By rigid precedence the Brahmans occupy the first rank; they are numerous and influential, and with them may be classed the peculiar and important caste of Bhats, the keepers of secular tradition and of the genealogies.
They were absolute monarchies, but the power of the king was tempered by the extraordinary influence possessed by the hereditary sacerdotal class or Brahmans.
In general terms the Mahrattas, in the wider sense, may be described under two main heads: first the Brahmans, and secondly the low-caste men.
The Mahratta Brahmans possess, in an intense degree, the qualities of that famous caste, physical, intellectual and moral.
In modern times they have proved themselves the most able and ambitious of all the Brahmans in the Indian Empire.
For instance, the peshwas, or heads of the Mahratta confederation which at one time dominated nearly all India, were Konkanast Brahmans.
Apart from the Brahmans, the Mahrattas may be generally designated as Sudras, the humblest of the four great castes into which the Hindu race is theoretically divided.
They are sincerely devout in religion, and feel an awe regarding "the holy Brahmans," holding the life and the person of a Brahman sacred, even though he be a criminal of the deepest dye.
Apart from the Mahratta Brahmans, as already mentioned, the Mahratta nobles and princes are not generally fine-looking men.
Sivaji and his fighting officers were Mahrattas of humble caste, but his ministers were Brahmans.
The peshwas, on the other hand, as Brahmans, were men of the highest education then possible in India.
Benares, having from time immemorial been a holy city, contains a vast number of Brahmans, who either subsist by charitable contributions, or are supported by endowments in the numerous religious institutions of the city.
As in the rest of Indo-China, there is no hereditary nobility, but there exist castes founded on blood relationship - the members of the royal family within the fifth degree (the Brah-Vansa) those beyond the fifth degree (BrahVan), and the Bakou, who, as descendants of the ancient Brahmans, exercise certain official functions at the court.
Although Pell had nothing to do with the solution, posterity has termed the equation Pell's Equation, or Problem, when more rightly it should be the Hindu Problem, in recognition of the mathematical attainments of the Brahmans.
Although this transition from the discontinuous to continuous is not truly scientific, yet it materially augmented the development of algebra, and Hankel affirms that if we define algebra as the application of arithmetical operations to both rational and irrational numbers or magnitudes, then the Brahmans are the real inventors of algebra.
Buddha lived in the centre of Hindu India and among the many gods of the Brahmans.
It is a celebrated place of Hindu superstition, the favourite residence of the Brahmans of Nepal, and contains more families of that order than either Khatmandu or Patan.
132), and the Iranian priests (athravans, later Magi) claimed, like the Brahmans, to be the highest order of society; but a variety of conditions were lacking to give them the full place of their Indian brethren.
The population is composed of many elements, among which Brahmans and Rajputs are specially numerous.
The village is small, containing only twenty or thirty huts, in which reside the Brahmans and the attendants of the temple.
How far southward this dominion at first extended is not known; but in 703 Nepal and the country of the Brahmans rebelled, and the Tibetan king, the third successor of Srong tsan gam-po, was killed while attempting to restore his power.
The bed of the river adjoining the temple is divided off by the Brahmans into three basins, where the pilgrims bathe.
From the earliest times the caste of Brahmans has preserved, by oral tradition as well as in MSS., a literature unrivalled alike in its antiquity and in the intellectual subtlety of its contents.
The burning of widows on their husbands' funeral-pile was unknown, and the verses in the Veda which the Brahmans afterwards distorted into a sanction for the practice have the very opposite meaning.
In those early days the Aryan tribes were divided into four social grades on a basis of colour: the Kshatriyas or nobles, who claimed descent from the early leaders; the Brahmans or sacrificing priests; the Vaisyas, the peasantry; and last of all the Sudras, the hewers of wood and drawers of water, of non-Aryan descent.
They shall mix equally with Brahmans and beggars, with the 1 The historicity of this convention, not now usually admitted by scholars, is maintained by Bishop Copleston of Calcutta in his I Buddhism, Primitive and Present (1908).
The philosophers were the Brahmans, and the prescribed stages of their life are indicated.
Megasthenes draws a distinction between the Brahmans (Bpaxµ.aves) and the Sarmanae (Iap,u6.pat), from which some scholars have inferred that the Buddhist Sarmanas were a recognized class fifty years before the council of Asoka.
But the Sarmanae also include Brahmans in the first and third stages of their life as students and forest recluses.
Husbandry depended on the periodical rains; and forecasts of the weather, with a view to " make adequate provision against a coming deficiency," formed a special duty of the Brahmans.
But in India the bravery of the Rajputs and the devotion of the Brahmans seem to have afforded a stronger national bulwark than existed in western Europe.
It is reported that Mahmud marched through Ajmere to avoid the desert of Sind; that he found the Hindus gathered on the neck of the peninsula of Somnath in defence of their holy city; that the battle lasted for two days; that in the end the Rajput warriors fled to their boats, while the Brahman priests retired into the inmost shrine; that Mahmud, introduced into this shrine, rejected all entreaties by the Brahmans to spare their idol, and all offers of ransom; that he smote the image with his club, and forthwith a fountain of precious stones gushed out.
Bengalis, whether Brahmans or of other castes, frequently go bareheaded.
In India, in Behar, during August there is a colourless festival in which women, " wives of the snake," go round begging on behalf of the Brahmans and the villages (Crooke ii.
2 It is a significant fact that, whilst in the worship of Siva and Vishnu, at which no animal sacrifices are offered, the officiating priests are almost invariably Brahmans, this is practically never the case at the popular performance of those "gloomy and weird rites for the propitiation of angry deities, or the driving away of evil spirits, when the pujaris (or ministrants) are drawn from all other castes, even from the Pariahs, the out-caste section of Indian society."
Whilst community of occupation was an important factor in the original formation of non-tribal castes, the practical exigencies of life have led to considerable laxity in this respect - not least so in the case of Brahmans who have often had to take to callings which would seem altogether incompatible with the proper spiritual functions of their caste.
Thus," the prejudice against eating cooked food that has been touched by a man of an inferior caste is so strong that, although the Shastras do not prohibit the eating of food cooked by a Kshatriya or Vaisya, yet the Brahmans, in most parts of the country, would not eat such food.
The term is used in Bombay, Madras and Bengal to denote a considerable number of castes of moderate respectability, the higher of whom are considered ` clean ' Sudras, while the precise status of the lower is a question which lends itself to endless controversy."In northern and north-western India, on the other hand," the grade next below the twice-born rank is occupied by a number of castes from whose hands Brahmans and members of the higher castes will take water and certain kinds of sweetmeats.
In western and southern India the idea that the social state of a caste depends on whether Brahmans will take water and sweetmeats from its members is unknown, for the higher castes will as a rule take water only from persons of their own caste and sub-caste.
On the other hand, the pride of the Brahmans is such that they do not bow to even the images of the gods worshipped in a Sudra's house by Brahman priests "(Jog.
There are, however, not a few classes of Brahmans who, for various reasons, have become degraded from their high station, and formed separate castes with whom respectable Brahmans refuse to intermarry and consort.
Chief amongst these are the Brahmans who minister for" unclean "Sudras and lower castes, including the makers and dealers in spirituous liquors; as well as those who officiate at the great public shrines or places of pilgrimage where they might be liable to accept forbidden gifts, and, as a matter of fact, often amass considerable wealth; and those who officiate as paid priests at cremations and funeral rites, when the wearing apparel and bedding of the deceased are not unfrequently claimed by them as their perquisites.
But though the Brahmans, too, will often acquiesce in the reasonableness of such claims, it is probably only as a matter of policy that they do so, whilst in reality they regard the other two higher castes as having long since disappeared and been merged by miscegenation in the Sudra mass.
Though himself, like most Brahmans, apparently by predilection a follower of Siva, his aim was the revival of the doctrine of the Brahma as the one self-existent Being and the sole cause of the universe; coupled with the recognition of the practical worship of the orthodox pantheon, especially the gods of the Trimurti, as manifestations of the supreme deity.
adherents of the smriti or tradition, which has a numerous following amongst southern Brahmans, and, whilst professing Sankara's doctrines, is usually classed as one of the Saiva sects, its members adopting the horizontal sectarial mark peculiar to Saivas, consisting in their case of a triple line, the tripundra, prepared from the ashes of burnt cow-dung and painted on the forehead.
Sankara also founded four Maths, or convents, for Brahmans; the chief one being that of Sringeri in Mysore, the spiritual head (Guru) of which wields considerable power, even that of excommunication, over the Saivas of southern India.
In northern India, the professed followers of Sankara are mainly limited to certain classes of mendicants and ascetics, although the tenets of this great Vedanta teacher may be said virtually to constitute the creed of intelligent Brahmans generally.
Not that there is any evidence of Buddhists ever having been actually persecuted by the Brahmans, or still less of Sankara himself ever having done so; but the traditional belief in some personal god, as the principal representative of an invisible, all-pervading deity, would doubtless appeal more directly to the minds and hearts of the people than the colourless ethical system promulgated by the Sakya saint.
Siva has at all times been the favourite god of the Brahmans,' and his worship is accordingly more widely extended than that of his rival, especially in southern India.
Natesa (Hindu Feasts, Fasts and Ceremonies)," the several forms of the god Siva in these sacred shrines are considered to be the bodies or casements of the soul whose ' Siva is said to have first appeared in the beginning of the present age as Sveta, the White, for the purpose of benefiting the Brahmans, and he is invariably painted white; whilst Vishnu, when pictured, is always of a dark-blue colour.
Vishnu, whilst less popular with Brahmans than his rival, has from early times proved to the lay mind a more attractive object of adoration on account of the genial and, so to speak, romantic character of his mythical personality.
Whilst the Saiva philosophers do not approve of the notion of incarnations, as being derogatory to the dignity of the deity, the Brahmans have nevertheless thought fit to adopt it as apparently a convenient expedient for bringing certain tendencies of popular worship within the pale of their system, and probably also for counteracting the Buddhist doctrines; and for this purpose Vishnu would obviously offer himself as the most attractive figure in the Brahmanical trinity.
The Ramanuja Brahmans are most punctilious in the preparation of their food and in regard to the privacy of their meals, before taking which they have to bathe and put on woollen or silk garments.
Thus, the founder's twelve chief disciples include, besides Brahmans, a weaver, a currier, a Rajput, a Jat and a barber - for, they argue, seeing that Bhagavan, the Holy One (Vishnu), became incarnate even in animal form, a Bhakta (believer) may be born even in the lowest of castes.
Terminating as it usually does with the feeding and feeing of a greater or less number of Brahmans and the feasting of members of the performers' own caste, the Sraddha, especially its first performance, is often a matter of very considerable expense; and more than ordinary benefit to the deceased is supposed to accrue from it when it takes place at a spot of recognized sanctity, such as one of the great places of pilgrimage like Prayaga (Allahabad, where the three sacred rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and Sarasvati, meet), Mathura, and especially Gaya and Kasi (Benares).
C. Oman, Indian Life, Religious and Social (London, 1879); The Mystics, Ascetics and Saints of India (London, 1903); The Brahmans, Theists and Muslims of India (London, 1907); S.
Akbar (1542-1605) gathered Brahmans and Zoroastrians, Jews, Christians and Mahommedans at his court, and endeavoured to get translations of their scriptures.
Hindus (Sikhs, Gurkhas, Rajputs, Jats, Dogras, Mahrattas, Tamils, Brahmans, Bhils, Garhwalis, &c.), 727 companies, 79 squadrons (6 3.3%).
The Parsis adore fire as the visible expression of Ahura-Mazda, the eternal principle of light and righteousness; the Brahmans worship it as divine and omniscient.'
Bourquin, " Brahmakarma, ou rites sacres des Brahmans," in the Annales du Musee Guimet (Paris, 1884, t.
In the form of rao it appears as a suffix to the names of most Mahrattas, and to the names of Kanarese Brahmans.
Thus the Brahmans were offended at the prohibition of suttee and female infanticide, the execution of Brahmans for capital offences, the re-marriage of widows, the spread of missionary effort and the extension of Western education.
These views naturally met with scanty acceptance among the Brahmans to whom he introduced them, and Dayanand turned to the masses and established Samajes in various parts of India, the first being at Bombay in 1875.
The chiefs are Brahmans.
Later still the settlement of Brahmans along the west coast had already Aryanized the country in religion, and to some extent in language, before the Persian conquest of the Indus valley at the close of the 6th century B.C. The Persian dominion did not long survive; and the march of Alexander the Great down the Indus paved the way for Chandragupta and the Maurya, empire.
He travelled through Asia and visited Nineveh, Babylon and India, imbibing the oriental mysticism of magi, Brahmans and gymnosophists.
But when Buddhism, whose widely open doors had absorbed the mass of the community, became thereby corrupted from its pristine purity and gradually died away, the smaller school of the Jains, less diametrically opposed to the victorious orthodox creed of the Brahmans, survived, and in some degree took its place.
In the same way " the Minas, a non-Aryan tribe of Rajputana, used to worship the pig; when the Brahmans got a turn at them, the pig became an avatar of Vishnu " (Lyall, Asiatic Studies).
They do not keep the Hindu festivals and they defy the contempt of the Brahmans.
Tulsi, as a Smarta Vaishnava and a Brahman, venerates the whole Hindu pantheon, and is especially careful to give Siva or Mahadeva, the special deity of the Brahmans, his due, and to point out that there is no inconsistency between devotion to Rama and attachment to Siva (Ramayan, Lankakand, Doha 3).
But the practical end of all his writings is to inculcate bhakti addressed to Rama as the great means of salvation - emancipation from the chain of births and deaths - a salvation which is as free and open to men of the lowest caste as to Brahmans.
The most influential classes of the community are Brahmans and Lingayats.
Among Asiatic points of resemblance to which attention has since been called is the Mexican belief in the nine stages of heaven and hell, an idea which nothing in nature would suggest directly to a barbaric people, but which corresponds to the idea of successive heavens and hells among Brahmans and Buddhists, who apparently learnt it (in common with our own ancestors) from the Babylonian-Greek astronomical theory of successive stages or concentric planetary spheres belonging to the planets, &c. The Spanish chronicles also give accounts of a Mexican game called patolli, played at the time of the conquest with coloured stones moved on the squares of a cross-shaped figure, according to the throws of beans marked on one side; the descriptions of this rather complicated game correspond closely with the Hindu backgammon called pachisi (see Tylor in Jour.
Indeed, according to a recent account by a close observer of the religious practices prevalent in southern India, fully four-fifths of the people of the Dravidian race, whilst nominally acknowledging the spiritual guidance of the Brahmans, are to this day practically given over to the worship of their nondescript local village deities (grama-devata), usually attended by animal sacrifices frequently involving the slaughter, under revolting circumstances, of thousands of victims. Curiously enough these local deities are nearly all of the female, not the male sex.
The scale of social precedence as recognized by native public opinion is concisely reviewed (ib.) as revealing itself" in the facts that particular castes are supposed to be modern representatives of one or other of the original castes of the theoretical Hindu system; that Brahmans will take water from certain castes; that Brahmans of high standing will serve particular castes; that certain castes, though not served by the best Brahmans, have nevertheless got Brahmans of their own whose rank varies according to circumstances; that certain castes are not served by Brahmans at all but have priests of their own; that the status of certain castes has been raised by their taking to infant-marriage or abandoning the remarriage of widows; that the status of others has been modified by their pursuing some occupations in a special or peculiar way; that some can claim the services of the village barber, the village palanquin-bearer, the village midwife, &c., while others cannot; that some castes may not enter the courtyards of certain temples; that some castes are subject to special taboos, such as that they must not use the village well, or may draw water only with their own vessels, that they must live outside the village or in a separate quarter, that they must leave the road on the approach of a highcaste man and must call out to give warning of their approach."
Though the Lingayats still show a certain animosity towards the Brahmans, and in the Census lists are accordingly classes as an independent group beside the Hindus, still they can hardly be excluded from the Hindu community, and are sure sooner or _later to find their -way back to the Brahmanical fold.
4 The Brahmans themselves on the eleventh day after the full moon and the eleventh day after the new " abstain for sixty hours from every kind of sustenance "; and some have a special fast every Monday in November.
The word usage examples above have been gathered from various sources to reflect current and historial usage. They do not represent the opinions of YourDictionary.com.