Var: å, aa,
Sense: ‘Not’— used as a prefix denoting the negative condition,
indicating the contrary or ‘opposite to.’ As vidya means
‘knowledge,’ so avidya (a-vidya) means ‘not-knowledge’ or
Aarati — see Årati
Abedha-Nishta (ah-bed-ha-nish-ta )
Synon: Abheda nishta, Atma Nishta, Sahaja Nishta, Selfrealisation
Sense: ‘Unificatory abidance in the Self:’ that state in which the
movement of ‘mind’ is stilled when lost in the Self, just as water
is lost when poured into milk.
Var: aabhaasa, abhasa
Sense: ‘Unreal appearance, reflection (as moon in water).’
Åbhåsana (ahb-bhah-sanna )
Var: aabhaasana, (abhasan)
Sense: ‘Making something appear which is actually of an unreal
nature,’ such as in the process of ideation, when one mentally
thinks pictures into being on the ‘screen of consciousness.’
If we take the unmanifest state of Universal
Consciousness as the ‘ground of Reality,’ then even the Divine
Ideation (or the Creative Thoughts of God’) in which the universe
is thought into being is manifesting ‘unreal’ phenomena, i.e., a
passing and ever-changing universe as compared with the Reality
which is eternal and free from differentiation and change.
Abhaya(m) (a-bai-ya or a-buyer, or a-bhai-yam)
Sense: ‘Absence of fear; fearlessness, freedom from anguish;’ also
safety and inner peace. (See also Mudra)
Abheda-bhakti (ab-bedda-bhak-tee )
Sense: ‘The culmination of devotion resulting in the total
identification of the worshipper with that which is worshipped.’
Sense: ‘Non-separateness, union:’ the sense of being totally One
with the Omnipresence and all creation. This is often the result of
abheda-bhakti (or the sense of devotional unity).
Sense: ‘That to which the practitioner of yoga finds his mind
becoming naturally attached.’ — Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra .
However, according to Krishnamacharya of Madras, this is the
very tendency which yoga seeks to overcome, and therefore states
that the correct rendering of Patanjali’s Sutra should be yethabhimata
, or “according to one’s religious practice.”
Sense: ‘Instinctive clinging to material life and fear of death.’
Sense: ‘Anointing, consecration, empowerment.’
It is the ritual oblation of liquids or holy water poured over an
idol, person or object, generally the ritual bathing of a person or
idol in a temple.
Anointing is a ritual initiation, for which reason abhisheka is
sometimes translated as ‘initiation.’ In Hinduism, it generally refers
to the ritual sprinkling of a temple image, idol, or Shiva lingam, by
a Brahmin priest, pouring substances over them, such as coconut
water, saffron, honey, rice-flower, limewater, rosewater,
sandalwood paste and milk.
When a temple is to be dedicated, pots of liquid are prepared days
in advance and consecrated before they are finally poured over the
images amid general rejoicing. This is often known as abishekam
kumbha ceremony. (Kumbha - retention, holding, gathering or
convocation. It is also the form of a pear-shaped pot or pitcher.)
In Tantrism, abhisheka is a formal ceremony of empowerment,
a transmission from teacher to student assisting his development
from one grade to the next.
Abhva (ab-vah )
Sense: ‘Monstrosity, horror, terrifying, a monster’: from
a-bhu, ‘non-being, nonexisting.’
In Hatha Yoga: the regulation of internal respiration.
Abhyåsa (ab-bhee-yaa-sa )
Sense: ‘Repeated and sustained spiritual practice, or yoga
The state of yoga (union) achieved through the constantly
repeated practice of inward concentration, preventing the mind
from straying outwards towards things of the world.
Root: Abhi —‘in the direction of’ and åsa — ‘remaining’: that is,
the attempt to remain continuously in the state of mental
One who constantly practises such inner awareness is an
Abhrasadaçhi (ab-rah-sa-da-shyee )
Sense: ‘The seat of Consciousness’ — that is, the Heart Centre of
Åcala — see Åchala
Åcamana (see Åchamana)
Åcchå (aah-chah) (Hindi)
Sense: ‘Clear, lucid, transparent.’
Lit. ‘Not dark’ (a -not, cha —dark.)
a) In colloquial Hindi it has a wide and very loose range of
meaning, inferring: ‘Clear, I see, good, I understand, I agree,
or okay,’ (usually expressed with a sideways wobble of the
b) In a great many instances —especially coming from
bureaucratic officials behind desks, it often means ‘Yes, Isee-
Var. Aachala, acala, åchalam
Sense: ‘Motionlessness, immobility, immovability.’
Also ‘the restful or steady phase of dynamic mediation— a
condition that comes after energy has matured during meditation
and spontaneous movements (Kriyas) have ceased.
Lit: Å-chala — ‘without movement.’ When spontaneous jerks, or
other movements occur, it is called cala or chala .
Other: a) A hill or mountain, such as Arunachala — the
‘Red/Rose,’ ‘Light of Fire,’ or ‘Mountain of the Dawn’ at
Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, South India.
b) ‘Achala signifies perfection.’1 — Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi.
1‘The Necklet of Nine Gems’ from The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi — Ed. Arthur
Åchamana (aah-cha-ma-na )
Var: aachamana, acamana, acaman,
Sense: ‘The offering of pure water to God or to devotees (or the
action of sipping it from the hollowed palm of the right hand.’
To be practiced during ritualistic worship; generally observed by
taking three sips at the commencement of a ceremony, or after
puja when tulsi -leaf flavoured water is passed around; or after
ritually sprinkling water around one’s plate before eating.
The water is usually spooned into the right palm and ritualistically
sipped three times, while mentally repeating one of God’s names.
Tradition states this should be done while sitting. This is also a
part of the traditional Sixteen Steps of worship in Mantra Yoga
when propitiating a diety. (See Sodasopacara).
Var: aacharaa, achara, acara
Sense: ‘Right conduct’— that is, the social mode of conduct
according to customary practice.
In a spiritual context, sat-åcharå (true observance) means
‘abidance as Sat, the reality.’
Other: In tantrå, the external rituals utilised during meditative
practices are also known as åchåras.
Sense: ‘The code of behaviour; the external observance of
established rules, laws or scriptural injunctions.’
‘…charana means the one who has to behave.’1 [That is,
according to the rules].
Var: Aachaarya, acharya, åcårya
Sense: ‘A spiritual guide or preceptor — one who has mastered the
code of åchåra (the spiritual rules of behaviour) and cultivates
others to observe them properly.’
Hence åcharati — to practice what one preaches.
Originally, an åchårya was teacher of the Vedas; a spiritual guide
who performs initiation. The word was in current use even earlier
than the appellation ‘guru.’
Other: Now colloquially used to denote ‘teacher’ of any kind.
Var: Aachaarya-abhishekam, acharyabhishekam
Sense: ‘A ceremonial ritual bath given by a spiritual preceptor to a
spiritually advanced soul, as a form of initiation.’
Var: Aacharya-upaasanam, acharyopasanam, acarya-upasanam
Sense: ‘Serving the teacher.’
It means to completely surrender to the teacher in order to receive
knowledge from him, with faith in his integrity. This does not mean
blind faith and a willingness to follow the injunctions of the guru
without question, but a reverential attitude tempered by your own
sensibilities and conscience.
Achit (ah-chit )
Sense: ‘Not ensouled or sentient—i.e., dense matter.’
Sense: ‘A divine command arising from within the being’.
Var: Adi, ådi
Sense: ‘Source, beginning, first, foremost.’
The sound of the pranava or Om is called Adi in the
Chhandogya Upani‚had, as it was the first emanation out of the
mysterious universal substratum known as Brahman.
The great 8th century sage Shankaracharya is also known as
Ådi (the first) Shankaracharya, to distinguish him from many
other Shankara’s that came after him.
Sense: ‘Low, inferior, degraded.’ (Not to be confused with
adharma — ‘beyond the prescribed code.’)
Sense: ‘Conduct opposed to dharma (religious duty); unrighteous
Lit. ‘Not dharma,’ (a-dharma), viz., the type of action that is
prohibited by the Shastras or scriptural texts.
Sense: ‘Relating to beings’ — one of the three ways of interpreting
Vedic texts from an anthropological point of view, rather than from
the god-centric theological (Ådhidaivika) or spiritual
Other: a) In contemplative practice: ‘Relating to matter, in which
one focuses ones mind on an image of one’s guru, or a candleflame,
a crystal, a statue, picture, or other material object.’
b) ‘Disease due to drought, earthquakes, floods, famine or insect
bites’ as classified in Svatmarama’s Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
Ådhidaivata (aad-dhee-dai-vatta )
Ådhidaivika (aah-dhee-dai-vi-ka )
Sense: ‘Relating to the Gods’— a particular method of interpreting
the Vedic texts from a theological point of view, rather than the
anthropological or cosmological aspects.
Other: a) Another meaning is ‘Astral’ — relating to celestial bodies
in contemplative practice (dhårana) in which one focuses on
celestial regions or on the sun, the moon, a star, etc.
b) Disease through the influence of planets — “which in modern
language is termed ‘allergy’” —B.K.S. Iyengar. 1
c) In Tantric practice, it relates to that area of the subtle body,
where three secret chakras, Lalata, Golata and Lalana , exist in the
region of the head and are activated only when kundalini is aroused
and reaches that level.
Refs: 1 p.6, Spectrum (British Wheel of Yoga journal, Spring, 1983)
Var: Aadhikaara, adhikara
Sense: ‘The qualification or eligibility of a person which fits him
for the right to follow the practices enjoined by the scriptures.’
a) ‘One’s sphere of of competence in interaction with other
domains.’ (acc. Jaimini, author of the Mimåμså S¨tras ).
b) ‘Having to do with’ (acc. Roger Marcaurelle), who also states
‘…we contend that Çankara sometimes uses the word adhikåra to
identify the relevance or non-relevance of the sphere of action and
the sphere of renunciation and Self-knowledge.’1
c) “Complete or full adhikara is to be made a Deputy. A permission
to teach everything according to need.” 2
d) There are apparently many other nuances with regard to the
usage of this word, but which are as yet unknown to me. —Author .
1Freedom Through Inner Renunciation: Sankara’s Philosophy in a New Light — Roger
Marcaurelle (Sri Satguru publications, Delhi, 2002). ISBN: 81-7030-769-4
The Chasm of Fire—Irena Tweedie (Element Books, UK, 1979). ISBN: 0-90654001-1
Ådhikårika puru‚ha (aah-dee-kaar-ree-ka poo-roo-shah)
Var: Aadhikaarika puru‚a
Sense: ‘A released soul that assumes another form after death or by
a new birth in order to work for the welfare of the world.’
The great masters Vyåsa and Vaçhi‚h†ha are said to have been
Var: Adhi‚h†håna, adhisthaana,
Sense: ‘The primeval matrix; the great ‘Void’ before creation, from
which all emerges.’
Otherwise ‘abode,’ as in Svadhisthåna chakra — ‘one’s own
Adhi‚†håna-kåra~a (add-dhish-taa-nah-kaa-ranna )
Var: Adhi‚h†håna kåra~a, Adhisthaana-kaarana
Sense: ‘Substratum’— of the universe, viz., Brahman.
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Adhi‚thåna Chaitanya (add-dhish-taa-nah chai-tannya )
Var: Adhi‚hthaana caitanya
Synon: K¨†astha, pratyag-åtman, såk‚hin (the Witnessing
Sense: ‘The conscious principle which supports the residual
‘individuality’ of a Realised being.’
Sense: ‘Superimposition; such as the illusion of seeing one thing as
another;’ as in the classical example of mistaking a rope for a snake
in the half-light—Vedic Philosophy.
The 8th century sage Adi Çhankara developed this concept,
pointing out that the identity of the ‘non-self’ (i.e., one’s concept of
oneself as an individual embodied being) being superimposed on
the real Self, constitutes adhyåsa.
Var: Adhyåtma, Adhyaatman, Adhi-atman, Adi-åtman
Sense: ‘The Supreme Self or Spirit within.’
‘The principle of Self in Nature.’ — acc.Sri Aurobindo.
Adhyåtma-prasåda (ad-dhee-aat-ma-pra-sah-da )
Var: Adhyatma-prasada, adhyaatmaprasaada
Sense: ‘Purity of spirit.’
Sense: ‘Pertaining to the Åtman or Self.’
One of the three ways of interpreting the Vedas, by
considering the spiritual dimension of Man as Atman: this being the
preferred method of Vedanta (as opposed to the theological
(Ådhidaivika) or anthropological (Ådhibautika) way of interpreting
a) The principle which makes one conscious of oneself (the
awareness of ‘I Am’) even without having any concept of Self.
Ådhyåtma Vidya (adhee-art-mah-vid-yuh)
Sense: ‘The Knowledge of the Self.’
The path of enquiry into the Self is only for the mature and
earnest seeker (jignasa), who has long passed kindergarden
spirituality and gone beyond all forms of external workship and
Adhyåyas (adh-yai-yas )
Sense: ‘Chapters’ in holy books.
Ådi (arh-dee )
Var: aadi, adhi, adhy,
Sense: ‘Primal, the first; beginning, source.’
Other: a) Supreme. b) ‘And the rest.’
Var: Adibeeja, adi-bija
Sense: ‘The first or primal seed-sound’ of universal creation.
This relates to the subtle sound of Om (or pranava) as the first
‘seed’ or emanation from the Absolute state of Shivam (Brahman)
in the process of manifestation.
Ådib⁄ja is also an epithet of Ganesha, who is the mythological
and symbolic representation of the Omkara—or ‘sound of Om.’
Sense: ‘The Original Godhead.’
Ådi Nåtha (arh-dee nar-thah)
Var: aadi-nath, Ådinatha,
Synon: ‘Cosmic Consciousness’,
Sense: ‘The Primordial Guru’— the name given to Shiva by the
Natha sect of yogis; otherwise an appellation of Rishi Dattatreya,
the arch-yogi and teacher of yogis.
Brahman — the Absolute or Eternal Teacher hidden in Bindu, is
also called by this appelation.
Var: Aadipurusha, ådi-puru‚a
Sense: ‘The primal Conscious Noumenon.’
That aspect of primal nature which is the first manifestation
emanating from the Brahman.
Ådi Shakti (arh-dee shak-tee )
Var: Aadishakti, adi-sakti, ådi-sakthi
Synon: Adya Prakriti , Moola Prakriti
Sense: ‘The original creative principle of Divine energy;’
personified as female kinetic energy.
Åditi (ah-dit-tee )
Sense: ‘Space, infinity, the boundlessness (of heaven) or the
Root: då—to bind, therefore å-ditya—unbound, free.
Åditi is also the name of a goddess in the Vedas, known as the
‘Mother of Creation,’ partnered with Daksha representing the
Father or male principle. In the Rig Veda she is personified as the
Primeval Mother, Deva -Matri or ‘Mother of the Gods,’ a being of
light from whom sprang the seven Ådityas (solar deities) and
Åditya the Sun God himself.
She is also referred to as a cow (RV1, 153, 3) and compared to
the Earth (RV1, 72, 9), in both instances representing the maternal
and succouring aspects of the earth, being the symbol of unbound,
divine freedom and generosity.
Other: a) Free, unbound, freedom. b) ‘Infinite Consciousness’ (acc.
Sri Aurobindo) .
Åditya (ah-dit-ya )
Var: Aaditya ,
Sense: ‘The Sun-God,’ or ‘the Giver of Light;’ the son of Aditi
(space, or the indivisible ether).
In one sense it can be the sun itself, or the luminous principle of
light in the firmament of consciousness (chidåkåçha). Aditya is also
the devata of the sense of sight in all beings, symbolised by the sun.
(See also Ådityas).
Quote: “Offering to Aditya [in a Yagna fire sacrifice]…would
mean firm resolution and decision to the effect that no eyes should
be offended by unworthy conduct. Love, smiles and blessings to be
presented to whatsoever eyes may turn upon you, to recognise God
in all eyes. This is the offering to Aditya.” 1
Ref: 1 In the Woods of God Realisation, Swami Rama Teertha (Rama Teertha Pratisthan, Lucknow,
Ådityas (ah-dit-yas )
Sense: ‘A class of celestial solar deities;’ numbered variously as
seven, eight, or twelve.
The most important Ådityas are Varu~a, Mitra, Aryaman,
Vivasvat and Bhaga; although the list sometimes includes Indra and
in later texts Vi‚h~u was also added to this group.
Ad®∂ha karma (ad-ruh-dha kur-rma )
Var: Aridhda, adrdha
Sense: ‘That form of karma which is not fixed, but capable of being
changed by the qualitative change in you.’
The opposite is d®∂ha karma, which is ‘fixed, firm, unyielding
Synon: Karma, Prarabdha,Vidhi
Sense: ‘The momentum of an unseen force attracting situations in
life as a result of prior actions.’
Lit.‘the unseen’ (principle); often rendered as ‘fate.’ Hence the
unseen power or destiny which is the causal movement of
existence, usually applied to the unknown store of past karma,
which is generally beyond our conscious apprehension until its
Sometimes called the Supra-consciousness in man.
Advaita (ad-vai-ta )
Var: adwaita, advita, adwita; advaitha
Synon: Advayam, Brahman, kevala (kevalam), Sivam,
Sense: ‘Non-duality’— the negation of any second principal that
exists independent of the non-manifest Absolute.
Lit: ‘Not having a second:’ a - without, dvaita - two-ness, dualism.
Advaita is the highest spiritual insight that sees ultimate reality as
being neither monistic nor dualistic. It is often incorrectly termed
‘Monism’; however, it is not ‘Oneness’, but rather ‘not two-ness’,
which indicates more of the simple ‘isness’ of the Absolute, or the
‘Suchness’ of Chinese Buddhism.
Although Advaita indicates that there is no separation between
oneself and the Absolute, this does not mean that seemingly
external things or persons may not be revered as representing the
Unseen Spirit which is causing them. When Ramana Maharshi of
Arunachala told his devotees that mere prostration to the guru was
not namaskar (reverential salutations), but only merging the mind
in the Self was the real attitude to take, they remonstrated, saying
that it was alright for an enlightened being to act thus, but asked if
it wasn’t necessary for the less evolved to prostrate, that is, to
humble themselves before the guru as a step in development.
“Yes, it is so. The Advaita attitude does not mean that you
should not do namaskar and the like. Only it should not be
overdone. Advaita should be in the disposition of the mind; it
will not do for outside, worldly affairs. You are asked to look
at everything with equality (sama drishti) but can we eat the
same food that a dog eats? A handful of grain will do for a
bird but will that do for us? We eat a certain quantity of food,
but will that be enough for an elephant? So, you should have
the attitude of Advaita only in bhåva [in the feeling-attitude] in
the mind, but you should follow the world in other matters.” 1
a) “...we find that there are some systems which postulate the
existence of God as the Supreme Being and at the same time grant
the independent existence of matter, and also the independent
existence of individual souls. In some other systems, God is
conceived of as the Supreme Being as well as the primary material
cause of the universe of matter, thereby denying inert matter an
independent existence of its own, but conceding such existence to
the individual souls... It is only in the Advaita system that matter is
denied existence independent of God... It will be clear now that the
distinguishing characteristic which exclusively belongs to the
Advaita system, is its enunciation of the non-existence of the
Universe of matter or of the individual souls independent of God,
which is called by us — Brahman.” 2
b) “The Advaita doctrine is enunciated from a plane which
ordinary people cannot aspire to achieve for very many more
births to come. But even for simple crafts, such as masonry or
carpentry, a preliminary course of training is required before a
person is allowed to handle the instruments; but in the field of
Brahma-Vidya, the Science of the Self, everybody thinks
himself competent and entitled to study the systems of Advaita
and even to sit on judgement over it. This attitude must go and
must be replaced by earnest endeavour first to secure the
necessary competence.” — Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.
Other: a) Brahman—the Absolute Principle, is sometimes referred
to as the Advaita—the Non-Dual. b) Advaita Vedanta—the nondualistic
philosophy of Çhånkåråchårya. Hence an Advaitin is a
a) Gaudapada: A Study in Early Advaita—Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan (Madras University Publications,
b) Vedåntasåra (classic compendium, approx. 1500-1550 C.E.)
c) Vedåntaparibhåsa (classic compendium, approx. 1550-1600 C.E.)
d) The Philosophy of Advaita—Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan (Madras University Publications)
e) The Panchadasi of Bharatitirtha —Dr. T. M. P. Mahadevan (Madras University Publications)
f) Metaphysics of Advaita Vedanta—G.R. Malakani.
g) Advaita Vedanta—Venkatarama Iyer.
h) The Brahmasutra—Dr. S. Radhakrishnan (Madras University).
i) Saundarya Lahari—Adi Shankaracharya, Ed. Subramanya Shastri (Theosophical Pub. House,
Adyar, Madras. 1948); one of the most famous Advaitic works.
j) Viveka-Chudamani :The Crest Jewel of Discrimination—Adi Shankaracharya, Tr. Madhavananda
(Advaita Ashrama, Almora, Himalayas 1944).
k)Viveka-Chudamani—Shankaracharya. Tr. Charles Johnson (John M. Watkins, 1964);
l) Ontology of Advaita—Dr. Ramakrishna Rao (Research and Publication Vijaya College, Mulki,
S.India. 1968) a booklet also expounding Maya, etc.)
m)Vedanta Chintamani orVivekacintamani—Nijaguna Shiva Yogi (recommended as an authority on
Advaita Vedanta by Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi).
n) Upadesha Sahashri—Shankararcharya, Tr. Sw. Jagadananda (Sri Ramakrisna Math, Mylapore,
o) Sarva Jnanottara and Devikalottara — two authoritative scriptures of pure Advaita , of which there
are many versions available.
p) Panchadashi: A Treatise of Advaita Metaphysics—Hari Prashad Shastri, (Shanti Sadan, 29,
Chepstow Villas, London W.11. 1965).
q) The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi—Arthur Osborne Ed. (Sri Ramanashramam. 1968; also
Rider & Co. London);
r) Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi—Sw. Ramananda Saraswati (Sri Ramanashramam,
Tiruvannamalai, N. Arcot, Tamil Nadu, India). Highly recommended, teachings in conversations with
s) The Power of the Presence -Vols. I-III—David Godman (Avadhuta Foundation, USA. ISBN: 0-
9711371-0-2. An excellent series: also, any other books by Godman about Sri Ramana Maharshi.
t) I am That: Talks with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (2 Vols) — Ed. Maurice Frydman (1973/19980
u) Pointers from Nisargadatta Maharaj — Ramesh Balsekar.
v) Prior to Consciousness: Talks withNisargadatta Maharaj—Ed. Jean Dunn
w) Self: the Truth Absolute :A Review of Advaita Vedanta — Dr. G. Subramanian (Giri trading
Agency, Madras. 1995).
x) Guru Vachaka Kovai—Sri Muruganar. Tr. Sri Sadhu Om (Sri ArunachalaRamana Nilayam,
1 Letters from Sri Ramanashramam—Vols. I & II, Surya Nagamma. (Tr. D.S. Sastri. Pub. Sri
2 Dialogues with the Guru—R.Krishnaswami Aiyar (Chetana, Bombay).
Sense: ‘Not having a second’— the principle of advaita: not exactly
‘Oneness’ but ‘not Two-ness.’
Sense: ‘Primordial, original.’
Ådyå Nityå Lalitå (ard-yar nit-yar lal-lee-tah)
The goddess Lalitå personified as Supreme Universal Energy
and Cosmic Time. Ådyå = primordial, Nityå = eternal. She is said
to divide herself sixteenfold (relating to sixteen phases of the
moon) into sixteen ‘Nityå Çhaktis’ (eternal energies) worshipped
as deities, each having their own yantra. The goddess is
sometimes depicted with sixteen arms, representing all phases of
the moon. Descriptions of the Nityå Çhaktis and the mode of
worship for each moon phase are found in the Tantraråja Tantra.
In the tantric practice of mentally fusing with the cosmological
Sri Yantra diagram, Lalitå is represented by the central bindu (dot)
personifying the innermost centre of consciousness, where her
mysterious presence is to be found.
Ådya Prak®⁄ti (ard-dee-ya prak-kreet-tih)
Var: Aadya-prakriti, aadya-prakreeti, adya prak®iti
Synon: M¨lå prakriti
Sense: ‘The primordial force of phenomenal nature.’
Var: aadhyaçakti, adi-çhakti, adyashakti
Synon: avyaktam, mula-prakiti,
Sense: ‘Primordial Power: the original energy of the Universe’.
Root: adya — primordial, original.
Agarbåthi (aggar-bar-tee )
Synon: Dh¨pa, dhoop
The inner significance of using incense is the burning away of the
impurities of mind and the sense of ego. Also, using incense when
meditating is a scented reminder of spirituality, which puts you in
the right frame of being, by evoking a sense of familiar practice in
the cellular memory by its fragrance.
Ågamas (ah-gar-mahs )
Var: (Agams )
Sense: ‘Scriptures’: ågama—scripture.
Lit. ‘The truths which have come down’ (to mankind, from ancient
The Ågamas are traditional Hindu scriptures, rated on a par with
the Vedas and regarded as no less divinely revealed, having no
known human authors. Some authorities regard them in a lesser
light. Much of temple worship is founded upon them. There are
three forms available today: the Shaivagamas and Shaktagamas
dealing with the worship of the deities Shiva and his ‘spouse’
Shakti , and the Vaishnavagamas relating toVishnu.
The Agamas are also known as the Tantras, an area of study
generally neglected, despite the efforts of a foundation called the
Agama Anusandhana Samati, which was led by Sir John
Woodroffe (Arthur Avalon) and Atal Behari Ghose. Perhaps this is
because of the low esteem in which certain meditative-copulative
sexual practices of the left-hand tantric path are held. Such
practices form but a minute part of tantric study as a whole, but
tend to be firmly associated in both Western and Eastern minds
with the word Tantra.
Some theories maintain that the Agamas developed side by side
with the Upanishads, since some texts appear to interpret and
elaborate them, but others maintain that they are distinctly pre-
Aryan in religious culture. It is clear that elements from both
scriptures have interpenetrated each other to form the modern
philosophy of Hinduism.
“The religion of the Agamas apparently developed through two
channels: one exoteric and the other esoteric. The former was
continued as pure Shaivism, having a greater emphasis on the
devotional aspect of the worship of Shiva, with a view to attaining
salvation. The latter was continued as Shaktism, with greater
emphasis on the various Shakti cults, not so much to attain
salvation as to gain mastery over forces of nature. The literature of
pure Shaivism, ceases to be called Tantra. ”
—Mahatapasvi Kumarswamiji. 1
Other: Ågama also means ‘attending to scripture.’ In his
Commentary on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (Samadhi Pada v.48) the
sage Patanjali quotes an ancient text as stating that the Supreme
Yoga is attained by ågama—or attending to scripture. Ågama
pranama— ‘Correct knowledge gained through the scriptures’.
Bib: The authoritative scriptures on Tantra and two of the most
outstanding expressions of pure advaita are to be found in the Sarva
Jñanottara and the Devikalottara , of which there are many
1An Evaluation of the Tantras — H. H. Mahatapasvi Kumarswamiji (Chakra Journal of Tantra and
Yoga . Vol.2, 1971. Kumar Gallery, New Delhi-3).
Ågåmi karma (arg-gaar-mi karr-mah)
Sense: ‘The seeds of future karma, which are being sown in the
present.’ Ågåmi — ‘coming (karma ). (See Karma for more detail.)
Aghamarsana (arg-gah-mar-sanna )
Sense: ‘A water-gazing discipline for the removal of sins.’
Aghamarsana-kriya is one of the practices in the performance of
Sandhya-vandana or Twilight Meditation. The sages aver that no
matter how carefully we attempt to act in every situation of life,
the negative karmas we accumulate by thought, word or deed, are
enough to precipitate us into at least another dozen or so births
and deaths. Aghamarsana is traditionally held to be a conscious
method of destroying sins that have been accumulated consciously
In his meditations, the sage Aghamarsana heard the mantras
relating to this practice and passed them on as his teaching.
Method: Hold a little water in the palm of the right hand. During
the inhalation, raise it to the level of the nostrils and gaze into the
water while holding the breath. One should visualise all one’s sins
as streaming out of the right nostril and the power of purity in the
water entering into the left nostril. Then the water is thrown over
the left shoulder without giving it another glance. This is followed
by holding a spoon of water below the nose, while chanting the
following mantras for the expulsion of sins:
¸tam ceti t®casya Aghamarsana ®‚iª
Bhavav®to devata, Anustup chandah
papapurusa visarjane viniyogah.
Aghor (ag-ghor )
Sense: ‘Transmutation’— a mysterious and esoteric solar science of
healing and transmutation of matter, by mastery of the finer subtle
forces of life. An adept is known as an Aghori . They are few and
a) Aghora Vols. I-III — Robert Svoboda (Rupa & Co. New Delhi.) b) Living with the
Himalayan Masters — Swami Rama
Aghora (ag-ghor-ra )
Sense: ‘Non-terrifying’ — an epithet of the Omniscient One.
Also regarded as the sense of ‘I’ (aham) from the mantric
letters a , ha , and m, regarded as the essence of Para-Vak — the All
Aghor is the mysterious esoteric science of healing and
transmutation of matter, by mastery of the subtle forces of life
(more subtle than prana). An adept of this path is known as an
aghori . To ordinary folk, ‘aghori babas’ are terrifying in
themselves, but aghoris fearlessly immerse themselves in the most
disgusting or terrifying practices imaginable in order to transcend
and transmute them; such as deifying Death and sitting astride
corpses in cremation grounds as a form of meditation. Such adepts
are few and far between. But those who have become adepts appear
capable of extraordinary powers.
Bib: 1) Aghora I, II & III — Robert Svobodha (Rupa & Co. Delhi, 1994)
Agnaana — see Åjnåna
Agneya (ag-nyey-ya )
Sense: ‘The type of mantras used for destructive purposes, when a
practitioner is breathing through his right (solar) nostril.’
In Tantric practice these are called ‘hot’ mantras, chanted or
mentally projected when the air is flowing through Surya Nadi
(pingala, or right nostril). Mantras of this type are used for
aggressive and destructive purposes.
‘Cold’ mantras are those to be chanted when the air is flowing
through Chandra Nadi (ida, or the left nostril). These are known as
saumya and are used for beneficial purposes.
Ågni (aahg-nee )
Var: Agniª, aagni
Synon: Å~girasa, Purva — ‘the First-born’ (in the Çhatapatha
Bråhma~a ). Vaiçvårnara — the Universal Lord, is the name of
Agni in the ¸g Veda (Ch.VII, v.49) and elsewhere he is called
urjas putra , as ‘rich in milk’ (that is to say, giving nourishment).
The wind known as Måtariçvan — is also considered as a form
Sense: a) ‘The God of Fire’: the mediator between gods and
men who makes no distinctions and lives impartially in the
heart and home of everyman. Therefore the Vedic poets call
him Grihapati—‘Lord of the House.’
b) ‘Fire itself: the sacrificial fire, or the fiery element in man’
and as such is also known as Kundalini or somaª.
In the confusing minefield of Hindu deities, Ågni is one of the
most difficult to pin down and classify, having gone through
myriads of transformations, functions and appellations. Originally,
over 200 hymns were dedicated to Ågni in the ¸g Veda , where he
is eulogised as the first and wisest ‘God of all Gods.’ There he is
the spokesman of the Gods to humankind and the very spirit of all
the Gods, from whom they all gain their wisdom, strength and
In the Vedic conception he is equated with Vak or speech, the fire
According to the Puranas, he is variously said to be the son of
Brahma; the offspring of Dayaus and Prithvi (Heaven and Earth);
or the son of Kaçyapa and Aditi (Sun and Space); some say the son
of Angiras King of the Pitris—the Fathers of mankind. Here he has
become one of the three leaders of the lesser gods, together with
Indra — the senses, and Vayu — air, wind breath, because these
three have more of the pure manifestation of (and are “closest” to)
According to a legend in the Kena Upanishad, the god Ågni and
others were the first to come into intimate contact with the Supreme
and know that “That” is Brahman.
In the Bråhma~as, Ågni is known as Gåyatr⁄, who steals Soma
(the liquid vehicle of immortality) made from a Himalayan creeper
and thus is known as Somaª or Somapati the — ‘Lord of Plants.’
In its psycho-physiological aspect, Ågni is representative of the
psychic fire in man (Ågni-pavaka) and controls the physiological
forces, especially the chemical and biochemical forces. Hence Ågni
is also synonymous with the “fire of the stomach” manifesting as
the power of digestion. And in this function is known as
Vaiçvårnara (as well as previously having this same appellation as
the ‘God of Gods’ in the ¸g Veda ).
The Vedic poets refer to these three basic forms — the earthly
fire, the lightening of the mid-regions, and the blazing orb of the
Whenever desire flames up in a person, Ågni is also there as
Kåmågni (kåmå—desire, ågni—fire) and relates to deep-seated
desires of the soul.
The anthropomorphic Ågni is often represented as a man of flame
with two or three heads, several tongues, three legs, seven arms,
garlanded with fruits and riding a ram.
Quotes: “Ågni resides on earth, within the plants.
The waters contain Agni; in the stones is he.
Agni abides deep in the hearts of Men.
In cattle and horses there are Ågnis .” 1
Therefore although Ågni is praised with great veneration in the
homes of worshippers, both morning and evening at the fireside,
evidently Ågni is not simply fire, but is called the ‘life spark’
existing even in waters, in wood or stone.
As the celestial fire, he is taken to be Surya the Sungod. So
Ågni is also the ‘sun itself’ and exists within all things and
beings, being the ‘fecundating seed’ of all beings.
Other: a) ‘The fire of the illumined will, of human aspiration’—
according to Sri Aurobindo.
1Atharva Veda, XII, 1 (Bh¨mi S¨kta ).
Ågnihotra (arg-nee-hoh-tra )
Var: Agni-hotra, agnee hotra, aagnihotra
Synon: Homam, homa
Sense: ‘The fire sacrifice, oblation to the flames,’ practised
daily at sunrise and sunset.
In traditional Brahmin households ågnihotra is held every day in
the domestic fireplace, discharged jointly by the man and wife,
sprinking milk on the flames as a symbol of the goodness in
married life. The wife then takes a flame to light the kitchen stove
or fire, it having been sanctified for the preparation of food. The
homa is a fire that is to be kept continuously burning by
householders as prescribed in the laws of Grihashta in a treatise on
the Householder life.
Certain sadhus such as Aghoris and Nagas also keep a continuous
sacred fire burning, known as a dhuni, with which they have a
special relationship. If you do not wish to invoke the wrath of the
adept, you should never approach such a fire, throw anything into
it, or let your shadow cross it. Fire worship is a practice intended to
purify both consciousness and the fire element in the body. It is
enhanced by the use of ågni mantras.
In Vedic times, as today, a fire-worshipper was known as an
ågnihotri — being one who endeavoured to gain the energy of the
sun through working ritually with the fire. Standing in the smoke of
the fire is considered to have a purificatory effect. Native
Americans also sit in the smoke of their fires for the same reason.
The officiating priest at a homa or ågnihotra , who offers
substances to the fire, is known as a hot® .
There are three basic forms of fire for the Agni Hotra .
One fire is known as Anvåhåryapacana (or sometimes
Dak‚inågni ) and is placed on the southern side of a
house, being used only for offering oblations to the
forefathers, or ancestors.
The second is known as Gårhapatya , the household fire that is
kept constantly burning on an altar, from which all other
fires (such as the kitchen stove, oil lamps, incense, etc.,)
The third is the Åhavan⁄ya or fire into which all the oblations
to God or the gods are offered.1
The fire ceremony practised at any other time of the day
(than sunrise or sunset) is known as homa . Practising homa with
total sincerity is credited with the capacity to burn up negative
karmas, which is why one feels refreshed and energised
It is also known as the Soma Sacrifice, and for important events,
it may be continuous for five up to fourteen days at a stretch.
There are also negative homa rituals following the left-hand
Tantric path, for the purposes of causing ‘death, delusion, discord,
hatred, obstruction and enchantment’ in one’s enemies.2 But
according to the law of cause and effect, the negative karmic
return of such practices is also likely to destroy the perpetrator.
a) “O Fire! Sacred Fire! Purifying Fire! Thou who sleepest in the
wood, and mountest in shining flames on the Altar. Thou art the
heart of sacrifice, the fearless aspiration of prayer, the divine spark
concealed in all things and the glorious Soul of the Sun!”
— Ancient Vedic Hymn
b) The 8th century sage Çhånkåråchårya considered that practising
ågnihotra merely ritualistically, without plunging into meditation,
was far less effective and not to be countenanced. Although in his
gloss on the Brahmas¨tra Bhå‚ya , he concedes: “Even so, the
ågnihotra and other rites are not absolutely useless when they are
not accompanied by meditation… Because [and he here quotes the
B®hådara~yaka Upani‚had, which says] the Çruti [revealed
scripture] declares without distinction, that rites such as the
ågnihotra are means of knowledge.” But he rather castigates ‘mere
ritualists’ (kevalakarmi~aª) who do not meditate, as this means
they will be led only ‘on the Path of the Ancestors’
(Pit®yånamarga) which only returns them once more to worldly life.
a) Resources: See the Website: www.agnihotraindia.com
b) Agnihotra University, P.O. Box 57107, Washington, D.C.20037, USA.
Also: Agnihotra Press, P.O.Box 13, Randallstown, MARYLAND, 2133, USA.
c) Agnihotra: The Healing Fire (Introductory booklet & practice CD)—Muz Murray (Inner Garden
Publication. See Website: www.mantra-yoga.com).
d) Agni Hotra—Fritz Stahls. A huge, expensive and exhaustively researched package of several
e) Agnihotra for Equilibrium for Nature and Enhancement of Human Life—Manohar Potdar.
f) Agnihotra: Scientific Perspective—Col. M. Deshpande and Manohar Potdar.
g) Essence of Vedas—Dr. Shreekant Rajimwale.
h) Agnihotra - Farming Method—Dr. Shreekant Rajimwale
1 Taken from: p.50, Praçnopanishad—Swami Sarvananda (Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore,
2 Aghora II: Kundalini—Robert Svobodha (Rupa & Co. Delhi 1999).
Ågni-Netra (arg-nee net-tra )
Sense: ‘The third eye centre’—situated behind the mid-point
between the two eyebrows.
Ågni Puråna (arg-nee poor-rah-nah)
A scripture of encyclopaedic character, compiled in the ninth
century A.D., and considered to be a spuriousVaishnava work,
containing bits of everything of general interest culled from other
sources. It contains the earlier codes of conduct for kings and the
four castes: Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras and enjoins
Satya—‘that which is conducive for the welfare of all creatures’
both human and animal.
Ågnirasas (ahg-nee-ras-sas )
Sense: ‘Divine Seers or rishis, who assist in the ordering of the
universe’— or demiurges, according to Vedic literature.
The Agnirasas are nine in number, possessing nine ‘cows’ (the
nine rays of illumination). When counted together with the seer
Ayasya they are numbered as ten.
These Vedic Rishis appear to be paralleled in the Tantric
tradition by the nava (nine) nåthas (ascetic sages) who are seen as
the offspring of prakåça — the essential Light; just as the Agnirasas
are sons of the Flame, Agni (the Seer-Will). The nava nåthas also
become ten when joined by the Adi Nåtha (the first great ascetic
guru, Dattatreya ).1
Quotes: a) “The Agnirasas are at once the divine seers who assist in
the cosmic and human workings of the Gods and their earthly
representatives, the ancient fathers who first found the wisdom of
which the Vedic hymns are a chant and memory and renewal in
experience. They are also seers of the truth, finders and speakers of
the word of the Truth and by the power of the Truth they win for us
the wide world if Light and Immortality…” 2
b) “The Agnirasas are waiting still, and always ready to chant the
word, to rend the cavern, to find the lost herds, to recover the
1 Info taken from: On The Veda—Sri Aurobindo.
2 Sri Chakra—S. Narayanayan, p.68-9.
Var: Agnishthoma, aagnistoma
Sense: ‘The Soma juice sacrifice;’ a Vedic and mantric fire ritual
generally lasting five days.
From stoma—a song of praise or chant and agni, fire.
Agochari mudra (ahg-go-chah-ree moo-drah)
Sense: ‘The gesture of invisibility.’ Yogic concentration on the tip
of the nose often utilised together with antar kumbhaka (retention
of the breath inside). Otherwise known as nasikagra drishti.
Considered to effect the siddhi of invisibility.
Sense: ‘Mantras used for destructive purposes, when a practitioner
is charged up by breathing through his right (solar) nostril.’
In Tantric practice these are called ‘hot’ mantras. Mantras of
this type are used for aggressive and destructive purposes.
‘Cold’ mantras are those to be chanted when the air is flowing
through Chandra nadi (or the left nostril). These are known as
saumya (sor-mee-yah) and are used for beneficial purposes.
Sense: ‘In the beginning…’ a word which usually begins a
cosmogonic text, in the same way as ‘Once upon a time…’ used
to begin fairy stories.
It is the locative of agra—‘origin, top,’ or ‘that which
Ågya Chakra (arg-gee-ya chak-ra )
Var: Aagya chakra, åjña chakra, agnyachakra, agyana chakra
Sense: ‘The Centre of Command’ at the third eye centre, or Ajña
These two terms Agya and Ajña are alternative spellings for the
same chakra; but the most current appellation and transliterated
spelling is Ajña Chakra (cf.) even though agya is closer to the
Synon: Ayam, Atma, (YHWH or Jehova),
Sense: ‘“I”— the first person;’— as in the mahavakya, or great
saying, Aham brahman — “I am Brahman.”
It is the I-AM-ness’— of the Omnipresence: the original name of
the Absolute or the plenum, the whole, the endless infinite, in its
recognition of Itself as “I”— as Beingness-Existence-Bliss. The
Universal ‘I AM’ of the Self—or the Omniconsciousness. It is the
‘I’ of the Hebrew scriptural “I AM THAT I AM.” Jehova means
Asmi is ‘I am,’ but in everyday usage, aham (uncapitalised) is
also used as the little ‘I am’ of the embodied self—or the human
being regarded as bodied, together with a sense of ego (better
defined as Ahaμkåra). Atma (Self or soul) considered as a
metaphysical principle relates to the essence of Being, and is
usually distinguished from ahaμkåra as a psychological
Root: Ayam—‘That which exists;’ that which is Self-shining and
The first letter of the Sanskrit alphabet is A, and (in the early
arrangements) ha was the last letter: therefore ‘aha’ includes
everything from beginning to end—or from A to Z as we would
say. Atma—the soul or Self of the universe, refers to the same
thing. The uncapitalised atma is best understood as the individual
soul of each being (although unfortunately it is not always so
differentiated in the texts, which creates more than a little
The subjective feeling of existing in the deeps of one’s being,
even in pitch dark, without needing reference to anything else to
confirm it, is known as Ahaø-sphura~a or aham sphurti (‘the flash
of “I-Consciousness”).’ The unbroken and continuous awareness
of this sphura~a (feeling) is the natural state of the Self-realised
being or jñåni (known as Vritti-Jñåna in Vedanta).
Associating ‘I’ with the body is called ahaø-v®itti .
a) “Bhagavan once explained the deep meaning of the word,
aham. ‘Ah’ is the first syllable in the Sanskrit alphabet and ‘m’ the
last letter. Thus, the single word aham, symbolically encompasses
existence in its entirety.” — Viswanatha Swami. 1
a) Aham asmi—means the same as the “I AM that I AM” of the
b) Aham Brahmasmi—a mantric formula meaning ‘I am Brahman.’
1 Drops from the Ocean—V. Ganesan (Self Published. In private circulation only. Tiruvannamalai.
Ahambhavana (ah-ham-bha-vanna )
Var: Aham-bhavana, aham-bhava
Sense: ‘The feeling ‘I AM’ (pure ‘I-amness’ or ‘Beingness’)—
unrelated to body, name, social statuts, etc. As opposed to asmita—
’I am this , that or the other.’ [cf. p. 13, YT Aug.83]
Var: aham-kåra, ahamkaara, ahankåra, (ahankaar)
Synon: Anava (ego), aniruddha (egoism), chit-jada-granthi
(knot of ego)
Sense: ‘Ego-sense: the awareness of ‘I’ as a limited individual and
Lit. ‘I-Maker.’ That aspect of consciousness in which the
awareness of self-existence, or cognition of Being arises, is the
‘maker’ of the sense of ‘I.’ It is the universal sense of ‘IAmness’
in its deepest sense. This manifestation of Ahaμkåra
is not the awareness of being this or that (e.g., a man or woman,
a father, mother, doctor, student, etc.,) but pure cognition of
Yet even so, this primaryAhamkara is the first awakening of
self-individuation; an awareness of existence as a distinct entity
in its contraction from the oceanic state of Universal being
(known variously as Paramashiva, Shivam or Brahman).
Some Western psychologists conceive this as the sense of
Universal Ego. Ahaμkåra in this pure sense is best capitalised
to distinguish it from its lesser function in secular parlance as
ahaμkåra — or egoic awareness, characterised by selfconsciousness,
self-conceit, selfishness, haughty pride and
Kara is a suffix which, when compounded with a noun or a
preposition, denotes ‘the doing of’ something, or ‘the practice
of’ something. Thus ahaμkåra is the belief in oneself as the
‘doer of actions.’ Without kåra , the aham (or True ‘I’) shines
minus any ego-sense.
Ordinary ahaμkåra is that faculty which discriminates self
from not-self, such as finger from fire: i.e., ‘my’ finger
(regarded as self) and fire (not my self). Thus it protects the
body and the personality from external and potentially
destructive forces. Its function during the years of growth is to
act as an intermediary ‘barrier reflex’ between the inner world
and the outer world. In the first couple of years of life, a child
does not have this faculty. It is in the state of manas (manah) or
‘mind-consciousness’ without any discriminatory faculty.
Therefore is ready to put anything into its mouth. But by around
its third year, it has developed ‘self-consciousness’ — the
discriminatory ‘I-am-the-doer’ consciousness of ahaμkåra, and
now it decides what it will and will not put in its mouth.
The mental processes, by which the psychological function called
ahaμkåra rules the body, are firstly, by its habit of assessing a
situation that relates to self-comfort or self-preservation. It then
reacts by releasing an immediate surge of psychic energy for the
safety or comfort of the body through which it operates. Also,
when desires that are not fulfilled, such as the expectation of food
or sex, the ahaμkåra becomes wasteful of psychic energy by
becoming wrathful or by creating wish-fulfilling daydreams and
sleep-dreams for the imaginary gratification of such desires.
This aspect of ahaμkåra’s functioning is still steeped in the belief
of the reality of the world. Whereas the higher function of
Ahaμkåra is to discriminate between the Real and the unreal, to
overcome the unreality of self-gratificatory daydreams and to
preserve thought processes from any imaginings which keep one
from adhering to the consciousness of the Self. By constant
adherence to the experience of Being, by awareness and intelligent
reasoning, power and control over energy-draining egocentric
thoughts is gained.
Psychologically, ahaμkåra is considered to have three forms
of expression: 1) tamasika ahaμkåra — that is, egoism
expressed through indolence and inertia -‘No, not me, I can’t be
bothered.’ 2) rajasika ahaμkåra — dynamic egoism, expressed
through energetic action in the world — the ‘me, me, me—first!’
evident in the nature of many sportsmen, actors and politicians
and 3) sattvika ahaμkåra — ego expressed through the spiritual
sense of self-interested goodness, in doing worthy actions and
humanitarian work — as in evangelism (with its ‘holier than
thou’ or ‘I know what’s best for you’ style of conceit).
When referred to as chit-jada-granthi , the ego is known as ‘the
knot between consciousness and the inert body’ which of itself
knows nothing. ‘Aham-vritti’ means the ‘the sense of ‘I’ or the
Quotes: a) “The state of ahamkåra is developed out of manah after
careful examination of the activities of manah. Manah is the
primary process of thinking; ahamkåra is the secondary process
which cannot be developed without maturity of the primary
process. Ahamkåra accomplishes what manah is unable to do.
Analysis of subjective and objective worlds is the working
capacity of ahamkåra. Manah cannot separate the subjective world
of the mind from the objective world of physical reality. Thus
ahamkåra inaugurates the world of relativity, stimulates the power
of reasoning, and elaborates perception, memory, thinking, action,
and personality. The perceptual mechanism at the state of
ahamkåra is developed to that state where one perceives the
external and the internal environment with great care and
precision. Ahaμkåra consists of effective thinking by which one is
able to arrive at the truth.” 1
—Ramamurti Mishra M.D.
b) “In your investigation into the Source of aham-vritti , you
take the essential Chit [Eternal Consciousness] aspect of the
ego: and for this reason the inquiry must lead to the realisation
of the pure consciousness of the Self.” 2
c) “If you seek the ego, you will find that it does not exist. That
is the way to destroy it.” —Sri Ramana Maharshi .3
d) Såhaμkåra —the ‘sense of ego’: an awareness of the egoic state.
1The Textbook of Yoga Psychology—Ramamurti S. Mishra M.D. (The Julian Press, Inc.
3 Maharshi’s Gospel—T. N.Venkataraman (Sri Ramanashramam Pub.)
Ahamkaranåçha (aham-kar-rah-nahs-shya )
Var: Ahankara-nasha, ahankara nasha
Sense: ‘Annihilation of the Ego-sense (and mind).’
Aham-sph¨ra~a (ah-ham sphoor-ran-na )
Synon: Ahambhavana, Aham-spurti , Sahaja samadhi, Brahmaloka
Sense: ‘The continuous sense of “I-ness” or “Am-ness” of the state
of Self-Realisation, existing as a subtle pulsation in the deeps of the
heart-centre of the being.’
Aham-sp¨rthi (ah-ham-spoor-tee )
Var: Aham-spurti , Aham-spoorthi,
Synon: Ahambhavana, aham-sphura~a
Sense: ‘The continuous sense of “I-ness’” or “Am-ness” of Self-
Aham Svar¨pa (ah-ham svar-roop-pa )
Var: Aham swaroopa , ahamswaroop,
Sense: ‘One’s true nature; one’s real form or essence’.
Quote: “The individual self is identical with the Supreme Self, and
can attain to perfection by stability of meditation on the
significance of the word Aham.” —Introduction to Para Trimshika.
Sense: ‘Being turned towards the Self’— the mental condition in
which there is complete withdrawal from sense objects
(regarded as the dream of existence) and contentless
Consciousness manifests itself, in which one experiences the
Absolute (although strictly speaking, there is then no one left to
However, in his commentary on the Upanishads, Shankaracharya
gives it a more esoteric meaning, stating: “That which is gathered
in is Åhåra . The knowledge of the sensations, such as sound, etc.,
is gathered in for the enjoyment of the enjoyer (self); the
purification the knowledge that gathers in the perception of the
senses is the ‘purifying-of-the-food.’ Åhåra in this case, cognising
all sensations and feelings, without being affected by attachment,
aversion or delusion.
Sense: ‘Struck sound’: that is, any sound produced by an
instrument or voice, carried through the air by audible vibrations.
As opposed to anahata or ‘unstruck sound’ such as the fine
and subtle ringing tone of the primordial sound of creation (heard
interiorly by yogis) or the ‘music of the spheres’ as heard by clairaudient
Var: Ahimsaa, (ahinsa, ahinsaa),
Sense: ‘Non-injury—either by word, thought or deed': the
attitude of heart and mind in which one has no desire to harm
any living (or non-embodied) being or creature, plant or
environment, either by action, thought or speech. It is the total
absence of ill will at all times and in all circumstances.
Root: Ahimsa consists of two words 'a'—not + hims (or han—
‘to hurt’) killing or injury. Some derive the term himsa from
simha—lion. The nature of a lion is to attack, to offend, or
injure. Hence a-hi means ‘no offense’ or non-aggressivity in
Ahimsa is the first of the Yamas or injunctions for a
spiritual aspirant, according to the sage Patanjali’s system,
although it was not a prominent sentiment in the Vedic
tradtion and was hardly mentioned in the later Upanishads,
being an idea mostly promoted by Jains and Buddhists. It
was spoken of in the Agni Purana and in the Padma Purana
and declared to be the dharma (code) without equal.
Followers of Vishnu the Preserver are supposed to
strictly follow the code of ahimsa.
Once, when the yogi Paramahansa Yogananda was sitting
with his guru Sri Yukteswar, a fly alighted on his arm. He
was about to swat it, raising his hand in annoyance, when he
suddenly thought better of it. His guru told him that he might
as well have carried the action through, since he had already
mentally killed the fly in the astral.
Those who practice non-injury are called Ahimsakas .
a) “Himsa is classified in three divisions:
1) Physical, by body and instruments, including war.
2) Vocal, by speaking against others, including
3) Mental, by thinking against others.
“Himsa is to act against, to speak against, or to think
against oneself or others. To injure oneself or others in any
form is himsa. It includes the use of narcotics and other
substances injurious to body tissue. Abstention from all
types of injury is called ahimsa.
This term is used without adjective; it includes every type
of injury because it is used in a broad sense...
“Destruction and injury need planning. This planning is
done by one’s own mind. One cannot inflict injury on others
without first injuring oneself by those ideas. By injurious
thoughts one’s mind is poisoned and its growth is blocked.
Consequently various mental and physical diseases ensue.
Whether others are injured or not depends on their destiny,
but the mind of a man who has injurious thoughts is
definitely injured and poisoned. This is an eternal
psychological fact... A tremendous amount of psychic
energy is misutilised by destructive forces against the
physiogenic forces of the body. Consequently, physical and
mental disorders follow.
“…One cannot injure others without first injuring oneself
because injury is the result of psychological planning. Vocal
injury is more serious than physical, and mental injury is the
most serious. By physical injury one can destroy only
physical forms. By vocal injury one can destroy both
physical and mental forms. By mental injury one can destroy
even the form of spirit. Consequently one will go to lower
b) “The test of Ahimsa is absence of jealousy. Any man may do
a good deed or make a good gift on the spur of the moment, or
under pressure of some superstition or priestcraft; but the real
lover of mankind is he who is jealous of none.” 2
c) “Non-killing is only a crude conception of ahimsa ; for it
is much more than that. The real ahimsa is not to injure the
feelings of others, nor to injure oneself.”
‘How can we injure our own feelings or harm ourselves?’
“You injure your own feelings by creating habits. If, for
instance, you are addicted to drinking tea, and you cannot
get it, you suffer don’t you? So your feelings are injured by
the created habit. Never, never toinjure the feelings of
anybody and never to create habits is the real ahimsa. By
creating habits we imprison ourselves; imprisonment is
limitation. And limitation is suffering.”3
1The Textbook of Yoga Psychology—Dr. Ramamurti S. Mishra. (Julian/Doubleday press,
USA.) pp 204-5
2 Bhakti Yoga—Swami Vivekananda (Advaita Ashram, Almora, Himalayas. 1964)
The Chasm of Fire—Irena Tweedie (Element Books, UK, 1979). ISBN: 0-90654001-1
Ahooti (ah-hoo-tee )
Var: Ahuti, ah¨ti
Sense: ‘Offerings to the fire.’
Aimavinigraha (I-mah-vin-nig-rah-ha )
Sense: ‘Self-restraint; mastery over the mind.’
This is the condition in which you are clear and deliberate in
your thinking, without being misled by the vagaries of your own
Aitareya Upani‚had (I-it-trey-yah Oo-pannish-shad)
This is a text from the Aitareya Åra~yaka section of the
¸ig-Veda. Although it is written in the form of a discussion
between the guru and disciple, neither the name of the Seerauthor,
nor that of the disciple to whom he is speaking, is given
For those unable to grasp the reality of spontaneous creation,
the scripture offers to tell how the Absolute manifested the
universe in a structured manner. It expresses how the Self
within the individual cannot grasp the Supreme by any of the
senses, yet is truly unable to experience anything but the
Aja (ajja )
Lit. ‘Without birth: not born’— existing from all eternity; the name
of the Uncreated Being. The name of prakriti—primordial nature,
maya — or illusion, that from which emerged Brahma, Shiva,
Vishnu and Kama.
Ajapå Japa (ah-jappah-japah)
Var: ajapaajapa , ajapa jaap, ajapa jap,
Synon: So’ham, Hamsah, Sahaja japa
Sense: ‘The natural and automatic repetition of the breath as
Generally taken to be the repetition of the Hamsa or Soham
mantram, “I am That” or “I am He,” which follows the flow of the
inward breath (so) and the outward breath (ham).
Esoterically, it is the recognition of the ‘I AM’ of Being which
makes itself known even without breath, but manifests itself
through bodies in the involuntary inward and outward flow of the
breath. Knowing this aspect of the Self and attuning one’s thoughtflow
upon it is true ajapa .
It is also known as sahaja (natural) japa (repetition).
1) Mechanics of Meditation and Dynamics of Yoga — Swami Satyananda Saraswati (Bihar School of
Sense: ‘Non-creation’— the philosophical standpoint or experience
of Realised beings, that there has never been any creation of the
world or of the beings in it, but that all is mere appearance; in the
same way as people and buildings appear in a dream, who have not
been ‘created’ except in imagination.
Var: Ajati-vada, ajaati, ajåti, ajaata, ajata
Sense: ‘The doctrine of non-creation’ — the contention of the
Realised being (jñåni) that nothing has ever come into being or
happened, and all seeming ‘history’ is only the Atman appearing as
‘I Am.’ There is no creation and never has been, since what appears
to the unrealised soul as the world, is only the reflection or
spontaneous ‘dream of God.’
Such is the final assertion of the Vedas.
Åjñå Chakra (arj-nyah chak-ra )
Var: Ajna cakra, aajnaachakra, agyna, agyana chakra, (argya),
Synon: Bråhmire g¨hå (Cave of Brahman), Br¨madhya,
Chashm-i-batin (Muslim), Divya chakshu (third eye), Guru
chakra, gyåna netra, jñåna-netra, nukta-i-sewda, Shiv netar
(Sikh) or Shiva netra, Tisra Til, Trikuti, Triveni
Sense: ‘Command Centre’—the sixth psychic nerve centre of the
subtle body, located between and slightly above, the junction of the
In esoteric terms, it is the intuitive receptive area of the pineal
gland or ‘Third Eye’. It is often called ‘Guru chakra ’ as it is
considered the gland through which the guru psychically
communicates with his disciples. However, some yogic texts place
a higher energy vortex named guru chakra at the upper level of the
brain just below the skull and not in the mid-brain section.
Medically, ajna chakra corresponds to the naso-ciliary extension
of the cavernous plexus of the sympathetic, or subcortical area. (cf.
a) “The best sadhak, who continuously meditates on this lotus
[chakra], can quickly enter another’s body, think perfectly and
attain omniscience. He becomes an expert on the scriptures and
a benefactor to all. He sees the oneness of Brahaman and
acquires many siddhis [psychic powers]. He can become the
master of creation, preservation and destruction.” 1
c) However, this practice can make one ‘heady’ (that is, overintellectual
or brain-bound) and susceptible to the
aggrandisement of the sense-of-ego. We are cautioned:
“Meditation with the eyes fixed on the space between the
eyebrows, the Sage*warns us, may result in fear. The right way
is to fix the mind on the Self alone.” 2
a) Sure Ways to Self Realization—Swami Satyananda Saraswati (Bihar, 1980) cf. p.153.
b) Ajna Chakra—Swami Nityabodhananda Saraswati (Bihar School of Yoga, 1973)
c) Shat Chakra Nir¨pana (ancient tantric text).
1 Ajna Chakra—Swami Nityabodhananda Saraswati (Bihar School of Yoga, 1973)
2 Maha Yoga—“Who” - K. Lakshmarna Sarma. (Pub. Sri Ramanashramam, Tiruvannamalai, 1937-
2002). ISBN: 81-88018-20-1
* Refers to Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi
Var: ajnaana, åjñåna, agnaana (ajñaan)
Sense: ‘Non-wise, non-wisdom; ignorance, nescience:’ that kind of
knowledge (considered as ignorance by jñåna yogis) which takes
the separative diversity of the world as the reality; as opposed to
jñåna (wisdom) being knowledge of the world through
understanding the underlying unificatory factor of all things.
Hence an ajnani is one who has not realised to the Self, and
therefore an ignorant person.
a) According to Sri Aurobindo’s own specific usage: ‘Perception
by the receptive and central Will, implying a command from the
brain; a dwelling of the consciousness on an image of things so as
to govern and possess it in form.’
Ajñåni (ahj-nee-yaa-nee )
Sense: ‘An ignorant or non-liberated person.’ (See Ajñåna and
Sense: ‘The undivided Existence-Knowledge-Bliss:’ the
attributes of the Absolute.
Sense: ‘Non-karma’— the absence of psychological bondage
resulting from actions done without attachment. (See Karma for
Sense: ‘Non-doer:’ someone who is egoless and does not see
themselves as the originator of their spontaneous actions.
Opposed to karta, a ‘doer,’ being someone who is involved in the
activities of life. The Self (Brahman, the Absolute) is seen as a nondoer,
and therefore anyone who is absorbed in the Self, is
automatically akart® or a-karta, beyond the identification of
Åkåçha (Ah-kah-shya )
Var: Akasha, aakaasa, åkåça , åkåçaª, akas
Synon: alaya, (Tib. nam-mkah)
Sense: ‘Radiant ether — the primordial subtle substance of
In this instance, the preposition ‘å’ means ‘to’ , while kasha , is
‘appearance’ or ‘the expanse of vacuity (emptiness).’ It is also
variously used to indicate air, sky, space and the atmosphere, as
well as the primordial ether. As it is all penetrating and infinite,
it is therefore frequently identified with Brahman.
The fifth element-principle of space is known as åkåçha- tattva
(subtle essence or principle) — ether, or aether.
Yoga physics determine three forms of space. The subtlest is
known as paramåkåsha — the ‘absolute ether’ or ‘That which is
Brahman’— the Absolute itself. The second form is chid-åkåsha
—the space that Consciousness occupies. The terms space, sky
and consciousness, are all used to express the ether at this level.
The densest form of ether is called bh¨tåkåsha — the threedimensional
space in which the five gross elements exist.
Quotes: a) “Everything that we see around us, feel, touch, taste,
is simply a differentiated manifestation of this Akasha. It is all
pervading, fine. All that we call solids, liquids, or gases,
figures, forms, or bodies, the eartrh, sun, moon, and stars —
everything is composed of this Akasha.”— Swami
Other: a) Medically: it is the subarachnoid space which surrounds
the brain and spinal cord. b) Also a ‘state of mind in which all
mental waves are emptied and radiant ether shines forth’.
c) Akasha -mandala — the region of ether.
Bib: a) Science & The Akashic Field:An Integral Theory of Everything—Ervin Laszlo (Inner
1Jñåna-Yoga —Vivekananda (Advaita Ashrama, Calcutta, 1964).
Åkåçha Lingam (Ah-kah-shya lin-gam)
Var: Aakaasha-lingam, akasa lingham
Sense: ‘An invisible Shiva column composed of empty space.’
Instead of a statue of a deity, a temple may house an‘åkåçha
lingam,’ or an empty space, symbolising vast expansion of
Sense: ‘Constant’— the continual practice of something without
breaks, i.e. Akhand Mantra — continuous chanting, or Akhand
Homa —practice of the fire-ceremony over a long period.
Akhandakara vritti (ah-kan-dah-kar-rah vrit-tee )
Synon: Aham sphurana (effulgence of ‘I-ness’),
Sense: ‘Constant unbroken consciousness’— the condition of
the enlightened being, in which his consciousness is constantly
free of thoughts, like the clear blue sky free of clouds.
Sense: ‘An ascetic regiment.’
Lit: ‘Training ground: to train in arms.’
a) An åkhårå is an organisation or ‘regiment’ of Shaivite ascetics of
a militant style, bearing arms for repelling foreign invaders. They
developed as early as 856 AD in defence against repeated
incursions into their country, especially against the later aggressive
Muslim invaders from around 1200 AD. Some Åkhårås claim their
organisations stem from Adi Shankara. Many of the warrior
ascetics were (and still are) from the ranks of the naked and fearless
Någå babas . Such ascetics who play a militant role are known as
The are seven main Åkhårås, in order of foundation are:- 1)
Ånanda Åkhårå, 2) Niranjan⁄ Åkhårå, 3) Junå Åkhårå, 4) Åvåhan
Åkhårå, 5) Atal Åkhårå, 6) Nirvån⁄ Åkhårå, and the latest (1482
AD) the Agni Åkhårå, which did not achieve equal status with the
other Åkhårås until 1971, when it was officially accepted.
b) In periods of peace the Någå ascetics especially, concentrate on
intense spiritual practices and thus another sense of åkhårå has
come to mean ‘a place of great austerities.’
Sense: ‘A non-person’ or ‘a non-doer’— i.e., one liberated while
alive, since he no longer identifies with what is done through his
body. Karta — a doer.
Ak‚ara — see Ak‚hara
Var: Ak‚ara, akshara,
Sense: ‘Imperishable, immutable, Eternal Spirit, Supreme
This is the highest samadhi state where matter and spirit are
blended and one enters into a condition called Brahmå~∂a (‘the
Cosmic Egg’ of Brahma) the plane of the highest frequency.
Ak‚hara is ‘the attributless nature of Brahman’ (acc.
Its opposite is K‚hara, the condition of the seeker before
realisation, when Spirit and matter are still acting together in
combination in the ever-changing physical universe.
a) Ak‚hara is also a syllable, the most transcendent of all syllables,
namely the ak‚hara Brahman—the Imperishable, Eternal Spirit
manifested in the eternal sound of Om.
“He who knows not the Veda’s eternal Syllable,
that highest point on which dwell all the Gods,
what has he to do with the Veda? Only those
who know it sit here in peaceful assembly.” 1
1 Verse 39 from the Våco Bhågam portion of the Rg Veda 1, 164. Quoted in The Vedic Experience -
Mantramanjari: An Anthology of the Vedas for Modern Man—Dr. Raimundo Panikkar (All India
Books, Pondicherry. 1997/1989)
Var: Ak‚aropåsaka , aksaropaasaka
Sense: ‘One who meditates on the Imperishable.’
Çhånkåråchårya equates the word with the condition of someone
already established in the Self, and therefore it is not a matter of
‘meditation’ but more of ‘abidance in Brahman.’
Alambana (al-lam-banna )
Sense: ‘An object or support of mental focus in meditational
practice, such as a mantra, a sound, a light, a deity, a guru’s image,
Sense: Abode, dwelling place, receptacle, store.
In the name Him-alaya, it means ‘receptacle’ or ‘abode of the
Other: a) Ålaya vijnana means ‘receptacle of consciousness’ or
knowledge. b) In secret Tibetan teachings, ålaya is also used for
what might be termed ‘nodal points in space’ (such as those
through which waveforms pass); except that these ‘nodes’ are
‘receptacles’ for the ‘energy-seeds’ thrown out endlessly by the
universe. These energy-seeds may be mental thought-forms, mental
habits, memories and any other psychic activity or physical
formation which causes or encourages the repetition of material or
mental activities which have occurred previously (samskåras in
Sanskrit). These nodal points (otherwise known as storage centres
for the Åkåçhic records) are continually absorbing these ‘energies’
and continually dispensing others, at the moment when the right
conditions for their manifestation occur, much as when a plant seed
bursts into life when placed in the right soil and climate and
temperature for it’s manifestation.
Aloki (ah-loh-kee )
Sense: ‘Transcending the world; going beyond worldly
consciousness’— the state of a jnåni or self-realised being.
Loka—world. Loki—worldly concerns.
Alwars (al-warz )
Var: alvars, azhwars
Sense: ‘A sect of sadhus who have taken vows never to stand
still, day or night, as a spiritual practice.’
Some practitioners lean on swings during the night. They
wear bells on their ankles and around their waists and shuffle
their feet even when lightly sleeping.
a) The original Alwars were enlightened ancient Vaisnavite
saints who wrote poems and sang devotional songs to Vishnu.
Many worshipped at the shrine of Sri Venkateshwara (whom
they regarded as Vishnu) at Tirumalai in Andhra Pradesh.
Three of the most famous sages were Poyagi Alwar, Bhutam
Alwar and Pey Alwar.
Ama (a-ma )
Sense: ‘A humour, or toxified condition in the body’— a term
in ayurvedic medicine.
It is an internal condition brought about by incorrect food
combinations and poor elimination. Some literal meanings
include:- ‘raw, not fully cooked, immature and undigested.’
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Ama Kala (ah-mah kah-lah)
Sense: ‘The receptacle of lunar nectar’—a gland in the head,
situated above the soft palate and housing the amrita or soma
(the lunar nectar).
Kechari Siddhi—the stimulation of this centre, with a
lengthened tongue, reaching up behind the unvula, causes the
nectar to flow downwards abundantly and saturate the entire
body with supreme bliss. It also confers a divine body free from
aging and corruption.
Amba (am-ba )
Holy Mother (one of the names of Durga).
Var: Ma, amman, ammachi, ammaji,
Sense: ‘Revered Mother’— or the feminine principle.
Amma = (Uma, consort of Shiva) = Chit-Shakti the dynamic
aspect of ‘An’ or Shiva’s Wisdom, represented as an upward
pointing triangle, whereas Shiva is represented by a downwardpointing
triangle, indicating Consciousness.
Amma is also a suffix in the Tamil language to denote the
feminine in the case of goddesses, as in Mariamma. And ammachi
is a Southern Indian term of respect for Mother. Ma is also used
colloquially as ‘mother’ to any woman over the age of puberty.
Amitabha (am-mi-ta-bha )
Sense: ‘The Buddha of infinite life and light.’
He is the central figure in the Pure Land sect of Buddhism.
(Japanese: Amida ).
Sense: a) ‘The Vedas.’ b) ‘Usage, tradition, or Sampradaya.’
Am®atatva is considered as achievable only by following the
canonically prescribed orthodox practices, duties, rituals,
contemplation of Om (the sound and symbol) and meditation.
Am®ita (or Amrit) (am-rree-tah)
Var: Am®ta, amrit, am®tam, amruta, (amatam: Buddhism)
Synon: moksha, anandam
Sense: ‘Nectar of Immortality’— in yogic terms; but as an adjective
it means ‘Immortal or deathless.’
Root: amar — deathlessness, and m®ita — death. A-m®it means ‘notdeath’
or ‘non-dying’— deathless: thus it is also known as moksha
or final liberation, since one who has become Realised knows that
‘death’ is non-existent.
In Puranic tales, am®ita or am®tam, is generally translated as
nectar or ambrosia—a legendary drink that was obtained from the
‘ocean of milk,’which could transform mortals into immortals.
Thus people imagine that am®tam is a sort of sweet elixir.
However, esoterically and physiologically, the ‘ocean of milk’ is
the cerebro-spinal fluid in which the brain floats. And it is a
secretion that forms in the brain during advanced stages of spiritual
development that brings about immortality.
“The point from which the nectar emanates is known as bindu.
Bindu means ‘drop’ and its location is at the junction point of the
anterior and superior brain. It is exactly at that point where the
Aryans used to keep a tuft of hair, [as Krishna Conscious devotees
do today]. It is from bindu, this cranial passage that this drop
comes. The cranial passage is like a very small piece of grass and it
has a depression, within which there is a tiny amount of fluid.
“It is that particular drop of fluid which is known as amrita in
yoga. Therefore, in tantra, the name of this centre is ‘binduvisarga’.
Bindu means ‘drop’ and visarga means ‘falling’. So
bindu-visarga is the centre from which this drop of nectar falls.”1
a) “Verily when one finishes a ®g [a mantric hymn] he sounds
out AUM; similarly a såman [prayer], similarly a yajus
[sacrifice]. This sound is the svara [the tone of the Om]. It is
am®tam and abhayam [freedom from fear]. By taking refuge in
it the gods became immortal and fearless.” 2
In this instance, amrit is identified with the effect of sounding
the mystic syllable Om in consciousness.
Other: a) Knowledge is said to be amrita, and as the arts are
considered to be creativity arising out of knowledge, art is also
called Amrita .
1 Swami Satyananda Saraswati, p.16 —Yoga Today magazine (Sept/1985)
2 Chåndogya Upani‚had, 1.4.4.
Am®itanådi (am-ree-tah-nar-dee )
Var: Amrita-nadi, amritanad
Synon: Atmanadi, Brahmanadi, Jivanadi, Mukhya Prana Nadi,
Sense: ‘The secret psychic nerve-current flowing from the spiritual
heart-centre up to sahaçhrara chakra and back down to the heart-ofthe-
Without the return descent of kundalini energy to the heart
centre, illumined beings remain only intellectually realised, but not
spiritually realised in the Self.
Am®tam — see Am®ita
Sense: ‘A being manifested as a portion of a god.’
Prince Arjuna was considered to be an ‘amça ’ or essential portion
of the god Indra and Vasudeva was a portion of Vishnu.
An, or Anu (ahn or ahn-noo)
Sense: a) ‘Atomic forces and atoms.’ b) An epithet of Shiva.
Anabhidhyå — (see in Soucha, Quote a)
Anabhisvanågri (an-na-bhis-van-naar-gree )
Sense: ‘An attitude of caring for children, wife, house, etc.,
without being attached to them.’
All these do require a certain amount of care, but the correct
attitude is to be aware that you do not own them. If you appreciate
the fact that you only possess them temporarily, you will take good
care of them. If a friend entrusts you with her car, you take better
care of it than you do of your own. Think of yourself not as the
owner, but as the managing trustee of your family or home and
even of your physical body. Freedom from ownership is asakii; the
resultant attitude of caring without attachment is anabhisvanågri.
Anagata (an-nah-gatta )
Anahad Nada — see Anåhata chakra
Anåhata chakra (an-arh-hatta chak-rah)
Var: anaahatacakra, anhad, anåhat, anahata,
Sense: ‘The Heart Chakra ’—the mystic ‘wheel’ or ‘lotus’ of
psychic nerve forces emanating from the dorsal vertebrae and
creating a vortex-like vibrational field at the centre of the chest.
Lit. An-åhata or — ‘unstruck’; that place in the body from which
resounds the mystic sound known variously as ‘Shabda,’ ‘Pranava’
Anahad or Anahat Nada—which was created from no material
cause, such as an instrument, and so is therefore ‘unstruck’.
This chakra is said to have twelve ‘spokes’ or ‘petals’ (radial
energy segments) according to psychics and yogis and is associated
with the Cardiac Plexus. (cf. Chakras).
Anami (an-a-mee )
Sense: ‘The Nameless Absolute: That which is behind the entire
creation and is its causeless cause.’
“As the ocean of Pure Consciousness heaved, the Formless
and Nameless Absolute came into expression, in many different
forms with many different names, by the Power of Its own
heaving vibrations; the Sound whereof came to be called the
Holy Word.” 1
1 The Mystery of Death, Kirpal Singh (Thakar Kirpal Adhyatmic Kender, New
Var: ananda, aananda, anandam, (anantam),
Sense: ‘A condition of ultimate Reality and Divine Bliss,
spiritual ecstasy, mystic joy, delight of the spirit.’
A = to, combined with nand, is to rejoice, to be pleased or
blissful. It is that bliss which comprises the three states of sukha—
happiness, santosh—serene contentment and shanti—inner peace,
resulting from the performance of the moral, bodily and spiritual
Such definitions of ananda as the above are those in general
acceptance of it’s meaning generally defined as ‘bliss.’ However, in
the ultimate conception of the Absolute as Sat-Chit-Ananda (Truth
of Existence-Consciousness-Bliss), the ‘bliss’ aspect here is
something of a misnomer, as we generally tend to think of bliss as
some sort of ecstatic experience. This kind of blissful phenomenon
may occur on the way to Realisation, and is often mistaken for
Realisation itself. But when true Self-Realisation occurs, there is no
longer any personalised individual left to experience ecstasy.
Without an experiencer, there remains only the Awareness of what
is —the unalloyed peace of the Self. And it is that ‘mindless’ peace
which is alluded to as ‘blissful,’rather than to the feeling of bliss
Åna~damåya (aah-nan-dah-mai-ya )
Var: Anandamaya, aananda-maya, ananda-maya, anandamayah
Sense: ‘Full of bliss’— the causal måyå [or illusory quality] of the
Primal Awareness, reflected as the Consciousness of the universe
and thus is also omniscience.
Some scriptures declare that åna~damåya is Ûçhvara.
Åna~damåyah is also the name for deep sleep, since one is in an
unknowingly blissful state when no dreams occur and no thought
processes are occurring.
Var: Anandamåyakoçha, ananda-måya-koçha, (anandamayakosh)
Synon: Kåra~a çhar⁄ra
Sense: ‘The sheath of bliss.’
Although this ‘field’ of experience is considered to be blissful,
it is actually a state of nescience, or ignorance, just as when in the
state of deep sleep or trance one is blissful but knows nothing and
is totally unaware of anything. Because this is a pleasurable state it
is known as ananda (bliss).
It is also taken to be the faculty of Buddhi —the higher form of
intellect in the condition of ‘enveloping’ the being in a state of
Sense: ‘Infinitude, limitlessness, endlessness.’
Hence: Ananta is another name for Sheshsa the Lord God of the
serpent world; the serpent with its tail in its mouth having been a
symbol for endlessness and consciousness in many cultures since
time out of mind.
Sense: ‘Unlimited, Infinite.’
Anåçhakti (arn-narh-shyak-tee )
Var: anaashakti, anaaçakti, anåsakti
Sense: ‘Detachment — as the polar opposite to ashakti—
attachment’. The philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita revolves
around the reconciliation of the ashakti-anashakti condition of
personal consciousness, by the cultivation of bhavana (cf .)
Anåshakti Yoga (anaasaktiyoga ) is therefore the development of
non-attachment and dispassion (vairagya cf .) and the rejection of
powers and enjoyments in order to attain God-Realisation.
Sense: ‘The state of being outside the four ashramas, or prescribed
stages of life, as laid down in the Laws of Manu and the Hindu
For example, a widower who has no desire to marry again on the
death of his wife, nor wishes to become a vanaprastha or forest
dweller. To the orthodoxy this is an unthinkable condition for
anyone other than a Sage who has transcended the rules, as it goes
against the whole structure of the ancient codes of Indo-Aryan
society. However, nowadays this condition is becoming more the
rule than the exception as the old prohibitions and outmoded codes
are agonisingly slowly being transcended in favour of a more
humane and modern outlook.
Sense: ‘Non-self’: that which is not the ‘soul’ or real Self.
Anåtma tattvas (an-art-ma tatt-vahz )
Synon: Anaatma tattwas
Sense: ‘The essential truths or categories of everything that is
other than the Self.’ An-Åtma = ‘not of the Self.’
Sense: ‘The not-Self’ — or the deludedly separate individual,
equated with chidåbåsa [the reflected consciousness of Ûçhvara
(Cosmic Mind, God, Brahman) in the mindstuff of the seeming
Lit. ‘No Åtma’—the doctrine of the non-existence of soul, as
propounded by the Mådhyamika sect of Buddhism.
Anava (ego) — see Ahaμkåra
Anavasthå (anna-vash-thaa )
Synon: Regressus ad infinitum
Sense: ‘Infinite regression:’ as in the example of philosophical
conundrums such as ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg?’
There had to be a chicken to lay the first egg, but the chicken itself
must have come from an egg, which presupposes a previous
chicken and a previous egg, and so on ad infinitum.
Sense: ‘Egg-born’— that which is born from an egg.
Var: Aneka-jeeva-vaada, anekajivavada
Sense: ‘Belief in the plurality of souls or embodied beings’— in
contradistinction to eka-j⁄va-våda (the contention that there is
only one single j⁄va (or embodied soul) in existence; all other
people being as unreal as those seen in a dream.
Advaitins (followers of Advaita philosophy) who believe in
the concept of many souls are known as aneka-j⁄va-vådins.
Sense: ‘The location of consciousness in various parts of the
body, by mental projection or awareness from within.’
Anga Pradakshina (an-gah prad-dak-shin-na )
Sense: ‘The circling of a holy hill or shrine, by rolling the body
along the ground, or making full length prostrations at every
This ascetic custom has been in vogue for many centuries.
Some devotees prefer to roll a coconut along the ground and
where it stops, they make a full-length prone prostration with
their arms stretched out in front of them.
Å~giras (ahn-jeer-ras )
Sense: ‘The vital force.’
Other: a) A class of semi-divine beings (in Greek, angelos ), related
to Agni (who is sometimes referred to as Å~girasa ), to whom many
of the hymns of the Rig Veda are attributed. Like Christian angels,
they are the mediators between humanity and the Gods.
Anhad Nada (see Anahata)
Sense: ‘Homeless, without a dwelling place.’
Opposite to nilaya—abode, dwelling, resting-place.
Anima (a-nimma )
Sense: ‘Subtlety’—the power of making the body subtle; that is, the
ability to reduce the mass and density of the body at will.
One of the siddhis, or psychic powers.
Animesh preksha (anni-mesh prek-shah)
Sense: ‘Gazing steadily at an object.’
Animishadristhi (an-ni-mish-sha-drish-tee )
Var: Animisha drsti, Animsiha Yoga.
Synon: Shiva Yoga, Piyusha Yoga, Prachina Yoga
Sense: ‘Unblinking gaze’. The practice of tratakam or
concentrated gaze on a Shiva linga’— or a small indigo-coloured
stone in the palm of the hand: a miniture replica of the cosmic
symbol known as linga. The secret name for this practice is
animishadrshti as propagated by the Lingayats (‘lingacontemplating
saints’) of 12th century India. It is otherwise known
as Shiva Yoga, Piyusha Yoga or Prachina Yoga and is still
Synon: Ahaμkåra, chit-jada-granthi (knot of ego),
Sense: ‘Sprout or sprouting.’
Esoterically, the sprouting of the notion of being—“I-am-ness,”
which then attaches itself to the sense-of-ego, from which
identification all problems sprout.
Anna (anna )
Sense: ‘Matter, or food.’
Lit. ‘Annam is that which will nourish you or that which will eat
you!’ — T.K.V. Desikachar , 1 indicating that some things we take
into our bodies may work to our detriment rather than nourishing
Some schools of thought take this concept to extremes, as Swami
Vivekananda laments: “The beginner, therefore must pay particular
attention to all such dietetic rules as have come down from the line
of his accredited teachers; but the extravagant, meaningless
fanaticism, which has driven religion to the kitchen, as may be
noticed in the case of many of our sects, without any hope of the
noble truth of that religion ever coming out to the sunlight of
spirituality, is a peculiar sort of pure simple materialism. It is
neither Jñåna, nor Bhakti, nor Karma; it is a special kind of lunacy,
and those who pin their souls to it are more likely to go to lunatic
asylums than to Brahmaloka.” 2
Other: a) Anna also means ‘grain’—representing food in general.
1 Viniyoga Britain Newsletter (No.3 Spring/Summer 1999).
2 Bhakti Yoga—Swami Vivekananda (Advaita Ashram, Almora, Himalayas.1964)
Annamalai (ann-nam-mal-lai )
Synon: Arunachala, Arunachalam, Arunagiri
Sense: ‘The Tamil name for the Holy Mountain of
Lit. ‘insurmountable, or inaccessible;’ with the prefix thiru or tiru
This was the original name for the holy hill of Arunachala, at
Tiruvannamali, Tamil Nadu, and the southern abode of Shiva,
symbolising the True Self. The word ‘Annal ’ is one of Shiva’s
epithets. Gradually the name became Arunachala from aruna –
‘rose pink of the dawn’ and chala – ‘immovable.’ In Sanskrit it is
also called Arunagiri – Rose or Red mountain.
Annamaya koçha (anna-mai-yah koh-shah)
Var: annamayakoça, (Annakosh, Ann-mai kosh);
Sense: ‘The ‘sheath of food’— otherwise known as the physical
body. The grossest of several ‘layers’ or ‘bodies’ which compose
the complex body of man (Vedic ). From annam — matter or food.
Kosha — a treasure-place, sheath or wrapping.
Var: Annapurna, Annapoorna, Annaporrnaa
Synon: Kåli, Chåmundå
Sense: ‘The Goddess Kåli in her aspect as nourisher.’
Other: A famous mountain in Nepal.
Annica (an-nik-ka or annikka )
Sense: ‘The transience of life and all its attributes.’ (Buddhist)
Anilaya (a-nil-lai-ya )
Sense: ‘Homeless; without dwelling, abode or resting place.’
As opposed to nilaya — ‘abode, resting place, dwelling.’
An®ta (an-rrt-ta )
Var: An®ita, anrta
Sense: ‘Unrighteousness, wrongness, falsity.’
As opposed to ®ta — order, correctness, truth, morality.
Vedic hymns give the god Varuna and his watchmen the duty of
noting down the sins of men and punisheing them for their
transgressions. Hence, many mantras of the Rig Veda are in
supplication to Varuna for his forgiveness and leniency.
Sense: ‘End, termination or final aim (goal).’
Sense: ‘Final dissolution’—at the onset of the ‘Cosmic night of
Creation’ when the Creator is ‘asleep’ and when all manifestations
are resolved back into a state of latency.
Other: a) Also more loosely used as the ‘final hour’ of life. Krishna
in the Gita says we must remember him at the ‘end-time’ of our
lives or moment of death.
Antaªkåra~a (an-tah-karh-ranna )
Var: antar karana, antah-karanam, antahkarana , antah-kaarana ,
Sense: ‘The inner organ, or instrument — otherwise known as
the ‘mind’; the instrument of the Self, or that agency which
operates between the Higher and Lower self.’
The antahkarana (a Vedantic term) is called the composite
fourfold mind, composed of ahamkara (ego), manas (‘mind’— or
the faculty of thinking), buddhi (higher and lower intellect) and
chitta (the storehouse of the subconscious). In terms of the body,
arms and legs are called bahyakaranas , or outer instruments, while
senses and mind are thought of as antahkaranas or inner
Antar or antah — means internal, interspace, middle, within,
between. And karana—the ‘intermediate instrument’ (that is, a
mental function in operation), comes from kar— to do or make, or
kri—to do, to act.
Antahkårana-visista-caitanyam (an-tah-karh-ranna vish-shish-tahchai-
Var: antarkarana -visishta-chaitanyam
Sense: ‘The internal organ (mind) qualified by Consciousness:’ that
is, that Consciousness which is the substratum of the universe,
reflected in the medium known as chittam or ‘mindstuff’ creating a
blend of consciousness between the two.
Var: antar (in northern India version), anthara
Sense: ‘Within, interior, inner, intimate, near.’
Anthara Vichara is ‘Inner Questing,’ or deep enquiry into
the source of the ‘I’ sense, leading to realisation of the Self.
Other: In some usage, antara can also mean‘different from,’ or
Var: antar-åtman, antaraatman,
Sense: ‘The inner self:’ the individual soul as opposed to the
Paramåtman or Universal Soul.
Antar dhanam (ant-tah-dhar-nam)
Sense: ‘Disappearance;’ making the body invisible by yogic
Antariksha (an-tah-rik-sha )
Sense: ‘The “dimension in-between”— the airy space between
heaven and earth, or “the realm of the ancestors” (the spirits of
those who have died).’ Also used to denote the atmosphere or
Antar mounam (an-tah moo-nam)
‘Inner silence’ (cf. pp. 78-84 SWTSR6 for details)*
Antarmukhadrishti (an-tar-muk-hah-drish-tee )
Sense: ‘Introversion; inward looking’
Antar nirvikalpa samådhi (an-tah-neer-vi-kal-pah sam-ma-dhee )
Sense: ‘Remaining motionless and unperturbed even though
experiencing the exaltation of the superconscious state.’
Antarya (an-tar-ree-ya )
Sense: ‘Obstacles on the yogic path.’
Listed as: a) sickness; b) fatigue; c) carelessness; d) doubt; e)
laziness; f) worldly attachment; g) false illusions; h) nonachievement
of the practices of dharana (focalisation), dhyana
(contentless meditation) and samadhi (absorption); or failure to
maintain the achievement once attained.
FromPatanjali’s Yoga Sutras (Sutra 1, v.30)
Antaryajña (an-tar-ree-yah, yag-nee-yah)
Var: Antaryagña, Antar-yajna
Synon: Manasa Puja
Sense: ‘Mental oblation.’
This is a tantric practice in which the aspirant (after perfecting
years of arduous training) is given secret instruction in mentally
visualising the rituals and offering every part of his psychological
and physical being to the Lord or deity.
1) Kaulåval⁄nir~aya Tantra (a text from the tantric Kaulå sect) giving the process of mental oblation.
Sense: ‘Inner vision; the Inner Controller or Guide Within’: the
åtman conceived of as the inner presence and internal guide of
Also the name applied to the Godhead when conceived of as That
which is controlling the entire inner cosmos; a concept of primary
importance in the Upanishads. It is the cosmic form of the Self as
Pure Intelligence, but combined with maya (cosmic projection). It
is also deemed to be the ruler of the four outer bodily sheaths and
the five elements, earth, air, fire, water and ether.
Sense: ‘Infinitesimal’— generally taken to mean ‘atom’. (For Anu
as an epithet, see Shiva.
Sense: ‘Direct perception of Reality, the intuitive spiritual
Self-Realisation—is the identity of the jiva (the personalised
human entity)—with Shiva when conceived of as Brahman the
Other: a) Also used as a term for ‘the emotions’ or certain feelingstates.
Anugraha d®‚†i (an-nu-gra-hah drrish-tee )
Var: Anugraha d®i‚†i, anugraha drishti, anugraham,
Synon: Chakçhu D⁄k‚hå
Sense: ‘The glance of Grace’ (of ‘God’ or Guru):’metaphorically
falling on the heart of one who is practicing ‘Witness
consciousness’ or ‘abidance in the heart (åtma-ni‚h†a).
It is a form of initiation or spiritual transmission of the guru’s
energy to disciple by his special glance, also known as chakçhu
Anugraha shakti (anoo-gra-hah-shak-tih)
Sense: ‘The self-revealing power which propels the ego-bound
being through many pains and pleasures, until the futility of it all is
recognised; when it then guides the sufferer towards a deeper
understanding until he or she willingly cuts the binding knot of ego.
This is the opposite function to Tirodhåna—the veiling
capacity of forgetfulness (or måyå), which causes the arising of
the ego-knot between spirit and matter and makes the subtle
mindstuff attach itself to gross matter (the body) and assume an
independent identity rather than remaining one with the
Anuloma-viloma (annu-lo-ma vill-lo-mah)
Var: (Anulom vilom)
Sense: ‘A breathing technique in which the flow of breath in
alternate nostrils is observed with toal awareness.’
Anuloma-viloma, or the ‘up-down’ breath, is also known as ‘with
the hair and against the hair.’ In English, we might term it ‘going
with the grain and going against the grain.’
The practice known as Nadi Shodhana Pranayama, in which
breath is inhaled by one nostril and exhaled through the other in
alternate sucession, is the precurser to anuloma-viloma . In nadi
shodhana practice, with one nostril closed by either the thumb or
fingers, after the inhalation the breath is held for 16 seconds. If held
any longer than that, the practice then goes by the name of
anuloma-viloma and the chin lock and anal lock are prescribed.
In advanced practice the airflow is mentally controlled from
one nostril to the other.
a) Ajna Chakra — Swami Nityabodhananda Saraswati (Bihar School of Yoga, 1973), p.40.
Sense: ‘Intense attachment to god.’
Sense: ‘A fixed course of sadhana or spiritual practice, usually
lasting from morning until night.’
In mantra, anusthanas are the rituals prescribed to
accompany the classical style of practice; which include the
type of seat to be used, the direction to be faced, the rishi from
whom the mantra came, to be revered; the deity of the mantra to
be invoked, the specific flowers for puja, the style of mala
(rosary) or other accoutrements that must be used, etc.
Sense: ‘Hopeful and optimistic cheerfulness.’
Var: Apaana, apaana-vayu (vaayu),
Sense: ‘The downwards-moving breath in the body--the force by
which waste products are expelled from the body’.
One of the five vital ‘airs’ or ‘pranas’ in Hatha Yoga which
maintain the smooth functioning of the physical body, viz: 1)
Pråna, 2) Apåna, 3) Udåna, 4) Samåna and 5) Vyåna.
Apåna is the downwards or outwards moving energy which
carries away waste particles from the system. Lit: ‘to take away,
breathe away or remove.’ Ap — away, an — to breathe. (Apa is
also water, with its connotations of flowing away).
Thus apåna is considered as a centrifugal force, which
eliminates toxins, basically governing the abdominal region and
excretory functions. But besides working in the anus and
genitals, it also functions in the knees, thighs and buttocks,
calves, stomach, navel and loins. Tibetan medicine considers
apana-vayu (wind) to be the cause of various bodily secretions.
The French indologist Réné Guenon states that apåna-vayu
(vayu—vital air, breath or wind) is an ‘inspired’ or breathed-in
breath, considered as descending in the body, while vayu is an
‘aspiration’ or respiration considered as ascending in its initial
Psychologically it is connected with forgetfulness and absentmindedness.
It is associated with the colour orange-red
1 Man & His Becoming—Réné Guenon, pp.77-78.
Sense: ‘Limitless: not having boundaries.’
Negative prefix a , plus para — across, beyond.
Aparå Vidyå (ap-par-rah-vid-yar )
Var: Aparaavidyaa, apara vidya
Sense: ‘Lower, or mere intellectual knowledge’ dealing with the
means of freedom from the empirical world.
As opposed to Parå-Vidyå, or ‘higher knowledge of Brahman,’
which is of an experiential and insightful nature. Whereas lower
knowledge consists of book knowledge, even including that of the
four Vedas; as well as liturgical texts, books on grammar,
etymology, astronomy and suchlike.
Sense: ‘Non-possessiveness’— mental freedom from needyness:
the condition in which one has no covetous desire to hold on to
any possessions, having faith that the Lord will provide. It is
one of the yamas or ‘restraints’ of the Raja Yoga system of the
Root: a—not, parigrahå—to collect or accumulate (for one’s own
Taking things, or picking up things to keep unnecessarily, as
well as accepting gifts not needed, is parigrahå and is
considered to lead to hoarding, acquisitiveness and bondage to
Aparigrahå is the creation of the essence of simplicity in
one’s mind; not even mentally coveting or clinging to anything
(or anyone). Its real inner meaning is the relinquishment of the
concept of ego and indulgence in our false identification with it.
Sense: ‘Intuitive and direct perception of Reality without a
medium,’ — in contradistinction to parok‚ha (parok‚a) through
which a thinker infers something indirectly through observation and
Sense: ‘The demon of Ignorance (ego), on which Shiva dances in
his aspect as Nataraja Lord of the Cosmic Dance.’
Sense: ‘Non-authorship’ or ‘not of human origin’: that is, having no
This is the traditional view of the Vedas, as a divine revelation
of the “Eternal Word” manifested through the inspired
consciousness of the ancient rishis, or seers.
Apsaras (ap-sar-ras )
Sense: ‘Beautiful celestial dancing girls of resplendent form
gracing the heavenly Court of Indra.’
They are said to have arisen from the ambrosial ‘Ocean of Milk’
when churned by the gods and demons. Not having undergone the
purifications according to the Laws of Manu, they became women
of easy virtue and a law unto themselves as far as morality goes.
The intention here was to condemn the nature of temple dancers
and human theatricals; thus for millennia stage performers were
scorned as low class beings.
Apsaras are also female spirits or nymphs, believed to inhabit
mythical mountain regions, trees, water and air, along with the
Gandharvas—the celestial musicians and Kinnaras —celestial male
dancers. Such beings can be seen as the counterparts of the fairies
in Western mythology.
Sense: ‘Not having existed before:’ something which occurs as the
consequence of a previous act, manifesting as an incident in one
world or another in any given lifetime.
Daiva being the unseen potency of ‘God’ which brings this effect
Sense: ‘Spoke’: as in a wheel. Instead of using the imagery of
the petals of a lotus when speaking of a chakra (wheel), some
use the imagery of whirling spokes.
Åra~yakas (aah-ran-yak-kas )
Sense: ‘Forest scriptures.’
Åranaya means a forest, a wilderness or a distant land.
Other: a) In the Chåndogya Upanishad (VIII, v.5), åra~yakas are
called ‘a way of solitude.’
Årati (aar-rut-tee )
Var: aarati , arti, arathi, aarthy, aarathi, (harathi )
Sense: ‘Waving of Lights ritual’— a divine service ceremony
performed as a reverential salutation to God (or to an idol of a
specific God of the Hindu Pantheon).
Ar, aryanti — to praise, or worship.
Årati is generally performed in the early morning, midday, at
twilight or just after dark, while burning incense and camphor. It
symbolises the little light of the soul offered to the great Light of
Burning lights or lamps are waved clockwise before a shrine or
image, to instrumental music and song, (or sometimes to a
cacophonous noise of bells and horns, trumpets and drums beaten
wildly) with the burning of incense. In the north of India this song
is generally sung in Hindi, as follows:
Om jaya jagadeesh Hare,
Swami Jaya Jagadeesh Hare,
Bhakta-janon ke sankata
Daasa-janon ke sankata,
Om jaya jagadeesh Hare.
Jo dhyave phala pave,
Dukha binase mana ka-swami (twice)
Sukha sampati ghara ave (twice)
Kashta mite tana ka (chorus: Om Jaya, etc)
Matapita tuma mere
Sharana ganoon kisakee-Swami
Tuma bina aura na-dooja
Tuma bina aura na koee
Asha karoon jisakee—Om Jaya, etc.
Tuma purana param-åtma
Para Brahma Parameshvara (twice)
Tuma saba ke Swami—Om Jaya, etc.
Tuma karuna ke sagara
Main murakha khala kamee
Main sevaka tuma swami
Kripa karo bharata—Om Jaya, etc.
Tumo ho Eka Agochara
Saba ke pranapatee Swami
Kisa vidha miloon dayamaya
Kisa vidha miloon kripamaya
Tuma ko main kumatee—Om Jaya, etc.
Deenabhandhu dukha harata
Tuma rakshaka mere-Swami
Apane hath uthao
Apane charana badhao
Dvara pada tere-Om jaya, etc.
Vishaya vikara mitao
Papa haro deva-Swami
Shraddha bhakti badhao
Shraddha prema badhao
Santana ke seva—Om Jaya, etc.
Tana mana dhana saba tera
Saba kutchha hai tera-Swami
Tera tere arpana (twice)
Kya lage mera
Om Jaya jagadeesh Hare.
Sense: ‘The worship of the Divine by mantra chanting, offering
flowers and leaves, kum-kum (vermillion powder), etc.’
Sense: ‘Half’—as in, for example, ardha-malasana, the halfplough
posture (mala—plough, asana—posture or seat); or the
ardha-padmasana (half-lotus pose).
Ardha-matra (ard-dhah-ma-tra )
Sense: ‘A demi-phoneme, or half the phonetic constituent of a
sound or letter.’
In mantra, when the mystical sound Om is chanted, the vibratory
nasalised ‘mmmnnnnn’ sound which lingers on towards the end of
the breath is designated as an ardha-matra (a half-sound or ‘nonphonetic
constituent’) and is considered as representing the Eternal
Nada or Unstruck Sound of the Universe.
Var: Ardhanar-ishvara, ardha-narishwara, Ardha-narishvara
Sense: ‘The Lord (Shiva) who is half male and half female,’
represented by an idol with a right male half and a left female half.
Meaning the combined integration of Shiva and Shakti
principles. Ardha — half.
Sense: the offering of water to the ‘hands’ of God (by giving it
into the hands of an idol) in the ritual worship known as
Sodasopacara (sixteen steps). Eso: offering oneself into the
hands of God. (Cf. Sodasopacara for diacritical marks)
Arhat (ah-hat )
Sense: ‘Perfected One’— a Buddhist term for a Saint in Hinayana
Buddhism and is also used in Theosophy. One who has slain his
‘enemies’— namely the human passions (kleshas) and basic drives,
even that of clinging to life.
Arhat is equivalent to j⁄van-mukta in Sanskrit; indicating one
who has reached the highest degree of the four orders of the Åryas:
Srotåpanna, Sak®idågåmin, Anågåmin, and Arhat.
Sense: ‘A sign or portent by which yogis know the time of
separation from their bodies.’
This sense is developed by samyama, or deep concentration, on
Sense: ‘Straightforwardness, sincerity;’when thought, word, and
deed are in harmony; one then becomes straightforward in all
The heroric Pandava warrior-prince of the Kurukshetra
battlefield who—at the commencement of the war—learned the
message and revelation of the Bhagavad Gita from his friend and
charioteer, the Avatar Krishna, and went on to score a victory for
the Pandava race. Among the many teachingsof Krishna, he
basically learned that according to his station in life (as a Prince
and a warrior), he should not shirk his duties and must act (and
fight) in the circumstances in which he finds himself, but without
anger or self-motivation.
The whole Bhagavad Gita is only a small section of the great
Sense: ‘An ascending psychic passage or nadi, beginning at
muladhara , moving towards svadhistana, from there to the pubic
region, then upwards, passing through the kshetrams (‘fields’ or
‘dwelling places’) of the other chakras, except ajna, passing
directly to the bindu.
Yogically, this is not simply offering food or flowers to a
deity, or money and gifts to a guru, but the offering of one’s sense
of ego and mind to the master, or to God. True arpana is the
merging of self in the Self, or the surrender of the mind-bound
individual in the Absolute.
Sense: ‘Wealth or possessions’— often used in the sense of inner
spiritual wealth or psychic gifts and capabilities.
In tantric texts, when used in conjunction in the term‘çhabda
and artha ,’ it signifies ‘meaning,’ with regard to the correct
comprehension of vocalised sounds (namely, words). In this
instance, shabda meaning ‘the Primordial Word’ emanating from
the union of Shiva and Shakti principles.
Other: a) Aim or purpose (of existence). b) Light. (hence arti).
Sense: ‘A purpose-oriented ritual practised for a specific result.’
Aru~åchala (arrun-aah-challa )
Var: Arunaachala, Arunachalam, Aruna achala, Aru~åcala
Synon: Annamalai (Unnamulai, the feminine form of Annamalai ),
Arunagiri, (tejolinga, agnilinga)
Sense: ‘The Insurmountable’ or the ‘Immovable’—‘Hill (or
Mountain) of the Dawn’ or the Hill of Light.
It was originally known as Annamalai, with the prefix thiru or
tiru signifying ‘greatness.’ Hence the town below it, situated in
North Arcot, Tamil Nadu, is now called Tiruvannamalai. In
Sanskrit the hill is also called Arunagiri – the rose or red hill or
It is regarded as the Southern spiritual pole of India and the
manifestation of Shiva himself, whereas Mount Kailash in the
northern Himalayas is only his abode. The word ‘Annal’ is one of
Root: Aruna — light (the ‘rose pink of the dawn’or redness as of
fire) and achala — immovable mountain).
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, the sage who identified himself
with Arunachala, esoterically broke down the name as follows:- A
= Sat (Truth/Beingness), RU = Chit (Consciousness), NA = Ananda
(Bliss) and CHA+ LA (Achala ) = Perfection, thus Perfect Being-
Consciousness-Bliss. Arunachala is thus known as the jñåna
pañchåk‚har⁄ mantra, or ‘five-syllabled mantra of librating
Some translate it as aruna (the Self) and achala (stillness).
A Sanskrit work known as the Arunachala Mahatmyam, which
eulogises the greatness of the mountain, perpetuates the legend that
Lord Shiva originally manifested as a column of fire (a Tejolingam
or Column of Light) that eventually condensed into Arunachala.
The column had neither top nor bottom and symbolises infinity
and limitless light of the inner Self, or Eternal perfect
Consciousness. Some consider Arunachala as the union of the
Supreme Self and the Individual self, representing the One
Absolute, as expressed in the Mahavakya (Great Utterance) ‘That
The famous mystic Jñanasambandhar wrote a verse to the
effect that Arunachala was a ‘dense mass of jñåna [spiritual
wisdom] capable of removing the I-am-the-body idea from its
Undoubtedly, Arunachala is a mountain of great inner power,
which has attracted pilgrims and drawn holymen to live in its caves
for thousands of years, enlightening many sages.
The greatest and most recent of these was Bhagavan Sri
Ramana Maharshi (1868-1950), who was regarded as a
manifestation of Shiva. Hence he was also named
Ramanarunachaleshwara Shiva . His radiance continues to suffuse
the area. Once in a vision, Bhagavan saw into the interior of the
mountain, where he perceived thousands of sadhaks being taught
by rishis and thereby understood its power. He declared that
Arunachala was the ‘Heart of the Earth’ and the spiritual centre of
the world. He also stated that another meaning of ‘Achala ’ signified
The great sage Çr⁄ Çhankaracharya called it ‘Mount Meru.’
According to geological analysis and carbon-dated fossils found
on the hill and, it has been ascertained that Arunachala is some 1.65
billion years old, one third of the age of the earth and almost 20
times older than the Himalayas, making it one of the most ancient
mountains on earth. 2
A famous saying in Southern India is: “To view Chidambaram, to
be born in Tiruvarur, to die in Benares — or merely to think of
Arunachala is to be assured of Liberation.” Esoterically, each of
these four holy places represents a different aspect of higher
consciousness, Arunachala being the Godhead or Pure
The devotees of Bhagavan and the Hill sing his mantric hymn
Arunachala-Shiva, during the Deepam festival (in November or
December) when a beacon fire is lit on the peak for ten days. It is
also especially appropriate when walking the fourteen kilometres
around its base; a practice known as Aru~agiri-pradak‚hi~a.
a) “That is the holiest place of all; Aru~åchala is the most sacred.
That is the Heart of the world. Know it to be the secret sacred
Heart-Centre of Shiva.” 3
1 The Necklet of Nine Gems’ in The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi — Ed. Arthur Osborne.
2 Geologishe Rundschau, Vol. 87, 3 (1998), pp. 268-82.
3 The Çkanda Purå~a .
Var: aroopa, arupa
Sense: ‘Without form’ (on the physical plane, that is).
Arul (ah-rool )
Synon: Ojas sthana
Sense: ‘The manifestation of Divine Grace in the heart.’
A Tamil word, usually compounded as Arul Ullam (‘the
heart-centred seat of consciousness), being equivalent to the
Sanskrit Hrith-Guha (‘the cave of the heart’). This does not refer to
the physical heart organ, but to the experience of the spiritual heart
situated on the right side of the chest.
In the standard Ayurvedic text, Ashtangahridayam, it states that
the ojas sthana (the place of spiritually transformed mental energy)
is located on the right side of the chest, also known as Samvit (‘the
seat of consciousness’).
Sense: ‘A celestial being: one of the Adityas.’
He is a benevolent being, connected with devoted households and
the home fire, personifiying hospitality and protection and is a
giver of gifts.
Sense: ‘The Elect, or High Ones.’
Popular legend has it that the Aryans are the light-skinned
peoples who invaded India from the north, bringing with them their
own gods and customs and subjugating the native population.
However, modern historians now find little evidence for the
‘invasion’ theory. The Aryan migration seems to have been more of
a gradual infiltration in pre-Vedic times and their gods absorbed the
qualities of the indigenous peoples as much as the native gods
became combinations of the Aryan deities.
Some researchers state that ‘aryan’ means ‘the cultivated, or the
refined,’ accepted to be what they called themselves.
Ariya refers to the Buddha and his followers, doubtless referring
to thier significance as ‘the High Ones.’
Asakii (as-sa-kee )
Sense: ‘Freedom from ownership.’
The sense of not owning anything; having the attitude of
temporary stewardship towards everything ‘belonging’ to you, such
as your home, your family, car and all possessions. Cultivating
such an attitude brings about peace of mind.
Aaçakti — see Açhakti
Sense: ‘The condition of a brahmåcårin or celebate student, who
has not yet taken the vows of Sannyåsa and is therefore designated
as one who has yet to give up physical rituals.’
A-saμnyåsa —‘not sannyas,’ generally rendered as a ‘nonphysical
renouncer,’ meaning one who has not yet fully renounced
actions in the world, including the prescribed orthodox rituals.
Asamprajnåta Samådhi (ah-sam-prag-nya-tah-sam-ma-dhee )
Var: Asampragnata samadhi
Synon: Sahaja Samadhi, acetana samadhi
Sense: ‘Total immersion in, and identification with the Absolute
principle, Purusha or Brahman.’
This is the final stage of evolution and emancipation, from which
there is no return to normal individual consciousness. In this state,
the seeds of individualised egocentric identification are burnt up,
never to return. The yogin’s identity is merged in God or the Divine
Principle for once and for all.
It is also another term for Sahaja Samadhi, meaning final
liberation; union with Brahman, beyond cause and effect, time and
Quote: a) “In the state of asamprajnata samadhi , all mentalphysical
seeds of problems are burnt and consciousness is united
with Brahman.” 1
Therefore it is also called acetana or ‘inactive’samadhi .
1The Textbook of Yoga Psychology, Ramamurti S. Mishra, M.D. (Julian Press, N.Y. 1963. p.97)
Asamsakti (ah-sam-shak-tee )
Sense: ‘Being unaffected by anything.’
This is a state of yogic achievement that generally occurs after
entering into asamprajnåta samådhi. Siddhis or psychic powers,
may manifest automatically as a result of this attainment, but
the yogin is unaffected by them, having entered the stage of
Var: Asana, aasana, (asan, åsna)
Sense: ‘A posture held in Hatha Yoga practice — through which a
free flow of psychic processes is effected in the body’s
physiological mechanism, which assists in refining the mind for the
investigation of Reality.
Note that it is pronounced åhz-na, with the accent on the first
syllable and not on the middle one (as often mistakenly pronounced
in yoga classes, as as-sår-na ).
Lit. ‘A seat’— åsana is the science of psycho-yogic attainment of a
posture, and its fulfilment is the realisation of one’s full potential;
that is, to become unified in body, mind and Spirit, at one with the
In ancient Hatha Yoga practice, it was considered that none could
say they had mastered any pose (åsana ) until they were able to hold
it comfortably for three hours. “When postures are mastered, there
is cessation of the movements of inspiration and expiration, which
are included in pranayama .” 1
Some classical texts enumerate different types of åsana
according the rituals followed, or whether one worships with or
without a particular desire, the style of worship and the motive
Other: a) the seat or mat on which one sits for meditation is also
called an åsana . b) Another usage of the word åsana is as one of the
Sixteen Steps of worship known as Sodasopacara, in which it
means offering to God the symbol or image used in the ritual as his
seat, or welcoming Him to take His place therein. One may offer
one’s heart as the throne or seat of God.
a) “Rising, sitting down, walking, in fact any gesture taken up by
the body is called an åsana . It corresponds to the rhythm and the
vibration of body and mind at any particular moment. Some
aspirants can meditate only if seated in the pose indicated by the
Guru or formulated in the shastras (scriptures) and not otherwise...
On the other hand someone may begin his practice while sitting in
any ordinary position; nevertheless, as soon as the state of japa
(repetition of a mantra) or dhyana (concentration) has been reached,
the body will spontaneously take up the most appropriate position.”
— Shree Anandamayee Ma. 2
b) “The true åsana is to remain at rest in the Self.” — Ramana
1 The Textbook of Yoga Psychology, Rammurti S. Mishra M.D. (Julian Press, N.Y.)
2 Anandamayee — Her life and Wisdom, Richard Lannoy (Element Books, 1996).
Sense: ‘Free of ambiguity;’ leaving no room for doubt (e.g. in
the statements of the sutras or the Upanishads).
Sense: ‘Non-relational’: (a-sangha , without association).
A term applied to the Self, which exists of itself without
reliance upon any other thing or attribute.
Asat (ah-sat )
Sense: ‘Not real — that which is not’: the non-real as opposed to
Sat — Reality. Or ‘non-being’ as opposed to ‘being.’
Sense: ‘Passions’ (in Buddhism); specified as four: kåmåsava
(sensuality); bhavåsava (lust for life); di††håsava (speculative
interest), avijjåsava (ignorance).
Åçhakti (ah-syhak-tee )
Var: Açakti, aasakti
Sense: ‘Irresistible attachment, infatuation’: the polar opposite
of anaçhakti (detachment).’
The philosophy of the Bhagavad Gita revolves around the
reconciliation of the ashakti-anashakti condition of personal
consciousness, by the cultivation of bhåvana (dispassionate
Ashakti dependencies give rise to afflictions such as anxiety,
fear, depression and insecurity.
Ashånti (ah-shaan-tee )
Var: ashaanti, asanthi
Sense: ‘Absence of mental peace, restlessness, distraction’.
Var: ashrama, asrama, åshram, aasram, asram, ashramam (southern
Sense: ‘Spiritual refuge’— an abode for spiritual aspirants; a
hermitage, or Indian monastery.
Said to derive variously from either asram — ‘to counsel’ (and is
therefore a place where guidance is given) or, ‘to commune with
oneself,’ or from a combination of a — not and srama — effort,
labour or exertion; thus a place where one gives up the efforts and
strivings of the worldly life. Another meaning can be taken from
from ‘shramana ’ — to wander; and thus a-shramana means ‘not
wandering,’ as when a spiritual mendicant takes refuge from the
exertions of the trials of the open road. A sadhu, or spiritual
pilgrim, is allowed three nights stay in any ashram according to
ancient traditional laws.
a) “If you are staying in an Ashram, live there like an aspirant. You
have entered the institution for your spiritual advancement. You
should forget the world. You should not look for any power,
position, honour and respect. You should observe the discipline of
the Ashram and keep the atmosphere pure and holy. You should
engage yourself in solid Sadhana. You should try to manage with
the bare necessities. You should lead a life of chastity, poverty and
a) Seeking the Master—Muz Murray (Neville Spearman Press, U.K. 1980).
b) The Seeker’s India—Muz Murray (see website under “Research”: www.mantra-yoga.com).
1 Science of Yoga Vol.3, Ethical Teachings—Swami Sivananda (Sivananda pres, Durban, 1971)
Açhramas (a-shyuh-rah-mahs )
Var: Açramas, ashramas, asrama, aasrama
Sense: ‘The four categories of life situation for those following the
ancient caste system.’
Life in ancient India was divided up into four specific periods;
that of Brahmacharya (celibate student), Grihasta (householder),
Vanaprastha (retired forest-dweller) and Sannyasa (initiate monk).
For those rare beings who attained a spiritual state beyond all
caste consciousness and distinctions there is a further category
known as atiasrama.
But for the man following tradition, the four basic åçhrama stages
of life were intended to develop correct attitudes calculated to lead
an individual, step by step, towards a realisation of the supreme
spiritual ideal. By intensive exertion and effort (çrama) of the body
and the mind and constant spiritual practice, one may steadily
prepare oneself for experiencing the ultimate goal in life; attaining
Brahmacharya Ashrama: This is the stage of the brahmåcårin or
celibate student, beginning around the age of 5 to 7 years. The child
is enjoined to study the Vedas in order to imbibe the spiritual aspect
of life. During his developing teen years he lives with his preceptor
following a course of rigorous discipline, studying the scriptures
and learning rites and rituals, in order to overcome the effects of
hormonal changes and sexual urges that arise in this period.
Brahmacharya has therefore come to be thought of as synonymous
with chastity and physical abstinence. This period is prescribed
for 12 years, but may last up until the age of 25 or 30.
Grihasta (Grahasta ) Ashrama, or grhasthasrama : Generally, during
his twenties, the student is then expected to marry and become a
grhasta or householder, a family man, supporting the social
structure and the prevailing morality, caring for animals and
continuing his spiritual efforts through worship, charitable deeds
and dutifully performing his family life.
Vanaprasta Ashrama: After another 25 or 30 years, at what would
be termed the ‘age of retirement’ in the West, the orthodox
householder was expected to give up the comforts of home life,
renounce family and ownership and become a vanaprastha or
forest-dweller, living upon whatever the forest may offer him.
Allowance was made for the wife to accompany him if she was
inclined to the simple spiritual life and the cultivation of dispassion.
Such couples were expected to visit villages and socially assist the
underprivileged, rendering services according to their natural
capacities, or teaching the scriptures.
Although the rules for this forest life are very strict, adherence to
the letter of the Law (as laid down in the ancient law book of the
Hindus, the Manu Smrti ) naturally varies according to each
individual. Very few nowadays follow any of the old traditions to
the letter. An ashram may serve as a ‘forest dwelling’ and those
drawn to a spiritual life at an early age may skip the householder
and forest-dwelling stages and take to sannyasa directly.
Sannyasa Ashrama: This was generally the final phase in life, when
the spiritually inclined accepted the monk’s (saffron, geru or kavi)
robe and took the vow of sannyasa during a ceremony of
renunciation. After initiation into a specific monastic order,
Sannyasins are supposed to have no more contact with friends or
family and to devote their remaining years to overcoming bondage
to this world in the quest of Self-realisation.
However, in these degenerate days one still finds many greedyeyed
and avaricious old men sporting the robe of a ‘renunciate’ as a
means of gaining alms and charity and hassling foreigners for
For those who do not follow the ashrama tradition, in some
north Indian areas the mock-Sanskrit word ‘pandashrama ’ is
pejoratively used, to imply a useless condition of being that can
only lead to futility.
Quotes: a) “Here we have the symbolic idea of the four orders
expressing the divine as knowledge in man, the divine as power,
the divine as production, enjoyment and mutuality, the divine as
service, obedience and work. These divisions answer to four
cosmic principles, the wisdom that conceives the order and
principle of things, the power that sanctions, upholds and enforces
it, the harmony that creates the arrangement of its parts, the work
that carries out what the rest direct.”—Sri Aurobindo
b) ‘The four stages of life in India have in later times been reduced
to two—that of the householder and that of the monk.’
—Swami Vivekananda 1
a) The Açrama System: The History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Instruction—Patrick Olivelle
(Oxford University Press, New York, 1993).
1 Karma Yoga—Swami Vivekananda (Advaita Ashrama, Almora, Himalayas, 1963)
Ashrama — see also Dasnamis
Ashtaiswarya Siddhis (ash-tai-swah-ree-yah sid-dhees )
Sense: ‘The 8-occult powers of perfection’ such as precognition,
telepathy, instantaneous disappearance, the ability to appear in
distant places, the capacity to assume the form of any living being,
the ability to shrink to the size of an atom or enlarge the body, etc
Root: ashta — eight, Ûçwara —the indwelling Lord, siddhis —powers
Ashtånga-Yoga (ash-tahng-ghah yo-gah)
Var: Ashtangayoga, ashtaang-yoga, ashtangayoga, (astaangyog),
Sense: The ‘Yoga of Eight-Limbs or sections.’
The Raja-Yoga system instituted by Patanjali, consisting
of eight practices known as: Yåmå, Niyåma, Åsana,
Pranayåma, Pratyahåra, Dhårana, Dhyåna, and Samådhi.
Ashuddha-Manas (ash-udda-mannas )
Sense: ‘The unpurified desire-conditioned mind, still filled with
passions, anxieties, frustrations, jealousies and aggressions, etc.’
Var: asvattham, aswatha, asvattha
Sense: ‘The upside-down Tree of the Universe:’ the legendary
Cosmic Tree of Life, which has neither beginning nor end, with its
roots above and its brances below.’
In esoteric terms, it representsMan, having his roots in the ‘earthball’
of the brain and his branches (veins and arteries) below.
Lit: ‘That which will not last until tomorrow,’—meaning something
ephemeral and ever changing. The world is like an ever-changing
tree, but is rooted in the unchanging Reality.
a) “This is the Eternal Asvatta Tree, whose roots are above and
whose branches spread below. That is verily the Pure, that is
Brahman, and that is also called the Immortal. In that rest all the
worlds and none can transcend it. Verily this is That.”
—Katha Upanishad (VI.1)
b) “They [the wise] speak of an immutable eternal Açvattha rooted
above and branching below, whose leaves are the metres and
hymns: he who knows it is a knower of the Ve∂ås. ..”—Bhagavad
Gita (XV 1-3)
Other: a) When taken as an actual tree, it is identified with the ficus
religiosa , the banyan, or peepul tree.
Açhvins — see Açvins
Asiramma (a-seer-ramma )
Sense: ‘Non-headed mother’—an alternative name for Renuka Devi,
a headless deity revered by Tantric worshippers.
Sense: ‘The ego-sense projected onto the Self:’ the type of
confusion in the psyche of an individual being the universal form of
Sense: ‘Mindstuff (chittam) in identification with self (ego) =
Asmitå klesha (az-mee-taa kley-shah)
Sense: ‘The affliction of egoism; the idea that ‘I am something, or
Its antonym is ahambhavana, the feeling of simply being.
Synon: Nirvikalpa samadhi
Sense: ‘The yoga in which one realises the transcendental Reality.’
Asra (ass-ra )
Açramas — see Ashramas
Asteya (as-tey-ya )
Sense: ‘Non-stealing’— a non-covetous attitude of mind in
which there is never any desire to possess anything belonging to
another, either in thought or deed.
Root: a—not, steya—stealing.
Even trifling things belonging to another should not be
appropriated without their consent. According to this attitude,
the stocking-up of material goods is considered a form of theft,
as is over-eating or taking more than is really necessary for
sustaining life. Even to take another’s ideas — their mental
goods — as one’s own, without crediting them is theft. To pay
someone an unfair wage for a fair work is also theft.
A‚†hamå siddh⁄s (ash-tah-maa sid-deez )
Sense: ‘The eight unique powers of the Godhead.’
Åstika (ahs-stik-ka )
Var: Astik, aastika
Sense: ‘Belief in the truth (vidya—knowledge of the Vedas and the
Hence astikyam—the state of being a believer: one who grants the
existence of God, other regions of experience and other births than
the present one.
The opposite of this is na’astika or nåstika.
Sense: ‘A mantrically charged missile.’
From the root ‘to throw;’ an astra is generally a weapon
thrown by a god, the object itself may often be as insubstantial a
blade of dried grass, but is backed up by the incantation of a
Sometimes astra is translated as ‘arrow’, aligning it with the word
sastra (arrow), but this does not have the same significance as
something that is infused with mantric power.
Astral body (see Ativahika sharira)
Var: Asoora, asuram
Synon: (Titan, goblin), Tib. Iha-ma-yin,
Sense: ‘A divine or diabolic spirit—a demon,’ in general
In modern usage, an asura is usually considered to be an evil
being, cruel and addicted to hedonistic pleasure, selfaggrandisement
and power over others. Yet in the early Vedas,
such as the ¸ig Veda, the asuras were always deities or divine
beings, coming from the root asu—‘life,’ meaning ‘spiritual
life.’ Another rendering is from sura meaning ‘god,’ and a-sura
meaning ‘not god’ or a ‘non-god,’ but at the very least a ‘divine
being’ or deva.
It is only in much later scriptures that the concept of a-suras
became confusingly known as demons. They thus appear to be
something in the nature of ‘fallen angels’ who, by repentance
and turning to the Lord, are capable of being redeemed and
regaining their divine status.
Asu is also taken to mean the ego-sense, which confines one
to identity with the body. Ego is thus the animating principle,
causing one to automatically become a self-centered or egoistic.
Anyone of this nature is called asura.
Another meaning of sura is ‘one who drinks intoxicating
liquors.’ Many of the Hindu gods derive from the Aryans, who
were heavy drinkers and therefore to them, asura meant an
abstainer or non-drinker, a contemptuous term in Aryan culture.
In the Puranic myth regarding the churning of the ‘Ocean of
Milk,’ it relates that when the goddess of wine appeared from
the Ocean with a bowl of Sura – divine liquor, the gods drank
from it, but the demons (all except one), did not, thus earning
the name å -suras (non-drinkers). Hence: åsurya (aasurya ) —
came to mean ‘un-divine’ or ‘not-God.’
On the other hand, southern Dravidians appear to have
considered the northern Aryans themselves as asuras , slighting
them as demons in their literature.
Esoterically, the mythological asuras and devas are not two
separate entities, but symbolise the struggle of our inner
Other: a) Ås¨rya (asoorya ) means ‘sunless.’ b) Asuri sampat
(assurisampat ) — ‘leading downwards.’
a) Asura in Early Vedic Religion — Edward W. Hale (Motilal Banarsilas, 1986)
Ås¨risampat (aah-soor-ree-sam-padt )
Var: Åasuurisampat, asuri-sampad, ås¨risampat
Sense: ‘Leading downwards’— i.e., hedonistic or materially
Its antonym is Daivi Sampat — ‘Leading upwards;’ meaning
divine qualities, or a godly nature.
Sense: ‘The celestial horse, presented as the symbol of outer
space, the biosphere and the earth plane.’
Açvattha — see Açhvatta
Açvini mudra (ash-vee-nee moo-drah)
Var. Ashwini , aswini, ashvini
Sense: ‘Yogic practice in which the muscles of the anal sphincter
are repeatedly contracted and relaxed.’ From asvini : a mare.
Açvins (as-syh-vinz )
Var: (Aswins, açhvins).
Sense: ‘The celestial twins, demi-gods of the Vedas.’
Their common-wife is Surya daughter of the sun, whom they
won in a chariot race against the other gods. In the Puranas they
are spoken of as celestial physicians: deities of medicinal herbs.
Sense: ‘Beyond the perception of the senses.’
Sense: ‘The priest of antiquity who first discovered fire.’
He is referred to in the Brahmavidyå portion of the Atharva
Atharva Ve∂a (1000 BC). (attar-vah vey-duh)
It is one of the four basic Ve∂ås; the most sacred scriptures of
the Hindus. Named after its author, the sage Atharvan, it is
basically a medical treatise dealing with anatomy and pathology,
giving descriptions of specific drugs. It is also a book of ancient
magical-propitiatory formulae, which forms the basis of Hindu
occultism and preserves earlier non-Aryan traditions. It propounds
two basic types of magical formula: a benign form known as
‘atharvan’ and a malevolent form called ‘a~giris ,’ named after
Atharvan is most likely a title rather than a person, as the
Atharvans are said to have been a mythological semi-divine family
of fire-priests in the ancient temples.
Atiaçhrama (atti-ash-ram-ma )
Var: Atiaçrama, atiaashrama, ati-ashrama, atyaçrama .
Sense: ‘Beyond the four Ashramas’¾ beyond the four states of
existence prescribed for the traditional system of life, namely
Brahmacharya, Grihasta, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa.
The condition of being attained by a rare jñåni or Sage, who has
transcended ego and all notion of selfhood and achieved oneness
with the Omnipresence, which puts him beyond the scriptural
injunctions prescribed for those adhering to the caste system. He
may not even have gone through the four stages (in this life) and
thus he is beyond their necessity. Such a one in the 20th century was
the great Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi of Arunachala (1880-
The shastraic or scriptural mentions of this state are to be found
in the Upanishads, the Bhagavata, the MahaBharata, and several
other works. More specific details and injunctions concerning
atiasrama are to be found in the Suta Samhita (a part of the Skanda
Purana ), which delares that “a person who has attained true
knowledge... who experiences the Atma which is full of bliss, is not
subject to any restrictions...”
v.14 & 15: “One who realises the parattavam [the Supreme
Reality] which is different from the body and the senses, which is
omniscient, self-luminous, and full of bliss and happiness¾that
person is atiasrama .
v.16: “One who knows the mahadeva [the Great Effulgence or
Shining Being], who is free from the three states [of waking
,dreaming and deep sleep] and merely witnesses them¾that person
is ativarnasrama [beyond castes and the four asrama regulations].
v. 18 & 19: “The regulations concerning varnashrama, which
have been created by maya, pertain only to the body. These things
[the rules] are not applicable to the Atma , awareness of which is an
awakening from ignorance. One who realises this [Atma ] is deemed
to be ativarnasrama .”1
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi once commented that a man who
holds the Self in constant remembrance “...is not concerned with
the right or wrong of actions. His actions are God’s and therefore
1The Mountain Path (Jayanthi Issue) 1991, (p.117).
2 Conscious Immortality¾Paul Brunton, 1984. (p.130).
Atimanasa (atti-man-nassa )
Synon: Asamprajñata samadhi, nirvikalpa, nirb⁄ja, acetana samadhi
Sense: ‘Super mind’; the state of consciousness in which no trace
of ‘mind’ or memory, or mental movement is to be found.
Sense: ‘Beyond the perception of the senses.’
Atita (at-teet-ta )
Sense: ‘Past, or beyond.’
Åtivånika çharira (art-tee-vahn-nikka shyah-reer-rah)
Var: Aativaanika çarira
Sense: ‘The astral body’— a thought-created combination of subtle
particles and psychic elements which form the ‘psychic body,’ in
which one experiences oneself in dreams and out-of-the-body
It is a sharira, or sheath, appearing in human shape, which serves
as a ‘localisation’ of oneself in other dimensions or worlds. In some
cases it is said to persist after the death of the physical body. This
though, may only be a psychological crutch of the departed, who
remain earth-bound and haunt their previous dwellings as ‘ghosts.’
a) In theYoga Vashista, this subject is gone into at length.
Åtma — see Åtman
Åtmabali (aat-mah-bar-lee )
Sense: ‘The ritual offering of oneself, heart and soul, to a deity.’
This is a tantric ritual offering (known as Balidåna) which
usually precedes the practice of homa (the fire ceremony).
Var: Åtma Darshan, aatma-darshan, atmadarsan,
Sense: ‘Sight of the Self ¾ or a glimpse of one’s own true
nature; by realisation of the life force subtly throbbing in the
body as Universal Soul.’
Åtmag¨nas (art-mah-goon-nas )
Sense: ‘Qualities of the Åtma, or Åtman’¾considered to be
kindness to all creatures, freedom from envy, purity, ease, right
conduct, magnanimity and contentment, according to the Gautama-
However, strictly speaking, these are rather qualities that may
be expressed by someone absorbed in Atman, as the Atman or Self
has no qualities as such (other than Sat-chit-ananda). Otherwise it
can only be the positive qualities of the åtman-purusa , or individual
soul, to which it refers.
Var: Aatma-jnana, Åtma-gnana, aatma gyaana
Synon: Åtma Vidya, parabhakti
Sense: ‘Knowledge of God or Self.’
Because of the intensity of parabhakti (supreme devotion),
which culminates in the mergence of the devotee with the
Supreme, this term is considered synonymous with Åtma-jñåna.
Åtmajyoti (aht-mah-jee-yo-tee )
Sense: ‘The light of the soul.’
Var: Aatma, åtmå, aatmaa , atman, aatman, atman,
Synon: Antaråtman (the inner self), Atta (Pali), Brahman, Jeeva,
Jeevan (åtman as individual soul), ruh (Muslim), Self
Sense: ‘The Universal Spirit, Soul or undivided Self.’
Generally taken to mean the individual soul, which is also written
Vedic sages take it to mean the True Self; the indwelling Spirit
and Witness of All; the Spirit that moves the spirit in each
individual being. It is thus the functioning aspect of Brahman. In
early Vedic terminology, Åtman was also a word for OØ (the
Absolute expressed in sound-form) and in ancient times the two
terms were used interchangeably.
It is also known as Paramåtman — the Supreme Soul or Creator,
in order to differentiate between åtman (as individual soul), and the
‘Universal Soul of the Universe’ or Absolute Principle; which is
otherwise known as Self, Brahman or Shivam). With the meaning
of ‘Universal Soul,’ the word is often capitalised as Åtman.
Unfortunately this is not always the case and therefore causes
some confusion as to which aspect of åtman is being referred.
Some scriptures tend to create a fine distinction between åtman
and Brahman: “Brahman is the supreme, the eternal. Åtman is his
Spirit in man.”1 In this distinction the åtman is understood as the
‘vehicle’ between the seemingly separate entity and the Godhead,
but which finally becomes absorbed in the Absolute, whereupon the
Åtman is then realised as having been ‘That’ all along.
Some regard Åtman as the Witness who witnesses both external
phenomena and also the processes of one’s own mind. Others state
that Åtman as the Absolute is beyond witnessing, there being no
longer any ‘person’ to witness anything.
Self-realised Sages maintain that from the absolute viewpoint,
there is actually no such thing as an individual soul. The word ‘in -
dividual’ means ‘that which cannot be divided’ [from its source].
Thus what is assumed as separate, is actually no more than an
‘appearance’ in the Universal Self. Just as a little lump of ice in the
ocean, seems to be something different from the sea, but in fact is
only congealed seawater. When it finally melts it becomes ocean
once again. And it has never been other than ocean. Such is the
nature of that we call ‘soul.’ It is no more than a seeming
‘condensation’ of the ocean of the Self in which we appear as
separate entities in the dream of existence. But on the ‘melting’ of
the sense-of-ego, the ‘separate soul’ will be found to have been the
Self all along.
This realisation, that nothing has ever come into being or
happened, and is only the Åtman appearing as ‘I am’ is known as
According to Çhankaracharya, the philosophy of Advaita
posits three different kinds of åtma : 1) the figurative self
(gaunåtma ), 2) the false self (mithyåtma ) and 3) the real Self
The doctrine of the non-existence of soul is known as anåtman
(no åtma ) as propagated by Mådhyamika Buddhists.
Quotes: a) “Åtman, the self-luminous, through the power of one’s
own maya, imagines in oneself, by oneself (all the objects that the
subject experiences within or without).” 2
b) Åtman is beyond the characteristics of Cosmic forces. Physical,
chemical, atomic, and nuclear actions and reactions cannot cause
action and reaction in Åtman, which is Eternal, devoid of plurality
and multiplicity, pure, changeless, Self-luminous, ever free,
nameless and formless. It is imminent and transcendent in relation
to the world, yet it is not the pluralistic world.” 3
c) “Åtman is [that] awareness and intelligence which gives selfawareness
to thoughts, feelings, emotions, and all other mental
modifications… Åtman stands as Witness only so long as it is
realized through phenomenon, feeling, emotion, expression and all
other mental modifications. Åtman, (Self), vivifies all mental
movements and modifications by its light and awareness. But in
asamprajnata samadhi or nirvikalpa samadhi, these modifications
disappear or are transformed into their witnessing and vivifying
substratum, Self, Åtman. It is not a witness in this state. In this
state it is ‘One without a second.’ For when the objectivity of the
world is melted, transformed into Self, (Brahman) there is no
meaning in speaking of a witness in the absence of a witnessed
Other: a) the divine Monad; the seventh principle in the Septenary
Constitution of Man, according to Theosophy. Thus it is that Spirit
which moves the spirit in each being.
a) Åtmabodha : The Realisation Of The Absolute—by Çhankaracharya (advaitic verses on the
knowledge of Self, in which the allegorical significance of the Ramayana is indicated.
b) Atma-Bodha—Ramana Maharshi, on p.182, in the Collected Works Of Ramana Maharshi , Ed.
Arthur Osborne. (Sri Ramanashramam, 1968).
c) Atma Bodha: Self Analysis & Self Knowledge—Shri Ramamurti Mishra, (CSA Press, Georgia,
USA. 1997). ISBN: 0-87707-190-X.
1 Bhagavad Gita, Ch. 8,v.3.
2 Mandukya Upanishad, Ch.2.v.12,
3 The Textbook of Yoga Psychology—Dr. Ramamurti S. Mishra. M.D. (Julian Press, N.Y.
4 Ibid .
Var: Åtma-jnana, aatmajnaana
Sense: ‘Self-Knowledge, Knowledge of the Self.’ Åtma—self,
Åtmånaø Viddhi (art-mar-nam vid-dhee )
Sense: ‘Know the Self’ (as the Aristotelian ‘Know thyself’).
Var: Åtma-ni‚†ah, atmanishta
Synon: Abedha Nishta, Sahaja Samadhi, Bråhm⁄-sthiti, Selfrealisation
Sense: ‘Unificatory abidance in the Self:’ the state in which the
movement of ‘mind’ is stilled when lost in the Self (as water is
lost when poured into milk).
Åtma Nivedana (art-mah niv-ved-dar-nah)
Synon: Åtman-usandhana, aatmanusandhana
Sense: ‘Self-surrender (to the Lord).’
In this kind of experience, the devotee has no will of his
own. His whole being is given up to God, like a puppet in the
hands of the Lord. Whatevers happens for good or ill, is the gift
of God, but he is not attached to whatever happens. He has no
sense of duty, as God is attending to everything and his guiding
presence is continually felt. He has no personal feeling of
identity as he has lost it immersed in God.
Åtmanusandhana (art-mah-nus-san-dhanna )
Var: Åtman-usandhana, aatmanusandhana
Sense: ‘Constancy in the Self;’ the practice of unbroken and
vigilant Self-awareness, which ultimately leads to Oneness with
Var: atman-vesana, aatmanveshana,
Sense: ‘The quest of one’s Self’— inward inquiry (or atma
Sense: ‘Love of the individual self; self-love’ and also ‘love of
the Atman or True Self.’
Sense: ‘The state of Being; of existing as the Self.’
Var: Atmasakshatkaram, Atma-sakshatkara
Synon: Jñånanubhuti, Moksha
Sense: ‘Self-realisation (or God-Realisation); the experience of
True knowledge,’ being constant abidance in the Self as a result
of Divine Grace.
Åtma-çhuddhi (art-mah-syhoo-dhee )
Synon: citta-çhuddhi (purification of mindstuff)
Sense: ‘Self-purification:’ cleansing the accretions of the spirit
by contemplative observation; watching dispassionately the
thoughts arising in the consciousness and watching them
evaporate without taking any part in them. Thus used
synonymously with citta (mindstuff) çhuddhi (purification).
Var: aatmasthana, atma-sthana
Sense: ‘The place of the Atman, soul or Self;’ pertaining to the
right side of the chest in the human body.
Var: Atmasvarupa, aatma-swaroopa, atmaswar¨p
Synon: Mauna, Hridayam (the Heart of existence and nonexistence).
Sense: ‘One’s true nature or true form.’
Åtma designates the Self, and swarupa the ‘form’ or real
nature of the Self. Sages sometimes use maunam (the silence of
Being) synonymously. Where the word ‘Heart’ is used, it mean
one’s ‘heart of hearts’ or what actually constitutes one’s sense
of Being — the Self.
Åtma Vichara (art-ma vee-char-rah)
Var: Atmavichara, aatmavichara,
Synon: Atman-vesana, aatmanveshana, Anthara Vichara (Inner
Sense: ‘Self investigation or inquiry’— the constant and aware
investigation of the source within consciousness from which
one’s own sense of ‘I’ occurs.
This is the meditative practice suggested by the
contemporary sage Sri Ramana Maharshi (of Tiruvannamalai)
who counselled seekers to enquire “Who am I, to whom these
thoughts, sensations, experiences occur?” That is, not to repeat
like a parrot, ‘Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?’ but to enter
deeply into oneself and experience ‘who’ it is (beyond the
thoughts and emotions) who is angry, or empty or suffering,
rather than continue asking the question. The gradual awareness
that there is a ‘Witness Consciousness’ in the background
observing all these surface changes, leads one to the Real Self,
which remains always as it is.
Var: aatmavidya, aatma-vidyaa, atmavidya, (atmavid)
Synon: Åtma-jnana, Åtma-gnana
Sense: ‘Knowledge of God or Self-Knowledge.’
Bib: a) Atma-Vidya, Adi Shankaraycharya.
Sense: ‘Eternal current of spiritual transmission from Guru to
Augha is a Tantric term, signifying the perennial flow of
spiritual teaching from God (Shiva) to Guru and from Guru to
Lit: ‘Flood, current.’
a) “To this perpetual hierarchy of continuous guidance, the Tantra
gives the name augha, which means flood or current. It is the flood
of truth and knowledge, constantly on the move washing away all
falsehood and ignorance. It sustains and cherishes the aspirant with
its divine waters, apo devih. Any true aspirant cannot help being
caught in this flood….
“The aughas are three in number, divyaugha, siddhaugha and
månavaugha. The divyaugha are the Divine guides who watch over
the destiny of the human race with constant vigilance and
unbounded compassion. The siddhaughas are the Accomplished or
Perfected ones, the semi-divine Guides, who by their dint of effort
have become Siddhas and thus competent to guide others. Puranic
figures like Sanaka and Narada come under this category. The
månavaughas are the human Guides like Durvasa and Agastaya,
who are near and ready to assist the struggling humanity. The
eternal Teacher, the Primordial Guru, ådi nåtha, has in him all the
knowledge he has to transmit in the seed-form. He holds in himself
concentrated, in a potential form, all knowledge and consciousness.
He is stationed in the bindu, in the seed, full of creative power.
When he wants to radiate out of himself, when he desires to break
the bunds* of his self-contained ocean of knowledge and flood the
universe, he becomes Shiva and Shakti, the three bindus forming
the primary triangle.”1 […of the mystic diagram of the cosmos, Sri
*bunds are mud banks built up around paddy-fields, in order to channel the flow of
water to the places required.
Refs: 1Sri Chakra—S. Shankaranarayana, p.p.65-6 (Dipti Pub. Aurobindo Ashram 1970/1979)
Var: Auøkara, Om, Oø, O™, Omkara, (Ohm), Ogham (Irish)
Synon: Atman (Vedic tradition), pranava, Logos (Greek), the Word
(Christian), Shabd (Sikh), Ganesha (symbolic representation)
Sense: ‘The Omnipresence (Brahman) manifesting as subtle sound
bringing the universe into manifestation and maintaining it.’
The Aum is composed of three mantric phonemes—A,U, and M,
which express the totality of existence; A—is considered to
represent the state of waking consciousness, U—is the condition of
dreaming consciousness, and M—is the state of dreamless sleep (the
awareless condition of undifferentiated consciousness). These
three letters have had a countless number of other ‘meanings’
attributed to them down the ages, according to the fancy of various
scholars and sages. There is no need to take them all on board as
When chanted—meaning ‘intoned’—the ‘A’ is absorbed by the
inbreath and coalesces with the ‘U’ and ‘M’ to create the sound of
Om. The silent reverberation of the ether following the nasalised
sound of ‘M’ develops into a drawn out ‘nnnn ,’ representing the
consummation of transcendental consciousness.
Auøkara or Omkara means ‘the sound of Om.’
Om is the Primal Sound, which is deemed to have brought the
universe into manifestation, by stirring the primoridal ethers. It
created all visible forms, sustaining them and keeping them in
perpetual vibratory motion. It is also known as the Pranåva—the
‘ever-fresh’ sound of the Primal Energy that underlies all existence
and still sings on today.
Practitioners of the Shabda Yoga path of meditation can hear this
subtle sound in consciousness, calling it Nad, Nada or Nadam, as
does the tradition of the Vedas. It is considered to bring about an
ecstasy of God-intoxication or deep meditation in those who tune
into this ‘Voice’ or ‘Song of God.’
This inner sound is called Shabd by many present-day sages who
teach concentration on this ‘eternal sound-current’or Nam—
meaning ‘Name’ or Sound of God. The Mohammedans know it as
Kalma—the Inner Sound, or Ism-i-Azam—the Greatest Name or
Word, and the divine Hoo of the Sufis is also related to this.
However, the intoned or chanted Aum is a totally different sound
from the internally heard pranava , but is such that constant
repetition will harmonise one’s whole body and mind in tune with
the Cosmic Om and lead one to the ultimate state of consciousnessexistence-
bliss. By constant intonation, the Om assists in the
reduction of mental problems and engenders as sense of well-being
and unification with the Source.
It is the holiest, most revered and most powerful mantra of the
Vedic and Tantric scriptures, representing the totality of all sounds
and the music of the ‘spheres’.
It is regarded as the Mahamantra—the Greatest Mantra of all
mantrams of the Vedic tradition, and as such is sounded before all
other chants and also at the end. When a student of Mantra Yoga
has developed far enough along the path, he is allowed to drop all
the other supplementary mantras and retain only the Aum.
a) “One syllable shines forever in the heart as Self.
Who is there anywhere who can write it down?
Incantation reaching the Source of sound
is the best course for those who are not firm
in Consciousness, which is the source of the I.”
—Ramana Maharshi 1
b) “Aum is the one indestructible sound, the Immensity. He who
abandons the body, his mind intent upon me, uttering the syllable
Aum, attains the supreme purpose of his destiny.”
c) “Aum is the one eternal syllable of which all that exists is but
the development. The past, present and future are all included in
this one sound, and all that exists beyond the forms of time is also
implied in the word Aum. Aum is the Self—Atman indeed. He who
knows this, with his self enters the Self.”
—Mandukya Upanishad (1.1.12)
d) “Aum did originate the worlds. Aum too is the truth of
involution.” —Natchintanai (260) by Saint Yogaswami
e) “In the beginning was Prajapati, the Brahman; with whom was
the Word; and the Word was verily the Supreme Brahman.”
f) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God;
and the Word was God.” — John (Revelation)
Bib: a) Mandukya Upanishad — for explanation of the Aum.
1 ‘Nine Stray Verses’ from The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi —Ed. Arthur Osborne.
Sense: ‘Pertaining to the Upanishads ’ (adjectival form).
Aushadi (or-shad-dhee or aw-shaddee )
Sense: ‘The use of herbs in the awakening of Kundalini.’
Sense: ‘Beyonds words, inexpressible, the unspeakable;’ in
reference to Brahman in the Upanishads.
Avadhoota — see Avadh¨ta
Var: Avadhut, avadhoota, avadhoot
Sense: ‘An advanced spiritual adept or yogi.’
Lit: ‘Shaken off’ (thus, one who has shaken off all worldly
attachments, desires, cares, passions and possessions’). Ava , off, or
down, dhu , to shake off, plus the suffix ta .
Hence, a naked ascetic of a very high order, who has attained
the state of God-identification and shaken off all attachments to the
world. A yogi of this calibre is deemed beyond all social and caste
injunctions or religious and temporal prohibitions.
The marks of a yogi who has achieved this condition are
eulogised in a slender volume known as the Avadhuta G⁄ta , which
consists of eight chapters of verse praising the Divine Self and its
all-pervasive characteristics. The Avadhuta Gita is attributed to the
legendary rishi Dattatreya (Master of all Yogis), but the actual
author is unknown. It is not a manual of instruction, but is essentially
a song (g⁄ta) of praise for the avadhuta condition.
The text explains the deeper significance of a-va-dhu-ta, by the
four syllables of which it is composed. The letter ‘a’ signifies—
‘free from all desires, hopes and passions and dwelling in purity
and bliss.’ The syllable ‘va ’ indicates—‘free from all desirous
tendencies and impressions; being ever-in-the-present-moment and
of wholesome speech; ‘dhu’ means—‘whose limbs are covered in
dust and ashes, but whose mind is purified and established in the
Supreme.’ And ‘ta’ means—‘centred in the Supreme reality or
truth, being freed from all thoughts, striving and sense-of-ego.’
A female avadh¨t is known as an avadh¨t⁄ (avva-dhoo-tee ). The
word, sometimes shortened to ‘dhuti ,’ is also a term in the secret
language of the Tantras, used to indicate the central psychic nerve
path (Brahma Nadi) within Sushumna in the spinal column, along
which the sinuous kundalini energy travels.
a) “An avadhuta feels no need of observing any rules, secular or
religious. He seeks nothing, avoids nothing. He has neither
knowledge nor ignorance. Having realised that he is the infinite
Self, he lives in that vivid realisation. Dattatreya the supreme Adi-
Guru, or Lord of the Yogis, is a symbol of realisation. Whoever the
unknown composer of the Avadhuta Gita might have been, he must
himself have been a man of the highest spiritual perception.” 1
b) The four-headed Brahma went and asked the father of all worlds,
Adi-Naråyana, thus: What is the path for the Avadhuta? What is his
state of mind?
“Then Naråyana, the supreme god and the God worshipped by
Brahma himself, said: The one who follows the path of the
Avadhuta is, indeed, the rarest being in this world. He is not a
multifaceted one. He is uni-faced. That is, he embodies the one
supreme truth or essence. The Avadhuta is an eternal friend; he is
the very embodiment of Renunciation (vairagya). He is the very
form of renunciation. He is the manifest form of supreme
knowledge (Jñåna). The wise ones consider him as the
Vedapurusha, the one the Vedas declare as the ideal. He who is like
this supreme person or mahatma has his mind and consciousness
fixed on me. I, too, remain resided in him.
“He realises the fact that the entire universe conditioned by the
pancha jnanendriyas (Eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin) as in
substantial and renouncing the staff (Danda), the pot (Kamandala),
the thread round the waist (Molathradu), and the loin cloth
(Kaupina) by throwing into water, remains naked (digambara - one
who has the four directions of the earth itself as garment). He is
always meditating on the Supreme Brahman wanders about at will.
He gives up cutting hair, oil bath and the holy marks on the
forehead and transcends good and evil (pairs of opposites),
Knowledge and ignorance, vice and virtue, heat and cold, distress
and delight, fame and infamy and conquers all evil qualities such as
lust (Kama), anger (Krodha), greed (Lobha), delusion or infatuation
(Moha), arrogance (Mada), jealousy (Matsara).
“He burns the three vasanas: the consciousness of the body
(Dehavasana), of the world (Lokavasana), of knowledge
(sastravasana). He is happy and satisfied with whatever he gets and
for the sake of realising the true form of his Self, he burns all the
world which behaves on the basis of knowledge from scholarship.
He recognises the world as functioning on the basis of the five
senses and the knowledge derived there by as ignorance, as avidya.
Having subjected the dualities of small and great to forgetfulness,
he builds within his Self, which is supreme, above everything else,
excellent and the in-dwelling self of all the non-dual consciousness.
But he does not get deluded in this non-dual state and transcends
through awareness of his self the fact that there is nothing that is
antagonistic to the Self, Atman, and thus finds no need for a cave
(for austerities), fuel for cooking etc., (any worldly possession
made of five elements).
“Having given up any inclination or want for any desire, he
does not feel delighted by happiness or depressed by sorrow or
consider something as auspicious and something else as
inauspicious. With that state of consciousness he does not cling to
the senses or sensate enjoyment. He thereby remains stable, even in
all the states of sleep or awaking and hardly cognises distinctions of
caste, creed etc., He is always awake and in the state of alertness
and thus remains in the world only because he has a body.
“Just as a child delights (in himself) with out any reason, the
Avadhuta in his behaviour is like a child (bala), a madman
(unmatta) or a demon (pisacha) and roams around with their
temperament. Because of getting immersed in meditation of his
own blissful form, he roams about like demon and remains
unrecognized, in his real nature by anyone. Since he is successful in
the abidance of his real Self—since he has that knowledge—in the
state of Turiya, beyond the states of waking, dream, and deep sleep,
he is recognised by scriptures as an Avadhuta .
“He is an Avadhuta, an accomplished one since he has succeeded
in achieving whatever is to be achieved: that is, realization of and
abidance in the self.” 2
Refs: 1 from the Foreword of Avadhuta Gita—Tr. Swami Ashokananda (Ramakrishna Math,
2 Source unknown.
Åvåhana (ah-vah-han-na )
Sense: ‘Invocation of God’—a part of the traditional Sixteen
Steps of worship in Mantra Yoga when propitiating a diety. (cf.
Avalokiteswara (ava-lo-kit-esh-war-ra )
Synon: Chenrezig, [spyan-ras-gzigs : Tibetan]
Sense: ‘The Buddha of Compassion and patron deity of Tibet.’
Chen means ‘eye;’ re —is ‘the corner of the eye’ and zig
means ‘to see.’ Thus even from the corner of his eyes the
Compassionate Buddha sees the needs of all beings. Hence his
name is translated as ‘He who gazes upon the world with tearful
As with Shiva in Bengal, his female half or consort, is the
tantric goddess Tara.
Åvarana (ah-var-ran-na )
Sense: ‘The ‘Veil of Ignorance’— i.e., the obscuring power of
maya, that ‘veil’ which covers awareness of reality, or that which
prevents one from seeing things as they are. (Vedic).
Åvarana Devatas are therefore the female deities representing
the attributes or emanations of the principal archetypal goddess in
the centre of a yantra, protectively surrounding and thereby
‘veiling’ her ‘as filmy cloud covers the sun.’
Other: a) Covered and concealed. b) An enclosure; guarded from
Avasthå (a-vash-tar )
Synon: Jågrat Avasthå
Sense: ‘A state or condition.’
The Four Avasthås are the 4 states of consciousness. The main
three—the waking state (jågrat); the dreaming state (Svapna) and
the dreamless state of deep sleep (su‚hupti)—are known as Avastha
Traya , the three states of consciousness. The fourth state— turiya—
being beyond all three is that of divine consciousness (sometimes
rendered as samadhi).
Var: avataara, avatar, avatarana
Sense: ‘An enlightened being as an ‘incarnation’ or representation
Avatar literally means ‘a coming down, or descent’— meaning the
descent of the Divine into the human plane or into ones own being.
From ava—off or down + tr—to traverse, or descend (into the
manifested world). Therefore ‘incarnation’ is an implied
translation of the term. And the notion of ‘descent’ is also
inadmissible since there is no heavenly ‘up’ to ‘descend’ from.
The Absolute has no up-down-or-sideways, it just IS.
Traditionally, an avatara or avatar , is considered to be one of the
visible-material forms of a specific god of the Hindu Pantheon.
Such gods are said to manifest in times of worldly strife, in diverse
forms, according to the needs of the time. Thus some of the
avataras , or avatars , of the God Vishnu (the Preserver) for instance,
take the form of animals, or a fish, or in one instance—a dwarf, or a
human prince (as Rama , hero of the Ramayana, or as Krishna (the
godly guru of Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita). Even Dattatreya—the
Seer-Sage venerated as God by the Avadhutas—is claimed by
Vaishnavaites to be one of the manifestations of Vishnu, although
Avadhutas relate him as a manifestation of Shiva . Another name
for avatar is vibhuti.
Beings that come into incarnation are known as ‘dehi’—
embodied, as deha means ‘body.’ Rather, the avatara is symbolic of
human existence penetrated by the Divine, since every being in
creation is a manifested form of the one Godhead, attempting to
realise its own origin, whether consciously or not, while acting out
its part in the Cosmic Drama. When human consciousness comes to
realise that it is only playing a part, and ceases to identify itself
with the role being played, its own avatarhood is revealed, and the
Divine Play ( lila) is experienced as playing itself through what
appears to be an individual, but is in reality the Self of all selves.
Vedanta declares that every manifestation of life is an incarnation
of Brahman, with such affirmations as Ayam Atma Brahman, Tat
tvam Asi, Aham Brahman Asmi, etc. But the Puranas restrict the
word to those beings in which the manifestation is most prominent.
Vishnu is variously said to have 10 or 20 or more avataras.
However, in present-day India, Avatars are ten for a rupee.
Everyone and his grandmother who dons a saffron robe or has a
white beard suddenly becomes an‘avatar ’ to his disciples. There
seems to be little capacity for discrimination in the starry-eyed
followers, who take on board this wildly inflated notion that their
particular ‘guru’ cultivates about his or her person.
If such teachers are Avatars , then we are all Avatars, having
‘come through’ from the Divine. But what need have we of other
‘Avatars’ when we have a direct link to the Divine, or the Divinity
a) “Pseudo-Avataras are abundant today. They crop up like
mushrooms. Their disciples proudly advertise them as Bhagawans,
torch-bearers, perfect masters, Thakurs and adepts in order to
collect money and build Ashrams for thier own comfortable living.
They fall quickly. All that glitters in not gold. People have now lost
faith in these charlatans.”1
b) Women can, indeed, become saints and Sadgurus; but the Avatar
always appears as a male.”— Meher Baba .2
This statement is difficult to reconcile with an increasing number
of women gurus all over India presently affirming their Avatarhood
1 Bhakti Yoga — Swami Vivekananda (Advaita Ashram, Almora, Himalayas. 1964)
2 God to Man and Man to God—The Discourses of Meher Baba , Ed. C.B. Purdom (Sheriar Press,
USA. 1975/1984) ISBN: 0-913078-21-2.
Var: Avicaara, avichåra
Sense: ‘Inattention’ (to the Self).
The Vedas proclaim that the appearance of the world occurs
because of inattention to the source of one’s being, the Self.
Avidvas (av-vid-vass )
Sense: ‘Lacking in knowledge; ritualists and non-meditators.’
Vidvas means a ‘meditator,’ classed as a ‘knower’ (of the true
path) by virtue of the fact that he or she is seeking experience of
the Self. Hence a-vidvas is someone ignorant of this practice
and who contents themselves with ritualistic means.
Var: aavidya, avidyaa,
Synon: Ajñåna, ma rig-pa (Tib.)
Sense: ‘Primal Ignorance;’— specifically, spiritual ignorance or
nescience, in which the non-eternal is taken for reality and the
Reality (that which is Eternal) is ignored as the substratum of
Root: Å-vidya — literally ‘non-knowledge’ as opposed to vidya —
Although generally rendered as ‘ignorance’ avidya is not
ignorance in the common worldly sense, but rather incorrect
knowledge or incorrect perception. It denotes a deluded way of
looking at the world, much as a primitive might be deluded into
thinking a film is actually the reality taking place before him.
Similarly, avidya is the failure to perceive that the world is
projected onto the Reality (the abiding Eternal principle) as a
film is projected upon a screen.
According to the Vedantic philosophy of the Upanishads,
avidya is responsible for the perception of the multiplicity of
the world as the reality, being an illusion, which comes to an
end when one attains Self-knowledge. Anything that comes to
an end cannot be the Ultimate Reality, but is only a ‘relative
reality’ for the time being. The world can be perceived in many
ways, each way being true in itself from a relative point of
view. But to view it without being aware of the substratum—or
Brahman—which sustains it all, is avidya. The complimentary
condition is known as Vidya — the capacity to see the
underlying unity beneath the seeming paradox of appearances.
Quotes: In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (Chapter 2, V.5) avidya
is described as follows: “Ignorance is accepting the non-eternal
as the eternal, the impure as pure, the painful as pleasurable, the
not-self as Self.” 1
1 The Textbook of Yoga Psychology, Rammurti S. Mishra M.D. (Julian Press Inc. N.Y. 1963)
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Avishesha (ah-vee-shesh-sha )
Sense: ‘General, not specific:’ being the inability to discriminate
between pure consciousness and reflected consciousness we call
Sense: ‘Ignorance’— the identification of consciousness with
Avyakta (av-yak-ta )
Synon: Avyakta Akhanda
Sense: ‘Unmanifested substance; fundamental force — meaning the
unmanifested state of nature before creation.
A —without, vyakta —manifestation. As opposed to vyakta—
Avyakta Akhanda is the Unmanifest Infinite.
Avyaya (av-yay-ya or av-yayya )
Sense: ‘Unchangeable, immutable.’
Avyayavas (av-yai-ya-vaz )
Sense: ‘Fifteen psycho-physiological functions’ in human receptive
capacity; namely, the five organs of knowledge: (the jñånendriyas,
or senses); the five organs of action (karmendriyas) and the five
vital airs (prå~as).
In the diagrammatic Kål⁄ Yantra of tantrism, the fifteen points of
the five concentric inverted triangles represent the avayayas ,
infused with Kål⁄’s energies, to be mentally absorbed into the body
of whoever worships her through the yantra.
Sense: ‘A psychic subtle nerve-current or nadi, descending from
bindu (a point at the back of the crown) to ajna chakra, down
through the spinal sushumna, passing through all chakral nodes and
ending in muladhara. (Said to relate to the yin passage in Chinese
Ayüdha Puja (ai-yood-dhah poo-jah)
Var: Ayoodha Pooja,
Sense: ‘Sanctification ceremony’—the ritual blessing of tools.
A ceremony sanctifying all implements of labour, i.e., spades,
pitchforks, trowels, tools, study-books, pens, rulers, typewriters,
surgical instruments, mechanical devices, car parts, lathes, ploughs,
shop-tills, etc. All working tools are set aside once a year,
decorated with flowers and fruit (symbols of bountifulness) and are
dedicated to a benevolent deity in worshipful prayer, for grace,
guidance and good fortune for the coming working year. This
occurs on the last day of the Hindu month Navaratri (around 5th
October) and can be seen occurring in shops and city offices as well
as on building sites or in country farmyards.
Sense: ‘Knowledge of Life’—an ancient philosophical-medical
science of healing and the understanding of universal and
individual existence, derived from many sources but mainly
drawn from the Samkhya philosophical system of Creation.
Root: Ayur (ayus)— life, veda — knowledge: taken together it
means ‘Science of life’. However, in a limited sense, it is
commonly construed to mean the ‘Science of Medicine’.
It is based on the study of the five elements —earth, air, ether,
fire, water —and their ratios in all things, which determine their
nature or constitution. Combinations of the elements constitute the
three doshas or humours: 1) Kapha (water and earth elements)
create conditions whose characteristics are heavy, cold, oily, slow,
dull, slimy, dense, soft, static or sweet. 2) Pitta (fire and water)
create conditions that are light, hot, oily, sharp, liquid, sour,
pungent. 3) Vata (air and ether) whose characteristics are light,
cold, dry, rough, subtle, mobile, clear, dispersing, erratic and
These diagnostic characteristics can be applied to human
constitutions, to animals, birds, fish and reptiles, to foods and
substances and all observable phenomena.
Quotes: Charaka, author of the classic Ayurvedic treatise, has
defined Ayurveda as: “The Science through the help of which one
can obtain knowledge about the useful and harmful types of life
(hita and ahita ayus ), happy and miserable types of life, things
which are useful and harmful for such type of life, the span of life
as well as the very nature of life.”1
1) Ayurveda Chikitsa — The Classic treatise by Charaka.
2) Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing — Dr.Vasant Lad (Lotus Press, Santa Fe, 1984.)
3) The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine — Dr. David Frawley & Dr.
Vasant Lad (Lotus Press, 1986).
4) Ayurvedic Healing: A Comprehensive Guide — Dr. David Frawley (Twin lakes, WI, USA.
5) Ayurveda and the Mind: The Healing of Consciousness — Dr. David Frawley (Twin lakes,
WI, USA. 1997)
Refs: 1The Origins of Ayurveda (Delhi Diary Journal . Reprinted in Yoga Today July 1981.) *