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arya

Name of a religious ideology enshrined in Vedic literature and embodied in members of the brahmin class.

deity

God or goddess. Hinduism is characterised by its multiplicity of deities believed to perform different roles for their workshippers.

Sanskritt

Language of the Vedas and a huge body of later literature; regarded by Hindus throughout history as a sacred language.

Vedas

"Sacred knowledge, sacred texts" - the most ancient and sacred Indian scriptures (approximately 1200-600 BCE) organised in four collections (rig, Sama, Yajur, Atharva) and consisting of hymns of praise, ritual/ceremonial manuals and mystical/philosophical treaties (Upanishads).

karma

Originally ritual action; later meaning all human actions. The law of karma refers to the belief that all human actions have consequences that affect not only one's present life but also future lives until moksha is achieved.

brahmin

The male priestly class (Varna).

Brahman

the name given to Ultimate Reality or Cosmic Self.

atman

The essence or principal of life; Ultimate Reality as present within a human being - not a 'soul' or 'spirit'.

asceticism

The act of performing bodily austerities designed to acquire magical power or purify the body.

moksha

liberation or release from samsara; the end of rebirth for the human being. Different philosophical and religious strands in Hinduism describe Moksha differently- for instance, the attainment of union with God or knowledge of one's identity with Brahman.

Puja

Worship; the ritual that honours a god or goddess as a divine guest, usually in a temple, but can also be a domestic ritual.

Darshan

Seeing God; viewing the image of the divine indwelled by a God or goddess in a temple or other holy place

Sva dharma

(own dharma) This is the framework of duties and obligations in which each person works out his/her religious practice

Samsara

A name for existence seen as bondage to a set of ongoing rebirths caused by karmic action

Guru

A religious teacher; often regarded as an enlightened being; sometimes the central object of worship in a cult

Bhakit

Loving devotion to a personal God or Goddess and sharing in the loving grace of the divine person

Avatars

the earthly manifestation of a God or Goddess taken with the specific intention of restoring dharma when it is in a state of decline.

Varna

Class into which a person is born; there are four classes in Ancient Indian society (not caste)

Dharma

the laws of the cosmos and also the moral and religious duties, laws and customs that are in harmony with the natural law. Sadharana dharma is the general code of Hindu ethics.

shiva

destroyer

vishnu

A Hindu god considered the preserver of the world

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