<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Gangajaali ji interesting take on the tamasa guna aspect , have heard a similar story in the discourse of chandrasekhara saraswati (associated with the kanchi math in andhra ) ,would agree with that , but as i said above how do you make the grassroot public aware of the true stuff .
if i were a rss worker trying for unity in a lower jati area , if the question of a karna or shambuka is brought up what would i do ???<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
You have raised a very important issue. Christians have their sunday school. Muslims have their madrassahs. Hindus have no easy way to learn about their dharma. The only way to spread an understanding is to teach Hindu children their dharma in school. Currently Hindus learn about their dharma from parents and relatives. If parents and relatives do not have good knowledge and if they have casteist feelings then the children will also have defective knowledge and will grow up with casteist feelings. The only way out seems to me to have Hindu schools run by Hindu organizations just as Christian missionary schools are run by the various Christian Churches all over India. Hindu organizations might also start talks with various schools all over India so that these schools teach Hindu children the basics of Hinduism.
You are right. And a friend is writing a fantastic article on a related topic. It should be coming in near future. Once done we need to crystallize these articles into small 15 second elevator sales pitches.
A lot of confusion has been created regarding vedic literature and to some measure regarding Sri Krishna's stories, due to the use of the Sanskrit word "Go".
"Go" is usually translated as cow. But one of its other prominent meanings is "Light". In the sense of "light", "Go" is also used to denote sense-organs as they are the lights that illuminate the outer world.
Colonial vedic scholars have made it a point to translate 'go" always as "cow" even though the context shoutingly demands for an interpretation as "light". Because it helped them to show the vedics as nincompoops.
Let me lay out few instances and the implied multiple meanings:
go = cow, light, sense-organs
gochara = that which moves in the light, that which becomes visible or known through the senses
gopatha = path of the cows, path of the lights, the zodiacal path in the sky through which planets, sun and moon appear to move
goswami = lord of the cows, lord of the lights, one who has mastered his senses, a yogi
goShpadI = a puddle of water formed due to the impression of cow's hoofs on mud, footprint of light
gorakhSha = protector of cows, protector of the lights, protector of the senses (think of mahAyogi gorakShanAtha or gorakhnaath here)
godhUli = the dust kicked off by the returning cows in the evening, the dust that hides the light (evening)
gopa = cowherd, keeper/drinker of the light
gopI = cowherd girl, female keeper/drinker of the light
gopAla = cowherd boy, protector of the light
gokul = family of cow(herds), the place where KrishNa grew up (Vrindavan), the family of light
goloka = the world of cows, world of lights, name of Sri KrishNa's loka
So, there is a historical story about the human birth of Sri KrishNa as the gopAla, the cowherd boy, who played with gopas and gopIs.
And there is an eternal story of goloka (the world of lights) where Sri Krishna is always at play (leelA) with the keepers of the lights, gopas and gopIs. The light is the flame in the heart, the soul, and Sri KrishNa nArAyaNa, the soul of all souls, is perpetually in a joyous sport with the keepers of the light.
Now think of what Sri KrishNa says in GItA and form your own interpretations about what is rAsa-LilA.
Thanks for your explanation.
Analysis of "GO" as light makes perfect sense.
Good and timely poste Ashok. It's enjoyable as always. Here, it would not be out of context to highlight the insight of Sri Madhusudhana Saraswathi. I am not sure if I have already posted it before.
Nontheless the Shloka is as below:
Gopaa Vadhooti Dhukoola Choraaya namah:
Which literally translates as: One who steals the clothes from the wives of Cowherds.
Sri Madhusudhana Saraswathi (I think he is the same as the author of Advaita Siddhi) explains it as follows:
Go = Indriyas.
Pa = protector, master.
GoPa = master of the indriyas = Intellect.
Vadhuti = wife of.
Gopa Vadhuti = something that serves the Intellect = Mind or Manas.
Dhukoolam = Dress or covering.
Gopa Vadhuti Dhukoolam = something that covers the mind = Maya.
Chora = Thief.
Gopa Vadhuti Dhukoola Chora = One who steals away the veil of Maya. Pure Consciousness or Brahman.
Namah = (my) Salutations (to the OMnipresent.)
12-21-2005, 09:59 PM
(This post was last modified: 12-21-2005, 10:09 PM by Sunder.)
Ashokji, Gangajal ij,
I finally got ahold of my copy of BG Shankara Bhashyam - Gita Press Ghorakpur wth translation from Sri HariKrishnaPrasad Goyanka ji. I will not translate it in english, but I do have question for either of you after reading the snippet below.
MAAM HI yasmaath
PARTHA VYAPAASHRITYA maam aashrayathvena gruheethva
YE API SYUH bhaveyuh
PAPAYONAYAHA paapa yonih yeshaam thae paapayonayah paapajanmanah
<b>ke thae ithi aaha -</b> sthriyo vaishyaah thatha shudhraah -
THAE API YAANTHI gacchanthi
PARAAM GATHIM prakrushtaam gathim.
Why would Shankara - the Bhaashyakaara - go out of his way to painstakingly use the words "Kae thae ithi aaha" thus making the preceding word as a qualifier? This was my Dharmasankatam when I was expressing it all along in tbe above posts till I finally threw in the towel and said I am convinced of it being a noun.
Now that you have established the word to be a noun, what can be said of Sri Shankara's line of reasoning in using the same word as an adjective, and also maintain the same stance (i.e. corroborate it) in his other works?
I would be more than happy to take this up in a private discussion if it suits you.
Sunder, thats interesting.
The word 'pApayonayaH" can obviously be interpreted both as noun or adjective. I have some other translations of Gita that interpret it as noun. But the phrase "ke te iti aaha" clearly portrays it as a descriptor or adjective.
Sri Shankara also commented on Upanisads that have some very important sages that are women or shUdras.
Since this shloka has no implications for Advaita vedanta, which was the main purpose of Shri Shankara's commentary, it doesn't carry the same significance as the advaita-vedanta proper portions of his commentary. I will leave it at that.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Sri Shankara also commented on Upanisads that have some very important sages that are women or shUdras.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Of the former, if you mean Vachaknavi Gargi and Maitreyi I can understand. Of the latter, do you mean Raikva ? Could you point me to the author (exclusive or otherwise) who had authored the upanishad commented upon by Acharya Shankara. Does Shankaracharya also acknowledge the fact that the upanishadic-teacher does not belong to Trivarna? For in case of Janasruthi (of Raikvaparna fame) the Acharya clarifies that is not a Shudra by birth, but is called so because of his qualities.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Since this shloka has no implications for Advaita vedanta, which was the main purpose of Shri Shankara's commentary, it doesn't carry the same significance as the advaita-vedanta proper portions of his commentary. I will leave it at that.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Ashok, Varna has no place in Advaita and you know it well. Thus sweeping this under the Advaita rug would only end the discussion, but the question remains. There will be no inquiriy as to why our ancestors had explained such a model. What did they know about Varna and birth that we do not? Why did they think of it as an important aspect even while dwelling in the lofty heights of Nirguna and Vedanta. There has to be a reasoning as to why acharya after acharya, bhashyakara after bhashyakara, in every parampara had held this concept.
I am not expecting an answer from you, nor am I asking that this be answered today. It is just stating what is said by our Rshis and Acharyas and what they believed in. We can either take it or leave it, but it still remains as they said it.
Ashok ji very much enjoyed your post on Go . it makes perfect sense.
Sunder ji interesting take on adi sankara's version , i know for long the kanchi math has maintained a component of the varna system based on birth, jayendra saraswati broke many barriers by going beyond the established .
I have a doubt , how is this applicable to kali yuga , remember reading in the bhagavatam in the predictions about kali yuga made by the sages sitting in naimisharnya in modern uttar pradesh , one of them being in the modern kali yuga a brahmin will be known by his thread alone .
also the set of rules applicable to kali yuga are the ones given by parashara , this was what i remember reading.
Even if Sankara held the varna/jati by birth , how does it apply to modern age and to my original concern , how will the footsoldiers be convinced , leave alone them , for people the lower jatis how will they even come out of the self confidence , faith in hinduism tangle .
If you could please throw light on ramanujacharya's position on the same would be most happy .
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->for people the lower jatis how will they even come out of the self confidence<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Sarangadhara ji, time and again I stress the same thing. There is no LOWER jathi, or UPPER jathi. Brith does NOT make one higher or lower. KARMA too does not make one lower or higher. GUNA alone makes one lower or higher.
The Varna based on birth is not a position I would like to stick with, nor is it something I would voluntarily hide. I have to come to terms and reason as to why this position even professed by the great Gurus. Is it just a starting point (like being born rich - which actually means being born to parents who are rich) ? Is it a prarabdha that places you in a particular family (as Bhagavaan mentions in the Gita about Yoga-Bhrashta) and from there your samskraaras take over?
The foot soldiers, and to all Hindu Brethen, we stand as one family. Tracing my lineage is one thing, but praising or insulting someone based on the birth is quite another. I am aware that Islamic invasion and other factors may have diluted if not destroyed any purity in the lineages. Nonetheless, the varna (atleast of the yesteryears) remains open to scrutiny.
We tend to shy away from the subject owing to the present social trend, and that it is detrimental for Hindu unity. I completely agree with this. But it does not make sense to profess unequivocal-equality on the one side, and having caste-based-reservations on the other - which again is based on birth. A Brahmana is not one who sports a sacred thread, but He who fearlessly speaks the truth, however painful it may be.
This is one such subject.
I will try to get Sri Ramanujacharya's views on the subject. But there may be others who are more qualified than I to speak on Ramanujacharya or Madvacharya's views.
Yes, I had gargI and maitereyI from women side and raikva and jAnashruti from shUdras in mind. Also the story of satyakAma jAbAli whose mother was a maid servant and who didn't know who was satyakAma's father. But satyakAma was accepted as a brahmana.
Regarding Raikva-upAkhyAnam, here is a chandamama type of rendition
. Raikva the brahmajnAni was a cart-driver and supposedly a shUdra, but was also called a brAhmaNa due to his knowledge. When king jAnashruti approached raikva to learn from him, raikva scolded him calling him a shUdra! Most people derive from it that king jAnashruti was born a shUdra. But I have to submit, that the upanishads, permeated by the sublime essence of "oneness" in the universe as they are, make it mighty hard at times to base varNa on jAti. So who knows whether jAnashruti was born a shUdra or raiva rishi called him such because he deserved it. Sages like satyakAma jAbAli and raikva were called brAhmaNa precisely because of their attributes (guNa), although by birth they were shUdra and raikva by action too.
Regarding shri shankara's commentary, well you caught me trying to brush things under the carpet, <!--emo&
--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> Now that I have to come clean, I must say that the thinking of the times can show up in one's views, even for the acharyas. And all such views don't have to be the eternal truth type. Don't we all know about the story of the chAndAla and ShrI shankara, and the moral of that story! It was also neat that shiva himself, also called akula (literally of no-family, or of low caste/family), was the one who supposedly came as the chAndAla to impart a lesson to shrI shankaracharya.
You had mentioned the childhood impressions determine to a large degree the attributes and even actiions, so that becomes a determinant of varNa based on jAti.
I have heard another interpretation based on reincarnation theory. In this, a person of attributes of a certain varNa, may be born into a family that shares similar attributes, i.e. same varNa. But that is not a guarantee as karma and prArabdha can perhaps conspire to make a mismatch in someone's life.
Therefore it is best and IMHO truest to the central idea of varNa, to base it only on guNa & karma and not on birth. Although birth may have an unusually strong correlation with the varNa of a person. And therefore, I respectfully disagree with any acharyas/sages if they insist that only jAti should be the basis of varNa.
P.S. another article
Is Caste System Intrinsic to Hinduism?
P.S. Regarding raikva-upAkhyAnam, Hazariprasad Dwivedi a famous Hindi writer who spent many years at shAnti-niketan, wrote a great novel titled "anAma-dAsa kA pothA". Despite the weird/funny title, the book is a great read based on a fictional life story of raikva rishi. I am not sure whether it has been translated into other languages or not.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Even if Sankara held the varna/jati by birth , how does it apply to modern ageÂ and to my original concern , how will the footsoldiers be convinced , leave alone them , for people the lower jatisÂ how will they even come out of the self confidence , faith in hinduism tangle .
According to tradition Shankara changed his views late in his short life. This is of course if you believe Shankara wrote Maneesha Panchakam. Moreover Vedantic authors have repeatedly warned us against fundamentalist reading of Hindu scripture.
According to Yoga Vasishta Ramayan (II-18):
<b>Though human in origin, an exposition of truth is to be accepted; otherwise
even what is regarded as divine revealation is to be rejected. Even a young
boy's words are to be accepted if they are words of wisdom; else reject it
like straw even if uttered by Brahma the creator.</b>" (Vasishta's Yoga translated
by Swami Venkatesananda)
Vacaspati Misra, the author of Vamati, says, "<b>Even one thousand scriptural
statements cannot transform a jar into a piece of cloth</b>".
If we are free to reject scripture which is regarded as divine revealation then why do we have to accept Shankara's views in its entirety? Shankara was a genius no doubt but he also carried some of the prejudices of his time. We have to read Shankara with that in mind. Shankara says quite clearly in Viveka Chudamani that a male body is a necessary for salvation. Can we agree with such a statement today?
The way out is what I suggested previously. Words like Sudra and Brahmana in Hindu scripture should be understood from the context. The word Shudra in Ramayana's Shambhuka episode does not refer to people who are called Shudras today.
Hindu scriptures have also criticized Brahmanas. This is what is written in Mahabharata:
<b>Yayati the said, "The wise know that a Brahmana is more to be avoided than
an angry snake of virulent poison, or a blazing fire of spreading flames.'
Devyani then told the monarch,'O bull among men, why dost thou, indeed, say
that Brahmana should be more avoided than an angry snake of virulent poison or
a blazing fire of spreading flames?' The monarch answered,'The snake killeth
only one. The sharpest weapon slayeth but a single person. The Brahmana,
when angry destroyeth whole cities and kingdoms! Therefore, O timid one, do
I deem a Brahmana as more to be avoided than either......' (Adi Parva LXXXI)</b>
Is King Yayati referring to Brahmana Jati or Brahmana Varna. It is clear from the context that he is talking about people of Brahmana Jati who have Tamasa Guna. Does this refer to people of Brahmana Jati today? The answer is a big no!
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Could you point me to the author (exclusive or otherwise) who had authored the upanishad commented upon by Acharya Shankara. Does Shankaracharya also acknowledge the fact that the upanishadic-teacher does not belong to Trivarna? For in case of Janasruthi (of Raikvaparna fame) the Acharya clarifies that is not a Shudra by birth, but is called so because of his qualities.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Sunder, I am not sure what you mean by the phrase "author (exclusive or otherwise) who had authored the upanishad commented upon by Acharya Shankara".
Here is a quote from another discussion
forum about shrI shankara and shrI rAmAnuja's views. :Do the Hindu scriptures advocate caste by birth or by worth ?
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Here are some quotes from Brahma-sutra Bhashaya of Sankara and SriBhashya of Ramanuja.
"The Sudras are not qualified for that reason also that Gautama having ascertained Jabala not to be a Sudra from his speaking the truth, proceeded to initiate and instruct him. 'None who is not a Brahmana would thus speak out. Go and fetch fuel, friend, I shall initiate you. You have not swerved from truth.' (Ch up 4.4.5) Sankara Bhashya (1:3:37)
"From those Sudras, however, who like Vidura and 'the religious hunter' acquire knowledge in consequence of the after effects of former deeds, the fruit of their knowledge cannot be witheld, since knowledge in all cases brings about its fruit." (Sankara 1.3.38)
"Owing to the effect of former actions, which ahd not yet worked themselves out, they were born in a low caste, while at the same time they possessed wisdom owing to the fact that the knowledge acquired by then in former births had not yet quite vanished." (Ramanuja 1.3.33)
"Even a person who because he does not belong to an ashrama stands between as it were, is qualified for knowledge. 'For that is seen'. For we meet wth scriptural passages declaring that persons of that class such as Raikva and the daughter of Vachanu--possessed the knowledge of Brahman (ch 4.1, Bri 3.6.8)"(Sankara3.4.36)
"Smriti also declares that men not belonging to an ashrama grow in knowledge through prayer and the like. 'Through prayer (japa) also a Brahmana may become perfect May he perform other works or not, who befriends all creatures is called a Brahmana (Manu Smriti 2.17)' " (Ramanuja 3.4.37)<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
I think it best to answer the most important point in the post first before I go sequentially.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Although birth may have an unusually strong correlation with the varNa of a person. And therefore, I respectfully disagree with any acharyas/sages if they insist that <b>only jAti</b> should be the basis of varNa.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
The word ONLY is superfluous here as it has never been said before in the discussion that Jati is the ONLY criteria for Varna. If it were so, then Yudhisthira's answers to the Yaksha, or Vajrasuchika Upanishad will be meaningless. If Jati ALONE was to be a criteria, then Sanathana Dharma would not make sense as it leaves no scope for improvement. Thus I would like that you take the 'only' component out of the picture - following which we are on the same page. In fact, I too would vehemently (not humbly) disagree with anyone who says jati alone decides a varna. I hope I have made myself clear as to birth being *a* component and not *the* component in deciding varna.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Yes, I had gargI and maitereyI from women side and raikva and jAnashruti from shUdras in mind. Also the story of satyakAma jAbAli whose mother was a maid servant and who didn't know who was satyakAma's father. But satyakAma was accepted as a brahmana.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Sri Shankaracharya's thoughts on Janasruthi, and Satyakama Jaapala not being Shudra by birth is made clear in his commentary of apasudradhikaranam.
Sugasya tadanadarasravanat tadadravanat suchyate hi I.3.34 (97)
<i>The Purvapakshin says: The Sudras also have got bodies and desires. Hence they are also entitled. Raikva refers to Janasruti who wishes to learn from him by the name of Sudra. "Fie, necklace and carriage be thine, O Sudra, together with the cows" Chh. Up. IV-2 & 3. But when he appears a second time, Raikva accepts his presents and teaches him. Smriti speaks of Vidura and others who were born from Sudra mothers as possessing highest knowledge. Therefore the Sudra has a claim to Brahma Vidya or knowledge of Brahman.
This Sutra refutes the view and denies the right to the study of the Vedas for Sudra. The word 'Sudra' does not denote a Sudra by birth which is its conventional meaning, <b>because Janasruti was a Kshatriya king.</b> Here we will have to take the etymological meaning of the word which is, "He rushed into grief <b>(Sukam abhi dudrava)</b> or as "grief rushed on him" or as "he in his grief rushed to Raikva". The following Sutra also intimates that he was a Kshatriya.</i>
Tadabhavanirdharane cha pravritteh I.3.37 (100)
<i>The same discussion on the Sudras' right is continued.
Gautama, having ascertained Jabala not to be a Sudra from his speaking the truth proceeded to initiate and instruct him. "None who is not a Brahmana would thus speak out. Go and fetch fuel, friend, I shall initiate you. You have not swerved from the truth" Chh. Up. IV-4-5.
This scriptural text furnishes an inferential sign of the Sudras not being capable of initiation.</i>
In the second case however, it does not mention the birth component as it is a matter of faith (or doubt.) This example supports your point that the GUNA component over rides the janma component.
I will conclude further posts on this particular subject here. There are no more questions that arise in my mind pertaining to Varna.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->I am not sure what you mean by the phrase "author (exclusive or otherwise) who had authored the upanishad commented upon by Acharya Shankara".<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
I assumed that you were refering to some upanishad other than the common examples of Jansruthi, and Jabala Satyakama. The reference was asking if you had any particular upanishad in mind authored by a single Rshi (like Mandukya Upanishad) or a combination of Rshis amongst whom the chathurtha-varna was another contributor (like Chaandogya, Brihadaranyaka.)
In retrospect, the question can be ignored in light of your post that followed the question <!--emo&
--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo-->
12-22-2005, 07:46 AM
(This post was last modified: 12-22-2005, 10:15 PM by Sunder.)
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Is King Yayati referring to Brahmana Jati or Brahmana Varna. It is clear from the context that he is talking about people of Brahmana Jati who have Tamasa Guna. Does this refer to people of Brahmana Jati today? The answer is a big no!<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
As to the interpretation and speculation here is the whole story. The speculation seems to be a conscious or unconscious distortion. Such distortions will only lead to Brahmin-hating and not lead towards reconstructing or showing what the ancient seers had thought. If we read a little above and below the quotes provided in the previous post, it shows what Yayathi actually means:
"Yayati, thereupon, replied, 'Beautiful one, I do not deserve thee. <b>Thou art the daughter of Sukra far superior to me. Thy father cannot bestow thee even on a great king.</b>' At this point, Yayati is not talking about Karma or Guna, but by associating Devayani as the *daughter* of Shukracharya, he is refering to her birth and lineage. He also acknowledges Shukracharya being *far superior* to himself. He goes further to say that Shukracharya can't bestow Devayani to even a "Great King". Based on what? If it was ust Guna, then Yayathi was a Gunavaan and a Dharmavaan. Why would he raise an objection?
To this Devayani replied, 'Brahmanas had before this been united with the Kshatriyas, and Kshatriyas with Brahmanas. Thou art the son of a Rishi and thyself a Rishi. Therefore, O son of Nahusha, marry me.'Here is Devayani refering to guna/karma or janma-Brahmana? For she says *in reply* to Yayati's objection that she is the *daughter* of Shukracharya. She says Brahmanas and Kshatriyas have intermarried before. Is it Guna Brahmana and Guna Kshatriya? If it were so, the words *<b>Therefore, O Son</b> of Nahusha* would be superfluous.
Yayati, however, replied, 'O thou of the handsomest features, <b>the four orders have, indeed, sprung from one body. But their duties and purity are not the same, the Brahmana being truly superior to all.</b>' (Here, there is no fundamentalist reading. It is pasted/posted as is.) Having said that, my interpretation is as follows.... Here, the word "sprung" from one body refrs to Purusha Sukta. The 'duties and purity' refers to Karma and Guna respectively. The Brahmana (by Guna) being superior to all is Yayathi's opinion.
Devayani answered, 'This hand of mine hath never been touched before by any man save thee. Therefore, do I accept thee for my lord. How, indeed, shall any other man touch my hand which had before been touched by thyself who art a Rishi?
Yayati then said, '<b>The wise know that a Brahmana is more to be avoided than an angry snake of virulent poison, or a blazing fire of spreading flames.'</b> this is the quote pasted above - with a speculation of Thamasic nature of Brahmanas. We shall see as we progress as to why the speculation above was erroneous and substandard.
Devayani then told the monarch, 'O bull amongst men, why dost thou, indeed, say that Brahmana should be more avoided than an angry snake of virulent poison or a blazing fire of spreading flames?'
The monarch answered, 'The snake killeth only one. The sharpest weapon slayeth but a single person. The Brahmana, <b>when angry</b> destroyeth whole cities and kingdoms! Therefore, O timid one, do I deem a Brahmana as more to be avoided than either. I cannot hence wed thee, O amiable one, <b>unless thy father bestoweth thee on me.</b> This is the reason Yayathi feared Brahmanas. Angering a Brahmana such as Shukracharya and stealing away his Daughter without his permission would amount to destruction of Yayathi and his clan. The avoidance is not owing to Shukracharya's tamasik nature. Yayathi wants to AVOID PROVOKING the Brahmana's anger. This is the same concern that Yama Vaivasvatha expresses in Katha Upanishad after starving a Brahmana for three days and three nights. The mal-speculation of the so-called thamasic nature so much talked about in dailtstan and other sites does not befit this forum. Intellectual integrity is appreciated.
Devayani then said, 'Thou art, indeed, chosen by me. And, O king, it is understood that thou wilt accept me if my father bestoweth me on thee. Thou needst not fear to accept my poor self bestowed on thee. Thou dost not, indeed, ask for me.'
--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='smile.gif' /><!--endemo--> gangajali ji and sunder ji thank you for the relevant link and explanation.
this topic definetly merits a deeper discussion , would love to see this discussion progess further.
as time goes and this thread goes longer ,guess more things will become clear .
12-22-2005, 10:29 PM
(This post was last modified: 12-22-2005, 10:32 PM by Sunder.)
<!--QuoteBegin-gangajal+Dec 22 2005, 05:32 AM-->QUOTE(gangajal @ Dec 22 2005, 05:32 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->Shankara says quite clearly in Viveka Chudamani that a male body is a necessary for salvation. Can we agree with such a statement today?[right][snapback]43583[/snapback][/right]
Interesting allegation again. If you are refering to Vivekachudamani Shloka 2, then I do not see evidence for such an allegation, nor do I see Shankaracharya "quite clearly saying" that a male body is required for salvation. can you point me to the appropriate shloka(s) from Vivekachudamani?
I am posting here some material on Shankara's Brahma Sutra Bhasya on the Shudra question and Vivekananda's criticism of that bhasya. You will see Vivekananda pointing out the contradictory stance taken by Shankara in the bhasya.
I will later on post Ramanuja's stance in details. Ramanuja's case is very strange because he takes one stance in his Bhasya on Brahma Sutra and an opposite stance in his bhasya on Gita 9.29-30.
My interest in the story of Janasruti was first aroused after I read a letter written by Vivekananda on 7th August, 1889. I give below an excerpt from that letter:
1. Does any narrative occur about Satyakama, son of Jabala, and about Janasruti,
anywhere else in the Vedas excepting the Upanishads?
2. In most cases where Shankara quotes Smriti in his commentary on the Vedanta Sutras, he cites the authority of the Mahabharata. But seeing that we find clear proofs about caste being based on qualification both in the Bhismaparva of the Mahabharata and in the stories of the Ajagara and of Uma and Maheswara, has he made any mention in his writings of this fact?
3. The doctrine of caste in the Purusha Sukta of the Vedas does not make it hereditory - so what are those instances in the Vedas where caste has been made a matter of hereditary transmission?
4. The Acharya could not adduce any proof from the Vedas to the effect that the Shudra should not study the Vedas. He only quotes "The Shudra is not conceived of as a performer of Yajna or Vedic sacrifice" (Taittiriya Samhita VII.i.1.6) to maintain that when he is not entitled to perform the Yajnas, he has neither any right to study the Upanishads or like. But the same Acharya contends with
reference to "Athatho Brahmajijnasa" (Now then commences The inquiry about Brahman) (Vedanta Sutras I.i.1) that the word Atha here does not mean 'subsequent to the study of the Vedas', because it is contrary to proof that the study of the Upanishads is not permissible without the previous study of the Vedic mantras and Brahmanas and because there is no intrinsic sequence between the Vedic Karma-Kanda and Vedic Jnana-Kanda. It is evident, therefore, that one may attain to the knowledge of Brahman without having studied the ceremonial part of the Vedas. <b>So if there is no sequence between the sacrificial practices and Jnana, why does the Acharya contradict his own statement when it is the case of Shudras, by inserting the clause "by force of the same logic?" Why should the Shudra not study the Upanishads?(1)</b>
I decided to find out about Janasruti and the context of Vivekananda's questions after reading his letter. The story of Janasruti is in Ch. U. Once when King Janasruti was resting on the roof of his house he overheard a flock of swans discussing about him. The swan at the back of the flock warned the lead swan not to cross the effulgence of Janasruti for that would scorch him. Apparently King Janasruti was a spiritually advanced person. The lead swan was astonished and asked
the swan at the back whether Janasruti was a spiritually pure person like Raikva. Chandogya Upanishad (Ch. U.) goes on to say:
On hearing this, Janasruti took with him six hundred cows, a gold necklace, and a chariot drawn by mules and went to Raikva and addressed him thus: 'O Raikva, here are for you these six hundred cows, this gold necklace, and this chariot drawn by mules. Now, revered sir, instruct me about the deity whom you worship.'
The other man answered him thus: 'Ah, O Shudra, let this gold necklace together with the chariot and the cows remain with you.' Thereupon Janasruti again took with him one thousand cows, a gold necklace, a chariot drawn by mules and his daughter and went to Raikva.
Janasruti said to him,'O Raikva, (these are for you) these are one thousand cows, this gold necklace, this chariot drawn by mules, this wife, and this village in which you reside. Now, revered sir, please instruct me.'
Taking that princess to be the portal for the conveying of knowledge, Raikva said, 'O Shudra, you have brought all these! Even by this means (i.e. the princess) you will make me talk! The king gave away to him all those villages in the Mahavrsa country known as Raikvaparna where Raikva lived.(2)
It struck me that the story is suggesting that Shudras could be king, could also study the Vedas, could be spiritually advanced persons and there was intermarriage between the various Jatis --- everything we have been told Vedas do not suggest. Given the importance of the story, I was sure that there must be a discussion of this story in the Brahma Sutras (also known as Vedanta Sutras), Shankara must have commented on it and Vivekananda's criticisms and questions must be tied
to Shankara's commentary. I found sure enough that the story is mentioned in the Brahma Sutras and Shankara had commented on it. I give below Shankara's commentary about this story in his Brahma Sutra Bhasya (BSB) I.iii.34: (Purva Paksha is giving a view that Shankara refutes as a Vedantin)
<b>Purva Paksha: Now then, the apparent conclusion is that Shudra is also qualified, for he can have the aspiration and ability. And unlike the prohibition, "Therefore the Shudra is unfit for performing sacrifices" (Tai. S. VII.i.1.6), no prohibition against his acquisition of illumination is met with. Even the disqualification for sacrifices that arises for the Shudra from the fact of his not being qualified for lighting a sacrificial fire, is no sign for his being debarred from knowledge. For it is not a fact that a man who has no fire - Ahavinya and the rest - cannot acquire knowledge. Moreover, there is an indicatory sign confirming the Shudra's competence. In the section dealing with the knowledge of Samvarga (merger of all things), Janasruti, grandson of Putra, and an aspirant of knowledge, is referred to by the word Shudra: "Fie, O Shudra, keep to yourself that chariot and the necklace, together with the cows" (Ch. U. IV.ii.3). And in the Smritis are mentioned Vidura and others as born into the Shudra caste but endowed with special knowledge. Hence Shudras have competence for special knowledge.
Vedantin: Faced with this, we say: The Shudra has no competence, since he cannot study the Vedas; for one becomes competent for things spoken of in the Vedas, after one has studied the Vedas and known these things from them. But there can be no reading of the Vedas by a Shudra, for Vedic study presupposes the investiture with the sacred thread, which ceremony is confined to the three castes. As for aspiration, it cannot qualify anyone unless one has the ability. Mere ability
in the ordinary sense also cannot qualify anyone, for scriptural ability is involved in scriptural matter. But this scriptual ability is denied by the prohibition of the right to study. As for the text "The Shudra is unfit for performing a sacrifice" (Tai. S. vii.1.1.6), since it is based on a logic having a common
application, it suggests that the Shudra has no right to knowledge as well, for the logic applies both ways. .... The fact, however, is that this word Shudra cannot guarantee his competence anywhere because it occurs in a corroborative statement (Arthavada). On the contrary, this word Shudra can be construed with someone already having the competence.
The answer is: On hearing this utterance of the swans, "Hello, who is this one, insignificant as he is, of whom you speak as though he were like Raikva of the chariot?" (Ch. U. IV.i.3), which was a personal disparagement for him, Janasruti, grandson of Putra, was struck with grief. Raikva hinted at this grief by using the word Shudra...This is what we can understand. For, a born Shudra has no
right to knowledge.
How again is it suggested by the word Shudra that he was struck with grief?
The answer is: "Tat-adravanat". Because the word Shudra can be split up thus to mean that he (Raikva) approached towards (abhidudrava) that (tat) grief (sucam); or he was approached (abhidudrave) by that (tat) sorrow (suca); or he rushed (abhidudrava) to that (tat) Raikva, because of sorrow. And this derivative meaning has to be accepted because the conventional meaning is inadmissible.(3)
The Purva Paksha argument is a straightforward reading of the story from Ch. U. Shankara, on the other hand, refuses to read the story in a straight forward manner. It is remarkable that Shankara could not find a single passage in the Vedas barring any Hindu from reading the Vedas and is forced to use a Taittiriya Samhita (Tai. S.) verse about a Shudra being unfit for performing a sacrifice to
make his case that a Shudra is not eligible for studying the Vedas. The point Shankara is making is that since a Shudra is not eligible to the performance of the rites of the Vedic Karma-Kanda, he is also not eligible to study the Upanishads and gain illumination. Is this argument logical and consistent with Shankara's own interpretation of the entire Brahma Sutra? The answer is a definite no!
Vivekananda pointed out Shankara's illogical position in point 4 of his letter. Shankara has commented on "Athatho Brahmajijnasa (Hence is to be undertaken thereafter a deliberation on Brahman)" (BSB I.i.1) that:
<b>The word Atha (thereafter) is used in the sense of "sequence" and not commencement; for brahmajijnasa is not a thing that can be commenced. And the meaning "auspiciousness" cannot enter syntactically into the purport of a sentence. Besides the word atha, even when used in some other sense, serves the purpose of auspiciousness from the very fact of its being heard.
The meaning of "sequence" being taken for granted, one has to mention that earlier thing which is a prerequisite for a deliberation on Brahman, just as much as a deliberation on religious rites (or deeds) depends invariably on an earlier study of the Vedas. The mere fact of the study of the Vedas cannot be the prerequisite sought for here, since this is a common factor (in both cases of
deliberation on Brahman and religious rites.)
Purvapaksha: A previous understanding of the religious rites can be accepted here as the special factor (leading to the deliberation on Brahman).
Vedantin: Not so, since it is logically possible for a man who has studied the Upanishads to undertake a deliberation on Brahman even without deliberation on the religious rites. And no sequence is meant here between these two -- for there is no proof either establishing relation between these two like that between the whole and its parts, or showing any derivative competence. Moreover, the deliberations on virtuous deeds and Brahman differ as regards results and objects of enquiry.(4)
Shankara, as is seen in the above quote, has said at the very beginning of his commentary on the Brahma Sutras that the study of the Upanishads and illumination have absolutely nothing to do with Vedic religious rites. He is now contradicting his own commentary on BSB I.i.1 and saying that a Shudra cannot study the Vedas since a Shudra is not eligible to carry out the rites of the Vedic Karma-Kanda. It is clear that it is this illogical stance that Vivekananda was pointing ou
t in his epistle.
Why does Shankara contradict his own commentary on BSB I.i.1? To understand his predicament we have to understand the issue at stake. On the one hand Tai. S. vii.1.1.6 is saying that all Shudras are barred from taking part in Vedic Karma-Kanda rituals. This would imply that Tai. S. is saying that all Shudras are morally challenged persons. On the other hand Ch. U. story of King Janasruti is showing a noble Shudra King who is actually studying the Upanishads. Both Tai. S. and Ch. U. cannot be right if the word Shudra means the same in both texts. There is thus an apparent contradiction in Sruti. Shankara had two options here. The first option would be to say that the word Shudra does not mean the same thing in the two texts and the exact meaning would have to be deduced from the context. The other option would be to somehow explain away the story of Janasruti in Ch. U. The second option is chosen by Shankara to harmonise the two Sruti texts. By choosing the second option, Shankara contradicts his own commentary on BSB and also, as pointed out by Vivekananda, is ignoring the considerable literature on guna-karma based caste in the Mahabharata and the Gita. Shankara could have easily harmonized the Sruti text by interpreting the word Shudra in Tai. S. to mean Shudra Varna and interpreting the word Shudra in Ch. U. to mean Shudra Jati but he didn't.
1 The complete works of Swami Vivekananda VI.208-209, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata.
2 Chandogya Upanishad IV.ii.1-5 by Swami Swahananda, Sri Ramakrishna Math, Chennai.
3 Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Sri Sankaracharya I.iii.34 by Swami Gambhirananda, Advaita Ashrama, Kolkata.
4 Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Sri Sankaracharya I.i.1 by Swami Gambhirananda, Advaita
<b>Interesting allegation again. If you are refering to Vivekachudamani Shloka 2, then I do not see evidence for such an allegation, nor do I see Shankaracharya "quite clearly saying" that a male body is required for salvation. can you point me to the appropriate shloka(s) from Vivekachudamani?
I came to this conclusion from the following 4 verses of Viveka Chudamuni:
<b>For all beings a human birth is difficult to obtain, more so is a male body; rarer then that is Brahmahood; rarer still is the attachment to the path of Vedic religion; higher then that is erudition in the scriptures; discrimination between the Self and non-Self, Realisation, and continuing in a state of identity with Brahman - these come next in order. (This kind of ) mukti (liberation) is not to be attained except through the well-earned merits of a hundred crores of births. (Viveka Chudamani 2)
There are three things which are rare indeed and are due to grace of God - namely a human birth, the longing for liberation, and the protecting care of a perfected sage. (VC 3)
The man who having by some means obtained a human birth, with a male body and mastery of the Vedas to boot, is foolish enough not to exert himself for self-liberation, verily commits suicide, for he kills himself by clinging to things unreal. (VC 4)
What greater fool is there than the man who having obtained a rare human body, and a masculine body too,neglects to achieve the real end of life. (VC 5)</b>
I am actually surprised that you do not see the special position given to male body by Shankara. He even makes the claim that male body is a rarity which is of course NOT true. A human being has an equal chance of being a male or being a female.
Shankara in verse 2, for example, sets up a hierarchy of rarity as follows:
<b>human birth then maleness then Brahmanhood, then Vedic religion then erudition in scriptures then discrimination between self and non-self, then Realization and then identity with Brahman. I am surprised that you do not see the bias in VC for males. </b>
Shankara stresses the importance of being a male in verses 2, 4 and 5. He says quite clearly that a male is foolish not to try for salvation. He is silent on the female of the species. Given this asymmetry what should I conclude?