Glossary I


The Greek term ida means form or pattern. An idea is anything that is contained in consciousness as an item of thought or awareness. It is usually taken to mean a mental image of something. It may also mean the essence of a thing; a general notion; an imagination; a belief, opinion or doctrine, or an ideal.


Theoretically, the opposite of materialism. But like materialism, idealism is a very broad category of philosophy containing many shades of theory. It is sometimes called mentalism or immaterialism. Idealists believe the universe is the embodiment of a mind. All reality is mental, and matter does not exist. The external world is not physical. Famous idealist philosophers are Berkeley, Hegel, Kant, and Plato. See Materialism, Mind/body problem.


From the Greek ida and lgos, ideology in classical times meant the science of ideas. Nowadays it means the system of ideas that constitutes a dogma: the ideology of fascism, for instance. See Idea.


the devotee who approaches the spiritual master. Idhma refers to wood that is taken to burn as fuel for a fire. A brahmacārī is supposed to take this idhma to ignite the fire used in performing sacrifices. By spiritual instruction a brahmacāri is trained to ignite a fire and offer oblations in the morning. He is supposed to go to the spiritual master to take lessons on transcendental subject matter, and the Vedic injunction is that when approaching the spiritual master one must carry with him fuel to perform yajñas, or sacrifices. The exact Vedic injunction is as follows: tad-vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet-samit-pāṇiḥ śrotriyaṁ brahma-niṣṭham “ To understand these things properly, one must humbly approach, with firewood in hand, a spiritual master who is learned in the Vedas and firmly devoted to the Absolute Truth.” “To learn transcendental subject matter, one must approach the spiritual master. In doing so, he should carry fuel to burn in sacrifice. The symptom of such a spiritual master is that he is expert in understanding the Vedic conclusion, and therefore he constantly engages in the service of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” (Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad 1.2.12) By serving such a bona fide spiritual master, gradually a conditioned soul becomes detached from material enjoyment and invariably makes progress in spiritual realization under the direction of the spiritual master. Those who are misled by the illusory energy are never interested in approaching a spiritual master to make life successful.


See Modes of nature (Tamo-guṇa).


the son of Manu who was king of the earth in ancient times and to whom Manu spoke Bhagavad-gītā.


the son of the sun-god, Vivasvān, and the first king of the earth planet.


the original name of this earth planet, before it became known as Bharata-varṣa.

Impersonal monism

Māyāvāda-the impersonal philosophy first propounded by Śaṅkarācārya, which proposes the unqualified oneness of God and the living entities (who are both conceived of as being ultimately formless) and the nonreality of manifest nature; the philosophy that everything is one and that the Absolute Truth is not a person; See Brahmajyoti, Buddhism, Māyāvādī philosophy, Personalism, Voidism.


gems decorating Kṛṣṇa’s flute.


the planet where Lord Indra resides.


Hastināpura-the ancient capital city of Bhārata-varṣa, or India. The Sanskrit word hasti means elephants and in this city there were many elephants kept. It occupies a portion of what is today called New Delhi; The capital city of the Pāṇḍavas. When Dhṛtarāṣṭra wanted to give the Pāṇḍavas half of the kingdom, this part was given.


the chief demigod of heaven and presiding deity of rain, and the father of Arjuna. He is the son of Aditi.


curbing one’s senses.


A form of reason that guesses the nature of a cause from the perception of an effect. See Abduction, ṁroha/Avaroha, Deduction, Empiricism, Logic, Phenomenalism.


regress From the Latin regressus ad infinitum (similar in meaning to the Sanskrit anavasthā), infinite regress is the fallacy that occurs when someone argues that a material thing is the ultimate cause. Any material cause must depend upon a remoter material cause. That cause must depend upon an even more remote material cause, and so on ad infinitum (into infinity). Thus arguments for material causation never reach a logical end. See Fallacy, Logic.

Intellect, intelligence

The power of discrimination, in Sanskrit called buddhi, in Greek dinoia. Intelligence is as natural to the jīva as taste is to water or smell is to earth: As there is no separate existence of the earth and its aroma or of water and its taste, there cannot be any separate existence of intelligence and consciousness. (Kapiladeva, SB 3.27.18) Buddhi manifests within each living entity as the ability to distinguish between forms in the field of perception, and as the sense of direction. The mind (manaḥ) imputes emotional values to form and direction (painful, pleasurable, etc.). The false ego (ahaṅkāra) lays claim to the field of perception (this is mine etc.). Intelligence, being originally spiritual, can rise above the influence of mind and false ego by buddhi-yoga, as explained in Bhagavad-gītā. Nārada Muni tells Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira in SB 7.14.38: O King Yudhiṣṭhira, the Supersoul in every body gives intelligence to the individual soul according to his capacity for understanding. Therefore the Supersoul is the chief within the body. The Supersoul is manifested to the individual soul according to the individual’s comparative development of knowledge, austerity, penance and so on. Since buddhi is awarded to all living entities by the Supersoul according to their knowledge and austerity, when a living entity surrenders completely to Kṛṣṇa, he is awarded pure intelligence. Surrendering completely to Kṛṣṇa entails surrendering to the spiritual master by renouncing the emotional values of the mind and the claims of the false ego. When original intelligence is covered by ignorance, it is called tāmasa-buddhi. This is the beginning of the material existence of the soul. In Bg 10.10 Lord Kṛṣṇa says that buddhi-yoga, the respiritualization of the intelligence, is accomplished by prīti-pūrvakam, the method of loving devotion. See Consciousness, False ego, Mind, Modes of nature, Soul, Subtle body, Supersoul.

Ipse dixit

(Lat.) He himself has said it. A kind of proof, after the answer that disciples of Pythagoras, an ancient Greek sage, used to give whenever an opponent called the certitude of the sage’s doctrine into question. This proof is rejected by modern philosophers. See Śabda.


the son of Arjuna by Ulūpī. He was killed by the Rākṣasa, Alambuṣa, during the Kurukṣetra battle.


the Supreme Personality of Godhead.


the Supreme Lord.


scriptural information about the Lord and His devotees.

  • Īśāvasya—(īśa-the Lord + vasya-control) the concept that everything is owned and controlled by the Lord and should be used in His service.


the abbreviation for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness; the Hare Krishna Movement. The society was founded in New York, 1966, by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, who came by boat, the Jaladuta from Calcutta in 1965, with just forty rupees and a trunk full of books. Sumati Morarji kindly donated his passage; 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 was 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 was the world’s most distinguished teacher of Vedic religion and thought. Śrīla Prabhupāda was a fully God conscious saint who had 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; Acronym for the International Society for Kṛṣṇa Consciousness, the branch of Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s saṅkīrtana mission established by Śrīla Prabhupāda in New York in 1966. ISKCON is a worldwide nonsectarian movement dedicated to propagating the message of the Vedas for the benefit of mankind. Over the years ISKCON has steadily grown in popularity and influence, and today it is widely recognized by theologians, scholars and laymen as a genuine and important spiritual movement. The hundreds of ISKCON centers throughout the world enable full-time members to live in close association, following the principles of Vedic life, and also provide a place where interested visitors can learn about the philosophy and culture of Kṛṣṇa consciousness and participate in its various functions. The basis of the movement is the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantraHare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare. The devotees experience divine ecstasy in singing these holy names of God to the accompaniment of musical instruments. The ISKCON devotees, as a prerequisite for the serious pursuit of spiritual life, abstain from meat-eating, illicit sex, intoxication, and gambling. The Kṛṣṇa conscious life style is based on the principles of simple living and high thinking. The devotees rise very early, about 3:30 a.m., and spend the morning hours in meditation and study. During the day, some devotees go out to public places to distribute the Society’s books and its official journal, Back to Godhead magazine. In addition to book distribution, devotees engage in a variety of activities, including teaching, artistic pursuits, farming and business. See Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Hare Kṛṣṇa Mahā-mantra, Kṛṣṇa.


one of the 108 principal Vedic scriptures known as the Upaniṣads. See Upaniṣads


the performance of public welfare activities such as digging wells or planting trees.


a controller. Kṛṣṇa is parameśvara, the supreme controller; One of the five tattvas, or Vedic ontological truths: the supreme controller of all living and nonliving energy. In Bg 18.61-62, Lord Kṛṣṇa tells Arjuna: īśvaraḥ sarva-bhūtānāṁ hṛd-deśe ‘rjuna tiṣṭhati bhrāmayan sarva-bhūtāni yantrārūḍhāni māyayā tam eva śaraṇaṁ gaccha sarva-bhāvena bhārata tat-prasādāt parāṁ śāntiṁ sthānaṁ prāpsyasi śāśvatam. The Supreme Lord (īśvara) is situated in everyone’s heart, O Arjuna, and is directing the wanderings of all living entities, who are seated as on a machine, made of the material energy. O scion of Bharata, surrender unto Him utterly. By His grace you will attain transcendental peace and the supreme and eternal abode. And Cc., Ādi-līlā 5.142 states: ekale īśvara kṛṣṇa, āra saba bhṛtya yāre yaiche nācāya, se taiche kare nṛtya. Lord Kṛṣṇa alone is the supreme controller, and all others are His servants. They dance as He makes them do so. The īśvara has full control over the jīva, prakṛti, kāla and karma. The jīva has the power to choose whether to surrender to the īśvara or not. If he does surrender, he is freed from bondage within prakṛti, kāla and karma. If he does not, he is bound by them in the cycle of birth and death (saṁsāra). See Avatāra, Caitanya Mahāprabhu, Kṛṣṇa, Modes of nature, Supersoul, Tattva.


a historical account.