Hinduism Vocab

Ahimsa:

“Nonharm,” “nonviolence.”

Ashram:

A spiritual community.

Atman:

The spiritual essence of all individual human beings.

Avatar:

An earthly embodiment of a deity.

Bhagavad Gita:

A religious literary work about Krishna.

Bhakti:

Devotion to a deity or guru.

Bhakti Yoga:

The spiritual discipline of devotion to a deity or guru

Brahma:

God of creation.

Brahman:

The spiritual essence of the universe.

Brahmin:

Member of the priestly caste.

Caste:

A major social class sanctioned by Hinduism.

Devi:

“Goddess”; the Divine Feminine, also called the Great Mother.

Dhyana:

Meditation.

Durga:

“Awe-inspiring,” “distant”; a mother-goddess; a form of Devi.

Guru:

A spiritual teacher.

Hatha Yoga:

The spiritual discipline of postures and bodily exercises.

Jnana Yoga:

The spiritual discipline of knowledge and insight.

Kali:

“Dark,” a form of Devi; a goddess associated with destruction of rebirth.

Karma:

The moral law of cause and effect that determines the direction of rebirth.

Karma Yoga:

The spiritual discipline of selfless action.

Krishna:

A god associated with divine playfulness; a form of Vishnu.

Kundalini Yoga:

A form of raja yoga that envisions the individual’s energy as a force that is capable of being raised from the center of the body to the head, producing a state of joy.

Mantra:

A short sacred phrase, often chanted or used in meditation.

Maya:

“Illusion”; what keeps us from seeing reality correctly; the world, viewed inadequately.

Moksha:

“Liberation” from personal limitation, egotism, and rebirth.

Monism:

The philosophical position that all apparently separate realities are ultimately one; the belief that God and the universe are the same, that the universe is divine.

Puja:

Offerings and ritual in honor of a deity.

Raja Yoga:

The “royal” discipline of meditation.

Rama:

A god and mythical king; a form of Vishnu.

Samadhi:

A state of complete inner peace resulting from meditation.

Samsara:

The everyday world of change and suffering leading to rebirth.

Sannyasin:

A wandering holy man.

Shiva:

A god associated with destruction and rebirth.

Trimurti:

“Three forms” of the divine (the three gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva).

Upanishads:

Written meditations on the spiritual essence of the universe and the self.

Vedas:

Four collections of ancient prayers and rituals:

Vishnu:

A god associated with preservation and love.

Yoga:

A spiritual discipline; a method for perfecting one’s union with the divine.

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