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Ahimsa

Ahimsa Meaning The Sanskrit word Ahimsa is the antonym of Himsa. Himsa means harmfulness and causing pain and grief to other beings. Hence Ahimsa means harmlessness or non-violence. But the meaning goes beyond non-violence. 

Though the Sanskrit word has been the part of English Language since the late 19th Century, it became popular only when Mahatma Gandhiji made the non-violent protest against the then British Government of India which eventually leads to the independence in the year 1947. 
Ahimsa as a yogic virtueThe primary virtue to be practiced for the attainment of yoga is non-violence. This is why it has become the foremost of the Yamas of Yoga Sutra of Patanjali and most of the Yoga Upanishads

Interestingly, Yoga Tattva Upanishad classifies Non-violence under Niyama and calls it as the foremost Niyama: Ahimsa Niyamesvega Mukhya.

According to Yoga Sutra, If a yogi has established himself in Non-violence, all beings lose their animosity in his presence.

Why it has become the prima…

Yama

Yama is one of the eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga. It is also the name of the God of death in Hindu Mythology. This article is not about the God of death, but it is about the first limb of Ashtanga Yoga.

Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi are the eight limbs of Yoga. The Yoga of these eight limbs is called Ashtanga Yoga which is one of the various versions of Raja Yoga discipline. Meaning and DefinitionYama is the set of activities which one should abstain from. Trishikhibrahmana Upanishad defines Yama as "dehendriyeṣu vairāgyaṃ Yama" which means the detachment of the body from the sense organs is Yama. 

Tejo Bindu Upanishad defines Yama as "the mastery over senses and continuous focusing upon the knowledge that Sarvam Brahma - All is Brahman." 

The same definition is found in Aparokshanubuti of Sri Adi Sankara.

It is the practice of given virtues for the attainment of the yogic goal. It is the code of self-discipline. It is the adher…

Ajapa Japa

What is Ajapa Japa?Simply put, Japa is the repetition of a Mantra. Japa is of three types. Vachika Japa, Upamsu Japa, and Manasa Japa. Vachika Japa is the repetition of mantra with the audible utterance. Upamsu Japa is the repetition with a whispering utterance. Manasa Japa is the repetition with the mental utterance.
Ajapa and Japa are antonyms. Ajapa means that which is not a Japa. Any mantra can be chanted or intoned as a Japa. But Ajapa is a different phenomenon. It is the fixing of the awareness on the Japa already happening inside. According to Dhyana Bindu Upanishad and other Yoga-Upanishads, Jiva is constantly chanting the Mantra Sa with incoming breath and Ham with out-going breath. But a different account is found in Vijnana Bairava Tantra  (verse 155 which was not found in the Original edition) wherein Jiva chants Ham with inhaling and Sa with exhaling. 

This Japa is spontaneously happening with every breath. Ajapa Japa is fixing the awareness on the internal rhythm of that n…

Soham Mantra

MeaningSoham is a reversal form of Hamsa. It is the combination of words Sa and Aham whereas Hamsa is the combination of Aham and Sa. It means He I am. I am the Supreme God. It is also an Ajapa Gayatri Mantra.

Isopanishad verse 16 says,
pūṣannekarṣe yama sūrya prājāpatya vyūha raśmīn samūha tejaḥ । yatte rūpaṃ kalyāṇatamaṃ tatte paśyāmi yo'sāvasau puruṣaḥ so'hamasmi ॥ 16॥
It means,
"My Lord! Primeval Entity! Maintainer of the Worlds! Regulator of the Universe! the goal of the pure devotees! the well-wisher of all beings! please remove the brightness Your transcendental rays so that I can see Your form of bliss. You are the eternal Supreme Entity of divinity, like the sun, like I am."


According to Dhyana Bindu Upanishad and Brahma Vidya Upanishad,  Jiva chants the mantra 'Ha' during the out-going breath and the mantra 'Sa' during incoming-breath. Brahma Vidya Upanishad says, 'Soham is the Mantra. It starts from the navel region and goes along …

Hamsa Mantra

What is Hamsa?Hamsa is a BirdHamsa is a goose or swan-like bird widely talked in Hindu Mythology of Sanskrit and Tamil. In Tamil mythology, it is called Anna Paravai. Probably it might have derived its root from the Sanskrit word Arayanna, the other name of heavenly Hamsa. It was the bird that had the unique ability to drink milk leaving the water from the mixture of water and milk. The word was used even in Rig Veda (1-65-5; 1-163-10;2-34-5;3-8-9), the earliest of the scriptures.

Hamsa bird is the Vahana (a creature that serves as a vehicle to a deity)  of Lord Brahma, Lordess Saraswati, Lordess Gayatri, and Visvakarma the creator of the universe.

Hamsa is Atman
But in Hindu philosophy, Hamsa indicates Atman or Purusa, the Self or the embodied soul. Paramahamsa is Paramatman or the Universal Self. Brihadaranya Upanishad 4.3.11 says 'hiraṇmayaḥ puruṣa ekahaṃsaḥ' meaning the radiant Purusa is only Hamsa. Hamsa or swan is a migrating bird. Maybe, for this reason, the embodied soul …

Om

Pranava, Omkara, and Ekakshara are the other names of Om. Pranava means that transcends Prana. Prana is the life force. It is Atman that transcends Prana. Pranava denotes Atman. Omkara literally means Om-ness. The suffix 'kara' is commonly added to letters when they are separately spoken of. For example, when the letter 'A' is separately spoken of, it is termed as 'Akara'. Similarly, Om is termed as Omkara. Ekakshara means 'mono-syllable'. Normally, vowels are skipped in the counting. Om contains Makara only. Hence it is called Ekakshara.

It is a combination of three syllables: Akara, Ukara, and Makara or simply AUM.

It is the sacred sound for Hindus. Om has its place not only in Hinduism but also in other major religions. For example, 'Amen' in Christianity, and 'Amin' in Islam. It is the sacred word also in Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. 

It is not only a sacred sound or word but a sacred symbol too. It is also used as a mantra or the sa…