In Sanskrit there's brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण), which is a term used for people, and para-brahman (परब्रह्मन्), which is a term used for gods.

What are the etymologies of the words brahman (ब्रह्मन्) and brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण)?

Wiktionary says brāhmaṇa comes from the root बृंहति (bṛṃhati), but is there more detailed information?

ब्राह्मण • (brāhmaṇ) m

a Brahmin (member of the highest caste of Hinduism traditionally regarded as priests)


From the root बृंहति (bṛṃhati), and this from the verbal Proto-Indo-European root *bʰerǵʰ- (“to become high, rise, elevate”).

4 Answers 4


Brahman is that which is permanent in things that change. It is without name and form, which two are the characteristic natures of the world of appearance, and is essentially existence-absolute. Existence can never change, never perish, though things in which also it is, perish. Hence existence is the nature of Reality and is different from the things of form and name.

According to a commentary of Shri Madhavacharya on Srimad Bhagwat Gita Chapter 4 Verse 8

The Supreme Lord Krishna is also designated as Brahman which means eternal in time and dynamic in creativity and is the all pervading luminosity of His effulgence. It is not inert or passive. The word Brahman which is derived from the root brh means to grow, to burst forth which infers constant, continuous creativity, perpetually manifesting. That which is dynamic and creative cannot remain static and passive.

Here is an another source from Indian Philosophy

The word ‘brahman’ is derived from the root ‘bṛṃhati’ meaning ‘great’ which again is not limited by any qualification of time, space, or quality, that is, which is unlimitedly great. We have to accept this meaning because there is nothing to signify any limitation of any kind (saṃkocakābhāvāt). The Brahman is different from all that is animate (cetana) and inanimate (acetana). There are two kinds of energy: that which is the representative of the material power or energy (jaḍa-śakti), which transforms itself in the form of the material universe under the direction or instrumentality of the Brahman; and there is also the energy as consciousness (cicchakti), and this consciousness energy, as we find it in animate beings, is also controlled by the Brahman

  • any information about the source of bṛṃhati?
    – Sparkler
    Feb 15, 2016 at 23:46
  • @Sparkler IDK what are you talking about 'brmhati' is a sanskrit word which means great or supreme. Feb 16, 2016 at 0:01
  • ok, but does it have a known source on its own?
    – Sparkler
    Feb 16, 2016 at 0:12
  • 3
    That quote isn't from the Bhagavad Gita, it's from Madhvacharya's commentary on the Bhagavad Gita, so you should mention that in your answer. Feb 16, 2016 at 0:47

The word Brahman is explained in Vishnu Puran

The syllable Om is defined to be the eternal monosyllabic Brahman. The word Brahman is derived from the root Vriha (to increase), because it is infinite (spirit), and because it is the cause by which the Vedas (and all things) are developed. Glory to Brahman, who is addressed by that mystic word, associated eternally with the triple universe, and who is one with the four Vedas. Glory to Brahman, who, alike in the destruction and renovation of the world, is called the great and mysterious cause of the intellectual principle (Mahat); who is without limit in time or space, and exempt from diminution or decay; in whom (as connected with the property of darkness) originates worldly illusion; and in whom resides the end of soul (fruition or liberation), through the properties of light and of activity (or goodness and foulness). He is the refuge of those who are versed in the Sánkhya philosophy; of those who have acquired control over their thoughts and passions. He is the invisible, imperishable Brahman; varying in form, invariable in substance; the chief principle, self-engendered; who is said to illuminate the caverns of the heart; who is indivisible, radiant, undecaying, multiform. To that supreme Brahman be for ever adoration.

The primordial sound, syllable "Om" is also called Shabda Brahman because it represents Brahman and it is the sound with which Brahman expands. Om is Brahman and Brahman is Om.


It seems bṛṃhati is not the root. It would be bṛh If you conjugate it (1st conjugation-mode), it would give bṛṃhati as 3º person singular present. You can conjugate roots at https://sanskrit.inria.fr/DICO/grammar.fr.html

Check on the site how to write Sanskrit characters, as it may be different. Eg. bṛh should be written b.rh in 'Velthuis transliteration'.


Brahman only means to be in a state where the soul consciousness vibrates along with that of the Brahma. Any person who can achieve / experience such a state is called a Brahmana ... the Brahmin.

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