• Hindu nomenclature

    Definitions of a few terms of indian spiritual life

    • Ashram: "The place of effort", the place where a community of people live and practise a spiritual discipline under the guide of a Guru. The Guru can be formally present, or present just on a subtle plane when on a journey or dead.

    • Atman: The immortal Principle, identical to Brahaman, the Absolute.

    • Chakras: Wheels of energy situated along the spinal column, within the etheric body, interweaving with the phisycal body. Their number varies according to the different traditions. Each chakra corresponds to a different vibratory level and is the center of specific characteristics. Along and inside the sequence of the chakras the vital energy can elevate itself up to the most subtle and immaterial levels of the last chakra, situated slightly above the head: Sahasrara.

    • Dharma: indicates all that supports and rules the whole of material and immaterial reality. Dahrma is the absolute, universal reality.

    • Darshan: "Interview with God", and in practice, audience with the guru.

    • Guru: Its first meaning in sanskrit is 'its own weight', the Force in presence. 'The one who dispels shade' or 'The imprint of wisdom', spiritual guide considered as the incarnation of the Divine, the human representation of the Absolute, able to guide his disciples along the road to freedom.

    • Karma: The word means 'action' in sanskrit. Positive or negative consequences of the actions performed in the course of one's present existence or of previous lives.

    • Kundalini: Dormant energy coiled up at the bottom of the spinal column: it can be awakened through special practices, mostly taught in Tantrism, aiming to unite the being with the supreme consciousness.

    • Mandala: 'Arch of the circle', diagram 'resonating with' the cosmic order and architecture: it is very often used in Tantrism as a support to meditation.

    • Mâdhukari: 'the gathering of honey', singing while begging for one's daily bowl of rice, as the indian religious practice requires. Symbolic act that intends to increase the ascetic's humility, while through him the energy of the donor is subtilized. Everyone gains through this act, the receiver as well as the donor.

    • Mantra: it means 'the instrument of the spirit': it consists of a sound or a sentence from a sacred text. The sound or the sentence being constantly repeated create the mental void, the space that can be filled by a different presence. The vibral power of the sound is used by the ascetic as a tool for travelling from an energetic level to another.

    • Méditation: Meditation: A state of profound interior concentration that allows the being 'to go to the center', to penetrate to the interior of self and achieve spiritual health, 'Moksha', through a new awareness of the ultimate reality.

    • Mudras: Symbolic and ritual gestures that allow a circulation of the energies in the body.

    • Nirvâna: Elevation of the being up to a state permitting him to be released from the cycle of deaths and rebirths (Samsâra).

    • Prânâyâma: The breathing control practised by the yogi in order to get in contact with the divine presence.

    • Sâdhu: Ascetic who has chosen to consacrate the totality of his life to the quest for the absolute. He has neither fix domicile nor resources, and begs for shelter and food on his way. He departs from wordly temptations in his desire to get back to God.

    • Sannyâsin: The one who has given up the earthly world in order to consacrate himself to the quest for final freedom.

    • Samâdhi: A state of concentration and transcendence that a spiritually evolved being can reach and transmit to the group of people who follow him.

    • Sûtra: Oral teaching (especially the one ascribed to the Buddha).

    • Yantra: Invisible diagram defining the energetic field necessary to the searcher in his quest for communion with the Divine.

    • Yogi: Person that practises yoga, the art of unifcation with God.

    • Different types of yoga exist:
    • Karma yoga, or yoga of action

    • Bhakti yoga, or yoga of devotional love

    • Jnana yoga, or yoga of knowledge

    • Hatha yoga, or yoga of 'violent effort'

    • Kundalini yoga, or yoga of the awakening and transmutation of the snake's energies coiled at the bottom of the spinal column.