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)

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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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(9,341 words)

Author(s): Bailey, Greg
Gaṇeśa is the fat-bellied god, instantly recognizable because of his elephant head set upon a human body. He has enjoyed considerable popularity in western and southern India for many centuries and is also becoming increasingly popular in the north. Additionally, his popularity is on the rise in Western countries, judging from the relatively larger numbers of images of Gaṇeśa than of other gods available in shops selling Indian goods. In the 21st century, he has even become popular in North Am…
Date: 2020-05-18

Gandharvas and Apsarases

(4,392 words)

Author(s): Oberlies, Thomas
Gandharvas and apsarases, often mentioned as being closely associated as either lovers or married couples ( AVŚ. 2.2.5; 4.37.7, 12; AVP. 1.89.2), have been conceived of as a class of semidivine beings throughout the history of Hinduism. According to the Aitareyabrāhmaṇa (3.31), they form a group besides “gods and men, serpents and fathers” (see also JaiUBr. 1.41.1). They are supposed to associate with human beings, but not always without danger for the latter. Especially the Atharvaveda emphasizes their dangerous features, naming them in one breath with piśācas and rākṣasas ( AVŚ.…
Date: 2020-05-18


(4,684 words)

Author(s): Alley, Kelly
For at least two and a half millennia, the Gaṅgā basin has served as the seat of human civilization. Early Buddhist records describe the river valley as a large jungle where agriculturalists worked to slowly colonize the resource base of hunter- gatherer populations (Gadgil & Guha, 1992, 78). By the 4th century BCE, Pāṭaliputra (now near Patna, the capital of the state of Bihar) was one of ten ancient capital cities of India. Supported by heavy trade along the river, Pāṭaliputra dominated the…
Date: 2020-05-18


(4,920 words)

Author(s): Findly, Ellison B.
Gārgī Vācaknavī is a woman philosopher from the early upanishadic era who participated in a tournament held at the court of King Janaka of Videha. Her story is known from an account in the Bṛhadāraṇyakopaniṣad, which is one of very few to highlight the lives of gifted women thinkers in ancient India. These stories undermine a traditional vision of women as silent and invisible bystanders to male dominance of vedic intellectual life. Gārgī’s performance at the philosophical tournament raises serious questions about the social int…
Date: 2020-05-18

Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism

(10,857 words)

Author(s): Valpey, Kenneth
The constellation of persons, communities, texts, doctrines, and practices denoted by the term "Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism" constitutes a distinctive tradition of religious affiliation centered on the worship of Kṛṣṇa (regarded as the source of all Viṣṇu forms and avatāras) with geographical origination and locus in the region of greater Bengal. “Gauḍīya” is an adjectival derivative of Gauḍa, referring roughly to the areas of present-day West Bengal and Bangladesh. Gauḍīya Vaiṣṇavism is also referred to as Bengal Vaiṣṇavism …
Date: 2020-05-18

Gayatri Pariwar

(2,964 words)

Author(s): Heifetz, Daniel
The All World Gayatri Pariwar is a modern Hindu-based movement that aims to repopularize and universalize vedic-style ritual practices, especially recitation of the gāyatrīmantra (a particularly important mantra from the Ṛgveda originally dedicated to the sun god Savitṛ: om bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ, tat savitur vareṇyaṃ, bhargo devasya dhīmahi, dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt). Often referred to more succinctly as the Gayatri Pariwar, this movement coalesced around a journalist and independence activist named Shriram Sharma (hereafter “Gurudev,” following commu…
Date: 2020-05-18


(4,074 words)

Author(s): McHugh, James
Whether in the adornments of temples, in mythologies, as a part of poetic descriptions of gods and heavens, or in consecration rites, gemstones play a number of important roles in Hindu texts and traditions. Gemstones also continue to constitute an important bridge between the theories and practice of Indian astrology and luxurious adornment.The relation between India and gemstones is old and complex. For a long time, both in reality and in the Western and Indic imaginations, India was at the heart of the production of and trade in precious gemst…
Date: 2020-05-18


(12,866 words)

Author(s): Pechilis, Karen
Hindu tradition, like many others, has constituted itself as having a vested interest in defining gender and classifying every human being, deity, and animal, and even many plants in accordance with it. Gender is a key marker, predominantly imagined as a binary between female and male, with which society bar codes members of its expansive worldview. At the same time, Hinduism has also generated alternatives to the familiar binary, including ideas of more porous boundaries as well as challenges t…
Date: 2020-05-18

General Abbreviations

(287 words)

app. appendix approx. approximately Arab. Arabic arch. archeological Ardh.  Ardhamagadhi Ass. Assamese astr. astronomical Aves. Avestan b. born Bah.  Bahasa Indonesia Bal. Balinese BCE before the Common Era Beng.  Bengali bot. botanical Braj.  Brajbhasha Burm.  Burmese c. circa CE Common Era cent./cents. century/centuries ch./chs. chapter/chapters Chn. Chinese cit. cited by comm. commentary crit. ed. critical edition d. died dir. director diss. dissertation Drav.  Dravidian ed./eds. editor, edited by/editors ET English translation et al. and others etym. etymology f./ff.…
Date: 2020-05-18


(3,071 words)

Author(s): Hutter, Manfred
At the end of the first decade of the 21st century, approximately 67,000 people of Indian origin lived in Germany with a German passport, and about 43,000 Indian citizens. Such data can only be a general estimate, because people who originally came as Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka or as “Indians” from Afghanistan are sometimes also included in such numbers. Another inaccuracy appears as persons of the second and partly already the third generation of migrants from the Indian subcontinent are inc…
Date: 2020-05-18