This paper has been written by D. Krishna Ayyar who has had the good fortune to listen for now over two decades and a half to his guru, Swami Paramarthananda, who has been teaching Advaita Vedanta at Chennai, India.

I am more than happy to answer questions. Please send an email to: ayyarkrishna4[at]


Glossary & Abbreviations


Acala That which is devoid of movement

Adhishtanam Sub-stratum.  In Advaita Vedanta,  the real entity located in which an unreal thing is perceived

Adhyasa Superimposition. The wrong notion concerning a real entity, attributing to it the nature and characteristics of an unreal thing  and vice versa

Advayam Non-dual . The only Absolute Reality

Agami karma Punya and papa arising from action and thought in the present janma

Ahambrahmasmi “ I am Brahman”

Ahamkara Mind cum reflected consciousness

Ajah That which has no birth

Akasa Space

Akhanda caitanyam Undivided, all pervading consciousness

Anadi That which has no origin

Ananda Bliss

Anandamaya kosa Bliss sheath. The ignorance and bliss experienced by a person during deep sleep

Anantam That which is not limited , space-wise, time-wise or entity-wise. The infinite

Anantam That which has no end

Anavastha dosha The fallacy of infinite regress

Anirvacaniyam Unexplainability; Undefinability

Annamaya kosa The physical body

Antahkarana Mind – consisting of Manas, buddhi, ahamkara, and citta

Arthadhyasa  Perception of an unreal entity

Asanga Unassociated.; relationless

Asuras Demons

Atma The Consciousness aspect of Brahman’s nature recognized as the witness-consciousness in individual beings.

Avarana sakti Veiling power. The power of Maya by which Maya makes human beings forget their real nature

Avasthatraya viveka Enquiry into one’s real nature by analyzing the states of waking, dream and deep sleep

Avatara Incarnation

Avidya Maya

Ahampratyaya The ‘I’ notion part of the mind,  the changing ‘I’ as the knower, doer etc.
Avidya vritti The mode of the dormant mind  in sushupti registering the non-experiencing state.

Avyakruta Literal meaning is ‘unevolved’. However, it is used as a technical term synonymous with Maya

Avyakta Literal meaning is ‘ unmanifest’. However, it is used as a technical term synonymous with Maya

Avyavaharyam That which is beyond transactions

Ayamatama Brahma “This consciousness which is my real nature is none other than the all pervading consciousness”

Bhashya Commentary on the scriptural text

Bhokata Enjoyer or sufferer

Bhokruttvam The sense that one is an enjoyer or sufferer

Bhrama (1)Erroneous knowledge (2) Illusion

Brahmaa Creator-God.  The creator aspect of Iswara

Brahman The Absolute Reality defined as Existence-Consciousness-Bliss

Brahmana Seeker of knowledge of Brahman; one who has known Brahman

Brahmasatyam jaganmithya Brahman is the Reality; the universe is mithya

Buddhi Faculty of the mind which is of the nature of decision  - also, the reasoning faculty – generally referred to as the intellect

Caitanyam Consciousness

Cidabhasa Reflected  Consciousness

Cit Consciousness

Dama Control of the  sense organs of perception and action

Devas Gods. Deities

Drkdrsya viveka Enquiry into one’s real nature by analysing  the known and the knower

Dwaitam The existence of more than one reality

Golakam The physical part of the sense organs

Guna Attribute

Guru Preceptor

Hiranyagrha (1) Brahmaa , the  God embodying Iswara’s power of  creation power   (2) Cosmic subtle body

Indriya The energy of the sense organs

Iswara Maya cum cidabhasa. Cosmic causal body.

Jagat The universe

Jagrat avastha The waking state

Janma One life span; birth

Jiva Synonym of jivatma

Jivabrama aikyam Identity of the essential nature of Jivatma and Paramatma

Jivanmukta One who has become liberated while living.

Jivanmukti Liberation from Samsara in the current life itself

Jivatma The conglomerate of body, mind and atma

Jnana kanda The latter part of the Veda dealing with Brahman, Jivatmas and jagat

Jnanadhyasa The wrong notion mistaking a real entity to be an unreal thing.

Jnanam (1) Consciousness (2) Knowledge

Jnanendriyas Sense organs of perception – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch

Jnani One who has gained knowledge of one’s identity with Brahman – jivabrama aikyam. The knowledge that one’s real nature is consciousness and that that consciousness is no different from the all pervading consciousness called Brahman

Kamya Karma Action for selfish ends

Karana sarira The causal body – the anandamaya kosa

Karma Action; merit and demerit

Karma kanda The former part of the Veda dealing with rituals

Karma Yoga Purificatory spiritual practices as preparation for study of Jnana kanda

Karmaphalam The enjoyment and suffering  undergone by the jivatma for punya and papa

Karmendriyas Sense organs of action – action through speech, legs, hands, anus and the genitals

Karta Doer

Kartrutvam The sense that one is a doer

Krama mukti Liberation from samsara after going to the abode of Hiranyagarbha by doing Hiranyagarbha or Iswara Upasana and being taught by Hiraanyagarbha himself

Lakshanam Features ; characteristics ; definition.

Laya Dissolution of the universe

Mananam The process of getting doubts clarifies by discussion with the teacher or by one’s own analysis and reasoning

Manas Faculty of mind which is of the nature of indecision or doubt; also the emotional aspect of antahkarana

Manomaya kosa The mind and the five sense organs of perception

Maya Unevolved names and forms resting, as a lower of reality, in Brahman

Mithya That which is experienced but has no real existence of its own

Moksha Liberation from samsara

Mumukshutvam Intense yearning for moksha

Nama roopa Name and form

Nididhyasanam The process of dwelling on the core of the teaching to overcome the habitual identification with the body mind complex

Nimitta karanam Intelligent cause

Nirakara Formless

Niravayava That which has no parts

Nirguna Attributeless

Nirvikalpa Divisionless

Nirvikara Changeless

Nitya Eternal

Pancabhootas The five basic compounds – space, air, fire water and earth

Pancakosa viveka Enquiry into one’s real nature by analyzing the five kosas

Papa Demerit, i.e., in the system of  karma, the debit entry in the ledger, as it were, for bad action or bad thought, to be discharged by imposing  suffering on the jivatma in the same birth or in some future birth.

Paramartika satyam Absolute reality

Paramatma Brahman

Parinama Transformation

Prajnaam Brahma The consciousness which is the nature of the individual is none other than the all pervading consciousness called Brahman

Prakarana grantha Works expounding Sruti

Prakriti Literal meaning is ‘nature’.  However, it  is used as a technical term synonymous with Maya

Prama Right knowledge

Pramanam The instrument of knowing

Pramata The knower

Prameyam The known

Prana The energy that regulates the physiological functions of living beings – five in number – prana, apana, vyana, samana and udana – responsible for functions such as respiration, circulation, digestion,  metabolism, ejection , locomotion, action etc. – generally referred to as ‘vital airs’

Pranamaya kosa The five pranas and the five sense organs of action

Prarabdha karma The quota of punya and papa allotted to be exhausted by enjoyment or suffering in a particular janam

Pratibhasika satyam Subjective reality

Pratyabhinja Recognition.

Pratyagatma When the all pervading consciousness is referred to as the consciousness recognizable by oneself in oneself, it is called Pratyagatma

Punya Merit, i.e., in the system of karma, the credit entry in the ledger, as it were,  for good action or good thought – to be discharged by conferring enjoyment or comfort on the jivatma in the same birth or in some future birth

Purushartha (1) Goals in life – material prosperity called artha, enjoyment called kama, merit gained by observance of one’s duties in accordance with scriptural commandments and prohibitions called dharma and moksha (2) free will

Sadhana catushtaya The four fold discipline qualifying for the study of Jnana kanda, consisting of viveka, vairagya, shatka sampatti, and mumukshutvam

Sadhanas Spiritual practices

Sakshi When the all pervading consciousness is referred as the consciousness that is the source of the reflected consciousness in the mind and is present throughout when mind has one cognition after another , it is called Sakshi

Sama Control or mastery over the mind

Samadhana Single-contended of the mind

Samanvaya Harmonious interpretation of texts – Sastra mentions six criteria – what is said in the beginning, what is said in the end, what is repeated, what is praised or condemned, what accords with logic and what is said to bring benefit.

Samashti Macrocosm

Samsara The cycle of births and deaths, karma and karma phalam punya and papa and  enjoyment and suffering.

Sancita karma The accumulated ‘bundle’ of punya and papa

Santimantra Benedictory verse

Sarvagatam All pervading

Sarvajnah The omniscient

Sarvasaktiman The omnipotent

Sarvatmabhava The sense that one is everything

Sastra Scripture.  Spiritual literature including Sruti, Smriti, Bhashyas, Vartikas, and Prakarana Granthas

Sat (1)Existence; (2) essence

Satyam That which exists in all three periods of time

Shatka Sampatti A  six fold  mental training consisting of sama dama, uparama, tritiksha, sraddha and samadhana

Siddhi Superhuman powers

Siva The God embodying Iswara’s power of  dissolution

Smriti Elaborations based on sruti. E.g., Bhagavat Gita. Literal meaning is memory; remembrance

Sraddha Faith in the teaching of the guru and scriptures

Sravanam Listening to the teaching of Sastra by a guru

Srishti Creation of the universe ; the unfolding of names and forms out of Maya

Sruti  Veda, in four compilations – Rg, Yajuh,  Sama and Atharva

Sthiti Maintenance of the universe

Sthoola sarira The physical body – the annamaya kosa

Sukshma sarira The subtle body consisting of the pranamaya, manomaya and vijanamaya kosas

Sushupti The deep sleep state

Sutra Scriptural work in the form aphorisms

Swapna avastha The dreaming state

Swaroopam Intrinsic nature

Tattvamasi “Thou art That”.  The teaching “You, Jivatma are none other than Brahman”

Titiksha Endurance of discomforts, such as heat, cold etc .Equanimity towards the opposites of pleasure and pain. Acceptance of things and situations without grudging or complaint.

Triputi The division of the knower, the known and the knowing instrument or the act of knowing – the pramata, the prameyam and the pramanam

Upadana karanam Material cause

Upadhi The thing from which characteristics are falsely transferred to an entity that is close by

Upahitam The entity to which characteristics of a thing close by are falsely transferred

Upanishad Vedic texts dealing with Brahman, jivatmas and the  jagat

Upanishadic Used as an adjectival form of Upanishad

Uparati Performance of one’s duty towards himself, the parents, teacher, family, society etc., which involves sacrifice as opposed to insistence on rights which involves demands on others

Upasana Spiritual meditation

Vairagya Dispassion – Absence of desire for enjoyment of things of this world as also of other worlds

Vakyam Sentence

Vartika Commentary, in verse form ,on the scriptural text

Vasanas Impressions formed in the mind on account of experiences.

Veda The original Hindu religious scripture

Vedanta Janna kanda consisting of the Upanishads

Vedantic Used as an adjectival for of Vedanta

Videhamukti Dissolution of the sthoola, sukshma and karana sariras of a Jivanmukta when he dies

Vijanamaya kosa The intellect and the five sense organs of perception

Vikshepa sakti Projecting power. The power of Maya that projects the universe of names and forms on Brahman, the sub-stratum of pure Existence and also deludes jivatmas into mistaking the world to be real

Virat Cosmic physical body

Vishnu The God embodying the Iswara’s power of maintenance of the universe

Vivarta karanam The cause that produces effect without undergoing any change.

Viveka Discrimination of the eternal and the ephemeral

Vritti Thought mode

Vyashti Microcosm

Vyavaharika satyam Empirical reality



  • AB = Atmabodha
  • Au = Aitereya Upanishad
  • AUB = Aitereya Upanishad Bhashya
  • BSB = Brahmasutra Bhahya
  • B = Bhamati
  • Bu = Brhadaranyaka Upanishad
  • BUB = Brhadaranyaka Upanishad Bhasya
  • BSBV = Brhadaranyaka Upanishad Vartika
  • Ch = Chandogya Upanishad
  • CUB = Chandogya Upanishad Bhashya
  • Kau = Kaivalya Upanishad
  • Ku = Kathopanishad
  • KUB  =Kathopanishad Bhashya
  • M = Manasollasa
  • Mau = Mandukya Upanishad
  • Mu   = Mundaka Upanishad
  • MUB = Mundaka Upanishad  Bhasya
  • NS = Naishkarmyasiddhi 
  • PV = Pravanartha Vartika
  • Tu = Tattitriya Upanishad
  • TUB = Taittiriya Upanishad Bhasya
  • TUBV= Taittiriya Upanishad Bhashya Vartika
  • Su = Swesvatara Upanishad
  • US   = Upadesa Sahasri
  • V = Vivarana published along with Pancapadika and its other commentaries, Prabodha-parisodini and Tatparya-dyotini and also with commentaries Tatparya-dipika and Bhava-prakasika on it ( Madras Government Oriental Series, 1958)
  •  VC = Viveka Cudamani