Birth and Caste (was Re: [Advaita-l] RE: Vedic Shakhas ...)

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at
Tue Feb 8 20:37:50 CST 2005

--- "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at> wrote:

> On Wed, 2 Feb 2005, S Jayanarayanan wrote:
> > The "similarity" in the genes between a nematode and a human
> is
> > *only* in the *number* of genes (24000 for humans and 19000
> for
> > nematodes), NOT in the nature of the genes. I'm not sure why
> > you're saying there is a lot of similarity between the genes
> of
> > a human and a nematode?
> I'm rapidly getting out of my depth here but I was under the
> impression
> that the nematode was used in genetic research precisely
> because it was
> similiar albeit simpler than the human genome.  If not the
> nematode then
> substitute some other animal. 

An analogy is required here. There exist three texts:

1) The GItA as read in South India with 700 shlokas.
2) The GItA as read in Kashmir with 701 shlokas.
3) The "King Lear" work attributed to William Shakespeare has a
similar *length* as that of the South Indian GItA.

Consider these statements:

A) The South Indian GItA and the Kashmiri GItA probably came
from the same original text.
B) "King Lear" and the GItA probably came from the same original

I don't need to explain further why statement A would be
accepted by all scholars, but statement B would not. The
nematode is used in genetic research because the total number of
genes is similar to that of humans (19000 vs. 24000). However,
the gene sequences are very different, and bear little or no

The similarity between the genes of two men is about 99.8%. The
"variation" that you see among the men of the world is within
the 0.2%. For example, variations in skin color from white to
black to yellow to brown to red, accounts for a glorious 3 (or
6) genes out of a total of 24000.

Geneticists can also identify ancestry based on the number of
"DNA markers" from generation to generation, that capture the
genetic variations from parents to children. These DNA markers
are particularly easy to track down in the Y-chromosome (found
only in men). Using all this data, geneticists themselves have
come to the conclusion that the men of the world had a common
male ancestor a couple of thousand generations ago.

Anything more, you have to ask the geneticists :-)


> > 1) YudhishhThira first defines BrAhmaNahood:
> >
> > satya.n dAnaM kShamA shIlamAnR^isha.nsyaM damo ghR^iNA .
> > dR^ishyante yatra nAgendra sa brAhmaNa iti smR^itaH ..
> 16..\\
> >
> > "Yudhishthira said, 'O foremost of serpents, he, it is
> asserted
> > by the wise, in whom are seen truth, charity, forgiveness,
> good
> > conduct, benevolence, observance of the rites of his order
> and
> > mercy is a Brahmana."
> >

There are two possibilities:

1) BrAmaNa-G -- The word "BrAhmaNa" refers to one who has GYAna.
This id most definitely not by birth. Even the manIshha
panchakam.h is enough to refute this.

2) BrAhmaNa-K -- The word "BrAhmaNa" refers to one who performs
his duties as required by the Vedas, smR^itis, etc. It's your
contention that this is by both birth and conduct.

It is reasonable to suppose that the entire set of verses are
speaking of the same definition of a BrAhmaNa. YudhishhThira
wouldn't "shift gears" from one to another. 

So it could be the case that the definition of "BrAhmaNa" is
either as BrAhmaNa-G or as BrAhmaNa-K throughout all the verses.

> Btw, the shloka does not say "it is asserted by the wise" it
> says "iti
> smrtah", it is remembered (i.e, it is the tradition) or it is
> said in
> Smrti.  Yudhishthira goes on to say a person with these
> qualities can gain
> knowledge of the supreme Brahman which is beyond happiness and
> unhappiness.

If you accept that this verse speaks only of GYAna, then the
entire dialog refers only BrAhmaNa-G and NOT BrAhmaNa-K.

> > 2) YudhishhThira goes on to forcefully *deny* BrAhmaNahood
> to
> > one who does not have these qualities though he be born as
> one:
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> >
> > shUdre chaitadbhavellakShya.n dvije tachcha na vidyate .
> > na vai shUdro bhavechchhUdro brAhmaNo na cha brAhmaNaH ..
> 20..\\
> > yatraitallakShyate sarpavR^itta.n sa brAhmaNaH smR^itaH .
> > yatraitanna bhavetsarpata.n shUdramiti nirdishet .. 21..\\
> >
> > "Yudhishthira said, Those characteristics that are present
> in a
> > Sudra, do not exist in a Brahmana; nor do those that are in
> a
> > Brahmana exist in a Sudra. And a Sudra is not a Sudra by
> birth
> ^^^^^^^^
> > alone--nor a Brahmana is Brahmana by birth alone. He, it is
> said
>   ^^^^^                             ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> > by the wise, in whom are seen those virtues is a Brahmana.
> And
> > people term him a Sudra in whom those qualities do not
> exist,
>   ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> > even though he be a Brahmana by birth."
>               ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>  Only when one
> is reborn with Savatri (Gayatri mantra) as the mother and the
> acharya as
> the father is one "truly" a Brahmana. 

Note that you are saying that this is BrAhmaNa-K.

> > 3) And finally, YudhishhThira affirms BrAhmaNahood to
> *anyone*
> > who possesses the aforesaid qualities:
> No he doesn't.
> >
> > yatredAnIM mahAsarpasa.nskR^ita.n vR^ittamiShyate .
> > taM brAhmaNamahaM pUrvamuktavAnbhujagottama .. 32..\\
> >
> > "Yudhishthira said, 'O excellent snake! Whosoever now
> conforms
> > to the rules of pure and virtuous conduct, him have I, ere
> now,
> > designated as a Brahmana.'"
> Whoever is _sa.nskR^ita.n_, who has passed through sanskaras
> such as
> upanayana is to be treated as a Brahmana. 

So now you're saying that Y is again referring to BrAhmaNa-K! 

Moreover, _anyone_ can go through the saMskAras, even though he
be born a shUdra! 

Both the GAyatrI mantra as well as the upanayana are *kArmic*
and have nothing whatsoever to do with GYAna.


Do You Yahoo!?
Tired of spam?  Yahoo! Mail has the best spam protection around 

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list