Brahmanas

BrahmanasThe Brahmanas are part of the Hindu shruti literature. They are commentaries on the four Vedas, detailing the proper performance of rituals. Their principal concern is with the sacrifice.

Each Vedic school had its own Brahmana, and it is not known how many of these texts existed during the Mahajanapadas period. A total of 19 Brahmanas are still existing at least in their entirety: two associated with the Rigveda, six with the Yajurveda, ten with the Samaveda and one with the Atharvaveda. Additionally, there are a handful of fragmentarily preserved texts which vary greatly in length.

The Brahmanas are glosses on the mythology, philosophy and rituals of the Vedas. Whereas the Rigveda expressed uncertainty and was not dogmatic, the Brahmanas express confidence in the infallible power of the mantras. The Brahmanas hold the view that, if expressed correctly, the texts will not fail. They were composed during a period of urbanization and considerable social change. During the first millennium BCE the people who composed the Veda gradually abandoned their nomadic lifestyle and began to build. During this time the rituals became more complex, giving rise to developments in mathematics, geometry, animal anatomy and grammar.

The contents of the Brahmanas are arranged into two categories. One is called Vidhi, or “precepts.” These are the rules and regulations for the performance of rituals. The other category is the Arthavada, or “explanations of meaning.”

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