BrahmanAs and their jobs

Sankaran Jayanarayanan sjayana at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 21 18:57:22 CDT 1999

"Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM>

 > 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).
 > >

Yes, this is in accordance with the smR^tis: there are only so many
lawful occupations for a braaMhaNa, excluding rare occassions like
war-time, famine, etc.

Apastamba dharma-suutra, editted by Max Mueller:
4. The lawful occupations of a BraahmaNa are, studying, teaching,
sacrificing for himself, officiating as priest for others, giving alms,
receiving alms, inheriting, and gleaning corn in the fields;

5. And (he may live by taking) other things which belong to nobody.

6. (The lawful occupations) of a Kshatriya are the same, with the
exception of teaching, officiating as priest, and receiving alms. (But)
governing and fighting must be added.

7. (the lawful occupations) of a Vaishya are the same as those of a
Kshatriya, with the exception of governing and fighting. (But in his case)
agriculture, the tending of cattle, and trade must be added.

8. He (shall) not choose (for the performance of a shrauta-sacrifice) a
priest who is unlearned in the Veda, nor one who haggles (about his fee).



The Gautama dharma suutra concurs with the above. The Vishnu Purana says
pretty much the same thing, except that it adds some "internal" qualities
like universal benevolence, etc. for a braahmaNa.

The dharma suutras also say that during student-ship,a student *must*
subsist on alms only, no matter what the caste.

 > > The switching over to English education, migrating to cities and
 > > settling down with a secular job by brahmins had started during the
 > >
 > > 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
 > >
 > > 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!
 > >

I believe the muslim occupation of India did not extend to Tamilnadu.
Perhaps a few muslim kings now and then, but certainly not like the North,
where they reigned supreme except for occassional Hindu rebellions. The
Tamils being great warriors resisted the muslim invasion, which was
probably the reason why some parts of Tamilnadu continued with no break in
Hindu tradition whatsoever.

 > > 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
 > >
 > > 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
 > >
 > > this mission.
 > >
 > > Regards,
 > >
 > > Sudhakar
 > >
 > I have had the privilege to know mahatmas like this too.  For instance
 > person who performed my yagnopavit, Shri Jagannath Shastriji had
 > opportunities to become quite well off but refused them because he felt
 > 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
 > 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
 > in  Brahmakarma full time and Niyogis who combind it with some secular
 > job?

The Vaidika-Niyoga separation was only in Andhra, I think. Even this may
have been due to the muslim invasions. The Brahmins in Tamilnadu were
always only Vaidikas, and to this day, the most orthodox Brahmins are to
be found in Tamilnadu. A gentleman I know is the friend of a person who
had visited several states in India in order to record some Vedic hymns,
and he told me that the oral tradition of the chanting of the Vedas is
much better preserved in Tamilnadu than anywhere else in India (except for
occassional pockets in Karnataka or Gujarat).

 > 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>


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>From ADVAITA-L at LISTS.ADVAITA-VEDANTA.ORG Fri Oct 22 21:40:45 1999
Message-Id: <FRI.22.OCT.1999.214045.0530.ADVAITAL at LISTS.ADVAITAVEDANTA.ORG>
Date: Fri, 22 Oct 1999 21:40:45 +0530
Reply-To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
From: "Dr. S.R.Marur" <smarur at EASI.SOFT.NET>
Organization: EASi Technologies
Subject: Sankara SampradhAyam - 20
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The fact that AchAryAl had not come to propound any thing new; but
only to renovate the thing [*vEda matham*] that was existing before,
becomes known even from a statement of a purAnA.

There are many purAnA-s and ithihAsA-s which claim our AchAryAl to be
an avatAr of paramEshwara. In one of such purAnAs - the kUrma purAnA-
in a context which describes,'when the kOlAhalam of kali [*yugA*]
would peak, the IshvarA Himself would take an avatAr to contain the
flow (pravAham) of adharmA', there appears a slOka as,

        karishyathi avathAram svam shankarO nIla lOhitha: |
        sroutha smArtha prathistArtham bhakthAnAm hitha kAmyayA ||

'Sroutha' refers to the one that closely follows the 'sruthi' or
vEda. 'smAartha' points to dharma shAstrA which were blessed by the
rishI-s based on the remembrance of their deep contemplation on
vEdA-s. This saying of kUrma purAnA goes to describe that the
shankaran who is also nIlakantan (shankarO nIla lOhitha:) chose to
take an avatAr Himself (karishyathi avathAram svam) to re-establish
the vEda-dhArma-shAstra (sroutha smArtha prathistArtham) due to His
desire to do the good to His devotees (bhakthAnAm hitha kAmyayA).

It is important to note here that this slOka, instead of mentioning
either the advaitha prathishtA or shanmatha prathishtA (the two
important aspects which we associate with our AchAryAl, at the very
mention of His name, nowadays) refers only to the sroutha smArtha

Similarly, even in the slOka recited as AchArya vandhanA,

        sruthi smrithi purAnAnAm Alayam karunAlayam |
        namAmi bhagavadh pAdha shankaram lOka shankaram ||

there are references to sruthi and smrithi. Here also there is no
mention about advaitham or shanmatham. But, it describes our AchAryAl
as the repository of vEdA-s, dharma shAstrA-s and purAnA-s. If
smrithi-s are those texts which formulate the laws based on vEdic
dictums, then purAnA-s are those which convey the essence of vEdA-s
through the medium of stories so that the mind could imbibe them.
AchAryAl is described to be an 'Alayam' of this triad - sruthi,
smrithi and purAnam.

As the very mention of 'vEda matham'or 'smArtha sampradhAyam' implies
the advaitam which establishes the 'abhEdham' between the jIva and
brahman; as the concept of shanmatham which emphasises the 'abhEdham'
between all the dEvathA-s, is a part (angam) of advaita itself, it
appears that there is no specific mention of either advaitA or
shanmatham in this slOka as well as in kUrma purAnA.

shanmatham is a part of advaitA. If advaitA is mentioned, then there
is no need to separately refer to shanmatham. When it is claimed that
jIva and brahman are one, is it not implied in that, that all the
dEvathA-s are also one, which is the 'thAthparyam' of the scheme of
shanmatham ?

As shanmatham is a part of advaitam, advaitam is the part of smArtham
and vaidhIkam. Amongst all the philosophies of vEdAs, advaitam
occupies the highest position. We observe in vEdA-s, the view that
all the devatA-s are indeed the very same paramAthmA. That is why
advaitA and shanmatham are none other than the paths which completely
follow vaidhIkam and smArtha sampradhAyam. Only following? [*No*]
They are, verily, one and the same.

The very 'vaidhIka matham' implies  advaitin's sampradhAyam. Advaita
means only vaidhIkam. Does Sri HarshA not similarly substitute,
advaitA where ever he has to refer to vEdA matham, in naishadham [1].

Therefore, all those who have not undergone the specific samskAram-s
of dvaithA, vishistAdhvaithA and saiva siddhAntham are followers of
sri Sankara Bhagavadh pAdhAl only. Even though they might have
migrated to other sampradhAyam-s and left AchAryAl, it doesn't mean
AchAryAl had left them. Accepting all those siddhAntham-s at
different levels is His siddhAntham.

AchAryA's parama guru (guru's guru) Gauda pAda had written
'mAndUkya upanishad kArikA'. 'kArikA' is one of the types of
bAshyam-s. (Even in Tamil, there is a work called 'yApparuNGalam'.
The book that was written explaining the details of the former is
known as 'yApparuNGalak kArikai'). GaudapAda says in mAndUkya
kArikA that 'Many siddhAntham-s differ from each other and oppose
one another. But, our advaitam never views any of them with a sense
of enemity':

        parasparam vrudhyanthE thairayam na vrudhyathE |

The path given by AchAryAl to us is this: an attitude which doesn't
see any enemity, sense of oneness and 'samarasam'. We should always
follow these.

Though we may be separated [while engaging in different types of*]
actions which are prescribed by vEdAs, smrithi-s and later by AchAryAl
and also in 'AchAram-s' which are required and conducive for
carrying out those [*vEdic*] kAryAm-s, without entertaining any sense
of difference in the mind, all of us should remain united through
[*mutual*] affection, as AchAryA's children.

Let us pray to AchAryAl Himself to do this anugraham [*blessing*]

[1]. Sankara SampradhAyam - 16, deals with this topic in detail.

                                .... [CONCLUDED]



Translated from,
HH Sri Chandhra sEkharEndhra Saraswathi Swamiji, 'Sankara
SampradhAyam'. Deivathin Kural (in Tamil), Vol. II, Second
Edition, ed. rA. Ganapathi, Vanathi padhippagam, Chennai,
pp: 119-157 (1980).

bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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