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Glossary: A

Abhay

lit., “fearless.” The name given to Srila Prabhupada, the founder of the Krishna consciousness movement at birth ("Abhay Charan").

abhidheya

the stage of performing regulated activities to revive one’s relationship with the Lord.

abhijna

self-knowing, or fully cognizant.

abhimana

“False identification” with a material body.

Abhimanyu

The only son of Arjuna and Subhadra. He was a promising heir to the Kuru dynasty but died in the Battle of Kurukshetra while still in his teens. He left his widow, Uttara, pregnant with Parikshit.

abhiras

A degraded tribe of nomadic cowherds. The gopas of Vraja are sometimes disparagingly called Abhiras even though they are actually proper vaishyas.

abhisheka

A ceremonial bath performed in the worship of a Deity or the coronation of a king.

accha

a common Hindi expression meaning, “I see,” or “Is that so?”. Can also mean "Good," as in agreement.

achamana

purification by water and mantra.

acharya

One who teaches by personal example. Acaryas in the pure Vaishnava line instruct people and initiate them into the Supreme Lord’s devotional service.

achintya

inconceivable.

achintya-shakti

inconceivable potency.

achyuta

Krishna or Vishnu, “who never falls.”

adhibautika (-klesha)

miseries caused by other living entities.

adhidhaivika (-klesha)

miseries caused by demigods (natural disasters, etc.).

adhikari

one who is qualified. (Adhikara, qualification.)

adhira

one who is not sober or whose senses are not controlled.

adhokshaja

a name of Lord Vishnu, meaning “He who is beyond the reach of the material senses.”

adhyatmic
anglicized derivative of the Sanskrit word adhyatmika, “miseries caused by one’s own body and mind.”

adhyatmika (-klesha)

miseries caused by one’s own body and mind.

adi-guru

The first spiritual master of a disciplic succession.

adi-lila

initial pastimes. Refers specifically here to the first twenty-four years of Lord Chaitanya’s pastimes; the portion of the Chaitanya-charitamrita recounting those pastimes.

Aditi

Daksha’s oldest daughter, a wife of Kashyapa. She gave birth to twelve sons, including the eleven principal demigods (such as Surya, Varuna, and Indra) and the Supreme Personality of Godhead Lord Vamana.

Adityas

Aditi’s twelve sons: Surya, Aryama, Pusha, Tvashta, Savita, Bhaga, Dhata, Vidhata, Varuna, Mitra, Indra, and Lord Vamana. They rule the universe as the principal demigods during the period of the current Manu, Vaivasvata.

Advaita-vadis

Proponents of the impersonal philosophy of “oneness,” which claims that the Absolute Truth, one without a second, is ultimately formless and that whatever has name and form is an illusion falsely imposed on that impersonal Absolute Truth. See Mayavadis.

Agamas

See tantras.

Agha (-asura)

A demon who assumed the form of a huge python, swallowed Krishna and the cowherd boys, but was killed by Krishna.

agni

The principal demigod who rules fire.

agnihotra

The first and simplest Vedic fire sacrifice, to be performed daily at sunrise and sunset by initiated brahmanas. It is also a subsidiary ritual within each of the more complex sacrifices (yajnas). Often the term agnihotra is used to indicate fire sacrifices in general.

aguru

Aquilaia agallocha, a large evergreen tree with fragrant wood. An auspicious fragrance derived from the wood of the aloe tree (not the same as Aloe vera).

aham brahmasmi

Sanskrit for “I am spirit.”

ahankara

“False ego,” the first and most subtle of the separated elements of material creation. By its infiuence, conditioned souls assume temporary material identities.

ahimsa

nonviolence.

Airavata

The elephant who carries Lord Indra. Airavata appeared from the churning of the Milk Ocean and has four tusks and seven trunks.

aishvarya

majesty, opulence.

Ajamila

A brahmana whose attraction to a prostitute led him into sinful life but who was saved by his deathbed cries for his son Narayana, cries that brought the messengers of Lord Narayana to stop those of Yamaraja from dragging him to hell.

akinchana

without material desires.

Akrura

A distant relative whom Krishna considered His uncle and who on Kamsa’s order brought Krishna and Balarama from Vraja to Mathura.

akshara

lit., “imperishable,” refers to the Supreme Lord.

Alabandaru

The Tamil name of Yamunacharya. See Yamuna (-acharya).

Amala-purana

lit., “spotless Purana”; refers to Srimad-Bhagavatam.

Ambarisha

A saintly Vaishnava king famous for using all his resources and bodily activities in devotional service to the Supreme Lord. Angered by a minor accidental fault of the king’s, the sage Durvasa tried to kill him, but Lord Vishnu sent the Sudarshana disc to attack Durvasa, who finally had to beg the king’s forgiveness.

amrita

The “nectar of immortality” that demigods in Svarga drink to give them fabulously long lives.

ananda

bliss or happiness.

Ananta (Ananta Sesha, Sesha Naga)

1. An expansion of God who appears as a serpent with thousands of heads and who serves as the bed of Lord Vishnu. Ananta Sesha holds all the planets of the universe on His hoods and constantly sings the glories of Vishnu from all His mouths. 2. Unlimited.

anartha

unwanted things; material desire.

anartha-nivritti

the cleansing of unwanted things from the heart.

Andhras

Residents of Andhra Pradesh, the province of southeastern India above Tamil Nadu.

Angada

One of the leaders of the monkey army that helped Lord Ramachandra defeat Ravana.

anima-siddhi

The yogic perfection of making oneself smaller than an atom.

Aniruddha

A son of Pradyumna and grandson of Krishna. Aniruddha’s eternal consort, Usha, sequestered him in the palace of her father, Bana, where Aniruddha was captured and had to be rescued by Krishna, Balarama, and the Yadava army. He appears in Dvaraka and Mathura as the fourth of the original quadruple vyuha expansions of the Supreme Lord, and He again expands from Lord Narayana in Vaikuntha, in the second quadruple, as the ruler of intelligence.

annakuta

the ceremony of offering grains; Refers to the ceremony of offering grains to Govardhana Hill.

anna-maya

According to the Taittiriya Upanishad, the lowest level of consciousness in embodied life, the level in which one lives just to eat.

antya-lila

the last eighteen years of Lord Chaitanya’s manifest pastimes; the portion of the Chaitanya-charitamrita recounting those pastimes.

anubhava

the ecstatic symptoms that follow from and increase one’s main relationship with Krishna.

anyabhilashita-shunyam

Srila Rupa Goswami’s definition of pure devotional service as being free from any other desire.

aparadha

An offense, especially against the Supreme Lord or His devotees.

apaurusheya-shabda

knowledge from a divine source.

aprakata-lila

Krishna’s “unmanifest pastimes,” which go on eternally in His abodes, all simultaneously, but are invisible except to rare, fortunate souls. In contrast, His prakata, or “manifest,” pastimes are visible to the public but only at specific times in a linear sequence of events.

aprakrita

unmanifest.

Apsaras

The dancing girls of heaven, wives of Gandharvas, sometimes engaged by Indra to distract yogis from their meditations.

Aranyakas

The parts of the original Vedas that give more esoteric explanations than do the Brahmanas. The Aranyakas are meant for renunciants to study in the forest (aranya). The Upanishads are chapters of the Aranyakas that explain the philosophical essence of the Vedas.

arati

A standard ceremony of worship with offerings of lamps, fans, incense, fiowers, bathing water, and other items. Its origin is the custom of greeting a guest to one’s home at night (a-ratrikam) with a lamp.

aravinda

a species of lotus that blooms during the day and closes at night.

archana

the process of Deity worship.

archa-vigraha

Deity.

arghya

Water mixed with auspicious substances and offered to an honored guest, either sprinkled on their head or offered into their hands.

Arishta

A demon who assumed the form of a bull, attacked Vraja, and was killed by Krishna.

Arjuna

The third of the five Pandava brothers. A great bowman, he figured prominently in winning the Kurukshetra battle, with Krishna driving his chariot. It was to Arjuna that Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-gita just before the battle.

arjuna trees

Two trees of the arjuna species that stood in the courtyard of Nanda Maharaja until Krishna uprooted them. Formerly sons of Kuvera, they had been cursed to stand as trees until delivered by Krishna.

arka

A large-leafed plant whose leaves are used in sacred rituals.

Arshtishena

The chief among the citizens of Kimpurusha-varsha, who have bodies half human and half animal.

artha

Economic development, one of the four standard goals of human life.

artha-vada

The statements of shruti that praise, encourage, or explain rather than enjoin ritual duties. The term is sometimes used perjoratively to indicate flowery praise that cannot be taken literally.

arya

A civilized human being, one who lives according to the standards of the Vedic culture.

Aryama

The chief of the departed forefathers residing in Pitaloka. He sometimes stands in for Yamaraja, the judge of the dead.

Aryans

Persons living according to the cultured standards of Vedic civilization.

Aryavarta

The “home of the Aryans,” comprising the part of India bounded by seas on the west and east, by the Himalaya Mountains on the north, and by the Vindhya Mountains on the south.

asanas

Postures assumed in yoga practice to purify the body and mind; a seat.

asakti

attachment for Krishna.

asat

temporary; without factual existence.

ashoka

Saraca indica, blooming in early March, ashoka flowers are crimson and blossom in bunches. It is said to flower upon being touched by a beautiful woman’s feet.

ashoka grove

The garden where Ravana kept Sitadevi captive, guarded by Rakshasis.

ashrama

1. The hermitage of a sage or teacher. 2. One of the four stages of spiritual development in the varnashrama social system: brahmacharya (celibate student life), grihastha (marriage), vanaprastha (retirement), and sannyasa (the renounced order).

ashraya

shelter.

ashtanga-yoga

The eight-phase system of yoga practice taught by the sage Patanjali in his Yoga-sutras.

ashta-sattvika

the eight-fold bodily transformations of ecstatic love for Krishna.

ashvamedha

The elaborate Vedic horse sacrifice.

Ashvatthama

The son of Dronacharya who fought against the Pandavas at Kurukshetra. In a desperate act of revenge at the end of the battle, he killed the five young sons of the Pandavas in their sleep and tried to kill the last remaining heir, Parikshit, in his mother’s womb.

asura

demon or ungodly person, who oppose the demigods and the service of the Lord.

asuric

demoniac.

atasi flower

linum usitatissimum, flax, a plant with lance-shaped leaves that produces pretty sky blue or violet-blue flowers each spring and summer.

atimukta flowers

a type of jasmine.

atma

The individual spirit soul, an eternal fragment of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

atmarama

those who find their pleasure in experiencing the self.

atma-tattva

knowledge of the self.

Atri

A Vedic sage, born of the mind of Brahma. When Atri prayed to the Supreme for a son like Him, but without a clear idea of who the Supreme is, the Lords Vishnu, Brahma, and Siva all agreed to become his sons—as Dattatreya, Soma, and Durvasa.

avadhuta

a spiritually advanced person whose activities are not restricted by social convention.

Avanti

One of the seven sacred cities that can bestow liberation. Krishna’s spiritual master, Sandipani Muni, resided there, and Krishna and Balarama lived there as students in his ashrama. Avanti has become the modern city of Ujjain, in the western part of Madhya Pradesh.

avatara

A “descent” of the Supreme Lord to the material world in one of His many forms.

avatari

The original Supreme Lord, from whom all avataras expand.

avidya

ignorance.

Ayodhya

The capital of the Koshala kingdom, inherited by Lord Ramachandra from His ancestors. It is located in south-central Uttar Pradesh. The original Ayodhya in the eternal kingdom of God lies above the other Vaikuntha worlds and below Goloka Vrindavana.