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Vedas and Castes

Krinvanto Vishvam Aryam,

Shrunvantu vishnve amrutsya putraha” – Rigveda 10-13-1

” Make the world a noble place for the entire human race,
for everyone is a divine child ”

Would you imagine that these are the same words that came from a script that propagandized the caste system? I had the same question in mind. So I read through quite a few books and articles of the Vedic transition into India.

As we know by now, Vedas were not prevalent in India until the entry of the Aryans from central Asia. The Rigvedic people came to the Indian subcontinent not as warriors but as priests.They won over the country not through the power of swords (which some historians want us to believe) but through their superior skills in debate and magical ritualism. This got them loyal patronage from the local kings. With the support of the kings, the Aryans made their way through the continent – they intertwined themselves with the local traditions and customs to gain trust in the eyes of the locals. Soon they gained political and regional power in the country.

The Aryans did not bring the caste system with them. They believed in a flexible and an open system in which members could change their vocations by their wish. But as they encountered hostile tribes and competitive traditions, they adopted a caste system to preserve their identity as a group , to preserve racial purity and family lineage. Thus, raising the possibility of a non-vedic character to the caste system.

It is also understood that caste system was not addressed in the Rig Veda – the oldest piece of literature ever written in the human race.Purusha saktha (later added to the Rigveda), and the following vedas mentions the prevalence of the caste system in the society.

The Purusha Sakta explains the creation of the caste system , from the different parts of the ‘Purusha’ – the Cosmic Soul.
1. Brahmins- the Mouth
2. Kshatriya- the Arms
3. Vaisyas- the Thighs
4. Sudras- the Feet

Metophorically, it would mean that the Brahmins would learn the knowledge of the Vedas; they had to serve by performing the rituals and learning the divine knowledge. The Kshatriyas were to protect the country against the enemies. The Vaishyas would tend to the cattle or cultivate the lands. The Sudras would help the above classes to get work done. All the classes apart from the Sudras were expected to learn from the Vedas. Since the Sudras didn’t have a need to implement the Vedas directly , they were exempted from learning the Vedas.

It seems that the two greatest epics favored the higher motto of hinduism – Equality ,brotherhood and prosperity.

1. All of the 10 Avatars of Vishnu were not brahmins. In fact only Vamana was a true representation of a Brahmin.
2. Parashurama was a Brahmin by birth and warrior by profession
3. Vishwamitra was a warrior by birth and bend towards priesthood.
4. Parashar , the law giver was a Chandala (lower grade within the Sudra caste)
5. Vashishtar was born to a prostitue.
6. Valmiki, the great author was born to a mere fishwerwoman.
7. The Nanadas , Chandragupta Mauryas’ did not practice Vedism.

and the examples of an open system and its acceptance can keep going on…

While on the one hand the epics reflected the motto of brotherhood and equality so much , on the other hand it tried to preserve the incompetent and less talented individuals within the elite club from the talented low-caste people in the name of Dharma. Ekalavya, as you may recall is a perfect such example.

Many believe that the closeness of the Brahmins and Kshatriyas to the Kings helped them gain respect and indirect power on the society. Thus, encouraging them to look down upon the other classes and shun them. Subsequently, through the influences of different kings and foreigners, the classes became more prominent and hierarchical.

In one way this would seem like a remarkable classification to have social order. In another way, a perfect loop hole to break apart the society.

My conclusion to this is that even Vedas – a pure system that gave equality the highest regard, was forced to be mend due to the influences from the society. While it is natural to follow traditions to preserve the character of the tribe, it is important to throw away things that pose a threat. Caste system may have well worked many billion years back, but it certainly is a misfit in the present generation. It is time for us to uncover the absolute law of the world from our Vedas (if at all you persist on following the Vedas) and bring back equality and justice right in place!

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Things I may never forget….

I think I am just gonna keep typing , it may not necessarily be coherent.

So first of all, I like quite mornings..just the sound of the breeze and birds chirping (or maybe theĀ  sweet morning calls from my mother- I love them *blush* ). Imagine , you are wearing a long dress robe covered by a thick black hooded cloak. Its cloudy and lonely.you can almost see nothing but 5 meters of radius from yourself. You are forced to follow some sort of a hypnotic sound. You keep running faster , and the sound keeps moving further away. Its uphill. You are panting, but you don’t feel like stopping, your eyes furiously searching for the source of the sound. And then you seem to have reached the top of a cliff. And suddenly you hear nothing. Your heart thumps harder. You turn about , and you just go numb at what you have seen.It grows darker and the clouds are swirling on top of you , there is a loud outburst of deafening soundĀ  and THEN you can feel even vibration on your head. YES, its the mobile phone that rang right on my head! Someone HAD to call me at that time ! *takes a deep breath* What do u learn 1. Not to keep mobiles near your head ! 2. At least turn off the vibration mode, it adds to the creepiness.

Having ice cream during a very cold winter! Haha. I know it sounds crazy. There was this time, when a close friend and I walked like a kilometer or 2 wearing knee length skirts , no stockings , a flimsy sweater ( it was CHILLY) to the nearest (or so it was) Basking Robins to have 3 large scoops of ice cream. Haha. Your nose is dripping (no not with phlegm) . Its umm just water. And the vendor is looking at you like you are screwed in your head. Hmmm. That was a nice day.

Have you ever thought about riding your bike FAST on a highway when its pouring cats and dog.Of course I wasn’t riding. Was another friend of mine – equally crazy. She wasn’t wearing a helmet either , nor glasses, so she could barely see constantly. So why did we do all this ? So that we could go to a spot and sit right in the middle of the highway to take photographs !! I swear if we had even mentioned it to our parents, we wouldn’t have been able to leave our room leave alone the house ! That gave the adrenaline a rush.

Stupid things ? here goes. you do realize how hot it can get in Chennai. So the same biking friend and I were roaming as usual and the sun was just radiating everything it had on us! So I took up my Dupatta and covered my entire face ( Some do tie it around their heads / mouth leaving the eyes , for protection). No, But I had to be better! So I dint exactly look like a Muslim with a purdah, I looked like a fool! But little did I care. And my friend was SO embarrassed that she rode faster to reach home earlier!

During one of the animation lectures I attended, my professor had mentioned that when there is an accident the brain tends to register every detail of it. So you actually feel like your in a slow mo. And then i was reminded of this one accident we had missed by a hairline! Yup it was with the same biking friend. She rides fast ok. But not rash, just fast. Skoda as you know is a big car. It was in a junction road, everyone was coming fro mall sides towards the center of the road, and we were head on with Skoda. Then it started. The slow mo(tion). She cut the bike slowly to the right and the skoda moved passed us , the driver glancing a shot as her.I turned back to see the car driving away, cutting through that traffic. and when I had turned we were speeding at 40mkph. Man it felt like one of those biking movies where every crash happens in slomos.

So this is the point where I get SUPER hungry, and I wanna publish this and go and grab some snacks!

ta!

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