This glossary contains an alphabetical list of Buddhist terms that you may find on this website. The glossary includes English, Sanskrit and Tibetan terms. The list of terms is expanding and new listings are added regularly. Search for the term you want by entering it in the search box, or browse through the listing by clicking on the letters below.

The Great Exposition (Hinayana) School of the four schools of Buddhist philosophy.

One of the five buddha types (Dhyani Buddhas), white in color, representing mirror-like wisdom and the purification of the form aggregate.

The ancient capital of the Licchavis, located in modern Bihar. Buddha visited the city many times and it was here that he turned the final Wheel of Dharma.

Literally, “adamantine”, often translated as “thunderbolt” but usually left untranslated, the vajra is the four- or five-spoke implement used in tantric practice.

Implements used during tantric rituals: the vajra, held in the right hand, symbolizes bliss and the bell, held in the left, emptiness.

Male meditational deity; the form through which Shakyamuni Buddha revealed the teachings of secret mantra.

The buddha of power. A male meditational deity embodying the power of all enlightened beings to accomplish their goals.

Male meditational deity symbolizing the inherent purity of all buddhas. A major tantric purification practice for removing obstacles created by negative karma and the breaking of vows.

Female meditational deity; consort of Heruka.

The adamantine vehicle; the second of the two Mahayana paths. It is also called Tantrayana or Mantrayana. This is the quickest vehicle of Buddhism as it allows certain practitioners to attain enlightenment within a single lifetime. See also tantra.

Female meditational deity from the mother class of highest yoga tantra; sometimes a consort of Heruka.

The holiest town in India for Hindus; on the Ganges, very close to Sarnath, where the Buddha taught The Four Noble Truths Sutra.

An Indian scholar and brother of Asanga, Vasubandhu wrote many commentaries and philosophical texts, including the Abhidharmakosha. He co-founded the Cittamatra school and is one of six great Indian scholars, known as the Six Ornaments.

One of the five extreme views where we see our constantly changing aggregates as permanent and uncaused. Also called the “reifying view of the perishable aggregates.”

The Buddha's teachings on ethical discipline (morality), monastic conduct and so forth; one of the three baskets. See also Sutra and Abhidharma.

The deep analysis of an object, usually emptiness, that conjoins with calm abiding (shamatha) to gain the direct realization.

Positive karma; that which results in happiness.

The “noble friend” or “friend of virtue”, the term refers to the spiritual teacher or guru.

One of the six groups of mental factors, the factor that turns the overall apprehension of the object from its opposite, non-desire from desire and so forth. There are eleven: faith, shame, embarrassment, non-desire, non-hatred, non-ignorance, effort, pliancy, conscientiousness, equanimity, and non-harmfulness. 

Precepts taken on the basis of refuge at all levels of Buddhist practice. Pratimoksha precepts (vows of individual liberation) are the main vows in the Hinayana tradition and are taken by monks, nuns, and lay people; they are the basis of all other vows. Bodhisattva and tantric precepts are the main vows in the Mahayana tradition. See also Vinaya vows of individual liberation. See Pratimoksha.

The mountain near Rajgir where the Buddha taught the Heart Sutra.