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Hinduism's Online Lexicon

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macrocosm: "Great world or universe." See: microcosm-macrocosm, pinda, three worlds.

Madhumateya: (Sanskrit) A Saiva Siddhanta monastic order founded by Pavanasiva, preceptor of the Kalachuri kings of Central India.

Madhva: (Sanskrit) South Indian Vaishnava saint (1197­1278) who expounded a purely dualistic (pluralistic) Vedanta in which there is an essential and eternal distinction between God, soul and world, and between all beings and things. He is also one of the few Hindus to have taught the existence of an eternal hell where lost souls would be condemned to suffer forever. See: dvaita-advaita, Vedanta.

maha: (Sanskrit) An adjective or prefix meaning "great."

Mahabharata: (Sanskrit) "Great Epic of India." The world's longest epic poem. It revolves around the conflict between two royal families, the Pandavas and Kauravas, and their great battle of Kurukshetra near modern Delhi in approximately 1424 bce. Woven through the plot are countless discourses on philosophy, religion, astronomy, cosmology, polity, economics and many stories illustrative of simple truths and ethical principles. The Bhagavad Gita is one section of the work. The Mahabharata is revered as scripture by Vaishnavites and Smartas. See: Bhagavad Gita, Itihasa.

Mahadeva: (Sanskrit) "Great shining one; God." Referring either to God Siva or any of the highly evolved beings who live in the Sivaloka in their natural, effulgent soul bodies. God Siva in His perfection as Primal Soul is one of the Mahadevas, yet He is unique and incomparable in that He alone is uncreated, the Father-Mother and Destiny of all other Mahadevas. He is called Parameshvara, "Supreme God." He is the Primal Soul, whereas the other Gods are individual souls. It is said in scripture that there are 330 million Gods. See: Gods, monotheism, Parameshvara, Siva.

Mahadeva Mountain: (Sanskrit) See: Vasugupta.

Mahakala: (Sanskrit) "Great time," or "dissolver of time." One of the names and forms of Siva. Mahakala is Time beyond time, who devours all things and forms and, by so doing, helps the soul transcend all dualities. Mystically, time devours itself and thus the timeless state is achieved. See: tattva.

mahakutumba: (Sanskrit) "Great or extended family." See: extended family.

mahamandapa: (Sanskrit) "Great hall." Main, outer assembly hall in the temple where devotees gather for ceremony. See: mandapa, temple.

Mahanarayana Upanishad: (Sanskrit) A philosophical text of the Krishna Yajur Veda.

Mahanirvana Tantra: (Sanskrit) "Treatise on the great emancipation." An 11th-century advaita scripture dealing with mantra and esoteric rituals.

mahapralaya: (Sanskrit) "Great dissolution." Total annihilation of the universe at the end of a mahakalpa. It is the absorption of all existence, including time, space and individual consciousness, all the lokas and their inhabitants into God Siva, as the water of a river returns to its source, the sea. Then Siva alone exists in His three perfections, until He again issues forth creation. During this incredibly vast period there are many partial dissolutions, pralayas, when either the Bhuloka or the Bhuloka and the Antarloka are destroyed. See: cosmic cycle, pralaya.

mahaprasthana: (Sanskrit) "Great departure." Death. See: death, transition.

maharaja: (Sanskrit) "Great king." Indian monarch. Title of respect for political or (in modern times) spiritual leaders.

Maharashtra: (Sanskrit) Central state of modern India whose capital is Mumbai. Area 118,717 square miles, population 63 million.

maharishi (maharshi): (Sanskrit) "Great seer." Title for the greatest and most influential of siddhas.

Maharloka: (Sanskrit) "Plane of greatness." From mahas, "greatness, might, power, glory." Also called the Devaloka, this fourth highest of the seven upper worlds is the mental plane, realm of anahata chakra. See: loka.

mahasakara-pinda: (Sanskrit) "Great manifest body." In Siddha Siddhanta Saivism, the first manifestation of Siva out of the transcendent state. From it all of existence issues forth. See: pinda.

mahasamadhi: (Sanskrit) "Great enstasy." The death, or dropping off of the physical body, of a great soul, an event occasioned by tremendous blessings. Also names the shrine in which the remains of a great soul are entombed. mahasamadhi day: Anniversary of the transition of a great soul. See: cremation, death, reincarnation, samadhi, transition.

Mahasivaratri: (Sanskrit) "Siva's great night." Saivism's foremost festival, celebrated on the night before the new moon in February-March. Fasting and an all-night vigil are observed as well as other disciplines: chanting, praying, meditating and worshiping Siva as the Source and Self of all that exists. See: festival.

mahatala: (Sanskrit) "Vast netherworld." The sixth lowest astral world. Region of consciencelessness. See: chakra.

mahatma: (Sanskrit) "Great soul." Honorific title given to people held in high esteem, especially saints. See: atman.

mahavakya: (Sanskrit) "Great saying." A profound aphorism from scripture or a holy person. Most famous are four Upanishadic proclamations: Prajanam Brahma ("Pure consciousness is God"--Aitareya U.), Aham Brahmasmi ("I am God"--Brihadaranyaka U.), Tat tvam asi ("Thou art That"--Çhandogya U.) and Ayam atma Brahma ("The soul is God"--Mandukya U.).

mahesha: (Sanskrit) "Great God." Term used by Vira Saivites to mean charity, seeing all as God. See: shatsthala.

Maheshvara: (Sanskrit) "Great Lord." In Saiva Siddhanta, the name of Siva's energy of veiling grace, one of five aspects of Parameshvara, the Primal Soul. Maheshvara is also a popular name for Lord Siva as Primal Soul and personal Lord. See: Cosmic Dance, Nataraja, Parameshvara.

Maitreya: (Sanskrit) One of four known disciples of Lakulisha. See: Pashupata Saivism.

Maitri Upanishad: (Sanskrit) Belongs to the Maitrayaniya branch of the Krishna Yajur Veda. A later Upanishad covering Aum, outer nature, the Self, control of the mind, etc.

mala: (Sanskrit) "Impurity." An important term in Saivism referring to three bonds, called pasha--anava, karma, and maya--which limit the soul, preventing it from knowing its true, divine nature. See: liberation, pasha.

mala: (Sanskrit) "Garland." A strand of beads for holy recitation, japa, usually made of rudraksha, tulasi, sandalwood or crystal. Also a flower garland.

malaparipaka: (Sanskrit) "Maturing of the malas." See: anava, karma, mala.

Malati-Madhava: (Sanskrit) A Sanskrit play by Bhavabhuti (ca 500). Primarily a love story, it contains incidental descriptions of the Kapalika Saivite sect of ascetics.

malice: Ill will; desire or intent to do harm to another, generally without conscience. See: mahatala.

manana: (Sanskrit) "Thinking; deep reflection." See: self-reflection.

manas: (Sanskrit) "Mind; understanding." The lower or instinctive mind, seat of desire and governor of sensory and motor organs, called indriyas. Manas is termed the undisciplined, empirical mind. Manas is characterized by desire, determination, doubt, faith, lack of faith, steadfastness, lack of steadfastness, shame, intellection and fear. It is a faculty of manomaya kosha, the lower astral or instinctive-intellectual sheath. See: awareness, indriya, instinctive mind, manomaya kosha, mind (individual).

manas chitta: (Sanskrit) "Instinctive mind." See: manas, manomaya kosha, instinctive mind.

mandala: (Sanskrit) "Circular; orb; mystic diagram." A circle. Name of the chapters of the Rig Veda Samhita. A circular diagram without beginning or end--which indicates the higher and the lower and other possibilities--upon which one meditates. A tapestry, picture or grouping of words used in meditation to enter the realms depicted.

mandapa: (Sanskrit) From mand, "to deck, adorn." Temple precinct; a temple compound, open hall or chamber. In entering a large temple, one passes through a series of mandapas, each named according to its position, e.g., mukhamandapa, "front chamber." In some temples, mandapas are concentrically arranged. See: mahamandapa, temple.

mandira: (Sanskrit) "Abode." A temple or shrine; sanctuary. See: devamandira, temple.

Mandukya Upanishad: (Sanskrit) A "principal" Upanishad (belonging to the Atharva Veda) which, in 12 concise verses, teaches of Aum and the four states (avastha) of awareness: waking (vishva), dreaming (taijasa), dreamless sleep (prajna) and transcendent, spiritual consciousness (turiya).

mangala kriya: (Sanskrit) "Auspicious action or practice." Hindu culture.

Mangalavede: (Sanskrit) A town in Karnataka, South India.

manifest: To show or reveal. Perceivable or knowable, therefore having form. The opposite of unmanifest or transcendent. See: formless, tattva.

manifold: Varied. Having many forms, aspects, parts.

Manikkavasagar: (Tamil) He of ruby-like utterances." Tamil saint who contributed to the medieval Saivite renaissance (ca 850). He gave up his position as prime minister to follow a renunciate life. His poetic Tiruvasagam, "Holy Utterances"--a major Saiva Siddhanta scripture (part of the eighth Tirumurai) and a jewel of Tamil literature--express his aspirations, trials and yogic realizations. See: Nalvar, Tirumurai.

manipura chakra: (Sanskrit) "Wheeled city of jewels." Solar-plexus center of willpower. See: chakra.

mankolam: (Tamil) "Mango design." The paisley, a stylized image of the mango, symbol of auspiciousness, associated with Lord Ganesha.

manomaya kosha: (Sanskrit) "Mind-made sheath." The instinctive-intellectual aspect of the soul's subtle body (sukshma sharira), also called the odic-astral sheath. It is the sheath of ordinary thought, desire and emotion. The manomaya kosha is made up of odic prana and is almost an exact duplicate of the physical body. However, changes that appear upon the physical body, such as aging, first occur within the structure of this sheath of the astral body. This is the sheath of the subconscious mind; it can be easily disturbed and is sometimes called the emotional body. See: astral body, instinctive mind, kosha, odic, soul, subtle body, vasana.

mansahara: (Sanskrit) "Meat-eating." (Sanskrit) mansahari: (Sanskrit) "Meat-eater." Those who follow a non-vegetarian diet. See: meat-eater, vegetarian.

mantra: (Sanskrit) "Mystic formula." A sound, syllable, word or phrase endowed with special power, usually drawn from scripture. Mantras are chanted loudly during puja to invoke the Gods and establish a force field. Certain mantras are repeated softly or mentally for japa, the subtle tones quieting the mind, harmonizing the inner bodies and stimulating latent spiritual qualities. Hinduism's universal mantra is Aum. To be truly effective, such mantras must be given by the preceptor through initiation. See: Aum, incantation, japa, puja, yajna.

Mantra Gopya: (Sanskrit) The collected writings of Allama Prabhu. See: Allama Prabhu.

Manu Dharma Shastra: (Sanskrit) "Sage Manu's law book." An encyclopedic treatise of 2,685 verses on Hindu law assembled as early as 600 bce. Among its major features are the support of varna dharma, ashrama dharma, stri dharma and seeing the Self in all beings. Despite its caste-based restrictions, which determine one's life unrelentlingly from birth to death, it remains the source of much of modern Hindu culture and law. These "Laws of Manu" are the oldest and considered the most authoritative of the greater body of Dharma Shastras. Even during the time of the British Raj in India, law was largely based on these texts. The text is widely available today in several languages. (Buhler's English translation is over 500 pages.) See: caste, dharma, Dharma Shastras, Kalpa Vedanga.

marga: (Sanskrit) "Path; way." From marg, "to seek." See: pada.

marital: Having to do with marriage. See: grihastha, griheshvara and grihani.

Mariyamman: (Tamil) "Smallpox Goddess," protectress from plagues. See: Amman, Shakti, Shaktism.

marriage covenant: The written (or verbal) statements of bride and groom expressing the promises and expectations of their marriage. Known in Sanskrit as vannishchaya, "settlement by word."

Matanga Parameshvara Agama: (Sanskrit) Among the 28 Saiva Siddhanta Agamas, containing 3,500 verses, deals at length with the categories of existence (tattvas). The Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia is thought to have been built using the temple section of this scripture. See: Saiva Agamas.

material cause: Upadana karana. The substance of creation, maya, Siva's "mirific energy." In Saivism, material cause, maya, is threefold: shuddha ("pure") maya, shuddhashuddha ("pure-impure") maya and ashuddha ("impure") maya. Shuddha maya, or bindu, is the material cause of the causal plane. Shuddhashuddha maya is the material cause of the subtle plane. Ashuddhamaya (or Prakriti) is the material cause of the gross plane. See: cause, maya, tattva.

materialism (materialistic): The doctrine that matter is the only reality, that all life, thought and feelings are but the effects of movements of matter, and that there exist no worlds but the physical. Materialists usually hold that there is no God--a cosmic, material, prime mover perhaps, but no personal God. An Indian school of thought which propounded this view was the Charvaka. See: atheism, Charvaka, nastika, worldly.

mati: (Sanskrit) "Cognition, understanding; conviction." See: yama-niyama.

matrimonial: Related to marriage.

Matsyendranatha: (Sanskrit) A patron saint of Nepal, guru of Gorakshanatha and a mystic in the Natha tradition (ca 900). Some consider him to have been the foremost human teacher of hatha yoga. See: hatha yoga.

Mattamayura Order: (Sanskrit) A Saiva Siddhanta monastic order founded by Purandara (successor to Rudrashambhu), centered in the Punjab. Members of this order served as advisors to the king.

matter: Substance, especially of the physical world. May also refer to all of manifest existence, including the subtle, nonphysical dimensions. See: maya.

mature: Ripe; fully grown or developed.

maya: (Sanskrit) "Consisting of; made of," as in manomaya, "made of mind."

maya: (Sanskrit) From the verb root ma, "to measure, to limit, give form." The principle of appearance or manifestation of God's power or "mirific energy," "that which measures." The substance emanated from Siva through which the world of form is manifested. Hence all creation is also termed maya. It is the cosmic creative force, the principle of manifestation, ever in the process of creation, preservation and dissolution. See: loka, mind (universal), mirific. The Upanishads underscore maya's captivating nature, which blinds souls to the transcendent Truth. In Shankara's Vedantic interpretation, maya is taken as pure illusion or unreality. In Saivism it is one of the three bonds (pasha) that limit the soul and thereby facilitate its evolution. For Saivites and most other nondualists, it is understood not as illusion but as relative reality, in contrast to the unchanging Absolute Reality. In the Saiva Siddhanta system, there are three main divisions of maya, the pure, the pure-impure and the impure realms. Pure or shuddha maya consists of the first five tattvas--Siva tattva, Shakti tattva, Sadasiva tattva, Ishvara tattva and Shuddhavidya tattva. The pure-impure realm consists of the next seven tattvas. The impure realm consists of the maya tattva and all of its evolutes--from the kala tattva to prithivi, the element earth. Thus, in relation to the physical universe, maya is the principle of ever-changing matter. In Vaishnavism, maya is one of the nine Shaktis of Vishnu. See: loka, mind (universal), mirific, tattva, world.

mayura: (Sanskrit) "Peacock." The vahana, or mount, of Lord Karttikeya, symbolizing effulgent beauty and religion in full glory. The peacock is able to control powerful snakes, such as the cobra, symbolizing the soulful domination of the instinctive elements--or control of the kundalini, which is yoga. See: Karttikeya, vahana.

mean: As a verb: "to signify." As an adjective: base, low-minded; selfish.

meat-eater: Mansahari. Those who follow a nonvegetarian diet. They are described in the following passage from the obscure Mansahara Parihasajalpita Stotram. "Those who eat the flesh of other creatures are nothing less than gristle-grinders, blood-drinkers, muscle-munchers, sinew-chewers, carcass-crunchers, flesh-feeders--those who make their throat a garbage pit and their stomach a graveyard--mean, angry, loathsomely jealous, confused and beset by covetousness, who without restraint would lie, deceive, kill or steal to solve immediate problems. They are flesh-feeders, loathsome to the Gods, but friendly to the asuras, who become their Gods and Goddesses, the blood-sucking monsters who inhabit Naraka and deceptively have it decorated to look like the pitriloka, the world of the fathers. To such beings the deluded meat-eaters pay homage and prostrate while munching the succulent flesh off bones." See: vegetarianism.

mediatrix: A go-between, intermediary or reconciler between two parties. The feminine form of the term mediator.

meditation: Dhyana. Sustained concentration. Meditation describes a quiet, alert, powerfully concentrated state wherein new knowledge and insights are awakened from within as awareness focuses one-pointedly on an object or specific line of thought. See: internalized worship, raja yoga, Satchidananda.

mediumship: Act or practice of serving as a channel through which beings of inner worlds communicate with humans. See: folk-shamanic, trance.

mendicant: A beggar; a wandering monk, or sadhu, who lives on alms.

menses: A woman's monthly menstruation period, during which, by Hindu tradition, she rests from her usual activities and forgoes public and family religious functions.

mental body (sheath): The higher-mind layer of the subtle or astral body in which the soul functions in Maharloka of the Antarloka or subtle plane. In Sanskrit, the mental body is vijnanamaya kosha, "sheath of cognition." See: intellectual mind, kosha, subtle body.

mental plane: Names the refined strata of the subtle world. It is called Maharloka or Devaloka, realm of anahata chakra. Here the soul is shrouded in the mental or cognitive sheath, called vijnanamaya kosha.

merge: To lose distinctness or identity by being absorbed. To unite or become one with.

merger of the soul: See: evolution of the soul, vishvagrasa.

meritorious: Having merit, deserving of praise or reward. See: punya.

mesmerizing: Hypnotizing; spell-binding; fascinating.

metamorphosis: Complete transformation, as in a caterpillar's becoming a butterfly. See: kundalini, reincarnation.

metaphysics: 1) The branch of philosophy dealing with first causes and nature of reality. 2) The science of mysticism. See: darshana, mysticism.

Meykandar: (Tamil) "Truth seer." The 13th-century Tamil theologian, author (or translator from the Raurava Agama) of the Sivajnanabodham. Founder of the Meykandar Sampradaya of pluralistic Saiva Siddhanta. See: Saiva Siddhanta, Sivajnanabodham.

Meykandar Shastras: Fourteen Tamil works on Saiva Siddhanta written during the 13th and 14th centuries by seven authors--Meykandar, Arulnandi, Uyyavanda Deva I and II, Umapati, Sivajnana Yogin and Manavasagam Kadandar. See: Saiva Siddhanta, Sivajnanabodham.

microcosm-macrocosm: "Little world" or "miniature universe" as compared with "great world." Microcosm refers to the internal source of something larger or more external (macrocosm). In Hindu cosmology, the outer world is a macrocosm of the inner world, which is its microcosm and is mystically larger and more complex than the physical universe and functions at a higher rate of vibration and even a different rate of time. The microcosm precedes the macrocosm. Thus, the guiding principle of the Bhuloka comes from the Antarloka and Sivaloka. Consciousness precedes physical form. In the tantric tradition, the body of man is viewed as a microcosm of the entire divine creation. "Microcosm-macrocosm" is embodied in the terms pinda and anda. See: apex of creation, pinda, quantum, tattva, tantra.

milestone: An event which serves as a significant marker in the progress of a project, history, etc.

milieu: Environment; social or cultural setting.

millennium: A period of 1,000 years. millennia: Plural of millenium.

Mimamsa: (Sanskrit) "Inquiry." See: shad darshana.

mind (five states): A view of the mind in five parts. --conscious mind: Jagrat chitta ("wakeful consciousness"). The ordinary, waking, thinking state of mind in which the majority of people function most of the day. --subconscious mind: Samskara chitta ("impression mind"). The part of mind "beneath" the conscious mind, the storehouse or recorder of all experience (whether remembered consciously or not)--the holder of past impressions, reactions and desires. Also, the seat of involuntary physiological processes. --subsubconscious mind: Vasana chitta ("mind of subliminal traits"). The area of the subconscious mind formed when two thoughts or experiences of the same rate of intensity are sent into the subconscious at different times and, intermingling, give rise to a new and totally different rate of vibration. This subconscious formation later causes the external mind to react to situations according to these accumulated vibrations, be they positive, negative or mixed. --superconscious mind: Karana chitta. The mind of light, the all-knowing intelligence of the soul. The psychological term is turiya, "the fourth," meaning the condition beyond the states of wakefulness (jagrat), "dream" (svapna), and "deep sleep" (sushupti). At its deepest level, the superconscious is Parashakti, or Satchidananda, the Divine Mind of God Siva. In Sanskrit, there are numerous terms for the various levels and states of superconsciousness. Specific superconscious states such as: vishvachaitanya ("universal consciousness"), advaita chaitanya ("nondual consciousness"), adhyatma chetana ("spiritual consciousness"). --subsuperconscious mind: Anukarana chitta. The superconscious mind working through the conscious and subconscious states, which brings forth intuition, clarity and insight. See: chitta, consciousness, samskara, Satchidananda, vasana.

mind (individual): At the microcosmic level of individual souls, mind is consciousness and its faculties of memory, desire, thought and cognition. Individual mind is chitta (mind, consciousness) and its three-fold expression is called antahkarana, "inner faculty" composed of: 1) buddhi ("intellect, reason, logic," higher mind); 2) ahamkara ("I-maker," egoity); 3) manas ("lower mind," instinctive-intellectual mind, the seat of desire). From the perspective of the 36 tattvas (categories of existence), each of these is a tattva which evolves out of the one before it. Thus, from buddhi comes ahamkara and then manas. Manas, buddhi and ahamkara are faculties of the manomaya kosha (astral or instinctive-intellectual sheath). Anukarana chitta, subsuperconsciousness, the knowing mind, is the mind-state of the vijnanamaya kosha (mental or intuitive-cognitive sheath). The aspect of mind corresponding directly to the anandamaya kosha (causal body) is karana chitta, superconsciousness. See: ahamkara, antahkarana, buddhi, chitta, manas, mind (universal).

mind (three phases): A perspective of mind as instinctive, intellectual and superconscious. --instinctive mind. Manas chitta, the seat of desire and governor of sensory and motor organs. --intellectual mind. Buddhi chitta, the faculty of thought and intelligence. --superconscious mind: Karana chitta, the strata of intuition, benevolence and spiritual sustenance. Its most refined essence is Parasakti, or Satchidananda, all-knowing, omnipresent consciousness, the One transcendental, self-luminous, divine mind common to all souls. See: awareness, consciousness, mind (five states).

mind (universal): In the most profound sense, mind is the sum of all things, all energies and manifestations, all forms, subtle and gross, sacred and mundane. It is the inner and outer cosmos. Mind is maya. It is the material matrix. It is everything but That, the Self within, Parasiva, which is timeless, formless, causeless, spaceless, known by the knower only after Self Realization. The Self is the indescribable, unnameable, Ultimate Reality. Mind in its subtlest form is undifferentiated Pure Consciousness, primal substance (called Parashakti or Satchidananda), out of which emerge the myriad forms of existence, both psychic and material. See: chitta, consciousness, maya, tattva, world.

minister: Someone charged with a specific function on behalf of a religious or political body, especially in serving the spiritual needs of the people. In Hinduism, this term may be applied to temple priests, monks, preceptors, scriptural scholars and others.

minutiae: Small or relatively unimportant details.

Mirabai: (Sanskrit) A Vaishnava saint (ca 1420), poetess and mystic, said to be a Rajput princess who abandoned the world in total surrender to Lord Krishna. Her life story and songs are popular today, especially in Gujarat.

mirific: "Wonder-making; magical; astonishing." See: maya, material cause.

misconception: A wrong idea or concept; misunderstanding, avidya. See: avidya, illusion.

mitahara: (Sanskrit) "Measured eating; moderate appetite." A requisite to good health and an essential for success in yoga. The ideal portion per meal is described as no more than would fill the two hands held side by side and slightly cupped piled high, an amount called a kudava. All the six tastes should be within these foods (sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter and astringent), and the foods should be well cooked and highly nutritious. See: yama-niyama.

modaka: (Sanskrit) "Sweets." A round lemon-sized sweet made of rice, coconut, sugar, etc. It is a favorite treat of Ganesha. Esoterically, it corresponds to siddhi (attainment or fulfillment), the gladdening contentment of pure joy, the sweetest of all things sweet. See: Ganesha.

moksha: (Sanskrit) "Liberation." Release from transmigration, samsara, the round of births and deaths, which occurs after karma has been resolved and nirvikalpa samadhi--realization of the Self, Parasiva--has been attained. Same as mukti. See: jivanmukta, kaivalya, kundalini, nirvikalpa samadhi, Parasiva, raja yoga, videhamukti.

monastic: A monk or nun (based on the Greek monos, "alone"). A man or woman who has withdrawn from the world and lives an austere, religious life, either alone or with others in a monastery. (Not to be confused with monistic, having to do with the doctrine of monism.) Terms for Hindu monastics include sadhaka, sadhu, muni, tapasvin, vairagi, udasin and sannyasin. (Feminine: sadhika, sadhvi, muni, tapasvini, vairagini, and sannyasini.) A monastery-dweller is a mathavasi, and sadhu is a rough equivalent for mendicant. See: monk, sannyasin, sannyasini, vairagi.

monism: "Doctrine of oneness." 1) The philosophical view that there is only one ultimate substance or principle. 2) The view that reality is a unified whole without independent parts. See: dvaita-advaita, pluralism.

monistic theism: Advaita Ishvaravada. Monism is the doctrine that reality is a one whole or existence without independent parts. Theism is the belief that God exists as a real, conscious, personal Supreme Being. Monistic theism is the dipolar doctrine, also called panentheism, that embraces both monism and theism, two perspectives ordinarily considered contradictory or mutually exclusive, since theism implies dualism. Monistic theism simultaneously accepts that God has a personal form, that He creates, pervades and is all that exists--and that He ultimately transcends all existence and that the soul is, in essence, one with God. Advaita Siddhanta (monistic Saiva Siddhanta, or Advaita Ishvaravada Saiva Siddhanta) is a specific form of monistic theism. See: advaita, Advaita Ishvaravada, Advaita Siddhanta, dvaita-advaita, panentheism, theism.

monk: A celibate man wholly dedicated to religious life, either cenobitic (residing with others in a monastery) or anchoritic (living alone, as a hermit or mendicant). Literally, "one who lives alone" (from the Greek monos, "alone"). Through the practice of yoga, the control and transmutation of the masculine and feminine forces within himself, the monk is a complete being, free to follow the contemplative and mystic life toward realization of the Self within. Benevolent and strong, courageous, fearless, not entangled in the thoughts and feelings of others, monks are affectionately detached from society, defenders of the faith, kind, loving and ever-flowing with timely wisdom. A synonym for monastic. Its feminine counterpart is nunk. See: monastic, sannyasin, nunk.

monotheism: "Doctrine of one God." Contrasted with polytheism, meaning belief in many Gods. The term monotheism covers a wide range of philosophical positions, from exclusive (or pure) monotheism, which recognizes only one God (such as in Semitic faiths), to inclusive monotheism, which also accepts the existence of other Gods. Generally speaking, the sects of Hinduism are inclusively monotheistic in their belief in a one Supreme God, and in their reverence for other Gods, or Mahadevas. However, such terms which arose out of Western philosophy do not really describe the fullness of Hindu thinking. Realizing this, the author of The Vedic Experience, Raimundo Panikkar, has offered a new word: cosmotheandrism, "world-God-man doctrine," which describes a philosophy that views God, soul and world (Pati, pashu, pasha) as an integrated, inseparable unity. See: Advaita Ishvaravada, monistic theism, Pati-pashu-pasha.

mortal: Subject to death. Opposite of immortal. See: amrita, death.

mortal sin: See: sin.

Mrigendra Agama: (Sanskrit) First subsidiary text (Upagama) of the Kamika Agama, one of the 28 Saiva Siddhanta Agamas. It is especially valuable because its jnana pada (philosophical section) is complete and widely available. Other noted sections are on hand gestures (mudra) used in puja and on establishing temporary places (yagashala) of special worship. See: pada, Saiva Agamas.

mudra: (Sanskrit) "Seal." Esoteric hand gestures which express specific energies or powers. Usually accompanied by precise visualizations, mudras are a vital element of ritual worship (puja), dance and yoga. Among the best-known mudras are: 1) abhaya mudra (gesture of fearlessness), in which the fingers are extended, palm facing forward; 2) anjali mudra (gesture of reverence); 3) jnana mudra (also known as chin mudra and yoga mudra), in which the thumb and index finger touch, forming a circle, with the other fingers extended; 4) dhyana mudra (seal of meditation), in which the two hands are open and relaxed with the palms up, resting on the folded legs, the right hand atop the left with the tips of the thumbs gently touching. See: abhaya mudra, anjali mudra, hatha yoga, namaskara.

muhurta: (Sanskrit) "Moment." 1) A period of time. 2) A certain division of a day or night. Muhurtas vary slightly in length as the lengths of days and nights change through the year. There are at least three muhurta systems. The first defines one muhurta as 1/8th of a day or night (= 1.5 hours in a 12-hour night), the second as 1/15th of a day or night (= 48 minutes), and the third as 1/16th of a day or night (= 45 minutes). 3) Muhurta also refers to the astrological science of determining the most auspicious periods for specific activities. See: brahma muhurta, auspiciousness, sandhya upasana.

mukhya: (Sanskrit) "Head; foremost." From mukha, "face, countenance." Leader, guide; such as the family head, kutumba mukhya (or pramukha). See: extended family, joint family.

mukti: (Sanskrit) "Release." A synonym for moksha. See: moksha.

Mukti Upanishad: (Sanskrit) A 14th-century writing dealing in part with yoga.

mula: (Sanskrit) "Root." The root, base or bottom or basis of anything, as in muladhara chakra. Foundational, original or causal, as in mulagrantha, "original text."

mula mantra: (Sanskrit) "Root mystic formula." See: Aum.

muladhara chakra: (Sanskrit) "Root support center," from mula, "root," and adhara, "supporting." Four-petaled psychic center at the base of the spine; governs memory. See: chakra.

multitude: A very large number of things or people.

Mundaka Upanishad: (Sanskrit) Belongs to the Atharva Veda and teaches the difference between the intellectual study of the Vedas and their supplementary texts and the intuitive knowledge by which God is known.

muni: (Sanskrit) "Sage." A sage or sadhu, especially one vowed to complete silence or who speaks but rarely and who seeks stillness of mind. A hermit. The term is related to mauna, "silence." In the hymns of the Rig Veda, munis are mystic shamans associated with the God Rudra.

murti: (Sanskrit) "Form; manifestation, embodiment, personification." An image or icon of God or one of the many Gods used during worship. Murtis range from aniconic (avyakta, "nonmanifest"), such as the Sivalinga, to vyakta "fully manifest," e.g., anthropomorphic images such as Nataraja. In-between is the partially manifest (vyaktavyakta), e.g., the mukha linga, in which the face of Siva appears on the Sivalinga. Other Deity representations include symbols, e.g., the banyan tree, and geometric designs such as yantras and mandalas. Another important term for the Deity icon or idol is pratima, "reflected image." See: aniconic, Ishta Devata, teradi.

Murugan: (Tamil) "Beautiful one," a favorite name of Karttikeya among the Tamils of South India, Sri Lanka and elsewhere. See: Karttikeya.

muse: To think deeply.

Mushika: (Sanskrit) From mush, "to steal." The mouse, Lord Ganesha's mount, traditionally associated with abundance. Symbolically, the mouse carries Lord Ganesha's grace into every corner of the mind. See: Ganesha, vahana.

Muslim: "True believer." A follower of Islam. See: Islam.

mutual: Said of something which is thought, done or felt by two or more people toward each other. Shared.

mysticism: Spirituality; the pursuit of direct spiritual or religious experience. Spiritual discipline aimed at union or communion with Ultimate Reality or God through deep meditation or trance-like contemplation. From the Greek mystikos, "of mysteries." Characterized by the belief that Truth transcends intellectual processes and must be attained through transcendent means. See: clairaudient, clairvoyance, psychic, trance.

myth: Traditional story, usually ancient and of no known author, involving Gods, devas and heroes, and serving to illustrate great principles of life, customs, the origin of the universe, etc. See: folk narratives, katha.

mythology: Body of tales and legends. All the myths of a specific people, culture or religion. India's mythology is among the world's most bountiful. See: folk narratives, katha.

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