Questions for those familiar with Tamil History

Sankaran Panchapagesan panchap at ICSL.UCLA.EDU
Thu Jun 17 20:21:48 CDT 1999

> 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.

        Am I right in saying that dharmaSAstras are only to determine the
duties/rights of a person in society, and does not apply to saints?
        In that case, Vyasa is a Rshi, and a Rshi has no caste, and is
called a brAhmaNa by his conduct and qualities, I think. It is in that
sense that Vishvamitra is finally conceded the title of a brAhmaNa (or
brahmaRshi) by Vasistha - after he has controlled himself and subdued his
anger, and attained brahma-jnAna - but many Western authors I have seen,
including Van Buitenen, state that this is the only instance of a person
changing his caste to become a brahmin!

        In the Mahabharata, Vyasa, as soon as he's born to Satyavati,
grows big, automatically becomes a Rshi, and tells his mother not to fear,
and that he would be at her side if she should ever think of him.
        "The Book of Veda Vyasa" in the Krishnavatara series by K.M.Munshi
published by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan makes very interesting reading.
According to his account of Vyasa's (exciting!) life, Vyasa becomes a muni
at a very young age when he leaves with his father Muni Parashara and was
apparently referred to as Bala-muni. Does this have any basis in the


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