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What is Brahminism now?

From: Prof.T.A.S.Vijayaraghavan (
Date: Mon May 10 1999 - 23:54:40 PDT

srimathE raamaanNujaaya nama:

>For example, how many brahmins do you know in this country who perform
"aupAsana"? How many do the >Panca-mahA-yajna? How many actively do
veda-adhyayana, with correct svara and pronunciation? Zero. Yet all
these are >absolutely required of a brahmin and were practiced by many
brahmins as recently as a 100 years.  And the opinion of the
>traditional acharyas was that people who did not perform these rituals
were in no way fit to be called brahmins. One need >only look at the
'Ahnika' and 'dinacaryA' texts of our pUrvAcAryas to see what a real
brahmin lifestyle was like. So it is >foolhardy to think that people can
live in this country, go to work, and still maintan a lifestyle as
befits a brahmin.

Sriman Mani,

After reading your posting on Saturday (v.003.n.365) about modern day
brahmins, I get a message that it is very rare to see a brahmin who
still maintains rituals like "aupAsana etc.( I also feel that you are
upset about this!). I have few doubts to ask. If they are not part of
the flow of the discussions , I will be very grateful if you can kindly
send me a separate e-mail.

Should we not see the relevance of the practices and rituals with
respect to the Time Period and the context people lived in the past and
the time period we are living in. In those days, when science and
technology was not well developed, few rituals and practices were there
which are now seen with lot of scientific relevance. They were assigned
to the Brahmins( Roles were clearly defined in those days).
Scientifically it is known that the smoke out of yagams and yagjams
performed in the agni with ghee were catalytic to induce rain;
Apasthambam ( part of parisHEshanam ) was done to prevent insects and
ants coming on the plates or leaves while eating etc. as in those days
the floorings were mostly  muddy.

So, isn't that the rituals need changes as we progress in time and
science. If we are to strictly adhere all these rituals from the "rule
book", virtually, as you pointed out, except few, presently , we do not
have anyone who would qualify as brahmins strictly.

Or, alternatively, is there a scope for redefining the rituals of
brahmins? How does one prescribe the rituals and practices for brahmins
to follow taking the present time since the roles of brahmins are mixed
up? Theoretically, aren't we following the previous so many generations'
rituals? The rituals you are mentioning have been in vogue at some point
in time taking into account the value system and other factors prevalent
at that time. Several years after our generations, are people expected
to stick to the same rituals as we are supposed to follow now? Or, Can
they be modified now by us to suit the future changes?

Or we are not supposed to touch any of those and leave it to the people
to redefine as they go(i.e. Cross the bridge when it comes approach). I
will be very grateful if scholars like you, Sri Sadagopan and other
scholars throw some light on this.

I apologise for any wrong choice fo words or any other apacharams. If
you find this point does not have any relevance, kindly keep it off the


madhurakavi dhAsan

Associate Professor
XLRI, Jamshedpur,India