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Advaita Monism. The Hindu school of philosophy which advocates that the soul and god is the same; see also: Shankaracharya [more]
Agastya The Hindu sage (Rishi) who drank the ocean empty.
Agni The God of Fire; In the Hindu thought, a greatest witness (hence the walking around the fire during Hindu ceremony; also testified to purity of Sita)
Amarnath A popular place of Hindu pilgrimage located in the state of Kashmir
Amba A character from Hindu epic of Mahabharata, she is transformed into Shikhandi, a male but impotent warrior
Ambareesh A great devotee of in Hindu mythology
Andal Hindu saintess who sang the glory of Lord Krishna
Antyeshti Name of the Hindu sacrament (samskara) involving funeral rites.
Arya Samaj A society founded in 1875 by Dayanand Saraswati to reform Hinduism from its superstitious beliefs.
Ashwath (a.k.a. Peepal) a type of large tree (biological name: Ficus religious) that is of significance in Hindu belief [more]
Asura (a.k.a Rakshasa) Demons that often appear in Hindu classics are collectively known as Asuras
Atharvanaveda One of the four Vedas forming the origin of Hinduism involving charms and spells.
Babri Masjid Mosque built in 1528 in honor of the first Moghul emperor Babur in Uttara Pradesh, northern India. Destroyed by the Hindutva crowds on 6 December 1992 while under legal protection.
Bal Thackeray Leader of the Shiv Sena party and champion of Hindu revivalism; also a playwright and established cartoonist
Basaveshwara Saint, Reformer of Hinduism; declared that work was worship; noted Kannada poet who sang Vachana or Promise poems
Bhagiratha The Hindu sage who brought the river Ganga from heaven to earth.
Bhakti Devotion; In Hindu thought, Bhakti is one of the ways to reach God (Bhaktimarga) [more]
Bhimsen Joshi Noted Classical Indian (Hindustani) Vocalist
Brahaspati The panet Jupiter; also the name of a wise Hindu sage.
Brahmacharya Literally means practicing conduct that leads one to God. Mostly it is used to describe self-restraint, especially over sexual organs (celibacy); first stage in the fourfold Hindu life cycle scheme of development
Brahmin (a.k.a. brahman) the traditional upper-caste Hindus. Originated from Brahman in in Sanskrit meaning "absolute" or the "infinite spirit" of Lord Brahma. [more]
brahmins (a.k.a. brahmin) the traditional upper-caste Hindus. Originated from Brahman in Sanskrit meaning "absolute" or the "infinite spirit" of Lord Brahma.
Brihaspati The Hindu Deity of Wisdom; the chief of all the priests
Chaitanya (1485-1533) Hindu saint who popularized the Vaishnavism or worship of Lord Vishnu and his avatars
Chitragupta As per Hindu mythologies, the accountant of the good and bad deeds of individuals.
Dadheechi Hindu sage who sacrificed his backbone so good may triumph over evil
Dadu Dayal (1544-1603) A disciple of Kabir, he was a supporter of Hindu-Muslim unity. His followers were known as Dadu Panthis.
Dayanand Saraswati (1824-1883) Hindu social reformer, founded the Arya Samaj. Fought against the Hindu social evils of untouchability and Sati.
Devanagari Language of the Gods. Hindus believe that Sanskrit, the language of much of their scriptures is the divine language. The Devanagari script (also called Nagari) is used today by several Indo-Aryan languages like Hindi and Marathi.
Dharani (a.k.a. Bhoomi, Prithvi) Mother Earth worshiped by Hindus as as diety and an element
Dharma Shastra Hindu texts of versified instruction on morals and law.
Dharma Sutra Hindu texts in prose form on ethics and code of conduct.
Dhondo Keshav Karve (1858-1962) Indian social worker who championed remarriage of Hindu widows
Dhruva A great devotee of God in Hindu mythologies; the North star is named after him
diya oil lamp typically lit in front of a Hindu deity and during celebration of Diwali festival.
Dwaparayuga The third era according to Hindu mythologies; the war of Mahabharata is said to have taken place in this period
Dwaraka Believed to be home to Lord Krsihna's miracles, itis one of the most important places of Hindu pilgrimage; Vajranabh, Krishna's grandson is said to have built the famouse Krishna temple here
Gandharvas Celestial beings appearing in Hindu mythologies
Gaya The town in Bihar where Buddha found enlightenment; a place of pilgrimage for Hindus and Buddhists.
Gayatri A three line verse of Rig Veda of great sanctity to Hindus.
Gurukul Traditional Hindu residential schools of learning; typically the teacher's house or a monastery [more]
Harischandra A king from Hindu mythologies who was tested at the altar of truth
Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1580-1627) Islamic ruler of mostly Hindu state of Bijapur, called himself the "protector of weak". Lost to Moghul forces in 1597
Jijya A tax imposed on non-Muslims by Islamic rulers; In India, Akbar abolished jijya, but his grandson Aurangjeb reimposed it on Hindu citizens.
Kabir (1440-1510) Disciple of Ramananda, he believed in formless God. He was the first to reconcile Hinduism and Islam
Kaliyuga The age (Yuga) according to Hindu scriptures that began after the demise of Krishna and lasting 432,000 years.
Kanyadana Literally meaning "donation of a virgin", a ritual in Hindu wedding where the parents of the bride handover their daughter to the groom, who promises to honor her.
karpoor Camphor crystals used as a fuel during Hindu worship of arati.
Keshanta Name of the Hindu sacrament (samskara) observed on the occasion of first time shaving of one's beard.
Lakshmi Hindu goddess of contentment (bhagya); a very popular diety in India worshiped as wife of Lord Vishnu
Laxmi Hindu Goddess of wealth; Lord Vishnu's wife
Madhvacharaya (1239-1319), Hindu sage who advocated Dvaitism, which emphasized the immutable difference between the individual soul and the supreme soul [more]
Mahabharat The epic story of Hindus featuring the Pandavas, the Kauravas, Krishna and the war of Kurukshetra, written by sage-poet Vyasa.
Malaviya Madana Mohan (1861-1946) Founder of Hindu Mahasabha and the Banaras Hindu University. Was a prominent leader and freedom fighter.
Maricha (a.k.a. Mareech) Brother of king Rawana who disguised as a golden deer to aid kidnapping of Sita in the story of Hindu epic Ramayana.
Mirabai (1498-1563) A Hindu saintess who sang glories of Lord Krishna
Moksha (Liberation) -- freedom from birth and death. In Hinduism, liberation from the bondage of worldly action is based on detachment and freedom within oneself. The nearest English equivalent is salvation.
Muth (ma-Tha) a Jain or Hindu shrine; monastery
Namakarana The naming ceremony of a child, celebrated as an importnt Hindu step to refinement (samskara)
Narad Hindu sage and traveler; devotee of Lord Vishnu [more]
Navagraha (a. k.a. Navagruha) meaning the place where the nine satellites are aligned, typically refers to the prayer hall in Hindu temples
Phalguna The twelfth month of Hindu calendar including the festivals of Holi and Shivaratri.
pooja Hindu worhip ritual; see puja
Prahlada A famous devotee from Hindu mythology; son of Hiranya Kashapu.
Puranas Ancient religious texts of Hinduism
Radhakrishnan S. (1888-1975) Indian scholar, philosopher and statesman; a vice-president and then the president of India; books include Hindu View of Life and Indian Philosophy
Raja Ram Mohan Roy (1774-1833) Great social reformer, thinker and scholar; worked for abolishment of Sati. Founded Brahma Samaj. [more]
Ramachandra Son of Dasharatha and the prince of Ayodhya; worshipped by Hindus as the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu; hero of the Hindu epic Ramayan [more]
Ramanujacharya (1017-1137) Chief exponent of the Vishishtadwita school of Vedanta and a Hindu social reformer [more]
Ramayan The Hindu epic of the Life and glory of Ramachandra, the prince of Ayodhya and an avatar of Lord Vishnu
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) A volunteer organization created in 1924-25 by Baliram Hedgewar to inculcate Hindu ideology and promote disciplined physical training among young Hindu men.
Ravi Varma A great painter from the royal family of Travancore, famous for his depiction of Hindu dieties and Indian women. [more]
Rigveda One of the four Vedas forming the origin of Hinduism involving hymns and invitations.
Rishikesh Meaning the apex of a sage, it is a Hindu pilgrim center.
Samskara Refinement of soul. The samskaras are considered stepping stones in shaping a perfect individual in Hindu society. They were meant to be purify the person by observing of which a person became 'susamskrit' (civilized or refined) [more]
Sanatana Dharma What Hindus call their Hindusim. The word Hindu itself is of foreign origin.
Sandhyavandana Hindu ritualistic prayer performed in honor of Surya (the Sun God)
Sanskrit Ancient Indian Language of Bhagavad-Gita and many other sacred texts of Hindus
saptapadi The symbolic seven steps a couple takes during the Hindu marriage ceremony
Satyayuga (a.k.a. Kritayuga) The age or era of truth according to the Hindu beliefs.
Savithri A perfect wife in Hindu mythology.
Shaivism Hindu believers who follow the order of Lord Shiva
Shankaracharya (8th century A.D.) also known as Adi Shankara, a great scholar and philosopher who revived Hinduism; founder of the Advaitic school of thought [more]
Shivaji (1627-1680) Great Maratha leader who fought Mogul emperor Aurangjeb and established a Hindu State [more]
Shudra The worker caste according to the traditional Hindu system of social classification
Sita (see-tha): Rama's wife, an reincarnation of goddess Laxmi, represents the ideal Hindu wife. Born to mother earth, she is a key figure in the Hindu mythology of Ramayana.
Surya The Sun God according to the Hindu mythologies, worshipped as the grantor of special favors
Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) Hindu philosopher and spiritual thinker; one of the first to narrate India's greatness to the world; established Ramakrishna Mission after his guru Ramakrishna Paramahamsa [more]
Tetrayuga The age or the time period (Yuga) when the Hindu epic of Ramayan is said to have taken place.
Tukaram (1602-1650 A.D.) Hindu saint and poet; devotional songs written by him are popular to this day
Tulasi (a.k.a. Tulsi) the sweet basil plant, sacred to Hindus
Tulsi (a.k.a. Tulasi) the sweet basil plant, sacred to Hindus
Upanishads Sacred texts of Hinduism created by ancient sages after deep studies of life and metaphysics.
Urmila Wife of Lakshman in the Hindu mythology of Ramayan
Vaishnavism The faith of Hindus who worship Lord Vishnu and his avatars
Vaishya The caste of merchants and tradesmen in Hindu society.
Valmiki Hindu sage who is believed to have composed the epic Ramayana.
Vedas Ancient Hindu texts believed to be of divine origin. There are four Vedas: Rigveda, Samaveda,Yajurveda, and Atharvanaveda
Vikramaditya VI A brave and popular king of India; the Hindu Vikramaditya calendar (shaka) is named after him
Vimana (ve-maa-na) the tower of a Hindu temple; also an sky transport like an airplane. [more]
Vishnu One of the three primary Gods of Hinduism
Vishwamitra A great Hindu sage and scholar who is referred to as the Brahmarshi; tested truthfulness of Harischandra
Yajnavalkya A great Hindu scholar and sage (Brahmarshi), said to have written the Shukla Yajurveda
Yajurveda One of the four Vedas forming the origin of Hinduism; translated as Knowledge of the Sacrifice
Yaksha Yaksha and Yakshini are the celestial spirits from Hindu mythologies
Yama The Hindu God of Death [more]
Yantra Yogic meditational machines; geometrical patterns of a Hindu cult called Shakta or Shakti
Yayati A king in Hindu mythologies who traded his old age to the youth of his son Puru.


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