BrahmanAs and their jobs

Sankaran Jayanarayanan sjayana at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 26 13:04:22 CDT 1999

"Ravisankar S. Mayavaram" <msr at COMCO.COM>

As per your suggestion, I got the book "Hindu dharma" and have quoted from
it whereever I could. I'm not a follower of the Kaanchi Math, but this book
has a lot to say on the topic of dharma.

 > Even in south brahmana-s have held various other jobs. Some
 > famous one's like madhava-vidyaranya (who served as chief
 > minister of vijayanagara empire) and niilakaNtha diikshiita (who
 > served as chief minister under tirumalai nayakka in Madurai) are
 > examples for this.  Even appayya diikshita (if I am not mistaken)
 > served in a royal court.

If they merely advised someone without charging money for their service,
they did adhere to dharma. On the other hand, If they earned a *salary*
for the job done, they fell short of the dhaarmic ideal of a braahmaNa.

The fact that some person, no matter how great, did not follow the rules
of the shaastras says nothing about the shaastras, only about the person
who was following the shaastras.

Quote from "Hindu dharma," by Chandrashekharendra Sarasvati svaami, the
late pontiff of the Kanchi Math:
p. 639
In the second part of daytime, the Brahmin must teach his disciples the
Vedas...Since he is not expected to earn a salary -- and if he does not
own any land received as a gift -- he must beg for his food and also for
the materials for the conduct of various sacrifices. The brahmin has the
right to beg, but it is a restrictive right because it means that he can
take only the minimum needed for his upkeep and what is required for the
performance of rituals.

also p.69
The canonical texts have it that the Brahmin must have no love for money,
that he must not accumulate wealth. So long as he followed his dharma, as
prescribed by the shastras, and so long as he chanted the Vedas and
performed sacrifices, he brought good to the world, and all other castes
respected him and treated him with affection. In fact they looked upon him
as a guide and model.

and p.662
If the Brahmin is asked,"Do you know how to wield a knife?" he must be
able to answer,"Yes, I know." If he is asked,"Do you know how to draw and
paint?" again he must say,"Yes." But he cannot wield the knife or become
an artist to earn his livelihood. All he can do is to learn these arts and
teach others the same according to their caste. He is permitted to receive
a dakshiNaa to maintain himself and he must be contented with it however
small the sum may be. The Brahmin's speciality, his true vocation, is
Vedic learning.

But is this how the present-day Brahmin conducts himself?
The Brahmin relinquished the duties of his birth -- the study of the Vedas
and performance of the rites laid down in the Vedic tradition...He fell
lure to the jobs offered by his white master and aped him in dress,
manners and attitudes. He threw to the winds the noble dharma he had
inherited from the Vedic seers...

I can go on and on about the degradation in the state of affairs of the
Brahmin class in the opinion of the Paramaacharya.

p. 615
Do I not lambaste Brahmins for having become a degenerated class?

Of course, the Paramaacharya does think the Brahmins who have been led
astray can do *something* about preserving the tradition, though it is
below -- WAY below -- of what is expected of them. In p.77, the article
titled "The least expected of Brahmins"
...I am prepared to ignore that they [the Brahmins] have neither courage
nor the spirit of sacrifice necessary to come back to their dharma...

If you are averse to making your sons Vaidikas and are anxious that they
too should lead a life of comfort like you (what you think is a life of
comfort), I am prepared to come one step further down to make the
following suggestion. You would not perhaps like your children to take up
Vedic learning as a lifelong vocation and would like to give them an
education on modern lines so as to prepare them for office or factory work
or to make them doctors, engineers, and so on. I am prepared to go with
you so far. But I would ask you to perform the upanayana of your son when
he is eight years old. He must then be put in a Veda class held for one
hour in the evening after school hours. He must be taught the Vedas in
this manner for ten years.

This is the least the Brahmins can do to preserve the Vedic tradition...

Clearly, the dharma of a Brahmin is far more rigorous than is commonly

Note the following points:

1) The Brahmin must not earn a salary -- cannot become an engineer, etc.
2) He must beg for his food -- no eating out at restaurants. BTW, there is
stuff in the shaastras like "The food of a BraahmaNa must be prepared by
the first three castes only, or if prepared by a shuudra, must be
supervised by a BraahmaNa" etc.
3) He cannot accumulate wealth -- so bank accounts, investments are ruled
out :-)

Since this is virtually impossible, the Paramaacharya suggests an
alternative and comes down far below his status so as so plead with the
"degenerate" Brahmins to at least help preserve the Vedic tradition.

I know of a case of a rich Brahmin who wished to donate a large amount of
money to a Vedic school. The teacher of the school, a strict Brahmin,
asked the rich man to send his son to this school, saying "We can teach
your son the Vedas." The rich guy was embarassed and said he wanted to
send his son to an English school :-) :-(

 > In ponniyin selvan (a famous historical tamil novel set in 10
 > century ad in thanjavur, which has few imaginary characters), the
 > minister of sundara chozha (father of rajaraja I ) was a brahmana
 > (this may not be accurate). Dont flame me for citing a novel.
 > Honestly, I learned best part of my history from Kalki and
 > Chandilyan :-))
 > I would assume that all along, some of them engaged in
 > professions like these, and as assistants and those maintained
 > records etc. May be they all worked just 20 hrs a week and
 > devoted more time to pursuing their dharma :-))

One should look at examples where Brahmins have held to the Shastras,
instead of those who've gone astray, IMHO.

I still feel the Brahmins of Tamilnadu were "better" than those elsewhere
after the Muslim invasion. But they were affected too, I guess, and
couldn't follow dharma on all occassions. Personally, I feel the
north-Indians were sissy as to allow themselves to be conquered by alien

 > Ravi


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