Definition - What does Brahmanas mean?

In the history of yoga, the Brahmanas are ancient Indian texts. These consist of prose commentaries on the four Vedas, the oldest Hindu sacred texts, in which the word, yoga, is first used and defined. They are classified as part of the Hindu sruti literature (from the Sanskrit meaning "heard"). There are numerous Brahmana texts from ancient India which have been lost, but 19 still exist in their entirety.

The Brahmanas contain legends, myths, notes on the performance of rituals, as well as explanations of particular sacred words from the Vedas and some philosophy.

Brahmana can also refer to the utterance of a priest, or Brahman. More commonly, it is used to refer to the explanation and meaning of a sacred word.

Yogapedia explains Brahmanas

The oldest of the Brahmanas is thought to date back to around 900 B.C.E., and the youngest to around 700 B.C.E. There is a Brahmana for each Vedic school (shakha) and they are all written in Vedic Sanskrit.

Together, the Brahmanas form a rich collection of teachings on ritual and the hidden meanings of the Vedic texts. The details given in the Brahmanas are often precise instructions as to how the rituals described in the Vedas should be properly performed. This may include details about the proper pronounciation, meter, intonation and hand movement for the chanting of mantras.

One of the oldest Brahmanas, the "Chandogya Brahmana," contains hymns for marriage ceremonies and rituals for the birth of a child.

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