First Exam: Review Terms

Terms in this set (136)

Hinduism is the dominant religion of the Indian subcontinent. It comprises three major traditions, Shaivism, Vaishnavism and Shaktism, whose followers considered Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti (also called as Devi) to be the supreme deity respectively. Most of the other deities were either related to them or different forms (incarnations) of these deities. Hinduism has been called the "oldest religion" in the world, and many practitioners refer to Hinduism as "the eternal law". (Sanātana Dharma).

Hindus are persons that believe they may obtain moksha (union with Brahman) by practicing either good karma, bhakti, or jnana. The main denominations of Hinduism are Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism. These four denominations may share rituals, beliefs, and traditions, but each denomination has a different philosophy on how to achieve life's ultimate goal, Atma Jnana (self-realization). There are also smaller denominations, and newer movements. Cross-denominational influences are the Bhakti-movement, and the six orthodox schools of thought.

Shaivism - Shaivism or Saivism is one of the four most widely followed sects of Hinduism, which reveres the God Shiva as the Supreme Being. It is also known as śaiva paṁtha and Saivam. Followers of Shaivam are called "Shaivas". They believe that Shiva is All and in all, the creator, preserver, destroyer, revealer and concealer of all that is. Shaivism, like some of the other forms of Hinduism, spread to other parts of Southeast Asia, including Java, Bali, and parts of the Southeast Asian continent, including Cambodia.

Shiva is sometimes depicted as the fierce God Bhairava. Saivists are more attracted to asceticism than adherents of other Hindu sects, and may be found wandering India with ashen faces performing self-purification rituals. They worship in the temple and practice yoga, striving to be one with Shiva within.

Vaishnavism - Vaishnavism (Vaisnava dharma) is one of the major branches of Hinduism along with Shaivism, Smartism, Shaktism. It is focused on the veneration of Vishnu. Vaishnavites, or the followers of the Vishnu, lead a way of life promoting the central importance of Vishnu and his ten avatars.

Followers worship Vishnu, the Supreme Lord and preserver of the Hindu Trimurti ('three images', the Trinity), and his ten avatars, including Rama and Krishna. The adherents of this sect are generally non-ascetic, monastic and devoted to meditative practice and ecstatic chanting. They are deeply devotional. Vaishnavism is rich in saints, temples and scriptures.

Its beliefs and practices, especially the concepts of Bhakti and Bhakti Yoga, are based largely on the Upanishads, and associated with the Vedas and Puranic texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, and the Padma Purana, Vishnu Purana and Bhagavata Purana.

Shaktism - Shaktism or Shaktidharma is a denomination of Hinduism that focuses worship upon Shakti or Devi - the Hindu Divine Mother - as the absolute, ultimate Godhead. It is, along with Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and Smartism one of the primary schools of devotional Hinduism and is especially popular in Bengal and Assam.

Shaktism regards Devi (lit., 'the Goddess') as the Supreme Brahman itself, with all other forms of divinity, considered to be merely her diverse manifestations. In the details of its philosophy and practice, Shaktism resembles Shaivism. However, Shaktas, practitioners of Shaktism, focus most or all worship on Shakti, as the dynamic feminine aspect of the Supreme Divine. Shiva, the masculine aspect of divinity, is considered solely transcendent, and his worship is usually relegated to an auxiliary role.

Cults of goddess worship are ancient in India. The branch of Hinduism that worships the goddess, known as Devi, is called Shaktism. Followers of Shaktism recognize Shakti as the power that underlies the male principle, and Devi is often depicted as Parvati the consort of Shiva or as Lakshmi the consort of Vishnu. She is also depicted in other guises, such as the fierce Kali or Durga. Shaktism is closely related with Tantric Hinduism, which teaches rituals and practices for purification of the mind and body. The Mother Goddess has many forms. Some are gentle, some are fierce. Shaktas use chants, real magic, holy diagrams, yoga and rituals to call forth cosmic forces.

Over the course of its history, Shaktism has inspired great works of Sanskrit literature and Hindu philosophy, and it continues to strongly influence popular Hinduism today. Shaktism is practiced throughout the Indian subcontinent and beyond, in numerous forms, both Tantric and non-Tantric; however, its two largest and most visible schools are the Srikula (lit., family of Sri), strongest in South India, and the Kalikula (family of Kali), which prevails in northern and eastern India.
Tat Tvam Asi, a Sanskrit phrase, translated variously as "That art thou," "That thou art," "Thou art that," "You are that," or "That you are," is one of the Mahāvākyas (Grand Pronouncements) in Vedantic Sanatana Dharma. It originally occurs in the Chandogya Upanishad 6.8.7, in the dialogue between Uddalaka and his son Śvetaketu; it appears at the end of a section, and is repeated at the end of the subsequent sections as a refrain. The meaning of this saying is that the Self - in its original, pure, primordial state - is wholly or partially identifiable or identical with the Ultimate Reality that is the ground and origin of all phenomena.

Major Vedantic schools offer different interpretations of the phrase:

Advaita - absolute equality of 'tat', the Ultimate Reality, Brahman, and 'tvam', the Self, Atman.

Shuddhadvaita - oneness in "essence" between 'tat' and individual self; but 'tat' is the whole and self is a part.

Vishishtadvaita - identity of individual self as a part of the whole which is 'tat', Brahman.

Dvaitadvaita - equal non-difference and difference between the individual self as a part of the whole which is 'tat'.

Dvaita of Madhvacharya - "Sa atmaa-tat tvam asi" in Sanskrit is actually "Sa atma-atat tvam asi" or "Atman, thou art not that". In refutation of Mayavada (Mayavada sata dushani), text 6, 'tat tvam asi" is translated as "you are a servant of the Supreme (Vishnu)"

Acintya Bheda Abheda - inconceivable oneness and difference between individual self as a part of the whole which is 'tat'.
Followers of Jainism take five major vows: non-violence, not lying, not stealing (asteya), chastity, and non-attachment. Self-discipline and asceticism are thus major focuses of Jainism.

In Jainism, both ascetics and householders (śrāvaka) have to follow five major vows (vratas). Jainism encourages spiritual development through cultivation of personal wisdom and self-control through these five main vows:

Ahimsa: Ahiṃsā means nonviolence or non-injury. The first major vow taken by Jains is to cause no harm to living beings. It involves minimizing intentional and unintentional harm to other living creatures by actions, speech or thoughts. The vow of ahiṃsā is considered the foremost among the 'five vows of Jainism'.
Satya: Satya means truth. This vow is to always speak the truth. Given that nonviolence has priority, other principles yield to it whenever they conflict: in a situation where speaking truth could lead to violence, silence may be observed.
Asteya: Asteya means not stealing. Jains should not take anything that is not willingly offered. Attempting to extort material wealth from others or to exploit the weak is considered theft. Fair value should be given for all goods and services purchased.
Brahmacharya: Brahmacharya means chastity for laymen and celibacy for Jain monks and nuns. This requires the exercise of control over the senses to control indulgence in sexual activity.
Aparigraha: Aparigraha means non-possessiveness. This means non-attachment to objects, places and people. Jain monks and nuns completely renounce property and social relations.
Monks and nuns are obligated to practise the five cardinal principles of nonviolence, truthfulness, not stealing, celibacy, and non-possessiveness very strictly, while laymen are encouraged to observe them within their current practical limitations.
Practitioners believe non-violence and self-control are the means to liberation. The three main principles of Jainism are non-violence, non-absolutism (anekantavada) and non-possessiveness (aparigraha).

Self-discipline and asceticism are thus major focuses of Jainism.

Non-violence (ahimsa)

The hand with a wheel on the palm symbolizes Ahimsa in Jainism. The word in the middle is "ahiṃsā". The wheel represents the dharmachakra, which stands for the resolve to halt the saṃsāra through relentless pursuit of truth and nonviolence.
The principle of ahiṃsā is the most fundamental and well-known aspect of Jainism. In Jainism, killing any living being out of passions is hiṃsā (injury) and abstaining from such act is Ahiṃsā (noninjury or nonviolence). The everyday implementation of ahiṃsā is more comprehensive than in other religions and is the hallmark for Jain identity. Non-violence is practised first and foremost during interactions with other human beings, and Jains believe in avoiding harm to others through actions, speech and thoughts.

In addition to other humans, Jains extend the practice of nonviolence towards all living beings. As this ideal cannot be completely implemented in practice, Jains recognize a hierarchy of life, which gives more protection to humans followed by animals followed by insects followed by plants. For this reason, Jain vegetarianism is a hallmark of Jain practice, with the majority of Jains practising lacto vegetarianism. If there is violence against animals during the production of dairy products, veganism is encouraged.

After humans and animals, insects are the next living being offered protection in Jain practice with avoidance of intentional harm to insects emphasized. For example, insects in the home are often escorted out instead of killed. Intentional harm and the absence of compassion make an action more violent according to Jainism.

After nonviolence towards humans, animals and insects, Jains make efforts not to injure plants any more than necessary. Although they admit that plants must be destroyed for the sake of food, they accept such violence only inasmuch as it is indispensable for human survival. Strict Jains, including monastics, do not eat root vegetables such as potatoes, onions and garlic because tiny organisms are injured when the plant is pulled up and because a bulb or tuber's ability to sprout is seen as characteristic of a living being.

Jainism has a very elaborate framework on types of life and includes life-forms that may be invisible. Per Jainism, the intent and emotions behind the violence are more important than the action itself. For example, if a person kills another living being out of carelessness and then regrets it later, the bondage of karma (karma bandhan) is less compared to when a person kills the same living being with anger, revenge, etc. A soldier acting in self-defense is a different type of violence versus someone killing another person out of hatred or revenge. Violence or war in self-defense may be justified, but this must only be used as a last resort after peaceful measures have been thoroughly exhausted.


The second main principle of Jainism is anekantavada (non-absolutism). For Jains, non-absolutism means maintaining open-mindedness. This includes the recognition of all perspectives and a humble respect for differences in beliefs. Jainism encourages its adherents to consider the views and beliefs of their rivals and opposing parties. The principle of anekāntavāda influenced Mahatma Gandhi to adopt principles of religious tolerance and ahiṃsā.

Anekāntavāda emphasizes the principles of pluralism (multiplicity of viewpoints) and the notion that truth and reality are perceived differently from diverse points of view, no single one of which is complete.

Jains illustrate this theory through the parable of the blind men and an elephant. In this story, each blind man feels a different part of an elephant: its trunk, leg, ear, and so on. All of them claim to understand and explain the true appearance of the elephant but, due to their limited perspectives, can only partly succeed.The concept of anēkāntavāda extends to and is further explained by Syādvāda.


The third main principle in Jainism is aparigraha (non-attachment). According to Tattvarthasutra (compendium of Jain principles), "Infatuation is attachment to possessions". Jainism emphasizes taking no more than is necessary. While ownership of objects is allowed, non-attachment to possessions is taught. Followers should minimise the tendency to hoard unnecessary material possessions and limit attachment to current possessions. Further, wealth and possessions should be shared and donated whenever possible. Jainism believes that unchecked attachment to possessions can lead to direct harm to oneself and others.
Sallekhanā (also Santhara, Samadhi-marana, Sanyasana-marana), is the Jain practice of facing death voluntarily at the end of one's life. It is prescribed both for the householder and ascetics. Sallekhana is made up from two words sal (meaning 'properly') and lekhana, which means to thin out. Properly thinning out of the passions and the body is 'Sallekhanā'. Sallekhana is allowed only when a person is suffering from incurable disease or great disability or when a person is nearing his end. It is a highly respected practice among the members of the Jain community. According to Jain Agamas, sallekhanā leads to ahimsā (non-violence or non-injury), as person observing sallekhanā subjugates the passions, which are the root cause of himsā (injury or violence).

Observance of the vow of sallekhanā starts much before the approach of death. A householder persistently meditate on the verse: "I shall certainly, at the approach of death, observe sallekhanā in the proper manner." The duration of the practice could be up to twelve years or more.

Five transgressions of the vow of sallekhanā are:

desire to live
desire to die
recollection of affection for friends
recollection of the pleasures enjoyed
longing for the enjoyment of pleasures in future
The person observing sallekhana does not wish to die nor he is aspiring to live in a state of inability where he / she can't undertake his / her own chores. In Jainism, there is a daily prayer where a person wishes to be able to face death after having taken the vow of sallekhana. Due to the prolonged nature of sallekhana, the individual is given ample time to reflect on his or her life. The purpose is to purge old karmas and prevent the creation of new ones.

Sallekhana (also Santhara, Samadhi-marana, Samnyasa-marana), is the Jain religious ritual of suicide by fasting. Due to the prolonged nature of sallekhana, the individual is given ample time to reflect on his or her life.
Jainism, traditionally known as the Jina śāsana or Jain dharma,belongs to the śramaṇa tradition and is one of the oldest Indian religions. It prescribes a path of nonviolence (ahinsa) towards all living beings. Practitioners believe non-violence and self-control are the means to liberation. The three main principles of Jainism are non-violence, non-absolutism (anekantavada) and non-possessiveness (aparigraha). Followers of Jainism take five major vows: non-violence, not lying, not stealing (asteya), chastity, and non-attachment. Self-discipline and asceticism are thus major focuses of Jainism. Parasparopagraho Jivanam is the motto of Jainism. Notably, Mahatma Gandhi was influenced by and adopted several Jain principles.

Sculpture depicting Ahimsa, the fundamental tenet of Jainism (Photo:Ahinsa Sthal)
Jain cosmology postulates an eternal universe and divides worldly cycle of time into two parts or half-cycles, ascending (utsarpani) and descending (avasarpani). According to Jains, in every half-cycle of time, twenty-four tirthankaras (makers of the ford) grace this part of the Universe to teach the unchanging doctrine of right faith, right knowledge and right conduct. The last tirthankara, Mahavira (6th century B.C.) and his predecessor Parsvanatha are historical figures whose existence is recorded.

In reality, however, these qualities are found to be obstructed due to the soul's association with a substance called karma. The ultimate goal in Jainism is to obtain moksha, which means liberation or salvation of the soul completely freeing it from karmic bondage.

According to Jains, souls are intrinsically pure and possess the qualities of infinite knowledge, infinite perception, infinite bliss and infinite energy in their ideal state. In reality, however, these qualities are found to be obstructed due to the soul's association with a substance called karma. The ultimate goal in Jainism is to obtain moksha, which means liberation or salvation of the soul completely freeing it from karmic bondage.

The relationship between the soul and karma is explained by the analogy of gold. Gold is always found mixed with impurities in its natural state. Similarly, the ideal, pure state of the soul is always mixed with the impurities of karma. Just like gold, purification of the soul may be achieved if the proper methods of refining are applied. The Jain karmic theory is used to attach responsibility to individual action and is cited to explain inequalities, sufferings and pain.

The following three jewels of Jainism constitute the threefold path to liberation (moksha).:

Right View (samyak darsana) - Belief in substances like soul (Ātman) and non-soul without delusions.
Right Knowledge (samyak jnana) - Knowledge of the substances (tattvas) without any doubt or misapprehension.
Right Conduct (samyak charitra) - Being free from attachment, a right believer doesn't commit hiṃsā (injury).

Jainism rejects the idea of a creator or destroyer god and postulates that the universe is eternal. Jainism believes every soul has the potential for salvation and to become god. In Jainism, perfect souls with body are called Arihantas (victors) and perfect souls without the body are called Siddhas (liberated souls). Tirthankara is an Arihanta who help others in achieving liberation. Jainism has been described as a transtheistic religion, as it does not teach the dependency on any supreme being for enlightenment. The tirthankara is a guide and teacher who points the way to enlightenment, but the struggle for enlightenment is one's own.

Arihanta (Jina)- A human being who conquers all inner passions and possesses infinite knowledge (Kevala Jnana). They are also known as Kevalins (omniscient beings). There are two kinds of Arihantas
Sāmānya (Ordinary victors) - Kevalins who are concerned with their own salvation.
Tirthankara - Tīrthaṅkara literally means a 'ford-maker', or a founder of salvation teaching. They propagate and revitalize the Jain faith and become role-models for those seeking spiritual guidance. They reorganise the fourfold order (chaturvidha sangha) that consists of monks (śramana), nuns (śramani), male followers (srāvaka) and female followers (śravaika). Jains believe that exactly twenty-four tirthankaras are born in each half cycle of time.

Siddhas (the liberated beings), although they are formless, this is how they are depicted in Jain temples
Siddha- Siddhas are Arihantas who attain salvation (moksha) and dwell in Siddhashila with infinite bliss, infinite perception, infinite knowledge and infinite energy.


In Jainism, monasticism is encouraged and respected. Monks and nuns live extremely austere and ascetic lifestyles. They follow the five main vows of Jainism absolutely. Jain monks and nuns have neither a permanent home nor possessions. They do not use vehicles and always travel barefoot from one place to another, irrespective of the distance. They wander from place to place except during the months of Chaturmas. They do not use telephones or electricity. They do not prepare food and live only on what people offer them. Jain monks and nuns also usually keep a cloth for ritual mouth-covering to avoid inadvertently harming micro-organisms in the air.[citation needed] Most will carry a broom-like object called a rayoharan made from dense, thick thread strands to sweep the ground ahead of them or before sitting down to avoid inadvertently crushing small insects.

The monks of Jainism, whose presence is not needed for most Jain rituals, should not be confused with priests. However, some sects of Jainism often employ a pujari, who need not be a Jain, to perform special daily rituals and other priestly duties at the temple.


Jains have developed a type of meditation called samayika, a term derived from the word samaya. The goal of samayika is to achieve a feeling of perfect calmness and to understand the unchanging truth of the self. Such meditation is based on contemplation of the universe and the reincarnation of self.[53] Samayika is particularly important during the Paryushana religious festival. It is believed that meditation will assist in managing and balancing one's passions. Great emphasis is placed on the internal control of thoughts, as they influence behavior, actions and goals.

Jains follow six duties known as avashyakas: samayika (practising serenity), chaturvimshati (praising the tirthankara), vandan (respecting teachers and monks), pratikramana (introspection), kayotsarga (stillness), and pratyakhyana (renunciation).

Main article: Jain rituals and festivals

Jains praying at the feet of a statue of Bahubali
There are many Jain rituals in the various sects of Jainism. The basic worship ritual practised by Jains is "seeing" (darsana) of pure self in Jina idols.

One example related to the five life events of the tirthankaras called the Panch Kalyanaka are rituals such as the Panch Kalyanaka Pratishtha Mahotsava, panch kalyanaka puja, and snatra puja. Every morning in a Jain temple starts with abhishek of Jina idols.