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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

Sadhana ("accomplishing"): spiritual discipline leading to siddhi ("perfection" or "accomplishment"); the term is specifically used in Tantra

Sahaja ("together born"): a medieval term denoting the fact that the transcendental Reality and the empirical reality are not truly separate but coexist, or with the latter being an aspect or misperception of the former; often rendered as "spontaneous" or "spontaneity"; the sahaja state is the natural condition, that is, enlightenment or realization

Samadhi ("putting together"): the ecstatic or unitive state in which the meditator becomes one with the object of meditation, the eighth and final limb (anga) of Patanjali's eightfold path; there are many types of samadhi, the most significant distinction being between samprajnata (conscious) and asamprajnata (supraconscious) ecstasy; only the latter leads to the dissolution of the karmic factors deep within the mind; beyond both types of ecstasy is enlightenment, which is also sometimes called sahaja-samadhi or the condition of "natural" or "spontaneous" ecstasy, where there is perfect continuity of superconscious throughout waking, dreaming, and sleeping

Samatva or samata ("evenness"): the mental condition of harmony, balance

Samkhya ("Number"): one of the main traditions of Hinduism, which is concerned with the classification of the principles (tattva) of existence and their proper discernment in order to distinguish between Spirit (purusha) and the various aspects of Nature (prakriti); this influential system grew out of the ancient (pre-Buddhist) Samkhya-Yoga tradition and was codified in the Samkhya-Karika of Ishvara Krishna (c. 350 C.E.)

Samnyasa ("casting off"): the state of renunciation, which is the fourth and final stage of life (see ashrama) and consisting primarily in an inner turning away from what is understood to be finite and secondarily in an external letting go of finite things; cf. vairagya

Samnyasin ("he who has cast off"): a renouncer

Samprajnata-samadhi; see samadhi

Samsara ("confluence"): the finite world of change, as opposed to the ultimate Reality (brahman or nirvana)

Samskara ("activator"): the subconscious impression left behind by each act of volition, which, in turn, leads to renewed psychomental activity; the countless samskaras hidden in the depth of the mind are ultimately eliminated only in asamprajnata-samadhi (see samadhi)

Samyama ("constraint"): the combined practice of concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and ecstasy (samadhi) in regard to the same object

Sat ("being/reality/truth"): the ultimate Reality (atman or brahman)

Sat-sanga ("true company/company of Truth"): the practice of frequenting the good company of saints, sages, Self-realized adepts, and their disciples, in whose company the ultimate Reality can be felt more palpably

Satya ("truth/truthfulness"): truth, a designation of the ultimate Reality; also the practice of truthfulness, which is an aspect of moral discipline (yama)

Shakti ("power"): the ultimate Reality in its feminine aspect, or the power pole of the Divine; see also kundalini-shakti

Shakti-pata ("descent of power"): the process of initiation, or spiritual baptism, by means of the benign transmission of an advanced or even enlightened adept (siddha), which awakens the shakti within a disciple, thereby initiating or enhancing the process of liberation

Shankara ("He who is benevolent"): the eighth-century adept who was the greatest proponent of nondualism (Advaita Vedanta) and whose philosophical school was probably responsible for the decline of Buddhism in India

Shishya ("student/disciple"): the initiated disciple of a guru

Shiva ("He who is benign"): the Divine; a deity that has served yogins as an archetypal model throughout the ages

Shiva-Sutra ("Shiva's Aphorisms"): like the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, a classical work on yoga, as taught in the Shaivism of Kashmir; authored by Vasugupta (ninth century C.E.)

Shodhana ("cleansing/purification"): a fundamental aspect of all yogic paths; a category of purification practices in hatha yoga

Shraddha ("faith"): an essential disposition on the yogic path, which must be distinguished from mere belief

Shuddhi ("purification/purity"): the state of purity; a synonym of shodhana

Siddha ("accomplished"): an adept, often of Tantra; if fully Self-realized, the designation maha-siddha or "great adept" is often used

Siddha-Yoga ("Yoga of the adepts"): a designation applied especially to the yoga of Kashmiri Shaivism, as taught by Swami Muktananda (twentieth century)

Siddhi ("accomplishment/perfection"): spiritual perfection, the attainment of flawless identity with the ultimate Reality (atman or brahman); paranormal ability, of which the yoga tradition knows many kinds

Spanda ("vibration"): a key concept of Kashmir's Shaivism according to which the ultimate Reality itself "quivers," that is, is inherently creative rather than static (as conceived in Advaita Vedanta)

Sushumna-nadi ("very gracious channel"): the central prana current or arc in or along which the serpent power (kundalini-shakti) must ascend toward the psychoenergetic center (cakra) at the crown of the head in order to attain liberation (moksha)

Sutra ("thread"): an aphoristic statement; a work consisting of aphoristic statements, such as Patanjali's Yoga Sutra or Vasugupta's Shiva-Sutra

Svadhyaya ("one's own going into"): study, an important aspect of the yogic path, listed among the practices of self-restraint (niyama) in >Patanjali's eightfold yoga; the recitation of mantras (see also japa)

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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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