definitions commentary




Sadhu also spelled saddhu and swamy, Sanskrit sadhu and svamin, in India, religious or holy men. Sadhu signifies any religious ascetic or holy man. The class of sadhus includes not only genuine saints of many faiths but also men (and occasionally women) who have left their homes in order to concentrate on physical and spiritual disciplines.

Pooja in Hinduism, ceremonial worship, ranging from brief daily rites in the home to elaborate temple ritual. The components of a pooja (or puja) vary greatly according to the sect, community, and part of the country.

Avatar Sanskrit Avatara (“descent”), in Hinduism, the incarnation of a deity in human or animal form to counteract some particular evil in the world. The term usually refers to these 10 appearances of Vishnu: Matsya (fish), Kurma (tortoise), Varaha (boar), Narasimha (half man, half lion), Vamana (dwarf), Parasurama (Rama with the axe), Rama (hero of the Ramayana epic), Krishna (the divine cowherd), Buddha, and Kalkin (the incarnation).

Moksha also spelled Moksa, Sanskrit Moksa (“release”), also called Mukti, or Apavarga, in Hinduism and Jainism, the ultimate spiritual goal, designating the individual soul's release from the bonds (bandha) of transmigration. The soul, once entered upon a bodily existence, remains trapped in a chain of successive rebirths (samsara) until it has reached perfection or the enlightenment that allows it release, or moksha.

Shanthi or Shanti denotes the capacity to bear success and failure, joy and misery with perfect equanimity. It is thought to be deep down as the very core of our being. Only thoughts of God and intense love for Him bring peace. As worldly thoughts diminish, thoughts of God increase. Normally, the mind desires worldly things all the time. As the desires are reduced to nothing, peace becomes stronger and the seeker experiences shanthi.

Kumbh Mela is held by turns in four different cities in India: Allahabad, Hardwar, Ujjain, and Nasik. The festival is conducted in each of these cities every dozen years or so. On 14 April 1998 the population of Hardwar in North India swelled to the breaking point with the addition of an estimated ten million pilgrims who had come to bathe in the Ganges.

The center of the pilgrimage in Hardwar is a large camp across the Ganges River. Prominent among the religious groups that regularly return to the Kumbh (Mela means festival) every twelve years are those from renunciant communities. On the main bathing day they lead pilgrims in the millions in a parade from the camp down to bathe in the Ganges. The goal of the bathers at Kumbh Mela is a part of the Ganges known as the Brahma Kund, which is sometimes held to be a place where some of the ambrosia of immortality was spilled in the primeval tug of war between the gods and demons. As such, this would be a particularly propitious place to escape the pains of rebirth.

photo: Rev. Wendel Cover
back to A Passion for Missions