[Advaita-l] Advaita and Caste System

Praveen R. Bhat bhatpraveen at gmail.com
Thu Oct 28 01:46:05 CDT 2010

Hari OM, Suresh ji,

Advaita Vedanta like all orthodox systems believes in karma theory, in
which case birth and caste are both determined by actions in previous
births, cumulative. That said, caste system is not racism because
shAstrAs that are offshoots from Vedas define what a person of one
caste should follow, unlike racism created by humans. The body, mind
and intellect among humans is not the same, only the Atman is the
same, in which case, caste applies to the BMI and not to the Atman.
Just because modern science says everything is same at the atomic
level, we don't substitute one material for other considering
everything same, do we? There is no hypocrisy here. The level of
equality cannot be applied to anything and everything because
everything is One at the level of brahman/ paramArthika. This is
neither denial nor rationalization, its what the foundation says. One
cannot be selective in choosing from the Vedas as per his own modern
beliefs and misunderstandings.

If such questions do arise, discarding all that karma theory stands
for, one must try and correct his own misunderstanding. A simple
parallel I suggest is with the following example: modern thinking
suggests that the eligibility of a person to do anything is to be
based on the education, experience and level of intelligence he
acquired. Does anyone question this and if not, why not call all equal
and fight that out? Orthodox systems believe in the same thing but the
span is not restricted to this life, its spread across lives, which an
average human being cannot see. The present life is a result of such
acquisition across past lives and hence the birth in a particular
caste in this life, defining the eligibility.

Kind rgds,
--Praveen R. Bhat
/* Through what should one know That owing to which all this is known!
[Br.Up. 4.5.15] */

On Thu, Oct 28, 2010 at 11:58 AM, Suresh <mayavaadi at yahoo.com> wrote:
> Namaste,
> Thanks for your responses.
> There seems to be some kind of confusion, so let me clear this up. Asking why caste system is evil is like asking why racism is evil! It is so evident that it doesn't merit an explanation. It is dehumanizing when society gets to determine an individual's place based upon his birth to certain parents- which caste system does. It is similar to how white people used to determine what Blacks should and shouldn't do as if the latter were incapable of making their own decision.
> Anyway, my point is that not one advaitin acharya or scholar has even attempted to speak out against caste. At the most, they say the usual platitudes that all people are equal and so on, but they continue to maintain the system that puts certain people at the top (based upon birth, not even other factors) and the rest at the bottom. That's quite hypocritical, isn't it?
> That's why I am surprised because I could understand dualists doing this. But advaitins not believing in equality is similar to a humanist not believing in equality and social justice. It is so contradictory.
> Again, I apologize if this offends people but I do not know how else I can put it. Caste system is racism and no amount of denial or rationalization is going to change that. The question is: what are we advaitins going to do about it?
> Regards,
> Suresh

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