||It has been suggested that Bahun be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since April 2015.|
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Brahmin is a varna in Vedic Hinduism and also a caste of people who are members of it. Members are subdivided into numerous communities known as gotras. It was founded by Bharata (first Chakravartin of Avasarpini in Jain cosmology), son of Rishabha (first Tirthankara of Avasarpini in Jain cosmology).
Brahmin priests and teachers (acharya) were engaged in attaining the highest 'spiritual' knowledge (brahmavidya) of Brahman and adhered to different branches (shakhas) of the Vedas. The Brahmin priest is responsible for religious rituals in temples and homes of Hindus and is a person authorized after rigorous training in vedas and 'sacred' rituals, and as a liaison between humans and the God. In general, as family vocations and businesses are inherited, priesthood used to be inherited among Brahmin priestly families, as it requires years of practice of vedas from childhood after proper introduction to student life through a religious initiation called upanayana at the age of about five.
Some Brahmins were also warriors. Krishna Dwaipayana Vyasa, son of a Brahmin sage Parashara and a fisher woman Satyavathi, in his Mahabharata, describes several warriors belonging to Brahmin castes/tribes, such as Dronacharya, Ashwatthama, Kripacharya, Parashurama[according to whom?] etc., who were professors in the schools of martial arts and the art of war. It is believed that after Lord Parshuram killed/slayed Khatriyas, he installed Brahmins to rule in their place as Brahm-kshatriyas. The famous Brahmin dynasty was Sunga Empire and other Brahmin dynasties are Kanva dynasty and Sena Dynasty. There were also thousands of small principalities being ruled/governed by Brahmins all over the Indian sub-continent and in addition to this there were innumerable Brahmin Zamindaars(Landlords), Jagirdaars, army-chiefs, ministers.....etc. working for/under both Brahmin and Non-Brahmin Kings.
- 1 History of Brahmins
- 2 Clerical positions
- 3 Requirements for being Brahmin
- 4 Communities
- 5 Sampradayas
- 6 Nepali Brahmins
- 7 Burma (Myanmar)
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Bibliography
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
History of Brahmins
The term Brahmin means one who has realized the Ultimate Reality.
Brahmins are one of the groups of India and Nepal who pray for the welfare of the people in general, are ordained to be a role model for the Society and are expected to lead the society. In exercise of this, Brahmins have been priests, Advisers to kings(which continues even today) and in some cases have also been Kings, though this is not the function of the Brahmins. Brahmins are called ‘Vipra’ the ‘Inspired ones’ ‘Dwija ‘Twice-born' , first being born physically, the second, when a Brahmin is anointed with the ceremony and practice of the Upanayana, the opening of the third eye. There are references to Brahmins from time of the Vedas, about 5000 years old, and in the Purans. Pippalata, Katyayani, Angiras, Bharadwaja, Maitri, Gargi are some of the Brahmins who composed the Veda sutras.
Maitri, Gargi and Katyayani were women.
The Brahmins were spread throughout the world as were the Vedas. Later after Sage Vishwamitra consigned his sons beyond the Vindhyas to the Dakshina Desha, or Dravida, there appeared a distinction between the Brahmins of the North and those from the South.
Kalhana, in his book Rajatarangini describes and assigns the geographical locations for Brahmins.
कर्णाटकाश्च तैलङ्गा द्राविडा महाराष्ट्रकाः, गुर्जराश्चेति पञ्चैव द्राविडा विन्ध्यदक्षिणे । सारस्वताः कान्यकुब्जा गौडा उत्कलमैथिलाः, पन्चगौडा इति ख्याता विन्ध्स्योत्तरवासि ॥
Karnataka (Kannadiga and Tulu), Tailanga (Telugu), Dravida (Tamil and Malayali), Maharashtraka (Maharashtrian and Konkani) and Gurjara (Gujarati) are Five Southern (Pancha Dravida). Saraswata (Rajasthani, Sindhi, Punjabi, Haryanvi, Kashmiri, Pahari, Nepali), Kanyakubja (Kannauji), Gauda (Bengali and Assamese), Utkala (Odia) and Maithili (Bihari) are Five Northern (Pancha Gauda) groups of Brahamins.
- Jagadguru ("Leader of the World", supreme spiritual leader)
- Swami (Lord, the spiritual leader)
- Upadhyaya (Spiritual teacher equaliant to Professor)
- Acharya (Spiritual teacher, equaliant to Master)
- Shastri (Spiritual teacher, equaliant to Bachelor)
- Vedapathi (Vedic Scholar)
- Purohita/Pandita (Preist, performer of domestic ceremonies
- Ritvija (Priest, performer of seasonal ceremonies)
- Yogi (Master of Yoga)
- Tapasvi (Medicant)
Requirements for being Brahmin
According to a Buddhist scripture, at the time of the Buddha in eastern India there were five requirements for being Brahmin:
- Varna or Brahmin status on both sides of the family
- Shila or virtue
- Panditya or Knowledge
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The Brahmin castes may be broadly divided into two regional groups: Pancha-Gauda Brahmins from the Northern part of India (considered to be the region north of the Vindhya mountains) and Pancha-Dravida Brahmins from the region south of the Vindhya mountains as per the shloka of Kalhana. According to four surveys conducted by CSDS in 2005-2007, Brahmins are 5% of India's total population. Brahmins have been very influential in India and there have been some Prime Ministers also.
The Brahmins from Sārasvata, Kanyakubja, Gauda, Mithila and Utkala, who with passage of time spread to North East, East and West, were called Pancha Gauda. This group is originally from Uttarapatha (Āryāvarta).
Pancha Gauda Brahmins are divided into these main categories:
- Kashmiri Pandits
- Goud Saraswat Brahmin
- Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmin
- Rajapur Saraswat Brahmin
- Kudaldeshkar Gaud Brahman
- Daivajna brahmin
- Shand Saraswat Brahmin
- Bhumihar Brahmins
- Kulin Brahmins
- Utkala Brahmin
- Bengali Brahmins
- Sanadya Brahmin
- Kamrupi Brahmins
- Kanyakubja Brahmin
- Sakaldwipiya Brahmins
- Pareek Brahmins
- Pushkarna Brahmin
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (November 2013)|
Pancha-Dravida Brahmins comprise five categories:
- Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
- Dravida (Tamil Nadu and Kerala)
Niyogis are further divided into the following subcategories: Nandavarika Niyogi, Prathama Shakha Niyogi, Aaru Vela Niyogulu.
During the days of Maratha India, Koknastha(Chitpavan) Brahmins primarily served as prime ministers or Peshwas, apart from taking up military jobs and converged into the sovereign or the Chhatrapati of Satara. One of the notable Peshwa families is the Bhat family, who happen to be Chitpavan Konkanastha Brahmins. They took up military jobs and ended up being the de facto head of the Maratha Dynasty.
- Smartha Brahmins
- Madhwa Brahmins
- Mysore Iyengars
- Tuluva Brahmins, which consist of Kandavara Brahmins, Karhade Brahmins, Padia Brahmins, Saklapuri Brahmins, Shivalli Brahmins, Smartha Shivalli Brahmins, Sthanika Brahmins, Padarthi Brahmins.
- Havyaka Brahmin
- Gowda Saraswat Brahmins
- Sankethi Brahmins
- Daivadnya Brahmin's
- Iyengar (sub-divided into Vadakalai and Thenkalai)
- Iyer (sub-divided further into Vadama, Vathima, Brahacharanam, Ashtasahasram, Chozhiya or Sholiyar, Dikshitar, Kaniyalar, Prathamasaki,Gurukkal)
Gujarati Brahmins consist of various sub-castes such as :
- Tapodhan Brahmins
- Shrimali Brahmins
- Valam Brahmins
- Aboti Brahmins
- Modh Brahmins
- Nagar Brahmins
- Audichya Brahmin
- Bardai Brahmins
- Anavil Brahmin
- Nodera Brahmin
- Khedaval Brahmins
- Valadara Brahmins
There are additional sampradayas, which are not as widely followed:
The Mahima Dharma or "Satya Mahima Alekha Dharma" was founded by the Brahmin Mukunda Das of present-day Odisha, popularly known by followers as Mahima Swami according to the Bhima Bhoi text. He was born in the last part of the 18th century, in the former state of Baudh, 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 Srimad Bhagavatam 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 Dattatreya 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.
Bahun is a colloquial Nepali term for a member of the Pahari or "Hill" Brahmin (ब्राह्मण) caste, who are traditionally educators, scholars and priests of Hinduism. They are also known as Barmu in Newari, Bavan in Kham. Brahmins are the second largest caste group in Nepal (12.18% of the population).Licchavi (also Lichchhavi, Lichavi) was an ancient kingdom in Nepal, which existed in the Kathmandu Valley from approximately 400 to 750. Centuries earlier, at the start of the Buddhist era a powerful republic known as Licchavi existed in what is today Kathmandu. There is no conclusive evidence of any ethnic or historic links between the two states. The language of Licchavi inscriptions is Sanskrit, It is believed that the Lichhavi, having lost their political fortune in India, came to Nepal, attacking and defeating the last Kirat King Gasti. In the Buddhist Pali canon, the Licchavi are mentioned in a number of discourses, most notably the Licchavi Sutta, the popular Ratana Sutta and the fourth chapter of the Petavatthu. The Mahayana Vimalakirti Sutra also spoke of the city of Vaisali as where the lay Licchavi bodhisattva Vimalakirti was residing.The term 'Licchavi' term probably derives from Rikshavi possibly Sanskritized to Rkshvavati. Riksha or Rksha in Sanskrit means Star. they bult pasupati temple, chagunarayana, Various Buddha Stoopas, according to Chagunarayana Stoopa Lichhavi are From brahmin clan and their court language is saskrit.संस्कृत The economy was agricultural, relying on rice and other grains as staples. Villages (grama) were grouped into dranga for administration. Lands were owned by the royal family, nobles, temples or groups of Brahmans. Trade was also very important, with many settlements positioned along trading routes. Tibet and India were both trading partners..It is believed that the Lichhavi, having lost their political fortune in India, came to Nepal, attacking and defeating the last Kirat King Gasti.(10)
According to ANCIENT NEPAL Journal of the Department of Archaeology, Number 147 June 2001, The Vedic-Aryan Entry Into Contemporary Nepal [A Pre-Historical Analysis Based on the Study Of Puranas]by Shiva Raj Shrestha, Some 3,500 to 4,000 years "Before Present'(B.P.) Hari-Hara Chhetra (of present day GandakiBasins, including Mukti Nath, Deaughat and Triveni of Western Nepal), was one of the most important centers of Vedic Aryans, who had already expanded Swarswat Vedic Civilization.The Aryans could not have advanced upto this land, without the support of Lord Shiva-the supreme Lord of Kiratas of their time (who was regarded as the incarnation ofLord Rudra, the Early- Vedic God of Cosmic Energy).
Thus, from the descriptions of satpath Brahman Grantha and various Puranas, it seemsthat the Aryans from Vedic Swaraswat civilization had entered Nepal at around 4,000-4,100 years B.P. Already by this time, there seems to be the strong presence of Yakshyas in the Central Himalayas, who were in very friendly terms with Naga Kiratas of Central Himalayas. In the latter Vedic Age, more Aryans seem to have visited Nepal. Pradhumna also visited Kathmandu Valley and Lord Krishna had cut opened the dam on the foot of Chandra Giri (Chovar Gorge or the gorge at Katuwal Daha?) and released water from the Naga-Hrada lake with a view to built the cities and villages in the present day Kathmandu Valley according to Himabata Khanda of Skanda Purana.31 This ~uranic story, if supported by archeological evidences, will show as to how the last of the Later Vedic Aryans had reached Central Nepal. Western and Eastern Nepal Terai and hills were opened-up by Bhimsena according to mythological narrations. (The Tharus of Dang Valley and Newars, even now worship Bhimsen. According to Maha- Bharata Epic and Vishnu Purana, Arjuna was the first Aryan commander, who had reached as far east as Assam and conquered the ancient kingdom of Mani Pura and married Naga Princess Ulupi. These Puranic recordsamply show that by the timeofMaha-Bharata War (some 3,000 years B.P.), the Aryans had conquered most parts of the lower Himalayas and the latter Vedic civilization was penetrating in the important population centers of Nepal. However, except in mithila, the vedic aryan civilization could not flourish and the rich and equitable indigenous Naga-Kirati (Bon) civilization could continue undisturbed till the medieval times. Only in Mithila, this great Vedic Civilization could produce great philosophers like Yagnabalka, Maitree and Gargi and Philosopher-king like Janaka (of Upanishada fame, probably not Sir-Dhoj Janak, fatherofGoddess Sita). Now, it is for the archaeologist and historians to research further and reconstruct the history of Nepal of Vedic Age.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (March 2015)|
Historically, Brahmins, known as ponna in modern-day Burmese, formed an influential group in Burma prior to British colonialism. Until the 1900s, ponna referred to Indians who had arrived prior to colonial rule, distinct from kala, Indians who arrived during British rule. During the Konbaung dynasty, court Brahmins were consulted by kings before 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 Bodawpaya
- Sagaing Brahmins: the oldest Brahmins in Burmese society, who consulted the Pyu, Burman and Mon kingdoms prior to the Konbaung dynasty
- 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 similar to that of India. Because the Burmese monarchy enforced the caste system for Indians, Brahmins who broke caste traditions and laws were subject to punishment. . However, in the Arakanese kingdom, punished Brahmins often became kyun ponna, 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 which is essentially a Burmese puja (puzaw in Burmese) for appeasing nine divinities, Buddha and the eight arahats, or a group of nine deities, five Hindu gods and four nat spirits. This practice continues to be practised in modern-day Burma.
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