Hinduism

Pushti Margiya Vaishnava

The Pushti Marga is the “Path of Grace,” a Hindu tradition of Krishna worship focused on the child Krishna especially known as Shri Nathji. It was launched by Vallabhacharya (1479-1531) and includes lineages of teachers called goswamis, who continue his tradition to the present day. Its most important Indian haveli (palace-temple) is at Nathdvara in Rajasthan. In the U.S. there are Pushti Marga temples or havelis in Vraj, Pennsylvania and Sayreville, New Jersey.

Vaishnava

A Vaishnava or Vaishnavite is a worshipper of Vishnu or one of Vishnu’s many forms, such as Krishna or Rama, as Supreme Lord. Vaishnava is also used to name the Hindu traditions of Vishnu worship, such as the Sri Vaishnava and the Gaudiya Vaishnava traditions. Collectively, they might be called Vaishnavism.

Brahmin

A brahmin is a member of the priestly class, charged with the duties of learning the Vedas, teaching the Vedas, and performing rituals. It is the highest of the four general castes of Hindu society.

jnana

Jnana is wisdom, transforming knowledge, especially the knowledge of the identity of the atman or soul and the ultimate reality of Brahman. It is this inner realization to which the teachings of the Upanishads point, and it is this wisdom which is explicated in philosophical systems such as Advaita Vedanta.

prana-pratishtha

Prana-pratishtha, “establishing the breath,” is the name of a particular rite of sanctification that establishes the divine breath of life in a murti or image. After this rite, the image must be honored daily as a divine embodiment, the divine guest in the temple.

Swami, Pramukh

Since 1971, Pramukh Swami has been the spiritual leader of the worldwide Bochanasanwasi Swaminarayan Sanstha. He is the spiritual successor in a divine lineage that extends back to Swaminarayan in the 19th century. He is also the administrative leader of the worldwide BSS community.

bhakti

Bhakti is devotion to or love of God. The term is derived from a Sanskrit root meaning “to share.” Hence, it conveys the sense of a personal relationship with the Lord, expressed in such forms as chanting, singing, dancing, and temple worship.

Holi

Holi is a Hindu springtime festival, marked by rituals of revelry including “playing” with colored powder which celebrants throw on one another. In some temples Krishna participates by throwing the colors on his devotees. Holi falls on the first day of the waning fortnight of the lunar month of March/April.

nun

A nun is a woman who renounces worldly life and is ordinarily a member of a monastic order or community, thereby undertaking a special commitment to study, service, asceticism, prayer, or disciplined spiritual practice. In the Buddhist tradition, fully ordained nuns are called bhikkhunis, those who beg alms, depending upon the laity for their food and support. The early lineage of bhikkhunis died out long ago in the Theravada traditions of South Asia, but was preserved in the Mahayana traditions of East Asia where nuns outnumber monks today in Hong Kong and Taiwan. In the Jain tradition,... Read more about nun

Siddha Yoga Dham

Siddha Yoga Dham Associates (SYDA) was launched by Swami Muktananda (1908-1982) in 1974. Siddha Yoga teaches that each individual has an inner transformative energy, or shakti, that is dormant within. The Siddha Guru can awaken this spiritual energy through an initiation called shaktipat, which enables the seeker to enter deep and joyful states of meditation that have a transforming effect on one’s life. The Siddha Yoga movement continues today under the leadership of Muktananda’s spiritual successor, Gurumayi, an Indian-born woman who leads the SYDA central ashram in South Fallsburg, New... Read more about Siddha Yoga Dham

Bhagavad Gita

The Bhagavad Gita or “Song of the Lord” forms part of the sixth book of the epic Mahabharata and contains Lord Krishna’s teachings to the warrior Arjuna. The Gita is beloved by Hindus for its message of selfless action and devotion to God.

Nammalvar

Nammalvar was a 9th century Tamil poet-saint whose poems, called the Tiruvaymoli, are considered by the Shri Vaishnavas to be “the Tamil Veda.” The image of Nammalvar as a great devotee of Vishnu is often found in South Indian Vaishnava temples.

Shakta

Shakta is an adjective which means relating to the Goddess or the worship of the Goddess, also known as Shakti, a term which means power or energy. As a noun, a Shakta is a person who worships the Goddess.

Arya Samaj

The Arya Samaj is a Hindu reform movement launched in the late 19th century by Swami Dayananda Sarasvati, who advocated a return to what he believed to be the monotheism of the Vedas, rejecting image-worship.

Guru Purnima

Guru Purnima is a yearly observance honoring the guru or teacher. It falls on the full moon day (purnima) of the lunar month of July/August.

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