nāda: नाद “Sound; tone, vibration.” Metaphysically, the mystic sounds of the Eternal, of which the highest is the transcendent, Soundless Sound, Paranāda, the first vibration from which creation emanates. Paranāda is so pure and subtle that it cannot be identified to the denser regions of the mind. From Paranāda comes Praṇava, Aum, and further evolutes of nāda. These are experienced by the meditator as the nāda-nāḍī śakti, “energy current of sound,” heard pulsing through the nerve system as a steady high-pitched hum, much like a tambura, an electrical transformer, a swarm of bees or a śruti box. Listening to the inner sounds is a contemplative practice called nāda upāsanā, “worship through sound,” nāda anusandhāna, “cultivation of inner sound,” or nāda yoga “union through sound.” Subtle variations of the nāda-nāḍī śakti represent the psychic wavelengths of established guru lineages of many Indian religions. Nāda also refers to other psychic sounds heard during deep meditation, including those resembling various musical instruments. Nāda also refers to ordinary sound. See: Aum, nāḍī, praṇava, sound.
nāda-nāḍī śakti: नादनाडीशक्ति “Energy current of sound.” See: nāda.
Nadantar: நடந்தார் See: Kailāsa Paramparā.
nāḍī: नाडी “Conduit; river.” A nerve fiber or energy channel of the subtle (inner) bodies of man. It is said there are 72,000 nāḍīs. These interconnect the chakras. The three main nāḍīs are iḍā, piṅgalā and sushumṇā. Iḍā and piṅgalā intertwine the spinal column, beginning at the mūlādhāra chakra, ending at the sahasrāra and crossing at the maṇipūra and the viśuddha chakras. —iḍā, also known as chandra (moon) nāḍī, is pink in color. Its flows downward, ending on the left side of the body. This current is feminine in nature and is the channel of physical-emotional energy. —piṅgaḷā, also known as sūrya (sun) nāḍī, is blue in color. It flows upward, ending on the right side of the body. This current is masculine in nature and is the channel of intellectual-mental energy. —sushumṇā is the major nerve current which passes through the spinal column from the mūlādhāra chakra at the base to the sahasrāra at the crown of the head. It is the channel of kuṇḍalinī. Through yoga, the kuṇḍalinī energy lying dormant in the mūlādhāra is awakened and made to rise up this channel through each chakra to the sahasrāra chakra. [See illustration, page 745.] See: chakra, kuṇḍalinī, rāja yoga, tantrism.
nāga: नाग “Serpent,” often the cobra; symbol of the kuṇḍalinī coiled on the four petals of the mūlādhāra chakra. See: kuṇḍalinī, mūlādhāra chakra.
naivedya: नैवेद्य Food offered to the Deity at the temple or home altar. An important element in pūjā. See: prasāda, pūjā.
nakshatra: नक्षत्र “Star cluster.” Central to astrological determinations, the nakshatras are 27 star-clusters, constellations, which lie along the ecliptic, or path of the sun. An individual’s nakshatra, or birth star, is the constellation the moon was aligned with at the time of birth. See: jyotisha.
Nalvar: நால்வார் “Four devout beings.” Four renowned saints of the Śaiva religion (7th to 9th century): Appar, Sundarar, Sambandar and Manikkavasagar—devotional mystics whose lives and teachings helped catalyze a resurgence of Śaivism in Tamil Nadu. All but Manikkavasagar are among the Nayanars, 63 saints canonized by Sekkilar in his Periyapurāṇam (ca 1140). These four are also known as the Samayāchāryas, “teachers of the faith.” Their devotional poems are embodied in the Tirumurai, along with the writings of other Nayanars. Numerous South Indian temples celebrate their historic pilgrimages from shrine to shrine where they beseeched the grace of Śiva through heartfelt song. Nalvar is a term not to be confused with Alvar, naming certain Vaishṇava saints of the same period. See: Alvar, Nayanar, Tirumurai.
nāmadīkshā: नामदीक्षा “Name initiation.” Also known as nāmakaraṇa saṁskāra. See: saṁskāras of childhood.
Namaḥ Śivāya: नमः शिवाय “Adoration (homage) to Śiva.” The supreme mantra of Śaivism, known as the Pañchākshara, or “five syllables.” Na is the Lord’s veiling grace; Ma is the world; Śi is Śiva; Vā is His revealing grace; Ya is the soul. The syllables also represent the physical body: Na the legs, Ma the stomach, Śi the shoulders, Vā the mouth and Ya the eyes. Embodying the essence of Śaiva Siddhānta, this mantra is found in the center of the central Veda (the Yajur) of the original three Vedas (Ṛig, Yajur and Sāma). Namastārāya namaḥ śaṁbhave cha mayobhave cha, namaḥ śaṅkarāya cha mayaskarāya cha, namaḥ śivāya cha śivayatarāya cha. “Homage to the source of health and to the source of delight. Homage to the maker of health and to the maker of delight. Homage to the Auspicious, and to the more Auspicious” (Kṛishṇa Yajur Veda, Taittirīya Saṁhitā 4.5.8). When applied to the symbolism of Lord Naṭarāja, a second and partly differing rendering relates Na-Ma-Śi-Vā-Ya to Śiva’s five actions as follows. Na represents saṁhāra, destruction or dissolution, corresponding to the hand which which holds a blazing flame. Ma stands for His concealing grace, tirodhāna śakti, symbolized by Lord Naṭarāja’s planted foot. Vā indicates revealing grace, anugraha śakti, by which souls return to Him, reflected in the left front hand in the elephant trunk pose, gajahasta, pointing to His left foot, source of revealing grace. Śi stands for sṛishṭi, creation, and Śiva’s back right hand holding the drum. Ya stands for Śiva’s power of stithi, preservation and protection, shown in His hand gesturing abhaya, “fear not.” Na-Ma-Śi-Vā-Ya also stands for the five elements: Na as earth; Ma, water; Śi, fire; Vā, air; and Ya, ākāśa. See: japa, mantra.
nāmakaraṇa: नामकरण “Name giving.” See: saṁskāras of childhood.
namaskāra: नमस्कार “Reverent salutations.” The traditional Hindu verbal greeting and mudrā in which the palms are joined together and held before the heart or raised to the level of the forehead. The mudrā is also called añjali. It is a devotional gesture made equally before a Deity, holy person, friend or momentary acquaintance. Holding the hands together connects the right side of the body with the left, and brings the nerve and nāḍī currents into poised balance, into a consciousness of the sushumṇā, awakening the third eye within the greeter to worship God in the greeted. See: añjali mudrā, praṇāma.
namaste: नमस्ते “Reverent salutations to you.” A traditional verbal greeting. A form of namas, meaning “bowing, obeisance.” See: namaskāra.
Namo Nārāyaṇāya: नमो नारायणाय “Salutations to Nārāyaṇa (Lord Vishṇu).” The great mantra of the Vaishṇava faith. Also a popular greeting among Vaishṇavites and Smārtas. See: Vaishṇavism, Vishṇu.
Nandi: नन्दि “The joyful.” A white bull with a black tail who is the vāhana, or mount, of Lord Śiva, symbol of the powerful instinctive force tamed by Him. Nandi is the perfect devotee, the soul of man, kneeling humbly before God Śiva, ever concentrated on Him. The ideal and goal of the Śiva bhakta is to behold Śiva in everything.
Nandikeśvara: नन्दिकेश्वर “Lord of Nandi.” A name of Śiva. Also another name for Nandinatha, the first historically known guru of the Nandinātha Sampradāya. See: Kailāsa Paramparā, Nātha Sampradāya.
Nandikeśvara Kāśikā: नन्दिकेश्वरकाशिका The only surviving work of Nandikesvara (ca 250 BCE). Its 26 verses are the earliest extant exposition of advaitic Śaivism, aside from the Śaiva Āgamas.
Nandinatha (Nandinātha): नन्दिनाथ Another name of Nandikesvara. See: Kailāsa Paramparā.
Nandinātha Sampradāya: नन्दिनाथसंप्रदाय See: Nātha Sampradāya.
Nārada Parivrājaka: नारदपरिव्राजक An Upanishad of the Aṭharva Veda which teaches of asceticism, sannyāsa, true brāhminhood, and more.
Nārada Sūtra(s): नारदसूत्र A Vaishṇava text of 84 aphorisms in which Sage Narada (Nārada) explains bhakti yoga (ca 1200).
Naraka: नरक Abode of darkness. Literally, “pertaining to man.” The nether worlds. Equivalent to the Western term hell, a gross region of the Antarloka. Naraka is a congested, distressful area where demonic beings and young souls may sojourn until they resolve the darksome karmas they have created. Here beings suffer the consequences of their own misdeeds in previous lives. Naraka is understood as having seven regions, called tala, corresponding to the states of consciousness of the seven lower chakras as follows: 1) Put, “childless”—atala chakra, “wheel of the bottomless region.” Fear and lust (located in the hips). 2) Avīchi, “joyless”—vitala chakra: “wheel of negative region.” Center of anger (thighs). 3) Saṁhāta, “abandoned”—sutala chakra: “Great depth.” Region of jealousy (knees). 4) Tāmisra, “darkness”—talātala chakra: “wheel of the lower region.” Realm of confused thinking (calves). 5) āijīsha, “expelled”—rasātala chakra: “wheel of subterranean region.” Selfishness (ankles). 6) Kuḍmala, “leprous”—mahātala chakra: “wheel of the great lower region.” Region of consciencelessness (feet). The intensity of “hell” begins at this deep level. 7) Kākola, “black poison”—pātāla chakra, “wheel of the fallen or sinful level.” Region of malice (soles of the feet). The sevenfold hellish region in its entirety is also called pātāla, “fallen region.” Scriptures offer other lists of hells, numbering 7 or 21. They are described as places of torment, pain, darkness, confusion and disease, but these are only temporary abodes for the evolving soul. Hinduism has no eternal hell. See: hell, loka, purgatory (also, individual tala entries).
Narasiṅha Pūrvatāpanīya: नरसिंह पूर्वतापनीय “The ascetic’s surrender to Narasiṅha (incarnation of Vishṇu as half-man, half-lion).” An Upanishad of the Atharva Veda which deals with worship of Vishṇu.
Nārāyaṇa: नारायण “Abode of men.” A name of Lord Vishṇu. See: Vishṇu.
Narayanakantha (Nārāyaṇakaṇṭha): नारायणकण्ठ A great exponent of Śaiva Siddhānta (ca 1050).
nāstika: नास्तिक “One who denies; unbeliever.” Opposite of āstika, “one who affirms.” The terms āstika (orthodox) and nāstika (unorthodox) are a traditional classification of Indian schools of thought. Nāstika refers to traditions that reject and deny the scriptural authority of the Vedas. This includes Sikhism, Jainism, Buddhism and Chārvāka materialists. Āstika refers to those schools that accept the revealed authority of the Vedas as supreme scripture. This includes the four major sects: Śaivism, Śāktism, Vaishṇavism and Smārtism. See: atheism, Chārvāka, materialism.
Naṭarāja: नटराज “King of Dance, or King of Dancers.” God as the Cosmic Dancer. Perhaps Hinduism’s richest and most eloquent symbol, Naṭarāja represents Śiva, the Primal Soul, Parameśvara, as the power, energy and life of all that exists. This is Śiva’s intricate state of Being in Manifestation. The dance of Śiva as Naṭeśa, Lord of Dancers, is the dance of the entire cosmos, the rhythmic movements in all. All that is, whether sentient or insentient, pulsates in His body. Naṭarāja is art and spirituality in perfect oneness, chosen to depict the Divine because in dance that which is created is inseparable from its creator, just as the universe and soul cannot be separated from God. Naṭarāja is also stillness and motion wrought together. The stillness speaks of the peace and poise that lies within us all, at the center. The intense motion, depicted by His hair flying wildly in all directions, is an intimation of the fury and ferocity, the violent vigor, which fills this universe wherein we dwell. The implication of these opposites is that God contains and allows them both, that there is divine purpose at work in our life, whether we find ourselves engaged in its beauty or its “madness.” Dance and dancer are one; not an atom moves on any plane of existence but by His Will. Thus, this elegant symbol embodies the underlying unity of all.
Śiva’s Dance, or all that happens, is composed of an ever-flowing combination of His five potent actions, pañchakṛitya: 1) sṛishṭi: creation, or emanation, represented by His upper right hand and the ḍamaru (drum), upon which he beats Paranāda, the Primal Sound from which issue forth the rhythms and cycles of creation; 2) sthiti: preservation, represented by His lower right hand in a gesture of blessing, abhaya mudrā, saying “fear not;” 3) saṁhāra: destruction, dissolution or absorption, represented by the fire in His upper left hand, posed in ardhachandra mudrā, “half-moon gesture;” 4) tirobhāva: obscuring grace, the power which hides the truth, thereby permitting experience, growth and eventual fulfillment of destiny, represented by His right foot upon the prostrate figure (Apasmārapurusha), the principle of ignorance, or āṇava; 5) anugraha: revealing grace—which grants knowledge and severs the soul’s bonds—represented by Śiva’s raised left foot, and by His lower left hand, held in gajahasta (“elephant trunk”) mudrā, inviting approach. These five cosmic activities are sometimes personalized respectively as Brahmā, Vishṇu, Rudra, Maheśvara and Sadāśiva—or as Sadyojāta (creation), Vāmadeva (preservation), Aghora (reabsorption), Tatpurusha (obscuration) and Īśāna (granting grace).
The ring of fire (prabhāmaṇḍala), in which Śiva dances is the hall of consciousness, chitsabhā; in other words, the light-filled heart of man, the central chamber of the manifest cosmos. Śiva dances the universe into and out of existence, veiling Ultimate Reality for most, unveiling it for devotees who draw near and recognize Paraśiva, Ultimate Reality, in the chamber of their own inner being. Yea, all are dancing with Śiva. See: nāda, Parameśvara, Parāśakti, Paraśiva, Sadāśiva.
Natchintanai: நற்சிந்தனை The collected songs of Sage Yogaswami (1872–1964) of Jaffna, Sri Lanka, extolling the power of the satguru, worship of Lord Śiva, the path of dharma and the attainment of Self Realization. See: Kailāsa Paramparā.
Nātha: नाथ “Master, lord; adept.” Names an ancient Himalayan tradition of Śaiva-yoga mysticism whose first historically known exponent was Nandikesvara (ca 250 BCE). Nātha—Self-Realized adept—designates the extraordinary ascetic masters (or devotees) of this school. who through siddha yoga have attained tremendous powers, siddhis, and are sometimes called siddha yogīs (accomplished or fully enlightened ones). The words of such beings naturally penetrate deeply into the psyche of their devotees, causing mystical awakenings. Like all tantrics, Nāthas have refused to recognize caste distinctions in spiritual pursuits. Their satgurus bestow initiation according to spiritual worthiness, accepting devotees from the lowest to the highest rungs of society. Nātha also designates a follower of the Nātha tradition. The Nāthas are considered the source of haṭha as well as rāja yoga. See: Kailāsa Paramparā, Nātha Sampradāya, siddha yoga.
Nātha Maṭha: नाथमठ “Adepts’ monastery.” As a proper noun, a synonym for Siddha Siddhānta. See: Siddha Siddhānta.
Nātha Sampradāya: नाथसंप्रदाय “Traditional doctrine of knowledge of masters.” Sampradāya means a living stream of tradition or theology. Nātha Sampradāya isa philosophical and yogic tradition of Śaivism whose origins are unknown. This oldest of Śaivite sampradāyas existing today consists of two major streams: the Nandinātha and the Ādinātha. The Nandinātha Sampradāya has had as exemplars Maharishi Nandinatha and his disciples: Patanjali (author of the Yoga Sūtras) and Tirumular (author of Tirumantiram). Among its representatives today are the successive siddhars of the Kailāsa Paramparā. The Ādinātha lineage’s known exemplars are Maharishi Adinatha, Matsyendranatha and Gorakshanatha, who founded a well-known order of yogīs. See: Kailāsa Paramparā, Nātha, Śaivism, sampradāya.
Nayanar: நாயனார் “Teacher.” The 63 canonized Tamil saints of South India, as documented in the Periyapurāṇam by Sekkilar (ca 1140). All but a few were householders, recognized as outstanding exemplars of devotion to Lord Śiva. Several contributed to the Śaiva Siddhānta scriptural compendium called Tirumurai. See: Nalvar, Tirumurai.
neo-Indian religion: Navabhārata Dharma. A modern form of liberal Hinduism that carries forward basic Hindu cultural values—such as dress, diet and the arts—while allowing religious values to subside. It emerged after the British Raj, when India declared itself an independent, secular state. It was promoted by the Macaulay educational system, installed in India by the British, which aggressively undermined Hindu thought and belief. Neo-Indian religion encourages Hindus to follow any combination of theological, scriptural, sādhana and worship patterns, regardless of sectarian or religious origin. Extending out of and beyond the Smārta system of worshiping the Gods of each major sect, it incorporates holy icons from all religions, including Jesus, Mother Mary and Buddha. Many Navabhāratis choose not to call themselves Hindus but to declare themselves members of all the world’s religions. See: pañchāyatana pūjā, Smārta Sampradāya, Smārtism, syncretism, universalist.
Nepal (Nepāl): नेपाल Ancient land between India and Tibet—50,000 sq. miles, population 24 million. It was the birthplace of Buddha and Sātā, the home of Matsyendranatha and is renowned for its Pāśupatinātha Śiva temple. Hinduism is the state religion.
neti neti: नेति नेति “Not this, not that.” An Upanishadic formula connoting, through negation, the undefinable and inconceivable nature of the Absolute. It is an affirmation which the meditating yogī applies to each thought and phase of the mind as he penetrates deeper and deeper in his quest for Truth. Ultimately he transcends all “this-ness” to realize That which is beyond the mind. See: kuṇḍalinī, samādhi, rāja yoga.
neuter: “Neither one, nor the other.” Often: “having no sex or gender.”
neutron star: A star of such strong gravitational force that the atomic structure collapses, leaving only the nucleus; hence the name. A neutron star the size of an orange would weigh more than the entire Earth.
New Age: According to Webster’s New World Dictionary: “Of or pertaining to a cultural movement popular in the 1980s [and 90s] characterized by a concern with spiritual consciousness, and variously combining belief in reincarnation and astrology with such practices as meditation, vegetarianism and holistic medicine.”
New Year: The religious New Year is celebrated by the majority of Hindus in India according to traditional, pre-colonial calendars, several of which are still in use. There are, therefore, various New Year’s days in different states of India, the two major ones being Dīpāvalī in October-November, observed in North India, and the day when the sun enters Mesha (Aries) in April, celebrated in Tamil Nadu, Bengal and Nepal.
Nimbarka (Nimbārka): निम्बार्क Mystic, philosopher and founder of the Minandi Vaishṇava school of Vedānta (ca 1150). He acclaimed the guru’s grace as the only true means to salvation. See: Vedānta.
Nirguṇa Brahman: निर्गुणब्रह्मन् “God without qualities.” See: Brahman.
Nirukta Vedāṅga: निरुक्तवेदाङ्ग “Etymology Veda-limb.” Auxiliary treatises discussing the origin and development of words; one of the four linguistic skills taught for mastery of the Vedas and the rites of yajña. Nirukta relies upon ancient lexicons, nighaṇṭu, as well as detailed hymn indices, anukramaṇi. Five nighaṇṭus existed at the time of Yaska (Yāska) (320 BCE), whose compilation is regarded a standard work on Vedic etymology. See: Vedāṅga.
nirvāhaṇa: निर्वाहण “End; completion.” Conclusion.
nirvāṇī and upadeśī: निर्वाणी उपदेशी Nirvāṇī means “extinguished one,” and upadeśī means “teacher.” In general, nirvāṇi refers to a liberated soul, or to a certain class of monk. Upadeśī refers to a teacher, generally a renunciate. In Dancing with Śiva, these two terms have special meaning, similar to the Buddhist arhat and bodhisattva, naming the two earthly modes of the realized, liberated soul. After full illumination, the jīvanmukta has the choice to return to the world to help others along the path. This is the way of the upadeśī (akin to bodhisattva), exemplified by the benevolent satguru who leads seekers to the goal of God Realization. He may found and direct institutions and monastic lineages. The nirvāṇī (akin to arhat) abides at the pinnacle of consciousness, shunning all worldly involvement. He is typified by the silent ascetic, the reclusive sage. See: satguru, viśvagrāsa.
nirvikalpa samādhi: निर्विकल्पसमाधि “Undifferentiated trance, enstasy (samādhi) without form or seed.” The realization of the Self, Paraśiva, a state of oneness beyond all change or diversity; beyond time, form and space. The prefix vi connotes “change, differentiation.” Kalpa means “order, arrangement; a period of time.” Thus vikalpa means “diversity, thought; difference of perception, distinction.” Nir means “without.” See: enstasy, kalpa, rāja yoga, samādhi.
niśchitārtha: निश्चितार्थ “Engagement (to marry);” “declaration of intention.” Same as vāgdāna. See: marriage covenant, saṁskāras of adulthood.
Nityananda, Swami (Nityānanda): नित्यानन्द The reclusive sage (?–1961) known as Bhagavan, “the exalted one,” who lived an extraordinary mystic life near Mumbai, India, and initiated a number of disciples, including Swami Muktananda.
nivedana: निवेदन “Announcement, presentation, making known.”
niyama: नियम “Restraint.” See: yama-niyama.
niyati: नियति “Necessity, restriction; the fixed order of things, destiny.” A synonym for karma, niyati is the eighth tattva. It is part of the soul’s fivefold “sheath,” pañcha kañchuka (or vijñānamaya kośa), along with kāla (time), kalā (creativity), vidyā (knowing) and rāga (attachment, desire). The soul thus encased is called purusha. See: karma, tattva.
nondual (nondualism): See: dvaita-advaita, monistic theism, Vedānta.
nonhuman birth: The phenomenon of the soul being born as nonhuman life forms, explained in various scriptures. For example, Saint Manikkavasagar’s famous hymn (Tiruvasagam 8.14): “I became grass and herbs, worm and tree. I became many beasts, bird and snake. I became stone and man, goblins and sundry celestials. I became mighty demons, silent sages and the Gods. Taken form in life, moveable and immovable, born in all, I am weary of birth, my Great Lord.” The Upanishads, too, describe the soul’s course after death and later taking a higher or lower birth according to its merit or demerit of the last life (Kaushītakī Upanishad 1.2, Çhandogya Upanishad 5.3–5.10, Bṛihadāraṇyaka Upanishad 6.2).
These statements are sometimes misunderstood to mean that each soul must slowly, in sequential order incarnate as successively higher beings, beginning with the lowest organism, to finally obtain a human birth. In fact, as the Upanishads explain, after death the soul, reaching the inner worlds, reaps the harvest of its deeds, is tested and then takes on the appropriate incarnation—be it human or nonhuman—according to its merit or demerit. Souls destined for human evolution are human-like from the moment of their creation in the Śivaloka. This is given outer expression in the Antarloka and Bhūloka, on Earth or other similar planets, as the appropriate sheaths are developed. However, not all souls are human souls. There are many kinds of souls, such as genies, elementals and certain Gods, who evolve toward God through different patterns of evolution than do humans.
One cause of unclarity is to confuse the previously mentioned scriptural passages with the theory of biological evolution developed by Charles Darwin (1809– 1882), which states that plant and animal species develop or evolve from earlier forms due to hereditary transmission of variations that enhance the organism’s adaptability and chances of survival. These principles are now considered the kernel of biology. Modern scientists thus argue that the human form is a development from earlier primates, including apes and monkeys. The Darwinian theory is reasonable but incomplete, as it is based in a materialistic conception of reality that does not encompass the existence of the soul. While the Upanishadic evolutionary vision speaks of the soul’s development and progress through reincarnation, the Darwinian theory focuses on evolution of the biological organism, with no relation to a soul or individual being. See: evolution of the soul, kośa, reincarnation, soul.
noninjurious: Which does not cause harm or injury. —noninjuriousness: A translation of ahiṁsā, the principle of not causing harm or injury to living beings, whether by thought, word or deed. See: ahiṁsā.
nonperseverance: The act, practice or attitude of not persisting, giving up too easily. See: yama-niyama.
nonviolence: See: ahiṁsā.
Northern Śaivism: A name for Kashmīr Śaivism. See: Kashmīr Śaivism.
notable: Worthy of being noted. Remarkable.
novelty: Newness. The constant changes and enchantments of life.
novitiate: The state or period of being a novice. i.e., a newcomer on probation to a monastic or religious community before taking final vows.
nucleus of the soul: See: ātman, impersonal being, soul.
nun: A nun is a celibate woman following strict, perhaps austere and usually solitary, spiritual disciplines and lifestyle. By balancing the masculine and feminine energies within herself through sādhana and yoga, she is a complete being, detached from the thoughts and feelings of others, free to follow the contemplative and mystical life in pursuit of the Self within. To accomplish this, she works to permanently conquer her feminine instincts and the emotional tendencies of a woman’s body. She strives to transmute her sexuality into the Divine, giving up her womanliness so thoroughly that she is indistinguishable from a monk. In Hinduism, nuns may be sannyāsinīs, yoginīs or sādhikās. See: monastic, sannyāsin, monk.
nurturing (nurturance): The act or process or furnishing nurture, nourishment for growth, development or education.
Nyāya: न्याय “System; rule; logic.” See: Gautama, shaḍ darśana.
objective: 1) Quality of thinking or perception relating to the object as it truly is. Not biased or colored by one’s personal point of view or prejudices, which then would be subjective thinking. 2) A target, goal or anything sought for or aimed at. Cf: subjective.
oblation: An offering or sacrifice ceremoniously given to a God or guru. See: sacrifice, yajña.
obliteration: A thorough blotting out; wiping out.
obscuration: The power to make obscure, to conceal or veil, as in Śiva’s veiling or obscuring grace. See: grace, Naṭarāja.
obscuring grace: See: grace, Naṭarāja.
obstacle: See: upasarga.
obstinate (obstinacy): Overly determined to have one’s own way. Stubborn.
occult: Hidden, or kept secret; revealed only after initiation. See: mysticism.
odic: Spiritually magnetic—of or pertaining to consciousness within aśuddha māyā, the realm of the physical and lower astral planes. Odic force in its rarified state is prakṛiti, the primary gross energy of nature, manifesting in the three guṇas: sattva, rajas and tamas. It is the force of attraction and repulsion between people, people and their things, and manifests as masculine (aggressive) and feminine (passive), arising from the piṅgalā and iḍā currents. These two currents (nāḍī) are found within the spine of the subtle body. Odic force is a magnetic, sticky, binding substance that people seek to develop when they want to bind themselves together, such as in partnerships, marriage, guru-śishya relationships and friendships. Odic energy is the combined emanation of the prāṇamaya and annamaya kośas. The term odic is the adjective form of od (pronounced like mode), defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “a hypothetical force held by Baron von Reichenbach (1788–1869) to pervade all nature, manifesting itself in certain persons of sensitive temperament (streaming from their fingertips), and exhibited especially by magnets, crystals, heat, light and chemical action; it has been held to explain the phenomena of mesmerism and animal magnetism.” See: actinic, actinodic, guṇa, kośa, odic, subtle body, tattva.
offset: Made up for, compensated for, counterbalanced.
offspring: The young of animals or humans. Children. Sanskrit: apatya.
olai: ஓலை “Leaf.” An ancient form of Indian books used in India, made of strips of fronds from the palmyra (tṛiṇḍruma) and talipot (tālapatra, “fan-leaf”) palms. Prepared birch bark (bhūrja patra) was the medium in the North. The pages were loosely tied, with cord passed between one or two holes and usually bound between wooden covers. Ink, made from lampblack or charcoal, was applied with a reed pen. Or, more commonly in the South, the letters were scribed with a stylus, then rubbed with powdered lampblack. These books are small in size, averaging about 2 inches high and 8 inches wide and up to 11 or 12 inches thick, wound with string and generally protected in colored cloth. See: grantha.
old soul: One who has reincarnated many times, experienced much and is therefore further along the path than young souls. Old souls may be recognized by their qualities of compassion, self-effacement and wisdom. See: evolution of the soul, soul.
Om: ओम् “Yes, verily.” The most sacred mantra of Hinduism. Om is an alternate transliteration of Aum (the sounds A and U blend to become O). See: Aum.
ominous: Foreboding; frightening, sinister.
omnipotent: All-powerful. Able to do anything.
omnipresent: Present everywhere and in all things.
omniscient: Possessing infinite knowledge.
oneness: Quality or state of being one. Unity, identity, especially in spite of appearances to the contrary—e.g., the oneness of soul and God. See: monism.
ontology: The branch of metaphysics dealing with the nature of reality.
orbit: The path taken by a celestial body revolving around another.
ordain (ordination): To bestow the duties and responsibilities, authority and spiritual power of a religious office, such as priest, minister or satguru, through religious ceremony or mystical initiation. See: dīkshā.
original sin: See: sin.
orthodox: “Of right (correct) opinion.” Conforming to established doctrines or beliefs. Opposite of heterodox, “different opinion.”
outgrow (outgrown): To grow faster or larger than and, therefore, to lose or be rid of in the process of growing.
overshadow: To cast a shadow over or be more important than; to dominate.
overwhelm: To overcome or overpower as with great force or emotion.
pada: पद “A step, pace, stride; footstep, trace.”
pāda: पाद “The foot (of men and animals); quarter-part, section; stage; path.” Names the major sections of the Āgamic texts and the corresponding stages of practice and unfoldment on the path to moksha. According to Śaiva Siddhānta, there are four pādas, which are successive and cumulative; i.e. in accomplishing each one the soul prepares itself for the next. (In Tamil, Śaiva Siddhānta is also known as Nalu-pāda, “four-stage,” Śaivam.) —charyā pāda: “Good conduct stage.” The first stage where one learns to live righteously, serve selflessly, performing karma yoga. It is also known as dāsa mārga,“servitor’s path,” a time when the aspirant relates to God as a servant to a master. Traditional acts of charyā include cleaning the temple, lighting lamps and collecting flowers for worship. Worship at this stage is mostly external. —kriyā pāda: “Religious action; worship stage.” Stage of bhakti yoga, of cultivating devotion through performing pūjā and regular daily sādhana. It is also known as the satputra mārga, “true son’s way,” as the soul now relates to God as a son to his father. A central practice of the kriyā pāda is performing daily pūjā. —yoga pāda: Having matured in the charyā and kriyā pādas, the soul now turns to internalized worship and rāja yoga under the guidance of a satguru. It is a time of sādhana and serious striving when realization of the Self is the goal. It is the sakhā mārga, “way of the friend,” for now God is looked upon as an intimate friend. —jñāna pāda: “Stage of wisdom.” Once the soul has attained Realization, it is henceforth a wise one who lives out the life of the body, shedding blessings on mankind. This stage is also called the San Mārga, “true path,” on which God is our dearest beloved; implying transcendence of individuality and merger with the Divine. The Tirumantiram describes the fulfillment of each stage as follows. In charyā, the soul forges a kindred tie in “God’s world” (sālokya). In kriyā it attains “nearness” (sāmīpya) to Him. In yoga it attains “likeness” (sārūpya) with Him. In jñāna the soul enjoys the ultimate bliss of union or identity (sāyujya) with Śiva. See: jñāna, nirvāṇī and upadeśī.
pādapūjā: पादपूजा “Foot worship.” Ceremonial worship of the guru’s sandals or holy feet, often through ablution with precious substances and offering of fruit and flowers. After the ceremony, the water of the bath, the fruit and other precious substances are partaken of as prasāda by the devotees. See: guru, guru bhakti, pādukā, prasāda, ucçhishṭa.
padārtha: पदार्थ “Constituent substance.” Primary categories or essential elements of existence, defined differently or uniquely by each philosophical school. For example, in the Sāṅkhya Darśana, the padārthas are purusha (spirit) and prakṛiti (matter). According to Advaita Vedānta, they are chit (spirit) and achit (nonspirit), which from an absolute perspective are taken as the One padārtha, Brahman. In Śākta and Śaiva traditions, the padārthas are Pati (God), paśu (soul) and pāśa (world, or bonds).
paddhati: पद्धति “Foot-path; track; guideline.” A class of expository writings, e.g., Gorakshanatha’s Siddha Siddhānta Paddhati and the many paddhatis that are guidebooks for temple rituals. There are paddhatis for the Vedas and for the Āgamas.
padma: पद्म The lotus flower, Nelumbo nucifera, symbol of spiritual development and the chakras. Because it grows out of mud and rises to perfect purity and glory, it is an apt representation of the soul’s mystical growth and maturity.
Padma Purāṇa: पद्मपुराण One of the six main Vishṇu Purāṇas.
pādukā: पादुका “Sandals.” Śrī Pādukā refers to the sandals of the preceptor, the traditional icon of the guru, representing his venerable feet and worshiped as the source of grace. Pādukā also names one of Vīra Śaivism’s eight aids (ashṭāvaraṇam) to faith—the practice of drinking the water from the ceremonial ablution of the Śivaliṅga or the guru’s feet. See: guru bhakti, pādapūjā, prasāda, satguru, ucçhishṭa.
pagan: From the Latin paganus, “villager.” A term used disparagingly by Semitic faiths for a member of another religion or of no religion, originally for the pre-Christian religions of the Roman Empire, and then for the rest of Europe. Akin to shamanism and other of the world’s indigenous faiths, which have survived to this day despite organized persecution. Pagans are gradually surfacing again, and have acknowledged an affinity with Hinduism. See: mysticism, shamanism.
pageantry: A spectacular and grand representation, elaborately decorated show, procession, drama, etc. See: festival.
Paiṅgala Upanishad: पैङ्गल उपनिषद् Belongs to the Śukla Yajur Veda. A 12-verse dialog between Sage Yajnavalkya and his disciple Paiṅgala covering a wide range of topics, including liberation and the five sheaths of man.
pañchabhūta: पञ्चभूत “Five elements.” Earth, water, fire, air and ether. Also called mahābhūta. See: tattva.
pañchāchāra: पञ्चाचार “Five rules.” The fivefold Vīra Śaivite code of conduct. 1) Liṅgāchāra: Daily worship of the Śivaliṅga. 2) sadāchāra: attention to vocation and duty. 3) Śivāchāra: Acknowledging Śiva as the one God and observing equality among members. 4) bhṛityāchāra: Humility toward all creatures. 5) gaṇāchāra: defense of the community and its tenets. See: Vira Śaivism.
Pañcha Gaṇapati Utsava: पञ्चगणपतिउत्सव “Fivefold Gaṇapati festival.” A modern five-day festival observed from the 21st through 25th of December. Pañcha (five) denotes Gaṇeśa’s five faces, each representing a specific power (śakti). One face is worshiped each day, creating 1) harmony in the home, 2) concord among relatives, neighbors and friends, 3) good business and public relations, 4) cultural upliftment and 5) heartfelt charity and religiousness. The festival, a favorite among children, was conceived in 1985 by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami along with elders of various Hindu sects. It is a time of sharing gifts, renewing ties of family and friendship while focusing inwardly on this great God of abundance. See: Gaṇeśa.
Pañchākshara Mantra: पञ्चाक्षरमन्त्र “Five-lettered chant.” Śaivism’s most sacred mantra. See: Namaḥ Śivāya.
Pañchamukha Gaṇapati: पञ्चमुखगणपति “Five-faced Gaṇapati.” A special form of Lord Gaṇeśa with five faces; similar to Siddhi Gaṇapati.
pañcha nitya karma(s): पञ्चनित्यकर्म “Five constant duties.” A traditional regimen of religious practice for Hindus: 1) dharma, virtuous living, 2) upāsanā, worship, 3) utsava, holy days, 4) tīrthayātrā, pilgrimage and 5) saṁskāras, sacraments. See: dharma, festival, saṁskāra, tīrthayātrā. See also: Primer, p. 711
Pañcharātra: पञ्चरात्र An ancient form of Vaishṇavism. Literally “five nights,” but this may be a corruption of pañcharatha (“five vehicles, ways or paths”), thought to indicate five ancient sects in the vicinity of Mathura that eventually merged into one with the worship of Kṛishṇa.
Pāñcharātra Āgama(s): पाञ्चरात्र आगम The most popular of the two major groups of Vaishṇava Āgamas (the other being the Vaikhānasa Āgamas).
Pañchārtha Bhāshya: पञ्चार्थभाष्य Commentary by Kaundinya (ca 100) on Lakulisa’s Pāśupata Sūtras, one of the few extant philosophical texts of Pāśupata Śaivism. It was rediscovered in 1930. See: Pāśupata Śaivism.
pañcha śraddhā: पञ्चश्रद्धा “Five faiths.” A concise summary of Hindu belief exactly correlated to the “five constant practices,” pañcha nitya karmas. The pañcha śraddhā are 1) sarva Brahman: God is All in all, soul is divine; 2) maṇḍira: belief in temples and divine beings; 3) karma: cosmic justice; 4) saṁsāra–moksha: rebirth brings enlightenment and liberation; 5) Vedas and satguru: the necessity of scripture and preceptor. See: pañcha nitya karma.
Pañchatantra: पञ्चतन्त्र The collection of animal fables used by sage Vishnu (Vishṇu) Sharma to teach the king’s sons the “art of practical life.” They were written down in Sanskrit in about 200 BCE, but had circulated previously as part of oral tradition. The engaging apologues have migrated all over the world to reappear in Aesop’s Fables, Arabian Nights, Canterbury Tales and in ancient Chinese and Japanese literature. See: apologue, folk-narratives, mythology.
pañchāyatana pūjā: पञ्चायतनपूजा “Five-shrine worship.” A system of personal worship, thought to have developed after the 7th century, in the Smārta brāhminical tradition, and which is now part of orthodox daily practice for Smārtas. The ritual involves the worship of five Deities: Vishṇu, Śiva, Sūrya, Gaṇeśa and Śakti. The five are represented by small mūrtis, or by five kinds of stones, or by five marks drawn on the floor. One is placed in the center as the devotee’s preferred God, Ishṭa Devatā, and the other four in a square around it. Kumāra, often added as a sixth Deity, is generally situated behind the Ishṭa Devatā. Philosophically, all are seen by Smārtas as equal reflections of the one Saguṇa Brahman, rather than as distinct beings. This arrangement is also represented in Smārta temples, with one in a central sanctum, and the others installed in smaller shrines. Each God may be worshiped in any of His/Her traditional aspects or incarnations, allowing for much variety (e.g., Śakti as Lakshmī, Vishṇu as Rāma, and Śiva as Bhairava). With the addition of the sixth Deity, Kumāra, the system is known as shaṇmata, “sixfold path.” This system has laid the foundation for the modern secular or neo-Indian religion, in which Hindus freely add Jesus, Mother Mary, Mohammed, Buddha or other holy personages to their altars. This modern syncretism has no basis in traditional scripture. See: Ishṭa Devatā, neo-Indian religion, shaṇmata sthāpanāchārya, Smārtism.
pandit (paṇḍita): पण्डित (Also, pundit.) A Hindu religious scholar or theologian, one well versed in philosophy, liturgy, religious law and sacred science.
panentheism: “All-in-God doctrine.” The view that the universe is part of the being of God, as distinguished from pantheism (“all-is-God doctrine”), which identifies God with the total reality. In contrast, panentheism holds that God pervades the world, but is also beyond it. He is immanent and transcendent, relative and Absolute. This embracing of opposites is called dipolar. For the panentheist, God is in all, and all is in God. Panentheism is the technical term for monistic theism. See: Advaita Īśvaravāda, dvaita-advaita, monistic theism, pantheism.
Panini (Pāṇini): पाणिनि Great Sanskrit grammarian, author of the 4,000-sūtra Ashṭādhyāyī, which set the linguistic standards for classical Sanskrit (ca 400 BCE). See: Vyākaraṇa Vedāṅga.
pantheism: “All-is-God doctrine.” A term applied to a variety of philosophical positions in which God and the world are identical. To the pantheist, God is not a Personal Lord, nor a transcendent or formless Being, but is the totality of all existence, including universal laws, movement, matter, etc. See also: monistic theism, panentheism.
pāpa: पाप “Wickedness or sin;” “crime.” 1) Bad or evil. 2) Wrongful action. 3) Demerit earned through wrongdoing. Pāpa includes all forms of wrongdoing, from the simplest infraction to the most heinous crime, such as premeditated murder. Each act of pāpa carries its karmic consequence, karmaphala, “fruit of action,” for which scriptures delineate specific penance for expiation. Those who have awakened psychic sight can clearly see pāpa in the inner subconscious aura as a colorful, sticky, astral substance. Pāpa is seen as dark unrelated colors, whereas its counterpart, puṇya, is seen as pastels. The color arrangements are not unlike modern art murals. Pāpa colors can produce disease, depression, loneliness and such, but can be dissolved through penance (prāyaśchitta), austerity (tapas) and good deeds (sukṛityā).
There are specific consequences, karmaphala, “fruit of action,” that result from each type of transgression of dharma. For example, a man who steals from his neighbors creates a cosmic debt which may be repaid later by having his own possessions taken away. There are also specific penances, prāyaśchitta, that can be performed for atonement and the accrual of puṇya (merit) to balance out the pāpa, the negative karma of the wrongful act. Such disciplines are provided in the various Dharma Śāstras and prescribed by knowing preceptors, paṇḍitas, śāstrīs, swāmīs, yogīs and village elders according to the varṇa and education of the individual.
For example, the Laws of Manu give several types of penance for the crime of murder, including 1) making a forest hut and subsisting there on alms for twelve years and using a human skull as one’s emblem; or 2) walking 100 yojanas (900 miles), while reciting the Vedas, eating little and remaining continent. A contemporary example: if a man fells a large healthy tree, he may atone by planting ten trees and ensuring that at least one grows to replace it.
The degree of pāpa accrued from an action depends on various factors, including the karma, dharma and spiritual advancement of the individual, the intent or motivation, as well as the time and place of the action (for example, unvirtuous deeds carry great demerit when performed in holy places). Pāpa is the opposite of puṇya (merit, virtue). See: evil, karma, penance, puṇya, sin.
pāpa-duḥkha: पापदुःख “Sin and suffering.” See: karma, pāpa, sin.
pāpman: पाप्मन् “Evil; sin.” See: evil, pāpa, Satan, sin.
para: पर “Supreme; beyond.” A prefix referring to the highest dimension of what it precedes, as in Paraśiva or Parabrahman. (Sometimes parā, as in Parāśakti.)
parable: A short, simple story illustrating a moral or religious principle.
Parabrahman: परब्रह्मन् “Supreme (or transcendent) God.” A synonym for Nirguṇa Brahman, Absolute Reality, beyond time, form and space. Same as Paraśiva. See: Brahman, Paraśiva.
paradox: “Side-by-side opinion or thought.” An apparent contradiction according to conventional logic and reason.
Parākhya Āgama: पराख्य आगम A subsidiary Śaiva Āgamic text (Upāgama).
parama: परम “Highest; supreme.” See: para.
paramaguru: परमगुरु “Grand preceptor.” The guru of a disciple’s guru.
paramahaṁsa: परमहंस “Supreme swan.” From haṁsa, meaning swan or, more precisely, the high-flying Indian goose, Anser Indicus. A class of liberated renunciates. See: haṁsa.
Paramananda (Paramānanda): परमानन्द See: Kailāsa Paramparā.
Paramātman: परमात्मन् “Supreme Self,” or “transcendent soul.” Paraśiva, Absolute Reality, the one transcendent Self of every soul. Contrasted with ātman, which includes all three aspects of the soul: Paraśiva, Parāśakti and ānandamaya kośa. See: ātman, kośa, Parāśakti, Paraśiva, soul.
Parameśvara: परमेश्वर “Supreme Lord or Ruler.” God Śiva’s third perfection, Supreme Mahādeva, Śiva-Śakti, mother of the universe. In this perfection, as personal, father-mother God, Śiva is a person—who has a body, with head, arms and legs, etc.—who acts, wills, blesses, gives darśana, guides, creates, preserves, reabsorbs, obscures and enlightens. In Truth, it is Śiva-Śakti who does all. The term Primal Soul, Paramapurusha, designates Parameśvara as the original, uncreated soul, the creator of all other souls. Parameśvara has many other names and epithets, including those denoting the five divine actions—Sadāśiva, the revealer; Maheśvara, the obscurer;Brahmā, the creator; Vishṇu the preserver; and Rudra the destroyer. See: Naṭarāja, Parāśakti, Paraśiva, Sadāśiva.
paramparā: परंपरा “Uninterrupted succession.” A lineage. See: guru paramparā.
parārtha pūjā: परार्थपूजा “Public liturgy and worship.” See: pūjā.
Parāśakti: पराशक्ति “Supreme power; primal energy.” God Śiva’s second perfection, which is impersonal, immanent, and with form—the all-pervasive, Pure Consciousness and Primal Substance of all that exists. There are many other descriptive names for Parāśakti—Satchidānanda (“existence-consciousness-bliss”), light, silence, divine mind, superconsciousness and more. Parāśakti can be experienced by the diligent yogī or meditator as a merging in, or identification with, the underlying oneness flowing through all form. The experience is called savikalpa samādhi. See: rāja yoga, Śakti, Satchidānanda, tattva.
Parāsamvid: परासंविद् In Siddha Siddhānta, the highest, transcendental state of Śiva. A synonym of Paraśiva.
Paraśiva: परशिव “Transcendent Śiva.” The Self God, Śiva’s first perfection, Absolute Reality. Paraśiva is That which is beyond the grasp of consciousness, transcends time, form and space and defies description. To merge with the Absolute in mystic union is the ultimate goal of all incarnated souls, the reason for their living on this planet, and the deepest meaning of their experiences. Attainment of this is called Self Realization or nirvikalpa samādhi. See: samādhi, Śiva.
Pārvatī: पार्वती “Mountain’s daughter.” One of many names for the Universal Mother. Prayers are offered to Her for strength, health and eradication of impurities. Mythologically, Pārvatī is wedded to Śiva. See: Goddess, Śakti.
pāśa: पाश “Tether; noose.” The whole of existence, manifest and unmanifest. That which binds or limits the soul and keeps it (for a time) from manifesting its full potential. Pāśa consists of the soul’s threefold bondage of āṇava, karma and māyā. See: liberation, mala, Pati-paśu-pāśa.
pāśa-jñāna: पाशज्ञान “Knowledge of the world.” That which is sought for by the soul in the first stage of the sakala avasthā, known as irul. See: irul, sakala avasthā.
paśu: पशु “Cow, cattle, kine; fettered individual.” Refers to animals or beasts, including man. In philosophy, the soul. Śiva as lord of creatures is called Paśupati. See: pāśa, Pati-paśu-pāśa.
paśu-jñāna: पशुज्ञान “Soul-knowledge.” The object of seeking in the second stage of the sakala avasthā, called marul. See: marul, sakala avasthā.
paśupālaka: पशुपालक “Herdsman.” One who protects, nourishes and guards. A Hindu chaplain or missionary.
Pāśupata Śaivism: पाशुपतशैव Monistic and theistic, this school of Śaivism reveres Śiva as Supreme Cause and Personal Ruler of soul and world, denoted in His form as Paśupati, “Lord of souls.” This school centers around the ascetic path, emphasizing sādhana, detachment from the world and the quest for “internal kuṇḍalinī grace.” The Kāravaṇa Māhātmya recounts the birth of Lakulisa (ca 200 BCE), a principal Pāśupata guru, and refers to the temple of Somanatha as one of the most important Pāśupata centers. Lakulisa propounded a Śaiva monism, though indications are that Pāśupata philosophy was previously dualistic, with Śiva as efficient cause of the universe but not material cause. It is thought to be the source of various ascetic streams, including the Kāpālikas and the Kālāmukhas. This school is represented today in the broad sādhu tradition, and numerous Pāśupata sites of worship are scattered across India. See: Śaivism.
Pāśupata Sūtra(s): पाशुपतसूत्र The recently rediscovered (1930) central scripture of the Pāśupata school of Śaivism, attributed to Lakulisa. It covers asceticism at great length, and the five subjects of Pāśupata theology: effect, cause, meditation, behavior and dissolution of sorrow. It urges the ascetic to go unrecognized and even invite abuse. See: Pāśupata Śaivism.
Paśupati: पशुपति “Herdsman; lord of animals.” An ancient name and attribute of Śiva, first appearing in the Atharva Veda. This form of Śiva, seated in yogic pose, was found on a seal from the 6,000-year-old Indus Valley civilization. See: Pāśupata Śaivism, Śaivism.
Pasupatinatha mandira: पासुपतिनथमन्दिर Foremost temple of Nepal, linked to the ancient Pāśupata sect of Śaivism.
pātāla: पाताल “Fallen or sinful region.” The seventh chakra below the mūlādhāra, centered in the soles of the feet. Corresponds to the seventh and lowest astral netherworld beneath the Earth’s surface, called Kākola (“black poison”) or Pātāla. This is the realm in which misguided souls indulge in destruction for the sake of destruction, of torture, and of murder for the sake of murder. Pātāla also names the netherworld in general, and is a synonym for Naraka. See: chakra, loka, Naraka.
Patanjali (Patañjali): पतञ्जलि A Śaivite Nātha siddha (ca 200 BCE) who codified the ancient yoga philosophy which outlines the path to enlightenment through purification, control and transcendence of the mind. One of the six classical philosophical systems (darśanas) of Hinduism, known as Yoga Darśana. His great work, the Yoga Sūtras, comprises some 200 aphorisms delineating ashṭāṅga (eight-limbed), rāja (kingly) or siddha (perfection) yoga. Still today it is the foremost ancient text on meditative yoga. Different from the namesake grammarian. See: Kailāsa Paramparā, rāja yoga, shaḍ darśana, yoga.
path: Mārga or pantha. A trail, road or way. In Hinduism the term path is used in various ways. —path of enlightenment/salvation/moksha: The way to the ultimate goals of Self Realization and liberation. —universal path: The spiritual path followed by all of existence, progressing to Godhood. —path of dharma: Following principles of good conduct and virtue. —the two paths: The way of the monk and that of the householder, a choice to be made by each Hindu young man. —peerless/highest path: The spiritual path (or the path of renunciation) as the noblest of human undertakings. —the straight path: The way that leads directly to the goal, without distraction or karmic detour. —on the path: one seriously studying, striving and performing sādhana to perfect the inner and outer nature. —our right path in life: The best way for us personally to proceed; personal dharma, svadharma. —“Truth is one, paths are many:” Hinduism’s affirmation for tolerance. It accepts that there are various ways to proceed toward the ultimate goal. See: dharma, pāda.
pāṭhaka: पाठक “Reader, reciter.” An inspired reader of scripture and sacred literature.
Pati: पति “Master; lord; owner.” A name for God Śiva indicating His commanding relationship with souls as caring ruler and helpful guide. In Śaiva Siddhānta the term is part of the analogy of cowherd (pati), cows (paśu, souls) and the tether (pāśa—āṇava, karma and māyā) by which cows are tied. See: monotheism, Pati-paśu-pāśa, Śiva.
Pati-jñāna: पतिज्ञान “Knowledge of God,” sought for by the soul in the third stage of the sakala avasthā, called arul. See: arul, sakala avasthā, śaktinipāta.
Pati-paśu-pāśa: पति पशु पाश Literally: “master, cow and tether.” These are the three primary elements (padārtha, or tattvatrayī) of Śaiva Siddhānta philosophy: God, soul and world—Divinity, man and cosmos—seen as a mystically and intricately interrelated unity. Pati is God, envisioned as a cowherd. Paśu is the soul, envisioned as a cow. Pāśa is the all-important force or fetter by which God brings souls along the path to Truth. The various schools of Hinduism define the rapport among the three in varying ways. For pluralistic Śaiva Siddhāntins they are three beginningless verities, self-existent, eternal entities. For monistic Śaiva Siddhāntins, paśu and pāśa are the emanational creation of Pati, Lord Śiva, and He alone is eternal reality. See: pāśa, Śaiva Siddhānta, soul.
Paushkara Āgama: पौष्कर आगम Subsidiary text (Upāgama) of the Mataṅga Parameśvara Śaiva Āgama, containing 977 verses divided into 90 chapters. A mostly philosophic treatise dealing with God, soul and world and the instruments of knowledge. See: Śaiva Āgama.
penance: Prāyaśchitta. Atonement, expiation. An act of devotion (bhakti), austerity (tapas) or discipline (sukṛitya) undertaken to soften or nullify the anticipated reaction to a past action. Penance is uncomfortable karma inflicted upon oneself to mitigate one’s karmic burden caused by wrongful actions (kukarma). It includes such acts as prostrating 108 times, fasting, self-denial, or carrying kavadi (public penance), as well as more extreme austerities, or tapas. Penance is often suggested by spiritual leaders and elders. Penitence or repentance, suffering regret for misdeeds, is called anutāpa, meaning “reheating.” See: evil, kavadi, pāpa, prāyaśchitta, sin, tapas.
pendant: An ornament or piece of jewelry “appended” to a necklace. See: wedding pendant.
perfections: Qualities, aspects, nature or dimensions that are perfect. God Śiva’s three perfections are Paraśiva, Parāśakti and Parameśvara. Though spoken of as threefold for the sake of understanding, God Śiva ever remains a one transcendent-immanent Being. See: Śiva.
Periyapurāṇam: பெரிய புராணம் Twelfth book of the Tirumurai. Lives of the 63 Śaiva Nayanar saints of Tamil Nadu, by Sekkilar (ca 1140). See: Tirumurai.
personal dharma: Svadharma. An individual’s unique path in life in conformance with divine law. See: dharma, karma.
Personal God: See: Ishṭa Devatā, Parameśvara.
perspective: Point of view.
pilgrimage: Tīrthayātrā. Journeying to a holy temple, near or far, performed by all Hindus at least once each year. See: tīrthayātrā.
piṇḍa: पिण्ड Roundish “pellet; mass; body;” part of the whole, individual; microcosm.” In worship rites, small balls of cooked rice set aside daily in remembrance of ancestors. Philosophically, and emphasized in Siddha Siddhānta, the human body as a replica of the macrocosm, mahāsākāra piṇḍa, also called Brahmāṇḍa (cosmic egg), or simply aṇḍa (egg). Within the individual body of man is reflected and contained the entire cosmos. Each chakra represents a world or plane of consciousness with the highest locus in the head and the lowest in the feet. “Microcosm-macrocosm” is embodied in the terms piṇḍa-aṇda. Siddha Siddhānta Paddhati lists six piṇḍas, from the garbhapiṇḍa, “womb-born body,” to parapiṇḍa, “transcendental body.” See: Brahmāṇḍa, microcosm-macrocosm.
piṅgalā: पिंगला “Tawny channel.” The masculine psychic current flowing along the spine. See: kuṇḍalinī, nāḍī, rāja yoga.
pir: Holy “father.” Muslim title for a religious leader; applied to leaders of a few Gorakshanātha monasteries. See: Siddha Siddhānta.
pīṭha: पीठ “Seat; pedestal; foundation.” 1) The base or pedestal of the Śivaliṅga, or of any Deity idol. 2) A religious seat, such as the throne of the abbot of a monastery. 3) An aadheenam, āśrama or maṭha established around such a seat of spiritual authority. See: Śivaliṅga.
Pitṛiloka: पितृलोक “World of ancestors.” The upper region of Bhuvarloka. See: loka.
pitta: पित्त “Bile; fire.” One of the three bodily humors, called doshas, pitta is known as the fire humor. It is the āyurvedic principle of bodily heat-energy. Pitta dosha governs nutritional absorption, body temperature and intelligence. See: āyurveda, dosha.
plague: To distress, afflict, trouble or torment.
plane: A stage or level of existence; e.g., the causal plane (Śivaloka). See: loka.
Pleiades: A cluster of stars in the Taurus constellation, six of which are now visible from Earth. This group of stars is known in Sanskrit as Kṛittikā, an important nakshatra for Lord Kārttikeya and believed to be this Deity’s place of origin before He came to the star system of Earth. See: Kārttikeya.
pliant: Flexible, adaptable, not rigid.
Plotinus: Egypt-born Greek philosopher (205–270), one of the Western world’s greatest known mystics, who extended and revived the work of the Greek philosopher Plato in the Roman Empire. His philosophy, known as Neo-Platonism, posits concentric levels of reality, not unlike the Hindu cosmology of lokas, with a central source of sublime existence and values and an outer sheath of physical matter. Man, he said, is a microcosm of this system, capable of attaining the sublime inner state through enstasy. He practiced and taught ahiṁsā, vegetarianism, karma, reincarnation and belief in Supreme Being as both immanent and transcendent. His writings, in six divisions, are called the Enneads. He was apparently familiar with Hindu wisdom through reading Life of Apollonius of Tyana, a partly fictionalized biography of a Greek renunciate who is said to have visited India.
pluralism (pluralistic): Doctrine that holds existence to be composed of three or more distinct and irreducible components, such as God, souls and world. See: dvaita-advaita.
pluralistic realism: A term for pluralism used by various schools including Meykandar Śaiva Siddhānta, emphasizing that the components of existence are absolutely real in themselves and not creations of consciousness or God.
polygamy: Practice of having more than one spouse.
polytheism: Belief in or worship of many Gods. See also: monotheism.
pomp: A dignified or brilliant display. Splendor and pageantry.
pontifical: Having to do with pontiffs, or high priests. Having all the dignity, respect, and influence of a spiritual leader endowed with great authority.
potent: Having power, authority. Effective, able.
potentialities: A state of latency, something that has power but is not developed or manifest, such as a talent yet to be matured.
pradakshiṇa: प्रदक्षिण “Moving to the right.” Worshipful circumambulation, walking clockwise around the temple sanctum or other holy place, with the intention of shifting the mind from worldly concerns to awareness of the Divine. Clockwise has esoteric significance in that the chakras of mūlādhāra and above spin clockwise, while those below spin counterclockwise, taking one down into the lower regions of selfishness, greed, conflict and turmoil.
pradosha: प्रदोष The auspicious 3-hour period, 1½ hours before and after sunset. Pradosha especially refers to this period on the 13th (trayodaśī) tithi of each fortnight, an optimum time of the month for meditation. Its observance, prepared for by fasting, is called pradosha vrata. See: fast, tithi.
pragmatic: Practical. Concerned with application, not theory or speculation.
prakṛiti: प्रकृति “Primary matter; nature.” In the 25-tattva Sāṅkhya system—which concerns itself only with the tangible spectrum of creation—prakṛiti, or pradhāna, is one of two supreme beginningless realities: matter and spirit, Prakṛiti and Purusha, the female and male principles. Prakṛiti is the manifesting aspect, as contrasted with the quiescent unmanifest—Purusha, which is pure consciousness. In Śāktism, Prakṛiti, the active principle, is personified as Devī, the Goddess, and is synonymous with Māyā. Prakṛiti is thus often seen, and depicted so in the Purāṇas, as the Divine Mother, whose love and care embrace and comfort all beings. In Śaivite cosmology, prakṛiti is the 24th of 36 tattvas, the potentiality of the physical cosmos, the gross energy from which all lower tattvas are formed. Its three qualities are sattva, rajas and tamas. See: odic, purusha, tattva.
pralaya: प्रलय “Dissolution, reabsorption; destruction; death.” A synonym for saṁhāra, one of the five functions of Śiva. Also names the partial destruction or reabsorption of the cosmos at the end of each eon or kalpa. There are three kinds of periods of dissolution: 1) laya, at the end of a mahāyuga, when the physical world is destroyed; 2) pralaya, at the end of a kalpa, when both the physical and subtle worlds are destroyed; and 3) mahāpralaya at the end of a mahākalpa, when all three worlds (physical, subtle and causal) are absorbed into Śiva. See: cosmic cycle, mahāpralaya.
pramukha: प्रमुख Literally, “forward-face.” “Head; chief; principal. ” Leader, guide; such as the family head, kuṭumba pramukha. See: joint family.
prāṇa: प्राण Vital energy or life principle. Literally, “vital air,” from the root praṇ, “to breathe.” Prāṇa in the human body moves in the prāṇamaya kośa as five primary life currents known as vāyus, “vital airs or winds.” These are prāṇa (outgoing breath), apāṇa (incoming breath), vyāṇa (retained breath), udāṇa (ascending breath) and samāṇa (equalizing breath). Each governs crucial bodily functions, and all bodily energies are modifications of these. While prāṇa usually refers to the life principle, it sometimes denotes energy, the interrelated odic and actinic forces, the power or the animating force of the cosmos, the sum total of all energy and forces. See: kośa, tattva.
Prāṇāgnihotra Upanishad: प्राणाग्निहोत्र उपनिषद् A minor Upanishad which explains how to transform the external ritual of the fire sacrifice into prāṇāgnihotra, “the sacrifice offered in the prāṇa fire” of one’s own being.
Prāṇaliṅga: प्राणलिङ्ग “Living mark.” Personally experiencing God in the Śivaliṅga. A term used especially in Vīra Śaivism. See: Śivaliṅga, Vīra Śaivism.
praṇāma: प्रणाम “Obeisance; bowing down.” Reverent salutation in which the head or body is bowed. —ashṭāṅga praṇāma: “Eight-limbed obeisance.” The full prostration for men, in which the hands, chest, forehead, knees and feet touch the ground. (The same as śashṭāṇga praṇāma.) —pañchāṅga praṇāma: “Five-limbed obeisance.” The woman’s form of prostration, in which the hands, head and legs touch the ground (with the ankles crossed, right over the left). A more exacting term for prostration is praṇipāta, “falling down in obeisance.” See: bhakti, namaskāra, prapatti.
prāṇamaya kośa: प्राणमयकोश “Life-energy sheath.” See: kośa, prāṇa.
prāṇatyāga: प्राणत्याग “Abandoning life force.” A term for suicide but without the connotation of violence expressed in the more common terms svadehaghāta, “murdering one’s body,” and ātmaghāta, “self-murder.” See: death, suicide.
Praṇava: प्रणव “Humming.” The mantra Aum, denoting God as the Primal Sound. It can be heard as the sound of one’s own nerve system, like the sound of an electrical transformer or a swarm of bees. The meditator is taught to inwardly transform this sound into the inner light which lights the thoughts, and bask in this blissful consciousness. Praṇava is also known as the sound of the nāda-nāḍī śakti. See: Aum, Śiva Consciousness.
prāṇāyāma: प्राणायाम “Breath control.” See: rāja yoga.
prāṇic body: The subtle, life-giving sheath called prāṇamaya kośa. See: kośa.
prapatti: प्रपत्ति “Throwing oneself down.” Bhakti, total, unconditional submission to God, often coupled with the attitude of personal helplessness, self-effacement and resignation. A term especially used in Vaishṇavism to name a concept extremely central to virtually all Hindu schools. In Śaiva Siddhānta, bhakti is all important in the development of the soul and its release into spiritual maturity. The doctrine is perhaps best expressed in the teachings of the four Samayāchārya saints, who all shared a profound and mystical love of Śiva marked by 1) deep humility and self-effacement, admission of sin and weakness; 2) total surrender in God as the only true refuge and 3) a relationship of lover and beloved known as bridal mysticism, in which the devotee is the bride and Śiva the bridegroom. The practice of yoga, too, is an expression of love of God in Śaiva Siddhānta, and it is only with God’s grace that success is achieved. Rishi Tirumular states: “Unless your heart melts in the sweet ecstasy of love—my Lord, my treasure-trove, you can never possess” (Tirumantiram 272). It is in this concept of the need for self-effacement and total surrender, prapatti, that the members of all sects merge in oneness, at the fulfillment of their individual paths. Similarly, they all meet in unity at the beginning of the path with the worship of Lord Gaṇeśa. See: bhakti, grace, pāda, surrender.
prārabdha karma: प्रारब्धकर्म “Action that has been unleashed or aroused.” See: karma.
prasāda: प्रसाद “Clarity, brightness; grace.” 1) The virtue of serenity and graciousness. 2) Food offered to the Deity or the guru, or the blessed remnants of such food. 3) Any propitiatory offering. See: sacrament, Vīra Śaivism.
Praśna Upanishad: प्रस्न उपनिषद् Belongs to the Atharva Veda and is divided into six sections addressing six questions asked of sage Pippalada (Pippalāda) by his disciples, regarding life, Realization and the mantra Aum.
praśnottaram: प्रश्नोत्तरम् “Question-answer (praśna-uttaram).” A term used in Dancing with Śiva for catechism, an interrogatory summation of religious doctrine. See: Upanishad.
pratyabhijñā: प्रत्यभिज्ञा “Recognition or recollection,” from “knowledge” (jñāna) which “faces” (abhi) the knower and toward which he eventually “turns” (prati). A concept of Kashmīr Śaivism which denotes the devotee’s recognition, as a result of the guru’s grace, of the Truth that ever was—that Śiva is indeed everywhere, and the soul is already united with Him.
Pratyabhijñā Darśana: प्रत्यभिज्ञादर्शन The philosophical name for Kashmīr Śaivism.
Pratyabhijñā Sūtra(s): प्रत्यभिज्ञासूत्र A foundational Kashmīr Śaiva scripture, 190 sūtras.
pratyāhāra: प्रत्याहार “Withdrawal.” The drawing in of forces. In yoga, the withdrawal from external consciousness. (Also a synonym for pralaya.) See: rāja yoga, mahāpralaya, meditation.
prāyaśchitta: प्रायश्चित्त “Predominant thought or aim.” Penance. Acts of atonement. See: pāpa, penance, puṇya.
prayojaka: प्रयोजक “An instigator, manager, promoter, agent.” Also a designation of a coordinator of religious outreach activities and literature distribution.
prāyopaveśa: प्रायोपवेश “Resolving to die through fasting.” Self-willed death by fasting. See: death, suicide.
precede: To come before in time, importance, influence or rank.
precinct: An enclosed or delimited area. Also the grounds surrounding a religious edifice.
precursor: Forerunner. A person or thing that goes before. Predecessor.
Premaiva Śivamaya, Satyam eva Paraśivaḥ: प्रेमैव शिवमय सत्यम् एव परशिवः “God Śiva is immanent love and transcendent Reality.” A Śaivite Hindu affirmation of faith. See: affirmation.
prenatal: Existing or occurring before physical birth, or relating to the time before birth. See: saṁskāras of birth.
preservation: The act of maintaining or protecting. One of the five cosmic powers. See: Naṭarāja.
preside: To be chairman at a gathering, in a position of authority within a group. To have charge of; to dominate.
Pretaloka: प्रेतलोक “World of the departed.” The realm of the earth-bound souls. This lower region of Bhuvarloka is an astral duplicate of the physical world. See: loka.
prevail: To be strong and victorious; overcome all obstacles. To exist widely.
Primal Soul: The uncreated, original, perfect soul—Śiva Parameśvara—who emanates from Himself the inner and outer universes and an infinite plurality of individual souls whose essence is identical with His essence. God in His personal aspect as Lord and Creator, depicted in many forms: Naṭarāja by Śaivites, Vishṇu by Vaishṇavites, Devī by Śāktas. See: Naṭarāja, Parameśvara.
Primal Sound: In Hinduism, sound is the first manifestation, even before light, in the creative scheme of things. The Primal Sound is also known as Praṇava, the sound of the mula mantra, “Aum.” See: sound.
Primal Substance: The fundamental energy and rarified form from which the manifest world in its infinite diversity is derived. See: Parāśakti.
principle: An essential truth, law or rule upon which others are based.
pristine: Pure, unspoiled; original condition.
procreation: The process of begetting offspring.
progeny: Offspring, children; descendants.
prohibit: To forbid or prevent by authority.
prominent: Conspicuous, noticeable at once. Widely known.
promiscuity: Engaging in sex indiscriminantly or with many persons.
prone: Tending or inclined toward.
pronged: Having one or several pointed ends.
propel: To push, impel, or drive forward.
prophecy: Divination. Act or practice of predicting the future.
propound: To set forth. To put forward.
protest: To state positively, affirm solemnly; or speak strongly against.
protocol: Customs of proper etiquette and ceremony, especially in relation to religious or political dignitaries.
protrude: To jut out or project.
province: Sphere, area or division.
prow: The forward part of a ship; any similar projecting or leading part.
prudent: Careful. Showing wisdom and good judgment in practical matters.
psalm: A sacred hymn, song or poem.
psychic: “Of the psyche or soul.” Sensitive to spiritual processes and energies. Inwardly or intuitively aware of nonphysical realities; able to use powers such as clairvoyance, clairaudience and precognition. Nonphysical, subtle; pertaining to the deeper aspects of man. See: mysticism, odic.
pūjā: पूजा “Worship, adoration.” An Āgamic rite of worship performed in the home, temple or shrine, to the mūrti, śrī pādukā, or other consecrated object, or to a person, such as the satguru. Its inner purpose is to purify the atmosphere around the object worshiped, establish a connection with the inner worlds and invoke the presence of God, Gods or one’s guru. During pūjā, the officiant (pujārī) recites various chants praising the Divine and beseeching divine blessings, while making offerings in accordance with established traditions. Pūjā, the worship of a mūrti through water, lights and flowers in temples and shrines, is the Āgamic counterpart of the Vedic yajña rite, in which offerings are conveyed through the sacred homa fire. These are the two great streams of adoration and communion in Hinduism. Central steps of pūjā include: 1) āchamana, water sipping for purification; 2) Gaṇapati prārthanā, prayers to Gaṇeśa; 3) saṅkalpa, declaration of intent; 4) ghaṇṭā, ringing bell, inviting devas and dismissing asuras; 5) āvāhana, inviting the Deity ; 6) mantras and dhyāna, meditating on the Deity; 7) svāgata, welcoming; 8) namaskāra, obeisance; 9) arghyam, water offerings; 10) pradakshiṇa, circumambulation; 11) abhisheka, bathing the mūrti; 12) dhūpa, incense-offering; 13) dīpa, offering lights; 14) naivedya, offering food; 15) archana, chanting holy names; 16) āratī, final offering of lights; 17) prārthanā, personal requests; 18) visarjana, dismissal-farewell. Also central are prāṇāyāma (breath control), guru vandana (adoration of the preceptor), nyāsa (empowerment through touching) and mudrā (mystic gestures). Pūjā offerings also include pushpa (flowers), arghya (water), tāmbūla (betel leaf) and chandana (sandalpaste). —ātmārtha pūjā: Kāraṇa Āgama, v. 2, states: Ātmārtha cha parārtha cha pūjā dvividhamuchyate, “Worship is twofold: for the benefit of oneself and for the benefit of others.” Ātmārtha pūjā is done for oneself and immediate family, usually at home in a private shrine. —parārtha pūjā: “Pūjā for others.” Parārtha pūjā is public pūjā, performed by authorized or ordained priests in a public shrine or temple. See: pujārī, yajña.
pujārī: पुजारी “Worshiper.” A general term for Hindu temple priests, as well as anyone performing pūjā. Pujārī (sometimes pūjārī) is the Hindi form of the Sanskrit pūjaka; pūsārī in Tamil. Archaka is another term for priest used in the southern tradition. Purohita is a Smārta brāhmin priest who specializes in domestic rites. See: pūjā.
pulsate: To beat or throb in rhythm, as the heart.
punarjanma: पुनर्जन्म “Reincarnation.” From punaḥ, “again and again,” and janma, “taking birth.” See: reincarnation.
pundit (paṇḍita): पण्डित A Hindu religious scholar or theologian, a man well versed in philosophy, liturgy, religious law and sacred science.
Punjab (Puñjāb): पुंजाब The area of ancient India between the Indus and Sutlej, below Kashmir. It is now divided between India and Pakistan. It was a center of Śaivism prior to the Muslim invasions. The modern Indian state is 19,445 square miles in area with a population of 18 million.
punsavana: पुंसवन “Male rite; bringing forth a male.” Traditional sacrament performed during early pregnancy in prayer of a son. See: saṁskāras of birth.
puṇya: पुण्य “Holy; virtuous; auspicious.” 1) Good or righteous. 2) Meritorious action. 3) Merit earned through right thought, word and action. Puṇya includes all forms of doing good, from the simplest helpful deed to a lifetime of conscientious beneficence. Each act of puṇya carries its karmic consequence, karmaphala, “fruit of action”—the positive reward of actions, words and deeds that are in keeping with dharma. Awakened psychics who have developed clairvoyant sight can clearly see the puṇya accrued in the inner subconscious aura as a colorful, free-flowing, astral, light-energy, prāṇic substance. Puṇya is seen as light-hued, pastel colors, whereas its counterpart, pāpa, is seen as shades of darker colors which are usually static and immovable. These variegations of the pāpa shades and puṇya hues are not unlike the free-expression paintings found in modern art. Puṇya colors produce inner contentment, deep joy, the feeling of security and fearlessness. Pāpa can be dissolved and puṇya created through penance (prāyaśchitta), austerity (tapas) and good deeds (sukṛityā). Puṇya is earned through virtuous living, following the multi-faceted laws of dharma. Puṇya depends on purity of acts according to various factors including 1) the karma and evolution of the individual, 2) degree of sacrifice and unselfish motivation and 3) time and place. For example, virtuous deeds, sādhana, tapas and penance have greater merit when performed in holy places and at auspicious times. The Tirukural (105) states that “Help rendered another cannot be measured by the extent of the assistance given. Its true measure is the worth of the recipient.” In other words, a small act done for a great and worthy soul carries more puṇya than even a large act performed for a lesser person. (Opposite of pāpa.) See: aura, karma, pāpa, penance.
Purāṇa: पुराण “Ancient lore.” Hindu folk narratives containing ethical and cosmological teachings relative to Gods, man and the world. They revolve around five subjects: primary creation, secondary creation, genealogy, cycles of time and history. There are 18 major Purāṇas which are designated as either Śaivite, Vaishṇavite or Śākta. See: folk narratives, mythology.
Pure Consciousness: See: Parāśakti, Satchidānanda, tattva.
purgatory: A state or place of temporary punishment or expiation. A hellish condition that is not eternal. Purgatory is actually more fitting than the term hell as an equivalent for the Sanskrit Naraka. See: hell, loka, Naraka.
puritan: A person who is overly strict or rigid regarding morals and religion.
purity-impurity: Śaucha-aśaucha. Purity and its opposite, pollution, are a fundamental part of Hindu culture. While they refer to physical cleanliness, their more important meanings extend to social, ceremonial, mental, emotional, psychic and spiritual cleanliness or contamination. Freedom from all forms of contamination is a key to Hindu spirituality, and is one of the yamas. Physical purity requires a clean and well-ordered environment, yogic purging of the internal organs and frequent cleansing with water. Mental purity derives from meditation, right living and right thinking. Emotional purity depends on control of the mind, clearing the subconscious and keeping good company. Spiritual purity is achieved through following the yamas and niyamas, study of the Vedas and other scriptures, pilgrimage, meditation, jāpa, tapas and ahiṁsā. Ritual purity requires the observance of certain prāyaśchittas, or penances, for defilement derived from foreign travel, contact with base people or places, conversion to other faiths, contact with bodily wastes, attending a funeral, etc. Purity is of three forms—purity in mind, speech and body, or thought, word and deed. Purity is the pristine and natural state of the soul. Impurity, or pollution, is the obscuring of this state by adulterating experience and beclouding conceptions. In daily life, the Hindu strives to protect this innate purity by wise living, following the codes of dharma. This includes harnessing the sexual energies, associating with other virtuous Hindu devotees, never using harsh, angered or indecent language, and keeping a clean and healthy physical body. See: dharma, pāpa, penance, puṇya, yama-niyama.
pūrṇimā: पूर्णिमा “Fullness.” Full moon. See: Guru Pūrṇimā.
purohita: पुरोहित “Front-most; leader; family priest.”A Smārta brāhmin priest who specializes in home ceremonies. See: pujārī, Smārta.
pursue (pursuit): To go with determination after a goal. To follow.
purusha: पुरुष “The spirit that dwells in the body/in the universe.” Person; spirit; man. Metaphysically, the soul, neither male nor female. Also used in Yoga and Sāṅkhya for the transcendent Self. A synonym for ātman. Purusha can also refer to the Supreme Being or Soul, as it sometimes does in the Upanishads. In the Ṛig Veda hymn “Purusha Sūkta,” Purusha is the cosmic man, having a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet and encompassing the Earth, spreading in all directions into animate and inanimate things. In the Sāṅkhya system, Purusha is one of two supreme, beginningless realities: spirit and matter, Purusha and Prakṛiti, the male and female principles. It is the quiescent unmanifest, pure consciousness, contrasted with Prakṛiti, the manifesting, primal nature from which the cosmos unfolds. In Śaiva cosmology, purusha is the 25th of 36 tattvas, one level subtler than prakṛiti. Beyond these lie the subtle realms of śuddha māyā. Transcending all the tattvas is Paraśiva. See: ātman, jīva, prakṛiti, soul, tattva.
purusha dharma: पुरुषधर्म “A man’s code of duty and conduct.” See: dharma.
purushārtha: पुरुषार्थ “Human wealth or purpose.” The four pursuits in which people may legitimately engage, also called chaturvarga, “fourfold good”—a basic principle of Hindu ethics. —dharma: “Righteous living.” The fulfillment of virtue, good works, duties and responsibilities, restraints and observances—performing one’s part in the service and upliftment of society. This includes pursuit of truth under a guru of a particular paramparā and sampradāya. Dharma is of four primary forms. It is the steady guide for artha and kāma. See: dharma. —artha: “Wealth.” Material welfare and abundance, money, property, possessions. Artha is the pursuit of wealth, guided by dharma. It includes the basic needs—food, money, clothing and shelter—and extends to the wealth required to maintain a comfortable home, raise a family, fulfill a successful career and perform religious duties. The broadest concept of wealth embraces financial independence, freedom from debt, worthy children, good friends, leisure time, faithful servants, trustworthy employees, and the joys of giving, including tithing (daśamāmsha), feeding the poor, supporting religious mendicants, worshiping devoutly, protecting all creatures, upholding the family and offering hospitality to guests. Artha measures not only riches but quality of life, providing the personal and social security needed to pursue kāma, dharma and moksha. It allows for the fulfillment of the householder’s five daily sacrifices, pañcha mahāyajña: to God, ancestors, devas, creatures and men. See: yajña. —kāma: “Pleasure, love; enjoyment.” Earthly love, aesthetic and cultural fulfillment, pleasures of the world (including sexual), the joys of family, intellectual satisfaction. Enjoyment of happiness, security, creativity, usefulness and inspiration. See: Kāma Sūtras. —moksha: “Liberation.” Freedom from rebirth through the ultimate attainment, realization of the Self God, Paraśiva. The spiritual attainments and superconscious joys, attending renunciation and yoga leading to Self Realization. Moksha comes through the fulfillment of dharma, artha and kāma (known in Tamil as aram, porul and inbam, and explained by Tiruvalluvar in Tirukural) in the current or past lives, so that one is no longer attached to worldly joys or sorrows. It is the supreme goal of life, called paramārtha. See: liberation, moksha.
qualified nondualism: Nearly monistic; a translation of Viśishṭādvaita. See: Viśishṭādvaita.
quantum: Quantity or amount. In the quantum theory of modern science: a fixed basic unit, usually of energy. —quantum particles of light: Light understood not as a continuum, but as traveling bundles each of a same intensity. Deeper still, these particles originate and resolve themselves in a one divine energy. —at the quantum level (of the mind): Deep within the mind, at a subtle energy level. See: apex of creation, microcosm-macrocosm, tattva.
quell: To put an end to, subdue or make quiet.
race: Technically speaking, each of the five varieties of man (Caucasoid, Congoid, Mongoloid, Australoid and Capoid) is a Homo sapiens subspecies. A subspecies is a branch showing slight but significant differences from another branch living in a different area. Few traits are unique to any one race. It is the combination of several traits that indicate racial identity. Accurate race determination can be made by blood analysis or by measuring and comparing certain body dimensions. Ninety-eight percent of all Hindus belong to the Caucasoid race. There are also large numbers of Hindu Mongoloids in Nepal and Assam and some Australoids, such as the Gond and Bhil tribes of India. North and South Indians are among Earth’s 2.5 billion Caucasoids, whose traits include straight to wavy hair, thin lips, small to medium teeth, blue to dark brown eyes and a high incident of A2-Rh and Gm blood genes. Skin color, often erroneously attached to the idea of race, is now known to be adaptation to climate: over generations, people in northern climates have developed lighter complexions than their southern brothers.
In a more general sense, the term race can apply to any geographical, national or tribal ethnic group, or to mankind as a whole, as “the human race.”
Radhakrishnan (Rādhākṛishṇan), Dr. S.: राधाकृष्णन् (1888-1975) The President of India from 1962 to 1967, an outstanding scholar, philosopher, prolific writer, compelling speaker and effective spokesman for Hinduism. Along with Vivekananda, Tagore, Aurobindo and others, he helped bring about the current Hindu revival. He made Hinduism better known and appreciated at home and abroad, especially in the intellectual world. He was a foremost proponent of panentheism. See: Vedānta.
rage: Uncontrolled anger. Fuming fit of fury. See: vitala chakra.
Rāhu: राहु “The seizer.” In Hindu astrology, Rāhuis one of the nine important planets (graha), but is an invisible or “astral” one, along with its counterpart, Ketu. Physically speaking, it is one of two points in the heavens where the Moon crosses the ecliptic or path of the Sun. The point where the Moon crosses the ecliptic moving from south to north is Rāhu, the north node. The south node is Ketu. Rāhu and Ketu are depicted as a serpent demon who encircles the Earth. Ketu is the dragon’s tail and Rāhu is the head. Both are believed to cause general consternation among people. See: jyotisha.
rājanya: राजन्य “Rulership.” A synonym for kshatriya. See: varṇa dharma.
rajas: रजस् “Passion; activity.” See: guṇa.
rāja yoga: राजयोग “King of yogas,” also known as ashṭāṅga yoga, “eight-limbed yoga.” The classical yoga system of eight progressive stages to Illumination as described in various yoga Upanishads, the Tirumantiram and, most notably, the Yoga Sūtras of Patanjali. The eight limbs are as follows. 1) —yama: “Restraint.” Virtuous and moral living, which brings purity of mind, freedom from anger, jealousy and subconscious confusion which would inhibit the process of meditation. 2) —niyama: “Observance.” Religious practices which cultivate the qualities of the higher nature, such as devotion, cognition, humility and contentment—giving the refinement of nature and control of mind needed to concentrate and ultimately plunge into samādhi. 3) —āsana: “Seat or posture.” A sound body is needed for success in meditation. This is attained through haṭha yoga, the postures of which balance the energies of mind and body, promoting health and serenity, e.g., padmāsana, the “lotus pose,” for meditation. The Yoga Sūtrasindicate that āsanas make the yogī impervious to the impact of the pairs of opposites (ḍvaṇḍva), heat-cold, etc. 4) —prāṇāyāma: “Mastering life force.” Breath control, which quiets the chitta and balances iḍā and piṅgalā. Science of controlling prāṇa through breathing techniques in which the lengths of inhalation, retention and exhalation are modulated. Prāṇāyāma prepares the mind for deep meditation. 5) —pratyāhāra: “Withdrawal.” The practice of withdrawing consciousness from the physical senses first, such as not hearing noise while meditating, then progressively receding from emotions, intellect and eventually from individual consciousness itself in order to merge into the Universal. 6) —dhāraṇā: “Concentration.” Focusing the mind on a single object or line of thought, not allowing it to wander. The guiding of the flow of consciousness. When concentration is sustained long and deeply enough, meditation naturally follows. 7) —dhyāna: “Meditation.” A quiet, alert, powerfully concentrated state wherein new knowledge and insight pour into the field of consciousness. This state is possible once the subconscious mind has been cleared or quieted. 8) —samādhi: “Enstasy,” which means “standing within one’s self.” “Sameness, contemplation/realization.” The state of true yoga, in which the meditator and the object of meditation are one. See: āsana, samādhi, yoga.
Rāma: राम Venerated hero of the Rāmāyaṇa epic, and one of the two most popular incarnations of Vishṇu, along with Kṛishṇa. His worship is almost universal among Vaishṇavas, and extensive among Smārtas and other liberal Hindus. He was a great worshiper of Śiva, and a Śiva temple, called Rameshvaram, was built in his name at the southern tip of India.
Ramakantha (Rāmakaṇṭha) I: रामकण्ठ A great exponent of Śaiva Siddhānta, ca 950. In the lineage of Aghorasiva.
Ramakantha II: रामकण्ठ Great exponent of Śaiva Siddhānta, ca 1150. Aghorasiva’s teacher.
Ramakrishna (Rāmakṛishṇa): रामकृष्ण (1836‒1886) One of the great saints and mystics of modern Hinduism, and an exemplar of monistic theism—fervent devotee of Mother Kālī and staunch monist who taught oneness and the pursuit of nirvikalpa samādhi, realization of the Absolute. He was guru to the great Swami Vivekananda (1863‒1902), who internationalized Hindu thought and philosophy.
Ramanuja (Rāmānuja): रामानुज Philosopher saint, great bhakta (1017–1137), founder of one of five major Vaishṇava schools, and considered the greatest critic of advaita. In his famous Śrī Bhāshya on the Brahma Sūtras, he countered Sankara’s absolute monism, point-by-point, with his qualified monism, called Viśishṭādvaiṭa Vedānta. See: shaḍ darśana, Vedānta.
Ramaraja (Rāmarāja): रामराज (1478‒1565). The last king of South India’s Vijayanagara Empire.
Rāmāyaṇa: रामायण “Life of Rāma.” One of India’s two grand epics (Itihāsa) along with the Mahābhārata. It is Valmiki’s tragic love story of Rāma and Sītā, whose exemplary lives have helped set high standards of dignity and nobility as an integral part of Hindu dharma. Astronomical data in the story puts Rāma’s reign at about 2015 BCE. See: Rāma.
Ramprasad (Rāmprasād): राम्प्रसाद् Great Bengali devotional saint-poet (1718‒1775) who composed hymns to Śakti.
rasātala: रसातल “Subterranean region.” The fifth chakra below the mūlādhāra, centered in the ankles. Corresponds to the fifth astral netherworld beneath the Earth’s surface, called Ṛijīsha (“expelled”) or Rasātala. Region of selfishness, self-centeredness and possessiveness. Rasā means “earth, soil;” or “moisture.” See: chakra, loka, Naraka.
rationalize: Excuse through reason. Making plausible explanations.
Raurava Āgama: रौरव आगम Among the 28 Śaiva Siddhānta Āgamas, this scripture was conveyed by Lord Śiva to sage Ruru (hence the name). Its extensive kriyā pāda section details the structure of the Śiva temple and its annexes.
Ravana (Rāvaṇa): रावण Villain of the Rāmāyaṇa epic. A legendary demon-king of Sri Lanka, adversary of Rāma, eventually defeated by Rāma and his armies.
reabsorption (reabsorb): Taking in again, as water is squeezed from and then drawn back into a sponge. See: cosmic cycle, mahāpralaya, pralaya.
reaffirmation: A new affirming or a declaration about a thing as true or still pertinent. See: affirmation.
reality: See: Absolute Reality, relative.
realm: A kingdom, region, area or sphere. See: loka.
reap: To cut for harvest. To gain as a result of effort.
rebellious: Resisting authority or any form of control.
recluse: One who retreats from the world and lives in seclusion.
reconcile (reconciliation): To settle or resolve, as a dispute. To make consistent or compatible, e.g., two conflicting ideas.
redeem: To recover, to set free from penalty or deliver from sin. —redemption: Act of redeeming. See: absolution, penance.
reembody: To come into a body again. To reincarnate.
reincarnation: “Re-entering the flesh.” Punarjanma; metempsychosis. The process wherein souls take on a physical body through the birth process. Reincarnation is one of the fundamental principles of Hindu spiritual insight, shared by the mystical schools of nearly all religions, including Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism (and even Christianity until condemned by the Nicene Council of 787). It is against the backdrop of this principle of the soul’s enjoying many lives that other aspects of Hinduism can be understood. It is a repetitive cycle, known as punarjanma, which originates in the subtle plane (Antarloka), the realm in which souls live between births and return to after death. Here they are assisted in readjusting to the “in-between” world and eventually prepared for yet another birth. The quality and nature of the birth depends on the merit or demerit of their past actions (karma) and on the needs of their unique pattern of development and experience (dharma). The mother, the father and the soul together create a new body for the soul. At the moment of conception, the soul connects with and is irrevocably bound to the embryo. As soon as the egg is fertilized, the process of human life begins. It is during the mid-term of pregnancy that the full humanness of the fetus is achieved and the soul fully inhabits the new body, a stage which is acknowledged when the child begins to move and kick within the mother’s womb. (Tirumantiram, 460: “There in the pregnant womb, the soul lay in primordial quiescence [turīya] state. From that state, Māyā [or Prakṛiti] and Her tribe aroused it and conferred consciousness and māyā’s evolutes eight—desires and the rest. Thus say scriptures holy and true.”) Finally, at birth the soul emerges into Earth consciousness, veiled of all memory of past lives and the inner worlds. The cycle of reincarnation ends when karma has been resolved and the Self God (Paraśiva) has been realized. This condition of release is called moksha. Then the soul continues to evolve and mature, but without the need to return to physical existence. How many earthly births must one have to attain the unattainable? Many thousands to be sure, hastened by righteous living, tapas, austerities on all levels, penance and good deeds in abundance. See: evolution of the soul, karma, moksha, nonhuman birth, saṁsāra, soul.
relative: Quality or object which is meaningful only in relation to something else. Not absolute.—relative reality: Māyā. That which is ever changing and changeable. Describes the nature of manifest existence, indicating that it is not an illusion but is also not Absolute Reality, which is eternal and unchanging. See: Absolute Reality, māyā.
religion: From Latin religare, “to bind back.” Any system of belief and worship of superhuman beings or powers and/or of a Supreme Being or Power. Religion is a structured vehicle for soul advancement which often includes theology, scripture, spiritual and moral practices, priesthood and liturgy. See: Hinduism.
relinquish: To give up, let go of or abandon. See: sacrifice, tyāga.
remorse: Deep, painful regret or guilt over a wrong one has done. Moral anguish. See: absolution, hrī, penance.
remote: Distant, secluded; difficult to reach.
renaissance: “Rebirth” or “new birth.” A renewal, revival or reawakening.
render: To cause to be or to become.
Renukacharya (Reṇukāchārya): रेणुकाचार्य A Vīra Śaiva philosopher and saint.
renunciation: See: sannyāsa, tyāga, vairāgya.
replenish: To fill up or cause to be full again.
repose: To rest peacefully. —to repose in one’s realization: To cease outward activity and enjoy communion with the Divine.
repudiation: Public rejection of a condition, habit or way of being.
rescind: To cancel or revoke.
resemble: To look like, or have similar qualities.
resent (resentment): A feeling of ill-will, indignation or hostility from a sense of having been wronged.
residue: Remainder. That which is left over.
resplendence: Radiance; brilliance.
restive: Nervous, eager to go forward; hard to control.
restraints: See: yama-niyama.
retaliation: Paying back an injury, returning like for like, hurt for hurt. Getting even; vengeance.
revealing grace: See: anugraha śakti, grace.
Righama (Ṛighama): ऋघम See: Kailāsa Paramparā.
rigorous: Very strict or severe.
Ṛig Veda: ऋग्चेद “Veda of verse (ṛik).” The first and oldest of the four Veda corpora of revealed scriptures (śruti), including a hymn collection (Saṁhitā), priestly explanatory manuals (Brāhmaṇas), forest treatises (Āraṇyakas) elaborating on the Vedic rites, and philosophical dialogs (Upanishads). Like the other Vedas, the Ṛig Veda was brought to Earth consciousness not all at once, but gradually, over a period of perhaps several thousand years. The oldest and core portion is the Saṁhitā, believed to date back, in its oral form, as far as 8,000 years, and to have been written down in archaic Sanskrit some 3,000 years ago. It consists of more than 10,000 verses, averaging three or four lines (ṛiks), forming 1,028 hymns (sūktas), organized in ten books called maṇḍalas. It embodies prayerful hymns of praise and invocation to the Divinities of nature and to the One Divine. They are the spiritual reflections of a pastoral people with a profound awe for the powers of nature, each of which they revered as sacred and alive. The ṛishis who unfolded these outpourings of adoration perceived a well-ordered cosmos in which dharma is the way of attunement with celestial worlds, from which all righteousness and prosperity descends. The main concern is man’s relationship with God and the world, and the invocation of the subtle worlds into mundane existence. Prayers beseech the Gods for happy family life, wealth, pleasure, cattle, health, protection from enemies, strength in battle, matrimony, progeny, long life and happiness, wisdom and realization and final liberation from rebirth. The Ṛig Veda Saṁhitā, which in length equals Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey combined, is the most important hymn collection, for it lends a large number of its hymns to the other three Veda Saṁhitās (the Sāma, Yajur and Atharva). Chronologically, after the Saṁhitās came the Brāhmaṇas, followed by the Āraṇyakas, and finally the Upanishads, also called the Vedānta, meaning “Veda’s end.” See: śruti, Vedas.
ṛishi: ऋषि “Seer.” A term for an enlightened being, emphasizing psychic perception and visionary wisdom. In the Vedic age, ṛishis lived in forest or mountain retreats, either alone or with disciples. These ṛishis were great souls who were the inspired conveyers of the Vedas. Seven particular ṛishis (the sapta-ṛishis) mentioned in the Ṛig Veda are said to still guide mankind from the inner worlds. See: śṛuti.
Rishi from the Himalayas: First recent known siddha of the Nandinātha Sampradāya. See: Kailāsa Paramparā Nandinātha Sampradāya.
ṛita: ऋत “Sacred order, cosmic law; truth.” See: dharma.
rite (or ritual): A religious ceremony. See: sacrament, sacrifice, saṁskāra.
rites of passage: Sacraments marking crucial stages of life. See: saṁskāra.
ṛitu kāla: ऋतुकाल “Fit or proper season.” Time of menses. Traditional ceremony marking a young woman’s coming of age. Ṛitu kāla thus means “onset of puberty.” See: saṁskāras of adulthood.
Rudra: रुद्र “Controller of terrific powers;” or “red, shining one.” A name of Śiva as the God of dissolution, the universal force of reabsorption. Rudra-Śiva is revered both as the “terrifying one” and the “lord of tears,” for He wields and controls the terrific powers which may cause lamentation among humans. See: Naṭarāja.
rudrāksha: रुद्राक्ष “Eye of Rudra; or red-eyed.” Refers to the third eye, or ājñā chakra. Marble-sized, multi-faced, reddish-brown seeds from the Eleocarpus ganitrus, or blue marble tree, which are sacred to Śiva and a symbol of His compassion for humanity. Garlands, rudrāksha mālā, of larger seeds are worn around the neck by monks, and nonmonastics often wear a single bead on a cord at the throat. Smaller beads (usually numbering 108) are strung together for japa (recitation). See: japa, mantra.
Rudrasambhu (Rudraśambhu): रुद्रशम्भु Principal guru in the Āmardaka order of Śaiva monastics, about 775 in Ujjain, one of Śaivism’s holiest cities. The sect served as advisors to the king prior to the Muslim domination around 1300.
Rudrāyamala Tantra: रुद्रायमलतन्त्र A little-known text dealing with worship.
śabda kośa: शब्दकोश “Sheath of sounds, or words.” Vocabulary; a dictionary or glossary of terms.
sacrament: 1) Holy rite, especially one solemnized in a formal, consecrated manner which is a bonding between the recipient and God, Gods or guru. This includes rites of passage (saṁskāra), ceremonies sanctifying crucial events or stages of life. 2) Prasāda. Sacred substances, grace-filled gifts, blessed in sacred ceremony or by a holy person. See: prasāda, saṁskāra.
sacred thread: Yajñopavīta. See: upanayana.
sacrifice: Yajña. 1) Presenting offerings to a Deity as an expression of homage and devotion. 2) Giving up something, often one’s own possession, advantage or preference, to serve a higher purpose. The literal meaning of sacrifice is “to make sacred,” implying an act of worship. It is the most common translation of the term yajña, from the verb yuj, “to worship.” In Hinduism, all of life is a sacrifice—called jīvayajña, a giving of oneself—through which comes true spiritual fulfillment. Tyāga, the power of detachment, is an essential quality of true sacrifice. See: tyāga, yajña.
sadāchāra: सदाचार “Proper conduct; virtue, morality.” It is embodied in the principles of dharma. See: dharma, pāda, yama-niyama.
Sadāśiva: सदाशिव “Ever-auspicious.” A name of the Primal Soul, Śiva, a synonym for Parameśvara, which is expressed in the physical being of the satguru. Sadāśiva especially denotes the power of revealing grace, anugraha śakti, the third tattva, after which emerge Śiva’s other four divine powers. This fivefold manifestation or expression of God’s activity in the cosmos is depicted in Hindu mantras, literature and art as the five-faced Sadāśivamūrti. Looking upward is Īśāna, “ruler” (the power of revealment). Facing east is Tatpurusha, “supreme soul” (the power of obscuration). Westward-looking is Sadyojāta, “quickly birthing” (the power of creation). Northward is Vāmadeva, “lovely, pleasing” (the power of preservation). Southward is Aghora, “nonterrifying” (the power of reabsorption). The first four faces revealed the Vedas. The fifth face, Īśana, revealed the Āgamas. These five are also called Sadāśiva, the revealer; Maheśvara, the obscurer;Brahmā, the creator; Vishṇu, the preserver; and Rudra, the destroyer. See: grace, Parameśvara, Sadāśiva, Śiva, tattva.
sādhaka: साधक “Accomplished one; a devotee who performs sādhana.” A serious aspirant who has undertaken spiritual disciplines, is usually celibate and under the guidance of a guru. He wears white and may be under vows, but is not a sannyāsin. See: sādhana.
sādhana: साधन “Effective means of attainment.” Religious or spiritual disciplines, such as pūjā, yoga, meditation, japa, fasting and austerity. The effect of sādhana is the building of willpower, faith and confidence in oneself and in God, Gods and guru. Sādhana harnesses and transmutes the instinctive-intellectual nature, allowing progressive spiritual unfoldment into the superconscious realizations and innate abilities of the soul. See: pāda, purity-impurity, rāja yoga, sādhana mārga, spiritual unfoldment.
sādhana mārga: साधनमार्ग “The way of sādhana.” A term used by Sage Yogaswami to name his prescription for seekers of Truth—a path of intense effort, spiritual discipline and consistent inner transformation, as opposed to theoretical and intellectual learning. See: mysticism, pāda, sādhana, spiritual unfoldment.
sādhu: साधु “Virtuous one; straight, unerring.” A holy man dedicated to the search for God. A sādhu may or may not be a yogī or a sannyāsin, or be connected in any way with a guru or legitimate lineage. Sādhus usually have no fixed abode and travel unattached from place to place, often living on alms. There are countless sādhus on the roads, byways, mountains, riverbanks, and in the āśramas and caves of India. They have, by their very existence, a profound, stabilizing effect on the consciousness of India and the world. See: vairāgī.
sādhvī: साध्वी Feminine of sādhu. See: sādhu.
Saguṇa Brahman: सगुणब्रह्मन् “God with qualities.” The Personal Lord. See: Brahman, Parameśvara.
sahasra lekhana sādhana: सहस्रलेखनसाधन “Thousand-times writing discipline.” The spiritual practice of writing a sacred mantra 1,008 times.
sahasrāra chakra: सहस्रारचक्र The cranial psychic force center. “Thousand-spoked wheel.” See: chakra.
Śaiva: शैव Of or relating to Śaivism or its adherents, of whom there are about 400 million in the world today. Same as Śaivite. See: Śaivism.
Śaiva Āgamas: शैव आगम The sectarian revealed scriptures of the Śaivas. Strongly theistic, they identify Śiva as the Supreme Lord, immanent and transcendent. They are in two main divisions: the 64 Kashmīr Śaiva Āgamas and the 28 Śaiva Siddhānta Āgamas. The latter group are the fundamental sectarian scriptures of Śaiva Siddhānta. Of these, ten are of the Śivabheda division and are considered dualistic: 1) Kāmika, 2) Yogaja, 3) Chintya, 4) Kāraṇa, 5) Ajita, 6) Dīpta, 7) Sūkshma, 8) Sāhasraka, 9) Amśumat and 10) Suprabheda. There are 18 in the Rudrabheda group, classed as dual-nondual: 11) Vijaya, 12) Niḥśvāsa, 13) Svāyambhuva, 14) Aṇala, 15) Vīra (Bhadra), 16) Raurava, 17) Makuṭa, 18) Vimala, 19) Chandrajñāna (or Chandrahāsa), 20) Mukhabimba (or Bimba), 21) Prodgītā (or Udgītā), 22) Lalita, 23) Siddha, 24) Santāna, 25) Sarvokta (Narasiṁha), 26) Parameśvara, 27) Kiraṇa and 28) Vātula (or Parahita). Rishi Tirumular, in his Tirumantiram, refers to 28 Āgamas and mentions nine by name. Eight of these—Kāraṇa, Kāmika, Vīra, Chintya, Vātula, Vimala, Suprabheda and Makuṭa—are in the above list of 28 furnished by the French Institute of Indology, Pondicherry. The ninth, Kalottāra, is presently regarded as an Upāgama, or secondary text, of Vātula. The Kāmika is the Āgama most widely followed in Tamil Śaiva temples, because of the availability of Aghorasiva’s manual-commentary (paddhati) on it. Vīra Śaivites especially refer to the Vātula and Vīra Āgamas. The Śaiva Āgama scriptures, above all else, are the connecting strand through all the schools of Śaivism. The Āgamas themselves express that they are entirely consistent with the teachings of the Veda, that they contain the essence of the Veda, and must be studied with the same high degree of devotion. See: Āgamas, Vedas.
Śaiva Neri: சைவநெறி “Śaiva path.” Tamil term for Śaivism. See: Śaivism.
Śaiva Samayam: சைவ சமயம் “Śaiva religion.” See: Śaivism.
Śaiva Siddhānta: शैवसिद्धान्त “Final conclusions of Śaivism.” The most widespread and influential Śaivite school today, predominant especially among the Tamil people of Sri Lanka and South India. It is the formalized theology of the divine revelations contained in the twenty-eight Śaiva Āgamas. The first known guru of the Śuddha (“pure”) Śaiva Siddhānta tradition was Maharishi Nandinatha of Kashmir (ca BCE 250), recorded in Panini’s book of grammar as the teacher of ṛishis Patanjali, Vyaghrapada and Vasishtha. Other sacred scriptures include the Tirumantiram and the voluminous collection of devotional hymns, the Tirumurai, and the masterpiece on ethics and statecraft, the Tirukural. For Śaiva Siddhāntins, Śiva is the totality of all, understood in three perfections: Parameśvara (the Personal Creator Lord), Parāśakti (the substratum of form) and Paraśiva (Absolute Reality which transcends all). Souls and world are identical in essence with Śiva, yet also differ in that they are evolving. A pluralistic stream arose in the middle ages from the teachings of Aghorasiva and Meykandar. For Aghorasiva’s school (ca 1150) Śiva is not the material cause of the universe, and the soul attains perfect “sameness” with Śiva upon liberation. Meykandar’s (ca 1250) pluralistic school denies that souls ever attain perfect sameness or unity with Śiva. See: Śaivism.
Śaiva Viśishṭādvaita: शैवविशिष्टाद्वैत The philosophy of Śiva Advaita. See: Śiva Advaita.
Śaivism (Śaiva): शैव The religion followed by those who worship Śiva as supreme God. Oldest of the four sects of Hinduism. The earliest historical evidence of Śaivism is from the 8,000-year-old Indus Valley civilization in the form of the famous seal of Śiva as Lord Paśupati, seated in a yogic pose. In the Rāmāyaṇa, dated astronomically at 2000 BCE, Lord Rāma worshiped Śiva, as did his rival Ravana. Buddha in 624 BCE was born into a Śaivite family, and records of his time speak of the Śaiva ascetics who wandered the hills looking much as they do today. There are many schools of Śaivism, six of which are Śaiva Śiddhānta, Pāśupata Śaivism, Kashmīr Śaivism, Vīra Śaivism, Siddha Siddhānta and Śiva Advaita. They are based firmly on the Vedas and Śaiva Āgamas, and thus have much in common, including the following principle doctrines: 1) the five powers of Śiva—creation, preservation, destruction, revealing and concealing grace; 2) The three categories: Pati, paśu and pāśa (“God, souls and bonds”); 3) the three bonds: āṇava, karma and māyā; 4) the threefold power of Śiva: icçhā śakti, kriyā śakti and jñāna śakti; 5) the thirty-six tattvas, or categories of existence; 6) the need for initiation from a satguru; 7) the power of mantra; 8) the four pādas (stages): charyā (selfless service), kriyā (devotion), yoga (meditation), and jñāna (illumination); 9) the belief in the Pañchākshara as the foremost mantra, and in rudrāksha and vibhūti as sacred aids to faith; 10) the beliefs in satguru (preceptor), Śivaliṅga (object of worship) and saṅgama (company of holy persons). See: individual school entries, Śaivism (six schools).
Śaivism (six schools): Through history Śaivism has developed a vast array of lineages. Philosophically, six schools are most notable: Śaiva Siddhānta, Pāśupata Śaivism, Kashmīr Śaivism, Vīra Śaivism, Siddha Siddhānta and Śiva Advaita. Śaiva Siddhānta first distinguished itself in the second century BCE through the masterful treatise of a Himalayan pilgrim to South India, Rishi Tirumular. It is Śaivism’s most widespread and influential school. Pāśupata Śaivism emerged in the Himalayan hills over 25 centuries ago. Ancient writings chronicle it as a Śaiva ascetic yoga path whose most renowned guru was Lakulisa. Kashmīr Śaivism, a strongly monistic lineage, arose from the revelatory aphorisms of Sri Vasugupta in the tenth century. Vīra Śaivism took shape in India’s Karnataka state in the 12th-century under the inspiration of Sri Basavanna. It is a dynamic, reformist sect, rejecting religious complexity and stressing each devotee’s personal relationship with God. Siddha Siddhānta, also known as Gorakshanātha Śaivism, takes its name from the writings of the powerful 10th-century yogī, Sri Gorakshanatha, whose techniques for Śiva identity attracted a large monastic and householder following in North India and Nepal. Śiva Advaita is a Śaivite interpretation of the Vedānta Sūtras, based on the writings of Srikantha, a 12th-century scholar who sought to reconcile the Upanishads with the Āgamas. See: individual school entries.
Śaivite (Śaiva): शैव Of or relating to Śaivism or its adherents, of whom there are about 400 million in the world today. See: Hinduism, Śaivism.
śākāhāra: शाकाहार “Vegetarian diet.” From śāka, “vegetable;” and āhāra, “eating; taking food.” See: meat-eater, vegetarian, yama-niyama.
sakala avasthā: सकल अवस्था “Stage of embodied being.” (Tamil: avasthai.) In Śaiva Siddhānta, the second of three stages of the soul’s evolution, when it is engaged in the world through the senses as it first develops a mental, then emotional and astral body, and ﬁnally a physical body, entering the cycles of birth, death and rebirth under the veiling powers of karma and māyā. Progress through sakala avasthā is measured in three stages: 1) irul, “darkness;” when the impetus is toward pāśa, knowledge and experience of the world (pāśa-jñāna); 2) marul, “confusion;” caught between the world and God, the soul begins to turn within for knowledge of its own nature (paśu-jñāna); and 3) arul, “grace,” when the soul seeks to know God (Pati-jñāna); and receive His grace. See: avasthā, evolution of the soul, kevala avasthā, śuddha avasthā.
sakhā mārga: सखामार्ग “Friend’s path.” See: attainment, pāda.
sākshin: साक्षिन् “Eye witness.” Awareness, the witness consciousness of the soul. Known as nef in the mystical Nātha language of Shūm. See: awareness, chit, consciousness (individual), Shūm, soul.
Śākta: शाक्त Of or relating to Śāktism. See: Hinduism, Śāktism, tantrism.
Śākta Tantrism: शाक्ततन्त्र See: Śāktism, tantrism.
Śakti: शक्ति “Power, energy.” The active power or manifest energy of Śiva that pervades all of existence. Its most refined aspect is Parāśakti, or Satchidānanda, the pure consciousness and primal substratum of all form. This pristine, divine energy unfolds as icçhā śakti (the power of desire, will, love), kriyā śakti (the power of action) and jñāna śakti (the power of wisdom, knowing), represented as the three prongs of Śiva’s triśūla, or trident. From these arise the five powers of revealment, concealment, dissolution, preservation and creation.
In Śaiva Siddhānta, Śiva is All, and His divine energy, Śakti, is inseparable from Him. This unity is symbolized in the image of Ardhanārīśvara, “half-female God.” In popular, village Hinduism, the unity of Śiva and Śakti is replaced with the concept of Śiva and Śakti as separate entities. Śakti is represented as female, and Śiva as male. In Hindu temples, art and mythology, they are everywhere seen as the divine couple. This depiction has its source in the folk-narrative sections of the Purāṇas, where it is given elaborate expression. Śakti is personified in many forms as the consorts of the Gods. For example, the Goddesses Pārvatī, Lakshmī and Sarasvatī are the respective mythological consorts of Śiva, Vishṇu and Brahmā. Philosophically, however, the caution is always made that God and God’s energy are One, and the metaphor of the inseparable divine couple serves only to illustrate this Oneness.
Within the Śākta religion, the worship of the Goddess is paramount, in Her many fierce and benign forms. Śakti is the Divine Mother of manifest creation, visualized as a female form, and Śiva is specifically the Unmanifest Absolute. The fierce or black (asita) forms of the Goddess include Kālī, Durgā, Chaṇḍī, Chamuṇḍī, Bhadrakālī and Bhairavī. The benign or white (sita) forms include Umā, Gaurī, Ambikā, Pārvatī, Maheśvarī, Lalitā and Annapūrṇā. As Rājarājeśvarī (divine “Queen of kings”) She is the presiding Deity of the Śrī Chakra yantra. She is also worshiped as the ten Mahāvidyās, manifestations of the highest knowledge—Kālī, Tārā, Shoḍaśi, Bhuvaneśvarī, Chinnamastā, Bhairavī, Dhūmāvatī, Bagatā, Mātaṅgi and Kamalā. While some Śāktas view these as individual beings, most revere them as manifestations of the singular Devī. There are also numerous minor Goddess forms, in the category of Grāmadevatā (“village Deity”). These include Piṭāri, “Snake-catcher” (usually represented by a simple stone), and Mariyamman, “Smallpox Goddess.”
In the yoga mysticism of all traditions, divine energy, śakti, is experienced within the human body in three aspects: 1) the feminine force, iḍā śakti, 2) the masculine force, piṅgalā śakti, and 3) the pure androgynous force, kuṇḍalinī śakti, that flows through the sushumṇā nāḍī.
Śakti is most easily experienced by devotees as the sublime, bliss-inspiring energy that emanates from a holy person or sanctified Hindu temple. See: Amman, Ardhanārīśvara, Goddess, Parāśakti, Śāktism.
śaktinipāta: शक्तिनिपात “Descent of grace,” occurring during the advanced stage of the soul’s evolution called arul, at the end of the sakala avasthā. Śaktinipāta is twofold: the internal descent is recognized as a tremendous yearning for Śiva; the outer descent of grace is the appearance of a satguru. At this stage, the devotee increasingly wants to devote himself to all that is spiritual and holy. Same as śaktipāta. See: arul, grace, sakala avasthā, śaktipāta.
śaktipāta: शक्तिपात “Descent of grace.” Guru dīkshā, initiation from the preceptor; particularly the first initiation, which awakens the kuṇḍalinī and launches the process of spiritual unfoldment. See: anugraha śakti, dīkshā, grace, kuṇḍalinī.
Śāktism (Śākta): शाक्त “Doctrine of power.” The religion followed by those who worship the Supreme as the Divine Mother—Śakti or Devī—in Her many forms, both gentle and fierce. Śāktism is one of the four primary sects of Hinduism. Śāktism’s first historical signs are thousands of female statuettes dated ca 5500 BCE recovered at the Mehrgarh village in India. In philosophy and practice, Śāktism greatly resembles Śaivism, both faiths promulgating, for example, the same ultimate goals of advaitic union with Śiva and moksha. But Śāktas worship Śakti as the Supreme Being exclusively, as the dynamic aspect of Divinity, while Śiva is considered solely transcendent and is not worshiped. There are many forms of Śāktism, with endless varieties of practices which seek to capture divine energy or power for spiritual transformation. Geographically, Śāktism has two main forms, the Śrīkula “family of the Goddess Śrī (or Lakshmī),” which respects the brāhminical tradition (a mainstream Hindu tradition which respects caste and purity rules) and is strongest in South India; and the Kālīkula, “family of Kālī,” which rejects brāhminical tradition and prevails in Northern and Eastern India. Four major expressions of Śāktism are evident today: folk-shamanism, yoga, devotionalism and universalism. Among the eminent mantras of Śāktism is: Aum Hṛim Chaṇḍikāyai Namaḥ, “I bow to Her who tears apart all dualities.” There are many varieties of folk Śāktism gravitating around various forms of the Goddess, such as Kālī, Durgā and a number of forms of Amman. Such worship often involves animal sacrifice and fire-walking, though the former is tending to disappear. See: Amman, Goddess, Ishṭa Devatā, Kālī, Śakti, tantrism.
Śakti Viśishṭādvaita: शक्तिविशिष्टाद्वैत The philosophy of Vīra Śaivism. See: Vīra Śaivism.
śāktopāya: शाक्तोपाय “Way of power.” See: upāya.
Śākya: शाक्य Name of the Śaivite noble clan into which Buddha, also called Śākyamuni, was born (in what is now Nepal). See: Buddha.
samādhi: समाधि “Enstasy,” which means “standing within one’s Self.” “Sameness; contemplation; union, wholeness; completion, accomplishment.” Samādhi is the state of true yoga, in which the meditator and the object of meditation are one. Samādhi is of two levels. The first is savikalpa samādhi (“enstasy with form” or “seed”), identification or oneness with the essence of an object. Its highest form is the realization of the primal substratum or pure consciousness, Satchidānanda. The second is nirvikalpa samādhi (“enstasy without form” or “seed”), identification with the Self, in which all modes of consciousness are transcended and Absolute Reality, Paraśiva, beyond time, form and space, is experienced. This brings in its aftermath a complete transformation of consciousness. In Classical Yoga, nirvikalpa samādhi is known as asamprajñāta samādhi, “supraconscious enstasy”—samādhi, or beingness, without thought or cognition, prajñā. Savikalpa samādhi is also called samprajñāta samādhi, “conscious enstasy.” (Note that samādhi differs from samyama—the continuous meditation on a subject or mystic key [such as a chakra] to gain revelation on that subject or area of consciousness. As explained by Patanjali, samyama consists of dhāranā, dhyāna and samādhi.) See: enstasy, kuṇḍalinī, Paraśiva, rāja yoga, samarasa, Satchidānanda, Self Realization, trance.
samarasa: समरस “Even essence” or “same taste.” In Siddha Siddhānta, a term describing the state attained by a yogī in which he consciously experiences the world and daily life while never losing his perspective of the essential unity of God, soul and world. Similar in concept to sāyujya samādhi. See: jñāna, kaivalya, samādhi, Siddha Siddhānta, Śivasāyujya.
samāvartana: समावर्तन “Returning home.” The ceremony marking a youth’s completion of Vedic studies. See: saṁskāras.
Sāma Veda: सामवेद “Song of wisdom.” Third of the four Vedas. Ninety percent of its 1,875 stanzas are derived from the Ṛig Veda. It is a collection of hymns specially arranged and notated for chanting with a distinctive melody and cadence by the Udgātā priests during yajña, fire ceremony, together with stanzas from the Yajur Veda. This Veda represents the oldest known form of Indian music. See: Śruti, Vedas.
Samayacharya: சமயாச்சாரியார் “Religious teacher.” See: Alvar, Nalvar.
Sambandar: சம்பந்தர் Child saint of the 7th-century Śaivite renaissance. Composed many Devaram hymns in praise of Śiva, reconverted at least one Tamil king who had embraced Jainism, and vehemently sought to counter the incursion of Buddhism, bringing the Tamil people back to Śaivism. See: Nalvar, Nayanar, Tirumurai.
Śāmbhavopāya: शाम्भवोपाय “Way of Śambhu” (Śiva). See: upāya.
saṁhāra: संहार “Dissolution; destruction.” See: mahāpralaya, Naṭarāja.
saṁhitā: संहिता “Collection.”1) Any methodically arranged collection of texts or verses. 2) The hymn collection of each of the four Vedas. 3) A common alternate term for Vaishṇava Āgamas. See: Vedas.
sampradāya: संप्रदाय “Tradition,” “transmission;” a philosophical or religious doctrine or lineage. A living stream of tradition or theology within Hinduism, passed on by oral training and initiation. The term derives from the verb sampradā, meaning “to give out,” “render,” grant, bestow or confer; to hand down by tradition; to bequeath. Sampradāya is thus a philosophy borne down through history by verbal transmission. It is more inclusive than the related term paramparā which names a living lineage of ordained gurus who embody and carry forth a sampradāya. Each sampradāya is often represented by many paramparās. See: paramparā.
saṁsāra: संसार “Flow.” The phenomenal world. Transmigratory existence, fraught with impermanence and change. The cycle of birth, death and rebirth; the total pattern of successive earthly lives experienced by a soul. A term similar to punarjanma (reincarnation), but with broader connotations. See: evolution of the soul, karma, punarjanma, reincarnation.
saṁsārī: संसारी “One in saṁsāra;” “wanderer.” A soul during transmigration, immersed in or attached to mundane existence, hence not striving for liberation (moksha). A saṁsārī is someone who is not “on the path.” See: materialism, saṁsāra, San Mārga, worldly.
saṁskāra: संस्कार “Impression, activator; sanctification, preparation.” 1) The imprints left on the subconscious mind by experience (from this or previous lives), which then color all of life, one’s nature, responses, states of mind, etc. 2) A sacrament or rite done to mark a significant transition of life. These make deep and positive impressions on the mind of the recipient, inform the family and community of changes in the lives of its members and secure inner-world blessings. The numerous saṁskāras are outlined in the Gṛihya Śāstras. Most are accompanied by specific mantras from the Vedas. See: mind (five states), sacrament.
saṁskāras of birth: From the rite of conception to the blessings of the new-born child. —garbhādhāna: “Womb-placing.” Rite anticipating conception, where physical union is consecrated with the intent of bringing into physical birth an advanced soul. —punsavana: “Male rite; bringing forth a male.” A rite performed during the third month of pregnancy consisting of prayers for a son and for the well-being of mother and child. A custom, found in all societies, based on the need for men to defend the country, run the family business and support the parents in old age. The need for male children in such societies is also based on the fact that women outlive men and leave the family to join their husband’s family. —sīmantonnayana: “Hair-parting.” A ceremony held between the fourth and seventh months in which the husband combs his wife’s hair and expresses his love and support. —jātakarma: “Rite of birth.” The father welcomes and blesses the newborn child and feeds it a taste of ghee and honey. See: saṁskāra.
saṁskāras of childhood: From naming to education. —nāmakaraṇa: “Name-giving” and formal entry into one or another sect of Hinduism, performed 11 to 41 days after birth. The name is chosen according to astrology, preferably the name of a God or Goddess. At this time, guardian devas are assigned to see the child through life. One who converts to or adopts Hinduism later in life would receive this same sacrament. —annaprāśana: “Feeding.” The ceremony marking the first taking of solid food, held at about six months. (Breast-feeding generally continues). —karṇavedha: “Ear-piercing.” The piercing of both ears, for boys and girls, and the inserting of gold earrings, held during the first, third or fifth year. See: earrings. —chūḍākaraṇa: “Head-shaving.” The shaving of the head, for boys and girls, between the 31st day and the fourth year. —vidyārambha: Marks the beginning of formal education. The boy or girl ceremoniously writes his/her first letter of the alphabet in a tray of uncooked rice. —upanayana: Given to boys at about 12 years of age, marks the beginning of the period of brahmacharya and formal study of scripture and sacred lore, usually with an āchārya or guru. —samāvartana: Marks the end of formal religious study. See: saṁskāra.
saṁskāras of adulthood: From coming-of-age to marriage. —ṛitu kāla: “Fit (or proper) season.” Time of menses. A home blessing marking the coming of age for girls. —keśānta: Marking a boy’s first beard-shaving, at about 16 years. Both of the above are home ceremonies in which the young ones are reminded of their brahmacharya, given new clothes and jewelry and joyously admitted into the adult community as young adults. —niśchitārtha “Declaration of intention. Also called vāgdāna, “word-giving.” A formal engagement or betrothal ceremony in which a couple pledge themselves to one another, exchanging rings and other gifts. —vivāha: Marriage.” An elaborate and joyous ceremony performed in presence of God and Gods, in which the homa fire is central. To conclude the ceremony, the couple take seven steps to the Northeast as the groom recites: “One step for vigor, two steps for vitality, three steps for prosperity, four steps for happiness, five steps for cattle, six steps for seasons, seven steps for friendship. To me be devoted (Hiranyakeśi Gṛihya Sūtras 220.127.116.11 VE).” See: saṁskāra.
saṁskāras of later life: —vānaprastha āśrama: Age 48 marks the entrance into the elder advisor stage, celebrated in some communities by special ceremony. —sannyāsa āśrama vrata: The advent of withdrawal from social duties and responsibilities at age 72 is sometimes ritually acknowledged (different from sannyāsa dīkshā). See: sannyāsa dharma. —antyeshṭi: The various funeral rites performed to guide the soul in its transition to inner worlds, including preparation of the body, cremation, bone-gathering, dispersal of ashes, and home purification. See: bone-gathering, cremation, death, piṇḍa, saṁskāra, shashṭyabda pūrti, śrāddha, transition.
Sanātana Dharma: सनातनधर्म “Eternal religion” or “Everlasting path.” It is a traditional designation for the Hindu religion. See: Hinduism.
Sanatkumāra: सनत्कुमार “Ever-youthful;” perpetual virgin boy. A name of God Murugan. Also one of the eight disciples of Maharishi Nandinatha. See: Kailāsa Paramparā, Kārttikeya.
sañchita karma: सञ्चितकर्म “Accumulated action.” The accumulated consequence of an individual’s actions in this and past lives. See: karma.
sanctify: To make holy.
sanctum sanctorum: “Holy of holies.” Garbhagṛiha. The most sacred part of a temple, usually a cave-like stone chamber, in which the main icon is installed. See: darśana, garbhagṛiha, temple.
sandalwood: Chandana. The Asian evergreen tree Santalum album. Its sweetly fragrant heartwood is ground into the fine, tan-colored paste distributed as prasāda in Śaivite temples and used for sacred marks on the forehead, tilaka. Sandalwood is also prized for incense, carving and fine cabinetry.
sandhyā upāsanā: सन्ध्या उपासना “Worship at time’s junctures.” Drawing near to God at the changes of time—worship and sādhana performed in the home at dawn, noon and dusk. See: sādhana.
Śāṇḍilya Upanishad: शाण्डिल्य उपनिषद् Belongs to the Atharva Veda. Discusses eight forms of yoga, restraints, observances, breath control, meditation and the nature of Truth.
saṅgama: सङ्गम “Association; fellowship.” (Tamil: saṅgam) Coming together in a group, especially for religious purposes. Also a town in Karnataka, South India, where the Kṛishṇa and Malaprabhā rivers meet; an ancient center of Kālāmukha Śaivism where the Vīra Śaivite preceptor Basavanna lived and studied as a youth. See: congregational worship.
saṅkalpa: संकल्प “Will; purpose; determination.” A solemn vow or declaration of purpose to perform any ritual observance. Most commonly, saṅkalpa names the mental and verbal preparation made by a temple priest as he begins rites of worship. During the saṅkalpa, he proclaims to the three worlds what he is about to do. He intones the name of the Deity, the type of ritual he is about to perform and the present time and place according to precise astrological notations. Once the saṅkalpa is made, he is bound to complete the ceremony. See: pūjā.
Sankara (Śaṅkara): शंकर “Conferring happiness;” “propitious.” A name of Śiva. Also one of Hinduism’s most extraordinary monks, Adi Sankara (788‒820), preeminent guru of the Smārta Sampradāya, noted for his monistic philosophy (Advaita Vedānta), his many scriptural commentaries, and his formalizing of ten orders of sannyāsins with pontifical headquarters at strategic points across India. He lived only 32 years, but traveled throughout India and transformed the Hindu world of that time. See: Daśanāmī, Śaṅkarāchārya pīṭha, shaṇmata sthāpanāchārya, Smārta Sampradāya, Vedānta.
Śaṅkarāchārya pīṭha: शंकराचार्यपीठ Advaita monasteries established by Sankara (ca 788‒820) as centers of Smārta authority in India, each with a distinct guru paramparā and a reigning pontiff entitled Śaṅkarāchārya, and one of the four Upanishadic mahāvākyas as a mantra. East coast: Govardhana Maṭha, in Puri (center of the Āraṇya and Vāna orders). Himalayas: Jyotiḥ Maṭha, near Badrinath (Giri, Pārvata and Sāgara orders). West coast: Śārada Maṭha, in Dvāraka (Tīrtha and Āśrama orders). South: Śṛingeri Maṭha (Bhārati, Pūrī and Sarasvatī orders). A fifth prominent pīṭha, associated with Sṛingeri Maṭha, is in Kanchipuram, also in the South. See: Daśanāmī, Smārta, Sankara.
Sāṅkhya: सांख्य “Enumeration, reckoning.” See: prakṛiti, purusha, shaḍ darśana, tattva.
San Mārga: सन्मार्ग “True path.” The straight, spiritual path leading to the ultimate goal, Self Realization, without detouring into unnecessary psychic exploration or pointless development of siddhis. A San Mārgī is a person “on the path,” as opposed to a saṁsārī, one engrossed in worldliness. San Mārga also names the jñāna pāda. See: pāda, sādhana mārga, saṁsārī.
San Marga Sanctuary: A meditation tīrtha at the foot of the extinct volcano, Mount Waialeale, on Hawaii’s Garden Island, Kauai. Here pilgrims follow the ½-mile path, San Mārga, to a natural Śivaliṅga, walk the path of the Tamil Nayanars around picturesque lotus lakes and ponds and visit the six shrines of the Kailāsa Paramparā on the banks of Śaravaṇabhāva Lake in Ṛishi Valley. Paths lead visitors to the sacred Wailua River, then up stone stairs to the Chola-style white-granite Iraivan Temple, hand-carved in Bangalore, India. In the sanctum sanctorum, the Supreme God, Śiva (Parameśvara-Parāśakti-Paraśiva), will be enshrined as a massive 700-pound, single-pointed Earthkeeper quartz crystal. San Marga Sanctuary, founded in 1970, is among many public services of Saiva Siddhanta Church, one of America’s senior Hindu religious institutions. See: Subramuniyaswami.
sannidhāna: सन्निधान “Nearness; proximity; provost; taking charge of.” A title of heads of monasteries: Guru Mahāsannidhāna. See: sānnidhya.
sānnidhya: सान्निध्य “(Divine) presence; nearness, indwelling.” The radiance and blessed presence of śakti within and around a temple or a holy person.
sannyāsa: संन्यास “Renunciation.” “Throwing down or abandoning.” Sannyāsa is the repudiation of the dharma, including the obligations and duties, of the householder and the acceptance of the even more demanding dharma of the renunciate. The ancient śāstras recognize four justifiable motivations for entering into sannyāsa: vidvat, vividishā, mārkaṭa and ātura. Vidvat (“knowing; wise”) sannyāsa is the spontaneous withdrawal from the world in search for Self Realization which results from karma and tendencies developed in a previous life. Vividishā (“discriminating”) sannyāsa is renunciation to satisfy a yearning for the Self developed through scriptural study and practice. Mārkaṭa sannyāsa is taking refuge in sannyāsa as a result of great sorrow, disappointment or misfortune in worldly pursuits. (Mārkaṭa means “monkey-like,” perhaps implying the analogy of a monkey clinging to its mother.) Ātura (“suffering or sick”) sannyāsa is entering into sannyāsa upon one’s deathbed, realizing that there is no longer hope in life. See: sannyāsa dharma, sannyāsa dīkshā, videhamukti.
sannyāsa āśrama: संन्यास आश्रम “Renunciate stage.” The period of life after age 72. See: āśrama.
sannyāsa dharma: संन्यासधर्म “Renunciate virtue.” The life, way and traditions of those who have irrevocably renounced prerogatives and obligations of the householder, including personal property, wealth, ambitions, social position and family ties, in favor of the full-time monastic quest for divine awakening, Self Realization and spiritual upliftment of humanity. Traditionally, this dharma is available to those under age 25 who meet strict qualifications. Alternately, the householder may embrace sannyāsa dharma after age 72 through the customary initiatory rites given by a sannyāsin and then diligently pursuing his spiritual sādhana in a state of genuine renunciation and not in the midst of his family. These two forms of sannyāsa are not to be confused with simply entering the sannyāsa āśrama, the last stage of life. See: sannyāsa, sannyāsa dīkshā, sannyāsin, videhamukti.
sannyāsa dīkshā: संन्यासदीक्षा “Renunciate initiation.” This dīkshā is a formal rite, or less often an informal blessing, entering the devotee into renunciate monasticism, binding him for life to certain vows which include chastity, poverty and obedience, and directing him on the path to Self Realization. Strictest tradition requires that lifetime renunciates be single men and that they enter training in their order before age 25. However, there are certain orders which accept men into sannyāsa after age 25, provided they have been in college and not in the world after that time. Others will accept widowers; and a few initiate women. Such rules and qualifications apply primarily to cenobites, that is, to those who will live and serve together in an āśrama or monastery. The rules pertaining to homeless anchorites are, for obvious reasons, more lenient. See: sannyāsa dharma, videhamukti.
Sannyāsa Upanishad: संन्यास उपनिषद् An Upanishad of the Atharva Veda. It deals with the transition to the vānaprastha and sannyāsa āśramas.
sannyāsin: संन्यासिन् “Renouncer.” One who has taken sannyāsa dīkshā. A Hindu monk, swāmī, and one of a world brotherhood (or holy order) of sannyāsins. Some are wanderers and others live in monasteries. The seasoned sannyāsin is truly the liberated man, the spiritual exemplar, the disciplined yogī and ultimately the knower of Truth, freed to commune with the Divine and bound to uplift humanity through the sharing of his wisdom, his peace, his devotion and his illumination, however great or small. The sannyāsin is the guardian of his religion, immersed in it constantly, freed from worldliness, freed from distraction, able to offer his work and his worship in unbroken continuity and one-pointed effectiveness. He undertakes certain disciplines including the purification of body, mind and emotion. He restrains and controls the mind through his sādhana, tapas and meditative regimen. He unfolds from within himself a profound love of God and the Gods. His practice of upāsanā, worship, is predominantly internal, seeking God Śiva within. See: sannyāsa, sannyāsa dharma, sannyāsa dīkshā, swāmī.
Sanskrit (Saṁskṛita): संस्कृत “Well-made,” “refined,” “perfected.” The classical sacerdotal language of ancient India, considered a pure vehicle for communication with the celestial worlds. It is the primary language in which Hindu scriptures are written, including the Vedas and Āgamas. Employed today as a liturgical, literary and scholarly language, but no longer as a spoken vernacular.
sant: सन्त “Saint.” A Hindi or vernacular word derived from the Sanskrit sat, meaning “true; real; virtuous.”
santosha: सन्तोष “Contentment.” See: yama-niyama.
śaraṇa: शरण “Refuge.” See: Śivaśaraṇa, Vīra Śaivism.
Sarasvatī: सरस्वती “The flowing one.” Śakti, the Universal Mother; Goddess of the arts and learning, mythological consort of the God Brahmā. Sarasvatī, the river Goddess, is usually depicted wearing a white sārī and holding a vīna, sitting upon a swan or lotus flower. Prayers are offered to her for refinements of art, culture and learning. Sarasvatī also names one of seven sacred rivers (Sapta Sindhu) mentioned in the Ṛig Veda. Parts of the Indus Valley civilization thrived along the river until it dried up in 1900 BCE. Its course was lost and thought a myth by some until recently discovered in images taken by a French satellite. In addition, one of the ten Daśanāmī swāmī orders is the Sarasvatī. See: Goddess, Śakti.
Śaravaṇa: शरवण “Thicket of reeds.” Mythologically, a sacred Himalayan pond where Lord Kārttikeya was nurtured; esoterically understood as the lake of divine essence, or primal consciousness. See: Kārttikeya.
sārī: (Hindi, साडी) The traditional outer garment of a Hindu woman, consisting of a long, unstitched piece of cloth, usually colorful cotton or silk, wrapped around the body, forming an ankle-length skirt, and around the bosom and over the shoulder.
śarīra: शरीर “Body; husk.”Three bodies of the soul: 1) sthūla śarīra, “gross or physical body”(also called annamaya kośa), the odic body; 2) sūkshma śarīra, “subtle body”(also called liṅga śarīra, it includes the prāṇamaya, manomaya and vijñānamaya kośas); 3) kāraṇa śarīra, “causal body” (also called ānandamaya kośa), the actinic causal body. Another term for body is deha. See: kośa, subtle body.
sarvabhadra: सर्वभद्र “All is auspicious; the goodness of all.” Bhadra indicates that which is “blessed, auspicious, dear, excellent.” Sarva (“all”) bhadra thus denotes the cognition that everything in the universe is a manifestation of Divinity, that it is holy, good and purposeful. See: auspiciousness, grace, Śivamaya, world.
Sarvajñānottara Āgama: सर्वज्ञानोत्तर आगम This text is not among the traditional list of Āgamas and subsidiary scriptures. But it is thought to be a second version of Kalajñānam, a subsidiary text of Vātula Āgama. The extant sections deal with right knowledge.
śāstra: शास्त्र “Sacred text; teaching.” 1) Any religious or philosophical treatise, or body of writings. 2) A department of knowledge, a science; e.g., the Dharma Śāstras on religious law, Artha Śāstras on politics.
śāstrī: शास्त्री One who is knowledgeable in śāstra, or scriptures.
sat: सत् “True, existing, real, good; reality, existence, truth.” See: Satchidānanda.
Satan: The devil; evil personified. A being who in Christian and other Semitic religions opposes God’s will and tempts souls into wickedness. In Hinduism, all is seen as the manifestation of God, and there is no Satan. See: asura, hell, Naraka.
Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa: शतपथब्राह्मण “Sacerdotal treatise of 100 paths.” A priestly manual of the Śukla Yajur Veda, dealing with theology, philosophy and modes of worship.
Satchidānanda (Sachchidānanda): सच्चिदानन्द “Existence-consciousness-bliss.” A synonym for Parāśakti. Lord Śiva’s Divine Mind and simultaneously the pure superconscious mind of each individual soul. Satchidānanda is perfect love and omniscient, omnipotent consciousness, the fountainhead of all existence, yet containing and permeating all existence. Also called pure consciousness, pure form, substratum of existence, and more. One of the goals of the meditator or yogī is to experience the natural state of the mind, Satchidānanda, holding back the vṛittis through yogic practices. In Advaita Vedānta, Satchidānanda is considered a description of the Absolute (Brahman). Whereas in monistic, or śuddha, Śaiva Siddhānta it is understood as divine form—pure, amorphous matter or energy—not as an equivalent of the Absolute, formless, “atattva,” Paraśiva. In this latter school, Paraśiva is radically transcendent, and Satchidānanda is known as the primal and most perfectly divine form to emerge from the formless Paraśiva. See: atattva, Parāśakti, tattva.
satguru (sadguru): सद्गुरु “True weighty one.” A spiritual preceptor of the highest attainment and authority—one who has realized the ultimate Truth, Paraśiva, through nirvikalpa samādhi—a jīvanmukta able to lead others securely along the spiritual path. He is always a sannyāsin, an unmarried renunciate. All Hindu denominations teach that the grace and guidance of a living satguru is a necessity for Self Realization. He is recognized and revered as the embodiment of God, Sadāśiva, the source of grace and liberation. See: guru, guru bhakti, guru-śishya relationship, pādapūjā.
satgurunātha: सत्गुरुनाथ “Lord and true guru.” A highly respectful and honorific term for one’s preceptor. See: satguru.
sattva guṇa: सत्त्वगुण “Perfection of Being.” The quality of goodness or purity. See: guṇa.
satya: सत्य “Truthfulness.” See: yama-niyama.
Satyaloka: सत्यलोक “Plane of reality, truth.” Also called Brahmaloka; the realm of sahasrāra chakra, it is the highest of the seven upper worlds. See: loka.
śaucha: शौच “Purity.” See: purity-impurity, yama-niyama.
saumanasya: सौमनस्य “Benevolence, causing gladness or cheerfulness of mind, right understanding (related to the term soma).” See: chakra.
savikalpa samādhi: सविकल्पसमाधि “Enstasy with form (or seed).” See: enstasy, rāja yoga, samādhi.
sāyujya: सायुज्य “Intimate union.” Perpetual God Consciousness. See: Śivasāyujya, viśvagrāsa.
scarlet: The color red with orange tint.
scepter: Rājadaṇḍa. The staff and insignia of royal or imperial authority and power held by spiritual monarchs or kings. Traditionally, the scepters of Indian kings are prepared and empowered by respected heads of traditional Hindu religious orders through esoteric means. See: daṇḍa.
scripture (scriptural): “A writing.” Sacred text(s) or holy book(s) having authority for a given sect or religion. See: śāstra, smṛiti, śruti.
secluded (seclusion): Isolated; hidden. Kept apart from others. See: muni.
Second World: The astral or subtle plane. See: loka.
seed karma: Dormant or anārabdha karma. All past actions which have not yet sprouted. See: karma.
seer: Visionary; ṛishi. A wise being or mystic who sees beyond the limits of ordinary perception. See: ākāśa, clairvoyance, muni, ṛishi, shamanism.
Self (Self God): God Śiva’s perfection of Absolute Reality, Paraśiva—That which abides at the core of every soul. See: atattva, Paramātman, Paraśiva.
self-assertive: Dominant. Demanding recognition.
self-conceit: Too high an opinion of oneself; vanity, vain pride.
self-luminous: Producing its own light; radiating light.
Self Realization: Direct knowing of the Self God, Paraśiva. Self Realization is known in Sanskrit as nirvikalpa samādhi; “enstasy without form or seed;” the ultimate spiritual attainment (also called asamprajñata samādhi). Esoterically, this state is attained when the mystic kuṇḍalinī force pierces through the sahasrāra chakra at the crown of the head. This transcendence of all modes of human consciousness brings the realization or “nonexperience” of That which exists beyond the mind, beyond time, form and space. But even to assign a name to Paraśiva, or to its realization is to name that which cannot be named. In fact, it is “experienced” only in its aftermath as a change in perspective, a permanent transformation, and as an intuitive familiarity with the Truth that surpasses understanding. See: enstasy, God Realization, kuṇḍalinī, liberation, Paraśiva, rāja yoga, samādhi.
self-reflection: Observation of, or meditation upon, oneself, one’s mind, emotions, thinking. Introspection. Playing back memories and impressions locked within the subconscious, endeavoring to deal with them. It is anticipating one’s future and how the past will react upon it, enhance or detract from it. See: spiritual unfoldment.
servitude: Condition of bondage (slavery) in subjection to a master.
sevā: सेवा “Service,” karma yoga, an integral part of the spiritual path, doing selfless, useful work for others, such as volunteer work at a temple, without preference or thought of reward or personal gain. Sevā, or Sivathondu in Tamil, is the central practice of the charyā pāda. See: yoga.
seval: சேவல் The large, red, fighting rooster (kukkuṭa in Sanskrit) that adorns Lord Murugan’s flag, heralding the dawn of wisdom and the conquest of the forces of ignorance. See: Kārttikeya.
sexuality: Hinduism has a healthy, unrepressed outlook on human sexuality, and sexual pleasure is part of kāma, one of the four legitimate goals of life. On matters such as birth control, sterilization, masturbation, homosexuality, bisexuality, petting and polygamy, Hindu scripture is tolerantly silent, neither calling them sins nor encouraging their practice, neither condemning nor condoning. The two important exceptions to this understanding view of sexual experience are adultery and abortion, both of which are considered to carry heavy karmic implications for this and future births. See: abortion, bisexuality, homosexuality.
shaḍ darśana: षड् दर्शन “Six views,” “six insights.” Six classical philosophies distinguished among the hundreds of Hindu darśanas known through history: Nyāya, Vaiśeshika, Sāṅkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṁsā and Vedānta. Each was tersely formulated in sūtra form by its “founder,” and elaborated in extensive commentaries by other writers. They are understood as varied attempts at describing Truth and the path to it. Elements of each form part of the Hindu fabric today. —Nyāya: “System, rule; logic.” A system of logical realism, founded sometime around 300 BCE by Gautama, known for its systems of logic and epistemology and concerned with the means of acquiring right knowledge. Its tools of enquiry and rules for argumentation were adopted by all schools of Hinduism. —Vaiśeshika: “Differentiation,” from viśesha, “differences.” Philosophy founded by Kanada (ca 300 BCE) teaching that liberation is to be attained through understanding the nature of existence, which is classified in nine basic realities (dravyas): earth, water, light, air, ether, time, space, soul and mind. Nyāya and Vaiśeshika are viewed as a complementary pair, with Nyāya emphasizing logic, and Vaiśeshika analyzing the nature of the world. —Sāṅkhya: “Enumeration, reckoning.” A philosophy founded by the sage Kapila (ca 500 BCE), author of the Sāṅkhya Sūtras. Sāṅkhya is primarily concerned with “categories of existence,” tattvas, which it understands as 25 in number. The first two are the unmanifest Purusha and the manifest primal nature, Prakṛiti—the male-female polarity, viewed as the foundation of all existence. Prakṛiti, out of which all things evolve, is the unity of the three guṇas: sattva, rajas and tamas. Sāṅkhya and Yoga are considered an inseparable pair whose principles permeate all of Hinduism. See: prakṛiti, purusha. —Yoga: “Yoking; joining.” Ancient tradition of philosophy and practice codified by Patanjali (ca 200 BCE) in the Yoga Sūtras. It is also known as rāja yoga, “king of yogas,” or ashṭāṅga yoga, “eight-limbed yoga.” Its object is to achieve, at will, the cessation of all fluctuations of consciousness, and the attainment of Self Realization. Yoga is wholly dedicated to putting the high philosophy of Hinduism into practice, to achieve personal transformation through transcendental experience, samādhi. See: yoga. —Mīmāṁsā: “Inquiry” (or Pūrva, “early,” Mīmāṁsā). Founded by Jaimini (ca 200 BCE), author of the Mīmāṁsā Sūtras, who taught the correct performance of Vedic rites as the means to salvation. —Vedānta(or Uttara “later” Mīmāṁsā): “End (or culmination) of the Vedas.” For Vedānta, the main basis is the Upanishads and Āraṇyakas (the “end,” anta, of the Vedas), rather than the hymns and ritual portions of the Vedas. The teaching of Vedānta is that there is one Absolute Reality, Brahman. Man is one with Brahman, and the object of life is to realize that truth through right knowledge, intuition and personal experience. The Vedānta Sūtras (or Brahma Sūtras) were composed by Rishi Badarayana (ca 400 BCE). See: Brahma Sūtra, padārtha, tattva, Vedānta, yoga.
shamanism (shamanic): From a Siberian tribal word, akin to the Sanskrit śramaṇa, “ascetic,” akin to śram, meaning “to exert.” The religion of certain indigenous peoples of Northeast Asia, based on the belief in good and evil spirits who can be contacted and influenced by priests, or shamans, generally during a state of altered consciousness or trance. Also descriptive of many of the world’s native, tribal faiths, and of various groups that today carry forward the practices and traditions of shamanism to maximize human abilities of mind and spirit for healing and problem-solving. See: folk-shamanic, mysticism, pagan, Śāktism.
shaṇmata sthāpanāchārya: षण्मतस्थापनाचार्य “Founding teacher of the sixfold system.” A title conferred upon Adi Sankara while he was living. It refers to his attempt to consolidate the six main sects of Hinduism in nonsectarian unity, as represented by its altar of five (or six) Deities. See: pañchāyatana pūjā, Sankara, Smārtism.
Shaṇmukha: षण्मुख “Six-faced.” (Tamil: Shanmuga.) A name for Lord Murugan or Kārttikeya, denoting the multiplicity of His divine functions. See: Kārttikeya.
Shaṇmukha Gāyatrī: षण्मुखगायत्री A Vedic Gāyatrī chant, the Sāvitrī Gāyatrī modified to address Lord Kārttikeya as Shaṇmukha “He of six faces.”
shashṭyabda pūrti: षष्ट्यब्दपूर्ति “Sixtieth birthday celebration.” Done for the couple on the husband’s birthday, usually with many family and friends attending. It consists in a homa, renewal of marriage vows and retying the wedding pendant.
shaṭkoṇa: षट्कोण “Six-pointed star,” formed by two interlocking triangles, the upper one representing Śiva’s transcendent Being, and the lower one Śiva’s manifest energy, Śakti. The shaṭkoṇa is part of Lord Kārttikeya’s yantra. A similar emblem in Judaism is of independent origin and signification. See: Ardhanārīśvara, Kārttikeya.
shaṭsthala: षट्स्थल “Six stages.” Vīra Śaivism’s six stages to union with Śiva. See: Vīra Śaivism.
shatter: To break into many pieces suddenly, as if struck.
sheath:A covering or receptacle, such as the husk surrounding a grain of rice. In Sanskrit, it is kośa, philosophically the bodily envelopes of the soul. See: kośa, soul, subtle body.
Shūm-Tyēīf: A Nātha mystical language of meditation (also simply known as Shūm) revealed in Switzerland in 1968 by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. Its primary alphabet looks like this:
shuttle: An instrument that carries a spool of thread in the weaving of cloth.
siddha: सिद्ध A “perfected one’’ or accomplished yogī, a person of great spiritual attainment or powers. See: siddha yoga, siddha yogī, siddhi.
Siddha Mārga: सिद्धमार्ग Another term for Siddha Siddhānta. See: Siddha Siddhānta, siddha yoga.
siddhānta: सिद्धान्त “Final attainments;” “final conclusions.” Siddhānta refers to ultimate understanding arrived at in any given field of knowledge.
siddhānta śravaṇa (or śrāvaṇa): सिद्धान्तश्रवण “Scriptural listening.” See: yama-niyama.
Siddha Siddhānta: सिद्धसिद्धान्त Siddha Siddhānta, also called Gorakshanātha Śaivism, is generally considered to have evolved in the lineage of the earlier ascetic orders of India. Its most well-known preceptor was Gorakshanatha (ca 1000) a disciple of Matsyendranatha, patron saint of Nepal, revered by certain esoteric Buddhist schools as well as by Hindus. The school systematized and developed the practice of haṭha yoga to a remarkable degree. Indeed, nearly all of what is today taught about haṭha yoga comes from this school. Among its central texts are Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā by Svatmarama, Gheraṇḍa Saṁhitā, Śiva Saṁhitā and Jñānāmṛita. Siddha Siddhānta theology embraces both transcendent Śiva (being) and immanent Śiva (becoming). Śiva is both the efficient and material cause of the universe. Devotion is expressed through temple worship and pilgrimage, with the central focus on internal worship and kuṇḍalinī yoga, with the goal of realizing Parāsamvid, the supreme transcendent state of Śiva. Today there are perhaps 750,000 adherents of Siddha Siddhānta Śaivism, who are often understood as Śāktas or advaita tantrics. The school fans out through India, but is most prominent in North India and Nepal. Devotees are called yogīs, and stress is placed on world renunciation—even for householders. This sect is most commonly known as Nātha, the Gorakshapantha and Siddha Yogī Sampradāya. Other names include Ādinātha Sampradāya, Nāthamaṭha and Siddhamārga. See: Gorakshanātha Śaivism.
Siddha Siddhānta Paddhati: सिद्धसिद्धान्तपद्धति “Tracks on the doctrines of the adepts.” A text of 353 mystical verses, ascribed to Gorakshanatha, dealing with the esoteric nature of the inner bodies and the soul’s union with Supreme Reality. See: Gorakshanatha, Siddha Siddhānta.
siddha yoga: सिद्धयोग “Yoga of perfected attainment,” or supernatural powers. 1) A term used in the Tirumantiram and other Śaiva scriptures to describe the yoga which is the way of life of adepts after attaining Paraśiva. Siddha yoga involves the development of magical or mystical powers, or siddhis, such as the eight classical powers. It is a highly advanced yoga which seeks profound transformation of body, mind and emotions and the ability to live in a flawless state of God Consciousness. 2) The highly accomplished practices of certain alchemists. See: siddha yogī, siddhi.
siddha yogī: सिद्धयोगी “Yogī of perfection.” A perfected one, adept, a realized being who is the embodiment of the most profound yogic states and has attained magical or mystical powers. See: siddha yoga, siddhi.
Siddha Yogī Sampradāya: सिद्धयोगीसंप्रदाय Another term for Siddha Siddhānta. See: Siddha Siddhānta.
siddhi: सिद्धि “Power, accomplishment; perfection.” Extraordinary powers of the soul, developed through consistent meditation and deliberate, often uncomfortable and grueling tapas, or awakened naturally through spiritual maturity and yogic sādhana. Through the repeated experience of Self Realization, siddhis naturally unfold according to the needs of the individual. Before Self Realization, the use or development of siddhis is among the greatest obstacles on the path because it cultivates ahaṁkāra, “I-ness” (egoity), and militates against the attainment of prapatti, complete submission to the will of God, Gods and guru. Six siddhis in particular are considered primary obstacles to samādhi: clairvoyance (ādarśa siddhi or divya siddhi), clairaudience (śravana siddhi or divyaśravana), divination (pratibhā siddhi), super-feeling (vedana siddhi) and super-taste (āsvādana siddhi), super-smell (vārtā siddhi). The eight classical siddhis are: 1) animā: diminution; being as small as an atom; 2) mahimā: enlargement; becoming infinitely large; 3) laghimā: super-lightness, levitation; 4) prāpti: pervasiveness, extension, ability to be anywhere at will; 5) prakāmya: fulfillment of desires; 6) vashitva: control of natural forces; 7) iśititva: supremacy over nature; 8) kāma-avasayitva: complete satisfaction. The supreme siddhi (parasiddhi) is realization of the Self, Paraśiva. See: ahaṁkāra, prapatti, siddha yoga.
śikhara: शिखर “Summit; pinnacle; crest.” The towering superstructure above the garbhagṛiha in North Indian style temples. In Southern temples, śikhara refers to the top stone of the superstructure, or vimāna.
Sikh: “Disciple.” Religion of nine million members founded in India about 500 years ago by the saint Guru Nanak. A reformist faith, Sikhism rejects idolatry and the caste system, its holy book is the Ādi Granth, and main center is the Golden Temple of Amritsar. Sikhs honor a line of ten gurus: Guru Nanak (Nanāk), Guru Angad, Guru Amardas, Guru Ram Das (Rām Dās), Guru Arjun, Guru Har Govind, Guru Har Rai, Guru Har Krishnan (Kṛishṇan), Guru Tegh Bahadur and Guru Govind Singh. See: Ādi Granth.
Śikshā Vedāṅga: शिक्षावेदाङ्ग Auxiliary Vedic tracts on Sanskrit phonetics, among four linguistic skills taught for mastery of the Vedas and rites of yajña. Śikshā literally means “rules of instruction; learning; method of study.” See: Vedāṅga.
Śilpa Śāstra: शिल्पशास्त्र “Art or craft manual.” 1) A particular class of works which formed the primary teachings on any of the fine arts or sacred sciences, such as architecture, dance, painting, jewelry-making, pottery, weaving, and basketry, garlandry, metal-working, acting, cooking and horsemanship. The earliest Śilpa Śāstras are thought to date to 200 BCE. Many were written between the 5th and 14th centuries. See: kalā–64, Sthāpatyaveda.
sīmantonnayana: सीमन्तोन्नयन “Hair-parting rite.” See: saṁskāras of birth.
simile: A figure of speech in which one thing is likened to another.
sin: Intentional transgression of divine law. Akin to the Latin sons, “guilty.” Hinduism does not view sin as a crime against God, but as an act against dharma—moral order—and one’s own self. It is thought natural, if unfortunate, that young souls act wrongly, for they are living in nescience, avidya, the darkness of ignorance. Sin is an adharmic course of action which automatically brings negative consequences. The term sin carries a double meaning, as do its Sanskrit equivalents: 1) a wrongful act, 2) the negative consequences resulting from a wrongful act. In Sanskrit the wrongful act is known by several terms, including pātaka (from pat, “to fall”), pāpa, enas, kilbisha, adharma, anṛita and ṛiṇa (transgression, in the sense of omission). The residue of sin is called pāpa, sometimes conceived of as a sticky, astral substance which can be dissolved through penance (prāyaśchitta), austerity (tapas) and good deeds (sukṛityā). This astral substance can be psychically seen within the inner, subconscious aura of the individual. Note that pāpa is also accrued through unknowing or unintentional transgressions of dharma, as in the term aparādha (offense, fault, mistake). —inherent (or original) sin: A doctrine of Semitic faiths whereby each soul is born in sin as a result of Adam’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Sometimes mistakenly compared to the Śaiva Siddhānta concept of the three malas, especially āṇava. See: pāśa. —mortal sin: According to some theologies, sins so grave that they can hardly be expiated and which cause the soul to be condemned to suffer eternally in hell. In Hinduism, there are no such concepts as inherent or mortal sin. See: aura, evil, karma, pāpa.
śishya: शिष्य “A pupil or disciple,” especially one who has proven himself and been accepted by a guru.
Śiva: शिव The “Auspicious,” “Gracious,” or “Kindly one.” Supreme Being of the Śaivite religion. God Śiva is All and in all, simultaneously the creator and the creation, both immanent and transcendent. As personal Deity, He is Creator, Preserver and Destroyer. He is a one Being, perhaps best understood in three perfections: Parameśvara (Primal Soul), Parāśakti (Pure Consciousness) and Paraśiva (Absolute Reality). See: Parameśvara, Parāśakti, Paraśiva, Naṭarāja, prapatti, Sadāśiva, Śaivism, Satchidānanda.
Śiva Advaita: शिवाद्वैत Also called Śiva Viśishṭādvaita, or Śaivite “qualified nondualism,” Śiva Advaita is the philosophy of Srikantha (ca 1050) as expounded in his commentary on the Brahma Sūtras (ca 500-200 BCE). Patterned after the Vaishṇavite Viśishṭādvaita of Ramanuja, this philosophy was later amplified by Appaya Dikshita. Brahman, or Śiva, is transcendent and the efficient and material cause of the world and souls. Souls are not identical with Him and never merge in Him, even after liberation. As a school, Śiva Advaita remained exclusively intellectual, never enjoying a following of practitioners. Purification, devotion and meditation upon Śiva as the Self—the ākāśa within the heart—define the path. Meditation is directed to the Self, Śiva, the One Existence that evolved into all form. Liberation depends on grace, not deeds. See: Appaya Dikshita, Śaivism, Srikantha.
Śivachaitanya: शिवचैतन्य “God consciousness.” See: Śiva consciousness.
Śivāchāra: शिवाचार “Treating all as God.” See: Vīra Śaivism.
Śivāchārya: शिवाचार्य The hereditary priests of the Śaiva Siddhānta tradition. The title of Ādiśaiva Brāhmins. An Ādiśaiva priest who has received the necessary training and dīkshās to perform public Śiva temple rites known as Āgamic nitya parārtha pūjā. A fully qualified Śivāchārya is also known as archaka. Śivāchārya, too, names the family clan of this priest tradition. See: Ādiśaiva, brāhmin.
Śiva consciousness: Śivachaitanya. A broad term naming the experience or state of being conscious of Śiva in a multitude of ways, such as in the five expressed in the following meditation. Vital Breath: prāṇa. Experience the inbreath and outbreath as Śiva’s will within your body. Become attuned to the ever-present pulse of the universe, knowing that nothing moves but by His divine will. All-Pervasive Energy: śakti. Become conscious of the flow of life within your body. Realize that it is the same universal energy within every living thing. Practice seeing the life energy within another’s eyes. Manifest Sacred Form: darśana. Hold in your mind a sacred form, such as Naṭarāja, Śivaliṅga or your satguru—who is Sadāśiva—and think of nothing else. See every form as a form of our God Śiva. Inner Light: jyoti. Observe the light that illumines your thoughts. Concentrate only on that light, as you might practice being more aware of the light on a TV screen than of its changing pictures. Sacred Sound: nāda. Listen to the constant high-pitched ee sounding in your head. It is like the tone of an electrical transformer, a hundred tamburas distantly playing or a humming swarm of bees.
These five constitute the “Śivachaitanya Pañchatantra,” five simple experiences that bring the Divine into the reach of each individual. Śivachaitanya, of course, applies to deeper states of meditation and contemplation as well. See: jñāna, mind (five states), Śivasāyujya.
Śiva Dṛishṭi: शिवदृष्टि A scripture of Kashmīr Śaivism, now lost, written by Somananda, a disciple of Vasugupta. See: Kashmīr Śaivism.
Śivajñānabodham: शिवज्ञानबोधम् “Memorandum on Śiva Realization.” A digest authored (or, some believe, a portion of the Raurava Āgama translated into Tamil) by Meykandar, ca 1300, consisting of 12 sūtras describing the relationship between God, soul and world. The Meykandar Sampradāya revere it as their primary philosophical text and consider it a pluralistic exposition. Others view it as monistic in character, with a pluralistic interpretation introduced by later commentators. Connected with this important text is an acute commentary on each of the 12 sūtras. See: Meykandar Śāstras.
Śivakarṇāmṛita: शिवकर्णामृत A text by Appaya Dikshita (1554‒1626) written to reestablish the superiority of God Śiva in the face of widespread conversion to Vaishṇavism. See: Appaya Dikshita.
Śivālaya: शिवालय The holy Śiva temple. “Śiva’s residence or dwelling” (ālaya). See: temple.
Śivaliṅga: शिवलिङ्ग “Mark,” “Token” or “Sign of Śiva.” The most prevalent emblem of Śiva, found in virtually all Śiva temples. A rounded, elliptical, aniconic image, usually set on a circular base, or pīṭha, the Śivaliṅga is the simplest and most ancient symbol of Śiva, especially of Paraśiva, God beyond all forms and qualities. The pīṭha represents Parāśakti, the manifesting power of God. Liṅgas are usually of stone (carved or naturally existing, svayambhū, such as shaped by a swift-flowing river), but may also be of metal, precious gems, crystal, wood, earth or transitory materials such as ice. According to the Kāraṇa Āgama (verse 6), a transitory Śivaliṅga may be made of 12 different materials: sand, rice, cooked food, river clay, cow dung, butter, rudrāksha seeds, ashes, sandalwood, dharba grass, a flower garland or molasses. See: mūrti, Śaivism, svayambhū Liṅga.
Śivaloka: शिवलोक “Realm of Śiva.” See: loka.
Śivamaya: शिवमय “Formed, made, consisting of” or “full of Śiva.” A part of the Śaivite affirmation of faith, denoting that all of existence—all worlds, all beings, all of manifestation, that which undergoes creation, preservation and destruction, all dualities and paradoxes—consists of and is pervaded by Śiva. An important concept of monistic Śaivism. See: māyā, sarvabhadra, tattva, world.
Śivamayakośa: शिवमयकोश “Sheath composed of Śiva.” The Primal Soul form, Parameśvara—the body of God Śiva—into which the individual soul merges as the fulfillment of its evolution. See: Parameśvara, viśvagrāsa.
Sivanadiyar: சிவனடியார் “Servitor of Śiva.” Conveys a mystic relationship between the devotee and Śiva in which all spiritual, mental and physical actions are perceived as fulfilling the will and design of Śiva. See: karma yoga.
Śivānanda: शिवानन्द “Bliss of Śiva.”
Sivananda, Swami (Śivānanda): शिवानन्द One of Hinduism’s most influential modern-day saints (1887– 1063). He was born in South India, practiced medicine in Malaysia, published a medical journal, became administrator of a hospital and later renounced the world. Initiated by Swami Visvananda Sarasvati at Rishikesh in 1024, he founded the Divine Life Society in 1030, which has branches in many countries today. He has been a powerful force in spreading Hindu teachings in India and abroad through his many books and the travels of his numerous swāmīs. Emphasized haṭha and rāja yoga and a broad, universal form of Hinduism.
Śivaness: Quality of being Śiva or like Śiva, especially sharing in His divine state of consciousness. See: samarasa, Śiva consciousness, Śivasāyujya.
Śivānubhava Maṇḍapa: शिवानुभवमण्डप The “Hall of Śiva experience,” where the Vīra Śaivites gathered to develop the basic doctrines of the movement in the 12th century.
Śiva Purāṇa: शिवपुराण “Ancient [lore] of Śiva.” 1) A collection of six major scriptures sacred to Śaivites. 2) The name of the oldest of these six texts, though some consider it a version of the Vāyu Purāṇa.
Śiva Rakshāmaṇi Dīpikā: शिवरक्षामणिदीपिका A purely nondual commentary and interpretation by Appaya Dikshita (1554‒1626) on the writings of Srikantha. See: Śaivism.
Śivarātri: शिवरात्रि “Night of Śiva.” See: Mahāśivarātri.
Śiva-Śakti: शिवशक्ति Father-Mother God, both immanent and transcendent. A name for God Śiva encompassing His unmanifest Being and manifest energy. See: Ardhanārīśvara, Parameśvara, Paraśiva, Śiva.
Śiva Saṁhitā: शिवसंहिता Text from the Gorakshanātha school of Śaivism, ca 1700. In 212 sūtras it discusses anatomy, āsanas, energy, breathing and philosophy. It is available in various languages and widely studied as a valuable overview of yoga practice.
Śivaśaraṇa: शिवशरण “One surrendered in God.” See: Vīra Śaivism.
Śivasāyujya: शिवसायुज्य “Intimate union with Śiva.” Becoming one with God. The state of perpetual Śiva consciousness; simultaneous perception of the inner and the outer. A permanent state of oneness with Śiva, even in the midst of ordinary activities, the aftermath or plateau which comes after repeated Self Realization experiences. Rishi Tirumular says: “Sāyujya is the state of jagrātita—the ‘Beyond Consciousness.’ Sāyujya is to abide forever in upaśanta, the peace that knows no understanding. Sāyujya is to become Śiva Himself. Sāyujya is to experience the infinite power of inward bliss forever and ever (Tirumantiram 1513).” In many Hindu schools of thought it is the highest attainment. It dawns when the kuṇḍalinī resides coiled in the sahasrāra chakra. See: jīvanmukti, kaivalya, kuṇḍalinī, moksha.
Śiva’s five faces: See: Sadāśiva.
Śiva Sūtra(s): शिवसूत्र The seminal or seed scripture of Kashmīr Śaivism, 77 aphorisms revealed to Sage Vasugupta (ca 800). See: Vasugupta.
Sivathondan: சிவதொண்டன் “Servant of Śiva.” Conveys the same mystic meaning as Sivanadiyar, denoting a devotee who regularly performs actions dedicated to God Śiva; selfless work in service to others. See: karma yoga.
Sivathondu: சிவதொண்டு “Service to Śiva.” Akin to the concept of karma yoga. See: karma yoga.
Śivāya Namaḥ: शिवाय नमः “Adoration to Śiva.” Alternate form of Namaḥ Śivāya. See: Namaḥ Śivāya.
Sivayogamuni (Śivayogamuni): शिवयोगमुनि One of the eight disciples of Maharishi Nandinatha. See: Kailāsa Paramparā.
Śivena saha Nartanam: शिवेन सह नर्तनम् “Dancing with Śiva.”
Skanda: स्कन्द “Quicksilver;” “leaping one.” One of Lord Kārttikeya’s oldest names, and His form as scarlet-hued warrior God. See: Kārttikeya.
Skanda Shashṭhī: स्कन्दषष्ठी A six-day festival in October-November celebrating Lord Kārttikeya’s, or Skanda’s, victory over the forces of darkness.
śloka: स्लोक A verse, phrase, proverb or hymn of praise, usually composed in a specified meter. Especially a verse of two lines, each of sixteen syllables. Śloka is the primary verse form of the Sanskrit epics, Mahābhārata and Rāmāyaṇa. See: bhāshya, sūtra.
Smārta: स्मार्त “Of or related to smṛiti,” the secondary Hindu scriptures. See: Smārtism, smṛiti.
Smārta Sampradāya: स्मार्तसंप्रदाय The teaching tradition of Hinduism’s Smārta sect, formalized by Adi Sankara in the 9th century. See: Smārtism.
Smārtism: स्मार्तिस्म् Sect based on the secondary scriptures (smṛiti). The most liberal of the four major Hindu denominations, an ancient Vedic brāhminical tradition (ca 700 BCE) which from the 9th century onward was guided and deeply influenced by the Advaita Vedānta teachings of the reformist Adi Sankara. Its adherents rely mainly on the classical smṛiti literature, especially the Itihāsas (Rāmāyana and Mahābhārata, the latter of which includes the Bhagavad Gītā), Purāṇas and Dharma Śāstras. These are regarded as complementary to and a means to understanding the Vedas. Smārtas adhere to Sankara’s view that all Gods are but various representations of Saguṇa Brahman. Thus, Smārtas are avowedly eclectic, worshiping all the Gods and discouraging sectarianism. The Smārta system of worship, called pañchāyatana pūjā, reinforces this outlook by including the major Deity of each primary Hindu sect of ancient days: Gaṇeśa, Sūrya, Vishṇu, Śiva and Śakti. To encompass a sixth important lineage, Sankara recommended the addition of a sixth Deity, Kumāra. Thus he was proclaimed shaṇmata sthapanāchārya, founder of the sixfold system. One among the six is generally chosen as the devotee’s preferred Deity, Ishṭa Devatā. For spiritual authority, Smārtas look to the regional monasteries established across India by Sankara, and to their pontiffs. These are the headquarters of ten orders of renunciate monks who spread the Advaita Vedānta teachings far and wide. Within Smārtism three primary religious approaches are distinguished: ritualistic, devotional and philosophical. See: Daśanāmī, pañchāyatana pūjā, Sankara.
smṛiti: स्मृति That which is “remembered;” the tradition. Hinduism’s nonrevealed, secondary but deeply revered scriptures, derived from man’s insight and experience. Smṛiti speaks of secular matters—science, law, history, agriculture, etc.—as well as spiritual lore, ranging from day-to-day rules and regulations to superconscious outpourings. 1) The term smṛiti refers to certain collections of ancient Sanskritic texts: the six or more Vedāṅgas, the four Upavedas, the two Itihāsas, and the 18 major Purāṇas. Among the Vedāṅgas, the Kalpa Vedāṅga defines codes of ritual in the Śrauta and Śulba Śāstras, and domestic-civil laws in the Gṛihya and Dharma Śāstras. Also included as classical smṛiti are the founding sūtras of six ancient philosophies called shaḍ darśana (Sāṅkhya, Yoga, Nyāya, Vaiśeshika, Mīmāṁsā and Vedānta). 2) In a general sense, smṛiti may refer to any text other than śruti (revealed scripture) that is revered as scripture within a particular sect. From the vast body of sacred literature, śāstra, each sect and school claims its own preferred texts as secondary scripture, e.g., the Rāmāyaṇa of Vaishṇavism and Smārtism, or the Tirumurai of Śaiva Siddhānta. Thus, the selection of smṛiti varies widely from one sect and lineage to another. See: Mahābhārata, Rāmāyaṇa, Tirumurai.
snare: A trap for catching unawares, especially animals.
social dharma: (varṇa dharma). See: dharma.
solace: A comforting of distress, pain or sorrow.
solemn: Observed or performed according to ritual or tradition. Formal, serious, inspiring feelings of awe. —solemnize: To consecrate with formal ceremony. See: sacrament, saṁskāra.
soliloquy: An act of speaking to oneself.
solitary (solitaire): A hermit. One who lives alone and away from all human company.
Somananda (Somānanda): सोमानन्द Disciple of Vasugupta and author of Śiva Dṛishṭi (ca 850–000), which was said to be a highly influential explanation and defense of the Kashmīr Śaiva philosophy. See: Kashmīr Śaivism.
Somanath Temple: सोमनाथ Ancient center of Pāśupata Śaivism located in modern Gujarat state and mentioned in the Mahābhārata. The first recorded temple was built there before 100. In 1026 the then fabulously wealthy temple was sacked by Muslim invaders, the Śivaliṅga smashed and 50,000 brāhmins slaughtered. The temple was rebuilt several times and finally demolished by the Moghul emperor Aurangzeb (ca 1700). Sardar Patel, deputy prime minister of India, spearheaded its reconstruction in 1947.
soul: The real being of man, as distinguished from body, mind and emotions. The soul—known as ātman or purusha—is the sum of its two aspects, the form or body of the soul and the essence of the soul (though many texts use the word soul to refer to the essence only). —essence or nucleus of the soul: Man’s innermost and unchanging being—Pure Consciousness (Parāśakti or Satchidānanda) and Absolute Reality (Paraśiva). This essence was never created, does not change or evolve and is eternally identical with God Śiva’s perfections of Parāśakti and Paraśiva. —soul body: ānandamaya kośa (“sheath of bliss”), also referred to as the “causal body” (kāraṇa śarīra), “innermost sheath” and “body of light.” Body of the soul, or soul body, names the soul’s manifest nature as an individual being—an effulgent, human-like form composed of light (quantums). It is the emanational creation of God Śiva, destined to one day merge back into Him. During its evolution, the soul functions through four types of outer sheaths that envelop the soul form—mental, instinctive-intellectual, vital and physical—and employs the mental faculties of manas, buddhi and ahaṁkāra, as well as the five agents of perception (jñānendriyas), and five agents of action (karmendriyas). The “soul body” is not a body in sense of a case, a vessel, vehicle or enclosure for something else. The soul body is the soul itself—a radiant, self-effulgent, human-like, super-intelligent being. Its very composition is Satchidānanda in various subtle levels of manifestation. It is the finest of subatomic forms, on the quantum level. The soul form evolves as its consciousness evolves, becoming more and more refined until finally it is the same intensity or refinement as the Primal Soul, Parameśvara. The experiences of life, in all the various planes of consciousness, are “food for the soul,” reaping lessons that actually raise the level of intelligence and divine love. Thus, very refined souls, whether embodied or in the disembodied, ajīva, state, are like walking intelligences with inventive creativeness and powers of preservation, beaming with love and luminosity in their self-effulgent bodies of quantum light particles. See: ātman, evolution of the soul, indriya, kośa, Parāśakti, Paraśiva, purusha, quantum, Satchidānanda, spiritual unfoldment.
sound: Śabda. As the darśana, or “seeing,” of the Divine is a central article of faith for Hindus, similarly, hearing the Divine is spiritually indispensable. The ears are a center of many nāḍīs connected to inner organs of perception. Gurus may when imparting initiation whisper in the ear of disciples to stimulate these centers and give a greater effect to their instructions. During temple pūjā, bells ring loudly, drums resound, conches and woodwinds blare to awaken worshipers from routine states of consciousness. Meditation on inner sound, called nāda anusandhāna, is an essential yoga practice. Listening to the Vedas or other scripture is a mystical process. Traditional music is revered as the nectar of the Divine. See: Aum, nāda, Śiva consciousness.
Soundless Sound: Paranāda. See: nāda.
sovereign: Above or superior to all others. Supreme in rank or authority.
sow: To scatter or plant, as seeds for cultivation; disseminate; propagate.
span: To stretch across or over, as a bridge spans a river. To cover or take in the whole of something.
Spanda Kārikā: स्पन्दकारिका A commentary of 52 verses by Vasugupta on the Śiva Sūtras. Also called the Spanda Sūtras. See: Vasugupta, Kashmīr Śaivism.
spark: A small burning piece of matter, usually thrown off by a fire. A tiny beginning. To stir or activate.
spectrum: A series of colored bands which blend one into the other so as to include the entire range of colors, as a rainbow. The entire range of variations of anything, as in the spectrum of all possible emotions.
speculate (speculation): To conjecture, reflect, think or meditate on a subject without, or with incomplete, evidence. See: meditation, self-reflection.
sphaṭika: स्फटिक “Quartz crystal.” From sphaṭ, “to expand; blossom; to burst open or into view.” See: sphaṭika Śivaliṅga.
sphaṭika Śivaliṅga: स्फटिकशिवलिङ्ग “Crystal mark of God.” A quartz-crystal Śivaliṅga. See: San Marga Sanctuary, Śivaliṅga, Svayambhū Liṅga.
sphere: A world. The area, place; the extent or range or action, experience or influence. See: loka, world.
Spinoza, Baruch: Dutch philosopher (1632-1677) who taught a monistic pantheism of one infinite substance, God or nature.
spiritual evolution: Adhyātma prasāra. See: adhyātma prasāra, evolution of the soul.
spiritual unfoldment: Adhyātma vikāśa. The unfoldment of the spirit, the inherent, divine soul of man. The very gradual expansion of consciousness as kuṇḍalinī śakti slowly rises through the sushumṇā. The term spiritual unfoldment indicates this slow, imperceptible process, likened to a lotus flower’s emerging from bud to effulgent beauty. Contrasted with development, which implies intellectual study; or growth, which implies character building and sādhana. Sound intellect and good character are the foundation for spiritual unfoldment, but they are not the unfoldment itself. When philosophical training and sādhana is complete, the kuṇḍalinī rises safely and imperceptibly, without jerks, twitches, tears or hot flashes. Brings greater willpower, compassion and perceptive qualities. See: adhyātma vikāśa, kuṇḍalinī, liberation, pāda, sādhana, sādhana mārga, San Mārga, tapas.
splendor (splendid): Great brightness, magnificent in richness, beauty or character. Grandeur.
spouse: A partner in a marriage; a husband or wife.
śraddhā: श्रद्धा “Faith; belief.” See: pañcha śraddhā.
śrāddha: श्राद्ध Relating to commemorative ceremonies for the deceased, held one week, one month after death, and annually thereafter, according to tradition. See: bone-gathering, death, piṇḍa, saṁskāras of later life.
śraddhā dhāraṇā: श्रद्धाधारणा “Distillation of faith or belief.” A term used in Dancing with Śiva for creed, a concise synopsis of religious doctrine. See: creed, faith.
śrauta: श्रौत “Related to hearing; audible.” That which is prescribed by or conforms with the Vedas.
Śrauta Śāstra: श्रौतशास्त्र “Texts on the revelation.” 1) Refers to scriptures or teachings that are in agreement with the Vedas. 2) A certain group of texts of the Kalpa Vedāṅga, and part of the essential study for Vedic priests. The Śrauta Śāstras offer explanation of the yajña rituals. See: Vedāṅga.
śrī: श्री “Radiant,”, “excellent;” “honorable,” “eminent.” An honorific title prefixed to the names of Deities (e.g., Śrī Gaṇeśa); to the names of scriptural works (meaning holy, sacred), or eminent persons (Sir, Mr.). The feminine equivalent is śrīmātī.
Śrī Chakra: श्रीचक्र See: yantra.
Srikantha (Śrīkaṇṭha): श्रीकण्ठ A saint and philosopher (ca 1050) who promoted a Śaivite theology which embraced monism and dualism. Founder of the Śaiva school called Śiva Advaita, or Śiva Viśishṭādvaita, teaching a “Śaivite qualified nondualism,” resembling Ramanuja’s Vaishṇavite Viśishṭādvaita. He was also known as Nilakantha Sivacharya (Nīlakaṇṭha Śivāchārya). See: Śiva Advaita.
Srikumara (Śrīkumāra): श्रीकुमार Monistic Śaiva Siddhānta philosopher (ca 1050) who refuted the Sankaran Vedānta doctrine of māyā as illusion and expounded that Śiva is both material cause (upādāna kāraṇa) and efficient cause (nimitta kāraṇa).
Śrīla: श्रील “Excellency,” Eminence,” “Most Venerable.” Honorific title for distinguished religious prelates.
Sri Lanka (Śrī Laṅkā): श्रीलंका ஸ்ரீ லங்கா “Venerable lion.” Island state off the southeast tip of India, formerly called Ceylon, 80% Buddhist, home to several million Tamil Śaivites who live mostly in the arid north. It was a British colony until independence in 1948 as a member of the Commonwealth. Sri Lanka became a republic in 1972. Area: 25,000 square miles; 10 million population.
Srinagar (Śrīnagara): श्रीनगर The summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir.
Srinatha (Śrīnātha): श्रीनाथ A Kashmīr Śaivite teacher of monistic theism. See: Durvasas.
śrī pādukā: श्रीपादुका The guru’s venerable sandals. See: holy feet, pādukā.
Śrī Rudram: श्रीरुद्रम् “(Hymn) to the wielder of awesome powers.” Preeminent Vedic hymn to Lord Śiva as the God of dissolution, chanted daily in Śiva temples throughout India. It is in this long prayer, located in the Yajur Veda, Taittirīya Saṁhitā, in the middle of the first three Vedas, that the Śaivite mantra Namaḥ Śivāya first appears.
sṛishṭi सृष्टि “Creation.” See: Naṭarāja.
śruti: श्रुति That which is “heard.” Hinduism’s revealed scriptures, of supreme theological authority and spiritual value. They are timeless teachings transmitted to ṛishis, or seers, directly by God thousands of years ago. Śruti is thus said to be apaurusheya, “supra-human.” Śruti consists of the Vedas and the Āgamas, preserved through oral tradition and eventually written down in Sanskrit. Among the many sacred books of the Hindus, these two bodies of knowledge are held in the highest esteem. For countless centuries śruti has been the basis of philosophical discussion, study and commentary, and this attention has given rise to countless schools of thought. It is also the subject of deep study and meditation, to realize the wisdom of the ancients within oneself. Most mantras are drawn from śruti, used for rites of worship, both public and domestic, as well as personal prayer and japa. It is a remarkable tribute to Hindu culture that so much of śruti was preserved without alteration by means of oral instruction from guru to śishya, generation after generation for thousands of years. In the Veda tradition this was accomplished by requiring the student to learn each verse in eleven different ways, including backwards. Traditionally śruti is not read, but chanted according to extremely precise rules of grammar, pitch, intonation and rhythm. This brings forth its greatest power. In the sacred language of śruti, word and meaning are so closely aligned that hearing these holy scriptures properly chanted is magical in its effect upon the soul of the listener. See: Āgamas, smṛiti, Vedas.
stave off: Push back, impede, prevent from happening.
steadfast: Constant. Firm, established, secure. Not wavering or changeable.
sthapati: स्थपति From stha, “building or place,” and pati, “lord or father.” A master architect of Āgamic temples. A sthapati must be well versed in the Śilpa Śāstras, experienced in all aspects of temple construction, pious, mystically trained, and a good administrator, for he has a team of śilpīs working under him, stone cutters, carvers, sculptors, wood workers, etc. See: Śilpa Śāstras, Stāpatyaveda.
Sthāpatyaveda: स्थापत्यवेद “Science of architecture.” A class of writings on architecture, sometimes classed as one of the Upavedas. It embodies such works as the Mānasāra, the Vāstu Śāstras and the architectural Śilpa Śāstra. See: Upaveda.
sthiti: स्थिति “Preservation.” See: Naṭarāja.
sthūla śarīra: स्थूलशरीर “Gross or physical body.” The odic body. See: actinic, actinodic, kośa, odic, subtle body.
stingy (stinginess): Miserly. Unwilling or reluctant to give or spend.
Stoics: Ancient Greek philosophers who held that all things are governed by natural laws and that the wise follow virtue and remain aloof from the external world and its passions.
straits: A narrow waterway; a difficult, dangerous experience or passage in life.
stranglehold: Any measure that suppresses freedom or thwarts or cuts of life.
stratification: “Making layers.” The process of organizing or arranging in layers or levels.
strī dharma: स्त्रीधर्म “Womanly conduct.” See: dharma.
Subāla Upanishad: सुबाल उपनिषद् Belongs to the Śukla Yajur Veda. A dialog between sage Subala (Subāla) and Brahmā about the Supreme Being as Nārāyaṇa.
subatomic: Of the inner parts of atoms; anything smaller than an atom.
subconscious mind: Saṁskāra chitta. See: aura, conscience, mind (five states).
śubha muhūrta: शुभमुहूर्त “Auspicious time.” A range of time when specified activities are most likely to thrive and succeed. See: muhūrta.
subjective: Personal. Of or colored by the personality, state of mind etc., of the observer (subject). Opposite of objective. Cf: objective.
sublime: Exalted, grand. Inspiring awe or reverence.
subliminal: Below the threshold of consciousness or apprehension, such as an attitude of which one is not aware. Subconscious. See: mind (five states).
Subrahmaṇya: शुब्रह्मण्य “Very pious; dear to holy men.” A Name of Lord Kārttikeya. See: Kārttikeya.
Subramuniyaswami: சுப்பிரமுனியசுவாமி Author of this book, 162nd satguru (1927–2001) of the Nandinātha Sampradāya’s Kailāsa Paramparā. He was ordained Sivaya Subramuniyaswami by Sage Yogaswami on the full-moon day of May 12, 1949, in Jaffna, Sri Lanka, at 6:21 pm. This was just days after he had attained nirvikalpa samādhi in the caves of Jalani. Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami is recognized worldwide as one of foremost Hindu ministers of our times, contributing to the revival of Hinduism in immeasurable abundance. He was simultaneously a staunch defender of traditions, as the tried and proven ways of the past, and a fearless innovator, setting new patterns of life for contemporary humanity. For a brief biography of this remarkable seer and renaissance guru, see About the Author on page 923.
Gurudeva teaches the traditional Śaivite Hindu path to enlightenment, a path that leads the soul from simple service to worshipful devotion to God, from the disciplines of meditation and yoga to the direct knowing of Divinity within. His insights into the nature of consciousness provide a key for quieting the external mind and revealing to aspirants their deeper states of being, which are eternally perfect, full of light, love, serenity and wisdom. He urges all seekers to live a life of ahiṁsā, harmlessness towards nature, people and creatures, an ethic which includes vegetarianism.
The name Subramuniya is a Tamil spelling of the Sanskrit Śubhramunya (not to be confused with Subrahmaṇya). It is formed from śubhra meaning “light; intuition,” and muni, “silent sage.” Ya means “restraint; religious meditation.” Thus, Subramuniya means a self-restrained soul who remains silent or, when he speaks, speaks out from intuition.
subside: To become less active or less intense. To abate.
substance: Essence; real nature.
substratum: “Layer underneath.” In geology, the layer of rock or other matter forming the foundation of a landscape and acting as its support. In philosophy, that which is “underneath,” not visible but the support for all of existence, the substance or underlying force which is the foundation of any and all manifestation: Satchidānanda. See: Parāśakti, Satchidānanda, tattva.
sub-subconscious mind: Vāsanā chitta. See: mind (five states).
subsuperconscious mind: Anukāraṇa chitta. See: kalā, mind, tattvas.
subtle body: Sūkshma śarīra, the nonphysical, astral body or vehicle in which the soul encases itself to function in the Antarloka, or subtle world. The subtle body includes the prāṇamaya, manomaya and vijñānamaya kośas if the soul is physically embodied. It consists of only manomaya and vijñānamaya after death, when prāṇamaya kośa disintegrates. And it consists of only vijñānamaya kośa when manomaya kośa is dropped off just before rebirth or when higher evolutionary planes are entered. Also part of the subtle body are the antaḥkaraṇa (mental faculty: intellect, instinct and ego—buddhi, manas and ahaṁkāra), the five jñānendriyas (agents of perception: hearing, touch , sight , taste and smell); and the five karmendriyas (agents of action: speech, grasping , movement , excretion and generation). See: astral body, indriya, jīva, kośa, reincarnation.
subtle plane: See: loka, three worlds.
successor: A person who follows another, in office or title, as the successor to a satguru or king. —succession: A number of persons or things coming one after another in order; e.g., a spiritual succession. See: guru paramparā.
sūchī: सूची “Needle; sharp point.” An index: that which reveals a book.
śuddha avasthā: शुद्ध अवस्था “Stage of purity.” (Tamil: avasthai.) In Śaiva Siddhānta, the last of three stages of evolution, in which the soul is immersed in Śiva. Self Realization having been attained, the mental body is puriﬁed and thus reflects the divine soul nature, Śiva’s nature, more than in the kevala or sakala state. Now the soul continues to unfold through the stages of realization, and ultimately merges back into its source, the Primal Soul. See: avasthā, evolution of the soul, kevala avasthā, sakala avasthā, viśvagrāsa.
Śuddha Śaiva Siddhānta: शुद्धशैवसिद्धान्त “Pure Śaiva Siddhānta,” a term first used by Tirumular in the Tirumantiram to describe his monistic Śaiva Siddhānta and distinguish it from pluralistic Siddhānta and other forms of Siddhānta that do not encompass the ultimate monism of Vedānta.
śuddhavidyā: शुद्धविद्या “Pure Knowledge.” The fifth tattva in the Śaiva Siddhānta system. See: tattva.
śūdra: शूद्र “Worker, servant.” The social class of skilled artisans, workers and laborers. See: varṇa dharma.
suicide: “Self-killing.” In Sanskrit, prāṇatyāga, “abandoning life force.” Intentionally ending one’s own life through poisoning, drowning, burning, jumping, shooting, etc. Suicide has traditionally been condemned in Hindu scripture because, being an abrupt escape from life, it creates unseemly karma to face in the future. However, in cases of terminal disease or great disability, religious self-willed death through fasting—prāyopaveśa—is permitted. The person making such a decision declares it publicly, which allows for community regulation and distinguishes the act from suicide performed privately in traumatic emotional states of anguish and despair. Ancient lawgivers cite various stipulations: 1) inability to perform normal bodily purification; 2) death appears imminent or the condition is so bad that life’s pleasures are nil; 3) the action must be done under community regulation. The gradual nature of prāyopaveśa is a key factor distinguishing it from sudden suicide, svadehaghata (“murdering one’s body”), for it allows time for the individual to settle all differences with others, to ponder life and draw close to God, as well as for loved ones to oversee the person’s gradual exit from the physical world. In the ideal, highly ritualized practice, one begins by obtaining forgiveness and giving forgiveness. Next a formal vow, mahāvrata-marana, “great vow of death,” is given to one’s guru, following a full discussion of all karmas of this life, especially fully and openly confessing one’s wrongdoings. Thereafter, attention is to be focused on scripture and the guru’s noble teachings. Meditation on the innermost, immortal Self becomes the full focus as one gradually abstains from food. At the very end, as the soul releases itself from the body, the sacred mantra is repeated as instructed by the preceptor. See: death, penance, prāyopaveśa, reincarnation, soul.
Śukla Yajur Veda: शुक्लयजुर्वेद See: Yajur Veda.
sūkshma śarīra: सूक्ष्मशरीर “Subtle body,” or astral body. See: actinic, actinodic, kośa, odic, soul, subtle body.
Śulba Śāstra(s): शुल्बशास्र Practical manuals giving the measurements and procedures for constructing the sites of Vedic yajña rites . A division of the Kalpa Vedāṅga (Veda limb on rituals), these sūtras employ sophisticated geometry and are India’s earliest extant mathematical texts. Śulba means “string or cord,” denoting the use of string for measuring. See: Vedāṅga.
sully (sullied): To make dirty, or impure. See: purity-impurity.
Sundaranatha: சுந்தரநாதா The original name of Nātha Siddha Tirumular before he trekked to South India from the Himalayas. See: Tirumular.
Sundarar: சுந்தரர் One of the four Tamil Samayāchāryas (ca 800), and composer of devotional hymns to God Śiva, which form the seventh book of the Tirumurai. In these, he pleads forthrightly to Śiva for material as well as spiritual abundance. See: Nalvar, Nayanar, Tirumurai.
Śūnya Sampādane: शून्यसंपादने “Gaining of Nothingness.” A primary text of Vīra Śaivism (ca 1550) consisting of debates and writings of the Śiva Śaraṇās. Śūnya: “the void, the distinctionless absolute;” sampādana: “attainment, realization, enlightenment.”
superconscious mind: Kāraṇa chitta. See: kalā, mind (five states), mind (three phases), Satchidānanda, tattva.
supernatural: Beyond or transcending the natural laws of the physical cosmos. Of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible universe, referring to events, agencies or knowledge superseding or mystically explaining the laws of nature. See: mysticism, shamanism.
supplicate (supplication): To ask for humbly. To pray for earnestly.
Suprabheda Āgama: सुप्रभेद आगम One of the 28 Śaiva Siddhānta Āgamas, this scripture discusses temple worship, especially personal devotions, festivals, practices and initiations for each stage of life. A total of 4,666 verses have been preserved from the original scripture.
supreme: Highest in rank, power, authority.
Supreme God: Highest God, the source or creator of all other Gods, beings and all manifestation. See: Naṭarāja, perfections, Śiva.
Surdas (Sūrdās): सूर्दास् Blind North-Indian Vaishṇava poet (ca 1550), famous for his devotional hymns to Lord Kṛishṇa. His massive writing Sūrsagar, “Sur’s Ocean,” is widely read.
surpass: To excel; to be superior to.
surrender: Giving up or yielding. Surrender to the Divine is called prapatti, a complete giving over of oneself to God’s will in total trust and abandonment. See: bhakti, prapatti, sacrifice.
Sūrya: सूर्य “Sun.” One of the principal Divinities of the Vedas, also prominent in the epics and Purāṇas. Śaivites revere Sūrya, the Sun God each morning as Śiva Sūrya. Smārtas and Vaishṇavas revere the golden orb as Sūrya Nārāyaṇa. As the source of light, the sun is the most readily apparent image of Divinity available to man. As the giver of life, Sūrya is worshiped during harvest festivals everywhere. Esoterically, the sun represents the point where the manifest and unmanifest worlds meet or unite. In yoga, the sun represents the masculine force, piṅgalā. Sūrya also signifies the Self within. In the Vedic description of the course of souls after death, the “path of the sun” leads liberated souls to the realm of Brahman; while the path of the moon leads back to physical birth.
sushumṇā nāḍī: सुषुम्णानाडी “Most gracious channel.” Central psychic nerve current within the spinal column. See: kuṇḍalinī, nāḍī, samādhi.
sustainable: Maintainable; able to be kept up or continued consistently over a period of time.
sustenance (to sustain): Support. That which preserves life, or gives strength. Nourishment.
sutala: सुतल “Great abyss.” Region of obsessive jealousy and retaliation. The third chakra below the mūlādhāra, centered in the knees. Corresponds to the third astral netherworld beneath the Earth’s surface, called Saṁhāta (“abandoned”) or Sutala. See: chakra, loka, Naraka..
Sūta Saṁhitā: सूतसंहिता A chapter of the Skānda Purāṇa dealing in part with philosophy.
sūtra: सूत्र “Thread.” An aphoristic verse; the literary style consisting of such maxims. From 500 BCE, this style was widely adopted by Indian philosophical systems and eventually employed in works on law, grammar, medicine, poetry, crafts, etc. Each sūtra is often accompanied by a commentary called bhāshya and sometimes subcommentary called tika, vyakhyana or tippani. Through the media of short, concise, easily memorized sūtras, vast amounts of knowledge were preserved. Reciting relevant sūtra texts from memory is a daily sādhana in various Hindu arts and sciences. Sūtra also names the wife’s wedding pendant (maṅgala sūtra). See: bhāshya, wedding pendant.
svadharma: स्वधर्म “One’s own way.” See: dharma.
svādhishṭhāna: स्वाधिष्ठान “One’s own base.” See: chakra.
svādhyāya: स्वाध्याय “Self-reflection; personal scriptural study.” See: yama-niyama.
svarga: स्वर्ग “Abode of light.” An intermediate realm of the Antarloka; a term essentially synonymous with Svarloka. See: loka.
Svarloka: स्वर्लोक “Celestial (or bright) plane.” The third of the seven upper worlds, the mid-astral region (equated in some texts with Svarga), realm of maṇipūra chakra. See: loka.
Svatmarama (Svātmarāma): स्वात्मराम See: Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā.
svayambhū Liṅga: स्वयम्भूलिङ्ग “Self-existent mark or sign of God.” Names a Śivaliṅga discovered in nature and not carved or crafted by human hands; often a smooth cylindrical stone, called bānaliṅga, such as found in India’s Narmada River. See: Śivaliṅga.
Svāyambhuva Āgama: स्वायम्भुव आगम One of the 28 Śaiva Siddhānta Āgamas. See: Śaiva Āgama.
Svāyambhuva Sūtra(s): स्वायम्भुवसूत्र A subsidiary text of the Śaiva Āgamas.
Śvetāśvatara Upanishad: श्वेताश्वतर उपनिषद् An Upanishad of the Yajur Veda that emphasizes theism—personal God and devotion—and at the same time monism—the unity of God, soul and world. It is valued as a major Upanishad, among the greatest panentheist writings, especially precious to Śaivite schools.
swāmī: स्वामी “Lord; owner; self-possessed.” He who knows or is master of himself. A respectful title for a Hindu monk, usually a sannyāsin, an initiated, orange-robed renunciate, dedicated wholly to religious life. As a sign of respect, the term swāmī is sometimes applied more broadly to include non-monastics dedicated to spiritual work. See: monk, sannyāsa dharma, sannyāsin.
swāminī: स्वामिनी The feminine form of swāmī. See: monastic, nun, sannyāsa, swāmī.
swastika: स्वस्तिक “Sign of auspiciousness.” From su, “wellness,” “auspiciousness” and astu, “be it so.” The ancient Hindu symbol of auspiciousness and good fortune, representing the sun and often associated with Gaṇeśa. The right-angled arms of the swastika denote the indirect way in which Divinity is reached: through intuition and not by intellect. It has been a prominent symbol in many cultures. See: mūrti.
swirl: To move in a whirling, circular motion, like a whirlpool.
symbolism: The representation of one thing by something else. E.g., the ḍamaru, Śiva’s drum, is a symbol of creation.
syncretism: A combination of various beliefs and practices, often of opposing views formed into a one creed or system of belief, typically marked by inconsistencies. See: universalist.
synonymous: Having the same or similar meaning. Quality of two words or phrases whose meanings are identical.
synthesis: A combining of various parts to make a whole.