Loving Gaṇeśa: Hinduism’s Endearing Elephant-Faced God





Image aadheenam: ஆதினம்; Endowment, foundation, institution, establishment, estate, property. A Śaivite Hindu monastery and temple complex in the South Indian Śaiva Siddhānta tradition. Also known as maṭha or pīṭha, as in Kailāsa Pīṭha. The aadheenam head, or pontiff, is called the Guru Mahāsannidhānam or Aadheenakarthar.§

abhaya mudrā: अभयमुद्रा The hand gesture common in Hindu icons, betokening “fear not,” in which the fingers of the right hand are raised and the palm faces forward. See: mudrā.§

abhimāna: अभिमान “Egoism.”§

abhisheka: अभिषेक “Sprinkling; ablution.” Ritual bathing of the Deity’s image with water, curd, milk, honey, ghee, rosewater, etc. A special form of pūjā prescribed by Āgamic injunction. Also performed in the inauguration of religious and political monarchs and other special blessings. See: pūjā.§

abhyāsa: अभ्यास “Throwing towards.” Dedicated striving and practice.§

ablution: Snāna. A washing of the body, especially as a religious ceremony.§

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. Same as Absolute Being and Absolute Reality.§

abstain: To hold oneself back, to refrain from or doing without. To avoid a desire, negative action or habit.§

abyss: A bottomless pit. The dark states of consciousness into which one may fall as a result of serious misbehavior; the seven chakras (psychic centers) or talas (realms of consciousness) below the mūlādhāra chakra, which is located at the base of the spine. See: chakra, loka.§

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.§

actinic: Spiritual, creating light. Adjective derived from the Greek aktis, “ray.” Of or pertaining to consciousness in its pure, unadulterated state.§

actinodic: Spiritual-magnetic; a mixture of odic and actinic force. Actinic refers to consciousness in its pure, unadulterated state. Odic energy, the force of attraction and repulsion between people, and between people and their things, manifests as masculine (aggressive) and feminine (passive), arising from the piṅgalā and iḍā currents.§

adage: An old saying that has been popularly accepted as truth.§

adept: Highly skilled; expert. In religion, one who has mastered certain spiritual practices or disciplines. An advanced yogī.§

adharma: अधर्म “Unrighteousness.” The opposite of dharma. Thoughts, words or deeds that transgress divine law. Unrighteousness, irreligiousness; demerit. See: dharma, pāpa, sin.§

adhyāya: अघ्याय “Chapter.”§

adopt: To recognize as one’s own, especially an idea, principle, or even a religion and henceforth live with it and by it.§

adulate: To praise, revere, admire or flatter highly.§

advaita: अद्वैत “Non-dual; not two-fold.” Nonduality or monism. The philosophical doctrine that Ultimate Reality consists of a one principal substance, or God. Opposite of dvaita, dualism. Advaita is the primary philosophical stance of the Vedic Upanishads and of Hinduism, interpreted differently by the many ṛishis, gurus, pandits and philosophers.§

adversity: A state of misfortune, difficulty and trouble; the cause of such.§

advocate: To speak or write in support of; to be in favor of.§

affirmation: Dṛiḍhavāchana. “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.§

affliction: Pain; suffering; distress.§

affluence: An abundance of riches; wealth; opulence; plenty.§

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). The Āgamas are the primary source and authority for ritual, yoga and temple construction. Each of the major denominations—Śaivism, Vaishṇavism and Śāktism—has its unique Āgama texts.§

agarbhatti: अगर्भत्ति “Stick incense.” (Gujarati) See: Incense.§

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. The God Agni is the divine messenger who receives prayers and oblations and conveys them to the heavenly spheres. See: yajña.§

ahaṁkāra: अहंकार “I-maker.” Personal ego. The mental faculty of individuation; sense of duality and separateness from others. Sense of “I-ness,” “me” and “mine.” Ahaṁkāra is characterized by the sense of “I-ness” (abhimāna), “mine-ness,” identifying with the body (madīyam), planning for one’s own happiness (mamasukha), brooding over sorrow (mamaduḥkha) and possessiveness (mama idam). See: āṇava mala, ego.§

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.§

ajapa: अजप “Non-recitation.” Silent incantation of a mantra. See: japa.§

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 rarified space or ethereal fluid plasma that pervades the universes, inner and outer. Esoterically, mind, the superconscious strata holding all that exists and all that potentially exists, wherein all happenings 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. See: mind (universal).§

akshata: अक्षत “Unbroken.” Unmilled, uncooked rice, often mixed with turmeric, offered as a sacred substance during pūjā or in blessings for individuals at weddings and other ceremonies. See: pūjā.§

alaṅkāra: अलंकर “Ornamentation.” Adornment worn by the Deity.§

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

amendable: Pliable, willing, open to.§

āmra: आम्र “Mango.”§

amṛita: अमृत “Immortality.” Literally, “without death (mṛita).” The nectar of divine bliss which flows down from the sahasrāra chakra when one enters very deep states of meditation.§

amṛitakumbha: अमृतकुम्भ “Pot of immortality.” This emblem held by loving Gaṇeśa contains the divine amṛita that flows from the sahasrāra chakra during deep meditation. It is the nectar of immortality.§

ananasa: अननस “Pineapple.”§

ānanda: आनन्द “Bliss.” The pure joy, ecstasy or enstasy, of God-consciousness or spiritual experience. In its highest sense, ānanda is expressed in the famous Vedic description of God: Sat-chit-ānanda, “existence-consciousness-bliss”—the divine or superconscious mind of all souls. See: God Realization.§

āṇava mala: आणवमल “Impurity of smallness; finitizing principle.” The 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 and 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: evolution of the soul, grace, mala, soul.§

añjali mudrā: अञ्जलिमुद्रा “Reverence gesture.” Also called praṇāmāñjali. A gesture of respect and greeting, in which the two palms are held gently together and slightly cupped. Often accompanied by the verbal salutation namaskāra, meaning “reverent salutation.” See: mudrā, namaskāra.§

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

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

antaryāmin: अन्तर्यामिन् “Inner controller.” The conscience, the knowing voice of the soul.§

anthology: A choice “flower collection” of prose or poetry excerpts.§

antyeshṭi: अन्त्येष्टि “Last rites.” Funeral. See: death, saṁskāra.§

anubhava: अनुभव “Perception, apprehension; experience.” Personal experience; understanding; impressions on the mind not derived from memory.§

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. See: āṇava mala, grace, Naṭarāja.§

apostate: One who has abandoned what he formerly believed in.§

Appar: அப்பர் “Father.” Endearing name for Tirunavukarasu (ca 700), one of four Tamil saints, Samayāchāryas, who reconverted Śaivites who had embraced Jainism. Calling himself the servant of God’s servants, he composed magnificent hymns in praise of Śiva. See: Nayanar.§

appellative: A name; title.§

Āraṇyaka: आरण्यक “Forest treatise.” Third section of each of the four Vedas. Texts containing esoteric, mystical knowledge, largely on the inner meanings and functions of the Vedic yajña, or fire ceremonies. See: Vedas.§

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.§

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.§

ardent: Intensely enthusiastic or devoted; warm or intense in feeling.§

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.§

arduous: Dificult; requiring much labor, energy or strain.§

artha: अर्थ “Goal” or “purpose;” wealth, substance, property, money. Also has the meaning of utility; desire. See: dharma, purushārtha.§

aruhu grass: அறுகம்புல் Tamil name for a common type of grass sacred to Lord Gaṇeśa, used as an offering in archana and for making wreaths for the Deity image. Also known in Tamil as hariali, in Sanskrit it is called dūrvā, and botanically as Cynodon dactylon. See also: dūrvā.§

Arunagirinathar: அருணகிரிநாதர் South Indian Śaivite poet saint (ca 1500). Also, a title for a respected guru meaning “teacher; master.”§

Ārya: आर्य “Honorable, noble” or “respectable one; a master, lord.”§

āsān: ஆசான் “Teacher; master.” A title of honor for a respected guru.§

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

ash: See: vibhūti.§

ashṭavibhūti: अष्टविभूति “Eight powers.” Supernormal siddhis mentioned in numerous texts: 1) animā: to be as small as an atom; 2) mahimā: to become infinitely large; 3) laghimā: super-lightness, levitation; 4) prāpti: pervasiveness, extension, 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. See also: siddhi.§

Ashṭavināyaka: अष्टविनायक “The Eight [obstacle] removers.” Eight Gaṇeśa mūrtis that attract thousands of pilgrims each year at eight temples in Mahārashṭra on the outskirts of Pune in Morgaon, Thevoor, Siddhatek, Ranjangaon, Ojhar Kshetra, Lenyadhri Cave, Mahad and Pali.§

āśrama: आश्रम “Place of striving.” From śram, “to exert energy.” Hermitage; order of 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.§

āśrama dharma: आश्रमधर्म “Laws of life’s orders.” See: dharma.§

astral: Of the subtle, nonphysical sphere (astral plane) which exists between the physical and causal planes. See also: astral plane.§

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 dropping off at the death of the physical body. See: kośa, soul.§

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.§

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

asura: असुर “Evil spirit; demon.” (Opposite of sura, meaning “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: अतल “Bottomless region.”The first chakra below the mūlādhāra, at the hip level. Region of fear and lust. See: chakra, loka, Naraka.§

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

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, soul.§

ātmārtha pūjā: आत्मार्थपूजा “Personal worship rite.” Home pūjā. See: pūjā.§

atone: To make amends or reconcile. See: pāpa, penance, sin.§

attainment: Acquisition, achievement or realization through effort. Spiritual accomplishment.§

attire: Clothes, especially rich or fine apparel; finery.§

Aum: ॐ or औम् Often spelled Oṁ. The mystic syllable of Hinduism, placed at the beginning of most sacred writings. A symbol of loving Gaṇeśa. As a mantra, it is pronounced aw (as in law), oo (as in zoo), mm. The dot above, called anusvāra, represents the Soundless Sound, Paranāda. In common usage in several Indian languages, aum means “yes, verily” or “hail.” See also: nāda.§

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. See: mind (five states).§

auspicious: Maṅgala. Favorable, of good omen, boding 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 acquiring powers (siddhis), attaining grace, conquering the instinctive nature and burning the seeds of past karmas. 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 “Condition or state” of consciousness or experience.” In Vedic perceptions of consciousness, avasthā refers to four states of being 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.§

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

avidyā: अविद्या Spiritual “ignorance.” Wrongful understanding of the nature of reality. Mistaking the impermanent for the everlasting.§

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. See: consciousness.§

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 Bāla Gaṇapati: बालगणपति A name and traditional mūrti, or image, of Gaṇeśa meaning the “little (or young) one.” He holds five kinds of sweets: banana, mango, sugarcane, jackfruit and modaka.§

bālasthāpana: बालस्थापन “Initial establishing.” The religious rites of firmly determining and blessing the site of a new temple.§

Ballaleśvara: बल्ललेश्वर “Lord of Ballala” [after the name of a young devotee].” The Gaṇeśa mūrti enshrined at the Pali Temple of Mahārāshṭra.§

begrudgingly: Given with ill will or reluctance.§

betoken: To be a token or sign of; indicate; show.§

Bhagnadanta: भग्नदन्त “He of broken tusk.” An epithet of loving Gaṇeśa.§

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

bhakta: भक्त “Devotee.” A worshiper. One who is surrendered to the Divine.§

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 denominations of Hinduism, as well as yoga schools throughout the world. See: bhakti yoga, darśana, prapatti, prasāda, sacrifice, surrender, yajña.§

Bhakti Gaṇapati: भक्तिगणपति “Dear to devotees” is a popular mūrti, unique in that He holds a coconut and a bowl of pudding, mango and banana.§

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 one’s spiritual preceptor. Bhakti yoga is embodied in Patañjali’s Yoga Darśana in the second limb, niyama (observances), as devotion (Īśvarapraṇidhāna). See: prapatti, yajña.§

bhaṅgima: भङ्गिम “Posture.” The position of the limbs, as of a mūrti.§

Bhārata: भारत The ancient and original name of Indian lands and the constitutional name of independent India (Bhārat In Hindi). Also, Bhāratavarsha “land of Bhārata,” a legendary monarch and sage.§

Bhāratkhand: “Land of Bhārat,” India.§

bhāva: भाव Concentrated feeling, emotion, mature bhakti.§

Bhūloka: भूलोक “Earth world.” The physical plane. See: loka.§

bhūmikā: भूमिका “Earth; ground; soil.” Preface; introduction to a book. From bhū, “to become, exist; arise, come into being.”§

bīja mantra: बीजमन्त्र “Seed syllable.” A Sanskrit sound associated with a particular Deity used for invocation during mystic rites.§

bindu: बिन्दु “A drop, small particle, dot.” 1) The seed or source of creation. 2) 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. It is a sign that one is a Hindu. Mystically, it represents the “third eye,” or the “mind’s eye,” which sees things that the physical eyes cannot see. See also: tilaka.§

blessing: Good wishes; benediction. Seeking and giving blessings is extremely central in Hindu life, nurtured in the precepts of kāruṇya (grace), śakti (energy), darśana (encountering/seeing the divine), prasāda (blessed offerings), pūjā (invocation), tīrthayātrā (pilgrimage), dīkshā (initiation), śaktipāta (descent of grace), saṁskāras (rites of passage), sānnidhya (holy presence) and sādhana (inner-attunement disciplines).§

bond (bondage): See: evolution of the soul, mala, pāśa.§

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

bountiful: Giving abundantly and without restraint; plentiful.§

Brahmā: ब्रह्मा The name of God in His aspect of Creator. Śaivites consider Brahmā, Vishṇu and Rudra to be three of five aspects of Śiva. Smārtas group Brahmā, Vishṇu and Śiva as a holy trinity in which Śiva is the destroyer. Brahmā the Creator is not to be confused with 1) Brahman, the Transcendent Supreme of the Upanishads; 2) Brāhmaṇa, Vedic texts; 3) brāhmaṇa, the Hindu priest caste (also spelled brāhmin). See: Brahman, Parameśvara.§

brahmachārī: ब्रह्मचारी “He who is moving in God.” An unmarried male spiritual aspirant who practices continence, observes religious disciplines, including sādhana, devotion and service and who may be under simple vows. Also names one in the student stage (age 12–24, or until marriage). See: āśrama dharma.§

brahmachāriṇī: ब्रह्मचारिणी Feminine counterpart of brahmachārī.§

brahmacharya: ब्रह्मचर्य “Path to God,” or “moving in God.” Sexual purity—restraint of lust and the instinctive nature. See: yama-niyama.§

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. See: Parameśvara, Parāśakti, Paraśiva.§

Brāhmaṇa: ब्राह्मण “Knower of God.” 1) One of four primary sections of each Veda; concerned mainly with details of yajña, or sacrificial fire worship, and specific duties and rules of conduct for priests, but also rich in philosophical lore. 2) The first of the four varṇas, or social classes, comprising pious souls of exceptional learning, including priests, educators and humanity’s visionary guides. Also spelled brāhmin. See: brahmin, varṇa dharma, Vedas.§

Brahmaṇaspati: ब्रह्मणस्पति “Divine artisan.” Lord of the Holy Word.§

Brahmāṇḍa: ब्रह्माण्ड “Egg of God,” or “Cosmic egg.” The cosmos; inner and outer universe. See: loka, three worlds, world.§

brahmarandhra: ब्रह्मरन्ध्र “Door of Brahman.” See: door of Brahman.§

Brahma Sūtra(s): ब्रह्मसूत्र “Threads (aphorisms) of the Absolute.” Also known as the Vedānta Sūtras, composed by Bādarāyaṇa (ca 400 bce) as the first known systematic exposition of Upanishadic thought. Its 550 aphorisms are so brief as to be virtually unintelligible without commentary. It was through interpretations of this text, as well as the Upanishads themselves and the Bhagavad Gītā, that later schools of Vedānta expressed and formulated their own views of the Upanishadic tenets. See: Upanishad, Vedānta.§

brahmin (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.” The mature soul is the exemplar of wisdom, tolerance, forbearance and humility.§

brahminical tradition: The hereditary religious practices of the Vedic brahmins, such as reciting mantras, and personal rules for daily living.§

Bṛihaspati: बृहस्पति “Lord of Prayer.” Vedic preceptor of the Gods and Lord of the Word, sometimes identified with Lord Gaṇeśa. See: Gaṇeśa.§

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

buddhi: बुद्धि “Intellect, reason, logic.” The intellectual or disciplined mind. It is a faculty of manomaya kośa, the instinctive-intellectual sheath. See: intellectual mind, kośa, mind (individual).§

Buddhi and Siddhi: बुद्धि सिद्धि “Wisdom and attainment (or fulfillment);” names of the two symbolic consorts of Lord Gaṇeśa.§

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 also: Buddha.§

Image cajan: Rectangular panels of woven palm fronds used as roof, wall and fencing material.§

camphor:-Karpūra. An aromatic white crystalline solid derived from the wood of camphor trees (or prepared synthetically from pinene), prized as fuel in temple āratī lamps. See: āratī, pūjā.§

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. See also: varṇa dharma.§

causal plane: Highest plane of existence, Śivaloka. See: loka, three worlds.§

celebrant: A person who performs a religious rite.§

celestial: “Of the sky or heavens.” Of or relating to the heavenly regions or beings. Highly refined, divine.§

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

chaitanya: चैतन्य “Spirit, consciousness, especially higher consciousness; Supreme Being.”A widely used term, often preceded by modifiers, e.g., sākshī chaitanya, “witness consciousness,” or bhakti chaitanya, “devotional consciousness,” or Śivachaitanya, “God consciousness.” See: chitta, consciousness, mind (five states).§

chakra: चक्र “Wheel.” A) In iconography, a disk-shaped weapon among the insignia of loving Gaṇeśa (and of Lord Vishṇu as well). It is a symbol of the sun and of the mind. Wielded as a weapon, it is the intellect divinely empowered. B) Metaphysically, any of the nerve plexuses 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. 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. Thus there are 14 major chakras in all. The seven upper 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. The seven lower chakras, from highest to lowest, 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.§

chāmara: चामर Fly-whisk fan.§

chandana: चन्दन “Sandalwood” paste. One of the sacred substances offered during pūjā and afterwards distributed to devotees as a sacrament (prasāda). See: sandalwood.§

chandra: चन्द्र “The moon.” Of central importance in Hindu astrology and in the calculation of the festival calendar. Considered the ruler of emotion.§

Chintāmaṇi: चिन्तामणि “Jewel of consciousness.” The Gaṇeśa mūrti enshrined at the Thevoor Temple near Pune, Mahārāshṭra.§

chit: चित् “Consciousness” or “awareness.” Philosophically, “pure awareness; transcendent consciousness,” as in Sat-chit-ānanda. In mundane usage, chit means “perception; consciousness.” See: awareness, chitta, consciousness, mind (universal).§

chitta: चित्त “Mind; consciousness.” Mind-stuff. On the personal level, it is that in which mental impressions and experiences are recorded. Seat of the conscious, subconscious and superconscious states and of the three-fold mental faculty called antaḥkaraṇa, consisting of buddhi, manas and ahaṁkāra. See: consciousness, mind (individual), mind (universal).§

chūḍākaraṇa: चूडाकरण “Head-shaving sacrament.” See: saṁskāra.§

çhuri: छुरि “Dagger.” A rare weapon among Gaṇeśa’s insignia. Its sharp blade is like the “razor’s edge,” the narrow path spiritual aspirants must walk.§

circumambulation: Pradakshiṇā. Walking around, usually clockwise. See: pradakshiṇā, pūjā.§

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. See: clairvoyance, nāda.§

clairvoyance: “Clear-seeing.” Psychic or divine sight, divyadṛishṭi. The ability to look into the inner worlds and see auras, chakras, nāḍīs, thought forms, nonphysical people and subtle forces. The ability to see from afar or into the past or future—avadhijñāna, “knowing beyond limits.”Also the ability to separate the light that illumines one’s thoughts from the forms the light illumines.§

clear white light: Inner light at a high level of intensity, very clear and pure. When experienced fully, it is seen to be permeating all of existence, the universal substance of all form, inner and outer, pure consciousness, Satchidānanda. This experience, repeated at regular intervals, can yield “a knowing greater than you could acquire at any university or institute of higher learning.” See: Śiva consciousness, tattva.§

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

commitment: Dedication or engagement to a long-term course of action.§

commune: To communicate closely, sharing thoughts, feelings or prayers in an intimate way. To be in close rapport.§

compatible: Capable of combining well; getting along, harmonious.§

compromise: A settlement in which each side gives up some demands or makes concessions; a weakening, as of one’s principles.§

concentration: Uninterrupted and sustained attention.§

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.§

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 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, Paraśakti. Five classical “states” of awareness are discussed in scripture: 1) wakefulness (jāgrat), 2) “dream” (svapna) or astral consciousness, 3) “deep sleep” (sushupti) or subsuperconsciousness, 4) the superconscious state beyond (turīya “fourth”) and 5) the utterly transcendent state called turīyātīta (“beyond the fourth”). See: awareness, chaitanya, chitta, mind (all entries).§

consort: Spouse, especially of a king or queen, God or Goddess. Among the Gods there are actually no sexes or sexual distinctions, though in mythological folk-narratives, Hinduism traditionally represents these great beings in elaborate anthropomorphic depictions. Matrimony and human-like family units among the Gods are derived from educational tales intended to illustrate the way people should and should not live. See: Śakti.§

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

contemplative: Inclined toward a spiritual, religious, meditative way of life.§

contempt: Attitude that considers someone or something as low, worthless.§

continence (continent): Restraint, moderation or, most strictly, total abstinence from sexual activity. See: brahmacharya.§

contradiction: A statement in opposition to another; denial; a condition in which things tend to be contrary to each other.§

convert: To change from one religion or philosophy to another. A person who has so changed.§

covenant: A binding agreement to do or keep from doing certain things.§

covet: To want ardently, especially something belonging to another. To envy.§

cranial chakras: The ājñā, or third-eye center, and the sahasrāra, at the top of the head near the pineal and pituitary glands. See: chakra.§

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

cremation: Dahana. Burning of the dead. Cremation is the traditional system of disposing of bodily remains, having the positive effect of releasing the soul most quickly from any lingering attachment to the earth plane. In modern times, cremation facilities are widely available in nearly every country, though gas-fueled chambers generally take the place of the customary wood pyre.§

creole: Any one of numerous mixed, usually subliterary, languages, such as the French creoles spoken in Louisiana or Mauritius.§

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

Image dāḍima: दाडिम Pomegranate.§

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

dakshiṇāyaṇa: दक्षिणायण “Southern way.” Names the half-year, ayana, beginning with summer solstice, when the sun begins its apparent southward journey.§

dāna: दान “Generosity, giving; gift.” See: yama-niyama.§

daṇḍa: दण्ड “Stick,” or “staff of support.” The staff carried by a sādhu or sannyāsin, representing the tapas which he has taken as his only support, and the vivifying of sushumṇā and consequent Realization he seeks. Daṇḍa also connotes “penalty or sanction.” This sign of authority is one of the emblems of loving Gaṇeśa. See: sannyāsin.§

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. Also: “point of view,” doctrine or philosophy.§

day of Brahmā: One kalpa, or period, in the infinitely recurring periods of the universe’s creation, preservation and dissolution. One day of Brahma is equal to 994 mahāyugas (a mahāyuga is one cycle of the four yugas: Satya, Tretā, Dvāpara and Kali). This is calculated as 4,294,080,000 years. After each day of Brahmān occurs a pralaya (or kalpanta, “end of an eon”), when both the physical and subtle worlds are absorbed into the causal world. This state of withdrawal or “night of Brahmā,” continues for the length of an entire kalpa until creation again issues forth.§

death: Death is a rich concept for which there are many words in Sanskrit, such as mahāprasthāna, “great departure;” samādhimaraṇa, dying consciously while in the state of meditation; mahāsamādhi, “great merger, or absorption,” naming the departure of an enlightened soul. Hindus know death to be 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.§

decorum: Propriety and good taste in behavior, speech, dress, etc.§

deformity: Condition of being disfigured or made ugly in body, mind or emotions.§

Deity: “God.” Can refer to an image or mūrti in a temple or to the Mahādeva the mūrti represents. See: mūrti, pūjā.§

demean: To lower in status or character; degrade.§

demureness: Decorousness, modesty, shyness, reserved manner.§

denomination: A name for a class of things, especially for various religious groupings, sects and subsects. See: guru paramparā, sampradāya.§

deprivations: Forced conditions of loss or neediness.§

destiny: Final outcome. The seemingly inevitable or predetermined course of events. See: karma.§

deter: To keep one from doing something by instilling fear, anxiety, doubt, etc.§

detractor: One who discredits, slanders or disparages someone else.§

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

Devanāgarī: देवनागरी “Divine city [script].” The alphabetic script in which Sanskrit, Prākṛit, Hindi and Marāṭhi are written. A descendant of the Northern type of the Brāhmī script. It is characterized by the connecting, horizontal line at the top of the letters. See also: Sanskrit.§

Devī: देवी “Goddess.” A name of Śakti, used especially in Śāktism. See: Śakti, Śāktism.§

devonic: Angelic, heavenly. Of the nature of the higher worlds, in tune with the refined energies of the higher chakras or centers of consciousness.§

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: guru bhakti, guru-śishya system.§

dhanus: धनुस “Bow.” Anything bow shaped; a weapon for shooting arrows.§

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.§

Dharma Śāstra: धर्मशास्त्र “Religious law book.” A term referring to all or any of numerous codes of Hindu civil and social law composed by various authors. The best known and most respected are those by Manu and Yājñavalkya, thought to have been composed as early as 600 bce. See: Smṛiti.§

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.§

Dhumravarṇa: धुम्रवर्ण “Smoke-colored.” Gaṇeśa’s aspect as the conqueror of abhimāna, pride.§

Ḍhuṇḍhi Gaṇapati: ढुण्ढिगणपति “Gaṇeśa, the sought after,” enshrined in Varāṇasi, having four arms, an axe, prayer beads, tusk and a pot of gems.§

dhvaja: ध्वज “Flag.” Part of the pageantry of Hinduism, orange or red flags and banners, flown at festivals and other special occasions, symbolize the victory of Sanātana Dharma. See: festival.§

dhyāna: ध्यान “Meditation.” See: internalized worship, meditation, rāja yoga.§

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.§

dīkshā: दीक्षा “Initiation.” Solemn induction by which one is entered into a new realm of awareness and practice by a teacher or preceptor through the bestowing of blessings and the transmission of prāṇas. 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. Most Hindu schools, and especially Śaivism, teach that only with initiation from a satguru is enlightenment attainable. Sought after by all Hindus is the dīkshā called śaktipāta, “descent of grace,” which, often coming unbidden, stirs and arouses the mystic kuṇḍalinī force.§

dilute: To change or weaken by mixing with something else.§

dīpastambha: दीपस्तम्भ “Standing light.” A standing lamp found in the temple, shrine room or home. It is made of metal, with several wicks fed by ghee or special oils. Used to light the home and in pūjā, part of temple and shrine altars, the standing lamp is sometimes worshiped as the divine light, Parāśakti or Parajyoti. Returning from the temple and lighting one’s dīpastambha courts the accompanying devas to remain in the home and channels the vibration of the temple sanctum sanctorum into the home shrine. Kuttuvilaku in Tamil.§

discrimination: Viveka. Act or ability to distinguish or perceive differences. In spirituality, the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, real and apparent, eternal and transient.§

divisive: Causing division, especially causing disagreement or dissension.§

docile: Easy to teach, tractable, obedient.§

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.§

dormant: Sleeping; inactive; not functioning.§

dossier: A comprehensive collection of documents about a subject or person.§

doxology: Praising, or gloriying.§

dualism: Opposite of monism. Any doctrine which holds that there are two eternal and distinct realities in the universe, e.g., God-world, good-evil.§

Durga Gaṇapati: दुर्गगणपति The “invincible,” “unconquerable” fortress or stronghold. An eight-armed mūrti distinguished by the flag of victory, bow and arrow and strand of prayer beads.§

dūrvā: दूर्वा A type of grass, also called aruhu and harali, sacred to Gaṇeśa, traditionally offered to Him in pūjā. Cynodon dactylon. See: aruhu grass.§

dvaita-advaita: द्वैत अद्वैत “Dual-nondual; twoness-not twoness.” Among the most important terms 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.§

Dvija Gaṇapati: द्विजगणपति “The twice-born.” A name and traditional mūrti, or form, of Gaṇeśa. He holds a scripture, a staff and a japa mālā, reminding devotees of the need for disciplined striving.§

Dvimukha Gaṇapati: द्विमुखगणपति The unmistakable “double-faced” mūrti of Lord Gaṇeśa. He holds a noose, goad, broken tusk and a pot of gems.§

Imageearrings: Decorative jewelry worn in the ears by Hindu women and many men. Ear-piercing for earrings is said to bring health (right ear) and wealth (left ear).§

ecumenical: General or universal. —ecumenism: the principles or practices of promoting worldwide cooperation and better understanding among differing denominations, especially among Christians. From the Greek oecumene, “the inhabited world.” A Christian term. The broader term interfaith is used by all religions striving for peace and harmony.§

edampuri: एदम्पुरि “Left-turning.” Images of Gaṇeśa in which the trunk is turning to the Deity’s left. This is the common form. Cf: valampuri.§

edict: An official public order issued by an authority.§

effigy: Image, likeness, icon, statue, figure.§

effulgent: Having great brightness; radiance; brilliant; full of light.§

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.§

Ekadanta Gaṇapati: एकदन्तगणपति He of “single tusk” is the four-armed Gaṇeśa mūrti holding axe, beads, laddu (sweet) and His broken tusk.§

Ekākshara Gaṇapati: एकाक्षरगणपति He of “single-syllable” (ंगं gaṁ) sits in lotus pose upon Mūshika, offering the boon-giving gesture, abhaya mudrā.§

eloquent: Vivid, forceful, fluent, graceful and persuasive speech or writing.§

enchantment: A magic spell; a bewitching, captivating power.§

enlightened: Having attained enlightenment, Self Realization. A jñānī or jīvanmukta. See: enlightenment, 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 Patañjali’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. See: God Realization, kuṇḍalinī, Self Realization.§

enmity: Bitter attitude or adverse feelings to an enemy; hostility; antagonism.§

enstasy: A term coined in 1969 by Mircea Eliade to contrast the Eastern view of bliss as “standing inside oneself” (enstasy) with the Western view as ecstasy, “standing outside oneself.” A word chosen as the English equivalent of samādhi. See: rāja yoga, samādhi.§

entanglements: Involvements in difficulty; being tangled or confused.§

ephemeral: Transient, temporary, not lasting.§

epithet: Descriptive name, or title of a Deity.§

equivocal: Uncertain; undecided; doubtful.§

eradicate: To “root out,” destroy, get rid of.§

erukku: Tamil name for flower (Botanically Calotropis) sacred to Lord Gaṇeśa. Erukku flowers are strung together and placed ’round the crown and neck of Gaṇeśa during worship ceremonies, especially at festival times.§

esoteric: Beyond the understanding of all but a few, or the initiated.§

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

ethical restraints: See: yama-niyama.§

ethical observances: See: yama-niyama.§

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

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. In its essence, each soul is ever perfect. But as an individual soul body emanated by God Śiva, it is like a small seed yet to develop. As an acorn needs to be planted in the dark underground to grow into a mighty oak tree, so must the soul unfold out of the darkness of the malas to full maturity and realization of its innate oneness with God. 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. Thus, from birth to birth, souls learn and mature. See: mala, moksha, saṁsāra.§

exemplify: To show by being an example of.§

experience: From the Latin experior, “to prove; put to the test.” Living through an event; personal involvement. In Sanskrit, anubhava. See: anubhava.§

extol: To praise highly; laud.§

Imagefaith: Trust or belief. Conviction. From the Latin fides, “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. The Sanskrit equivalent is śraddhā.§

fast: Abstaining 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 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.§

fellowship: Companionship. Mutual sharing of interests, beliefs or practice. A group of people with common interests and aspirations.§

festival: A time of religious celebration and special observances. Festivals generally recur yearly, their dates varying slightly according to astrological calculations. They are characterized by acts of piety (elaborate pūjās, penance, fasting, pilgrimage) and rejoicing (songs, dance, music, parades, storytelling and scriptural reading).§

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

five classical duties: See: pañcha nitya karmas.§

Five Letters (syllables): See: Namaḥ Śivāya.§

forehead marks: See: bindu, tilaka, tripuṇḍra.§

forestall: Prevent, hinder, obstruct, intercept.§

forfeiting: Losing something due to a crime or fault or neglect of duty.§

four traditional goals: Chaturvarga, “four-fold good,” or purushārtha, “human goals or purposes”—duty (dharma), wealth (artha), love (kāma) and liberation (moksha). See: purushārtha.§

funeral rites: See: cremation.§

Image gādā: गदा “Mace.” A rough-headed club, one of the insignia of Gaṇeśa, representing His power to cast karmas back on devotees until fully resolved.§

gaja: गज The elephant, king of beasts, representative of Lord Gaṇeśa and sign of royalty and power. Many major Hindu temples keep one or more elephants.§

Gajānana: गजानन “Elephant-faced.” A popular name of Gaṇeśa, which appears in the Mudgala Purāṇa, as the vanquisher of lobha, greed.§

Gaṁ Mantra: गंमन्त्र The seed sound, or bīja mantra, of Loving Gaṇeśa. Bīja mantras, being on one syllable, represent the essence of more complex sound combinations. Gaṁ is the root sound within the mūlādhāra chakra.§

gaṇa(s): गण “Number,” hence “throng,” “troop,” “retinue;” a body of followers or attendants.” A troop of demigods—God Śiva’s attendants, devonic helpers under the supervision of Lord Gaṇeśa. See: Gaṇapati, Gaṇeśa.§

Gaṇanāthas: गणनाथ “Lords of hosts.” As a singular, Gaṇanātha refers to Lord Gaṇeśa. Plural, to the many divine beings who help in guiding the flow of consciousness under the direction of the Mahādevas.§

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

Gaṇapati Upanishad: गणपति उपनिषद् A later Upanishad on Lord Gaṇeśa, not connected with any Veda; date of composition is unknown. It is a major scripture for the Gaṇapatians, a minor Hindu sect which reveres Gaṇeśa as Supreme God and is most prevalent in India’s Maharashtra state. See: Gaṇeśa.§

gandha: गन्ध “Smell, odor, fragrance.” Gandha is the fifth of five tanmātrās, “primal substances,” from which the gross elements, mahābhūtas (or pañchbautikas), arise in the evolution of the tattvas. Smell is the tanmātrā corresponding to the earth element, pṛithivī. See: tanmātrā.§

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.§

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

Gaṇeśa Visarjana: गणेश विसर्जन “Gaṇeśa departure.” A parade usually occurring on the 11th day after Gaṇeśa Chaturthī, in which the Gaṇeśa mūrtis made for the occasion are taken in procession to a body of water and ceremoniously immersed and left to dissolve. This represents Gaṇeśa’s merging with the ocean of consciousness. See: Gaṇeśa.§

Ganges (Gaṅgā): गंगा India’s most sacred river, 1,557 miles long, arising in the Himalayas above Hardwar under the name Bhagīratha, and 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.§

Gāritra: गारित्र “Grains.” E.g., wheat or barley.§

gāyatrī: गायत्री According with the gāyatrī verse form, an ancient meter of 24 syllables, generally as a triplet (tercet) with eight syllables each. From gāya, “song.” —Gāyatrī: The Vedic Gāyatrī Mantra personified as a Goddess, mother of the four Vedas.§

Gāyatrī Mantra: गायत्रीमन्त्र 1) Famous Vedic mantra used in pūjā and personal chanting. Oṁ [bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ] tat savitur vareṇyam, bhargo devasya dhīmahi, dhiyo yo naḥ prachodayāt. “[O Divine Beings of all three worlds,] we meditate upon the glorious splendor of the Vivifier divine. May He illumine our minds” (Ṛig Veda 3.62.10, Vedic Experience). This sacred verse is also called the Sāvitrī Mantra, being addressed to Savitri, the Sun as Creator, and is considered a universal mystic formula so significant that it is called Vedamātṛi, “mother of the Vedas.” 2) Any of a class of special tantric mantras called Gāyatrī. Each addresses a particular Deity.§

ghaṇṭā: घण्टा “Bell.” Akin to ghaṇṭ, “to speak.” An important implement in Hindu worship (pūjā), used to chase away asuras and summon devas and Gods. See: pūjā.§

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.§

Girijātmaja: गिरिजात्मज “Born from she who as mountain born.” The Gaṇeśa mūrti enshrined at the Lenyadhri Cave Temple of Mahārāshṭra.§

Goddess: Female representation or manifestation of Divinity; Śakti or Devī. Goddess can refer to a female perception or depiction of a causal-plane being (Mahādeva) in its natural state, which is genderless, or it can refer to an astral-plane being residing in a female astral body. To show the Divine’s transcendence of sexuality, sometimes God is shown as having qualities of both sexes, e.g., Ardhanārīśvara, “Half-woman God;” or Lord Naṭarāja, who wears a feminine earring in one ear and a masculine one in the other.§

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 Loving Gaṇeśa, the expression God Realization is used to name both of the above samādhis, whereas Self Realization refers only to nirvikalpa samādhi. See: samādhi, Self Realization.§

Gods: Mahādevas, “great beings of light.” In Loving Gaṇeśa, the plural form 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.§

goshṭha: गो्षठ “Cow pen; niche.” Also names a small alcove shrine.§

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: prapatti.§

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, prakṛiti, tattva.§

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. For clarity, the term is often preceded by a qualifying prefix. Hence, terms such as kulaguru (family teacher), vīṇāguru (vīṇā teacher) and satguru (spiritual preceptor). According to the Advayatāraka Upanishad (14–18), guru means “dispeller (gu) of darkness (ru).” See: guru bhakti, 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. See: guru, guru-śishya system, satguru.§

guru lineage: See: guru paramparā.§

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. Cf: sampradāya.§

guru-śishya system: गुरुशिष्य “Master-disciple” system. An important educational system of Hinduism whereby the teacher conveys his knowledge and tradition to a student. The principle of this system is that knowledge, especially subtle or advanced knowledge, is best conveyed through a strong human relationship based on ideals of the student’s respect, commitment, devotion and obedience and on personal instruction by which the student eventually masters the knowledge the guru embodies. See: guru, guru bhakti, satguru.§

Image Hanumān: हनुमान् (Hindi) “Large jawed.” The powerful monkey God-King of the epic, Rāmāyaṇa, and the central figure in the famous drama, Hanumān-Nāṭaka. The perfect devoted servant to his master, Rāma, this popular Deity is the epitome of dasya bhakti.§

Hari: हरि “Vishṇu.” See: Brahmā, Vishṇu.§

Haridrā Gaṇapati: हरिद्रागणपति “The golden one” holds four prevalent emblems: noose, goad, tusk and modaka.§

hatḥa yoga: हठयोग “Forceful yoga.” Haṭha yoga is a system of physical and mental exercise developed in ancient times as a means of preparing the body and mind for meditation. See: kuṇḍalinī, nāḍī, yoga.§

heaven: The celestial spheres, including the causal plane and the higher realms of the subtle plane, where souls rest and learn between births, and mature souls continue to evolve after moksha. Heaven is often used by translators as an equivalent to the Sanskrit Svarga. See: loka.§

hell: Naraka. An unhappy, mentally and emotionally congested, distressful area of consciousness. Hell is a state of mind that can be experienced on the plane of physical existence or in the sub-astral plane (Naraka) after the death of the physical body. It is accompanied by the tormented emotions of hatred, remorse, resentment, fear, jealousy and self-condemnation. However, in the Hindu view, the hellish experience is not permanent, but a temporary condition of one’s own making. See: asura, loka.§

Heramba Gaṇapati: हेरम्बगणपति “Protector of the weak” is a five-faced mūrti of Gaṇeśa. He rides a lion and gestures protection and blessing.§

heritage: A tradition passed down from preceding generations.§

higher nature, lower nature: Expressions indicating man’s refined, soulful qualities on the one hand, and his base, instinctive qualities on the other. See: mind (five states).§

Himālayas: हिमालय “Abode of snow.” The mountain system extending along the India-Tibet border and through Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan.§

Hindu: हिन्दु A follower of, or relating to, Hinduism. See: Hinduism.§

Hinduism (Hindu Dharma): हिन्दुधर्म India’s indigenous religious and cultural system, followed today by nearly one billion adherents, mostly in India but with large populations in many other countries. Also called Sanātana Dharma (“Eternal Religion”) and Vaidika Dharma, (“Religion of the Vedas”). Hinduism is the world’s most ancient religion and encompasses a broad spectrum of philosophies ranging from pluralistic theism to absolute monism. It is a family of myriad faiths with four primary denominations: Śaivism, Vaishṇavism, Śāktism and Smārtism. These four hold such divergent beliefs that each is a complete and independent religion. Yet, they share a vast heritage of culture and belief—karma, dharma, reincarnation, all-pervasive Divinity, temple worship, sacraments, manifold Deities, the guru-śishya tradition and a reliance on the Vedas as scriptural authority.§

holy ash: Vibhūti. See: tilaka, tripuṇḍra, vibhūti.§

huṇḍi: हुण्डि “Collection box,” from hun, “to sacrifice.” A strong box inside Hindu temples into which devotees place their contributions.§

Image icçhā śakti: इच्छाशक्ति “Desire; will.” See: Śakti, triśūla.§

icon: A sacred image, usually of God or one of the Gods. English for mūrti. See: mūrti.§

iḍā nāḍī: इडानाडी “Soothing channel.” The feminine psychic current flowing along the spine. See: kuṇḍalinī, nāḍī, piṅgalā.§

ikshukāṇḍa: इक्षुकाण्ड “Sugarcane.”§

ikshukārmuka: इक्षुकार्मुक “Sugarcane bow.” A weapon or emblem held by loving Gaṇeśa.§

immanent: Indwelling; present and operating within. Relating to God, immanent means present in all things and throughout the universe, not aloof or distant.§

immolate: Sacrifice. Offer as sacrifice.§

implore: To ask, beg, beseech or entreat earnestly or pathetically.§

incarnation: From incarnate, “made flesh.” The soul’s taking of repeated physical birth. In some schools, notably Vaishṇavism, God is believed to incarnate in human form to help humanity. This is called avatāra. See: avatāra, reincarnation.§

incense: Dhūpa. Substance that gives off pleasant aromas when burned, usually made from natural derivatives such as tree resin. A central element in Hindu worship rites, waved gently before the Deity as an offering, especially after ablution. Hindi terms include sugandhi and lobāna. A popular term for stick incense is agarbatti (Gujarati). See: pūjā.§

individuality: Quality that makes one person or soul other than, or different from, another. See: ahaṁkāra, āṇava mala, ego, soul.§

Indra: इन्द्र “Ruler.” Vedic God of rain and thunder, warrior king of the devas.§

indriya: इन्द्रिय “Agent, sense organ.” The five agents of perception (jñānendriyas), hearing (śrotra), touch (tvak), sight (chakshus), taste (rasana) and smell (ghṛāṇa); and the five agents of action (karmendriyas), speech (vāk), grasping, by means of the hands (pāṇi), movement (pāda), excretion (pāyu) and generation (upastha). See: kośa, soul, tattva.§

Indus Valley: Region of the Indus River, now in Pakistan, where in 1924 archeologists discovered the remains of a high civilization which flourished between 5000 and 1000 bce. There, a seal was found with the effigy of Śiva as Paśupati, “Lord of Animals,” seated in a yogic posture. Neither the language of these people nor their exact background is known. They related culturally and carried on an extensive trade with peoples of other civilizations far to the West, using sturdy ships that they built themselves. For centuries they were the most advanced civilization on Earth. See: Śaivism.§

initiation (to initiate): Entering into; admission as a member. In Hinduism, initiation from a qualified preceptor is considered invaluable for spiritual progress. Usually the beginning of more advanced learning. See: dīkshā.§

instinctive: “Natural or innate.” From the Latin instinctus, “staff,” “prick;” a participle of instigere, “impelling,” “pricking,” “instigating.” The drives and impulses that order the animal world and the physical and lower astral aspects of humans—for example, self-preservation, procreation, hunger and thirst, and the emotions of greed, hatred, anger, fear, lust and jealousy.§

instinctive mind: Manas chitta. The lower mind, which controls the basic faculties of perception and movement as well as ordinary thought and emotion. Manas chitta is of the manomaya kośa. See: mind (three phases).§

intellect: The faculty of reason and understanding; power of thought; mental acumen. See: buddhi, intellectual mind.§

intellectual mind: Buddhi chitta. The faculty of reason and logical thinking. It is the source of discriminating thought, rather than the ordinary, impulsive thought processes of the lower or instinctive mind, called manas chitta. Buddhi chitta is of the manomaya kośa. See: buddhi, mind (individual).§

internalize: To take something inside of oneself.§

internalized worship: Yoga. Worship or contact with God and Gods via meditation and contemplation rather than through external ritual. This is the yogī’s path, preceded by the charyā and kriyā pādas. See: meditation, yoga.§

intrinsic: Inward, essential; inherent. Belonging to the real nature of a being or thing. —intrinsic evil: See: evil.§

intuition (to intuit): Direct understanding or cognition, which bypasses the process of reason. Intuition is a far superior source of knowing than reason, but it does not contradict reason. See: cognition, mind (five states).§

invincible: That which cannot be overcome; unconquerable.§

invocation (to invoke): A “calling or summoning,” as to a God, saint, etc., for blessings and assistance. Also, a formal prayer or chant. See: mantra.§

ipso facto: “By the fact itself.” A result accomplished by the deed itself, e.g. in some faiths declaring oneself apostate means ipso facto excommunication.§

Iraivan: இறைவன் “Worshipful one; divine one.” One of the most ancient Tamil epithets for God. See: San Mārga Sanctuary.§

Iraivan Temple:-See: San Mārga Sanctuary.§

Īśa: ईश “Ruler, lord or sovereign.”§

Ishṭa Devatā: इष्टदेवता “Cherished or chosen Deity.” The Deity that is the object of one’s special pious attention.§

Itihāsa: इतिहास “So it was.” Epic history, particularly the Rāmāyaṇa and Mahābhārata (of which the famed Bhagavad Gītā is a part). This term sometimes refers to the Purāṇas, especially the Skānda Purāṇa and the Bhāgavata Purāṇa (or Śrīmad Bhāgavatam). See: Mahābhārata, Rāmāyaṇa, smṛiti.§

Image jāgrat: जाग्रत् “Wakefulness.” The state of mind in which the senses are turned outward. Conscious mind. One of four states of consciousness, avasthās, described in the Māṇḍūkya Upanishad. See: avasthā, consciousness.§

jaya: (jai) जय “Victory!”§

Jainism: (Jaina) जैन An ancient non-Vedic religion of India made prominent by the teachings of Mahāvīra (“Great Hero”), ca 500 BCE. The Jain Āgamas teach reverence for all life, vegetarianism and strict renunciation for ascetics. Jains focus great emphasis on the fact that all souls may attain liberation, each by his own effort. Their great historic saints, called Tīrthaṅkaras (“Ford-Crossers”), are objects of worship, of whom Mahāvīra was the 24th and last. Jains number about six million today, living mostly in India.§

jambira: जम्बिर “Lime.”§

jambu: जम्बु “Rose apple.”§

japa: जप “Recitation.” Practice of concentrated repetition of a mantra, often while counting the repetitions on a mālā or strand of beads. It is recommended as a cure for pride and arrogance, anger and jealousy, fear and confusion. It fills the mind with divine syllables, awakening the divine essence of spiritual energies.§

japa mālā: “Garland for incantation.” A strand of beads for holy recitation, japa, usually made of rudrāksha, tulasī, sandalwood or crystal.§

jātakarma: जातकर्म “Rite of birth.” See: saṁskāra.§

jaṭāmukuṭa: जटामुकुट “Crown of matted hair.”§

jāti: जाति “Birth; genus; community or caste.” See: varṇa dharma.§

jīva: जीव “Living, existing.” From jīv, “to live.” The individual soul, ātman, during its embodied state, bound by the three malas (āṇava, karma and māyā). The jīvanmukta is one who is “liberated while living.” See: ātman, evolution of the soul, purusha, soul.§

jñāna: ज्ञान “Knowledge; wisdom.” The matured state of the soul. It is the wisdom that comes as an aftermath of the kuṇḍalinī breaking through the door of Brahman into the realization of Paraśiva, Absolute Reality. Jñāna is the awakened, superconscious state (kāraṇa chitta). It is the fruition of the progressive stages of charyā, kriyā and yoga in the Śaiva Siddhānta system of spiritual unfoldment. See: God Realization, samādhi, Self Realization.§

jñāna pāda: ज्ञानपाद “Stage of wisdom.” Also names the knowledge section of each Āgama. See: jñāna, pāda.§

jñāna śakti: ज्ञानशक्ति “Knowing power.” The universal force of wisdom. See: Śakti, triśūla.§

jñānendriya: ज्ञानेन्द्रिय “Agent of perception.” See: indriya.§

jurisdiction: A sphere of authority; the territorial range of authority.§

jyoti: ज्योति “Light.”§

jyotisha: ज्योतिष From jyoti, “light.” “The science of the lights (or stars).” Hindu astrology, the knowledge and practice of analyzing events and circumstances, delineating character and determining auspicious moments, according to the positions and movements of heavenly bodies. In calculating horoscopes, jyotisha uses the sidereal (fixed-star) system, whereas Western astrology uses the tropical (fixed-date) method.§

Image kadalīphala: कदलीफल “Banana fruit.”§

Kailāsa: कैलास “Crystalline” or “Abode of bliss.” The four-faced Himalayan peak in Western Tibet; the earthly abode of Lord Śiva. Associated with Mount Meru, the legendary center of the universe, it is an important pilgrimage destination for all Hindus as well as for Tibetan Buddhists. Kailāsa is represented in Śāktism by a certain three-dimensional form of the Śrī Chakra yantra (also called kailāsa chakra).§

Kailāsa Paramparā: कैलासपरंपरा “Crystaline lineage.” A spiritual lineage of siddhas, a major stream of the Nandinātha Sampradāya, proponents of the ancient philosophy of monistic Śaiva Siddhānta, of whom Satguru Bodhinatha Veylanswami is the current representative. See also: Yogaswāmī.§

kalaśa: कलश “Pot;” “pitcher,” “jar.” In temple rites, a pot of water, kalaśa, topped with mango leaves and a husked coconut represents the Deity during special pūjās. Kalaśa also names the pot-like spires that adorn temple roofs.§

Kali Yuga: कलियुग “Dark Age.” The Kali Yuga is the last age in the repetitive cycle of four phases of time the universe passes through. It is comparable to the darkest part of the night, as the forces of ignorance are in full power and many of the subtle faculties of the soul are obscured. See: yuga.§

kalpavṛiksha: कल्पवृक्ष “Wish-fulfilling tree.” An important symbol in Hindu theology.§

kāma: काम “Pleasure, love; desire.” Cultural, intellectual and sexual fulfillment. One of four human goals, purushārtha. See: purushārtha.§

kamaṇḍalu: कमण्डलु Small water vessel, such as that carried by sannyāsins.§

kapittha: कपित्थ “On which monkeys dwell.” The wood apple tree, Limonia acidissima, native to the dry plains of India and Ceylon and cultivated along roads and edges of fields and occasionally in orchards. The kapittha fruit, also known as elephant apple, monkey fruit and kath bel, is tough shelled, astringent and renowned for its āyurvedic potencies.§

kāraṇaloka: “The causal plane,” also called Śivaloka, existing deep within the Antarloka at a higher level of vibration, it is a world of superconsciousness and extremely refined energy. See: loka.§

karaṇḍa mukuṭa: करण्ड मुकुट “Basket-shaped crown.” A headdress or crown shaped like a conical basket with the narrow end upwards, often topped with a series of smaller flattened spheres, worn by the Deities.§

karma: कर्म “Action, deed.” One of the most important principles in Hindu thought, karma refers to 1) any act or deed; 2) the principle of cause and effect; 3) a consequence or fruit of action” (karmaphala) or “after effect” (uttaraphala), which sooner or later returns upon the doer. What we sow, we shall reap in this or future lives. Selfish, hateful acts (pāpakarma or kukarma) will bring suffering. Benevolent actions (puṇyakarma or sukarma) will bring loving reactions. Karma is a neutral, self-perpetuating law of the inner cosmos, much as gravity is an impersonal law of the outer cosmos. Karma is threefold: sañchita, prārabdha and kriyamāna. —sañchita karma: (“Accumulated actions.”) The sum of all karmas of this life and past lives. —prārabdha karma: (“Actions begun; set in motion.”) That portion of sañchita karma that is bearing fruit and shaping the events and conditions of the current life, including the nature of one’s bodies, personal tendencies and associations. —kriyamāna karma: (“Being made.”) The karma being created and added to sañchita in this life (or in the inner worlds between lives) by one’s thoughts, words and actions. See: mala, moksha, sin, soul.§

karma yoga: कर्मयोग “Union through action.” Selfless service. See: yoga.§

karmendriya: कर्मेन्द्रिय “Agent of action.” See: indriya.§

karṇavedha: कर्णवेध “Ear-piercing.” See: saṁskāra.§

karpūra: कर्पूर “Camphor.” The white resinous exudation of the camphor tree burned in āratī lamps during pūjā. See: āratī.§

Kārttikeya: कार्त्तिकेय Child of the Pleiades, from Kṛittikā, “Pleiades.” Second son of Śiva, the brother of Gaṇeśa. A great Mahādeva worshiped in all parts of India and the world. Also known as Murugan, Kumāra, Skanda, Shaṇmukhanātha, Subrahmaṇya and more, He is the God who guides that part of evolution which is religion, the transformation of the instinctive into a divine wisdom through yoga. He holds the holy vel of jñāna śakti, His Power to vanquish ignorance.§

karuṇā: करुणा “Compassionate; loving, full of grace.”§

Kauai: Northernmost of the Hawaiian islands; 555 sq. mi., pop. 50,000.§

Kauai Aadheenam: Monastery-temple complex founded by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami in 1970; international headquarters of Śaiva Siddhānta Church.§

kavacha: कवच “Armor; covering.” A decorative mask-like casing, usually made of silver or gold, that adorns the face, hands or entire Deity image.§

kavadi: காவடி A penance offered to Lord Murugan/Kārttikeya, especially during Tai Pusam, consisting of carrying in procession a heavy, beautifully decorated wooden object from which pots of milk hang which are to be used for His abhisheka. The penitent’s tongue and other parts of the body are often pierced with silver spears or hooks. See: penance.§

keśānta: केशान्त “Beard-shaving.” See: saṁskāra.§

khaḍga: खड्ग “Sword.” A powerful symbol in Hindu iconography, depicting the power of the Gods to aid devotees in overcoming human weaknesses.§

kheṭaka: खेटक “Shield.” As a religious emblem, it represents protection, divine security and the upholding of dharma.§

kīrtana: कीर्तन “Praising.” Devotional singing and dancing in celebration of God, Gods and guru. An important form of congregational worship in many Hindu denominations. See: bhajana.§

kolam: கோலம் Traditional household and priestly art of “drawing” intricate decorative patterns at the entrance to a home or temple or at the site of a religious ceremony. Known as raṅgoli in Sanskrit. Kolam designs are made with rice powder mixed to a watery paste, and sometimes with flowers and various-colored powdered pulses.§

konrai: கொன்றை The Golden Shower tree, Cassia fistula; symbol of Śiva’s cascading, abundant, golden grace.§

kośa: कोश “Sheath; vessel, container; layer.” Philosophically, five sheaths through which the soul functions simultaneously in the various planes or levels of existence. —annamaya kośa: “Sheath composed of food;” the physical or odic body. —prāṇamaya kośa: “Sheath composed of prāṇa (vital force);” also known as the prāṇic or health body, or the etheric body or etheric double. —manomaya kośa: “Mind-formed sheath;” the lower astral body (from manas, “thought, will, wish”); the instinctive-intellectual sheath of ordinary thought, desire and emotion. —vijñānamaya kośa: “Sheath of cognition;” the mental or cognitive-intuitive sheath, also called the actinodic sheath. —ānandamaya kośa: “Body of bliss;” the intuitive-superconscious sheath or actinic-causal body. Ānandamaya kośa is not a sheath in the same sense as the four outer kośas. It is the soul itself, a body of light, also called kāraṇa śarīra, causal body, and karmāśaya, holder of karmas of this and all past lives. Ānandamaya kośa is that which evolves through all incarnations and beyond until the soul’s ultimate, fulfilled merger, viśvagrāsa, in the Primal Soul, Parameśvara. Then ānandamaya kośa becomes Śivamayakośa, the body of God Śiva.§

kraal: An enclosure for livestock (Afrikaans).§

Kṛishṇa: कृष्ण “Black.” Also related to kṛishṭiḥ, meaning “drawing, attracting.” One of the most popular Gods of the Hindu pantheon. He is worshiped by Vaishṇavas as the eighth avatāra, incarnation, of Vishṇu. He is best known as the Supreme Personage depicted in the Mahābhārata, and specifically in the Bhagavad Gītā. For Gauḍīya Vaishṇavism, Kṛishṇa is the Godhead.§

kriyā: क्रिया “Action.” In a general sense, kriyā can refer to doing of any kind. Specifically, it names religious action, especially rites or ceremonies. In yoga terminology, kriyā names involuntary physical movements caused by the arousal of the kuṇḍalinī. See: pāda.§

kriyā pāda: क्रियापाद “Stage of religious action; worship.” The stage of worship and devotion, second of four progressive stages of maturation on the Śaiva Siddhānta path of attainment. See: pāda.§

kriyā śakti: क्रियाशक्ति “Action power.” The universal force of doing. See: Śakti, triśūla.§

krodha: क्रोध “Anger.” The emotion of the second chakra below the mūlādhāra, called vitala. Scripture describes it as one of the gates to hell.§

kshatriya: क्षत्रिय “Governing; sovereign.” The social class of lawmakers, law-enforcers and the military. See: varṇa dharma.§

kshetra: क्षेत्र “Place,” “field.” A property or region; often naming a sacred place.§

Kshipra Gaṇapati: क्षिप्रगणपति A name and traditional mūrti, or form, of Gaṇeśa. “He who is immediate” (or quick). He holds a kalpavṛiksha sprig and a pot of gems.§

Kshipra Prasāda Gaṇapati: क्षिप्रप्रसाद गणपति “The quick rewarder” presides from a kusha-grass throne holding pomegranate, noose, goad and more.§

kukarma: कुकर्म “Unwholesome acts” or the fruit therefrom. See: karma, pāpa.§

kulaguru: कुलगुरु “Family preceptor or teacher.” The kulaguru guides the joint and extended family, particularly through the heads of families, and provides spiritual education. He may or may not be a satguru.§

Kulārṇava Tantra: कुलार्णवतन्त्र A leading scripture of the Kaula school of Śāktism. It comprises 17 chapters totaling 2,058 verses which focus on ways to liberation, with notable chapters on the guru-śishya relationship.§

Kumāra: कुमार “Virgin youth; ever-youthful.” A name of Lord Kārttikeya as a perpetual bachelor. See: Kārttikeya.§

kumbha: कुम्भ “Water vessel,” Another name for kalaśa, a pot of water on which a husked coconut is nested on five mango leaves to represent the Deity; integral to certain sacred Hindu rites.§

kumārī: कुमारी “Ever youthful.” A young virgin girl, particularly age 10-12.§

kumbhābhisheka: कुम्भाभिषेक “Water-pot ablution.” The formal consecration of a new temple and its periodic reconsecration, usually at twelve-year intervals, following renovation, extensive cleaning and renewal. The rites culminate with the priests’ pouring sanctified water over the temple spires, which resemble an inverted pot, or kumbha.§

kuṇḍalinī: कुण्डलिनी “She who is coiled; serpent power.” The primordial cosmic energy in every individual which, at first, lies coiled like a serpent at the base of the spine and eventually, through the practice of yoga, rises up the sushumṇā nāḍī. As it rises, the kuṇḍalinī awakens each successive chakra. Nirvikalpa samādhi, enlightenment, comes as it pierces through the door of Brahman at the core of the sahasrāra and enters. See: chakra, samādhi, nāḍī.§

kuṅkuma: कुंकुम “Saffron; red.” The red powder, made of turmeric and lime, worn by Hindus as the pottu, dot, at the point of the third eye on the forehead. Names the saffron plant, Crocus sativus, and its pollen.§

kuttuvilaku: குத்துவிளக்கு A standing lamp (dīpastambha in Sanskrit) found in the temple, shrine room or home. See: dīpastambha.§

Image laḍḍu: लड्डु A sweet made with milk, flour and sugar in South India, and with chickpea flour, ghee and sugar in North India. Lakshmī: लक्ष्मी “Mark or sign,” often of success or prosperity. Śakti, the Universal Mother, as Goddess of wealth. The mythological consort of Vishṇu. Usually depicted on a lotus flower. Prayers are offered to Lakshmī for wealth, beauty and peace. —Dhānya Lakshmī: “Bestower of wealth.” See: Goddess, Śakti.§

Lakshmī Gaṇapati: लक्ष्मीगणपति A name and traditional mūrti, or form, of Gaṇeśa. “Lord of abundance.” Flanked by Wisdom and Achievement (Buddhi and Siddhi) and holds a green parrot, śukhi.§

Lambodara: लम्बोदर “Large belly.” A name of Lord Gaṇeśa cited in the Mudgala Purāṇa as the conqueror of krodha, anger.§

left-handed: Vāma mārga. A term describing certain tantric practices in which the instincts and intellect are transcended and detachment is sought through practices and behavior contrary to orthodox social norms. See: tantra, tantric, tantrism.§

liberation: Moksha, release from the bonds of pāśa, after which the soul is liberated from saṁsāra (the round of births and deaths). In Śaiva Siddhānta, pāśa is the three-fold bondage of āṇava, karma and māyā, which limit and confine the soul to the reincarnational cycle so that it may evolve. Moksha is freedom from the fettering power of these bonds, which do not cease to exist, but no longer have the power to fetter or bind the soul. See: mala, moksha, reincarnation, Self Realization.§

līlā: लीला “Play.” Ease or facility in doing. A term used to describe God’s Divine cosmic drama of creation, preservation, dissolution, concealment and revelation.§

liturgy: The proper, prescribed forms of ritual.§

lobha: लोभ “Greed.” One of the principal obstacles on the path, counteracted by dāna (selfless giving) and aparigraha, greedlessness. See: Gajānana.§

loka: लोक “World, habitat, realm, or plane of existence.” From loc, “to shine, be bright, visible.” A dimension of manifest existence; cosmic region. Each loka reflects or involves a particular range of consciousness. The three primary lokas are 1) —Bhūloka: “Earth world.” The world perceived through the five senses, also called the gross plane, as it is the most dense of the worlds. Sometimes referred to as the First World. 2) —Antarloka: “Inner” or “in-between world.” Known in English as the subtle or astral plane, the intermediate dimension between the physical and causal worlds, where souls in their astral bodies sojourn between incarnations and when they sleep. Also referred to as the Second World. 3) —Śivaloka: “World of Śiva,” and of the Gods and highly evolved souls. The causal plane, also called Kāraṇaloka, existing deep within the Antarloka at a higher level of vibration. It is a world of superconsciousness and extremely refined energy, the plane of creativity and intuition, the quantum level of the universe where souls exist in self-effulgent bodies made of actinic particles of light. It is here that God and Gods move and lovingly guide the evolution of all the worlds and shed their ever-flowing grace. Its vibratory rate is that of the viśuddha, ājñā and sahasrāra chakras and those above. Also referred to as the Third World. See: three worlds.§

lustration: Ritual cleansing.§

Imagemacrocosm: “Great world or universe.” See: microcosm-macrocosm, three worlds.§

madhukumbha: मधुकुम्भ “Honey vessel.”§

madhyama vāk: मध्यमवाक् “Intermediate word.” See: vāk.§

Madurai: City in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu; home of one of the world’s most magnificent Śaivite temples, called Meenakshi-Sundaresvara.§

mahā: महा An adjective or prefix meaning “great.”§

Mahā Gaṇapati: महागणपति “The great one.” A classical mūrti accompanied by one of His śaktis. He holds a pomegranate, blue lily and a pot of gems.§

Mahābhārata: महाभारत “Great Epic of India.” The world’s longest epic poem. It revolves around the conflict between two royal families, the Pāṇḍavas and Kauravas, and their great battle of Kurukshetra near modern Delhi in approximately 1424 BCE. Woven through the plot are countless discourses on philosophy, religion, astronomy, cosmology, polity and economics as well as many stories illustrative of simple truths and ethical principles. The Bhagavad Gītā is one section of the work. The Mahābhārata is revered as scripture by Vaishṇavites and Smārtas. See: Bhagavad Gītā.§

Mahādeva: महादेव “Great shining one; God.” Referring either to God Śiva or any of the highly evolved beings who live in the Śivaloka in their natural, effulgent soul bodies. God Śiva in His perfection as Primal Soul is one of the Mahādevas, yet He is unique and incomparable in that He alone is uncreated, the Father-Mother and Destiny of all other Mahādevas. He is called Parameśvara, “Supreme God.” He is the Primal Soul, whereas the other Gods are individual souls. See: Gods, Parameśvara, Śiva.§

mahākāraṇa: महाकारण The Great Causality.” See: vāk.§

mahāparaśu: महापरशु “Great axe.”§

mahāpralaya: महाप्रलय “Great dissolution.” Total annihilation of the universe at the end of a mahākalpa. It is the absorption of all existence, including time, space and individual consciousness, all the lokas and their inhabitants into God Śiva, as the water of a river returns to its source, the sea. Then Śiva alone exists in His three perfections, until He again issues forth creation. During this incredibly vast period there are many partial dissolutions, pralayas, when either the Bhūloka and/or the Antarloka are destroyed.§

mahārāja: महाराज “Great king.” Indian monarch. Title of respect for political or (in modern times) spiritual leaders.§

Mahārāshṭra: महाराष्ट्र Central state of modern India whose capital is Mumbai (Bombay). Area 118,717 square miles, population 63 million.§

mahāsamādhi: महासमाधि “Great enstasy.” The death, or dropping off of the physical body, of a great soul, an event occasioned by tremendous blessings. Also names the shrine in which the remains of a great soul are entombed. —Mahāsamādhi day names the anniversary of a great soul’s transition. See also: cremation, death.§

mahātala: महातल “Vast netherworld.” The sixth lowest astral world. Region of consciencelessness. See: chakra.§

mahātmā: महात्मा “Great soul.” Honorific title given to people held in high esteem, especially saints. See: ātman.§

mahāvākya: महावाक्य “Great saying.” An aphorism from scripture or a holy person. Most famous are four Upanishadic proclamations: Prajñānam Brahma (“Pure consciousness is God”—Aitareya U.), Aham Brahmāsmi (“I am God”—Bṛihadāraṇyaka U.), Tat tvam asi (“Thou art That”—Çhandogya U.) and Ayam ātma Brahma (“The soul is God”—Māṇḍūkya U.).§

Mahodara: महोदर “Big-bellied.” Gaṇeśa’s aspect as the dispeller of moha, infatuation or delusion.§

mala: मल “Impurity.” An important term in Śaivism referring to three bonds, called pāśa—āṇava, karma, and māyā—which limit the soul, preventing it from knowing its true, divine nature. See: liberation, pāśa.§

mālā: माला “Garland.” A strand of beads for holy recitation, japa, usually made of rudrāksha, tulasī, sandalwood or crystal. Also a flower garland.§

mamatā: ममता “Egoity, self-interest, selfishness.”§

manas: मनस् “Mind; understanding.” The lower or instinctive mind, seat of desire and governor of sensory and motor organs, called indriyas. Manas is termed the undisciplined, empirical mind. Manas is characterized by desire, determination, doubt, faith, lack of faith, steadfastness, lack of steadfastness, shame, intellection and fear. It is a faculty of manomaya kośa, the lower astral or instinctive-intellectual sheath. See: awareness, indriya, instinctive mind, kośa, mind (individual).§

maṇḍapa: मण्डप From maṇḍ, “to deck, adorn.” Temple precinct; a temple compound, open hall or chamber. In entering a large temple, one passes through a series of maṇḍapas, each named according to its position, e.g., mukhamaṇḍapa, “front chamber.” In some temples, maṇḍapas are concentrically arranged. See: temple.§

mandira: मन्दिर “Abode.” A temple or shrine; sanctuary. See: temple.§

Māṇḍūkya Upanishad: माण्डूक्य उपनिषद् A “principal” Upanishad (belonging to the Atharva Veda) which, in 12 concise verses, teaches of Aum and the four states (avasthā) of awareness: waking (viśva), dreaming (taijasa), dreamless sleep (prājña) and transcendent, spiritual consciousness (turīya).§

maṇipūra chakra: मणिपूरचक्र “Wheeled city of jewels.” Solar-plexus center of willpower. See: chakra.§

Manikkavasagar: மாணிக்கவாசகர் “He of ruby-like utterances.” Tamil saint who contributed to the medieval Śaivite renaissance (ca 850). He gave up his position as prime minister to follow a renunciate life. His poetic Tiruvasagam, “Holy Utterances”—a major Śaiva Siddhānta scripture (part of the eighth Tirumurai) and a jewel of Tamil literature—express his aspirations, trials and yogic realizations.§

mānsāhārī: मांसाहारी “Meat-eater.” Those who follow a non-vegetarian diet. See: meat-eater, vegetarian.§

mantra: मन्त्र “Mystic formula.” A sound, syllable, word or phrase endowed with special power, usually drawn from scripture. Mantras are chanted loudly during pūjā to invoke the Gods and establish a force field. To be truly effective, such mantras must be given by the preceptor through initiation.§

mārga: मार्ग “Path; way.” From mārg, “to seek.” See: pāda.§

Markali Pillaiyar: மார்கழி பிள்ளையார் A month-long, December-January (Markali) festival to Gaṇeśa in the form of Lord Pillaiyar, the Noble Child. Worship, prayer and other spiritual disciplines are commenced during this special period of sādhana, and the home is cleaned thoroughly each day.§

materialism (materialistic): The doctrine that matter is the only reality, that all life, thought and feelings are but the effects of movements of matter, and that there exist no worlds but the physical. See: worldly.§

materialist: One who believes that physical comfort, pleasure and wealth are the only or the highest goals of life; that matter is the only reality.§

mātṛikākshara: मातृकाक्षर A syllable of the Sanskrit alphabet (numbering 51). From mātṛika, “little mother,” and akshara, “imperishable,” immutable,” hence “syllable.”§

mātsarya: मात्सर्य “Jealousy.”§

maya: मय “Consisting of; made of,” as in manomaya, “made of mind.”§

māyā: माया From the verb root , “to measure,” “to limit,” “give form.” The principle of appearance or manifestation of God’s power or “mirific energy,” “that which measures.” The substance emanated from Śiva through which the world of form is manifested. Hence all creation is also termed māyā. It is the cosmic creative force, the principle of manifestation, ever in the process of creation, preservation and dissolution. See: loka, mind (universal).§

mayūra: मयूर “Peacock.” The vāhana, or mount, of Lord Kārttikeya, symbolizing effulgent beauty and religion in full glory. The peacock is able to control powerful snakes, such as the cobra, symbolizing the soulful domination of the instinctive elements—or control of the kuṇḍalinī, which is yoga. See: Kārttikeya, vāhana.§

Mayūreśvara: मयूरेश्वर “Peacock Lord.” The Gaṇeśa mūrti enshrined at the Morgaon Temple south of Pune, Mahārāshṭra.§

meandering: Tortuous, winding back and forth.§

meat-eater: Mānsāhārī. Those who follow a nonvegetarian diet. See: vegetarianism.§

meditation: Dhyāna. Sustained concentration. Meditation describes a quiet, alert, powerfully concentrated state wherein new knowledge and insights are awakened from within as awareness focuses one-pointedly on an object or specific line of thought. See: rāja yoga, yoga.§

mediumship: Act or practice of serving as a channel through which beings of inner worlds communicate with humans. See: folk-shamanic, trance.§

menses: A woman’s monthly menstruation period, during which, by Hindu tradition, she rests from her usual activities and forgoes public and family religious functions.§

mentor: One who advises, teaches, instructs, either formally or informally.§

merge: To lose distinctness or identity by being absorbed. To unite or become one with.§

merger of the soul: See: evolution of the soul, viśvagrāsa.§

metabolism: The system of physical and chemical processes occurring within a living cell or organism that are necessary for the maintenance of life. The life processes, consisting of anabolism (the changing of food into living tissue) and catabolism (the degeneration of living tissue).§

microcosm-macrocosm: “Little world” or “miniature universe” as compared with “great world.” Microcosm refers to the internal source of something larger or more external (macrocosm). In Hindu cosmology, the outer world is a macrocosm of the inner world, which is its microcosm and is mystically larger and more complex than the physical universe and functions at a higher rate of vibration and even a different rate of time. The microcosm precedes the macrocosm. Thus, the guiding principle of the Bhūloka comes from the Antarloka and Śivaloka. Consciousness precedes physical form. In the tantric tradition, the body of man is viewed as a microcosm of the entire divine creation. “Microcosm-macrocosm” is embodied in the terms piṇḍa and aṇda. See: quantum, tantra, tattva.§

millennium: A period of 1,000 years. millennia: Plural of millennium.§

mind (five states): A view of the mind in five parts. —conscious mind (Jāgrat chitta, “wakeful consciousness”): The ordinary, waking, thinking state of mind in which the majority of people function most of the day. —subconscious mind (Saṁskāra chitta, “impression mind”): The part of mind “beneath” the conscious mind, the storehouse or recorder of all experience (whether remembered consciously or not)—the holder of past impressions, reactions and desires. Also, the seat of involuntary physiological processes. —subsubconscious mind (Vāsanā chitta, “mind of subliminal traits”): The area of the subconscious mind formed when two thoughts or experiences of the same rate of intensity are sent into the subconscious at different times and, intermingling, give rise to a new and totally different rate of vibration. This subconscious formation later causes the external mind to react to situations according to these accumulated vibrations, be they positive, negative or mixed. —superconscious mind (Kāraṇa chitta): The mind of light, the all-knowing intelligence of the soul. At its deepest level, the superconscious is Parāśakti, or Satchidānanda, the Divine Mind of God Śiva. —subsuperconscious mind (Anukāraṇa chitta): The superconscious mind working through the conscious and subconscious states, which brings forth intuition, clarity and insight. See: chitta, consciousness, saṁskāra.§

mind (individual): At the microcosmic level of individual souls, mind is consciousness and its faculties of memory, desire, thought and cognition. Individual mind is chitta, “mind, consciousness” and its three-fold expression is called antaḥkaraṇa, “inner faculty,” composed of: 1) buddhi (“intellect, reason, logic,” higher mind); 2) ahaṁkāra (“I-maker,” egoity); 3) manas (“lower mind,” instinctive-intellectual mind, the seat of desire).§

mind (three phases): A perspective of mind as instinctive, intellectual and superconscious. —instinctive mind (Manas chitta): the seat of desire and governor of sensory and motor organs. —intellectual mind (Buddhi chitta): the faculty of thought and intelligence. —superconscious mind (Kāraṇa chitta): the strata of intuition, benevolence and spiritual sustenance. Its most refined essence is Parāsakti, or Satchidānanda, all-knowing, omnipresent consciousness, the One transcendental, self-luminous, divine mind common to all souls. See: consciousness, mind (five states).§

mind (universal): In the most profound sense, mind is the sum of all things, all energies and manifestations, all forms, subtle and gross, sacred and mundane. It is the inner and outer cosmos. Mind is māyā. It is the material matrix. It is everything but That, the Self within, Paraśiva. See: chitta, consciousness, māyā.§

mirific: “Wonder-making, magical, astonishing.”§

mlecçha: म्लेच्छ “One who speaks indistinctly (like a foreigner).” A foreigner or barbarian, one who does not conform to Hindu culture; a non-Hindu.§

moda: मोद “Arrogance.” Gaṇeśa’s aspect as the conqueror of mamata, egoity.§

modaka: मोदक “Sweets.” A round lemon-sized sweet made of rice, coconut, sugar, etc. It is a favorite treat of Gaṇeśa. Esoterically, it corresponds to siddhi (attainment or fulfillment), the gladdening contentment of pure joy, the sweetest of all things sweet. See: Gaṇeśa.§

modakapātra: मोदकपात्र “Bowl of sweets.” The modaka, loving Gaṇeśa’s favorite sweet, represents all good things, especially moksha, liberation.§

moha: मोह “Infatuation, delusion.”§

moksha: मोक्ष “Liberation.” Release from transmigration, saṁsāra, the round of births and deaths, which occurs after karma has been resolved and nirvikalpa samādhi—realization of the Self, Paraśiva—has been attained. Same as mukti. See: kuṇḍalinī, liberation.§

monastic: A monk or nun (based on the Greek monos, “alone”). A man or woman who has withdrawn from the world and lives an austere, religious life, either alone or with others in a monastery. (Not to be confused with monistic, having to do with the doctrine of monism.) A monastery-dweller is a maṭhavāsi, and sādhu is a rough equivalent for mendicant. See: sannyāsin.§

monism: “Doctrine of oneness.” 1) The philosophical view that there is only one ultimate substance or principle. 2) The view that reality is a unified whole without independent parts. See: advaita.§

monistic: Expressive of the belief that reality is of one kind or substance.§

monistic theism: Advaita Īśvaravāda. Monism is the doctrine that reality is a one whole or existence without independent parts. Theism is the belief that God exists as a real, conscious, personal Supreme Being. Monistic theism is the dipolar doctrine, also called panentheism, that embraces both monism and theism, two perspectives ordinarily considered contradictory or mutually exclusive, since theism implies dualism. Monistic theism simultaneously accepts that 1) God has a personal form, 2) that He creates, pervades and is all that exists, and 3) that He ultimately transcends all existence and that the soul is, in essence, one with God. See: advaita, theism.§

monotheism: “Doctrine of one God.” Contrasted with polytheism, meaning belief in many Gods. The term monotheism covers a wide range of philosophical positions, from exclusive (or pure) monotheism, which recognizes only one God (such as in Semitic faiths), to inclusive monotheism, which also accepts the existence of other Gods. Generally speaking, the denominations of Hinduism are inclusively monotheistic in their belief in a one Supreme God and in their reverence for other Gods, or Mahādevas.§

mṛidaṅga: मृदङ्ग A kind of Indian drum, barrel-shaped and two-headed.§

mṛigi mudrā: मृगि मुद्रा “Deer gesture.” The right hand is held in the shape of the profile of a deer’s head: the thumb, second finger and third finger touching to form the upper jaw, and the first and fourth fingers kept straight, forming the ears. During pūjā a flower is held in this mudrā (in the “deer’s mouth,” facing outward) to sprinkle water and waft food essences toward the Deity.§

mudgara: मुद्गर “A hammer or mallet.” An emblem of arts and crafts, also a weapon in Hindu iconography.§

mudrā: मुद्रा “Seal.” Esoteric hand gestures which express specific energies or powers. Usually accompanied by precise visualizations, mudrās are a vital element of ritual worship (pūjā), dance and yoga. Among the best-known mudrās are: 1) abhaya mudrā (gesture of fearlessness), in which the fingers are extended, palm facing forward; 2) añjali mudrā (gesture of reverence); 3) jñāna mudrā (also known as chin mudrā and yoga mudrā), in which the thumb and index finger touch, forming a circle, with the other fingers extended; 4) dhyāna mudrā (seal of meditation), in which the two hands are open and relaxed with the palms up, resting on the folded legs, the right hand atop the left with the tips of the thumbs gently touching. See: abhaya mudrā, añjali mudrā, haṭha yoga, namaskāra.§

mukti: मुक्ति “Release.” A synonym for moksha. See: moksha.§

mūlādhāra chakra: मूलाधारचक्र “Root support center,” from mūla, “root,” and ādhāra, “supporting.” The psychic center located at the base of the spine and governing memory, time and space. The first of seven nerve plexuses or centers of force and consciousness in the psychic nerve system of man, located along the spinal column from its base to the cranial chamber. Loving Gaṇeśa, seated on the four-petalled mūlādhāra, rules memory and knowledge as gatekeeper to the six chakras above and as guard of the seven below.§

mūlaka: मूलक “Radish.”§

mūrti: मूर्ति “Form; manifestation, embodiment, personification.” An image or icon of God or one of the many Gods used during worship. Mūrtis range from aniconic (avyakta, “nonmanifest”), such as the Śivaliṅga, to vyakta “fully manifest,” e.g., anthropomorphic images such as Naṭarāja. In-between is the partially manifest (vyaktāvyakta), e.g., the mukha liṅga, in which the face of Śiva appears on the Śivaliṅga. Other Deity representations include symbols, e.g., the banyan tree, and geometric designs such as yantras and maṇḍalas. Svayambhū names a mūrti discovered in nature and not carved or crafted by human hands. Another important term for the Deity icon or idol is pratimā, “reflected image.” See: Ishṭa Devatā.§

Murugan: முருகன் “Beautiful one,” a favorite name of Kārttikeya among the Tamils of South India, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. See: Kārttikeya.§

mūshika: मूषिक From mūsh, “to steal.” The mouse, Lord Gaṇeśa’s mount, traditionally associated with abundance. Symbolically, the mouse carries Lord Gaṇeśa’s grace into every corner of the mind. See: Gaṇeśa, vāhana.§

Image nāda: नाद “Sound; tone, vibration.” Metaphysically, the mystic sounds of the Eternal, of which the highest is the transcendent or Soundless Sound, Paranāda, the first vibration from which creation emanates. From Paranāda comes Praṇava, Aum, and further evolutes of nāda. These are experienced by the meditator as the nādanāḍī śakti, “the energy current of sound,” heard pulsing through the nerve system as a constant high-pitched hum, much like a tambūra, an electrical transformer, a swarm of bees or a śruti box. Most commonly, nāda refers to ordinary sound. See: Aum, Śiva consciousness.§

nāḍī: नाडी “Conduit;” “river.” A nerve fiber or energy channel of the subtle (inner) bodies of man. It is said there are 72,000. These interconnect the chakras. The three main nāḍīs are named iḍā, piṅgalā and sushumṇā. —iḍā: Also known as chandra (“moon”) nāḍī, it is pink in color and flows downward, ending on the left side of the body. This current is feminine in nature and is the channel of physical-emotional energy. —piṅgalā: Also known as sūrya (“sun”) nāḍī, it is blue in color and 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: 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: 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.§

nāgapāśa: नागपाश “Snake cord,” worn by Gaṇeśa in His various mūrtis, both as a waistband and as a sacred thread (yajñopavīta), representing mastery of the life forces and transmutation of instinctiveness into spirituality.§

nāgasvara: नागस्वर “Snake note.” A double-reed woodwind about three feet long, similar to an oboe but more shrill and piercing, common in South India, played at Hindu pūjās and processions with the tavil, a large drum.§

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 his birth. See: jyotisha.§

namaḥ: नमः “Adoration (or homage) to.”§

Namaḥ Śivāya: नमः शिवाय “Adoration (or 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; is His revealing grace; Ya is the soul. The letters also represent the physical body: Na the legs, Ma the stomach, Śi the shoulders, the mouth and Ya the eyes. Embodying the essence of Śaiva Siddhānta, it is found in the center of the central Veda (the Yajur) of the original three Vedas (Ṛig, Yajur and Sāma)Kṛishṇa Yajur Veda, Taittirīya Saṁhitā 4.5.8.§

nāmakaraṇa: नामकरण “Name giving.” See: saṁskāra.§

namaskār: नमस्कार् “Reverent salutations.” Traditional Hindu verbal greeting and mudrā where the palms are joined together and held before the heart or raised to the level of the forehead. The mudrā is also called añjali.§

namaste: नमस्ते “Reverent salutations to you.” A traditional verbal greeting. A form of namas, meaning “bowing, obeisance.” See: namaskāra.§

Nandī: नन्दी “The joyful.” A white bull with a black tail, the vāhana, or mount, of Lord Śiva, symbol of the powerful instinctive force tamed by Him. Nandī 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. See: vāhana.§

Nandinātha Sampradāya: नन्दिनाथसंप्रदय See: Nātha Sampradāya.§

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) Ṛijīsha, “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). See: hell, loka, tala (also, individual tala entries).§

nārikela: नारिकेल “Coconut.” In front of Gaṇeśa shrines the world over, husked coconuts are broken as an act of prayer, symbolizing the ego’s shattering to reveal the soul’s innate sweet, pure nature. The coconut, circled by five mango leaves, nested on a pot of water, is worshiped as a Deity image, especially as Lord Gaṇeśa, during certain pūjā rites.§

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. See: nāda, Parameśvara, Parāśakti, Paraśiva.§

Natchintanai: நற்சிந்தனை “Good thoughts.” The collected songs of Sage Yogaswāmī (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.§

Nātha: नाथ “Master, lord; adept.” Names an ancient Himalayan tradition of Śaiva-yoga mysticism, whose first historically known exponent was Nandikeśvara (ca 250 bce). Nātha—Self-Realized adept—designates the extraordinary ascetic masters (or devotees) of this school. The Nāthas are considered the source of haṭha as well as rāja yoga.§

Nātha Sampradāya: नाथसंप्रदय “Transmitted doctrine (or theology) of the masters.” Sampradāya means a living stream of tradition or theology. Nātha Sampradāya is a 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. See: Kailāsa Paramparā, Nātha, Śaivism, sampradāya.§

Nayanar: நாயனார் “One who shows the way.” The 63 canonized Tamil saints of South India, as documented in the Periyapurāṇam by Sekkilar (ca 1140). All but a few were householders, honored as exemplars of radical devotion to Lord Śiva, though their biographies are perhaps historically inaccurate and the actions of some were violent, even heinous. Several contributed to the Śaiva Siddhānta scriptural compendium called Tirumurai.§

negative attachment: A fear, worry or doubt of the future or a lingering regret about the past that keeps one from “flowing with the river of life” (living fully in the moment as an independent, spiritual being, facing each experience in the light of understanding).§

nervine: An ingestive substance that strengthens activity of the nervous system, such as stimulants and sedatives.§

nīlapadma: नीलपद्म “Blue water lily.”§

Nirguṇa Brahman: निर्गुणब्रह्मन् “God without qualities.” See: Brahman.§

nityavāk: नित्यवाक् “The eternal Word.” An expression from the Vedas describing the primal sound, the Word, the first impulse of creation. See: vāk.§

niyama: नियम “Restraint.” See: yama-niyama.§

nondualism: “Not two-ness.” Monistic philosophy. See: advaita, monism, monistic theism, Vedānta.§

Nṛitya Gaṇapati: नृत्यगणपति A name and traditional mūrti, or form, of Gaṇeśa. “He who is dancing,”a four-armed golden mūrti under a kalpavṛiksha, wish-fulfilling, tree.§

nurture: To raise or promote development, train; educate or foster.§

Imageoccult: Hidden, secret; revealed only after initiation.§

olai: ஓலை “Leaf.” An ancient form of Indian books used in South 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. These books are average 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.§

old soul: One who has reincarnated many times, experienced much and is therefore farther along the path. Old souls may be recognized by their qualities of compassion, self-effacement and wisdom. See: soul.§

Oṁ: ओम् “Yes, verily.” The most sacred mantra of Hinduism. An alternate transliteration of Aum (the sounds A and U blend to become O). See: Aum.§

Oṁkāra: ओंकार “Impulse of the cosmic sound.” A name of God as the source, or creator, of Primal Sound, Aum. See: Aum.§

omnipotent: All-powerful. Able to do anything.§

omnipresent: Present everywhere and in all things.§

omniscient: Possessing infinite knowledge, all-knowing.§

ordain (ordination): To confer 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.§

orifice of Brahman: See: door of Brahman.§

Image pāda: पाद “The foot (of men and animals); quarter-part, section; stage; path.” Names the four major sections of the Āgamic texts and the corresponding stages of practice and unfoldment on the path to moksha. —charyā pāda (“Good conduct stage”): Stage one, learning to live righteously and serve selflessly, performing karma yoga. 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. A central practice of the kriyā pāda is performing daily pūjā. —yoga pāda: (“Stage of uniting”): 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. —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.” See: jñāna, yoga.§

pāda pūjā: 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.§

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 spiritual unfoldment.§

padmāsana: पद्मासन “Lotus posture.” The most famous haṭha yoga āsana, the optimum pose for sustained meditation. The legs are crossed, the soles of the feet upward, resembling a lotus flower. In this pose the intellectual-emotional energies are balanced and quieted. See: rāja yoga, yoga.§

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 (ashṭāvaraṇa) to faith—the practice of drinking the water from the ceremonial washing of the Śivaliṅga or the guru’s feet. See: guru bhakti, prasāda, satguru, ucçhishṭa.§

panasa phala: पनसफल Jackfruit.§

pañchabhūta: पञ्चभूत “Five elements.” Earth, water, fire, air and ether. Also called mahābhūta. See: indriya, tattva.§

Pañcha Gaṇapati: पञ्चगणपति A name and mūrti of Lord Gaṇeśa with five (pañcha) heads (more fully Pañchamukha “Five-faced”). Gaṇeśa in this form is worshiped especially during the Pañcha Gaṇapati festival, December 20-25, a time of gift-giving, celebration and renewal of harmony in personal relationships.§

pañcha kriyā(s): पञ्चक्रिया “Five duties.” See: pañcha nitya karma(s).§

Pañchākshara Mantra: पञ्चाक्षरमन्त्र “Five-syllabled incantation.” Śaivism’s most sacred mantra, Namaḥ Śivaya, “Homage to Siva.” See: Namaḥ Śivāya.§

pañchāṅga: पञ्चाङ्ग “Five limbs.” The traditional Hindu sacred calendar, so named for its five basic elements: tithi (lunar day), nakshatra (asterism), kāraṇa (half lunar day), yoga (sun-moon angle) and vāra (week day). Pañchāṅgas are used by priests, astrologers and lay persons to determine the optimum times for various types of activities.§

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, pilgrimage, saṁskāra.§

pandit (paṇḍita): पण्डित “Learned one.” Hindu religious scholar or theologian, 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: dvaita-advaita, monistic theism.§

pantheon: All the Gods of a religion together.§

pāpa: पाप “Wickedness; 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. Each act of pāpa carries its karmic consequence, karmaphala, “fruit of action,” for which scriptures delineate specific penance for expiation. See: evil, karma, penance, puṇya, sin.§

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: Paraśiva, Self, 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. See: Naṭarāja.§

paramount: Most important, highest.§

paramparā: परंपरा “Uninterrupted succession.” 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. The attainment of Parāśakti is called savikalpa samādhi. See: Śiva.§

Paraśiva: परशिव “Transcendent Śiva.” The Self God, Śiva’s His first perfection, Absolute Reality. God Śiva as That which is beyond the grasp of consciousness, transcends time, form and space and defies description. Attainment of this is called Self Realization or nirvikalpa samādhi. See: samādhi, Śiva.§

paraśu: परशु “Axe.”§

paraśvadha: परस्वध “Battleaxe.”§

Paravāk: परवाक् “The Primal Word.” See: vāk.§

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 refers to the soul’s three-fold bondage of āṇava, karma and māyā. See: liberation, mala, Pati-paśu-pāśa.§

Pāshāṇadāraṇa: पाषाणदारण “Pick axe.”§

paśyānti vāk: पश्यान्ति वाक् “The word that perceives.” See: vāk.§

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.§

Patañjali: पतञ्जलि “Possessed of reverence.” 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 200 aphorisms delineating ashṭāṅga (eight-limbed), rāja (kingly) or siddha (perfection) yoga. Still today it is the foremost text on meditative yoga. See: rāja yoga, yoga.§

pāṭhaśāla: पाठशाल “Place of lessons.” A school for training temple priests.§

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: Pati-paśu-pāśa, Śiva.§

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. See: pāśa, Śaiva Siddhānta, soul.§

pātra: पात्र Worthy; literally, a “receptacle” as of a drinking vessel. The condition of being a fit receptacle for.§

patronymic: A name derived from the name of a father or ancestor, especially through a suffix or prefix indicating descent.§

pāyasa: पायस– “Prepared with milk.” Tapioca or rice pudding.-§

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. See: evil, kavadi, pāpa, sin.§

Periyapurāṇam: பெரிய புராணம் Twelfth book of the Tirumurai. Story of the 63 Śaiva Nayanar saints of Tamil Nadu, written by Sekkilar (ca 1140).§

perpetuate: Cause to continue or be remembered; to keep from being lost.§

phala: फल “fruit.”§

pilgrimage: Tīrthayātrā. “Journeying to a holy place.” Pilgrimage. One of the five sacred duties (pañcha nitya karmas) of the Hindu is to journey periodically to one of the innumerable holy spots in India or other countries. Preceded by fasting and continence, it is a time of austerity and purification, when all worldly concerns are set aside and God becomes one’s singular focus. See: pañcha nitya karma.§

piṅgalā: पिंगला “Tawny channel.” The masculine psychic current flowing along the spine. See: kuṇḍalinī, nāḍī, rāja yoga.§

pitṛi tarpaṇa: पितृ तर्पण “Libations to ancestors.” A sacred rite of offering water to deceased ancestors. One of the five daily sacrifices prescribed in the Dharma Śāstras. See: pañcha mahāyajñas.§

plague: To distress, afflict, trouble or torment.§

polytheism: Belief in or worship of many Gods. See also: monotheism.§

pontiff: High priest; a spiritual leader endowed with great honor and authority.§

prabhāvalī: प्रभावली “Luminous circle.” The ornate arch, made of stone or metal, that stands just behind and above Deity images in temples and shrines. It connotes the cycle of creation, preservation and destruction. At the top of the arch is the fierce face of Mahākāla, the God of time, who transcends form and ultimately claims everything.§

pradakshiṇā: प्रदक्षिणा “Moving rightward.” 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.§

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 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: purusha, tattva.§

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.§

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. (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.§

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 nādanāḍī śakti. See: Aum,.§

prāṇāyāma: प्राणायाम “Breath control.” See: rāja yoga.§

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. 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.§

praśnottara: प्रश्नोत्तर “Question-answer (praśna-uttara).” A term for catechism, an interrogatory summation of religious doctrine.§

precept: A commandment meant as a rule of action or conduct.§

preceptor: Highly respected teacher and head of a spiritual order and clan; the equivalent of the word satguru.§

preside: To be chairman at a gathering, in a position of authority within a group. To have charge of; to dominate.§

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 mūla mantra, “Aum.” See: Praṇava.§

pṛithivī tattva: पृथिवी तत्त्व “Earth element.” See: tanmātra, tattva.§

prostration: See: praṇāma.§

protocol: Customs of proper etiquette and ceremony, especially in relation to religious or political dignitaries. See: culture.§

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: clairaudience, clairvoyance.§

pūjā: पूजा “Worship, adoration.” An Āgamic rite of worship performed in the home, temple or shrine, to the mūrti (Deity image), śrī pādukā (holy sandals), 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. —Ātmārtha Pūjā: Kāraṇa Āgama, v. 2, states: Ātmārtha cha parārtha cha pūjā dvividhamuchyate, “Worship is two-fold: 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.§

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 the officiant priest used in the southern tradition. Purohita is a Smārta brāhmin priest who specializes in domestic rites. See: pūjā.§

punarjanma: पुनर्जन्म “Reincarnation.” From punaḥ, “again and again,” and janma, “taking birth.” See: reincarnation.§

pundit: See: pandit.§

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. See: 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.§

Pure Consciousness: See: Parāśakti.§

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. See: ātman, jīva, prakṛiti, soul, tattva.§

purushārtha: पुरुषार्थ “Human wealth or purpose.” The four pursuits in which humans may legitimately engage, 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. 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. 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.
—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. See: liberation, moksha.

pushpaśara: पुष्पशर “Flower arrow.” A weapon wielded by loving Gaṇeśa.§

Imagequantum: Quantity or amount. In science’s quantum theory, 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.§

quatrain: A stanza or poem of four lines.§

quell: To quiet, subdue or put an end to.§

Image Radhakrishnan, Dr. S.: रधकृष्णन् (1888-1975) A President of India (1962 to 1967), an outstanding scholar, philosopher, prolific writer, compelling speaker and effective spokesman of Hinduism. Along with Vivekānanda, Tagore, Aurobindo and others, he helped bring about the current Hindu revival. See also: Vedānta.§

rāga: राग “That which enraptures.” In the structure of melody in Indian music, a specific collection of sounds or notes. Rāga is similar to “scale” in Western notation, but rāga includes the unique emotional or mystical mood created when the melody is heard.§

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 Patañjali. The eight stages are: yama (restraints), niyama (observances), āsana (posture), prāṇāyāma (breath control), pratyāhara (withdrawal), dhāraṇa (concentration), dhyāna (meditation) and samādhi (enstasy, mystic oneness). See: enstasy, samādhi, yoga.§

Rāma: राम “Pleasing.” 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 Rāmeśvaram was built in his name at the southern tip of India.§

Rāmakṛishṇa: रामकृष्ण (1836–1886) One of the great saints and mystics of modern Hinduism, a champion and exemplar of monistic theism. A 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.§

Rāmānuja: रामानुज Philosopher (1017–1137), saint, great bhakta, 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 Viśishṭādvaita Vedānta. See: Vedānta.§

Rāmāyaṇa: रामायण “Vehicle 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 also: Itihāsa, Mahābhārata, Rāma.§

raṅgoli: रङ्गोलि Traditional household and priestly art of “drawing” intricate decorative patterns at the entrance to a home or temple or at the site of a religious ceremony. Known as kolam in Tamil. Raṅgoli designs are made with rice powder mixed to a watery paste, and sometimes with flowers and various-colored powdered pulses.§

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; moisture.” See: chakra, loka, Naraka.§

ratnakumbha: रत्नकुम्भ “Pot of gems.”§

reaction: A response to an action.§

reconciliation: To harmonize quarrels or mend differences. A tithing reconciliation is a written accounting of income and tithing.§

reincarnate: To take birth in another body, having lived and died before.§

reincarnation: “Re-entering the flesh.” Punarjanma; metempsychosis. The process wherein souls take on a physical body through the birth process. 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. See: karma, moksha, saṁsāra, soul.§

religion: From Latin religare, “to bind back.” Any system of belief in and worship of suprahuman beings or powers and/or 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.§

remorse: Deep guilt or regret over a wrong one has committed.§

renunciate: One who has given up worldly life; a monk. See: sannyāsin.§

restraints: See: yama-niyama.§

Ṛig Veda: ऋग्वेद “Veda of verse (ṛik).” The first and oldest of the four Veda compendia 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). The oldest and core portion is the Saṁhitā, believed to date back, in its oral form, as far as 8,000 years. It embodies prayerful hymns of praise and invocation to the Divinities of nature and to the One Divine. The Ṛig Veda Saṁhitā, which in length equals Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey combined, is the most important Vedic 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, Veda.§

Ṛiṇamochana Gaṇapati: ऋणमोचनगणपति “The remover of bondage” is unique in that He holds a rose apple, goad, noose and His broken tusk.§

ṛishi: ऋषि “Seer.” A term for an enlightened being, emphasizing psychic perception and visionary wisdom.§

rite (or ritual): A religious ceremony. See: sacrament, sacrifice, saṁskāra.§

rites of passage: Sacraments marking crucial stages of life. See: saṁskāra.§

rotundity: Roundness, plumpness§

Rudra: रुद्र “Controller of awesome powers;” or “red, shining one.” The 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.” From rud, “to cry,” and aksha, meaning “eye.” 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, both men and women, often wear a single bead on a cord at the throat. Smaller beads (usually numbering 108) are strung together for japa (recitation). Indian legend records that God shed a tear when looking down upon the sorrowful plight of humanity. That tear fell to Earth and from it grew the first rudrāksha tree. Thus its seeds are worn by Hindus as a symbol of Śiva’s love and compassion. See: japa, mantra.§

rudrāksha mālā: रुद्राक्षमाला “Garland of Śiva’s tears.” A strand of prayer beads, usually 108, to count the repetitions of a mantra. Gaṇeśa’s holding a japa mālā reminds us all to perform our daily japa yoga. See: rudrāksha.§

Image 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, blessed in ceremony or by a holy person. See: saṁskāra.§

sacred thread: Yajñopavīta. See: upanayana.§

sacrifice: Yajña. 1) Making 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: surrender.§

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 five-fold manifestation or expression of God’s activity in the cosmos is depicted in Hindu mantras, literature and art as the five-faced Sadāśivamūrti. See: Parameśvara, tattva.§

sādhaka: साधक From sadh, “going straight to the goal.” A spiritual aspirant; a devotee who performs sādhana. A serious seeker who has undertaken spiritual disciplines, is usually celibate and under the guidance of a guru. He wears white and may be under simple vows, but is not a yogi or sannyāsin. See: sādhana.§

sādhana: साधन “Effective means of attainment.” Self-effort, spiritual discipline; the way. 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. See: pāda, rāja yoga, 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.§

sādhvī: साध्वी Feminine counterpart of sādhu. See: sādhu.§

Saguṇa Brahman: सगुणब्रह्मन् Brahman “with qualities.” Describes Śiva’s perfections of Satchidānanda and Maheśvara, the Primal Soul and His Divine Mind—that part of God which is divine, all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful and omnipotent. See: Brahman.§

sahasrāra chakra: सहस्रारचक्र “Thousand-spoked wheel.” The cranial psychic force center. See: chakra.§

Śaiva: शैव “Auspicious.” 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 Ātmārtha Pūjā: शैव आत्मार्थ पूजा See: pūjā.§

Śaiva Siddhānta: शैवसिद्धान्त “Final conclusions of Śaivism.” The most widespread and influential Śaivite school today, predominant especially among the Tamil people in Sri Lanka and South India. It is the formalized theology of the divine revelations contained in the twenty-eight Śaiva Āgamas. 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 Aghoraśiva and Meykandar, which denies that souls ever attain perfect sameness or unity with Śiva. See: Śaivism.§

Śaiva Siddhānta Yoga Order: Ecclesiastical body of lifetime renunciate swāmīs, a saṅgam was founded by Sivaya Subramuniyaswami in 1949.§

Śaivism (Śaiva): शैव The religion followed by those who worship Śiva as supreme God. Oldest of the four denominations of Hinduism. The earliest historical evidence of Śaivism is from the Indus Valley civilization (purported to be 6,000 to 8,000 years old) in the form of the renowned seal of Śiva as Lord Paśupati, seated in a yogic pose. In the Rāmāyaṇa, Lord Rāma worshiped Śiva, as did his rival Rāvaṇa. In 624 bce Buddha was born a Śaivite Hindu prince in a royal family, and records of his time speak of the Śaiva ascetics who wandered the hills looking much as they do today.§

Śaivite (Śaiva): शैव Of or relating to Śaivism or its adherents, of whom there are about 400 million in the world today. See: Śaivism.§

Śaivite saints: See: Nayanar.§

śākāhāra: शाकाहार “Vegetarian diet.” From śāka, “vegetable,” and āhāra, “eating; taking food.” See: meat-eater, vegetarian, yama-niyama.§

Śākta: शाक्त “Powerful,” Of or relating to Śāktism. A follower of the Śākta Hindu religion. See: Śāktism.§

śakti: शक्ति “Power, energy” (from the root śak, “to be able”). 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. In Śaiva Siddhānta, Śiva is All, and His divine energy, Śakti, is inseparable from Him. Śakti is most easily experienced by devotees as the sublime, bliss-inducing energy that emanates from a holy person or sanctified Hindu temple. See: kuṇḍalinī, Parāśakti, Śāktism.§

Śakti Gaṇapati: शक्तिगणपति “The powerful” is four-armed and seated with Śakti on His knee. He holds a garland and gestures abhaya mudrā.§

Śaktis: शक्ति “Consorts.” Loving Gaṇeśa is often seen with two female consorts, or śaktis. They represent iḍā and piṅgalā, the two life currents, emotion and intellect, that hold us close to Earth.§

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 denominations of Hinduism. See: Śakti, tantrism.§

śālipallava: शालिपल्लव “Rice sprig.”§

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. See: kuṇḍalinī, Paraśiva, rāja yoga, Self Realization.§

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. “to give out,” “render,” “grant,” bestow or confer; to hand down by tradition; to bequeath. See: guru 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.§

saṁskāra: संस्कार “Impression, activator; sanc tification, 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. See: mind (five states), sacrament.§

Sanātana Dharma: सनातनधर्म “Eternal religion” or “everlasting path.” It is the original designation for the Hindu religion. See: Hinduism.§

Sanātani: सनातनि “Of the eternal.” A Hindu, a follower of the eternal path.§

sanctified waters: See: pāda pūjā, prasāda, ucçhishṭa.§

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.§

saṅgama: सङ्गम “Association; fellowship.” Also saṅga. Coming together in a group, especially for religious purposes. See: Satsaṅga.§

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 informs all three worlds what he is about to do. He recites the name of the Deity, and the present time and place according to precise astrological notations and announces the type of ritual he is about to perform. Once the saṅkalpa is made, he is bound to complete the ceremony. See: pūjā.§

Śaṅkara: शङ्कर “Conferring happiness; propitious.” A name of Śiva, or Ādi Śaṅkara. One of Hinduism’s most extraordinary monks (788–820) and preeminent guru of the Smārta Sampradāya. Noted for his monistic philosophy of Advaita Vedānta, his many scriptural commentaries, and the establishment 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: Vedānta.§

Saṅkaṭahara Gaṇapati: संकटहरगणपति “Dispeller of sorrow,” seated on a red lotus flower, holds a bowl of pudding and displays varada mudrā.§

śaṅkha: शङ्ख “Conch.” The water-born conch symbolizes the origin of existence, which evolves in spiraling spheres. In ancient days its sound signaled battle’s victory; today it heralds the high point of pūjā in Hindu temples. In the Deity’s hands it stands for protection from evil, sounding the sacred.§

San Mārga: सन्मार्ग “True path.” A term especially important in Śaiva Siddhānta. 1) In general, the straight spiritual path leading to the ultimate goal, Self Realization, which does not detour into unnecessary psychic exploration or pointless development of siddhis. San Mārgī names a person who is “on the path,” as opposed to saṁsārī, one engrossed in worldliness. 2) San Mārga is also an alternate term for the jñāna pāda. See: liberation, pāda.§

San Mārga Sanctuary: A sanctuary at Kauai Aadheenam on the Garden Island of Kauai, Hawaii, centered around a 1/2 -mile straight path to the Supreme God, Śiva (Parameśvara-Parāśakti-Paraśiva) and the Iraivan Temple, which enshrines a massive 700-pound, single-pointed quartz crystal.§

sānnidhya: सान्निध्य “(Divine) presence; nearness, proximity.” 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. See: sannyāsin.§

sannyāsin: संन्यासिन् “Renouncer.” One who has taken sannyāsa dīkshā, 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. A Hindu monk, swāmī, and one of a world brotherhood (or holy order) of sannyāsins. See: swāmī.§

Sanskrit (Saṅskṛita): 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 used as a spoken vernacular.§

sant: सन्त् “Saint.” A Hindi or vernacular term derived from the Sanskrit sat, meaning “truth; reality.”§

śānti: शान्ति “Peace.”§

śara: शर “Arrow.” Loving Gaṇeśa has power over thought, and each one hits its mark. Bow drawn, arrow aimed, He teaches us to precisely begin all beginnings with good intentions.§

śaraṇa: शरण “Refuge.” Saranam in Tamil.§

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. See: Goddess, Śakti.§

sārī: (Hindi, सारी) 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.§

śaśikalā: शशिकला “Period of the moon.” Specifically, the crescent moon that adorns Lord Śiva’s hair, the moon of the dark fortnight’s second day.§

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.§

Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa: शतपथब्राह्मण “Priest manual of 100 paths.” A supplement of Śukla Yajur Veda on theology, philosophy and modes of worship.§

satguru (sadguru): सद्गुरु “True weighty one.” A spiritual preceptor of the highest attainment—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 of liberation. See: guru, guru bhakti, guru-śishya system.§

satsaṅga: सत्संग “Holy gathering.” Association of devotees for temple or home worship, celebration, selfless service and religious studies.§

sattva guṇa: सत्त्वगुण “Purity.” The quality of goodness or purity. See: guṇa.§

Satya Mantra: सत्य मन्त्र “Sacred syllable of truth.” Aum. See: Aum.§

Second World: The astral or subtle plane. Here the soul continues its activities in the astral body during sleep and after the physical body dies. It is the in-between world which includes the Devaloka and the Narakaloka. The Second world exists “within” the First World or physical plane. See: loka.§

secular: Not sacred or religious; temporal or worldly.§

secular humanism: A system that rejects religious faith and worship and holds that one need not look beyond man for life’s ethical meaning.§

seer: Visionary; ṛishi. A wise being or mystic who sees beyond the limits of ordinary perception. See: ākāśa, ṛishi.§

Self (Self God): God Śiva’s perfection of Absolute Reality, Paraśiva—That which abides at the core of every soul. See: Paramātman, Paraśiva.§

self-declared sannyāsin: Paramadeśī sannyāsin. See: sannyāsin.§

self-effacement: Modest, retiring behavior; giving all credit to God, preceptor and other persons and not accepting praise for one’s accomplishments.§

self-erasement: The process of wiping out or eradicating the personal ego and the dross of the past, lodged in the memory patterns of the subconscious.§

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. See: God Realization, liberation, kuṇḍalinī, Paraśiva, rāja yoga, samādhi.§

sentamarai: செந்தாமரை “Red lotus flower.”§

severance: A breaking off or separation.§

Shamanism: From the Sanskrit śramaṇa, “ascetic,” akin to śram, meaning “to exert.” Generally refers to any religion based on the belief that good or evil spirits can be influenced by priests, or shamans, who serve as intermediaries between man and divine forces. Descriptive of many of the world’s tribal, indigenous faiths. See also: Śāktism, trance.§

Shaṇmukha: शण्मुख “Six-faced.” A name for Lord Murugan or Kārttikeya, denoting the multiplicity of His divine functions. See: Kārttikeya.§

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, the Star of David, appears in Judaism. See: Kārttikeya.§

shrouded: Covered, protected, screened, veiled, sheltered.§

siddhānta: सिद्धान्त “Final attainments” or “conclusions.” Siddhānta refers to ultimate understanding arrived at in any field of knowledge.§

siddha: सिद्ध A “perfected one’’ or accomplished yogī, a person of great spiritual attainment or powers. See also: siddhi, siddha yoga.§

siddha yoga: सिद्धयोग “Yoga of perfected attainment or of 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 of 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.§

siddhi: सिद्धि “Power, accomplishment; perfection.” Extraordinary powers of the soul, developed through consistent meditation and deliberate, grueling, often uncomfortable 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, and militates against the attainment of prapatti, complete submission to the will of God, Gods and guru. See: ashṭavibhūti.§

Siddhi and Buddhi: सिद्धि बुद्धि “Attainment and Wisdom;” names of the two symbolic consorts of Lord Gaṇeśa.§

Siddhidātā: सिद्धिदाता “Giver of success, fulfillment,” an epithet of Lord Gaṇeśa.§

Siddhi Gaṇapati: सिद्धिगणपति A name and traditional mūrti, or form, of Gaṇeśa, “the accomplished one,” who holds a bouquet of flowers, an axe, mango, sugarcane and, in His trunk, a sesame sweet.§

Sikhism: “Discipleship.” Religion of nine million members founded in India about 500 years ago by the saint Guru Nānak. A reformist faith which rejects idolatry and the caste system, its holy book is the Ādi Granth, and its main holy center is the Golden Temple of Amritsar.§

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. In Hinduism, there are no such concepts as inherent or mortal sin. See: aura, evil, karma, pāpa.§

sindūra: सिन्दूर “Red lead, vermillion.” (Sindūr in Hindi.) A red powder used to make the forehead mark (pottu, or tilaka) on the Deity image. See: tilaka.§

Siṅha Gaṇapati: सिंहगणपति “The lionine one” rides a lion and holds another in one hand. He also holds a vīṇā, a lotus and pot of jewels.§

śishya: शिष्य “A pupil or disciple,” especially one who has proven himself and has formally 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: Naṭarāja, Parameśvara, Parāśakti, Paraśiva, Śaivism.§

Śivāchārya: शिवाचार्य “Moving toward Śiva,” 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: Brahmā.§

Śiva consciousness: Śivachaitanya. A broad term naming the experience or state of being conscious of Śiva in a multitude of ways, such as the five expressed in the following meditation. Vital Breath (prāṇa): Experience the inbreath and outbreath as Śiva’s will within the 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 the 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 the 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 the 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 the head. It is like the tone of an electrical transformer, a hundred tamburas distantly playing or a humming swarm of bees. See: jñāna, mind (five states).§

Śivaliṅga: शिवलिङ्ग “Mark (or sign) of Śiva.” The most prevalent icon 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 (either 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. See: mūrti, Śaivism.§

Śivaloka: शिवलोक “Realm of Śiva.” See: loka.§

Śiva-Śakti: शिवशक्ति Father-Mother God, both immanent and transcendent. A name for God Śiva encompassing His unmanifest Being and manifest energy. See: Parameśvara, Śiva.§

Śivāya: शिवाय “To Siva.” Śiva’s name in dative case.§

Skanda: स्कन्द “Quicksilver; leaping one.” One of Lord Kārttikeya’s oldest names, and His form as scarlet-hued warrior God. See: Kārttikeya.§

śloka: श्लोक “Verse,” from the verbal root, ślok,“to compose.” 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 also: sūtra.§

Smārta: स्मार्त “Of or related to smṛiti,” the secondary Hindu scriptures. Of or related to Smārtism; a follower of Smārtism. See: Smārtism.§

Smārtism (smārta): Sect based on the secondary scriptures (smṛiti). The most liberal of the four major denominations of Hinduism, 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 Ādi Śaṅkara. Its adherents rely mainly on the classical smṛiti literature, especially the Itihāsas (Rāmāyaṇa 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. See: Daśanāmi, Śaṅkara.§

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 a specific collection of ancient Sanskritic texts. 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.§

snāna: स्नान “Bathing.” Ceremonial ablution, especially in sacred waters, traditionally precsribed as an obligatory Hindu duty.§

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: 1) the form or body of the soul and 2) the essence of the soul—Pure Consciousness (Parāśakti or Satchidānanda) and Absolute Reality (Paraśiva). See: ātman, Paramātman, spiritual unfoldment.§

specious: Apparent, seeming to be good, sound, true, correct, without really being so.§

spiritual unfoldment: The unfoldment of the spirit, the inherent, divine soul of man. The 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. See: kuṇḍalinī, liberation, pāda, sādhana.§

spurious: Illegitimate, not true or genuine.§

śraddhā: श्रद्धा “Faith; belief.” See: pañcha śraddhā.§

śrāddha: श्राद्ध “Memorial.” Relating to commemorative ceremonies for the deceased, held one week, one month after death, and annually thereafter, according to tradition. See: death, saṁskāra.§

Śrī Chakra: श्रीचक्र “Venerated wheel.” See: yantra.§

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 middle of the Yajur Veda, Taittirīya Saṁhitā, the first of the three Vedas, that the Śaivite mantra Namaḥ Śivāya first appears.§

sṛishṭi: सृष्टि “Creation.”§

Sṛishṭi Gaṇapati: सृष्टिगणपति “The creator God” rides a mouse and holds a noose, a goad, His tusk (representing selfless sacrifice) and a mango.§

śruti: श्रुति “That which is heard.” Aurally, or clairaudiently, received scripture. Hinduism’s revealed scriptures, of supreme theological authority and spiritual value. They are timeless teachings transmitted to ṛishis, or seers directly by God Śiva and the Gods thousands of years ago. Śruti is thus said to be apaurusheya, “impersonal,” or rather “suprahuman.” Śruti essentially consists of the Vedas and the Āgamas, preserved initially 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 for personal prayer and japa. See: Āgama, smṛiti, Veda.§

sthapati: स्थपति From stha, “building” or “place,” and pati, “lord or father.” A master of Āgamic temple architecture, sculpture, city planning and other traditional building arts. A sthapati must be well versed in the Śilpa Śāstras, experienced in all aspects of temple construction, pious, mystically trained and a good administrator, able to direct and guide a team of śilpīs, stonecutters, carvers, sculptors, woodworkers, etc.§

sthūla: स्थूल “Gross; physical.” See: vāk.§

strī dharma: स्त्रीधर्म “Woman’s duty.” Traditional conduct, observances, vocational and spiritual patterns which bring spiritual fulfillment and societal stability. Characterized by modesty, quiet strength, religiousness, dignity and nurturing of family. Notably, she is most needed and irreplaceable as the maker of the home and the educator of their children as noble citizens of tomorrow.§

subatomic: Of the inner parts of atoms; anything smaller than an atom.§

subconscious mind: Saṁskāra chitta. See: aura, conscience, mind (five states).§

sub-subconscious: Vāsanā chitta. Area of the subconscious where past experiences mix and merge, forming new images, reactions and beliefs. See: mind (five states).§

substratum: A substance or element which lies beneath and supports another.§

subsuperconscious mind: Anukāraṇa chitta. See: mind (five states).§

śuddhi: शुद्धि “Purification.” Also, śraddha śuddhi, “purification of faith.” The rite of accepting back into the Hindu fold individuals who have been converted to other faiths or otherwise require purification to rejoin the Hindu congregation. An alternate term to vrātyastoma, “oath affirmation.”§

śūdra: शूद्र “Worker, servant.” The social class of skilled artisans, workers and laborers. See: varṇa dharma.§

suffuse: Pour beneath, diffuse beneath, spread, as light through clouds or divine energy flowing out from pūjā or from a holy personage.§

śuka: शुक “Parrot.”§

sukarma: सुकर्म “Good actions.” See: karma, puṇya.§

sukhāsana: सुखासन “Pleasant, easy pose.” Often applies to any comfortable seating pose. More specificially, a synonym for the swāstikāsana, in which the legs are crossed, the feet tucked under the knees.§

sūkshma: सूक्ष्म “Subtle.” See: vāk.§

śuṇḍā: शुण्डा “Elephant trunk.”§

Sundarar: சுந்தரர் “Beautiful.” 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: Nayanar.§

superconscious mind: Kāraṇa chitta. See: mind (five states; three phases).§

supplicate (supplication): To ask for humbly. To earnestly pray for.§

supreme: Highest in rank, power, authority.§

Supreme God: Highest God, the source or creator of all other Gods, beings and all manifestation.§

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.§

sushumṇā nāḍī: सुषुम्णानाडी “Most gracious channel.” Central psychic nerve current within the spinal column. See: kuṇḍalinī, nāḍī, samādhi.§

sushupti: सुषुप्ति “Deep sleep.” A state more refined than the ordinary dream state, the perceptions of which are often too subtle to be remembered upon awakening. This is the state of visionary dreams. One of the four avasthās described in the Māṇḍūkya Upanishad. See: avasthā, consciousness.§

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, hell, loka, Naraka.§

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.§

svadharma: स्वधर्म “One’s own way.” See: dharma.§

svādhishṭhāna: स्वाधिष्ठान “One’s own base.” See: chakra.§

svādhyāya: स्वाध्याय “Self-reflection; scriptural study.” See: yama-niyama.§

svapna: स्वप्न “Dream.” Astral consciousness. The sleeping-dreaming state of subtle perception and experience. One of the four states of consciousness, avasthās, described in the Māṇḍūkya Upanishad. See: avasthā, consciousness.§

svayambhū mūrti: स्वयम्भूमूर्ति “Self-existent image.” A Deity image discovered in nature, and not carved or crafted by human hands. See: mūrti.§

swāmī: स्वामी “Lord; owner.” He who knows or is master of himself. A respectful title for a Hindu monk, usually a sannyāsin. The term swāmī is sometimes applied more broadly to include nonmonastics dedicated to spiritual work. See: monastic, sannyāsin.§

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—and how life is filled with change and indirection. It has been a prominent symbol in many cultures. (Svastu is a salutation meaning “blessings,” “good health,” or “may it be well with you.”) See: mūrti.§

Image taijasa: तैजस “Full of light.” A term for the dreaming state, equivalent to svapna. See: avasthā, svapna.§

tala: तल “Plane or world; level; base, bottom; abyss.” Root of the name of the seven realms of lower consciousness centered in the seven chakras below the mūlādhāra. See: chakra, hell, loka, Naraka.§

tāla: ताल “Time measure.” In Indian music, the organization of time into meter and rhythmic pulse with sometimes complex subdivisions. Tāla is similar to “time signature” in Western notation except that tāla includes the unique emotional or mystical mood.§

talātala chakra: तलातल चक्र “Lower region.” The fourth chakra below the mūlādhāra, centered in the calves. Region of chronic mental confusion and unreasonable stubbornness. Corresponds to the fourth astral netherworld beneath the Earth’s surface, called Tāmisra (“darkness”) or Talātala. This state of consciousness is born of the sole motivation of self-preservation. See: chakra, loka, Naraka.§

taṁbūrā: तंबूरा (Hindi) A long-necked, four-stringed fretless lute that provides a drone accompaniment for a singer or instrumentalist.§

Tamil: தமிழ் A Dravidian language and Caucasian race of South India.§

Tamil Nadu: தமிழ் நாடு State in South India, 50,000 square miles, population 55 million. Land of countless holy scriptures, saints, sages and over 40,000 magnificent temples, including Chidambaram, Madurai, Palani Hills and Rāmeśvaram.§

tanmātrā: तन्मात्रा “Primal matter.” The five fundamental subtle “substances” of the five gross elements, mahābhūtas. The five tanmātras and their corresponding elements are: 1) śabda (sound), ākāśa (ether); 2) sparśa (touch), vāyu (air); 3) rūpa (sight), tejas (fire); 4) rasa (taste), apas (water); 5) gandha (smell), pṛithivī (earth).§

tantra: तन्त्र “Loom, methodology.” 1) Most generally, a synonym for śāstra, “scripture.” 2) A synonym for the Āgamic texts, especially those of the Śākta faith, a class of Hindu scripture providing detailed instruction on all aspects of religion, mystic knowledge and science. The tantras are also associated with the Śaiva tradition. 3) A specific method, technique or spiritual practice within the Śaiva and Śākta traditions. See: tantrism.§

tantric (tāntrika): तान्त्रिक Adjectival form for practices prescribed in the tantra traditions. The name of a follower of any of the tantric traditions. See: tantra, tantrism.§

tantrism: The enlightenment path outlined in the Tantra scriptures. 1) Tantrism is sometimes considered a parallel stream of history and tradition in Hinduism, running alongside and gradually interweaving with the Vedic brāhminical tradition. 2) Tantrism refers to traditions, mainly within Śaivism and Śāktism, that focus on the arousal of the kuṇḍalinī force and which view the human body as a vehicle of the Divine and an instrument for liberation. Tantrism’s ultimate aim is a channeling of the kuṇḍalinī life force through the sushumṇā, the gracious channel, upwards into the sahasrāra chakra and beyond, through the door of Brahman (brahmarandhra) into Paraśiva, either before or at the time of death. The stress is on the transformation of all spheres of consciousness, spiritual, psychic, emotional and material. It is a path of sādhana. 3) —Śākta Tantrism: Brings a strong emphasis on the worship of the feminine force. Depending on the school, this may be symbolic or literal in rites involving sexual intercourse, etc. Śākta Tantrism’s main principle is the use of the material to gain the spiritual. In certain schools, historically, this implies embracing that which is normally forbidden and manipulating the forces to attain transcendent consciousness rather than lower consciousness. See: kuṇḍalinī, rāja yoga, Śāktism, tantra.§

tapas: तपस् “Warmth, heat,” hence psychic energy, spiritual fervor or ardor. Austerity, asceticism, penance. State of accelerated unfoldment and working with the forces through spiritual practices. A state of humble submission to the divine forces and surrender to the processes of inner purification which occurs almost automatically at certain stages. Denotes religious austerity, intense meditation, penance, bodily mortification; connotes spiritual purification and transformation as a “fiery process” that “burns up” impurities, ego, vāsanas and past karmas that obstruct God Realization. See: kuṇḍalinī, penance, sādhana.§

Taruṇa Gaṇapati: तरुणगणपति A name and traditional mūrti, or form, of Gaṇeśa, “the youthful one,” with eight arms, holding noose, goad, modaka, wood apple, rose apple, tusk, paddy and sugarcane.§

tattva: तत्त्व “That-ness” or “essential nature.” Tattvas are the primary principles, elements, states or categories of existence, the building blocks of the universe. Ṛishis describe this emanational process as the unfoldment of thirty-six tattvas, stages or evolutes of manifestation, descending from subtle to gross. At mahāpralaya, cosmic dissolution, they enfold into their respective sources, with only the first two tattvas surviving the great dissolution. See: mahāpralaya.§

temple: An edifice in a consecrated place dedicated to the worship of God or the Gods. From the Latin templum, “temple, sanctuary; marked space.” Hindu temples, over one million worldwide, are revered as sacred, magical places in which the three worlds most consciously commune—structures especially built and consecrated to channel the subtle spiritual energies of inner-world beings. The temple’s psychic atmosphere is maintained through regular worship ceremonies (pūjā) invoking the Deity, who from the Third World uses His installed image (mūrti) as a temporary body through which bless those living on the earth plane, the First World. See: darśana, pilgrimage.§

tenet: A principle, doctrine, or belief held as a truth, as by some group.§

theism: Belief that God exists as a real, conscious, personal Supreme Being, creator and ruler of the universe. May also include belief in the Gods.§

third eye: The inner organ of psychic vision, located above and between the two physical eyes at the location of the ājñā chakra. See: ājñā chakra, chakras.§

Third World: See: loka.§

three worlds: The three worlds of existence, triloka, are the primary hierarchical divisions of the cosmos. 1) Bhūloka: “Earth world,” the physical plane. 2) Antarloka: “Inner or in-between world,” the subtle or astral plane. 3) Śivaloka: “World of Śiva,” and of the Gods and highly evolved souls; the causal plane, also called Kāraṇaloka. See: loka, world.§

tila gola: तिलगोल “Sesame ball.” A type of Indian sweet.§

tilaka: तिलक “Sesamum-like mark,” from tila, “sesame seed.” Distinctive marks made on the forehead or the brow with clay, ashes or sandalwood paste as an indication of sectarian affiliation. Vaishṇavas wear a vertical v-shaped tilaka made of clay. The Śaivite tilaka, called tripuṇḍra, consists of three horizontal lines of white holy ash with a dot, usually red, below the middle of the forehead. See: bindu, Hinduism.§

tīrtha: तीर्थ “Passageway; ford.” A bathing ghat or place of pilgrimage, especially on the banks of sacred waters. Also refers to water offered in pūjā.§

tīrthayātrā: तीर्थयात्रा “Journeying to a holy place.” Pilgrimage. One of the five sacred duties (pañcha nitya karmas) of the Hindu is to journey periodically to one of the innumerable holy spots in India or other countries. Preceded by fasting and continence, it is a time of austerity and purification, when all worldly concerns are set aside and God becomes one’s singular focus. See: pañcha nitya karmas, pañcha śraddhā.§

Tirukural: திருக்குறள் “Holy couplets.” A treasury of Hindu ethical insight and a literary masterpiece of the Tamil language, written by Śaiva Saint Tiruvalluvar (ca 200 BCE) near present-day Madras. See: Tiruvalluvar.§

Tirumantiram: திருமந்திரம் “Holy incantation.” The Nandinātha Sampradāya’s oldest Tamil scripture; written ca 200 BCE by Ṛishi Tirumular. It is the earliest part of the Tirumurai, and a vast storehouse of esoteric yogic and tantric knowledge. It contains the essence of rāja yoga and siddha yoga and the fundamental doctrines of the 28 Śaiva Siddhānta Āgamas, which in turn are the heritage of the ancient pre-historic traditions of Śaivism.§

Tirumular: திருமூலர் An illustrious siddha yogī and ṛishi of the Nandinātha Sampradāya’s Kailāsa Paramparā who came from the Himalayas (ca 200 bce) to Tamil Nadu to compose the Tirumantiram. In this scripture he recorded the tenets of Śaivism in concise and precise verse form, based upon his own realizations and the supreme authority of the Śaiva Āgamas and the Vedas. Tirumular was a disciple of Maharishi Nandinātha. See: Kailāsa Paramparā, Tirumantiram, Vedānta.§

Tirumurai: திருமுறை “Holy book.” A twelve-book collection of hymns and writings of South Indian Śaivite saints, compiled by Saint Nambiyandar Nambi (ca 1000).§

Tiruvalluvar: திருவள்ளுவர் “Holy weaver.” Tamil weaver and householder saint (ca 200 bce) who wrote the classic Śaivite ethical scripture Tirukural. See: Tirukural.§

transcendent: Surpassing the limits of experience or manifest form. In Śaiva Siddhānta, a quality of God Śiva as Absolute Reality, Paraśiva, the Self. Distinguished from immanent. See: Paraśiva.§

transliteration: Writing words, sentences, etc., in the corresponding characters of another alphabet.§

translucent: Partially transparent; allowing some light to shine through.§

tribhaṅga: त्रिभंग “Three bends.” A standing pose in which the body’s center line passes through the left (or right) eye, the middle of the chest, and between the heels. The hips are shifted to the right (or left), the upper torso to the left (or right), and the head leans to the right (or left).§

tribal: Relating to, or having the character of a tribe, a group, clan or village related by ancestry, race or allegiance to a common leader or lineage. Often used in derogation in referring to so-called primitive peoples. Also neutral in reference to indigenous peoples worldwide.§

Trimukha Gaṇapati: त्रिमुखगणपति The contemplative “three-faced” Lord sits on a lotus flower, telling His beads and gesturing protection and blessings.§

tṛiṇa: तृण “Grass.”§

tripuṇḍra: त्रिपुण्ड्र “Three marks.” The Śaivite sectarian mark, consisting of three horizontal lines of vibhūti (holy ash) on the brow, often with a dot (bindu) at the third eye. The three lines represent the soul’s three bonds: āṇava, karma and māyā. Holy ash, made of burnt cow dung, is a reminder of the temporary nature of the physical body and the urgency to strive for spiritual attainment and closeness to God. See: bindu, tilaka, vibhūti.§

triśūla: त्रिशुल “Trident.”A three-pronged spear or trident wielded by Lord Śiva and certain Śaivite ascetics. Also held by loving Gaṇeśa, it symbolizes God’s three fundamental śaktis or powers—icçhā (desire, will, love), kriyā (action) and jñāna (wisdom).§

Tṛitīyākshi: तृतीयाक्षि “The third eye.” See: third eye.§

Tryakshara Gaṇapati: त्र्यक्षरगणपति “The Lord of three letters” (A-U-M) has fly whisks in His ears. He is often seen holding a tasty modaka in His trunk.§

turīya: तुरीय “The fourth.” The superconscious state beyond waking, dreaming and deep sleep. One of the four states of consciousness, avasthās, described in the Māṇḍūkya Upanishad. See: avasthā, consciousness.§

turīyātīta: तुरीयातीत “Beyond the fourth.” The utterly transcendent, superconscious state. A state of samādhi. See: avasthā, consciousness.§

Imageubiquitous: Present everywhere at the same time. Omnipresent.§

ucçhishṭa: उच्छिष्ट “Leavings; remainder.” Religiously, the precious leavings from the guru’s food plate or the waters from the bathing of his feet or sandals (or of a Deity) which are ingested by devotees as prasāda. See: prasāda, satguru.§

Ucçhishṭa Gaṇapati: उच्छिष्टगणपति A name and traditional mūrti, or form, of Gaṇeśa as “Lord of offerings (of that which has been offered and blessed).” A six-armed mūrti, He sits with His śakti, holding a vīṇā and a japa mālā.§

udarabandha: उदरबन्ध “Waistband.”§

Uddaṇḍa Gaṇapati: उद्दण्डगणपति “The enforcer of dharma” is a ten-armed mūrti holding a pot of gems, sugarcane, lotus, a mace and more.§

Umā: उमा “O do not.” A name for Śakti said to derive from the exclamation addressed to Pārvatī by her mother in the Śiva Purāṇa, beseeching her to desist from practicing austerities. Others connect it with the word ammā, meaning “mother” in South Indian languages.§

Umāsundarī: उमासुन्दरी “Goddess of Beauty,” or “Beauteous Mother.”§

Umāganesh (Umāgaṇeśa): उमागणेश “Motherly Lord of Hosts.” A name of Ganeśa.§

unmanifest: Not evident or perceivable. Philosophically, akin to transcendent. God Śiva is unmanifest in His formless perfection, Paraśiva. See: Paraśiva.§

upadeśa: उपदेश “Advice; religious instruction.” Often given in question-and-answer form from guru to disciple. The satguru’s spiritual discourses.§

upanayana: उपनयन “Bringing near.” A youth’s formal initiation into Vedic study under a guru, traditionally as a resident of his āśrama, and the investiture of the sacred thread (yajñopavīta or upavīta), signifying entrance into one of the three upper castes. The upanayana is among twelve saṁskāras prescribed in the Dharma Śāstras and explained in the Gṛihya Sūtras. See: saṁskāra.§

Upanishad: उपनिषद् “Sitting near devotedly.” The fourth and final portion of the Vedas, expounding the secret, philosophical meaning of the Vedic hymns. The Upanishads are a collection of profound texts which are the source of Vedānta and have dominated Indian thought for thousands of years. They are philosophical chronicles of ṛishis expounding the nature of God, soul and cosmos, exquisite renderings of the deepest Hindu thought. See: śruti, Veda, Vedānta.§

Ūrdhva Gaṇapati: ऊर्ध्वगणपति “The elevated one” sits with one of His śaktis on His left knee. His six hands hold a sprig of paddy, a lotus and more.§

utkuṭakāsana: उत्कुटकासन “Sitting on the hams,” usually with one or both knees raised. The name of a common bhaṅgima, or pose, of Lord Gaṇeśa.§

utsava: उत्सव “Festival.” Religious celebrations or holy days and their observance in the home and temple. Utsava is one of the five constant duties, pañcha nitya karmas. See: festival, pañcha nitya karmas.§

uttarāyaṇa: उत्तरायण “Northern way.” The half-year, ayana, beginning with winter solstice, when the sun begins its apparent northward journey.§

Image vāhana: वाहन “Bearing, carrying” or ”conveying.” Each Hindu God is depicted as riding an animal/bird vāhana, which is symbolic of a function of the God. For example, Śiva rides the bull, Lord Murugan rides the peacock and Lord Gaṇeśa rides the mouse.§

vaidyuta: वैद्युत “Proceeding from lightning.” Electric energy.§

vaikharī vāk: वैखरी वाक् “The faculty of speech.” See: vāk.§

Vaishṇava: वैष्णव “Way of Vishṇu.” Of or relating to Vishṇu. A follower of Lord Vishṇu or His incarnations, such as Kṛishṇa or Rāma. See: Vaishṇavism.§

Vaishṇavism (Vaishṇava): वैष्णव One of the four major religions or denominations of Hinduism, representing roughly half of the world’s one billion Hindus. It gravitates around the worship of Lord Vishṇu as Personal God, His incarnations and their consorts. Vaishṇavism stresses the personal aspect of God over the impersonal, and bhakti (devotion) as the true path to salvation. Foremost among Vaishṇava scriptures are the Vaishṇava Āgamas, Rāmāyaṇa, Bhagavad Gītā and Bhāgavata Purāṇa.§

Vaishṇavite: A follower of Vishṇu or His incarnations. See: Vaishṇavism.§

vaiśvānara: वैश्वानर “Referring to all human beings.” A term referring to the waking state of beings in general, the cosmic soul in the conscious mind. Vaiśvānara is one of the four states of consciousness, avasthās. It is a name for agni, as the fire that controls body, mind and emotions in the waking state. Also an alternate term for jāgrat, wakefulness. See: avasthā, jāgrat.§

vaiśya: वैश्य “Landowner; merchant.” The social class of bankers, businessmen, industrialists; employers. Merchant class, originally those whose business was trade as well as agriculture. See: varṇa dharma.§

vajra: वज्र “Lightning bolt.” Also vajratriśūla. A symbol of spiritual power. Usually two tridents, without staffs, joined together with the two sets of three prongs pointing away from one another at 180°. Vajra can also refer to the single trident.§

vāk: वाक् “Speech.” Theologically, it is through the supreme Vāk (or Paravāk), the “Primal Word” of the Vedas, and its various aspects, that creation issues forth. Vāk, the word, is said to descend in four cosmic steps or levels: mahākāraṇa, the great causal; kāraṇa, the causal, the mind principle; sūkshma, the vital life force; and sthūla, physical matter. These correspond to the four states, avasthās, of consciousness: jāgrat, wakefulness; svapna, dreaming; sushupti, deep sleep; and turīya, the fourth. Related to the human microcosm in the tantrika tradition, vāk is correlated to the chakras. Paravāk, the great causal, mahākāraṇa, is said to center in the base of the spinal column in the mūlādhāra chakra, the abode of Gaṇapati as Brahmaṇaspati, Master of the Word. Pasyānti vāk, “the word that perceives,” is located in the navel center, maṇipūra chakra. Madhyama vāk, the intermediate word, is centered between the navel and the throat, from whence speech, vaikharī vāk, is expressed. Gaṇapati as Brahmaṇaspati is the Master of the Word, the Lord of Satya Mantra. And so, the Tantra conceives Him having His abode in the mūlādhāra of beings, from where speech originates in the form of Paravāk.§

Vakratuṇḍa: वक्रतुण्ड “He of crooked trunk.” An aspect of Lord Gaṇeśa cited in the Mudgala Purāṇa as the conqueror of matsara, jealousy.§

valampuri: वलम्पुरि “Right-turning.” A term for the rather rare images of Gaṇeśa in which the trunk is turning to the Deity’s right. Cf: edampuri.§

vāma: वाम 1) “Pleasant; beautiful; benignant; striving after”—as in Vāmadeva, a name of Śiva. 2) “Left; crooked; acting in the opposite way”—as in vāma mārga, the left-handed tantric path. See: left-handed, tantrism.§

vanakkam: வணக்கம் The Tamil equivalent to namaskāra.§

Varada Gaṇapati: वरदगणपति “The boon-giver” is the mūrti distinguished by the prominent third eye, dish of honey and crowning crescent moon.§

varada mudrā: वरदमुद्र “Boon-giving gesture.” A hand pose shown by the Gods or a guru, in which the palm hangs loose at the wrist, facing the benefactor, with the fingers pointing downward, usually outstretched.§

Varada Vināyaka: वरदविनायक “Lord of boons.” The Gaṇeśa mūrti enshrined at the Mahad Hamlet Temple of Mahārāshṭra.§

Vārāṇasī: वाराणसी Also known as Kāśī or Banāras. (Derived from the name of two rivers, the Varaṇā, “warding off,” and Asī, “sword.”) One of the most holy of Śaivite cities, and among the oldest cities in the world. Located in North India on the Ganges River. Hindus consider it highly sanctifying to die in Kāśī, revering it as a gateway to moksha.§

varṇa dharma: वर्णधर्म “The way of one’s kind.” The hereditary social class system, generally referred to as caste, established in India in ancient times. Within varṇa dharma are the many religious and moral codes which define human virtue. Varṇa dharma is social duty, in keeping with the principles of good conduct, according to one’s community, which is generally based on the craft or occupation of the family. Strictly speaking it encompasses two interrelated social hierarchies: 1) varṇa, which refers to the four classes: brāhmin, kshatriya, vaiśya and śūdra; and 2) jāti, the myriad occupational subgroups, or guilds, which in India number over 3,000.§

varṇāśrama dharma: वर्णाश्रमधर्म “The way of one’s caste and stage of life.” Names the social structure of four classes (varṇa), hundreds of castes (jāti) and four stages of life (āśramas). It is the combined principles of varṇa dharma and āśrama dharma. See: āśrama dharma, dharma.§

vāsanā: वासना “Abode.” Subconscious inclinations. From vās, “dwelling, residue, remainder.” The subliminal inclinations and habit patterns which, as driving forces, color and motivate one’s attitudes and future actions. Vāsanās are the conglomerate results of subconscious impressions (saṁskāras) created through experience. Saṁskāras, experiential impressions, combine in the subconscious to form vāsanās, which thereafter contribute to mental fluctuations, called vṛitti. The most complex and emotionally charged vāsanās are found in the dimension of mind called the sub-subconscious, or vāsanā chitta. See: saṁskāra, mind (five states).§

Vasishṭha: वसिष्ठ “Most excellent.” Disciple of Maharishi Nandikeśvara (Nandinātha) (ca 250 bce) along with Patañjali and Vyāghrapāda (as recorded in Pāṇini’s book of grammar). Also the name of several other famous sages, including the ṛishi attributed with composing the hymns of the Ṛig Veda’s seventh maṇḍala, another who plays a central role in the epics and certain Purāṇas and Upanishads, and a third who expounds the ancient yogic wisdom to Lord Rāma in the 29,000-verse Yoga Vāsishṭha.§

Veda: वेद “Wisdom.” Sagely revelations which comprise Hinduism’s most authoritative scripture. They, along with the Āgamas, are śruti, “that which is heard.” The Vedas are a body of dozens of holy texts known collectively as the Veda, or as the four Vedas: Ṛig, Yajur, Sāma and Atharva. In all they include over 100,000 verses as well as additional prose. Each Veda has four sections: Saṁhitās (hymn collections), Brāhmaṇas (priestly manuals), Āraṇyakas (forest treatises) and Upanishads (enlightened discourses). See: Āraṇyaka, Brāhmaṇa, śruti, Upanishad.§

Vedānta: वेदान्त “Ultimate wisdom” or “final conclusions of the Vedas.” Vedānta is the system of thought embodied in the Upanishads (ca 1500-600 bce), which give forth the ultimate conclusions of the Vedas. Through history there developed numerous Vedānta schools, ranging from pure dualism to absolute monism. The Vedānta perspective elucidated in Loving Gaṇesha is Advaita Īśvaravāda, “monistic theism” or panentheism, exemplified in the Vedānta-Siddhānta of Ṛishi Tirumular (ca 250 bce) of the Nandinātha Sampradāya in his Tirumantiram, which is a perfect summation of both the Vedas and the Āgamas. See: monistic theism, panentheism, Tirumantiram.§

Vedic-Āgamic: Simultaneously drawing from and complying with both of Hinduism’s revealed scriptures (śruti), Vedas and Āgamas, which represent two complementary, intertwining streams of history and tradition. The difference between Siddhānta and Vedānta is traditionally described in that while the Vedas represent man looking for God, the Āgamas hold the perspective of God looking to help man.§

vegetarian: Śākāhāra. Of a diet which excludes meat, fish, fowl and eggs. Vegetarianism is a principle of health and environmental ethics that has been a keystone of Indian life for thousands of years. Vegetarian foods include grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes and dairy products. A person following a vegetarian diet is called a śākāhārī. A nonveggie is called mānsāhārī. See: guṇa, non-veggie, veggie, yama-niyama.§

veggie: A vegetable. A vegetarian. See: non-veggie, vegetarian.§

veiling grace: Tirobhāva śakti. The divine power that limits the soul’s perception by binding or attaching the soul to the bonds of āṇava, karma, and māyā— enabling it to grow and evolve as an individual being. See: grace.§

vel: வேல் “Spear, lance.” The symbol of Lord Kārttikeya’s divine authority as Lord of yoga and commander of the devas. (Known as śūla in Sanskrit.)§

venerate: To respect deeply; to revere.§

vermillion: Bright red.§

vestments: The clothing, especially official robes or other garb, worn by religious persons, often as a sign of their spiritual position or ordination.§

vibhūti: विभूति Powerful,” “pervading,” “appearing.” From bhū “existence,” or “manifestation” and vi, “apart.” Holy ash, a whitish powder prepared by burning cow dung along with other precious substances—milk, ghee, honey, etc. It symbolizes purity and is one of the main sacraments offered to God and given to worshipers after pūjā in all Śaivite temples and shrines. Śaivites wear three stripes on the brow as a distinct sectarian mark, as do many Smārtas. Vibhūti is also a synonym for siddhi, supernormal powers developed through yoga practice. See: tilaka, tripuṇḍra.§

vidyā: विद्या “Knowledge, learning, science.” The power of understanding gained through study and meditation. Contrasted with avidyā, ignorance.§

vidyārambha: विद्यारंभ “Commencement of learning.” See: saṁskāra.§

Vighnarāja Gaṇapati: विघ्नराजगणपति “The Lord of Obstacles” is bedecked in jewels. His special implements are the conch, discus and flower arrow. This is Gaṇeśa’s aspect as the conqueror of mamata, egoity.§

Vighneśvara: विघ्नेश्वर “Lord of Obstacles.” A name for Lord Gaṇeśa describing His power to both remove and create obstacles to guide souls along the right path. See: Gaṇeśa.§

Vijaya Gaṇapati: विजयगणपति “The victorious one” rides the mouse and holds four primary symbols: the broken tusk, goad, noose and mango.§

Vikaṭa: विकट “Deformed; having an unusual size or aspect.” A name of Gaṇeśa cited in the Mudgala Purāṇa as the conqueror of kāma, lust.§

vīṇā: वीणा Large South Indian popular musical instrument usually having seven strings and two calabash gourd resonance boxes.§

Vināyaka: विनायक “Remover.” A name of Lord Gaṇeśa, meaning the remover of obstacles (sometimes preceded by vighna, “obstacle”). See: Gaṇeśa.§

Vināyaka Ahaval: விநாயகர் அகவல் “Ode to Vināyaka.” Famous Tamil poem in praise of Gaṇeśa by the woman saint, Auvaiyar (ca 200bce).§

Vināyaka Vratam: விநாயக விரதம் A 21-day festival to Lord Gaṇeśa beginning on the full-moon day of November-December. An important festival in Tamil Nadu and in Tamil communities worldwide, when special pūjās are conducted in Gaṇeśa temples and devotees make a vow (vrata), such as to attend the daily pūjā or to fast by taking only one meal a day.§

Vīra Gaṇapati: वीरगणपति “The valiant warrior” is a mūrti recognized by His sixteen hands, holding a variety of weapons: mace, bow, axes and more.§

visarjana: विसर्जन “Departure.” See: Gaṇeśa Chaturthī.§

Vishṇu: विश्णु “The All-Pervasive.” Supreme Deity of the Vaishṇavite religion. God as personal Lord and Creator, the All-Loving Divine Personality, who periodically incarnates and lives a fully human life to reestablish dharma whenever necessary. In Śaivism, Vishṇu is Śiva’s aspect as Preserver. See: Vaishṇavism.§

visualize (visualization): To imagine, create mental images. Exercising the power of thought to plan for and shape the future.§

viśvagrāsa: विश्वग्रास “Total absorption.” The final merger, or absorption, of the soul in Śiva, by His grace, at the fulfillment of its evolution. It is the ultimate union of the individual soul body with the body of Śiva—Parameśvara—within the Śivaloka, from whence the soul first emanated. This occurs at the end of the soul’s evolution, after the four outer sheaths—annamaya kośa, prāṇamaya kośa, manomaya kośa and vijñānamaya kośa—have been discarded. Finally, ānandamaya kośa, the soul form itself, merges in the Primal Soul. Individuality is lost as the soul becomes Śiva, the Creator, Preserver, Destroyer, Veiler and Revealer. Individual identity expands into universality. Having previously merged in Paraśiva and Parāśakti in states of samādhi, the soul now fully merges into Parameśvara and is one with all three of Śiva’s perfections. Jīva has totally become Śiva—not a new and independent Śiva, as might be construed, for there is and can only be one Supreme God Śiva. See: ātman, evolution of the soul, samādhi, soul.§

vitala: वितल “Region of negation.” Region of raging anger and viciousness. The second chakra below the mūlādhāra, centered in the thighs. Corresponds to the second astral netherworld beneath the Earth’s surface, called Avīchi (“joyless”) or Vitala. See: chakra, loka, Naraka.§

vivāha: विवाह “Marriage.” See: saṁskāras.§

Vivekānanda, Swāmī: विवेकानन्द “Of blissful discrimination.” Disciple of Śrī Rāmakṛishṇa who was overtaken by an ardent love of Hinduism and a missionary zeal that drove him onward. He attained mahāsamādhi at age 39 (1863–1902). Most notable among his achievements was a trip around the world on which he gave brilliant lectures, especially in Europe and America, that created much respect for Hinduism. In India he founded the Rāmakṛishṇa Mission which thrives today internationally with over 100 centers and nearly 1,000 sannyāsins. He is credited, along with Tagore, Aurobindo, Rādhākṛishṇan and others, with sparking the modern Hindu revival.§

vow: See: vrata.§

vrata: व्रत “Vow, religious oath.” Often a vow to perform certain disciplines over a period of time, such as penance, fasting, specific mantra repetitions, worship or meditation. Vratas extend from the simplest personal promise to irrevocable vows made before God, Gods, guru and community.§

vrātyastoma: व्रात्यस्तोम “Vow pronouncement.” The traditional purification rite, outlined in the Taṇḍya Brāhmaṇa, to welcome back into a Hindu community those who have become impure. It is performed for Hindus returning to India from abroad and for those who have embraced other faiths.§

vṛiksha: वृक्ष “Tree.”§

Imagewealth: Artha. Abundance; financial stability. See: purushārtha.§

wood apple: The kapittha fruit. See: kapittha.§

world: In Hindu theology, world refers to 1) loka: a particular region of consciousness or plane of existence. 2) māyā: The whole of manifest existence; the phenomenal universe, or cosmos, including the mental, spiritual and physical realms of existence, depending on its use. Also denoted by the terms prakṛiti and Brahmāṇḍa. 3) pāśa: In Śaivism, the term world is often used to translate the term pāśa in the Āgamic triad of fundamentals—Pati, paśu, pāśa, “God, soul, world.” It is thus defined as the “fetter” (pāśa) that binds the soul, veiling its true nature and enabling it to grow and evolve through experience as an individual being. In this sense, the world, or pāśa, is three-fold, comprising āṇava (the force of individuation), karma (the principle of cause and effect) and māyā (manifestation, the principle of matter, Śiva’s mirific energy, the sixth tattva). See: Brahmāṇḍa, loka, māya, microcosm-macrocosm, pāśa, tattva.§

worldly: Materialistic, unspiritual. Devoted to or concerned with the affairs or pleasures of the world, especially excessive concern to the exclusion of religious thought and life. Connoting ways born of the lower chakras: jealousy, greed, selfishness, anger, guile, etc. —worldliness: The state or quality of being worldly.§

Image yajña: यज्ञ “Worship; sacrifice.” One of the most central Hindu concepts—sacrifice and surrender through acts of worship, inner and outer. 1) A form of ritual worship especially prevalent in Vedic times, in which oblations—ghee, grains, spices and exotic woods—are offered into a fire according to scriptural injunctions while special mantras are chanted. The element fire, Agni, is revered as the divine messenger who carries offerings and prayers to the Gods.§

yajñopavīta: यज्ञोपवीत “Sacred thread.” See: upanayana.§

Yajur Veda: यजु्र्वेद “Wisdom of sacrificial formulas.” One of the four compilations of revelatory texts called Vedas (Ṛig, Sāma, Yajur and Atharva). When used alone, the term Yajur Veda generally refers to this Veda’s central and oldest portion—the Saṁhitā, “hymn collection.” Of this there are two recensions: 1) the Kṛishṇa (“black”) Yajur Veda (so called because the commentary, Brāhmaṇa, material is mixed with the hymns); and 2) the Śukla (“white or clear”) Yajur Veda (with no commentary among the hymns). See: Vedas.§

yama-niyama: यमनियम “Restraints-observances.” The first two of the eight limbs of rāja yoga, constituting Hinduism’s fundamental ethical codes, the ten yamas and ten niyamas are the essential foundation for all spiritual progress. The yamas are the ethical restraints; the niyamas are the religious practices. Here are the ten traditional yamas and ten niyamas. —yamas: 1) ahiṁsā: “Noninjury.” 2)-satya: “Truthfulness.” 3) asteya: “Nonstealing.” 4) brahmacharya: “Sexual purity.” 5) kshamā: “Patience.” 6) dhṛiti: “Steadfastness.” 7) dayā: “Compassion.” 8) ārjava: “Honesty, straightforwardness.” 9) mitāhāra: “Moderate appetite.” 10) śaucha: “Purity.” —niyamas: 1) hrī: “Remorse.” 2) santosha: “Contentment.” 3) dāna: “Giving.” 4) āstikya: “Faith.” 5) Īśvarapūjana: “Worship of the Lord.” 6) siddhānta śravaṇa: “Scriptural listening.” 7) mati: “Cognition.” 8) vrata: “Sacred vows.” 9) japa: “Recitation.” 10) tapas: “Austerity.” See: rāja yoga.§

yantra: यन्त्र “Restrainer,” “limiter,” a mystic diagram composed of geometric and alphabetic figures—usually etched on small plates of gold, silver or copper. Sometimes rendered in three dimensions in stone or metal. The purpose of a yantra is to focus spiritual and mental energies according to computer-like yantric pattern, be it for health, wealth, childbearing or the invoking of one God or another. It is usually installed near or under the temple Deity.§

yoga: योग “Union.” From yuj, “to yoke, harness, unite.” The philosophy, process, disciplines and practices whose purpose is the yoking of individual consciousness with transcendent or divine consciousness. One of the six darśanas, or systems of orthodox Hindu philosophy. Yoga was codified by Patañjali in his Yoga Sūtras (ca 200 bce) as the eight limbs (ashṭāṅga) of rāja yoga. It is essentially a one system, but historically, parts of rāja yoga have been developed and emphasized as yogas in themselves. Prominent among the many forms of yoga are haṭha yoga (emphasizing bodily perfection in preparation for meditation), kriyā yoga (emphasizing breath control), as well as karma yoga (selfless service) and bhakti yoga (devotional practices) which could be regarded as an expression of rāja yoga’s first two limbs (yama and niyama). See: bhakti yoga, haṭha yoga, rāja yoga.§

yogadaṇḍa: यगदण्ड “Meditation staff.” A curved arm rest used during meditation, usually made of wood and attached to a staff about two feet long.§

Yoga Gaṇapati: योगगणपति “The meditator” is a special mūrti of Gaṇeśa, seated in yogic pose holding a yoga staff and a strand of prayer beads.§

Yogaswami: யோகசுவாமி “Master of yoga.” Sri Lanka’s renowned spiritual master (1872–1964); a siddhar of the Nandinātha Sampradāya’s Kailasa Paramparā who initiated Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami in 1949. See: Kailāsa Paramparā.§

yogī: योगी One who practices yoga, especially kuṇḍalinī yoga or rāja yoga. (More properly yogin. Feminine, yoginī.)§

yuga: युग “Eon,” “age.” One of four ages which chart the duration of the world: Satya (or Kṛita), Tretā, Dvāpara and Kali. In the first period, dharma reigns supreme; but as the ages revolve, virtue diminishes and ignorance and injustice increase. At the end of the Kali Yuga (our current period), the cycle begins again with Satya Yuga.§