Written by Sulaiman Razvi
The Purusha Sukta of the Veda is the root of the caste system in Hinduism which says ‘The head of the Lord became the Brahmin, from his chest came the Vaisya, from his thighs the Kshatriyas and from his feet the Shudras were born’. Later texts like the Puranas, Smritis etc. further deteriorated the status of the Shudras. It’s ironic that Brahmins oppressed the lower caste but few of them (political and religious leaders) today are trying to give equal status to the lower caste. In reality they have no sympathy towards the lower castes, the motive behind this is to attract more followers. How come this generosity has suddenly aroused towards the poor Shudras? The Shudras were ill-treated for centuries, Caste system in Hinduism is not something that came later, it’s deeply rooted in the Hindu culture.
As expected Hindus always try to blame other religions especially Muslims for the evil, barbaric practises rooted in Hinduism. Ashok Singhal of the terror group VHP said Islamic invasion in India is responsible for caste system in Hinduism. Such statements by a Hindu is normal as Hindus are not well versed in their scriptures or history. The Hindutva forces organises Ghar Wapsi for the conversion of Christians and Muslims to Hinduism but they seldom organises any event for the lower castes, to give them equal status. Coming to the point, Some Hindu apologists in order to cover the ugly side of Hinduism are writing articles to show that Shudras have equal status in Hinduism. Another allegation by Hindutva forces is that, it’s not just Hinduism but other religions like Islam and Chritianity that recognises caste system. This statement is quite interesting, No book of other religions say that Protestant was god’s head, Roman Catholic was his thigh or Sunni was God’s head and the Shia was his thighs. The irony is that those fanatics accuses others of using ‘Christian Missionary’ translations or fake translation but it’s actually they who mistranslate their own scripture to fool gullible people. Hence I will be using translation by Hindu scholars.
Manu Smriti hails from an era when even the concept of birth-based caste system did not exist. Thus Manu Smriti nowhere supports a social system based on birth. Maharshi Manu took inspiration from Vedas (refer Rigveda 10.10.11-12, Yajurveda 31.10-11, Atharvaveda 19.6.5-6) and proposed a social system based on qualities, actions and nature of the individual
Ironically, the writer is quoting Purusha Sukta to show that caste system is not based on birth despite the fact that Purusha Sukta is said to be the root of caste system in Hinduism. The deceit of the writer has just started. Manu Smriti itself promotes birth based caste system, it is mentioned,
Manu Smriti 10.6 “Sons begotten by members of twice born castes on wives belonging to their next inferior castes (in the order of enumeration) are said (by Manu) not obtain the castes of their fathers owing to the degraded castes of their mothers.” Tr. Dutt
The caste here is not determined by the qualities of new born child but it is determined by the caste of parents in which the child is born in.
2. This is called Varna System. Now the very word Varna derived from root word “Vrinja” means “Choice”. A similar usage happens in common used word “Varan” meaning “choosing” or “Var” meaning a husband chosen by the girl. This also shows that in Vedic system the girl had complete rights to choose her husband.
The word Varna is derived from the root word Vrta which means ‘to cover, to envelop’. The word Varna occurs in Veda as colour or complexion, see Rig Veda 3.34.9. In the Dharma Shastras the term Krishna Varna is considered to be black race where Krishna means Black and Varna means race, In the Gopatha Brahmana 1.1.23 Brahmin’s colour is white (Shukla). But the word Varna is translated as Caste by Hindu scholars as well as Indologist. In Ashtadhayi 1.1.34 ;5.2.134 Maharshi Panini has interpreted Varna as Caste. The word Varna has several meanings like caste, race, colour, tribe etc., but is used mostly to denote Caste. Acharya Medhatithi writes on Manu Smriti 1.2,
“…The term ‘Caste’ is implied to the three castes, ‘Brahmana, Ksattriya and Vaishya; and the term ‘all’ has been added for the purpose of including the Sudra…”
V.S Apte also translate Varna as caste,
[The Student’s English-Sanskrit Dictionary, by Vaman Shivram Apte, 1893 edition, Published by Mrs. Radhabai Atmaram Sagoon, Bombay]
Women in Hinduism do not have choice to choose her husband. I shall stick to the topic instead of refuting unrelated points. This is already refuted in Women in Hinduism article.
The biggest proof of Manu Smriti proposing Varna System and NOT Caste System is that in the first Chapter of Manu Smriti, there is mention of origin of 4 Varnas and no mention of castes or gotras. Had caste or gotra been important, Manu would have mentioned which castes belong to Brahmins, which to Kshatriyas, which to Vaishyas and which to Shudras
Is it really important that the first chapter has to quote everything? The writes is ignorant of caste system, he writes, ‘Manu would have mentioned which castes belong to Brahmins‘ he doesn’t even know that Brahmin is a caste. The writer has adopted a unique way to fool people, just misinterpret the meaning of Varna and then interpret all the verses about castes as Varna. Manu Smriti’s second verse of first chapter promotes caste system,
Manu Smriti 1.2 “May thou, O Blessed One, explain to us, in due form and in proper order, the duties of all castes and intermediate castes!” Tr. G. Jha
The writer has made a stupid point, ‘Manu would have mentioned which castes belong to Brahmins, which to Kshatriyas, which to Vaishyas and which to Shudras‘
Acharya Medhatithi gives the following meaning of Caste,
“What are these ‘castes’? Is the word ‘caste’ denotative of a species of human beings? No: these are four castes, beginning with the Brahmana and ending with the Shudra. The others the Barbara, the Kaivarta and so forth are only mixed races, as will be described later on.” Medhatithi on Manu Smriti 10.4
4. In fact Manu Smriti 3.109 clearly states that one who eats by glorifying his Gotra or Family is considered an eater of his own vomit. Thus, as per the Manu Smriti that the self-proclaimed birth-based Brahmins or upper-castes believe in, the very act of glorifying their lineage or gotra to demand special privileges makes them deserving of condemnation
This writer is being Mayavi (Vedic fraud), in the introduction of this article he was accusing others of using interpolated and misinterpreted verses from Manu Smriti to ‘defame Hinduism’ but now he has started misinterpreting it himself. Manu Smriti 3.109 prohibits a Brahmin to obtain meal from others by advertising his family, i.e. he should not mention his family’s name for enjoying hospitality, it even prohibits to obtain meal by mentioning his own name,
Manu Smriti 3.109 “Let not a Brahmana mention his own name and family for enjoying one’s hospitality; he, who eats by giving out the name of his own self and family, eats egesta.” Tr. Dutt
One can read previous and next verses to understand the context. I am using Buhler’s translation,
Manu Smriti 3.108. But if another guest comes after the Vaisvadeva offering has been finished, (the householder) must give him food according to his ability, (but) not repeat the Bali offering.
109. A Brahmana shall not name his family and (Vedic) gotra in order to obtain a meal; for he who boasts of them for the sake of a meal, is called by the wise a foul feeder (vantasin).
110. But a Kshatriya (who comes) to the house of a Brahmana is not called a guest (atithi), nor a Vaisya, nor a Sudra, nor a personal friend, nor a relative, nor the teacher.
111. But if a Kshatriya comes to the house of a Brahmana in the manner of a guest, (the house-holder) may feed him according to his desire, after the above-mentioned Brahmanas have eaten.
112. Even a Vaisya and a Sudra who have approached his house in the manner of guests, he may allow to eat with his servants, showing (thereby) his compassionate disposition.
Scholars are of the same view as I explained this verse.
5. Manu Smriti 2.136 states that one earns respect due to wealth, company, age, actions and knowledge in increasing order. There is no mention of family, gotra, caste, lineage and other non-factors to demand or earn respect.
Manu Smriti 2.136 “Wealth, relation, action and learning, as the fifth, These are the grounds of respect; (among them) that which follows is weightier (than that which goes before it).” Tr. G. Jha
This is talking about upper three castes only, that whoever possess these five qualities within the same caste should be respected. Acharya Medhatithi explains Manu Smriti 2.136 as,
“Caste has been described as a ground of superiority; so that one belonging to a higher caste should be respected by one of a lower caste. The text now proceeds to describe the relative strength of those factors that entitle persons of a caste to salutation and honour among themselves.”
The writer should have honestly mentioned previous verse also,
Manu Smriti 2.135 “A Brahmana, ten years old, and a Kshatriya of a hundred years of age, shall considered as a father and a son; the Brahmana shall be treated as the father of the Kshatriya.” Tr. M.N. Dutt
It is explained by Acharya Medhatithi as,
“…All that this means is that even when the Ksatriya is very old and the Brahmana very young in years, the former should rise to meet and salute the latter.”
The next verse says the Shudra who is 100 years old should be respected, the term respect here denotes salutation. It doesn’t say that the Shudra possessing the five said qualities should be saluted but it only makes a mention of the age, Medhatithi has also said that the age of old Shudra is his only quality mentioned since action and learning is not possible for a Shudra and he is not entitled to these also. Dharma Shastra says,
Gautama Dharma Shastra 6.10-11 Salutation, eighty years old Shudra should salute a much younger Brahmin
CLAIM: Migration within Varnas
6. Manu Smriti 10.65 asserts that Brahmin can become Shudra and Shudra can become Brahmin. Similarly Kshtariyas and Vaishyas can also change their Varnas.
Manu 10.65 actually means that when a Sudra female marries a Brahmin male and their daughter marries a Brahmin and this goes on for seven generations then the seventh generation becomes Brahmin. As a Brahmin marrying a Sudra begets a child of another caste. It can be easily understood by reading previous verse,
Manu Smriti 10.64 “If the daughter of a Brahmana by his Sudra wife is married to a Brahmana, and the daughter of that union is again married to a Brahman, and so on uninterruptedly up to the seventh generation in the female line, then at the seventh generation the issue of such union is divested of its Parasara caste and becomes a Brahmana.” Tr. Dutt
Hindu Apologists should be ashamed that they being Hindus are misinterpreting their own scriptures and I being a Rakshasa, Malechha is explaining it correctly in accordance with the interpretation of Hindu scholars. Renowned Hindu scholar Vijnanesvara explains it in Mitakshara on Yajnavalkya Smriti verse 96,
”…This is the adjustment: the daughter begot by a Brahmana on a Sudra woman is Nisadi; she (Nisadi) is married by a Brahmana and gives birth to a certain daughter. The latter is also married by a Brahmana and gives birth to a daughter, and so on, till the sixth daughter, who will give birth to a Brahman as seventh…”
This backfires the writer. This instead promotes birth based caste system.
7. Manu Smriti 9.335: If a Shudra (uneducated) serves the educated ones, is polite, devoid of ego and stays in respectful company of knowledgeable ones, he/ she is considered as having a noble birth and stature.
This is also misinterpreted. The writer has wrongfully translated Dvija as educated one. This verse says that a Shudra by serving the upper three castes attains higher caste in his next birth. This verse actually portrays Shudra as servants of twice born men.
Manu Smriti 9.335. (A Sudra who is) pure, the servant of his betters, gentle in his speech, and free from pride, and always seeks a refuge with Brahmanas, attains (in his next life) a higher caste.
8. There are several shlokas in Manusmriti that state that a person belonging to high Varna falls down to level of a Shudra (uneducated) if he does not conduct noble deeds. For example,
2.104: A person who does not worship the Supreme Lord twice daily should be considered a Shudra.
2.172. He who has not been initiated with teaching of the Vedas is a Sudra.
4.245: A Brahmin acquires brilliance through company of noble persons and avoiding bad company. On contrary, if he indulges in bad company, he becomes a Shudra
This requires a bit lengthy explanation. The meaning of the word Dvija (twice born) will explain this. The word Dvija means twice born, it is said that the Brahmin has two (or more) lives, first when he takes his birth from the womb of his mother and second when tying the girdle. It is mentioned in Manu Smriti which will refute the author’s claim on Manu Smriti 2.172,
Manu Smriti 2.39 “Henceforth (beyond these age limits) these three twice born ones, not duly initiated with the thread, become Vratyas (of broken vows), and are degraded from the society of the Aryans.” Tr. Dutt
The next verse recommends expiation for not studying Vedas,
Manu Smriti 2.40 “A Brahmana, even in the time of distress, must not hold any connection with these Vratyas, not duly expiated according to the regulation, either by marriage, or by (Vedic) study.” Tr. Dutt
Another clear English translation,
Manu Smriti 2.40 With such men, if they have not been purified according to the rule, let no Brahmana ever, even in times of distress, form a connexion either through the Veda or by marriage.
Manu Smriti 11.192-3 “Twice born ones, who have not been initiated with the Gayatri at their respectively proper ages (of initiation), shall first practice three Krichchhra penances; thereafter they should be initiated with the holy thread.” Tr. Dutt
Vijnaneshwara also writes,
“Vratyas or outcastes are devoid of all sacraments; so long as they do not perform the Vratyastoma; performing which they again become entitled to Upanayana.” Vijnanesvara in Mitaksara on Yajnavalkya Smriti verse 38
So this shows that a Brahmin still remains a Brahmin. As expiatory rites are prescribed for him. It is mentioned in Upanishad,
Chandogya Upanishad 6.1.1. Harih, Om. There lived once Svetaketu Aruneya (the grandson of Aruna). To him his father (Uddilaka, the son of Aruna) said: ‘Svetaketu, go to school; for there is none belonging to our race, darling, who, not having studied (the Veda), is, as it were, a Brahmana by birth only.’
This verse speaks for itself. It’s true that Hindu scripture says a Brahmin falls from his rank if he does so and so sins. But this doesn’t mean he becomes a Shudra, for Acharya Medhatithi explains it as,
“The mention of ‘outcaste’ here is only meant to indicate degradation; it does not mean that the man is to be actually treated as an ‘Outcaste’, as described under 11.182.” Medhatithi on Manu Smriti 3.16
Medhatithi here is talking about Dvija degraded to outcast for marrying a sudra
“…‘By selling meat he at once becomes an outcaste‘; where becoming an outcaste could not apply to any one else except the seller himself. From all this it is clear that all that is meant to be really related to the prohibition is that something undesirable happens; and the words of the text cannot be taken as literally true. Hence what is meant is that ‘the man who does anything else- in the shape of selling and the like- with sesamum than eating and the rest, becomes a worm,- i.e., becomes tainted with the evil effects described.” Medhatithi on Manu Smriti 10.92
“The term ‘outcast’ connotes disqualification in regard to the rites of twice born men; the meaning is that he ‘falls’, recedes, becomes deprived of, his rights.” Medhatithi on Manu Smriti 11.180
Gautama Dharma Shastra 21.4. To be an outcast means to be deprived of the right to follow the lawful occupations of twice-born men.
So when Hindu text says that a Brahmin falls from his rank, it connotes degradation, it doesn’t literally mean that the Brahmin becomes a Shudra. As I showed above, where ever Hindu text says a Brahmin looses his rank for doing this specific deed, then the next or other verses has expiatory rites for such sins. Manu Smriti 4.245 is mistranslated by the writer,
Manu Smriti 4.245. A Brahmana who always connects himself with the most excellent (ones), and shuns all inferior ones, (himself) becomes most distinguished; by an opposite conduct he becomes a Sudra.
As the writer is an Arya Samaji, he interprets Dvijas as Humans, highly intellectual, and non Hindus as demons, terrorists, criminals etc. The ‘most excellent ones’ or ‘noble people’ here denotes Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. And it is prohibited for them to inter-dine, share same seat with the low caste people, Dvija incurs sin by doing this humane act which is regarded as ‘Sin’ by Hinduism. Acharya Medhatithi explains it as,
“…By the contrary procedure,’ by adopting the opposite process i.e., by forming connections with inferior people the man becomes a Shudra. Since it is not possible for the caste of a man to disappear, what is meant is that he becomes equal to the Shudra.”
He also writes on Manu 10.43
”It is not that the man’s caste becomes lost; all that happens is that he becomes liable to be called by such caste names as the Bhrijjakantaka’ and the rest.”
There is an expiation for this sin also,
Manu Smriti 11.181-2 “By sharing the same car, with, or by eating in the company of a degraded person for a year, a man becomes degraded; by teaching the Vedas to such a person, or by officiating as a priest at a sacrifice instituted by him, or by contracting any; marital relation with him, one becomes degraded on the same day. He, who associates with a degraded person, must practice the same penance for his purification, as is laid down for the expiation for the sin through which that person has become degraded.” Tr. Dutt
2.168: A Brahmin, Kshatriya or Vaishya who puts efforts in other areas except understanding and following the Vedic precepts becomes a Shudra and his future generations also suffer from ignorance of Vedas.
Thus, as per Manu Smriti, almost the entire population of India today, barring few exceptions, is Shudra because we do not abide by the Vedic concepts and are indulged in anti-Vedic activities – corruption, casteism, selfishness, superstitions, irrationality, gender-discrimination, sycophancy, immorality etc.
The correct translation is,
Manu Smriti 2.168 “The twice born man, who, not having learnt, the Veda, labours over other things, soon falls, along with his descendants, even while living, to the state of the Shudra.” Tr. G. Jha
The next verse is,
Manu Smriti 2.169 “The first birth of a Brahmana is in the womb of his mother, his second birth is through his initiation with the holy thread, and his third birth lies through his initiation in the Vaiddic sacrifices (Jyatishtoma, etc.) as ordained by the Sruti.” Tr. Dutt
The question is, how can one be still be a Dvija (Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya) if they have not learned the Vedas? Acharya Medhatithi explains it as,
“The mention of ‘falling to the state of the Shudra’ is meant to express excessive deprecation.”
There is an expiation for this also,
Manu Smriti 11.192-3 “Twice born ones, who have not been initiated with the Gayatri at their respectively proper ages (of initiation), shall first practice three Krichchhra penances; thereafter they should be initiated with the holy thread. Brahmanas, who do improper acts, and who, though initiated with the thread, are ignorant of the Vedas, if they wish to do the expiatory penance, should be likewise advised to practice the same penance (i.e. Krichchhra Vratam.)” Tr. Dutt
Such words like ”Falls from the rank” are used to only for prohibition. As per scholars it doesn’t literally mean that a Brahmin becomes a Shudra. A Brahmin is born as a Brahmin from the womb of his mother as it is mentioned in Manu Smriti 2.169.
CLAIM: Even Shudras can teach
9. Though Shudra means an uneducated person, a Shudra can also become a teacher for specific knowledge that he has. For example,
2.238: One should acquire knowledge even from a person born in a low family otherwise. Similarly, one should accept a noble woman as wife even if her family is otherwise not up to mark.
2.241. If needed, one may acquire knowledge from one who is not a Brahmin; and that he shall follow and serve such a teacher, as long as the instruction lasts
The writer is contradicting himself now. What ‘Knowledge’ can be availed from an uneducated person? If he possess such great knowledge which the Brahmin doesn’t know then why the Shudra isn’t elevated to the status of a Brahmin? As Brahmins are ‘educated’ people in the words of the apologist.
Manu 2.238 “One imbued with faith may acquire excellent learning even from a lowly person, special law even from the lowest, and the gem of a wife even from a base family.” Tr. G. Jha
The knowledge mentioned here only refers to worldly matters. This verse is addressed to Brahmins, the lowly here refers to Kshatriyas and Vaishyas. A Brahmin can get advice for worldly matters from Kshatriyas and Vaishyas or it is prohibited for a Brahmin student to education from Kshatriyas and Vaishyas (for sake of the argument) except in time of distress. And the ‘Lowest’ refers to Chandalas and only some instructions can be taken from them, for example if a Brahmin visits a new city and he knows nothing about it and he wants to go to a hotel or to some other place in the city then he may ask Chandala for directions to the hotel, etc,. Acharya Medhatithi explains it as,
“…Such learning one might ‘acquire’ learn- even from the lowly person, i.e., from a person born of a lower caste. ‘excellent learning’ here should not be taken as the ‘Vedic Science’; for even though in abnormal times of distress the learning of the Veda from lower castes may be permitted as we shall find later on, yet it cannot be permitted in normal times. That learning which is ‘not excellent’, such as the science of magic, etc. one should not learn at all. Lowest is the Chandala; from him even, one may learn the ‘special law’, i.e., law other than that expounded in Shrutis and Smritis; i.e., law relating to ordinary worldy matters. The term ‘Dharma’, law, is also used in the sense of rule. The sense thus is that if even a Chandala should say such is the rule here, ‘do not stay here for long,’ do not bathe in this water,- such is the custom among the people of the village, such is the restriction imposed by the king, then one should not think that he should obey only the words of his Preceptor and he need not pay any heed to those of a Chandala who has dared to advise him. We should not take the term ‘special law’ to mean ‘the knowledge of truth regarding Brahman’, because it is not possible to acquire this knowledge from the Chandala and such people, for the simple reason that they are ignorant of the Veda…”
Acharya Medhatithi then goes on to mention that low caste people are not allowed to study the Vedas etc, which I have mentioned in the Caste system in Hinduism article. I am reproducing the correct translation for the next verse which the author quoted,
Manu Smriti 2.241 “In times of distress, a Brahmana student may take his lessons from a non Brahmana preceptor, and he shall serve his Guru (teacher) only so long as he shall actuallly study.” Tr. Dutt
Acharya Kulluka explains it as
‘In the absence of a Brahmana, he may study under a Kshatriya; and in the absence of a Kshatriya, under a Vaisya preceptor.”
It actually says that a student IN TIME OF DISTRESS (but not otherwise) may acquire knowledge from Kshatriya or a Vaishya. Acharya Medhatithi is of the same view, he writes that only in times of distress but never in normal times. As per Hindu text, Dvijas are entitled for the study of the Vedas but the person born in the Brahmin caste alone is entitled to teach it,
Manu Smriti 10.1 “The members of the three twice-born orders, attending to the specific duties of their castes, shall read (the Vedas), but the Brahmanas alone shall teach the Vedas, and none else, this is the conclusion.” Tr. Dutt
This is what it means when these verses are read together but Hindu apologists just want to misinterpret the text and present in whatever manner they like. Brahmins alone shall teach but in time of distress a student may learn from Kshatriyas and Vaishyas.
CLAIM: Status of Brahmin is acquired by deeds and not by name
10. As per Manu Smriti, one has to earn the qualification of Brahmin. During childhood, parents are supposed to send their children for specialized education of Brahmin, Kshatriya or Vaishya depending on observed nature of children. So many Brahmin parents may desire that their children also become Brahmins. However that is not sufficient. One becomes Brahmin only if he completes the education and not merely by taking birth in a Brahmin family or taking admission in Brahmin course of a gurukul.
Did the writer missed Shudra student in his statement? After reading this he may add it, but need not worry I have saved it already. Let me again quote the verse,
Manu Smriti 10.1 “The members of the three twice-born orders, attending to the specific duties of their castes, shall read (the Vedas), but the Brahmanas alone shall teach the Vedas, and none else, this is the conclusion.” Tr. Dutt
It says that twice born men i.e., Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas shall learn the Vedas but a Brahmin can alone teach it. The question is, if studying Vedas makes you a Brahmin, then why does it separates Kshatriya and Vaishya from Brahmins and why the Brahmin alone can teach it when Kshatriya and Vaishya also possesses Vedic knowledge? And the writer has also invented ‘Brahmin courses’, can he furnish any reference for this?
2.157: A Brahmin devoid of education is equivalent to an elephant made of wood or a deer made of leather. They are merely namesake and not real.
2.28: The body is made fit to be called Brahmin only through study of scriptures, discipline, noble selfless deeds, study of duties, science and meditation, charity and goal oriented actions
Manu Smriti 2.157-8 “As the elephant made of wood, as the deer made of leather, so the non-learning Brahmana, these three merely bear their names. As the eunuch is useless among women, as the cow is useless among cows, as a gift to the ignorant person is useless, even so is the Brahmana useless who is devoid of the Veda.” Tr. Dutt
The question is, why is a person still considered a Brahmin if he has not studied the Vedas at all? In the words of the apologists one who studies the Veda/takes Brahmin course is a Brahmin but this verse speaks contrary. The context is that, this verse only praises the learned Brahmin over a unlearned Brahmin, just as it is said in another verse,
Manu Smriti 1.96-99 “Of the created things the animate creatures are the highest; of the animate creatures the intelligent ones are the highest, of the intelligent creatures men are the highest, and among men the Brahmanas are the highest. Among Brahmanas the erudite ones are the highest, among the erudite Brahmanas those, who think it their duty to perform the Sastric rites, are the highest among the latter those, who perform such rites, are the highest, and among the performers of rites the knowers of Brahma are the highest. The Brahmana has originated as the eternal emboidment of virtue. His origin is for the furtherance of virtue; he becomes the essence of Brahma. Born as a Brahmana, he wields the supremacy of the world, the ruler of all creatures, the custodian of the treasure of virtue.” Tr. Dutt
So what does these verses say? It says a Brahmin is BORN i.e., he is a Brahmin by birth and the best among the Brahmin is the one who is learned, and the best among the learned Brahmin is those who perform Sastric rites… Another verse says that a Brahmin whether learned or ignorant is a great divinity,
Manu Smriti 9.317 “Learned or unlearned, the Brahmana is a great divinity; just as consecrated or unconsecrated, the fire is a great divinity.” Tr. G. Jha
So the writer’s notion that ‘Status of Brahmin is acquired by deeds and not by name‘ is absolutely wrong, because Brahmin is born as the great divinity whether learned or unlearned. The translation of Manu Smriti 2.28 is incorrect,
Manu Smriti 2.28 “The study of the three Vedas, Vows, burnt offerings Ijas, sons, the great sacrifices, and sacrifices make the soul of a man competent to attain to Brahma.” Tr. Dutt
CLAIM: Education is true birth
11. As per Manu, actual birth happens after completion of education. All human beings are Shudras or uneducated when born. Those who complete their education are supposed to have a new birth. Thus they are called Dwija or Twice Born. Those who were unable to complete the education remain Shudra. This has nothing to do with birth or heredity. This is pure meritocracy.
2.148: When a teacher who is well-versed in Vedas teaches a student the science of Gayatri (that summarizes all principles of Vedas and rational living), then the actual birth of the student takes place. This birth is free from risks of death or destruction and leads the student to immortality.
I agree with the writer on few points, but let me quote the verse,
Manu Smriti 2.148 “The birth, which the Acharyaya, well conversant with the Vedas, procreates for him through the Savitri initiation, according to the Regulation, is his real, decaying, immortal birth (i.e., birth in immorality).” Tr. Dutt
The writer means to say that everyone is born a Shudra and only after completion they are considered Dvija or twice born men. Let’s have a look at what other verses say about it,
Manu Smriti 2.169 “The first birth of a Brahmana is in the womb of his mother, his second birth is through his initiation with the holy thread, and his third birth lies through his initiation in the Vaidic sacrifices (Jyatishtoma, etc.) as ordained by the Sruti.” Tr. Dutt
Sankha Samhita 1.6 Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and Vaisyas are the three twice born; their second birth takes place on the occasion of putting on the girdle of sacred rush.
It says a Brahmin is born and his second birth occurs when he is initiated (i.e., when he starts studying the Veda). The writer claims,
‘All human beings are Shudras or uneducated when born. Those who complete their education are supposed to have a new birth. Thus they are called Dwija or Twice Born‘
If everyone is born a Shudra then why Shrutis permit Upanayana ceremony only for the Aryans?
Manu Smriti 2.35-40 According to the teaching of the revealed texts, the Kudakarman (tonsure) must be performed, for the sake of spiritual merit, by all twice-born men in the first or third year. In the eighth year after conception, one should perform the initiation (upanayana) of a Brahmana, in the eleventh after conception (that) of a Kshatriya, but in the twelfth that of a Vaisya. (The initiation) of a Brahmana who desires proficiency in sacred learning should take place in the fifth (year after conception), (that) of a Kshatriya who wishes to become powerful in the sixth, (and that) of a Vaisya who longs for (success in his) business in the eighth. The (time for the) Savitri (initiation) of a Brahmana does not pass until the completion of the sixteenth year (after conception), of a Kshatriya until the completion of the twenty-second, and of a Vaisya until the completion of the twenty-fourth. After those (periods men of) these three (castes) who have not received the sacrament at the proper time, become Vratyas (outcasts), excluded from the Savitri (initiation) and despised by the Aryans. With such men, if they have not been purified according to the rule, let no Brahmana ever, even in times of distress, form a connexion either through the Veda or by marriage.
As you can see Manu only instructs Dvija students but not Shudra students, Yajnavalkya is of the same view,
Yajnavalkya Smriti verse 14 In the eighth year of conception or in the eighth (year of) birth, the Upanayana ceremony of the Brahmanas, of the Ksatriyas in the eleventh; of the Vaisyas in eleven plus one. Some say according to family custom. The writer goes on misinterpreting Manu Smriti 2.146-8 which only praises the preceptor. Which the writer has presented in such a way to show one who doesn’t study Vedas is not even considered a Human. All non Aryans are not considered humans as per Vedic concept.
If everyone is born as a Shudra then why people born in Shudra family are barred from studying the Vedas while those born in the family of twice born (Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya) are permitted for the study of Vedas? For more information on this read the article Caste system in Hinduism.
Thus, citing lineage to showcase casteist superiority is an extremely foolish act as per Manu Smriti. Instead of quoting the clan, one becomes superior by showcasing that he is more educated.
10.4: Brahmin, Kashtriya and Vaishya take second birth after education. Shudra who could not complete education is fourth Varna. There is no fifth Varna among Arya or noble people.
The writer is either being Mayavi (Vedic fraud) or he is writing under the influence of cannabis like his guru Dayanand Saraswati did. Quoting a verse and giving completely different meaning won’t help.
Manu Smriti 10.4 “The Brahmana, the Ksattriya and the Vaishya are the three twice born castes; the fourth is the one caste, Shudra; there is no fifth caste.” Tr. G. Jha
Acharya Medhatithi explains it as,
“…Of these four, three castes are ‘twice born’, the initiatory rite being prescribed for them. ‘One caste’ is the Shudra; there is no Initiatory Rite for him; since the injunction of this rite contains the distinct mention of the three castes, Brahmanas and the rest; e.g., the Brahmana shall be initiated in the eight year, the Ksattriya in the eleventh and the Vaishya in the twelfth; and nowhere is the name of the Shudra mentioned…”
As you can see Acharya Medhatithi has explained it in exact same manner which I was explaining. This would clear all doubts.
This also means that merely because a person did not complete education does not make him a villain. He is still regarded as a noble person if his deeds are noble. And if he completes the education, he can become a Dwija as well. Thus Shudra is an adjective and NOT a nomenclature for any castes. And if he completes the education, he can become a Dwija as well. Thus Shudra is an adjective and NOT a nomenclature for any castes.
How can that be so when only Aryans (Brahmins, Kshatriya and Vaishya) are considered noble while the rest including Shudras are considered Anarya (Non Aryan), Malechha (Barbarian) and Rakshasa/Dasyu (Demon). The last sentence of the writer is already refuted in the above point.
CLAIM: Never insult anyone born in lower family
12. To further ensure that one is not insulted or denied opportunities merely because he/she was born in a family where others did not excel in education, wealth or other parameters of success in society, Maharshi Manu laid the rule very clearly:
4.141: Never deny respect and/or rights to a person who is handicapped, uneducated, aged, not handsome, not wealthy or coming from a lower family. These are NOT the parameters to judge a person
True! But Hindu texts awards corporal punishment for a Shudra is he abuses a Brahmin while a Brahmin abusing a Shudra is not at all punished or either fined few bucks.
Manu Smriti 8.270-1 “If a Sudra uses any offensive language to a member of the twice born caste (Brahmana), his tongue shall be slipped [clippled] off, inasmuch as he (Sudra) has originated from a vile place (of the body of Supreme Brahma). If a Sudra abuses a member of the twice born order by mentioning his name and caste, a burning tong to the length of ten fingers shall be inserted into his mouth.” Tr. Dutt
Then the writer goes on misquoting verses to show that people in ancient era changed their castes.
Examples of Varna migration in ancient history
If Hindu apologists wants to prove that caste migration is possible then they should furnish references showing that a Shudra by studying Vedas can become a Brahmin and by quoting few such examples. The references provided by the writer has been grossly misrepresented,
Aitareya Rishi was son of a Daasa or criminal but became a Brahmin of highest order and wrote Aitareya Brahman and Aitareyopanishad. Aitareya Brahman is considered critical to understand Rigveda.
The writer is doomed for destruction as he is calling Aitareya Mahidasa’s father a criminal. Aitareya Mahidasa was born to a sage named Mundaka, and as per another version he was born to a Brahmin named Visala.
Vatsa became a Rishi though born to a Shudra (Aitareya Brahman 2.19)
Ailush Rishi was son of a Daasi, gambler and of low character. However he researched on Rigveda and made several discoveries. Not only was he invited by Rishis but also made an Acharya. (Aitareya Brahman 2.19)
Aitareya Brahmana doesn’t mention the name or caste of Vatsa’s father but as per Rig Veda 8.8.8 and Pancavimsa Brahmana 14.6.6 Vatsa was born to a Brahmin named Kanva. And Rig Veda 8.8.11 says that Vatsa was the son of sage which means that Kanva was also a sage.
Kavasa Ailusa was born to a Brahmin father named Ilusha and a slave girl (Daasi), later on he went to the Saraswati river. The Rishis expelled Ailusa from the sacrifice saying how can a son of a slave girl remain with us and be initiated. I am quoting this from Aitareya Brahmana 2.19.
Aitareya Brahmana 2.19 The Rishis, when once holding sacrificial session on (the banks of) the Saraswati, expelled Kavasha, the son of Ilusha, from (their Soma sacrifice (saying) How should the son of a slave girl, a gamester, who is no Brahman, remain among us and become initiated (into all sacrificial rites)? They turned him out (of the place) into a desert.
This shows that non Brahmins were not taught Vedas in the Vedic period. Later on the son of Brahmin Ailusa went to Saraswati, the waters surrounded him around giving him a favour. Then the Rishis said,
Aitareya Brahmana 2.19 As Sarasvati had surrounded him on all sides, the Rishis said, thee gods know him; let us call him back.
This shows that the Rishis were not aware of Ailusa lineage. Read the first line addressed by the Rishis they said, ‘How should the son of a slave girl‘ they didn’t call him son of Ilusha who was a Brahmin, probably because they were unaware of it and later came to know about it only when waters of Sarasvati surrounded him.
Satyakaam Jaabaal was son of a prostitute but became a Brahmin.
Satyakam Jabal was initiated by Gautama Rishi only after Gautama ascertained that he was a Brahmin by birth, Adi Shankara Acharya writes in his commentary,
‘‘ 37. And on account of (Gautama) proceeding (to initiate Gâbâla) on the ascertainment of (his) not being that (i.e. a Sûdra).
The Sûdras are not qualified for that reason also that Gautama, having ascertained Gâbâla not to be a Sûdra from his speaking the truth, proceeded to initiate and instruct him. ‘None who is not a Brâhmana would thus speak out. Go and fetch fuel, friend, I shall initiate you. You have not swerved from the truth’ (Kh. Up. IV, 4, 5); which scriptural passage furnishes an inferential sign (of the Sûdras not being capable of initiation).” Shankaracharya on Brahma Sutra 1.3.37
Readers can check the reference give Chandogya Upanishad 4.4.5
Matanga was son of Chandal but became a Brahmin. (Mahabharat Anushasan Parva Chapter 3)
This is already refuted in मातंग चांडालपुत्र से ब्राह्मण बने? Let’s see the reference given by the writer,
Mahabharata 13.3 ‘Matanga was born as a Chandala, and could not attain to Brahmanahood’ Tr. Kisari Mohan Ganguli
Let’s read what is written in the 29th chapter of Anushasana Parva of Mahabharata,
Mahabharata 13.29. ‘Sakra said, ‘One born on a Chandala cannot, by any means acquire the status of a Brahmana. Do thou, therefore name some boon so that all this labour of thine may not prove fruitless–Thus addressed by the chief of the celestials, Matanga became filled with grief… Matanga also, casting off his life-breaths, attained to a high place. Thou mayst thus see, O Bharata, that the status of a Brahmana is very high. That status is incapable of being acquired here (except in the natural way of birth) as said by the great Indra himself.” Tr. K.M. Ganguli
Raavan was born from Pulatsya Rishi but became a Rakshas.
He was a half Brahmin and half Rakshas because his father was a Brahmin sage named Vishvasrawa and mother was a Rakshasi.
Sons of Vishwamitra became Shudra. Vishwamitra himself was a Kshatriya who later became a Brahmin.
Again no reference is provided. Vishwamitra was born as a Brahmin due to exchange of Charu given by Rishi Richika. As per Mahabharata 13.4 Viswamitra’s maternal grandmother requested for a boon from a Rishi who told her to hug a tree and a Kshatriya will be born to her, likewise he told Satyavati to hug another tree for a Brahmin Son, but those two ladies decided to switch the trees which were to be hugged, after they embraced the trees, they were impregnated and thus Viswamitra took birth as a Brahmin, not as the apologists claim that he was a Kshatriya by birth.
Mahabharata 13.4 “I had so ordered that thou wouldst give birth to a Brahmana whose virtues would be famous throughout the three worlds, and that she (thy mother) would give birth to an excellent Kshatriya. But now, O excellent lady, that thou hast reversed the order (of the charu) so, thy mother will give birth to an excellent Brahmana and thou too, O excellent lady, will give birth to a Kshatriya terrible in action.” Tr. K.M. Ganguli
Vidur was son of a servant but became a Brahmin and minister of Hastinapur empire.
Vidura was a Dvija named Dharma, but due to his action he was born as a Shudra in his next birth. But he didn’t loose his memory of previous life. It is in compliance with Hindu scriptures that it is only in next life that a person attains higher caste or is degraded to lower one. Vidura was cursed by a sage to become a Shudra because Vidura accidently shot the sage with an arrow and took birth as a Shudra.
Ramanuja Acharya refutes this claim,
“The case of Vidura and other Sudras having been ‘founded on Brahman,’ explains itself as follows:- Owing to the effect of former actions, which had not yet worked themselves out, they were born in a low caste, while at the same time they possessed wisdom owing to the fact that the knowledge acquired by them in former births had not yet quite vanished. (On these general grounds we object to Sudras being viewed as qualified for meditation on Brahman.) The Sutra now refutes that argument, which the Purvapakshin derives from the use of the word ‘Sudra’ in the Samvarga vidya.” Ramanuja Acharya on Brahma Sutra 1.3.32
It is also mentioned in Mahabharata,
Mahabharata 1.63 “And because the killing of a Brahmana is more heinous than that of any other living thing, therefore, hast thou, O Dharma, been sinful. Thou shalt, therefore, be born on earth in the Sudra order.’ And for that curse Dharma was born a Sudra in the form of the learned Vidura of pure body who was perfectly sinless…And from Dwaipayana also born, in the Sudra caste, the wise and intelligent Vidura, conversant with both religion and profit, and free from all sins…” Tr. K.M. Ganguli
So where does it say that Vidura became a Brahmana? Moreover it says that he was born as a Shudra conversant with both religion and profit (due to his memory of previous life), but despite having this knowledge it didn’t make him a Brahmin.
As per Bhagvat, Agniveshya became Brahmin though born to a king.
Rathotar born in Kshatriya family became a Brahmin as per Vishnu Puran and Bhagvat.
Pravriddha was son of Raghu King but became a Rakshas.
Haarit became Brahmin though born to Kshatriya (VP 4.3.5)
No reference is provided for these claims, and the reference provided for Harit doesn’t state that he became a Brahmin.
Pravriddha was son of Raghu King but became a Rakshas.
Trishanku was a king but became a Chandal.
It is already proved that a Brahmin, Kshatriya or Vaishya doesn’t loose their caste (See Medhatithi’s explanation on Manu 4.245), it is used only to signify degradation and they must perform penance for expiation of their sins. This is not my explanation, these are the explanations given by Hindu scholars and Hindu texts. Trishanku’s story appears more like a fiction, Trishanku is said to have committed three sins for which Vasistha called him Trishanku (Three sins) and then he is said to have maintained Vasistha’s family for 12 years during a famine and then ascended to space becoming a star. So if a Brahmin incurs three sins and maintains the family of the one who cursed you then will you become a start in the constellation? As the explanation given by Acharya Medhatithi caste of a man cannot disappear, the term outcaste when referring to Dvija only means degradation, he is not actually to be treated as a Shudra or Chandala.
Shaunak became Brahmin though born in Kshatriya family. (VP 4.8.1). In fact, as per Vayu Puran, Vishnu
The reference provided by the writer doesn’t says that Shaunk became a Brahmin.
Prishadh was son of King Daksha but became a Shudra. Further he did Tapasya to achieve salvation after repenting. (Vishnu Puran 4.1.14) Had Tapasya been banned for Shudra as per the fake story from Uttar Ramayan, how could Prishadh do so?
Nabhag, son of King Nedishtha became Vaishya. Many of his sons again became Kshatriya. (Vishnu Puran 4.1.13)
Dhrist was son of Nabhag (Vaishya) but became Brahmin and his son became Kshatriya (VP 4.2.2)
Further in his generation, some became Brahmin again (VP 9.2.23)
As you can see, the apologist has heavily relied on one particular Purana. Which is actually about creation of human beings,
Mahabharata 1.75.14-16 And in Manu’s race have been born all human beings, who have, therefore, been called Manavas. And it is of Manu that all men including Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and others have been descended, and are, therefore, all called Manavas. Subsequently, O monarch, the Brahmanas became united with the Kshatriyas. And those sons of Manu that were Brahmanas devoted themselves to the study of the Vedas. And Manu begat ten other children named Vena, Dhrishnu, Narishyan, Nabhaga, Ikshvaku, Karusha, Saryati, the eighth, a daughter named Ila, Prishadhru the ninth, and Nabhagarishta, the tenth. And Manu begat ten other children named Vena, Dhrishnu, Narishyan, Nabhaga, Ikshvaku, Karusha, Saryati, the eighth, a daughter named Ila, Prishadhru the ninth, and Nabhagarishta, the tenth. They all betook themselves to the practices of Kshatriyas.
As I proved in the article Caste system in Hindusim and in this very response that one cannot loose the caste, it is only in next birth that one attains higher caste or sinks to lower one. The same is the case with Prishadhra,
Srimad Bhagavatam 9.2.9 “Although Pṛṣadhra had committed the sin unknowingly, his family priest, Vasiṣṭha, cursed him, saying, “In your next life you shall not be able to become a kṣatriya. Instead, you shall take birth as a śūdra because of killing the cow.” Tr. Swami Prabhupada
Then he performed penance as Hindu scriptures allows Dvijas to perform penance when they have committed even gross sin. So as per Srimad Bhagavatam 9.2.10-14 Prishadra performed penance and his sin was expiated. So the thing is that such stories should be explained clearly, whether they were born via Niyoga, whether their caste was changed in next birth, or their mothers had acquired a boon like the story of Vishwamitra’s mother and whether they performed expiatory rites or not, the incident happened in which Yuga and what were the rules of castes during that time etc., all these questions matter and must be answered, one cannot blindly quote some cherry picked verse and give their own meaning. Nabhaga is said to have become a Vaishya because he married a Vaishya woman, Hindu scriptures allows Kshatriya to marry woman of his own caste, a Vaishya and a Shudra. Although there is a slight prohibition to marry woman of other caste as his first wife but there are expiatory rites to be performed for this also. And the reference he provided doesn’t say Dhrista became a Vaisya, it was from his that the Kshatriya race sprang up, as per Srimad Bhagavatam 8.13.2-3 Nabhaga and Dhrista were both sons of Manu. This instead promotes casteism, why one should loose his caste on merely marrying a girl of another caste? As per Markandeya 114.114-6 Nabhag’s wife was originally a Kshatriya who was degraded to Vaisya due to a curse, later the curse was removed and hence their son was a Kshatriya. Manu had two sons named Nabhaga, the writer should clear which Nabhaga he is referring to.
Some Hindu also claim that Vasistha was born to a prostitute but became a sage. It is true that he was born due to a heavenly prostitute named Urvashi but wasn’t born from her womb, as per Rig Veda 7.33.11; Nirukta 5.13 he was actually the common son of Mitra-Varuna born in a pot. Then the writer continues.
Many verses of adulterated Manu Smriti (10.43-44) state that certain castes were earlier Kshtariya but became Shudra later. These verses are adulterated but prove that concept of Varna migration did exist. The castes mentioned are: Paundrak, Audru, Dravid, Kamboj, Yavan, Shak, Parad, Palhava, Cheen, Kirat, Darad, Khash.
Acharya Medhatithi has explained it as,
”…This is what is meant by ‘gradually’; which means that the continued neglect of the rites reduces successive generations to the position of the Shudra; and this does not refer to the new born child, who loses his title only by the omission of his initiation. It is not that the man’s caste becomes lost; all that happens is that he becomes liable to be called by such caste names as the Bhrijjakantaka’ and the rest…The assertion that these people have become ‘low born’ is based upon the fact that in these countries we do not meet with any clear division of the four castes…Some people might be led to think that all these races here named are found to be described as Ksattriyas, so that must be Ksattriyas still. And it is with a view to preclude this idea that it ias asserted that these are low born. All the people spoken of form the races inhabiting the borders of Aryavarta, such races for instance, as the Kirata, the Vena, the Darada and so forth; and it is with reference to this that we have declaration that one should not go to the borders.”
Reading next and previous verses will clear the doubts, as I don’t like to repeat the same explanation again and again. The writer is trying to imply that Kshatriyas became Shudras during their lifetime, this is not true because as we have read already it is only in successive births that one attains higher caste or is degraded to lower one as per Hindu text.
CLAIM: Respect for Shudras
3.112: If a Shudra or Vaishya comes as a guest, the family should feed him with due respect.
3.116: A householder should eat from remaining food only after he has fed the scholars and servants (Shudras) to their satisfaction.
Manu Smriti 3.112 “If Vaisyas and Sudra arrive at his (Brahmana’s) house as Atithis, he, out of compassion, shall feed them in the company of his own servants.” Tr. Dutt
Acharya Medhatithi writes,
“…This last clause has been added with a view to show that those here mentioned are not objects of respect…”
This verse rather says that Vaishyas and Shudra coming as a guest to a Brahmin should be fed in the company of servants, I guess the writer gets this kind of treatment where ever he goes and finds it respectful.
Manu Smriti 3.116 “Let the master and mistress of the house eat what remains after feeding the Brahmans (guests), relations and servants.” Tr. Dutt
These verses gives instructions to husband and wife on how they should treat their guests. As per scholars a separate portion should be assigned for guests and the remaining portion should be eaten by the householder. The Shudra servant instead is to be given the remnants of the food of his Brahmin master,
Manu Smriti 10.125 “He shall give him the leavings of his food, his old and cast off clothes, and his old beddings and grainless paddy for his bed.” Tr. Dutt
Manu Smriti 2.137 has already been explained.
CLAIM: Shudras have right to study Vedas and conduct Vedic rituals
18. Vedas very clearly provide right to Shudras (and women) – in fact entire humanity – to study Vedas and conduct Vedic rituals like Yajna. Refer Yajurveda 26.1, Rigveda 10.53.4, Nirukta 3.8 etc.
Thus Manu Smriti also supports the same Vedic truth. That is why nowhere in the context of Upanayan (education initiation) does Manu forbid Upanayan or sacred thread for Shudras. On contrary, one who refuses to accept Sacred Thread of education is called a Shudra!
Yajur Veda 26.1 “Fire and Earth are favourablee to me; may they be subsevient to me in the accomplishment of that aim of mine. Air and firmament are favourable to me; may they be subservient to me in the accomplishment of that aim of mine. Sun and his light are favourable to me; may they be subservient to me in the accomplishment of that aim of mine. Waters and clouds are favourable to me, may they be subservient to me in the accomplishment of that aim of mine. Out of these seven forces are the mainstay of all beings, the eight is Earth which keeps every one under its sway. O God make all out paths pleasant and comfortable.” Tr. Devi Chand
I have provided Arya Samaj translation of Yajur Veda which the writer has quoted, readers can check explanation of Yajur Veda 26.2 in the article Caste and Racial discrimination. Manu Smriti recommends Upanayana only for Brahmin, Kshatriya and Vaishya students, moreover it does forbid the Shudra from studying the Vedas, it is already refuted in the article Caste Sysmte in Hinduism.
Manu Smriti 1.58 “Having framed this, (code) at the beginning of creation, he (Brahma) taught it to me in conformity with the rites laid down in the Sastras; and I, in my turn, communicated it to Marichi and other Munis.” Tr. Dutt
Acharya Kulluka writes,
“Brahma originally composed a Samhita containing a hundred thousand couplets and taught it to Manu, who, in tuen, summarized the work and wrote it out again in his own language.”
So Manu Smriti is actually the word of god, so when the writer claims that Manu has undergone corruption then what makes him think Vedas are secure from interpolations? Don’t believe me, but at least believe in what your own Hindu scholars and scriptures say. As per Hindu scholars only 6% of Veda is available today while rest 94% is lost, this has been proven on the basis of Hindu texts by Swami B.V. Giri, read the article Hindu scriptures Battle of supremacy and also the article Textual corruption of Vedas. Forget about Bible or Quran, do Hindus have a copy of the copy of the copy of the copy of the original Veda? Hindus can continue to assume that Vedas are intact but the fact is it underwent interpolations.
Caste system is an integral part of Hinduism, without caste system there can be no Hinduism and without Hinduism there can be no caste system. Hence instead of defending such texts by misinterpreting them Hindus should renounce Hinduism.