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 word chakra means "wheel" in Sanskrit There are many chakras in the body, including several major chakras along the median of the body (along the spine) and on the hands, feet, knees, and other body areas.


CHAKRA-PUJA : Literally, “circle worship” the group ritual of union, performed collectively by a circle of Tanrtic initiates. The rite is designated Panchamakara or “five sacrifices.”


CHAKRASANA: Sexual poses associated with rituals of the chakras. Also used to represent the sexual circle pose or ritual.


Cin-mudra: a common hand gesture (mudra) in meditation (dhyana), which is formed by bringing the tips of the index finger and the thumb together, while the remaining fingers are kept straight


Cit ("consciousness"): the superconscious ultimate Reality (see atman, brahman)


Citta ("that which is conscious"): ordinary consciousness, the mind, as opposed to cit


CIT-SAKTI: Consciousness as power, the supreme energy.


Chi (Qi): Chi is the Chinese word for the flows of subtle energy in the body that move along pathways called meridians. A clear flow of energy through the meridians is the key to radiant health, eroticism, and intimacy.


Chi Kung (or Qi-Gong): Literally means "breath work." It is a system of movement, meditation, and breathing that can unblock, align, and purify the body"s energy so that the entire being - body, mind, and spirit - can function more harmoniously.


COSMIC CYCLE: ”The sequence of yugas. India does not think in terms of historical time, but conceives of time as cyclical, through the doctrine of yugas or ages. A complete cosmic cycle consists of four successive ages of varying length. At the end of each maha-yuga, the world is

dissolved in a cosmological event known a laya, or dissolution, in order to manifest again. This phase is known as srsti, emanation or creation, and is followed by a phase called sthiti, evolution and preservation, then by samhara, dissolution. Thus is created a continuous cycle of cosmic events.


C.T.E. Certified Tantra Educator: The C.T.E. title is "an indication that this educator as having the necessary skills to provide quality, professional Tantric instruction to individuals and groups. This unique, trademarked certification process, verifies that students have completed several months of direct instruction over several years in advanced Tantric practices, principles, practical applications, and professional teaching techniques."


Dakini: "Skydancer.": The embodiment of cosmic feminine energy, enlightened wisdom. A female Tantrika or Yogini. Literally, a sky-goer, but sometimes also translated as space-goer, celestial woman or cloud fairy. A being who has attained high realizations and helps arouse blissful energy in a qualified tantric practitioner.


Damaru: A small hand drum used in tantric rituals.


Devas: External powers.


Deva ("he who is shining"): male deity, such as Shiva, Vishnu, or Krishna, either in the sense of the ultimate Reality or a high angelic being


Devata: A form of divinity, generally male.


Devi: "Shining one.": Refers to the feminine principle or the Goddess.

Dhyana: Sanskrit word for meditation.


Dharana ("holding"): Concentration. the sixth limb (anga) of Patanjali's eight-limbed yoga


Dharma: From the Sanskrit “dhamma” which means “the supporting element.

Used in Buddhism to represent the ultimate irreducible factors out of which everything is composed that we believe to perceive within and without ourselves. Also used by various sects to mean universal law, righteousness, duty, property, or object.


Dharma Protector: Beings who vow to protect and guard the teachings of the Buddha and its followers. Dharma protectors can be either mundane (virtuous samsaric beings) or wisdom Dharma protectors (emanations of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas).


Dharmavicaya: Discernment of what is Dharma and what is not.


Dhyana ("ideating"): meditation, the seventh limb (anga) of Patanjali's eight-limbed yoga Very deep meditation or concentration that can be reached by the practice of samadhi. This is where one attains supernormal powers, sees his past lives, and gains wisdom of the true nature of reality. There are four levels of dhyana which correspond to the four levels of the form realm. This very deep meditation can also result in being born in these four levels of the form realm.


Diksha ("initiation"): the act and condition of induction into the hidden aspects of yoga or a particular lineage of teachers; all traditional yoga is initiatory


Drishti ("view/sight"): yogic gazing, such as at the tip of the nose or the spot between the eyebrows.


Duhkha ("bad axle space"): suffering, a fundamental fact of life, caused by ignorance (avidya) of our true nature (i.e., the Self or atman) The root word of dukkha implies the axle of a wheel that is out of place, so that the wheel wobbles and creates inappropriate stresses on the axle. Thus dukkha is the pain and dissatisfaction in life that arises from thoughts, speech, and actions which are out of alignment.


Druidism: is a spiritual or religious movement that generally promotes harmony, connection, and reverence for the natural world.


Durga: "She who is difficult to go against." Durga represents the triumphant aspect of Shakti, the cosmic energy of destruction, particularly the removal of the ego which stands in the way of spiritual growth and ultimate liberation. The Goddess Durga evokes strength, health, and purity.


Dvandva: Pairs of opposites, such as light/dark, male/female, hot/cold, pleasure/pain, positive/negative.


Energy Orgasm: n orgasm should not be thought of as a sexual experience, but as an energy thing. This means that an orgasm can be experienced anywhere in the body and does not have to be connected with the genital area of a person, instead it can be experienced in the head. An energy orgasm does not require penetration, instead it requires the activation of the senses, touch, taste, sound, hearing, smell.


Equanimity: Attitude without the usual discrimination of sentient beings into friend, enemy and stranger, deriving from the realization that all sentient beings are equal in wanting happiness and not wanting suffering and that since beginningless time all beings have equally been ones mother in some previous life. An impartial mind that serves as the basis for the development of great love, great compassion and bodhicitta. This type of mind is characterized as an even-tempered attitude toward everyone, it manifests as a quieting of attachment and ill-will toward others. It fails when it manifests as indifference.


FEMALE PARTICIPANT: Partner in performing sexo-yogic ritual who is considered to be the reflection of Sakti, and plays the role of divine Energy, without which the practice of tantric asana cannot be successful.


Feng Shui: is the ancient Chinese science of arranging objects and surroundings in the best possible way to balance sacred energy and attract toward us all the benevolent forces of the cosmos.


Five paths: t refers to paths or stages along which beings progress to liberation and enlightenment:

1. path of accumulation (tib.: tsog lam) - we reach it when we realize renunciation and Bodhicitta (the latter in case of Mahayana path of accumulation);

2. path of preparation (tib.: jor lam) - deepening our understanding of reality and emptiness;

3. path of seeing (tib.: tong lam) - see emptiness directly and become Arya;

4. path of meditation (tib.: gom lam) - using insight gained in path of seeing we remove obscurations even further. In case of Mahayana path, we progress from first to tenth bhumi;

5. path of no more learning (tib.: mi lob lam) - achievement of Nirvana (Hinayana path) or Buddhahood (Mahayana path). We become Arhat (Hinayana path) or Buddha (Mahayana path

Ganesha: The elephant-headed God, son of Parvati and Shiva. Ganesha is the remover of all obstacles - physical, emotional, and psychic. He is invoked at the start of any new undertaking. In tantric tradition, he is the visionary inside us, the indomitable will within, the remover of obstacles, our own intelligence and conscience, and our constant guide and friend. He stands as the gatekeeper at the door of our conscience.


Genyen: Literally pursuer of virtue. Genyen is someone who keeps vows known as layman or laywomans vows. These five vows can either be taken all at once, or any of these vows can be taken distinctly, and they can either be taken for ones whole lifetime, or for a period of time that we decide ourselves. The lay ordination, when it is taken fully, is called the Genyen ordination.


Geshe: Literally virtuous friend. This title was given to spiritual masters in Atishas Kadam tradition, but nowadays it is more used as an academic title for a learned monk, who finished his study of important Buddhist scriptures and underwent series of rigorous oral examinations characterized by vigorous debate. According to the level of Geshe degree, it can take up to 25 years of study to reach it. There are usually four levels of Geshes: Lharampa (the highest, equivalent to PhD on the west), Tsogrampa, Dorampa and Lingse (the lowest).


Ghanta: Bell.


Ghata: A pot or sacred vessel.


Guru: Teacher, spiritual guide; lit., dispeller of darkness.


G spot: Rippled tissue located just behind the front wall of the vagina (towards the belly), about two inches inside. The G spot is short for Grafenberg or, in Tantric circles, for Goddess. Stroking this area can greatly deepen a woman's sexual response.


Granthi ("knot"): any one of three common blockages in the central pathway (sushumna-nadi) preventing the full ascent of the serpent power (kundalini-shakti/); the three knots are known as

brahma-granthi (at the lowest psychoenergetic center of the subtle body), the vishnu-granthi (at the heart), and the rudra-granthi (at the eyebrow center)


Guna ("quality"): a term that has numerous meanings, including "virtue"; often refers to any of the three primary "qualities" or constituents of nature (prakriti): tamas (the principle of inertia),

rajas (the dynamic principle), and sattva (the principle of lucidity)


Gyaispa: In Tibetan Tantrism, the power of procuring prosperity, fame, progeny, etHAKINI: The Sakti who presides over the Ajna chakra


Hatha Yoga: Hatha means "force" and represents the union of two words - ha, "sun," and tha, "moon." Hatha yoga is the ancient Indian system of physical postures and breathing exercises that balances the opposing masculine and feminine forces in the body, the "sun" and the "moon."


HA: The symbol of Shakti, while “A” is the symbol of Siva.


Hamsa ("swan/gander"): apart from the literal meaning, this term also refers to the breath (prana) as it moves within the body; the individuated consciousness (jiva) propelled by the breath


Ida-nadi ("pale conduit"): The prana current or arc ascending on the left side of the central channel (sushumna nadi) associated with the parasympathetic nervous system and having a cooling or calming effect on the mind when activated


Ida: One of the three principal channels of the subtle body. It is the (female, lunar) nadi going about the central sushumna


Ista-Devata: An individual’s chosen deity.


Ishvara ("ruler"): the Lord; referring either to the Creator or, in Patanjali's yoga-darshana, to a special transcendental Self (purusha)


Ishvara-pranidhana ("dedication to the Lord"): in Patanjali's eight-limbed yoga one of the practices of self-restraint (niyama)


Jaina (sometimes Jain): pertaining to the jinas ("conquerors"), the liberated adepts of Jainism; a member of Jainism, the spiritual tradition founded by Vardhamana Mahavira, a contemporary of Gautama the Buddha


Jagadauru: The world teacher.


Jagrat: Waking consciousness.


Japa ("muttering"): the recitation of mantras


Jataka: Birth stories or tales. Collection of 547 stories of previous lives of Buddha Shakyamuni which usually illustrate a point of doctrine or morality. These stories depict the good acts carried out by Buddha Shakyamuni in previous lifetimes that enabled him to be reborn as the Buddha in India. Jataka tales are part of Pali canon and are contained in Khuddaka nikaya section of Sutra Pitaka.


Jitandriya: Control of the senses; in Tantrism, control of the sexual act and orgasm.