Brahman in Hinduism


What is Brahman?

In Hinduism, most adherents venerate one or more deities (see Is Hinduism Polytheistic?), but regard these as manifestations of Ultimate Reality. The Ultimate Reality that is behind the universe and all the gods is called by different names, but most commonly Brahman (not to be confused with the creator god Brahma or the priestly class of Brahmans).

In the Rig Veda, Ultimate Reality is referred to as "the One." In the Purushasukta, it is "Purusha," and in the Upanishads it is called "Brahman," "the One," and several other names. Most modern Hindus refer to the Ultimate Reality as Brahman.

The Upanishads describe Brahman as "the eternal, conscious, irreducible, infinite, omnipresent, spiritual source of the universe of finiteness and change." {2} Brahman is the source of all things and is in all things; it is the Self (atman) of all living beings.

Brahman is impersonal Being in itself, but it can be known through the many gods and goddesses that are manifestations of Brahman.

References
  1. Katha Upanishad 3:2 (trans. Eknath Easwaran).
  2. brahma - Encyclopedia Britannica Online (2007) (quote from article, not the Upanishads)
  3. Hinduism: Doctrine of atman-brahman - Encyclopedia Britannica Online (2007)
More Information on Brahman
  • India Glossary: Brahman - overview of the Hindu concept of Brahman by Richard Hooker, professor of World Civilizations at WSU.
  • The Upanishads: An Introduction - article on the Upanishads and the central doctrine of Brahman.
  • The Brahman of the Upanishads - excerpt from The Upanishads: The Crown Of India's Soul by Sri Chinmoy.