Hinduism and Tribal Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Pankaj Jain, Rita Sherma, Madhu Khanna

Brahman

  • Aleksandar Uskokov
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_341-1

Definition

The first principle; the cause of creation, maintenance, and destruction of beings.

Introduction

Brahman is one of the most common ideas in Hinduism, persistent throughout its history, and it may generally be defined as the first cause in the creation of the world. Its canonical definition is given in the Brahma-Sūtra 1.1.2 (derived from the Taittirīya Upaniṣad 3.1.1 and repeated in the Bhāgavata 1.1.1) as that from which proceed the creation, sustenance, and destruction of beings. It is, thus, the most general ontological principle, and in theistic Vedānta it is also identified with personal divinity such as Viṣṇu or Kṛṣṇa.

The earliest uses of Brahman, however, are not as straightforward as our initial paragraph suggests. In the early Vedic corpus, Bráhman (with the acute accent on the first syllable) was solely associated with a hymn that an inspired poet would fashion, or a charm or a sacrificial formula that a priest would use in a ritual, through which the gods would...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of South Asian Languages and CivilizationsUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA