[Advaita-l] shudra

Sunil Bhattacharjya sunil_bhattacharjya at yahoo.com
Mon Aug 17 20:03:44 CDT 2009

Dear Michaelji,

Everybody is Shudra at birth. Bhagavad Gita (18.41) says that the activities of the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras are differentiated in harmony with their  aptitude and nature. For the first three categories there is initiation ( specialised training for different activities) and people are said to get a second birth. The Shudras do not get initiated ie.their kind of job does not need specialised training. Bhagavad Gita (18.44) says  and their (Shudra's) activity is "Paricharya', which means giving service or taking care or assisting. So Shudras can be called the supporting staff, in the modern parlance. Another version of this (18.44) verse of the Bhagavad gita says that Shudra's activity is "Paryutthaanaatmakam karma", which means lifting things  ie. assisting by bringing (fetching) things etc.


Sunil K. Bhattacharjya

--- On Mon, 8/17/09, Michael Shepherd <michael at shepherd87.fsnet.co.uk> wrote:

From: Michael Shepherd <michael at shepherd87.fsnet.co.uk>
Subject: [Advaita-l] shudra
To: "advaita vedanta" <advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
Date: Monday, August 17, 2009, 2:50 AM

I would be happy to clear up this matter of 'shudra' with the help of
members here : it is clearly an aspect of advaita, yet there seems to be a
confusion about the real meaning of the term -- and thus, whether it has any
relevance in today's society..

The confusions seem to be two in particular : first, that varna and jati and
'caste' are randomly used in relation to shudra; and second, that by
translating it as 'labourer' rather than 'servant' there is a sense of
inferiority implied.

Yet if the definition of 'servant' and 'service' is applied, it is
immediately obvious that one can serve kings, ministers, brahmins,
kshatriyas, and anyone else -- paid or unpaid -- with the highest
faithfulness, skills, devotion, and knowledge.

How then can any spiritual gifts be denied to shudras ? How can shudra be
seen as
next to dalit in some map of society ?

I wouldn't raise this question if it were not that still today, so much
wrong or contradictory information about 'shudra' seems to be floating
around !

I was educated to believe that 'seva', service, was every man's duty : to
the Lord, to his faith, to his nation, to his family, to strangers,  to his
fellow human beings, to all creatures...to himself... so I'd be glad to hear
what others have to say about this.


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