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RE: Caste difference in Sr Vaishnavas

From: rajaram venkatramani (rajav_at_hclt.com)
Date: Wed Oct 11 2000 - 05:23:26 PDT

Dear devotees,

I am shocked to see justification of varna by birth which in my
understanding
is baseless and dangerous.
I would like to present my understanding. If it is not in agreemnet with the
teachings of sri vaishnavism, I request the great scholars here to correct
me with quotations from sastras (scriptures + teachings of sri vaishnava
acharyas).

In the Bhagavad Gita, the Lord clearly proclaims that one's guna determines
varna. It is not just based on one's birth.It is true that guna is
determined by lineage. But there are instances where people have overcomed
their gunas in the puranas and itihasas to modern times.  When a cow killer
gives up his occupation and becomes a 100% vegetarian, eating only prasada,
not taking intoxicants like coffee/tea, clean, not greedy, learned in
sastras, obeying the orders of a sri vaishnava guru, should he be asked to
go and kill cows or should he be allowed to become a brahmin and perform
vedic sacrifices for pleasing the Lord or should be forced to do cow killing
because he was born  to such parents and lived such a life for some time ?
If after death, we can get elevated, what is the problem in getting elevated
in this life etc. At death, we give up one body and accpet another.
Similarly in one's own life, we give up bodies and take new ones as we grow.
So we can change our gunas and consequently the varnas in one's own life.

Finally, even though we may be born in a brahmin family, by giving it up
most have gone to work like sudras or labourers. This way one loses his
qualification as a brahmin and becomes a dvija bandhu.  As people who have
given up our own svadharma, we should not claim to be brahmins and atleast
agree that we lose the right to decide who else is. Scholarship in vedas
alone does not make one a brahmin, even Ravana was a catur vedi. One should
have the qualifications to be a brahmin.

One may say that giving up svadharma is condemned by the Lord. Valmiki was
made to give up his lower occupation.

A vaishnava should not be distinguished on his external varnashrama
qualifications. What happens to alwars then ?


I hope I have presented my view without offense to anyone. Thank you for
your comments.

Hare Krishna!
Rajaram V.



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