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see HinduismHinduism
, Western term for the religious beliefs and practices of the vast majority of the people of India. One of the oldest living religions in the world, Hinduism is unique among the world religions in that it had no single founder but grew over a period of 4,000 years in
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name frequently employed in scholarly literature for the late Vedic religion, after the religion had changed considerably as a result of the development of class relations (particularly slavery) and the influence of the religion of the indigenous population of ancient India (first millennium B.C.). It got its name from the collection of ritual texts, the Brahmanas.

Brahmanism is characterized by polytheism with the inclusion of various local tribal deities in the pantheon, by the retention of animistic and totemistic views, and by ancestor worship. The supreme deities of Brahmanism are Brahma, the creator and embodiment of the universe, and the beneficent Vishnu and terrible Siva, which embody the productive forces of nature. At the basis of the dogma of Brahmanism are the notions of the animation of nature and the reincarnation of all living beings. Rebirth of the soul in one or another new corporeal form proceeds as requital (karma) for virtuousness or sinfulness in the preceding life: in the first case, a soul is reborn in the body of a human being of higher social standing or even as an inhabitant of heaven; in the second case, the soul is reborn in a person of lower social standing or even in an animal or plant. The criterion for the evaluation of a person’s behavior is his fulfillment or violation of dharma—the particular way of life allegedly established by Brahma for each varna. Brahmanism sanctified social inequality, proclaiming the division of society into varnas to be established by the gods.

Crucial significance was attributed by Brahmanism to rites—the complex ritual of sacrifice to the gods, memorial offerings to ancestors, and so on. The accurate execution of the ritual of reading the sacred texts in a language incomprehensible to the people (Sanskrit) required long training; this helped increase the importance of the Brahmins (the priestly class). The notion of ritual purity was extremely persistent; its violation required compulsory purifying rites. Brahmanism developed the notion of man’s ability to obtain the favor of the gods and acquire superhuman capacities by means of ascetic feats. In the struggle against Buddhism, and under its influence, Brahmanism was transformed into Hinduism in the first millennium A.D.


Barth, A. Religii Indii. Moscow, 1897. (Translated from French.)
Il’in, G. F. Religii drevnei Indii. Moscow, 1959.
Radkhakrishnan, S. Indiiskaia filosofiia, vol. 1. Moscow, 1956. (Translated from English.)
Renou, L. Religions of Ancient India. London, 1953.
Monier-Williams, M. Religious Thought and Life in India, 2nd ed. Part 1, “Vedism, Brahmanism, and Hinduism.” London, 1885.


References in periodicals archive ?
One man who more than anyone else contributed to the Dalit struggle against Brahmanism was Dr Ambedkar.
There is thus a real danger here of confusing Brahmanism with Hinduism--or part with the whole, and, more inexcusably, using the part as representative of the whole.
This is yet another facet of an ongoing inter-religious dialogue, however one-sided it may at times appear to be, between Buddhism and Brahmanism in India.
In the case of Brahmanism, the author uses almost exclusively the Dharmasutras and the Dharmasastra;(1) he does not address the problems inherent in using normative texts for historical purposes.
It follows immediately upon a little discussion of the relationship between (smarta) Brahmanism and Srividya.
46) Maharajan subscribes to a theory of Tamil cultural history according to which Tiruvalluvar lived during a time of cultural ferment, a time when the Tamil country, site of an ancient, casteless, and essentially world-affirming civilization, was infiltrated by proponents of Buddhism, Jainism, and Brahmanism.
It is highly likely that other movements, including Jainism, Brahmanism and localised cult activities were active, in both conflict and coexistence with early Buddhism.
The topics include the Brahmanas and the sacrificial systems, the Buddhistic movement and its influence on Brahmanism, the doctrine of devotion (bhakti) as developed in the puranas and tantras, and modern castes.
7) The main teachings of Christianity are not excluded from this alternative metaphysical system (as Randolph says in the film, "one of the first men to [adopt this way of life] went to the cross at the age of thirty-three"), but they have been supplemented by a series of ideas that were taken from Buddhism and Brahmanism.
Daoism, more exactly, finds a way between the radical world negation of Brahmanism and the "natural" world affirmation of Confucianism: The Dao is a creative entity within the world, though its creativity is negatively construed as "inaction.
Even in a secular world, the modern Farmer's Almanac retains some religious matter: it typically includes lists of religious holidays, saints' days, famous last words ('My exit is the result of too many entrees', Richard Monckton Milnes, Victorian politician), the ranking of angels ('Seraphim, Cherubim, Thrones'), and versions of the Golden Rule from eight world religions, including Brahmanism and Zoroastrianism along with Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (p.
Prior to the introduction of Brahmanism in India, women had been able to lead and teach, but with Brahmanism's ascendancy, males took over and strong women yoginis, if they were to continue their practice, had to leave civilization and live as "wild women.