Glossary of Spiritual Terms

Reference: The Bhagavad Gita

The purpose of this Glossary is to express ancient Vedic knowledge using modern scientific language. The “translation” may not be exactly right at first, but, hopefully, it shall improve as better input is received.


The Vedas start with homage to Agni. Agni implies energy in all its forms. It is animated by an innate impulse. Energy is the basic substance of the universe. Everything physical, spiritual, real, imaginary, postulated or considered, is made of energy.

Atman is the innate impulse that animates a being. Atman carries samskaras (karmic impressions). When atman becomes embodied after birth, it is called jivatman. In jivatman the karmic impressions become activated and they influence the viewpoint, identity and behavior of the individual being. After death, the disembodied atman simply carries karmic impressions in a potential state. It has no individual identity or beingness (see The Bhagavad Gita, verse II:28). Life after life, karmic impressions come about and are also discharged. As net karmic impression become less, atman rises toward the state of paramatman (supreme atman). When net karmic impressions reduce to zero, the atman converges into the state of paramatman. Also see BRAHMA.

A being is an energy form animated by an innate impulse.

Bhagavān literally means “fortunate”, “blessed”, and hence “illustrious”, “divine”, “venerable”, “holy”, etc. Please see Etymology and meaning.
“He who understands the creation and dissolution, the appearance and disappearance of beings, the wisdom and ignorance, should be called Bhagavān.” — Vishnu Purana, VI.5.78

Brahma is the innate impulse manifested as energy in the form of the whole universe.

In modern language one would say that the highest metaphysical reality is the innate impulse, which is the characteristic of all energy. This impulse, on a universal scale, is understood as Brahma (the universal viewpoint). But, on the scale of an entity, it is understood as Atman (the individual viewpoint). There is quite a distance from Atman (or Paramatman) to Brahma in terms of broadness of the viewpoint.

Gross Body

Jeevatma (embodied atman)

The basic substance of the universe is energy, which is animated by an innate impulse. The innate impulse is evident in the propagation of light. Per the Law of conservation, energy is neither created nor destroyed. It only transitions from one form to another. Everything physical, spiritual, real, imaginary, postulated or considered is made of energy.

God is the experience of the innate impulse that underlies all energy.

The viewpoint, identity and individuality of jivatman (embodied atman)

ISHVARA (ईश्वर)
The composite word, Ishvara literally means “owner of best, beautiful”, “ruler of choices, blessings, boons”, or “chief of suitor, lover”. As a concept, Ishvara in ancient and medieval Sanskrit texts, variously means God, Supreme Being, Supreme Soul, lord, king or ruler, rich or wealthy man, god of love, deity Vishnu… [in Vedas,] the contextual meaning, however as the ancient Indian grammarian Pāṇini explains, is neither god nor supreme being. Please see Etymology.

It is how the universe appears to a person

State of freedom from all samskaras (karmic impressions)


One day of Brahma equal to 1000 Yugas, equal to 4320 million years. See Hindu units of time.

Maya consists of filters generated by karmic impressions that cloud one’s vision.

A presence, which is free of assumptions, bias and fixed ideas


Reality and unreality are the opposite ends of the scale of Is-ness, where is-ness is the sense of reality of the person. His is-ness on this scale improves as his viewpoint broadens.

SAMĀDHI (समाधि)
Samādhi means concentration of the thoughts, profound or abstract meditation, intense contemplation of any particular object (so as to identify the contemplator with the object meditated upon); this is the eighth and last stage of yoga; with Buddhists samādhi is the fourth and last stage of dhyāna or intense abstract meditation. Being “established in God” would mean the same thing as समाधि.

Karmic impressions brought about by one’s actions and their consequences

The bliss of pure thought energy

Thought energy is the fundamental energy on which the spectrum of radiative energy and matter rest. The thought energy resides in the mind, which then transitions into physical energy of the body.

The universal viewpoint uses the whole universe as the context for its contemplation, and it is free of all impressions and filters. It is much broader than the human viewpoint. The “I” or “Me” used by Krishna refers to this universal viewpoint. It is the clearest expression of BRAHMA as the innate impulse that constitutes the fabric of the universe. PARAMATMAN, from this viewpoint, is manifested as all forms in the universe and not just the human form. Of course, the universal viewpoint is neither created or destroyed.

Ultimate authority resides in universal principles, that are personified as Gods in Hinduism. The universal viewpoint is focused on the universal principles, which, also, are neither created or destroyed.

Unreality manifests itself in the form of inconsistencies, disharmonies and discontinuities. You resolve these things and the unreality disappears. It does not continue. Only the reality continues.

Vidhata means “inherent principles of existence.” Duality is a natural consequence of these principles. Any imbalance straightens out by itself.

Viewpoint is the frame of reference that a person is using. It is made up of that person’s considerations.


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  • vinaire  On June 8, 2020 at 6:55 AM

    In Scientology, the disembodied thetan seems to carry the same individuality that he had when embodied; but I don’t think that is the case with the Hindu concept of atman. Any specific individuality or identity is the result of samskaras (karmic impressions).

  • vinaire  On June 8, 2020 at 7:03 AM

    Note for me: Check out Duality and Dualism on this blog.

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