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(441 words)

Author(s): Schweer, Thomas
1. In its general meaning, a mandala is a circle that divides a sacred place from the profane sphere. In Tibetan Buddhism (→ Lamaism), the concept designates a diagram bringing central doctrinal content to graphic expression, and serving as an aid for meditation. Through the aspects of a mandala, viewers may recall their religious tradition, and have practical meditation experiences as well. The basic form of the mandala consists in a concentric arrangement of circles and squares, together yielding a symmetrical, closed area. It represents a two-dimensiona…


(1,323 words)

Author(s): Schweer, Thomas
1. The concept of caste is usually associated with some of the seemingly most deplorable phenomena of the Indian social order. These include a fatalism opposed to progress, discrimination against large parts of the Indian population, and a religious determination of social class. Let it be pointed out, however, that this is a conceptualization maintained in Europe, which, in principle, can no longer think justice apart from an egalitarian society. It can even be argued that ‘caste’ as a…

Indian Subcontinent

(2,980 words)

Author(s): Schweer, Thomas
Well over a billion people, of various languages and cultures, live together on the Indian subcontinent. Cohabitation of cultures and religions is astonishingly peaceful, and conflicts are the exception. It is not only religious groups as such that jostle one another, Hindus crowding against Muslims, Sikhs, and Tamils; confrontations cut through the religions themselves, as, for instance, in Hinduism, when nationalists see India's identity as embodied in religion, while libe…