This information was found by Prashant Parikh, host of the Bhagavad Gita Study Group on Facebook It originally comes from

While it isn’t necessary to know sanskrit grammar and syntax to learn vedAnta, it is still important to understand some of the basic terminology, as you will see many of these words interspersed in English sentences while studying vedAnta.

The reason is this: language is informed by culture. The Vedic culture evolved in a direction conducive to spiritual growth, and hence these nuances are to be found in the sanskrit language alone. For example, AtmA is *not* the same as ‘soul’, mithyA does not mean ‘false’, ishvara does not mean ‘God’. Furthermore, we often hear buzz words like ‘self-realization’, ‘enlightenment’ etc which honestly don’t make any sense with regards to ‘AtmA jnAnam’.

Another point I would like to raise is that the Indian discourse is inevitably directed in western terms, which is not good, because by doing so we lose out on a great deal of meaning- as they say, lost in translation. Just as some sanskrit words such as ‘yogA’ etc found their way into the English language due to persistent usage, similarly we must continue using the correct sanskrit words to denote vedic ideas, one day we will find that instead of having to compromise on our language, others too will start using the same words we do, and this will not only help our personal understanding of the culture and religion, but also aid in posterity. My suggestion would be to use sanskrit words wherever applicable.

These are about 200 words, I can’t think of any more words you would ever need to know beyond this, unless you wish to take up a vedAnta teaching position. If you are lazy, you can get away with around 30-40 words. Just learn the nouns and you’ll be fine 🙂

hariH om



Acala That which is devoid of movement
Adhishtanam Sub-stratum.  In Advaita Vedanta,  the real entity located in which an unreal thing is perceived
Adhyasa Superimposition. The wrong notion concerning a real entity, attributing to it the nature and characteristics of an unreal thing  and vice versa
Advayam Non-dual . The only Absolute Reality
Agami karma Punya and papa arising from action and thought in the present janma
Ahambrahmasmi “I am Brahman”
Ahamkara Mind cum reflected consciousness
Ajah That which has no birth
Akasa Space
Akhanda caitanyam Undivided, all pervading consciousness
Anadi That which has no origin
Ananda Bliss
Anandamaya kosa Bliss sheath. The ignorance and bliss experienced by a person during deep sleep
Anantam That which is not limited , space-wise, time-wise or entity-wise. The infinite
Anantam That which has no end
Anavastha dosha The fallacy of infinite regress
Anirvacaniyam Unexplainability; Undefinability
Annamaya kosa The physical body
Antahkarana Mind – consisting of Manas, buddhi, ahamkara, and citta
Arthadhyasa Perception of an unreal entity
Asanga Unassociated.; relationless
Asuras Demons
Atma The Consciousness aspect of Brahman’s nature recognized as the witness-consciousness in individual beings.
Avarana sakti Veiling power. The power of Maya by which Maya makes human beings forget their real nature
Avasthatraya viveka Enquiry into one’s real nature by analyzing the states of waking, dream and deep sleep
Avatara Incarnation
Avidya Maya
Ahampratyaya The ‘I’ notion part of the mind,  the changing ‘I’ as the knower, doer etc.
Avidya vritti The mode of the dormant mind  in sushupti registering the non-experiencing state.
Avyakruta Literal meaning is ‘unevolved’. However, it is used as a technical term synonymous with Maya
Avyakta Literal meaning is ‘ unmanifest’. However, it is used as a technical term synonymous with Maya
Avyavaharyam That which is beyond transactions
Ayamatama Brahma “This consciousness which is my real nature is none other than the all pervading consciousness”
Bhashya Commentary on the scriptural text
Bhokata Enjoyer or sufferer
Bhokruttvam The sense that one is an enjoyer or sufferer
Bhrama (1)Erroneous knowledge (2) Illusion
Brahmaa Creator-God.  The creator aspect of Iswara
Brahman The Absolute Reality defined as Existence-Consciousness-Bliss
Brahmana Seeker of knowledge of Brahman; one who has known Brahman
Brahmasatyam jaganmithya Brahman is the Reality; the universe is mithya
Buddhi Faculty of the mind which is of the nature of decision  – also, the reasoning faculty – generally referred to as the intellect
Caitanyam Consciousness
Cidabhasa Reflected  Consciousness
Cit Consciousness
Dama Control of the  sense organs of perception and action
Devas Gods. Deities
Drkdrsya viveka Enquiry into one’s real nature by analysing  the known and the knower
Dwaitam The existence of more than one reality
Golakam The physical part of the sense organs
Guna Attribute
Guru Preceptor
Hiranyagrha (1) Brahmaa , the  God embodying Iswara’s power of  creation power   (2) Cosmic subtle body
Indriya The energy of the sense organs
Iswara Maya cum cidabhasa. Cosmic causal body.
Jagat The universe
Jagrat avastha The waking state
Janma One life span; birth
Jiva Synonym of jivatma
Jivabrama aikyam Identity of the essential nature of Jivatma and Paramatma
Jivanmukta One who has become liberated while living.
Jivanmukti Liberation from Samsara in the current life itself
Jivatma The conglomerate of body, mind and atma
Jnana kanda The latter part of the Veda dealing with Brahman, Jivatmas and jagat
Jnanadhyasa The wrong notion mistaking a real entity to be an unreal thing.
Jnanam (1) Consciousness (2) Knowledge
Jnanendriyas Sense organs of perception – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch
Jnani One who has gained knowledge of one’s identity with Brahman – jivabrama aikyam. The knowledge that one’s real nature is consciousness and that that consciousness is no different from the all pervading consciousness called Brahman
Kamya Karma Action for selfish ends
Karana sarira The causal body – the anandamaya kosa
Karma Action; merit and demerit
Karma kanda The former part of the Veda dealing with rituals
Karma Yoga Purificatory spiritual practices as preparation for study of Jnana kanda
Karmaphalam The enjoyment and suffering  undergone by the jivatma for punya and papa
Karmendriyas Sense organs of action – action through speech, legs, hands, anus and the genitals
Karta Doer
Kartrutvam The sense that one is a doer
Krama mukti Liberation from samsara after going to the abode of Hiranyagarbha by doing Hiranyagarbha or Iswara Upasana and being taught by Hiraanyagarbha himself
Lakshanam Features ; characteristics ; definition.
Laya Dissolution of the universe
Mananam The process of getting doubts clarifies by discussion with the teacher or by one’s own analysis and reasoning
Manas Faculty of mind which is of the nature of indecision or doubt; also the emotional aspect of antahkarana
Manomaya kosa The mind and the five sense organs of perception
Maya Unevolved names and forms resting, as a lower of reality, in Brahman
Mithya That which is experienced but has no real existence of its own
Moksha Liberation from samsara
Mumukshutvam Intense yearning for moksha
Nama roopa Name and form
Nididhyasanam The process of dwelling on the core of the teaching to overcome the habitual identification with the body mind complex
Nimitta karanam Intelligent cause
Nirakara Formless
Niravayava That which has no parts
Nirguna Attributeless
Nirvikalpa Divisionless
Nirvikara Changeless
Nitya Eternal
Pancabhootas The five basic compounds – space, air, fire water and earth
Pancakosa viveka Enquiry into one’s real nature by analyzing the five kosas
Papa Demerit, i.e., in the system of  karma, the debit entry in the ledger, as it were, for bad action or bad thought, to be discharged by imposing  suffering on the jivatma in the same birth or in some future birth.
Paramartika satyam Absolute reality
Paramatma Brahman
Parinama Transformation
Prajnaam Brahma The consciousness which is the nature of the individual is none other than the all pervading consciousness called Brahman
Prakarana grantha Works expounding Sruti
Prakriti Literal meaning is ‘nature’.  However, it  is used as a technical term synonymous with Maya
Prama Right knowledge
Pramanam The instrument of knowing
Pramata The knower
Prameyam The known
Prana The energy that regulates the physiological functions of living beings – five in number – prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana – responsible for functions such as respiration, circulation, digestion,  metabolism, ejection , locomotion, action etc. – generally referred to as ‘vital airs’
Pranamaya kosa The five pranas and the five sense organs of action
Prarabdha karma The quota of punya and papa allotted to be exhausted by enjoyment or suffering in a particular janam
Pratibhasika satyam Subjective reality
Pratyabhinja Recognition.
Pratyagatma When the all pervading consciousness is referred to as the consciousness recognizable by oneself in oneself, it is called Pratyagatma
Punya Merit, i.e., in the system of karma, the credit entry in the ledger, as it were,  for good action or good thought – to be discharged by conferring enjoyment or comfort on the jivatma in the same birth or in some future birth
Purushartha (1) Goals in life – material prosperity called artha, enjoyment called kama, merit gained by observance of one’s duties in accordance with scriptural commandments and prohibitions called dharma and moksha (2) free will
Sadhana catushtaya The four fold discipline qualifying for the study of Jnana kanda, consisting of viveka, vairagya, shatka sampatti, and mumukshutvam
Sadhanas Spiritual practices
Sakshi When the all pervading consciousness is referred as the consciousness that is the source of the reflected consciousness in the mind and is present throughout when mind has one cognition after another , it is called Sakshi
Sama Control or mastery over the mind
Samadhana Single-contended of the mind
Samanvaya Harmonious interpretation of texts – Sastra mentions six criteria – what is said in the beginning, what is said in the end, what is repeated, what is praised or condemned, what accords with logic and what is said to bring benefit.
Samashti Macrocosm
Samsara The cycle of births and deaths, karma and karma phalam punya and papa and  enjoyment and suffering.
Sancita karma The accumulated ‘bundle’ of punya and papa
Santimantra Benedictory verse
Sarvagatam All pervading
Sarvajnah The omniscient
Sarvasaktiman The omnipotent
Sarvatmabhava The sense that one is everything
Sastra Scripture.  Spiritual literature including Sruti, Smriti, Bhashyas, Vartikas, and Prakarana Granthas
Sat (1)Existence; (2) essence
Satyam That which exists in all three periods of time
Shatka Sampatti A  six fold  mental training consisting of sama dama, uparama, tritiksha, sraddha and samadhana
Siddhi Superhuman powers
Siva The God embodying Iswara’s power of  dissolution
Smriti Elaborations based on sruti. E.g., Bhagavat Gita. Literal meaning is memory; remembrance
Sraddha Faith in the teaching of the guru and scriptures
Sravanam Listening to the teaching of Sastra by a guru
Srishti Creation of the universe ; the unfolding of names and forms out of Maya
Sruti Veda, in four compilations – Rg, Yajuh,  Sama and Atharva
Sthiti Maintenance of the universe
Sthoola sarira The physical body – the annamaya kosa
Sukshma sarira The subtle body consisting of the pranamaya, manomaya and vijanamaya kosas
Sushupti The deep sleep state
Sutra Scriptural work in the form aphorisms
Swapna avastha The dreaming state
Swaroopam Intrinsic nature
Tattvamasi “Thou art That”.  The teaching “You, Jivatma are none other than Brahman”
Titiksha Endurance of discomforts, such as heat, cold etc .Equanimity towards the opposites of pleasure and pain. Acceptance of things and situations without grudging or complaint.
Triputi The division of the knower, the known and the knowing instrument or the act of knowing – the pramata, the prameyam and the pramanam
Upadana karanam Material cause
Upadhi The thing from which characteristics are falsely transferred to an entity that is close by
Upahitam The entity to which characteristics of a thing close by are falsely transferred
Upanishad Vedic texts dealing with Brahman, jivatmas and the  jagat
Upanishadic Used as an adjectival form of Upanishad
Uparati Performance of one’s duty towards himself, the parents, teacher, family, society etc., which involves sacrifice as opposed to insistence on rights which involves demands on others
Upasana Spiritual meditation
Vairagya Dispassion – Absence of desire for enjoyment of things of this world as also of other worlds
Vakyam Sentence
Vartika Commentary, in verse form ,on the scriptural text
Vasanas Impressions formed in the mind on account of experiences.
Veda The original Hindu religious scripture
Vedanta Janna kanda consisting of the Upanishads
Vedantic Used as an adjectival for of Vedanta
Videhamukti Dissolution of the sthoola, sukshma and karana sariras of a Jivanmukta when he dies
Vijanamaya kosa The intellect and the five sense organs of perception
Vikshepa sakti Projecting power. The power of Maya that projects the universe of names and forms on Brahman, the sub-stratum of pure Existence and also deludes jivatmas into mistaking the world to be real
Virat Cosmic physical body
Vishnu The God embodying the Iswara’s power of maintenance of the universe
Vivarta karanam The cause that produces effect without undergoing any change.
Viveka Discrimination of the eternal and the ephemeral
Vritti Thought mode
Vyashti Microcosm
Vyavaharika satyam Empirical reality