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RELIGION TERMS

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Abhidharma (Pali: Abhidhamma) (Buddhism) - Further or higher teaching. One of the three baskets(pitakas) of the Pali Canon. Label of continuing higher ideas of Buddhism.
Abraham (Judaism; Islam; Christianity) - Historical type figure of Judaism. Muslims regard him, Ibrahim, as a prophet and hanif, a worshipper of the God.
Adhan (Islam) - The call to prayer from the top of minarets and other places for the canonical prayers.
Adharma (Hinduism) - Injustice, evil and against moral laws (not dharma).
Adi Granth (Sikhism) - Literally 'first book'. The scripture of the Sikh religion as was compiled by Guru Arjun in 1604. It became the Guru Granth Sahib.
Advaita (Hinduism) - The supreme Reality. Used in Vedanta which stresses the unity of the Self (Atman) and Brahman. (without a second)
Advent (Christianity) - Literally 'coming' and so preparation for the coming of Jesus. This Christian year thus starts in November or early December (whichever Sunday is nearest November 30th).
Aggadah (Judaism) - Non-halakhic teaching material in rabbinic literature consisting of stories, ethical teachings and interpretations of biblical texts.
Ahamkara (Hinduism) - Self will, separateness.
Ahimsa (Hinduism, Jainism) - Nonviolence, no injury, wishing no harm (not violence) as taught by Gandhi.
ahl al-Kitab (Islam) - The Qur'anic expression describing people to whom a holy book has been revealed. At first this went to Christians, Jews and the Sabeans and later Zoroastrians (Islam into Persia). It has since been extended by some to Hindus and Buddhists. Literally 'people of the book'.
Akal Purukh (Sikhism) - Timeless One, or the Being Beyond Time and is applied as a name of God.
Akasha (Hinduism) - Space and sky; the most subtle of the five elements.
Akhand path (Sikhism) - Literally 'unbroken' and so continuous reading of the Guru Granth Sahib on an important domestic occasion or gur-purb going on for about forty eight hours with a team of readers. Contrast this with the Sahaj path.
Akshara (Hinduism) - The eternal, Om.
al-Alim (plural: ulama) (Islam) - The scholar with enough education in the tradition who has authority to interpret religion and especially the Divine Law. Literally 'he who knows'.
al-Insan al-Kamil (Islam) - It is not divinity but a supreme quality of person. Islamic esotericism has it that Muhammad (pbuh) is most of all the perfect man who has all the possibilities of universal existence and is embodied in the prophets and saints.
Aleynu (Judaism) - Literally 'adoration'. A prayer at the end of synagogue worship which focusses on the task, dedication and hope of every Jew.
Amidah (Judaism) - Literally 'standing' being a prayer offered silently by members of a synagogue congregation as they stand and face Jerusalem. It is also known as shemoneh.
Amrit (Sikhism) - Nectar and applies to sugar water which is used during the Khalsa initiation ceremony.
Amrit Bani (Sikhism) - The words of the Sikh acriptures are as sweet as nectar (amrit).
Amrit Bani (Sikhism) - The words of the Sikh acriptures are as sweet as nectar (amrit).
Amrit Vaila (Sikhism) - The early morning hours after dawn. This is an auspicious time for meditation and prayer according to Guru Nanak.
Amritdhari (Sikhism) - Someone who has undergone the Khalsa initiation ceremony.
Amritsanskar (Sikhism) - The rite of initiation into the Khalsa brotherhood.
Anand (Sikhism) - A state of bliss beyond description. A composition by Guru Amar Das on page 917 of the Guru Granth Sahib.
Ananta (Hinduism) - The cosmic serpent on which Vishnu reclines in rest.
Anbhav Prakash (Sikhism) - The enlightened perception of reality in a person who has become a gurmukh.
Anand Karaj (Sikhism) - Sikh wedding ceremony.
Anglican (Christianity) - The name given to an episcopal Church both Protestant and Catholic either being or originating from the Church of England established by henry VIII's break with Rome. A member is also known as an Anglican.
Apara (Hinduism) - Lower knowledge; intellectual knowledge (not eternal)
Apocrypha (Judaism) - Books of the Jewish Bible in in the Greek version but not the Hebrew version.
Antim Ardas (Sikhism) - The last of the Sikh funeral rites.
Apostle (Christianity) - Literally 'one who is sent'. The eleven disciples of Jesus, and St. Paul were as such sent out to preach.
Apse (Christianity) - A semicircular recess in a church or temple.
Aql (Islam) - Intellect as reasoning and a wisdom of knowing.
Arabic (Islam) - The language of the Arabs in which the sacred book of Islam is written and can only be fully represented and also in which Muslim prayers are said.
Ardas (Sikhism) - The formal prayer given before a Sikh wedding or finishing a Sikh service.
Arjuna (Hinduism) - Seeks guidance from Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. One of the five Pandava brothers and an important figure in Indian epic and legend.
Ark (Judaism) - The boat in which the family of Noah and selected animals were saved from the Flood (a story of Shoah); or the chest which held the Hebrew tablets of the Law and so a cabinet in the synagogue where the sacred scrolls are held.
Arti (Hinduism) - Hindu worship where lamps are waved in front of statues of the gods. Diwali sees them used.
Aryaman (Hinduism) - Vedic god and an ancestor of mankind (noble one).
Aryans (Hinduism) - The movement of people into northern India about 4000 years ago who developed Vedic material to add to local religion, both developing Hinduism. Other Aryan tribes went Iran and as far west as Ireland.
Asa Di Var (Sikhism) - A collection of hymns to be sung at the auspicious time of dawn.
asat (Hinduism) - Untruth, untrue, unreal, lacking goodness.
Ascetic (Hinduism plus) - A person or way of life who accepts strict discipline in eating, drinking, clothing, accommodation and sexual activity.
Ash Wednesday (Christianity) - The first day of the Christian penitential season Lent going towards Easter.
ashvattha (Hinduism) - The pipal tree (like fig) or what is holy and found at temples.
Ashvatthama (Hinduism) - Drona's son who is a great archer and warrior.
asura (Hinduism) - Demon or a being with an evil nature.
Atman (Hinduism)/ Atma (Sikhism) - The true Self or Soul called Atman intending ultimately to rise and unite with Brahman For the Sikhs it is the immortal soul.
Avatar (Hinduism) - Manifestation of a deity, sometimes in human form. Hinduism extends this term to prophets of other traditions like Jesus. Literally a 'descent'.
avatara (Hinduism) - The descent of God; the incarnation of Vishnu; divine consciousness appearing first in the human heart (down cross).
avidya (Hinduism) - Ignorance, absence of wisdom, need of knowledge (not wisdom).
avyaya (Hinduism) - Changeless, eternal
Ayat (Islam) - The smallest division of the sacred book of Islam, a verse. Literally 'a sign'.
Azan (Islam) - The Muslim call to prayer.

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