Introducing World Religions:
The eBook

Introducing World Religions Online:
Comprehensive Glossary of Terms

Term Definition


Seed syllables in Sikh holy scripture, with particular vibrational qualities and meanings.

Nag Hammadi

A set of texts discovered in 1945 near a river in Upper Egypt that date back to the early centuries of the Common Era; included are non-canonical gnostic gospels attributed to Jesus' brother Judas Thomas, Mary Magdalene, and other disciples of Jesus.

Nakayama Miki

(1798-1887) Woman who was visited by (channeled) a kami, and subsequently founded the Japanese New Religion called  Tenrikyō sect.

Nām simaran

Remembrance of God’s True Name; preferred form of individual worship in Sikhism.


(1469-1539) The first Sikh Gurū; introduced the practice of Nām simaran; traveled widely.


Early capital city of Japan (established in 710 CE) modeled after the Chinese Tang capital; Buddhist monasteries grew up so fast around here that the ruler decided to relocate to escape their political influence.


Adjective used (without value judgment) to describe indigenous, aboriginal people.


Hebrew reformer (ca. 465-424 BCE) who eliminated the Jews of Samaria from the Jewish community due to their generations of intermarriage with people brought by the Assyrians to the fallen northern kingdom of Israel.

New Religions

The "newly arisen religions" that developed in Japan starting in the late Tokugawa era, including Tenrikyō and Sōka Gakkai; Japanese: Shinkō Shūkyō.

New Testament

The portion of Christian scripture that complements the Hebrew Bible. It contains 21 epistles, 4 gospels, a history of the early church, and a prophecy about the end of the world.


(1222-1282) Japanese Buddhist reformer who established a sect parallel to the Pure Land and the True Pure Land sects; he focused his teaching on the Lotus Sūtra, and one principle offshoot of his lineage today is Sōka Gakkai.

Nihongi (Nihon-Shoki)

History of Japan; second oldest Shintō book (completed in 720 CE).


Term used nowadays by scholars with reference to the Theravāda Buddhist tradition as the only surviving non-Mahāyāna school; term for a collection of early Buddhist texts.

Nineteen Day Feast

A monthly gathering among all local groups of Bahá’ís, held on or about the first day of each of the 19 months of the Bahá’í calendar.


Blown out; Buddhist enlightenment whereby rebirth into saṃsāra stops.

Noble Eightfold Path

The eight steps Buddha recommended as the way to attain enlightenment; these constitute the fourth Great Fact (Noble Truths); divided into three categories: wisdom, moral conduct, and mental cultivation.


Term used with reference to religious traditions that do not rely on worship of God or godlings for their spiritual practice, and do not uphold any transcendent being as the focus of their cosmology; this, in theory, does not constitute rejection of the existence of such a being or beings.

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