Definition - What does Bhagwan mean?

Bhagwan is a Hindu term that refers to “god” or “lord,” particularly Krishna and other Vishnu incarnations, as well as Shiva. It is also a title of honor bestowed upon a guru or some other revered individual. In northern India, the term may represent the abstract concept of god to those Hindus who do not worship a specific deity. In some sects, it is an honorific for a spiritual leader that the sect considers enlightened.

Bhagwan comes from the Sanskrit bhaga, meaning “fortune” or “wealth.” It translates as “fortunate” and “blessed.” The term is also spelled bhagavan, bhagvan and bhagawan.

Yogapedia explains Bhagwan

Bhagwan does not show up in early Hindu texts such as the Vedas or Upanishads, but the term does appear in later literature such as the Bhagavad Gita and the Puranas. The "Vishnu Purana" defines bhagwan as “he who understands the creation and dissolution, the appearance and disappearance of beings, the wisdom and ignorance...”

In Hinduism, bhagwan indicates the Supreme Being or an abstract concept such as the Absolute Truth when conceived as a personal deity. This personal aspect differentiates bhagwan from similar terms such as Brahman.

In yoga classes, "Jai bhagwan" is a greeting similar to "Namaste." It translates as “may the Divine in you be victorious," among other translations.

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