Definitions of Holi people & institutions
I notice that people often use these terms very loosely without understanding their underlying meanings. Additionally, when I engage in defining these terms, many individuals adopt the “all are the same” philosophy. They employ the same old, meaningless logic that all gods are the same. Unfortunately, they fail to grasp the distinction between “Devta” and “God,” concluding that since there are many “devatas,” there must be many gods. This Western mindset hinders the understanding of Bhartiya culture and often leads to fruitless arguments. In this article, I attempt to define some key terms based on my understanding of the Sanatana Knowledge system. You are most welcome to improve these definitions if necessary. I hope this helps my readers.
Who is Muni (मुनि): ?
A Muni is one who engages in Mananam, the act of thoughtful contemplation and introspection. A Muni maintains the vow of silence to prevent distractions during penance (tapas). This individual is adept at mental speculations and deep thinking, often living in retirement, meditating, and observing the vow of noble silence (mauna).
Who is Rishi (ऋषि): ?
A Rishi invokes deities through Mantra and is considered a Mantra drishta. Possessing extensive knowledge of Shashtras and the science behind them, a Rishi’s utterances are referred to as आर्ष वाक्य, and they are regarded as inherently true.
Who is Sapta Rishi सप्तऋषि: ?
The earliest list of the Seven Rishis includes Agastya, Atri, Bhardwaja, Gautam, Jamadagni, Vashista, and Visvamitra according to Jaiminiya Brahmana 2.218-221. Another list, mentioned in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.2.6, comprises Gautama, Bharadvaja, Visvamitra, Jamadagni, Vashista, Kasyapa, Atri, and Brighu. Gopatha Brahmana 1.2.8 lists Nava Rishis as Vashista, Visvamitra, Jamadagni, Gautama, Bharadvaja, Gungu, Agastya, Bhrigu, and Kaśyapa.
Who is Maharshi महऋषि: : ?
A Maharshi is a Rishi of profound spiritual attainment, such as Raman Maharshi.
Who is Rajarshi राजऋषि: ?
A Rajarshi is a king deeply spiritual and esteemed as a Rishi, for example, Rajarishi Janak.
Who is Devarshi देवऋषि: ?
A Devarshi is a celestial being who also holds the status of a Rishi, exemplified by Narada.
Who is Brahmarshi ब्रह्मऋषि: ?
A Brahmarshi is a Rishi who has experienced the supreme Spiritual Truth, as seen in figures like Vasistha and Vishwamitra.
Who is Sadhu साधु: ?
A Sadhu is an individual with righteous behavior, known for their nobility and humility, generally considered a virtuous person.
Who is Sant सन्त: ?
A Sant is someone who has undergone extensive penance and is eligible to impart knowledge for the betterment of society.
Who is Sanyasi सन्यासी: ?
A Sanyasi is an individual who has renounced everything materialistic to pursue higher truth. It is crucial to recognize that true renunciation involves mental abandonment, as merely giving up physical possessions without mental detachment holds little significance.
Who is Yogi योगी: ?
A Yogi is a person with complete control over body, mind, and intellect. Advanced Yogis even control voluntary bodily functions.
Who is Bhakti-Yogi भक्तियोगी: ?
A Bhakti-Yogi is an individual who, without expecting financial returns, dedicates their actions to remain close to their chosen deity.
Who is Karma-Yogi कर्मयोगी: ?
A Karma-Yogi is someone who selflessly contributes to society, nation, or the surrounding environment without expecting financial returns.
Who is Siddha सिद्ध: ?
An enlightened individual who has achieved oneness with a specific aspect of nature and attained Siddhi. It is done by Tantra Sadhana. It is not necessary that Siddha has to be a BrahmaGyanai or Self realized or know the scriptures.
Who is Acharya आचार्य: ?
One who imparts spiritual knowledge in an educational institution (Vidhyalaya) and leads by example.
Who is Shikshak (Teacher) शिक्षक: ?
Educators in Vidhyalayas who teach non-spiritual subjects up to the 5th class. They share their knowledge based on their own education. Not from the realization or inner experiences.
Who is Adhyapak (Lecturer/Teacher) अध्यापक : ?
Similar to Shikshaks, they teach non-spiritual subjects from the 6th to 12th class in educational institutions (Vidhyalayas). Their teaching is rooted in their own educational background.
Who is Pravakta (Assistant Professor)प्रवक्ता : ?
Like Shikshaks, they teach non-spiritual subjects degree colleges, bringing their academic knowledge into the classroom.
Who is Pradhyapak (Professor) प्रवक्ता : ?
Similar to Pravaktas, they teach non-spiritual subjects in educational institutions. Additionally, they are involved in administrative duties and mentor research students, bringing both teaching and research experience to their role.
Who is Guru गुरु : ?
A spiritually realized person ready to guide others on their spiritual journey.
Who is Kulguru कुलगुरु : ?
The spiritual head of a family, responsible for religious functions.
Who is Sadguru सद्गुरु : ?
An individual who has experienced the absolute truth of existence, Brahman, through rigorous Tapasya and is ready to guide others. It may be possible that a Sadguru is not wellversed in holi/ancient literature/books. A realized soul doesn’t mean he has to be bookish. Some people take different route to experience the self and oneness.
Who is School विध्यालम: ?
An institution for students from 1st to 12th class, focusing on general education.
Who is Gurukulam गुरुकुलम् : ?
Similar to a school, Gurukulams provide education from 1st to 12th class, headed by a Guru, and follow a traditional teaching style. Students often reside on campus, creating a distinct learning environment.
Who is VishaVidhyalaya (University) विश्वविध्यालय: ?
An institution for higher studies, offering courses in spiritual or non-spiritual subjects.
Who is Matham मठम्: ?
A “Matha” is a monastic or religious institution in Hinduism. It is typically associated with a particular sect or tradition and serves as a center for spiritual and philosophical teachings. A Matha is headed by a spiritual leader known as a “Peethadhipati,” who holds a position of authority within a specific philosophical or religious tradition. Mathas play a crucial role in preserving and disseminating religious and philosophical knowledge. They may also be involved in educational activities, charitable work, and the promotion of spiritual practices.
Who is Ashrama आश्रम : ?
An “Ashram” is a hermitage, retreat, or dwelling place for individuals, especially those on a spiritual or ascetic path. Ashrams are places where people come to live a disciplined and contemplative life under the guidance of a spiritual teacher. An Ashram may be led by a Guru who provides guidance on spiritual practices, ethical living, and self-realization. The primary purpose of an Ashram is to provide a conducive environment for spiritual growth, meditation, and learning. Individuals may come to an Ashram to study scriptures, practice yoga, and lead a more focused and disciplined life.
Who is Shankaracharya शंकराचार्य: ?
Peethadhipati Shankar Matham. Adi Shankara is best known for his propagation of Advaita Vedanta, a non-dualistic philosophical system that asserts the ultimate reality (Brahman) as devoid of distinctions, and the individual soul (Atman) as identical to Brahman. To ensure the continued propagation of Advaita Vedanta and the preservation of Vedic knowledge, Adi Shankara established four mathas in different regions of India. The head or spiritual leader of each matha is given the title “Shankaracharya,” symbolizing the lineage’s connection to Adi Shankara. The Shankaracharyas of these mathas are considered spiritual authorities and play a role in the preservation and dissemination of Advaita Vedanta teachings.
Who is Madhavacharya माधवाचार्य: ?
Peethadhipati Madhav Matham. Madhvacharya was the founder of the Dvaita Vedanta school, which emphasizes a dualistic understanding of reality, asserting a clear distinction between the individual soul (Jiva) and the Supreme Reality (Brahman).
Who is Nimbarkacharya निम्वाडकराचार्य : ?
Peethadhipati Nimbarka Matham. Nimbarkacharya’s philosophy is known as “Dvaitadvaita” or “Bhedabheda,” which emphasizes the simultaneous oneness and difference between the individual soul (Jiva) and the Supreme Reality (Brahman). He particularly highlights the concept of Radha-Krishna worship.