Is Hinduism a Bhramanical religion ?


This is a question that has been asked of Hindus time and again

First and foremost – Hindusim is not a Bhraminical religion bound to the Bhramin caste. 
Bhramins are priests and officiators for religious ritual.  They were the custodians and teacher of the sacred scriptures.  No more, no less.

As with everything and everyone, once they became custodians of the sacred literature, they put their copyright on it and refused to let others teach or interpret it.  But this literature wasn’t "theirs" in the first place !

Vedas were revealed to the ancient sages.  Contrary to western belief, Vedas were “revealed” to sages just as the old testament or Koran was “revealed” to prophets of the west.  Sages came from all different castes – eg Gayatri mantra was revealed through Vishvamitra, an ex-Kshatriya who renounced his kingdom to become a sage.  These sages lived outside the caste system.  They lived in the forests and many were married. 

Puranas were written by various hands but always attributed to the “Suta-purani”.  By this very nomenclature, it is obvious that these were initially composed, compiled and recited by the Sutas – bards of the charioteers caste.  They had a powerful command over the vernacular, could compose moving verses and were fantastic story tellers.  They wove the myths of India with wisdom of the Vedas to create the Purans – literally – “Ancient Tales”.

Itihass – history of the Aryans was initially formed part of secular literature.  Of the various Itihass, there are two that are considered mega epics – Ramayan and the Mahabharata.  Both of these were written by non-brahmins.  Ramayan was written by a tribal who became "sage Valmiki".  Mahabharata was written by Vyas, son of sage Parashar and fisherwoman Matsya-Gandha.


Over several centuries, Brahmins took over these various sacred and secular literature because they were the teachers and educators of their time.  As a caste, they were devoted to learning and religious practices.  By devoting considerable chunk of their time to only literary pursuits, they became “acknowledged authorities” in the various branches of sacred and secular literature. 

When temple creation became the latest craze amongst the rich and powerful of India (100BC onwards), they turned to the Brahmins to make sure the emple deities were correctly worshiped.  With their considerable command over sacred literature, they were the ideal choice for making sure Gods and Goddess in the new temples were looked after in the correct manner.  Huge literature and rules of ritual were written to govern every aspect of idol worship.

As Brahmins devoted their entire lives to religion and literature, it is natural that they founded a number of creeds and sects of Hinduism.  Ramanuja, Shankara, Madhava and Vallabha are just a few of the many Brahmin preachers and leaders of India.

Even when Brahmins came to control temple worship, not all religious movements were controlled by them.  Though Brahmins may have controlled some institutions, by no means did they control them all.  By their very constitutions, institutions of renounciates were casteless.  Several popular movements – such as those of the Alwars were also casteless.  Many popular saints, men and women, came from low castes – such as Tukaram of Maharastra and Mirabai of Rajasthan.

Even now, in modern India, many preachers, gurus and popular religious leaders are from all the various castes and creeds of India.  Eg – Amritanandamayi (Amma), Morari bapu, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Baba Ramdev – from fisher folk to farmers !

Hinduism is by far the most tolerant of all religions and has the largest of all hearts.  It accepts people as they are and does not strap-jacket them into a particular mould.  Those who do not understand or know its history, stick to the out-dated British notion of equating Hinduism to Bhramanical traditions.




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