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This dictionary contains words and terms used in Hinduism arranged alphabetically.


  • Agama (Sanskrit: आगम) a traditional doctrine, or system which commands faith. The Agamas are a collection of Sanskrit scriptures which are revered. The Agamas are the primary source and authority for yoga methods and instruction.
  • Arjun: Arjun or Arjunaa (Sanskrit: अर्जुन, arjuna) one of the heroes of the Hindu epic Mahābhārata.
  • Atharvan (Sanskrit: अथर्वन्} atharvan; an n-stem with nominative singular {अथर्वा} atharvā. A legendary Vedic sage (rishi) of Hinduism who along with Angiras is supposed to have authored ("heard/shruti") the Atharvaveda. He is also said to have first instituted the fire-sacrifice or yagna.
  • Aum: also Om, written in Devanagari as ॐ, In Sanskrit known as praṇava (प्रणव) lit. "to sound out loudly" or oṃkāra (ओंकार) lit. "oṃ syllable" is a mystical or sacred syllable in the Indian religions of Hinduism, Sikhism, Jainism, and Buddhism.
  • Avatar or Avatara (Devanagari: अवतार}, avatāra, Sanskrit for "descent" (viz., from heaven to earth, from the verbal root tṝ: "to cross over". Usually implies a deliberate descent from higher spiritual realms to lower realms of existence for special purposes, often translated into English as incarnation.
  • Bhagavad Gita (Sanskrit: भगवद्गीता), Bhagavad Gītā, "Song of God", is one of the most important sacred Hindu scriptures. It is revered as one of the most sacred scriptures of Hinduism. The Bhagavad Gita comprises 700 verses and is a part of the Mahabharata. The teacher of the Bhagavad Gita is Krishna; who is revered by Hindus as a manifestation of the Lord Himself and is referred to within as Bhagavan — the divine one. The Bhagavad Gita is commonly referred to as The Gita.
  • Bhakti (Sanskrit: भक्ति), devotion or portion. In practice signifies an active involvement by the devotee in divine worship. The term is often translated as "devotion", though it has been suggested that a better rendering would be "participation". One who practices bhakti is called a bhakta, while bhakti as a spiritual path is referred to as bhakti marga, or the bhakti way. Bhakti is an important component of many branches of Hinduism, defined differently by various sects and schools. The practice of bhakti emphasises devotion above ritual.
  • Brahmin: (Sanskrit: ब्राह्मण ,brāhmaṇa) the class of educators, and preachers in Hinduism.
  • Dharma In traditional Hindu society, denotes a variety of ideas, such as Vedic ritual, ethical conduct, caste rules, and civil and criminal law. Its most common meaning can be found in two principal ideals: that social life should structured through well-defined and well-regulated classes (varna) and that an individual's life within a class should be organized into defined stages (ashrama).
  • Gayatri Mantra is a highly revered Sanskrit mantra with origins in the Vedas. It is a verse in the vedic Gayatri metre consting of 24 syllables taken from a hymn of the Rigveda. Its recitation is always preceded by oṃ and the formula bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ. It is known as the mahāvyāhṛti ("great mystical phrase"). A literal translation of the Gayatri verse:

"May we attain [dhīmahi] that excellent glory [tat vareṇyaṃ bhargas] of Savitar the god [savitur devasya]:

So may he stimulate [pracodayāt] our prayers [dhiyas nas]."

The Hymns of the Rigveda (1896), Ralph T.H. Griffith
  • Gupta Empire (गुप्त राजवंश} { Gupta Rājavaṃśa) was an Ancient Indian empire which existed approximately from 280 to 550 AD and covered much of the Indian Subcontinent. Founded by Maharaja Sri-Gupta, the dynasty began the Classical Age in the Middle kingdoms of India. The capital of the Guptas was Pataliputra, present day Patna, in the north Indian state of Bihar.
  • Hare Krishna: The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), also known as the Hare Krishna movement, is one of the Hindu Vaishnava religious organizations. It was founded in 1966 in New York City by A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
  • Kāma (Sanskrit: काम) is pleasure, sensual gratification, sexual fulfillment, pleasure of the senses, desire, eros, the aesthetic enjoyment of life in Sanskrit. In Hinduism, kāma is regarded as the third of the four goals of life (purusharthas): the others are duty (dharma), worldly status (artha) and salvation (moksha). Kama-deva is the personification of this, a god equivalent to the Greek Eros and the Roman Cupid. Kama-rupa is a subtle body or aura composed of desire, while Kama-loka is the realm this inhabits, particularly in the afterlife.
  • Mahabharata: (Devanāgarī: महाभारत}, Mahābhārata) one of the two major Sanskrit Indian epics of ancient India, the other being the Rāmāyaṇa. The epic is part of the Hindu itihāsa (literally "history"), and forms an important part of Hindu mythology.
  • Mahajanapadas (Sanskrit: महाजनपद, Mahājanapadas), literally "Great realms," (from Maha, "great", and Janapada "foothold of a tribe", "country") were Ancient Indian kingdoms or countries. Ancient Buddhist texts like Anguttara Nikaya make frequent references to sixteen great kingdoms and republics (Solas Mahajanapadas) which had evolved and flourished in the north/north-western parts of the Indian subcontinent prior to the rise of Buddhism in India.
  • Mantra: (Devanāgarī: मन्त्र) A sound, syllable, word, or group of words that are considered capable of "creating transformation". Originating from the Vedic tradition of India and later becoming an essential part of Hindu tradition and a customary practice within Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.
  • Manusmṛti (Sansktir: मनुस्मृति), also known as Mānava-Dharmaśāstra (Sanskrit: मानवधर्मशास्त्र), is not important and oldestiest metrical work of the Dharmaśāstra textual tradition of Hinduism. Generally known in English as the Laws of Manu, it was first translated into English in 1794 by Sir William Jones, an English Orientalist and judge of the British Supreme Court of Judicature in Calcutta. The text presents itself as a discourse given by the sage called Manu to a group of rishis, who beseech him to tell them the "law of all the social classes". Manu became the standard point of reference for all future Dharmaśāstras that followed it.

  • Moksha: (Sanskrit: मोक्ष} mokṣa) or Mukti (Sanskrit: मुक्ति}, literally "release" (both from the root muc "to let loose, let go"), is the liberation from samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth or reincarnation and all of the suffering and limitation of worldly existence.
  • Murti (Devanāgarī: मूर्ति) typically refers to an image, a deity, in which a Divine Spirit is expressed (murta). Hindus consider a murti worthy of worship after the divine is invoked in it for the purpose of offering worship. Thus the murti is regarded by Hindus and also by some Mahayana Buddhists (e.g. Muktinath) during worship as a point of devotional and meditational focus.
  • Patañjali (Devanāgarī: पतञ्जलि) (fl. 150 BCE or 2nd c. BCE is the compiler of the Yoga Sutras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice, and also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a major commentary on Panini's Ashtadhyayi. However, whether these two works are by the same author is disputed.
  • Prahlada is a character from the Puranic texts of Hinduism, wherein he is famed for his exclusive devotion (bhakti) to Vishnu, despite attempts in the story by his father, Hiranyakashipu to turn him to the contrary. He is considered a mahajana, or great devotee, by followers of Vaishnava traditions and is of special importance to devotees of Narasimha avatar. A philosophical treatise is acredited to him in the Bhagavata Purana wherein Prahlada describes the process of loving worship to his lord, Vishnu. The majority of stories in the Puranas are based around the activities of Prahlada as a young boy, and thus he is more commonly depicted as such in paintings and illustrations.
  • Prasāda (Sanskrit: प्रसाद, Marathi: प्रसाद, Hindi/Urdu: प्रशाद/پرشاد/prashad, Kannadal: prasāda, Tamil and Malayalam: prasādam, Telugu: prasadam) is both a mental condition of generosity, as well as a material substance that is first offered to a deity (in Hinduism) and then consumed. The act of offering food to a deity is in accord with Eastern traditions of hospitality with the god as a revered guest.
  • Pūjā (Devanāgarī: पूजा) (alternative transliteration Pooja, Sanskrit: reverence, honour, adoration, or worship) is a religious ritual performed by Hindus as an offering to various deities or distinguished guests.
  • Recension is the practice of editing or revising a text based on critical analysis. When referring to manuscripts, this may be a revision by another author. The term is derived from Latin recensio "review, analysis".
  • Redaction the reduction of a body of text usually for editorial or societal reasons or through loss of subject data.
  • Rishi (ṛṣi) denotes a poet-sage through whom the Vedic hymns flowed, credited also as divine scribes. According to post-Vedic tradition the rishi is a "seer" or "shaman" to whom the Vedas were "originally revealed" through states of higher consciousness. The rishis rose into prominence when Hinduism was in its early flowering, perhaps as far back as four thousand years ago.
  • Sanskrit: (संस्कृता वाक्) saṃskṛtā vāk, for short (संस्कृतम्) saṃskṛtam. Historical Indo-Aryan language, one of the liturgical languages of Hinduism and Buddhism, and one of the 22 official languages of India.
  • Shakha (Sanskrit: शाखा} "branch" or "limb", is a Hindu theological school that specializes in learning certain Vedic texts.
  • Shiva: (Sanskrit: शिव) Hindi for "Auspicious one", also known as Rudra (the "Feared One"). A major Hindu god and one aspect of Trimurti. In the Shaiva tradition of Hinduism, Shiva is seen as the Supreme God. In the Smarta tradition, he is one of panchadeva - the five primary forms of God.
  • Sindoor is a red powder (Vermilion), which is traditionally applied at the beginning or completely along the parting-line of a woman’s hair (also called mang) or as a dot on the forehead. Sindoor is the mark of a married woman in Hinduism.
  • Sūta (Sanskrit:सूत) refers both to the bards of Puranic stories and to a mixed caste. According to Manu Smriti (10.11.17) the sūta caste are children of a Kshatriya father and Brahmin mother. The narrator of the several of the Puranas, Ugrasrava Sauti, son of Lomaharshana, was also called Sūta.
  • Terminus post quem and the related terminus ante quem are terms used to give an approximate date for a text. Terminus post quem is used to indicate the earliest point in time when the text may have been written, while Terminus ante quem signifies the latest date at which a text may have been written.
  • Vāk or Vāc (stem vāc-, nominative vāk) is the Sanskrit word for "speech", "voice", "talk", or "language", from a verbal root vac- "speak, tell, utter". Personified, Vāk is a goddess, most frequently she is identified with Bharati or Sarasvati, the goddess of speech. In the Veda she is also represented as created by Prajapati and married to him; in other places she is called the mother of the Vedas and wife of Indra.
  • Vishnu (Sanskrit: विष्णु), (honorific: Bhagavan Vishnu), is the Supreme God in the Vaishnavite tradition of Hinduism. Smarta followers of Adi Shankara, among others, venerate Vishnu as one of the five primary forms of God (panchadeva). He is exalted as the highest God in Hindu sacred texts like the Taittiriya Samhita and the Bhagavad Gita. He is the Guru Kshethram, representing Bṛhaspati, or Jupiter, in the Navagraha, or nine cosmic influences.
  • Vyāsa (Devanāgari: व्यास) is a central and revered figure in the majority of Hindu traditions. He is also known as Badarayana. He is also sometimes called Veda Vyasa (वेद व्यास, veda vyāsa), (the one who split the Vedas) or Krishna Dvaipayana (referring to his complexion and birthplace). He is accredited as the scribe of both the Vedas, and the supplementary texts such as the Puranas. A number of Vaishnava traditions regard him as an avatar of Vishnu. Vyasa is also considered to be one of the eight Chiranjivins (long lived, or immortals), who are still in existence according to general Hindu belief.