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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.
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see CASTE.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000


(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.

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


supreme soul of the universe. [Hindu Phil.: Parrinder, 50]
See: God
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
In fact, adivasis' rights over the land and forests have been acknowledged for long but the politician bureaucratic-feudal-caste connivance of the cow-belt brahmanical leaders ensured that all the provisions remain in paper.
Caption: 3 Head of a Brahmanical deity, Turki Shahi period, c.
The term purusartha in its technical application to these three (or four) concepts is totally absent in the early Brahmanical literature: all the Vedic texts, including the ritual sutras, the four early Dharmasutras, the major Dharmasastras including Manu and Yajnavalkya, Kautilya's Arthasastra, and Vatsyayana's Kamasutra; I will deal with the epics below.
According to allegations Dorsey during his visit to India earlier this year, posed for a group photograph along with six women journalists holding a poster in his hand that read 'End to Brahmanical Patriarchy' He also shared the picture on social media.
Their re-writing and also their writing back manage to 1) destabilize Brahmanical patriarchy; 2) subvert the models of representation of the dominant discourse with respect to the colonized subject and 3) stress--as Spivak (1987) puts it--that the subordinate cannot speak within the hegemonic discourse, which does not mean that s/he has no power or voice, as this paper has demonstrated.
Witnessing the gradual disintegration of Brahmanical social order and observing idolatrous practices of priests, she rejected exclusivist, organized religion with its empty, institutionalized ritualism.
Following his usual methodology of reinterpreting Brahmanical practices, the Buddha states that he does not reject all forms of sacrifice.
These developments, coupled with a resurgence of Brahmanical authority and the emergence of the Sanskrit Puranas, signal for the authors the advent of a broadly incorporative, pan-Indian "Hinduism." However, while the authors admit that "Puranic Hinduism" was largely accepting of religious plurality, they suggest that the Puranas themselves reflect a growing Brahmanical intolerance of heterodoxy and that practical acceptance of plurality should not be conflated with modern notions of religious toleration.
The philosophies of ancient Greece, the Hellenistic world, Socrates, and Thomas Aquinas are fruitfully compared with the philosophies of India, Buddhism, Ramanuja, and Brahmanical systems.
Monica Melanchthon, writing from the perspective of the Dalit women in India, observes that biblical interpretation in India has previously reflected either Western thought or the experience of the brahmanical traditions, not that of less privileged castes.
Their rituals are a combination of Buddhistic, animistic, and Brahmanical elements.
The claim that the book leaves "completely unexplored the symbiotic relationship between British imperialism and Indian Christianity" is simply inaccurate, for it ignores altogether the fact that chapter 10 argues that there was a symbiotic relationship between the Empire and (Brahmanical) Hinduism, a syncretistic culture that nurtured proto-nationalist sentiments.