Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism

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Subject: Asian Studies

Edited by: Knut A. Jacobsen (Editor-in-Chief), University of Bergen, and Helene Basu, University of Münster, Angelika Malinar, University of Zürich, Vasudha Narayanan, University of Florida (Associate Editors)

Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism presents the latest research on all the main aspects of the Hindu traditions. Its essays are original work written by the world’s foremost scholars on Hinduism. The encyclopedia presents a balanced and even-handed view of Hinduism, recognizing the divergent perspectives and methods in the academic study of a religion that is both an ancient historical tradition and a flourishing tradition today. The encyclopedia embraces the greatest possible diversity, plurality, and heterogeneity, thus emphasizing that Hinduism encompasses a variety of regional traditions as well as a global world religion. Presenting all essays and research from the heralded printed edition, Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism is now available in a fully searchable, dynamic digital format. The service will include all content from the six printed volumes..

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Dādū Dayāl

(5,800 words)

Author(s): Monika Horstmann
Dādū Dayāl (1545?-1603) was a religious teacher and poet in the Sant tradition who lived in Rajasthan and gave rise to a sect named the Dādūpanth (“Path of Dādū”). Dādū is the respectful endearing Rajasthani term for “grandfather” rather than a variant of the Muslim name Dā῾ūd. Dayāl(u) (“Compassionate”), sometimes also Dīndayāl(u) (“Compassionate with the Afflicted”), is an epithet attached to his name. Both epithets were used by Dādū himself for God and were hence applied by his followers to the master himself.  Life  On Dādū’s life, the only near-contemporary sources are the…

Dalit Critiques of Hinduism

(8,958 words)

Author(s): Roger Begrich & Shalini Randeria
“I had the misfortune of being born with the stigma of [being] an Untouchable. However, it is not my fault; but I will not die a Hindu, for this is in my power” (B.R. Ambedkar [see Zelliot, 1992, 206]). Debates on Nomenclature “Dalit” (meaning downtrodden, broken, torn into pieces) was first used in the context of caste by Jotirao Govindrao Phule (1827-1890), the leader of the Satya Shodhak Samaj, a 19th-century anti-Brahmanical movement. The Marathi word gained prominence as a collective pan-Indian signifier from the 1970s onward due t…


(6,393 words)

Author(s): Rupa Viswanath
“Dalit” today is the most widely used term in the English language and in scholarly circles for the South Asian subpopulation of former unfree agrarian servants, members of India’s lowest castes­ whose very touch was widely regarded to be polluting by those who consider themselves higher. Precolonial India lacked any single term for Dalits, and the relatively recent English-language coinage “Untouchable” (Charsley, 1996) expresses a particular theory of caste according to which caste itself is u…


(8 words)

Dance: Classical Tradition Dance: Regional Tradition: Kerala

Dance: Classical Tradition

(5,139 words)

Author(s): Ahalya Satkunaratnam
The concept of Hindu dance encompasses many regional practices, religious traditions, and forms of performance, reflecting the expansive term “Hindu.” In tracing the concept of Hindu dance, it becomes apparent that several practices that precede the expression “Hindu”…

Dance: Regional Tradition: Kerala

(5,628 words)

Author(s): George Pati
Kerala, the southwestern-most state in peninsular India located between the mountain ranges of the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea, occupies a total area of 62,543 km…


(6,883 words)

Author(s): Wade Dazey
The Daśanāmī order is a Hindu monastic federation that according to its own tradition was founded and organized by the famous Advaita Vedānta philosopher Śaṅkara. The hagiographic accounts of Śaṅkara’s ascetic life, the texts describing the normative structure of the order attributed to him, and the many influential philosophical texts attributed to Śaṅkara and his disciples, taken together, have endowed this order with considerable prestige and influence. If one accepts the conventional date…


(2,925 words)

Author(s): Antonio Rigopoulos
Dattātreya is a puranic deity, in origin a tantric antinomian yogin later sanitized and adapted to the devotional milieu of the Purāṇas. The mythical accounts present him as the son of the  ṛṣi Atri (“Devourer”; son of Brahmā and author of vedic hymns) and of his chaste wife Anasūyā (“Non-Envious One”). Thanks to the help offered by Anasūyā to the triad ( trimūrti ) of Brahmā, Viṣṇu, and Śiva (through her śakti , she had restored the sun’s light, which had been obscured by the pious Śāṇḍilī, who wished to save her husband Kauśika, cursed by sage Māṇḍav…

Death and Afterlife

(9,893 words)

Author(s): Elisabeth Schömbucher-Kusterer
As a biological phenomenon, death is…


(3,585 words)

Author(s): Marianne Q. Fibiger
Hindus in diaspora make up the most significant proportion of Hinduism in Denmark. However, Hinduism is also represented among the ethnic Danish community, either as an alternative or a supplement to the Evangelical Lutheran Church (the national church of Denmark), of which more than 80% of Danish citizens are members. Almost two thousand people of primarily Danish ethnic origin are a part of what could be termed Hindu-related groups (e.g. ISKCON, Radhasoamis, and Brahma Kumaris), but many more are related to Hindu-inspired groups (e.g. Transcendental Meditation and other yoga and …


(6,931 words)

Author(s): Saskia Kersenboom
Courtesans between Power, Shame, and Fame Devadāsī (slave of god) ranks among the most controversial and powerful incentives of Western fantasies about the East. As “container term,” it came to frame nearly all women working in the Indian public sphere, both sacred and secular; thereby it obliterated large differences in regional, historical, so…