Mar 26, 2023
Mar 26, 2023
More by : Dr. Varanasi Ramabrahmam
(All who read this comment should refer to be below comment by Harsha to relate the context)
You have merely repeated in latest comment (7th march) what you mentioned in the previous comment (5th March).
1. Mahabharat occurred after a long time since Varna system existed in India and since Vedas existed. I mentioned – “the system earlier gave liberty to people to chose which section they would belong to and then abide by 'dharma' of that section”. Mahabhrat occurred later.
2. One may notice that Karna’s elevation as incharge of a state (‘Angaraj’) was not objected by elites - during his elevation and after his elevation. That Pandavas abused him leads to two directions (a) the opposition was merely due to political equation (b) we may still be seeing the that picture through current specs, that there is no mention of elites objecting this move itself is an indicator to the social acceptance of such moves.
3. That Dronacharya refused to accept Eklavya is not correct, Gurus do not take Guru-dakshina from people whom they do not accept as students. Dronacharya took Guru-dakshina, therefore he acknowledged Eklavya as his student. He asked ‘thumb’ in Guru-dakshina because he wanted to keep his declaration intact that Arjuna was the best archer.
4. That knowledge of Vedas is denied to lower castes is no pointer to exploitation of one section by other. Remember, there is a tough selection process in each premier institute of the world today. Second, Vedas and other literature are not for common man, they are the best of human knowledge and experience stored in textual form and the one who study them has also responsibility to implement that knowledge practically. By definition of Vaisha and Shudra varnas, they do not posses the quality needed. And not to forget the very important point – not all Brahmins and Kshatriyas were admitted in universities where these literatures were taught and discussed.
5. I will not comment on manu Smriti, it itself is derivative of original texts. And I am sure such literatures were subject to corrections through conferences and ‘shastrarthas’ that were routine till apprx. 1000 AD. It was a practice by elites, that if someone does not agree with common interpretation of such texts or has his own view, he needed to participate in logical and convergent discussions called ‘Shastrarthas’, the one who can logically stand was accepted as winner and his teachings were accepted. Can a section of society exploit the other in such a system ??
6. Finally, I was not conveying the idea that caste system was creation of foreign rulers. I wanted to point out that the system that had capacity to self-correct, was destroyed by foreign rulers and that fueled caste system and many many other misinterpretations of many things. One may recall that Nalanda university was destroyed by (I think Gauri) foreign invader, such places were the center of the vedic knowledge where elites from all over India came to learn and build their own understandings and take the knowledge back to their respective places. Such institutions were dependent upon donations from kings, the foreign invaders physically destroyed it (leave alone donations).
One may notice that ‘parda pratha’ came in existence after around 1000 AD.
7. Lastly I would like to point out that many times, we see past or future through eyes of current perception. To give an example, there is a movie about Alexander the great who came to India as part of his mission to include India in his Kingdom. We know that he failed to do so, he was stopped somewhere in current Pakistan or so. We also know that India was much more developed economically, politically, socially and technologically. But, that movie shows Indians as very poor people as if Greeks were highly advanced than Indians. In fact, such a movie will be highly acceptable in west, because people tend to see things from their current perception.
It’s too long comment and deep into a topic. Thanks to boloji.com team!
I suppose if needed, I can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org to extend this discussion in convergent manner to some conclusion.
| This is in response to Dinesh Kumar's post. While I agree that that initial Varna system did make some sense , and was brought into practice with noble thoughts, it can not be denied that it was abused and misused by the upper classes thousands of years back. |
You mentioned Karna, but Karna was never accepted by Pandavas and was continuously abused by them because of his 'birth'. Dronacharya refuses to teach archery to Ekalavya because of his lowere birth.
Parashurama never teaches his archery skills to lower classes.
Lord Buddha too had to confront the Brahmin priests, because he was a non-brahmin. (around 500 BC ??? )
Even the knowledge of Hindu (Vedas, Manu smritis etc ) scriptures were denied to lower classes. (Is it Manu smriti which states that molten lead should be poured into the ears of the shudra who hears or reads it ?? )
Basavanna (12th century Kannada saint .http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basavanna) had to fight caste discrimination all his life. So the caste abuse was not the creation of foreigners ruling our land, Swami Vivekananda partialy blamed the Indian caste abuse as responsible for the success of the Islamic invaders.
There were a few exceptional individuals like Karna / chandragupta who were able to rise up inspite of their birth. But it does not mean that Caste bias did not exist.
While i am not trying create any caste divide here, at the same time, i can not turn blind eye to our history.
|There is an article here dealing in depth of the topic and there are so many thoughtful comments - to comment on !|
I too have a deep thought process done and understanding on this topic, but let me comment on part of the comment by Harsha, it reads:
"Unfortunately, since the ancient times, status of 'birth' was taken as final and the underprivileged/ lowere caste were manipuated by the privlieged upper caste for thousands of years which was as bad or even worse than racism in West ! "
One can refer to earlier Sanskrit literature written thousands of years before and can notice that the four sections - Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra were not created so that one can manipulate other for self advantage.
The system earlier gave liberty to people to chose which section they would belong to and then abide by 'dharma' of that section. Later, as system fine-tunes itself, it became a heritage, came by birth. But even then, it was not in bad shape as you are referring to.
e.g. Chandragupta, who was chosen by Chanakya to become King of Magadh 2500 years ago from now, did not belong to 'Kshatriya' section. We also don't see any reference where anyone in the then society opposed Chandragupta's climb to become Emperor.
Valmiki was not a Brahmin or Khsatriya, who wrote Ramayana - the first poetic literature on the earth.
Even in Mahabharat, Karna was not opposed by when he was made incharge of a state by Duryodhana (to achieve his friendship) - Karna was known as sud-putra then, not a Kshatriya or Brahmin in the society according to Mahabharat.
Famous Chinese visitors Fahyan and Vhensong (I may be wrong in spelling those names, as I read their names in Hindi so far) came to India and visited north to south many years, villages to villages. They don't describe any 'manipulation' of 'exploitation' of one section by other. Instead, they said - India is a peaceful heaven !
So, when did this exploitation started - if it did not exist few thousand year back, or in 500 BC or in 600 AD (when Vhensong visited India) ....
Did it start 1000 years before - after India was invaded by foreigners ? By the way, ancient Sanskrit literatures do not speak about 'caste', they mention about 'varna'. When did this caste system started, and why did it start ?
And why don't average citizen know about this fact, why there is misconception on 'varna system' ?
Surely, we know that politicians are still exploiting this misconception, and may even be creating more of it...
|Thank you Harsha for the kind attention and discerning response. We are bound to have different perceptions, understanding etc., of various issues, things, persons and the like. I note your view and my view also can be noted. One can not say this or that is a personal utterance. You need not agree with what all is expressed. All human beings do not have equal abilities, equal negative qualities like criminal mentality, etc., is a reality. We can never equate a fundamentalist with a spiritualist. We can never equate a their or murderer with a virtuous man. In body features, blood group, intellectual and aesthetic capabilities all are not equal in possession or use of their talents. Best wishes.|
| I agree partially. According to the Hindu Dharma, the soul takes birth again and again and carries forward the Karma and other propensities into the next birth. For example some people are born into poor families and some are born into rich families. We must accept that to a certain extent our previous Karma decides our birth and other traits of ours.|
However this doesnt mean that, the underprivileged must never rise in their lives!!!
I believe in equality , in the sense that, every one (irrespective of his birth, caste etc) should have EQUAL oppurtunities here on this earth to fulfill his/her worthy ambitions and contribute to the society.
However if the oppurtunity is given only to the to some section of the society (based on status/caste etc) and the others are throttled and suppressed then there is something deeply wrong in our society.
Equality before the law. Be it a rich man's son or a beggar's son, a crime should still be a crime and punishment given equally.
Unfortunately, since the ancient times, status of 'birth' was taken as final and the underprivileged/ lowere caste were manipuated by the privlieged upper caste for thousands of years which was as bad or even worse than racism in West !
Surely, Mahatma Gandhi and an ordinary politician are not equal in stature but if an ordinary man is not allowed to rise up higher to the level of Mahatma Gandhi , just because of his lower birth or caste, then i must say this is injustice and discrimination at its worst.
If equality was just a myth then Lord Buddha would never have preached and converted Anguli Maala .... Sage Valmiki would remain a dacoit/robber all his life , instead of rising higher to become a sage!
Even Advaita proclaims that the whole universe is One with God in essence... Infact it goes a step higher and proclaims 'Aham Brahmasmi'.. I am God, equating oneself to God !!!!!
So let us not call human equality a myth !!
|I agree with you rdaashby ji.|
|My example restricted itself to how individual talent serves the whole society. You very astutely bring in the criminal element as a marker of inequality between men. Again, criminal activity affects the whole society, proving the equality of all its citzens; for if one were inherently superior criminal activity could not affect one.|
I made it clear that we are all equal as human beings, though our talents and abilities vary, indeed, as do our criminal leanings. I think we are dealing here with inflections of meaning of 'equality' that accommodate both our arguments. Your use of the word 'equality' pertains to quality; but quality qualifies, it is not the human being. As human beings we are equal not in quality but in being human. This is recognised in our equality before the law.
Thank you rdashby for the kind attention and elaborate observation.
We are all bound to have our own perspectives, perceptions, analysis, insight and levels and the likes of observations. It is really humane to say all "humans" are equal. When they differ in so many ways; intellectual, aesthetic, criminally minded, corrupt, cheating, fundamentalist, etc how can we call them "equal". The only sense they are equal is they have same needs if at all bodily; intellectual and aesthetic need too vary from one human being to another being.
|There is a level on which all human beings are equal: given that we are all flesh and blood, and have the same bodily needs, no matter what our blood group is, etc. Thus, whether we are world class cricket players or rickshaw pullers, we all are equally affected by the demands of hunger and thirst. In the eyes of the law, we are all equal, that is, bound by the same code of conduct. Certainly in the eyes of God we are. That agreed, there is a discerned level of inequality among human beings.|
The level on which we are deemed unequal is in personal endowment,or to use the biblical term, talents, which includes intellectual gifts. But this inequality is actually in a social context where the talented, in all their variety of functions, benefit the majority. A great cricketer exalts the team and the nation of people behind the team. So our individual talents are not to establish among ourselves the basis of our superiority as human beings, but each to work for the greater good of all, and thus at the level of service. The error, the mis-perception, is to see talent as a mark of superiority of the human being so endowed, an Einstein or a Gandhi, whose humanity was common to all, and whose contribution was one of service, as they would be the first to agree. Indeed, service is a self-imposed inequality in respect to those whom one serves. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, and said, 'I am among you as one who serves.'
In respect of what you say of 'reverse discrimination', as I understand it, all Indian citizens are not being treated equally. But this cannot argue against their basic equality as human beings, it only confirms it.