brahman by birth or guna and karma

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at CCO.CALTECH.EDU
Tue Nov 26 12:53:57 CST 1996

> > But I doubt if Satyavati, Vyasa's mother, was the daughter of a
> > fisherman. She is supposed to have been born of the seed of a deva
> > which was swallowed by a fish, if I remember right. So she had divine
> > genes :-)
> >

Actually, the seed which the fish swallowed was from Uparicara, the king
of Chedi, a human being definitely, and an ancestor of the evil Sisupala,
to boot. Satyavati's genes were half-kshatriya (not divine), and the
other half of her genes came from the fish that swallowed the king's seed!

> Not to mention that his father was the Rshi Parashara so as far as the
> shastras are concerned, he is a Brahman.

Manu, and a large number of other smr.tikAras, would not accept this. A
whole list of "mixed-castes" arising from parents of different castes is
given in the Manusmr.ti. The father being a brAhmaNa is not enough, the
mother has to be born to a brAhmaNa too, if the offspring is to be
considered brAhmaNa by birth. Also, remember that parASara is a
descendent of vasishTha, whose mother was UrvaSi, a common woman,
albeit among the gods.

Actually, the smr.tis exempt mantra-drashTas (the seers of the Vedic
hymns) from rigid varNa classification. There is a common saying, "Don't
question the origins of r.shis and rivers."


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