Statements in our shastras

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Thu Feb 20 13:54:46 CST 2003

On Wed, 19 Feb 2003, Dr. P.K. Nair wrote:

> Ravi Chandrashekhar wrote:
> Vasista DharmaSutra (3:1)
> "Brahmins who are not learned, do not teach, or who do not maintain the
> sacred fires become equal to sudras."
> I do not put this quote in the same class as the others.  It is a simple
> statement of fact.

Please be careful with attributions.  I wrote the last two lines.

> This is an oxymoronic statement. Only through learning, teaching and
> maintaining the sacred fires etc. one becomes a Brahmin.

No one becomes a Brahmana[1] by being born to Brahmana parents as should
be obvious to any observer of Indian society.  One becomes a _good_
Brahmana by learning, teaching, maintaining fire.

> Those who do not
> were never and, therefore, the question of becoming does not arise.

Then how do you explain Aswatthama who despite being a Brahmana is judged
by the Mahabharata to be very wicked for killing the children of the
Pandavas?  Or Vidura who was a Shudra but is called one of the wisest men
of his generation?  Virtue is orthogonal to caste. Ideally Brahmanas like
all people should live up the standards set from them but unfortunately in
reality it's not always the case hence Maharshi Vasishtas admonition.

[1]my pet crusade is against the spelling Brahmin as this was just silly
mispronounciation by the British that we needn't perpetuate.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>
It's a girl! See the pictures -

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