The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism (2 Vol Set)

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism (2 Vol Set)

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism (2 Vol Set)

912 Pages ·2009·15.35 MB ·English

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism (2 Vol Set)

The Illustrated Encyclopedia


of


Hinduism The Illustrated Encyclopedia


of


Hinduism


James G. Lochtefeld, Ph.D.


The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.


New York To teachers whose gift of learning I can never fully repay.


To students whose learning has taught me,and whose friendship has enriched me.


To Fiona,Vera,and Gavin,who put life back into perspective every day,


although they have yet to know this.


To Rachel,who has made all of this possible.


Published in 2002 by The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.


29 East 21st Street, New York, NY 10010


Copyright © 2002 by James G. Lochtefeld


First Edition


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without


permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer.


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


Lochtefeld, James G., 1957–


The illustrated encyclopedia of Hinduism/James G. Lochtefeld.


p. cm.


Includes bibliographical references and index.


ISBN 0-8239-2287-1 (set)


ISBN 0-8239-3179-X (volume 1)


ISBN 0-8239-3180-3 (volume 2)


1. Hinduism Encyclopedias. I. Title.


BL1105.L63 2002


294.5'03—dc21 99-27747


CIP


Manufactured in the United States of America


Staff Credits


Editors: Margaret Haerens, Michael Isaac, Christine Slovey


Editorial Assistant: Rob Kirkpatrick


Book Design: Olga M. Vega


Cover Design: MaryJane Wojciechowski


Production Design: Erica Clendening, Beverly Fraser, Christine Innamorato,


MaryJane Wojciechowski Table of Contents


Volume One


Introduction vi


How to Use This Book xiii


Contents by Subject xiv


Entries A–M 1–450


Volume Two


Entries N–Z 451–786


Note on Transliteration 787


Pronunciation Guide 788


Bibliography 795


Index 807


Photo Credits 875


About the Author 876


v Introduction


As you drive through the cornfields of northern Illinois, just north of the town of


Aurora, you may see a massive brick building that seems out of place. It stands three


or four stories high with an elaborate facade depicting pillars and cornices. Topped by


towering spires with flapping banners, it looks as if it belongs to another world. In a


sense it does—the architectural style comes from southern India, and the building


itself is a Hindu temple.


I was there late on a Sunday morning, and the parking lot was about half full.


There were cars from as far away as Michigan. The building’s main entrance was a little


below ground level, and as is common with Hindu temples outside of India, the low-


est level had a lobby, a kitchen, and a large meeting room that was comparable to the


“church basements” of its Christian counterparts. The lobby was furnished austerely,


with folding tables and chairs. There were a few people sitting near the kitchen, drink-


ing tea and chatting informally.


By the staircases leading upstairs to the temple room were rows of simple shelves,


fronted by low benches. I removed my shoes, as is customary before entering a temple,


both to preserve the temple and to signify that one is walking on holy ground. The


staircase marked the threshold between two regions, the outer and the inner world.


Upstairs, the temple was richly decorated. The presiding deity was Venkateshvara, a


form of the god Vishnu, whose image was placed in the center of the temple, the most


important space. Yet, as in most Hindu temples, there were images of deities from


throughout the pantheon: Ganesh, Shiva, Subrahmanya, other forms of Vishnu, dif-


ferent forms of the Goddess, and various subsidiary deities. Most of the images were


carved from black South Indian granite and polished to a mirrorlike finish. Many were


housed in small shrines built out of white marble. The primary function of a Hindu


temple is to serve as the home for the deities it contains, and it was clear that the


people who had commissioned the temple had spared no efforts. The temple had


been lovingly built and has been carefully maintained.


The worshipers in the temple took little notice of me, and I was allowed to roam


as I wished. Even though Venkateshvara was the temple’s presiding deity, the primary


activity while I was there took place in front of one of the subsidiary shrines, an image


of the Goddess in the form of Kumari (“virgin”). Seated around the image were about


twenty members of an extended family. The young girls, who were clearly the focus of


the rite, sat directly in front of the shrine. Brahmin priests took various offerings from


the older women: plastic gallon jugs of milk, Ziploc bags of sugar, and Tupperware


containers of yogurt and honey. Each offering was poured over the image in turn. A


pitcher of water was poured over the image between each offering to wash it clean.


The temple priests performing the rite were dressed traditionally, with white dhotis


(garments worn around the waist, extending below the knees), bare chests, and the


sacred thread over their left shoulders. They bore crisp red tilaks (sectarian identifying


marks) on their foreheads, and intoned the rite in rapid-fire Sanskrit.


Although a Christian visitor might find the languages, deities, and rites completely


alien, many of the other elements of the day would be soothingly familiar: a group of


families coming for worship on a Sunday morning, dressed in their “Sunday best,”


with others chatting over coffee and sweets in the “church basement.” Except for a few


sari-clad older women, the people there were dressed no differently than anyone one


might encounter on the street—the men in suits and jackets, the girls and women in


long, flowing dresses.


Just as the Hindu temple in rural Illinois had introduced Indian customs to the


local community, it was clear that the influence of American culture had set this


temple apart from its traditional counterparts in India. Unlike in India, where temples


serve mainly as places of worship, Hindu temples in America often serve as cultural


centers for the Hindu community, sponsoring events such as dance, music, and


drama performances, along with language study programs and festival celebrations.


vi In many cases, the membership of Hindu temples in America cuts across the tradi-


tional barriers that divide Indian society—social status, regional background, sectar-


ian loyalty—giving these Hindu temples far more inclusive constituencies.


The cultural landscape of the United States has changed dramatically in recent


years. Today it possesses a plurality of cultures that my grandparents and their gener-


ation probably would have found inconceivable. The Hindu temple outside of Aurora,


Illinois, is but one small sign of the increasing visibility of Asian cultures in American


society. Another sign of this pluralism is the growing number of ways that Americans


are coming into contact with traditional Hindu culture—whether through practicing


yoga, through alternative medical systems such as ayurvedic medicine, or through the


piquant delights of Indian cuisine.


Despite the growing interchange between Indian and American cultures,


Hinduism is still often stereotyped and misunderstood. On one hand are the remnants


of an antiquated point of view that refuses to see the United States as anything but a


Christian nation. Those holding this view either dismiss Hinduism as an alien or exotic


set of rituals and beliefs or actively condemn it as idolatrous. On the other hand are


people searching for an alternative spirituality who idealize Asian cultures as founts of


ancient wisdom. At the very least, such an uncritical embrace ignores these cultures’


genuine tensions, problems, and inequities; at the extreme it can result in a “designer


religion,” in which beliefs and practices from various religious traditions are selec-


tively adopted, wrenching each of these elements from its roots in a living culture.


Outright condemnation and idealized acceptance overlook the richness and com-


plexity of India’s religious and cultural traditions. To gain a genuine understanding, it


is important that we discern the cultural context behind Hindu beliefs, practices, and


history. In learning about this context, one quickly encounters familiar ideas: hard


work, thrift, education, and the importance of the family. Along with these general


similarities to American cultural values, one finds equally profound differences. To


examine the nuances of Hindu culture is to enter into a rich and complex world with


its own inner logic and consistency. Encountering and understanding a different


world view can throw one’s own into sharper perspective, enriching it with new depth


and understanding.


What Is Hinduism?


The very word Hinduism is misleading. The word was coined by the British as an


umbrella term, referring to any and all forms of religion in India, many of which share


few if any common features. It was used to describe all sorts of beliefs and practices,


from simple nature worship to the most highly sophisticated ritual and philosophical


systems.


Hinduism is a vast religious tradition, encompassing various and contradictory


strands and ideas. It has usually defied all the usual strategies for categorization and


classification. There is no founder, no definitive scripture, no centralized authority, no


single supreme god, no creed of essential beliefs, and no heresy. Thus, it would be


more accurate to think of the religion as Hinduismsrather than Hinduism, since this


would reflect the rich diversity one encounters.


India is a land of contrasts and cultural variety. The subcontinent contains almost


every type of environmental ecosystem, the inhabitants of each possessing their own


local and regional culture. There are over a dozen distinct languages, each of which


establishes and nourishes a regional identity that many Indians maintain with great


care wherever they live. The combinations of language, regional identity, sectarian


affiliation, and social status have given rise to overwhelming variation. For Hindus,


diversity is a basic trait of Hindu life, and thus one person’s practice may be very dif-


ferent from another’s. This has given Hinduism little in the way of centralized


doctrine or dogma, but its grounding in everyday life has made it extraordinarily


resilient and adaptable.


vii Basic Beliefs


Hinduism is first and foremost a way of life. This means that Hinduism has tended to


be orthoprax (stressing correct behavior) rather than orthodox (stressing correct


belief). It tends to be woven through the differing elements of everyday life, rather


than only performed as practices or rituals for certain days and times. Hindu religious


expression is conveyed through every facet of society: music, dance, art and architec-


ture, philosophy, politics, literature, and social life.


Some of the most important aspects of everyday life in the Hindu tradition are a


person’s family and social affiliations. Despite the incredible variety of Hindu belief


and practice, each family and local community is tightly and carefully organized.


Every individual, as a member of a particular family, has a well-defined role and an


obligation to fulfill specific duties. As in any culture, one’s individual identity is


strongly shaped by the linguistic, regional, or sectarian characteristics of his or her


family. This familial influence persists whether the family lives in its ancestral home or


moves to a different region of India or a foreign country.


Families, of course, are members of a larger community. These communities share


certain beliefs about a person’s proper role in society based on status, age, and gender.


Traditional Indian society was sharply hierarchical. According to the traditional social


groupings, there should be four status groups: the brahmins, who are scholars and


religious technicians; the kshatriyas, who are warriors and rulers; the vaishyas, who


are artisans and farmers; and the shudras, who serve the others. Each person is born


as a permanent member of a particular group. Society is seen as an organic whole, in


which some parts have higher status than others, but every part is necessary for the


whole to function smoothly. A common metaphor for social organization is the


human body, which has many different parts performing many different functions, all


of which are necessary for the body’s maintenance and well-being. In actual practice,


the picture was far more complex. Each of these four groups was split into hundreds


of subgroups known as jatis. Jatis were most often identified with a certain hereditary


occupation, and a jati’s status in a particular place was subject to all kinds of local vari-


ables. These variables could include whether or not members of a jati owned land or


the degree to which a jati’s occupation was economically vital to its community.


These beliefs about social status are becoming less important in modern India,


and have even less importance for Hindus who live abroad. In modern India, society


is still functionally divided into four groups: brahmins; “forward castes,” which tend to


control land, money, or power; “backward castes,” which have historically had very


little influence, although the situation is changing rapidly; and Dalits (“oppressed”).


Once called “untouchables,” many Dalits live in poverty and oppressive social condi-


tions. Except for the brahmins, these social divisions bear little relationship to the four


groups in the earlier model.


Reincarnation is still a pervasive belief within Hinduism, as it is in other Indian


religions such as Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. Almost all Hindus have generally


accepted that although our bodies are transient, our souls are immortal. After the


death of a particular body, the soul will inhabit a different body. The nature of one’s


incarnation in a future life is determined by the quantity and quality of one’s karma.


Karma literally means “action,” but it also can be generated by words or even thoughts.


It is not produced only by the things one does or says, but also by one’s underlying


motives. An individual’s good karma will bring a favorable rebirth in heaven as a god


or on earth as a wealthy or high-caste human being. Bad karma will bring an unfavor-


able rebirth. A person’s current social status reveals how properly he or she lived in the


previous life. The notion of karmic rewards and punishments is a central justification


for the traditional social hierarchy in India.


Karma is thought of as a purely physical process, like gravity, operating without


any need for a divine overseer. An action one performs, for good or for ill, is seen as


viii


The Illustrated Encyclopedia


of


Hinduism The Illustrated Encyclopedia


of


Hinduism


James G. Lochtefeld, Ph.D.


The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.


New York To teachers whose gift of learning I can never fully repay.


To students whose learning has taught me,and whose friendship has enriched me.


To Fiona,Vera,and Gavin,who put life back into perspective every day,


although they have yet to know this.


To Rachel,who has made all of this possible.


Published in 2002 by The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.


29 East 21st Street, New York, NY 10010


Copyright © 2002 by James G. Lochtefeld


First Edition


All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without


permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer.


Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


Lochtefeld, James G., 1957–


The illustrated encyclopedia of Hinduism/James G. Lochtefeld.


p. cm.


Includes bibliographical references and index.


ISBN 0-8239-2287-1 (set)


ISBN 0-8239-3179-X (volume 1)


ISBN 0-8239-3180-3 (volume 2)


1. Hinduism Encyclopedias. I. Title.


BL1105.L63 2002


294.5'03—dc21 99-27747


CIP


Manufactured in the United States of America


Staff Credits


Editors: Margaret Haerens, Michael Isaac, Christine Slovey


Editorial Assistant: Rob Kirkpatrick


Book Design: Olga M. Vega


Cover Design: MaryJane Wojciechowski


Production Design: Erica Clendening, Beverly Fraser, Christine Innamorato,


MaryJane Wojciechowski Table of Contents


Volume One


Introduction vi


How to Use This Book xiii


Contents by Subject xiv


Entries A–M 1–450


Volume Two


Entries N–Z 451–786


Note on Transliteration 787


Pronunciation Guide 788


Bibliography 795


Index 807


Photo Credits 875


About the Author 876


v Introduction


As you drive through the cornfields of northern Illinois, just north of the town of


Aurora, you may see a massive brick building that seems out of place. It stands three


or four stories high with an elaborate facade depicting pillars and cornices. Topped by


towering spires with flapping banners, it looks as if it belongs to another world. In a


sense it does—the architectural style comes from southern India, and the building


itself is a Hindu temple.


I was there late on a Sunday morning, and the parking lot was about half full.


There were cars from as far away as Michigan. The building’s main entrance was a little


below ground level, and as is common with Hindu temples outside of India, the low-


est level had a lobby, a kitchen, and a large meeting room that was comparable to the


“church basements” of its Christian counterparts. The lobby was furnished austerely,


with folding tables and chairs. There were a few people sitting near the kitchen, drink-


ing tea and chatting informally.


By the staircases leading upstairs to the temple room were rows of simple shelves,


fronted by low benches. I removed my shoes, as is customary before entering a temple,


both to preserve the temple and to signify that one is walking on holy ground. The


staircase marked the threshold between two regions, the outer and the inner world.


Upstairs, the temple was richly decorated. The presiding deity was Venkateshvara, a


form of the god Vishnu, whose image was placed in the center of the temple, the most


important space. Yet, as in most Hindu temples, there were images of deities from


throughout the pantheon: Ganesh, Shiva, Subrahmanya, other forms of Vishnu, dif-


ferent forms of the Goddess, and various subsidiary deities. Most of the images were


carved from black South Indian granite and polished to a mirrorlike finish. Many were


housed in small shrines built out of white marble. The primary function of a Hindu


temple is to serve as the home for the deities it contains, and it was clear that the


people who had commissioned the temple had spared no efforts. The temple had


been lovingly built and has been carefully maintained.


The worshipers in the temple took little notice of me, and I was allowed to roam


as I wished. Even though Venkateshvara was the temple’s presiding deity, the primary


activity while I was there took place in front of one of the subsidiary shrines, an image


of the Goddess in the form of Kumari (“virgin”). Seated around the image were about


twenty members of an extended family. The young girls, who were clearly the focus of


the rite, sat directly in front of the shrine. Brahmin priests took various offerings from


the older women: plastic gallon jugs of milk, Ziploc bags of sugar, and Tupperware


containers of yogurt and honey. Each offering was poured over the image in turn. A


pitcher of water was poured over the image between each offering to wash it clean.


The temple priests performing the rite were dressed traditionally, with white dhotis


(garments worn around the waist, extending below the knees), bare chests, and the


sacred thread over their left shoulders. They bore crisp red tilaks (sectarian identifying


marks) on their foreheads, and intoned the rite in rapid-fire Sanskrit.


Although a Christian visitor might find the languages, deities, and rites completely


alien, many of the other elements of the day would be soothingly familiar: a group of


families coming for worship on a Sunday morning, dressed in their “Sunday best,”


with others chatting over coffee and sweets in the “church basement.” Except for a few


sari-clad older women, the people there were dressed no differently than anyone one


might encounter on the street—the men in suits and jackets, the girls and women in


long, flowing dresses.


Just as the Hindu temple in rural Illinois had introduced Indian customs to the


local community, it was clear that the influence of American culture had set this


temple apart from its traditional counterparts in India. Unlike in India, where temples


serve mainly as places of worship, Hindu temples in America often serve as cultural


centers for the Hindu community, sponsoring events such as dance, music, and


drama performances, along with language study programs and festival celebrations.


vi In many cases, the membership of Hindu temples in America cuts across the tradi-


tional barriers that divide Indian society—social status, regional background, sectar-


ian loyalty—giving these Hindu temples far more inclusive constituencies.


The cultural landscape of the United States has changed dramatically in recent


years. Today it possesses a plurality of cultures that my grandparents and their gener-


ation probably would have found inconceivable. The Hindu temple outside of Aurora,


Illinois, is but one small sign of the increasing visibility of Asian cultures in American


society. Another sign of this pluralism is the growing number of ways that Americans


are coming into contact with traditional Hindu culture—whether through practicing


yoga, through alternative medical systems such as ayurvedic medicine, or through the


piquant delights of Indian cuisine.


Despite the growing interchange between Indian and American cultures,


Hinduism is still often stereotyped and misunderstood. On one hand are the remnants


of an antiquated point of view that refuses to see the United States as anything but a


Christian nation. Those holding this view either dismiss Hinduism as an alien or exotic


set of rituals and beliefs or actively condemn it as idolatrous. On the other hand are


people searching for an alternative spirituality who idealize Asian cultures as founts of


ancient wisdom. At the very least, such an uncritical embrace ignores these cultures’


genuine tensions, problems, and inequities; at the extreme it can result in a “designer


religion,” in which beliefs and practices from various religious traditions are selec-


tively adopted, wrenching each of these elements from its roots in a living culture.


Outright condemnation and idealized acceptance overlook the richness and com-


plexity of India’s religious and cultural traditions. To gain a genuine understanding, it


is important that we discern the cultural context behind Hindu beliefs, practices, and


history. In learning about this context, one quickly encounters familiar ideas: hard


work, thrift, education, and the importance of the family. Along with these general


similarities to American cultural values, one finds equally profound differences. To


examine the nuances of Hindu culture is to enter into a rich and complex world with


its own inner logic and consistency. Encountering and understanding a different


world view can throw one’s own into sharper perspective, enriching it with new depth


and understanding.


What Is Hinduism?


The very word Hinduism is misleading. The word was coined by the British as an


umbrella term, referring to any and all forms of religion in India, many of which share


few if any common features. It was used to describe all sorts of beliefs and practices,


from simple nature worship to the most highly sophisticated ritual and philosophical


systems.


Hinduism is a vast religious tradition, encompassing various and contradictory


strands and ideas. It has usually defied all the usual strategies for categorization and


classification. There is no founder, no definitive scripture, no centralized authority, no


single supreme god, no creed of essential beliefs, and no heresy. Thus, it would be


more accurate to think of the religion as Hinduismsrather than Hinduism, since this


would reflect the rich diversity one encounters.


India is a land of contrasts and cultural variety. The subcontinent contains almost


every type of environmental ecosystem, the inhabitants of each possessing their own


local and regional culture. There are over a dozen distinct languages, each of which


establishes and nourishes a regional identity that many Indians maintain with great


care wherever they live. The combinations of language, regional identity, sectarian


affiliation, and social status have given rise to overwhelming variation. For Hindus,


diversity is a basic trait of Hindu life, and thus one person’s practice may be very dif-


ferent from another’s. This has given Hinduism little in the way of centralized


doctrine or dogma, but its grounding in everyday life has made it extraordinarily


resilient and adaptable.


vii Basic Beliefs


Hinduism is first and foremost a way of life. This means that Hinduism has tended to


be orthoprax (stressing correct behavior) rather than orthodox (stressing correct


belief). It tends to be woven through the differing elements of everyday life, rather


than only performed as practices or rituals for certain days and times. Hindu religious


expression is conveyed through every facet of society: music, dance, art and architec-


ture, philosophy, politics, literature, and social life.


Some of the most important aspects of everyday life in the Hindu tradition are a


person’s family and social affiliations. Despite the incredible variety of Hindu belief


and practice, each family and local community is tightly and carefully organized.


Every individual, as a member of a particular family, has a well-defined role and an


obligation to fulfill specific duties. As in any culture, one’s individual identity is


strongly shaped by the linguistic, regional, or sectarian characteristics of his or her


family. This familial influence persists whether the family lives in its ancestral home or


moves to a different region of India or a foreign country.


Families, of course, are members of a larger community. These communities share


certain beliefs about a person’s proper role in society based on status, age, and gender.


Traditional Indian society was sharply hierarchical. According to the traditional social


groupings, there should be four status groups: the brahmins, who are scholars and


religious technicians; the kshatriyas, who are warriors and rulers; the vaishyas, who


are artisans and farmers; and the shudras, who serve the others. Each person is born


as a permanent member of a particular group. Society is seen as an organic whole, in


which some parts have higher status than others, but every part is necessary for the


whole to function smoothly. A common metaphor for social organization is the


human body, which has many different parts performing many different functions, all


of which are necessary for the body’s maintenance and well-being. In actual practice,


the picture was far more complex. Each of these four groups was split into hundreds


of subgroups known as jatis. Jatis were most often identified with a certain hereditary


occupation, and a jati’s status in a particular place was subject to all kinds of local vari-


ables. These variables could include whether or not members of a jati owned land or


the degree to which a jati’s occupation was economically vital to its community.


These beliefs about social status are becoming less important in modern India,


and have even less importance for Hindus who live abroad. In modern India, society


is still functionally divided into four groups: brahmins; “forward castes,” which tend to


control land, money, or power; “backward castes,” which have historically had very


little influence, although the situation is changing rapidly; and Dalits (“oppressed”).


Once called “untouchables,” many Dalits live in poverty and oppressive social condi-


tions. Except for the brahmins, these social divisions bear little relationship to the four


groups in the earlier model.


Reincarnation is still a pervasive belief within Hinduism, as it is in other Indian


religions such as Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. Almost all Hindus have generally


accepted that although our bodies are transient, our souls are immortal. After the


death of a particular body, the soul will inhabit a different body. The nature of one’s


incarnation in a future life is determined by the quantity and quality of one’s karma.


Karma literally means “action,” but it also can be generated by words or even thoughts.


It is not produced only by the things one does or says, but also by one’s underlying


motives. An individual’s good karma will bring a favorable rebirth in heaven as a god


or on earth as a wealthy or high-caste human being. Bad karma will bring an unfavor-


able rebirth. A person’s current social status reveals how properly he or she lived in the


previous life. The notion of karmic rewards and punishments is a central justification


for the traditional social hierarchy in India.


Karma is thought of as a purely physical process, like gravity, operating without


any need for a divine overseer. An action one performs, for good or for ill, is seen as


viii


Please note: To fully read this free PDF ebook completely for free you need .