Eastern Spirituality

Glossary Contents: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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The Eight Consciousnesses is a classification developed in the tradition of the Yogacara school of Buddhism. They enumerate the five senses, supplemented by the mind, defilements of the mind, and finally the fundamental store-house consciousness, which is the basis of the other seven.

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It was a city where the Pandavas are said to have lived here with their mother, Kunti, when they were exiled to the forest and escaped from the burning of house of lac. Ekachakra is a small village, located 20 km away from the town of Rampurhat in the Birbhum District of West Bengal. Within Hindu tradition, the five Pandavas from the epic, Mahabharata are described as staying in Ekachakra during their years in exile. It is also famous as the birthplace of Nityananda Rama (b 1474 CE), a principal religious figure in the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition.

The village extends north and south for an area of about eight miles. Other villages, namely Viracandra-pura and Virabhadra-pura, are situated within the area of the village of Ekacakra. In honor of Virabhadra Goswami (the son of Nityananda), these places are renowned as Viracandra-pura and Virabhadra-pura.

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Ekadashi, also spelled as Ekadasi, is the eleventh lunar day (tithi) of the shukla (bright) or krishna (dark) paksha (fortnight) of every lunar month in the Hindu calendar (Panchang). In Hinduism and Jainism it is considered a spiritually beneficial day and is usually observed by a partial fast. Beans and grains are not eaten during Ekadasi, as on this day these two foods are believed to be contaminated by sin. Only fruits, vegetables and milk products are eaten during Ekadasi. This period of abstention runs from sunrise on the day of Ekadasi to sunrise on the day following Ekadasi.

Two Ekadasis occur in one month according to positions of the moon. The progression of the moon from full moon to new moon is divided into fifteen equal arcs. Each arc measures one lunar day, called tithi: The time it takes the moon to traverse that distance is the length of that lunar day. Ekadashi refers to the 11 tithi, or lunar day. The eleventh tithi therefore corresponds to a precise phase of the waxing and waning moon: In the bright half of the lunar month, the moon will appear roughly 3/4 full on Ekadasi, and in the dark half of the lunar month, the moon will be about 3/4 dark on Ekadasi.

Bhagavata Purana (sk. IX, adhy. 4) notes the observation of Ekadashi by Ambarisha, a devotee of Vishnu.

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He was a young prince of the Nishadha tribes, who achieves a skill level parallel to the great Arjuna, despite Drona's rejection of him. He was a member of low caste and he wished to study in the gurukulam of Dronacharya.

Eklavya (Sanskrit: éklavya) is a character from the epic Mahābhārata. He was a young prince of the Nishadha, a confederation of jungle tribes in Ancient India. He was son of Vyatraj Hiranyadhanus, the king of the outcasts in the Kingdom of Magadha. Eklavya aspired to study archery in the gurukul of Guru Dronacharya (Drona), the greatest known teacher in the use of weaponry and martial art knowledge at the time.

Eklavya sincerely sought the mentorship of Drona in weaponry and martial art. However, since Eklavya belonged to the lower castes, he was denied access to Drona's mentorship. But because Eklavya was self-motivated and was determined to learn from Drona, what he did is a phenomenal feat of dedication and imagination strategized to extraordinary learning activity leading to mastery of the art. Eklavya created an image of Drona and took the image as his guru monitoring and inspiring him. He practiced the arts of Drona in front of Drona's image. When Drona and his more fortunate disciples came to practice in the forest, Eklavya used to secretly watch from behind the trees and build upon those tips by self-practicing and showing his work to the pseudo guru he created himself in the image of Drona.

Eklavya is called as one of the foremost of kings in the Rajasuya Yajna where he honours Yudhishthira with his shoes. Though he didn't have his right thumb, he was noted as a very powerful archer and charioteer.

He was killed in battle by Krishna, who hurled a rock at him.

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Eknath Easwaran (1910–1999, given name Easwaran, family name Eknath) was born into an ancient matrilineal family in Kerala state, South India. He grew up under the close guidance of his mother’s mother, Eknath Chippu Kunchi Ammal, whom he honored throughout his life as his spiritual teacher. An unlettered village woman with a continuous awareness of God, she taught him through her example that spiritual practice is something to be lived out each day in the midst of family and community.

Growing up in British India, Easwaran first learned English in his village high school, where the doors were opened to the treasure-house of English literature. At sixteen, he left his village to attend a nearby Catholic college. There his passionate love of English literature intensified and he acquired a deep appreciation of the Christian tradition. Later, contact with the YMCA and close friendships within the Muslim and Christian communities enriched his sense of the universality of spiritual truths.

Easwaran often recalled with pride that he grew up in “Gandhi’s India” – the historic years when Mahatma Gandhi was leading India to freedom from British rule through nonviolence. As a young man, Easwaran met Gandhi and the experience of sitting near him at his evening prayer meetings left a lasting impression. The lesson he learned from Gandhi was the power of the individual: the immense resources that emerge into life when a seemingly ordinary person transforms himself completely.

After graduate work at the University of Nagpur in Central India, where he took first-class degrees in literature and in law, Easwaran entered the teaching profession, eventually returning to Nagpur to become a full professor and head of the department of English. By this time he had acquired a reputation as a writer and speaker, contributing regularly to the Times of India and giving talks on English literature for All-India Radio.

At this juncture, he would recall, “All my success turned to ashes.” Old, old questions began to come to him unbidden as he lay awake at night: Who am I? Why am I here? What is life for? These questions followed him through years of inner turbulence that would see the breakup of his arranged marriage and eventually the painful separation from his sons. The death of his grandmother in the same year as Gandhi’s assassination prompted him to turn inward. Following Gandhi’s inspiration, he became deeply absorbed in the Bhagavad Gita, India’s best-known scripture, discovering for himself the divine ground of existence described in the verses he used in meditation. Ever the teacher, he wished to share with others these profound experiences, eventually developing the method of passage meditation that today is associated with his name.

In 1959, the Fulbright exchange program offered him the opportunity to come to the United States. Soon he was giving talks on India’s spiritual tradition throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. At one such talk he met his future wife, Christine, with whom he established the organization that became the vehicle for his life’s work, the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation.

After a return to India, Easwaran came back to California in 1965, dedicating himself to the responsive American audiences that began to find their way to his classes in the turbulent Berkeley of the late 1960s, when meditation was suddenly “in the air.” His quiet yet impassioned voice reached many hundreds of students in those turbulent years.

Always a writer, Easwaran started a small press in Berkeley to serve as the publishing branch of the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation. Nilgiri Press was named after the Nilgiris, or “Blue Mountains,” in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where Easwaran had maintained a home for some years. The press moved to Tomales, California, where the Center bought property for a permanent headquarters in 1970. There Nilgiri Press did the preproduction work for his first book, Gandhi the Man, and began full book manufacturing with his Bhagavad Gita for Daily Living in 1975.

In thousands of talks and his many books Easwaran taught passage meditation and his eight-point program to an audience that now extends around the world. Rather than travel and attract large crowds, he chose to remain in one place and teach in small groups – a preference that was his hallmark as a teacher even in India. “I am still an educator,” he liked to say. “But formerly it was education for degrees; now it is education for living.”

His work is being carried forward by his wife, Christine Easwaran, who worked by his side for forty years, by his students, and by the organization he founded, the Blue Mountain Center of Meditation.

Glossary Contents: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z