An Etymological Exposition of the Various


From Satyarth Prakash (Light of Truth) by Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati

1. Virat

(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.

2. Agni

(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.

3. Vishwa

(from vish to reside)

Means God, because all the world and worldly objects dwell in Him and He resides in all of them.

4. Hiranyagarbha

(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, which says:--

"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."

5. Vayu

(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.

6. Taijas

(from Teja to shine or enlighten)

One who is Resplendent and gives light to the sun and other luminous bodies.

7. Ishwar

(from Ish--power, knowledge)

One whose knowledge and power are infinite

8. A'ditya

(from a--not, do--to break, decay)

One who never dies or decays--is Immortal.

9. Prajna

(from Pre--perfectly and Jna--to know)

One whose knowledge is perfect, Who is Omniscient.

10. Aum

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.

11. Mitra

(from nimid to love)

Signifies God, because He loves all and is worthy of being loved by all.

12. Varuna

(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.

13. Aryama

(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 or evil.

14. Indra

(from Idi--power)

One who is all-powerful.

15. Vrihaspati

( pa--to protect or govern, Vriha--great)

One who is greatest among the great, and governs the entire universe.

16. Vishnu

(Vishr--to pervade)

One who pervades the entire universe, both animate and inanimate.

17. Urukrama

(uru--great, krama--energy)

One who possesses infinite energy.

18. Brahma

(brih or brihi--to lord)

One who rules over all.

19. Bhumi

One who is the abode of all and greater than all.

20. Surya

One who is the life and light of the universe, both animate and inanimate.

21. A'tma

(at--to pervade)

One who pervades the soul as well as the material universe.

22. Paramatma

(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.

23. Parameshwar

(Param--great, I'shwara--powerful, see No. 7)

One who is All-powerful among the powerful--who is Almighty.

24. Savita

(su--to create)

One who is the Creator of the universe.

25. Deva

(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.

26. Kuvera

(kuvi--to cover or spread)

One who covers all or overspreads all.

27. Prithivi

(prithu--to spread)

One who has spread this extensive universe.

28. Jala

( 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, respectively.

29. Akash

(kash--to illuminate or enlighten)

One who illuminates or enlightens the whole world.

30. Anna

(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 in God.

31. Vasu

(vas--to abide or dwell)

One who dwells in all things, and is the abode of all.

32. Rudir

(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.

33. Narayana

(Nara--water and souls, ayana--abode)

Signifies God, because He is the abode of souls and pervades them.

34. Chandra

(chadi--to please)

One who is All-bliss, and gives pleasure and happiness to others.

35. Mangala

(mang--has the same meanings as gati, see No. 2)

One who is All-blissful, and showers bliss on the soul.

36. Budha

(budha--to know)

One who is All-knowledge and endows souls with knowledge.

37. Shakra

(shu--to purify)

One who is All-holy, and by Whose contact souls are also purified.

38. Shanaishchara

(shanaish--with ease, char--to go, eat)

One who reaches or gains access to all with ease, and possesses great fortitude.

39. Rahu

(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.

40. Ketu

(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 of Salvation.

41. Yajna

(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.

42. Hota

(hu--to give or take)

One who gives all that is worth giving to souls and receives from them what is worth receiving.

43. Bandhu

(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.

44. Pita

(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.

45. Pitamaha

The Father of fathers.

46. Prapitamaha

The Great-Grandfather.

47. Mata

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.

48. A'charya

(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 lives.

49. Guru

(Gri--to speak)

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 Him."

50. Aja

(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.

51. Brahma

(brihi--to develop, multiply)

One who has created the world and multiplies it.

52. Satya

(sat--to exist)

One who is the true embodiment of existence among all existences.

53. Jnana

One who knows all the world, animate and inanimate. "The Great God is Satya Jnana and Ananta"--Tatiriya Upanishad.

54. Ananta

One who has no limitations, boundaries, end, or dimensions.

55. Anadi

One who has no beginning, nor a first cause.

56. Ananda

One who is All-blissful and endows the emancipated souls with bliss and bestows happiness on the good and the righteous.

57. Sata

(asi--to be)

One who exists in all times--the past, the present and the future--and is not limited by time.

58. Chit

(chit--to know)

One who is a truly conscious Being and endows souls with true knowledge of difference between right and wrong.

59. Sachidananda


One who is a truly conscious, blissful Being.

60. Nitya

One Who is Firm, Immovable, Immortal, Eternal.

61. Shudha

(shudh--to purify)

One who is Himself pure and purifies others.

62. Mukta

(much--to free)

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.

64. Nirakara

(nir--no, akar--form)

One who has no form nor body nor is ever embodied.

65. Niranjana

(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.

66. Ganapati

(Gana--host, pati--Lord)

One who is the Lord of hosts, i.e., of all the Material and Spiritual world, which He also protects.

67. Ganesha

(Gana--host, Isha--Lord)

Lord of Hosts.

68. Vishveshwara

(Vishwa--universe, lshwara--Lord)

Lord of the Universe.

69. Kutastha

One who pervades all, supports all, and yet Himself undergoes no transformation.

70. Devi

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 genders.

71. Shakti


One who is powerful enough to create the world.

72. Shri

(shri--to serve)

One who is served by all saints, sages and seers.

73. Lakshmi

(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.

74. Saraswati

(sri, to achieve and know)

One who is possessed of infinite knowledge of the universe, of words, their objects and their relations.

75. Sarvashaktiman

One who does not require the assistance of another in accomplishing His works, Who by His Own innate power does all His work.

76. Niyayaakari

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.

77. Dayalu

(Daya--to give, take, go, know, protect, injure)

One who makes you fearless, knows all, protects the good, and punishes the wicked.

78. Adwaita

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.

79. Nirguna

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."

80. Saguna

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.

81. Antaryami

One who pervades the animate as well as the inanimate universe, and controls it.

82. Dharma Raja

One who is free from sin and evil, and rejoices in truth, justice and righteousness--He is the Great Judge.

83. Yama

One who governs all, administers justice to all and is the personification of Justice.

84. Bhagwan

(Bhag--to serve)

One who possesses all might and power, and is worthy of being served and worshipped.

85. Manu

(man--to know)

He Who is the true embodiment of knowledge, and worthy of being known and believed.

86. Purusha

(Pri--to fill, sustain)

One who fills the whole universe.

87. Vaishwambhara

One who sustains and preserves the world.

88. Kala

(kal--to count)

One who counts and classifies the material objects and souls.

89. Shesha

One who undergoes no change during Creation or Dissolution. He is the one Unchangeable Eternal Being.

90. A'pta

(ap--to pervade)

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, etc.

91. Shankara

(sham--good, and kri--to do)

One who is the Benefactor of all, and Giver of happiness.

92. Mahadeva


One who is greatest among the great, the good, and the learned, and is the Light of the world.

93. Priya

(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.

94. Swayambhu

(Swayam--self and bhu, to be)

One who is Self-existent, Uncreated.

95. Kavi


One who is all-knowledge and reveals true knowledge through His Word (The Veda).

96. Shiva

One who is all Bliss and the Giver of happiness to all.

97. Swarat

One who is Self effulgent.

98. Suparna

One who is the Protector and Preserver of the Universe.

99. Matrishwa

One who is powerful like wind.

100. Garutman

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

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