Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Brahmin

Brahmin is a varna in Hinduism specialising as priests, teachers (acharya) and protectors of sacred learning. The other 3 Varnas are Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra.

Brahmin is not and never has been a caste, as there is no caste system in Hinduism, caste system being a Christian concept developed by the racist British for census and conversion purposes. However today a Brahmin only means one who is born of Brahmin parents.

A Brahmin is one in whom Sattva Guna is pre-dominant.

As per the Rig Veda (3000 BC to 1800 BC), the oldest surviving Hindu text, a Brahmin is one who is possessed of Brahma. Brahminhood was defined by function and not by birth. According to Vasishta Dharmasutra, the wealth of a Brahmin is said to be his good actions performed at the proper time and place and also purity.

Panini (400 BC), the greatest grammarian ever explains Brahmin as one who learnt Veda and who studied Veda (Tadadhite Tadveda 4.2.59).

Definition of Brahmin

A Brhamin is a person who is[1]
  • Truthful
  • Conducts himself as an Aryan
  • Teaches his art only to virtuous men
  • Follows rules of ritual purification
  • Studies Vedas with delight
  • Never hurts any living creature
  • Gentle but steadfast
  • Has self-control
  • Kind, liberal towards everyone
A Brahmin is one who is devoted to Brahma.[3]

A Brahmin is a person who possesses such virtues as[4]:
  • yoga
  • penance
  • self-restraint
  • charity
  • knowledge
  • purity
  • education
  • science
  • belief in gods
According to Jainism, one becomes a Brahmin by chastity.

True Brahmin


A True Brahmin is a person who is:[5]
  • possessor of the above mentioned qualities
  • neither good nor bad
  • neirther well-heard nor not well-heard
  • neither knowing any good or bad event
According to Gotama Buddha:
  • a True Brahmin has both good conduct and knowledge[6]
  • a True Brahmin is free from wrath, pride, lust, hate and passions
  • a True Brahmin is spotless, tamed, tolerant, patient, cleansed[7]
According to a Jataka Tale (Kunala Jataka): Just as an ocean is ever thirsty for water, just as a king is always eager for more territory, so too a Brahmin is every thirsty for knowledge. A Brahmin acquires knowledge of Vedas and legendary lore, yet wants more knowledge.

Duties of a Brahmin

The Duties of a Brahmin are as follows.[1][2]
  • It is obligatory on a Brahmin to learn and teach the Vedas.
  • A Brahmin can have six occupations: teaching, studying, offering yajna, officiating at yajna, giving gifts and accepting gifts.
  • A Brahmin ought to sustain himself by following a livelihood that causes little or no harm to creatures.
  • According to Shatapatha Brahmana[10]
    • A Brahmin should be merciful
    • A Brahmin should be kind to all
    • A Brahmin should perform Yajna
    • A Brahmana should give and accept alms
    • A Brahmin should tell the truth
Principles To be Followed by a Practicing Brahmin

A practicing Brahmin must follow the following principles[8]:
  • Acceptance of the Vedas with reverence
  • Recognition of the fact that the means or ways to salvation and realization of the truth are diverse
  • That Truth is one, but has innumerable names and forms to chant and worship due to our varied perceptions, cultures and languages
  • A Brahmin is to work for the welfare of the entire society

Things Forbidden for a Brahmin

  • He must never follow a worldly occupation for the sake of livelihood, but subsist by means of a pure, upright and honest livelihood proper to a Brahmin. 
  • A Brahmin's occupation must never involve forbidden activities such as producing or trading poison, weapons, meat, trapping birds and others. 
Brahmins and Education

In Rig Veda 7.103 also known as Munduka Suktam by Vasishtha Maitravaruni (approx 1600 BCE), the Vedic Brahmin poet gives a beautiful description of the relationship between Brahmins and education [Note 1]. Just as frogs sing in joy in the rainy season, so too the Brahmins sing as they are happy in the rainy season, because this is the time when they are free from their usual routine work and find time for self-study. [9, pp.9]

Notes

Note 1

Rig Veda 7.103 
संवत्सरं शशयाना बराह्मणा वरतचारिणः |
वाचं पर्जन्यजिन्वितां पर मण्डूका अवादिषुः ||
दिव्या आपो अभि यदेनमायन दर्तिं न शुष्कं सरसी शयानम |
गवामह न मायुर्वत्सिनीनां मण्दूकानां वग्नुरत्रा समेति ||
यदीमेनानुशतो अभ्यवर्षीत तर्ष्यावतः पराव्र्ष्यागतायाम |
अख्खलीक्र्त्या पितरं न पुत्रो अन्यो अन्यमुप वदन्तमेति ||
अन्यो अन्यमनु गर्भ्णात्येनोरपां परसर्गे यदमन्दिषाताम |
मण्डूको यदभिव्र्ष्टः कनिष्कन पर्ष्निः सम्प्र्ङकते हरितेन वाचम ||
यदेषामन्यो अन्यस्य वाचं शाक्तस्येव वदति शिक्षमाणः |
सर्वं तदेषां सम्र्धेव पर्व यत सुवाचो वदथनाध्यप्सु ||
गोमायुरेको अजमायुरेकः पर्श्निरेको हरित एक एषाम |
समानं नाम बिभ्रतो विरूपाः पुरुत्रा वाचं पिपिशुर्वदन्तः ||
बराह्मणासो अतिरात्रे न सोमे सरो न पूर्णमभितो वदन्तः |
संवत्सरस्य तदहः परि षठ यन मण्डूकाः पराव्र्षीणं बभूव ||
बराह्मणासः सोमिनो वाचमक्रत बरह्म कर्ण्वन्तः परिवत्सरीणम |
अध्वर्यवो घर्मिणः सिष्विदाना आविर्भवन्ति गुह्या न के चित ||
देवहितिं जुगुपुर्द्वादशस्य रतुं नरो न पर मिनन्त्येते |
संवत्सरे पराव्र्ष्यागतायां तप्ता घर्मा अश्नुवते विसर्गम ||
गोमायुरदादजमायुरदात पर्श्निरदाद धरितो नो वसूनि |
गवां मण्डूका ददतः शतानि सहस्रसावे पर तिरन्त आयुः ||

References

  1. Gautama Dharmasutra
  2. Manusmriti
  3. Brihadaryanaka Upanishad - Br Up 3.5.1, 8.10
  4. Vasishta Dharma Sutra (5.6.23)
  5. Vasishta Dharma Sutra (5.6.44)
  6. Sanyutta
  7. Vinaya Pitaka
  8. http://www.vepachedu.org/manasanskriti/Brahmins.html
  9. Brahmins thorugh the Ages. By Rajendranath Sharma (1977)
  10. Shatpatha Brahmana - 2.2.3.12, 2.3.4.6, 13.1.5.6

7 comments:

  1. How many Brahmins follow what is being said on.
    Defintion of a Brahmin
    True Brahmin
    Duties of a Brahmin
    Things Forbidden for a Brahmin

    If it is followed then the present and past state of affairs in India would be different. They are hiding behind the other caste and instigate them to fight their enemies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Namaste,

      Thank you for the comment. Do you have any evidence to back any of your claims? Kindly note that this is an evidence-backed blog based on empirical research.

      1. Can you show evidence that Brahmins are not following their duties and not abiding by their definition?
      2. Can you prove that Brahmins are hiding behind other caste and instigating them to fight their enemies?

      If you have evidence, do share. Otherwise we shall be rejecting your statement and request you not to make unverifiable claims in the future.

      Regards.

      Delete
    2. I vociferously support ur queries to the 1st person. I am from a very reputed Brahmin family. I have moved all corners of India & found at least 95% of Brahmins maintain ethics eg. Study. Culture Food practice. Non alcoholic. Honesty etc. However few are there who because of their society and profession have changed. But it is a matter of great concern that we are in the waning stage. A social site is necessary for exchanging culture and thoughts. Bhatta.deb333@gmail.com

      Delete
    3. How do you say "95% of Brahmins"? Since currently one is called "Brahmin" by birth, not by which guna is dominant! Most of the "Brahmins by birth" that I have met are more interested in money, lack courage, initiative and any creativity. Their behaviour places them either as Vaishyas or Shudras. That's why (for example) we dont see India at the forefront of world science. The advancement of learning has been taken over by western countries.

      Delete
    4. You do not have to entertain such queries! Hinduism is NOT wahabism where whatever is written in a book has to be strictly followed. Those definitions above are of a 'Good' brahmin, and you DO NOT HAVE TO BE an idea brahmin, be whatever suits you and keep getting better each day with more resolve, be curious to learn more, teach 'the worthy'... and so on.
      Nobody is here to prove how cool a brahmin a person is! The point is to keep educating oneself and to further the knowledge to ones 'who ask the right questions'. Times are changing and most of us need to first survive. Once we get a hold of it, we can find time to learn sanskrit, learning is what we are good at, right! :)

      Delete
  2. Where can I find details on this "Conducts himself as an Aryan" ?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you so much for creating and maintaining this page. I am born to an engineer, I am an engineer myself, and hope to stay consistent with teaching myself.
    Please mention the correct sources always so as the point put across here are credible to those who do not belong to brahmin families. Also, let me know if there is something I could do to keep the portal alive, authentic, and strong.

    ReplyDelete