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Brahmin facts for kids

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Brahmin priest
A Brahmana.
Tamil Smartha Brahman
Smarta Brahmin

Brahmin is a part of the caste system in Hinduism. Brahmins are the highest and most respected caste of people. In ancient India Brahmins were people who read the complete Upanishad Brahmanak. They were teachers, warriors, doctors, scholars, or religious people in the past. They are called Dwij because they guided others toward enlightenment.

Both Buddhist and Brahmanical literature define "Brahmin" not in terms of family of birth, but in terms of personal qualities. Brahmin was someone who was good and virtuous, not just someone of priestly class.

There are many subgroups in Brahmins based on demography. Rishiswar, Sanadhya, Kanyakubj, Telang, Saryupareen, Bhumihar, Goswami, Tyagi, and Saraswati are the main streams of Brahmin.

Caste system

The caste system classified people by jobs. The people in this caste were the most prestigious and elite non-Buddhist figures. They were mostly priests and teachers. However, some sources mention Brahmins as being farmers, handicraft workers and artisans such as carpentry and architecture.

Historical records from mid 1st millennium CE and later, suggest Brahmins were agriculturalists and warriors in medieval India. Brahmins are sometimes mentioned as merchants who "carried on trade in horses, elephants and pearls" and transported goods throughout medieval India before the 14th-century.


Ancient Indian texts describe the duties and role of Brahmins. According to them, Brahmins were men of wisdom and virtues. They were expected to perform all six Vedic duties as opposed to other twice-borns who performed three. The Brahmins performed rituals such as solemnising a wedding with hymns and prayers. Most Brahmins practiced vegetarianism.

Vedic duties of twice-born Varnas
(Study Vedas)
(performing sacrifice for
one's own benefit)
Giving Gifts
Teaching Vedas
Acting as Priest
for sacrifice
Pratigraha (accepting gifts)
Kshatriya No No No
Vaishya No No No


Brahmins weren't mentioned in any Indian texts between third century BCE and the late first century CE. This doesn't mean that Brahmanical culture did not exist at that time. It is likely that it was confined to rural folk and, as a result, went unrecorded.

Brahmins' role as priests and repository of sacred knowledge, as well as their importance in the practice of Vedic rituals, grew during the Gupta Empire.

Ram Mohan Roy
Raja Ram Mohan Roy, a Brahmin, who founded Brahmo Samaj

Prominent Brahmins

Chanakya, a Brahmin born in 375 BCE, was an ancient Indian polymath who was active as a teacher, author, strategist, philosopher, economist, jurist, royal advisor, who assisted the first Mauryan emperor Chandragupta Maurya in his rise to power and is widely credited for having played an important role in the establishment of the Maurya Empire.

Many of the prominent thinkers and earliest champions of the Bhakti movement were Brahmins. Among them were Ramanuja, Nimbarka, Vallabha and Madhvacharya of Vaishnavism, Ramananda, another devotional poet sant.

Born in a Brahmin family, Ramananda welcomed everyone to spiritual pursuits without discriminating anyone by gender, class, caste or religion (such as Muslims). He composed his spiritual message in poems, using widely spoken vernacular language rather than Sanskrit, to make it widely accessible. The Hindu tradition recognises him as the founder of the Hindu Ramanandi Sampradaya, the largest monastic renunciant community in Asia in modern times.

Other medieval era Brahmins included Andal (9th-century female poet), Basava (12th-century Lingayatism), Dnyaneshwar (13th-century Bhakti poet), Vallabha Acharya (16th-century Vaishnava poet), Chaitanya Mahaprabhu(14th-century Vaishnava saint) were among others.

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Brahmán (casta) para niños

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