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terms to know for the test on Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism


'No-soul,' the doctrine that the human person is impermanent, a changing combonation of components


A worthy one or saint, someone who has realized he ideal of spiritual perfection

bhikshu, bhikshuni

ordained buddhist monk/nun


In Theravada, a being who is on the way to enlightenment or buddhahood but has not yet acheived it; in Mahayana, a celestial being who forgoes nirvana in order to save others


A tradition centered on the practice of mediation and the teaching that ultimate reality is not expressible in words or logic, but must be grasped through direct intuition


A 'giving' ritual, in which Theravada families present gifts of food, at their homes or a temple, to bhikshus who conduct rituals including chanting and merit-transfer


In Buddhist usage, teaching or truth concerning the ultimate nature of things


The suffering, psychological as well as physical, that characterizes human life


'Lesser Vehicle'; the pejorative name given by the Mahayana ('Greater Vehicle')school to earlier Indian Buddhist sects, of which Theravada became the most important


the energy of the individual's past thoughts or actions, good or bad; it determines rebirth within the 'wheel' of samsara or cycle of rebirth that ends only when parinirvana is acheived. Good karma is also called 'merit'


A paradoxical thought exercise used in the Chan-Zen tradition to provoke a breakthrough in understanding by forcing students past the limitations of verbal formulations and logic


'Wise Teacher'; a title given to advanced teachers as well as the heads of various Tibetan ordination lineages


'Greater Vehicle'; the form of Buddhism that emerged around the first century in India and spread first to China and then to Korea and Japan


a chart-like representation of cosmic Buddha figures that often serves as a focus of meditation and devotion in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions


a pose or gesture in artistic representations of Buddha figures; by convention, each has a specific symbolic meaning


the state of bliss associated with final enlightenment in this life


a multi-storey tower, characteristic of Southeast and East Asian Buddhism, that developed out of the South Asian mound or stupa


the ultimate perfection of bliss, acheivable only on departing this life


the spiritual wisdom or insight necessary for enlightenment

Pure Land

The comfortable realm in the western region of the heavens reserved for those who trust in the merit and grace of its lord, the celestial buddha Amitabha (Amida)


A title of respect for Tibetan teachers or leading monks


a higher state of consciousness, aheived through meditation


the 'congregation' or community of Bhuddist monks and nuns. Some forms of Buddhism also refer to the congregation of lay persons as this


"Sage of the Shakya clan" a title used to refer to the historical figure of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha


The Emptiness that is held to be ultimately characteristic of all things, stressed especially by Madhyamika doctrine


originally a hemispherical mound built to contain cremation ashes or a sacred relic; in East Asia it developed into the tower-like pagoda


a discourse attributed either to Shakyamuni himself or to an important disciple


'Teaching of the Elders', the dominant form of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia


'Three Baskets'; the collection of early sacred writings whose three sections consist of discourses attributed to the Buddha, rules of monastic discipline, and treatises on doctrine. Written in Pali


A Theravada festival held at the full moon around early May, marking Shakyamuni's birth, enlightenment and parinirvana


'Diamond Vehicle'; the tantric branch of Buddhism that became established in Tibet and the Himalayan region, and later spread to Mongolia and eventually India


the rules of practice and conduct for monks; a section of the Pali canon


'Insight' or 'mindfulness' meditation practised by Theravada Buddhists


seated meditation in the Chan/Son/Zen tradition


Non-soul, non-consciousness; also referred to as 'matter' or 'karma'


five vows modeled on the great vows of the renouncers but modified to make them applicable to lay life: non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-attachment and chastity


five 'great vows' adopted by renouncers: absolute non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, non-attachment, and celibacy


Early sectarian node with Janism with its own sacred scriptures; identified by the male mendicant practice of nudity


One of the two early sectarian nodes within Janism; mendicants wear simple white robes


literally 'conqueror'; an epithet for the 24 ascetic-prophets who conquered the world of desire and suffering, and taught the path to eternal happiness alternatively called Tirthankara


eternal soul/consciousness; all living beings are endowed with this


Literally 'Great Hero'; epithet of the 24th and final Jina of our time cycle, born Vardhamana Jnatrpura in the sixth century BCE


ritual fast to death undertaken voluntarily, usually in old age or illness

samyak darsana

Right vision, faith, or intuition into the basic truth of the cosmos; spiritual growth is dependent upon the attainment of this

Tatthvartha Sutra

An important philosophical text accepted by all Jaina sects, composed by Umasvati in the second century CE


Literally, "ford-maker" epithet for the 24 Jinas who, through their teachings, created a ford across the ocean of samsara


Literally, "four fold community"; the community consisting of monks, nuns, layman and laywomen

Adi Granth

Literally 'original book'; first compiled by Guru Arjan in 1604 and invested with supreme authority as the Guru Granth Sahib after the death of Guru Gobind Singh

Akal Purakh

'The One Beyond Time': God


'nectar-bearer'; an initiated member of the Khalsa


Literally 'Guru's door'; the Sikh place of worship


"Divine order, will or command"; an all embracing principle the sum total of all divinely instituted laws; a revelation of the nature of God

Mul Mantar

Literally, "Basic Formula"; the opening creedal statement of the Adi Granth, declaring the eternity and transcendence of God, the creator


Literally 'pure' or 'crown estate'; hence an order of Sikhs bound by a common identity and discipline


"Birth testimonies"; traditional accounts of the life of Guru Nanak

Five Ks

The five marks of Khalsa identity: kes (uncut hair), kangha (wooden comb), kirpan (sword), kara (wrist ring), and kachh (short breeches)


The term for both the community kitchen and the meal that is prepared there and served to all present in the congregation

Singh Sabha

Literally, "Society of Singhs", a revival movement established in 1873 that redefined the norms of Sikh doctrine and practice


Literally , "hair-bearer"; a Sikh who affirms his identity by wearing unshorn hair


Literally, a "gradualist"; a Sikh who follows the teachings of the Gurus but has not accepted the Khalsa discipline


'Remembrance of the divine Name', especially the devotional practice of mediating on the divine Name

harah prasad

A sweet pudding or paste of flour, sugar and butter that is prepared in an iron bowl with prayers, placed in the presence of the Sikh scripture during worship and then distributed in the congregation

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