HINDU ENCYCLOPEDIA

सनातन धर्म भूमिका

Meaning of "Brahmin"

Word

Brahmin

Sanskrit

ब्राह्मण hi

IAST

brāhmaṇa

In General

Brahmin’s are the first of the four Varnas, the other three being Ksatriya, Vysya and Sudra. Their duty is to teach the society and promote moral order and good behavior. Eating meat or drinking intoxicating drinks is strictly forbidden for a Brahmin.

The high status of Brahmins’ in ancient society shows the respect they shown to the knowledge community. The rulers always took advice from the aristocratic guild formed by custom and never dared to disobey them.

Rigid compartmentalization of society into four castes according to birth was a very late development in Hindu society. B.G. Says the four casts is created by the Lord Himself according to the qualities and duty (guna karma) of each person and address Arjuna as Brahmana and Ksatriya according to the circumstances. The common feature in Veda , Purana and Darmasastra is against birth depended cast system. But there are verses in great texts which gives lot of privileges to Brahmins and prejudices against lower classes, especially Sudras. So, we can only say, those stray verses can be either interpolated or unfortunate references and thus we should not consider them as authentic or worth to follow.

The qualities of a Brahmin according to B.G. (18.42): Serenity, self-control, austerity, purity, forbearance and uprightness, wisdom, knowledge and faith in religion, these are the duties of the Brahmin, born of his nature

Veda

During the Vedic period the four castes were recognized, but hierarchy was not established. The R.V. says the knowledge in Veda should be spread to all human kind without any reservation. The Purushasuktam says the Brahmana was created from the face of the Purusha, Ksatriyas (Rajanyam) from the hands, Vysya from the body and Sudra from the legs.

Atherva Veda says a king assume his office only if he is capable and aristocratic group have faith in him and they can replace him with a new eligible person of their choice.

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