Encyclopaedia of Hinduism set for big launch

| | Washington
Encyclopaedia of Hinduism set for big launch

The international edition of the 11-volume Encyclopedia of Hinduism is set for a big launch at a conference of Indian scholars being hosted by the University of South Carolina in Columbia on Monday.

A project of the India Heritage Research Foundation, the encyclopaedia has been nearly 25 years in the making. Described as “a colossal product of more than 1,000 esteemed scholars from around the world, totaling 11-volumes and approximately 7000 entries”, the encyclopaedia’s Indian edition was launched by the Dalai Lama in Rishikesh in 2010.

“The day-long conference will feature some of the most prominent Indian scholars, who will discuss the significance of the encyclopaedia and the richness and diversity of Indian culture that binds more than one billion people worldwide,” said a USC announcement. Swami Chidanand Saraswati, founder and chairman of IHRF, South Carolina’s Indian-American governor Nikki Randhawa Haley, USC president Harris Pastides, Indian ambassador Nirupama Rao and social activist Anna Hazare, who is currently in the midst of a two-week US visit.

Also called the “Project of the third Millennium”, work on the encyclopaedia began in 1987. The offices for the project were located at the University of South Carolina until 2003 when they transitioned to India for the final stages of the project. “It is the first time in history that the depth and breadth of India’s great spiritual culture is made available in authentic, academic and scholastic form,” says the IHRF, terming it “a compendium of thousands of years of history, science, art, architecture, polity, religion, philosophy and culture”.

Published by Mandala Publishing, the encyclopaedia is also said to provide an “all-inclusive treatment of India’s spiritual culture (including coverage of Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism traditions)”. “The goal was to have something pretty definitive —not just about Hinduism, but about the whole South Asian tradition,’’ commented University of South Carolina’s Professor Emeritus Hal French, who met with a small group of scholars in 1987 to offer academic support for the project.

The 83-year-old French has termed it an ambitious undertaking that hadn’t really been attempted before. As he puts it, ‘‘It is a milestone of research that brought together both Eastern and Western scholarship.’’ At Monday’s launch, USC also plans to announce another India project called "CarolIndia", a celebration of India through a series of fall and spring events. Led by the College of Arts and Sciences’ Walker Institute, CarolIndia aims at elevating campus and community understanding of India's growing importance as the world's largest democracy and a rising global economy.



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