aadheenam: A Hindu monastery/ temple com- plex in the South Indian Saivite tradition. Also re- ferred to by the general terms: madam, mutt, math and peedam.
Aipasi: The Tamil name of the seventh month of the Hindu year (in which the new year begins in mid-April). Puratasi extends from mid-October to mid-November on the Gregorian calendar.
almanac: A yearly calendar which includes astro- nomical data, weather forecasts, etc.
Amavasya: “One.” The day of the half moon, the fifteenth tithi of the dark fortnight. Amavasya is also numbered as the thirtieth tithi.
Ani: The Tamil name of the third month of the Hindu year (in which the new year begins in mid- April). Ani extends from mid-June to mid-July on the Gregorian calendar.
Anuradha nakshatra: The “star of calling to suc- cess.” From anu: “to cry or to sound;” radha: “pros- perity, success.” Astronomical constellation: Delta Scorpio. It conveys ideas pertaining to: a co-worker, help-mate, founder; calling to activity, vigilance, united by friendship. Anuradha confers a handsome appearance, spiritual striving, kindness, love of fam- ily life, leadership abilities, social awkwardness, in- volvement in groups or societies and residing away from one’s place of birth. It names the 17th naksha- tra division in the zodiac.
archana: A special, abbreviated puja done in the name of an individual devotee or family to invoke guidance and blessings. Archana specifically refers to chanting the names of the Deity during the puja.
Ardra nakshatra: “Teardrop star.” Astronomical constellation: Betelguese 7. This star cluster conveys ideas pertaining to: tenderness, abundant feelings, flowing, dripping, melting, to be overwhelmed with. The teardrop refers to the rudraksha, or tear of Lord Siva. Ardra confers concern for the suffering of others. It names the 6th nakshatra division.
Ashtami: “Eight.” The name of the eighth tithi (lunar day) of each of the two fortnights of the moon’s cycle.
Aslesha nakshatra: The “clinging star.” Astro- nomical constellation: Epsilon Hydrae. It carries the ideas of: intimate contact, embracing, clasping, to at- tach to, to encircle, to move cautiously. Aslesha con- fers penetrating intellect, austerity, spiritual aspira- tions and can bring insincerity and over-indulgence. It names the 9th nakshatra division.
Asvini nakshatra: “Star of transport.” Astro- nomical constellation: Beta Arietis. This star cluster conveys ideas pertaining to: nose, smell, transporta- tion; physician, healer; giving marvelous aid, bring- ing treasures to man. Asvini confers physical attrac- tiveness, happiness, a bright mind, confidence, intel- ligence, discrimination, love of travel and spiritual striving. It names the 1st nakshatra division.
Avani: The Tamil name of the fifth month of the Hindu year (in which the new year begins in mid- April). Avani extends from mid-August to mid- September on the Gregorian calendar.
ayana: Half-year. Each (solar) year is divided into two halves—Uttarayana (“northern way/ solstice”) and Dakshinayana (“southern way/ solstice”). Ut- tarayana begins on the day of the winter solstice, normally December 21, when the sun begins its ap- parent northward journey for the next six months. Dakshinayana begins on the first day of the summer solstice, June 21, marking the sun’s southward movement. The two days commencing the two ayanas or passages are held as sacred. These days are called punyakala, “times (kala) of merit (pun- yam).”
Banu vasara: Sunday. “Day of brightness” or “day of the sun,” also known as Ravi, another name for the sun.
Bharani nakshatra: “Star of restraint.” Astro- nomical constellation: 41 Arietis. This star cluster conveys ideas pertaining to: discipline, self-control; fidelity, firmness, endurance; maintaining, nourish- ing, bearing in the womb. Bharani confers resistance to disease, steadfastness, perseverance, resourceful- ness and adherence to duty. It names the 2nd nakshatra division.
Bhuloka: “Earth (bhur) world (loka).” The physi- cal world perceived through the five senses. Also called the First World, as it is the first and least sub- tle of the three worlds which include the Devaloka (Second World or astral plane) and the Sivaloka (Third World or causal plane).
Budha vasara: Wednesday. “Day of wisdom” or “Day of Mercury.”
Chaitra: The Tamil name of the first month of the Hindu year (in which the new year begins in mid- April). Chaitra extends from mid-April to mid-May on the Gregorian calendar.
Chaturdasi: “Ten (dasi) and four (chatur).” The name of the fourteenth tithi (lunar day) of each of the two fortnights of the moon’s cycle.
Chaturthi: “Fourth.” The name of the fourth tithi (lunar day) of each of the two fortnights of the moon’s cycle.
Chidambaram: “Hall (ambaram) of Conscious- ness (chid)” or “Hall of Pure Knowledge.” An an- cient and highly venerated Siva Nataraja temple in South India.
Chitra nakshatra: The “star of the beautiful.” As- tronomical constellation: Spica 16. It conveys ideas pertaining to: variegated, speckled, manifold, forced in the mind, tabulated, decorated, arranged in order. Chitra confers artistic talents, attention to detail, love of order and beauty, intuitiveness, attractive eyes and handsome form. It names the 14th naksha- tra division.
Dasami: “Tenth.” The name of the tenth tithi (lunar day) of each of the two fortnights of the moon’s cycle.
deva: “Shining one.” A Second World being liv- ing in the higher astral plane in a subtle body.
Devaloka: “The world (loka) of light-beings (deva).” The astral plane, or Second World, usually referring to the higher region of this subtle plane where souls live in their astral or mental bodies. It exists within (rather than above or beyond) the physical world, known as the First World or the Bhuloka.
Dhanishtha nakshatra: “The star of symphony.” Astronomical constellation: Alpha Delphini. It con- veys the ideas of: distilling, unifying others for noble causes; singing, music, recitation; wealth, jew- els, opulence. Dhanishtha confers leadership abili- ties, boldness, stubbornness, wealth, fondness for music and interest in astrology and other occult sci- ences. It names the 23rd nakshatra division.
Dhanus: “Bow;” the Sanskrit name of the zodiac sign known in Western terminology as Sagittarius.
Dvadasi: “Ten (dasi) and two (dvi).” The name of the twelfth tithi (lunar day) of each of the two fort- nights of the moon’s cycle.
Dvitiya: “Second.” The name of the second tithi (lunar day) of each of the two fortnights of the moon’s cycle.
Ekadasi: “Ten (dasi) and one (eka).” The name of the eleventh tithi (lunar day) of each of the two fort- nights of the moon’s cycle.
Gregorian calendar: A corrected form of the Ju- lian calendar, introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII and now used in most countries of the world.
grishma ritau: Grishma is the hot summer sea- son, the second of six, two-month seasons observed in India and noted on Hindu calendars. It begins in mid-June and ends in mid-August.
Guru vasara: Thursday. “Day of the preceptor” or “day of Jupiter,” known in Sanskrit as Brihaspati, by which this day is also known.
Gurudeva: “The shining spiritual being who is the destroyer of darkness of ignorance.” Part of the name of His Holiness Satguru Sivaya Subramu- niyaswami. An affectionate, yet respectful term used to address the guru or spiritual master.
gurukulam: Guru means teacher. Kulam means family. Gurukulam usually refers to a training center where young boys come to live and learn in resi- dence with their teacher.
Hasta nakshatra: The “star of the clutching hand” or “closed fist.” Astronomical constellation: Delta Corvi. It conveys ideas pertaining to: the power to rule or control others; to lay bare, to cut, reap; an instigator, stimulator; to control, to com- mand; handwriting, handicraft; a quantity, mass; vivifier, surpass. Hasta confers industriousness, strength and purity of mind, but may also bring in- temperance and callousness. It names the 13th nakshatra division.
hemanta ritau: Hemanta is the cold season, the fifth of six, two-month seasons observed in India and noted on Hindu calendars. It begins in mid-De- cember and ends in mid-February.
Hinduism: Often known as the Sanatana Dhar- ma: “eternal faith,” or the Vaidika Dharma: “reli- gion of the Vedas.” The world’s most ancient reli- gion, the only religion not founded by man, Hin- duism encompasses a broad spectrum of philoso- phies ranging from pluralistic theism to absolute monism. There are three main sects: Saivism, Vaish- navism, Saktism—and liberal, non-sectarian forms, such as the Smarta Sampradaya.
Indu vasara: Monday. “Day of the moon,” also known as Soma vasara.
Jyeshtha nakshatra: The “chief star.” Astronomi- cal constellation: Antares 18. It conveys ideas per- taining to: greatness, supremacy, dominion; the se- nior; eldest brother; the chief one; to extol, to pro- claim, to praise. Jyeshtha confers contentedness, virtue, authority, executive power and ability; it can bring impatience and irritability. It names the 18th nakshatra division.
Kadavul: An ancient Tamil name of Lord Siva; “He who is both immanent and transcendent, with- in and beyond.”
Kali Yuga: “Dark Age.” The Kali Yuga is the fourth age in the repetitive cycle of four phases of time the universe passes through. It is comparable to the darkest part of the night, as the forces of igno- rance are in full power and many of the subtle facul- ties of the soul are obscured.
Kanya: “Maiden;” the Sanskrit name of the zodi- ac sign known in Western terminology as Virgo.
karana: A karana is half of a tithi or lunar day. There are 60 karanas in one lunar month, but only eleven distinct karana names. The karana names are: Bava, Balava, Kaulava, Taitila, Gara, Vanija, Visti, Sakuni, Catuspada, Naga and Kintughna.
Kartikai: The Tamil name of the eighth month of the Hindu year (in which the new year begins in mid-April). Kartikai extends from mid-November to mid-December on the Gregorian calendar.
Kataka: “Crab.” The Sanskrit name of the zodiac sign known in Western terminology as Cancer.
krishna paksha: “Dark fortnight,” the 15-day pe- riod each month when the moon is waning.
Krittika nakshatra: “Star of the axe,” also known as the “Star of Fire.” Astronomical constellation: Al- cyone 2 (Pleiades). This star cluster represents phys- ical and creative force, or the energy to achieve greatness. Krittika conveys ideas pertaining to: com- mander, fighter, foster mother, luster, glow of power; famous, fame; monumental deeds. It names the 3rd nakshatra division.
Kumbha: “Water vessel;” the Sanskrit name of the zodiac sign known in Western terminology as Aquarius.
lunar month: See mase.
Magha nakshatra: The “star of might.” Astro- nomical constellation: Regius 14. It conveys the ideas of: luster, eminence, respectability, strength, majesty; to excite, to magnify; liberality. Magha con- fers prominence, rulership, mental and physical strength and pride in tradition. It names the 10th nakshatra division.
Makara: The Sanskrit name of the zodiac sign known in Western terminology as Capricorn.
Mangala vasara: Tuesday. “Day of brightness, auspiciousness, fortune” or “day of Mars.”
Manta vasara: Saturday. “Churning day” or “day of Saturn”.
Markali: The Tamil name of the ninth month of the Hindu year (in which the new year begins in mid-April). Markali extends from mid-December to mid-January on the Gregorian calendar.
Masi: The Tamil name of the eleventh month of the Hindu year (in which the new year begins in mid-April). Masi extends from mid-February to mid-March on the Gregorian calendar.
mase: “Month.” There are two primary types of months—lunar and solar. A lunar month is the peri- od of one complete orbit of the moon around the earth (beginning either with the new moon or the full moon). A solar month is the period of sun’s movement through one rasi (zodiac sign). The solar months are as follows:
Sanskrit Tamil Gregorian month Mesha Chaitra April/ May Vrishabha Vaikasi May/ June Mithuna Ani June/ July Kataka Adi July/ August
Simha Avani August/ September Kanya Puratasi September/ October Thula Aipasi October/ November Vrischika Kartikai November/ December Dhanus Markali December/ January Makara Thai January/ February Kumbha Masi February/ March Meena Panguni March/ April
Meena: “Fish;” the Sanskrit name of the zodiac sign known in Western terminology as Pisces.
Mesha: “Ram, goat.” The Sanskrit name of the zodiac sign known in Western terminology as Aries.
Mithuna: The Sanskrit name of the zodiac sign known in Western terminology as Gemini.
Mrigasira nakshatra: “Star of searching,” or “star of the deer.” Astronomical constellation: Lambda Orionis. This star cluster conveys the ideas of: seeking, searching, striving, attaining, request- ing, purification; to adorn; to guide or lead. Mri- gasira confers an inquiring mind, fondness for re- search, industriousness, creativity, wit, eloquence, love of poetry, timidity, uncertainty and talkative- ness. It is the 5th nakshatra division.
Mula nakshatra: The “root star.” Astronomical constellation: Lambda Scorpii (towards the Galactic Center). It conveys ideas pertaining to: firmly fixed, stable, lowest part or bottom, origin, non-interven- tion; root cause. Mula confers pride, strong opin- ions, cleverness, stability, searching after the origin of life and fondness for luxury. It names the 19th nakshatra division.
Nakshatra: “Star cluster.” The nakshatras are 27 star-clusters, or constellations, which lie along the ecliptic, the path of the sun (or the moon or other planet) as it rises and crosses the sky. These are ap- proximately equal distances apart, each embodying particular ideas, powers or forces of nature. (Each nakshatra “division” occupies 1/ 27 or 13°20’ of the zodiac.) When a planet comes into alignment with one of these star clusters (from the perspective of the individual standing on the earth), the rays of the stars combine with those of the planet to influence the earth at the locale of the observer. All planets pass through the ecliptic and align with the naksha- tras one after another. However, the designation nakshatra (or birthstar) commonly refers to the align- ment of the moon, as its influence is most significant to daily life on Earth. This means that the nakshatra currently in effect is the one that the moon has “con- joined.” An individual’s nakshatra is the constella- tion the moon was aligned with at the time he or she was born. The twenty-seven nakshatras are: Asvi, Bharani, Krittika, Rohini, Mrigasira, Ardra, Punar- vasu, Pushya, Aslesha, Magha, Purvaphalguni, Ut- taraphalguni, Hasta, Chaitra, Svati, Visakha, Anu- radha, Jyeshtha, Mula, Purvashadha, Uttarashadha, Sravana, Dhanishtha, Satabhishaj, Purvaprostapada, Uttaraprostapada and Revati. (See individual naksha- tra entries for word meanings.)
Naraka: Abode of darkness. Literally, “pertaining to man.” The lower worlds. Equivalent to the West- ern term hell, a gross region of the Antarloka. Nara- ka is a congested, distressful area where demonic beings and young souls may sojourn until they re- solve the darksome karmas they have created.
Navami: “Ninth.” The name of the ninth tithi (lunar day) of each of the two fortnights of the moon’s cycle.
nirayana: Any system of astrology, also called sidereal astrology, which acknowledges the preces- sion of the equinoxes and adjusts the signs of the zo- diac accordingly. Nirayana astrology prevails in India, as opposed to western or tropical systems.
Panchami: “Fifth.” The name of the fifth tithi (lunar day) of each of the two fortnights of the moon’s cycle.
panchangam: “Five limbs, or parts.” The name of the traditional Hindu calendar, as every pan- changam includes the five basic elements of tithi,nakshatra, karana, yoga and vara or vasara. The pan- changam is a sophisticated tool for planning, not un- like a western farmer’s almanac but much more complex. It provides precise information about un- seen astrological factors, planets and stars, which in- fluence and alter the nature of the subtle environ- ment. This esoteric information is calculated mathe- matically. Panchangams are used by priests, as- trologers and lay persons to determine the optimum times for various types of activities.
Panguni: The Tamil name of the twelfth month of the Hindu year (in which the new year begins in mid-April). Panguni extends from mid-March to mid-April on the Gregorian calendar.
pathasala: “Place of lessons.” An ashram-like, residential training school for temple priests as found in various parts of India.
Pradosha: Pradosha is a daily 3-hour period 11/ 2 hours before sunset and 11/ 2 hours afterwards. Among devout Saivites, Pradosha generally refers to the observance of this period on the 13th tithi (Tray- odasi) of each fortnight, which is a most auspicious time for personal spiritual striving. Devotees fast all day to prepare for this three-hour period, then com- mence meditation and worship of Lord Siva. This discipline of fasting and worship is known as Pra- dosha vrata (vow). It is observed on the 13th tithi of both the light and dark fortnights, with the latter fa- vored as the most important.
Prathama: Same as Pratipada.
Pratipada: “First.” The name of the first tithi (lunar day) of each of the two fortnights of the moon’s cycle.
Punarvasu nakshatra: “Star of renewal.” Astronomical constellation: Pollux 11. It carries the ideas of: renewal of wealth, to enter life again, repe- tition, grow bright again, freedom. It denotes fre- quent change of residence, change of personality or personal purification. Punarvasu confers self-con- trol, happiness, friendliness and contentment. It names the 7th nakshatra division.
punyakala: “Time (kala) of merit (punyam).” Punyakala refers especially to two particular days each year, the summer and winter solstices.
Puratasi: The Tamil name of the sixth month of
the Hindu year (in which the new year begins in mid-April). Chaitra extends from mid-September to mid-October on the Gregorian calendar.
Purnima: “Full.” The day of the full moon, the fifteenth tithi of the bright fortnight.
Purvaphalguni nakshatra: The “first (purva) star of patronage.” Astronomical constellation: Delta Leonis. This nakshatra conveys the ideas of: good fortune, love, affection, passion, amorous pleasure, fulfillment, rejection of evil, cleansing, refining. It confers loyalty to a leader or cause, liberality, attrac- tive appearance and the ability to sway others. It names the 11th nakshatra division.
Purvaprostapada nakshatra: “The first (purva) scorching pair constellation.” Astronomical constel- lation: Beta Pegasi. Purvaprostapada (also known as Purvabhadrapada) conveys the ideas of: impetuous- ness, passion, restlessness, impetuousness. this nakshatra confers wealth, frugality, anxiety, good work skills, efficiency. It names the 25th nakshatra division.
Purvashadha nakshatra: The “first (purva) star of invincibility.” Astronomical constellation: Delta Sagittarii. It conveys the ideas of: to prevail, to con- quer, to withstand, to approve anything, to wait pa- tiently for the right time. Purvashadha confers pride, wealth, fame, devotion and firmness in friendship. It names the 20th nakshatra division.
Pushya nakshatra: The “star of flourishing.” As- tronomical constellation: Delta Cancri. It carries the ideas of: nourishment, unfoldment, the blossoming of flowers, the best or uppermost; wealth, fullness, well-nourished auspicious; speech, eloquence. Pushya confers wealth, learning, skill in teaching and advising, virtue and a stocky build. It names the 8th nakshatra division.
rasi: “Zodiac sign.” Rasi refers to any one of the twelve “houses” of the zodiac (rasi chakra), an imaginary belt in the heavens extending for about eight degrees on either side of the apparent path of the sun and other planets. The Sanskrit names of the zodiac signs are: Mesha (Aries), Vrishabha (Taurus), Mithuna (Gemini), Kataka (Cancer), Simha (Leo), Kanya (Virgo), Thula (Libra), Vrischika (Scorpio), Dhanus (Sagittarius), Makara (Capricorn), Kumbha(Aquarius), and Meena (Pisces). These are also the names of the months of the year. See individual rasi entries for word meanings.
Revati nakshatra: “Star of wealth.” Astronomical constellation: Zeta Piscium. Revati conveys the ideas of: nourishing, supporting, guarding, protecting; de- veloping, finality; prosperity, opulence. Revati con- fers popularity, courage, cleanliness and a well- formed body. It names the 27th nakshatra division.
ritau: The seasons of the year. In the West the year is commonly divided into four seasons— spring, summer, autumn and winter. In India, and on traditional Hindu calendars, there are six sea- sons, each of two month’s duration. Beginning with the new year in mid-April, vasanta is the season when the trees and plants are blossoming. Grishma, starting in mid-June, is known as the “hot summer.” The rainy season, varsha, begins in mid-August. Oc- tober brings sara and the season of fruits. Heman- tha is the cold season, beginning in mid-December. Sisir finishes the year, in mid-February, when trees and plants begin sprouting new leaves.
Rohini nakshatra: “Star of ascent.” Astronomical constellation: Aldebaran. This star cluster conveys the ideas of: rising, climbing, promotion, growth, development, birth, production, planting, sowing, conveyance. Rohini confers truthfulness, pleasant speech, calmness, strength of mind, stability, re- sponsibility, prominence and purity. It names the 4th nakshatra division.
Saint Jnanasambandar: Child saint of 7th centu- ry Saivite renaissance. Composed many Devaram hymns in praise of Siva, converted at least one Tamil king who had embraced Jainism, and vehemently sought to counter the incursion of Buddhism, bring- ing Tamils back to Saivism.
Saint Sundaramurthi: “Beautiful One.” Saint Sundarar, a 9th century Tamil saint whose songs to Siva and episodic narratives of how Siva intimately responded to pleas for help in his married life strengthened the medieval Saivite renaissance.
Saivism: The name of the religion followed by those who worship the Hindu God Siva. One of the three primary sects of Hinduism, Saivism (the old-
est of the three), is in turn divided into a number of distinct sects with diverse theologies, with six pri- mary schools. The primary goal of Saivism is Mok- sha, and the spiritual path of Saivism comprises four progressive stages called chariya, kriya, yoga and jnana.
Saivite: A follower of Saivism; also an adjective for Saivism.
samvatsara: “Year” (also a name of Siva, Samvat- sara-kara, “the year causer”); generally, the period of one complete revolution of the earth around the sun, or the period of the sun’s apparent transit from a fixed star and back to the same position again. In the Hindu system, each year has a name. There are sixty names in all, which repeat with every fifth twelve-year cycle of Jupiter around the sun. The Sanskrit names for the years are as follows: Prabha- va, Vibhava, Sukla, Pramoda (1990), Prajapati (1991), Angiras (1992), Srimukha (1993), Bhava, Yuvan, Dhatu, Isvara, Bahudhanya, Pramathin, Vikrama, Vrisha, Chitrabhanu, Swabhanu, Tharana, Parthiva, Vyaya, Sarvajit, Sarvadhari, Virodhi, Vikrita, Khara, Nandana, Vijaya, Jaya, Manmatha, Durmukhi, Hemalamba, Vilamba, Vikarin, Sarvari, Plava, Sub- hakritu, Sobhana, Krodhin, Visvavasu, Parabhava, Palavanga, Kilaka, Saumaya, Sadharana, Virod- hakrit, Paridhavin, Pramadin, Ananda, Rakshasa, Anala (or Nala), Pingala, Kalayukta, Siddharthin, Raudra, Durmathi, Dundubhi, Rudhirodgari, Rak- thakshi, Krodhana and Kshaya. Each name suggests the general feeling of the year it denotes.
Sani vasara: Saturday. “Day of Saturn.”
sankalpam: A solemn vow or declaration of pur- pose to perform any ritual observance. From the Sanskrit root samkalpa, meaning “thought, desire or imagination.” Most commonly, it names the mental and verbal preparation made by a temple priest as he begins rites of worship. During the sankalpam, he informs all Three Worlds what he is about to do. He recites the name of the Deity, present time and place according to precise astrological notations and announces the type of ritual he is about to perform. Once the sankalpam is made, he is bound to com- plete the ceremony.
Sanskrit: “Well-made, perfected.” The classical sacerdotal or religious language of ancient India, considered a pure vehicle of divine communication. Employed today as a religious, literary and scholar- ly language, but not generally used as a spoken lan- guage.
Saptami: “Seventh.” The name of the seventh tithi (lunar day) of each of the two fortnights of the moon’s cycle.
sara ritau: Sara is the harvest season, the fourth of six, two-month seasons observed in India and noted on Hindu calendars. It begins in mid-October and ends in mid-December.
Satabhisha nakshatra: The “star of veiling.” As- tronomical constellation: Lambda Aquarii. Satab- hisha connotes the ideas of medicine and related areas such as a healer, physician or a remedy. It also refers to things hidden; to be covered; protector from evil and defender against foe. Those of this nakshatra tend to be daring, truthful, hard to con- vince and able to conquer their opponents. It names the 24th nakshatra division.
Shasthi: “Sixth.” The name of the sixth tithi (lunar day) of each of the two fortnights of the moon’s cycle.
Siddhanta: “Final attainments” or “final conclu- sions.” Siddhanta represents ultimate understanding arrived at in any given field of knowledge. Siddhan- ta also may refer to a philosophy based on the Aga- mas, such as Saiva Siddhanta or Siddha Siddhanta. Siddhantins commonly hold a doctrine of a tran- scendent/ immanent God and of the ultimate identi- ty of the soul with God, with such identity realized through a specific path of spiritual evolution. Sid- dhanta is similar in meaning to the term Vedanta, meaning the “final conclusions of the Vedas.” While sometimes erroneously considered mutually exclu- sive philosophies, the Siddhanta of the Agamas in- cludes Vedanta as originally postulated in scripture.
sidereal: See: nirayana.
Simha: “Lion;” the Sanskrit name of the zodiac sign known in Western terminology as Leo.
sisir ritau: Sisir names early spring, the sixth of six, two-month seasons observed in India and noted on Hindu calendars. It begins in mid-February and ends in mid-April.
Siva Nataraja: God Siva as “King of Dance.” His tandava dance represents His five powers: creation, preservation, destruction, veiling grace and reveal- ing grace. One foot (representing veiling grace) stands upon and subdues the demon Muyalaka, symbol of ignorance and worldliness. The other foot, raised upward, represents His revealing grace. One hand is raised in blessing (preservation), anoth- er points to the foot of grace, the third hand shakes the drum of creation and the fourth holds the fire of destruction.
Sivachariya: A traditional temple priest of the South Indian Saivite tradition. For generations, re- quirements laid down by the Sivachariya tradition have restricted use of this title to males born in the Adi Saiva caste group who are married and have re- ceived all four initiations—samaya, vishesha, nir- vana and abhisheka diksha—after completing a minimum of two years of training in Siva temple rites known as Agamic nitya parartha puja.
Sivaloka: “Realm (loka) of God (Siva).” Siva’s “loka”—habitat, region or level of existence. Known as the causal plane or Third World, the Sivaloka is the heavenly abode of God Siva, the Mahadevas and highly advanced souls. It exists deep within the Sec- ond World.
Sivaya Subramuniyaswami: Present Satguru of the Siva Yogaswami Guru Paramparai. Born in 1927, studied under various teachers and masters from a young age, attaining Self-Realization at age 22 in the caves of Jalani in central Sri Lanka. Later, in 1949, he met Siva Yogaswami in northern Sri Lanka, receiv- ing his name and the highest (Sat Guru) diksha from him. Founded Saiva Siddhanta Church in 1957, Hi- malayan Academy in 1965, the Church of San Marga in 1975 and the international monthly newspaper (now a magazine), Hinduism Today in 1979. He was given the title Jagadacharya, “World Teacher,” in 1986 by New Delhi’s World Council of Religion, and was elected as one of three presidents to represent Hinduism in 1993 at Chicago’s historic centenary Parliament of the World Religions. His discourses have inspired many books and courses, most impor- tantly Dancing with Siva, Hinduism’s Contemporary Catechism—a 1,008-page illustrated sourcebook.
Soma vasara: Monday. “Day of the moon,” also known as Indu vasara.
Sravana nakshatra: “The star of learning.” As- tronomical constellation: Altair 20. It conveys the ideas: to listen, to learn, to be heard; renowned, to attend upon, to progress; obey; disciple, teacher; scholar, knowledge, endowed with knowledge. This star represents communication of that knowledge which helps us transcend the material world. Per- sons of this nakshatra frequently are found in posi- tions of service and worship, are learned, wealthy and often famous. It names the 22nd nakshatra divi- sion.
sukla paksha: “Bright fortnight,” the 15-day pe- riod each month when the moon is waxing.
Sukra vasara: Friday. “Resplendent, clear day” or “day of Venus.”
Svati nakshatra: “The star of self-going.” Astro- nomical constellation: Arcturus 17. It conveys ideas pertaining to: air, wind, storm; sensibility, self, self- moving, self-supporting, self-conducted; percep- tion. Svati confers the propensity to travel, love of theology, righteousness, skill in commerce, compas- sion and pleasant speech. It names the 15th naksha- tra division.
temple: A place of worship of God or Gods. An ancient Jewish term, later adopted by various reli- gions, used to translate Indian language words like koyil, madam, etc. Hindus revere their temples as sacred, magical places in which the three worlds most closely commune—special structures built ac- cording to Agamic specifications to channel the sub- tle spiritual energies of inner world beings. The temple’s subtle or psychic atmosphere is maintained through regular worship ceremonies (puja) invoking the Deity who uses His installed image (murthi) as a temporary body and channel for His blessings.
Thai: The Tamil name of the tenth month of the Hindu year (in which the new year begins in mid- April). Thai extends from mid-January to mid- February on the Gregorian calendar.
Thula: The Sanskrit name of the zodiac sign known in Western terminology as Libra.
tithi: A tithi is a lunar day. Calculation of tithis is based on the difference of the longitudinal angle be-
tween the position of the moon and the sun. There are 30 tithis and a tithi is defined as the time period in which the angular distance of the moon from the sun increases by 12° (1/ 30 of 360°). They are num- bered beginning with the new moon (in the amanta lunar system). At this point in the moon’s orbit around the earth, the sun and the moon are con- junct, or seen in the sky as together. Thereafter, the moon, in its orbit around the earth, gains in motion over the sun and again apparently meets the sun in the sky at the end of the next new moon. Because the true motions of the moon and the sun are not uniform, tithis are not the same length but vary from day to day. Tithis average about 23.5 hours, but the duration of a particular tithi may be as long as 26.5 hours or as short as 20 hours.
The first fifteen tithis comprise the sukla paksha, literally “bright fortnight,” the period when the moon is waxing. The fifteenth tithi is the full-moon day, Purnima. The dark fortnight, krishna paksha, when the moon is waning, begins after the full moon. There are fifteen unique tithi names, as the same word is used to describe, for example, the fourth tithi of both the waxing and waning moon. The names of the tithis are: Pratipada (Prathama), Dvitiya, Tritiya, Chaturthi, Panchami, Shasthi, Sap- tami, Ashtami, Navami, Dasami, Ekadasi, Dvadasi, Trayodasi and Chaturdasi. These repeat, beginning with Prathama at the beginning of each paksha. The 30th tithi is new-moon day, Amavasya.
Trayodasi: “Ten (dasi) and three (eka).” The name of the thirteenth tithi (lunar day) of each of the two fortnights of the moon’s cycle.
Tritiya: “Third.” The name of the third tithi (lunar day) of each of the two fortnights of the moon’s cycle.
Uttaraphalguni nakshatra: “The second (uttara) star of patronage.” Astronomical constellation: Denebela 15. It conveys the ideas of: patronage, favor or granting relief to others, healing; a compan- ion, a friend. This star confers beauty, leadership in one’s field, stability, financial success, concern for others, happiness and friendship. It names the 12th nakshatra division.
Uttaraprostapada nakshatra: “The second (uttara) scorching pair.” Astronomical constellation: Gamma Pegasi. Uttaraprostapada (also known as Uttarabhadrapada) conveys the ideas of: power to restrain anger; protecting and caring for others; long journeys, renunciation, wisdom, knowledge. It con- fers wit, eloquent speech, prowess, virtue, self-con- trol, happiness and fondness for children. It names the 26th nakshatra division.
Uttarashadha nakshatra: The “second (uttara) star of invincibility,” or “universality.” Astronomi- cal constellation: Pi Sagittari. It conveys the ideas: to delve into; deep absorption and penetration into projects or areas of knowledge. Uttarashadha con- fers refinement, good conduct, kindness, interest in others’ welfare, friendliness, appreciativeness and congeniality. It names the 21st nakshatra division.
Vaikasi: The Tamil name of the second month of the Hindu year (in which the new year begins in mid-April). Vaikasi extends from mid-May to mid- June on the Gregorian calendar.
vara: Solar day. Vara refers to anything enclosed or circumscribed in space or time. For example: sva- varam, meaning “to occupy one’s place; or bahu varam meaning “many times.” In panchangams it generally refers to a day of the week. Same as vasara. varsha ritau: Varsha is the rainy season, the third
of six, two-month seasons observed in India and noted on Hindu calendars. It begins in mid-August and ends in mid-October.
vasanta ritau: Vasanta names late spring, the first of six, two-month seasons observed in India and noted on Hindu calendars. It begins in mid-April and ends in mid-June. It is the time when trees and plants are in blossom.
vasara: A solar day, measured from sunrise to sunrise. There are seven days in each phase, or week, in the Hindu system. Each is said to be ruled by a planet as follows:
Bhanu (or Ravi) vasara Sunday Sun Indu (or Soma) vasara Monday Moon Mangala vasara Tuesday Mars
Budha vasara Wednesday Mercury Guru (or Brihaspati) vasara Thursday Jupiter Sukra vasara Friday Venus Manta (or Sani) vasara Saturday Saturn
Visakha nakshatra: “Star of purpose.” Astro- nomical constellation: Alpha 2 Libra. Visakha con- notes striving for a goal, accomplishment of an end in view, demonstrated conclusion or truth, doctrine; to worship. Visakha confers a bright appearance, forcefulness, determination, discipline, the ability to speak convincingly and the resolve to accomplish one’s work. It can confer covetousness and con- tention. Visakha names the 16th nakshatra division.
vrata: “Vow.” A religious oath. Vratas are person- al promises to perform certain disciplines over a pe- riod of time, such as fasting, specific japa repeti- tions, worship or meditation. Vratas are taken to en- hance one’s spirituality, establish self-discipline, in- voke divine blessings and often to atone for mis- deeds. Certain vratas are long-term, such as the brahmachariya vrata, the traditional promise to re- main celibate until marriage or, in the case of the sannyasin, for life. As one of the traditional niyamas (practices) of ashtanga yoga, vrata means to fulfill re- ligious vows, rules and observances faithfully.
Vrishabha: “Strength,” or “a bull.” The Sanskrit name of the zodiac sign known in Western terminol- ogy as Taurus.
Vrishchika: “Scorpion.” The Sanskrit name of the zodiac sign known in Western terminology as Scorpio.
yoga (astrological): “Union, conjunction, addi- tion.” In Hindu astrology, many types of yogas are considered as important factors in determining the auspiciousness of a given day. In panchangams, yoga usually refers to a calculation of an angle of the sun and the moon.
yuga: “Period, age.” A time span, from tens of thousands to one million years, which is a single cycle within a four-yuga greater cycle. The four yugas are: Sat, Treta, Dwapara, Kali.
zodiac: “Circle of animals.” A circular belt in the heavens extending for about eight degrees on either side of the apparent path of the sun and including the paths of the moon and the principle planets. The zodiac is divided into twelve equal parts, or signs, each named for a different constellation. Zodiac also refers to a figure or diagram of the zodiac and its signs used in astrology.
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