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Glossary of Sanskrit Terms

Luke Roberts (csx154@coventry.ac.uk) 2 Mar 1995 writes:

Only the more common terms used in yoga have been given here. Please email me with corrections, comments, and additions.

NB Unfortunately it is difficult to represent vowel marks in pure ASCII text, so I suggest you refer to a Sanskrit dictionary if you require the accurate pronunciation of a word.


You can use your browser's "find" function to search for English and Sanskrit terms on this page.


a - non
abhaya - freedom from fear
abhinivesa - possessiveness
abhyasa - steady effort
acharya - a religious teacher
adhah - down
adhara - a support
adharma - breach of duty
adhibhuta - the principle of objective existence
adhidaiva - the principle of subjective existence
adhikari - competent candidate
adhimatra - superior
adhimatratama - the highest, the supreme one
adhisthana - seat, abode
adhiyajna - the principle of sacrifice, incarnation
adho-mukha - face downwards
adho mukha svanasana - the dog stretch posture
adhyasa - a case of mistaken identity
adhyatma - the principle of self
adrishta - the unseen (e.g. actions of invisible entities)
adisvara - the primeval lord, a name of Shiva
aditi - the mother of the gods
aditya - son of aditi
advaita - non-duality of the universal spirit
advasana - the prone posture
agama - proof of the trustworthiness of a source of knowledge
aham - I
ahamkara - tendency to identify oneself with external phenomena, 'the I-maker'
ahimsa - non-violence
aishvarya - desire for power
ajapa - involuntary repetition (as with a mantra)
ajna - command
akarna - towards the ear
akarna dhanurasana - the shooting bow posture
akasha - ether
akrodha - freedom from anger
alabhdha-bhumikatva - the feeling that it is impossible to see reality
alamba - support
alasya - idleness
amanaska - the mind free from desire
amrita - the elixir of immortality
anahata - unbeaten
ananda - bliss
Ananta - infinite, a name of Vishnu
anantasana - Ananta's posture
anga - a limb, or body part
angamejayatva - unsteadiness of the body
angula - a finger
angushtha - the big toe
Anjana - the name of the mother of Hanuman
anjaneyasana - the splits
antahkarana - the mind
antara - within
antaranga - the practices of pranayama and pratyahara
antaratma - the inner self, residing in the heart
anuloma - with the grain, naturally
anumana - an inference
apana - one of the vital airs, controls the elimination of bodily wastes
apara - lower
aparigraha - abstention from greed, non-possessiveness
apunya - vice
arama - pleasure garden
ardha - half
ardha-baddha padmottanasana - the half-lotus forward bend posture
ardha-chandrasana - the half-moon posture
ardha-matsyendrasana - the half spinal-twist posture
ardhanarishvara - Shiva and his Shakti united as one
ardha-navasana - the half-boat posture
ardha-padmasana - the half-lotus posture
ardha-salabhasana - the half-locust posture
ardha-sarvangasana - the half-shoulderstand posture
ardha-sirsasana - the half headstand posture
Arjuna - a disciple of Krishna, hero of the Mahabharata
asamprajnata - unconscious samadhi
asana - seat, posture
ashcharyavat - wonderful
ashram - a yoga centre or school
ashta - eight
Ashtavakra - name of a deformed sage
ashva - a horse
ashvini - a mudra: contraction of the anal sphincter muscles
asmita - egotism
asteya - non-stealing
atman - the self, supreme soul
atmiyata - the feeling of oneness
aum - all, the absolute
avarana - a veil
avastha - a state of the mind
avatara - a divine incarnation, e.g. Buddha. The ten avataras of Vishnu are: Matsya(the fish), Kurma(the tortoise), Varaha(the boar), Narasimha(the man- lion), Vamana(the dwarf), Parashurama, Rama, Krishna, Balarama, and Kalki. avidya - metaphysical ignorance
avirati - sensuality
ayama - length, extension, restraint


baddha - caught
baddhahasta sirsasana - the bound hands headstand posture
bandha - binding, a muscular lock
bandha padmasana - the bound lotus posture
baka - a wading bird, the crane
Bali - a demon king
basti - method for cleaning the intestines
bhadrasana - the auspicious posture
bhagavad gita - the dialogues between Krishna and Arjuna
bhagavan - holy
Bhairava - terrible, one of the forms of Shiva
bhajana - a hymn
bhakti - devotion, worship
bhastrika - the bellows breath
bhati - light
bhavana - concentration
bhaya - fear
bheda - a division
bhedana - breaking through, piercing
bheka - a frog
bherunda - terrible
bherundasana - the formidable posture
bhoga - enjoyment
bhoktir - one who enjoys
bhramara - a large bee
bhramari - the bee breath
bhranti-darshana - a delusion
bhu - land
bhudana - the donation of land
bhuja - arm or shoulder
bhujanga - snake
bhujangasana - the cobra posture
bhujasana - the arm posture
bhumi - the object of meditation
bhumikatva - firm ground
bhuta - a ghost, an element
bija - seed
bindu - drop or point
bodhi - supreme knowledge
Brahma - the creator
Brahmins - the highest, priestly caste
brahmacharya - control of sexual impulses
brahmacharyasana - the posterior stretch posture
brahmadvara - the door where kundalini enters the spine
brahmanda-prana - cosmic breath
Buddha - Buddha
buddhi - wisdom, reason


chakra - a wheel or vortex
chakra-bandha - the binding which seals all of the chakras
chakrasana - the wheel posture
chandra - the moon
chatur - four
chela - a pupil
chit - pure consciousness
chitrini - a fine cord within the spine
chitta - mind-stuff, the lower parts of mind - such as memory
chitta-vikshepa - confusion, distraction
chitta-vritti - a mode of behaviour
crore - ten million


Dadhicha - a sage who gave his bones to the gods, from which was fashioned the thunderbolt which slew Vrita
Daitya - a demon son of Diti
dakini - the goddess in muladhara
Daksa - a lord of created beings
daksina - the right side
dama - control of the body and senses
damani - a layer within a nadi allowing for the passage of energy
dana - giving
Danava - a demon
danda - a staff
dandasana - the staff posture
darbha - a sweet-smelling dried grass
darshama - a visit to a great person, viewpoint or vision
daurmanasya - despair
dehi - the self
deva - a divine being
devadatta - one of the vital airs, which causes yawning
devata - a divine being similar to an angel
deva-dasi - a temple prostitute
devi - a goddess
dhanu - a bow
dhanurasana - the bow posture
dharana - concentration
dharma - the law, duty, way of life
dhasanjaya - a vital air that stays in the body after death, sometimes bloating the corpse
dhenu - a cow
dhirata - strength
dhwani - a resonant sound
dhyana - contemplation
dirgha - long
Diti - mother of the daityas demons
dradhasana - the side relaxation posture
drashta - consciousness, the 'witness'
dridhata - strength
duhkha - pain, grief
dvesha - hatred
dvi - two, both
dvi-pada - two feet


eka - one, single
eka pada hastasana - the one leg posture
eka pada kakasana - the one leg crow posture
eka pada sirsasana - the leg-behind-head posture
ekgara - one-pointed
ekamevadvitiyam - one without a second


gana - Shiva's attendants
Ganapati - god of luck and wisdom
ganda - the cheek
garbha-pinda - an embryo
garbhasana - the foetus posture
garuda - an eagle
garudasana - the eagle posture
ghata - a pot, the body
ghi - clarified butter
go - a cow
gomukha - musical instrument resembling a cow's face
gomukhasana - the cow-faced posture
gorakshasana - the cowherd posture
gotra - family, race
granthi - a knot, obstruction in the chitrini
gu - darkness
gulma - the spleen
guna - a quality of nature
gup - guard, hide
guptasana - the hidden posture
guru - a spiritual teacher, heavy, important


ha - the sun
Hakini - the goddess in ajna
hala - a plough
halasana - the plough posture
hamasana - the altered peacock posture
hamsa - a swan
Hanuman - a monkey chief, son of Anjana and Vayu
hanumanasana - the splits
hasta - the hand
hasta padangusthasana - the hand-to-big-toe posture
hatha - force, against one's will
hatha-yoga - union with the supreme via discipline
himsa - violence
Hiranya-kashipu - a demon king, killed by Vishnu


ichchha - the will
ida - the channel on the left of the spine
indriya - organ of sense or action
indriya-jaya - mastery of the senses by controlling the desires
Isha - a form of Shiva
ishvara - a supreme being, god
ishvara-pranidhana - attentiveness to god


jagrata-avastha - complete awareness of the state of the mind
jalandhara - bandha where the chin rests in the notch between the collar bones
janma - birth, incarnation
janu - the knee
janu sirsasana - the head-knee posture
japa - repetition of a mantra
jathara - the stomach
jathara parivartanasana - the belly-turning posture
jati - circumstances of life to which one is born
jaya - victory
jiva - a creature
jivana - life
jivatma - the individual soul
jnana - knowledge, especially spiritual knowledge
jnanendriya - an organ of knowledge, i.e. the five senses
jyotir dhyana - luminous contemplation
jyotis - inner light


kailasa - a Himalayan mountain, home of Shiva
kaivalya - spiritual independence and freedom
kakasana - the crow posture
Kakini - the goddess in anahata
kalabhairavasana - Lord Kalabhairava's posture
kali-yuga - the current, pleasure-loving age
Kama - desire for material pleasures, the god of passion
kama-dhenu - the heavenly cow
kanda - a knot, the place where the three main nadis join
kandasana - the upward ankle-twist posture
kapala - the skull
kapalabhati - a process to clear the sinuses
kapota - a dove
kapotasana - the dove posture
karma - work, action, the law of cause and effect
karmaphala - the result of an action
karma-yoga - unselfish actions
karmendriya - an action organ, e.g. the hands or feet
karnapidasana - the ear-press posture
Kartikeya - the god of war, was reared by the Pleiades
karuna - pity, tenderness
kathanta - howness
katikasana - the front-stretching posture
kaustubha - one of Vishnu's jewels
kaya - the body
kayika - pertaining to the body
kevala - whole, pure
khandapitasana - the ankle-twist posture
khechari - mudra where the tongue is inserted in the upper cavity
khyati - an outlook of knowledge
kleshas - the five sources of trouble and suffering
kona - an angle
koshas - bodies or sheaths
krauncha - a heron
krikara - one of the vital airs, causes coughing and sneezing
Krishna - the eighth incarnation of vishnu
krishnasana - the Krishna posture
kriya - cleaning
krounchasana - the heron posture
Krttikas - the Pleiades
kshatriyas - the caste of princes and warriors
kshipta - neglected or distracted
kukutasana - the cockerel posture
kumbha - a pot
kumbhaka - holding the breath
kunda - starting place of kundalini
kundala - coil of rope
kundalini - a coiled female snake, the latent energy at the base of the spine
kurma - a tortoise, one of the vital airs - controls blinking
kurmasana - the tortoise (leg-lock) posture
kutichaka - the hut-builder


lac 100,000
laghava - lightness
laghu - handsome, small
Lakini - the goddess in manipuraka
Lakshmi - goddess of beauty and luck
lalata - the forehead
Lanka - the kingdon of Ravana, Ceylon
lauliki - a movement of the abdominal muscles and organs
laya - absorption of the mind
laya-yoga - yoga using the latent power of kundalini
lingam - the phallus
lobha - greed
loka - a habitat
lola - swinging
lolasana - the swing posture
loma - hair


madhyama - average
maha - mighty
mahabandha/mahamudra - types of mudra
Mahadeva - the great god - Shiva
mahat - cosmic consciousness
maitri - friendliness
maithuna - sacramental intercourse
makara - a crocodile
makarasana - the crocodile posture
mala - a wreath
malasana - the garland posture
man - to think
manana - pondering
manas - the reasoning ability of the mind
manasika - of the mind
mandala - circle
Mandara - mountain used by the gods to stir the cosmic ocean
manduka - a frog
mandukasana - the frog posture
mani - a jewel
manipura - navel
manomani - samadhi
mantra - a prayer or sacred thought
Manu - father of the human race
marga - a path
matsya - a fish
matsyasana - the fish posture
matsyendrasana - the posture of Matsyendra
maya - illusion
mayura - a peacock
mayurasana - the peacock posture
meru-danda - the spinal column
mimansa - one of the schools of Indian philosophy
mirdu - soft, gentle
mirta - a corpse
mirtasana - the corpse posture
moha - infatuation or delusion
moksha - emancipation of the soul from rebirth
mudha - foolish, stupid
mudra - a seal
mudita - delight
mudras - muscular contractions that include the bandhas
mukha - the mouth
mukta - liberated
muktasana - the liberated posture
mukta hasta sirsasana - the freehand headstand posture
mula - root
mulabandhasana - the ankle-twist posture
mulashodhana - cleansing the rectum
murcha - mind-fainting


nabhipedasana - the upward ankle-twist posture
nada - an internal sound
nadi - a channel within the subtle body
nadi-shodhana - the purification of the nadis
naga - the vital air that causes burping
naishkaramya karma - actionless action
nakra - a crocodile
namah - a salute
nara - a man
Narasimha - the man-lion, fourth incarnation of Vishnu
Narayana - the supporter of life - Vishnu
Nataraja - Lord of the dancers, a name of Shiva
natarajasana - the Lord of the Dance posture
nauli - an abdominal exercise (lauliki)
nava - a boat
navasana - the boat posture
neti - not so
neti-yoga - cleansing of the nostrils
niddhyasana - meditation and contemplation
nilimpa - a pictured one: a god
niralamba - unsupported
niralamba sarvangasana - the balancing shoulderstand posture
niranjana - pure, free from falsehood
nirlipta - unstainedness
nirodha - control or restraint
nirvana - freedom of the personal soul from the physical world
nirvichara - non-investigational meditation
nirvitarka - non-inspectional meditation
niyama - self-purification through discipline
nyaya - one of the schools of Indian philosophy


ojas - concentrated psychic power
omkarasana - the OM posture


pada - part of a book, the foot
padahastasana - the balancing forward bend posture
padangushtha - the big toe
padasana - the foot above posture
padma - a lotus
Padmanabha - a name of Vishnu
padmasana - the lotus posture
palmyrasana - the palm tree posture
para - beyond, higher
paramatma - the supreme spirit
parangmukhi - facing inwards
Parashurama - sixth incarnation of Vishnu
parigha - a bolt for shutting a gate
parighasana - the locked gate posture
parigraha - hoarding
paripurna - complete, whole
parivartana - revolving
parivrajaka - wanderer
parivritta parshvakonasana - the revolved lateral angle posture
parivritta paschimottanasana - the twisting back-stretching posture
parivritta sirsasana - the twisting head-knee posture
parivritta trikonasana - the revolved triangle posture
parshva - the side
parshva dhanurasana - the sideways bow posture
parshva halasana - the lateral plough posture
parshva sarvangasana - the sideways shoulderstand posture
parshva sirsasana - the headstand posture
parshvakakasana - the sideways crow posture
parvatasana - the mountain posture
paryanka - a bed
pasasana - the noose posture
pasha - a trap, noose
pashchima - west, the back of the body
pashchimottoanasana - the back-stretching posture
Patanjali - author of the Yoga Sutras
pavanmuktasana - the knee squeeze posture
pida - pain
pincha - the chin, feather
pinda - an embryo
pingala - the channel on the right of the spine
pliha - the spleen
Prahlada - a devotee of Vishnu
Prajapati - Lord of created beings
prajna - wisdom
prakasha - shining, clear
prakriti - eternal nature
pramada - indifference
pramana - authority, an ideal
prana - breath, energy, life
pranava - another name for aum
prana-vayu - a vital air that moves in the chest
pranayama - control of the breath
pranidhana - dedication
prasarita - stretched out
prasarita padottanasana - the spread legs posture
prashvasa - expiration
pratiloma - going against the grain
pratyahara - control of the senses
pratyaksha - direct evidence
punarjanman - rebirth
punya - virtue, merit, good
purakha - inhalation
purnata - perfection
purusha - the spirit or soul
purvottana - the front of the body
purvottanasana - the front-stretching posture


raga - anger, passion
raja - a ruler, king
raja-yoga - the yoga of mastery over the mind
rajas - mobility
Rakini - the goddess in svadhishthana
Rama - the seventh incarnation of Vishnu
rambha - plantain
Ravana - a demon king from Lanka who abducted the wife of Rama
rechaka - outbreathing
retus - semen
ru - light
Rudra - a form of Shiva
rupa - a form or body


Sadashiva - a form of Shiva
sadhaka - an aspirant, seeker
sadhana - practice, a quest
sah - he, that
sahaja - the karma to which one is born
sahasrara - the thousand-petalled lotus within the cerebral cavity
sakshatkara - the spirit
sakthi chalini - the nerve-power posture
salabhasana - the locust posture
salamba - supported
salamba sarvangasana - the supported shoulderstand posture
sama - equal, upright
samakonasana - the sideways leg-splits posture
sama-sthiti - standing still
sama-vritti - pranayama where inhalation, exhalation and suspension of breath are of same length
samadhi - state where the aspirant is one with the object of his meditation
samana - one of the vital airs, which aids digestion
samasthiti - the upright-sitting posture
sambhava - birth
samkatasana - the dangerous posture
samkhya - one of the schools of Indian philosophy
samkhya yoga - the yoga of science
samshaya - doubt
samskaras - memories
samyama - dharana, dhyana and samadhi taken together
sannyasi - one who has renounced the world
sanjivani - a life-restoring elixir or herb
sansara - the wheel of reincarnation
santosha - contentment
sara - essence
Sarasvati - goddess of speech and learning
sarva - whole
sarvanga - the whole body
sarvangasana - the shoulderstand posture
sat - reality
sat chit ananda - bliss consciousness
Sati - mother of Kartikeya and Ganapati
sattva - orderliness, the quality of goodness in everything natural
satya - honesty
savasana - the corpse posture
savichara - investigational meditation
savitarka - inspectional meditation
sayanasana - the repose posture
setu - a bridge
setu bandhasana - the bridge posture
shabda - sound, the creative principle
Shakini - the goddess in vishuddha
shakti - female creative power, goddess
shaktichalani - one of the mudras, involves contracting the rectum
shalabha - a locust
shalabhasana - the locust posture
shama - calming the mind
shambhavi - related to Shiva
shambhavi mudra - gazing between ones eyes
Shambhu - a name of Shiva
shan - six
Shanmukha - with six mouths, a name of Kartikeya
shantih - peace
sharira - a body
shaucha - mental and bodily cleanliness
shava - a corpse
shavasana - the corpse posture
shayana - a bed
shesha - the serpent of eternity, having one thousand heads
shirsha - the head
shirshasana - the head-stand posture
shishya - the pupil of a guru
Shita - cold
Shiva - the destroyer
shmrti - memory
shodana - purification
shoka - anguish
shraddha - faith and trust
shravana - the act of listening to the doctrines
shrivatsa - the curl on Vishnu's breast
shuddha - clean, pure
shvana - a dog
shvasa - inspiration
svasa-prashvasa - heaving and sighing
siddha - a prophet or adept
siddhasana - the adept's posture
siddhi - a psychic (or occult) power
simha - a lion
simhasana - the lion posture
sirsangusthasana - the deep lunge posture
sirsasana - the headstand posture
Sita - the wife of Rama
Skanda - a name of Kartikeya, god of war
sodhana - purification
steya - robbery
sthirata - steadiness
sthiti - stability
sthula-sharira - the dense body
styana - sloth
sudras - the caste of servants and labourers
sukha - happiness
sukhasana - the easy posture
sukshma-sharira - the astral body
sumanasya - benevolence
supta - sleeping
supta baddha padmasana - the supine bound lotus posture
supta janu sirsasana - the supine head-knee posture
supta padangusthasana - the supine big toe posture
supta paschimottanasana - the supine back-stretching posture
supta vajrasana - the supine thunderbolt posture
surya - the sun
surya namaskar - the homage to the sun posture
sushumna - the spinal cord
sushupti-avastha - the state of the mind in dreamless sleep
sutra - a thread
sva - vital force, soul
svadhyaya - education through the study of the divine texts
svapnavastha - the state of the mind in a dream
svarga - heaven
svarupa - one's true nature
svasamvedana - the understanding of oneself
svastikasana - the prosperous posture


tada - a mountain
tamas - darkness, inertia, ignorance
tan - to stretch
tandava - violent dance of Shiva
tanmatras - the five potentials or senses
tantras - treatises on ritual, meditation, discipline, etc.
tap - to burn, shine, suffer
tapas - austerity, purification
tara - crossing over
Taraka - a demon slain by Kartikeya
tat - that
tattva - an element, the twenty-four categories of thatness
tejas - radiant energy, majesty
tirieng - horizontal
tittibha - a firefly
tittibhasana - the firefly posture
tola - a balance
tolangulasana - the balance posture
tolasana - the scales posture
trataka - an exercise to clear the vision
tri - three
trikona - a triangle
trikonasana - the triangle posture
trishna - thirst, desire
Trivikrama - fifth incarnation of Vishnu, who filled the earth, heaven and hell with his three steps (krama)


ubhaya - both
ubhaya padangusthasana - the buttocks balance posture
udana - the vital air controlling the intake of food and air
uddiyana - a fetter or binding involving the raising of the diaphragm
ugra - powerful, noble
ugrasana - the posterior stretch posture
ullola - a large wave
Uma - Shiva's wife, Parvati
unmani - samadhi
Upanishads - the philosophical parts of the Vedas. 'upa' (near) 'ni' (down) sad (to sit) - the act of sitting down by one's Guru to receive instruction.
upavishtha - seated
upeksha - disregard
urdhra prasarita ekapadasana - balancing forward posture
urdhva - raised
urdhva hastattanasana - the up-stretched arms posture
urdhva-mukha - face upwards
urdhva-retus - a celibate
ushtra - a camel
ushtrasana - the camel posture
utkata - fierce
utkatasana - the the hunkering posture
uttana - an intense stretch
utthita - stretched
utthita eka pada sirsasana - the balancing leg-behind-head posture
utthita kurmasana - the balancing tortoise posture
utthita lingamasana - the balancing on the phallus posture
utthita padangusthasana - the balancing big toe posture
utthita parsvakonasana - the stretched lateral angle posture
utthita paschimottanasana - the balancing back-stretching posture


vacha - speech
vaikuntha - Vishnu
vairagya - uncolouredness, not desiring physical objects
vaisesika - one of the schools of Indian philosophy
vaisyas - the caste of merchants and professionals
vajra - one of the channels in the spine, a thunderbolt, diamond
vajrasana - the thunderbolt posture
vajroli - the thunderbolt contraction
vakra - bent
vakrasana - the curved posture
valakhilya - a class of tiny entities, about the size of a thumb
vama - the left side
vamadevasana - Vamadeva's posture
Vamana - Vishnu's fifth incarnation
vamaprakasha - lovely shiningness
vasana - longing
Vasnata - the deity of Spring
vasti - internal cleansing
Vasuki - a name of Shesha
vatayana - a horse
vatayanasana - the horseface posture
vayus - the vital airs
veda - the sacred scriptures of the Hindus
vedana - feelings
vedanta - one of the schools of Indian philosophy
vedas - the sacred scriptures of the Hindus
vibhuti - divine power
vichara - continued thought
vidya - knowledge, science
vijnana - comprehension
vikalpa - imagination, fancy
vikshepa - confusion
vikshipta - mental aggitation
viloma - against the natural order of things
vipakas - the distressing results of karmas
viparita - reversed, inverted
viparitakarani - the upside-down posture
viparyaya - a mistaken view
vira - brave, a hero
virabhadrasana - the arrow posture
Virancha - name of Brahma
virasana - the hero posture
Virochana - a demon prince
virya - vitality, enthusiasm
vishama-vritti - uneven or strained movement whilst breathing
vishesha - particular
Vishnu - the preserver of life
vishudda - pure
vitarka - discernment
viveka - discrimination
vriksha - a tree
vrikshasana - the tree posture
vrishchika - a scorpion
vrishchikasana - the scorpion posture
vrit - to turn
vritti - a vortex, an idea, behaviour
vyadhi - illness
vyana - one of the vital airs, circulates energy all over the body


yajna - a sacrifice
Yama - the god of death
yamas - the five moral commandments
yantra - a design used in meditation
yastikasana - the stick posture
yoga - union, from 'yuj' - to join
yogadandasana - the yogin's staff posture
yogasana - the anchor posture
yoga-nidra - the sleep of yoga, where the body is resting but the mind is awake
yogi/yogin - one who practices yoga
yoni - vagina, womb, or source
yuga - an age
yuj - to yoke, join, concentrate on
yukta - joined with, one who has attained the communion with the supreme spirit

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