Glossary C

Caitanya Mahāprabhu

(1486-1534); Lord Kṛṣṇa in the aspect of His own devotee. He appeared in Navadvīpa, West Bengal, and inaugurated the congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord to teach pure love of God by means of saṅkīrtana. Lord Caitanya is understood by Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas to be Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself; The Golden Avatāra of the Supreme Personality of Godhead who descended into the material world 500 years ago at Śrīdhāma Māyāpur. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu inaugurated the yuga-dharma of saṅkīrtana. Together with His associates Nityānanda, Advaita, Gadādhara and Śrīvāsa, Lord Caitanya is worshiped by the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas as the Pañca-tattva (five-fold Absolute Truth). Within the Pañca-tattva, Mahāprabhu is the īśa-tattva, the Supreme Lord. Nityānanda is the prakāśa-tattva, the feature of īśvara who controls the kriyā-śakti, out of which the kāla and karma potencies expand. Advaita is the avatāra-tattva, the incarnation. Gadadhara is śakti-tattva, a feature of the original, spiritual prakṛti. Śrīvasa is jīva-tattva. See Avatāra, Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava, Īśvara, Saṅkīrtana.


translated as “the character of the living force in immortality,” it is the title of the authorized biography of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu written in the late sixteenth century and compiled by Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, presenting the Lord’s pastimes and teachings. Written in Bengali, with many Sanskrit verses as well, it is regarded as the most authoritative book on Lord Caitanya’s life and teachings; Written by Śrīla Kṛṣṇadāsa Kavirāja Gosvāmī, this biography of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu is the single most important text of Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava philosophy. Caitanya-caritāmṛta means the immortal character of the living force. It is the postgraduate study of spiritual knowledge, and so is not intended for the novice. Ideally, one begins with Bhagavad-gītā and advances through Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam to the Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta. Although alI these great scriptures are on the same absolute level, for the sake of comparative study Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta is considered to be on the highest platform. See Bhagavad-gītā, Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇava, Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.


living force.


the Supersoul, the expansion of Kṛṣṇa who is seated as the spiritual master within the heart of the living being.


a position in which the heroine appears very afraid although she is not at all afraid.


a bird that drinks only water from the Śvāti Nakṣatra.

Cakra (Sudarśana)

the disc weapon of the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu. On the top of Viṣṇu temples there is usually a cakra.


the female counterpart of the cakra bird. When the male cakra bird and the female cakravākī bird are separated, they make mournful sounds during the night.


a formation of soldiers in the form of a cakra. This formation was considered impenetrable, and only the most capable warriors could penetrate it. Abhimanyu was killed while fighting in this formation. His father, Arjuna, taught him how to enter, but he did not know how to exit the gigantic formation.


one of six centers of vital energy located in the body; the wheel of Viṣṇu on top of temples.


a yak-tail fan used in Deity worship.

Camasa Ṛṣi

one of the nine Yogendras.


a yellowish and very fragrant flower from the campaka tree. This flower is very dear to Lord Kṛṣṇa.


a pure white crystalline powder derived from steam of the camphor tree, Cinnamomum camphera, which is found in China and India.

Cāṇakya Paṇḍita

the brāhmaṇa advisor to King Candragupta responsible for checking Alexander the Great’s invasion of India. He is a famous author of books containing aphorisms on politics and morality.


a muni who blessed King Bāhadratha, the King of Magadha, with a child. The child was born in two halves from each of the King’s queens. The two halves were thrown in the forest where they were joined by a witch named Jara. The child was later named Jarāsandha.


an outcaste or untouchable; dog-eaters, the lowest class of human beings.


a twenty-one day festival held throughout India in the summer season. During Candana-yātrā devotees anoint the Deities of the Lord with sooting sandalwood paste.


a cosmetic paste made from sandalwood; used in Deity worship.

Candraśekhara Ācārya

a great householder devotee of Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu.


a king of the Maurya dynasty in India. His armies repelled Alexander the Great’s advance into India.


the moon planet.


the demigod who rules the moon.


impudence, a vyabhicāri-bhāva.


a flat bread made from whole-wheat flour.


the heavenly planet of the Cāraṇa demigods.


remnants of water and other liquids used for bathing the Deity and then been mixed with yogurt and sugar.

Carlyle, Thomas (1795-1881)

a Scottish historian and social critic who was an important philosophical moralist of the early Victorian age. He was opposed to empiricism, mechanism and materialism.

Cārvāka Muni

the originator of hedonistic philosophy.


a Rākṣasa, who was a close friend of Duryodhana. He took the form of a brāhmaṇa and tried to condemn Yudhiṣṭhira as an enemy of the people. He was recognized by the brāhmaṇas who then chanted mantras turning him into ashes.


the four kinds of fire sacrifices prescribed in the Vedas for purification of fruitive activities.


the four occupational divisions of society (brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas, and śūdras).


the quadruple expansions of Kṛṣṇa who predominate over the Vaikuṇṭha planets.


the fourteenth day of the waxing and waning moon.


the four months of the rainy season in India, when sannyāsīs do not travel. Devotees observe special vows of austerity during this time.


the four verses of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (33/34/35/36), spoken by Lord Kṛṣṇa to Brahmā, that summarize the entire philosophy of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.


the four Kumāras.

Causa (Lat.)

Reason or motive for something happening (in Gr. aitai). Aristotle proposed four causes to explain how creation occurs: causa materialis (the material cause), causa formalis (the formal cause), causa efficiens (the efficient cause), and causa finalis (the final cause).

Causal Ocean

the ocean in which all the universes are floating. See: Kāraṇa Ocean.


the king of Cedi; also known as Śiśupāla. Lord Kṛṣṇa killed him because of his blasphemy.


a warrior of the Yadu dynasty. He was killed by Duryodhana during the Kurukṣetra war. (Droṇa Parva in Mahābhārata)


a conscious living entity.


cotton or wool cloth worn on the upper half of the body, also worn by temple priests during worship.


Buddhist temple. Buddhist hall of worship.


disc weapon of Lord Viṣṇu.

Chalo, Chalo

let’s go, let’s go.


a yak-tail wisk or fan.


the different meters of Vedic hymns.

Chāndogya Upaniṣad

one of the principal Upaniṣads, philosophical portions of the Vedas.


the moon-god of the moon.


a concealed incarnation in disguise.


chick peas (garbanzo beans)

Channing, William Ellery (1780-1842)

an American theologian, founder of the Unitarian movement in New England. He believed in both rationality and mysticism. He concluded that in order for man to have a relationship with God He must be a person.



Chaukidar (chowkidar)

night watchman; guard.


A term derived from the name of a legendary French soldier, Nicolas Chauvin, chavinism originally meant fanatical patriotism, but lately means a prejudiced belief in the superiority of one’s own group; for example, male chauvinism.

Choti (coti)

Shikha; a tuft of hair worn at the back of the head of the braj area and by male Vaisnavisas.


Used in Mexican, Chinese, and Indonesian cooking, this delicate, pale-green, pear-shaped vegetable, which is related to the gourd family, originally came from Mexico, where it is known as chayote. When buying chokos, look for young tender ones with pale, green, almost translucent skin. The spikes on the skin should be short and soft. Chokos add a subtle flavour and an apple-like texture to any dish.


South Indian rulers from the Tamil Nadu area.


sari blouse.


a low wooden table.


Greek term for gap or chasm, derived from chainein, gape. In Greek philosophy, chos is the confused, formless and undifferentiated state of primal matter; the condition of the universe before reason appeared and brought the world into order. The Sanskrit equivalent is pradhāna, the unmanifest material nature. See Modes of nature.


dharmashala in the south; pilgrim accommodation.



spiritual pleasure.


a spiritual mystically potent gemstone (“touchstone”), found in the transcendental realm. It fulfills all the desires of one who possesses it. When applied to a metal transforms it into gold.


anxiety, a vyabhicāri-bhāva.


permanent governors of the universe.

Circulus vitiosus (Lat.)

A vicious circle, i.e. the fallacy of proving a proposition from another which depends on the first for its own proof. See Fallacy, Logic.


alive and conscious; the indiviual living beings; unlimited knowledge.


(cit-knowledge + sakti-potency) internal or enlightening knowledge potency of the Supreme Lord.


particles of spirit; the living entities.


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


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


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


the personal secretary of Yamarāja, who is the lord of death. He records the living entities’ pious and evil deeds.


one of the sons of Mahārāja Śantanu by Satyavatī. He was killed by a Gandharva of the same name.


one of the wives of Arjuna. She was the daughter of the King of Maṇipura. Their son’s name was Babhruvāhana.


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


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


a member of the royal order who became fully enlightened in spiritual knowledge.


a Gandharva leader who was a friend of Arjuna and a son of Viśvā-vasu. He received a weapon of fire from Arjuna, and helped the Pāṇḍavas when Duryodhana tried to embarrass them at Dvaitavana.


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


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

Cogito ergo sum (Lat.)

I think, therefore I am. The famous maxim of Descartes that conveys his certitude about his own existence.See Descartes.


This term is derived from the Latin conscire, to know or be aware of. The equivalent Sanskrit term is cetana. Consciousness is the irreducible symptom of the self. It knows, it feels, and it wills. There are many theories about the relation of consciousness to matter (see Mind/body problem), but all of them are conceived in the conscious mind. Take away consciousness and theories are impossible. Then what is the use of speculation about dead matter as the source of consciousness? Subtle mind, intelligence and false ego are imposed upon consciousness by the three modes of nature. Similarly, due to these modes, wakefulness, dreaming and swoon occur against the background of consciousness. But though the modes cover it, consciousness remains essentially pure, eternally. In the liberated state, consciousness displays a non-material mind, intelligence, pure ego and perfect form. There are two orders of consciousness: vibhu and aṇu. The first is the level of God’s consciousness, which is all-pervading. God knows everything in totality and everything in particular. His consciousness is never influenced by matter, although matter cannot exist apart from His consciousness. The aṇu (limited) order of consciousness belongs to the jīva. Because it is limited, matter can cover it, unless the jīva remains under the shelter of the Supreme Consciousness. See Ecstasy, False ego, Gross body, Intellect, Jīva, Mind, Mind/body problem, Modes of nature, Soul, Subtle body, Supersoul.


This term is formed from the Latin contra (against) and dicere (speak); hence, a statement that speaks against itself is contradictory. In Aristotilian logic, contradictions are violations of the second of the Three Laws of Thought: 1) The Law of Identity if a thing exists, it exists. If it does not exist, it does not exist. Whatever is, is. 2) The Law of Noncontradiction something cannot be itself and not be itself at the same time. Nothing can both be and not be. 3) The Law of the Excluded Middlesomething that exists is real and true, and something that does not exist is unreal and not true. There is no middle ground between these two positions. Things must either be or not be.


Athenean philosopher, a contemporary of Socrates and Plato. Cratylus taught a radical form of scepticism. He was a disciple of Heraclitus, whose most famous aphorism is You cannot step in the same river twice. Cratylus amended that aphorism, making it You cannot step into the same river once. He believed there is no point even to speak, because as we speak we and the world change, rendering all that we say into useless babble about nothing real. See Scepticism.


ten million; one hundred lakhs.


a son of Bhṛgu Muni and the author of a text on astronomy. He is one of the seven great sages of the second Manvantara.