[Advaita-l] Pūjāri by Birth (Jāti), or by Qualification (Guṇa)?

Prashant Parikh prashantparikh at gmail.com
Fri May 6 09:38:07 EDT 2022

*Question: Is one a Purohit by birth (Jāti), or by qualification (Guṇa)?
Answer: The qūestion itself is a false binary. Both need to be factored in.
It cannot be "not by birth at all", nor can it be "by birth alone".... Yet,
both the propositions above are unequal. *
*1*. The objective approach in my view is that *some preference is given
and will continue to be given to birth, but the doors are not closed to
inspired individuals* as permitted to participate in these activities by
valid sampradayas.

*2. *It is not unreasonable to assume or even accept that an individual
born in a traditional brāhmin family may possess attributes that qualify
him to be a purohit due to background / environment /exposure It is also
not unreasonable to assume that an individual born outside of the
traditional context can be proficient at the same job, though speaking
*probabilistically*,* both outcomes are not 50-50%*.

*3*. Obviously, people brought up in a traditional context will have an
edge as purohits, just as a person born in a Gujarati family will **more
likely** have an edge over Gujarati, compared to his Assamese friend.
Though in **rarer** instances it is possible the Assamese friend can also
attain greater scholarship over Gujarati. I would like to place emphasis on
the words '*rarer*' and '*more likely*' to convey that those exceptions do
not define the rule but are to be accommodated all the same.

*4.* The argument against Jāti boils down to the same mistaken Activist
notion that a person born to privilege (call it wealth, call it first-world
vs third-world, call it male vs female, call it whatever) somehow must not
make good use of that privilege. In the context of Purohitas, Brāhmanas do
enjoy a privilege, and yet one can recognize that fact without assigning
exclusivity to that privilege, and acknowledging a balance, however skewed
it may be in one direction.

*5. Lastly, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, there is a component of Karma involved in
both- being born to a traditional family and enjoying that privilege, vs
being born to a non-traditional non-brāhmin family, and having a strong
inclination toward the pursuit due to again past karma janya samskara. *

*To deny Jāti is to deny Prārabdha Karma. To deny Guṇa (qualification) is
to deny Āgāmi Karma. Let's stop denying karma and taking on a partial view
of the world based on our Rāgas and Dveshas. *____
*EXTRA*: There was a question of whether this would only apply to Brahmana
professions. No, this was just an example, the rest can be extrapolated to
the other varnas, too. There are barriers to entry in any given market, in
any given profession. And not all of it should be deemed as unfair, because
moats do exist. Children of actors have a better chance of making it in
films. Children of businessmen (think Mukesh Ambani) will have a better
entry point and support when it comes to launching their own business. Same
with Ministers. Likewise, and *even more so highlighted in the case of
children of traditional brāhmin parents* who perform pūjas for a living,
they, by all means, will be in a better spot to take on the ordained role
of purohits/pujaris. Family exposure in this particular role cannot be
undermined. One can still learn business, government affairs, medicine,
craftwork etc from various sources, but vaidika karmas can only be taught
through family tradition or in veda pāthshālās, and these skills are not
easily accessible as some of the other skills are. I'm not arguing for what
should be the case, only that it is absurd to rebel against the fact that
children of Pujāris have an edge over performing Pūja. Of course they
will. P.S.
for those wondering, I'm a Vaishya by Jāti. Will follow up with more in a
subsequent post. Harih Om

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