Just the facts on religion.

Glossary of Religion

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

vajra
(Sanskrit; Tibetan rdo-rje, "diamond" or "thunderbolt). Double-headed ritual instrument in Tibetan Buddhism used along with a ritual bell. The vajra is held in the right hand and represents skillful means, compassion, samsara, and the masculine principle.
Vajrayana Buddhism
(Sanskrit, "Diamond Vehicle" or "Thunderbolt Vehicle") The Tantric branch of Buddhism, which includes Tibetan Buddhism.
varada mudra
Buddhist hand gesture representing "boon-granting."
varnas
("color"). Four categories of Hindu society dating from the time of the Vedas: Brahmans, Ksatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras. The varnas are ordered according to occupation, whereas castes (jati) are based on social status into which one is born, but the two systems are historically related.
Veneration of Saints
no in Protestantism; yes in other branches
Vesak
The birthday of the Buddha and the most important festival in Buddhism, celebrated in May.
vestments
Distinctive clothing worn by clergy when performing liturgical and other services of the church.
vestry
The board of directors of a church. The vestry elects the rector and oversees the church's secular affairs.
Vicar of Christ
Title for the Pope since the 8th century, which replaced the older title "Vicar of St. Peter." It expresses the Pope's claim to be the appointed representative of Christ on earth, based in part on Jesus' command to Peter to "feed my sheep" in John 21:15.
vinaya
(Sanskrit, Pali) The Buddha's teachings about monastic rules, ethics and karma.
Virgin Birth
The belief that Jesus Christ had no human father, but was miraculously conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit coming upon the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is based on Matthew 1 and Luke 1 in the New Testament and is implied in the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds.
Vishnu
("pervader"). Major deity and member of Hindu trinity with Brahma and Shiva. Seen as the preserver of the universe and embodiment of goodness and mercy. To Vaisnavites, Vishnu is the supreme deity (Isvara) who becomes incarnate in times of crisis and declining dharma. Vishnu is usually depicted standing, holding weapons, or reclining on a serpent.
Voodoo
A fusion of magical religious practices from Africa.

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