Maharishi, or maharsi, is a Sanskrit word typically used as an honorary title which is added onto the name of an enlightened spiritual teacher. It can be applied to an awakened yogi and has been bestowed upon many figures who were central to the yoga tradition.
The term is derived from the roots maha, meaning “great,” and rsi, meaning “seer.” It has been used in English since the 18th century and usually refers to a Hindu or Vedic guru with great mystical knowledge.
Lila is a Sanskrit term that has a range of translations and uses within Hinduism and yogic philosophy. Primarily, its meanings tend to derive from its rough translation as the noun, “play”; although, it is said that the word has more richness and depth than this simple translation.
One use of the term, lila, is by non-dualist philosophical schools to describe all reality. According to these schools, the entire cosmos and all the activity within them is simply the outcome of the creative play of Brahman, or The Absolute. Therefore, all reality is lila. In dualistic schools, such as Vaishnaivism, lila can refer to the activities of God, as well as the actions of the manifest universe.
In Hinduism and Buddhism, a klesha is a negative mental state that clouds the mind causing suffering and the conditions for suffering to arise. Klesha means “poison” in Sanskrit. Kleshas also refer to the obstacles that prevent a person from reaching a state of enlightenment and freedom from samsara.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras describe kleshas as impediments to spiritual growth. Yogic practices such as meditation and pranayama breathing exercises provide methods to overcome kleshas.
Maitri is one of the four virtues of Buddhism, collectively known as Brahmaviharas or ‘the immeasurables’. The term maitri can be translated from Sanskrit as “loving-kindness,” “benevolence,” or “friendliness.” The concept is central to the Buddhist practice of loving-kindness meditation and is also referenced in ancient Hindu and Jain scriptures.
Maitri was recently popularised by Buddhist teacher, author and nun, Pema Chodron. In her book How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind, she describes maitri as “unconditional friendliness,” not only towards others but towards oneself.
As such, it is an essential facet of mindfulness meditation, enabling the practitioner to cultivate a non-judgmental, non-critical and non-goal oriented attitude towards the practice.
Maitri is also known as metta in Pali.
Ekam is a Sanskrit word meaning “one” and refers to the entity from which the universe was formed. Synonymous with God, it is also the name used for the “the supreme oneness” in the holy book of the Ayyavazhi branch of Hinduism.
Within a spiritual practice of yoga, yogis may wish to connect with Ekam through meditation, pranayama and asana.
Tanmatra is a Sanskrit term which comes from the root words, tan, meaning “subtle,” and matra, meaning “element.” In yogic philosophy, the tanmatras are the subtle elements which are the objects of the five senses: sound, touch, sight or form, taste and smell. The five tanmatras are the way in which people sense the objective, tangible world.
Jyoti is a Sanskrit word that means “divine light,” “radiance,” and “brightness.” It is often used as a proper first name, a root word, and as part of compound words for important Hindu practices or concepts.
Within a yoga practice, yogis may wish to connect with jyoti of a particular deity or Cosmic Consciousness through a meditation, asana and/or pranayama practice.
Hari is one of the names for the Hindu god, Vishnu. From Sanskrit, it means “one who forgives all sins” or “the remover.”
Within a meditative yoga practice, Hari Om is a mantra that is believed to eliminate suffering by removing sins, improving karma, and alleviating the yogi’s poor astrological circumstances.
Acharya is a Sanskrit term meaning “one who teaches by their conduct.” An acharya is a teacher who leads by example. It is used for teachers and gurus of yoga, as well as for the instructor, sect leader or learned person in many Indian religions. The meaning of acharya is slightly different, depending on whether it is used in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism or yoga.
In addition, Acharya may be used as a suffix for a teacher of any discipline. It is a Brahmin surname which can be found across Nepal and India.
Adharma is a Sanskrit word which means “what goes against dharma” or, more literally, “not-dharma.” This has connotations of wrong, evil, immorality and vice. It can also be translated as chaos, disorder and disharmony. It is a complex term which has different shades of meaning depending on the context. It is used in yogic philosophy as well as other Indian religions.
Its opposite, dharma, etymologically means “what supports and sustains”; thus, adharma can represent all attempts to destroy or oppose this process of supporting or sustaining. It is often written as a pair in the scriptures of dharma-adharma. Whereas dharma leads to well-being, prosperity and spiritual enlightenment, adharma leads away from all of these.