Questions for those familiar with Tamil History

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Jun 17 19:51:49 CDT 1999

Sankaran Panchapagesan <panchap at ICSL.UCLA.EDU> wrote:

>caste associations are fully explained by the dharmaSAstras. i.e. the
>caste of a person who is conceived by the (niyoga?) fasion in which Vyasa
>begets Dhritarashtra, Pandu and Vidura, is completely determined by the
>mother's caste, according to the dharmaSAstras, I think.

In niyoga, the caste was determined by that of the mother and that of her
lawfully wedded husband. The offspring was biologically another person's,
but was legally considered to be the husband's child. That is how the
Pandavas were sons of Pandu, although they weren't biologically his.
However, the same dharmaSAstras would be hard pressed to explain how vyAsa
himself was a brAhmaNa. His mother was not one, although his father was.

>        What do the dharmaSAstras say on this issue? Birth or conduct?

Usually birth, but eventually, there is always a rider attached regarding
conduct. It is basically a question of social status. One is usually born
into a pre-existing high or low status, but high status also has to be


>From  Sat Jul 17 21:00:45 1999
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Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1999 21:00:45 -0400
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To: List for advaita vedanta as taught by Shri Shankara
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I remember reading somewhere that if the Shruti says two different things,
then both are to be accepted as true. Only when the Smriti conflicts with
Shruti should the Shruti be taken as being valid.

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