Glossary

Sometimes I use words that are Hindu-specific or even me-specific. Rather than explain them in every post where they come up, considering that many readers might already know the meanings, I will link to this glossary.

Advaita: the branch of Hinduism that I am a part of. It literally translates to “non-duality.” It is categorized by a belief that in reality we are all One consciousness and that there is no barrier between a soul and God. Everything in all of creation is part of the one God.

Atman: The word “atman” means “self” and nothing more than that in the original Sanskrit. It is the word used when you say something like “I hurt myself,” etc. However, it is also the word used to talk about the greater consciousnesses that resides within each of us, the part of us that is God. It is often translated as “soul.” When it is upper cased in English, you can be sure that it is referring to the part of God that is within us. The Self rather than the self.

Kali Yuga: “Yuga” means age, as in the Golden Age or the Bronze Age. It is a very long period of time. Of the four ages in Hindu belief, the Kali is the final one. It is a period full of ignorance and darkness where it is particularly difficult to find truth, light, and enlightenment. At the end of the kali yuga, the world will be destroyed and the universe will rest, unmanifest, for a period of time before being reborn.

Puja: A worship ceremony involving chants, offerings to Gods, and often aarti (circling a tray of lights in front of Gods or people one is honoring).

Maya: The illusion that the world around us is reality. The world is like a dream-state and the experiences we have within the world are illusions. Maya is like the set-dressings of the play of life.

Moksha: Liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth.

Samadhi: Perfect, pure consciousnesses.  The state to which we aspire (as Advaitan Hindus). Sometimes also translated as paradise or heaven.

Sanskara: what is often meant when people in the west use the word “karma.” Karma is an action and actions have natural consequences. Those consequences can attach themselves to our soul as seeds of future experiences. Those seeds are called sanskara. The consequences of our current actions will play themselves out whether in this lifetime or in more to come. In order to be free of the cycle of death and rebirth, to realize our true selves, and become one with God, we have to burn through the consequences we have left and avoid creating future sanskara (which may require more lives to experience). In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna offers insight on how to avoid gathering more sanskara.

Swami: A monk (i.e., someone who has taken vows into a Hindu monastic order).

Listening to a podcast recently, I realized that many people don’t know how to pronounce Sanskrit words like these, having only ever read them. So I did a video where I read this page. I’ll update it as I have new words here. Let me know on Twitter what words you would like to hear pronounced (@ambaablog)

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