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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Tagore

(4,839 words)

Author(s): Victor van Bijlert
Budding Poet  Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was the 14th child of Debendranath Tagore (1817-1905) and Sarada Devi (1830-1875). As Rabindranath’s biographer K. Kripalani remarked, "When the child was born the event, however, seemed of little significance" (Kripalani, ²1980, 33). His stature as the most important member of the Tagore clan came only after he received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913. Then he rose to world fame. But already in the 19th century, Rabindranath was steadily gainin…

Tamil Nadu

(10,578 words)

Author(s): Archana Venkatesan
Located on the eastern coast of India, the present state of Tamil Nadu shares borders with Karnataka, Andra Pradesh, and Kerala. Its traditional borders, attested to in early and medieval literature, are marked by the Vēṅkaṭam Hills in the north and Kanniyakumari in the south. During the Caṅkam period (1–3 cents. CE; see Tamil texts), the Tamil linguistic-cultural area corresponded to the three major kingdoms (which comprised districts known as nāṭus) of the Chola (Tam. Cōḻa), Pandiya (Tam. Pāṇṭiya), and Cera (Tam. Cēra). Over the next three centuries, and un…

Tamil Texts and Language

(5,362 words)

Author(s): Archana Venkatesan
Tamil (Tam. Tamiḻ) belongs to the Dravidian family of languages and has a continuous literary history that can be traced to at least 1st century CE. It is primarily spoken in South Asia, with the greatest concentration of speakers in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. As a result of migrations and resulting diaspora communities, Tamil is also spoken widely in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Fiji, and Mauritius. The earliest strata of Tamil literature, referred to as Caṅkam literature, dates from the 1st–3rd centuries CE. This literature is largely secular and i…

Tantra

(10,680 words)

Author(s): David Gordon White
Tantra is a distinctive religious system documented in Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain scriptures that began to appear near the middle of the 1st millennium CE. For their adherents, the Hindu Tantras are works of divine revelation, flowing from the mouth(s) of one or another of the supreme tantric deities. As such, they are distinct from the far more ancient revelations of the Vedas (Śruti) as well as from the epic and puranic canons that make up Hindu tradition (Smṛti). Many of these works have the word tantra in their title, a term derived from the verbal root tan-, “to extend,” that denotes t…

Tantras

(9,893 words)

Author(s): Travis L. Smith
Because of its historical fluidity, traditional secrecy, and frequently insalubrious associations, the term tantra is one of the most difficult to define in all of Hinduism – more difficult still in that its boundaries are by no means limited to Hindu practice. Given the complications in definition, which will be addressed in some detail below, it will be useful to first understand the term as used in popular discourse. “Tantra” has distinct, but related, connotations as it is employed in modern Indian langu…

Tapas

(3,572 words)

Author(s): David Carpenter
The Sanskrit word tapas is frequently translated as “austerity” or more broadly as “asceticism.” The word itself derives from the Sanskrit verb tap-, “to heat,” “to be hot.” Accordingly tapas can refer to a variety of practices aimed at the generation of a kind of “heat” as well as to the heat so generated. Though the term eventually comes to mean a specifically “ascetic,” often painful heat produced by the practice of austerities such as fasting, and with asceticism more generally, its core meaning of the production of hea…

Tarigoṇḍa Veṅgamāmba

(5,595 words)

Author(s): V. Narayana Rao
Tarigoṇḍa Veṅgamāmba, who lived between the mid-18th and the early 19th century (according to Krishanmurti [1983], the dates are 1730/1735–1817), was a prolific writer in Telugu who wrote some 18 books. Not much is known about her except what she says about herself in her writings. She was the daughter of Kānāla Kṛṣṇārya and Maṅgamāmba and was married to Iñjeṭi Veṅkaṭācalapati.  Legends about her are abundant. She was born with a determined devotion to the god Kṛṣṇa, on whom she constantly meditated and to whom she sang. Her father decided to have her mar…

Temple: Form and Function

(10,883 words)

Author(s): Leslie C. Orr
The temple is a highly significant institution and site for ritual, and a culturally important type of structure in the history of Hinduism and up until the present day, although for many Hindus it is not the primary focus for their religious activities (see temple rituals). The term “temple” may be applied to a wide range of constructions, from the smallest and simplest shrines along a path or under a tree to the grandest assemblage of monuments built up over the centuries at famous pilgrimage sites ( tīrthas). There is also great variation in the forms and meanings of the Hindu …

Temple Rituals

(17 words)

Author(s): Gayacharan Tripathi and Anna Ślączka
Temple Rituals: North India Temple Rituals: South India Gayacharan Tripathi and Anna Ślączka Bibliography  

Temple Rituals: North India

(6,378 words)

Author(s): Gayacharan Tripathi
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact period in history during which temples and image worship developed in India. No religious edifice has yet been discovered in the many hitherto excavated Indus Valley cultural sites in northern and northwestern India, and the few, mostly mutilated, images unearthed so far do not seem to belong to any temple. Although the finds of a number of stone artifacts that are shaped like a liṅga point toward prevalence of phallus worship, if it existed, it must have been carried out in smaller shrines situated under trees or in th…

Temple Rituals: South India

(8,634 words)

Author(s): Anna Ślączka
Ritual forms an essential part of Hinduism, and both temple and home are its important centers. This is the case all over the Indian subcontinent. Yet, for historical reasons and due to the influences from the strong local culture, South Indian rituals differ from those performed in the North in many important aspects. South India has a concentration of temple towns, such as Madurai, Chidambaram, Kanchipuram, Thiruvannamalai, Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), and others, which go back many centur…