Glossary

Hagiography

Biography of a saint or holy figure. Hagiographies are often more focused on idealising the subject than providing an accurate historical account.

Hajj

The fifth 'pillar' or duty of Islam, the hajj is a pilgrimage to Mecca, in modern Saudi Arabia. The hajj consists of a number of rituals performed over certain days in the last month of the Islamic calendar.

Haṃsa

The Sanskrit term haṃsa is used for a goose or swan. It is associated with the qualities of wisdom, purity, divine knowledge, detachment and the highest spiritual achievements. The haṃsa is the vāhana or mount of the Hindu goddess Sarasvatī, patron of learning, music and the arts.

Haribhadra

Śvetāmbara mendicant leader who lived around the seventh to eighth centuries. He wrote many significant philosophical works, including the Anekāntajayapatākā and the Ṣaḍdarśanasamuccaya. He also wrote the first Sanskrit commentaries on the Āgamas.

Hariṇaigameṣin

Antelope-faced commander-in-chief of the god Śakra, who transfers the embryo of Mahāvīra from the womb of the brahmin Devānandā to that of the kṣatriya Queen Triśalā.

Hasta

Unity of measure.

Heresy

A believer in a system of beliefs, usually religious, that differs from established dogma. A heretic does not normally think his beliefs are heretical, often asserting that his heresies are correct while the orthodoxy has become corrupted from the original.

Hiṃsā

Violence, the fact of harming in any way.

Hindi

The most widely spoken group of languages in India, originating in the northern part of the subcontinent. Local dialects and Hindi languages are spoken all over northern India and in surrounding countries. Standard Hindi is used in administration by the central government of India, along with English.

Hindu

Follower of the majority faith in India and an adjective describing something belonging to Hinduism. Hindus have numerous gods and diverse beliefs and practices, though many believe in the soul, karma, the cycle of births and liberation. Roughly a billion Hindus comprise the third largest religion in the world.

Hinduism

The majority faith in India, often called Sanātana Dharma or Eternal Law. With no single named founder, Hinduism has a pantheon of gods and a range of different beliefs. Most Hindu traditions revere the Veda literature but there is no single system of salvation or belief, although many Hindus believe in the soul, karma, the cycle of births and liberation. Large Hindu communities exist in southern Asia, with smaller groups across the world.

Hīravijaya

(1527–1596) Leader of the Tapā-gaccha sect, whose learning and devotion impressed the Mughal Emperor Akbar. Influenced by Hīravijaya, Akbar issued proclamations supporting Jain values, such as banning animal slaughter during the Śvetāmbara festival of Paryuṣaṇ.

Horoscope

A chart of the positions of planets, stars and other celestial events and phenomena at a certain time. It is often used to predict someone's future or analyse his character or present state. It can also be used to choose the best time for an event to take place.

Hrīṃ

A sacred symbol or mantra that controls the false world that people experience.

Humayun

Second Mughal emperor, who first ruled from 1530 to 1540. He was deposed by Sher Shah Suri and eventually regained his kingdom in 1555, but died the following year.

Hymn

The terms stavan, stavana, stava, stotra and stuti are all used for a prayer, song, chant or hymn to a Jina, a god or any other holy figure. Religious songs are always hymns of praise in Jainism. These devotional songs may be performed during daily rites or on special occasions, such as completion of a fast or a wedding. The hymns may be performed:

  • solo or in groups
  • as a form of meditation
  • as a rite offered as part of worship.
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