Brahmanism


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Brahmanism:

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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.

Brahmanism

 

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.

REFERENCES

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.

G. F. IL’IN

References in periodicals archive ?
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large-scale, cross-social spectrum of beliefs and practices-- incorporating the supernatural powers of spirits, deities and magic --that have emerged out of the interplay between animism, supematuralism, folk Brahmanism, the worship of Chinese deities and state-sponsored Theravada Buddhism, (p.
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The System of the Vedanta According to Badarayana's Brahma-Sutras and Sankara's Commentary thereon set forth as a Compendium of the Dogmatics of Brahmanism from the standpoint of Sankara.
El Saadawi displays agnostic tendencies and speaks of the order of the universe and an ultimately knowable soul as possible forms of deities, in close acquaintance with the Indian tradition of Brahmanism. All of these controversial views, political and religious critiques, and strong feminist assessments are still relevant to the world of Arab and Muslim women today and are strongly put forth in her notorious play, Twelve Women in a Cell.
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Theosophy, Helena Blavatsky's flamboyant reinterpretation of pre-Vedic Brahmanism and Buddhism, saw all phenomena fast and foremost as productions of subjective consciousness.
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. Among these was the notion of karma ("the sum of a person's bodily, mental and spiritual growth, often accumulated during numerous incarnations"), which assumes that the benevolent acts that a person carries out in one lifetime will enable him or her to evolve into a more spiritually enlightened being in the next.
* Brahmanism: This the sum of duty: do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.