Sri Vidya Tantra is a spiritual practice that centers on goddess worship — more specifically, Sri Devi or Lalita Tripurasundari. The term comes from the Sanskrit, sri, which means “wealth,” “grace,” “divinity” or “prosperity”; and vid, meaning “to know.” Tantra, which means “to weave,” refers to spiritual, esoteric practices that direct cosmic energy inward, nurturing the Divine within. Tantra can also mean the actual texts of the tradition.
This Hindu sect promotes both self-realization and material abundance.
The goddess, Lalita Tripurasundari, is the cosmic mother who represents the sleeping, dreaming and waking worlds. Worship of the goddess includes the Sri Yantra, a ritual object made of nine intersecting triangles, representing the chakra energy centers.
In the Sri Vidya Tantra tradition, the deity is worshiped as the Self, or the Divine within. It is, therefore, a non-dualistic tradition in which the individual existence and the cosmic world are the same. Sri Vidya Tantra beliefs vary in the sect’s various texts and among the different schools, but are similar to those of Kashmir Shaivism, another non-dualist tradition.
Brahmavihara is a term that refers to the four Buddhist virtues and meditative practices. It derives from the Pali words, brahma, meaning “god” or “divine”; and vihara, meaning “abode.” The brahmavihara are also known as the four appamanna, or “immeasurables,” and as the four sublime states.
The Buddhist yogi cultivates these sublime states of brahmavihara through a meditation technique called brahmavihara-bhavana with the goal of reaching jhana (concentration or meditative absorption) and ultimately the state of enlightenment known as nirvana.
In the history of yoga, the Brahmanas are ancient Indian texts. These consist of prose commentaries on the four Vedas, the oldest Hindu sacred texts, in which the word, yoga, is first used and defined. They are classified as part of the Hindu sruti literature (from the Sanskrit meaning “heard”). There are numerous Brahmana texts from ancient India which have been lost, but 19 still exist in their entirety.
The Brahmanas contain legends, myths, notes on the performance of rituals, as well as explanations of particular sacred words from the Vedas and some philosophy.
Brahmana can also refer to the utterance of a priest, or Brahman. More commonly, it is used to refer to the explanation and meaning of a sacred word.
Hinduism accepts and embraces its diverse paths and practices. Here are just a few of them ~
Rituals ~ Religious rituals vary greatly and they are not required, but devout Hindus practice some type of ritual at home and on special occasions. Such rituals include worshiping in the morning after bathing (puja), reciting scriptures, singing hymns, meditating, chanting, practicing yoga asanas, etc.
Yoga Practices ~ Bhakti yoga is a form of worship and devotion to God. As such, it is one of the paths to union with the Divine and moksha (spiritual liberation). Other paths are Jnana yoga (yoga of knowledge), Karma yoga (yoga of selfless works) and Raja yoga (yoga of contemplation and meditation). Kundalini yoga is a Tantric school of yoga that is focused on prana and sending it through the seven chakras along the spine. Hatha yoga is the practice of meditative movement and poses that much of the West associates with yoga.
Rites of Passage ~ Major rites of passage, such as births, graduations, weddings or deaths, are celebrated as sanskaras. The practices vary depending on the type of Hinduism, but could include fire ceremonies, chanting of hymns, simple private events or formal ceremonies. They may or may not include a religious official, such as a priest.
Festivals ~ Hindus have many festivals, often coinciding with the full moon, new moon or seasons, that celebrate events from Hinduism or honor specific deities. Family gatherings, religious rituals, arts and feasts may be included.
Pilgrimages ~ Many Hindus go on pilgrimages, although they are not mandatory as in some faiths. Among the most popular pilgrimage sites are old holy cities, religiously significant sites, the Ganges river, and major temples.
Sadhu Life ~ Some Hindus choose to renounce possessions, leave home and dedicate themselves to spiritual disciplines. They devote their lives to a particular god and/or meditation, yoga and spiritual discussion. These holy persons are called sadhus.
Hindu practices are customs specific to the world’s oldest major religion, Hinduism (also sometimes called Sanatana Dharma). But because Hinduism is a mixture of different traditions and beliefs, its practices vary depending on the type of Hinduism. For example, some Hindus believe in many gods, while others worship just a few or a single supreme deity. Even the name by which they worship the supreme god varies – Brahma, Shiva or Vishnu, among others.
Hinduism also includes practices for those traditions that ignore deities, instead seeking awareness of the higher Self through intense meditation. Yoga practice can be included in either of these forms of Hinduism and there are various types of yoga that are particularly sacred to Hindu tradition.
A temple is a public place (typically a structure or building) devoted to spiritual activities, and designed as a meeting place for humans and gods. It is a place for humans to move from illusion to truth and knowledge.
Hindu temples referenced in yogic teachings have many names, including devasthana and devalaya.
The Hindu Temple, also called Chidambaram Temple or Thillai Nataraja Temple, is one of the most famous temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and was consecrated by Patanjali. According to yogic philosophy, Shiva is considered Adiyogi or “the first yogi” and Adiguru, or “the first teacher.”
“The human body is a temple” was the famous saying by Thirumoolar, one of the 18 yoga siddhars, among whom sage Patanjali finds his rightful place. Siddhars, according to Thirumoolar, are “those who live in yoga and see the divine light and power through yoga.”
Hindu temples and the human body are considered identical. The five important parts of the temple that are identical to the human body are vimana (head), sanctum (neck), artha mantapam (stomach), prakara walls (legs) and gopuras (feet). The deity in the sanctum is considered the soul of the body.
By practicing yoga regularly, one worships the body and maintains optimum health. Regular yogic practices promote physical and mental health. Yoga develops compassion and love for others, promotes peace within and allows one to experience the bliss one would experience in a temple.
Honour (as a noun) is defined as personal integrity and an uprightness of character. Someone who acts with honour is said to have high moral character. As a verb, to honour someone means to hold them in high regard or treat them with courteous respect.
The practice of yoga incorporates the concept of honour through respecting others, oneself and one’s physical limitations.
Yoga teachers often mention honoring the physical body when practicing asanas. By accepting and honouring the body’s needs and limitations, the practitioner avoids injury and gains the full benefits of each pose without judging or competing with anyone else. Honouring the body may mean modifying a pose or using props because of an injury or lack of flexibility.
But honour in yoga isn’t just about accepting physical limitations; it also involves honouring the whole self. To do so requires self-compassion and acceptance, which opens the mind to change and growth and, ultimately, brings the yogi closer to the goal of union with the true Self or the Divine.
Finally, a yoga practitioner honours the history and traditions of the yoga practice by learning from the teachings of gurus.
As interpreted by Chopra and Simon, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga are:
Law of Pure Potentiality: Since you are an unshakeable part of what exists in the physical world, you are also infinitely creative, limitless and eternal.
Law of Giving and Receiving: You must give and receive to experience love, abundance, and anything positive you wish to reverberate through your existence.
Law of Karma (Cause and Effect): Every action generates a returning reaction. If you choose positive actions that bring forth happiness and success, you will, in turn, receive such energy. If you choose negative actions that bring forth pain or suffering, they will boomerang back to you.
Law of Least Effort: By harnessing your energy and offering no resistance, you allow your actions to be motivated by love, tapping into the infinite power of the universe as you do less, yet accomplish more.
Law of Intention and Desire: When you quiet the mind and introduce your intentions through pure potentiality, you galvanize the universe into action, allowing your desires to manifest with ease.
Law of Detachment: Everything, at this moment, is happening as it should be. There is no need to resist or force. Simply intend for everything to unfold as it should, take the action that’s necessary, and allow the results to happen.
Law of Dharma: By expressing your unique gifts to serve others, you will experience unlimited love, abundance, and true fulfillment in your life.
Sama Veda is an ancient Hindu scripture and one of the four main Vedas of Hinduism. It is a collection of melodies and chants, and is also called the “Book of Song,” “Veda of Chants” or even “Yoga of Song.” It is basically the words of the “Rig Veda” put to music.
“Sama Veda” should not be read or recited, but sung. It contains about 1,900 verses, almost all of them taken from the “Rig Veda.”
Vedic scholar, David Frawley, describes “Sama Veda” as follows: “If ‘Rig Veda’ is the word, ‘Sama Veda’ is the song; if ‘Rig Veda’ is the knowledge, ‘Sama Veda’ is the realization; if ‘Rig Veda’ is the wife, ‘Sama Veda’ is the husband.”
Frawley also used the term, Vedic yoga, for yoga based on the Vedas. According to him, “Sama Veda” represents the mind and heaven.
The Yajur Veda is an ancient collection of Sanskrit mantras and verses, used in Hindu worship and rituals. It is one of the four primary scriptures of Hinduism known collectively as the Vedas, alongside Rig Veda, Atharva Veda and Sama Veda. The name is derived from the Sanskrit roots, yajus, meaning “worship” or “sacrifice”’ and veda, meaning “knowledge.” Yajur Veda is sometimes translated as “Knowledge of the Sacrifice.”
The text describes the way in which religious rituals and sacred ceremonies should be performed, and it is therefore primarily intended for Hindu priests.
The mantras within Yajur Veda are used during religious rituals such as those before the yajna fire, and they are most commonly recited by the adhvaryu who preside over the physical details of a sacrifice.
Yajur Veda is the third of the four Vedas, believed to have been composed between 1200 and 900 BCE. At the heart of the Vedic tradition is a system of sacrifices, each of which depends upon invocations of specific deities.
The Yajur Veda prescribes these rituals, which are performed alongside the melodic chants of the Sama Veda.
Each of the four Vedas is assigned a specific Hindu priest; hota for Rig Veda, adhvaryu for Yajur Veda, udgata for Sama Veda and brahman for Atharva Veda.
Although each priest plays an essential role in the religious rituals, the adhvaryu functions as executive priest, reciting from the Yajur Veda to assign sacrificial duties to the yajamana (ritual patron) and other priests.
The Yajur Veda is divided into two parts – the white or “pure” Yajur Veda known as Shukla, and the black or “dark” Yajur Veda known as Krishna. The white Yajur Veda deals with prayers and specific instructions for devotional sacrifices, whereas the black Yajur Veda deals with sacrificial rituals.
The Vedas were originally transmitted by word of mouth, before being edited by various schools known as shakhas. Of all four Vedas, the Yajur Veda gathered the largest amount of schools, further dividing the Shukla and Krishna Yajur Vedas into the following samhitas (verses):
Despite being based on the older Rig Veda, Yajur Veda differs in that it exclusively describes the technicalities of sacred rituals and ceremonies. Some of the verses are devoted entirely to ritual instruments and offerings, most of which symbolize certain aspects of Brahman (universal consciousness).