Item Code: NAC870
Hardcover (Edition: 2010)
Rupa Publications India Pvt. Ltd.
Size: 11.0 Inch X 8.5 Inch
Weight of the Book: 28.954 kg
Price: $695.00 Shipping Free - 4 to 6 days
Chief Editor: K.L. Seshargiri Rao
Editor in Chief: Kapil Kapoor
Associate Editors: Rajnish K. Mishra & Santosh K. Shukla
The spiritual and cultural tradition of India like the river Mother Ganga is alive and vibrant its spirit is boundless and it embraces and nourishes all life through which it flows. The time has come to capture the roots of this heritage for universal good and human welfare.
India’s cultural heritage is multi stranded and complex forming an intricate tapestry of wisdom insight and tradition. The timeless truth is not a available and beneficial to people to all religions all faiths and all walks of life. Hinduism is not a dogma but rather a way of life that brings depth richness integrity understanding and meaning to our daily lives.
Despite the influence of Hinduism across the globe India’s spiritual heritage is widely misunderstood in the West. It has become imperative to provide an authentic objective, scholarly standardized and comprehensive source of reference and information. We hope that this Encyclopedia will provide a better understanding of Hinduism deepen inter cultural dialogue and serve as a standard reference for students teachers, seekers and anyone interested in the world’s oldest living tradition.
To encapsulate India’s spiritual and cultural heritage in a single literary portfolio is an enormous task. Nevertheless under the inspiration of H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, the founder and chairman India heritage research foundation has accomplished the momentous challenge of publishing the first complete authentic multi volume Encyclopedia of Hinduism. This Encyclopedia is a comprehensive compilation of the vast ocean of knowledge history and experience that constitutes Indian culture.
Birth of the Encyclopedia of Hinduism
In August 1987 at the Hindu Jain Temple in Monroeville, Pennsylvania USA a temple founded by H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President and Spiritual Head of Parmarth Niketan Ashram Rishikesh (Himalayas) India a special Sahasra Shivalinga Abhishekam wad held. Pujya Swamiji led the community as well as hundreds of guests from other cities and states in performing a ceremony dedicated to the divine in the form of Lord Shiva. Several revered spiritual leaders were invited for the event including Pujya Swami Dharmanandji, Pujya Swami Sivaya Subramuniyaswamiji founder and publisher of Hinduism today magazine and Pujya Sushil Muniji.
Following the conclusion of the abhisheka many of the devotees (who serendipitously included several scholars on Hinduism including Dr. K.L. Seshagiri Rao) sat with Pujya Swamiji in the temple discussing the state of Hinduism in America. They shared concerns over the diluted way in which Hinduism was being presented by Schools universities and colleges throughout the west and the dearth of authentic sources of reference on authentic Hinduism. Hindu youth being born raised and educated in the west were coming face to face with misconceptions misinformation on various aspects of Hinduism they frequently had neither answers nor any place to turn in search of answers. Embarrassed these youth would return home and express their frustration to their parents.
In many instances, their parents also didn’t have answers. Hinduism is more properly considered a way of life than a “religion” in the traditional sense. It is inclusive, expansive and permissive of innumerable names and forms of the one Supreme Being. It manifests in day to day life more than in religion classes. Hence, Indians who had been born and raised in India, steeped in Hindu culture, may have observed and practiced Hindu rites and rituals without necessarily knowing their specific meaning or significance. They were simply part of daily life. However, when they moved to the West and their children questioned practices which were so different from those of their friends, these parents often had no adequate way to explain Hinduism to their children.
There were also an increasing number of Westerners who were interested in learning about Hindu culture and particularly the spiritual and philosophical traditions. However, there was no standardized reference to which they could turn for authoritative information.
As these concerns and dilemmas were discussed that summer afternoon, conversation shifted to the idea that a major text should be created, encapsulating all of the details of Hinduism. It was noted that every major religious tradition had produced one or more Encyclopedias on their respective religion, as an authoritative source of information and an academic tool for research. References were made to the New Catholic Encyclopedia and the Encyclopedia of Judaica. It was pointed out that the government of Sri Lanka was preparing an Encyclopedia of Buddhism and the Turkish and Indonesian governments had brought out Encyclopedias of Islam. Punjabi University in Patiala was preparing the Encyclopedia of Sikhism.
Yet, there was no Encyclopedia of Hinduism. This lack of an authoritative, comprehensive and up-to-date encyclopedia of one of the oldest, largest and most influential religions on earth with over 7000 years of history and prehistory had been bemoaned by scholars for many years.
Pujya Swamiji, whose entire life has been focused on action for the benefit of humanity, for whom seva is sadhana immediately said, “We should bring out an Encyclopedia of Hinduism. We should provide our children, and our children’s children, and all the children of the world with an authoritative, informative, insightful and inspiring source of reference for Hinduism.” He turned to Dr. K.L. Seshagiri Rao, a respected professor from University of Virginia and to all those present, and he said that with Dr. Rao guiding the project from the academic side, they would undertake this mammoth task for all of humanity. A multi-volume encyclopedia of the world’s oldest living religion was a huge commitment. “Do you really think it can be done?” someone asked Pujya Swamiji. He closed his eyes, entered a meditative trance, and opened them a short while later. “Yes,” he replied. “It can be done and we will do it.”
On November 21, 987 Pujya Swamiji organized a meeting to form the India Heritage Research Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated — in its initial stages — to bringing out the multi-volume Encyclopedia of Hinduism. IHRF’s activities have blossomed and expanded greatly in the last two decades, and now include innumerable charitable and humanitarian projects, including free schools, orphanages, vocational training programs, women’s upliftment projects, rural development, disaster relief, ecological preservation and much more.
Pujya Swamiji was selected as Chairman of the Board of IHRF, as it would be through his leadership, inspiration and blessings that the Encyclopedia would come to fruition. Pujya Swamiji requested Dr. Rao to serve as the Chief Editor of the Encyclopedia.
Outlook The Board recommended that the encyclopedia should be authoritative and lucid; it should be easily comprehensible by the average educated person; it should be informative on the rich and ancient Hindu heritage, yet relevant to the modern world; it should be profound but not abstruse, sensitive to the Hindu tradition, but not narrow in outlook; it should be educational without losing the spiritual substance of the tradition; it should be useful and informative to the students of the humanities in general and to students and teachers of religion in particular.
From 1987 — 1992, Pujya Swamiji and Dr. Rao traveled around the globe, meeting renowned scholars of Hinduism and Indic studies. An international team of hundreds of scholars was established. These scholars, under the guidance of Dr. Rao and Dr. Vidya Niwas Mishra, began to put together a “master list” of entries. This list swelled to approximately 10,000 entries, pertaining to every aspect of Hindu culture, civilization, spiritual tradition and history. Ultimately, over the years, duplications and redundancies were removed, topics were merged, and the final master list includes approximately 7000 entries.
This master list was divided into the following twelve subject areas:
1. Art: Architecture, Music, Iconography, Painting, Dance, Drama, Theater Performance and Sculpture.
2. Hinduism in Global Context: Nepal, Southeast Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America, Mauritius, Africa and the Caribbean.
3. History, Historiography and Geography: Religious Developments in Hindu Kingdoms and Empires. Epigraphy, Numismatics, Flora and Fauna, Mountains, Rivers and other pertinent data.
4. Language and Literature: Texts and commentaries in Sanskrit and in different Indian Languages, Folk Literature, Myths, Legends and Journals.
5. Philosophy: Metaphysics, Psychology, Ethics, Six Systems of Indian Philosophy, Jaina, Buddhist and Sikh Thought, Tantra, Saiva Siddhanta and Contemporary Hindu Thought.
6. Polity: Political Institutions, Judicial Systems, Economics, Law and Order, Military History and Weapons.
7. Religion and Spirituality: knowledge texts — smrti, purãna, itihasa, setra, bhasya, .sastra, gods and goddesses, saints, mystics and teachers, rites and ceremonies, Vaisnavism, Saivism and saktism, holy places, sectarian movements, temples, sacraments and modem developments.
8. Sciences: Ayurveda, Astronomy, Astrology, Mathematics, Cosmology, Chemistry, and other relevant disciplines.
9. Social Institutions and Movements: Education, Varnasrama Dharma, Tribes and their Customs, Status of Women, Sports and Pastimes, Feasts, Fasts and Festivals, Diet, Dress and Cosmetics.
10. Spiritual Disciplines: Karmayoga, Bhaktiyoga, Jñãnayoga, Ha hayoga and Tantra.
11. Scholarship in Hindu Studies: Ideological, Theosophical, and Commentarial Tradition, Oral Tradition, Philological Studies, Sociological, Mystical and Comparative Studies.
12. Women Studies: Full coverage of issues related to the important role played by women in cherishing, maintaining, and transmitting Hindu heritage.
Establishment of EH headquarters in Pittsburgh
It became clear that a project of this magnitude would require a head office from which correspondence, organizational activities, record-keeping and day to day work could take place. :n 1992, Drs. Naval and Nila Kant generously donated the funds to establish an office for the Encyclopedia of Hinduism and India Heritage Research Foundation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania USA. Dr. Rao would serve as Chief Editor and Dr. Kaushal Sinha as CEO. At this office, conceptual work of EH, planning of the Project, and its preparatory work (both academic and administrative) were undertaken, with Pujya Swamiji’s blessings and leadership, and with the enthusiastic help of many leaders and volunteers.
The opening of the office in Columbia, South Carolina
In 1990, Dr. Kaushal Sinha and Arunima Sinha met with Dr. Hal French at the University of South Carolina, in Columbia, South Carolina, to request academic assistance from the Religious Studies Department in this mammoth project. The University was supportive, and in 1994 they offered an academic setting, which was further expanded in 1998 to include full academic infrastructure, six offices, a library and other facilities where regular as well as visiting scholars could work. Ultimately in 1996, the Encyclopedia headquarters were officially shifted from Pittsburgh to Columbia. Dr. Rao had taken voluntary retirement from the University of Virginia in 1995 and hence he led the team of scholars, office workers and graduate students at the Columbia office. Dr. K.R. Sundararajan and Dr. Ratna Lahiri were both full time senior scholars at Columbia, and dozens of others came and served for short or long time periods, based on their work and familial commitments. Girish Yajnik was the operations manager, handling the databases, and dozens of others helped throughout the years to maintain the office, the files, the correspondence and the overall operations.
EH progresses from Vision to Reality
Between 1994 — 1996 satellite offices were established throughout India in several major cities. The Chennai office was headed by CD. Chidambaram, Seetha Chidambaram and Annapurni Veerapan with S. Thangaraju as P.R.O. and T.S. Vellaiah as coordinator. Dr. B.V. Subbarayappa headed the Bangalore office. Dr. Dhavalikar was in charge of the Pune office, and Dr. Gautam Patel was the head of the Ahmedabad office. Dr. Vidya Niwas Mishra, the Editor-in-Chief, India, a recipient of the most prestigious Padma Vibhushan award from the President of India, and a member of the Rajya Sabha, oversaw the office in Varanasi, and also spent a substantial amount of time overseeing the National Office in New Delhi, together with Prakash Singh who dedicatedly headed the Delhi office.
The satellite offices assigned articles to local, renowned scholars who were established in the various fields. Slowly, the articles began to come back, most of them handwritten, many in languages other than English. This was in the years prior to the availability of email in India and prior to the widespread use of computers. Thus, the challenge of translating and then typing these thousands of articles fell upon the local, satellite centers. Each article was edited a minimum of three times in the early years (further, final editing came later). First, the articles were substance edited to ensure the content was factual and academic, followed by copy-editing and a final review to ensure the smooth and correct flow of language. Higher levels of editing, both substance and copy, were conducted by the teams of executive editors in USA and India.
In 1998, Honorable Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister of India at the time, graced an event held in New York by IHRF, on behalf of the Encyclopedia. Shri Vajpayee spoke effusively in praise of the undertaking, saying, “Your undertaking is rightly called the ‘Project of the Third Millennium.’ This is a monumental undertaking. It is indeed a Jnana Yajña. Hence, all those who have offered their time, talent and scholarship as ahuti for the success of this yajna deserve our heartiest applause and felicitations.”
From 1996—2002, Brahmaswarup Varma served as full-time director of administration, first from the office in Pittsburgh, and then from New Delhi. He revitalized the New Delhi office and set up an additional satellite office in Nagpur to expedite the work.
In 2003, the Encyclopedia headquarters officially shifted from Columbia to Chennai as all of the final stage writing and editing was taking place in India. Mahalingum Kolapen, editor and author of Hindu Temples of North America and other books moved from the USA to Chennai to complete the project and manage the Chennai office. Mahalingum kolpaen served the project with dedication and commitment until his untimely demise.
The Initial board of editors and associate editors were selected in 1989 by Dr. KL. Seshagiri Rao Chief Editor and Dr. Vidya Niwas Mishra Editor in Chief India Regional directors during various stages have added additional scholars as necessary. A team of four executive editors in the USA and Canada Dr. Subhash Kak, Dr. V.V. Raman, Dr. Rama Rao Pappu and Dr. T.S. Rukmani Served diligently reviewing editing and even rewriting articles where necessary.
In early 2006 Dr. Kapil Kapoor, Prof. of English and concurrent Prof. of Sanskrit studies who had just retired as rector Jawaharlal Nehru University Delhi too over as Editor in Chief. From the first moment Dr. Kapil Kapoor has taken Pujya Swamiji’s words as adesa and has repeatedly emphasized how blessed and honored he feels to have the opportunity to fulfill this mission. Since then with Pujya Swamiji’s asravda he and his team two associate editors six objectwise associate editors and 34 members of the editorial review team all senior academics from Indian universities have worked tirelessly reviewing reading and revising articles and have brought the project from a work in progress to the state of completion and publication.
After many years of negotiations and discussions with various publishers IHRF decided for many reasons to entrust the publication of this monumental work to Rupa & Co. as the Board felt they could do full justice to both the letter and the spirit of Hinduism. A publication of the Encyclopedia of Hinduism requires much more than flawless copy editing and page layout. It this ancient yet timeless wisdom. It requires editors who are both adept at proofreading and sentence structure as well who truly comprehend with Indian texts their academic and personal sensitivity to and appreciation for the subject matter and their devotion to Hinduism would be assets to the project. RK Mehra, the head of Rupa & Co. and his entire team have committed themselves fully with piety devotion and tireless resolve to this project Rather than publishing an academic text together we are building a temple together a temple of knowledge a temple of history a temple of insight and inspiration.
Encyclopedia of Hinduism, covering Indic civilization, spirituality, and culture in a comprehensive sweep, is a major academic enterprise of the India Heritage Research Foundation. It is a significant undertaking of our times to preserve valuable traditional wisdom and knowledge and customs and ceremonies. This project is of great significance not only to the Hindus but to all of humanity.
The Encyclopedia of Hinduism is the first attempt, in the English language, to cover the growth and development of the Hindu tradition from the dawn of civilization to the present. It covers not only literary sources in Sanskrit and Hindi languages, but also in other regional tongues of India. It covers the whole spectrum of Hinduism, including its oral traditions. Each sect, school and movement of Hinduism is explained in its own perspective. It serves as a source of ready reference for those interested in understanding or researching on particular aspects of the Hindu tradition and culture.
Hinduism encompasses an entire civilization and a way of life. Today, about a billion people call themselves followers of this tradition. Originating in India, the Hindu tradition has spread beyond the borders of the Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia, reaching as far as the remote Pacific islands of Fiji on the one hand, and Britain and North and South America on the other. Encyclopedia of Hinduism will be a most valuable resource for an understanding of the Hindu communities and practices around the world.
Ancient Indian culture has bestowed many practical gifts to our common human heritage, including rice, cotton, sugarcane, many spices, the game of chess, and, most importantly, the Hindu numerals and the decimal system. But India has exercised its greatest influence on the world in the area of spirituality. The Encyclopedia of Hinduism makes available the authentic heritage of India’s civilization, its ethical, legal, artistic, medical, and scientific achievements, above all it records its spiritual insights, values and accomplishments.
Today we are witnessing the emergence of a global culture that cuts across the boundaries established religions. Ever since the late nineteenth century, Hinduism has been a major influence in this promising development. Despite the influence of Hinduism around the world, it is also widely misunderstood. The Encyclopedia sets the record straight by removing representations and distortions of the tradition; it also contributes to a better appreciation of the Hindu tradition and culture. It is vitally important for future generations.
Although the Encyclopedia of Hinduism is intended to be an academically sound publication, it is presented to be within the comprehension of the average educated person. The treatment is - in-depth but not abstruse; sensitive to the Hindu tradition but not parochial; informative on the rich and ancient heritage of India but also relevant to the modem world.
The 2l’ century finds several Hindu insights profoundly meaningful; these have been highlighted. For example, the sagacity that the great religions of the world are valid paths to truth/God; the viability of the holistic approach in the quest of Truth, the validity of feminine symbols in the description and worship of the Divine, applicability of the principle of causality moral world, the pertinence of the doctrine of reincarnation to answer many questions in is well as, the utility of Yoga and meditation as spiritual disciplines.
The Encyclopedia of Hinduism is an international project involving scholars around the world it promotes not only knowledge and understanding of the vastly complex Hindu tradition but also advances mutual appreciation and respect between Hindus and other religious communities. In this sense it is intended to be a source of authentic and insightful knowledge as well as an instrument of world peace.
Hindu studies have been pursued not only by Indian scholars but also for a long time now by Middle Eastern and western academics. This has given rise to diverse perspectives which do not always coincide with indigenous interpretations. The Encyclopedia discusses such divergences and endeavors to arrive at an understanding that is sound from a scholarly point of view but does not violate Hindu Self understanding.
It has been a great blessing to be associated with the Encyclopedia since its inception. I am eternally grateful to Pujya Swami Chidanandji for having the faith in me from the first moment in 1987 to head and lead the project. I pray that I and my team have lived up to the expectations of excellence that he had for us. I am also deeply appreciative of all of the scholars authors and editors from across the world who have worked with me for this project over two decades. Some were involved mainly in the beginning some came in late on. However everyone’s input and ahuti have been crucial in creating this global sanskriti yagna for the benefit of humanity. I am thankful also to my family for the understanding my long hours and days away from home particularly in the early days of the project. Without our CEO Dr. Kaushal sinha and his wife Smt. Arunima Sinha, and our whole team of scholars and graduate students in Columbia SC to this project would never have been completed. I sincerely appreciate them all. I am also grateful to Sadhvi Bhagawati Sarawati for coming in an committing herself fully to ensuring that Encyclopedia got completed and in a timely manner. She has been invaluable in coordination and administrative assistance as well as various editorial aspects. I offer my humble pranams at the feet of the almighty and pray that he may accept this humble offering in the form of the Encyclopedia.