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


Madhu The name of an asura (q.v.), who was slain by Viṣṇu. Madhu and his companion Kaitabha sprang from the ear of Viṣṇu while the deity was resting at the end of a kalpa. These two asuras took advantage of the sleep of the god to approach Brahmā, who was also resting, and were on the point of putting him to death but Viṣṇu awoke and frustrated them in their plot by immediately slaying the asuras. Because of this act Viṣṇu is known by the names of Madhusudana (slayer of Madhu) and Kaitabhajit (Causing the death of Kaitabha). W. Q. Judge suggests that Madhu represents the quality of passion in nature (Bh.G. 49).Kṛṣṇa was also called Madhusudana. (Bh.G. 9)

Madhusūdana A name applied to KṛṣṇaViṣṇu (Kṛṣṇa in the aspect of Viṣṇu). (comp. Madhu (q.v.); sūdana, slayer. Bh.G. 9) Also the name of many Sanskṛt authors. (Bh.G. 51)

Madrī A sister of the king of the Madras, who became the second wife of Pandu. By means of the mantra given her by Kuntī (q.v.), she became the mother of Nakula and Sahadeva by the twin Asvins (the sky-gods). At the death of Pandu, Madri ascended the funeral pyre with her husband’s corpse. (Bh.G. p. iv)

Mahābhārata lit. ’The great (war) of the Bhāratas.’ The great epic poem of Hindusthan, consisting of about 215,000 lines of metrical prose, which are divided into 18 parvas (books or sections). The main theme of the work is the recounting of the history of the later scions of the Chandravaṅsa (Lunar Dynasty) dealing especially with the exploits of the Kurus and the Pāṇḍavas, culminating in the great conflict which forms the major portion of the epic. Not only does it follow the achievements of its principal characters, for the ramifications of the narrative consider innumerable stories and allegories with a wealth of description and fancy unequalled in the realm of fiction; but every phase of the human emotions is dealt with, so that this epic has been the source of material for dramas and stories for succeeding generations. The mythological and religious aspect of the people of ancient times is set forth, as regards both the allegories of the deities and the priestly ceremonial observances; philosophical discourses abound (the Bhagavad-Gītā being but a single instance); teachings in regard to Karman and Reincarnation are expounded as well as illustrated in story-form (see under Draupadī and Sikhandin); moral and ethical lessons are repeatedly inculcated, while the traditions and legends of the Bhāratas are stressed at all times, featuring all the exploits of a war-like race. The tale of Rāma (which forms the basis for the second great epic of India, the Rāmāyāna) is told in full, as is also the story of Sakuntala (later dramatized by Kālidāsa). Unquestionably the Mahābhārata is a work intended for the populace, therefore it is written in a manner which would appeal to the people of that time, and deals principally with battles. Its compilation is attributed to Vyāsa (q.v.). “No two Orientalists agree as to its date. But it is undeniably extremely ancient.” (Theos. Gloss. 201)

“… from the first appearance of the Aryan race … down to the final disappearance of Plato’s small island of Atlantis, the Aryan races had never ceased to fight with the descendants of the first giant races. This war lasted till nearly the close of the age which preceded the Kali Yuga, and was the Māhabhāratean war so famous in Indian History.” (S.D. II, 395) (Bh.G. p. i)

Mahaṛṣi lit. ’Great Sage’ (great Ṛṣi): referring especially to the ten Maharṣis who were the ‘mind-born sons’ of Prajāpati (or Manu Svāyambhuva) enumerated in Manu (I, 34) as: Marīchi, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Prachetas, Vasiṣṭha, Bhṛgu, Nārada. They are also called the ten Prajāpatis. Sometimes they are referred to as seven only – as in chapter x, śloka 6, rendered as “the seven great Sages,” Bh.G. 71.(See Ṛṣi.)

“Every nation has either the seven and ten Ṛṣis-Manus and Prajāpatis; … One and all have been derived from the primitive Dhyān-Chohans of the Esoteric doctrine, or the ‘Builders’ of the Stanzas (Book I). From Manu, Thoth-Hermes, Oannes-Dagon, and Edris-Enoch, down to Plato and Panodorus, all tell us of seven divine Dynasties, of seven Lemurian, and seven Atlantean divisions of the Earth; of the seven primitive and dual gods who descend from their celestial abode and reign on Earth, teaching mankind Astronomy, Architecture, and all the other sciences that have come down to us. These Beings appear first as ‘gods’ and Creators; then they merge in nascent man, to finally emerge as ‘divine-Kings and Rulers.”‘ (S.D. II, 365-6) (comp. maha, great; Ṛṣi, a Sage or Seer. Bh.G. 81)

Mahātman lit. ’Great Soul’ or ‘Great Self’compound of mahā, great; ātman, Self. In India today the word (Anglicized as Mahatma) is applied as a title to a man of outstanding achievement, although in ancient times it referred to a man of outstanding spiritual attainment, as mentioned in the Bhagavad-Gītā. In Theosophical literature the word is employed technically for those beings farther advanced evolutionally than ordinary men, who are also referred to as the Masters of Wisdom, or the Sages and Seers. (Bh.G. 55)

Maheśvara lit. ’Great Lord,’ a term applied to the ‘spirit.’ Also a title applied to Śiva (the third member of the Hindu Trimūrti). (comp. maha, great; Iśvara, lord, master. Bh.G. 96)

Makara A sea-animal: the vehicle of Varuṇa (god of the ocean). It is variously described: as a fish, a shark, a dolphin, or a crocodile; however, in the legends it is depicted as having the head and forelegs of an antelope and the body and tail of a fish-very similar to Capricornus, and like it, allocated to the tenth sign of the Zodiac. Makara is “now the most sacred and mysterious of the signs of the Zodiac.” (S.D. II, 268) (Bh.G. 75)

Manas The seat of mind and consciousness of egoity: the real man. In the Theosophical classification of man’s principles, the fifth (Counting upwards): regarded as the child of Mahat, hence called Mānasaputra.

“Manas is a ‘principle,’ and yet it is an ‘Entity’ an individuality or Ego. He is a ‘God,’ and yet he is doomed to an endless cycle of incarnations, …

“… In its very essence it is THOUGHT, and is, therefore, called in its plurality Manasa putra, ’the Sons of the (Universal) mind.’ “ (The Key to Theosophy, 183-4)

Manas, or the Thinker, is the reincarnating being, the immortal who carries the results and values of all the different lives lived on earth or elsewhere. Its nature becomes dual as soon as it is attached to a body.” The reasoning faculty “is the lower aspect of the Thinker or Manas, … Its other, and in theosophy higher, aspect is the intuitional, which knows, and does not depend on reason.” (The Ocean of Theosophy, 54) (Bh.G. 53)

Manipuṣpaka The name of the conch-shell of Sahadeva. (m. jewel-flowered. Bh.G. 4)

Manu In the Laws of Manu it is stated that Manu was created by Virāj: he then produced the ten Prajāpatis (q.v.), who in turn produced seven other Manus; each of these Manus again produced seven Manus. Fourteen Manus, however, are allocated to the seven globes of a planetary chain, two to each: one appears at the commencement of a Round (called the Root-Manu) and one at the conclusion (the Seed-Manu), the interval between the two Manus being termed a Manvantara. The Manu in charge of our present Fourth Round is named Vaivasvata-Manu (q.v.). The four Manus (mentioned on p. 71, Bh.G.) refer to the Manus of the four Rounds, the fourth Round being now in progress. (See Maharṣi and Ṛṣi.)

Esoterically Manu stands for the entities collectively which appear first at the beginning of manifestation: it is the spiritual ‘Tree of Life’ of any planetary chain of manifested being. “Manu declares himself created by Virāj, or Vaisvānara, (the Spirit of Humanity), which means that his Monad emanates from the never resting Principle in the beginning of every new Cosmic activity:” (S.D. II, 311).

“Notwithstanding the terrible, and evidently purposed, confusion of Manus, Ṛṣis, and their progeny in the Purāṇas, one thing is made clear: there have been and there will be seven Ṛṣis in every Root-Race (Called also Manvantara in the sacred books) as there are fourteen Manus in every Round, the ‘presiding gods, the Ṛṣis and Sons of the Manus’ being identical. … ‘Six’ Manvantaras are given, the Seventh being our own in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa.” (S.D. II, 614) (Bh.G. 30)

Mārgaśirṣa The name of the month in which the full moon enters Mṛgaśiras (generally applied to Capricornus in the signs of the Zodiac): the tenth or in later times the first month in the year. (Bh.G. 76)

Mārichi One of the ten Prajāpatis (progenitors) or mind-born sons of Brahmā, from whom mankind is descended (according to Manu). He is also regarded as one of the seven great Ṛṣis (q.v.), in the Mahābhārata. He is the father of the Ṛṣi Kasyapa – the Vedic sage, the most prolific of creators, who produced the Nāgas (q.v.). Marichi is also represented as the chief of the Maruts (q.v.). In Manu the Pitṛs of the Gods are reborn as the sons of Marichi and his wife Sambhuti. These Pitṛs are the Agniśvatta Pitṛs, while those called in Manu the ‘Pitṛs of the Demons,’ who are reborn as the sons of Atri are the Barhiṣad Pitṛs. (S.D. II, 89) (Bh.G. 73)

Maruts The storm gods, helpers of Indra: armed with lightning and thunderbolts, they ride on the whirlwind and direct storms. They are prominent in the Vedas, being called the sons of Rudra (the storm god), or again sons and brothers of Indra (god of the sky). In the Purāṇas it is related that the Maruts were born in the following manner: Did, the wife of Kasyapa, (one of the great Ṛṣis) was about to give birth to a son, but the embryo was separated by Indra into seven portions, each portion when born being again separated into seven parts. Śiva transformed these into boys, calling them Maruts. H. P. Blavatsky interprets this legend as follows: Diti “is the sixth principle of metaphysical nature, the Buddhi of Ākāśa. Diti the mother of the Maruts, is one of her terrestrial forms, made to represent, at one and the same time, the divine Soul in the ascetic, and the divine aspirations of mystic Humanity …” Indra represents the cosmic principle Mahat, in man “Manas in its dual aspect: as connected with Buddhi; and as allowing himself to be dragged down by his Kāma-principle (the body of passions and desires).” The babe allegorizes “the divine and steady will of the Yogi – determined to resist all such temptations, and thus destroy the passions within his earthly personality. Indra succeeds again, because flesh conquers spirit … He divides the ‘Embryo’ (of new divine adeptship, begotten once more by the Ascetics of the Aryan Fifth Race), into seven portions a reference not alone to the seven sub-races of the new Root-Race, in each of which there will be a ‘Manu,’ but also to the seven degrees of adeptship – and then each portion into seven pieces – alluding to the Manu-Ṛṣis of each Root-Race, and even sub-race.” (S.D. II, pp. 614-5)

“The Maruts represent (a) the passions that storm and rage within every candidate’s breast, when preparing for an ascetic life – this mystically; (b) the occult potencies concealed in the manifold aspects of Ākāśas lower principles her body, or sthula sarira, representing the terrestrial, lower, atmosphere of every inhabited globe – this mystically and sidereally; (c) actual conscious Existences, Beings of a cosmic and psychic nature. “At the same time, ‘Maruts’ is, in occult parlance, one of the names given to those EGOS of great Adepts who have passed away, and who are known also as Nirmāṇakāyas;” (S.D. II, 615). (Bh.G. 73)

Mātrā-sparśa Sensory perception; objects of sense. (Bh.G. II.14)

Māyā As a philosophical term the word has come to be associated with the illusory aspect of man’s thoughts and views as he considers life and his surroundings, endeavoring to interpret and understand things: therefore is Māyā rendered ‘illusion.’ One of the traditional explanations of this term given in the Vedānta is: a man sees a coil of rope and believing it to be a serpent instinctively jumps away from it. On looking a second time he realizes that it is but a piece of rope: yet he thought he saw a serpent; therefore he decides that he was fooled by the illusory nature of things – Māyā.

“Māyā or illusion is an element which enters into all finite things, for everything that exists has only a relative, not an absolute, reality, since the appearance which the hidden noumenon assumes for any observer depends upon his power of cognition.” (S.D. I, 39)

Māyā is often used as an equivalent for Avidya (ignorance), although properly it should be applied solely to Prakṛti (q.v.). *ma, to measure, with an acquired meaning of to form, to limit. Bh.G. 31)

Meru Mythologically, a mountain situated in the center of the earth, represented as the abode of the gods, compared to the seed-vessel of a lotus, the leaves of which are formed by the various island-continents (Dvīpas); the river Ganges falls on its summit and flows therefrom to the world in four streams; the regents of the four quarters occupy corresponding faces of the mountain, which is resplendent with gold and gems. “Meru is not ’the fabulous mountain in the navel or centre of the earth,’ but its roots and foundations are in that navel, though it is in the far north itself. This connects it with the ‘central’ land ‘that never perishes’;” (S.D. II, 401).

“It is the north pole, the country of ‘Meru,’ which is the seventh division, as it answers to the Seventh principle” (S.D. II, 403). (Bh.G. 74)

Muni An ascetic, monk, devotee, hermit (especially one who has taken a vow of silence. *man, to think; hence one of the meanings of the word is ‘a man who has attained union with his inner divinity.’ Bh.G. 18)