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NOTE: All non-English terms below are Sanskrit, unless otherwise indicated.


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ABHANGA [Marathi: abhaṅga]:
A devotional song composed in the Marathi language (the language of the Indian state of Maharashtra) and handed down orally over the centuries. See also MAHARASHTRA.

ABHINAVAGUPTA [abhinavagupta]:
A Siddha who was also a philosopher, poet, scholar, prolific author, and one of the central figures of nondual Kashmir Shaivism. His major works, including Tantraloka, were written between 975 and 1025; his best-known disciple was Kshemaraja. See also KASHMIR SHAIVISM; KSHEMARAJA; SIDDHA; TANTRALOKA.

ABHISHEK [Hindi: abhiṣek; Sanskrit: abhiṣeka]:
A ritual bathing offered as worship (puja) to a statue, to the Guru’s sandals (padukas), or another representation of a deity. The ritual bath is traditionally composed of five forms of nectar (panchamrita): milk, honey, yogurt, clarified butter (ghee), and sugar. These are followed by warm water and fragrant oil. After the bathing, offerings such as fruits and flowers are made as well. See also PADUKAS; PUJA.

The highest Reality; supreme Consciousness; the pure, untainted, changeless Truth. See also CONSCIOUSNESS.

AGNI-PARIKSHA [agni-parīkṣā]:
Lit., “trial by fire.” An arduous test of one’s ability, courage, or ethics in the face of adversity. One becomes stronger by going through such a test with persistence and determination.

ANUKAMPA [anukampā]:
Benevolence; grace; compassion. This word connotes the compassionate vibrations of the heart.

ARATI [āratī]:
An act of worship during which a flame, symbolizing the light of the Self, is waved before the form or an image of the Guru or a deity. Also, any of the specific devotional chants that traditionally accompany the waving of the flame, and that are sung in praise of the Guru or the deity. Each day in Siddha Yoga Ashrams, aratis are performed in honor of the Guru. See also ASHRAM; GURU; SELF; SIDDHA YOGA.

ARJUNA [arjuna]:
One of the warrior heroes from the Indian epic Mahabharata; a disciple of Lord Krishna. It was to Arjuna that Lord Krishna imparted his teachings in the Bhagavad Gita. See also BHAGAVAD GITA; KRISHNA, LORD; MAHABHARATA.

ARPANA [arpṇa]:
An offering to God or to the Guru made with a pure intention, loving attention, focus, and surrender. This offering can be tangible, such as flowers, incense, fruits, or money, as well as intangible, such as mental worship, the repetition of mantras, or selfless service.

ASHRAM [Hindi: āśram; Sanskrit: āśrama]:
A place of disciplined retreat, where seekers engage in spiritual practices and study sacred teachings.

ASHTAVAKRA [aṣṭāvakra]:
Lit., “crooked in eight places.” A sage of ancient times, crippled at birth, who taught King Janaka about the nature of Reality; author of the Ashtavakra Gita, a scripture explaining the path to God-realization. See also JANAKA, KING.

ATHARVA VEDA [arthava veda]:
See VEDA(S).

Disciplined spiritual practice, performed to purify both mind and body of any residue of past experience that obscures the direct experience of God; any focused effort in sadhana. See also SADHANA; SPIRITUAL PRACTICES.

AVADHUTA [avadhūta]:
An enlightened being who lives in a state beyond body-consciousness and whose behavior is not bound by ordinary social conventions.

BHAGAVAD GITA [bhagavad gītā]:
Lit., “song of the Lord.” One of the world’s treasures of spiritual wisdom, the centerpiece of the Indian epic Mahabharata. In its eighteen chapters, Lord Krishna instructs his disciple Arjuna about steady wisdom, meditation, the nature of God, the supreme Self, and spiritual knowledge and practice. See also KRISHNA, LORD; MAHABHARATA; SELF.

BHAGAVAN [bhagavān]:
Lit., “the blessed Lord, the blessed One.” A name for God. Also, one who is glorious, illustrious, and venerable. Swami Muktananda’s Guru is known as Bhagavan Nityananda. See also BHAGAVAN NITYANANDA.

BHAJAN [Hindi: bhajan]:
A devotional song composed in the Hindi language and handed down orally over the centuries.

BHAKTA [bhaktā]:
A devotee, a lover of God; a follower of bhakti yoga, the path of love and devotion. See also BHAKTI.

BHAKTI [bhakti]:
The path of devotion; a path to union with the Divine based on the continual offering of love and the constant remembrance of the Lord.

BHANDARA [Marathi: bhaṇḍārā]:
A feast prepared and served to a large group of people in honor of a special day, such as an anniversary or a holiday, or to commemorate a sacred cause. Bhandaras are often held in temples and ashrams.

BHASMA [bhasma]:
Ash from a sacred fire ritual (yajna), charged with the power of mantra. Bhasma is used to draw three horizontal stripes on the forehead and other parts of the body, representing the three qualities of nature (gunas) reduced to ash by spiritual practices and the power of grace. See also GUNA(S); SPIRITUAL PRACTICES; YAJNA.

BHAVA [bhāva]:
Lit., “becoming; being.” On the Siddha Yoga path, the attitude or feeling with which a seeker approaches the practices or an act of worship.

BHAVA-SAMSARA [bhava-saṁsāra]:
Lit., “cycle of worldly existence.” The cycle of birth and death that a soul must navigate until it realizes its oneness with the supreme Self. Attaining freedom from this cycle is made possible when a person receives the Guru’s grace through shaktipat and embarks upon the path of sadhana. See also SADHANA; SHAKTIPAT.

BINDI [Hindi: bindī; Sanskrit: bindu]:
A red dot worn between the eyebrows marking the location of the third eye, the eye of inner vision or spiritual wisdom.

BLUE PEARL [Sanskrit: nīla bindu]:
The point of pure Consciousness within each individual that is the core of our true identity and the source of all our powers of perception and action. It is depicted as shining in the space in the crown of the head; a vision of it is considered to be an auspicious glimpse of the innermost Self. See also CONSCIOUSNESS; SELF.

BRAHMA [brahmā]:
In Indian cosmology and mythology, the creator of the universe and grandfather of the gods. In Shaivism, it is understood that Lord Brahma is empowered to create by the will of the supreme Deity, Lord Shiva. See also SHAIVISM; SHIVA, LORD.

BRAHMA-MUHURTA [brahma-muhūrta]:
Lit., “the time of Brahma.” The peaceful interval that immediately precedes dawn. The Indian scriptures consider this period of about an hour and a half to be the most sacred time for performing worship and spiritual practice.

BRAHMIN [Hindi: brahmin; Sanskrit: brahmana]:
A member of a hereditary social class of India, from which Hindu priests and scholars have traditionally been drawn.

CHAITANYA [caitanya]:
Consciousness, intelligence, life, vitality. See also CHAITANYA-SHABDA.

CHAITANYA-SHABDA [chaitanya-śabda]:
Lit., “Consciousness-sound.” Words, sounds, or teachings that are charged with the power of divine Consciousness through the grace of the Siddha who composes or transmits them. See also CONSCIOUSNESS; GRACE; SIDDHA.

CHAKRA [English; Sanskrit: cakra]:
Lit., “wheel.” A subtle energy center in the body; a nexus point of subtle energy channels (nadis) through which Kundalini passes on her journey as she moves through the central energy channel (sushumna nadi). The subtle body is depicted as having seven lotus-like chakras, extending from the muladhara-chakra at the base of the spine to the sahasrara in the crown of the head. See also KUNDALINI; MULADHARA CHAKRA; NADI; SAHASRARA; SUBTLE BODY.

CHITI [citi]:
Lit., “Consciousness.” The all-pervasive dynamic power of supreme Consciousness that creates, sustains, and dissolves the entire universe; also, the power that conceals and reveals the Truth in human beings. Often personified as the Goddess, and sometimes more specifically as Kundalini Shakti—the power of spiritual evolution in a human being. See also CONSCIOUSNESS; KUNDALINI; TRUTH.

The luminous, self-aware, and creative Reality that is the essential Self of all that exists; a name for God, the Absolute, the supreme Truth. See also SELF.

DAKSHINA [dakṣiṇā]:
A core Siddha Yoga practice of making monetary offerings to the Guru. In the practice of dakshina, the student honors the Guru, the source of grace and the highest knowledge, through giving. Siddha Yogis practice dakshina with regularity and discipline as part of their sadhana and offer it without specifying its use or expecting material gain. See also SADHANA; SIDDHA YOGA.

DAKSHINAMURTI [dakṣiṇāmūrti]:
An aspect of Lord Shiva as the Guru and bestower of knowledge (jñana). See also SHIVA, LORD.

DAKSHIN KASHI [Hindi: dakṣiṇ kāśi; Sanskrit: dakṣiṇa kāśi]:
Lit., “south field.” A beautiful field in Gurudev Siddha Peeth, the Siddha Yoga Ashram near Ganeshpuri, India. The field is ringed by a tree-lined path, which is used for walking contemplation. See also GURUDEV SIDDHA PEETH.

DARSHAN [Hindi: darśan; Sanskrit: darśana]:
Lit., “seeing, perceiving, knowing.” Being in the presence of a holy person. On the Siddha Yoga path, darshan is seeing, perceiving, knowing the Guru through being in the Guru’s presence or having the experience of the Guru’s presence within.

DATTATREYA [dattātreya]:
A divine incarnation known as the lord of avadhutas and often revered as the embodiment of the supreme Guru. See also AVADHUTA.

DEEPAVALI [dīpāvali]:
A four-day festival, falling in October-November, celebrated by displaying lights and worshiping Mahalakshmi, the goddess of wealth, abundance, beauty, and prosperity.

DEVA [deva]:
A deity or god. See also DEVI.

DEVI [devī]:
A goddess; a feminine form of the divine power. See also DEVA; SHAKTI.

DHARANA [dhāraṇā]:
A centering technique or spiritual exercise in which holding a steady inner focus intensifies one’s awareness, with the goal of connecting with the Heart, the divine Self. See also SELF.

DHARMA [English; Sanskrit: dharma]:
Right action, that which supports and upholds; one’s duty, especially the highest spiritual duty; actions that are ultimately beneficial for all; behavior that is in alignment with the cosmic order, with one’s religion or spiritual path, and with one’s role in life.

DIKSHA [dīkṣā]:
Initiation by a Guru into the spiritual path. On the Siddha Yoga path, diksha takes the form of the awakening of a seeker’s Kundalini energy by the grace of the Siddha Guru; this initiation is known as shaktipat diksha. See also KUNDALINI; SHAKTIPAT; SIDDHA GURU.

One who has received initiation from a spiritual master and then follows the path shown by the master.

DIVYA DIKSHA [divya dīkṣā]:
Divine initiation, or shaktipat. See also DIKSHA; SHAKTIPAT.

DRISHTI [dṛṣṭi]:
Vision, usually in the context of seeing with the outlook of God.

The fierce aspect of the universal Shakti or divine Mother, who destroys limitations and evil tendencies. She is often depicted as the eight-armed warrior goddess who rides a tiger and carries weapons. See also NAVARATRI; SHAKTI.

A faculty of the mind (antah-karana) which, in Indian philosophy, constructs one’s sense of limited identity, creates the illusion of a separate self with a specific personality and qualities, and appropriates specific objects and experiences to itself. The limitations of the ego can be transcended by engaging in the spiritual practices of sadhana. See also SADHANA; SPIRITUAL PRACTICES.


The final attainment on the spiritual path, when the limited sense of “I” merges into supreme Consciousness. See also CONSCIOUSNESS; LIBERATION.

GANESH, LORD [Hindi: gaṇeś; Sanskrit: gaṇeśa]:
The elephant-headed god, also known as Ganapati. Son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, he is worshiped at the beginning of any undertaking and in many festivals as the god of wisdom, the destroyer of sorrows, and the remover of obstacles.

The infinite power of divine love that creates, maintains, and pervades the universe. When awakened within a seeker by a Siddha Guru, this power leads the seeker to Self-realization. See also SELF-REALIZATION; SIDDHA GURU.

GUNA(S) [guṇa]:
The three basic qualities of nature that determine the inherent characteristics of all created things. They are sattva (purity, light, harmony, intelligence); rajas (activity, passion); and tamas (dullness, inertia, ignorance).

GURU [guru]:
Lit., “a venerable person, a spiritual preceptor, a teacher.” A teacher (in any field); also, a spiritual master. When capitalized: A realized Master, a true Guru. See also SIDDHA GURU.

GURU CHOWK [Hindi: guru cauk]:
The open-air meditation hall adjoining the courtyard in Gurudev Siddha Peeth, the Siddha Yoga Ashram near Ganeshpuri, India. See also GURUDEV SIDDHA PEETH.

GURUDEV SIDDHA PEETH [gurudev siddha peeṭh]:
The foundational Ashram of Gurumayi Chidvilasananda and the Siddha Yoga path, located near the village of Ganeshpuri, in Maharashtra, India. Initially constructed in 1956 for Swami Muktananda at the command of his Guru, Bhagavan Nityananda, and established as a public trust in 1962, Gurudev Siddha Peeth is also the location of the samadhi shrine (final resting place) of Swami Muktananda. See also ASHRAM; GURUMAYI CHIDVILASANANDA; SAMADHI SHRINE; SWAMI MUKTANANDA.

GURU GITA, SHRI [śrī guru gītā]:
Lit., “song (gita) of the Guru.” A sacred text consisting of mantras that describe the nature of the Guru, the power of the Guru’s grace, the importance of devotion and service to the Guru, and the ways the Guru leads the disciple to the knowledge of the Self. Reciting Shri Guru Gita is one of the central practices of Siddha Yoga students. See also GURU; SELF; SIDDHA YOGA.

GURUKULA [gurukula]:
In Vedic times, an ashram or other place where a Guru resided and where spiritual aspirants would serve the Guru for a period of time, while studying the scriptures, and practicing self-inquiry and other spiritual disciplines under the guidance of the Master. Siddha Yoga Ashrams are modeled on these gurukulas of old.

The universal power of grace present as the inner Self of all beings. See also GRACE; SELF.

GURUPURNIMA [gurupūrṇimā]:
In India, a holiday celebrated at the time of the full moon of the month of Ashada (July-August), which is honored as the most auspicious and important full moon of the entire year. This moon’s luminous brilliance and perfect form are seen as expressions of the Guru’s gift of grace and the attainment of Self-realization. Siddha Yogis focus on the practice of dakshina during this holiday. See also DAKSHINA; GRACE; SELF-REALIZATION.

Objects of reverence in the Indian scriptures, they are said to embody Shiva and Shakti, knowledge and action, the emission and reabsorption of creation. Powerful vibrations of shakti flow from the Guru’s feet. They are a mystical source of grace and illumination, and a figurative term for the Guru’s teachings. See also GURU; PADUKAS; SHAKTI; SHIVA, LORD.


HANUMAN [hanumān]:
One of the heroes of the Indian epic, the Ramayana, Hanuman is a warrior and chieftain of a semidivine mythological race of monkeys devoted to God in the form of Lord Rama. Son of the Wind, he performs many acts of courage and daring in defense of his Master, Lord Rama. He is a symbol of perfect devotion, surrender and courage. See also RAMA, LORD; RAMAYANA.

HATHA YOGA [haṭha-yoga]:
Yogic practices, both physical and mental, performed for the purpose of purifying and strengthening the physical and subtle bodies. See also SUBTLE BODY.

The ego-driven forces within us that act as obstacles to knowledge of the Self, identified in Vedanta as: desire, anger, delusion, pride, greed, and envy. See also SELF; VEDANTA.


JAGADGURU [jagadguru]:
Lit., “universal teacher.” An epithet for the Guru whose teachings and grace have transformative power for the whole world. See also GURU.

JANAKA, KING [janaka]:
A royal sage of ancient India who attained liberation through perfect fulfillment of his duties as king, while remaining completely unattached to the pain and pleasures associated with them. See also LIBERATION.

JAPA [japa]:
Repetition of a mantra, either silently or aloud. See also MANTRA.

JAPA MALA [japa mālā]:
Beads strung on thread or metal wire and used to support a seeker in practicing mantra repetition (mantra japa). With each repetition of the mantra, one bead is moved with the fingers. See also MANTRA.

JNANA [jñāna]:
True knowledge.

JNANESHVAR MAHARAJ [jñāneśvar mahārāj]:
(1275-1296) Foremost among the saints of Maharashtra and a child yogi of extraordinary powers. His verse commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, the Jnaneshvari, written in the Marathi language, is acknowledged as one of the world’s most important spiritual works. He also composed a short work, the Amritanubhava, and over one hundred abhangas, or devotional songs in Marathi, in which he describes various spiritual experiences following the awakening of Kundalini. See also BHAGAVAD GITA; KUNDALINI.

JYOTA SE JYOTA JAGAO [jyota se jyota jagāo]:
A chant sung on the Siddha Yoga path; an invocation to the Guru asking for the flame of divine love in the disciple’s heart to be kindled with the flame in the Guru’s own heart.

KARMA [English; Sanskrit: karma]:
Lit., “action.” Any action, whether physical, verbal, or mental. Also, the destiny which is caused by past actions, mainly those of previous lives. See also PUNYA-KARMA.

A branch of the Shaivite philosophical tradition, propounded by Kashmiri sages, that explains how the formless supreme Principle, known as Shiva, manifests as the universe. Together with Vedanta, Kashmir Shaivism provides the basic scriptural context for the Siddha Yoga path. See also ABHINAVAGUPTA; KSHEMARAJA; SHAIVITE; SHIVA, LORD; VEDANTA.

KRISHNA, LORD [kṛṣṇa]:
Lit., “dark one.” The eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, called Krishna because of the blue-black color of his skin. See also BHAGAVAD GITA; VISHNU, LORD.

KRIYA [kriyā]:
A physical, mental, or emotional movement initiated by the awakened Kundalini. Kriyas purify the body and nervous system, thus allowing a seeker to experience higher states of consciousness. See also KUNDALINI.

KSHEMARAJA [kṣemarāja]:
An eleventh-century philosopher whose writings did much to increase the influence of nondual Shaivism in Kashmir, and who was the foremost disciple of Abhinavagupta. See also ABHINAVAGUPTA; KASHMIR SHAIVISM.

KUNDALINI [kuṇḍalinī]:
Lit., “coiled one.” The goddess Kundalini; also, the power of spiritual evolution in a human being. The dormant form of this spiritual energy is represented as lying coiled at the base of the spine; when awakened and guided by a Siddha Guru and nourished by the seeker’s disciplined effort, this energy brings about purification of the seeker’s being at all levels, and leads to the permanent experience of one’s divine nature. See also SHAKTIPAT; SIDDHA GURU.

KUNDALINI SHAKTI [kuṇḍalinī śakti]:

Freedom from the cycle of birth and death; the realization of one’s own divine Self. See also SELF.

MADHYA [madhya]:
Lit., “middle, center.” In the philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism: supreme Consciousness, the Self, the Heart. Also, the sushumna-nadi, the central channel of energy in the subtle body, along the spine, through which Kundalini rises. See also CONSCIOUSNESS; KASHMIR SHAIVISM; KUNDALINI; SELF; SUBTLE BODY; SUSHUMNA.

MAHABHARATA [mahābhārata]:
An epic poem in Sanskrit, attributed to the sage Vyasa, which recounts the struggle between the Pandava and Kaurava princes over a disputed kingdom. A vast narrative encompassing a wealth of Indian secular and religious lore, it also contains the spiritual treasure of the Bhagavad Gita. See also BHAGAVAD GITA.

MAHARASHTRA [mahārāṣṭra]:
A state on the west coast of central India, where Gurudev Siddha Peeth, the Siddha Yoga Ashram, is located. Many of the great poet-saints lived in Maharashtra, and the samadhi shrines (final resting places) of Bhagavan Nityananda and Swami Muktananda are there. See also BHAGAVAN NITYANANDA; GURUDEV SIDDHA PEETH; SWAMI MUKTANANDA.

MAHASAMADHI [mahāsamādhi]:
When a realized yogi leaves their physical body and merges with supreme Consciousness. The anniversary of this sacred event is a time to honor and pay tribute to the saint’s teachings and attainment. See also SAMADHI; YOGI; CONSCIOUSNESS.

MAHASHIVARATRI [mahāśivarātri]:
Lit., “great night of Shiva.” The night of the new moon in late February that is especially sacred to Lord Shiva. Devotees repeat the mantra Om Namah Shivaya throughout the night; on this night the merit of each repetition is said to equal the merit of a thousand repetitions at other times. See also OM NAMAH SHIVAYA; SHIVA, LORD.

MANDALA [maṇḍala]:
Lit., “circular.” An image in the form of a circle that radiates from a central point. The use of mandalas as sacred images has its roots in the Tantras and Agamas, ancient scriptures of India. For eons, sages and yogis have had visions of mandalas in meditation and understood such images to represent the power of the supreme Self. Drawings and paintings based on these mandalas have been used as tools for contemplation and meditation. Focusing one’s awareness on a mandala is conducive to experiencing the divine within oneself and the entire universe. See also SELF.

MANTRA [English; Sanskrit: mantra]:
Sacred syllables with the power to purify, protect, and transform the one who repeats them. A mantra received from the Siddha Guru is enlivened by the power of the Guru’s attainment. The Siddha Yoga mantras include Om Namah Shivaya, Guru Om, and So’ham. See also OM NAMAH SHIVAYA; SIDDHA GURU.

MAYA [māyā]:
A power of God that is taught about in the philosophies of India, including in Advaita Vedanta and Kashmir Shaivism. In Vedanta, maya creates illusion at the cosmic level and ignorance at the individual level, obscuring the supreme Reality, the Absolute. In Kashmir Shaivism, maya is described as one of the thirty-two tattvas, or principles of manifestation of this universe. It refers to the power of the Lord to limit and conceal his complete glory from himself. Maya makes the omnipotent, omniscient, infinite, eternal, self-reliant, all-pervading, and utterly blissful Supreme Self appear to itself as bound and constrained by time and space, caught in the cycle of birth and death, impacted by cause and effect, governed by destiny, restricted to a body, riddled with emotions, requiring skills and knowledge to advance, and separate from everyone and everything. Through maya, the divine Self becomes the individual self, forgetting its innate boundless freedom and believing it is different from the supreme Lord, its true Self. See also ABSOLUTE; KASHMIR SHAIVISM; SELF; TATTVA(S), VEDANTA.

MUKTI [mukti]:
Liberation from the cycle of birth and death; freedom from the sense of duality and limitation.

MULADHARA CHAKRA [mūlādhāra cakra]:
Lit., “root-support (muladhara) wheel (chakra).” The spiritual center in the subtle body located at a point corresponding to the base of the spine in the physical body; the dwelling place of the coiled Kundalini, or divine power, in her dormant form. See also CHAKRA; KUNDALINI; SUBTLE BODY.

MURTI [mūrti]:
Lit., “embodiment,” “figure,” “image.” A representation of God or a chosen deity that has been sanctified and enlivened by worship. A murti can be a symbolic embodiment of the presence of God or of a recognizable human figure, as in the image of a saint.

NADA [nāda]:
Spontaneous inner sounds that may be heard during advanced stages of meditation; nada may take the form of sounds such as bells, the blowing of a conch, and thunder.

NADI [nāḍī]:
A channel in the subtle body through which the vital force flows. See also SUBTLE BODY.

NAMASANKIRTANA [nāmasaṅkīrtana]:
Repetition of the divine name in song. On the Siddha Yoga path, namasankirtana refers both to the practice of chanting the divine name and to the chant itself. A namasankirtana is often chanted in a group, in a call-and-response fashion, with musical accompaniment. One can also practice namasankirtana individually and a capella. Namasankirtana is a core Siddha Yoga practice. See also SIDDHA YOGA.

NAMASTE [namaste]:
A greeting of respect in India that means “I honor the divine light within you.” The salutation is made with the hands gently pressed together in front of the chest, palms touching, fingers pointing toward the sky. It is accompanied by a slight bow of the head to indicate respect.

A name of God. Silent repetition or audible chanting of the divine name is considered to be the most effective means of redemption in Kali Yuga, the present age. Chanting the divine name and mantra japa (mantra repetition) open the heart to the love and joy contained within it. See also MANTRA; YUGA.

NATARAJ [Hindi: naṭarāj; Sanskrit: naṭarāja]:
Lit., “king of the dance.” A name of Lord Shiva, referring to the dancing Shiva. The object of his dance is to free all souls from the fetters of illusion. See also SHIVA, LORD.

NAVARATRI [navarātri]:
Lit., “nine nights.” A festival celebrating the worship of the divine Mother, Shakti, in the three forms of Goddess Durga/Kali, Goddess Lakshmi, and Goddess Sarasvati. It begins with the new moon of September-October and continues for nine nights.

NILA-BINDU [nīla bindu]:

NIYAMA [niyama]:
Lit., “regulation.” One of the five moral prescriptions taught in the sage Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra—in conjunction with the five yamas, or moral proscriptions (such as refraining from doing harm, lying, and stealing)—as the second of eight steps leading to samadhi. The five niyamas are: shaucha, internal and external cleanliness; santosha, contentment; tapas, spiritual discipline; svadhyaya, the study and recitation of the scriptures; and ishvara-pranidhana, surrender to God. See also PATANJALI; SAMADHI; SVADHYAYA; TAPASYA; YAMA; YOGA SUTRA.

OM [oṁ]:
The primal sound from which the universe emanates; the inner essence of all mantras. Also written AUM. See also MANTRA.

OM NAMAH SHIVAYA [oṁ namaḥ śivāya]:
The initiation mantra of the Siddha Yoga lineage, known as the great redeeming mantra for its power to grant both worldly fulfillment and spiritual realization. OM is the primordial sound; namah is an expression of reverence or honor; shivaya denotes “to Shiva” or “to divine Consciousness” (the Lord who dwells within you as you). See also CONSCIOUSNESS; MANTRA; OM; SHIVA, LORD; SIDDHA YOGA.

PADUKA(S) [pādukā]:
The Guru’s sandals, objects of the highest veneration. Vibrations of the inner shakti flow out from the Guru’s feet, which are a mystical source of grace and illumination and a figurative term for the Guru’s teachings. The Guru’s sandals are also said to hold this divine energy of enlightenment. See also GURU; GURU’S FEET; SHAKTI.

PATANJALI [patañjali]:
Sage who lived around the third century CE and who wrote the Yoga Sutra, the authoritative text on one of the six orthodox philosophies of India. See also YOGA SUTRA.

PRADAKSHINA [pradakṣiṇa]:
An act of worship performed by walking in a clockwise direction around a sacred place such as a temple or shrine; around a Siddha, a saint, or other great being; or around a murti of a great being or of a deity. This sacred circumambulation may be performed physically or in one’s imagination. See also MURTI; SIDDHA.

PRANA / PRANA SHAKTI [prāṇa śakti]:
The life force or the vital power that sustains every living being and the entire universe; also, the vital breath within the body of living beings.

PRANAM [Hindi: praṇām; Sanskrit: praṇāma]:
A bow; a deeply respectful greeting. On the Siddha Yoga path, a reverential bow offered to the Siddha Guru or before the murti or an image of one’s Guru, a holy being, or a deity. See also MURTI; SIDDHA GURU.

PRASAD [Hindi: prasād; Sanskrit: prasāda]:
A blessed or divine gift from God or the Guru.

PUJA [pūjā]:
Worship; actions performed in worship. Also, an altar with images of the Guru or deity and objects used in worship.

PUNYA-KARMA [puṇya-karma]:
Actions and deeds that bring good merits, good fortune, or blessings. According to the scriptures of India, punya refers to that which is auspicious, meritorious, virtuous, and sacred. Karma refers both to actions performed and to the result or consequence of actions performed over time. In India, it is considered one’s duty to earn merit through good actions. Feeding others is one example of punya-karma. See also KARMA.

PUNYATITHI [puṇyatithi]:
Lit., “spiritual merit” (punya) and “observance, remembrance” (tithi). The anniversary of a great being’s passing. The observance of a saint’s punyatithi brings great merit.

PURANA(S) [purāṇa]:
Lit., “ancient.” Sacred books of India, containing accounts, stories, legends, and hymns about the creation of the universe, the incarnations of God, the teachings of various deities, and the spiritual legacies of ancient sages and kings.

PURNAHUTI [pūrṇāhuti]:
Lit., “full or complete offering.” The culmination of any celebration, especially a saptah (extended chant) or a yajna (fire ritual). The final chant of a purnahuti is an arati, an invocation to the Guru that entreats the Guru to kindle the flame of divine love in the disciple’s heart. Tradition states that to attend a purnahuti is to gain the merit of the entire celebration. See also ARATI; GURU; SAPTAH; YAJNA.

QAWWALI, also spelled QAVVALI [qawwālī; qavvālī]:
A form of devotional song in the mystical Sufi tradition, whose performance is designed to bring the musicians and their audience to an ecstatic state of union with God. Qawwali lyrics have been composed in a variety of languages, including Farsi, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Arabic, and Bengali, or in a mixture of these, and have been handed down orally since the thirteenth century.

RAGA [rāga]:
Lit., “color.” A collection of melodic patterns having characteristic phrases and embellishments, used as a basis for improvisation and composition in Indian music. Traditionally described as that which “colors the mind and heart,” a raga evokes specific qualities and moods in both the listener and the performer.

RAKSHA BANDHAN [rakṣā bandhan]:
A festival in India with its origins in an ancient folk custom: sisters affectionately tie a rakhi, or bracelet, on the wrists of their brothers who, in turn, promise always to protect them. To celebrate this day, many Siddha Yoga students offer each other rakhis, representing a bond of love and protection.

RAM, LORD [Hindi: rām; Sanskrit: rāma]:

RAMA, LORD [Hindi: rām; Sanskrit: rāma]:
Lit., “one who is pleasing, delightful.” The seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Lord Rama is seen as the embodiment of dharma and is the object of great devotion. He is the central character in the Indian epic Ramayana. See also DHARMA; RAMAYANA; VISHNU, LORD.

RAMAYANA [ramāyāṇa]:
One of the great epic poems of India; attributed to the sage Valmiki, the Ramayana recounts the life and exploits of Lord Rama. This story, rich with spiritual meaning, has been told and retold down through the ages by saints, poets, scholars, and common folk. See also RAMA, LORD.

RANGOLI [Hindi: raṅgoli; Marathi: rāṅgoḷī]:
A design, usually geometric, drawn on the ground in front of a house or other dwelling in the colors of the morning sun, to represent inner awakening.

RASA [rasa]:
Flavor, taste. Also, a subtle energy of richness, sweetness, and delight.

RIG VEDA [ṛg veda]:
The oldest of the four ancient Indian scriptures known as the Vedas; it is composed of more than one thousand hymns, including those that invoke the gods of the fire ritual. See also VEDA(S).

RUDRA, LORD [rudra]:
The Lord as destroyer, a form of Lord Shiva. As the fierce aspect of God, Lord Rudra inspires both great love and great fear among his worshipers. See also SHIVA, LORD.

RUDRAKSHA [rudrākṣa]:
Lit., “teardrops of Rudra.” Seeds from a tree sacred to Lord Shiva, often strung as beads for malas (beaded bracelets used for mantra repetition). Legend has it that the rudraksha seed was created from the tears of Lord Rudra, thus endowing it with great spiritual power. See also JAPA MALA; RUDRA, LORD; SHIVA, LORD.

RUDRAM, SHRI [śrī rudram]:
A text chant from the ancient Indian scripture Krishna Yajur Veda in which Lord Shiva is offered repeated salutations in his many manifestations; the first of these to be honored is Lord Rudra. See also RUDRA, LORD; SHIVA, LORD; VEDA(S).

SADGUNA VAIBHAVA [sadguṇa-vaibhava]:
Lit., “splendor of virtues.” A collection of thirty virtues, chosen by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, that are posted on the Siddha Yoga path website throughout the month of June for study and contemplation by Siddha Yoga students. Each virtue is a divine quality that already exists within everyone as a manifestation of the inner Self. As one studies, practices, assimilates, and implements the virtues in daily life, their radiance, nobility, and beneficence are magnified.

SADGURU [sadguru]:
A true Guru; a divine Master. See also GURU; SIDDHA YOGA.

SADGURUNATH MAHARAJ KI JAY [Hindi: sadgurunāth mahārāj kī jay]:
An invocation that means “Hail to the true Guru!” On the Siddha Yoga path, it is recited at the beginning and completion of a spiritual activity to invoke the Guru’s grace and express gratitude. See also GURU; SIDDHA YOGA.

SADHAKA [sādhaka]:
A seeker on the spiritual path. See also SADHANA.

SADHANA [sādhanā]:
Lit., “to go straight to the goal; to accomplish.” Sadhana is disciplined practice undertaken to attain the goal of a spiritual path. The four foundational practices of Siddha Yoga sadhana are meditation, chanting, seva, and dakshina. The goal of Siddha Yoga sadhana is spiritual transformation leading to liberation. See also DAKSHINA; LIBERATION; SEVA; SHAKTIPAT; SIDDHA YOGA.

SAHASRARA [sahasrāra]:
The thousand-petaled spiritual energy center (chakra) at the crown of the head, where one experiences the highest states of consciousness. See also CHAKRA.

SAMADHI [samādhi]:
The practice of absorption in the object of meditation. Also, the final stage of that practice, in which the meditator is absorbed in the Self. See also SELF.

The final resting place of a great yogi’s body. Such shrines are places of worship, permeated with the saint’s spiritual power and alive with blessings. See also YOGI.

SANGHAM [Hindi: saṅgham; Sanskrit: saṅgha]:
A community, society, or group; also, the individuals within a community, society, or group. The term global Siddha Yoga sangham refers to the worldwide community of individuals who practice the teachings of the Siddha Yoga path. See also SIDDHA YOGA.

SANKALPA [saṅkalpa]:
On the Siddha Yoga path, intention in the sense of a prayer or resolution formed for the attainment of a spiritual purpose that is for the benefit of all.

SANNYASA [sannyāsa]:
Monkhood. Also, the ceremony and vows of monkhood.

SANSKRIT [English; Sanskrit: saṁskṛt]:
Lit., “refined, polished, perfected, ornamented.” An ancient language of India, traditionally considered to be deva-vani, the language of the gods; the source language for most of the chants, recited texts, and foundational scriptures of the Siddha Yoga path. See also SIDDHA YOGA.

SAPTAH [saptah]:
Lit., “seven.” A term introduced by Swami Muktananda to refer to the continuous chanting of the name of God, which also may be accompanied by dancing in a circle in a series of measured steps as an act of devotion and a joyful experience of meditation in motion. Saptahs were often held in Siddha Yoga Ashrams for seven days at a time.

A traditional Indian women’s garment that consists of several yards of lightweight cloth, such as cotton or silk, draped so that one end forms a skirt and the other a covering for the head or shoulder. On the Siddha Yoga path, women often wear saris to offer arati and on holidays. See also ARATI.

SATSANG [Hindi: satsaṅg; Sanskrit: satsaṅga]:
Lit., “the company of the Truth.” The company of saints and devotees. Also, gathering of seekers for the purpose of chanting, meditation, and listening to scriptural teachings or readings.

The pure Consciousness that is both the divine core of a human being and the essential nature of all things. See also CONSCIOUSNESS.

The state of enlightenment in which the individual merges with pure Consciousness. See also CONSCIOUSNESS.

SEVA [sevā]:
Lit., “service, honoring, worship.” In Siddha Yoga contexts, selfless service: work offered to God and the Guru, performed as a pure offering, without attachment to the results of one’s actions and without desire for personal gain. See also SADHANA; SIDDHA YOGA.

One who performs seva. See also SEVA.

The Indian religious and philosophical traditions that use the name Shiva to denote the ultimate Reality. On the Siddha Yoga path, the term Shaivism is generally used to refer to the nondual Shaivism of Kashmir. See also KASHMIR SHAIVISM; SHIVA, LORD.

Noun: One who practices Shaivism. Adjective: Of or relating to Shaivism. See also KASHMIR SHAIVISM; SHAIVISM.

SHAKTI [śakti]:
Spiritual power; the divine cosmic power that creates and maintains the universe. Also, the goddess Shakti.

SHAKTIPAT [Hindi: śaktipāt; Sanskrit: śaktipāta]:
Lit., “descent of power, descent of grace.” On the Siddha Yoga path, the initiation (diksha) by which a Siddha Guru transmits the divine grace that awakens Kundalini, the inner spiritual energy in an aspirant. Shaktipat diksha signals the beginning of Siddha Yoga sadhana, which culminates in spiritual liberation. See also KUNDALINI; LIBERATION; SADHANA; SIDDHA GURU.

The primary Siddha Yoga meditation program, which was designed by Swami Muktananda to give spiritual initiation, or shaktipat, by awakening the Kundalini energy. See also KUNDALINI; SHAKTIPAT; SWAMI MUKTANANDA.

SHAMBHAVI MUDRA [śāmbhavī mudrā]:
Lit., “state of supreme Shiva.” A state of spontaneous or effortless meditation, in which the eyes become focused within and the mind delights in the inner Self without any attempt at concentration. See also SELF.

SHIVA, LORD [śiva]:
Lit., “auspicious.” In nondual Shaivism, the transcendent, immanent, and all-pervasive Reality, the one source of all existence. Also, absolute Reality personified as the supreme deity, Lord Shiva. See also KASHMIR SHAIVISM; SHAIVISM.

SHIVARATRI [śivarātri]:

SHRI [śrī]:
A term of respect that connotes sacredness, abundance, beauty, grace, and auspiciousness, and signifies mastery of all these. Also, a name for Lakshmi (also called Mahalakshmi), the goddess of beauty, wealth, abundance, and prosperity.

SIDDHA [siddha]:
A perfected, fully accomplished, Self-realized yogi; an enlightened yogi who lives in the state of unity-consciousness; one whose experience of the Self is uninterrupted and whose identification with the ego has been dissolved. See also EGO; SELF; YOGI.

SIDDHA GURU [siddha guru]:
A perfected spiritual Master who has realized his or her oneness with God, and who is able both to bestow shaktipat initiation and to guide seekers to spiritual liberation. Such a Guru is also required to be learned in the scriptures and to belong to a lineage of Masters. See also GURU; LIBERATION; SHAKTIPAT; SIDDHA.

SIDDHA YOGA [siddha yoga]:
The spiritual path taught by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda and her Guru, Swami Muktananda. The journey of the Siddha Yoga path begins with shaktipat diksha (spiritual initiation). Through the grace of the Siddha Yoga Master and the student’s own steady disciplined effort, the journey culminates in the constant recognition of divinity within oneself and within the world. See also SADHANA; SHAKTIPAT.

A group of about three to seven Siddha Yogis who meet regularly to study the Siddha Yoga teachings. See also SADHANA; SIDDHA YOGA.

The virtual space in which Siddha Yoga teaching and learning events are held via the Siddha Yoga path website. As in any satsang hall in a Siddha Yoga Ashram or meditation center, Siddha Yogis and new seekers gather in the Siddha Yoga Universal Hall to engage in the Siddha Yoga practices and study the Siddha Yoga teachings. See also SATSANG; SIDDHA YOGA.

Activities that purify and strengthen the mind and body for the spiritual path. Siddha Yoga practices include chanting, meditation, dakshina, and seva. See also SADHANA.

The second of four bodies within a human being (the physical, subtle, causal, and supracausal bodies), which is considered in traditional Indian philosophy to be distinct from the gross or physical body; it is experienced in the dream state.

SUSHUMNA [suśumnā]:
The most important of all the nadis (subtle energy channels); the central channel of the subtle body, which extends from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. It is the pathway of the awakened Kundalini. See also KUNDALINI; NADI; SUBTLE BODY.

SUTRA [English; Sanskrit: sūtra]:
Aphorism; a condensed and cryptic statement that usually can be understood only through commentary. In India, the major points of an entire philosophical system may be expressed in a series of sutras.

SVADHYAYA [svādhyāya]:
The study of the Self; the regular disciplined practice of chanting and reciting spiritual texts such as Shri Guru Gita. See also GURU GITA, SHRI; SELF.

A sannyasi or monk.

A term of respectful address for a sannyasi, or monk.

The satsang—held on January 1—during which Gurumayi Chidvilasananda imparts her Message for the year to the global Siddha Yoga sangham. Inspired by the light of Gurumayi’s guidance in Sweet Surprise, Siddha Yoga students begin a focused exploration and practice of Gurumayi’s Message, with the intention of assimilating and implementing its teachings to advance in their sadhana toward the goal of Self-realization. See also SADHANA; SANGHAM; SATSANG; SELF-REALIZATION; SIDDHA YOGA.

TADASANA [tāḍāsana]:
Lit., “mountain pose.” The basic standing posture in hatha yoga, in which the feet are parallel and either hip-distance apart or together, the weight is distributed evenly, and the arms are extended straight along the sides of the body with the palms facing in. See also HATHA YOGA.

TANDRA [tandrā]:
The state of higher consciousness between sleeping and waking that is experienced in meditation.

TANTRALOKA [tantrāloka]:
The masterwork written by the Kashmiri philosopher Abhinavagupta, covering the whole of nondual Shaivite philosophy and practice in nearly six thousand Sanskrit verses. See also ABHINAVAGUPTA; KASHMIR SHAIVISM.

TAPASYA [Hindi: tapasyā; Sanskrit: tapas]:
Lit., “heating.” Yogic austerities; also, the experience of heat that occurs during the process of practicing yoga. It is said that this heat, called “the fire of yoga,” burns up all the impurities that lie between the seeker and the experience of the Truth. See also YOGA.

TARUNA POSHANA [taruṇa poṣaṇa]:
Lit., “nurturing the youthful spirit.” The department in the SYDA Foundation that oversees Siddha Yoga teaching and learning events for children, young people, and families around the world. Gurumayi Chidvilasananda gave the name Taruna Poshana to this department in 2002.

TATTVA(S) [tattva]:
In Kashmir Shaivism, the basic categories or principles of the process of universal manifestation from pure Consciousness to matter; also, that which is the essence of each stage of manifestation. See also CONSCIOUSNESS; KASHMIR SHAIVISM.

When capitalized: One of the two temples of meditation that Swami Muktananda dedicated to his Guru, Bhagavan Nityananda, in Shree Muktananda Ashram and in Gurudev Siddha Peeth. See also BHAGAVAN NITYANANDA.

When capitalized: the highest Reality. See also CONSCIOUSNESS; SELF.

TURIYA [turīya]:
The fourth, or transcendental state, beyond the waking, dream, and deep-sleep states, in which the true nature of Reality is directly perceived; the state of samadhi, or deep meditation. See also SAMADHI.


UPANISHAD(S) [upaniṣad]:
The inspired teachings, visions, and mystical experiences of the ancient sages of India; the concluding portion of the Vedas and the basis for Vedantic philosophy. With immense variety of form and style, all of these scriptures (exceeding one hundred texts) give the same essential teaching: that the individual soul and God are one. See also VEDA(S); VEDANTA.

VAIRAGYA [vairāgya]:
Dispassion; the power of renunciation by which a yogi is able to pursue the true rather than the false, the eternal rather than the ephemeral. See also YOGI.

VARNAMAYI [varṇamayī]:
One of the four main categories of the manifestation of awakened Kundalini. It may include the awakening of previously dormant vocal powers in the seeker, the spontaneous uttering of mantras, creative literary inspiration, and intuitive wisdom. See also KUNDALINI; MANTRA.

VEDA(S) [veda]:
Lit., “knowledge.” The earliest scriptural compositions of ancient India, regarded as divinely revealed, eternal wisdom. The four Vedas are, in order of antiquity, the Rig Veda (“Knowledge of the Hymns”), the Yajur Veda (“Knowledge of the Sacrificial Formulas”), the Sama Veda (“Knowledge of the Songs of Praise”), and the Atharva Veda (“The Knowledge of [Sage] Atharvan”).

VEDANTA [vedānta]:
Lit., “end of the Vedas.” One of the six orthodox schools of Indian philosophy; its dominant branch is Advaita (“nondual”) Vedanta, which teaches that one supreme Principle of being-Consciousness-bliss (sac-cid-ananda) constitutes the whole of Reality, and that the world of multiplicity is ultimately illusory. See also CONSCIOUSNESS; UPANISHAD(S); VEDA(S).

VIJNANA BHAIRAVA [vijñāna bhairava]:
A scripture of the nondual Shaivite tradition that teaches 112 methods for meditative focus.

VISHNU, LORD [viṣṇu]:
In the Puranas, the deity in charge of maintaining and preserving creation. In some religious traditions of India, Vishnu is the name for the supreme Deity. See also KRISHNA, LORD; PURANA(S); RAMA, LORD.

VIVEKA [viveka]:
Lit., “discrimination; distinction.” The faculty of discretion that enables a human being to distinguish between true and false, reality and illusion.

VRITTI [vṛtti]:
Fluctuation or movement of the mind; thought.

The transcendental Consciousness that lies at the root of the mind and from which the mind can be observed. See also CONSCIOUSNESS.

YAJNA [yajña]:
A sacrificial fire ritual in which Vedic mantras are recited while wood, fruit, grain, oil, yogurt, and ghee are poured into the fire as offerings to the Lord.

YAMA [yama]:
Lit., “restraint.” One of the five “restraints,” or moral proscriptions, taught in the sage Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra—in conjunction with the five niyamas, or moral prescriptions (such as contentment and spiritual discipline)—as the first of eight steps leading to samadhi. The five proscriptions are: ahimsa, harmlessness; satya, truthfulness; asteya, nonstealing; brahmacharya, chastity; and aparigraha, nongrasping. See also NIYAMA; PATANJALI; SAMADHI; YOGA SUTRA.

YOGA [English; Sanskrit: yoga]:
Lit., “union.” The spiritual practices and disciplines that lead a seeker to evenness of mind, to the severing of the union with pain, and to skill in action through detachment. Ultimately, the path of yoga leads to the constant experience of the Self. See also SELF.

YOGA SUTRA [yoga sūtra]:
A collection of aphorisms, written by the sage Patanjali around the third century CE, that expounds a set of specific and practical methods for the attainment of the goal of yoga, or mental tranquility, when the movement of the mind ceases and the Self rests in its own blissful nature as the witness of the mind. See also NIYAMA; PATANJALI; SELF; YAMA; YOGA.

YOGI [yogi, masc.], YOGINI [yoginī, fem.]:
One who practices yoga. Also, one who has attained perfection through yogic practices. See also YOGA.

YUGA [yuga]:
In Indian scriptural texts, the name of an era within a lengthy historical cycle of four ages.