification with a Samskara

Vyakta "manifest"

Yajna a "pure" act. An act which produces the result of furthering the evolution of an individual. Generally refers to a type of Vedic ceremony which employs specific laws of nature to produce particular results

Yantra a geometrical representation of a fundamental idea expressed in a mantra. A visual mantra.

Yoga the "science of union", any particular practice which leads to the union of individual consciousness with universal consciousness

Yoni the female genitalia, an allegory for Prakriti

Yuga a particular period within Samsara, an "age" in time