Sanskrit Glossary of Yoga Tantra Terms – 1


Definitions found on this page are from book “Sri Vijnana Bhairava Tantra” by Swami Satyasangananda, whose subject matter is mostly Kriya-Yoga and Tantric meditation practices.

WARNING: In reference to Advaita (non-duality) — the language and interpretations of Tantric terms are dualistic in nature as the philosophy itself is dualistic. EG: In Advaita, “Consciousness” is non-changing, hence can never ascend/descend or expand. Yet in Tantra, we observe interpretations (by the authors) like “ascent, descent/expanding consciousness”. Advaita will strictly attribute these dualistic terms to the mind and NEVER to Consciousness.

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  • Abhyasa – constant, regular and uninterrupted practice; the basis of sadhana.
  • Adi guru – ancient, primordial or original guru; divine source from which the power of initiation and guidance descends
    to a line of gurus; an epithet of Sri Shankaracharya and sometimes of Dakshinamurti.
  • Advaita – literally, ‘non dual’; concept of oneness; monastic vision of reality.
  • Agama – literally, ‘to carry on’ or ‘go forward’; testimony; revelation; traditional knowledge; esoteric tradition of tantra, appropriate for kali yuga; tantric philosophy and scriptures in which Lord Shiva teaches Parvati, his consort; these texts outline a code of living which includes ritual, worship, discipline, meditation and attainment of siddhis; pre-date the Vedas.
  • Aghora – literally, ‘one for whom nothing is abominable’; one who is in total tune with nature, having mastered the elements; totally innocent.
  • Aham – I, absolute I.
  • Aham Brahmasmi – literally, ‘I am Brahma’ (supreme consciousness); one of the four mahavakyas, or great pronouncements, of Vedanta.
  • Ahamkara – faculty of ego, awareness of the existence of ‘I’; centre of individual mental, emotional, psychic and physical
  • Ahuti – oblations offered into the fire during yajna, or sacrifice.
  • Ajapa japa – spontaneous, unbroken repetition of mantra; meditation practice in which mantra is repeated in coordination with the incoming and outgoing breath; suffix ‘a’ in front of japa implies that the process of japa becomes
  • Ajna chakra – third eye (eye of knowledge); command or guru centre; psychic centre that is the seat of intuition.
  • Akaara -first letter of Sanskrit alphabet; first sound to emanate in space at the beginning of creation.
  • Akara – form
  • Akshara – indelible sound vibration contained within the letters that make up words and language; fifty in number; written on the lotus petals of the chakras.
  • Alambana – support (of awareness) in the form of thoughts or samskaras; base
  • Alasya – laziness; one of the obstacles in sadhana according to Sage Patanjali.
  • Anahad nada – literally, ‘unstruck sound’; unstruck cosmic sound that is reverberating throughout the universe; sound
    made without contact of two objects coming together; sound of the soul; although it emerges from anahata chakra, it is
    heard most clearly at bindu at the top back of the head.
  • Anahata chakra – psychic/pranic centre situated in the region of the heart and cardiac plexus; fourth chakra in human
  • Anandam (ananda) – state of supreme or unending bliss; beatitude.
  • Anandamaya kosha – body of bliss.
  • Anavopaya — means whereby the anu, or empirical individual, uses his own karanas, or instruments, i.e., senses, prana and mind, for self-realization. Includes disciplines concerning regulation of prana, rituals, japa, concentration, etc.; technique through which inner realization dawns; one of the four upaya sadhanas of tantra.
  • Angula – finger-width.
  • Anna – grain; food.
  • Annamaya kosha – material or food body.
  • Ansha – part
  • Antahkarana – literally, inner tool’ or ‘inner self; internal organ of consciousness; comprises manas, chitta, buddhi
    and ahamkara.
  • Anu – prefix representing the subtle dimensions; atom; infinitesimal point; little; limited, conditioned or empirical
  • Anugraha – divine grace; transmission of energy or shaktipath; blessing.
  • Anupaya – attainment of spiritual experience through little or no means or effort, for very advanced aspirants only.
  • Apara – immanent; lower; material; one of the threefold principles of shakti.
  • Apara para – both immanent and transcendental.
  • Ardha sahasrara – chakra below mooladhara.
  • Ardhachandrika – literally, ‘half-moon’; psychic centre corresponding to bindu visarga.
  • Arjuna – disciple of Sri Krishna who, in the Bhagavad Gita, received the highest knowledge from him; third of the five son’s of Kunti and King Pandu.
  • Arohan – ascent; used in context of ascent of consciousness; also refers to the ascending scale in music, psychic pathway
    used in kriya yoga and meditation which runs from mooladhara chakra up the front of the body to sahasrara chakra
    at the crown of the head.
  • Asana – according to Patanjali, a steady and comfortable meditation pose in which one is at perfect ease, a specific
    position of the body which balances and channels prana, opens the chakras and removes energy blocks; third stage of
    Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga.
  • Ashtanga yoga – the eight-limbed yoga of Patanjali, yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana
    and samadhi.
  • Ashwamedha vidya (ashvamedha vidya) – horse sacrifice; elaborate vedic ceremony undertaken by kings or emperors to attain a son or
    sovereignty; esoteric tantric meditation.
  • Ashwini mudra (ashvini mudra) – contraction of the anal sphincter.
  • Atharva Veda – last of the four Vedas; named after Sage Atharvan – who classified the agamas that existed under the
    name of tantra, and consolidated them in the Atharva Veda.
  • Atma chintan – reflective thinking.
  • Atman – pure consciousness which pervades everything; undying; self; spirit; soul.
  • Aum – primordial sound; cosmic vibration of the universe; universal mantra; Pranava; represents the four states of
    consciousness: conscious, subconscious, unconscious and superconscious; symbol of Brahmin; also spelt Om.
  • Avarohan – descent of consciousness; descending psychic pathway used in kriya-yoga and meditation which starts at
    sahasrara and travels down through sushumna to mooladhara chakra.
  • Avatara – descent or incarnation of supreme consciousness into human form, e.g., Rama, Krishna, Buddha and the other
    dashavataras, or ten incarnations, of Vishnu.
  • Avidya – ignorance of true reality; complete unawareness; nescience.
  • Avyakta – unmanifest; unseen.
  • Ayama – dimension.


  • Batuk – literally, ‘little’; one of the eight bhairavas or states of consciousness.
  • Bhagavad Gita – literally, ‘Song of God’; discourse on yoga between Sri Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefield at the
    onset of the Mahabharata war.
  • Bhairava – state of consciousness which precedes the ultimate experience of universal consciousness, or Shiva; an order or tradition, name or epithet of Lord Shiva in his fierce aspect; derived from the root ‘ravayati', which literally means ‘to
    howl' or ‘to wail'; the cry of separation from universal consciousness, which is almost within the aspirants reach; experience of intoxicated bliss.
  • Bhairavi – female counterpart or shakti of Bhairava, the fierce aspect of Lord Shiva.
  • Bhairavi pooja – ritual worship performed to invoke Bhairavi.
  • Bhasmasura – bhasma means ‘ashes’ and asura means ‘demon’; the demon who had the power to turn anyone to ashes by placing his hand on their head.
  • Bhava – intense inner attitude or subtle emotion; state of being.
  • Bhaya – fear, especially of the unknown.
  • Bhrumadhya – eyebrow center; kshetram, or contact point, for ajna chakra; also called trikuti.
  • Bhumika – stage, level or plane of evolution
  • Bija mantra – seed mantra or syllable
  • Bindu – point of potential energy where the descending consciousness first emerges into multiplicity and diversity; source; substratum of whole cosmos; compact mass of shakti gathered into an undifferentiated point; symbol for creation; psychic centre also known as bindu visarga; concentration point at the back of the head where the hair whorls; nucleus; drop of ojas according to tantra; symbol of Shiva; anusvara, or nasal sound indicated by a dot over a letter.
  • Brahma – cosmic creator in Hindu pantheon; one of the holy trinity; manifest force of life and creation; potentiality of
    mooladhara chakra.
  • Brahman – ever-expanding consciousness; absolute reality; derived from the root ‘bri’, meaning ‘to expand’.
  • Bri – to expand.
  • Buddhi – higher intellect, discrimination; intuitive aspect of consciousness by which the essential self awakens to truth;
    aspect of mind closest to pure consciousness; part of antahkarana which deals with understanding human nature;
    higher intelligence.


  • Chaitanyam atma – literally, ‘awareness is light’; eternal soul Chakra – literally, ‘wheel or vortex’; major psychic centre in
    the subtle body responsible for specific physical and psychic functions.
  • Chakra arudham – ascent of kundalini through the chakras Chakra bhedan – literally, ‘piercing of the chakras’.
  • Chausath shaktipeethas – sixty-four places of Shakti in India Chetana – consciousness (intermediate between the highest
    level and the ordinary empirical consciousness); that which has the ability to illumine the object on which it is focused.
  • Chidakasha – derived from ‘chit’, consciousness, and ‘akasha', space or ether; vast space or ether of individual consciousness where infinite psychic events can be visualized in front of the closed eyes during meditation; mental screen; also likened to a cave into the depths of the mind.
  • Chitta – individual consciousness which includes the conscious, subconscious and unconscious dimensions of the mind;  one of twenty-four elements constituting the mind; one of four aspects of antahkarana which receives impressions of
    experiences and stores them for future use in the form of samskaras; empirical mind.
  • Chitta vritti – mental fluctuation, movement or modification; five in number: pramana, or sources of right knowledge;
    viparyaya, or misconception; vikalpa, or unfounded belief; nidra, or the state of sleep; smriti, or memory.
  • Chitishakti – supreme energy of consciousness.
  • Chittam atma – literally, ‘awareness is atma’.
  • Chittam mantra – literally, ‘awareness is mantra’.


  • Dakshinayana – southern path; one of two prescribed paths of meditation.
  • Dashnam – ten orders of sannyasa formed by Adi Guru Shankaracharya: Saraswati, Giri, Tirtha, Ashrama, Bharati, Vanam,
    Aranya, Parvat, Sagar, Puri.
  • Devata – literally, ‘illumined being’; luminous nature of spirit; god; divine power; deity.
  • Devi – luminous nature of spirit in its female aspect; goddess; divine mother.
  • Dharana – literally, ‘to hold or possess’; practice of concentration; continuity of mental process on an object or idea;
    sixth stage of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga.
  • Dharma – values that complement the laws of nature; right conduct.
  • Dharma Shastras – scriptures concerning the inner knowledge of one’s duty in relation to all aspects of life.
  • Dhvani – sound vibration.
  • Dhyana – spontaneous state of meditation which arises out of the perfection of dharana; seventh stage of Patanjali’s
    ashtanga yoga; fusion of mind with the object of contemplation; inner awakening; natural expression of sattvic
  • Dosha – three humours of the body: phlegm, acid and wind; defect; one of the four main obstacles to sadhana according
    to Patanjali.
  • Dvaita – philosophy of supreme consciousness in which one perceives oneself as separate from the supreme self and aspires for union with it; dualism; philosophical school proposing two original realities; Brahma and Maya.
  • Dwadashanta (Dvadashanta) – literally, ‘the end of twelve’; two poles or points of rest between which the breath travels.
  • Dwesha (Dvesha) – repulsion; aversion; dislike.


  • Ekagra – one-pointed mind; fourth stage of evolution of mind; state of fixed attention.


  • Ganapatya – worshippers of Ganesha.
  • Ganesha – God of wisdom and remover of obstacles worshipped before any new undertaking; son of Shiva and Parvati,
    depicted as being short and fat with a large belly, four hands, riding a mouse and having the head of an elephant; symbol of all that is auspicious; scribe of Mahabharata.
  • Ganga – river Ganges, longest and most sacred river in India whose source is in Gangotri.
  • Gati – motion; gait.
  • Gayatri mantra – vedic mantra of twenty-four syllables: Om bhur bhuvah svaha, tat savitur varenyan, bhargo devasya dhimayi, dhiyo yonah prachodayat ; considered to be mother of the Vedas; represents female aspect of the sun.
  • Gayatri vidya – knowledge of or meditation on Gayatri.
  • Guna – qualities or attributes of nature; threefold aspects of manifest energy, prakriti, or nature, viz., tamas, rajas and sattwa; natural qualities governing life; genetic qualities of universe.
  • Guru – literally, ‘dispeller of darkness’; spiritual master; realized person who by the light of his own soul, or atma, can rid the disciple’s mind of ignorance and delusion.


  • Hamsa – swan; third stage of sannyasa; a sannyasin who can discriminate between reality and unreality, as the mythical
    swan separates milk from water.
  • Hiranyagarbha – cosmic subtle body; golden womb of creation; cosmic equivalent of tejas.
  • Hridayakasha – heart space; hridaya means ‘heart' and akasha means ‘space’.


  • Iccha – desire; will.
  • Iccha shakti – power of will.
  • Ida nadi – major nadi running on left side of spine from mooladhara to ajna chakra; pranic channel through which
    mental energy flows; lunar energy or chitta shakti; passive force; governs the conscious dimension.
  • Indriya – sensory organ, ten in number; see karmendriyas and jnanendriyas.
  • Ishvara – literally, ‘one who rules’; cosmic, causal body of sound, also known as parabindu, parashabda, supreme being
    or God; state of unchanging transcendental reality, corresponds to western concept of a personal God.


  • Jagrat – waking state related to the conscious mind; awake (to the world).
  • Jaimini – sage who wrote the Dharma Shastras.
  • Japa – repetition of a mantra or name of God.
  • Jata – matted locks worn by sadhus and ascetics.
  • Jivanmukta – soul liberated while living.
  • Jivatma – individual soul or consciousness; empirical self.
  • Jnana – higher knowledge, cognition or wisdom.
  • Jnanendriyas – five organs of sense perception and knowledge, viz., ears, eyes, nose, tongue and skin.
  • Jyotirlinga – natural oval-shaped stone worshipped as Lord Shiva; symbol of pure consciousness; jyoti means ‘light’ and
    linga means ‘mark' or to be ‘absorbed’; induces concentration of mind.
  • Jyotsna – light of the soul; light of consciousness; effulgence.


  • Kaala – time in the absolute sense, or eternity; the great destroyer; time principle; one of the five kanchuka, limiting aspects of energy, which creates the dimension of time and restricts the individual within it; one of the eight bhairavas or states of consciousness.
  • Kaala Bhairava – Shiva in his fierce aspect; dissolution of time Kaalagni – fire of time; kaala means ‘time’ and agni means
    ‘fire’; heat which takes place when time and space collide in a great explosion.
  • Kaivalya – liberation; comes from the word kevala, meaning ‘one only' ; superconscious state where all duality is transcended and only the one universal consciousness remains; highest state of samadhi; moksha; nirvana.
  • Kalaa – one of the kanchukas; limiting aspect of energy which restricts the creative power of individual consciousness  and body; ray or force which emanates from the nucleus of bindu due to vibrations caused by nada; part of letter or word.
  • Kali – primal manifestation of Shakti; divine mother; goddess of destruction; destroyer of time, space and object, i.e., ignorance
  • Kalpa vriksha – tree of knowledge; wish fulfilling tree.
  • Kanchuka – invisible cloak of maya which limits or restricts consciousness and creates the notion of duality; literally, ‘sheath’ or ‘envelope’; five in number, viz., kalaa, avidya, vidya, raga, kaala and niyati.
  • Kapala – skull.
  • Karmendriyas – five organs of action: hands, feet, vocal cords, tongue, excretory and reproductive organs.
  • Kashmir Shaivism – division of Shaivism found in North India Kaula Tantra – sect of tantra in which the mother is recognized as the guru of the family lineage.
  • Kevala – spontaneous; only one; beyond duality.
  • Kevala kumbhaka – spontaneous cessation of breath which occurs during samadhi, when the consciousness transcends
  • Khechari mudra – khechari literally means ‘to roam freely in the sky’; this mudra liberates consciousness from matter and
    allows the awareness to travel freely in space; important mudra of Lord Shiva.
  • Krishna – literally, ‘black’; an incarnation of Lord Vishnu; an enlightened person who lived in the Dwapara (Dvapara) Yuga, 5,000
    years ago, whose teachings are given in the Bhagavad Gita.
  • Kriya – activity, action, motion; dynamic kundalini yoga practice.
  • Kshipta – broken; scattered.
  • Kula – family lineage.
  • Kumari pooja – worship of virgin girls.
  • Kumbhaka – literally, ‘breath retention’; pre-meditation technique which steadies the mind and intensifies concentration.
  • Kundalini – spiritual energy; evolutionary force; referred to as serpent power; latent energy in mooladhara chakra; divine energy that transforms human consciousness; biopsychic energy.


  • Loka – seven planes of existence: bhuh, bhuvah, svahah, mahah, janah, tapah and satya.


  • Madhushala – literally, ‘place where honey is kept’; refers to amrit, or nectar, within the body of the seeker, which brings
    about a state of spiritual ecstasy; a place where intoxicating herbs and liquor are served.
  • Madhyama nada – literally, ‘middle sound’; subtle sound vibration; whispering sound.
  • Madhye taya – middle state.
  • Mahakaala – literally, ‘great or endless time’; timelessness; another name for Shiva, or universal consciousness.
  • Mahakaleshvara – one of the twelve jyotirlingas.
  • Mahashakti – literally, ‘great energy or power’; another name for kundalini which lies coiled like a serpent in mooladhara chakra.
  • Mahat – cosmic intelligence; higher individual consciousness.
  • Mahodaya – from maha meaning ‘great’ and udaya meaning ‘sunrise’; the great dawning; birth of new consciousness.
  • Manana – to contemplate.
  • Manas – lower or empirical mind; aspect of manifest mind involved in experiences of sensory perception and thought/counter-thought; mental faculty of comparing, classifying and reasoning; one of the four tools of the antahkarana.
  • Mandala – diagram within a circumference symbolizing the deeper aspects of man’s psyche, and capable of invoking
    cosmic power; complex geometrical symbol merging macrocosmic and microcosmic events.
  • Manipura chakra – literally, ‘city of jewels’; psychic centre situated behind the navel, associated with vitality and energy.
  • Manomani – condition of mind devoid of thought.
  • Manomaya kosha – mental sheath or body.
  • Mantra – literally, ‘that which liberates the mind’; subtle sound vibration which liberates mental forces; process of tantra
    for liberating energy from the limitations of mundane awareness and expanding consciousness.
  • Matrika – creative energy concealed in mantra; another name for mantra; little mothers; letters of Sanskrit alphabet.
  • Maya – literally, ‘illusion’; veiling power of manifest shakti; the illusory nature of the phenomenal world; ignorance of reality.
  • Moodha – confused, dull, forgetful state of mind; lowest mental state.
  • Moola ajnana – root of ignorance
  • Moola bhanda – locking of the perineum; technique for awakening mooladhara chakra and releasing brahma granthi.
  • Mooladhara chakra – lowest psychic center in human body where kundalini shakti emerges; situated in the perineum.
  • Moordha – minor psychic centre located above the palate where it opens into the nasal cavity.
  • Mudra – literally, ‘gesture’ or ‘attitude’ utilized to express or channel cosmic/pranic energy within the mind/body as an
    aid to concentration.
  • Muni – one who has achieved mauna, complete silence or stillness of mind; ascetic; sage.


  • Nabhi chakra – energy vortex situated behind navel.
  • Nada – subtle sound vibration heard in the meditative state.
  • Nada yoga – process of tracing psychic sound back to its original source in order to attain self-realization.
  • Nadanta – centre where difference between sound and experiencer dissolves.
  • Nadi – flow; river; pranic channel which conducts the flow of energy in the body; 72,000 in number.
  • Nara – man; matter.
  • Nasikagra – nose tip; also known as nasagra.
  • Navatma – nine states of consciousness or higher awareness, nine forms through which the atman can be realized.
  • Neti neti (na iti) – literally, ‘not this, not this' ; a famous exclamation of the Upanishads related to the impossibility of reducing divinity to any explanation or definition.
  • Nidra – sleep; isolation from mind and senses; unconscious state.
  • Nigama – vedic knowledge; ritual procedures.
  • Nirakara – formless; unmanifest.
  • Nirodha – mental state in which the mind is blocked or prevented from functioning; beyond three qualities, or gunas; complete cessation of patterns of consciousness when the mind is under perfect control.
  • Nirodhika – psychic centre where the experience of form is obstructed.
  • Nirvikalpa samadhi – superconscious state where mental modifications cease to exist, resulting in transcendence of the manifest world.
  • Niyama – five observances of personal discipline which render the mind tranquil for meditation: shaucha, santosha, tapas, swadhyaya (svadhyaya), ishvara pranidhana; second stage of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga.


  • Pancha makara – five makaras of tantra: mudra (psychic attitude), mansa (flesh), maithuna (physical union), matsya
    (fish), madya (wine).
  • Panchagni vidya – sadhana of sitting in the middle of five burning fires with the burning sun overhead acting as the fifth fire.
  • Para – supreme; greatest; highest; transcendental; one of the threefold principles of shakti.
  • Para vidya – transcendental knowledge.
  • Paradevi – supreme goddess; cosmic energy principle.
  • Paramahamsa – literally, ‘supreme swan’; high order of sannyasins who are able to discriminate between reality and unreality.
  • Paramatma – cosmic soul or consciousness; universal or supreme self; highest spirit.
  • Paramshiva – supreme consciousness; the absolute; highest reality.
  • Parapara – one of the threefold principles of shakti; the intermediate stage between immanent and transcendent; unity in diversity.
  • Parashakti- supreme power; kundalini; medium for revealing Shiva.
  • Paravidya – supreme or highest knowledge.
  • Parvati – consort and first disciple of Lord Shiva; cosmic mother; mahashakti; daughter of Himavan.
  • Pashu – animal nature.
  • Pashyanti nada – sound vibration in the subtle body; inaudible sound; mental sound.
  • Patanjali – sage, or rishi, who codified the Yoga Sutras, propounder of ashtanga yoga.
  • Pingala nadi – major pranic channel in the body which conducts the dynamic force, or prana shakti; solar or vital energy channel; emerges from the right of mooladhara chakra and intersects each of the chakras before reaching ajna chakra.
  • Pooraka – inhalation.
  • Prajna – intuition; source of individual revelation; unconscious mind.
  • Prakasha – eternal light, luminosity; internal or subtle illumination; principle of self-revelation.
  • Prakriti – manifest and unmanifest nature composed of the three gunas, or attributes; cosmic energy; vehicle of purusha (consciousness) according to Samkhya philosophy.
  • Pralaya – dissolution of universe where everything created dissolves back into the unmanifest source of existence.
  • Prana – principle of energy that sets life in motion; vital air or energy force, sustaining life and creation; vital air which operates in the chest region.
  • Pranamaya kosha – energy sheath or body.
  • Pranashakti – creative aspect of pure consciousness.
  • Pranayama – yogic practices involving control of inhalation, exhalation and retention of breath; technique for expanding the dimensions of prana.
  • Pratyabhijna – doctrine of recognition belonging to Kashmir Shaivism.
  • Pratyahara – literally, ‘to turn inwards that which moves outwards’; process of withdrawing the senses from external objects; an important prerequisite for dharana and higher stages of meditation; fifth limb of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga.


  • Raga – liking; attachment; attraction.
  • Raja Yoga Sutras – classical yoga text codified by Sage Patanjali: delineates the system of ashtanga yoga, or eight-fold path of yoga: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.
  • Rajas/Rajoguna – one of the three qualities of nature, representing dynamism, mobility, creativity; responsible for desire, ambition, restlessness; term used for menstrual secretions.
  • Ramana Maharshi – realized saint and jnana yogi born in Tamil Nadu, South India, who taught atma vichara, or awareness of pure consciousness through self-enquiry.
  • Rechaka – exhalation.
  • Rig Veda – first of the four Vedas; contains hymns to deities or guardians of the law, such as Agni, Varuna, Indra and  Mitra; presents nature as an eternal force working in the interests of humanity.
  • Rishi – seer; realized sage who meditates on the self.
  • Roopa – form.
  • Rubaiyat – poem by Omar Khayam about the experience of enlightenment.
  • Rudanti – crying, wailing or howling.
  • Rudra – name of Lord Shiva in Rig Veda, meaning ‘He who proclaims himself aloud’; signifies transformation through dissolution.
  • Rudrayamala – intimate union of Rudra and his shakti, Yamala.
  • Rudrayamala Tantra – text of Kashmir Shaivism in which Vijnana Bhairava Tantra isfound devoted entirely to esoteric sadhana.


  • Sadhaka – spiritual aspirant established in sadhana, or spiritual practice; one who is striving for moksha, or self-realization.
  • Sadhana – spiritual practice done regularly for inner experience and liberation; process of internal refinement on path towards perfection.
  • Sadvichara – right or proper thinking.
  • Sahasrara chakra – literally, ‘thousand-petalled lotus’; spiritual centre situated at crown of head; represents state of enlightenment; abode of Shiva; transcendental consciousness.
  • Sakara – with form.
  • Sakshi bhava – attitude of silent witness or seer; awareness.
  • Sama Veda – third of the four Vedas which deals mainly with devotion, worship and contemplation.
  • Samadhi – eighth stage of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga, culmination of meditation; state of union of mind with the object of meditation; supramental consciousness; merging with divine consciousness; total illumination.
  • Samani – centre where samprajnata samadhi is experienced.
  • Sambhavopaya – direct approach to Shiva; sudden emergence of shiva-consciousness without any vikalpa by a mere hint that one’s essential self is Shiva; means of approach which is passive, unsupported alertness or awareness; one of the four upaya sadhanas of tantra.
  • Sampradaya – tradition.
  • Samshaya – doubt; one of the nine obstacles to sadhana according to Patanjali.
  • Samskara – mental impression stored in the subtle body as an archetype; unconscious memories or impressions which  set up impulses and trains of thought, and which govern our personality and performance.
  • Sanatan dharma – eternal values.
  • Sankalpa – spiritual resolve; positive affirmation; willpower, determination or conviction; concept formed in the mind; important tool used in the practice of yoga nidra.
  • Sannyasa – literally, ‘equable trust’, from sam, or equable, and nyasa, or trust; trustee; dedication; renunciation of the world, possessions and attachments.
  • Sannyasi – one who has renounced illusion; one who has entrusted his life to the guru; one who is dedicated to spiritual life and service.
  • Sanyama – self-restraint; simultaneous occurrence of concentration, meditation and samadhi in a developed yogi.
  • Saraswati (Sarasvati) – divine form of cosmic energy; consort of Brahma; creative power which bestows knowledge of fine arts and power of speech; generally depicted in white dress, holding a vina, or lute, and sitting on a white swan; another name for sushumna nadi; legendary underground river; one of the ten orders of sannyasa.
  • Satchidananda – truth, consciousness, bliss; qualities of the supreme.
  • Sattwa (Sattva-guna) – one of the three qualities of nature representing steadiness, purity, harmony and light; balanced
    expression of inner self; experienced when tamo-guna and rajo-guna are balanced.
  • Satyam-Shivam-Sundaram – truth, consciousness, bliss; qualities of the supreme.
  • Saura – worshippers of the sun.
  • Saura Tantra – system of tantra related to the sun.
  • Savikalpa samadhi – supraconsciousness with traces of thought in dormant or seed state; when there is oneness of mind with the object but dissolution of self is not yet incomplete.
  • Shaiva Siddhanta – division of Shaivism found in South India; central doctrine is that Shiva is the supreme reality and the jiva, or individual soul, is of the same essence as Shiva but not identical; distilled essence of Vedanta; rival school of
  • Shaiva Tantra – system of tantra related to Shiva.
  • Shaivism – sect in which Lord Shiva is worshipped as the supreme reality, arguably the most ancient faith in world.
  • Shaivite – one who worships Lord Shiva as the supreme reality.
  • Shakta – one who worships Shakti, God in the form of Mother, as the supreme power which creates, sustains and withdraws the universe.
  • Shakti – vital energy; creative potential force; feminine aspect of creation and divinity; vehicle of consciousness; centre where intense waves of bliss permeate one’s being.
  • Shaktiman – holder of shakti.
  • Shaktism – sect in which Shakti, or the cosmic mother (female creative principle) is worshipped as the supreme reality; the basis of shaktism is the Vedas; one of the oldest and most widespread religions in the world.
  • Shaktopaya – means of approach to the divine through Shakti; one of the four upaya sadhanas of tantra.
  • Shanta – peacefull, tranquil; one of the eight bhairavas, or states of consciousness.
  • Shanti – inner peace.
  • Shiva – literally ‘auspicious one'; destructive aspect of Hindu trinity; destroyer of the ego and duality; Lord of yogis, who is said to dwell on Mount Kailash; archetypal renunciate; symbol of cosmic consciousness.
  • Shiva Sutras – text of Kashmir Shaivism in which Lord Shiva instructs Parvati in the path towards realization of supreme consciousness.
  • Shivalingam – symbol of consciousness.
  • Shoonya – void; state of absolute nothingness in which no object is experienced; mental vacuum; state of darkness  referred to as ‘the dark night of the soul’ prior to enlightenment.
  • Shrishti – creation; created universe; letting go; manifestation; emanation.
  • Shvasa – breath.
  • Siddha – adept, master, perfected soul; one who has fully developed his psychic/pranic capacity of mind/body; one who has control over nature, matter and mind.
  • Siddhi – perfection; psychic power associated with awakening of chakras, resulting in control over the physical elements.
  • Sloka – scriptural verse.
  • Smashan sadhana – tantric practice performed in the graveyard.
  • Soham – literally, ‘That (supreme consciousness) I am’; mantra of the breath; used in the meditation practice of ajapa  japa;  ‘So’ represents cosmic consciousness, ‘ham’ individual consciousness.
  • Spanda – cosmic vibration; dynamic aspect of Shiva; primordial pulsation.
  • Spanda Shastras – doctrine of vibration.
  • Sri – auspicious; name of Devi; epithet of respect.
  • Sri Yantra – geometrical diagram representing Goddess Sri or Lakshmi.
  • Srimad Devi Bhagavatam – scriptural text containing myths and doctrines of Devi.
  • Sthoola – gross; relating to the world of matter and the waking state, or jagrat.
  • Sthita prajna – stabilized consciousness.
  • Sukshma – subtle; relating to the world of the psyche.
  • Sushumna – spiritual energy channel flowing from mooladhara to sahasrara; pathway of kundalini, related to  transcedential awareness.
  • Sushumna jagran – tantric practice for awakening sushumna nadi.
  • Sushupti – deep dreamless sleep; unconscious state of mind.
  • Sutra – literally, ‘thread'; aphorism.
  • Swabhava (svabhava) – innate or inherent nature.
  • Swapna (svapna) – dream state; subconscious.


  • Tamas/tamoguna – one of the three gunas, or qualities of nature and mind, representing stability and immobility; responsible for inertia, laziness, procrastination, dullness, darkness, fear of change.
  • Tanmatra – quality or essence of the five elements; nature; sensory perception; five in number: smell, sight, taste, touch and hearing.
  • Tanoti – expansion.
  • Tantra – process of expansion of mind and liberation of energy and consciousness from matter; comes from two roots:  tanoti meaning ‘expansion’ and trayati ‘liberation’; ancient universal science, philosophy and culture of man dealing with transcendence of gross human nature from the present level of evolution to the highest state of human attainment, liberation; one of the classical Indian philosophies.
  • Tantric – practitioner of the esoteric tantric science.
  • Tapas – literally, ‘to sharpen’ or ‘to whet’; austerity; derived from tapa, or fire.
  • Tattwa (tattva) – literally, ‘that-ness’; essential element or principle; five in number: earth, water, fire, air and ether.
  • Tejas – literally, ‘bright’; that which illuminates subtle objects; subconscious state related to dream whose essence is light Traita – one supreme reality, manifesting as three.
  • Trataka – literally, ‘steady gazing’ at a fixed point or object without blinking; a method of focusing the mind.
  • Trayati – liberation.
  • Trika – threefold, triple; system or philosophy of the triad: (i) Shiva, (ii) Shakti and (iii) Nara, bound soul; or (i) para, the highest, non-different from Shiva, (ii) parapara, the intermediate state of identity in difference, (iii) apara, the state of difference; basic philosophy of Kashmir Shaivism.
  • Trishira Bhairava Tantra – tri means ‘three’ and shira means ‘that which carries’; text dealing with the three flows, or shiras, of prana known as ida, pingala and sushumna.
  • Trishiropanishad – upanishad which deals with the three flows, or shiras, of energy known as ida, pingala and sushumna.
  • Trishul – three-pronged trident symbolic of the three gunas, or qualities of nature, in equipoise.
  • Turiya – fourth dimension of consciousness transcending the waking, dreaming and deep sleep states, and linking these states; integral awareness; sakshi, or witnessing consciousness; superconsciousness.


  • Udana vayu – pranic energy current operating above the throat.
  • Ujjayi pranayama – psychic breath.
    Unmani – literally, ‘no mind’; centre beyond mind or thought, where the mind is completely turned inwards.
  • Unmani mudra – psychic attitude in which the eyes are open, gazing outward, but the awareness is fixed within; also known as bhairavi mudra.
  • Unmesha – unfoldment; opening (of the eyes); blinking; expansion.
  • Upanishad – literally, ‘to sit close by’; last part of Vedas, containing their essence; containing dialogues between  guru-disciple about the nature of reality and the identity of individual and cosmic consciousness.
  • Upaya – means or process.
  • Uttarayana – northern path; one of the two prescribed paths of meditation; path of light.


  • Vaikhari nada – audible sound or speech.
  • Vairagi – one who is not attached to the world of the senses; sect of renunciates who have transcended matter.
  • Vairagya – dispassion; non-attachment; state in which one remains internally calm and balanced under all circumstances; absence of sensual craving and desire.
  • Vaishnavism – sect that worships incarnations of Lord Vishnu as the supreme reality.
  • Vaishnavite – one who worships incarnations of Lord Vishnu as the supreme reality.
  • Vaishvanara – Lord of the conscious realm, the material world Vajroli mudra – contraction and release of the urinary  passage to stimulate swadhisthana chakra.
  • Varna – colour
  • Vedanta – end of the Vedas; Veda means ‘(transcendental) knowledge’ and anta means ‘end’; ultimate philosophy of the Vedas; one of the six darshanas, or systems, of vedic philosophy which deals with the transcendental and manifest nature of consciousness.
  • Vedas – oldest known spiritual texts of Aryans written more than 5,000 years ago; four in number: Rig Veda, Yajur Veda,  Sama Veda and Atharva Veda.
  • Vi – prefix meaning separation, disjunction.
  • Vibhooti – psychic power; accomplishment of yoga; splendour; purified essence or sacred ash worn on the forehead by devotees of Shiva; subtle, unmanifest power behind creation; perfection; dominion.
  • Vibhooti Pada – third chapter of Sage Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras.
  • Vichara – right enquiry; discernment; path of self-enquiry which implies discrimination between the real and unreal, self and ego.
  • Vidya – from the root, ‘vid’, or inner knowledge.
  • Vijnana – essential truth; intuitive ability of mind; higher understanding.
  • Vijnana bhairava – state of consciousness where one achieves union with the cosmic consciousness.
  • Vijnanamaya kosha – higher mental sheath or body.
  • Vikalpa – imagination, fancy, doubt, error; idea, ideation; thought/counter-thought; thought or conclusion without factual evidence; one of the five vrittis, or modifications of mind.
  • Vikshipta – oscillating state of mind between dissipation and one-pointedness.
  • Vimala – full of purity (absence of duality or subject/object) Vimarsha – nature, or swabhava, of Shiva; aspect of prakasha by which it knows itself; experience; self-consciousness of the supreme; another name for shakti.
  • Vira – brave; hero.
  • Virat – literally, ‘enormous’; macrocosm; sum total of the entire manifest universe.
  • Vishaya – object.
  • Vishnu – vedic deity; preserver and sustainer of the universe; one of the Hindu trinity; supreme consciousness; often associated with water.
  • Vishu – chakra below mooladhara.
  • Vishwa (vishva) – universe; entire cosmos; external consciousness.
  • Vishwamitra (vishvamitra) – royal sage who became a brahmarishi, or knower of Brahman, the supreme reality.
  • Viveka – discernment; the power to discriminate correctly; right knowledge or understanding.
  • Vritti – literally, ‘circle’; mental fluctuation, modification, wave or pattern.
  • Vyakta – manifest universe.
  • Vyana vayu – pranic air current pervading whole body.
  • Vyapika – centre or abode of shoonya which can be pierced or transcended only by the appearance of jyotsna.


  • Yajna – vedic sacrifice; sacrificial rite; offering oblations to the fire.
  • Yajur Veda – second of the four Vedas; explains the rituals involved in vedic sacrifices.
  • Yama – five self-restraints or rules of conduct pertaining to ethical perfection, designed to remove emotional disorders in preparation for higher yoga practices: ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, aparigraha; first stage of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga; period of three hours.
  • Yamala – pair or couple.
  • Yantra – geometrical form of mantra used for concentration.
  • Yoga – literally, ‘union’ or ‘yoke’; systematic science of body mind leading to union of individual consciousness with cosmic consciousness; process of uniting opposing forces in body/mind to realize the spiritual essence; one of the six classical Indian philosophies.
  • Yuga – age.