/brah"meuhn/, n., pl. Brahmans. Hinduism.1. Also, Brahmin. a member of the highest, or priestly, class among the Hindus. Cf. Kshatriya, Shudra, Vaisya.2. Also, Brahma. the impersonal supreme being, the primal source and ultimate goal of all beings, with which Atman, when enlightened, knows itself to be identical./bray"meuhn, brah"-/, n.any of several breeds of Indian cattle, esp. a grayish, heat-resistant American breed raised chiefly in the Gulf States.[1935-40; special use of BRAHMAN priest]
* * *IIn the Upanishads, the eternal, infinite, and omnipresent spiritual source of the finite and changing universe.The schools of Vedanta differ in interpreting Brahman. The Advaita school defines Brahman as categorically different from any phenomenon, conceiving it as an absolute reality onto which human perceptions of differentiation are projected. The Bhedabheda school maintains that Brahman is not different from the world it produces. The Visistadvaita school holds that phenomenality is a glorious manifestation of Brahman. The Dvaita school maintains that both soul and matter are separate from and dependent on Brahman.IIor BrahminAny member of the highest of the four varnas, or social classes, in Hindu India.Their existence as a priestly caste dates to the late Vedic period, and they have long been considered to be of greater ritual purity than members of other castes and alone to be capable of performing certain religious tasks, including preservation of the collections of Vedic hymns. Because of their high prestige and tradition of education, they dominated Indian scholarship for centuries. As the spiritual and intellectual elite, they advised the politically powerful warrior caste, and after Indian independence they supplied many heads of state. They still retain traditional privileges, though these are no longer legally sanctioned. Ritual purity is maintained through taboos, vegetarianism, and abstention from certain occupations.IIIor zebuAny of several varieties of cattle that originated in India and were crossbred in the U.S. with improved beef breeds to produce the hardy beef animal known as the Santa Gertrudis.Similar blending in Latin America resulted in the breed known as Indo-Brazil. The Brahman is characterized by a pronounced hump over the shoulder and neck, horns that usually curve up and back, and drooping ears. Gray is the prevalent colour, with deep shading in the fore and rear quarters of the bull. A red strain has also been developed.
* * *▪ breed of cattlealso called zebu,any of several varieties of cattle originating in India and crossbred in the United States with improved beef breeds, producing the hardy beef animal known as the American Brahman. Similar blending in Latin America resulted in the breed known as Indo-Brazil.Indian cattle were first imported into the Western Hemisphere in the mid-19th century. The Gir, Gujarat, and Nellore varieties were particularly successful in the southern United States and in Brazil, where heat, humidity, and pests made northern European breeds less profitable. The Hereford and the Shorthorn were among the first breeds used in crossing and have remained popular. Beef of these mixtures, such as the Beefmaster, is markedly low in fat. Other notable crosses include the Charbray, from the Brahman and Charolais, and the Brangus, from the Brahman and Angus. Pure-bred Brahmans today are used primarily for breeding and seldom slaughtered.The Brahman is characterized by a pronounced hump over the shoulder and neck, horns that usually curve up and back, and drooping ears. These features may be present to a lesser extent in the mixtures. Gray is the prevalent colour, with deep shading in the fore and rear quarters of the bull; a solid red strain has also been developed.▪ castealso spelled Brahmin, Sanskrit Brāhmaṇa (“Possessor of Brahma”)highest ranking of the four varnas, or social classes, in Hindu India. The elevated position of the Brahmans goes back to the late Vedic period, when the Indo-European-speaking settlers in northern India were already divided into Brahmans, or priests, warriors (of the Kshatriya class), traders (of the Vaishya class), and labourers (of the Sudra class). Since then there has been no fundamental change in their relative position, and the Brahmans still enjoy great prestige and many advantages, though their claim to tangible privileges is no longer officially admitted. The basis of the age-old veneration of Brahmans is the belief that they are inherently of greater ritual purity than members of other castes and that they alone are capable of performing certain vital religious tasks. The study and recitation of the sacred scriptures was traditionally reserved for this spiritual elite, and for centuries all Indian scholarship was in their hands.Because of their high prestige and tradition of education, Brahmans influenced even secular affairs. Although political power lay normally with members of the warrior caste, Brahmans often acted as advisers and ministers of ruling chiefs. During British rule, Brahmans largely retained their role as intellectual leaders—at first in the service of government and later in the nationalist movement. After India achieved independence in 1947, Brahmans continued to lead the Congress Party and to dominate the central government, but in many states a reaction developed. In southern India, where Brahmans were particularly firmly entrenched, an anti-Brahman movement gathered considerable strength. This did not, however, affect their traditional position as priests, ministering both in temples and at domestic rites. The Brahman family priest (purohita) officiates at weddings, funerals, and other ceremonial occasions.The ritual purity of the Brahmans is maintained through the observance of numerous taboos, many of which relate to diet and contact with lower castes. Most Brahman castes are strictly vegetarian, and their members must abstain from certain occupations. They may not plow or handle any impure material, such as leather or hides, but they may farm and do such agricultural work as does not violate these specific restrictions. They may also accept employment as domestic servants; many well-to-do Hindus have Brahman cooks, who are valued because members of all castes may eat the food that they prepare.The Brahmans are divided into 10 main territorial divisions, five of which are associated with the north and five with the south. The northern group consists of Sarasvati, Gauda, Kannauj, Maithil, and Utkal Brahmans, and the southern group comprises Maharashtra, Andhra, Dravida, Karnata, and Malabar Brahmans. See also varna.
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