New member introduction: Sanjay Srivastava
vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Aug 3 03:35:56 CDT 2001
I do not really want to get into sticky issues of caste, but note that
a. Swami Vivekananda was from a caste generally reckoned as Kshatriya;
b. Kayasth-s are usually listed as belonging to the Vaisya caste;
c. Mobility from one caste to another is possible, and is particularly
noticed with new entrants to Kshatriya castes, e.g. the Marathas who
were historically accepted as Kshatriyas after the times of Shivaji;
d. If one were to be strict about 4 varNas among 1000's of jAtis in
society, then hardly anybody would properly fit into the varNa system.
Perhaps only for Brahmins is the caste status easily determinable by
birth, but most individuals are today are not Brahmin by profession,
strictly speaking, even if they are, by birth.
Re: Sannyasis and householders, and dvividhA nishThA, the path of jnAna
in the advaita tradition is closely tied with the nishThA of nivRtti.
Those of us who live in society and not apart from it are in pravRtti,
and therefore often compromise with respect to jnAna-yoga. And from the
traditional perspective, the extent of this compromise gets correlated
with caste identity.
True, there are many cases of Upanishadic teachers who were married with
children, but the eventual goal of renunciation was always there. Thus,
yAjnavalkya renounced his wives and wealth, to go off into the forest
and become a sannyAsi. The only question that traditionally arose was
whether it was necessary to go through the ASrama stages in sequence,
or whether it was allowed to go from the student stage to the renouncer
stage at once, without going through marriage and life in human society.
The advaita tradition has always allowed for the latter, and even
privileges it to some extent, although one can also renounce at an old
age and become a paramahamsa monk, after going through a gRhastha stage
in life. This is because one who values viveka, vairAgya and tyAga will
necessarily come to a stage in life where attachments fall away. At this
stage, caste affiliation also needs to be given up. It would be mere
verbal display if all this remains at the stage of talk and does not
impact one's personal life.
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