Brahmana, aka: Brāhmaṇa, Brahmaṇa; 17 Definition(s)


Brahmana means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism


Brahmana in Purana glossary... « previous · [B] · next »

Brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण) is the name of a caste (varṇa) mentioned in the Nīlamatapurāṇa.—The Brāhmaṇas were entrusted with the duty of preserving the intellectual and spiritual culture of the society. Of course one cannot dogmatise whether the Brāhmaṇas carried on Vedic studies, in the period under reference, with the same spirit of selflessness as was expected of them in earlier times or not, it seems certain that for officiating as priests at the sacrifices they had to study the Vedas and the Sūtras dealing with ritualism. In connection with the two sacrifices viz. Koṭihoma and Lakṣahoma, the Nīlamata refers to the Ātharvaṇas and the Kalpas. The mantras dedicated to Viṣṇu, Śakra, Savitā, Brahmā, Rudra and Varuṇa are also referred to.

Source: Nilamata Purana: a cultural and literary study

1) Brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण).—(BRĀHMIN). Origin. Brāhmaṇas, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas, and Śūdras are the caturvarṇas or the four castes. The Purāṇas say that the four castes originated from different parts of the body of Brahmā. See Manusmṛti, Chapter 1, Stanza 87

"sarvasyāsya tu sargasya guptyarthaṃ sa mahādyutiḥ mukhabāhūrūpajjānāṃ pṛthakkarmāṇyakalpayat."

(With a view to sustain the world, Brahmā ordered activities, for the four castes (Brāhmaṇa Kṣatriya, Vaiśya, and Śūdra) who were born from his face, arms, thighs and feet). From this statement it is seen that the Brāhmaṇas were born from the face, Kṣatriyas from the arms, Vaiśyas from the thighs and Sūdras from the feet of Brahmā. The activities of a Brāhmaṇa. The duties of a Brāhmaṇa are, performing sacrifice, and encouraging others to perform sacrifice, learning Vedas and teaching Vedas, giving gifts and getting remuneration. A Brāhmaṇa has two births in one life. Till the time of investiture with the sacred string is one birth and from that period onwards is the second birth. So a Brāhmaṇa is called 'dvija' or twice-born.

The Brāhmaṇas were allowed to do the works of agriculture, keeping cows, trade and commerce and Kusīda (money-lending). Living on the interest of money giving out as loan is Kusīda. But they should not trade on products from cow, jaggery, salt, lac and flesh. The suffix 'Śarmā' should be added to the name of Brāhmaṇa. A Brāhmaṇa can have four wives. (See full article at Story of Brāhmaṇa from the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani)

2) Brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण).—See Veda.

Source: Puranic Encyclopaedia

1) Brahmaṇa (ब्रह्मण).—A Kādraveya Nāga.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 7. 36.

2a) Brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण).—Came out from the face of the Puruṣa; Brahmavādins; a portion of Hari's body;1 considered to be equal to Gods, spoken so by Viṣṇu; views of Kṛṣṇa on; none equal to their greatness;2 an embodiment of the Vedas and deserving of veneration and worship; the mouth of Hari as embodying all the Vedas; disregard to them would result in the defacement of the Vedic teachings and Vedic Gods;3 characteristics of; by birth a Brāhmaṇa is a guru; to live by studying the Vedas; some devoted to karma, some to tapas, some to Vedic studies, some to teaching and others to jñāna and yoga;4 Kṛṣṇa on the need for keeping them contented;5 Kṛṣṇa on their property; however small it should not be touched, but should be considered poison since its enjoyment leads to shortness of life and hell;6 their words always become true;7 showed to Nābhi Yajñeśa himseslf;8 helped Ṛṣabha in his administration;9 Kaṃsa decided to kill all of them and ordered his men to that effect.10 Prohibited from agriculture, trade, tending of cattle and from selling the Vedas; from taking liquor but may take meat in times of danger.11 in Kali, in the service of Śūdras and Mlecchas and become Śivasūlas;12 adopt Śūdra practices.13

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa II. 1. 37; VIII. 5. 41; X. 4. 39; Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 6. 6, 34.
  • 2) Bhāgavata-purāṇa III. 16. 4-11; VII. 14. 42; X. 81. 39, 41; V. 5. 23.
  • 3) Ib. III. 16. 23-4; VIII. 16. 9; X. 64. 32-43; 86. 53-57.
  • 4) Ib. VII. 11. 21; 15. 1; X. 8. 6; 24. 20; XI. 17. 16.
  • 5) Ib. X. 52. 30-34.
  • 6) Ib. X. 64. 32-43.
  • 7) Ib. V. 3. 17.
  • 8) Ib. V. 4. 7.
  • 9) Ib. V. 4. 16.
  • 10) Ib. X. 4. 39-45.
  • 11) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 29. 55; III. 15. 45.
  • 12) Ib. II. 31. 40-50.
  • 13) Vāyu-purāṇa 58. 41.

2b) Superior to all castes; anger of, more troublesome than even a venomous serpent and all burning fire and more dreadful than a firearm;1 for, it results in wholesale destruction;2 to honour Brāhmaṇas is useful; to dishonour them is dangerous;3 warriors with Pramati god incarnate of Kali;4 observe ten day's pollution for father's death;5 created from face;6 those who spoke the truth became Brāhmaṇas; teaching, sacrifice, receiving and making of gifts, their chief duties; go to the abode of Brahmā;7 can take to Vaiśya and Kṣatriya duties;8 established in the kingdom of Māghada.9

  • 1) Vāyu-purāṇa 27. 19; 30. 232; 45. 83; 54. 111; 59. 141; 100. 246; 101. 5, 352; 104. 13.
  • 2) Matsya-purāṇa 30. 23-25. 30.
  • 3) Ib. 93. 80.
  • 4) Ib. 114. 12; 144. 53.
  • 5) Ib. 18. 2.
  • 6) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa I. 5. 108.
  • 7) Ib. II. 7. 155, 161 and 165.
  • 8) Viṣṇu-purāṇa III. 8. 22-5, 39.
  • 9) Ib. IV. 24. 62.

2c) A branch of the Vedic literature with ten vidhis;1 starts in dvāpara.2

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 31. 14; 33. 1, 12; 35. 73; Vāyu-purāṇa 59. 132-9; 68. 12-14.
  • 2) Matsya-purāṇa 144. 13.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण).—The Brāhmaṇas caste should always be represented by a reddish yellow (gaura) color when painting the limbs (aṅgaracanā), according to Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 23. The painting is a component of nepathya (costumes and make-up) and is to be done in accordance with the science of āhāryābhinaya (extraneous representation).

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

One of the Hands denoting the Four Castes.—Brāhmaṇa: Śikhara with both hands, as if holding the sacred thread, the right hand moved to and fro.

Source: The mirror of gesture (abhinaya-darpana)
Natyashastra book cover
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Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, e.g., theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing dramatic plays (nataka) and poetic works (kavya).

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Mīmāṃsā (school of philosophy)

Brahmana in Mimamsa glossary... « previous · [B] · next »

Brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण) refers to the second section of Vedic literature.—The Brāhmaṇas and Araṇyakas are ritual texts based upon the practical application and usage of the Saṃhita portion in rituals (yajñas).

Source: Srimatham: Mīmāṃsa: The Study of Hindu Exegesis
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Mimamsa (मीमांसा, mīmāṃsā) refers to one of the six orthodox Hindu schools of philosophy, emphasizing the nature of dharma and the philosophy of language. The literature in this school is also known for its in-depth study of ritual actions and social duties.

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Vaishnavism (Vaishava dharma)

Brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण).—The brāhmaṇas are the intellectuals who can understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They are always engaged in the cultivation of knowledge. It does not matter whether one is born in India or outside India. The divisions of brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra are natural divisions within society. Indeed, everyone has a prescribed duty according to the varṇāśrama-dharma. Those who properly execute their prescribed duties live peacefully and are not disturbed by material conditions.

Source: Prabhupada Books: Sri Caitanya Caritamrta
Vaishnavism book cover
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Vaishnava (वैष्णव, vaiṣṇava) or vaishnavism (vaiṣṇavism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshipping Vishnu as the supreme Lord. Similar to the Shaktism and Shaivism traditions, Vaishnavism also developed as an individual movement, famous for its exposition of the dashavatara (‘ten avatars of Vishnu’).

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General definition (in Hinduism)

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Brahmanas are the priests and scholars in the classification according to the Varna system. They are said to have sprang forth from the face of the primordial man Purusha, who was sacrificed as an offering to himself. They are the highest of the four classes.

Source: Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

The Brahmana portion of the Veda deals with Karma kānda. Specifically, out of the four Vedas, Yajurveda is the primary Veda concerned with yajña. It is called Yajurveda because it is composed of Yajus or the mantras used for yajña.

Source: Hindupedia: The Hindu Encyclopedia

A brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण) is a person with natural aptitude for learning, analyzing, researching, and teaching.

Source: India Facts: Exploring the World of Varna

In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Brahmana in Mahayana glossary... « previous · [B] · next »

Brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण) according to the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter 32.—The Buddha lived in the Indian kingdoms where there were always many Brahmins in whose religion virtuous men were all reborn among the Brahmadevas. The gods who have cut through sexual desire (rāga) are all called Brahmā, and it is said that these Brahmās dwell in the form realm (rūpadhātu). And so the fact of having cut through sexual desire is called brahmacarya ‘celibacy’ and those who have cut through are called Brāhmaṇas.

The Brāhmaṇas represents one of the seven destination of rebirths in kāmadhātu, according to chapter XLIX, “someone else is attached to books of knowledge (the Vedas?) and does not torment beings: by his generosity and morality, he is reborn in the families of the Brāhmaṇas”.

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
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Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

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General definition (in Buddhism)

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One of the four types of Vedic literature in ancient India. The portion of the Veda that deals with ceremony and rituals.Source: Buddhist Door: Glossary

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

Brahmana in Pali glossary... « previous · [B] · next »

brāhmaṇa : (m.) a man of the Brahman caste.

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

1) Brāhmaṇa, 2 (nt.) (for brahmañña) state of a true brahman, “holiness supreme" Th. 1, 631. (Page 495)

2) Brāhmaṇa, 1 (fr. brahma; cp. Vedic brāhmaṇa, der. fr. brahmán) a member of the Brahman caste; a Br. teacher. In the Buddhist terminology also used for a man leading a pure, sinless & ascetic life, often even syn. with arahant.—On brāhmaṇas as a caste & their representation in the Jātaka collection see Fick, Sociale Gliederung; esp. ch. 8, pp. 117—162.—Var. fanciful etymologies, consisting of a word-play, in P. definitions are e.g. “sattannaṃ dhammānaṃ bāhitattā br. " (like def. of bhikkhu) Nd1 86=Nd2 464a (cp. Sn. 519); ye keci bho-vādikā Nd1 249=Nd2 464b; brahā — sukhavihāra — jhāna — jhāyin Miln. 226; pāpaṃ bāhesuṃ D. III, 94; bāhita-pāpattā br. DhA. III, 84; ariyā bāhita-pāpattā br. DA. I, 244.—pl. brāhmaṇāse Sn. 1079 sq.—Var. refQ in the Canon to all meanings of the term: D. I, 90, 94, 104, 119 sq. , 136 (mahāsālā), 150 (°dūta), 247; III, 44 sq. , 61, 83 sq. , 94 sq. (origin of), 147, 170, 258 (°mahāsālā), 270; M. I, 271 (°karaṇā dhammā), 280; II, 84, 148, 177; III, 60, 270 (a bhikkhu addressed as br.); S. I, 47, 54, 94 sq. , 99 (°kumāra), 117, 125, 160 sq. ; II, 77, 259; IV, 157; V, 194; A. I, 66, 110, 163 (tevijjā); 166; II, 176; III, 221 sq. (brāhmaṇa-vagga); It. 57 sq. , 60, 98, 101; J. III, 194; IV, 9; VI, 521 sq. ; Vbh. 393 sq. For br. with the meaning “arahant" see also: Vin. I, 3; II, 156 (br. parinibbuta); Th. 1, 140, 221 (brahma-bandhu pure āsiṃ, idāni kho’mhi brāhmaṇo); Dh. 383 sq. ; Sn. passim (e.g. v. 142 kammanā hoti brāhmaṇo; 284 sq.); J. IV, 302 sq. ; Miln. 225. Ten kinds of Br. are pronounced to be apetā brahmaññā degraded fr. brahmanship J. IV, 361 sq. Diff. schools of br. teachers are enumd at D. I, 237 sq. (Tevijja Sutta).—brāhmaṇānaṃ pubbakā isayo mantānaṃ kattāro “the ten inspired Seers of old times, who composed the Vedic hymns"; their names are Aṭṭhaka, Vāmaka, Vāmadeva, Vessāmitta, Yamataggi, Aṅgirasa, Bhāradvāja, Vāseṭṭha, Kassapa, Bhagu Vin. I, 245; D. I, 104; A. III, 224; IV, 61; cp. VvA. 265.—f. brāhmaṇī (n. or adj.) the wife of a brāhmaṇa D. I, 193; J. V, 127 (of a purohita or high priest); DhA. I, 33; IV, 176; PvA. 55, 61, 64. Freq. in combn brāhmaṇī pajā this generation of brāhmaṇas, e.g. D. I, 249; A. I, 260; II, 23 (see pajā). —ibbhā Brahmins & Vaiśyas J. VI, 228 sq. —kumārikā a brahmin young girl J. III, 93. —kula a br. clan or family J. II, 85, 394, 411; III, 147, 352; PvA. 21, 61. —gahapatikā priests & laymen (“clerk & yeoman" Rh. D. in S. B. E. XI. 258) D. II, 178; III, 148, 153, 170 sq. ; S. I, 59, 184; A. I, 110; Vin. I, 35; J. I, 83. —gāma a br. village Vin. I, 197; D. I, 87, 127; S. I, 111; J. II, 368; III, 293; IV, 276. —dhamma duty of a br. ; see on contrast between Brahmaṇic & Buddhist view J. IV, 301 sq. , cp. also SnA 312—325 (br. -dhammika-suta) & Fick, l. c. 124. —putta son of a br. PvA. 62. —bhojana giving food (alms) to brahmans Vin. I, 44. —māṇava a young brahmin J. IV, 391. —rūpa (in) form of a br. PvA. 63. —vaḍḍhakī a br. carpenter J. IV, 207. —vaṇṇin having the appearance of a brahmin Cp. X. 10. —vācanaka a br. disputation, some sort of elocution show J. I, 318; IV, 391. —vāṭaka circle of brahmins DhA. IV, 177 (v. l. °vādaka). —vāṇija a br. merchant PvA. 113. —sacca a brahmanic (i.e. standard, holy) truth A. II, 176 (where the Buddha sets forth 4 such br.—saccāni, diff. from the usual 4 ariyasaccāni). (Page 494)

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
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Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

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Marathi-English dictionary

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brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण).—m (S) The first of the four great divisions of the Hindu body, or an individual of it, a Brahman. This word is prefixed to certain words signifying things of which there are varieties, in order to designate the white, light, or fair variety. Thus prefixed to hirā it expresses Diamond of the first water; to bhāṅga, sabajī, pimpaḷa &c., it expresses Bhang &c. of the purest, whitest, lightest kind. This fairness of the Brahmanical class has given rise to the Pr. kāḷā brāhmaṇa gōrā śūdra hyāṃsa pāhūna kāmpē rudra. The tribes and distinctions of the Brahman are very numerous, and the lines of demarcation or particulars of distinction are but faintly, and but by few, traced or known. Many, yet surely not all, of these designations appear in marginal order, and some are shown under terms of classification (See pañcagauḍa & pañcadraviḍa): here we add some of the commonest found at Ratnagiri:--kapi, kauṃ- ḍinya, kauśika, bhāradvāja, gārgya, bābhravya, kāśyapa, śāṇḍilya, nityundana, vatsa, atri, vāsiṣṭha, viṣṇuvardhana, jāmadagnya. brā0 ghālaṇēṃ (Elliptically for brāhmaṇāṃsa bhōjana ghālaṇēṃ) To set food before Brahmans.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण).—m The first of the four great divisions of the Hindu body or an in- dividual of it. This word is prefixed to certain words in order to designate the white light or fair variety.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

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Brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण).—a. (-ṇī f.) [ब्रह्म वेदं शुद्धं चैतन्यं वा वेत्त्वधीते वा अण् (brahma vedaṃ śuddhaṃ caitanyaṃ vā vettvadhīte vā aṇ)]

1) Belonging to a Brāhmaṇa.

2) Befitting a Brāhmaṇa.

3) Given by a Brāhmaṇa.

4) Relating to religious worship.

5) One who knows Brahma.

-ṇaḥ 1 A man belonging to the first of the four original castes of the Hindus, a Brāhmaṇa (born from the mouth of the puruṣa); ब्राह्मणोऽस्य मुखमासीत् (brāhmaṇo'sya mukhamāsīt) Rv.1.9. 12; Ms.1.31,96; (janmanā brāhmaṇo jñeyaḥ saṃskārairdvija ucyate | vidyayā yāti vipratvaṃ tribhiḥ śrotriya ucyate || or jātyā kulena vṛttena svādhyāyena śrutena ca | ebhiryukto hi yastiṣṭhennityaṃ sa dvija ucyate ||).

2) A priest, theologian.

3) An epithet of Agni.

4) Name of the twentyeighth Nakṣatra.

-ṇam 1 An assemblage or society of Brāhmaṇas.

2) That portion of the Veda which states rules for the employment of the hymns at the various sacrifices, their origin and detailed explanation, with sometimes lengthy illustrations in the shape of legends or stories. It is distinct from the Mantra portion of the Veda.

3) Name of that class of the Vedic works which contain the Brāhmaṇa portion (regarded as Śruti or part of the revelation like the hymns themselves). Each of the four Vedas has its own Brāhmaṇa or Brāhmaṇas :-ऐतरेय (aitareya) or आश्व- लायन (āśva- lāyana) and कौषीतकी (kauṣītakī) or सांख्यायन (sāṃkhyāyana) belonging to the Ṛigveda; शतपथ (śatapatha) to the Yajurveda, पञ्चविंश (pañcaviṃśa) and षड्विंश (ṣaḍviṃśa) and six more to the Sāmaveda, and गोपथ (gopatha) to the Atharvaveda.

4) The Soma vessel of the Brahman priest.

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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Relevant definitions

Search found 1688 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

Mahābrāhmaṇa (महाब्राह्मण).—1) a great or learned Brāhmaṇa. 2) a low or contemptible Brāhmaṇa. ...
Brāhmaṇacāṇḍāla (ब्राह्मणचाण्डाल).—1) a degraded or outcast Brāhmaṇa; यथा ब्राह्मणचाण्डालः पूर्...
Devabrāhmaṇa (देवब्राह्मण).—1) a Brāhmaṇa who lives on the proceeds of a temple. 2) a venerable...
Śatapathabrāhmaṇa (शतपथब्राह्मण) or “Brahmana of one-hundred paths”, abbreviated ŚB, is one of ...
Brāhmaṇavācana (ब्राह्मणवाचन).—the recitation of benedictions. Derivable forms: brāhmaṇavācanam...
Brāhmaṇayaṣṭikā (ब्राह्मणयष्टिका).—Clerodendrum Siphonantus (Mar. bhāraṃga). Brāhmaṇayaṣṭikā is...
Brāhmaṇayaṣṭī (ब्राह्मणयष्टी).—Clerodendrum Siphonantus (Mar. bhāraṃga). Brāhmaṇayaṣṭī is a San...
Bhayabrāhmaṇa (भयब्राह्मण).—a timid Brāhmaṇa, a Brāhmaṇa who, to save himself from danger, decl...
Brāhmaṇabruva (ब्राह्मणब्रुव).—one who pretends to be a Brāhmaṇa, one who is a Brāhmaṇa only in...
Śiva-Brāhmaṇa.—(EI 25; SITI), a Śaiva Brāhmaṇa; the priest of a Śiva temple; also called Ādi-śa...
Jātibrāhmaṇa (जातिब्राह्मण).—a Brāhmaṇa only by birth, but not by knowledge or religious auster...
Brāhmaṇabhāva (ब्राह्मणभाव).—the rank or condition of a Brāhmaṇa. Derivable forms: brāhmaṇabhāv...
Brāhmaṇavadha (ब्राह्मणवध).—the murder of a Brāhmaṇa, Brahmanicide. Derivable forms: brāhmaṇava...
Brāhmaṇadravya (ब्राह्मणद्रव्य).—a Brāhmaṇa's property. Derivable forms: brāhmaṇadravyam (ब्राह...
Brāhmaṇajāti (ब्राह्मणजाति).—f. the Brāhmaṇa caste. Derivable forms: brāhmaṇajātiḥ (ब्राह्मणजात...

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