Tantric Dictionary

The project


The aim of this project is to produce a dictionary of Hindu tantric terms that are not found in ordinary Sanskrit dictionaries or whose definition is not given according to their use in Hindu tantric literature. Definitions of Sanskrit terms are provided in three languages—English, French, and German—to which are added more detailed analyses of meaning and usage written in one of these languages depending on the choice of the author.

The project was initiated in 1993 by H. Brunner († 2005), G. Oberhammer and A. Padoux († 2017). It has been principally co-ordinated by scholars at the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Vienna), with some support when the project first began from scholars at the Collège de France (Paris). The main participants usually meet once a year to discuss editing details and to decide on the final texts of the entries. In addition, a large amount of work is done via emails between the various participants throughout the year.

The first volume (a-au) of the dictionary was published in 2000, the second (k-ḍ) in 2004, and the third (t-ph) in 2013. Two further volumes are planned. Under consideration is a revised electronic version after the publication of the final volume.

The introduction to the first volume briefly discusses the definition of what can be considered tantric and attempts to delimit the scope of the dictionary. The corpus being considered includes only Hindu tantras composed in Sanskrit, mostly prior to the fifteenth century, although this limit is being revised. The majority of the texts that are included have been or are in the process of being edited, but the dictionary also refers to manuscripts. Proper names of deities and names of mantras have been excluded, as they are too numerous and specific to certain schools. Also not included are alchemical, botanical and architectural terms, since even if they occur in texts that can be categorized as tantric, such terms would require a separate dictionary.

Sanskrit words are given in transliteration with an indication as to whether they belong to the Śaiva or Vaiṣṇava corpus or both, followed by a short definition and a more detailed discussion on meaning and usage. References to primary sources and secondary literature are supplemented with short citations if necessary, which are translated into the language of the article in question.

Participants according to their field of research


 On the Śaiva Siddhānta

  • Hélène Brunner† (CNRS, Cortaillod, Switzerland)
  • Dominic Goodall (École française d'Extrême-Orient, Paris)

 On Bhairava tantras and tantras teaching (śaiva) goddess worship

  • Teun Goudriaan (Utrecht, until 2001)
  • Shaman Hatley (University of Massachusetts, Boston)
  • Csaba Kiss (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest)
  • André Padoux† (CNRS, Paris)
  • Raffaele Torella (Università degli Studi di Roma "La Sapienza")
  • Judit Törzsök (École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris)
  • Somadeva Vasudeva (Kyoto University)

 On Śaiva philosophical literature

  • Isabelle Ratié (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris)

 On Vaiṣṇava terminology

  • Gérard Colas (CNRS, Paris, until 2002)
  • Marzenna Czerniak-Drożdżowicz (Jagiellonian University, Cracow)
  • Gavin Flood (University of Wales, until 2001)
  • Robert Leach (Universität Zürich)
  • Gerhard Oberhammer (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna)
  • Sylvia Raghunathan-Stark (until 1996)
  • Marion Rastelli (Institut für Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens, Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna)

 On Nātha texts and Yoga Upaniṣads

  • Christian Bouy† (Institut de civilisation indienne, Collège de France, Paris)

 On a range of tantric topics

  • Diwakar Acharya (University of Oxford)
  • Harunaga Isaacson (Universität Hamburg)

Request for cooperation


As the list of participants shows, our team is quite international, since such a project requires the cooperation of people with various kinds of Sanskrit background and fields of research. We would therefore like to express our hope that anyone who reads these pages and has comments or suggestions, either concerning the volumes already published or the terms we still plan to include, shall contact us through Marion Rastelli. We would particularly appreciate the following types of comments:

  • Corrections or additions to the published volumes, with textual references;
  • Suggestions on what we should (or should not) include in subsequent volumes and why;
  • Ideas about the corpus involved and suggestions of other texts we should consider.

Proposals for any new articles will be carefully considered with a view to include them with the author's name in the next volume to be published. Final decisions concerning these articles will be made at the annual meeting, as is the practice for all articles.

For a detailed discussion about what we believe this dictionary should include, see the brief statement above, or better, the introduction to the first volume. See also our List of Terms and our Sample Page. For all comments or proposed articles, please include Sanskrit textual references supporting your suggestions. For these references, please indicate the edition, page and if possible line number (in the case of manuscript sources, location and cataloguing data, full citations of sentences with folio and line numbers, as well as an indication of the script used in the manuscript and its approximate age).

Published volumes


Héléne Brunner, Gerhard Oberhammer, André Padoux, ed., 2000
Tantrikabhidhanakosa I: Dictionaire des termes techniques de la litterature hindoue tantrique - A Dictionary of Technical Terms from Hindu Tantric Literature - Wörterbuch zur Terminologie hinduistischer Tantren. (BKGA 35.) Wien: VÖAW, 2000 (order online).

Héléne Brunner, Gerhard Oberhammer, André Padoux, ed., 2004
Tantrikabhidhanakosa II: Dictionnaire des termes techniques de la litterature hindoue tantrique. A Dictionary of Technical Terms from Hindu Tantric Literature. Wörterbuch zur Terminologie hinduistischer Tantren. (BKGA 44.) Wien: VÖAW, 2004 (order online).

Marion Rastelli, Dominic Goodall, ed., 2013
Tantrikabhidhanakosa III, T–Ph: Dictionnaire des termes techniques de la litterature hindoue tantrique. A Dictionary of Technical Terms from Hindu Tantric Literature. Wörterbuch zur Terminologie hinduistischer Tantren. (BKGA 76.) Wien: VÖAW, 2013 (order online).

Further documentation


Internal pages:

Project Data


  • Direction:
    founding editors: Hélène Brunner (†), Gerhard Oberhammer, André Padoux;
    current editors: Marion Rastelli, Dominic Goodall
  • Field: Indology
  • Running period: 1993 - present
  • Cooperation: Collège de France, Paris
  • Funding: ÖAW