Mahâbhârata : one of the two majestic epic poems of India, comprising 200 000 verses. Specialists state that it has been a collective work, elaborated along centuries; the present form would date of the 5th century about. It's a long saga, most probably partly based on historic facts which occured around 2500 B.C., between two royal families, the Pândava and the Kaurava. Every Indian knows this story, which is supposed to have been drawn up by Ganesh under the dictation of Sage Vyâsa. In the Part six can be found the Bhagavad Gîtâ

Mahâbhûta : the five Elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether)

Mahârâja : a title used to name kings, as early as during the Kushan dynasty (2th to 3th A.D.). The queen is the Mahârânî

Mahârâshtra : a State in south-west India. The most known touristic locations are the Elephanta island, off Mumbai, and the Ellora and Ajanta caves, near Aurangabad

Mahâvîra : founder of the Jain religion, a contemporary of Buddha. He is, because of that, considered as the 24th Tirthankara, the divine Masters of this religion

Mahâyâna : form of Buddhism, also called "the Great Vehicle", practised in northern Asian countries (Tibet, Nepal, Japan). However, one will observe that the Tibetan Buddhism has experienced deep transformations. Thus, it has incorporated the ancient local Bön religion; for these reasons, it is usually designated as the Vajrayana. The Buddhim of the Small Vehicle (Hînayâna also called Theravâda or Buddhism of forefathers), is practised in south Asia countries, such as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam). The Mahâyâna was the consequence of a schism which occured at the very beginning of our era. The Hînayâna put emphasis on the objective of individual Liberation (Moksha) of the practitioner. We must understand Liberation as liberation of conditioned behaviors and thoughts; however, the understanding of this concept would require long developments... The Mahâyâna is characterized, among other features, by the boddhitsattva vow, whose aim is the liberation of all living beings

Mahmoud Shah : or Mahmoud Khalji, was the sultan of the Mâlvâ region from 1436 to 1469; he destroyed many hindu temples. Minister of the Ghûri dynasty, he poisoned the king, seize the power and took the sultan title. He was the builder of the Mandu fortress where he settled his capital city

Mahîshâsuramardinî : very famous Durgâ form. According to the myth, the goddess, riding on a lion, brandishing Her sixteen arms who hold powerful weapons, put to death the buffalo-demon Mahîshâsura. One finds this type of representation in many places, for instance in Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu

Makara : mythical animal, mount of the goddess Gangâ. The makara is also a decorative design often times used in south indian temples, mainly those erected by the Chalukya and Hoysala dynasties. This mythical animal owns paws of a lion which permit him to walk silently, the body of a pig which allows him to digest any food, an elephant trunk, a formidable weapon indeed, a crocodile jaw which never releases its prey, very sharp monkey eyes, careful cow ears and finally a spreaded out peacock tail, a symbol of beauty

Mâlâ : a rosary made of 108 grains, used for the mental repetition of a mantra (japa -litanies- practices). Being one the Ganesh emblems, the mâlâ has only 50 grains, as many as sanskrit letters, since Ganesh is, among other functions, the Protector of literature. Used grains are those of the rudraksha fruit (a shrub, Eleocarpus ganitras), known to be auspicious for Shiva worship (Rudra is one of the Shiva names). In the Vishnu worship, one uses tulsi (basil) grains

Malla : dynasty of the Kathmandu valley (Nepal) who ruled from the 13th to the 18th century. The acme in monuments and statue crafting, during the Malla period, is mainly later than the 16th century

Manas : Subtle level of thought, manas is mind, i.e. the inner sense through which the external world is perceived; manas is in charge to coordinate the perceptions and names them according to his previous experiences

Mandapa : pillared hall in indian temples. The mandapa is often large in size (hundred-pillar mandapa, thousand-pillar mandapa - in fact, there are less in number); pillars are most times well ornamented and display carvings of gods and goddesses, various characters and mythical animals. The mandapa comes before the entrance of ardha-mandapa (ardha means half), and ardha mandapa precedes the small hall which gives access to the garbhagriha, the inner very holy sanctuary of the temple. It's generally not permitted to go inside the latter

Mandara : mythical mountain which, at the very beginning of the world existence, was used as a spindle to churn the "Ocean of milk", in order to obtain amrita, the nectar of immortality. Vishnu took the form of the Kurma turtle and put the Mount Mandara on His shell; all gods and demons reassembled, caught Vasuki, the Serpent, as a rope, and started churning. Marvellous things, gods and godesses (among whom the wonderful Lakshmî, goddess of Wealth and Beauty, who was also the Vishnu Shakti) and the amrita nectar came out of it. Gods caught it immediately, drank it and became immortal. They subdued the demons and sent them to the underground worlds

Mantra : short sentence made of phonemes adressed to a god; for instance : Om Ganeshaya Namaha (Om, I salute Lord Ganesh). The same mantra, repeated many many times by the practitioner, gets a specific inner energy which permits to reach states of higher consciousness. Usually, a mantra is said to be "efficient" only if it has been given to the disciple by his spiritual master (guru). Each deity is closely linked with one or several particular mantras. The first and most important mantra is OM. The tantric mantras are often made of a set of monosyllabic bija-mantras, and they carry strong powers; but it's difficult to practice them since their pronunciation must be perfect : if it's not, one can suffer body or spirit troubles

Manu : the first man of the Kali Yuga period. He was the mythical writer of the "Manu Laws", the sanskrit corpus of law texts aiming at ruling the religious and social life; the influence of this text has been effective for a very long time. The Purâna mention 14 Manu (lawmakers), but seven are still to come

Marâtha : is the name of the Maharashtra inhabitants. Freeing themselves from the Moghol rule, they established an empire during the 17th century and conquered the Baroda, Gwalior and Indore States to found a confederation. They fighted against British armies but without success, since they were finally defeated and submitted to the British Empire in 1818, after three successive wars within 40-year span

Marwar : region in west Rajasthan, between the Mounts Aravalli and the Thar desert. In former times, this region was an independent State, from the 14th to the 18th century; Jodhpur was the capital. A famous painting school of miniatures developed there

Mâtrikâ (Sapta) : the Goddess is described under the form of Seven-Mothers called Sapta (= Seven) Mâtrikâ. They are told to be similar to the seven matrix or vowels (the basis of any language), since speeking is knowing's mother. The seven mothers are : "Power of the boundless Being" (Brahmânî), "Power of the transcendent Lord" (Maheshvarî), "Power of the Teenager" (Kaumarî), "Power of the all-pervading" (Vaishnavî), "Power of the Boar" (Varatrî), "Power of the Authority" (Indrani), "Deadly Goddess of the demons" (Châmundâ); Ganesh often uses to attend them on ancient representations

Mâyâ : a Vedanta term generally translated by "illusion", illusory nature or Power of Illusion; this term is used to designate the force, the power, created by the world of appearances, who deeply modifies the Pure, Unaffected Reality, and leads people to see and feel things as they are not. Mâyâ is simultaneously cause and effect of ignorance, lack of true knowledge (avidya). Therefore, Mâyâ is Power of Creation (Shakti). The Power of Mâyâ creates the forms of the manifested world but, by themselves, these forms don't have any substantial reality, thus being illusory. However, it would be more accurate to consider that they only exist in a relative reality. Therefore, from the point of view of the Absolute, there is only One Reality, unknowable, which is named as Brahman. This Reality is beyond any Manifestation, it has no qualification and stay permanently under all things which seem to be the Real but are not... All Manifested things are conditioned; all the phenomenons depend from each other, they are interdependant, and their so-called reality is only apparent

Mâyin : personification of Mâyâ, Illusion; we may understand this concept if we consider that Mâyâ is always acting in the Manifestation

Modaka : favourite sweet that Ganesh generally holds in His left hand, sometimes with His trunk top; one also names it modaka-patra or modaka-bhânda. It's made of milk and sugar. In some regions, one uses different sweet to offer to Ganesh : laddu, payasam, for exemple

Moha : mistake, error, in the esoteric meaning that it is generated by a lack of adequate knowledge (metaphysic understanding) = Avidya, related to the ultimate essence of all things

Moksha : Liberation from the usual human condition, leading to the end of the incarnation cycle of the Atman. Moksha may be obtained by yogic or tantric practices, and by many other paths. But all of them require full dedication... and a long practice, most times several lives

Mooladhara chakra : See chakra

Mridangam : drum from south India. It has two oval faces of different size; the artist plays with fingers to mark the Bhârata-nâtyam dance rhythm

Mudrâ : "seal", hand position which has a particular meaning; the palm orientation, the position of each finger convey a symbolic sense. Many mudrâ are displayed by buddhist Mahâyâna deities. They express the mental attitude and the powers of the deity. Mudrâs are also used by bhârata-natyam dancers. The mudrâ displayed by Ganesh are not specific ones; they usually are the abhaya mudrâ (hand gesture intended to dispel fear) and the varada mudrâ (hand gesture which provides boons). For abhaya mudrâ, hand is placed at chest level, palm open forward, fingers strait; for varada mudrâ, hand is open, palm forward, fingers pointing down

Muhammad bin-Tughlûq : (1325-1351). After he murdered his father, this muslim ruler transfered the headquarters of his government to Deogirî (Dekkan) in 1327. Although a literate man, he was a very cruel king. He died from fever in the Sind area. He belonged to the turkisk muslim dynasty of Delhi who succeeded to the Khaljî dynasty in 1320, then was replaced by the Sayyîd dynasty in 1398

Mukuta : chignon worn by ascetics; diadems and high head-dress of some deities are also named mukuta

Mûshaka : rat or mouse, usual mount (vâhana) of Ganesh

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