25 yrs in making, Hindu encyclopedia to be unveiled

Washington: In a milestone in Indian studies, the English edition of 'Encyclopedia of Hinduism', a product of 25 years of relentless academic efforts by nearly 1000 scholars, will be unveiled tomorrow.
The 11-volume encyclopedia which covers Hindu spiritual beliefs, practices and philosophy, encompasses more than 7,000 articles that span Indian history, civilisation, language and philosophy; architecture, art, music and dance; medicine, sciences and social institutions; and religion, spirituality and the role of Hindu women.
Additionally, more than 1,000 colour illustrations and photographs bring the Hindu traditions and culture alive for readers.
Conceived, compiled and produced by the India Heritage Research Foundation and published by Mandala Publishing, the voluminous product presenting one of the world's oldest living traditions is scheduled to be unveiled at the University of South Carolina tomorrow during a day-long conference.
The conference would be attended by Rajendra K Pachauri, the chairperson of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007; Anna Hazare, an anti-corruption activist, besides Swami Chidanand Saraswati, president of Parmarth Niketan Ashram and founder of India Heritage Research Foundation.
"The encyclopedia, a comprehensive compilation of the spiritual and cultural heritage of India, provides a rich tapestry of Hinduism in the global context, a great gift to mankind," said Dr. Meera Narasimhan, a professor and chairman of neuropsychiatry and vice dean at USC School of Medicine.
"It has been an ambitious undertaking," said Hal French, a USC distinguished professor emeritus of religious studies, who has served as associate editor of the encyclopedia.
"The Encyclopedia of Hinduism is a milestone in research for this culture and religion, reflecting the very best in India and Western scholarship," he said.
The encyclopedia's volumes run from 600 to more than 700 pages. Some 3,000 copies are being issued in the first printing, French said.
Hinduism is the world's third-largest religion, with 1 billion followers, according to a Pew Research Center study published this year. Christians number 2.2 billion and Muslims 1.6 billion.