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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(3,491 words)

Author(s): Pfeffer, Georg
Partition and Recent History At the Partition of British India in 1947, the leaders of newly independent Pakistan designated their state as the home of South Asian Muslims. Accordingly, the drawing of its boundaries was an artificial process – that is, the outcome of controversial negotiations rather than given cultural divisions. It resulted in the forced migration of millions Muslims to Pakistan and an equal number of non-Muslims fleeing to India under the impact of communal riots with mass killin…
Date: 2020-05-18


(9,994 words)

Author(s): Rastelli, Marion
The Pāñcarātra is a Hindu tradition that worships Viṣṇu as the supreme god. Its origins date back to the centuries before the Common Era, and still today it can be found in certain features of the Śrīvaiṣṇava tradition. This article will deal with a number of aspects of Pāñcarātra, including its early history, how its name has been interpreted, its literature, how it conceives revelation and its own transmission, its cosmology, its concept of god, the religious goals of its followers and their social structures, its rituals, and its subtraditions. Early HistoryThe Pāñcarātra as re…
Date: 2020-05-18


(2,769 words)

Author(s): Aktor, Mikael
The pañcāyatanapūjā is a worship of five gods, normally Śiva, Viṣṇu, Sūrya, Gaṇeśa, and Devī. In some cases Gaṇeśa would be replaced by Kārttikeya or Brahmā (Kumar, 1971, 109). The most common form of worship is with five specific stones, each representing one of the deities. But also small figurines and engraved yantras can be seen. The stones, figurines, or yantras are placed on a tray for domestic worship with one god in the center according to specific diagrams.The inclusivist idea of the pañcāyatana worship with its five gods has been seen as a reaction to the fragmentati…
Date: 2020-05-18


(3,134 words)

Author(s): Lochtefeld, James
As the rattletrap bus wheezed into Gangotri late on a June afternoon, several waiting men sidled up and asked the same question that they had asked previous arrivals: “Where are you from?” This is a common question throughout the world, but the questioners’ underlying purpose was business, not social. These men were paṇḍās, and each was seeking to connect with his pilgrim clients during their brief stay in this Himalayan pilgrim town. Paṇḍās (hereditary pilgrim guides; see also priests) are ubiquitous at Hindu pilgrimage sites. According to the traditional model, paṇḍās not onl…
Date: 2020-05-18


(4,893 words)

Author(s): Hatcher, Brian A.
Pandit (or pundit) is an Anglicized form of the Sanskrit word paṇḍita, an adjective meaning “wise” or “learned.” When used as a noun, paṇḍita refers to a learned or wise man (fem. paṇḍitā). This basic meaning has held true at least from the time of the ancient Upaniṣads (c. 500 BCE; see MuU. 1.2.9) down to the present day, when noted intellectuals and performing artists often bear the title (e.g. Pandit Ravi Shankar, the sitar virtuoso). The term was even applied as early as 1856 to an Englishman (see Yule & Burnell, 1989, 741). In the Sanskrit grammatical tradition, the word paṇḍita…
Date: 2020-05-18

Pārvatī (Satī, Umā)

(14,946 words)

Author(s): Mertens, Annemarie
Is Pārvatī more than just “Śiva’s faithful spouse”? Is she more than a “benevolent manifestation” of the Great Goddess (Mahādevī)? Whoever is concerned with the mythology of the Hindu goddess Pārvatī (“Daughter of the Mountain”), with her earlier existence as Satī (“The Good Woman”), or with her numerous local appearances must face these questions. It has proved difficult to make unambiguous statements about either the character or the significance of individual goddess figures. Their status in …
Date: 2020-05-18


(6,268 words)

Author(s): Acharya, Diwakar
The Earliest Times Pāśupatas were instrumental in the development and spread of Śaivism in ancient times. They were the earliest of sectarian Śaiva groups but are now extinct. They required exclusive faith in Rudra(-Śiva), which meant that a Pāśupata had to worship Rudra, putting aside all other deities and ancestors, and regard him as the sole lord and cause of the world. Direct references to Pāśupatas by this very name began to appear only in the 4th century CE, both in texts and in inscriptions. There is only one reference to Pāśupata knowledge in the Mahābhārata (12.337.59), and even …
Date: 2020-05-18


(5,561 words)

Author(s): Maas, Philipp A.
The Pātañjalayogaśāstra (Patañjali’s Authoritative Exposition of Yoga) is the oldest preserved Sanskrit treatise coming from a Brahmanical milieu dealing with Yoga as a system of knowledge on spiritual liberation through meditation-derived proper knowledge ( samyagjñāna). The work was probably partly composed and partly compiled by an author-redactor named Patañjali, about whom nothing specific is known, except that he must have lived at some time around the year 400 CE, that is during the Gupta era, possibly in the western regi…
Date: 2020-05-18