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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(9 words)

Pātañjala Yoga Rāja Yoga Haṭha Yoga Modern Yoga
Date: 2019-01-30

Yoga: Haṭha Yoga

(7,217 words)

Author(s): Mallinson, James
The word haṭha (lit. force) denotes a system of physical techniques supplementary to yoga more broadly conceived; Haṭha Yoga is yoga that uses the techniques of haṭha. Haṭha Yoga is first referred to by name in Sanskrit texts dating to around the 11th century CE, but some of its techniques can be traced back at least a thousand years earlier, to the epics and the Pali canon. Why these techniques were called haṭha is not stated in the texts that teach them, but it seems likely that, originally at least, they were called thus because, like tapas, with which they were associated, they we…
Date: 2019-01-30

Yoga: Modern Yoga

(4,839 words)

Author(s): Singleton, Mark
Yoga enjoys an unprecedented and massive popularity in the 21st-century globalized world. Practically every major urban center in the United Kingdom, Europe, North America, and Australia offers a wide range of yoga teaching in dedicated centers, church halls, schools, and health clubs, and yoga is becoming increasingly popular in Asia, South America, and the Middle East. Health club types of yoga are even seeing renewed popularity among affluent urban populations in India. Statistics regarding yoga practitioner numbers are difficult to come by and often unreliable. Ho…
Date: 2019-01-30

Yogananda and the Self-Realization Fellowship

(5,490 words)

Author(s): Gandhi, Shreena
Paramahansa Yogananda was born Mukunda Lal Ghosh in Gorakhpur, India, on Jan 5, 1893, and he died in Los Angeles, California, on Mar 7, 1952. A widely traveled man, who incorporated many influences into his religious philosophy, Yogananda espoused the practice of kriyāyoga or yogoda (a meditative practice that stresses the connection between the mind and breath). His book Autobiography of a Yogi has been in print since its publication in 1946 and has been translated into 33 languages. The aim of Yogananda’s practice and teachings was to find areas of intersection between yoga and scienc…
Date: 2019-01-30

Yoga: Pātañjala Yoga

(10,802 words)

Author(s): Jacobsen, Knut A.
The term Pātañjala Yoga refers to one of the so-called six darśanas, the Yoga darśana, the tradition of Hindu philosophy that has the Yogaśāstra (the Yogasūtra and its primary commentary, the Vyāsabhāṣya or Yogabhāṣya; 350–400 CE) as its foundation text and on which a number of philosophical commentaries were composed. The name Patañjali became associated with the text Yogasūtra as its supposed compiler. Pātañjala refers both to the “school belonging to Patañjali” and the text “composed by Patañjali.” The Yogasūtra of Patañjali is the foundational text of Yoga darśana, but the te…
Date: 2019-01-30

Yoga: Rāja Yoga

(7,220 words)

Author(s): Schreiner, Peter
Key words nowadays associated with Rāja Yoga are inwardness, mind control, purity, peace, bliss, meditation, easiness, being ancient, and authenticity – all of them supposedly representative of “classical” Yoga (Pātañjala Yoga) as canonized in the Yogasūtra attributed to Patañjali. Thus, “Rāja Yoga” falls in the domain of “Yoga” no less than of “Haṭha Yoga” and “modern yoga”. Besides the literal meaning of the term ("Royal Yoga"), tradition knows the (linguistically wrong) etymological derivation from rajas ([menstrual] blood). By its claim to superiority, “Royal Yoga” implie…
Date: 2019-01-30


(3,366 words)

Author(s): White, David Gordon
Tantric Yoginīs The yoginīs (“female yokers,” “female joiners”) are a ravening horde of medieval tantric goddesses that granted supernatural powers to the male tantric virtuosi called siddhas (perfected beings), vīras (virile heroes), or Kāpālikas (“Skull Bearers”), who, in their quest for supernatural powers ( siddhis), transacted with them in esoteric rituals on cremation grounds ( śmaśānas, also called pīṭhas: mounds or power places). They are attested in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions. The term is used more or less interchangeably with ḍākinī (either “flyer” or “…
Date: 2019-01-30


(1,048 words)

Author(s): Frenger, Marion
The Sanskrit term yoni means the womb or on a more physical level the female genitalia, in particular ­vagina and uterus. Material representations focus on the shape of the vulva as pars pro toto. As in most cultures, male and female genitalia have been symbols of fertility and procreation in an immediate sense. However, Hindu theology and philosophy have developed the symbolism of the yoni further; it does not primarily or exclusively serve as an allusion to the physical realities but on an abstract level represents prakṛti, the active force of creation as such and the womb of t…
Date: 2019-01-30