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Caste

(483 words)

Author(s): von Brück, Michael
Caste (Port. casta, “race, lineage”), which is fundamental to Hinduism, rests on the idea of ritual purity (Cultic Purity). It is also a socially and historically conditioned way of organizing society with a religious sanction. 1. Caste is based on racial distinction (the Sanskrit word for caste, varṇa, means “color”), which resulted from centuries-long struggles between the light-skinned ¶ Aryan conquerors and the dark-skinned original inhabitants. It is also based on a class and guild system that, through regional, economic, and religious differenti…

Karma

(518 words)

Author(s): von Brück, Michael
Karma (Skt. karma, act [noun]) denotes in the Vedic period a special sacrificial act, then, from the time of the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa and the early Upanishads, all the actions in life that carry directly in themselves their own material and moral effect. Karma is one of the basic ideas of all Indian religions (Buddhism; Hinduism; Jainism) but is variously interpreted. It signifies universal interdependence and thus transcends a causality that is merely material, subjecting also the psychological,…

Hinduism

(3,354 words)

Author(s): von Brück, Michael | Rajashekar, J. Paul
1. Characteristics Hinduism is a very complex, contradictory, yet coherent nexus of writings, rites, and ways of life. It is not an organized religion stabilized by dogmatic unity but an order that is believed and lived out as supratemporal and cosmic (as sanātana dharma, “traditional duty” or “traditional practices”) and that regulates precisely all the spheres of individual life and the arrangement of social groups (Caste). It unites in itself widely divergent religious types, from personalistic theism to a doctrine of transpersonal is…

India

(5,255 words)

Author(s): von Brück, Michael | Rajashekar, J. Paul
1. General Situation India, consisting of 26 states and 6 union territories, became an independent nation-state in 1947, when British rule ended and the subcontinent was partitioned into India and Pakistan. Little is known about its early inhabitants. Advanced civilization has existed in India since 3000 b.c. but has undergone much change and destruction as successive waves of immigrants invaded from the northwest. Indo-European groups entered in the second millennium b.c., and from their interming…

Religious Experience

(2,499 words)

Author(s): von Brück, Michael | Sparn, Walter | Stock, Konrad
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Experience is a process occurring directly in the conscious mind, whereby the perceiving subject and internal as well as external objects of the conscious mind link up to form an experience, representing a separate category, which is connected episodically with the moment in which a particular perception occurs. (Religious) experience (Ger. Erlebnis) is the subjective perception of an experience (Ger. Erfahrung). An experience is participation in an event; the accumulation of experiences generates knowledge. An event is c…