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No Religious Sanction in Hindu Scriptures:

Lord Krishna as saying, in response to the question— "How is Varna (social order) determined?"

"Birth is not the cause, my friend; it is virtues which are the cause of auspiciousness. Even a candala observing the vow is considered a brahmana by the gods."

Lord Krishna wood 1780.

"Birth is not the cause, my friend; it is virtues which are the cause of auspiciousness. 

"I am the Self seated in the heart of all creatures. I am the beginning, the middle and the very end of all beings".  

The Bhagavad Gita has influenced great Americans from Henry David Thoreau to J R Oppenheimer.

Listen to The Bhagavad Gita podcast - By Michael Scherer -


Coming back to the caste system, varna was so conferred on an individual NOT on the basis of his parentage. As stated:

In the Bhagavad Gita, Ch.4, Verse 13: 

The Lotus-Eyed God. Keshava, One Who Has Long, Black Matted Locks. Krishna, Dark-Complexioned Lord says:

guna karma vibhagashah

"The fourfold caste has been created by Me according to the differentiation of Guna (attributes) and Karma;" Bhagavad Gita Ch. 18, V.41:

A most forceful of all is Sri Krishna's statement:

"The devotees of the Lord are not Shudras; Shudras are they who have no faith in the Lord whichever be their caste. A wise man should not slight even an outcaste if he is devoted to the Lord; he who looks down on him will fall into hell." - Mahabharata  

(source: The World's Religions - By Huston Smith p. 80).

"There is no superior caste. The Universe is the work of the Immense Being. The beings created by him were only divided into castes according to their aptitude."  - Mahabharata, Shanti Parva, 188
Of Brahmanas, Kshtriyas and Vaishyas, as also the Sudras, O Arjuna, the duties are distributed according to the qualities born of their own nature."            - Bhagavad Gita  

"All mankind is one family." (Hitopadesh; Subhashita Ratna Bhandagare).

Says the Mahabharata, in the famous dialogue between Yudhishthira and the Yaksha:  

“A man does not become a Brahman by the mere fact of his birth, not even by the acquisition of Vedic scholarship; it is good character alone that can make one a Brahman. He will be worse than a Shudra if his conduct is not in conformity with the rules of good behavior.”  

Manu sums up their relative status and functions in society in the following verse: 

“The Brahman acquires his status by his knowledge, the Kshatriya by his martial vigor; the Vaishya by wealth; and the Shudra by birth alone.” 

Each one has his place and function determined ‘by his own nature’, and by following this alone does one fulfill himself best: Sve sve karmanyabhiratah samsiddhim labhate narah, declares the Bhagavad Gita. Further, ‘One ought not to give up work which is suited to one’s own nature, though it may have its imperfections; for all human endeavors are beset with limitations, even as fire is enveloped by smoke. ‘I follow my Dharma’, says Yuddhisthira, even in his exile, ‘not because I see immediate profit in it, but because virtue is to be practiced, for its own sake, under all circumstances.’ 

(source: Our Heritage and Its Significance - By Shripad Rama Sharma p.79-80).

Shrimad Valmiki Ramayan also says whosoever including sudra reads it will achieve greatness and get rid of all sins. Valmiki Ramayana: 1.1.98-100) Thus, Vedas, Ramayana and Gita confer authority on sudras to possess and read these.

(source: Caste and Bhagawad Gita - By Ambassador O P Gupta).

Watch video - Brahmins in India have become a minority

The earlier portions of the Rig Veda do not refer to any divisions of the people on the basis of caste. The term varna did not mean caste but class. In the Mahabharata (12. 188), the opinion is repeated that all creation is God's creation, and that no one is high or low by birth. It is only by samskara (purification, training) that one becomes a Brahmin:

janmana jayate shudrah samskarairdvija uchyate - All are born Shudras, it is only through certain rites or inner training that one becomes a Brahmin or twice-born.

(source: Hinduism: Its Contribution to Science and Civilization - By Prabhakar Machwe p. 59 - 60).

"Hinduism is a religion without dogma. Since its origin, Hindu society has been built on rational bases by sages who sought to comprehend man's nature and role in creation as a whole. They organized the society in such a way as to facilitate the development of each human being, taking into account his inner nature and the reasons for his existence, since for the Hindus the world is not merely the result of a series of chances but the realization of a divine plan in which all aspects are interconnected. Thus, Hindu society is the result of an attempt to situate man in the plan of creation."  

(source: Alain Danielou - Virtue, Success, Pleasure, Liberation  p. 154-155) 

'Historically, many of the revered rishis were Dalits. The authors of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, Maharishis Valmiki and Vyas respectively, were Dalits. The narrator of the Puranas, Soot Maharishi, was a Dalit...We need to make the people realise that discrimination is not sanctioned by religion.'  

Varna was conferred on the basis of the intrinsic nature of an individual, which is a combination of three gunas (qualities) sattva, rajas, and tamas. 

The following example illustrate that the Varna System of the Vedas was based upon one's aptitude and natural capabilities. 

    Sage Vyasa, a Brahmin sage and the most revered author of the major Hindu scriptures, was the son of Satyavati, a low caste woman. Vyasa's father, Sage Parasara, had fallen in love with Satyavati, a fisherwoman, and had married her. Vyasa's deep knowledge of the Vedas later determined the caste of Vyasa as Brahmin sage, and not his birth to a low caste-woman. 

    Sage Valmiki, the celebrated author of of the epic, Ramayana, was a low caste hunter. He came to be known as a Brahmin sage on the basis of his profound knowledge of the scriptures and his authorship of the Ramayana.

    Sage Aitareya, who wrote the  Aitareya Upanishad and was born of a Shudra woman.

    Rishi Parashar, the famous law-giver was the son of a Chandala, the lowest of the Sudras.

    Rishi Vasishta was the son of a prostitute, but honored as a sage.

    Sage Vidura, a Brahmin sage who gave religious instruction to Kind Dhritarashtra, was born to a low caste woman servant of the palace. His caste as a Brahmin sage was determined on the basis of his wisdom and knowledge of Dharma Shastras (scriptures).

    The Kauravas and Pandavas were the descendants of Satyavati, a low caste fisher-woman, and the sons of Sage Vyasa. Vyasa's father was the Brahmin Sage Parasara, the grandson of Sage Vasishtha. In spite of this mixed heredity, the Kauravas and Pandavas were known as Kshatriyas on the basis of their occupation. 

   Chandragupta Maurya was from the Muria tribe, which used to collect peacock (mor) feathers; Samrat Ashok was the son of a daasi.

    Saint Thiruvalluvar who wrote Thirukural  was only a weaver. Other saints were adored including Kabir, Sura Dasa, Ram Dasa and Tukaram came from the humblest class of Hindu society.


For more refer to Lower caste Hindu Saints - Watch video - Brahmins in India have become a minority

In the Mahabharata, Yudhishthira defines a Brahmin as one who is truthful, forgiving, and kind. 

"a Sudra is not a Sudra by birth alone-nor a Brahmana is Brahmana by birth alone.  He, it is said by the wise, in whom are seen those virtues is a Brahmana.  And people term him a Sudra in whom  those qualities do not exist, even though he be a Brahmana by birth. "

He clearly points out that a Brahmin is not a Brahmin just because he is born in a Brahmin family, nor is a Shudra a Shudra because his parents are Shudras. 

"it is asserted by the wise, in whom are seen truth, charity, forgiveness, good conduct, benevolence, observance of  rites of his order and mercy is a Brahmana."  

Therefore, those that are wise have asserted that character is the chief essential requisite. "Whosoever now conforms to the rules of pure and virtuous conduct, him have I, ere now, designated as a Brahmana."

The author of one of the hymns of the
Rig Veda says: 

" I am a composer of hymns, my father is a physician, my mother grinds corn on a stone. We are all engaged in different occupations." 

The Adi Shankara had stated that by birth every human being is a Shudra. It is by education and upbringing that he or she becomes ‘twice born’, that is, a Dwija.

The Upanishads clearly states that the soul, whether of a Brahmin or a Chandal, is divine.


Dark Skinned Gods: 

The Lotus-Eyed God. Keshava, One Who Has Long, Black Matted Locks. Krishna, Dark-Complexioned Lord.  It has been said that in Krishna we have the fullest and the most perfect manifestation of the Divine. 


Lord Krishna: 16th century bronze.

Krishna, Dark-Complexioned Lord.  It has been said that in Krishna we have the fullest and the most perfect manifestation of the Divine.

Listen to The Bhagavad Gita podcast - By Michael Scherer -


Lord Rama – dark skinned God. In Tulsidas Ramayana "kahaan ke pathik kaha", while walking in the forest, Sita is asked by village women 'kaun se hain pritham, kaun se devarva' (which of the two men is your husband ) and she smiles and replies 'saanvaro se pritam, gorey se devarva'(the dark one is my husband, the fair one is my brother in law).


Madhudvisa dasa of has said: 

"Although many Hindus subscribe to the belief that one is born into a certain caste this belief is not supported by their scriptures. The caste system in India has degenerated into a system falsely recognizing men born in Brahmin families as Brahmins, even though they don't exhibit the qualities of Brahmins. This has caused so many problems.

"Brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas and sudras are distinguished by the qualities born of their own natures in accordance with the material modes, O chastiser of the enemy.

"Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness--these are the natural qualities by which the brahmanas work.

"Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity and leadership are the natural qualities of work for the ksatriyas.

"Farming, cow protection and business are the natural work for the vaisyas, and for the sudras there is labor and service to others.

"By following his qualities of work, every man can become perfect. Now please hear from Me how this can be done.

"By worship of the Lord, who is the source of all beings and who is all-pervading, a man can attain perfection through performing his own work.

"It is better to engage in one's own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another's occupation and perform it perfectly. Duties prescribed according to one's nature are never affected by sinful reactions." (From Bhagavad-gita 18th chapter)

So the Vedas recognize different people have different skills and qualifications, but it is not by birth, it is by guna [qualification] and karma [work]. So if someone born of a sudra [worker] father becomes qualified [guna] and works as [karma] a brahmana he should be accepted as a brahmana... In the same way if the son of a brahmana doesn't have the qualifications of a brahmana or work as a brahmana then he is not a brahmana. There are so many examples of this in the Vedic scriptures.

You have the same system in America. You have intellectuals [brahmanas], you have administrators and military men [ksatriyas], you have businessmen and farmers [vaisyas] and you have workers. The Vedic system just recognizes these groups, that's all. It's quite natural. "

(source: The Indian Caste system - By Madhudvisa dasa -


One of Adi Shankaracharya's (eighth century) finest poems, 'Manisha Panchakam', was inspired by his dialogue with a Chandala, a member of the lowest caste. Once, when Shankara was on his way to the temple after a bath in the Ganga, he found a Chandala with four dogs blocking his path. His caste prejudice flared up when the Chandala refused to step aside, and asked him to do so. But the Chandala asked: "If there is only one existence, what is it that you want to drive away: My body or my soul? If it is my body, both your and mine are made up of the same physical elements.  

But if it is my soul, it is also no different from yours. How can therefore be any distinctions of caste and creed?" Filled with remorse, Shankara prostrated himself before the Chandala. The bard in him sang: "He who has learnt to see one existence everywhere/ he is my master - be he a Brahmin or a Chandala." 

Again, when Goswami Tulsidas recreated Valmiki's Ramayan in Awadhi, the language of commoners, he was denounced by the purblind Brahminical order of the day. It was the then Shankaracharya who gave dharma's sanction to the transcreation of Ramayana, which reached out to a vast populace. It was a revolutionary movement, a reinvention of such brilliance that only Sanatan Dharma was capable of.

(source: Crisis before Brahminism - By Gautam Siddharth - - December 5' 2004).

‘Hinduism does not subscribe to untouchability’

Hindu religion did not subscribe to untouchability, which was prevalent in some pockets of rural areas, said the Kanchi Sankaracharya, Jayendra Saraswathi, here today. Talking to newsmen, he said untouchability existed owing to illiteracy and could be eradicated only by educating people. The Kanchi Mutt was taking steps to eradicate the social evil, he said.


Referring to a recent court ruling that anyone with the requisite qualification could be made a temple priest, he said even now there were thousands of temples in the State where non-Brahmin priests performed pujas. People belonging to different communities visited these temples and received `prasadam' from them. The mutt was giving training to people of different communities on conducting pujas.


(source: The Hindu November 1, 2002

Sir Denzil Ibbetson (1847 - 1908) Governor of Punjab from 1907 to 1908, in the Census Report of 1881, remarked

“that caste is far more a social than a religious institution; that it has no necessary connection whatever with the Hindu religion…” 

(source: India: Its Life and Thought - By John P Jones  p. 97)

Gaya Charan Tripathi points out in Hinduism Reconsidered that: 

"Those who wish to criticize Hinduism hardly ever fail to highlight the point that Hinduism breeds social inequality and, tries to justify it with its religious code. I do not think that it is proper to see and evaluate the caste system exclusively in terms of social inequality or social injustice. The system is so complex and multifaceted that it usually defies its comprehension in totality to an outsider. No social system, especially a system which is based on or which aims at exploitation of a group of its members can last so long and be so firmly rooted in the psyche and behavior of the people as the Indian caste system has been, withstanding all historical changes and strong and social upheavals; nor can it be said to be only negative and disadvantageous to the society. Its role in preserving the social and ethnic identity of a group, in building resistance against foreign religious and cultural influences has also to be taken into account. It is not widely known that a sort of strong "family relationship" transcending the caste barriers existed and still exists among the members belonging to different castes and different castes and different social groups in the village society where the persons belonging to different castes are brothers and sisters, maternal and paternal aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, etc, to each other and this relationships is zealously maintained in personal behavior and in social interactions."

The Buddha never said: 

"Down with the Brahmins! Break Brahmins tyranny!” On the contrary, he taught about how to be a true Brahmin, as against having the outer attributes but not the inner qualities of a Brahmin. Many of his disciples were Brahmins. The myth of Buddhist social revolution against Brahmin tyranny can be disproven on many counts with the Buddha’s own words. "

For a balanced description and a largely positive evaluation of the varna doctrine by  a Westerner, see Alain Danielou: Les Quatre Sens de la Vie, Paris. 1976.

(source: Ayodhya and After - By Koenraad Elst Voice of India Issues Before Hindu Society SKU: INBK2650  p.141).

No observation on the contemporary caste system would be complete without the observation of Alberuni. He describes the traditional division of Hindu society along the four Varnas and the Antyaja -- who are not reckoned in any caste; but makes no mention of any oppression of the lower castes by upper castes.  Much, however the four castes differ from each other, they live together in the same towns and villages, mixed together in the same houses and lodgings. The Antyajas are divided into eight classes -- formed into guilds -- according to their professions who freely intermarry with each other except with the fuller, shoemaker and the weaver. They live near the villages and towns of the four castes but outside of them. (Sachau:101).

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