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Glossary of Terms often used in Tantric Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism

A to Z

Abhidharmakosha: Literally The Treasury of Higher Knowledge. It is one of the five main texts that monks in monasteries study in much detail. It was written by Master Vasubandhu in the 4th century CE. The book presents various important topics such as ontology, psychology, cosmology, causality, states of consciousness, etc. This book is considered to be part of Hinayana, mainly of the Vaibhashika school.

Acupressure Points: The junctures of energy pathways in the body. Holding acupressure points for more than a minute or so causes the body to release neurochemicals called endorphins. The release of endorphins can create a euphoric "natural high" and encourage relaxation as well as magnetism and intimacy.

Adya Sakt : The Primal Energy.

Advaita ("nonduality"): the truth and teaching that there is only One Reality (/Atman, Brahman/), especially as found in the Upanishads;

Agama: Traditional doctrine, sacred knowledge related to Shaivism as revealed by Lord Shiva; tantric scriptures

Ahamkara ("I-maker"): the individuation principle, or ego, which must be transcended

Ahimsa ("nonharming"): the single most important moral discipline

Ajna: The sixth chakra or center of consciousness in the subtle body, situated between the

eyebrows. It is sometimes called the Third Eye. Two wing-like “petals” or subtle channels emanate from it.

Akasha* ("ether/space"): the first of the five material elements of which the physical universe is composed; also used to designate "inner" space, that is, the space of consciousness

Anahata: The fourth chakra or center of consciousness, situated in the cardiac region. It is sometimes called the “heart lotus.” Twelve mystic ducts or “petals” emanate from it.

Amrita ("immortal/immortality"): a designation of the deathless Spirit also the nectar of immortality that oozes from the psychoenergetic center at the crown of the head when it is activated and transforms the body into a "divine body" "Divine Nectar." Sanskrit term for female ejaculate. This fluid is different from urine and similar to the prostatic fluid of men. In Tantra Amrita is considered to be a powerfully healing substance.

Ananda: Divine bliss; joy; spiritual ecstasy the condition of utter joy, which is an essential

quality of the ultimate Reality

Anandamaya : The most subtle “bliss-formed” sheath (kosa) of the causal body, the sphere of the all-transcendent blissful consciousness.

Anga ("limb"): a fundamental category of the yogic path, such as asana, dharana, dhyana, niyama, pranayama, pratyahara, Samadhi, yama.

Anima : 1.Jung’s term for the feminine part of a man’s personality.

2. The part of the psyche that is directed inward, and is in touch with the subconscious.

Apavarga: Liberation, freedom, salvation; established in one’s true nature.

Apurva : From “a” meaning not, and “purva” meaning before. That which did not exist, now exists by virtue of practice; a ritual-created apurva creates a new pattern which projects into the future and creates a new reality.

Arhat: Sometimes also called Arhant, Arahat or Arahant; female Arhat is called Arhati. A being who has attained the fifth (and the last) path of no more learning by destroying mental afflictions and dualistic ego grasping.

Arya: A Noble being, who has attained the third path, the path of seeing emptiness directly. Arya knows the true nature of all phenomena and is a true Sangha refuge.

Asana: Yoga posture. Used to positively influence the energies of body and mind.

Ashta-anga-yoga, ashtanga-yoga ("eight-limbed union"): the eightfold yoga of Patanjali, consisting of moral discipline (yama), self-restraint (niyama), posture (asana), breath control (pranayama), sensory inhibition (pratyahara), concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and ecstasy (samadhi), leading to liberation (kaivalya)

Asmita ("I-am-ness"): a concept of Patanjali's eight-limbed yoga, roughly synonymous with ahamkara

Atman ("self"): the transcendental Self, or Spirit, which is eternal and superconscious; our true nature or identity; sometimes a distinction is made between the atman as the individual self and the parama-atman as the transcendental Self

Avidya ("ignorance"): the root cause of suffering

Avatar: A divine Incarnation. Hindu Mythology. the descent of a deity to the earth in an incarnate form or some manifest shape; the incarnation of a god. An embodiment or personification, as of a principle, attitude, or view of life.

A-U-M: The three sounds which compose the root mantra, om. The sound-values of om and their symbolic interpretation are described in the Upanishads: ""A" as the waking consciousness, "U" as the dream-consciousness and "M" as the consciousness during deep sleep. Om as a whole represents the all-encompassing cosmic consciousness."

Aura: The aura is a term used to describe the field of energy that is generated by various energies in the body, it is the human energy field. .

Ayurveda: "Science of life." Ayurveda is the traditional system of medicine of India, which dates back thousands of years. The Sanskrit root ayu means "life," and veda means "pure knowledge."

Bandhas: Internal muscular exercises designed to strengthen the PC muscles and to direct and intensify sexual energy.

Bandha: Any of the three inner knots or locks that hold the pranic energy or psychic energy within certain areas (chakras) of the body

Banowa: A Tibetan word encompassing the Yoga of Ascendancy, by which the yogi can influence men, animals and inanimate objects.

Bardo: A Tibetan word meaning the intermediate state of the discarnate ego, between death and rebirth.

Bell: A tantric implement symbolizing wisdom which is held in the left hand (the female side), usually in conjunction with vajra, which symbolizes method (compassion or bliss), held in the right hand (the male side).

Bhagasana: Sexual posture in which the male member is “locked” in prolonged erection inside the yoni of a female partner while the female works the muscles of the vaginal area and the pair unite in a strong mental focus specified by the ritual practiced.

Bhagavan: One of the ten honorable titles of a Buddha. Bhagavat means possessing fortune, venerable, or holy. In Buddhism, it is used as an epithet for a Buddha and is often translated as a blessed one.

Bhakti-Yoga: Realization through love and devotion; intense desire and will for union with one’s chosen deity.

Bhavana: Meditation.

Bhoga: Enjoyment.

Bhagavad Gita ("Lord's Song"): the oldest full-fledged yoga book found embedded in the Mahabharata and containing the teachings on karma yoga (the path of self-transcending action), samkhya yoga (the path of discerning the principles of existence correctly), and bhakti yoga (the path of devotion), as given by the God-man Krishna to Prince Arjuna on the battlefield 3,500 years or more ago

Bhagavata-Purana ("Ancient [Tradition] of the Bhagavatas"): a voluminous tenth-century scripture held sacred by the devotees of the Divine in the form of Vishnu, especially in his incarnate form as Krishna.

Bhakta ("devotee"): a disciple practicing bhakti yoga

Bhakti ("devotion/love"): the love of the bhakta toward the Divine or the guru as a manifestation of the Divine; also the love of the Divine toward the devotee

Bhakti-Sutra ("Aphorisms on Devotion"): an aphoristic work on devotional yoga authored by Sage Narada; another text by the same title is ascribed to Sage Shandilya

Bhakti Yoga ("Yoga of devotion"): a major branch of the yoga tradition, utilizing the feeling capacity to connect with the ultimate Reality conceived as a supreme Person.

Bhumi: Literally ground. A stage of realization and activity of a Bodhisattva on the path to Buddhahood. Usually ten such levels are recognized. Chandrakirti says in the Bodhisattva-Avatara Shastra that the aspiration to climb the Bodhisattva Bhumis is reached by practicing the 6 Paramitas, which are then successively lead to perfection through the first six Bhumis.

BINDU—Dot: ("seed/point"): the creative potency of anything where all energies are focused a sacred symbol of the universe in its unmanifested form. Meaning a point, drop, dot; seed or source; union of Shiva and Shakti; synonym for sexual potency which must be stabilised along with the mind and prana to achieve the goal of yoga; in kundalini yoga, it refers to the concentrated energy field at or above the ajna chakra.

Bija Mantra: A Tantric technique for awakening, purifying, and activating the chakras. Bija means "seed," and the bijas used in this mantra are the core sounds that pertain to the seven chakras.

Bodhichitta: Usually translated as Wish for Enlightenment or Awakening Mind. Bodhichitta is defined as the wish to achieve Buddhahood for the benefit of others. Bodhichitta is the main mind and not a mental factor and it is an underlying motivation of practitioners of Mahayana Buddhism. Beings who have realized Bodhichitta are called Bodhisattvas.

Bodhisattva: "One whose essence is enlightenment." Bodhi is the Sanskrit word for "enlightenment" and sattva means "essence." in Mahayana Buddhist yoga, the individual who, motivated by compassion is committed to achieving enlightenment for the sake of all other beings

Brahma: "The Creator." In Hindu mythology, Brahma is the senior member of the triad of the great Gods Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. In Tantric cosmology, Brahma is the creator of the world and is the embodiment of all creativity.

Brahmacharya: The discipline of chastity, which produces ojas

Brahman: ("that which has grown expansive"): the ultimate Reality

Brahmana: a brahmin, a member of the highest social class of traditional Indian society; also an early type of ritual text explicating the rituals and mythology of the four Vedas.

Breath Orgasm: Breath orgasm works by removing negative emotions through breath and clearing the blocked energy pathway from the base of the spine to the crown. It is this clearance that allows the orgasmic, positive energy to flow freely towards the crown chakra and out of the body.

Bhairava: Vibrant form of Shiva; often associated with destruction; the form of Shiva that destroys ignorance and grants mental clarity and spiritual illumination.

Bon: The indigenous religion of Tibet. A form of nature-worship and shamanism, which through time merged with Buddhism to the extent that now His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama counts it as the fifth main school of Tibetan Buddhism. Some elements of the Bön religion can be traced also in the contemporary Buddhism, particularly in the Nyingma school.

Buddha ("awakened"): a designation of the person who has attained enlightenment (bodhi) and therefore inner freedom; honorific title of Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, who lived in the sixth century B.C.E.

Buddhi ("she who is conscious, awake"): the higher mind, which is the seat of wisdom

The principle of intelligence; that intelligence which reveals knowledge of the cosmic unity.

Chakras: Centers of consciousness and psychic energy in the body. The wor