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Reversal of Fortune Isolates India's Brahmins

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An article in Wall Street Journal on the plight of Brahmins.


Interestingly the article says more than 65% of Brahmins earn less than $100/- per month. Of course the percentage of people in other communities earning less than $100/- per month is a little higher than 65% as per the article. But they are not that much higher.

At least, it gives a somewhat true picture of the sorry state of affairs of Brahmins.

Good Read

The whole thing is based on falsehood

I do not know if people who are Dravidians in Tamil Nadu will go ahead and get DNA analysis done, but they will find out that most of what they believe in such as Aryan invasion etc is a myth. The differences that they believe in about Aryan vs Dravidian actually do not exist and are falsehoods created. I am in a class in Stanford University (Computational Genomics) where you can find that a person from Africa can actually become White if he lives in the Artics for about 42 generations. It is all based on the environment. I had my own DNA analyzed and found that my forefathers came from north Angola. People can believe in perceptions, however there is something to science that must lead us somewhere.

may i please suggest that you be very careful whenever you read such 'downers' about brahmins and take it with a grain of salt?

as a starting point, consider your own self, family, relations, brahmin friends - and come to a conclusion as to how many are deprived in the real sense. by this i mean, hardships to maintain a middle class life. hopefully, none. also, remember that many of us have moved on with times, adapted to the new realities and done well. anyone unwilling to shed some unwanted baggage, and retain old exclusive attitudes cannot fit in today's india.

then check out how many abjectly poor tamil hindu brahmins you know. we can only deal with tamil brahmins for it is only with them that we have an identity.

personally, i think, the self identification for all of us here must be in this order - first tamil, then hindu, and last brahmin. otherwise we are stateless
and rootless and this is an abject situation to be in india today.

the brahmins referred to in the wsj article are referred to generally all over india. each community's history and sociology is different. their percentage of population and their status in their societ could be quite different from that of tamil brahmins within the confines of the tamil society. we are importing only fear and desperation within ourselves, all for nothing.

our gripe maybe against reservation and the dmk, where we still mourn the loss of political power and prestige. let us leave it at that, and try to resolve it post karunanidhi. there are among us, the poorer ones, who are adversely impacted, and if each of us do our mite to help out someone whom we know/hear of, we would be doing more service to our community than propagating fears based on believed myths.

to go about identifying with the sorrows of brahmins of other states and languages is ultimately self defeating and only instills fears and discomfort and a sense of seige.
There is a problem with such analysis. This is of course true of all analysis based on per capita income. It does not take the other environmental factors into account. We take $100 to mean Rs.4000 per month. If a person is residing in a small town or village and if he owns the house that he is staying in his own house, this income should put him in the middle class category. Brahmins in general in villages and smaller towns own the house they stay in.

But in a big city he will find it difficult to make both ends meet.

Again as kunjuppu rightly put it this is not a reflection on our Tamil Brahmin community. As I had stated earlier in one of my posts, the Brahmins in Gujarat and Rajasthan are badly off because of lack of education. The Brahmins in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar (who consitute a major percentage of Brahmins in India) are also poorly off since only a small percentage have taken to english education.

Talking about reservations in Tamil Nadu what is the condition of the other forward castes? The forward castes are said to be 13%. Assuming Brahmins as 3% ( I feel it could be lower than that and not higher) what about the 10% of the other forward castes. Not all of them are merchants or traders. I know of at least one major caste (who were very active earlier in the anti-Brahmin movement) who have fared far worse than Brahmins.

The again the fact is that not all the seats which are out of reservation are filled by the forward castes.


BTW has anyone done a comparison of the number of Brahmins who have secured top ranks in school/University examinations inthe 60s and today? Such a study will reveal the falling standard of the Brahmin students.
1. I am also pained to see the students from BCs and SCs/STs who have scored
very high marks in their qualifying exams snatching away many seats meant for
OC. Then, students from these categories with lower marks are accommodated
in seats under reserved quota. Thus, they end up cornering more seats than
originally envisaged by the quota system, depriving the students of Forward
castes, what is their due share.
2. Even today, I can say brahmins in rural areas and small towns (semi-urban) face
a lot of difficulties, in giving good education to their children, meeting health
expenses and finally, maintaining an above average standards of living.
3. No need to talk about brahmins engaged in menial/less paying jobs such as small
cooks/assistant cooks, those who are engaged in Purohit profession, on a low
scale, hotel servers, conductors, accountants in small private firms et al. Their
plight is the worst of the lot.
4. Yes, I am equally worried about our children not securing university ranks
nowadays. But, one consolation here is, as one who studied Social Psychology
I can say, all the students who were exceptionally brilliant academically are not
successful in their later part of their life. In fact, many of them are total flops!
5. I read in one of the posts sometime back, efforts are on to collect funds from the
philanthropic minded amongst us, so as to create some corpus fund to help bright
students from poor families. Then, we must clearly define what is the cut-off
level to decide whether a student is bright and his family is poor.
6. I am prepared to contribute my mite.
The real question is whether we as a community should indulge in self sympathy or do something concrete for our religion and for our own selves. Lot of things are easy and can help the community in a great manner.

Easy things to do that will improve the perception of brahmins worldwide and also better our own condition.
1. Lead a life of complete sincerity - Exert 100% in what ever we do. A vast majority of us dont do this. We talk about religion but watch trashy movies and cinema, things that decrease our intellect
2.Lead a life devoid of bad habits. No longer true today, a vast majority of us either drink alcohol/wine or eat non vegetarian food( in different degrees)
3.Be humble stop the snobishness typical of people in our community, whether or not we think we do things better than others, be gentle dont snub insult or hurt another person, dont be snobbish, dont be arrogant. Learn to smile and be patient.Believe me the perception of people in tamil nadu has been very bad due to this snobishness and also because, many of us dont interact properly with fellow people in other communities.
4. Dont use abusive words against anybody even when in anger and dont show anger unless it can prove constructive. Show anger in a way, that it does not create hatred. Be always truthful , never lie, but never speak truth that can hurt others(lifted from a sanskrit proverb).
5. Help others and help religion.Dont expect religious leaders to do stuff for you, take the initiative to do something. The religious leaders will then peacefully focus only on god and will not have to waste their time on missionary activity.
6. Spend sometime everyday on God and learn some aspects of religion atleast
7. The Priests should take dakshina according to the status of the individual and should be helpful to nonbrahmins who wish to perform ceremonies.
8. Dont discriminate between devotees who come to temple irrespective of influence or donation.
9. Religious leaders can spend more time in the villages and where dalits live and teach tradition without asking them to give up their ancestoral customs, just reform them but dont ask them to give them up. This should be of greater priority than Babri masjid or visiting foreign countries or starting engineering colleges. The poor have enough to offer the religious leader what he needs to survive in return for the time he spends with them.

10. Start a grand fund to provide good education for the poor people. This will improve their condition, they will not be under the grip of missionaries, will improve the image of our community and help our karma.

Simple things which anyone can follow , but none of us do.

Remember a lot of hatred against brahmins is because of perception and things can change provided we change. The fault is very much on our side. The last 100 years have been wasted. Very few brahmins have followed all the above principles.Sad but true.
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Order must be restored

Marvelous Harish. We, brahmins refused Thiruppaanaazhwaar to enter into the Sri Ranganarhar Temple. We even stoned him. But, as you see all beings are children of God. So, the Lord Himself summoned the Archakars to carry His devotee(Aazhwaar) on their shoulders! Take in the case of Ekalyava and Karna. Think how Drona refused to impart the knowledge of Astra to them. We threw EV Ramaswami Nayaker into the road when he tried to enter the Kasi Vishwanathar temple to to worship him! Then started his propaganda against us. So, if we have to blame then we have to blame ourselves! No, order must be restored. We must fall back to our Bhiksha and Purohitam. We must study Vedas. We must show love to all. We failed in those things and with the help of the ruling persons we were goaded by the respect given to us. Now we must restore the order.
srikrish, not possible to go back to old professions for anyone anymore i suppose since the world moves forward....

very nicely put harish....hope it becomes reality.

God bless.
I for one do not believe that our profession alone decides whether we are brahmins or not. Those days are gone. I concur with Thiruvalluvar: "Brahmins are those are virtuous and fair to every other creation". But, without looking up to our religious leaders, we have to do whatever possible at our level for the upliftment of atleast one poor brahmin family.

Finally, we shall not fall prey to materialistic desires beyond a point and indulge in morally corrupt practices to achieve our objectives, so that we as a community will regain the confidence of other castes, who once looked up to brahmins for everything - from education to enlightenment, counselling to leadership, guidance to arbitration.

Howsoever great one might be, one must live a simple life that will be a real-life lesson
for others- especially the youngsters- to follow.

this website by and large focuses on tamil brahmins (and possibly their offshoot in kerala).

i think we are doing pretty well. i come from a very ordinary lower class family 2 generations ago. the upward mobility to comfortable middle class and above, has been achieved in 2 generations to more than 400 families, who are my extended kith and kin. we would be hard pressed to find poverty in my clan.

i think this is the norm. i may be mistaken.

i have seen pockets of poverty. by and large, it is due to lack of motivation. where there is urge, money has been found. to upward mobility through education or business. i have indeed supported education of young tamil brahmins for a while and for i would be horrified to see a life go waste for want of eagerly sought education.

our community could do more. but i think, overall, for youth education is something that even the skinflintest of us, will willingly part money. two other oft quoted reasons for seeking charity appears to be marriage of daughters and health issues. the latter i sympathize, but in my order of things, all i could afford goes to education.

re marriage of daughters, i do not feel obliged to support this concept. on one hand, i have heard laments that no one wants to marry priests or cooks. in the same breath, there is this emotional appeal of a single girl who is a burden to her family, never mind, the girl is an income generating person.

talking of priests and cooks - these are indeed good professions these days. while the number of cooks may be increasing, the tamil brahmin priesthood appears to be slowly on the decline. atleast my take. also, the brahmin priests are smart and well versed with the law of demand and supply. all the more glory to them. with increased prosperity from other castes, brahmin priesthood will have a good future. i think.

so, pannvalan, i do not agree that tamil brahmins' fortunes are reversed. all that reversed was the brief period between 1947 & early 1960, when we dominated the civil service of tamil nadu. by early 60's, even during the congress regime, the scales were falling down and tamil brahmins were being shunned from this overwhelming presence. this too was only a small minority. the bulk of our community, had been moving out of tamil nadu/palghat since 1920s in search of opportunities.

re tamil nadu civil service, we still have a decent representation at the higher levels. i, for one, do not shed any tears, over our absence as tahsildars or registrars. we have moved on.

we have prospered in toto. if out of a topical interest, we look at other brahmin communities of india - i do not know much but i suspect our brethren in karnataka are doing well. a.p. i heard not so well. gujarat not so well, only because gujju brahmins did not embrace education. it was the baniyas and other obc's. not so well in the north, but ok in maharashtra. the bottom line, appears to be, where the brahmins have taken to education and mobility, good life appears to have occurred.

i seriously think, that we should focus more on tamil brahmins in this forum, for each brahmin culture in india has a separate history and priority, all quite different from ours.

pannvalan, but if am asked, as a community, what one wish, and only one, would i seek - my answer would be entrepreneurship. the art of self employment and prospering. i live in toronto, and i have seen a few tamil brahmin businesses start, flounder and fail. these guys have absolutely no clue how to run a business professionally, let alone speak of customer service and keeping up their promises re delivery, quality and above all competitive pricing.

just this one wish sir :)
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The priests (all from same family) who conducted my wedding started a small-scale industry making appalams, vadiyams, etc. Nobody in that family works as a priest anymore. They have grown in leaps and bounds and within a few years, i won't be surprised if they graduate to a large-scale industry.

The iyer family that did the cooking at my wedding now own 2 bakery-type shops selling traditional indian sweets, savories, etc. They do not cook at weddings anymore either i heard.

For a grihapravesham a few months back, a family searched high and low for a priest. Unfortunately on auspicious days, everyone gets booked. That family finally found 2 priests who conducted the homam and charged Rs.50K as fees for a 3-4 hour ritual.

Yep, i do think priests are getting more and more difficult to get, and in future priesthood will be a money making profession as good as any other, because of the increasing demand and lack of supply.

Me have heard that brahmins in Kerala, AP and Karnataka have done fairly fine but not as good as their counterparts from Tamilnadu..so pressures for the TB community turned out all 4 the better in a way i suppose (never gonna ever say anything nice abt the politics and ill treatment there though) just mentioning this in good spirits: sucess after presurre, that's called (collective ?) vipareeta raja yogam (??) :)
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I really wonder if we are talking about brahmins living in cities alone - here, city means
any town with a population of 10 lacs and above. Such people may constitute only
40 % of the total brahmin population. What about the rest?

I wish to summarise my views hereunder.

1. Most of the brahmins whom I'm referring to are from poor and lower middle class
2. They do not have access to good education, i.e. education beyond schooling.
3. They do not have financial means to start any business. Even if they start one,
loss on one single occasion will make them crumble, because they do not possess
necessary cushion to bear such shocks. Do you know that when a child is born in
a Gujarathi family of business community (Jains/others), all the family elders
contribute some money which grows alongwith the boy/girl and it is quite a
princely sum when they attain adulthood?
4. Coming to Tamilnadu, gone are the days when Central and State governments
were dominated by Tamil brahmins. Tell me amongst doctors, engineers (except
software), lawyers, judges, college professors, scientists, chartered accountants,
top officials in Railways and managers in banking and insurance companies and
journalists, what is the share of Tamil brahmins today? Compare this to the
pre-1985 scene.

Whether it is IAS profession at State or Centre (including Parliament Secretariat in
New Delhi), A.Gs offices all over the county, ports and docks chairmen, all central
PSUs, banks, insurance companies, railways, airlines, foreign embassies in India
and abroad, judges at the Districts to High Courts and Supreme Court, college
professors and principals, scientists, lawyers, doctors and engineers and
owners/editors of major newspapers and magazines - all the important functions
in the society- even the police department - were dominated by brahmins.

Prior to 1967, there were good number of ministers were also in the state cabinet.

I can say with authority that only after the brahmins exited the teaching
profession, looking for greener pastures elsewhere, the standards of education in
Tamilnadu fell down drastically. Amongst the teachers today - especially, primary
and secondary- how many are as dedicated and selfless, as our brahmin

But, all those are old stories.

5. Do not generalise things on seeing the plight of a small percentage of priests/
purohits and big cooks. How about their assistants? Do they live a decent life?
Are their children not entitled to good higher education? Should not their children
aim for something big like Infosys Narayanamoorthy?
6. Yes, I agree that brahmins today cannot pursue their vedic knowledge and engage
in spiritual/vedanta research. But, should not they be allowed to engage
themselves in related fields suiting them, like Teachers, Lawyers, Judges,
administrators and Ministers, apart from priesthood/purohitam?
What is the way out, in the light of present day reservation system?

Yes true. i am looking at brahmins in cities; and its hard to find poverty amongst them. I have no idea abt brahmins in villages. There will be rich and poor people in all castes or groupings i suppose.
sri pannvalan!

the point is if the brahmins can be well off maintaining their tradition. Without the fundamentals , like Vedic Education, discipline ... even if the brahmins by birth are well -off . does it serve any purpose?

I don't know - may be it serve or may not be... just curious....

Dear Malgova,

Knowing one's roots is certainly better. But, having such search or pursuit as one's
full-time profession, does not help these days. With no guarantee for livelihood -
food and shelter- how can they pull on?

Poverty and hunger will make one lose faith in the Almighty itself. They may compel
one to resort to even ugly and immoral things in real life (though hidden from the public view). Can anyone justify this?

How can one avoid comparison of lifestyles of various people within the close circles?
Everyone is not a 'Sthithapragna' and can lead a detached life. Atleast for their
children's sake, they have to change and accept the changes. There is nothing wrong in this, as long as one remembers where he came from and where he is now.
What is right and what is not shall not be ever forgotten.
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Pannvalan Ji![/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Well said again.[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]There is a proverbial saying “Pasi vanthida Patthum Parakkum”.[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Survival is a vital issue, before that all the other issues have to take backstage. [/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]On the other hand – if mere survival is the only purpose, then social chaos are the result as we all see now. [/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]As one anonymous said – “the problem with the rat race is , even if one wins, he still remains as 'rat'”.[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Survival is important, how we survive is also important. Isn't that so? [/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Regards[/FONT]
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Sri Pannvalan!

Dear Malgova,

Knowing one's roots is certainly better. But, having such search or pursuit as one's
full-time profession, does not help these days. With no guarantee for livelihood -
food and shelter- how can they pull on?

Part-time also helps - see it is a thing to do with the attitude.

Poverty and hunger will make one lose faith in the Almighty itself. They may compel
one to resort to even ugly and immoral things in real life (though hidden from the public view). Can anyone justify this?

Well said, I didn't ask anybody to compromise on one's survival for any imagined beatitude.

How can one avoid comparison of lifestyles of various people within the close circles?
Everyone is not a 'Sthithapragna' and can lead a detached life. Atleast for their
children's sake, they have to change and accept the changes. There is nothing wrong in this, as long as one remembers where he came from and where he is now.
What is right and what is not shall not be ever forgotten.

Change is permanent , but continuity is important. whatever good things we must carry forward the bad things should be eschewed.

We may don't have a protector of dharma , we may not be able to live as per demand of our scriptures - but still we can appreciate the beauty of our culture in many aspects, we can put effort to understand why it is designed in that way, we can share thoughts of the benefits it brings to mankind and so forth right?

See it is one of attitudes - to say that because we didn't follow the religious studies that's why we are well off is not very pleasant to the ears at the least

Sorry, I am mistaken. I never said that reading ancient texts and continuing good age-old practices shall be done away with. I only wanted to emphasize that a brahmin can not be a seeker of universal consciousness always, as prescribed by our ancestors. Atleast for the common folks. While the ideals may be too good to resist, they are impractical in today's world.

As you rightly observed, if any one could do right kind of balancing, he is to be appreciated. But, even certain customs have to change - may be who is to decide what and how may be the subject of debate.

I always quote this 'Thirukkural'.

"Vaiyathul Vazhvangu Vazhvar Vaanuraiyum Deivathul Vaikkappadum"

Therefore, eternal pursuit of God, shall not result in one's failure to meet one's obligations to others in the family and society.
pannvalan ji!

we accept all the four pursuits of human as legitimate.. Did I ever said don't look after your livelihood? why are you repeating that same.

the very term "brahmin" is - knower of universal consciousness , what you mean by can not seek universal consciousness? if cannot seek then how to know ?

practical and impractical are born out by effort , with effort everything is practical, with no effort nothing is practical - learned folks like you should nudge people to put effort - is that too much to ask?

thiruvalluvar said... "......Porut chelvam Pooriyar kannum ula" isn't it.


i will attempt to give you my perspective to your oct 1 note. this is only a very personal distant view from far away, separated not only by distance, but by time as well.

to me, a mind is a terrible thing to waste. years ago, some of my relatives pooled together to help someone who had worked in our grandfather's house and whose grandson needed money for education. that started my rather obscure way of helping our youngsters.

i come from palghat and so kerala has been more my focus. i confes, that i do not know about tamil nadu. but i can give a perspective of kerala. i was told that the situation is not all that different in tamil nadu. that is only hearsay.

my own ancestral agraharam is no more. the street house have/are being demolished for flats. it is not a deliberate assault provoked by other communities, but a result of graduation out migration of our own folks for over 60 years or more.

those that stayed behind are of two kinds: one type has prospered with the land, business and other professions in those villages.

the other group, a much smaller one i am told, have no motivation. they are a contended lot to do whatever has been handed down. one cannot enforce drive. these have many role models, but there are the inevitable drones in any community.

to get ahead in life, one needs to desire it. along with it goes motivation, hard work, discipline, mobility and willingness to relocate. ultimately a sense of joie de vivre. interest in life to be lived.

sitting back, and waiting for the banana to be peeled and dropped into one's mouth is not a viable path to self realization. i was told there a few such leftover in my native haunts. such is life.

pann, also, not all of us are meant to be doctors or i.t. professionals. there are various stratas of living. personally, i would consider, anyone who has a roof, clothing and adequate food, and some money left over, is living within his means. he is indeed a fortunate person.

over and above what is mentioned above, is a poverty of the mind. to feed an unsatiated want of material things. to such types money is never enough. i tell my children, that they need to define their limit, and within it find their contentment.

so, i am not sure when you mean brahmin poor or lower middle class, you talk of those deprived of an education or of their inability to get a motor cycle or scooter.

in the circle that i belong, i have a bias for my charity to be diverted only for post high school education. of late, there have not been many takers for this. many more appeals are to fray medical expenses. not sure if this reflects an aging community or the high cost of treatment or both.

there have been attempts even in this forum to attempt to find money for poor youths for education. there have not been many appeals. it may be the insularity of my life, but when i do look at my kith & kin in india, they and their nearest dearests appear to be comfortably off, in whatever areas of profession they pursue. various stratas of middle class, but none wanting their daily indulgence.

re your observations about how we as a community, used to dominate certain field. those were different times. we have moved along with the winds of change. the world today is broader and wider. along with it, we have moved to new areas.

personally, i think, we as a community as a whole, have never had it so good. i may be ofcourse, deluding myself. it happens.

where pockets of poverty exists, we need to step in to give them that helping hand, so that they too can stand and find comfort in life. poverty sucks.

otherwise, there is no reason, to lament the past.

thank you & God Bless.
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