Ahimsa: The practice of non-violence and reverence for life. Ahimsa forbids the taking of animal life at any level.

Digambaras: The sect of Jainism that insists on going naked, as did the Mahavira, when duty called for it.

Five Great Vows: The principle of self-denial, central to Jain belief, which includes the renunciation of (1) killing living things, (2) lying, (3) greed, (4) sexual pleasure, and (5) worldly attachments.

Jains: The designation for the disciples of Mahavira the Jina (the Conqueror.)

Jina: Literally, “the conqueror.” The designation given to Mahavira for his achievement of victory over his bodily desires. His disciples were thus named Jains.

Mahavira: An honorific title meaning “great man,” given to the founder of Jainism.

Nirgrantha: Literally, “naked one.” A person who practices asceticism in accordance with Jain principles.

Sallakhana: The rite of voluntary self-starvation which, according to tradition, took the life of Mahavira’s parents.

Shvetambaras: “The white clad,” one of the two main sects of Jainism. The Shvetambaras are the liberal wing who believe in wearing at least one garment in contrast to the Digambaras, who insist on wearing nothing when duty demands.

Sthanakvasis: A Jain sect that worships everywhere, not allowing for idols or temples.

Tirthankara: A savior being. According to Jain belief, Mahavira is the 24th Tirthankara, the last and greatest of the savior beings.

Twelve Angas: The part of the sacred scriptures of Jainism which holds the foremost position.

Venerable One: One of the titles given to the Mahavira by his later disciples.