Chandran, Nanda (NBC) Nanda.Chandran at NBC.COM
Thu May 7 09:28:38 CDT 1998

John writes :
>How un-vedantic
>and tragic that the orthodox have, in a parrot-like fashion, blindly
>dogmatically declared that the mere act of a male birth in a brahmin
>is an indispensable prerequisite for Self-realization!

I strongly object to this statement. As Ram Chandran remarked sometime
back these texts were composed during a particular age. When we don't
have sufficient information about the age, the environs etc and not 100%
sure of the reasons for such pre-conditions. It's better to remain
silent on such issues, than blindly blame a particular community of

It's said that when Yudhistra was ascending the steps on the stairway to
heaven, he came across a tiger killing a deer. Pity arose in his heart
and immediately he found himself several steps below his original
position! For it's the dharma of a tiger to kill a deer. So is it the
dharma of a kshtriya to rule and fight to defend the kingdom. The dharma
of a vaishya to trade. If the kshtriya and the vaishya *who practice
their professions* become sadhakas, the sitiuation will not hold.

So is it really possible for a active kshtriya to take up sadhana?
Immediately King Janaka would spring to mind. But if he's truly a jnani,
who sees everybody in himself and himself in everybody - non-dual - can
he really do justice to his job as a king? When enemies invade, will he
have the passion and fury to fight them? One might state that like
Krishna states in the Gita, Janaka would fight with dispassion etc But
somehow, it doesn't convince me. It's said that Chandragupta Maurya, the
grandfather of Emperor Ashoka, renounced his kingdom and became a
wandering ascetic seeking salvation. That might be the only way for the
members of the other varnas - to totally renounce their professions and
seek salvation. But for the Brahmin, who by profession is a sadhaka, day
in and day out, it comes natural.

And there's evidence even in the scriptures and other texts that the
Brahmanas both taught and learnt from the members of the other varnas.
Veda Vyasa was himself not a Brahmin. King Janaka's guru was Ashtavakra,
who was a Brahmin. Gautama Siddhartha's first guru's were the Brahmin
Samnyasins Alara Kalama and Uddhaka Ramaputta. And quite a few of the
great Mahayana philosophers - Ashvaghosa, Vasubandhu, Dharmakirti,
Nagarjuna etc were Brahmins who converted to Buddhism.

So while the statement might be addressed to the rank and file of
mankind, it doesn't mean that those who were truly interested were
excluded. If the shruti was open to everybody, even those who weren't
truly inclined, would, just to escape responsiblity, abandon their
families and become samnyasins -this is actually quite prevelant in
India! There is also the case of those fit to take up Sadhaka and their
requisite qualifications - as Shankara warns in Vivekachoodamani that
those who wish to gratify the body and still wish to see the Atman will
destroy themselves. Plus we see and hear of such knowledge falling into
wrong hands and being exploited.

Finally, the proof of such pre-conditions may reflect in the survival of
these ancient texts, intact, over several millinea. In this age of
secularism and equality, these pre-conditions may seem prejudiced. But
as I learn by the day, there are too many things that I'm unaware of and
if not anything, the knowledge of the ancient teachers far surpasses
anything that I'll ever know. My final point is we don't know the
reasons. Nor should we waste time pondering over it. For our goal is
only liberation.

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