Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism

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Subject: Asian Studies

Edited by: Knut A. Jacobsen (Editor-in-Chief), University of Bergen, and Helene Basu, University of Münster, Angelika Malinar, University of Zürich, Vasudha Narayanan, University of Florida (Associate Editors)

Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism presents the latest research on all the main aspects of the Hindu traditions. Its essays are original work written by the world’s foremost scholars on Hinduism. The encyclopedia presents a balanced and even-handed view of Hinduism, recognizing the divergent perspectives and methods in the academic study of a religion that is both an ancient historical tradition and a flourishing tradition today. The encyclopedia embraces the greatest possible diversity, plurality, and heterogeneity, thus emphasizing that Hinduism encompasses a variety of regional traditions as well as a global world religion. Presenting all essays and research from the heralded printed edition, Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism is now available in a fully searchable, dynamic digital format. The service will include all content from the six printed volumes..

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(6,771 words)

Author(s): David P. Lawrence
Abhinavagupta (c. 960-1020 CE) is widely renowned as the most authoritative and influential proponent of nondual Kashmiri Śaivism, and probably even Hindu Tantra in general. While certain innovations often credited to him in the areas of Pratyabhijñā nondual Śaiva philosophy and Sanskrit poetics should properly be ascribed to predecessors, nevertheless his brilliance, erudition, and profundity in these areas are unsurpassed. Moreover, Abhinavagupta integrated his work on these subjects with his …

Ad Dharm

(4,786 words)

Author(s): Mark Juergensmeyer
In the 1920s, a new religious movement emerged in the Punjab called Ad Dharm (Original Religion). Though based on religious concepts that are common to the Hindu tradition, the founders were insistent that they were creating a new religion, one free from the prejudices of upper-caste Hinduism. In describing this new religion, the Indian census reports of 1930 describe it as a “religious revolt of the Untouchables.”  The early 20th century was a time of change throughout India as the colonial government, defensive in the face of rising anti-British sentiment, wa…


(2,640 words)

Author(s): Timothy Lubin
The noun adhikāra (and related forms derived from adhi + kṛ-, “be or place over,” “aim at,” or “superintend”) denotes a range of personal capacities and statuses, especially those conferred by religious or social convention. These may be classified in terms of whether they belong to general usage or to one of the specialized spheres of ritual, politics, or law. (For adhikāra [and compounds beginning with adhikāra], see An Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Sanskrit on Historical Principles, vol. III, Poona, 1982, 1571–1601). With regard to persons, the word adhikāra commonly denotes a c…


(5,639 words)

Author(s): Georg Pfeffer
For millennia a major section of the Indian population has been loosely identified with the original inhabitants of the subcontinent – Ādivāsīs. They live on the Eastern and Western Ghats and other hills and highland plateaus, primarily those between Gaṅgā and Godāvarī. A relatively insignificant number of migrant herders in the western Himalayas carry the same administrative status, while the tribal population of the northeastern hill provinces may have become Indian in colonial times but remains culturally akin to the neighboring ethnic minorities of Burma and China.  Throughou…


(3,042 words)

Author(s): Manfred Hutter
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has a population of about 30 million. Next to the dominating Sunni Islam, there is a considerable Šīʿa minority of about 15% of the population. The non-Muslims in Afghanistan also include Hindus and Sikhs, but the total number of them in 2012 is only a guess and varies widely. Some sources calculate that there might be only 500 Sikhs and Hindus, others say there might be 1,100 Hindus and 4,900 Sikhs, or even more in recent years (Ballard, 2011, 9, 21-22). Geo…


(2,033 words)

Author(s): Ron Barrett
The Aghorīs represent a broad collection of Indian religious traditions that seek to achieve a psycho-spiritual state of nondiscrimination in which there is no fear of or aversion to any person or object (Barrett, 2008). Aghorī commonly believe that this state, this teaching, this tradition, known as Aghor (lit. non-terrible), is natural and universal, but that it is usually lost by socialization into culturally specific prejudices, such as those associated with ritual pollution/impurity and cas…