Listing Glossary Terms 1 to 20 (out of 46)


The four Dada-sūris or Dada-gurus – 'granddad gurus' – are venerated by the Kharatara-gaccha sect, traditionally in the form of footprint images – pādukās. They were distinguished monastic leaders whose advanced spiritual condition gave them miraculous powers.


Groups of people historically considered outside the caste system of India. In traditional Hindu society, they were 'untouchable' or ritually impure because they carried out unpleasant tasks such as cleaning toilets or sweeping streets. Mahātma Gandhi used the term Harijan, meaning 'children of God', for the various Dalit groups. The lowly social and economic status of Dalits – officially termed 'Scheduled Castes and Tribes' – has improved since the Indian constitution abolished longstanding discrimination against the 'untouchables' but many still suffer prejudice.


Giving, specifically alms-giving to mendicants.


The long wooden staff used by Śvetāmbara Mūrtipūjak monks as a religious insignia and for walking. At the top Mount Meru is represented. Below it are carvings symbolising the Three Worlds of Jain cosmology or the Three Jewels. Below these are carved the auspicious symbol of a full water pot and then five horizontal lines representing either the Five Greater Vows or the Five Supreme Beings who are worthy of worship.

Dark fortnight

The half of the lunar month in the traditional Indian calendar in which the moon is at its smallest. It is so dark it is almost invisible.


Vision, insight or perception. It works with the quality of jñāna – knowledge in the soul – to gain deep, true understanding and is ever-changing.

Also one of the 14 'gateways' or categories of investigation of mārgaṇā or 'soul-quest'.


One of the four types of ‘destructive’ karman that prevent right insight. Darṣana-āvarṇiya blocks true knowledge.


The most significant Digambara festival, this ten-day celebration takes place in August / September. Digambaras read, fast and meditate, with the Tattvārtha-sūtra playing an important role. The final day is called the 'Endless Fourteenth' - Ananta-caturdaśī - and is associated with the 14th Jina, Ananta. On this holiest day of the year, most Digambaras fast and take part in the ritual group confession, known as kṣamāpanā - 'Asking for pardon'.


A god or divine figure, often with physical powers beyond those of a human and with superhuman abilities.

Delhi Sultanate

Series of Muslim dynasties that ruled portions of northern and central India from 1206 to 1526.


A Gujarati word for a Jain temple. Derived from the Sanskrit term devagr̥hā-vasara.


One of the śikṣāvratas or five vows taken by lay Jains. It means revising the limits one places on oneself daily, like deciding not to go out or not to contact anyone


Not feeling attached to any things, people or emotions in the world, whether positive or negative. Jains believe that detachment from the world is necessary to progress spiritually towards the ultimate aim of freeing the soul from the cycle of rebirth.


A script for writing in different Indian languages, still used today. In Devanāgarī each letter has a horizontal line above it. 


The original mother of Mahāvīra, who was from the brahmin caste. The king of the gods, Śakra, caused the embryo to be transferred into the womb of a kṣatriya woman because Jinas-to-be can only be born to the kṣatriya caste.


An enthusiastic follower of a religion. Can also describe a keen enthusiast of an individual, concept or activity.


Also called goma, dhamal is a form of folk music and dance found in Gujarat and associated with the Siddi people. The Siddi’s traditional dances and songs clearly show the influence of their descent from Africans who came to India as slaves, soldiers and merchants over hundreds of years.


Unity of measure.


To hold, to carry.


Duty, religious codes or principles, the religious law. Jains think in terms of dharma or underlying order in the universe.

Related to this, the term is also used for the true nature of an object or living entity. For example, the dharma of:

  • fire is to burn
  • water is to produce a cooling effect.

The 15th Jina of the present age is called Dharmanātha or Lord Dharma. His symbolic colour is gold and his emblem the vajra – diamond thunderbolt. There is no historical evidence of his existence.

Listing Glossary Terms 1 to 20 (out of 46) - All text is © JAINpedia / Institute of Jainology 2019 under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 licence The Jain universe online at

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