pronunciation of Sanskrit and Bengali words can only be
approximated in English since the Roman alphabet contains many
fewer letters and fewer sounds. Diacritical marks have been
omitted from Sanskrit words as they are of little help to
readers unfamiliar with their use as a guide to Sanskrit
A guide to English pronunciation has been
placed in parentheses after each entry using the following
vowel sounds; bolded letters in the pronunciation guide are
long vowels that would ordinarily have a macron (horizontal
bar placed on top):
|a sounds like o in
|a sounds like a in
sounds like e in prey|
|i sounds like i in fin|
|i sounds like ee in
|o sounds like o in
|u sounds like u in
|u sounds like oo in
|ai sounds like ai in
|au sounds like ow in
Advaita (ad vai' ta). The nondualistic
philosophy of Vedanta. See Vedanta.
Ashrama. The ashrama and publications department of the
Ramakrishna Order at Mayavati, with a branch in Calcutta. See
Akhandananda, Swami (1866-1937) (a
khan' da' nan da). A direct monastic disciple of Sri
Ramakrishna and the third President of the Ramakrishna Math
and Mission, known for his Selfless service to orphans and
Allah ho Akbar (al lah'
ho ak' bar). "God is great"-a Muslim
ananda (a' nan da). Bliss; the
last part of the monastic name.
ra ti). Worship of the Deity with waving of lights; evening
ashrama (ash' ra ma), also
ashram. A religious community, usually
Ashtavakra Samhita (ash
ta' vak ra sam' hit ta). The classic treatise on
atmajnani (at' ma gya'
ni). A knower of the Atman or the Self.
(at' man). The Self, or individual soul; also denotes
the Supreme Soul, which, according to the nondualistic
Vedanta, is one with the individual soul.
Sri (Ghosh) (1872-1950). The Founder of the Ashrama at
Pondicherry, India; a religious leader and the writer of a
large number of religious-philosophical books, including the
Vedanta, reinterpretation of the Vedas, and commentaries on
Avatar (a va tar'), also
Avatara. Divine Incarnation of God, or God embodied as
a human being at various times in history for the good of
mankind (for example, Krishna, Buddha, Christ, Chaitanya,
Mohammed, and Ramakrishna).
Babu (ba' bu). A well-to-do gentleman; a
title equivalent to "Mister" placed after a
Baburam Maharaj (ba' bu ram'
ma' ha raj). Swami Premananda.
Mataram (ban' de ma ta' ram). Lit., "Hail
Motherland." The opening words of a patriotic song by Bankim
Belur Math (be' lur mat').
The monastic headquarters of the Ramakrishna Order
(Ramakrishna Math and Mission) situated on the Ganges river
four miles north of Calcutta at Belur, Howrah,
Benares, also Banaras. See
Bhagavad Gita (bha' ga vad
gi' ta), or Gita. Lit., "Song of God."
The well-known Hindu scripture describing the paths (yogas) to
the realization of God.
bhakti (bhak' ti).
Divine love; devotion to a Personal God.
yoga. The path of devotion to Divine
brahmachari (brah' ma cha'
ri). A celibate religious male who has taken the first
monastic vows; the first stage of monastic life (fem.
brahmacharya (brah' ma
char' ya). First monastic vows; the the first stage of
Hindu life (continence in thought, word, and
Brahman (brah' man). The Absolute; the
Supreme Reality of Vedanta philosophy.
Swami (1863-1922) (brah' ma' nan da), also known as
"Maharaj." A direct monastic disciple
of Sri Ramakrishna, regarded as his spiritual son, and the
first President of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, which
grew into a widespread organization under his
brahmin (bra' min). A Hindu of
the highest caste, traditionally assigned to the
Brahmo Samaj (brah' mo sa
maj'). The theistic religious reform movement of
nineteenth-century India founded by Raja Ram Mohan
Brindaban (brin' da' ban), also
Vrindaban. An ancient site of pilgrimage on the banks
of the Jamuna river in
Uttar Pradesh, associated with the Avatar, Lord
chadar (cha' dar). Upper body cloth;
Chaitanya (1485-1533) (chai tan' ya). A
Hindu saint of Bengal who preached a form of Vaishnavism
based on the worship of Sri Krishna.
Ideal, or Ishta. The form of the Godhead chosen for
worship and meditation in the path to realizing the highest
communalism. Political strife based on
Dakshineswar (dak' shi nesh' war). The village
on the Ganges about five miles north of Calcutta with a temple
complex where Sri Ramakrishna spent most of his
darshan (dar' shan). Lit., "seeing." The
sense of purification experienced in holy
devotee. A spiritual seeker who is
devoted to the Personal God (may also be a
dharma (dhar' ma). Lit., "that which
holds your true nature." The inmost constitution of a thing,
the law of its inner being, acquired as a result of past
actions, which determines a person's conduct and sense of
right and wrong; moral or righteous living of an individual or
dhoti (dho' ti). Lower body cloth for a
dhyana (dhya' na). Deep
meditation in which there is an unbroken flow of
diksha (dik' sha).
Initiation of a seeker by a guru into spiritual
disciple. An initiated spiritual seeker in
relation to a guru.
discrimination. In Vedanta,
knowledge of what is real (eternal) and unreal
Divine Mother. The dynamic female
aspect of the Godhead, often represented as the divine consort
of Brahma, Vishnu, or Shiva.
Durga Puja (dur'
ga pu' ja). The autumnal ritualistic worship of
the Divine Mother as Goddess Durga, consort of Lord
Dvaita (dvai' ta). The dualistic
philosophy of Vedanta. See Vedanta.
Ganga (gang' ga). The Ganges river,
considered sacred by the Hindus.
ru a). The ochre cloth of the Hindu monk or
ghat (ghat). A bathing place on a
river or lake.
gherao (ghe' rao'). The
surrounding and detaining of a person to extract a
Great Master, or Master. Sri
guna (gu' na). The three qualities
of Nature: sattva (wisdom), rajas (action), and tamas
(inertia), discussed in the Samkhya philosophy (one of the six
systems of Hindu philosophy). See also specific
guru (gu' ru). Spiritual
Holy Mother. The name by which Sri Ramakrishna's
wife was known among his devotees; the spiritual consort of
Sri Ramakrishna. See Sarada
Ishta (ish' ta). The Chosen
Ishvara (ish' va ra). The Personal
Jai (jai), also Jaya. "Victory" or "Glory
japa (ja' pa), also japam.
Repetition of the name of God in a sacred formula. See
Jayrambati (jai' ram ba'
ti). The village in West Bengal where Sri Sarada Devi
jnana yoga (gya' na yo' ga). The path
of knowledge to Divine union.
jnani (gya' ni).
One who follows the path of knowledge and discrimination to
Kali (ka li). A name of the Divine
Mother; the presiding deity of the Dakshineswar
Kamarpukur (ka' mar pu'
kur). The village in West Bengal where Sri Ramakrishna was
karma (kar' ma). Action; the fruits of
karma yoga. The path of selfless action
to Divine union.
kirtan (kir' tan).
Devotional singing or chanting.
na). Divine Incarnation, widely worshipped in Hinduism and
prominent in the
Mahabharata and Bhagavad
kumbhamela (kum' bha me' la). A
mass assembly of monks held every three years in one of
several holy places in India.
kundalini (kun' da
li ni). Lit., "coiled up" like a serpent. The spiritual
energy lying dormant in all individuals that awakens in the
spiritual aspirant and passes upward in the spinal canal,
associated with progressively sublime mystic experiences and
lakh, also lak, lac (lak).
A hundred thousand, written as 1,00,000 (usually
lila (li' la). The divine
play in the phenomenal world, a special manifestation of which
is the advent of an Avatar.
Mahabharata (ma ha' bha' ra
ta). The famous Hindu epic poem of the fourth to fifth
centuries B.C. that includes the Bhagavad Gita and is
comprised of one hundred thousand couplets.
(ma' ha raj). Lit., "great king." Refers
specifically to Swami Brahmananda in the historical sense but
is commonly used to address any monk of the Ramakrishna Order
(it can be used alone but is often preceded by the monk's
familiar name prior to sannyas; for example, Chintaharan
Maharaj). Maidan (mai dan'). A huge field in central
mantra (man' tra), also mantram. A
sacred formula repeated in japa as a spiritual practice to
concentrate the mind on the Chosen Ideal.
Mahashaya, "M" (Mahendranath Gupta). A saintly householder
disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and the author of The Gospel of
maya (ma' ya). A term of
Vedanta philosophy denoting both the power of Brahman to
create, preserve, and destroy the universe, and the cosmic
ignorance veiling Brahman that leads man to identify with the
Mayavati (ma' ya
va ti). The location in the Himalayas of the
Ramakrishna Order's Advaita Ashrama that Swami Vivekananda
dedicated to nondualism, which includes the publishing house
of the same name. See Advaita Ashrama.
(mok' sha), also mukti (muk' ti). Liberation from the
Narendranath (na ren' dra nat'). The
pre-monastic name of Swami Vivekananda.
(nish' ta). Thoroughness; a dedicated attitude to any
Nitya (nit' ya). The Ultimate Reality; the
Nivedita, Sister (1867-1911),
Margaret Noble. A monastic disciple of Swami Vivekananda who
dedicated her life to the good of India and to the realization
of its highest ideals; the Founder of the Nivedita School in
Calcutta, now under Sri Sarada Math.
Om (aum). The most sacred word of the Vedas; a
word symbol representing both the personal aspect of God and
the impersonal Absolute (Brahman).
Panchavati (pan' cha va' ti). The grove of five
sacred trees planted by Sri Ramakrishna at the Dakshineswar
temple garden for his spiritual
Pandit (pan' dit). A scholar learned
in the scriptures.
Paramahamsa (pa' ra ma ham'
sa). A monk of the highest order who is a knower of Absolute
Truth (Brahman); applied specifically to Sri
pranam (pra nam').
Respectful salutation(s), usually by touching the feet or by
prasad (pra sad'). Food that
has been offered to the Lord (consecrated
Pravrajika (pra vra' ji
ka). The title of nuns associated with Sri Sarada Math
in India or with nuns of the Ramakrishna
Premananda, Swami (1861-1918) (pre' ma'
nan da). A direct monastic disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and a
leading figure at Belur Math in its early days, who managed
the monastery while leading an unostentatious life of
contemplation and service and was beloved of all for his
puja (pu' ja).
Radhakrishnan, Sir Sarvepalli (1888-1975). The
President of India and President of the Mission Institute of
Culture, respected as one of the most remarkable philosophers
and religious thinkers of modern India.
yoga (ra' ja yo' ga). The path of mind control to
Divine union, as described by Patanjali in his Yoga
rajas (ra' jas). Quality of activity or
restlessness. See guna.
(1836-86) (ra' ma krish' na). Hindu mystic
considered to be a Divine Incarnation (Avatar). By his direct
spiritual realization of the Ultimate Reality following
various paths, he established the harmony of all religions and
the veracity of both dualistic and nondualistic forms of
Ramakrishna Math and
Mission. The monastic order organized by Swami Vivekananda
in 1897. "The Ramakrishna Math and Mission represents a
synthetic ideal of renunciation and service, which not only
emphasizes a course of strict discipline, contemplation and
study, but also a life of self-dedication at the altar of
humanity for the attainment of the highest goal of human
existence" (Sri Ramakrishna Centenary Souvenir 1836-1936
[Calcutta: Belur Math, 1937]).
(ra' sa gol' la). A sweet popular in Bengal.
(ri' shi). Ancient Hindu seer of Truth to whom the words
of the Vedas were revealed; general term for a saint or
sadhana (sa' dha na). Spiritual
sadhu (sa' dhu). Holy man; a
samadhi (sa ma' dhi). Ecstatic
trance; ultimate communion with God.
(san' gha). Assembly or association; monastic
sannyas (san' yas). Final monastic
vows; fourth stage of Hindu life
sannyasin (san' ya' sin),
also sannyasi. Hindu monk (fem. sannyasini).
Devi, Sri (1853-1920) (sa' ra da de
vi). The wife of Sri Ramakrishna, also known as the
Holy Mother, felt to be an incarnation of the Divine Mother of
Sarada Math, Sri (sa' ra
da mat'). An order of nuns established in India in 1954
in the name of Sri Sarada Devi with monastic headquarters at
(1865-1927) (sa' ra da' nan da). A direct
monastic disciple of Sri
Ramakrishna and the first
Secretary of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission. He wrote the
definitive biography of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Sri Ramakrishna
Lilaprasanga (Sri Ramakrishna the Great Master), while sitting
as the Holy Mother's "gatekeeper" at the Udbodhan
sattva (sat' va). Quality of wisdom or
spiritual poise. See guna.
(sat' ya yu' ga). The age of righteousness according to Hindu
seva (se' va). Service.
sevak (se' vak). One who
Shakti (shak' ti). God as Mother of the
Universe; the dynamic aspect of life; the Primal Energy of
Brahman manifesting in the phenomenal
Shivananda, Swami (ca. 1850s-1934) (shi'
va' nan da), also known as "Mahapurush Maharaj." A
direct monastic disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and the second
President of the Ramakrishna Math and
Shivaratri (shi' va ra' tri). An
all-night vigil in early spring dedicated to Lord Shiva,
observed with fasting, worship, and
Sri (shri). A title of respect
meaning "revered" or "holy" (doubly honorific as Sri Sri),
used as a prefix to address a male or female deity or holy
personality; also used commonly as the Hindu equivalent of
Surya (sur' ya). The Sun Deity
sutras (su' tras). Scriptural
aphorisms; compressed teachings of
Swami (swa' mi). Lord,
master, spiritual teacher. Title of a Hindu
Swamiji (swa' mi ji).
Refers specifically to Swami Vivekananda in the historical
sense; a respectful way of addressing any swami ("ji"
Tagore, Rabindranath (1861-1941). The greatest
nineteenth-century poet and writer of Bengal, and an eminent
spokesman of modern Indian spiritual
tamas (ta' mas). Lit., "darkness."
Quality of inertia, dullness, and impurity. See
tapas (ta' pas). Austerity; spiritual
Thakur (ta' kur). Lit.,
"Master, Lord." The familiar name for Sri Ramakrishna among
Udbodhan (ud' bo dhan). The Bengali
journal of the Ramakrishna Order.
Office. Also known as Mother's House; the house in the
Baghbazar section of north Calcutta that served as a residence
for Sri Sarada Devi upstairs and the publishing office for
Udbodhan magazine downstairs.
Upanishad (u' pa
ni' shad), plural Upanishads. Philosophical portion of
the Vedas (Vedanta). These sacred
Vedantic texts of the fifth or fourth century B.C. explain the
identity of the individual soul (atman) with the Universal
Vairagya (vai' rag ya). Renunciation;
freedom from all selfish desires.
Formerly called Benares and now Kashi; a sacred city on the
Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, believed to give liberation to all
who die there.
Varishtha (va rish' ta). The
greatest of the Divine Incarnations
Veda (ve' da), plural Vedas. The most
ancient scriptures of the Hindus, regarded as direct divine
revelation and the ultimate authority of the Hindu
Vedanta (ve' dan' ta). Lit.,
"end of the Veda." The best known of the six systems of Hindu
philosophy, discussed mainly in the Upanishads, the Bhagavad
Gita, and the Brahmasutras. Vedantic schools of thought
include nondualism (Advaita), qualified nondualism
(Vishishtadvaita), and dualism (Dvaita), which encompass all
paths to the Ultimate Truth and all levels of spiritual
Vedanta Centres and Societies.
Regional centres of the Ramakrishna Order outside
Vedantist, also Vedantin. A
follower of Vedanta.
Vijaya greetings (vi' ja
ya'). Festive greetings to celebrate the fourth and
final day of the Durga Puja.
viveka (vi ve' ka).
Vivekananda, Swami (1863-1902)
(vi ve' ka' nan da), also known as "Swamiji." A direct
monastic disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and his chief apostle,
the leader of his brother monks and Founder of the Ramakrishna
Order. He revitalized Hinduism in India and was the first to
bring the message of Vedanta to the
yoga. Lit., "union." Union of the individual
soul and the Universal Soul; also the spiritual paths and
practices by which such union is effected. The four yogic
paths, bhakti, karma, raja, and jnana, suit spiritual
aspirants with different needs.
gi). Ascetic following a yogic path (fem.
Yogin Ma (yo gin' ma)
(1851-1924). A woman disciple of Sri Ramakrishna and close
companion of Sri Sarada Devi.
Zemindar (za min' dar'). Landlord.