Reader’s guide/glossary

SrImathE SatakOpAya nama:
SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama:
SrImath varavaramunayE nama:
SrI vAnAchala mahAmunayE nama:

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  • A is used for “aa” sound – example: emperumAnAr, rAmAnuja
  • E is used for “yay” sound – example: EkAdhasi
  • I  is used for “ee” sound – example: Iswara. “ee” is also used at times, when the word contains both “l” and “I” as in the case of lIlA – it will be written as leelA (to avoid confusion).
  • O is used for “Oh” sound – example: Om
  • U is used for “oo” sound – example: Urdhva pundram
  • zh is used for very strong “l” sound – example: AzhwAr
  • L is used for strong “l” sound – example: muL (thorn)
  • N is used for strong “n” sound – example: nArAyaNa
  • R is used for strong “r” sound – example: puRappAdu (procession); its also used for “tr” sound in thamizh when there is double “R” – example: uRRAr (utRAr – relative)
  • d is used strong “d” sound – example: garuda
  • dh is used for meek “d” sound – example: gOvindha
  • t is used for strong “t” sound – example: ganta
  • th is used for meek “t” sound – example: vratham
  • sa, sha, ksha are typed as it is – examples: samskritham, purushOththama and kshamA
  • Sa is used for strong “s” sound – examples SaraNAgathi, SAsthram, kESava
  • : is used for ha sound in samskritham words – examples: nama: to be said as namaha, hari: to be said as harihi

Basic Technical terms (SrIvaishNava paribhAshai):

  • AchArya, guru – spiritual master – generally relates to one who gives thirumanthra upadhEsam
  • sishya – disciple
  • dhivya prabhandham – AzhwArs pAsurams also known as aruLicheyal
  • dhivya dhampathi – Divine couple – SrIman nArAyaNan and SrI mahAlakshmi
  • dhivya dhEsam – kshEthrams of bhagavAn that is glorified by AzhwArs
  • dhivya sUkthi, SrI sUkthi – words of bhagavAn/AzhwArs/AchAryas
  • abhimAna sthalams – kshEthrams of bhagavAn which were dear to pUrvAchAryas
  • pAsuram – verse/SlOkam
  • padhigam – decad (a collection of 10 pAsurams)
  • paththu – centum (a collection of 100 pAsurams)
  • General terms – specific meanings (these are commonly used SrIvaishNava terms)
    • kOyil – SrIrangam
    • thirumalai – thiruvEnkatam, thirumAlirunchOlai is also said as thirumalai
    • perumAL kOyil – kAnchipuram
    • perumAL – SrI rAma
    • iLaya perumAL – lakshmaNa
    • periya perumAL – SrIranganAthan (mUlavar)
    • namperumAL – SrIranganAthan (uthsavar)
    • AzhwAr – nammAzhwAr
    • swAmy – SrI rAmAnuja
    • jIyar, periya jIyar – maNavALa mAmunigaL
  • svarUpam – true nature
  • rUpam – form
  • guNam – auspicious quality/attribute
    • parathvam – supremacy
    • saulabhyam – easy accessibility
    • sauseelyam – magnananimity
    • saundharyam – bodily beauty
    • vAthsalyam – motherly forbearance
    • mAdhuryam – sweetness
    • krupai, karuNai, dhayA, anukampA – mercy, grace, kindness
  • SAsthram – authentic scriptures which guide our actions – vEdham, vEdhAntham, pAncharAthram, ithihAsams, purANams, AzhwArs’ dhivya prabhandhams, AchAryas’ works – sthOthrams, vyAkyAnams.
  • karma – action. Also closely related to puNya (virtues) and pApa (vices/sins).
  • mOksham – liberation – to be freed from bondage
    • bhagavath kainkarya mOksham – being eternally engaged in kainkaryam in paramapadham after being freed from bondage
    • kaivalyam – enjoying the self eternally after being freed from bondage
  • karma yOgam, gyAna yOgam, bhakthi yOgam – ways through which one can reach bhagavAn
  • prapaththi, SaraNAgathi – total surrender – accepting bhagavAn as the only way to achieve him. prapannas that have taken refuge at an AchArya’s lotus feet are called AchArya nishtars.
  • AchArya nishtai – being totally surrendered to AchArya
  • AchArya abimAnam – being cared affectionately by the AchArya
  • pancha samskAram (samAsrayaNam) – purificatory process to prepare a person to be engaged in kainkaryam (both in this samsram and paramapadham)- includes following five aspects
    • thApa (heat) – Sanka chakra lAnchanam – heated impression of Sanka and chakra on our shoulders. This identifies that we are property of emperumAn – just like a vessel is marked with the symbols of the owner, we are marked with the symbols of emperumAn.
    • puNdra (symbol) – dvAdhASa Urdhva puNdra dhAraNam – wearing of Urdhva puNdram (thirumaN and SrIchUrNam) in twelve parts of the body.
    • nAma (name) – dhAsya nAmam – a new name given by the AchArya (rAmAnuja dhAsan, madhurakavi dhAsan, SrIvaishNava dhAsan).
    • manthra – manthrOpadhESam – learning the secret manthra from the AchAryan; manthram means that which relieves the chanter from grief – thirumanthram, dhvayam and charamaslokam which releases us from samsAra. Please see for more details.
    • yAga – dhEva pUjA – learning the thiruvArAdhanam process
  • kainkaryam – service to bhagavAn, AzhwArs, AchAryas, bhAgavathas
  • thiruvArAdhanam – worship of emperumAn (pUja)
  • thiruvuLLam – divine heart/desire
  • SEshi – master
  • SEsha – servant
  • SEshathvam – being ready to serve emperumAn anytime (like lakshmaNa who was always willing to serve SrI rAma)
  • pArathanthriyam – being at the total disposal of emperumAn (like bharathAzhwAn who obeyed SrI rAma at all times and even accepted to stay in separation from SrI rAma) and his devotees.
  • svAthanthriyam – being independent
  • purushakAram – recommendation/pacifying – SrI mahAlakshmi is considered as the one who recommends to emperumAn that jIvAthmAs are accepted even if they are not qualified. AchAryas are considered as pirAtti’s (SrI mahAlakshmi) representative in this world. The person who performs purushakAram mainly requires 3 qualities
    • krupai – mercy on the suffering jIvAthmAs
    • pArathanthriyam – total dependence on bhagavAn
    • ananyArhathvam – completely being at bhagavAn’s disposal
  • anya SEshathvam – to be serving anyone other than bhagavAn and bhAgavathas
  • vishayAntharam – worldly pleasures – i.e., anything other than kainkaryam
  • dhEvathAntharam – True dhEva is SrIman nArAyaNan. Any Other jIvAthmA who may be confused to be dhEva is dhEvathAntharam (there are many jIvAthmAs who are appointed by bhagavAn for the smooth functioning of this material world. They are also bound in this world by karma).
  • svagatha svIkAram – us accepting bhagavAn/AchArya (tinge of I – ahankAram)
  • paragatha svIkAram – bhagavAn/AchArya accepting us out of his own desire without being asked/compelled
  • nirhEthuka krupA – causeless mercy – constant mercy of bhagavAn that is not instigated by jIvAthmA
  • sahEthuka krupA – jIvAthmA’s self-efforts instigating emperumAn’s mercy
  • nithya – nithya sUri(s) who serve emperumAn in paramapadham (and wherever else he is) – nithya is always pure and have been eternally free.
  • muktha – one who was bound in this material world but eventually reached paramapadham and thus became pure and servitor of bhagavAn
  • badhdha – one who is bound in this material world currently. Also known as samsAri.
  • mumukshu – one who desires mOksham
  • prapanna – one who is surrendered to emperumAn – similar to mumukshu
    • Artha prapanna – one who wants to be relieved from the sorrows of material world at once
    • dhruptha prapanna – one who is surrendered but can serve bhagavAn and bhAgavathas in this material world for some time and eventually wanting to serve in paramapadham
  • thIrtham – holy water
  • SrIpAdha thIrtham – charaNAmrutham – water that was used to wash the lotus feet of AchAryas
  • bhOgam – food (or anything) that is ready to be offered to bhagavAn
  • prasAdham – food (or anything) that is offered to bhagavAn and that can be subsequently consumed by SrIvaishNavas
  • uchchishtam – another term for prasAdham (also means food remnants), at times it could just mean contaminated (food touched by the lips of others) – depends on the context
  • padi – a term used for bhOgam
  • sAththuppadi – sandalwood paste
  • SatAri, SrI SatakOpam, etc – lotus feet of SrIman nArAyaNa. nammAzhwAr is called SrI satakOpam since he is considered to be the lotus feet of emperumAn.
  • madhurakavigaL – lotus feet of nammAzhwAr
  • SrI rAmAnujam – lotus feet of nammAzhwAr at AzhwAr thirunagari
  • SrI rAmAnujam – lotus feet of all AzhwArs
  • mudhaliyANdAn – lotus feet of SrI rAmAnuja
  • ponnadiyAm senkamalam – lotus feet of mAmunigaL
  • Usually confident sishya is considered to be lotus feet. For example, parAsara bhattar is the lotus feet of embAr, nanjIyar is the lotus feet of bhattar, nampiLLai is the lotus feet of nanjIyar, etc.
  • vibhUthi – wealth/opulence
  • nithya vibhUthi (paramapadham/SrIvaikuntam – spiritual world)
  • leelA vibhUthi (samsAram – material world where we live currently)
  • adiyEn, dhAsan – addressing oneself in a humble way (replacement for I) – humble self
  • dhEvarIr, dhEvar, SrImAn – addressing another SrIvaishNava – your grace
  • ezhundharaLuthal – coming, sitting
  • kaN vaLaruthal – sleeping
  • nIrAttam – bathing
  • sayanam – lying down
  • SrIpAdham – carrying bhagavAn/AzhwAr/AchAryas in a palanquin
  • thiruvadi – lotus feet (can also mean hanumAn)
  • vyAkyAnam – commentary
  • upanyAsam – lecture
  • kAlakshEpam – lecture with line by line reading of source text and giving explanation based on the original text
  • ashta dhik gajas – 8 AchAryas established by maNavALa mAmunigaL to initiate disciples into SrIvaishNava sampradhAyam and to propagate the sath sampradhAyam far and wide
  • 74 simhAsanAdhipathis – 74 AchAryas established by SrI rAmAnuja to initiate disciples into SrIvaishNava sampradhAyam and to propagate the sath sampradhAyam far and wide

Philosophy related terms

  • visishtAdhvaitham – philosophy which explains one supreme brahmam (bhagavAn) with chith (sentients) and achith (insentients) as his body/attributes
  • sidhAntham – our principle
  • mithunam – couple – perumAL and pirAtti
  • EkAyanam – Accepting supremacy of nArAyaNa without giving due importance to his Sriya:pathithvam (that he is the master of SrI mahAlakshmi)
  • mAyAvAdham – philosophy which explains singular brahmam with everything else observable as illusion
  • Asthika – One who accepts SAsthram (see above for definition) as pramANam
  • nAsthika – One who rejects SAsthram
  • bAhya – One who rejects SAsthram
  • kudhrushti – One who accepts SAsthram but misinterprets that to his convenience
  • Aptha – trustworthy source
  • pramA – valid knowledge
  • pramEyam – object of valid knowledge
  • pramAthA – deliverer of valid knowledge
  • pramANam – means to acquire valid knowledge
    • prathyaksham – senses (ears, eyes, etc) which help direct observation
    • anumAnam – knowledge derived based on previous observations
    • Sabdham – Words of SAsthram/trustworthy source
  • rahasya thrayam – three confidential manthrams/matters – instructed by AchArya during pancha samskAram. Please see for more details.
    • thirumanthram – ashtAkshara mahA manthram
    • dhvayam – dhvaya mahA manthram
    • charama slOkam – Generally refers to sarva dharmAn parithyajya gIthA slOkam. There is also rAma charama slOkam (sakrudhEva prapannAya) and varAha charama slOkam (sthithE manasi).
  • artha panchakam – five essential principles- instructed by AchArya during pancha samskAram. Please see for more details.
    • jIvAthmA – sentient beings
    • paramAthmA – bhagavAn
    • upEyam, prApyam – goal to achieve – kainkaryam
    • upAyam – means/way to achieve the goal
    • virOdhi – hurdles in achieving the goal
  • AkAra thrayam – the three essential positions/qualities every jIvAthmA should have
    • ananya SEshathvam – Accepting bhagavAn as the only master
    • ananya SaraNathvam – Accepting bhagavAn as the only refuge
    • ananya bhOgyathvam – While normally its explained as “enjoying bhagavAn only”, the top-most principle is “Accepting bhagavAn as the only enjoyer” i.e., “being enjoyed by bhagavAn only”


  • sAmAnAdhikaraNyam – sAmAnAdhikaraNyam means more than one aspect/attribute having one common substratum. It also means two or more words focussed on explaining a single entity. A simple example is mrudh gatam (clay pot). This talks about gatam (pot) being the substratum and having two attributes – being made of mrudh (soil/clay) and gatathvam (being a pot). Another example is “Sukla: pata:” (white cloth). This talks about patam (cloth) being the substratum and having two attributes – Sukla (white color) and patathvam (being a cloth). Similarly, brahmam/bhagavAn being the substratum of all entities is explained through this principle of sAmAnAdhikaraNyam. This is a separate and detailed subject which can be learned from scholars who are well versed in samskrutha vyAkaraNam and vEdhAntham.
  • vaiyadhikaraNyam  – vaiyadhikaraNyam means two or more aspects having different substratum. For example, a chair may be held by the earth and a flower pot may be held by a table. It also means two or more words that are focussed on explaining different entities.
  • samashti Srushti – bhagavAn performs creation upto pancha bhUthams (five elements) and appoints a jIvAthmA as brahmA. Upto this stage, it is called samashti srushti.
  • vyashti Srushti – bhagavAn empowers brahmA, rishis, etc., (by being the antharyAmi) to create variegated forms of entities. This stage is called vyashti srushti.
  • vyashti samhAram – bhagavAn empowers rudhran (Siva), agni, etc., (by being the antharyAmi) to annihilate the material existence.
  • samashti samhAram – bhagavAn consuming the five elements and the remaining entities himself.

More can be found at:

adiyen sarathy ramanuja dasan

31 thoughts on “Reader’s guide/glossary”

  1. Swami, crisp, clear, commendable post! If a table containing the lotus feet of all Azhwar, Acharyas is published it would be great. Some of them can be surprising – for example, i heard it is Sri Kanikannan for Thirumazhisaippiraan

  2. Srimathe ramanujaya nama:
    The website u have mentioned is not opening. Kindly do the needful.
    This is the website that is not opening-

    • While the term is quite frequently used in SrIvaishNava literature by pUrvAchAras, it is not literally applicable from the perspective of an AthmA. This is because anyone can become a target of bhagavAn’s mercy and can be uplifted. While samsAram is eternal and there will always be innumerable AthmAs in this samsAram in a bound state, every AthmA stands a chance to be liberated.
      adiyen ramanuja dasan

      • kshipAmi (gIthA), nakshamAmi vasundharE (purANam) are often quoted to say that bhagavAn may condemn those who engage in horrible apachArams to eternal suffering in samsAram; they are highlighted in context of showing his dislike towards such abominable acts. But same bhagavAn may also grant his mercy upon such souls if he feels so, since he is totally independent.
        adiyen ramanuja dasan

  3. Thank you, Swami Ji, for replying.
    Swamiji, I asked the same question to Swami vellukudi Krishnan and Swami Chinna jeeyar Swami, their replies were the following:
    1) ’There is no question of one remaining as ‘nithya samsa:ri’. From the time immemorial, these souls are here in this li:la: vibhuthi. We are all like that only. hence, we are called Nithya-samsa:ris. For our connection with this karma, there is no beginning. hence, it is called ‘ana:di’. But, there is ending, so, our karmic connection is ‘sa:ntham’, there will be ending. That ending happens when the divine grace of Lord falls on these souls, then, the karmic bondage will be broken and samsa:ra will be ended.’ – Chinna jeeyar swami
    2) ’No. Any atman has to reach Sri Vaikuntha on some day.
    But the reference as Nitya samsari is in the context of – this atman has been taking countless birth from anadi kaala and that makes Acharyas scared that he may forever remain in samsara’- Vellukudi Krishnan swami

    Swami, as you can see both are denying that God can condemn anyone to eternal suffering in samsAra.They opine God cannot condemn anyone to be Nithya samsAri.
    Swami, is this opinion correct?

  4. Very nice & informative. Wanted transliteration list for Sanskrit letters to English . If possible pls post. Dhayosmi🙇


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