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

S Jayanarayanan sjayana at
Wed Feb 9 14:32:33 CST 2005

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

> On Tue, 8 Feb 2005, S Jayanarayanan wrote:
> > 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.
> There is an alternative that you have not considered.  That
> Yudhisthira
> believes being a Brahmana-K (or Shudra-K etc.) is the path to
> becoming a
> Brahmana-G.

You are saying that the first verse that speaks of conduct being
decisive of a BrAhmaNa is talking about BrAhmaNa-G, and the
latter verses on saMskAra, GAyatrI mantra speak of BrAhmaNa-K?!

I can understand contextual interpretation, but YudhishhThira
would be deliberately misleading us if he were to switch gears
in interpreting the word "BrAhmaNa" differently within 10
verses, especially when a definition of the word is sought for,
and without giving us any warning that he is going to do so!

The less contrived interpretation is:

YudhishhThira is talking only about BrAhmaNa-K throughout.
Otherwise the saMskAra and GAyatrI mantra don't make sense,
since the BrAhmaNa-G has no use for it. The verses on
BrAhmaNa-hood not stemming from birth are clear that BrAhmaNa-K
is not derived by birth.

The final conclusion is:

For being a BrAhmaNa-K, the requirements are conduct, saMskAra,
the GAyatrI mantra, and not birth.

This easily explains everything that Ramana Maharshi has taught
concerning BrAhmaNa-hood. There are two incidents that can be
discussed in this regard:

1) Ganapati Muni, one of RM's foremost disciples, was a very
learned Brahmin, perhaps one of the most learned in India at
that time. He once said that he could, using mantras, initiate
into BrAhmaNa-hood any man irrespective of birth, provided the
man was willing to stick to the rules governing BrAhmaNas. But
no one came forward.

Recounting this incident to another disciple, RM said, "The
problem is the low self-esteem of the other castes. First remove

Note that RM saw nothing wrong with Ganapati Muni "converting"
non-BrAhmaNas into BrAhmaNa-hood with initiation, provided they
stuck to the right rules of conduct.

2) Devaraja Mudaliar, one of the non-Brahmin disciples of RM,
has recorded that RM forbade him to chant the Vedas along with
other BrAhmaNas. Devaraja Mudaliar concluded that it was because
he was not a Brahmin. This too, can easily be explained due to
the fact that Devaraja Mudaliar did not undergo initiation into
BrAhmaNa-hood with the GAyatrI mantra.


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