Kabir: An Indian mystic of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Kailash(a): “Crystalline;” the name of the mountain home of Siva–a mountain peak in the Himalayas (in present-day Tibet) revered as the abode of Shiva, that is a famous place of pilgrimage.
Kaivalya: Transcendental state of Absolute Independence; Moksha; isolation; final beatitude; emancipation.
Kala: Time; a unit of time; part; aspect; bit; death (or Yama); fate; black.
Kali: “The Black One;” the black-skinned goddess who emerged from the body of Goddess Durga to defeat the demons that were attacking her. She wears a garland of skulls (or severed heads) around her neck and a skirt of severed arms–both symbolizing the sense of egotism. In one hand she wields the sword of spiritual wisdom (prajna) and in the other carries a severed head (ego). Despite her fearsome appearance, her two other hands are held in the gestures (mudras) that indicate: “Fear not” and “Draw near.”
Kali Yuga: The Iron Age. See Yuga.
Kalki: The future–tenth–incarnation (avatar) of Vishnu.
Kalpa: A Day of Brahma–4,320,000,000 years. It alternates with a Night of Brahma of the same length. In the Day of Brahma creation is manifest and in the Night of Brahma is it resolved into its causal state.
Kalpana: Imagination of the mind; the association of name and permanence to objects; presumptive knowledge; assumption; creation.
Kalpataru: “The wish-fulfilling tree.” The celestial tree of Hindu mythology, which grants all that a person standing or sitting under it desires.
Kalpita: Imaginary; created (artificial, unreal); dreamt.
Kalpita bheda: Imaginary difference.
Kalyana: Excellence; auspicious; blessed.
Kama: Desire; passion; lust. Its intensity may range from tepid to raging intensity.
Kamadeva: God of beauty and love; the Vedic Cupid who shoots a bow with flowers instead of arrows.
Kamadhenu: Wish-fulfilling cow produced at the churning of the milk ocean.
Kamadhuk: See Kamadhenu.
Kamala: Lotus; rose colored.
Kamandalu: A water vessel carried by a travelling sannyasi; usually made of a gourd or coconut shell, it may also be earthenware. The kamandalu and staff (danda) are considered the insignia of the sannyasi along with gerua clothing.
Kanda: Section; part; chapter.
Kandarpa: See Kamadeva.
Kapila: The great sage who formulated the Sankhya philosophy which is endorsed by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. (See the entry under Sankhya.)
Karana: Instrument; cause; the efficient or instrumental cause of something; means of accomplishing something.
Karana sharira: The causal body (where the individual rests during sound, deep, dreamless sleep, the intellect, mind and senses being reduced to an unmanifested potential condition), also known as the anandamaya kosha, the “sheath of bliss.”
Karatalabhiksha: Using hands (palms) as the begging bowl.
Karika: Commentary; treatise.
Karma: Karma, derived from the Sanskrit root kri, which means to act, do, or make, means any kind of action, including thought and feeling. It also means the effects of action. Karma is both action and reaction, the metaphysical equivalent of the principle: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). It is karma operating through the law of cause and effect that binds the jiva or the individual soul to the wheel of birth and death.
There are three forms of karma: sanchita, agami, and prarabdha. Sanchita karma is the vast store of accumulated actions done in the past, the fruits of which have not yet been reaped. Agami karma is the action that will be done by the individual in the future. Prarabdha karma is the action that has begun to fructify, the fruit of which is being reaped in this life.
Karma Yoga: The Yoga of selfless (unattached) action; performance of one’s own duty; service of humanity.
Karma Yogi: One who practices karma yoga.
Karma-bandhanam: Karmic bondage; karmic tie.
Karma-kanda: The ritual portion of the Veda. The philosophy that Vedic ritual is the only path to perfection.
Karma-kandi: One who follows the Karma-kanda as philosophy and practice.
Karmaphala: The fruit of actions; the consequence of a deed.
Karma Marga: The path of selfless knowledge leading to union with God.
Karmashaya: The receptacle or mass of karmas; aggregate of works done; latent impression of action which will eventually fructify.
Karmendriya: The five organs of action: voice, hand, foot, organ of excretion, and the organ of generation.
Karta: The doer, the agent–specifically, of action.
Karttikeya: See Subramanya.
Karuna: Mercy; compassion; kindness.
Karyam: “To-be-done;” to be performed; a duty.
Kashi: Varanasi (Benares).
Kaupina: A small strip of cloth used to cover one’s private parts. Also called a langoti
Kaviraj: Ayurvedic physician..
Khechari Mudra: “Sky-walking” mudra. The turning up of the eyes in meditation. In Hatha Yoga, the insertion of the tongue upward and behind the palate, blocking the nasal passages.
Kedarnath (Kedar Nath): One of the chief places of pilgrimage in India: a temple on a mountaintop in the Himalayas, dedicated to the worship of Shiva in the form of a linga installed there by Adi Shankaracharya.
Keshava: Beautiful-haired one–a title of Krishna.
Kevala: Oneness; absolute; alone; single; independent; perfect; uncompounded.
Kevala-advaita: Absolute Non-dualism culminating in liberation.
Kevala Advaitin: A nondualist intent on the attainment of the state of Kaivalya–liberation.
Khol: See Mridangam.
Khyati: Apprehension; discernment; knowledge; vision.
Kirtan: Singing the names and praises of God; devotional chanting.
Klesha: Literally, taints or afflictions. The kleshas are: ignorance, egotism, attractions and repulsions towards objects, and desperate clinging to physical life from the fear of death. (See Yoga Sutras 2:2-9.)
Klishta: Afflicted, painful or pain-bearing.
Kosha: Sheath; bag; scabbard; a sheath enclosing the soul; body. There are five such concentric sheaths or bodies: the sheaths of bliss, intellect, mind, life-force and the physical body–the anandamaya, jnanamaya, manomaya, pranamaya and annamaya bodies respectively.
Krama: Order; sequence; sequential order or progression; stage; underlying process; natural law–all these are inherent in their substratum or dharmi.
Krama-mukti: Attainment of liberation in stages; gradual liberation; passing from this world to a higher world beyond rebirth and from there attaining liberation.
Kripa: Grace; mercy; compassion; blessing. There are three kinds of kripa: 1) sadhana kripa, the grace of self-effort; 2) guru kripa, the grace of a teacher, and 3) divya kripa, divine grace.
Krishna (1): Black; dark-colored.
Krishna (2): “The dark blue one.” A Divine Incarnation born in India about three thousand years ago, Whose teachings to His disciple Arjuna on the eve of the Great India (Mahabharata) War comprise the Bhagavad Gita.
Krishna Dwaipayana: “The island-born dark one.” Vyasa.
Krita Yuga: Satya Yuga, the Golden Age. See Yuga.
Kriya: Purificatory action, practice, exercise, or rite; action; activity; movement; function; skill. Kriyas purify the body and nervous system as well as the subtle bodies to enable the yogi to reach and hold on to higher levels of consciousness and being.
Kriya Shakti: The power or faculty of action.
Kriya Yoga: The Yoga of Purification: “Austerity (tapasya), self-study (swadhyaya), and offering of the life to God (Ishwara pranidhaha) are Kriya Yoga.” (Yoga Sutras 2:1)
Krodha: Anger, wrath; fury.
Kshama: Forgiveness; patience, forbearance.
Kshatriya: A member of the ruler/warrior caste.
Kshetra: Field; property; place of pilgrimage; sacred place; the physical body.
Kshetrajna: Knower of the field; the individual Self (Atman); the Supreme Self (Paramatman). See the thirteenth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita.
Kshobha: Shaking; agitated; disturbed; emotion.
Kubera: The god of wealth.
Kula: Possessing a form.
Kumaras (Four): Those advanced souls–Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatkumara and Sanatsujata–who at the beginning of this creation cycle refused to engage in worldly life despite the command of Brahma. They were then taught by Lord Shiva, in the form of Dakshinamurti, the mysteries of Brahmajnana and attained liberation.
Kumari: Virgin; a formal title of address for an unmarried woman.
Kumari Puja: The worship of a virgin (usually a prepubescent girl) as an embodiment of the Divine Mother.
Kumbha: Pot; water vessel.
Kumbhaka: Retention of breath; suspension of breath.
Kumkum: “Red-red.” Red-colored powder used for making a ritual mark between the eyebrows.
Kund: A pond; a small natural bathing place.
Kundalini: The primordial cosmic energy located in the individual; it is usually thought of as lying coiled up like a serpent at the base of the spine.
Kurukshetra: The battlefield in Northern India where the Mahabharata (Great Indian) War took place, and where the Bhagavad Gita was spoken.
Kusha: One of the varieties of sacred grass (darbha) used in many religious rites. Because of its insulating qualities, both physical and metaphysical, it is recommended as a seat (asana) for meditation, and as mats for sleeping (it keeps the sleeper warm).
Kutastha: Immutable; absolutely changeless; not subject to change; “summit abiding;” “on the summit.”
Kutashtha: Changeless; immutable; dweller in the height (summit); a name of Brahman.
Kutira: Hut; cottage; house; building; hermitage.
Lahiri Mahasaya: One of the greatest yogis of nineteenth-century India, written about extensively in Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda.
Lakh: One hundred thousand.
Lakshana: Definition; characteristic; condition; attribute; sign; mark.
Lakshmi: The consort of Vishnu; the goddess of wealth and prosperity; good fortune; auspiciousness; abundance.
Lakshya: Target; point of concentration; perceivable object; vision.
Langoti: See kaupina.
Laya: Dissolution; merging.
Laya Yoga: Process of absorption of the individual soul into the Supreme Soul; concentration of the mind with a view to dissolve it; that kind of yogic meditation where the mind is carried on progressively from grosser to subtler ideas until it is dissolved in the Unmanifested or Para Brahman; the yoga sometimes known as Omkaralayacintana–the merging of the consciousness into Om.
Lila: Play; sport; divine play; the cosmic play. The concept that creation is a play of the divine, existing for no other reason than for the mere joy of it. The life of an avatar is often spoken of as lila.
Linga: Mark; characteristic; gender; sign; symbol; distinctive sign through which it is possible to recognize the nature of something. Usually a reference to a column-like or egg-shaped symbol of Shiva.
Linga sharira: Subtle body; astral body (also called sukshma-sharira).
Lobha: Greed; covetousness.
Loka: World or realm; sphere, level, or plane of existence, whether physical, astral, or causal. There are seven lokas: Bhuloka: The material plane of atomic matter. Bhuvaloka: The lesser astral world, similar to the material plane (Bhuloka). Swa(r)loka: The median astral world. Mahaloka: The higher astral world. Those who attain this world need never be reborn in the three lower worlds of Bhur, Bhuvah, and Swah. Janaloka: The world that embraces both the highest astral levels and the lower causal levels. Tapoloka: The median causal world exclusively inhabited by advanced spirits who perpetually engage in meditation–tapasya. Satyaloka: The highest causal world inhabited by those who have attained liberation (moksha).
Lokaishana: Desire for fame.
Lokapala: The ruler, overseer or guardian of a loka.
Lokasangraha: Solidarity of the world; uplift of the world.
Lota: A metal water vessel used for drinking, carrying, or pouring water.
Mada: Pride; conceit; intoxication; exhilaration; dementia.
Madhava: Descendant of Madhu (a Yadava or Madhava patriarch). A title of Krishna.
Madhura: Sweet; honeylike.
Madhura bhava: The devotional relationship of love toward God; looking upon God as the Beloved.
Madhusudana: Destroyer of the Demon Madhu (properly an epithet of Vishnu)–a title of Krishna.
Madhvacharya: The founder and exponent of Dvaita (Dualistic) Vedanta (1199-1278), who taught devotion to Vishnu.
Madhya: Center; middle; central.
Madhyama: The middle stage of sound as it develops from silent to fully audible or spoken. Sound in its subtle form as it exists in the mind/psyche before its gross manifestation.
Maha: Great; mighty; powerful; lofty; noble. Usually a prefix or suffix.
Mahabharata: The world’s longest epic poem (110,00 verses) about the Mahabharata (Great Indian) War that took place about three thousand years ago. The Mahabharata also includes the Bhagavad Gita, the most popular sacred text of Hinduism.
Mahabhuta: Great elements; primordial elements. The five great elements: ether (akasha), air (vayu), fire (tejas), water (ap), and earth (prithvi).
Mahadeva: “The Great God;” a title of Shiva.
Mahaloka: The higher astral world. Those who attain this world need never be reborn in the three lower worlds of Bhur, Bhuvah, and Swah.
Mahamantra: “The Great Mantra,” popularly known in the United States and Europe as “the Hare Krishna Mantra”–Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama, Rama, Hare, Hare; Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hare, Hare.
Mahamaya: “Great illusion;” divine Power operating as identified with the Supreme Lord. A title of Shakti, the Goddess.
Mahamrityunjaya: “The Great Conqueror of Death.” A title and four-armed form of Shiva.
Mahamrityunjaya mantra: “The Great Conqueror of Death Mantra.” A Vedic verse addressed to Shiva that is recited for protection, recovery from disease, and extension of life.
Mahan: The Great One; The Supreme One; title of the Supreme Being. That One which is impossible to adequately praise. That alone which is truly Great.
Mahapralaya: The final cosmic dissolution; the dissolution of all the worlds of relativity (Bhuloka, Bhuvaloka, Swaloka, Mahaloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka, and Satyaloka), until nothing but the Absolute remains. There are lesser dissolutions, known simply as pralayas, when only the first five worlds (lokas) are dissolved.
Mahaprana: The undifferentiated, intelligent cosmic life-force that becomes the five pranas; all things contain the mahaprana and are manifestations of the mahaprana; the dynamic aspect of universal Consciousness; the superconscious Divine Life in all things.
Maharatha: “A great-car-warrior,” a commander of eleven thousand bowmen as he rode in his chariot.
Mahar(i)shi: Great sage (rishi).
Mahapurusha: A great person; a great soul; a sage; the Supreme Lord.
Mahasamadhi: Literally “the great union [samadhi],” this refers to a realized yogi’s conscious departure from the physical body at death.
Mahashakti: The Great Power; the divine creative energy.
Mahashivaratri: “The Great Night of Shiva.” The major, night-long festival of the worship of Shiva that occurs on the fourteenth day of the dark half of the lunar month known as Phalguna (usually in February, but every third year when an extra month is added to the lunar calendar, it may occur in March).
Mahashunya(ta): The Great Void; the Great Emptiness. The state of the Formless Absolute, which is empty in the sense that it is without manifest creation. It is not a state of nonexistence, because it has the nature of Being, Consciousness, and Bliss (Satchidananda).
Mahat: See Mahat Tattwa.
Mahat Tattwa: The Great Principle; the first evolute from Prakriti; intellect. The principle of Cosmic Intelligence or Buddhi; universal Christ Consciousness, the “Son of God,” the “Only Begotten of the Father,” “the firstborn of every creature.”
Mahatma: Literally: “a great soul [atma].” Usually a designation for a sannyasi or a saint.
Mahavakya: Literally: “Great Saying.” The highest Vedantic truth, found in the Upanishads, there are four Mahavakyas: 1) Prajñanam Brahma–“Consciousness is Brahman” (Aitareya Upanishad); 2) Ayam Atma Brahma–“This Self is Brahman” (Mandukya Upanishad); 3) Tat Twam Asi–“Thou art That” (Chandogya Upanishad); 4) Aham Brahmasmi–“I am Brahman” (Brihadaranyaka Upanishad).
Mahavrata: The Great Vow/Rule of Conduct. The Yoga Sutras (2:31) of Patanjali state that ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, and aparigraha “not conditioned by class, place, time or occasion, and extending to all stages, constitute the Great Vow.” (See separate entries for each component.)
Mahayoga: Great yoga.
Mahayogi: Great yogi.
Maheshwara: The Great Ishwara; Shiva.
Mahima (1): Greatness; glory; magnification; extensive magnitude; miracle.
Mahima (2): The psychic power (siddhi) to become as large as desired.
Mahout: Trainer-handler of an elephant.
Maithuna(m): Sexual intercourse.
Maitri: Friendliness; friendship; love.
Mala (1): Taint; impurity; defilement; defect; ignorance, limitation of consciousness.
Mala (2): Garland; flower garland; rosary; chain. A string of beads (usually 108) used to count off repetitions of a mantra or a yogic process.
Malina: Impure; defective.
Manah: The sensory mind; the perceiving faculty that receives the messages of the senses.
Manana: Thinking, pondering, reflecting, considering.
Manas(a): See Manah.
Manasika: Pertaining to the mind; mental; mental action.
Mandala: Circle; magical circle or diagram; the special domain of a deity; a section of the Rig Veda; an association.
Mandapa(m): An open, covered hall or pavilion consisting of a roof and supports (usually pillars, but it can be walls with very large openings); a tent.
Mandir(a): Temple; abode.
Mangalarati: See Arati.
Manipura chakra: Energy center located in the spine at the point opposite the navel. Seat of the Fire element.
Manohara: “Enchanter/Ravisher/Stealer of the Mind;” one who captivates one’s mind. A title of Vishnu, but usually applied to Krishna as the flute player.
Manolaya: Involution and dissolution of the mind into its cause.
Manomaya kosha: “The sheath of the mind (manas–mental substance).” The level (kosha) of the sensory mind. The astral body.
Manonasa: Destruction of the mind.
Manonirodha: Control or annihilation of the mind.
Mantra(m): Sacred syllable or word or set of words through the repetition and reflection of which one attains perfection or realization of the Self. Literally, “a transforming thought” (manat trayate). A mantra, then is a sound formula that transforms the consciousness.
Mantra Yoga: The Yoga of the Divine Word; the science of sound; the path to divine union through repetition of a mantra.
Mantric: Having to do with mantra(s)–their sound or their power.
Manu: The ancient lawgiver, whose code, The Laws of Manu (Manu Smriti) is the foundation of Hindu religious and social conduct.
Manus: Progenitors of the human race who were also its lawgivers and teachers.
Manusha(m): Human being; humanity.
Manushya: Human being.
Manvantara: An age of the rulership of a Manu. Within a cosmic age (kalpa) there are fourteen manvantaras.
Mara: The embodiment of the power of cosmic evil, illusion, and delusion.
Marga: Way; path; street; approach to God-realization (bhakti marga, jnana marga, karma marga, yoga marga, etc.).
Margashirsha: A lunar month, roughly the latter half of November and the first half of December. This is the time of ideal weather in India.
Marichi: The chief of the Maruts.
Maruts: The presiding deities of winds and storms.
Math(a): A monastery.
Mati: Thought; view; opinion; faith; religion; doctrine; tradition; conviction; mind rightly directed towards knowledge revealed and practice enjoined by the shastras.
Matra: Letters of the alphabet or their sounds; mode; measure; prosodial instant–the length of time required for pronouncing a short vowel.
Matrika: Letter or sound syllable which is the basis of all words and hence of all knowledge; “little mothers.”
Matsyendranath: Guru of Gorakhnath and the first publicly known Nath Yogi, having become a disciple of Adinath who is considered an avatar of Shiva. As with Gorakhnath, we have no dates for him.
Mauna(m): Silence–not speaking.
Maya: The illusive power of Brahman; the veiling and the projecting power of the universe, the power of Cosmic Illusion. “The Measurer”–a reference to the two delusive “measures”: Time and Space.
Mayic: Having to do with Maya.
Medha: Power of retaining the import of studies; intelligence or intellect; power of understanding.
Mela: Fair; large religious gathering.
Meru: The mountain, of supreme height, on which the gods dwell, or the mountain on which Shiva is ever seated in meditation, said to be the center of the world, supporting heaven itself–obviously a yogic symbol of the spinal column or merudanda. The name of the central bead on a japa mala (rosary).
Merudanda: The spinal column in yogic symbolism; see Meru.
Mimamsa: An enquiry into the nature of a thing; the science of philosophical logic enquiring into Vedic knowledge. Usually a reference to Purva-Mimamsa, one of the six schools of orthodox Indian philosophy. It focuses on the Vedas and the Vedic rites to establish their supreme spiritual value and authority.
Mimamsaka: A follower of the Purva Mimamsa school of philosophy.
Mitahara: Moderate diet.
Mithya: Not real; neither real nor unreal; illusory; false; untrue; incorrect.
Mitra: Friend; companion; associate. The Vedic god of harmony.
Mleccha: Foreigner; an alien; barbarian; someone who does not belong to Hindu culture.
Moha: Delusion–in relation to something, usually producing delusive attachment, infatuation, or obsession based on a completely false perception and evaluation of the object.
Moksha: Release; liberation; the term is particularly applied to the liberation from the bondage of karma and the wheel of birth and death; Absolute Experience.
Mridanga(m): A drum used exclusively in devotional music, also known as a khol.
Mrityu: Death; of death; a title of Yama, the Lord of Death.
Mudita: Joy; happiness.
Mudra: Gesture; hand position; seal; stamp.
Muhurta: A unit of time–a thirtieth part of a day, forty-five to forty-eight minutes in length.
Mukta: One who is liberated–freed–usually in the sense of one who has attained moksha or spiritual liberation.
Muktajiva: A liberated individual spirit.
Mukti: Moksha; liberation; release.
Mula: Origin(al); primary; root; base.
Mulachaitanya: Root consciousness; seed of the creation.
Muladhara chakra: “Seat of the root.” Energy center located at the base of the spine. Seat of the Earth element.
Mulaprakriti: The Root [Basic] Energy from which all things are formed. The Divine Prakriti or Energy of God.
Mulashakti: Root power or energy; Mulaprakriti.
Mumukshu: A seeker after liberation (moksha).
Mumukshutwa: Intense desire or yearning for liberation (moksha).
Muni: “Silent one” ( one observing the vow of silence (mauna); sage; ascetic.
Murti: Image; statue; idol; figure; embodiment.
Originally posted 2016-04-08 15:01:58.