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Nepal

(5,117 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel
Until 2006, Nepal declared itself to be the only constitutionally Hindu kingdom in the world; Hinduism was the official state religion, and many other forms of religion such as Buddhism were more or less declared to be part of Hinduism. Given such claims, the statistics provided by the Nepalese government are difficult to trust. According to the 2001 census, some 87% of people were officially Hindus, while only 5–7% were officially Buddhist. Most of the Buddhists that live in the eastern hills, …
Date: 2019-01-30

Saṃskāras

(5,126 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel
Saṃskāra is the Sanskrit term mostly used for Brahmanical-Sanskritic life-cycle rituals that are mainly widespread between Hindu and other (Buddhist, Jaina) communities. They belong to a category of Sanskritic domestic rituals ( karman, kriyā) that generally includes vedic sacrifices ( homa, yajña, iṣṭi, bali) and mantras, but sometimes also forms of religious services ( pūjā, upacāra, sevā), oaths ( vrata), or pilgrimages ( tīrthayātrā). The Hindu tradition knows up to 40 saṃskāras, of which 16 have achieved an almost canonical status (see below) and of which …
Date: 2019-01-30

Pilgrimage/Places of Pilgrimage

(9,650 words)

Author(s): Winter, Fritz | Raspe, Lucia | Jehle, Irmengard | Hartinger, Walter | Schmid, Josef Johannes | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies A pilgrimage is a journey by an individual or group, religiously motivated, usually over a substantial distance and (esp. in earlier periods) demanding great effort. A Western pilgrim today can hardly imagine the dangers to which a peregrinus was exposed. This Latin term, the etymon of the English word pilgrim, denoted a foreigner or in some cases an exile. A person who undertook a pilgrimage was thus someone who had to leave his or her familiar environment. The element of foreignness and movement also induced…

Redemption/Soteriology

(10,262 words)

Author(s): Gunton, Colin | Filoramo, Giovanni | Spieckermann, Hermann | Popkes, Wiard | Hübner, Michael | Et al.
[German Version] I. Terminology All the major concepts in soteriology have biblical roots. Of central importance today is the notion of reconciliation (II), which bridges the theological and secular realms. The original Greek word καταλλαγή/ katallagḗ involves the notion of exchange, which was early taken to imply that Christ takes the place of the sinner before God, so realizing atonement (at-one-ment) and making expiation. Associated ideas include substitution and representation, which conceive Christ as standing in for the sinner before God. Particular theolo…

Hinduism

(9,381 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel | Fischer-Tiné, Harald | Eisenlohr, Patrick | Gail, Adalbert J. | Lähnemann, Johannes | Et al.
[German Version] I. History – II. Religious Doctrine – III. Society – IV. Hinduism and Christianity I. History 1. Historical outline Hinduism, from Persian hindu (“one who lives by the Indus River”), is a collective term for those religious communities and their systems that formed on the south Asian subcontinent (India: I) or spread there, whose social organization is characterized by particular rules of lineage and marriage (the so-called caste system, see III, 2 below; Caste: I), who primarily uphold Vedic-Brahm…

Phenomenology of Religion

(1,708 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel | Bergunder, Michael
[German Version] I. Religious Studies The phenomenology of religion is the study of manifestations of religious phenomena (Phenomenon, Phenomenology), or their comparative morphology. The prime task is the recording of elements constituting religion, for example sacred objects, sacred sites, sacred times, actions, holy scriptures or people and groups, and also forms of religiosity. But the phenomenology of religion was usually less interested in finding analogies and parallels than in “grasping the essence” ( Wesenserfassung, Lanczkowski) of religious phenomena. In the fi…

Asceticism

(6,235 words)

Author(s): Harich-Schwarzbauer, Henriette | Ries, Julien | Podella, Thomas | Niederwimmer, Kurt | Köpf, Ulrich | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Church History – V. Ethics – VI. Judaism – VII. Indian Religions I. Religious Studies 1. Greece and Rome. The term “asceticism,” the Western meaning of which was shaped by Christianity, derives from Gk ἄσκησις/ áskēsis, a noun denoting activity; ἄσκεῖν/ askeîn originally meant “to craft/to decorate.” In the 5th century bce, the primary meaning became “to train/to exercise.” The exercise was mostly physical (gymnastics, …

Ātman

(282 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel
[German Version] is a Sanskrit masculine reflexive pronoun and noun meaning "self, soul, true personality." It is cognate with German Atem, "breath." Since the early Upaniṣads, it has been the Indian term representing various notions of the soul or self. "Ātman" denotes oneself in contrast to someone else; it can mean the breath-soul (cf. Gk πνεῦμα/ pneúma), a homunculus, the individual soul (sometimes in transmigration), the immortal spirit in a mortal body, or mind and consciousness. Already in the Upaniṣads ( Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 3, 7, 3ff.) the …

Avatāra

(175 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel
[German Version] (Sanskrit, masc., lit. “descent”) is the Sanskrit expression, already attested as early as around the 5th century bce, for the appearance or incarnation of a Hindu god, especially of the high god Viṣṇu. The Mahābhārata and Purāṇa texts disseminate the idea that the gods descend from their residences and assume human or animal fo…

Ahiṃsā

(156 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel
[German Version] The ethical requirement of ahiṃsā (fem.; lit. “noninjury [of living things]”) is common to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Based on an early Indian criticism of animal sacrifice and the idea of reincarnation, it began to emerge c. 500 bce, initially as an ideal of ascetic living, later as a general virtue of the upper castes. Above all, ahiṃsā forbids the killing of animals, especially cattle, for food (one result being widespread vegetarianism). M. Gandhi transformed ahiṃsā into a commandment of political non-violence and religious love for all living beings. Axel M…

Anxiety and Fear

(1,909 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel | Ringleben, Joachim | Schulz, Heiko | Loder, James E.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Philosophy – III. Philosophy of Religion – IV. Practical Theology I. Religious Studies Anxiety (Angst) or fear (anxiety is the deeper but less harmful form of the feeling) – S. Freud scarcely differentiates between the terms – is an alteration in feeling and behavior triggered by pain, actual or expected, loss, or expected punishment. Somatic responses triggered by a perceived threat – perspiration, increased pulse rate, a sense of confinement (cf. Lat. angustus, “narrow, constricted”) – are associated…

Liṅga and Yoni

(309 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel
[German Version] In Hinduism a liṅga (Sanskrit: “sign, distinguishing symbol, phallus”) is a phallic symbol of Śiva, common in or near temples of Śiva as a cylindrical pillar with a rounded top. It usually stands on a yoni (Sanskrit: “womb, vulva, source”), a bowl-shaped pedestal with a channel. The two together are considered a sign of creative energy and fertility and a symbol of Śiva and Śakti. What is probably the earliest liṅga, dating from the 2nd or 1st century bce, stands in Gudimallam in southeast India. There is no textual evidence of liṅga worship before the Mahābhārata epic. Liṅga…

Sacrifice

(13,083 words)

Author(s): Borgeaud, Philippe | Marx, Alfred | Chaniotis, Angelos | Bremmer, Jan N. | Moscovitz, Leib | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies The word sacrifice denotes both the living creature or offering sacrificed and the ritual action (e.g. destruction) through which that creature or object is dedicated to a supernatural being. If a distinction needs to be made, English and the Romance languages can use sacrifice (Eng. and Fr.; sacrificio Ital. and Span.) for the ritual action while using victim (Fr. victime, Span. víctima, Ital. vittima) for the creature sacrificed. Etymologically sacrifice suggests an action in which the sacrificed object is “made holy/sacred” (Lat. sacrum fac…

Darśana

(99 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel
[German Version] In Hinduism, darśana (Sanskrit, neut., literally “vision, sight”) designates: (a) the mutual beholding of believer and divinity in worship (Pūjā), and (b) a philosophical system, especially the six “orthodox” schools of Vaiśeṣika, Nyāya, Sāṃkhya, Yoga, Mīmāṃsā and Vedānta. In Buddhism, the term denotes either a rational insight or the meditative vision of a celestial Buddha or Bodhisattva. Axel Michaels Bibliography E. Frauwallner, Geschichte der indischen Philosophie, vol. I, 1953; vol. II, 1956; ET: History of Indian Philosophy, 1973 D. Eck, Darśan: Seeing …

Body Control Techniques

(1,198 words)

Author(s): Sullivan, Lawrence | Engelhardt, Ute | Michaels, Axel
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Taoism – III. Indian Religions I. Religious Studies Against the background of the significance of the body for religious experience, many religions have developed techniques with the aid of which the body can become the instrument of religious and spiritual transformation. These body control techniques are imbedded in an overall religious context that e…

Bhakti

(1,018 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel | Aleaz, K.P.
[German Version] I. History of Religions – II. Missiology I. History of Religions Bhakti (Sanskrit, “participation, devotion, love”) is a devotional, in some respects ecstatic, adoration of God and personal experience of God. It originated in southern India in the 7th century and spread to northern India from the 12th/13th centuries. The novelty in this often popular bhakti piety was the fact that …

Brahman

(249 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel
[German Version] (Sanskrit: neut. bráhman, accented on the first syllable; masc. brahmán, nom. brahmā). Brahman is a fundamental concept of Indian thought. In the earlier Veda, bráhman (neut.) means a formulaic utterance, hymn, or saying; later it comes to mean also the truth indwelling the utterance, the sacral power that controls even the gods. The masculine form denotes bearers of this power, for example priests (Brahmin). In the Brāhmaṇas (after c. 1000 bce), this power becomes the primordial ground ( Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 1.4.10: “Verily, in…

Caitanya

(194 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel
[German Version] (Feb 27, 1486, Nadia/Navadvīpa – c. Jul 9, 1533, Puri), commonly known as Viśvambhara Miśra, also as Kṛṣṇa-Caitanya (lit. “one whose consciousness is Kṛṣṇa ”). After a mystical encounter with Kṛṣṇa ¶ (Kṛṣṇa) Caitanya became a leading holy man of (Bengali or Gauḍīya-) Vaiṣṇavism and of bhakti piety. The brahmin Caitanya preached a personal, loving Brahman and a unio mystica with Kṛṣṇa, which is understood to be expressed in his unification with his lover, the cowherd Rādhā. His followers honor him as an avatāra of Kṛṣṇa or as an androgynous …

Brāhmaṇas

(134 words)

Author(s): Michaels, Axel
[German Version] (Sanskrit; pl. of brāhmaṇa, neut.). The Brāhmaṇas, a collection of sacrificial texts dating from the centuries just after 1000 bce, constitute the second oldest stratum of the Vedas. They comprise in part lengthy prose texts appended to the Vedic collections of the Rigveda, the Sāmaveda, and the Yajurveda, which they discuss and explain. The Brāhmaṇas embody a ritualistic form of religion, in which sacrifices correctly offered (Sacrifice: VIII)…

Dietary Laws

(4,404 words)

Author(s): Borgeaud, Philippe | Willi-Plein, Ina | Ebner, Martin | Puza, Richard | Reichman, Ronen | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies – II. Old Testament – III. New Testament – IV. Christianity – V. Judaism – VI. Islam – VII. Buddhism – VIII. Indian Religions I. Religious Studies A human society's dietary laws and prohibitions give us an excellent insight into its symbolic and ritual practices. The choice of nourishment (preferences and prohibitions) is closely tied to the overall image that a culture develops of itself, with whic…
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