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Many words in yoga works come from Sanskrit, and they can be transcribed and explained differently. It is similar with the use of capital letters, in that practices differ. Some write Tantra, another tantra, and so on.

Some typical yoga words are explained below. A mark above a vowel tips in a simplified way where to put the stress. With words that are adopted in English the stress may or may not be placed differently. "Not a few in the West say /maharíshi/, yet in India it is '/mahárshi/." [Sanskrit pronunciation]

See also Buddhist words. At the bottom of the page is a booklist.


abhayam   Fearless.

abhimana   Egoism, identification with the body.

abhyása   Spiritual practice ending in Oneness.

áchárya   Teacher; instructor, spiritual preceptor; propounder of a doctrine. As a title it is affixed to the names of learned men.

adhikari   A qualified person.

adhishthana   Substratum, support.

adhyasa   Superimposition or false attribution of properties of one thing on another thing.

adhyatmic   Spiritual.

adi   "First", meaning original, primordial.

Aditya   A Hindu deity.

advaita   Not two, i.e. non-duality. A school of Vedanta philosophy that teaches the state of sensed oneness with nature and Further, a philosophy which aims at getting over and above (beyond) duality, beyond opposites. It can be associated with monism. Its most renowned exponent is Shankara.

Agama   A class of tantric literature; tantric scripture dealing with rites, righteousness (dharma), cosmology and the like. Agamas are works found within the tradition of the tantrics and Kaula, as opposed to that of the orthodox or Aryans known as Veda. In Agamas, Shakti (femaleness) asks Shiva (masculinity deep inside) questions, and he replies. [See WP, s.v. "Agama (Hinduism)"]

Agasthya    A revered Vedic sage. He is also called Agasti and Agathiyar.

Agni    Fire; fire god, a bhuta (qv): the fire element. See tattwas.

agnihotra    A Vedic sacrifice where clarified butter, milk, and curds are offered to the god of fire.

aham    I, embodied self; soul.

ahamkára    (Lit., 'I-maker,' the central I-instance inside. It handles and deals with experiences of outer objects. It can be good and bad and in between those two. It can be gross or subtle and in between those two. It can work in healty ways for our good, or take nasty turns if unhealthy or unsavoury. Realistic handling of hindu teachings depends on healthy, central i-instances in lots of persons. One should go for it, as good learning, fit adaptations, and savoury realistic handling in general depend on ahamkara. On the other hand, some forms of madness with lacks or lossess of assessments may be related to unsound, defective workings of the i- instance. The term is used in the samkhya (qv) philosophy.

ahimsá    It means "non-hurt" or "non-damage", i.e. non-injury in thought, word and deed. Absence of negativity from within; non-violence

Aing, Aim    Mantra of Saraswati and Tara, and also of a chakra or two, according to the tantric Sir John Woodroffe.

ajapa mantra    "Hamsa" with variant spellings and practices. See HAMSA.

ajna chakra    The mid-area between the eyebrows, associated with good and able use of the mind and the so-called third eye. [further study]

ajnana    Ignorance; primal ignorance that is rooted in duality.

akarma    From a + karma. Karma means several things, and akarma means many things correspondingly, for example: failure to perform fruitful actions, freedom from fruitive results; inaction; nonperformance of prescribed duties, etc. ['Karma' comes from 'kri', work.]

amrita    That which is immortal. Nectar of the Gods.

anahata chakra    concentration point in the spine behind the heart; centre of Emotion and the experience of unconditional love.

anahata    Mystic sound heard by Yogis.

anahata dhwani    A spontaneous perpetual sound one can hear in deep concentration.

ánanda    Bliss, happiness, joy.

ananda-ghana    Cloud of bliss.

anandamaya kosha    The sheath ("layer") of bliss. See kosha(s).

anandamaya    Full of great happiness.

ananda-svarupa    Of the form of bliss.

Ananta Naga    A name of Shesha, the hydra-headed serpent.

annamaya kosha    The dimension of matter. The physical body. "Kosha" means sheath.

antar mouna    Inner stillness, and thought observation.

ananda-svarupa    Of the form of bliss.

antaryami    (Lit., one who controls from within). God residing in and controlling from within.

anushasanam    Governing or managing the subtle aspects of human personality; Discipline.

apta    An illumined person, whose words are infallible.

arhata    A perfected Soul.

Arjuna    A hero in the epos Mahabharata and thus also in the Bhagavad Gita, which is a part of the epic poem. In the Gita, the archer Arjuna asks Krishna about his purpose in life. Krishna calls Arjuna by many names in the poem:
    Anagha; sinless one – Arjuna; pure in nature – Bharata; descendent of Bharata – Bharatarishabha, Bharatasattama, Btharatasreshta; best of the Bharata; Dhananjaya; the conqueror of wealth – Gudakesa; conqueror of sleep – Kapidhwaja; he whose ensign is a monkey – Kaunteya; the son of Kunti – Kiriti; he who wears a diadem – Kurunandana; Born in the Kura clan - The joy of the Kurus – Kurusreshta; the best of the Kurus – Mahabahu; the mighty-armed – Pandava; Pandu's son – Paramtapa; oppressor of the enemies – Purushavyaghra; tiger among men – Savyasachin; left-handed - One who can shoot arrows with the left hand too (Source: Chidbhavananda 2012, 1007)

artha    Sanskrit for wealth, property. Pursuing wealth or material advantage is one of the four traditional aims in life, and should be adhered to. Wealth helps order and social goings in so far as society rests on wealth. Artha (wealth) must be regulated by righteousness (dharma), is in the teaching too. To put wealth and three more aims in perspective, see kama, dharma, and moksha too.

Arya(s)    Indo-Aryans.

ásana    Yogic posture; physical posture in which one is at ease and in harmony with one's self. A bodily pose or posture.

áshram(a)    (1) Any of the four stages of life of a Hindu, viz., Brahmacharya, Garhasthya, Vanaprastha, and Sannyasa. (2) It is also a traditional name referring to places where yoga is lived and taught; a home of a person or group who lead a spiritual life. Hermitage; monastery.

ashtánga, ashtánga yoga  It refers to Patanjali's yoga with eight steps or limbs, as laid bare in his yoga sutras. It is claimed to be genuine royal yoga (raja yoga) too.

asteya    Non-stealing.

asuras    Antigods.

asuric    Demoniac.

asvatta tree    The holy fig tree, at times used as a symbol of the universe.

Átma(n)    Individual soul; the Self, one's spirit. The highest or true self as Distinct from the consciousness of ego. There is no difference between Atman and paramatman except that caused by maya. The atman (self deep inside) is not necessarily embodied.

Atma-jnana    Self-knowledge; i.e., knowledge of the Self.

Atma-svarupa    The essential nature of the Self.

Atma vichara    Inquiry into the Self.

Aum    A mantra (also spelled Om) which is described as the primordial sound; the Sound through which the manifest world comes into being. It is often used as a Sound-symbol of brahman. In some upanishadic texts it is written that enlightenment may Come from chanting this mantra alone, which is used to open or close prayerful sessions Etc. Aum may be heard through a particular meditation technique.

Aushadhi    Name of the Goddess as Mother of Herbs and medicine.

avadhút    A naked sage, more specifically someone who transcends body and worldly consciousness.

avatar(a)    Lit., 'descent', from Sanskrit 'avatarati' he descends, from 'Ava', away + 'tarati', he crosses over. An avatar may be an incarnation (embodyment) of a God or goddess into a human or animal form, or of divinity (more abstract).
    The hindu god Vishnu, for example, is said to have incarnated many times, as (1) a Fish; (2), a tortoise, (3) a boar, (4) a man-lion, (5) a dwarf, (6) Axe-Rama, (7) Rama, (8) Krishna, and (9) Balarama. Gautama Buddha is in some of these lists too.
    Avatarhood lore also counts with such as full (purna) and partial embodiments of Divinity. And some persons that appear to embody admirable qualities, may be called avatars of those qualities.
    The word may also represent one who incarnates a particular truth or path on Earth. Thus, Matsyendranath is the avatar of the Kaula Jnana Nirnaya tantra.

avidyá    Not-knowing, i.e. ignorance of reality. Ignorance. spiritual blindness. Illusion.

Áyurveda    "Knowledge of longevity": Ancient and traditional Indian system of Medicine and medical practices coupled with rigorous ways of life and recuperation Adjustments too. Surgery was included in this system of medicine too.


baba    Bengali for 'father'. Thus, Sai Baba may be rendered as "Father Sai".

babu    "Mister".

bandhas    Bandhas are a series of powerful locks designed to unlock blockages of energy in the body. Mulbandha contracts an area around muladhara chakra in the perineal area. Uddiyana bandha involves a contraction of the abdominal area. Jalandhara bandha involves a contraction of the throat. Mahabandha is a combination of all three locks.

bhaga    The divine Enjoyer in man. Also: portion.

Bhagavan    The Lord (lit., one endowed with six attributes, such as great spiritual power, righteousness, glory, splendour, knowledge. ( Any Godhead that has been born; one of Love and Delight. Often rendered as Blessed Lord, supreme Godhead-personality, a Person-of-Divinity born. "The Word made flesh" may correspond quite nicely to it. According to Hindu thinking, there can be more than one Bhagavan, more than one Person-God.

Bhagavad GÍtá    Literally, "Song of the Lord (Krishna)" A part of the very large Mahabharata, an epic poem which contains sri krishna's teachings. It is a looming 'chapter' within a section of the Sanskrit epic poem, and is, in turn, subdivided into eighteen chapters itself. The gita (song) takes the form of a dialogue between a chariot-driving Krishna and the bowman Arjuna, his friend, while they stand on the battlefield between two armies on the brink of war. Arjuna is filled with doubt and questions how good this particular warfare could be. Krishna, in turn, explains what is called good and great. The Gita contains a medley of old philosophies. Two versions of the text are available here. [Link]

Bhágavata    Name of a purana (a work dealing with doctrines of creation, gods and myths, fabled kings and royal dynasties, teachings of sages, sayings for living and so on). There are over 18 main puranas. All these works along with the vedas are ascribed to the ancient expert of writing vyasa. Yet they hail different and in part much competing gods of the hindu pantheon. Siva Purana is one of them. Vishnu Purana is another, Markandeya Purana still another.

bhajan    Devotional song. Bhajans are a form of chanting. Usually, they are Traditional Sanskrit passages, with several or many verses, and are sung to traditional Melodies. In such ways and others, spiritual texts were passed on. In contrast kirtans are generally shorter and repeated many times.

bhakta    A devotee, or a devotee of God.

bhakti    Devotion. Also, more loosely, the yoga of devotion, bhakti yoga, which is One of the main branches of yoga.

bhakti-yoga    Devotional yoga; path of devotion; a way of spiritual discipline.

Bharat(a)    Land immersed in light; It can be taken to mean India nowadays. Pakistan was not excluded earlier.

bhastrika    A dynamic diaphragmatic breathing practice, known as bellows breathing, in which the breath is forcibly drawn in and out in equal proportions through the Nostrils.

bhava(na)    Essentially: attitude; continued contemplation (meditation); steady concentration of mind. Also: deep feeling and that state of being, according to Tantra.

bhuta    Seed, or "root". Also beeja.

bhoga    Sexual enjoyment. Enjoyment of the senses.

bhogi    Enjoyer.

bhojana    Food. "That which is enjoyed": There are three types: "lunar", composed of sense impressions; "solar", composed of the prana, or vital essences; "fiery", composed of edibles and water. So they say.

bhuh loka    Dimension of consciousness related to the dimension of earth and mooladhara chakra.

bhuta(s)    The five elements, "Ether", Air, Fire, Water, Earth. (Lit., what has come into being, an entity as opposed to the unmanifested) Any of the five elementary constituents of the world, called akasha (ether), vayu (wind, air) agni or tejas (fire), ap (water) and kshiti, (earth)). These five are called maha-bhutas or tanmatras too. According to Hindu cosmogony - and Taoism too - these are manifestations of the Absolute, as such they constitute whatever exists, being compounded with one another. They start as subtle (fine) and then turn into gross bhutas that serve in the make-up of the physical world. These are .

bhuvah loka    Dimensions of consciousness related to the element of water and swadhisthana chakra.

bija    Seed, or "root". A "root" or "seed" sound or syllable of a mantra (sound). Sperm. Also beeja.

bindu    The source; a drop; psychic centre, concentration point at the top back of the head where the hair whorls. The point without a center from which proceeds cosmic sound (nada): dot. semen.

Benares, Banaras (now: Varanasi)    A holy pilgrimage centre of Hindus, now called Varanasi. It is in Uttar Pradesh, India.

bodhisattva    A being who, having developed the Awakening Mind (a mind infused with The aspiration to attain the state of buddhahood), devotes his life to the task of Achieving buddhahood for the sake of sentient beings.

Brahma    The Creator of the Cosmos and priest of the gods, often called the Grandfather. Learning, science, music, etc. have been described as some of his great forces (shaktis).

brahmachari, brahmacharini    (a) Someone who seeks to be aligned with Brahman, first and foremost. It may be a yoga aspirant or monastic practising Ashtanga Yoga and similar. More often it is someone in the ancient "regulated student life stage", a celibate student. A Brahmachari is a male and brahmacharini a female. - See brahmacharya.

brahmacharya    (a) Study years in youth. (b) Celibate student's stage. (c) Maintaining celibacy.
    Brahmacharya at best is a lifestyle that enables a ung man or woman and others too to gain ultimate Reality and get Self-Realised or be aligned to Brahman deep within first and foremost.
    At bottom, behind various forms of extpression, Brahmacharya conduct leads toward Brahman - such attainments. The first part of the term is Brahma, (shortened from brahman), the Absolute, eternal, supreme Godhead - and the last part is -charya, which means "to follow" - understood as a "virtuous" way of life.
    Brahmacharya is also a regulated stage of life found in old texts in Hinduism - an educational period of 1420 years starting ahead of the puberty. Time is used to study traditional vedic sciences and texts of the Vedas and Upanishads. The idea is to use one's energy to get more or better to handle life in the next stage as a householder, and go for constructive thinking and similar activities.
    Good progress in yoga-meditation is not out of reach for many householders. Great sages and yogis in ancient Vedic India had many wives and children.
    For Hindu monastics, Brahmacharya is celibacy. Brahmacharya is also included in a limb of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Also, in yoga, "sexual continence," is understood differently depending on the appropriateness of the given situation.
    At bottom of regulated brahmacharya practice is a hope of God realization and hard-to-find happiness. Brahmacharya can also be interpreted more generally in a variety of ways. One such was is "seeking excellence" somehow. [WP, sv. "Brahmacharya"]

Brahma-jnana    Knowledge of Brahman.

brahmaloka    The plane (loka) of Brahma, where fortunate ones enjoy communion with God.

Brahman    From the root 'brih', to grow, expand. (a) God or Pan (Omnipresence). (b) mind (consciousness) which allows growth to take place.

brahmanda    The universe of gross and fine (subtle) entities.

brahmarandhra    The hole of Brahma, the spiritual centre at the top of the head.

Brahma-sutras    Classical Vedantic scripture that is nearly impossible to understand (needing commentaries).

Brahma-vidya    Knowledge of Brahman, learning pertaining to Brahman or the absolute Reality. Know-how of how to gain in brahma mind.

Brahmin    Ideally, one who knows Brahma, Godhood inside.

Brihadaranyaka    One of the major Upanishads; they are ancient Hindu religious-philosophical works.

Buddha    (Sanskrit, "The awakened one"). The Enlightened One. In Sanskrit his clan name is Gautama and his personal name Siddhartha. "His mother, the queen Maha Maya, dreamed that a white elephant had entered her womb. Ten lunar months later, as she strolled in the garden of Lumbini, the child emerged from under her right arm. He was able to walk and talk at once. A lotus flower blossomed under his foot at each step." And she died seven days later. The prince enjoyed an opulent life and a had a child with his woman, and left all to contemplate, well seated in a meditative posture. One night, in the hours before dawn, he was liberated throughout the universe. His life and teachings are elaborated on here: [More] [EB "Buddha].
    Also, according to traditions of Buddhism, there have been Buddhas in the past and will be Buddhas in the future. Some forms of Buddhism hold that the buddha nature (tathagatagarbha) lies deep within each one. All forms of buddhism celebrate his birth, enlightenment, and passing away (final nirvana) into a state beyond suffering. "the life of the buddha was written and rewritten in india and across the buddhist world, elements added and subtracted as necessary . . . The motivation to create a single life of the buddha, beginning with his previous births and ending with his passage into nirvana, occurred rather late in the history of buddhism." [EB "buddha"]

buddhi    Discerning, discriminating aspect of mind; from the route "bodh" meaning to be aware of, to know; intellect.

buddhi    Intellect.


chaitanya    Pure Consciousness.

chakra    (a) Centres of energy in the human system. Wheel; vortex of prana; psychic centre, "lotus". Chakras are subtle energy centres in the body: the main chakras in the body are situated along the spinal column. (b) circle or wheel, often applied to the diagrams or yantras used in ritual worship. (c) a place of worship.

Chandogya    A Upanishad.

Chandra    Name of the Moon.

charvaka    The founder of a materialistic school of thought; pertaining to this school of thought.

chela    Disciple; pupil of a Guru.

chiranjivi    One who has gained eternal life.

chit    Consciousness. Loosely    subconscious mind.

chitta    (a) Aspect of mind which receives impressions of the present experience And stores it for future use. (b) individual consciousness including the subconscious and Unconscious layers of the mind (memory, thinking, concentration, attention, enquiry).


dahara vidya    Contemplation of the deity in the heart.

daivic    Devic or divine.

dakini    A quite elemental embodiment of supernatural knowledge and Ability.

dama    Control of senses.

danda    Rod.

darshan(a)    (a) Vision, sight; (b) any system of Hindu philosophy.

dasnami    The sannyasa tradition of Shankarcharya has ten branches. They are: Arana, Ashrama, Bharati, Giri (mountain), Parvati, Puri, Sagara, Saraswati, Teertha and Vanam, and are still flourishing in India today.
    The ten branches are headed by the Shankaracharyas in five centre. The main centre, matha, is in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nad, The northern matha at Jyotir Math. The eastern matha at Puri. The southern matha at Shringeri. The western matha at Dwarka. The Shankaracharyas at these places are consulted on points of doctrine and favour ascetics and laymen alike.

Dattatreya    A Hindu guru of ancient times.

daya    Mercy.

deva(s)    Literally: Shining one(s). God(s); heavenly beings, angels.

deva-yajna    A sacrificial rite enjoined on householders.

DevÍ    Goddess or shakti: There are many devis, or aspects of a primordial goddess that is Devi.

dháraná    Concentration on one point, one-pointed attention. The sixth "limb" of ashtanga yoga (qv).

dharma    Duty, what needs to be done. Righteous way of living as enjoined by scriptures, virtue. The term relates to laws and obligations according to such as stage of life and class.

dhoti    Unstitched cloth used as lower garment.

dhyána    Contemplation, "meditation", also called Zen; the seventh rung in the ladder of Patanjali's eightfold yoga, and hence a facet of interiorisation of the mind. Sanskrit dhyana came to be called Ch'an in Chinese and Zen in Japanese.

díikshá    Initiation (into any form of spiritual discipline); from the verb 'see' or 'concentrate'.

Divali    Festival of Light, traditional celebration in India honouring the goddess Lakshmi.

dukha    Pain, suffering. In the Pali language: dukka.

dvapara yuga    Second great period of time described in old Hindu works, especially the Laws of Manu. The term is much similar to the Bronze Age.

dvija    "Twice-born". In the Hindu social system, members of the three upper social classes are regarded as twice-born. They are the brahmans (priests and teachers), kshatriya (warriors), and vaisya (traders, merchants). Their sacrament (initiation rite), where they are invested with a cotton thread, is regarded as a second or spiritual birth, and signifies that the male child enters the life of a student (brahmacarin) and is accepted as a regular member of his community. The thread consists of a loop made of three knotted and twisted strands. It is replaced regularly to be worn throughout the lifetime of the owner, normally over the left shoulder and diagonally across the chest to the right hip. However, less and less persons observe the initiation ceremony.
    More specifically, the second birth is said to have taken place during the student's initiation when the guru (holy teacher) to the student imparts to him the gayatri mantra, which is a sacred verse of the rigveda.


ekagra    The state of one-pointed attention.

ekagrata    (a) One-pointed attention, i.e. one-pointedness. (b) Concentrating on one thing at a time.

emkara    The syllable "Aing", also written "Aim" - seed mantra associated with Sarasvati and Tara (goddesses).


fourth (state)    "Turiya". Super-mind, super-mentality above waking, dreaming, and sleeping. Also, super-consciousness.


gandharvas    Celestial musicians on the plane (loka) of Indra.

garbha    The womb.

gauna    Secondary, indirect.

Gáyatrí mantra    A very old three-line verse from the Rigveda; "Om bhuh bhuvah swaha / tat savator varenium / bargo devasya de mahe / deya yona prachodhyat". there are variants of spelling and interpretations of it. One is:

"We meditate on the supreme splendour of savitr (sunlight) that he may inspire our Intelligence."
The three-lined mantra is a gift from the vedic seer vishvamitra. It is found in the third book of the rigveda (3;62;10). "may we attain that excellent glory of Savitar the god / so may he stimulate our prayers." (Ralph Griffith's translation).
    It is a blessing recited at sunrise, noon and sunset. The words hail divine deeds as well as being "sunlit" from above, that is, well inspired. Our role may be to bring the inner light of inspired bliss to fruition. As it is said, gayatri is for "new insight and inspiration or to increase memory and concentration [and much else]". Many hindus today hold that the gayatri mantra is not restricted to any certain community, but is a treasure for all the world, and properly belongs to humanity. The next verse of the savitri lines (3;62;11) shows that more verses are very fine too. And the prayer to pure brihaspati (3;62;5) for power that none can bend is fit for some as well.

Gita    Song, often rendered 'words'. Often used to refer to Bhagavad Gita.

granthi    Knot.

grihastha    Householder.

guna    A term of the Samkhya philosophy, where it is held that matter has three qualities; sattva, rajas, and tamas. Tamas is supposed to be intertia or Laziness, i.e., something quite passive; rajas activity; and sattva 'Goodness' and 'nobleness'. Hence, the gunas are classification devices, a guna is a classificatory attribute, or suggested quality.

guru    (Sanskrit: "venerable"). The guru and his pupil(s) work together, and the guru is to be treated with respect. Guide in a spiritual life; teacher, dispeller of a certain ignorance or 'darkness'; can be 'uplifter' also.

guruparampara    A serial line of teachers.

gyana    Wisdom; path of understanding and knowledge. Also written Jnana.


Ham    Bija mantra (seed mantra) for vishuddhi chakra.

Hamsa    "Swan" (duck and goose too in ancient Sanskrit), a mantra (ie, syllables) used by some to meditate on. The proper pronunciation of this mantra is different frow how the word is written, and there are different ways of practice too. Research into the middle range effects and particularly the long range effects appears to be missing.

hatha yoga    To millions of Westerners this is a yoga of stretching and tensing parts of the while conforming to certain well composed body postures. It goes deeper than mere stretching; its yoga practices seek to redress or balance ha and tha energies, solar and lunar energies and also other pranic (vital) currents of body and mind. "Sun-moon yoga" exercises for better physical health.

Hatha Yoga Pradípiká    classic text on yoga. [Hat]

Himalaya, Himavat    Lit., 'the domain of snow'. the mountain range is said to be the father of the Goddess.

Hindu calender:

  1. Chaitra - 30 days (March - April)
  2. Vaishaka - 31 days (April - May)
  3. Jyaistha - 31 days ( May - June)
  4. Asadha - 31 days ( June - July)
  5. Srawana - 31 days (July - August)
  6. Bhadrapada - 31 days (August - September)
  7. Asvina - 30 days (September - October)
  8. Kartikka - 30 days (October - November)
  9. Magasirsa - 30 days ( November - December)
  10. Pousha - 30 days (December - January)
  11. Magha - 30 days (January - February)
  12. Phalguna - 30 days (February - March)

Days of the week
Raviãra - Sunday (day of Sun)
Somavãra - Monday (day of Moon)
Mañgalvã - Tuesday (day of Mars)
Budhavãra - Wednesday (day of Mercury)
Guruvã - Thursday (day of Jupiter)
Sukravãra - Friday (day of Venus)
Sanivãra - Saturday (day of Saturn)

Hiranyagarbha    Cosmic intelligence; the Supreme Lord of the universe; Cosmic Mind.

Hong-sau    See HAMSA.

hridaya    heart.

hridayakasha    Heart space of feelings and anahata chakra.

Hrim    A mantra of maya shakti. It is pronounced "Hreem".

Hum    Mantra governing the solar force; a part of the hamsa (hang saw) sound.


iccha    The Will.

ida    The (lunar) nadi going about the central Sushumna nadi. The nadi is also Connected with the left nostril and a receptive (or passive) mentality.

Indra    Also known as Shakra and Maghavan. The king of the gods; controller of the senses; the god of rain and thunderstorms and the leader of the devas or gods and the lord (ruler) of Svargaloka (Indra's heaven) in the Hindu religion. He wields a lightning thunderbolt known as vajra and rides on a white elephant.

indriyas    The senses, the forces which rule the mind.

ishta    Lit., object of desire. A symbol of divinity. The One one feels particularly for; the chosen Ideal, the particular divine form through which a spiritual aspirant contemplates on God; also, sacrificial rite.

Ishta devata    Same as ishta (qv). Chosen goddess or chosen god - .

Ishvara    Light-Lord; God in the shape or garb of subtle inner light.


jagat    "That which is always going", that is, the phenomenal world, that is, the World.

jagrat    Waking state of consciousness.

jagrit    Conscious mind.

janah loka    The dimension of consciousness related to vishuddhi chakra and the Space element.

japa(m)    Repetition, repetition of such as a sound or sound medley (Mantra).

jewels of the naths    There are three such figurative jewels: Sama, equipoise; samarasa, seeing self as the world, and the world in the self; and sahaja, spontaneous naturalism. - Further, the Nath tradition is a heterodox siddha tradition with many sub-sects in it. There is more in WP, s.v. "Nath".

jiva    The individual soul and incarnated Atma(n).

jivamukta    (Lit., liberated while living) One who is liberated in this life while still in the body.

jivan    Literally: living being. The individual soul which in essence is one with the Universal Soul.

jívan mukti    Soul freedom gained while still in the body.

jívátma(n)    Individual soul and its consciousness. The embodied soul.

jnána    Knowledge; wisdom. Also written gyana.

jnána-yoga    One of four paths (margas), or modes of living, for yogis, in which the attention is interiorised. The other three paths are karma-yoga, raja-yoga, bhakti-yoga.

jnanendriyas or jnana-indriyas    The five organs of knowledge with five senses of perception.

jnani    (Pronounced nyani) A wise person, a discriminating person. The word is often used to denote a non-dualist.

jyoti    Light, name.

jyotish    Astronomy; also, Astrology. Jyotisha or Jyotishya from Sanskrit jyotisha, from jyoti - "light, heavenly body", is the traditional Hindu system of astrology, also known more recently as Vedic astrology. Astrology is generally rejected as a pseudoscience by scientists, but the Indian government does not agree.


kaivalya    Emancipation in the sense of independence of the soul from the body or matter, hence a state of absolute independence. Liberation of consciousness from an individuation.

kala    Time, star etc. Part or division of one whole process or thing.

kalagnirudra    The fire at the end of time which burns up the whole cosmic play.

Kálí    Destructing sakti (force, energy, prowess). Personified mainly in Hindu iconography.

kali yuga    The "dark age", or "iron age" - the era of Kali, the destructress. The lowest of four eras of Hinduism, namely Krita (Satya), Treta, Dwapara, and Kali. Some details are given in Laws of Manu, chap. 1:68 ff.

kalpa    An age. See yuga.

káma    Desire. One of the four main goals in life in Hindu living, along with obtaining wealth, being righteous, and release from life's toils. In Sanskrit words: artha (wealth), kama, dharma (righteousness etc.), and moksha (release). Kama is also shown as the god of erotic love, lust and sexuality. What is required for procreation. As such he seems much like Ares of ancient Greeks in dominant portrayed traits or features.

kamakhya pitha    Seat of the goddess; a place especially sacred.

karma    Literally: action, work or deed. Actions have consequences, and some go deep. In Hinduism and Buddhism the term stands for the principle of retributions as adjusted to the sum of somebody's good and bad actions in many lives. A portion of the total karma is believed to decide what will happen in a lifetime and at least to some extent co-determine the person's state of life then, as effect of his past deeds.
    Three sorts and phases of karma are told of among yogis:

  1. Sanchita karma is the sum of one's past good and bad karmas, including karmas from one's past lives.
  2. The karma "set off" for a lifetime is called prarabdha karma. It is karma that is prepared for the present life (incarnation).
  3. The karma that is being made - and daily - is kalled kriyamana karma or agami karma - karma out of current works, karma created in the present - with fruits that may be experienced in the future.

Present, decent efforts are to be counted in too. There is future good karma to be made by ennobling deeds and taking part in good activity, and one is encouraged to make t. Further, one is not denied to protect oneself though various means known to advanced yogis and gurus alike.
    Karma is, to sum up, actions operating through the law of cause and effect; deep impressions in life which make us think, feel and act in particular ways. This theorized "action" or '"results of doing" as ascribed to the cosmic law of cause and effect and may last over lifetimes.
    Hinduism holds a variety of views about karma and its weight, also. There is not one, unified view.

karma yoga (karma-yoga)    Path of action; a path of activity as delineated in the Bhagavad Gita and other places. It aspires to harmonious activity.

karma-indriyas    Organs of action: tongue, hands, feet, genital organ and anus.

karmasraya    Receptacle of actions.

Kartikkeya    A son of Shiva, and also known as Skanda or Subrahmana. His vehicle is a cockerel.

karuná    Compassion.

kashaya    Hidden desires.

khechara    One who can move in the Expanse of Consciousness = Shiva.

khecharí mudrá    Lightly placing the underside of the tip of the tongue against the upper palate.

kinnaras    Spirits who are half human and half beast in the service of Kubera.

kirtan    (a) Singing devotional songs. (b) Mantras which are sung to Music.

kosha(s)    (Lit., sheath, scabbard. Thus: casing) A sheath enclosing the soul, monad. Five sheaths ("envelopes"), one outside the other: the sheath of bliss, anandamaya; of intelligence, vigyanamaya; of mind, manomaya; of vital energy, pranamaya; and of food (or physical matter), annamaya. Hence, the kosha is a form; a sheath aligned with a plane or level of existence.

kri    Action, motion.

Krishna    "The black (or dark brown) one", the eighth incarnation of God Vishnu, described in the epic poem Mahabharata and the Bhagavata Purana.
    The Bhagavad Gita, a part of the Mahabharata, is a dialogue between Sri Krishna and his friend, a prince known as Arjuna. Arjuna uses these names to address Krishna (there are several other interpretations of the names too):
    Achyuta; He who does not deviate from His divine nature – Arisudana; He who destroys the enemies – Bhagavan; He who is endowed with power, virtue, fame, glory, detachment and freedom – Govinda; The knower of the Jivatman – Hrishikesa – The Lord of the senses – Jagannivasa; The abode of the universe – Janardana – He who is adored by devotees for the fulfilment of their desires – Kesava; He who has beautiful hair (and) The Lord of the Trinity – Kesinisudana – He who slaughtered Kesin – Krishna; the dark one. The remover of sin. He who is Brahman – Madhava; The Lord of Lakshmi – Madhusudana; He who destroyed the demon named Madhu – Purushottama; The Supreme Person – Varshneya – He who belongs to the Vrshni clan – Vasudeva; The son of Vasudeva – The Immanent in all – Vishnu; The all pervading One – Yadava; He who comes of the Yadu clan – Yogeswara – The Lord of Yoga. -- (Source: Swami Chidbhavananda's translation and commentary on The Bhagavad Gita 2012, 1008)

krita yuga    A great era, a "golden" age, such a period of time. The same as satya yuga, the age of truthfulness, etc. as told of in Laws of Manu, chapter 1, v. 68 ff, etc.

kriya shakti    The energy or shakti of action.

kriya    In Sanskrit, "action, deed, effort", from kri, do. Kriya has also become a short form of kriya yoga (qv).

kriya-yoga    The same as kriya yoga and kriyayoga. Its central feature is a way of breathing called ujjayi, "victorious breath". There are several forms of ujjayi (q.v). The subtler of them go for kriya yoga in Satyananda Yoga. Thus, in one of its meanings 'kriya yoga' stands for a certain pranayama method. Kriya yoga consists of relaxed ujjayi breath along with contorting body postures. There are two kriya yoga lines around. One is Satyananda Yoga, where it is said to have been given by Babaji to Swami Sivananda. Kriya yoga is also presented as kundalini yoga.
    One additional meaning: kriya is also a type of of exercise in hatha Yoga.

kriya-yogi    One who practices kriya yoga (qv). There are different levels of accomplishments, and graded techniques into it.

kshatriya    The war caste of leaders and business magnates etc. See varna.

kula    "Clan": A shakti or energy: Some build, some maintain, and some Whithdraw.

kumari    Virgin.

kundaliní    (a) The "coiled fire snake", a latent energy in muladhara chakra at the Base of the spine, used for rising inwardly. (b) also defined as the primordial so-called cosmic Energy located in the individual.

kundalini yoga    Practices for the awakening of kundalini.

kusha    Used in certain ceremonies.


Lahiri Baba or Lahiri Mahasaya    Two common ways of referring to Shyama Charan Lahiri (1828-95). In 1861 he was initiated in kriya-yoga by his guru, and over the years initiated about 5000 persons in it. There are bibliographies of him on the Web.

lakh    The number 100,000, or a great number.

laksha    Points in the body which are to be meditated upon.

lalita    (a) Collective form of will, knowledge and action. (b) Sexual aspect of Shakti.

Lam    Bija (seed) mantra for muladhara chakra.

laya yoga    Meditation practice involving dissolving different stages of consciousness. Laya yoga is also known as kundalini yoga.

laya    Merging; dissolution.

lila    Play; sport; game.

linga(m)    The phallic symbol of masculinity, associated with Shiva.

linga-sarira    The subtle body, the astral body.

lokapalas    World protectors: there are four, represented by the equinoxes and solstices.

lokas    (a) Realms or planes of existence that can be inhabited by different beings. (b) also: evolution stages or levels. Dimensions. Main ones: bhuh, bhuvah, swah, mahah, janah, tapah, and satya.

lotuses    See 'chakra'.


madya    Wine.

Maghavan    The same as Indra and Shakra, the god of rain and thunderstorms and the leader of the devas or gods and the lord of Svargaloka (heaven) in the Hindu religion. He wields a lightning thunderbolt known as vajra and rides on a white elephant.

maha akasha    great space; observation of consciousness related with manipura Chakra which is bright like the middle of the sun.

maha    Great.

Mahábhárata    A Hindu epic.

Mahadeva    "Great God", an epithet for Shiva.

Mahadevi    the Great Goddess.

mahah loka    Dimension of consciousness related to anahata chakra and the element of air maha prana. Space and cosmic energy.

mahant    Great sage.

mahapurusha    A great soul.

Maharishi (maharsi)    Great seer.

mahasamadhi    The departure of a Self-realized saint from his mortal coil. It can Also refer to a tomb.

mahat    "the great", unmanifest mind

manas    buddhi, chitta, ahamkara.

mahatma    Great soul.

maha-yuga    "great age".

maithuna    the sexual instinct; love-making in tantra yoga, i.e., tantric union or ritual sexual intercourse.

maitri    friendship.

mala    Rosary, a garland usually composed of 108 beads; an aid to meditation practice.

manas    Mind, aspect of manifest mind involved in experiences of sensory perception and thought etc.

mandala    Diagram within a circumference symbolising the deeper aspects of man's psyche; complex geometrical symbol merging macrocosmic and microcosmic events.

manipura    Chakra located at the spine behind behind the navel. It is associated with Strength and power.

manomaya kosha    the mind sheath or the mind realm.

mantra    Runic sound medley; subtle sound vibrations which may be good for man. Mantras are thought to be words with inherent power, also set of words to repeat and focus On on and on inwardly.

mantra diksha    an initiation practice involving receiving a mantra from a friend and guru.

mantra yoga    Using mentally intoned sound vibrations for meditation.

mantraja    The shaktis (devis, or "energies") created from the spiritual process of uttering mantras.

marg(a)    Path or way.

mauna    Silence, keeping still.

máyá    Figure, or Figuring. According to Paramahansa Ramakrishna, Maya projects and withdraws the world. This universe is maya, asserts Swami Vivekananda. Maya is the goddess who causes the world perception through the twin "powers" of projecion and concealment of projection. Maya causes an ordered perception of various energy patterns. Maya is eymologically akin to 'to measure', 'show forth', and thus to art too. Maya is "the matrix or frame in which the name-form complex finds its base".
    Monier-Williams etymologically defines maya as deriving from the root ma or "measuring". When one adds the suffix ya to the root ma it can be defined as "relating to measuring". ... Maya can also be understood in this manner in Sankara's Advaita Vedanta system. Maya measures out such as language and maya itself so that knowledge of Brahman [gnosis] can be actualised. And "Maya is a statement of . . . how it is going on." - Vivekananda [Via 222]

mayavadin    One who professes that the world is maya (qv), meaning illusion.

Meru    In Hindu mythology, central mountain of the earth and abode of gods.

Mirabai (ca. 1498 - ca. 1547)    A mystic poet and devotee of Krishna, and a princess of Rajasthan. Her sweet, passionate and charming songs of devotion to Krishna are widely popular. Some 1,300 bhajans (poems, sacred songs) are attributed to her.

moksha    Freedom. Also: Ultimate freedom from material bondage. Moksha is one of the four great hindu aims or duties set up for humans along with dharma, artha and kama.

mouna    (or mauna) silence; measured silence. Also the vow of silence.

mouni    One who observes silence.

mridanga    A type of drum.

mudrá    Symbolic gesture which aims at redirecting certain subtle energies..

mukti    Liberation.

muladhara, muladhara chakra    Basic pranic and psychic centre. Its focal point, which is the "seat of kundalini" is at the perineum.

mulbandha    A certain contraction at the muladhara.

muni    Sage.

murti    Idol.


Nachiketas (Nakiketas)    The spiritual seeker mentioned in the Katha Upanishad.

náda    Mystic, inner, subtle sound.

nádí    Channel or "meridian", a passage through which energy and the "hooked", concomitant consciousness can flow.

nadi shodhana    Alternate nostril breathing is a balancing pranayama.

nagas    Serpent spirits.

nasikagra drishti    Gazing at the nose tip is a mudra.

nauli    A Hatha yoga practice that may be good for the abdominal area.

nectar    Same as Amrita.

nidra    Isolation from the senses and the mind; sleep.

nirvana    Liberated state and the final emancipation.

nirvikalpa samadhi (also: nirbikalpa)    Samadhi (absorption) without illusion. It is a superconscious state where there is no modification of the mind.

nivritti    Cessation.

niyama    Restraint(s), or Do's. The second of the eight limbs of Patanjali's yoga discipline. The niyamas are observance of purity, contentment, austerities, etc

nyása    "Applying" drawn energy for a purpose such as transferring power to a Candidate during initiation.


ojas    Sexually related energy.

OM    (same as Aum). Universal mantra; root mantra (monosyllable) for ajna chakra; the sound symbol of Brahman.

Om tat sat    (Lit., Om That Reality.) A threefold designation of Brahman (Godhead)

Omkara    The same as OM or AUM.


pada    Feet.

padma    "Lotus".

pancha    Five.

para shakti    Supreme Shakti in whom all the other Shaktis reside.

para    Beyond etc.

Paramátman    The LORD; Supreme Soul

param(a)hamsa    A religious title, literally "supreme swan (goose, duck)". It is given to someone who is thought to be able to discern well, and to some sannyasins, or "world- renouncers", in hinduism.

parampara    Line of succession.

Parvati    Lit., 'she from the mountain'. Name of the Goddess as daughter of the Himalaya etc.

pashu    Literally "a beast", may mean a human being who is ignorant and Uninitiated, or animal nature:

Patanjali    The ascribed author of the Yoga-Sutras, which explain facets of the Yoga system (philosophy), one of the six systems of orthodox Hindu philosopy. His very short treatise deals with focusing and its methods, mind elevation through focus of thinking, and so on. Patanjali (Gonikaputra) is thought to have flourished in the 2nd century BC. His work arranges yogic thought in four very short books with the titles "Psychic Power", "Practice of Yoga", "Samadhi", and "Kaivalya" (liberation).
    The Yoga-Sutras seem to have been written over several centuries: the first three books in the 2nd century BC, and the last book in the 5th century AD. The last book was possibly written in Patanjali's name, a practice that was customary in India in earlier times. Hence, authorities differ widely as to how many authors there were and when Patanjali lived. [EB, s.v. "Patanjali"]

phat    "Crack", the thunderbolt mantra used to drive off disturbing spirits. Fingers are usually snapped around the head while saying it.

pingala    Nadi (vessel) connected with the right nostril conducting active vital Energy; the solar aspect; the dynamic aspect. Pingala nadi is opposite ida nadi, they Curve around the central sushumna nadi, according to the theory.

pradakshina    Walking clockwise in a temple as a form of worship.

prajna    True wisdom: A higher mode of knowing.

prakriti    Materialized nature and the basis of the three Gunas ("shadow qualities").

pramana    Means of knowledge.

prána    The vital breath which sustains life in a physical body. Life energy, a force which governs health and its waning. In books of Yoga prana has five specialised functions: (1) prana which controls the breath; (2) apana which carries downward unassimilated food and drink; (3) vyana which pervades the whole body; (4) udana, by which one vomits etc.; (5) samana, which carries nutrition throughout the body. Thus, there are several pranas ("prana functions") in the body, it is said. Apart from being the body's energy, prana may also be rendered as life breath. Prana further denotes God having attributes (Saguna Brahman), and Spirit.

pranamaya kosha    the dimension (sheath) of energy.

pranava    The Om sound.

pránáyám(a)    "Life breath control". Practices involving regulations of inhalation, exhalation and perhaps also retention of the breath in certain ways. The generic name 'pranayama' includes many techniques for doing yoga and/or meditation. What is called kriya-yoga is a set of techniques, one of which is very typically a smart pranayama method.

pratima    Image.

pratyahara    A certain withdrawal of the attention from the senses in Patanjali's yoga system.

prayoga    Application (uses).

prem(a)    Divine Love.

premavatar    From prem (love) and avatar (descension of divinity), hence, a divine-love incarnation. It is a title.

prithvi    Earth.

psychology of yoga    Yoga divides the mind into buddhi (intellect, intuition), manas (sensory perception and thought), chitta (memory), and ahamkara (central "I" core).

puja    Worship.

Purana    Sanskrit: ancient, from pura, formerly. Loosely: Hindu myths and legends. More accurate: Any of a class of Sanskrit writings not included in the Vedas, characteristically recounting the birth and deeds of Hindu gods and the creation, destruction, or recreation of the universe. There are eighteen so-called major Puranas.

Purusha    (Lit., person.) A term of samkhya philosophy, denoting the individual consciousness. In Vedanta it denotes Self. Other variations: (a) Pure, unmanifested consciousness. (b) the Supreme Being.


raja    King.

rája-yoga    An eightfold path classified by ancient Patanjali. Its beginning steps are yama (five don't's); niyama (five do's); asana (posture); pranayama (handling of the vital breath); pratyahara (spontaneous inward- switching of the attentiveness); dharana (concentration); dhyana (steadied inward attentiveness), samadhi ( the culmination (samadhi) of the inward-turning). The stages are thought to describe a sadhana (discipline) of rising into subtlety. However, as with the Middle Path in Buddhism, there are other and vastly better ways to use the scheme than starting at bottom. It is generally vastly better to gather strength by deep meditation right from the start. ◦TM does it, for example. Beneficial results speak for themselves.
    In deep inward-turning one can focus on different "things" or ideas to develop somehow, and regularly to bring certain focuses into deep meditation is called samyama, or sanyama practice. It is referred to in Patanjali 3:4 and further. For example "by perfectly concentrated meditation [sanyama] on sympathy, compassion and kindness, is gained the power of interior union with others." [Patanjali 3:23]. His sutras describe other 'powers' or 'perfections' (Sanskrit: siddhi) to attain by Samyama. Proper practice may also serve deep insights.

raja-yogi    One who follows some of the disciplines of raja-yoga (qv).

rajas    The activity guna, one of the three postulated qualities.

Ram    Seed (root) mantra for manipura chakra.

Rámayána    The epic story of the life of Rama. It is figured.

rasa    Taste.

Rikveda, Rigveda    The first of the four Vedas. It consists of hymns, riks, to Vedic gods. [Online]

rishi    Seer; sage. Maharishi means great seer, thus great sage.

Rishikesh    A place in the Himalayas.

Rita(m), Rta    Deep, natural order of evolving reality; that which is properly joined; order, rule; truth. Ancient, Vedic Rita supports fit functioning too. Various injunctions and ordinances are for keeping in tune with truth. Contributions to Rita are fit activities.
    Rita has been compared to the deep, regulatory Maat (Ma'at) of truth, balance, order, law, morality and justice in ancient Pharaoic religion, and also to Tao. [More at the WP, s.v. "Rta"]

rupa    Form, outward form. The universe is made up of nama (names, resonances) and rupa (forms, shapes), is taught.


sadhaka    Spiritual aspirant.

sádhana    "Direct way". Spiritual practice, a spiritual discipline.

sadhu    Holy man, ascetic, world-renouncer. It may be a yogi.

sagar(a)    Ocean.

sahaja    Spontaneity, joy, naturalness, and amorality are said to be spontaneous creations.

sahasrara chakra    The focal point is at the crown of the head, and represents pure, unchanging consciousness.

sakshi    Witness.

sakti, shakti    Power, energy.

sam or san    Prefix meaning total, harmonious.

Sama Veda    Veda of chants; one of the four Vedas.

Sama    Mind control.

samádhi    Absorption, Mind merging with inner, higher consciousness forms, Including absoluteness.

samadrishti    "Equal vision", i.e., seeing all things as equal.

samarasa    One sees himself as the world and the world as being in herself or himself.

samband(a)    Connection, "a together-binding". (In Nynorsk Norwegian 'samband' means the same. They are cognates.)

sámkhya, sankhya    A tradition of Hinduism, dealing with classification of principles (tattvas) of existence and various sides to Nature (prakriti). An influential system that grew out of the ancient (pre-Buddhist) Samkhya-Yoga tradition. samsára    'all together flowing'. Meaning rather often: the outer world. It is the wheel or ocean of life and death, the wheel of time.

samskára    Deep impressions, in part of the subconscious mind.

samvit    Consciousness.

samyama    (confluence). Applied focusing by use of converged attentiveness. See also sanyama. Patanjali Yoga tells of the ancient practice. In other words, samyama is the practice of sustained, meditative focus on something.

sandhya bhasha    Writings which seem to mean one thing, while they mean something else. They can use very figurative writing or very brief (and thus more cryptic) basics which need to be expanded on.

sangsára    Same as samsara (see above).

sankalpa    (Deep) resolve; determination or conviction.

Sankara    See Shankara.

Sankhya, Samkhya    One of the six orthodox Indian philosophies.

sankirtan    Singing of divine songs.

sannyasa    Renunciation, the life stage of a renouncer in Hinduism, etc;

sannyasin    One who renounces worldly living and embraces renunciations.

Sanskrit    Ancient Indo-Aryan language from which many modern languages are derived and related to. A relative of ancient Persian, Greek and Latin.

santosh(a)    contentment; acceptance of life.

sanyama    Flow of converging pratyahara, dharana and dhyana. The same as samyama (qv).

Saraswati    Goddess (with power, prowess) of creativity, music, wisdom, art, science etc. Mantra: 'Aim'.

Satchitananda    Existence-Knowledge-Bliss.

satsang(a)    Association with the wise.

sáttva    Purity, one of the three non-substantial and possibly made up gunas.

sattwika (sattvic)    Having sattwa predominantly in one's nature and thus endowed with purity, equanimity and clear vision. See Sattva.

Satya    Truth, reality. Also - establishing oneself in truth.

satya loka    A dimension of consciousness related to sahasrara (the chakra or lotus of the large brain; thought to be the highest seat of attentive, converged consciousness in man.

satya yuga (krita yuga)    'Satya' means truth, and 'yuga' means era. Thus, the Age of Truth and integrity, the best of the four eras proposed in Laws of Manu (Manu Samhita), 1:68 ff.

Saucha    Contentment.

Savikalpa samadhi (sabikalpa samadhi)    Samadhi combined with sense, verbal knowledge.

Shabda    Sound, the sensation of sound; normally unheard sound; physical, "struck" sound.

shakti    Power. Energy.

shakti bandhas    A series of asana to release blocked energy.

shakti    An energy or power: feminine counterpart to a god of the Hindu pantheon, especially of Shiva. It is also power, drive and force around or inside a person.

Shambhavi mudra    Focusing the open or closed eyes on the eyebrow centre.

Shankara, Sankara, Shankaracharya (ad 700?-750?)    A philosopher and pupil of Gaudapada, believing that plurality and differentiation is illusory. He came to be regarded as the foremost exponent of the Advaita Vedanta philosophy. With a lucid and profound style of writing he emphasised a psychological and religious approach to Truthhood (God, Brahman) (qv). He was often held to be a "Buddhist in disguise" by opponents, because his doctrine is similar to Mahayanic Buddhism. But the basic structure of his philosophy may be more akin to Samkhya (qv). [More]

Shankaracharya     (1) Adi ('the first'), reformer of the Hindu swami order. Same as Shankara (above). (2) The leader of some of the branches of the monastic order (of swamis) that was reformed and solidified by Adi (the first) Shankara. There are five seats for Shankaracharyas spread out in India, and five Shankaracharyas so long as there are no vacant seats. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's guru, Brahmananda, widley known as Guru Dev in TM circles, held a Shankaracharya position.

shanti    Peace. It can be repeated three times after a fervent utterance and prayer.

shastra    Collection of knowledge.

shishya    Disciple.

Shiva, Siva    The Destroyer God. The third of a Godhead-trinity: Brahma (Creator), Vishnu (Upholder, Deceiver, etc.), and Siva (Destroyer, Burner).

sloka    Short verse.

shri chakra    A yantra (geometrical figure, often symmetrically shaped.

Shrim    Mantra of the goddess Lakshmi, who is also known as Shri.
    The cat let out: The mantra is pronounced "Shreem" - where the final /m/ is somewhere between a nasal m and n, or a nasal 'ng. Here is the reason why some end mantras with -m, others with -ng. Thus, Ong and Om express the same mantra in Sanskrit.

shruti (sruti)    (Lit., anything heard). Revealed knowledge. The Vedas.

siddha    (a) Master; one who has become perfected or realized (enlightened). (b) One who possesses occult powers, siddhis.

siddhi(s)    Hidden powers; or power; perfection.

Siva    The same as Shiva.

Skanda    Same as Karttikeya and Murugan, a son of Siva's.

sloka    The chief verse form of the Sanskrit epics. A fluid metre that lends itself well to improvisation. it may serve us like a stanza, that is, a series of lines arranged together. Cf. Kusa metrics.

smriti    (a) One of many ancient works handed over by memory. (b) Memory, one of the five vrittis (mind agitations).

Soma    (a) Moon deity. (b) Psychoactive plant mentioned in the Vedas.

spotha    An eternal sound according to the orthodox Hindu school of philosophy called Mimamsa.

sraddha    Faith.

sri    Auspicious, holy, also written shri and shree. "Sri" before a name suggests reverence, or just courtesy and auspiciousness. The honoric prefix is also used with celebrated books. It can also be used like the English term Mr.

Sthapatya Veda    Maharishi Vastu Architecture. It is based on a set of architectural and planning principles assembled by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi based on ancient Sanskrit texts, and differs a little bit from Feng Shui. Maharishi Vastu Architecture is also called "Maharishi Sthapatya Veda", "Fortune-Creating" buildings and homes, and "Maharishi Vedic architecture".

stotra    Hymn.

sukshma    Fine, subtle; belonging to a subtler order of existence than the solid physical.

sushumna    Central nadi (subtle vessel) along the spine. It is hoped to be activated through balancing the currents of ida and pingala nadis etc. It is held to be the way to Transcendence.

sátra    "Thread", aphorism. A book of aphorisms.

svaha    "Hail"

svarupa    One's own form. Essential nature; reality. Same as swarupa (qv).

Swa    Self.

swadhisthana chakra    Concentration point at the base of the spinal column; "one's own abode".

swádhyáya    Self analysis is included in it.

swah loka    Dimension of consciousness related to manipura chakra ("the wheel for the navel area") and the fire element.

swami    Hindu monk. Its literal meaning is "one with the self".

swarupa    The true form: One's own form. se also svarupa.

swasti    "May it be auspicious". It can be used for benediction.


tamas    inertia, one of the three postulated qualities of nature along with rajas and sattva.

tanmatra    Subtle, undifferentiated root elements of matter.

tantra    The hidden side of the Vedas and Vedic living, asserted by some. Tantras include philosophy and culture which deals with the transcendence of human nature: Strengthening or evolution of man and liberation of bound-up energies.

tapah loka    Realm or level of consciousness related to ajna chakra (the focus centre between the eyebrows, a centre of control).

tapas    Austerities, mortification, etc. through continued effort, heat

Tat    That.

tattva    Element. "truth thing", i.e., principle. Five elements, namely: prithvi, jal, agni (heat), vayu (wind), akasha (ether).

tejas    fire; tip of the flame; brilliance.

tirtha    Ford or bathing place.

tratak(a)    Gazing at a fixed point. It is used in contemplation, as described in some books of yoga, for example Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, edited by W. Y. Evans-Wents: "Place a small ball . . . in front of thee as an object upon which to concentrate thy thought . . . fix thy gaze upon the object one-pointedly." [p. 122]
    In some forms of yoga the attention gets riveted at the area between the eyebrows with the eyes turned somewhat upward and the eyelids "somewhat closed".

treta yuga    Third great era of a cycle proposed by Manu and others. It corresponds somewhat to the silver age of ancient Greeks.

trigunatmika    Characterised by three traits, namely sattwa, rajas, and tamas; or an attribute of becoming.

triple blessing    "Shanti, Shakti, Shambhu." It means, Peace, Power, Plenty." "Progress" might be included among the p-words, though.

trishna    Sense-hankering.

turíya    The fourth state. It transcends the waking, dreaming and deep sleep states, and is sometimes called superconsciousness.

tyaga    Letting go of attachments, often involving abandonment, relinquisment, renunciation.


uddiyana bandha    Leaning forwards, resting hands on knees and pulling the abdominal organs up and in, and "feeding a flow of energy" by this means. It is a main exercise in Hatha yoga.

ujjayi pranayama    The same as basic kriya yoga (q.v). Slightly contracting the glottis of the throat so the breath makes a light snoring sound; a deep relaxing breath used often in meditation practices. There is a likable, delicate way of practice too. Explained in detail here: [Link]

upadesa    Spiritual advice.

Upanishad    The Upanishads are major books in Hinduism. The word "upanishad" is taken to mean "The sitting down at the feet of a teacher to listen to his words." In the old times upanishads were often secret doctrines. The two basic types are agamic Upanishads and Vedic upanishads. Paul Deussen has translated sixty of them. [So] [more]

upeksha    Indifference. Beyond caring.


vairágya    Non-attachment. It can work as freedom from too gross desires as Well.

vajra    (a) Adamantine. (b) Thunderbolt.

Vam    Root mantra for swadhisthana chakra.

vama marg(a)    Left-hand path, or left-turning path. It signifies a reversal of Conventional practices. Many of its methods may give a quicker and more direct fare - one That can be dangerous too, at least to some..

vama    Left. Woman. Excrement. What is vomited.

varna    Caste. Any of the four primary social groups - ideally according to qualifications and vocations - in actual practice through birth almost always. brahmana (priests, teachers, law-makers); kshatriya ((awrriors and kings), vaishya (traders, bankers, industialists and farmers); shudra or sudra (labourers requiring dexterity).

Varuna    A Hindu deity as presented in the Rikveda. It shares hallmarks with Poseidon/Neptune.

vásaná    Subtle desire.

Vayu    Wind, air; a Hindu deity; prana or energy flow as in pancha vayu: prana, apana, samana, udana, vyana.

Vedas    The oldest Indo-Aryan scriptures. These most ancient, extensive texts Detail rituals and duties in life. Veda, from the root 'vid', means "knowledge" and also Stands for "ritual lore". The four main vedas are the rik (rig), yajur, sama, and atharva. They can be difficult to understand.

Vedánta    (Lit., the essence or concluding parts of the Vedas.) The texts of Upanishads and the school of philosophy based on them: Some Veda texts contain Vedanta portions.
     The orthodox Vedanta system of philosophy contains a series of ancient philosophical treatises, often in the form of dialogues between guru and disciple, in which looming topics of life are speculated about, and ways of living are conformed to. Vedanta as a School of thought relates to and builds on major upanishads, the bhagavad gita, and the brahma sutra [bik].

Vedantin    (a) One who knows the Vedas. (b) One who follows the path of Vedanta.

vetala    Vampire.

vetta    Knower.

vichara    Inquiry into the nature of the Self, Truth, Absolute, Brahman.

vidyá    Knowledge.

vidya gupta    Secret oral traditions.

vijnanamaya kosha    The sheath of subtle wisdom inside the human.

vikalpa    Doubt.

vikarma    Sinful or forbidden activity.

vikshepa    The tossing of mind.

vikshipta    The dissipated or oscillating state of mind.

vina    Stringed musical instrument. The goddess of music, art, wisdom (etc.) is portraited as playing on one.

viparita-karani    "Opposite doing": one of the essential yoga postures, the half shoulder-stand.

vira    "Hero".

virat    The Cosmic Egg or Cosmic Soul.

vishaya    Sense-objects.

Vishnu    The controller in the "Hindu trilogy" of Brahma (God the Creator); Vishnu (up- keeper, maintainer fond of fraud); and Shiva (destroyer).

vishuddhi chakra    Throat chakra, the centre in the spine behind the thyroid gland; Centre for expressing thoughts.

visishtam    Differentiation.

viveka    Discerning faculty, discrimination.

vritti    A "wave in the mind-lake". It can suggest getting disturbed also. Vrittis (Plural) are fluctuations, modifications, which "ripple" the mind at one given Moment.

vyoma    space.


Yáajnavalkya (Yágnavalkya)    A honoured Hindu teacher of old. "Second only to [the Laws of] Manu is the Dharma Shastra of Yajnavalkya; its 1,013 stanzas are distributed under the three headings of good conduct, law, and expiation", says Encyclopaedia Britannica. Yajnavalkya's work agrees with Manu Samhita on many points, but disagrees in topics like gambling. His work paraphrases ideas in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, where he is told of (2:3 ff; 4:5.1). Also, the work he is credited with, has undergone many modifications. [EB "Hinduism"; Xmi, index.]

yaksha    An attendant of the Hindu god of wealth, Kubera. Female: yakshini.

Yam    Root mantra for anahata chakra (heart centre).

Yama    (1) The hindu god of death, also known as "king of righteous Deals", dharmaraja. (2) Discipline, or proper and non-wicked self control of thoughts and actions Tied in with such as righteousness that stems from deep inside. This meaning - restraint - lies behind the use of the word for the first of eight "steps" in Patanjali's yoga, where yama denotes what people had better not stray into, such as stealing and lying.

yana    Way, vehicle. Thus, Ramayana means "The way of Rama". Yana can also mean Subtle vehicle.

yantra    Both simple and elaborate geometric symbols aiming at liberating the Intently gazing deep mind somehow. Thus they turn into "magnetised stuff" inside oneself And can "have a half-life" of its own.

yoga nidra    Where one is neither awake nor in deep sleep. (Norwegian: "ei slags yogi- ørske").

yoga    "Yoke" and/or "union". There are many yogas. In practical living it is (1) a way or a system of methods. It is not just the system of solid, slow body stretching and twisting (hatha yoga); that is just one branch of the whole system. (2) It is also a Sanskrit-based, handed-over indian philosophy tied in with Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. (3) It can also mean the end goal of practical tries at doing yoga, particularly "union with the Godhead inside etc.". In addition to that, there are nuances and specialisations. "Those who attain yoga (union) breathe harmony" is one hint among others at what is aimed at.

Yogananda    A monk's name. It consists of 'yoga' and 'ananda' (great joy) glued together. Many Hindu monks have such a name. The most well-known one in the West is Param(a)hansa Yogananda (1893-1952), founder of Self-Realization Fellowship in Boston in 1920. He was born Mukunda Lal Ghosh in India. His Autobiography of a Yogi has been influential. In it, he presents several mystical topics, his own gurus, and "fabled kriya yoga methods" that he came to the West to make known. However, the basic kriya technique has been public knowledge for a long time. [Ujjayi]. By this a cat is let out of his bag.

Yoga sútras    Ancient primer on yoga attributed to Maharishi Patanjali. This the earliest extant textbook on yoga explains facets of the theistic yoga system (philosophy), one of the six systems of orthodox hindu philosopy. This orthodox hindu philosophy differs from the samkhya system of philosophy only in reckoning with god, who is defined as a distinct self.
    In the yoga system, the self is a bit different from the ordinary, everyday mind. The fundamental aim is to bring mind-modifications (citta-vritti) to rest, so that the self can shine forth in its essence, which is glad. In slightly other words, the brief and terse treatise deals with focusing and its methods, mind elevation through focus of thinking, and so on
    In the ancient textbook, yogic thought is grouped in four very brief books. They arecalled "psychic power", "practice of yoga", "samadhi", and "kaivalya" (liberation). The yoga-sutras were apparently written over several centuries: the first three books in the 2nd century bc, and the last book in the 5th century ad. The last book was possibly written in Patanjali's name, according to an ancient, customary practice in india. [EB, "yoga-sutras", "Patanjali"]

Yogi(n)    One who practices yoga.

yoginí    A female yogi.

yoni    (womb). Female sexual organ, womb, and source.

yuga    Era, age, time-period. One of the four ages of a Hindu world cycle, hence, "age", "eon", "era", "time cycle". Hindu scriptures tell of four eras. They correspond to some extent to the Greek golden, silver, bronze and iron ages. The yuga are: satya or krita yuga; treta yuga; dvapara yuga; and kali yuga. They are described in the Laws of Manu and briefly presented in Vishnu Puranam, and also mentioned in the old text Markandeya Purana. The descriptions of how long the eras and cycles are, vary extremely.


Zen    Zen Buddhism, a Japanese form of Buddhism. The word 'Zen' is derived from Sanskrit 'dhyana' (contemplation, deep meditation), via the Chinese 'ch'an'. Zen, then, is deep and contemplative Buddhism. It is just the same as the Great Symbol Teaching, Mahamudra, of Tibet, says Professor Chen-Chi Chang in Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines:

The essentialities of the practical teaching of Buddhism . . . can be found only in Zen and such Tantric yoga as is taught by the Mahamudra. . . . These Tantric Schools . . . produced great numbers of enlightened beings [p. xxxv].

From my own personal experiences in the study and practice of both Zen and Tantricism, I have discovered that the teachings of Zen and the advanced Tantricism of the Mahamudra are identical. Any difference discernible is merely the superficial and external one of diversity of style and methods of presentation. The essence is wholly the same [p. xxxv-xxxvi].


Pronouncing Sanskrit

a as in English come
â (long a) as in far
e as in bed
î as in feel
o as in note
u as in full

ai, ay as 'oy' in toy
au is 'o' sounded deep in the throat
ch as ch in cheek
d and g are hard as in dog
jn as 'gy'
s as in sheer
sh quite as in English
t and d are soft as in French
th sounds like t and h in boat-house (the h is "given air")

The stress of long Sanskrit words should be on the third last syllable, but there are exceptions. Among them: words that end with -anda (contain 'nd' in the last two syllables) have the stress on the second last syllable.

An end a in words and also in word segments (parts) may or may not be dropped. Thus the alternative spellings 'paramahansa' - 'paramhansa' and 'ananda' - 'anand'.
Diacritical marks have usually been dropped on the pages of this site.

All these matters are more complex than a crash course may cover; it is mainly for starters.


Yoga words, Sanskrit terms, yoga glossary, yogic terms, Literature  

This glossary draws on many sources, some on-line (The Sri Aurobindo Ashram's Separate Glossary to Sri Aurobindo's Record of Yoga (2001) is good). Many yoga books come with glossaries.


Chidbhavananda, Swami. 2012. The Bhagavad Gita. 25th impression. Tirupparaitturai, IN: Sri Ramakrishna Tapovanam.

Deussen, Paul, tr. Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Vols 1-2. Varanasi: Banarsidass, 1980.

Day, Harvey. Yoga Illustrated Dictionary. Ill. James Hodgson. London: Kaye and Ward, 1971.

Gambhirananda, swami, tr. Brahma-Sutra-Bhasya of Sri Sankaracarya. 4th ed. Calcutta: Advaita, 1983.

Evans-Wentz, Walter Yeeling, ed. Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines. 2nd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1967.

Feuerstein, Georg. Encyclopedic Dictionary of Yoga. New York: Paragon House, 1990. ⍽▢⍽ George Feuerstein, Ph.D. (1947-2012), was a renowned, independent indologist. He specialised in yoga. This well worked dictionary aims at explaining yoga terms to students and other interested ones. Entries for the transiterated terms contain cross references and references to traditional sources.

Grimes, John. A Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy: Sanskrit Terms Defined in English. New, rev. 3rd ed. Varanasi: Indica Books, 2009. ⍽▢⍽ Professor Grimes helps Western students with Vedanta terms by this concise dictionary. Many such Sanskrit terms are used in yoga books. The author defines many of them and arrange them according to the Roman alphabet in transliterated form, followed by the terms written in the Devanagari script, and given succinct English translations and explanations. The entries vary from a line to about one and a half page, depending on the entry subjects.

Sri Aurobindo Ashram Publication Department. Separate Glossary to Record of Yoga. Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, 2001. ⍽▢⍽ Online, large and of excellent quality.

Svatmarama. Hathayogapradipika. Madras: Adyar, 1972.

Wood, Ernest. Yoga Dictionary. New York: Philosophical Library, 1956.

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