Temple, a building devoted to religious worship.
The six permanent abodes of Lord Muruga. These are 6 temples – Thiruparankundram, Thiruchendur, Pazhani, Swamimalai, Pazhamudhir Cholai and Thiruttani.
Seat, Posture, seated position
Ablution of a Deity. A holy ritual bath given to the Deity with oil, milk, scented powder, honey, rose water, ghee, sandal paste, a mixture of sweetened fruits, sugar-cane juice etc.
A spiritual teacher, guide
Bull mount of Lord Shiva, installed facing the main deity
A sage and the author of several hymns in the Rig Veda. He holds a very important position in Ramayana. From his hermitage in a beautiful location in the Vidhya Mountain range he commanded the the other sages of the South and his might and power held all the Asuras at bay. Rama, Sita and Lakshmana are believed to have visited his hermitage and he is said to have accompanied them on the way back for Rama’s Coronation. Agastya holds a special place in Tamil Literature where he is venerated as the first teacher of science and literature to the primitive Dravidian Tribes.
Codes of Worship
Fire, name of the God of Fire. Agni is one of the most ancient and sacred elements in Hindu worship. Agni is seen as Sun, Lightning and the ordinary fire on earth.
Ahalya is considered the first woman created by Brahma. She was immensely beautiful and was given to Sage Gautama as wife. She was seduced by Indra who had to go undergo suffering because of this. Ahalya was cursed by Sage Gautama to lose her beauty and she was later restored to her original form and position by Lord Rama.
The white elephant mount of Lord Indra. Airavata was produced while the ocean was being churned and taken by Indra. The word means ‘Product of Water’.
A temple where the deity is without any structure but under a large Banyan or similar tree falls under this category.
One of the four branches of the river Ganga
Alankara. Decoration of a deity, a holy place or other places during festivities.
The process of determining who and how a temple is to be developed and built following the Vastu and Shilpa Shastras.
The heavenly capital of Lord Indra. City of the Gods.
Amruta, Amirtham. The water of immortality, Soma juice, a derivative of the churning of the oceans. The Soma creeper is considered to be Sarcostemma acidum
Amsam – A part. Merging with the supreme.
Anandam. Bliss, happiness
Wife of Sage Atri and mother of Sage Durvasa.
Hanuman, the much celebrated Monkey King, son of Vayu (god of wind), devotee and loyal aide of Lord Rama. He occupies a big role in Ramayana, strong, could fly and perform unimaginable tasks with ease
The realm between heaven and earth. The space of Gandharvas, Apsaras and Yakshas
The portion between the Grabgriham and Mantapa that leads inside the Grabgriham. The neck portion.
The nymphs of Indra’s Heaven.
A light made by burning camphor on a plate or holder and shown in front or the deity in a circular clockwise motion. The Arati is also performed with oil lamps these days.
Half male, half female. Lord Shiva is seen in this form representing the merger of the powers of male and female.
Deities in temples which have been installed and worshiped by Great Rishis (Sages).
Meaning, Materialistic Attainments
Useful arts, mechanical science
Wife of Sage Vasishta. The Morning Star
Seat, posture, seat of a holy person or seat used for meditation.
The demons and enemies of the gods.
Horse sacrifice. Performed by kings desirous of offspring. Also performed as a process of annexing kingdoms whereby the horse is let loose and fights, submissions and take-overs happen wherever it enters. The horse would be sacrificed either physically or figuratively after the successful completion of the ritual.
The Holy Peepal tree (Ficus relegiosa)
Deity installed and worshiped by an Asura.
Incarnation. In religious terms, of a Deity.
Veda of life, Science of life, natural cures and methodologies
A great saint of Vaishnavism. There are 12 of them – Nammazhwar, Thirumangai Azhwar, Periyazhwar, Andal, Poigai Azhwar, Boodhathazhwar, Paeiazhwar, Kulasekara Azhwar, Thirumazhisai Azhwar, Thondaradi Podi Azhwar, Thiruppaanazhwar, Madurakavi Azhwar. Their Hymns of praise are called the Mangalasasanam. The Vaishnavite temples/deities sung upon by them are the temples of Mangalasasanam and collectively called the 108 Divya Desam Temples.
Generally refers to a child. in our context eg: Balaganesha, Balamuruga etc
The 7th and one of the 10 Avatars of Lord Vishnu. He is also the elder brother of Lord Krishna
The pedestal where offerings and sacrifices are to be made.
Codes prescribing the performance of sacrifices and rituals preceding the development of a temple or settlement
Song of the Divine One. Spoken in poetical form by Lord Krishna to Arjuna in the great war of Mahabaratha expounding philosophical doctrines. The Gita has been translated into almost all the languages of the World
Name of Mother Goddess
8 inferior forms or manifestations of Lord Shiva. the number of names and variants can be more. Bhairava is depicted with a Dog as his Vahana.
Son of Brahaspati and father of Drona. Many Vedic Hymns are attributed to him. He comes in both the epics, Mahabaratha and Ramayana
Son of Dasaratha and Kaikeyi. Half brother of Lord Rama
Another name of Goddess Saraswathi
The second of the Five Pandava Princes and endowed with great strength. Son of Vayu, the Wind God
The regent of Hastinapura, son of King Santanu and Goddess of Ganga. He is a crucial character in Mahabaratha
The methods of determining the land area suitable for establishing a temple and or human settlement
A Vedic Sage and one of the Prajapati’s, the great Rishis
Bhootha – Demon, Ghost, Imp, Goblin
Soil testing to determine the suitability of a location.
The process of getting a site/land ready for the development of the temple or building.
Demarcation of the plan of the settlement and temple.
God of Creation and one of the Holy Trinity of Hinduism
The Supreme Being, the all pervading spirit.
Rishis of the Brahmin caste who were the founders of Gothras of the Brahmins
Atharvana or fourth Veda. The Veda of prayers and charms
In Rig Veda it refers to the priest or the intermediate between god and men. Brahaspati is also the name of a Rishi who was the son of Rishi Angiras
The founder of Budhism and also considered as the ninth Avatar of Vishnu by some
Sudarsana Chakra. The Disc weapon that belongs to Lord Vishnu. It is normally seen in his right hand fore finger.
Emperor, one who rules over a large area, a large circle – Chakra
Dynasty that ruled large parts of southern and central India between the 6th and the 12th centuries CE.
One of the 63 Nayanmars
The Conch that is held on the left land of Lord Vishnu.
An emanation of the goddess Durga sent forth from her forehead to encounter the demons Chanda and Munda
Moon, The moon god
The ruler of the area that covered present day Kerala and parts of Tamilnadu between c.3rd Century BC and 12th Century CE.
The Chola Dynasty was in power between c.3rd Century BC and 13th Century CE. Their early capitals were Poompuhar, Urayur, Tiruvarur and medival capital were Pazhaiyaarai, Thanjavur and Gangaikonda Cholapuram. At different points of time their rule extended to India, Sri lanka, Maldives, Malaysia and Indonesia. They built many grand temples and converted many to stone structures too.
A scribe and recorder in the abode of Yama, the god of death
The references to him are conflicting and many. He is considered as one borne out of the right thumb of Brahma. He is said according to different versions to have had about 60 daughters through Prasuti. They were given in marriage to various gods including 27 to the Moon God who in turn became the 27 stars. One of his daughters Sati was given in marriage to Lord Shiva
Titans, the race of gigantic demons who constantly warred with Gods and interfered in the Holy Sacrifices
The forests between the rivers Godavari and Narmada
A name of Lord Krishna, because he was tied with a rope (dhama) around his belly (udhara) by his foster mother
A prince of the Solar Race, King of Ayodhya, Son of Aja, a descendant of Ishwaku and father of Lord Rama
Becoming visible, appearance of a holy being.
Son of Sage Atri and Anusuya. A portion each of the Holy Trinity of Hinduism were incarnate in this form
A deity in a temple installed and worshiped by the Gods.
God, also refers to the celestial beings
A town which is established around a major temple
Wife of Vasudeva and mother of Lord Krishna
The World of Gods
Sages of the Celestial Class such as Sage Narada
God, refers generally to all the inferior gods
Daughter of Sage Shukra
Goddess, Great Goddess and wife of Lord Shiva
Science of Archery, Military Art
The physician of the Gods, produced during the churning of the oceans
An ancient Sage who married 13 of Daksha’s daughters. His numerous progeny were personifications of intelligence, virtuosity and religiously incline, were married to the authors of Hindu religious codes and morals – the origin of the word Dharma
Son of Dharma, refers to Yudhistra, the eldest of the 5 Pandava Princes
A name of Lord Shiva, a naked mendicant
Determining the cardinal directions which each shrine, deity or building should face based Agamas and Vastu Shastra.
Wife of Lord Shiva
Dronacharya, the supreme teacher of the Kaurava and Pandava Princes of Mahabaratha. Drona means a bucket – a reference to his father, Sage Bharadwaja, creating him in a bucket
The country where originally the Tamil language was spoken. All of present day Tamilnadu.
Daughter of Draupada, King of Panchala and wife of the five Pandava Princes of the Epic Mahabaratha
The eldest of the 100 Kaurava Princes and the chief villain in Mahabaratha
The post in front of the temple where a main lamp is lit
One of the 7 sacred cities, the capital city of Lord Krishna. Situated in present day Gujarat. The city is believed to have been submerged by the sea after Krishna’s death
Sanctum Sanctorum with the shape and look of a seated elephant.
Ganesha, Elephant headed son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. He is considered the remover of obstacles and always invoked before anything is started. His standalone small temples are the most seen in Tamilnadu, literally anywhere and everywhere. He is the most favorite God of India
Worship of Lord Ganesha
Dwellers of the sky. One of their duties was to prepare the Soma juice. They were fond of women. they are also considered as the ones who were singers and musicians who attended the banquets of the Gods
Sanctum Sanctorum where the main deity is installed in a temple
Mountain born, a name of Lord Shiva’s wife
A sacred verse of the Rig Veda, the duty of every Brahmin to chant it morning and evening. Also the name of Brahma’s wife Savitri, the mother of the 4 Vedas
Another name of Goddess Durga
Lord of Gautama, one of the names of the 12 important Shiva Lingam
A great sage whose wife Ahalya was seduced by Lord Indra and cursed by him in Hindu mythology. Gotama, Gautama is the founder of Nyaya School of Philosophy and author of Dharma Shastra or Law Book
The name of Lord Shiva’s wife, meaning yellow or brilliant
The mount of Lord Vishnu. It is depicted as half man and half eagle and found installed in all Vishnu Temples facing the Lord.
Ganges, the most sacred river in the World which originates in the icy Himalayas and meets the Bay of Bengal traversing 2525 Kilometers. Mythically, the river Ganges is said to have originated from the head locks of Lord Shiva in Mount Kailash
Pastoral lands adjoining the Yamuna where Lord Krishna spent his childhood
Bhagavad Gita – Song of the Divine One. Spoken in poetical form by Lord Krishna to Arjuna in the great war of Mahabaratha expounding philosophical doctrines. The Gita has been translated into almost all the languages of the World
Full and firm realization of truth
The multi-tiered entrance gateway to a temple. There could be more than one in larger temples and ranges from 1- 13 stories or tiers.
Temples built with the wood from Gnazhar trees (large shade giving trees) and or built under the shade of the Gnazhar tree fall under this category
Gopika. The cowherd damsels with whom Lord Krishna played and spent his youthful days. The nude Gopis looking up at Krishna on a tree top with their clothes is a standard depiction in many Vaishnavite Temple Gopurams and Vimaanas.
Cow keeper, a name of Lord Krishna as he spent his days of youth as a cowherd in Brindavan
Eclipse, the power that creates eclipses
Cow Keeper, a name of Lord Krishna
A mountain in Vrindavan which was worshiped on Lord Krishna’s behest by the local cowherds. Krishna lifted up this mountain on his little finger to protect them against a deluge created out of anger by Lord Indra
A name of the God of War
Anjaneya, the much celebrated Monkey King, son of Vayu (god of wind), devotee and loyal aide of Lord Rama. He occupies a big role in Ramayana, strong, could fly and perform unimaginable tasks with ease
A name of Lord Shiva
The combined reference and form of Shiva and Vishnu
The Gate of Hari, the place where the Ganges breaks out of the mountains. One of the holy places of pilgrimage in India
A name of Lord Vishnu
Horse necked. Two versions are heard. One is the Avatar of Lord Vishnu which he took to retrieve the Vedas stolen by two Daityas. The other one is of a horse headed Asura who stole the Vedas from the mouth of a sleeping Lord Brahma, subsequently killed by Lord Vishnu and retrieved
The capital city in Mahabaratha for which the great war was fought. The ruins are said to be traceable to a spot near Delhi where the Ganga flowed in ancient times
Hindus (plural). People who regard themselves as culturally, ethnically, or religiously adhering to aspects of Hinduism.
Way of life. Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world. It is also called as Sanatana Dharma, “the eternal tradition” or the “eternal way”.
Fire ritual for the worship of Agni, the god of fire.
The Hoysala empire ruled most of the what is now Karnataka between the 10th and the 14th centuries CE. Their skills in temple building exhibit an amazing display of sculptural finesse and excellence.
Pit in which the fire worship is performed.
A name of Krishna, Vishnu
A temple with the deity under a Mantapa with all four sides open is an Ilang Kovil. Some place the temporary arrangements made for deities during the renovation or expansion of a temple also in this category.
The King of the Devas. God of the Atmosphere. He is ranked first in the Vedas.
Capital of the Pandu princes of Mahabaratha, supposedly near Delhi. The name is still used for a part of Delhi.
Eeshwara, name of Lord Shiva
Eesan, Isan – a name of Lord Shiva or Rudra.
Mother of the World. A name of Lord Shiva’s Wife, Parvati.
Lord of the World. A name of Lord Vishnu.
Father of Parashurama, an Avatar of Lord Vishnu.
King of Mithila, father of Sita and father in law of Lord Rama.
Adored by Mankind. A name of Lord Krishna.
Old age. The name is attached to the hunter who killed Lord Krishna unwittingly.
A vedic epithet of Fire.
The king of Vultures. The bird killed in a fight by Ravana while kidnapping Sita. Jatayu attained salvation in the lap of Lord Rama.
Son of Indra
Daughter of Indra
A name of Arjuna
“Radiant Lingam. The Jyotirlingam temples are the ones where Lord Shiva is belived to have appeared as a pillar of Fire or light. The twelve
Jyothirlingam temples are:
Mallikarjuna – Srisailam, Andhra Pradesh
Mahakaleswar – Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh
Omkareshwar – Madhya Pradesh
Kedarnath – Uttrakhand
Bhimashankar – Pune, Maharashtra
Vishwanath Temple – Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Tryambakeshwar – Nashik, Maharashtra
Baidyanath Temple – Deoghar District, Jharkhand
Aundha Nagnath – Hingoli, Maharashtra
Rameshwara – Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu”
One of the three wives of King Dasaratha, father of Lord Rama. She enforced the boon granted by Dasaratha to exile Rama with the thought of crowning her son Baratha as the King.
Kailasa, the heavenly abode of Lord Shiva. A mountain in the Himalayas north of Lake Manasarovar. Thousands undertake the holy journey to this mountain every year.
Time. Also a name of Yama, the god/judge of death.
Kali, Black, Kalika, a name of Goddess Kali, consort of Lord Shiva. The Kalika Purana is the series of writings dedicated to the recommendations of the Worship of Kaali.
Kali, Kaliyuga, the period of evil. The present period as per the Hindu Yugas (periods).
A great poet and dramatist. His period is debated between about 55 BC and about 5th Century CE.
The eastern coastal region between the Mahanadi and the Godavari rivers sometimes extending more. It occupied parts of present day Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. Its period is estimated from as early as 3rd Century BC. The region has been occupied and ruled by different rulers from time to time.
The 5 headed Serpent King who lived in a deep pool in Yamuna and exuded fire and poisonous smoke from his mouth. Lord Krishna overcame the serpent, dancing on its head and made him and his followers repair to the sea. The episode is called Kaliyamardhana.
A white horse and its rider, the 10th Avatar of Lord Vishnu which is yet to appear in the world.
The Kakatiya dynasty had its capital at Orugallu, now known as Warangal and ruled between 1163 and 1323 CE.
Kamadeva, the God of Love.
The sacred cow which sanctions all desires and is a perennial provider. She is supposed to be a product of the churning of the ocean in search of Amrut by the Devas and Asuras.
A form of Devi, Lord Shiva’s wife. The presiding deity of the famous Kamakshi temple in Kancheepuram
One of the 7 sacred cities of India and the capital of the ancient Pallava Kings.
Temples designed based on Chariots
Skanda, Muruga. God of war, son of Lord Shiva. He is particularly fondly worshiped in Tamilnadu. His temples are many and the most important are the 6 Aarupdaiveedu temples.
Maternal uncle of Lord Krishna, a tyrant king who imprisons Krishna’s parents. Subsequently killed by Krishna.
The holy city, Benares or Varanasi.
A name of Goddess Durga.
Worship of Skanda
The Mace of Lord Krishna presented by Agni, the god of fire.
The 100 sons of King Drisdrashtra and cousins of the Pandavas in the Mahabaratha Epic.
Of bountiful hair, a name of Lord Krishna.
The descending node or tail, considered the ninth planet in Hindu Astronomy.
The Kingdom of the monkey King Vali killed by Lord Rama and given to his brother Sugriva. The place is considered to be near today’s Mysore city in Karnataka.
Temples which are surrounded by Jasmine (or similar fragrant flowering) creepers are said to fall under this category.
The country with Ayodhya as its capital and the epicenter of the Ramayana.
Kothavi, a naked woman. The name is also applied to Goddess Durga.
Tamil word for Temple
Black. Krishna is the 8th Avatar of Lord Vishnu and a celebrated hero and god of India. He plays a prominent role in the Mahabaratha.
The first age of the World. a period considered to be about 1,750,000 years ago.
The 2nd Avatar of Lord Vishnu where he takes the form of a Tortoise to support Mount Mandara which was used for churning the ocean for Amrut.
The battlefield where the Pandavas vanquished the Kauravas in the Mahabaratha. The place is considered to be the plains near Delhi.
Kubera, the God of Wealth.
One of the twin sons of Lord Rama and Sita. The other is Lava.
Half brother of Lord Rama and son of King Dasaratha through his wife Sumitra.
Goddess of good fortune and prosperity. Wife of Lord Vishnu. She has many other forms and names including 8 which form the Ashtalakshmi concept.
One of the twin sons of Lord Rama and Sita. The other is Kusa.
Linga, Shivalinga, the form in which Lord Shiva is worshiped. Its consists of a bottom (representing Lord Brahma), flat base middle portion (Aavudayar, representing Lord Vishnu), a cylindrical upper portion representing Lord Shiva himself.
Wife of Sage Agastya. He secretly created her from the most beautiful of creatures, placed her as the daughter of the King of Vidarbha and secured her hand.
Temple built on an elevated platform
The Great God, a name of Lord Shiva.
The Great Goddess, a name of Parvati, Lord Shiva’s wife.
A great or supreme male, also a name of Lord Vishnu.
The Great Puranas, epics.
Total destruction of the Universe.
The 6 great poems – Raghuvansa, Kumarasambhava, Meghaduta, Kiratarjuniya, Sisuphalavadha, Naishada Charitra
Great Time. A name of Lord Shiva.
A name of Lord Shiva. Also one of the 12 Jyotirlingams.
A demon killed by Lord Skanda. Also a demon killed by Goddess Durga.
A name of Lord Shiva.
A name of Lord Indra
Book describing the stories of Gods.
A great ascetic, also a name of Lord Shiva.
The legend or greatness of a Holy Place.
The great Rishis or Saints.
The mountain used by the gods to churn the ocean in their quest for Amrut.
The arm of the Ganges river that flows through Kedarnath.
The holy lake Manasa in the Himalayas near Mount Kailash.
A temple with the roof (Vimaanam) built in the shape of a temple bell.
Deity installed for worship by Kings, Philanthropists or Devotees.
Rendering of Hymns in praise of Lord Vishnu by the Azhwars
A Purana containing 9000 verses narrating everything that is right and wrong.
A great sage renowned for his austerities and great age. He is the author of Markandeya Puranam.
The Man – refers to the mythological progenitors of mankind.
A name of Kama, God of Love.
Sacred words imbued with power
Name of a mountain from which the Narmada River is said to rise.
The first Avatar of Lord Vishnu as a Fish to conduct the Ark during a natural destruction of the world.
One of the 7 Holy cities, Mathura is located on the banks of River Yamuna and was the birthplace of Lord Krishna.
Thirunavukkarasar, Thirugnanasambandar and Sundarar, the three great saivite saints. The temples/deities where they have rendered devotional Hymns are 275 and these are called ‘Paadal Petra Sthalams”
Liberation, final emancipation of the soul from the cycle of births and deaths.
Liberation from mortal life.
A reference to Lord Krishna. Foe of Demon Mura.
Main deity in a temple. There are different styles of Murtis – Saumya Murti (graceful with serene facial expressions), Bhoga Murti (seated or standing embracing consorts), Yoga Murti (seated meditative posture), Ugra Murti (ferocious expressions and angry postures).
Country of King Janaka, Sita’s father, corresponding to today’s Tirhut and Puraniya in Bihar.
A mountain in the center of Earth on which is the abode of Lord Indra.
A beautiful celestial nymph sent to seduce Sage Viswamitra.
Snake, Cobra, Mythical cobra with a human head, multiheaded.
Food offering to God
The bull mount of Lord Shiva.
Nether World of the Snakes.
City. Refers to the 7 holy cities that are believed to provide eternal happiness – Ayodhya, Mathura, Gaya, Kasi, Kanchi, Avanti, Dwaraka
The original eternal Man
One of the 7 great Rishis. Also the author of Narada Dharmasasthra.
The 4th Avatar of Lord Vishnu where he appears as half man and half lion to kill the Asura Hiranyakashipu.
Neelakanta, the blue throated. Refers to Lord Shiva who acquired a blue throat after consuming poison.
The nine gems – Peal, Ruby, Topaz, Diamond, Emerald, Lapis Lazuli, Coral, Saphire and an unidentified gem (go meda).
Son of Nara, the Eternal Man. Refers to Vishnu
9 planets that are worshiped together as the Navagraha (Nava – Nine, Graha – Planets). They are Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, and the ascending and descending lunar nodes respectively called Rahu and Ketu.
The 63 saivite saints who are called the ‘Hounds of Shiva’.
Deities with formless form (rupa-arupa) like the Shiva Lingam.
Commencing the daily poojas to the deities after consecration following the Agamas.
A sacred sound and spiritual icon that has different meanings. This monosyllable is uttered before and after mantras and is written at the beginning and end of ancient manuscripts.
Om. Refers to one of the 12 Jyotirlingams – Omkaralingam.
The 275 temples/deities where at least one of the Moovar (Three -Thirunavukkarasar, Thirugnanasambandar and Sundarar) have rendered devotional Hymns – Thevaram.
Padmavati, a name of Goddess Lakshmi.
Dynasty that existed from 275 CE to 897 CE with their capital as Kancheepuram. Their rule extended from mid to north of Southern India. Many early cave and monolithic temples were built by them, the most famous are at the UNESCO site at Mahabalipuram near Chennai.
The five elements – earth, water, fire, air, ether. The Panchabhoota Temples of Lord Shiva are Earth – Kancheepuram Ekambareswarar. Water – Jambukeswara, Thiruvanaikaval. Fire – Arunachaleswara, Thiruvannamalai. Air – Kalahastheeswara, Kalahasthi. Ether – Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram
Originally an alloy of five metals – Gold, Silver, Copper, Zinc and Lead used to create idols. Gold and Silver are replaced today with Tin and Iron.
A place near the source of the river Godavari, where Lord Rama is said to have spent time. Could be somewhere near present day Nashik.
Pandava, plural- Pandavas. 5 Sons of King Pandu of the great epic Mahabaratha.
The Pandya Kings ruled parts of Southern India (Tamilnadu, Kerala and parts of Karnataka and Andhra) from at least 4th Century BC till about the first half of the 16th century CE. Their early capital was Korkai, a seaport on the southernmost tip of India and later moved to Madurai. Their symbol is the Fish.
The famous author of Paniniyam, the standard authority on Sanskrit Grammar.
The supreme soul of the universe.
A Rishi of the Vedic period to whom some of the Rig Veda hymns are attributed.
The Inferior Gods who are support providers to the main deities and found enshrined in their temples.
Lord, progenitor, creator of all creatures. Generally applied to Brahma.
A staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu. Son of Asura Hiranyakashipu who was slain by Lord Vishnu in his Narasimha Avatar.
Paternal Grandfather. A name of Brahma, the father of all. Refers to Bhishma of Mahabaratha also.
The founder of the Yoga philosophy and author of Mahabashya who lived in the around 200 – 100 BC.
The nether regions inhabited by Nagas.
Mountaineer. Name of the wife of Lord Shiva.
Partha – Arjuna. Sarathy – Charioteer. Name of Lord Krishna who was the Charioteer of Arjuna in the Mahabaratha War.
Son of Kunti. Refers to the three elder Pandavas, especially to Arjuna.
The holy tree that was a product of the churning of the ocean for amrut and kept in Indra’s abode.
The 6th Avatar of Lord Vishnu. A sage with an Axe as his weapon to uphold the right.
Big Temple, Large Temple with large encompassed areas and towers.
Puja, Vedic ritual for the worship of God
Circumbulation of an idol or a temple clockwise, turning around clockwise in front of an idol as part of prostration.
The wide corridors inside the temple campus. There can be many depending on the size of the temple. They would start from the outermost to the innermost. The outermost ones could also have human dwellings as in the Srirengam Temple.
Nature with its quality of creation and destruction
Dissolution of the World at the end of a period.
Offering to God which we get back after it has been blessed or gift given by a holy being or after the worship is over.
Lotus Eyed. A name of Lord Vishnu.
Old, Legendary. Thus the stories and epics of olden days are called Purana, Puranas (plural), Puranam.
A large aerial vehicle. The Pushpaka Vimaana of the Ramayana which belonged to Kubera and stolen by Ravana. Lord Rama used it to transport his entire retinue to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana.
Blue Lotus. A holy tank.
The holy water tank of the temple.
The best of men. Supreme soul. A name of Lord Vishnu
Man. The eternal man.
A consort of Lord Krishna. Considered to be a reincarnation of Goddess Lakshmi.
Descendant of Raghu, a king of the solar race. A name of Lord Rama.
Ascending Node of the Hindu astronomy. Rahu is the cause of eclipses and considered as a planet.
Main Tower at the main entrance of the Temple. It is usually the tallest, but in a few temples like the Madurai Shiva Temple all are the same height.
Plural – Rakshasas. Evil spirits, beings
Lord Rama. Son of Dasaratha and hero of the epic Ramayana. The 7th Avatar of Lord Vishnu.
The story of Lord Rama.
A beautiful nymph produced during the churning of the ocean for Amrut. Considered the ideal beauty.
Lord of Rama. A name of Lord Shiva who was worshiped by Rama. One of the 12 Jyotirlingams.
Monolith stone temples. Typical examples are the ones found in Mahabalipuram.
Wife of Kama, the god of Love. The goddess of sexual pleasures.
The demon king of Sri Lanka, the villain of Ramayana who abducted Sita, wife of Lord Rama and was eventually killed by Rama.
Rig Veda is considered the original Veda, the Vedas are the holy writings which form the root of Hinduism. It is divided into 10 Mandalas and has references to various deities or elements with Agni (fire coming first).
Sage. The 7 Rishis are called as Prajapati’s, mind borne sons of Brahma – Goutama, Bharadwaja, Vishwamitra, Jamadagni, Vasishta, Kashyapa and Atri.
Terrible. He is mentioned in the Vedas by various attributes and names including Mahadeva in the Yajur Veda. These could be the seeds which developed later into Lord Shiva.
Princess of Vidarbha who was in love with Lord Krishna. She was abducted and married by Krishna as her brother, a friend of Kamsa, fixed up her marriage with Sisupala.
The deity of the temple with a human form.
The deity of the temple with a human form (Sakala) and formless form (Nishkala) combination
Shakti, Sakti – the female energy of a male deity especially of Lord Shiva.
Worship of Lord Shiva.
An ammonite stone found in the River Gandak in Nepal which is sacred and worshiped as its form is considered typical of Lord Vishnu. It is valued based on the number of spirals and perforations on it.
The third Veda containing 1549 verses which are chanted during sacrifices or offerings to Soma, Agni, Indra.
Son of Lord Vishnu’s bird mount Garuda and brother of Jatayu. This bird was an ally of Lord Rama during the war with Ravana.
The 7 consorts of the Gods. Brahmi (Lord Brahma), Maheshwari (Maheshvara), Kaumaari (Kumara), Vaishnnavi (Vishnu), Vaaraahi (Varaha), Aindri (Indra), Chamundi (Shiva)
The planet Saturn. His influence is evil.
Religious reformer and teacher of the Vedanta Philosophy who lived in the 8th or 9th century CE. He established monasteries which still continue to function very effectively. He has many writings to his credit including the Bhashyas or commentaries on other literary works and the Ananda Lahiri in praise of Parvati, Lord Shiva’s consort.
Religious mendicant who subsist only on basics of life. Mostly devotees of Lord Shiva.
A holy river mentioned in the Vedas. It is not present today and people consider she merges with the Ganga and Yamuna at their confluence as an underground river. Recent geological evidence confirms the presence of a river around the same geographic area in ancient days which subsequently changed course, drained into others or dried up.
Authoritative treatise, rules, standard practices.
The Satavahana Dynasty was based in the Deccan region of India and is believed to have begun in 1st Century BC and lasted until the 2nd Century CE The region mainly comprised of the present-day Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra extending to parts of modern Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka at times. The dynasty had different capital cities at different times, including Pratishthana (Paithan) and Amaravati (Dharanikota).
Daughter of Daksha and wife of Lord Shiva. Because of the quarrel and enmity between her father and husband she is believed to have committed suicide by Sati (self immolation in a pyre).
Gayatri. Generator. A name used in the Vedas for the Sun. Savitri is the name of the lover of Satyavan whom she married despite knowing he had only one year to live. Upon his death she persisted on Yama to reinstate him.
Roof or Vimaana of the Sanctum sanctorum (Garba Griha)
Siddhas (Plural of Siddhar). A class of semi-divine beings of great purity and holiness. Mostly devotees of Lord Shiva, some follow Buddhism and some are practitioners of natural medicine. Their numbers are varying, but the principal among them are about 18 in Tamilnadu. There are disputes in this and it is common to see many names and versions.
Any scientific work on astronomy or mathematics.
The science of Mechanics including Architecture.
Lion Entrance – the main entrance of the temple
Daughter of Janaka, King of Mithila. Wife of Lord Rama. The Ramayana to a large portion centers around her abduction by Ravana and the subsequent events.
The god of destruction. One of the holy trinity of Hinduism. He is worshiped in the form of a Lingam mostly. The name is supposedly evolved from Rudra, which comes up in the Vedas.
Milky juice of the Soma plant (Asclepias acida). Its exhilarating qualities were appreciated by the priests and gods alike. It occupies a large space in the Rig Veda. Soma is a name of the Moon also.
Brother of monkey King Vaali. He was crowned King by Lord Rama after killing Vaali in a deceitful way. Sugriva was an important ally of Rama in the war against Ravana.
The planet Venus.
Sun. Sun God.
Rule. Technical language transmitting rules down. Sutras are available for almost all subjects.
Suyambu. Self occurring. A name of Brahma, but generally applied to any deity which has naturally occurred – mostly Shiva Lingams.
Heaven. The abode of Lord Indra, other inferior gods and beatified mortals, considered to be in Mount Meru.
Ritual. Mostly religious rituals performed for the female form, Sakthi (consort of Lord Shiva).
Liquid (like water, milk) which is distributed after having been poured over the deity during the worship. Also the water that is taken from the holy sources, temple tanks etc.
A collection of Saivite literature and hymns that comprise 12 volumes.
1 – 3 : Tirukadaikkappu by Thirugnanasambandar (7th Century CE)
4 – 6 : Thevaram by Thirunavukkarasar (7th Century CE)
7 : Thirupaattu by Sundarar (8th Century CE)
8 : Thiruvasakam and Thirukkovaiyar by Manickavasagar (9th Century CE)
9 : Thiruvisaippa & Thiruppallaandu by Thirumalikaittever, Senthanar, Karuvurttevar, Nambikatava Nambi, Gandaraditya, Venattatikal, Tiruvaliyamutanar, Purutottama Nambi, Setirayar
10 : Thirumandiram by Tirumoolar (8th Century CE)
11 : Prabandham by Karaikkal Ammaiyar, Cheraman Perumal Nayanar, Pattinattu Pillaiyar, Nakkiratevar Nayanar, Kapilateva Nayanar, Thiruvalaviyudaiyar, Nambiyantar Nambi, Iyyadigalkatavarkon Nayanar, Kalladateva Nayanar, Paranateva Nayanar, Ellamperuman Adigal, Athiravadigal
12 : Periya Puranam by Sekkizhar (12th Century CE)
Second age of the World which was said to have lasted 1,296,000 years.
Triple braid. Triveni Sangam – the confluence of three rivers, mostly refers to the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. But is a name associated with almost all confluences of major rivers in India.
The Trident of Lord Shiva
The Holy Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
Name of Lord Vishnu as used in the Rig Veda. Association to the three steps he took to conquer the 3 worlds (earth, atmosphere and sky). Also associated with the Vamana Avatar of Vishnu where he takes 3 steps.
Three eyed. Refers to Lord Shiva with his 3 eyes. Also name of one of the 12 Jyotir Lingams.
Anger. Name of Rudra. Can be used to describe any deity in an angry form.
Light. Name of the consort of Lord Shiva.
Sensuous celestial nymph mentioned first in the Rig Veda. Later mentions refer to her beauty being used to try and seduce great sages.
A title given to Lord Krishna by Indra.
Upavedas (plural). The subordinate or inferior Vedas.
Esoteric Doctrine. The third division of the Vedas attached to the Brahmana portion. It is thought that the oldest might date back to the 6th Century BC. Its object is to ascertain the mystic text of the Vedas.
Husband of Uma, Lord Shiva.
The processional deity of a temple.
Vehicle. Mounts of Gods.
Worship of Lord Vishnu.
The 3rd Avatar of Lord Vishnu where he appears as a Boar.
Bestower of boons. A name of Devi and Saraswati.
The 5th Avatar of Lord Vishnu where he comes as a dwarf.
A sage who authored the Ramayana. He also took the banished Sita into his hermitage where Lord Rama’s sons Lava and Kusha grew up.
The thunderbolt weapon of Indra
The paradise of Lord Vishnu. Believed to be in the oceans up north or in Mount Meru.
The necklace of Lord Vishnu with 5 precious gems – pearl, ruby, emerald, sapphire and diamond.
Lord of Physicians. A title of Lord Shiva and name of one of the 12 Jyotir Lingams.
God of the sky.
Father of Krishna. A name of Lord Krishna also derived from his all pervading presence and appearing from a divine womb.
Wealthy. Celebrated Vedic age Sage and one of the 7 great Rishis. He was the owner of a cow that provides everything – Nandini.
The science of building dwellings and other buildings.
Diving knowledge. Holy writings which are the foundations of the Hindu Religion. The Vedas are four – Rig Veda, Yajur Veda, Saama Veda and Atharva Veda.
Air, Wind. God of Wind.
A sage who was the author of the famous Kamasutra and Nyayabasha.
Orthodox school of philosophy.
Member of the Vedas. The 6 subjects crucial to study for reading, understanding and employment of the Vedas – pronunciation, metre, grammar, glossary, astronomy, ceremonial.
The Gayatri. Mother of the Vedas.
The holy hill of Vishnu Worship – Tirupati.
The rules and processes of installing the deities in a temple
Originally called Vidya Nagara (city of learning). Capital of the last great Hindu Dynasty of the south. Later altered to Vijaya (victory).
The roof portion of the sanctum sanctorum.
Ghost or goblin, haunts cemeteries and animates dead bodies.
Deformed Eyes. A name of Lord Shiva with 3 eyes.
Son or emanation of Lord Shiva created from his mouth. The object of his creation being to stop Daksha’s sacrifice and scare away the guests.
A celebrated sage and one of the 7 great Rishis.
Architect of the Universe credited with creating the divine cities, abodes and even the weapons of the gods.
The god of preserving, sustenance. One of the Holy Trinity. His Avatars are the Dasavatara (10 Avatars).
Wearing all forms. A title of Lord Vishnu. The form is most famously represented during the presentation of Bhagavat Gita to Arjuna by Krishna before the Mahabaratha War.
Arranger. This title is given to many old authors and compilers, but especially applicable to Veda Vyasa, the arranger of the Vedas.
Lord of All. A name of Lord Shiva
A wooded area near Mathura where Lord Krishna spent his youthful days.
The race in which Lord Krishna was born.
Yagna, Yaga. Sacrifice.
The second Veda, priests book to perform sacrifices.
Class of supernatural, inoffensive beings serving Kubera.
A holy river that rises from the upper reaches of the lower Himalayas. Its confluence with the Ganges near Allahabad is the site for the Kumbh Mela which occurs once in 12 years. As per Mythology the river is the daughter of the Sun God through his wife Sanjna.
God of Death.
Foster mother of Lord Krishna.
A school of philosophy that provides systematic studies to better oneself physically, mentally and spiritually.
An age of the world – Krita Yuga, Trata Yuga, Dwapara Yuga, Kali Yuga. The total number of years as per this amounts to 4,320,000 and forms the Mahayuga. 2000 such Mahayugas make a Kalpa (a night and day of Brahma).
Eldest of the five sons (Pandavas) of King Pandu.