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




Pañchajanya The name of Kṛṣṇa’s conch-shell, which he obtained in the following manner: Pañchajana was an elemental of the sea, using the form of a conch-shell (śaṇkha). He had seized the son of Sāndīpani (who had instructed Kṛṣṇa in the use of arms), whereupon Kṛṣṇa attacked and slew Pañchajana, taking the shell for use as his conch.

It is significant and interesting that the word Pañchajana itself means ‘five classes,’ having reference to the five lower classes of beings which in a general way were considered by the ancient Hindus to inhabit the universe. The name therefore could properly be applied to a head of any one such composite group of beings; and to speak of Pañchajana as a ‘demon,’ as Orientalists often do, is to forget the fact that one of the Pañchajanas or five classes of animate beings are men, who can hardly be called ‘demons,’ even in the Hindu mythological sense. (m. lit. descended from Pañchajana. Bh.G. 3)

Pāṇḍu The son of Kṛṣṇa Dvaipayana Vyāsa and Ambalika, half-brother of Dhṛtaraṣṭra, and parent of the five hero princes Yudhiṣṭhira, Bhīma, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva – who were known as the Pāṇḍavas (i.e., sons of Pandu). When Pandu became of age, he was given the throne of Hastinapura by his regent-uncle Bhīshma, because Dhṛtaraṣṭra was considered unfit to rule the kingdom on account of his blindness. Pandu, however, relinquished the kingdom because of a curse pronounced upon him while hunting, and retired to the Himalayas, where he died. (Bh.G. 2)

Pāṇḍus (or Pāṇḍavas) The sons of Pāṇḍu, referring to the five brothers – Yudhiṣṭhira, Bhīma, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva – who sought to regain their kingdom of Indraprastha, which had been taken from them by the Kauravas under the leadership of Duryodhana. This led to the great battle at Kurukshetra, in which the Pāṇḍavas were victorious. (Bh.G. 2)

Parabrahman lit. Beyond Brahman, i.e., that which is beyond the summit of a manifested kosmic hierarchy; referred to in Vedic literature as TAT, THAT (the world of manifestation being Idam, This). Parabrahman is very closely connected with Mulaprakṛti (Root-Substance) inasmuch as Mulaprakṛti is the veil of Parabrahman (N.Bh.G. 62). Kṛṣṇa speaks of Parabrahman as his Avyaktamūrti because Parabrahman “is unknowable, and only becomes knowable when manifesting itself as the Logos” or Iśvara (N.Bh.G. 62). Parabrahman “is the field of Absolute Consciousness, i.e., that Essence which is out of all relation to conditioned existence, and of which conscious existence is a conditioned symbol.” (S.D. I, 15) (comp. para, beyond; Brahman, ’Universal Spirit.’ Bh.G. 71)

Paramātman The Supreme Self. In man Paramātman is the three highest principles, with especial emphasis upon the atman, hence the reference is to the root-base of man. The term may likewise apply to the Root-Base of a hierarchy, and cosmically, to the First or Unmanifest Logos of the Universe. (comp. parama, beyond; ātman, Self: hence the SELF which is higher than the Self of the human ego. Bh.G. 96)

Pārtha Arjuna – Son of Pṛthā (= Kuntī). (Bh.G. I 27)

Paundra The name of the conch-shell of Bhīma. (Bh.G. 4)

Pavaka A name applied to one of the eight Vasus (q.v.), the Vasu fire. Also applied to the god of fire, Agni (q.v.). (m. bright, shining. Bh.G. 74)

Pavana An alternative name for the god of the wind, Vāyu (q.v.). (Bh.G. 75)

Piṇḍa Morsel of food. The piṇḍa-ceremony in which four white rice balls are offered for the ancestors which feed their (invisible) piṇḍa bodies. (Bh.G. I 42)

Pippala The sacred Indian fig-tree, Ficus religiosa, called in Buddhism the Bo-tree. Mystically the Cosmic World-Tree, or Tree of Life, the Aśvattha (q.v.).

Pitṛs lit. Fathers: referring to (a) the deceased father, grandfathers, and great grandfathers of a person, and (b), the Progenitors of the human race. To both classes rites are performed (Śraddhas) and oblations presented (Piṇḍas) – to which the text refers. The Progenitors are of seven groups or classes: the three higher classes are called Arupa-Pitṛs – commonly Solar Pitṛs or Agnishvatta-Pitṛs, i.e., those who have no physical ‘creative fire’ albeit the enlighteners of the mind of man (the Minasaputras of The Secret Doctrine); the four lower classes are called Barhishads – commonly Lunar Pitṛs who fashion mankind’s vehicle, i.e.,the Monads undergoing evolution in the Lunar Chain who, transfer their energies to the Earth-chain at the time of its reimbodiment. (See Marichi.)

“The Progenitors of Man, called in India ’Fathers, Pitaras or Pitṛs, are the creators of our bodies and lower principles. They are ourselves, as the first personalities, and we are they. … they were ’lunar Beings.’ “ (S.D. II, 88) (Bh.G. 68)

Prahlāda The son of Hiraṇyakasipu of the Daitya race (i.e., Titans), who waged wars with the gods, in one of which they overcame Indra and took possession of Svarga (heaven). Prahlada, however, as a boy, instead of following the Daitya practice, became an ardent worshiper of Viṣṇu. This was told his father who in anger ordered that his son be killed. But no Daitya weapon could cause his death, nor even the flames of fire, whereupon Prahlada was sent back to his preceptor and he continued his adoration of Viṣṇu. Because of Prahlāda’s persecution, Viṣṇu took on incarnation as the Narasiṁha (‘man-lion’) Avatara, slaying Hiraṇyakasipu and expelling the Daityas from heaven. (See under Kṛṣṇa.) They took up their abode in Patala under the rule of Prahlada. At his death Prahlada attained union with Viṣṇu. The Padma-Purāṇa narrates that in a previous birth, as a Brahmana named Sornasarman, he was desirous of uniting himself with Viṣṇu, but was distracted in his meditations by the Daityas, and so was born again as one of them, (Bh.G.75)

Prajāpati lit. ’Lord of progeny,’ or lord of creation: a title applied originally to several of the Vedic gods, as divinities presiding over the production of worlds and men; later applied to the Hindu Trimūrti (Brahmā, Viṣṇu, Śiva) especially to Brahmā as the chief progenitor, evolver, and producer (as in Manu). Likewise Manu Svayambhuva is termed a Prajāpati as the son of Brahmā, and as the secondary creator of the ten Ṛṣis – the mind-born sons of Brahmā from whom mankind is descended, hence termed Prajāpatis. These are enumerated as: Marīchi, Atri, Angiras, Pulastya, Pulaha, Kratu, Vasiṣṭha, Prachetas (or Dakṣa), Bhṛgu, Nārada. Occasionally only the first seven are enumerated, and they are made equivalent to the seven great Ṛṣis (q.v.). The Prajāpatis “are neither gods, nor supernatural Beings, but advanced Spirits from another and lower planet, reborn on this one, and giving birth in their turn in the present Round to present Humanity.” (S.D. II, 611)

“What are all the myths and endless genealogies of the seven Prajāpatis, and their sons, the seven Ṛṣis or Manus, and of their wives, sons and progeny, but a vast detailed account of the progressive development and evolution of animal creation, one species after the other?” (S.D. II, 253) *pra-jan, to give birth to; pati lord. Bh.G. 85)

Prakṛti Broadly speaking equivalent to Nature – in the sense of the great producer of beings. Through Nature acts the ever-moving Spirit – Brahmā or Puruṣa. Thus Puruṣa is Spirit and Prakṛti is its productive veil or sheath. Although Prakṛti is commonly rendered ‘matter,’ matter is rather the productions that Prakṛti brings about (i.e., the Vikṛtis) through the excitation or influence of Puruṣa. Some Hindu schools use Prakṛti in the sense of Sakti or Māyā (Illusion), the Vedantins, however, teach that every particle of Prakṛti contains Jiva (divine life) and is the sarira (body) of that Jiva which it contains. (comp. pra, forwards, progression; *kṛ to do, to make; hence lit. production, bringing forth. Bh.G. 65)

Pralaya [from pra away + the verbal root  to dissolve] Dissolving away, death, dissolution, as when one pours water upon a cube of salt or sugar: the cube of salt or sugar vanishes in the water, dissolves, and changes its form. So during a pralaya, matter crumbles or vanishes away into something else which is yet in it, surrounds it, and interpenetrates it. Pralaya is often defined as the state of latency or rest between two manvantaras of great life cycles. During pralaya, everything differentiated, every unit, disappears from the phenomenal universe and is transferred into the noumenal essence which periodically throughout eternity gives birth to all the phenomena of nature. Pralaya is dissolution of the visible into the invisible, the heterogeneous into the homogeneous, relatively or absolutely — the objective universe returns into its one primal and eternally productive Cause, to reappear at the following cosmic dawn. To our finite minds, pralaya is like a state of nonbeing — and so it is for all existences and beings on the lower material planes. (From Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary (ETG)). (BH.G. VII 6)

Prāṇāyāma [from prāṇa breath + āyāma restraining, stopping] The fourth of the eight states of yoga, consisting of various methods of regulating the breath. The three forms of prāṇāyāma are puraka (the inhaling); kumbhaka (the retaining); and rechaka (the exhaling). Any practice of Prāṇāyāma can be fraught with serious danger, not merely to physical health, but in extreme cases to mental balance or stability. Prāṇāyāma, when actually practiced according to the exoteric rules, is a very different thing from the excellent and common sense advice given by doctors to breathe deeply, and to fill the lungs with fresh air. Prāṇāyāma should never be practiced by anyone unless under the guidance of initiated teachers, and these never proclaim themselves as teachers of Prāṇāyāma, for the adepts use it only in rarest cases for certain pupils who for karmic reasons can be helped in this unusual and extraordinary way. (From Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary (ETG)) (Bh.G. IV 30)

Pṛthā The name of the daughter of Sura, a Yadava prince, who gave her to his childless cousin Kuntī (or Kuntībhoja) by whom he was adopted – hence she was called Kuntī (q.v.). She is the mother of the Pāṇḍavas. Throughout the text Arjuna is referred to as the son of Pṛthā, Pārtha. (Bh.G. 20)

Purujit A hero on the side of the Pāṇḍavas, brother of Kuntībhoja (q.v.). (m. conquering many. Bh.G. 2)

Puruṣa lit. ’Man’: used in the sense of the Ideal Man (i.e., the Primordial Entity of Space), likewise for the Spiritual Man in each human being – equivalent to Spiritual Self. Puruṣa also sometimes stands as an interchangeable term with Brahmā, the Evolver or ‘Creator.’ In another aspect Puruṣa (Spirit) is equivalent to the energic force in the universe of which Prakṛti (Matter) is the other pole. Puruṣa and Prakṛti are but the two primeval aspects of the One and Secondless. They produce all things, but they are essentially one and not two. (S.D. I, 281) (Bh.G. 59, see also 96.)

Puruṣottama [from puruṣa man, spirit + uttama best, highest, primordial] The best of men; metaphysically, the divinity within the heart of all things, the supreme spirit of the universe. Also a title of Viṣṇu (Bh.G. X 15)