7 Sanskrit words you already know

So many Sanskrit words have made their way into the English language we speak today. We frequently use Sanskrit words in our everyday conversations without even realising their origins. Here are some Sanskrit words you probably know already!

1. Guru (goo-roo)

A Sanskrit term for mentor, guide, or teacher, Guru is a word often used in English. Originally only referring to a personal teacher or spiritual guide in Hinduism, the word Guru has evolved to mean an expert, an acknowledged leader, and a teacher of intellectual matters.  

2. Karma (car-ma)

In Sanskrit, Karma is an action or deed and its effects and consequences. It refers to the result of a person’s actions, as well as the actions themselves. This word is commonly used in English to refer to talk about the cycle of cause and effect.

3. Yoga (yo-gaa)

The word Yoga is not identical in Sanskrit and English, rather it originates from the Sanskrit word “Yuj”. Yuj means to join or unite.

In English, Yoga refers to a spiritual discipline that unites and brings harmony to the body and mind.

4. Nirvana (nir-vaa-ṉa)

Nirvana is a concept that represents liberation and detachment from worldly suffering. It is the central concept in Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu philosophy, marking the end of the cycle of rebirth.

In Sanskrit, the word Nirvana means “blown out” or “extinguished”. Nirvana is synonymous with another common Sanskrit-to-English word Moksha.

5. Ayurveda (Aa-yur-ved)

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of natural medicine, practiced all over the world. The term Ayurveda in Sanskrit means “the knowledge of life”. When split into two, Ayur translates to life and veda means science or knowledge. 

6. Avatar (Av-taar)

The English word Avatar originates from the Sanskrit word with the same spelling. In Sanskrit, Avatar means “descent”. The concept of Avatar refers to the reincarnation or physical manifestation of a spirit or deity in human or animal form. 

The word made its way to the English language in 1748 to mean an incarnation or human appearance of a deity, particularly Vishnu. In modern English, Avatar has a variety of meanings, including an electronic image in a computer game and a human embodiment or reincarnation.

7. Asana (Aa-sun)

In Sanskrit, the word Asana means seat. Asana is traditionally defined as the seated posture and has evolved to encompass any posture practiced in Hatha Yoga. 

In Sanskrit, Asana is also used as a suffix after the names of yoga poses. 

Dozens of other words in the English language have their roots in Sanskrit, including jungle, loot, zen, and even juggernaut!

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