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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(13,294 words)

Author(s): Steiner, Karin
Yajña is the central notion of vedic religion (1500–500 BCE). Vedic religion is polytheistic, and the sacrifice, devoid of images and temples, is performed at temporary ritual enclosures. The fact that there is a voluminous corpus of literature available, the so-called vedic canon (see below), is of great advantage to researchers: from these texts the ancient rituals can be reconstructed in detail, and the texts also include interpretations of ritual elements and mystical speculation about them.The beginnings of vedic ritual can be traced back to Indo-Iranian times. An…
Date: 2020-05-18

Yakṣas and Yakṣiṇīs

(3,788 words)

Author(s): Keßler, Anne
Yakṣas are a class of demigods regarded as attendants of Kubera, the lord of wealth. They are often mentioned together with gandharvas  and rākṣasas and other semidivine members of the Hindu pantheon. Their female counterparts are the yakṣīs, also called yakṣiṇīs, sexually voracious beings who are usually not related by marriage to the yakṣas. Both yakṣas and yakṣiṇīs range in disposition from benevolent to malignant. Though they may do harm to human beings as they are believed to cause ailments, they are generally beneficial, especially when propitiated. Yakṣiṇīs are …
Date: 2020-05-18


(6,702 words)

Author(s): Söhnen-Thieme, Renate
Indo-Iranian Roots The word yama means “twin” (it is used in this sense in the Ṛgveda to refer to Indra and Vāyu, Indra and Agni, the Aśvins, etc.; see vedic gods), but in the Ṛgveda as well as in the Avesta (where he is called Yima), it is also the name of a mythical person, the son of Vivasvant; in the Avesta he is a mythical king, ruling in a kind of “golden age,” whereas in the Ṛgveda he is the ruler in the world of the deceased. In both traditions he seems also to have been, at some point, provided with a twin sister – Yamī in one (relatively late) dialogue hymn in the Ṛgveda (10.10), and Yimak in …
Date: 2020-05-18


(3,260 words)

Author(s): Kumar and George James, Bidisha
The Yamunā, a river of 1,376 km with its source at Yamunotri (“Mouth of Yamunā”) in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand (formerly Uttaranchal) is one of the most important rivers of India. It flows in a southward and eastward arc to its confluence with the Gaṅgā at Allahabad, once known as Prayāg (“Holy Confluence”). In its course through the northern plains, the Yamunā traverses such historic cities as Delhi and Agra, and the pilgrim centers of Mathura and Vrindavan. Revered as the mother that …
Date: 2020-05-18


(3,796 words)

Author(s): Pratap Kumar, P.
The pivotal role played by Yāmunācārya in the development of medieval Śrīvaiṣṇavism is evident in the enormous work that he had accomplished in the laying of the foundation for the core philosophical principles of the tradition. In the memory of the community, he certainly occupies a significant place as one who has sought out the person who would become the most dominant figure in the Śrīvaiṣṇava history, namely, Rāmānuja. At the outset, I wish to acknowledge that notwithstanding such significa…
Date: 2020-05-18