Mahayana is one of the two main traditions of Buddhism, the other being Theravada. From Sanskrit, maha means “great” and yana means “vehicle.” Mahayana is sometimes called Northern Buddhism because it is the primary tradition of Buddhism practiced in northern Asia. It is also the largest branch of Buddhism and the one that includes the philosophy of yoga practice (Yogachara).
Mahayana consists of four practice-focused schools – Zen, Pure Land, Vajrayana and Vinaya – and four philosophy-based schools – Yogachara, Tendai, Avamtasaka and Madhyamika. Some scholars classify Vajrayana as a separate tradition and the third main branch of Buddhism.
Unlike Theravada Buddhists whose goal is to become enlightened saints who have attained nirvana, Mahayana Buddhists hope to become bodhisattvas, altruistic enlightened saints who delay nirvana so they can help others attain it. The Mahayana tradition also teaches that even a layperson can attain enlightenment. The schools within the Mahayana Buddhist tradition differ in how to achieve this goal, but believe that enlightenment is attainable in a single lifetime.
Kutarka is a Sanskrit word meaning “bad logician,” “sophistry,” or “fallacious argument” from ku, a root syllable meaning “deficiency,” and tarka, meaning “reasoning,” “inquiry” or “logic” or “speculation.”
In yoga and Indian philosophy, kutarka is negative logic or negative reasoning. It is the wrong logic used for the purpose of finding fault. According to Patanjali, author of the eightfold path of yoga in the Yoga Sutras, there are three types of logic, of which kutarka is the lowest form.
Using kutarka, the person will apply incorrect logic to reach a conclusion. For example, given the statements “God is love” and “love is blind,” the person using kutarka logic concludes that God is blind.
Para vidya is one of two types of knowledge in Hindu philosophy and refers to a higher or spiritual knowledge. The term comes from the Sanskrit para, meaning “the highest point,” and vidya, meaning “knowledge,” “clarity” or “learning.”
The other type of knowledge is apara vidya, or lower knowledge, which includes earthly book knowledge such as grammar, philosophy, science, and mathematics. Depending on specific Hindu tradition, brahmavidya is either a synonym for para vidya or a term that encompasses both para and apara vidya.
Satyam is a Sanskrit adverb that means “truly,” “certainly,” “very well” and “necessarily.” From Sanskrit, sat, means “that which is true”; and yam, means “to hold,” “to tame” or “to examine.” When translated into English, it is often used as a synonym for the adjective satya (“true,” “truthful” or “authentic”) or for satya as a noun (“truth” in the spiritual sense or “truthfulness”). From a grammatical viewpoint, there is a clear distinction between satyam and satya, but it does not always come through in translation.