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Re: vaidehi Raja's comment

From: V Sundar (vxs100_at_psu.edu)
Date: Thu Jan 16 1997 - 20:34:18 PST

At 6:21 AM 01-17-97, I.K. Rengarajan wrote:

>I may think because those non brahmin
>households were not acceptably " conducive" for folks like us to
>interact.
>They were meat eaters basically, and most of them were unclean. I am
>sure this concern would have been the very basis for their abstinence
>from mingling with them. Again it is the " view point". I am sure most
>of you would agree with me.


Too much has been made of vegetarianism here for this point to go unmade.
We seem to accept vegetarianism as holy writ. Please refer to any of the
many standard texts on the Jaminiya Brahmana (probably the best translated
- though van Buitenen's Vadhula Shrauta Sutra is pretty good too) for proof
of the following facts.

We should all be aware the Vedas (and I mean the four - not later
revisionistic Upanishadic afterthoughts) are hymns meant for the rite of
sacrifice.

The best kept secret of our religion, the Brahmanas, which are the "formula
books" that expand on the modalities of sacrifice and tell wonderful
archetypal myths connected to the angas of sacrifice provide explicit
directions for :

1. The sacrifice of cows
2. The sacrifice of various other animals, including the horse in the ashvamedha
3. Human sacrifice also. Prince Rohita's father had promised him to Varuna,
but the father of Shunahshepa gave him (Shunahshepa) as an acceptable
substitute. This was the Shunahshepa that was adopted by Vishvaamitra and
renamed Devaraata (a slightly more dignified name than Shunahshepa ;)) and
named him the eldest of his sons.
4. How the products of the sarifice (this  means 'unclean meat', folks!)
were to be shared among the brahman, ritvik, adhvaryu, hotri and shamitri
priests - all of whom were definition brahmins =). How about it, folks ?

In case you haven't heard, the Brahmanas are accepted as shruti - divinely
inspired, and are included in the general reference to "Vedic" works.

The stricture of vegetarianism is a very late development in Hinduism,
probably a reactionary development to Buddhism. In one of the more
obviously later portions of the aanushaasanika parva in the Mahabharata,
Yudishtira recieves advice on the merits of vegetariansim from
Bheeshmachaarya, but not without protestations about how good meat is and
tastes =)

In interesting 'caste' links to this story, Shunahshepa declares his father
to be not a brahmin. Though a brahmin by birth, his father agreed to bind
him for teh sacrifice and kill him, in exchange for three thousand cows.
His clan (gotra) sided with Shunashepa in this.

Vihswamitra's 50 younger sons refused to accept Shunahshepa as their elder.
The legend says these younger sons were cursed to be barbaras, andhras,
dramidas and other 'inferior' races =).

We may have mostly adopted vegetariansim now, but it was not the way it
always was. Let's keep that in mind while tossing around epithets like
"unclean" rather easily.

Regards,

Sundar