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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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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.


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.


References in periodicals archive ?
As the son of a simpleton swindled out of the control of his property by Garudacharya's father, someone who was nonconsensually betrothed when young to Garudacharya's sister-in-law, it is easy to see why a spirited, intelligent man should conceive an antipathy for the trickery and insidious ways of Durvasapura brahminism.
My only sorrow is that there's no brahminism really left to destroy in this place--except you" (my emphasis, p.
Brahminism accepts a ritual polytheism which allows for the worship of numerous deities (of fire, wind, sky, cosmic functions) who have certain roles and specific areas of importance.
McFarland identifies the thewada with Brahminism, placing them above humans.
In the case of Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in India, the Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) - the public and democratic face of Brahminism and fascistic majoritarianism - includes within its own ranks a substantial number recruited from the middle and even the lower castes; and it rules the State today in alliance with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a party overwhelmingly of North Indian Dalits, the most oppressed in the traditional caste system.
Vishal's discussions with Trivedi and his proposed paper on Brahminism are all a part of his ongoing quest for the answer to the riddle of the Indian character.
The tragedy was compounded because much before the revival of Brahminism, the germs of equality had already been laid in India.
Nor is Brahminism so far, perhaps, from the concept of life's aimlessness that dominated Dreiser's early gropings.
These scriptures are the same, one of which was burnt by Ambedkar as a mark of protest against its values of caste and gender hierarchy, values of Brahminism.
The Brahmins, envious of the prosperity of this pilgrim town and in order to discourage people from going there, invented the absurd theory that one who dies in Harramba goes to hell, or is reborn as an ass, while he who dies in Kashi, the citadel of Brahminism, goes straight to heaven.
In the first place, Sridhara was a Brahmin of Paippalada branch of Atharva Veda whose traditional rituals characteristic of brahminism combined with Saivism and Vaisnavism when he became a direct disciple of a Sankarite monk (Ramakrishnananda Svami) in the monastery of Kapilasha, a famous Saivite shrine in Odisha.
lt;IR> JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL </IR> was the epitome of Brahminism, urbane and learned.