MAHATMA GANDHI MEDIA AND RESEARCH SERVICE

Thus Spake Gandhi

Select quotations by Mahatma Gandhi

Glossary

Advaita

Hindu philosophy of Monism or Non-dualism.

 

Agiari

Zoroastrian fire-temple.

 

Ahimsa

Non-violence; in its positive aspect-love for all living things.

 

Allah

Muslim name of God.

 

Amanitvam

Humility

 

Aparigraha

Non-possession

 

Ardhangini

Woman; the 'better half'.

 

Ashram

Abode of spiritual teacher;place for disciplined community living; stage of life.

 

Asoka

Indian monarch of 3rd century B.C. famed for his renunciation of empire and conquest and for his rock-edicts embodying Buddhist dharma.

 

Atishudra

One lower than the Shudra,the fourth caste at the bottom of Hindu social hierarchy; 'untouchable'.

 

Atman

Soul

 

Avatar

Literally, a 'descent'; incarnation of a deity, especially of Vishnu in the Hindu Trinity.

 

Bansi

Bamboo flute as of the divine cowherd, Sri Krishna.

 

Bardoli

Gujarat village, connected with the Civil Disobedience Movement.

 

Bhagwadgita

(see 'The Gita')

 

Bhakti

Devotion

 

Bhangi

Scavenger; sweeper

 

Bharat Mata

Mother India.

 

Bibhishan

Brother of Ravana, in the Ramayana,known for his wise counsel.

 

Bhogabhumi

Land of enjoyment

 

Brahma

Hindu name of God the Creator,one of the Trinity.

 

Brahmachari

A celibate; one who observes Brahmacharya.

 

Brahmacharya

Celibacy; code of conduct involving strict observance of chastity or continence in the pursuit of learning, philosophy and God. Complete control overt all senses.

 

Brahman, Brahmin

Member of the first of the four castes, whose chief duty is the study and teaching of the Vedas and the performance of sacrifices and other religious rituals.

 

Buddha

a. Founder of Buddhism, b. about 563, d. about 483 B.C; also known as Gautama, Siddhartha, Sakyamuni, etc.

 

Chaitanya

Bengali religious reformer of the 15th century A.D. who is worshiped by his followers as an incarnation of Sri Krishna.

 

Chakki

Grinding wheel or mill.

 

Chapati

Thin flat cakes made of flour; unleavened bread.

 

Charkha

Spinning-wheel.

 

Dandi March

March undertaken by Gandhiji from March 12 to April 5, 1930, from his Sabarmati Ashram to the coastal village of Dandi, about 100 miles distant, with a view to breaking the Salt Law by picking up natural salt from the sea-shore. His arrest at Dandi was followed by a countrywide movement of Civil Disobedience famous as the Salt Satyagraha.

 

Damayanti

Princess of Vidarbha and wife of Prince Nala of Naishadha, the constancy of whose devotion to each other forms the theme of a well-known episode in the Puranas.

 

Daridranarayana

God in the form of the poor and the destitute.

 

Dasharatha

King of Ayodhya, father of Rama, in the Ramayana.

 

Dayanand

Swami Dayanand Saraswati (1824-83), founder of the Arya Samaj.

 

Dharma

Religion; law of one's being; righteousness; Hindu code of religion and morals or religious and moral duty.

 

Dharmaja

One born from a sense of duty.

 

Dharmayuddha

War fought for a righteous end by righteous means and methods.

 

Dheds

A community in Gujarat traditionally treated as 'untouchable'.

 

Dhurna (Dharna)

'Sit-down' strike; an early and crude form of Satyagraha.

 

Dnyandev

boy poet-saint of Maharashtra of the 13th century A.D., author of Dnyaneshwari, a Marathi commentary on the Gita; also spellt as Dnyaneshwar or Jnaneshwar.

 

Draupadi

consort of the Pandava Princes, in the Mahabharata.

 

Dublas

A backward shudra community of Gujarat.

 

Duryodhana

Head of the Kaurava Princes, in the Mahabharata.

 

Dyer

British General who fired on an unarmed assembly in Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, on April 13, 1919, killing over 400 people.

 

Ganga

The sacred river Ganges of Northern India.

 

Ganja

Narcotic from the flower of Indian hemp.

 

Ghani

Village oil mill.

 

Gita, the

The 'Song Celestial'; a Hindu scriptural work in Sanskrit verse, composed some centuries before the Christian era, in which Sri Krishna sums up the essence of Hindu religion and philosophy.

 

Ghee

Clarified butter.

 

Gokhale

Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915), Indian politician, member of the Viceroy's Legislative Council and founder of the Servants of India Society, whom Gandhiji acknowledged as his political guru.

 

Goonda

A rowdy or hooligan.

 

Goondaism

Rowdyism

 

Gopal

Cowherd; a name of Sri Krishna.

 

Gur

Jaggery, indigenous form of sugar molasses.

 

Guru

Teacher; preceptor.

 

Goseva

Service of the cattle;cow-protection..

 

Gram Panchayat

Village tribune or 'council of five'.

 

Gramseva

Village service.

 

Gram sevak

Person employed in village service.

 

Hakim

Practitioner of indigenous form of medicine.

 

Hanuman

The 'Monkey-God' who serves Rama in the Ramayana.

 

Hartal

Strike, suspension of normal business.

 

Hooghli

Western most branch of the River Ganges on the banks of which Calcutta is situated.

 

Ishopanishad

One of the major Upanishads.

 

Jainism

Ancient Indian religion, one of the cardinal principles of which is non-violence.

 

Jains

Followers of Jainism.

 

Janak

Philosopher-king of Videha, foster-father of Sita, in the Ramayana.

 

Kabir

Poet-saint of northern India,who lived in the 15th century A.D. and who, in his devotional songs, dwelt on the essential oneness of the Godhead and the harmony between Hinduism and Islam.

 

Kamaja

One born of lust.

 

Karmabhumi

Land of duty.

 

Karmayogi

One who has devoted his life to action in the selfless service of others.

 

Khaddar, Khadi

Hand-spun and hand-woven cloth.

 

Kisan

Peasant.

 

Koran

Muslim scripture.

 

Krishna

Divine hero and central figure of the epic, Mahabharata, who is worshiped by the Hindus as the 8th incarnation of God.

 

Kshatriya

Member of the second (warrior) caste among Hindus.

 

Lila, leela

Divine play or sport; the creation is often explained by the Vaishnavas as the leela of God, a conception that introduces elements of spontaneity and freedom into the universe.

 

Lok Sevak Sangh

Society or association for the service of the people.

 

Mahabharata, the

Hindu epic having for its theme the story of the great war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas, princes of the Lunar race who were cousins, rival claimants to the throne of Hastinapur, (ancient Delhi).

 

Mahatma

Great Soul, title given to Gandhiji.

 

Mahavir

Vardhamana. 24th Tirthankar or Prophet of Jainism (b. about 540, d. about 468 B.C.) who is popularly regarded as its greatest promulgator, originally named

 

Mhayajna

The great sacrifice or ritual of propitiation.

 

Mantra, Mantram

Sacred or magical incantation.

 

Manushya

Man.

 

Maya

Illusion; in Hindu philosophy, Maya is the divine power which has created the cosmos.

 

Moksha

Liberation from earthly bondage.

 

Muni

Sage; ancient seer.

 

Nai Talim

Literally, 'new education',name given to basic or craft education.

 

Namaz

Form of Muslim prayer, worship.

 

Nanak

Fonder of Sikhism (b.1469-d.1538 or 1539 A.D.).

 

Nirvana

Salvation, Buddhist equivalent of ‘ Moksa’.

 

Pancha, Panchayat

The five ; the communal tribune or ‘council of five’.

 

Panchayat Raj

Rule of the Panchayat.

 

Pandavas

The five brothers, prices of the Lunar Race, who were the victor in the Maharashtra war.

 

Pinjrapoles

Institutions for looking after old and disabled cattle.

 

Poorna Swaraj

Full self-government or complete independence.

 

Prahlad

son of Hiranyakashipu, a mythological demon king; Prahlad’s worship of Vishnu led to persecution by his father who was ultimately slain by Narasimha, the ‘ Man-Lion’ avatar of Vishnu.

 

Pritam, Pritamdas

Gujarati poet of the 16th century A.D. who composed numerous devotional songs

 

Raj

Kingdom, rule, regime.

 

Rajachandra, Raychandbhai

Jain saint and philosopher, contemporary of Gandhiji, whom the latter acknowledged as his spiritual GURU. He died in 1900.

 

Ram, Rama

Hero of the epic, RAMAYANA,who is regarded by Hindus as an ideal man and king, and worshipped as the 7 thin carnation of God.

 

Ramakrishna

Bengali saint (1836-86 A.D.) who was the GURU of Swami Vivekananda and who taught the oneness of the Godhead and the basic harmony of all religions. The Ramakrishna Mission is named after him.

 

Ramayana

Literally, the name of Rama; recitation of God’s names.

 

Ramanuja

Vaishnava scholar of the 12th century, who propounded Dualistic philosophy.

 

Ramarajya

Hindu epic narrating the story of the abduction of Sita, wife of Rama, prince of Ayodhya, by Ravana, demon-king of Lanka (Ceylon), and her rescue after the conquest of Lanka by the armies led by Ramaand the death of Ravana at Rama’s hands.

 

Ramji Mandir

Rama’s temple.

 

Ravana

The demon-king of Lanka, whose abduction of Sita, led to his destruction at Rama’s hands, in the Ramayana.

 

Sadavrat

Charity

 

Sahadharmin

Wife

 

Samagra Gramseva

All-round village service.

 

Samskaras

Innate tendencies inherited from past life, religious customs.

 

Sanatanist

Faithful follower of ancient Vedic religion.

 

Sannyas

Abandonment of all worldly ties with a view to fixing the mind on the Supreme Being.

 

Sannyasi

One who has taken to Sannyas.

 

Sarvodaya

Welfare of all.

 

Satvika

Tending to truth.

 

Satya

Truth

 

Satyagraha

Recourse to truth-force or soul-force.

 

Satyagrahi

One who practises Satyagraha.

 

Savitri

Wife of Satyavan who according to legend, reclaimed his life from the God of Death.

 

Shankara

Hindu philosopher of the 8th century A.D. who was one of the foremost exponents of Non-dualism of the Vedanta school of philosophy.

 

Shastras

The Hindu scriptures.

 

Shloka

Metrical verse or composition.

 

Shudra

Member of the fourth or menial caste among Hindus.

 

Sita

Wife of Rama.

 

Smritis

The Codes, based on recollection of the Shastras.

 

Sthitaprajna

Literally, ‘one of steadfast mind’ ; a soul unaffected by extremes of joy and sorrow.

 

Sudama

The indigent boyhood friend and associate of Shri Krishna, whom the latter hours, in the Bhagavata.

 

Surdas

Blind Hindi poet of northern India who lived in the 16th century A.D.; his poetical work, Sursagar, narrating the story of Krishna, is immensely popular with Hindi-speaking Hindus.

 

Swadeshi

Belonging to or made in one’s own country.

 

Swargarohan Parva

The name of the last of the eighteen sections of the epic MAHABHARATA which describes how, when Yudhisthira, the eldest of the five Pandava brothers, retired to the Himalayas, towards the close of his life, and lost his wife and four brothers one after another, Indra appeared in his chariot to take him in the flesh to his (Indra’s) SWARGA, i.e, his heaven where mortals after death enjoy the results of their good deeds on earth.

 

Tadgud

Jaggery prepared from the juice of Palmyra fruit.

 

Tapascharya

Penance

 

Tilaks

Caste-marks on the forehead.

 

Tukaram

Poet-saint of Maharashtra who lived in the 17th century A. D. and who composed thousands of devotional songs.

 

Tulsidas

Hindi poet of northern India who lived in the 16th century A.D. and who composed, among other works, Ramacharitamanasa, (lit. The Holy Pool of the Life of Rama), retelling the epic story of the exploits of Rama. This work is held in the highest veneration by all Hindi-speaking Hindus.

 

Upanishads

Ancient Hindu philosophical treatises, appended to the Vedas and regarded as equally authoritative as the Vedas

 

Vaidas

Practitioner of Ayurveda system of indigenous medicine.

 

Vaishyas

Members of the third (cultivator and mercantile) class among Hindus.

 

Valmiki

First of Sanskrit poets and author of the Hindu epic, RAMAYANA.

 

Varna

Colour ; one of the four divisions of Hindu society (i.e., Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra) based on hereditary occupations.

 

Varnashrama

Four-fold division of Hindu society.

 

Vedanta

A system of philosophy springing from the Upanishads.

 

Vedas

Most ancient Hindu scriptures,composed of hymns to various deities. There are four collections of these hymns, known as Rigveda, Samaveda, Yajurveda and Atharvaveda.

 

Vidura

The low-born but ‘wise one’in the MAHABHARATA honoured by Sri Krishna.

 

Yajna

Ritual or religious sacrifice.

 

Yoga

Hindu system of contemplation for effecting union of the human soul with the Supreme Being.

 

Yogi

One who practices yoga.

 

Yudhishthira

Eldest of the Pandava Princes, celebrated for his right conduct.

 

Zamindar

Land holder

 

Zend Avesta

Zoroastrian scriptures

 

Zoroaster

Founder of religious system known as Zoroastrianism. He is also known as Zarathustra or Zerdusht. The Parsis of India, who are emigrants from Persia, are followers of this prophet.