Glossary for Geeta Study Circle

Bhagavad-Gītā | Parijaata

Reference: Course on The Bhagavad Gita

Currently, Hinduism is full of many different fuzzy ideas about the vocabulary and concepts it uses. This glossary is an attempt to clear up that confusion by providing scientifically precise definitions of the key terminology related to each chapter of Gita. The tool for generating these definitions is Subject Clearing. These definitions shall be regularly updated with clarity in mind.


Chapter 2

JIVĀTMAN (जीवात्मन्)
Jivātman has the dimensions of JIVA (identity) and ĀTMAN (viewpoint). It translates as human self. Please see HUMAN SELF in the Special Glossary.

JIVA (जीव)
Jiva means ‘to breathe or to live’. It is the body-mind system, which identifies the human self. It translates as identity. Please see IDENTITY in the Special Glossary.

ĀTMAN (आत्मन्)
Ātman is the consciousness that forms an individual’s frame of reference. It translates as viewpoint. Please see VIEWPOINT in the Special Glossary.

DEHA (देह)

Ego is a fixation on identity. You remove this fixation and you remove the ego. Having an identity (I-ness) is natural, but having an ego (fixation on I-ness) is not natural.

Soul is the viewpoint associated with the individual identity.

God is the infinite viewpoint that is unattached and static (see The Static Viewpoint). Man sees God as the state he wants to evolve to. Those who are deluded see God as a supernatural identity separate from them. They are using God as a mythological symbol for some unknown cosmic influence. NOTE: Man spearheads the evolution in this universe.

Please see IDENTITY.

Please see EGO.

Please see VIEWPOINT.

Please see GOD.

Moksha (मोक्ष) is derived from the root, muc, which means “to free, let go, release, liberate”. It refers to freedom from the cycle of death and rebirth. In the context of Hinduism, Moksha is the realization that Atman (self) and Brahman (the ultimate self-created reality) are one and the same.

Nirvāṇa (निर्वाण) means, literally, “blown out”, as in an oil lamp. It represents the ultimate state of release from dukkha and saṃsāra. In the Buddhist context, Nirvāṇa is the realization that there is nothing substantial and permanent underlying the concept of Atman (self).

NOTE 1: When you meditate on the concepts of MOKSHA and NIRVĀNA, you find that they are the same thing. Together they lead to the realization that there is nothing substantial and permanent underlying the ultimate self-created reality. All of this reduces to a tautology.

NOTE 2: MOKSHA and NIRVĀNA is the state of KNOWINGNESS. This is the same state as PARAMĀTMAN.

What if Krishna and Christ made love? - Q Spirit

Chit or Čit (चित्) is a Sanskrit word meaning consciousness or awareness. Chit is associated with Jivatman, Atman and Paramatman meaning that there are different levels, or different kinds of consciousness associated with these viewpoints.

Antahkarana (अन्तःकरण) literally translates as the “internal organ.” It consists of four parts: Manas, Buddhi, Chitta and Ahamkara. The environment impresses itself upon the MIND (MANAS). The assimilated impressions become BUDDHI; the unassimilated impressions become CHITTA. Both buddhi and chitta influence the functioning of the mind, which is expressed through AHAMKARA. This whole system is referred to as ANTAHKARNA.

Manas (मनस्), or mind, may be postulated as a matrix. This mental matrix is made up of perceptual elements that are generated from the sensations coming through the five sense organs (eye, ear, nose, tongue, and body). These perceptual elements get assimilated into the mental matrix and produce perceptions. The perceptual elements are connected with each other making infinity of different circuits possible within the mental matrix. Such circuits, when activated, form our thoughts and memories. The activity of thinking consists of the activation of these circuits.

Buddhi (बुद्धि) is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit root Budh (बुध् ), which literally means “to wake, be awake, observe, heed, attend, learn, become aware of, to know, be conscious again”. The term appears extensively in Rigveda and other Vedic literature. Buddhi means, states Monier Williams, the power to “form, retain concepts; intelligence, reason, intellect, mind”, the intellectual faculty and the ability to “discern, judge, comprehend, understand” something. Buddhi is a feminine Sanskrit noun derived from *budh, to be awake, to understand, to know. The same root is the basis for the more familiar masculine form Buddha and the abstract noun bodhi. NOTE: We may say that Buddhi is the assimilated part of the mental matrix.

Chitta or Čitta (चित्त) primarily represents one’s mindset, or state of mind. It is the term used to refer to the quality of mental processes as a whole. One’s state of mind at any given time affects one’s actions, speech, and thoughts. The citta is said to go off with a will of its own if not properly controlled. Generally speaking, a person will operate with a collection of changing mindsets, and some will occur regularly. While these mindsets determine the personality, they are not in control of themselves, but fluctuate and alternate. NOTE: We may say that Chitta is the unassimilated part of the mental matrix.

Ahamkāra (अहंंकाऱ) means “ego, I-sense in egotism”. See EGO.

Smrti (स्मृति) means “remembrance, reminiscence, thinking of or upon, calling to mind”, or simply “memory”. The word is found in ancient Vedic literature. In later usage, the term refers to tradition, memory, as well as “tradition that is remembered”.

Samskāras (संस्कार) are mental impressions, recollections, or psychological imprints. These samskāras manifest as tendencies, impulses, subliminal impressions, habitual potencies or innate dispositions. They are a basis for the development of karma theory. 

NOTE: Smrti (memory) is a part of Buddhi, whereas, Samskāras (unassimilated impressions) are a part of Chitta.

You are not aware of your unassimilated impressions (sensations, emotions and thoughts). The moment you become aware of them the perception of the details follows. The process of assimilation starts with perception. The next step is to become aware of the discontinuities, disharmonies and inconsistencies, and to resolve them.

Meditation is looking and not thinking. In meditation you simply observe the mind. You do not ransack the mind through thinking. You just face whatever comes up. You do not avoid, suppress, deny or resist. Unless you confront, you are not going to get anywhere. Meditation is not just sitting in a lotus position. Meditating is perceiving correctly by being there and doing nothing else. If you are not simply being there then your social conditioning is making you do something.

You are the identity that you are born with, and you have a finite viewpoint that can expand to become infinite.

Attachment is FIXATION. Most people are fixated on identity. Fixation on other things comes from the fixation on one’s personal identity. A person can be very fixated on his identity, and yet appear quite calm. Such a person will lose that calm quickly when he loses his zone of comfort. Many people are also fixated on the identities of others, especially on the identities of celebrities.

Ego Painting by Zuzana R. | Victory Art | Artworks | Victory Art


Chapter 3

Karma means “action.” In Hinduism, karma refers to an anomaly that is left unresolved after some action is taken. Such anomaly is carried forward until it is resolved. All doubts, perplexities and problems come from such anomalies.

Sanchit (संचित) means “accumulated”. Sanchit karma is the karma accumulated over time.

When you perform an action for its natural purpose without any other consideration, it becomes holy. That is the basic meaning of sacrifice. A sacrifice is an action performed without attachment. It does not bind you; it rather frees you up. This is Karma Yoga.

Discrimination, resolute intellect and devotion is present in all yoga; but in Jnana Yoga there is predominance of discrimination, in Karma Yoga there is predominance of resolute intellect, and in Bhakti Yoga there is predominance of devotion. But the goal is Moksha.



Hinduism is an organization of spiritual thought that started with the Vedic period and has continued till today. The Vedic period (c. 1500 -500 BCE) was a period of rapid development of thought with little organization. This is the period during which Krishna, very likely, existed as a yogi and had such a great impact that his name became synonymous with Hinduism. At the end of the Vedic period (500 BCE) there was organization of spiritual thought in the form of Jnana Yoga. Jnana Yoga separated all ritualism, and focused primarily on meditation. It clarified the concept of self, and the goal of meditation became accessing and becoming aware of the unassimilated impressions on one’s Chitta. This awareness brings up unknown sensations, emotions and thoughts that have been buried for a long time. This is followed by the process of assimilation, during which many realizations occur. This phase of spiritual organization became synonymous with Buddha. However, Jnana Yoga just happens to be very cerebral and was successfully followed by relatively few people. During the next phase of the organization (400-200 BCE) Patanjali and Ved Vyas expanded Jnana to Karma Yoga of detached action. Karma Yoga required giving up the fixation on worldly affairs. There was a fine line here. One engaged in the worldly affairs to the degree that the actions were in line with the natural laws. One’s disposition suited one to follow a certain class of activity in the society. It was mandatory for the person to perform his assigned duty to the best of his ability. This allowed the person to focus on developing his abilities in a detached manner. Karma Yoga is the main subject of the Bhagavad Gita (BG). It has less focus on the mind and more on detached action. In writing BG, Vyasa used the legendary character of Krishna to popularize Karma Yoga. BG introduces Jnana Yoga briefly in Chapter 2, with the concept of Atman, and then focuses on Karma Yoga as a preliminary step to Jnana Yoga. However, Karma Yoga ended up alienating people from their emotions. Like Jnana Yoga, it was successfully followed by relatively few people. In the centuries following the Bhagavad Gita, the emotional dimension of spiritual thought was explored. This led to Bhakti Yoga. Unlike Jnana and Karma, Bhakti was able to win the hearts and minds of people in large numbers. This makes Bhakti Yoga a fascinating subject. NOTE: Discrimination, resolute intellect and devotion is present in all yoga; but in Jnana Yoga there is predominance of discrimination, in Karma Yoga there is predominance of resolute intellect, and in Bhakti Yoga there is predominance of devotion.

Bhakti (भक्ति) literally means “attachment, participation, fondness for, homage, faith, love, devotion, worship, purity”. Bhakti is “emotional devotionalism”, particularly to a personal God or to spiritual ideas. Thus, bhakti requires a relationship between the devotee and the deity. NOTE: A bhakta feels deep emotions, but these emotions should not cut across the faculty to reason and understand.

Bhakti yoga is a spiritual practice focused on loving devotion towards a personal deity. The personal god varies with the devotee. It may include a god or goddess such as Ganesha, Krishna, Radha, Rama, Sita, Vishnu, Shiva, Shakti, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Parvati, Durga, and Surya among others. In Bhakti Yoga, the personal deity may encourage the person to focus on certain attributes all the time. That is a type of meditation. NOTE: Bhakti Yoga is an effort to popularize knowledge using the emotion of devotion. In no way does it minimize Jnana and Karma Yoga. A Bhakta should, by all means, make an effort to understand self and perform actions according to the natural laws. Some say that Bhaktas use more heart (emotions) than mind (logic). That may be so with common people, but the principles of Jnana and Karma yoga cannot be ignored and have to be followed, ultimately, even by the bhaktas. Bhakti Yoga has inspired much progress in arts and culture. However, the knowledge has become diluted by all the diverse symbolism. This makes it necessary to decipher the symbolism correctly.

Kirtan is a Bhakti Yoga technique in which attention is diverted away from mental fixations, so that mind is temporarily free to resolve anomalies in a natural fashion. Kirtan includes singing of bhajans and chanting. Bhajan refers to any devotional song with a religious theme or spiritual ideas. The term bhajanam means reverence and originates from the root word bhaj, which means to revere, as in ‘Bhaja Govindam’. NOTE: A technique to more deeply free the mind of fixations is meditation. Of course, one needs to resolve fixations themselves to keep the mind permanently free. Subject Clearing helps in resolving the fixations themselves.

To surrender to God means to let the laws of nature take over. You do not avoid, suppress, deny, or resist your tendencies but face them for what they are. This will make you become aware of your conditioning in depth and the laws of nature. This will help you become free of your conditioning and be able to navigate successfully with your basic nature. People suppress their tendencies and think they have surrendered. They have not.

Avatār literally means, “to make one’s appearance.” From its usage in Hinduism, an avatar appears to be a major step forward in evolution. Some of the avatars are: Matsya (fish), Kurma (tortoise), Varaha (boar), Narasimha (animal-man), Vamana (dwarf), Parshuram (warrior-sage), Rama (model of ethics), Krishna (model of love), Buddha (model of wisdom), Kalki (prophesied to end evil). NOTE: An Avatar is a symbol for a major step toward evolution.

In Bhagavata Purana, Krishna is considered an avatar that did not undergo a human birth. NOTE: As an avatar Krishna has become a symbol for a major step toward evolution. This means that, at one time, Krishna must have been an actual person who became a great yogi and attained moksha through his efforts. 

A deity or god serves as a symbol for the unknown cosmic influence. It is often defined as a supernatural being whose actions affect the world and the lives of human beings. It is considered divine and sacred. Formation of deities are essentially attempts to understand one’s life and how it is influenced in this universe. Through the “worship” of deities one evolves to new levels of consciousness. The Bhagavad Gita visualizes Krishna as the God teaching Jnana, Karma and Bhakti yoga. The Bhagavata Purana focuses on the worship of Krishna as the cosmic deity, which essentially demonstrates Bhakti yoga.

Purāna (पुराण) literally means “ancient, old”. It is a vast genre of Indian literature woven with the Bhakti movement. It includes diverse topics such as cosmogony, cosmology, genealogies of gods, goddesses, kings, heroes, sages, and demigods, folk tales, pilgrimages, temples, medicine, astronomy, grammar, mineralogy, humor, love stories, as well as theology and philosophy. Several of these texts are named after major Hindu deities such as Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma and Shakti. The Puranas are known for the intricate layers of symbolism depicted within their stories. They present a form of religion, wherein bhakti ultimately leads to self-knowledge, salvation (moksha) and bliss. They have been influential in the Hindu culture, inspiring major national and regional annual festivals of Hinduism.

The Bhakti movement refers to the trend in medieval Hinduism. It was inspired by many poet-saints, who championed a wide range of philosophical positions ranging from theistic dualism of Dvaita to absolute monism of Advaita Vedanta. It was a revival, reworking and recontextualisation of ancient Vedic traditions. Bhakti refers to passionate devotion (to a deity) to achieve salvation. It provided an individual-focused alternative path to spirituality regardless of one’s birth or gender. The Bhakti movement preached using the local languages so that the message reached the masses. NOTE: Bhakti movement has been a great effort to bring Vedic knowledge broadly to the uneducated masses. It has inspired much progress in arts and culture. However, the diverse symbolism has created much confusion and it requires careful deciphering.

Myth, a story of the gods, a religious account of the beginning of the world, the creation, fundamental events, the exemplary deeds of the gods as a result of which the world, nature, and culture were created together with all parts thereof and given their order, which still obtains. A myth expresses and confirms society’s religious values and norms, it provides a pattern of behavior to be imitated, testifies to the efficacy of ritual with its practical ends and establishes the sanctity of cult. NOTE: God is a mythological explanation for an unknown cosmic influence that does not have a face or personality. Ultimate authority resides in universal principles.

Kuru (कुरु) was the name of a Vedic Indo-Aryan tribal union in northern Iron Age India, encompassing the modern-day states of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and some parts of western part of Uttar Pradesh, which appeared in the Middle Vedic period (c. 1200 – c. 900 BCE) and developed into the first recorded state-level society in the Indian subcontinent.

Mahabharata describes the first civil war among the Kurus. It seems to have been composed about 800 to 1000 years later after the actual event. Krishna and Arjuna seems to be characters created by the author based on legends.

Astika (आस्तिक; from Sanskrit: asti, ‘there is, there exists’) means one who views deities existing as supernatural beings. 

Nāstika (from Sanskrit: na, ‘not’ + āstika) means one who views deities to be the symbolization of elements of nature.

Brahma (ब्रह्म) represents the ultimate metaphysical reality that is self-created. It is the relatively unchanging basis of the reality that is always changing in cycles. The self of a person is an aspect of Brahma. Saguna Brahmā (ब्रह्मा) is the reality as observed directly in this universe, which is also represented as a deity. Nirguna Brahma (ब्रह्म) is the unifying principle that underlies the universal reality. According to this principle, all reality is one, meaning that the reality is continuous, consistent and harmonious.

Vishnu (विष्णु) literally means the pervader. It is the all pervasive cosmic order that maintains cosmic equilibrium. It forms into universal principles. Vishnu, along with Brahma and Shiva, is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are part of extensive Hindu mythology. NOTE: Vishnu seems to be the description of the innate impulse that energizes every atom of this universe, and, therefore, our very beingness. Obviously, it is formless and the very root of everything. It generates the very sense organs that perceive. It manifests as space,  time, knowledge and all characteristics. It is the ultimate realization that one can have.

Shiva (शिव) means “auspicious, propitious, gracious, benign, kind, benevolent, friendly”. The term Shiva also connotes “liberation, final emancipation” and “the auspicious one”. It is the supreme power that recognizes the true nature of reality and destroys all illusion. Shiva is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. As a deity, Shiva is identified as the creator of the cosmos and liberator of Selfs from the birth-rebirth cycle. NOTE: The Static Viewpoint comes closest to describing Shiva.

Prakriti (प्रकृति) is “the original or natural form or condition of anything” and connotes “nature, body, matter, phenomenal universe”. It is a key concept in Hinduism, where it includes all the cognitive, moral, psychological, emotional, sensorial and physical aspects of reality. Prakriti has three different innate qualities (guṇas): sattva (goodness, calmness, harmonious), rajas (passion, activity, movement), and tamas (ignorance, inertia, laziness). The equilibrium of these qualities is the basis of all observed empirical reality. Prakriti refers to the feminine aspect of all life forms. It contrasts with the male aspect, Purusha, which is pure awareness and metaphysical consciousness.

Purusha (पुरुष) means the cosmic being or self, consciousness, and universal principle. It is atman working toward the state of parmātama. Brahma combines Prakriti (nature, matter) and Purusha (spirit, soul) to create a dazzling variety of living creatures, and tempest of causal nexus. NOTE: It is the universal viewpoint that still suffers from some fixations as it works its way towards becoming the static viewpoint.

Kālī (काली) is the power (SHAKTI) that emerges from SHIVA. It destroys all ignorance and leads one to the understanding of the ultimate reality (BRAHMA). Kali, as deity, is portrayed standing on Lord Shiva, with one foot forward. Her skin color appears to be dark, and she is wearing a garland of 51 skulls, denoting 51 letters of sanskrit alphabet. She is four armed, holding a Kharag, in her top left arm, denoting strength of divine knowledge. In her lower hand, she is holding a severed head denoting ego. Both of her right hands are in the abhaya (fearlessness) and varada (blessing) mudras. She is often depicted naked which symbolizes her being beyond the covering of Maya since she is far above Prakriti. NOTE: Kali symbolizes the concentrated effort to overcome the very source of ignorance.




Anomaly is anything that does not make sense because it is inconsistent, discontinuous or disharmonious. It generates doubts, perplexities and problems.

When you meditate on divinity you simply end up realizing that you and the universe are one. Your mental matrix is totally assimilated. You are free of anomalies.

Maya is actually the condition of perplexity, confusion or delusion. But this condition is impermanent, and it can be cleared up.

The idea of rebirth comes from variations in the characteristics that one is born with, along with the continuation of certain characteristics from one life cycle to the next. Both these factors may be explained through the phenomenon of genes and the programming they carry. However, it still remains to be explained what this genetic programming is and how it comes about. The genetic programming is the blue print that shapes the identity (body-mind system) of the organism. Its content comes from life cycles that have already occurred. Some of this programming contains anomalies that needs to be resolved. It is the resolution of these anomalies that drives the evolution. In Hinduism, these anomalies are referred to as “karma”, because they come to light through one’s actions.

Static Viewpoint is a synonym for Paramātman.

The Sthula Sharira is a synonym for Jiva (identity).

Subject Clearing is the general technique employed to clear up the confusion of relationships among different concepts. This handles the source of many problems the person is having.

The Sukshma Sharira is a synonym for Jivātman (viewpoint).


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  • VNRAI  On September 19, 2021 at 10:27 PM

    Totally agree with you

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