Glossary - Hindu
A body of social, cultural, and religious beliefs and practices native to the Indian subcontinent: devotion to the cult of one of the chief gods and goddesses.
ahamkara - The ego-sense; identification with one's ego.
Bhagavan - God manifesting Himself as a person; the object of worship of the bhaktas. By worshipping
God as a person, devotees are able to assume human-like relationships with God, for
example: God as parent, devotee as child; God as Lord, devotee as servant. It is also much
easier for many people to develop love toward God when He is regarded as a person. Such
love is capable of triggering a spiritual awakening once it is a pure, selfless love.
empowered mantra - A mantra becomes empowered through the process of initiation. It is during initiation that
a disciple receives his or her mantra from the guru. The mantra is empowered in the sense
that the guru acts as a vehicle of God's grace, and it is God's grace that is embodied in
incarnation - Within non-dualistic branches of Hinduism, it is quite common to regard an enlightened
individual as an incarnation of God. The name used to refer to God will vary (e.g. Shiva
japa - God's name is the mantra; the act of repeating it is japa.
Kali - Kali is one of the female manifestations of God. She represents the power of time. Her
physical appearance is most fearsome and symbolizes her boundless power of destruction.
She takes away from us everything that is transitory. As long as we regard what is
transitory as all there is, we are of course terrified at this prospect. Nonetheless She
protects those who are devoted to Her, and through Her grace they pass from the realm of
time to the realm of timelessness.
maya - The cosmic illusion which causes the One to appear as the many.
nirvikalpa - During this state the mystic loses consciousness of his or her surroundings, and is
absorbed in concentration on the nondifferentiated aspect of of God.
An incarnation of God. The story of His earthly life is told in the Hindu epic,
the Ramayana. In this story, Rama's dearly beloved wife is kidnapped by a demon. After
much difficulty, Rama eventually succeeds in slaying the demon, rescuing his wife, and
restoring her to her former position. Allegorically speaking, this represents God's
salvation of the individual soul.
Turning one's attention away from creation toward that which is uncreated. The
individual is ecstatically transported and becomes unaware of his surroundings. In
Christian mystical literature, this spiritual state is known as rapture.
A system of religious philosophy in which the Divine Mother, or Power, is the
Ultimate Reality; also the scriptures dealing with this philosophy.
(p. 613, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna)
Devotion to God associated with rites and ceremonies prescribed in the
scriptures. (p. 613, The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna)
In short all the things that go into building your individual sense of self or ego. The
word vasana is usually translated as mental conditioning or subtle tendencies.
Union of the individual soul and the Universal Soul; also refers to the spiritual
practices which result in such union. The physical exercises and postures that people in
the West tend to