Brahmin is one of four varnas, the other three being:
- Kshatriya varna - warriors, rulers and administrators
- Vaishaya varna - merchants, cattle herders, agriculturists and artisans
- Sudra varna - laborers and service providers
The Brahmins were traditionally considered responsible for worshiping, reading and studying the Vedas. Their dharma, or duty, was to share their knowledge with the rest of society through preaching and teaching. They may also have been expected to offer spiritual and even medical advice and support. According to some sources, they were expected to work without pay and live frugally.
It is said that the Hindu god, Sankara, was born into the Brahmin varna because he needed the weapon of knowledge in order to combat evil. Early in life he entered the renunciate order of Sannyasa.