Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism

Purchase Access
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..

Subscriptions: see

Iconography and Images (Murtī)

(29 words)

Author(s): Gérard Colas, Crispin Branfoot and Gautama Vajracharya
Iconography and Images (Murtī): Ancient Concepts Iconography and Images (Murtī): Art Iconography and Images (Murtī): A Methodology Gérard Colas, Crispin Branfoot and Gautama Vajracharya Bibliography  

Iconography and Images (Murtī): A Methodology

(7,351 words)

Author(s): Gautama Vajracharya
Hindu iconography and art, as a part of a bigger picture of the artistic expressions of ancient India, can be understood properly only if we pay attention to the fact that they are closely associated with the typical ecological system of the subcontinent (see Vajracharya, forthcoming ). In order to justify this assertion, I will explain this new methodological approach, then analyze the visual representations of some vedic divinities whose attributes dramatically changed after the Aryans settled in their new homeland, thus giving birth to Hindu iconography of the classical period.…

Iconography and Images (Murtī): Ancient Concepts

(5,094 words)

Author(s): Gérard Colas
This article will briefly examine some concepts of material religious image in ancient India, that is to say, from vedic times (probably c. 12th–8th cents. BCE) to 12th century CE. It will not deal with abstract images that are meditated upon in spiritual practices or with the aesthetic of image or art history. The earliest historical testimonies of material religious images in the subcontinent go back to the 2nd century BCE, after which it gradually became an omnipresent phenomenon. Yet, no Ind…

Iconography and Images (Murtī): Art

(8,355 words)

Author(s): Crispin Branfoot
Modern Hinduism is a very visual culture, populated by brightly colored and ornamented images of gods, goddesses, and divine beings, some with multiple arms and heads, and dramatic expressions (see fig. 1). These images have been made for the past two thousand years and are one of the principle means for the transmission of the Hindu tradition to its practitioners. An understanding of iconography – the study of the subjects and themes of images (as well as architecture) – is essential for the interpretation of this vibrant, visual world of Hinduism over the past two millennia. At its most …