Brahmanas


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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Brahmanas

 

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.

REFERENCES

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.

P. A. GRINTSER

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
After summarizing the fundamentals of mimetic theory and outlining his argument, sources, and methods ("Introduction"), Collins devotes a chapter to the "Rivalries" of the Brahmanas, with Girard's lectures as the point of departure.
On the final pages Collins makes the case for locating "the end of sacrifice" in Hindu traditions of sacrifice, and more precisely in the Vedas as deployed by Girard in his Sacrifice lectures: because Vedic thinkers discerned the violence inherent in sacrifice in the Brahmanas, they were able to transcend "archaic religion" (p.
Black focuses on the various narratives found in the Brahmanas or Upanisads, but does not discuss compositional history outside of a relatively brief overview in his introduction.
Of the Brahmanas handed down by the followers of the Rigveda (Rgveda), two have been preserved: the Aitareya Brahmana and the Kausitaki (or Sankhayana) Brahmana.
Brahmana Any of a number of prose commentaries attached to the Vedas, the most ancient Hindu sacred literature.
One of the most effective attacks launched against the Vaishnava sectarian leadership threatened them with expulsion from the community of brahmanas because of the presence of shudras in the spiritual lineages of their orders, teachings suggesting that brahmanical rituals were not necessary for salvation, or behavior patterns that eroded the ritual and personal exclusivity of brahmanas.
Brahmanas learned in the Vedas regard a-virtuous Sudra as a model of a Brahmana himself.
The older Upanishads may be part of the Brahmanas (commentaries) of their respective Vedas but are distinguished from them both by increased philosophical and mystical questioning and by their diminished concern with Vedic deities and sacrificial rites.
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).
The entire corpus of Vedic literature--the Samhitas and the expositions that came to be attached to them, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, and the Upanishads--was considered Sruti, the product of divine revelation.
For much of this he depends on thirteen extended cosmogonies presented in various ritual texts, including the Aitareya, Kausitaki, Satapatha, Pancavimsa, and Jaiminiya brahmanas, the Tattiriya, Maitrayani, and Kathaka samhitas, and the Maitrayani Upanisad.
In chapter VI, "Jaimini's Mimamsa in the Context of the Brahmanas and Buddhism," the author shows that Buddhism stands closer to the brahmanas and Mimamsa than to the upanisads.