Introducing World Religions:
The eBook

Introducing World Religions Online:
Comprehensive Glossary of Terms

Term Definition

Jacob and Esau

The twin sons of Isaac; grandsons of the biblical patriarch Abraham.


The Sikh "morning prayer" by Gurū Nānak; first prayer in the Gurū Granth Sāhib.

Jātaka tales

"Birth" tales about Gautama Buddha's past lives.


(b. 600s BCE) One of the last Hebrew prophets; warned about the immanent destruction of the Jerusalem Temple.


Term for Judean people based on the name of the southern kingdom of Judah, whose capital Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.


Struggle; the inner (personal) and outer (political) effort to overcome threats to the practice of Islam.

Jimmu Tennō

The first human Japanese emperor, whose traditional date given in Shintō is 660 BCE.


Conqueror, Victor; title given to Jain tīrthaṃkara because they are victorious over the suffering of saṃsāra.


In Islamic tradition, the term for spirits created by Allāh from smokeless fire.

jiriki and tariki

Terms used in Japan to speak of "self power" and "other power;" the first refers to Buddhist practice in which personal discipline and effort plays a major role, as in Zen; the second refers to Pure Land Buddhist practice in which reliance on the compassion of Amida  Buddha plays a key role.


Life force or soul; term used by Jains to describe any living being with one to five senses, including earth bodies, human beings, godlings, and so forth.


One who is liberated while living; the goal of many Hindus is to become one of these.


1275-1296?) Devotee of both Śiva and Kṛṣṇa; wrote a commentary on the Bhagavadgītā in the Marathi language that combined the spirituality of bhakti as well as haṭha yoga.


Divine light embodied by the ten human Sikh Gurūs, and the holy scripture.


Group of Israelite leaders (ca. 1250-1020 BCE) who carried out the laws of Moses after the Hebrews entered Canaan; their legal function eventually was assumed by the Sanhedrin Supreme Court.


Princely person, gentleman; word for prince in ancient China; Confucius used it to mean someone of sound moral character.


(482 or 483-565 CE) Byzantine emperor whose unfulfilled ambition was to extend Christianity into Northern and Central Europe, and reassert Roman control over the western portion of the old Roman Empire.

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