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An asterisk (*) preceding a Sanskṛt word herein means ‘derived from the verbal root …’  


Kalpa A period of time, a cycle: a generalizing term and therefore used for time-periods of different lengths; chronologers, however, compute a Kalpa by the Life of Brahmā – minor kalpas are numerous. A Mahakalpa is often made the equivalent of a Manvantara. *kḷṛp, to be in order. Bh.G. 65)

Kāmadeva The god of love (lit. the god Kāma). The first-born in the Vedas: “Him neither devas, nor Pitṛs, nor men have equalled. Thou art superior to these and forever great,” chants the Atharva-Veda; while the Ṛg-Veda sings: “Desire first arose in It, which was the primal germ of mind; and which sages, searching with their intellect, have discovered in their heart to be the bond which connects entity with non-entity” (x, 129). Kāmadeva is the lord of the Apsarasas (the celestial nymphs, consorts of the Gandharvas, q.v.), and is represented as a handsome youth riding on a parrot, attended by the Apsarasas, one of whom bears his banner distinguished by the Makara (q.v.). His bow is made of sugar-cane, and his bow-string a line of bees, while each one of his arrows is tipped with a different flower. The Taittiriya-Brahmana has it that Kāmadeva was the son of Dharma (moral religious duty, piety, justice) and of Śraddha (faith); in another hymn he is born from the heart of Brahmā and therefore called the Self-Existent (Ātma-bhū), or the Unborn (Aja). Kāmadeva is in the Ṛg-Veda ”the personification of that feeling which leads and propels to creation. He was the first movement that stirred the ONE, after its manifestation from the purely abstract principle, to create,” (S.D. II, 176). “As Eros was connected in early Greek mythology with the world’s creation, and only afterwards became the sexual Cupid, so was Kāma in his original Vedic character,” (ibid.). (Bh.G. 74 – mentioned as ‘the god of love.’)

Kāmaduk The mythical cow belonging to the sage Vasiṣṭha, produced by the gods at the churning of the cosmic ocean. (See Ananta.) She is supposed to grant all desires and hence is termed the ‘cow of plenty.’ The alternative form, Kāmadhenu, gives the clue to this meaning: kāma, desire, wish; dhenu, milch-cow. In interpretation of the above allegory: the reference is to the appearance of the Earth in space as the mother of all that later appears on it. (Bh.G. 23)

Kandarpa De godhead van de liefde, ‘Cupido’. (Bh.G. X 28)

Kaṅsa A king of the Yādava line of the Lunar Dynasty, ruler of the Bhojas, reigning at Mathura, who deposed his own father, Ugrasena. Ugrasena was the brother of Devaka, the latter being the father of Devakī mother of Kṛṣṇa. Kansa is usually called the uncle of Kṛṣṇa; strictly speaking, however, he is a cousin. In spite of this relationship, he became the avowed enemy of Kṛṣṇa because a prophecy had been foretold to him that a son of Devaki would cause his death. In order to prevent this from happening, Kansa imprisoned Devaki and Vasudeva in his palace and commanded that all infants born to them should be put to death. Six children were so slain, but a seventh, Balarama, was saved through the connivance of his parents. Then when Kṛṣṇa was born, his parents escaped from the palace and fled from the city of Mathura, whereupon the enraged Kansa ordered all infant boys in the kingdom put to death; but the parents escaped from the realm with Kṛṣṇa, and the child was brought up by cow-herds in seclusion. Kansa at length learned that Kṛṣṇa had escaped destruction and made several attempts to bring about his death: as an instance, he sent Jarasandha, the king of Magadha, to battle with the young Kṛṣṇa eighteen times, but that monarch was as many times defeated. Kṛṣṇa finally slew Kaṅsa, as was predicted, restored Ugrasena, but left Mathura and established his kingdom at Dvāraka. (Bh.G. 121)

Kapila One of the famous Ṛṣis. There are many sages by the name of Kapila, the last being the founder of the Saṁkhya (q.v.) philosophy. A legend relates that while Kapila was engaged in meditation in Patala, he was menaced by the sixty thousand sons of Sagara, whereupon the sacred flame which darted from his person immediately reduced the sixty thousand sons to ashes. “That the story is an allegory is seen upon its very face: the 60,000 Sons, brutal, vicious, and impious, are the personification of the human passions that a ‘mere glance of the sage’ – the SELF who represents the highest state of purity that can be reached on earth – reduces to ashes.” (S.D. II, 571) “There are several well-known Kapilas in the Purāṇas. First the primeval sage, then Kapila, one of the three ‘Secret’ Kumāras; and Kapila, son of Kasyapa and Kadru … besides Kapila, the great sage and philosopher of the Kali Yuga.” (S.D. II, 572) (Bh.G. 74)

Karma Briefly, the teaching of Karma in the Bhagavad-Gītā (and for that matter throughout the whole of the Mahābhārata) is, that man’s actions set in motion causes which in due time react upon their producer, hence until he can “burst the bonds of Karma and rise above them” he is in fact chained thereby, and must return to the scene of his actions again and again, i.e., he is reborn on Earth again and again until he is freed from the bonds of Karma. The means for freeing himself are inculcated, principally in chapters iii v, xiv, and xviii. *kṛ to do, to act: dictionary form or ‘crude form’: karman, nominative case: karma. Bh.G. 15)

Karṇa The son of Pṛtha (or Kuntī) by Sūrya, the god of the sun, through the instrumentality of a mantra granted to her by the sage Durvāsā. This occurred before her marriage to Pandu, hence Karṇa was the half-brother of the Pāṇḍavas, although this was not known to them until after his death, which was accomplished by Arjuna during the battle at Kurukshetra. Karṇa had been abandoned by his mother while yet a child: he was found by the suta (Charioteer) of Dhṛtaraṣṭra, named Adhiratha (or Nandana), and brought up as his own son. Although knowing his relationship to the Pāṇḍavas, Karṇa sided with the Kauravas, because Duryodhana had given him the kingdom of Anga. During the great conflict Karṇa was on the point of slaying Arjuna, of whom he was especially envious, but was prevented from doing so by Kṛṣṇa. (Bh.G. 2)

Kārttikeya God of war, also called Skanda; the planet Mars. He is a son of Śiva.

Kāśī (or Kasi) A country situated in the vicinity of modern Benāres or Varāṇasi, whose king, Kasya, sided with the Pāṇḍavas. (Bh.G. 2)

Kaunteya Zoon van Kuntī, Arjuna (and the other Pāṇḍava brothers)

Kauravas (see Kurus)

Keśava A name applied to Kṛṣṇa, likewise to Viṣṇu. (m. having much or fine hair. Bh.G. 18)

Keśin A daitya (or ‘demon’) slain by Kṛṣṇa when the prince was attacked by Keśin in the form of a horse. The daitya was believed to have been sent by Kansa (q.v.) in order to cause the death of Kṛṣṇa. (Bh.G.121)

Kratu One of the Viśvas (q.v.)

Kṛpa The son of the sage Saradvat. With his sister Kṛpa he was adopted by king Santanu (the father of Bhīshma). Kṛpa was one of the privy councilors at Hastinapura, and was one of the three sole surviving warriors of the conflict on the side of the Kauravas (hence he is referred to in the text as ‘the conqueror in battle’). (Bh.G. 3)

Kṛṣṇa The son of Devaki and Vasudeva (of the Yādava line of the Chandravaṅsa – the Lunar Dynasty). (For particulars as to his birth see Kaṁsa.) Kṛṣṇa is represented as the eighth Avatara of Viṣṇu: in this aspect he is the spiritual teacher, the embodiment of wisdom; but as with other Saviors, stories and allegories have been woven around him in great abundance. In the Mahābhārata his story is briefly sketched, yet all his exploits are enumerated: he appears throughout the work mostly as the advisor of the Pāṇḍavas. The life of Kṛṣṇa is told in full in the Harivaṁsa (a work regarded as an addition to the epic), also in great detail in the Viṣṇu- and Bhāgavata-Purāṇas, and popularized for the multitude in the Prem Sagar (written in Hindi. The various stories and allegories woven around Kṛṣṇa are still the most loved topic among the populace of India today, who revere him as a god. Nevertheless his teachings as outlined in the Bhagavad-Gītā are as applicable today in the Occident as in the Orient – although couched in the metaphor and background of a people living thousands of years ago. The date of Kṛṣṇa’s death is given as 3102 B.C., and this event marked the commencement of the Kali-yuga, the present ‘Iron Age.’ The Bhagavad-Gītā itself best describes the avatāric character of Kṛṣṇa: it represents the teacher as the Logos, while Arjuna typifies man. H. P. Blavatsky makes the following interesting comment regarding the successive incarnations of avatāras of Viṣṇu (i.e., the Narasiṁha, Rāma, and Kṛṣṇa) and the successive reincarnations of Daityas. Hiraṇyakasipu, the unrighteous but valiant monarch of the Daityas, because of his wickedness was slain by the Avatara Nara-siṁha (Man-lion). “Then he was born as Rāvana, the giant king of Lanka, and killed by Rāma; after which he is reborn as Śiśupāla, the son of Rāja-Ṛṣi (King Ṛṣi) Damaghosha, when he is again killed by Kṛṣṇa, the last incarnation of Viṣṇu. This parallel evolution of Viṣṇu (spirit) with a Daitya, as men, may seem meaningless, yet it gives us the key not only to the respective dates of Rāma and Kṛṣṇa but even to a certain psychological mystery.” (S.D. II, 225) (m. dark-colored, black, or blue-black. Kṛṣṇa is represented as being very dark-skinned. Bh.G. 3)

Kṛṣṇā King Drupada’s daughter, better known as Draupadī

Kṛṣṇa Dvaipayana (see Vyāsa). (Bh.G. p. iii)

Kṛṣṇa-Yajur-Veda lit. ’the Black Yajur-Veda’ – an alternative name for the Taittiriya-Samhita – one of the two divisions of this Veda, the other part being known as the White Yajurveda. It is called ‘black’ (Kṛṣṇa) because the Saṁhita and Brahmana portions of this Veda are confused and mixed together, whereas the part named ‘white’ (śukla) is free from this confusion and is arranged in an orderly manner. Yajur-Veda means ‘sacrificial Veda’: – it is a collection of sacred mantras which are practically identical with some of the mantras in the Rig-Veda; in fact it is simply a collection, cut up and rearranged for the priests as a sort of sacrificial prayer-book. The principal sacrifices are those to be performed at the new and full moon, and at the horse-sacrifice (aśvamedha). (Bh.G. 31)

Kṣattriya (or Kṣatriya) The second of the four social classes in the Vedic period: generally called the warrior caste, but the term refers also to the world of officialdom, i.e., kings, princes, administrators, etc. (see Bh.G. pp. 127-8). (Bh.G. 14)

Kṣetra A sphere of action, a field, a vehicle. Referred to (in Bh.G.) as the compounded constitution of the knower, or of the conscious entity, i.e., the body. (Bh.G. 93)

Kṣetrajña The conscious ego: the cognizing and recognizing element in the human constitution – Buddhi-Manas (translated ‘soul’ in Bh.G.). (comp. kṣetra, field, i.e., body; jña, the knower. Bh.G. 93)

Kubera, Kuvera In Hindu mythology the regent of the North, also the chief of various spirits of nature whose abode is the underworld or Hades. He is the treasurer of the gods. Like the Greek Pluto-Plutus, he is said to be possessed of great wealth and to be the keeper of all the treasures on earth.

Kuntī The patronymic of Pritha, the sister of Kṛṣṇa’s father, Vasudeva, and daughter of a Yādava prince named Sura, who gave her to his childless cousin Kuntī (or Kuntībhoja), by whom she was adopted – hence she was called Kuntī. As a maiden she paid such respect and devotion to the sage Durvasas that he taught her a mantra whereby she was enabled to have a child by any god she chose to invoke. In order to test the efficacy of this she invoked the god of the sun, Sūrya, and Karṇa (q.v.) was born: but Kuntī abandoned the child. She chose Pandu as her husband (at a svayamvara). With the aid of her mantra she invoked the god of justice, Dharma, by whom Yudhiṣṭhira was born by invoking Vāyu, the god of the wind, Bhīma was born; and by supplication to Indra, the god of the sky, Kuntī gave birth to Arjuna. In the Mahābhārata Kuntī is represented as the model of maternal affection and devotion, ever watching over the Pāṇḍavas, with whom she spent thirteen years in exile. After the great war she retired with Gandhari and Dhṛtaraṣṭra into the forest, where she perished in a conflagration. “As Aditi is called Surarani (the matrix or ‘mother’ of the sura’s (gods)), so Kuntī the mother of the Pāṇḍavas, is called in Mahābhārata Pāṇḍavaraṇī – which term is already physiologized.” (S.D. II, 527) (Bh.G. 4)

Kuntībhoja (or Kuntī) King of the Kuntīs (a people of ancient India). This Yadava prince adopted Pritha, the daughter of his cousin Sura, hence she was called Kuntī (q.v.). (Bh.G. 2)

Kuru A king of the Paurava line of the Chandravaṅsa (the Lunar Dynasty) reigning at Hastinapura. He was the son of Samvaraṇa and Tapati and the ancestor of Dhṛtaraṣṭra and Pandu by the fourteenth remove. Hence Arjuna is referred to as ‘son of Kuru’ (Bh.G. 51) or ‘best of the Kurus’ (Bh.G. 35).

Kurukṣetra lit., ‘The field of the Kurus’: a plain situated in the vicinity of modern Delhi on which was staged the great conflict which forms the principal theme of the Mahābhārata. (comp. Kuru, and kṣetra, field. Bh.G. 1)

Kurus (or Kauravas) An ancient people inhabiting the northwest of India, in the vicinity of the modern Delhi. In the Mahābhārata they are divided into northern and southern Kurus: the northern occupying one of the four Mahādvīpas (principal divisions of the known world), and regarded as a country beyond the most northern range of the Himalayas, often described as a country of everlasting happiness and considered to be the ancient home of the Aryan Race. The southern Kurus were those referred to in the Bhagavad-Gītā reigning at Hastinapura. In the text (of the Bh.G.), the reference to the Kurus is applicable to the sons of Dhṛtaraṣṭra, although the sons of Pandu are equally ‘Kurus.’ And so Arjuna is referred to as ‘the best of the Kurus,’ for he was a descendant of Kuru by the fifteenth remove. (Bh.G. 4)

Kuśa The sacred grass (Poa cynosuroides), used in India at certain religious ceremonies. H. P. Blavatsky remarks that it has certain occult properties. (Theos. Gloss.) (Bh.G. 46)

Kusumākara The season of Spring. (comp. kusuma, flower, blossom; akara, making a quantity of. Bh.G. 76)

Kūṭastha A philosophical term meaning ‘holding the highest position,’ hence the primordial divinity. As a noun it is often used as a synonym for Iśvara, the Divine-Spiritual Monad. Kūṭastha. Kūṭastha is often used derivatively for Ākāśa (q.v.) and for Mulaprakṛti. (comp. kuta, the highest, the summit; stha, standing. Bh.G. 108)