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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Brāhmaṇa

A Sanskrit word with several connotations.

1. Liturgical texts dealing with and explaining the significance of the different rituals found in the VEDAS or samhitas (collections of MANTRAS most of which sing the praises of one or another personal god; they are also guide books for the performance of sacrificial rites). They are said to have been written in 900-700 BCE. Helena P. BLAVATSKY considers the Brāhmaṇas as preeminently occult works, hence used purposely as blinds. They were allowed to survive for public use and property only because they were and are absolutely unintelligible to the masses (SD I:68).

2. A member of the highest of the four Indian castes (varṇas), often written “brahmin.” Originally the name implied one who understood or dealt spiritually with BRAHMAN, i.e., a priest, presumably highly spiritual and having memorized a portion of the VEDAS. Some males of this caste became teachers (gurus) who passed on their knowledge to male students. In later times, their caste status continued, but few brahmins actually attained to the spiritual status their name implied and most engaged in secular occupations other than teaching. In present-day India even caste exclusiveness is beginning to break down, especially in the larger cities. And, as a secular society, the Indian government is trying to abolish the caste system, although this effort has met with considerable opposition in rural areas.

3. In The Secret Doctrine, H. P. Blavatsky, refers to Brāmaṇas as exalted divine beings identifying them with the terrestrial “Bodhisattvas . . . of the heavenly DHYĀNI-BUDDHAS. Both as primordial, intelligent ‘Elements,’ become the creators or the emanators of the MONADS destined to become human in that cycle.” She writes, “These Brāhmaṇas, the creators of the world, are born here (on earth) again and again.” Whatever is produced from them is dissolved in due time in those very five great elements (the five, or rather seven, Dhyāni-Buddhas, also called “Elements” of mankind), like billows in the ocean (SD I:571-572).

P.S.H./R.W.B.

 

 

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