Dear Sangom sir,
//The problem here is the brahmin as compared to the largest section of Hindus, viz., Sudras. Kshatriyas and Vaisyas were not precluded from studying the Vedas but they were asked to concentrate on warfare and agriculture/trade respectively and hence their study was just ordinary.//
My contention is only that it was their own choice and they were not asked by any one to concentrate on warfare etc… If you are comparing the Sudras with any one it should be with the entire bulk of higher castes and not with Brahmins alone. I do not get the logic or reason for singling out the Brahmins alone. What was convenient for the upper crust of the society became a code. The code was implemented ruthlessly by the powerful sections in the society and they were Vysyas-because of their control of economy and Kshatriyas – because of their power. Brahmins just played along though they were not comfortable with the kind of discriminations and atrocities. The available evidences show that this was the case. More than any other powerful castes Brahmins had categorically said that castes are not instruments for suppression or domination. One who is satvic in nature can not but say that and Brahmins were satvic in nature.
//We find some Kshatriyas like janaka, aSvapati, and pravAhana jaivali, to whom brAhmaNas went seeking knowledge, but they have not made any sutras or texts incorporating their knowledge and views. Why? It would have been easy for them in view of their higher living standards but either they were not allowed to do so, or, such texts were obliterated.//
There are several other names also in addition to what u have mentioned. You have raised a question and then have answered it. I am unable to agree with your reasoning. You appear to say that only those who made sutras and other texts qualify as knowledgeable in Vedas.
//I don't think the kshatriyas would have found it interesting to take up a fighting career, and face death in the battlefield.//
Many of the kshatriyas would have found it to be their interesting and natural duty. I have many friends who are from the so called kshatriya families serving in the military. For them military service is a passion. Their father and grandfathers were soldiers and they are also soldiers. Their sons are also soldiers. It is not that they are dull headed or less endowed. But it was a conscious choice and it was a matter of deep belief and pride. I do not think the kshatriyas of vedic times could have been any different. And it is a fact that the chances of survival in a single combat or in a war in those days was much brighter than today when a sniper’s single bullet can send your body spinning and nail it to the wall. Moreover the society which held the kshatriyas in high esteem for their valour expected that they should fight and protect the citizens and for that reason only they were allowed all the extravagant lifestyle in peacetimes.
//vaiSyas would, of course, have preferred trade because it was comparatively less arduous than agriculture; it was mainly the vaiSyas who welcomed buddhism and jainism which shows their weak linkages with the hinduism of those times.//
Well I do not know any basis for such a contention. In another forum there are people who are arguing vehemently that it was Kshatriyas , in their anxiety to fight Brahmins influence, who founded and promoted other religious faiths in India. I do not know what is the basis for that either though Gautama Budhdha and Mahavir were both Kshatriyas. I think we only interpret the way we want.
//Coming to intterpretation of even the itihasas, let alone vedas and upanishads, even as late as the 17th. century, there were no bhashyas by any one other than brahmanas and baladEva vidyAbhUshana's gOvinda bhAshya is considered to be the only work by a vaiSya in the entire corpus of bhAshyas. This also happened because one day, in Jaipur, in the royal court, the rAmAnuja sampradAya people began arguing a case in connection with the gauDeeya sampradAya (GS). They informed the king that GS had no commentary on the most important revealed scripture of vEdic religion—vEdAnta; therefore they had no siddhanta and no real sampradaya, or school. As a consequence they should give up their service of the deities of gOvinda and gOpinAtha, and entrust with those who were bona fide members of a genuine sampradaya. This happened in the 18th. century.//
Vedas, Upanishads, Sutras and then bhashyas. As far as I know this is the chronological order of these scriptures/texts. By the time the civilization came to the stage where it needed bhashyas to understand the Sutras, the education system had already taken the familiar form of schools of thought and there were Rishis who were the heads of these schools of thought. And for reasons I have already stated in my previous posting, Brahmins were the students as well as teachers in these schools.Hence the bhashyas could be written by Brahmins only.
//Hence, it was not like kshatriyas and vaiSyas did not take interest in the scriptures but they were not allowed beyond mere observances unquestioningly. All rules of /for the hindus was the monopoly of the brAhmaNas and this is amply borne out by our numerous dhaRma sutRas, manu being the pre-eminent among them.//
Manu was himself a kshatriya. Who prevented the kshatriyas and vysyas from learning the scriptures? And that too such powerful communities in the society? And who implemented these edicts of the Brahmins? Brahmins authored the Dharmashastras as dictated by the powerful Kshatriyas and Vysyas. All the discriminatory rules against the sudras were brought into these shastras at the instance of these powerful communities as they wanted to keep the panchamans and sudras permenantly under their thumb.
//I have to agree that the scriptures are not treasure troves in the ordinary sense. But the people who delved deep into them and found their secrets, were not far removed from the materialistic way of life. Our puranas give many accounts of rishis asking for huge riches for performing yagas and most of this wealth was distributed to the brahmins and rishis only as dakshiNa, at the end of the sacrifice. Actually, it is stated that the priests could even demand the king's consorts as gift, at the end of an aSwamEdha.//
Exceptions do not become rules. Dakshina was given voluntarily for services rendered.
//I don't know what you mean by 'great schools'; if you are referring to schools of thought we had 5 of them, but if you are thinking of Nalanda, Takshasila etc., these were post-buddhistic, and probably post-Asokan in their origin.//
I mean the schools of thought or ‘sampradhayas’ as you call it.
//As regards teaching I agree. But in the case of the rest, viz., researching, debating, interpreting and writing sUtRas and bhAshyas, we see that only a small number of people ventured to do so. It shows that either the others were content to learn, recite and teach the vEdas and did not go further, or they were not capable of it.//
I have no dispute about your interpretation.
//I have already explained the position above. I did not say anything to the same effect that you seem to be trying to make out of my post, but the truth is that brAhmanas did enforce, with the help of the rulers, their rigid caste-based rules which was always favourable to the bRahmaNa (gods on the earth or bhUdEva as they claimed) and heavily weighted against the SUdras.//
I repeat my point. The powerful Kshatriyas and Vysyas did enforce their rigid caste based discriminatory rules (they needed the hard labour of the panchamans for their survival and pleasures) and used the Brahmins cleverly for that purpose. Brahmins were the instruments used by these scheming , clever communities. Later when the matter became unsustainable due to information explosion and passage of time, these same communities cried foul and turned the Brahmins into whipping boys. This was the truth in those times and this is the truth today also.
//This answers all my points succinctly, I think. Our ancestors (not others) thought that we, the brAhmaNas were superior, to the others, that much you have accepted; it is not relevant what made us think so. We had a sense of superiority above all others, based on our own evaluation of our own capability or knowledge or something else. There is no shred of evidence that it was the others who thought so and held us in high esteem. That is enough, sir. I think no further discussion is needed. Thank you.//
When I said ancestors it was not about Brahmins alone. I meant all the communities together.