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Glossary: Vajrayogini/Varahi

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Glossary of Common Terms

(Primarily Based on the Sakya Naro Khechari Tradition)

Abhisheka (S) (T: wang kur): (see empowerment).

Akanishta Realm (Sanskrit=S) (Tibetan=T: og min): the highest conceivable realm or heaven of the Buddhist cosmological system. It is on this level that are found the Buddhist purelands of Sukhavati (Amitabha Buddha), Abhirati (Akshobhya) and the Khechara pureland of Vajrayogini.

Anuttarayoga (S) (T: la me gyu): the highest of the 4 sets of tantras. There are three divisions; Non-dual, Wisdom (Mother) and Method (Father). The names of the three lower tantra sets in descending order are Yoga, Charya and Kriya.

Avadhuta or avadhutipa (S): a mendicant Buddhist yogi of India, without possessions, homeless and free of society.

Avadhuti (S) (T: tsa u ma): the central vein pertaining to the internal yoga system of tantra. It extends from the crown of the head to the navel and beyond.

Bhairava (S): the black male figure in the appearance of a wrathful deity found under the left foot of Vajrayogini.

Blessing (T: jin lap): as a technical term it is a supplementary initiation into a specific deity yoga practice based on already having received a major empowerment. For example - Vajrayogini initiation is a 'Blessing' based on the Chakrasamvara empowerments. An individual must have previously received the empowerment of Chakrasamvara before receiving the 'Blessing' initiation of Vajrayogini. There are major empowerments for Vajrayogini which do not require a latter blessing' initiation.

Bliss-whorl (T: ga wa kyil): a circular flat discus-like object composed of light.

Body Mandala (T: lu kyil): part of Generation Stage meditation practice, an internal visualization relating to understanding the macrocosm and microcosm.

Bramarandra: the opening at the crown of the head, the terminus of the avadhuti vein.

Chakrasamvara (S) (T: kor lo dom pa, kor lo dem chog): the principal meditation deity of the Chakrasamvara cycle of tantras. Numerous lineages of practice are found in Sakya, the foremost being the traditions passed down from the mahasiddhas Luipa, Krishnacharya and Ghantapada (Tib.: lu nag dril sum).

Chakrasamvara Tantra (S) (T: kor lo dom pa gyu): the principal anuttarayoga tantra of the Wisdom (mother) classification.

Chandali (S) (T: tum mo): referring to the inner fire at the navel produced by the veins, winds and elements - 'Heat Yoga.'

Chitipati (S) (see Shmashana Adhipati, Shri).

Common (Yogini practice): refers to the Vajrayogini sadhana practice without the three profound teachings of [1] Guruyoga, [2] Body Mandala and [3] Meditation Beyond Thought.

Daka (S) (T: kandro): male helpers and messengers on the Vajrayana path.

Dakini (S) (T: kan dro ma): female helpers and messengers. There are many types of dakinis, the highest being the Buddha in the form of Vajrayogini or Vajravarahi. There are also worldly types such as flesh-eating dakinis, etc.

Damtsig: (see samaya).

Deity Yoga (T: lha'i nal jor): the special meditation practice of Vajrayana comprising the two - Generation Stage and Perfection Stage yogas.

Dharani (S) (T: zung): a series of Sanskrit syllables or words, similar to a mantra, common in the Sutra tradition.

Dharmadayo (S): (see dharmakara).

Dharmakara (S) (T: cho jung): a tetrahedron, four-sided object, with three sides extending downward to a point and the flat side at the top.

Dharmakaya (S) (T: cho ku): the Truth Body of a Buddha.

Dharmapala (S) (T: cho kyong. Eng.: religious protector): there are two types; worldly (lokapala) and beyond worldly (jnanapala). Only the second category of protector can be totally relied upon because they are enlightened Buddhas.

Dhuti (S): (see avadhuti).

Dorje Naljorma: (see Vajrayogini)

E (S) (Sanskrit letter): a seed syllable mantra related to the dharmakara tetrahedron and the Sanskrit word evam.

Eleven Yogas: the profound teaching on the practice of Vajrayogini as taught by the Indian mahasiddha Naropa in eleven succinct points. These eleven yogas are the oral instructions of Naropa.

Empowerment (T: wang kur): a formal and often complex initiation into a specific practice of deity yoga, using a mandala, and lasting from 1 to 3 days. There are generally four parts to an empowerment vase, secret, knowledge-wisdom, fourth.

Evam (S): a Sanskrit word that precedes most Sutras and Tantras. The word has many profound explanations.

Five Pristine Awareness: the five poisons of ignorance, desire, hatred, etc. transformed into five wisdoms represented by the five Buddha families.

Ganachakra, Ganapuja (S) (T: tsog kor): collection, assembly, gathering, host, accumulation, retinue, group, resources, or equipment. Cakra (Tib. ‘kor lo) means circle, wheel, cycle, surrounding, gathering (of people). Puja (Tib. Cho ga) means - to offer, in an elaborate manner. The meaning derived from these two compounded words implies a collection or gathering of offering substances to be presented to a Deity, or group of deities. The term is also meant to include the teacher and student practitioners that are gathered for the event.

Ganapuja (S): (see ganachakra).

Generation Stage (T: kye rim gyi nal jor): the first of the two types of meditation yoga found in Vajrayana Buddhism. This yoga is predominantly concerned with the generating of oneself into the form of a deity. The practice involves both of the Sutrayana meditations of calm abiding and insight meditation.

Guru, Root (S) (T: tsa wa’i la ma): the teacher from whom the four empowerments are received. A tantrika can have many root gurus.

Guruyoga (S) (T: la ma’i nal jor): the practice of visualizing the guru and the deity as inseparable.

Indra Khachod: the meditation deity Vajrayogini/Varahi from the lineage of King Indrabhuti, included in the Marmo Kor Sum.

Initiation: a term used with reference to the tantras and specific to the Vajrayana path, the formalized permission and introduction to the practice of deity yoga. There are three principal types; empowerment (Tib.: wang kur), blessing (Tib.: jin lap) and permission (Tib.: je nang).

Ishtadevata (S) (T: yidam): personal meditational deity.

Kalaratri (S): the red figure in the appearance of a female deity found under the right foot of Vajrayogini.

Karmamudra (S) (T: le kyi chag gya): a physical consort of equal spiritual experience, a partner for the practice of tantric yoga.

Katvanga (S): a symbolic staff held by a female deity to represent the male consort.

Khechara (S) (T: ka chod): the pureland of Vajrayogini in the realm of Akanishta.

Khechari (S) (T: ka chod ma): the One of Khechara, referring to Vajrayogini as the Lady of Khechara.

Kushali (S): referring to [1] a penniless practitioner and [2] a form of offering yoga where the body is substituted in place of material goods.

Langkali (S): a type of wood found in India. There is a branch practice taught in the Vajrayogini teachings that employs a length of langkali wood.

Lineage, Teacher (T: la ma gyu pa): the chronological enumeration of teachers belonging to a specific line of tantric practice. For example, the Lamdre Lineage.

Lobshe (the Teaching for Students): a teaching in a detailed manner to a select group of sincere students. This term is borrowed from the Hevajra Lamdre system.

Maitri Kachod: the meditation deity Vajrayogini from the lineage of mahasiddha Maitripa, included in the Marmo Kor Sum.

Mala (S) (T: treng wa. Eng.: garland): the word mala can refer to a garland of flowers, garlands of light rays, or a garland of beads. The primary meaning is a string of prayer beads.

Mandala (S) (T: kyil khor): [1] a physical or imagined offering, circular in shape, representing the entire universe. [2] A painting, coloured sand constructed, or metal constructed representation of a deity, together with a palace and surroundings. [3] Body mandala: an internal visualization found in Anuttaryoga Tantra.

Mantra (S) (T: ngag): man = mind, tra = to protect. Sanskrit syllables, words and sentences used in sadhanas as root, or seed syllables, for inviting the deity, for making offerings, and finally in the yoga of recitation. All deities have a specific mantra that represents their speech aspect.

Marmo Kor Sum: (Eng.: the Three Red Ones) in the collection of the Thirteen Golden Dharmas (Tib.: ser cho chu sum) of Glorious Sakya there is a set called the Three Red Ones. [1] Vajrayogini of Naropa, [2] Vajrayogini of Indrabhuti and [3] Vajrayogini of Maitripa. All arise from the Chakrasamvara cycle of Tantras.

Meditation: in Sutrayana Buddhism there are two types of meditation [1] calm abiding (shamatha) and [2] insight (vipashyana)

Meditation Beyond Thought: the 10th of the Eleven Yogas of Naropa. It has two levels of instruction, common and uncommon (profound).

Mother-line Tantra: (see Wisdom Tantra).

Mudra (S) (T: chag gya): hand gestures that make up a coded body language. Sadhana practices are conducted with body, speech and mind. The body is involved through the use of sitting postures and hand gestures. The speech is involved with the recitation of the verses and mantras, and the mind is involved through visualization and meditation techniques. The word mudra can also be used to refer to a female/male consort.

Naro Kachod: (also Naro Kachodma) the meditation deity Vajrayogini from the lineage of the mahasiddha Naropa, included in the Marmo Kor Sum.

Naropa (S): an Indian adept (mahasiddha) of the 10th – 11th century prominent in the Chakrasamvara, Vajrayogini and Kalachakra lineages. He had students from many areas of India and South Asia and was associated with Nalanda University in Bihar, India.

Nirmanakaya (S) (T: trul ku): the emanation body of a Buddha.

Oddiyana (S) (Orgyan, Ugyan): an ancient sacred land thought to be in Northwest India or Pakistan and the home to many dakinis and devout practitioners. Some scholars believe Oddiyana to be the region of modern day Orissa.

Ordination: the three levels of 'vows' are [1] the Shravakayana with lay, noviciate monastic and full monastic ordination. [2] For the Sutra path of Mahayana is the bodhisattva ordination having as a basis the enlightenment thought. [3] For the Vajrayana path are the various sets of 14 root and 8 branch vows.

Padmavati (S) (Eng.: the place of the lotus): a special class of very profound dakinis offered up during the practice of Guruyoga.

Perfection Stage Yoga (T: dzog rim gyi nal jor): the second of two types of meditation yoga found in Vajrayana Buddhism. This yoga is predominantly concerned with the view of ultimate reality.

Permission (T: je nang): as a technical word - a minor initiation into the practice of deity yoga based on the blessings of body, speech and mind. Examples: the common forms of Arapacana Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara, Green Tara, etc.

Powa: the controlled expulsion of consciousness at or near the time of death - consciousness transference.

Prajna (S) (T: she rab): the highest of worldly wisdom - knowledge and experience gained through study, reflection and meditation.

Primordial Wisdom: (see pristine awareness).

Pristine Awareness (primordial wisdom): (Tib.: ye she): a pristine consciousness, sometimes referred to as primordial; a synonym for Buddha nature.

Rakshasi (S): fearsome female daemons of ancient India.

Realization (T: ngon tog): a technical word used in place of the word sadhana to describe a very extensive and detailed daily (meditation) practice.

Sadhana (S): (T: drup tab) a 'method of accomplishment,' a highly structured technical text focussing on Deity Yoga using various meditation and recitation techniques. Sadhana is the basic structure for practicing the two types of yoga – Generation Stage and Perfection Stage.

Samadhi (S) (T: ting nge dzin): a state of mind arising from the result of a particular meditative practice. At the time of complete enlightenment the state of mind is known as the vajra samadhi.

Samaya (S) (T: dam tsig): pledges, promised words that are spoken during an empowerment or initiation by the student to the teacher. Promises to maintain the practice on a daily basis.

Sambhogakaya (S) (T: long ku): the enjoyment body of a Buddha.

Secret Place (T: sang ne): the genital region of the human body.

Shmashana Adhipati, Shri (S): (T: pal dur tro gyi dag po yab yum. Skt.: arya shmashana adipati): the Lords of the Funeral Pyre, enlightened protector deities that appear as two dancing skeletons that serve as the special protectors for Vajrayogini practitioners. Chitipati is related to the Chakrasamvara Tantras. The term ‘chitipati’ appears to be a 19th century term created from back translating the Tibetan word ‘dur tro dag po’ into a Sanskrit form by the a Mongolian teacher and scholar, Rolpai Dorje.

Sindura (S): (see vermillion).

Six Classes of Beings: god, asura, human, animal, ghost and hell being.

Skullcup (T: tu pa): the top of a human skull, dried, and turned over to serve as a vessel or cup.

Sumeru (S): the great mountain at the center of the Buddhist world system.

Svabhavikakaya (S) (Tib.: ngo wo nyi ku): the essential nature body of a Buddha.

Tantra (S) (T: gyu): the collection of teachings by Buddha Shakyamuni/Vajradhara that explain the most esoteric of Buddhist techniques with the goal of reaching enlightenment in one lifetime. These teachings form the path known as Vajrayana, or Tantrayana.

Tantric Practitioner (S) (tantrika): any person, after having received a Vajrayana empowerment or initiation that is engaged in meditations, rituals and retreats.

Teacher (S: Guru): (See Guru).

Tenth Day Ceremony: the practice of gana puja (tsog) on the 10th and 25th days of the lunar calendar. From the ancient Indian system of reckoning, the upper tenth means the tenth day after a new moon and the lower tenth is the tenth day after the full moon. (See Ganapuja).

Three Om Mantra: the name of Vajrayogini’s mantra. It has the word om repeated three times at the beginning of the mantra.

Three Red Ones (Vajrayogini): Naro Kachod, Indra Kachod and Maitri Kachod from the collection of deities known in the Sakya Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism as the 'Thirteen Golden Dharmas.'

Three Small Red Ones: Kurukulla (Kurukulla/Tara) together with Tinuma Yogini and Red Vasudhara from the collection of deities known in the Sakya Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism as the 'Thirteen Golden Dharmas.'

Three Vows: (T: dom pa sum - see Ordination).

Tinuma (S): commonly associated with the 'Three Smaller Red Ones' from the collection of deities known in the Sakya Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism as the 'Thirteen Golden Dharmas.'

Tilika (S) (S: bindhu. Tib.: tig le): a drop, like a drop of nectar, or water.

Torma: (S: balimta), stylised food offerings usually in the shape of a cone or pyramid, adorned with small and large 'buttons' and of various colours. Often the shape of a torma is deity specific. During certain Vajrayana initiations the torma is sometimes used to represent the deity.

Tsog: (see ganachakra).

Tsogshe (the Teaching for Gatherings): a teaching in a general manner taught to a group of students. This term is borrowed from the Hevajra Lamdre system.

Two-stages: the two types of yoga practice/meditation in Vajrayana Buddhism are the Generation Stage and Perfection Stage. The Generation Stage is primarily concerned with the development of deity yoga and the Perfection Stage is primarily concerned with the ultimate view.

Uncommon: with reference to common and uncommon Yogini Practice - refers to the Vajrayogini sadhana including the three profound teachings of [1] Guruyoga, [2] Body Mandala and [3] Meditation Beyond Thought. These three teachings often require separate commitments to the Guru and are not always offered or taught.

Vairochana (S) (T.: nang par nang dze): the principal Buddha of the Tathagata Family to which Vajrayogini belongs.

Vajradaka (S): a wrathful deity related to purification, arising from the Chakrasamvara Tantras.

Vajradharma (T: dor je cho): the primordial Buddha of the Chakrasamvara cycle of tantras. He has two forms, both red in colour. [1] The common form is Vira Vajradharma holding a damaru drum and skullcup. [2] In the uncommon form, Buddha Vajradharma, holds a vajra and bell crossed at the heart while embracing the consort.

Vajragarvi (S): the consort of Vajrasattva.

Vajrasattva, Heruka (S) (T: dor je sem pa): a meditational deity used for purification, a form of Vajradharma/Vajradhara.

Vajrayogini (S) (T: dor je nal jor ma): a meditation deity of the anuttarayoga tantra wisdom (mother) classification, the principal consort to Chakrasamvara. The Sakya tradition maintains numerous lineages foremost of which are the Marmo Kor Sum of the Thirteen Golden Dharmas, followed by Black Vajravarahi, White Vajravarahi, the 37 Deity Vajrayogini, etc.

Vajravarahi (S) (T: dor je pag mo): the form of Vajrayogini according to the system of Indrabhuti and others. She has two faces, the second that of a sow, or pig, is placed on the right side of the regular face and sometimes on the crown of the head depending on the tradition. In Sakya she is also referred to as the Two-faced Vajrayogini (Tib.: dor je nal jor ma shal nyi ma).

Vam (S) (Sanskrit letter): the seed syllable of Vajrayogini, pronounced by Tibetans as baum. The syllable is formed from either the first syllable of the word vajra, or alternately from the second syllable of the word evam. Both of these words figure prominently in the practices of Vajrayogini.

Varahi (Eng.: sow): symbolising the ability of Vajrayogini (the sow face) to uproot the ego, like a sow digging in the earth.

Vermillion: ochre, iron oxide, the red or orange powder used during the initiation ‘Blessing’ of Vajrayogini. Also known as 'sindura' in Sanskrit, 'tsal' in Tibetan.

Wangkur: (see Empowerment).

Wisdom Tantra (T: she rab gyu): also know as Mother Tantra, one of the three inner divisions of Anuttarayoga Tantra. Examples: foremost is the Chakrasamvara cycle, followed by Mahamaya, Buddhakapala, Chaturpitha, etc. The Sakya School holds that Hevajra is a Non-dual Anuttarayoga Tantra however the Kagyu and Gelugpa Schools maintain that Hevajra is of the Mother Tantras.

Yidam (Skt.: ishtadevata): personal meditational deity.

Vidyadhara (S) (T: rig pa dzin pa): knowledge holders, great practitioners that are holders of profound knowledge and power.

Vira (S) (Eng.: hero): helpers and messengers on the Vajrayana path.

Vira Vajradharma (S): (see Vajradharma).

Virini (S) (Eng.: heroine): helpers and messengers on the Vajrayana path.

Yaksha (S) (T: nu jin): nature spirits of ancient India generally placed in the category of ghosts. They can interact with the human and heavenly realms and are generally associated with the hording and protection of wealth.

Yoga (S) (T: nal jor): to yoke, or to join. Yoga refers to the practice of Vajrayana Buddhism, Tantra, and specifically to the two types of practice, Generation Stage and Perfection Stage.

Yogini (S) (T: nal jor ma): [1] a female practitioner of yoga and [2] an abbreviated name for Vajrayogini.

[Written by (c) Jeff Watt, New York, NY. (Sakya Resource Guide: http://www.sakya.ca/). July 11th 2003]. (Added to the HAR website with links March 2017).