Brahmin

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Brahmin (Brahman) Priestly caste that was the highest-ranking of the four varnas (social classes) in India during the late Vedic period, the era of Brahmanism. The term also denotes a member of that caste. Brahmin were believed to be ritually purer than other castes, and they alone could perform certain spiritual and ritual duties. The recitation of the Vedas was their preserve, and for hundreds of years they were the only caste to receive an education and so controlled Indian scholarship. With the later development of Hinduism as a popular religion, their priestly influence declined, but their secular influence grew, and their social supremacy and privileged status have changed little over the centuries. Brahmins maintain ritual cleanliness through strict dietary laws and tightly regulated contact with other castes.

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Brah·min / ˈbrämin/ • n. 1. variant spelling of Brahman. 2. a socially or culturally superior person, esp. a member of the upper classes from New England. DERIVATIVES: Brah·min·i·cal / bräˈminikəl/ adj. (in sense 1).

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Brahmin a socially or culturally superior person, especially one from New England, and in particular Boston. The term comes from a variant spelling of Brahman.

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Brahmin member of the priestly or learned caste of Hindus. XIV (bragman; cf. AL. Bragmannus XIII). Early forms reflect mainly late L. pl. Brachmānæ, -māni, -mānes, corr. to Gr. Brakhmânes — Skr. brāhmaná- one of the caste, f. brahmán- priest.

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Brahmin: see BRAHMAN.