India is so vast that each of its regions is a land in its own right, with diverse languages, customs, and cultural traditions. Yet shared social systems, firmly grounded in religious beliefs, provide the cohesive force that unites over a billion people of different backgrounds. Hinduism is the main religion of India, and this new dictionary provides an unrivaled insight to all aspects of Hindu life, past and present. Some thousand illustrated entries elucidate the history of Hinduism, its mythology, art, architecture, religion, laws, and folklore. The development of Hinduism is presented from its ancient manifestations in local cults and epic poems to modern-day festivals and customs worldwide. The complex relationship between the multitude of gods, goddesses, and semi-divine beings is brought to light in the articles on religion and mythology, while its rich imagery is revealed in the entries on architecture, sculpture, painting, dance, and theater, including works of art illustrated here for the first time. Food and etiquette, the caste system, Ayurvedic medicine, love and marriage, and contemporary practices are just a few of the topics explored. Maps and entries on the major cities and places of pilgrimage in India, as well as a concise chronology and a list of principal dynasties, provide a clear overview of the geography, history, languages, and vibrant religious and cultural traditions of Hinduism. This volume will serve as a lively and indispensable guide for those preparing a visit to India, for Indians living in the West, for students, or for anyone interested in the subcontinent. 275 b/w illustrations.
Anna L. Dallapiccola
Anna L. Dallapiccola is Honorary Professor of Indian Art at The University of Edinburgh. She is Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and of the American Oriental Society, and the author of numerous publications.