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



Vaisya lit.  ‘A man who settles on the soil’ thus a peasant or working-man. The third of the four social classes or castes into which society was divided in Hindusthan. It also referred to one whose occupation was that of trade as well as of agriculture. (Bh.G. 69)

Vaivasvata-Manu The name of the seventh Manu (q.v.) who presides over the present Manvantara: lit. the sun-born Manu, also called Satya-vrāta because of his piety. He is sometimes described as one of the 12 Adityas (q.v.), and is regarded as the progenitor of the present race of living beings. In the Mahābhārata Vaivasvata is the hero of the deluge. As the story runs, while he was observing his devotions by the side of the river, he was interrupted in his worship by a small fish who entreated the monarch to shield him from the larger fish who was about to seize his victim. Being moved by compassion, Vaivasvata placed the little fish in a vase, but was very soon astonished to find that the receptacle could no longer contain it. Whereupon the fish was placed in a larger vessel. But the fish kept on growing, so that in time no tank was large enough to hold him, therefore the river became his abode. Still the fish grew so much in girth, that he had to be transferred to the ocean. Then the fish commanded Vaivasvata to build a ship and place himself and the 7 Ṛṣis on it, and fasten the prow to his horn, for a deluge would soon overwhelm the earth. Having done as he was bid, upon entering the vessel, Vaivasvata and the Ṛṣis were towed off by the fish and were thus saved from the flood. Finally they were brought to Himavat (the Himalayas), where Vaivasvata landed and thereafter repeopled the earth.

“In the Satapatha Brāhmana, Manu finds that ‘the Flood had swept away all living creatures, and he alone was left’ – i.e., the seed of life alone remained from the previous dissolution of the Universe, or Maha-pralaya, after a ‘Day of Brahma’; and the Mahābhārata refers simply to the geological cataclysm which swept away nearly all the Fourth Race to make room for the Fifth. Therefore is Vaivasvata Manu shown under three distinct attributes in our esoteric Cosmogony: (a) as the ‘Root-Manu’ on Globe A in the First Round; (b) as the ’seed of life’ on Globe D in the Fourth Round; and (c) as the ‘Seed of Man’ at the beginning of every Root-Race – in our Fifth Race especially.” (S.D. II, 146-7) (from vivasvat, the sun. Bh.G. 30)

Varna-saṅkara (or –saṁkara) Confusion or mixture of castes through intermarriage. (comp. varṇa, a caste – referring especially to the four castes as enumerated in the Bhagavad-Gītā; saṁkara, mixing or blending together. Bh.G. 7)

Varśa A district. The geography of the Mahābhārata depicts seven dvīpas (q.v.), the central one, Jambu-dvīpa, corresponding to our earth (Globe D). This dvīpa is divided into nine parts termed varśas as follows: (1) Bhārata, or India, situated south of the Himalayas, the southernmost division; (2) Kimpuruṣa; (3) Harivarśa; (4) Ila-vṛta, the central varśa containing Mount Meru; (5) Ramyaka; (6) Hi-ran-Māyā; (7) Uttara-Kuru; (8) Bhadrasva, east of Ila-vrita; (9) Ketu-mala, west of the central varśa. Uttara-Kuru was the varśa of the northern Kurus, described as a country of eternal beatitude. (Bh.G. p. ii)

Varaha-Upaniṣad The name of a text of the Varaha School of the Kṛṣṇa-Yajur-Veda (q.v.): not one of the Vedic Upaniṣads. (Bh.G. 31)

Varūṇa One of the most ancient deities of the Vedas, regarded therein as the personification of the all-embracing sky, maker and upholder of heaven and earth: the king of the universe, king of gods and earth and possessor of illimitable knowledge, ruling principally, however, over the night while Mitra reigned over the day. In later times Varūṇa was regarded as chief of the Adityas (q.v.); later still he was allocated to the waters as god of the sea and rivers, riding upon the Makara (q.v.). In the Vedas Varūṇa is connected with the ‘element of water’ and the ‘waters of space,’ but with descending cycles the original spiritual idea associated with the deities of the ancients being lost sight of in the effort to attach material significance to the gods, Varūṇa – in common with other deities – became associated with the visible fluids. Varūṇa is made the regent of the Western quarter. A moral character is also associated with the deity: he is represented as binding all guilty mortals with a noose (i.e., the mortal was bound in the net of his own actions). “Varūṇa, ‘without whom no creature can even wink,’ was degraded like Uranos [Ouranos], and, like him, he fell into generation, his functions, … having been lowered down from heaven to earth by exoteric anthropomorphism.” (S.D. II, 268) (Bh.G. 75)

Vāsava A name applied to Indra (q.v.), especially in his character of leader of the Vasus (q.v.). (Bh.G. 73)

Vāsudeva lit. ’Son of Vasudeva’ – a name applied to Kṛṣṇa, because of his birth in the family of Vasudeva and Devaki. The Mahābhārata also explains that Kṛṣṇa is thus called from his dwelling (vasanat) in all beings, from his issuing as a Vasu from a divine womb. (Bh.G. 55)

Vasuki The king of the Nāgas (q.v.) in Patala. He is sometimes made the same as the serpent of Viṣṇu, Śeṣa or Ananta. (q.v.); again he is distinct (as in the text of Bh.G. 74).

Vasus A particular class of deities, eight in number, associated with Indra: they form one of the nine Gaṇas (classes of deities) mentioned in the Vedas. The Vasus are named: Apa (water), Dhruva (the pole-star), Soma (the Moon), Dhara or Dhava (the Earth), Anila (wind), Pavaka or Anala (fire), Prabhasa (dawn), Pratyusha (light). The Ramāyāna regards them as children of Aditi. A verse in Manu says: “The wise call our fathers Vasus” (iii, 284). (Bh.G. 74)

Vāyu The god of the wind, also called Pavana. In the Vedas he is associated with Indra, and rides in the golden chariot of the god of the sky. One hymn calls him the son-in-law of Tvaṣṭri (the artificer of the gods), while another gives his origin as arising from the breath of Puruṣa (q.v.). His particular regency is the northwest quarter of the heavens. In the Mahābhārata the god of the wind is represented as the father of Bhīma, and also the father of Hanuman. The Viṣṇu-Purāṇa makes Vāyu the king of the Gandharvas (q.v.). The ancient meaning attaching to ‘air’ was “one of the five states of matter, namely the gaseous; one of the five elements, called, as wind, Vata. … The trinity of the mystic gods in Kosmos closely related to each other, are ‘Agni (fire) whose place is on earth; Vāyu (air, or one of the forms of Indra), whose place is in the air; and Sūrya (the sun) whose place is in the air.’ (Nirukta.) In esoteric interpretation, these three cosmic principles, correspond with the three human principles, Kama, Kama-Manas and Manas, the sun of the intellect.” (Theos. Gloss. 361) (Bh.G. 85)

Vedānta lit. ’End of the Veda,’ i.e., complete knowledge of the Veda. The name is particularly associated with the Uttara-mīmāṁsā school (the third of the six Hindu systems of philosophy), as this school especially studied the latter portion of the Veda. The reputed founder of the Vedānta is Vyāsa (q.v.), but its chief exponent was Śankarāchārya, who especially taught the Advaita (‘non-dual’) aspect, hence his followers are called Advaita-Vedāntins. In brief: the Advaita system teaches that nothing real exists but the One Self, or Soul of the Universe, called Brahman or Paramatman, and that the Jīvātman (individual human soul or monad), and in fact all phenomenal manifestations of nature, are really identical with Paramātman; their apparent separate existence is due to Ajñāna (nescience, ‘non-wisdom’). A proper understanding of the Vedānta removes this Ajñāna. “The Vedas are, and will remain for ever, in the esotericism of the Vedānta and the Upaniṣads, ‘the mirror of the eternal Wisdom.’ “ (S.D. II, 484) The nearest exponent of the Esoteric philosophy “is the Vedānta as expounded by the Advaita Vedāntists,” (S.D. I, 55). (Bh.G. 108)

Vedas The ancient sacred literature of the Hindus. There are four Vedas known as the Ṛg-Veda, the Yajur-Veda, the Sāma-Veda, and the Atharva-Veda. Their origin is ascribed to divine revelation (śruti), and Hindus as well as Theosophical students place their period at many thousands of years before the Christian era. They state that the Vedas were taught orally for thousands of years and then finally were compiled on the shores of the sacred lake Manasa-Sarovara by Veda-Vyāsa (about 3100 B.C.). It is quite apparent that the original authorship is not by one person, inasmuch as various hymns are attributed to various Vedic Sages. They are written in a style of Sanskṛt different from any other literary works.

The Vedas are divided into two main portions: the mantra part (hymns in verse), and the Brahmana part consisting of liturgical, ritualistic and mystic treatises in prose. With the latter are closely connected the Āraṇyakas and Upaniṣads. “Between the Vedas and the Purāṇas there is an abyss of which, both are the poles, like the seventh (ātmic) and the first or lowest principle (the physical body) in the Septenary constitution of man. The primitive, purely spiritual language of the Vedas, conceived many decades of millenniums earlier, had found its purely human expression for the purpose of describing events taking place 5,000 years ago, the date of Kṛṣṇa’s death (from which day the Kali Yuga, or Black-Age, began for mankind).” (S.D. II, 527) *vid, to know. Bh.G. 15)

Vichitravīrya The younger son of Santanu (q.v.) and Satyavatī who became king of the Kurus when his elder brother Chitrangada (an arrogant and proud man) was killed as a young man in a battle with a Gandharva of the same name. Vichitravīrya married Ambikā and Ambalikā, the two daughters of the king of Kasi but died childless. (Bh.G. p. iii)

Vikarna One of the hundred sons of Dhṛtaraṣṭra, following the lead of his elder brother, Duryodhana. (Bh.G. 3)

Virata The raja of Virata (a country in the midland or northwest districts of India – in about the position of the modern province of Berar). It was at the court of this king that the Pāndavas spent the last year of their exile in disguise – as imposed upon them by Duryodhana. Because of the many services rendered to him by the Pāndavas, Virata lent his aid to the sons of Pāndu. (Bh.G. 2)

Viṣṇu The second aspect of the Hindu Trimūrti (Brahmā being the first and Śiva the third): the most prominent of deities, especially in his character of Sustainer and Preserver of all manifestation – equivalent to the Logos. In the Vedas, however, the conception of the Trimūrti is not present: Viṣṇu is mentioned with the other gods as the personification of the sun and light, he is described as striding across the heavens in three paces, explained as the three manifestations of light – fire, lightning, and the sun. It is in the epic poems and Purāṇas that Viṣṇu becomes the most worshiped deity, riding on Garūda (q.v.), or again resting on Ananta(q.v.). Brahmā (‘the creator’) is represented as springing from a lotus arising from Viṣṇu’s navel, while the latter slept on the waters of space; while Śiva (‘the destroyer’) sprang from his forehead. In his character of the preserver, Viṣṇu manifests in the world in the form of Avataras, ten principal ones being enumerated, the seventh and eighth being Rāma and Kṛṣṇa. (See Bh.G. pp. 30-31) “Viṣṇu is, as well as Adam Kadmon, the expression of the universe itself; and … his incarnations are but concrete and various embodiments of the manifestations of this ‘Stupendous Whole.”‘ (I.U. II, 277) *vis, to enter, to pervade. Bh.G. 73)

Viśvas (also Viśve-devas) A class of deities: according to the Purāṇas represented as the sons of Viśva (the daughter of Dakṣa), and named: Vasu, Satya, Kratu, Dakṣa, Kala, Kama, Dhriti Kuru, Pururavas, Madravas, Rochaka (or Lochana), Dhvani. They are particularly worshiped at Sraddhas – a ceremony of reverential homage unto deceased relatives performed by the offering of water daily (as recommended by Manu); and supplicated at Piṇḍa services – balls of rice and meal offered at regular intervals (see Bh.G. 7). (m. all-pervading. Bh.G. 81)

Vitteśa lit. ’Lord of wealth,’ the name of Kuvera (or Kubera), the god of wealth. In the Vedas, Kuvera is represented as the chief of the evil beings or spirits of darkness (having the name VaiśRāvana, i.e., the son of Viśravas by Idavidā). In later times Kuvera is represented as the lord of riches and wealth, the chief of the Yakṣas, and the regent of the northern quarter, thus answering to one of the four great Guardians (Māhārājas). In the Ramāyāna, Kuvera was the possessor of Lanka, but he was expelled therefrom by his half-brother, Rāvana; whereupon he performed such austerities that he was granted the regency of the domain of wealth, and named guardian of the northern quarter. He is described as a white man greatly deformed in body, having three legs and only eight teeth. (Bh.G. 73)

Vivaśvat lit. ’The brilliant one’ – a name of the Sun. In epic poetry (and also in the Rig-Veda) regarded as the father of Vaivasvata-Manu (q.v.), the seventh or present Manu. *vi-vas, to shine forth. Bh.G. 30)

Vṛṣni A descendant of Yadu, the first of the Yadava line, which became extinct with Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa was therefore called Varṣṇeya, ‘descendant of Vriṣṇi.’ Yadu was also the half-brother of Puru (the ancestor of the Kurus and founder of the Paurava line). (Bh.G. 27)

Vyāsa The celebrated sage and author, regarded as the original compiler and arranger of the Vedas and Vedānta-sutras (hence called Veda-Vyāsa – Vyāsa meaning an arranger, a compiler). In the Mahābhārata it is related that Vyāsa was the half brother of Vichitravīrya and Bhīṣma, his parents being the Ṛṣi Paraśara and Satyavatī. Because of his dark complexion he was called Kṛṣṇa, and on account of being born on a dvīpa (island) in the Jumuna (Yamuna, Jumna), he received the name Dvaipāyana. Although he had retired into the wilderness in order to become a hermit, his mother implored him to wed the childless widowed wives (Ambikā and Ambalikā) of Vichitravīrya, and he thus became the father of Dhṛtaraṣṭra and Pāndu – parents of the Kurus and Pāndavas respectively, by whom the great conflict was waged. Vyāsa is also regarded as the compiler of the Mahābhārata, the narrator of the Bhagavata-Purāṇa, and author of other Purāṇas. The Purāṇas mention 28 Vyāsas – represented as incarnations of Brahmā or Viṣṇu, descending upon earth for the purpose of arranging and promulgating the Vedas and other sastras.

‘Vyāsa’ is indeed a term applied to the highest gurus in India, “for that which he explains, interprets and amplifies is a mystery to the profane. … There were many Vyāsas in Āryavarta; one was the compiler and arranger of the Vedas; another, the author of the Mahābhārata – the twenty-eighth Vyāsa or revealer in the order of succession – and the last one of note was the author of Uttara Mīmāṁsā, the sixth school or system of Indian philosophy. He was also the founder of the Vedānta system.” (Theos. Gloss. 367) (Bh.G. p iii and 72)