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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.
REFERENCESWinternitz, 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