Just the facts on religion.

Glossary of Religion

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Bacchanalia
(also Dionysia) Any of several festivals of Dionysus, the wine god. Suppressed by the Roman senate in 186 BC. Bacchic cults included oaths of loyalty, organized funding, property and membership. In Greece, only women were admitted; in Rome, both were admitted and the festivities were held more often.
Bahá'u'lláh
(Arabic, "Glory of God"). (1817-92) Title adopted by Mírzá Husayn-'Alí, founder of the Bahá'í Faith.
baptism
The rite of admission to membership in Christian churches that involves immersing, sprinkling or anointing with water. Regarded as a sacrament by Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians. Most denominations practice infant baptism; some only baptize adult believers.
baptismal cross
Cross with eight points, symbolizing regeneration.
Baptists
Christian denominational family characterized by rejection of infant baptism.
Bar Mitzvah
(Hebrew, "son of the commandment"). A boy who has reached the age of 13 and is thereafter expected to obey the commandments. Term also used for the ceremony marking this occasion.
Basic Points of Buddhism
In 1966, leading monks from the Theravada and Mahayana traditions met in Sri Lanka with the goal of bridging the differences between the two groups and identifying the essential points of agreement.
basmala
The Bismi'llah saying, "in the Name of Allah," that invokes a blessing upon an action or undertaking of a Muslim. The full form is bismillahi (ar-)rahmani (ar-)rahim, "in the Name of Allah the merciful the compassionate."
bat mitzvah
(Hebrew, "daughter of the commandment"). A girl who has reached the age of 12 and is thereafter expected to obey the commandments. Term also used for the ceremony marking this occasion.
Bede, the Venerable
The first English church historian.
begging bowl
Bowl used by Buddhist monks to collect alms from laypeople; also has symbolic significance.
beit knesset
(Hebrew, "house of assembly"). The synagogue.
beit midrash
(Hebrew, "house of study"). A place designated for the study of sacred texts, usually a part of the synogogue.
beit tefilah
(Hebrew, "house of prayer"). The synagogue.
ben
(Hebrew, "son of"; Aramaic "bar" or "ibn"). Son of. Used in traditional Hebrew names; e.g., Rabbi Moses ben Maimon is Moses, the son of Maimon.
bet din
(Hebrew, "house of judgment"). A rabbinal court convened to resolve business disputes, grant divorces, determine whether a prospective convert is ready for conversion, etc.
Bhagavad-Gita
("Song of the Lord"). A section of the Mahabharata composed around 200 BCE, and one of the most beloved of Hindu texts. It tells the story of the warrior Arjuna who faces members of his own family in battle and is unsure of the right action. Arjuna is instructed by Krishna, who outlines three paths (marga) of life: knowledge, duty, and devotion.
bhakti-marga
Path of devotion to God (one of the three paths to moksha). See also jnana-marga and bhakti-marga.
bhumisparsha mudra
Buddhist hand gesture representing calling the earth to witness.
Bible story
A story told in the Hebrew or Christian Bible.
Big Religion Chart
adherents, history, gods, meaning-life, afterlife, practices, texts
bishop
The priest and spiritual leader of a diocese.
black
Symbolizes death, darkness, sin, and hate.
blue
Symbolizes the sky, heaven, eternity and spirituality.
Blue Cliff Records
A collection of 100 koans first collected by Hsueh-tou Ch'ung-hsien (980-1052) from previous Ch'an records.
bodhi
(Sanskrit, Pali, "awakened"). Buddhahood; state of full enlightenment, in which things are seen as they really are.
bodhicitta
(Sanskrit, "thought of enlightenment"). An important concept in Mahayana Buddhism. In a personal sense, it signifies the spontaneous resolve to strive for enlightenment. In a cosmic sense, it is reality itself, which makes enlightenment possible. In Tantric Buddhism, it is the fusion of wisdom with compassion in the bliss of perfect enlightenment.
bonpu
(Japanese, "ordinary man"). In Zen, an expression used for the ordinary person as opposed to one who is enlightened or on the religious path.
Brahamanas
("Pertaining to Brahmins"). Portion of the Vedas, written between 1000 and 650 BCE, that explain mantras and provide further ritual instruction.
Brahma
Post-Vedic personal Creator god of the Hindu trinity (with Vishnu and Shiva). Usually represented as red in color and holding a goblet, a bow, a scepter, and the Vedas. Unlike Vishnu and Shiva, Brahma is seldom worshipped today.
Brahman
("growth, expansion"). The impersonal Absolute, the unproduced Producer of all that is. In the Vedas, Brahman is the force behind the magical formulas. In the Upanishads it is the supreme, eternal principle behind the origin of the universe and of the gods. In Vedanta philosophy, it is the Self (atman) of all beings and knowledge of Brahman results in liberation (moksha).
breviary
Book containing the Divine Office (liturgy) of the Roman Catholic Church.
bris
(Hebrew brit, "covenant"). Colloquial name for the ritual of circumcision, from the Ashkenazi pronunciation of brit.
brit
(Hebrew, "covenant"). The special covenant between God and the Jewish people.
brit milah
(Hebrew, "covenant of circumcision"). The ritual of circumcision performed on the eighth day of a boy's life. More commonly known as brit.
budded cross
Cross with trefoils representing the Trinity.
buddha
(Sanskrit, Pali, "Awakened One") A fully enlightened being.
buddha-dharma
Teaching of the Buddha. Another name for Buddhism.
buddha-nature
(Sanskrit buddhata; Japanese bussho). In Mahayana Buddhism, the true nature of all appearances and all beings. To truly realize one's participation in the buddha-nature is to attain enlightenment.
buddha-sasana
Buddha-discipline; another name for Buddhism.
Buddhas of the three times
The buddhas of the past. Their numbers are incalculable, but the best-known is Dipamkara, present (Gautama), and future (Maitreya).

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