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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(5,459 words)

Author(s): Daniel P. Sheridan
Madhva (1238–1317 CE) was the founder of…

Mādhva Sampradāya

(5,922 words)

Author(s): Deepak Sarma
The Mādhva school (also known as the Dvaita school) posits that the relationship between brahman (divine priciple) and the ātman (individual self) is dvaita (dual). Madhvācārya (1238–1317 CE), the founder of the school, was born of Sivalli Brahman parents in the village of Pajaka Kshetra (Pājakakṣetra) near Udupi in the Tulu Nadu area of southern Karnataka. There is very little information about Madhvācārya’s life in medieval Tulu Nadu. Aside from relevant colophons found in Madhvācārya’s own works, his biographical data derives from the Sumadhvavijaya (The Triumph of Madhvāc…

Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh

(18,587 words)

Author(s): Ramdas Lamb
The states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh together make up the central region of India, hereafter referred to collectively as “central India” or simply “the region.” During much of the British rul…

Madness (Unmāda)

(5,410 words)

Author(s): Mitchell G. Weiss
The term unmāda designates a serious mental illness, and it is acknowledged or discussed in various genres of Sanskrit literature. The condition was recognized as a serious problem for the affected individual, the social network of relatives, friends and day-to-day contacts, and for society at large. The manner in which unmāda was understood in Indian culture during the vedic and classical periods is indicated by Sanskrit treatises that discuss unmāda in some detail or briefly mention it …


(17,496 words)

Author(s): James L. Fitzgerald
The Mahābhārata is a widespread family of South Asian literary and performance traditions that has grown from roots that reach back across all of the history of India into vedic times, and past that into Indo-Iranian and Indo-European times. It thrives today in South and Southeast Asia and beyond: in various South and Southeast Asian traditions of theatre (such as terukkūttu


(9,511 words)

Author(s): Karin Preisendanz
The Sanskrit term mahābhūta (lit. great being) mostly occurs in the plural and is generally used …

Mahādevī (Devī, Śakti)

(7,332 words)

Author(s): Tracy Pintchman
Hindu texts and traditions recognize the existence of a wide range of discrete, individual goddesses. But many also speak of “the Goddess” as a single, supreme deity who is the source and foundation of all goddesses, maintaining that the goddess is both singular and multiple simultaneously. The epithets Devī (“Goddess”) or Mahādevī (“Great Goddess”) are often used to refer to the universal, all-encompassing Goddess, designating her nature as the unifying divine presence underlying all female deities and a supreme, divine being worthy of reverence. Mahādevī’s singular-yet-multip…


(4,964 words)

Author(s): Anne Feldhaus
Mahānubhāvs belong to a


(10,217 words)

Author(s): Antonio Rigopoulos
Maharashtra (“Great Nation”), one of the 28 states of India, was created on May 1, 1960, …

Mahima Dharma and Bhima Bhoi

(5,109 words)

Author(s): Johannes Beltz & Bettina Bäumer
Mahima Dharma ( Dharma of Glory) is one of the most important living religious traditions of Orissa. It originated in the 19th century as an indigenous reform movement, emerging out of the many devotional and mystical traditions of India. The earliest a…


(2,915 words)

Author(s): Vineeta Sinha

Maṇḍalas and Yantras

(6,704 words)

Author(s): Gudrun Bühnemann
Because of the popular interest in the topic, there has been considerable confusion about the meaning and significance of maṇḍalas. Some authors have indiscriminately dealt with Buddhist …


(10,042 words)

Author(s): Sthaneshwar Timalsina
Mantras are at the center of religious experience in India: they are found in all modes of ritual and practices, and they accompany all life events from birth to death. While mantras ground meditative pra…

Maratha (1674-1818)

(5,135 words)

Author(s): H. Kotani
The term “Maratha” has a wide range of meaning. In its widest sense, it denotes the people of Maharashtra in general who speak the Marathi language, but, in its narrowest sense, it denotes the warrior class of Maharashtra in the medieval age, popularly known as 96 families of the Maratha. In this article, the term “Maratha” will be used in its widest sense.  …

Martial Arts (Dhanurveda)

(5,632 words)

Author(s): Phillip Zarrilli
For anyone reading India’s two great epics, the Mahābhārata and the Rāmāyaṇa , it is soon apparent that martial arts and combat have been central to the history and cultures of South Asia since antiquity. In the well-known Bhagavadgītā section of the Mahābhārata, Kṛṣṇa elaborates a view of duty and action intended to convince Arjuna that, as a member of the warrior caste (Kṣatriya), he must overcome all his doubts and take up arms – even against his relatives. Both epics are filled with scenes describing how the princely heroes obtain and use their humanly or divinely acquired skills and powers to defeat their enemies: by sustained long-term training in martial techniques under the tutelage of great gurus like the Brahman master Droṇa; by practicing austerities ( tapas

Mata Amritanandamayi Mission Trust and Embracing The World

(5,537 words)

Author(s): Amanda J. Lucia
Mata Amritanandamayi Mission Trust (MAMT) is one of the initial not-for-profit organizations founded by Mata Amritanandamayi, who is officially known as Amma and colloquially known as Ammachi, both meaning mother. Amma is a contemporary transnational guru originally from the South Indian state of Kerala, who is perceived to be both a guru and goddess incarnation by her devotees. In 1981, Amma formally established the Mata Amritanandamayi Mission Trust and Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM). Both are not-for-profit organizations with their headquarters located in Kerala, India, at Amma’s primary āśram, Amritapuri. The Mata Amritanandamayi Math is a publicly d…

Mathematics and Geometry

(6,298 words)

Author(s): Kim Plofker
The title phrase “mathematics and geometry” requi…


(3,252 words)

Author(s): Paul Younger
Mauritius is a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It was uninhabited until the European colonial powers began sailing in that direction, but its hospitable climate and fertile volcanic soils soon attracted settlers, and it now has one of the most complex cultural mixes found …
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