This glossary contains an alphabetical list of Buddhist terms that you may find on this website. Many of the terms now include phoneticized Sanskrit (Skt) as well as two forms of Tibetan—the phonetic version (Tib), which is a guide to pronunciation, and transliteration using the Wylie method (Wyl). Search for the term you want by entering it in the search box or browse through the listing by clicking on the letters below. Please see our Content Disclaimer regarding English terms in LYWA publications that may be outdated and should be considered in context.


All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U V W Y Z

Dhammapada (Pali)

Udanavarga (Skt); ched du brjod pa’i tshoms (Wyl)

A popular collection of sayings of the Buddha originally found in the Pali Canon. The Tibetan Dhammapada or Compilations of Indicative Verse was translated into English by Gareth Sparham and first published by Mahayana Publications, New Delhi, in 1983.


A village in the north-west of India, in Himachal Pradesh. The residence of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile.


zung (Tib); gzungs (Wyl)

The term dharani is from a Sanskrit root word that means “to hold or maintain.” Dharanis contain the essence of a teaching and are often compared to mantras, however, they are longer than mantras and are more likely to have intelligible phrases, like sutras. They are said to have the power to heal and protect from harm. Zungdu (Wyl: gzungs bsdus), a collection of dharanis found in the Kangyur, is often recommended by Lama Zopa Rinpoche.

Dhargyey, Geshe Ngawang (1921–95)

A tutor to many Gelugpa tulkus and resident teacher at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in Dharamsala, India, before leaving to establish his own centers in New Zealand, where he passed away.

Dharma (Skt)

chö (Tib); chos (Wyl)

The second refuge jewel. Literally, “that which is established” but generally etymologized as “that which holds or protects (us from suffering)” and hence brings happiness and leads us towards liberation and enlightenment. In Buddhism, absolute Dharma is the realizations attained along the path to liberation and enlightenment, and conventional Dharma is seen as both the teachings of the Buddha and virtuous actions.

dharmadhatu wisdom

dharmadhatu-jnana (Skt); chö kyi ying kyi yeshe (Tib); chos kyi dbyings kyi ye shes (Wyl)

One of the five transcendental wisdoms, the wisdom that apprehends the nature of phenomena. The other wisdoms are: mirror-like wisdom, wisdom of equality, all-accomplishing wisdom and wisdom of analysis.

dharmakaya (Skt)

truth body; chö ku (Tib); chos sku (Wyl)

The ultimate reality of a buddha’s enlightened mind, which is unborn, empty of true existence, free from conceptual thought, naturally radiant, beyond duality and spacious like the sky. One of the three embodiments of a buddha. Dharmakaya can be divided into the jnanakaya or wisdom body (the blissful omniscient mind of a buddha) and svabhavikakaya or nature body (the emptiness of the buddha's mind). See also rupakaya, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya, two kayas, three kayas and four kayas.


chökyi dragpa (Tib); chos kyi grags pa (Wyl)

A seventh-century Indian scholar and author of Seven Treatises of Valid Cognition. He is one of six great Indian scholars, known as the Six Ornaments.

Dharmarakshita (Skt)

An eleventh-century Indian scholar, a guru of Atisha and author of the mind training text The Wheel of Sharp Weapons, also known as The Wheel Weapon Striking at the Vital Points of the Enemy.

Diamond Cutter Sutra

Arya vajra-chedika prajnaparamita mahayanasutra (Skt); pak pa she rab pa röl tu chin pa dor je chö pa she ja tek pa chen pö do (Tib)

Also known as the Diamond Sutra or Vajra Cutter Sutra, one of the most popular of the Prajnaparamita, or Perfection of Wisdom sutras. The Tibetan title is often abbreviated to Dorje Chöpa.


Choglang (Tib); phyogs glang (Wyl)

A sixth-century Indian scholar and disciple of Vasubandhu, Dignaga composed the Compendium of Valid Cognition (Skt: Pramana-samuccaya). He is one of six great Indian scholars, known as the Six Ornaments.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910–91)

A great scholar and author of many popular works such as Enlightened Courage: An Explanation of Atisha's Seven-Point Mind Training and The Excellent Path to Enlightenment, Rinpoche was the head of the Nyingma school from 1987 until his death in Bhutan in 1991.

dingwa (Tib)

ding ba (Wyl)

Cloth meditation seat cover used by the Sangha.

divine pride

lhe ngargyäl (Tib); lha'i nga rgyal (Wyl)

The non-deluded pride in deity yoga practice, where the appearance of oneself as the deity is held, as an antidote to ordinary appearance. See generation stage.

dob dob (Tib)

ldob ldob (Wyl)

A monk within the Gelug monasteries in Tibet who had less interest in studying and more in worldly matters such as appearance, sport and fighting. Dob dobs usually did much of the manual labor, as well as cooking, serving tea in assemblies and caring for elderly monks.

Doga, Geshe (b. 1935)

Resident teacher for more than thirty years at Tara Institute, the FPMT center in Melbourne, Australia.

Domo Geshe Rinpoche (d. 1936)

A famous ascetic meditator in his early life who later established monastic communities in the Tibet-Nepal border area and in Darjeeling; the guru of Lama Govinda, who wrote The Way of the White Clouds.

dorje (Tib)

vajra (Skt); rdo rje (Wyl)

The magical weapon of the Vedic god Indra, made of metal and very sharp and hard; adamantine. A thunderbolt. A tantric implement symbolizing method (compassion or bliss), held in the right hand (the male side), usually in conjunction with a bell, which symbolizes wisdom and is held in the left hand (the female side).

Drepung Monastery

The largest of the three major Gelugpa monasteries; founded near Lhasa by one of Lama Tsongkhapa's disciples. Now re-established in exile in south India.

Drogön Tsangpa Gyare (1161–1211)

The Kagyü lama, a disciple of Lingrepa, who was the founder of a branch of the Drukpa Kagyü and of many monasteries, including in Bhutan.