Jainism Glossary: Definitions, Beliefs, Practices

India, Rajasthan, bas-relief on the frontage of a Jain temple in Jaisalmer
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The following glossary includes definitions and explanations of common Jainism terms. Keep this list close at hand as you deepen your understanding of Jaina beliefs and practices.  

Term

Definition

Adharmastikay Medium of rest. One of the Six Universal Entities.
Ahimsa or Savvao Panaivayao Virman Vrat Nonviolence. The cornerstone belief of Jainism is nonviolence in mind, body, and spirit.
Ajiva Non-living matter. One of the Nine Tattvas.
Akas Space. One of the Six Universal Entities.
Anartha-danda Vrata Vow of avoidance of purposeless sins. Taken by non-monastic Jains. One of the three merit vows.

Anuvrata

Five main vows of non-monastic Jains. These vows include ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya, and aparigraha.
Aparigraha or Savvao Pariggrahao Virman Vrat Vow of non-possessiveness and non-attachment. Taken by monastic and non-monastic Jains.
Asrava Flow of karma. One of the Nine Tattvas.
Asteya, Achaurya, or Savvao Aadinnadanao Virman Vrat Vow of non-stealing. Taken by monastic and non-monastic Jains.
Atithi Samvibhaga Vrata Vow of charity. Taken by non-monastic Jains. One of the four disciplinary vows.
Bandh Bondage by karma or darkness of the soul. One of the Nine Tattvas.
Bhoga Consumable items that can be enjoyed more than once. Food and drink are both examples of bhoga.
Bhoga-Upbhoga Vrata Vow of limited use of consumable and non-consumable items. Taken by non-monastic Jains. One of the three merit vows.
Brahmacharya or Savvao Mehunao Virman Vrat Vow of celibacy or chastity. Taken by monastic and nonmonastic Jains.
Desavakasika Vrata Vow of limited duration of activities. Taken by non-monastic Jains. One of the four disciplinary vows.
Dharmastikay Medium of motion. One of the Six Universal Entities.
Digambaras

Meaning “Sky Clad” or “Space-Clad”. One of the two sects of Jainism. Beliefs include renunciation of all clothing and women must be reborn as men in order to achieve kevala.

Dik Vrata Vow of limited area of activity. Taken by non-monastic Jains. One of the three merit vows.
Dvesha Aversion
Gunavrata Three merit vows. Part of the seven vows of virtuous conduct. Taken by non-monastic Jains, and they are intended to enhance the effect of the Anuvrata. They include Dik Vrata, Bhoga-Upbhoga Vrata, and Anartha-danda Vrata.
Jina Meaning “Conqueror” or “Spiritual Conqueror.” The name given to Mahavira and the origin of Jaina religion name.
Jiva Soul, living matter, or the essence of existence. One of the Nine Tattvas.
Kaal Time. Also known as Samay. One of the Six Universal Entities.
Karma Particles of darkness or bondage that obscure the light of the soul. They are attracted by acts of violence.
Kashay Inner enemies
Kevala A state of elevated or blissful existence, comparable to the Buddhist state of nirvana or the Hindi state of moksha. Once it is achieved, the spirit leaves the bonds of the physical body and the cycle of life and death. The spirit in kevala is liberated.
Krodh Anger
Lobh Greed
Maya Deceit
Nataputta Mahavira or Vardhamana Jnatiputra 599 – 527 B.C. Establisher of Jaina and 24th Tirthankara.
Nirjara Destruction of karma. One of the Nine Tattvas.
Papa Sin, bad deeds. One of the Nine Tattvas.
Pausadha Vrata Vow of limited ascetic’s life. Taken by non-monastic Jains. One of the four disciplinary vows.
Pudgal All matter. One of the Six Universal Entities.
Punya Merit, good deeds. One of the Nine Tattvas.
Rag Attachment
Samayik Vrata Vow of limited meditation. Taken by non-monastic Jains. One of the four disciplinary vows.
Samyara Impediment of the flow of karma. One of the Nine Tattvas.
Samyak Charitra Right Conduct. The Third of the Three Jewels of Jainism.
Samyak Darshana Right Perception. The first of the Three Jewels of Jainism.
Samyak Jnana Right Knowledge. The second of the Three Jewels of Jainism.
Satya, or Savvao Musavayao Virman Vrat Vow of truthfulness. Taken by monastic and non-monastic Jains.
Shikshavrata Four disciplinary vows. Part of the seven vows of virtuous conduct. These vows are taken by non-monastic Jains, and they are intended to govern internal life and charity. They include Samayik Vrata, Desavakasika Vrata, Pausadha Vrata, and Atithi Samvibhaga Vrata.
Sravaka Jains that are nonmembers of the monastic order. Also known as laity or householders.
Svetambaras

Meaning “White Clad.” Beliefs include: women have the ability to achieve kevala without being reborn as men; clothing does not need to be renounced to reach kevala.

Tirthankara Teachers, Prophets, or Founders of the Path to kevala. There are 24 tirthankara, and Mahavira is known as the 24th .
Upbhoga Non-consumable items that can be enjoyed more than once; clothing, furniture, and decorations are considered upbhoga.
Yatis Members of the Jain monastic order, monks or nuns. Also known as sadhus (monks) and sadhvis (nuns).