The Science of Breath & The Philosophy of the Tatvas [Glossary]




Abhijit ~ One of the lunar mansions.

Abhinivesha ~ The technical name for that weakness of the mind that causes fear of death. It is one of the five miseries of the Yogis.

Agama ~ One of the three means of knowledge. The Knowledge that comes to us from the experience or researches of others, which we take on authority, is said to come from Agama. The Vedas are called Agama for the same reason.

Agni ~ Fire. A name of the luminiferous ether, otherwise called the taijas tatva. Its color is red. Other colors result from a composition with other tatvas.

Ahankara ~ Egoism.

Ahavanija ~ One of three fire that were maintained in an ancient Hindu household.

Akasa ~ The name of the first tatva, the sonoriferous ether. This is a very important tatva. All the other tatvas come out of this, and live and work in this. All the forms and ideas of the universe live in this. There is no living thing in the world that is not preceded by akasa or followed by it. This is the state from which we may expect every other substance and every other tatva to immediately come out, or, more strictly, in which everything is, but is not seen.

Alambusha (or: Alammukha) ~ The alimentary canal.

Ambarisha ~ One of the five hells. The qualities of the apas tatva are found here in painful excess.

Ananda ~ This is that state of bliss in which the soul merges into the spirit. It also means the spiritual state of tatwic atmosphere.

Anandamaya Kosha ~ The spiritual coil, the spiritual monad.

Anaradha ~ Inference.

Andhatumisra ~ The hell where the qualities of the akasa tatva are found in painful excess.

Anumana ~ Inference.

Apana ~ that manifestation of the life principles that throws out of the system things which it no longer requires, such as feces, urine, etc.

Apantartamah ~ A Vedic rishi, said to have incarnated as Vyasa Krishna Dwaipayana, the author of the Mahabharata, etc.

Apas ~ The name of one of the five tatvas; the gustiferous ether.

Ardra ~ One of the lunar asterisms.

Asamprajnata ~ The higher state of mental trance, in which the mind is perfectly absorbed in the soul. The lower state is known as Samprajnata.

Asat ~ The negative breath or phase of matter.

Ashwini ~ The first lunar mansion.

Asmita ~ (1) A synonym of Ahankara, egoism; (2) Making part or parcel of self; (3) The notion that the self is nothing separate from percepts and concepts.

Avidya ~ False knowledge.


Bharani ~ The second lunar mansion.

Bhutas ~ The shells of the departed spirits.

Brahma (w/ short a) ~ Also known parabrahma, the One Absolute, from which comes out the Universe.

Brahma (w/ long a) ~ The self-conscious Universe, the sixth principle of the Universe.

Brahmadanda ~ The vertebral column.

Bramavandhra ~ The hole in the head through which the soul of the yogi passes out of the body. The spinal canal ends in this.

Brahmavidya ~ The Divine Science, Theosophia.

Buddhi ~ Understanding.


Ch ~ The algebraic symbol for one of these vessels that emanate from the heart.

Chh ~ Ditto for another.

Chaitra ~ A lunar month of the Indian calendar, corresponding generally to February-March.

Chakra ~ A circle, a disc.

Chakshus ~ The eyes; the ocular modification of prana.

Chandra ~ The moon, the left breath.

Chandraloka ~ The lunar sphere.

Chaturyugi ~ The four yugas: the Satyu, the Treta, the Dwapara, and the Kali; put together, a period of 12,000 daiva years.

Chhandogya ~ The name of an Upanishad, a class of treatises on the Indian Wisdom Religion.

Chitra ~ One of the lunar asterisms.


Daiva ~ Pertaining to the gods (devas). Daiva day = one year of men. Daiva year = 365 such days.

Damini ~ The name of one of the vessels of the human body, probably the one with all its ramifications that proceeds to the breast of the female. I have not yet found it described anywhere.

Devachan ~ Now used in English to denote that state of bliss which one enjoys after death, in the lunar sphere.

Devadatta ~ One of the ten modifications of the life principle.

Dhananjaya ~ One of the ten modifications of the life principle.

Dhanishtha ~ A lunar mansion.

Dreshkana ~ The third part of a sign of the Zodiac.

Dukkh ~ Pain.

Dwasashansha ~ The twelfth part of a sign of the Zodiac.

Dwesha ~ That manifestation of the mind that repels disagreeable things.



G ~ The algebraic symbol for one of the vessels that branch from the heart.

Gandhari ~ The Nadi that goes to the left eye.

Gandharva ~ The heavenly musician.

Ganga ~ A technical term for the sun breath.

Gargya Sauryayana ~ The name of an ancient philosophical student mentioned in the Upanishads.

Garhapatya ~ One of the three household fires.

Gh ~ The algebraic symbol for one of the tubes that proceed from the heart to branch off all over the body.

Ghari (or: Ghati) ~ (1) A period of 24 minutes; (2) A lunar Ghati is somewhat less: one sixtieth of a lunar day.

Ghrana ~ The organ of smell, the odorifierous modification of Prana.


Ha (or: Ham) ~ (1) The technical symbol for the process of expiration; (2) the symbol for the akasa tatva, the neuter gender nominative of the same.

Hansa ~ This is made from Ham and sa; it is the technical name of parabrahma, because in this state both the positive and the negative motions lie in posse.

Hansachara ~ The technical term for the process of breathing.

Hasta ~ A lunar mansion.

Hastijihva ~ A Nadi that goes to the right eye.

Hora ~ The half of a Zodiacal sign.


Ida ~ The nadi that spreads in the left part of the body; the left sympathetic.

Indra ~ The ruler of the gods; the wielder of the thunderbolt.

Ishopanishat ~ The name of an Upanishad.

Iswara ~ The sixth principle of the Universe (according to the Septenary division); the same as Brahma (long a).


J ~ The algebraic symbol for one of the twelve stem Nadis that branch of from the heart.

Jagrata ~ The waking state.

Jh ~ The algebraic symbol for one of the stem Nadis proceeding from the heart.

Jyeshtha ~ A lunar mansion.


K ~ The algebraic symbol for one of the Nadis proceeding from the heart.

Kala ~ A division of time = 1-3/5 minutes.

Kalasutra ~ The name of a hell in which the qualities of the vayu tatva are found in painful excess.

Kali ~ The name of a cycle of 2,400 Daiva years. The Iron Age.

Kamala ~ The lotus. A center of nervous force in the body.

Kansya ~ An alloy of zinc and copper, largely used in making vessels.

Kastha ~ A division of time = 3-1/5 seconds.

Kathupanishad ~ One of the Upanishads.

Kh ~ The algebraic symbol for a Nadi proceeding from the heart.

Komala ~ Literally, soft.

Kram ~ The tantric symbol for the idea of the human mind, stepping beyond the ordinary bounds of the visible and thus peeping into the invisible. The ancient tantric philosophers had algebraic symbols to denote almost every idea. This was absolutely necessary to them, because they held that if the human mind were fixed upon any object with sufficient strength for a certain time, it was sure by the force of will to attain the object. The attention was secured generally by constantly muttering certain words, and thus keeping the idea always before the mind. Shortly, algebraic symbols were therefore used to denote every idea. Thus Hrien denotes modesty, Kliw denotes love, Aiw denotes protection, Shaum denotes warfare, and so on. Similar symbols were used to name blood vessels, etc. The tantric science is now almost completely lost; at present there is no available comprehensive key to the symbolical terminology, and now much of the symbolic language is simply unintelligible.

Krikila ~ That manifestation of the life principle that causes hunger.

Krittika ~ The third lunar mansion.

Kumbhaka ~ The practice in pranayama of drawing as deep a breath as possible and holding the inspired air in as long as possible.

Kurma ~ That manifestation of the life principle that causes twinkling of the eye.


Lam (L) ~ The algebraic symbol for the prithivi tatva.

Loka ~ A sphere of being.


Magha ~ The tenth lunar mansion.

Mahabhuta ~ A synonym of tatva.

Mahakala ~ The hell in which the qualities of the prithivi tatva are found in painful excess.

Mahamoha ~ One of the five miseries of Ptanjali. A synonym of Rage (desire to obtain or retain).

Maheshwara ~ The great Lord, the great Power.

Mahurta ~ A division of time = 48 minutes.

Manas ~ Mind; the third principle of the Universe from below.

Manomayakosha ~ The mental coil. The individualized mind that is, as it were, a sheath for the spiritual energy to manifest itself in, in the particular way we find the mind working.

Manu ~ The Being conceived as being the substratum of the third principle of the Universe from below. The idea of the humanity of one of those cycles known as manwantaras.

Manusha ~ Pertaining to men; human. Manusha day: the ordinary day of 24 hours; manusha year: the ordinary solar year. The lunar month is known as the day of the fathers (Pitrya), the solar year itself is known as the day of the gods.

Manwantara ~ A cycle of 71 Chaturyugis, during which reigns one Manu, i.e., during which exists humanity of a certain type.

Manwantaric ~ Pertaining to a Manwantara.

Matarishwa ~ Literally, he who sleeps in space. Applied to Prana as performing the functions of recording the acts of men, etc.

Meru ~ Also called Sumeru. The Puranas speak of its being a mountain (parvata, achala) on which is situated Swarga, the heaven of India, which contains the cities of gods, having celestial spirits for inhabitants. It is, in fact, spoken of as the Olympus of the Hindus. The fact is that Meru is no mountain of earthly mould, such as we are familiar with on earth. It is the boundary line that divides the atmosphere of earth from the upper air, the pure aether; the Meru is the bounding circle of the Terrestrial Prana. This side of the circle is our planet with its atmosphere; that side is the celestial Prana, the abode of the celestials. The sage Vyasa describes the Bhurloka (Earth) as extending from sea level (a vicheb prabhriti) to the back of the Meru (Meru prishtham yavat). On the face of the so-called mountain live the celestials, hence the earth’s boundary is its back. This is called a mountain from its fixed, unchangeable position.

Moha ~ Forgetfulness. It is a synonym of asmita, one of the five miseries of Patanjali.

Moksha ~ That state of being in which the downward tendencies of the mind absolutely die out, and in which, therefore, the mind remains merged in the soul without the danger of rebirth.

Mrigshirah ~ (or: Mrighshirsha) ~ A lunar mansion.

Mula ~ A lunar asterism.


N ~ The symbol for one of the Nadi that ramify from the heart.

Nadi ~ This word means a tube, a vessel. It is applied indiscriminately to blood vessels and nerves. The idea of the word is that of a tube, a vessel, or even a line, along which something flows, be it a liquid or the current of a force.

Naga ~ The manifestation of life that causes belching.

Namah ~ Obeisance.

Navansha ~ The ninth part of a sign of the Zodiac.

Nasadasit ~ A hymn of the Rigveda, the 129th of the 10th Mandala, which begins with these words. In this hymn is found the germ of the Science of Breath.

Nidra ~ Dreamless sleep.

Nimesha ~ A division of time = 8/45th of a second. Literally, it means the twinkling of the eye.

Nirvana ~ The extinguishment of the downward tendencies of the mind. It is a synonym of moksha.

Nirvichara ~ The ultra-meditative intuition in which, without the least effort of thought, the past and future, the antecedents and consequents of a present phenomenon at once make their appearance in the mind.

Nirvitarka ~ A kind of intuition (sampatti), the wordless intuition. It is that state of mental lucidity in which the truths of nature shine of themselves without the intervention of words.


Pada ~ Foot; that modification of life-matter that acts in walking.

Padma ~ A synonym of Kamala.

Pala ~ A measure, a weight, about 1-1/3rd ounce.

Pam ~ The algebraic symbol for the vayu tatva. Pam is the neuter gender nominative of the letter pa, the first letter of the word pavana, a synonym of vayu.

Panchi Karana ~ Literally, the word means making fivefold. It has been roughly translated as the division into five. It means the process of a minimum of a tatva being composed with those of others. Thus, after the process, every molecule, say of the prithivi tatva, will consist of eight minima. PrithiviPrithivi /4 + Akasa /1 + Vayu /1 + Agni /1 + Apas /1 and so on. In ananda the tatvas are single. In vijnana and afterwards each is fivefold, and hence each has a color, etc.

Pani ~ Hand; manual power.

Parabrahma ~ This is now well known as the causeless cause of the Universe, the One Absolute All.

Parabrahmane ~ The dative of parabrahma; means “to parabrahma”.

Paranirvana ~ The last state in which the human soul can live and the psychic, mental, and physiological influences have no power on that.

Paravairagya ~ This is that state of the mind when its manifestations become absolutely potential, and lose all power of coming into the actual without the nod of the soul. In this state every high power makes its appearance easily in the mind.

Parmeshthi Sukta ~ The “Nasa asit” hymn noticed above is also called the Parameshthi sukta.

Patanjali ~ The author of The Aphorisms of Yoga, the science of mental application and embellishment.

Payu ~ Excretive organs; the modification of Prana that goes to make up these.

Pingala ~ The Nadi, and the system of Nadis that works in the right half of the body; the right sympathetic.

Pitrya ~ Pertaining to the fathers. Pitrya day means the lunar month.

Pitta ~ A synonym of Agni; means heat, temperature.

Prakriti ~ The undifferentiated cosmic matter.

Pralaya ~ The cessation of the creative energies of the world; the period of rest.

Pramana ~ Means of knowledge. These are: (1) the senses, (2) Inference, (3) Authority; or, in other words, the experience of others.

Prana ~ The life principle of the Universe and its localized manifestation; the life principle of man and other living beings. It consists of an ocean of the five tatvas. The suns are the different centers of the ocean of Prana. Our solar system is filled to its extreme limit with the Prana, and it is in this ocean that the various heavenly bodies move. It is held that the whole ocean of Prana with the sun and moon and other planets is a complete picture of every living organism on earth or any other planet. Hence sometimes Prana is spoken of as a person, a living being. All the manifestations of life in the body are known as minor pranas. The pulmonary manifestation is known as prana by pre-eminence. The positive phase of matter also is so-called as distinguished from Rayi, the negative phase of life matter.

Pranayama ~ The practice of drawing deep breaths, keeping the indrawn air inside as long as possible, and then breathing the lungs out as empty as possible.

Pranamaya Kosha ~ The coil of life; the life principle.

Prapathaka ~ A chapter of the Chandogya Upanishad.

Prasnopnishat ~ One of the Upanishads.

Pratyaksha ~ Perception.

Prayaga ~ Really the conjunction of the three rivers, the Ganges, the Juman, and the now nowhere visible Saraswati at Allahabad. In the terminology of the Science of Breath, it is applied to the conjunction of the right and left streams of breath.

Prithivi ~ One of the five tatvas; the odoriferous ether.

Punarvasu ~ One of the lunar mansions.

Puraka ~ The process in pranayama of filling the lungs with as much air as possible, drawing as deep a breath as possible.

Purvabhadrapada ~ One of the lunar mansions.

Purvashadha ~ One of the lunar mansions.

Pusha ~ The name of the Nadi that goes to the right ear.

Pushya ~ One of the lunar mansions.


Raga ~ (1) That manifestation of the mind that seeks to retain pleasure-giving objects; (2) A mode of music. There are eight modes of music, and each of these has several minor modes called Ragini. Each ragini has again several harmonies.

Ragini ~ See above under Raga.

Ram ~ Neuter nominative of Ra; stands as the algebraic symbol for the agni tatva.

Rasana ~ The organ of taste.

Raurava ~ The hell in which the qualities of the taijas tatva are found in painful excess.

Rayi ~ The negative phase of matter, distinguished from the positive phase by its impressibility. In fact, it is the cooler life-matter, while the hotter is named Prana.

Rechaka ~ The practice in pranayama of driving the breath out of the lungs.

Revati ~ One of the lunar mansions.

Rohini ~ The fourth lunar mansion.

Rigveda ~ The oldest and most important of the Vedas.

Ritambhara ~ The faculty of Psychic Perception by which the realities of the world are known with as much truth and exactness as the external things known by ordinary perception.


Sa ~ The algebraic symbol for the process of inspiration. The Shakti, the receptive modification of life matter, also is called Sa.

Sadhakapitta ~ The temperature of the heart, said to be the cause of intelligence and understanding.

Samadhi ~ Trance; the state in which the mind is so much absorbed in the object of its pursuit, or in the soul, as to forget itself in the object of its attention.

Samana ~ That manifestation of life which in the abdomen is said to cause the absorption and distribution of food all over the body.

Samprajnata ~ A kind of samadhi; that in which the mental application is rewarded by the discovery of truth.

Sandhi ~ The conjunction of the positive and negative phases of any force. This is a synonym of susumna. The conjunction of two tatvas. When one tatva passes into another the akasa intervenes. In fact, there can be no change from one state of matter to another without this all-pervading tatva intervening. This intervening state, however, is not the Sandhi. By tatwic conjunction a new conjunct tatva is always produced. This is indicated by the length of the breath. Thus, when the agni and the vayu conjoin, the length is somewhere between these two. Similarly for other tatvas. If the positive and negative phases in any object make their appearance in regular immediate succession for some time, they will be said to be in conjunction (Sandhi). If coming from opposite directions, however, they cancel each other out, and the result is either akasa or susumna. The reader will perceive that there is very little difference, and sometimes none at all, in the states of akasa, sandhi, and susumna. If akasa remains stationary, it is susumna; if susumna tends towards production, it becomes akasa. In fact, akasa is that state which immediately foreshadows any other tatwic state of being.

Sansakara ~ Acquired velocity; acquired habits. A synonym of Vasana.

Saraswati ~ The goddess of speech.

Sat ~ The first state of the Universe, in which every form of the living universe, even Iswara himself, lay latent. It is that state from which the non-composite tatvas first emit.

Satya ~ Veracity; truthfulness; truth.

Savichara ~ The meditative intuition (See Nirvitarka and Nirvichara).

Savitarka ~ A kind of intuition; the verbal intuition.

Shakti ~ A power; the negative phase of any force; the consort of a god, the god being the positive phase of the force.

Shambhu ~ The male principle; the positive phase of matter. A name of the god Siva.

Shankhini ~ A Nadi, with all its ramifications, which goes to the anus.

Shastra ~ The sacred books of the Hindus. The six schools of philosophy.

Shatabhisha ~ A lunar mansion.

Shatachaksa Nirupana ~ The name of a work on the philosophy of the Tantrists.

Shelesha ~ A lunar manion.

Shivagama ~ The name of an ancient book. The present treatise on the Science of Breath contains only the subject of one chapter of that book, which now is nowhere to be found.

Shiveta Ketu ~ The name of an ancient philosopher who is represented in the Chandogya Upanishad as reading Brahmavidya with his father Gautama.

Shravana ~ A lunar mansion.

Shrotra ~ ear; the auditory phase of life-matter.

Smriti ~ The faculty of retentive memory.

Sthula ~ Gross.

Sthula Sarira ~ The gross body as distinguished from the higher subtle principles.

Sukha ~ The feeling of pleasure.

Surya ~ The sun.

Surya Mandal ~ The portion of space where the influence of the sun reaches.

Suryaloka ~ The solar sphere.

Susumna (or: Sushumna) ~ (1) The Nadi that spreads in the middle of the body; (2) the spinal cord with all its ramifications; (3) That state of force which is pregnant with both the negative and positive phases; when neither the moon-breath nor the sun-breath flows, the Prana is said to be in susumna.

Susupti (or: Sushupti) ~ Dreamless sleep. The state of the soul when the manifestations of the mind experienced in dream are at rest.

Swara ~ The current of the life-wave; the Great Breath; the breath of man. The Great Breath, on whatever plane of life, has five modifications, the tatvas.

Swapna ~ A dream.

Swati ~ A lunar mansion.


T ~ The name of one of those Nadis that ramify from the heart.

Th ~ Ditto another.

Taijas (or: Tejas) ~ Pertaining to the agni tatva; the luminiferous ether. Rarely, a synonym of Raurava.

Tamas ~ A synonym of Avidya.

Tantra ~ This is a class of treatises on the science of the human body and soul. They comprehend a good deal of yoga. The language that they use is highly symbolic, and the formulas of their faith are little more than algebraic expressions without any available key at present.

Tatva ~ (1) A mode of motion; (2) the central impulse that keeps matter in a certain vibratory state; (3) a distinct form of vibration. The Great Breath gives to Prakriti five sorts of elementary extension. The first and the most important of these is the akasa tatva; the remaining four are the prithivi, the vayu, the apas, and the agni. Every form and every motion is a manifestation of these tatvas singly or in conjunction, as the case may be.

Treta ~ The second cycle of the Chaturyugi, a period of 3,600 daiva years.

Trinshansha ~ The 30th part of a sign of the Zodiac.

Truti ~ (1) A division of time: 150 trutis equal one second; (2) a measure of space; as much as the sun or moon takes a truti of time to move over. A truti is a perfect picture of the whole ocean of Prana. It is the astral germ of every living organism.

Tura ~ The higher notes of music opposed to Komala.

Turya ~ The fourth state of consciousness. The state of absolute consciousness. The first three states are: (1) waking, (2) dreaming, and (3) sleep.

Twak ~ Skin.


Udana ~ (1) That manifestation of life that carries us upwards; (2) that manifestation of life which recedes into rest.

Uddalaka ~ An ancient philosopher who appears as teacher in the Prasnopnishat.

Upastha ~ The sexual organs.

Uttara Gita ~ The name of a tantric work.

Uttara Bhadhrapada ~ A lunar mansion.

Uttarashadhna ~ Ditto another.


  • Vaidhrita (or: Vaidhriti) ~ There are 27 yogas in the ecliptic. Colebrook says, "The Yoga is nothing else than a mode of indicating the sum of the longitudes of the sun and moon", and so it is. The Vaidhrita is the 27th Yoga.
  • Vairagya ~ Indifference to the pleasing objects of the world.
  • Vak ~ The goddess of speech; another name of Saraswati.
  • Vam (V) ~ The algebraic symbol of the apas tatva, from Vari, a synonym of apas.
  • Vasana ~ The habit of and tendency towards doing an act that is engendered in the mind by the doing of the act.
  • Vayu ~ One of the tatvas; the tangiferous ether.
  • Vedas ~ The four sacred books of the Hindus.
  • Vedoveda ~ A manifestation of the susumna.
  • Vetala ~ An evil spirit.
  • Vichara ~ Meditation . For the philosophical definition see the Essay on Yoga.
  • Vijnana ~ Literally, it means knowing. Technically, it means the Psychic Matter and its manifestations.
  • Vijnanamaya Kosha ~ The psychic coil of the spirit.
  • Vikalpa ~ Complex imagination. For a detailed definition, see the Essay on Mind.
  • Vina ~ A string instrument of music.
  • Vindu (or: Bindu) ~ Point.
  • Vipala ~ A measure of time: 2/5 of a second.
  • Viparyaya ~ False knowledge; one of the five manifestations of mind recognized by the sage Patanjali.
  • Virat ~ The immediate father of Manu, and son of Brahma. The akasa state of psychic matter from which proceed the mental tatvas that constitute Manu.
  • Vishakha ~ A lunar asterism.
  • Vishamabhava ~ Unequal state. This is a manifestation of susumna. In this the breath flows one moment out of one nostril and next out of the other (see Notes on verse 121).
  • Vishramopanishad ~ The name of an Upanishad.
  • Vishuva (or: Vishuvat) ~ This is a manifestation of susumna (See Notes on verse 121).
  • Vitarka ~ Philosophical curiosity.
  • Vyana ~ That manifestation of life that causes every part of the body to keep its shape.
  • Vyasa ~ An ancient philosopher, the author of the Mahabharata, a commentary on The Aphorisms of Yoga, the aphorisms of the Vedanta and other works.
  • Vyatipata ~ One of the 27 yogas (See Vaidhrita).


  • Yaksha ~ A class of demigods.
  • Yakshini ~ The female Yaksha.
  • Yamuna ~ Term used for the flowing left Nadi.
  • Yashaswani ~ The Nadi that goes to the left ear.
  • Yoga ~ The science of application, attention, and the embellishment of the human mind.