Shruti Vs Smriti

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Tue Aug 12 19:52:37 CDT 1997

On Tue, 12 Aug 1997, Gregory Goode wrote:

> A couple of questions.  I read and ponder and contemplate material from the
> Upanishads every day.  I wouldn't call myself a Sannyasi, but more of a
> householder.  Therefore I might be doing an enterprise (jnana kanda) that
> I'm not supposed to.  Should I just forget it??  (I won't of course,
> just asking!)

Your reading is pointless but one day it could lead to something so in
that sense it is worth continuing.  That's how I characterize my study of
Vedanta too.  There are far more practical things I read such as vyakarana
but one day when I do take sannyasa knowledge of Vedanta will be

> Also, on caste, I've heard two major interpretations.  One seems to have
> its basis in the Gita (no copy at work here, sorry, quotations will have to
> come later).  I might be wrong here, but the Gita seems to derive one's
> caste assignment from the particular distribution of sattva, rajas and
> tamas in the individual.  According to your proportion of the gunas, you
> belong to one of the castes, regardless of what family you were born into.
> The other interpretation might be called more fundamentalist, and has to
> do with the family one was born into.

I think the first view would more accurately called fundamentalist.  It
takes one passage from one work (which isn't even about caste) out of
context and attempts to craft a theory out of it.  The idea that caste is
based on birth isn't just a matter of ideology it is the historical truth.

> So take the example of a Westerner
> like myself.  Works for a living, maintains a home, has some sort of
> sadhana, might study advaita, even with a teacher.  Even so, as a non-Hindu
> or perhaps a non-Indian, this Westerner is an outcaste.  Perhaps in a
> future birth this person might be born into an Indian family and hence into
> one of the other castes.  I have no textual citation for this interpretation,
> but have seen it in newsgroups, BBS's, mail-lists, etc.

That is indeed the way Indians understand caste.

Jaldhar H. Vyas [jaldhar at]   And the men .-_|\ who hold
Consolidated Braincells Inc.                          /     \ -)~~~~~~~~  Perth->*.--._/  o-
"Witty quote" - Dead Guy   /\/\/\ _ _ ___ _  _ Amboy       v      McQ!

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