Brahmin


Brahmin

An article related to
Hinduism

HinduismOm.svg

HinduHistory

Portal:HinduismHinduSwastika.svg

Hinduism Portal
Hindu Mythology Portal
v · d · e

Brahmin (also Brahman; Brāhmaṇa) (Sanskrit: ब्राह्मण)[Note 1] is a name used to designate a member of one of the four varnas in the traditional Hindu society. The English word brahmin is an anglicised form of the Sanskrit word Brāhmana. In the Smriti view there are four "varnas", or classes: the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas, and Shudras.

Traditionally Brahmins were fire-priests who adhered to different branches (shakhas) of Vedas. However, historically, the semantic change from a tribal state into the Hindu state of jati-varna matrix saw the conversion and absorption of tribals into the Brahmin class, through adoption of the priestly occupation later.[1][2] In Medieval and Colonial India, people in mundane occupations have also proselytized themselves into Brahmins, usually upon gaining positions of power or upon becoming wealthy.[3][4]

The Smritis conferred upon the Brahmins, the position of being the highest of the four Varnas. The priestly class was expected to practice self-abnegation and play the role of being the custodians of Dharma (as a Brāhman who is well versed in Vedic texts). However, the fee paid to the Brahmana for performance of a sacrifice was grossly material.[5]

Contents

History

Most sampradayas (sects) of modern Brahmins claim to take inspiration from the Vedas. According to orthodox Hindu tradition, the Vedas are apauruṣeya and anādi (beginning-less), and are revealed truths of eternal validity.

The Vedas are considered Śruti ("that which is heard") and are the paramount source on which Brahmin tradition claims to be based. Shruti includes not only the four Vedas[citation needed] (the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda and the Atharvaveda), but also their respective Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads.

In 1931, Brahmins accounted for 9% of the total population. In Andhra Pradesh, they formed less than 2%; in Tamil Nadu they formed less than 3%.[6] In Kerala, Nambudiri Brahmins make up 0.7% of the population. In West Bengal too the figures stand the same, whereas in Uttar Prdesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Orissa the brahmin population is quite near 10%.

Brahmin communities

The Brahmin castes may be broadly divided into two regional groups: Pancha-Gauda Brahmins from Northern India and considered to be North of Vindhya mountains and Pancha-Dravida Brahmins from South of Vindhya mountains as per the shloka. However, this sloka is from Rajatarangini of Kalhana, which was composed only in the 11th century CE.

कर्णाटकाश्च तैलङ्गा द्राविडा महाराष्ट्रकाः,
गुर्जराश्चेति पञ्चैव द्राविडा विन्ध्यदक्षिणे ||
सारस्वताः कान्यकुब्जा गौडा उत्कलमैथिलाः,
पञ्चगौडा इति ख्याता विन्ध्स्योत्तरवासिनः ||[7]

Translation: Karnataka (Kannada), Telugu (Andhra), Dravida (Tamil and Kerala), Maharashtra and Gujarat are Five Southern (Panch Dravida). Saraswata (Punjab,Kashmir & Sindh), Kanyakubja (Uttar Pradesh), Gauda (Kurukshetra and Rajasthan), Utkala (Orissa), Maithili (Bihar) are Five Northern (Pancha Gauda). This classification occurs in Rajatarangini of Kalhana and earlier in some inscriptions[8]

Pancha-Gauda

Those from Uttarapatha (Aryavarta) (northern and eastern India.) Approximately ordered according to geographical regions.

Kanyakubja Brahmins

Gauda Brahmins

Saraswat Brahmins

Assam

Main article: Assamese Brahmins

See also: Kamrupi Brahmins

In Assam,many sects of Hindu people which include Brahmins, Kyastas, Shudras and Dooms ,lives in harmony maintaining the Vedic culture. Assamese Brahmins are found mostly in Lower Assam, Upper Assam and throughout entire Brahmaputra Valley. Assamese Brahmins are believed to be having their origins in Kannauj, in ancient Magadha who generally migrated during Kamarupa period to Lower Assam and then to rest of Brahmaputra Valley. Brahmins in Assam are same as per their faith and customs with that of any other Brahmin community across India. Each Brahmin family within the community carries specific Gotra (Proper Brahmin Identity Surname) which is specific for each family thereby indicating their origin. Sarma/Sharma, Bhagawati, Goswami,Chakraborty are few of common Assamese Brahmin surnames amongst many others.

Kamrupi king Bhaskarvarman regularly used to grant land ,copper plates, cows to Brahmins. Kamrupi kings takes regular advices from Brahmins for political and religious purposes.

Utkala (Orissa)

The Sanskrit textBrāhmaṇotpatti-Mārtaṇḍa by Pt. Harikrishna Śāstri mentions according to which a king named Utkala invited Brahmins from Gangetic Valley for performing a yajna in Jagannath-Puri in Orissa; when the yajna ended the invited Brahmins laid the foundation of the Lord Jagannath there and settled there for serving the Lord in around Orissa, Jharkhand, Medinipur.

The Utkala Brahmins are of three classes 1) Shrautiya(vaidika) 2) Sevayata and 3)Halua Brahman.Again there are sub-classes in these classes

Maithil Brahmin (Mithila)

Nepal

Brahmins are the second largest caste group in Nepal, Chhetri(Kshatriya) being the first. Brahmins were inhabitants of Nepal from the prehistoric time. There are references about brahmins of Nepal in bansawali and purans.

Andhra Pradesh

Brahmins of Andhra Pradesh are broadly classified into 4 groups: Vaidiki Brahmins (meaning educated in vedas and performing religious vocations), Vaikhānasa(worships Vishnu), Sri-Vaishnas(worships Vishnu), and Niyogi (performing only secular vocation). They are further divided into several sub-castes.[9]

Vaidiki Brahmins are further divided into following sub-categories

  • Dravidlu
  • Vaidiki Velanadu.
  • Vaidiki Venginadu.
  • Vaidiki Kosalanadu or Kasalnadu.
  • Vaidiki Mulakanadu.
  • Vaidiki Murikinadu.
  • Vaidiki Telaganya.

Niyogis are further divided into following sub-categories

  • Nandavarika Niyogi.
  • Pradhama Shakha Niyogi.
  • 6000 Niyogi or Aaru Vela Niyogulu.
  • Golkonda Vyapari.
  • karanaalu,sistukaranalu,karana kamma vyaparlu, karanakammulu.

There is another sub-section "Dravida" made up of Tamil Brahmins who had migrated to Andhra Pradesh.

Gujarat

Gurjara Brāhmans: The Brāhmans of Gujarāt, many groups and subcastes related to those groups are found. Some of them are as follows:

  • Bardai Brahmins[10]
  • Trivedi Mewada Brahmin
  • Rajgor Brahmin
  • Palival Brahmin (Dasha and visha)
  • Bhatt Mewada Brahmin, are from Rajasthan
  • Chauriyasi Mewada Brahmin
  • Saurashtra Trivedi Mewad Brahmin
  • Saurashtra Bhatt Mewada Brahmin
  • Pushkarna Brahmin
  • Jaiswal Brahmin are from North India.
  • Nagar Brahmin
  • Audichya Brahmin
  • Sahastra Audichya Gorwal Brahmin
  • Tapodhan Brahmin
  • Modh Brahmin
  • Girinarayan Brahmin
  • Shrimali Brahman
  • Sachora Brahmin
  • Anavil Brahmin
  • Sidhra-Rudhra Brahmins
  • Sree gauda Brahmin
  • Rajgor Brahmin Basically comes from Rajeshtan .. edited by Jitendra Ravia
  • Prashnora Brahmin
  • Vadadra Brahmin
  • Chvyan Brahmin or bharah gaon brahmin from rajasthan
  • Kanaujiya or Kanyakumbj Brahmin migrated from kanoj,entered in kutch via sindh along with lohanas have surname Bhatt in kutch,divided as bhuvdiyas,vondhiyas,sandhliyas according to their village temple.others in Gujarat mainly found in jamnagar,morbi,junaghath and rajkot.surnames like Bhatt,Kaileyas,bhaglani,pingal,lakhlani,ghediya etc. are common.
  • Bajkhedawal Brahmin Khetak brahmins believed to be originated from kheda in central Gujarat or khedbrahma in north Gujarat. Some believe them to have migrated from south India to Gujarat.

Maharashtra

Karnataka

Karnāta Brāhmans(ಕನ್ನಡ ಬ್ರಾಹ್ಮಣ): The Brāhmans of the Carnatic, or the Canarese country. The Canarese area comprises the Mysore State, and the British Districts of Canara, Dharwar and Belgaum.[11]

Tamil Nadu

  • Iyengar (sub-divided into Vadakalai and Thenkalai)
  • Iyer (sub-divided further into Vadama, Vathima, Brahacharanam, Ashtasahasram, Gurukkal, Dikshitar, Kaniyalar, Prathamasaki)
  • Palkar,(alias Sourashtra Brahmins group of people descended to madurai, kumbakonam, chennai, walajapet, tirupathi from sourashtra, Gujarat region during ghajini invasion )

Kerala

  • Namboothiri Brahmins
  • Kerala Iyers
  • Embranthiri
  • Pushpaka Brahmins (Ambalavasis)
  • Nambissans (Unni)
  • Sharada Brahmins
  • Vishwabrahmins (Vishwakarma)
  • Nagariks or the Brahmin migrants from north India

Gotras and pravaras

Brahmins classify themselves on the basis of their patrilineal descent from a notable ancestor. These ancestors are either ancient Indian sages or kshatriyas (warriors) who chose to become Brahmins. The ten major gotras that trace descent from sages are: Kanva, Jamadagni, Bharadvâja, koundinya, Gautama, Vashista, Atryasa, Kashyapa, Agastya gotra. Other gotras are Mitra, Vishvamitra, Chaurasia, Kashyapa gotra.

In general, gotra denotes any person who traces descent in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor. Pāṇini defines gotra for grammatical purposes as 'apatyam pautraprabhrti gotram' (IV. 1. 162), which means: "the word gotra denotes the progeny (of a sage) beginning with the son's son". When a person says, "I am Kashypasa-gotra", he means that he traces his descent from the ancient sage Kashyapa by unbroken male descent. This enumeration of eight primary gotras seems to have been known to Pāṇini. These gotras are not directly connected to Prajapathy or latter brama. The offspring (apatya) of these Eight are gotras and others than these are called 'gotrâvayava'.[13]

The gotras are arranged in groups, e. g. there are according to the Âsvalâyana-srautasûtra four subdivisions of the Vashista gana, viz. Upamanyu, Parāshara, Kundina and Vashista (other than the first three). Each of these four again has numerous sub-sections, each being called gotra. So the arrangement is first into ganas, then into pakshas, then into individual gotras. The first has survived in the Bhrigu and Āngirasa gana. According to Baudh., the principal eight gotras were divided into pakshas. The pravara of Upamanyu is Vashista, Bharadvasu, Indrapramada; the pravara of the Parâshara gotra is Vashista, Shâktya, Pârâsharya; the pravara of the Kundina gotra is Vashista, Maitrâvaruna, Kaundinya and the pravara of Vashistas other than these three is simply Vashista. It is therefore that some define pravara as the group of sages that distinguishes the founder (lit. the starter) of one gotra from another.

There are two kinds of pravaras, 1) sishya-prasishya-rishi-parampara, and 2) putrparampara. Gotrapravaras can be ekarsheya, dwarsheya, triarsheya, pancharsheya, saptarsheya, and up to 19 rishis. Kashyapasa gotra has at least two distinct pravaras in Andhra Pradesh: one with three sages (triarsheya pravara) and the other with seven sages (saptarsheya pravara). This pravara may be either sishya-prasishya-rishi-parampara or putraparampara. Similarly, Srivatsasa gotra has five sages or is called Pancharsheya and are the descendants of Jamadagni. When it is sishya-prasishya-rishi-parampara marriage is not acceptable if half or more than half of the rishis are same in both bride and bridegroom gotras. If it is putraparampara, marriage is totally unacceptable even if one rishi matches.[14]

Sects and Rishis

Due to the diversity in religious and cultural traditions and practices, and the Vedic schools which they belong to, Brahmins are further divided into various subcastes. During the sutra period, roughly between 1000 BCE to 200 BCE, Brahmins became divided into various Shakhas (branches), based on the adoption of different Vedas and different rescension Vedas. Sects for different denominations of the same branch of the Vedas were formed, under the leadership of distinguished teachers among Brahmins.

There are several Brahmin law givers, such as Angirasa, Apasthambha, Atri, Bhrigu, Brihaspati, Boudhayana, Daksha, Gautama, Harita, Katyayana, Likhita, Manu,[15] Parasara, Samvarta, Shankha, Shatatapa, Ushanasa, Vashista, Vishnu, Vyasa, Yajnavalkya, Yama. These twenty-one rishis were the propounders of Smritis. The oldest among these smritis are Apastamba, Baudhayana, Gautama, and Vashista Sutras.[16]

Descendants of the Brahmins

Many Indians and non-Indians claim descent from the Vedic Rishis of both Brahmin and non-Brahmin descent. For example, the Dasharna and Nagas are said to be the descendants of Kashyapa Muni.

The Descendants of Brahmins can be easily depicted. The Gotra of a true brahmin literally is the name of the great person to whom the family was descended.

Vishwakarmas are the descendants of Pancha Rishis or Brahmarishies. According to Yajurveda and Brahmanda purana, they are Sanaka, Sanatana, Abhuvanasa, Prajnasa, and Suparnasa. The Kani tribe of South India claim to descend from Agastya Muni.

The Gondhali, Kanet, Bhot, Lohar, Dagi, and Hessis claim to be from Renuka Devi.

The Kasi Kapadi Sudras claim to originate from the Brahmin Sukradeva. Their duty was to transfer water to the sacred city of Kashi.[17]

The Padmashalis claim they came from Maharishi Markandeya, who wrote Markandeya Purana.

In one of the stories of the Saini (gardener) community, in they claim descent frm an Brahman and call themselves Parpadh Brahman who in course of time became Phulmali.[18]

Dadheech Brahmins/dayama Brahmin trace their roots from Dadhichi Rishi. Many Jat clans claim to descend from Dadhichi Rishi while the Dudi Jats claim to be in the linear of Duda Rishi.

Lord Buddha was a descendant of Angirasa through Gautama. There too were Kshatriyas of other clans to whom members descend from Angirasa, to fulfill a childless king's wish.[19]

The backward-caste Matangs claim to descend from Matang Muni, who became a Brahmin by his karma.

According to one legend, the nomadic tribe of Kerala, the Kakkarissi, are derived from the mouth of Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu, and came out a Brahmin.[20]

Scholar Udai Narain Roy endorses the suggestion that the imperial Guptas were Brahmins by contributing an article for K.P.Jayaswal memorial volume, 1981(published under the patronage of Bihar Government).

Claimants of Brahmin Status

In Haryana, The Tagas (4000) claim to be a Brahman race, which has abandoned the priestly profession and taken to agriculture.

In Punjab, the misari of the Multan Langrials claim descent Brahmin of Bikanir.[21] Both the Langrail and Golia claim that they were Brahmin Charans.[22]

In Uttar Pradesh the Oudh Belwars have also claimed Brahman descent. Their main subcaste was always Sanadh, which is a Brahman subcaste.

Brahmins taking up other duties

The Reciting Brahman Illustration from Sougandhika Parinaya, 19th Century

Brahmins have taken on many professions - from being priests, ascetics and scholars to warriors and business people, as is attested for example in Kalhana's Rajatarangini. Brahmins with the qualities of Kshatriyas are known as 'Brahmakshatriyas'. An example is the avatar Parashurama who is considered an avatar of Vishnu. Sage Parashurama was a powerful warrior who had defeated the Haiheya kshatriyas twenty one times, was an expert in the use of weapons, and trained others to fight without weapons. After Sage Parshuram destroyed the Kshatriya race, he was excluded by other Brahmin communities and denied to perform any religious ceremonies for him. At the coast of Arabian sea i.e. the Western Ghats he decided to create a new Brahmin community where he found dead bodies of people came out floating from the sea. He purified them with Agni and brought back to life. Then he taught them all the veda's, weapons, religious knowledge and made the Brahmin known as Chitpavan Konkanastha Brahmins. Chitapavan means Chit + Pavan the Brahmins whose chit/soul was purified, Konkanastha means belong to Konkan region. Chitapavan Konkanastha Brahmin's did not have their own land hence were insulted by other rulers & Brahmins. Hence Sage Parshurama asked the Sea Lord to go back and give some land which he denied. Sage Parshurama got angry and made ready the Brahmastra to destroy the Sea Lord. Sea Lord frightned and asked to forgive him. Sage Parshurama said that as he has made Brahmhaastra on the arrow ready to launch he cannot return the arrow backwards but he will remove the Brahmaastra and wherever the arrow will land till that point sea will leave the Land for his followers Chitpavan Konkanastha Brahmin and Daivadnya Brahmins. The place from where Sage Parshurama released the arrow is there in Konkan area known as Lote Parshuram and has a temple of Sage Parshuram. The Bhumihar Brahmins were established when Parashurama destroyed the Kshatriya race, and he set up in their place the descendants of Brahmins, who, after a time, having mostly abandoned their priestly functions (although some still perform), took to land-owning.[23] Many Brahmins took up the profession of medicine. They are Vaidya Brahmins called Baidya Brahmins of Bengal [gupta, dasgupta and senguptas] are descendants of Dhanavantari, the god of medicine and father of Ayurveda.

The Brahmakhatris caste, descendants of the Khatris, however, are a business caste/community of Punjab and belong to the Kshatriya caste.

Perhaps the word Brahma-kshatriya refers to a person belonging to the heritage of both castes.[24] However, among the Royal Rajput households, Brahmins who became the personal teachers and protectors of the royal princes rose to the status of Rajpurohit and taught the princes everything including martial arts. They would also become the keepers of the Royal lineage and its history. They would also be the protectors of the throne in case the regent was orphaned and a minor.

Well Known Brahmin Chanakya was a Rajpurohit for Chandragupta, The founder of the Mouryan empire, has helped Chandragupta to get a grip on the well established Nanda Empire and also to fight Alexander the Great from invading India. Alexander failed to conquer or win over Chandragupta Maurya and started for his country but was died on the way.

Kshatriyan Brahmin is a term associated with people of both caste's components.[25]

The Pallavas were an example of Brahmakshatriyas as that is what they called themselves. King Lalitaditya Muktapida of Kashmir ruled all of India and even Central Asia.

King Rudravarma of Champa (Vietnam) of 657 A.D. was the son of a Brahmin father.[24]

King Jayavarma I of Kambuja (Kampuchea) of 781 A.D. was a Brahma-kshatriya.[24]

Hem Chandra Vikramaditya (Hemu), born in a family of Purohits, started the manufacturing of Cannons for the first time in North India with Portugese knowhow and dealt in Gunpowder for supplies to Sher Shah Suri's army. Later he became Prime Minister-cum-Chief of Army of Suris and Emperor of North India in 1556, defeating Akbar's army at Agra and Delhi.

Brahmins with the qualities of a Vaisya or merchant are known as 'Brahmvyasya'. An example of such persons are people of the Ambastha[26] caste, which exist in places like South India. They perform medical work - that is from ancient times have practised the Ayurveda and have been Vaidyas (or doctors) as have been claimed by these people during the British rule when the Govt. expressed the will to promote cast mobilisation, thence from they started bearing the thread also, but neither the Govt. nor the Hindu oligarchs, none expressed any such sanction .

Many Pallis of South India claim to be Brahmins (while others claim to be Agnikula Kshatriyas.)[27] Kulaman Pallis are nicknamed by outsiders as Kulaman Brahmans.[27] Hemu from Rewari, Haryana was also a Brahmin by birth.

Practices

Brahmins, basically adhere to the principles of the Vedas, Manu Smriti, Sanatana Dharma, and can be found in any of the different religions of Hinduism, such as acceptance of the Vedas. By birth Brahmins are Vedic only,later they accept any other faith. Brāhmaṇas have six occupational duties, of which three are compulsory—namely, studying the Vedas, doing Vedic Sacrifices for God and giving charity. By teaching Veda, by inducing others to worship the God, and by accepting charity back, the brāhmaṇas receive the necessities of life. This is also confirmed in the Manu-saḿhitā:

ṣaṇṇāḿ tu karmaṇām asya

trīṇi karmāṇi jīvikā

yajanādhyāpane caiva

viśuddhāc ca pratigrahaḥ

A brāhmaṇa cannot take up any professional occupational duty for his livelihood. The śāstras especially stress this, if one claims to be a brāhmaṇa.[28] Brahmins believe in Sarvejanāssukhinobhavaṃtu—Let the entire society be happy and prosperous and Vasudhaiva kuṭuṃbakaṃ—the whole world is one family. Many Brahmins are reformers. Brahmins practice vegetarianism or lacto-vegetarianism which has been a custom since several centuries dating back to B.C. Following this custom is mandatory in Brahmin culture. However, some among the Brahmins inhabiting cold regions of Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Nepal, and coastal areas like Bengal etc., eat fish and other locally available non-vegetarian foods and hence are pesco-vegetarians.

Brahmins have a "choti", a braid that is grown on the back of their heads- the main purpose of this was to help differentiate Brahmins from other Hindu Castes, as well as to show that they possess sacred knowledge, unlike others. But, in fact, choti is for all Hindus (law of Manu).

Sampradayas

The three sampradayas (sects) of Brahmins, mostly in South India are the Smarta sampradaya, the Srivaishnava sampradaya and the Madhva sampradaya.

Smartism

Smartism (or Smarta Sampradaya, Smarta Tradition, as it is termed in Sanskrit) is a liberal or nonsectarian denomination of the Hindu religion who accept all the major Hindu deities as forms of the one Brahman in contrast to Shaivism and Shaktism, for example. The term Smarta refers to adherents who follow the Vedas and Shastras.

Vaishnavism

One form of Vaishnavism is Madhwa ( Dwaita Sampradaya), and the other is Sri Vaishnava (Vishist Adwaita sampradaya). Madhwa Brahmins are mainly located in the Carnatic plains and some of them are seen in Andhra, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Kerala areas. They follow the preachings of Sri Madhwacharya, who was born in South Canara district of Karnataka in 12th Century. He preached that God and atma (our soul ) is different contrary to the teachings of Sri Sankaracharya, who preached aham Brahmasmi (God and my soul are the same).

In south India Srivaishnava sampradayam was propagated by Srimad Ramanjuacharya which has given as bhakti marga by azhwar saints.

Shaivism

Shaivism (sometimes called Shivaism) is a belief system where Lord Shiva is worshipped as the Supreme Lord. It is a derivative faith of the core Vedic tradition. Saiva sects contains many sub-sects, such as Rudrasaivas, Veerasiavas, Paramasaivas, etc. Ravana, the ruler of Lanka in the Hindu epic Ramayana, was a Devgan Brahmin.

Buddhism

Brahmins were treated with the greatest veneration in the time of the Buddha and there are countless references to Brahmins throughout all of the Buddhist scriptures. Furthermore, most of the major Buddhist founders were Brahmins. They include Sariputra, Maudgalyayana, Mahakashyapa, Bodhi Dharma, Nagarjuna, Asvaghosha, Padmasambhava, Shantarakshita, Nagasena, Kumarajiva and Shantideva all of whom have always been referred to their titles as Brahmins in all scriptures. The word Brahmin was not redefined by the Buddha and it continued to be used alongside Arahat in separate capacities. For example, in the Ambattha Sutra, we find the Buddha debated a Brahmin who was clearly not an Arahat. Also, in many important dharanis, Brahmins are mentioned in an entirely different capacity to Arahats and therefore there is a marked difference. The Buddha however insisted that Brahmins had to live up to their great legacy and could not be by birth alone but also had to have the meritorious acts. In the Dhammapada, the Buddha mentions Brahmins and Arahats in very different capacities and dedicates an entire chapter to what it means to be a real Brahmin called the Brahmana-vagga.[29] The Buddha did not believe in caste discrimination but he did endorse a fair division of labour based on merit. Brahmins were not to discriminate against lower castes but were to serve them wholeheartedly. Many sutras believe that the Buddha himself was a Brahmin in a previous life and due to his good merit as a Brahmin, he was re-born as the Buddha.[30] Other experts believe the Buddha descended from Brahmin sage Angiras whose descendants like Dronacharya were Shatra Brahmins or warrior Brahmins that eventually became Kshatriya warriors.

The notion of ritual purity provided a conceptual foundation for the caste system, by identifying occupations and duties associated with impure or taboo objects as being themselves impure. Regulations imposing such a system of ritual purity and taboos are absent from the Buddhist monastic code, and not generally regarded as being part of Buddhist teachings[31] To the contrary, the early Buddhist scriptures defined purity as determined by one's state of mind, and refer to anyone who behaves unethically, of whatever caste, as "rotting within", or "a rubbish heap of impurity".[32]

There are many places in which the Buddha explains his use of the word brahman. At Sutta Nipata 1.7 Vasala Sutta, verse 12, he states: "Not by birth is one an outcast; not by birth is one a brahman. By deed one becomes an outcast, by deed one becomes a brahman."[33]

Jainism

  • The first convert of Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism was Indrabhuti (aka Gautamswami) the Brahmin, who headed a group of other Brahmins and converted them to Jainism. He was from the village Gobbar (also called Govarya) near Rajgriha. It is said that at the sight of Gautama, the tapsas who were competing with him to reach the top of a hill once, by seeing the winner Gautama at the top, achieved moksha.[34]
  • Sajjambhava was another born from Rajgriha and was elected the head of the Jain temple. He is famous for his composition of the "Dasavaikalika Sutra."
  • Acharya Vidyanand is a Brahmin of the Dhigambar Jain sect and compiled in the Sanskrit language, "Ashta Shahastri" with eight thousand verses.
  • Acharya Shushil Kumar, known better to Jains as "Guruji", was born a Vaidik in the Shakarpur village of the Haryana province. At the age of 15, he took Diksha (became a sanyassin) into the Sthanakvasi, a Swhetambara sub-sect.
  • There is also a story about a wealthy Brahmin named Dhangiri in the town of Tumbhivan, who, when heard the sermons of the Jain Acharya Sinhgiri, while he regularly listened to but later lost his interest in wealth and decided to take the Diksha.
  • Umasvati was a composer who was so loved by Jains that he is considered by the Dhigambar sect to be a Dhigambar member and the Svetambara sect to be a Svetambara member.
  • Akalanka of the 8th century is saod to the poineer in rthe field of Jain logic.[35]

Sikhism

Many writers of the Guru Granth Sahib are of the Bhatt surname.[36] The Sikh composed Mathura Bhatt's fourteen verses are seven each in praise of Guru Ram Das and Guru Arjan.

There are also several Mohyals (Brahmin warriors) in the Sikh community.

Miscellaneous sects

There are additional sampradayas as well which are not as widely followed as the rest.

The Mahima Dharma or "Satya Mahima Alekha Dharma" was founded by the Brahmin Mukunda Das of present-day Orissa, popularly know by followers as Mahima Swami according to the Bhima Bhoi text.[37] He was born in the last part of 18th century in Baudh ex-state as a son of Ananta Mishra. He was Brahmin by caste as mentioned in Mahima Vinod of Bhima Bhoi in Vol.11. This sampradaya is similar to Vaishnavism. Although the members of this sect do not worship Lord Vishnu as their Ishta-Deva, they believe that the Srimad Bhagavatam is sacred. The founder of this sect was a Vaishnavite before founding the new order.[37] This sampradaya was founded in the latter part of the 18th century.[37]

There is also the Avadhoot Panth, wherein Lord Dattatreya and his forms such as Narasimha Saraswati and Sai Baba of Shirdi are worshiped. Lord Dattatreya is worshiped by many as the Hindu trinity - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva in one divine entity. Many even worship Dattatreya as an Avatar of Vishnu or of Shiva.

Relationships of Brahmin and Kshatriyas

Brahmins are at the pinnacle of the caste system and give spiritual guidance to the Kshatriyas. They generally are the ones who perform religious events and educate nobles about the rules of dharma. Brahmins are well educated on the Vedic and Puranic texts and at the time of the Mahabharata were the only people able to interpret them. Brahmins often are seen in the Mahabharata wandering forests in complete silence in order be more “god-like”. Actions like these have the potential to anger the gods who see the brahmins as trying to be equal to them. When the brahmins are not wandering the forests, they are serving as teachers or advisors to the Kshatriyas, specifically to preach dharma and educate about the vedas. Although above the Kshatriyas in the class system, Brahmins are also in need of assistance from them. They use the kings and warriors for hospitality among other things. Brahmins usually do not have much money and are usually given their necessities by kings.

The relationship of the Kshatriyas and the Brahmins were mutually beneficial to both these castes. Kings provided proper essentials for religious performances such as sacrifices which the Brahmins were to lead. “Kshatriyas performed great sacrifices at which many gifts were given to Brahmins, and Brahmins studied the Vedas with their branches and Upanishads.".[38] This showed us that the kings were to submit to the brahmins’ needs and highly respected their place in the caste system by not only preparing a sacrifice but also by bearing great gifts for the brahmins. By giving the brahmins gifts, the kings would hope in return that good things would come to them by following the steps of dharma.

A Brahmin named Chanakya(Kautilya/Vishnugupta) was the one who brought up an abandoned boy with Emperors Blood(Chandragupta) and made him the emperor by defeating nandavamsa even before he was 20 years old and made all the small kingdoms to come to one and make them unite in one rule. The Brain power was of chanakya was so amazing that he was the one who wrote Ardhashastra(Economics) even before half the world was ignorant of business and administration.

Another Brahmin, Timmarasu who was the prime minister of king Krishnadeva Raya and has dedicated his life to serve the king. He overcame the politics and made Krishnadeva raya the king and later played a critical part in turning a deadly enemy to a friend and married the daughter of that king to Krishnadeva Raya. Later he was falsely accused for killing Krishnadeva raya's son and was blinded by the king.

Nepal

Bahun is a colloquial Nepali term for a member of the Pahari or "hill" Brahmin (ब्राह्मण) caste, who are traditionally educators, scholars and priests of Hinduism. They are also known as Barmu in Newari. Some Jaiswal Brahmins are Chaurasi Brahmins from Nepal or north India. By tradition—and by civil law until 1962—they represented the highest of the four Hindu varna or castes. Bahuns from the "hills" have been represented disproportionately in Nepal's education system, political parties and civil service since the country was unified by Prithvi Narayan Shah and his heirs in the 18th century. The top leaders of the all the major three parties: Maoist opposition (Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Baburam Bhattarai), Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) Jhalanath Khanal, Madhav Kumar (Nepal), and Nepali Congress (Sushil Koirla) are also Bahuns.

Burma (Myanmar)

Historically, Brahmins, known as ponna (ပုဏ္ဏား) in modern-day Burmese (Until the 1900s, ponna referred to Indians who had arrived prior to colonial rule, distinct from the kala, Indians who arrived during British rule), formed an influential group in Burma prior to British colonialism. During the Konbaung dynasty, court Brahmins were consulted by kings for moving royal capitals, waging wars, making offerings to Buddhist sites like the Mahamuni Buddha, and for astrology.[39] Burmese Brahmins can be divided into four general groups, depending on their origins:

  • Manipur Brahmins (Burmese: မုနိပူရဗြာဟ္မဏ) - Brahmins who were sent to Burma after Manipur became a Burmese vassal state in the 1700s and ambassadors from Manipur
  • Arakanese Brahmins (Burmese: ရခိုင်ဗြာဟ္မဏ): Brahmins brought to Burma from Arakan after it was conquered by the Konbaung king Bodawpaya
  • Sagaing Brahmins: oldest Brahmins in Burmese society, who had consulted the Pyu, Burman and Mon kingdoms prior to the Konbaung dynasty
  • Indian Brahmins: Brahmins who arrived with British colonial rule, when Burma became a part of the British Raj

According to Burmese chronicles, Brahmins in Burma were subject to the four-caste system, which included brahmanas (ဗြာဟ္မဏ), kshatriyas (ခတ္တိယ), vaishya (ဝေဿ), and shudra (သုဒ္ဒ). Because the Burmese monarchy enforced the caste system for Indians, Brahmins who broke caste traditions and laws were subject to punishment. In the Arakanese kingdom, punished Brahmins often became kyun ponna (ကျွန်ပုဏ္ဏား), literally 'slave Brahmins', who made flower offerings to Buddha images and performed menial tasks. During the Konbaung dynasty, caste was indicated by the number of salwe (threads) worn; Brahmins wore nine, while the lowest caste wore none. Brahmins are also fundamental in the Nine-God cult, called the Nine Divinities (Phaya Ko Su ဘုရားကိုးစု) which is essentially a Burmese puja [disambiguation needed ] (puzaw in Burmese) of appeasing nine divinities, Buddha and the eight arahats, or a group of nine deities, five Hindu gods and four nats.[39] This practice continues to be practiced in modern-day Burma.

Notes

  1. ^ Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin. Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self. Brahmin or Brahmana refers to an individual, while the word Brahma refers to the creative aspect of the universal consciousness[citation needed].

References

  1. ^ Indian Economic and Social History Review 1987, Himanshu P Ray, 24: 443
  2. ^ Ancient India: a history of its culture and civilization, Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi, p.166-170
  3. ^ A social history of India, by SN Sadasivan
  4. ^ Castes and tribes of Southern India, By Edgar Thurston, K. Rangachari
  5. ^ Hopkins, Religions of India, p.192 states: "As to the fees, the rules are precise, and the propounders of them are unblushing. The priest performs the sacrifice for the fee alone, and it must consist of valuable garments, kine, horses, or gold; – when each is to be given is carefully stated. Gold is coveted most, for ‘this is immortality, the seed of Agni,’ and therefore peculiarly agreeable to the pious priest"
  6. ^ A detailed article on Brahmins at Vepachedu Educational Foundation
  7. ^ Brāhmanotpatti Martanda, cf. Dorilal Sharma, p.41-42
  8. ^ Mentioned by Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya in "Hindu Castes and Sects", a detailed article on various castes and groups of Brahmins
  9. ^ Article on Brahmins of Andhra Pradesh at Vepachedu Educational Foundation
  10. ^ http://bbsl.org.uk/bardai_brahmins.php
  11. ^ The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India By R.V. Russell
  12. ^ The Tale of Tuluva Brahmins
  13. ^ Article on Gotras of Brahmins at Vepachedu Educational Foundation
  14. ^ Article on Gotras and pravaras of Brahmins at Vepachedu Educational Foundation
  15. ^ Manu Smriti on learning of the Vedas
  16. ^ Article on various sects and rishis of Brahmins at Vepachedu Educational Foundation
  17. ^ Bhanu, B. V., People of India, p. 948.
  18. ^ P. 845, People of India: Rajasthan edited by K. S. Singh
  19. ^ Classical Dictionary of Hindu Mythology and Religion, Geography, History and Literature, by John Dowson, p. 17.
  20. ^ History of Indian Theatre, by Manohar Laxman Varadpande, p. 227.
  21. ^ P. 130 The Pakistan gazetteer, Volume 3 By Cosmo Publications (Firm)
  22. ^ P. 368 A glossary of the tribes and castes of the Punjab and North-West frontier By H.A. Rose
  23. ^ Crooke, William (1999). The Tribes and Castes of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh. 6A, Shahpur Jat, New Delhi-110049, India: Asian Educational Services. pp. 1809 (at page 64). ISBN 8120612108. 
  24. ^ a b c P. 201, Professor A.L. Basham, My Guruji and Problems and Perspectives of Ancient, by Sachindra Kumar Maity
  25. ^ P. 29, Cultural History from the Matsyapurāṇa, by Sureshachandra Govindlal Kantawala
  26. ^ P. 37 Asian Medical Systems: A Comparative Study By Charles Leslie
  27. ^ a b P. 13 Castes And Tribes Of Southern India By Edgar Thurston, K. Rangachari
  28. ^ http://vedabase.net/sb/7/11/14/en | Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 7.11.14
  29. ^ http://www.buddhanet.net/dhammapada/d_brahmi.htm
  30. ^ http://www.jatakaonline.com/jataka-tales/0011-the-first-prophecy
  31. ^ (Robinson, Johnson & Thanissaro 2005, p. 51)
  32. ^ Sue Hamilton, Early Buddhism: A New Approach: The I of the Beholder. Routledge 2000, pages 47, 49.
  33. ^ Translation by Piyadassi Thera
  34. ^ P.21 Jaina-rūpa-maṇḍana =: Jaina Iconography By Umakant Premanand Shah
  35. ^ P. 374 Buddhist phenomenology: a philosophical investigation of Yogācāra Buddhism By Dan Lusthaus
  36. ^ Bards/Bhatts in Adi Granth: Bhatt Mathura
  37. ^ a b c "Mahima Dharma, Bhima Bhoi and Biswanathbaba"
  38. ^ Smith, John. "The Mahābhārata : an abridged translation". Penguin Books, 2009, p.18
  39. ^ a b Leider, Jacques P.. "Specialists for Ritual, Magic and Devotion: The Court Brahmins of the Konbaung Kings". The Journal of Burma Studies 10: 159–180. 

Further reading

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • brahmín — (del ár. «barahman», del persa «barahman», y éste del sánscrito «bráhman», cuerpo de teólogos) m. Brahmán. * * * brahmín. m. brahmán. * * * ► masculino Brahmán …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • brahmin — BRAHMÍN s.m. Brahman. [< fr. brahmine]. Trimis de LauraGellner, 13.09.2007. Sursa: DN …   Dicționar Român

  • brahmin — (n.) member of Boston s upper class, 1823, figurative use of Brahman member of the highest priestly Hindu caste, late 15c., from Skt. brahmana s, from brahman prayer, also the universal soul, the Absolute, of uncertain origin. Related to BRAHMA… …   Etymology dictionary

  • brahmin — bràhmīn (bràmīn) m <G brahmína> DEFINICIJA v. brahman (2) ETIMOLOGIJA vidi brahman …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • brahmín — m. brahmán …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • Brahmin — [brä′min] n. 1. a BRAHMAN (sense 2) 2. a cultured person from a long established upper class family, esp. of New England, regarded as haughty or conservative Brahminic [brä min′ik, brəmin′ik] adj. Brahminical …   English World dictionary

  • Brahmin — (Brahman)    A Brahmin is a member of the hereditary priestly class of India. The term is derived from the Vedic word BRAHMAN, which means (among other things) “prayer.” In Sanskrit the same Vedic word desig nates prayer and the one who prays,… …   Encyclopedia of Hinduism

  • Brahmin — Brahminic /brah min ik/, Brahminical, adj. /brah min/, n., pl. Brahmin, Brahmins, adj. n. 1. Hinduism. Brahman (def. 1). 2. (esp. in New England) a person usually from an old, respected family who, because of wealth and social position, wields… …   Universalium

  • Brahmin — Brahman Brah man, Brahmin Brah min, n.; pl. {Brahmans}, {Brahmins}. [Skr. Br[=a]hmana (cf. Brahman worship, holiness; the God Brahma, also Brahman): cf. F. Brahmane, Brachmane, Bramine, L. Brachmanae, manes, mani, pl., Gr. ?, pl.] 1. A person of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Brahmin — UK / US [ˈbrɑmɪn] noun [countable] Word forms Brahmin : singular Brahmin plural Brahmins American in parts of the Eastern US, a rich and socially important person See: Brahman …   English dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.