You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : January 2002

On Caste and Karma theory

From: MK Krishnaswamy (
Date: Sat Jan 19 2002 - 10:54:25 PST

Dear Members,

Greg Michel, in his posting on 'Social Justic' regrets that there is no Vedic equivalent of the Christian directive to 'love your neighbour as yourself'.

Upadesa Saram by Ramana Maharishi is considered as a condensation of the Vedic/Upanishadic teachings and gives guidance for developing a spiritual way of living. His advice on dealing with fellow human beings:

"jagatha IshadhIh ukta sevanam 
ashTamUrtibhrut deva pUjanaM."

You want to worship the Lord?
Consider the whole world as the Lord
And do Service to one and all:
That is true worship of the Lord.

None is excluded. That is the true spirit of the ancient philosophy of Sanatana Dharma.
Caste, creed etc are later human inventions which go against this fundamental commandment to
serve everyone as an embodiment of the Lord, without any discrimination.

In the last century(?), the great Vaishnavite saint Narsinh Mehta gave expression to this view
in his famous slokam: Vaishnava janato tene kahiye, the favorite prayer song of Gandhiji; the following posting 
by Shri Mani which appeared in Bhakti List (May 23, 1994) gives its text and meaning:

Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye je
        [One who is a vaishnav]   
        PeeD paraayi jaaNe re
        [Knows the pain of others] 
        Par-dukhkhe upkaar kare toye
        [Does good to others, esp. to those ones who are in misery]  
        Man abhimaan na aaNe re
        [Does not let pride enter his mind] 
        SakaL lok maan sahune vande
        [A Vaishnav, Tolerates and praises the the entire world] 
        Nindaa na kare keni re
        [Does not say bad things about anyone] 
        Vaach kaachh man nishchaL raakhe
        [Keeps his/her words, actions and thoughts pure] 
        Dhan-dhan janani teni re
        [O Vaishnav, your mother is blessed (dhanya-dhanya)]

        Sam-drishti ne trishna tyaagi
        [A Vaishnav sees everything equally, rejects greed and avarice]  
        Par-stree jene maat re
        [Considers some one else's wife/daughter as his mother]
        Jivha thaki asatya na bole
        [The toungue may get tired, but will never speak lies]
        Par-dhan nav jhaalee haath re
        [Does not even touch someone else's property]

        Moh-maaya vyaape nahi jene
        [A Vaishnav does not succumb to worldly attachments]
        DriDh vairaagya jena man maan re
        [Who has devoted himself to stauch detachment to worldly  pleasures]
        Ram naam shoon taaLi laagi
        [Who has been edicted to the elixir coming by the name of Ram]
        SakaL tirath tena tan maan re
        [For whom all the religious sites are in the mind]

        VaN-lobhi ne kapaT-rahit chhe
        [Who has no greed and deceipt]
        Kaam-krodh nivaarya re
        [Who has renounced lust of all types and anger]  
        BhaNe Narsaiyyo tenun darshan karta
        [The poet Narsi will like to see such a person] 
        KuL ekoter taarya re
        [By whose virtue, the entire family gets salvation]

A similar spirit of humility and treating every one as equal is apparent in Raja Kulasekhara Azhwar's 
plea to the Lord to make him a servant of the servant of the servant of the one rendering service
to a servant of the servant of the Lord.  He, a king,  was acutely aware of the dangers to the mind 
of a superior attitude adopted due to birth and hence his plea for help in cultivating humility and spirit of
bhRtyasya bhRtya iti mAm smara lOka-nAtha)
(Mukunda Maala)

Instances of cruelty, selfishness and arrogance abound in all countries. But one does not therefore, decry a whole community.
Unfortunately, casteism has come to dominate the view of the 'Orthodox' section of the Hindu Horizon due to our own fault. It is regrettable that this continues to exist, inspite of Statutory provisions in India to the contrary, banishing discrimination based on caste and making it a legal offence to practise discrimination in any form. 

The Karma theory might possibly be a plausible philosophical hypothesis for explaining the belief in a compassionate and omnipotent God co-existing with evil and the sufferings of people on this earth. But it certainly is not a justification for those who believe in Him to cruelly ignore or justify such sufferings and not try to relieve their sufferings/pain. 

Lord Krishna has assured us that when the ordinary people suffer unjustly, helplessly and their sufferings multiply due to the negligent and contributory attitude of the powerful and the affluent, He would come personally to balance the scales of Justice in their favour.

M.K. Krishnaswamy

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

           - SrImate rAmAnujAya namaH -
To Post a message, send it to:

Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to