Question about Varna

ravi chandrasekhara vadhula at YAHOO.COM
Mon Mar 4 22:54:18 CST 2002

Dear List Members:

This is the best summary I could find regarding a
dialogue between Yudhisthira and a Yaksha from the
Mahabharata:( I discoverd this website of this
gentleman involved with a Hindu Temple in Connecticut

I welcome reponses to my question about varna,

Pranam --  Ravi Chandrasekhara MD

In fact that question was put to Yudhishtira by the
Yaksha (See my book: Yaksha Prashna, A Hindu Primer,
IND-US, 1984). Listen to the Yaksha and Yudhishtira.

rajan kulena vrttena svadhyayena shrutena va

brahmanyam kenabhavati prabruhyetatsu nishcitam

King, how does one become a Brahmin: by birth?

character? study of the Vedas? education? Tell me

shrnu yaksha kulam tata nasvadhyayo nacashrutam

karanam hi dvijatve ca vrttameva na samshayha

Listen, Yaksha, it is neither birth nor education, nor
even the study

of the Vedas. Without doubt, it is character alone
that marks a Brahmin.

Yudhishthira's answer is crisp, clear and unambiguous
when he replies, 'Na samshayaha ... there is no doubt
about it: it is not birth, it is not education, it is
not the study of the Vedas but it is vritta
(character) alone that determines a Brahmin."

What is Yudhishthira's definition of character? He has
already answered the same question in a previous
passage in the Mahabharata, the dialogue with King
Nahusha: "He is known as a Brahmin ... in whom
truthfulness, liberality, patience, deportment,
mildness, self control, and compassion are found. And
he may gain knowledge of the Supreme Brahman, beyond
happiness and unhappiness ... on reaching which they
grieve no more." The long list of attributes may be
looked upon as components of character.

--- "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM> wrote:
> On Sun, 3 Mar 2002, ravi chandrasekhara wrote:
> > For example in the
> > Mahabharata, there is a discussion btween
> Yudishtara
> > and a Gandharva (if remember correctly), refers to
> > varna not being birth-based ?
> can you post that discussion or a summary?
> --
> Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
> It's a girl! See the pictures -

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