Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online

Get access

(3,344 words)

Deriving from the Sanskrit root brḥ-, the literal meaning of brahman is “growth” or “expansion.” It becomes a central notion in the Upaniṣads. Although it is used in different ways across these texts, such as a “formulation of truth” and as a “pure realm,” its primary aim seems to be to stand for some ultimate wholeness, which can integrate all existence. In many contexts in the Upaniṣads, it is a formal term that indicates an absolute principle, something that itself does not depend on further investigation. The Upaniṣads tend to treat brahman in two different ways (see Brereton,…

Cite this page
Ram-Prasad, Chakravarthi, “Brahman”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online, Editor-in-Chief Associate Editors Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, Vasudha Narayanan. Consulted online on 27 March 2023 <>
First published online: 2018

▲   Back to top   ▲