Living with Śiva


Śabda Kośaḥ

image aadheenakarthar: MjPd­fqj;jq The aa­dhee­nam head, or pontiff, also called the Guru Mahā­san­ni­dhā­nam. See: aadheenam, monastery.§

aadheenam: MjPdk; “Ownership possession, dependence; endowment, foundation, institution,” Śaiva monastery. A Śaivite Hindu monastery and temple complex in the South Indian Śaiva Siddhānta tradition. The aa­dhee­nam head, or pontiff, is called the guru mahā­san­ni­dhānam or aadheena­kar­thar. See: monastery.§

abjure: To give up or renounce, often under oath; to abstain from.§

abortion: Any deliberate procedure that removes or induces the expulsion of an embryo or fetus before it is viable. Not condoned in Hinduism except to save the mother’s life.§

Abrahamic religions: The religions descending from Abraham, a biblical patriarch regarded by Jews as the founder of the Hebrew people through his son Isaac and by Muslims as the founder of the Arab people through his son Ishmael; thus, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.§

Absolute: Lower case (absolute): real, not dependent on anything else, not relative. Upper case (Absolute): Ultimate Reality, the unmanifest, unchanging and transcendent Paraśiva—utterly nonrelational to even the most subtle level of consciousness. It is the Self God, the essence of man’s soul. See: Paraśiva.§

absolution (to absolve): Forgiveness. A freeing from guilt so as to relieve someone from obligation or penalty.—atone: to compensate or make up for a wrongdoing. Atonement can only be done by the person himself, while absolution is granted by others, such as a family head, judge or jury. Exoneration, the taking away of all blame and all personal karmic burden, can only be given by God Śiva. Society would naturally acknowledge and accept this inner transformation by forgiving and forgetting. See: penance, sin.§

abstinence: Voluntary restraint from something undesirable or harmful.§

āchārya: आचार्य “Going toward;” “approaching.” A highly respected teacher. The wise one who practices what he preaches. A title generally bestowed through dīkshā and ordination, such as in the Śivāchārya priest tradition. In the context of this book, a senior swāmī of the Saiva Siddhanta Yoga Order, founded by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami in 1949. Having completed at least 24 years of service under Gurudeva while observing brahmacharya sādhana, these specially ordained swāmīs are the acknowledged examples for younger monks. —ādi āchāryas: Four āchāryas of the Saiva Siddhanta Yoga Order ordained as an ongoing, self-perpetuating group chosen from among the āchāryas to determine the course of the future of the Order and lay membership of Saiva Siddhanta Church. Their major duty is to exemplify the Śaiva ideals and keep the teaching programs and publications purely in line with those of the paramparā and sampradāya.§

actinic: Spiritual, creating light. Adjective derived from the Greek aktis, “ray.” Of or pertaining to consciousness in its pure, unadulterated state. Actinic force is the superconscious mind and not a force which comes from the superconcious mind. Commonly known as life, spirit, it can be seen as the light in man’s eyes; it is the force that leaves man when he leaves his odic physical body behind. It is not opposite to odic force, it is different than odic force as light is different than water but shines through it. Actinic force flows freely through odic force. See: kośa, odic.§

acupuncture: An essential component of traditional Chinese medicine consisting of the practice of puncturing the body with very thin needles, or applying consistent massage pressure (called acupressure) at specific points along established pathways of subtle energy, called meridians, to cure disease, balance energies or relieve pain. Āyurveda has its own system of acupuncture. See: meridian.§

adharma: अधर्म Negative, opposite of dharma. Deeds , thoughts or words that transgress divine law. Unrighteousness, irreligiousness; demerit. See: dharma, sin.§

adultery: Sexual intercourse between a married man or a woman who is not one’s own wife or husband. Adultery is spoken of in Hindu śāstras as a serious breach of dharma. See: sexuality.§

advaita: अद्वैत “Non dual; not twofold.” Nonduality or monism. The philosophical doctrine that Ultimate Reality consists of a one principal substance, or God. Opposite of dvaita , dualism. See: dvaita-advaita, Vedānta .§

Advaita Īśvaravāda: अद्वैत ईश्वरवाद “Nondual and Personal-God-as-Ruler doctrine.” The Sanskrit equivalent of monistic theism. A general term that describes the philosophy of the Vedas and Śaiva Āgamas, which posits simultaneously the ultimate oneness of all things and the reality of the personal Deity. See: Advaita, Advaita Siddhānta, monistic theism.§

Advaita Siddhānta: अद्वैत सिद्धान्त “Nondual ultimate conclusions.” Śaivite philosophy codified in the Āgamas which has at its core the nondual (advaitic) identity of God, soul and world. This monistic-theistic philosophy, unlike the Sankara, or Smārta view, holds that māyā (the principle of manifestation) is not an obstacle to God Realization, but God’s own power and presence guiding the soul’s evolution to perfection. While Advaita Vedānta stresses Upanishadic philosophy, Advaita Siddhānta adds to this a strong emphasis on internal and external worship, yoga sādhanas and tapas. Advaita Siddhānta is a term used in South India to distinguish Tirumular’s school from the pluralistic Siddhānta of Meykandar and Aghoraśiva. This unified Vedic-Āgamic doctrine is also known as Śuddha Śaiva Siddhānta. It is the philosophy on which this text is based. See: Advaita Īśvaravāda, dvaita-advaita , monistic theism, Śaiva Siddhānta.§

Advaita Vedānta: अद्वैत वेदान्त “Nondual end (or essence) of the Vedas.” The nondual final conclusions of the Vedas. Commonly names the various Indian monistic schools, most prominently that of Sankara, that arose from the Upanishads and related texts. See: Vedānta.§

affectionate detachment: The power and wisdom of love born of understanding. Not becoming engrossed in the problems or negative attachments of others. As opposed to “running away” from the world or being insensitively aloof, affectionate detachment allows for more genuine, wholesome relationships with people and things.§

affirmation: Dṛidhavāchana. “Firm statement.” A positive declaration or assertion. A statement repeated regularly while concentrating on the meaning and mental images invoked, often used to attain a desired result.§

affirmation of faith: A brief statement of one’s faith and essential beliefs. See: Anbe Sivamayam Satyame Parasivam.§

Āgama: आगम The tradition that has “come down.” An enormous collection of Sanskrit scriptures which, along with the Vedas, are revered as śruti (revealed scripture) . Dating uncertain. The Āgamas are the primary source and authority for ritual, yoga and temple construction. See: Śaiva Āgamas, śruti.§

agni: अग्नि “Fire.” 1) One of the five elements, pañchabhūta. 2 ) God of the element fire, invoked through Vedic ritual known as yajña, agnikāraka, homa and havana. See: havana, homa.§

ahiṁsā: अहिंसा “Noninjury,” nonviolence or nonhurtfulness. Refraining from causing harm to others, physically, mentally or emotionally. Ahiṁsā is the first and most important of the yamas (restraints). It is the cardinal virtue upon which all others depend. See: yama-niyama.§

ājñā chakra: आज्ञाचक्र “Command wheel.” The third-eye center. See: chakra.§

ākāśa: आकाश “Space.” The sky. Free, open space. Ether, the fifth and most subtle of the five elements—earth, air, fire, water and ether. Empirically, the rarefied space or ethereal fluid plasma that pervades the universes, inner and outer. Esoterically, mind, the superconscious strata holding all that potentially or actually exists, wherein all transactions are recorded and can be read by clairvoyants. It is through psychic entry into this transcendental ākāśa that cosmic knowledge is gathered, and the entire circle of time—past, present and future—can be known.§

all-pervasive: Diffused throughout or existing in every part of the universe. See: Satchidānanda.§

amends: Recompensation, making up for injury or loss caused to another. This is done through sincere apology, expressing regrets, contrition, public penance, such as kavadi, and ample gifts. See: penance.§

anabhidroha: अनभिद्रोह “Absence of injuriousness.”§

ānanda: आनन्द “Bliss.” The pure joy—ecstasy or enstasy—of God-consciousness or spiritual experience. See: God Realization, Satchidānanda.§

ānandamaya kośa: आनन्दमयकोश “Bliss body.” The body of the soul, which ultimately merges with Śiva. See: soul, kośa .§

Anandamayi Ma (Ānandamāyī Mā): आनन्दमायीमा Godly yoginī and mystic Bengali saint known for her purity and sādhanas, including not eating unless fed by her devotees (1896-1982).§

āṇava: आणव “Fragment; atom; minuteness, individuality.” God’s veiling power that provides individualness, or individual ego, to each soul, making the soul seem apart and distinct from God and the universe. See: āṇava mala, evolution of the soul, grace, mala, soul.§

āṇava mala: आणवमल “Impurity of smallness; finitizing principle.” The fetter or individualizing veil of duality that enshrouds the soul. It is the source of finitude and ignorance, the most basic of the three bonds (āṇava, karma, māyā) which temporarily limit the soul. The presence of āṇava mala is what causes the misapprehension about the nature of God, soul and world, the notion of being separate and distinct from God and the universe. See: āṇava, evolution of the soul, grace, mala, soul.§

āṇava mārga: आणवमार्ग “Path of ignorance.” The path of egoity, separateness, self-indulgence, self-interest and selfishness. See: āṇava mala.§

Anbe Sivamayam Satyame Parasivam: அன்பே சிவமயம் சத்தியமே பரசிவம் Tamil for “God Śiva is Immanent Love and Transcendent Reality.” The affirmation of faith which capsulizes the entire creed of monistic Śaiva Siddhānta. In Sanskrit it is Premaiva Śivamaya, Satyam eva Paraśivaḥ.§

anchorite: “Hermit.” A monk or aspirant who lives alone and apart from society, as contrasted with cenobite, a member of a religious order living in a monastery or convent. See: monk.§

animate-inanimate: From the Latin animatus, “to make alive, fill with breath.” These terms indicate the two poles of manifest existence, that which has movement and life (most expressly animals and other “living” beings) and that which is devoid of movement (such as minerals and, to a lesser degree, plants). From a deeper view, however, all existence is alive with movement and possessed of the potent, divine energy of the cosmos.§

aṅkuśa: अंकुश Goad, symbol of Lord Gaṇeśa’s power to remove obstacles from the devotee’s path, and to spur the dullards onward.§

anna dāna: अन्नदान “Giving food.” The Hindu tradition, also called yajña, of holding mass feedings for guest and for the poor. It is a source of great merit, especially if an exceptionally great soul happens to partake of the meal and his hunger is satisfied. See: yama-niyama.§

annaprāśana: अन्नप्राशन “Feeding.” The childhood sacrament of first solid food. See: saṁskāras of childhood.§

Antarloka: अन्तर्लोक “Inner plane,” or “in-between world.” The astral plane, or Second World. See: astral plane .§

Antoinette, Marie (1755-1793): Queen of France from 1774, wife of Louis XVI, and daughter of Maria Theresa and Francis I of Austria. During the French Revolution she and her husband were accused of treason. She was guillotined on October 16, 1793.§

anugraha śakti: अनुग्रहशक्ति “Graceful or favoring power.” Revealing grace. God Śiva’s power of illumination, through which the soul is freed from the bonds of āṇava , karma and māyā and ultimately attains liberation, moksha. Specifically, anugraha descends on the soul as śaktipāta, the dīkshā (initiation) from a satguru. Anugraha is a key concept in Śaiva Siddhānta. It comes when āṇava mala, the shell of finitude which surrounds the soul, reaches a state of ripeness, malaparipāka. See: āṇava, grace, Naṭarāja, śaktinipāta.§

aphorism: A terse and well-qualified, easy-to-remember statement of a truth placed in the subconscious mind.§

āratī: आरती “Light.” The circling or waving of a lamp—usually fed with ghee, camphor or oil—before a holy person or the temple Deity at the high point of pūjā. The flame is then presented to the devotees, each passing his or her hands through it and bringing them to the eyes three times, thereby receiving the blessings. Āratī can also be performed as the briefest form of pūjā. See: archana, pūjā.§

arbitrate: To give a judgment or decision in a dispute; mediate.§

archana: अर्चन A special, personal, abbreviated pūjā done by temple priests in which the name, birthstar and family lineage of a devotee are recited to invoke individual guidance and blessings. Archana also refers to chanting the names of the Deity, which is a central part of every pūjā. See: pūjā.§

ardha- Hindu: अर्धहिन्दु “Half-Hindu.” A devotee who has adopted Hindu belief and culture to a great extent but has not formally entered the religion through ceremony and taking a Hindu first and last name. Also refers to Easterners born into the faith who adopt non-Hindu names.§

ārjava: आर्जव “Honesty.” See: yama-niyama. §

Arjuna: अर्जुन A hero of the Mahābhārata and the central figure of the Bhagavad Gītā. See: Bhagavad Gītā.§

artha: अर्थ “Goal” or “purpose;” wealth, substance, property, money. See: four traditional goals.§

artificial perpetuation of life: See: heroic measures.§

arul: அருள் “Grace.” The third of the three stages of the sakala avasthai when the soul yearns for the grace of God, śaktinipāta. At this stage the soul seeks pati-jñānam, knowledge of God. See: pati-jñānam, sakala avasthā, śaktinipāta.§

āsana: आसन “Seat; posture.” In haṭha yoga, any of numerous poses prescribed to balance and tune up the subtle energies of mind and body for meditation and to promote health and longevity. See: haṭha yoga, rāja yoga, yoga.§

ascetic: A person who leads a life of contemplation and rigorous self-denial, shunning comforts and pleasures for religious purposes. See: monk.§

ashṭāṅga yoga: अष्टाङ्गयोग “Eight-limbed union.” The classical rāja yoga system of eight progressive stages or steps as described in the Yoga Sutras of Sage Patanjali (often termed rāja yoga) and in numerous Hindu scriptures including various Upanishads and the Tirumantiram by Saint Tirumular. The eight limbs are: restraints (yama), observances (niyama), postures (āsana), breath control (prāṇāyāma), sense withdrawal (pratyāhāra), concentration (dhāraṇā), meditation (dhyāna) and contemplation (samādhi/Self Realization). See: rāja yoga, yoga, yama-niyama, āsana, prāṇāyāma, samādhi.§

aspirant: A person who strives for some high achievement.§

aspiration: A desire for some high achievement.§

āśrama: आश्रम “Place of striving.” From śram, “to exert energy.” Hermitage; order of the life. Holy sanctuary; the residence and teaching center of a sādhu, saint, swāmī, ascetic or guru ; often includes lodging for students. Also names life’s four stages. See: āśrama dharma, sādhana.§

āśrama dharma: आश्रमधर्म “Laws of life development.” Meritorious way of life appropriate to each of its four successive stages (āśramas), observing which one lives in harmony with nature and life, allowing the body, emotions and mind to develop and undergo their natural cycles in a most positive way. The four stages are: — 1) brahmacharya: Studentship, from age 12 to 24. — 2) gṛihastha: Householder, from 24 to 48. — 3) vānaprastha: Elder advisor, from 48 to 72. — 4) sannyāsa: Religious solitary, from 72 onward. See: dharma, gṛihastha dharma, sannyāsa dharma.§

asteya: अस्तेय “Nonstealing.” See: yama-niyama.§

āstikya: आस्तिक्य “Faith.” See: faith, śraddhā, yama-niyama.§

astral body: The subtle, nonphysical body (sūkshma śarīra) in which the soul functions in the astral plane, the inner world also called Antarloka. The astral body includes the prāṇic sheath (prāṇamaya kośa), the instinctive-intellectual sheath (manomaya kośa) and the cognitive sheath (vijñānamaya kośa) —with the prāṇic sheath discarded at the death of the physical body.§

astral entity: Any being in the astral plane. See: astral plane.§

astral plane: From the word astral, meaning “of the stars.” Belonging to the subtle, non-physical dimension also known as the Antarloka, or Second World. “Astral forces” exist in the Second World but can be felt psychically in the First. See also: loka, three worlds.§

astral projection: The practice of consciously directing one’s activities when out of the physical body and functioning in the astral body, including the ability to direct attention to and visit other people who are also in their astral body, or visit a remote location, experiencing the activities there and retaining knowledge of such experiences after returning to the state of wakeful, physical consciousness. See: astral plane.§

astral shell: The odic astral form which a soul leaves behind in the astral plane when it enters into a new physical birth. The astral shell soon disintegrates as creative forces generate a new physical and astral body.§

astrology: Science of celestial influences. See: jyotisha.§

aśubha: अशुभ “Inauspicious,” “gloomy.” See: śubha.§

asura: असुर “Evil spirit; demon.” (Opposite of sura: “deva ; God.”) A being of the lower astral plane, Naraka. Asuras can and do interact with the physical plane, causing major and minor problems in people’s lives. Asuras do evolve and do not remain permanently in this state. See: Naraka.§

asuric: Of the nature of an asura, “not spiritual.”§

atala chakra: अतल चक्र “Bottomless region.” The first chakra below the mūlādhāra, at the hip level. Region of fear and lust. See: chakra, Naraka .§

atheism: The rejection of all religion or religious belief, or simply the belief that God or Gods do not exist. See: materialism.§

ātman: आत्मन् “The soul; the breath; the principle of life and sensation.” The soul in its entirety—as the soul body (ānandamaya kośa) and its essence (Parāśakti and Paraśiva). One of Hinduism’s most fundamental tenets is that we are the ātman, not the physical body, emotions, external mind or personality. See: Paramātman, kośa, soul.§

ātmārtha pūjā: आत्मार्थपूजा “Personal worship rite.” Home pūjā— Sanskrit liturgy performed in the home shrine . See: pūjā.§

ātura sannyāsa: आतुरसंन्यास “Renunciation while suffering.” See: sannyāsa.§

attachments: That which one holds onto or clings to with the energy of possessiveness, which is a natural function of the inner and outer ego of an individual. As one unfolds through the chakras, the force of attachment naturally diminishes through sādhana, tapas and the grace of the guru.§

Aum:or औम् Often spelled Om. The mystic syllable of Hinduism, placed at the beginning of most sacred writings. As a mantra, it is pronounced aw (as in law), oo (as in zoo) , mm. Aum represents the Divine, and is associated with Lord Gaṇeśa, for its initial sound “aa,” vibrates within the mūlādhāra, the chakra at the base of the spine upon which this God sits. The second sound of this mantra, “oo,” vibrates within the throat and chest chakras, the realm of Lord Murugan, or Kumāra. The third sound, “mm,” vibrates within the cranial chakras, ājñā and sahasrāra, where the Supreme God, Śiva, reigns.§

aura: The luminous colorful field of subtle energy radiating within and around the human body, extending out from three to seven feet. The colors of the aura change constantly according to the ebb and flow of one’s state of consciousness, thoughts, moods and emotions. Higher, benevolent feelings create bright pastels; base, negative feelings are darker in color. The aura consists of three aspects, the prāṇa-aura, the outer aura and the inner aura. The prāṇa-aura is the reflection of the physical body, the life force. The outer aura extends beyond the physical body and changes continuously, reflecting the individual’s moment-to-moment panorama of thought and emotion .§

Aurobindo Ghosh: A prolific Bengali writer and poet, pantheistic philosopher and yoga mystic, widely known as Sri Aurobindo ( 1872-1950). He perceived the modern global crisis as marking a period of transition from a dark age to a more enlightened one, when Hinduism will play a preponderant role. He founded the Auroville community in Pondichery, based on purṇa (integral) yoga and contributed much to this century’s Hindu revival.§

auspicious: Maṅgala. Favorable, of good omen, foreboding well. One of the central concepts in Hindu life. Astrology defines a method for determining times that are favorable for various human endeavors. See: jyotisha .§

austerity: Self-denial and discipline, physical or mental, performed for various reasons, including acquiring powers (siddhis), attaining grace, conquering the instinctive nature and burning the seeds of past karmas. Ranging from simple deprivations, such as foregoing a meal, to severe disciplines, called tapas, such as always standing, never sitting or lying down, even for sleep. See: penance, tapas.§

Auvaiyar: ஔவையார் A woman saint of Tamil Nadu (ca 800 ce), a contemporary of Saint Sundarar, devotee of Lord Gaṇeśa and Kārttikeya, or Murugan, and one of the greatest literary figures in ancient India. (See Chapter 17 .) Among the most famous are Atti Chudi, Konrai Ventan, Ulaka Niti, Muturai and Nalvali. Her Tamil primer is studied by children to this day. An earlier traditional date for Auvaiyar of 200 bce is from a story about her and Saint Tiruvalluvar.§

avasthā: अवस्था (Tamil: avasthai .) “Condition or state” of consciousness or experience. 1) Any of three stages of the soul’s evolution from the point of its creation to final merger in the Primal Soul. 2) The states of consciousness as discussed in the Māṇḍūkya Upanishad: jāgrat (or vaiśvānara), “wakefulness;” svapna (or taijasa), “dreaming;” sushupti, “deep sleep;” and turīya, “the fourth” state, of superconsciousness. A fifth state, “beyond turīya, ” is turīyātīta. See: kevala avasthā, sakala avasthā, śuddha avasthā .§

avatāra: अवतार “Descent.” A God born in a human (or animal) body. A central concept of Śāktism, Smārtism and Vaishṇavism. See: incarnation, Ishṭa Devatā.§

awareness: Sākshin, or chit. Individual consciousness, perception, knowing; the witness of perception, the “inner eye of the soul.” The soul’s ability to sense, see or know and to be conscious of this knowing. When awareness is indrawn (pratyak chetana), various states of samādhi may occur. Awareness is known in the Āgamas as chitśakti, the “power of awareness,” the inner self and eternal witness. See: consciousness.§

ayanāṁśa: अयनांश “Portion” (aṁśa) of the solstice (ayana), meaning the deviation of the zodiac from the equinoctial position of zero degrees Aries—or the amount of the precession of the equinoxes since the zero degrees Aries vernal equinox, which defines the difference between the Vedic and Western (or tropical) zodiacs. The Western system marks zero degrees Aries at the vernal equinox. The Vedic system adjusts for the precession and marks the (current) vernal equinox at about 6 degrees of the sign of Pisces, or roughly 23 degrees. The exact ayanāṁśa is not known, so a number of ayanāṁśas are put forth by various astronomers and well known astrologers. Lahiri created the official ayanāṁśa approved by the government of India. It counts the beginning of the zodiac as exactly 180 degrees opposite the star Chitra (Alpha Virgo in the Western system, the star Spica). Most older ayanāṁśas are Revati-paksha, or relating to the star Revati.§

āyurveda: आयुर्वेद “Science of life,” “science of longevity.” A holistic system of medicine and health native to ancient India. The aims of āyurveda are āyus, “long life,” and ārogya, “diseaselessness,” which facilitate progress toward ultimate spiritual goals. Health is achieved by balancing energies (especially the doshas, bodily humors) at all levels of being.


image Being: Upper case: God’s essential divine nature—Pure Consciousness, Absolute Reality and Primal Soul (God’s nature as a divine Person). Lower case: the essential nature of a person, that within which never changes; existence. See: Śiva.§

beta testing: The final testing of new computer software, performed by persons other than software developers, before it is released for sale.§

Bhagavad Gītā: भगवद् गीता “The Lord’s Song.” One of the most popular of Hindu writings, a conversation between Lord Kṛishṇa and Arjuna on the brink of the great battle at Kurukshetra. In this central episode of the epic Mahābhārata (part of the Sixth Book) , Kṛishṇa illumines the warrior-prince Arjuna on yoga, asceticism, dharma and the manifold spiritual path. See: Mahābhārata.§

bhajana: भजन Spiritual song. Individual or group singing of devotional songs, hymns and chants.§

bhakta: भक्त (Tamil: Bhaktar .) “Devotee.” A worshiper. One who is surrendered to the Divine. See: bhakti, bhakti yoga, devotee, guru bhakti.§

bhakti: भक्ति “Devotion.” Surrender to God, Gods or guru. Bhakti extends from the simplest expression of devotion to the ego-decimating principle of prapatti, which is total surrender. Bhakti is the foundation of all sects of Hinduism, as well as yoga schools throughout the world. See: bhakti yoga, darśana, prasāda.§

bhakti yoga: भक्तियोग “Union through devotion.” Bhakti yoga is the practice of devotional disciplines, worship, prayer, chanting and singing with the aim of awakening love in the heart and opening oneself to God’s grace. Bhakti may be directed toward God, Gods or guru . Bhakti yoga is embodied in Patanjali’s Yoga Darśana in the second limb, niyamas (observances), as devotion (Īśvarapraṇidhāna).§

bhikku: A Buddhist monk, or any of the first disciples of Buddha.§

Bhojana Mantra: भोजन मन्त्र “Food-blessing chant.” As each meal is served, reciting the food-blessing chant, silently or aloud as a group, is an expression of gratitude, an acknowledgement of food’s ultimate source and an invocation of spiritual benefits. Its recitation prepares one for partaking of the Supreme Lord’s abundance, which should occur in the right state of mind and emotion. Food, the magical source of prāṇa, is an umbilical connection to the cosmos, the lifeline of embodied souls, nature’s means of nourishment. This chant is given in the spirit of a beggar humbly seeking alms. Water—a prāṇic bridge between the subtle and physical universes—is used in four ways in preparing to eat. First the mouth is rinsed. Then water is used to rinse the banana leaf or plate. Water from one’s drinking cup is poured into the right hand to rinse it, as food is, whenever possible, taken with the hand, rather than with chopsticks or fork and spoon. Finally, water is sprinkled in a circle around the food with the right hand, creating a force field of purification and protection and invoking harmony of all five bodily prāṇas. In the South of India, a little bit from each food item is placed on the upper left corner of the plate as an offering to Gaṇeśa before taking one’s first bite.§

bilva: बिल्व Wood-apple (or bael) tree, Aegle marmelos, sacred to Lord Śiva. Its leaves, picked in threes, are offered in the worship of the Śivaliṅga. The delicious fruit when unripe is used medicinally.§

bindu: बिन्दु “A drop, small particle, dot.” Small dot worn on the forehead between the eyebrows, or in the middle of the forehead, made of red powder (kuṅkuma), sandalpaste, clay, cosmetics or other substance. The bindu is known as pottu in Tamil, and as bindi in Hindi. Bindu is also a term for semen. See: tilaka.§

blackmail: Payment extorted to prevent disclosure of information that would bring disgrace or ruin if made public.§

boon: Varadāna. A welcome blessing, a gracious benefit received. An unexpected gift or bonus. See: grace.§

brahmachārī: ब्रह्मचारी An unmarried male spiritual aspirant who practices continence, observes religious disciplines, including sādhana, devotion and service and who may be under simple vows. Names also a young man in the student stage, age 12-24, or until marriage. See: āśrama dharma, monk.§

brahmacharya: ब्रह्मचर्य See: yama-niyama.§

brahmacharya āśrama: ब्रह्मचर्य आश्रम See: āśrama dharma.§

brahmacharya vrata: “Celibacy vow.” The verbal pledge given before members of one’s religious community to remain chaste until marriage, for a specified period of time, or for life. It also includes restraining the base instincts of anger, jealousy, greed, selfishness, etc.§

brahmachāriṇī: ब्रह्मचारिणी Feminine counterpart of brahmachārī.§

Brahmadhvara: ब्रह्मध्वर The door to the seven chakras and the Narakaloka just below the mūlādhāra. In order for the higher chakras to come into power, this door must be shut, making it impossible for fears, hatreds, angers and jealousies to arise. Sādhana and right thought, word and deed are among the aids in this accomplishment. See: Naraka.§

Brahman: ब्रह्मन् “Supreme Being; Expansive Spirit.” From the root bṛih, “to grow, increase, expand.” Name of God or Supreme Deity in the Vedas, where He is described as 1) the Transcendent Absolute, 2) the all-pervading energy and 3) the Supreme Lord or Primal Soul. These three correspond to Śiva in His three perfections. Thus, Śaivites know Brahman and Śiva to be one and the same God: —Nirguṇa Brahman, God “without qualities” (guṇa), i.e., formless, Absolute Reality, Parabrahman, or Paraśiva totally transcending guṇa (quality), manifest existence and even Parāśakti, all of which exhibit perceivable qualities; Saguṇa Brahman, God “with qualities;” Śiva in His perfections of Parāśakti and Parameśvara—God as superconscious, omnipresent, all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful. The term Brahman is not to be confused with 1) Brahmā, the Creator God; 2) Brāhmaṇa, Vedic texts, nor with 3) brāhmaṇa, Hindu priest caste (English spelling: brāhmin). See: Parāśakti, Paraśiva.§

Brahmarandhra: ब्रह्मरन्ध्र See: door of Brahman.§

brāhmin (brāhmaṇa): ब्राह्मण “Mature or evolved soul.” The class of pious souls of exceptional learning. From Brāhman, “growth, expansion, evolution, development, swelling of the spirit or soul.” See: caste.§

bhāshya: भाष्य “Speech, discussion.” Commentary on a text. Hindu philosophies are largely founded upon the interpretations, or bhāshyas, of primary scripture. Other types of commentaries include: vṛitti, a brief commentary on aphorisms; tippani, like a vṛitti but less formal, explains difficult words or phrases; vārttika, a critical study and elaboration of a bhāshya; and tika or vyakhyana, an explanation of a bhāshya or śāstra in simpler language.§

birthstar: See: nakshatra.§

Bṛihadāraṇyaka Upanishad: बृहदारण्यक उपनिषद् One of the major Upanishads, part of the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa of the Yajur Veda. Ascribed to Sage Yājñavalkya, it teaches modes of worship, meditation and the identity of the individual self with the Supreme Self. See: Upanishad.§

Buddha: बुद्ध “The enlightened.” Usually refers to Siddhartha Gautama (ca 624-544 bce), a prince born of the Śākya clan—a Śaivite Hindu tribe that lived in eastern India on the Nepalese border. He renounced the world and became a monk. After his enlightenment he preached the doctrines upon which followers later founded Buddhism. See: Buddhism.§

Buddhism: The religion based on the teachings of Siddhārtha Gautama, known as the Buddha (ca 624–544 bce). He refuted the idea of man’s having an immortal soul and did not preach of any Supreme Deity. Instead he taught that man should seek to overcome greed, hatred and delusion and attain enlightenment through realizing the Four Noble Truths and following the Eightfold Path. See: Buddha.


image caste: A hierarchical system, called varṇa dharma (or jāti dharma), established in India in ancient times, which determined the privileges, status, rights and duties of the many occupational groups, wherein status is determined by heredity. There are four main classes (varṇas) brāhmin, kshatriya, vaiśya and śūdra —and innumerable castes, called jāti. The four varṇas are as follows. —brāhmin (brāhmaṇa): “Mature, evolved soul.” Scholarly, pious souls of exceptional learning. Hindu scriptures traditionally invest the brāhmin class with the responsibility of religious leadership, including teaching and priestly duties. —kshatriya : “Governing; endowed with sovereignty.” Lawmakers and law enforcers and military, also known as rājanya. —vaiśya : “Landowner, merchant.” Businessmen, financiers, industrialists; employers. Those engaged in business, commerce and agriculture. —śūdra : “Worker, servant.” Skilled artisans and laborers.§

Catholicism: The doctrine, system and practice of the Catholic Church; a major Christian denomination.§

celibacy: Complete sexual abstinence. Also the state of a person who has vowed to remain unmarried. Celibacy is abstinence from the eight degrees of sexual activity: fantasy (smaraṇa), glorification (kīrtana), flirtation (keli), glances (prekshaṇa), secret talk (guhya bhāshana), longing (kāma saṁkalpa), rendezvous (adhyavāsāya) and intercourse (kriyā nivṛitti). See: brahmachārī, ojas, tejas, transmutation, yama-niyama.§

cenobite: A member of a monastery community.§

cenobitic: Belonging to a monastery community.§

ceremony: From the Latin caerimonia, “awe; reverent rite.” A formal rite established by custom or authority as proper to special occasions.§

chakra: चक्र “Wheel.” Any of the nerve plexes or centers of force and consciousness located within the inner bodies of man. In the physical body there are corresponding nerve plexuses, ganglia and glands. The seven principal chakras can be seen psychically as colorful, multi-petaled wheels or lotuses. They are situated along the spinal cord from the base to the cranial chamber. The seven principle chakras, from lowest to highest, are: 1) mūlādhāra (base of spine): memory, time and space; 2) svādhishṭhāna (below navel): reason; 3) maṇipūra (solar plexus): willpower; 4) anāhata (heart center): direct cognition; 5) viśuddha (throat): divine love; 6) ājñā (third eye): divine sight; 7) sahasrāra (crown of head): illumination, Godliness. ¶Additionally, seven chakras, barely visible, exist below the spine. They are seats of instinctive consciousness, the origin of jealousy, hatred, envy, guilt, sorrow, etc. They constitute the lower or hellish world, called Naraka or pātāla. From highest to lowest they are 1) atala (hips): fear and lust; 2) vitala (thighs): raging anger; 3) sutala (knees): retaliatory jealousy; 4) talātala (calves): prolonged mental confusion; 5) rasātala (ankles): selfishness; 6) mahātala (feet): absence of conscience; 7) pātāla (located in the soles of the feet): murder and malice. ¶Seven chakras, or conglomerates of nāḍīs, exist within and above the sahasrāra, as the seven levels of the rarified dimensions of paranāda, the first tattva and the highest stratum of sound. From lowest to highest they are: 1) vyāpinī: “all-pervasive;” 2) vyomāṅga: “space-bodied;” 3) anantā: “infinity;” 4) anāthā: having “no master;” 5) anāśṛitā: “independent;” 6) samanā: “uniform, synchronous;” 7) unmanā: “ecstatic, trans-mental.” See: Naraka (also: individual chakra entries).§

chakravāla: चक्रवाल “Circle,” “an assembly.” A circle or gathering of devotees, seated clockwise according to age or seniority in their fellowship. This clear acknowledgement of heirarchy by all parties helps keeps associations and interactions harmonious, as the lines of responsibility, respect or elders and nurturing of those young are clear. When such a group sit together, they send their prāṇas, positive energies, clockwise around the circle for the upliftment of all.§

Çhāndogya Upanishad: छान्दोग्य उपनिषद् One of the major Upanishads, it consists of eight chapters of the Çhāndogya Brāhmaṇa of the Sāma Veda. It teaches the origin and significance of Aum, the importance of the Sāma Veda, the Self, meditation and life after death. See: Upanishad.§

channeling: the practice of serving as a medium through which a spirit guide communicates with living persons.§

charyā: चर्या “Conduct stage.” Stage of service and character building. See: pāda, Śaiva Siddhānta, Śaivism.§

chat room: A virtual place to participate in a real-time computer-to-computer teletype conversation over a network.§

chelā: चेला “Disciple.” (Hindi.) A disciple of a guru; synonym for Sanskrit śishya. The feminine equivalent is chelinā or chelī.§

Chellappaswami: “Wealthy father.” (Also known as Chellapaguru.) Reclusive s iddha and 160th satguru (1840-1915) of the Nandinātha Sampradāya’s Kailāsa Paramparā. Lived on Sri Lanka’s Jaffna peninsula near Nallur Kandaswāmī Temple in a small hut where today there is a small samādhi shrine. Among his disciples was Sage Yogaswami, whom he trained intensely for five years and initiated as his successor. See: Kailāsa Paramparā, Nātha Sampradāya.§

Chettiar: செட்டியார்: The name of the merchant caste of South India and Sri Lanka.§

Chidambaram: சிதம்பரம் “Hall of Consciousness.” A very famous South Indian Śiva Naṭarāja temple. See: Naṭarāja .§

chiropractic: A modern health system which holds that disease results from a lack of normal nerve function and which employs adjustment of body structures, such as the spinal column, as the means of restoration, thus relieving pain, discomfort and disease which result from improper skeletal alignment.§

chlorofluorocarbons: A substance used in refrigeration and air conditioning appliances that is known to deplete Earth’s stratospheric ozone layer and is, in some countries, now illegal and being phased out.§

choga: (Bengali) A long loose men’s shirt, similar to the kurta or kafni.§

Christ: See: Jesus Christ.§

Christian-Judaic: See: Judaic-Christian.§

circadian rhythm: The natural cycle of biological activity or function over an approximate 24-hour period, as well as the movement of subtle energy throughout the body as it is influenced by the rising and setting of the sun. Traditional Chinese medicine establishes that chi, or vital energy, moves from one major meridian to another every two hours, repeating every 24 hours: 11PM-1AM: gall bladder; 1-3AM: liver (during the time of deepest sleep, the liver is most actively cleansing the blood); 3-5AM: lung (in traditional cultures, people wake up and take the first breath of the day during this period); 5-7AM: large intestine (depending upon the quantity of food taken during the day, the first bowel movement usually occurs during this period); 7-9AM: stomach (breakfast is usually taken during this period); 9-11AM: spleen; 11AM-1PM: heart; 1-3PM: small intestine (lunch is usually digested during this period); 3-5PM: bladder; 5-7PM: kidney; 7-9PM: pericardium; 9-11PM: san jiao (“triple warmer”). See: acupuncture, meridian.§

clairaudience: “Clear-hearing.” Psychic or divine hearing, divyaśravana. The ability to hear the inner currents of the nervous system, the Aum and other mystic tones. Hearing in one’s mind the words of inner-plane beings or earthly beings not physically present. Also, hearing the nādanāḍī śakti through the day or while in meditation.§

clairvoyance: “Clear-seeing.” Psychic or divine sight, divyadṛishṭi. The ability to look into the inner worlds and see auras, chakras, nāḍīs, thought forms, non-physical people and subtle forces. See: ākāśa, clairaudience.§

clear white light: See: light.§

clemency: A disposition to show mercy or leniency, especially towards an offender or enemy.§

cloistered: Secluded, as in a monastery.§

cognition: Knowing; perception. Knowledge reached through intuitive, superconscious faculties rather than through intellect alone.§

cognizant: Informed or aware of something.§

cognize: To take notice of something.§

communism: The social and economic system which emerged around the turn of the 20th century in present-day Russia as “a hypothetical stage of socialism, as formulated by Marx, Engels, Lenin and others, to be characterized by a classless and stateless society and the equal distribution of economic goods and to be achieved by revolutionary and dictatorial, rather than gradualistic, means” (Webster’s Dictionary). Communism is proudly atheistic and seeks to liberate mankind from superstition and “spiritual bondage.”§

complacent: Self-satisfied and unconcerned.§

conception: Power to imagine, conceive or create. Moment when a pregnancy is begun, a new earthly body generated.§

confession: An admission, acknowledgement; as of guilt or wrongdoing.§

Confucius: Chinese philosopher and teacher (552-479 BCE), founder of the Confucianist faith, whose Analects contain a collection of his sayings and dialogues. His teachings on social ethics are the basis of Chinese education, and religion.§

conscience: The inner sense of right and wrong, sometimes called “the knowing voice of the soul.” However, the conscience is affected by the individual’s training and belief patterns, and is therefore not necessarily a perfect reflection of dharma. It is the subconscious of the person—the sum total of past impressions and training—that defines the credal structure and colors the conscience and either clearly reflects or distorts superconscious wisdom. See: creed, dharma, mind (individual).§

conscious mind: The external, everyday state of consciousness. See: mind .§

consciousness: Chitta or chaitanya. 1) A synonym for mind-stuff, chitta; or 2) the condition or power of perception, awareness, apprehension. There are myriad of gradations of consciousness, from the simple sentience of inanimate matter to the consciousness of basic life forms, to the higher consciousness of human embodiment, to omniscient states of superconsciousness, leading to immersion in the One universal consciousness, Parāśakti. See: awareness, mind .§

consensualocracy: Government or management by intelligent cooperation, based on a shared vision and adherence to dharma. Ahiṁsā, nonhurtfulness—spiritually, physically, emotionally and mentally—is the keynote of this tribal/family system of rule.§

consummate: Perfect; complete in every way.§

contemplation: Religious or mystical absorption beyond meditation. See: rāja yoga, samādhi.§

contention: Strife, dispute, quarrel.§

contentious: Likely to cause or involving intense debate; quarrelsome.§

Cook, Captain James: British navigator and explorer (1728-1779) who commanded major voyages exploring and claiming many islands of the Pacific Ocean for England in her Christian Colonialist campaign.§

cosmic: Universal; vast. Of, or relating to, the cosmos or entire universe.§

Cosmic Soul: Purusha or Parameśvara. Primal Soul. The Universal Being; Personal God. See: Parameśvara, Primal Soul, purusha, Śiva .§

cosmos: The universe, or whole of creation, especially with reference to its order, harmony and completeness. See: loka, three worlds.§

creation: The act of creating, especially bringing the world into ordered existence. Also, all of created existence, the cosmos. Creation, according to the monistic-theistic view, is an emanation or extension of God, the Creator. It is Himself in another form, and not inherently something other than Him. See: damaru.§

Creator: He who brings about creation. Śiva as one of His five powers. See: creation, Naṭarāja, Parameśvara .§

creed: Śraddhādhāraṇā. An authoritative formulation of the beliefs of a religion. See: conscience.§

cremation: Dahana. Burning of the dead. Cremation is the traditional manner of disposing of bodily remains, having the positive effect of releasing the soul most quickly from any lingering attachment to the earth plane. Note that the remains of enlightened masters are sometimes buried or sealed in a special tomb called a samādhi. This is done in acknowledgement of the extraordinary attainment of such a soul, whose very body, having become holy, is revered as a sacred presence, sānnidhya, and which not infrequently becomes the spiritual seed of a temple or place of pilgrimage. See: reincarnation.§

crown chakra: Sahasrāra chakra. The thousand-petaled cranial center of divine consciousness. See: chakra, sahasrāra chakra.§

crux: The essential, deciding or difficult point. Latin “cross.” Originally a mark indicating a difficult textual problem in books.§

crystal: A mineral, especially a transparent form of quartz, having a crystalline structure.§

crystal-gazing: An occult practice for divining the future by gazing into a crystal ball.§

culminate: To bring to the highest point, to the greatest intensity, or to completion.§

Curie, Madame (Marie Sklodowska Curie, 1867-1934): a Polish chemist and physicist, born in Warsaw. In France, she and her husband Pierre discovered polonium and radium, jointly earning the 1903 Nobel prize in Physics. In 1911 she received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, becoming the first person to be awarded a second Nobel Prize.§

cyberspace: the electronic medium of computer networks in which online communication takes place; the Internet or Web.§

cynical: Scornful of others’ motives or integrity.


imagedakshiṇā: दक्षिण A fee or gift to a priest given at the completion of any rite; also given to gurus as a token of appreciation for their spiritual blessings.§

Dakshiṇāmūrti: दक्षिणामूर्ति “South-facing form.” Lord Śiva depicted sitting under a pīpala (bo) tree, silently teaching four ṛishis at His feet.§

Dalai Lama: The traditional high priest of Tibetan Buddhism, or Lamaism, a spiritual and political authority. The term is Mongolian: dalai, ocean + blama, chief, “preceptor with oceanic wisdom.” An honorary title bestowed by the Mongolian prince Altan Khan on the third head of the Gelukpa school in 1578.§

dāna: दान Generosity, giving. See: yama-niyama.§

Dancing with Śiva: The first book in Gurudeva’s Master Course trilogy. Subtitled Hinduism’s Contemporary Catechism, Dancing is a remarkable sourcebook expounding the Śaivite Hindu outlook on life in the form of questions and answers. It covers every subject on Śaivism, especially the philosophical depths, answers seekers’ questions on the nature of God and the Gods, the soul, dharma, life’s ultimate goal, Hindu denominations, theology, the satguru, temple worship, karma, spiritual unfoldment, the inner worlds, good and evil, the duties of family life, monastic life and more. It is clearly written and lavishly illustrated, expertly woven with 600 verses from the Vedas, Āgamas and other holy texts, 165 South Indian paintings, 40-original graphics, a 40-page timeline of India’s history and a 190-page lexicon of English, Sanskrit and Tamil. Released in 1997.§

darśana: दर्शन “Vision, sight.” Seeing the Divine. Beholding, with inner or outer vision, a temple image, Deity, holy person or place, with the desire to inwardly contact and receive the grace and blessings of the venerated being or beings. Even beholding a photograph in the proper spirit is a form of darśana. Not only does the devotee seek to see the Divine, but to be seen as well, to stand humbly in the awakened gaze of the holy one, even if for an instant, such as in a crowded temple when thousands of worshipers file quickly past the enshrined Lord. Gods and gurus are thus said to “give” darśana, and devotees “take” darśana, with the eyes being the mystic locus through which energy is exchanged. This direct and personal two-sided apprehension is a central and highly sought-after experience of Hindu faith. Also: “point of view,” doctrine or philosophy.§

daśama bhāga vrata: दशमभागव्रत “One-tenth-part vow.” A promise that tithers make before God, Gods and their family or peers to tithe regularly each month, for a specified time, or for life. See also: daśamāṁśa.§

daśamāṁśa: दशमांश “One-tenth sharing.” The traditional Hindu practice of tithing, giving one-tenth of one’s income to a religious institution. It was formerly widespread in India. In ancient times the term makimai was used in Tamil Nadu. See also: daśama bhāga vrata.§

Daśanāmī: दशनामी “Ten names.” Ten monastic orders organized by Adi Sankara (ca 800): Āraṇya, Vāna, Giri, Pārvata, Sāgara, Tīrtha, Āśrama, Bhārati, Pūrī and Sarasvatī. Also refers to sannyāsins of these orders, each of whom bears his order’s name, with ānanda often attached to the religious name. For example, Rāmānanda Tīrtha. Traditionally, each order is associated with one of the main Śaṅkarāchārya pīṭhas. See: Sankara, Smārtism.§

dayā: दया “Compassion.” See: yama-niyama.§

death: The soul’s detaching itself from the physical body and continuing on in the subtle body (sūkshma śarīra) with the same desires, aspirations and activities as when it lived in a physical body. See: reincarnation.§

decadence: Decay. A condition, process or period of declining morals.§

deceit (deception): The act of representing as true what is known to be false. A dishonest action.§

degraded oils: See: oils, degraded.§

Deism: From the Latin, Deus, “God.” A rationalist tradition dating back to English Lord Herbert of Cherbury (d. 1648), who defined the Five Articles of English Deists as: belief in a single supreme God; humanity’s duty to revere God; linkage of worship with practical morality; that God will forgive us if we repent and abandon our sins; good works will be rewarded (and punishment for evil) both in life and after death. Deism rejects reliance on revealed religion, on religious authority and on the infalibility scriptures such as the Bible and the Koran. Deism has no special places of worship, no priesthood and no heirachy of authority. Deism was greatly influential among politicians, scientists and philosophers during the later 17th century and 18th century in England, France, Germany and the United States. Many of America’s founding fathers were Deists, including John Quincy Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington. Deists were instrumental in creating the principle of separation of church and state, and the religious freedom clauses of the First Amendment. Source:§

Deity: “God.” The image or mūrti installed in a temple or the Mahādeva the mūrti represents. See: pūjā.§

delinquent: Failing to do what law or duty requires.§

demon: See: asura.§

deterrent: Something that prevents or discourages action; frightens away.§

detractor: One who takes away from the positive qualities of a group.§

deva: देव “Shining one.” An angelic being living in the higher astral plane, in a subtle, nonphysical body. Deva is also used in scripture to mean “God” or “Deity.” See: Mahādeva.§

Devaloka: देवलोक “Plane of radiant beings.” A synonym of Maharloka, the higher astral plane, realm of anāhata chakra. See: loka.§

Devaram: தேவாரம் The collected devotional hymns composed by Saints Tirujnana Sambandar (ca 600) Tirunavakarasu (Appar), a contemporary of Sambandar, and Sundaramurti (ca 800). These make up the first seven books of the Tirumurai. See: Tirumurai.§

devonic: Angelic, heavenly, spiritual. Of the nature of the higher worlds, in tune with the refined energies of the higher chakras or centers of consciousness. Of or relating to the devas . Implies that something is divinely guided. See: deva.§

devotee: A person strongly dedicated to something or someone, such as to a God or a guru. The term disciple implies an even deeper commitment. See: bhakta, bhakti, guru bhakti.§

devout: Strongly attached to religion or religious obligations. See: bhakti.§

dharma: धर्म “Righteousness.” From dhṛi, “to sustain; carry, hold.” Hence dharma is “that which contains or upholds the cosmos.” Dharma, religion, is a complex and comprehensive term with many meanings, including divine law, law of being, way of righteousness, ethics, duty, responsibility, virtue, justice, goodness and truth. Essentially, dharma is the orderly fulfillment of an inherent nature or destiny. Relating to the soul, it is the mode of conduct most conducive to spiritual advancement, the right and righteous path. There are four principal kinds of dharma, known collectively as chaturdharma: “four religious laws:” 1) ṛita: “Universal law.” The inherent order of the cosmos. 2) varṇa dharma: “Law of one’s kind.” Social duty. 3) āśrama dharma: “Duties of life’s stages.” Human or developmental dharma. The natural process of maturing from childhood to old age through fulfillment of the duties of each of the four stages of life— brahmachārī (student), gṛihastha (householder), vānaprastha (elder advisor) and sannyāsa (religious solitaire). 4) svadharma: “Personal path, pattern or obligation.” One’s perfect individual pattern through life, according to one’s own particular physical, mental and emotional nature. See: four traditional goals.§

dharmaśāla: धर्मशाल “Abode of righteousness.” A monastery or āśrama, offering religious training for monks and in some cases lay persons on pilgrimage or religious retreat. In Living with Śiva, it specifically refers to branch monasteries of Kauai Aadheenam.§

dhotī: धोती (Hindi) A long, unstitched cloth wound about the lower part of the body, and sometimes passed between the legs and tucked into the waist. A traditional Hindu apparel for men.§

dhṛiti: धृति “Steadfastness.” See: yama-niyama.§

diaphragm: The muscular partition between the abdomen and chest cavity, instrumental in breathing.§

diaphragmatic breathing: Deep regulated breathing from the diaphragm, at the solar plexus region, as opposed to the upper chest.§

diaspora: From the Greek, “scattering.” A dispersion of religious or ethnic group(s) to foreign countries, such as the scattering of Jews when driven out of the land of Israel, or Hindus driven from Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh.§

dīfī: (Shūm) The space aspect of the mind. The perspective of space travel, devas and Gods; inner communication. Pronounced dee-fee. See: Shūm , Shūm perspectives.§

dīkshā: दीक्षा “Initiation.” Solemn induction by which one is entered into a new realm of spiritual awareness and practice by a teacher or preceptor through the transmission of blessings. Denotes initial or deepened connection with the teacher and his lineage and is usually accompanied by ceremony. Initiation, revered as a moment of awakening, may be conferred by a touch, a word, a look or a thought. See: grace, śaktinipāta.§

Dīpāvalī: दीपावली “Row of Lights.” A very popular home and community festival during which Hindus of all denominations light oil or electric lights and set off fireworks in a joyful celebration of the victory of good over evil, light over darkness. It is a Hindu solidarity day and is considered the greatest national festival of India. In several countries, including Nepal, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Trinidad and Tobago, it is an inter-religious event and a national holiday. It occurs in October-November.§

disincarnate: Having no physical body; of the astral plane; astral beings. See: astral body, astral plane.§

dissipate: Here, to let loose more than often the vital sexual energies, which must be transmuted in order to make progress in spiritual life . Dissipation occurs through excessive talk, and through loss of the vital fluids, such as through masturbation or excessive intercourse only for pleasure, with no intention of conceiving a child. See: actinic, odic, transmutation.§

dissolution: Dissolving or breaking up into parts. An alternative term for destruction. See: Naṭarāja.§

Divine: Godlike; supremely good or beautiful.§

Divinity: A God, or Deity. Also the spiriuality or holiness that pervades the universe and is most easily felt in the presence of a holy man or in a temple.§

dogma: An authoritative principle, belief, or statement of ideas or opinion, especially one considered to be absolutely true.§

door of Brahman: Brahmarandhra; also called nirvāna chakra. A subtle or esoteric aperture in the crown of the head, the opening of sushumṇā nāḍī through which kuṇḍalinī enters in ultimate Self Realization, and the spirit escapes at death. Only the spirits of the truly pure leave the body in this way. Saṁsārīs take a downward course. See: jñāna, kuṇḍalinī.§

dosai: தோசை An Indian crepe, a crisp, paper-thin pancake, generally made with soaked, slightly fermented ground rice and urad dal, water and spices.§

dowry: Money or property brought by a bride to her husband at marriage. A tradition that exists in most cultures in some form, but which in India has been carried to abusive extremes, where the bride’s family must pay exorbitant sums of money to the groom’s family to buy a husband for their daughter. Dowry is outlawed now in India.§

dross: Rubbish, waste matter; useless byproduct.§

drudgery: Work that may be tedious, menial, hard or unpleasant.§

Druid: An ancient Celtic priest, magician or soothsayer of Britain, Ireland and Gaul (ancient region corresponding roughly to modern-day France and Belgium).§

dual: Having or composed of two parts or kinds.§

dualism: See: dvaita-advaita.§

duality: A state or condition of being dual.§

dvaita-advaita: द्वैत अद्वैत “Dual-nondual; twoness-not twoness.” Among the most important categories in the classification of Hindu philosophies. Dvaita and advaita define two ends of a vast spectrum. —dvaita: The doctrine of dualism, according to which reality is ultimately composed of two irreducible principles, entities, truths, etc. God and soul, for example, are seen as eternally separate. —dualistic: Of or relating to dualism, concepts, writings, theories which treat dualities (good-and-evil, high-and-low, them-and-us) as fixed, rather than transcendable. — pluralism: A form of nonmonism which emphasizes three or more eternally separate realities, e.g., God, soul and world. —advaita: The doctrine of nondualism or monism, that reality is ultimately composed of one whole principle, substance or God, with no independent parts. In essence, all is God. —monistic theism: A dipolar view which encompasses both monism and dualism. See: monistic theism .§

dysfunctional: Abnormal, impaired, not functioning completely.


image ego: The external personality or sense of “I” and “mine.” Broadly, individual identity. In Śaiva Siddhānta and other schools, the ego is equated with the tattva of ahaṁkāra, “I-maker,” which bestows the sense of I-ness, individuality and separateness from God. See: āṇava mala.§

egocentric: Placing one’s own ego in the center of all values and experiences.§

egoism: The tendency to be self-centered; egotism, conceit.§

egoity: Self-interest, selfishness See: āṇava mala .§

egotist: One who is selfish, conceited or boastful.§

Eckhart, Meister Johannes: German theologian (1260-1327) regarded as the founder of Catholic mysticism in Germany. His influential works concern the union of the individual soul with God.§

elastic: Flexible, able to stretch and immediately return to an original length or shape.§

elemental temples: Five temples in South India, each enshrining one of the Pañchatattva Liṅgas, five sacred emblems of Lord Śiva representing the five basic elements: earth (pṛithivī), water (āpas), fire (tejas), air (vāyu) and ether (ākāśa). 1) The Earth Liṅga is enshrined in the Ekambareśvara Temple at Kanchipuram. 2) The Water Liṅga is worshiped at Jambukeśvara Temple in Trichy. 3) The Fire Liṅga is venerated at the Arunchaleśvara Temple in Tiruvannamalai. 4) The Air Liṅga is venerated at the Śrī Kalahasti Temple, north of Tirupati. 5) The Ākāśa Liṅga is enshrined at the stunning Śrī Naṭarāja Temple of Chidambaram.§

emanation: “Flowing out from.” Ābhāsa. Shining forth from a source, emission or issuing from. A monistic doctrine of creation whereby God issues forth manifestation like rays from the sun or sparks from a fire.§

embryo: The early development of a human/animal within the womb, up to the end of the second month. An undeveloped plant within a seed.§

Emerson, Ralph Waldo: American poet, essayist and philosopher (1803-1882), a central figure of American transcendentalism. Enamored of Indian thought, he was instrumental in popularizing the Bhagavad Gītā and the Upanishads in the US.§

eminent: High; above others in stature, rank or achievement. Renowned or distinguished; prominent, conspicuous. Not to be confused with: 1) imminent, about to happen; 2) emanate, to issue from; 3) immanent, inherent or indwelling.§

emkaef: (Shūm) No awareness, state beyond that of singular awareness. Not a word for Self Realization, but the entry into that nonexperience. Pronounced eem-kaw-eef. See: Shūm.§

emotional body: See: kośa.§

enlightened: Having attained enlightenment, Self Realization. A jñānī or jīvanmukta. See: jñāna, Self Realization.§

enlightenment: For Śaiva monists, Self Realization, samādhi without seed (nirvikalpa samādhi); the ultimate attainment, sometimes referred to as Paramātma darśana, or as ātma darśana, “Self vision” (a term which appears in Patanjali’s Yoga Sūtras). Enlightenment is the experience-nonexperience resulting in the realization of one’s transcendent Self, Paraśiva, which exists beyond time, form and space. Each tradition has its own understanding of enlightenment, often indicated by unique terms. See: God Realization, kuṇḍalinī, Self Realization.§

enmity: Active or aggressive, deep-seated hatred or ill will, often mutual between two parties.§

equivocal: Uncertain; undecided; doubtful.§

esoteric: Hard to understand or secret. Teaching intended for a chosen few, as an inner group of initiates. Abtruse or private.§

essence (essential): The most important, ultimate, real and unchanging nature of a thing or being. —essence of the soul: See: ātman, soul.§

eternity: Time without beginning or end.§

ether: Ākāśa. Space, the most subtle of the five elements. See: ākāśa.§

ethereal: Highly refined, light, invisible.§

etheric: Having to do with ether or space.§

ethics: The code or system of morals of a nation, people, philosophy, religion, etc. See: dharma, yama-niyama.§

ethnic: Pertaining to, or designating a large group or groups of people with the same culture, race, religion, or national heritage.§

evil: That which is bad, morally wrong, causing harm, pain, misery. In Western religions, evil is often thought of as a moral antagonism to God. Hindus hold that evil, known in Sanskrit as pāpa, pāpman or dushṭā, is the result of unvirtuous acts (pāpa or adharma) caused by the instinctive-intellectual mind dominating and obscuring deeper, spiritual intelligence. The evil-doer is viewed as a young soul, ignorant of the value of right thought, speech and action, unable to live in the world without becoming entangled in māyā. —intrinsic evil: Inherent, inborn badness. Hinduism holds that there is no intrinsic evil, and the real nature of man is his divine, soul nature, which is goodness. See: hell, karma, pāpa, sin.§

evolution of the soul: Adhyātma prasāra. In Śaiva Siddhānta, the soul’s evolution is a progressive unfoldment, growth and maturing toward its inherent, divine destiny, which is complete merger with Śiva. The soul is not created at the moment of conception of a physical body. Rather, it is created in the Śivaloka. It evolves by taking on denser and denser sheaths—cognitive, instinctive-intellectual and prāṇic— until finally it takes birth in physical form in the Bhūloka. Then it experiences many lives, maturing through the reincarnation process. There are young souls just beginning to evolve, and old souls nearing the end of their earthly sojourn. See: mala, moksha, reincarnation, saṁsāra, viśvagrāsa.§

excruciating: Intensely painful, agonizing.§

existence: “Coming or standing forth.” Being; reality; that which is.§

existentialism: A philosophy that emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of the individual experience in a hostile or indifferent universe, regards human existence as unexplainable, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for the consequences of one’s acts.§

existentialist: Pertaining to, or believing in, the philosophy of existentialism .§

exuberant: Full of unrestrained enthusiasm or joy.


image faith: Trust or belief. Conviction. From the Latin fidere, “to trust.” Faith in its broadest sense means “religion, dharma.” More specifically, it is the essential element of religion—the belief in phenomena beyond the pale of the five senses, distinguishing it sharply from rationalism. Faith is established through intuitive or transcendent experience of an individual, study of scripture and hearing the testimony of the many wise ṛishis speaking out the same truths over thousands of years. This inner conviction is based in the divine sight of the third eye center, ājñā chakra. Rightly founded, faith transcends reason, but does not conflict with reason. Faith also means confidence, as in the testimony and reputation of other people. The Sanskrit equivalent is śraddhā. S ynonyms include āstikya, viśvāsa, dharma and mati.§

family life: See: gṛihastha āśrama, extended family, joint family.§

family practices: See: five family practices.§

fast: To abstain from all or certain foods, as in observance of a vow or holy day. Hindus fast in various ways. A simple fast may consist of merely avoiding certain foods for a day or more, such as when vegetarians avoid tamasic or rajasic foods or when nonvegetarians abstain from fish, fowl and meats. A moderate fast would involve avoiding heavier foods, or taking only juices, teas and other liquids. Such fasts are sometimes observed only during the day, and a normal meal is permitted after sunset. Serious fasting, which is done under supervision, involves taking only water for a number of days and requires a cessation of most external activities.§

fetus: A human/animal embryo more than eight weeks after conception until birth.§

First World: The physical universe, called Bhūloka, of gross or material substance in which phenomena are perceived by the five senses. See: loka.§

five family practices: Pañcha kuṭumba sādhana, or five parenting guidelines. 1) Good Conduct—Dharmachāra: Loving fathers and mothers, knowing they are the greatest influence in a child’s life, behave the way their dear children should when adults. They never anger or argue before young ones. Father in a dhotī, mother in a sārī at home, all sing to God, Gods and guru. 2) Home Worship—Dharma Svagṛiha: Loving fathers and mothers establish a separate shrine room in the home for God, Gods and guardian devas of the family. Ideally it should be large enough for all the dear children. It is a sacred place for scriptural study, a refuge from the karmic storms of life. 3) Talking About Religion—Dharma Sambhāshana: Loving fathers and mothers speak Vedic precepts while driving, eating and playing. This helps dear children understand experiences in right perspective. Parents know many worldly voices are blaring, and their dharmic voice must be stronger. 4) Continuing Self-Study—Dharma Svādhyāya: Loving fathers and mothers keep informed by studying the Vedas , Āgamas and sacred literature, listening to swāmīs and pandits. Youth face a world they will one day own, thus parents prepare their dear children to guide their own future progeny. 5) Following a Spiritual Preceptor—Dharma Saṅga: Loving fathers and mothers choose a preceptor, a traditional satguru, and lineage to follow. They support their lineage with all their heart, energy and service. He in turn provides them clear guidance for a successful life, material and religious.§

five states of mind: The conscious, subconscious, sub-subconscious, subsuperconscious and superconscious mind. See: mind (five states).§

forbearance: Self-control; responding with patience and compassion, especially under provocation. Endurance; tolerance. See: yama-niyama.§

forehead marks: See: tilaka .§

force field: A region of space through which a force, for example, an electric current, is operative. Here the term is used in reference to psychic energies, both positive and negative, that are generated by the emotions, the mind, the higher or lower chakras or emanate from the inner higher or lower worlds. Positive psychic force fields, such as those surrounding and protecting a temple, an ashram or harmonious home, are built up by worship, invoking of the Deities, sādhana, tapas and disciplined living, attracting divine spirits, or devas. Negative force fields, such as found in the worst areas of a city or within an inharmonious home, are built up by anger, violence, lust and outbursts of such lower emotions, attracting evil spirits, or asuras. See: odic, actinic, prāṇa.§

formless: Philosophically, atattva, beyond the realm of form or substance. Used in attempting to describe the wondersome, indescribable Absolute, which is “timeless, formless and spaceless.” God Śiva has form and is formless. He is the immanent Pure Consciousness or pure form. He is the Personal Lord manifesting as innumerable forms; and He is the impersonal, transcendent Absolute beyond all form. Thus we know Śiva in three perfections, two of form and one formless. See: Paraśiva, Satchidānanda.§

four traditional goals: Chaturvarga, “four-fold good,” or purushārtha, “human goals or purposes.” The four pursuits in which humans may legitimately engage, a basic principle of Hindu ethics. 1) 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. See: dharma. 2) 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. See: yajña. 3)   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. 4) 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 in the current or past lives, so that one is no longer attached to worldly joys or sorrows.§

fundamentalism: Any religious creed or philosophical persuasion marked by extreme dogmatism and intolerance. There are fundamentalist denominations within many religions, believing in a literal interpretation of their scripture as the exclusive truth, the one and only way which all souls must follow to attain salvation. Historically, fundamentalism, especially when coupled with evangelical zeal, has led to aggression, even violence, against nonbelievers.


image Gaṇapati: गणपति “Leader of the gaṇas .” A surname of Gaṇeśa.§

Gandhi: गन्धी Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948), the Hindu nationalist leader whose strategy of nonviolent resistance won India’s freedom from British colonial rule. Often honored as Mahātma (“great soul”).§

Gaṇeśa: गणेश “Lord of Categories.” (From gaṇ, “to count or reckon,” and Īśa, “lord.”) Or: “Lord of attendants (gaṇa), ” synonymous with Gaṇapati. Gaṇeśa is a Mahādeva, the beloved elephant-faced Deity honored by Hindus of every sect. He is the Lord of Obstacles (Vighneśvara), revered for His great wisdom and invoked first before any undertaking, for He knows all intricacies of each soul’s karma and the perfect path of dharma that makes action successful. He sits on the mūlādhāra chakra and is easy of access. See: gaṇa, Gaṇapati, Mahādeva.§

Gaṇeśa Chaturthī: गणेश चतुर्थी Birthday of Lord Gaṇeśa, a ten-day festival of August-September that culminates in a spectacular parade called Gaṇeśa Visarjana. It is a time of rejoicing, when all Hindus worship together.§

Gaṅgā sādhana: गंगासाधन A practice for unburdening the mind, performed by releasing the energy of unwanted thoughts. An internal cleansing sādhana of sitting quietly by a river or stream and listening to the Aum sound as the water flows over the rocks. When a thought arises, it is mentally placed into a leaf held in the right hand, then gently tossed into the water. Then a flower is offered to thank the water for carrying away the thought. This is a subconscious cleansing process of letting go of hurts, anger, problems or whatever it is that rises in the mind to disturb the meditation.§

Ganges (Gaṅgā): गंगा India’s most sacred river, 1,557 miles long, arising in the Himalayas above Haridwar under the name Bhagīratha, and being named Gaṅgā after joining the Alakanada (where the Sarasvatī is said to join them underground). It flows southeast across the densely populated Gangetic plain, joining its sister Yamunā (or Jumnā) at Prayaga (Allahabad) and ending at the Bay of Bengal.§

Gangetic: Near to or on the banks of the Ganges river in North India.§

Gangetic abodes of Śiva: Ancient pilgrimage places that devotees strive to visit at least once in a lifetime, including the sacred Viśvanātha Temple of Varanasi (on the banks of the Gaṅgā between the Varaṇā and Asī Rivers); Gaṅgotri Temple at the source of the Ga˜ga (near Kedarnath), and the sacred temples in the cities of Hardwar and Rishikesh.§

garbhagṛiha: गर्भगृह The “innermost chamber,” sanctum sanctorum, of a Hindu temple, where the primary mūrti is installed. It is a small, cave-like room, usually made of granite stone, to which only priests are permitted access. Esoterically it represents the cranial chamber. See: temple.§

gauche: Someone lacking grace or social tack; awkward, clumsy.§

ghee: घी Hindi for clarified butter; ghṛita in Sanskrit. Butter that has been boiled and strained. An important sacred substance used in temple lamps and offered in fire ceremony, yajña. It is also used as a food with many āyurvedic virtues. See: yajña.§

Gibran, Kahlil: Lebanese mystic, poet, dramatist and artist (1888-1931), best known for The Prophet.§

Gītā: गीता “Song.” Foreshortened title of Bhagavad Gītā. See: Bhagavad Gītā.§

gluttony: Excessiveness in eating or drinking.§

God Realization: Direct and personal experience of the Divine within oneself. It can refer to either 1) savikalpa samādhi (“enstasy with form”) in its various levels, from the experience of inner light to the realization of Satchidānanda, the pure consciousness or primal substance flowing through all form, or 2) nirvikalpa samādhi (“enstasy without form”), union with the transcendent Absolute, Paraśiva, the Self God, beyond time, form and space. In The Master Course trilogy, the expression God Realization is used to name both of the above samādhis, whereas Self Realization refers only to nirvikalpa samādhi. See: rāja yoga, samādhi, Self Realization.§

God: Supernal being. Either the Supreme God, Śiva, or one of the Mahādevas, great souls, who are among His creation. See: Gods, Mahādeva, Śiva.§

Gods: Mahādevas, “great beings of light.” The plural of God refers to extremely advanced beings existing in their self-effulgent soul bodies in the causal plane. The meaning of Gods is best seen in the phrase, “God and the Gods,” referring to the Supreme God—Śiva—and the Mahādevas, who are His creation. See: Mahādeva.§

grace: “Benevolence, love, giving,” from the Latin gratia, “favor,” “goodwill.” God’s power of revealment, anugraha śakti (“kindness, showing favor”), by which souls are awakened to their true, Divine nature. Grace in the unripe stages of the spiritual journey is experienced by the devotee as receiving gifts or boons, often unbidden, from God. The mature soul finds himself surrounded by grace. He sees all of God’s actions as grace, whether they be seemingly pleasant and helpful or not. See: śaktinipāta.§

gratification: Indulging in what is desired.§

Great Oath: The Śaiva sannyāsin’s vow of renunciation, the mahāvrata of the Śaivite pathfinders. It is the relinquishment of the world, desire and ego. It is detachment founded in knowledge of the magnetic nature of body, mind and emotion, a knowledge which inclines the soul toward noninvolvement with external forms and, in time, summons forth realization of Paraśiva, Absolute Reality. See: sannyāsa.§

gṛihastha: गृहस्थ “Householder.” Family man or woman. Family of a married couple and other relatives. Pertaining to family life. The purely masculine form of the word is gṛihasthin, and the feminine gṛihasthī. Gṛihasthī also names the home itself. See: āśrama dharma.§

gṛihastha āśrama: गृहस्थ आश्रम “Householder stage.” See: āśrama dharma .§

gṛihastha dharma: गृहस्थधर्म “Householder law.” The virtues and ideals of family life. See: āśrama dharma .§

gross: Dense, coarse, unrefined, crude; carnal, sensual; lacking sensitivity.§

guarantor: A person or corporation that makes or gives assurance or pledge.§

guṇa: गुण “Strand; quality.” The three constituent principles of prakṛiti, primal nature. The three guṇas are: —sattva: “Purity,” quiescent, rarified, translucent, pervasive, reflecting the light of Pure Consciousness. —rajas: “Passion,” inherent in energy, movement, action, emotion, life. —tamas: “Darkness,” inertia, density, the force of contraction, resistance and dissolution. The guṇas are integral to Hindu thought, as all things are composed of the combination of these qualities of nature, including āyurveda, arts, environments and personalities. See: āyurveda.§

guru: गुरु “Weighty one,” indicating an authority of great knowledge or skill. A title for a teacher or guide in any subject, such as music, dance, sculpture, but especially religion. According to the Advayatāraka Upanishad (14-18), guru means “dispeller (gu) of darkness (ru) .” See: guru-śishya system, satguru.§

guru bhakti: गुरुभक्ति Devotion to the teacher. The attitude of humility, love and ideation held by a student in any field of study. In the spiritual realm, the devotee strives to see the guru as his higher Self. By attuning himself to the satguru’s inner nature and wisdom, the disciple slowly transforms his own nature to ultimately attain the same peace and enlightenment his guru has achieved. Guru bhakti is expressed through serving the guru, meditating on his form, working closely with his mind and obeying his instructions. See: guru, satguru, guru-śishya system.§

Gurudeva: गुरुदेव “Divine” or “radiant preceptor.” From guru, “teacher” and deva, “angel.” An affectionate, respectful title for the satguru. See: guru, satguru, deva.§

Guru Mahāsannidhānam: गुरु महासन्निधानम् Spiritual head of a traditional aadheenam. See: aadheenakartar.§

guru paramparā: गुरुपरंपरा “Preceptorial succession” (literally, “from one teacher to another”). A line of spiritual gurus in authentic succession of initiation; the chain of mystical power and authorized continuity, passed from guru to guru. See: sampradāya.§

Guru Pūrṇimā: गुरु पूर्णिमा Occurring on the full moon of July, a day of rededication to all that the guru represents. It is occasioned by pādapūjā —ritual worship of the guru’s sandals, which represent his holy feet. See: guru-śishya system.§

guru-śishya system: गुरुशिष्य “Master-disciple” system. An important educational system of Hinduism whereby the teacher conveys his knowledge and tradition to a student. Such knowledge, whether it be Vedic-Āgamic art, architecture or spirituality, is imparted through the developing relationship between guru and disciple. See: guru, guru bhakti, satguru.§

guruthondu: குருதொண்டு “Service to the guru .” In Living with Śiva , guruthondu refers to the period of service that all young men of Gurudeva’s Śaiva Church are expected to fulfill in a monastery, at least six months and ideally two years, prior to marriage. It also refers to the three-hour period that monastics devote in specific projects, working under the guru’s direction, performed as a personal vigil, preceded and ended with a ceremony in the temple.