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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(5,374 words)

Author(s): Kenneth Valpey
Caitanya, generally referred to by his followers as Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu or Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya Mahāprabhu (1486–1533), holds a position of particular prominence in and well beyond Bengal as the founding inspiration, preceptor, and divinity of the Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavas, who are for this reason also referred to as Caitanya Vaiṣṇavas. It is to the person of Caitanya that divinity was attributed by followers from early on; and according to the accounts of his several early biographers, Caitanya’s ide…


(2,718 words)

Author(s): Vasudha Narayanan
The cakra, significant in the Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain traditions, may refer to a weapon, a chariot wheel, the wheel of dharma , the wheel of time, or occasionally, the orb of the sun. In devotional Hindu traditions, the cakra is primarily a discus, a weapon of Viṣṇu, and in this capacity, is eventually personified as Sudarśana (“Beautiful to Behold”). Sometimes the goddesses Durgā and Vaiṣṇavī are also depicted with a cakra in hand. Sudarśana, initially portrayed as a devotee, eventually becomes a deity in his own right, and is venerated at homes and worshipped i…


(5,368 words)

Author(s): Vasudha Narayanan
Sectarian, philosophical, architectural, and performing dimensions of what we call the Hindu traditions today have been in Southeast Asia for about two millennia. “Cambodia” is the Western name given to the country known in Khmer as Kampuchea, which comes from the Sanskrit kambuja (born of [the sage] Kambu). The people of this country and the language they speak are both known as Khmer. The larger Khmer Empire, which included the modern countries of Cambodia, parts of Laos, and Thailand, as well as other territories, was home to hundred…


(3,954 words)

Author(s): Harold Coward
According to the 2011 census, Hindus make up the largest South Asian diaspora community, with a population of almost 700,000. The earliest Hindus came to Canada during the 1950s and were Punjabis. The next-largest group were Hindus from Uttar Pradesh, middle-class Hindi speakers, who came with a large group of South Asian professionals during the 1960s. Tamil and Bengali Hindus began to arrive during the same period, many of whom were teachers. Also during the 1960s and 1970s, many Hindus arrive…


(10,414 words)

Author(s): Harald Tambs-Lyche
The term “caste,” as well as “caste system,” is commonly used to describe the social organization peculiar to India and most of South Asia. Typically, society here is divided into a number of named groups or communities that are ranked and, to a considerable extent, occupationally specialized. Membership of a caste is hereditary, and the groups are largely endogamous. A number of attempts have been made to define caste or caste systems more closely. Since each definition presupposes a particular…