This page reflects the vocabulary and concept cards generated by the class. Use it as a study guide for the exams. If you find an error, or feel that$ definition could be better expressed, please let me know.



One who assists the clergyman in a liturgical service: any follower or helper, or someone who helps a priests in some religious ceremony.


A term used now in India to designate the original inhabitants of a region – Indigenous People


A man who has no formal title to his land & they can be most small farmers


The ancient religions texts which describe the hall as the embodiment of feminine force, Shakti; and the shrine as the male energy of Purusha.


A painter that created the Mughal style of art.  Akbar painted the Hindu, Jain, and sultanate traditions, assimilating them with Iran styles and techniques from China and European sources.  Akbar's painting are famous.


"Tales of Akbar." This manuscript illustrates the maturity of the Mughal style.


The top of a temple, representing a plant that brings good things (a Nagaran stylistic element)


A great stupa found on the southeast coast.

-this is a very important stupa because all decoration is laid out sequencially & it's not around anymore. Very detailed and decorative. Built during Andhra Dynasty.


From the Pancharatra school's three aspects of Vishnu – the creative aspect


Used in Islamic art to describe scrolling of interlacing plant forms


He was the third Mauryan ruler and reigned from 272-231 BC. He controlled an empire that extended from Afghanistan to southern India. He's important because he was the most prominent of the Mauryan rulers, and under his control, large scale art in stone first appeared and India entered the age of written history.


Your soul, what is reincarnated; actually same as Brahman which is the universal essence that permeates everything; "white light"


1)       Form the Hindu god Vishnu takes when he comes down to earth.

2)       A descent or manifestation of a deity; specifically of a human or animal form assumed by Vishnu.


-is the central pillar of the Mughal empire.



Known as a wind catcher which can be seen in the palace area of the Panch Mahal (a five story mansion)


A railing with supporting balusters – any of various symmetrical supports, as furniture legs or spindles, tending to swell toward the bottom or top


Also Varanasi, Kasi, one of the seven sacred cities of the Hindus, situated on the Ganges River.


This is one of the most beautifully composed and popular religions texts in Hinduism. Krishna delivers a celebrated sermon.


Worship through a very personal, emotional connection with God. This concept relates a way in which Hinduism differs from many other religions, which focus more on group or mass worship.


Nature of titles that exist at the sites, like Narasimha, Kamalalita (playful with love), Nayanamanohara (pleasing to the eyes), Rahajaya (victorious in battle), Niruttara (without superior), all of which could be assigned to various kings. The birudas would feature several contradictions of each religious readings (specific purpose of the monuments). And concerns of authorship at each monument.


(1)     One who has reached enlightenment but, instead of Nirvana, chooses to be reborn and help others.

(2)     "Essence of enlightenment"


Literally means practicing conduct that leads one to God. Mostly used to describe self-restraint, especially over sexual organs (celibacy); first stage in the fourfold Hindu life cycle scheme of development


Undifferentiated universal force that permeates everything; a spiritual energy of which all gods and goddesses are a part [essential to understanding Hinduism and the nature of its gods]



1)       Hallways or chapels in the cave monasteries found throughout India.  This is important to know because the cave monasteries are discussed all through Chapter 5 and they are a big piece of Buddhism.

2)       Apsidal Buddhist chapel; also a sacred spot. This is important because some chaityas were carved inside caves and this rock cutting was a popular method of artistic expression for a thousand years in India, starting around 260 BC.


In Hindu theology, the universal king (I believe a good, general understanding of Hinduism is essential to the study of India)


A four-part garden divided by four water channels. And is seen in the Mughal garden tomb.


Parasols on the pole (axis mundi) of the anda in a stupa.


"sacred grove," huge center cave of worship




Buddhist and Hindu concept of giving to beggars and monasteries.  It is thought to bring good Karma and religious merit


"To see and be seen by God." To bring balance to opposing forces. It is the ultimate goal and point of Puja.


The dynamic act of viewing an enshrined Hindu deity; darshan is given by the god or goddess and received by the worshipper. Darshan lies at the heart of the creation of images of the divine.


Women dedicated to God of temple


Women who typically resided in the temples having vowed to dedicate themselves to the temple deity; sing & dance in praise of deity


The Great Goddess who has numerous names & forms; Parvati, spouse of Shiva


Divine Faith, a new code, not a new religion. May have had roots in the Mughal belief which is radiated from the Light of Allah & special beings touched with divinity


During major festival in celebration of Vishnu and his two popular avatars as Rama & Krishna, are sacred hyms recited at the 21 day festival in December and January.


Southern India temple style characterized by horizontal features


An important Hindu goddess who is one of the most important Hindu deities, embodying for many the supreme manifest form of god head.



Capacity for producing a desired result or effect; effectiveness; efficacious – capable of having the desired result or effect; effective as a means, measure, remedy



The musicians of the gods, and they were associated with informal marriage based on mutual consent


The science of music, song, drama, dance. An appendage of the Sama Veda.


Elephant-headed Hindu god; god of wisdom and problem-solving who is the son of Shiva and Parvati and is presented as a pot-bellied man with an elephant's head. Also called Ganapati.


("womb house") the sanctum sanctorum of a Hindu temple. Located directly in the center, with the sikhara (tower) directly above. Cannot go into garbhagriha. Thought of as "feminine".


The old language of Bengal.


A showy object of little use or value: attractive on the surface but badly made and of no real or permanent value


1)       Song of the dark lord, reflecting the Krishna/Rada love. Influences painting, sculptuir, art and dance. Associated with certain form of dance, meeting of human and divine.

2)       Hindu sacred poem which tells of the love of the god Krisna and the cowherd girl (gopi) Rahha; this devotional text must be read on a metaphorical level as the longing of the human soul for union with the devine.


1)       Pyramidal gate-houses of south Indian temples

2)       The puramid gate houses of south Indian temples. The entrance into a temple that is a two-storyed pillared cloister. It was built by the emperor's trusted general.


The entrance gateway into a Hindu temple enclosure


Planetary deities in the Lakshmana – which are intended to form a protection / a protective mandala around the temple.


1)       One of the three aspects of divinity, gramadevata is the community chosen God.

2)       The community shrine primarily female deities



"utterances" of the Prophet"; saying associated with the Prophet, Muhammad.  Second source of Shari'a (Islamic law) following the Koran.


Is the harem enclosure that houses the many women of the imperial household.


A term used to designate a set of "townhouses" built around a central courtyard by the nobility and wealthy merchants of the Rajput courts


"Small vehicle Buddhism." Their goal is to reach Nirvana and end suffering. They're less interested in the masses, and more interested in they're individual release from samsara.


"the Indian art", referring to mathematics (Important due to the fact that the concept of "zero" was developed in India)


In Latin, "fear of empty space"; indicated by a crowded design

Used to describe crowded narration decorating the stupa (#1) in Sanche 2/19.




The study of images "icon-god, "ography" – the study of.


The study of the meaning of the image.


The third aspect of divinity.  Ishtadevata is the chosen god of an individual, each individual chooses one god to worship



A greenish stone believed to counteract poison. It is used in jewelry and specially favored for cups. In Mughal it is commonly used for other such things as dagger handles, scabbards, and other weapons because it is thought to bring victory. It is often found encrusted with gems.


Name given to the story of any one of Buddha's previous lives.


Answer or echo; it is the architectural replica of the mosque faηade of the Taj Mahal. Its only purpose is to balance the symmetry



(1) 757-83 – at Ellora, site of Buddhist + Jain caves

creation of Krishna. Consists of 3 separate units: a gatehouse, a pavilion to house Shiva's vehicle (Nandi), and a southern-style temple containing a linga

(2) Created by Krishna I of the Rashtrakuta Dynasty, carved into a range of low Deccan trap hills at Ellora

-this is important because it's such a major accomplishment – incredible to look at, and important for Hinduism and art.


The paradise of Shiva.  A Himalayan mountain, north of Lake Manasa.


1)       Beautiful, delightful female aspect of yame, is destroying evil of world, often seen standing on a corpse.

2)       A terrifying Hindu Goddess who is the devourer of time. She represents the unpleasant realities of life.


A cosmic era in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain cyclical concept of time


An important Jain text that narrates the lives of the Jinas.


A fine usually white clay that is used in ceramics and refractories, as an absorbent, and as a filler or extender

-local mineral used for color source in cave art of Buddhists


A hand-spun cotton cloth. A defiant statement of self-reliance & a badge that shows membership in the Gov't movement. The khadi is still worn today by Gandhian workers.


South Indian vocal music. This is important because it has sacred content and was nourished in temple premises.


Book believed by Muslims to contain the actual word of God, as revealed through the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad.


Popular Hindu god, incarnation of Vishnu. Literally means black or dark blue


The love play of Krsńa. Lila's aspects of divinity (the world is god's Lila)


1)       The god of a particular household, there is usually a statue or shrine and comes about through Jati.  It is not so much the essence of the family as it is the essence of the home itself.

2)       The deity of the home. It's usually decided on by family history or jati. It's the main shrine of the house and the essence of the home. This is important because most worship is done in the home rather than in a temple.


Supposedly the largest celebration of any kind on earth, alternates between Nasik, Allahabad, Ujjain and Haridwar wutg each city hosting it once every 12 years. Kumbh means "pot" or "pitcher" and in Hindu mythology four drops of the nectar of immortality fell to earth, one in each of these places. The next Kumbh Mela in Nasik will be in 2003.



The shakti of Vishnu; goddess of good fortune; seen with/interchangeable with Shri – goddess of wealth (also Shakti of Vishnu)


Most commonly seen/worshipped symbol of Shiva. Representing a phallus, it is at the center of most temples.


All reality is the play of Krisna



Great Hindu Vedic porm of the Bharata dynasty; containing about 10,000 verses, describing the battle between the Pandavas and the Kauravas.


"Great passing away" term for death of Buddha.


One day in the life of Brahma. Equal to 1000 cycles of krita (1,728,000,000 years), Treat (1,296,000,000 years), Dvapara (854,000 years), and Kali Yuga (432,000 years). Brahma will live for 100 years, each day made up of 1000 of these cycles. This concept gives an impression of the Hindu ideas of time, permanence, and eternity. Gods are not immortal.


"large vehicle Buddhism." Their goal is to reach as many people as possible, even if it means staying in samsara to do it.  Buddha becomes a much more divine presence.


(1)     A sacred diagram of the cosmos with a chosen diety (sic) in the center.  Ancient cities and temples were laid out according to a Mandala plan.

(2)     A circular cosmic diagram for meditation – deities in outer areas of mandala are experienced before concentrating on the chosen deity in the center. Cities and temples are believed to have been laid out in a "mandala" plan.


Porch structure associated with Hindu temple architecture. Covered by heavy stone built of columns & lintels.  Forms the main traffic area inside of the temple.  Associated with the male principles which bring together the feminine energy of the Sakira & male principle of Mandapah.

Both of these principles (Sakira and Madapah) are fundemental in Hindu temple construction & instrumental in understanding how the Hindu cosmology & world view is expressed in the temple architecture.


The power of sound


A place for prostration. At the masjids, a prayer is done which is a physical act of kneeling, bowing, & prostrating in the direction of Mecca (Mt. Hira)


The name of the dynasty that established the First Indian empire.


(1)     The sense-world of manifold phenomena held in Vedanta to conceal the unity of absolute being.

(2)     The power that generates and anorates the visible universe. Flux; the dynamic aspect of he unchanging world.

(3)     Illusion, wondrous power. Refers to the flux and change in which all existence is bound.


Loving couple; in Hindu, Buddhist and Jain India they were emblems of fertility, and hence represented growth, abundance and prosperity. Sculptures of the mithuna couples cover the sikhara of the Hindu temple.


1)       Everything is god, one ultimate substance; reality is an organic unitary whole that cannot be subdivided

2)       Everything is god, there is one ultimate substance and reality is an organic unitary whole which can't be subdivided. This is important because Hinduism is a monistic religion.


Belief in one god, that is a separate entity.


A hand gesture used to express the mood and meaning of images of the gods and Buddha.


An announcer of the Prophet Muhammad. He would call the faithful to prayer from the roof of Muhammad's house, then the Prophet would lead the prayer


A text of monastic discipline, while giving instructions for the decoration of monasteries, speaks of paintings for the meditative practices of the monks.


Religious teacher, in Islamic faith


The Arabic, Islamic word for "creator" or God the creator, it is the word used for the "artist" who, in the Islamic world, was frowned upon for "creating" a human form, a task possible only for God.



Literally "snake", considered guardians of underworld.


1)       Northern style of temple. More stair-shaped than rounded

2)       Temples across Northern India.  Common architectural style but distinct from South. Primarily the shikhara and roof structure of hall that distinguishes northern from southern style temples.


Naked ascetics, followers of Shiva. Also known as the Protector Ascetics.


Directly translated as delightful one, it is one of the holliest rivers in central India running east west.


Normally refers to the prayer hall in Hindu temples; means the place where the nine planets are aligned.


Monastic supervisors of new monks, as with Amaravati

-this is important because donations @ Amaravati were treated so differently than those @ Sanchi, which shows the growth & change in Buddhism – it was becoming much more complex, requiring navakarmikas to take charge and maintain order with placing Jataka stories on the stupa, etc.



"Of the hills". Name given to paintings from the states of the Punjab hills (includes Kangra, Kulu, Chamba, etc.)


Secret practices that was advocated by Kaula teachers, or 5 items starting with "m" in Sanskrit:

1.        matsya (fish)

2.        mamsa (meat)

3.        mudra (parched grain)

4.        mada (wine)

5.        maithuna (sexual intercourse)

Which was a tantric offshoot of Shiva worship during the 10th century when the Khajuraho temples began to be built.


Hindu mother and fertility goddess; the wife of Shiva. She is thought of as the model Hindu wife and is often depicted with a conch, mirror and lotus.


Explains that the human soul emanates from the Infinite & is not a distinct entity; the soul lives its life on earth, & then returns to merge & become one with the Infinite.  Can be termed monism, also.


A technique in which thin sections of precisely cut semi-precious stones and gemstone are inlaid into the white marble


Play an important role in Hindu life as they form the basis upon which horoscopes are cast.  Of the nine planets which include the sun and moon in Indian astronomy include Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn.


A colonnade or covered ambulatory especially in classical architecture and often at the entrance of a building

-used repeatedly in Jain temples


Circumambulation or ritual circling of a sacred monument or image. This is important because it was the primary way of showing worship.


The ritual circling of a stupa or other religious monument.  Also known as circumambulation.  A person enters the stupa through a torana and walks in a clockwise direction seven times before exiting. This serves to pay homage to the relic contain within the stupa and to absorb its religious content.


From the Pancharatra school's three aspects of Vishnu – the force of preservation


Fruit or similar offering. A priest would take a worshipper's prasad to the inner sanctum of a temple, leave some for the Gods, and return the rest to the worshipper. This portion would then be brought home for ceremonial consumption. This is another way Hindus connect on a personal level with their Gods.


(1) ritual Hindu worship, whether in a home shrine or in a temple – ritual is said to sharpen the senses and direct them towards the object of worship.

(2) the ceremonious art of showing reverence to the divine through invocations, prayers, mantras, mudras, etc. in the home.

(3) ritual worship which includes offerings of a fresh flower garland, new clothes, food, cool water, lamps, incense and music.  Puja involves seeing the diety, smelling the incense, hearing the chants of worship and the chiming of bells, touching the feet of the image, and tasting food sanctified by the diety. Performed at home, in a shrine, or in a temple. The purpose of puja is to bring balance and create Carshan. The diety becomes the image.

(4) ceremonial act of showing reference to a god or goddess through payer, song or ritual.


Field of spiritual merit



An imperial hunting technique. Qamargah is depicted in Mughal Indian art, specifically painted by Akbar


1)       Singer of quawwals (literally, aphorisms), songs in praise of God – singer of songs used by Sufi "singer-saints" to popularize their message – a group of singers in a constant interchange of solo and choral modalities

2)       The Sufi form of religious song. This is a very important and prevalent aspect of Sufism, something which sets it apart from orthodox Islam, which forbids song in religious ceremonies



A container or shrine where sacred relics are kept

·          Introduced in class 2/19 in regards to the stupas at Sanche & Amaraviti; the stupa acts as a reliquary


Inclined to be silent or secretive: uncommunicative: reserved: (reticent – unwilling to speak about your thoughts or feelings)



A Hindu mendicant ascetic


Female Sadhu


Sir, master, used especially among Hindus and Muslims in colonial India when addressing or speaking of a European of some social or official status.


Towering edifice found atop hindu (sic) temples, placed directly over the inner sanctum or Garbagria. The Sakra personify the female principle in temple architecture. Generally considered modeled after the holy Himalyan peak of Khailasa.


One of the Five Pillars of Islam; the call to prayer 5 times/day at specific times (>5 times per day for some Shi'ite groups.)


From the Pancharatra school's three aspects of Vishnu – the destructive form


Shakti of Brahama, but more important of the two. Goddess of wisdom, learning, literature, music, etc.


"the remains" Vishnu absorbs the cosmos and this is what is left.


This is another of the five pillars of Islam, this is the declaration of faith which must be recited aloud at least once in a believer's lifetime, with conviction and true understanding, the declaration is: "There is no God but God; Mohammed is his prophet.


A follower/worshipper of Shiva


An Arab chief


1)       Roof structure of the hall that distinguishes the northern from the southern style of temple.  The terms also means the spire of a Hindu, Buddhist or Jain temple.

2)       Also means mountain peak! The spire of Hindu, Buddhist or Jain temple.


Sanskrit word for "art".


Icons and metaphors of power of Shiva creatd in bronze casting (wax).


Male denunciant mendicant


A linga is an iconic emblem of Hindu God Shiva that forms the object of devotion within the sanctum of a Shiva temple; also interpreted as a phallic symbol that represents Shiva's great ascetic and yogic power.


("Mountain Peak") The term also means the spire of a Hindu, Buddhist, or Jain temple. Constructed with post and lintel – no mortar used. The tower (sikhara) looks like a linga and has erotic couples carved into it.

-this is important because it holds the garbhagriha – the most important part of the temple


Bhumi's daughter, a reincarnation of goddess Laxmi. She represents the ideal Hindu wife. She is wife to Rama and is a key figure in the Ramayana.


A Hindu guitar with a long neck and a varying number of strings.


The rounded architectural unit crowning the tower (sikhara) of the southern, or DRAVIDA style of temple.

-this is important because we need to be able to distinguish between the 2 styles of temples.


Mystic saint of the Islamic tradition


Literally, a thread or string, a story in litery forms


The combination or reconciliation of differing beliefs or practices in religion (Webster's New World Dictionary)


A long gourd with four strings, used to provide a drone in support of main instrument or voice


1)       Term used to designate an esoteric form of religion. Hindu and Buddhists, that was associated with secret rites of a magical nature.  Hense tantric: of, or having to do with tantra.

2)       The sacred books of Tantrism. They were written between the 7th and 17th centuries CE and mostly consist of a dialogue between Shiva and his wife Shakti. (from Sanskrit="loom, warp, ground work, system, doctrine")



The Hindu ritual of treating sacred statues in a household like honored guests or pets.  "Playing house with your gods" As it is often referred to by westerners.


A mark of Buddha's perfection; the tuft of hair between the eyebrows symbolized by a dot.


1)       Celebration of the death of a saint

2)       Celebration of the death of a Sufi saint (literally means marriage)



Smaller caves around the chaytia that are used as dormitories, hospitals, and cafeterias.


In English, color or caste. Referring to the social division within a culture.


An orthodox system of Hindu philosophy developing especially in a qualified monism the speculation of the Upanishads on ultimate reality and the liberation of the soul.


A bright red pigment used as external symbols that proclaim a persons adherence to Hinduism.


A string instrument. A pillar that depicts Sarasvati which is the goddess of music and also learning. She holds this string instrument


Hindu god; called the Preserver. The second member of the triad that includes Brahma the Creator and Shiva the Destroyer.


Ancient Hindu ritual text.


YAKSHI (female) / YASKSHA (male)

Semi-divine beings of an elemental nature, associated with fertility. They were considered auspicious beings.


Indian term for Greek merchants, though later used loosely for all foreigners, were among those who contributed towards the embellishment of Buddhist cave monasteries.


Represents the female vulva. The lingum rests upon it.


The cycle of creation to destruction is divided into 4 ages – it is arranged in order of declining strength, peace and happiness.



One of the five pillars of Islam, this is a tax which today is most often a donation in the form of charity


Section of a place, Rajput or Mughal, reserved for the royal women


A Sufi religious ceremony used to achieve a state of ecstasy, thought to be oneness with God. Comes in many forms and is a term used for almost any Sufi ceremony.