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M

Mad elephant offense

offense against the lotus feet of a Vaiṣṇava.

Madana-mohana-mohinī

Rādhārāṇī, the enchanter of the enchanter of Cupid.

Madana-mohana

the name of Kṛṣṇa which means “He who charms Cupid.”

Mādana

a category of highly advanced ecstasy in which the lovers meet together and there is kissing and many other symptoms.

Madana

Cupid, the demigod who incites lusty desires in the living beings.

Mada

madness, a vyabhicāri-bhāva; also, intoxication.

Mādhāi

see: Jagāi and Mādhāi

Mādhava

a name for the Supreme Personality of Godhead meaning “He who appeared in the Madhu dynasty.” It is also a name for the Yadu dynasty; also a name of Kṛṣṇa comparing Him to the sweetness of springtime or the sweetness of honey.

Mādhukarī

a saintly mendicant who takes a little food from each householder’s place like a bee gathering honey; a system of begging adopted by a mendicant.

Madhupati

name of Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā.

Madhura-rasa

see: Mādhurya-rasa below.

Mādhurya-bhaktas

devotees engaged only in conjugal love.

Mādhurya-līlā

Lord Kṛṣṇa’s pastimes of conjugal love with His eternal associates.

Mādhurya-rasa

the spiritual relationship in conjugal love which the Supreme Lord and His devotee reciprocate as lovers.

Mādhurya-rati

see: Mādhurya-rasa above.

Madhusūdana

a name of Kṛṣṇa, “killer of the Madhu demon.”

Madhvācārya

a great thirteenth-century Vaiṣṇava spiritual master, who preached the theistic philosophy of pure dualism. The founder of the dvaita school of Vedānta philosophy. He wrote a number of works which refuted the impersonal philosophy of Śaṅkarācārya. He appeared in the 13th century in Udipī, in South India. He took sannyāsa at the age of twelve, traveled all over India and had the personal darśana of Śrīla Vyāsadeva in the Himalayan abode of Badarikāśrama and presented his commentary on Bhagavad-gītā before that venerable sage. He also received a śālagrama-śīla called Aṣṭamūrti from Vyāsa. He was very powerful both physically and intellectualy, and was considered to be an incarnation of Vāyu, the wind god.

Madhva

Also known as Ānandatīrtha and Pūrṇaprajña, ācārya Ma-dhva re-established the Brahmā Sampradāya in the thirteenth century AD. He is considered to be the avatāra of Vāyu and Hanumān. A prolific writer and undefeatable in debate, he established Dvaita Vedānta in direct opposition to Śaṅkarācārya’s Advaita Vedānta. Śrīla Jīva Go-svāmī acknowledged Madhva’s works as an inspiration for his own writings on acintya-bheda-abheda philosophy. See Advaita, Dvaita, Four Vaiṣṇava Sampradāyas and Siddhāntas, Śaṅkarācārya, Vedānta.

Madhya-līlā

the pastimes Lord Caitanya performed during the middle part of His manifest presence, while He was traveling throughout India; the portion of the Caitanya-caritāmṛta recounting those pastimes.

Madhyama-adhikārī

devotee who worships the Lord with firm faith, makes friends with His devotees, preaches to the innocent, and avoids atheists; Madhyama-bhāgavata

Madirā

a wife of Vasudeva.

Madirekṣaṇā

refers to one whose eyes are so attractive that one who observes them becomes maddened by her. In other words, madirekṣaṇā means a very beautiful young girl. According to Jīva Gosvāmī, madirekṣaṇā means the personified deity of bhakti. If one is attracted by the bhakti cult, he becomes engaged in the service of the Lord and the spiritual master, and thus his life becomes successful. Vaidarbhī, the woman, became a follower of her husband. As she left her comfortable home for the service of her husband, a serious student of spiritual understanding must give up everything for the service of the spiritual master. As stated by Viśvanātha Cakravartī Ṭhākura, yasya prasādād bhagavat-prasādaḥ: if one wants actual success in life, he must strictly follow the instructions of the spiritual master. By following such instructions, one is sure to make rapid progress in spiritual life. This statement by Viśvanātha Cakravartī is in pursuance of the following injunction from the Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ “Unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master, all the imports of Vedic knowledge are automatically revealed.” (Śvetāśvatara Upaniṣad 6.23) ataḥ śrī-kṛṣṇa-nāmādi na bhaved grāhyam indriyaiḥ sevonmukhe hi jihvādau svayam eva sphuraty adaḥ “No one can understand Kṛṣṇa as He is by the blunt material senses. But He reveals Himself to the devotees, being pleased with them for their transcendental loving service unto Him.” (Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu 1.2.234) bhaktyā mām abhijānāti yāvān yaś cāsmi tattvataḥ tato māṁ tattvato jñātvā viśate tad-anantaram “One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God.”

These are Vedic instructions. One must have full faith in the words of the spiritual master and similar faith in the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Then the real knowledge of ātmā and Paramātmā and the distinction between matter and spirit will be automatically revealed. This ātma-tattva, or spiritual knowledge, will be revealed within the core of a devotee’s heart because of his having taken shelter of the lotus feet of a mahājana such as Prahlāda Mahārāja.6.23]: yasya deve parā bhaktir yathā deve tathā gurau tasyaite kathitā hy arthāḥ prakāśante mahātmanaḥ“Only unto those great souls who have implicit faith in both the Lord and the spiritual master are all the imports of Vedic knowledge automatically revealed.” In the Chāndogya Upaniṣad it is said, ācāryavān puruṣo veda: “One who approaches a bona fide spiritual master can understand everything about spiritual realization.”

Mādrī

the co-wife (with Kuntī) of King Pāṇḍu. She conceived Nakula and Sahadeva from the Aśvinī Kumāra demigods. She entered the fire with her husband.

Magadha

a province of ancient India; also the capital city of King Jarāsandha.

Māgha-melā

a yearly fair held during the month of Māgha at Prayāga for spiritual upliftment.

Mahā-bhāgavata

a pure devotee of the Supreme Lord in the highest stage of devotional life; Uttama-adhikārī-a first-class devotee who is expert in Vedic literature and has full faith in the Supreme Lord; he can deliver the whole world; The Sanskrit term bhagavata refers to a devotee of Bhagavān Śrī Kṛṣṇa. A mahā-bhagavata is a great or first-class Vaiṣṇava devotee.

Mahā-bhāva

the highest stage of love of God.

Mahābhārata

An important and famous itihāsa (historical) scripture belonging to the smṛti section of the Vedic scriptures. The Mahābhārata narrates the history of the great Kuru dynasty of kṣatriyas (warriors) that was annihilated by the Kurukṣetra war. Contained within the Mahā-bhārata is the Bhagavad-gītā. See Bhagavad-gītā.

Mahā-bhūtas

The five material elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. See Elements.

Mahā-dvādaśī

the day after Ekādaśī, celebrated instead of Ekādaśi because of astronomical overlapping. Lord Kṛṣṇa calls it Ekādaśī if a fast is observed on that day.

Mahā-lakṣmī

Lakṣmī-the goddess of fortune and the eternal consort of the Supreme Lord as Lord Nārayaṇa, who resides in the unlimited spiritual realm of Vaikuṇtha.

Mahā-mahā-prasādam

the remnants of food left by a pure Vaiṣṇava.

Mala

string of 108 beads made from Tulsasi wood used for chanting or Japa-the soft recitation of the Kṛṣṇa’s holy names as a private meditation, with the aid of 108 prayer beads.

Mahā-mantra

the great chanting for deliverance: Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare; is the great mantra composed of the principal names of Godhead in their vocative forms. This maha-mantra is found in the Purāṇas and Upaniṣads and is specifically recommended for chanting in this age of Kali as the only means of God realization. Lord Caitanya personally designated it as the mahā-mantra and practically demonstrated the effects of the chanting.

Mahā-māyā

the material nature; the external potency of the Supreme Lord, which bewilders the conditioned living entities. She is personified as Durgā-devī; the illusory, material energy of the Supreme Lord.

Mahā-paṇḍita

a very learned person.

Mahā-prasādam

sanctified food that consists of remnants from the plate offered directly to Kṛṣṇa in His Deity form.

Mahat

Literally, very great, this word is often used in the Vedic scriptures to signify the immeasurability of material nature.

Mahat-tattva

The first stage of creation, in which the ingredients of subsequent creations are displayed within material nature. The ingredients appear when the three modes of material nature are activated by the glance of Mahā-Viṣṇu. See Modes of nature, Prakṛti, Viṣṇu.

Mahapuri

one of the pilgrimage cities in India where residence brings salvation. The seven maha-puris are Mathura, Ayodhya, Hardwar, Varanasi, Kanchi, Ujjain, and Dwarka.

Mahā-pūrṇa

the highest level of perfection.

Mahā-puruṣa

the Supreme Lord, who is the supreme enjoyer.

Mahā-ratha

a powerful warrior who can single-handedly fight against ten thousand others.

Mahā-snāna

a vast bath with ghee and water used to bathe the Deity.

Mahā-vadānyāvatāra

Lord Caitanya, the most magnanimous incarnation.

Mahā-vākya

transcendental sound vibration.

Maha-Viṣṇu

the expansion of the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu reclining on Ādi-Sesa, from whom all material universes emanate; See Supersoul, Viṣṇu.

Mahābhārata-tatparya-nīrṇaya

Madhvācārya’s commentary on the Mahābhārata.

Mahābhārata

an ancient, Sanskrit, epic history of Bhārata, or India composed by Krṣṇa Dvaipāyana Vyāsadeva, the literary incarnation of Godhead, in 100,000 verses. The essence of all Vedic philosophy, the Bhagavad-gītā, is a part of this great work. Maha-bhārata is a history of the earth from its creation to the great Kurukṣetra war fought between the Kuru and Pāṇdava factions of the Kaurava dynasty, which took place about five thousand years ago. The battle was waged to determine who would be the emperor of the world: the saintly Yudhiṣthira, a Vaiṣṇava king, or the evil-minded Duryodhana, the son of Dhrtarastra.

Mahābhuta

(mahā-great + bhuta-element) the five great material elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether.

Mahādeva

Lord Śiva-the guṇa-avatāra who is the superintendent of the mode of ignorance (tamoguṇa) and who takes charge of destroying the universe at the time of annihilation. He disguised himself as a Kirāta and fought with Arjuna over a boar. Lord Śiva was pleased with Arjuna and gave him a benediction of the Paśupati astra by which he could kill Jayadratha. He also gave a benediction to Aśvatthāmā that he could kill the remaining soldiers on the side of the Pāṇḍavas while they were sleeping in their tents. He is also considered the greatest Vaiṣṇava, or devotee, of Lord Kṛṣṇa. He is confused by some with the Supreme Lord.

Mahājana

one of the twelve great self-realized souls, authorized agents of the Lord whose duty is to preach the cult of devotional service to the people in general; one who understands the Absolute Truth and throughout his life behaves likes a pure devotee.

Mahākāśa

(lit., the greatest sky of all) the space occupied by Goloka Vṛndāvana.

Mahal

palace or house.

Mahāprabhu

supreme master of all masters; Lord Caitanya.

Mahārāṇī

wife of the king or the ruler in her own right.

Mahārāja

king, ruler, sannyasi (renounced order of life)

Mahāraurava

a hell wherein animal killers are sent.

Maharloka

a heavenly planet.

Mahātmā

a “great soul” an exalted devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, free from material contamination. one who factually understands that Kṛṣṇa is everything and who therefore surrenders unto Him.

Maheśvara

the supreme proprietor. Śiva-the guṇa-avatāra who is the superintendent of the mode of ignorance (tamoguṇa) and who takes charge of destroying the universe at the time of annihilation. He disguised himself as a Kirāta and fought with Arjuna over a boar. Lord Śiva was pleased with Arjuna and gave him a benediction of the Paśupati astra by which he could kill Jayadratha. He also gave a benediction to Aśvatthāmā that he could kill the remaining soldiers on the side of the Pāṇḍavas while they were sleeping in their tents. He is also considered the greatest Vaiṣṇava, or devotee, of Lord Kṛṣṇa. He is confused by some with the Supreme Lord.

Mahendra

Lord Indra, the King of heaven.

Mahiṣa

buffalo demon who was killed by Durgā.

Mahodara

one of the one hundred sons of Dhṛtarāṣṭra. He was killed by Bhīma. (Droṇa Parva in Mahābhārata)

Maidan

open square or park.

Maināka

this mountain was the son of Himavan during the Satya-yuga, when mountains had wings. Its wings were clipped, and it was placed in the ocean by Indra.

Maitreya Muni

the great sage who spoke Śrīmād-Bhagāvātām to Vidura, who gave advice to the Pāṇḍavas during their exile in the forest. He cursed Duryodhana that Bhīma would fulfill his vow.

Makara-dhvaja

“The sex-god is called Makara-dhvaja.” SB 3.28.32. See also: Cupid.

Mālā

chanting with beads.

Malayadhvaja

a nice devotee who is like sandalwood.

Malina-aṅgatā

the ecstatic symptom of uncleanliness.

Mallikā

a sweet-scented flower of Vṛndāvana.

Mālyavān

a great demon.

Mamatā

an intimate attachment between the servitor and the served in devotional service.

Mānasa-gaṅgā

a sacred river that flows in Vṛndāvana along part of the base of Govardhana Hill.

Mānasarovara

a lake north of India, near Mount Kailāsa.

Mānā

standard of measurement for rice and grain.

Māna

when the lover feels novel sweetness by exchanging hearty loving words but wishes to hide his feelings by crooked means.

Mandapam (mandapa)

halls of the temple, often with many pillars. They are one or more entrance porches or halls that lead to the vimana or inner sanctum.

Mandarācala

the mountain used by the demigods and demons to churn the ocean of milk and thus extract nectar.

Mandir

temple

Maṅgala-arati

the daily predawn worship ceremony honoring the Deity of the Supreme Lord.

Maṇimān

a Yakṣa who was killed by Bhīmasena. (Vana Parva in Mahābhārata)

Maṇimā

an address used for respectable persons in Orissa.

Manīṣā

intelligence.

Mañjarī

the small, purplish flowers of the tulasī plant. Mañjarīs, along with tulasī leaves, are offered only to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They must be fresh.

Manjughoṣā

a society lady of the heavenly planets.

Manomaya

(consciousness) absorbed in mental activity.

Mantra

(man-mind + tra-deliverance) a pure sound vibration when repeated over and over delivers the mind from its material inclinations and illusion. A transcendental sound or Vedic hymn, a prayer or chant; Combining the Sanskrit terms manas (mind) and trayate (to deliver), a mantra is a spiritual sound that frees consciousness from illusion. The Vedic scriptures are composed of many thousands of mantras. Mahā-mantra means great mantra; it is a synonym for the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra: Hare Kṛṣṇa Hare Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa Hare Hare Hare Rāma Hare Rāma Rāma Rāma Hare Hare

Manu-saṁhitā

the scriptural lawbook for mankind, written by Manu, the administrative demigod, and father of mankind.

Manuṣya-gaṇa

mankind.

Manu

Svayambhuva Manu, a demigod son of Brahmā who is the original father and lawgiver of the human race; also, a generic name for any of the fourteen universal rulers also known as Manvantara-avataras, who appear in each day of Lord Brahmā. Their names are 1) Svayambhuva; 2) Svārociṣa; 3) Uttama; 4) Tāmasa; 5) Raivata; 6) Cākṣusa; 7) Vaivasvata; 8) Savarṇi; 9) Dakṣa-sāvarṇi; 10) Brahma-sāvarṇi; 11) Dharma-sāvarṇi; 12) Rudra-sāvarṇi; 13) Deva-sāvarni; 14) Indra-sāvarṇi.

Manvantara-avatāras

the incarnations of the Supreme Lord who appear during the reign of each Manu (306,720,000 years); used as a standard division of history.

Manvantara

the duration of each Manu’ s reign

Marakata-maṇi

an emerald.

Maratha

ruling group from Maharashtra in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Mārga

road.

Marīci

one of the great sages born directly from Lord Brahmā.

Māriṣā

the society girl of the heavenly planets sent by Indra to seduce the sage Kaṇḍu.

Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi

an ancient sage who narrated the Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa, which, describes the nature of Krṣṇa. He beheld the Lord lying down on a Banyan leaf during the period of universal devastation

Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa

the Purāṇa of Mārkaṇḍeya Ṛṣi.

Markaṭa-vairāgya

false renunciation; literally, the renunciation of a monkey.

Martya-loka

the “world of death,” the earth.

Martya

a description of Kṛṣṇa indicating that because of His affection for His devotees He appears like an ordinary human being.

Marudloka

the planet of the Maruts, associates of King Indra.

Maruts

the demigod associates of King Indra, the gods of the air. They number forty-nine and are sons of Diti.

Marxism

The rationalist political and economic doctrine of the nineteenth century German social revolutionary Karl Marx (1818-1883). Marx is considered to be a materialist, but his materialism is special. He believed the material (especially economic) facts of a society determine its mental aspects: social laws, religion, culture and other patterns of thought. In short, Marx believed the material determines the mental. But materialism is actually the belief that the material is the mental. Marx was much influenced by the idealist Hegel, whose philosophy of history predicted the progressive development of human consciousness towards knowledge of the absolute. Marx translated that notion of progress into economic terms. But the historical end he foresaw for humanity perpetual communisms idealistic, not materialistic. According to materialism, nothing is perpetual except primordial matter. Phenomena are ever-changing. Hence, no social system can be permanent. Theorist of economy that he was, Marx was not able to provide for his wife and children. He and his family were supported by his fellow revolutionary Friedrich Engels, a rich man’s son. See Humanism, Idealism, Materialism, Rationalism.

Maryādā-laṅghana

a violation of the regulative principles.

Masjīd

a mosque.

Mātā Śacī

the mother of Lord Śri Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the daughter of Nilāmbara Cakravartī and the wife of Śrī Jagannātha Miśra.

Mātali

the charioteer of Indra. He took Arjuna to the heavenly planets. (Vana Parva in Mahābhārata)

Mata

mother.

Materialism

A very broad category of philosophy containing many shades of theory. The main points are that everything in existence is only matter in motion. According to some materialists, mind exists, but only as an effect of matter in motion. Other materialists say mind has no existence at all. All agree there is no God, there is no first cause or prime mover and that life is not eternal. All phenomena change, eventually pass out of existence, returning back again to a primordial eternal material ground in an eternal retransformation of matter. Marxists claim to be materialists, but the doctrine taught by Karl Marx has idealistic tendencies. See Idealism, Marxism, Mind/body problem, Scepticism.

Maṭha

a temple of the Lord with an attached residence or āśrama for brahmacārīs (celibate students) and sannyāsīs (renunciants) to live; monastery.

Mathurā

Lord Kṛṣṇa’s abode, and birth place, surrounding Vṛndāvana. At the end of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s manifest līlā, Vajra, His grandson, was put in charge of this sacred city. Lord Krsṇa displayed His pastimes after leaving Vṛndāvana. It is also the name of the district where Vraja (Vṛndāvana) is located.

Matiar

peas.

Mati

attention, a vyabhicāri-bhāva.

Mātsarya

envy.

Matsya

the fish incarnation of the Supreme Lord.

Maugdhya

assuming the position of not knowing things although everything is known.

Mauṣala-līlā

the pastimes of the annihilation of the Yadu dynasty and Lord Kṛṣṇa’s disappearance.

Maya Dānava

the architect of the demons.

Māyā-śakti

Māyā-illusion; an energy of Krṣna’s which deludes the living entity into forgetfulness of the Supreme Lord. That which is not, unreality, deception, forgetfulness, material illusion. Under illusion a man thinks he can be happy in this temporary material world. The nature of the material world is that the more a man tries to exploit the material situation, the more he is bound by māyā’s complexities.

Māyā-sukha

material happiness, which is illusory and temporary.

Moha

illusion.

Māyā-vaśa

subjected to the influence of the illusory energy.

Māyādhīśa

the Lord of all energy.

Māyāvāda

the impersonal philosophy first propounded by Śaṅkarācārya, which proposes the unqualified oneness of God and the living entities (who are both conceived of as being ultimately formless) and the nonreality of manifest nature; the philosophy that everything is one and that the Absolute Truth is not a person.

Mayāvādī

one who propounds the philosophy of Śaṅkarācārya, which basically holds that God is featureless and impersonal, that devotion to a personal Godhead is false, the material creation of the Lord is also false, and the ultimate goal of life is to become existentially one with the all-pervading, impersonal Absolute.

Māyāvāda philosophy

Māyāvāda in Sanskrit means doctrine of illusion. In India, the philosophies of the Buddha and of Śaṅkarācārya are called Māyāvāda. The second grew out of the first. The fundamental principles accepted by both are the following:

  1. name, form, individuality, thoughts, desires and words arise from māyā or illusion, not God;
  2. māyā cannot be rationally explained, since the very idea that anything needs explaining is itself māyā;
  3. the individual self or soul is not eternal, because upon liberation it ceases to exist;
  4. like māyā, the state of liberation is beyond all explanation.

The main difference between the two is that Śaṅkarācārya’s Māyāvāda asserts that beyond māyā is an eternal impersonal monistic reality, Brahman, the nature of which is the self. Buddhism, however, aims at extinction (nirodha) as the final goal. Of the two, Śaṅkarācārya’s Māyāvāda is more dangerous, as it apparently derives its authority from the Vedas. Much word-jugglery is employed to defend the Vedic origins of Śaṅkarācārya’s Māyāvāda. But ultimately Māyāvādīs dispense with Vedic authority by concluding that the Supreme cannot be known through śabda, that the name of Kṛṣṇa is a material vibration, that the form of Kṛṣṇa is illusion, and so on. The Śaṅkarites agree with the Buddhists that nāma-rūpa (name and form) must always be māyā. Therefore Vaiṣṇavas reject both kinds of Māyāvāda as atheism. Buddhists generally do not deny that they are atheists, whereas the Śaṅkarite Māyāvādīs claim to be theists. But actually they are monists and pantheists. Their claim to theism is refuted by their belief that the Supreme Self is overcome by māyā and becomes the bound soul. Śaṅkarācārya’s Māyāvāda is similar in significant ways to the Western doctrine of solipsism. Like solipsism, it arrives at a philosophical dead end. The questions that remain unanswered are: If my consciousness is the only reality, why can’t I change the universe at will, simply by thought? And if my own self is the only reality, why am I dependent for my life, learning and happiness upon a world full of living entities that refuse to acknowledge this reality? See Brahmajyoti, Brahman, Buddhism, Four Vaiṣṇava Sampradāyas and Siddhāntas, Monism, Pantheism, Śaṅkarācārya, Scepticism, Solipsism, Six systems.

Māyā

illusion; an energy of Krṣna’s which deludes the living entity into forgetfulness of the Supreme Lord. That which is not, unreality, deception, forgetfulness, material illusion. Under illusion a man thinks he can be happy in this temporary material world. The nature of the material world is that the more a man tries to exploit the material situation, the more he is bound by māyā’s complexities; This is a Sanskrit term of many meanings. It may mean energy; yoga-māyā is the spiritual energy sustaining the transcendental manifestation of the spiritual Vaikuṇṭha world, while the reflection, mahā-māyā, is the energy of the material world. The Lord’s twofold māyā bewilders the jīva, hence māyā also means bewilderment or illusion. Transcendental bewilderment is in love, by which the devotee sees God as his master, friend, dependent or amorous beloved. The material bewilderment of the living entity begins with his attraction to the glare of the brahma-jyotir. That attraction leads to his entanglement in the modes of material nature. According to Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura, māyā also means that which can be measured. This is the feature of Lord Kṛṣṇa’s prakṛti that captures the minds of scientific materialists. The Vaiṣṇava and Māyāvāda explanations of māyā are not the same. See Māyāvāda philosophy, Modes of nature, Spiritual world.

Mechanomorphism

In Contemporary Scientific Mythology (1957), Stephen Toulmin wrote: We are inclined to suppose that myths must necessarily be anthropomorphic, and that personification is the unique road to myth. But this assumption is baseless; the myths of the twentieth century, as we shall see, are not so much anthropomorphic as mechanomorphic. In mechanomorphism, God or the total universe is conceived in terms of mythical machines. See Anthropomorphism.

Mela

fair, festival.

Menakā

the famous society girl of the heavenly planets who seduced the sage Viśvāmitra.

Meru

a mountain, the golden peak of Himavan, seat of Lord Śiva, abode of the demigods. Also called Maha-meru.

Metaphysics

This is one of the four main branches of philosophy (besides epistemology, ethics and logic). Metaphysics inquires into reality beyond sense perception. It typically holds sense perception to be illusory. The term metaphysics comes from the Greek phrase, t met t physik, the things past the physics. See Epistemology, Ethics, Logic, Philosophy.

Method

In philosophy, method is what must be done to attain knowledge. In Vedic language, method corresponds to vidhi (injunction), which together with artha-vāda (explanation) and mantra (transcendental chants) forms the very substance of knowledge itself.

Mezze

Middle Eastern hors d’oeuvres or appetizers. Mezze is essentially a Lebanese creation but has spread throughout the Middle East. Delicious vegetarian mezze included in this book are fresh, round Middle Eastern Breads (Pita) and dips such as Chickpea and Sesame Dip (Hummus), Lebanese Eggplant Dip (Babagannonj, and Syrian Yogurt Cheese Labreh). Lebanese Bulgur Wheat Salad (Tabbouleh) invariably appears on the mezze banquet table, as do varieties of Stuffed Vine Leaves (Dolmades), along with simple items such as slices of cucumber, olives, fresh raw or blanched vegetables, nuts, whole cooked chickpeas, and lemon wedges.

Mīmāṁsakas

atheistic philosophers who say that even if God exists He is obliged to reward us the fruits of our work. From karma-mimāṁsā philosophy of Jaiminī-the atheistic propounder and philosopher of Karma-mimāṁsā philosophy, and author of the Karma-mīmāṁsā-sūtras, which explain the Vedas in ritualistic terms, and advocate material work as the purpose of life. He theorized that if fruitive activity is performed nicely, then God is obliged to give the results.

Mīmāṁsā

see: above

Mind

Some prominent theories of the mind are the following: 1) it is an eternal transmigrating soul; 2) it is a product of the action of the soul upon the body; 3) it is a non-material substance totally unlike the body; 4) it is a succession of mental events; 5) it is a by-product of the body; 6) it is a function of the form of the body, as vision is to the form of the eye; 7) it is function of the organism as a whole; 8) it is the behavior patterns of the body; 9) it is identical to the brain; 10) it is matter in motion. None of these theories exactly correspond to the Vedic version, and some are completely materialistic. The Vedas state that the seed of the mind is the desire of the soul. If desire is pure, the mind that develops out of it is spiritual. If desire is impure, then what develops is subtle matter in the mode of goodness. The development of the mind of the living entity is governed by the Supersoul (Aniruddha). According to Lord Kṛṣṇa, the functions of the mind are saṅkalpa-vikalpa (acceptance and rejection; see SB 11.2.38). See Consciousness, False ego, Intellect, Mind/body problem, Modes of nature, Soul, Subtle body, Supersoul.

Mind/body problem

Throughout history, philosophers of the East and West have offered speculations about the exact nature of the relationship between the mind and the body. They can be grouped under the following headings: 1) Dualism: mind/body as two substances, mental and material. 2) Logical Behaviorism: mind as the logic of the body’s behavior. 3) Idealism: mind/body as one substance, mind. 4) Materialism: mind/body as one substance, matter. 5) Functionalism: mind as the functions of input, processing, output, analogous to the functions of a computer. 6) Double aspect theory: mind/body as aspects of a substance that is neither mental nor physical. That substance is supposed by different philosophers to be the totality of everything, or a neutral monistic stuff, or the fundamental concept person, of which mind and matter are aspects. 7) Phenomenology: mind/body as a problem of experience, rather than a problem of theory. The mind/body duality is really a problem of the materialistic soul’s intention toward matter, from which all dualities arise. The mind and body of the bound soul are material. The mind and body of the liberated soul are spiritual. See Consciousness, Dualism, False ego, Gross body, Idealism, Intellect, Logic, Materialism, Mind, Modes of nature, Phenomenology, Soul, Subtle body, Supersoul.

Mirabai

poetess, author of popular devotional songs.

Miśra-sattva

mundane goodness.

Mithila

capital of the kingdom of Videha, ruled by King Janaka, fathet of Sita. Modern Janatput, Nepal.

Mitra

the demigod who controls death.

Mleccha

someone lower than a śūdra.

Mlecchas

uncivilized humans, outside the Vedic system of society, who are generally meat-eaters.

Modes of nature

There are three guṇas, or modes of material nature: goodness (sattva-guṇa), passion (rajo-guṇa) and ignorance (tamo-guṇa). They make possible our mental, emotional and physical experiences of the universe. Without the influence of the modes, thought, value judgement and action are impossible for the conditioned soul. The English word mode, as used by Śrīla Prabhupāda in his translations of Vedic literature, best conveys the sense of the Sanskrit term guṇa (material quality). Mode comes from the Latin modus, and it has a special application in European philosophy. Modus means measure. It is used to distinguish between two aspects of material nature: that which is immeasurable (called natura naturans, the creative nature) and that which seems measurable (called natura naturata, the created nature). Creative nature is a single divine substance that manifests, through modes, the created nature, the material world of physical and mental variety. Being immeasurable (in other words, without modes), creative nature cannot be humanly perceived. Created nature (with modes) seems measurable, hence we do perceive it. Modus also means a manner of activity. When creative nature acts, it assumes characteristic modes of behavior: creation, maintainance and destruction. Bhagavad-gītā (14.3-5) presents a similar twofold description of material nature as mahat yoni, the source of birth, and as guṇa prakṛti, that which acts wonderfully through modes. Material nature as the source of birth is also termed mahad-brahman, the great or immeasurable Brahman. Mahad-brahman is nature as the divine creative substance, which is the material cause of everything. Material cause is a term common to both European philosophy (as causa materialis) and Vedānta philosophy (as upadāna kāraṇa). It means the source of ingredients that make up creation. We get an example of a material cause from the Sanskrit word yoni, which literally means womb. The mother’s womb provides the ingredients for the formation of the embryo. Similarly, the immeasurable creative nature provides the ingredients for the formation of the material world in which we live, the seemingly measurable created nature. The clarity of this example forces a question: what about the father, who must impregnate the womb first before it can act as the material cause? This question is answered by Kṛṣṇa, the speaker of the Bhagavad-gītā, in verse 14.4: ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā, I am the seed-giving father. In Vedānta philosophy, this factor of causation is termed nimitta-mātram (the remote cause). It is important to note that by presenting creation as the result of the union of two causes (the material and the remote), the Bhagavad-gītā rejects the philosophy of Deus sive natura, the identity of God and nature. In short, though creative nature may be accepted as the direct cause of creation, it is not the self-sufficient cause of creation. The seed with which Kṛṣṇa impregnates the womb of creative nature is comprised of sarva-bhūtānām, all living entities (Bg. 14.3). And Bg. 14.5 explains that when Kṛṣṇa puts the souls into the womb of material nature, their consciousness is conditioned by three modes, or tri-guṇa. The modes are three measures of interaction between conscious spirit and unconscious matter. The modes may be compared to the three primary colors, yellow, red and blue, and consciousness may be compared to clear light. The conditioning (nibhadnanti: they do condition) of consciousness upon its entry into the womb of material nature is comparable to the coloration of light upon its passing through a prism. The color yellow symbolizes sattva-guṇa, the mode of goodness. This mode is pure, illuminating, and sinless. Goodness conditions the soul with the sense of happiness and knowledge. The color red symbolizes the rajo-guṇa, the mode of passion, full of longings and desires. By the influence of passion the soul engages in works of material accomplishment. The color blue symbolizes tamo-guṇa, the mode of ignorance, which binds the soul to madness, indolence and sleep. As the three primary colors combine to produce a vast spectrum of hues, so the three modes combine to produce the vast spectrum of states of conditioned consciousness that encompasses all living entities within the universe. See Kṛṣṇa, Threefold miseries.

Moghul

the Muslim dynasty of Indian Emperors starting from Babur.

Mohana

highly advanced ecstasy in which the lovers are separated; divided into udghūrṇā and citra-jalpa.

Moha

bewilderment, a vyabhicāri-bhāva; illusion.

Mohinī

the incarnation of the Supreme Lord as a most beautiful woman. She distributed the nectar produced from the churning of the ocean of milk. She was also pursued by Lord Śiva.

Monism

From the Greek mnos, single. It is generally taken to mean the doctrine of oneness argued by Māyāvādī philosophers, that reality is without variety and matter is an illusion. Vaiṣṇavas explain monism differently: all things in the universe occur out of the activity of one fundamental essence or substance, the Supreme Lord. See Atheism, Māyāvāda philosophy, Theism.

Mokṣa-kāmī

one who desires liberation.

Mokṣākāṅkṣī

see: Mokṣa-kāmī above.

Mokṣa

liberation from material bondage; See Liberation.

Mokṣonmukhī

pious activities that enable the living entity to merge into the existence of the Supreme.

Monolith

a monument, statue or temple carved out of a single stone.

Monotheism

The doctrine that there is only one God (from Gr. mnos, only, alone, plus thes, God). See Atheism, Theism.

Monsoon

rainy season from June to October.

Moṭṭāyita

awakening of lusty desires by the remembrance and words of the hero.

Mṛdaṅga

a two-headed clay drum used for kīrtana performances and congregational chanting.

Mṛttikā

clay derived from wet earth.

Mṛtyu

death personified, a vyabhicāri-bhāva.

Mūḍha

a fool or rascal; asslike person.

Muhammed

See Avatāra (Śaktyāveśa).

Muhūrta

a period of forty-eight minutes.

Mukta-puruṣa

a liberated soul.

Mukti-devī

the demigoddess who is the personification of liberation.

Mukti-pāda

the Supreme Lord under whose feet exist all kinds of liberation.

Mukti

liberation of a conditioned soul from material consciousness and bondage.

Mukunda

the name of Kṛṣṇa meaning “the giver of liberation.”

Mūla-mantra

a short Sanskrit incantation uttered before one offers an item of worship to the Deity of Kṛṣṇa or His expansions.

Mukunda-datta

Madhukantha, famous singer of Vrajabhumi

Mukut

a crown or tiara worn by the Deity.

Mumukṣu

one who desires liberation from the material world.

Muni-putra

the son of a sage.

Muni

a sage or self-realized soul.

Muraripu (Muradviṣa)

the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, the killer of the demon Mura

Murāri

Kṛṣṇa, the enemy of the demon Mura.

Mūrti

form of the Lord or His devotee.

Mysticism

From the Greek mystes, one initiated into the mysteries or secrets of higher knowledge. Andrew Weeks, a scholar of this subject, points out the difficulty of coming to clear terms with what mysticism actually is: The concept of mysticism is controversial and ambiguous in its core. There is no agreement among scholars on the question of who ought to be classified as a mystic. (from German Mysticism, 1993, p. 3) St. John of the Cross, a Christian mystic, wrote: In order to arrive at that which thou knowest not, Thou must go by a way that thou knowest not. In order to arrive at that which thou possesseth not, Thou must go by a way that thou possesseth not. As Śrīla Prabhupāda once said, Mystical means misty. See Brahmajyoti, Ecstasy, Sphoṭavāda.

Mystic yoga

yoga performed for the purpose of developing subtle material powers.

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