Jagannatha is Krishna as “Lord of the Universe,” especially as he is present in the simple, saucer-eyed wooden form worshipped in the pilgrimage town of Puri in the Indian state of Orissa and beloved by worshippers of Krishna both in India and the West. The images of Krishna Jagannatha, his sister Subhadra, and his brother Balarama, are pulled through the streets of American cities in ISKCON’s annual Chariot Festivals.

Onam Festival

Onam is the most popular festival of the Kerala region of India, falling at the lush time of harvest and welcoming back to Kerala the ancient legendary king Bali, who was a virtuous king, even though he was defeated by Vishnu in the form of his Vamana (dwarf) avatara. The famous snake boat races on Kerala’s waterways are an important part of this festival. Onam is also observed in immigrant communities from Kerala in the U.S.


A stotra is a hymn of praise to one of the Gods, usually sung or chanted in Sanskrit.

Bhagavata Purana

The Bhagavata Purana, also called the Srimad Bhagavatam, is one of the most widely cherished of the 18 Hindu Puranas, the scriptural traditions which are filled with myth, legend, and ritual. The Bhagavata Purana is famous for its stories of Lord Krishna.

Hatha yoga

Hatha yoga is a form of yoga or spiritual/physical discipline giving special attention to the postures and breathing exercises that release and control the energies of the body. The term is often used in the West to refer to the physical-fitness aspects of yoga.


Narayana is a name commonly used to refer to Vishnu, especially in the form in which he lies sleeping on the waters, resting on the serpent called Ananta, the “eternal.”


Shiva is one of the great Gods of the Hindu tradition. The name Shiva means the “Auspicious One,” although Shiva deliberately embraces and transcends what is considered inauspicious as well. He is also called Mahadeva, the “Great Lord,” or Vishvanatha, the “Lord of the Universe.” Shiva is seen as both creator and destroyer, the one who pours forth the universe from himself and draws it within, once again, at the end of time. As a Divine dancer, Shiva is Nataraja, the “Lord of the Dance,” whose energy and balance of his dance are a perfect emblem of Shiva’s relentless activity. Shiva is also... Read more about Shiva


In Hinduism, an avatara is the “descent” of a deity upon earth, an incarnation, especially of Vishnu, whose avataras include Krishna and Rama.

Muktananda, Swami

Swami Muktananda (1908-1982) founded the Siddha Yoga Dham Associates (SYDA) in 1974. By 1976, he had established eighty meditation centers and five ashrams, and claimed some 20,000 followers in the United States. Swami Muktananda also traveled to other parts of the world, spreading the teachings of Siddha Yoga Meditation.


Satsang literally means the “community of the good,” and refers to those who gather together in a religious community for chanting, singing devotional songs called bhajans, study, or community worship.


In the Hindu tradition, arati is the circling of oil lamp-lights before the murti (image) of the deity so as to illumine each part of its face and body. This is often the final act of puja (worship). So important is this lamp offering that the term arati is often used to describe the entire sequence of honor-offerings made to the deity.


Goddess is a term used to refer to the female deity, either in the singular as the supreme divine reality, or in the plural as one of many particular or localized feminine deities. In the Hindu tradition, the Goddess refers to the very powerful, even supreme Goddess known variously as Durga, Kali, or simply Devi. In today’s Pagan traditions, the Goddess may refer to one of the ancient female deities such as Diana or Isis, or to the universal and supreme Goddess known under many names.


A Hindu temple will be called a mandir in northern parts of India or a koyil in the south. There are many styles of temples and temple-complexes, but most temples are laid out according to precise dimensions and proportions and erected to be the symbolic embodiments of the Divine on earth. The murti (image) of the deity for whom the temple is built is housed in a smaller sanctuary or garbha griha (womb-chamber) at the very heart of the temple.


Ravidas was a 16th century poet and singer, an outcaste or untouchable whose vision of bhakti, the devotional love of the Supreme, leveled all caste distinctions. His songs are loved by many, especially those who have been considered untouchables. The Ravidas movement continues in India and now has a temple in New York. Some of the songs of Ravidas were also included in the Sikh scripture, the Adi Granth.


Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) was the first Hindu teacher of yoga to settle in the United States for an extended period, some 30 years. Soon after he came to the United States in 1920, he began teaching yoga to Americans. He launched th. Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) in 1925. Yogananda saw yoga as uniting science and religion through realization of the unity of their underlying principles; he was among the first to emphasize the “mind-body” relation, especially for health and healing. The popularity of the movement and of Yogananda was enhanced with the publication of his book, The... Read more about Yogananda