Nada: Sound; the resonance of sound; mystic inner sound; the primal sound or first vibration from which all creation has emanated; the first manifestation of the unmanifested Absolute; Omkara or Shabda Brahman. The inner sound of Om experienced in meditation.
Nadi: A channel in the subtle (astral) body through which subtle prana (psychic energy) flows; a physical nerve.
Naga: Snake; a kind of astral being; naked.
Nagar(a): City; town.
Nagar(san)kirtan: Kirtan done in procession through the streets or sometimes within or around an ashram or other property.
Nagas: Astral beings that often interact with human beings, usually taking the form of snakes. (In Sanskrit naga is the word for snake.)
The Nahabat at Dakshineshwar
Nahabat: A temple music tower. Musicians sit on the upper story and play during festivals and sometimes at the time of daily worship. Holy Mother Sarada Devi lived in the northern nahabat of the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple.
Naishthika brahmachari(n): One irrevocably vowed to life-long celibacy; a permanent brahmachari.
Naivedya: Food offered in worship.
Nakshatra: Star; heavenly body; asterism or constellation.
Nama: Name. The Divine Name.
Nama-rupa: Name and form.
Namaskara: “I bow to you;” a respectful greeting; salutation; obeisance.
Namasmarana: Remembrance (repetition) of the Name of God. Remembrance of the Lord through repetition of His name.
Namaste(bhyam): “I bow to you.” “I salute you.”
Nanak (Guru): Founder of the Sikh religion in the fifteenth century.
Nara: Man; human.
Narada: A primeval sage to whom some of the verses of the Rig Veda are attributed.
Naraki: One who is in hell.
Narayana: A proper name of God–specifically of Vishnu. The term by etymology means a Being that supports all things, that is reached by them and that helps them to do so; also one who pervades all things. He Who dwells in man. Literally: “God in humanity.” Sadhus often address one another as Narayana and greet one another: “Namo Narayanaya”–I salute Narayana [in you].
Narayana shila: See Shalagrama.
Nasikagra: Tip of the nose.
Nasikagradrishti: Gaze directed toward the tip of the nose.
Nastika: Unbeliever; atheist.
Nataraja: “King of the Dance,” a title of Shiva the Cosmic Dancer. The whole creation is the dance of Shiva. He holds a drum (damaru) in his upper right hand representing the sound (shabda) of Om by which the universe is created. In his upper left hand he holds a flame which symbolizes the dissolution of the universe in fire–but which also represents the tapasya by which the yogi dissolves the bonds of this world. His lower hand is in abhaya mudra, the gesture meaning “fear not,” bestowing peace and protection. His lower left hand points toward his upraised foot indicating that the “feet” of the yogi must be lifted up toward Spirit. It also symbolizes liberation.
Natha: Lord; ruler; protector.
Nath Yogis: An ancient order of yogis, sometimes called Siddha Yogis, claiming Patanjali and Jesus (Isha Nath) among their master teachers.
Navadhvara kuti: The nine-gated house–the body.
Navadhvara puri: The nine-gated city–the body.
Neem Karoli Baba
Neem Karoli Baba: One of India’s most amazing and mysterious spiritual figures. The life of this great miracle-worker and master spanned from two to four centuries (at the least), including most of the twentieth century.
Neti-neti: “Not this; not this.” The analytical process of progressively negating all names and forms in order to arrive at the eternal underlying Truth. In the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad both Brahman and the Self are described as “not this; not this,” meaning that when we negate every name, form, or quality, Being Itself will remain.
Nididhyasana: Meditation; contemplation; profound and continuous meditation. It is a continuous, unbroken stream of ideas of the same kind as those of the Absolute. It removes the contrariwise tendencies of the mind.
Nidra: Sleep; either dreaming or deep sleep state.
Nija: Perception without sense organs.
Nijananda: The bliss beyond sense perception.
Nimitta: Cause; instrument; effect; sign; substance.
Nirakara: Without form.
Niranjana: Without blemish; spotless.
Nirbija: “Without seed;” without attributes; without the production of samskaras or subtle karmas.
Nirbija samadhi: Nirvikalpa samadhi samadhi wherein the seeds of samskaras or karmas are destroyed (“fried” or “roasted”) by Jnana, and which produces no samskaras or karmas.
Nirguna: Without attributes or qualities (gunas).
Nirguna Brahman: The impersonal, attributeless Absolute beyond all description or designation.
Nirodha: Restraint; restriction; suppression; dissolving/dissolution; cessation; disappearance; control inhibition; annihilation; process of ending.
Nirmala: Without impurity; pure; without defect or blemish.
Nirvana: Liberation; final emancipation; the term is particularly applied to the liberation from the bondage of karma and the wheel of birth and death that comes from knowing Brahman; Absolute Experience. See Moksha.
Nirvana chakra: Energy center located beneath the crown of the head and opposite the middle of the forehead–in the midst of the brain.
Nirvedam: Indifference; non-reaction; non-susceptibility; the state of being unmoved or not influenced by something.
Nirvichara samadhi: A stage in samadhi wherein the mind (chitta) no longer identified with a subtle object or assumes its form, simply resting in perception without analytical awareness of its nature by means of the buddhi, whose operation has become completely suspended so that only pure awareness remains; without deliberation and reasoning or inquiry.
Nirvikalpa: Indeterminate; non-conceptual; without the modifications of the mind; beyond all duality.
Nirvikalpa Samadhi: Samadhi in which there is no objective experience or experience of “qualities” whatsoever, and in which the triad of knower, knowledge and known does not exist; purely subjective experience of the formless and qualitiless and unconditioned Absolute. The highest state of samadhi, beyond all thought, attribute, and description.
Nirvikara: Without transformation, modifications, or change; changeless.
Nishkama karma: Desireless action; disinterested action; action dedicated to God without personal desire for the fruits of the action; selfless action.
Nitya: Eternal; permanent; unchanging; the ultimate Reality; the eternal Absolute. Secondarily: daily or obligatory (nitya karma–that which must be done every day).
Nitya-Shuddha: Eternally pure.
Nityananda (Avadhuta Paramhansa): A great Master of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the most renowned Pranava yogi of our times. His Chidakasha Gita contains some of the most profound statements on the Pranava and Its application by the yogi.
Nivritti: Negation; the path of turning away from activity; withdrawal. Literally, “to turn back.” The path of renunciation.
Nivritti Marga: The path of renunciation, of withdrawal from the world.
Niyama: Observance; the five Do’s of Yoga: 1) shaucha–purity, cleanliness; 2) santosha–contentment, peacefulness; 3) tapas–austerity, practical (i.e., result-producing) spiritual discipline; 4) swadhyaya–self-study, spiritual study; 5) Ishwarapranidhana–offering of one’s life to God.
Ojah: See Ojas.
Ojas: Vitality; vigor; luster; splendor; energy; spiritual energy. The highest form of energy in the human body. In the spiritual aspirant who constantly practices continence and purity, other forms of energy are transmuted into ojas and stored in the brain, manifesting as spiritual and intellectual power.
Om: The Pranava or the sacred syllable symbolizing and embodying Brahman.
Oshadhi: Medicinal plant.
Pada (1): Part; chapter; one-fourth portion.
Pada (2): Foot.
Padmasana: Lotus posture; considered the best posture for meditation.
Panchabhuta: The Five Elements (Mahabhuta): ether (akasha), air (vayu), fire (agni), water(ap), and earth (prithvi).
Panchagni: “Five fires.” A discipline in which four fires are kindled in the four cardinal directions and meditation is done from dawn till dusk seated in their midst, the sun being the fifth “fire.” Also called Panchatapa.
Panchanga: Traditional Indian calendar.
Panchatapa: See Panchagni.
Pandal: A flat-roofed tent whose sides and top are detached from one another, the root usually being higher than the sides to provide air circulation.
Pandavas: The five sons of King Pandu: Yudhishthira, Bhima, Arjuna, Nakula, and Sahadeva. Their lives are described in the Mahabharata.
Pandita: Scholar; pundit; learned individual.
Papa: Sin; demerit; evil; sinful deeds; evil deeds.
Para(m): Highest; universal; transcendent; supreme.
Parabhakti: Supreme devotion to God. This leads to jnana.
Parabrahman: Supreme Brahman.
Parama: Highest; supreme.
Param[a]guru: The guru’s guru.
Paramananda: Supreme (param) bliss (ananda).
Param[a]purusha: See Purusha.
Paramartha: The highest attainment, purpose, or goal; absolute truth; Reality.
Paramatma(n): The Supreme Self, God.
Parameshwara: The Supreme Lord.
Paramhansa: Literally: Supreme Swan, a person of the highest spiritual realization, from the fact that a swan can separate milk from water and is therefore an apt symbol for one who has discarded the unreal for the Real, the darkness for the Light, and mortality for the Immortal, having separated himself fully from all that is not God and joined himself totally to the Divine, becoming a veritable embodiment of Divinity manifested in humanity.
Paramapada: The highest abode; the supreme abode (Vaikuntha) of Lord Vishnu.
Parameshwara: The supreme (param) Lord (eshwara; Ishwara).
Parampara: Tradition; one following another; lineage; succession; uninterrupted succession.
Parampurusha: The Supreme Spirit; Supreme Person.
Paranirvana: The Supreme, Final Nirvana, when the perfectly enlightened individual is released from physical embodiment, never to return to birth in any world, high or low.
Parasamvit: Supreme knowledge; supreme consciousness; the supreme experiencing principle; absolute experience; self-luminous knowledge; pure consciousness; Shiva; Supreme Reality.
Para-shakti: Supreme Power.
Paridrishtah: Regulated; measured; observed or viewed with the intent to regulate.
Parikrama: Circumambulation; “to traverse around.” It is the custom in India to circumambulate sacred objects and places, always moving clockwise so the sacred thing or place is to the right of the devotee.
Parinama: Change; modification; transformation; evolution; development; effect; result; ripening; altering/changing.
Parinama-vada: The theory that the cause is continually transforming itself into its effects. The belief that Brahman transforms a portion of His Being into the universe. The belief that Prakriti is transformed into the world.
Paripurna: All-full; self-contained.
Parivrajaka: “One who wanders;” a roaming ascetic; one who has renounced the world; a sannyasin.
Parvati: “Daughter of the Mountain;” the daughter of King Himalaya; the consort of Shiva; an incarnation of the Divine Mother.
Pashyanti: The first prearticulated aspect of sound; sound in a subtle form as it starts to manifest before reaching the mind; the first perceptible form of sound.
Patala: Hell; nether world.
Patanjali: A yogi of ancient India, the author of the Yoga Sutras.
Pati: “Lord;” God; Master; Shiva.
Pativrata dharma: The rules of life of a chaste woman devoted to her husband.
Paurusha: Manhood, manliness, virility, potency, courage, effort.
Pauresheya: Personal; pertaining to or what originates from a person (purusha).
Pavitra: Holy; pure; purified; can also mean purifier or sanctifier.
Payasa: A sweet rice pudding made from rice, milk, ghee, sugar, and spices.
Phala: Fruit; result or effect.
Pinda (1): Part of the whole; individual; the body–either of the individual jiva or the cosmic body of Ishwara. It can also mean an organized whole or a unity of diversities.
Pinda (2): Small ball of rice offered to one’s ancestors as an oblation. Sometimes in the sannyas ritual the prospective sannyasi performs his own funeral obsequies (shraddha ceremony), including making offerings of rice balls to/for himself.
Pindotpatti: The origin of the bodies, cosmic as well as individual.
Pingala: The subtle channel that extends from the base of the spine to the medulla on the right side of the spine.
Pishacha: Vampire; flesh-or-blood-craving demon.
Pitamaha: Grandfather; Great Father; titles of Brahma, the Creator.
Pitha: Seat; throne; chair. It also indicates a place where something is centered or established. For example, a place of power may be referred to as a “shakti pitha” or a place favorable to meditation as a “yoga pitha.” A shrine to a deity may also be called a pitha, such as “Sarada pitha,” etc., meaning that the deity resides or is established there.
Pitri: A departed ancestor, a forefather.
Prabhu: Lord; excelling; mighty; powerful; master. From the root bhu–“to become, hence to rule”–and pra–“forth.”
Prarabdha karma: “Ripened” actions (pra=before; rabh=begin); the portion of accumulated karma, the fruits of which determines one’s present life, which are being experienced now and which cannot be erased; karma in action; remainder; karma that is working itself out during the present life. That part of the accumulated effect of past deeds which has begun to take effect with the creation of the present physical body and which is responsible for the continuance of the body even after release is attained. It is destroyed only when its force is spent. It cannot be averted, avoided, or changed–though either by knowledge or by grace its impact can be minimized or rendered nil to the perceiver.
Pradakshina: Circumambulation of a sacred object or place, walking around it clockwise so it is always on your right side.
Pradhana: Prakriti; causal matter.
Prahlada: A daitya prince who rejected his daitya heritage and became a devotee of Vishnu. His father, the evil Hiranyakashipu, tortured him and attempted his life because of his devotion and his speaking to others of divine matters, yet he remained steadfast.
Prajapati: Progenitor; the Creator; a title of Brahma the Creator.
Prajna: Consciousness; awareness; wisdom; intelligence.
Prajñanam Brahma: “Consciousness is Brahman.” The Mahavakya (Great Saying) of the Aitareya Upanishad.
Prajapati: Progenitor; the Creator; a title of Brahma the Creator.
Prakash(a): Shining; luminous; effulgence; illumination; luminosity; light; brightness. Pure Consciousness, from the root kash (to shine) and pra (forth); cognition.
Prakriti: Causal matter; the fundamental power (shakti) of God from which the entire cosmos is formed; the root base of all elements; undifferentiated matter; the material cause of the world. Also known as Pradhana. Prakriti can also mean the entire range of vibratory existence (energy).
Prakritilaya: Absorbed or merged in Prakriti; the state of yogis who have so identified with the cosmic energy that they are trapped in it as though in a net and cannot separate themselves from it and evolve onwards until the cosmic dissolution (pralaya) occurs in which the lower worlds of men, angels, and archangels (bhur, bhuwah and swar lokas) are dissolved.
Pralaya: Dissolution. See Mahapralaya.
Prama: Valid knowledge; true knowledge; knowledge of the real; knowledge free from error and above doubt.
Pramana: Means of valid knowledge; logical proof; authority (of knowledge); means of cognition (from the verb root ma–to measure and pra–before or forward.
Pramanya(m): Truth; validity; proof.
Pramada: Carelessness; fault; guilt
Prameya: Object of cognition; object of (right) knowledge; object of proof; subject of inquiry.
Prana: Vital energy; life-breath; life-force. In the human body the prana is divided into five forms: 1) Prana, the prana that moves upward; 2) Apana: The prana that moves downward, producing the excretory functions in general. 3) Vyana: The prana that holds prana and apana together and produces circulation in the body. 4) Samana: The prana that carries the grosser material of food to the apana and brings the subtler material to each limb; the general force of digestion. 5) Udana: The prana which brings up or carries down what has been drunk or eaten; the general force of assimilation.
Pranam: “To bow;” to greet with respect. A respectful or reverential gesture made by putting the hands together palm-to-palm in front of the chest. A prostration before a deity or revered person.
Pranamaya kosha: “The sheath of vital air (prana).” The sheath consisting of vital forces and the (psychic) nervous system.
Pranapratishta: “Installation of life;” a ritual which is done to an image when it is set on the altar of a temple at its consecration. This ritual makes the image alive in a subtle–but no less real–sense.
Pranava: A title of Om, meaning “Life-ness” or “Life-Giver.” Om is the expression or controller of prana–the life force within the individual being and the cosmos.
Pranayama: Control of the subtle life forces, often by means of special modes of breathing. Therefore breath control or breathing exercises are usually mistaken for pranayama.
Prapancha: The world; appearance of the world.
Prarabdha: Karma that has become activated and begun to manifest and bear fruit; karmic “seeds” that have begun to “sprout.”
Prarabdha karma: The action that has begun to fructify, the fruit of which is being reaped in this life.
Prasada(m): Food or any gift that has been first offered in worship or to a saint; that which is given by a saint; literally: “grace.”
Pratibha: Special mental power; imaginative insight; intelligence; splendor of knowledge; intuition; ever-creative activity or consciousness; the spontaneous supreme “I”-consciousness; Parashakti.
Pratima: Image; symbol; reflection; idol; figure; creator.
Pratipaksha bhavana: The method of substituting the opposite through imagination; thus, fear is overcome by dwelling strongly upon its opposite, viz., courage. Reflecting on and cultivating those traits which are opposed to spiritual obstructions.
Pratyagatman: The Self whose existence is understood only by turning one’s vision inward; the indwelling Self; kutashtha; Brahman.
Pratyahara: Abstraction or withdrawal of the senses from their objects, the fifth limb of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga.
Pratyaksha: Perception; direct perception; intuition.
Pratyayau: Content of the mind-field; presented idea; cognition principle; cognition; causal/awareness principle; awareness perceiving [through the mind]; buddhi; discriminatory intelligence; immediate arising thought directed to an object; cause; mental effort; imagination; idea of distinction.
Pravrajin: A wandering sannyasi.
Pravritti: Action; endeavor. Literally: “to turn forth.”
Pravritti Marga: The path of active involvement in the world.
Prayag: Rudraprayag, the modern-day Allahabad, site of the Triveni–the confluence of the three sacred rivers: Ganges, Jumna (Yamuna), and Saraswati.
Prayaschitta: Atonement (through various prescribed acts); expiation; mortification.
Prayatna: Effort; attempt; conscious activity.
Prema: Love, both human and divine; in the latter sense an ecstatic experience, interior disposition or movement which brings the lover into oneness with the Beloved.
Prema-bhakti: Intense love of God.
Premeshananda, Swami: Affectionately known as “Premesh Maharaj,” Swami Premeshananda was a disciple of Sri Sri Ma Sarada Devi, the wife of Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa, and a renowned monk of the Ramakrishna Order.
Preta: Ghost; spirit of the dead.
Preyo marga: The path of the pleasing, the pleasant, the pleasurable, or of worldly gain, as opposed to the path of the good or truly beneficial.
Prithvi: The planet earth; the earth element, from which the sense of smell (gandha) arises
Priya(m): Dear; beloved; pleasing. It can also mean the happiness or joy felt when seeing a beloved object.
Puja: Worship; ceremonial (ritual) worship; adoration; honor. Usually involving the image of a deity.
Pujari: One who performs ritualistic worship (puja).
Punarjanma: “Birth again;” rebirth/reincarnation.
Pundit: Scholar; pandita; learned individual.
Punya: Merit; virtue; meritorious acts; virtuous deeds.
Purana: Literally “The Ancient.” The Puranas are a number of scriptures attributed to the sage Vyasa that teach spiritual principles and practices through stories about sacred historical personages which often include their teachings given in conversations.
Purana Purusha: The Ancient Person; God.
Purascharana: An observance consisting of the repetition of a mantra–as many hundred thousand times as there are “letters” (Sanskrit consonants) in it. This is done with rigid rules regarding diet, number of japa to be done per day, seat, etc.
Purna: Full; complete.
Purnima: Full moon day.
Purohita: Priest; class of Vedic priests.
Purusha: “Person” in the sense of a conscious spirit. Both God and the individual spirits are purushas, but God is the Adi (Original, Archetypal) Purusha, Parama (Highest) Purusha, and the Purushottama (Highest or Best of the Purushas).
Purushartha: The four goals of human life: wealth (artha), desire (kama), righteousness (dharma), and liberation (moksha). The first is the economic value, the second is the psychological value, the third is the moral value, and the fourth is the spiritual value. Human effort; individual exertion; right exertion.
Purushottama: The Supreme Person; Supreme Purusha. (See Purusha.)
Purva samskaras: Previous samskaras; that is, samskaras brought over from previous lives.
Purvashram: Previous stage of life.
Pusan: Surya, the Sun-god.
Pushpanjali: Flower offering.
Putraishana: Desire for progeny.
Originally posted 2016-04-11 15:05:04.