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{{Use dmy dates|date=April 2015}}{{EngvarB|date=April 2015}}{{distinguish|text=Brahma (the Hindu god), Brahmana (a layer of text in the Vedas), Brahmanism (the religion), or Brahmin (the caste-varna)}}{{Other uses}}File:Wassertropfen.jpg|right|thumb|A drop in the ocean: an analogy for Ātman merging in Brahman]]{{Hinduism small}}In Hinduism, Brahman connotes the highest Universal Principle, the Ultimate Reality in the universe.BOOK,weblink The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Lochtefeld, James G., The Rosen Publishing Group, 2002, 978-0823931798, 1, 122, P. T. Raju (2006), Idealistic Thought of India, Routledge, {{ISBN|978-1406732627}}, page 426 and Conclusion chapter part XII{{Sfn|Fowler|2002|pp=49–55 (in Upanishads), 318–319 (in Vishistadvaita), 246–248 and 252–255 (in Advaita), 342–343 (in Dvaita), 175–176 (in Samkhya-Yoga)}} In major schools of Hindu philosophy, it is the material, efficient, formal and final cause of all that exists.Mariasusai Dhavamony (2002), Hindu-Christian Dialogue: Theological Soundings and Perspectives, Rodopi Press, {{ISBN|978-9042015104}}, pages 43–44For dualism school of Hinduism, see: Francis X. Clooney (2010), Hindu God, Christian God: How Reason Helps Break Down the Boundaries between Religions, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0199738724}}, pages 51–58, 111–115;For monist school of Hinduism, see: B. Martinez-Bedard (2006), Types of Causes in Aristotle and Sankara, Thesis – Department of Religious Studies (Advisors: Kathryn McClymond and Sandra Dwyer), Georgia State University, pages 18–35 It is the pervasive, genderless, infinite, eternal truth and bliss which does not change, yet is the cause of all changes.{{Sfn|Fowler|2002|pp=49–55 (in Upanishads), 318–319 (in Vishistadvaita), 246–248 and 252–255 (in Advaita), 342–343 (in Dvaita), 175–176 (in Samkhya-Yoga)}} BOOK,weblink World Religions: A Voyage of Discovery, Brodd, Jeffrey, Saint Mary's Press, 2009, 978-0884899976, 3rd, 43–47, Brahman as a metaphysical concept is the single binding unity behind diversity in all that exists in the universe.{{Sfn|Fowler|2002|pp=50–53}}Brahman is a Vedic Sanskrit word, and it is conceptualized in Hinduism, states Paul Deussen, as the "creative principle which lies realized in the whole world".Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120814684}}, page 91 Brahman is a key concept found in the Vedas, and it is extensively discussed in the early Upanishads.Stephen Philips (1998), Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Brahman to Derrida (Editor; Edward Craig), Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0415187077}}, pages 1–4 The Vedas conceptualize Brahman as the Cosmic Principle.BOOK, Between Jerusalem and Benares: Comparative Studies in Judaism and Hinduism, Goodman, Hananya, State University of New York Press, 1994, 978-0791417164, 121, In the Upanishads, it has been variously described as Sat-cit-ānanda (truth-consciousness-bliss){{sfn|Raju|1992|p=228}}Eliot Deutsch (1980), Advaita Vedanta : A Philosophical Reconstruction, University of Hawaii Press, {{ISBN|978-0824802714}}, Chapter 1 and as the unchanging, permanent, highest reality.{{Sfn|Fowler|2002|pp=53–55}}{{sfn|Potter|2008|pp=6–7}}{{refn|group=note|"not sublatable",{{sfn|Potter|2008|pp=6–7}} the final element in a dialectical process which cannot be eliminated or annihilated (German: "aufheben").}}{{refn|group=note|It is also defined as:
  • The unchanging, infinite, immanent, and transcendent reality which is the Divine Ground of all matter, energy, time, space, being, and everything beyond in this Universe; that is the one supreme, universal spirit.BOOK, Brodd, Jeffrey, World Religions, Saint Mary's Press, 2003, Winona, Minnesota, 978-0-88489-725-5,
  • The one supreme, all pervading Spirit that is the origin and support of the phenomenal universe.John Bowker (ed.)(2012), The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, Oxford University Press.weblink}}
Brahman is discussed in Hindu texts with the concept of Atman (Self),{{Sfn|Fowler|2002|pp=49–53}} personal,{{refn|group=note|Saguna Brahman, with qualities}} impersonal{{refn|group=note|Nirguna Brahman, without qualities}} or Para Brahman,{{refn|group=note|Supreme}} or in various combinations of these qualities depending on the philosophical school.Klaus K. Klostermaier (2007), A Survey of Hinduism, Third Edition, State University of New York Press, {{ISBN|978-0791470824}}, Chapter 12: Atman and Brahman – Self and All In dualistic schools of Hinduism such as the theistic Dvaita Vedanta, Brahman is different from Atman (soul) in each being.Michael Myers (2000), Brahman: A Comparative Theology, Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0700712571}}, pages 124–127Thomas Padiyath (2014), The Metaphysics of Becoming, De Gruyter, {{ISBN|978-3110342550}}, pages 155–157 In non-dual schools such as the Advaita Vedanta, Brahman is identical to the Atman, is everywhere and inside each living being, and there is connected spiritual oneness in all existence.Arvind Sharma (2007), Advaita Vedānta: An Introduction, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120820272}}, pages 19–40, 53–58, 79–86John E. Welshons (2009), One Soul, One Love, One Heart, New World Library, {{ISBN|978-1577315889}}, pages 17–18

Etymology and related terms

Sanskrit Brahman (an n-stem, nominative {{IAST|bráhmā}}) from a root {{IAST|bṛh}}- "to swell, expand, grow, enlarge" is a neuter noun to be distinguished from the masculine {{IAST|brahmán}}—denoting a person associated with Brahman, and from Brahmā, the creator God in the Hindu Trinity, the Trimurti. Brahman is thus a gender-neutral concept that implies greater impersonality than masculine or feminine conceptions of the deity. Brahman is referred to as the supreme self. Puligandla states it as "the unchanging reality amidst and beyond the world",{{sfn|Puligandla|1997|p=222}} while Sinar states Brahman is a concept that "cannot be exactly defined".{{sfn|Sinari|2000|p=384}}In Vedic Sanskrit:
  • Brahma (ब्रह्म) (nominative singular), brahman (ब्रह्मन्) (stem) (neuterNot Masculine or Feminine (see Grammatical gender). gender) from root bá¹›h-, means "to be or make firm, strong, solid, expand, promote".Jan Gonda (1962), Some Notes on the Study of Ancient-Indian Religious Terminology, History of Religions, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Winter, 1962), pages 268–269
  • Brahmana (ब्रह्मन) (nominative singular, never plural), from stems brha (to make firm, strong, expand) + Sanskrit -man- from Indo-European root -men- which denotes some manifest form of "definite power, inherent firmness, supporting or fundamental principle".
In later Sanskrit usage:
  • Brahma (ब्रह्म) (nominative singular), brahman (stem) (neuter gender) means the concept of the transcendent and immanent ultimate reality, Supreme Cosmic Spirit in Hinduism. The concept is central to Hindu philosophy, especially Vedanta; this is discussed below. Brahm is another variant of Brahman.
  • Brahmā (ब्रह्मा) (nominative singlular), Brahman (ब्रह्मन्) (stem) (masculine gender), means the deity or deva Prajāpati Brahmā. He is one of the members of the Hindu trinity and associated with creation, but does not have a cult in present-day India. This is because Brahmā, the creator-god, is long-lived but not eternal i.e. Brahmā gets absorbed back into Purusha at the end of an aeon, and is born again at the beginning of a new kalpa.
These are distinct from:
  • A brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण) (masculine, pronounced {{IPA-sa|ˈbɽaːɦmɐɳɐ|}}), (which literally means "pertaining to prayer") is a prose commentary on the Vedic mantras—an integral part of the Vedic literature.
  • A brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण) (masculine, same pronunciation as above), means priest; in this usage the word is usually rendered in English as "Brahmin". This usage is also found in the Atharva Veda. In neuter plural form, Brahmāṇi. See Vedic priest.
  • Ishvara, (lit., Supreme Lord), in Advaita, is identified as a partial worldly manifestation (with limited attributes) of the ultimate reality, the attributeless Brahman. In Visishtadvaita and Dvaita, however, Ishvara (the Supreme Controller) has infinite attributes and the source of the impersonal Brahman.
  • Devas, the expansions of Brahman/God into various forms, each with a certain quality. In the Vedic religion, there were 33 devas, which later became exaggerated to 330 million devas. In fact, devas are themselves regarded as more mundane manifestations of the One and the Supreme Brahman (See Para Brahman). The Sanskrit word for "ten million" also means group, and 330 million devas originally meant 33 types of divine manifestations.

History and literature


Brahman is a concept present in Vedic Samhitas, the oldest layer of the Vedas dated to the 2nd millennium BCE. For example,, page 29}}The concept Brahman is referred to in hundreds of hymns in the Vedas.Maurice Bloomfield, A Vedic Concordance, Harvard University Press, pages 656-662 For example, it is found in Rig veda hymns such as 2.2.10,Original: वयमग्ने अर्वता वा सुवीर्यं ब्रह्मणा वा चितयेमा जनाँ अति । अस्माकं द्युम्नमधि पञ्च कृष्टिषूच्चा स्वर्ण शुशुचीत दुष्टरम् ॥१०॥Source: ऋग्वेद: सूक्तं २.२ Wikisource 6.21.8,Original: स तु श्रुधीन्द्र नूतनस्य ब्रह्मण्यतो वीर कारुधायः । त्वं ह्यापिः प्रदिवि पितॄणां शश्वद्बभूथ सुहव एष्टौ ॥८॥ऋग्वेद: सूक्तं ६.२१ Wikisource 10.72.2Original: ब्रह्मणस्पतिरेता सं कर्मार इवाधमत् । देवानां पूर्व्ये युगेऽसतः सदजायत ॥२॥ऋग्वेद: सूक्तं १०.७२ Wikisource and in Atharva veda hymns such as 6.122.5, 10.1.12, and 14.1.131. The concept is found in various layers of the Vedic literature; for example: Aitareya Brahmana 1.18.3, Kausitaki Brahmana 6.12, Satapatha Brahmana, Taittiriya Brahmana, Jaiminiya Brahmana 1.129, Taittiriya Aranyaka 4.4.1 through 5.4.1, Vajasaneyi Samhita 22.4 through 23.25, Maitrayani Samhita 3.12.1:16.2 through 4.9.2:122.15. The concept is extensively discussed in the Upanishads embedded in the Vedas (see next section), and also mentioned in the vedāṅga (the limbs of Vedas) such as the Srauta sutra 1.12.12 and Paraskara Gryhasutra 3.2.10 through 3.4.5.Jan Gonda states that the diverse reference of Brahman in the Vedic literature, starting with Rigveda Samhitas, convey "different senses or different shades of meaning".Jan Gonda (1962), Some Notes on the Study of Ancient-Indian Religious Terminology, History of Religions, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Winter, 1962), pages 269–271. weblink There is no one single word in modern Western languages that can render the various shades of meaning of the word Brahman in the Vedic literature, according to Jan Gonda. In verses considered as the most ancient, the Vedic idea of Brahman is the "power immanent in the sound, words, verses and formulas of Vedas". However, states Gonda, the verses suggest that this ancient meaning was never the only meaning, and the concept evolved and expanded in ancient India.Jan Gonda (1962), Some Notes on the Study of Ancient-Indian Religious Terminology, History of Religions, Vol. 1, No. 2 (Winter, 1962), pages 271–272. weblink Barbara Holdrege states that the concept Brahman is discussed in the Vedas along four major themes: as the Word or verses (Sabdabrahman),See Rigveda Chapter 1.164;Karl Potter and Harold Coward, The Philosophy of the Grammarians, Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies: Volume 5, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, {{ISBN|978-8120804265}}, pages 34–35 as Knowledge embodied in Creator Principle, as Creation itself, and a Corpus of traditions.Barbara Holdrege (1995), Veda and Torah: Transcending the Textuality of Scripture, State University of New York Press, {{ISBN|978-0791416402}}, page 24 Hananya Goodman states that the Vedas conceptualize Brahman as the Cosmic Principles underlying all that exists. Gavin Flood states that the Vedic era witnessed a process of abstraction, where the concept of Brahman evolved and expanded from the power of sound, words and rituals to the "essence of the universe", the "deeper foundation of all phenomena", the "essence of the self (Atman, soul)", and the deeper "truth of a person beyond apparent difference".Gavin Flood (1996), An Introduction to Hinduism, Cambridge University Press, {{ISBN|978-0521438780}}, pages 84–85


(File:Mozzercork - Heart (by).jpg|thumb|Swan (Hansa, हंस) is the symbol for Brahman-Atman in Hindu iconography.Lindsay Jones (2005), Encyclopedia of religion, Volume 13, Macmillan Reference, {{ISBN|978-0028657332}}, page 8894, Quote: "In Hindu iconography the swan personifies Brahman-Atman, the transcendent yet immanent ground of being, the Self."Denise Cush (2007), Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0415556231}}, page 697)The primary focus on the early Upanishads is Brahmavidya and Atmavidya, that is the knowledge of Brahman and the knowledge of Atman (self, soul), what it is and how it is understood.R. Prasad and P. D. Chattopadhyaya (2008), A Conceptual-analytic Study of Classical Indian Philosophy of Morals, Concept, {{ISBN|978-8180695445}}, page 56 The texts do not present a single unified theory, rather they present a variety of themes with multiple possible interpretations, which flowered in post-Vedic era as premises for the diverse schools of Hinduism.Paul Deussen states that the concept of Brahman in the Upanishads expands to metaphysical, ontological and soteriological themes, such as it being the "primordial reality that creates, maintains and withdraws within it the universe",Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120814677}}, pages 243, 325–344, 363, 581 the "principle of the world", the "absolute",Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120814677}}, pages 358, 371 the "general, universal",Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120814677}}, pages 305, 476 the "cosmic principle",Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120814677}}, pages 110, 315–316, 495, 838–851 the "ultimate that is the cause of everything including all gods",Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120814677}}, pages 211, 741–742 the "divine being, Lord, distinct God, or God within oneself",Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120814677}}, pages 308–311, 497–499 the "knowledge",Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120814677}}, pages 181, 237, 444, 506–544, 570–571, 707, 847–850 the "soul, sense of self of each human being that is fearless, luminuous, exalted and blissful",Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120814677}}, pages 52, 110, 425, 454, 585–586, 838–851 the "essence of liberation, of spiritual freedom",Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120814677}}, pages 173–174, 188–198, 308–317, 322–324, 367, 447, 496, 629–637, 658, 707–708 the "universe within each living being and the universe outside", the "essence and everything innate in all that exists inside, outside and everywhere".Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120814677}}, pages 600, 619–620, 647, 777Gavin Flood summarizes the concept of Brahman in the Upanishads to be the "essence, the smallest particle of the cosmos and the infinite universe", the "essence of all things which cannot be seen, though it can be experienced", the "self, soul within each person, each being", the "truth", the "reality", the "absolute", the "bliss" (ananda).According to Radhakrishnan, the sages of the Upanishads teach Brahman as the ultimate essence of material phenomena that cannot be seen or heard, but whose nature can be known through the development of self-knowledge (atma jnana).Radhakrishnan, S., The Principal Upanisads, HarperCollins India, 1994, page 77The Upanishads contain several mahā-vākyas or "Great Sayings" on the concept of Brahman:BOOK, Jones, Constance, Encyclopedia of Hinduism, 2007, Infobase Publishing, New York, 978-0816073368, 270, {| class="wikitable sortable"! Text!! Upanishad !! Translation !! Referenceअहं ब्रह्म अस्मिaham brahmāsmi >Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10 >|Sanskrit and English Translation: S. Madhavananda, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 1.4.10, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad – Shankara Bhashya, page 145अयम् आत्मा ब्रह्मayam ātmā brahma >|Sanskrit and English Translation: S. Madhavananda, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.5, Brihadaranyaka Upanishad – Shankara Bhashya, pages 711–712सर्वं खल्विदं ब्रह्मsarvam khalvidam brahma >Chandogya Upanishad 3.14.1 >छान्दोग्योपनिषद् १.१ ॥तृतीयॊऽध्यायः॥ WikisourceEnglish Translation:Max Muller, Chandogya Upanishad 3.14.1 Oxford University Press, page 48;Max Muller, {{Google books>KXf_AQAAQBAJ|The Upanisads}}, Routledge, pages xviii–xixएकमेवाद्वितीयम्ekam evadvitiyam >छान्दोग्योपनिषद् १.२ ॥षष्ठोऽध्यायः॥ WikisourceEnglish Translation:Max Muller, Chandogya Upanishad 6.2.1 Oxford University Press, page 93;Max Muller, {{Google books>KXf_AQAAQBAJ|The Upanisads}}, Routledge, pages xviii–xixतत्त्वमसिtat tvam asi >|Sanskrit: छान्दोग्योपनिषद् १.२ ॥षष्ठोऽध्यायः॥ WikisourceEnglish Translation:Robert Hume, Chandogya Upanishad 6.8, The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, Oxford University Press, pages 246–250A. S. Gupta, The Meanings of "That Thou Art", Philosophy East and West, Vol. 12, No. 2, pages 125–134प्रज्ञानं ब्रह्मprajnānam brahma>Aitareya Upanishad 3.3.7 >|Sanskrit: ऐतरेयोपनिषद् WikisourceEnglish Translation:Max Muller, Aitareya Upanishad 3.3.7, also known as Aitareya Aranyaka Oxford University Press, page 246The Upanishad discuss the metaphysical concept of Brahman in many ways, such as the Śāṇḍilya doctrine in Chapter 3 of the Chandogya Upanishad, among of the oldest Upanishadic texts. The Śāṇḍilya doctrine on Brahman is not unique to Chandogya Upanishad, but found in other ancient texts such as the Satapatha Brahmana in section 10.6.3. It asserts that Atman (Soul, Self inside man) exists, the Brahman is identical with Atman, that the Brahman is inside man—thematic quotations that are frequently cited by later schools of Hinduism and modern studies on Indian philosophies.Chandogya Upanishad with Shankara Bhashya Ganganath Jha (Translator), pages 150–157For modern era cites:
  • Anthony Warder (2009), A Course in Indian Philosophy, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120812444}}, pages 25–28;
  • D. D. Meyer (2012), Consciousness, Theatre, Literature and the Arts, Cambridge Scholars Publishing, {{ISBN|978-1443834919}}, page 250;
  • Joel Brereton (1995), Eastern Canons: Approaches to the Asian Classics (Editors: William Theodore De Bary, Irene Bloom), Columbia University Press, {{ISBN|978-0231070058}}, page 130;
  • S. Radhakrishnan (1914), "The Vedanta philosophy and the Doctrine of Maya", International Journal of Ethics, Vol. 24, No. 4, pages 431–451
, pages 110–111 with preface and footnotes}}Paul Deussen notes that teachings similar to above on Brahman, re-appeared centuries later in the words of the 3rd century CE Neoplatonic Roman philosopher Plotinus in Enneades 5.1.2.


The concept Brahman has a lot of undertones of meaning and is difficult to understand. It has relevance in :

Brahman as a metaphysical concept

Brahman is the key metaphysical concept in various schools of Hindu philosophy. It is the theme in its diverse discussions to the two central questions of metaphysics: what is ultimately real, and are there principles applying to everything that is real?Edward Craig (1998), Metaphysics, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, {{ISBN|978-0415073103}}, Accessed (13 June 2015) Brahman is the ultimate "eternally, constant" reality, while the observed universe is a different kind of reality but one which is "temporary, changing" Maya in various orthodox Hindu schools. Maya pre-exists and co-exists with Brahman—the Ultimate Reality, The Highest Universal, the Cosmic Principles.Archibald Edward Gough (2001), The Philosophy of the Upanishads and Ancient Indian Metaphysics, Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0415245227}}, pages 47–48In addition to the concept of Brahman, Hindu metaphysics includes the concept of Atman—or soul, self—which is also considered ultimately real. The various schools of Hinduism, particularly the dual and non-dual schools, differ on the nature of Atman, whether it is distinct from Brahman, or same as Brahman. Those that consider Brahman and Atman as distinct are theistic, and Dvaita Vedanta and later Nyaya schools illustrate this premise.Roy W. Perrett (Editor, 2000), Indian Philosophy: Metaphysics, Volume 3, Taylor & Francis, {{ISBN|978-0815336082}}, page xvii;K. K. Chakrabarti (1999), Classical Indian Philosophy of Mind: The Nyaya Dualist Tradition, State University of New York Press, {{ISBN|978-0791441718}} pages 279–292 Those that consider Brahman and Atman as same are monist or pantheistic, and Advaita Vedanta, later SamkhyaJohn C. Plott et al (2000), Global History of Philosophy: The Axial Age, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120801585}}, pages 60-62 and Yoga schools illustrate this metaphysical premise.Julius Lipner (2004), The Hindu World (Editors: S. Mittal and G. Thursby), Routledge, {{ISBN|0415215277}}, pages 22–23Laurie Patton (2004), The Hindu World (Editors: S. Mittal and G. Thursby), Routledge, {{ISBN|0415215277}}, pages 45–50J. D. Fowler (1996), Hinduism: Beliefs and Practices, Sussex University Press, {{ISBN|978-1898723608}}, pages 135–137 In schools that equate Brahman with Atman, Brahman is the sole, ultimate reality. The predominant teaching in the Upanishads is the spiritual identity of soul within each human being, with the soul of every other human being and living being, as well as with the supreme, ultimate reality Brahman.William Indich (2000), Consciousness in Advaita Vedanta, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120812512}}, page 5Paul Hacker (1978), Eigentumlichkeiten dr Lehre und Terminologie Sankara: Avidya, Namarupa, Maya, Isvara, in Kleine Schriften (Editor: L. Schmithausen), Franz Steiner Verlag, Weisbaden, pages 101–109 (in German), also pages 69–99;Advaita Vedanta - A Bird's Eye View, Topic III: Philosophy of Advaita Vedanta, D. Krishna Ayyar (2011)In the metaphysics of the major schools of Hinduism, Maya is perceived reality, one that does not reveal the hidden principles, the true reality—the Brahman. Maya is unconscious, Brahman-Atman is conscious. Maya is the literal and the effect, Brahman is the figurative Upādāna—the principle and the cause. Maya is born, changes, evolves, dies with time, from circumstances, due to invisible principles of nature. Atman-Brahman is eternal, unchanging, invisible principle, unaffected absolute and resplendent consciousness. Maya concept, states Archibald Gough, is "the indifferent aggregate of all the possibilities of emanatory or derived existences, pre-existing with Brahman", just like the possibility of a future tree pre-exists in the seed of the tree.While Hinduism sub-schools such as Advaita Vedanta emphasize the complete equivalence of Brahman and Atman, they also expound on Brahman as saguna Brahman—the Brahman with attributes, and nirguna Brahman—the Brahman without attributes.JOURNAL, 10.7825/2164-6279.1250, Heirarchies{{sic, y, in the Nature of God? Questioning the "Saguna-Nirguna" Distinction in Advaita Vedanta| journal=Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies| volume=14 |issue=7 |pages=1–6|year = 2001|last1 = Rambachan|first1 = Anantanand}} The nirguna Brahman is the Brahman as it really is, however, the saguna Brahman is posited as a means to realizing nirguna Brahman, but the Hinduism schools declare saguna Brahman to be a part of the ultimate nirguna Brahman The concept of the saguna Brahman, such as in the form of avatars, is considered in these schools of Hinduism to be a useful symbolism, path and tool for those who are still on their spiritual journey, but the concept is finally cast aside by the fully enlightened.William Wainwright (2012), Concepts of God, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, (Accessed on: 13 June 2015)

Brahman as an ontological concept

Brahman, along with Soul/Self (Atman) are part of the ontologicalthat is things, beings or truths that are presumed to exist for its philosophical theory to be true, and what is the nature of that which so exists?; see: Edward Craig (1998), Ontology, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, {{ISBN|978-0415073103}} premises of Indian philosophy.Edward Craig (1998), Ontology, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, {{ISBN|978-0415073103}}, Accessed (13 June 2015)Stephen H. Phillips (2001), Could There Be Mystical Evidence for a Nondual Brahman? A Causal Objection, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 51, No. 4, pages 492–506 Different schools of Indian philosophy have held widely dissimilar ontologies. Buddhism and Carvaka school of Hinduism deny that there exists anything called "a soul, a self" (individual Atman or Brahman in the cosmic sense), while the orthodox schools of Hinduism, Jainism and Ajivikas hold that there exists "a soul, a self".K. N. Jayatilleke (2010), Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge, {{ISBN|978-8120806191}}, pages 246–249, from note 385 onwards;Steven Collins (1994), Religion and Practical Reason (Editors: Frank Reynolds, David Tracy), State Univ of New York Press, {{ISBN|978-0791422175}}, page 64; Quote: "Central to Buddhist soteriology is the doctrine of not-self (Pali: anattā, Sanskrit: anātman, the opposed doctrine of ātman is central to Brahmanical thought). Put very briefly, this is the [Buddhist] doctrine that human beings have no soul, no self, no unchanging essence.";Edward Roer (Translator), {{Google books|3uwDAAAAMAAJ|Shankara's Introduction|page=2}}, pages 2–4Katie Javanaud (2013), Is The Buddhist 'No-Self' Doctrine Compatible With Pursuing Nirvana?, Philosophy NowJohn C. Plott et al (2000), Global History of Philosophy: The Axial Age, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120801585}}, page 63, Quote: "The Buddhist schools reject any Ātman concept. As we have already observed, this is the basic and ineradicable distinction between Hinduism and Buddhism".M. Prabhakar (2012), Review: An Introduction to Indian Philosophy, Philosophy in Review, 32(3), pages 158–160Brahman as well the Atman in every human being (and living being) is considered equivalent and the sole reality, the eternal, self-born, unlimited, innately free, blissful Absolute in schools of Hinduism such as the Advaita Vedanta and Yoga.Barbara Holdrege (2004), The Hindu World (Editors: S. Mittal and G. Thursby), Routledge, {{ISBN|0415215277}}, pages 241–242Anantanand Rambachan (2014), A Hindu Theology of Liberation: Not-Two Is Not One, State University of New York Press, {{ISBN|978-1438454559}}, pages 131–142Ian Whicher (1999), The Integrity of the Yoga Darsana: A Reconsideration of Classical Yoga, State University of New York Press, {{ISBN|978-0791438152}}, pages 298–300;Mike McNamee and William J. Morgan (2015), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Sport, Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0415829809}}, pages 135–136, Quote: "As a dualistic philosophy largely congruent with Samkhya's metaphysics, Yoga seeks liberation through the realization that Atman equals Brahman; it involves a cosmogonic dualism: purusha an absolute consciousness, and prakriti original and primeval matter." Knowing one's own self is knowing the God inside oneself, and this is held as the path to knowing the ontological nature of Brahman (universal Self) as it is identical to the Atman (individual Self). The nature of Atman-Brahman is held in these schools, states Barbara Holdrege, to be as a pure being (sat), consciousness (cit) and full of bliss (ananda), and it is formless, distinctionless, nonchanging and unbounded.In theistic schools, in contrast, such as Dvaita Vedanta, the nature of Brahman is held as eternal, unlimited, innately free, blissful Absolute, while each individual's soul is held as distinct and limited which can at best come close in eternal blissful love of the Brahman (therein viewed as the Godhead).Francis Clooney and Tony Stewart (2004), The Hindu World (Editors: S. Mittal and G. Thursby), Routledge, {{ISBN|0415215277}}, pages 166–167Other schools of Hinduism have their own ontological premises relating to Brahman, reality and nature of existence. Vaisheshika school of Hinduism, for example, holds a substantial, realist ontology.Randy Kloetzli and Alf Hiltebeitel (2004), The Hindu World (Editors: S. Mittal and G. Thursby), Routledge, {{ISBN|0415215277}}, page 554 The Carvaka school denied Brahman and Atman, and held a materialist ontology.Michael Myers (2000), Brahman: A Comparative Theology, Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0700712571}}, pages 30–31

Brahman as an axiological concept

Brahman and Atman are key concepts to Hindu theories of axiology: ethics and aesthetics.R. Prasad and P. D. Chattopadhyaya (2008), A Conceptual-analytic Study of Classical Indian Philosophy of Morals, Concept, {{ISBN|978-8180695445}}, pages 56–59G. C. Pande (1990), Foundations of Indian Culture, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120807105}}, pages 49–50 Ananda (bliss), state Michael Myers and other scholars, has axiological importance to the concept of Brahman, as the universal inner harmony.Michael W. Myers (1998), Śaṅkarācārya and Ānanda, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 48, No. 4, pages 553–567Robert S. Hartman (2002), The Knowledge of Good: Critique of Axiological Reason, Rodopi, {{ISBN|978-9042012202}}, page 225 Some scholars equate Brahman with the highest value, in an axiological sense.T. M. P. Mahadevan (1954), The Metaphysics of Śaṁkara, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 3, No. 4, pages 359–363The axiological concepts of Brahman and Atman is central to Hindu theory of values.Arvind Sharma (1999), The Puruṣārthas: An Axiological Exploration of Hinduism, The Journal of Religious Ethics, Vol. 27, No. 2, pages 223–256 A statement such as 'I am Brahman', states Shaw, means 'I am related to everything', and this is the underlying premise for compassion for others in Hinduism, for each individual's welfare, peace, or happiness depends on others, including other beings and nature at large, and vice versa.J. L. Shaw (2011), Freedom: East and West, SOPHIA, Vol 50, Springer Science, pages 481–497 Tietge states that even in non-dual schools of Hinduism where Brahman and Atman are treated ontologically equivalent, the theory of values emphasizes individual agent and ethics. In these schools of Hinduism, states Tietge, the theory of action are derived from and centered in compassion for the other, and not egotistical concern for the self.Katherine L Tietge (1997), Ontology and Genuine Moral Action: Jñaña (Intuitive Perception) Ethics and Karma-Yoga in Sankara's Advaita Vedanta and Schopenhauer's On the Basis of Morality, Ph.D. Thesis, Dept. of Philosophy, Southern Illinois University (US), Archive LinkThe axiological theory of values emerges implicitly from the concepts of Brahman and Atman, states Bauer. The aesthetics of human experience and ethics are one consequence of self-knowledge in Hinduism, one resulting from the perfect, timeless unification of one's soul with the Brahman, the soul of everyone, everything and all eternity, wherein the pinnacle of human experience is not dependent on an afterlife, but pure consciousness in the present life itself. It does not assume that an individual is weak nor does it presume that he is inherently evil, but the opposite: human soul and its nature is held as fundamentally unqualified, faultless, beautiful, blissful, ethical, compassionate and good.Arvind Sharma (2000), Classical Hindu Thought: An Introduction, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195644418}}, pages 57–61 Ignorance is to assume it evil, liberation is to know its eternal, expansive, pristine, happy and good nature.Nancy Bauer (1987), Advaita Vedānta and Contemporary Western Ethics, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 37, No. 1, pages 36–50 The axiological premises in the Hindu thought and Indian philosophies in general, states Nikam, is to elevate the individual, exalting the innate potential of man, where the reality of his being is the objective reality of the universe. The Upanishads of Hinduism, summarizes Nikam, hold that the individual has the same essence and reality as the objective universe, and this essence is the finest essence; the individual soul is the universal soul, and Atman is the same reality and the same aesthetics as the Brahman.N. A. Nikam (1952), A Note on the Individual and His Status in Indian Thought, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 2, No. 3, pages 254–258

Brahman as a teleological concept

Brahman and Atman are very important teleological concepts. Teleology deals with the apparent purpose, principle or goal of something. In the first chapter of the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, these questions are dealt with. It says :weblink{{Dead linkbot=InternetArchiveBot |fix-attempted=yes }}}}The main purpose of the Brahman and why it exists is a subjective question according to the Upanishads. One can only find out its true purpose when one becomes the Brahman as the 'Brahman' is all the knowledge one can know itself. Hence, complete answers for anything in life can only be determined or obtained when the Brahman is realized as the Brahman is all the complete knowledge itself. This is said in the Aitareya Upanishad 3.3 and Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 4.4.17 and many other Upanishads.HTTP://ESAMSKRITI.COM/ESSAYS/AITAREYA-UPANISHAD.PDF>TITLE=AITAREYA UPANISHAD : TRANSLITERATED SANSKRIT TEXT FREE TRANSLATION & BRIEF EXPLANATIONWEBSITE=ESAMSKRITI.COM, 26 January 2019, }}One of the reasons to why the Brahman should be realized according to the Upanishads is because it removes suffering from a person's life. This is because the person has the ability and knowledge to discriminate between the unchanging (Atman and Brahman) and the ever-changing (Prakrit) and so the person is not attached to the transient. Hence, the person is only content with the self and not his body or anything other than the self.In Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 3.9.26 it mentions that the atman 'neither trembles in fear nor suffers injury' and in the Isha Upanishad 6-7 it too talks about suffering as non existent when one becomes the Brahman as they see the self in all beings and all beings in the self. Therefore, the apparent purpose of Brahman is in discussion in the Upanishads but the Brahman itself is the only self-contained purpose and true goal according to the Upanishads, so posing the question is redundant. The Upanishads consider the Brahman the only actual worthwhile goal in life and ultimately one should aim to become it as it is the means and an end in and of itself to ultimate knowledge, immortality, etc. So the question of what is the ultimate purpose of everything including the Brahman is answered by realizing or attaining the Brahman as the Brahman itself is ultimate knowledge. Hence, the Brahman is a teleological concept as it is the ultimate purpose and goal of everything possible and permeates everything and is in everything.

Brahman as a soteriological concept: Moksha

The orthodox schools of Hinduism, particularly Vedanta, Samkhya and Yoga schools, focus on the concept of Brahman and Atman in their discussion of moksha. The Advaita Vedanta holds there is no being/non-being distinction between Atman and Brahman. The knowledge of Atman (Self-knowledge) is synonymous to the knowledge of Brahman inside the person and outside the person. Furthermore, the knowledge of Brahman leads to a sense of oneness with all existence, self-realization, indescribable joy, and moksha (freedom, bliss),Anantanand Rambachan (1994), The limits of scripture: Vivekananda's reinterpretation of the Vedas, University of Hawaii Press, pages 124–125 because Brahman-Atman is the origin and end of all things, the universal principle behind and at source of everything that exists, consciousness that pervades everything and everyone.Karl Potter (2008), The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies: Advaita Vedānta Up to Śaṃkara and His Pupils, Volume 3, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, pp. 210–215The theistic sub-school such as Dvaita Vedanta of Hinduism, starts with the same premises, but adds the premise that individual souls and Brahman are distinct, and thereby reaches entirely different conclusions where Brahman is conceptualized in a manner similar to God in other major world religions. The theistic schools assert that moksha is the loving, eternal union or nearness of one's soul with the distinct and separate Brahman (Vishnu, Shiva or equivalent henotheism). Brahman, in these sub-schools of Hinduism is considered the highest perfection of existence, which every soul journeys towards in its own way for moksha.Betty Stafford (2010) "Dvaita, Advaita, And Viśiṣṭadvaita: Contrasting Views Of Mokṣa", Asian Philosophy, pages 215–224

Schools of thought


The concept of Brahman, its nature and its relationship with Atman and the observed universe, is a major point of difference between the various sub-schools of the Vedanta school of Hinduism.

Advaita Vedanta

{{Advaita}}Advaita Vedanta espouses nondualism. Brahman is the sole unchanging reality,AC Das (1952), Brahman and Māyā in Advaita Metaphysics, Philosophy East and West, Vol. 2, No. 2, pages 144–154 there is no duality, no limited individual souls nor a separate unlimited cosmic soul, rather all souls, all of existence, across all space and time, is one and the same.Rosen Dalal (2014), Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide, Penguin, {{ISBN|978-8184752779}}, see article on Brahman The universe and the soul inside each being is Brahman, and the universe and the soul outside each being is Brahman, according to Advaita Vedanta. Brahman is the origin and end of all things, material and spiritual. Brahman is the root source of everything that exists. He states that Brahman can neither be taught nor perceived (as an object of intellectual knowledge), but it can be learned and realized by all human beings. The goal of Advaita Vedanta is to realize that one's Self (Atman) gets obscured by ignorance and false-identification ("Avidya"). When Avidya is removed, the Atman (Soul, Self inside a person) is realized as identical with Brahman. The Brahman is not an outside, separate, dual entity, the Brahman is within each person, states Advaita Vedanta school of Hinduism. Brahman is all that is eternal, unchanging and that which truly exists. This view is stated in this school in many different forms, such as "Ekam sat" ("Truth is one"), and all is Brahman.The universe does not simply come from Brahman, it is Brahman. According to Adi Shankara, a proponent of Advaita Vedanta, the knowledge of Brahman that shruti provides cannot be obtained by any other means besides self inquiry.Anantanand Rambachan (1994), The limits of scripture: Vivekananda's reinterpretation of the Vedas. University of Hawaii Press, pages 125, 124In Advaita Vedanta, nirguna Brahman, that is the Brahman without attributes, is held to be the ultimate and sole reality. Consciousness is not a property of Brahman but its very nature. In this respect, Advaita Vedanta differs from other Vedanta schools.[Sangeetha Menon (2007), Advaita Vedānta], Internet Encyclopedia of PhilosophyExample verses from Bhagavad-Gita include:, page 224Jeaneane D. Fowler (2012), The Bhagavad Gita, Sussex Academic Press, {{ISBN|978-1845193461}}, page 83He who finds his happiness within,His delight within,And his light within,This yogin attains the bliss of Brahman, becoming Brahman. – Hymn 5.24Christopher Key Chapple (Editor) and Winthrop Sargeant (Translator), The Bhagavad Gita: Twenty-fifth–Anniversary Edition, State University of New York Press, {{ISBN|978-1438428420}}, page 266}}

Dvaita Vedanta

{{Vaishnavism}}Brahman of Dvaita is a concept similar to God in major world religions. Dvaita holds that the individual soul is dependent on God, but distinct.Dvaita propounds Tattvavada which means understanding differences between Tattvas (significant properties) of entities within the universal substrate as follows:{{citation needed|date=June 2015}}
  1. Jîva-ÃŽshvara-bheda â€” difference between the soul and Vishnu
  2. Jada-ÃŽshvara-bheda â€” difference between the insentient and Vishnu
  3. Mitha-jîva-bheda â€” difference between any two souls
  4. Jada-jîva-bheda â€” difference between insentient and the soul
  5. Mitha-jada-bheda â€” difference between any two insentients

Achintya Bheda Abheda

The Acintya Bheda Abheda philosophy is similar to Dvaitadvaita (differential monism). In this philosophy, Brahman is not just impersonal, but also personal.{{citation needed|date=June 2015}} That Brahman is Supreme Personality of Godhead, though on first stage of realization (by process called jnana) of Absolute Truth, He is realized as impersonal Brahman, then as personal Brahman having eternal Vaikuntha abode (also known as Brahmalokah sanatana), then as Paramatma (by process of yoga–meditation on Supersoul, Vishnu-God in heart)—Vishnu (Narayana, also in everyone's heart) who has many abodes known as Vishnulokas (Vaikunthalokas), and finally (Absolute Truth is realized by bhakti) as Bhagavan, Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is source of both Paramatma and Brahman (personal, impersonal, or both).{{citation needed|date=June 2015}}


All Vaishnava schools are panentheistic and perceive the Advaita concept of identification of Atman with the impersonal Brahman as an intermediate step of self-realization, but not Mukti, or final liberation of complete God-realization through Bhakti Yoga.{{citation needed|date=June 2015}} Gaudiya Vaishnavism, a form of Achintya Bheda Abheda philosophy, also concludes that Brahman is the Supreme Personality of Godhead. According to them, Brahman is Lord Vishnu/Krishna; the universe and all other manifestations of the Supreme are extensions of Him.{{citation needed|date=June 2015}}

Bhakti movement

The Bhakti movement of Hinduism built its theosophy around two concepts of Brahman—Nirguna and Saguna.Karen Pechilis Prentiss (2014), The Embodiment of Bhakti, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195351903}}, page 21 Nirguna Brahman was the concept of the Ultimate Reality as formless, without attributes or quality.Jeaneane D. Fowler (2012), The Bhagavad Gita, Sussex Academic Press, {{ISBN|978-1845193461}}, pages xxvii–xxxiv Saguna Brahman, in contrast, was envisioned and developed as with form, attributes and quality. The two had parallels in the ancient pantheistic unmanifest and theistic manifest traditions, respectively, and traceable to Arjuna-Krishna dialogue in the Bhagavad Gita.Jeaneane D. Fowler (2012), The Bhagavad Gita, Sussex Academic Press, {{ISBN|978-1845193461}}, pages 207–211 It is the same Brahman, but viewed from two perspectives, one from Nirguni knowledge-focus and other from Saguni love-focus, united as Krishna in the Gita. Nirguna bhakta's poetry were Jnana-shrayi, or had roots in knowledge. Saguna bhakta's poetry were Prema-shrayi, or with roots in love. In Bhakti, the emphasis is reciprocal love and devotion, where the devotee loves God, and God loves the devotee.Jeaneane Fowler states that the concepts of Nirguna and Saguna Brahman, at the root of Bhakti movement theosophy, underwent more profound development with the ideas of Vedanta school of Hinduism, particularly those of Adi Shankara's Advaita Vedanta, Ramanuja's Vishishtadvaita Vedanta, and Madhvacharya's Dvaita Vedanta. Two 12th-century influential treatises on bhakti were Sandilya Bhakti Sutra—a treatise resonating with Nirguna-bhakti, and Narada Bhakti Sutra—a treatise that leans towards Saguna-bhakti.Jessica Frazier and Gavin Flood (2011), The Continuum Companion to Hindu Studies, Bloomsbury Academic, {{ISBN|978-0826499660}}, pages 113–115Nirguna and Saguna Brahman concepts of the Bhakti movement has been a baffling one to scholars, particularly the Nirguni tradition because it offers, states David Lorenzen, "heart-felt devotion to a God without attributes, without even any definable personality". Yet given the "mountains of Nirguni bhakti literature", adds Lorenzen, bhakti for Nirguna Brahman has been a part of the reality of the Hindu tradition along with the bhakti for Saguna Brahman.David Lorenzen (1996), Praises to a Formless God: Nirguni Texts from North India, State University of New York Press, {{ISBN|978-0791428054}}, page 2 These were two alternate ways of imagining God during the bhakti movement.

Buddhist understanding of Brahman

Buddhism rejects the Upanishadic doctrine of Brahman and Atman (soul, permanent self, essence).{{refn|group=note|Merv Fowler, Zen Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices (Brighton: Sussex Academic, 2005), p. 30: "Upanisadic thought is anything but consistent; nevertheless, there is a common focus on the acceptance of a totally transcendent Absolute, a trend which arose in the Vedic period. This indescribable Absolute is called Brahman [...] The true Self and Brahman are one and the same. Known as the Brahman-Atman synthesis, this theory, which is central to Upanisadic thought, is the cornerstone of Indian philosophy. The Brahman-Atman synthesis, which posits the theory of a permanent, unchanging self, was anathema to Buddhists, and it was as a reaction to the synthesis that Buddhism first drew breath. Merv Fowler p. 47: "For the Upanisadic sages, the real is the Self, is Atman, is Brahman. [...] To the Buddhist, however, any talk of an Atman or permanent, unchanging Self, the very kernel of Upanisadic thought, is anathema, a false notion of manifest proportion."}} According to Damien Keown, "the Buddha said he could find no evidence for the existence of either the personal soul (atman) or its cosmic counterpart (brahman)".Damien Keown, Buddhism (NY: Sterling, 2009), p. 70 The metaphysics of Buddhism rejects Brahman (ultimate being), Brahman-like essence, soul and anything metaphysically equivalent through its Anatta doctrine.BOOK, David Webster, The Philosophy of Desire in the Buddhist Pali Canon,weblink 2004, Routledge, 978-0-203-01057-0, 194–195, 93, 147, BOOK, Richard Francis Gombrich, Cristina Anna Scherrer-Schaub, Buddhist Studies,weblink 2008, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-3248-0, 192–193, BOOK, Mark Juergensmeyer, Wade Clark Roof, Encyclopedia of Global Religion,weblink 2011, SAGE Publications, 978-1-4522-6656-5, 272–273, According to Merv Fowler, some forms of Buddhism have incorporated concepts that resemble that of Brahman.{{refn|group=note|Merv Fowler, Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices (Brighton: Sussex Academic, 1999), p. 34: "It was inevitable that the non-theistic philosophy of orthodox Buddhism should court the older Hindu practices and, in particular, infuse into its philosophy the belief in a totally transcendent Absolute of the nature of Brahman."}} As an example, Fowler cites the early Sarvastivada school of Buddhism, which "had come to accept a very pantheistic religious philosophy, and are important because of the impetus they gave to the development of Mahayana Buddhism".Merv Fowler, Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices (Brighton: Sussex Academic, 1999), p. 34 According to William Theodore De Bary, in the doctrines of the Yogacara school of Mahayana Buddhism, "the Body of Essence, the Ultimate Buddha, who pervaded and underlay the whole universe [...] was in fact the World Soul, the Brahman of the Upanishads, in a new form".William Theodore De Bary, cited in Merv Fowler, Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices (Brighton: Sussex Academic, 1999), p. 98 According to Fowler, some scholars have identified the Buddhist nirvana, conceived of as the Ultimate Reality, with the Hindu Brahman/atman; Fowler claims that this view "has gained little support in Buddhist circles."Merv Fowler, Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices (Brighton: Sussex Academic, 1999), p. 81 Fowler asserts that the authors of a number of Mahayana texts took pains to differentiate their ideas from the Upanishadic doctrine of Brahman.{{refn|group=note|Merv Fowler, Buddhism: Beliefs and Practices (Brighton: Sussex Academic, 1999), p. 82: "The original writers of these Mahayana texts were not at all pleased that their writings were seen to contain the Brahman of the Upanisads in a new form. The authors of the Lankavatara strenuously denied that the womb of Tathagatahood, [...] was in any way equatable with the 'eternal self', the Brahmanical atman of Upanisadic thought. Similarly, the claim in the Nirvana Sutra that the Buddha regarded Buddhahood as a 'great atman' caused the Yogacarins considerable distress."}}

Brahma as a surrogate for Brahman in Buddhist texts

The spiritual concept of Brahman is far older in the Vedic literature, and some scholars suggest deity Brahma may have emerged as a personal conception and icon with form and attributes (saguna version) of the impersonal, nirguna (without attributes), formless universal principle called Brahman.Bruce Sullivan (1999), Seer of the Fifth Veda, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120816763}}, pages 82–83 In the Hindu texts, one of the earliest mention of deity Brahma along with Vishnu and Shiva is in the fifth Prapathaka (lesson) of the Maitrayaniya Upanishad, probably composed in late 1st millennium BCE, after the rise of Buddhism.{{citation|first=Robert Ernest|last=Hume|title=The Thirteen Principal Upanishads |url=|publisher=Oxford University Press|year=1921|pages=422–424}}BOOK, K. N. Jayatilleke, Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge,weblink 1998, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-0619-1, 68, 374, , Quote: "We may conclude from the above that the rise of Buddhism is not far removed in time from, though it is prior to, the Maitri Upanishad".Jan Gonda (1968), The Hindu Trinity, Anthropos, Vol. 63, pages 215–219The early Buddhists attacked the concept of Brahma, states Gananath Obeyesekere, and thereby polemically attacked the Vedic and Upanishadic concept of gender neutral, abstract metaphysical Brahman. This critique of Brahma in early Buddhist texts aim at ridiculing the Vedas, but the same texts simultaneously call metta (loving-kindness, compassion) as the state of union with Brahma. The early Buddhist approach to Brahma was to reject any creator aspect, while retaining the value system in the Vedic Brahmavihara concepts, in the Buddhist value system.BOOK, Gananath Obeyesekere, Karma and Rebirth: A Cross Cultural Study,weblink 2006, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-2609-0, 177–179, According to Martin Wiltshire, the term "Brahma loka" in the Buddhist canon, instead of "Svarga loka", is likely a Buddhist attempt to choose and emphasize the "truth power" and knowledge focus of the Brahman concept in the Upanishads.BOOK, Martin G. Wiltshire, Ascetic Figures Before and in Early Buddhism: The Emergence of Gautama as the Buddha,weblink 1990, Walter de Gruyter, 978-3-11-009896-9, 248–249, 253–255, Simultaneously, by reformulating Brahman as Brahma and relegating it within its Devas and Samsara theories, early Buddhism rejected the Atman-Brahman premise of the Vedas to present of its own Dhamma doctrines (anicca, dukkha and anatta).BOOK, Martin G. Wiltshire, Ascetic Figures Before and in Early Buddhism: The Emergence of Gautama as the Buddha,weblink 1990, Walter de Gruyter, 978-3-11-009896-9, 256–265,

Brahman in Sikhism

{{multiple image
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| footer = Ik Onkar (left) is part of the Mul Mantar in Sikhism, where it means "Onkar [God, Reality] is one".Eleanor Nesbitt (2005), Sikhism: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0192806017}}, Chapter 4 The Onkar of Sikhism is related to Om—also called OmkāraJean Holm and John Bowker, Worship, Bloomsbury, ISBN, page 67—in Hinduism.Wendy Doniger (2000), Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions, Merriam Webster, {{ISBN|978-0877790440}}, page 500 The ancient texts of Hinduism state Om to be a symbolism for the Highest Reality, Brahman.Rangaswami Sudhakshina (2012), Roots of Vendanta, Penguin, {{ISBN|978-0143064459}}, page 405David Leeming (2005), The Oxford Companion to World Mythology, Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0195156690}}, page 54
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The metaphysical concept of Brahman, particularly as nirguni Brahman—attributeless, formless, eternal Highest Reality—is at the foundation of Sikhism.S. S. Kohli (1993), The Sikh and Sikhism, Atlantic, {{ISBN|81-71563368}}, page 39 This belief is observed through nirguni Bhakti by the Sikhs.Hardip Syan (2014), in The Oxford Handbook of Sikh Studies (Editors: Pashaura Singh, Louis E. Fenech), Oxford University Press, {{ISBN|978-0199699308}}, page 178A. Mandair (2011), Time and religion-making in modern Sikhism, in Time, History and the Religious Imaginary in South Asia (Editor: Anne Murphy), Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0415595971}}, pages 188–190In Gauri, which is part of the Guru Granth Sahib, Brahman is declared as "One without a second", in Sri Rag "everything is born of Him, and is finally absorbed in Him", in Var Asa "whatever we see or hear is the manifestation of Brahman".S. S. Kohli (1993), The Sikh and Sikhism, Atlantic, {{ISBN|81-71563368}}, page 38 Nesbitt states that the first two words, Ik Onkar, in the twelve-word Mul Mantar at the opening of the Sikh scripture Guru Granth Sahib, has been translated in three different ways by scholars: "There is one god", "This being is one", and as "One reality is".Similar emphasis on "One without a second" for metaphysical concept of Brahman, is found in ancient texts of Hinduism, such as the Chandogya Upanishad's chapter 6.2.Max Muller, Chandogya Upanishad 6.2.1 Oxford University Press, pages 93–94Paul Deussen, Sixty Upanishads of the Veda, Volume 1, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120814684}}, pages 156–157, 162–163 The ideas about God and Highest Reality in Sikhism share themes found in the Saguna and Nirguna concepts of Brahman in Hinduism.N. Mandair (2009), Postcolonial Philosophy of Religion (Editor: Purushottama Bilimoria, Andrew B. Irvine), Springer, {{ISBN|978-9400791770}}, pages 145–146The concept of Ultimate Reality (Brahman) is also referred in Sikhism as Nam, Sat-naam or Naam, and Ik Oankar like Hindu Om symbolizes this Reality.William Owen Cole and Piara Singh Sambhi (1998), The Sikhs: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, 2nd edition, Sussex Academic Press, {{ISBN|978-1898723134}}, pages 70–71H. S. Singha (2009), Sikh Studies, Vol. 7, Hemkunt Press, {{ISBN|978-8170102458}}, page 47

Brahman in Jainism

Scholars contest whether the concept of Brahman is rejected or accepted in Jainism. The concept of a theistic God is rejected by Jainism, but Jiva or "Atman (soul) exists" is held to be a metaphysical truth and central to its theory of rebirths and Kevala Jnana.Ray Billington (1997), Understanding Eastern Philosophy, Routledge, {{ISBN|978-0415129657}}, page 46Bissett states that Jainism accepts the "material world" and "Atman", but rejects Brahman—the metaphysical concept of Ultimate Reality and Cosmic Principles found in the ancient texts of Hinduism.James Bissett, Cultural and Religious Heritage of India, Volume 2: Jainism (Editors: Sharma and Sharma), Mittal, {{ISBN|81-70999553}}, page 81 Goswami, in contrast, states that the literature of Jainism has an undercurrent of monist theme, where the self who gains the knowledge of Brahman (Highest Reality, Supreme Knowledge) is identical to Brahman itself.C. Caillat and N. Balbir (2008), Jaina Studies, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|978-8120832473}}, pages ix–x Jaini states that Jainism neither accepts nor rejects the premise of Ultimate Reality (Brahman), instead Jain ontology adopts a many sided doctrine called Anekantavada. This doctrine holds that "reality is irreducibly complex" and no human view or description can represent the Absolute Truth.P. Jaini (1998), The Jaina Path of Purification, Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|81-208-1578-5}}, pages 90–93J. Koller (2004), "Why is Anekāntavāda important?", (Editor: Tara Sethia, Ahimsā, Anekānta, and Jainism), Motilal Banarsidass, {{ISBN|81-208-2036-3}}, pages 400–407 Those who have understood and realized the Absolute Truth are the liberated ones and the Supreme Souls, with Kevala Jnana.

Comparison of Brahma, Brahman, Brahmin and Brahmanas

Brahma is distinct from Brahman. Brahma is a male deity, in the post-Vedic Puranic literature,BOOK, R. M. Matthijs Cornelissen, Foundations of Indian Psychology Volume 2: Practical Applications,weblink 2011, Pearson, 978-81-317-3085-0, 40, who creates but neither preserves nor destroys anything. He is envisioned in some Hindu texts to have emerged from the metaphysical Brahman along with Vishnu (preserver), Shiva (destroyer), all other gods, goddesses, matter and other beings. In theistic schools of Hinduism where deity Brahma is described as part of its cosmology, he is a mortal like all gods and goddesses, and dissolves into the abstract immortal Brahman when the universe ends, thereafter a new cosmic cycle (kalpa) restarts again.BOOK, Jeaneane D. Fowler, Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism,weblink 2002, Sussex Academic Press, 978-1-898723-93-6, 330, Brahman is a metaphysical concept of Hinduism referring to the ultimate unchanging reality,BOOK, Helen K. Bond, Seth D. Kunin, Francesca Murphy, Religious Studies and Theology: An Introduction,weblink 2003, New York University Press, 978-0-8147-9914-7, 231, BOOK, William Sweet, Approaches to Metaphysics,weblink 2006, Springer, 978-1-4020-2182-4, 145–147, BOOK, H. James Birx, Encyclopedia of Anthropology,weblink 2005, SAGE Publications, 978-1-4522-6536-0, 1279, that, states Doniger, is uncreated, eternal, infinite, transcendent, the cause, the foundation, the source and the goal of all existence. It is envisioned as either the cause or that which transforms itself into everything that exists in the universe as well as all beings, that which existed before the present universe and time, which exists as current universe and time, and that which will absorb and exist after the present universe and time ends. It is a gender neutral abstract concept.BOOK, Wendy Denier, Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions,weblink 1999, Merriam-Webster, 978-0-87779-044-0, 437, BOOK, J. L. Brockington, The Sanskrit Epics,weblink 1998, BRILL Academic, 90-04-10260-4, 256, BOOK, Denise Cush, Catherine Robinson, Michael York, Encyclopedia of Hinduism,weblink 2012, Routledge, 978-1-135-18979-2, 114–115, The abstract Brahman concept is predominant in the Vedic texts, particularly the Upanishads;BOOK, Edward Craig, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Brahman to Derrida,weblink 1998, Routledge, 978-0-415-18707-7, 1–4, while the deity Brahma finds minor mention in the Vedas and the Upanishads.BOOK, Julius Lipner, Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices,weblink 1994, Routledge, 978-0-415-05181-1, 43–44, In the Puranic and the Epics literature, deity Brahma appears more often, but inconsistently. Some texts suggest that god Vishnu created Brahma (Vaishnavism),BOOK, S. M. Srinivasa Chari, Vaiṣṇavism: Its Philosophy, Theology, and Religious Discipline,weblink 1994, Motilal Banarsidass, 978-81-208-1098-3, 147, others suggest god Shiva created Brahma (Shaivism),BOOK, Wendy Doniger O'Flaherty, Siva: The Erotic Ascetic,weblink 1981, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-972793-3, 125, yet others suggest goddess Devi created Brahma (Shaktism),BOOK, David Kinsley, Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition,weblink 1988, University of California Press, 978-0-520-90883-3, 137, and these texts then go on to state that Brahma is a secondary creator of the world working respectively on their behalf.BOOK, Stella Kramrisch, The Presence of Siva,weblink 1992, Princeton University Press, 0-691-01930-4, 205–206, Further, the medieval era texts of these major theistic traditions of Hinduism assert that the saguna{{refn|group=note|representation with face and attributes)BOOK, Arvind Sharma, Classical Hindu Thought: An Introduction,weblink 2000, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-564441-8, 4, }} Brahman is Vishnu,BOOK, Mark Juergensmeyer, Wade Clark Roof, Encyclopedia of Global Religion,weblink 2011, SAGE Publications, 978-1-4522-6656-5, 1335, is Shiva,BOOK, Stella Kramrisch, The Presence of Siva,weblink 1992, Princeton University Press, 0-691-01930-4, 171, or is DeviBOOK, David Kinsley, Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition,weblink 1988, University of California Press, 978-0-520-90883-3, 136, respectively, they are different names or aspects of the Brahman, and that the Atman (soul, self) within every living being is same or part of this ultimate, eternal Brahman.BOOK, William K. Mahony, The Artful Universe: An Introduction to the Vedic Religious Imagination,weblink 1998, State University of New York Press, 978-0-7914-3579-3, 13–14, 187, Brahmin is a varna in Hinduism specialising in theory as priests, preservers and transmitters of sacred literature across generations.BOOK, Doniger, Wendy, Merriam-Webster's encyclopedia of world religions, Merriam-Webster, Springfield, Massachusetts, US, 1999, 978-0-87779-044-0, 186,weblink James Lochtefeld (2002), Brahmin, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Vol. 1: A–M, Rosen Publishing, {{ISBN|978-0823931798}}, page 125The Brahmanas are one of the four ancient layers of texts within the Vedas. They are primarily a digest incorporating myths, legends, the explanation of Vedic rituals and in some cases philosophy.Brahmana Encyclopædia Britannica (2013)Klaus Klostermaier (1994), A Survey of Hinduism, Second Edition, State University of New York Press, {{ISBN|978-0791421093}}, pages 67–69 They are embedded within each of the four Vedas, and form a part of the Hindu śruti literature."Brahmana". Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary

See also

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  • BOOK, Jeaneane D., Fowler, Perspectives of Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Hinduism,weblink 2002, Sussex Academic Press, 978-1-898723-93-6, harv,
  • BOOK, Klaus K., Klostermaier, A Survey of Hinduism: Third Edition,weblink 2010, State University of New York Press, 978-0-7914-8011-3, Chapter 12,
  • BOOK, Michaels, Axel, 2004, Hinduism. Past and present, Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press,
  • {{Citation | last =Potter | first =Karl H. | year =2008 | title =The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies: Advaita Vedānta Up to Åšaṃkara and His Pupils | place =Delhi | publisher =Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited}}
  • {{Citation | last =Puligandla | first =Ramakrishna | year =1997 | title =Fundamentals of Indian Philosophy | place =New Delhi | publisher =D. K. Printworld (P) Ltd.}}
  • {{Citation | last =Raju | first =P. T. | year =1992 | title =The Philosophical Traditions of India | place =Delhi | publisher =Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited}}
  • {{Citation | last =Sinari | first =Ramakant | year =2000 | title =Advaita and Contemporary Indian Philosophy. In: Chattopadhyana (gen.ed.), "History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization. Volume II Part 2: Advaita Vedanta" | place =Delhi | publisher =Centre for Studies in Civilizations}}

External links

{{Hindudharma}}{{Theology}}{{Philosophy topics}}{{Indian Philosophy}}{{Vaishnava philosophy}}{{Names of God}}

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