brahman ब्रह्मन्

Definition: Is found in many passages of the Rigveda and later in the sense of * priest.’ In many passages of the Rigveda he is referred to as praising the gods; in others the sense of ‘ priest ’ is adequate. In not a few cases the priesthood as a profession is clearly alluded to, nor is there any reason to doubt that in all cases the word has the technical sense of a member of the priesthood. There is, however, considerable doubt as to the number of cases in the Rigveda, where it has the technical sense of the priest who guides the sacrifice generally. It is undoubtedly found in that sense, both Muir and Roth® recognizing instances of its being used thus. Geldner however, is anxious to find that sense in a large number of passages, and insists that the Purohita was normally a Brahman in the narrower sense. Oldenberg, on the other hand, holds with greater probability that in most of the passages adduced Brahman means simply ‘ priest,’ and that the Purohita, who was essentially not a member of the ordinary body of sacri¬ficing priests (Rtvij), was, when he officiated at the sacrifice, more usually the Hotṛ priest, and only later became the Brahman. This change he regards as having taken place when the importance of the hymns declined, and most weight was laid on the functions of the priest who superintended the sacrifice as a whole, and by his magic repaired the flaws in the sacrifice. In the later literature both senses of the word are quite common.


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