Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online

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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 438 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 has ancient historical roots with many flourishing traditions today. Including all essays from the heralded printed edition, Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism is now to be regularly updated with new articles and available in a fully searchable, dynamic digital format.

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Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami

(3,679 words)

Author(s): Neubert, Frank
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami was born as Robert Walter Hansen in Oakland on Jan 5, 1927, and died in Kauai, the northernmost island of the Hawaii archipelago, in October 2001. He was orphaned at the early age of 11. In his youth, he learnt Western and Indian styles of dancing and soon became a successful professional dancer, performing for some time as the San Francisco Ballet’s premier danseur. It seems that he was deeply influenced by both his dancing teacher, a Rosicrucian with a strong interest in Indian culture and religion, and his aunt and guardian, …
Date: 2019-01-30

Sathya Sai Baba

(6,023 words)

Author(s): Srinivas, Tulasi
The Conquest of Death: Charisma in the Imagination, Globalization, and TranscendenceIt was not the death Sri Sathya Sai Baba had predicted for himself. On Apr 24, 2011, Swami Sathya Sai Baba (b. 1926) died in his hometown of Puttaparthi in South India. According to the BBC news service, Sathya Sai Baba had been admitted to the eponymous Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences hospital on Mar 27, 2011, suffering from “breathing difficulties.” But he “left his body,” as devotees termed it, at 7:40 a…
Date: 2019-01-30

Satī and Widowhood

(12 words)

Satī and Widowhood: Satī Satī and Widowhood: Widowhood
Date: 2019-01-30

Satī and Widowhood: Satī

(5,551 words)

Author(s): Courtright, Paul
The word satī has three basic meanings: 1.  a proper name, Satī, the goddess, a previous incarnation of Pārvatī; 2.  an honorific term for a married or saintly woman; and 3.  from the British colonial period onward, a wife who dies by immolation on the funeral pyre of her deceased husband, or the ritual thereof (see below). This article will briefly note the narratives around Satī and related deities, review the cultural and ethical values around the married woman, and examine historically and textually the phenomenon of satī immolations. Stories and Shrines The story of Satī, a previo…
Date: 2019-01-30

Satī and Widowhood: Widowhood

(2,509 words)

Author(s): Chen, Marty
The “plight” of the Indian widow – or, more specifically, the Hindu widow – has long captured the public imagination both inside and outside India. This is because widowhood in Hindu India is associated with vivid images: the satī of the widow who burns on her husband’s funeral pyre, the child widow, and the ascetic widow, including those who congregate in holy pilgrimage centers, such as Varanasi and Vrindavan. This is also because the prevalence of widowhood in India is among the highest in the world across all age groups. There a…
Date: 2019-01-30


(5,021 words)

Author(s): Dube, Saurabh
There have been at least four social-religious groups in the early modern and modern periods that have been known as Satnamis. The first three of these were distinct, small sectarian orders in different parts of North India. The fourth formation is that of the Satnampanth, a large caste-sect in the Chhattisgarh region of central India, a group that continues to be an important presence on the subcontinent (see also Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh). Satnāmīs in Early Modern India  Satnāmīs first find mention as a small sect that rebelled against the Mughal emperor Awrangz…
Date: 2019-01-30


(4,297 words)

Author(s): Söhnen-Thieme, Renate
Sanskrit satya (Ved. satyá, Avest. haithiia) most probably goes back to the weak form of sám (together) with the adjectival suffix -tyá (see Wright, 1988); the derivation from sát, the present participle of the verb as “to be” (which has influenced medieval and modern usage), with the suffix -ya (e.g. Mayerhofer, 1976, 1996) is not convincing, since this suffix is never added to participle stems. Thus the word satyá is originally an adjective meaning, not “existent, real,” but “in accord, conformable, consistent (with),” denoting a relationship between two items…
Date: 2019-01-30


(8,039 words)

Author(s): Brown, C. Mackenzie
In Hindu temples and cultural centers around the world, a visitor today often encounters not only traditional images of the gods and goddesses of the Hindu pantheon but also a myriad of posters, panoramas, and brochures extolling the scientific discoveries of ancient Indian, particularly Hindu, seers and scientists. These include discoveries in medicine, chemistry, metallurgy, astronomy, and technology. For instance, the newly constructed, magnificent Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple in Delhi boas…
Date: 2019-01-30


(14 words)

Secularism and Religion-State Relations in Modern India Secularism: A Search for Conceptual Spaces
Date: 2019-01-30

Secularism and Religion-State Relations in Modern India

(5,117 words)

Author(s): Das Acevedo, Deepa
In the Anglo-American tradition, the word “secularism” commonly indicates the principled detachment of religion from the institutions of public life (Levy, 2001). Degrees of detachment vary, from the absence of a state-sponsored or “established” religion, to the building of a “wall of separation” that prohibits religion from influencing governance and vice versa, to the exclusion of religious symbolism from contexts or actions associated with public life (Eisgruber & Sager, 2007). In India, howe…
Date: 2019-01-30

Secularism: A Search for Conceptual Spaces

(10,488 words)

Author(s): Bhargava, Rajeev
It is frequently argued that secularism is born out of the dialectic between Protestantism and the European Enlightenment, and that therefore it does not sit easily with Hinduism. How correct is this view? Can we argue that at least some features or some forms of Hinduism are compatible with secularism? The success of secularism depends on the availability of certain background conditions within the cultural and intellectual landscape of the religion in question. Are certain aspects or elements …
Date: 2019-01-30


(3,014 words)

Author(s): Jacobsen, Knut A.
Sevā, from the Sanskrit root sev-, “to serve,” has become a central concept in contemporary Hinduism. Sevā means selfless service and is associated with karmayoga, disciplined action, and bhaktiyoga, disciplined devotion. Sevā is also connected to other Sanskrit concepts such as dāna (gift giving), karuṇā (compassion), and preman (kindness). Selfless service ( sevā) is one of the main forms of generosity in Hinduism, the other being gift giving ( dāna). Of these two forms of generosity, dāna is perhaps older as a religious institution than sevā. Dāna as a ritual gift (gifts of dakṣiṇ…
Date: 2019-01-30


(10,118 words)

Author(s): Vanita, Ruth
Of the ancient religious practices that encompassed the worship of many gods and goddesses without actively seeking converts, Hinduism is now the only survivor. Hindus are inheritors of a wide variety of attitudes toward sexuality, some of which have been integrated into Hinduism by a process of accretion, and many of which are in a constant state of flux. As Hindus have hundreds of sacred books and teachers, there is no one prescriptive set of doctrines on sexuality that can claim primacy. Ther…
Date: 2019-01-30
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