what is a hindu religious leader called

what is a hindu religious leader called

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Hinduism is an umbrella time period for numerous spiritual traditions that originated in India, and now are practiced all all over the world, although greater than 90 p.c of Hindus are present in India. The third largest organized faith on the planet, after Christianity and Islam, Hinduism is predicated on the teachings of the Vedas, historical scriptures, lots of which have been dropped at India round 1500 B.C.E. by the Aryans. The social stratification of the Aryan society additionally influenced India, and together with Hinduism, a lot of social lessons, known as castes, concurrently developed after the Aryans’ arrival.

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Simply as Hinduism consists of quite a lot of spiritual traditions, it additionally has quite a lot of various kinds of spiritual leaders. In keeping with the strict interpretation of the caste system, all clergymen should come from the best, or Brahman caste. All through his life, an individual stays in the identical caste into which he was born all through his life, with the chance to be born into the next caste at his subsequent reincarnation, which implies in lots of circumstances, the priesthood is hereditary. Moreover the Monks, Hinduism additionally has ascetic monastic orders, known as Sannyasa, members of that are additionally primarily from the Brahman caste. A 3rd class of spiritual leaders in Hinduism are asacharya or gurus, lecturers of divine persona who’ve come to the earth to show by instance, and to assist bizarre adherents to know the scriptures.

Since Hinduism consists of quite a lot of gods, spiritual practices, and non secular leaders, every particular person’s religion is a person matter, and every will select a type of devotion and a non secular chief that fits the targets and nature of his religion. All of those spiritual leaders have a duty to information those that observe them and look to them as examples, to reside and train an upright and holy life.

The Brahman, or priestly, caste in Hinduism

The assorted spiritual traditions practiced in India and known as Hinduism have their roots in an historical faith primarily based on the Vedas, that got here to India together with the invading Aryans round 1500 B.C.E. One facet of Hinduism that’s primarily based on Aryan society is the caste system, a hierarchy of socioeconomic classes known as varnas (colours), made up of clergymen, warriors and commoners as recorded within the Rigveda.

The Rigveda describes 4 varna:

  • Brahmans, the clergymen and non secular officers, lecturers of the sacred information of the veda.
  • Rajanyas, composed of rulers and warriors.
  • Vaishyas, who have been farmers, retailers, merchants, and craftmen

Individuals in these three varnas are permitted to review the Vedas and have the chance to be reborn into the next caste, finally reaching enlightenment or Moksha.

  • Shudras, the bottom caste, weren’t permitted to review the vedas, and had their very own faith and clergymen.

Later one other caste was added:

  • Untouchables, who carried out duties too soiled for others, together with hunters and butchers.

The identify for the priestly or Brahman caste, seems to have initially denoted the prayers of the clergymen, however was finally adopted to designate the clergymen themselves. Brahman is usually spelled Brahmin to tell apart it from one other that means of Brahman, a time period referring to the Hindu idea of final actuality, or common soul.

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The Brahman caste has been instructed by the Hindu scriptures to commit themselves to learning the scriptures, pure conduct and non secular development. Though the Brahman caste is ranked the best within the varna system, they don’t seem to be the richest class. Fairly often members of the Rajanya caste of rulers and warriors have are wealthier. Initially the Brahman caste was instructed to subsist primarily on alms from the remainder of society. Along with learning the scriptures, Brahmans serve the Hindu society as clergymen, fulfilling quite a lot of social and non secular capabilities.

Within the Hindu idea of rebirth, the ultimate steps towards Moksha or salvation, can solely be made by members of the Brahman class. Some male members of the Brahman class be part of non secular orders known as Sannyasa and pursue an ascetic lifetime of non secular pursuit.

Nonetheless different members of the Brahman caste discover spiritually calling as Gurus, or lecturers. Profitable Gurus could collect massive followings, and typically kind new branches of Hinduism.

Hindu clergymen

Hindu clergymen maintain the temples, lead devotions in worship of Hinduism’s many deities, put together choices, are inclined to holy fires, and conduct a lot of rituals and ceremonies, lots of them rooted deeply within the Vedic custom. These embrace rituals and ceremonies pertaining to:

  • Delivery: Ceremonies the well-being of the mom throughout being pregnant to offer for the wholesome growth of her little one, in addition to ceremonies for a secure start, and for bestowing the kid’s identify.
  • Birthdays, together with particular ceremonies for a kid’s first birthday, and coming of age.
  • Marriage, together with rituals that the priest performs on the household house the day earlier than the marriage ceremony.
  • Purification ceremonies for eradicating detrimental influences from newly bought properties or different properties.
  • Dying: Final rites ceremonies, and different rituals to assist the deceased to move over peacefully.[1]

Sannyasa, the ultimate stage of the varna system

Hindus who’ve taken vows to observe non secular pursuits are known as Sannyāsa (Devanagari: संन्यास), and are members of the renounced order of life inside Hinduism. That is thought-about the topmost and last stage of the varna and ashram methods and is historically taken by males at or past the age of fifty years outdated or by younger monks who want to dedicate their whole life in direction of non secular pursuits. One throughout the sannyasa order is named a sannyasi or sannyasin. Etymology Saṃnyāsa in Sanskrit means “renunciation,” “abandonment.” It’s a tripartite compound; saṃ-, means “collective,” ni- means “down” and āsa is from the basis as, that means “to throw” or “to place,” so a literal translation could be “laying all of it down.” In dravidian languages, “sanyasi” is pronounced as “sannasi.” The Danda, or holy workers Sannyasin typically carry a ‘danda’, a holy workers. Within the Varnashrama System or Dharma of Sanatana Dharma, the ‘danda’ (Sanskrit; Devanagari: दंड, lit. stick) is a non secular attribute and image of sure deities comparable to Bṛhaspati, and holy folks carry the danda as a marker of their station. Classes of sannyasi

There are a selection of varieties of sannyasi. Historically there have been 4 varieties, every with a unique diploma of spiritual dedication. Extra just lately, sannyasi usually tend to be divided into simply two distinct orders: “ekadanda” (actually single stick) and “tridanda’ (triple rod or stick) monks. Ekadanda monks are a part of the Sankaracarya custom, and tridanda monks are a part of the sannyasa self-discipline adopted by numerous vaishnava traditions, which has been launched to the west by followers of the reformer Siddhanta Sarasvati. Every of those two orders have their very own traditions of austerities, attributes, and expectations. Life-style and targets The sannyasi lives a celibate life with out possessions, practises yoga meditation — or in different traditions, bhakti, or devotional meditation, with prayers to their chosen deity or God. The purpose of the Hindu Sannsyasin is moksha (liberation), the conception of which additionally varies. For the devotion oriented traditions, liberation consists of union with the Divine, whereas for Yoga oriented traditions, liberation is the expertise of the best samadhi (enlightenment). For the Advaita custom, liberation is the removing of all ignorance and realizing oneself as one with the Supreme Brahman. Among the many 108 Upanishads of the Muktika, 23 of them are thought-about Sannyasa Upanishads.

Inside the Bhagavad Gita, sannyasa is described by Krishna as follows:

“The giving up of actions which can be primarily based on materials want is what nice discovered males name the renounced order of life [sannyasa]. And giving up the outcomes of all actions is what the clever name renunciation [tyaga].” (18.2)[2]

The time period is usually used to indicate a specific section of life. On this section of life, the particular person develops vairāgya, or a state of willpower and detachment from materials life. He renounces all worldly ideas and needs, and spends the remainder of his life in non secular contemplation. It’s the final within the 4 phases of a person, that are known as brahmacharya, grihastha, vanaprastha, and eventually sannyasa, as prescribed by Manusmriti for the Dwija castes, within the Hindu system of life. These 4 levels should not essentially sequential. One can skip one, two or three ashrams, however can by no means revert again to an earlier ashrama or section. Numerous Hindu traditions permit for a person to resign the fabric world from any of the primary three levels of life. Monasticism Not like monks within the Western world, whose lives are regulated by a monastery or an abbey and its guidelines, most Hindu sannyasin are loners and wanderers (parivrājaka). Hindu monasteries (mathas) by no means have an enormous variety of monks residing beneath one roof. The monasteries exist primarily for instructional functions and have grow to be facilities of pilgrimage for the lay inhabitants. Ordination into any Hindu monastic order is only on the discretion of the person guru, or instructor, who ought to himself be an ordained sannyasi inside that order. Most conventional Hindu orders would not have girls sannyasis, however this example is present process modifications in latest occasions.

The guru-shishya custom

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Most important article: Guru and Disciple

One other essential management facet in Hinduism is the guru-shishya custom, a non secular relationship the place information is transmitted from a guru (instructor, गुरू) to a ‘śiṣya’ (disciple, शिष्य) or chela. The closest phrase in English for guru is “nice.” Associated phrases in Sanskrit are Guruttar and Garishth, which have meanings much like higher and best. Hinduism emphasizes the significance of discovering a guru who can impart transcendental information, or (vidyā). Such information, whether or not it’s vedic, agamic inventive, architectural, musical or non secular, is imparted by means of the creating relationship between the guru and the disciple. It’s thought-about that this relationship, primarily based on the genuineness of the guru, and the respect, dedication, devotion and obedience of the scholar, is one of the simplest ways for refined or superior information to be conveyed. The scholar finally masters the information that the guru embodies.

In Indian tradition, an individual and not using a guru or a instructor (acharya) was as soon as seemed down on as an orphan or unlucky one. The phrase anatha in Sanskrit means “the one and not using a instructor.” An acharya is the giver of gyan (information) within the type of shiksha (instruction). A guru additionally offers diksha initiation which is the non secular awakening of the disciple by the grace of the guru. Diksha can also be thought-about to be the process of bestowing the divine powers of a guru upon the disciple, by means of which the disciple progresses repeatedly alongside the trail to divinity.

Parampara is the phrase historically utilized in historical Indian tradition for a succession of lecturers and disciples. Within the parampara system, information (in any discipline) is believed to be handed down from instructor to scholar by means of successive generations. The Sanskrit phrase actually means an uninterrupted sequence or succession. Typically outlined as “the passing down of Vedic information” it’s believed to be at all times entrusted to the lecturers, or ācāryas.[3]

A longtime parampara is usually known as sampradāya, or college of thought. For instance, in Vaishnavism a lot of sampradayas are developed following a single acharya. Whereas some argue for freedom of interpretation others keep that “[al]although an ācārya speaks in response to the time and circumstance by which he seems, he upholds the unique conclusion, or siddhānta, of the Vedic literature.”[3]

Historic background

Starting within the early oral traditions of the Upanishads (c. 2000 B.C.E.), the guru-shishya relationship has developed right into a elementary part of Hinduism. The time period Upanishad derives from the Sanskrit phrases upa (close to), ni (down) and şad (to sit down)—so it means “sitting down close to” a non secular instructor to obtain instruction. The connection between Krishna and Arjuna within the Bhagavad Gita portion of the Mahabharata, and between Rama and Hanuman within the Ramayana are examples. Within the Upanishads, gurus and shishya seem in quite a lot of settings (a husband answering questions on immortality, a teenage boy being taught by Yama, the Hindu Faith’s Lord of Dying, and many others.) Typically the sages are girls, and the directions could also be sought by kings.

Within the Vedas, the brahmavidya or information of Brahman is communicated from guru to shishya by oral lore. Though gurus have historically come solely from the Brahman class, some gurus from decrease castes, together with Guru Ravidass, have appeared and have grow to be famend lecturers with many followers. [4]

Frequent traits of the guru-shishya relationship

Inside the broad spectrum of the Hindu faith, the guru-shishya relationship might be present in quite a few variant kinds together with Tantra. Some widespread components on this relationship embrace:

  • The institution of a instructor/scholar relationship.
  • A proper recognition of this relationship, usually in a structured initiation ceremony the place the guru accepts the provoke as a shishya and in addition accepts duty for the non secular well-being and progress of the brand new shishya.
  • Typically this initiation course of will embrace the conveying of particular esoteric knowledge and/or meditation strategies.
  • Gurudakshina, the place the shishya offers a present to the guru as a token of gratitude, usually the one financial or in any other case price that the scholar ever offers. The standard reward was a cow, a present of nice worth, since cows are sacred to Hindus. The custom has developed over time, and every scholar chooses a present that he feels is acceptable, which can vary from a easy piece of fruit to a large monetary donation towards the guru’s work.

See additionally

  • Guru
  • Guru and Disciple
  • Hinduism
  • Islamic spiritual leaders
  • Holy orders
  • Caste system
  • Indo-Aryan migration



  • Besant, Annie Wooden. The trail of discipleship. Adyar, Madras, India: Theosophical Publishing Home, (unique 1896) 1989. ISBN 9788170591238
  • Case, Margaret H. Seeing Krishna: the spiritual world of a Brahman household in Vrindaban. New York: Oxford College Press, 2000. ISBN 9780195130119
  • Cosgrove, Eugene Milne. The Excessive stroll of discipleship 1945. Gardners Books, 2007. ISBN 9780548054888
  • Goswami, Satsvarupa Dasa. Readings in Vedic Literature: The Custom Speaks for Itself. Bhaktivedanta Guide Belief, 1985, ISBN 0981830117
  • Jagannātha Dīkṣita Cipol̲aṇakara, and H. G. Ranade. Brahmatva-mañjarī = Brahmatva-mañjarī : position of the Brahman priest within the Vedic ritual. (Ranade publication sequence, no. 3.) Poona: H.G. Ranade, 1984. OCLC: 15487624
  • Barnes, Michael, Margaret Hebblethwaite, and Peter Hebblethwaite. Traditions of non secular steerage: the guru in Hinduism. London: The Approach, 1984. OCLC: 128292184
  • Pechilis, Karen. The swish guru: Hindu feminine gurus in India and the USA. New York: Oxford College Press, 2004. ISBN 9780195145380
  • Thekkudan, Anto P. Sannyasa And Non secular Formation in Hinduism. Alwaye, India: St. Thomas Academy for Analysis, 1988.
  • Abhishiktananda. The additional shore: Sannyasa and the Upanishads, an introduction: two essays. Delhi: I.S.P.C.Ok., 1975, OCLC: 2929851

All hyperlinks retrieved December 24, 2017.

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  • ‘The Music of the Sannyasin’, poem by Swami Vivekanandaariseawake.com.
  • The Inside That means of Sannyasa newurbanhabitat.com.
  • Brahman As The Priest of the Creation Sacrifice
  • Encyclopedia for Epics of Historic India: Brahmanmythfolklore.internet.
  • HinduPriest.org
  • Hindu Guru newurbanhabitat.com.