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The Yoga Dictionary

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The Sanskrit language is rich in words to communicate ideas about spiritual life, yoga, and God realization. This dictionary, appearing by installments in BACK TO GODHEAD, focuses upon the most important of these words (and, occasionally, upon relevant English terms) and explains what they mean.

DhyanaDhyana, meditation, is one of the steps in the eightfold yoga system of Patanjali.

The process of dhyana directly precedes samadhi, or complete absorption in the Supreme. The eightfold yoga system is also known as dhyana-yoga.

Dhyana-yoga was practiced many thousands of years ago, in the Age of Satya, or Truth, when people had extremely long life spans. The sage Valmiki, author of the epic Ramayana, practiced dhyana for sixty thousand years before he reached perfection.

Because of our short life span in the present age, the Age of Kali, dhyana-yoga is impractical. The Srimad-Bhagavatam advises that the best process of spiritual realization in the Age of Kali is the chanting of the holy names of Krsna (Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare).

In the Age of Satya the dhyana-yogi achieved perfection by meditating on the form of the Lord within his heart, but in the Age of Kali one can attain all the benefits of dhyana simply by chanting Hare Krsna.

Draupadi—Draupadi, a great devotee of Lord Krsna, was the wife of the five Pandava brothers.

When the Pandavas lost all they had in a rigged gambling match, the evil Duryodhana induced them to place Draupadi as a bet. The Pandavas lost, and Duryodhana’s brother Duhsasana then tried to strip Draupadi naked before an assembly of princes and kings.

At first Draupadi tried to hold on to her sari. But finally, realizing her helplessness, she completely surrendered to Lord Krsna. Krsna then supplied her a sari of unlimited length, thus frustrating Duhsasana’s attempt and saving Draupadi’s honor.

Drona—Drona, also known as Dronacarya, was the military teacher of both the Pandavas, who were great devotees of Lord Krsna, and their nondevotee rivals the Kurus. Drona too was a devotee of Lord Krsna, but political ties obliged him to fight on the side of the Kurus. Drona taught both the pious Arjuna and the impious Duryodhana the art of fighting, but he considered Arjuna his best student.

Durga—the goddess who personifies the energy of the material world.

As the creator, maintainer, and destroyer of the material universe, Durga has immense power. Therefore many people worship her for material boons.

Durga’s power, however, like that of all the demigods, comes from Lord Krsna. In the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna says that the material energy works under his direction. If one worships Durga, one will undoubtedly receive material benedictions, hut the Bhagavad-gita says that such worship is for the less intelligent. The truly intelligent person worships only the Supreme Lord, the ultimate cause of all causes.

Durvasa Muni—a powerful mystic who was known to be easily angered and easily pleased.

Durvasa once offended King Ambarisa, a gentle devotee of the Lord. So to punish Durvasa, Lord Krsna sent His personal weapon, a flaming disc called the Sudarsana cakra. Durvasa tried to escape, even by going to Lord Krsna’s abode in the spiritual world, but the Lord told him to go and beg pardon from King Ambarisa, who forgave Durvasa. In this way the Lord showed that He doesn’t forgive offenses against His devotees, but His devotee, out of compassion, forgives all offenses against himself.

On another occasion, Durvasa visited the house of the Pandavas, five brothers who were fully devoted to Lord Krsna. Draupadi, the wife of the Pandavas, had a special dish that would feed unlimited numbers of guests as long as she herself had not eaten. But Durvasa, at the request of Duryodhana, the Pandavas’ evil cousin, came after Draupadi had finished her meal. Duryodhana knew that if the Pandavas failed to offer food to welcome Durvasa and his ten thousand disciples, Durvasa would become angry and curse the Pandavas. In anxiety, Draupadi prayed to Lord Krsna, who came and promptly ate a morsel of food that had stuck to one of the pots. Because Krsna was satisfied, Durvasa and his disciples were automatically satisfied, and Draupadi and the Pandavas were saved from Durvasa’s wrath.

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