Brahmanism is the religion that developed out of the historical Vedic religion in ancient India, and was followed between very roughly 1000 BCE and 500 BCE.[web 1] The term is different from Brahminism, the latter is sometimes used to identify a ritualistic system led by the Brahmin priests in the Hindu society.
The term Brahmanism is derived from the central metaphysical and panentheistic concept of Brahman that developed during the Vedic era, which was posited as that which existed before the creation of the universe, which constitutes all of existence thereafter, and into which the universe will dissolve into, followed by similar endless creation-maintenance-destruction cycles. The term Brahmanism is considered synonymous with Hinduism, by some scholars. Others consider the transition from ancient Brahmanism into schools of Hinduism that emerged later as a form of evolution, which happened imperceptibly, and one that preserved many of the central ideas and theosophy in the Vedas, and synergistically integrated new ideas. Of the major traditions that emerged from Brahmanism are the six darshanas, particular the Vedanta, Samkhya and Yoga schools of Hinduism.
The term Brahmanism has been used sometimes to distinguish the Vedic system that evolved into various Hindu traditions from Buddhism which denies the Brahman metaphysical concept, and suggests the Anatta concept instead. Jainism too is considered a break away tradition from mainstream Brahmanism, while Hindu traditions are considered those that evolved while accepting the core concepts of Brahmanism such as the Brahman and the Atman. There were other schools of thought in ancient India, those that disagreed with Brahmanism, Buddhism and Jainism, such as the materialists Charvakas.
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- For the metaphysical concept of Brahman, see: Julius Lipner (2012). Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. Routledge. pp. 251–252, 283, 366–369. ISBN 978-1-135-24061-5.;
Roy W. Perrett (1998). Hindu Ethics: A Philosophical Study. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 53–54. ISBN 978-0-8248-2085-5.;
Bruce M. Sullivan (2001). The A to Z of Hinduism. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 137. ISBN 978-0-8108-4070-6.
- James Lochtefeld, Brahman, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A–M, Rosen Publishing. ISBN 978-0823931798, page 122
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- Mircea Eliade (2011). History of Religious Ideas, Volume 2: From Gautama Buddha to the Triumph of Christianity. University of Chicago Press. pp. 49–54. ISBN 978-0-226-02735-7.
- Jacques Maritain; E. I. Watkin (2005). An Introduction to Philosophy. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 5–6 with footnote 1. ISBN 978-0-7425-5053-7.
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