A usually flat stone plate with a high-relief carving of one or several snakes – nāgas – with one or multiple hoods. The carved tiles are leaned against trees or rammed into the earth to stand up vertically. Worship of snakes and other nature-related spirits – such as yakṣas – has a long tradition in South Asia. For Jains, snakes are closely associated with the Jinas Pārśvanātha or Lord Pārśva and Supārśvanātha or Lord Supārśva, and Śvetāmbara Jains regard them as one of the guardians of the directions – dika-pālas.
A small Śvetāmbara group separate from the main Tapā-gaccha sect.
An early form of the Devanāgarī script, which is still used in India. Nāgarī was used to write several Indian languages, particularly Prākrit and Sanskrit.
Second of the four 'non-destructive' or 'neutral' types of karma, which forms the body and physical attributes.
Sanskrit for 'homage formula', the Namaskāra-mantra is the fundamental religious formula of the Jains. A daily prayer always recited in the original Prākrit, it pays homage to the supreme beings or five types of holy being:
Note that chanting the mantra is not praying for something, material or otherwise. Also known as the Pañca-namaskāra-mantra or 'Fivefold Homage mantra', it is also called the Navakāra-mantra or Navkār-mantra in modern Indian languages.
The 21st Jina of the present age. His symbolic colour is black, yellow or emerald and his emblem the blue lotus. There is no historical evidence of his existence.
The 15th continent in the Middle World of Jain cosmology. It is religiously important as the place where gods come together to celebrate festivities in its 52 temples. The Nandīśvara-dvīpa is often carved in stone models or slabs found in Jain temples, where they are worshipped. This is especially common among Digambaras.
Elder brother of the 24th Jina Mahāvīra. The eldest son of King Siddhārtha and Queen Triśalā.
A kind of diagram shaped like an elaborate svastika. It is one of the eight auspicious symbols or aṣṭa-maṅgala.
Hell. There are seven levels of hells in the lower world of Jain cosmology.
Sanskrit for 'hell'. There are seven hells in traditional Jain cosmology.
A being that lives in hell. The lower in the seven hells an infernal being lives, the more it suffers.
A term in phonetics that describes how a consonant or vowel is pronounced while releasing a little air through the nose but not the mouth. Similar to the Spanish tilde, examples in English are M, N and the NI sound in ‘onion’.
A Sanskrit term for 'Lord', which is usually shortened to nath in modern Indian languages. It is added to the end of a person's name and is frequently used for very holy figures or deities. For example the 22nd Jina is referred to as Neminātha, meaning Lord Nemi.
Meaning 'nine nights' in Sanskrit, Navrātrī is a Hindu festival celebrating the divine feminine principle of śakti. At each of the four annual Navrātrī festivals the festival-goers worship nine forms of śakti. Dancing has an important role in the festival although customs vary according to region.
Doctrine of philosophical viewpoints, partial expression of truth or estimate of a reality from a given angle. Related to anekānta-vāda. There are seven different viewpoints listed in the Tattvārtha-sūtra.
The Digambara thinker Kundakunda distinguishes between:
The 22nd Jina of the present age, also called Ariṣṭanemi. His symbolic colour is blue or black and his emblem the conch. There is no historical evidence of his existence.
The Jains hold that Nemi is the cousin of the Hindu god Kṛṣna. The tale of his renunciation and jilting of his fiancée Princess Rājīmati are famous among the Jains.
The aspiration at the time of death to get worldly gains, such as a better rebirth, in a spirit of revenge. Hence a negative concept.
The most basic form of vegetable life in which an infinite number of souls live together in a sub-microscopic body. Born and dying together, they breathe and eat together, and pervade the entire universe.