[Advaita-l] janmana jaayate shUdraH

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Fri Feb 11 14:20:49 CST 2005

>Sri Vidyasankar has said that he is even Ok with not
>having upanayana for vedic study. Does he mean only
>for the first three castes ?

I do not know what in my previous posting gave this impression. Quoting 

"Personally, I would say upanayana is a prerequisite for learning to chant
the veda, because that would be a sign of respecting the tradition. However,
also personally, for people who show interest and sincerity, I would not
restrict upanayana according to birth."

It should be clear that I consider upanayana to be necessary (prerequisite). 
I am only saying that I would not restrict it according to birth in an upper 
caste. For me, upanayana is not an ostentatious ritual where a boy is given 
a cotton sUtra, and gold and silver threads too, and then everybody feasts, 
and nothing else happens after. No, upanayana is an initiatory ritual for 
study of the veda. Without getting into whether birth in an upper caste 
family is necessary, all I am saying is that if someone is interested in 
learning the veda, that someone has to respect the tradition and be willing 
to go through the upanayana first. And that can be done by a guru (as Ravi 
pointed out, this cannot be a sannyAsi) who can evaluate the interest and 
sincerity of the person first hand. It doesn't have to be the biological 
father who performs the upanayana.

I would also like to address a point raised by Siddhartha Krishna, about 
whether a yajnopavIta is to be worn all the time or not. It is true that 
wearing an upper cloth can be done in upavIta, nivIta or prAcInAvIta form, 
depending on the ritual context, and that it is nowhere stated that it has 
to be a thread and not a cloth. No man or woman goes around without covering 
their chest in some form or the other. On the other hand, for one who 
strictly observes all the karma-s, starting with daily performance of the 
sandhyAvandana and gAyatrI japa, it is simply more convenient to always wear 
an upavIta that is just a sUtra. We have to remember that even regular, 
daily bathing can be done in a ritual fashion, with appropriate mantras. 
That is why the practice of always wearing the thread has become prevalent 
among brAhmaNas. Indeed, the equivalence of the threads to an upper cloth is 
seen from the practice of some householders who wear a third set, with the 
words "uttarIyArthe tritIyaM yajnopavItaM dhArayAmi".


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