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SHORT SANSKRIT GLOSSARY OF THE NEW YOGA

 

 

‘A’ – in Kashmir Shaivism the primary vowel associated with SHIVA and the one most effective in expanding awareness (CHIT) to its ultimate reaches. Associated with ultimate reality (ANUTTARA). Also a negating prefix equivalent to ‘non-‘, ‘un-‘, or ‘-less’.

 

ABHINAVAGUPTA – 10th century tantric adept, teacher, aesthetician and philosopher whose works are equivalent in status and significance in Indian thought to those of an Augustine or Aquinas in Europe and the West.  Author of numerous innovative treatises and interpretations of tantric aesthetics, scriptures, metaphysics, mantra and ritual.

 

ACHARYA – teacher of basic precepts or ‘preceptor’.

 

ADHIKARIN – a student ‘competent’ or ‘qualified’ through preliminary studies and genuine desire to learn to receive direct teachings and initiation from a Guru. 

 

ADVAITA (A-DVAITA) –‘non-dual’. In The New Yoga ‘Advaita’ is understood neither as a unity lacking all differentiation or distinction, nor as duality (Dvaita) in the form of separation but as a relation of inseparable distinction, like two sides of a coin.

 

AGNI – the Vedic ‘fire god’ and at the same time fire as such perceived as mediator between human beings and the gods. Agni does not merely represent or symbolise fire but is its living and divine essence – understood as the eternal flame of truth and awareness in whose light all thoughts and all things are transcended, burnt up and reduced to smoke and ash. The SHIVALINGA is pictured as an infinite column of fire.

 

AHAM – ‘I AM’, the MANTRAM                         of the self in its fourfold aspect of unboundedness (‘A’), wondrous awareness of being (‘AH’), expressiveness (‘HA’), and embodiment (‘AM’). In Kashmir tantricism it is called the ‘heart’ (HRDAYA) of awareness.

 

AHAMKARA – the making of the limited egoic self or ‘I’ with its twin delusions of ownership and agency. That which makes us think of ourselves as (a) independent ‘subjects’ of consciousness whose awareness is ‘our own’ private property rather than a portion of the universal or divine awareness and (b) makes us believe that our ego or ‘I’ is an independent subject or agent of action separate and apart from action, rather than a part of the power of action (SHAKTI) immanent with the divine awareness (SHIVA).  

 

AHIMSA (A-HIMSA) –  ‘non-violence’. The ethical principle of abstaining from violence or harming life central to Jainism and Buddhism and the most important abstention in Yoga. 

 

AKASHA – ‘space’ itself, as the condition for our perception of anything ‘in’ it – an unbounded extensional field of awareness inseparable from, but also distinct from every object within in it. The Sanskrit equivalent of ‘Spirit’ understood as the infinite all-pervading spaciousness of awareness pervaded with the higher air or ‘aether’ of awareness.

 

AKULA (A-KULA) – the unbounded space and formless field of awareness from and within which all bounded, formed and embodied units of awareness (ANU) emerge.

 

AKRAMA (A-KRAMA) – simultaneity or non-sequentiality. Awareness as an  infinitely spacious sphere of time, a time-space embracing all possible pasts, presents and futures.

 

ANANDA –  the divine ‘bliss’ that is the highest sensual quality belonging to the direct experience of the pure and unbounded awareness (ANUTTARA, CHAITANYA, SHIVA) that is the Divine.

 

ANANTA (A-NANTA)  – ‘without end’, infinite. The eternal reality of universal and individual awareness.

 

ANAVAMALA – the limitation or ‘impurity’ of identification with the ‘empirical’ or experienced self in contrast to the experiencing self or ‘awareness self’ (CHAITANYAtman). The experience of self as a bounded bodily being separate and apart from other beings, rather than a part of the universal awareness that is SHIVA and its immanent power of action or SHAKTI. Identification or bondage to the delusions of the ‘I-making’ ego - Ahamkara.

 

ANU – a basic ‘atomic’ unit of awareness, one whose boundary both distinguishes and unites it with the larger field of awareness around it.

 

ANUTTARA (A-NUTTARA) – meaning that which is ‘non-higher’ - ultimate reality. The trans-personal, absolute and beginningless awareness (CHIT) that lies behind all experienced phenomena and the source of all that is. Otherwise termed Anuttara Chit  or Parachit.

 

ARUPA (A-RUPA) – without form, formless. The formless is understood in The New Yoga not simply as emptiness or nothingness but as a realm of infinite formative potentials latent within pure awareness (SHIVA) and given birth through the power (SHAKTI) of formative and transformative action.

ASAT (A-SAT) -  ‘non-being’ or ‘non-existence’ - understood in The New Yoga not as a realm of nothingness but as as that realm which contains ‘no-thing’ actual or existent - for instead it is a realm of infinite and inexhaustible potentiality as opposed to the ream of actuality that is ‘being’ or ‘existence’.    

 

ATMAN – from atma (‘breath’), at (‘to breathe’) and the root ap – to ‘pervade’ or ‘reach up to’.  The Self that, being nothing but awareness is identical (CHIT) with the supreme awareness (ANUTTARA, CHAITANYA). That Self which also constantly and quite literally breathes us into being - from and as the all-surrounding cosmic ‘aether’ (AKASHA) or ‘vital air’ of awareness (PRANA).

 

AVATAR – from ava (‘down’). A ‘descent’ or incarnation of the Divine in the form of a particular deity or human being. Ultimately the everyday self we experience is itself an Avatar of the divine Awareness Self (CHAITANYATMAN/ATMAN). This is itself is an Avatar of the Divine within us - just as every specific self-image or identity we project or embody is an Avatar of our everyday self.

 

AVIDYA (A-VIDYA) – lack of knowledge or ignorance. In all traditions of spiritual knowledge (Greek gnosis/Sanskrit Jnana) ignorance is seen as the source of all suffering, and life as an unending process of learning. 

 

BHAIRAVA – the terrifying aspect or face of SHIVA. BHAIRAVA MUDRA   is a meditative bearing (MUDRA) in which the eyes are open outwards but the gaze is turned inward, or in which both inner and outer awareness are united as one singular luminous field.

 

BINDU – ‘dot’ or ‘point’. (1) Traditional dot on the forehead made with kumkum powder and representing the ‘third eye’ (2) Points of power or ‘singularities’ at the inner core of all ANU or ‘units of awareness’ (bodily, cellular, molecular and atomic). Like ‘black-white holes’, Bindu act as channels between the primordial realms (LOKA) of potentiality and actuality. Through them, all vital and formative power (SHAKTI) flows - with an intensity than can be increased with expanded awareness.

 

BRAHMAN – from the Sanskrit root brh, meaning to ‘swell’ or ‘increase’, ‘roar’, and make full or ‘great’. The primary god-concept of the philosophical tradition known as Vedanta, which understands Brahman as the absolute, ‘great’ and supreme reality – all else belonging to the realm of illusion (MAYA) stemming from ignorance (AVIDYA). In the Vedas, the word ‘brahman’ refers to both the process by which awareness is poetically worded in speech as well as to the products of that process. Brahman is characterised in the Upanishads as a triadic unity of SAT (existence), CHIT (awareness) and ANANDA (bliss). 

 

BRAHMANA (‘Brahmin’) - a poetic and/or priestly guardian of the correct wording of Truth (RITA). Also a sacred text, ritual or commentary.

 

BUDDHI/CHITTI – mind and mental activity understood as emerging from, clearly mirroring or distorting and obscuring a larger field, lake or ocean of pure awareness.

 

BUDDHISM – a reformatory movement that emerged from Hinduism and identified the absolute neither with a divine God-being awareness nor with  an ultimate and divine awareness, but rather with non-being understood as pure emptiness, the non-existence of self-subsistent entities of any sort, whether things, beings or selves. Buddhism substitutes ‘awakening’ (‘Budh’) to the truth of ultimate emptiness for identification with the ultimate and divine awareness (ANUTTARA).

 

CHAITANYA – awareness or ‘subjectivity’ understood as an absolute and ultimate reality (ANUTTARA) transcending any specific being or subject, and yet also as the source and essential self of all beings - all individualised consciousness. 

 

CHAITANYATMAN – ‘awareness self’. This means that self (ATMAN) which does not own or ‘have’ but is awareness (CHAITANYA), an awareness unbounded by the body and identical with absolute or divine awareness. In the first of the SHIVA SUTRA(S) – the foundational scripture of Kashmir Shaivism, the principle of the awareness self is announced through this word, which is sometime translated as a sentence: ‘the Self is Awareness’. 

 

CHAKRA – a centre or locus of awareness within, above or below the body, from each of which we experience our own body and the universe in a different way. The most important centres or ‘Chakra’ lie at a space above the crown of the head, on the crown, between the eyes and behind the forehead, within the breast, at the mid-point of the diaphragm, within the lower abdomen below the navel, at the seat of the spine and below the ground beneath ones feet.

 

CHIT – Awareness, consciousness or ‘subjectivity’.

CHITTI – see BUDDHI

 

DEVA(S)/DEVI(S) – ‘gods’ and ‘goddesses’ defined as ‘shining ones’, from the root div (to ‘shine’) each of which are expressions of the light of pure awareness (PRAKASHA) and identical with whole planes or spheres of awareness (LOKA). 

 

DIKSHA – from the roots da (to give), kshi (‘to destroy’), diksh (‘to consecrate’) and daksh (‘to grow’). Initiation by GURU. ‘Initiation’ here means direct wordless transmission of awareness from guru to disciple, whether by means of touch, a glance or gaze and/or through the word itself as Mantric utterance, audible or silent. 

 

GUNA(S) – ‘quality’ or ‘qualities’. Specifically the three primary qualities known as tamas, raja and sattva associated respectively with the colours black, white and red, and with the qualities of dark inertia or gravity, vital impulse and movement, and expansive transcendental calm, radiance and lightness. In the New Yoga these colours and qualities are understood as primary colourations and qualities of awareness which in their different combinations, are constitutive of nature, human nature and trans-human entities. The ‘4th’ Guna is NIRGUNA, that awareness which transcends all qualities or Gunas.

 

GURU – teacher or spiritual master, one who removes (ru) the darkness (gu) of ignorance by bestowing and imparting the light of awareness.

 

GURUKUL – the abode or residence of a GURU in which a family grouping (KULA) of students or disciples gather or group.

 

JIVA – the bound self, identified with its bodily boundaries, that is distinct but inseparable from the unbounded self and awareness that is identical with SHIVA.

 

KAULA – uniting the terms KULA and AKULA, KAULA refers to a school of Kashmiri Shaivist Tantrism which emphasises the relation or non-duality or inseparability between the entire formed or embodied cosmos (SHAKTI) and the formless field or space of awareness from which it emerges and which also permeates every body as its spiritual substantiality. In the Kaula school of Tantrism, this relation is embodied through practices which facilitate a sensuous bodily intercourse or unity of soul between partners, and through it, the experience of KAULA as the dynamic unity of AKULA and KULA that is SHIVA-SHAKTI.

 

KHECHARI MUDRA – the ability to freely move (charati) in the unbounded space (kha) of awareness that is centred in the heart, (hrdaya), the latter being both the entire hollow space of awareness felt within the region of the chest and abdomen and a locus of awareness at the mid-point of the diaphragm.

 

KULA – from the root kul, to group or gather or aggregate, refers both to a soul family or grouping, specially the family or circle (CHAKRA) formed of the GURU, his wife and their spiritual children or disciples. Ultimately Kula refers to the entire embodied cosmos as a grouping or aggregation of bodies, and to the fluid substantiality of awareness that condenses to form bodies and can flow from one body to another.  

 

KUNDALINI – the fire of awareness symbolised as a serpent coiled up at the base of the spine and capable of uncoiling and rising as heat and PRANA from the ‘glowing coals’ of the pelvic bowl (Kunda) up through the central hollow awareness space of the inwardly sensed body.

 

LINGA(M)/SHIVALINGA(M) – ‘Linga(m)’ means ‘symbol’, ‘mark’ or ‘sign’. The SHIVALINGA is the principle sign, mark or ‘Linga’ of SHIVA’. It is symbolised by a ‘shapeless shape’ – a shapeless or abstractly phallic-shaped stone. Its function is to symbolise the fact that entire world of names and forms (NAMARUPA) consists of nothing but marks or signs (Linga) of that pure, formless and shapeless awareness that is SHIVA. The Shivalinga is therefore a sign or ‘signifier’ of the sign nature of all things - not only of letters, words or names but of all manifest phenomena. In post-modern terms the Shivalinga is a ‘transcendental signifier’ – signifying only other signifiers, and not representing any objectively signified ‘thing’. Its sole ‘signified’ is no ‘transcendental object’ but ‘transcendental subjectivity’ – pure awareness. 

 

LOKA – a specific plane, sphere, domain or dimension of awareness that is at the same time a living dimension of divinity, one whose qualitative nature constitutes the very source and being of the beings, entities or deities that  dwell within it. There are countless LOKA or dimensions of awareness and countless types of entity dwelling within them, both human and trans-human,  physical and trans-physical. The three fundamental domains of awareness (see TRIKA) are understood in The New Yoga as the worlds of ‘non-being’ or pure potentiality, ‘being’ or actuality, and becoming or ‘be-ing’ (actualisation). The 4th realm is ‘Shivaloka’. This is the realm of pure awareness (SHIVA) in which the ‘gods’ or ‘shining ones’ (DEVAS) dwell as radiant sun- and star-like expressions of the divine light of awareness (PRAKASHA) – that which releases all things and beings into actuality from the dark realm of pure potentiality.

 

MAHADEVA – ‘great god’, one of the names of SHIVA.

 

MAHADEVI – ‘great goddess’ and partner of SHIVA, whose names include Amba/Ambika (mother), BHAIRAVI, Parvati, (Ma) Durga and (Ma) Kali.

 

MAHATMA – ‘great self’ or ‘great soul’. Another word for the larger Awareness Self (ATMAN/CHAITANYATMAN) of which we are an incarnation or Avatar – and/or an individual who fully embodies their divine Awareness Self.

 

MAITHUNA – the bliss of intracourse with the divine achieved through intercourse with the divine ‘soul body’ or ‘awareness body’ of another.

 

MANTRA – from the root man (‘to think’) and tra (‘to protect’). Mantra are syllables and words designed to express, embody, evoke or impart a higher awareness. Their sounds personify that awareness in a dual sense, communicating it through sound (Gr. per-sonare) and/or constituting the sonic image (MURTI) or mask (Gr. persona) of a particular deity.  According to The New Yoga the metaphysical basis of Mantra lies in the fact that the individual sounds our bodies utter when we speak are the echo of silent inner sounds with which our bodies themselves - indeed the entire universe - are uttered.

 

MOKSHA – ‘liberation’ or release (MUKTI) specifically from the cycle of birth, death and re-birth on the physical plane.

 

MUDRA – a meditative posture, gesture or ‘bearing’ which embodies and bears forth an inner bearing of soul or awareness. 

 

MUKTI – ‘release’ or ‘releasement’ (see MOKSHA).

 

MUNI – ‘silent one’. A sage in sense akin to the Greek mustai (‘initiates’) a word whose etymological meaning is silent or ‘closed mouthed ones. Absolute inner silence and stillness are key means to and attributes of pure awareness. 

 

MURTI – name for a human image or ‘idol’ of a Hindu god. The entire bodily comportment of the god in the Murti should be the visible embodiment of a profound meditational bearing or MUDRA, thus  possessing the capacity to bear forth, emanate and transmit the divine-transcendental states and qualities of awareness embodied by that bearing to those who meditate the Murti.

 

NAMARUPA – the entire realm of experienced phenomena including both forms (Rupa) and their names (Nama), things and thoughts, matter and mind.

 

NIRGUNA – the pure awareness which transcends the three primary colourations or ‘qualities’ of awareness known as GUNAS.

 

OM NAMAH SHIVAYA the most commonly recited five-syllable (Panchakshara) MANTRA of SHIVA.

 

PARAPRAMATA – the supreme experiencer or experiencing principle. In The New Yoga this is called The Awareness Principle - the principle that awareness or subjectivity as such, and not any awareness belonging to any particular being or ‘subject’, is the supreme trans-personal experiencer, finding its reflection (VIMARSHA) in the experienced self and reality of all beings. 

 

PRAKASHA – the innate self-luminous light of awareness that constitutes, illuminates and comes to recognise itself in all that is.

 

PRANA – not a ‘subtle energy’ but the vital, all-pervading breath or ‘air’ of awareness itself, its higher air or ‘aether’.

PRANAYAMA – the ‘restraint’ (yama) of breath. In The New Yoga this is not identified  with breath ‘control’ but is understood as a transition from a heightened awareness of breathing to the experience of breathing the higher air or aether of awareness as such (PRANA). What is ‘restrained’ through awareness of breathing is only aerobic breathing, which is gradually stilled and replaced by an anaerobic or ‘pranic’ breathing needing almost no oxygen at all.  

 

PUJA  - the practice of ‘idol worship’ or ‘Murti Darshan’, meditating in the presence (Darshan) of a god image or idol (MURTI) and meditating that MURTI as the materialisation and personification of divinity, in particular those divine-transcendental dimensions, states and qualities of awareness defining a particular deity and its plane or dimension of awareness (LOKA).

 

RITA – ‘Truth’, the most revered word for divinity in the Vedas, reflected also in the Theosophical dictum: ‘No Religion Higher than Truth’.

 

RUDRA – the fierce storm god and early name of SHIVA in the Rig Veda, derived from the root rud meaning ‘red’, ‘ruddy’ and/or ‘roaring’.

 

SADHANA – meditational practice, understood in The New Yoga as a practice of awareness based on The Awareness Principle.

 

SAT – existence or being. In The New Yoga, as implied in the tantric philosophy of Abhinavagupta, awareness (CHIT) is understood as inseparable from and yet more primordial in principle than being or existence. For “The being of all things that are recognised in awareness, in turn depends on awareness.” Abhinavagupta.

 

SIDDHA - from the root sidh, ‘to attain’. An adept whose meditational practices have enabled them to attain the powers of awareness known as SIDDHIS.

 

SIDDHI(S) – Seemingly ‘supernatural’ but in reality innate and natural powers of awareness (re-)attained through meditational practices of awareness or SADHANA.

 

SHAKTI(S) – from the root shak – ‘power’ or ‘capacity’. The feminine counterpart to SHIVA. Not any definable ‘thing’ such as ‘energy’ or ‘energies’ but the pure power of action latent in awareness and thus also the power of creative actualisation of all that is.

 

SHAKTIPAT – the ‘descent’ (-pat) of SHAKTI from the uppermost heights or ‘sky’ of awareness (Shivavyoman) experienced as a lightning flash of power (shak) from the cosmic aether (AKASHA) that can enter our crown centre through awareness of the vaulting heights above it - and in doing so make our whole body quiver and vibrate with its charge.    

 

SHIVA – a personification of the absolute awareness (ANUTTARA), Shiva is the primordial Awareness of Being at the heart of every being and thus also the very ‘I’-ness or ‘self-ness’ of the divine awareness, identical with that Self (CHAITANYATMAN) which IS awareness.

SHIVATVA/SHIVA TATTVA/SHIVABHOGA – the blissful state of ‘Shiva-consciousness’ or identity with the supreme awareness personifed by SHIVA.

 

SHIVALINGA(M) – see LINGA

SHIVALOKA – see LOKA

 

SHAIVISM – ‘Shiva-ism’ - those streams of Hinduism which identify Divinity as such with the Hindu god SHIVA. In the New Yoga, Shiva is not seen as a supreme being, or even as one god among others, but as the very beingness and primordial selfhood ‘I’-consciousness’ of the absolute, supreme and trans-personal awareness that is ANUTTARA. Personified, sculpted or pictured in human form, the meditational bearing or MUDRA(S) of Shiva embody and impart the recognition of his own identity – and that of all beings – with awareness as such, the non-duality (ADVAITA) of trans-personal and personal awareness. In this way Shiva is supreme GURU.

 

SHIVA-SHAKTI – the relation of inseparable distinction uniting twin aspects, male and female of divinity: ‘Shiva’ as pure awareness and ‘Shakti’ as pure power or potentiality, released as the autonomous power of action (shak) latent in awareness, and actualised in all things.

 

SHIVA-SUTRA(S) – the foundational scripture of Kashmir SHAIVISM, attributed to the divine revelations of Vasugupta.  

 

SHIVOHAM – a primary MANTRA of SHAIVISM which means ‘Shiva I am’ (‘Shiva-Aham’). It expresses the inner experience of knowing oneself as that Self (ATMAN/CHAITANYATMAN) which is identical with the pure awareness personified by SHIVA. This experience of self comes out of an inner dis-identification from all the countless elements that make up our ordinary, limited experience of ourselves and our world - and an identification instead with the pure awareness of each and every thing we experience within and around us.

 

SPANDA  - ‘slight movement’, ‘oscillation’, ‘vibration’ or ‘quivering’. The primordial awareness of ‘Non-being’ (ASAT) not as ‘emptiness’ but as a swelling womb (the BRAHMAN) of pregnant potentialities of being (the Great Goddess or MAHADEVI)  and resounding with the primordial sound ‘OM’. Awareness of the slight movement, quivering or stirring of these potentialities releases them into their own free and autonomous power (SHAKTI) of actualisation or existence (SAT) and becoming.

 

SUSHUMNA – the central ‘column’ or ‘tubualar citadel’ of the upper body, sensed from within as a ‘Body without Organs’ (Deleuze and Guattari), a hollow space of awareness (see also KUNDALINI/VIJNANADEHA)

 

TANTRA – ‘loom’ or ‘weave’, a word derived from the roots tan (to ‘spread’ or ‘expand’) and tra – to ‘guard’ or ‘be aware’ (the words guard, ward and awareness having the same root).  In its multiple uses the word ‘tantra’ refers to (a) the fabric or texture of awareness from which all things are woven (b) to specific texts or treatises (‘tantras’) pertaining to the nature of all that is, and (c) the path of ultimate liberation (MOKSHA) attained through dwelling in the absolute awareness which ultimately embraces and lies behind all that is. 

 

TRIKA – triple, threefold, triune. The triadic principle of the trinitarian or ‘Trika’ school of TANTRA was understood by ABHINAVAGUPTA as the highest tantric teaching. In The New Yoga, the most primordial trinity is understood as consisting of Non-being (understood as pure potentiality or power of actualisation), Being (actuality or existence) and Becoming - the pure power of actualisation (SHAKTI) released by pure awareness (SHIVA) from the realm of pure power or potentiality that is the Great Goddess or MAHAVEDVI.

 

VIJNANABHAIRAVATANTRA – the most important practical manual, treatise or ‘tantra’ of Kashmir SHAIVISM.

 

VIJNANADEHA – the body (Deha) of pure knowing (Vijnana), understood in The New Yoga as a ‘Body without Organs’ or ‘body of awareness’  – a field boundary between a hollow space of awareness sensed within our physical bodies and the empty space of awareness surrounding them. “Oh Mother, the whole body with all its organs, inside as well as outside, Thou doest bring them all to the void of awareness.”(Maheshvarananda). TheVIJNANABHAIRAVATANTA  places great emphasis on experiencing the head body as a hollow vessel and identifying with the spaces within and around it.

 

VIMARSHA – the ‘reflection’ of pure awareness in the world of experienced phenomena, bodily and mental, inner and outer, that are its own expression, manifestation, emanation or emission (Visarga).

 

YOGA – from the root yuj ( to ‘yoke’, ‘join’ or ‘unite’). The means to unity of the individual and universal awareness or ‘soul’ (JIVA and SHIVA). SHIVA is also known as ‘Lord of Yoga’, whose images or MURTI show him in a meditational comportment or bearing (MUDRA) that is an embodiment of the essence of Yoga, revealing his unity and identity with the Divine. ‘Hatha’ yoga, the ‘forced’ or ‘effortful’ practice of different physical stretching postures or Asanas finds no mention in the earliest of yoga treatises – the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.