Glossary

Advaita Non-dual; without a second. This refers to the Absolute Brahman or the Vedic philosophy that expounds the theory of non-dual Brahman.
Agni Fire. There are many meanings of the word agni, or fire, forty of which are most prominent. Depending on context, agni means a Brahmin, a man of wisdom, the fire of light, life breath; prana; heat; leader.
Ahamkara Loosely translated as ego; together, manas, buddhi, and ahamkara comprise the inner instrument known as antahakarana. It is through this inner faculty that one identifies oneself with the objects of the world, such as \”I am this body\” or \” That is my chair \”. More strictly, in Shamkhya and Yoga philosophy it is the \”I-maker\”. It refers to a function of mind through which pure consciousness, purusha, falsely identifies itself with non-self, material objects.
Ajna The centre (chakra) between the eyebrows; the seat of mind; the centre of consciousness that receives the wisdom from the higher chakra, sahasrara.
Akasha Space or aether; the fifth of the five tattvas or gross elements (earth, water, fire, air, space/aether).
Anahata The heart centre , associated with the air element ; the cetre located between the upper and lower hemispheres of the body ,in the region of the heart. Students of the Mishra school of Tantra perform their mental worship at this chakra.
Ananda Joy. There are two kinds of ananda, or joy, that a human being can experience: one is sensual joy, which is experienced by ordinary human beings; it lasts only for a short time and creates a desire for repetition. The other joy is the highest of joys-everlasting unity with Brahman.
Androgyne ANDROGYNE the combined total of all complementary forces perfectly united. The word androgyne is related to the Greek „androgynos“ (woman and man in one being), coming from the roots „andros“ (from the genitive „ander“, man) and „gyne“ (woman).
Annamaya kosha The food sheath, the phtsical body that is nourished by and grows on food; one of the five sheaths, or koshas, that cover the effulgent Brahman or Atman.
Antahkarana The psychological apparatus (the \”inner organ\”) of the individual.
Apana Downward moving pranic force; function of prana that tends to move downward. Also identified with exhalation.
Archetype Primordial and original divine model, ideal and causal of the beings and sensitive objects. The word archetype is linked to the Greek archetypon (original model) formed through the Greek root arché (first, original, ancient) and typos (model, type). From the spiritual point, the archetypes are divine principles, original universal „images”, which can be transposed in conscious formulas, transmitted traditionally within some doctrines or initiations.
Aspiration A ferm intention, an inclination that is well realized with an increased quote of performance and self realisation, psyho-mental, and autorealizare, employment psycho-mental, emotional stability-voluntary, focused value, presenting an ideal layout design
Astral “The Astral” or “Astral Level” is a subtle vibratory universe having the predominant subtle frequency vibration more elevated than that of the physical universe, but lower than that of the causal universe. The astral Universe is reflected in the human being MICROCOSM , among others, in the dynamics of emotions, desires, thoughts and feelings that fall within the scope of individuality.
Astral body This is the subtle extension or SUBTLE SPHERE of influence of the energetical subtle body. It is successfully used – amongst others – in the distant psychic percerption, where can be suddently transferred through ASTRAL DE-DUBING. As much so as the physical and etherical body, the astral body has a complex cover of fine channels (NADIS).
Atharva Veda The fourth book of the Vedas which, in addition to spiritual wisdom, also focuses on modern sciences of the Mundaka Upanishad.
Atman 1. The divine element in man; the real Self of everyone.2. Pure Consciousness, the pure Self, the unchanging, eternal Truth that is beyond the entire manifest world.
AUM Sound that represents the Absolute Brahman . According to the Upanishads , the word AUM consists of three letters \”A ,U, and M\” representing waking , dreaming ,and deep sleep .After the word AUM , there comes a state of silence that represents Absolute or transcendent Reality, Brahman.
Avidya Ignorance, lack of knowledge, mistaking the unreal for the real. The words avidya and maya in Vedanta philosophy refer to the force through which the universe evolves. At the individual level, it is called avidya; at the cosmic level, it is called maya. It is through this force that the pure, infinite, and immortal soul considers itself to be limited.
Bhakti Love and devotion ; love for God .Bhakti is of two kinds: lower bhakti and higher bhakti .The lower bhakti consists of chanting the name of the lord , doing japa , reciting holy scriptures , serving God through one\’s thought , speech and action ; the higher bhakti is a state of ecstasy in which the yogi remains intoxicated in the love of the divine . Bhakti yoga is considered to be one of the major paths of yoga , since it places its main emphasis on love for God . All other disciplines are secondary to love and devotion to God.
Bhava Emotion, mood, devotional state of mind, feeling. This refers to the aspirant\’s emotional life, which in the practice of jnana or raja yoga, is controlled in order to transcend the spheres of the mind and intellect. In bhakti yoga, however, bhava is neither controlled nor suppressed, but is transformed into devotion and channelled to the Lord.
Bija Mantra Seed subtle sounds which make possible the vibration in “sintonance\”, and which are received directly from a competent spiritual guide. The mysterious essence of a particular aspect of the Supreme Reality is found concentrated in the phonemes of a BIJA-MANTRA which takes the form of a symbol sound. These symbolic sounds always rely on subtle connections and analog correlation between man and the Universe bear with them certain specific energy, subtle, cosmic that can be perceived, acquired or used by the yoghi who uses adequately and properly these BIJA MANTRA-e.
Brahma The Creator . According to Indian philosophy , the first evolute of unmanifest Brahman , the Absolute Reality , is Brahma ,who through his sankalpa shakti brings forward all of creation . He is also the first teacher, the one who imparted the first spiritual wisdom to the sages.
Brahmacharya A life of spiritual study, discipline and continence.
Brahman The absolute Reality, pure consciousness or the Truth that lies beyond names and forms. The Brahman of the Upanishads transcends the concept of God as found in most religions, being a pure witness and the only Reality. The universe emerges from Brahman and ultimately merges into Brahman. Throughout, Brahman is uninvolved and eternal – the underlying unitary Truth behind all diversities. The word Ishvara, or God, is the manifest state of Brahman. However, metaphysically, Brahman transcends the whole manifest world, including God.
Brahmana Brahmana should not be confused with the word Brahman, from which it is derived. Brahman has two meanings: 1) it refers to a class of people who are inclined to spiritual study and practice, who devote their lives to attain Brahman realization; 2) a group of Sanskrit texts devoted to the interpretation of Vedic hymns. In contrast to Upanishadic literature, brahmana texts provide a ritualistic interpretation and application of Vedic mantras.
Brahmarandra \”The divine (BRAHMA-ic) opening (RANDHRA)\” of the being; this actually represents the superior opening of the essential subtle energy channel of the human being (SUSHUMNA NADI), which is located in the area of the crown of the head (in subtle level), at the level of the FONTANEL.
Brahmin During the Vedic period, this word meant \”knower of Brahman\” or \”one who had devoted his entire life to the study of the Vedas and the realisation of Brahman\”. In later periods, it referred to the priestly class in Indian society.
Budhi Intellect; the faculty of discrimination. One of the aspects of the antahakarana, the inner faculty through which a human being makes decisions.
Chakra Secret subtle power centreLiterally, in the Sanskrit language, the word CHAKRA means „wheel” or „circle”. In YOGA the term CHAKRA defines the enigmatic reality of a secret subtle power centre, through which the vital subtle energy (PRANA) flows. When it is awakened in an adequate way, through a secret power centre (CHAKRA) can pass even the enigmatic energy KUNDALINI, which influences both the HUMAN BODY, and the astral and causal body of the human being. The secret subtle power centres (CHAKRA-s) are focal meeting points and interconnections of the physical with the psychic, mental and causal plans. These fundamental power centres accumulate, transform and redistribute the modulated subtle energy which travels through them. Even though the CHAKRA-s influences in a certain way the endocrine glands and some physical organs (as for example the heart and solar plexus), it is good to not confuse them with these organs, because CHAKRA-s belong to another level of the phenomenal world.
Chitta Mind. The word chitta is a general term used for mind, which includes manas (lower mind), ahamkara (ego), and buddhi (intellect). Sometimes it is used in the sense of the unconscious mind, the storehouse of all the subtle impressions of one\’s thoughts, speech and actions.
Cit Conciousness Absolute.
Conscience According to the non-dualist YOGA schools, this supreme Conscience (part or sparkle from GOD) is totally blissful (ANANDA) and overwhelmingly real (SAT). About it Jesus says: “Know the TRUTH as only the TRUTH will set you free”. It cannot be known from outside but it can be realised from inside. The full realisation or the real revelation of the Eternal Self (ATMAN) is the Alfa and Omega of all forms of YOGA.
Dakshina Offerings made in return for spiritual teaching, or at traditional ceremonies.
Darshana A vision, revelation, or a philosophy; to have a glance at a respected person, such as a sage.
Deva Celestial being, a bright being. According to the Upanishads, the powers of the senses are devas since they illuminate the objects of the world and bring them into the realm of experience and awareness. Indra, the god of the devas, is the mind, which presides over the other devas (the senses).
Devas The lesser gods; deities presiding over the individual forces of Nature.
Dharma Duty; virtuous deeds, righteous acts, rules and laws that help one sustain personal as well as interpersonal well- being.
Dhyana Meditation; one-pointed state of mind that is not disturbed by any thought constructs.
Durga The consort of Shiva.
Dvaisha Aversion.
Dvaita Duality
Dvapara yuga The third of the four cycles of creation, in which the rituals first started and were considered the means to liberation.
Gandharvas The celestial musicians.
Gayatri The most sacred prayer of the Vedas.
Gayatri mantra The famous mantra that first appears in the Yajur Veda, it is considered to be the mother of all of the Vedas.
Govind A name of Shri Krishna.
Guna Intrinsic characteristics of prakriti, primordial nature; there are three gunas: sattva, rajas, and tamas.
Guru Spiritual teacher. Gu means ignorance, ru means one who dispels.Thus a guru is a learned master who dispels the darkness of a student\’s ignorance.
Hiranyagarbha The shining being in whom the whole universe lives in its dormant state. Hiranyagarbha is also known as Brahma, the creator.
Ishvara God; inner controller; the Lord. In Vedanta philosophy, Brahman accompanied by maya is called Ishvara. Therefore, Ishvara is called saguna Brahman.
Ishvarapranidhana Surrender to God. One of the components of the path of kriya yoga as outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. However, according to bhakti yoga, surrender to God alone can lead one to the highest state of realisation.
Jagat The Creation; literally \”the moving thing\”.
Japa Repetition of one\’s mantra; constant japa is a great technique of makingthe mind one-pointed. Japa as a practice is complete in itself provided it is done with knowledge and with full devotion.
Jiva The embodied soul.
Jivan-mukta A freed jiva; one who has attained release from the bondage of sansara during his life.
Jivatman The individual soul is called jivatman as long as it uses the vehicle of the mind which, in association with ignorance (avidya), conceives itself to be limited.
Jnana Yoga The path of pure intallect; it is possible only when an aspirant purifies the higher buddhi.
Joy Intense state of mental and emotional satisfaction that can occur due to internal or external reasons, getting amplified in the human being due to the resonatory process and the assimilation in the human being Microcosm, of the subtle specific energies of the joy and satisfaction from MACROCOSMS.
Kama The last of the four yugas (ages) in the cycle of creation, characterised by a decline of virtues and righteousness; faith and devotion are the means to liberation in the kali yuga.
Karma Action. Karma includes the law of actions and reactions, the driving forces of one\’s present and future. According to yoga traditions, karma that is performed with a selfish motive brings about bondage, while performing the same karma selflessly for the sake of duty alone brings freedom.
Karma yoga Path of selflessness. The \”discipline of action\” in which selfless action without desire for personal gain is cultivated. In this way one gradually cuts back on the number of new impressions (the seeds of future action and of rebirth). One\’s actions are gradually purified as meditation is slowly brought into active life.
Karma yogi One who has learned to do his or her duties as selfless actions and with attention constantly fixed on the centre of consciousness within.
Kaula A school of Tantra that emphasises external rituals or uses external objects as means for spiritual achievement.
Kosha Sheath. The five levels of human existance. The five koshas or sheaths cover the effulgent Brahman or atman. They are the annamaya kosha (physical body), pranamaya Kosha (energy sheath), manomaya kosha (mental or emotional sheath), jnanamaya kosha (intellectual sheath ) and the anandamaya kosha (blissful sheath).
Krishna The divine incarnation whose life is described in the Shrimad Bhagavatam. His boyhood and youth were spent amidst the groves of Brindavan. He is often represented playing a flute, mystically representing his creative power.
Kriya Action, activity, as kriya yoga – a path of action. In hatha and kundalini yoga, kriya refers to certain pranayama and cleansing techniques; in Patanjali\’s system of yoga, it refers to the practice of austerity, self-study, and surrender to God.
Kundalini The inner fire, the dormant fire , coiled energy. Kundalini in its dormant state resides at the base of the spine in an area called the kunda. By following a systematic discipline of pranayama, meditation and mantra japa , one prepares oneself for kundalini awakening . At the completion of preparation, with the help of a competant master, this force is awakened and led to the sahasara chakra where jivatman , the individual self, unites with Brahman.
Lingam Sign, symbol. Lingam also refers to the oval shaped light that resides in the cave of the heart. In an external sense, it also refers to the shiva lingam. Symbolically, the shape of the individual soul is said to be like a lingam. Since Brahman is Absolute, without name or form, it is called alingam.
Mahabharata Famous epic written in Sanskrit, consisting of 100,000 verses.
Manas Mind. One of the inner instruments that receive information from the external world with the help of the senses and present it to the higher faculty of intellect. This particular faculty is characterised by doubt.
Manipura The chakra that is \”filled with jewels\”; naval centre; the centre of the fire element; the solar plexus.
Manomaya kosha The mental or emotional sheath. One of the five sheaths or koshas that cover the effulgent Brahman or Atman.
Mantra There are two meanings for mantra: 1) Divine seed syllables which, through constant repetition and remembrance, lead students toward higher spiritual achievement. A set of syllables, sounds, or words received from the teacher during initiation for meditation and spiritual advancement, and 2) the earliest part of Vedic literature, called mantra, or hymns, which is collected into four books , the Rig, Yajur, Sama , and Atharva Vedas.
Maya The power of Brahman through which its infinity is veiled and the finite world is projected. On a cosmic level it is maya, on the individual level it is avidya.
Moksha Liberation; freedom from bondage. According to the Upanishads, the final stage of liberation can be attained only through knowledge of the Absolute, para vidya.
Muladhara The root chakra at the base of the spine; the centre for the earth element; the centre that is the base of worship for the Kaula school of Tantra.
Nadi Energy channel; one of the subtle channels of the body.
Nirguna Without attributes; pure transcendent Brahman, as opposed to saguna Brahman, Brahman with attribute.
Paramatman The highest Self, the Absolute Self, Brahman, the soul at the cosmic level, in contrast to jivatman, the soul at the individual level.
Parvati Eternal consort of Shiva; another name of Shakti.
Prakriti Primordial substance. The stuff out of which both mind and matter have been evolved.
Pramada Inertia, laziness or sloth, and carelessness, which are the prime enemies of a sadhaka.
Prana The life force. In the yogic tradition, the life force prana is said to be tenfold, depending on its nature and function. Of the ten, prana and apana are the most important. Prana is ordinarily identified with inhalation and exhalation. According to the Bhagavad Gita, a yogi should balance and control the movement of prana and apana in order to have control over the modifications of the mind and thus attain samadhi.
Pranamaya kosha Energy sheath. On of the five sheaths, or koshas, that cover the effulgent Brahman or Atman.
Pranayama Expansion of, or voluntary control over the pranic force. Breath control; breathing exercise; the fourth rung of raja yoga. The science of gradually lengthening and controlling the physical breath in order to gain control over the movements of prana through the subtle body in higher stages of the practice. It is the fourth of the eight steps of yoga described by Patanjali.
Prasad Consecrated food which is distributed after a traditional ceremony.
Puranas Hindu epic poems.
Purusha Pure Consciousness,\”One who sleeps in the city of life\” \”That which fills all, that which dwells in the body (puranatvat)\”, The cosmic Self.
Raga Desire under the form of attachment.
Raja yoga Royal path; the eightfold path of yoga as described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.
Rajas One of the three gunas that compose the universe and all in it: The rajastic aspect refers to the human aspect in man ,in contrast to the animal and divine aspects in him. The rajastic guna is characterised by vibration, activity, and motion.
Rama The divine incarnation whose story is told in the Ramayana.
Rig Veda The earliest section of the Vedas, also known as Rigveda Samhita. The other three, the Yajur, Sama, and Artharva Vedas, derive more than half of their contents from the Rig Veda. This is the section that concerns itself with the mantras, along with the rules for their pronunciation and recitation.
Sadhana Practice, spiritual endeavor. Literally, \”accomplishing\” or \”fulfilling\”. Sadhana is the word for a student\’s sincere efforts along a particular path of practice toward self- realisation.
Sahasrara The crown chakra; the thousand- petalled lotus, located at the crown of the head.
Samadhi Spiritual absorption; the eighth rung of raja yoga. The state in which the yogi is aware of the process of meditation, and the meditator, is samadhi with seed. When the yogi merges into unitary consciousness, it is samadhi without seed.
Samskara Subtle impressions of one\’s own past karmas, or actions. The innermost wall of the city of life is constructed by the samskaras that hold the aspirant\’s attachments and pleasure-seeking desires.
Sannyasin A monk who has given up the pleasure of illusion.
Satya yuga The first of the four yugas (ages) in a cycle of creation. In the satya yuga, knowledge was the means to liberation.
Sexual continence Superior capacity to fully control the creative-sexual potentialTHE SEXUAL CONTINENCE – represents a superior attitude of refraining, restraint and control fully aware of the sexual function, both by man and woman by implying sexual contact with the attainment of a number of orgasms by those two (in unison or separately) but not completed by male ejaculation or by losing explosively the creative potential specifically for female. This superior way to live the sexual act, without exhaustion, allows TRANSMUTATION of the biological sexual, creative potential in higher forms of vital, emotional, mental and spiritual energy, because of the ineffable processes of inner SUBLIMATION.
Shakti Divine force, power of Brahman, creative force of the Absolute Truth.
Shankara Acharya The famous Shankaracharya during his short life established four great monastries in the North , South , East and West of India . These are still in existence , and the Abbot of each is known as the Shankara Acharya
Shanti Spiritual peace.
Shastra A scripture, or revealed Text.
Shiva God in his aspect as Destroyer of the Universe; also the Lord of Yogis and the Destroyer of ignorance. Supreme Consciousness without any attributes.
Siddhi Accomplishment, perfection, achievement. In practicing yoga, as one progresses toward the centre of consciousness, several supernatural capacities unfold, which can be very attractive and distracting. The goal of yoga is to not become caught by the siddhis, but to go beyond.
Soma An aspect of life-sustaining energy; that which fuels the fire of life. In the Upanishads, soma is said to drip from sahasrara chakra; it is imbibed by the coiled energy -kundalini shakti- at muladhara , intoxicating her.
Spiritual path The spiritual path of a human being which aspires sincerely towards GOD is almost always conceived as a road or a path that always starts from the individual state of ignorance (AVIDYA) and in an ascendant way it goes (leads) towards the true reaching of divine wisdom and perfect spiritual illumination.
Stotra A vers.
Surya The sun; solar energy.
Sushumna The central energy channel or nadi that runs along the spinal column from the baseto the brahmarandra, at the crown of the head.
Swadhisthana The sexual power centre.
Swadhyaya Self study, study of the Self, study by oneself, constant japa of the mantra received from a teacher, contemplating the meaning of the mahavakyas, the great sentences of the Upanishads.
Swami(ji) Monk or devotee, adept of the spiritual order of swami.
Tamas One of the attributes of primordial nature, prakriti. Energy that tends to move downward. Its qualities are stability, stagnation, dullness, inertia, darkness, stasis, stupor.
Tantra A particular school of yoga that is practised in three succesive stges: Kaula, Mishra, and Samaya. In Kaula, external objects and tools are used for spiritual enhancement, Mishra is a school of transition wherein an aspirant tries to internalise the external means, Samaya is purely an internal, yogic path in which the yogi meditates on sahasrara, the crown chakra.
Tapas Loosely translated as austerities or penance, the word tapas literally means to shine, to glow, and heat. In a spiritual tradition, this word refers to the discipline that helps one to attain control over one\’s senses and mind, become vibrant, and overcome one\’s weaknesses. It is certainly different from penance or even austerity which, in religious contexts, usually implies self-mortification. The basic purpose of tapas is to transcend the pairs of opposites such as heat/cold and pleasure/pain, and at a physical level, unfold the hidden potentials of body, mind and senses in order to become more creative in life.
Tattva Element. There are five elements: earth, water, fire, air and space.
Treta yuga The second of the four yugas (ages) in a cycle of creation, characterised by the performance of tapas as a means to liberation.
Turiya The fourth, highest , transcendent state of consciousness, transcending the ordinary states: waking, dreaming and deep sleep. This refers to the experience of samadhi or the state of spiritual illumination.
Upanishads The last phase of the development of Vedic literature. The section of Vedic literature that emphasizes the path of knowledge.
Vasudeva A name of God personified: literally \”God of the Real\” – the Real Indweller, the Supreme Self. Also the name of Shri Krishna\’s father.
Vayu Air; vital energy; breath. Vayu also refers to practices related to pranayama.
Vedanta The system of Indian philosophy that expounds the theory of non-dualism. The philosophy of the Vedas, contained in the Upanishads.
Vedanta Sutras First systematic written record of the Vedas as a philosophy, compiled by Vyasa.
Vedas The revealed scriptures of Hinduis.
Vichara Contemplation, right thinking, discrimination.
Vidya Knowledge. There are two kinds of vidya: para vidya, higher knowledge of Brahman, and apara vidya, the lower knowledge of the manifest aspect of reality.
Vishnu God, the Preserver and Sustainer of the Universe.
Vishuddha Throat centre; centre of the space element.
Vritti A technical term meaning a modification of the mind. An idea or thought complex. Mental life is composed of a succession of such thoughts continually rising into consciousness from the unconscious region, where they remain latent as sanskaras, impressions.
Vyasa The famous sage and philosopher who is considered to be the author of all the Puranas, the Brahma Sutras and who also first compiled and organised Vedantic mantras. According to some scholars, Vyasa is the name of a tradition or institution devoted to philosophical and spiritual studies.
Yajur Veda The section of the Vedas that is devoted mainly to ritual ceremonies and external worship.
Yuga A measurement of time consisting of several thousand years.
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