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#827 - February 23, 2003 03:34 PM Caste, Varna and Jati
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Today, people think that the rigid caste system operated in India is the result of ancient requirements of religion. But just how
much of this rigidity was due to their religion? Or how much was it due to a conscious direction by the British to create artificial
divisions in order to make it easier to divide and rule the sub-continent and its people?

http://www.britishempire.co.uk/

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#828 - February 23, 2003 03:37 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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> http://www.deccan.com/headlines/lead6.shtml
> DECCAN CHRONICLE, JULY 27, 2001
> Amnesty raps India on Dalits
> London, July 26: A damning Amnesty

International report on racism around the world has attacked India for its "hidden apartheid" against 160 million Dalits, who
belong to the socially underprivileged classes.


Can we honestly say that Amnesty International is wrong?


> "Despite the abolition of untouchability, Dalits continue to be discriminated on the basis of their descent," Amnesty said in
its report. "They are marginalised, particularly in rural areas," the report said. "Among the violations persistently reported are
torture including rape, arbitrary arrests and extra-judicial executions."

> Amnesty said Dalits also suffer violence in the community. "Abuses against Dalits frequently go unpunished, with local police
frequently refusing to record complaints by Dalits," Amnesty said.

> "Much evidence points towards a connivance between powerful caste groups and the police in violent attacks against Dalits,"
Amnesty said.

Isnt't this true?

India had 53 years to resolve this matter within the boundaries of its sovereignity, at least to some level of acceptability. It has
failed. It has lost its moral mandate. Various reasons prevent us from resolving the issue and integrating. Wisdom says 'We
need international involvement to change the image of our efforts and provide some degree of confidence where its necessary".

One option is a parallel Dalit police force and paramilitary force assisted, advised and officered by UN military personnel,
Interpol that works jointly with the Indian police in all criminal matters that involves dalits.

I can already imagine a steep decline in dalit related crimes in a taluk, when its known that there is a regiment of Interpol and
SAS trained Dalit Paramilitary Regiment officered by Black Americans and Africans in the vicinity.

Why should we object at all when the international community is willing to assist us in implementing our own laws and
constitution?

It is interesting to note that Hinduism really took off in theinternational stage in the fifties and sixties BECAUSE of intense
involvement of americans and westerners.

Any other views?

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#829 - February 23, 2003 03:39 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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The following article appeared in Sify News, Jan 29, 2003.

http://news.sify.com/cgi-bin/sifynews/news/content/news_fullstory_v2.jsp?article\
_oid=12564633&category_oid=-31504&page_no=1

Vedas, Hindu scriptures prohibit casteism; by O.P. Gupta


Over centuries, the percentage of Hindus in the world and
even in India has
been declining. The share of Hindus in total population of
India was 84.98
percent in the 1951 census, 82.7 percent in 1971, 82.6
percent in 1981 and
82.41 percent in 1991.

In the 2001 census report (table 24), it has been further
revised downwards
to 82 per cent in 1991 census.

This decline warrants serious introspection and reappraisal
of our
socio-religious norms. Whereas Islamic and Christian priests have been
working overtime to seek new converts so as to increase their demographic
weight, bulk of Hindu priests unaware of Rigvedic norms but, armed with
Manusmriti have been functioning in such manner over last one thousand that
years reduces population of Hindus by making it difficult for a sizeable
chunk of Hindus (now called ST/SC/Dalits) to let them remain Hindus with
honour and dignity; and, by not seeking new converts to Hinduism.

Concepts like castes by birth, upper/lower castes, untouchables and dalits
are expressly prohibited by Rigveda, Ramayana and Shrimad Bhagwat Gita.

Protagonists of castes by birth cite Purus-Sukta (X.90.12) of Rigveda and
slokas (IV.13) and (XVIII.41) of Gita. This claim is totally knocked down
by other richas of Rigveda, other slokas of Gita and examples set by Lord Rama.

There is no birth based caste in Rigveda is evident from simple fact that
names of none of Rigvedic rishis carry any present day caste titles like
Pandit, Sharma, Tripathi, Chaturvedi, Trivedi, Singh, Gupta and Namboodari.

Vedas, Valmiki Ramayan and Gita are three and only three supreme religious
scriptures of Hindus. Rigveda has revelations to 414 rishis. Rigveda was
composed around 1500 BC but other school believes it to be older than 5000 BC.

Rigveda does not mention cotton whereas the oldest cotton seeds found in
Afghanistan are carbon dated to 5000 BC.

All others (Brahmanas, Upnishads, Puranas, Sutras, Smrities) are just
commentaries, stories mixed with historical accounts and poets' imaginations.

All writings in Sanskrit are not religious scriptures. Therefore, these
latter compositions must yield to supremacy of Vedas. It is not a new
assertion as these themselves acknowledge supremacy of Vedas. For example,
Manusmriti vide Sloka (II.6), states that Vedas are the primary/first
source of authority. So, it is logical that all such slokas of Manusmriti
which are violative of Veda stand rejected.

Justice A.M. Bhattacharjee in his book "Hindu Law and the Constitution"
says that by a rule of interpretation, if the shruti (Vedas) and the smriti
differ on any point, the former is to prevail.


Ramayana and Mahabharata were composed after Vedas. Shrimad Bhagwat Gita is
a part of Mahabharata. It is believed that Manusmriti was composed during
Kushan period, about 100 years after Chankya/Kautilya. Arthur A. Macdonnel
in his book "A History of Sanskrit Literature" (1899 AD) estimates that
Manusmriti in its present form was composed near about 200 AD.

In his book, Macdonnel warns that the smritis are not on the same footings
as law books of other nations as these are works of private individuals
(Brahmins); these were written by Brahimins for benefit of Brahinins whose
caste pretentions these books consequently exaggerate.

None of these books from Manusmriti onwards were approved by any Dharam
Sansad (religious congregation). Macdonnel advises to check
statements/claims made in smrities by outside sources.

Text of Manusmriti has been tampered with was acknowledged by Sir William
Jones, an employee of the East India Company who introduced it as the Law
book of Hindus in British Indian Courts.

As devil is there in the details, let us look at English translations of
(X.90.11 & 12). HH Wilson translates "When they immolated Purusa, into how
many portions did they divide him? What was his mouth called, what his
arms, what his thighs, what were his feet called? His mouth became the
Brahmana, his arms became the Rajnya, his thighs became the Vaishya, and
the Sudra was born from his feet." Ralph T.H. Griffith translates: "When
they divided Purusa how many portions did they make? What do they call his
mouth, his arms? What do they call his thighs and feet?" The Brahman was
his mouth, of both his arms Rajnya was made. His thighs became Vaishya,
from his feet the Sudra was produced."

This context, this background that, division of body of Purusa into four
parts was done to kill/ immolate/sacrifice the Purusa has been totally
suppressed in Manusmriti.

In sloka (I.31), Manusmriti wrongly claims, that for growth of people
(lokanbridhi) Brahma created Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra from
mouth, arms, thighs and feet. With a view to create hereditary monopoly on
easy money of dakshina, greedy priests centuries after Vedas concocted that
as Brahman was born from mouth of Purusa, he was the superior most and as
Sudra was born from feet which is impure part of body he was impure and the
inferior most.

Manusmriti (5/132) states that organs above nabhi are sacred (pavitra) and
those below are impure (apivatra). There is no sanction for such a
hypothesis in Rigveda.

What Rishi Narain, composer of (X.90) was revealed is a very simple common
sense, that even the most powerful man like Purusa can be
immolated/destroyed if his mouth, arms, thighs and feet are separated.

If we kill a person what do we do? We cut his body into pieces. This is
what followers of Manusmriti have been doing over centuries -
destroying/immolating Hinduism from within by dividing/separating Hindus
among different castes by birth, at fratricidal war with each other, thus,
reducing Hindu population.

By throwing Sudras out of villages, followers of Manu amputated feet of
Hinduism, thus, made Hinduism crippled. Will followers of Manusmriti agree
to get their own feet amputated on the same logic that legs are impure
parts of their bodies?

Another interpretation of (X.90.11 & 12) is creative i.e. emergence of a
powerful (virat) man from Yajna. Acharya Shri Ram Sharma of Bareilly
translates (in Hindi) "Virat purus kitne prakaroo se utpanna huvey. Unka
mukh Brahman, bhuja kshatriye, janghaye vaishya aur charan sudra huye."

Acharya translates these on lines of creation not immolation, so, body of
Purus is not divided into four limbs.

By common sense, a virat Purus is one who is healthy and one is healthy
only if his mouth, arms, thighs and feet are joined together and work in
perfect harmony with each other.

Whenever this harmony among different parts of body is disturbed/destroyed,
he becomes paralysed and sick. So, what Rishi Narain is saying is that a
Society will emerge as the most powerful Society like the Virat Purus only
if its intelligentia (educated people i.e. Brahmans), Government (Rajnya),
business community (Vaishya) and professionals & workers (Sudra) are joined
together and work in as perfect harmony with each other as mouth, arms,
thighs and feet of any healthy person work.

These two richas, thus, emphasise total equality, perfect unity &
complementarity of all the four classes of people to make a Society powerful.

In a healthy person, mouth does not claim to be superior to legs, arms do
not claim any superiority over legs and arms do not function independently
of head (Parkinsons's disease), as each part of a body is composed of
identically same materials and is functionally dependent upon each other.

No part of body is inferior or superior to other part of body. Each
dependent on the other, each complementary to the other. Thus, Purus Sukta
commands harmony, unity and equality i.e. none of the four classes is
inferior or superior to other and each is dependent on the other for its
healthy survival.

But, just the opposite interpretation was created by greedy priests and
British Courts to divide and rule.

Those who say that as Sudra represent feet of Virat Purus, and, as feet is
impure so Sudras are impure should know that richa (X.90.14) says that
earth was born from same feet of Purusa. So, based on (X.90.14) Sudras will
be justified to claim the entire earth as exclusively theirs.

There is no stipulation of high or low by birth in Rigveda. Many rishis of
Rigveda under current Manusmriti definition were not Brahmins. There are at
least ten Rigvedic richas showing that profession was not hereditary.

In richas (V.23.1) and (V.23.2) Rishi Dyumna prays to Agni "Bestow Agni,
upon Dyumna, a son, overcoming foes by his prowess; one who may with glory
subdue all men in battle" (HH Wilson).

In (IX.112.3) another rishi says "I am the singer, papa is the physician."
So, father of a Rigvedic rishi is a physician but in Manusmriti a physician
is a sudra.

HH Wilson translates (X.125.5) "I verily of myself declare this which is
approved by both gods and men; whosoever I will, I render him formidable, I
make him a Brahma, a rishi or a sage." This richa appears in Atharveda
(IV.30.03) also.

So in Rigveda profession is not hereditary but by training. In (X.98.7)
Devapi, is functioning as a purohit to his own brother King Shantanu.

Some assert that Arayns were/are fair complexioned people and sudras are
dark skinned. They also claim that four varnas were based on colours of
skin. This is not true as Lord Rama and Lord Krishna are always depicted in
coloured pictures as dark complexioned (shyama varna). Rishi Kanva who
richly contributed to Rigveda was himself a dark skinned person vide RV
(X.31.11).

Higher caste/lower caste and untouchability are in direct contradiction to
12 other richas of Vedas viz. RV (VIII.93.13), RV (X.191), Atharveda III.30
and VII.54 (or VII.52) and Yujurveda (26.02) and (36.18). Unity in
diversity is famous Indian motto.

Cows of different colours like black, red and spotted ones give white milk
(RV VIII.93.13) is a metaphor used in Vedas for diversity yielding to unity.

HH Wilson translates (X.191.2): "Meet together, talk together, let your
minds apprehend alike: in like manner as the ancient gods concurring
accepted their portion of the sacrifice." RV (X.191.3) "Common be the
prayer of these (assembled worshippers), common be the acquirement, common
the purpose, associated be the desire. I repeat for you a common prayer, I
offer for you a common oblation." RV (X.191.4) "Common (worshippers), be
your intention; common be (the wishes of) your heart; common be your
thoughts, so that there may be thorough union among you."

W.D. Whitney & K.L. Joshi translate Atharveda (III.30.1) "like-heartedness,
like mindedness, non-hostility do I make for you; do you show affection the
one towards the other, as the inviolable (cow) towards her calf when born."
(III.30.5): "Having superior intentful, be you not divided, accomplishing
together, moving on with joint labour come hither speaking what is
agreeable one to another, I make you united, like minded." (III.30.6):
"Your drinking saloon be the same, in common your share of food, in the
same harness do I join you together; worship you Agni united, like spokes
about a navel." (III.30.7): "Untied, like minded I make you, of one bunch,
all of you, by (my conciliation; (be) like the gods defending amrita; late
and early be well-willing yours."

Supporters of casteism oftenly quote slokas (IV.13) and (XVIII.41) of Gita
to support four castes by birth. In sloka (IV.13) Lord Krishna says:
"Chaturvarnyma mayaa sristam gunkarma vibhagsah" i.e. four orders of
society created by Me according to their Guna (qualities/behaviour) and
Karma (profession/work/efforts).

Lord Krishna does not say guna and karma of previous life. In (XVIII.41)
Lord Krishna says "Brahmana Kshatriya visham sudranam cha paramtapa,
karmani pravibhaktani svabhavaprabhavaigunaih." It means people have been
grouped into four classes according to their present life karma
(profession/work) and svabhava (behaviour).

Had this division been based on birth, Lord Krishna would have naturally
used "Janmani pravibhaktani" in (XVIII.41).

In (X.20) Lord Krishna says "ahamatama gudakesa sarvabhutaa sayasthitah"
i.e. "Arjuna! I am the universal self seated in the hearts of all beings."
Here, Lord neither excludes sudra from "all beings" nor excludes Himself
from being in hearts of sudra.

In (XVIII.61) Lord says "eshwarah sarvabhutaanaam hraddesearjuna tisthati"
i.e. Arjuna! God abides in the heart of all living beings." Again, sudras
are not excluded.

In (XIV.4) Lord Krishna says "of all embodied beings Arjuna, prakrti or
nature is the conceiving Mother, while I am the seed giving Father." Thus,
Lord Krishna says that he is as much Father of sudras as he is Father of
any other Hindu.

In (XVI.18) Lord Krishna says: "Given over to egotism, brute force,
arrogance, etc. they hate Me dwelling in their own bodies as well as those
of others."

Thus, Lord Krishna instructs that a Hindu must not hate bodies of others
Hindus as He is there in bodies of all so Gita prohibits untouchability.

In (XVI.19) Lord curses Manu supporters: "These haters, sinful, cruel and
vilest among men, I cast (them) again and again into demonical yonies
(wombs)." In (XVI.20) Lord again curses Manu supporters: "Failing to reach
Me, Arjuna, these stupid souls are born life after life in demoniac wombs
(asura yoni) and then verily sink down to a still lower plane." In
(XVIII.71) and (V.18) Lord again instructs equality of all Hindus.

Shrimad Valmiki Ramayan (1.1.98 to 100) also says whosoever including sudra
reads it will achieve greatness and get rid of all sins. Thus, Vedas,
Ramayana and Gita confer authority on sudras to possess and read all these.

In Ramayan, Lord Rama has set following two lessons for all Hindus which we
witness every year in Ramlilas but never follow in our practical lives.

Ravana was a grandson of risi Pulatsya. He was an expert on Vedas too. So,
he was a Brahimin by birth under Manu definition as well as a Brahimin
(educated) by qualification (veda-gyata) but he and most of his family
members were killed by Lord Rama for their wrong doings. So, the first
lesson of Ramayana is that everyone is equal before law.

Lord Rama visited Shabri, called her a mother (mata); ate food from her
hands and washed feet of Nisadraj. Lord Rama lived for years among vanvasi
(tribals). So the second lesson of Ramayana is that a true Rambhakta should
never discriminate against SC/ST/Dalit Hindus, should never hesitate to
visit and dine with them. Mahatma Gandhi always followed both these two
lessons of Ramayana.

Thus, the central command of the 14 harmony richas and 10 profession not
hereditary richas of Vedas is that all Hindus are totally equal by birth,
of one bunch, share same water and food, worship together united in same
temple, common are prayers, common purpose, common thoughts, united like
spokes of a wheel, common oblation and friendly towards each others.

One becomes a warrior (Rajnya), Brahman (educated ones) or rishi, not by
birth but by his efforts/training (karma) vide RV (X.125.5). No one is
superior and no one is inferior by birth.

[The writer is the Ambassador of India to Finland and above are his
personal views.]

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#830 - February 23, 2003 03:41 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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CASTE IN SOCIETY AND NOT IN RELIGION

by Swami Vivekananda

Though our castes and our institutions are apparently linked with our
religion, they are not so. These institutions have been necessary to protect
us as a nation, and when this necessity for self-preservation will no more
exist, they will die a natural death. In religion there is no caste. A man
from the highest caste and a man from the lowest may become a monk in India
and the two castes become equal. The caste system is opposed to the religion
of Vedanta.

Caste is a social custom, and all our great preachers have tried to
break it down. From Buddhism downwards, every sect has preached against
caste,
and every time it has only riveted the chains. Beginning from Buddha to
Rammohan Ray, everyone made the mistake of holding caste to be a religious
institution and tried to pull down religion and caste altogether, and
failed.

In spite of all the ravings of the priests, caste is simply a
crystallized social institution, which after doing its service is now
filling
the atmosphere of India with its stench, and it can only be removed by
giving
back to people their lost social individuality. Caste is simply the
outgrowth
of the political institutions of India; it is a hereditary trade guild.
Trade
competition with Europe has broken caste more than any teaching.

THE UNDERLYING IDEA OF THE CASTE SYSTEM

The older I grow, the better I seem to think of caste and such other
time-honored institutions of India. There was a time when I used to think
that
many of them were useless and worthless, but the older I grow, the more I
seem to feel a difference in cursing any one of them, for each one of them
is
the embodiment of the experience of centuries.

A child of but yesterday, destined to die the day after tomorrow,
comes
to me and asks me to change all my plans and if I hear the advice of that
baby
and change all my surroundings according to his ideas I myself should be a
fool, and no one else. Much of the advice that is coming to us from
different
countries is similar to this. Tell these wiseacres, "I will hear you when
you
have made a stable society yourselves. You cannot hold on to one idea for
two
days, you quarrel and fail; you are born like moths in the spring and die
like
them in five minutes.

You come up like bubbles and burst like bubbles too. First form a
stable society like ours. First make laws and institutions that remains
undiminished in their power through scores of centuries. Then will be the
time to talk on the subject with you, but till then, my friend, you are only
a giddy child."

Caste is a very good thing. Caste is the plan we want to follow. What
caste really is, not one in a million understands. There is no country in
the
world without caste. Caste is based throughout on that principle. The plan
in
India is to make everybody Brahmana, the Brahmana being the ideal of
humanity.
If you read the history of India you will find that attempts have always
been
made to raise the lower classes. Many are the classes that have been raised.
Many more will follow till the whole will become Brahmana. That is the plan.

Our ideal is the Brahmana of spiritual culture and renunciation. By
the
Brahmana ideal what do I mean? I mean the ideal Brahmana-ness in which
worldliness is altogether absent and true wisdom is abundantly present. That
is the ideal of the Hindu race. Have you not heard how it is declared he,
the
Brahmana, is not amenable to law, that he has no law, that he is not
governed
by kings, and that his body cannot be hurt? That is perfectly true. Do not
understand it in the light thrown upon it by interested and ignorant fools,
but understand it in the light of the true and original Vedantic
conception..

If the Brahmana is he who has killed all selfishness and who lives to
acquire and propagate wisdom and the power of love - if a country is
altogether inhabited by such Brahmanas, by men and women who are spiritual
and
moral and good, is it strange to think of that country as being above and
beyond all law? What police, what Military are necessary to govern them? Why
should any one govern them at all? Why should they live under a government?
They are good and noble, and they are the men of God; these are our ideal
Brahmanas, and we read that in the SatyaYuga there was only one caste, and
that was the Brahmana. We read in the Mahabharata that the whole world was
in
the beginning peopled with Brahmanas, and that as they began to degenerate
they became divided into different castes, and that when the cycle turns
round
they will all go back to that Brahmanical origin.

The son of a Brahmana is not necessarily always a Brahmana; though
there is every possibility of his being one, he may not become so. The
Brahmana caste and the Brahmana quality are two distinct things. As there
are
sattva, rajas and tamas - one or other of these gunas more or less - in
every
man, so the qualities which make a Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya or a Shudra
are inherent in every man, more or less. But at time one or other of these
qualities predominates in him in varying degrees and is manifested
accordingly.
Take a man in his different pursuits, for example : when he is engaged in
serving another for pay, he is in Shudra-hood; when he is busy transacting
some piece of business for profit, on his account, he is a Vaishya; when he
fights to right wrongs then the qualities of a Kshatriya come out in him;
and
when he meditates on God, or passes his time in conversation about Him, then
he is a Brahmana. Naturally, it is quite possible for one to be changed from
one caste into another. Otherwise, how did Viswamitra become a Brahmana and
Parashurama a Kshatriya?

The means of European civilization is the sword; of the Aryans, the
division into different varnas. This system of division into varnas is the
stepping-stone to civilization, making one rise higher and higher in
proportion to one's learning and culture. In Europe, it is everywhere
victory
to the strong and death to the weak. In the land of Bharata (India), every
social rule is for the protection of the weak.

Such is our ideal of caste, as meant for raising all humanity slowly
and gently towards the realization of the great ideal of spiritual man, who
is
non-resisting, calm, steady, worshipful, pure and meditative. In that ideal
there is God.

We believe in Indian caste as one of the greatest social institutions
that the Lord gave to man. We also believe that through the unavoidable
defects, foreign persecutions, and above all, the monumental ignorance and
pride of many Brahmanas who do not deserve the name, have thwarted in many
ways, the legitimate fructification of this glorious Indian institution, it
has already worked wonders for the land of Bharata and it destined to lead
Indian humanity to its goal.

Caste should not go; but should be readjusted occasionally. Within th
e
old structure is to be life enough for the building of two hundred thousand
new ones. It is sheer nonsense to desire the abolition of caste.

INEQUALITY OF PRIVILEGE VITIATES THE SYSTEM

It is in the nature of society to form itself into groups; and what
will go will be these privileges! Caste is a natural order. I can perform
one
duty in social life, and you another; you can govern a country, and I can
mend
a pair of old shoes, but that is no reason why you are greater than I, for
can
you mend my shoes? Can I govern the country? I am clever in mending shoes,
you
are clever in reading Vedas, that is no reason why you should trample on my
head; why if one commits murder should he be praised and if another steals
an
apple why should he be hanged? This will have to go.

Caste is good. That is only natural way of solving life. Men must
form
themselves into groups, and you cannot get rid of that. Wherever you go
there
will be caste. But that does not mean that there should be these privileges.
They should be knocked on the head. If you teach Vedanta to the fisherman,
he
will say, "I am as good a man as you, I am a fisherman, you are a
philosopher,
but I have the same God in me, as you have in you." And that is what we
want,
no privilege for anyone, equal chances for all; let everyone be taught that
the
Divine is within, and everyone will work out his own salvation. The days of
exclusive privileges and exclusive claims are gone, gone for ever from the
soil of India.

UNTOUCHABILITY - A SUPERSTITIOUS ACCRETION

Formerly the characteristic of the noble-minded was -
(tribhuvanamupakara shrenibhih priyamanah) "to please the whole universe by
one's numerous acts of service", but now it is - I am pure and the whole
world
is impure. "Don't touch me!" "Don't touch me!" The whole world is impure,
and
I alone am pure! Lucid Brahmajnana! Bravo! Great God! Nowadays, Brahman is
neither in the recesses of the heart, nor in the highest heaven, nor in all
beings - now He is in the cooking pot!

We are orthodox Hindus, but we refuse entirely to identify ourselves
with "Don't- touchism". That is not Hinduism; it is in none of our books; it
is an orthodox superstition, which has interfered with national efficiency
all along the line. Religion has entered in the cooking pot. The present
religion of the Hindus is neither the path of Knowledge or Reason - it is
"Don't-touchism". - "Don't touch me", "Don't touch me" - that exhausts its
description.

"Don't touchism" is a form of mental disease. Beware! All expansion
is
life, all contraction is death. All love is expansion, all selfishness is
contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. See that you do not
lose
your lives in this dire irreligion of "Don't- touchism". Must the teaching
(Atmavat sarvabhuteshu) - "Looking upon all beings as your own self" - be
confined to books alone? How will they grant salvation who cannot feed a
hungry mouth with a crumb of bread? How will those, who become impure at the
mere breath of others, purify others?

We must cease to tyrannize. To what a ludicrous state are we brought!
If a bhangi comes to anybody as a bhangi, he would be shunned as the plague;
but no sooner does he get a cupful of water poured upon his head with some
muttering of prayers by a padri, and get a coat to his back, no matter how
threadbare, and come into the room of the most orthodox Hindu, I don't see
the
man who then dare refuse him a chair and a hearty shake of hands! Irony can
go
no farther.

Just see, for want of sympathy from the Hindus, thousands of pariahs
in
Madras are turning Christians. Don't think that this is simply due to the
pinch of hunger; it is because they do not get any sympathy from us. We are
day and night calling out to them "Don't touch us! Don't touch us!" Is there
any compassion or kindliness of heart in the country? Only a class of
"Don't-
touchists" ; kick such customs out! I sometimes feel the urge to break the
barriers of "Don't-touchism", go at once and call out, "Come all who are
poor,
miserable, wretched and downtrodden", and to bring them all together. Unless
they rise, the Mother will not awake.

Each Hindu, I say, is a brother to every other, and it is we, who
have
degraded them by our outcry, "Don't touch", "Don't touch!" And so the whole
country has been plunged to the utmost depths of meanness, cowardice and
ignorance. These men have to be lifted; words of hope and faith have to be
proclaimed to them. We have to tell them, "You are also men like us and you
have all the rights that we have."

SOLUTION OF THE CASTE PROBLEM

Our solution of the caste question is not degrading those who are
already high up, is not running amuck through food and drink, is not jumping
out of our own limits in order to have more enjoyment, but it comes by every
one of us fulfilling the dictates of our Vedantic religion, by our attaining
spirituality and by our becoming ideal Brahmana. There is a law laid on each
one of you in this land by your ancestors, whether you are Aryans, or
non-Aryans, rishis or Brahmanas or the very lowest outcaste. The command is
the same to you all, that you must make progress without stopping, and that
from the highest man to the lowest pariah, every one in this country has to
try and become the ideal Brahmana. This Vedantic idea is applicable not only
here but over the whole world.

The Brahmana-hood is the ideal of humanity in India as wonderfully
put
forward by Shankaracharya at the beginning of his commentary on the Gita,
where he speaks about the reason for Krishna's coming as a preacher for the
preservation of Brahmana-hood, of Brahmana-ness. That was the great end.
This
Brahmana, the man of God, he who has known Brahman, the ideal man, the
perfect
man, must remain, he must not go. And with all the defects of the caste now,
we know that we must all be ready to give to the Brahmanas this credit, that
from them have come more men with real Brahmana-ness in them than from all
the
other castes. We must be bold enough, must be brave enough to speak their
defects, but at the same time we must give credit that is due to them.

Therefore, it is no use fighting among the castes. What good will it
do? It will divide us all the more, weaken us all the more, degrade us all
the
more. The solution is not by bringing down the higher, but by raising the
lower
up to the level of the higher. And that is the line of work that is found in
all our books, in spite of what you may hear from some people whose
knowledge
of their own Scriptures and whose capacity to understand the mighty plans of
the ancients are only zero. What is the plan? The ideal at the one end is
the
Brahmana and the ideal at the other end is the chandala, and the whole work
is
to raise the chandala up to the Brahmana. Slowly and slowly you will find
more
and more privileges granted to them.

I regret that in modern times there should be so much discussion
between the castes. This must stop. It is useless on both sides, especially
on
the side of the higher caste, the Brahmana, the day for these privileges and
exclusive claims is gone. The duty of every aristocracy is to dig its own
grave, and the sooner it does so, the better. The more he delays, the more
it
will fester and the worse death it will die. It is the duty of the Brahmana,
therefore, to work for the salvation of the rest of mankind, in India. If he
does that and so long as he does that, he is a Brahmana.

Any one who claims to be a Brahmana, then, should prove his
pretensions, first by manifesting that spirituality, and next by raising
others to the same status. We earnestly entreat the Brahmanas not to forget
the ideal of India - the production of a universe of Brahmanas, pure as
purity, good as God Himself : this was at the beginning, says the
Mahabharata
and so will it be in the end.

It seems that most of the Brahmanas are only nursing a false pride of
birth; and any schemer, native or foreign, who can pander to this vanity and
inherent laziness, by fulsome sophistry, appears to satisfy more.

Beware Brahmanas, this is the sign of death! Arise and show your
manhood, your Brahmana-hood, by raising the non-Brahmanas around you - not
in
the spirit of a master - not with the rotten canker of egoism crawling with
superstitions and charlatanry of East and West - but in the spirit of a
servant. To the Brahmanas I appeal, that they must work hard to raise the
Indian people by teaching them what they know, by giving out the culture
that
they have accumulated for centuries. It is clearly the duty of the Brahmanas
of India to remember what real Brahmana-hood is. As Manu says, all these
privileges and honors are given to the Brahmana because, "with him is the
treasury of virtue". He must open that treasury and distribute to the world.

It is true that he was the earliest preacher to the Indian races, he
was the first to renounce everything in order to attain to the higher
realization of life, before others could reach to the idea. It was not his
fault that he marched ahead of the other castes. Why did not the other
castes
so understand and do as they did? Why did they sit down and be lazy, and let
the Brahmanas win the race?

But it is one thing to gain an advantage, and another thing to
preserve
it for evil use. Whenever power is used for evil it becomes diabolical; it
must be used for good only. So this accumulated culture of ages of which the
Brahmana has been the trustee, he must now give to the people, and it was
because he did not open this treasury to the people, that the Muslim
invasion
was possible. It was because he did not open this treasury to the people
from
the beginning, that for a thousand years we have been trodden under the
heels
of everyone who chose to come to India; it was through that we have become
degraded, and the first task must be to break open the cells that hide the
wonderful treasures which our common ancestors accumulated; bring them out,
and give them to everybody, and the Brahmana must be the first to do it.
There
is an old superstition in Bengal that if the cobra that bites, sucks out his
own poison from the patient, the man must survive. Well then, the Brahmana
must suck out his own poison.

To the non-Brahmana castes I say, wait, be not in a hurry. Do not
seize
every opportunity of fighting the Brahmana, because as I have shown; you are
suffering from your own fault. Who told you to neglect spirituality and
Sanskrit learning? What have you been doing all this time? Why have you been
indifferent? Why do you now fret and fume because somebody else had more
brains, more energy, more pluck and go than you? Instead of wasting your
energies in vain discussions and quarrels in the newspapers, instead of
fighting and quarreling in your own homes - which is sinful - use all your
energies in acquiring the culture which the Brahmana has, and the thing is
done. Why do you not become Sanskrit scholars? Why do you not spend millions
to bring Sanskrit education to all the castes of India? That is the
question.
The moment you do these things, you are equal to the Brahmana! That is the
secret power in India.

The only safety, I tell you men who belong to the lower castes, the
only way to raise your condition is to study Sanskrit, and this fighting and
writing and frothing against the higher castes is in vain, it does no good,
and it creates fight and quarrel, and this race, unfortunately already
divided, is going to be divided more and more. The only way to bring about
the
leveling of castes is to appropriate the culture, the education which is the
strength of the higher castes.

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#831 - February 23, 2003 03:45 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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Past does not guide the present

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Logic behind perversion of caste

Ram Sawrup

(From the Indian Express, 13th September, 1996)

Today casteism is rampant. It is a new phenomenon. Old India had castes but not casteism. In its present form, casteism is a
construct of colonial period, a product of imperial policies and colonial scholarship. It was strengthened by the breast-beating of our own
“reformers”. Today, it has acquired its own momentum and vested interests.
            In the old days, the Hindu caste system was integrating principle. It provided economic security. One had a vocation as soon as one
was born.- a dream for those threatened with chronic unemployment. The system combined security with freedom; it provided social space
as well as closer identity; here the individual  was not atomised and did not become rootless. There was also no dearth of social mobility;
whole groups of people rose and fell in the social scale. Rigidity about the old Indian castes is a myth. Ziegenbbalg writing on the eve of the
British advent saw that at least one-third of the people practised other than their traditional calling and that “official and political functions,
such as those of teachers, councillors, governors, priests, poets and even kings were not considered the prerogative of any particular group,
but are open to all”.
            Nor did India ever have such a plethora of castes as became the order of the day under the British rule. Megasthenes gives us seven
fold division of the Hindu society; Hsuan Tsang, the Chinese pilgrim (650 A. D.) mentions four castes. Alberuni too mentions four main
castes and some more groups which did not strictly belong to the caste system.
            Even the list of greatly maligned Manu contained no more than 40 mixed castes, all related by blood. Even the Chandals were
Brahmins on their father’s side. But under the British, Risley gave us 2,378 main castes, and 43 races! There is no count of sub-castes.
Earlier, the 1891 census had already given us 1,156 sub-castes of chamars alone. To Risley, every caste was also ideally a race and had its
own language.
            Caste did not strike early European writers as something specifically Indian. They knew it in their own countries and saw it that way. J.
S. Mill in his Political Economy said that occupational groups in Europe were “almost equivalent to an hereditary distinction of caste”.
            To these observers, the word caste did not have the connotation it has today. Gita Dharampal Frick, an orientalist and linguist tells us
that  the early European writers on the subject used the older Greek word Meri which means a portion, share, contribution. Sebastian
Franck (1534) used the German word Rott (rotte) meaning a “social group” or “cluster”. These words suggest that socially and economically
speaking they found castes closer to each other than ordo or estates in Europe.
            The early writers also saw no Brahmin domination though they found much respect for them. Those like Jurgen Andersen (1669) who
described castes in Gujarat found that Vaishyas and not the Brahmins were the most important people there.
            They also saw no sanskritisation. One caste was not trying to be another; it was satisfied with being itself. Castes were not trying to
imitate the Brahmins to improve social status; they were proud of being what they were. There is a Tamil poem by Kamban in praise of the
plough which says that “even being born a Brahmin does by far endow one with the same excellence as when one is born into a Vellala
family”.
            There was sanskritisation though but of a very different kind. People tried to become not Brahmins but Brahma-vadin. Different castes
produced great saints revered by all. Ravi Das, a great saint, says that though of the family of chamars who still go around Benares removing
dead cattle, yet even the most revered Brahmins now hold their offspring, namely himself, in great esteem.
            With the advent of Islam the Hindu society came under great pressure; it faced the problem of survival. When the political power failed,
castes took over; they became defence shields and provided resistance passive and active. But in the process, the system also acquired
undesirable traits like untouchability. Alberuni who came along with Mahmud Ghaznavi mentions the four castes but no untouchability. He
reports that “much, however, as these classes differ from each other, they live together in the same towns and villages, mixed together in the
same houses and lodgings.”
            Another acquired another trait; they became rigid and lost their mobility. H. A. Rose, Superintendent of Ethnography, Punjab
(1901-1906), author of A Glossary of Punjab Tribes and Castes’ says that during the Muslim period, many Rajputs were degraded and
they became scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Many of them still retain the Rajput gotra of parihara and parimara. Similarly, G. W.
Briggs in his The Chamars tells us that many chamars still carry the names and gotra of Rajput clans like Banaudhiya, Ujjaini,
Chandhariya, Sarwariya, Kanaujiya, Chauhan, Chadel, Saksena, Sakarwar, Bhardarauiya, and Bundela, etc. Dr.K. S. Lal cites many similar
instances in his recent “Growth of Scheduled Tribes and Castes in Medieval India”.
            The same is true of bhangis. William Crooke of Bengal Civil Service tells us that the “rise of  the present Bhangi caste seems from the
names applied to the castes and its subdivisions, to date from the early period of Mohammedan rule”. Old Hindu literature mentions no
bhangis of present function. In traditional Hindu rural society, he was a corn-measurer, a village policeman, a custodian of village
boundaries. But scavenging came along with the Muslim and British rule. Their numbers also multiplied. According to 1901 Census, the
bhangis were most numerous in the Punjab and the United Provinces which were the heartland of Muslim domination.
            Then came the British who treated all Hindus equally – all as an inferior race – and fuelled their internal differences. They attacked
Hinduism but cultivated the caste principle, two sides of the same coin. Hinduism had to be attacked. It gave India the principles of unity and
continuity; it was also India’s definition at its deepest. It held together castes as well as the country. Take away Hinduism and the country
was easily subdued.
            Caste in old India was a cooperative and cultural principle.; but it is now being turned into a principle of social conflict. In the old
dispensation, castes followed dharma and its restraints; they knew how far they could go. But now a caste is a law unto itself; it knows no
self-restraint except the restraint put on it by another class engaged in similar self-aggrandisement. The new self-styled social justice
intellectuals and parties do not want castes without dharma. This may be profitable to some in the short run but it is suicidal for all in the
long run.
            In the old days, castes had leaders who represented the culture of the land, who were natural leaders of their people and were
organic to them. But now a different leadership is coming to the fore; rootless, demagogic and ambitious, which uses caste slogans for
self-aggrandisement.

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#832 - February 23, 2003 04:00 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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The Plight of Brahmins
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By Meenakshi Jain

(From the Indian Express, Tuesday, September 18, 1990)

 
The Mandal Commission report marks the culmination of the attempt at social engineering that began with the Christian missionary
(followed by British governmental) campaigns against the Brahmin community in the early part of the 19th century. It was not accidental that
Brahmins emerged as the principal target of British attacks. Britishers of all pursuits, missionaries, administrators and orientalists, were
quick to grasp; their pivotal role in the Indian social arrangement. They were all agreed that religious ideas and practices underlay the entire
social structure and that, as custodians of the sacred tradition, Brahmins were the principal integrating force. This made them the natural
target of those seeking to fragment, indeed atomise, Indian Society. This was as true of the British conquerors as it was of Muslim rulers in
the preceding centuries. Mandal takes off from where the British left.
 
The British were not wrong in their distrust of educated Brahmins in whom they saw a potential threat to their supremacy in India. For
instance, in 1879 the Collector of Tanjore in a communication to Sir James Caird, member of the Famine Commission, stated that “there
was no class (except Brahmins ) which was so hostile to the English.” The  predominance of the Brahmins in the freedom movement
confirmed the worst British suspicions of the community. Innumerable CID reports of the period commented on Brahmin participation at all
levels of the nationalist  movement. In the words of an observer, “If any community could claim credit for driving the British out of the country, it
was the Brahmin community. Seventy per cent of those who were felled by British bullets were Brahmins”.
 

Role slighted

 
To counter what they perceived, a Brahminical challenge, the British launched on the one hand a major ideological attack on the Brahmins
and, on the other incited non-Brahmin caste Hindus to press for preferential treatment, a ploy that was to prove equally successful vis-à-vis
the Muslims.
 
In the attempt to rewrite Indian history, Brahmins began to be portrayed as oppressors and tyrants  who wilfully kept down the rest of the
populace. Their role in the development of Indian society was deliberately slighted. In ancient times, for example, Brahmins played a major
part  in the spread of new methods of cultivation (especially the use of the plough and manure) in backward and aboriginal areas. The 
Krsi-parasara, compiled during this period, is testimony to their contribution in this field.
 
But far more important was the Brahmin contribution to the integration of society. So influenced  are we by the British view of  our past that we
completely  ignore the fact that the principle by which the Brahmins achieved the integration of various tribes and communities was unique in
world history. This was perhaps the only case where all incoming groups were accommodated on their own terms. All aspects of their
beliefs and behaviour patterns were accepted as legitimate  and no attempt was made to compel them to surrender or change their
distinctive lifestyles. Each group was left to evolve and change according to its internal rhythm. What a contrast to the Christian method of
conversion by the sword and their efforts to obliterate all traces of the previous history of all converts.
 
Apart from misrepresenting the Indian past, the British actively encouraged anti-Brahmin sentiments. A number of scholars have
commented on their involvement in the anti-Brahmin movement in South India. As a result of their machinations non-Brahmins turned on the
Brahmins with a ferocity that has few parallels in Indian history. This was all the more surprising in that for centuries Brahmins and
non-Brahmins had been active partners  and collaborators in the task of political and social management.
 

Overdrawn

 
Some British observers themselves conceded that the picture of the Brahmin as oppressor was overdrawn  and that in reality there was little
difference in the condition of the Brahmin and the rest of the native population. H. T. Colebrooke, one of the early Sanskrit scholars wrote, “
Daily observation shows even the Brahmin exercising the menial profession of a Sudra… it may be received as  a general maxim, that the
occupation, appointed for each tribe, is entitled merely to a preference. Every profession, with few exceptions, is open to every description of
persons; and the discouragement, arising from religious prejudices, is not greater than what exists in Great Britain from the effects of
Municipal and Corporation laws”.
            The British census operations that began in the latter part of the 19th century produced further distortions in the Indian system. The
British sought to interpret the caste system in the light of their own pet theories. H. H. Risley who directed the 1901 census operations was,
for example, determined to demonstrate that “race sentiment” formed the basis of the caste system and that social precedence was based
on the scale of racial purity. The same race theory played  havoc in Europe in the form of Nazism and has now been fully repudiated.
            The British, unmindful of the complexities and intricacies of the social arrangement, sought to achieve standardisation by placing all
jatis in the four varnas or in the categories of outcastes and aborigines. As a result they destroyed the flexibility  that was so vital for the
proper functioning of the system. The census operations raised caste consciousness to a feverish pitch, incited caste animosities and led to
an all-round hardening of the system. They led to frantic efforts at Sanskritisation and upward mobility, so very different from the flexibility of
earlier times. When the system was made rigid everyone wanted to be a member of a higher varna. Caste consequently became a tool in
the political, religious  and cultural battles that the Hindus fought amongst themselves.
 

Downward mobility

            It is significant that the census operations coincided with the attempt to reorganise  the army on the basis of the martial race theory. At
about that time the British were also beginning to raise questions about the relative balance of Hindus and Muslims in the public services
and about the “monopoly” of certain castes in the new education. There was also talk of the conspiracy of certain castes to overthrow their
rule.
            The forces unleashed by the British continued to gather momentum. Them myth of the omnipotent Brahmin had been so successfully
sold that most Indians missed the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In recent years, however, a number of studies have appeared that
detail the downward mobility that has been the chief characteristic of he Brahmin community particularly since independence.
            Financially, the Brahmins have been very hard hit. State laws combined with fragmentation of land have had the effect of substantially
reducing the size of family holdings so much so that most Brahmins today find it difficult to eke out a living from land. Traditional occupations
like family and temple priesthood, recitation of the Vedas and practice of Ayurvedic medicine no longer prove remunerative nor command
respect.
            A study of the Brahmin community in a district in Andhra Pradesh (Brahmins of India by J.Radhakrishna, published by Chugh
Publications) reveals that all purohits today live below the poverty line.  Eighty per cent of those surveyed stated that their poverty and
traditional style of dress and hair (tuft) had made them the butt of ridicule. Financial constraints coupled with the existing system of
reservations for the “backward classes” prevented them from providing secular education to their children.
            In fact according to this study there has been an overall decline in the number of Brahmin students. The average income of Brahmins
being less than that of non-Brahmins, a high percentage of Brahmin students drop out at the intermediate level.
            In the 5-18 year age group, 44 per cent Brahmin students stopped education at the primary level and 36 per cent at the
pre-matriculation level. The study also found that 55 per cent of all Brahmins lived below the poverty line that is below a per capita income of
Rs.65 a month. Since 45 per cent of the total population of India is officially stated to be below the poverty line it follows that the percentage of
destitute Brahmins is 10 per cent higher than the all-India figure. There is no reason to believe that the condition of Brahmins in other parts
of the country is different.
 

Appalling poverty

            In this connection it would be revealing to quote the per capita income of various communities as stated by the Karnataka Finance
Minister in the State Assembly on July 1, 1978: Christian Rs.1562, Vokkaligas Rs.914, Muslims Rs.794, Scheduled caste Rs.680,
Scheduled Tribes Rs.577 and Brahmins Rs.537.
            Appalling poverty compelled many Brahmins to migrate to towns leading to spatial dispersal and consequent decline in their local
influence and institutions. Brahmins initially turned to government jobs and modern occupations such as law and medicine. But preferential
policies for the non-Brahmins have forced the Brahmins to retreat in these spheres as well. According to the Andhra Pradesh study, the
largest percentage of Brahmins today are employed as domestic servants. The unemployment rate among them is as high as 75 per cent.
            Clearly it is time to sit up and see reality as it is before we complete the task the British began- the atomisation of Indian society and
annihilation of Indian civilisation.

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#833 - February 23, 2003 04:01 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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Pre-British India

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The myth of caste tyranny

By Meenakshi Jain

(From the Indian Express, 26th Spetember, 1990)
 
            The Mandal Commission report is based on a stereotype image of the caste system and Hindu society that our colonial masters
popularised with devastating effect in the 19th century. It is not generally known that the India of rigid social stratification  and hierarchical
ranking was largely a British creation and that in their attempt to comprehend, and control the Indian social order; the British set in motion
forces that transformed the older system in a fundamental way.
            As late as the 18th century, the hierarchical ordering of Hindu society was not an established fact over large parts of the subcontinent.
As some eminent historians have pointed out, till that time alternative ideologies and styles of life were strong, indeed dominant, in much of
India. Large bands of nomads, with their huge herds of cattle, for instance, roamed the North Indian countryside plundering at will (and at the
same time trading with settled agriculture, carrying its goods to distant markets and meeting its requirements of milk and other protein
foods. For details see ‘The New Cambridge History of India’ Vol. II by C. A. Bayly – Cambridge University Press, 1988. This mutual
compatibility was characteristic of all relationships in the older set-up). Among the great nomadic groups were Gujars, Bhattis, Rangar
Rajputs, all of whom remained outside the framework of Brahminical Hinduism. It seems ironic that groups which terrorised settled
agriculturists for centuries should now talk of the tyranny of the Hindu social order.
 

British victory

            The strength of the pastoral communities can be further gauged from the fact that at no point before the British arrival could settled
agriculturists ever be said to have gained a decisive victory over them. It was only the British determination to tame all floating populations
that finally led to their amalgamation with the agrarian society. There were areas where Brahmins and Brahminical life-style remained
peripheral. Till the 18th century forests competed with arable land in size and importance. The frontiers of settled agriculture were constantly
fluctuating, sometimes advancing, sometimes retreating, even in the same area. Large sections of society survived on forest produce.
Forests also served as havens for those in search of escape from society. Here also it was British rule that brought about far-reaching
changes.
            In their attempt to pacify the countryside they engaged in large-scale destruction of forests to deny rebels places of refuge. Arthur
Wellesly in his campaigns against the Pyche Raja, for example, cleared the Malabar forest to a mile on either side of the road. The British,
not the Brahmins, thus won the final battle against nomads, tribals, soldiers and forests, all of whom constituted important  alternate
life-styles in the pre-British period. Incidentally, it was this plurality of society that was a major reason for the failure of Islam to make much
headway in the subcontinent. There was no one clearly identifiable enemy to defeat but several powerful, competing power centres and ways
of life to cope with.
            Apart from ensuring the final defeat of all alternate life-styles, the British introduced other changes that facilitated the creation of a
settled agrarian society, a society that would be easier for them to control and manipulate to their purpose. Prominent among these were the
spread of irrigation facilities and an increase in the cultivation of cash crops (especially cotton, indigo and sugar) for the market. Peasant
society was thereby extended and consolidated and the stage set or the emergence of a more rigid and stratified system of castes.
            Pastoral and tribal communities were incorporated into the agrarian society at the same time as the agriculturist castes themselves
became more closed and endogamous, a process that has been well documented in the case of important caste groups like the Jatis and
the Rajputs. To increase their military might, many Rajput clans had, for example, maintained matrimonial relationships with lower caste
armed groups like the Pasis of Awadh. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, they had all become endogamous.
            It bears repetition that it was only in the 19th century with the “pacification” of large parts of the countryside that the Brahminical
principles of social organisation could be said to have become operational on an all-India scale. Till then only ancient centres like Benaras
could be truly regarded as Brahmin strongholds.
 

Legal system

            In their search for a uniform law code, the British turned to these centres of Brahmin learning and consequently, for the first time, a
unified, supposedly Brahminical legal system began to be applied on an all-India scale. So another part of traditional India fell before the
British onslaught. Laws in India had so far remained uncodified and the very process of codification destroyed the flexibility and the capacity
to adapt to local customs and situations they had earlier displayed. The Manusmriti may have existed in the past but it had never been
sought to be uniformly applied to society.
            Certain other features of caste system, as it operated in the pre-British period, deserve to be commented upon,. Despite the
commonly-held belief that hierarchy in Hindu society was clearly defined and operational, in actual practice only the position of the Brahmins
at the top of the ritual scale and Harijans at the bottom was relatively stable. In between there was ambiguity about the status of several
castes, an ambiguity that was acceptable to all concerned. This itself produced a large element of fluidity in the system.
            The close association of caste with occupation notwithstanding, members of a caste group ever exercised exclusive monopoly over a
profession. As leading sociologists have pointed out, in addition to their hereditary occupation, all castes traditionally also engaged in
cultivation. There were certain other professions such as warfare which regularly drew adherents from different castes. In fact, the leadership
of most armed bands was provided by non-Kshatriya peasant  castes. Powerful castes with almost a monopoly over violence were as much
part of the Indian scene as the ritual dominance of Brahmins in the settled areas of the country.
            Many villages, in addition, did not have a hierarchy corresponding to the all-India system. There were, for instance, often only one or
two families of certain artisan and service castes such as nais (barbers), telis (oil pressers), sonars (goldsmiths) and even banias (money
lenders) residing within the village precincts. So there was little question of actually ranking these one or two families in the village hierarchy
and then discriminating against them.
            The usurious interest rates that the village baniyas are supposed to have charged also became possible only under British rule when
for the first time land became a marketable commodity. Generally it was the peasant castes that were numerically preponderant and
economically and politically powerful at the village level.
 

Economic ties

            All castes living in a village or a cluster of neighbouring villages were bound together by economic and social ties. The Jajmani
system tied the highest and lowest castes in a strong bond of mutual dependence. M. N. Srinivas has pointed out that in the pre-British
period, land being more abundant than people, the paramount consideration of most Jajmans was “to acquire and retain their local
followers”. This obliged them to be generous in matters of food, drinks and even loans when required. He adds that the tropical climate
made it difficult to store foodstuffs for long and this combined with “ideas from the great tradition” further encouraged distribution of surplus.
            Moreover, all rituals required the participation of several castes. This was also true of religious festivals where even Harijans had
important duties to perform. Srinivas has recorded that Bhaksorin (Harijan) women helped Thakur families at the time of delivery, bhangis
(sweepers) beat drums in front of Thakur homes. Brahmins cast the horoscope of new born Thakur children and the village barber spread
the news and served food during the celebrations that followed. He further record a rural Mysore saying that 18 castes come together during
a wedding.
            Non-Brahmins and occasionally Harijans served as priests of temples devoted to certain goddesses like Sitala, Mari and Kali
associated with smallpox, plague and cholera. All castes including Brahmins sent offerings to these temples. Thus non-Brahmins too
fulfilled some of the religious needs of other castes.
 

Freedom

            Alongside close interaction and co-operation at the village level, castes also enjoyed a large measure of freedom in respect of their
internal customs, rituals and life-styles. There was usually no outside interference in the internal affairs of a caste, all caste matters being
the jurisdiction of the caste council. The village panchayat deliberated on questions concerning the larger village society.
            A striking feature of the caste system in the pre-British period then, was its local character. There was no all-India horizontal
organisation of castes. This being so, there was hardly any question of all-India tyranny of any caste group, especially so of the Brahmins
who usually also lacked the political and armed strength to enforce their will.
            British rule destroyed the local character of the caste system. It broke up the homogeneity of small groups over small areas and
encouraged organisation of castes over vast stretches of land. This became a major cause of the caste tensions and rivalries India has
witnessed in recent years.
            Caste has become synonymous with the theory of pollution. The issue is complex enough to merit separate treatment. Here it is
possible only to say that like in much else of the caste system, in this regard too we have been victims of the British propaganda machine.
            Some idea of the issue involved can be had from Mary Douglas, a distinguished anthropologist. She has written, “I believe that ideas
about separating, purifying, demarcating and punishing transgressions have as their main function to impose system on an inherently untidy
experience. It is only by exaggerating the difference between within and without, above and below, male and female, with and against that a
semblance of order is created.”
            Based as the Mandal Commission report is on a totally distorted view of the past, it deserves to be rejected in toto. No amount of
‘improvement’ on its recommendations can correct its distorted perspective.

Top
#834 - April 11, 2003 04:46 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
Originally posted by raj. I have paragraphed it for easy reading. Webmaster

The british believed in divide and rule as such we have forgotten the basic idea behind our religion.Even some
fools actually believe that there is jati,caste which depends on a persons latent characteristics=tamasa,rajasa or
satva.They are equally foolish as those who believe in caste by birth.There are four caste 1)brahmana the
priest.2)ksathriya the warrior/king 3)vashiya the businessman,agriculturist and 4)sudra/pariah the laborer. This
division belong to the mind not to the body.There is only 2 jati.An jati(male) and pen jati(female). If somebody
dresses up the so called pariah by birth as a brahmana,puts a tilak,sacred thread on him and teaches him
eloquent sanskrit can he be distinguished from a brahmana.So it shows that there is no caste by birth. Or as per
our guna bhava,latent mind characteristic,can jati be alloted to a person.

Everybody at a time is
tamasic(ignorant) when they are sleeping.rajasic(full of activity)when they are working or eating or doing
something with a selfish motive.We are sattvic(holy) when we pray or offer donations or do unselfish
gestures.Helping a friend without any thought of return/selfishness/gain is a common incidence in most of us.So
jati can't be determined by guna bhava either. According to the scriptures god created the four jati and one is
above another,in the descending order of importance as follows-brahmana,ksathriya,vasiya,sudra.But we just
proved that there is no jati,so is the scriptures wrong?Further it has emulated as brahmana the head,ksatriya
the arms,vasiya the abdomen and sudra the legs.

The scripture is not wrong.The British purposely
misinterpreted it wrongly through certain greedy pundits.Jati is a division in our mind.Our mind is divided into
four-manam,chitam,buddhi,ahamkaram.Manam is the mind which knows knowledge.It is the one which lets us
know the existense of things and is the discriminative knowledge.As such it is of paramount importance.This
manam is brahmana(the knower of knowledge).Chittam is the likes and dislikes of mind.It creates attraction
and repel.It is the seat of action.If it gets attracted towards the wrong things we are destroyed.The chittam
which is quelled and which is not in a state of turmoil or seat of desire protects our manam.Hence it is ksathriya
or depicted as king.The buddhi is our intellect which decides our course of action when something is desired.It is
the planner/worker.It is known as the vashiya.This is because businessman are good planners and agriculturist
are arduos workers with a purpose.The association is symbolic only.Finally comes the ahamkara or the ego.The
ego which says "how dare you,don't you know who i am!!!"This is the base ego and thus it is known as the
pariah-the laborer.The one who works for base desires.

Let me demonstrate.Just hold an apple.The manam
knows the existense of the apple.Without knowing this nothing can be done.That is why in deep sleep we do not
know anything when the manam is asleep.The chittam then decides whether you like an apple or not.Let's
assume you do.Different people different likes/dislikes.After deciding to eat it your buddhi decides to clean it
and slice it with a knife so you could enjoy the apple.Buddhi decides the course of action to attain something
desired.Suddenly somebody snatches the nicely sliced apple and runs away with it.Your blood boils and you get
angry,"how dare he,wait till i get him,grrr".This is ahamkara-the base ego.All this divisions are real and exist
forever until they are conquered.They are the divisions in our mind.Only then we become a siddha.The British
associated this jati with our physical body,as to divide and rule.Think,can the body do anything without the spirit
inside? Hari om.

Top
#835 - June 11, 2003 01:04 AM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
Originally posted in sify.com


The futility of religious conversions
By Ambassador O P Gupta, IFS
Tuesday, 10 June , 2003, 16:47
Horrible and brutal lynching of five dalit Hindus in Duliana, Jhajhar (Haryana) in Oct. 02,
2002 and simmering tensions in Chakwara near Jaipur on use of a village pond
attracted a number of articles either lamenting or accusing someone.

In wake of these, articles justifying conversions of dalit Hindus also appeared and group
conversions into Islam, Christianity and Buddhism were organised at Jhajhar and at
Selaiyur (Chennai, 6th Dec., 2002). On 28th Nov., 2002, SC/ST Commission reported
that Duliana lynching was not based on caste considerations demolishing main plank of
conversion lobby. Religion and conversion should be private matters like right to choose
partners where State has no role but only so far as these private rights are exercised
privately at private places.

Group conversions organised with fanfare at public places are not sanctioned by
Constitution and are subject to IPC provisions on apprehensions of breach of public
order.

First generation social reforms in Hinduism (abolitions of untouchability and caste
based disabilities) were successfully led by Swami Dayanand, Swami Vivekanand,
Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Sant Phule, Sri Narain Guru (SNDP),
Basaveshwar, Varkari, etc. and have been codified in the Constitution and various Acts.
Second generation social reforms in Hinduism from within for wider social acceptability
of Vedic norms of equality by birth is the real solution to contemporary problems of the
Hindu Samaj, not the gimmicks of conversions, nor the caste wars.

Root cause of conversions as rightly pointed out by N. Varadrajan, State Secretary of
CPM(TN) are social ostracism and humiliations of dalits which this article attempts to
remove. Late Shri Mohit Sen wrote in the Indian Express that what has aggravated the
caste problem is the almost complete lack of any campaign against caste system - that
decisive impediment to modernisation of Hindustan - to paraphrase the remarks of Karl
Marx written in 1835.

In Ambedkar’s view the caste system is a social division of people of same race. [Dr.
Ambedkar Life and Mission by Dhananjay Keer, page 269]. This assertion of Ambedkar
that all castes of Hindus belong to same race is in conformity with 15 richas of Vedas,
specially Yaj 26.02. 'Caste is the bane of Hindus. Caste is the cause of downfall of the
Hindus. Owing to caste the Hindus’ life has been a life of continuous defeats. Caste has
made Hindus the sick men of India. Caste has ruined the Hindu race and has destroyed,
demoralised and devitalised Hindu society.'

What is more, Dr. Ambadkar said, caste has made Shuddhi - conversion into Hinduism -
impractical because one does not know which caste the convert to Hinduism will join.
Caste has thus killed, he adds, the missionary spirit of Hindu religion [page 270].

Rigveda mentions four classes (but not castes by birth). Manusmriti mischievously
converts these four classes into four castes by birth and introduces about forty mixed
jaties but all related by blood. Manusmriti does provide some social mobility from one
caste to another but through marriages. To keep Hindus divided under British Rule, 2378
main castes among Hindus were invented by employees of British Raj.

In the 1891 census about 1156 sub castes of chamars alone were recorded. God know
how many castes and sub castes have so far been invented Intercaste marriages were
allowed as per Satapath Brahaman(4.1.5.9) Paraskar Grihya(1.4.8—11) and Baudhyana
Dharma(1.8.16.2-5).

Manusmriti’s caste system militarily weakened Hindus. As per Manusmriti and
subsequent smritikars , sudras (working class) were kept out of villages and, thus,
excluded from military, politics and the Govt. Vaishyas were kept confined to business,
agriculture and cattle breeding so Vaishyas were not required to participate in military,
politics and the Govt. Brahimins took position that arms and military was not their prime
concern. So under Manu system, majority of population (say 75%) was mentally
conditioned to be militarily impotent & politically neutral.

Only Ksatriya was supposed to be in military and had duty to fight wars. If Ksatriya were
25% (say) of population, 12.5% being ladies were excluded from military, rest one third of
male being children and one third being too old to fight were also not available for
military service. Thus, in Manu system only three percent of population had moral duty to
fight for nation.

So, under Manu system a population of 10000 Hindus could yield a maximum of only
300 to fight whereas from a population of 10,000 of other religions over 1700 men or
more were eligible/available to fight. No wonder, Hindus though larger in numbers, were
always defeated by small numbers of foreigners, their women raped and molested, their
temples destroyed and they were dragged thousands of miles on foot and auctioned as
slaves in Kabul etc.

Was it a punishment under Slokas (XVI.18, 29 & 20) that Hindu were defeated and
auctioned as slaves for violating Vedic & Gita’s norms of equality by birth? If so, should
we not free ourselves from this curse by obeying Veda & Gita in our real lives? When the
Constitution of India restored Vedic norms of equality by birth and gender equality, see,
our Armed Forces have never been defeated; we Hindus have not again fallen as slaves,
we are being accorded respect all over the world; and, India has become the fourth
largest economy in the world in a short period of fifty years, a nuclear weapon country
with its own missiles, satellites, digital telemetry, etc.

As per latest World Development Indicators, India’s gross national income in 2001 on
Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) basis was US$ 2913 billion, the fourth largest after the
USA ($ 9781 billion), China ($ 5027 billion) and Japan ($ 3246 billion). These Big Four
are followed by Germany ($ 2580 billion), UK ($ 1431 billion), France ($ 1425 billion),
Canada ($ 825 billion) and Pakistan ($ 263 billion) on PPP basis, etc.

Ambedkar rightly diagnosed that caste is a notion, a state of mind. Its destruction means
a notional change in mental set up. Hindus observe caste not because they are inhuman
and wrong headed. They (Hindus) observe caste chiefly because they believe deeply that
it is so ordained in their religion” (page 291). Dr. Ambedkar concluded that destruction of
authority of Veda, destruction of sacredness and divinity of Vedas will lead to annihilation
of castes; but, failing to destroy spiritual authority of Veda he got himself converted into
Buddhism in 1956. In his famous 22 vows, Dr. Ambedkar mercifully did not include
destruction of sacredness of Vedas.

If Hindus practise casteism, as Dr. Ambedkar rightly assessed, in belief that it is part of
their religion, how could Hindus have agreed to destruction of Vedas - the fountainhead
of their religion? I think a better way to annihilate casteism is to convince Hindus that
casteism, as substantively proved in previous two parts, is truly not a part of Hinduism.

It is contrary to Hinduism. Casteism is rust and dust collected around Hinduism over
centuries. I believe much more pragmatic way to annihilate caste is not engineering of
conversions; not mutual acrimony; not caste wars; but full throated articulation of correct
interpretations of 25 richas of Vedas, the thirteen slokas of Shrimad Bhagwat Gita and
two examples set by Lord Rama which should convince upper caste Hindus that by
practicing Manusmriti, they are actually committing sins (paap) of violating Vedas, Gita
and Ramayana.

Such a course of action will loosen religious grip of Manusmriti on mindset of sawarnas.
No Hindu knowingly prefers to earn wrath (shraap) of Vedas or Lord Rama or that of Lord
Krishna by going against their commandments.

Gandhi fought tooth and nail to maintain unity of Hindu Samaj by fighting against
untouchability, underwent 21 days fast to retain unity with scheduled caste Hindus by
promising them more number of seats in legislatures than offered by the then British
rulers. Whereas Manu after Rigvedic rishis was the one who fragmented and divided
Hindus pushing them into slavery, Gandhi proved himself to be the grand Unifier in
grand chain of Rigvedic rishis who mansa, vacha and karmana implemented the
missionary shukta RV (X.191); and, like Moses delivered Hindu Samaj to its political
liberation/freedom ,though , some may argue at much higher cost in terms of Hindu lives
lost, but Gandhi was not a member of the Government.

It is another thing that Gandhi failed in handling/assessing the then Muslim League.

Articulation of above 38 richas & slokas will also convince Hindu priests that they have
been preaching contrary to Vedas, contrary to Gita and contrary to Bhagwan Shri Ram’s
examples. For comparison, one may note how steadfastly Muslims follow examples set
by their Prophet in Sunnah. But, we, Hindus, do not put into practice what Bhagwan Ram
himself practiced.

Managers of Hindu temples must instruct their priests to immediately put into practice
these 38 richas and slokas. Stopping entry of SC/ST/Dalits Hindus into temples is
violative of RV (X.191) and AV(III.30). Hindus of Chakwara violated AV (III.30.6) in denying
access to village pond to Bairwa Hindus. Command of RV (X.191) oftenly came as shock
and pleasant surprise to many Hindu priests whom I personally talked.

Many admitted not knowing Sanskrit nor ever having read Vedas but only having
memorised some mantras and shlokas for conducting ceremonies. Pujaries said that
they expect present-day leaders of Hindu Samaj to re-educate them and they assured
that they will be second to none in spreading correct message of Vedas.

Pujaries agreed with me that they should visit SC/ST/Dalit houses for offering religious
services as it would increase their regular income but their main difficulty was jhijhak i.e.
who will bell the cat. Simply abusing and cursing Hindu priests or Brahmans in general
will not lead to annihilation of caste, rather, their exposures to above 38 richas and
slokas will certainly.

Incomes of all Hindu temples should be pooled to educate pujaries and an all India
Hindu Pujari Service (IHPS) should be started by management of temples in which all
Hindus would be eligible for recruitment based on their knowledge. Supreme Court has
been faster than our socio-religious leaders in opening recruitments in temples for all
Hindus.

In March 96, Supreme Court (JJ K. Ramaswamy and B.L. Hansaria) rightly ruled that
office of temple priest cannot be hereditary. In October, 02, Supreme Court (JJ S.
Rajendrababu and Doraiswamy Raju) held that non-Brahimins are eligible to perform
religious ceremonies and work as temple priests if they are well versed with relevant
rituals. These two decisions are consistent with real Hinduism as per RV (X.125.5) and
RV (X.98.7).

At page 271, Keer informs that Dr. Ambedkar had also suggested destruction of idea of
the hereditary priesthood and democratisation of the profession of priests by the grant of
a sanad to any Hindu who passed a certain test and now it has been given force of law
by the Supreme Court.

Conversion of Dalit Hindus to another religion has not proved to be a satisfactory
answer, as even after conversion, converts do not get 'social equality' in their new
religions. Conversions have proved to be divisive raising social tensions and creating
law & order problems. Use of phrases like dalit Christians, dalit Muslims, dalit Buddhists
in Indian media proves the point. R. Thirumalvalavam, Head of the Panthers Party of
India told a website (Nov. 15, 2002): 'that for emancipation of dalits, conversion is not the
solution. Converts remain Dalit Muslims or Dalit Christians or Dalit Buddhists.'

A Dalit writer, told to the Week (18th Nov., 2001): 'Over the years, when Dalits converted to
Islam, Sikhism or Christianity, they did not lose their Dalit identify. They remained
primarily Dalits, and, then Christians or Sikhs. Conversion is not the answer to
exploitation of Dalits.' Detlef Kantowasky, a German Professor of Sociology in his recent
book `Buddhisten in Indien heute` says that Mahars who converted into Buddhism are
still not able to shake off their untouchable stigma. In addition, new converts invite
ridicule from Dalit Hindus for abandoning old faith generating another ripple of social
tensions. Gaining 'social equality' is a two-way process involving two parties, oppressor
and oppressed. Unilateral action (i.e. conversion, running away by oppressed) does not
solve the problem as the other party continues to treat converts as before in villages.
Converted dalits get socially cut off from Hindu dalits. Converts find their social circle in
new religion further reduced and limited to previous converts from their old Hindu caste.
As per Hindustan Times (15th June, 98), the then Census Commissioner of India (Dr. M.
Vijaymuni) was quoted saying that there were caste divisions in Muslims (584),
Christians (339), Sikhs (130), Buddhists (93), etc.

The 1901 census of Bengal placed Muslims into three groups: Ashraf (better class), Ajlaf
(lower castes) and Arzal (Degraded castes). This categorisation was repeated in the
Indian Express of 19th March, 1997. A website lists 72 different Islamic sects. Sunnies
accept and venerate Hazrats Abu Bakr (632-634), Omar bin Khattab (634-644), Uthman
(644-656) and Ali bin Abu Talib (656-661) as their first four rightful Caliphs (Khalifa i.e.
successor to Prophet Mohammad, sallahu alai wa sallam) in this sequential order.

Hazrats Omar, Uthman and Ali were murdered one by one. Shiat Ali (i.e. followers of Ali,
shishya of Ali, written as Shia or Shiite) believe that Hazrats Abu Bakr, Omar and Uthman
became Caliphs against expressed desire of the Prophet (Khumb Declaration) and; that,
Hazrat Ali ought to have been accepted as the first Caliph and the first Imam after
Prophet.

This is the fundamental difference between Shiites and Sunnies. Shiite Muslims do not
accept Hazrat Abu Bakr, Omar, Uthman as Caliphs and Sunni Muslims do not accept
Khumb Declaration. Shiite Muslims treat Hazrat Ali as the first Caliph and the first Imam.
Sunnies accept Hazrat Ali only as the fourth Caliph. Consequently, text of Shiite Kalama
and Shiite Namaz are different from those of Sunnies.

Shiite texts directly and indirectly declare and reaffirm that Hazrat Ali is the first Imam and
the rightful successor of Prophet which Sunnies do not accept and cannot recite. The text
of Sunni Kalama is La ilaha il Allah, Muhammadan Rasul Allah and the text of Shiite
Kalama (Shahadatah) is La ilaha il Allah, Muhammadan Rasul Allah, Aliyun Wali-Allah,
Wasiyu Rasulillah, wa Khalifa tuhu bila fasl. There is no God but Allah, Muhammad is the
Messenger of Allah, ‘Ali is the Friend of Allah. The Successor of the Messenger of Allah
And his first Caliph.

Basic tenets (usul-e-din) of Sunni Muslims are three: (i) Tauhid (unity of God); (ii)
Noubouat (Prophethood) and (iii) Maad or Qayamah (day of final judgement). Shiite
Muslims have two more basic tenets: (iv) Imamah based on family line from the House
of Prophet (Ahlul-Bayt) and (iv) Justice of God (ahl). Shiite further believe that `noor` of
Allah passes only through family line from generation to generation. These are matters
of faith and belief which separate Shiite and Sunni. Shiite and Sunni generally do not
inter-marry. They have different mosques, different texts of namaz, different body
postures while offering namaz; and, different timings of namaz. Shiite are mainly divided
into Ithna-Asheri, Bohras and Ismailies with no inter-marriages without conversion to
husband’s sect; and, even these Shiite do not attend each others mosques. In Tanzania,
intra-Islamic conversions were noticed: Shiite and Ahmadias were seeking converts
from Sunnies and vice-versa. Ahmadias do accept Prophet Muhammad(saas) as a
messenger of Allah but not as the last one. (http://www.alislam.org)
(http://www.thepersecution.org).

Main sects in Sunni Muslims are Hannafi, Maliki, Shafii and Humbali. They are followers
of Maulanas Abu Hanifa Al-Numan (699-767), Malik ibn Anas (714-796), Mohammad ibn
Idris Al-Shaffi (767-820) and Ahmad bin Hanbal (780-855) respectively. Another Sunni
sect is Ahle Hadith.

There are theological differences between Deobandi and Barelvi Sunnis. In the Islamic
Republic of Pakistan, Ahmadias were declared non-Muslims and now there is pressure
in Pakistan to declare Shiite to be non-Muslims. In this context, it is worthwhile to take
note of a recent address made by H.E. Mr. Mahathir Bin Mohammad, Prime Minister of
Malaysia, at the Al Azhar University, Cairo on 22nd Jan., 2003. He said `we all know that
Prophet brought only one Islam but today there are many Islamic religions. There are
Sunnies and Shiites divided into numerous groups by different Imams and Orders.
Some of these interpretations and teachings are so different that their followers actually
accuse each other of not being a Muslim. In fact they regard many who profess to be
Muslims as infidels because of the thousands of different interpretations of Islam and
the very many sects and adherents, each claiming to be true followers of Islamic religion,
Muslims are thoroughly confused.` (28th January, 2003 - International Herald Tribune).

Holy Quran (ISBN: 0-940368-56-0) does not accept Jesus as a son of God nor his
crucifixion, therefore, nor his resurrection. It accepts Him only as one of the messengers
of God. Surah (IV.157) says that `they did not kill Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah
(Jesus Christ) nor did they crucify him;` and, Surah (IV.158) says that Allah took him upto
Himself. In Surah (IV.171) it is stated that Messiah, Isa son of Marium is only an apostle
of Allah.

'Desist, it is better for you; Allah is only one God: far be it from His glory that He should
have a son.' In Surah (V.116) concept of trinity has been declared to be false. It reads:
'And when Allah will say: O Isa son of Marium! did you say to men, Take me and my
mother for two gods besides Allah, he will say: Glory be to Thee, it did not befit me that I
should say what I had no right to (say).'

Surah (XXV.2) again asserts that Allah did not take to Himself a son. Thus, the Holy
Quran does not accept the basic principles of Christianity i.e. Trinity, Crucifixion and,
therefore, the Resurrection.

The Holy Bible is silent about life, whereabouts and activities of Jesus Christ between
twelfth to thirtieth years of his age. Karna was born to unmarried virgin Kunti by blessings
of God Sun; and, in Christian belief Jesus was born to Virgin mother Mary. There is
similarity of circumstances. A German author Holger Kersten in his book Jesus Lived in
India (ISBN-1-85230-5509) has described in detail His unknown life in India before and
after crucifixion.

Some scholars believe that Christ had visited many cities in India learning Vedas,
Yogas, meditation, etc. before returning to Palestine to preach, and; after surviving
crucifixion returned to India and died in Kashmir. Some scholars suggest that Jesus
Christ was an Essene preacher.

Philosopher Schoupenhaure in his book 'Religion and other Essays' (page-116) asserts
that the Christian faith sprung from the wisdom of India. From Girnar inscriptions of
Ashoka, it is observed that Buddhist monks went to Syria to preach Buddhism. Pliny, a
Greek historian of first century AD has written that religious sect Essene lived in
Palestine about a century before Christ, now accepted as a sect of Buddhism. In Egypt,
Essenes were called Therapeuts. Christians acknowledge Holy Trinity of the Father, the
Son and the Holy Ghost and at the time of Baptism water is sprinkled. In Buddhism,
water is sprinkled while performing 'abhishekam' and Buddhists acknowledge trinity of
Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. Births of Buddha and Christ were preceded by stars and
both had twelve disciples. We Hindus also have Trideva (Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesh)
and we also sprinkle water at religious ceremonies. Dead Sea scrolls (about 800)
discovered in eleven caves near Qumran during 1947-65 are believed to be Essene
literature.

Dead Sea scrolls are carbon dated between a span of about 68 BC to 124 AD and
despite being contemporary of Jesus do not mention Jesus Christ being the son of God.
On internet when one puts `Jesus Christ in India` into search mode one gets about
267000 references on Yahoo.

Website http://www.tombofjesus.com gives graphic details of grave of Yuz Asaf in
Srinagar (India) which points east-west keeping with Jewish custom. Some believe it is
grave of Jesus. The second century Church Father Irenaeus (who lived until about 180
C.E.) in his book `Against Heresies` has written that Jesus lived to be an old man upto
times of the Emperor Trajan (98 AD), before finally dying in Asia. The Acts of Thomas
describes the stay of Jesus and Thomas in Taxila (now in Pakistan) at a marriage
ceremony at the court of King Gundafor in the twenty sixth year of his rule (47 C.E.).

Bhavishya Maha Purana (volume nine verses 17-32) says that Jesus (Isha Masih) was in
India/Kashmir during reign of King Shalivahan which has been placed within 39 to 50
C.E. On this subject of life of Jesus Christ after crucifixion one may see books by Nicolas
Notovitch (1894), Maury Lee (Jesus of India), Elizabeth Clare Prophet (Lost Years of
Jesus), Paul C. Pappas (Jesus’ Tomb in India) and Mark Mason (In Search of the Loving
God).

Jesus Christ preached in Aramaic language. Modern scholars believe that the Hebrew
Bible(Old Testament), or Tanakh, was composed by four or five writers between 1000 to
400 BCE based on much older traditions. The New Testament was composed by a
variety of writers between 60 to 110 CE. The contents of the New Testament were
formalized by Athanasius of Alexandria in 367 CE, and finally canonized in 382 CE.

There are many disagreements about the order and composition of the Holy Bible
among various sects (http://www.sacred-texts.com). The four Gospels (Matthew, Mark,
Luke and John) differ in some aspects at places. What is the correct chronological order
of these four Gospels is known as the Synoptic Problem in the Christian theology. Very
little has survived about origins of these Gospels, when, where, why and by whom these
were composed.

From first few centuries to 18th century, Augustinian hypothesis that Matthew, Mark, Luke
is the correct sequence was the dominant view. In 1783, Johann Jakob Griesbach
proposed Matthew-Luke-Marks sequence. In 1820 Johann Gottfried Herder proposed
that Mark’s Gospel being the shortest should be the earliest document. Roman
Catholics, Protestants, Pentecostals, Orthodox Church, Seventh Day Adventists,
Jehova’s Witnesses, Mermons, etc. have many fiercely contested theological differences
among themselves.

In the medieval period, one sect of Christians used to kill/execute Christians of another
sects (Catholics vrs Protestants; Inquisitions, etc.) X-mas is globally celebrated on 25th
December as birthday of Jesus Christ but not by all Christian faiths. What is the truth only
Jesus knows. Luke (II.8) says that at the time of birth of Jesus `.And there were in the
same country(near Bethlehem) shepherds abiding in the field , keeping watch over their
flock by night. It is said that in Palestine/Bethlehem, December is the coldest month
when shepherds and their flock are not likely to be there in fields by night Shepherds are
out in fields with their flocks in better months of summer. Holy Quran vide surah(XIX.20)
does attest that Mary(Marium) was a virgin & chaste, untouched by any mortal man
before conceiving Jesus. But surah (XIX.23) states that Mary gave birth to child
Isa(Jesus) near trunk of a palm tree, not in a cave/stable. Surah(XIX.25) says that fresh
ripe dates fell upon Mary when shaking trunk of the palm tree. It is said that ripe dates fall
only in the summer months(July to September) in Palestine.Thus, both Holy Quran and
Luke’s Gospel create some doubt about correctness of the present popular belief that
Jesus was born in December. These are great puzzles of religion but could be explained
as another miracles Jesus.

Atharvaveda says (XII.2.33) :: let him not hate us, nor let us(hate) him. Dhammapada
says: 'Hatred does not cease hatred at any time, hatred ceases by love, this is its nature.
Let us live happily, not hating those hate us.'

[1.5]. New Testament says: 'But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse
you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and
persecute you. [Matthew 5.44]. `But I say unto you which hear, love your enemies, do
good to them which hate you` (Luke 6.27). `Bless them that curse you, and pray for them
which despitefully use you` (Luke 6.28).

But love ye your enemies, and do good (Luke 6.35). These show influence of Veda and
Buddhism on Christ.

The News Week of USA (16th April, 2001) at page 45 reported that there are 33000
different Christian denominations in the world!!! The Catholic Bishops Conference of
India (Sunday, 28th June, 98) estimated that 41% of new Pentecostals in India were
former Catholics and 31% from other Christian sects.

So intra-Islamic and intra-Christian conversions are realities. In many countries
Pentecostals have replaced Catholics as the majority denomination!!! Christians of one
denomination generally do not attend Church of another denomination. Indian Christians
are said to still discreetly follow pre-conversion castes of their Hindu forefathers. Syrian
Christians (i.e. St. Thomas Christians) are said not to marry Latin Christians or
Neo-Christians.

High caste Christians do not mix with Dalit Christians. As per
http://www.dalitchristians.com, Christian Dalits suffer same oppression, segregation
and discrimination at hands of caste Christians and 80% of jobs in Church and Church
related institutions have been monopolised by caste Christians though dalit Christians
comprise 75% of Catholic population in India.

TK Oommen & Hunter P. Mabry in their book `The Christian clergy in India` verify this
discrimination. Dalit Christians website further alleges that untouchable Christians are
forced to sit separately in many rural churches in India.

They must enter through a separate door into rural church and receive communion at
separate altar!!! Jat Sikhs do not mix with Ramgarhias and/or Mazhabi Sikhs. There are
separate gurudwaras for each group. One Muslim leader of Bihar (Dr. Ezaz Ali, President,
All India Backward Muslim Morcha) was quoted (March 1997) that “social and economic
condition of Muslim Dalit (arzal) is same as that of Hindu Dalit.

Their conversion to Islam has not helped them acquire social class mobility. While as
Hindus they were ridiculed by upper caste Hindus, as Muslim Dalits they are looked
down upon by upper caste Muslims (Ashrafs).” As per The Week (Jan. 31, 1999),
Pasmanda Muslim Samaj of Bihar reiterated oppression of dalit Muslims at hands of
upper caste Muslims pointing out that out of 245 Muslim MLAs produced by Bihar
between 1952 to 1995 there has been no dalit Muslim MLA so far. How many Dalit
Hindus have been elected to Bihar Assembly?

So, there are wheels within wheels in matters religious; these are too complicated for
common persons, one does know what is truth and what is not truth and, the best way
out is not to get involved in religious bigotry but to live and let live in peace and harmony
with neighbours.

`Love thy neighbour` should be our motto. Let one not question correctness of religious
faith of the other. Let us live happily under the banner of our tricolour reflecting unity in
diversity.Concept of Vasudhaiva kutumbakam i.e. universal brotherhood is the best
policy.

Another shocking but real problem is practice of some sort of untouchability, within
SC/ST/Dalit Hindus. Conversion from one religion to another does not address this
problem. Some websites espousing emancipation of dalits publicise only
divisive/negative slokas of Manusmriti (to exclusion of harmony seeking richas/slokas of
Vedas, etc.) which makes double damage to their own cause as, on one hand, it only
further depresses SC/ST/Dalit Hindus to meekly give into submission believing it is too
difficult to fight Dharma; and, on the other hand, convinces caste Hindus more & more
that this is what Hindu Dharma ordains so they start practicing casteism with more
conviction.

Various reform movements during freedom struggle made substantial gains which got
codified in the Constitution of India. But from 1950s onwards there has been no real
social reform movement. It is high time to do second generation reforms of Hinduism
from within. SC/ST/Dalit Hindus who are already armed with the Constitutional articles
and various Acts should be exposed more and more to the 25 Vedic Richas, 13 slokas of
Shri Mad Bhagwat Gita and to rich contributions of their ancestors to three supreme
scriptures so as to boost their morale and to convince them that their fight is not against
Vedas, not against Dharma but only to cleanse Veda of the rust and dust collected over
centuries - that they are going to fight to restore original teachings of holy three scriptures
that they are returning to their roots.

Such a strategy will liberate dalit Hindus from their mental mindset of being “lowly born”
and empower them mentally & spiritually to take up the fight.

On the other hand, exposure of caste Hindus to these very richas will change their
mindset that practising untouchability and casteism is really a sin (paap) against
dharma. Democratised All India Hindu Priest Service (IHPS) will only accelerate this
process. Casteism cannot be annihilated by mutual acrimony, by violence or
conversions, or by caste wars as it is a mental state or a mindset.

During my foreign service, I have seen educated Indians living in foreign countries for
decades but still practising casteism there in foreign countries in more subtle form!! Let
the Yajna (social movement) assisted by 25 Vedic richas and 13 slokas of Gita be
initiated to permanently destroy both the demons – the demon of intra-Hindu casteism
and the demon of intra SC/ST/Dalits Hindu casteism from the Hindu subconscious
mind.

Let us return to our roots of Vedic brotherhood equipped with modern science and
technology.

The writer is the Ambassador of India to Finland and above are his personal views

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#836 - August 25, 2003 02:08 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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Where are the four castes today in this country? Answer me, [brahmins
of Bengal]. I do not see the four castes. Just as our Bengali proverb
has it: " A headache without a head", so you want to make this
varnashrama [caste system] here. There are not [the traditional] four
castes here. I see only the brahmin and the shudra. If there are
kshatriyas and vaishyas, where are they and why do you brahmins not
order them to take the yajnopavita [investiture with the sacred
thread] and study the Vedas, as every Hindu ought to do? And if the
vaishyas and kshatriyas do not exist, but only the brahmins and
shudras, the Shastras say that the brahmin must not live where there
are only shudras; so, depart, bag and baggage! Do you know what the
Shastras say about people who have been eating mlechchha [non-Hindu]
food and living under the government of the mlechchhas, as you have
been doing for the past thousand years? Do you know the penance for
that? The penance would be burning yourself with your own hands. Do
you want to pass as teachers and walk like hypocrites? If you believe
in your Shastras, burn yourself first like the one great brahmin who
went with Alexander the Great and burnt himself because he thought he
had eaten the food of a mlechchha. Do like that, and you will see
that the whole nation will be at your feet. You do not believe your
own Shastras and yet want to make others believe in them. If you
think you are not able to do that in this age, admit your weakness
and excuse the weakness of others; take the other castes up, give
them a helping hand, let them study the Vedas and become just as good
Aryans as any other Aryans in the world, and be you likewise
Aryans. - Vivekananda

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#837 - October 28, 2003 08:06 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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In Bali the caste system is still there though its dying just like in
modern India. People freely mix and
intermarry now. There never was an untouchability.

It was also not a hardened system like in India. Here, there is
mobility. Anyone of any of the 4 castes can
become an assistant priest in any temple, large or small, even women.
The chief priest post is reserved for
the brahmins only, but even this is theoretical only; in practise
many temples are officiated by non brahmin
assistant priests, with the chief brahmin priest only officiating on
major festival days.

There are no protests from any quarters as there is no
untouchability, no vegetarianism, no 'touch me not'
attitudes, and not really a hierarchy. Furthermore, tourism has made
the landowners rich, where many set up
small hotels and restaurants, and many others sold their precious
padi fields to 5 star hotel groups and
became instant millionaires. And there are several thousand large
hotels and bed & breakfast hotels.

A few things stand out in comparison with the Indian caste system;
1. there is no untouchability,
2. there is no hierarchy, all castes are equal, therefore no
superiority and inferiority complexes,
3. there is mobility amoung the castes; anyone can become a priest or
kshatriya
4. women and children acquire the caste of the husband,
5. all groups have a caste shrine within the main temple, none higher
or lower,
6. their ancient village judicial system must have been effective as
all caste problems or slights must have
been resolved there immediately.
7. no sacred thread ceremony, so no cause for exclusivity and
quarrels.
8. same samskaras for all, except the rich afford large ceremonies
and feasts for the departed.

I noticed that the priests are really humble souls, who do not speak
much and do not try and stand out in a
crowd. If you see a group of people, you will not know who is the
priest amoung them; but if you observe
long enough you will realise that its the one that is most quiet,
emotionless, humble, motions gently and
walks slowly.

Equality in all things for all Hindus have made their caste system a
success. I have not heard of any Balinese
complaining about their system. We must strive for this.


--- In NavyaShastra@yahoogroups.com, Vikram Masson
<vikram_masson@y...> wrote:
> Pathma:
>
> How would you compare the caste system in Bali to the caste system
in India? There is no untouchability in Bali as far as I'm aware. Do
we hear protests from the Sudras as we do in India?
>
> Vikram
>
>
> Pathmarajah Nagalingam <pathma@s...> wrote:
> --- In NavyaShastra@yahoogroups.com, "vpsubramanian"
> <vpsubramanian@y...> wrote:
>
> > In Java and Sumatra where Varnasrma was not followed, Hinduism
> > folded and they converted rapidly to Islam while where it was
> > practiced namely Bali, Hinduism has survived.
>
>
>
> This assessment is only partly true. There was a caste system in
Java
> too but it was very rudimentary and flexible; they had priests and
> kshatriyas. Once the local chiefs became muslims and challenged the
> established Hindu royal dynasties successfully, the royalty and
priests
> fled to Bali.
>
> There in Bali the priests 'hardened' the caste system into a
fourfold
> one, with a whole load of new rules, and perhaps this is one of the
> reasons that Hinduism survived in Bali surrounder by a sea of
muslims.
>
> Perhaps the caste system hardened in India due to the muslim
> invasions, a sort of 'defense strategy'.

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#838 - April 27, 2004 06:03 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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Folks,


Right up to the 19th century, Hindu society
functioned based on
jaatis. All performed their hereditary occupations.
Being the
agricultural age few jaatis switched occupations
except in times of
war when most were drafted.

All worshipped in temples, performed yaagams
and sought a virtuous
life. When one felt that she/he wanted to attain
moksha, they simply
abandoned ashraama dharma, sought diksha
from a wondering monk and
themselves became a wandering ascetic. They
did not try and become
priests wearing the sacred thread. Some others became monks in
aadheenams.

The brahmanas wore the sacred thread and obtained brahmavidya - a
mantra diksha, inorder to perform their jaati duties/pujas well. All
the rest of the jaatis became monks/ascetics and took mantra diksha
from
other monks or aadheenams as and when the desire arose.

Nobody felt slighted or shortchanged. Diksha was available for all.
In the case of the saivites, the sivacharyas or kurukkals did provide
the diksha to the various jaatis. This is a fact in my own lineage.
In my own lifetime, a sivacharya In Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, offered
to
give me the mantra diksha but it was I who declined. I later took it
from an aadheenakartar.

What is the meaning of varna/dvija when I already have diksha, when I
was offered diksha? Varna/dvija does not hold!

Agamas, vedas, bakti literature and puranas were the guiding
literature for the masses of jaatis.

But the brahmanas did maintain their own guild rules, ie. the
Manusmirtis and perpetuated it among themselves. And it was never law
of the land, never enforced. That tells us whether it was universally
accepted. So there. No varna.

But jaati, without any sastra backing, was enforced in every village
thru the panchayat, till today. So there. Jaati WAS/IS common law.
Till today jaati is common law, over and above the Indian
constitution, as recently posted, in Venkaiah Naidu's village.

So there you have it; the uncodified jaati system is law of the land,
till today, but the codified varna never was!

(That also tells you the strenght of sastras amoung the Hindu
population. The people decided what is law, what is sastra, what is
theology, not the kings or brahmins! It is also telling of the
hierarchy that was ACTUALLY in place, which certainly was not what was
suggested by Manu. Another example: while the vedas suggested
yaagams, the people decided temple worship. So there, so much for
vedasastras. The peoples' will is there for all to see all over
India,
even today, in the temples and in the actual enforced common law. So
much vivid clarity, no room for confusion.)

When diksha was available to large sections of the population, how
can there ever be a varna-dvija system? No one had to be a dvija to
obtain diksha/brahmavidya. This means dvija meant nothing.

They cannot have been a 4 fold varna system when two castes are not
there in several regions of the subcontinent.

Thank you for the kind concurrence.

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#839 - May 06, 2004 02:01 AM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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Let me translate in English a post, I had written on this long ago in Tamil.

'niRangkaL Or ainthudaiyAy, viNNOrkaL Eththa maRainthirunthAy
emperumAn!' sings Saint Manickavasagar in his famous Sivapuranam -
on the 'One' concealed in five colourways as worshiped by the
Devatas, the Celestials.

What are those five colours? And what do they represent?

The five colours represent the Panchaboothas that fill the Anda &
Pinda; Macrocosm & Microcosm. Lets see the colours that represent
each bootha as expounded further by Saint Tirumular.

!? ?!?¨?¯¨¼®¢
¿£? ??¨??º??¿œP
¸¡? a?<sum>»œ¨?¯¨¼®¢
‰?<sum>–?h?£S¿¢?
¾¢???¾??8 - 2145

pAr athu ponmai pasumai udaiyathu
nIr athu veNmai semmai neruppathu
kAr athu mArutham karuppai udaiyathu
vAnagam dhUma maRainthu ninRArE!
Tirumantiram - Tantra - 8 - Verse 2145
(Translation - Dr.B.Natarajan)

The Five Elements Also Are Within Body:
Earth is of colour gold pure,
Water is white,
Fire red,
Wind dark,
Space smoky;
Thus the five elements concealed stand within.

Saint Manavasagam kadanthaar (the one who transcended Mind & Vak) of
Tiruvathikai - a disciple of Saint Meykandathevar reveals further in
a verse:

?!????¨??!Ù? «?º¢???
?Ö? ‰????«?á¾
¢?¸?3/
4~¡??!
¯?T¸?¸?4

ponpAr punal veNmai pongkum anal sivappu
vankAl karumaivaLar vAn dhUmam - enpAr
ezuththu la va ra ya ar pArAdhikenRum
azuththamathAy niRkum athu!
- UNmai vilakkam - Verse - 4

Prthvi - Golden
Appu - White
Agni - Red
Vayu - Black
Akash - Smoky
Thus say the Sages.
The elements are expressed by the letters -
La for Earth,
Va for Water
Ra for Fire
Ya for Wind
And
A for Space.

These letters La Va Ra Ya and A are denoting their respective 'Seed
syllables' - the Bijaaksharas - Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam & Ham.

What are these 'Beejas' and how to invoke them?

Here starts the Varivasya rahasya. And one has to get intiated to
explore further. AdiSankara sings elaborately on the significance of
these syllables in SoundaryaLahari and other works.

Aum Namasivaya Sivayanama Aum

Love,
PN Kumar

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#840 - May 06, 2004 02:21 AM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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?º? µ? ?º?§Ï¢÷?™«??¢jˆ «§F?ó?

senthazal Ombiya semmai Vedhiyarkku
anthiyuL manthiram anjsezuththumE!
(For the fire worshipping Vaidhikas,
the mantra embedded in the Sandhyavandhana
is Panchakshara!)

- declares Saint TirugnanaSambandhar
on the day of his Upanayanam - to
the sorrounding Vedic Brahmins.

Here goes the Gayatri Dhyana Mantra:
Mukta vidruma hemaneela dhavala chaayai: mukhai: sthreekshanai:
yuktamindu nibaddha ratna makutam tatvarta varnatmikam |
Gaayatreem varadam abhayankusakasa: subhram kapaalam gunam
sankham chakram ataravindayugalam hastha: vahanteem bhajey &#0124;&#0124;

Mukta
Vidruma
Hema
Neela
Dhavala
- are the five faces / hues of Mother Shakti.

They represent the Pancha Bootha again.

ninRa ezuththukaL nErtharu Bhoothamum
ninRa ezuththukaL nErtharu vaNNamum
ninRa ezuththukaL nErthara ninRidil
ninRa ezuththuLum ninRanan thAnE!
Tirumanthiram - Tantra - 4 - Verse - 947

Five letters are the Five Elements and Five Colours
The letters that stood thus
Are the Elements Five;
The Letters thus stood
Are the Colours Five;
If Letters stood in order appropriate
He stood within the Letters, for sure.

Love,
Kumar

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#841 - May 06, 2004 01:13 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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A discussion in another forum.


In the Rg Veda color (varna) means the color of the banner of the god the
family follows. It has nothing to do with cast, ethnicity or god. One has to
link
this word (varna) to words like rupa(form) or varlas (concrete form) to
understand the fluid and inconcrete character character of those words in the Rg

Veda. In general the three words correspond to an effect (form) poduced or being

produced and therefore classifiable only according to the aspect or the stage
of the manifested external activity. As in R.V. 5.81.2., of Savitara, or
Visvarupa, or the changes of Soma in the ritual, R.V. 2.13.3.or Indra in
R.V.3.53.8. In the same sense that it is said of the wind and its forms which
appear
with force R.V. 1.164.44 or simply as whisperings R.V. 10.168.4.
All beauty resides in the color (varna) of Agni R.V. 2.1.12. And the "cows
follow the color of Agni" AND THE Rivers the color of Varuna as in Rg Veda
10.124.7 or even the poem of the poet is sukravarna (clear color). In every
instance varna is a manifestation of an state of being active...not fixed as a
cast.
OM SHANTI
Antonio de NICOLAS

> Why is Lord Muruga red?


lemme try an arrow

agnirnaH paatu kR^ittikaa .
nakshatram devamindriyam .


(nakshatra suukta - originally in TB--shruti)

Now krittikaa <==> kaartikai <==> murugan
any guess what colour agni is?

Rajagopal Iyer

Prof. Nicolas is right in that varna has to be associated with rupa
and nama. All gods have a name and form as well as color. All
form is color. Color is light. It is energy. It is dynamic. Color is
Vibrations, and it is Sound too. Combinations of colors manifest
as different gods.

That color (varna) is also the emanation, effulgence, power,
effect or shakti of that god. When seen in this sense, there is
unity of the gods as well as creation, while the distinctions
remain. Colors are the same One Light vibrating in different
frequencies.

But all these have nothing to do with the varna system. Insofar as
the vedas, varna is color - of the gods.

Now see how in the puraanashastras, say the BG, that scholars
and archaryas, even saintly names from the past, over long
periods of time have been explaining that varna is 'based on
guna not janma'. And see how far these puraanashastras have
deviated from the vedas. Embarassing isn't it?

And when the bakti saints admonished the people to disregard
varna and jaati, that admonishment itself is used now to validate
the 'ever existence' of varna system. Doctrinally the bakti saints
were closer to the vedas than the puraanashastra authors.

It is in this sense that I have always maintained that we should
eject all smirthis, as it is clouding our views and judgements.
The smirthis ARE in major conflict with the vedas.

We now see clearly as Rajagopal writes that Lord Muruga is
indeed Agni, and Agni is His color, and He is the most
worshipped god of the rig.

>if one has internalized the view that
> the PurANas as no more than stories, legends, and parables)
and one is still
> religious, then one has attained a higher level of spirituality
than most
> ordinary Hindus. In that case, it should make little difference in
what color
> Krishna, KAli, or KArtikEya is represented.


These puraanashastras are
indeed an impediment to spiritual progress. I urge all to mentally
eject them as stories, legends and parables and be relieved
immediately, and be caste free, be sect free, and be open to
receive and explore new, higher and loftier avenues of thinking
and realisations.

Unless we all in the forum do that, and take the higher path, and
boldly declare so openly, only them can we lead Hindu soceity
out of the morass of caste. Only them will we have the conviction
to lead.

Pathma

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#842 - May 24, 2004 05:16 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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Folks,

We have discussed the issue of caste in Hinduism thouroughly again and again and beaten it to death in several forums, most notably in:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NavyaShastra/messages

which is an activist forum dedicated to removal of caste and creating an egalitarian society where all Hindus are able to receive the sacred thread. The participants are intellectual and academic luminaries and writers from across the globe; everyone an illustrious scholar.


The main issues that we discussed and arrived at broad conclusions were:

1. varna (vannum) in the vedas means color of the Gods or their qualities, effulgence, not caste,

2. There is NO varna system in the vedas or agamas at all, the shruti.

3. varna system is only present in the itihasas, puranas and dharmasastras, and that these texts are in MAJOR conflict with the shruti, and has to be ejected as useful but, legends and fables only.

4. the jaati system, hereditary vocations, was always there in Indian history as unwritten common law, and varying with the regions and time,

5. there are no dalits, untouchables, avarnas or outsiders - all are equal Hindus. There are only hundreds of equal jaatis.

6. the manu shastras were never implemented, it was a dead document more than a millenium ago, much like the karma sutra. Both are not scripture. Whereas jaati exists to this day in all panchayats, even if unwritten. And jaatis were dynamic and fluid.

7. there never was a 4 fold top down pyramidal hierarchy in India, and in the agricultural age, the agriculturalists were the ones who were supreme,

8. the guna, not janma based arguments for caste has to be rejected as it is superflous, and that is not what the vedas say (read # 14 & 15),

9. clinching irrefutable evidence that the 4 fold caste system never existed is that 2 varnas are missing. Only the farmer groups and the priests have existed - there are no vashya or kshatriya communities, although claims remain. Vivekanada asked this same question a 100 years ago, "where are the kshatriyas and vaishyas in our country? I do not see them!"

10. The Purusha Sukta is not an explanation of division of men; it has been mistranslated. It explains creation not caste. Some say the PS is ancient tamil, and sanskrit is ancient tamil.

Visit

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Akhandabharatam/messages

for details on this issue.

11. Diksha was available to all jaatis, but brahmopadesam was confined to priests as it was a vocational requirement. Few other jaatis sought brahmopadesam as diksha unless they wanted to work as priests.

12. the bakti saints have restated vedic truths in their literature and thoroughly rebuked and admonished jaati and varna,

13. ONLY in recent history, probably the last 150 years, that the manu shastras was resurrected and superimposed on the jaati system, and persecution of dalits commenced, and the vedas and sanskrit became cloistered. This scheming backed by the AIT gave it authenticity.

14. the sastras pointedly say all can achieve moksha in this every lifetime - no need to climb a birth ladder,

15. the vedas pointedly say 'let all receive the knowledge', and 'all vocations are equal and worthy of salutations and not one is better than the other'.

16. all jaatis (incl. present day dalit jaatis) contributed to shruti and smirti as well as women.

17. and that Hinduism as it is today is based on the Agamic temple icon worship, which is open to all (egalitarian) and Not on the vedas or smirthis at all, (although we use vedic chants in the agamic rituals). And there is NO varna system in the agamas.

18. There is nothing to conclusively show that Indians are of different races. We are a one race.


Please visit the forums for details.

Regards all.

Pathma

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#843 - July 27, 2004 12:52 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
Pathmarajah Offline
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Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Folks,

This book by Dharampal confirms many of the things on jaatis and varna, as well as hierarchy, affluence and status that I mentioned in the past. Something horrible happened around 1800. Economic upheaval rigidified jaati, created a hierarchy and turned industrial artisans and warriors into Backwards groups, and the British resurfaced the Manu smirti and the dvijas overlaid it on the jaati system.

Please read carefully as it clearly says there is no varna, no hierarchy, no one higher or lower in learning or even rituals or affluence and no untouchability. But jaati was there.

We are almost there on the truth.

Regards.

Pathma


Rediscovering India by Dharampal

Courtesy and Copyright Society for Integrated Development of Himalayas (SIDH)


Dharampalji is an accomplished researcher, writer, thinker, sociologist, historian & philosopher. It is his ability to question what looks like obvious, to delve behind it and unravel intriguing and insightful details of Indian history, society & polity that makes Dharampalji very special. A Gandhian & long time associate of Mirabehn & Jayaprakash Narayan, the Dharampal flavor is manifest in each of the articles in this collection - rich in research, delectable insight, and revelations which are spicy & invigorating.


Excerpts from the book based on a review in:
http://www.esamskriti.com/html/new_inside.asp?cat_name=why&cid=1039&sid=170

Peasants, artisans, those engaged in the manufacture of iron and steel, or in the various processes of its flourishing indigenous textile industry, or its surgeons and medical men, even many of its astronomers and astrologers belonged to this predominant section i.e. Sudras is unquestionable.

When the British began to conquer India, the majority of the rajas in different parts of India had also been from amongst such castes which have been placed in the sudra varna.

Today's backward classes or Sudras cultural and economic backwardness is post 1800 due to impact of British economic policies.

Madras Presidency 1822 survey showed sudras and castes below formed 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the total students in the Tamil speaking areas.

In 1804 according to The Edinburgh Review wages of the Indian agricultural laborer were also much more than British counter part.

Simultaneous to the stigmatizing of caste as an evil, the requirements of conquest, and perhaps also a similarity in classification, attracted the British to the Manusmriti and gave scholarly and legal support to some of its provisions, including those relating to the varnas. A major result of it was to provide validity and traditional sanction to the virtual dispossession of an overwhelming proportion of the Indian people from property or occupancy rights in hand and taking away their rights in the management of innumerable cultural and religious institutions which they had hitherto managed. Further, it also led to the erosion of the flexibility of customs which existed amongst most of the castes, and made them feel degraded to the extent they deviated from brahamanical practice. The listing of the castes in a rigid hierarchical order was another result of this latter approach. The earlier relationship and balance amoung the castes was thus wholly disrupted.

About a century later, i.e., from about the end of the nineteenth century, various factors began to attempt a reversal of what had resulted from previous British policy. In time, this has led to what today are known as backward caste movements. The manner in which their objectives are presented however, seem to suggest as if the 'backward' status they are struggling against is some ancient phenomenon. In reality their cultural and economic backwardness (as distinct from their ritualistic status on specific occasions) is post - 1800, and what basically all such movements are attempting to achieve is to restore back the position, status, and rights they had prior to 1800.

Before arriving at a conscious policy regarding education in India the British carried our certain surveys of the surviving indigenous educational system. A detailed survey was carried out in 1822-25 in the Madras Presidency (i.e. the present Tamil Nadu, the major part of the present Andhra Pradesh, and some districts of the present Karnataka, Kerala and Orissa). The survey indicated that 11,575 schools and 1,094 colleges were still then in existence in the Presidency and that the number of students in them were 1,57,195 and 5,431 respectively. The more surprising information, which this survey provided, is with regard to the broader caste composition of the students in the schools.

According to it, those belonging to the sudras and castes below formed 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the total students in the Tamil speaking areas, 62 per cent in the Oriya areas, 54 per cent in the Malayalam speaking areas, and 35 per cent to 40 per cent in the Telugu speaking areas. The Governor of Madras further estimated that over 25 per cent of the boys of school age were attending these schools and that a substantial proportion, and more so the girls, were receiving education at home. According to data from the city of Madras 26,446 boys were receiving their education at home while the number of those attending schools was 5,532.

The number of those engaged in college-level studies at home was similarly remarkable in Malabar, 1,594 as compared to a mere 75 in a college run by the family of the then impoverished Samudrin Raja. Further, again in the district of Malabar the number of Muslim girls attending school was surprisingly large, 1,122 girls as compared to 3,196 Muslim boys. Incidentally, the number of Muslim girls attending school there 62 years later in 1884-85 was just 705. The population of Malabar had about doubled during this period.

If one looks deep enough, corresponding images of other aspects of Indian life and society emerge from similar British records of the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth century. Those indicate not only a complex structure of science and technology (according to tests carried out by the British, the best steel in the world during this period was produced by relatively portable steel furnaces in India, and inoculation against small-pox was a widely-extended Indian practice) but also the sophisticated organizational structure of Indian society.

According to Mr. Alexander Read, later the originator of the Madras land revenue system, the only thing which seemed to distinguish the nobility from their servants in Hyderabad around 1780 was that the clothes of the former were more clean.


Warriors are now Backwards

Integrating the Notified Tribes - The fifth report of the Bihar Backward Classes Commission 1976 (commonly known by the name of its chairman as, the Mungerilal commission) deals with the denotified groups in Bihar.

While the commission has shown much concern about the problem faced by these groups the most important part of the report seems to be its introduction. According to it, these groups are largely of such people whose ancestors were warriors and gave unceasing battle to the British till they got exhausted and succumbed to the overwhelming British power. Besides being warriors, their main occupations are said to have been of ironsmithy (Iuhar), hunting, jugglery and acrobatics, snake charming and acting. After their total subjugation, on the one hand, they were compulsorily excluded from the rest of society and put under constant police vigilance, and on the other hand, to somehow satisfy their pressing needs (and perhaps also as a symbol of rebellion) took to thieving, begging etc. Furthermore they used to be put to forced labor under statute, and in the later stages some of them put under the charge of the (British) Salvation Army .


A few comments from the Punjab census of 1881 may be reproduced here.

1. The effect of Hinduism upon the character of the followers:

"(Hinduism) can hardly be said to have an effect upon the character of its followers, for it is itself the outcome and expression of that character-. In fact the effect of Hinduism upon the character of its followers is perhaps best described as being wholly negative. It trouble their souls with no problems of conduct or belief, it stirs them to no enthusiasm either political or religious, it seeks no proselytes, it preaches no persecution, it is content to live and let live. The characteristic of the Hindu is quiet, contented thrift. He tills his lands, he feeds his Brahman, he lets his womenfolk worship their gods, and accompanies them to they yearly festival at the local shrines, and his chief ambition, is to build a brick house, and to waste more money than his neighbor at his daughter's wedding."


2. On Village Mussalmans (of Eastern Punjab)

"In the eastern portion of the Punjab the faith of Islam, in anything like its original purity, was till quite lately to be found only among the Saiyads, Pathans, Arabs and other Mussalmans of foreign origin, who are for the most part settled in towns. The so-called Mussalmans of the villages were Mussalmans in little but name. They practiced circumcision, repeated the Kalimah, or mahomadan profession of faith, and worshipped the village deities. But after the Mutiny a great revival took place. Mahomadan priests traveled far and wide through the country preaching the true faith, and calling upon believers to abandon their idolatrous practices… But the villager of the East is still a very bad Mussalman… As Mr. Channing puts it, the Mussalman of the villages ‘observes the feasts of both religions and the fasts of neither."


3. Impact of Islamic Conquest on Caste

"Indeed it seems to me exceedingly probable that where the Mussalman invasion has not, as in the Western Punjab, been so wholesale or the country of the invaders so near as to change bodily by force of example the whole tribal custom of the inhabitants, the Mahomedan conquest of northern India has tightened and strengthened rather than relaxed the bonds of caste; and it has done this by depriving the Hindu population of their natural leaders the Rajputs, and throwing them wholly into the hands of the Brahmans.

The full discussion of this question would require a far wider knowledge of Indian comparative sociology than I possess. But I will briefly indicate some considerations which appear to me to point to the probable truth of my suggestion- We know that, at least, in the earlier and middle stages of Hinduism, the contest between the Brahman and the Rajput for social leadership, of the people was prolonged and- (see Muir's Sanskrit Texts, Vol.I ). The Mahomedan invaders found in the Rajput princes political enemies whom it was their business to subdue and to divest of authority; but the power of the Brahmins threatened no danger to their rule, and that they left unimpaired."

On Industry and how the 'Backwards' of today came into being.

The proportion of the Indian people engaged in industry as distinguished from agriculture, cattle and animal breeding, trade and commerce, cultural and religious pursuits, administration, and police and militia till about the end of the eighteenth century was probably in the range of 20 to 25 per cent. Of these a substantial proportion were occupied in the construction of houses, temples, forts and other public buildings, and in the construction of tanks and roads. The materials used in construction activity would have included stone, baked bricks, mud, various types of tiles, wood, some metal and a variety of mortars. Even a larger proportion seems to have been occupied in the various processes related to the manufacture of cloth-ginning, carding, spinning, weaving, dyeing, printing, finishing, etc. The number of weavers in India around 1800 could well have been in the range of 15-20 lakh families, and the households which would have spun the cotton, woolen or silken thread for the cloth which was woven could easily have been ten times the number of weaver families.

Besides these two, the major areas of industrial activity would have been in the mining and manufacture of metals, the conversion and shaping of metals into consumer articles, in the preparation of chemicals including the manufacture of salt as also of saltpeter; fishing in inland rivers, lakes, tanks, ponds, etc., as well as in the sea; in the collection of herbs including plants used in the making of dyes and of agents which fixed the colour as well as the manufacture of sugar, spirits, medicines, herbal delicacies, and essences, etc.; and a multiplicity of craftsmen who worked in wood, iron, silver, gold, diamonds, cropper, brass, bronze, glass, etc. besides there were the oil extractors, potters, leather workers and so on. Till the end of the eighteenth century, those engaged in industrial pursuits, especially those in the various fields of construction and those engaged in the manufacture and shaping of metals considered themselves in no way inferior to the Brahmins either in learning in ritual status, especially in south India. And even the Brahmins would concede them precedence on many occasions.

Yet it does seem that because of a alien political dominance, or because of some internal tension between those engaged in industry, on the one hand, and those engaged in agriculture, on the other, or because of a combination of these and several others factors, the status of those engaged in industry, and even in trade, commerce and banking, seems to have started to suffer by the early eighteenth century.

The 19th century sees the extensive uprooting, disruption and stagnation of all sphere of Indian industry and the large-scale conversion of those who had been historically and traditionally engaged in them, into mere laborers, and often into a destitute population.

In India the process of uprooting, disruption, etc. planned as it was by the British-run Indian State to suit the needs of England and of those of the West generally and of the newly transformed Western trade and commerce, got directed differently. Initially, the craftsmen, especially those engaged in the making of cloth, in the mining and manufacture of metals, and those engaged in construction, stone work, etc., were through fiscal and other devices reduced to a state of penury and homelessness and led into either a state of bondage or destruction. This turned most of the technological and industrial innovators, designers and craftsmen into mere laborers, and most of the remaining were reduced – because of lack of resources and lack of demand -to a state of industrial crudity and barbarism.

Mining and the manufacture of metals were either directly prohibited by administrative regulations or made economically impossible by the levy of high license fees, take-over of mining land as well as forests by the State as the property, and through the import of tariff supported British and European products into the country. The same began to happen from about 1815 in all sectors of the cloth industry from the stage of carding, spinning, dyeing, weaving, to printing and finishing. By about 1820 Indian industry was wholly on its knees and in the sort of state in which Mahatma Gandhi found it around 1915.

From about 1800 onwards the condition of those engaged in industry had become pitiful in the major industrial centers. This extended to other localities also were because of the rapid decline of Indian agriculture and of India's commerce and trade the industry suffered as well. The craftsmen and their families had enjoyed a citizenship status in the villages as well as the small towns. Most of them had rights to house-sites, back garden, and some manyam land and generally received a substantial proportion of the agricultural produce at the time of harvest. Similarly, many of them received incomes in various shapes from those engaged in commerce, banking and trade. As the localities began to deteriorate and crumble, because of British rack-renting, decline in the overall economy etc., most of the craftsmen became impoverished. Many were no longer needed for the functions they performed and through legalistic arguments even deprived of their manyams and house-sites. This continued during most of the nineteenth and early twentieth century and a large number of the craftsmen and others constituting the local infrastructure had to quit the localities.

End.

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#844 - July 30, 2004 03:46 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
A must read on caste issues.

Its clear expose demythifies the many wrong notions and fallacies that have come to be associated with caste especially since the 1870s, after the economic upheavel of the 1800s (as explained by Dharampal) and the political upheavels of the 1840s-1950s.

The fallacies include the association with caste of rankings, social status, economic standing, race and race purity, intelligence and privileges. It is clear that all of these factors have no association with jaati! It appears that these factors were overlaid by the british bureaucrats on the jaati system, which later the Indians themselves readily ingrained to obtain rankings and privileges.

Shorn of these factors, it seems that jaati is simply "an indicator of an extended family clan and its traditional vocation" but not necessarily the current occupation of any of its members.

It seems to me that we have just about demythified caste-varna-jaati. It becomes clear that our objective is to demythify the mass Hindu consciousness of it. All of us are just holdings untruths in our mass mind. We have to tell everyone that.

One last thing; how did Bali adopt and maintain the 4 fold hierarchical varna system, which is not found in Cambodia, Thailand or Burma? As far as I know these nations do not have the jaati system!

Regards.

Pathma

--- In NavyaShastra@yahoogroups.com, <fritzv@a...> wrote:
>
> http://www.infinityfoundation.com/ECITcastebritishframeset.htm
>
>
>
> The Indian Caste System and The British -
> Ethnographic Mapping and the Construction of the British Census in India
> By Kevin Hobson

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#845 - August 05, 2004 02:33 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Excerpts on a discussion in another forum.

"According to Prof. Sivathamby, the great Siddhantha conservative of
Sri Lanka, Arumugam Pillai Navalar had raised the ire (not iyer,
hehe) of not only the Hindu liberals, but also the Brahmins when he
stayed in Tamil Nadu for 6 years in the late 19th century, because of
his views of the "sat sudra" and his place in society. Would you (or
anyone else) like to hear more about this? I bring up Sri Lanka in
this context, because it is held by some that some of the older
practices of the Tamils may have been preserved in northern SL. It
is well-known that in Jaffna, the Brahmins have always been the
servants of the Vellalars and no more than that. A friend of mine
once told me how surprised he was to meet a Thanjavur Brahmin,
outside of a temple!!

Before, I had mentioned that the Sinhalese had generally equated the
religion of the Tamils as 'Brahmanism' in their historical
chronicles. There's more I should add. The Nayanmars (was it
Thirugnanasambandar?) praise two (or three?) sites in Sri Lanka: the
Thirukoneeshwarar temple in Thirukonamalai (Trincomalee), and another
temple in what is today Mannar. The Sinhalese chronicles mention
these two sites exactly along with a third which would correspond to
Batticaloa today. All three were known as 'Brahmin' villages."

Prof. Nisala

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#846 - November 15, 2004 07:29 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
VARNA AND CASTE

It would be a grave misunderstanding of the Vedic Tradition to read
references to varna (color) with the racial overtones of our times and the
stagnation
of society as a fixed entity divided within itself through an internal division
of fixed casts, in a culture defined by movement (Rta, the Movement of the
embodied-Norm, and model of the Avatara).

Internal evidence within the Rg Veda points to an ideological struggle that
applied to both Aryans and Dasyus (local). As Max Muller writes: in The Vedas
pp. 13 “ If one wants to find the contrary of the Aryan way of thinking (not
the color of their skin) one would have to look into the Semitic world. The
Aryan ancestry goes back to India, Persia, Greece, Italy, not Mesopotamia, Egypt
or Palestine.”

The case becomes clearer when one looks within the Vedic texts for the use of
words like
rupa (form) varpas (concrete form) and varna (color). The three words
correspond to an effect, a result, produced or being produced and therefore
classifiable only according to the aspect or stage of the manifested external
activity.

As in the form of Savitara R.V. 5.81.2, or Visvarupa, (the Creator of all
forms and therefore named as such); or the changes of Soma in the ritual of the
Sacrifice (Yajna) as in R.V. 2.13.3.; or the multiple active manifestations of
Indra in R.V. 3.53.8. In this same sense it is also said of the wind and its
form that remains unseen while perceiving its force as in R.V. 1.164.44, or its
whispering as in R.V. 10.168.4.

Although varna primarily means color, like the black color of night and the
white color of day, R.V. 1.73.7 makes us aware of the wider context of an
activity within which both colors are signified and within which their opposed
aspects become reconciled, i.e.,
the activity within which both day and night are only alternate manifestation
of an original unity, R.V. 1.96.5

“All beauty resides in the color (varna) of Agni,” R.V. 2.1.12, yet to
translate color in a physical sense, like skin pigmentation, would be
misleading.
In R.V. w.5.5 the poet affirms that the “cows follow the color of Agni, (ta
asya varnam…sacanta dhenavah), while Agni is called the nestr, (the Leader) in
the same sense that the butter of the cows and the flames join in an efficient
action. Color (varna) is less a visual quality than a state, or habit of mind.
The “asura color” (asuryam varnam) in R.V. 9.71.2 is that which
rejects the harming Soma from entering an activity, the Sacrifice, which
efficacious.

Varna, again, appears as an activity of a state of being, a state of mind,
rather than a racial quality. It is no doubt this feeble and abstract
“category”
that the word varna carries with itself that causes attempts to identify it
with “race” and “caste.” This case has been made with greater clarity
with
the word dasa (servant, slave) and the
Arya varna as in R.V. 1.104.2; 2.11.4; 3.34.9. Yet, this reduction in meaning
to only a physical aspect is contradictory of the passages already mentioned
and others.
The “Rivers” that carry the varna of the god Varuna in R.V. 10.124.7
recognize in this god a banner, a sign that makes them belong to his “race”
community. Varna refers to color as a distinctive sign that characterizes a
“state of being active”, as in other aspects
Ketu is light in so far as it is also active. In this sense the poet can call
his poem ‘sukravarna’ (clear colored) as in R.V. 1.143.7 and R.V. 10.71.2 as

signs of an activity that is efficacious. In the same sense it is said of
Indra in R.V. 3.34.5 It is also said of the Divine Doors R.V. 2.3.5 “which
open
to liberate the class of mortals” (varnam punana yasasam suriram)and it is
said also of the “sacred poets” as in R.V. 8.3.3 which is pure (suci) and of a
"pure class” (pavakavarna).

For more on this issue see my book Meditations Through the Rg Veda pp. 276

Prof Antinio de Nicholas

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#847 - November 15, 2004 07:33 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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Posts: 1030
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When I meant the varna SYSYEM did not exist, I meant the 4 fold hierarchical system of Manu did not exist on the ground.

The FACT that a majority of the kings and dynasties were originally farmers and artisans, PROVES the 4 fold system did not exist, and even if it did, it was successfully challenged over and over again.

The FACT that 2 varna groups did not exist PROVES that varna system did not exist.

The FACT that persons of all jaatis contributed to the vedic hymns and other shastras PROVES that brahmins were a priestly occupational jaati, who studied their works and recited it in yagnas and temples.

But the jaati system of several hundred vocational groups, was in effect at all times, and it was equally bad. And different jaatis were abused at different times.

At the same time, we see that the varna system IDEALS and PRINCIPLES was incorporated and extolled in the puranashastras and later the dharmashastras. This gave it credibility which some jaatis claimed and perpetuated it amoungst themselves and abused the others and denied the thread to them.

Ask anyone of proof of varna, and yup, they will quote only these Varnashraama texts, as well as local legends. These are 'never happened' stories and the most tampered of texts with deliberate insertions - therefore cannot be taken seriously. Some puranas and even upanishads are as late as the 16th century, written to accomodate varna.

Yet we see varna, not jaati, in Bali due to the impact of Manu there as well as the popularity of the itihasas. But neither varna nor jaati in Cambodia or Thailand.

Pathma

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#848 - November 25, 2004 06:04 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
Pathmarajah Offline
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Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Endogamy and Reservations - Last Pillars of the Caste System

Varna system never existed, except on paper. With economic changes, the caste system (jaati) will be gone in less then 10-15 years. Recent events have tremendously boosted the unravelling of caste. Even an ethical or moral stance is lost as we know that caste groupings is not synonymous with particular gunas. Everyone has the same guna, for monasticism or crime. Thats for sure. I hope all these guna based arguments will end once and for all. It was bs all along! Jamna was gone, now guna is gone too. Perhaps now people will realise why many of us have been saying that many Hindus live in a 'virtual reality'.

Caste endogamy too will/must go, else certain communities will be lost, the gene pools become more restricted and Hinduism will suffer for this. But I am certain that good common sense will prevail and the people will see the absolute necessity to interbreed, not just among different castes but even with non Indians. Hindus will eventually choose Hinduism over endogamy as the choices are, interbreed or die. Caste endogamy too is a product of idiotic arguments, lies and mindsets - another virtual reality.

Today it is reservations that is an edifice of the caste system. The british started reservations and varna resurfaced at the same time in around 1860-1880. It must be eliminated over a 10-15 year timeplan. I dont mind if dalits and primals (formerly known as tribals) are provided reservations for a longer period though. The argument for 'reservations, not meritocracy' (sounds like guna, not janma, doesn't it?) too is another virtual reality thinking that must be demolished.

But politicians in India cant do it as it would be political suicide to even suggest. So everyone will eventually realise that only international pressure and intervention can coerce India to abandon reservations. We have to take this problem to the world.

Pathma

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#849 - November 29, 2004 05:46 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
http://www.sulekha.com/expressions/article....asp?cid=307306

Hindu Saints & Sages of All Castes

Vyäsa, a brahmin sage and the most revered author of many Vedic scriptures including the Vedas, Mahabharata, Bhagavada Gita and Bhagavata Purana, was the son of Satyavati, a sudra woman. Vyäsa's profound knowledge of the Vedic wisdom established him as a brahmin even though he was born of a sudra mother. Vyäsa's father, Päräsara, was also a son of a candala woman and yet was considered a brahmin based on his Vedic wisdom. Another popular Vedic sage, Välmiki was initially a hunter. He came to be known as a brahmin sage on the basis of his profound knowledge of the scriptures and his authorship of the Rämäyana. According to Rig Veda (IX.112.3), the poet refers to his diverse parentage: “I am a reciter of hymns, my father is a physician and my mother grinds corn with stones. We desire to obtain wealth in various actions.” Sage Aitareya, author of Aitareya Upanisad, was born of a sudra woman. Vasishtha, son of a prostitute, was established as a brahmin and Rig Veda book VII is attributed to him. In Chandogya Upanisad, the honesty of Satyakäma establishes his brahminhood, even though his ancestry is unknown as he is the son of a maidservant. Visvamitra, born in a ksatriya family becomes a sage, and hence a brahmin, based on his asceticism. Some Rig Veda hymns are attributed to him. The priest Vidathin Bhärdväja became a ksatriya as soon as he was adopted by King Bharata and his descendents were the well-known Bharata ksatriyas. Janaka, a ksatriya by birth, attained the rank of a brahmin by virtue of his ripe wisdom and saintly character and is considered a rajarishi (king-sage). Vidura, a brahmin visionary, who gave religious and moral instructions to King Dhrtarashtra, was born to a woman servant of the palace. His varna as a brahmin was determined on the basis of his wisdom and knowledge of scriptures. The Kauravas and Pandavas were the descendants of Satyavati, a fisher-woman, and Vyäsa, a brahmin. In spite of this mixed heredity, the Kauravas and Pandavas were known as ksatriyas on the basis of their occupation. Ajamidha and Puramidha were admitted to the status of the brahmin class, and even composed Vedic hymns. Yaska, in his Nirukta, tells us that of two brothers, Santanu and Devapi, one becomes a ksatriya king and the other a brahmin priest. Kavasa, the son of the slave girl Ilusa, becomes a brahmin priest. The Bhagavata Purana tells of the elevation of the ksatriya clan named Dhastru to brahminhood. In the later Vedic times, Chandragupta Maurya, originally from the Muria tribe, goes on to become the famous Mauryan emperor of Magadha. Similarly, his descendant, King Asoka, was the son of a maidservant. The Sanskrit poet and author, Kalidasa is also not known to be a brahmin by birth. His works are considered among the most important Sanskrit works. In the medieval period, saint Thiruvalluvar, author of 'Thirukural' was a weaver. Other saints such as Kabir, Sura Dasa, Ram Dasa and Tukaram came from the sudra class also. Many of the great visionaries in modern India were not brahmins by birth but can be regarded as brahmins by their life-styles and teachings: Mahätmä Gändhi, Swämi Vivekänada, Sri Aurobindo, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Swämi Chinmayänanda etc.

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#850 - December 02, 2004 06:19 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
Pathmarajah Offline
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Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
The Seer and the Smarthas


It is only when there is introspection that understanding can dawn and healing can begin.

The question can be summarised as, 'what did we do to deserve this'? Many modern Hindus have lost the belief of karma, often now just a perfunctory tale to be quoted only. But we know that nothing can happen to us if it is not our karma; therefore we accept whatever that happens and deal with it. That is being a Hindu, rather than pointing fingers at the police, the judiciary, the politicians and the media.

In a society where there is a dedicated priesthood, and the priesthood does not allow a section of the society to enter the temples, does not perform samskaras in their homes, does not allow the rest of the society to become priests or monks, does not allow the rest of society to learn the scriptures, then that priesthood has failed the soceity. It is not serving them. Priests are there only to serve god and society, and if that does not happen, their usefulness has lapsed. On top of that, if the priesthood insults the society by saying 'you are lower' and avoids mixing with the people for fear of pollution, that would be just about the worse thing.

The priesthood failed to understand that they are here to serve the people, all the people, with love, that the people are their patrons, their protectors and the source of their livelihood.

We could have a good discussion about the ramifications of the smartha sampradaya. Surely they did not appear from nothing in the 8th century. What was their lineage before the 8th century, their philosophy then? Why is this forgotten? Did we have priests before the advent of Adi Shankara?

I have no prejudices against smarthas or anyone; I simply feel that they are standing in the way of a caste free society. And again I mean the smartha monasteries and priesthood, not the regular smartha people, 80% of whom are not in the priesthood (and technically not really smarthas). And probably its the smallest of all the priesthood sects and monasteries.

Yes I did say that the smarthas, the smirthis and the caste system is the triple exis of evil plagueing Hinduism. I am sure you can already see where the 'hate' in Hindu society originated.

Hindus show their resentment by turning to the athiests, secularists and commies. This same resentment translates into discrimination and violence against dalits and primals. We have to ask, who taught them discrimination, and violence against the 'lower classes'? The smirthis did. There is violence and discrimination in them, and so much hate and capital punishment that no Hindu king ever implemented it. The itihasas are books on war and vengence. Who taught the smirthis?

Human Rights Watch says there are 100,000 caste crimes each year.

Link below says 40,000 caste crimes per year.
http://www.achrweb.org/Review/33-04.htm

This says there were 252,000 caste crimes from 1990-2000.
http://www.wider.unu.edu/conference/confer...Thorat-0206.pdf

And there are 40 million Indian women missing;
http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/7242_1127978,00180007.htm

Whatever the figures, its horrifying and speaks clearly about our culture. We are conducting a very slow genocide on our own people over many centuries. We seem to hate dalits and primals and women. So much of hatred in our hearts. Pakistan. Nazis, Japanese and the Khmer Rouge pale in comparison. We do it sloooowly. No hindu should stand for this - they should stop quibbling about caste and shastras and remove this hatred lest it consumes them, which does not seem too far away these days. These are the ramifications of Hindu caste law.

And we must ask, where is the love our saints taught?

Except for Adi Shankara, the lineages contributed nothing to Hinduism for 1300 years, no saints of repute, no reform till the 20th century vedantins, but endless bashya after bashya. I wish to be corrected on this.

Esoterically, serving God and man is the same thing. Even in practice the priesthood must serve the population, the entire population, and all devotees from whichever part of the world. No questions about this. Priests are servants of the devotees, especially in the agamic culture, and that is our religion.

The priesthood was also the custodian of the vedas, not guardian. Big difference. (perhaps this misunderstanding caused all the caste problems). Custodian 'for and on behalf of the people'. No question about it too.

It is not my criticism of the priesthood; I am only telling my reading of the sentiments of the Indian people, which to me is eminently obvious. And Indians are quite aware, being able to differentiate the different priesthood sampradayas. This surprised me.

My reading is that they are quite comfortable with the gurukkals and iyengars, protective even, but not so with the iyers. They are aware of the history of the different traditions, and rightly or wrongly, resolutely pin casteism on the shankaracharyas. Another reason for this is that the other sects of priesthoods have responded to the people, made some reform and revisions, not so the smarthas, except for recent welfare activities. Therefore the mention of smarthas in the unfolding group karma. This karma effects the rest of the community only negatively.

Something like this happened in India, driving the people away to secularism, leftism and athiesm, other religions - and eventually the big karma was coming.

Inspite of all this, though the Hindus resented, they did no react. This means there was no hate, only quiet resentment and exasperation which was obvious to anybody who talked to Indians.

What happened recently was not the peoples' doing. It was an act of god. It is not the people who are doing this, the people are blameless. It must be attributed to Him, and to Adi Shankara himself. It is his plans. This I am certain. I knew immediately then.

When something like this happens to a chief abbot, it means it is happening to the whole group; here to all smartha brahmanas and the 4 other shankaracharyas and the 10 dasanami orders too.

Jayendra Saraswathi is karmically answering for his community. All smarthas feel the pain. All brahmins. All Hindus. The whole society is feeling it someway, positively or negatively.

When one person in a family has been jeopadised, all members of the family are affected, a group karma taking place. So I understand the anguish. The smarthas can never be alright if their acharya is imprisoned. And the people too will never be comfortable again. This is mob psychology. The whole society is affected but in different ways. No one is saying brush or punish the whole class for a misdeed of one. What I am saying is the class may feel they have lost the moral authority. These are serious implications to consider.

As Hindus, we believe that our ancestral spiritual lineage of gurus, never actually die or disappear. They live in the inner worlds continually guiding devotees, especially gurus. In other words, Adi Shankara and all those who succeeded him are still there in the inner worlds guiding the sampradaya.

In fact, to Hindus, nothing can happen in this world if a decision was first not made by the gods and deceased gurus in the inner world. Everthing that happens here to us is first decided there, and then unfolds here. We have been told this.

Nobody did anything to the kanchi sankaracharya. He did it all himself (presumably, wait for the court to decide). He let down the smarthas. The smarthas have only him to blame, not the people.

But I go further; he was born to face this prarabda karma. He was born to bring an end to the kanchi lineage. He was chosen for it. Therefore I absolve him immediately. I knew it back then in 1987, that he is destined to leave the monastery once again, which he already has. Adi Shankara himself brought several sects to an end during his times. Karma now turning full circle.

Healing begins when people introspect, accept karmic responsibility, and make amends. As gods control the destiny of the world, recent events must be attributed to Him, not on the Hindu population who had nothing to do with it.

But to lift the sky, all the Hindu people must raise their hands together. The priesthood cannot do it alone. My hands are raised.

Regards.

Pathmarajah Nagalingam




[This message has been edited by Pathmarajah (edited December 02, 2004).]

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#851 - March 04, 2005 04:58 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
excerpts form a post by Kalavai Venkat in akandabaratam


Inscriptional evidences make it very clear that till the onslaught of the Muslims on the South, the paraiahs were indeed respected. Inscriptions from the 13th century show us that while the paraiah rode the horse during temple festival, the brahmin fanned him. The right of lighting the deity's lamp was reserved for the paraiah, who also endowed the temple with grants. So, while the jati system has always been an integral part of the Tamil society,
the oppression of Harijans is a rather recent phenomenon.

See the painstaking researches of Dharampal. Even till the 1820s, the Harijans were proportionately represented in the Hindu
traditional institutions. Ironically, it was the advent of the missionary education that closed the avenues to education for most
Indians.

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#852 - March 07, 2005 01:28 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Hinduism does not permit caste system

By J.G. Arora
Organisor
Feb 27, 2005

(excerpts)

There is a misconception in some minds that Hindu scriptures sanction the caste system. Vedas, the proud possession of mankind, are the foundation of Hinduism. Vedas are all-embracing, and treat the entire humanity with the same respect and dignity. Vedas speak of nobility of entire humanity (krinvanto vishvam aryam), and do not sanction any caste system or birth-based caste system.

Mantra, numbered 10-13-1 in Rig Veda, addresses the entire humanity as divine children (shrunvantu vishve amrutsya putraha). Innumerable mantras in Vedas emphasise oneness, universal brotherhood, harmony, happiness, affection, unity and commonality of entire humanity.

A few illustrations are given here. Vide Mantra numbered 5-60-5 in Rig Veda, the divine poet declares, “All men are brothers; no one is big, no one is small. All are equal.” Mantra numbered 16.15 in Yajur Veda reiterates that all men are brothers; no one is superior or inferior. Mantra numbered 10-191-2 in Rig Veda calls upon humanity to be united to have a common speech and a common mind. Mantra numbered 3-30-1 in Atharva Veda enjoins upon all humans to be affectionate and to love one another as the cow loves her newly-born calf. Underlining unity and harmony still further, Mantra numbered 3-30-6 in Atharva Veda commands humankind to dine together, and be as firmly united as the spokes attached to the hub of a chariot wheel.

Hindu scriptures speak only about ‘varna’ which means to ‘select’ (one’s profession, etc.) and which is not caste or birth-based.

In order to usher in a casteless and harmonious society, the all-embracing and universal message of Vedas has to be followed and spread. Anyone believing in the caste system is violating the Vedic command of oneness of entire humanity.

(The author is a former Chief Commissioner of Income Tax.)

[This message has been edited by Pathmarajah (edited March 07, 2005).]

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#853 - July 27, 2005 03:24 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
webmaster Offline
Member

Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
What was it like before Manu - no hierarchy, no untouchables.

Seven 'castes' or 'classes' according to Megasthenes were (as seen
from his 'Indika' translation excerpted below)


1. Philosophers
2. Husbandsmen
3. Neatherds and Shepherds
4. Artizans
5. Military
6. Overseers
7. Councillors and Assessors -- of those who deliberate upon public affairs


FRAGMENT I OR AN EPITOME OF MEGASTHENES.(Diod. II. 35-42.): J.W.
McCrindle's Megasthenes: Indika

(40.) The whole population of India is divided into seven castes, of
which the first is formed by the collective body of the Philosophers,
which in point of number is inferior to the other classes, but in
point of dignity preeminent over all. For the philosophers, being
exempted from all public duties, are neither the masters nor the
servants of others. They are, however, engaged by private persons to
offer the sacrifices due in lifetime, and to celebrate the obsequies
of the dead: for they are believed to be most dear to the gods, and to
be the most conversant with matters pertaining to Hades. In requital
of such services they receive valuable gifts and privileges. To the
people of India at large they also render great benefits, when,
gathered together at the beginning of the year, they forewarn the
assembled multitudes about droughts and. wet weather, and also about
propitious winds, and diseases, and other topics capable of
profiting-the hearers. Thus the people and the sovereign, learning
beforehand what is to happen, always make adequate provision against a
coming deficiency, and never fail to prepare beforehand what will help
in a time of need. The philosopher who errs in his predictions incurs
no other penalty than obloquy, and he then observes silence for the
rest of his life.

The second caste consists of the Husbandmen, who appear to be
far more numerous than the others. Being, moreover, exempted from
fighting and other public services, they devote the whole of their
time to tillage; nor would an enemy coming upon a husbandman at work
on his land do him any harm, for men of this class, being regarded as
public benefactors, are protected from all injury. The land, thus
remaining unravaged, and producing heavy crops, supplies the
inhabitants with all that is requisite to make life very enjoyable.
The husbandmen themselves, with their wives and children, live in the
country, and entirely avoid going into town. They pay a land-tribute
to the king, because all India is the property of the crown, and no
private person is permitted to own land. Besides the land-tribute,
they pay into the royal treasury a fourth part of the produce of the
soil.

The third caste consists of the Neatherds and Shepherds and in
general of all herdsmen who neither settle in towns nor in villages,
but live in tents. By hunting and trapping they clear the country of
noxious birds and wild beasts. As they apply themselves eagerly and
assiduously to this pursuit, they free India from the pests with which
it abounds,--all sorts of wild beasts, and birds which devour the
seeds sown by the husbandmen.

(41.) The fourth caste consists of the Artizans. Of these some
are armourers, while others make the implements which husbandmen and
others find useful in their different callings. This class is not only
exempted from paying taxes, but even receives maintenance from the
royal exchequer.

The fifth caste is the Military. It is well organized and
equipped for war, holds the second place in point of numbers, and
gives itself up to idleness and amusement in the times of peace. The
entire force--men-at-arms, war-horses, war-elephants, and all--are
maintained at the king's expense.

The sixth caste consists of the Overseers. It is their
province to inquire into and superintend all that goes on in India,
and make report to the king, or, where there is not a king, to the
magistrates.

The seventh caste consists of the Councillors and
Assessors,--of those who deliberate on public affairs. It is the
smallest class, looking to number, but the most respected, on account
of the high character and wisdom of its members; for from their ranks
the advisers of the king are taken, and the treasurers, of the state,
and the arbiters who settle disputes. The generals of the army also,
and the chief magistrates, usually belong to this class.

Such, then, are about the parts into which the body politic in
India is divided. No one is allowed to marry out of his own caste, or
to exercise any calling or art except his own: for instance, a soldier
cannot become a husbandman, or an artizan a philosopher.

From: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian.
Translated and edited by J. W. McCrindle. Calcutta and Bombay:
Thacker, Spink, 1877, 30-174.

http://www.mssu.edu/projectsouthasia/history/primarydocs/Foreign_Views/GreekRoma\
n/Megasthenes-Indika.htm

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#854 - July 27, 2005 03:30 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
webmaster Offline
Member

Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
The Varna question comes only in the Vedic texts and those who follow the Veda texts and forms of Hindu religion. Unfortunately, in the 19th century and 20th
century, they started including all Hindus in this sectarian divisions. The Three or four Varna descriptions were originally seen only among Vedic Worshippers called "Smarthas". There are NO varnas among the Saivas, Vaishnavas or Sakthas of ancient types so also among the Bhagavathas and village Deity worshippers. Later some sects of Saivas and Vaishnavas started being included in Veda followers. This is why there are no Vaisyas or Kshatriyas among the Tamils
and Malayalees. All are clubbed as Sudhras if they are not Brahmins or Avarnas.

Dr. Bala Aiyer


I affirm that Saivas, Vaishnavas and Shaktas have no varna system (although jaati was there) and that means an overwhelming majority of Hindus, probably
80% DO NOT have a varna system. Only the smartha brahmins followed the varna system.

So we now have a new big picture that only about 20% of Hindus follow the varna system and the rest 80% of Hindus only follow the unwritten common law jaati
system. This is a bit more clearer.

However early writers simply imposed the varna system on all Hindus and all of us were misled and confused for a hundred years. Now all of us are caught up in this mass confusion, not realising varna is not there. Unfortunately the vaishnava aiyangars and bhattacharyas have adopted the varna system with
gusto in the last century, not wanting to be left out in the rankings. We have to educate and remind them that they have no varna.

Its the smarthas who are the last sect still to hold on to the varna system and it is they who have to give it up. All those who count themselves as saivas, vaishnavas or shaktas - please know that you have no varna and have never accepted the varna system. The rest, that is if you are a smartha brahmana only, then yes, you have traditionally followed the varna classification, and
its your duty now to get rid of it.

I would go further and say that there are NO kshatriyas or vaishyas in the entire subcontinent, as Vivekananda said too. What we have is claims of people claiming to be kshatriyas. No doubt many classes came into service of the kings in the last millenium. It is these classes that claim to be kshatriyas today, when originally there were not. Let us keep in mind that in the puranas it is said that Parasuraama killed all the 'original' kshatriyas! So who are these people claiming
to be kshatriyas? Did Parasuraama miss some?

Regards.

Pathma

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#855 - August 03, 2005 02:19 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
webmaster Offline
Member

Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
originally posted by Vikram in navyashastra

The suprabhedagama says(Samakantha backs this up):

"Saiva-brahmana priests worship in the garbagriha. Initiated non-
adisaiva brahmans worship in the entry passage (antarala). Common
brahmans reciting the Vedas worship in the fore pavillion
(ardhamandapa). Sacrificers, ascetics and renouncers worship[ in the
main pavillion (mukhamandapa). Kings and vaishyas worship in the
door pavillion (dvaramandapa). Sudras who have received the common
initiation woeship in the dance pavillion. And inititiates of other
castes should worship at the gopura.

Ramakantha says:

"The worship performed in the sanctum by adisaiva brahmins employs
the Saiva agamas and their disctinctive Saiva mantras as primary
text. Common Brahmans reciting the Vedas and their Vedic mantras
are stationed further out from the center, in the fore-pavilion.
Good sudras are authorized to recite the Tamil hymns (dravidastotra)
in the great pavilion.

The Kamikagama says :

"A pious adisaiva, best among Brahmans does worship regularly, but
if others should perform this worship other than for their own
behalf alone, the worshippers will be destroyed."

In "Sudras in Ancient India" by RS Sharma, I read that in the
Jaiminya Brahmana, the sudra is said to be created from the feet of
Prajapati without any god, therefore the lords of his house are his
gods and he is to earn his living by washing their feet:

"sudro anustupchanda vesmapatidevas; tasmad u padavanejyenaiva
jijivisati" (Jai. Br. 1, 68-69).

If the Vedic texts themselves contain these types of interpretations
of the Sudra paedogenesis, all the medieval and modern apologetics
about the glory of the feet seem rather silly!

Vikram



[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited August 03, 2005).]

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#856 - August 03, 2005 02:32 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
I have always held that the jaati system was always there, a mark of
an advanced and sophisticated society where dozens of different
occupational groups interacted for mutual support and benefits,
always in concord and in mutual respect. There is nothing for Hindus
to be ashamed of the jaati system in the past. Of course today it
crumbles.

The manu varna system was later; it tried to simplify and impose a
hierarchy. That failed, but it did not stop some from inserting
passages into the vedas and subsequently almost all smirthis. This is
what I think happened.

I have been rereading the entire rig in the last few months and it
strikes me as the seers' expression of the love of god, description
of the gods, and the range of emotions they felt and the oneness of
the gods, men and the world. Nothing strikes me as out of sync except
the PurusaShukta. Linguists tell as that the last eight lines are
probaly later additions. The language and culture is different.

Then the Jaiminya Brahmana (Jai. Br. 1, 68-69) also probably an addition. What is this verse doing in the brahmana
section of the sama veda; it is out of sync! There are probably two
or three other such verses in the brahmanas, all accretions.

Anyway,the real ground situation was that brahmanas depended on the
common people for their living. This was a simply fact in the past
milleniums. I dont recall non brahmanas working for brahmanas. But I
see clearly brahmanas engaged by non brahmanas for priestly work!
Work for a fee mind you. Money only flowed one way.

The very fact that there was no ethnic cleansing is fact of that too.
Reverence for priestly work should not be misconstrued for anything
else. The reverance may have been taken for granted and led to
arrogance, leading to such verses.

But condescending verses like these are also indicative that the
brahmanas may have feared that there was a posibility they may lose
their positions. When one fears or envies, one insults and criticises
the other.

Anyway these verses are there for all to see the arrogance of the
brahmanas of those times. Its an insult to them, not to the lay
Hindus. Or it is just me who sees this? Its clearly indicative that
they may have lost the moral right to do pujas.

All the smirthis are tainted with accretions. Take the Mahabharata
and the BG which is full of additions, probably 80% and mostly
written in the last one millenium only. The BG of today is a fake
document and has nothing to do with Vyasa. Hindus hate to hear this,
but its about time we started talking frankly.


> Start with the Bhagavad Gita--Krishna says he created the four
> varnas.


Shastrically there are the Agamists and the Vedists. The smartha
brahmins are the vedists and the MS is part of their scripture, their
guild rules that they follow and their rituals. The intihasas and
puranas are also part of their scriptures.

The Agamists are the saivas, vaishnavas and shaktas, who hold their
respective agamas equal to and above the vedas. There is no varna
system in the agamas. All the rituals for the their priesthood called
the adi-brahmins (sivacharyas or kurukkals or gurukkals), iyangars or
battacharyas, are here in the respective agamas, and they need look
no further. Certainly not the MS. No mention of any jaati rules for
the rest of the people, except the daily home and temple kriyas - the
religious obligations.

The smirthis have no standing for Agamists and it has nothing to do
with their religion. Vaishnavas, please hear this.(this is part of
the vadagalai/tengalai problem too). Or at least this is how it was
supposed to be. As an aside, vaishnavas should know that Brahma and
Vishnu are mentioned in the Periapuranam, but there is little or no
mention of Rama and Krishna of the epics. I have always wondered why.

It is here in the agamas that the garbha divide is found; that the
smartha brahmin, popularly called the Iyer, may not enter the temple
to do pujas. He may however, prepare the prasadam, and that too after
he has taken the siva-diksha. Meaning, he has to renounce his vedic-
smartha ties inorder to prepare the prasadam only. No way he can do
the puja.

However due to a shortage of adi-brahmins, iyer priests are regularly
employed in all temples in the villages, except in the main large
temples where they are allowed to conduct homas in the temple but not
pujas.

The point of this is that the Agamists have no varna system at all.
(at least in theory).

So summarise, the Agamas have the jaati system, and the Vedists have
the varna system, together with the concomitant guna not janma
apologetics. But even then, even here in the MS there have been later
additions.

(In case Hindus dont know whether they are agamists or vedists, the
simple rule is this; if you go to a temple or maintain a home altar -
you are an agamist, and, if you only worship by conducting a homa -
you are a vedist.)

Now those saivas (like the misinformed dikshitars) and vaishnavas who
are now claiming varna status and MS, are really clamoring for the
caste hierarchy in the last century, as they dont want to be left
out. We have to reeducate them that they have no varna system. They
should only use the term sivacharyas and iyengars and should not use
the lesser term brahmins.

Additionally, and understandably, the vaishnavas have a great
affinity for the smirthis, expecially the ramayana and mahabharata
and the SB as the word of god. Thats because these texts deal with
their gods exaltedly even though it may be incongruent with the
pancharatra.

I have solved this problem in my mind by delinking the Lord Rama with
Prince Rama of Ayodhya, by delinking Lord Krishna with King Krishna
of Dwaraka. To me these Lords are not the same as the personages of
the same name in these itihasas. To me the Lords are a reality but
these texts are a myth.


> In the Sri Vaishnava tradition, ascetics (sanyasis),wear the sacred
> thread, carry the tridanda and keep the hair-tuft.


I didn't know. Why would they do this? Sannyasins are supposed to
renounce everything, including their thread, name and parents.

> Ramanuja said something to the effect that if one were to accept
> advaita's non-difference, there would be no scope for varnashrama
> dharma!

Most of his later life, Ramanuja grovelled (sorry!) for acceptance by
the sanskritists. For this reason in all his works he could not
muster the courage to quote one line from the Divya Prabantham which
he acclaimed as the tamil veda.

> Madhva, commenting on the Satyakama Jabala episode in the
> Upanishads, said that Brahamana's thoughts are pure; a Sudra's
> crooked. Therefore Satyakama was accepted as a Brahmana.


Thats what madhava said. I wonder why he said that. This Satyakama
dialogue tries to emphasize that birth is no criteria, but personal
integrity.

Of what use is the chandogya upanishad other than to learn that
honesty is the guiding principle. I dont think it was meant to
disawow non brahmana jaatis from diksha. What can we say then of
Vyasa and all the rest who are of non brahmana jaatis?

> In classical Saivism, a priest could only come from one of the five
> adisaiva lineages.

Some of these lineages have reformed and are accepting non brahmin
priests.


Many medieval Shaiva authors--Ramakantha and
> Samakantha, for example--accept caste hierarchy and set sacred
> boundaries within the temple for different castes. And they too
> allowed the Vedas for brahmins (though they are a notch below the
> Sivagamas in importance) and Tamil texts for non-brahmins.


I do know of the garbha divide and its probably this divide that made
the sivacharyas accomodate the smarthas by allowing them to perform
vedic yaagams in the temple but no entry into the mulasthana.

Regards.

Pathma

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#857 - August 06, 2005 12:15 AM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
lreaves7 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: August 06, 2005
Posts: 1
Loc: New Jersey, USA
I think this caste system of apartheid is heinous and a real blight on any moral authority that the nation of India might otherwise express. Also, seems to me that after the long time frame of British Colonial presence, India is deeply marred by the self-hating ideally of "white-worship". This seems very pitiful to me and rather shameful, from a nation that is largely "colored".
Quote:
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Webmaster:
Today, people think that the rigid caste system operated in India is the result of ancient requirements of religion. But just how
much of this rigidity was due to their religion? Or how much was it due to a conscious direction by the British to create artificial
divisions in order to make it easier to divide and rule the sub-continent and its people?

http://www.britishempire.co.uk/

Go to Articles

Scroll down to The Indian Caste System and the British

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#858 - August 06, 2005 04:38 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Welcome to the forum Ireaves7. Fortunately many groups of Hindus are working to overcome this self-hate (caste). Some of the suggestions put forward are as follows:

1. that temple entry be open to all, of any race, including tourists,

2. that veda padasalas be open to all Hindus, regardless of race, caste or
gender,

3. that brahmopadesam (the sacred thread) and diksha be available to all Hindus, regardless of race, caste or gender,

4. that Hindu women of all races and caste be entitled to be priests in any temple,

5. that Hindu renunciates of any race or caste be entitled to entry into Indian
monasteries of their choice, and that separate nunneries be made available for
women renunciates,

6. that non Hindus be welcomed to enter the Hindu religion by way of a
conversion ceremony.


I feel that the time is coming for Hindus to make one of three decisions;

1. to reform as suggested above, or

2. to do away with the Hindu priesthood completely and make Hinduism a priest-free religion, and in the process make it caste-free (the temples remain, but every Hindu does his own simple abishegam, garland the diety and shows aarathi, all this without the presence of any priests), or,

3. every sect or sampradaya go their way, and dispense with the generic term
'Hinduism'. (do away with the Hindu joint sect-family system since it has been
almost always an acrimonious relationship).

Any views?

Regards.

Pathma

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#859 - August 09, 2005 01:33 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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a record of recent discussions in navyashastra.


"vikram_masson"
Sun Jul 31, 2005  1:57 am

Pathma,
QUOTE
> However early writers simply imposed the varna system on all Hindus and all of us were misled and confused for a hundred years. Now all of us are
caught up in this mass confusion, not realising varna is not there.

Unfortunately the vaishnava aiyangars and bhattacharyas have adopted the varna system with gusto in the last century, not wanting to be left out in the rankings. We have to educate and remind them that they have no varna.
END OF QUOTE

I don't think varnashrama dharma was secretly imported into
Vaishnavism in the last century. Certainly some Vaishnava's uphold
varnashrama, and it didn't start 100 years ago?!

Start with the Bhagavad Gita--Krishna says he created the four
varnas.

In the Sri Vaishnava tradition, ascetics (sanyasis),wear the sacred
thread, carry the tridanda and keep the hair-tuft. Non-brahmana
ascetics are known as ekangis, and they--you probably guessed--do
not wear the sacred thread. This was initiated by Ramanuja.

Ramanuja said something to the effect that if one were to accept
advaita's non-difference, there would be no scope for varnashrama
dharma! (Of course advaita panditas justify varnashrama on the basis
of the vyavahara/paramarthika disctinction.)

Madhva, commenting on the Satyakama Jabala episode in the
Upanishads, said that Brahamana's thoughts are pure; a Sudra's
crooked. Therefore Satyakama was accepted as a Brahmana.

In classical Saivism, a priest could only come from one of the five
adisaiva lineages. Many medieval Shaiva authors--Ramakantha and
Samakantha, for example--accept caste hierarchy and set sacred
boundaries within the temple for different castes. And they too
allowed the Vedas for brahmins (though they are a notch below the
Sivagamas in importance) and Tamil texts for non-brahmins.

On an unrelated note:

In "Sudras in Ancient India" by RS Sharma, I read that in the
Jaiminya Brahmana, the sudra is said to be created from the feet of
Prajapati without any god, therefore the lords of his house are his
gods and he is to earn his living by washing their feet:

"sudro anustupchanda vesmapatidevas; tasmad u padavanejyenaiva
jijivisati" (Jai. Br. 1, 68-69).

If the Vedic texts themselves contain these types of interpretations
of the Sudra paedogenesis, all the medieval and modern apologetics
about the glory of the feet seem rather silly!

Vikram

"Pathmarajah Nagalingam"
Date: Mon Aug 1, 2005  7:09 pm
Subject: Re: Varnashrama in Hinduism


Hi Vikram,

I'm glad you posted this, and I'm glad we can discuss these things without being squemish, apologetic or afraid to hurt the sentiments of Hindus. Some of the things you said is new to me, some not.

I have always held that the jaati system was always there, a mark of an advanced and sophisticated society where dozens of different occupational groups interacted for mutual support and benefits,
always in concord and in mutual respect. There is nothing for Hindus to be ashamed of the jaati system in the past. Of course today it crumbles.

The manu varna system was later; it tried to simplify and impose a hierarchy. That failed, but it did not stop some from inserting passages into the vedas and subsequently almost all smirthis. This is
what I think happened.

I have been rereading the entire rig in the last few months and it strikes me as the seers' expression of the love of god, description of the gods, and the range of emotions they felt and the oneness of
the gods, men and the world. Nothing strikes me as out of sync except the PurusaShukta. Linguists tell as that the last eight lines are probably later additions. The language and culture is different.

Then the Jaiminya Brahmana (Jai. Br. 1, 68-69) that you quoted is also probably an addition. What is this verse doing in the brahmana section of the sama veda; it is out of sync! There are probably two
or three other such verses in the brahmanas, all accretions.

Anyway,the real ground situation was that brahmanas depended on the common people for their living. This was a simply fact in the past
milleniums. I dont recall non brahmanas working for brahmanas. But I see clearly brahmanas engaged by non brahmanas for priestly work! Work for a fee mind you. Money only flowed one way.

The very fact that there was no ethnic cleansing is fact of that too. Reverence for priestly work should not be misconstrued for anything else. The reverance may have been taken for granted and led to arrogance, leading to such verses.

But condescending verses like these are also indicative that the brahmanas may have feared that there was a posibility they may lose their positions. When one fears or envies, one insults and criticises
the other.

Anyway these verses are there for all to see the arrogance of the brahmanas of those times. Its an insult to them, not to the lay Hindus. Or it is just me who sees this? Its clearly indicative that they may have lost the moral right to do pujas.

All the smirthis are tainted with accretions. Take the Mahabharata and the BG which is full of additions, probably 80% and mostly written in the last one millenium only. The BG of today is a fake
document and has nothing to do with Vyasa. Hindus hate to hear this, but its about time we started talking frankly.


> I don't think varnashrama dharma was secretly imported into
> Vaishnavism in the last century. Certainly some Vaishnava's uphold
> varnashrama, and it didn't start 100 years ago?!
>
> Start with the Bhagavad Gita--Krishna says he created the four
> varnas.


Shastrically there are the Agamists and the Vedists. The smartha brahmins are the vedists and the MS is part of their scripture, their guild rules that they follow and their rituals. The intihasas and
puranas are also part of their scriptures.

The Agamists are the saivas, vaishnavas and shaktas, who hold their respective agamas equal to and above the vedas. There is no varna system in the agamas. All the rituals for the their priesthood called the adi-brahmins (sivacharyas or kurukkals or gurukkals), iyangars or battacharyas, are here in the respective agamas, and they need look
no further. Certainly not the MS. No mention of any jaati rules for the rest of the people, except the daily home and temple kriyas - the religious obligations.

The smirthis have no standing for Agamists and it has nothing to do with their religion. Vaishnavas, please hear this.(this is part of the vadagalai/tengalai problem too). Or at least this is how it was supposed to be. As an aside, vaishnavas should know that Brahma and Vishnu are mentioned in the Periapuranam, but there is little or no
mention of Rama and Krishna of the epics. I have always wondered why.

It is here in the agamas that the garbha divide is found; that the smartha brahmin, popularly called the Iyer, may not enter the temple to do pujas. He may however, prepare the prasadam, and that too after he has taken the siva-diksha. Meaning, he has to renounce his vedic- smartha ties inorder to prepare the prasadam only. No way he can do
the puja.

However due to a shortage of adi-brahmins, iyer priests are regularly employed in all temples in the villages, except in the main large temples where they are allowed to conduct homas in the temple but not pujas.

The point of this is that the Agamists have no varna system at all. (at least in theory).

To summarise, the Agamas have the jaati system, and the Vedists have the varna system, together with the concomitant guna not janma apologetics. But even then, even here in the MS there have been later additions.

(In case Hindus dont know whether they are agamists or vedists, the simple rule is this; if you go to a temple or maintain a home altar -
you are an agamist, and, if you only worship by conducting a homa - you are a vedist.)

Perhaps, its time to remove the lid, the 'cover generic term' called 'Hinduism', to see the actual situation.

Now those saivas (like the misinformed dikshitars) and vaishnavas who are now claiming varna status and MS, are really clamoring for the caste hierarchy in the last century, as they dont want to be left
out. We have to reeducate them that they have no varna system. They should only use the term sivacharyas and iyengars and should not use the lesser term brahmins.

Additionally, and understandably, the vaishnavas have a great affinity for the smirthis, expecially the ramayana and mahabharata and the SB as the word of god. Thats because these texts deal with their gods exaltedly even though it may be incongruent with the pancharatra.

I have solved this problem in my mind by delinking the Lord Rama with Prince Rama of Ayodhya, by delinking Lord Krishna with King Krishna of Dwaraka. To me these Lords are not the same as the personages of the same name in these itihasas. To me the Lords are a reality but these texts are a myth.


> In the Sri Vaishnava tradition, ascetics (sanyasis),wear the sacred
> thread, carry the tridanda and keep the hair-tuft.


I didn't know. Why would they do this? Sannyasins are supposed to renounce everything, including their thread, name and parents.

> Ramanuja said something to the effect that if one were to accept
> advaita's non-difference, there would be no scope for varnashrama
> dharma!

Most of his later life, Ramanuja grovelled (sorry!) for acceptance by the sanskritists. For this reason in all his works he could not muster the courage to quote one line from the Divya Prabantham which
he acclaimed as the tamil veda.

> Madhva, commenting on the Satyakama Jabala episode in the
> Upanishads, said that Brahamana's thoughts are pure; a Sudra's
> crooked. Therefore Satyakama was accepted as a Brahmana.


Thats what madhava said. I wonder why he said that. This Satyakama dialogue tries to emphasize that birth is no criteria, but personal integrity.

Of what use is the chandogya upanishad other than to learn that honesty is the guiding principle. I dont think it was meant to disawow non brahmana jaatis from diksha. What can we say then of Vyasa and all the rest who are of non brahmana jaatis?

> In classical Saivism, a priest could only come from one of the five
> adisaiva lineages.

Some of these lineages have reformed and are accepting non brahmin priests.


Many medieval Shaiva authors--Ramakantha and
> Samakantha, for example--accept caste hierarchy and set sacred
> boundaries within the temple for different castes. And they too
> allowed the Vedas for brahmins (though they are a notch below the
> Sivagamas in importance) and Tamil texts for non-brahmins.


I did not know this; never heard of Ramankantha and Samankantha. But I do know of the garbha divide and its probably this divide that made the sivacharyas accomodate the smarthas by allowing them to perform vedic yaagams in the temple but no entry into the mulasthana.

Pathma

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#860 - August 09, 2005 02:05 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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From: "Rathna Bhattar" <rathna@...>
Date: Tue Aug 9, 2005  10:46 am
Subject: Purusha Sooktham
Rajarathinam Bhattar
Priest Emeritus
Meenakshi Temp[le Houston
in navyashastra


Dear Friends, Purusha Sooktham very important in the Temple. Purusha Sooktham gives no respect to caste.

PURUSHA SUKTAM

Purusha Suktam cannot be distinguished as Saivam or Vaishnavam. In the Siva agamas it is directed that all Pancha Suktams (Rudra Suktam, Durga Suktam, Sri Suktam, Purusha Suktam and Bhu Suktam) should be chanted.

Moreover, Purusha Suktam does not minimize the role of any person. Some commentators have introduced their own (incorrect) views.

The Lord creates all people as equal, and there is no 'caste' higher or lower.

Ancient Tamil writings referred to 'Anthanar', 'Arasar', 'Vanikar', and 'VellAlar'. The following line is from the 12th Thirumurai EyarkOn KalikkAma NayanAr PurAnam:

"NAlAm kulathil perugunalam
UdayAr vAzhum Gnyayitrin
MelAm kollgai VelANmai
Mikkathiru gnAyiru kizhavar"

'Kizhavar' is a special honorific term for 'VellAlar'.

Let us refer to the Purusha Suktam where it says in its concluding verses:

'Braahmanosya mukhamaasit
Baahu raajanyah kritah
Ooru tadasya yadvaisyah
Padbhiyaangum sudro ajaayat'

'Ajaayat' refers to the 'Unborn', the Supreme Person.

The Brahmana would represent the head or the power of thought and discrimination of the Supreme Person, the Kshatriya would represent the arms
or the power of protection and preservation of the Supreme Person, the Vaishya would represent the thighs or the power of acquisition and distribution of the Supreme Person, and the Sudra would represent the feet or the power of support and movement of the supreme Person.

Our ancestors have always praised the lord's lotus feet. How can anyone created from those praiseworthy Feet be inferior?

The true meaning is that man is born innocent and becomes distinguished by his own learning and character.

In the Bhagavad-Gita, chapter 4, 13th verse, Sri Krishna says:

'Chaturvarnyam maya srishtum guna karma vibhaagasah', meaning, 'The four orders of society were created by Me, on the basis of character and work'.

A Brahmin's work is to be learned in the Veda's and the scriptures and to teach and help people realize God. A Kshatirya's special duty is to be strong and brave and protect the society. A Vaishya's special duty is to excel in commerce, and a Sudra's special dharma is service. Without these the world cannot go on.

The true meaning of Purusha Suktam, (that man is born innocent and becomes distinguished by his own learning and character), has to be understood.

Incorrect interpretations and translations have been offered. One must not get influenced by them and turn away from Purusha Suktam. I urge everyone to learn the true meaning and teachings of Purusha Suktam and spread the truth.

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#861 - August 28, 2005 01:45 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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a recent discussion.

> Here he talks about the traditions of brahmanas.
>
> 3. Vaishigan peruvana:
> Vaishigan perume vanibha valzkai
>
> Here he talks about the traditions of vaishyas.
>

True. There are also refernces to how Kings must conduct themselves.

But there is no evidence that these were specifically related to
Varnashrama. There is no mention of Varnas. Especially there is no
mention of Shudras in any texts. And there is no mention of dwija-
hood for kings or soldiers or traders. In the Indistar article
quoted Karthik does not give any of the original verses.

>
> In Tamil Nadu there were Kshatriyas like Thevars,
> Kallars, Maravars, Vanniyars, Muthu Rajas, and
> Koundars etc. Many of the Chola and Pandiya kings were
> Thevars and Maravars. The Chettiars (Nattukottai) and
> others Chettiars, Mudaliars were the Vaisyas. The word
> "Mudaliar" means person with capital. We must also
> remember that puranas were later written materials. So
> Parasurama killing all Kshatriyas is a kind of writing
> to be taken with salt.
>

The kings were all Vellalas - agriculturalists. True, that Vellalas
have spawned these other castes like Maravar, Kallar etc over time.
But no one was considered a dwija except the brahmins. Why dont we
ask the Kanchi seer for clarification on this ?

Sugrutha

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#862 - August 31, 2005 06:01 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
> Note also that anti-upper caste movements started in the 19th
> century, coinciding with the presence of the British and the
> precepts of the Enlightenment. IS it possible that Hindus ACCEPTED
> their lot before then?


I having been thinking about this for sometime. Certainly the
Hindus did not accept their lot under a varna system before or after
the advent of the British.

The question could be reworded this way: "How was it there was
harmony and working together of the Hindus before the advent of the
British?"

Before the british, hardly anyone knew of the manu shastras. Most
Hindus did not study sanskrit or the shastras were not open to them.
Parts of the MS were only taught in the vedapadasalas, and even then
only the philosophy and ritual part of it to most of the students.
Few students were taught the barbaric jurisprudence part of it, I
think. Probably only a few scholars, the heads of the padasalas and
some acharyas in the monasteries were fluent with the whole of the
MS. Even then, correctly, they kept it to themselves in muted
discussions. Most brahmins only knew part of the MS, and even then
they only discussed it with themselves.

(It was perhaps the existence of the MS that a tradition came to pass
that non brahmins may not study sanskrit, and in the process the
whole of the shruti was lost to the Hindu populace. They were not
protecting their vocation or knowledge of the shruti but the
existence and knowledge of what the MS says. Makes sense.)

The vast majority of the Hindus were ignorant of the existence of the
text. It had no part in their lives. All jaati disputes were settled
in the panchayats. The panchayat laws were the only enforced Hindu
laws and no other.

The Hindus did not know of the existence of the 'varna system'!
Therefore the peace and harmony.

All the references in the bakti literature and even in most smirthis
were taken to be jaati references, NOT varna references of the MS
varna system. Who cared for the brahmin upanayana when all could
receive the diksha from a priest of a passing swami, and did.

Then the british scholars dug out the 'forgotten' MS, translated it
and enforced the family law therein, now touted as THE Hindu law. The
british census then started awarding rankings which started the
acrimony. The Hindus now read the MS and were enraged, that this was
the seldom mentioned but deep rooted convictions of the brahmins, the
very people whom they took care of and revered as the people of the
temple. Such a slap in the face.

Here then started the anti caste/varna cold war in the last 200
years.

When I first read the MS, I was horrified and declared that 'this was
not my religion. This is a barbaric religion. These are not our
revered priests and they have nothing to do with our temples. Such
barbarians should be kept away.

When I read the smirthis and puranas too I had the knowing that 'this
cant be what our Lord said'. This was not what we were taught in our
samaya paadam (religious) classes, and what we sung in the temples
and what our parents and elders taught us! This just can't be right.
Certainly no God was dancing naked in the forest to entice the wives
of the rishis! What nonsense! Certainly no god had so many wives,
etc!

Our view of our religion was different, and what the smirthis teach
was different. Certainly the religion of the MS, smirthis and puranas
is not our Hindu religion. Any minute now, I expect a demented rishi
to jump out of the forest and exclaim, 'ta daa, fooled ya!'

I went back to our old folks on this issue, and in short it is clear
that even a mention of such a varna system in the past would have
been a death wish. The brahmins knew too. (Of course Hindus by their
nature would not describe it as such or in so many words, either in
the past or now. But I would.)

We changed dynasties for trivial matters. If Hindus could overthrow
and behead kings, anything else is a small matter. We revolted
against other religions, forced the kings to reconvert back and
banish these other religions and their followers if they were not put
to death, and demolished many of their temples too. We even laid
waste to sanskrit as a living language. The shad dharsanas were
trashed, Jaimimi rishi or not. Vedanta was qualified by siddhanta and
not given a free run, Vyasa or not. Vedanta mind you! We forced the
purva mimamsists to kneel, and come do their fire rituals only in the
temple and comply with the agamas, whether its their shastras or not.
Till today it is not their shastra, yet they comply!

We did all that, and may I say not in a shy way, we did it our way
and that we could have done more, IF it was necessary. But it was
not!

So this explains why there were no ethnic cleansing, and why there
was always only peace and harmony among all jaatis of Hindus till
1800.

I think we are getting a clearer picture of what happened in the
past.

Today the Hindus are taking back control of the religion. The
nationalised temples are to be handed back to the people. The people
may not want the priesthood anymore. Certain ashrams will be asked to
close down or it will be denounced and boycotted. Seers can be put in
jail. All options are on the table. Apologists and other such
detractors and non-compliers will be asked to undertake an indefinate
mauna vrata.

Regards.

Pathma

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#863 - September 04, 2005 03:09 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
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"Each jati, as a microcosm of the larger society, has within it specialized
professions that correspond to warrior, priest, trader, and worker."

"Arthur Maurice Hocart (1884-1939) who argued that at the village level the
cultivator is analogous to the king and that there exists an ordering of the castes where “priest, washerman and drummer are all treated alike, for they are all priests."

"Although there was a complex social system in India before the British, the caste system took on new meaning when the British established laws to codify it.

"Imagining India to be a hierarchical society, the British used laws to make it
more hierarchical."

"In my own essays in Mankind Quarterly (1993) and the Annals of the Bhandarkar
Oriental Research Institute (1996), I have argued that......Hocart was right to
emphasize the primacy of the cultivator. The anthropologist Ronald Inden
identified caste as one of four major essences constructed by westerners in
order to control India by denying it a history of its own."

"The clearest exposition of the history of caste is the highly regarded Castes of Mind of Nicholas Dirks (2001) who explains how the British construction of caste changed social equations in India and that it is not “traditional” social reality but rather a modern phenomenon that has emerged out of the colonial encounter."

"G S Ghurye, who wrote a well known book with a telling title, The Aborigines -
So-Called - And Their Future (1934). He argued at length with wealth of evidence to show that the so-called aborigines were backward Hindus and not a separate category of people in India."

"Nicholas Dirks (2001) who explains how the British construction of caste changed social equations in India and that it is not “traditional” social reality but rather a modern phenomenon"


And one for the apologists:

"Of late it has become politically correct to claim that whereas varna is not by birth, it is determined by one's qualities. This view is wrong since it takes
varnahood to be fixed."

The Colours of Mind (excerpts only due to fair use notice)

Subhash Kak
Sulekha.com
Saturday, August 27, 2005

The old and the unfamiliar is often incorrectly interpreted by writers. For
example, European writers a hundred years ago, latching on to a children's story
in the Puranas, declared that Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are Gods of Creation,
Preservation, and Destruction, respectively. Indians who learn about Hinduism from secondary sources and school texts have internalized this “meaning”, no matter how stupid it is to believe that people in the past, any more than people now, would want to worship God of Destruction. It is somewhat like being taught in a serious book that Santa Claus visits Earth from the North Pole on Christmas day.

Another Indian idea that is badly misunderstood is that of varna. Newspapers and magazines discuss it endlessly, reporting on grievances related to the
under-representation of one “caste” or the other at some job and demands of
the politicians for quotas to correct the imbalance. Intellectuals claim that
the root cause of all ills is the varna system.

....

It is common to conflate varna with jati (community). This confusion may be
traced all the way to the first use of the term “caste” by the Portuguese,for whom casta was a word that was meant to describe the jatis, but slowly it came to have a much broader connotation. Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador to India about 2,300 years ago, noted the existence of seven classes, namely
that of philosophers, peasants, herdsmen, craftsmen and traders, soldiers,
government officials and councilors. These classes were apparently jatis. Nowhere does Megasthenes speak of four varnas.

Medieval texts in India do sometimes speak of jatis dedicated to the values of
one varna or another, but lineage is never taken to guarantee character. Of late
it has become politically correct to claim that whereas varna is not by birth,
it is determined by one's qualities. This view is wrong since it takes varnahood
to be fixed.

Each jati, as a microcosm of the larger society, has within it specialized
professions that correspond to warrior, priest, trader, and worker.


Caste and Empire

Scholars now believe that public preoccupation with caste goes back to the
beginning of the British Empire in India. Charles Grant (1746-1823), East India
Company chairman, highlighted caste as the cause of India's ills and obstacle in the spread of Christianity. Grant made an immense fortune in Bengal and returning home in 1790, he entered parliament in 1802, becoming member of the Court of Directors and eventually chairman in 1805.

Grant was an influential member of the Clapham sect, a reform and evangelical
group, which included celebrities like Zachary Macaulay (the father of Thomas
Macaulay), Henry Thornton, Henry and John Venn, James Stephen and William
Wilberforce. In 1792, he wrote a pamphlet entitled Observations on the State of
Society among the Asiatic Subjects of Great Britain in which he portrayed Indian
society as not only heathen, but also immoral, corrupt, licentious, depraved,
lascivious and wicked. .....

James Mill's History of British India, which appeared in 1826, promoted the ideas of Charles Grant. Carter's and Mill's views slowly became the official view of the Indian government, although they were repackaged in a manner which underplayed the matter of conversion. Once internalized, they were used by Indian politicians and scholars in a variety of ways to further their goals.

“Tribe” was another anthropological category used by the British to further their goals. Writing in Economic and Political Weekly in 2003, the distinguished Indian sociologist A.M. Shah had this to say about this usage: Division of the people of Gujarat, as in the rest of India, into Hindus consisting of many castes on the one hand and aborigines or tribals on the other is a creation of the
British colonial administration, influenced by the evolutionist and diffusionist
theories of 18th and 19th centuries anthropology in Britain. The British thought the tribes in India were similar to primitive tribes they had known in Africa, Australia, the Pacific islands, and many other parts of the world. The colonial view was also articulated by certain anthropologists in India, the most well known among whom was Verrier Elvin. The British prepared lists of tribes in the territories under their jurisdiction and took special administrative measures to deal with their problems. The nomenclature 'tribe' was later built into the Constitution of independent India under the denomination of 'scheduled tribe', and the lists of tribes prepared by the British were more or less accepted by the new
government. Some Indian intellectuals had reacted against this division of Indian people during the time of British rule itself. The foremost among them was the doyen of Indian sociology, G S Ghurye, who wrote a well known book with a telling title, The Aborigines - So-Called - And Their Future (1934). He argued at length with wealth of evidence to show that the so-called aborigines were backward Hindus and not a separate category of people in India. Most of them lived in hilly and forest areas and their technology and economy were poor, but they were basically Hindu in religion, he thought. The British view, however,
prevailed throughout their regime.

The terms 'adivasi', 'adimjati' and 'janjati' now used in Indian languages are
not originally Indian. They are translations of English terms introduced by the British and we may continue to use them since they have now been in use for nearly 200 years… [It] is noteworthy that neither at the elite nor at the popular level any generic social category was used in the earlier times to refer to the groups we now call tribal.

The simplistic view of Grant and Mill was challenged by Arthur Maurice Hocart
(1884-1939) who argued that at the village level the cultivator is analogous to
the king and that there exists an ordering of the castes where “priest, washerman and drummer are all treated alike, for they are all priests.” Hocart's work, based on careful research in Sri Lanka where he had served as headmaster for several years, was not well received by contemporaneous British
anthropologists.

Bernard Cohn (1928-2003) provided a fresh perspective on the caste system by
showing that the British approach to caste was a part of their enterprise to control knowledge. Although there was a complex social system in India before the British, the caste system took on new meaning when the British established laws to codify it. Imagining India to be a hierarchical society, the British used laws to make it more hierarchical. According to Cohn: “[The British] reduced vastly complex codes and their associated meanings to a few metonyms
… India was redefined by the British to be a place of rules and orders; once the British had defined to their own satisfaction what they construed as Indian rules and customs, then Indians had to conform to these constructions.”

......

In my own essays in Mankind Quarterly (1993) and the Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (1996), I have argued that the reality is much more complex than a simplistic focus on purity and that Hocart was right to emphasize the primacy of the cultivator. The anthropologist Ronald Inden
identified caste as one of four major essences constructed by westerners in order to control India by denying it a history of its own.

The clearest exposition of the history of caste is the highly regarded Castes of
Mind of Nicholas Dirks (2001) who explains how the British construction of caste
changed social equations in India and that it is not “traditional” social reality but
rather a modern phenomenon that has emerged out of the colonial encounter.

Dirks shows how missionaries projected caste as an impediment to conversion...... and how the Indian census constructed caste and religion as pre-eminent social identities. .....Caste was also viewed as the consequence of early interaction between advanced and primitive human populations that could only be understood by seeing it through an anthropological lens.

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#864 - September 12, 2005 12:53 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Traditionally Hindus did classify or rank their jaatis, but only in two broad categories; uyarntha (upper, loftier or elevated) and talaintha (lower or
fallen) jaatis. At least this was how it was in the south. There was NO OTHER classification.

Most of the jaatis were uyarntha and acceptable to the rest of the society for fraternising. Only a few were talaintha jaatis, probably 1 or 2%. These few
included tribals.

I venture to understand the reasons why some were classified as talaintha:

1. their cultural lifestyles left much to be desired. They consumed beef and pork which was not acceptable to the masses, and temple entry was denied. They were uncouth, immoral, lacking social etiquette, shameless and observed little of traditional Hindu culture, observances and restraints.

2. they were fearsome (like the tribals), or indulged in crime.


It was for these reasons that the talaintha jaatis were ostracised from Hindu society. In other words, by their own actions they were non Hindus, not
'civilised'.

From history we know that vocation was NOT a reason they were classified as talaintha, though this later came to be another reason. Eg. the fishermen community which was very negligible originally but later the talaintha or fallen classes had to resort to this vocation to survive, and so along with them, the vocation too acquired a fallen note. (All along in history India was never a fishing
nation and therefore not a seafaring one too.)

Fallen warriors - those who surrendered or brought shame were later lumped in this class. These included those who crossed over to the enemy or joined the muslim or european invaders, or cooperated with them. (There were many such
traitors and doublecrossers without whom the invasions of India would not have been possible).

Also included were the criminals and shameless women whom the panchayats banned or exiled from society.

Later in the 18th century almost the entire industrial class of artisans as well as agriculturalists who became jobless and landless peasants due to the british instigated economic upheavals and famines, and who had to resort to thankless jobs, begging and even theivery were also included in this class.

In this group also came to be included the various classes of people who worked in the palaces of the fallen maharajas, now without a job and livelihood, their services no longer required.

By the 20th century, the uyarntha jaatis came to be only those who worked directly or indirectly in the temples or on the land - koyillum mannum, meaning temple and soil.

Regards.

Pathma

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#865 - October 03, 2005 12:19 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
webmaster Offline
Member

Registered: February 07, 2010
Posts: 1030
Loc: KL
excerpts of Sandhya Jain in Organiser


....

Caste, the Portuguese name for the Hindu jati and gotra, is simply the organizing principle of ancient Indian society. It was the means by which diverse groups in society were integrated and mutual conflicts resolved, on the matrix of an evolving dharma. Both caste and dharma emphasized heredity because ancestry (gotra) was imperative as the spirits of the ancestors had to be invoked in all social sacraments (samskara) to establish the individualís worthiness to receive the sacrament.
 
Though apparently restrictive, all groups accepted the heredity principle and ìcreatedî ancestries and fabled origins as they progressed in life. The Mundas of Chotanagpur, who were originally organized into exogamous septs called Kilis, changed their Kilis into Gotras. Thus Sandi Kili became Sandil Gotra and Nom Tuti Kili evolved into Bhoj-Raj-Gotra. The Koch tribes of Assam metamorphosed into Bhanga-Kshatriya or Rajbansi, and claimed affinity with Rajputs.
 
Caste or jati is rooted in the tribal concept of gotra. Sociologists have traced the origins of the Barabhum royal family in eastern India to the Bhumij of the ancient Gulgu clan. The early forts of the Barabhum rajas were at Pabanpur (near Bhula, burial ground of the clan) and Bhuni, where the royal (tribal) goddess Koteshwari had her sacred grove. But when the Bhumij chiefs claimed Rajput status, they shed their tribal affiliations by renouncing the clan ossuary at Bhula. A similar process was discerned among the tribal Bhumij of Baghmundi and the Manbhum Bhumij. The Bhumij are organized in patrilineal exogamous clans (gotras) affiliated to ancestral villages where the clan ossuaries are located. Gotra is thus the organizing principle of tribal societies and the key constituent of Hindu social identity.

....

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#866 - October 29, 2005 03:18 PM Re: Caste, Varna and Jati
Pathmarajah Offline
Member

Registered: July 22, 2004
Posts: 375
Loc: Penang
Some prefer the varnashraamic model whereas most of the
reformers have consciously or not, knowingly or not, opt for the
svadharma model without varnashraama. Svadharma manifests as
inclinations and aptitude towards a profession and this is what the
whole world is practising.

I am not quite comfortable with the political posturing of left,
right or centre. Hindus are just of 2 groups; orthodox or reformers.
Most of us are reformers of varying degrees. The orthodox
prefers the varnashraama model but the reformers want the svadharma
model. The orthodox want to retain the caste rankings, names and
caste shastras but most reformers want all that out or want to just
ignore it.

Caste is a Hindu problem, an Indian national problem, as well as a
human rights problem. Therefore the international community can get
involved in it. It cuts across all boundaries including religion. Yet
the main onus of solving this problem does lie with the Hindus who
have to take the first initiative.

Regards.

Pathmarajah

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