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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(3,692 words)

Author(s): Hans Harder
Hindus in Bangladesh today are a minority of about ten percent of the total population of the country. Official figures are not easily available since statistics of religious affiliation are treated as sensitive data by the Bangladeshi authorities (the yearly Statistical Pocketbook of Bangladesh, published by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, for example, withholds statistical information on religious communities), but it may be estimated that they number about 15 million individuals, thus constituting the largest Hindu population out…

Bards and Reciters

(3,316 words)

Author(s): Aditya Malik
Although bards, reciters, and singers are critically important in the transmission, performance, composition, and creation of opulent traditions of literature, oral and written, their role has received insufficient recognition in scholarly writings on the history of Indian literary genres (see also oral traditions). However, taking into account the preponderance of the performative in the majority of literary genres in India, it is vital that we also appreciate the creative responsibilities of p…


(4,882 words)

Author(s): R. Blake Michael
Basava (or Basavēśvara or Basavaṇṇa) is the purported founder of the Liṅgāyat (or Vīraśaiva) religious movement. His most likely dates are 1105-1167 CE, though some argue for 1134-1196 CE. As with most founders, there are both traditional versions of his life and challenges to the very claim that he, rather than a group of mystical teachers ( ācāryas), founded the movement. Those traditional views, even if verified in broad scope, are challenged in their details by historical and epigraphical evidence. Certainly his person, both traditional and histor…


(6,010 words)

Author(s): Jeanne Openshaw
The name “Bāul” refers to a type of religious minstrel or esoteric practitioner ( sādhak) of the Bengali-speaking region of South Asia, that is, West Bengal and Bangladesh. Bāuls are primarily known to others through their beautiful and often enigmatic songs. In theory, people of any religion, class, caste, or gender may become Bāul, but in practice almost all are from poor and rural Hindu or Muslim backgrounds. As such, they are sometimes viewed as unorthodox Vaiṣṇavas and Fakirs (Beng. Phakir; from Arab. faqīr), respectively. A person usually becomes Bāul through some kind…


(11,995 words)

Author(s): Tony K. Stewart
The Goddess Durgā: Enduring Image of Bengali Hindu Divinity The devotionalism that dominates Bengali Hindu religious belief and practice is puranic in its origins, extending the ritual interest that marks the later Upapurāṇas (see Purāṇas), many of which were fashioned in the northeastern sections of the subcontinent. The mythologies of Śiva, Kālī, and Kṛṣṇa are frequently invoked; but in the last several centuries, the goddess Durgā has emerged as the most common and enduring popular image of Benga…