Brahmanas are texts that delineate the work-ings of the BRAHMAN in its oldest sense of the power, efficacy, or energy of Vedic ritual. They are considered SHRUTI or revelation and are part of the VEDAS. They accompany the MANTRA text of the four Vedas and are memorized along with them; the Brahmana of the Black YAJUR VEDA is interspersed with the mantras; the other three are stand alone texts. All the Brahmanas are written in prose.
   The Brahmanas are designed to guide and explain the ritual sacrifice (YA J N A). Much Vedic mythology is found in the Brahmanas, explain-ing how particular rituals relate to the actions of particular divinities. For example, the SHATA-PATHA BRAHMANA explains that goat hair is to be mixed with other ingredients for a ritual fire (AGNI), because the gods once collected Agni from among cattle. Brahmanas abound in much obscure, esoteric material that is not easy for the outsider to grasp, but that assure the effi-cacy and intelligibility of the Vedic ritual for practitioners.
   Further reading: S. N. Dasgupta, History of Indian Philosophy. Vol. 1 (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1975; Jan Gonda, Vedic Literature (Samhitas and Brahmanas). Vo l . 1 , A History of Indian Literature (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1975).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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