BrahmanAs and their jobs

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Wed Oct 20 10:56:19 CDT 1999

On Wed, 20 Oct 1999, Dr. S.R.Marur wrote:

> On Wed, 20 Oct 1999, Jaldhar H. Vyas wrote:
> >Throughout
> >recorded history Brahmanas have had other occupations to materially
> >sustain themselves.  Yet side by side they also practiced their
> spiritual
> >duties.  Modern times haven't really changed anything in this regard.
> History of brahmanAs of south India seems to contradict this
> observation.
> With the dharma shAstric injuction that a brahmanA should engage
> himself ONLY in learning and later teaching vEdAs and associated
> scriptures, this community seemed to have dedicated itself to this
> purpose completely, without having any other vocation and subsisting
> purely on grants/alms from rulers and trading communities
> (esp. ChettiAr-s).
> The switching over to English education, migrating to cities and
> settling down with a secular job by brahmins had started during the last
> couple of decades of last century, as almost all the Hindu kingdoms and
> samasthAnam-s which were giving dAnam-s to brahmanA-s and vEda
> pAtashAlA-s, were completely taken over by British by then, bringing the
> govt. funding to vEdic education to nil.
> Even during the previous muslim rule, this community seemed to have
> carried on with their vEdic duties, with whatever little resources they
> had!
> The famous example of British period is the mahA-mahO-pAdyAya srI RAju
> shAstrigal, popularly known as MannArgudi pEriyavAl. MannArgudi is a
> village in Tanjore district and he was known by the name of his village.
> He was considered to be the greatest pandit of his times and he stayed
> throught out his life teaching shAstrAs to students, without having any
> job for an income. He almost subsisted on grants. Other famous
> personalities who lived without any secular job, even during this
> century are kadalangudi natEsa shAstry, sEngAlipuram dIxitAr, to quote
> a few.
> Similary, it can be shown that during the past so many centuries,
> brahmins
> of south India didn't choose to have a job for earning. They were
> engaged
> in vEdic studies and their propagation, for its own sake and were given
> grants to support that activity and respect for the way they carried out
> this mission.
> Regards,
> Sudhakar

I have had the privilege to know mahatmas like this too.  For instance the
person who performed my yagnopavit, Shri Jagannath Shastriji had
opportunities to become quite well off but refused them because he felt it
would interfere with his true vocation.  But cases like mine are more
typical.  the surname Vyas indicates a kathakar of Mahabharata, Bhagavata
etc.  And several of my ancestors did just that.  However at least since
the mid-18th century, they have mainly been employed as teachers and minor
bureaucrats.  Undoubtedly, the political situation had a big part to play
in this.  The Kathiawad region of Gujarat where we are from was divided
into no less 202 little kingdoms and there was constant turmoil.  In
constrast the South was much more peaceful and prosperous.  Yet even
there, isn't it true thre is a distinction between Vaidiks who are engaged
in  Brahmakarma full time and Niyogis who combind it with some secular

Everyone--not just Brahmanas should endeavor to know their Dharma and
practice it to the best of their ability.  It may not be easy, conditions
may not always be ideal, but if we try Bhagawan will forgive us any
imperfections.  But if we despair and decide it is to difficult to even
try, where will it leave us?

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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