5 points | Post submitted by suyash95 259 days ago | 1 comments
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Are Brahmins, in India, responsible for casteism?
The caste system is a highly complicated and intricate network of social structuring for the exchange of goods and services within an hierarchy. It has evolved over thousands of years and has been changed and modified hundreds of times.
The Brahmins were priests and did not have any temporal power - that was invested in the kings and the nobles. They made and upheld the laws and administrated the kingdom.
The Brahmins were employed by the kings as to act as ministers and judges and arbitrators - they had no power to implement any social engineering - although they may have acted as advisors. The ones who were responsible for maintaining social order were the kings (kshatriyas) alone.
What is totally overlooked by all the marxist social critics is that the castes were by and large independent autonomous self-governing bodies. They managed their own daily affairs, had their own peculiar laws and customs and administered their own justice.
Brahmanism was the name given by the early European Indologists to the ancient Vedic religion based on the texts known as the Brāhmaṇas.
Modern Hinduism emerged from a syncretism of Vedic, Puranic and Tantric streams of thought and practices.
There seems to be a lot of confusion about terms on this site regard the B word.
the root bṛh (brihat) which means the great, huge, expanse, etc. from this root we get the following derivatives:–
Brahman (neuter) refers to the Absolute Reality which is the field of existence.
Brahmā (m) refers to the personified creator god.
Brahmin means a person of the priestly Varna - one who follows or knows Brahmā. (Ideally applied to one who follows the strict code of learning and virtuous conduct set down for one following this sacred vocation and not to a ritual technologist who simply uses it as a means of livelihood.)
Brāhmaṇa is the name given to the 2nd section of the Vedas (Samhita, Brāhmaṇa, Araṇyaka and Upaṇiṣad)
The Brāhmana texts expound the Vedic rituals known as yajñas which the Brahmins practiced - hence the religion based on the Brāhmaṇas was called Brahmanism.
The term is sometimes used academically to differentiate between the “Higher” Hinduism of the elites (the mahā-yāna - the higher vehicle) characterized by orthodoxy and adherence to Shastra, and the “Lower” Hinduism of the masses (hīna-yāna - the lower vehicle) characterized by heterodoxy and adherence to Custom and Usage while ignoring the Shastras.
Brahminism comes from Brahmin which comes from VEDIC Religion.It is clearly mentioned that in the beginning There were only Brahmins.LAter as Yugas passed,People got divided on basis of actions.But imp point is Those who label Entire Hinduism as Brahminism are just foolish n ignorant.
Because Hinduism also consists of TANTRIC n AGAMIC RELIGIONS which had nothing to do with Brahminism
Vedas come from NIGAMA - ascent of human aspiration towards the divine i.e. Vedas — they are the insights of Rishis in deep states of meditation and the articulation of those realizations in the form of poetry.
But Āgama is the descent of knowledge from above — all the Agama texts are in the form of dialogues in which Shiva, Vishnu or Shakti deliver discourses on four topics or pādas:.They are not developed by Brahmins
Jñāna-pāda — philosophy, theology, evolution and involution of the universe, Time etc.
Yoga-pāda — spiritual techniques, meditation, yoga, mantras, yantras etc.
Carya-pāda — one’s personal conduct in daily life - ethics morals etc.
Kriya-pāda — Temple building and consecrations, daily rituals to be performed, consecration of priests, festivals, offerings etc.
So Vaishnavism ,Shaivism ,Shaktism are not developed by Brahmins.
TANTRA is developed by specially by Non-Brahmins.
There is no such religion as Brahmanism, which is a colonial distortion, not found in India's ancient literature. Vedic Dharma addressed all human beings and honored the whole of life, viewed of as a single being, the Cosmic Purusha.
Brahmin is not a Race,Brahmin DNA does not in itself cannot make a Brahmin just as a Doctor’s son cannot become a Doctor simply on Birth. Requires sattva guna, dharmic values and a life of karma yoga, as well orienting the buddhi to higher knowledge. Is not a political slogan or dynastic pedigree.
The true Brahman is a one who leads a life of truth, non-violence, austerity, selfless service and meditation. Sanskrit terms should be understood in their true meaning, not distorted, which has unfortunately too often been in current academic and media discourses.
There never was a religion called Brahmanism. It is an invention of colonial scholarship to give the impression that Vedic texts are not relevant to all humanity. Vedas honor great rishis, kings, merchants and pray for the welfare of all living beings and the entire universe.
LORD BUDDHA VIEWS ON BRAHMIN in DHAMMAPADA will make this clear
According to the Mahabhārata one of the greatest of Hindu sages – Parāshara Muni the author of the Vishnu Purana was a Dalit.
jātau vyāsastu kaivartyāḥ śvapākyāstu parāśaraḥ | bahvo'nyepi vipratvā prāptā ye pūrvā advijāḥ ||
The sage Vyasa was born of a fisherwoman, and Sage Parasara was born of a Chandala, many were those who though not previously brahmins attained brahminical status. (M.B. Aranya-parva 312. 106.)
The Mahābhārata also says that it is the qualities of a person that matter - not their birth status.
satyam, dānam, kṣamā, śīlam anṛśāsyam tapo ghṛṇā | dṛśyante yatra nāgendra sa brāhmaṇa iti smṛtiḥ ||
O King of serpents, he in whom are manifest truthfulness, charity, forbearance, good conduct, absence of malice, austerity and compassion is a Brahmana according to the sacred tradition. (M.B. Aranya-parva 180. 20).
One of the most definitive verses is:–
śūdrā vā bhagavad bhaktā niṣādā śvapacā tathā | dvija jāti samā manyu na yāti narakāṃ naraḥ ||
I consider a Sudra, Nishada (tribal), Chandala (“untouchable”) or a brahmin equal to one another if they are devotees of the Lord. None of these ever enter purgatory. (Garuda Purana khanda 1. adhyaya 230;49)
BRAHMIN Power is a FICTION-
Contrary to popular Post-modern ideologues, Brahmins never had sustained political power (there were very few Brahmin kings). Brahmins were focused on their own practice (ācāram) and affairs, never caring what the others were doing unless they came into their ghettos (agrahārams). And most Hindus never listen to what the priests have to say anyway!!
This will be shocking to many.90% of Indian Kings have come from OBC/SC.
Kings ruled - they were the supreme adjudicators in matters of law. Kings made up their own laws. They were running the show. Brahmins were a tiny minority and never had any real power. They were kept as advisors and judges or as in the case of King Dhritarashtra - he kept a Sudra advisor who was the wisest man in the land — Vidura.
Hindus were notorious for their lack of religious bureaucracy and indifference to the religious practices of others and since
there were no compulsory catechisms to study, daily masses and confessions to attend and no way to test or to monitor the knowledge of dogma and practices of the converted it would be impossible to forcibly convert anyone.
There has never been a clerical hierarchy like in Christianity and the Brahmin priests have had zero power over the masses and even less interest to forcing them to become generic Hindus.
There are two types of Brahmins connected with “Power.” Secular/political and Spiritual/religious.
a. Those born into Brahmin families who have achieved political power - these are “ethnically” Brahmins who are working for themselves and ideally for their constituents who elected them - they are secular public servants and do not represent Hinduism per se, some of their values may be informed by Hinduism. Their power is purely secular and is conferred upon them by their voting constituents who pay their salaries via taxes.
b. Those who are not necessarily Brahmin by birth but serve the community as priests. Their power is purely “spiritual” and is conferred upon them by their client families (yajamānas). Priests belong to two categories:– 1. Temple Priests (archakas) who are employed by the temple and 2. Domestic Priests (purohitas) who are independent sole operators.
It must be remembered that Hindu domestic priests are not salaried and are entirely dependent upon their client families for their livelihood. The power over them lies with their client families! Hindus in general never listen to, or obey their priests. If an individual wants a ceremony done in a particular way, he or she will simply shop around until they find a priest who agrees to their demands and is within their “budget”. There are many priests who will do whatever the client families want in order to secure an income. The income of the purohitas fluctuates with the religious calendar and their popularity.
So the idea that “Brahmins” in general have independent power is a total fiction.
The Brahmins as a group never had any real power, as individuals they did. The Brahmins have never been an homogenous group - they are disparate and motivated by and large by self-interest.
The tendency due to western colonisation is to analyse India through western lenses and it doesn’t work. One cannot compare the “clergy” of ancient India to the clergy of Europe who themselves had absolute power through very rigid organisational structures and even over the King himself who was subject to the Pope.
Power in ancient India was a binary of temporal power - (kṣatra) which was invested in the absolute monarch and spiritual power (brahma) which was invested in the Brahmins. In the Catholic system the power of the clergy derives from their essential role in the salvation of an individual - extra ecclesiam nulla salus - “outside the Church there is no salvation”. In Hinduism the Brahmins play no role whatsoever in the spiritual progress or liberation of the individual they are irrelevant. The only power-role they had in Vedic times was to bolster the power and legitimacy of the Kings through their yajñas.
Kings were seen as incarnations of Vishnu (they still are in Thailand) and thus were the autocratic rulers. Power was then divulged among ministers, advisors, commissioners, chiefs, etc. (all of which are described in Kautilya’s Artha Shastra) at the discretion of the King.
Ideally kings were supposed to employ Brahmins as advisors and judges - how far this arrangement worked was also at the discretion of the king himself. Emperor Dhṛtarāṣṭra in the Mahābhārata employed the Sūdra Vidūra as his chief advisor.
The power of the Brahmins was and still is, limited to those who invested them with power i.e. their client families known as yajamānas. Traditionally well-to-do families would have domestic priests (purohitas) who would guide them in their religious obligations and duties - but the yajamānas could dismiss a purohita who failed to fulfil their expectations! So again - no power! Some would say their power was in their ability to curse -Durvāsa is the classical example, but true Brahmins would never curse anyone.
Power requires SOLIDARITY and the Brahmins of India have never ever had any concept of solidarity! They speak dozens of different
languages, have diverse customs (some are non-veg and some are veg) they follow different Vedas and Sūtras, and belong to hundreds of different clans (gotras) - they chant the Vedas differently and their ceremonies are different. Even among the Brahmins themselves there is a hierarchy of meritocracy - with Vedic Brahmins (ahitagnis) at the top and temple priests (devalaka) at the bottom - actually funeral priests (apara-prayogis - mahāpātras) and even lower. They have divisions about inter-dinning and certainly don’t intermarry. They have sectarian differences and even intra-sectarian differences and conflicts and even riots! They all regard each other with suspicion and sometimes outright hostility. So in this morass where is the solidarity? And if no solidarity where is the power comrades?
In ancient India as in Europe the most dreaded punishment was excommunication from caste for Hindus, and in the case of Catholics - the denial of sacraments and thus certain damnation. In India only caste panchayats themselves could excommunicate members of their own caste and not that of others. And even if one Brahmin excommunicated someone - all he needs to do is go to another Brahmin who, for a generous fee will cancel the excommunication order!
The education and Sastras of brahmins were largely deemed unfit for making a living, up until McCaulay started the system of white collar jobs for ruling the empire cheaply, without having to pay high salaries to natives of Britain. Brahmins, with their traditional mastery over literary, linguistic and mathematical skills and a heridity wedded to poverty, jumped first to become the salaried employee class in the British Raj. In fact, some brahmins mistook the British empire as relief from centuries of Islamic oppression of Hindu religion and Brahmins' in particular. The people who started with lowly clerical posts in courts, magistrate and accounting offices, within two generations, went on to become senior bureucrats, lawyers, judges, professors. The other upper castes with access to British education pretty much followed the same socioeconomic trend.
This was than used by BRITISHERS against them.
The primary function of the Brahmins was to learn the Vedas by heart and to transmit them to their disciples in an unbroken and perfect succession. So they were like walking libraries containing the entire culture in their heads.
In order to be the custodians and living vehicles of the Vedas they had heavy responsibilities and duties imposed on them As national cultural treasures they were to be protected and given special privileges.If they neglected the study of the Vedas they were to be deprived of their privileges and treated as commoners. There were no printing presses to print books in large numbers in ancient timess.People wrote manuscripts by Hands n Vedas are very huge corpus consisting of 1000 of pages.There were very few books to be given to everyone to study.
They certainly gave the ideological support but it was the kings and the society itself that supported and maintained the system. Remember Manu was a King not a brahmin.
“At the expense of others” is not true - social relations in India were never a zero-sum game. The brahmins had very little economic power - being about 4% of the population who lived by teaching and doing
There is also a MYTH about Brahmins, Anybody can become a priest or priestess in Hinduism there is no Governing body that oversees training and appointments nor regulates and monitors KPI’s. There have been non-brahmin priests for 2000 years. - you can build your own temple and become a priest - no questions asked..In Hinduism there are no “elite” or “chosen ones” in terms of spiritual practice and final Liberation (mokṣa) - every human has the same ability to engage in spiritual practice and potential for enlightenment and liberation - limited only by their personal Karmic conditioning.
True Brahmins are those who learn, memorise and teach the Veda - all other so-called “Brahmins” are cardboard cutouts according to Manu. So seeing that I have only learnt a few useful Suktas from the Veda and have never memorised the entire Veda nor do I teach Veda, I cannot lay claim to Brahminhood. That would be the ultimate in chicanery.
Brahmins are indeed born with “privilege.” but with privilege come obligations and responsibilities - both are co-dependant.
By birth a Brahmin is privileged with direct access to religious learning and to the Law (Dharma). But their onerous responsibility is the preservation and transmission of the Hindu cultural heritage and obligations to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the status of a such a conduit of learning.
So if a Brahmin does not undergo religious study, does not perform his obligatory duties of cultural preservation and does not conduct himself in a manner befitting his status then he, by default loses all privilege and is treated like a commoner.
Moving on to Vedas, Yajurveda, Chapter 26, Verse 2 states, "Just like I have given the Vedic wisdom to Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras, you should also follow and preach the same to everyone."
Similarly, another Brahmanical text Shukraniti states in Chapter 1, Shlok 75-76, "Not by birth are Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra and Mlechchh separated, but by virtue and their deeds." Manusmriti is another Hindu text quite demonized by NCERT and a lot of other groups in present scenario. Let us see what this text states about the Varna system
"With good deeds, nature and properties, a Shudra can become a Brahman and if a Brahman relinquishes his sattvic deeds and qualities, he becomes a Shudra. And the same applies to Kshatriyas and Vaishayas too." (10/65)
Mahabharat (Vol 5, pg 197) quotes Sage Parashar, a Brahmin as saying, "O, King of Videh! Shudras well versed with the Vedic wisdom are called as Prajapati (Lord Brahma)." The sage further states, "O! King but I call them Lord Vishnu because they nourish this Universe just like the Great Lord Himself."
There are hundreds of texts that confirm what I have said but I shall only quote a few so as not to bore the gentle reader – Manu is one of the harshest critics of fake Brahmins.
Previously all prayogas (ritual manuals) were in Sanskrit with no instructions, and in order to study the rituals one had to take an apprenticeship under a Purohit or domestic priest. Nowadays all the ritual manuals are available from Giri Trading company, Chaukhamba, Gita Press Gorakhpur etc.
In local languages with instructions. All you need to do is to study the rituals, attend a few ceremonies and watch how the priests do it, or go to youtube and watch a few videos, and then set yourself up as a ritual technician. Start with doing pujas for your family members and then expand your services to others in your sphere of influence. If you are talented and good at what you do, you could become a famous priest with hundreds of yajamāna families and gather a large herd of cattle in donations.
Traditionally a person is considered as BRAHMIN if he has knowledge of VEDAS.There was no printing press in ancient times to print book in large number .Today The Vedas have been in print and available for public consumption since the invention of the printing press. Vedic chanting classes were started for ALL - by the venerable Tirumalai Krishnamacharya in the early 20th century. Chinmaya mission has been running such classes for over 30 years. Books have been published on the subject and there are now many gurukulas which will teach Vedic chanting indiscriminately. With the invention of recording devices many Vedic scholars were delighted to have their voices recorded and publically sold and played.
The entire Veda is now available on CD (Nowadays MP3) and in South India one can frequently hear Vedic chanting played over PA systems. In the 21st century the great teachers of Veda are Swami Gooogle-ananda and Swami Youtube-ananda. So any one and everyone can learn Veda without let or hindrance. The notion that Sudras are forbidden to the learn or chant the Vedas is pre-modern - Vedic chanting is now being taught in Yoga Schools across the globe. The Vedas are now in the Public Domain since the majority of the traditional custodians have given up their exclusive rights to its transmission over 200 years ago!
One of the misconceptions of the caste system is that the hierarchy was based on economic power. It was not. The Brahmins in fact were an economically disadvantaged community because they could only live by teaching, performing rituals and by begging/charity. This is accorded by both Buddhist,Jain Chronicles .The Kshatriyas earned through wages and taxes, the Vaishyas through business and mercantile activities and the Shudras were land owners, farmers, skilled artisans and craftsmen and musicians who were highly respected and commanded very large incomes, as well as being the menial workers.
Infact The Vaisha-Sudra merged as a single socio-economic bloc.
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