An Etymological Exposition of the Various
NAMES OF GOD
From Satyarth Prakash (Light of Truth) by Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati
(from the root Rajri to illuminate, with the prefix vi
and the suffix kwip added to it)
Signifies God, because He illuminates this multiform universe.
(from the root anchu which signifies gati and worship.
Gati means to know, to move or go, to realize)
Connotes God, because He is all-knowledge, Omniscient and worthy of
adoration, fit subject to be known, sought after and realized.
(from vish to reside)
Means God, because all the world and worldly objects dwell in Him and
He resides in all of them.
(Hiranya--light and garbha--source)
Means One who is the source and support of all light and luminous bodies
such as the sun. This is also substantiated by the Yajur Veda,
"In the beginning was Hiranyagarbhya--the One Lord of the creation.
He sustains the sun and the earth. We adore Him--the all Blissful Being."
(from the root Va to move, to kill)
Means One who is the life and support of the Universe, the cause of
its dissolution, mightier than the mightiest.
(from Teja to shine or enlighten)
One who is Resplendent and gives light to the sun and other luminous
(from Ish--power, knowledge)
One whose knowledge and power are infinite
(from a--not, do--to break, decay)
One who never dies or decays--is Immortal.
(from Pre--perfectly and Jna--to know)
One whose knowledge is perfect, Who is Omniscient.
All of the above, and All below, and All that which is between. The
Beginning, the Middle, and the End. That which is Before, and That which
is After. That which is Beyond, and beyond the Beyond. Om is the Supreme
Name of the Supreme Self.
(from nimid to love)
Signifies God, because He loves all and is worthy of being loved by
(from vri--good or vara--to desire)
One who is the best, holiest of all and desired and sought after by
all righteous, pious and learned men who are seekers after truth and salvation.
(from re to obtain, to go and ma to respect)
One who respects or honours the good and the just, and punishes the
wicked--the Great Judge who gives souls the fruits of their deeds, good
One who is all-powerful.
( pa--to protect or govern, Vriha--great)
One who is greatest among the great, and governs the entire universe.
One who pervades the entire universe, both animate and inanimate.
One who possesses infinite energy.
(brih or brihi--to lord)
One who rules over all.
One who is the abode of all and greater than all.
One who is the life and light of the universe, both animate and inanimate.
One who pervades the soul as well as the material universe.
(para--great, atma--see above)
One who is holier than the soul, subtler and more powerful than the
soul and matter, who pervades and controls the soul.
(Param--great, I'shwara--powerful, see No. 7)
One who is All-powerful among the powerful--who is Almighty.
One who is the Creator of the universe.
(from the root div, which means to operate, desire to win, work,
illuminate, praise, please, punish, sleep desire and know)
One who operates in the universe and governs it and does all His works
by His Own powers without help from others; Who desires or helps the good
and the righteous to win over their enemies and is Himself invincible,
gives all power and means to work; Who knows everything and is just and
glorious, illuminates and enlightens all, is worthy of praise, All-blissful,
bestows happiness on others, punishes the wicked and gladdens the hearts
of the good and Himself enjoys perpetual bliss; Who has ordained night
for all to sleep and rest, and is the cause of dissolution, when He causes
souls to rest in the indefinable, imperceptible, primeval elementary matter--prakriti;
Whose will is holy and Who is desired and sought after by the good, and
Who pervades all and knows all.
(kuvi--to cover or spread)
One who covers all or overspreads all.
One who has spread this extensive universe.
( jala--to beat)
One who beats or punishes the wicked and beats the atoms into shape,
or beats them asunder in the Creation or Dissolution of the universe,
(kash--to illuminate or enlighten)
One who illuminates or enlightens the whole world.
(from ad to eat)
One who eats or absorbs into Himself or contains the universe, animate
and inanimate. As grubs are born in the inside the fruit of a Fig tree,
live and die in the same, so the universe is born, lives and perishes
(vas--to abide or dwell)
One who dwells in all things, and is the abode of all.
(Rudir--to shed tears)
One who makes the wicked and the unjust shed tears. It is said in the
Shatapatha Brahmana, "Whatever a man thinks, he speaks; whatever
he speaks the same he acts; whatever he acts, he reaps." In other
words, a man reaps whatever he sows. When the wicked suffer pain in consequence
of their sins at the hand of Divine Justice, they wail and weep. He is,
therefore, called Rudra.
(Nara--water and souls, ayana--abode)
Signifies God, because He is the abode of souls and pervades them.
One who is All-bliss, and gives pleasure and happiness to others.
(mang--has the same meanings as gati, see No. 2)
One who is All-blissful, and showers bliss on the soul.
One who is All-knowledge and endows souls with knowledge.
One who is All-holy, and by Whose contact souls are also purified.
(shanaish--with ease, char--to go, eat)
One who reaches or gains access to all with ease, and possesses great
(rah--to avoid, reject)
He Who is one without admixture of anything else. Who rejects the wicked,
and frees others from the hands of the wicked.
(kit--to abide or reside and cure disease)
One Who is the abode of the universe, free from death and disease. He
frees the emancipated souls from disease and suffering during the period
(yaj--to shine, worship, combine, devise and give)
One who combines the different elements together and evolves this world
and its objects out of them, Who is worthy of being worshipped by the
wise, was worshipped by all the sages and seers from Brahma downwards
and will always be. He is the Omnipresent God. "Yanja is the Omnipresent
God", says the Shatapatha Brahmana.
(hu--to give or take)
One who gives all that is worth giving to souls and receives from them
what is worth receiving.
(bundha--to bind, connect)
One who keeps all the worlds bound by laws to Himself, and helps to
keep them in order so that they cannot move out of their orbit or the
laws of their constitution. He is like a brother unto all the world and
supports, protects, and gives happiness to all.
(pa--to protect, rear)
One who protects all. Just as a father, through paternal love and kindness
always desires the good of His children, even so does God--the Father
of all--desire happiness for all.
The Father of fathers.
God is named mata (mother), because He has happiness and prosperity
of all souls at heart just as an earthly mother, out of extreme love and
kindness, desires happiness and prosperity for her offspring.
(char--to conduct, move, go and, eat)
God is called so because He is the source of all true knowledge and
righteousness. It is through Him we receive knowledge, and live virtuous
The Teacher of all true knowledge and learning Who revealed the Word
of Salvation (Vedas) in the beginning of the world; the Teacher of even
all the early teachers such as Agni, Vayu, A'ditya, Angira and Brahma.
He is Immortal. Says the Yogashastra, "He is the Teacher
of even the most ancient teachers. He is Immortal. Time cannot influence
(aja--to combine, join, manifest or evolve)
One who combines the elements and atoms properly, and evolves the world
out of them; unites bodies with souls, and brings them out into the world,
which is called their birth. He is Himself never born.
(brihi--to develop, multiply)
One who has created the world and multiplies it.
One who is the true embodiment of existence among all existences.
One who knows all the world, animate and inanimate. "The Great
God is Satya Jnana and Ananta"--Tatiriya Upanishad.
One who has no limitations, boundaries, end, or dimensions.
One who has no beginning, nor a first cause.
One who is All-blissful and endows the emancipated souls with bliss
and bestows happiness on the good and the righteous.
One who exists in all times--the past, the present and the future--and
is not limited by time.
One who is a truly conscious Being and endows souls with true knowledge
of difference between right and wrong.
One who is a truly conscious, blissful Being.
One Who is Firm, Immovable, Immortal, Eternal.
One who is Himself pure and purifies others.
One who is always free from all sin and impurity, and frees souls from
sin and suffering.
63. Nitya shudha budha mukta subhava
One who is Eternal, Holy, Omniscient and Free.
One who has no form nor body nor is ever embodied.
(Nir--no, anj--form, colour, immorality, disorder)
One who is free from immoral conduct, disorders, etc., nor is He the
object of senses such as the eyes.
One who is the Lord of hosts, i.e., of all the Material and Spiritual
world, which He also protects.
Lord of Hosts.
Lord of the Universe.
One who pervades all, supports all, and yet Himself undergoes no transformation.
This word has the same meanings as the word Deva, which is of Masculine
gender, whilst Devi is of feminine gender. God has names in all the three
One who is powerful enough to create the world.
One who is served by all saints, sages and seers.
(Laksh--to see and mark)
One who sees all the universe and endows it with distinguishing marks
or features, such as bodies with eyes, ears, etc.; trees with leaves,
fruits and flowers; liquids and solids with different colours like black,
white, red, etc.; earth with dust and rock, etc,: and sees them all. He
is the most beautiful among the beautiful. He is the chief Source of the
Vedas, of the Yogis and wisemen.
(sri, to achieve and know)
One who is possessed of infinite knowledge of the universe, of words,
their objects and their relations.
One who does not require the assistance of another in accomplishing
His works, Who by His Own innate power does all His work.
Niyaaya is what is proved to be true by all the eight kinds of evidence
such as, Direct Cognition, Inference, Analogy, etc. It is the dispensing
of justice without favour or partiality. Niyayakari is One who practices
Niyaaya, i.e., truth, justice and righteousness.
(Daya--to give, take, go, know, protect, injure)
One who makes you fearless, knows all, protects the good, and punishes
One who is only One, and indivisible without any admixture, either of
the same kind (as man and woman are of the same kind), or of a different
kind (as trees and rocks are of different kinds from man), or made up
of different parts. Consequently there is no relation of the whole to
its parts, as in the case of body with its parts such as, eyes, ears.
One who is free from the (distinguishing) properties of matter such
as, Satwa, Rajas, Tamas, colour, taste, touch, smell; and is free from
the properties of the individual soul, such as finite power and knowledge,
ignorance, passions and desires, and pain of all kinds. This definition
is substantiated by the authority of Upanishada. "He is free from
sound, touch, colour, and such other qualities."
One who possesses such attributes, as perfect knowledge, perfect bliss,
purity, and infinite power.
Everything in this universe is saguna (positive) and nirguna (negative).
For instance, the material objects are called nirguna because they are
void of the properties and powers of conscious beings, such as will and
feelings. Whilst they are also saguna (positive), because they possess
their own material properties. The same is true of God. He is saguna,
when He is looked upon as possessed of His own attributes such as Omniscience
and Omnipotence, but He is also Nirguna, being free from the properties
of matter and soul.
One who pervades the animate as well as the inanimate universe, and
82. Dharma Raja
One who is free from sin and evil, and rejoices in truth, justice and
righteousness--He is the Great Judge.
One who governs all, administers justice to all and is the personification
One who possesses all might and power, and is worthy of being served
He Who is the true embodiment of knowledge, and worthy of being known
(Pri--to fill, sustain)
One who fills the whole universe.
One who sustains and preserves the world.
One who counts and classifies the material objects and souls.
One who undergoes no change during Creation or Dissolution. He is the
one Unchangeable Eternal Being.
One who pervades the universe, is filled with all true knowledge and
righteousness, is the true Teacher of all, accessible only to the good
and the righteous, and free from such bad attributes, as dishonesty, fraud,
(sham--good, and kri--to do)
One who is the Benefactor of all, and Giver of happiness.
One who is greatest among the great, the good, and the learned, and
is the Light of the world.
(Pri--to please and desire)
One who gladdens the good, the righteous and the true seekers of salvation,
and is worthy of being sought after--The embodiment of Love.
(Swayam--self and bhu, to be)
One who is Self-existent, Uncreated.
One who is all-knowledge and reveals true knowledge through His Word
One who is all Bliss and the Giver of happiness to all.
One who is Self effulgent.
One who is the Protector and Preserver of the Universe.
One who is powerful like wind.
One who is Mighty by nature.
We have here explained the meanings of only one hundred names, but there
are millions of other names of God besides these. His names are without
number, because His nature, attributes and activities are infinite. These
hundred names are like a drop in the ocean. In the Veda and the Shastras,
the infinite attributes, powers, and characteristics of God, are described,
and can be learned by the study of those books.
Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati
Back to Table of Contents