historically been a caste
of the four s) in India. They are traditionally scholars, teachers
and priests in Hinduism
"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
India treat brahmins as a forward caste, and some brahmins have
complained about the reverse
discrimination granted to the backward castes.
The Government of India
official list of scheduled castes and
, but not of forward castes, so that the status
of brahmin is not officially recognized and does not appear in the
. Nevertheless, a rigid
system of Brahmin communities
divided into gotras
force de facto
The English noun brahman
is ultimately derived from the
Sanskrit , an adjective meaning "pertaining to ". The form
is a corruption of vernacular pronunciations;
while in wide popular use, the more correct brahman
or is employed in scholarly contexts and
by most writers on India. Older English spellings like
are influenced by Greek ,
The Brahmin castes may be broadly divided into two regional groups:
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
Translation: Dravida (Tamil,Kerala,Karnataka and Andhra),
Maharashtra and Gujarat are Five Southern (Panch Dravida).
Kanyakubja, Gauda, Utkala (Orissa), Maithili are Five Northern
This classification occurs in Rajatarangini
and is mentioned by Jogendra Nath
Bhattacharya in "Hindu Castes and Sects."
Pancha Gauda Brahmins
Gauda (the five classes of Northern India): (1) Saraswat, (2) Kanyakubja, (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 Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal, Kurukshetra, Rajputana, Uttar Pradesh, and Ayodhya (Oudh); in
Nepal such as Terai and Hilly Region; in modern Pakistani regions such
as Punjab, Sindh, and the
Frontier Province; and Central India,
Trihoot, Bihar, Orissa, Bengal, Assam, etc. They
originate from south of the (now-extinct) Saraswati
Bihar, 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
Hazari Prasad Dwivedi
mentioned in their writings.
decline of Mughal Empire, in the area
of south of Avadh, in the fertile rive-rain
rice growing areas of Benares, Gorakhpur, Deoria, Ghazipur, Ballia, Bihar, and on the
fringes of Bengal, it was the
'military' or Bhumihar Brahmins who strengthened their
Gujarat, the Brahmin
are classified in mainly Nagar
Brahmin, Unewal Brahmin, Khedaval Brahmin, Aavdhich Brahmin, and Shrimali Brahmins.
Haryana, the Brahmin
are classified in mainly Dadhich_Brahmin, Gaud Brahmin, and
But a large proportion (about 90%) of
Brahmin in Haryana are adi Gaur. Approximately all Brahmin in west
UP and Delhi are adi Gaur.
Pradesh, 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 (Indore, Ujjain, and
The eastern MP has a dense population of
Sarayuparain Brahmins. Hoshangabad and Harda Distt. of MP have a
considerable population of Naremdev Brahmins.
Nepal, the hill Brahmins are classified in mainly
Upadhaya Brahmin, Jaisi Brahmin, and Kumain Brahmins.
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.
Punjab, they are
classified as Saraswat
Karnataka, Brahmins are mainly classified into Havyaka speaking Havigannada, Babbur Kamme, Hoysala
Karnataka speaking Kannada, Shivalli and Kota speaking Tulu, and Karahada speaking Marathi.
their own tradition and culture.
Utkala Brahmins, also known as Oriya or Orissa 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.
Rajasthan, 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
Brahmins. Brahmins are mainly
found in the Marwar and Godwad regions of Rajasthan. Shakdwipiya
Brahmins are also found at many places in Rajasthan. They are the
major Pujari (priests) in many temples of Western Rajasthan.
Sindh, the Saraswat Brahmins from Nasarpur of the Sindh
province are called Nasarpuri Sindh Saraswat Brahmin.
the India and Pakistan partition, they migrated to India from the
Pradesh, 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).
Bengal 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
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 , 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
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.
Pradesh, 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
Karnataka, 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
are classified into three groups: Namboothiri, Potti,Ezhavathy and
The major priestly
activities are performed by Namboothiris
while the other temple related activities known as Kazhakam are
performed by Pushpaka Brahmins
other Ampalavasis. Sri Adi Shankara
was born in Kalady, a village
in Kerala, to a
Namboothiri Brahmin couple,
Shivaguru and Aryamba, and lived for thirty-two years.
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.
Nadu, Brahmins belong to two major groups: Iyer and Iyengar.
comprise of Smartha
Brahmins and are broadly classified into
Ashtasahasram, Vadamal, Brahatcharnam, vathimal, Sholiyar, and
. 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
Brahmins and are divided
into two sects: Vadakalai
. They are mostly followers of Ramanuja
and make up the remaining one-fourth of
the Tamil Brahmin population.
Maharashtra, 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 Goa or Karnataka, 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 Ratnagiri.
Pradesh the descendents of Somnath temple priests, Naramdev
Brahmin, who migrated from Gujrat to Madhyapradesh after the
Mohd. Ghazni notorious forays in saurashtra and desacration of Somnath, and sedenterized along the coast of Narmada river hence derived their name, i.e., Narmdiya brahmin or Naramdevs.
Guru of Adi guru Shankaracharya
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 (Khandwa and Khargone) and the Bhuvana region
Gujarat, 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 Baroda
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
sages; the progeny of these eight sages is declared to be gotras.
This enumeration of eight primary gotras seems to have been known
. 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 '
The gotras are arranged in groups, e. g. there are according to the
Âsvalâyana-srautasûtra four subdivisions of the Vasishtha gana,
viz. Upamanyu, Parāshara
(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
gana. According to Baudh., the
principal eight gotras were divided into pakshas. The pravara of
Upamanyu is Vasishtha
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
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
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
dynasty, which was founded by
, later known as
Brahmins have also been instrumental in the foundation of empires.
For example, Chanakya
, also known as
, helped Chandragupta Maurya
and found the Mauryan Empire
. The Peshwas
were Brahmin ministers of the Maratha kings,
but later replaced their masters by becoming the kings
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
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
were an example of
Brahmakshatriyas as that is what they called themselves.
King Lalitaditya Muktapida of Kashmir 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
and have been Vaidyas
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.
Due to the diversity in religious and cultural traditions and
practices, and the Vedic schools
belong to, Brahmins are further divided into various subcastes.
During the later Vedic period
the rise of Buddhism in
, 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
. 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
(also sometimes more realized as
. These twenty-one rishis were the
propounders of Smritis
. The oldest among
these smritis are Apastamba, Baudhayana, Gautama, and Vasishta
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
. 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.
The three sampradayas
Brahmins, especially in South India
the Smarta sampradaya
, the 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
, and Ramdassi Sampraday. The chief propounder
of the Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya was
was the founder of the Madhav Sampraday. The
, 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
. 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
branch known as International
Society for Krishna Consciouness
, or ISKCON
Vaishnavism included many sect such as the Swaminarayan
There are many members of the Swaminarayan Sampraday
, 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
worships Sri Krishna
". The word "Varkari" means travelers
because members of this sect travel from their home towns on a
pilgrimage to Pandharpur, almost always on foot.
Important saints of
this movement were the Brahmins Dnyaneshwar
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).
The Shaiva Brahmins have important icons such as Basava Swami
of Karnataka, Kungiliya Kalaya Nayanar
of Tamil Nadu, and Lakulisa of Gujarat.
There are additional sampradayas as well which are not as widely
followed as the rest.
The Mahima Dharma
or "Satya Mahima Alekha Dharma"
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
, they believe that the
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
There is also the Avadhoot Panth
and his forms such as
and Sai Baba of Shirdi
are worshiped. Lord
Dattatreya is worshiped by many as the Hindu trinity - Brahma
in one divine entity. Many even worship
Dattatreya as an avatar
of Vishnu or of
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
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
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
- 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.
- Bhitka (Buddha's fifth successor)
- Cuda Panthaka
- Harita (wrote the "Harita
- Kamashila (Kashmiri Pandit)
- Kumarajiva (was imprisoned in China
for spreading Buddhism)
- Kanaka (Yamantaka Tantra)
- 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)
- Narpola [Naropa](student of Tipola/tilopa]
- Sahara/saraha (master of Tipola/Tilopa )
- Shantarakshita (Kashmiri
- Subrahman (coming father of Bodhisattva Maitreya)
- Tipola [Tilopa](Mahasiddha, from modern-day Bangladesh)
- Aryadeva (successor of Nagarjuna)
- Asangha (from Hinayana sect and Peshwar
city founded the Yogacarya and established the
Classical age of Buddhism)
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
- 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.
Historically, Brahmins, known as 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 Buddha, and for astrology.
Burmese Brahmins can be
divided into four general groups, depending on their origins:
- Manipur Brahmins ( ) - Brahmins who were
sent to Burma after Manipur became a Burmese vassal state in the 1700s and
ambassadors from Manipur
- Arakanese Brahmins ( ): Brahmins brought to Burma from Arakan after it was conquered by the Konbaung king
- Sagaing Brahmins: oldest Brahmins in Burmese society, who had
consulted the Pyu, Burman
and Mon kingdoms prior to the Konbaung
- 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
'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
in Burmese) of appeasing nine divinities, Buddha
and the eight arahats
a group of nine deities, five Hindu gods and four nats
. This practice continues to be practiced
in modern-day Burma.
- 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 Rajgriha. 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
- Sajjambhava was another born from Rajgriha and was elected the
head of the Jain temple. He is famous for his composition of the
- Acharya Vidyanand is a Brahmin of the Dhigambar Jain sect and
compiled in the Sanskrit language, "Ashta Shahastri" with eight
- 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
- 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.)
Lists of Brahmins
There have been prominent Brahmin individuals in different fields.
For list of famous individuals from Brahmin communities, see
- , 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.
- Monier-Williams: inspired, inwardly
stirred, wise, learned, etc.
- 'Dvija was used more frequently for Brahmins, but it also
included and Vaiśyas who were "reborn through investiture with the
sacred thread" - Monier-Williams.
- S. N. Sadasivan. A Social History of India, p. 229,
APH Publishing, 2000, ISBN 817648170X.
- 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,"
- Reversal of Fortune Isolates India's Brahmins.
The Wall Street Journal
- Are Brahmins the Dalits of today?. May 23,
- 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: .
- 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.
- 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.
- P. 849, Gujarat State Gazetteers, Gujarat (India),
- A detailed article on Brahmins of Andhra Pradesh at Vepachedu
- A detailed article on Gotras of Brahmins at Vepachedu
- A detailed article on Gotras and pravaras of Brahmins at
Vepachedu Educational Foundation 
- "A History of South India", K. A. Nilakanta Sastri, Oxford
University Press, New Delhi, 1975
- P. 201, Professor A.L. Basham, My Guruji and Problems and
Perspectives of Ancient ...By Sachindra Kumar Maity
- P. 29 Cultural History from the Matsyapurāṇa By
Sureshachandra Govindlal Kantawala
- P. 37 Asian Medical Systems: A Comparative Study By
- P. 13 Castes And Tribes Of Southern India By Edgar
Thurston, K. Rangachari
- Manu Smriti on learning of the Vedas
- A detailed article on various sects and rishis of Brahmins at
Vepachedu Educational Foundation 
- http://vedabase.net/sb/7/11/14/en | Śrīmad Bhāgavatam
- "Mahima Dharma, Bhima Bhoi and
- Peter Masefield, Divine Revelation in Pali
- P. 41 A comprehensive history of Indian Buddhism By
Asim Kumar Chatterjee
- http://www.luxlapis.co.za/arahats.htm Arhants
- From the Caves and Jungles of Hindustan Chapter
- Glossary from The Great Image -
- Babad Gumi
- A Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms, by Fa-hsien
- Keith Dowman / Dzogchen Masters
- Nagasena presented in Non Famous section
- Peoples of Art
- P.21 Jaina-rūpa-maṇḍana =: Jaina Iconography By
Umakant Premanand Shah
- Swami Sahajanand Saraswati
Rachnawali (Selected works of Swami Sahajanand Saraswati),
Prakashan Sansthan, Delhi,
Upadhyaya, Kashi Ki Panditya Parampara, Sharda Sansthan,
- M.A. Sherring, Hindu Tribes and Castes as
Reproduced in Benaras, Asian
Educational Services, New Delhi, First ed 1872, new ed
- Jogendra Nath
Bhattacharya, Hindu Castes and Sects, Munshiram Manoharlal, Delhi, first
edition 1896, new edition 1995.
- E.A.H.Blunt, The Caste System of North India, S.Chand
- Christopher Alan Bayly,
Rulers, Townsmen, and Bazaars: North Indian Society in the Age of
British Expansion, 1770-1870, Cambridge University Press,
- Anand A. Yang, Bazaar India: Markets, Society, and the Colonial
State in Bihar, University of California
- Acharya Hazari Prasad Dwivedi Rachnawali,
Rajkamal Prakashan, Delhi.
- Bibha Jha's Ph.D thesis Bhumihar
Brahmins: A Sociological Study submitted to the Patna University.
- M. N. Srinivas,
Social Change in Modern India, Orient
- Mahavir Prasad Dwivedi