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Brahmins (also Brahmans) have historically been a caste (one of the four s) in India. They are traditionally scholars, teachers and priests in Hinduism.The words Vipra "learned", or Dvija "twice-born". are used synonymously with the word 'Brahmin'.

Brahmins enjoyed significant prestige in the medieval times and in modern India until the 19th century. except in some states such as Rajasthan and Gujarat where they were challenged by the Charans in terms of power and the glory, especially from 1000 A.D. onwards when most of the villages in these states belong to either Rajputs or Charans. Caste politics in modern Indiamarker treat brahmins as a forward caste, and some brahmins have complained about the reverse discrimination granted to the backward castes.The Government of India maintains an official list of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, but not of forward castes, so that the status of brahmin is not officially recognized and does not appear in the Indian census. Nevertheless, a rigid system of Brahmin communities divided into gotras remains in force de facto in Hindu society.

The English noun brahman is ultimately derived from the Sanskrit , an adjective meaning "pertaining to ". The form brahmin is a corruption of vernacular pronunciations; while in wide popular use, the more correct brahman, also written brâhman or is employed in scholarly contexts and by most writers on India. Older English spellings like brachmans, brachmins are influenced by Greek , Latin (OED).

Communities

The Brahmin castes may be broadly divided into two regional groups: Pancha-Gauda Brahmins and Pancha-Dravida Brahmins as per the shloka, however this shloka is from Rajatarangini of Kalhana which was composed only in 11th CE and many communities find their traces from sages mentioned in much older Vedas and puranas.

Translation: Dravida (Tamil,Kerala,Karnataka and Andhra), Maharashtra and Gujarat are Five Southern (Panch Dravida). Saraswata, Kanyakubjamarker, Gauda, Utkala (Orissa), Maithili are Five Northern (Pancha Gauda). This classification occurs in Rajatarangini of Kalhana and is mentioned by Jogendra Nath Bhattacharya in "Hindu Castes and Sects."

Pancha Gauda Brahmins

Pancha Gauda (the five classes of Northern India): (1) Saraswat, (2) Kanyakubjamarker, (3) Maithil Brahmins, (4) Gauda brahmins (including Sanadhyas), and (5) Utkala Brahmins. In addition, for the purpose of giving an account of Northern Brahmins each of the provinces must be considered separately, such as Kashmirmarker, Uttarakhandmarker, Himachalmarker, Kurukshetramarker, Rajputana, Uttar Pradeshmarker, and Ayodhyamarker (Oudh); in Nepal such as Terai and Hilly Region; in modern Pakistani regions such as Punjab, Sindhmarker, and the North-West Frontier Provincemarker; and Central India, Trihoot, Biharmarker, Orissamarker, Bengalmarker, Assammarker, etc. They originate from south of the (now-extinct) Saraswati River.

In Biharmarker, the majority of Brahmins are Saryuparin Brahmins and Maithil Brahmins with a significant population of Sakaldiwiya or Shakdwipi Brahmins.s. Therefore, there is a lot of brotherhood among these Brahmin sub-castes as Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi and Dr. Hazari Prasad Dwivedi have mentioned in their writings.

With the decline of Mughal Empire, in the area of south of Avadh, in the fertile rive-rain rice growing areas of Benaresmarker, Gorakhpurmarker, Deoriamarker, Ghazipurmarker, Balliamarker, Biharmarker, and on the fringes of Bengalmarker, it was the 'military' or Bhumihar Brahmins who strengthened their sway.

In Gujaratmarker, the Brahmin are classified in mainly Nagar Brahmin, Unewal Brahmin, Khedaval Brahmin, Aavdhich Brahmin, and Shrimali Brahmins.

In Haryanamarker, the Brahmin are classified in mainly Dadhich_Brahmin, Gaud Brahmin, and Khandelwal Brahmin. But a large proportion (about 90%) of Brahmin in Haryana are adi Gaur. Approximately all Brahmin in west UP and Delhi are adi Gaur.

In Madhya Pradeshmarker, the Brahmins are classified in mainly Shri Gaud, Sanadhya brahmin, and Gujar-Gaud Brahmins. The majority of Shri Gaud Brahmins are found in the Malwa region (Indoremarker, Ujjainmarker, and Dewasmarker). The eastern MP has a dense population of Sarayuparain Brahmins. Hoshangabad and Harda Distt. of MP have a considerable population of Naremdev Brahmins.

In Nepalmarker, the hill Brahmins are classified in mainly Upadhaya Brahmin, Jaisi Brahmin, and Kumain Brahmins. Jaisi Brahmins are supposed to have settled in Nepal long before the other two groups. The majority of hill Brahmins are supposed to be of Khasa origin. In central Nepal within the Newar nationality there is a small but powerful presence of the Hindu varnasram society. Both Pancha Dravid and Pancha Gaud Brahmins can be traced in this society. Rajopadhyayas, such as Subedi, Rimal, Bhatta, Acharyas, and a few Maithali Brahmins such as Jha and Misra are some of the caste in the Brahman community. In Southern part of Nepal there is a heavy presence of Maithali Brahmins.

In Punjabmarker, they are classified as Saraswat Brahmins.

In Karnatakamarker, Brahmins are mainly classified into Havyaka speaking Havigannada, Babbur Kamme, Hoysala Karnataka speaking Kannada, Shivalli and Kota speaking Tulu, and Karahada speaking Marathi. Each have their own tradition and culture.

Utkala Brahmins, also known as Oriya or Orissamarker Brahmins, are a Jati (caste) who live mainly in the Indian state of Orissa & neighbouring states of Chhatishgarh, Northern Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Jharkhand. They constitute farthest branch of the Panch-Gauda in the east, south of Maithila (present day Bihar). Utkala Brahmins are mainly classified into Utkala Kulina Brahmins, Utkala Aranyaka Brahmins, Utkala Halua Brahmins, and Utkala Panda Brahmins.

In Rajasthanmarker, the Brahmins are classified in mainly Shrimali Brahmins,Kundia Sarswat, Dadhich Brahmin, Gaur Brahmin, Sanadhya brahmins, Rajpurohit/Purohit Brahmins, Sri Gaur Brahmin, Khandelwal Brahmin, Gujar-Gaur Brahmins. Rajpurohit/Purohit and Pushtikar or Pushkarna Brahmins. Brahmins are mainly found in the Marwar and Godwad regions of Rajasthanmarker. Shakdwipiya Brahmins are also found at many places in Rajasthan. They are the major Pujari (priests) in many temples of Western Rajasthan.

In Sindhmarker, the Saraswat Brahmins from Nasarpur of the Sindh province are called Nasarpuri Sindh Saraswat Brahmin. During the India and Pakistan partition, they migrated to India from the Sindh province.

In Uttar Pradeshmarker, listing from west to east: Gaur and Tyagi (western UP), Kanyakubja (Central UP), Sarayuparin (Central Uttar Pradesh, Eastern, NE, and SE UP) and Maithil (Varanasi).

In West Bengalmarker the Brahmins are classified in Barendra and Rarhi corresponding to the ancient Barendrabhumi (North Bengal) and Rarhdesh (South Bengal), making present day Bangladesh and West Bengal. It is also said that Barendras are traditional Brahmins who practiced the art of medicinal science and surgury rather than the traditional function of being the teacher or the priest, and so many a times they are not considered true brahmins by the Rarhis, although they are their own offshoots.

The traditional accounts of the origin of Bengali Brahmins are given in texts termed Kulagranthas (e.g., Kuladīpīkā), composed around the 17th century. They mention a ruler named Ādiśūra who invited five Brahmins from Kanyakubja [7], so that he could conduct a yajña, because he could not find Vedic experts locally. Traditional texts mention that Ādiśūra was ancestor of Ballāl Sena from the maternal side and five Brahmins had been invited in AD 1077.

Historians have located a ruler named Ādiśūra ruling in north Bihar, but not in Bengal. But Ballāl Sena and his predecessors ruled over both Bengal and Mithila (i.e., North Bihar). It is unlikely that the Brahmins from Kānyakubja may have been invited to Mithila for performing a yajña, because Mithila was a strong base of Brahmins since Vedic age.

Another account mentions a king Shyamal Varma who invited five Brahmins from Kānyakubja who became the progenitors of the Vaidika Brahmins. A third account refers to five Brahmins being the ancestors of Vārendra Brahmins as well. From similarity of titles (e.g., upādhyāya), the first account is most probable.

Besides these two major community there are also Utkal Brahmins, having migrated from present Orissa and Vaidik Brahmins, having migrated from Western and Northern India.

Pancha Dravida Brahmins

Panch Dravida (the five classes of Southern India): 1) Andhra, 2) Dravida (Tamil and Kerala), 3) Karnataka, 4) Maharashtra and Konkon, and 5) Gujarat. They originate from north of the (now-extinct) Saraswati River.

In Andhra Pradeshmarker, Brahmins are broadly classified into 3 groups: Vaidika (meaning educated in vedas and performing religious vocations), Niyogi (performing only secular vocations) and Dravidlu (In the Coastal Andhra Pradesh). They are further divided into several sub-castes. However, the majority of the Brahmins, both Vaidika and Niyogi, perform only secular professions.

In Karnatakamarker, Brahmins are broadly classified into 4 groups: Madhwa (followers of Shri Madhwacharya), Smartha and Iyer (followers of Shri Adi Sankaracharya), and Iyengars (followers of Ramanuja's vishiShTAdvaita). They are further divided into several sub-castes. Important among them are Halenadu Karnataka Brahmin, Hoysala Karnataka Brahmin, Babboru Kamme brahmins, Uluchu Kamme brahmins, Badagunadu Brahmins and Sankethi Brahmins. Besides these groups, there are other brahmin communities such as, Havyaka, Kota, Shivalli, Saraswata, etc.

In Keralamarker, Brahmins are classified into three groups: Namboothiri, Potti,Ezhavathy and Pushpaka. The major priestly activities are performed by Namboothiris while the other temple related activities known as Kazhakam are performed by Pushpaka Brahmins and other Ampalavasis. Sri Adi Shankara was born in Kaladymarker, a village in Keralamarker, to a Namboothiri Brahmin couple, Shivaguru and Aryamba, and lived for thirty-two years. The Namboothiri Brahmins, Potti Brahmins and Pushpaka Brahmins in Kerala follow the Philosophies of Sri Adi Sankaracharya. Nagariks are the common name for north Indian immigrant brahmins The Brahmins who migrated to Kerala from Tamil Nadu are known as Pattar in Kerala. They possess almost same status of Potti Brahmins in Kerala.

In Tamil Nadumarker, Brahmins belong to two major groups: Iyer and Iyengar. Iyers comprise of Smartha and Saivite Brahmins and are broadly classified into Ashtasahasram, Vadamal, Brahatcharnam, vathimal, Sholiyar, and Gurukkal. This is segregated according to the hierarchy. There are mostly followers of Adi Shankaracharya which form about three-fourths of Tamil Nadu's Brahmin population. Iyengars comprise of Vaishnavite Brahmins and are divided into two sects: Vadakalai and Thenkalai. They are mostly followers of Ramanuja and make up the remaining one-fourth of the Tamil Brahmin population.

In Maharashtramarker, Brahmins are classified into five groups: Chitpavan Konkanastha Brahmins, Gaud Saraswat Brahmin, Deshastha Brahmin, Karhade Brahmin, and Devrukhe. As the name indicates, Konkanastha Brahmin are from Konkan area. Gaud Saraswat Brahmins are from Konkan region or they may come from Goamarker or Karnatakamarker, Deshastha Brahmin are from plains of Maharashtra, Karhade Brahmins are perhaps from Karhatak (an ancient region in India that included present day south Maharashtra and northern Karnataka) and Devrukhe Brahmins are from Devrukh near Ratnagirimarker.

In Madhya Pradeshmarker the descendents of Somnath templemarker priests, Naramdev Brahmin, who migrated from Gujrat to Madhyapradesh after the Mohd. Ghazni notorious forays in saurashtra and desacration of Somnathmarker, and sedenterized along the coast of Narmada rivermarker hence derived their name, i.e., Narmdiya brahmin or Naramdevs. Guru of Adi guru Shankaracharya, shri Govindacharya claimed to belong to this community who initiated him in the Omkareshwar in the bank of the river Narmada. Naramdevs are in high concentration in Nimar (Khandwamarker and Khargonemarker) and the Bhuvana region (Hardamarker) of Madhyapradesh.

In Gujaratmarker, Brahmins are classified into eight groups: Anavil Brahmin, Audichya Brahmins, Bardai Brahmins, Girinarayan Brahmins, Khedaval, Nagar Brahmins, Shrimali Brahmins, Sidhra-Rudhra Brahmins and Modh Brahmins. The Modh Brahmins worship Matangi Modheshwari mata (Modhera) and are mostly found in North Gujarat and in the Barodamarker region.

Gotras and pravaras

In general, gotra denotes any person who traces descent in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor. Panini defines gotra for grammatical purposes as ' apatyam pautraprabhrti gotram' (IV. 1. 162), which means 'the word gotra denotes the progeny (of a sage) beginning with the son's son. When a person says ' I am Kashypasa-gotra' he means that he traces his descent from the ancient sage Kashyapa by unbroken male descent. According to the Baudhâyanas'rauta-sûtra Viśvāmitra, Jamadagni, Bharadvâja, Gautama, Atri or Krisnatriya, Vasishtha, Kashyapa and Agastya are 8 sages; the progeny of these eight sages is declared to be gotras. This enumeration of eight primary gotras seems to have been known to Pānini. These gotras are not directly connected to Prajapathy or latter Brahma. The offspring (apatya) of these eight are gotras and others than these are called ' gotrâvayava '.

The gotras are arranged in groups, e. g. there are according to the Âsvalâyana-srautasûtra four subdivisions of the Vasishtha gana, viz. Upamanyu, Parāshara, Kundina and Vasishtha (other than the first three). Each of these four again has numerous sub-sections, each being called gotra. So the arrangement is first into ganas, then into pakshas, then into individual gotras. The first has survived in the Bhrigu and Āngirasa gana. According to Baudh., the principal eight gotras were divided into pakshas. The pravara of Upamanyu is Vasishtha, Bharadvasu, Indrapramada; the pravara of the Parâshara gotra is Vasishtha, Shâktya, Pârâsharya; the pravara of the Kundina gotra is Vasishtha, Maitrâvaruna, Kaundinya and the pravara of Vasishthas other than these three is simply Vasishtha. It is therefore that some define pravara as the group of sages that distinguishes the founder (lit. the starter) of one gotra from another.

There are two kinds of pravaras, 1) sishya-prasishya-rishi-parampara, and 2) putrparampara. Gotrapravaras can be ekarsheya, dwarsheya, triarsheya, pancharsheya, saptarsheya, and up to 19 rishis. Kashyapasa gotra has at least two distinct pravaras in Andhra Pradesh: one with three sages (triarsheya pravara) and the other with seven sages (saptarsheya pravara). This pravara may be either sishya-prasishya-rishi-parampara or putraparampara. When it is sishya-prasishya-rishi-parampara marriage is not acceptable if half or more than half of the rishis are same in both bride and bridegroom gotras. If it is putraparampara, marriage is totally unacceptable even if one rishi matches.

Role in society

According to the Manusmriti, a Brahmin unable to live by the code of his caste may take to the profession of the castes below him—kshatriyas and vaishyas—but with certain restrictions, such as against the spilling of blood and the sale of certain commodities.

In addition to their role of priests, ministers, lawyers and scholars, Brahmins have occasionally taken on the mantle of kings as well. An example of a dynasty founded by a Brahmin is the Kadamba dynasty, which was founded by Mayurasarman, later known as Mayuravarman.

Brahmins have also been instrumental in the foundation of empires. For example, Chanakya, also known as Kautilya, helped Chandragupta Maurya overthrow the Nanda dynasty and found the Mauryan Empire. The Peshwas were Brahmin ministers of the Maratha kings, but later replaced their masters by becoming the kings themselves.

Brahmins with the qualities of Kshatriyas are known as 'Brahmakshatriyas'. An example is the avatara Parshurama who destroyed the entire Haiheyas 21 times. Not only did Sage Parashurama have warrior skills, but he was so powerful that he could fight without the use of any weapons and he also trained others to do so. The Bhumihar Brahmin were established when Parashurama destroyed the Kshatriya race. He set up in their place the descendants of Brahmins, who, after a time, having mostly abandoned their priestly functions (although some still performed them), took to owning land.

Today there is a caste, Brahmakhatris, who are a clan of the Khatris.

The word Brahma-kshatriya might refer to a person belonging to the heritage of both castes. However, among the Royal Rajput households, brahmins who became the personal teachers and protectors of the Royal princes rose to the status of Rajpurohit and taught the princes everything including martial arts. They would also become the keepers of the Royal lineage and its history. They would also be the protectors of the throne in case the ruler was an orphan and a minor.

Kshatriyan Brahmin is a term associated with people of both caste's components.

The Pallavas were an example of Brahmakshatriyas as that is what they called themselves. King Lalitaditya Muktapida of Kashmirmarker ruled all of India and even Central Asia.

King Rudravarma of Champa of 657 A.D. was the son of a Brahmin father.

King Jayavarma I of Kambuja (Kampuchea) of 781 A.D. was a Brahma-kshatriya.

People of mixed Brahmin and Vaisya descent are known as 'Brahmavaisya'. The Ambastha caste, who exist in places like South India and Bengal, are held to be of such a mixed descent. They perform medical work - they have from ancient times practiced the Ayurveda and have been Vaidyas (or doctors).

Many Pallis of South India claim to be Brahmins (while others claim to be Agnikula Kshatriyas.) Kulaman Pallis are nicknamed by outsiders as Kulaman Brahmans.Hemu from Rewari ,Haryana was also a Brahmin by birth.

Religion

Due to the diversity in religious and cultural traditions and practices, and the Vedic schools which they belong to, Brahmins are further divided into various subcastes. During the later Vedic period and until the rise of Buddhism in India, roughly between 800 BCE to 300 BCE, the Vedic traditions became divided into various shakhas (branches), based on the adoption of different Vedas and different recension Vedas. Sects for different denominations of the same branch of the Vedas were formed, under the leadership of distinguished teachers among Brahmins.

There are several Brahmin law givers such as Angirasa, Apasthambha, Atri (also sometimes more realized as Krishnatriya), Brihaspati, Boudhayana, Daksha, Gautam, Harita, Katyayana, Likhita, Manu, Parasara, Samvarta, Shankha, Shatatapa, Ushanasa, Vashishta, Vishnu, Vyasa, Yajnavalkya and Yama. These twenty-one rishis were the propounders of Smritis. The oldest among these smritis are Apastamba, Baudhayana, Gautama, and Vasishta Sutras.

Practices



Brahmins, Vedic priests, adhere to the principles of Brahmanism, Sanatana Dharma, and can be found in any of the different religions of Hinduism, such as acceptance of the Vedas. have six occupational duties, of which three are compulsory — namely, studying the Vedas, worshiping the Deity and giving charity. By teaching, by inducing others to worship the Deity, and by accepting gifts, the receive the necessities of life. This is also confirmed in the :



Of the six occupational duties of the , three are compulsory — namely, worship of the Deity, study of the Vedas and the giving of charity. In exchange, a brāhmaṇa should receive charity, and this should be his means of livelihood. A cannot take up any professional occupational duty for his livelihood. The especially stress that if one claims to be a . Brahmins believe in — Let the entire society be happy and prosperous and — the whole world is one family. Many Brahmins are reformers. Most Brahmins today practice vegetarianism or lacto-vegetarianism. There are some Brahmins who are non-vegetarians, mainly the Brahmins of cold mountain areas like Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Nepal, and coastal areas like Bengal and the Konkan, who are fish eaters. However, even the meat eating Brahmins shun beef.

Sampradayas

The three sampradayas (traditions) of Brahmins, especially in South India are the Smarta sampradaya, the Srivaishnava sampradaya and the Madhva sampradaya.

Vaishnavism

Srivaishnava sampradaya and the Madhva sampradaya are the two major Vaishnavite sects. From these two were influenced several other Vaishnavite sects such as the Ramananda Sampraday, and Ramdassi Sampraday. The chief propounder of the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya was Ramanuja while Madhava was the founder of the Madhav Sampraday. The Pushtimarg Sampraday, founded by Vallabh Acharya is yet another sect influenced by the other two major Vaishnavite sect.

The most well know branch of Vaishnavism is that of Brahma Gaudiya Vaishnavism from Bengal. This was founded by Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This branch of Vaishnavism was the first opened the status Brahmin to those who were not of Indian decent. These brahmin are part of the Gaudiya Vaishnava branch known as International Society for Krishna Consciouness, or ISKCON.

Vaishnavism included many sect such as the Swaminarayan Sampraday.

There are many members of the Swaminarayan Sampraday founded by Bhagwan Swaminarayan, born as Ghanshyam Pande a Vaishnavite Brahmin of present-day Uttar Pradesh. He later settled in Gujarat, wherein the highest density of Sampraday members live. This is a Vaishnavite sect founded in the latter part of the 18th century.

There is also the Varkari Sampraday, which worships Sri Krishna as "Vithal". The word "Varkari" means travelers because members of this sect travel from their home towns on a pilgrimage to Pandharpurmarker, almost always on foot. Important saints of this movement were the Brahmins Dnyaneshwar, Muktabai as well as several non-Brahmin icons.

There is also the Mahanubhava sampraday founded by King Cakradhara, known popularly to members as Sri Chakradhar Swami, in the 12th century. The members of this sect worship Lord Vishnu in His five forms: Lord Krishna, Lord Sri Dattatreya, Lord Sri Chakrapani, Lord Sri Govindaprabhu, and Lord Cakradhara (the founder Himself).

Shaivism

The Shaiva Brahmins have important icons such as Basava Swami of Karnataka, Kungiliya Kalaya Nayanar of Tamil Nadu, and Lakulisa of Gujarat.

Other sects

There are additional sampradayas as well which are not as widely followed as the rest.

The Mahima Dharma or "Satya Mahima Alekha Dharma" was founded by the Brahmin Mukanda Das of present-day Orissa, popularly know by followers as Mahima Swami according to the Bhima Bhoi text. He was born in the last part of 18th century in Baudh ex-state as a son of Ananta Mishra. He was Brahmin by caste as mentioned in Mahima Vinod of Bhima Bhoi in Vol.11. This sampradaya is similar to Vaishnavism. Although the members of this sect do not worship Lord Vishnu as their Ishta-Deva, they believe that the Bhagavata Purana is sacred. The founder of this sect was a Vaishnavite before founding the new order. This sampradaya was founded in the latter part of the 18th century.

There is also the Avadhoot Panth, wherein Lord Dattertaya and his forms such as Narasimha Saraswati and Sai Baba of Shirdi are worshiped. Lord Dattatreya is worshiped by many as the Hindu trinity - Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva in one divine entity. Many even worship Dattatreya as an avatar of Vishnu or of Shiva.

Brahmins in Buddhism

The Buddha rejected the authority of the Brahmins in many discourses. Brahmins feature extensively in Buddhist canonical texts such as the Tripitaka, and are found among the chief disciples of the Buddha. The Brahmana Vagga (section on Brahmins) contained in the Majjhima Nikaya contains numerous discourses recording the Buddha in discussion with Brahmins. The final chapter of the Dhammapada is called the Brahmanavagga. In it the Buddha redefines the term 'Brahman' to mean any person of each of the four castes to have attained enlightenment.

However there still were many Buddhists of Brahmin heritage and the caste tradition continued.

Peter Masefield writes, "The canonical texts show the early Buddhists seeking their sustenance mostly from brahmin families, and the dhamma-cakkhu (the insight into the Four Truths) that led to liberation was given almost exclusively to men of brahmin descent."

Scholar Asim Chatterjee goes further to write, "No one can deny that the Brahmin pupils of Gautama had save the Sangha in its hour of peril. The rebellion of Devadatta was foiled by Sariputta, and after the demise of the teacher, Mahakassapa, by convening the first council, at Rajagrha, practically rescued the entire Buddhist Sangha from sinking into oblivion."

In Thailand's Buddhist Culture

Brahminism is inextricably intertwined with Thailand's Buddhist faith and culture; Although the basic premises of Brahmin Hinduism and Buddhist philosophy do not converge, the Brahmin presence in Thailand's Buddhist temples and ceremonial rites is always notable.The main point where Brahminism and Buddhism fail to converge is that of the Brahmin viewpoint being that of "Atta", a permanent immutable transmigratory soul, whereas the Buddhist viewpoint is that of "Anatta" - the absence of an immutable self.It is interesting to note however, that all Royal and National Ceremonies performed in the Royal Palace are always performed by the Brahmin priests, of which there are unfortunately only seven left in Thailand. The most famous landmark revealing the presence of Brahminism in Thailand is the "Sao Ching Cha" (เสาร์ชิงชา swing pillar) which has become a tourist attraction over the years. Sao Ching Cha is a pair of red pillars with a Chinese looking arch on the top; it looks like (and is) a giant swing.

Related Links to Thai Brahminism

Thai Brahminism

Brahmin bhikshus

  • Abhaya Raja (built Mahabouddha temple with his descendants in Patan, Nepal in year 1604)
  • Asvaghosa (wrote the 'Buddhacharita' and is considered along with Nagarjuna to have founded the Mahayana). His philosophy was favored in the court of King Kanishka.
  • Atapa
  • Bodhidharma
  • Bakula
  • Bhitka (Buddha's fifth successor)
  • Cuda Panthaka
  • Dharmakirti
  • Dignaga
  • Gopaka
  • Guhyashila
  • Harita (wrote the "Harita Dharmasutra")
  • Humkara
  • Jnanadharma
  • Kacanna
  • Kamashila (Kashmiri Pandit)
  • Kalika
  • Kumarajiva (was imprisoned in China for spreading Buddhism)
  • Kanaka (Yamantaka Tantra)
  • Kukuraja
  • Manjushri (The mentor of Asoka)
  • Padma (woman)
  • Palden Dekyong
  • Pingala-Koccha (preached to the Buddha the Cūlasāropama Sutta, after which he became a dedicated student of the Buddha)
  • Radhasvami (another mentor of Asoka)
  • Majnushrimitra
  • Nagasena
  • Narpola [Naropa](student of Tipola/tilopa]
  • Sahara/saraha (master of Tipola/Tilopa )
  • Sariputra
  • Shantideva
  • Shantarakshita (Kashmiri Pandit)
  • Subha
  • Subhadra
  • Subrahman (coming father of Bodhisattva Maitreya)
  • Tipola [Tilopa](Mahasiddha, from modern-day Bangladesh)
  • Vakkali
  • Vanavasimarker


Brahmin Bodhisattvas

  • Aryadeva (successor of Nagarjuna)
  • Asangha (from Hinayana sect and Peshwar city founded the Yogacarya and established the
Classical age of Buddhism)

In kingdoms

There have been Brahmin Buddhists too in Buddhist kingdoms.
  • In Cambodia (Sanskrit Kamboja) there is an edict saying that the Great King Jaya Varma and his son King Rudra Varma build a monument in dedication of Lord Buddha and appointed a Brahmin to protect it.
  • In Sri Lanka, Maha Adigar was the first Buddhist emperor of Sri Lanka, converting many to Buddhism.
  • In 120 BC, the Indo-Greek King Milinda converted to Buddhism under sage Nagasena.
  • The Shunga Dynasty is thought by neo-Buddhists as an anti-Buddhist dynasty but the Shungas themselves built a stupa dedicated to the Buddha at Baharut.


In Burma

Historically, Brahmins, known as ponna (ပုဏ္ဏား) in modern-day Burmese (Until the 1900s, ponna referred to Indians who had arrived prior to colonial rule, distinct from the kala, Indians who arrived during British rule), formed an influential group prior to British colonialism. During the Konbaung dynasty, court Brahmins were consulted by kings for moving royal capitals, waging wars, making offerings to Buddhist sites like the Mahamuni Buddhamarker, and for astrology. Burmese Brahmins can be divided into four general groups, depending on their origins:
  1. Manipur Brahmins ( ) - Brahmins who were sent to Burma after Manipurmarker became a Burmese vassal state in the 1700s and ambassadors from Manipur
  2. Arakanese Brahmins ( ): Brahmins brought to Burma from Arakan after it was conquered by the Konbaung king Bodawpaya
  3. Sagaing Brahmins: oldest Brahmins in Burmese society, who had consulted the Pyu, Burman and Mon kingdoms prior to the Konbaung dynasty
  4. Indian Brahmins: Brahmins who arrived with British colonial rule, when Burma became a part of the British Raj


According to Burmese chronicles, brahmins in Burma were subject to the four-caste system, which included brahmanas (ဗြာဟ္မဏ), kshatriyas (khettaya), vaishya (beisha), and shudra (thottiya). Because the Burmese monarchy enforced the caste system for Indians, Brahmins who broke caste traditions and laws were subject to punishment. In the Arakanese kingdom, punished Brahmins often became kyun ponna (ကျွန်ပုဏ္ဏား), literally 'slave Brahmins', who made flower offerings to Buddha images and performed menial tasks. During the Konbaung dynasty, caste was indicated by the number of salwe (threads) worn; brahmins wore nine, while the lowest caste wore none. Brahmins are also fundamental in the Nine-God cult, called the Nine Divinities (Phaya Ko Su ဘုရားကိုးစု) which is essentially a Burmese puja (puzaw in Burmese) of appeasing nine divinities, Buddha and the eight arahats, or a group of nine deities, five Hindu gods and four nats. This practice continues to be practiced in modern-day Burma.

In Jainism

  • The first convert of Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism was Indrabhuti (aka Gautamswami) the Brahmin, who headed a group of other Brahmins and converted them to Jainism. He was from the village Gobbar (also called Govarya) near Rajgrihamarker. It is said that at the sight of Gautama, the tapsas who were competing with him to reach the top of a hill once, by seeing the winner Gautama at the top, achieved moksha.
  • Sajjambhava was another born from Rajgriha and was elected the head of the Jain temple. He is famous for his composition of the "Dasavaikalika Sutra."
  • Acharya Vidyanand is a Brahmin of the Dhigambar Jain sect and compiled in the Sanskrit language, "Ashta Shahastri" with eight thousand verses.
  • Acharya Shushil Kumar, known better to Jains as "Guruji", was born a Vaidik in the Shakarpur village of the Haryana province. At the age of 15, he took Diksha (became a sanyassin) into the Sthanakvasi, a Swhetambara sub-sect.
  • There is also a story about a wealthy Brahmin named Dhangiri in the town of Tumbhivan, who, when heard the sermons of the Jain Acharya Sinhgiri, while he regularly listened to but later lost his interest in wealth and decided to take the Diksha.
  • Umasvati was a composer who was so loved by Jains that he is considered by the Dhigambar sect to be a Dhigambar member and the Svetambara sect to be a Svetambara member.


In various Indian kingdoms

  • The Jain Acharya Bhadrabahu of Pundravardhana is said to be the preceptor of Chandragupta Maurya of the Mauryan dynasty, grandfather of Ashoka the Buddhist ruler.
  • A copperplate grant from the Gupta period found in the vincity of Somapura mentioned a Brahmin donating land to a Jain vihara at Vatagohali.
  • A Brahmin general by the name of Vasudeva in the army of Kamadeva in the Vijayaditya dynasty had built a temple to Lord Parshvanath.
  • The Kadamba kings of Palasika were Jain Brahmins who supported Jainism and gave land grants and erected many temples and hence, patronised Jainism. This supports the view that Jainism entered South India through the West and perhaps from Ujjayini itself.
  • King Mrigesavarman of the Kadamba dynasty of palasika further went on to give grants to Yapaniyas, Nigranthas and Kurchakas.
  • The Brahmin Haribhadra was a pupil of Jinabhadra (or Jinabhata) and Jinadatta and later received the title of "Suri" (an honorable epithet of learning Jain monks.)


See also



Lists of Brahmins

There have been prominent Brahmin individuals in different fields. For list of famous individuals from Brahmin communities, see

Notes

  1. , noun: "1. A man belonging to the first of the four classes ( instead of castes in Apte's Skt-Hindi dictionary) of the Hindus, a (priest) (born from the mouth of the Purusha)"; and , adjective, "a. 1. Belonging to a ", and other meanings, see: , ; on p. 901 of the latter, Apte gave one of the meanings of as caste but qualified it with a statement: "mainly people of four of (scholars, priests), (warriors), (merchants), (artisans)", and did not permit use of the term for any caste other than these four.
  2. Monier-Williams: inspired, inwardly stirred, wise, learned, etc.
  3. 'Dvija was used more frequently for Brahmins, but it also included and Vaiśyas who were "reborn through investiture with the sacred thread" - Monier-Williams.
  4. S. N. Sadasivan. A Social History of India, p. 229, APH Publishing, 2000, ISBN 817648170X.
  5. Manoranjan Mohanty. Class, Caste, Gender‎. 2004. p.161: "It is alleged that during the period of Brahminical domination, favouritism towards Brahmins and discrimination against non-Brahmins were both widespread,"
  6. Reversal of Fortune Isolates India's Brahmins. The Wall Street Journal
  7. Are Brahmins the Dalits of today?. May 23, 2006. Rediff.com.
  8. For definition of , with last syllable showing a Vedic accent, used as a noun as "m. (having to do with Brahman or divine knowledge), one learned in the Veda, theologian, priest, , man of the first four castes"; and definition of , with only first syllable showing a Vedic accent, used as an adjective as "a. (i) belonging to a , Brāhmanic", see: .
  9. For definition of , with last syllable showing Vedic accents, as a noun, "m., one who has divine knowledge, a . a man belonging to the 1st of the 3 twice-born classes and of the 4 original divisions of the body", and the adjective , with first syllable showing a Vedic accent, as "relating to or given by a , befitting or becoming a Br., Brāhmanical", see Monier-Williams, p. 741, middle column. Cf. Rgveda, Pune Edition, vol. 5 (index), p. 408 in which all occurrences of as first person singular show anudātta (absence of accent) on first two syllables.
  10. For definition of the neuter noun (with Vedic accent on first syllable) as "n. the class of men who are the repositories and communicators of sacred knowledge, the Bramānical caste as a body (rarely an individual Brāhman)"; and the masculine noun (with Vedic accent on final syllable) as "one who prays, a devout or religious man, a Brāhman who is a knower of Vedic texts or spells, one versed in sacred knowledge", see MW, pp. 737–38.
  11. P. 849, Gujarat State Gazetteers, Gujarat (India), 1984.
  12. A detailed article on Brahmins of Andhra Pradesh at Vepachedu Educational Foundation[1]
  13. A detailed article on Gotras of Brahmins at Vepachedu Educational Foundation[2]
  14. A detailed article on Gotras and pravaras of Brahmins at Vepachedu Educational Foundation [3]
  15. "A History of South India", K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 1975
  16. P. 201, Professor A.L. Basham, My Guruji and Problems and Perspectives of Ancient ...By Sachindra Kumar Maity
  17. P. 29 Cultural History from the Matsyapurāṇa By Sureshachandra Govindlal Kantawala
  18. P. 37 Asian Medical Systems: A Comparative Study By Charles Leslie
  19. P. 13 Castes And Tribes Of Southern India By Edgar Thurston, K. Rangachari
  20. Manu Smriti on learning of the Vedas
  21. A detailed article on various sects and rishis of Brahmins at Vepachedu Educational Foundation [4]
  22. http://vedabase.net/sb/7/11/14/en | Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 7.11.14
  23. "Mahima Dharma, Bhima Bhoi and Biswanathbaba"
  24. Peter Masefield, Divine Revelation in Pali Buddhism
  25. P. 41 A comprehensive history of Indian Buddhism By Asim Kumar Chatterjee
  26. http://www.catmando.com/casinosnepal/july/buddhist.htm Mahabouddha temple
  27. http://www.luxlapis.co.za/arahats.htm Arhants
  28. arahats
  29. Contents
  30. From the Caves and Jungles of Hindustan Chapter III
  31. Glossary from The Great Image - RangjungYesheWiki
  32. Manjushri
  33. Babad Gumi
  34. Dog
  35. A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms, by Fa-hsien (chapter27)
  36. shambhala.com
  37. Keith Dowman / Dzogchen Masters
  38. Nagasena presented in Non Famous section
  39. http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/Mar/ac2.asp
  40. Peoples of Art
  41. P.21 Jaina-rūpa-maṇḍana =: Jaina Iconography By Umakant Premanand Shah


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