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

rajaramvenk at gmail.com rajaramvenk at gmail.com
Fri Aug 17 02:36:33 CDT 2012

I will respond in detail as there is more anger in the tone than content in the post. But this anger is in the interest of protection of dharma. So, it is pleasing. But truth is more pleasing and lasting than emotions.  Can you please tell the group based on Sankara Bhashya, how satyakama's varna was determined? Please read again with an open mind to understand rather than defend your position. If we accept Sankara Bhashya (or current Sringeri Acharya), then  we will both arrive at the same truth. 
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-----Original Message-----
From: "Jaldhar H. Vyas" <jaldhar at braincells.com>
Sender: advaita-l-bounces at lists.advaita-vedanta.org
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2012 02:33:12 
To: A discussion group for Advaita Vedanta<advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org>
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Subject: Re: [Advaita-l] Determination of Varna - Focus on Satyakama

On Mon, 13 Aug 2012, Rajaram Venkataramani wrote:

> 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.

It is no wonder you are so confused when your very premises are incorrect. 
Vaidika karma is not necessary for chitta shuddhi, egoless observance of 
one svadharma dedicated to Bhagavan is.  For Brahmanas this means Vaidika 
karma but if ones svadharma is that of a ditch digger then excellence in 
digging ditches is the equal of agnihotra.  To understand the smarta 
philosophy of dharma see the story of Dharmavyadha in the Mahabharata. 
Kaushika a learned Brahmana but with no self-control is humbled by a 
housewife and a hunter/butcher of Mithila who diligently observe their 
svadharma with mastery of the senses.  Shankaracharya explicitly refers to 
Dharmavyadha as a jnani at the same time as he is denying his adhikara for 

> 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.

First of all I vehemently reject your slanderous portrayal of "Casteist 
Brahmanas"  You are projecting onto astikas your own chauvinist and 
elitist ideas where the non-Brahmanas suffer from some hideous disability 
which can only be cured by your oh so magnanimous gifts.  Whereas we 
believe that the chitta that needs Shuddhi is the same in a  Brahmana, or 
a Shudra or a Swede.  If Shankaracharya could see a hunter as a jnani who 
the hell are you to look down on him for not wearing a particular string?

Now there are others who wish Brahmanahood not out of envy or inferiority 
but because they like it.  Which is flattering to be sure but still not 
anything to be condoned because it is based on desire for impermanent 
things.  It may seem more high-minded than desire for sex, drugs, and rock 
and roll but it is a type of hedonism just the same and the very opposite 
of chitta shuddhi.

Second, you raise another straw man when you talk about brahmana jatis who 
allegedly are being granted the secret handshake without any kind of study 
or practice.  Where is the evidence of this?  In fact the same people who 
are saying birth is a necessary condition for vedadhikara are also saying 
it is not a sufficient condition.  In fact they are going blue in the face 
promoting the need for greater achara and understanding.  But instead of 
recognizing your own failure to grasp the difference between necessary and 
sufficient you project your inadequacies onto astikas.  With friends like 
these who needs the Goan Inquisition!

Third, you talk about having a basis in texts and traditions when it is 
convenient to you yet you are the one championing the utterly absurd 
notion that once can determine varna by horoscope.  When has such a thing 
ever been applied? By whom?  Please understand that the onus is on the 
deviants to explain why they are deviating not on anyone else.

> 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.

Let me spell it out yet again.  Satyakama asks his mother what gotra he 
belongs to, kiM gotronvahasmi.  (Chhandogya 4.4.1)  She replies

sA hainuvAcha nAhametadveda tAta yadgotrastvamasi bahvahaM charantI 
parichariNI yauvane tvAmalabhe sa.ahametanna veda yadgotrastvamasi jabAlA 
tu nAmAhamasmi satyakAmo nAma tvamasi sa satyakAma eva jAbAlo bruvIthA 
iti || 4.4.2 ||

"She replied I do not know child.  In my youth when I had to move about 
much as a servant I conceived you.  So I do not know your gotra.  But I am 
named Jabala and you are named Satyakama so say you are Satyakama Jabala."

jAbAla is being proposed as a gotra name for Satyakama as this is the only 
connection with his family.  That's all a gotra was, a family. Now, much 
later on, gotra is more formalized but it is anachronistic to read todays 
views into the past if you are dead set on taking a historical approach.

> Second, he argues that the sutra is not important for great rishis 
> because they "saw" the vedas, which includes procedures for yajnas.

No I am explaining that a sutra is a result of the deliberations between 
Rshis who saw the procedures for Yajnas.  In some cases one view is 
overruled in favor of another.  In other cases multiple views are kept as 

> According to Cambridge
> University Press book on Early History of Brahmins, there is a reference to
> pravaras and sutras is in Yajur Veda.

LOL.  You know you're scraping the bottom of the barrel when you're 
reduced to appealing to the Cambridge University Press.

> Irrespective of that, satyakama was
> not a mantra drshta. Even if a rishi were a mantra drshta,

A Rshi is by definition a mantradrashta.  Satyakama is in fact quoted as 
an authority on an aspect of the Ashvamedha in Shatapathabrahmana 5.13.3. 
The next section of the upanishad (4.9) says he had many shishyas 
including Upakoshala Kamalayana.

> he (assuming a
> historic personality for the sake of discussion)

And why should you have to do that?  Shankaracharya calls this 
an story for demonstrating that shraddha and tapa are necessary parts 
of brahmopasana.  (shraddhAtapasorbrahmopasanA~ngatvapradarshanAya 

> 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.

Yes of course he was taught.  Isn't the whole point of this story to 
explain how he came to be taught by Haridrumata?  But Why does his 
learning some things imply that he could not have seen other things?

> 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.

Uh no it doesn't.  31.7 (in the Vajasaneyi Samhita) talks about rks, 
samans, and yajus along with meters (chhandas.)  These are literary forms 
not divisions of a text.  Did it not occur to you that the purusha sukta 
occurs in both the rgveda and yajurveda?  In fact most of the contents of 
the 4 vedas are repeated in different places. A rk is a metrical verse. 
The purushasukta, even in the yajurveda, consists of 16 rks.  The first 15 
in anushtubha chhanda and the last in trishtubha.  A yajus is a 
non-metrical section of prose.  A saman is a set of rks set to music. 
They all existed long before their collection into systematic units.

On Tue, 14 Aug 2012, Venkatesh Murthy wrote:

> In the Sankaracharya movie and other places they say Jabala was not
> married but she had a son Satyakama. She was serving many Rishis and
> she knew one of the Rishis was the father but not who exactly.

This is more of an insight into the sick perverted minds of the reformers 
than anything which finds support in the upanishad.  Here is 
Shankaracharyas commentary on 4.1.2 which I reproduced above.

evaM pR^iShTA jabAlA sA hainaM putramuvAcha nAhametattava gotraM veda he 
tAta yadgotrastvamasi kasmAnna vetsityuktAha bahu bhartragR^ihe 
paricharyAjAta tiyyabhyAgatAdi charantyahaM parichAriNI paricharantIti 
paricharaNashIlaivAhaM paricharaNavilptayA gotrAdismaraNe mama mano nAbhut |
yauvane cha tatkAle tvAmalabhe labdhavatyasmi | ato.anAthAhaM sAhamettana 
veda yadgotraH tvamasi |

Having been thus asked, Jabala answered her son, "I do not know child" -- 
I do not know your gotra.  Being asked why she did not know it she said in 
my husbands house "I had to move about much as a servant" -- attending 
upon guests etc. and being so engaged had no time to remember your gotra etc. 
"In my youth" -- that was the time when "I conceived you" and it was then 
that your father died.  Therefore having been left without a husband "I 
do not know your gotra"

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>
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