A translation of Sanskrit and Tamil words that Swamiji often uses in his satsangs (discourses).


abhishekam ritual bathing of a deity while chanting mantras

adharma lack of righteousness

Ādi Parāshakti original supreme energy

Āgamas collection of traditional teachings

Agni god of fire

agni the sacred fire

ahamkāra, ahankāram the sense of self, literally the “I-maker,” ego

ahimsā ‘non-injury’, ‘non-killing’. It implies the total avoidance of harming of any kind of living creatures not only by deeds, but also by words and in thoughts.

ākāsha space, ether

Ambā a name of the Divine Mother

Amman the Divine Mother

amrita, amritam nectar of immortality

ānanda, ānandam highest bliss

ānmajyoti light of the soul, of the higher Self

ānmika dharma dharma of spirituality

annadāna food offering

āratī waving of lights in worship

arul divine grace

āshram a hermitage, a place of spiritual retreat, a place where we can learn and follow the teachings of a spiritual master

asura demon

ātma, ātman soul, the higher Self

ātma svarūpahale embodiments of the Self

ātma vidya knowledge and realization of the Self

Aum / Om original cosmic vibration that symbolizes the Divine

Aumkār, Aumkāram / Omkār, Omkāram the sound of the sacred syllable (Aum/Om)

avatār complete incarnation of a God

Āyurveda ancient, natural system of medicine in India


Bhagavad Gītā “song of God”, a chapter in the Mahābharāta, a Sanskrit epic poem

bhajan devotional song

bhakta devotee

bhakti devotion

Bhārat Māta Mother India

Bhārata India

Bhārati she who supports

bhikku Buddhist monk

bhūmi the earth

Bhuvaneshvarī Mother Earth

Brahmā first aspect of the Hindu trinity, the creator

Brahma muhūrtam the time before sunrise considered ideal for spiritual practices

brahmachāri a person who practises self-control, celibacy

brahmachārya self-control, celibacy, first stage of life: childhood and learning

Buddha the founder of Buddhism

buddha an awakened one

Buddha Pūrnimā / Wesak full moon day in May celebrating the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha


chapatti wheat flour pancake

charanāmrit water that has been poured on the deity’s or master’s feet

Chola ancient ruling dynasty of Southern India


dāna charity

darshan sight of the Divine

Devī the Goddess, the Divine Mother

devī goddess

dharma fundamental laws that govern all the relations of human beings with all other beings, nature and with God; a righteous way of living

Dharma Shāstras ancient texts containing sacred rules

dharmashāla place where free food and hospitality is given

dhobi washerman

dhyāna, dhyānam meditation

dīkshā initiation

divya divine

divya shakti divine force

Diwali Hindu festival of lights

Durgā Hindu goddess in a fierce form


Ganapati another name for Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity who removes obstacles and grants wisdom

Ganesha elephant-headed deity who removes obstacles and grants wisdom

Ganga sacred river Ganges in North India that is also respected as a goddess

Ganges sacred river in North India

gītam divine song or sound

grihastha the second stage of life: when you marry, have children

guru one who removes darkness, the spiritual teacher

guru dakshinā offering or gift to the spiritual master

Guru Pūrnimā July full moon day festival honouring the guru

guru sevā service for the guru

gurudev, gurudeva divine spiritual teacher

guruji respected spiritual teacher (adding ji to a name or title is a term of respect)


Hari Om mantra to remove suffering and experience Om, the state of pure consciousness

hatha yoga system of spiritual exercises and methods


idiyāppam fine string-like noodles

idlis small steamed rice cakes

ikam this world

ishta-devatā beloved form of God for worship

ishtam beloved form of God for worship

Itihāsas traditional accounts of heroic history


jagadjyoti universal light

jagat the universe, the whole world

Jai Prema Shānti mantra meaning ‘Let divine love and peace prevail’

japa, japam repetition of a mantra or prayer

japamālā string of beads for counting mantras

jīva living being, personal soul

jīvātma individual soul

jnāna, jnānam wisdom, supreme knowledge

jnāni one who has attained supreme knowledge

jyoti sacred light

jyotimāyam brilliant light giving clearness of understanding


kadavul the One who is both within and beyond

Kālī goddess who represents the destructive aspect of the Divine

Kali Yuga the present age of disharmony and selfishness

karma result of past actions

karma yoga the yoga of selfless action

kāvadi semi-circular pieces of wood balanced on the shoulders of the devotee and decorated with flowers and peacock feathers

Kāveri sacred river in India

Konkanar one of the 18 powerful siddhas of South India

Krishna 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu

kriyā yoga of spiritual action

kumbham auspicious pot representing wholeness

kumkum red powder applied on the forehead

kundalinī divine force at the base of the spine when dormant


Lakshmī goddess of spiritual wealth

līlā play of the universal energy

lingam sacred symbol representing Lord Shiva

lingodbhava birth of the lingams


madhuram sweet, charming, lovely

Mahābharāta Sanskrit epic poem

mahān, mahātma great soul

Maharishi a great sage

Mahāshivarātri Hindu festival, the great night of Shiva

maitrī loving kindness

mālā, malar garland, necklace, prayer beads

mānasa pūjā worship done in the mind and heart

mānasika internal, adoration from the mind and heart

mantra sacred sound or words repeated in prayer or meditation

Māsi a Tamil month mid-February to mid-March

mātāji respected mother, a female renunciate

māyā illusion

mettā loving kindness

moksha liberation

Mūgāmbikā Lakshmī, Sarasvatī and Kālī in one form

mukti release, liberation

mūla basis, foundation, causal

mūla mantra the original mantra, Aum or Om

mūlādhāra chakra first chakra, at the base of the spine

Muruga, Murugan son of Lord Shiva

Muthumāriamman a name of the Divine Mother


namaha surrender, bow

nāmavali string of names expressing divine qualities

Nārāyana a name of Lord Vishnu meaning abode of all beings

Natarāja a name of Lord Shiva meaning king of dance

Navarātri festival for the Divine Mother lasting nine nights

Nāyanar one of 63 saints devoted to Lord Shiva

nirmala without stain

nirvāna final liberation


Om / Aum original cosmic vibration that symbolizes the Divine

Om Ganapataye Namaha mantra meaning ‘I surrender to Ganapati’

Om Namah Shivāya mantra meaning, ‘I surrender to Shiva, the auspicious One’

Omkār, Omkāram / Aumkār, Aumkāram the sound of the sacred syllable (Om/Aum)


pāda pūjā ritual washing of feet

panchabhūta, panchabhūtam the five elements

panchāmritam offering made of five sweet items

parābhakti the ultimate level of devotion

paramānandam supreme bliss

paramātma Supreme Self, universal soul

paramporul original substance

parisuttam absolute purity

Pārvati a name of the Divine Mother, consort of Lord Shiva

pottu religious mark

pradakshina circumambulation from left to right as a kind of worship

prakāsham universal light

prānāyāma control of life-force resulting from the practice of breathing techniques

prasādam items offered to the Divine, blessed food

prema divine love

Premānanda Swamiji’s name

premānanda, premānandam the bliss of divine love

pūjā ritual worship

Punjabi dress, traditional shirt and trousers worn by both men and women

punya merit

Purānas stories and legends to facilitate the understanding of the more complex ideas contained in the Vedas for the masses


rāga melody that delights the mind

Rāja Rājeshvarī the Divine Mother as the ruler of all kings and queens

Rāma incarnation of Lord Vishnu

Rāmāyana Sanskrit epic poem about the life of Rāma

rishi a sage, author of Vedic hymns

rudrāksha ‘the eye of Shiva’, seed of a tree used to make traditional prayer beads


sadguru authentic spiritual master who is enlightened

sādhak, sādhaka spiritual practitioner

sādhana regular spiritual practice

sādhu a holy person, sage or ascetic

samādhi merging with the Supreme, also the place where the body of a saint is interred

Samayapuram Mariamman the Divine Mother worshipped in a famous temple frequently visited by Swamiji

samskāra impressions on the mind due to our life experiences

Sanātana Dharma eternal laws and codes on how to live

sankalpa intention

sannyās, sannyāsa renunciation, the fourth stage of life

sannyāsin one who renounces

Sanskrit ancient language of India

Sarasvatī goddess of knowledge

sārī unstitched cloth draped over the body

satsang in the company of the truth, a spiritual discourse or discussion

sattva spiritual essence

sattvic pure

sembu water pot

sevā free service, selfless help

sevi jnānam wisdom of listening

shakti divine energy or force

Shakti the Divine Mother

shānti peace

sharanāgati surrender

shāstra sacred scripture

shishya pupil, disciple

Shiva third aspect of the Hindu trinity, the destroyer

Shivalingam sacred symbol representing Lord Shiva

Shivamayam the presence of Shiva everywhere

shloka verse or song of praise

shraddhā faith, confidence

siddha ascetic who has attained yogic powers

Siddha medicine ancient system of medicine prevalent in South India

siddha purusha spiritual master who has reached perfection

siddhi mystical, yogic power

Skanda Shashti the day on which Muruga defeated the demon Taraka

summa iru just be, implying the highest state of conscious being

swami one who is master of himself, a male renunciate


Tamil a South Indian language

tapas intense spiritual practices

tattvam true or real state, the essence

tīrtham holy water

Tirukkural ancient Tamil book of wisdom

Tryambakī Divine Mother with three eyes


utsavamūrti statue paraded outside the temple for festival celebrations


Vāk Devī goddess of speech and sound

vānaprastha stage of retirement from worldly life (literally – retiring to the forest)  

vastradāna gift of clothes or cloth

Vedas four books that are the basis of the Hindu religion

Vedic pertaining to the Vedas

vel Muruga’s golden spear of divine energy

Venkateshwara a form of Lord Vishnu, the destroyer of the effects of misdeeds

vibhūti holy ash

vidarshanā to see things as they truly are

Vighneshvara a name of Ganesha as the remover of obstacles

Vijayadasamī tenth day of the Navāratri festival

vīn pechu useless talk, gossip

Vināyaka a name of Ganesha as the remover of obstacles

Vināyaka Chaturthī annual festival celebrating Ganesha

vipassanā to see things as they truly are

Vishnu second aspect of the Hindu trinity, the maintainer


Wesak / Buddha Pūrnimā full moon day in May celebrating the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha


yāgam sacrificial fire ceremony

Yamunā sacred river in India

yantra spiritual geometric symbol

Yashoda foster mother of Lord Krishna

yoga union

yogi a person who practices yoga

yogic relating to the activity or philosophy of yoga

yuga long period of years

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