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

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at braincells.com
Mon Aug 20 23:30:26 CDT 2012

On Fri, 17 Aug 2012, Rajaram Venkataramani wrote:

> Then, though he did not know his kula and gotra, he accepts him as a
> brahmana because he did not flinch from truth. <quote> As you have not
> flinched from truth, which is the rightful duty of brahmana caste, I accept
> you as a Brahmana and am going to initiate you. Fetch fuel, my boy, for the
> fire rites". <\quote> (Sa. Bh. Ch. Up. 4.4.5). This is not the norm but an
> exception made based on guna.

I suppose it is a character flaw on my part to keep responding to trolling 
but as it pains me to see shastra and Shankaracharya misquoted, here is 
the relevant bhashya.

taM hovAcha gautamo naitadvacho.abrAhmaNo visheShaNa 
vaktumarhatyArjavArthasaMyuktaM |  R^ijavo hi brAhmANA netare svabhAvataH |
yasmAnna satyAbrAhmaNajAtirdharmAdagA nApetAnasi ato brAhmaNaM

"Gautama said to him, none but a Brahmana could speak in this way" -- such 
an honest declaration only a Brahmana could make.  Because it is the 
Brahmanas not others whose svabhava[1] is to speak honestly. "As you 
have not flinched from truth" --  which is the characteristic[2] of the 
Brahmana jAti[3] therefore you are a Brahmana.

[1] natural inclination.  You cannot be certfied with svabhava by anyone 
it is by definition something in your very nature.

[2] Note that while dharma typically means duty, it can also mean 
innate characteristic as any dictionary will tell you.  Shankaracharya 
also uses it this way elsewhere e.g Mandukyabhashya 4.8   That meaning is 
preferable because it is reiterating the idea of svabhava.  However even 
if the interpretation "rightful duty" were to be taken, it would be the 
duty of the Brahmana jati not an individual so it changes nothing.

[3] Note the word jati is used here not varna.

The upshot is that you and the reformers have it backwards.  It is not 
"You speak truth therefore you must be a Brahmana" but "You are a 
Brahmana so you cannot help but speak truth."  Far from making an 
exception for an anomaly, Gautama is praising a class and an exemplar of 
that class.

And I must emphasize all this was already discussed earlier in the the 
thread.  You are now just repeating yourself.  If you have nothing new to 
add, do not post any further.  Let me repeat that for emphasis.  IF YOU 

> We can check the correctness of the
> above position with Sringeri Acharya on this. If he says this is not a case
> of exception, I will accept exception is not the traditional position. But
> if he says exception is allowed, then you should be willing to change your
> position. It is an open challenge.

So have at it.  The Shringeri acharya is not a member of this list so take 
it up with him instead of hundreds of unrelated people.  Or better yet 
stop trying to save the world and improve your own understanding first.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at braincells.com>

More information about the Advaita-l mailing list