Hinduism Terms

  1. Advaita - Nondual, one without a second.
  2. Ahimsa - The doctine of nonviolence to all life. This forms the basis for Hinduism's vegetarian emphasis.
  3. Atman - The self or the spiritual essence of all individual human beings.
  4. Asanas - The physical postures or ways of sitting in order to do yoga.
  5. Ashram - A spiritual community.
  6. Avatars - Literally meaning manifestations of God. They are said to intervene in history to fight against evil and maintain that the universe functions in accordance to Dharma. Examples of Avatars could include Krishna and Jesus among many others. Traditionally, there are ten avatars of Vishnu. 
  7. Bhagavad Gita, The - Written around 500 B.C., this is a story of Krishna as he avoids the impulses of the goddess in order to meditate and achieve enlightenment.
  8. Bhakti - Devotion to a deity of guru.
  9. Bhakti yoga - This is a form of yoga through which a person loses one's self through devotion to a personal concept of God including either Krishna or Rama.
  10. Brahma - "The Creator." The first god in the Hindu Trimurti.
  11. Brahman - The basic reality behind all things. Not to be confused with Brahma who is the creator god in the Hindu Trimurti.
  12. Brahmin - The priestly caste of Hinduism.
  13. Caste - One of the four main social classes sanctioned by Hinduism. 
  14. Devi - "Goddess"; the Divine Feminine, also called the Great Mother.
  15. Dharma - Is most specifically referring to the social order that includes a Hindus personal behaviour and attitudes. At the simplest level it describes a believer’s religious and social duties according to their status and stage of life.
  16. Dhyana - Meditation
  17. Durga - "Awe-inspiring," "distant"; a goddess, a form of Devi.
  18. Dvaita - In Vedantic philosophy, one of the two principal schools, asserting that entities have a real existence apart from Brahman.
  19. Guru - Spiritual leader.
  20. Hatha Yoga - The spiritual discipline of postures and bodily exercises.
  21. Ishvara -"Lord," a common name for God.
  22. Jnana Yoga - The spiritual discipline of knowledge and insight. 
  23. Kali - A form of Devi; a goddess associated with destruction and rebirth.
  24. Karma - Is linked to reincarnation and is a matter of fact in the Hindu community that a person’s actions in this rebirth will affect directly both this current life and the circumstances of the next rebirth. Every action has a direct consequence, good deeds lead to good here on earth now and for the next life, whereas bad deeds now will mean bad karma for both this life and the next reincarnation, this could mean coming back as an animal or as a human lower down the social hierarchy.
  25. Karma Yoga - The spiritual discipline of selfless action.
  26. Krishna - A god associated with divine playfulness; an incarnation of the god Vishnu.
  27. Mantra - A short sacred phrase, often chanted or used in meditation.
  28. Maya - "Illusion." The idea that the visible world is an illusion that clouds the reality of absolute oneness.
  29. Moksha - Is the term used to describe freedom from the cycle of birth and death and is the ultimate goal in the Hindu religious life. Release from the bondage of the Law of Karma and union with the Supreme Being [Brahman]. This is achieved through knowledge [Gyana], devotion [Bhakti], or right works [Karma].
  30. Nirguna - Distinctionless or without attributes.
  31. Nirvana - The personal self merging into the impersonal and undifferentiated oneness of the Ultimate Self. Nirvana is the goal of enlightenment. 
  32. OM - The mantra that contains all of the primal vibrations of the universe. It is considered to be the queen of the Mantras.
  33. Puja - Worship of dieites at an altar.
  34. Raja Yoga - The "royal" discipline of meditation.
  35. Rama - A god and mythical king; a form of Vishnu. 
  36. Reincarnation - According to Hinduism the soul continues to be reborn or reincarnated on earth until the time that it becomes perfect and reunites with its source, Brahman. The soul is said to inhabit many different bodies during the ongoing cycle of birth and death and is described in one of the Hindu sacred texts the Bhagavad Gita – ‘Just as a man discards worn out clothes and puts on new clothes, the soul discards worn out bodies and wears new ones.’ 2.22
  37. Samadhi - A focusing of the mind with the goal of emptying it of all thoughts and of attaining one's absorption into the ultimate Oneness. 
  38. Samsara - It describes the endless cycle or birth and rebirth, the Hindu life is in some ways an effort to bring that cycle to an end. It describes the state of where the soul is endlessly reincarnated.
  39. Sannyasin - A wandering holy man or ascetic. 
  40. Shiva - "The Destoyer." The third god in the Hindui Trimurti.
  41. Transmigration - (see Reincarnation)
  42. Trimurti - The Hinduism tri-theistic Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.
  43. Upanishads - Written meditations on the spiritual essence of the universe and the self.
  44. Vedas, The - Some of the sacred religious texts of Hinduism which were allegedly written around 3,000 B.C. and are known as some of the oldest religious texts in the world. There are four collections of the Vedas which are collections of ancient prayers and rituals.
  45. Vedanta - The chief Hindu philosophy, dealing mainly with the Upanishadic doctrine of the identity of Brahman and Atman, that reached its highest development c. 800 A.D. through the philosopher Shankara.
  46. Vishnu - "The Preserver." The second god in the Hindu Trimurti.
  47. Yoga - A physical and mental discipline that is practiced for the purpose of spiritual liberation or empowerment.



  • Dictionary.com.
  • Halverson, Dean C. "Hinduism" in The Compact Guide to World Religions. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1996, pp. 100-101.
  • Johnsen, Linda. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Hinduism. New York: Alpha Books, 2002, pp. 369-79.
  • Molloy, Michael. Experiencing the World's Religions. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing, 1999, pp. 98-99.