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Abhyasa – practice, focus

Advaita – non-duality principal; having no duality; the supreme Reality, which is the “one without a second.” The word advaita is especially used in Vedanta philosophy, which stresses the unity of the Self (Atman) and Brahman.

Agni – fire principle

Ahamkara – [aham “I”; kara “maker”] Self-will, separateness; ego

Ahimsa – non-violence, doing no injury, wishing no harm

Akasha – space, sky; the subtlest of the five elements

Arjuna – one of the five Pandava brothers and an important figure in Indian epic and legend. He is Sri Krishna’s beloved disciple and friend in the Bhagavad Gita.

Ananda – joyfulness

Ashtanga – eight-limbs of yoga

Atman – “Self”; the innermost soul in every creature, which is divine

Ayurveda – science of life/longevity, 5000-year old holistic system of medicine from India

Avidya – ignorance, lack of wisdom

Avyaya – the eternal, the changeless

Bhagavad Gita – “The Song of the Lord”, name of Hindu scripture which contains the instruction of Sri Krishna

Brahma – God as creator, one of the Hindu Trinity; the others are Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer

Bramacharya – conduct leading to God, self-control, purity

Brahman – the supreme reality underlying all life, the divine ground of existence, the impersonal God-head

Brahmin – literally, a person who strives to know Brahman; in traditional Hindu society, a person of the priestly or learned class

Bhakti – devotion, worship, love

Bhakti Yoga – The Way of Love

Bandha – a binding, lock

Buddha – the Awakened one, the title given to the sage Siddhartha Gautama Shakyamuni after he obtained complete illumination. The Buddha lived and taught in North India during the sixth century B.C.

Buddhi – intellect, reason, decision-making aspect of the citta

Chakra – energy center in the subtle body, “wheel”

Cit – pure consciousness (without gunas)

Citta—conditioned consciousness (with gunas)

Deva – God, male deity

Devi – Goddess, female deity

Dharma – law, duty; the universal law which holds all life together in unity; that which upholds

Dristi – view

Duhkha – pain, suffering, “bad space”

Gandharva – heavenly musicians who are demigods, rather touchy and proud, handsome and amorous

Garuda – The great eagle that is Vishnu’s vehicle

Gayatri – a kind of meter used in the Vedic hymns; a prayer to the sun composed in this meter

Guna – attribute, quality; specifically, the three qualities which makeup the phenomenal world: sattva, law, harmony, purity, goodness; rajas, energy, passion; and tamas, inertia, ignorance. The corresponding adjectives are sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic.

Guru – teacher, mentor; the planet Jupiter; heavy

Gurukula – studying in the home of the teacher

Hatha – force, joining of sun and moon; difficult type of yoga requiring great effort

Iccha – desire, will

Istadevata – desired deity, deity chosen for worship

Ishvara – personal God, universal teacher

Jnana – wisdom; higher knowledge

Jnana Yoga – The Way of Wisdom

Jyotisa – Vedic astrology/astronomy

Kala – time

Kama – selfish desire, greed; sexual desire, sometimes personified as Kamadeva

Karma – action; former actions which will lead to certain results in a cause-and-effect relationship

Karma Yoga – The Way of Action

Kauravas – “The sons of Kuru”, Duryodhana and his brothers, who are the enemies of the Pandava brothers

Kichadi – cooked mung beans and rice, and easy digest meal taken during panchakarma

Kirtana – telling, praise

Kosha – sheath, layer (subtle body)

Krishna – [‘black’; or from krish ‘to draw, to attract to oneself”] “The Dark One” or “He who draws us to Himself,” name of an incarnation of Vishnu. Vishnu, the cosmic force of goodness, comes to earth as Krishna to reestablish dharma, or law. Krishna is the friend and advisor of the Pandava brothers especially Arjuna, to whom he reveals the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita. He is the inner Lord, who personifies spiritual love and lives in the hearts of all beings.

Kshertra – a field; a place; a sacred place or temple

Kundalini – “The serpent power”, spiritual or evolutionary energy

Kurukshetra – “The field of the Kurus”, where the Mahabharata battle takes place. It is north of the modern city of Delhi.

Mahabharata – name of the great Indian epic composed some 2,500 years ago, traditionally attributed to the sage Vyasa. It relates the conflict between the descendants of Pandu (the forces of light) and those of Dhritarashtra (the forces of darkness)

Manas – the mind; specifically, the faculty which registers and stores sensory impressions

Mantra – a holy name or phrase; a spiritual formula

Maya – illusion; appearance, as contrasted with Reality; the creative power of God

Mira – a woman saint of medieval India remembered for her songs to her beloved Krishna

Moksha – liberation, salvation, illumination

Nirvana – complete extinction of self-will and separateness; realization of the unity of all life

Nirvikalpa samadhi – a state of spiritual awareness in which there is no perception of duality, of inside or outside, of subject and object; merger in the impersonal godhead

Om – [or Aum] the cosmic sound, heard in deep meditation; signifies Brahman, the divine ground of existence

Patanjali – the author of the Yoga Sutras, a classic description of the way to Self-realization through meditation. Patanjali lived around the second century BCE and his method id sometimes referred to as raja yoga

Prakriti – the basic energy from which the mental and physical worlds take shape; nature

Prana – breath, vital force

Purusha – witness consciousness unaffected by the material world

Sadhana – 1) body of disciplines or way of life which leads to the supreme goal of Self-realization; 2) personal practice “accomplishing”

Samadhi – mystical union with God; a state of intense concentration in which consciousness is completely unified

Samsara – perpetual cycle of birth and death

Samskara – acquired subliminal impressions, habits

Sanga/Sangha – community

Sankhya – one of the six branches of traditional Hindu philosophy

Sanyasa – renunciation

Sat – The Real; truth; goodness

Satya – truth

Savikalpa samadhi – [sa-vikalpa “having distinctions” or “admitting separateness”] Samadhi in which some duality of subject and object remains, the devotee being absorbed in his meditation without becoming completely identified with the object of contemplation; union with the personal God

Shakti – power, divine feminine

Shraddha – faith

Sri – a title of respect originally meaning “lord” or “holy”

Svadharma – the duty appropriate to a particular person, one’s own individual dharma

Tantra – technique usually involving mantra, yantra and deities, especially the Goddess

Tapas – a practice causing change, “heat”; austerity, control of the senses; the spiritual power acquired through self-control

Tejas – brilliance and heat of prana, fire

Upanishad – texts compiled after the Vedas encapsulating their wisdom “sitting close and beneath”

Vayu – wind

Veda – knowledge; the name of the most ancient Sanskrit scriptures; considered to be a direct revelation from God to the mystics of the past

Vidya – a science or branch of study

Vedanta – philosophy of Vedic thought encapsulated in the Upanishads

Viniyoga – application of yoga

Vinyasa – flowing sequence, arrangement

Vritti – fluctuation, activity, “a turning”

Yantra – visual geometrical pattern

Yoga – union, connection, relationship; a path or discipline which leads to a state of total integration or unity; one of the six branches of Hindu philosophy

Yogi – a person who practices spiritual disciplines

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