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(both: brä`mən). In the Upanishads, Brahman is the name for the ultimate, unchanging reality, composed of pure being and consciousness. Brahman lies behind the apparent multiplicity of the phenomenal world, and is ultimately identical to the atman or inner essence of the human being (see VedantaVedanta
, one of the six classical systems of Indian philosophy. The term "Vedanta" has the literal meaning "the end of the Veda" and refers both to the teaching of the Upanishads, which constitute the last section of the Veda, and to the knowledge of its ultimate meaning.
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). This ultimate quality relates to the second meaning of Brahman, or Brahmin—a member of the highest, or priestly, Hindu caste. Brahmins alone may interpret the VedasVeda
[Sanskrit,=knowledge, cognate with English wit, from a root meaning know], oldest scriptures of Hinduism and the most ancient religious texts in an Indo-European language.
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 and perform the Vedic sacrifice. The vast majority of modern Brahmins are in occupations unrelated to religion, but they have retained their social prestige and many caste conventions. The Brahmins of India are divided into 10 territorial subcastes, 5 in the north and 5 in the south.


see CASTE.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

A succinct definition of Hinduism might read, "The Universe is profoundly One." This unity can best be understood by exploring the Hindu concepts of Brahman and Atman.

The Upanishads, which form part of the Hindu scripture, speak of Brahman as "Him the eye does not see, nor the tongue express, nor the mind grasp." Brahman is not a God, but rather the ultimate, unexplainable principle encompassing all of creation. Because creation preceded language, words cannot grasp the totality of Brahman. Any and every definition falls short. Brahman then becomes a word used to speak of what can be called a "macro" metaphysical principle.

But there is also a "micro" metaphysical principle. The subtle presence intuited within, identified as "soul" or "self" by other traditions, is called Atman. Atman, thus, perceives Brahman. But this perception leads to a central meditation discovered by the Hindu rishis, or sages, described in the Chandogya Upanishad:

In the beginning there was Existence alone—One only, without a second. He, the One [Brahman], thought to himself: "Let me be many, let me grow forth." Thus out of himself he projected the universe, and having projected out of himself the universe, he entered into every being. All that is has its self in him alone. Of all things he is the subtle essence. He is the truth. He is the Self. And that... THAT ART THOU!

When one discovers that Atman, the inner self, and Brahman, the essence of the universe, are indeed one, the experienced result is said to be one of immense peace and harmony, of coming home. The human perception of life is often that of a small, fragile being gazing out into an infinite, unknowable space. Hinduism teaches that the intuitive leap of realizing "that art thou" tells us we belong. We have a place. We are one with the stars and the consciousness that brought them into being.



(obsolete, Brahmin). (1) A category of Indian idealist philosophy—chiefly the Vedanta—designating the impersonal absolute that lies at the heart of all things.

(2) A member of the Indian Brahman caste.


supreme soul of the universe. [Hindu Phil.: Parrinder, 50]
See: God


1. a member of the highest or priestly caste in the Hindu caste system
2. Hinduism the ultimate and impersonal divine reality of the universe, from which all being originates and to which it returns
3. another name for Brahma
References in periodicals archive ?
There is significant divergence of opinion among scholars about how to characterize Thailand's diverse, complex and multi-intersecting religious landscapes of Theravada Buddhism, Brahmanical and Chinese ritual, royal cults, spirit mediumship, and cults of ritually empowered amulets and sacred objects.
40) On women and nuns in the Avadanasataka, especially the tension between marriage and renunciation and the role of Brahmanical marriage, see Muldoon-Hules (Brides) and Muldoon-Hules ("Brahminical Marriage"); another study dedicated to female imagery in the same work is a master's thesis by Green.
The phenomenon of 'Tantrism' was regarded as peripheral and 'sectarian', as opposed to the 'orthodox', and representative, mainstream Brahmanical Hinduism (47) This puritan attitude appears to have been interiorized by the majority of the early modern and modern Indian Hindu elites, who sanctioned mainstream Brahmanical religiosity as the 'real' and 'pure' form of Hinduism, and constructed their canon accordingly.
From a Brahmanical perspective, peoples in such castes are Shudras (Sudras).
43) James Forbes locates the Brahmanical mysteries in this institution as "these damsels are not only dedicated to the principal idols but to the pleasure of the priests".
Second, the Brahmanical version of human hierarchies could take the same general viewpoint and give it more negative implications.
Zupanov's first book, Disputed Mission: Jesuit Experiments and Brahmanical Knowledge in Seventeenth-century India (1999) centered on Roberto Nobili and his strategy for achieving conversion through accommodatio in the seventeenth century.
She insisted, moreover, that these truths had received their purest expression in the Brahmanical tradition of ancient India.
27) As for the "Ramakrishnaism" that the Mission claims to propagate, it is also not quite different from the Brahmanical version of Hinduism.
As a matter of fact, this is less a process of Sanskritization (adoption of Brahmanical values) than a process of 'Rajputization', as Indian sociology has made clear.
The aspects of early Brahmanical thought that involved a search for ultimate grounds, such as we find represented in the Upanisads, tended to reach beyond these divinities and to seek an abstract metaphysical principle at the root of existence, but not a personal god as conceived in monotheistic religions.
Also, the party was identified with the Hindi-speaking heartland of the North and its brahmanical interpretation of Hinduism did not take with the masses.