Definition - What does Lila mean?

Lila is a Sanskrit term that has a range of translations and uses within Hinduism and yogic philosophy. Primarily, its meanings tend to derive from its rough translation as the noun, “play”; although, it is said that the word has more richness and depth than this simple translation.

One use of the term, lila, is by non-dualist philosophical schools to describe all reality. According to these schools, the entire cosmos and all the activity within them is simply the outcome of the creative play of Brahman, or The Absolute. Therefore, all reality is lila. In dualistic schools, such as Vaishnaivism, lila can refer to the activities of God, as well as the actions of the manifest universe.

Yogapedia explains Lila

Lila accurately describes the notion within yogic philosophy that the whole world is the spontaneous creation of Brahman. It is sportive and playful, as opposed to self-conscious or volitional in intention. Lila emphasizes the fact that the world is born in freedom and playful creativity, rather than necessity. In this way, the whole world can be seen as a stage for this lila, or divine play. It is an illusion to see the actions on the stage as real, and those who see them in this way are said to be under the spell of maya. In other yogic schools and teachings, lila is used to denote the divine play of male and female.

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