The Sanskrit language is rich in words to communicate ideas about spiritual life, yoga, and God realization. This dictionary, appearing by installments in Back to Godhead, will focus upon the most important of these words (and, occasionally, upon relevant English terms) and explain what they mean, (For a guide to proper pronunciation, please see page 1.)
Bad Karma. According to the law of karma, for everything we do nature responds, giving us some reaction, whether good or bad. If we act in accord with nature’s laws, nature will respond to us favorably; and if we act discordantly, rubbing nature the wrong way or trying to assault or exploit her, mother nature may pinch us—or kick us in the face.
Nature’s kicks are called bad karma.
If one is suffering from some chronic disease, if one is ugly or unintelligent, or if one is entangled in some legal troubles, he’s suffering from bad karma. And our other sufferings, large and small, are also what are due us in the karmic cycle.
When we break nature’s laws, the reactions may hit us in this lifetime, or they may come later, in a future life. So we’re suffering now the results of our past mistakes, and we’ll suffer in the future for the ones we’re making now.
Nature’s laws are complicated, subtle, mysterious, and inflexible. If we try to beat them, we ourselves shall take the beating. But even when we try to live simply and naturally and make nature our friend, it isn’t so simple—friendly old nature still makes us suffer the miseries of repeated birth and death, disease and old age. So even “good karma” really isn’t very good.
A transcendentalist, therefore, strives to get entirely free from the forces of material nature. The Bhagavad-gita explains how.
Baladeva Vidyabhusana. A great spiritual master who appeared in the 18th century in the disciplic succession of devotees. He is the author of Govinda-bhasya, a commentary on the Vedanta-sutra.
Balarama. Balarama (also known as Baladeva) is the first expansion of Lord Krsna, the original Personality of Godhead. The Supreme Lord has the ability to appear simultaneously in an unlimited number of forms, each fully powerful and identical with Him yet each distinctly and uniquely individual. Lord Balarama is the first of these forms, or “expansions,” and all other expansions of the Lord proceed from Him.
In the pastimes of Lord Krsna, Lord Balarama appears as Lord Krsna’s elder brother.
Bali Maharaja. One of twelve famed mahajanas, or great devotees of the Lord, described in the ancient Vedic literature. He is outstanding for having surrendered everything to the Lord. When Bali Maharaja was reigning as king of the three worlds. Lord Krsna appeared to him in the form of Vamana, a beautiful dwarf brahmana boy. Lord Vamana begged Bali Maharaja for three paces of land, and King Bali felt duty-bound to grant this request for charity. Sukracarya, the king’s spiritual master, recognized that the dwarf brahmana, being Krsna Himself, could respond by taking away everything the king had. So he urged King Bali not to grant Vamana’s request. But Bali Maharaja rejected even his own spiritual master and agreed to grant Lord Vamana the boon for which He had asked. Lord Vamana then assumed a gigantic form and covered the entire earth with one step, and with His second step He covered the entire universe. Bali Maharaja, challenged to make good his promise, then offered his own head as the place for the Lord’s third footstep.
Bhagavad-gita. An ancient Sanskrit text, seven hundred verses long, consisting of a dialogue between Lord Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and His friend and disciple Arjuna. In the course of this dialogue. Lord Krsna enlightens the perplexed Arjuna, leading him from confusion and despondency to the highest understanding and joy.
Bhagavad-gita is the basic text of Krsna consciousness. In India it is the most cherished of scriptures, and for its luminous philosophical wisdom it is honored throughout the world.
Bhagavan. The word bhagavan refers to one who is complete in six opulences—beauty, wealth, fame, strength, knowledge, and renunciation. There are many people who are beautiful, famous, wealthy, and so on, but bhagavan refers to the person who has all these opulences to the greatest possible extent. It is therefore a name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Supreme Lord.
That the Supreme Personality of Godhead is Krsna is confirmed throughout the Vedic literature. In Bhagavad-gita, whenever Lord Krsna speaks, the text begins with the words sri bhagavan uvaca, meaning “The Supreme Personality of Godhead spoke as follows.”
The Absolute Truth may be understood in three features—as Brahman, as Paramatma, and as Bhagavan. Brahman refers to the Absolute Truth in its aspect of impersonal oneness. Paramatma refers to the same Absolute, realized as the Lord in everyone’s heart. And Bhagavan also refers to the same Absolute, understood in His aspect as the Supreme Person. The Vedic teachings conclude that realization of Bhagavan constitutes the highest perfection.