I'm mostly including very succinct definitions of Sanskrit words in this glossary. I am not an expert on any sect of Hinduism, and I cannot provide exhaustive explanations. This glossary is meant to give you a basic understanding of terms I reference in ExploreBhakti.com. I'll add more words as they come up in my writing. Please note that not all of the words will be from the Sanskrit language. Also note that Sanskrit and Hindi words may have multiple correct spellings. In my writing, I tend to use the most phonetic of the spelling options. Entries will appear in alphabetical order except when a term is introduced within the definition of another term. In those cases, I'll often bold the new word and define it parenthetically therein to avoid redundancies.
If you're wishing to study these or other vedic concepts deeper, Paramahamsa Sri NithyanandaSwamiji is the true authority on Hinduism and vedic studies. He can take you as far as you want to go with your seeking. Here's one of His main sites: Nithyananda Sangha's Official Site
Bhajans: Songs sang in praise to any deity; an integral part of my bhakti practice. It may be done ritualistically, but many bhaktas find it often happens spontaneously.
Bhakta: One who practices bhakti (devotion).
*Here's another source that gives a clear and concise perspective on bhakti.*
Bhakti (Yoga): The path of devotion. Religions are chosen or, more often, merely accepted out of fear or conformity if it's a part of one's culture. In contrast, bhakti chooses you. Religious people can be bhaktas even if they don't acknowledge the term. To me, it really just means that you genuinely love and seek to surrender fully to God at any cost.
Dhanyavaad: Thank you.
Ego: This is summed up in the article Enlightenment vs. Ego.
Enlightenment: (AKA Self-realization, awakening...) This is summed up in the article Enlightenment vs. Ego.
Guru: A trusted spiritual guide and master; one who imparts initiation.
Jnana (Yoga): (pronounced gya-nuh) The path of knowledge. Self-inquiry is often employed by followers of this path.
Kensho (also Satori): A glimpse of enlightenment or an awakening experience. Basically it's recognizing the ultimate truth of what we really are and are not, what the world is and is not, and what God is and is not. Though it is a great blessing, it's not considered complete Self realization, when such seeing is unbroken, undisturbed, permanent.
Mandir: A place of worship.
Mantra: A mantra, for me, is a powerful reminder of Truth consisting of a phrase or set of words that is short and easy for me to remember. Some ancient mantras, when spoken out loud, produce a systematic vibration said to heal and empower the one reciting them. I've found this to be true.
Namah: Hail; Reverent adoration to; I/we bow in obeisance to; as in Om Namah Shivaya
Nandi: happiness, bringer of joy; also: of Shiva. Read more about Nandi here.
Om/Aum: Universal, mystical sound visually represented by the symbol pictured to the left. (May be pictured above if you're on a mobile device.) It can mean: verily, so be it, or amen. It's often used as a word of solemn affirmation.
Sadhana: Spiritual practice.
Satchitananda: Existence-knowledge-bliss; the joy that rises out of pure awareness of existence; the bliss of being, aluded to here.
Satsang: Sat=Truth, sang=company; In the company of the highest truth, or association with the wise (those who live in Truth). It often manifests as "people coming together to discover the truth of who they are in reality. This is ordinarily done in the presence of one who has gone beyond all the limitations of understanding and the mind; [one who] has discovered that truth for themselves." I quoted Sri Moojiji (who facilitates satsang in such love) from this video: What are Satsangs?
Self-Inquiry/atma-vichara (or enquiry): Earnestly looking in order to know yourself beyond assumptions, past conditioning, and labels. For many, it is a path to enlightenment and immutable peace. I've heard it referred to as the pathless path. This is because it doesn't require you to believe in anything, attain any knowledge, develop any skill, learn any mantras, memorize scriptures, etc. Click here for a video exploring self-inquiry further.
Seva: Selfless service.