A scriptural study from VajraSuchika Upanishad:
Hinduism and India has been torn by the four fold divisions from ancient times that often led to a rigid caste based system.This has caused a great deal of heart ache and bitterness in Indian society at large.
It states that Brahmins are indeed supreme but defines what a Brahmin is.
The Central Question
“Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudras – these are the four castes.
Amongst these castes, Brahmins indeed are the supreme (pradhana) – these accords with the statements of the Vedas and is stated by the Smritis also.
In this regard, the following enquiry is made:
Is Jiva the Brahmin???
“Of these options, if the first i.e. ‘the designation Brahmin applies to the Jiva’ is considered, then no (i.e., this cannot be true) because the nature (rupa) of the Jiva remains the same in the bodies it assumed in previous lives and also in the future bodies.
Impelled by the fruit of its actions, the Jiva attains numerous bodies (in different births) and in all these bodies, the nature of the Jiva remains the same.
Therefore, the designation ‘Brahmin’ cannot apply to the Jiva.”
## Rebirth is the central tenet of Hinduism
Is Body the Brahmin???
“Then, if it is said that the body has the designation ‘Brahmin’, then no (i.e., this cannot be true),
Because the bodies of all human beings down to the chandalas (outcastes) have the same nature since they are composed of the same 5 elements;
Because features like death, birth, vice and virtues are seen in all bodies;
Because of the absence of the rule that Brahmins are white, Kshatriyas are red, Vaishyas are yellow and Shudras are black.
Because upon cremating the corpses of their fathers/elders and others, one would get tainted with the sin of Brahminicide.
Because of these reasons, the body cannot bear the designation ‘Brahmin’.”
Familial Lineage and Caste:
“Then, if is said that the class by birth (or familial lineage or genus) bears the designation ‘Brahmin’, then no (i.e., this cannot be true), because there are several non-human species from whom numerous great Sages emerged.
We hear from the sacred texts that
– Sage Rsyasrnga was born of a deer,
– Sage Kausika of the Kusa grass,
– Sage Jambuka from a jackal,
– Sage Valmiki from white termite hill,
– Sage Vyasa from a fisher woman,
– Sage Gautama from the back of a hare,
– Sage Vasishtha from Urvashi- the celestial nymph
– Sage Agastya from a pitcher.
Amongst these, there have been many Sages who have been amongst the foremost of men that have demonstrated spiritual realization.
Therefore, it is not one’s class by birth that can be taken as ‘Brahmin’.”
## One has to look at this as a metaphor.
Spiritual Knowledge and Brahminhood
“Then, if it be said that spiritual knowledge is (the cause of) Brahminhood, no (i.e., this cannot be true), because amongst Kshatriyas and others, there are many who have realized the Supreme Reality and have attained Wisdom. Therefore knowledge does not determine Brahminhood.”
Religious Rituals (Karma) and Brahminhood
“Then, if it is said that performance of karma or the fruits thereof (makes one) a Brahmin, no (i.e., this cannot be true), Because association with karma that has been commenced, karma done in the past and karma that will be done, is seen common to all creatures.
(Moreover) good men perform karmas, impelled by (the effects) their past karma.
Therefore, karma does not (make) one a Brahmin.” |
Meritorious Acts and Brahminhood
“Then, if it is said that (performance of) meritorious deeds (makes one) a Brahmin, no (i.e., this cannot be true), because there have been many Kshatriyas and others who have (done meritorious deeds like having) gifted gold (to Brahmins, to religious institutions etc.).
Therefore, the performer of meritorious deeds is not (automatically) the Brahmin.”
Having denied all possible combination, it answers the question in finality as follows.
Who is a Brahmin?
“Who indeed then bears the designation Brahmin?
He (indeed) who, after having all his desires fulfilled as a result of perceiving (realizing) directly, as an amalaka fruit in one’s hand….
The Atman that is One without a second (or is beyond compare),
(That is) bereft of (distinctions of) clan and (is not composed of) the constituents of Prakriti (guNa-hInaM), and actionless,
(That is) free of all defects like the six infirmities (viz. old age, death, sorrow, delusion, hunger and thirst) and the six states of existence/transformations (viz. birth, existence, growth/development, transformation, waning and perishing),
(That is) of the nature of Immutable Reality, of Consciousness, Blissful and Infinite/Eternal,
(That is) an Independent Entity (not deriving its existence and properties from anything else),
(That is) devoid of determinations, but (itself) the support of infinite determinations,
(That is) present in all living and non-living beings as the immanent Soul, (Who) pervades the interior and envelopes the exterior of everything as ether,
(That is) possesses the attribute of perfect and complete (akhanda) Bliss, (That is) incomparable, (That is) known only through one’s own (spiritual) experience (and not through reading of books or teaching by others) and is inferred only indirectly (because of It cannot be perceived by the senses);
Becomes free of the defects of desire, attachment and the like,
Becomes endowed with the (positive) qualities like tranquility etc., becomes free of (negative) behaviors like jealousy, greed, expectations, delusion etc., and leads a life in which the mind is not tainted pretensions, ego and the like.
He alone, who possesses the aforementioned characteristics, is a Brahmin- such is (indeed) the import of Sruti, Smriti, Itihasa and the Puranas.
There is no other way of attaining Brahminhood..