Glossary of Hinduism
This glossary of Hinduism provides definitions of terms related to Hinduism, with links to full articles where available.
- A person's true Self or underlying vital force. According to Vedanta philosophy, "atman is Brahman."
- ("growth, expansion"). The impersonal Absolute, the unproduced Producer of all that is. In the Vedas, Brahman is the force behind the magical formulas. In the Upanishads it is the supreme, eternal principle behind the origin of the universe and of the gods. In Vedanta philosophy, it is the Self (atman) of all beings and knowledge of Brahman results in liberation (moksha).
- Hindu philosophy manuals based on the Vedas.
- Hindu Mother Goddess whose major forms are Durga, Parvati, and Kali. In the Vedas, the Goddess was associated with natural phenomena such as dawn, night, and the Ganges River. In the post-Vedic period, Mahadevi (Great Goddess) became the source of energy in the cosmos and the counterpart of Shiva. For Shaktas, she is not a counterpart but the supreme deity herself.
- (Sanskrit; Pali dhamma). Truth, teaching, or religion.
- (Sanskrit dipavali, "row of lights"). Major festival in Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, symbolizing the victory of light over darkness. It is celebrated for five days in the lunar months of Ashvina and Karttika, which is usually late October and November in the Gregorian calendar.
- ("Lord of Hosts"). Also Ganesha, Vinayaka, Ekadanta, Lambodara, Siddhadata, Vighnaraja. God of wisdom and good fortune, represented with a pot belly and the head of an elephant. Ganesh has been one of the most popular Hindu gods since medieval times and is claimed by all sects as their own. As the remover of obstacles, he is invoked before religious ceremonies and worldly undertakings.
- (Sanskrit) Spiritual teacher.
- Hatha Yoga
- The yoga (path) focusing on bodily postures to improve meditation. Popular in the West as a means to health, fitness, and relaxation.
- An annual spring festival that is the last festival of the Hindu calendar, occuring on the full-moon day of Phalguna in February or March. The festival is probably ancient in origin and is characterized by its sense of playfulness and reversal of normal codes of behavior. It is only on this day that the typical restrictions of caste, sex, age, and status are set aside.
- Caste. The Indian caste system determines social status based on birth and lineage, and is generally not alterable. Its importance has declined somewhat in urban areas, but is still important in marriage.
- ("action" or "deed"). Impact of previous deeds (usually in former lives) on one's current circumstances.
- Path of works. One of three paths to moksa.
- ("snake"). The spiritual force in every human being that lies at the base of the spine, coiled like a snake. It is also called "serpent power." Once awakened through yoga and meditation, it rises through the chakras, producing spiritual knowledge and mystical powers.
- Decorative motif of highly conventionalized flowers or buds derived from certain Egyptian plants; common in ancient Egyptian art and, in classicizing styles, in anthemions.