Tag Archives: Hinduism

~Hindu Practices {2}~

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.

~Karana Sharira~

Karana sharira is the causal body within Hinduism’s three-body philosophy, and is considered the most complex. From Sanskrit, karana translates to “causing,” “making” or “muscle”; and sharira means “body.” Karana sharira is thought to be the portal to entering higher consciousness, as well as the cause of the existence of the gross and subtle bodies. It connects both the individual and cosmic consciousness together, and is believed to store information from past lives.

Within a spiritual yoga practice, individuals seek to balance the three bodies through pranayama, meditation, and asana.

~Samadhi Shrine~

A samadhi shrine is a Hindu temple memorializing the dead, which may or may not contain the body of the deceased. These temples are built to honor people who were regarded as saints or gurus in Hindu religious traditions.

While most Hindu people in India are cremated after their deaths, samadhi shrines are reserved for those who have already been cleansed by the fire of yoga. These temples also memorialize individuals who are believed to have been in the state of samadhi (a non-dualistic state of consciousness) at their time of death, such as yogis, gurus or saints.

~Pradakshina~

Pradakshina is a term used in Hinduism and Buddhism for the ritual of walking clockwise around a shrine, image, sacred object or even a town. Usually the worshipper will begin in the east, and keep the object to their right as they move to the south and then west. Buddhists stupas will usually have a pradakshina path around them. Pradakshina is supposed to be carried out with a meditative intention and mood.

The word comes from the Sanskrit, and can be literally translated as “to the right”.

~Arupadhatu~

Arupadhatu is a Sanskrit word that means “formless space.” It is a term used mainly in Buddhism to refer to the highest sphere of existence and the one in which rebirth may take place. It is also referred to as arupa-loka, or “formless world.”

In arupadhatu, desires and sensations have disappeared and it is in this realm, or plane, that the pure spirits live. Arupadhatu is the final stage before the state of pure bliss known as nirvana.

~Ashaya~

Ashaya is a Sanskrit word meaning “intention,” “abode of the heart” or “residence.” The word often is used to refer to the heart as a place of refuge for the emotions and deepest parts of the self. Within yoga philosophy, in the ashaya (or abode of the heart,) the emotions influenced by previous experiences and decisions in one’s life are stored for future recollection and decision making.

~Rechaka~

Rechaka, or rechaka pranayama, is a Sanskrit word that means “exhalation.” It refers to a form of yogic breathing in which the exhalation is lengthened, while the inhalation remains free. Together with puraka (inhalation) and abhyantara kumbhaka (breath retention), rechaka is one of the three stages utilized in pranayama.

Some yogic sources state that pranayama is retention, and that puraka and rechaka are only methods of affecting it. Others state that recaka is the most important part of pranayama, and that if the quality of the exhalation is not good, the quality of the whole pranayama practice is affected.

~Vijnana Bhairava~

Vijnana Bhairava” is one of the key scriptures of the non-dual Hindu tradition of Kashmir (Tantric) Shaivism. This text describes 112 dharanas, or meditative practices, for centering awareness. Dharana is one of the eight limbs of yoga as outlined by Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras.

The name comes from the Sanskrit vijnana, meaning “wisdom” or “knowledge,” and bhairava, meaning “formidable.” In Shaivism, a branch of Hinduism that worships Shiva as the supreme deity, Bhairava is a fierce incarnation of Shiva.

~So’ham~

So’ham, or So’hum, is a Hindu mantra that can be translated as “I am He/That.” It is derived from the Sanskrit, sah, meaning “He,” and aham, meaning “I.” It is a universal and natural mantra because it is present within everybody as the breath, with the sound of “so” during inhalation and “ham” during exhalation. As such, So’ham is a mantra that is chanted just by concentrating on the breath because the breath chants it naturally.

There is also an inverted version of this mantra: hamsa, meaning “white swan,” which stands for the inner Self.

~Kayaliev~

Kayaliev is a Sanskrit term referring to a physical body. Kayaliev is visible and perceivable. It is important to learn not to identify oneself with kayaliev, as it is not something that one is, it is something that one has. Kayaliev is a physical body, a cocoon for the higher inner Self. Kayaliev is also a tool. A tool that enables humans to function, to experience and to learn. It is a temple of the soul.

In Buddhism, this term is used to describe different dimensions and manifestations of Buddha.