[Advaita-l] Eligibility of Shudras & Outcastes to learn Hinduism

Venkata sriram P venkatasriramp at yahoo.in
Thu Jul 19 01:37:08 CDT 2012

Sunil Ji,
Study of rAmAyaNa is solution to all of our problems.  Nobody denied the esoteric 
knowledge to shUdrAs even though they are barred from vaidika karma kANDa. 
If you study the episode of mahAyogini shabari (who belonged to tribal community ie.,
shAbara jAti), Bhagavan Ramachandra liberated her and even performed her 
antya kriyAs.  This one statement of rAmachandra is so powerful:
evam uktaH sa dharmaatmaa shabaryaa shabariim idam 
raaghavaH praaha vij~naane taam nityam abahiS.hkR^itaam 
shabaryaa evam uktaH= by Shabari, that way, one who is= addressed - Rama; dharmaatmaa= graceful souled one; saH raaghavaH= he that, Raghava; nityam= ever vi j~naane= from clearly, knowing - from gnosis, from esoteric knowledge; a+ bahiSkR^itaam= not, debarred lady - Shabari; taam shabariim = to her, to such Shabari; idam pra aaha= this, clearly [enquiringly,] said.
When that graceful souled Rama is addressed thus by Shabari, he that Raghava enquiringly said this to that Shabari who is never ever debarred from esoteric knowledge and gnosis. 
'though ignoble by birth...' is the assumed finishing line. There are many exclamations and arguments for and against this caste oriented banalities. So taking by those days we may find the characters of this Shabari, tribal king Guha, Dasharatha's minister Sumantra, and the like and then we may examine how much the so-called outcaste is cared for or sought after. They may be ineligible to perform ritual deeds but none is barred from esoteric knowledge.
Our ancient teachers never debarred knowledge to the lowly people.  They were the examples of *swayaM teerthAn parAn tArayanti*.  Tribal Women Shabari 
was a maid servant in matanga ashrama.  However, rose to the level of yogini
by interacting with the sages and picked up sacred knowledge.  See the excerpts from Ramayana:
kR^itsnam vanam idam dR^iSTam shrotavyam ca shrutam tvayaa 
tat icChaami abhyanuj~naataa tyakshyaami etat kalevaram || 3-74-28
tvayaa= by you; kR^itsnam idam vanam dR^iSTam= in its entirety, this, woodland, is seen; shrotavyam ca shrutam= listenable, also, listened; tat= thereby; abhyanuj~naataa = to be a permittee [where you are my permitter]; etat= this one; kalevaram [kale aavaram= for aliveness, encasement, body of living being]= sheath, called body; tyakshyaami - tyaktum= to leave off; icChaami= I wish to.
"You have seen what is seeable and you have listened what is listenable of this woodland in its entirety... thereby I wish to become a permittee, where you alone are my permitter, as I wish to castaway this sheathe of soul, called my body... to make that soul to move nigh of my teachers feet... [3-74-28]
teSaam icChaami aham gantum samiipam bhaavita aatmanaam |
muniinaam aashramo yeSaam aham ca paricaariNii || 3-74-29
aashramaH= [this] hermitage; yeSaam muniinaam = of which, sages - belonged to which sages; aham ca [yeSaam] paricaariNii= I, also, [whose,] maidservant; bhaavita aatmanaam= to contemplative, souled ones; teSaam= to their; samiipam= proximity; aham gantum icChaami = I, to go to, yearn [soulfully.]
"Of which sages this hermitage is, and of which sages I am also a maidservant, I soulfully go the proximity of those contemplative souls..." Thus, she appealed to Rama. 
At the same time one must not forget that it was the same rAmachandra who punished
a shUdra tapasvin shaMbhUka.  
Hope you understand the dharma sUkSma here.  Food for thought.

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