Hinduism and Tribal Religions

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


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


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


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...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.
    Griswold HDW (1900) Brahman: a study in the history of indian philosophy. The Macmillan Company, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Brereton J (2004) Bráhman, Brahmán, and Sacrificer. In: Griffiths A, Houben JEM (eds) The vedas: text, language & ritual. Egbert Forsten, Groningen, pp 325–344Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Gonda J (1950) Notes on Brahman. J.L. Beyers, UtrechtGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Olivelle P (1998) The early Upaniṣads. Oxford University Press, Oxford/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Carman JB (1974) The theology of Rāmānuja: an essay in interreligious understanding. Yale Publications in Religion 18. Yale University Press, New Haven/LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Raghavachar SS (1959) Śrīmad-Viṣṇu-Tattva-Vinirṇaya of Śrī Madhvācārya. Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, MangaloreGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Sharma BNK (1962) Philosophy of Śrī Madhvācārya. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, BombayGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sharma BNK (1997) Madhva’s teachings in his own words. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, MumbaiGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bose R (2004) Vedānta-Pārijāta-Saurabha of Nimbārka and Vedānta-Kaustubha of Śrīnivāsa: English translation. Munshiram Manoharlal, DelhiGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    van Buitenen JAB (1981) The Bhagavad-Gītā in the Mahābhārata. University of Chicago Press, Chicago/LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Mādhavānanda S (1950) The Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad with the commentary of Śaṅkarācārya [BAUBh]. Advaita Ashrama, MayavatiGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Swami G (1937) Eight Upaniṣads: volume one (Īśā, Kena, Kaṭha, Taittirīya [TUBh]). With the commentary of Śaṅkarācārya. Advaita Ashrama, CalcuttaGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Swami G (1965) Brahma-Sūtra-Bhāṣya of Śrī Śaṅkarācārya [BSBh]. Advaita Ashrama, CalcuttaGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

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