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Friday, 24 September 2010

On Brahmins

Brahmins in India have become a minority

The clip exposes the reality that today's brahmins have become oppressed and marginalized ... A Film by FACT - India. (Please click on the title On Brahmins for the video)

These are my comments on Sonia Roy s wall post on facebook:

In modern society, no one respects you just because you are born in a priestly family. You have to work. Those who adopted Western education are now elite like doctors, engineers, professors, MBAs, etc. See how many brahmins are in these positions. But those who maintained their traditional education are unemployed or just surviving hand to mouth. Actually, this whole notion of demigod status due to birth is flawed. This the so-called brahmins do not understand.

Let me make another point before someone misunderstands my argument: That I am not against traditional brahminical learning. On the contrary, I am working very hard to encourage and revive the old glory of Vedic philosophy and make it relevant for public policy. But one cannot restrict it on the basis of birth and one cannot except demigod worship just because one can quote some slokas. A brahmin must be fully educated and cultured in the knowledge of the Absolute (Brahman). That is the meaning of the term.

Let me quote:

janmana jayate sudrah
samskarad bhaved dvijah
veda-pathad bhaved vipro
brahma janatiti brahmanah

But if you want to enjoy the best of facilities in society, no one is more equipped than the elite brahmins. Its only those who did not avail modern education were left behind. If we apply social parameters, they are far better off then backward classes, Dalits, tribals and Muslims.

In the video, a contradiction emerges: the question of dignity of labour, especially a job like cleaning toilets. Who will clean the toilets? It seems to indicate that just because they are born brahmins, the job is abominable. But what about the lower castes? If they clean the toilet, is it okay? Someone has to clean.

However, my concern is with the issue of brahmanatva. If someone, as indicated by many in the video, wants to maintain brahminical purity and be situated in Brahman realization, it is the duty of the state to provide them protection. But such a person should also learn to remain in poverty. What is the dharma of a brahmin?

performing sacrifices (yagna for satisfaction of Visnu) for self and for others; learning the vedas and teaching them; receiving alms and giving charity.

If one is ready to live by these principles, then it is the duty of the state to provide them protection. Otherwise, it is a social question. The conflict for share of socio economic resources among different social groups. There should be no special protection for the so-called brahmins in that case.

I have noticed many poor brahmin families. They live difficult but pious lives. On the other hand, there are other caste brethren who live wealthy lives. Why should not there be a support system within the community?

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