abode standard English rendering of Dham.
Acharya one who understands the purport of the scriptures, teaches it to others, and personally practises it.
Aditi the eldest daughter of Daksa, wife of Kasyapa Muni, and mother of the twelve Adityas: the eleven principal demigods — Surya, Aryama, Pusa, Tvasta, Savita, Bhaga, Dhata, Vidhata, Varuna, Mitra, and Indra — and Sri Vamandev, Lord Visnu’s Avatar as a dwarf brahman.
Advaita Acharya a principal associate of Sriman Mahaprabhu and member of the Pancha Tattva who participated in countless Pastimes of the Lord and played the role of inviting the Lord to descend to the earth. He is the Avatar of Mahavisnu and Sadasiva in the Pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
Ananga Manjari the younger sister of Srimati Radharani; the form that Lord Balaram assumes to serve Krsna as a sakhi in madhura-rasa. Ananga Manjari appears in the Pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu as Jahnava Devi and Vasudha Devi, the consorts of Sri Nityananda Prabhu.
Ananta Acharya a disciple of Sri Gadadhar Pandit who is also counted amongst the followers of Sri Advaita Acharya and known to have previously appeared as Sri Ramanuja Acharya.
Anantadev (Ananta Sesa) a partial Avatar of Lord Balaram in the form of a serpent who holds the planets on his innumerable heads and chants the glories of the Lord with his innumerable mouths. He also assumes the forms of all the paraphernalia required for the Lord’s service, such as the Lord’s umbrella, slippers, bed, pillow, clothing, resting chair, house, sacred thread, and throne. Because He serves the Lord in innumerable ways, He is known as ‘Ananta’ (‘Unending’), and because He reaches the ultimate limit of serving the Lord, He is known as ‘Sesa’ (‘the end’).
aparadha an offence; an action that is contrary to the rules, principles, or mood of devotion to the Lord; an action that displeases the Lord; imperfect worship (apakrsta-aradhana).
astanga-yoga the eightfold path of yoga practice taught by Patanjali comprised of rules for behaviour, codes of conduct, postures, breath regulation, restraint of the senses, concentration, meditation, and trance. Astanga-yoga is the dharma of the Age of Satya and the primary means to attain realisation of the Supersoul. It is impractical in the Age of Kali, though modified forms of it are practised at present as a means to pursue health, enjoyment, supernatural powers (siddhis), and impersonal liberation (sayujya-mukti).
Astavakra lit. ‘eight bends’; a sage born with eight bends in his body who enlightened King Janaka in the nature of the soul.
audarya magnanimity, benevolence, compassion; the predominant mood in the Pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
avadhut lit. ‘shaken off’; one who is oblivious to the world, in particular, the upkeep of their own body, the laws of Vedic society (varnasram-dharma), and the rules and regulations given by the scriptures for spiritual practice; one who is disregarded by society because their behaviour is incomprehensible and often apparently inappropriate; a highly realised sadhu immersed in divine experience and situated in a fifth stage of detachment beyond the four stages of sannyas (kutichaka, bahudaka, parivrajaka, and paramahamsa); a name of Sri Nityananda Prabhu.
Avatar lit. ‘one who crosses down’; a form or role assumed by the Lord or one of His devotees when they descend from the spiritual world to the material world. In general, the Lord has six types of Avatars: Purusa-avatars (who maintain the creation), Lila-avatars (who perform special Pastimes), Guna-avatars (who regulate the modes of material nature), Manvantara-avatars (the fathers of mankind), Yuga-avatars (who establish the dharma for each age), and Saktyavesa-avatars (souls who are empowered to perform particular functions).
Avatari the origin of all Avatars; the Supreme Lord’s original form as Sri Krsna in the mood of madhurya and Sri Gaurasundar in the mood of audarya.
Balaram (Baladev) the elder brother of Lord Krsna; the first expansion of Krsna; the source of Lord Narayan and all other Avatars. He appears as Sri Nityananda Prabhu in the Pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
Bhagirath the king who performed severe austerities and induced the Ganges to descend to the earth from Dhruvaloka.
Bharadvaja Muni a renowned sage who performed penances on the bank of the Ganges and personally served Lord Ramachandra.
Bharat (Bharat-varsa, Bharat-bhumi) the kingdom of Maharaj Bharat, the son of Rsabdev. During his lifetime, this territory spanned the entire planet. Present day India is still known as Bharat.
Bhimasen (Bhima) the son of Vayu and Kunti and second of the five Pandavas. He is renowned for his strength, bravery, and appetite.
Bhismadev (Bhisma) one of the twelve mahajans; the son of King Santanu and Ganga Devi; a lifelong celibate warrior and devotee of Lord Krsna who guided both the Pandavas and Kauravas.
Brahma (Brahman) 1) the Absolute; a Name for the Supreme Lord which means, «Brhatvat brhanatvat iti Brahma: He who is the greatest and always becoming greater»; (2) the bodily effulgence of the Supreme Lord; the infinite expanse of spiritual energy which makes up, surrounds, and pervades all living beings and all planes of existence.
Brahma the first being in the material universe, who is considered both self-born and the son of Lord Visnu. Brahma performs a variety of duties: creating all life forms within the material world using the material elements manifested by the energy of the Supreme Lord; regulating the mode of passion within the material world; revealing the Vedas to the rsis; performing sacrifices for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord; and overseeing the affairs of the demigods, the sages, and human beings. ‘Brahma’ is a post occupied by a soul in each material universe, and each material universe manifests and dissolves with his birth and death.
brahman (brahmin) lit. ‘knower of Brahma’; one who, as a result of realisation of Brahma, is endowed with twelve qualities: virtuousness, truthfulness, self-control, austerity, non-enviousness, humility, tolerance, non-maliciousness, expertise in sacrifice, charitableness, steadiness, and learning. One is not a brahman simply by being born as the son of a brahman; one must have the appropriate qualities and behaviour.
Brhaspati the chief priest and guru of the demigods; the son of the sage Angira, grandson of Brahma, and father of Uddhava. He appeared in the Pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu as Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya.
Cha̐d Kazi the Muslim magistrate of Mayapur who initially tried to check Mahaprabhu’s sankirtan movement, but later, after being blessed by the Lord, forbade anyone to do so. He is Kamsa in the Pastimes of Lord Krsna.
Chaitanya lit. ‘consciousness’; a short name for Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (Sri) the Supreme Personality of Godhead; the combined form of Sri Sri Radha-Krsna; the Absolute in His aspect as a devotee of Himself; the origin of all Avatars, manifestations, and energies. He appeared on earth in the land of Bengal with His associates and divine abode (1486–1534) to spread prema-dharma, the religion of divine love, through Nam-sankirtan, the chanting of the Lord’s Holy Names, and He is renowned for His compassion. He is also known as Nimai, Visvambhar, Gauranga, Gaurahari, and Gaurasundar, amongst other names.
Champakalata Sakhi one of Srimati Radharani’s eight closest friends.
Dattatreya an Avatar of Lord Visnu who appeared as a son of Atri Muni and Anusuya, and the brother of Durvasa Muni. Roaming the earth as an ascetic brahman, He enlightened both kings and villagers. His teachings to King Yadu, the forefather of the Yadu dynasty, are recounted by Lord Krsna to Uddhava in Srimad Bhagavatam (11.7–9).
Deity (archa, murti, thakur, vigraha) any form the Lord mercifully assumes to accept worship from His devotees. Deities are of eight types (SB: 11.27.12) — stone, wood, metal, earth, paint, sand, mental energy, and jewel — and should be honoured as nondifferent from the Lord Himself.
Dham lit. ‘abode’; the homeland of the Supreme Lord where He performs His eternal Pastimes; a plane existing in the spiritual world that appears within the material world when the Lord descends to perform Pastimes.
Dhanvantari an Avatar of Lord Visnu who appeared during the churning of the ocean and gave the demigods the nectar of immortality. He is the first teacher of ayurveda.
dharma nature; inherent quality; religion; duty; occupation; law. In its purest sense, dharma denotes the eternal service of the Supreme Lord.
Divine Couple Sri Radha and Sri Krsna.
dhoti a cloth, typically one metre wide and four metres long, worn by men as a lower garment.
divine love standard English rendering of prema.
Draupadi the daughter of King Drupada. She is the renowned wife of the five Pandavas and a friend of Lord Krsna.
Durvasa Muni a partial avatar of Lord Siva who appeared as the son of Atri and Anasuya, and brother of Dattatreya; a powerful sage renowned for both his curses and boons. He plays a catalytic role in various Pastimes of Lord Krsna and His Avatars.
Dvapar-yuga the third of the four ages that the universe cycles through seventy-one times during each day of Brahma. Dvapar-yuga lasts approx. 864,000 years. The last Dvapar-yuga ended about five thousand years ago, just after the Battle of Kuruksetra and Lord Krsna’s withdrawal from this world.
Dvaraka the eternal abode of Lord Krsna situated on the bank of the ocean, where He presides as the king of the Yadu dynasty. Dvaraka exists in the spiritual world in the lower portion of Goloka. When Lord Krsna descended to the earth, Dvaraka manifested on an island just off the west coast of India in modern-day Gujarat.
dvija lit. ‘twice born’; an alternative name for a brahman, drawn from the idea that receiving initiation into the Brahma gayatri mantra is a second birth.
Ekachakra the appearance place of Sri Nityananda Prabhu, located in the Birbhum district of West Bengal, India, and known at present as Birchandrapur (in honour of Nityananda Prabhu’s son Virachandra Prabhu).
Ekadasi the eleventh day of each lunar fortnight; the day during each fortnight that the Vaisnavas fast and engage more deeply in devotional activities.
Gadadhar Pandit the Avatar of Srimati Radharani in Sriman Mahaprabhu’s Pastimes; the most intimate devotee of Sriman Mahaprabhu; a member of the Pancha Tattva. He was a lifelong companion of the Lord who in particular served the Lord during His final Pastimes by reciting Srimad Bhagavatam. His humility, service, and love for the Lord are unparalleled.
Ganga the sacred river Ganges; the consort of the Supreme Lord who serves Him in the form of a river. After washing the lotus feet of Lord Visnu and filling the Causal Ocean, the Ganga enters this material universe, flows through the heavenly planets, and descends to the earth after her fallen is broken by Lord Siva. From the Himalayas, the Ganga flows across India into the Bay of Bengal, purifying and blessing all souls with devotion to the Lord.
Ganga Das Pandit an eternal associate of Sriman Mahaprabhu who served as the Lord’s Sanskrit grammar teacher during the Lord’s Pastimes of scholarship as a brahman boy in Nadia.
Gauda Mandal lit. ‘the district of gur (a type of unrefined sugar)’; the land of sweetness: the land of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s eternal Pastimes, which descended to the earth with the Lord. At present, Gauda Mandal is a district in central West Bengal that is renowned for Vaisnavism.
Gaura lit. ‘gold’; a name of Sriman Mahaprabhu that refers to His golden complexion.
Gaurachandra lit. ‘golden moon’, a name of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
Gaurahari lit. ‘golden Lord’, a name of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
Gauranga lit. ‘golden-formed’, a name of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
ghat a flight of steps or ramp leading down to a river or reservoir where people collect water, bathe, wash clothes, and perform other daily duties.
Gokula lit. ‘cow-herd’ or ‘cow-quarters’; the homeland of Lord Krsna; the name of the village in Mahavan where Krsna lives as a boy before moving to Nanda Gram. Gokula often refers to the abode of Krsna revealed in the material world as opposed to Goloka, the abode of Krsna in the spiritual world.
Goloka lit. ‘cow-land’; the Name of the eternal, spiritual abode of Krsna, the topmost plane within the spiritual world where the Lord’s sweetest Pastimes take place. It contains three divisions: Dvaraka, Mathura, and Vrndavan.
gopa lit. ‘maintainer of cows’; a cowherd boy or man; an inhabitant of Vrndavan and associate of Lord Krsna in His eternal abode and Pastimes. Gopas serve Krsna as servants (in dasya-rasa), friends (in sakhya-rasa), and affectionate guardians (in vatsalya-rasa).
gopi lit. ‘female maintainer of cows’; a cowherd girl or woman; an inhabitant of Vrndavan and associate of Krsna in His eternal abode and Pastimes. Gopis serve Krsna as affectionate guardians (in vatsalya-rasa) or paramours (in parakiya-madhura-rasa). They are the greatest devotees of Lord Krsna and the bodily expansions of Srimati Radharani.
Gora lit. ‘gold’; a Name of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
Govardhan lit. ‘cow-nourisher’; the mountain in the land of Vraja where the cows graze and Krsna plays with the gopas and gopis. Govardhan is revered by the residents of Vraja as both the greatest servitor of Krsna and a form of Krsna Himself.
Guhaka the king of a hunting tribe who helped Lord Ramachandra cross the Ganges as He entered into exile. He appeared in the Pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu as Sadananda Vipra Bhattacharya.
Guru lit. ‘heavy’; master; teacher; he who dispels darkness; the form the Supreme Lord assumes to distribute divine knowledge.
Hanuman the foremost servitor of Ramachandra and the epitome of dasya-rasa; the prime minister of the Kiskindha kingdom of human-like monkeys ruled by Sugriva that helped Ramachandra recover Sita Devi.
Haridas Thakur the close associate of Sriman Mahaprabhu who is renowned as the foremost Acharya of chanting the Holy Name (the Namacharya). After Lord Brahma offended Lord Krsna in Vrndavan and performed austerities in Antardwip, Lord Krsna blessed him to accept the form of an outcast to fulfil his desire to humbly chant the Lord’s Name and serve in the Lord’s association. He thus became Haridas Thakur.
Hiranyakasipu a cruel demon who tormented the demigods, the world at large, and his son — the Lord’s dear devotee Prahlad. He was killed by the Lord in His Avatar as Nrsimhadev. Internally, he is Vijay, a doorkeeper of Vaikuntha who was cursed by the four Kumaras. He accepted this role to fulfil the Lord’s desire for performing Pastimes to glorify His devotees.
holy place standard English rendering of tirtha.
Hussein Shah, Nawab the Muslim ruler of Bengal during the Pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu. He is Jarasandha in the Pastimes of Lord Krsna.
Indra the king of heaven and the gods.
Isan Thakur the household servant of Jagannath Misra. He looked after Sriman Mahaprabhu during His youth and cared for Mother Sachi and Visnu Priya Devi after the Lord’s sannyas.
Jagannath lit. ‘Lord of the universe’; the renowned Deity of the Supreme Lord situated in Sri Purusottam Dham (Jagannath Puri, Odisha); a peculiar form Lord Krsna assumes when He is overwhelmed by feelings of separation from the devotees of Vrndavan.
Jagannath Misra the father of Sriman Mahaprabhu. He is Nanda Maharaj in the Pastimes of Lord Krsna.
Jahnava Devi the eternal consort of Sri Nityananda Prabhu. She served the Lord as His wife, and after His departure from the earth, she served as an Acharya and leader in the society of the Lord’s followers.
Jahnavi lit. ‘daughter of Jahnu’; a name of the Ganges drawn from her being swallowed and then released by Jahnu Muni.
Jahnu Muni a renowned sage who drank the waters of the Ganges with his palm and later released her at the request of Maharaj Bhagirath. The island in Nabadwip where this took place bears his name — Jahnudwip.
Jaimini a disciple of Krsna Dvaipayan Vedavyas who wrote the Mimamsa-sutras and established the doctrine of karma-mimamsa, which posits that the purpose of life is to perform good works and reap their benefits because karma is the absolute principle, to which even God is subservient.
Jarasandha the King of Magadha who battled against Lord Krsna and His army eighteen times and was eventually killed by Bhima so that the Rajasuya sacrifice could be completed.
Jayadev Goswami the author of Sri Gita-govinda; a renowned Vaisnava poet whose writings were deeply appreciated by Sriman Mahaprabhu and His associates, as well as Lord Jagannath and the Vaisnavas throughout the ages.
Jiva Goswami the greatest philosopher in the history of Vedic culture and most prolific writer in the Gaudiya Vaisnava sampradaya; the nephew and disciple of Srila Rupa Goswami. He was blessed by Sriman Mahaprabhu and Sri Nityananda Prabhu to systematically present and protect Their teachings and the proper conclusions of the Vedic scriptures. He spent the majority of his life in Vrndavan engaged in writing and worship.
jnan knowledge; consciousness; calculation; speculation; the pursuit of liberation; knowledge of the soul; knowledge of Brahman; knowledge of the Supreme Lord, His energies, and their relationships (sambandha-jnan).
jnana-yoga the pursuit of liberation through the cultivation of knowledge.
Kali lit. ‘the personification of quarrel’; the personification of the current age, who was allotted five places to reside by Maharaj Pariksit: those of intoxication, illicit sex, slaughter, money, and gaming (gambling, dice, cards, chess, etc. (SB Vivrti: 1.17.38)).
Kali-yuga the fourth (and current) of the four ages of the material universe (Satya, Treta, Dvapar, and Kali). Known as the age of quarrel and comparable to a dark winter, Kali-yuga lasts 427,000 years and began about 5,000 years ago, just after the battle of Kuruksetra and the disappearance of Lord Krsna. Kali-yuga is characterised by degradation of the fundamental virtues — honesty, cleanliness, compassion, and austerity — and a predominance of gaming, intoxication, illicit sex, slaughter, and hoarding of wealth. It is nonetheless considered the most desirable of all ages by the sages and scriptures because during that time the prescribed means to serve the Lord — chanting His Name — is the easiest, the most purifying, and the most joyful of all spiritual practices.
kalpa a day (or night) of Brahma; a period of 432 million solar years.
Kamsa the king of Bhoja, son of Ugrasena, and maternal uncle of Lord Krsna. Maddened by greed and anger, he usurped the throne of Mathura and repeatedly sent demons to kill Lord Krsna after hearing a prophecy that the eighth son of his sister Devaki — Krsna — would kill him. He was eventually killed by Lord Krsna when the Lord came to a wrestling tournament in Mathura.
Kanada the founder of the Vaisesika philosophy, atomic pluralism, which posits that indestructible units of various types of matter combine and are animated by Brahman to form the material world.
Kapila there are two Kapilas who taught sankhya, the process of analysing the material elements. The first is an Avatar of Lord Visnu who appeared in Satya-yuga as the son of Devahuti and Kardama Muni. His teachings are recounted in Srimad Bhagavatam and focus on understanding the role of spirit within matter and cultivating devotion to the Lord. The second is an atheist who appeared later and taught a similar mode of analysis without any reference to spirit or the Supreme Lord.
karma action; reactions to previous actions; worldly action; action performed to attain its fruit; action performed as a profession or duty; action performed according to scriptural directives; destiny.
karma-yoga the pursuit of enjoyment, both in the earthly and heavenly planes, by practising selfless action according to the directives in the scriptures; propitiating the Lord and the demigods by performing one’s duty, acting virtuously, being charitable, engaging in sacrifices, conducting ceremonies, and offering worship.
kartals lit. ‘hand-cymbals’; the cymbals used in the style of kirtan prescribed by Sriman Mahaprabhu.
Kausalya the mother of Lord Ramachandra and first wife of King Dasarath. She is Sachi Devi in the Pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu and Yasoda Devi in the Pastimes of Lord Krsna.
Kesava Kasmiri a renowned scholar from Kashmir who surrendered to Sriman Mahaprabhu after being defeated by the Lord when the Lord was just twelve years old. He is said to have previously appeared as Nimbarka Acharya.
kirtan glorification; chanting, speaking, writing, and so on of the Names, Forms, Qualities, and Pastimes of the Supreme Lord and His associates; the spiritual practice prescribed for the Age of Kali; the best of all practices of devotion.
Krsna the Supreme Personality of Godhead; He who is all-attractive (krs) and gives ecstasy (na); the original Name and Form of the Supreme Lord in which He has unparalleled qualities and Pastimes.
Krsna Chaitanya lit. ‘Krsna consciousness’; the sannyas name of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
Kumaras (Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatan, and Sanat) lit. ‘young boys’; the first four sons of Brahma, who serve the Lord eternally in the forms of young celibate brahman boys although internally they are vastly learned sages whose teachings appear throughout the scriptures. They are also known as Chatuhsan.
Laksman the eldest of Lord Ramachandra’s three younger brothers; an Avatar of Sankarsan. He accompanied Rama and Sita during Their exile in the forest and set a paramount example of submissive service.
Laksman Sen a king of Bengal in the 12th century. He made Nabadwip his capital, the city being founded by his grandfather Vijay Sen in 1063. He worshipped and supported Sri Jayadev Goswami during his stay there.
Laksmi the goddess of fortune and eternal consort of Lord Narayan. She resides with the Lord eternally in Vaikuntha, and Her expansion resides on the chests of the forms of Lord Visnu who preside over the material world.
Laksmi Priya the first wife of Sriman Mahaprabhu, who passed away out of separation from Him while He toured East Bengal.
Lalita the dearest friend and lead servitor of Srimati Radharani. She is renowned for her leadership, boldness, and intense earnestness to perform even the least service to the Divine Couple. She appeared as Sri Svarup Damodar in the Pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
liberation standard English rendering of mukti and moksa.
lila Pastimes; the transcendental activities of the Supreme Lord and His devotees; their eternal play of love.
linga 1) a deity of Lord Siva; (2) the subtle body, made up of the mind, intelligence, and false ego.
madhura-rasa lit. ‘sweet taste’; a relationship of conjugal love with the Lord, which is the most exalted of all relationships with the Lord and contains within it the qualities of all the other relationships. There are two forms of madhura-rasa: (1) svakiya: serving the Lord as one’s husband, and (2) parakiya: serving the Lord as one’s paramour. Parakiya madhura-rasa, which has been given to the world by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, is found only in Sri Vrndavan Dham, and is the ultimate attainment of the soul.
madhurya sweetness; beauty; the foremost aspect of Sri Krsna’s Pastimes in Sri Vrndavan Dham.
Madhva Acharya the founder of the Brahma sampradaya, one of the four Vaisnava sampradayas in the Age of Kali. Madhva Acharya appeared in the thirteenth century as a Karnataka brahman and from a young age used his superhuman strength and intelligence to serve the Supreme Lord. He established the Vedantic school of suddha-dvaita (pure dualism) and vigorously refuted advaitavad (the nondualism taught by Sankar Acharya) through his touring, preaching, debating, and writing.
Magh the tenth lunar month of the year, which normally starts in January and ends in February.
mahajan lit. ‘great soul’; a renowned devotee of the Supreme Lord; an Acharya whose teachings and behaviour are authoritative and instructive for people in general; one or all of twelve great persons known by this title: Brahma, Narad, Siva, the four Kumaras (Sanaka, Sanatan, Sananda, and Sanat), Kapiladev, Manu, Prahlad Maharaj, Janaka Raja, Bhismadev, Bali Maharaj, Sukadev Goswami, and Yamaraj.
mahamantra lit. ‘supreme mantra’; the Hare Krsna mahamantra: Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Sriman Mahaprabhu established the chanting of this mantra as the primary way to practise the religion in the Age of Kali: chanting the Name of the Lord.
mahamaya lit. ‘great illusion’; the material world; the energy of the Supreme Lord known as His illusory energy, material energy, and external energy; another name of the goddess of illusion, Maya Devi.
Mahaprabhu lit. ‘supreme master’; a Name of Sri Krsna Chaitanya, prophesied in the Mundaka-upanisad.
Maharaj lit. ‘great king’; a title used to address a king or a sannyasi.
Mandakini a name for the Ganges in the heavenly planets; a holy river flowing on Mount Kailas on earth.
mantra a hymn, prayer, instruction, incantation, or principle composed in concise and metric Sanskrit, typically originating from a Vedic scripture.
Markandeya Muni a renowned sage and descendant of Bhrgu Muni. He received a boon by virtue of his austerities to live through seven cycles of the universal creation and destruction, and ultimately was blessed by Lord Siva to attain pure devotion to the Lord.
Mathura 1) the land of Lord Krsna’s Pastimes; the district that contains Vrndavan, Govardhan, Radha Kunda, and other sites of the Lord’s Pastimes; (2) the city located some distance away from Vrndavan where Krsna resided for thirty-three years before moving to Dvaraka.
Matsya the Avatar of the Lord in the form of a fish that twice appears on the earth. First, the Lord appears as Matsya at the beginning of the Svayambhuva manvantara to return the Vedas to Brahma after they were stolen during his sleep by the demon Hayagriva. Second, the Lord appears as Matsya at the end of the Chaksusa manvantara to protect and enlighten King Satyavrata, whom He then establishes as the Manu of the ensuing manvantara.
maya lit. ‘that which is not’; illusion; forgetfulness of the Lord and the self; identification with a material body and attachment to its paraphernalia.
Maya Devi the goddess of illusion, who serves the Supreme Lord by detaining souls who are averse to the Lord within the material world and subjecting them to the law of karma. Her purpose is to completely remove all forms of aversion to the Lord from the hearts of the conditioned souls. When souls fully surrender to the Lord and become indifferent to her temptations, she considers her purpose fulfilled and happily releases them. She is the consort of Lord Siva and known by numerous names, such as Parvati, Durga, and Kali.
Mayapur the village at the centre of Sri Nabadwip Dham on the island of Antardwip where Sriman Mahaprabhu takes birth and resides during His youth.
mayavad lit. ‘illusionism’; the theory that the eternal spiritual existence of the Lord, His energies, His personal forms, His abodes, the soul (devotees of the Lord), and devotion to the Lord are all an illusion. Mayavad is the ultimate antithesis of Vaisnavism and claims that the highest aim in life is to merge into Brahma. Mayavad was propagated by Lord Siva in the form of Sankar Acharya on the order of Lord Krsna to attract dissenting persons back to the Vedic scriptures. Mayavad and ideas similar to it are also known as Advaitavad, Vivartavad, and Nirvisesavad.
mrdanga lit. ‘clay body’; the double-headed drum prescribed by Sriman Mahaprabhu for Hari-nam-sankirtan.
mukti liberation; liberation from material existence; liberation from ignorance of the self, the Lord, and their relationship; realisation of one’s true nature as an eternal servant of the Lord. The scriptures describe five types of liberation: salokya (residing in the Lord’s abode), sarupya (having a form like the Lord’s), sarsti (having opulence like the Lord’s), samipya (having the association of the Lord), and sayujya (absorption into the body or effulgence of the Lord). Vaisnavas may accept the first four of these for the sake of service to the Lord, but they never accept sayujya-mukti, in which knowledge, the object of knowledge, and the knower (jnan, jneya, and jnata) are all demolished. Such liberation is sought by jnanis and is often awarded to demons who have attacked the Supreme Lord or His devotees, but devotees shun it because it denies one the opportunity to serve the Lord eternally.
Nabadwip lit. ‘nine islands’; the eternal abode of Sriman Mahaprabhu, nondifferent from Sri Vrndavan, which He brought with Him to the earth during His Pastimes here. The region known as Nabadwip is the centre of Sri Gauda Mandal and is divided by streams of the Ganges, Yamuna, Saraswati, and other sacred rivers into nine islands — Simantadwip, Godrumadwip, Madhyadwip, Koladwip, Rtudwip, Jahnudwip, Modadrumadwip, Rudradwip, and Antardwip. At present, Nabadwip also refers to the town on the western bank of the Ganges within Koladwip in West Bengal, India.
Nadia the land of Sriman Mahaprabhu’s eternal Pastimes. Nadia once referred specifically to the town of Nabadwip, but at present refers to the district in which Nabadwip is located.
Naimisa (Naimisaranya) a forested area in central India where, at the beginning of Kali-yuga, thousands of sages gathered to hold a grand sacrifice that would counteract the degradation of the coming age. There, they heard Srimad Bhagavatam and the other Puranas from Sri Suta Goswami. Naimisa is said to be situated at the very centre of the universe.
Name standard English rendering of Nama; the transcendental vibration form of the Lord.
Nanda Maharaj the father of Lord Krsna and the king of the cowherd people of Vraja.
Nandi the bull who serves as Lord Siva’s carrier.
Narad (Devarsi Narad) a Saktyaves-avatar of the Lord delegated to travel throughout the material and spiritual worlds as a devotee sage, constantly chanting the Lord’s glories to the music of his vina. He takes part in countless Pastimes of the Lord in many of the Lord’s appearances in the world and gives guidance to numerous sages, kings, and devotees throughout the ages.
Narayan lit. ‘the shelter of all beings’; the Lord of Sri Vaikuntha Dham; the four-armed form of the Lord who presides over His eternal majestic abode of awe-inspired worship. Narayan is an expansion of Sri Balaram and the source of Mahavisnu and all the Avatars of the Lord in the material world.
Narayani a niece of Srivas Pandit who as a child was personally blessed by Sriman Mahaprabhu with divine love. She later became the mother of Srila Vrndavan Das Thakur.
Nilalohita Rudra a name of Lord Siva referring to the blue (nila) and red (lohita) colours of his body.
Nimai a name given to Sriman Mahaprabhu at His birth because He was born under a neem tree and because the name Nimai, like neem itself, protects one from ill fate.
Nimbarka (Nimbaditya) the founder of the Kumara sampradaya, one of the four Vaisnava sampradayas in the Age of Kali. Nimbarka Acharya appeared in a family of Tailanga brahmans on the bank of the Godavari River. He eventually met Devarsi Narad and received from him initiation into the worship of Radha and Krsna, as well as a Salagram-sila known as Sarvesvar. He went on to establish the Vedantic school of dvaitadvaita (dualistic nondualism) and promoted the worship of Radha and Krsna as the supreme form of devotion.
nirvana liberation, commonly referring to the termination of either one’s material existence or one’s spiritual self (merging into Brahma).
Nitai, Nityananda a principal associate of Sriman Mahaprabhu and member of the Pancha Tattva who is the first expansion of the Lord Himself. He is Lord Balaram in the Pastimes of Lord Krsna and the origin of Lord Narayan, Lord Visnu, Lord Sesa, and all other Avatars of the Lord. As the embodiment of unconditional mercy, He is always joyful and eager to engage souls, even the most fallen, in the service of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
Nrsimha lit. ‘man-lion’; the Lord’s Avatar as a half-man, half-lion in which He protected His devotee Prahlad and slew the demon Hiranyakasipu.
offence standard English rendering of aparadha.
Padmavati Devi 1) the mother of Sri Nityananda Prabhu and wife of Sri Hadai Pandit; (2) the wife of Jayadev Goswami.
Pancharatra lit. ‘five nights’; the scriptures compiled from a conversation spanning five nights between Lord Siva and Devarsi Narad which describe the processes of Deity worship and mantra meditation.
Pancha Tattva lit. ‘five truths’; the fivefold manifestation of the Absolute Truth: the Supreme Lord Sriman Mahaprabhu, His expansion Sri Nityananda Prabhu, His Avatar as a devotee Sri Advaita Prabhu, the embodiment of His personal energy Sri Gadadhar Pandit, and the representative of His devotees Sri Srivas Thakur.
Pandavas the five sons of King Pandu: Yudhisthir, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakul, and Sahadev. The Pandavas were intimate devotees and friends of Lord Krsna. Their trials and tribulations in serving Lord Krsna and ultimately attaining sovereignty over the world form the major theme of Mahabharata.
Parvati lit. ‘mountain daughter’; Lord Siva’s eternal consort; Lord Siva’s wife Sati reborn as the daughter of Himavan (the Himalayas); a name and form of Maya Devi.
Pastimes standard English rendering of lila.
Patanjali the author of the Yoga-sutra; the first person to describe the system of astanga-yoga in writing.
Phalgun the eleventh lunar month of the year, which normally starts in February and ends in March.
Prabhu master; lord.
Prahlad a renowned devotee of Lord Visnu whose devotion could not be checked even by the extreme abuse of his father Hiranyakasipu. Prahlad Maharaj is glorified for perfectly practising the process of remembering the Lord (smaranam) and being the paramount example of santa-rasa devotion. His life and teachings establish the foundation of pure devotion to the Lord.
prema divine love; intense desire to please the Lord; the goal of life and perfection of the soul.
Prthu (Maharaj) a Saktyaves-avatar of Lord Visnu who ruled the earth as an ideal king. Amongst his many Pastimes was his levelling the surface of the earth for the production of grains.
Puranas lit. ‘ancient’; a canon of eighteen primary scriptures compiled by Srila Vyasadev, totalling hundreds of thousands of verses, that describe the Lord’s Avatars and Pastimes, the function of the material and spiritual worlds, the perfection of life, and the lives of sages and kings over the course of numerous manifestations of the material universes.
Purusottam lit. ‘the Supreme Person’; the Supreme Lord Krsna; Lord Jagannath.
Purusottam Ksetra the land of Lord Jagannath; Jagannath Puri and its surrounding area.
Puskara an ancient lake and its surrounding city in western India that is dear to Lord Brahma and renowned as an important place of pilgrimage.
Putana a witch sent by Kamsa to kill Krsna shortly after He appeared. Assuming the form of a beautiful nursemaid, she tried to kill Krsna by putting her poison-smeared breast in His mouth, but Krsna sucked the life-air out of her body, and following that, mercifully granted her the liberation of being His nursemaid in His eternal Pastimes.
Radha (Radhika, Radharani) lit. ‘She whose worship is supreme’; Lord Krsna’s eternal consort, the embodiment of the highest service and sacrifice to the Lord; the female aspect of the Supreme Absolute Truth.
Radha Kunda the lake made by Srimati Radharani and Her companions beside Syama Kunda near Govardhan Hill; the site of Radha and Krsna’s most confidential Pastimes; the most exalted holy place for all Rupanuga Vaisnavas.
Ramachandra the Avatar of the Supreme Lord as the prince of Ayodhya, the son of Dasarath and Kausalya. His character and Pastimes are the paragon of virtue.
Ramanuja Acharya the foremost proponent of the Sri sampradaya, one of the four Vaisnava sampradayas in the Age of Kali. Ramanuja Acharya appeared in the eleventh century as a South Indian brahman, and with the blessings of Sri Yamuna Acharya and other Vaisnavas, he established the Vedantic school of visista-advaitavad (qualified nondualism), preached widely throughout India, founded numerous Temples, and showed above all the dignity of surrender to the Lord.
rasa pleasure; the inconceivable, wonderful substance tasted in the hearts of pure devotees; the dispositions in which souls serve the Supreme Lord, which are of five primary types: adoration, servitorship, friendship, affectionate guardianship, and paramour love.
Rasa the dance performed by Sri Krsna with the gopis of Vraja.
Ray master; lord.
rsi a sage who reveals advanced knowledge of a subject after perceiving it himself.
Rudra lit. ‘howler’; a name of Lord Siva.
Rupa Goswami the principal follower of Sriman Mahaprabhu; the foremost authority on rasa and the practice of devotion. In the eternal Pastimes in Vraja, he serves Radharani and Lalita Devi as Sri Rupa Manjari.
Sachi Devi the mother of Sriman Mahaprabhu. She is Yasoda Devi in the Pastimes of Lord Krsna.
sadhu a holy man; one who is adherent to Truth.
sakhi a female friend; a companion of Srimati Radharani.
sakti energy, power; a name of the Supreme Lord’s consort or the consort of a demigod.
samadhi lit. ‘complete meditation’; (1) full absorption of the self in the spiritual plane, to the extent that one becomes unconscious of one’s physical environment; the perfection of astanga-yoga. For a yogi, attaining samadhi is synonymous with liberation, while for a devotee it implies entrance into the eternal Pastimes of the Supreme Lord. (2) A temple or monument constructed over a soul absorbed in the state of samadhi.
Sanatan Goswami a principal follower of Sriman Mahaprabhu and the elder brother of Srila Rupa Goswami. He was shown the highest respect by everyone, including Sriman Mahaprabhu Himself. According to the Lord’s instructions, he discovered lost holy places, re-established the worship of Deities, compiled numerous scriptures, and cared for the whole community of devotees in Vrndavan. He is revered within the Gaudiya–Vaisnava sampradaya as the Acharya of sambandha-jnan.
sandhini one of the three forms of the Lord’s spiritual energy, in particular, the form that manifests the elements, bodies, and environment in the spiritual world.
Sankar lit. ‘he who is beneficent’; a name of Lord Siva.
Sankar Acharya an avatar of Lord Siva whom Lord Krsna sent to the earth to conceal the true purport of the Vedanta. He is renowned as the greatest proponent of monism (illusionism) and the pursuit of merging into Brahma (sayujya-mukti).
sankirtan congregational glorification of the Name, Form, Qualities, Pastimes, associates, and paraphernalia of the Lord; the prescribed religious practice for the Age of Kali.
sannyas lit. ‘complete abandonment’; the renounced order of life; the fourth asram in Vedic society; the practice of giving up selfish action and fully dedicating oneself to the Lord, primarily by preaching the principles of pure devotion. Formally, this entails celibacy, withdrawal from family, wearing the robes of a renunciant, and engaging one’s speech, thought, and action exclusively in the Lord’s service.
sannyasi one who has accepted the order of sannyas.
Saraswati a consort of the Supreme Lord; the goddess of knowledge, learning, and the arts; the sacred river which is a form of Saraswati Devi that flows from the Himalayas to Prayag and enters the confluence of the Ganga and Yamuna; a title of a greatly learned person.
Sarvabhauma Bhattacharya (Vasudev Sarvabhauma) the most widely renowned scholar in India during the time of Sriman Mahaprabhu. As an avatar of Brhaspati, he left his position in heaven and appeared on earth as a scholar to serve Sriman Mahaprabhu in Jagannath Puri.
Satya-yuga the age of truth, which lasts 1,728,000 years and is characterised by honesty, austerity, and meditative devotion. Satya-yuga is the first of the four ages that cycle throughout the existence of the material universe (Satya, Treta, Dvapar, and Kali).
Saunaka a renowned sage who led the sages assembled at Naimisaranya in hearing Srimad Bhagavatam narrated by Sri Suta Goswami.
seven sages the seven rsis who reveal the Vedas in the world, conduct sacrifices, assist the demigods in the maintenance of the creation, and play roles in the Lord’s Pastimes. These seven rsis change during each manvantara.
sin standard English rendering of papa.
Sita the eternal consort of Lord Rama. She is eternally worshipped with the highest regard for her chastity, purity, sacrifice, and service to the Lord.
Sita Thakurani the wife of Sri Advaita Acharya and dear friend of Sri Sachi Devi.
Siva lit. ‘the auspicious one’; a unique expansion of the Supreme Lord who performs numerous functions: regulating the mode of ignorance in the material world, cyclically destroying the material world, infusing the material world with souls, satisfying the desires for enjoyment and liberation of those who are averse to the Supreme Lord, supporting the demigods in their management of the material world, bearing the Ganges River on his head as she descends from Dhruvaloka, protecting the devotees of the Supreme Lord, and setting a paramount example of pure devotion to the Supreme Lord.
smarta a follower of the smrti scriptures, in particular, one who rigidly follows the codes of conduct and rules for worship given therein.
smrti lit. ‘that which is remembered’; the scriptures compiled by Vedavyas and other sages that illuminate the sruti. These include the Puranas, Niti-sastras, Itihasas, Mahabharata, Ramayana, and law books such as that of Manu.
Sridhar (Kholavecha) a poor and humble banana merchant of Nabadwip who constantly chanted the Name and devotedly worshipped the Ganga. As a boy, Sriman Mahaprabhu would barter and banter with him. Later, the Lord expressed profound affection for him and often visited his house during village sankirtans.
Sri Gita-govinda the Sanskrit masterpiece by Jayadev Goswami describing the Pastimes of Lord Krsna in Vrndavan. Sriman Mahaprabhu relished this text in the company of His intimate followers during His final Pastimes.
Srivas Thakur a principal associate of Sriman Mahaprabhu and member of the Pancha Tattva who lives near the Lord in Mayapur and participates in countless Pastimes of the Lord. Sriman Mahaprabhu is eternally present in his courtyard. There, the Lord performs kirtan every night with His intimate associates and once revealed Himself as the Supreme Lord for twenty-one hours.
sruti lit. ‘that which is heard’; the Vedas, Upanisads, and other scriptures revealed to (heard by) the rsis.
Suklambhar a poor brahman of Nabadwip who had deep love for Sriman Mahaprabhu and was amongst the Lord’s first companions in His sankirtan movement. At times, the Lord forcibly took food from Suklambar as an expression of His deep affection for him.
Surabhi the cow who emerged during the churning of the ocean and later bathed Lord Krsna with her milk on the order of Lord Brahma. Her milk makes up the ocean of milk in which Lord Visnu resides. She is renowned as the mother of all cows in the material world. Surabhi is also the name of the wish-fulfilling cows tended by Lord Krsna in His eternal abode Goloka.
Suta Goswami the disciple of Vedavyas who recited Srimad Bhagavatam and other Puranas at the assembly of 60,000 sages in Naimisaranya.
sutra lit. ‘thread’; an aphorism; a treatise made up of aphorisms.
tantra a body of scriptures that prescribes methods for chanting mantras, worshipping Deities, conducting sacrifices, casting spells, and performing other mystical rites. Vaisnavas practise a sattvik form of tantra but shun the non-sattvik forms.
tirtha a holy place; a place of pilgrimage; a place visited or inhabited by the Lord or His devotees.
Tulasi lit. ‘she who is incomparable’; Lord Krsna’s favourite plant. Without her leaves, Krsna will not accept any offering. Tulasi is a form of the gopi Vrnda Devi, the personal expansion of Srimati Radharani who serves as the mistress of Vrndavan: she who distributes devotion to the Lord, gives entrance into Vraja, and makes arrangements for Radha and Krsna’s Pastimes.
Upanisads the portions of the Vedas that explain the nature of the Absolute. They are often organised into a group of 108 texts and studied separately from the Vedas themselves.
Vaikuntha lit. ‘that which has no limit’ or ‘where there is no anxiety’; the spiritual world; the eternal abode of the Supreme Lord; the portion of the spiritual world presided over by Laksmi and Narayan, where the Lord’s majesty is predominant and devotees serve the Lord with awe and reverence.
Vaisnava lit. ‘one who is devoted to Visnu’; a servant of the Supreme Lord; a member of one of the four Vaisnava sampradayas.
Vallabha Acharya the father of Laksmi Priya, the first wife of Sri Gauranga. In other Pastimes of the Lord, he appeared as King Janaka, the father of Sita Devi, and Bhismaka, the father of Rukmini.
Vallabha Bhatta a renowned Vaisnava scholar who met with Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu near Prayag and in Jagannath Puri. According to Sri Chaitanya-charitamrta, he accepted initiation from Sri Gadadhar Pandit after the Lord curbed his pride. He then went on to found the school of Vaisnavism known in the modern day as Pusti-marg.
Valmiki the author of the Ramayana. After giving up the profession of a robber by the grace of the Devarsi Narad, Valmiki meditatively chanted the Name of the Lord under a tree for so long that an ant hill was built over his body. After his Gurus, the seven rsis, pulled him out of the ant hill (valmika), he became known as Valmiki. He was later blessed by Devarsi Narad and Lord Brahma to record the Pastimes of Lord Ramachandra in writing.
Vamsi Vadanananda the avatar of Sri Krsna’s flute in the Pastimes of Sriman Mahaprabhu. He took care of Mother Sachi Devi and Visnu Priya after Sriman Mahaprabhu’s sannyas and worshipped Visnu Priya’s Deity of Sriman Mahaprabhu.
Veda lit. ‘knowledge’; the knowledge revealed by the Supreme Lord through Lord Brahma and the rsis that explains the proper way for all souls to live and serve the Lord; the body of eternal knowledge recorded in separate scriptures at the beginning of Kali-yuga by Vedavyas, made up of the Rg-veda, Sama-veda, Yajur-veda, and Atharva-veda, the Upanisads, and other texts.
Viraja the river between the spiritual and material worlds; the river produced from the perspiration of Mahavisnu in which innumerable material universes float.
Visnu lit. ‘the all-pervading Lord’; the maintainer of the universe; a Name of the Supreme Lord and His expansions that preside over spiritual and material worlds.
Visnu Priya the eternal consort of Sri Gauranga; the manifestation of the Lord’s bhu-sakti in His Pastimes of Sri Gauranga. Visnu Priya served the Lord as His second wife after the disappearance of Laksmi Priya. She is revered eternally for Her sacrifice, chastity, and devotion to the Lord.
Visnu Swami the founder of the Rudra sampradaya, one of the four Vaisnava sampradayas in the Age of Kali. There are varying accounts of Visnu Swami’s birth and activities, but he is best known for his establishment of suddhadvaitavad (pure nondualism) and the worship of Radha and Krsna.
Visvakarma the chief architect of the demigods. He designs the palaces of the gods in heaven, powerful kings on earth, and the Lord Himself in His various abodes.
Visvambhar lit. ‘maintainer of the universe’; the name Sriman Mahaprabhu received at His name-giving ceremony from His maternal grandfather Nilambar Chakravarti.
Visvamitra a king who attained the position of an empowered brahman sage on the strength of his austerities. He is best known for his training Lord Ramachandra in the use of weapons and his rivalry with Vasistha Rsi.
Vrndavan (Vraja) lit. ‘forest of Tulasi’; the eternal homeland of Lord Krsna commonly known as Vraja; the supreme abode in the spiritual world where love and devotion reach their zenith. This abode appeared on earth with Lord Krsna in what is known today as the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India.
Vyasadev (Vedavyas) the Saktyavesa-avatar of the Lord who compiled the Vedic literatures (the four Vedas, the Upanisads, the Puranas, Mahabharata, and other texts) and ultimately revealed Lord Sri Krsna as the Absolute Truth in Srimad Bhagavatam.
Yamuna the holiest of all rivers; the river that winds through the land of Vraja and is the host of numerous Pastimes of Lord Krsna.
yoga 1) union; the union of the soul with the Lord; (2) a path; a means to attain a goal; (3) a practice; (4) astanga-yoga; (5) a conjunction; an auspicious astrological circumstance.
Yogamaya the aspect of the Lord’s personal energy that coordinates His eternal Pastimes. She is best known for her power to remove awareness of the Lord’s majesty from both the Lord’s devotees and the Lord Himself in order to facilitate their exchanges of pure love.
Yudhisthir Maharaj the eldest of the Pandavas and son of Yamaraj. He was crowned emperor of the entire world after the Battle of Kuruksetra.