Abhisheka(m): Bathing–the ritual pouring of various items over a sacred image or personage in homage and worship.
Abhyasa: Sustained (constant) spiritual practice.
Adesha: A divine command from within the being; teaching, as is upadesha–teaching received while sitting near (upa).
Adhara: A reservoir of pranic energies, storage units for the energies that flow into the subtle bodies through the chakras, therefore often mistaken for a chakra.
Adhimatra: The degree of vairagya when worldly enjoyment becomes a source of pain.
Adhishthana(m): Seat; basis; substratum; ground; support; abode; the body as the abode of the subtle bodies and the Self; underlying truth or essence; background.
Adhyatma: The individual Self; the supreme Self; spirit.
Adhyatmika: Adhyatmic; pertaining to the Self (Atman or Jivatman), individual and Supreme (Paramatman).
Adinath (Adi Nath): The first teacher of the Nath Panthi, or Nath Yogi Sampradaya, usually believed to be Shiva himself.
Advaita: Non-duality; literally, “not two.”
Aghora: Not terrifying (ghora); benevolent; a title of Shiva.
Aghora Pantha: An order or sect of worshippers of Shiva (Shaivites).
Ahamkara: See Ahankara.
Ahankara: Ego; egoism or self-conceit; the self-arrogating principle “I,” “I” am-ness; self-consciousness.
Ahata: Natural sound.
Ahimsa: Non-injury in thought, word, and deed; non-violence; non-killing; harmlessness.
Ajapa Gayatri: Soham.
Ajapa japa: The natural japa (mantric sounds) made by the breath as it flows in and out: Soham.
Ajna chakra: “Command Wheel.” Energy center located at the point between the eyebrows, the “third eye.” The medulla center opposite the point between the eyebrows.
Akarma: Inaction; non-doing.
Akasha: “Not visible;” ether; space; sky; the subtlest of the five elements, from which the other four elements arise; the substance that fills and pervades the universe; the particular vehicle of life and sound; the element from which the sense of sound (shabda)–both speech and hearing–arises.
Amanitwam: Humility; absence of pride.
Anahata: “Unstruck;” “unbeaten.” Continuous bell-like inner resonance; the heart; the heart chakra; the inner divine melody (mystic sounds heard by the Yogis); supernatural sound; Soham.
Anahata chakra: “Unstruck.” Energy center located in the spine at the point opposite the center of the chest (sternum bone). Seat of the Air element.
Ananda: Bliss; happiness; joy.
Anandamaya kosha: “The sheath of bliss (ananda).” The causal body. The borderline of the Self (Atman).
Anna: In the old currency, there were sixteen annas in a rupee. In the modern currency, twenty-five and fifty pice coins are called four and eight annas, respectively, but it is not really so.
Annamaya kosha: “The sheath of food (anna).” The physical–or gross–body, made of food.
Antahkarana: Internal instrument; the subtle bodies; fourfold mind: mind, intellect, ego and subconscious mind.
Anugraha: Divine grace; attraction; favor; kindness, conferring benefits; assistance.
Apana: The prana that moves downward, producing the excretory functions in general; exhalation.
Aparigraha: Non-possessiveness, non-greed, non-selfishness, non-acquisitiveness.
Arati: A ceremony of worship in which lights, incense, camphor, and other offerings representing the five elements and the five senses–the totality of the human being–are waved before an image or symbol of the Divine.
Arjuna: The third of the five Pandava brothers. A famous warrior and one of the heroes of the Indian epic, the Mahabharata. Friend and disciples of Krishna, it was to Arjuna that Krishna imparted the knowledge of the Bhagavad Gita.
Arta: Pained; distressed; afflicted; one who is seeking/asking for relief from personal troubles or suffering.
Asana: Posture; seat; Hatha Yoga posture.
Ashram(a): A place for spiritual discipline and study, usually a monastic residence. Also a stage of life. In Hinduism life is divided ideally into four stages (ashramas): 1) the celibate student life (brahmacharya); 2) the married household life (grihasta); 3) the life of retirement (seclusion) and contemplation (vanaprastha); 4) the life of total renunciation (sannyasa).
Asmita: I-ness; the sense of “I am;” “I exist.”
Ashtanga Yoga: The “eight-limbed” Yoga of Patanjali consisting of yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, and samadhi (see separate entries for each “limb”).
Asteya: Non-stealing; honesty; non-misappropriativeness.
Asura: Demon; evil being (a-sura: without the light).
Atma(n): The individual spirit or Self that is one with Brahman. The true nature or identity.
Atmajnana: Direct knowledge of the Self; Brahma-Jnana.
Atmajnani: One who has atmajnana.
Atmarama: Satisfied–delighted–in the Self.
Atmasakshatkara: “Direct sight of the Self;” realization of the true nature of the Self; Self-realization.
Atmic: Having to do with the atma–spirit or self.
Avidya: Ignorance; nescience; unknowing; literally: “to know not.” Also called ajnana.
Avyakrita: Undifferentiated; undefined; unexpounded; inconceivable; unanswerable questions; the elementary substance from which all things were created, considered as one with the substance of Brahman.
Avyakta(m): Unmanifest; invisible; when the three gunas are in a state of equilibrium’ the undifferentiated.
Baba: A title often given to sadhus, saints and yogis, meaning “father.”
Bal(a)krishna: The child/boy Krishna.
Bandha: “Lock;” bond; bondage; tie or knot; a Hatha Yoga exercise.
Bhagavad Gita: “The Song of God.” The sacred philosophical text often called “the Hindu Bible,” part of the epic Mahabharata by Vyasa; the most popular sacred text in Hinduism.
Bhajan: Devotional singing; a devotional song; remembrance (of God).
Bhakti: Devotion; love (of God).
Bhati: Shining; self-luminous; light; splendor; intelligence, consciousness.
Bhava: Subjective state of being (existence); attitude of mind; mental attitude or feeling; state of realization in the heart or mind.
Bhavanam: Meditation. “Bhavanam is setting the heart on the Lord Who is designated by Soham and brought into the mind by It.” (Shankara, Commentary on the Yoga Sutras)
Bija: Seed; source.
Bija Mantra: A “seed” mantra from which realization grows as a tree from a seed; usually a single-syllable mantra.
Bindu: Point; dot; seed; source; the point from which the subtle Soham arises that is experienced in meditation.
Brahma: God as creator (Prajapati) of the three worlds of men, angels, and archangels–bhur, bhuwah, and swah; the first of the created beings; Hiranyagarbha or cosmic intelligence.
Brahma Sutras: A treatise by Vyasa on Vedanta philosophy in the form of aphorisms. Also called the Vedanta Sutras or Vedanta Darshana.
Brahmacharya: Continence; self-restraint on all levels; discipline.
Brahmajnana: Direct, transcendental knowledge of Brahman; Self-realization.
Brahman: The Absolute Reality; the Truth proclaimed in the Upanishads; the Supreme Reality that is one and indivisible, infinite, and eternal; all-pervading, changeless Existence; Existence-knowledge-bliss Absolute (Satchidananda); Absolute Consciousness; it is not only all-powerful but all-power itself; not only all-knowing and blissful but all-knowledge and bliss itself.
Brahmanishtha: Remaining steadfast in the Absolute (Brahman). One who is firmly established in the Supreme being, in the direct knowledge of Brahman, the Absolute Reality.
Brahmarandhra: “The hole of Brahman,” the subtle (astral) aperture in the crown of the head. Said to be the gateway to the Absolute (Brahman) in the thousand-petaled lotus (Sahasrara) in the crown of the head. Liberated beings are said to exit the physical body through this aperture at death.
Brahmavidya: Science of Brahman; knowledge of Brahman; learning pertaining to Brahman or the Absolute Reality.
Buddhi: Intellect; understanding; reason; the thinking mind.
Chaitanya: Consciousness; intelligence; awareness; the consciousness that knows itself and knows others; Pure Consciousness.
Chetana: Consciousness. Whereas chaitanya is the principle of pure consciousness, chetana is consciousness occupied with an object. It is this “consciousness” that Buddha rejected as an obstacle.
Chakra: Wheel. Plexus; center of psychic energy in the human system, particularly in the spine or head.
Charvaka: The Indian materialistic school, also known as Lokayata (“restricted to the world of common experience”). Its central teaching is that matter is the only reality, and sense perception is the only valid means of knowledge or proof. Therefore sense satisfaction is the only goal.
Chidabhasa: Reflected consciousness; the reflection of intelligence which resides in the internal organ (anthakarana).
Chidakasha: “Conscious ether” or “conscious space.” The infinite, all-pervading expanse of Consciousness from which all “things” proceed; the subtle space of Consciousness in the Sahasrara (Thousand-petalled Lotus). The true “heart” of all things.
Chitta: The subtle energy that is the substance of the mind.
Collyrium (Khol): A black substance put around the eyes. Though used cosmetically, it is considered to have medicinal properties that protect the eyes from infection or disease. It is often put around children’s eyes for this purpose.
Crore: Ten million.
Daityas: Demons who constantly war with the gods. Sometimes “races” or nationalities who acted contrary to dharma and fought against the “aryas” were also called demons (daityas or asuras); giant; titan.
Dakshina: Gift; priestly gift; sacrificial fee; donation; an offering given as a gift of gratitude; guru dakshina is that given at the time of initiation.
Darshan: Literally “sight” or “seeing.” Darshan is the seeing of a holy being as well as the blessing received by seeing such a one.
Darshana: “Seeing” in the sense of a viewpoint or system of thought. The Sad-darshanas are the six orthodox systems of Indian philosophy: Nyaya, Vaisheshika, Sankhya, Yoga, Mimamsa, and Vedanta.
Dattatreya: A famous sage, son of the Rishi Atri and Anasuya. His birth was a divine boon, hence his name: Datta–“given”–and atreya–“son of Atri.” Considered a divine incarnation and known as the Lord of Avadhutas, he is often revered as the embodiment of the Supreme Guru. He is credited with the authorship of the Avadhuta Gita, the Jivanmukti Gita, and the Tripura Rahashya.
Deva: “A shining one,” a god–greater or lesser in the evolutionary hierarchy; a semi-divine or celestial being with great powers, and therefore a “god.” Sometimes called a demi-god. Devas are the demigods presiding over various powers of material and psychic nature. In many instances “devas” refer to the powers of the senses or the sense organs themselves.
Dharana: Concentration of mind; fixing the mind upon a single thing or point. “Dharana is the confining [fixing] of the mind within a point or area” (Yoga Sutras 3:1).
Dharma: The righteous way of living, as enjoined by the sacred scriptures and the spiritually illumined; characteristics; virtue.
Dhruva: A child who performed intense tapasya to attain the vision of Vishnu; permanent; fixed; steady.
Dhvani: Tone: sound; word; the subtle aspect of the vital shakti or the jiva in the vibrations.
Dhyana(m): Meditation; contemplation.
Dhyeya: Object of meditation or worship; purpose behind action.
Divyadrishti: Divine vision.
Dosha drishti: Seeing defects; especially the defects in samsara and samsaric life.
Durbar: A royal court; a divine court of a god or goddess.
Duta: Messenger; ambassador; envoy; one who has been sent by another.
Dvaita: Dual; duality; dualism.
Dwapara Yuga: See Yuga.
Dwija: “Twice born;” any member of the three upper castes that has received the sacred thread (yajnopavita).
Eknath: A renowned Vaishnava saint of Western India (Maharashtra).
Gadi: Throne; seat; head (of a monastery).
Gajanana Maharaj: Sri Gajanana Maharaj (Gajanan Murlidhar Gupte) of Nasik in western India (Maharashtra state) was a saint of the Nath Sampradaya in the first half of the twentieth century.
Ganapati: “Lord of the Ganas” (the spirits that always accompany Shiva). See Ganesha.
Gandharva: A demigod–a celestial musician and singer.
Ganesha: The elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati; the remover of obstacles; lord (pati) of the ganas (spirits that always accompany Shiva); god of wisdom; god of beginnings; the granter of success in spiritual and material life; in ritual worship he is worshipped first, and is therefore known as Adi-deva, the First God.
Gayatri Mantra: A Rig Vedic mantra in the gayatri meter invoking the solar powers of evolution and enlightenment, recited at sunrise and sunset.
Gita: The Bhagavad Gita.
Gokul(a): The place of Krishna’s childhood; Brindaban (Vrindavan).
Gokulashtami: Birthday of Krishna.
Gorakhnath/Gorakshanath: A master yogi of the Nath Yogi (Siddha Yogi) tradition. His dates are not positively known, but he seems to have lived for many centuries and travelled throughout all of India, Bhutan, Tibet, and Ladakh teaching philosophy and yoga.
Guru: Teacher; preceptor; spiritual teacher or acharya.
Guru Dakshina: Gift given to the guru at the time of initiation.
Hamsah: “I am He/That;” swan.
Hansa: Swan; see Hamsah.
Hari: Vishnu; “thief” in the sense of stealer of hearts.
Hiranyagarbha: Cosmic intelligence; the Supreme Lord of the universe; also called Brahma, cosmic Prana, Sutratma, Apara-brahman, Maha-brahma, or karya-brahman; Samasti-sukshma-sarirabhimani (the sum-total of all the subtle bodies); the highest created being through whom the Supreme Being projects the physical universe; cosmic mind.
Ida: The subtle channel that extends from the base of the spine to the medulla on the left side of the spine.
Indra: King of the lesser “gods” (demigods); the ruler of heaven (Surendra Loka); the rain-god.
Ishta-devata: Beloved deity. The deity preferred above all others by an individual. “Chosen ideal” is the usual English translation.
Ishwara: “God” or “Lord” in the sense of the Supreme Power, Ruler, Master, or Controller of the cosmos. “Ishwara” implies the powers of omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience.
Ishwarapranidhana: Offering of one’s life to God (Ishwara).
Jagrita samadhi: Samadhi experienced in the waking state.
Jamuna: A sacred river, tributary of the Ganges, which flows through Brindaban, the home of Lord Krishna in his childhood.
Janaka: The royal sage (raja rishi) who was the king of Mithila and a liberated yogi, a highly sought-after teacher of philosophy in ancient India. Sita, the wife of Rama, was his adopted daughter.
Janardan Swami: A renowned saint of Western India (Maharashtra), a devotee of Lord Dattatreya.
Jani Janardan: God present in all human beings.
Janmashtami: Birthday of Krishna.
Japa: Repetition of a mantra.
Japa Mala: A string of beads, usually one hundred and eight, on which repetitions (japa) of a mantra are kept count of, or used just to help the yogi remember to do japa. Though one hundred and eight is the usual number of beads, smaller malas can be used when more convenient, especially since they can be put around the wrist when not in use. The beads can be of any substance, whatever is convenient or preferred.
Jijnasu: One who aspires after knowledge; spiritual aspirant.
Jiva: Individual spirit; embodied spirit; living entity; life.
Jivanmukta: One who is liberated here and now in this present life.
Jivanmukti: Liberation in this life.
Jivatma(n): Individual spirit; individual consciousness.
Jnana: Knowledge; wisdom of the Reality or Brahman, the Absolute.
Jnanamaya kosha: “The sheath of intellect (buddhi).” The level of intelligent thought and conceptualization. Sometimes called the Vijnanamaya kosha. The astral-causal body.
Jnaneshwar: A thirteenth-century saint of Maharashtra, a poet, philosopher and yogi of the Nath Yogi Panth or tradition.
Kabir: An Indian mystic of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
Kaivalya-mukti (moksha): Liberation in which the yogi becomes one with Brahman while living (jivanmukti); final emancipation.
Kali Yuga: See Yuga.
Kaliya: A monstrous serpent (cobra) that was killed by Krishna in his childhood.
Kama: Desire; passion; lust.
Kapila: The great sage who formulated the Sankhya philosophy which is endorsed by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. (See the entry under Sankhya.)
Karma: Karma, derived from the Sanskrit root kri, which means to act, do, or make, means any kind of action, including thought and feeling. It also means the effects of action. Karma is both action and reaction, the metaphysical equivalent of the principle: “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” “Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). It is karma operating through the law of cause and effect that binds the jiva or the individual soul to the wheel of birth and death. There are three forms of karma: sanchita, agami, and prarabdha. Sanchita karma is the vast store of accumulated actions done in the past, the fruits of which have not yet been reaped. Agami karma is the action that will be done by the individual in the future. Prarabdha karma is the action that has begun to fructify, the fruit of which is being reaped in this life.
Karma Marga: The path of selfless knowledge leading to union with God.
Karma Yoga: The Yoga of selfless (unattached ) action; performance of one’s own duty; service of humanity.
Karma Yogi: One who practices karma yoga.
Karmabhumi: Land of action; the earth-plane; the world of karma, where karma is sown and reaped.
Karmic: Having to do with karma.
Kashaya: Attachment to worldly objects; passion; emotion; the subtle influence in the mind produced by enjoyment and left there to fructify in time to come and distract the mind from samadhi; hidden impressions.
Katha: Tale or story; history or narrative.
Kayastha: A kayastha is a member of the Kayastha caste that is traditionally believed to be been keepers of public records and accounts, writers and state administrators. Yet their actual place in the caste system has never been really determined. In north central India the term “kayastha” is a polite and non-commital term used to refer to non-Brahmins.
Kevala kumbhaka: Sudden restraint of breath, not preceded by either inhalation or exhalation. Spontaneous breath retention, the kumbhaka which occurs during samadhi.
Kirtan(a): Singing the names and praises of God; devotional chanting.
Kosha: Sheath; bag; scabbard; a sheath enclosing the soul; body. There are five such concentric sheaths or bodies: the sheaths of bliss, intellect, mind, life-force and the physical body–the anandamaya, jnanamaya, manomaya, pranamaya and annamaya bodies respectively.
Krama mukti: Attainment of liberation in stages; gradual liberation; passing from this world to a higher world beyond rebirth and from there attaining liberation.
Krishna: A Divine Incarnation born in India about three thousand years ago, Whose teachings to His disciple Arjuna on the eve of the Great India (Mahabharata) War comprise the Bhagavad Gita.
Krishnarpana: That which has been offered to Krishna, to God.
Kriya: Purificatory action, practice, exercise, or rite; action; activity; movement; function; skill. Kriyas purify the body and nervous system as well as the subtle bodies to enable the yogi to reach and hold on to higher levels of consciousness and being.
Kriyamana: Literally: “what is being done;” the effect of the deeds of the present life to be experienced in the future; same as Agami.
Krodha: Anger, wrath; fury.
Kukarma: Negative, bad or evil action.
Kumbhaka: Retention of breath; suspension of breath.
Kundalini: The primordial cosmic consciousness/energy located in the individual; it is usually thought of as lying coiled up like a serpent at the base of the spine.
Lahiri Mahasaya: Shyama Charan Lahiri, one of the greatest yogis of nineteenth-century India, written about extensively in Autobiography of a Yogi.
Lakh: One hundred thousand.
Lila: Play; sport; divine play; the cosmic play. The concept that creation is a play of the divine, existing for no other reason than for the mere joy of it. The life of an avatar is often spoken of as lila.
Lalla Yogeshwari: A fourteenth-century yogini of Kashmir whose hymns and verses are still regarded as among the greatest treasures of Kashmiri literature and yogic lore.
Lalleshwari: See Lalla Yogeshwari.
Linga: Mark; gender; sign; symbol. Usually a reference to a column-like or egg-shaped symbol of Shiva.
Lobha: Greed; covetousness.
Loka: World or realm; sphere, level, or plane of existence, whether physical, astral, or causal. There are seven lokas: Bhuloka: The material plane of atomic matter. Bhuvaloka: The lesser astral world, similar to the material plane (Bhuloka). Swa(r)loka: The median astral world. Mahaloka: The higher astral world. Those who attain this world need never be reborn in the three lower worlds of Bhur, Bhuvah, and Swah. Janaloka: The world that embraces both the highest astral levels and the lower causal levels. Tapoloka: The median causal world exclusively inhabited by advanced spirits who perpetually engage in meditation–tapasya. Satyaloka: The highest causal world inhabited by those who have attained liberation (moksha).
Lota: A metal water vessel used for drinking, carrying, or pouring water.
Mahabharata: The world’s longest epic poem (110,00 verses) about the Mahabharata (Great Indian) War that took place about three thousand years ago. The Mahabharata also includes the Bhagavad Gita, the most popular sacred text of Hinduism.
Mahabhava: Supreme love and yearning for God, exemplified by Sri Radha.
Mahabodha: The Great Awakening.
Mahaprana: The undifferentiated, intelligent cosmic life-force that becomes the five pranas; all things contain the mahaprana and are manifestations of the mahaprana; the dynamic aspect of universal Consciousness; the superconscious Divine Life in all things.
Maharaj(a): “Great king;” lord; master; a title of respect used to address holy men.
Maharashtra: One of the largest–and the wealthiest–states in India, whose capital is Mumbai (Bombay).
Mahavakya: Literally: “Great Saying.” The highest Vedantic truth, found in the Upanishads expressing the highest Vedantic truths or the identity between the individual soul and the Supreme Soul.
Mahat Tattwa: The Great Principle; the first product from Prakriti in evolution; intellect. The principle of Cosmic Intelligence or Buddhi; universal Christ Consciousness, the “Son of God,” the “Only Begotten of the Father,” “the firstborn of every creature.”
Maheshwara: The Great Ishwara (Lord); Shiva.
Manana: Thinking, pondering, reflecting, considering.
Manas: The sensory mind; the perceiving faculty that receives the messages of the senses.
Manasarovar: A sacred lake near Mount Kailash the abode of Shiva. Pilgrims not only bathe in the lake on the way to Kailash, they often see visions in its water, hence the name “Lake of the Mind.” The present Dalai Lama was found through visions seen in Manasarovar.
Manipura chakra: Energy center located in the spine at the point opposite the navel. Seat of the Fire element.
Manomaya kosha: “The sheath of the mind (manas–mental substance).” The level (kosha) of the sensory mind. The astral body.
Mantra: Sacred syllable or word or set of words through the repetition and reflection of which one attains perfection or realization of the Self. Literally, “a transforming thought” [manat trayate], or more exactly, “a transubstantiating thought.”
Manu: The ancient lawgiver, whose code, The Laws of Manu (Manu Smriti) is the foundation of Hindu religious and social conduct.
Mara: The embodiment of the power of cosmic evil, illusion, and delusion.
Marathi: The language of Maharashtra.
Matsyendranath: Guru of Gorakhnath and the first publicly known Nath Yogi, having become a disciple of Adinath who is considered an avatar of Shiva. As with Gorakhnath, we have no dates for him.
Maya: The illusive power of Brahman; the veiling and the projecting power of the universe, the power of Cosmic Illusion.
Mayic: Having to do with Maya.
Moksha: Release; liberation; the term is particularly applied to the liberation from the bondage of karma and the wheel of birth and death; Absolute Experience.
Mudhavastha: State of ignorance or forgetfulness of one’s real nature.
Mudra: A position–usually of the hands/fingers–which inherently produces a desired state in the subtle energy levels (prana) according to the Tantric system. A Hatha Yoga posture. A position of the eyes in meditation.
Mukta: One who is liberated–freed–usually in the sense of one who has attained moksha or spiritual liberation.
Mulachaitanya: Root consciousness; seed of the creation.
Muladhara chakra: “Seat of the root.” Energy center located at the base of the spine. Seat of the Earth element.
Mulaprakriti: The Root [Basic] Energy from which all things are formed. The Divine Prakriti or Energy of God.
Mulashakti: Root power or energy; Mulaprakriti.
Mumukshu: Seeker after liberation (moksha).
Mumukshutwa: Intense desire or yearning for liberation (moksha).
Nada: Sound; the resonance of sound; mystic inner sound; the primal sound or first vibration from which all creation has emanated; the first manifestation of the unmanifested Absolute or Shabda Brahman. The inner sound of Soham experienced in meditation.
Nadi: A channel in the subtle (astral) body through which subtle prana (psychic energy) flows; a physical nerve.
Nama: Name. The Divine Name.
Nath Yogis: An ancient order of yogis, sometimes called Siddha Yogis, claiming Patanjali and Jesus (Isha Nath) among their master teachers.
Namasmarana: Remembrance (repetition) of the Name of God. Remembrance of the Lord through repetition of His name.
Narayana: A proper name of God–specifically of Vishnu. The term by etymology means a Being that supports all things, that is reached by them and that helps them to do so; also one who pervades all things. He Who dwells in man. Literally: “God in humanity.” Sadhus often address one another as Narayana and greet one another: “Namo Narayanaya”–I salute Narayana [in you].
Nath Pantha (Nathas): Various associations of yogis who trace their roots back to Matsyendranath and the Nath Yogi Sampradaya.
Nath Yogi: A member of the Nath Yogi Sampradaya.
Nath Yogi Sampradaya: An ancient order of yogis claiming Matsyendranath, Gorakhnath, Patanjali, Jnaneshwar and Jesus (Isha Nath) among their master teachers.
Nididhyasana: Meditation; contemplation; profound and continuous meditation. It is a continuous, unbroken stream of ideas of the same kind as those of the Absolute. It removes the contrariwise tendencies of the mind.
Nine Nathas: Nine great Masters of the Nath Yogi Sampradaya, including Matsyendranath and Ghoraknath.
Nirakara: Without form.
Niramaya: Without disease, defect or deficiency; health; complete; entire; pure.
Niranjana: Without blemish; spotless; stainless; untainted; pure; simple; void of passion or emotion; a title of Brahman.
Nirguna: Without attributes or qualities (gunas).
Nirguna Brahman: The impersonal, attributeless Absolute beyond all description or designation.
Nirvana: Liberation; final emancipation; the term is particularly applied to the liberation from the bondage of karma and the wheel of birth and death that comes from knowing Brahman; Absolute Experience. See Moksha.
Nirvana chakra: Energy center located at the middle of the forehead–about an inch above the Ajna chakra.
Nirvikalpa: Indeterminate; non-conceptual; without the modifications of the mind; beyond all duality.
Nirvikalpa samadhi: Samadhi in which there is no objective experience or experience of “qualities” whatsoever, and in which the triad of knower, knowledge and known does not exist; purely subjective experience of the formless and qualitiless and unconditioned Absolute. The highest state of samadhi, beyond all thought, attribute, and description.
Nishkama: Free from wish or desire; desirelessness; selfless, unselfish.
Nishkama Karma Yoga: Action without expectation of fruits, and done without personal interest or egoism.
Nishkama: Without desire.
Nishkama karma: Desireless action; disinterested action; action dedicated to God without personal desire for the fruits of the action; selfless action.
Niyama: Observance; the five Do’s of Yoga: 1) shaucha–purity, cleanliness; 2) santosha–contentment, peacefulness; 3) tapas–austerity, practical (i.e., result-producing) spiritual discipline; 4) swadhyaya–Self-study, spiritual study; 5) Ishwarapranidhana–offering of one’s life to God.
Nityananda (Paramhansa): A great Master of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the most renowned Soham yogi of our times. His Chidakasha Gita contains some of the most profound statements on philosophy and yoga.
Panchanga: The traditional Indian (Hindu) calendar. “It provides precise information about astrological factors, planets, and stars which influence and alter the nature of the subtle environment” (A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy).
Pandharpur: The major pilgrim city for Vaishnavas in Maharashtra, site of the famous Vithoba (or Vithala) Temple of Lord Krishna.
Pandit: Scholar; pundit; learned individual.
Panduranga: Krishna, in the form worshipped in the Vithoba Temple in Pandharpur.
Parabrahman: Supreme Brahman.
Para(ma): Highest; universal; transcendent; supreme.
Paraloka: The world beyond this world; the future life. Not a technical term for a particular level or loka, but just a general term for a/the world we go to after death.
Paramananda: Supreme (param) bliss (ananda).
Paramatma(n): The Supreme Self, God.
Parameshwara: The Supreme (Param) Lord (Ishwara).
Paramhansa: Literally: Supreme Swan, a person of the highest spiritual realization, from the fact that a swan can separate milk from water and is therefore an apt symbol for one who has discarded the unreal for the Real, the darkness for the Light, and mortality for the Immortal, having separated himself fully from all that is not God and joined himself totally to the Divine, becoming a veritable embodiment of Divinity manifested in humanity.
Parasamvit: Supreme knowledge or consciousness.
Patala: Nether world; hell. In ancient Sanskrit texts the Western Hemisphere is called Patal Desh, the Underworld.
Patanjali: A yogi of ancient India, the author of the Yoga Sutras.
Pativrata: A chaste woman devoted to her husband.
Pice: A monetary unit. There were sixty-four pice in the old rupee, but now there are one hundred.
Pingala: The subtle channel that extends from the base of the spine to the medulla on the right side of the spine.
Pradhana: See Prakriti.
Prahlada: A daitya prince who rejected his daitya heritage and became a devotee of Vishnu. His father, the evil Hiranyakashipu, tortured him and attempted his life because of his devotion and his speaking to others of divine matters, yet he remained steadfast.
Prajapati: Progenitor; the Creator; a title of Brahma the Creator.
Prajna: Consciousness; awareness; wisdom; intelligence.
Prakash(a): Shining; luminous; effulgence; illumination; luminosity; light; brightness. Pure Consciousness, from the root kash (to shine) and pra (forth); cognition.
Prakriti: Causal matter; the fundamental power (shakti) of God from which the entire cosmos is formed; the root base of all elements; undifferentiated matter; the material cause of the world. Also known as Pradhana.
Prana: Vital energy; life-breath; life-force; inhalation.
Pranamaya kosha: “The sheath of vital air (prana).” The sheath consisting of vital forces and the (psychic) nervous system.
Pranayama: Control of the subtle life forces, often by means of special modes of breathing. Therefore breath control or breathing exercises are usually mistaken for pranayama. It also means the refining (making subtle) of the breath, and its lengthening through spontaneous slowing down of the respiratory rate.
Prarabdha: Karma that has become activated and begun to manifest and bear fruit in this life; karmic “seeds” that have begun to “sprout.”
Prasad(am): Grace; food or any gift that has been first offered in worship or to a saint; that which is given by a saint. It also means tranquility, particularly in the Bhagavad Gita.
Prashanta: Calmed; quiet; tamed; intensified peace.
Prashanta-vahita: Continuity of a tranquil state of mind.
Pratiti: Perception; apprehension; insight; complete understanding; conviction; faith, confidence, belief, trust, credit; fame, respect; delight.
Pratyahara: Abstraction or withdrawal of the senses from their objects, the fifth limb of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga.
Pratyaksha: Perception; direct perception; intuition.
Prayaschitta: Atonement (through various prescribed acts); expiation; mortification.
Pundit: Scholar; pandita; learned individual.
Punya: Merit; virtue; meritorious acts; virtuous deeds.
Purana: Literally “The Ancient.” The Puranas are a number of scriptures attributed to the sage Vyasa that teach spiritual principles and practices through stories about sacred historical personages which often include their teachings given in conversations.
Purusha: “Person” in the sense of a conscious spirit. Both God and the individual spirits are purushas, but God is the Adi (Original, Archetypal) Purusha, Parama (Highest) Purusha, and the Purushottama (Best of the Purushas).
Rajasa: See Rajasic.
Rajasic: Possessed of the qualities of the raja guna (rajas). Passionate; active; restless.
Rakshasa: There are two kinds of rakshasas: 1) semidivine, benevolent beings, or 2) cannibal demons or goblins, enemies of the gods. Meat-eating human beings are sometimes classed as rakshasas.
Rama: An incarnation of God–the king of ancient Ayodhya in north-central India. His life is recorded in the ancient epic Ramayana.
Rama Nama: The name of Rama–both of the Absolute Brahman and of the incarnation, Rama of Ayodhya–used in devotional singing, japa and meditation.
Rama Tirtha (Swami): A renowned monk born in Maharashtra who came to America in 1902 and for two years taught philosophy and yoga, especially in San Francisco, before returning to India.
Ramakrishna: Sri Ramakrishna lived in India in the second half of the nineteenth century, and is regarded by all India as a perfectly enlightened person–and by many as an Incarnation of God.
Ramana Maharshi: A great sage of the twentieth century who lived in Arunachala in South India. He taught the path of Self-Inquiry (Atma Vichara) wherein, whatever the mode of spiritual practice, the yogi keep focussed on the fundamental attitude, “Who am I?” until the Self (Atma) is revealed.
Rasakrida: Transcendental sport that Lord Krishna played with the gopis and gopas of Brindaban.
Rig Veda: The oldest scripture of India, considered the oldest scripture of the world, that consists of hymns revealed in meditation to the Vedic Rishis (seers). Although in modern times there are said to be four Vedas (Rig, Sama, Yajur, and Atharva), in actuality, there is only one Veda: the Rig Veda. The Sama Veda is only a collection of Rig Veda hymns that are marked (pointed) for singing. The Yajur Veda is a small book giving directions on just one form of Vedic sacrifice. The Atharva Veda is only a collection of theurgical mantras to be recited for the cure of various afflictions or to be recited over the herbs to be taken as medicine for those afflictions.
Sadagati: Everlasting happiness; final beatitude.
Sadguru: True guru, or the guru who reveals the Real (Sat–God).
Sadhaka: One who practices spiritual discipline–sadhana–particularly meditation.
Sadhana: Spiritual practice.
Sadhana-chatushtaya: The fourfold aids to spiritual practice: 1) Viveka: the ability to discriminate between the transient and the eternal (nitya-anity-astu-viveka); 2) Vairagya: the absence of desire for securing pleasure or pain either here or elsewhere (iha-anutra-artha-phala-vairagya); 3) Shad-sampat: the attainment of calmness, temperance, spirit of renunciation, fortitude, power of concentration of mind, and faith (shama-damadi-sadhana-smaptti); 4) Mumukshutva: an intense desire for liberation (mumukshutwa).
Sadhu: Seeker for truth (sat); a person who is practicing spiritual disciplines. Usually this term is applied only to monastics.
Saguna: With attributes or qualities (gunas).
Saguna Brahman: The supreme Absolute conceived of as endowed with qualities like mercy, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, etc., as distinguished from the undifferentiated Absolute–Nirguna Brahman.
Sahaja: Natural; innate; spontaneous; inborn.
Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi: Natural, non-dual state of Brahmic Consciousness.
Sahaja samadhi: See Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
Sahajavastha: Superconscious state that has become natural and continuous.
Sahasrara: The “thousand-petalled lotus” of the brain. The highest center of consciousness, the point at which the spirit (atma) and the bodies (koshas) are integrated and from which they are disengaged.
Sahasr(ar)adala: The Sahasrara chakra located in the center of the brain according to the Nath Panth tradition.
Sakshatakara: Self-realization; direct experience; experience of Absoluteness; Brahmajnana.
Sakshiavastha: Permanent establishment in the Witness State.
Sakshitwa: Establishment in the consciousness of being the Witness Self; looking upon oneself as merely the observer.
Samadhi: The state of superconsciousness where Absoluteness is experienced attended with all-knowledge and joy; Oneness; here the mind becomes identified with the object of meditation; the meditator and the meditated, thinker and thought become one in perfect absorption of the mind. See Samprajñata Samadhi, Asamprajñata Samadhi, Savikalpa Samadhi, and Nirvikalpa Samadhi.
Samarth Ramdas: A renowned saint and poet of Maharastra; guru of the great warrior-king Shivaji; rishi of the mantra: Sri Ram Jai Ram Jai Jai Ram.
Samata: Balanced state of mind.
Sampradaya: Tradition; philosophical school; literally: “handed-down instruction;” also a line of initiatic empowerment.
Samprajnata: A stage in samadhi wherein one is conscious of an object; that mind functions in this stage and concentrates on an object of knowledge (perception).
Samprajñata samadhi: State of superconsciousness, with the triad of meditator, meditation and the meditated; lesser samadhi; cognitive samadhi; samadhi of wisdom; meditation with limited external awareness. Savikalpa samadhi.
Samsara: Life through repeated births and deaths; the wheel of birth and death; the process of earthly life.
Samsarin: One who is subject to samsara–repeated births and deaths–and who is deluded by its appearances, immersed in ignorance.
Samyama: Self-control; perfect restraint; an all-complete condition of balance and repose. The combined practice of the last three steps in Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga: concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and union (samadhi). See the Vibhuti Pada of the Yoga Sutras.
Sanatana Dharma: “The Eternal Religion,” also known as “Arya Dharma,” “the religion of those who strive upward [Aryas].” Hinduism.
Sanchita: Sanchita karma.
Sanchita karma: The vast store of accumulated actions done in the past, the fruits of which have not yet been reaped.
Sankalpa: A life-changing wish, desire, volition, resolution, will, determination, or intention–not a mere momentary aspiration, but an empowering act of will that persists until the intention is fully realized. It is an act of spiritual, divine creative will inherent in each person as a power of the Atma.
Sankhya: One of the six orthodox systems of Hindu philosophy whose originator was the sage Kapila, Sankhya is the original Vedic philosophy, endorsed by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita (Gita 2:39; 3:3, 5; 18:13, 19), the second chapter of which is entitled “Sankhya Yoga.” A Ramakrishna-Vedanta Wordbook says: “Sankhya postulates two ultimate realities, Purusha and Prakriti. Declaring that the cause of suffering is man’s identification of Purusha with Prakriti and its products, Sankhya teaches that liberation and true knowledge are attained in the supreme consciousness, where such identification ceases and Purusha is realized as existing independently in its transcendental nature.” Not surprisingly, then, Yoga is based on the Sankhya philosophy.
Sanskrit: The language of the ancient sages of India and therefore of the Indian scriptures and yoga treatises.
Santosha: Contentment; peacefulness.
Sarada Devi (“Holy Mother”): The virgin-wife of Sri Ramakrishna, and a great teacher in her own right, considered by many to be an incarnation of the Mother aspect of God.
Sarvajña(twa): Knowing everything; omniscience.
Sat: Existence; reality; truth; being; a title of Brahman, the Absolute or Pure Being.
Sat Chakras: The six chakras: Muladhara, Swadhishthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha and Ajna, located at the base of the spine, in the spine a little less than midway between the base of the spine and the area opposite the navel in the spine, the point in the spine opposite the navel, the point in the spine opposite the midpoint of the sternum bone, the point in the spine opposite the hollow of the throat, and the point between the eyebrows, respectively.
Satchidananda: Existence-knowledge-bliss Absolute; Brahman.
Satguru: True guru, or the guru who reveals the Real (Sat–God).
Satsang(a): Literally: “company with Truth.” Association with godly-minded persons. The company of saints and devotees.
Sattwa: Light; purity; harmony, goodness, reality.
Sattwic: Partaking of the quality of Sattwa.
Satya: Truth; the Real; Brahman, or the Absolute; truthfulness; honesty.
Satya Loka: “True World,” “World of the True [Sat]”, or “World of Truth [Satya].” This highest realm of relative existence where liberated beings live who have not entered back into the Transcendent Absolute where there are no “worlds” (lokas). From that world they can descend and return to other worlds for the spiritual welfare of others, as can those that have chosen to return to the Transcendent.
Satya Yuga: See Yuga.
Savikalpa Samadhi: Samadhi in which there is objective experience or experience of “qualities” and with the triad of knower, knowledge and known; lesser samadhi; cognitive samadhi; samadhi of wisdom; meditation with limited external awareness. Samprajñata samadhi.
Sayujya: Closely united with; united with God; becoming one with God.
Sayujyata: The state of being in Sayujya.
Shabda: Sound; word.
Shabda Brahman: Sound-God; Brahman in the Form of Sound; Omkara, or the Veda.
Shad-Sampat: The sixfold virtue: 1) Sama: serenity or tranquillity of mind which is brought about through the eradication of desires; 2) Dama: rational control of the senses; 3) Uparati: satiety–resolutely turning the mind away from desire for sensual enjoyment; 4) Titiksha: the power of endurance. An aspirant should patiently bear the pairs of opposites such as heat and cold, pleasure and pain, etc.; 5) Shraddha: intense faith, lasting, perfect and unshakable; 6) Samadhana: fixing the mind on Brahman or the Self, without allowing it to run towards objects.
Shaiva/Shaivite: A worshipper of Shiva; pertaining to Shiva.
Shakti: Power; energy; force; the Divine Power of becoming; the apparent dynamic aspect of Eternal Being; the Absolute Power or Cosmic Energy.
Shankara: Shankaracharya; Adi (the first) Shankaracharya: The great reformer and re-establisher of Vedic Religion in India around 300 B.C. He is the unparalleled exponent of Advaita (Non-Dual) Vedanta. He also reformed the mode of monastic life and founded (or regenerated) the ancient Swami Order.
Sharira: Body; sheath; literally: “that which perishes,” from the root shri which means “to waste away.”
Shastra: Scripture; spiritual treatise.
Shastri: One who is a scholar and teacher of the scriptures (shastras).
Shastric: Scriptural or having to do with the scriptures.
Shaucha: Purity; cleanliness.
Shesha: The endless; the infinite; The name of the snake (naga) upon which Vishnu reclines.
Shiva: A name of God meaning “One Who is all Bliss and the giver of happiness to all.” Although classically applied to the Absolute Brahman, Shiva can also refer to God (Ishwara) in His aspect of Dissolver and Liberator (often mistakenly thought of as “destroyer”).
Shivatma: The Paramatman who is the root cause of all the activities in the Universe.
Shodhana: Process of cleansing (purifying) in Hatha Yoga.
Shraddha: Faith; confidence or assurance that arises from personal experience.
Shravana: Hearing; study; listening to reading of the scriptures or instruction in spiritual life.
Shruti: That which is heard; revealed scripture in the sense of divine communication. Usually applied to the Vedas, Shankara also spoke of the Upanishads as Shruti.
Shuddha-chaitanya: Pure intelligence; pure consciousness.
Shyama Charan Lahiri: See Lahiri Mahasaya.
Siddha: A perfected–liberated–being, an adept, a seer, a perfect yogi.
Siddha Nama: The Perfect Name; an title of the Soham Mantra.
Siddhi: Spiritual perfection; psychic power; power; modes of success; attainment; accomplishment; achievement; mastery; supernatural power attained through mantra, meditation, or other yogic practices. From the verb root sidh–to attain.
Siddhaloka: The highest realm of existence in which the fully liberated (siddhas) live. (However, wherever a siddha is, that place is siddhaloka.)
Sivananda (Swami): A great twentieth-century Master, founder of the world-wide Divine Life Society, whose books on spiritual life and religion are widely circulated in the West as well as in India.
Smriti: Memory; recollection; “that which is remembered;” code of law. In this latter sense, Smriti is used to designate all scriptures except the Vedas and Upanishads (which are considered of greater authority: Shruti).
Soham: “I am He,” the Ajapa Gayatri formula of meditation in which So is repeated mentally during natural inhalation and Ham is repeated mentally during natural exhalation.
Soham Bhava: The state of being and awareness: “THAT I am.” Gorakhnath says that Soham Bhava includes total Self-comprehension (ahamta), total Self-mastery (akhanda aishwarya), unbroken awareness of the unity of the Self (swatmata), awareness of the unity of the Self with all phenomenal existence–as the Self (vishwanubhava), knowledge of all within and without the Self–united in the Self (sarvajñatwa).
Spanda: Vibration; flutter; throb; movement; creative shakti; pulsation; creative pulsation; apparent motion in the motionless Shiva which brings about the manifestation, maintenance, and withdrawal of the universe; the principle of apparent movement from the state of absolute unity to the plurality of the world.
Sphota: The Sanskrit original of our English word “spot;” manifester; the idea which bursts or flashes–including the Pranava which burst or flashes forth from the Absolute and becomes transformed into the Relative.
Sri: Holy; sacred; excellent; venerated (venerable); revered; a term of respect similar to “Reverend.” Also: prosperity, glory, and success–and therefore an epithet for Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and abundance, the consort of Vishnu. It is often used as an honorific prefix to the name of deities and holy persons to indicate holiness (Sri Krishna, Sri Swami N., etc.). Also used as the equivalent of the English “Mr.” (Srimati would be the equivalent of “Mrs.”)
Sthirattwa: Steadiness or firmness of body or mind; the steady tranquillity born of meditation.
Stotra: A hymn or verse in praise of God.
Sudarshana: Sudarshana Chakra.
Sudarshana Chakra: The invincible weapon of Lord Vishnu which is able to cut through anything, and is a symbol of the Lord’s power of cutting through all things which bind the jiva to samsara. Thus it is the divine power of liberation (moksha).
Sukarma: Good action; good deed; virtuous; diligent.
Sushumna: A subtle passage in the midst of the spinal column, corresponding to the spinal cord, that extends from the base of the spine to the medulla oblongata in the head.
Sushupti: The dreamless sleep state.
Sutra: An aphorism with minimum words and maximum sense; a terse sentence.
Swadhishthana chakra: Energy center located in the spine a little less than midway between the base of the spine and the area opposite the navel. Seat of the Water element.
Swadhyaya: Introspective self-study or self-analysis leading to self-understanding.
Swami Maharaj of Akalkot (Swāmi Samarth Mahāraj; Akkalkot Swami): A nineteenth century guru of the Dattatreya tradition (sampradaya), widely respected in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. He lived in the Akkalkot village in Maharashtra for about twenty-two years.
Swapna: The dream state; a dream.
Swapna samadhi: Samadhi that occurs in a dream–that is, the dream passes into a superconscious state.
Swarupa: “Form of the Self.” Natural–true–form; actual or essential nature; essence. A revelatory appearance that makes clear the true nature of some thing.
Swarupajnana: Knowledge which is of the nature of the Self; knowledge of one’s essential nature; knowledge of pure consciousness, which is the highest end in life.
Taimni, I. K.: A professor of chemistry in India. He wrote many excellent books on philosophy and spiritual practice, including The Science of Yoga, a commentary on the Yoga Sutras. For many years he was the spiritual head of the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society headquartered in Adyar, Madras (Tamilnadu), and traveled the world without publicity or notoriety, quietly instructing many sincere aspirants in the path to supreme consciousness.
Talu chakra: Energy center located at the root of the palate opposite the tip of the nose.
Tantra: A manual of, or a particular path of, sadhana laying great stress upon japa of a mantra and other esoteric practices relating to the powers latent in the human complex of physical, astral, and causal bodies in relation to the cosmic Power usually thought as the Divine Feminine.
Tanumanasa: Threadlike (extremely subtle and attenuated) state of mind, indicating that impurities and impediments are lessening.
Tapas (tapasya): Austerity, practical (i.e., result-producing) spiritual discipline; spiritual force. Literally it means the generation of heat or energy, but is always used in a symbolic manner, referring to spiritual practice and its effect, especially the roasting of karmic seeds, the burning up of karma.
Taraka Mantra: From the root word tara–that which crosses. The Taraka Mantra is that which enables its invokers to cross over the ocean of samsara and attain liberation.
Tattwa: “Thatness.” Principle; element; the essence of things; truth; reality.
Tirtha: A sacred place of pilgrimage; a river or body of water in which it is auspicious and spiritually beneficial to bathe; the water offered in ritual worship and then sprinkled on or drunk by the devotees. Also, a name of a Dasanami Sannyasin belonging to the Dwarka Math.
Tola: Three-eights of an ounce.
Trikalajnana: Knowledge of the past, present and the future.
Trikalajnani: One who knows the past, present and the future.
Tukaram: A poet-saint of seventeenth century India (Maharashtra) devoted to Krishna in his form of Panduranga (Vittala).
Turiya: The state of pure consciousness. A Ramakrishna-Vedanta Wordbook defines it as: “The superconscious; lit., ‘the Fourth,’ in relation to the three ordinary states of consciousness–waking, dreaming, and dreamless sleep–which it transcends.”
Tyaga: Literally” leaving; separation; abandonment; renunciation in the sense of dissociation of the mind from worldly objects and the seeds of desire; in the Gita, the relinquishment of the fruit of action.
Tyagi: A renouncer, an ascetic.
Unmana: ”That which transcends the mind;” the “mindless” state of a yogi that is really the state beyond the mind.
Unmani: One who is in the state of unmana.
Upadesha: Spiritual instruction; the instructions given by the guru at the time of initiation; initiation itself.
Upanishads: Books (of varying lengths) of the philosophical teachings of the ancient sages of India on the knowledge of Absolute Reality. The upanishads contain two major themes: (1) the individual Self (Atman) and the Supreme Self (Paramatman) are one in essence, and (2) the goal of life is the realization/manifestation of this unity, the realization of God (Brahman). There are eleven principal upanishads: Isha, Kena, Katha, Prashna, Mundaka, Mandukya, Taittiriya, Aitaryeya, Chandogya, Brihadaranyaka, and Svetashvatara, all of which were commented on by Shankara, thus setting the seal of authenticity on them.
Upasana: “Sitting near” or “drawing near;” worship; adoration; contemplation of God or deity; devout meditation; both teaching and learning.
Vachaka: That which is denoted by speech.
Vairagya: Non-attachment; detachment; dispassion; absence of desire; disinterest; or indifference. Indifference towards and disgust for all worldly things and enjoyments.
Upasana: “Sitting near” or “drawing near;” worship; adoration; contemplation of God or deity; devout meditation; both teaching and learning.
Vairagya: Non-attachment; detachment; dispassion; absence of desire; disinterest; or indifference. Indifference towards and disgust for all worldly things and enjoyments.
Vani: Speech; voice; sound; music; language; words.
Varna: Caste. (Literally: color.) In traditional Hindu society there were four divisions or castes according to the individual’s nature and aptitude: Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra.
Varnashrama: Related to the four castes and the four stages (ashramas) of Hindu life; the laws of caste and ashrama.
Varnashram dharma: The observance of caste and ashram.
Vasana: Subtle desire; a tendency created in a person by the doing of an action or by experience; it induces the person to repeat the action or to seek a repetition of the experience; the subtle impression in the mind capable of developing itself into action; it is the cause of birth and experience in general; an aggregate or bundle of samskaras–the impressions of actions that remain unconsciously in the mind.
Vasana(s): A bundle or aggregate of such samskaras.
Vedanta: Literally, “the end of the Vedas;” the Upanishads; the school of Hindu thought, based primarily on the Upanishads, upholding the doctrine of either pure non-dualism or conditional non-dualism. The original text of this school is Vedanta-darshana or the Brahma Sutras compiled by the sage Vyasa.
Vedas: The oldest scriptures of India, considered the oldest scriptures of the world, that were revealed in meditation to the Vedic Rishis.
Vedic: Having to do with the Vedas.
Vibhu: All-pervading; great.
Vichara: Subtle thought; reflection; enquiry; introspection; investigation; enquiry/investigation into the nature of the Self, Brahman or Truth; ever-present reflection on the why and wherefore of things; enquiry into the real meaning of the Mahavakya Tat-twam-asi: Thou art That; discrimination between the Real and the unreal; enquiry of Self.
Videhakaivalya mukti: Disembodied salvation.
Videhi: One who is bodiless.
Vidya: Knowledge; both spiritual knowledge and mundane knowledge.
Vijnana: The highest knowledge, beyond mere theoretical knowledge (jnana); transcendental knowledge or knowing; experiential knowledge; a high state of spiritual realization–intimate knowledge of God in which all is seen as manifestations of Brahman; knowledge of the Self.
Vikalpa: Imagination; fantasy; mental construct; abstraction; conceptualization; hallucination; distinction; experience; thought; oscillation of the mind.
Viraj: The macrocosm; the manifested universe; the world man–the masculine potency in nature in contradistinction to the feminine potency.
Virat: Macrocosm; the cosmic form of the Self as the cause of the gross world; the all-pervading Spirit in the form of the universe.
Vishnu: “The all-pervading;” God as the Preserver.
Vishuddha: Supremely pure; totally pure.
Vishuddha chakra: “Supreme purity.” Energy center located in the spine opposite the hollow of the throat. Seat of the Ether element.
Vishwaprana: The universal life force (prana).
Vithoba: See Vitthala.
Vitthala: A title of Krishna, meaning “the one standing on a brick,” a reference to the image of Krishna worshipped in Pandharpur in Western India.
Vivarta: Illusory appearance; a doctrine of the Nondualistic school of Vedanta philosophy explaining creation as an illusory appearance of the Absolute; apparent variation; illusory manifestation of Brahman; apparent or unreal or seeming change; superimposition; appearance.
Viveka: Discrimination between the Real and the unreal, between the Self and the non-Self, between the permanent and the impermanent; right intuitive discrimination.
Vivekananda (Swami): The chief disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, who brought the message of Vedanta to the West at the end of the nineteenth century.
Vritti: Thought-wave; mental modification; mental whirlpool; a ripple in the chitta (mind substance).
Vyakta: Manifest(ed); revealed.
Vyasa: One of the greatest sages of India, commentator on the Yoga Sutras, author of the Mahabharata (which includes the Bhagavad Gita), the Brahma Sutras, and the codifier of the Vedas.
Vyatireka: Separate; negation; distinguishing the non-Self from the Self.
Yaksha: There are two kinds of yakshas: 1) semidivine beings whose king is Kubera, the lord of wealth, or 2) a kind of ghost, goblin, or demon.
Yama: Yamaraja; the Lord of Death, controller of who dies and what happens to them after death.
Yama: Restraint; the five Don’ts of Yoga: 1) ahimsa–non-violence, non-injury, harmlessness; 2) satya–truthfulness, honesty; 3) asteya–non-stealing, honesty, non-misappropriativeness; 4) brahmacharya–continence; 5) aparigraha–non-possessiveness, non-greed, non-selfishness, non-acquisitiveness.
Yama Duta: A messenger of Yama; who who comes to take the soul from the body at the time of death.
Yamuna: A sacred river, tributary of the Ganges, which flows through Brindaban, the home of Lord Krishna in his childhood.
Yantra: Geometrical designs of the energy patterns made by mantras when they are recited or which, when concentrated on produce the effects of the corresponding mantras. Though often attributed to deities, they are really the diagrams of the energy movements of those deities’ mantras.
Yashoda: The foster-mother of Krishna in Brindaban where Krishna was taken by his father Vasudeva on the night of his birth for his protection from his mother Devaki’s brother, Kansa, the king of Mathura. His foster-father was Nanda.
Yoga: Union; abstract meditation or union with the Supreme Being; the name of the philosophy by the sage Patanjali, teaching the process of union of the individual with the Universal Soul; union with God; any practice that makes for such union.
Yoga Darshan(a): Hinduism embraces six systems of philosophy, one of which is Yoga. The basic text of the Yoga philosophy–Yoga Darshana–is the Yoga Sutras (also called Yoga Darshana), the oldest known writing on the subject of yoga, written by the sage Patanjali, a yogi of ancient India. Further, the Yoga Philosophy is based on the philosophical system known as Sankhya, whose originator was the sage Kapila.
Yoga Nidra: A state of half-contemplation and half-sleep; light yogic sleep when the individual retains slight awareness; state between sleep and wakefulness.
Yoga Shastra: The scriptures and writings of various authorities dealing specifically with the theory and practice of yoga, especially the Yoga Sutras (Yoga Darshan) of Patanjali.
Yoga Sutras: The oldest known writing on the subject of yoga, written by the sage Patanjali, a yogi of ancient India, and considered the most authoritative text on yoga. Also known as Yoga Darshana, it is the basis of the Yoga Philosophy which is based on the philosophical system known as Sankhya.
Yoga Vashishtha: A classical treatise on Yoga, containing the instructions of the Rishi Vashishtha to Lord Rama on meditation and spiritual life.
Yogananda (Paramhansa): The most influential yogi of the twentieth century West, author of Autobiography of a Yogi and founder of Self-Realization Fellowship in America.
Yogi: One who practices Yoga; one who strives earnestly for union with God; an aspirant going through any course of spiritual discipline.
Yogic: Having to do with Yoga.
Yogini: A female practicer of yoga.
Yogiraj: “King of Yogis,” a title often given to an advanced yogi, especially a teacher of yogi.
Yuga: Age or cycle; aeon; world era. Hindus believe that there are four yugas: the Golden Age (Satya or Krita Yuga), the Silver age (Treta Yuga), The Bronze Age (Dwapara Yuga), and the Iron Age (Kali Yuga). Satya Yuga is four times as long as the Kali Yuga; Treta Yuga is three times as long; and Dwapara Yuga is twice as long. In the Satya Yuga the majority of humans use the total potential–four-fourths–of their minds; in the Treta Yuga, three-fourths; in the Dwapara Yuga, one half; and in the Kali Yuga, one fourth. (In each Yuga there are those who are using either more or less of their minds than the general populace.) The Yugas move in a perpetual circle: Ascending Kali Yuga, ascending Dwapara Yuga, ascending Treta Yuga, ascending Satya Yuga, descending Satya Yuga, descending, Treta Yuga, descending Dwapara Yuga, and descending Kali Yuga–over and over. Furthermore, there are yuga cycles within yuga cycles. For example, there are yuga cycles that affect the entire cosmos, and smaller yuga cycles within those greater cycles that affect a solar system. The cosmic yuga cycle takes 8,640,000,000 years, whereas the solar yuga cycle only takes 24,000 years. At the present time our solar system is in the ascending Dwapara Yuga, but the cosmos is in the descending Kali Yuga. Consequently, the more the general mind of humanity develops, the more good can be accomplished by the positive, and the more evil can be accomplished by the negative. Therefore we have more contrasts and polarization in contemporary life than previously before 1900.