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200 Key Sanskrit Yoga Terms

Discerning dharma from kharma or bhakti from shakti is an important lesson for all yoga students—whether you are a beginner or a long-time yogi.

By Georg Feuerstein

a b c d g h i j k l m n o p r s t u v

Parama-atman or paramatman ("supreme self"): the transcendental Self, which is singular, as opposed to the individuated self (jiva-atman) that exists in countless numbers in the form of living beings

Parama-hamsa, paramahansa ("supreme swan"): an honorific title given to great adepts, such as Ramakrishna and Yogananda

Patanjali: compiler of the Yoga Sutra, who lived c. 150 C.E.

Pingala-nadi ("reddish conduit"): the prana current or arc ascending on the right side of the central channel (sushumna-nadi) and associated with the sympathetic nervous system and having an energizing effect on the mind when activated; cf. ida-nadi

Prajna ("wisdom"): the opposite of spiritual ignorance (ajnana, avidya); one of two means of liberation in Buddhist yoga, the other being skillful means (upaya), i.e., compassion (karuna)

Prakriti ("creatrix"): nature, which is multilevel and, according to Patanjali's yoga-darshana, consists of an eternal dimension (called pradhana or "foundation"), levels of subtle existence (called sukshma-parvan), and the physical or coarse realm (called sthula-parvan); all of nature is deemed unconscious (acit), and therefore it is viewed as being in opposition to the transcendental Self or Spirit (purusha)

Prakriti-laya ("merging into Nature"): a high-level state of existence that falls short of actual liberation (kaivalya); the being who has attained that state

Prana ("life/breath"): life in general; the life force sustaining the body; the breath as an external manifestation of the subtle life force

Pranayama (from prana and ayama, "life/breath extension"): breath control, the fourth limb (anga) of Patanjali's eigthfold path, consisting of conscious inhalation (puraka) retention (kumbhaka) and exhalation (recaka); at an advanced state, breath retention occurs spontaneously for longer periods of time

Prasada ("grace/clarity"): divine grace; mental clarity

Pratyahara ("withdrawal"): sensory inhibition, the fifth limb (anga) of Patanjali's eightfold path

Puja ("worship"): ritual worship, which is an important aspect of many forms of yoga, notably bhakti yoga and Tantra

Puraka ("filling in"): inhalation, an aspect of breath control (pranayama)

Purana ("Ancient [History]"): a type of popular encyclopedia dealing with royal genealogy, cosmology, philosophy, and ritual; there are eighteen major and many more minor works of this nature

Purusha ("male"): the transcendental Self (atman) or Spirit, a designation that is mostly used in Samkhya and Patanjali's yoga-darshana

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Reader Comments

Sunta

Namaste: The light in me honours that place in you which is the light in you !

Sarai

In response to Padma's comment about alleged "intellectual dishonesty" - I would like to respectfully clarify....

The term "hindu" comes from the Persian invaders mispronoucing the name of the Sindhu River (in India), and thereby they misnamed the people of that location and their religion as "hindu". The true name of the spiritual path to which "hindu" now refers is actually SANATANA DHARMA. Never in the vedas will one find the bastardized term "hindu", though this term has been generally accepted as appropriate by the modern people who practice this path of spirituality, it would not necessarily be less "intellectually dishonest" to refer to Ayurveda or Yoga having their roots in "hinduism". However, SANATANA DHARMA is ancient, and the Sindhu River IS in India, so to say that Yoga and Ayurveda have their roots in ancient india is equally as accurate, in my opinion. Truly, however, it would be with the utmost accuracy to say that their roots are from Sanatana Dharma.

I am not sure whether Padma's contention comes from (perhaps) being an Indian by nationality and not wanting nationality confused with Spiritual Path or Religions affiliation. This, I would understand. There is no national religion of India, and even in ancient times, India was ripe with diverse religious populations. Nonetheless, Sanatana Dharma DOES indeed spring forth out of ancient India, and I do not believe that when people say that Yoga and Ayurveda have their roots in ancient india, that there is any "intellectual dishonesty" being perpetrated.

Thabo

I just wanted to know what namaste meant, and I did not get the answer.

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