Thursday, November 20, 2014

The myth of being a Brahmin by birth : III

After negating the soul, the physical body, birth ( caste), karma and dharma as being causes of Brahmin-hood, the Upanishads explains who is a Brahmin.

तर्हि को वा ब्रह्मणो नाम । 

Who indeed then bears the name ( designation) of Brahmin ? 

यः कश्चिदात्मानमद्वितीयं जातिगुणक्रियाहीनं षडूर्मिषड्भावेत्यादिसर्वदोषरहितं सत्यज्ञानानन्दानन्तस्वरूपं
स्वयं निर्विकल्पमशेषकल्पाधारमशेषभूतान्तर्यामित्वेन 

अनुभवैकवेद्यमपरोक्षतया भासमानं करतळामलकवत्साक्षादपरोक्षीकृत्य
कृतार्थतया कामरागादिदोषरहितः शमदमादिसंपन्नो भाव मात्सर्य
तृष्णा आशा मोहादिरहितो दम्भाहङ्कारदिभिरसंस्पृष्टचेता वर्तत
एवमुक्तलक्षणो यः स एव ब्राह्मणेति शृतिस्मृतीतिहासपुराणाभ्यामभिप्रायः 

अन्यथा हि ब्राह्मणत्वसिद्धिर्नास्त्येव ।
सच्चिदानान्दमात्मानमद्वितीयं ब्रह्म भावयेदित्युपनिषत् ॥

॥ इति वज्रसूच्युपनिषत्समाप्ता ॥
He who succeeds in perceiving directly the self without a second like an amalaka (gooseberry) fruit in the palm of his hand, who is devoid of (the distinction) of caste, gunas ( or trait) and action,
(who is devoid of ) all the faults such as the six imperfections (old age, death, sorrow, delusion, hunger and thirst) and the six states of being ( birth, existence, growth, transformation, waning  and perishing), (who is) of the nature of satya-gnana-anandha-anantha (truth, knowledge, bliss and infinity), who is independent (or self existent) , without determinations ( nir-vikalpa), but the base for infinite determination, (who) exists in all as the indwelling spirit, (who) is within and without of all like the akash (ether),  (who is ) of the nature of indivisible bliss, immeasurable, known only through ones direct experience, (who ) manifests himself directly as truth, (who) has successfully overcome such imperfections as desire and passion, (who is ) filled with the riches of tranquility, (who ) has eliminated from his being such states as envy, greed and infatuation, (who)  lives unaffected by such things as ostentation and egoism - these aforesaid qualities make up a Brahmin.

This is the opinion expressed by all the srutis (Vedas), smritis (religious books), Puranas (ancient lore) and the Ithihasas (historical works). There is no other way to attain Brahmin-hood. Meditate upon Brahman, the inmost Self, who is of the nature of truth, consciousness and bliss and who is without a second. Meditate upon Brahman, the very Self, who is without a second. 

This is the Upanishad.

There are two main inferences of this Upanishad.

i) The first one is this - that it is not birth or circumstance which decides 'Brahmin-hood'. It is true that here are socio-economic differences between people that arise because of one's birth. Birth and context may hinder somebody from achieving a exalted social or economic status. But the Vedas clearly explain that the attainment of the exalted status of Brahmin-hood from a spiritual perspective is not dependent on any of this. Nobody is a Brahmin by birth ( and by extension , no one is born into a Varna). One becomes a Brahmin and anybody can. To claim 'spiritual' superiority based on birth is the most 'anti -vedic' thing a person can do. It is akin to calling the world (உலகம் / ஜகம் ) false or an illusion and in the same breath ,calling oneself the guru of the world (லோககுரு / ஜகத்குரு) - completely contradictory. 

That there is no difference based on birth was so clearly stated by Poet Tiruvalluvar , who said 

பிறப்பொக்கும்  எல்லா  உயிர்க்கும்  சிறப்பொவ்வா
செய்தொழில்  வேற்றுமை  யான் ( 972) 

All beings are born equal ( as one), diversities of work gives each his special worth. 

ii) The second one is that it is difficult to see how one can easily claim to be a Brahmin. One cannot claim or be certified as a 'Brahmin' in the true sense either by one's parents or by the State's Registration Department. Such a certificate is a mere caste or community certificate - not a certificate of one's Varna. From a strictly spiritual perspective, such a claim or certificate is at best spurious. The only true 'certificate' of brahmin-hood, can obviously be 'issued' by a fully realized soul / or by the Almighty ! So, how does one get to know this ? Whether one is a realized one of not , or one's inner experience of bliss, truth and tranquility can be known only to oneself and the Almighty !. But, a realized  soul experiencing God's grace or a true Brahmin can give only what he has - and will hence naturally be gracious to all beings. So, anybody who discriminates against another person, looks down on others, has greed, ego or hatred can never be a Brahmin that the Vedas extol. And this is so easy to observe. As Saint Poet Tiruvalluvar said 

அந்தணர்  என்போர்  அறவோர் மற் றெவ்வுயிர்க்கும்
செந்தண்மை  பூண்டொழு க லான். (30)

The Anthanar(s) are they who are truly virtuous ; because in their conduct towards all creatures they are clothed in graciousness. 

It is not that I am the first person to pull this Upanishad and present. A great many have possibly read it.  Several great people have time and again quoted / quoted from this Upanishad. And yet the myth of being a Brahmin by birth continues to be perpetuated and believed. 

It can  only be so either because these people who claim or believe to be Brahmins by birth 
i) Are ignorant or in some kind of delusion , in which case we can only pity them or let them continue to live in that state ....அம்மட்டில்  அவர்  மகிழ்க  !
and / or 
ii) Are desirous of using other's ignorance , in which case, we can only arm ourselves with knowledge and handle them.

We will also need to understand the true meaning of becoming a Dvija ( or a twice-born) , the Brahmopadesa , the wearing of the sacred thread or yagnobaveetham etc, about the authority to conduct worship in temples etc...and all these directly from the scriptures...

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