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That which is "not dharma"-- thoughts, words and deeds which transgress God's divine laws and the natural conscience of the soul. Adharma creates negative karma and keeps the individual ego-centered, in a low instinctive/intellectual mind state.

ahimsa: "Noninjury." Ahimsa is refraining from causing harm to others, physically, mentally or emotionally. Ahimsa is the first and most important of the ten yamas of ashtanga yoga, the cardinal virtue upon which all others depend.

akasha: "Non-visible." Inner sky, or ether. A broad term referring to the "fifth element" of the physical plane (earth, air, fire, water and akasha), perceived as the rarified space or fluid plasma that pervades the universe. Even more subtly, akasha names the inner mind or superconscious stratum. It is through psychic penetration into the akasha that great cosmic knowledge is gathered and the entire circle of time, past, present and future can be known.

all-pervasive: Diffused throughout, or existing in every part of the universe, said of God Siva.

anava: The ego, sense of "I" and "mine," ignorance; separation from God. Denotes a sense of finitude and individuality. Derived from the word "anu" meaning an atom or something exceedingly small. One of the three malas or bondages: anava, karma and maya. Anava is the cause of the soul's mistaken sense of separation from God Siva, and the last bond broken at union or Self-Realization.

anma: The Tamil equivalent of atma (Sanskrit), anma names the soul, including the individual soul body and its essence, Satchidananda and Parasivam, in contrast with the outer self of individuality and personality with which a person commonly identifies.

aparigraha: "Non-desiring." The spiritual practice of disciplining the instinctive qualities of desire and greed. Aparigraha is the fifth of five yamas, or ethical practices, listed by sage Patanjali in his 2,200-year-old Yoga Sutras. (Note that aparigraha is not among the ten yamas listed in other scriptures.)

arati: Flame, usually ghee, camphor or oil lamps, waved before a holy person or the temple Deity image at the height of a puja as a means of psychically catalyzing the flow of shakti. The lamp is then passed to all devotees present, each one passing his hands through the flame and bringing it to his eyes, thereby receiving the blessings or shakti. Also refers to the performance of such rites. Arati may also constitute an abbreviated form of puja.

arjava: "Honesty." Justness, firmness, and honesty all describe the quality of arjava. It is the restraint, yama, of wrongdoing and deception.

asana: "Seat or posture." Positions or postures used in hatha yoga and meditation; the third stage of the ashtanga (eight-limbed) yoga system codified in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and discussed in numerous other scriptures. Padmasana ("lotus" or cross-legged pose) is a famed example, though many other postures exist which balance the energies of mind and body, promoting both health and serenity. Asana may also refer to the mat or place on which one sits during meditation. An important dimension of Natha sadhana.

ascetic: A person who leads a life of contemplation and rigorous self-denial for religious purposes.

ashram: "A place of striving." Holy sanctuary; abode or residence of a sadhu, saint, ascetic or guru who is engaged in religious instruction. May be a simple place where a guru and his disciples reside, a monastery or a communal institution with schools, guest houses, publishing facilities, charitable enterprises, etc.

ashrama dharma: That dharma (way of righteousness) which expresses the natural unfoldment of the body, mind and emotions through four stages of life: student, householder, elder advisor and religious solitaire.

ashrama: Any of the four stages into which a person's life is divided according to Vedic teachings.

ashtanga yoga: "Eight-limbed union." The classical raja yoga system of eight progressive stages or steps as described in numerous Hindu scriptures including various Upanishads, the Tirumantiram by Saint Tirumular and the Yoga Sutras of Sage Patanjali. The eight limbs are: restraints (yama), observances (niyama), postures (asana), breath control (pranayama), sense withdrawal (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana) and contemplation (samadhi).

asteya: "Nonstealing." Neither stealing nor coveting nor entering into debt. Among the traditional yamas, asteya is restraint of avarice and greed.

astikya: "Faith." Among the traditional niyamas, or ethical practices, of ashtanga yoga, astikya is faith in God, Gods, guru and the path to enlightenment.

astral: "Of the stars." Belonging to the subtle, non-physical dimension of the Second World. "Astral forces" exist in the Second World but can be felt psychically in the First.

astral body: "Body of the stars." Sometimes known as the emotional body, the astral body is the third most dense of the five interpenetrating bodies or sheaths (known in Sanskrit as koshas), through which the soul functions. The five bodies are: physical (annamayakosha), pranic (pranamayakosha), astral (manomayakosha), mental (vijnamayakosha) and causal (anandamayakosha). The astral body functions in the astral plane or Second World (Devaloka).

astral plane: The subtle, non-physical plane or Devaloka, the second of three primary worlds, or lokas, which include the Bhuloka (First World, or physical plane) and the Sivaloka (Third World, or causal plane).

Aum: Mystic syllable of Hinduism, identified in the Upanishads as standing for the whole world and its parts, including past, present and future, as well as for Paramatma, the Self of all things. "Aum" is the seed sound, the one undifferentiated primal vibration from which all manifestation issues forth. Associated with Lord Ganesha. Pronounced: "ah" "oo" "mm."

aura: A subtle, luminous energy field radiating within and around the human body as far as 3-7 feet. That part of the aura which surrounds the head is often represented by artists as a nimbus or halo to depict saints and enlightened beings. Though awakened souls have more brilliant and pure auras, everyone has an aura. Seen psychically, the aura is filled with many colors which are reflections of the thoughts and emotions active in the nervous system and change according to the person's state of mind.

austerities: Practices of strict self-discipline & self-denial.

awareness: Individual consciousness, perception, knowing. In the teachings of Saiva Siddhanta Church, awareness describes the soul's ability to sense, see or know. When awareness is aware only of itself and of no object, it merges into Pure Consciousness, Satchidananda.

bhakta: A devotee (same as bhaktar).

bhakti: Devotion; the expression of love for and surrender to God.

Bhuloka: The physical world perceived through the five senses. Also called the First World.

brahmachari: An unmarried man and spiritual aspirant who practices continence, observes religious disciplines, including sadhana, devotion, service and teaching, and who may be under simple vows.

brahmacharini: An unmarried, female spiritual aspirant who practices continence, observes certain disciplines, often relating to devotion, service and teaching children, and who may be under simple vows.

brahmachariya: "Godly conduct." Brahmachariya, among the ethical restraints known as the yamas, means sexual purity--the restraint of lust and other aspects of the instinctive nature. In its strictest application, brahmachariya is celibacy, complete sexual abstinence, as practiced by monastics and advised for all persons prior to marriage. Thus, the first phase of life, until age twenty-five, is called the brahmachariya ashrama, a time of studentship and transmutation of sexual energies into intellectual and spiritual concerns. In a broader sense, householders practice the sexual purity of brahmachariya by remaining faithful in marriage.

Brahman: A name for God or Supreme Deity in the Vedas. Descriptions of Brahman include the Transcendent Absolute, the All-Pervading energy, as well as the Supreme Lord or Primal Soul. Brahman is thus equivalent to God Siva in one or all three perfections.

Buddhism: The religion based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, known as Buddha. He refuted the idea of man's having an immortal soul and did not preach of any Supreme Deity. Instead he taught that man should seek freedom from greed, hatred and delusion, and enlightenment through realizing the Four Noble Truths and following the Eightfold Path. The Four Noble Truths are: the fact of suffering, the origin of suffering, the annihilation of suffering, and the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path comprises: Right Views, Right Aspirations, Right Speech, Right Conduct, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Meditation. Buddhism migrated out of India, the country of its origin, and now enjoys a following of roughly 300 million, mostly in Asia.

celibacy: Complete sexual abstinence. Also the state of a person who has vows to remain unmarried.

chakra: "Wheel." A center of force and consciousness located within the inner bodies of man. Nerve plexes, ganglia and glands corresponding to principle chakras are located in the physical body, situated along the spinal cord from the base into the cranial chamber. Seven principle chakras, psychically seen as colored and multi-petalled lotuses, are commonly described, though many more exist.

conscience: The inherent knowledge or sense of right and wrong. Our conscience is the innate wisdom of our soul, along with all we have learned from our past lives.

conscious: Aware, sentient, able to feel and think; the ordinary waking state.

conscious mind: The everyday, thinking state of mind. We function in the conscious mind during most of our waking hours. One of the five states of mind: conscious, subconscious, sub-subconscious, sub-superconscious & superconscious.

consciousness: Perception, awareness, apprehension. There are many layers or levels of consciousness ranging from the ordinary, every-day consciousness of our body and mind to omniscient states of superconsciousness. Consciousness aware only of itself is Pure Consciousness.

creed: An authoritative formulation of the beliefs of a religion, a community and, by extension, an individual. A creed is meant to summarize the specific teachings or articles of faith, to embody and thus protect and transmit the beliefs. Creeds have arisen historically when a religion was transplanted from its country or region of origin to a new culture. Saiva Siddhanta Church's creed has twelve beliefs and an Affirmation of Faith.

dana: "Giving." A traditional niyama, ethical practice, dana is charity, giving creatively without thought of reward, including tithing and feeding the poor.

daya: "Compassion." Among the traditional yamas, moral restraints, daya is conquering callous, cruel and insensitive feelings toward all beings.

Deity: "God." Can refer to the image or murthi installed in a temple or to the Mahadeva whom the murthi represents.

deva: "Shining one." A Second World being living in the higher astral plane.

Devaloka: The higher Second World, wherein souls take on astral or mental bodies; deep within the First World.

devotee: A person strongly dedicated to something or someone, such as to a God or a guru. Often used interchangeably with disciple, though the latter term generally implies a deeper commitment.

dharma: Divine law; the law of being; defined broadly as the way of righteousness or "that which holds one's true nature." The fulfillment of an inherent nature or destiny. To "follow dharma" means to act in accordance with divine law.

dhriti: "Steadfastness, constancy." Among the traditional yamas, dhriti is overcoming non-perseverance, fear, indecision and changeableness, keeping the mind and emotions steady through all circumstances.

emanation: To "flow out from." In Saiva Siddhanta philosophy, God Siva creates and is His creation. Siva's creation of the world from Himself is described in scripture as being similar to "sparks issuing forth from fire" or "a web from a spider." This vision of cosmic creation contrasts with other views such as "creation out of nothing" (Judeo/Christian), or non-creation--a view in which reality is permanent and always existing (Meykandar Saiva Siddhanta and other dualist and pluralist schools).

ether: Word used most often to translate akasha. Most subtle of the five elements (earth, air, water, fire and ether) which make up the physical universe. Invisible essence which pervades all form and all other elements. In a broader sense etheric refers to the non-physical spheres (as in "inner ethers").

First World: The physical universe of gross or material substance in which phenomena are perceived by the five senses.

Ganesha: A Mahadeva or great God created by Lord Siva to assist souls in their evolution. The elephant-faced Patron of Art and Science, first Son of Siva, Remover of Obstacles.

Gods: Mahadevas, "Great Beings of Light." Extremely advanced beings existing in their self-effulgent soul bodies in the Sivaloka. Originally created by Siva, as all souls are, Gods have evolved to a constant superconsciousness as they govern, advance and assist all worlds. Gods are genderless, neither male nor female, but pure kundalini-energy beings.

grace: "Benevolence, love." Central religious concept denoting God's innate quality of giving and caring for creation. In Saiva Siddhanta, grace is both general and specific. In the general or cosmic sense, Siva's functions of veiling and revealing are termed grace--like a dutiful parent guiding the growth of a child, concealing that which the child is not prepared to face and revealing or teaching that which it needs to know to progress in life. In the specific or microcosmic sense, grace may be defined as receiving a gift from God, often as a result of spiritual striving or as a response to the devotee's love. It is bestowed upon those who are consistent in their spiritual discipline, bhakti and devotion, though what is attained by grace cannot be attained by any other means. For example, by his own efforts a yogi can obtain great control over his mind, but the final Self-Realization can only occur through the grace of the Guru.

grihastha: Householder; family man or woman. The period of human life after the brahmachariya ashram (studentship period) is over, the individual establishing a career, home and family.

gunas: "Qualities." Metaphysically, the gunas are fundamental cosmic qualities of nature. The three gunas are tamas (inertia, density, the force of contraction, resistance & dissolution), rajas (stimulative, restlessness, activity; the expansive energy of growth and movement) and sattva (quiescence, rarified, translucent, pervasive, reflecting the light of pure consciousness).

guru: "Remover of darkness;" guide. A teacher. Though it can connote a teacher of any subject, guru usually denotes a spiritual teacher or master.

Gurudeva: "The shining spiritual being who is the destroyer of darkness of ignorance." Part of the name of His Holiness Gurudeva Sivaya Subramuniyaswami. An affectionate, yet respectful term used to address the guru or spiritual master.

hatha yoga: "Sun/moon yoga." Ha and tha are the sun and moon nerves ending in the nasal region of the head. They correspond to the pingala and ida nadis--mental and emotional currents--flowing up, in a crisscross pattern, the sides of the kundalini nadi: sushumna. Through breath control--ha is inbreath, tha is outbreath--and the manipulation of the physical/
astral bodies through specific series of asanas (postures) and mudras (bodily positions), the ida and pingala currents are perfectly balanced and the yogi functions in his sushumna (kundalini) nadi. The yogi is then prepared for deep meditation, following raja yoga, or kundalini yoga under the guidance of a guru. Besides its spiritual benefits, hatha yoga results in purification of the subconscious mind and robust physiological health contributing towards longevity. Hatha yoga is an ancient Natha Sampradaya science--
its first historical appearance being on the famous Pasupati seal from the 6,000 year-old Indus Valley empire. Hatha yoga is propounded in the Saiva Agamas, Tirumular's Tirumantiram and Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. It was made famous by Gorakhnath of the Adinatha lineage in the 10th century C.E. From India, hatha yoga was exported to China and Tibet.

Hinduism: Often known as the Sanatana Dharma or eternal faith, or the Vaidika Dharma, the religion of the Vedas. The most ancient religion in the world; the only religion not founded by man. Encompasses a broad spectrum of religious philosophies ranging from pluralistic theism to absolute monism. There are three main sects: Saivism, Vaishnavism, Saktism--and liberal, non-sectarian forms, such as the Smarta Sampradaya.

Holy Kural: Another name for the ethical and moral scripture Tirukural ("Holy couplets''), written by Saint Tiruvalluvar on dried ola leaves over 2,000 years ago near present-day Madras, South India. Saint Tiruvalluvar was a householder and a weaver by profession. His Tirukural or Holy Kural, written in the Tamil language, embodies a treasury of knowledge on conduct, human experience and Hindu dharma. In 1,330 verses, its advice ranges from household finance to affairs of state, from the bravery of warriors to the budding love of adolescents. Today the Holy Kural is widely studied as a guide to the practical application of religion in daily life. Acclaimed the "Tamil Dharma Shastra," it forms a cornerstone of virtuous living for millions of Hindus. It is a primary scripture of Saiva Siddhanta Church, whose members study it and refer to it often and apply its timeless wisdom to their lives.

homa: A ceremony dating from Vedic times in which oblations are offered into a fire built according to scriptural injunctions; a ritual to communicate with God, Gods and devas. Also called yajna or havan.

hri: "Remorse." One of the traditional niyamas of ashtanga yoga, hri is being modest and expressing shame upon committing a misdeed.

ida: Inner body nadi current, pink in color, that flows downward ending on the left side of the body. This current is feminine in nature, radiating a physical, emotional energy.

instinctive: In a religious context, instinctive and instinctiveness are used to describe the lower animal instincts of human nature--for example: greed, hatred, anger, fear, lust, and jealousy.

intellect: The ability to reason or understand; power of thought; mental acumen. An intellectual is a person who has great mental abilities and intelligence. Such persons usually have control over their instinctive nature, but may not be awakened to their higher intuitive nature.

Isvarapranidhana: "Devotion to God." Cultivating devotion through daily worship and meditation, the fifth of five niyamas listed by Sage Patanjali in his 2,200-year-old Yoga Sutras. Isvarapranidhana is essentially the equivalent of Isvarapujana (worship), the corresponding niyama listed in the Sandilya Upanishad and other texts which include ten niyamas rather than five.

Isvarapujana: "Worship of the Lord." Isvarapujana is worship, especially ritual worship known as puja in which devotion is expressed toward an image of the Deity. It is also internal worship, or meditation and is a traditional niyama of ashtanga yoga.

japa: "Recitation." Japa is the spiritual practice of devotedly repeating a mantram (sacred, mystic syllables), often while counting the repetitions on a mala, or rosary. Japa may be done silently or aloud. Sometimes known as mantram yoga, it is one of the ten niyamas (spiritual practices) of ashtanga yoga, serving to quiet the mind prior to meditation.

Kadavul: An ancient Tamil name of Lord Siva; "He who is both immanent and transcendent."

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

karma: Sanskrit word meaning "deed or act;" more broadly describing the principle of cause and effect. Also, the totality of our actions and their concomitant reactions in this and all previous lives.

kshama: "Patience." Kshama is the restraint of intolerance with people and impatience with circumstances. It is among the ten yamas.

kundalini: "Serpent power," the primordial cosmic energy in every individual which lies coiled like a serpent at the base of the spine and rises up the sushumna nadi. Through yoga it is awakened and made to rise up the chakras to the crown or sahasrara chakra.

Liberation: Moksha; release from samsara (the round of births and deaths).

loka: Habitat, region or plane of existence. A place of a particular level of vibration and associated beings, Gods, devas or men. Three primary lokas (Bhuloka, Devaloka and Sivaloka) and fourteen sub-classifications of the cosmos are designated in Hindu scripture.

Mahadeva: "Great Deva" or "Great Shining One." A name of Siva. Also used to denote any of the multitude of Gods--Ganesha, Muruga, etc.

Manikkavasagar: "He whose utterances are ruby-like." 9th century Tamil saint who contributed to the medieval Saivite renaissance. He gave up his position as prime minister to follow a renunciate life, recording his aspirations, pathos and yogic realizations in his poetic scripture, Tiruvasagam.

mantra: A sacred mystic syllable, word or verse used in meditation and japa to quiet the mind, balance the inner bodies and attain other desired aims.

marga: "Path" or "way." Spiritual path.

mati: "Cognition, mind, will." Mati is the religious practice, niyama, of developing a spiritual will and intellect with a guru's guidance.

meditate: To think deeply and continuously. In yoga, meditation describes a quiet, alert, powerfully concentrated state wherein new knowledge and insights are awakened from within as awareness focuses one-pointedly on an object or specific line of thought. Meditation is the result of successful concentration; uninterrupted thought on a subject, leading to intuitive discovery. It is dhyana, the seventh of the eight limbs of ashtanga yoga.

metaphysics: "Beyond physics." The branch of philosophy that deals with first principles and seeks to explain the nature of reality and the origin and structure of the world. In recent times, metaphysics has come to include the study of phenomena such as reincarnation, astral travel, psychic people, chakras, auras, etc.

mitahara: "Little eating; moderate appetite." Mitahara is moderation in diet, avoiding over-indulgence. In the spirit of mitahara, one should not eat meat, fish, fowl or eggs, and avoid all foods which are not beneficial to physical, emotional and mental well-being. Mitahara is among the yamas, ethical restraints, of ashtanga yoga.

Moksha: Liberation from samsara, the round of births and deaths.

monastic: Monk or nun. Derives from the Greek word monazein, meaning "to be alone." Monasticism includes strict personal discipline and religious practice for the purposes of self-purification, unfoldment and service to others. This is a different word from monistic, the adjective form of monism (the doctrine that Reality is a one whole without independent parts).

muladhara chakra: The chakra located at the base of the spine and governing memory, time and space. The first of seven nerve plexes or centers of force and consciousness in the psychic nerve system of man, located along the spinal column from its base to the cranial chamber.

Muruga: "Beautiful one." A Mahadeva, Ganesha's younger brother, created by God Siva to assist souls in their evolution, especially through the practice of yoga.

nadi: Psychic nerve channel; the network, traditionally said to number 72,000, of subtle energy fibers that form the nervous system of the inner body. These nadis interconnect the chakras. The sushumna, ida and pingala are the three main nadis.

nakshatra: One of 27 principle asterisms (star clusters, also called Lunar Mansions) in the Hindu system of astrology. Usually refers to one's birthstar. In this sense, a person's nakshatra is determined by drawing a straight line from the earth through the moon at the exact time of birth and noting the group of stars the line points toward. The nakshatra is an important factor in determining the characteristics of an individual.

Namasivaya: "Adoration (or homage) to Siva." The supreme mantra of Saivism, known as the Panchakshara or "the five letters." Embodying the essence of Saiva Siddhanta, it is found in the center of the central Veda (the Yajur) of the original three Vedas (Rig, Yajur and Sama) . The meanings of the five letters are: Na is the Lord's veiling grace; Ma is the world; Si is Siva; Va is His revealing grace; Ya is the soul. Namasivaya is a mystic chant which should be given by an authorized teacher.

Natha Sampradaya: "Lineage of Masters." Natha means lord or master, one who has mastered the intricacies of his inner and outer bodies and realized Parasivam. Sampradaya means an established oral teaching tradition or lineage. The Natha Sampradaya is the oldest Saivite sampradaya existing today, currently consisting of two lineages: the Nandinatha lineage and the Adinatha lineage. Historically, the Natha Sampradaya first appears with Sat Guru Nandinatha and his disciples, including Tirumular, who powerfully articulated the Natha teachings in his Tirumantiram. Gurudeva Sivaya Subramuniyaswami and his devotees are of this Nandinatha lineage of the Natha Sampradaya, the Siva Yogaswami Guru Paramparai being one stream of this ancient lineage.

niyama: "To unleash." The niyamas are ethical and religious practices which release or cultivate refined, soul qualities. These observances comprise the third limb of the ashtanga ("eight-limbed") yoga system codified in numerous Saivite scriptures including the Sandilya and Varuha Upanishads, Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Sri Gorakhnath, the Tirumantiram (circa 200 BCE) by Saint Tirumular and the Yoga Sutras (circa 200 BCE) of sage Patanjali. There are ten yamas and ten niyamas in all, though Patanjali listed only five yamas and five niyamas in his classic work, & these have become widely known. Along with the yamas (restraints), the niyamas provide guidelines for ethical, moral life and lay the foundation for yoga. The ten niyamas are: 1) santosha (contentment), 2) tapaha (austerity), 3) dana (charity), 4) astikya (faith), 5) Isvarapujana (worship), 6) mati (cognition), 7) Siddhantasravana (scriptural study), 8) hri (remorse), 9) vrata (sacred vows) and 10) japa (recitation). Note that Sage Patanjali's niyamas are saucha (purity, which other texts list as a yama), santosha, tapaha, svadhaya (scriptural study) and Isvarapranidhana (worship).

pancha nitya karmas: "Five constant duties." A traditional regimen of religious practice for all Hindus: 1) dharma (virtuous living), 2) upasana (worship), 3) utsava (observance of holy days), 4) tirthayatrai (pilgrimage) and 5) samskaras (observance of sacraments, known as samskaras, such as rites of birth, first feeding, marriage, etc.). While dharma and upasana are daily obligations, utsava, tirthayatrai and samskaras are periodic.

Panchakshara Mantram: "Five-lettered chant," the most sacred Saivite mantram, "Namasivaya."

Parasivam: "Transcendent Siva." Siva's Absolute Reality. That which transcends time, form and space and defies description; the Self-God.

Patanjali: A Saivite siddhar who codified the ancient practice of ashtanga yoga into the pithy and potent aphorisms of the Yoga Sutras. Lived around the 2nd century b.c.e.

penance: An act of devotion, self-denial or discipline undertaken to soften or nullify the reaction to one's past actions; "self-inflicted karma." Consciously relieving the karmic burden of wrongful actions by undergoing physical or mental hardships and challenges. Examples of penance are performing 108 prostrations in the temple, fasting and performing kavadi (carrying heavy and elaborate structures on shoulders for long distances).

pingala: Inner-body nadi current, blue in color, that flows upward, ending on the right side of the body. This current is masculine in nature, radiating an intellectual, mental energy.

prana: Vital energy or life principle; literally, "vital air," from the root an, "to breathe." Prana in the human body manifests further in five primary modifications, known as the vayus or "vital airs or winds:" prana, apana, samana, udana and vyana, each governing crucial bodily functions, and five auxiliary vayus: naga, kurma, krkara, devadatta and dhananjaya. Usually prana refers to the life principle, but it is sometimes used in a broader sense to mean energy, power or the animating force of the cosmos.

pranayama: "Life-force restraining." Science of controlling prana (life force or vital energy) through breathing techniques which dictate the lengths of inhalation, retention and exhalation; prepares the mind for deep meditation and develops psychic abilities. Fourth stage of ashtanga yoga.

pranic: Adjective form of prana, the vital energy which permeates the universe. Living forms are most charged with prana, but inanimate forms have their own low-level prana energies as well.

priest: A person whose function is to make sacrificial offerings and perform other religious rites for the benefit of devotees. In Hinduism, priests are servants of God and the Gods. They do not personally stand between God & the devotee.

psychic: "Of the soul or psyche." Non-physical, pertaining to the soul. Also the quality of being attuned to or adept at the more subtle psychic, or soul, faculties and energies. One who is so attuned, such as a medium or an accomplished yogi. Psychic faculties include such extra-sensory perceptions as clairvoyance, clairaudience, precognition, psychometry and others.

puja: Agamic rite of worship performed to the murthi (home or temple image) to invoke the Deity and establish a psychic connection with Him in the inner worlds. During puja, the officiant (pujari) recites various chants praising the God and beseeching His blessings, while making numerous offerings in accordance with established traditions. These include water, sandalpaste, holy ash, flowers, unbroken rice, incense, light (the flame of oil, ghee or camphor lamps) and special food preparations. On special days additional offerings are made, and as part of the puja, abhishekam or ritual bathing of the Deity is often performed as well. The items blessed during the ceremony, known as prasadam or sacraments, are distributed to the attendant devotees after the rite. Puja is also performed to one's guru.

purusha: Male person in mundane usage, as in purusha dharma. When used metaphysically, however, purusha refers to the soul, neither male nor female.

purusha dharma: Man's proper pattern of conduct; observances, vocational and spiritual options available to a man that will most advance him in a given lifetime. The pattern for a woman is known as sthree dharma.

raja yoga: "Royal (or kingly) yoga." The eight-limbed ashtanga yoga as defined in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.

rajasic: Having the quality of rajas, the second of the three gunas or fundamental cosmic qualities of nature as described in the Samkhya system--tamas (inertia), rajas (activity) and sattva (illumination, purity). The rajaguna is said to be the driving power animating the other two gunas. It is the stimulative, restless, expansive energy of growth and movement. (Literally, "sphere of mist or clouds," in the Veda distinguished from svar, "sphere of light.")

reincarnation: "Re-entering the flesh," describing the process of individual souls experiencing an orderly sequence of lives. Reincarnation provides the means for the soul to mature, and ends when all karmas have been resolved and Self-Realization has been attained. This is known as Moksha or Liberation.

Rig Veda: Oldest of the four Veda Samhitas (collections): Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva. Organized into ten mandalas (group patterns) of salutary and prayerful hymns, the Rig portrays a monistic Supreme Being-as-Cause-and-Lord-of-all cosmology, describes a pattern of dharma towards righteous and prosperous living in tune with the Gods. This scripture also details yogic disciplines leading to realization of the Absolute.

rishi: An old and venerated sage or seer, often a visionary who sees beyond the present time. Often refers to the sages, many of whom were householders, who codified dharma thousands of years ago in India.

sacrament: A rite that conveys a spiritual blessing. Used to translate samskara, any of the various temple or home ceremonies performed by a priest, such as name-giving, first feeding, beginning of formal study, marriage, death, etc. Sacrament also names the various sacred items passed out after a puja, such as holy ash, kumkum and holy water.

sadhana: "Effective, leading straight to the goal." The practice of spiritual disciplines such as meditation, japa, fasting, austerity, yoga and humble service. The goal of sadhana is to harness and transmute the instinctive/intellectual nature, allowing progressive unfoldment into the superconscious realizations and innate abilities of the soul.

sadhana marga: Sadhana means "leading straight to the goal," and marga means "path" or "way." Coined by Siva Yogaswami to describe the way he urged serious aspirants to follow--a path of intense effort, spiritual discipline and consistent inner transformation.

sahasrara: "Thousand-petals." Seventh chakra, located in the cranial chamber of the soul body. It is composed of 1,008 petals indicative of the God-powers of the Satchidananda state in which this chakra is awakened and fully functions.

Saivism: The name of the religion followed by those who worship the Hindu God Siva. One of the three primary sects of Hinduism, Saivism (the oldest of the three), is in turn divided into a number of distinct sects with diverse theologies. The primary goal of Saivism is Moksha, and the spiritual path of Saivism comprises four progressive stages of belief and practice called chariya, kriya, yoga and jnana.

Saivite: A follower of Saivism; also an adjective for Saivism.

Sakti: "Power, energy." Refers to the active power of Siva, popularly envisioned in the feminine form as a Goddess or devi--such as Parvati or Lakshmi. In Saiva Siddhanta, Siva's Divine Energy or Sakti is inseparable from Him. God Siva is perceived as a one Being, beyond yet encompassing the duality of male and female. When spelled Shakti, this term denotes impersonal forces such as Iccha (love), Kriya (action) and Jnana (wisdom), three Shaktis wielded by Siva.

sampradaya: "Tradition." Sampradaya can be understood in two ways. First, it refers to an oral tradition of teaching, such as a Guru of an established lineage verbally passing on eternal truths to his sishiya. Second, it refers to an established historical lineage, a living stream of tradition or theology within Hinduism.

samskara: "Impression." The imprint or traces left in the mind after an experience, whether in this or previous lives. Root impressions, especially from profound events, which mold character and guide actions. Also denotes ceremonial purification: one of a number of religious ceremonies performed at psychological moments through the Hindu's life, such as first-feeding, marriage, etc., and various ceremonies performed to restore something to its original purity.

Sankara: Also Samkara or Shankara. A name for Siva meaning "causing prosperity, auspicious, beneficent." Also the name of the 9th century monk, Adi Sankara, preeminent Guru of the Smarta Sampradaya. He is most noted for his non-dualistic Vedanta, for strengthening eclectic worship, ratifying 10 orders of sannyasins and writing prolific scriptural commentary.

Sanskrit: "Well-made, perfected." The classical sacerdotal or religious language of ancient India, considered an excellent vehicle of divine communication. Employed today as a religious, literary and scholarly language, but not generally used as a spoken language.

santosha: "Contentment, peace." Santosha names the practice, or niyama, of seeking joy and serenity in life, perceiving the perfect state of balance and perfection in God's creation.

Sat Guru: "True remover of darkness." A spiritual preceptor of the highest attainment, one who has realized the ultimate Truth and is able to lead others securely along the spiritual path.

Sat: Pure being or existence.

Satchidananda: "Truth, consciousness, bliss." Lord Siva's Divine Mind and simultaneously the superconscious mind of each individual soul. It is perfect love and omniscient, omnipotent consciousness, the fountainhead of all existence, yet containing and permeating all existence.

sattvic: "Of illumination, purity, truth." Sattva is the most subtle of the three gunas or fundamental cosmic qualities of nature as described in the Samkhya system--tamas (inertia), rajas (activity) and sattva (illumination, purity). The sattvaguna is rarified, translucent, pervasive, reflecting the light of pure consciousness.

satya: "Truthfulness." Among the traditional yamas, ethical restraints, satya means to refrain from lying, deception or betraying promises and confidences.

saucha: "Purity." Saucha means to avoid impurity in body, mind and speech, and is one of the traditional yamas, ethical restraints, of ashtanga yoga. (In Sage Patanjali's list of five yamas and five niyamas, saucha is among the niyamas.)

Self: Same as Self-God or Parasivam. The term self in lower case denotes the personal ego, one's individual identity or personality in contrast with the Divine Self.

Siddhantasravana: "Hearing the final conclusions; scriptural study." Among the niyamas of ashtanga yoga, Siddhantasravana is the practice of studying the scriptures and listening to the wise of one's lineage.

sishiya: A pupil or disciple, especially one who has proven himself and has formally accepted a Sat Guru as his guide in spiritual instruction.

Siva: "The Auspicious One." God Siva is all and in all, the one without a second, the Supreme Being and only Absolute Reality. He is both immanent and transcendent.

Sivaloka: Siva's "loka"--habitat, region or level of existence. Known as the causal plane or Third World, the Sivaloka is the abode of Siva, the Mahadevas and highly advanced souls. It exists deep within the Second World.

soul: The soul is an immortal and spiritual body of light, the essence of which is Satchidananda and Parasivam, eternal, uncreated and identical with God Siva. The soul animates life and reincarnates again and again until all necessary karmas are created and resolved and its essential unity with God Siva is realized. The soul is the atman of the Vedas.

sthree dharma: Conduct, observances, vocational and spiritual patterns that will most advance a woman in a given lifetime. The parallel pattern for a man is known as purusha dharma.

subconscious mind: The phase of mind beneath ordinary consciousness. Known as chitta in Sanskrit. The storehouse, the reflection of all previous experiences. All the past experiences of the soul (whether remembered consciously or not), unresolved karma and involuntary physiological processes lie in the subconscious mind. Negative areas of the subconscious mind can be detrimental to a person's spiritual and emotional well-being. Such can be discovered or resolved through meditation, penance, sadhana, temple worship, grace, etc.

superconscious mind: Satchidananda, the Divine Mind of God Siva and of all souls, for "there is only one mind." The superconscious mind is "the mind of light," of omniscient knowing, omnipresent awareness, pure consciousness, truth and love. Within the individual, it is one of the five states of mind: conscious, subconscious, sub-subconscious, sub-superconscious and superconscious. The intuitive or knowing state of mind; "the mind of light." From another perspective, the superconscious is one of the three phases of the mind: instinctive, intellectual and superconscious.

svadhyaya: "Self-study." The study of truth, especially through religious scripture. The fourth of five niyamas, or ethical practices, listed by sage Patanjali in his 2,200-year-old Yoga Sutras. It is essentially the equivalent of Siddhantasravana, the corresponding practice listed in the Sandilya Upanishad and other texts which include ten niyamas rather than five.

swami: "He who knows himself." Title for a Hindu holy man, usually a sannyasin.

tamasic: "Of darkness or inertia." Tamas is the most crude of the three gunas or fundamental cosmic qualities of nature as described in the Samkhya system--tamas (inertia), rajas (activity) and sattva (illumination, purity). The tamaguna is the quality of denseness, inertia, contraction, resistance and dissolution.

tapaha: The performance of purificatory spiritual disciplines, sadhana, penance, tapas and sacrifice; one of the niyamas, practices, in the ashtanga yoga system. Tapaha is from tapas, meaning "heat," or "fire," indicating the inner fire of transformation kindled by ascetic practices.

tapas: "Heat" or "fire." Denotes religious austerity, intense meditation, penance, bodily mortification or special observances. Connotes spiritual purification and transformation as a "fiery process" which "burns up" impurities, ego, illusions and past karmas that obstruct God-Realization.

temple: A place of worship of God or Gods. (An ancient Jewish term, later adopted by various religions.) Hindus revere their temples as sacred, magical places in which the three worlds most closely commune--special structures built according to Agamic specifications to channel the subtle spiritual energies of inner world beings. The temple's subtle or psychic atmosphere is maintained through regular worship ceremonies (puja) invoking the Deity who uses His installed image (murthi) as a temporary body and channel for His blessings. Also known as koyil (or kovil).

Third World: The causal plane or Sivaloka.

three pillars of Saivism: The guru, the temple and the sacred scriptures. Each of these is considered a distinct and necessary part of Saivite Hinduism.

tirthayatrai: "Traveling to a holy place." Pilgrimage. Among the pancha nitya karmas ("five constant duties") of Hindus, tirthayatrai is a devout journey to a temple or other sacred site, near or far. It is a time when spiritual matters are one's central concern, and worldly matters are set aside or placed before the Deity for assistance.

Tirukural: "Holy couplets." See: Holy Kural.

Tirumantiram: "Holy mantrams." The Natha Sampradaya's oldest Tamil scripture; written circa 200 B.C.E. Earliest of the Tirumurai, 12 essential canons of Saiva Siddhanta. Authored by Sivajnani Tirumular, the Tirumantiram comprises the essential teachings of the Saiva Agamas and is prized as a confluence of Siddhanta and Vedanta (meaning the original conclusions of the Vedas, not the later interpretation of Sankara's Mayavada Vedanta). It contains many esoteric teachings on kundalini yoga and spiritual unfoldment towards the enlightened state.

Tirumular: Siddhar, sage and yogi of the Natha Sampradaya who came from the Himalayas (circa 200 b.c.e.) to Tamil Nadu where he composed the 3,000-plus hymns of the Tirumantiram, tenth (but earliest) of the twelve Tirumurai. In this scripture he recorded the tenets of Saivism in concise and precise verse form, drawing upon his own realizations and the teachings of the Saiva Agamas and the Vedas.

Tirumurai: "Sacred (or holy) book." Twelve-book compendium of writings of Saivite saints. The first seven are known as Devarams. Of these, books 1-3 are the hymns of Saint Tirujnana Sambandar. Books 4-6 are hymns of Saint Appar. These latter two Saints lived in the 7th century. Book 7 contains the hymns of Saint Sundarar (9th century). The eighth book contains the two works of Saint Manikkavasagar (9th century): Tiruvacagam and Tirukovaiyar. Book 9 is the Tiruvisaippa and Tiruppalandu, which together comprise the works of nine saints. The Tirumantiram by Tirumular (200 b.c.e.) is the 10th book. The 11th book is a compilation of 10 saints. The 12th book is the Periyapuranam by Saint Sekkilar (11th century).

transmutation: Changing a gross force into a finer one. Metaphysically, transmutation refers to changing or transforming the sexual/instinctive energies into intellectual and spiritual ones, and thereby bringing oneself into the higher nature.

unfoldment: A making known or laying open to view, especially in stages or little by little. Often used in the phrase "spiritual unfoldment" to mean the gradual uncovering of our soul or spiritual qualities through consistent religious practice, meditation and grace.

Upanishads: "Sitting near devotedly;" the name of the final portion of the Vedas; divinely revealed to rishis who thus expounded the ultimate nature of God, soul and world and answered the philosophical queries of devotees.

upasana: "Sitting near." Worship or contemplation of God. One of the pancha nitya karmas ("five constant duties") of Hindus. Upasana is to be performed daily without fail.

utsava: "Festivity." Utsava is the Sanskrit word for religious festival or holy day. It also names the discipline of observing holy days including festivals in the home and temple as part of one's yearly religious pattern. Utsava is one of the pancha nitya karmas.

Vedas: "Wisdom." Composed 1500-500 b.c.e., four companion scriptures--Rig, Yajur, Sama, Atharva--consisting of roughly 20,000 Sanskrit verses that form Hinduism's primary scripture (along with the Agamas). Transmitted to man from God Siva and the Gods through the superconscious faculties of the rishis, the Vedas are sruti, "that which is heard." Because the mystic knowledge described in the Vedas cannot be experienced through man's intellect, these scriptures are considered superconscious wisdom. Originally, the Vedas were passed down orally, only taking written form centuries after their inception. Each Veda is comprised of four sections: Samhitas, Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads. The Samhitas and Brahmanas detail a transcendent/immanent Supreme Being cosmology and a system of worship through fire ceremony and chanting to establish communication with the Gods. The Aranyakas and Upanishads outline the soul's evolutionary journey, provide yogic/
philosophic training and propound a lofty, non-dual realization as the destiny of all souls.

vow: A solemn promise, oath or pledge, especially one made to God, dedicating oneself to an act, service or way of life. Hindus take vows, vratas, for many reasons, both mundane and divine.

vrata: "Vow." A religious oath. Vratas are personal promises to perform certain disciplines over a period of time, such as fasting, specific japa repetitions, worship or meditation, to enhance one's spirituality, establish self-discipline, invoke divine blessings and often to atone for misdeeds. Certain vratas are long-term, such as the brahmachariya vrata, the traditional promise to remain celibate until marriage or, in the case of the sannyasin, for life. As one of the traditional niyamas (practices) of ashtanga yoga, vrata means to fulfill religious vows, rules and observances faithfully.

Yajur Veda: "Wisdom of sacrifice." Second great Veda that contains, both in poetry and prose, the hymns and formulas chanted during ritual. This work is divided into 40 chapters of 1,975 stanzas, about 30% of which are repetitions of the Rig Veda.

yama: "To rein, or restrain." The yamas are ethical restraints which check or curb the base, instinctive nature. These abstentions comprise the second limb of the ashtanga ("eight-limbed") yoga system codified in numerous Saivite scriptures including the Sandilya and Varuha Upanishads, Hatha Yoga Pradipika by Sri Gorakhnath, the Tirumantiram (circa 200 BCE) by Saint Tirumular and the Yoga Sutras (circa 200 BCE) of sage Patanjali. There are ten yamas and ten niyamas in all, though Patanjali listed only five yamas and five niyamas in his classic work, and these have become widely known. Along with the niyamas, ethical practices, the yamas provide guidelines for ethical, moral life and are the foundation for yoga. The ten yamas are 1) ahimsa (noninjury), 2) satya (truthfulness), 3) asteya (nonstealing), 4) brahmachariya (sexual purity), 5) kshama (patience), 6) dhriti (steadfastness), 7) daya (compassion), 8) arjava (honesty), 9) mitahara (moderate appetite) and 10) saucha (purity). Note that the yamas as listed by sage Patanjali's are ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmachariya and aparigraha.

yoga: "To yoke or unite," connoting the process of yoking or fusing individual consciousness and awareness with superconscious awareness--
the natural mind state of soul and God. This yoking process ultimately leads to a realization of identity, that our innermost consciousness and Absoluteness is and always has been that of God. Yoga is the third of the four successive stages (margas) of purification and enlightenment in Saiva Siddhanta--chariya, kriya, yoga and jnana. Yoga's culmination of samadhi in Parasivam, the Absolute, is the first step upon the jnana path. There are many legitimate forms of yoga--
excluding bhakti and karma yogas which are preparatory practices--all of which lead the aspirant toward kundalini/raja yoga.

Yogaswami: "Master of yoga." Sri Lanka's most renowned spiritual master (1872-1964), Siva Yogaswami was a Sivajnani and Natha siddhar lauded by both Hindus and Buddhists. Trained in and practiced deep kundalini yoga under the guidance of his Sat Guru, Chellappaswami, who eventually gave him guru diksha, Yogaswami was in turn the Sat Guru of Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, current Sat Guru of the Siva Yogaswami Guru Paramparai.

yuga: "Period, age." A time span, from tens of thousands to one million years, which is a single cycle within a four-yuga greater cycle. The four yugas are: Sat, Treta, Dwapara, Kali.