Brahmins

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Brahmin (ब्राह्मण) is a priestly Hindu community in India.

Common Ja Gotras with Brahmans

Ram Sarup Joon[1] writes that ... A number of Jat gotras are found amongst the Brahmins.

Their Profession

Brahmins used to survive on the donations they used to earn from religious rituals called "Daan" by following the religion i.e. "Dharma". They were traditionally responsible for religious rituals in temples, as intermediaries between temple deities and devotees, as well as rite of passage rituals such as solemnising a wedding with hymns and prayers.[2][3] However, Indian texts suggest that Brahmins were often agriculturalists in medieval India.[4]

History

According to Abraham Eraly, "Brahmin as a varna hardly had any presence in historical records before the Gupta Empire era" (3rd century to 6th century CE), and "no Brahmin, no sacrifice, no ritualistic act of any kind ever, even once, is referred to in any Indian text" dated to be from the first century CE or before.[5] Their role as priests and repository of sacred knowledge, as well as their importance in the practice of Vedic Shrauta rituals grew during the Gupta Empire era and thereafter.[6] However, the knowledge about actual history of Brahmins or other varnas of Hinduism in and after 1st-millennium is fragmentary and preliminary, with little that is from verifiable records or archeological evidence, and much that is constructed from a-historical Sanskrit works and fiction. Michael Witzel writes,

"Toward a history of the Brahmins: Current research in the area is fragmentary. The state of our knowledge of this fundamental subject is preliminary, at best. Most Sanksrit works are a-historic or, at least, not especially interested in presenting a chronological account of India's history. When we actually encounter history, such as in Rajatarangini or in the Gopalavamsavali of Nepal, the texts do not deal with brahmins in great detail." — Michael Witzel, Review (1993)[32]


Adi Shankara a proponent of Advaita Vedanta, was born in a Brahmin family, and is credited with unifying and establishing the main currents of thought in Hinduism.[7][8][9]

Historical records, state scholars, suggest that Brahmin varna was not limited to a particular status or priest and teaching profession.[10][11][12]

Historical records from mid 1st millennium CE and later, suggest Brahmins were agriculturalists and warriors in medieval India, quite often instead of as exception.[13][14]

Donkin and other scholars state that Hoysala Empire records frequently mention Brahmin merchants "carried on trade in horses, elephants and pearls" and transported goods throughout medieval India before the 14th-century.[15][16]

The Pali Canon expresses Hindu Brahmins as the most prestigious and elite non-Buddhist figures.[17] These and other Buddhist texts record the livelihood of Brahmins to have included handicrafts and artisan work such as carpentry and architecture.[18][19] Buddhist sources extensively attest, state Greg Bailey and Ian Mabbett, that Brahmins were "supporting themselves not by religious practice, but employment in all manner of secular occupations", in the classical period of India.[20] Some of the Hindu Brahmin occupations mentioned in the Buddhist texts such as Jatakas and Sutta Nipata are very lowly.[21]

According to Haidar and Sardar, in the Islamic sultanates of the Deccan region, and unlike the Mughal Empire, Telugu Niyogi Brahmins served the Muslim sultans in many different roles such as accountants, ministers, revenue administration and in judicial service.[22]

During the days of Maratha Empire in the 17th and 18th century, the occupation of Marathi Brahmins ranged from administration to being warriors in Shivaji's army.[23]

Eric Bellman states that during the Islamic Mughal Empire era Brahmins served as advisers to the Mughals, later to the British Raj.[24] The East India Company recruited from the Brahmin communities of the present day Uttar pradesh and Bihar regions for the Bengal army[25].

Many Brahmins, in other parts of South Asia lived like other varna, engaged in all sorts of professions. Among Nepalese Hindus, for example, Niels Gutschow and Axel Michaels report the actual observed professions of Brahmins from 18th- to early 20th-century included being temple priests, minister, merchants, farmers, potters, masons, carpenters, coppersmiths, stone workers, barbers, gardeners among others.[26]

Other 20th-century surveys, such as in the state of Uttar Pradesh, recorded that the primary occupation of almost all Brahmin families surveyed was neither priestly nor Vedas-related, but like other varnas, ranged from crop farming (80 per cent of Brahmins), dairy, service, labour such as cooking, and other occupations.[27][28] The survey reported that the Brahmin families involved in agriculture as their primary occupation in modern times plough the land themselves, many supplementing their income by selling their labor services to other farmers.[29][30]

References

  1. Ram Sarup Joon, History of the Jats/Chapter VI, p.123
  2. James Lochtefeld (2002), Brahmin, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A–M, Rosen Publishing, ISBN 978-0-8239-3179-8, page 125
  3. GS Ghurye (1969), Caste and Race in India, Popular Prakashan, ISBN 978-81-7154-205-5, pages 15–18
  4. David Shulman (1989), The King and the Clown, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-00834-9, page 111
  5. Abraham Eraly (2011), The First Spring: The Golden Age of India, Penguin, ISBN 978-0-670-08478-4, page 283
  6. Abraham Eraly (2011), The First Spring: The Golden Age of India, Penguin, ISBN 978-0-670-08478-4, page 283
  7. Johannes de Kruijf and Ajaya Sahoo (2014), Indian Transnationalism Online: New Perspectives on Diaspora, ISBN 978-1-4724-1913-2, page 105
  8. Shankara, Student's Encyclopedia Britannia - India (2000), Volume 4, Encyclopaedia Britannica (UK) Publishing, ISBN 978-0-85229-760-5, page 379
  9. Christophe Jaffrelot (1998), The Hindu Nationalist Movement in India, Columbia University Press, ISBN 978-0-231-10335-0, page 2
  10. GS Ghurye (1969), Caste and Race in India, Popular Prakashan, ISBN 978-81-7154-205-5, pages 15–18
  11. David Shulman (1989), The King and the Clown, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-00834-9, page 111
  12. Greg Bailey and Ian Mabbett (2006), The Sociology of Early Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-02521-8, pages 114–115
  13. GS Ghurye (1969), Caste and Race in India, Popular Prakashan, ISBN 978-81-7154-205-5, pages 15–18
  14. David Shulman (1989), The King and the Clown, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-00834-9, page 111
  15. RA Donkin (1998), Beyond Price: Pearls and Pearl-fishing, American Philosophical Society, ISBN 978-0-87169-224-5, page 166
  16. SC Malik (1986), Determinants of Social Status in India, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, ISBN 978-81-208-0073-1, page 121
  17. Greg Bailey and Ian Mabbett (2006), The Sociology of Early Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-02521-8, pages 114–115
  18. Greg Bailey and Ian Mabbett (2006), The Sociology of Early Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-02521-8, pages 114–115
  19. Stella Kramrisch (1994), Exploring India's Sacred Art, Editor: Stella Miller, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 978-81-208-1208-6, pages 60–64
  20. Greg Bailey and Ian Mabbett (2006), The Sociology of Early Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-02521-8, pages 114–115
  21. Greg Bailey and Ian Mabbett (2006), The Sociology of Early Buddhism, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-02521-8, pages 114–115
  22. Haidar, Navina Najat; Sardar, Marika (2015). Sultans of Deccan Indian 1500–1700 (1 ed.). New Haven, CT, USA: Museum Of Metropolitan Art. pp. 11–12. ISBN 978-0-300-21110-8.
  23. Kunte 1972, Chapter 9 - The Moghals In Maharashtra.
  24. Eric Bellman, Reversal of Fortune Isolates India's Brahmins, The Wall Street Journal (Dec. 29, 2007)
  25. Groseclose, Barbara (1994). British sculpture and the Company Raj : church monuments and public statuary in Madras, Calcutta, and Bombay to 1858. Newark, Del.: University of Delaware Press. p. 67. ISBN 0-87413-406-4
  26. Niels Gutschow and Axel Michaels (2008), Bel-Frucht und Lendentuch: Mädchen und Jungen in Bhaktapur Nepal, Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, pages 23 (table), for context and details see 16–36
  27. Noor Mohammad (1992), New Dimensions in Agricultural Geography, Volume 3, Concept Publishers, ISBN 81-7022-403-9, pages 45, 42–48
  28. Ramesh Bairy (2010), Being Brahmin, Being Modern, Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-58576-7, pages 86–89
  29. Noor Mohammad (1992), New Dimensions in Agricultural Geography, Volume 3, Concept Publishers, ISBN 81-7022-403-9, pages 45, 42–48
  30. G Shah (2004), Caste and Democratic Politics in India, Anthem, ISBN 978-1-84331-085-3, page 40