Introduction / History
The history of the Brahmins is associated with the Vedic religion of early India, usually referred to as Sanatana Dharma. Brahmins first came to be noticed 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 during pre-modern India. Discrimination became 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. 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. The Smartha are one of the many Brahmin Hindu sects, and the Dikshitar are a Smartha subgroup. The Dikshitar Smartha Brahmins live in Tamil Nadu. They speak, read and write in Tamil and they are usually vegetarians.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Dikshitar Brahmins are priests, but many work for the government and some are self-employed. There are professionals, teachers and administration workers among them. Brahmins are generally among the well-to-do in India and place a high value on education. Thus, an inordinate percentage of Brahmins are among the Hindus who have migrated to the West where they can easily be reached. 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 often done in secret). In modern India some Brahmins claim reverse discrimination due to affirmative action policies of the central and state governments that favor lower caste groups.
What Are Their Beliefs?
Most modern Brahmins do not espouse a doctrine of their superiority by birth above other peoples. It was also noted that many are now secularists. But most Brahmins respect the ancient (and many not-so-ancient) traditions of their forefathers. Some work to synthesize modern science and Hindu beliefs and practices. There are hundreds of "denominations" of Hinduism and Brahmins have a presence in many; so it is not easy to generalize on what Brahmins believe. Smartha Brahmins, like the Dikshitar community, give more weight to the Smriti corpus rather than other sets of ancient writings like the ritual laden Sruti corpus. Some of them follow gurus. Few today have seriously studied, let alone memorized, the ancient Vedas; but one is more likely to find a person knowledgeable about the Vedas and other Hindu texts and teachings among Brahmins than among any non-Brahmin caste group.
What Are Their Needs?
Like other Brahmins, the Dikshitar Smarthas need the humility to understand that they need a Savior, and only Jesus Christ can fulfill this essential role.
Pray that believers will reach out to these Brahmins in appropriate ways. Pray for dreams and visions for Smartha Brahmin elders that will open their hearts and minds to Jesus Christ. Pray for spiritual openness that will lead them to Jesus Christ.
Scripture Prayers for the Brahmin Dikshitar in India.