Hinduism Study Guide Terms

Arati
Stage in puja when you use candles/incense to invite the divine presence

Arjuna
Protagonist of Bhagavad Gita

Artha
The human desire to acquire worldly possessions/money

Atman
The Self

Avatara
Gods’ representation on earth in human form

Bhagavad Gita
Dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna (smriti)

Brahma
The Creator God

Brahman
Universal soul found in everything, piece of divinity

Brahmin
Have spiritual qualities, priestly caste/religious teachers, moral judgment; Upper class, very highly educated

Kshatriya
Martial qualities of kings/administrators; political class

Vaishya
Merchants, large farmers/economic class

Shudra
Lower class, unskilled laborers & artisans

Untouchable
Not considered citizens, social stigma

Devas
Deities that represent different aspects of humankind

Dharma
Duty/obligations, religious & belief system

Ganges
Holy Hindu River

Guru
Religious/spiritual teacher

Hindu
Follower of Hinduism; not all Hindus have the same strict set of beliefs, many variations but one religion

Idolatry
Worship of idols

Kama
Satisfying animal/base instincts

Karma
Every action has an effect (good actions have good effects, bad actions have bad effects)

Lokas
Heavenly realm before reincarnation

Mahabarata
One of the primary epics within the Smirti category-Bhagavad Gita is a piece of it

Mantra
Holy words associated with god

Moksha
Liberation achieved through God-realization

Myth
Story that conveys teachings/truths (isn’t necessarily accurate)

Nirguna Brahman
Impersonal god, beyond all understanding

Prarabdha karma
Past karma being spent during this life (kinetic energy)

Puja
Hindu prayer rituals

Puranas
religious literature that is presented in an easy to understand way

Rishis
saints (tribal religious leaders) thought celibacy will enhance focus on the religion

Sadhu
Monks/ascetics who live apart from society to try to attain liberation

Saguna Brahman/Ishvara
Personalized form of Brahman, allows god to be embodied in different aspects, inspires devotion and connection

Samsara
Cycle of repeated births and deaths

Sanchita karma
accumulated karma (potential energy)

Sannyasa/in
Stage of life where one rejects society and family comforts

Shiva
God of Destruction

Shruti
‘what is heard,’ oral traditions and memories, considered to be the result of teachings of early sages

Tantras
Sacred text, euphoric hymns & poetry

Trimurti
Three major gods: Shiva, Vishnu, & Brahma

Upanishads
religious texts dealing with philosophy, most abstract discussions of how the Divine works

Vedas
Most authoritative and oldest forms of scripture

Vishnu
The Preserver/Sustainer God

Yoga
Attempting to attain physical and mental oneness with god through physical actions

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