Text source: Joshua Project
Introduction / History
Brahmin is a Hindu caste. The English word brahmin is an anglicized form of the Sanskrit word Brahmana. Brahmin refers to the "supreme self" in Hinduism or the first of the gods. Due to the diversity in language, religious and cultural traditions and practices, and the Vedic schools which they belong to, there are numerous types of Brahmins. One of these is the Maithili.
The history of the Brahmins is associated with the Vedic religion of early India, usually referred to as Sanatana Dharma. Brahmins first come to notice historically in the Vedic period, but how the modern caste system developed is a highly contested topic due to lack of clear data. Brahmins and kings became the dominant social and religious forces in many of the kingdoms that developed over pre-modern India. Discrimination became of a feature of the caste system with Brahmins often being assigned blame for the system. Over time, Brahmins became a powerful and influential group in India, and many discriminated against lower castes.
Only a subset of Brahmins is involved in priestly duties including teaching and preaching. They excel as educators, scholars, doctors, warriors, writers, poets, landowners, politicians. Modern Brahmin parents aspire for their sons to become computer programmers and engineers.
There was a time when India included what is now Bangladesh and Pakistan. After the 1947 partition, some Brahmins remained in Muslim Pakistan and Bangladesh. They naturally hold less power in these Muslim countries than their counterparts in India.
What are their lives like?
Brahmins are generally among the well-to-do and place a high value on education. (Thus, an inordinate percentage of Brahmins are among the Hindus who have migrated to the West.) Probably most still perform daily worship rituals, but the growing forces of secularization and globalization in India are strongest among the Brahmins. Most are vegetarian but some groups eat some meat, particularly fish, and many individuals even from vegetarian Brahmin groups are now eating meat (rarely beef, and often meat eating is surreptitious). Discerning opinions and heart attitudes is difficult, but it seems that only a small minority of today's Brahmins would uphold what was once considered Brahmin orthodoxy: that Brahmins are better by birth than all other peoples. This feeling of superiority is harder to maintain for Brahmins who live in Muslim countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh.
What are their beliefs?
The Maithili Brahmins practice Hinduism, the ancient religion of India. Hinduism is a catch-all phrase for the local religions of South Asia, so it is very diverse. At the popular level, Hindus worship and serve the gods of the Hindu pantheon. They visit Hindu temples and offer prayers, food, flowers, and incense to their gods in hopes of gaining protection and benefits. They do not have a personal or familial relationship with their gods like Christians or Jews. There are other Hindus who are much more philosophical, especially among the Brahmins.
Almost all Hindus participate in yearly celebrations like Holi, the festival of colors and the start of spring / Diwali, the festival of lights / Navratri, the celebration of autumn / and Rama Navami, Rama's birthday.
What are their needs?
Like all other peoples of the world, this people group needs the blessings and guidance that only Jesus Christ can offer.
Prayer PointsView Brahmin Maithili in all countries.
Pray for the Lord to bless this community economically and spiritually.
Ask God to raise up Maithili Brahmins who are more desirous to know the truth than to stay on the broad road.
Ask God to send loving, committed workers to the Maithili Brahmins in the near future.
Pray the Maithili Brahmins would no longer be hidden away from the influence of Christ.
Pray for many of them to make disciples who will make even more disciples.