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Related to Brahmana: Brahmin, Aranyaka
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



ancient Indian sacred tracts forming part of Vedic literature. The texts of the Brahmanas were created approximately from the eighth to sixth centuries B. C. and are the very earliest examples of ancient Indian prose. The Brahmanas reflected the pretensions of the Indian priesthood (the brahmins) to a ruling position in society; sacrificial offerings are regarded in the texts as the foundation and meaning of life, and the priests are regarded as “living gods.” The Brahmanas contain myths, traditions, detailed descriptions of ritual, and information on the social and cultural history of ancient India. The language of the Brahmanas is terse and dry, but certain legends, tales, and parables have artistic value or contain a philosophical generalization. In the vast literature of the Brahmanas, the Shatapatha Brahmana is the most esteemed.


Winternitz, M. A History of Indian Literature, 2nd ed., vol. 1, part 1. Calcutta, 1959.
Oldenberg, H. Zur Geschichte der altindischen Prosa. Berlin, 1917.
Rau, W. Staat und Gesellschaft im alten Indien. Wiesbaden, 1957.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Late in his career, Girard turned his attention to just this question in a series of lectures on the Vedic Brahmanas (Sacrifice, tr.
The Brahmanas belong to the period 900-700 BC, when the sacred hymns were gathered into Samhitas ("collections").
According to Nilakantha, a spiritual-minded sudra is also a vaidehika, achieving salvation after progressive rebirths as a vaisya, a ksatriya and a brahmana.
The only major Indological works of Oertel not included are his edition and annotated translation of the Jaiminiya Upanisad Brahmana (JAOS 16 [1894]: 79-260), his Syntax of Cases in the Narrative and Descriptive Prose of the Brahmanas (Heidelberg, 1926), and a lesser-known study entitled Zur indischen Apologetik (Stuttgart, 1930).
contends, efforts, often insidious, by the brahmana authors to define and strengthen their own social position.