Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 28 10:55:13 CST 2000

On Thu, 27 Jan 2000 18:53:18 -0600, Sankaran Jayanarayanan
<kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU> wrote:

>"One who crosses the sea (samudrasaMyAnaM) loses his caste," according to
>the BaudhAyana DS 2,1,2,2. Govinda, a commentator on this shAstra explains
>that whosoever makes voyages by sea by means of a ship to another island
>loses his caste and needs to perform a prAyashchitta (penance) in order to
>re-enter the caste system. This is the traditional view, and there is some
>historical support that this was indeed accepted by orthodox Brahmins
>until about a century ago. It is only recently that BrAhmaNas have crossed
>the sea to other islands and yet didn't think it an offence at all. The
>VishhNu purANa says that in all the lands outside of BhArata-varshha
>(India), there are no divisions of caste. The varNAshrama may well be
>inapplicable in a land like the USA, even to Indians settled here.
[...] (other instances of apparent contradiction with smR^iti)

 That is not likely to be true. A couple of years ago, we had scores
 of orthodox brAhmaNas making a trip to the US and performing an
 Atirudra Homa. If crossing the sea is so devastating to one's
 brAhmaNatva, then all these brAhmaNas would certainly not have
 done so. Again, we have several very traditional brAhmaNa priests
 in temples here in the US. Can we really say these people are not
 brAhmaNas at all?

 This is where the point of shishhTAchAra or conduct of good people,
 elders, etc., as a source of Dharma, comes into play. There may
 be some smR^iti sources that prohibit crossing the sea, but we have
 in front of us, right now, many brAhmaNas seemingly contradict the

 True, the smR^iti is, in general, a more powerful authority than
 shishhTAchAra. But then again, the same principle of reconcilation
 applies here too as in the case between shruti and smR^ti. Since
 we have an apparent contradiction, we need to see if there can be
 some reconciliation. One important thing that KumArila BhaTTa
 mentions in his tantra-vArtika is that we have to see if there is
 any motive arising out of greed, anger, delusion, hatred,  etc., in the
 *lesser* authority that is apparently contradicting the higher one.
 If there is such a motive then the *lesser* authority has to be
 rejected. Although it may be true that some orthodox brAhmaNas come
 to the US and other countries out of a greed for money, etc., it is NOT
 the case that ALL such people come here with some selfish motive.
 Therefore, there is NO conclusive evidence in this case that the
 lesser authority, ie. shishhTAchAra, is driven by a selfish motive.

 So we must conclude that the shishhTAchara position can be reconciled
 and need not be rejected. Therefore, homas, yaGYas, etc. CAN be
 performed outside India too. Maybe, there is some prAyashchitta,
 such as taking the panchagavya, etc. that needs to be done, but
 it seems unlikely that a blanket condemnation of brAhmaNa life
 outside of India is hardly called for. Still, it may be safe to say that
 those who have crossed the ocean  out of greed, etc., will have
 lost their brAhmaNa status.


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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