[Advaita-l] shudra

Anbu sivam2 anbesivam2 at gmail.com
Thu Aug 20 09:04:17 CDT 2009

As you know when the Hindu kings of yore faught against each other it made
no impact on the varna system.  It was only at the advent of Buddhist and
Jain religions that the system got affected.  These religions opened up the
gnana maarga that reqired the abandonment of karma to all and sundry whereas
Sanathana Dharma had reserved it for the Brahmins only, the reason being
that the society can ill-afford the non-Brahmins varnas to abandon their
karma and dharma..  Buddhism and Jainism are avaidhic religions and so the
varnasrama dharma were not theirs to follow.  Particularly under Buddhism
the need for Brahmins as a community was not required and this alone caused
the clash between the Brahmins and the Buddhists.  When the kings switched
over to Buddhism they could not depend on the ancient dhaarmic
self-restraints on the part of different communities as the kshathriyas got
weaker and varna mingling was unavoidable.  Actually there was near chaos in
the law and order situation and for the first time the kings (not rishis)
were called to enact laws of restrictions on the communities.  The first and
foremost was the forbiddance of intermingling (untouchability) was
introduced.  This is how secular law started!  However many kings started to
revert back to Hinduism as it was more easier to rule under the dhaarmic
system.  There were also wars among the Hindu and Buddhist kings.  The ones
who constituted the kshathriyas under the Buddhist were never absorbed back
into the Hindu kshathriya community and they were enslaved and formed the
fifth varna of outcasts.  In modern days the occupations held by the sudhras
have also vanished mostly to mechanization and they are also joing this
fifth varna who are now probably called the dalits.  This constitute a great
reservoir of inertia and the modern politicians who are mostly the vaisyas
use them to wreak havoc on the already strained varna system by targetting
the weak Brahmins.

On Wed, Aug 19, 2009 at 11:54 PM, Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>wrote:

> On Mon, 17 Aug 2009, Michael Shepherd wrote:
>  I would be happy to clear up this matter of 'shudra' with the help of
>> members here : it is clearly an aspect of advaita, yet there seems to be a
>> confusion about the real meaning of the term -- and thus, whether it has
>> any
>> relevance in today's society..
>> The confusions seem to be two in particular : first, that varna and jati
>> and
>> 'caste' are randomly used in relation to shudra; and second, that by
>> translating it as 'labourer' rather than 'servant' there is a sense of
>> inferiority implied.
> A big problem is the varna system as depicted in books bears little
> relation to the system that actually exists in Indian society.  The Shudra
> varna as a sociological category is meaningless.  Shudra castes include
> economically dominant landholders, professionals and artisans as well as the
> oppressed and downtrodden.  And this is not new, in fact it has been the
> state of affairs for all of Indias recorded history.  Even in the shastras
> it is not cut and dry.  For instance of the two examples Shankaracharya
> gives of Shudras who were jnanis, one Dharmavyadha was a hunter and butcher
> of meat but the other Vidura was the minister of the Kurus, hardly a servile
> position.
>  Yet if the definition of 'servant' and 'service' is applied, it is
>> immediately obvious that one can serve kings, ministers, brahmins,
>> kshatriyas, and anyone else -- paid or unpaid -- with the highest
>> faithfulness, skills, devotion, and knowledge.
>> How then can any spiritual gifts be denied to shudras ? How can shudra be
>> seen as
>> next to dalit in some map of society ?
> If Shudra means anything at all it is they are not dvija or twice-born.
> That means they are not entitled to initiation into the study of the Vedas.
>  The problem is that the Upanishads are the basis of Vedanta and being part
> of the Vedas, it would prima facie seem to mean that Shudras (and women, and
> foreigners etc.) are not eligible to study Vedanta and achieve moksha.  This
> view was indeed held by some thinkers and even in the Smarta tradition,
> there are some orders that do not accept non-dvija or non-Brahmanas.
> But this is not the majority view and Shankaracharya explains why.  The
> function of the karmakanda of the Vedas is to produce the desired goal
> (icchita phala) by means of accumulating merit and avoiding sin.  This goal
> once acquired is enjoyed until it becomes exhausted whereupon the cycle has
> to begin again.  Adhikara or eligibility for karma legitimately depends on
> external factors (along with caste they could include, gender, age, wealth,
> region, level of education, etc.) because the body itself is the product of
> this process of karma. However jnana is different.  Brahman is not a thing
> to be acquired neither can it be lost as it is the indwelling essence of all
> that is.  One who posesses qualities such as chetana (awareness), viveka
> (the ability to discriminate between real and non-real,) vairagya
> (renunciation of material things) etc. has the adhikara to know Brahman.
>  And as it is plainly evident that the non-dvija are capable of posessing
> such qualities.
> So much for theory but the practical problem still remains.  Without access
> to the Vedas _how_ will non-dvija get the knowledge that leads to
> liberation?  Bhagavan Krishna Dvaipayana who is called Vedavyasa because of
> organizing the Vedas into four, also took the essence of the Vedas and
> composed the Mahabharata (which contains the Bhagavadgita, Sanatasujatiyam
> etc.) and the 18 puranas culminating in the Bhagavata.  By studying these
> (which are therefore collectively known as the fifth veda,) the non-dvija
> can also receive the same spiritual gifts available to the Brahmanas,
> Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas.
> --
> Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
> _______________________________________________
> Archives: http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/archives/advaita-l/
> http://blog.gmane.org/gmane.culture.religion.advaita
> To unsubscribe or change your options:
> http://lists.advaita-vedanta.org/cgi-bin/listinfo/advaita-l
> For assistance, contact:
> listmaster at advaita-vedanta.org

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list