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Gandharvas and Apsarases

(4,400 words)

Author(s): Oberlies, Thomas
Gandharvas and apsarases, often mentioned as being closely associated as either lovers or married couples ( AVŚ. 2.2.5; 4.37.7, 12; AVP. 1.89.2), have been conceived of as a class of semidivine beings throughout the history of Hinduism. According to the Aitareyabrāhmaṇa (3.31), they form a group besides “gods and men, serpents and fathers” (see also JaiUBr. 1.41.1). They are supposed to associate with human beings, but not always without danger for the latter. Especially the Atharvaveda emphasizes their dangerous features, naming them in one breath with piśācas and rākṣasas ( AVŚ.…
Date: 2019-01-30

Non-Violence

(1,896 words)

Author(s): Otto, Eckart | Schmälzle, Udo Friedrich | Oberlies, Thomas
[German Version] I. Bible Hebrew Bible uses violence (חָמָס/ ḥāmās; שׂד/ šōd) to denote the illegal use of physical force (Gen 49:5), false ¶ testimony in court (Exod 23:1; Deut 19:16), economic exploitation (Amos 3:10; Zeph 1:9), especially of the poor (Jer 22:3), and assault on God (Job 21:27) or his laws (Ezek 22:26). All violence against human beings is also violence against God (Gen 6:11, 13). Law (Law and jurisprudence: III) with its fundamental function of settling conflicts and preventing the transgression of norms that provokes violence is the primary …

Priesthood

(7,504 words)

Author(s): Friedli, Richard | Otto, Eckart | Dignas, Beate | Elm, Dorothee | Kraus, Georg | Et al.
[German Version] I. Religious Studies Etymologically the term priest derives from Greek πρεσβύτερος/ presbýteros, “elder”; it denotes a religious functionary, especially an expert responsible for the cult. The Greek word did not originally have this meaning. A second semantic strand puts a priest (Gk ἱερεύς/ hiereús, Lat. sacerdos) in charge of things that are sacred (Sacred and profane). The characteristics that comparative religion usually associates with priesthood are often transferred globally from Christianity, especially Roman Cathol…

Buddhism

(2,972 words)

Author(s): Oberlies, Thomas
Concept 1. ‘Buddhism’ is the term used to denote the religion descending from the ascetic movement founded by Gautama Buddha. To be sure, the teachings of early Buddhism have been developed in very different ways over the course of time. A large number of schools, at times with considerably divergent philosophical systems and corresponding monastic rules, were and are scattered across an immense geographical space (today nearly all of Asia, with the exception of India, Buddhism's land of origin). The three great directions are Tantric ( Tantra), Mahāyāna (Northern), and Hīnayāna (Sou…

Buddha

(1,344 words)

Author(s): Oberlies, Thomas
The Historical Buddha 1. According to tradition, Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, was sprung of a noble family of the Śākya people. Presumably he was born in the fifth century BCE (today's research places his life span c. 450–370), the offspring of Śuddkodana and Māyā(devī), in the border region between today's Nepal and India, and given the name Siddhārtha. Shortly after the birth of his son, Rahula, deeply stirred by a meditative experience, he left his family and began to embrace variou…

Name(s)

(1,758 words)

Author(s): Oberlies, Thomas
Definition The expression name indicates a certain category of words that serve to designate persons and groups (peoples, classifications of peoples, families), localities (countries, places, mountains, rivers), things (animals, plants, stars, days of the weak, months and seasons, institutions, colors) and events (Waterloo, Bethlehem) in their individuality and singularity. Proper names ( nomen proprium) refer to individual objects. This distinguishes them from appellatives (and: classifications, nomen appellativum), which denote an entire kind (‘angels,’ ‘dev…

Prayer/Curse

(1,682 words)

Author(s): Oberlies, Thomas
Definition 1. Prayer is one of the typically religious forms of communication. With prayer, a person turns to the gods—aloud or in a whisper, wordlessly or in thought, as an individual or in a group, for oneself or for others. The purpose is not (or at least not primarily) so that the god will make an appearance (epiphany); rather in conformity with the emphatically asymmetrical relationship between gods and human beings, prayer is usually formulated as a request, so that it frequently includes t…

Priestertum

(6,604 words)

Author(s): Friedli, Richard | Otto, Eckart | Dignas, Beate | Elm, Dorothee | Kraus, Georg | Et al.
[English Version] I. ReligionswissenschaftlichEtym. leitet sich der Begriff »Priester« vom griech. πρεσβυ´τερος/presby´teros, »der Ältere«, her; er bez. ganz allg. einen rel. Funktionsträger, insbes. den für den Kult zuständigen Experten. Dem zugrundeliegenden griech. Wort kommt diese Bedeutung urspr. nicht zu. Nach einem zweiten Bedeutungsstrang verwaltet der Priester (griech. ι῾ερευ´ς/hiereu´s, lat. sacerdos) das Heilige (heilig und profan). Die Inhalte, welche heute üblicherweise im Religionsvergleich mit dem Priestertum (Pt.) verbunden …