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Reg the discussions about Bhaghavathaapacharam

From: Vaidehi Venkatakrishnan (
Date: Thu Jan 16 1997 - 16:40:12 PST

Dear Bhakthas,

    Please let us not forget the time period of the incident in 
question. It is best imho that we leave it as it is without passing 
value judgements on a bygone era. What would be much more fruitful is 
to realize the ramifications of such behaviour in the context of the 
current living patterns and whether such attitudes should be continued 
at this point in time (regardless of whether the person in question is 
a glorified Bhaktha or not), and if this attitude towards segments of 
people continue even today (I am sure it does in many places), where 
would SriVaishnavism be in perhaps another couple of decades.
    If one sincerely believes that incident had to be condemned, let us 
try to absorb that thought in our lives and spread it around as well as 
we can. How many of you (Brahmins on this list) can honestly say that 
you will fight your grandma or grandpa if they treat non-brahmins as 
untouchables and make them sit side by side with a non brahmin and have 
a pleasant meal? I can vividly remember a day in my early adulthood 
when me and two of my sisters ate a meal at the function of our very 
friendly everyday friend and neighbour the milkman's daughter's 
engagement I think (His wife pleaded with my mom," Amma pl atleast let 
the children come and eat; we are preparing the food with brahmin 
cooks") and upon return to our home, learning this my maternal 
grandfather had a fit and gave us such a tongue lashing. I must mention 
here we sneaked out to go their function and my mom was ok with it. (We 
lived for some years in a predominantly brahmin habitat!) Maybe it was 
that incident that harshly brought the reality to me and combined with 
youthful anger and the hope and eagerness to set the world straight on 
all matters that you believe to be right and true helped me develop 
very positive attitudes towards all segments of people. However even I 
don't know how I will react if presented with a strange set of 
circumstances of caste. I only hope the Lord sustains and grows my 
    Did I judge my grandfather? Yes. But did he do anything wrong in 
his opinion? No; because he had grown in such atmosphere it was second 
nature to him. God knows how many generations of people Brahmins have 
hurt in the pretext of being a so called "superior" breed, and what is 
even more surprising is why the majority of them took it at all. We 
certainly cannot take pride in such actions and what is more people and 
politicians could not have exploited the issue of caste as much as they 
do today. Those of us who are Brahmins by birth are no longer 
completely falling into that category the moment we left the career of 
Bhaghavatha Kainkaryam for a different career or living. Not 
withstanding that, we should strive to learn a lesson or form an 
opinion for the betterment of society rather than indulging in judging 
people of a bygone era.
    The issue of caste and how it played out in our SriVaishnava 
culture has long intrigued me. In one of my discussions with Dr. 
Narayanan, I remember her mentioning that caste is relatively of recent 
origin than we think. Perhaps if she has the time she can enlighten us 
on this issue. Also if it entirely not out of context for this group I 
would appreciate a discussion on this subject, beginning first with 
authenticated postings on when and how the caste system came into 
being; stories and historic accounts of Aazhwaars and our religious 
heads fighting this, what they and are doing to eliminate it and so on, 
before adding each persons experiences and opinions about this subject.
    Please let us not indulge in personal accusations for whatever 
reason it maybe. That was clearly one of the many distinctions of this 
group to begin with. Everyone appreciates the efforts of Mani and other 
learned members of this group enormously, especially people like me who 
have read very little of our rich scriptures. We look forward to many 
more lofty discussions in this group.

p.s.1: It was a pleasant surprise for Shri Kannabiran, Shri Sunder 
Kidambe and myself to meet each other a week ago in the temple!
p.s. 2: I would like to respond to the recipe request, but a little 
vary of starting such discussions in this group as we might digress 
quite a bit from the goal. But if majority feels its ok, then I will 
send the recipes.

Vaidehi V. Raja