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Sanskrit Dictionary

Several Sanskrith words have made their way into English and appear in English dictionaries. A few of these are used without definition in the text, although they are defined in this glossary. Among these are Aathma (or Atma), dharma, guru, karma, moksha, yoga, and yogi (or yogee).

A phoneticized English spelling of Sankrith words is being adopted. This has two purposes: first, to make it easier for non-Sanskrithists to pronounce words correctly; second to make the Sanskrith more pleasing and accurate for Sanskrithists. We give a pronunciation guide.

Short and long vowels are spelled and pronounced as follows.

Vowel	English equivalent	French equivalent
 a 	    	but, mica                 	--
 aa	    	father, tar		      	tard
 i	    	fit, fill	              	ici
 ee	    	fee, police			pire
 u          	put, full	 	      	tout
 uu	    	boo, rude	      		court

For example, the spelling aanandha (bliss) alerts the reader to the fact that the first syllable is long, so that the accent is on the first, and not the second, syllable.

Phonetic English spelling of Sanskrith consonants is difficult, because there are more consonants in Sanskrith than in English.

Below, the examples for bh, dh, and th are slightly misleading, in that they may give the impression that two sounds are said separately when they are not. The idea of the examples is to make it clear that the h is distinctly aspirated.

Consonant	English equivalent
   bh 	        abhore (said rapidly)
   s 	        silver
   sh         	shut
   dh 	        adhere, madhouse (said rapidly)
   dh         	dice (more like this )
   th        	pothouse, nuthook (the aspiration should be heard distinctly)	
   th           thin, try 

Some Sanskrith compounds have been hyphenated between their constituent words to aid those who want to analyze the meanings of individual words.


aanandha. Supreme bliss, unending joy.

aanandha-swaruupa. Embodiment or form of Supreme bliss.

aashram. Hermitage; residence for saints and spiritual aspirants.

Aathma. The real Self, one's divinity, God, the substance of everything, the unseen basis, the spark of God within. The Aathma is unchanging and immortal.

Aathmik. Relating to the Aathma .

a-dharma. Evil, injustice, unrighteousness.

a-karma. Nonaction, inactivity.

anantha. Unending, infinite. Name of Vishnu.

a-shaanthi. Lack of peace, restlessness, grief caused by ignorance of the illusory nature of the world.

Atma. Alternative spelling of Aathma .

Avathaar. An incarnation of God taking a form according to the age in which the incarnation occurs. Descent of God on Earth to uplift humanity.

Avathaarana. Descent of the Godhead on the earth; the process of descent or Incarnation.

Bhagavaan, Bhagavan. God; term of reverential address; Shri Sathya Sai Baba is called Bhagavaan by his devotees.

bhakths. Devotee.

bhakthi. Devotion to God.

braahmana. The first of the four castes of social order, the priestly or teacher caste; a person belonging to this caste. Also, a section of the Vedhas ;a man of wisdom.

bhrama-thathwam. Principle of delusion.

Brahman (Brahma or Brahmam). The impersonal Supreme Being, the primal source and ultimate goal of all beings. Thus, It is identical to the Aathma . Brahma is also the first member of the trinity of Brahma (the Creator), Vishnu (the Preserver), and Shiva (the Destroyer). Of course,these are just aspects of the one, impersonal, Supreme Being, Brahman .

buddhi. Intellect.

caste. There are four castes of social order: the braahmana (priest or teacher), kshathriya (warrior, protector), vaishyas (trader, merchant, agriculturist), and shuudhras (worker).

dhaarmic. According to dharma , justly.

dhana. Wealth.

dharma. Right action, truth in action, righteousness, morality, virtue, duty, the dictates of God, code of conduct. Dharma defies a simple translation into English.

dharma-sthapana. The establishment of righteousness.

dharma-swaruupa. Embodiment of dharma, form of dharma.

dharmic. Variant spelling of dhaarmic .


dhwaapara yuga. Third in the cycle of four ages or yugas .

dhyaana. Meditation on God.

Gaayathree Manthra. An ancient Vedhic prayer to awaken the intelligence.

gopee. Cowherd maid devoted to Krishna during his childhood years in Brindhavan.

gothra. Family, race, lineage.

guna. Quality, characteristic. The qualities of satthwa , rajas , and thamas are general universal characteristics of all kinds of mental tendencies, and actions/thoughts are prompted by specific kinds and mixtures of these three qualities. For example, saatthwic food is health-giving, strength-giving and delightful; raajasic food is spicy, sour, or salty and brings on diseases; and thaamasic food is impure, old, stale, tasteless, or rotten.

guru. Preceptor, teacher, guide to spiritual liberation.

japa. Soft repetition of the name of the Lord with love and devotion.

jeeva. Individual soul.

Jeevaathma. Individual Self enshrined in the human body, soul..

jnaana. Knowledge, wisdom.

jnaani. Wise man, realized soul.

kaama. Desire, lust.

kali yuga. The fourth in the cycle of four eras, or yugas ;our present age; which is characterized by discord and wrong action.

karma. (a) Activity, action, work, duty. (b) Fate; the consequences of acts done in this life and past lives.

kshathriya. Warrior.

leela. Divine sport or play.

maayaa. Worldly illusion, mistaking the transcient for the real.

mahaathma. A great soul, sage.

manas. Mind.

manthra. Sacred syllable or word(s) to be repeated (often silently) for attaining perfection or Self-realization; a mystic formulas for spiritual enlightenment.

mantra. Alternative English spelling of manthra .

moksha. Stage of liberation; devoid of delusion.

mukthi. Liberation; final release or emancipation from the cycle of birth and death.

praana. Life-breath, life force, vital energy, the five vital airs.

prakrithi. Causal matter, creation, nature.

pranava. The sacred syllable Om.

prashaanthi. Undisturbed inner peace, absolute equanimity.

prema. Unconditional love.

puurna. Complete, full.

puurna Avathaar. Avathaar with full power of the Godhead.

raajasic. Adjective form of rajas .

rajas. The quality ( guna )of passion, restlessness, activity, emotions such as anger, greed, grief. Associated with the color red.

rajoguna. The quality ( guna )of passion, restlessness, activity, emotions such as anger, greed, grief. Associated with color red.

ruupa. Form, figure, appearance.

saadhaka. Spiritual aspirant.

saadhana, saadhanam. Spiritual discipline orexercise, self effort.

saadhu. Virtuous, wise aspirant, pious or righteous person.

Saankhya. One of the six leading systems of spiritual Vedhic philosophy, attributed to the sage Kapila. Its chief object is the emancipation of the soul from the bonds of worldly existence. It stresses the duality of spirit and matter, while Vedhaantha affirms that Brahman is the only reality.

saathwic. Adjective form of satthwa .

samaadhi. Literally, mental equanimity. A state of supreme consciousness resulting in union with or absorption in the ultimate reality, the Aathma .

sanaathanaAncient, eternal.

sanaathana dharma. The ancient wisdom; moral laws and truths of all religions.

sankalpa. Will, resolve, purpose.

sath, sad. Existence, being, good.

sath-chith-aanandha. Existence-knowledge-bliss, being-awareness-bliss.

satthwa. The quality ( guna ) ofpurity, calmness, serenity, joy, strength, goodness. Associated with color white.

satthwa-guna. The quality ( guna )of purity, calmness, serenity, joy, strength, goodness. Associated with color white.

sathya. Truth.

shaanthi. Peace, inner peace, perfect equanimity.

shaasthras. Scriptures.

shakthi. Ability, power.

siddhi. Occult power; accomplishment, success, good fortune.

shuudhra. Laborer.

sva-ruupa. Essential nature, true nature of Being.

thaamasic. Adjective form of thamas .

thamas. The quality of ( guna )dullness, ignorance, delusion, inactivity, inertia, sloth. Associated with color black.

thamoguna. The quality of ( guna )dullness, ignorance, delusion, inactivity, inertia, sloth. Associated with color black.

thapas. Spiritual exercise, penance.

Thath. That, the Godhead.

thatthwa. Principle, truth, essence. That-this entity. Thatthwa is regarded as made up of That ( Thath ) and you ( thwam ): you (are) That( thatthwamasi ), expressing the identity of the individual with Brahman in Vedhaanthic philosophy.

Thatthwamasi. You are That.

thretha yuga. The second in the cycle of four eras ( yugas ).We are in the fourth, the kali yuga .

vaahini. Stream.

vaishyas. Business people.

Vedhaantha. The doctrine of the identity of Brahman and the Aathma ; the bottom line of the Vedhas , declaring the same.

vedhaanthin. Knower of Vedhaantha .

Vedhic. Of or pertaining to the Vedhas .

vichara. Reflection, investigation, inquiry, continuous self-examination.

viveka. Discrimination.

yaaga. Oblation, sacrifice, ceremony in which oblations are presented.

yajna. Holy ritual, sacrifice, or rite.

yoga. (a) Union of the self or Aathma with the Supreme Being or Universal Self; act of yoking. (b) A spiritual discipline or exercise aimed at union with God; science of divine communion. No single definition of the word yoga suffices. Pathanjali's Yoga Suuthras define yoga as a series of eight spiritual steps leading to union with God. This is different from the eight steps given in the section titled "The eightfold path of yoga" of Prashaanthi Vaahini.

yogi. One who practices yoga .

yuga. Era; there is a cycle of four yugas: Kritha, Thretha, Dhwaapara, and Kali. We are in the Kali yuga.

Copyright © 1996 Sri Sathya Sai Organization. This is the International Sai Organization website as it was on 27 March 1997.