Teacher. The head sanyassin or swami. One who holds the Mother in his or her heart.
The God of fire, Agni burns one’s karma in his dhuni. Agni is a form of Shiva. The red ember is the symbol of Agni.
Nonviolence, non-harming; living in a way that does no harm to any living being.
Sixth chakra or third eye. See Third Eye. Akasha – Spirit or etheric realm.
Nectar of the Gods. Often during meditation one can feel the amrit flowing down the back of one’s throat, particularly after applying Khechari Mudra, pressing the tip of the tongue to where the soft and hard pallet meet.
The heart chakra. The unstruck sound, the sound of the heart. Anahata is eternal; it is before and after existence, because there has never been a beginning or an end. It is the silence that contains all sound and the sound that contains the silence. The guru’s voice invokes this chakra.
The second of the five pranas, Apana is the downward flowing energy of elimination.
A celebration of light, usually done during or at the end of darshan or puja, through waving a flame that symbolizes the Divine light of consciousness. Through arti, the light of God and Guru is offered to the devotees, allowing the devotees to bask in it and bring it into themselves. It is a ritual of gratitude, singing a prayer of love and devotion in thanks for the blessings of the Divine.
Yogic posture. Ashram – Holy sanctuary; often includes residences for the guru and her students.
Patanjali’s Eight Limbed Path of Yoga. The eight limbs are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi.
Universal Soul or Self.
Literally beloved father; a holy man or teacher.
Body lock, used to direct or contain energy; hold, tighten, bind or lock. There are three major bhandas – mul bhanda, the root lock; uddiyana bhanda, the contraction of the naval point and belly in toward the spine; and jalandhara bhanda, the chin lock.
Devotion and love for God.
One of the four yogic paths. The path of achieving union with God through pure love and devotion.
Seed or seed sound.
The seventh chakra located at the top of the head where the soft spot of the skull closed at infancy. It is the opening through which kundulini rises to reach the higher chakras and achieve full union with the Divine.
Energy center, literally “wheel”. Although there are thousands of chakras, there are seven major chakras located along the sushumna in the body, and two major chakras along the sushumna directly above the body. The chakras should spin clockwise.
The heart space over the head. Taught by Swami Nityananda, this is a space of detachment with absolute, unconditional love that allows one to serve without burning out. It is located above the seventh chakra and is also known as the heart space in or over the head.
The ninth chakra, located way up over the head, is the cremation ground of all suffering. It is stark and empty, because no negativity or ego can exist there, yet overflowing with love. Kali lives in the ninth chakra.
Receiving the gift of seeing the guru or a holy person and receiving their teaching.
The sixth of the eight limbed path of yoga, dharana means focus or concentration.
One’s spiritual path or way or life.
Fire pits which burn in remembrance of the continuing light of God. They also symbolize the fire within where we can burn or consume pain, karma and worldly attachments. The tradition of the dhunis goes back thousands of years in India.
The seventh of the eight limbed path of yoga, dhyana means meditation.
In Hinduism, the great Mother Goddess of all the Gods and Goddesses. All aspects of God and Goddess are embodied by Durga.
The ego is that which is separate from our true or pure selves. There is both a higher and a lower ego. The lower ego is that which causes us pain – our unworthiness, pride, jealousy, arrogance, greed, anger, etc. Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati teaches that the lower ego is born when want becomes separate from need. The higher ego is the true inner knowing that can be used to help teach others and cannot hurt us.
The abolishment of the aspect of ourselves that causes us pain. The death of the ego is painful because we are attached to it – we think we need it or we are it and therefore the relinquishment of the ego is usually painful.
Liberation; freedom from the ego and the endless cycle of birth and death and rebirth.
Ganesh (Ganesha, Ganapati)
The Remover of Obstacles. Lord Ganesh is the elephant- headed son of Shiva and Parvati. His vehicle is a mouse, so that between them they can destroy all obstacles. Ganesh is one of the most popular Hindu deities, and is always worshiped first, especially before any new undertaking – laying the foundation of a house, beginning a new job, and doing any daily prayer or meditation.
The Ganga (or Ganges) in India has long been recognized as a form of the Goddess – a liquid form of the Mother, also associated with Shiva. As Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati has said, “She is form streaming out from the ineffable God without form.” The Ganga is considered the most sacred of rivers, flowing through the holiest of cities, Kashi (also called Varanasi and Benares). In the Hindu tradition, it is believed that a person who dies in Kashi will attain liberation, for the Ganga washes away all sins and purifies all karma.
The steps, often depicted as a ladder, descending into the Ganga.
A liberated being who, through unconditional love and devotion, teaches her students how to obtain liberation. A guru can take on her student’s karma and slay their egos to quicken their path to liberation.
See Third Eye.
Students of the same spiritual teacher.
The monkey God of service, compassion and humility. Hanuman is the son of Ram and Parvati who took the form of the monkey in humility to be in the form the least feared by humans. Hanuman embodies the strength of absolute love and devotion for humanity and tireless service. Hanuman is also a God of protection and is often shown standing guarding his beloved. It is said that Neem Karoli Baba embodied Hanuman.
A system of physical postures used to achieve unity with God. Ha literally means sun and tha means moon; hatha yoga therefore means the balance or union of sun and moon or masculine and feminine energy.
Also known as the “soothing channel”, the ida is one of three major energy channels or nadis. It is the feminine energy. Like the reflective energy of the moon, it is cool, inward and stabilizing, and tends to be more inward, gentle and nurturing. The ida begins and ends on the left side of the body. The ida and the pingala weave back and forth over the sushumna, resembling a caduceus, ending in the left nostril.
Repetition of God’s name, often ones own mantra.
Individual soul or Self that identifies itself only with its body, senses and worldly surroundings. Ignorant of the higher self, it is the Jiva Atman that is trapped in the cycle of birth and death and rebirth.
One of the four major yogic paths, jnana yoga is the path of knowledge, wisdom or self-introspection to achieve union with the Divine.
Breath of Fire.
The Mother Kali is the fierce black Goddess who slays the devotees’ egos to bring them to liberation. She chose to take a terrifying dark black form so that she would be blacker than any of the darkness of her devotee’s pain. If the seeker asks her to unzip herself, she is gold on the inside, showing her absolute love and compassion for her devotees and all her children. Kali is often shown standing with one hand raised, palm facing forward, in the hand signal of “fear not” while the other hand is holding the head of the ego she has slain. She stands on Shiva, who lays in bliss, after surrendering to his beloved. Karma – Cause and effect; reaction. There is good karma, bad karma and no karma. Both good and bad karma are caused by our reactions to a situation. For instance, we become jealous when someone achieves something. Karma can become habit, which can then become samskara. It is our karma that binds us to the earth, causing us to be caught involuntarily in the cycle of life, death and rebirth.
Seva. One of the four main yogas, or paths to union with God. Karma yoga is the path of selfless service, in which one serves others in the name of their God or guru.
A holy city in India also called Varanasi or Benares, one of the holiest of Shaivite cities. It is said that one who dies in Kashi is liberated.
The slaying of the ego. One slays the ego by bringing it up, by themselves, or having their guru or spiritual teacher help them see it, or through simple awareness in the moment. One must then recognize it, feel the pain of it, and offer it up. This can take lifetimes or a moment of grace.
The supreme power, primordial Shakti. Kundalini is spiritual energy that lies dormant in the form of the serpent, coiled around herself three and a half times, with her tail in her mouth, at the base of the spine. She is awakened by the guru and/or through the practice of yoga, meditation and pranayama, rising up the sushumna through each of the major chakras, and then back down through the body. It is the rising and falling of kundulini that creates bliss in oneself and clears the energetic path to samadhi.
Neem Karoli Baba as a young man.
The Goddess of Prosperity and Abundance. Laxmi sits in the middle of the thousand-petaled lotus. As the petals unfold, the bounty of Laxmi’s love drips into her devotees’ heart. Laxmi is invoked for spiritual and financial prosperity, as well as abundant good health, happiness and heart. She is often depicted with Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, and Saraswati, the Goddess of wisdom and creativity. Liberation – Release from the bonds of karma, after which the soul is released from the cycle of birth and death.
The masculine form of Shiva, shaped in a phallus. The lingam rests in the yoni, the feminine form of Shakti.
Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
The guru of this lineage of yoga, enlightened being, master yogi.
Death of a holy person. A saint’s mahasamadi is celebrated in Indian as a passing from the person from their bodily form into formless union with the God Self.
A bracelet, necklace or strand of prayer beads used as a meditation aid or to bring the blessings of the divine. Rosary beads, for instance, are malas.
The third chakra, located in the solar plexus. This chakra is called the seat of power and governs health, power and vitality. It is associated with the element of fire.
The repetition of the name of God or words that will help the spiritual seeker obtain inner peace.
The Goddess of illusion; that which is false and keeping us from our true selves.
The realignment with the Self by calming the mind in a single pointed focus. Meditation can be guided by a teacher. It can include a specific breath, or mantra, or simply sitting and watching one’s breath.
Seal. A hand posture used to invoke an aspect of the divine, or to seal energy for a specific intent.
First chakra or root chakra, located at the base of the spine. The foundation of the chakra system, the first chakra keeps us feeling grounded and secure, and is associated with the earth.
Holy statue of a deity or saint which hold the essence of that being.
Serpent Gods, nagas symbolize both protection and change. Kundalini also takes the form of the naga rising up the spine.
Energy channels containing the flow of prana through the body, energizing us.
“The divine in me bows to the divine in you.” Used as a greeting and at the end of conversations instead of “goodbye”.
Shiva, the King of the Yogis, in the form of the dancer, who creates the circle of life, death and rebirth all around him, dancing into liberation. Nataraj dances all of life into creation.
Neem Karoli Baba
One of the greatest Indian Saints of all time and guru of Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati. Neem Karoli Baba is famous for his teaching, “feed everyone.” Known simply as Baba or Maharajji, Neem Karoli Baba worked tirelessly throughout his life to feed everyone spiritually as well as literally. Baba embodied Hanuman, the monkey- God of service, in his devotion, his boundless love, and his unending service to humanity.
See Cremation ground.
The ultimate absorption into God or the Self.
One of the teachers of Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati, Swami Nitychananda teaches one to live in the heart space over the head, the chidakash, where one can serve with unconditional love without being attached and absorbing pain.
The second limb of raja yoga, niyama is observances of purity, contentment, austerity (including puja), study and bhakti or devotion.
The universal sound; the sound of the Self; the primal sound from which the Universe emanates, the sound of universal consciousness.
The fourth-century sage and author of the Yoga Sutras, the codification of the doctrinal and technical traditions of raja or ashtanga yoga.
The pingala is one of three major energy channels. It is the masculine form of energy. Like the sun, it is fiery, hot and powerful, and tends to be more dynamic, outward and strong. The pingala begins and ends on the right side of the body. The ida and the pingala criss cross back and forth over the sushumna, resembling a caduceus, ending in the right nostril.
The life force within us. The breath. It activates all movement and stillness. It is the web of life. Through breath control or pranayama, prana can be used to heal the body and the heart.
Hand mudra with both hands together as if in prayer. Used as a gesture of respect and humility towards other people and deities.
Breath control. Breath used with intent to reach a higher consciousness and bring in spiritual energy.
Blessed food or other offerings to God or guru.
Withdrawal of the senses.
There are two psoas muscles. The psoas extends from the ilium and connects the spinal column and the thighbone.
Moving prayer. A ritual celebrating God and Goddess, which can be very elaborate or as simple as lighting candles and incense as an offering to God.
A person entrusted to do puja to a deity in the form of a murti.
One of the four major paths of yoga. The eight limbs of yoga described by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.
A great Indian saint and one of Ma’s teachers, Ramana Maharshi teaches his students to become liberated and fully realize the inner self by continually asking “Who am I?” and then to going further asking “Who is asking the question?”
A bead made from the berry of an Asian tree symbolizing God’s tears for human suffering. When Shiva looked down upon the Earth and saw the suffering that man was bringing to man, he began to cry, and where his tears fell, the trees bearing these beads grew. Wearing rudraksha beads reminds us that God cries for humanities’ suffering, so that we can step out of our own suffering to help one another.
One’s personal spiritual practice; a spiritual discipline or path.
The Seventh Chakra or crown chakra located at the top of the head at the fontanel or soft spot where the plates of the skull converged when you were an infant. This chakra is also called the soul chakra because it is where the soul makes its initial connection into the body. It is related to the element of thought, understanding and enlightenment.
Blissful absorption into the divine. In samadhi, one’s breath and heart stops, and one breathes through the cells of their skin. One can be in samadhi for only a minute or for days and weeks at a time.
A deep rooted karma, almost resembling a scar on ones souls. We work through samskara through grace, by having awareness, by offering up our attachments, and changing our reactions and painful habits, and ultimately welcoming the death of our egos.
Monk; renunciate. One who lives in the world but is not of the world.
The company of truth; a group of students of the same guru or spiritual teacher.
Selfless service, Karma Yoga.
Spiritual energy. The feminine form of the blissful God energy. Shakti merges with Shiva to form the tantric union of God.
Shirdi Sai Baba
Loved and worshiped by millions worldwide, Shirdi is most famous for teaching acceptance between Muslims and Hindus. He is well known for begging for one rupee, teaching generosity even to those who feel they have nothing to give. He promised his devotees that if they looked on him, he would look on them.
The Hindu God of destruction – meaning the destruction of the ego. He is also known for total surrender, often depicted in total bliss lying under the feet of Kali, his beloved. Shiva is the male aspect of God, who, when merged with Shakti, creates a tantric union, bringing the seeker to bliss.
The central nadi, or pathway of energy, along the spine. The sushumna is the tree of life. This straight column of energy rises through the center of the body up the spinal column. The seven major bodily chakras are located along the sushumna.
The Sitali breath is a cooling breath, invoking the essence of the moon. It is also a cleansing breath.
The two lowest portions of the pelvis; the hip bones.
See third eye.
The name of the space between the six the seventh chakra, the soma chakra, which contains the ocean of God’s love; the pool of nectar in the head.
Letting go of the ego, not the Self, letting go of all that holds us back with- out giving up our forward movement toward God. Surya – The sun.
Second chakra, located in the lower abdominal area, the sexual organs in men, the womb in women. It is the womb of creativity in both men and women.
Spiritual teacher. Often used interchangeably with sanyassin.
Union of human into God; merge; weaving together.
The Mother Goddess who brings one’s soul across the Ganga after death. One of the Mahavidyas, the ten forms of the Mother Kali.
Located beneath the body, the tenth chakra is the earth chakra. It is the realm of karma, the space that holds that which binds us to the earth. In ancient mythology, the tenth chakra has been depicted as the underworld because it is the realm of all karma and therefore all suffering.
The sixth chakra, Ajna, also known as the guru chakra, the third eye is the place of intuition and clarity. At this point ida and pingala meet.
Fifth chakra or throat chakra located in the Adams Apple. It is associated with communication and the element of sound through which consciousness extends itself from one place to another.
Self restraint; acting ethically.
A mystical design used to invoke the Divine, yantras are also used as an aid for meditation.
Union with the Divine.
Yogic sleep; a deep consciousness.
Practitioner of yoga; yoga adept.
Female practitioner of yoga; yoga adept.