In a milestone for Indian studies, the English edition of Encyclopaedia of Hinduism, a product of 25 years of relentless academic efforts by nearly 1000 scholars, will be unveiled on Monday.

The 11-volume encyclopaedia 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.

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 is scheduled to be unveiled at the University of South Carolina (USC) during a day-long conference.

The conference will 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 encyclopaedia, 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 Meera Narasimhan, a professor and chairman of neuropsychiatry and vice-dean at the 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 Encyclopaedia of Hinduism is a milestone in research for this culture and religion, reflecting the very best in India and Western scholarship,” said Hal French, a USC distinguished professor emeritus of religious studies, who has served as associate editor of the encyclopaedia.

The encyclopaedia’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 one billion followers, according to a Pew Research Center study published this year. Christians number 2.2 billion and Muslims 1.6 billion.

“Encyclopedia of Hinduism is a historic milestone in Indian studies. It will facilitate the understanding of the culture and civilisation of India and its Diaspora scattered all over the world,” said Subhash Kak, a computer science professor.

“Indic Civilisation is among the brightly shining stars in the firmament of humanity’s heritage. Volumes have been written on it. There are copious commentaries on the abundant treasures of Indic culture,” said V.V. Raman, emeritus professor of physics and humanities.

“But one thing it has not had until now: a multi-volume encyclopaedia dedicated to it, in which the primary authors are scholars and thinkers from the Hindu tradition. That serious lacuna has disappeared as a result of this major publication.”