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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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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
While his flamboyance establishes Naranappa's dissipations as an identifiable and, at least to some, attractive modus vivendi in Samskara, his anti-brahminic ideological agenda locates his actions within a context, as an extreme reaction to a specific institutional arrangement, where a certain variety of brahminism has established a stultifying and counterproductive hold over social and cultural expression.
On "Brama," or "Brahma" and "Brahminism [sic]," see, for example, the references in Bushnell, God in Christ, 140, 173; Bushnell, Nature and the Supernatural, 42, 51, 249-50; Horace Bushnell, "The War of Our Desires" (1848), in Spirit in Man, 369; and Horace Bushnell, "Death Abolished" (1849), in Spirit in Man, 286.
To discuss classical or even modern Hindu attitudes toward other religions-or indeed, any topic related to Hinduism as an intellectual tradition-is difficult without paying special attention to Brahminism, the classical orthodox thought, practice, and social theory developed in the first millennium B.C.E.
Griswold's description of Sukhothai Buddhism as a blend of "Theravada Buddhism, Saiva Brahminism, and Tai Animism" ("The Pact Between Sukhodaya and Nan", p.
In arguing for a return from modern Indian secularism to the religious tolerance of premodern times, he seems to me to be underemphasizing the implications of the fact that religious life in India before the onslaught of Western post-Enlightenment modernity was not free from tyrannical Brahminism and other forms of religious intolerance, on some of which, he has indeed written insightfully.
It propagates the ideology of a uniform Hinduism, Brahminical in essence and based largely on the Ram cult, denying the diversities of belief among those very people who get called "Hindu." This revivalist movement of religious bigotry and masculinist aggressivity has indeed become culturally and politically dominant in much of Northern India, the heartland of Brahminism, where the Ram cult has become much more powerful than ever before.
Most Bhils think the strong English Gods too much for the weak deities of their country, hence their desire to adopt Brahminism'.(134) That sense of malaise fuelled a series of religious movements from the late nineteenth century which transformed adivasi society in many ways.
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. Debates can continue but politics to defend Indian Constitution cannot wait!
Brahminism, however, still prevented the Shudras from having access to the Vedas.