A Brahmana (Sanskrit, ब्राह्मण, brāhmaṇa ) is in the Indian caste system, a member of the supreme caste (Varna ). In Hinduism, it is privilege and duty of the Brahmins to be a teacher of the Veda and scholars until today mainly provide them the priests. Therefore, " Brahmin " was also a religious title. In modern India, they practice any profession.

Myth and History

In Purushashukta in the 10th book of the Rigveda there is a myth about the origin of the box. Through the sacrifice of the divine primeval giant Purusha thus emerged from his mouth the Brahmins, from the arms of the Kshatriya ( rulers ) from the thighs the Vaishya (traders, farmers ) and the feet the Shudra ( Servant ).

Throughout history, succeeded the Brahmin to solidify their claim to power with regard to ritual and society more and more, which meant that ascetic forms of religion like Buddhism or Jainism were temporarily prevail in India. But even within Hinduism itself urged new movements like those of the bhakti - devotion to the influence of the Brahmins back slowly.

Properties in the traditional sense

The social status, all the tasks, duties and rights are described in the Manusmriti, a 2000 year old law book, which has little in today's everyday life for most, however, important.

For the writings of the Hindus make especially the characteristics of the Brahmana. So arranges the Bhagavad Gita ( 18 42 ) particularly Brahmins to the following: " serenity, self control, asceticism, purity, forbearance, and sincerity, wisdom, knowledge and religious belief ... "

The Mahabharata: " The characteristics of a Brahmana are purity, good behavior, compassion for all living beings. "

Accordingly, it is expected from a member of the highest caste acquired through birth, mental purity and a very pure way of life. As in other writings but would be also many places in the Mahabharata with the discrepancy between the high ideal and the real way of life apart: "Neither the origin nor the consecration and erudition make the Brahmins, but his lifestyle is the reason. "

According to ancient Hindu Dharma, which is also described in the Manusmriti, the ideal life of a Brahmin and the other two upper box was this: He went at the age of about 8 years to become a teacher and stayed with him until he completed the study of the Vedas had. Then he was obliged to marry, to offer sacrifices regularly to beget sons, to teach and to make gifts. When the children were grown, he should retire into the forest and eventually rid the last stage of his life from all ties and lead the life of a hermit. No Brahmin but should seek this life before he had fulfilled the obligations of the previous stages. In the history of science is a presumption that such regulations have been established specifically by the religious authorities to take the increasingly successful ascetic, often anti- Brahmin movements and antiritualistischen the wind out of the sails. So the ideal of sacred ascetic lifestyle in the general course of life could be integrated without interfering with the social life massively in itself. Only after man had fulfilled its socio-economic obligations to family and society, he should legitimately be able to go into homelessness. Moreover, since many people at that time did not come in an age that was in such a system a lot of time for the past, ascetic life stage, it was hoped to be able to meet the socio- religious threat of the majority society so.

Role in today's India

As a priest and scholar, the typical, but not exclusive occupations of the Brahmins, only a minority is active. The income of the average priest is rather poor, when he's not a natural place such as on an important pilgrimage site with many paying "customers" has. Lately start getting more members of the other castes take over the duties of a priest.

While Brahmins are only a small part of the Indian population, yet they have a strong presence in the intellectual elite of the country. Basically, however, they work in all professions and have also taken using the Business foot. Tend to find it rather in "white- collar" occupations. Contrary to common prejudices Brahmins are also active as a worker in the industry, although they have an aversion to activities with low status, but are not always set against physical work. Since not all Brahmins belong to the wealthy, they often have to accept any job that is offered. Especially frequently work Brahmins as cooks, because traditionally they must not only observe ritual purity, and the hygiene is usually in her life a high priority to. They, too, the old religious law literature, such as the Manusmriti, as the highest caste, the right to all other castes food and drinks rich and allowed to prepare. In today's practice, however, accept many Hindus, Brahmins themselves, eating of each.

Even in the early history Brahmins were often ministers, and they are today disproportionately represented in higher offices. Most prime minister were Brahmins.