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Caste and the Hindu scripture - Contributed to this site by Ambassador O P Gupta 

Over centuries, percentage of Hindus in the world population has been declining; and, even in independent India, percentage of Hindus in total population has been declining!!!

Percentage of Hindus in total population of India was 84.98% in the 1951 census; 82.7% in 1971; 82.6% in 1981 and 82.41% in the 1991 census. But in the Census Data Online report (tables 23 & 24) (www.censusindia.net), percentage of Hindus in the 1991 census has been revised downwards to 82%.

The 2001 census report is yet to be officially issued. Shri Ramesh Chander Dogra-Urmila Dogra at page 34 of their book `Let us know Hinduism` published by Star Publications (2003) have placed percentage of Hindus in India at 79% only. For this decline, we Hindus have to blame ourselves.

It calls for serious introspection and reappraisal of our socio-religious norms. Whereas Islamic priests (mullah) and Christian priests have been working overtime with missionary zeal to seek new converts so as to increase their demographic weight, Hindu priests (pujaries) unaware of Rigvedic norms of equality by birth and gender equality but armed with Manusmriti have been working hard over last one thousand years to reduce population of Hindus: by making it more and more difficult for a sizeable chunk of Hindus (now called ST/SC/Dalits) to let them remain Hindus with honour and dignity by concocting high caste- low caste syndrome; by not sanctifying widow marriages; and, by not seeking new converts to Hinduism.

Widow marriage is expressly sanctioned under RV(X.40.2), RV(X.18.8) RV(X.18.9), Atharvaveda (IX.5.27-28) and AV(XVIII.3.1-4).

The very concepts of castes by birth, upper/lower castes, superior/inferior castes, outcastes, untouchables, dalits, etc. are expressly prohibited by Rigveda, by Ramayana and by Shrimad Bhagwat Gita.

Protagonists of castes by birth cite in particular Purus-Sukta (X.90.12) of Rigveda and slokas (IV.13) and (XVIII.41) of Shrimad Bhagwat Gita. This claim is totally knocked down if one keeps in mind other richas of Rigveda and other slokas of Gita and examples set by Lord Rama. There is no birth based caste in Rigveda is evident from a simple fact that names of none of Rigvedic rishis carry any present day caste titles like Pandit, Sharma, Tripathi, Chaturvedi, Trivedi, Singh, Rao Gupta, Namboodari, etc. etc.

There are about thirty women risi (risikas) in Rigveda implying gender equality that women were not discriminated in matters of education nor were prevented from gaining exellence.

In fact RV(X.85) the marriage hymn containing forty slokas was revealed to lady risi Surya Savitri which has to be recited at time of solemnising marriages as per Vedic rites but many out of ignorance donot recite it leaving marriage rites incomplete. For conferring full Vedic sanctity on marriage, parents should make it a point to insist upon pandits to recite (X.85) in mandapam before saptpadi ceremony. In some Hindi movies one finds Durga saptapadi slokas being recited at time of marriage!!!

Vedas, Valmiki Ramayan and Gita are three and only three supreme religious scriptures of Hindus. All others (Brahmanas, Upnishads, Puranas, Sutras, Smrities) are just commentaries, explanations, stories mixed with historical accounts and poets’ imaginations.

Many Puranas themselves state that these are stories (mahatmya) as narrated by Kakbhisundi, Sukracharya or other sages. All books written in Sanskrit cannot be elevated to status of religious scriptures. Therefore, these latter compositions must yield to supremacy of Vedas. It is not a new assertion as these themselves acknowledge supremacy of Vedas. For example, Manusmriti vide Sloka (II.6), states that Vedas are the primary/first source of authority. Manusmriti (II.13) reconfirms that the supreme authority of law is the shruti i.e. Vedas.

So, it is logical that all such slokas of Manusmriti which are violative of Veda should stand rejected. In fact, Maharishi Ved Vyas, who is credited to have compiled/edited all the four Vedas in present format and who is believed to be author of Mahabharata, Shrimad Bhagwat Gita and all the Purans has himself laid down (Mahabharata: 1-V-4): that `whenever there is conflict between what is declared in the Vedas and provisions in any of the Smritis, Puranas, etc., what is declared in the Vedas shall prevail` (Human Rights and Indian Values by Justice M. Rama Jois, Page 2). In 1899 AD Prof. Arthur A. Macdonell 'A History of Sanskrit Literature' has written (page 28) 'works of vedic revelation (shruti) were deemed of higher authority in cases of doubt than the later works on religious and civil usage, called smrti.'

At page 31 Macdonell adds 'Dharma sutras are, in general, the oldest sources of Indian law and are closely connected with Veda which they quote and which the later law-books regard as the first and highest source of dharma.'

Thus, Macdonell suggests that Vedas supersede every other scriptures and stand the supreme. Justice A.M. Bhattacharjee also in his book 'Hindu Law and the Constitution' says (page 16) that by a rule of interpretation, if the shruti (Vedas) and the smriti differ on any point, the former is to prevail but the British Courts ruled just the opposite!! In practice, Justice Bhattacharjee says (page 18) commentaries & digests (nibandhas) replaced smritis in British Courts.

In Atmaram v Bajirao, the Privy Council ruled that opinions of latter day commentators (Bhasyakars) would prevail over Vedas. In view of the Privy Council decision in Ramnad case (1868), it was no more open to Hindus even to inquire whether disputed points were in conformity with Vedas or not (page 37).

Thus, while paying lip services to supremacy of Vedas, British Indian Courts, in name of upholding local latter/usages & practices, slowly but steadily whittled down, caselaw by caselaw, the supremacy of Vedas; and, thus promoted divisiveness/diversities among Hindus to meet imperial interests of their political masters of the day to divide & rule.

No one can be definite how old are Vedas, Ramayana and Gita. What is their real antiquity? European scholars estimate that Rigveda was composed during 1500 to 1200 BC (Before Christ). Rigveda comprises revelations to 414 rishies.

Thus, Rigveda has aura/majesty of a Holy scripture having been approved by a sort of Dharam Sansad comprising 414 rishies. Thereafter, Ramayana and Mahabharata were composed. Shrimad Bhagwat Gita is a part of Mahabharata. Other scholars estimate that Rigveda was revealed much before 5000 BC as it does not mention cotton (kapas) whereas the oldest cotton seeds found in (Mehrgarh) Baluchistan have been carbon dated to 5000 BC (Scientific American Journal, August 1980).Astronomical data ,some zodiac configurations and references about equinoxes etc in Veda support antiquity of Rigveda beyond 5000BC.

It is believed that Manusmriti was composed much later during Kushan period, about 100 years after Chankya/Kautilya. Arthur A. Macdonnel ,Principal, Oxford College (born in Patna, Bihar) in his book 'A History of Sanskrit Literature' (1899 AD) estimates that Manusmriti in its present form was composed near about 200 AD, Yajnavalkya Dharma Sutra in 350 AD, Mitaksara in 1100 AD, Parasar Smriti in 1300 AD and Dayabhag in 1500 AD.

In his book, Macdonnel (page 366) warns that the smritis are not on the same footings as law books of other nations as these are works of private individuals (Brahmins); these were written by Brahimins for benefit of Brahinins whose caste pretentions these books consequently exaggerate. Further, none of these books from Manusmriti onwards were approved by any Dharam Sansad (religious congregation). Macdonnel advises, it is, therefore, important to check statements/claims made in smrities by outside sources.

But, British Indian Courts neglected this advice of Macdonnel. Further, the original text of Manusmriti has been tampered with was acknowledged by Sir William Jones, an employee of the East India Company who arbitrarily elevated it as the Law book of Hindus in British Indian Courts. Bertrand Russel in his book, Power, has traced from prehistoric times that priestly class used religious beliefs and practices to accumulate power and wealth. In medieval times, kings used to rule in many European countries at pleasure of Catholic Pope. Papal approval was a must for ascending thrones in Europe. So, priestly class acquiring power in name of religion was there in other societies also.

As devil is there in the details, readers may closely look at English translations. HH Wilson (ISBN 81-7110-138-7) translates (X.90.11): 'When they immolated Purusa, into how many portions did they divide him? What was his mouth called, what his arms, what his thighs, what were his feet called?' Ralph T.H. Griffith translates: 'When they divided Purusa how many portions did they make? What do they call his mouth, his arms? What do they call his thighs and feet?'

Translation of (X.90.12) by HH Wilson 'His mouth became the Brahmana, his arms became the Rajnya, his thighs became the Vaishya, and the Sudra was born from his feet.' Translation of (X.90.12) by Griffith 'The Brahman was his mouth, of both his arms Rajnya was made. His thighs became Vaishya, from his feet the Sudra was produced.'

With a view to create hereditary monopoly on easy money of dakshina, greedy priests many centuries after Vedas concocted hypothesis in form of Manusmriti that as Brahman was born from mouth of Purusa, he was the superior most and as Sudra was born from feet which is impure part of body he was impure and the inferior most. In Manusmriti (5/132) it is stated that organs above nabhi are sacred (pavitra) and those below are impure (apivatra).

There is no sanction for such a hypothesis in Rigveda. Wilson says objective of (X.90.11) was 'to immolate Purusa;' and, Griffith says 'to divide Purusa.' This context, this background that, division of body of Purusa into four parts was done to immolate/sacrifice/kill the Purusa , has been totally suppressed and manipulated in Manusmriti. In sloka (I.31), Manusmriti claims, that for growth of people (lokanbridhi) Brahma created Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra from mouth, arms, thighs and feet. What Rishi Narain, composer of (X.90) has conveyed is a very simple common sense, that: even the most powerful man like Purusa can be immolated/destroyed/killed if his mouth, arms, thighs and feet are separated.

If we kill a person what do we do? We cut his body into pieces. This is what followers of Manusmriti have been doing over centuries destroying/immolating Hinduism from within by dividing/separating Hindus among different castes by birth and by putting them at fratricidal war with each other, thus, reducing Hindu population. By throwing Sudras out of villages, followers of Manu amputated feet of Hinduism, thus, made Hinduism crippled and invalid. Will followers of Manusmriti agree to get their own feet amputated on the same logic that their legs are impure parts of their bodies?

Another interpretation of( X.90.11 & 12 )is creative i.e. a powerful (virat) man emerges from Yajna. Acharya Shri Ram Sharma of Bareilly translates (in Hindi) 'Virat purus kitne prakaroo se utpanna huvey. Unka mukh Brahman, bhuja kshatriye, janghaye vaishya aur charan sudra huye.'

Acharya translates these two richas on lines of creation not immolation, so, in his translation, body of Purus is not being divided into four limbs. By common sense, a virat Purus is the one who is healthy and one is healthy only if his mouth, arms, thighs and feet are joined together and work in perfect harmony with each other. Whenever this harmony among different parts of body is disturbed/destroyed, he becomes paralysed and sick.: and he is no more a virat Purus. So, what Rishi Narain is saying is that a Society will emerge as the most powerful Society like the Virat Purus only if its intelligentia (educated people i.e. Brahmans), Government (Rajnya), business community (Vaishya) and professionals & workers (Sudra) are joined together and work in as close harmony with each other as mouth, arms, thighs and feet of any healthy person work.

These two richas, thus, emphasise total equality, perfect unity & complementarity of all the four classes of people so as to make a Society powerful. In a healthy person, mouth does not claim to be superior to legs, arms do not claim any superiority over legs, arms do not function independently of head (Parkinsons’s disease), etc. as each part of a body is composed of identically same materials and is functionally dependent upon each other.

No part of body is inferior or superior to any other part of the body; each dependent on the other; each complementary to the other, each supporting the other. Thus, Purus Sukta commands that none of the four classes is inferior or superior to other and each is dependent on the other for its healthy survival. But, just contrary interpretation has been created by greedy people and British Courts to divide and rule over Hindus:Those who say that as Sudra represent feet of Virat Purus, and, as feet is impure so Sudras are impure should know that richa (X.90.14) says that earth was born from the same feet of Purusa. So, will they leave this earth on the same analogy of earth being an impure place? Based on (X.90.14) Sudras will be justified to claim the entire earth as exclusively theirs. Also one may note that whenever we worship, we always place our heads on feet of God in any temple, so how can anyone say that anything representing the same feet of God is impure and untouchable.

There is no stipulation of high or low by birth in Rigveda. Many rishis of Rigveda under current Manusmriti definition do not turn out to be Brahmins by birth. There is no stipulation in Rigveda that son will necessarily inherit profession of his father i.e. there is no hereditary claim on professions. In richas RV (V.23.1) and (V.23.2) Rishi Dyumna prays to Agni 'Bestow Agni, upon Dyumna, a son, overcoming foes by his prowess; one who may with glory subdue all men in battle' (HH Wilson). A rishi of Rigveda is praying Agni for a warrior son. In RV (IX.112.3) another rishi says 'I am the singer, papa is the physician, mama throws the corn upon grinding stones.` So, father of a Rigvedic rishi is a physician! In Manusmriti a physician has been called impure/sudra. In richa (X.125.5) rishi says that by imparting training one can be turned into a warrior, a Brahma, a rishi or a sage.

Thus, in Rigveda profession is not by birth, not hereditary, but by training (karma/efforts/prayatna).

HH Wilson translates (X.125.5), 'I verily of myself declare this which is approved by both gods and men; whosoever I will, I render him formidable, I make him a Brahma, a rishi or a sage.' This richa appears in Atharveda (IV.30.03) also. RV (X.98) is revealed to risi Devapi who was elder brother of King Shantanu of Mahabharata. In RV (X.98.7) Devapi, is functioning as a purohit to his own brother King Shantanu.

So being a ksatriya under Manusmriti definition, one brother (Devapi) under Rigveda is functioning as purohit to another brother (King Shantanu). Hymns RV (IX.96) and RV (X.179.02) were revealed to rishi Pratardana who was a King of Kashi. Lady rishi Lopmudra, a Ksatriya ' daughter of King of Vidarbha - was married to risi Augustya. The third Mandala of Rigveda was revealed to risi Vishwamitra and family. In (III.58.6) he confirms his family lineage to House of Jahnu who was a King of Kanyakubj. Gayatri mantra RV (III.62.10) was revealed to risi Vishwamitra Gathin. Gayatri mantra appears in Yajurveda (III.35) and in Samveda (1462) also. Therefore, by reciting Gayatri mantra one simultaneously venerates three Vedas. Richas RV (III.53.22-24) confirm risi Vishwamitra Gathin himself was a warrior. Hymn RV (VI.75) attests rishi Payu Bhardwaj was also a great warrior. In Mahabharata days Parasuram, Dronachraya, Kripacharya were great warriors.

Some assert that Arayns were/are fair complexioned people and sudras are dark skinned. They also claim that four varnas are based on colours of skin. This is not true as Lord Rama and Lord Krishna are always depicted in coloured pictures as dark complexioned (shyama varna). Rishi Ved Vyas who compiled Vedas was himself of dark complexion. Rishi Kanva who richly contributed to Rigveda was himself a dark skinned person vide RV (X.31.11):

There is no mention of forced southward migration either in Rigveda or in Dravidian literatures. But some scholars assert that fair skinned Aryans invaded India during 1500 BC and defeated dark skinned Dravidians and pushed them into South India. Such scholars end up concluding that Dravidians too migrated into India (before Aryans) from the Mediterranean regions!!

Word Dravida occurs in RV (III.61.6) but means treasure, prosperity. In Atharvaveda (XVIII.3.1) too word dravina means property/wealth. No society expels rich. So why did Aryans act against common sense and why did they expel rich people are another fundamental weaknesses of Aryan Invasion Theory(AIT)

The Aryan Invasion Theory, one school claims, was developed by Max Muller, a highly paid German employee of the East India Company to deny political & moral basis to Hindus to claim independence from British as they(Hindus), too, under this theory were foreigners in India (from Russian steppes or Mediterranean) like Britishers. This imperialist theory was designed to confer as much political legitimacy/rights on Britishers over India as Hindus (Aryans and Dravidians) had over India; all being foreigners.

Later, even Max Muller conceded that 'Aryan in scientific language is utterly inapplicable to race. It means language and nothing but language. Aryans are those who speak Aryan language with Aryan grammar whatever their colour, whatever their blood.' In Rigveda, Arya means educated ones.

Higher caste/lower caste and untouchability, etc. is in open and direct contradiction of many other richas of Vedas viz. RV (VIII.93.13), RV (X.191), Atharveda III.30 and VII.54 (or VII.52) and Yujurveda (26.02) and (36.18). Unity in diversity is famous Indian motto. Cows of different colours like black, red and spotted ones give same white milk RV (VIII.93.13) is a metaphor used in Vedas for diversity yielding to unity. HH Wilson translates (X.191.2): 'Meet together, talk together, let your minds apprehend alike: in like manner as the ancient gods concurring accepted their portion of the sacrifice:'

RV (X.191.3) 'Common be the prayer of these (assembled worshippers), common be the acquirement, common the purpose, associated be the desire. I repeat for you a common prayer, I offer for you a common oblation:'

RV (X.191.4) 'Common (worshippers), be your intention; common be (the wishes of) your heart; common be your thoughts, so that there may be thorough union among you:'

W.D. Whitney & K.L. Joshi translate Atharveda (III.30.1) 'like-heartedness, like mindedness, non-hostility do I make for you; do you show affection the one towards the other, as the inviolable (cow) towards her calf when born:'

Atharveda (III.30.5): 'Having superior intentful, be you not divided, accomplishing together, moving on with joint labour come hither speaking what is agreeable one to another, I make you united, like minded.'

Atharveda (III.30.6): 'Your drinking saloon be the same, in common your share of food, in the same harness do I join you together; worship you Agni united, like spokes about a navel.' Thus, SC/ST/Dalit Hindus have Vedic rights of equal & free access to water wells, tanks, food-shops, temples, worshipping, etc.

Atharveda (III.30.7): United, like minded I make you, of one bunch, all of you, by (my conciliation; (be) like the gods defending amrita; late and early be well-willing yours.” Thus, all Hindus are of one bunch, one stock. Atharveda (VII.54.1) and (VII.54.2): “Harmony for us with our own men… May we be harmonious with mind, with knowledge, may we not fight… let the day not come when Indra’s arrow fall on us.”

Yajurveda (26.02) (richa No. 1460) prays for well being (kalyan) of all including sudras as under: RTH Griffith & Dr. Ravi Prakash Arya translate “That I to all the people say address this salutary speech, To priest and nobleman, Sudra and Arya to one of our own kin and to the stranger.” Thus, Yajuveda confirms that Sudras belong to same community, same race as that of the priest, Rajnya and arya. Thus, Sudras are not a separate race, a point always so emphatically emphasised by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (Page 269, Dr. Ambedkar Life and Mission by D. Keer). “In Ambedkar’s view the caste system is a social division of people of the same race.” Shri Ram Sharma translates: “Kalyan karane wali vani ko Brahman, raja, sudra, vaishya, apne jano aur samasta jano ke liye kahata hoon.” Yaj (36.18): “O Deva, strengthen me. May all beings regard me with eyes of a friend. May I regard all beings with the eye of a friend. With the eye of a friend do we regard one another.”

Thus, the central command of the 15 harmony richas and 10 profession not hereditary richas is that all Hindus are totally equal by birth, of one bunch, share same water and food, worship together united in same temple, common are the prayers, common be the purpose, common be thoughts, united like spokes of a wheel, common be oblation, friendly towards each others, etc. etc. One becomes a warrior (Rajnya), Brahman (educated ones) or rishi, not by birth but by his efforts/training (karma) vide RV (X.125.5). No one is superior by birth and no one is inferior by birth. In fact RV (V.60.5) reads “No one is superior (ajyestasa) or inferior (akanishtasa). All are brothers (ete bhrataraha). All should strive for the interests of all and should progress collectively. (sowbhagaya sam va vridhuhu):

The writer is the Ambassador of India to Finland. The article are personal views of the author; and, not that of the Govt. of India.











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