Sravana is a Sanskrit word that has a range of translations, including “ear,” “hypotenuse of a triangle,” “the act of hearing” and “fame.” In Hindu philosophy, however, sravana is the process by which individuals reflect on the secrets of the Upanishads in order to gain insight and understanding after first hearing them from their guru. Sravana, therefore, is the mental activity that needs to take place in order for the yogi to know the truth about Brahman.
Some say that by hearing the teachings of the Divine through sravana, the yogi’s mind will begin to merge with Divinity. To listen to teachings in this way is considered a form of Bhakti yoga.
The essence of Shinto is the Japanese devotion to invisible spiritual beings and powers called kami, to shrines, and to various rituals.
Shinto is not a way of explaining the world. What matters are rituals that enable human beings to communicate with kami.
Kami are not God or gods. They are spirits that are concerned with human beings – they appreciate our interest in them and want us to be happy – and if they are treated properly they will intervene in our lives to bring benefits like health, business success, and good exam results.
Shinto is a very local religion, in which devotees are likely to be concerned with their local shrine rather than the religion as a whole. Many Japanese will have a tiny shrine-altar in their homes.
However, it is also an unofficial national religion with shrines that draw visitors from across the country. Because ritual rather than belief is at the heart of Shinto, Japanese people don’t usually think of Shinto specifically as a religion – it’s simply an aspect of Japanese life. This has enabled Shinto to coexist happily with Buddhism for centuries.
~The name Shinto comes from Chinese characters for Shen (‘divine being’), and Tao (‘way’) and means ‘Way of the Spirits’. ~Shrine visiting and taking part in festivals play a great part in binding local communities together. ~Shrine visiting at New Year is the most popular shared national event in Japan. ~Because Shinto is focused on the land of Japan it is clearly an ethnic religion. Therefore Shinto is little interested in missionary work, and rarely practised outside its country of origin. ~Shinto sees human beings as basically good and has no concept of original sin, or of humanity as ‘fallen’. ~Everything, including the spiritual, is experienced as part of this world. ~Shinto has no place for any transcendental other world. ~Shinto has no canonical scriptures. ~Shinto teaches important ethical principles but has no commandments. ~Shinto has no founder. ~Shinto has no God. ~Shinto does not require adherents to follow it as their only religion.
Shinto is the religion of the people of Japan, which is characterised by public shrines devoted to the worship of many gods. It is described as an action-centred religion made up of repeated practice of set rituals. These rituals are thought to cleanse impurities caused by wrong thoughts and deeds.
Ishta devata is the term in Hinduism for a worshipper’s personal preferred deity. Because Hindus may worship many gods and goddesses or their incarnations, they may choose one beloved deity as their focus for devotion.
In Vajrayana Buddhism, ishta devata is not a deity but an enlightened being with whom a person identifies during personal meditation. In this sense, it is often translated as “meditational deity.” It is also a key component of Deity yoga, in which the yogi imagines him/herself in the form of the Buddha.
Ishta devata comes from the Sanskrit, ishta, meaning “desired,” “cherished” or “preferred”; and devata, meaning “godhead” or “divinity.” It translates as “cherished divinity.”
Nischala bhava is a term used in Hinduism that means different things depending on the context. It is most commonly translated as “steadfastness” or “immobility” when in reference to one’s spiritual devotion and yogic practice. The nischala bhava holds firm to the motivation to reach samadhi, or true devotees to reaching the goal of Brahman states of consciousness.
Devotion is defined as loyalty, dedication or love for someone or something. In the context of yoga and Hindu philosophy, devotion is a spiritual path characterized by deep love and commitment often to God, or the higher Self.
In Sanskrit, this devotion is called bhakti. Bhakti yoga is the path of spiritual growth and Self-realization motivated by love and devotion to a specific deity or the Divine within oneself and all creation. This devotion is expressed through chanting mantras, praying, singing hymns and worshiping the Divine.
Kuchipudi is a classical Indian dance known for its dramatic nature and distinctive for its use of speech and singing. It is named after the village, Kuchelapuram, in the Krishna district in South India. According to legend, the dance was founded by an orphan called Siddhendra Yogi.
A typical Kuchipudi dance combines music, dancing and acting to present a scene from a Hindu scripture, myth or legend. It includes worship rituals and invocations of the gods and goddesses, devotion being the key element in the choreography of the dance. The purpose of Kuchipudi is to emphasize bhakti, which is the worship and devotion toward the Hindu gods, and to connect devotees and deities through dance.
Punyanumodana is a Sanskrit term that means “rejoicing in merit.” It is one of the spiritual exercises that comprise anuttara puja , also known as “supreme worship” or “seven-fold worship.” Anuttara puja is a method of devotion developed by the seventh-century Indian master, Shantideva. It consists of seven spiritual exercises and is typically practiced in the Buddhist tradition.
Punyanumodana comes from the Sanskrit, punya, which is generally translated as “virtue” or “favorable” and refers to actions that elevate a person and have positive outcomes; and anumodana, which translates as “assent” or “acceptance.” Punyanumodana, therefore, is the spiritual exercise that honors one’s own and others’ positive qualities.
Purno’ham vimarsha refers to the concept of awareness of one’s own perfection. It comes from the Sanskrit, purna, meaning “complete” or “fulfilled,” and aham, meaning “I am.” Purno’ham, therefore, translates as “I am complete” or “I am perfect.” Vimarsha means “reflection” or “contemplation.” It refers to the ability to see the reflection of the Absolute Reality in one’s self.
Yoga asana practice, meditation, pranayama and mantras are all tools the yogi can use to experience purno’ham vimarsha.