Brill’s Encyclopedia of the Religions of the Indigenous People of South Asia Online

Get access Subject: Asian Studies

Edited by:
Marine Carrin (Editor-in-Chief), University of Toulouse Jean Jaurès, and Michel Boivin, Centre for South Asian Studies (CNRS-EHESS), Gérard Toffin, Centre d’Études Himalayennes, Paul Hockings, University of Illinois at Chicago, Raphaël Rousseleau, Université de Lausanne, Tanka Subba, North-Eastern Hill University, Harald Lambs-Tyche, University of de Picardie-Jules Verne (Section Editors)

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Brill’s Encyclopedia of the Religions of the Indigenous People of South Asia strives to reflect the diversity of indigenous cultures of South Asia with its many language groups and religious traditions. Shaped by their own mythologies, these tribal religions differ in form and content from Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, Sikhism, and Christianity, though variants of the latter traditions have been adopted by some indigenous people. Religion is taken in a broad sense and includes aspects of morality, symbolism, identity formation, environmental concerns, and art. Far from being simple survivals of an earlier stage, these religions often show remarkable capacity for adaptation and change. The approach is contemporary rather than a reconstruction of an anterior state, though it does not overlook relevant historical processes.

More information:

Naga: Religion, Politics, and the Problem of Secularism among Upland Nagas

(7,030 words)

Author(s): Wouters, Jelle J.P.
Imagine a land where politicians build churches, work as missionaries in their spare time, or sponsor members of their electoral constituencies to study theology in Bible colleges near and far. A place where a formally (state-salaried) appointed state chaplain inaugurates political meetings and events with prayer and closes them with a benediction, where politicians regularly preach from pulpits on Sundays, proclaim to be doing “God’s work” when they propose legislation and publicly attribute th…
Date: 2019-11-02

Nepal: Introduction

(7,851 words)

Author(s): Toffin, Gérard
Nepal’s Indigenous Groups: A Problematic ClassificationThe indigenous peoples of Nepal are currently categorized as Ādivāsī-Janajātī, two words that became a commonplace in everyday language at the end of the 20th century, and which are usually translated in English as “indigenous nationality.” Ādivāsī means “Original Inhabitant,” “Aboriginal,” and is synonymous with autochthonous. Janajātī is a vaguer term, referring to “ethnic group” and translated as “nationality” within the Nepalese context, foll…
Date: 2019-11-02

Newar: Buddhism and Ethnicity among the Newars

(6,585 words)

Author(s): Toffin, Gérard
Religious creeds and practices are highly dependent on the sociopolitical realities that prevail in the area where they are performed. They may be met with resistance, encouraged, or instrumentalized. Whatever the case, they are largely conditioned by regional politics, by the sense of identity of the communities concerned, as well as by the dominant values appreciated locally. To fully understand the main religious orientations within a specific group, therefore, these secular matters need to b…
Date: 2019-11-02

Newar: Fact Sheet

(308 words)

Author(s): Toffin, Gérard
Newar (or Nevāḥ, in Newari). Population: 1.3 million in Nepal according to the 2011 census, representing five percent of the total population of Nepal. They are concentrated mostly in the Kathmandu Valley, which has been their homeland for many centuries. A large Newar diaspora lives in various Nepalese urban market centers (hills and Tarai plains) and increasingly abroad, particularly in India, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia. Newars (Nevāḥpiṃ or Nepāḥpiṃ) speak a Tibeto-Bu…
Date: 2019-11-02

Newar: The Indigenous Background of Newar Religion

(7,604 words)

Author(s): Toffin, Gérard
Newar religion has little in common with the religious practices and faiths of less developed and less Hinduized tribal groups of India, such as the Birhors, Kurumbas, and those of the Andaman Islands. It also markedly differs from the religion of the larger Munda, Bhil, and Naga Indian tribes, even though some common features do exist. Similarly, Newar religion notably stands out from the different Nepalese indigenous groups, such as the Limbus or the Gurungs. In a word, Newar culture is highly…
Date: 2019-11-02