Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...
[Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.]
In Hinduism, Brahman is the one supreme, universal Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe. Brahman is sometimes referred to as the Absolute or Godhead which is the Divine Ground of all being...
, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self. Brahmin or Brahmana refers to an individual, while the word Brahma
Brahma is the Hindu god of creation and one of the Trimurti, the others being Vishnu and Shiva. According to the Brahma Purana, he is the father of Mānu, and from Mānu all human beings are descended. In the Ramayana and the...
refers to the creative aspect of the universal consciousness .
is a name used to designate a member of one of the four varnas
in the traditional Hindu society. The English word brahmin
is an anglicised form of the Sanskrit word a
. In the Smriti
Smriti literally "that which is remembered," refers to a specific body of Hindu religious scripture, and is a codified component of Hindu customary law. Smṛti also denotes non-Śruti texts and is generally seen as secondary in authority to Śruti. The literature which comprises the Smrti was...
view there are four "varnas", or classes: the Brahmins, the Kshatriya
*For the Bollywood film of the same name see Kshatriya Kshatriya or Kashtriya, meaning warrior, is one of the four varnas in Hinduism...
s, the Vaishya
Vaishya is one of the four varnas of the Hindu social order. According to Vedic tradition, this caste primarily comprises merchants, farmers, cattle-herders and artisans.-Duties of Vaishyas:...
s, and Shudra
Shudra is the fourth Varna, as prescribed in the Purusha Sukta of the Rig veda, which constitutes society into four varnas or Chaturvarna. The other three varnas are Brahmans - priests, Kshatriya - those with governing functions, Vaishya - agriculturalists, cattle rearers and traders...
Traditionally Brahmins were fire-priests who adhered to different branches (shakhas) of Vedas. However, historically, the semantic change from a tribal state into the Hindu state of jati-varna matrix saw the conversion and absorption of tribals into the Brahmin class, through adoption of the priestly occupation later. In Medieval and Colonial India, people in mundane occupations have also proselytized themselves into Brahmins, usually upon gaining positions of power or upon becoming wealthy.
The Smritis conferred upon the Brahmins, the position of being the highest of the four Varnas. The priestly class was expected to practice self-abnegation and play the role of being the custodians of Dharma
Dharma means Law or Natural Law and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender...
(as a Brāhman who is well versed in Vedic texts). However, the fee paid to the Brahmana for performance of a sacrifice was grossly material.
In Hinduism, a sampradaya can be translated as ‘tradition’ or a ‘religious system’, although the word commands much more respect and power in the Indian context than its translations in English does...
s (sects) of modern Brahmins claim to take inspiration from the Vedas. According to orthodox Hindu tradition, the Vedas are
(beginning-less), and are revealed truths of eternal validity.
The Vedas are considered Śruti
("that which is heard") and are the paramount source on which Brahmin tradition claims to be based. Shruti includes not only the four Vedas (the Rigveda
The Rigveda is an ancient Indian sacred collection of Vedic Sanskrit hymns...
, the Yajurveda
The Yajurveda, a tatpurusha compound of "sacrificial formula', + ) is the third of the four canonical texts of Hinduism, the Vedas. By some, it is estimated to have been composed between 1400 and 1000 BC, the Yajurveda 'Samhita', or 'compilation', contains the liturgy needed to perform the...
, the Samaveda
The Sama veda , is second of the four Vedas, the ancient core Hindu scriptures. Its earliest parts are believed to date from 1700 BC and it ranks next in sanctity and liturgical importance to the Rigveda...
and the Atharvaveda
The Atharvaveda is a sacred text of Hinduism and one of the four Vedas, often called the "fourth Veda"....
), but also their respective Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads.
In 1931, Brahmins accounted for 9% of the total population. In Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh , is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of India. It is India's fourth largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city by population is Hyderabad.The total GDP of Andhra Pradesh is $100 billion and is ranked third...
, they formed less than 2%; in Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...
they formed less than 3%. In Kerala
or Keralam is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was created on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam speaking regions....
, Nambudiri Brahmins make up 0.7% of the population. In West Bengal too the figures stand the same, whereas in Uttar Prdesh, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Orissa the brahmin population is quite near 10%.
The Brahmin castes may be broadly divided into two regional groups: Pancha-Gauda
Pancha-Gauda and Pancha-Dravida are two chief divisions of Brahmins, as per the śloka from Rājatarangini of / Kalhana:कर्णाटकाश्च तैलंगा द्राविडा महाराष्ट्रकाः ,गुर्जराश्चेति पञ्चैव द्राविडा विन्ध्यदक्षिणे ||सारस्वताः कान्यकुब्जा गौडा उत्कलमैथिलाः,...
from Northern India and considered to be North of Vindhya mountains and Pancha-Dravida Brahmins
from South of Vindhya mountains as per the shloka
A ' is a category of verse line developed from the Vedic Anuṣṭubh. It is the basis for Indian Epic verse, and may be considered the Indian verse form par excellence, occurring, as it does, far more frequently than any other meter in classical Sanskrit poetry. The Mahabharata and Ramayana, for...
. However, this sloka is from Rajatarangini of Kalhana, which was composed only in the 11th century CE.
कर्णाटकाश्च तैलङ्गा द्राविडा महाराष्ट्रकाः,
गुर्जराश्चेति पञ्चैव द्राविडा विन्ध्यदक्षिणे ||
सारस्वताः कान्यकुब्जा गौडा उत्कलमैथिलाः,
पञ्चगौडा इति ख्याता विन्ध्स्योत्तरवासिनः ||
Translation: Karnataka (Kannada), Telugu (Andhra), Dravida (Tamil and Kerala), Maharashtra and Gujarat are Five Southern (Panch Dravida). Saraswata (Punjab,Kashmir & Sindh), Kanyakubja (Uttar Pradesh), Gauda (Kurukshetra and Rajasthan), Utkala (Orissa), Maithili (Bihar) are Five Northern (Pancha Gauda). This classification occurs in Rajatarangini
The Rājatarangiṇī is a metrical chronicle of North west of the Indian subcontinent particularly the kings of Kashmir from earliest time written in Sanskrit by Kalhaṇa. The Rājatarangiṇī often has been erroneously referred to as the River of the Kings. In reality what Kalhana means by Rājatarangiṇī...
Kalhana , a Kashmiri, was the author of Rajatarangini , an account of the history of Kashmir. He wrote the work in Sanskrit between 1148 and 1149. All information regarding his life has to be deduced from his own writing, a major scholar of which is Mark Aurel Stein...
and earlier in some inscriptions
Those from Uttarapatha
Ancient Buddhist and Hindu texts use Uttarapatha as the name of the northern part of Jambudvipa, one of the "continents" in Hindu mythology.The name is derived from the Sanskrit terms uttara, for north, and patha, for road...
North India, known natively as Uttar Bhārat or Shumālī Hindustān , is a loosely defined region in the northern part of India. The exact meaning of the term varies by usage...
and eastern India.) Approximately ordered according to geographical regions.
- Kanyakubja Brahmins
Kanyakubj Brahmins are a Brahmin community found in central India, mainly in the states of Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The word Kanyakubja means Brahmins of the Kannauj region. Kannauj region was spread to border of Vidisha in ancient times...
- Assamese Brahmins
In Assam, out of many sects of Hindu people which include Brahmins , Kalitas, Ahoms amongst others; the Brahmin community is comparatively small. Brahmins are found everywhere in Assam and surrounding areas. However most predominantly in Jorhat, Nalbari, Barpeta, Goalpara and Darrang districts....
- Kamrupi Brahmins
Kamrupi Brahmin Brahman, Brahma and Brahmin.Brahman, Brahmin and Brahma have different meanings. Brahman refers to the Supreme Self...
- Saryupareen Brahmins
Saryupareen Brahmins , also known as Sarvarya Brahmins or Saryupariya Brahmins, are North Indian Brahmins residing on the eastern plain of the Sarayu near Ayodhya...
- Jaiswal Brahmin
Jaiswal Brahmin 'Brahmin Jaiswals belongs to Pancha-Gauda division and are branch of Kanyakubja Brahmins. Jaiswal Brahmins are mainly Chandravanshis or Gadhiwals, Some Jaiswals are also believed to be Nagar Brahmins. Jaiswals have historical simily with Nagar Brahmins and Sakaldwipiya or Shakadvipi...
- Bhumihar Brahmins
- Bengali Brahmins
Bahun is a colloquial Nepali term for a member of the Pahari or "hill" Brahmin caste, who are traditionally educators, scholars and priests of Hinduism. They are also known as Barmu in Newari. By tradition—and by civil law until 1962—they represented the highest of the four Hindu...
- Saraswat Brahmin
The Saraswats are a Brahmin caste of India.- History :According to the legend, Saraswat Brahmins are Brahmins who lived on the banks of the former Saraswati River that once flowed in northern India. Although it is said that at Prayag the three rivers meet or met.the fact is that the Saraswati never...
- Goud Saraswat Brahmins
- Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmins
- Rajapur Saraswat Brahmins
- Kudaldeshkar Gaud saraswat Brahmans