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Social Justice in Hinduism

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KRS

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Folks,

I live in the U.S. I have been watching the ceremonies surrounding the passing away of Senator Edward Kennedy and his burial today.

One comment that was made by a person close to the Senator struck me.

He said that the Senator was driven by the Catholic faith's concept of social justice. Meaning that the people who are given much have the duty to help the poor. If they do not do it, clearly, in God's eyes they are 'sinners' (an abrahamic religious concept).

Naturally my thoughts turned towards my religion. I wonder why we have such a high percentage of 'untouchables' in our religion. I wonder why our rich do not seem to care much for the poor in our society. I see our notables spending more money on the weddings of their kin than to set up a trust to help our poor.

I would like to discuss in this thread, why this is so? Are we heartless people? What can we do to overcome this?

Let us figure out first steps to overcome this seeming apathy on our part.

Regards,
KRS
 
Untouchability is a `sin'. Even among our own community, great poet Bharathi, Madurai Vaidyanatha Iyer, Rajaji etc fought against this sin during freedom struggle. As a community we are suppose to impart knowledge on others which we have failed to do. Even today if our community people open schools and impart knowledge to the so called `untouchables', we will be doing not only our duty, but can also win lot of hearts.

Present day politicians belonging to almost all political parties are commercialising education. If our community people join together and impart education at school level with a charitable mind, we will be doing to a great service to the society.

Once the society notices our good work, lot of goodwill will be created.

எண்ணாயிரம் ஆண்டு யோகம் இருப்பினும் கண்ணார் அமுதனை கண்டறிவாரில்லை உள் நாடி ஒளி பெற உள்ளே நோக்கினார் கண்ணாடி போல கலந்து நின்றானே
 
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The two primary reasons for untouchability are (i) the belief in reincarnation and (ii) the concept of Karma.

Poorva-janma Karma has served as a convenient and self-serving rationalization for the evil of untouchability. This will remain so unless we as a society reject these two concepts. In this, the Brahmin community shoulders the bulk of the responsibility even though the most virulent acts of untouchability are practiced by people belonging to other dominant castes.

Leaders with influence from the Brahmin community, such as the heads of Mathams and other institutions, must forcefully declare that the Varna system is invalid in Kali Yuga. They must declare that the practice of Varna system is a serious impediment to moksha. They must open up the study of Vedas for everyone and actively enroll everyone in their Veda patashalas. Brahmin leaders rejecting the validity of Varna will shake the very foundation upon which untouchability is built in our culture.

The poor will continue to be dominated by the rich and powerful. But with the Varna system gone, at least there won't be any Brahmins left to blame.

Cheers!
 
The two primary reasons for untouchability are (i) the belief in reincarnation and (ii) the concept of Karma.

Poorva-janma Karma has served as a convenient and self-serving rationalization for the evil of untouchability. This will remain so unless we as a society reject these two concepts. In this, the Brahmin community shoulders the bulk of the responsibility even though the most virulent acts of untouchability are practiced by people belonging to other dominant castes.

Leaders with influence from the Brahmin community, such as the heads of Mathams and other institutions, must forcefully declare that the Varna system is invalid in Kali Yuga. They must declare that the practice of Varna system is a serious impediment to moksha. They must open up the study of Vedas for everyone and actively enroll everyone in their Veda patashalas. Brahmin leaders rejecting the validity of Varna will shake the very foundation upon which untouchability is built in our culture.

The poor will continue to be dominated by the rich and powerful. But with the Varna system gone, at least there won't be any Brahmins left to blame.

Cheers!

Baghavan Adhi Sankara, Mahaan Ramanuja have all rejected untouchablity. We know about Nandanar and Thiruppanazhwar, both reaching the lotus feet of God inspite being born in the so called lowest castes of the society. Mahakavi Bharathi, Rajaji, Madurai Vaidyanatha Iyer etc have all rejected untouchablity. The consitituition gives equal rights for all the citizens of India.

As rightly said above, more than the Brahmins, the other communities wants to practice discremination of dalits which has to be condemned by all of us.

Brahmins should help in dalit development. This will eliminate the past misgivings and at the same time bring better social harmony.

எண்ணாயிரம் ஆண்டு யோகம் இருப்பினும் கண்ணார் அமுதனை கண்டறிவாரில்லை உள் நாடி ஒளி பெற உள்ளே நோக்கினார் கண்ணாடி போல கலந்து நின்றானே
 
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Baghavan Adhi Sankara, Mahaan Ramanuja have all rejected untouchablity.


Neither Adhi Shankara nor Bagavath Ramanuja rejected the Varna system. Rejecting untouchability without eliminating the Varna system is impossible.

Further, it is the ardent followers of Adhi Shankara and Bagavath Ramanuja who are the formost defenders and followers of the Varna system and untouchability.

I don't know much about Adhi Shankara's efforts in support of "untouchables" of yesteryears, but Bhagavat Ramanuja, like a supernova, outshined everyone but alas like a supernova it was for a brief moment in the sordid history of Varna dharma. It is a sad irony that in the presence of his mortal remains in Sri Rangam Udaiyavar Sannidhi, the orthodox Sri Vaishnavas practice hierarchical segregation based on Varna to this very day.

Dalits are slowly awakening. They are getting educated in increasing numbers. They understand the rights the constitution provides. They don't need the help of the Brahmin community. They are fully capable of uplifting themselves within the rights provided by the laws of the land. The primary beneficiaries of rejecting the Varna system is the Brahmin community itself, for there will no longer be any brahmins. Do it out of self-interest.

Cheers!
 
Un-touchability practiced yesteryears are history.Except in very orthodox temples admin,such practices are shunned as a religious directive.But un-touchability is still practiced on the basis of manners,hygeine,power status in society.As we all dont keep hugging every rama,mohan,ranga,Nathan,srinivas,...etc i think.Thank you!.

gopal.
 
If you have watched the recently concluded serial of Cho Ramaswamy `Enge Brahmanan', the present day brahmins could not be classified as `Brahmin' according to `Varnam'. Only as per caste system, they are classified as `Brahmin'. The serial was concluded with the message that there is no true `Brahmin' as per Varnam classification.

However if we say that we are not Brahmins, the Governments in India are not going to accept it. Even if a Brahmin boy marries a girl from some other community, the child will still be classified as Brahmin only. So the Brahmin tag cannot be removed from us as long we are Indian Citizens.

To get out of the situation, the easiest way is to migrate to some other country and get citizenship of that country. Alternatively, if we decide to continue in India, we have to work for social tranformation and it is a long drawn process.

எண்ணாயிரம் ஆண்டு யோகம் இருப்பினும் கண்ணார் அமுதனை கண்டறிவாரில்லை உள் நாடி ஒளி பெற உள்ளே நோக்கினார் கண்ணாடி போல கலந்து நின்றானே
 
If you have watched the recently concluded serial of Cho Ramaswamy `Enge Brahmanan', the present day brahmins could not be classified as `Brahmin' according to `Varnam'. Only as per caste system, they are classified as `Brahmin'. The serial was concluded with the message that there is no true `Brahmin' as per Varnam classification.


IMHO, Enge Brahmanan is an unfortunate attempt to make brahmins feel good about themselves having been marginalized in many ways. It was shocking to watch Cho denigrate women in one of the episodes in which he narrates a story about a sishya protecting his guru's wife by entering her body. To say Cho's views on women are neanderthal is an insult to the long gone species, but I digress.

Trying to differentiate between Varna and caste is plain obfuscation. In practice or in theory there has never been any difference.


However if we say that we are not Brahmins, the Governments in India are not going to accept it. Even if a Brahmin boy marries a girl from some other community, the child will still be classified as Brahmin only. So the Brahmin tag cannot be removed from us as long we are Indian Citizens.

IMHO, it is not about government recognition at all. It is about each individual, especially the leadership, doing some introspection and repudiating the whole system. People like Cho who seem to have considerable influence among the Brahmin community must repudiate Varna/Caste system instead of offering lame stories about how great brahmins were in an imaginary long gone era. Instead of looking for the government to eradicate the Varna/caste system brahmins everywhere must reject it for its own sake.

Cheers!
 
Dear Sri Nara Ji,

I agree with your Karma based theory as the root cause for untouchability today.

I also agree that in both Adi Shankara's and Sri Ramanuja's message about the 'Chandalas' got overrun by orthodoxy over time.

I think the solution to recognize the dalits as the equal members of Hinduism, should start not where Brahmins saying that there are no Jaathis. Even if we do that I do not think all other forward Jaathis would agree to that. A true transformation in this regard should start with what Swami Vivekananda said.

He wanted all Jaathis should emulate the model of Brahmin, who is the model of the 'ideal man' in our religion. This means all other Jaathis emulating and adapting to a Brahminical way of life - life of study, dedication, altruism and piety. Opening up the study of the scriptures to all can be done, if this is to be attempted.

As you said, over time the Dalits will and should advance. Qustion is how to keep them in the Hindu fold, by showing them that our religion and practices towards them have changed.

Regards,
KRS
 
Dear Shri KRS:

His public statements not withstanding, I don't think Ted Kennedy's dedication to progressive causes stemmed from his religion. After all Catholicism brought untold misery to the native populations of the present day Latin America. Ted Kennedy was a good man in spite of his religion. We have had such men in India too, men like Vinobha Bhave, not to mention Mahatma Gandhi. One of their followers, Mrs. Krishnammal Jagannathan, a dalit woman by birth, was recognized with the Right Livelihood Award aka Alternative Nobel Prize last year. There are many more people like Mrs. Krishnammal. These are the people we must hold up as role models for our youngsters.

Associating sublime qualities such as dedication, compassion, altruism, etc., and the idea of "ideal" man with "Brahmins" may seem natural to those belonging to the Brahmin community. But this is not going to go very well with anyone not a Brahmin. Why can't we say that these sublime qualities define a Shudra, an ideal man? Words have effect. By saying Brhmanahood is the ideal we are introducing unnecessary misunderstandings. This is why the entire Varna/Jati system and the corresponding nomenclature must be thrown out. There are other alternative visions of human ideals available to Tamils, namely, the vision articulated by Thirvalluvar. Except for gender issues Thirvalluvar offers a benign model without the baggage that comes with the word "Brahmin" or the phrase "Brahmnical way of life".

Complete eradication of the Varna/jati will not come about by its rejection by Brahmins alone. Other dominant castes must also give up the supremacist ideas. But that should not prevent the Brahmin community from doing the right thing.

Cheers!

p.s. I am sorry to learn Tamil only posts are not allowed. Not all posts are properly understood by everyone even when written in English. Just my 2 cents.
 
I do not have subscription to Jaya TV and therefore i cud not see the Enge Brahmanan serial. Has it concluded or is it still running? Could anyone please tell me if VCDs or DVDs of this serial are available for sale in anyshop in Chennai? Thankyou.
 
Dear Sri Nara Ji,

My response in 'blue' below:

Dear Shri KRS:

His public statements not withstanding, I don't think Ted Kennedy's dedication to progressive causes stemmed from his religion. After all Catholicism brought untold misery to the native populations of the present day Latin America. Ted Kennedy was a good man in spite of his religion.
Sir, every religion has it's warts. I do not subscribe to the idea that any of the major religions is totally bad. 'Social Justice' is the central theme of Christ's teaching as emphasized by the Catholic church. Yes, Senator Kennedy was probably a good man, but I can not jump to the conclusion as you have done in light of his several friends and his widow stating that his religion was the reason for his liberal thinking and his concern for the disadvantaged.
We have had such men in India too, men like Vinobha Bhave, not to mention Mahatma Gandhi. One of their followers, Mrs. Krishnammal Jagannathan, a dalit woman by birth, was recognized with the Right Livelihood Award aka Alternative Nobel Prize last year. There are many more people like Mrs. Krishnammal. These are the people we must hold up as role models for our youngsters.
Yes, I agree.

Associating sublime qualities such as dedication, compassion, altruism, etc., and the idea of "ideal" man with "Brahmins" may seem natural to those belonging to the Brahmin community. But this is not going to go very well with anyone not a Brahmin. Why can't we say that these sublime qualities define a Shudra, an ideal man? Words have effect. By saying Brhmanahood is the ideal we are introducing unnecessary misunderstandings. This is why the entire Varna/Jati system and the corresponding nomenclature must be thrown out.
The 'ideal man' paradigm is not from me - I borrowed it from Swami Vivekananda. He has lectured extensively about it. One of his lectures in Kumbakonam is attached:
Lectures of Swami Vivekananda - Frank Parlato Jr.
I am reproducing here what he said about an 'ideal man' in Hinduism:
"By the Brahmin ideal, what do I mean? I mean the ideal Brahmin-ness, in which worldliness is altogether absent and true wisdom is abundantly present"
Please read the speech and you will understand what he meant. This has nothing to do with putting down other Varnas. It is all about how our society within the context of our religion evolved. You can not just wish it away. By the way, I do not agree with your statement that the Varna system and the Jaathi system are one and the same. They are not the same. The former is an ideal that existed one time in a then advanced society and the latter is a degraded shell of the former that is dysfunctional, not suited to today's society.
There are other alternative visions of human ideals available to Tamils, namely, the vision articulated by Thirvalluvar. Except for gender issues Thirvalluvar offers a benign model without the baggage that comes with the word "Brahmin" or the phrase "Brahmnical way of life".
I believe in an evolutionary way of a society changing. Any model that is totally opposite to today's model can only be acheived by love and sympathy over a long time. While I am a progressive, I do not want to progress at the expense of hurting the well meaning orthodoxy in our religion. This is the stand of Swami Vivekananda and I totally agree with him. As he said, "cursing and vilifying and abusing do not and can not produce anything good" Your suggestion that Brahmins should shuck their Jathi is impractical and is hurtful to scores of our brethren who believe in their traditions. This can not realistically be accomplished even over a long period. The alternative is to follow the Swamy's advice.

Complete eradication of the Varna/jati will not come about by its rejection by Brahmins alone. Other dominant castes must also give up the supremacist ideas. But that should not prevent the Brahmin community from doing the right thing.
Again, you are dealing with ideas on the theoretical level. Why would one Jaathi give up their identity when others wont and these identities have relative social value? How do the Dalits who are at the bottom benefit when a very small percentage at the apex of the system give up their identity while the majority of their tormentors will not? This is not logical.

Cheers!

p.s. I am sorry to learn Tamil only posts are not allowed. Not all posts are properly understood by everyone even when written in English. Just my 2 cents.
Well, True, given the fact that I could not properly make my views undertood by you in my previous posting. But the issue here is not about preventing anyone from posting in Tamil, but rather to make sure that our sizeable minority in this Forum who do not know Tamil to NOT feel the way I am usually made to feel in a group of North Indians - they automatically assume that i know Hindi (which I do not) and carry on in Hindi even when they come to know that I do not know the language.
Regards,
KRS
 
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I do not have subscription to Jaya TV and therefore i cud not see the Enge Brahmanan serial. Has it concluded or is it still running? Could anyone please tell me if VCDs or DVDs of this serial are available for sale in anyshop in Chennai? Thankyou.

The serial is already concluded and I am not sure whether any CD or DVD available. Cho wrote the whole story almost 35 year back in Thuglak magazine. He subsequently published it in a book form also.

I am able to find the publisher also since nothing is listed in the website.

Probably you can contact Thuglak magazine for a copy of the book

All the best

எண்ணாயிரம் ஆண்டு யோகம் இருப்பினும் கண்ணார் அமுதனை கண்டறிவாரில்லை உள் நாடி ஒளி பெற உள்ளே நோக்கினார் கண்ணாடி போல கலந்து நின்றானே
 
Dear Shri KRS:

Greetings!

[...] every religion has it's warts. I do not subscribe to the idea that any of the major religions is totally bad.
I agree. Religion is a mixed bag. Some aspects are good and some are bad. It is the innate goodness of a person that makes him or her take the good and leave the bad. The credit goes to the innate goodness, not to the religion that has both good and bad. We do not need religion to be good, but religion makes a lot of otherwise good people do terrible things.

[...] The 'ideal man' paradigm is not from me - I borrowed it from Swami Vivekananda. He has lectured extensively about it.

I have not a read a lot of Swami Vivekananda. I will go through the lecture you have cited. However, with due respects to Swami Vivekananda and without taking away any of his greatness, I humbly submit that in this respect I think he is wrong. The word "Brahmin" comes with a lot of baggage. It is better to not use that word to describe an ideal human being.

[...] By the way, I do not agree with your statement that the Varna system and the Jaathi system are one and the same.

I guess we have to agree to disagree. But let me point out that the great law giver Manu and even Lord Sri Krishna are on my side. Manu describes in excruciating detail the Varna of off-springs arising out of union between different Varnas, Lord Sri Krishna does not leave any doubt that the four Varnas are determined by birth in Shlokas 33 and 34 of chapter 9 of Srimat Bhagavath Geetha.


[...] Your suggestion that Brahmins should shuck their Jathi is impractical and is hurtful to scores of our brethren who believe in their traditions. This can not realistically be accomplished even over a long period. The alternative is to follow the Swamy's advice.

Yes, I agree that my view is impractical. But it is hurtful to only those clinging to supremacist ideas. Besides, I think Swami Vivekananda's advice you have quoted is no more practical. If gunas determine Varna let us see whether any orthodox brahmana, who will feel hurt if drastic changes are introduced, will accept either Mahatma Gandhi or Mrs. Krishnammal Jagannathan as brahmains.


[...] How do the Dalits who are at the bottom benefit when a very small percentage at the apex of the system give up their identity while the majority of their tormentors will not? This is not logical.

Even though Brahmins constitute a very small percentage of the population they sit at the top of the caste hierarchy. Further, they are the guardians of religious tradition. If they abandon the Varna/Jati system it will be a big deal. Also, as I have already mentioned in an earlier post, the beneficiaries of this are not going to be Dalits, it is the Brahmins themselves.

I am sure we are not going to agree on everything. From what you have said I think we do agree on the important aspects of this issue. I thank you for the interesting exchange we have had.

Cheers!
 
Dear Sri Nara Ji,

I agree with your Karma based theory as the root cause for untouchability today.

I also agree that in both Adi Shankara's and Sri Ramanuja's message about the 'Chandalas' got overrun by orthodoxy over time.

I think the solution to recognize the dalits as the equal members of Hinduism, should start not where Brahmins saying that there are no Jaathis. Even if we do that I do not think all other forward Jaathis would agree to that. A true transformation in this regard should start with what Swami Vivekananda said.

He wanted all Jaathis should emulate the model of Brahmin, who is the model of the 'ideal man' in our religion. This means all other Jaathis emulating and adapting to a Brahminical way of life - life of study, dedication, altruism and piety. Opening up the study of the scriptures to all can be done, if this is to be attempted.

As you said, over time the Dalits will and should advance. Qustion is how to keep them in the Hindu fold, by showing them that our religion and practices towards them have changed.

Regards,
KRS

I don't understand how belief in karma is the root cause of untouchability. Do people actually walk past another being who is suffering and say "That's his karma." If so, then it is a ridiculously poor understanding of karma. Its also the person's karma for you to be there at that moment. Its his karma for you to feed him. This is just a poor excuse to set your self on a self positioned pedestal. Besides, it would follow that if you believe in reincarnation, then wouldn't you be put in the same position in a future life to balance things out?

Anbe Sivamayam Satyame Parasivam
 
Sirs,Jadhi is just classification of human nature.Those who constantly sing the praise of the lord,who sacrifice for the sake of the lord,those who follow sastrams,recite the vedams,upanishads,explain scriptures for the public to understand,ahimsa,sathyam,prmam,dharmam..etc such noble qualities to be followed and make others follow is the duty of brahmana,lead by example.This is what i am thinking,dunno if i am correct.

Untouchability is primarily a hygeine matter,which became a religious matter,as ancient indians only feared god and all that rituals of karma nasham,and only thru religion things could be implemented.Even science were tinged with religious spells of incantations,make people obey and live in a disciplined manner.That is why present day brahmins are unable to follow such strict regimen of sastras,as they see people having fun and enjoying life of comfort and happiness.For brahmins life is so serious and he hates himself thereby inviting hates from other people on account of poor self-esteem.But thankfully our leaders are all helping evryone rise above such narrow minded thinking.Truly,we got good leaders,i think.Thank you.

gopal.
 
Some views:

I guess we have to agree to disagree. But let me point out that the great law giver Manu and even Lord Sri Krishna are on my side. Manu describes in excruciating detail the Varna of off-springs arising out of union between different Varnas, Lord Sri Krishna does not leave any doubt that the four Varnas are determined by birth in Shlokas 33 and 34 of chapter 9 of Srimat Bhagavath Geetha.

Manu's words and Lord Krishna's words have been interpreted by diff sections in diff ways. To a uttramimansaka vedantin, yes varna is determined by birth but it is independent of jaathi (or the occupation group into which a child is born). To sections of the purvamimansaka, occupation groups or jaatis are assigned a varna and both (varna and jaati) are linked since an occupation too is begotten based on the vasanas or conditioned states of the previous births.

Each school of thot has its own literature and valid basis to it. There are no right or wrongs here. Neither does it warrant comparison. Each individual follows his mind and heart. Just because one interprets 2+2=4, does not mean that one who interprets 3+1=4 becomes wrong. All paths are valid, all definitions of each path is valid, all methods are valid.



Yes, I agree that my view is impractical. But it is hurtful to only those clinging to supremacist ideas. Besides, I think Swami Vivekananda's advice you have quoted is no more practical. If gunas determine Varna let us see whether any orthodox brahmana, who will feel hurt if drastic changes are introduced, will accept either Mahatma Gandhi or Mrs. Krishnammal Jagannathan as brahmains.

May i ask on what basis would one consider Swami Vivekanada's advice as not practical anymore. Not sure why anyone wud wish to see Mahatma Gandhi as a brahmin. Is there any necessity to introduce 'drastic changes'? dunno who is Krishnammal Jagannathan, will google and read on her later.

Even though Brahmins constitute a very small percentage of the population they sit at the top of the caste hierarchy.

Who said so?


Further, they are the guardians of religious tradition.

Again, who said so? No one knows who the writers of the Upanishads were. Same goes for the saiva siddhantam, siddha traditions, avadhoota sampradayas, and several monastic traditions. Many sages were from various occupation backgrounds. Example: Narada was a sage, but was the son of a maid.

If they abandon the Varna/Jati system it will be a big deal. Also, as I have already mentioned in an earlier post, the beneficiaries of this are not going to be Dalits, it is the Brahmins themselves.

Each one is entitled to follow his own way of life. No one has any right to interefere with anyone's way of living or force anyone to change or abandon anything. There is something called 'kaala' or time. Everything that happens in that time frame appears to be destained. And not sure about 'beneficiaries'? Could you please elaborate on what you mean to say are the 'benefits' for anyone?

I don't understand how belief in karma is the root cause of untouchability. Do people actually walk past another being who is suffering and say "That's his karma." If so, then it is a ridiculously poor understanding of karma. Its also the person's karma for you to be there at that moment. Its his karma for you to feed him. This is just a poor excuse to set your self on a self positioned pedestal. Besides, it would follow that if you believe in reincarnation, then wouldn't you be put in the same position in a future life to balance things out?

Am sure what KRSji meant was that the skewed up understanding of karma became the root cause of untouchability. No sir, nowhere does the theory, interpretation and application of 'karma' say that one who suffers should be left to suffer. Reaching to a fellow being to the best of one's abilities is the basis of any faith.

Anbe Sivamayam Satyame Parasivam

The serial is already concluded and I am not sure whether any CD or DVD available. Cho wrote the whole story almost 35 year back in Thuglak magazine. He subsequently published it in a book form also.

I am able to find the publisher also since nothing is listed in the website.

Probably you can contact Thuglak magazine for a copy of the book

All the best

எண்ணாயிரம் ஆண்டு யோகம் இருப்பினும் கண்ணார் அமுதனை கண்டறிவாரில்லை உள் நாடி ஒளி பெற உள்ளே நோக்கினார் கண்ணாடி போல கலந்து நின்றானே

Thank you sir. Searched online and found 5 episodes, will download and watch later. Will ask someone to buy old issues of Thuglak magazine from Chennai.
 
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The term `Social Justice' is invented by politicians of Tamilnadu particularly of Dravidian Parties. The Dravidian parties have sown the seeds that Brahmins have been exploiting other communities from time immemorial.

If we go back to the history, Brahmins never ruled Tamilnadu & Kerala put together or parts there off before British invasion. The kings have supported brahmins for the reasons best known to them. But none of the Kings were brahmins.

Even during British rule, while some of the brahmins were working under British Government to just make their living and majority of the TB community has opposed the British rule. Some people from our community have even taken up arms like Veera Vanchinatha Iyer. Can anybody show a single person from any other community like Veera Vanchi who sacrificed his life for the freedom struggle.

Communist movement in Tamilnadu was propagated by people like P.Ramamurthi, ASK Iyengar and others. In Kerala also, EMS & Justice Krishna Iyer were in the forefront of the class struggle.

Again untouchability and other social evils were fought by people like Subramanya Bharathi, Madurai Vaidyanatha Iyer and Rajaji.

Brahmins have promoted Tamil Language from time immemorial. Even in the last century, Subramanya Bharathi, U.Ve.Swaminatha Iyer and others have done great service to the Tamil Language.

However after independence, the dravidian movement people have some how managed to succeed in their propagation that we have exploited other communities from time immemorial.

It is difficult to undo the damage but atleast we have to make the younger generation of other communities understand that we are no way responsible for their problems.

Now politicians of other communities are only controlling educational instituitions and exploiting their own people with capitation fee and other charges. Till Congress rule in 1967, education at schools were free. Now school education in Tamilnadu is one of the costliest in the whole country. College education those days were subsidised but now it has become self financing offcourse with very high capitation fee.

Most of our community has vocated medical field. Now not only quality has gone down, but even unethical practices are going on to a great extent.

Brahmins have stopped applying for Government jobs for almost three or four decades. But there is rampant corruption among the government servants.

I earnestly feel that we are not propagating all the above through right forums. Unless the message is properly conveyed, the bramin baiting will go on for ever.

எண்ணாயிரம் ஆண்டு யோகம் இருப்பினும் கண்ணார் அமுதனை கண்டறிவாரில்லை உள் நாடி ஒளி பெற உள்ளே நோக்கினார் கண்ணாடி போல கலந்து நின்றானே
 
Manu's words and Lord Krishna's words have been interpreted by diff sections in diff ways.

(The context here is the question whether Varna and Jati are the same. Shri KRS stated that they are not the same, while Jati is determined by birth, Varna is necessarily not. My view is that Varna and Jati in essence are the same -- each Varna may consist of many Jathis, but Varna is determined by birth.)

Please read Chapter 10 of Manu Smrithi and tell me in what way those verses can possibly be interpreted to mean Varna is determined by anything other than birth. Here it must be noted that Manu Smrithi is considered by all orthodox Vaideekas as the foremost of authorities second only to the Vedas.

In the case of Srimat Bhagavat Geetha, once again, please read the Shlokas I quoted and tell me in what way those two verses can be interpreted that would not connect birth to Varnas. Lord Sri Krishna identifies the four Varnas by name (Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Shudra) and uses the word "Yonayaha" which cannot be interpreted as anything but relating to reproduction through the union of a man and a woman, viz. birth.

May i ask on what basis would one consider Swami Vivekanada's advice as not practical anymore. Not sure why anyone wud wish to see Mahatma Gandhi as a brahmin.

This question will not arise if you read the exchanges carefully. I was answering a claim that Swami Vivekananda advised that all Jatis should emulate the model of Brahmin and following his advice is more practical than what I am advocating, namely, complete rejection of the Varna system. It is in this context that I asked the rhetorical question whether orthodox brahmins will accept someone like Mahatma Gandhi, who probably emulated the so called model Brahmin if any, as a Brahmin. The point was, they won't, and therefore following Swami Vivekananda's advice is just as impractical as mine if the goal is to achieve a socially and culturally egalitarian society.

Even though Brahmins constitute a very small percentage of the population they sit at the top of the caste hierarchy.

Who said so?

:) Which part of this are you really questioning, "very small percentage" or "top of caste hierarchy"? Consider the following verse from Manu Smrithi.

10.3. On account of his pre-eminence, on account of the superiority of his origin, on account of his observance of particular restrictive rules, and on account of his particular sanctification, the Brahmin is the lord of all castes (varnas).​

Further, they are the guardians of religious tradition.

Again, who said so? No one knows who the writers of the Upanishads were. Same goes for the saiva siddhantam, siddha traditions, avadhoota sampradayas, and several monastic traditions. Many sages were from various occupation backgrounds. Example: Narada was a sage, but was the son of a maid.

Upanishads being part of the Vedas, the orthodox Vaideekas believe them to be aupurusheya, i.e. not authored by anyone. If you are a Hindu, a happy one at that, you must believe this :).

There has been some push back from others in the recent past, but the keepers of Vedas are the guardians of the (Vaideeka) religious tradition is self evident. While the three dwaja varnas are allowed to study the Vedas, only the brahmanas are allowed to teach the Vedas.

And not sure about 'beneficiaries'? Could you please elaborate on what you mean to say are the 'benefits' for anyone?
I was responding to what Shri KRS had written. He was wondering how the brahmins abandoning the Varna system benefit Dalits. My response was that the brahmins themselves will be beneficiaries of such action as they will no longer be practicing or defending a pernicious system.

Cheers!
 
Thank you for your detailed response. Yes, there are points we agree on. My comments below.

Dear Shri KRS:

Greetings!


I agree. Religion is a mixed bag. Some aspects are good and some are bad. It is the innate goodness of a person that makes him or her take the good and leave the bad. The credit goes to the innate goodness, not to the religion that has both good and bad. We do not need religion to be good, but religion makes a lot of otherwise good people do terrible things.
Religions are but attempts to understand the role of the human beings in the Universe, crafted in the language of culture and customs of the particular peoples. They do not command anything bad. It is the (mis)interpretations of them for deeds that make them good or bad. Like a gun never kills on it's own, but can be used for both good and bad, so is the religion. Very many inherently 'bad' people did and do find cover in religions to justify their dastardly acts.

I have not a read a lot of Swami Vivekananda. I will go through the lecture you have cited. However, with due respects to Swami Vivekananda and without taking away any of his greatness, I humbly submit that in this respect I think he is wrong. The word "Brahmin" comes with a lot of baggage. It is better to not use that word to describe an ideal human being.
Just because a word is viewed with negative connotations by a small group of activists, I would not throw it away. With this logic, there will barely be any words left to keep. 'Brahmin' is a very beautiful Sanskrit word that deigns to represent the highest ideals of a human being in our civilization. The problem is not the word. As I said, words do not hurt. It is how some people use them. There is a very small minority who think that this word is bad.

Varna is different from Jathi - the former is a work divisional system for the then existing society's structure that was based on meritocracy (story of Jabala in the Upanishads) and not by birth in to a family Varna. Jathi is exact opposite and as job classifications increased, so did the Jathi system to preserve the family livelihood and so degenerated. The only thing bad about the Varna system was that our otherwise brilliant great rishis did not foresee the degeneration of such a noble system over time.
I guess we have to agree to disagree. But let me point out that the great law giver Manu and even Lord Sri Krishna are on my side. Manu describes in excruciating detail the Varna of off-springs arising out of union between different Varnas, Lord Sri Krishna does not leave any doubt that the four Varnas are determined by birth in Shlokas 33 and 34 of chapter 9 of Srimat Bhagavath Geetha.
I do not place any relevancy to the Manu Shastra. Because it was allowed to be modified over time, we do not know the authorship or the motive. Many Hindu luminaries, including Swami Vivekananda Ji have disavowed it's edicts. Regarding Bhagavd Gita, I am surprised that you think that 'it clearly' states Varna is by birth. The question is not whether Varna is by 'birth' or not. By clearly connecting it to guna, Gita ofcourse says what is obvious - that the Varnas are represented at birth by those possessing certain gunas. I do not think that there is a single place where it avers that one is born ito one's family varna. Most of the scholors take the view that one is not belonging to the varna of one's father just by being born in to a family. One is classified to a varna based on one's aptitude. Your's is decidedly a very miniscule minorty view.

Yes, I agree that my view is impractical. But it is hurtful to only those clinging to supremacist ideas. Besides, I think Swami Vivekananda's advice you have quoted is no more practical. If gunas determine Varna let us see whether any orthodox brahmana, who will feel hurt if drastic changes are introduced, will accept either Mahatma Gandhi or Mrs. Krishnammal Jagannathan as brahmains.
Sir, you are wrong. It is hurtful to even to those silent majority who just follow the scriptures, leading a life of piety. To them they are living a brahminical way of life and they do not think about, let alone discriminate against other jathis. I do not think they care whether others become brahmins - they simply do not care about other worldly matters. You are talking about a very small percentage of our orthodoxy who do harbour the views you allege. I call them pseudo-brahmins or the twenty percenters, who create this issue. But I am not willing to tell all brahmins, that because of this unthinking few, they need to give up their identity.

Even though Brahmins constitute a very small percentage of the population they sit at the top of the caste hierarchy. Further, they are the guardians of religious tradition. If they abandon the Varna/Jati system it will be a big deal. Also, as I have already mentioned in an earlier post, the beneficiaries of this are not going to be Dalits, it is the Brahmins themselves.
Again, yours is an idealistic vision that can never happen. This is why I like Swami Vivekananda's call to action that can happen, though hard to acheive, is in the realm of possibility.
I am sure we are not going to agree on everything. From what you have said I think we do agree on the important aspects of this issue. I thank you for the interesting exchange we have had.
Yes, I agree. Over time I have moved away from the position of viewing religion as a problem to viewing the practice of a religion in today's life as one of the most important issues facing all religions.
Cheers!

Regards,
KRS
 
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Daer Sri Eastern Mind Ji,

Excellent question. And Srimathi Happy Hindi Ji answered on my behalf, which is my stance.

Like you said elsewhere, the untouchability mainly came about because it was believed that the low spirits of the astral world are attracted to people who associate with the things to which these spirits would supposedly be attracted to, such as blood, fesces, meat, leather, dead bodies, etc. So, over time these people became outcasts and then the Jathi system made sure that they can never escape their situation. This is why they are denied admission to the temples.

So, it is easy to justify this saying that it is their karma to be born this way. Superstition driving the untouchability and the karma theory justifying such an action.

But you are correct. In all this one forgets about one's own dharma, which is to treat others with respect one would give to God. Even Shiva had to remind this to Adi Shankara and a lowly housewife and a butcher had to explain this to a haughty Viswamitra.

Regards,
KRS


I don't understand how belief in karma is the root cause of untouchability. Do people actually walk past another being who is suffering and say "That's his karma." If so, then it is a ridiculously poor understanding of karma. Its also the person's karma for you to be there at that moment. Its his karma for you to feed him. This is just a poor excuse to set your self on a self positioned pedestal. Besides, it would follow that if you believe in reincarnation, then wouldn't you be put in the same position in a future life to balance things out?

Anbe Sivamayam Satyame Parasivam
 
Thank you for the reply. Its good to hear that at least some or perhaps most still have what I consider proper understanding of karma. We have some of the same problems of social injustice here too, BTW. Here the outcasts are the first peoples or aboriginals. That attitude arrived here in North America about the same time as the arrival of Europeans. Perhaps the same happened in the history of India. I really don't know when the caste system started deteriorating into social injustice.

Aum Namasivaya
 
Dear Shri KRS:

Greetings!

Very many inherently 'bad' people did and do find cover in religions to justify their dastardly acts.

Not only religion gives shelter to bad acts of bad people it makes otherwise good people indulge in bad acts, such as the practice of untouchability. I know of many great scholars who live in the most observant way possible and full of bhakthi, etc. etc., yet practice untouchability to this very day. One such sincere and observant Vaideeka who lived near Uppiliappan Kovil refused to enter the temple after it was opened up for entry to all some 60 years ago. We do not need religion to be good, but religion makes a lot of otherwise good people do terrible things.


I do not place any relevancy to the Manu Shastra.

This is understandable, who would want to be associated with Manu in this day and age. If Swami Vivekananda rejected Manu I salute him. That makes him not a Vaideeka. I challenge you Sir, ask any orthodox Vaideeka to repudiate Manu Smirthi. Paramacharya did not. None of the present day Sankaracharyas will repudiate it. None of the other brahmincal orders would repudiate it.

By clearly connecting it to guna, Gita ofcourse says what is obvious - that the Varnas are represented at birth by those possessing certain gunas. I do not think that there is a single place where it avers that one is born ito one's family varna.

Well, this is distinction without a difference. In any case, Sri Krishna says female, Vaisya, and Shudra are born out of sinful Yoni, whereas the brahmana and kahstriya are born out of puNya. Look up what Yoni means and make up your own mind as to what is meant.

Further, Arjuna declares in Shloka 41 of Chapter 1 that Varna Sankraha, i.e. mixing of Varna, will result if the women of the clan become blemished. Further, in the next Shloka, Arjuna says that due to the mixing of Varna, the virtues of Jati and Kulam (clan) that have existed from beginning-less time, will be destroyed. In this Shloka, Arjuna makes a clear connection between Varna and Jati. Finally, in Shloka 44, Arjuna cites the authority of clan elders for this position. So, Arjuna claims, on the authority of elders, mixing of Varna/Jati will result if the chastity of women is not preserved.

If Varna is strictly determined by one’s guna and conduct and is not a function of one’s birth, why does he need to protect the chastity of women?

In the seventeen chapters that follow, Lord Sri Krishna never once disputes Arjuna on this issue of connection between Varna and birth. He dispels Arjuna of many of his delusions, yet the Lord chooses not to dispel him of this one. The Lord does speak of Varna several times in the course of his teachings to Arjuna, yet, never once does he correct him on this connection. Instead he reinforces the connection between Varna and birth in Chapter 9.

... those silent majority who just follow the scriptures, leading a life of piety

Come, come Shri KRS, "silent majority"! The silent majority of brahmanas want to get an IT job in USA, not that there is anything wrong with that.

If Varna system is strictly based on gunas, then who is to tell who has brahmana gunas and who has khstriya gunas, etc.? Or, is it based on one's occupation he/she stumbles upon? Then we can't claim it is based on gunas; it is based on the occupation one happens to be in irrespective of gunas. Or, is Varna just the nature of a person not supposed to be known to others? Then, this elaborate classification system has no practical value.

The Vaideeka brahmanas don't care what other people think. They proudly hold on to the hoary supremacist and patriarchal brahmnical tradition and culture that views Varna as birth based. I do think they are otherwise good and kind people, but this religious tradition makes them unapologetically hold on to this supremacist ideology.

However, this is rather embarrassing to the brahmins educated in secular institutions with advanced degrees in science and arts. So they try their darnedest to separate the Varna system from the jati system. But there is ample evidence, both textual and practical, that Varna and Jati are one and the same. Just go back and look at both Tamil and Sanskrit literature. They speak for themselves.

Cheers!
 
Vannakam:

I suppose I should clarify that it is only my understanding of karma I alluded to, not 'proper'. I apologize for using that word as it is ego based in 'right' vs 'wrong' . Everyone has an understanding, and to each it is the right understanding for them. It is also a vast topic.

My limited understanding is that karma is a minute by minute thing. Each time you make a decision or action,, it is karma you are creating. I don't believe in good or bad karma, just karma. For every action there is an equal reaction. It is not like an eye for an eye, however. The impact of suffering would be the same in the end, and it wouldn't come directly back at you, but it may. One analogy that makes sense to me is a group of children passing a football around. The football represents karma, and the children are souls passing it around. In other words, its reasonably complicated. It may come from another lifetime, or from this one.

You can also have karma impact lessened your karma via prayer, penance, or the Grace of a Guru or God. We should accept our karma with dignity, and not go about whining, "Why me?" At the same time we shouldn't use karma as an excuse for laziness or inaction. "Oh, it's my karma not to get a job." without even trying. Or worse yet, "It's his karma so I won't help."

So this is in a nutshell my understanding. So I would also be interested in your further or contradicting insights, Nara.

Aum Namasivaya
 
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