Tag Archives: Hinduism

~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.

~Natha~

Natha is a Sanskrit term that can be translated to mean “lord,” “master” or “protector.” It is most often used to refer to the nine naths (saints/gurus) of the Nath tradition. The Nath tradition is a heterodox siddha (adept) tradition that was established by Matsyendra and further developed by his disciple, Goraksha. These two figures were also the founders of Hatha yoga.

The Nath tradition has many sub-sects, but they all accept Matsyendra and Goraksha as their founders. The Natha Sampradaya, or the “Tradition of the Nine Gurus,” is based on a lineage of spiritual masters who are worshiped both collectively and individually.

The foundation and wisdom of the Natha Sampradaya tradition is based in the principles of yoga and, therefore, great yogis are sometimes called nathas.

~Gandharva~

In Hinduism and Buddhism, a gandharva is a celestial being, specifically a divine musician. They are associated with creativity, charm and sensuality. According to “Vishnu Purana,” the gandharvas are sons of the god, Brahma. The most popular include Vishvavasu, Chitraratha and Tumvuru.

Gandharva also refers to a type of mental attribute associated with sattva, one of the three gunas. This trait manifests itself with the fondness for singing, dancing and poetry. A passion for perfume and women is also an attribute of gandharva.

~Navavidha Bhakti~

Navavidha bhakti comprises the nine ways to express devotion or develop devotion for God or the higher Self. Mentioned in the Hindu scriptures, the “Srimad-Bhagavata” and the “Vishnu Purana,” navavidha bhakti is also described as the devotional paths that lead to moksha, or liberation.

The term comes from the Sanskrit, navavidha, meaning “nine-fold” or “consisting of nine parts,” and bhakti, meaning “faithfulness,” “devotion to” or “love.” In Hinduism and yoga, there are different paths to salvation with bhakti being just one. Jnana is the path of knowledge, Karma is the path of action, and Raja is the royal path, or the eight-fold path of yoga as explained in the Yoga Sutras.

~The Yoga Sutras~

The Yoga Sutras are a collection of texts written by the sage, Patanjali, around 400 C.E. The collection contains what is thought to be much of the basis of classical yoga philosophy and is made up of 196 sutras (“threads” or discourses).

The 196 sutras are compartmentalized into four topical books:

~Samadhi pada (what yoga is)
~Sadhana pada (how to gain a yogic state)
~Vibhuti pada (benefits of practicing yoga regularly)
~Kaivalya pada (liberation or freedom from suffering)

~Sapta Puri~

Sapta puri are Hinduism’s seven holy pilgrimage sites in India. They are the locations where avatars of different deities were thought to have descended in their earthly incarnations. The term comes from the Sanskrit sapta, meaning “seven,” and puri, meaning “city,” “place” or “town.” The faithful believe that if they make a pilgrimage to all sapta puri, they will attain the state of moksha, or liberation from the life-death cycle. Yoga is also a path to moksha.

Sapta is a sacred number and has great significance in Hindu lore and philosophy. In addition to the sapta puri, there are sapta dweepa (great islands), sapta nadi (holy rivers), sapta lokas (holy worlds) and sapta rushi (great sages), among others.

~Paramatman~

In Hindu philosophy, Paramatman is the universal or eternal Soul. It is one of two types of souls — the other being jiva-atman, which is the individual soul or self. The term comes from the Sanskrit parama, meaning “highest” or “supreme,” and atman, meaning “self,” “soul” or “individual spirit.” In English, it is roughly translated to mean “primordial self” or “the self beyond.”

Practicing yoga can unite jiva-atman with Paramatman by helping the practitioner become more aware of oneness with the universe.