Glossary A

A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda

Śrīla Prabhupāda—(1896-1977) His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda. He is the tenth generation from Caitanya Mahāprabhu. The founder-ācārya, spiritual master of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Śrīla Prabhupāda is the widely-acclaimed author of more than seventy books on the science of pure bhakti-yoga, unalloyed Kṛṣṇa consciousness. His major works are annotated English translations of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, the Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta, and the Bhagavad-gītā As It Is. He is the world’s most distinguished teacher of Vedic religion and thought. Śrīla Prabhupāda is a fully God conscious saint with perfect realization of the Vedic scriptures. He worked incessantly to spread Kṛṣṇa consciousness all over the world. He guided his society and saw it grow to a worldwide confederation of hundreds of ashrams, schools, temples, institutes, and farm communities.


Also called retroduction. It is the acceptance of a philosophical premise on the basis of its power to account for causation with logic and evidence. Abduction is the rational justification of a deduction. Deduction per se is the acceptance of a premise on authority. The term abduction was put forward by C.S. Peirce (1839-1914). Śrīla Prabhupāda termed a similar method of Vedic thought philosophical speculation. See Deduction, Induction, Logic.


The root comes from the Latin absolutus, the perfect or the completed (derived from the verbum absolvere, to detach, to free, to acquit). The term was introduced into Western philosophy in the fifteenth century by Nicholas of Cusa (1401-1464). The absolute is the ultimate, underlying and all-inclusive reality that depends upon nothing else for its existence. All other things depend upon it. The absolute is substance as it is, rather than as we perceive it. See Brahman, Reality, Relativism, Substance.


a shadow.


one of the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra. He was killed by Bhīma. (Droṇa Parva in Mahābhārata)


the regulated activities of the soul for reviving his relationship with the Lord; devotional service.


the heroic son Arjuna and Subhadrā. He was killed by the Son of Duḥśāsana. (Droṇa Parva in Mahābhārata)


a bathing ceremony, particularly for the coronation of a king or the installation of the Lord’s Deity form.

Absolute Truth

the ultimate source of all energies.


a brother of Śakuni. He was killed by Arjuna. (Droṇa Parva in Mahābhārata)


a ritual of purification in which one sips water and simultaneously chants names of the Supreme Lord.


a spiritual master who teaches by his own example, and who sets the proper religious example for all human beings.


good, 0K, all right.


Lord Caitanya’s “simultaneously one and different” doctrine, which establishes the inconceivable, simultaneous oneness and difference of the Lord and His expansions.


the inconceivable energy of the Supreme Lord.




the inert material nature; without life or consciousness


he fought on the side of Duryodhana. He and his brother Śrutāyus were killed by Arjuna. (Droṇa Parva in Mahābhārata)


a name for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who can never fall down from His position.


the indirect relationship of wonder or amazement.


the actions resulting from sinful activities.

Adhama paḍuyās

degraded scholars who consider devotional activities material.


the lowest among men.




restless ecstasy of love for Kṛṣṇa.


miseries inflicted by other living entities.


(misery) caused by other living beings.


the physical nature.


the universal form of the Supreme Lord.

Adhidaivic powers

the administrative functions delegated by the Lord to demigods, such as control over rain, wind and sun.


natural disturbances caused by the demigods.


(misery) caused by nature.


one who knows the science of Kṛṣṇa and is engaged in His service.


foster father of Karṇa. He was a charioteer by profession. He one day found the child Karṇa floating in Ganges in a basket. His wife was barren and happily he took the child home and gave it to his wife. He was also the father of Sangramajit.


an advanced symptom of mahā-bhāva found only in the gopīs.


the Supersoul, the plenary expansion of the Lord in the heart of every living being.


a name for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is beyond material sense perception, who is not perceivable by impure material senses; Revealed knowledge. The fourth of the five stages of Vedic knowledge.


miseries arising from one’s own body and mind.


one who depends solely on Kṛṣṇa.


(misery) caused by one’s own body and mind.


the first twenty-four years of Lord Caitanya’s pastimes.


the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, the original person.


the mother of the demigods.


the demigods who are descendants of Kaśyapa Muni’s wife, Aditi.

Advaita Prabhu

Advaitācārya-an incarnation of Lord Mahā-Viṣṇu, who appeared as one of the four principal associates of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu.Advaitācārya.


the conclusion of the monists, namely, that the Absolute Truth and the individual living entity are separate in the material state, but that when they are spiritually situated there is no difference between them.


the philosophy of absolute oneness taught by Śaṅkarācārya, and whose conclusion is advaita-siddhānta.


atheistic philosophers who say all distinctions are but material illusions. Mayāvādī-one who propounds the philosophy of Śaṅkarācārya, which basically holds that God is featureless and impersonal, that devotion to a personal Godhead is false, the material creation of the Lord is also false, and the ultimate goal of life is to become existentially one with the all-pervading, impersonal Absolute.


an incarnation of Lord Mahā-Viṣṇu, who appeared as one of the four principal associates of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu.


A follower of the teaching.


Oneness (from a, not and dvaita, duality). The system of Vedānta philosophy put forward by Śaṅkarācārya is known as Advaita Vedānta. It argues for a monistic, impersonal absolute truth. See Dvaita, Four Vaiṣṇava Sampradāyas and Siddhāntas, Śaṅkarācārya, Vedānta; nondual; without differentiation.


authorized Vedic literatures; also, specifically the Pañcarātras.


the mind.

Agastya Muni

a great sage who authored many Vedic hymns and writings on Āyurvedic medicine. The son of Mitra and Varuṇa, he was born from a water jar. Once he swallowed the ocean and forced the Vindhya mountain range to prostrate itself before him. Who helped the demigods defeat the Danavas by drinking up the ocean they were hiding in. He also gave the brahmashira weapon to Drona.


transcendental bliss that is incomplete (lit. “not concentrated”).


a powerful weapon belonging to the demigod Agni. Arjuna received this weapon from his preceptor, Droṇa.


the ceremonial fire sacrifice offered to the demigod Agni performed in Vedic rituals.


a sacrifice performed by a person who wants go to heaven. A minimum of sixteen priests are required for this sacrifice, which lasts five days.


the demigod who controls fire. He took the form of a brāhmaṇa and begged charity from Lord Kṛṣṇa and Arjuna. He then consumed the Khāṇḍava forest.


a name for the month of Mārgaśirṣa (November/December). In contemporary Vaiṣṇavism it is known as the month of Keśava.


without cheating motivation.


causeless mercy of the Supreme Lord or His bonafide representative.

Ahaṁ brahmāsmi

the Vedic aphorism “I am spirit.”

Ahaṁ māmeti

the false conception of “I” and “mine [SB 5.5.8].”


a Māyāvādī’s worship of his own body as the Supreme; self-worship in general.


false ego, by which the soul misidentifies with the material body.


transcendental bliss.




emotion with an understanding of the Lord’s full opulences.


the Lord’s pastimes of opulence.


a name for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is unborn.


the occupation of a python.


a fallen brāhmaṇa who was saved from hell by unintentionally chanting the Lord’s name at the time of death.




the Supreme Lord who is unconquerable.


pious or devotional activity performed accidentally, without knowledge of its effect.


a description of Kṛṣṇa indicating that nothing is unknown to Him.


one who serves the Lord without material motive.

Akarma (naiskarma)

action for which one suffers no reaction because it is performed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness; free from material desire; one who is desireless.




Kṛṣṇa, the transcendental form of attraction for all kinds of devotees.


Lord Kṛṣṇa, who is easily approached by those who are materially exhausted.


one who possesses nothing in the material world.


an uncle of Lord Kṛṣṇa. A hero of the Yadu dynasty.


a military division consisting of 21,870 chariots, 21,870 elephants, 109,350 infantrymen and 65,610 horsemen.


one of Svāyambhuva Manu’s three daughters and the wife of Ruci.


the residence ot Kuvera, the treasurer of the demigods. It sits on a peak in the Himālayas.


a Rākṣasa who was killed by Ghaṭotkaca. (Droṇa Parva in Mahābhārata)


laziness, a vyabhicāri-bhāva.


a Rākṣasa who fought on the side of Duryodhana. He was killed by Ghaṭotkaca. (Droṇa Parva in Mahābhārata)


a son of Dhṛtarāṣṭra. He was killed by Bhīma. (Droṇa Parva in Mahābhārata)




Tamil Nadu saints who were devotees of Lord Viṣṇu.


a tree that Nārada Muni brought from the spiritual world to the material realm to please the Supreme Lord. Its fruits are very rich in vitamin C.


food that is not offered to Lord Jagannātha.


a Sanskrit dictionary and thesaurus widely used in the teaching of Sanskrit.


the capital city of Lord Indra’s heavenly abode. It has the power of greatly extending the life span of its residents.


anger, a vyabhicāri-bhāva.


the governor of the senses, the mind.


the dark-moon night, or the night of the new moon, when various sacrifices are offered to both demigods and demons.


Youngest of the daughters of the King of Kāśi. She was married to Vicitravīrya. When Vicitravīrya died early, she begot Pāṇḍu by the great sage Vyāsa. (Ādi Parva in Mahābhārata)

Ambarīṣa Mahārāja

a great devotee-king who perfectly executed all nine devotional practices (hearing, chanting, etc.). A great king glorified by Narada Muni.


Older sister of Ambikā and Ambālikā and daughter of the King of Kāśi. She was abducted by Bhīṣma during her svayaṁvara, but she wanted to marry Śālva. She did penance to please Lord Śiva and she received a benediction she could take birth in her next life as a son of King Drupada. (Ādi Parva in Mahābhārata)


Second daughter of the King of Kāśi. She married Vicitravīrya. Later when Vicitravīrya died, she begot Dhṛtarāṣṭra by the great sage Vyāsa. (Ādi Parva in Mahābhārata)


eternal life.


nectar, the food of the gods, which makes the drinker immortal.


partial incarnations of God.


an expansion of the Supreme Lord.


technical term for a drama’s introduction, further classified into five kinds.


English. The term is extended in Vrndavan to mean ‘foreigner’.


killer of the soul; one who neglects spiritual life.


since time immemorial.


A term similar in meaning to the Sanskrit sāṅkhya. It comes from the Greek an (up) plus lyein (to loosen, to untie), meaning to resolve into its elements. Analysis is the procedure of separating a problem into its component parts in order to 1) study the parts separately, 2) study their interrelationships, or 3) study how they relate to the whole. See Elements, Sāṅkhya.


one who offers obeisances to no one.


full of bliss in spiritual realization; Kṛṣṇa consciousness.


spiritual, transcendental bliss.


date of the yearly festival commemorating the passing away of Haridāsa Ṭhākura.


an incarnation of the Supreme Lord in the form of His thousand-headed serpent, on which Viṣṇu rests, and who sustains the planets on His hoods.


name of King Yudhiṣṭhira’s conchshell.




indifference to mundane people.


King of Iksvaku dynasty, killed by Ravana. When dying he cursed Ravana to be killed by Rama


a stage in the progressive development of devotion to Lord Kṛṣṇa in which one is freed from unwanted desires and karmic reactions; cleansing the heart of all unwanted things


period of a fortnight between bathing ceremony and Ratha-yātrā when the body of the Jagannātha Deity is repainted.


one of the famous devotees, or Ālvārs, who lived in South India before Rāmānuja.

Aṅga Mahārāja

the father of King Vena.


repainting of the body of Lord Jagannātha.

Aṅgirā Ṛṣi

one of the seven sages of the first Manvantara, all of whom were born directly from Lord Brahmā. One of the Prajāpatis, he is the author of the Vedic writings on astronomy.


Prāṇāyāma-breath control used in yoga practice, especially aṣṭāṅga-yoga (one of the eight parts of the aṣṭanga-yoga system).


mystic power by which one can become as small as an atom so that he can enter into stone.


a grandson of Lord Kṛṣṇa; also one of the four original expansions of Lord Kṛṣṇa in the spiritual world.


the ceremony of offering a child his first food grains; one of the ten purificatory saṁskāras.


(consciousness) absorbed only in food.


Durgā manifested in her form of supplier of food.


food grains.


service performed in one’s spiritual body.


Vijitāśva, the eldest son of King Pṛthu.


outer space.


the expansion of the Supreme Lord situated in everyone’s heart as Supersoul, the indwelling controller.


From the Greek nthropos (man) and morph (form, shape, figure), it is an induction of the Supreme Being’s form, emotions, interests, etc. drawn from human experience: God in the image of man, instead of man in the image of God. See Induction, Mechanomorphism.


the last eighteen years of Lord Caitanya’s pastimes.


an outcaste.


the minute spirit soul, who is part and parcel of Kṛṣṇa.


bodily symptoms manifested by a devotee in ecstatic love for Kṛṣṇa.




Reason, thought, philosophical speculation. The second of the three Vaiṣṇava pramāṇas. See Pramāṇa, Pratyakṣa, Rationalism, Reflective thinking, Śabda.


subattachment in ecstatic love of God.


second-class type of rasābhāsa, occurring when something is derived from the original mellow.


trying to follow in the footsteps.


the wig of Atri Muni, the sage among the demigods. She is the mother of three-headed Lord Dattātreya.


a King of Avanti. He and his brother, Vinda, were the brothers of Mitravindā, who was married to Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Both brothers were inimical to Lord Kṛṣṇa and were killed by Arjuna. (Droṇa Parva in Mahābhārata)


one of the internal bodily airs which is controlled by the aṣṭāṅga-yoga system. The apāna-vāyu travels downwards.

Aparā prakṛti

the inferior material energy of the Lord.


Vedic knowledge of mind and matter that includes logic, grammar, astrology, medicine, social organization, martial arts, music, dance and so on (as distinct from para-vidyā, the science of God). The karma-kāṇḍa and jñāna-kāṇḍa scriptures make up the apara-vidyā of the Vedas. See Avidyā, Jñāna-kāṇḍa, Karma-kāṇḍa, Para-vidyā; material knowledge


an offense.


one of the sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra. He was killed by Bhīmasena. (Droṇa Parva in Mahābhārata)


third-class type of rasābhāsa, occurring when something is appreciated that is far removed from the original mellow.


Direct knowledge. The third of the five stages of Vedic knowledge.


forgetfulness, a vyabhicāri-bhāva.


not made by man (that is, revealed by God); A term to describe the divine origin of the Vedas.


liberation from pavarga, the miseries of material existence.


food that is unacceptable for a Vaiṣṇava.


the unmanifested pastimes of the Lord.


spiritual, or anti-material, transcendental to material nature; The fifth of the five stages of Vedic knowledge.






a heavenly courtesan. The most beautiful women in the heavenly planets, who are expert at dancing.


a ceremony in which one greets and worships the Lord in the Deity form of the Supreme Personality of Godhead by offering Him incense, a flame in a lamp with ghee-soaked wicks, a flame in a lamp containing camphor, water in a conchshell, a fine cloth, a fragrant flower, a peacock-feather, and yak-tail wisk, accompanied by bell-ringing and chanting.


a name of the Lord meaning one whose eyes are as beautiful as lotus petals.


See: Arcā-vigraha below.


an authorized form of God manifested through material elements, as in a painting or statue of Kṛṣṇa worshiped in a temple or home. Actually present in this form, the Lord accepts worship from His devotees.


the procedures followed for worshiping the arcā-vigraha, the Deity in the temple; engaging all the senses in the service of the Lord.

Arcana naturae (Lat.)

The secrets of nature. See New Philosophy.


the wife of King Pṛthu.


various types of śravaṇa and kīrtana of the Supreme Lord’s name, quality, form and so on.


half-external consciousness.


a ceremonious offering, in a conchshell, of water and other auspicious items.


impediments like disease.


a demon who took the form of a bull and tried to kill Lord Kṛṣṇa.


Greek philosopher who taught in the fourth century before Christ (384-322 BC). Aristotle studied under Plato for almost twenty years, then went on to start his own school of thought. He was very interested in what the Bhagavad-gītā calls the field of knowledge, which he analyzed minutely according to his own system. He was less concerned with the knower of the field, the soul. He defined the soul as What it is to be for a body of the character just assigned (De anima, 412b). In other words, if an axe was a product of nature, then its characteristic body or form would be its soul. (The axe example is Aristotle’s own.)


the demigod in charge of Pitṛloka, the planet were qualified departed ancestors reside.


a brother of Śakuni who was killed by Irāvān. (Bhīṣma Parva in Mahābhārata)


the third son of Pāṇḍu and intimate friend of Lord Kṛṣṇa. After Pāṇḍu was cursed by a sage, Kuntī used a special mantra to beget children and called for the demigod Indra. By the union of Indra and Kuntī, Arjuna was born. In his previous life he was Nara, the eternal associate of Lord Nārāyaṇa. Kṛṣṇa became his chariot driver and spoke the Bhagavad-gītā to him on the battlefield of Kurukṣetra; An eternal associate of Kṛṣṇa.


economic development.

Aruṇa gems

rubies decorating Kṛṣṇa’s flute.


the demigod in charge of Pitṛloka, the planet where qualified departed ancestors reside.


a follower of Vedic culture. A person whose goal is spiritual advancement. He truly knows the value of life and has a civilization based on spiritual realization.


a king of the solar dynasty, son of Sagara, known for his cruelty.




detachment from material consciousness.


seat, or throne; a sitting posture in yoga practice.


the association of nondevotees.


not eternal, temporary.


a king who spread Buddhism in India in the 3rd century BC.


an ancient authority on the Vedas.


a tree with long, pointed leaves. Goddess Sītā was placed under an aśoka tree after being kidnapped by Rāvaṇa.


one of the four spiritual orders of life-brahmacārī-āśrama, or student life; Gṛhasta-āśrama, or married life; vānaprastha, or retired life; and sannyāsa-āśrama, or the renounced order of life; the home of the spiritual master, a place where spiritual practices are executed.


the manifestation of the Lord of whom one must take shelter.


the Transcendence, who is the source and support of all; the worshiper.


a boy sage who won a debate in the court of King Janaka.


the eight mystic perfections acquired through yoga practice.


the eightfold system of mystic yoga, propounded by Patañjali, meant for realizing the presence of Paramātmā, the Lord in the heart.


the eighth day after the full moon.


(aṣṭa=eight + aṅga=part) a mystic yoga system propounded by Patañjali in his Yoga-sūtras and consisting of eight parts-yama, niyama, āsana, prāṇāyāma, pratyāhāra, dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi, progressing from moral practices to deep meditation on God.


the founder of Māyāvāda philosophy, which declares that the spiritual effulgence (Brahman) is the cause of all causes.

Asuraṁ bhavam āśrita

persons who are openly atheistic.


demon, one who does not follow the principles of scripture, atheist, gross materialist. One who is envious of God, and is averse to the supremacy and service of the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu.


Lord Śiva, who is very easily satisfied when one worships him. Śiva-the guṇa-avatāra who is the superintendent of the mode of ignorance (tamoguṇa) and who takes charge of destroying the universe at the time of annihilation. He disguised himself as a Kirāta and fought with Arjuna over a boar. Lord Śiva was pleased with Arjuna and gave him a benediction of the Paśupati astra by which he could kill Jayadratha. He also gave a benediction to Aśvatthāmā that he could kill the remaining soldiers on the side of the Pāṇḍavas while they were sleeping in their tents. He is also considered the greatest Vaiṣṇava, or devotee, of Lord Kṛṣṇa. He is confused by some with the Supreme Lord.


jealousy, a vyabhicāri-bhāva.


a Vedic horse sacrifice. One of eight recommended in the Vedic scriptures, it is performed by kings.


the son of Droṇa. He was a friend of Duryodhana and fought on his side during the Kurukṣetra battle. He lived through the battle of Kurukṣetra, but was cursed by Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. He killed the five sons of Draupadī when they were awakening from sleep and attempted to kill Parīkṣit when he was in the womb of Uttarā.


the third month of the four-month Cāturmāsya fast.

Aśvinī deities

demigods in charge of the nostrils and sense of smell.


Demigods who begot Nakula and Sahadeva in the womb of Mādrī, the wife of Pāṇḍu.


one who has no knowledge of the Absolute Truth.

Atharva Veda

one of the four Vedas, the original revealed scriptures spoken by the Lord Himself, consisting primarily of formulas and chants designed to counteract the effects of disease and calamity.


From the Greek theos (a, not and thes, God). In it most blatant form, atheism argues that God does not exist. The proof of that claim is that He is not available to our sensory inspection. Also, religious doctrines that oppose theism are not theistic, hence atheistic. As explained in the entry for theism, the Vedic account of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s immanence and transcendence is the clearest demonstration of the standard definition of theism. To oppose Vaiṣṇava philosophy is therefore to court atheism. Much of what passes for religion is actually atheism in pious disguise. Atheism disguised as religion is called Deism, Semi-deism, Dualism, Henotheism, Kathenotheism, Panpsychism, Pantheism, and Polytheism. These entries, together with the entry for Theism, may be consulted for a clearer understanding.


The view that knowledge cannot be questioned, as opposed to the free spirit of inquiry.


bogus disciplic succession coming from an Orissan named Jagannātha dāsa, who was a contemporary of Lord Caitanya. Initially, he was a follower of Haridāsa Ṭhākura, but he later rejected him.


the devotional process of surrendering everything to the Lord.


full surrender to Kṛṣṇa without reservation.


spiritual science.


one who is self-satisfied, free from external, material desires.


the self (refers sometimes to the body, sometimes to the soul, and sometimes to the senses).

Atri Ṛṣi

one of the seven great sages born directly from Brahmā;. He is the husband of Anusūyā and father of the Lord’s incarnation Dattātreya. He contributed to the knowledge of astronomy.


violence, a vyabhicāri-bhāva.


eagerness, a vyabhicāri-bhāva.


a very saintly and renounced person who may live outside regulative principles, having surpassed any need for them.


one who is above all rules and regulations.


concealment, a vyabhicāri-bhāva.


one who is not a Vaiṣṇava.


māyā’s “covering” power, by which a conditioned soul feels satisfied in any condition of life.




the descending process of receiving revealed knowledge; inductive and deductive process of knowledge.


literally means “one who descends.” A partially or fully empowered incarnation of the Lord who descends from the spiritual sky to the material universe with a particular mission described in scriptures; When Kṛṣṇa descends from the world of spirit into the world of matter, His appearance here is called avatāra. The Sanskrit term avatāra (one who descends) is often rendered into English as incarnation. It is wrong, however, to think that Kṛṣṇa incarnates in a body made of physical elements. The Seventh and Eighth Chapters of Bhagavad-gītā distinguish at length between the material nature (apara-prakṛti), visible as the temporary substances of earth, water, fire, air and ethereal space, and God’s own spiritual nature (para-prakṛti), which is invisible (avyakta), eternal (sanātana) and infallible (akṣara). When the Lord descends, by His mercy the invisible becomes visible. As He Himself states in Bg 4.6, I descend by My own nature, appearing in My form of spiritual energy (prakṛtiṁ svām adhiṣṭhāya sambhavāmy ātma-māyayā). In Bg 4.9 He declares, janma karma ca me divyam, My appearance and activities are divine. God has many avatāras. But of all of them, that form described in Bg 11.50 as the most beautiful (saumya-vapu) is His own original form (svakaṁ rūpam). This is the eternal form of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the all-charming lotus-eyed youth whose body is the shape of spiritual ecstasy. SB 1.3.28 confirms that Kṛṣṇa is the original form of Viṣṇu: ete cāṁśa-kalāḥ puṁsaḥ kṛṣṇas tu bhagavān svayam indrāri-vyākulaṁ lokaṁ mṛḍayanti yuge yuge, which means, All of the incarnations of Viṣṇu listed in the scriptures are expansions of the Lord. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa is the original Personality of Godhead. All avatāras appear in the world whenever there is a disturbance created by the atheists. The Lord incarnates to protect the theists.

The Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam also provides us with the authorized list of scheduled incarnations of Godhead, of whom the Daśāvatāra (ten avatāras) are particularly celebrated. The ten are:

  1. Matsya (the Lord’s form of a gigantic golden fish)
  2. Kūrma (the turtle)
  3. Varāha (the boar)
  4. Śrī Nṛsiṁha (the half-man, half-lion form)
  5. Paraśurāma (the hermit who wields an axe)
  6. Vāmana (the small brāhmaṇa boy)
  7. Śrī Rāmacandra (the Lord of Ayodhya)
  8. Śrī Baladeva (Lord Kṛṣṇa’s brother)
  9. Buddha (the sage who cheated the atheists)
  10. Kalki (who will depopulate the world of all degraded, sinful men at the end of the present age of Kali)

There are two broad categories of avatāras. Some, like Śrī Kṛṣṇa, Śrī Rāma and Śrī Nṛsiṁha, are Viṣṇu-tattva, i.e. direct forms of God Himself, the source of all power. Others are individual souls (jīva-tattva) who are empowered by the Lord in one or more of the following seven ways: with knowledge, devotion, creative ability, personal service to God, rulership over the material world, power to support planets, or power to destroy rogues and miscreants. This second category of avatāra is called śaktyāveśa. Included herein are Buddha, Christ and Muhammed. The Māyāvādīs think that form necessarily means limitation. God is omnipresent, unlimited and therefore formless, they argue. When He reveals His avatāra form within this world, that form, being limited in presence to a particular place and time, cannot be the real God. It is only an indication of God. But the fact is that it is not God’s form that is limited. It is only the Māyāvādīs’ conception of form that is limited, because that conception is grossly physical. God’s form is of the nature of supreme consciousness. Being spiritual, it is called sūkṣma, most subtle. There is no contradiction between the omnipresence of something subtle and its having form. The most subtle material phenomena we can perceive is sound. Sound may be formless (as noise) or it may have form (as music). Because sound is subtle, its having form does not affect its ability to pervade a huge building. Similarly, God’s having form does not affect His ability to pervade the entire universe. Since God’s form is finer than the finest material subtlety, it is completely inappropriate for Māyāvādīs to compare His form to gross hunks of matter. Because they believe God’s form is grossly physical, Māyāvādīs often argue that any and all embodied creatures may be termed avatāras. Any number of living gods are being proclaimed within India and other parts of the world today. Some of these gods are mystics, some are charismatics, some are politicians, and some are sexual athletes. But none of them are authorized by the Vedic scriptures. They represent only the mistaken Māyāvādī idea that the one formless unlimited Truth appears in endless gross, physical human incarnations, and that you and me and I and he are therefore all together God. And since each god has a different idea of what dharma is, the final truth, according to Māyāvāda philosophy, is that the paths of all gods lead to the same goal. This idea is as unenlightened as it is impractical. When ordinary people proclaim themselves to be God, and that whatever they are doing is Vedic dharma, that is called dharmasya glāniḥ, a disturbance to eternal religious principles. Therefore Kṛṣṇa came again, 500 years ago, as the Golden Avatāra, Caitanya Mahāprabhu. He established the yuga-dharma, the correct form of sanātana-dharma for our time (saṅkīrtana). Lord Caitanya’s appearance was predicted in SB 11.5.32: In this Age of Kali, people who are endowed with sufficient intelligence will worship the Lord, who is accompanied by His associates, by congregational chanting of the holy names of God. See Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Kṛṣṇa.


intense emotion, a vyabhicāri-bhāva.


a living being empowered as an incarnation of the Lord’s qualities.



without properly following rules and regulations.


material energy, or nescience.


nescience, ignorance; the illusory energy of the Supreme Lord; Ignorance or non-Vedic knowledge, as opposed to apara-vidyā and para-vidyā. See Apara-vidyā, Para-vidyā.


unmanifested; the material creation when it is not yet manifested from the mahat-tattva.

Ayer, A.J.

British philosopher (1910-1989), a twentieth century advocate of Hume’s scepticism towards religion, and one of the founders of logical positivism. In his younger years he was a phenomenalist, but later he drew back from that position. See Logical positivism.


a city in North India, capital of the kings of the Ikṣvāku (solar) dynasty. Today, it is till the chief Holy City of Lord Rama’s devotees.


See: Viyoga.


the ecstatic condition of not having yet met one’s lover.


the section of the Vedas which expounds the Vedic science of medicine delivered by Lord Dhanvantari, the incarnation of the Supreme Lord as a physician. He was born out of the ocean of milk when it was churned by the demons and demigods in the Satya-yuga. He expounded on the three categories of medicine.