Introducing World Religions:
The eBook

Introducing World Religions Online:
Comprehensive Glossary of Terms

Term Definition


Teacher; term for a Jewish scholar, whose function originated from the ancient Pharisees after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.


(d. 801 CE) Muslim saint born in Basra, Iraq whose life spanned the Umayyad-ٔAbbāsid transformation of Islam; probably the first woman Ṣūfī .

Rām Dās

(1534-1581) The fourth Sikh Gurū; founded the city of Amritsar, and excavated the tank there.


An avatāra of Viṣṇu whose story is told in the Hindu Rāmāyaṇa epic; he was an obedient prince who became king, and is beloved for his exemplary conduct.

Rāmānuja and Madhva

(1056-1157) and (1238?-1317?) Two Vaiṣṇava thinkers who developed alternative views within the sacred science of Vedānta; the first proposed a Qualified Non-Dualist Vedānta, while the second developed a Dual (Dvaita) Vedānta perspective.


The "taste" conveyed through performance (e.g., dance) in both Hindu aesthetic and devotional traditions; the highest taste is love for God.

rectification of names

Chinese (especially Confucian) principle of living up to one's prescribed social role (e.g., the ruler should live up to the name "ruler"); making the meaning of names (words) clear and consistent.


Term for a scholar of religious studies who rejects the sui generis view of religions, and explains religious data without presuming the existence of anything irreducibly religious. (Robert A. Segal's term)


Standard prayer that orients a Buddhist's mind toward the Three Jewels: buddha, dharma, saṃgha.


Term for a scholar in religious studies who holds a sui generis view of religions, and claims that something irreducibly religious exists. (Robert A. Segal's term)

Religious Impression

The experience of a Religious Subject that gives rise to a creative act.

Religious Subject

A person who attains religious faith or understanding through an encounter with something experienced as sacred. (Gerardus van der Leeuw's term.)

religious symbol

Object that represents, or reconstitutes a sacred entity, acting as a stand-in for a hierophany.


Benevolence, humaneness; a key Confucian virtue.


Rising up after death; in Christianity the term for Jesus rising up on the third day after dying on the cross and being placed in a tomb; Easter celebrates this event.


The attribution of new meaning or value to a religious symbol.

Rightly Guided Ones

The first four Muslim caliphs, who ruled in close succession after the death of Prophet Muḥammad: Abū Bakr, ٔUmar, ٔUthmān, and ٔAlī.

Roy, Rām Mohan

(1772-1833) A Bengali brāhmaṇa who took up leadership of the Brāhmo Samāj in 1828, and thus worked for women's rights, supported western education, and argued that Hindu tradition was monotheistic.


Seer; authors of the Vedic hymns; term used more broadly with reference to some holy people in Hindu tradition.


A force emulated in the Ṛgveda that is associated with universal law, the seasons, and cosmic order.

Ruhiyyih Khánum

(1910-2000) Born as Mary Maxwell, she was married to Shoghi Effendi, and was influential in keeping the community organized and promoting the Bahá’í Faith after he passed away.

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