Department of Archaeology, History, Cultural Studies and Religion
Book launch

Hinduism in Europe

The two volumes "Handbook of Hinduism in Europe" is the first academic study of Hinduism in all the countries of Europe. Knut A. Jacobsen, professor at AHKR is the editor of the volumes.

picture of book cover and author
Brill / UiB

Main content

The 65 chapter and more than 1600 pages of the volumes portray and analyse the manifestations of Hinduism in Europe in the past and present and how Hinduism has expanded in Europe. The volumes present the histories of a large plurality of Hindu traditions and societies on the European continent and many of them have a long history in Europe. The developments the last 50 years represent however a new stage in the history of Hinduism in Europe. Globalization and ease of communication have made Hinduism to one of the main religions in Europe with a Hindu presence in every country. Knut A. Jacobsen has also written the Introduction about the plurality of Hindu traditions in Europe, and also chapters on Hindu processions in Europe and on Hinduism in Norway. The co-editor is Ferdinando Sardella at Stockholm University.

Handbook of Hinduism in Europe is published by Brill in the series Handbook of Oriental Studies. Section 2 South Asia edited by Muzaffar Alam (University of Chicago), Johannes Bronkhorst (University of Lausanne) and Knut A. Jacobsen. Handbook of Hinduism in Europe is volume 35 in the series.

One main difference is between Hinduism in Western Europe and in Eastern Europe. In western Europe there is a consolidation of Hinduism, while in eastern Europe it is more correct to describe the situation as an emergence of Hinduism after the fall of communism. In western Europe the majority of Hindus have family background from India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, and from other South Asian countries, and in England a large percentage are “twice migrants” who arrived from Africa. Hundreds of Hindu temples have given the Hindu gods and goddesses permanent homes in Europe, and some of the temples have furthermore become places of pilgrimage. In eastern Europe the typical development is increased support for global Hindu movements, often guru and meditation oriented, and with ISKCON as an important player.

However, the history of Hinduism in each country in Europe is unique. In Norway for example Hinduism has a more than one hundred years history because the first guru to settle permanently in Europe came to Norway. He settled in a mountainous area in eastern Norway in 1917. He died there in 1945 and his burial place is today a pilgrimage site for Hindus, also Hindus living outside of Norway have travelled on pilgrimage to this site.