Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online

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(3,602 words)

Līlā, as with many rich Hindu terms and concepts, defies any easy or direct translation into English. It is a Sanskrit noun often translated well as simply “play,” and it is also translated as “sport,” or “pastime.” The idea of līlā is a key concept engaged by the major religious traditions of Hinduism in order to identify the innate nature and playfulness of the divine in relation to the cosmos, or the divine movements or acts that are expressive of the most interior dimensions of ultimate reality. Additionally, the word can also ref…

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Schweig, Graham, “Līlā”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online, Editor-in-Chief Associate Editors Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, Vasudha Narayanan. Consulted online on 25 March 2023 <>
First published online: 2018

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