Glossary

Udumbara

Literally ‘fig’ but more generally used for fruit that contains seeds. Jains are not permitted to eat such fruit as it harms the potential life contained in the seeds.

Universal History

A Western academic term used for the largely medieval texts that hold the Jain legendary history of the world. Recounting the life stories of the '63 Great or Illustrious Men', the writings are intended to provide role-models for later Jains. The main texts of Jain Universal History are the:

  • Śvetāmbara monk Hemacandra's Triṣaṣti-śalākā-puruṣa-caritraLife Stories of 63 Great Men
  • Mahā-purāṇaGreat Ancient Tale – of the Digambara writers Jinasena and Guṇabhadra.
Upādhyāya

Preceptor or tutor. One of the Five Supreme Beings, who is worthy of being worshipped by ordinary Jains.

Upāṅga

Meaning 'auxiliary limbs', the second group of 12 texts that make up the scriptures of the Śvetāmbara Jains. The Upāṅgas complement the first set of 12 texts, the Aṅgas – 'limbs' in Sanskrit.

Upaniṣads

A class of scripture in Hinduism, the Upaniṣads were first written down in the sixth century CE. Thirteen Upaniṣads form part of the sacred Vedas, although well over 100 Upaniṣads are known. Chiefly philosophical works on human existence and the universe, the Upaniṣads discuss topics such as the nature of reality and the definition of and path to the soul's liberation. They form the basis of key concepts in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, and thus are key to the development of Indian culture.

Upāsaka

A Jain lay man, similar to the term śrāvaka. The feminine form is upāsikā.

Upasarga

Attack or test, especially those posed by disguised gods or bad people to the Jinas before they became omniscient to check whether they could properly meet the demands of asceticism.

Upāśraya

Dwelling-hall near a Jain temple where wandering ascetics stay. They may stay for a short time during their travels or for the long rainy season. There is usually a main room where lay Jains come to listen to sermons. Lay people may also perform fasts here, such as upadhāna tapas or rituals such as posadha that involve leaving household activities for a while.

Ūrdhva-loka

The highest of the three worlds in Jain cosmology, the home of the various types of gods.

Utsarpiṇī

The progressive or ascending half-cycle in the Jain conception of time. With the first half, the descending one – avasarpiṇī – it forms a complete cycle of time.

Uttarādhyayana-sūtra

An ancient Jain text outlining the rules of monastic conduct, said to be Mahāvīra's final sermon. These 36 lectures provide rules for ascetics but also discuss various topics, such as karma and the substances in the universe, and recount the tale of Nemi's renunciation.

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