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The Brahmanas ( Sanskrit , n., ब्राह्मण, Brāhmaṇa , "that which belongs to the priest") are ritual and sacrificial texts of early Hinduism and are part of the Veda , the holy scriptures of Hinduism . The date of origin is 800 BC. Until 500 BC BC.

The Brahmanas were written by Brahmins who also administered the texts and passed them on orally. They are texts by priests for priests. The Brahmanas are written in Vedic Sanskrit. The Brahmana period is connected with settling down in the Ganges plain . An institutionalization of social hierarchy sets in ( caste system ).

Quite a few Brahmanas also contain an Aranyaka ("forest text") and an Upanishad . The Chandogya Upanishad e.g. B. is part of the Brahmana belonging to Samaveda .

According to their purpose, the Brahmanas are sacrificial and ritual texts. The Shatapatha Brahmana sees the priests as the "gods on earth"; all deities live in the Veda-savvy Brahmana . In the beginning the gods were mortal, through sacrifice they became immortal. So the gods need sacrifice. Karma is considered the sacred act, the action of the priest, through karma one becomes immortal. One is reborn through the sacrifice, and the correct execution of the sacrifice is considered essential to its success. It is for this purpose that the Brahmanas were written and transmitted.

In the Brahmanas, life is viewed as suffering that can only be prevented through the sacrificial ritual. In addition, the term of re-death or re- dying (punarmrityu) appears. Anyone who does not participate in the sacrifice is not considered human, i.e. H. Only the participation in the sacrificial ritual makes a person. Members of the lowest caste , the Shudras , are not considered fit for the victim.

In the phase of the emergence of the Brahmanas, the beginnings of the karma and samsara conception so fundamental to Hinduism are formulated. The four stages of human life (ashrama) are defined: disciple (brahmacarya), grihastha (housekeeper), vanaprastha (those who go into the forest solitude) and sannyasi (those who seek enlightenment).


Brahmanas are assigned to each of the four Vedas . Every Vedic school had its Brahmana.

  • Rigveda
    • Aitareya Brahmana (AB)
    • Kaushitaki Brahmana (KB)
  • Samaveda
    • Jayminiya Brahmana (JB)
    • Pancavimsha Brahmana
    • Shadvimsha Brahmana
  • Yajurveda
    • white Yajurveda:
      • Shatapatha Brahmana (SB)
    • black Yajurveda:
      • Taittiriya Brahmana (TB)
  • Atharvaveda
    • Gopatha Brahmana (GopB)


  • Moritz Winternitz : History of Indian Literature. Leipzig 1905–1922, Vol. I – III. Reprint in English translation: Maurice Winternitz: History of Indian Literature. Motilal Barnarsidass, Delhi 1985, Vol. I-III