Glossary of Terms
the opposite of dharma; includes all forms of injustice, evil, and immorality.
ahimsathe sanskrit word for nonviolence.
the sanskrit word for the sky.
aksharathe equivalent of the syllable Om; a verbal equivalent of the eternal.
ashvatthaa holy tree, which Krishna references his depictions of the extent of divine power.
atmanthe Self or deepest part of the soul in every being that is often concealed by illusions, deceit and delusion.
avataran avatar is a form that a God takes in order to come to Earth. Since Gods do not come to Earth in their most powerful, divine forms, they take the shape of animals, humans, or other recognizable earthly creatures.
The Gita literally means 'Song of our Lord' and recounts the conversation between Arjuna and Krishna before Arjuna goes to fight the Kaurvas for the kingdom of Hastinapura.
bhaktithe sanskrit word for love and devotion.
the highest class in Hindu society - a priest or learned person.
devaanother word for God in Hindu mythology. Vishnu, Shiva, and Braham together make up the three main devas.
dharmaone of the key concepts of the Gita; literally translates to 'law' or 'duty.' Every being is subject to a cycle of birth and death in which one has to come to Earth to work off their karma by fulfilling their dharma -- or duty -- in a given lifetime. In the Gita, it is Arjuna's karma that he must rescue his kingdom from the evil Kauravas. But it is his dharma that he must fight in battle in order to do so -- his dharma is as a kshatriya, or as a warrior.
gunaThe gunas are referenced often in the Gita as the three qualities which can be used to categorize much of earthly beings and phenomena. The three gunas are saatva, or harmony and purity, rajas or energy/passion, and tamas, which is darkness/ignorance.
jnanathe sanskrit word for the highest form of wisdom.
karmathe most important concept in the gita, explaining the cycle of birth and rebirth. People have a debt of karma to work off in their lifetime, and do so either by fulfilling or avoiding their dharma. Every action has a karmic consequence and so karma either accumulates or dissolves until the cycle of birth and rebirth ends.
kshatriyaA kshatriya is a member of the warrior class, which is traditionally the ruling class of Hindu societies.
lila'play,' or Krishna's divine game -- everything on Earth is a product of Krishna's lila, though there is a strict divine order and rule of law.
mayathe illusion that can mask the divine. This mask is sometimes conjured by the divine himself, as when he takes a disguise or an avatar. Or it is conjured by man himself in an attempt to deny the true form of divinity in order to pursue selfish actions.
prakritithe energy of the world from which the physical world appears -- it weaves with purusha, which is more the unseen spiritual matter -- to create the 'warp' and 'woof' of life.
pranathe sanskrit word for breath.
purushathe unseen spirit which links all beings and opposes prakriti or the material form on earth.
samsarathe cycle of birth and death that ends only when a person fully dissolves their karma.
tyagathe hindu word for total renunciation.
the act of living with the highest form of knowledge; it's putting jnana to work in everyday life.
yogayoga, literally "skill in action," is the process of achieving union with God, or nirvana. Achieving yoga means not only being selfless in action but achieving true meditation on the divine at all points in one's life, even the smallest of moments.
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