Ratha Yatra

The Ratha Yatra is a “Chariot Pilgrimage,” a festive celebration during which the image of one of the Gods is taken out of the temple and into the streets for a procession. The images consecrated for this purpose are special festival images or processional images, duplicates of the Gods established in the temple. The ratha or “chariot” is decorated like a portable temple for a trip through the streets. Devotees by the hundreds lend a hand to pull the deity’s chariot by its long ropes. There is dancing, chanting, and the singing of devotional bhajans all along the parade route. Both Krishna... Read more about Ratha Yatra


Yoga is a Sanskrit word, deriving from a verb meaning “to yoke” or “to join.” Body and consciousness are joined together in the discipline of yoga. Yoga practice involves ethical restraints, the mastery of bodily postures (called asanas), the control and direction of the breath (called pranayama) and the cultivation of mental concentration. The common image of the yogi (i.e. practitioner of yoga) seated in a lotus posture or standing in a posture of reverence, embodies this one-pointed stillness and concentration of both body and mind. There are many kinds of yoga that emphasize particular... Read more about yoga

Chidvilasananda, Gurumayi

Gurumayi is the spiritual successor to Swami Muktananda (1908-1982), the founder of Siddha Yoga Dham Associates (SYDA), a worldwide meditation movement.


Lakshmi is the goddess who embodies auspiciousness, wealth, and good fortune. She is often regarded as a wife of Vishnu or Narayana and is worshipped especially in the fall festival of lights called Divali.


Rama is the virtuous king and hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana. He is also considered the seventh avatara of Vishnu. He is often worshipped flanked by his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana, with the faithful monkey Hanuman kneeling before him.


Veda means “wisdom” and specifically refers to the sacred wisdom of the four Vedic collections: Rig, Sama, Yajur, and Atharva Vedas. Associated with each of these Vedas is literature called Brahmanas, which are concerned especially with rituals, and Upanishads, which explore a deeper philosophical understanding of the universe. In its broadest sense, the term Veda refers to the wisdom and authority to which Hindus turn.

Brahma Kumari

The Brahma Kumari movement is a worldwide spiritual movement founded in India in 1936 by Prajapita Brahma, with its international headquarters at Mount Abu and over 3,700 branches worldwide. Under the leadership of its present head, Dadi Prakashmani, the Brahma Kumaris have been active in interfaith cooperation throughout the world.

Kashmir Shaivism

Kashmir Shaivism is a non-dualist philosophical and ritual tradition, beginning in about the 10th century in Kashmir.


A pujari is a brahmin Hindu priest responsible for the daily worship (puja) and care of the deities in the temple


The upanayana is the rite of passage in which one “draws near” the guru (teacher) to begin learning the sacred Vedas. During the ceremony, each boy has his head shaved, receives the sacred Gayatri Mantra, and receives the “sacred thread,” a cord worn across the chest signifying one’s qualification for studying the Veda and performing the many rituals. The upanayana is reserved only for the upper three varnas or castes, which are sometimes called “twice-born” because of their eligibility for this rite of rebirth. In ancient India and to a modest degree in modern America, girls are also... Read more about upanayana

Bhajan, Yogi

In 1968 Harbhajan Singh (1929-2004) popularly known as Yogi Bhajan, brought the message of the Guru Granth Sahib to the West. He soon attracted many young American followers with the universalism of the Sikh message, the practice of yoga and meditation, and the emphasis on a natural and healthy lifestyle. In 1969, he formed the movement called 3HO, (Happy, Healthy, and Holy Organization), which later became known as Sikh Dharma.


Krishna Janmashtami is the Hindu festival celebrating the birth (janma) of Lord Krishna on the eighth day (ashtami) of the waning fortnight of the lunar month of August/September.


A pandit is a teacher, a scholar, a learned person.


Swami means “master” or “lord.” In the Hindu and Jain traditions of India it is used as a title of respect for deities, gurus (spiritual teachers), and sadhus (ascetics).


In the Hindu tradition, Ayyappa is popular pilgrimage deity of the mountain-top shrine of Sabarimalai Kerala, said to be a son of Vishnu and Shiva.