Abhiniveśa  The source of fear, attachment to life; one of the kleśas.

Abhyantara kumbhaka  Holding the breath after inhaling.

Abhyāsa  Practice.

Ācārya  Teacher.

Advaita  Refers to a philosophy of non dualism where everything, including all souls, is the same Being. This philosophy posits no difference between a soul and God.

Agastya  A great sage who was a foremost discipline of Sage Hayagriva, said to be a part manifestation of Vishnu. Agastya kept scrupulous records so that the teachings were largely preserved even into the present day.

Agni  Fire; one of the bhūtas.

Ahamkāra  Ego, in the sense of “I Am.” For example, “I am aware of myself, thus I exist. I am.”

Ahiṁsā  Noninjury, consideration, love; one of the yamas

Ākāśa  Ether; one of the bhūtas, the fifth element in creation, after earth, water, fire, and air. (The sixth is the mind.”

Akashic Records  The place in the universe where all information, especially pertaining to people and events, is stored and available to adepts who can access it.

Ānanda  Bliss. Also the final word in names of monks who have taken Sanyas, or monastic vows, that are directly or indirectly related to the original Adi Shankarachayra who completely reorganized the monastic system in India.

Ananta  Without end.

Aṅga  A “limb,” or aspect, of yoga.

Antara  Within, internal.

Antaraṅga sādhana  Internal practice in reference to Pantañjali’s path of concentration (dhāraṇā), meditation (dhyāna), and integration (samādhi).

Antarāya  Obstacle to a clear and stable mind.

Ap  Water; one of the bhūtas.

Aparigraha  To receive exactly what is appropriate and no more; one of the yamas.

Arati  Literally, “The waving of the light.” It is a short ceremony conducted in fire forms (as compared to the sixteen forms of a complete Hindu ritual). It is similar to Vespers in Christianity.

Artha  Meaning, (life) purpose.

Asmitā  Sense of ego; one of the kleśas.

Asmit samādhi  The merging of the mind with the object of meditation.

Aṣṭāṅga  Eight limbs. The eight limbs of yoga as explained by Patañjali in the second chapter of the Yoga Sūtra.

Asura  Demons in humanlike form. Also sometimes called the daityas, they are the sworn enemies of the celestials or devas.

Atman  The divine flame burning in the Hrit Padma, that goes by many names, including soul or self.

Avatar  A divine being with no karma whatsoever who comes to Earth to perform specific beneficial tasks for humanity. There are many types of avatars.

Bharata  Sanskrit term for India. Also the brother of the Avatar Rama, who, as a faithful steward, ruled Ayodhya when Rama was banished to the forest for fortune years.

Brahma  Personified Vedic God representative of the known universe and all of its contents. Also called the creator of the universe in ancient story-based scriptures called the Puranas.

Brahmarishi  A sage (rishi) who has reached one of the highest possible states of knowledge by being at one with the universe yet is still an individual being. Similar to Subramanya consciousness. Reaching this state is possible only through a combination of effort and grace.

Buddha  Prince Gautama, the Ninth Avatar of Vishnu. Also, a state of consciousness.

Buddhi  The mind in a transformed state, sometimes referred to as an enlightened state. Metaphorically, one of two wives of Ganesha-Ganapathi.

Chakra  Literally, “wheel” in Sanskrit. However, its common meaning refers to various energetic centers located in the subtle body. Although there are dozens of chakras in the subtle body, the six located along the spine and the seventh at the top of the head are most commonly discussed.

Clairaudience  The psychic ability of subtle hearing. One may obtain information about the past, present, and future with this ability.

Clairvoyance  The psychic ability of subtle seeing. In a way similar to clairaudience, one may obtain information about the past, present, and future with this ability.

Dattatreya  The first Sadguru, operating in a state of being and consciousness called Avadhuta, he is the author of the Avadhuta Gita.

Deva  A term for a celestial. It also refers to classes of sentient, non-human entities that are on an evolutionary path somewhat different from humanity. Occasionally, there may be movement of souls from one evolutionary line to the other.

Dhanvantari  The celestial healer who appeared at the churning of the ocean of consciousness just as Lakshmi did. He distributed the Nectar of Immortality while giving discourse on the healing properties of plants, gems, and other remedies.

Dharma  Divine Law. It also refers to the proper progression of events and persons according to a divine order.

Durga  Personified feminine power of protection. Member of the Hindu Feminine Trinity.

Dvaita  Dualism. This philosophical school posits that there is a subtle but important difference between the soul and God.

Gana  Power in one context, sometimes personalized and given a name. Group in another context.

Ganapathi or Ganesha  The personified power of unity that removes obstacles and assigns order to various spiritual powers and abilities.

Garuda The vehicle of Vishnu in the form of a divine eagle.

Gayatri  The feminine name given to the spiritual energy that comes to earth through the sun from the higher realms. It is a personification of spiritual light. Also, a particular rhythm or cadence given to a class of mantras.

Gayatri mantra  The mantra often called “The Essence of the Vedas.” This mantra on universal spiritual light and sound is practiced by Hindus and some branches of Buddhism who work with mantra.

Granthis  Spiritual knots, three in number, located along the spine in the subtle body that prevent premature entrance of kundalini energy into centers on the spine above the sacral center (Swadhisthana chakra). Were this energy to travel up the spine before the spiritual vehicle is ready, harm to the physical body could result.

Guna  A quality of nature. Three are generally discussed. Tao Guna the inert, Rajo Gunathe active, and Sattwa Guna the tranquil. Earth elements are Tamo Guna, humanity is generally Rajo Guna, and the celestials or devas are Sattwa Guna, which makes them hard to defeat.

Guru  Literally, “that which dispels darkness.” In this case, it is the darkness of ignorance. Although many teachers hold that the true guru is not a person but a principle, the term “guru” is often used colloquially to denote an advanced spiritual teacher (also see upaguru). An enlightened spiritual teacher with the ability to transmit spiritual energy by one or more methods.

Hayagriva  A sage who had two well-known students: Agastya in Hinduism and Atisha in Tibetan Buddhism. Hayagriva was a foremost teacher of the secrets of Shakti, sometimes called Tantra.

Hylozoism  Greek word meaning life at every level of creation.

Ida  The masculine current in the subtle body, along the spine. One of the serpents shown in the Caduceus.

Jagad Guru  An enlightened world teacher. Those spiritual figures around whom the world’s greatest religions have formed are examples of Jagad Gurus. There are also Jagad Gurus with broad-reaching spiritual authority in specific geographical districts in India. These divine “precincts” are called maths. Jagad Gurus exist in the Shankarachayra lineage and the Madvacharya lineage.

Japa  The repetition of mantras in an ongoing discipline or as a lifestyle. Japan can be audibly vocal, whispered, or completely silent. Sometimes japa can occur spontaneously, without any conscious effort. This is referred to as Ajapa Japa.

Kailas  Mountain in the Himalayas where Shiva is said to dwell.

Kala  Sanskrit for “time.”

Kali Yuga  Spiritual Winter. This time period, lasting 432,000 years, began just over 5,000 years ago according to calculations based upon data in the Mahabharata. This date for the inception of Kali Yuga is used by the Brahmin Priest Class, the Shankaracharyas, and other Hindu spiritual authorities.

Kama  Carnal desire and sometimes any desire. In the mythic Hindu stories, the character Kama is similar to Cupid, but with far-reaching abilities to create illusions that appear absolutely real.

Karma  The Law of Cause and Effect. The sum total of actions and thoughts that cause a reaction or return of like energy to the source that generated it. Reincarnation or rebirth continues until all karma is balanced or neutralized. Sancta Karma: To total all karma from all lifetimes. Prarabdha Karma: Karma for one life, including planetary karma represented by the natal birth chart is a particular birth or incarnation. Agama Karma: Returning karma from this and other lifetimes. Kriyamana Karma: Immediate results from present actions.

Kashyapa  Sage who is the “father” of several sentient races of beings. He is said to have mated with the feminine of several species to gain this title. The offspring of those unions have formed different races of intelligent beings.

Krishna  Eighth Avatar of Vishnu. Born more than five thousand years ago, Krishna is said to be the most complete incarnation of divinity to come to Earth. He left when Kali Yugaor Spiritual Winter began.

Kundalini  The coiled, serpentine feminine energy laying in repose at the base of the human spine. Although powering all activities in the physical and subtle bodies, it is still characterized as dozing or being asleep in most people. When it awakens, new spiritual abilities manifest in individuals. Eventually it moves as an energy force up the spine in the subtle body, usually over more than one lifetime, until it reaches the crown chakra at the top of the head. At each chakra located along the spine, it releases energy leading to increased spiritual knowledge and abilities. Once the energy has reached the top of the head, one becomes “Shiva” and is liberated from the necessity of rebirth, although one may choose rebirth for the purpose of service to mankind. All forms of shake are generated here: Kriya, Jnana, Iccha, Para, and Mantra, to name a few.

Lakshmana  Rama’s younger brother who traveled with him when Rama was banished to the forest for fourteen years.

Lakshmi Tantra  A text in which Lakshmi explains her relationship with Narayan and gives teachings about the nature of the universe and its creation. She teaches in great depth and provides mantras for working with her energy.

Laya  Dissolution.

Laya Yoga  Yoga that achieves its goal by dissolving into the supreme. Through mantra, pranayama, or both.

Lila (and Lila the game)  Drama. The game is played representing the “drama” of our evolution and life. There are places where one advances quite high, only to slide back down many levels due to some fault or flaw. The modern game of Chutes and Ladders is derived from this ancient game.

Loka  A plane or level of existence. There are said to be seven upper luminous Lokas, only three of which are physical in existence, and seven dark or nether Lokas. Spiritual beings occupy the luminous Lokas while negative spirits inhabit the lower Lokas. The Earth is said to be the first or bottom of the upper spheres of light. Thus, negative spirits are constantly trying to get here, where they can cause havoc.

Madvacharya (Madva)  Enlightened sage who taught Advaya Tattwa or Unity in Diversity. Many followers of Advaita said he followed Dualism because he said that there was not only a difference between souls and God, but that there were different classes of souls with varying destinies. Like Shankaracharya, he never lost a debate. They lived in different eras.

Maha  Great. Also a spiritual plane (Maha Loka) in the nonphysical universe where sages and saints of high attainment are said to dwell.

Mala  Hindu Rosary with 108 beads and a guru or meru (mountain) bead.

Mandala  A divine design.

Manjushri  Bodhisattva of wisdom and knowledge, usually shown holding the sword of discriminating wisdom. Tibetan spouse of Saraswati.

Mantra  A spiritual formula producing specific results, previously tested and verified by an ancient sage. There are millions of mantras in the oral and written records.

Mantra Siddhi  The power one attains when one has unwrapped the power of the mantra through repetition. Mantra Siddhi is generally recognized as beginning at 125,000 repetitions of a mantra, and increases as more repetitions are completed.

Markandeya  A 16-year-old sage who was liberated from the necessity of rebirth by a cry to Shiva that subsequently became known as the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra. Markandeya is the Seer of this mantra practiced to combat disease and death.

Math  Geographical spiritual district which is presided over by a lead Jagad Guru and his handpicked successor, a second-in-command Jagad Guru.

Matrika  Name given to the Sanskrit alphabet. Esoterically referred to as “She who binds and She who sets free.” If you know her secrets, combinations of her letters (mantras) can free one from the rounds of rebirth. If one is ignorant of the letters, one will continue to be karmically bound by ignorance.

Mudra  Divine gesture. Exact placement of arms, hands, and fingers are said to produce specific energy effects if practiced by an adept or spiritually advanced individual.

Nadi(s)  Astral nerve tubes, similar to veins, which run through the subtle body.

Nandi  A bull who is the vehicle of Shiva.

Narayana  Personification of the source of all of this reality, including the creation of Brahma the Creator. Also concurrently, the three-fold flame burning in the Hrit Padma. This seemingly duality is intended to demonstrate that we may seem parted but are never really separated from God or the Divine.

Padma  Lotus in Sanskrit. Also a name that is given to women as a slang form of Lakshmi.

Paramahansa  The supreme swan. The swan here is another name for the self in the Hrit Padma. Paramahansa is a title given to a person who has demonstrated exceptionally high spiritual attainment. In modern times, Paramahansa Muktananda, Paramahansa Yoganandya and Paramahansa Ramakrishna are well-known examples.

Parama Shiva  The Supreme Consciousness in which all is contained: all consciousness, all energy, everything.

Parasurama  The sixth Avatar of Vishnu. He was instructed in the mysteries of the Great Feminine as part of his preparation for his avatar work by the Avadhuta, Sadguru Dattatreya.

Parvati  Spouse of Shiva. In other guises she is also Durga, Kali, and Chamundi.

Pingala  Feminine energy channel in the subtle body along the spine. One of the serpents shown in the Caduceus.

Prana  A life force that exists in the subtle body. There are five divisions of this life force: Prana—situated in the region of the heart, this energy moves the lungs for inhalation and exhalation; Apana—situated below the navel, this energy is associated with elimination of spent energy and waste products from the physical body; Vyana—this energy pervades the whole body and gives rise to the sense of touch; Udana—an energy centered in the throat that provides connection and disconnection of the mind from the body during deep sleep or when engaged in advanced yogic practices. It does this by closing off the throat while leaving a chord or strand attached to the traveling subtle body; Samana—this energy at the navel center digests food and distributes the energy derived to all parts of the body, permeating the subtle body equally in every part.

Pranayama  Scientific breathing. There are breathing techniques that produce a variety of specific results, including activating the kundalini.

Puranas  Indian prehistory, myth and stories all mixed up together. Vast amounts of spiritual information and teachings exist in the many Puranas that still exist.

Puja  Generic Sanskrit term for ceremonial worship. Water ceremony.

Purusha  Transcendental overself. The aggregate spiritual soul mind of humanity and yet more as well.

Rama  Seventh Avatar of Vishnu. He came to show how potential nobility can actually manifest. He was the perfect ruler, husband, sage, friend, and brother.

Rig Veda  One of the four foundational scriptures of Hinduism that deals with matters of cosmology and creation of the cosmos.

Sadguru A God-realized teacher beyond the realms of energy-identified existence or mind-identified existence. A being firmly established in a form of enlightened activity that appears similar to daily human life. The Sadguru has a specific job of leading souls to spiritual freedom. Sadgurus have no karma in the normal sense of the word. Any seeming karma, called “Yoga Yoga Samskaras,” is created by Sadgurus to help hide their true nature and aid their work.

Sadhana  Any regularly practiced spiritual discipline.

Samadhi  Mind merged, absorbed in the divine. There are several types of samadhi. With form: where one is merged with a form of the divine beloved. Formless: where the meditator is one with the great principles that formed and operate the universe at all levels.

Sanatana  Eternal.

Sanskrit  Ancient language sometimes called Deva Lingua, or language of the gods. Also referred to as the Mother of Tongues since so many modern languages are derived from it.

Shaivism  The study of consciousness and its attributes through Shiva, commonly known as the masculine principle in the universe. In the US, Kashmir Shivaism has become popular as a way to intellectually explore cosmogenesis and personal evolution.

Shakti  See Kundalini.

Shankaracharya  An enlightened sage who reorganized the swami (monk) order in India. He may have single-handedly rescued the intellectual traditions and knowledge base of Hinduism, saving it from disappearing under the sweeping force of Buddhism at the time he lived.

Shatrugna  Younger brother of the Avatar Rama who always was in the company of another brother, Bharata.

Shiva  Personification of consciousness in a male form. This personification is used in myths and stories to make complex ideas easier to understand.

Shiva Sutras  Revelations that reportedly appeared carved into a rock, the location of which was revealed in a dream to a sage. This scripture is a foundation of Kashmir Shaivism.

Shushumna  The spine in the subtle body, an energy body that interpenetrates the physical. The subtle body contains the chakras.

Subramanya  Son of Shiva and Parvati. Some stories place his birth prior to Ganesha while others place it later. Also goes by Kartikeya and Skanda. Esoterically, Subramanya consciousness is the highest possible stage of consciousness while still identified as an individual. The next step is merging into the divine state in which there is no “self and other.” Only unity exists.

Siddha  One who has attained siddhis. One who is on a path of perfection of the Divine Vehicle—the physical and subtle body.

Siddhi  A seemingly magical spiritual ability or gift. Plural is siddhis.

Suktam  Hymn, usually to a specific deity, such as the Narayana Suktam or the Purusha Suktam.

Turiya  The highest category or state of consciousness. Most Hindu scriptures from different points of view agree on this word and this definition.

Turiyatita  A division of Turiya state of consciousness that is particular to the Shiva Sutras.

Upaguru  Literally, “the enlightener without form.” The omnipresent “teacher without form” that can manifest in seemingly bizarre ways. It can appear as “the magazine article that seems like it was written just for you,” or “a statement by an actor in a television show or movie that is so powerful for you that it nearly brings you out of your chair.” These are examples of how the upaguru, a principle residing in everyone, may teach and lead.

Upanishads  A series of scriptures which are all that remain of a much larger, older body of scriptures. Originally written on palm leaves many centuries ago, the number of scriptures became so unwieldy that they were summarized. Some Upanishads are actually summaries of summaries.

Vahan  Sanskrit term for Vehicle, as in the vehicle of Shiva (which is a bull).

Vaishnavite  A follower or scripture pertaining to Vishnu.

Vedas  Four central scriptures from the Upanishads that were never summarized and remain intact. They are the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, and Artharva Veda.

Vishwa  Universal.

Yuga  Spiritual Age, or period of time in the life of the universe. There are Yugas and Maha Yugas.
Winter (Kali Yuga): 432,000 years (we are approx. 5,000 years into Kali Yuga)
Spring (Treta Yuga): 1,296,000 years
Summer (Satya or Krita Yuga): 1,728,000 years
Autumn (Dwapara Yuga): 864,000 years
A Complete Yuga Revolution (Mahayuga): 4,320,000,000 years
It continues from there: 1,000 revolutions is a Manvantara and is 4,320,000,000 years long. This amount of time is also called a “Day in the Life of Brahma.” It is followed by a “Night of Equal Length.” 360 days and nights of Brahma are called “one year of Brahma.” One hundred such years constitute the life of this universe, or a Maha Kalpa—311,040,000,000,000 years. There is also a short 24,000-year cycle in which the axis of the earth spends 2,000 years in each sign of the zodiac. It is this cycle that astrologers are referring to when they say that we are in the Age of Aquarius.