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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(4,797 words)

Author(s): Bijlert, Victor van
Budding PoetRabindranath 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, 1980, 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 gaining …
Date: 2020-05-18

Tamil Nadu

(10,497 words)

Author(s): Venkatesan, Archana
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
Date: 2020-05-18

Tamil Texts and Language

(5,302 words)

Author(s): Venkatesan, Archana
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.…
Date: 2020-05-18


(10,594 words)

Author(s): White, David Gordon
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
Date: 2020-05-18


(9,773 words)

Author(s): Smith, Travis L.
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…
Date: 2020-05-18


(3,534 words)

Author(s): Carpenter, David
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…
Date: 2020-05-18

Tarigoṇḍa Veṅgamāmba

(5,549 words)

Author(s): Rao, V. Narayana
Date: 2020-05-18

Temple: Form and Function

(10,835 words)

Author(s): Orr, Leslie C.
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 …
Date: 2020-05-18

Temple Rituals

(12 words)

Author(s): Tripathi and Anna Slaczka, Gayacharan
Temple Rituals: North India Temple Rituals: South IndiaGayacharan Tripathi and Anna SlaczkaBibliography
Date: 2020-05-18

Temple Rituals: North India

(6,335 words)

Author(s): Tripathi, Gayacharan
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 tre…
Date: 2020-05-18

Temple Rituals: South India

(8,530 words)

Author(s): Slaczka, Anna
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…
Date: 2020-05-18