Sanskrit Glossary of Common Spiritual Terms

All the key spiritual texts are written in Sanskrit.  Sanskrit is the language of spirituality.  All books and explanations in a non-Indian language, suffer from some degree of error due to the transliteration process.

Firstly, there are no equivalent words in Latin languages for many Sanskrit words. For example, in Sanskrit, we have words for many types of Prana and the closest equivalents in English are breath and life-force, but neither do full justice.

Secondly, when reading a transliteration, one is dependent on the understanding of the author. If he or she interprets a sloka (verse) incorrectly, your understanding will be at the same level or worse.

However, one does not need to master the Sanskrit language to read spiritual texts.  There are a handful of key words, which if understood, go a long way towards helping students decipher and understand many texts.  Hence this glossary.

a negative prefix
abhyâsa constant practice
acharya teacher, divine attitude
adhara food
adhi above, within
adhimâtra inner vowel
adhyaya to study, to know
adhisthâna abode
agni fire
agyana without knowledge
ahata stopped, shut, (interrupted)
ahimsâ non-violence, absence of jealousy
ajna pituitary, like master
Ajna chakra The sixth spinal centre, see also kutastha chakra. The master or the guru who carries out orders from the Soul to the physical level. This is the centre for Satguru and also for chidakasha.
âkâra form
âkâsha heaven(s), voidness, emptiness, vacuum
aklistha without pain, no pain, absence of pain, absence of suffering
akshara brahma The root sounds or letters that are the manifestation of the soul.
amrita nectar, deathlessness, liberation, formless
ana non
anâhata non stop; ana: non, ahata: stop
Anâhata chakra The forth spinal centre, heart chakra; non-stopping breath
ânanda bliss, peace
apana no life air
asana inner posture
asat untruth
asmitâ endless (a: negative prefix, sûma: limit), endless ego
atha now
âtma Soul
âtma karma action of the soul
âtmakhyâti constantly in the soul
Aum (Om) The root of all sounds; universal symbol for God. Aum of the Vedas became the sacred word “Hum” of the Tibetans; “Amin” of the Moslems; and “Amen” of the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Jews and Christians. Amen in Hebrew means “sure, faithful”. Aum is the all-pervading sound emanating from the Holy Ghost (the Invisible Cosmic Vibration of God that manifests or becomes creation); the “Word” of the Bible (see Revelation 3:14 and John 1:1,3); the voice of creation, testifying to the Divine Presence in every atom. Aum may be heard through practice of Kriya Yoga techniques.
avatar From the Sanskrit word avatara, which roots ava, “down”, and tara, “to come, cross”. Souls who attain union with Spirit and then return to Earth to help mankind are called avatars, divine incarnations.
avidyâ absence of knowledge, erroneous knowledge
bha light, manifestation
bhagavad almighty
Bhagavad Gita Song of the Soul, Song of Infinity
bhakta devotee
bhakti devotion
bhru pituitary
bhrukuti pituitary, inner cave
bhûtendriya organs of the elements
bîja seed, root
brahma creator
chakras “Wheels”, the seven centers of life and consciousness in the spine and brain; which enliven the physical and astral bodies of a human being. 1. mûlâdhâra: coccygeal centre at the base of the spine; 2. svadhisthâna: sacral centre two inches above mûlâdhâra; 3. manipura: lumbal centre opposite the navel; 4. anâhata: dorsal centre opposite the heart; 5. vishuddha: cervical centre at the base of the neck; 6. ajnâ also called kutastha: pituitary centre, seat of the spiritual eye, centre of will and concentration; 7. sahasrâra: centre in the uppermost part of the cerebrum.
chala movement, restlessness
chidakasha The conscious heaven
citta (chitta) conscious, consciousness, cause of elements, cause of mind, cause of thoughts, the higher mind, intellect, ego, cause of sense organs, the root. Citta is composed of five actions, or five minds which create fifty types of different results called vrittis.
cittâni the cittas, the drivers of the various organs
daharâkâsha the heaven where everything disappears and burns
dakhina right, south
darshan philosophy
darshana object of the vision, vision
desha country or area, place, domain
dhâ to hold, bring, place
dhâranâ idea, concentration (root: dhâ: to hold) on one’s self
dharma that which sustains, that which holds, the holding point
dhârmi the way
dhâtu element
dhruva the pole star
dhyâna meditation, samadhi
drabya agni the visible fire, material fire, external fire
dvesha enmity
ga (gana) knowledge
giri mountain, static, stable, firm; “mountain” is the designation of one of the ten branches of the Swami Order
gita song of God
guna quality
guru master, “one who removes darkness”, from Sanskrit gu, “invisible”, and ru, “(visible) manifestation”
guru pranam bowing to masters
gyana knowledge
hang sa (hang sau) atma and myself, soul and myself. The sadhana(practice) of hang sa is one of the techniques in kriya yoga. The movement to the interior (inhalation) is called sa, the movement towards the exterior (exhalation) is called hang.
î power, energy which one inhales
ida one nâdi in the spine, left side of the spine
indriya sense, sense organs
ishta who is pulling your breath, the divine force which is pulling your breath
ishta pranam salutation to ishta
ishvara (iswara) sound of power, Lord Shiva, î (energy), sva (soul), ra (light)
janma birth, creation, manifestation
jnâna knowledge
jyoti light
Jyoti mudra The posture for inner light, the posture by means of which inner light is created
jyotish astrologer
Jyotir veda astrology
kaivalya the state of absolute unity, the One and Only
kamana desires
kara to do, act
karma action, from the Sanskrit word kri “to do”, universal law of cause and effect – see also the article about karma.
ketu southern lunar node
khechari keeping mind in the vacuum, one mudra (posture) which is keeping the tongue uprolled
klesha pain, suffering
klistha pain, suffering
Krishna The name of an avatar who lived as a king in India 3000 years before Christ. Krishna like Christ is a spiritual title. Root: krishi – the cultivation of breath, na – cover, envelope. You have to practice (spirituality) inside the body.
kri to do; the action of breath
kriyâ kri the action of breath, yâ soul or power, the action of breath and soul is kriya. The deep inner meaning of karma – see also the article about karma.
kriyâban person who practices kriya
kriyâ yoga yoga (union) based upon the action of prâna, prânakarma. The union of the individual with the Soul by means of prâna shakti (life force and oxygen) in each inhalation and exhalation.
kundalini shakti our life force, almighty power
kutastha pituitary (gland)
Kutastha chakra The sixth spinal centre situated in the pituitary gland
loka place
mahâ great
mahâkâsha great soul, great sky, great heaven
mahâmudra the great posture
mahâsamâdhi a yogi’s final conscious exit from the body
Mahavatar “Divine Incarnation”, a title of Babaji
mani mind, like a jewel
manipura the area of the jewel
Manipura chakra The third spinal centre, opposite the navel; mani: mind, like a jewel; pura: area; Our mind is a jewel
mâtra element
maya illusion
mudra posture
mula main, root
mûlâdhâra root of the food, first centre (chakra), Mûlâdhâra chakra. The first spinal centre, root centre.
  The first spinal centre, root centre.
nâdi pulsation, energy vessel
narayana sensation of God, sensation of power
nidrâ sleep
nirodha control, halt, stop, block
nirbhasam (nirvasam) formless, beyond speech, beyond any manifestation
nirvana liberation
nirbikalpa beyond the life force
nirbikalpa samâdhi state of changeless God-consciousness; true or highest illumination, see also samâdhi. Beyond the life force breathless stage
nirvasam (see nirbhasam)
niyama inner control, inner rule, inner regulation
Om See Aum
pada step, chapter
param great
paramahansa A spiritual title signifying a master. A person who is beyond everything, who received samadhi, the great realization, who remains beyond breath, who remains beyond body and beyond breath. The Sanskrit word hansa also means “swan” and symbolizes spiritual discrimination. See also hang sa
paravastha beyond the stage, state, situation (the “beyond” state)
Pâtanjala (Patanjali) the name of a monk or rishi
pingala one nâdi on the right side of the spine
prabhu master
pramâna proof
prâmanah to prove
prâna life
prâna karma breath action
prâna sanjama control of life
prâna karma breathing action, the action to hold life
prâna shakti life force, life power
prânâyâma control of prâna, the life force
prasada after having been touched by God, after having been accepted by your soul
prashvâsa outbreath, exhalation
pranavayu life-air
prânayâma breathing technique, breath control
pratya constant
pratishthâ to establish
pratyâhâra renunciation
prayana the final breath
prithivi earth
pura area
ra light
râga rhythm, anger, passion
rahu northern lunar node
rishi seer, illumined sage
rupam form
rupatita beyond the form
sa that
sadhana practice
sahasrara One thousand, fontanelle
Sahasrara chakra The seventh centre, situated in the uppermost part of the cerebrum. Connection with our Soul is from this place. Millions of motivations, all our actions are created from sahasrara and effected through ajna chakra.
samâdhi formless state, deathless stage, breathless stage, breathlessness, the ultimate result of meditation, nirvana
santosha pleasant, inner satisfaction
Sat Truth, the Absolute, Bliss. The Father (Sat) is God as the Creator existing beyond creation.
satguru true master 
savikalpa within life force
savikalpa samâdhi A state where you work in the material world while remaining in samâdhi
shakti energy, energetically, deeply, power
Shankara, Swami Indian’s most illustrious philosopher. His date is uncertain; many scholars assign him to the ninth century. He expounded God not as a negative abstraction, but as positive, omnipresent, ever-new bliss. Shankara reorganized the ancient Swami Order, and founded four great monastic centers of spiritual education. Root: shan “nice”
shiva destructor
Shri (Sri) beauty, beautiful. A title of respect. When used before the name of a person, it means “holy” or “revered”.
shuddha purified
sidhha Literally, “one who is successful”. One who has attained self-realization.  Other meanings: boiled, ripe.
sidhhi(s) perfection(s), success
smriti memory, souvenir
sreshtha karma the great work, the first action, the highest action
sûrya (sûrye) sun (soul’s sun), also soul
sushumna middle of the spine
sûtra(s) technique(s)
sushumna middle of the spine
sva (swa) soul, self; life, own, himself; see also ishvara
svadhisthâna swa: life, adhisthâna: abode; the abode of life itself
Svadhisthâna chakra The second spinal centre, sacral centre, two inches above the first (coccygeal) centre – mûlâdhâra. The abode of life itself.
svakara myself, form of myself
swami (svâmi) “He who is one with the Self (swa).” One who has thorough control in the inner self, who is realized, a glorious word of an Indian monk order. Other meaning: husband
swarupam inner form
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tantra essence, that which is extracted
tapa heat, energy
tapa agni the fire created by your breath inside
tat that
Tat The Son (Tat) is God’s omnipresent intelligence existing in creation.
Trinity When Spirit manifests creation, it becomes the Trinity: God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, or Sat, Tat, Aum.
udâna divine air, the fifth prâna
upasana close to soul, thorough
uttarayana when the sun is in the north ascension, ascendant
va or, and
vayuh air, airs, all air
veda to know, to realize. The universal holy scripture
vibhuti the great manifestation of God, ashes, the great realization, the essence
vigyana beyond knowledge, superconsciousness
vigyanamaya beyond mind, superconsciousness
vikalpa formless, without form, beyond body; also: daydream, awakened dream
vikarma beyond action
viniyogah to apply, to add
vishoka beyond sorrow
vishnu preserver
vishuddha to purify
Vishuddha chakra The fifth spinal centre situated at the base of the neck Our speech is purified before we speak, this prepurification takes place in vishuddha chakra. In case of madness or anger, speech is no longer purified and words come out without control.
vita beyond
vritti(s) The twenty-five qualities or natures, action(s) or manifestation(s) of the mind which create two different results each. This gives fifty different result. The fifty vrittis are created by chitta 
vyana sense breath
vyuha secret
soul, power
yama external control
yoga union
yoga agni the fire you create in meditation
Yoga Sûtra “The practice of yoga”; a text written by Pâtanjala being first and foremost dedicated to yoga technique, also called “The Aphorism of Yoga”
Yogavatar “Incarnation of Yoga”, a title of Lahiri Mahasaya
yogî who connects, who is in a yogic state (connecting breath to soul)
yoti light
yoti mudra the posture creating inner light
yuga era