[Advaita-l] Determination of Varna - Focus on Satyakama

Venkatesh Murthy vmurthy36 at gmail.com
Tue Aug 14 06:30:44 CDT 2012


Someone can argue like this. Satyakama's mother was serving many
Brahmin Rishis and some Rishi placed his seed in her and gave birth to
Satyakama. But the mother did not know which Rishi because she was
serving many Rishis. It is not same as she was living with unknown men
and gave birth to Satyakama. She was serving Rishis only but not
ordinary men.  It is possible some Brahmin Rishi only was father of
Satyakama but we do not know which Rishi exactly. Satyakama when he
asked his mother she said same thing.

Satyakama's teacher knew this also. Satyakama must have a Rishi only
as father. He accepted Satyakama also because he was telling the
truth. It is not at all possible Satyakama was born from a Sudra man.

On Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 1:59 AM, Rajaram Venkataramani
<rajaramvenk at gmail.com> wrote:
> First of all,  my apologies to those who think that this topic in
> unnecessary especially after 200 posts online and offline has not resolved
> the issue. It is for the very reason that I think it is very important. It
> shows the rigidity in the views held by different people. I think this
> topic is very important for a number of reasons. We may be studying
> vedanta or even consider ourselves practising vedantins but most of us do
> not have the qualification (viz. renounciation) to do so. But we all have
> the right to develop citta suddhi leading to aparoksha jnana where the
> correct performance of vaidhika karma or serving those who perform is
> necessary. Without citta suddhi, acquired only through participation
> in vaidhika karma, we cannot have realisation of saguna or nirguna brahman.
> Those who are ineligible should not be asked to perform vaidhika karma or
> renounce it through sannyasa. But this is happening today in neo-vedantic
> schools. Today, it is easy to learn the procedures for popular vaidhika
> karmas from Chinmaya Mission, Ramakrishna Mission, Arya Samaj etc. These
> teachers may still not know the still secret srauta rituals but all the
> common grhya rituals are known to them. On the other hand, we have
> Bhagavatha schools such as ISKCON, Jnaneshwaris etc. who rightly stress the
> importance of nama sankirtana but wrongly de-stress the importance of
> vaidhika karma. There one can consider oneself a dwija but not know even
> basic vaidhika karma.
> The root of the problem is rigid stand taken by casteist brahmanas. I am
> all for a rigid stand but not for one without a basis in texts or
> traditions. The casteist brahmanas take a rigid stand that even one who has
> not undergone any samskara, who has not even chanted gayatri for three
> generations etc. can acquire the right to perform vaidhika karma if he is
> born in what is considered a brahmana jati. But they will deny it to even
> the most qualified exceptions contemporary non-dwija families. I believe
> that the tradition used lineage as the natural means to determine varna but
> made exceptions. If jati were the only means to determine varna, there is
> no need for jyotisha, a vedanga, to provide means to do so. Also, those who
> think "I am a brahmana" should be ready for the litmus test of
> verification through jataka.  I do not see how brahmanatvam can be
> maintained without samskaras. We see that parayas were once kshatriyas but
> became sudras over time. The same will happen to corporate brahmanas of
> today if they continue to neglect vaidhika dharma.
> The importance of the satyakama incident in the upanishads in relation to
> this topic cannot be sufficiently emphasised. The very incidence shows that
> Gautama made a decision about Varna based on the quality of telling the
> truth irrespective of the consequence. For a sudra in pursuit of material
> happiness, that material happiness is greater than truth. For a vaishya in
> pursuit of wealth, that wealth is greater than truth. For a kshatriya in
> pursuit of victory, that victory is greater than truth. But for brahmana
> who is in pursuit of truth, what can be greater than truth? So, only a true
> brahmana can be truthful under all circumstances.
> Sri Jaldhar has been kind enough to offer argument in favour of no
> exception rule. It is better than those who make exception with no regard
> for rules and do not respect the astika community enough to defend their
> position based on sastras. But I dont think his arguments stand the test of
> logic nor do I think it is traditional. First, he argues that Gautama
> determined Satyakama's gotra from his mother's name. He has not explained
> how exactly this was done and what is satyakama's gotra. Second, he argues
> that the sutra is not important for great rishis because they "saw" the
> vedas, which includes procedures for yajnas. According to Cambridge
> University Press book on Early History of Brahmins, there is a reference to
> pravaras and sutras is in Yajur Veda. Irrespective of that, satyakama was
> not a mantra drshta. Even if a rishi were a mantra drshta, he (assuming a
> historic personality for the sake of discussion) has to learn the mantras
> that he did not see himself from others. So, it is not possible that he
> knew all the procedures for all the rituals without being taught. There is
> no pramana for that. Third, he argues that the base material for sakhas was
> present in the Vedas but they became four part only after Vyasa split them.
> And they became many parts only after his disciples further split them. But
> we see that the Purusha suktam itself talks about divisions such as yajus,
> sama etc. So, it is only right to say that the ever existent sakhas were
> protected by Vyasa by reducing the load on his disciples, who further
> reduced the load on his disciples. (This trend has continued to this day :))
> Hence I hold that satyakama was an exception and Gautama decided his gotra,
> sutra and sakha. He might have learnt all the Vedas but followed the
> procedures for rituals as per what his guru ordained him to do. I am happy
> to be corrected as always with reference to facts.
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