Glossary




A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 

A

ABHANGA
A devotional song composed in the Marathi language expressing the longing and love of a devotee for God.

ABHAYAHASTA
Abhaya means helping and hasta means hand; a gesture of encouragement. Sri Swami Vishwananda has said it is “a blessing received from the Guru. … You go to the Master, you bow your head, you offer the sahasrara (crown chakra), and the teacher touches you on the head, no? He gives you the blessing that says not to worry, the Divine will look after. (Gurupurnima, Shree Peetha Nilaya 25th July 2010)

ABHISHEK
A ritual bathing offered as worship (puja) to a statue or other representation of a deity.

ABISHEKAM
Form of veneration of the Divine through ritual bathing (water, milk, yoghurt, ghee, honey, sugar) and the offering of fruit, flowers and incense. Every external part of the ritual and each substance involved have a symbolic meaning.

ABSOLUTE
The highest Reality; supreme Consciousness; the pure, untainted, changeless Truth.

AHOBHILAM
The temple is dedicated to Lord Narasimha, the lion form of Lord Vishnu. It is believed that Lord Narasimha manifested himself on the natural rock cave.

AMRIT
1) The nectar of immortality; the divine nectar that flows down from the sahasrara when the Kundalini is awakened.

AMRITA
The nectar of immortality that emerged from the churning of the Ocean of Milk. (see Churning of the Milk Ocean)

ANNAPURNA
(lit., filled with nourishment) 1) The great Shakti depicted as the goddess of nourishment and abundance.

ANUGRAHA
1) Grace; one of the five functions of the Lord that ultimately culminates in liberation.

ARATI
1) A ritual act of worship during which a flame, symbolic of the individual soul, is waved before the form of a deity, sacred being, or image that embodies the light of Consciousness. 2) The name of the morning and evening prayer that is sung with the waving of lights.

ARJUNA
A hero in the Mahabharata war in the Bhagavad Gita; the archer in the chariot with Sri Krishna who humbled Himself to be Arjuna’s charioteer and teach him about his dharma and Bhakti Yoga.

ASANA
1) A hatha yoga posture practiced to strengthen and purify the body and develop one-pointedness of mind. 2) A seat or mat on which one sits for meditation.

ASHRAM
The dwelling place of a Guru or saint; a monastic retreat site where seekers engage in spiritual practices and study the sacred teachings of yoga.

ASHRAM DHARMA
Right action in relation to ashram life; the inner posture and outer behavior that allow a person to devote himself or herself to the high attitude and disciplines of ashram life. See also DHARMA and GURUKULA.

ASURA
Demon (a-sura = without light)

ATMA
Soul that is supreme and super conscious; the individual soul, known as the living entity; Jivatma.

ATMA KRIYA YOGA
Atma means Self, Kri means action and ya means awareness, thus a series of yogic techniques given by Mahavatar Kriya Babaji to his disciple, Sri Swami Vishwananda, who has given it to the world, that helps one Realise one’s True Self – Divine Love. Techniques in this Kriya Yoga system include the OM Healing technique, asanas , japa, meditation, mudras and pranayama.

ATMAN
The individual Self or eternal soul; true Self.

AUSTERITIES
1) Rigorous spiritual practices. 2) Abandonment of the pursuit of worldly pleasure for the purpose of spiritual attainment.

AVADHUTA
An enlightened being who lives in a state beyond body-consciousness and whose behavior is not bound by ordinary social conventions.

AVATAR
A fully realized being sent back to Earth by God to help redeem souls and bring them back to their Eternal Home.

AYODHYA
An ancient city described as the birth place of Rama. It was capital of the ancient Kosala Kingdom.

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B

BABA
A term of affection and respect for a saint or holy man.

BALARAM
The elder brother of Krishna who incarnated with Sri Krishna and was carried in the womb of Vasudeva’s, first wife, Rohini, much to her surprise, since she was beyond child- bearing age when He appeared there. He was so powerful that He single-handedly, at a very tender age, killed the great demon, Asuradhenuka, who had the form of an ass.

BAPTISM
Baptism is a sacrament (sacred secret) common to all Christian traditions. Practiced by religious traditions worldwide, it became associated with the early Christian movement following the baptism of Jesus of Nazareth by John, called the Baptist or the Baptizer. Jesus would later issue a Great Commission to his church: Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel, baptising them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 28:19)

BATTI
A kind of bread.

BHAGAVAD GITA
In it’s own words, the Gita is described as “the scripture of yoga and the science of God-Realisation” (brahmavidyayam yogashastre). Bhagavad Gita means Song of the Spirit… and consists of 700 verses in which Bhagavan Krishna’s intent in the dialogue between Him and Arjuna is to overthrow the usurping psychological forces of the body-bound ego and material ignorance and reclaim his eternal spiritual identity – one with Spirit.”

BHAGAWAN
(lit., the Lord) One endowed with the six attributes or powers of infinity: spiritual power, righteousness, glory, splendor, knowledge, and renunciation. A term of great honor.

BHAGIRATH
A great king in Hindu mythology who brought the River Ganges to Earth.

BHAJAN
A Hindi devotional song in praise of God.

BHAKTA
One who practices bhakti is called a bhakta.

BHAKTI
In Hinduism Bhakti is a term for religious devotion, understood as active involvement of a devotee in divine worship.

BHARATA
Second brother of Lord Rama whose mother wanted him to rule in Lord Rama’s place, so their broken-hearted father acquiesced to her wishes, because of a promise he had made to her. Bharata was mortified when he came back to Ayodhya and found this out and tried to persuade (to no avail) his brother, who was devoted to Dharma, to return from exile in the forest to his rightful rule of Ayodhya.

BHASMA
Ash from a sacred fire ritual (yajna), charged with the power of mantra. Bhasma is used to draw three horizontal stripes on the forehead and other parts of the body, representing the three qualities of nature reduced to ash by spiritual practices and the power of grace

BIBLE
A collection of writings that comprise the main Christian teachings.

BINDI
A red dot worn between the eyebrows marking the location of the third eye, the eye of inner vision or spiritual wisdom.

BRAHMA
The absolute Reality manifested as the active creator of the universe, personified as one of the three gods of the Hindu trinity. The other two are Vishnu, who represents the principle of sustenance, and Shiva, who represents the principle of destruction.

BRAHMAN
According to the Vedantins, the Brahman is both the efficient and material cause of the visible Universe, the all- pervading soul and spirit of the Universe, the essence from which all created things are produced and into which they are all absorbed at dissolution. The Brahman is not generally an object of worship, but rather, it is an object of meditation and attaining it is the ultimate aim of knowledge.

BRAHMIN
A caste of Hindu society whose members are by tradition priests and scholars.

BUDDHISM
A religion or philosophy founded on the teachings of the Indian teacher Siddhārtha Gautama.

BUDDHISM, TIBETAN
A type of Buddhism whose main Buddha is Padmasambhava.

BUDDHISM, ZEN
A type of Buddhism that is practiced extensively in Japan and includes the incorporation of Taoism.

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C

CHAITANYA
1) The fundamental, all-pervasive, divine Consciousness. 2) When used in reference to a mantra, chaitanya means that the mantra is enlivened with grace and thus has the capacity to draw one's mind spontaneously into meditative stillness.

CHAKRA
A center of energy located in the subtle body where the subtle nerve channels converge like the spokes of a wheel. Six major chakras lie within the central channel. When awakened, kundalini shakti flows upward from the base of the spine through these six centers to the seventh chakra, the sahasrara, at the crown of the head.

CHAKRAS
Chakra = wheel. “The seven centres of life force and consciousness in the spine and the brain that keep the physical and astral body of Man alive. The seven centres are divine exits or entrances through which the soul has descended into the body and through which the soul has to ascend, again, by meditation. The soul reaches cosmic consciousness through seven consecutive stages. By consciously ascending through the seven opened or awakened cerebrospinal centres, it begins the path to infinity – the true path, which finally leads to confluence with God.

CHANTING
Repetition of a mantra or Divine Name.

CHITI
The power of universal Consciousness; the creative aspect of God.

CHRISTIANITY
A religion in which followers see Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God.

CHURNING OF THE OCEAN OF MILK
It is said [in the Vedas] that the demigods and the demons assembled on the shore of the Milk Ocean that lies in the celestial region of the cosmos. The demigods and the demons made a plan to churn the Milk Ocean to produce the nectar of immortality. They then agreed to share the nectar equally once it was produced. For the task of churning the Milk Ocean the Mandara Mountain was used as the churning rod and Vasuki, the king of serpents, became the rope for churning. As the churning began the Mandara Mountain began to sink deep into the ocean, at which time Sri Vishnu incarnated as a great tortoise [Kurma Avatara] and supported the mountain on His back. With the demigods at Vasuki’s tail and the demons at his head, they churned the milk ocean for one thousand years. At last Dhanvantari [Sri Vishnu Avatara, physician of the gods and father of Ayurveda] appeared carrying the pot of nectar of immortality in His hands. Seeing Dhanvantari with the pot of nectar, both the demigods and demons became anxious. The demigods, being fearful of what would happen if the demons drank their share of the nectar of immortality, forcibly seized the pot. Wherever the demigods went with the pot of nectar, fierce fighting ensued. …In an endeavor to keep the nectar from falling into the hands of the demons, the demigods hid it in four places on the earth, Prayag (Allahabad), Hardwar, Ujjain, and Nasik. At each of the hiding places, a drop of immortal nectar spilled from the pot and landed on the earth. These four places are since believed to have acquired mystical power. Eventually, the demons overpowered the demigods and took possession of the nectar of immortality. To rescue the demi-gods from the hands of fate, Maha Vishnu incarnated as a beautiful woman, Mohini- murti, and approached the demons. …While the demons were thus bewildered by Her beauty, Mohini-murti seized the nectar and returned it to the demigods, who drank it immediately.

CONSCIOUSNESS
The intelligent, supremely independent, divine Energy, which creates, pervades, and supports the entire universe.

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D

DAKSHINA
Dakshina is typically used to mean an offering usually an “Offering in gratitude to the Guru.” Dakshina is also a Vedic Goddess, who represents discrimination. Discrimination is one of the faculties of Truth Consciousness, and is the capability to differentiate between truth and falsehood.

DARSHAN
literally sight or seeing. Darshan is the sight of a holy being as well as the blessing received by such a sight.

DASHARATHA
The father of Lord Rama.

DEVA
A deity or god.

DEVAKI
Birth mother of Bhagavan Krishna and wife to Vasudeva (see Vasudeva), who had done much tapasya (penance) to have the boon of being Sri Krishna’s mother. Sri Swami Vishwananda has said: “…Narayana… chose the right time and manifested Himself into the womb of Devaki. ….. in one of their past incarnations, Devaki and Vasudeva had been a king and a queen who had wanted so much to have God as their child. They had done penance for thousands of years. Mahavishnu was really pleased with them and had promised to them: Whenever I will incarnate myself next time, it will be through you.” (Krishna Janmashtami, Shree Peetha Nilaya, Springen, Germany, 13th August 2009)

DEVI
The great mother Goddess; the beloved of Shiva who represents Shakti, or cosmic energy.

DEVI / DEVA
(sometimes called a Demi-God) Literally, shining one. A Divine Being, a celestial.

DEVOTEE
One who is ardently given (devoted) to a Guru or Master.

DHANVANTARI
In the Hindu tradition, an incarnation of Narayana. He appears in the Vedas and Puranas as the physician of theGods (Devas) and the giver of Ayurvedic medicine.

DHARANA
A centering technique; a spiritual exercise that leads one to the experience of God within.

DHARMA
Essential duty; the law of righteousness; living in accordance with the divine will. The highest dharma is to recognize the Truth in one's own heart.

DHOTI
Cloth worn by men around the waist and covering the legs.

DIKSHA
Initiation given by a Guru.

DISCIPLE
A devotee who is completely surrendered to his or her Guru.

DIVALI OR DIWALI
The Indian “festival of lights”, celebrated annually around mid-October or November. Divali is a festival of the light which dispels the darkness of our ignorance. The name “Diwali” is a contraction of “Deepavali” which translates into “row of lamps”. Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (diyas or dīpas) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. During Diwali, everyone wears new clothes and shares sweets and snacks with family members and friends. Most Indian business communities begin the financial year on the first day of Diwali. Diwali commemorates the return of Lord Rama, along with Sita and Lakshmana, from his 14-year- long exile and vanquishing the demon-king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, the people of Ayodhya, the Capital of Rama, illuminated the kingdom with earthen diyas and burst firecrackers.

DIVINE MOTHER
Devi is the Divine Mother of Hinduism. Her name means goddess. All Hindu goddesses may be viewed as different manifestations of Devi. In some forms she is benign and gentle, while in other forms she is dynamic and ferocious, but in all forms she is helpful to her devotees. Her main Scripture, adored by Hindus, is the Devi Mahatmyam (also known as Chandi Path and Durga Saptashati), in which an allegorical telling of the binding force of Maya and ego is represented through devotional stories about the Divine Mother slaying demons which afflict the world.

DIVINE NAMES
The Names of God.

DIVYA DIKSHA
The bestowal of divine initiation, shaktipat.

DIWALI
A four-day festival, falling in October-November, celebrated by displaying lights and worshiping Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.

DRAUPATI
The wife of the five Pandavas (see Mahabharata).

DRISHTI
Vision, usually in the context of seeing with the outlook of God.

DURGA
The fierce aspect of the universal Shakti or divine Mother, who destroys limitations and evil tendencies. She is often depicted as the eight-armed warrior goddess who rides a tiger and carries weapons.

DURGA DEVI
Durga in Sanskrit means “She who is incomprehensible or difficult to reach.” Goddess Durga is a form of Shakti worshiped for her gracious as well as terrifying aspect. Mother of the Universe, she represents the infinite power of the universe and is a symbol of a female dynamism. The manifestation of Goddess Durga is said to emerge from Her formless essence and the two are inseparable. Durga, a beautiful warrior seated upon a tiger, was the first appearance of the great goddess. The circumstance of her miraculous arrival was the tyranny of the monster-demon, Mahishasur, who through terrific austerities had acquired invincible strength. The Gods were afraid of this shape-shifting water-buffalo bull, because neither Vishnu nor Shiva could prevail against him. It seemed that only the joint energy of Shakti was capable of vanquishing Mahisha, and so it was the eighteen-armed Durga who went out to do battle.

DURYODHANA
The eldest of the Kauravan brothers who was the enemy of the Pandavan brothers in the Mahabharata war see.

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E

EGO
In yoga, the limited sense of "I" that is identified with the body, mind, and senses; sometimes described as "the veil of suffering."

ENLIGHTENMENT
The final attainment on the spiritual path, when the limited sense of "I" merges into supreme Consciousness.

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G

GADHA
Mace

GANESH
The elephant-headed god, also known as Ganapati. Son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, he is worshiped at the beginning of any undertaking and in many festivals as the god of wisdom, the destroyer of sorrows, and the remover of obstacles.

GANESHA
The elephant-headed son of Parvati Who is the remover of obstacles; Lord (Pati) of the Ganas (spirits that always accompany Shiva); God of wisdom; the granter of success is spiritual and material life. In pujas and yajnas he is worshipped first and is, therefore, known as Adideva, the First God.

GANGA DEVI
The name of Ganga appears only twice in the Rig Veda and it was only later that Ganga assumed great importance as a goddess. According to the Vishnu Purana, she was created from the sweat of Lord Vishnu’s Lotus Feet. Hence, she is also called Vishnupadi - the one flowing from the foot of Vishnu. According to Devi Bhagavata Purana, Sri Vishnu has three wives, who constantly quarrel with each other, so that eventually, he keeps only Lakshmi, giving Ganga to Shiva and Saraswati to Brahma.

GHEE
Clarified butter.

GOPIS/GOPAS
“Bhagavan Krishna’s childhood companions, who with Him tended the village herds of cows in the sylvan environs of Vrindavan and who shared with him the purity of divine Love and friendship that bears no taint of carnal expression or desire.”

GOVINDA
One of the names of God, often assigned to Lord Krishna.

GRACE
The infinite power of divine love that creates, maintains, and pervades the universe. When awakened within a seeker by a Guru, this power leads the seeker to Self-realization.

GUNAS
The three basic qualities of nature that determine the inherent characteristics of all created things. They are sattva (purity, light, harmony, intelligence); rajas (activity, passion); and tamas (dullness, inertia, ignorance).

GURU
Gu means darkness and ru means the act of removal; the teacher, the Spiritual Master one who dispels darkness (ignorance) of the mind (ego/personality).

GURU GITA
(lit., song of the Guru) A sacred text consisting of mantras that describe the nature of the Guru, the Guru-disciple relationship, and techniques of meditation on the Guru.

GURU MANTRA
A sacred, potent vibratory chant given by one’s Guru that helps the disciple to purify his thoughts and actions when done according to the Guru’s guidance.

GURU PRINCIPLE
The universal power of grace present as the inner Self of all beings.

GURU PURNIMA
In India, the full moon of the month of Ashada (July-August) is honored as the most auspicious and important of the entire year. This moon's luminous brilliance and perfect form are seen as expressions of the Guru's gift of grace and the attainment of Self-realization.

GURU'S FEET
The Indian scriptures revere the Guru's feet, which are said to embody Shiva and Shakti, knowledge and action, the emission and reabsorption of creation. Powerful vibrations of shakti flow from the Guru's feet. They are a mystical source of grace and illumination, and a figurative term for the Guru's teachings.

GURU'S SANDALS
The Indian scriptures revere the Guru's feet, which are said to embody Shiva and Shakti, knowledge and action, the emission and reabsorption of creation. Powerful vibrations of shakti flow from the Guru's feet. They are a mystical source of grace and illumination, and a figurative term for the Guru's teachings.

GURUDEVA
“Divine Teacher”; a customary Sanskrit term of respect used in addressing and referring to one’s spiritual teacher.

GURUKULA
In Vedic times, spiritual aspirants would serve the Guru at his house or ashram for a period of time, studying the scriptures, and practicing self-inquiry and other spiritual disciplines under the guidance of the Master.

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H

HANUMAN
Sri Swami Vishwananda has said about Hanuman: “Hanuman is considered to be the model of bhakti. …As you know, Hanuman is an incarnation of Shiva. When Rama came down, all the Deities manifested Themselves in the form of Monkeys – Vanara Sena. And Hanuman is Shiva Himself, actually. …..You know, Hanuman is considered as the Ocean of Wisdom…” (Hanuman Jayanti, Shree Peetha Nilaya, Springen, Germany, 30 March 2010).

HARI, LORD
(Om) yam brahma vedanta-vido vadanti, pare pradhanam purusham tathanye. vishvodgateh karanam ishvaram va, tasmai namo vighna-vinashaya meaning Obeisances unto Him who is the destroyer of all obstacles, who the knowers of Vedanta describe as the Supreme Brahman, and who others describe as the pradhana, or totality of mundane elements. Some describe Him as the supreme male person, or purusha, while others describe Him as the Supreme Lord and the cause of the creation of the universe.” (Vishnu Purana)

HATHA YOGA
Yogic practices, both physical and mental, performed for the purpose of purifying and strengthening the physical and subtle bodies.

HINDU-TRINITY
Creator-Brahma, Preserver/Sustainer-Vishnu, Destroyer-Shiva

HINDUISM
With about 900 million followers (over 13 % of the world population) Hinduism is, after Christianity and Islam, the third biggest religion on Earth and it has its origin in India. The followers are called Hindus. Hinduism is composed of different streams that influence each other and sometimes overlay each other, but have differences in the Holy Scriptures, the dogma, the Gods and rituals.

HIRANYAGARBHA LINGAM
The golden womb; God, the immanent spirit of the universe; God the Father, transcendent reality.

HIRANYAKASHIPU
Hiranya = gold; Kashipu = soft feathers or bed; the one who loves gold and soft beds. He is a demon (asura) who was slain by Narayana in his Narasimha (man-lion) incarnation and who was the father of Prahlad.

HOLIKA
“Holika is the sister of Hiranyakashipu… and she was blessed for so many years of penance with a shawl. If ever she wore this shawl, fire couldn’t burn her.”* She tried to use this shawl to keep herself safe from the fire in an attempt to burn Prahlad for her brother. *(Sri Swami Vishwananda, Gaura Purnima at Shree Peetha Nilaya, Springen, Germany, 2 March 2010.)

HRDAYA MUDRA
Hrdaya means heart; a mudra for opening the heart (see Mudra).

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I

INCARNATION
When a Deity or soul takes an earthly form.

INDRA
Indra is the king of the gods and ruler of the heavens. Indra is the god of thunder and rain and a great warrior, a symbol of courage and strength. He leads the Deva (the gods who form and maintain Heaven) and the elements, such as Agni (Fire), Varuna (Water) and Surya (Sun), and constantly wages war against the opponents of the gods, the demon-like Asuras. As the god of war, he is also regarded as one of the Guardians of the directions, representing the east.

INNER ENEMIES
The inner enemies spoken about in Vedanta: desire, anger, delusion, pride, greed, and envy.

ISLAM
A religion in which there is one God, Allah, and in which Mohammad is seen as the main prophet or Saint.

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J

JAGADGURU
A world teacher; a great Guru.

JAI
Sanskrit word meaning “hail” or “victory”; used in the same way that “ave” is used in Christian chants.

JAI GURUDEV
A greeting meaning “victory to the Divine Guru”.

JANMASHTAMI
birthday.

JAPA
Repetition of a mantra, either silently or aloud.

JAPA MALA
Chanting the Name of God or a mantra is Japa. A mala is generally a 108 beaded necklace used to count as one chants which collects the vibration produced by one’s chanting the sacred mantra of Divine Name of God, hence it becomes a source of healing, so should always be kept safe in one’s Mala bag.

JAYA
Victory; hail; salutations.

JESUS
Son of God, Christ, who came to redeem the world and bring new ways of seeing it.

JI
Suffix added to a name or a title, denoting respect.

JIVAN MUKTA
Mukti means release; a liberated sage living in the world but being not of the world.

JNANA
True knowledge.

JNANESHWAR MAHARAJ
(1275-1296) Foremost among the saints of Maharashtra and a child yogi of extraordinary powers. His verse commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, the Jnaneshvari, written in the Marathi language, is acknowledged as one of the world's most important spiritual works. He also composed a short work, the Amritanubhava, and over one hundred abhangas, or devotional songs in Marathi, in which he describes various spiritual experiences following the awakening of kundalini.

JUDAISM
A religion whose main teachings are found in the Torah and whose worshippers, the Jews, are descendents of Abraham.

JYOTA SE JYOTA
A chant; an invocation to the Guru asking for the flame of divine love in the disciple's heart to be kindled with the Guru's own heart flame.

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K

KALASH PUJA
A kalash is a copper pot and puja means worship or a ritual in honour of the Gods; a coconut is placed on top of the kalash during the ritual representing the heart of the Deity; the kalash, also, represents the perfection of the devotees’ heart. Kalki Avatara: The future tenth incarnation of Maha Vishnu in the form of a rider on a white horse who will restore Dharma. He will come to end the present age of darkness and destruction known as Kali Yuga. The name Kalki is often a metaphor for eternity or time. Further meanings are destroyer of foulness, destroyer of confusion, destroyer of darkness or annihilator of ignorance.

KALI MA
Kali, the Dark Mother, is one such Deity with whom devotees have a very loving and intimate bond, in spite of her fearful appearance. In this relationship, the worshipper becomes a child and Kali assumes the form of the ever-caring mother. Kali is the fearful and ferocious form of the Mother Goddess. She assumed the form of a powerful goddess and became popular with the composition of the Devi Mahatmya, a text of the 5th - 6th century AD.

KAMSA
Brother of Devaki (see Devaki), who imprisoned her and Vasudeva (see Vasudeva), her husband, “because an Akashvani, a celestial announcement, had said to Kansa that the eighth child of Devaki would kill him.” (Sri Swami Vishwananda, Krishna Janmashtami, Shree Peetha Nilaya, Springen, Germany, 13th August 2009.)

KARMA
From Sanskrit kri=to do. Effects of previous actions from this life or preceding lives, the redeeming law of karma is, according to the scriptures of the Hindus, the law of action and reaction, of cause and effect, of sowing and reaping. The natural justice causes that each human being becomes the creator of his fate by his actions and thoughts. 4

KASHMIR SHAIVISM
A branch of the Shaivite philosophical tradition, propounded by Kashmiri sages, that explains how the formless supreme Principle, known as Shiva, manifests as the universe. Together with Vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism provides the basic scriptural context for Yoga meditation.

KAURAVAS
Descendents of Kuru; refers to the descendants of the legendary King Kuru who was the ancestor of many in the Mahabharata war (see Mahabharata).

KIRTAN
devotional chanting, singing the Names and praises of God.

KRISHNA
Krishna is the eighth incarnation of Narayana and was born in the Dvapara Yuga. He is the embodiment of Love and Divine Joy who destroys all pain and sin. He is the protector of sacred utterances and cows. Krishna is an instigator of all forms of knowledge and born to establish the religion of Love. Sri Swami Vishwananda said about Sri Krishna: “…the most beautiful of all the incarnations of the Divine…is Sri Krishna Himself. The Name, Krishna, just by reciting this beautiful Name, one awakens peace and love. The Name means the one who attracts everyone. Krishna is the one who destroys all the sin, who cleanses and purifies everybody. Actually, His life is a mystery itself. It’s one of the greatest mysteries, because His life deals with our spiritual life, to attain Him.” (Krishna Retreat, Los Angeles, California, USA, December, 2007)

KRIYA                                                                                                                                                                                           Kriyas purify the 5 bodies of a person (physical and energetic) and nervous system, thus allowing a seeker to experience higher states of consciousness.

KUNDALINI
(lit., coiled one) The primordial Shakti, or cosmic energy, that lies dormant in a coiled form in the muladhara chakra at the base of the spine. Through the descent of grace (shaktipat), this extremely subtle force, also described as the supreme goddess, is awakened and begins to purify the entire being. As Kundalini travels upward through the central channel, She pierces the various chakras, finally reaching the sahasrara at the crown of the head. There, the individual soul merges into the supreme Self and attains the state of Self-realization. See also CHAKRA, SHAKTIPAT.

KURMA
(literally turtle) Is considered in Hinduism as the second incarnation of Narayana. According to several Puranas, the old books about the Devas, Maha Vishnu incarnated after his form of a fish (Matsya) in the form of a turtle. Kurma lifted the mountain, Mandara, onto his back out of the mystical ocean during the Churning of the Milk Ocean by the Devas and Asuras in search of the Amrita.

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L

LAKSHMANA
Lakshmana is the twin brother of Shatrughna and third brother to Lord Rama. In Puranic Scripture Lakshmana is described as the incarnation of Anata Shesha, the thousand- headed Naga upon whom rests Lord Narayana in the primordial Ocean of Milk, Kshirasagara). He is said to be an eternal companion of Sri Vishnu in all incarnations.

LAKSHMI
The consort of Narayana; the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, good fortune and spiritual abundance.

LAKSHMI/NARAYANA
Like Shakti/Shiva, an expression of the female and male principle of God; Goddess of spiritual and material abundance. Narayana is the One who pervades all things. Literally, God in humanity.

LANKA
Sri Lanka, formerly Ceylon, where the demon Ravana took Sita after he kidnapped her from Lord Rama.

LIBERATION
Freedom from the cycle of birth and death; the state of realization of oneness with the Absolute.

LILA OR LEELA
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.

LINGAM
Represents the universal masculine principle which in human nature manifests through such qualities as strength, determination and wisdom.

LORD CHAITANYA
As prophesied throughout the Vedas, Lord Krishna descended again in the person of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (1486 - 1534) in the holy land of Mayapur Sridham (Bengal, eastern India). He inaugurated the Sankirtan Movement, the universal glorification of the Lord by spreading the mass chanting of the Hare Krishna Maha-mantra, as the prescribed process of self-realization for everyone in this age. ix

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M

MAHABHARATA
An epic poem that recounts the struggle between the Kauravas and Pandavas over the disputed kingdom of Bharata, the ancient name for India. Within this vast narrative is contained a wealth of Indian secular and religious lore. The Bhagavad Gita occurs in the latter portion of the Mahabharata.

MAHARASHTRA
A state on the west coast of central India. Many of the great poet-saints lived in Maharashtra

MAHASAMADHI
1) A realized yogi's conscious departure from the physical body at death. 2) A celebration on the anniversary of a great being's departure from the physical body. 3) A shrine erected at the place where a yogi has taken mahasamadhi.

MAHASHIVARATRI
The great night of Shiva; dedicated to the worship of Lord Shiva. Devotees sing bhajans in honour of Shiva, recite Sanskrit shlokas (verses) from scriptures, offer prayers in the morning and evening; some fast for the whole day. The prayers and worship go on throughout the night.

MAHAVATAR KRIYA BABAJI
Maha means great, Avatar means Divine Manifestation and babaji means revered father; around 5000 year old yogi from the Himalayas and Paramguru who has given Kriya Yoga to the world.

MALA
A string of beads used to facilitate a state of concentration while repeating a mantra.

MANASA PUJA
Written by Adi Shankaracharya in the form of a prayer by a devotee who offers puja with the mind, showing the importance of faith and intention.

MANIFEST / UNMANIFEST
manifest=obvious, cognizable. The manifest universe is absolute and as perfect as the non-manifest, because it comes from the non-manifest. The appearance of the manifest from the non-manifest does not influence the wholeness and perfection of the non-manifest.

MANTRA
The names of God; sacred words or divine sounds invested with the power to protect, purify, and transform the individual who repeats them. A mantra received from an enlightened Master is filled with the power of the Master's attainment.

MASTER
A great spiritual guru.

MATA
Sanskrit word for mother.

MATRIKA
In Sanskrit, refers to the 14 vowels.

MATSYA
In his first incarnation, Maha Vishnu has the lower part of his body like that of a fish (Matsya) and the upper part like that of a man. He has four arms. With two he holds a conch- shell and a chakra, while the other two are holding a lotus and a mace or are in the protection and boon giving mudras.

MAYA
Illusion, that which prevents us from realising our true Self. Sri Swami Vishwananda said about Maya: “Maya Devi is very powerful, because She traps everything. …. Once you step in the world, you get trapped in the grip of Maya and it’s quite difficult to get out of Her grip. Her grip is so strong that once She grabs you it’s only by chanting the Name of God that you can get yourself released; only by saying, truly from your heart “’God I want you. I surrender completely to you. Do what you have to do with me.’” Then She will let go of you.” (Darshan, Kiel, Germany, December 2006.) Paramahansa Yogananda wrote: “The Sanskrit word Maya means the measuring one; it is the magic force which is innate in creation, which causes in the unlimited and undividable, virtual limitations and fissions.

MECCA
A holy city in Saudi Arabia that is the most important pilgrimage site for Muslims.

MEDITATION
Practices that help one to control the mind. Sri Swami Vishwananda had said it is: “…something, which is very simple, for attaining this state of Bliss. …. It’s through meditation that one can really come to the power of complete fulfilment. .....when one is concentrated, when one is focused on God, when one is in deep meditation, one is not affected by anything around, by any noise, by any touching.” (Darshan, Mumbai, India, 10th February 2006)

MOHAMMED
The main prophet in the Islamic religion.

MOHINI
In Hindu mythology the name of the only female incarnation of Maha Vishnu. Mohini is mentioned in the narrative epic of the Mahabharata. Here she appears as a form of Vishnu, which acquires the pot of Amrita (elixir of immortality) from thieving Asuras (Demons), and gives it back to the Devas (demi-gods), helping them retain their immortality.

MOKSHA
Liberation from the cycle of birth and death.

MOUNT MERU (MOUNT KAILASH)
A mountain of supreme height on which the Gods dwell or the mountain on which Shiva is ever seated in meditation; the centre of the world, supporting heaven itself; the Olympus of the Hindu gods and goddesses, Mount Meru, or sometimes Sumeru or Mandara is, according to the Mahabharata, a golden mass of intense energy. Brahmā’s golden city is at its summit. It is the axis mundi for both Hindus and Buddhists.

MUDRA
A gesture usually done with the hands that focuses and directs energy. Twenty of these ancient mudras have been given by Sri Swami Vishwananda to his disciples and are available through His teachings to all who wish to learn them.

MUKTI
Liberation from the cycle of birth and death; freedom from the sense of duality and limitation.

MUNI
A sage, seer, saint, ascetic, monk etc.

MURTI
(lit., embodiment; figure; image) A representation of God or of a chosen deity that has been sanctified and enlivened by worship. A murti can be a symbolic embodiment of the presence of God or a recognizable human figure, as in the image of a saint.

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NADA
Spontaneous inner sounds that may be heard during advanced stages of meditation; nada may take the form of sounds such as bells, the blowing of a conch, and thunder.

NADA KRIYA YOGA
Nada means sound. A meditation focused on sound that is one of the Atma Kriya techniques.

NADI
Within the human body there is a network of channels along which energy of the subtle body flows, called nadis. In the Yoga tradition there are said to be 72,000 nadis. Each nadi deals with a specific function and energy. The three main nadis are the Sushumna – rising straight up through the center of the spine and the Ida and Pingala nadis which run on either side of the spine.

NAMA SANKIRTANA
Group chanting of the name of the Lord.

NAMASKAR (ALSO NAMASTE)
Indian greeting gesture consisting of a small bow while holding the palms together in front of the body. In Hindu view, Brahman dwells in the heart of each being as the individual self. The joining of hands symbolizes the idea that in the meeting of two persons, the Self actually meets Itself. Joining hands also symbolizes humility. Thus when a Hindu joins his hands and says namaskar, he actually says in humility, “I bow to God in you; I love you and I respect you, as there is no one like you.”

NANDA
Foster father and uncle of Sri Krishna.

NARAD MUNI
Spiritual Master and son of Lord Brahma’s Mind who was directly initiated by Lord Brahma, who eternally sings hymns, prayers and mantras to Sriman Narayana and who is always traveling throughout the Three Worlds; author of Pancharatra, the Vaishnava ”Vaishnava Sanskrit texts dedicated to the worship of Sriman Narayana.

NARASIMHA
Nara=man, Simha=lion, the fourth incarnation of Maha Vishnu, whose form is half-man and half-lion. The Puranas tell about the demon king Hiranyakashipu, who once was reigning almost over the whole universe, but who finally was killed by Sri Vishnu in his form of Narasimha. Lord Narasimha is the fiercest incarnation of Maha Vishnu. He came to protect His pure devotee Prahlada against the tortures of his evil father Hiranyakashipu. While He is feared by the demons and non- devotees, He is worshipped with love and reverence by His devotees.

NARAYANA, SRI; MAIN INCARNATIONS
(see also Vishnu) Is said to have manifested himself in various incarnations, called Avatars, for the destruction of evil or restoration of faith and justice in the world. These incarnations have been in the human form, in the animal form and in the combined human-animal form. Though popularly believed to be ten in number, the Bhagavat Purana mentions twenty-two such incarnations with innumerable more to follow. The ten main avatars are: 1. Matsya 2. Kurma 3. Varaha 4. Narasimha 5. Vamana 6. Parasurama 7. Rama 8. Balarama 9. Krishna 10. Kalki (yet to come)

NATARAJ
(lit., king of the dance) A name of Shiva, referring to the dancing Shiva. The object of his dance is to free all souls from the fetters of illusion.

NAVARATRI
(lit., nine nights) A festival celebrating the worship of the divine Mother, Shakti, in the three forms of Durga/Kali, Lakshmi, and Saraswati. It begins with the new moon of September-October and continues for nine nights.

NRSINGADEV / LORD NARASIMHADEVA
(nara + simha = human + lion) Is the fiercest incarnation of Maha Vishnu. He came to protect His pure devotee, Prahlada, against the tortures of his evil father, Hiranyakashipu. While He is feared by the demons and non-devotees, He is worshipped with love and reverence by His devotees.

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O

OM
The primal sound form which the universe emanates; the inner essence of all mantras. Also written aum.

OM NAMAH SHIVAYA
(lit., Om, salutations to Shiva) The Sanskrit mantra of the Siddha Yoga lineage; known as the great redeeming mantra because of its power to grant both worldly fulfillment and spiritual realization. Om is the primordial sound; Namah is to honor or bow to; Shivaya denotes divine Consciousness, the Lord who dwells in every heart.

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P

PADMA
Lotus flower or Padma, held by the lower right hand of Sri Vishnu, represents spiritual liberation, Divine Perfection, purity and the unfolding of Spiritual Consciousness within the individual.

PADUKAS
The Guru's sandals, objects of the highest veneration. Vibrations of the inner shakti flow out from the Guru's feet, which are a mystical source of grace and illumination and a figurative term for the Guru's teachings. The Guru's sandals are also said to hold this divine energy of enlightenment.

PANCHABHUTA
A Sanskrit word meaning five elements or constituents. According to ancient Indian philosophy, the universe is composed of panchabhutas. Even the body and food is derived from this. Prithvi (earth), Apa (water), Tejas (fire), Vayu (air), and Akash (ether) are the five elements of panchabhuta. These elements are kept in a certain balance in the universe and the body. The variation in this balance ends in natural disasters, and diseases in the body. In India, there are temples devoted to the Panchabhuta called ‘Panchabhuta Kshetras,’ each of which represents one of the Panchabhuta. vii

PANCHAMRIT
A mixture of five foods used in Hindu worship and puja, usually honey, sugar, milk, yoghurt and ghee.

PANDAVAS
The sons of Pandu; Arjuna and his four brothers who, with their allies, formed one side in the Mahabharata war (see Mahabharata).

PARAMATMAN
The supreme Being; the Brahman.

PARAMGURU
Param means supreme and guru means remover of darkness; the guru’s guru.

PARAMPARA
Literally “proceeding from one to another”; “guru parampara” refers to the tradition of guru-disciple passing on wisdom through the ages. (see also sampradaya)

PARASHURAMA
Rama with the axe – Sri Vishnu in a human form, the sixth incarnation of Narayana.

PARVATI
Consort of Lord Shiva. “Parvati is the Mother of the Universe. She is Parashakti’.” Sri Swami Vishwananda, Kartik Purnima, Springen, Germany, 2 November 2009.

PENTECOST
It is the day when the Holy Spirit came upon the Disciples after Christ Jesus had resurrected. It is now celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday.

PRADAKSHINA
The act of worshipful circumambulation (walking clockwise around a holy temple, shrine, or place).

PRAHLAD
A great devotee of Krishna even from birth, having been taught by Sage Narada while still in the womb of his mother. As a small boy of five he would preach about Sri Vishnu to his school friends any time the teachers left the room. This preaching infuriated his father, Hiranyakashipu who was determined to deny Sri Vishnu’s existence.

PRANA
The vital life-sustaining force of both the body and the universe.

PRANAM
To bow; to greet with respect.

PRASAD
A blessed or divine gift from God or the Guru.

PREMAKA
When the Divine manifests itself in the form of the teacher. In that aspect of the teacher, he helps you to awaken unconditional Love. Swami Vishwananda says “That’s why the Guru in that aspect is called Premvatha. Because Premvatha is awakening the prem, the Love inside of you once the Love is awakened, you know how it is.”

PUJA
Worship; actions performed in worship; also, an altar with images of the Guru or deity and objects used in worship.

PUNYATITHI
The anniversary of a great being's death.

PURANAS
A classic set of sacred stories and legends written in simple Sanskrit; belonging to the past, ancient; an ancient story or legend.

PURNAHUTI
(lit., full or complete offering) The culmination of any celebration, especially a saptah or a yajna. The final chant of a purnahuti is an arati, an invocation to the Guru entreating him to kindle the flame of divine love in the disciple's heart. Tradition states that to attend a purnahuti is to gain the merit of the entire celebration.

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R

RADHAKRISHNA
“It is Krishna Himself in the form of Radharani. When we talk about Radha, we always put Her first and then Krishna. We say Radhe Krishna, Radhe Shyam, because She is the Shakti of Krishna.” Sri Swami Vishwananda, Radhastami, Springen, Germany, 27 August 2009.

RAGA
In Indian music, a series of five or more notes upon which a melody is based; a particular melody. Ragas evoke particular moods in the listener and are often performed to resonate with a season or time of day.

RAM
(lit., one who is pleasing, delightful) The seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Rama is seen as the embodiment of dharma and is the object of great devotion. He is the central character in the Indian epic Ramayana.

RAM, RAMA
According to the teachings of Hinduism, the seventh incarnation of Sri Vishnu. He is described as educated, beautiful and endowed with all royal qualities. His story is told in the heroic epic Ramayana. It deals with Rama’s banishment to the woodland solitude and the victory over Ravana after he had kidnapped his wife, Sita, to Lanka. An essential helper in this battle was the greatest devotee of Lord Ram, Hanuman.

RAMA
(lit., one who is pleasing, delightful) The seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Rama is seen as the embodiment of dharma and is the object of great devotion. He is the central character in the Indian epic Ramayana.

RAMAKRISHNA
(1836-1886) Great Indian Saint born near Calcutta who taught the universality of religions; a great Bhakta who worshipped Divine Mother in Her form as Maha Kali.

RAMAYANA
One of the great epic poems of India; attributed to the sage Valmiki, the Ramayana recounts the life and exploits of Lord Rama. This story, so rich with spiritual meaning, has been told and retold down through the ages by saints, poets, scholars, and common folk.

RANGOLI
A design, usually geometric, drawn on the ground in front of a house or other dwelling in the colors of the morning sun, to represent inner awakening.

RASA
1) Flavor, taste. 2) A subtle energy of richness, sweetness, and delight.

RAVANA
Evil demon King who abducted Lord Rama’s wife Sita and took her to Lanka.

REINCARNATION
When the soul is born again in a new body; the cycle of birth, death and rebirth; reincarnation ceases when one’s karma is resolved.

RIG VEDA
The oldest of the four Vedas; it is composed of more than one thousand hymns, including those that invoke the gods of the fire ritual. 

RISHI
Great seers who revealed the Vedas; Rishis can speak only truth and have provided much knowledge to the world.

RUDRA
The Lord as destroyer, a form of Lord Shiva. As the fierce aspect of God, Rudra inspires both great love and great fear among his worshipers.

RUDRAKSHA
Seeds from a tree sacred to Shiva, often strung as beads for malas. Legend has it that the rudraksha seed was created from the tears of Lord Rudra, thus endowing it with great spiritual power.

RUDRAM
A text chant from theKrishna Yajur Veda in which Lord Shiva is offered repeated salutations in his many manifestations; the first of these to be honored is Rudra.

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S

SABARI
Great devotee of Lord Rama. “…she waited her whole life for Rama. Every day she would chant Ram names continuously. Deep inside of her, she knew that one day she would meet her Rama.“ Sri Swami Vishwananda, Darshan, Steffenshof, 2nd May, 2007.

SADGURU
A true Guru; divine Master.

SADGURUNATH MAHARAJ KI JAY
A Hindi phrase that means "I hail the Master who has revealed the Truth to me!" An exalted, joyful expression of gratitude to the Guru for all that has been received, often repeated at the beginning or end of an action.

SADHAKA
A seeker on the spiritual path.

SADHANA
1) A spiritual discipline or path. 2) Practices, both physical and mental, on the spiritual path.

SADHU (SADDHU)
A Hindu ascetic holy man or wandering monk. The sādhu is solely dedicated to achieving moksa (liberation), the fourth and final stage of life, through meditation and contemplation of brahman. Sādhus often wear ochre-colored clothing, symbolizing their sanyāsa (renunciation).

SAGE
A wise person venerated for experience, judgment and wisdom.

SAHASRARA
The thousand-petaled spiritual energy center at the crown of the head, where one experiences the highest states of consciousness.

SAINT
One who lives in God or the eternal; custodian of super divine wisdom, spiritual powers and inexhaustible spiritual wealth who is free from egoism, likes and dislikes, selfishness, vanity, lust, greed and anger, who is endowed with equal vision, balanced mind, mercy, tolerance, righteousness, cosmic Love and has Divine Knowledge.

SAMADHI
A yogic trance (state) where the mind has withdrawn from limited working activities into freer, higher states of God; a state where the seeker and the process of seeking merge into one single continuum and no separation remains between them; when applied to worship, the state where there is no difference between the devotee, God and worship.

SAMADHI SHRINE
The final resting place of a great yogi's body. Such shrines are places of worship

SAMPRADAYA
In Hinduism, a sampradaya can be translated as ‘tradition’ or a ‘religious system’. It usually refers to the tradition or established doctrine of teaching from master to pupil through the ages. (See also parampara)

SANATAN DHARMA
Literally, The Eternal Religion. This term describes the codex of different Vedic sciences, which was called Hinduism after the Greeks had called the people at the banks of the Indus River Indus or Hindus (see also Dharma).

SANKALPA
Thought, intention, or will directed toward a specific outcome.

SANNYASA
1) Monkhood. 2) The ceremony and vows of monkhood.

SANNYASIN
One who has given up a normal or worldly life to become an ascetic.

SARASWATI
Goddess of knowledge and the arts, represents the free flow of wisdom and consciousness. She is the Mother of the Vedas and chants to her, called the Saraswati Vandana often begin and end Vedic lessons. It is believed that Goddess Saraswati endows human beings with the powers of speech, wisdom and learning.

SATGURU
Sat means true; guru the true teacher; highest spiritual teacher; ones primary or main spiritual teacher (see also Guru).

SATSANG
Sat means literally “being”, hence “essence; reality”; sanga means “association or fellowship”. Satsang is a gathering of spiritual seekers for meditation, prayer and devotional singing in order to uplift each other to the divine goal of Self-realization of union with God.

SELF
The Atma; who one truly is – Divine Love.

SELF-REALISATION
Transcending the misidentification with the mind and body that happens to the embodied Atma here in the Maya and becoming aware of one’s true nature; Union with the Divine.

SELF-REALIZATION
The state of enlightenment in which the individual merges with pure Consciousness.

SEVA
(lit., service) Selfless service; work offered to God, performed without attachment and with the attitude that one is not the doer.

SEVITE
One who performs seva.

SHAKTI
“…the whole universe is governed by these two cosmic energies, which are the female energy and the male energy. That is what makes everything into manifestation. ….. you can call it Shiva Shakti,…” Sri Swami Vishwananda, The Significance of the Two Hiranyagarbalingams, Shree Peetha Nilaya Temple, 2nd March 2011, Springen, Germany.

SHAKTIPAT
(lit., descent of grace) Yogic initiation in which the SatGuru transmits spiritual energy to the aspirant, thereby awakening the aspirant's dormant kundalini shakti.

SHAMBHAVI MUDRA
(lit., state of supreme Shiva) A state of spontaneous or effortless meditation, in which the eyes become focused within and the mind delights in the inner Self without any attempt at concentration.

SHANKHA
Conch, conch shell horn.

SHASTRAS
Order, teaching, instruction; any sacred book or composition that has Divine authority.

SHIVA
The all-pervasive supreme Reality; also, one of the Hindu trinity of gods, who carries out the act of destruction or dissolution.

SHIVARATRI
(lit., night of Shiva) The night of the new moon in late February that is especially sacred to Lord Shiva. Devotees repeat the mantra Om Namah Shivaya throughout the night; on this night each repetition is said to equal the merit of a thousand repetitions.

SHRI
1) A term or respect that means sacredness, abundance, beauty, grace, and auspiciousness, and signifies mastery of all these. 2) Lakshmi, the goddess of beauty and prosperity.

SIDDHA
A perfected yogi; one whose experience of unity-consciousness is uninterrupted.

SIDDHA GURU
One who has attained the state of enlightenment and who has the capacity to awaken the dormant spiritual energy of a disciple and guide him or her to the state of the Truth.

SIDDHA MASTER
One who has attained the state of enlightenment and who has the capacity to awaken the dormant spiritual energy of a disciple and guide him or her to the state of the Truth.

SITA RAMA
Shakti (see Shakti) and consort of Lord Rama; “Sita Devi is a manifestation of Lakshmi.” Sri Swami Vishwananda, Ram Navami, 24th March, 2010, Shree Peetha Nilaya, Springen, Germany.

SOUNDARYA LAHIRI
The Soundarya Lahari meaning “Waves Of Beauty” is a famous literary work in Sanskrit believed to be written by Adi Shankaracharya. Its 103 shlokas (verses) eulogize the beauty, grace and munificence of Goddess Parvati / Dakshayani, consort of Shiva.

SPIRITUAL PRACTICES
Activities that purify and strengthen the mind and body for the spiritual path. Yoga practices include chanting, meditation, mantra repetition, hatha yoga, seva (selfless service), and contemplation.

SPIRITUALITY
Latin, Spiritus, spirit, breeze, or spiro, I breathe, spirituality in a specific religious sense stands for the idea of a mental (spiritual) connection with the transcendent or infinity.

SRI ADI SHANKARACHARYA
Sri Adi Sankaracharya was the greatest exponent of the doctrine of Advaita Vedanta. Adi Shankara stressed the importance of the Vedas, and his efforts helped Hinduism regain strength and popularity. Many trace the present worldwide prominence of Vedanta to his works. He travelled on foot to various parts of India to restore the study of the Vedas. He lived probably circa 788 to 820.

SRI LAHIRI MAHASAYA
A householder and spiritual Master who was the first person to receive Kriya Yoga from Mahavatar Kriya Babaji who then shared it with other householders.

SRI SHIRDI SAI BABA
A great Master (1838-1918) from India whose teaching combined elements of Hinduism and Islam. He constantly chanted Allah Akbar and was known for many divine miracles.

SRI YUKTESHWARJI
A disciple of Lahiri Mahasya and the guru of Paramhansa Yogananda.

SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM
(Bhagavata Purana) This purana (storybook) is the most important sacred book of stories in India, arranged in twelve so-called cantos and is comprised of 335 chapters with about 18,000 verses that stress the prime importance of the maintaining (preserving) aspect of God personified by the transcendental form of Sriman Narayana, Lord Vishnu.

ST. PANTELEIMON
284-305 A.D from Nicomedia; Physician and Patron of midwives and doctors and one of the fourteen Holy Helpers. Known for miraculous healings. An incarnation of Dhanvantari, physician of the Gods and Father of Ayurveda. (see Churning of the Milk Ocean); one of the patron saints of the chapel at Sri Swami Vishwananda’s international Ashram Shree Peetha Nilaya, Germany.

SUBHADRA
Sister of Sri Krishna.

SUBTLE BODY
The second of four bodies within a human being (the physical, subtle, causal, and supracausal bodies), which is experienced in the dream state.

SURDAS
15th century devotional saint of Lord Krishna; a poet, saint and musician who taught Bhakti.

SURRENDER
In spirituality meaning giving everything completely to God. Sri Swami Vishwananda has said:”… to surrender means to say to God, “Lord, I give myself, my body, mind and soul completely to You. ….. So this is complete surrender where God can do whatever He wants with you, whenever He wants, as He wants. And for that you don’t need to be scared, you know, you have just to give yourself. And who is your Self in reality? It’s just Him! In the Gita, Krishna said: Everything is me.” (Darshan in Lisbon, Portugal, 12 April 2008)

SUSHUMNA
The most important of all the nadis; the central channel, which extends from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. It is the pathway of the awakened kundalini.

SUTRA
Aphorism; a condensed and cryptic statement that usually can be understood only through commentary. In India, the major points of an entire philosophical system may be expressed in a series of sutras.

SVATCHAKA
Swami Vishwananda says “Svatchaka means to clean. When the Master takes the aspect of Svatchaka it is to clean all the doubt, to clean all the negativity from the mind.”

SWADHYAYA
The study of the Self; the regular disciplined practice of chanting and reciting spiritual texts such as the Guru Gita.

SWAHA
Sanskrit for “I offer”, used in a yagna fire ceremony.

SWAMI
Literally “lord”; one who has achieved mastery of himself; also a title commonly given to sannyasis (renunciates); a swami is a member of the monastic Swami Order, reorganized by Swami Shankara in the 8th century.

SWAMIJI
A term of respectful address for a sannyasi, or monk.

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T

TANDRA
The state of higher consciousness between sleeping and waking that is experienced in meditation.

TULSI DEVI
See Vrinda Devi.

TULSIDAS
16th century great devotee who, also, wrote the Ramacharitmanas, an epic poem devoted to Lord Rama.

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U

UPANISHADS
Meaning the inner or mystic teachings; refers to over 200 texts which are considered to be an early source of the Hindu religion.

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V

VACHAKA
Means utterance, passing of instruction and knowledge. Swami Vishwananda says “it is rather when the Guru infuses the disciple with wisdom. I didn’t use the word knowledge because knowledge is limited.”

VAIKUNTA
The celestial abode (loka) of Sri Vishnu and His devotees.

VALMIKI
A sage and poet told by Narad Muni to write the Ramayana.

VAMANA
Is described in the texts of Hinduism as the fifth incarnation of Mahu Vishnu and the first incarnation of the Second Age or the Treta Yuga. He is the first incarnation of Sri Vishnu which appears in a completely human form, though it was that of a dwarf Brahmin. He is, also, sometimes known as Upendra.

VARAHA
In Hinduism the third incarnation of Sri Vishnu in the form of a boar. In the form of Vahara he fulfills his reputation as the preserver of the world. According to the Varaha Purana, when a new age had begun the Earth was sinking in the primordial waters. Like a mother who does not hesitate to jump after her child when it has fallen into the water, Sri Vishnu’s first thought was to preserve the world. He took the form of a boar, the mightiest swamp animal, and dived into the Primordial Ocean. There he killed the dangerous Demon Hiranyaksha (the brother of Hiranyakashipu), lifted the Earth up with his colossal tusks and saved Her from drowning in the primordial chaos.

VASUDEVA
The son of Shoorsen of the Yadu and Vrishni dynasties, husband of Devaki and father of Sri Krishna and his sister, Subhadra. Vasudeva was a partial incarnation of Rishi Kashyap. According to Harivansa Purana, Vasudeva and Nanda, Sri Krishna’s foster father, were brothers.

VASUKI
The King of the Serpents. He assisted at the churning of the Milk Ocean. In one of the most famous episodes in the Puranas (Bhagavata Purana, the Mahabharata and the Vishnu Purana), the Devas (Demi-Gods) and the Demons (Asuras) had lost their immortality at that time. According to Sri Vishnu’s advice, they bound the snake, Vasuki, around the mountain and started – Gods at one side and Demons at the other side – to pull back and forth on the snake. In that way they churned the Milk Ocean in order to gain Amrita, the nectar of immortality. In memory of that a festival is celebrated in a major way every twelve years known as Kumbha Mela.

VEDAS
Ancient Indian texts and the oldest Sanskrit literature written in Vedic Sanskrit and compiled into four sections by Krishna Dvaipayana Veda Vyasa, a sage considered in some Vaishnava traditions as an Avatar of Maha Vishnu who later incarnated as Sage Kapila to teach the Bhakti Yoga of the Shrimad Bhagavatam written by Sage Vyasa at the suggestion of the son of Brahma, Rishi Narada.

VIBHISHANA
Ravana’s younger brother (see Ravana). Although half-demon he was against the kidnapping of Sita and advised his brother to return Sita to her husband Rama. Ravana exiled Vibhishana and he joined Rama’s army. Later, when Rama defeated Ravana, he made Vibhishana king of Lanka.

VIJAYA
Victory

VISHNU
Literally, all-pervading; God as the Preserver; part of the Hindu Trinity.

VISHWAMITRA
Was the first saint to have received the Gayatri Mantra and who, subsequently, taught it to his Disciple, Sri Rama, who then used it to defeat the great asura, Ravana, and rescue His wife, Sita, from the demon; an author of the Rigveda known for enduring many austerities and who underwent many trials.

VRINDA DEVI
(Vrindavana) “The Sanskrit word vana means forest. Vrindavana is the name given to the forest where Srimati Vrindadevi (Tulasidevi), grows abundantely.”

VRINDAVAN
Vrindavan (also Brindavan) in Mathura district, Uttar Pradesh, India, is a town on the site of an ancient forest where Lord Krishna spent his childhood days and where He was cared for by His foster mother, Yashoda, and His foster father and uncle, Nanda. It lies in the Braj region about 15km away from Mathura, the city of Lord Krishna’s birthplace, near the Agra- Delhi highway. The town hosts thousands of temples dedicated to the worship of Radha and Krishna.

VYASA
Often regarded as an Avatar of Vishnu, he is sometimes referred to as Veda Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas; composed Puranas and the poetic work Mahabharata.

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Y

YAGNA
Sacrifice of pride and ego; a fire ceremony where one gives up the self, what one wants for the benefit of others getting rid of pride and opening the heart through mantras and offering back what the Divine has given us.

YAMUNA
Like the Ganges, the Yamuna, too, is highly venerated in Hinduism and worshipped as Goddess Yamuna, throughout its course. In Hindu mythology, She is the daughter of Sun God, Lord Surya, and sister of Yama, the God of Death, hence, also, known as Yami. “Vasudeva entered the water of the Yamuna carrying the baby Krishna and, as he was going deeper and deeper into the Yamuna River, Yamuna wanted so much just to touch the feet of the Lord. And the moment the feet of the baby Krishna touched the water of Yamuna, she became very calm.” Sri Swami Vishwananda, Krishna Janmashtami, Springen, Germany, 13 August 2009.

YANTRA
A symbolic representation of aspects of divinity. It is an interlocking matrix of geometric figures, circles, triangles and floral patterns. Each deity is said to have a Yantra, a specific geometric shape that represents the nature of the deity. The Yantra is worshipped and charged with the corresponding mantra. It is treated like the deity, and is worshipped as the deity.

YASHODA
Foster mother of Sri Krishna and wife of His uncle, Nanda, his foster father. “So as Narayana had said to Maya Devi ‘Incarnate Yourself in the womb of Yashoda’, Maya Devi manifested Herself inside of Yashoda. On the same night she was born in Gokul, Narayana was born in Mathura [as Sri Krishna]. …Bhakti, in the form of Yashoda and Nandadev enjoying the Lord.” Sri Swami Vishwananda, Bala Krishna Retreat, Los Angeles, California, USA, December, 2007.