Yoga Dictionary

S.No. Words Description
1 a The sound 'a'
This is the first letter in the traditional listing of letters in Sanskrit. 'A' is also the first component of the sound 'Om' (composed of A-U-M) which is a representation of the Supreme Brahman. It is associated with Brahm?, the creator, with rajogu?a and with the colour red. It is also connected to fire, antarik?a, the Yajurveda, v?yu, the earth and Lord Vi??u. These associations are used during dhy?na on Om. (See Pra?ava for details)
2 abhasvarah A collective name of sixty-four devas
According to Vyāṣabhāṣya (3.25), there are seven realms above Earth (including the Earth). These are: bhū (Earth), antarikṣa (space), svar (heaven), mahar, jana, tapas and satya, each inhabited by various classes of beings. Ābhāsvaras live in the tapas realm (Tapoloka). In the context of yogic practice, saṃyama into the Sun, provides knowledge of the worlds (Yogasūtra 3.25), including those inhabited by these beings and knowledge of these beings as well.
3 abhava Absence; non-existence; lack; non-occurrence; negation; nothingness.
Abhāva is a commonly used word, especially when the author wishes to state something with precision. For example, pratyakṣābhāva denotes lack of pratyakṣa (perception). There is one particular use of abhāva in the philosophical aspects of yoga. Sleep is defined as the mental state that is fixated on the cognition of abhāva. This is especially used in distinguishing sleep from samādhi, since complete samādhi involves a lack of all mental activity, while sleep involves the cognition of abhāva. (See Patañjali Yogasūtra 1.10).
4 abhibhava Overpowering; subduing
Abhibhava is used in the context of subduing an unfavourable or undesirable quality, so that the others prevail. For example, the saṃskāras arising from nirvicāra samādhi block (overpower, conquer) those that come from the waking state (vyutthāna).
5 abhikramanasa Loss of efforts
A question that plagues any practitioner of yoga or someone interested in philosophy is what happens to all the efforts put in this life when death occurs. The word ‘abhikramanāśa’ is composed of ‘abhikrama’ meaning ‘undertaking’, ‘beginning’ or ‘effort’ and nāśa refers to ‘loss’ or ‘destruction’. This word refers to exactly this idea. The reply is that even a little knowledge of yoga will protect a person from the perils of life and the pangs of birth and death. The efforts are carried over across lives.
6 abhimana Self-conceit; pride; any misconception (esp. regarding oneself)
Apart from use in the general sense of pride, it is used in Sāṅkhya to denote a specific idea: Puruṣa does not do anything but only wishes, while prakṛti, being lifeless, moves according to those wishes and does whatever is wished for by the puruṣa. The idea of puruṣa that it is doer of the action rather than prakṛti is called abhimāna. Abhimāna and asmitā (a more popular word in yoga texts) are synonyms, however, they may carry different connotations (see asmitā).
7 abhinivesa Instinctive attachment, esp. to one’s life.
‘Abhiniveśa’ is the sentiment in all creatures of clinging to one’s own life. It is one of the kleśas (impediments) that prevents the mind from reaching a stable position, which is the goal of yoga. It must be overcome through practice for progress in yoga.
8 abhivyaktikarana Cause of manifestation.
Nine causes are enumerated in the Vyāsabhāṣya, with regard to how yogāṅgas take a person to vivekakhyāti. The third one of these is abhivyakti or abhivyaktikāraṇa, which pertains to the cause of manifestation. These are manifested in the same way as light manifests colour.
9 abhogah Winding; curving; a serpent; enjoyment;
The meaning of ‘winding’, ‘curving’ or ‘serpent’ is used in general literature. The meaning as ‘enjoyment’ is used in Yoga, as a synonym of bhoga (q.v.)
10 abhyantaram Internal; inner; inward
Ābhyantara is used in the sense of ‘internal’ or ‘inner’ and sometimes as ‘inward’. It contrasts with bāhya, meaning external. In the context of yoga, it is occasionally used to refer to the state of breath where exhalation is complete but inhalation has not yet begun.
11 abhyasa Repetition; practice
Repetition of an idea or thought reinforces it. This is codified into one of the sūtras in Yogasūtra (1.12) which says that repetition (abhyāsa) and dispassion (vairāgya) are key to progress in yoga. The same principle is echoed in several places including the Bhagavadgītā.
12 abhyasayoga Yoga achieved through abhyāsa
Abhyāsa refers to ‘repetition’. When the same idea is repeated in the mind and the mind becomes one with that idea, it enters samādhi. This yoga (joining or mode of entering samādhi) is called abhyāsayoga. Bhaktiyoga is a prominent path that makes use of this method since the practitioner enters into samādhi through repeatedly thinking about the God of choice.
13 acaladrk Fixed vision; a person with fixed vision.
‘Cala’ means moving or mobile. ‘Acala’ is the opposite, i.e. fixed. ‘Dṛś’ is vision or seeing. Hence, ‘acaladṛś’ is the act of seeing without moving the eyes. It can also denote the person whose vision is fixated on something. Though the word only refers to vision, it is common to use the eyes to refer to sense organs in general. In ordinary situations, the sense organs remain diverted in the external world. However, in Yoga, these senses are brought under control and withdrawn to a single place. In dhāraṇā and dhyāna, they are placed onto an object of choice and made to remain there. In this context, the word acaladṛś is used.
14 acapala Absence of fickleness (see cāpala)
Absence of fickleness (see cāpala)
15 acaryah Teacher; preceptor
Ācārya means ‘teacher’. It is often used interchangeably with ‘guru’, however there are some differences in the nuances of these two words. A guru indicates a person who initiates his disciple and teaches him. ‘Guru’ has a personal connotation – he takes personal responsibility of the disciple (śiṣya). Another’s guru is not called ‘guru’. While ‘ācārya’ can also be used in the sense of the person who initiates and teaches, the meaning is more impersonal, i.e. any other person in a respected position may also be called ācārya. It is also a commonly used honorific added to the names of elders or to the names of older authors when later authors refer to them respectfully. For example, Sāyaṇa (a commentator on the Vedas) or Āryabhaṭa (author on astronomy) are referred to by their successors as Sāyaṇācārya or Āryabhaṭācārya. Ṛsis are referred to as ṛṣis (or maharṣis) and not ācāryas; for example, Nārada maharṣi for Nārada or Caraka maharṣi for Caraka. Both these terms (guru and ācārya) are given special meanings in Dharmaśāstras.
16 acetana Insentient; lifeless (see cetana)
Insentient; lifeless (see cetana)
17 acintya Beyond thought; that which cannot be conceived or understood.
The word ‘cintya’ refers to something which can be conceived or thought of. ‘Acintya’ is the opposite, i.e. something which cannot be thought of. Generally, it is used a designation of the Supreme Brahman which cannot be conceived directly with the mind.
18 acyuta Permanent
The word ‘cyuta’ refers to a person who has fallen or has perished. The word ‘Acyuta’ refers to something or someone who does not perish. It is a common epithet of Lord Viṣṇu and his incarnation Kṛṣṇa. It may also be used of other Gods or the Supreme Brahman. It is also used to refer to a class of beings supposed to live in the Satyaloka, who are engaged in savitarka dhyāna.
19 adambhitvam Pridelessness
The Bhagavad-g§t¡ lists in detail the characteristics of a person who has acquired divine knowledge. Among them, pridelessness is one of the important characteristics. A person who has attained divine knowledge has this quality innately while a person striving for divine knowledge must put effort to acquire this quality among others.
20 adanam Receiving; taking; tasks undertaken by the hand
The basic meaning of ādāna is ‘receiving’ or ‘taking’. An extended meaning is used in philosophical works. The sense organs are five. On similar lines, five motor organs or organs of action have been defined and are known as karmendriyas. One of these is the two hands. The tasks done by the hands are also termed as ādāna. This includes taking, receiving, working and any other action that the hands can perform.
21 ādarśaḥ Seeing; mirror; higher vision (siddhi)
Ādarśa has the general meaning of ‘seeing’ and can be used to denote a mirror or the act of seeing. In the context of yoga, it is the name given to a siddhi where the eyes are not restrained by their usual limitations.
22 adesakalah Improper place and time
When doing any action, it is important to consider the place where it is being done and the time or situation in which the actions is done. A correct combination of these is crucial for getting the correct result. Adeśakāla is that which is not done at the proper place and time.
23 adhama Inferior; lowest
When comparing different varieties in the same object class, it is common to refer to the best as uttama, middle one as madhyama and the lowest or worst one as adhama. This may be used in several contexts with a general meaning or may be specifically used to designate one type of Pr¡³¡y¡ma. There are three types of Pr¡³¡y¡mas - Adhama, Madhyama, and the Uttama variety, which increase in length. Adhama may also be called laghu (‘light’) or kanyaka. Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa (39.14), Garuḍa Purāṇa (49.35), Agni Purāṇa (372.10) and other texts give its length as 12 mātrās (around 2.4 seconds) in time.
24 adharah Support; aid; prop; mūlādhāra
The general meanings of ādhāra include ‘support’, ‘aid’ or ‘prop’, the foundation on which the object in question rests. It is also a synonym of the mūlādhāra which is at the root (mūla) of the Suṣumnā and supports (ādhāra) the entire nāḍī. (See mūlādhāra).
25 adharma Sin; not dharma (See ‘dharma’)
Sin; not dharma (See ‘dharma’)
26 adhassakha (variant: adhahsakha) (A tree) having its branches downwards.
Adhaśśākha and ūrdhvamūla refer to a tree with its root upwards and branches downwards. This tree is part of a metaphor found in the Upaniṣads and Bhagavadgītā. It is representative of saṃsāra. Its origins are in Brahman (the root). It arises because of the seed of ignorance, desire, action and the un-manifested (Prakṛti). It is herein that all objects of the world and sorrow lie. By cutting this tree with the axe of non-attachment, the yogī is left only with the root which is Brahman. The tree does not grow again. 5.
27 adhibhautikam Pertaining to the bhūtas; arising from other creatures
Three causes of sorrow for humans are enumerated: ādhyātmika, ādhibhautika and ādhidaivika. That which arises from bhūtas is called ādhibhautika. In philosophical parlance, bhūtas refer to the five classical elements. However, here, the general meaning of the word is to be taken, which is creature (living being). Those issues that arise from other living beings such as animals (snakes, forest creatures, etc.) or other humans are called ādhibhautika.
28 ādhidaivika Pertaining to the Devas; pertaining to uncontrollable natural phenomena or acts of God
Three causes of duḥkha (sorrow) for humans are enumerated: ādhyātmika, ādhibhautika and ādhidaivika. Any issue that arises from the Devas (who are personifications of natural phenomena) or that which is beyond human control or an act of God (such as floods, fires, etc.) is termed ādhidaivika.
29 adhidevata Presiding deity
Several objects, concepts, etc. have deities associated with them; these are the presiding deities of those subjects. For example, the presiding deity of learning is Goddess Sarasvat§. Nakṣatras (constellations in the sky) and grahas (Sun, moon and planets) similarly have deities associated with them. The sun is associate with Śiva. Śravaṇa nakṣatra is associated with Viṣṇu. Different cakras of the body are presided over by different gods and goddesses as well. The Br¡hma³a part of the Tri¾ikhibr¡hma³opani½at mentions that the a±gas (limbs of the (human) body) are presided over by the deities like, V¡ta, Arka, Varu³a, A¾vi, Indra, Upendra, Praj¡pati and Yama.
30 adhimatra Excess quantity (physically or metaphorically)
Excess quantity of something may be called adhimātra. A metaphorical usage is found in Yogasūtra. Patañjali, in the process of explaining the stages in attaining Samādhi (Sūtra 1.22) explains the different persons evince different levels of interest towards yoga and put in different levels of effort towards it. High interest and hight effort are both called adhimātra.
31 adhisṭhanam Foundation; basis; position; location; rule
If one thing is placed on another, the latter becomes the foundation for the first. In this sense, the latter will be called adhiṣṭhāna. The adhiṣṭhāna for a quality or an event is the object in which that quality exists or the event occurs. In all these senses, adhiṣṭhāna can also be used to convey location or placement of the object.
32 adhyatma Pertaining to ātman
Ātman generally has two principal meanings – one is the self, in day-to-day connotations and the other is the self in philosophy which is associated with Brahman. Adhyātman can be used in both contexts. Suffering (duḥkha) is classified into three: adhibhūta, adhidaiva, adhyātma – those that arise from other creatures (animals, other people, etc.), those arising from uncontrollable phenomena (e.g. floods, rainfall, drought, etc.) and those that arise from oneself (e.g. disease, etc.). Here ātman refers to oneself. In compounds such as adhyātmavidhyā or adhyātmajñāna, adhyātma refers to knowledge which pertains to Brahman.
33 adhyatmaprasada Removal of separation of jīva and Brahman
Adhyātmaprasāda refers to the removal of the veil separating the jīva from Brahman. The veil exists because of the inherent tamoguṇa present in the person. When this is removed through practice of yoga, adhyātmaprasāda is said to occur.
34 adhyatmavidya Knowledge of ātman; Supreme Knowledge
Certain types of studies (vidyā) or knowledge (jñāna) systems focus on worldly matters. That which focused on understanding the nature of ātman and finding the means to liberation is called adhyātma-vidyā.
35 adhyatmikam Pertaining to oneself; arising from one’s body or mind; related to ātman; holy
Three causes of sorrow for humans are enumerated: ādhyātmika, ādhibhautika and ādhidaivika. Any issue that arises from oneself (ātman) is called ādhyātmika. These include physical or mental ailments. Unlike the other two words, ādhyātmika is also used frequently in other contexts to denote anything pertaining to oneself (to ātman). Since Brahman is the same as ātman, the meaning is extended to cover the things that pertain to the Supreme Brahman (paramātman, i.e. the higher ātman). From this the meaning ‘holy’ also arises.
36 adhyavasaya Method of arriving at final knowledge; intellect; clinging to earthly objects
The method of reaching at the final knowledge, which is the goal of yoga, is called adhyavasāya. A prominent method is logic reasoning (anumāna). Because of this, adhyavasāya may also refer to intellect. The meaning ‘clinging to earthly objects’ is found mainly in Buddhist literature.
37 adhyayana Study; learning
Adhyayana refers to the act of studying or learning. One learns the text as is, as well as the concepts and ideas of the texts. In context of yoga, the texts studied would be those that discuss mokṣa, since that is the goal of yoga.
38 adih Beginning; first; etc.
The beginning or first portion of anything or the first in a series is called ādi. Further, in Sanskrit, it is customary to put things into lists that can be easily remembered. Ādi then will be used a suffix for the first (or first few) items in the list to invoke the entire list. There is no direct equivalent in English for this usage but “and so on”, “etc.” or “beginning with” are close usages. For example, the list of nakṣatras is Aśvinī, Bharaṇī, Kṛttikā and so on. The nakṣatras are called aśvinī-ādi (compressed to aśvinyādi). The list of yamas in a text may be ahiṃsā, asteya and so on. They will be ahiṃsā-ādi (compressed to ahiṃsādi). This usage is very popular.
39 adinathah Śiva (epithet)
He who is the ādi (beginning, first) and the nātha (lord) is ādinātha. This refers to Śiva.
40 adinatvam State of not feeling depressed; being out of poverty
Dīna has connotations of ‘depressed’ or ‘in despair’ and applies to any person who does not have the drive or hope required to move forward with activities. It may also refer to poverty. Both these conditions hamper progress in yoga since the mind cannot be brought to focus in such a situation. By whatever means, the yogī must rid himself of these states. The opposite of dīna is adīna and state of being adīna is adīnatva. One of the chief niyamas in yoga is saṃtoṣa, i.e. happiness or contentment, which is one of the aspects of adīnatva, hence this is necessary.
41 adityah Sun (star); Sun (deity); son of Aditi
Āditya is the name given to Sun (which shines in the sky) as well the solar deity (see sūrya for details). By virtue of its etymology, ‘āditya’ also refers to any son of Aditi, as stated in stories. This includes all Devas.
42 adroha Absence of injury (droha)
Droha is injury and harm done to another person. It may extend from plain interference to strong violence – verbal or physical. The lack of it is ‘adroha’. It is one of the twenty-six divine qualities (Daivīsampat) stated in Bhagavadgītā.
43 adrstam Not seen (perceived); that which is not seen; merit and sin (puṇya and pāpa)
Adṛṣṭa refers to anything that cannot be seen or perceived. A common meaning in philosophical literature is merit and sin (i.e. puṇya and pāpa), which are the results of past actions. The compound adṛṣṭa-janmā refers to future births (janma meaning birth) since these births cannot be seen.
44 advaita The philosophy of Advaita (non-duality); not-two
Advaita Vedānta is one of the principal divisions of the Vedānta philosophy alongside Viśiṣṭādvaita and Dvaita. Its chief and most famous propounder was Ādi Śaṅkara, who wrote extensive commentaries on Brahmasūtras, Bhagavadgītā and the Upaniṣads. Advaita holds that individual ātmans are only an aspect of the same singular Brahman, i.e. Brahman is both the visible objects in the world as well as the person experiencing them.
45 advaya Non-dual; not two
Advaya literally means ‘not-two’ There are two contexts in philosophy where this concept comes into play. Firstly, it is used when stating that Brahman or the Supreme God is singular and not two, i.e. there is no reason to posit the existence of several Gods and that all Gods are forms of the same singular Brahman. This concept is often found in the Upaniṣads in phrases such as ‘ekamadvitīyam’ (single without second), etc. Another context for this word is when discussing if the singular Brahman and the individual ātmans are the same or not. Dvaita philosophy holds that they are separate but Advaita states that they are the same. Advaya is a reference to Advaita philosophy.
46 advesta One who does not have hatred or enemity.
A person who does not have hatred towards others is called adveṣṭṛ. It is enumerated in the 12th chapter of the Bhagavadgītā by Lord Kṛṣṇa among the qualities of a true devotee of the Lord.
47 agamah Coming; arrival; origin; tradition; testimony (one of the pramāṇas); scripture; a class of texts
Āgama means ‘coming’ or ‘arrival’. By extension, it can refer to ‘origin’ (i.e. the source of the “coming”) or ‘tradition’ (what has come down from earlier). It can also mean ‘testimony’ as one of the valid sources of knowledge. In this context, āgama is defined as the perception or inference of someone else that has been expressed as words by that person and is being heard by a second person. The second person treats the words of the first person as āgama. Āgama is valid when heard from a trustworthy speaker, i.e. someone who has perceived and interpreted the fact in its true nature, and when his words are interpreted in the manner he intended. This trustworthy person is called ‘āpta’. Because of this, āgama is often defined as ‘āptavacana’ (vacana meaning ‘speaking’ or ‘utterance’) (q.v.). A synonym of āgama in this context is śābda (‘based on speech’). Āgama is also the name of a class of texts that are treated as scripture in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism (each with individual āgamas). The Āgamas of Hinduism are mainly concerned with creation and maintenance of temples (including all the rituals done) while providing connected philosophical details, and are subordinate to the Vedas and related literature.
48 agamya Not understandable
Something which cannot be understood directly may be termed ‘agamya’. Haṭhayoga Pradīpikā uses this word to describe the Supreme Brahman, saying that this can only be understood from a proper guru.
49 agastya Agastya (sage)
Agastya is a sage who features prominently in several stories. One such story alludes to him drinking up the entire ocean. Vyāsabhāṣya uses this story as an example to state the fact that such powers are only possible through the power of a mind which has been restrained through practice of yoga.
50 agneyi Related to fire
Anything related to fire or Agni (as a deity or presiding deity) may be called āgneyī. Nādabindūpaniṣad (6-8) breaks the praṇava (the sound Om) into four mātrās (morae). The first one contains the sound ‘a’, the second one contains ‘u’ and the third one contains ‘m’. The fourth is a half mātrā introduced at the end. Each of these has presiding deities. The deity of the first mātrā is Agni, hence it may be called āgneyī.
51 agni Fire (object); Fire (God); fire (element); digestive (and metabolic) capacity
The word ‘agni’ in its most basic sense connotes fire, the object seen in the world. This fire is deified and given a form as Agni. Agni is considered as the mouth of the Gods and the one who is most capable of reaching the sacrifical offering to the God to whom it is addressed. He acts like a priest in the offering to Gods (refer Ṛgveda 1.1.1). Agni is also a symbol of purity and truth. This is the intention behind the Agniparīkṣā that features in stories. Because of these reasons, Agni features prominently in rituals such as marriage as well. Ancient Indian courts had an option to swear truth over a fire (refer Arthaśāstra 3.11.34). Fire is also one of the five basic elements (pañcabhūta) used in philosophy. In this context, it is responsible for changing and modifying existing objects and giving them new form and a new set of properties. In a direct sense, raw food becomes cooked when exposed to fire. In a more metaphorical sense, grains sown in the fields grow and absorb water and soil that they are exposed to due to the heat that the sun provides. This heat or a metaphorical fire (agni) sets into motion the processes that cause change in living and non-living objects. In living objects, the metabolic capacity in general and digestive capacity in particular are called as ‘agni’. It may be called kāyāgni (body-fire) or jaṭharāgni (stomach-fire) in this context. It is stated in Āyurveda that the ‘fire’ that digests sustains all other ‘fires’ of the body, and it is a crucial element (apart from prāṇa and ojas) in keeping a person alive (refer Aṣṭāṅgahṛdaya Sūtrasthāna 12.12). As a deity, Agni is the presiding deity of certain nāḍīs as per some systems of yogic practice.
52 agnibijam The sound ‘ra’ or ‘raṃ’ (the bīja of Agni)
In various texts especially those belonging to Tantra, certain sounds are connected to certain deities. For example, the sound ‘ai’ is connected to Devī in the Devī Bhāgavata. These syllables are called bījas. The bīja for Agni is the sound ‘raṃ’ or ‘ra’.
53 agnidipana That which kindles the fire; digestive
Procedures in Haṭhayoga are usually mentioned along with their results. One of the results of several procedures is agnidīpana, an increase in digestive capacity.
54 agnihotra Agnihotra (a particular Vedic sacrifice).
Agnihotra is a ritual which is expounded in detail in the Kṛṣṇayajurveda and mentioned elsewhere as well, where oblations are offered into a sacred fire. It is of two kinds: Nitya-agnihotra (done regularly) and Kāmya-agnihotra (done as per one’s wishes). The former is done twice daily at dawn and dusk, while the the latter is done to attain specific desires. It is recommended for householders (gṛhasthas) in the Smṛtis.
55 agnisara One of the four Antardhautis.
Agnisāra, also known as vahnisāra, is one of the four antardhauti procedures used in Haṭhayoga. The navel is taken to the backbone a hundred times. It increases jaṭharāgni and removes diseases of the stomach. There is no respiratory motion accompanying this unlike kapālabhāti.
56 agnisthana The seat of fire in the body.
Composed of words ‘agni’ meaning fire and ‘sthāna’ meaning place. The elemental fire exists in the body in the form of pitta (one of the three doṣas in the body), which while being dominated by elemental agni also contains a little bit of other elements. Pitta combines with samāna (a type of vāyu, another one of the doṣas) and digests the food as jaṭharāgni. This is located in the region of the navel.
57 agnisvattah A particular class of Manes
Worship of deceased ancestors (Manes, Pitṛs) is an important part of Indian tradition and shows up most commonly in the form of the śrāddha ritual, which is performed for a few days after death and yearly after that. Smṛtis (such as those of Manu and Yājñavalkya) which recommend the śrāddha practices as well as Purāṇas (such as Brahmāṇḍa) mention that the śrāddha ritual makes the deceased ancestor (who is called ‘preta’ until then) gets the status of Pitṛ. Yearly śrāddha and other offerings are then offered to them, and they are said to bring wealth, progeny and happiness to the performer of śrāddha. A sub-class in these beings are the Agniṣvātta. In general the words only denotes ‘consumed by fire’ (as in the fire of cremation) and thus all Pitṛs, but the meaning is most often narrowed to refer to only a special subclass.
58 aguṇa See puruṣa
See puruṣa
59 Àha Examination; deliberation; reasoning; conclusion
‘Ūha’ generally means ‘reasoning’ but also has the nuances of ‘examination’, ‘deliberation’ or ‘conclusion’. According to Vyāsabhāṣya, it is one of the qualities of buddhi, which is then ascribed to puruṣa, since he experiences its results.
60 ahankarah Egotism; pride; self-consciousness; the third element in creation in Sāṅkhya Philosophy
The general meaning of ahaṅkāra is ‘pride’ or ‘egotism’. In Sāṅkhya and Yoga however, it denotes the capacity of distinguishing oneself from another or self-consciousness. During the process of creation, Mahat (or Mahattattva) arises from Prakṛti. From Mahat, Ahaṅkāra arises. Given the nature of ahaṅkāra to introduce distinction in objects, it modifies and splits itself into the various objects visible around us, through a complex process of creation. This splitting of Ahaṅkāra is effectuated by its association to the Guṇas viz. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Ahaṅkāra tinged with Sattva is called Sāttvika or Vaikārika. When tinged with Rajas, it is called Rājasa or Taijasa. With tamas, it is called Tāmasa (sometimes Bhūtādi). The exact division of objects that arises from these varies across texts. In the Sāṅkhya Kārikā, Taijasa supports Vaikārika in the creation of the 11 indriyas and Bhūtādi in the creation of the five tanmātras which go on to create the five bhūtas (pañcabhūtas). In the end, the 11 indriyas, five tanmātras and five bhūtas are all created through the process. Mahat and ahaṅkāra also split and occupy a place in each person’s body. Given its central role in creation, ahaṅkāra is given importance in Sāṅkhya as the primary distinguishing factor and the cause of the thought ‘I do’ or ‘I have’. When these thoughts are extinguished, through the correct knowledge, the practitioner attains mokṣa.
61 ahankrtih Synonym of ahaṅkāra (q.v.)
Synonym of ahaṅkāra (q.v.)
62 aharanam Taking; seizing; extracting; offering (sacrifice)
The tasks of various indriyas are classified into three: āharaṇa (taking), dhāraṇa (holding) and prakāśakaraṇa (displaying). Prakāśakaraṇa is undertaken by the jñānendriyas including buddhi, while āharaṇa and dhāraṇa are undertaken by the karmendriyas.
63 aharya To be taken or seized; to be brought; object of āharaṇa
That which needs to undergo āharaṇa (q.v.).
64 ahavaniya To offer (as oblation); the Āhavanīya fire; eastern fire (in yajñas)
Three permanent fires were traditionally kept in homes. They are āhavanīya, gārhapatya and dakṣiṇa. Out of these, fire taken from the āhavanīya was used to offer oblations. Something that is to be offered as oblation may be called āhavanīya. In larger yajñas where there are three fires, the eastern one is called āhavanīya.
65 ahimsa Harmlessness; non-violence; abstaining from giving pain to others (in word, action and thought)
Ahiṃsā refers to refraining from killing, injuring or giving pain to any creature in anyway, through words, actions or thoughts. This is one of the yamas and thus a central concept in the practice of yoga, which is referred to across all texts on yoga. The Yogasūtras (2.35) state that when anyone approaches a person entrenched in this practice, they abandon hatred and enmity. It also one of the Daivī sampad mentioned in the Bhagavadgītā.
66 ahita Not placed, put or fixed; unfit; improper; inimical; damage; enmity
The most common meaning of this word is ‘unfit’ or ‘improper’. Anything that is detrimental to a person, including oneself, may be called ahita. This includes food, actions, or thoughts.
67 ahlada Synonym of ānanda (q.v.)
Synonym of ānanda (q.v.)
68 aikagraya The quality of being ekāgra (q.v.)
The quality of being ekāgra (q.v.)
69 aisvaryam Sovereignty; supremacy; power; sway; dominion; aṣṭaiśvarya (siddhis)
The general meaning of aiśvarya is the quality of being an īśvara, i.e. a lord or master of something. The nuances for this are listed above. In the context of yoga, it refers to a set of eight siddhis known as aṣṭaiśvarya (q.v.).
70 ajadah See cetana
See cetana
71 ajadyanidra See yoganidrā
See yoganidrā
72 ajapa Involuntary chanting
Certain acts are performed voluntarity while others are done without realizing. When japa (chanting of a mantra, etc.) are done without specific intention to do so or without an effort in that direction, the acts is known as ajapā.
73 ajna A particular cakra
Ājñā means ‘order’ or ‘command’. It is also used as a short form for the ājñācakra, one of the six prominent cakras located on the Suṣumnā. It is located in the region between the eyebrows. It is pictured as a lotus having two petals. Through various procedures in yoga, kuṇḍalinī is awakened and brought upwards along the Suṣumnā. As mentioned in the Devī Bhāgavata: the ātman resides in this lotus. When a person is stationed here, he can see everything and knows the past, present and future. He gets commands from the Highest Deity hence it is called ājñā cakra, the cakra for ājñās ‘orders’.
74 akalmasam Non-sin; devoid of sin
‘Sin’ (kalmaṣa or pāpa) refers to evil actions that will bring bad experiences to a person in the future. The act which is free of such sin is called akalmaṣa. (See papa for details)
75 akalpit A type of siddhi
Various siddhis have been enumerated in texts of yoga. The usual state of a person is ‘kalpitā’. Here, the mind functions with the body and exercises control over the objects in the body. In the akalpitā state, the mind exits the body and acts of its own accord. This is a type of siddhi.  
76 akarah Form; shape; figure; appearance; gesture (of the body)
Ākāra is the form or shape in which an object is seen. The meanings used in Yoga are largely the same as the English words ‘form’ or ‘appearance’.
77 akaramaunam Oath of silence (communication permitted)
‘Ākāramauna’ is composed of the words ‘ākāra’ and ‘mauna’. One of the meanings of ākāra is gesture. Mauna means silence. Taken together, ākāramauna refers to an oath of silence where the person communicates through only gestures or other means (such as writing) without speaking anything. It is a form of tapas (penance). It is distinguished from kāṣṭhamauna where the person remains completely silent without communicating anything like a log (kāṣṭha).
78 akarana ‘Absence of karaṇa’ or ‘not karaṇa’ (q.v.)
‘Absence of karaṇa’ or ‘not karaṇa’ (q.v.)
79 akarapattih Taking a particular form
When the mind has been brought into complete focus, it is like a crystal. It can be made to focus on anything of the person’s choice. Just as a crystal placed on an object takes on the colour of that object, the mind adopts the properties of whatever it is placed on. This process of taking on form is called ākārāpatti. This is the basis for siddhis.
80 akarma Not karma
‘Karma’ refers to action. Each action has an underlying result. The term ‘akarma’ owes its separate existence to the tenets of karmayoga. If a person can identify with the self which is actionless (prakṛti, not puruṣa, acts), whatever work is done by this person is not considered an action hence it is akarma. On the other hand, a person may not be physically doing any action, but if he has a sense of doer-ship, then it is considered that he does an action even though he does not act. (See karma for details)
81 akarmakt Non-doer of action
The doer of ‘akarma’ is known as ‘akarmak¸t’. Alternatively, a person who is not a ‘karmakṛt’ (doer of action) is called ‘akarmakṛt’. A person who is engaged in performing Karmayoga without being attached or enamoured with the fruits of the actions he performs is known as ‘akarmak¸t’.
82 akart bhava The state of a non-doer
The state or condition of an ‘akartṛ’ is called akartṛbhāva (See akartṛ)
83 akartr Non-doer
‘Kartā’ is a person who does something. ‘Akartā’ is the opposite, i.e. someone who does nothing. A person who does nothing and remains as such, is not affected by the effects of the karmas since all his karmas are progressively exhausted.
84 akarya Not to be done; forbidden 
The word ‘kārya’ refers to an action which is fit to be performed, and can be done, such as those ordained in the Vedas and subsidiary texts. ‘Akārya’ denotes ‘the opposite of kārya’.
85 akasah Sky; open space; ether (one of the five elements); Brahman
The literal meaning of ākāśa is ‘sky’. An extension of the basic meaning of ‘sky’ is ‘open space’. Given the meaning of ‘open space’, ākāśa has some overlap in meaning with avakāśa, however, there are other nuances that distinguish the two, specifically ākāśa is an element. Indian knowledge systems are founded on a system of five elements called the pañcabhūta. These are: pṛthivī (earth), ap (water), tejas (fire), vāyu (air) and ākāśa (ether). The Indian classical elements however are not interpreted in the same way as the current Western elements used in science. They represent a model where each element is ascribed certain properties and any object having the same property is deemed to have more of that element. For example, the property of fire is to change one thing to another (pariṇāma). This is undertaken by the human body hence a ‘fire’ is deemed to exist within the body even though there is no real fire. Further under this model, elements are superimposed upon one another in various ways, often depending on the requirements in each subject (an example of this is pañcīkaraṇa). The role of ākāśa is that it provides space for the other elements to exist. Each element is also associated with a sensory perception: ākāśa is associated with hearing. Unlike the other four classical elements which are composed of separate indivisible units known as paramāṇus, ākāśa is a single all-pervading whole that exists everywhere at all times, giving space to everything that exists within it. Given its nature of being all-pervading, it is often likened to Ātman or Brahman which is also all-pervading.
86 akirtihi Ill-fame; disgrace; disrepute
‘K§rti’ signifies ‘fame’. ‘Ak§rti’ is the opposite of k§rti.
87 aklistam Non-paining; a type of vṛtti (state of mind).
Patañjali in the beginning of the Yogasūtra-s, defines vṛttis (mental activities) of two types – kliṣṭa and akliṣṭa. Those that aid achievement of samādhi are called akliṣṭa. Those that prevent it and bind the person more to the world are kliṣṭa. When the mind only has akliṣṭa vṛttis, then the person is in samprajñāta samādhi. Both kliṣṭa and akliṣṭa vṛttis have to be curtailed in order to experience the final samādhi, i.e. asamprajñāta samādhi and to reach Brahman.
88 akrama Not happening successively; happening at once
The Yogasūtra uses this word as part of the definition of vivekajñāna (q.v.).
89 akriya Inactive; not acting; abstaining from required activities (religious, yogic, etc.)
A person who wishes to achieve something must work towards it. Such a person who does not engage in the activities required to achieve his goal is called akriya. Anyone who wishes to achieve success in yoga must devote themselves to practice of the eight aṅgas of yoga. This is stated in several places across various texts (see abhyāsa). An akriya cannot succeed.
90 akrodha Absence of anger; refraining from anger
‘Akrodha’ as an attribute of a person refers to refraining from anger. It is a common feature in yoga texts, since calmness of mind (the goal of yoga) occurs when anger is kept aside. It features separately in various texts, such as Yājñavalkya Smṛti and Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa as a niyama. Some texts include it in ahiṃsā or some other yama and niyama, by saying that one must avoid hurting another through words, mentally or physically. In the Bhagavadgītā, it is one of twenty-six attributes that form the group of ‘divine virtues’ (Daivīsampat) which eventually bring mokṣa, as opposed to the group of ‘demonic virtues’ (Āsurīsampat) which pull a person into saṃsāra. (See sampat)
91 akrsnah Not black; white
See ‘a¾uklāk¸½³a’
92 akrtsnavit Not knowing everything
It is a common idea in philosophical texts to say that a person who knows Brahman does not have anything left to know since all objects are only forms of Brahman. A person who knows this Brahman and thus knows everything is ‘kṛtsnavid’. A person who is not kṛtsnavid is ‘akṛtsnavid’.
93 akrutatma A person who is engaged in sensual pleasures
A person who has not conquered or achieved control over his senses. ‘Ak¸t¡tman’ also denotes a person who is not yet able to realise the true nature of the self (¡tman).
94 aksarah That which does not decay or wane; syllable
Anything that does not decay over time can be called akṣara. A commonly used meaning is ‘syllable’, which is the most basic unit of speech. In philosophy and thus yoga, it denotes Brahman, since Brahman is changeless.
95 aksaratrayam Set of three syllables; Oṃ
The word refers to the sound Om. See ‘pra³ava’ for further explanation.
96 aksasutra (variant: aksasutraka) Rosary; string of beads.
Rosaries or strings of beads are used for japa which involves chanting of certain mantras for a prescribed number of times. Counting may be done using fingers or using a rosary. The seeds of rudrākṣa (Elaeocarpus ganitrus) are popularly used to make rosaries. One of the descriptions of Viṣṇu given in the Viṣṇu Purāṇa which is used for dhyāna consists of Viṣṇu holding a rosary.
97 aksayah Imperishable
As an adjective, it denotes something which does not perish or something which is not destroyed over the course of time. As a noun, it denotes that object which does not perish. All objects that are brought into creation must at some point or another get dissolved back into Brahman, i.e. anything that has birth also has death. The only object beyond this is the Supreme Lord or Brahman itself.
98 aksi The eye; sense organ
Akṣi refers to the ‘eye’ (sense organ). However, very often, like other words for ‘eye’, it is used to refer to the sense organs in general.
99 aksivedana Pain in the eyes (symptom)
This is a symptom described in certain texts in yoga that is cured through proper practice of prāṇāyāma and which may occur due to incorrect practices.
100 akuśalaḥ Inefficient; not clever; inauspicious; demerit
‘Kuśala’ refers to a person who is dexterous, clever or efficient. When referring to people, ‘akuśala’ means the opposite, i.e. ‘inefficient’ or ‘not clever’. When referring to objects, events or actions, the meaning is extended to ‘inauspicious’ or ‘demerit’, i.e. sin.
101 akusidaha A person who does not relapse into saṃsāra
A person who does not relapse i.e., fall back into saṃsāra from the position of Viveka-khy¡ti. Dharmamegha-sam¡dhi, according to Pata²jali, is attained only if the Yogin who has attained perfection does not fall from this position even for a moment up to the end of his life. This is an example of a special usage in technical literature while in general literature, kusīda refers to a moneylender or to money lent out with interest, i.e. with the intention of taking it back. The meaning of ‘taking back’ has been appropriated here and made into the negative form: akusīda, ‘not taken back’ or ‘not going back’.
102 alabdhabhūmikatva Failing to attain the required state of mind.
Nine impediments towards reaching samādhi (see antarāya) are delineated in the Yogasūtras. Alabdhabhūmikatva is one of them. ‘Bhūmi’ refers to the state of mind, and ‘labdha’ means ‘obtained’ or ‘received’. Not reaching the required bhūmi, which ends with the state of samādhi, is an obstacle.
103 alambanam Support; resting upon; foundation
The general meaning of ālambana is ‘support’ or ‘foundation’. In the context of yoga, it is used in connection with dhāraṇā. Dhāraṇā involves bringing the mind into focus on an object (image, form, etc.) of some kind. The process of placing the mind on some object which it is being brought into focus, is called ālambana.
104 alambusa (variant: alambusa) Name of a nāḍī
Different systems of nāḍīs are used across texts. In the system of ten major nāḍīs given in some texts, Alambuṣā (also written alambusā) is the one which exists mouth. The Śāṇḍilyopaniṣad states that it is located near the anus (pāyumūla, i.e. root of the anus). The Darśanopaniṣad states that it extends from the kanda to the pāyu (anus).
105 alasyam Laziness; idleness; sloth
‘Ālasya’ refers to a general idleness, heaviness of limbs or difficulty in moving the limbs. It is on physical level rather than a mental level (which would be called styāna). Ālasya is one of the nine antarāyas (obstacles) in the path of yoga that need to be overcome in order to bring success in yoga.
106 alinga Prakṛti
‘Liṅga’ refers to ‘cause’. Various objects of the world, through the progression of cause and effect can be traced backwards to mahat (or mahattattva). This has in turn arisen from Prakṛti. Prakṛti, however has no cause. For this reason, Prakṛti is called aliṅga. In specific cases, Prakṛti may itself be differentiated, in which case Aliṅga denotes one particular state in this differentiation. (see Prakṛti)
107 alocanam Sight; survey; view; consideration; reflection
While the literal meaning of ālocana is ‘sight’ or ‘seeing’, it is more often used in the extended meaning of ‘consideration’ or ‘reflection’. Sāṅkhyakārikā states that information taken from the senses undergoes ālocana (which is the work of buddhi or intellect).
108 aloka Seeing; looking; appearance; perception; light
Āloka is used in the sense of ‘seeing’ or ‘looking’. Its meaning may be extended to ‘perception’ or to ‘light’.
109 aloluptva Non-covetousness; freedom from desire
When a person is faced with the sense objects, his senses do not feel any urge to engage in the objects. Aloluptva is this state. It may be translated as ‘non-covetousness’ or ‘freedom from desire’. It is one of the Daivīsampad, mentioned in the Bhagavadgītā.
110 alpabuddhi Having lesser intellect (or lesser application thereof)
Alpabuddhi is composed of ‘alpa’ meaning ‘less’ and buddhi meaning ‘intelligence’. This term is used in a relative sense w.r.t. people who are knowers of Ātman. A person who does not know ātman remains engaged in worldly affairs. This term, however, does not indicate the intentions of the person. Some persons with malicious intentions may engage with the wrong set of people and create trouble for others. Others, even though equipped with low intellect may perform rituals for the Devas (Bhagavadgītā 7.23) for his own or another’s welfare. Still others may also strive towards understanding yoga or philosophy as a whole (in which case he is called a jijñāsu), but may not have the capacity to completely detach from the world. Alpabuddhi is one of the āsurisampad in the Bhagavadgītā which binds a person to the world. A person who strives to know and rid himself of the ‘alpabuddhi’ that he has achieves success in yoga.
111 amādrstih Eyes being closed in samādhi
Three types of dṛṣtis is are mentioned in the Yogaśāstra when speaking of the state of eyes during samādhi (dṛṣti meaning ‘view’, ‘vision’ or ‘seeing’). They are Amā dṛṣti, where the eyes are closed, Pūrṇimādṛṣti where the eyes are open, and Pratipaddṛṣti, where the eyes are half-closed.
112 amanaska without the mind; without intellect; samādhi
‘Amanaska’ literally means ‘without the mind’. It is also a synonym of samādhi (q.v.) as per Haṭhayoga Pradīpikā.
113 amara Gods; Devas; immortal
‘Amara’, through its etymology means ‘immortal’. It is also an epithet of the Devas (q.v.).
114 amaravaruni See amarī
See amarī
115 amari A particular liquid referred to in Haṭhayoga
Haṭhayoga delineates many esoteric practices to attain different types of siddhis. One of them involves a specific liquid variously called amarī, amaravāruṇī or cāndrī, which is said to ooze out of a place in or above the palate denoted by ‘candra’. This “cool” liquid is said to be lost to the fire in the stomach (defined as the sun). Various bandhas and mudrās strive to prevent this from happening and are said to impart longevity in the process. Any other meanings ascribed to these words must be understood from the respective work given the esoteric nature of some works on Haṭhayoga.
116 amaroli A particular practice in Haṭhayoga
Haṭhayoga pradīpikā defines two kinds of amarolī. One of them is mentioned according to the Kāpālika sect: when drinking the water from candra (a place above the palate), the first and last part of the flow are rejected. The middle is taken up. The other kind of amarolī is a variant of Vajrolī (q.v.).
117 amarta Formless; shapeless
Something which does not have discernible form is called ‘amūrta’. In the context of yoga, it is often used in conjunction with nāda to refer to a subtle sound that arises when doing dhyāna on nāda.
118 amartitaraka A partcular type of Yoga which is called T¡raka-yoga.
T¡raka-yoga, specified in Advayatārakopaniṣad, among other places, is divided into two categories: AmÀrtit¡raka and MÀrtit¡raka. The former among them goes to the end of the senses (or exists till the senses are conquered). AmÀrti-t¡raka goes beyond the senses. Figuratively, it is said to go beyond two eyebrows (Bhrūyugātīta), i.e. above and beyond the senses (represented here by the eyes).
119 amāvāsyā New moon; day (or tithi) of new moon; prāṇa reaching the eyebrows; synonym of amādṛṣṭi
The general meaning of amāvāsyā is ‘new moon’ or the day when that happens (when the sun and moon are together in the sky). Amāvāsya sometimes refers to amādṛṣṭi (see above). In another interpretation: Iḍā, which moves on the left of the spine, is associated with moon and Piṅgalā which moves on the right is associated with the sun. These nāḍīs combine at the location of the eyebrows. Prāṇa usually moves in them individually. However, when prāṇa reaches the eyebrows, where the “sun” and “moon” exist together, amāvāsyā is said to have occurred.
120 ambhasidharana A type of dh¡ra³¡ related to water.
This is a type of dhāraṇā referred to in certain texts of yoga. The yogī must consider water to be present in the heart, white like the Kunda-flower or a conch or the moon, and fix prāṇa there for 5 ghaṭikās (2 hours). The yogī who practises this is freed from all sorrow, and has no fear of injury from water.
121 ambu See ap
See ap
122 amrtah Immortal; nectar of immortality; amarī
‘Am¸ta’ refers to ‘immortal’ or ‘immortality’. It is the word used for the nectar of immortality that appears in the story of the ocean churning in the Purāṇas, which was fed to the Devas and gave them immortality. It is used as a synonym of amarī in some texts.
123 amsa Part; portion
‘Aṃśa’ literally means a portion or part. In many cases of dhyāna, one splits the body into various parts and focusses upon them in distinct ways. The word aṃśa is used in this context. For example, a dhyāna given in Darśanopaniṣad says that one must think of the portion upto the knees as Pṛthivī (Earth), upto the anus as Ap (Water), upto the heart as Agni (Fire), upto the middle of the eyebrows as Vāyu (Air) and above that as Ākāśa (Ether). These ‘aṃśas’ are used in dhyāna. Similarly, in the Bhagavadgītā, it is mentioned that the individual self is an ‘aṃśa’ of the Supreme Being. Meanings of ‘portion’ or ‘part’ can be represented using ‘aṃśa’.
124 anabhisvangah Absence of attachment
This word comes in Bhagavad-g§t¡ in the context of explaining the qualities of an ideal devotee. Anabhi½va±ga meaning ‘absence of attachment’ refers to attachment towards objects and people such as son, wife, home, etc. When a person does actions without attachment towards these, the person is eventually liberated.
125 anadi Having no beginning
Ādi refers to the beginning. When something is anādi, it has no beginning and has existed from an indeterminate time period. It is commonly used to denote Brahman since Brahman was, is and will be. Something which has existed for a long time but will come to end may also be called anādi, for example karmāśaya.
126 anagata Future (not yet come)
The word ‘āgata’ means that which has already come and ‘anāgata’ means that which is yet to come. Out of the pains that one experiences in the past, present and future, the one in the past is already gone and thus cannot be eradicated. The one in the present is being experienced and hence must be completed. However, the one in the future can be avoided.
127 anahata Not struck; Anāhata (a particular cakra)
Anāhata cakra is a major cakra located on the Suṣumnā nāḍī. The name derives from the adjective ‘anāhata’ meaning ‘not struck’. In order to get a sound from anything – an instrument or otherwise – it is necessary to strike or stimulate it in a particular way. However, when the yogī meditates on the anāhata cakra, he hears a sound which is called nāda, which arises without striking or stimulating anything.
128 anakhya One of the ten obstacles in Yoga
Several obstacles in the path of yoga are enumerated by various texts. One of these is anākhya which involves the lack of ākhyā, which is beyond the named states that the yogī reaches. Not being able to reach ākhyā or returning from it is anākhya.
129 anala See Agni.
See Agni.
130 analasikha Flame of fire
‘Anala’ refers to fire and ‘śikhā’ to the peaks that appear in it, i.e. the tongues of the fire. Several types of prāṇāyāma or dhāraṇā in yoga focus on motion of vāyu. When done correctly, vāyu which resides below the navel is pushed upwards through these practices and reaches the fire in the stomach (refer Agni). Just as flames of a fire are fanned by the wind, the fire in the stomach is also fanned and increases in size. In this way, these practices help improve digestion and metabolism.
131 anamaya Having no diseases
‘Āmaya’ denotes disease and ‘an¡maya’ denotes freedom from or absence of disease.
132 anandah Happiness; joy; pleasure; bliss; Brahman; ānanda (samādhi state)
Ānanda means ‘happiness’ or ‘joy’. In Vedānta, ānanda is one of the three attributes that are said to be equivalent to Brahman, the other two being sat and cit. For this reason, it is occasionally equated to Brahman. This is to say that, when a person attains kaivalya, the mind and ātman unite with each other and the person lives with supreme happiness or ānanda. In Yoga, ānanda is one of the states that occurs during samādhi. During samprajñāta samādhi, which is the first stage, four states viz. vitarka, vicāra, ānanda and asmitā occur. Progressively each one of these are dropped leading to asamprajñāta samādhi, where mokṣa occurs, which is the final goal of yoga.
133 anandanugatah Following ānanda (q.v.)
Following ānanda (q.v.)
134 ananta Unending; endless; Ādiśeṣa (the serpent)
‘Ananta’ means ‘endless’. It can refer to Brahman, since Brahman has neither beginning nor end. It is also an epithet of the serpent Ādiśeṣa.
135 ananyacetas Whose mind is on nothing else (other than Brahman)
Through regular practice of all the eight aṅgas of yoga, the person’s mind remains fixed on Brahman, without wavering anywhere else. Such a person is called ananyacetas.
136 ananyayoga Remaining singularly focused on Brahman
Ananya means ‘not another’. When the yogī is firmly entrenched in Brahman, other thoughts fade away and the yogī attains mokṣa. This happens through unwavering bhakti, focus and disinterest in excessive mingling with people.
137 anapeksah अकारान्तः, पुंलिङ्गः, अपेक्षाशून्ये=अनपेक्षः ।
This is one of the qualities of a devotee as defined in Bhagavadgītā as one of the many qualities that an ideal devotee has. While the devotee performs various actions, he does not crave for any of their results. This is a form of karmayoga.
138 anasayah Having no āśayas (q.v.)
‘Āmaya’ denotes disease and ‘an¡maya’ denotes freedom from or absence of disease.
139 anaśnat Person who does not eat
Proper health is crucial for practice of yoga since the body must support the person even for a mere thought. Hence, it is not advisable to stay hungry when practicing yoga. Apart from making the body devoid of nutrition, hunger is also classified as a ‘vega’ (urge or impulse) in Āyurveda, which when blocked creates diseases. However, as part of a tapas, vrata or upavāsa, a person may remain hungry or have meals in a prescribed manner for achieving some purpose while exercising due caution.
140 anavasthitatva Instability
The Yogasūtra describes several obstacles or antarāyas that occur on the path to samādhi. Anavasthitatva is one of these and refers to the mind’s innate instability: when the mind is placed on some object as part of dhāraṇā, it does not sit there for long periods of time. This is to be conquered through practice.
141 angalaghava Lightness of the body (see lāghava)
Lightness of the body (see lāghava)
142 angam Limb; part
Aṅga means ‘part’ or ‘limb’ as in the limbs of the body. However, it is often used metaphorically. The entire process of yoga which culminates in samādhi is divided into aṅgas which are usually eight in number. They are yama, niyama, āsana, prāṇāyāma, pratyāhāra, dhāraṇā, dhyāna and samādhi. Through the practice of each aṅga progressively, the yogī’s body and mind are readied for the next one. The previous steps are retained while the next steps are adopted and practiced.
143 angamejayatvam Shaking of limbs or parts of body
Various symptoms act as obstacles for the attainment of samādhi and are termed as vikṣepas. One of them is aṅgamejayatva, which means the ‘shaking of limbs’. This may arise out of a physical condition such as disease or cold or due to a mental state such as frustration, etc. Once these are eradicated, the yogī can attain samādhi.
144 aniketaḥ One who has no fixed residence.
It was common for monks to roam about from place to place without residing anywhere permanently. A yogī in that state has no attachment to any particular place. Such a person is called aniketa.
145 anila See vāyu
See vāyu
146 anima One of the aṣṭaiśvarya (a siddhi type)
Aṇimā is the ability to become as small as one wishes. It is a siddhi that is attained at samādhi and is one of the aṣṭaiśvarya (q.v.)
147 anistam Undesirable; unfavourable
Anything that is not wanted, not liked, undesirable, unwelcome or unfavourable is called ‘aniṣṭa’. This applies not only to objects but also to events, ideas, etc.
148 anitya Non-eternal; changing
Anything that is impermanent can be referred to as ‘anitya’. Specifically in philosophy, the world in its entirety is considered an illusion and the only real object is Brahman. In this context, anitya denotes the fact that the world is transient and all objects in it will cease to exist at some time or another.
149 aniyatavipaka [Actions] whose results occur at an indeterminate time
When actions are performed, the results that accrue can manifest themselves in a variety of ways. The threefold classification of these ways is: jāti - birth as a human being, animal etc. or into a certain family, etc.; āyuḥ - health and longevity; and bhoga - enjoyment or experiences. These results are called vipākas. If the time at which they will manifest is unknown, i.e. they may show up immediately, in the future, or in another birth, then such actions are called aniyatavipāka.
150 ankusa Hook (esp. an elephant driver’s)
Aṅkuśa refers to a hook made of metal connected to a stick, which is used by elephant drivers. It is specially used when the elephant misbehaves or runs amok, so as to bring it under control. Metaphorically, ‘aṅkuśa’ refers to anything that is used to bring another object under control. Yoga is the aṅkuśa for the senses.
151 annamaya Outer most layer/covering of the ātman that is nourished by food
Annamaya means ‘made from food’ – this refers to the fact that the physical body is developed and nourished through food. ‘Kośa’ meaning sheath or covering refers to the layers of the body described in the Taittirīya Upaniṣad and other texts. They are five in number and annamaya kośa is the first one of them.
152 anta or antar (variants: antaḥ) End; inside
When the word stem ends in ‘a’, i.e. ‘anta’, it signifies ‘end’. For example, ‘Vedānta’ means ‘the end of the Vedas’, or the sections that lie at the end of the Vedas i.e. the Upaniṣads. When the word stem ends in ‘r’, i.e as ‘antar’ or ‘antaḥ’, it signifies ‘inside’. For example, ‘antaḥstham’ means ‘located inside’.
153 antahkaranam Mind; mental capacity
The word ‘karaṇa’ denotes ‘instrument’ or ‘tool’, while ‘antaḥ’ denotes ‘interior’. Taken together, this refers to the instrument within a person which helps the person discern the information received from the sense organs and take decisions based on this. It is used as a blanket term to cover the different aspects of the mental capacity of a person including manas (mind), buddhi (intellect), etc. The exact divisions of antaḥkaraṇa and its roles vary across works.
154 antarangah Interior; inner part; mind
This word is composed of ‘antar’ meaning ‘inner’ and ‘aṅga’ meaning ‘part’ or ‘portion’. It can simply mean ‘interior’ or something pertaining to the interior. ‘Mind’ is one meaning. Another meaning is stated in the Yogasūtra. Here, aṅgas refer to the stages of yoga. Yama, Niyama, Āsana, Prāṇāyāma and Pratyāhāra are the bahiraṅgas (external aṅgas) while Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna and Samādhi are antaraṅgas, i.e. the internal aṅgas. Other meanings can also be deduced in a similar manner.
155 antaraya Obstacles; difficulties; impediments
Obstacles in the path of yoga are known as antarāya. Patañjali’s Yogasūtra uses the word to denote obstacles to reach samādhi, and defines nine kinds of antarāyas: 1. vyādhi (disease) 2. sty¡na (languor) 3. sa®¾aya (doubt) 4. pram¡da (negligence) 5. ¡lasya (laziness) 6. avirati (worldly-mindedness) 7. bhr¡nti-dar¾ana (mistaken notions) 8. alabdha-bhÀmikatva (not reaching the state of samādhi) 9. anavasthitatva (instability) The translations given above are approximate; the exact meanings of these words are given in the respective places.
156 antardhana Disappearance
Disappearance (especially if it is sudden) of an object is called antardhāna. It is considered as a siddhi and detailed in various texts including the Yogasūtras. The yogī performs saṃyama on the light reflected on the body (kāyarūpa). The light then no longer reaches the eyes of the perceiver and the yogī becomes invisible.
157 antardhauti A particular type of dhauti.
Haṭhayoga describes six procedures together called ṣaṭkarma meant to remove kapha from the body and prepare the body for the practices delineated in Haṭha yoga. One of these is dhauti, and a type of dhauti is antardhauti. There are four types of antardhauti which are meant to cleanse the body internally. They are: Vātasāra (purification using wind) Vārisāra (purification using water) Vahnisāra (purification through fire) Bahiṣkṛta (expulsion)
158 antardrstih Seeing inward; diverting senses towards Ātman
The act of diverting attention towards Ātman is called antardṛṣṭi. The meaning is metaphorical. The senses being occupied “outside” refers to the fact that they are engaged in the world of objects, while turning them “inside” refers to the fact that the senses are stopped from straying away into the objects and brought into one’s own control.
159 antariksanam See antardṛṣṭi
See antardṛṣṭi
160 antarlaksyam Looking inwards; staying in dhyāna
Antarlakṣya is composed of ‘antar’ meaning ‘inward’ or ‘inner’ and ‘lakṣya’ meaning ‘goal’ or ‘target’. In this sense, it refers to the state of dhyāna where the person focusses on the “inside”, that is to say, away from the objects outside (See antardṛṣṭi). However, unlike the word antardṛṣṭi, antarlakṣya can also be used to say that the person while being focused on the “inner” (Ātman) is engaged in the “outside” world (the world of objects). This is an important facet of the Śāmbhavī Mudrā. According to Maṇḍalabrāhmaṇopaniṣad, antarlakṣya is one of the three kinds of Tāraka-lakṣyas (objects of concentration in Tāraka-yoga), the other two being Bāhya (external) and Madhya (neither inside the Yogin nor far from him).
161 anuh Small; atomic
An object that is exceedingly small, usually smaller than the limit of visibility is aṇu. The compound paramāṇu (meaning ‘most small’) is used in philosophy to denote the smallest units of the five classical elements, which are in turn the building blocks of the material world, similar to how atoms are the smallest and indivisible representations of their respective elements in modern science. Detailed treatment of this concept is available in the Vaiśeṣika philosophy texts. Alone, the word aṇu can be used to denote anything that is exceedingly small.
162 anulomaviloma A particular type of Pr¡³¡y¡ma.
There are several types of prāṇāyāma. In this type, one closes the right nostril with the thumb and the left nostril with the little finger and ring finger. The index and middle fingers are not used. When inhalation (pūraka) is complete, both nostrils must be closed. After holding for some time (kumbhaka), air is released through the other nostril. This is practiced alternatively.
163 anumana Inference (one of the three pramāṇas accepted in Yoga)
Anumāna or inference is one of the three pramāṇas (means of obtaining correct knowledge) recognized in Yoga, the other two being pratyakṣa (perception through senses) and āgama (verbal testimony). Pratyakṣa involves seeing or perceiving an object directly. Āgama is information received from a credible source. Anumāna involves inferring something that is not perceived based on what is perceived. For example, when seeing a mountain from afar, one might observe smoke emanating from a forest there. Smoke always arises from a fire, however small that fire may be. Hence, without actually seeing a fire, it is possible to say that there is fire on the mountain. This is an example of anumāna.
164 anupalabdhi Non-availability
Objects exist in a positive or negative relation to their surroundings – when the object is present, it is in a positive relation and when it is not present, it is in a negative relation. Positive relations are grasped by the senses directly. One can indirectly infer negative relations through other methods but direct knowledge of the absence of an object requires a specific mechanism of understanding in the mind. This is called anupalabdhi. Different schools of philosophy discuss different means of attaining knowledge called pramāṇas. Anupalabdhi is one pramāṇa which is treated separately by some schools of philosophy such as Advaita Vedānta. In Sāṅkhya and Yoga, there are only three pramāṇas: pratyakṣa (perception through senses), anumāna (inference) and āgama (verbal testimony). Anupalabdhi features as part of anumāna. The general (non-technical) meaning of anulabdhi is non-availability of some object..
165 anusandhana Meditation; contemplation
Anusandhāna refers to dhyāna performed on two particular kinds of objects. Rūpānusandhāna is that which is performed on an image (rūpa), while nādānusandhāna refers to that which is performed on a sound (nāda).
166 anusasanam Command; instruction; treatment [of a subject]
The word anu¾¡sana can means a command, ruling, regulation or statute. However, an extended meaning is treatment as in treatment of a subject. The first SÀtra of the Yogasūtra is ‘atha yogānuśāsanam’ where Patañjali declares that the contents of his book will treat the subject of yoga.
167 anusravika Heard information; oral tradition; contained in Vedas
Knowledge which is passed through oral tradition, especially the Vedas, is called ānuśravika. Information that is heard from another source may also be called ānuśravika.
168 ap Water
Indian knowledge systems are founded on a system of five elements called the pañcabhūta. These are: pṛthivī (earth), ap (water), tejas (fire), vāyu (air) and ākāśa (ether). The Indian classical elements however are not interpreted in the same way as the current Western elements used in science. They represent a model where each element is ascribed certain properties and any object having the same property is deemed to have more of that element. For example, the property of fire is to change one thing to another (pariṇāma). This is undertaken by the human body hence a ‘fire’ is deemed to exist there even though there is no real fire. The role assigned to water is that of binding the other elements together. Further under this model, elements are superimposed upon one another in various ways, often depending on the requirements in each subject. A commonly encountered idea is that of pañcīkaraṇa. Each element is also associated with a sensory perception: water is associated with taste. The Waters (in plural) are considered divinites, featuring in several places in the Vedas.
169 apaisunam Not slandering
Piśuna carries connotations of ‘slander’, ‘finding fault’, ‘backbiting’ or ‘betraying’. It is also used when a person specifically creates fights between two people by telling both of them lies. A person who is not a piśuna, or the quality of not being piśuna is apaiśuna. It is one of the Daiv§sampat (positive qualities) mentioned in the Bhagavadgītā.
170 apakva Unripe; uncooked; not ready
Pakva is something that is unripe, uncooked, or in general not ready for something. Apakva is the opposite. In certain yoga texts, apakva refers to the fact that a person had not reached far in yoga. He is still engaged in worldly matters and needs to progress more. A person who is pakva or paripakva has attained success in yoga and with some practice, becomes one with Brahman.
171 apana A type of vāyu; one of the five principal vāyus; ventris crepitus; inhalation
Apāna has two primary meanings. In the first case, it is one of the five types of vāyus that function within the body. It is the lowermost of these and is located in the anus. It controls excretion. This meaning is used when describing the human body as a whole where each vāyu has its own special role. However, out of all vāyus, prāṇa and apāna are pre-eminent. Prāṇa represents the life force or breath, which is crucial for life. In general, vāyu has a tendency to move upwards, a situation which can cause several difficulties ranging from vomiting and hiccups to breathing difficulties and cough. Apāna is the only vāyu which successfully holds the others vāyus downwards given that it is the lowest in location. This makes it the most important among the other vāyus. Sometimes only prāṇa and apāna may be referred because of their importance. In the second meaning, apāna refers to inhalation while prāṇa refers to exhalation. This meaning is used prominently in manuals of prāṇāyāma.
172 aparantajnanam Knowledge of the time of death
Aparānta refers to death and jñāna to knowledge. Together, they refer to knowledge of the moment of death. This is a kind of siddhi that one gets after doing saṃyama on sopakrama and nirupakrama karmas, or on ariṣṭas (omens of death).
173 aparidrsta Not seen
The properties of the mind can be split into two, paridṛṣṭa (visible) and aparidṛṣṭa (invisible). That which can be perceived through cognition is paridṛṣṭa while apadṛṣṭa is that which is in the nature of the Substance. The latter is further divided into seven kinds: (1) nirodha (restraint) (2) dharma (characteristic / virtue) (3) saṃskāra (impressions) (4) pariṇāma (change) (5) jīvana (life) (6) ceṣṭā (volition) (7) śakti (power / capability) These properties of the mind cannot be seen.
174 aparigraha Not receiving alms; non-possession
Aparigraha is listed as a yama in several places including the Yogasūtras. In the simplest terms, parigraha is taking and aparigraha is not taking. The meaning is extended to include ‘taking of alms’ or ‘possessing’. The lack of these constitutes aparigraha. Further interpretations are made by individual authors based on the meaning given to ‘parigraha’.
175 aparinamitvam Not being conducive to change; quality of being unchanging
Pariṇāma refers to change, as in changing from one form or one quality to another. An object or person that undergoes pariṇāma is pariṇāmī. The quality of such an object or person is pariṇāmitva, i.e. quality of being something that undergoes change. The opposite of this is apariṇāmitva. This is frequently ascribed to Puruṣa, which is unchanging according to the philosophical systems.
176 apathya Food (or actions) against prescription or injunction
This is a very commonly used term in Āyurveda and is used in other subject matters, including Yoga in the same sense. Any food or action that goes against medical prescription is termed as ‘apathya’. Such an action or food causes new diseases or aggravates existing ones. The opposite is pathya, which is any action or food that is recommended since it reduces diseases or promotes good health in the individual. The same meaning is carried over to other subjects where medical prescriptions are replaced by the subject-specific injunctions pertaining to food and activity (especially the former).
177 apavada Exception
‘Apavāda’ is juxtaposed with ‘utsarga’. The latter refers to a general overarching rule that applies to multiple cases, while the former refers to exceptional cases that apply to a smaller set.
178 apavarga See mokṣa
See mokṣa
179 aprabuddha Not realised (does not have knowledge of Brahman); unawakened (w.r.t. kuṇḍalinī)
‘Buddha’ and ‘prabuddha’ literally mean ‘awoken’. The opposite is ‘aprabuddha’ meaning not awoken. It may refer to those who have not understood the nature of ātman. Alternatively, when referring to the kuṇḍalinī, it may refer to the fact that the kuṇḍalinī has not been awakened.
180 aprakasah Absence of light; darkness
Prakāśa refers to ‘light’ while ‘aprakāśa’ refers to its absence. It can also be used to denote absence of perception in general, as in case of hidden objects, or that of understanding, due to inability to comprehend something.
181 aprameya Immesurable; unascertainable
‘Pramā’ refers to correct knowledge, that has been verified using the pramāṇas (means for acquiring knowledge). ‘Prameya’ refers to objects that can be ascertained in this manner. ‘Aprameya’ is that which cannot be ascertained, i.e. ‘unascertainable’. The literal meaning is ‘immeasurable’.
182 apratisaṅkrama That which is not reabsorbed or dissolved
The cosmology views given elaborately in the Purāṇas and mentioned in other literary forms, discuss the world as going through various cycles of creation and destruction. The underlying principle, i.e. puruṣa or ātman does not change in any of these cycles; only its manifestations are repeatedly changed. Pratisaṅkrama refers to the dissolution of the manifested forms into the original puruṣa. Apratisaṅkrama is that which does not have pratisaṅkrama, i.e. puruṣa itself.
183 apratistham Not fixed; lacking basis; unstable
This word is used specifically in the context of the mind. Yoga requires the mind to be stable; this happens when it is established on proper ideas. When the mind is not fixed, yoga cannot be achieved. It is one of the Āsurī sampad mentioned in the Bhagavadgītā.
184 aprayojaka Not causing; not instigating
The word ‘prayojaka’ means ‘a cause’ and ‘aprayojaka’ refers to that which is not a cause.
185 aptavacanam Words of a trustworthy person
Āptavacana is the definition of āgama in the context of ‘testimony’ (not other meanings). ‘Āpta’ is a trustworthy person who has the specified qualities and ‘vacana’ is ‘speech’. (see āgama).
186 apunyam See pāpa
See pāpa
187 arambhah Beginning; commencement; undertaking
Ārambha is the start of new activities or the act of undertaking them. Bhagavadgītā defines the wish to commence activies as one of the qualities that arises in a person by virtue of rajas (rajoguṇa). Ārambha is also the name given to the first state in all yogic practices (ārambha, ghaṭa, paricaya and niṣpatti). This happens when prāṇa pierces the Brahmagranthi.
188 Àrdhva Upwards; elevated; erect; upright; after (this)
Ūrdhva means ‘upwards’ or ‘above’ It can also carry the connotation of ‘erect’ or ‘upright’. Another meaning is ‘after’ something (in time). It is commonly used when instructing āsanas and as a conjunction.
189 ÀrdhvamÀla That which has its roots upwards.
Ūrdhvamūla refers to something which has its roots upwards. This appears as a metaphor for a tree with its roots upwards and branches downwards, which is given in the Bhagavadgītā and the Upaniṣads (see adhaśśākha for details).
190 arista Evil omen; imminent death; signs of terminal diseases; misfortune
Ariṣṭa refers to signs of imminent death. These may be medical (symptoms), astrological (omens) or otherwise. Misfortune is a generalization of this meaning. It is mentioned in the context of siddhis that through saṃyama on karmas or ariṣṭas, time or nature of death can be ascertained.
191 arjavam Straight-forwardness; rectitude of conduct; uprightness; honesty
Ārjava comes from the word ṛju meaning ‘straight’. It is one of the Daivī sampad listed in the Bhagavadgītā. It is also listed as one of the yamas in several places.
192 arka Sun (luminary); Sun (deity); crown flower tree (Calotropis gigantea)
Arka is a synonym for sun (see sūrya). It can also represent the crown flower tree (Calotropis gigantea).
193 artah Afflicted; suffering; ill; distressed
Any person who is affected or suffering from an issue such as disease, calamity, misfortune, etc. can be called ārta. It is stated in the Bhagavadgītā that four kinds of people undertake worship: ārta (the distressed), arthārthī (the seeker of wealth), jijñāsu (the seeker of knowledge), and jñānī (the knower).
194 artha Meaning; object; purpose; wealth
‘Artha’ refers to ‘meaning’, as in the meaning of a word or sentence. The sense objects, i.e. objects perceived by the sense organs are called indriyārtha, which is sometimes shortened to artha. ‘Artha’ can also mean ‘purpose’, i.e. the purpose for doing something. When in compounds, it is often this meaning that is used, e.g. vidyārthī meaning ‘wishing for learning’ is properly broken as ‘he whose purpose in leaning’. The general goals of people are called puruṣārtha, which are their purposes for undertaking an action. There are four puruṣārthas: 1. Dharma: (righteousness) doing something because it is correct or acts in accordance with one’s values 2. Artha: (wealth) doing something for wealth (money, assets, land, etc.), fame or luxury. 3. Kāma: (pleasure) doing something because it interests the senses (good to hear, good to taste, etc.) 4. Mokṣa: (liberation) doing something for mokṣa
195 arthārthī Wishing wealth (artha)
The multitude of meanings ascribed to ‘artha’ (q.v.) creates words such as ‘arthārthī’. The first ‘artha’ refers to wealth, one of the four puruṣārthas. The second one refers to ‘purpose’. Together, arthārthī refers to someone whose purpose is wealth, i.e. someone who wishes for wealth. Bhagavadgītā notes four kinds of worshippers, one of which is the arthārthī, the other three being ārta (distressed), jijñāsu (interested in knowing) and jñānī (knower).
196 arundhati Arundhatī (personality), Arundhatī (star); kuṇḍalinī
Arundhatī is the wife of Sage Vasiṣṭha in stories. Vasiṣṭha, in astronomy, denotes the star Mizar and the star Alcor which is next to it is Arundhatī (part of the Ursa Major constellation). Arundhatī is also a synonym of kuṇḍalinī.
197 aruruksuh Wishing to climb; aspiring for heights
A yogī who wishes for heights, i.e. successes, in yoga should resort to karmayoga. Once the person has attained success, he must then switch over to processes that bring śama (control over sense organs). This is the opinion of Bhagavadgītā (6.3).
198 asakta Disinterested; not attached
‘Sakta’ refers to a person who is attached to something. In the context of philosophy, this is attachment to worldly matters. ‘Asakta’ is the opposite, i.e. a person who is not attached. Attachment may be in the form of attachment to people (family, friends, etc.), to objects (house, etc.) or to the fruits of one’s actions (wishing for heaven, etc.)
199 asamprajnatah A particular type of sam¡dhi
The most basic classification of the states of samādhi divides samādhi into two types: sampraj²¡ta and asampraj²¡ta. Once the mind becomes one-pointed through practice of yoga, the samādhi state that it reaches is called samprajñāta. While most mental movements (cittavṛttis) have ceased, four states called vitarka, vicāra, ānanda and asmitā remain. When these too cease, the mind comes to a standstill. This samādhi is called asamprajñāta. Here, only the saṃskāras remain.
200 asampramoṣaḥ Non-disappearance; non-loss
‘Pramoṣa’ and ‘sampramoṣa’ refer to ‘disappearance’ or ‘loss’. Asampramoṣa is the lack of this. This word is used when defining smṛti (memory) in the Yogasūtra, as being the “asampramoṣa of mental impressions (that came from perception)”.
201 asamsargah Non-mixing; non-connection; staying away from something
‘Saṃsarga’ refers to mixing or interacting with something (esp. between people). Asaṃsarga refers to the lack of this, i.e. staying away from or maintaining distance with other people. The Yogasūtras state that as a person becomes more entrenched in physical and mental cleanliness (śauca), they wish to cover their own body and avoid close contact with others (i.e. asaṃsarga).
202 āsanam Seat; sitting; posture (the third aṅga in yoga)
Āsana refers to the act of sitting or to ‘seat’ (on which one sits). Postures in which one sits are also called āsana. Āsana is the third out of the eight aṅgas of yoga. The definition provided in the Yogasūtra (2.46) is that an āsana is that posture which is comfortable to hold for a long time. Bhagavadgītā (6.13) additionally says that the body, neck and head should be upright. Several āsanas are prescribed across texts, especially in texts pertaining to Haṭhayoga. Some āsanas commonly referred to are padmāsana (lotus pose), svastikāsana (cross pose) and bhadrāsana (auspicious pose). After yama and niyama which are general lifestyle guidelines, āsana is the first step where the person sits down and does something. Hence, it is the basis of the steps that follow suit.
203 asat Non-existing; bad
‘Sat’ has two meanings: ‘existing’ or ‘good’. ‘Asat’ is the opposite and has connotations of ‘non-existing’ (not real) or ‘bad’. The former meanings are used the most in philosophy. In Vedānta, sat is applied to Brahman, a reference to the idea that only Brahman exists and other objects are only its manifestations.
204 asaya Resting-place; asylum; abode; receptacle; intention; stock of karmas
Two major categories of meaning are found in general literature: one is ‘abode’, ‘asylum’ or ‘receptacle’, the second is ‘intention’. In the context of Yoga, it is shortening of karmāśaya (q.v.).
205 asmita Ego (as one of the five kleśas); a particular state in samādhi
Asmitā which generally means ‘ego’ or ‘pride’ is used in two contexts in yoga. Firstly, it is one of the five kleśas (misconceptions) that arise from avidyā. Puruṣa is the perceiver and the mind is the capacity of perceiving (that which facilitates perception). Considering these two to be the same is defined as asmitā. When puruṣa is identified with the mind, the puruṣa experiences whatever the mind feels. When, through right knowledge, these two are segregated, asmitā ceases to exist and kaivalya (mokṣa) occurs. In the second meaning, asmitā is one of the states that occurs in samādhi. When samprajñāta samādhi occurs, four states, viz. vitarka, vicāra, ānanda and asmitā occur. Asmitā refers to the partial understanding of the nature of ātman. Through practice, each of the four states are dropped in order. In asamprajñāta samādhi, which follows, ātman is fully understood.
206 asphuranam Absence of throbbing
Sphuraṇa is a symptom that involves throbbing, trembling or shaking of limbs or parts of the body. It is experienced when certain yogic practices are undertaken. Asphuraṇa is the absence of such trembling that is achieved through regular practice.
207 asraya Substratum; asylum; refuge; support (on which one depends)
The place at which one object rests and depends is called its āśraya. It is commonly used when referring to the place where one part is located in the larger whole, for example an organ located in a part of the body, since the smaller part is dependent on the larger whole. ‘Substratum’ is also a possible translation. With respect to people, āśraya refers to a person’s refuge, support or asylum, on which the person depends especially when faced with difficulty but also otherwise.
208 astaisvarya A set of eight particular siddhis
The siddhis denoted by ‘aṣṭaiśvarya’ are attained once the person reaches samādhi and represent siddhis that are possessed by divine beings. They are: 1. A³im¡ (becoming small) 2. Mahim¡ (being worship-worthy) 3. Laghim¡ (swiftness) 4. Pr¡pti (getting anything wished for) 5. Pr¡k¡mya (becomes all-pervading) 6. Kāmāvasayitva (stationing oneself wherever one wishes) 7. Ī¾itva (becoming god-like) 8. Va¾itva (ability to control others) This list is taken from Mārkaṇḍeya Purāṇa (40.29-33). The exact meanings represented by these siddhis as well as the list may vary from text to text.
209 astakumbhakah Eight types of Kumbhaka (q.v.)
Eight types of Kumbhaka (q.v.)
210 asteya Non-stealing; refraining from theft
‘Asteya’ refers to ‘refraining from theft’. It is one of yamas (basic guidelines) stated across nearly all texts and thus forms a central part of yoga. The practice of asteya involves not taking anything that is not one’s own. It is stated in the Yogasūtra and Vyāsabhāṣya that a person who is firmly entrenched in asteya gets gems from all directions. This is to say that the honesty of the person is appreciated by all people who in turn are happy to associate with the person, helping him earn even the best gems.
211 astikyam Belief (in Vedas, in God, in another world, in saṃsāra, etc.); piety
Āstikya derives from āstika (believer) which in turn comes from asti (‘there is’). It is used in a wide variety of contexts to denote belief in objects or ideas that are not directly observable. These include saṃsāra (rebirth), Vedas (i.e. their truthfulness or applicability), another world (svarga, naraka, etc.) and God. ‘Belief in God’ is rarely used as a meaning in comparison to belief in Vedas or other worlds. For example, philosophical schools are divided into two categories, āstika and nāstika, depending on whether they accept the contents of Vedas as authoritative or not, regardless of their theist stance.
212 asubham Inauspicious.
‘Śubha’ refers to something that is auspicious, leads to welfare or brings desirable results. Aśubha is the opposite of this. In some cases it may refer to puṇya and pāpa. In the context of yoga, this is often used in the context of thoughts, since much of the goal of yoga revolves around mental control (the result here being mokṣa).
213 asucih Impure; unclean (internal or external)
Śuci has connotations of ‘clean’ and ‘pure’ (free from filth or impurity). Aśuci refers to objects that are unclean (i.e. unhygienic) or impure (having impurities). Being śuci is an important quality for yoga.
214 asuddhih Impurity; lack of hygiene
Śuddhi refers to ‘purity’ or ‘cleanliness’ and ‘aśuddhi’ to ‘impurity’ or ‘dirt’. This may be mental or physical. On a physical level, śuddhi denotes cleanliness w.r.t. people and cleanliness or purity w.r.t. objects or surroundings. On a mental level, it refers to having only desirable thoughts or those that guide a person towards mokṣa (in case of yoga). Aśuddhi is the opposite of this. Yoga is a method of removing mental impurities.
215 asuklakrsnam Neither white nor black
White (śukla) refers to actions that create puṇya while black (kṛṣṇa) refers to actions that create pāpa. Black-white (śuklakṛṣṇa) are those actions that contain tinges of both. Actions which are neither black nor white are those performed by yogīs in their last life before they attain mokṣa. These actions cannot be black since the yogī does not harm others (as is the rule in yoga). They cannot be white since the yogī has given up on the fruits of those actions (through īśvarapraṇidhāna). Actions which are neither white nor black do not bind the yogī and ensure mokṣa.
216 asunyam Non-zero; non-empty
‘Śūnya’ refers to ‘void’, ‘zero’ or ‘empty’. Aśūnya refers to the opposite, i.e. not empty or non-void. Both these words are used in certain yoga texts to specify states in dhyāna.
217 asvada Relishing; enjoying (metaphorical); higher taste
The general meaning of āsvāda is ‘relishing’, i.e. eating with enjoyment, or ‘enjoying’ some object in a metaphorical sense. In the context of yoga, it is the name of a particular siddhi, where the tongue is no longer limited by its natural constraints and can taste whatever the yogī wishes. This is often translated as ‘higher taste’.
218 asvara Soundless
The experience of the Brahman is said to have two stages. In the first, the experience is associated with the sound Om. In the second, the experience is devoid of association with any sound including that of Om. This second state is called asvara.
219 asvatthah Sacred fig tree (Aśvattha)
Aśvattha is the name given to the sacred fig tree (Ficus religiosa). The tree has great religious and symbolic significance in Indian culture. Given its long life and ability to sprout offshoots, it is considered to be imperishable and is a symbol of long life. It is a tree of choice for yogīs or ascetics who meditate and was the tree under which Buddha attained enlightenment. In Upaniṣads, in the Bhagavadgītā and Purāṇas, the tree is a metaphor for saṃsāra. The tree here is upside-down with its roots which signify Prakṛti, turned upwards and shoots, which signify the objects, located below.
220 asvi Twin gods (physicians of the heavens)
Aśvin is the name given to twin gods who are the physicians of the heavens, which are under Indra’s purview. In the context of yoga, they are the presiding deities of specific nāḍīs depending on the system of nāḍīs used by the author.
221 asvini Aśvinī (nakṣatra); aśvinī (mudrā)
Aśvinī is the first nakṣatra in the list of nakṣatras corresponding to the Head of Aries (including stars β and γ Arietis). It is also the name of the given to a mudrā. In it, the practitioner assumes the Paścimatānāsana. Pulling the intestines downwards, he should contract and relax the anal sphincter muscles alternatively. This is used to remove problems in the anal region and to pull prāṇa into Suṣumnā.
222 atapaska One who is devoid of tapas
‘Tapas’ is one of the niyamas prescribed by most texts in Yoga including the YogasÀtras. It is translated as ‘penance’ but may include any difficult task undertaken for a particular purpose or for religious merit. A person who does not regularly engage in tapas is atapaska. Being a niyama, tapas is a central facet of yoga and a necessary part of it. Because of this, one finds references such as Lord K¸½³a in the Bhagavadg§t¡ advising Arjuna not to disclose the tenets of the Bhagavadg§t¡ to a person who is atapaska.
223 atha Now; now onwards; [marker of start]
Atha which means ‘now’ or ‘now onwards’, is commonly used to denote commencement of a topic or book. It is also considered auspicious and can be used as a maṅgalācaraṇa (the auspicious first verse or sentence that begins the book). The Yogasūtra of Patañjali also begins with the word ‘atha’.
224 atijagara Sleeping less; staying awake
Proper health is essential to practice of yoga. Health relies on balanced application of sleep, food, exercise and other factors. Excess sleep and reduced sleep (excess waking) are both detrimental to health in the long term and thus inconducive to yoga. It is listed in several texts including Bhagavadgītā in this manner.
225 atindriyah Beyond the grasp of the sense organs.
Objects which are perceivable are called ‘indriyagrāhya’ or ‘indriyagocara’. Those which are not perceivable are called ‘atīndriya’. For example, in Sāṅkhya philosophy, Prakṛti is beyond the grasp of the sense organs and hence is referred to as ‘atīndriya’. Similarly, ātman (or puruṣa), the manas (mind) and all such other entities can also be referred to as ‘atīndriya’.
226 atiprasangah Excess attachment; Overarching rule or definition;
There are two chief meanings of the word ‘atiprasaṅga’. On the one hand, it refers to excess attachment to sense objects from ‘prasaṅga’ meaning attachment and the prefix ‘ati-‘ denoting excessiveness. On the other hand, ‘prasaṅga’ may also refer to adherence as in adherence to a rule. When the definition of an object as stated by a rule includes not only the object but also other objects, the definition has become overarching and must be narrowed. This case is called ‘atiprasaṅga’ or more commonly ‘ativyāpti’. Any rule which applies to more people or more objects than intended is also an example of atiprasaṅga.
227 atisunyam See viśuddha
See viśuddha
228 atisvapna Over-sleeping
Proper health is essential to practice of yoga. Heath relies on balanced application of sleep, food, exercise and other factors. Excess sleep and reduced sleep (excess waking) are both detrimental to health in the long term and thus inconducive to yoga. It is listed in several texts including Bhagavadgītā in this manner.
229 atita Past; gone beyond
The word atīta denotes that which is past or gone beyond a particular entity. After reaching a certain level in yoga, the yogī is able to know the past including the happenings of past lives. This is a kind of siddhi. It also refers to Brahman which is beyond the grasp of the mind or intellect.
230 ativabhojanam Overeating
Given that proper health is crucial to the practice of yoga, a yogī must always eat proper food in adequate quantity, i.e. neither too much nor too little. This is spelt out in the Bhagavadgītā (6.17) as ‘yuktāhāravihārasya’ meaning proper food and exercise. Several books also include adequate food (mitāhāra or mitabhojana) as one of the yamas or niyamas.
231 atma Self; soul; Brahman
The most general meaning of ‘ātman’ is to refer to oneself, e.g. ātmaprīti ‘pleasing oneself’ or ātmaja ‘born from oneself’ (i.e. one’s children). The meaning of ‘self’ is sometimes extended to ‘existence’. In the context of philosophy, there is an interest in finding who this “self” is. It is usual across philosophy to refer to a separate entity beyond the mind or intellect, which may be translated as ‘soul’. This is referred to as ātman. This ātman is further considered to be singular and all-pervading and known as ‘Paramātman’ (the Supreme Ātman) or Brahman. The philosophical aspects of the concept are covered under the word ‘puruṣa’ (q.v.).
232 ātmabhāvabhāvanā Questions about oneself (in the past, present or future across lives)
Bhāvana (investigation) on the bhāva (existence) of ātman (self) is ātmabhāvabhāvanā. Questions about previous lives such as ‘Who was I?’ or ‘How was I?’, questions about the present such as ‘What is it?’ or ‘How is it?’ and questions about the future lives such as ‘What will we become?’ or ‘How will we become?’ exist in any person who has a basic understanding of philosophy. This is called ātmabhāvabhāvanā. For a person who sees the Higher Truth, these questions cease to occur since the focus is on Brahman and not the matters of the world.
233 atmadarsanam Vision of the Ātman; understanding Ātman
Ātmadarśana is composed of ātman meaning ‘self’ and darśana meaning ‘seeing’. The seeing is metaphorical since it is not possible to see the ātman with the eyes and translates to ‘understanding’ or ‘knowing’. Knowledge of ātman liberates a person from saṃsāra. Understanding the nature of ātman is the final goal of yoga and all other philosophies.
234 atmadhyanam Dhyāna on ātman.
The term ‘Ātmadhyāna’ composed of ātman meaning Brahman and dhyāna meaning the practice of meditation or contemplation (see dhyāna for exact translation). Self and Brahman are treated as the same in philosophical schools. Meditating or contemplating on the formless Brahman is called ātmadhyāna.
235 atmadhyayi One who does dhyāna on ātman.
A person who practices ātmadhyāna is called ātmadhyāyī (refer ātmadhyāna).
236 atmakhyatih Identifying as ātman (esp. something that is not ātman)
It is stated in several places across Sāṅkhya and Yoga that puruṣa (or ātman) is different from the mind, since the mind is only an instrument that reacts to the sensory impulses that it receives. Regarding the mind to be puruṣa, i.e. the same as puruṣa, is asmitā, one of the key causes of bondage to saṃsāra. The act of calling something as ātman is ātmakhyāti.
237 atmaramah Rejoicing in oneself (or Brahman)
A person who has ātmarati (q.v.)
238 atmaratih Delighting in only oneself
A person who is satisfied with one’s own self and does not seek enjoyment elsewhere is called ‘ātmarati’. Such a person has vairāgya (dispassion in worldly matters).
239 atmasi Self-eater; eating one’s kin (name of a type of fish); wishing for life
There are two ways to break the word: ātman (self) + āśin (eating) and ātman (self) + āśīḥ (wish). The first meaning is self-eater (ātmāśin), a name given to a kind of fish, and is not used in yoga. The second meaning is wishing for oneself, i.e. for one’s own life. This is usually called Abhiniveśa (q.v.).
240 atmata Nature; form; appearance; consideration
‘Ātmatā’ is composed of ‘ātman’ meaning self and the suffix –tā indicating quality. In the Yogasūtras, the meaning is ‘its own quality’, i.e. ‘nature’ or ‘form’ (synonym of svarūpa). In other places, the meaning can be deduced from the etymology and the meaning of ātman (q.v.).
241 atmavinigraha Self-restraint
Ātmavinigraha refers to imposing restraint upon oneself. Controlling oneself in actions, words and thoughts is a crucial part of yoga as seen in the yamas and niyamas, and a necessary condition to achieve anything productive in worldly life as well. It is mentioned in the Bhagavadgītā as a kind of mental penance.
242 atmavisuddhih Purification of self.
The practices of yoga are devoted towards bringing betterment for oneself. Through these, the mind is brought under control and any negative aspects that it may have are eliminated or successfully restrained. This is represented by the metaphor of “purification” where these negative aspects are branded as impurities and their elimination is an act of purification. This word is specifically used in the Bhagavadgītā (6.12) where the entire process of yoga is deemed to be for purifying oneself.
243 atyahara See atīvabhojana
See atīvabhojana
244 avadhuta A particular type of ascetic
One finds mention of different sects or kinds of ascetics across texts, such as Ha®sa, Paramaha®sa, Ku¿§caka, BahÀdaka, Tridaṇḍī, etc. Avadhūta is one such kind of ascetic, who has renounced all worldly connections and is one with Brahman. The exact details of the definition depend on the text.
245 avakāśa Place; space; room; occasion; aperture
Avakāśa can be used to denote ‘place’ or ‘space’, i.e. space for something or room for something. It can also mean ‘opportunity’ or ‘occasion’, or ‘aperture’. The concept of avakāśa is connected to the concept of ākāśa since both have meanings that represent empty space. However, there is a difference in the connotations, in that ākāśa is all-pervading and is the space taken up by objects, while avakāśa represents empty space.
246 avaranam Covering; enclosing; enclosure; obstruction
Āvaraṇa means ‘covering’ and is often used in the sense of a veil. Āvaraṇa and words related to it (ā-vṛ, āvṛta, etc.) are used in a metaphorical sense to describe the separation of jīva from Brahman. Even though both these are the same, the jīva is not able recognise this. Here, the jīva is said to be covered or enclosed by something that prevents it from recognising this fact. Bhagavadgītā (3.38) gives three examples to illustrate this covering: just as fire is covered by smoke, just as a mirror is covered by dirt and just as a foetus is covered by the womb. Each of these coverings are progressively more difficult to eliminate, and refer to the difficulties faced by different persons.
247 avastha State; condition
A condition characterized by temporal change (rather than spatial change) is called avasthā. For example, mud is first in pi³¢a-avasthā (state of lumps, piṇḍa meaning lump) and then when baked becomes a pot, attaining ghaṭa-avasthā (ghaṭa meaning pot). A human being, after birth is in Balya-avasth¡ (childhood), then attains Yauvana-avasth¡ (youth), and then V¡rdhakya-avasth¡ (old age). These stages are known by the word ‘avasth¡’. Four state of consciousness are specified, viz. j¡grat (waking), svapna (dreaming in sleep), su½upti (deep sleep) and tur§ya (the fourth, being meditative). In a similar manner, any state or condition may be called avasthā.
248 avayava See aṅga
See aṅga
249 avidya Ignorance; nescience; lack of knowledge
In general terms, vidyā refers to knowledge or learning and avidyā to the lack of it. However, there is a technical meaning to it. The definition of avidyā in Yoga is provided in the Yogasūtra (2.5) as “Considering the impermanent, impure, sorrow-filled and non-puruṣa, to be the permanent, pure, joy-giving and puruṣa” (See puruṣa). This is not the lack of something but an independent object in its own right (as explained in Vyāsabhāṣya for the same sūtra). Amitra (a- prefix – not, mitra – friend) denotes not the lack of friends but the opposite of friend, i.e. enemy. Agoṣpada (go – cow, pada – foot) denotes not the lack of a cow’s footprints nor a single footprint but the name of a country. In the same way, avidyā is neither true knowledge (pramāṇa) nor its absence but something, the cognition of which is opposed to proper knowledge. Avidyā features as one of the kleśas, which need to be overcome for progress in yoga. Even with adequate self-control, it is not possible to control these kleśas in day-to-day life. However, when the yogī’s mind is in samādhi, the seeds of these kleśas, which are in his mind and could have sprouted again when they got the chance, are burnt (permanently destroyed and incapable of germinating again). The yogī then does not take rebirth.
250 avikrtih Not a modified form; original form
Prakṛti (in general terms) refers to the original state of affairs while vikṛti refers to a modification or mutation of the prakṛti. For example, if milk is prakṛti, then curd is vikṛti. If curd is prakṛti then the butter and buttermilk churned out of it are vikṛti. Specifically in Sāṅkhya philosophy, Prakṛti refers to the original tattva from which all others emanate. In this context, it may be called avikṛti since it is not a modified form of any other object.
251 aviparyaya Non-misconception; correct knowledge; non-opposite; similar
The technical meaning of ‘viparyaya’ in the context of yoga is ‘false notion’ or ‘misconception’. That which is not viparyaya is aviparyaya, i.e. correct knowledge. The general meaning of viparyaya is ‘opposite’. In that context, aviparyaya means ‘similar’.
252 aviplava Undisturbed; undiluted; without vacillation; uninterrupted
This word is used in the context of viveka-khyāti in the Yogasūtras to refer to the fact that viveka-khyāti, in its undiluted state breaks the association of puruṣa with saṃsāra.
253 avirati Lack of non-attachment; attachment to sense objects
This is one of the nine antarāyas (impediments) that stop a person from reaching the state of samādhi. Vairāgya, i.e. dispassion or non-attachment, is a necessary requirement for progress in yoga.
254 avisesah Non-specialised; non-particular; tanmātras
Aviśesa often refers to the previous evolute of a tattva which gives rise to what is called viśeṣa. For example, Viśeṣa refers to the pañcabhūta. Aviśeṣa is that which gives rise to these, which are the five tanmātras. This is relevant in yoga since these ultimately come from liṅgamātra, which comes from aliṅga, i.e. Prakṛti. The tattvas merge back in the same way that they are created.
255 avrtti Repeat; recurrence
Āvṛtti is used to refer to ‘repeat’ or ‘recurrence’ of some event or action. There are two major contexts in which this is used. The first is connected to the concept of abhyāsa. Thinking and practising repeatedly the precepts of yoga is crucial to progress and success. The second usage is in the context of saṃsāra. A person who is in bondage of saṃsāra “repeats” lives, deaths and births.
256 avyakta Prakṛti; not perceivable
Vyakta refers to something that is perceivable or manifest. Avyakta refers to something that needs to be deduced and cannot be seen or perceived directly. In philosophy, vyakta refers to the created world which can be seen, while avyakta refers to Prakṛti from which this has arisen. Prakṛti cannot be perceived directly but its existence is deduced through inference.
257 avyakta See Su½umn¡.
See Su½umn¡.
258 avyapin Non-pervading; Synonym of vyakta
Non-pervading; Synonym of vyakta
259 avyaya Unchanging; without destruction
That which does not change is called avayaya. It is an epithet of Brahman.
260 ayamaḥ Length; expansion; stretching; restraint; control
The general meaning is ‘length’, ‘elongation’ or ‘stretching’. It can also mean ‘control’ or ‘restraint’. Prāṇāyāma is the āyāma of prāṇa. Yogasūtra (2.49) suggests the latter meaning for āyāma in this context, where the breaking of the flow of breath is called prāṇāyāma, however there are differences in the way prāṇāyāma may be defined based on what meaning is given to āyāma (See prāṇāyāma).
261 ayatapranah Having long breaths; taking long breaths; controlling breath; he who has mastered prāṇāyāma
When prāṇa (breath) is āyata, it can be ‘lengthened’ or ‘controlled’. This is a reference to the practice of prāṇāyāma. A person whose prāṇa is āyata is called āyataprāṇa. The possible meanings are those listed above.
262 ayuh Life; health; longevity
Āyuḥ is a word which encompasses the concepts of ‘life’ or ‘longevity’ on one hand and ‘health’ on the other. The former meanings are usually more prominent, however ‘health’ is also an important part of āyuḥ, as noted from the word Āyurveda (‘veda’ meaning ‘knowledge’) which is the knowledge of both longevity and health (treatment as well as prevention of disease).

Last Updated: 19-05-2024


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