Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue May 12 14:25:25 CDT 1998

On Fri, 8 May 1998, Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian wrote:

> I admit I had to laugh at this one :-). However, there is quite a record
> of brahmins misbehaving. I can write about this to you if you wish.

Oh I believe you.  It's undeniable fact.  But it's also true that vast
amounts of human misery have been caused in the name of various utopias.
Should we throw out things like human rights too.  One would be hard put
to find anything in Human History that didn't end up hurting someone.
Although I do wish I had lived in Bharat one advantage of being born
outside is that I wasn't brainwashed with socialist claptrap like so many
people are over there.  In particular I don't believe in the concept of
group guilt.  Either people do something wrong in which case they should
make amends, or they don't in which case there is nothing to worry about.

> I pointed that out only to make my point that just being born a brahmin
> does not mean anything.

It goes without saying that there needs to be far more qualification than
birth but birth is a factor.  Not nearly as much as it is for say the
karmakandis but more than 0.

> According to smR^iti-s brahmaNa-s are not supposed to take up any
> profession to earn money. The only money they can obtain is from
> contributions of others. Some handwaving statements that professions can
> be taken up in kali yuga are given, but seems only wishful thinking to
> me. These seem to be much later ideas. I presume from your web-page
> (which I saw about a year back, so sorry if I am mistaken again) that
> you write software for a living. It's certainly not a profession you can
> take up and claim to be following dharma.

I'll try and find the exact reference in the Mitakshara but there are four
valid ways for a Brahmana to make a living only one of which involves no
money at all.  More emphasis is placed on the neccessity of performing the
6 karmas.  Learning and teaching shastras, performing and oficiating at
rituals and giving and receiving charity all of which I do to some extent
and will do more.  There are exterior lakshanas mentioned like Yagnopavit,
Shika, Mala, Tilaka etc. which I have (except the chuda or earrings which
I'm waiting until I can go to our kuladevi for.) and interior lakshanas
such as Faith, Knowledge, Truthfulness etc. which I try and maintain.  So
I'm fairly confident I am following my Dharma according to the shastras at
least as much as anyone around me.

Which leads me to your dig about me following my extended family.  Of
course!  Isn't that what it means to be a smarta?  In this case we have to
bear in mind that historically most people have looked to their elders to
understand how to act not to books and this in turn makes the sociological
"meaning" of Brahmanahood something different from the pure literary

> Someone insisting that the earth is flat because of their world view is
> also OK then?

Well this case is hardly so clear cut but even if you don't agree with it,
it is intellectually dishonest to just dismiss it out of hand or assuming
its proponents had no reason for thinking as they did.

> If you do not I apologize. But, I seem to remember you saying that
> non-Indians cannot obtain moxa?!

I think the idea that those who cannot study the Vedas can get jnana
from Gita, Puranas etc. is the most correct one.  I don't think non-Hindus
can achieve Moksha and I don't think one can convert to Hinduism in any
meaningful way so it would seem foreigners are unable to get Moksha but
they can study Gita etc. so by the first idea above they can.  Mostly I
try not to think about it at all :-)

> When did I deny that? I was _only_ referring to the moxa part.

Oh that was an aside aimed not at you in particular.

> Your posting followed this and naturally I assumed that you were
> contradicting this. I did not remember the verses which Ravi pointed
> out. I realize now that because of this the interpretation given is more
> indirect and also realize why you jumped on the vedAdhikAra issue. I
> apologize for the harsh words. But, as Sadananda pointed out, these can
> also be interpreted in this sense without granting vedAdhikara to
> everyone.

My objection was to the following:

1.  The idea that the people who had that view were "unvedantic"
2.  The idea that they had no reason for believing what they did.
3.  The overall obfuscation and mistreatment of key issues in the

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

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