Discussion on caste – followed up

–Varta continued–

For the sake of convenience, I have linked to The Beautiful Tree and my discussion with Kharaharapriya here.

I respond to his last post in the link:

This is very interesting to observe but traditionally, the influential amongst the four varnas seem to be in a constant tussle for power and prestige amongst themselves. We are already aware of the Brahmin-Kshatriya feud and even though we do not hear much of the Vyshyas (perhaps because they needed to be in everybody’s good books), we do hear of powerful Shudra kings as late as the last millennium. Why, we find that Shudras are most powerful in our present day. For an interesting take on the Shudras, read what Ambedkar had to say.

I agree that the system of royal patronage and with local society pitching in, there was more cause for harmony. You will notice in The Beautiful Tree, Shri Dharampal clearly shows how village ‘schools’ managed to thrive in their multitudes only with aide from the local society in which these were conducted. The British with their centralized revenue collection systems and their inculcation of formal education and the need for set infrastructure seem to have killed the olde’ system.

Let me share with you an interesting experience I had when I last visited Kodagu.

We had gone to visit Irupu falls. It was a beautiful sight. Since it was noon and the family was hungry, we decided to have lunch at the home of a local farmer. The farmer’s house was made of mud and thatch with hay stacks stacked high. He had set some tables and chairs on the veranda and fed us some of the most sumptuous vegetarian fare I have ever tasted. This farmer had been living there (at the foot of the hills that sheltered the falls) all his life. That was his ancestral abode. The farmer was a Brahmin.

So when I think of the injustice the caste-system engendered, I limit myself to untouchables. The fifth caste of out-castes have a different story to tell. These seem to have been castaway by society and their fate left to wither.

How something like this could have happened has a number of explanations. Foremost amongst them being that the untouchables were those of our people who were primarily dealing with the lowest and the filthiest of occupations to them being descendants of decadent Buddhists after that religion lost it’s influence.

Do you think you can throw more light on Shudra kings and Untouchables?

Kharaharapriya replies:

This is in response to the discussion that we were having on caste system.

I think I need more time to read Ambedkar’s thesis. I just read the preface. It will take a while I guess because currently I am reading a book on Yagnavalkya. But some observations based on the preface. But ambedkars tone seems to contain too much of vitriol against the Sanatana Dharma. Its understandable. But its news to me that there were Shudra kings. If this was true then there should have been too much of political clamor on this issue.

Moreover Ambedkar is usually portrayed as a stooge of the Britishers. How much weight should some one give to such thesis of ambedkar then?

I dont have much to add on untouchables, because I havent read a lot on them. But I have surely come across Annamacharya kritis which detest untouchablility. Its the brahmins who have upheld the Annamacharya tradition incidentally. Seems so hypocritical of brahmins @ times.

Regarding the Purusha Suktha I really dont think it portrays Shudras as menials and eulogises the Brahmins. All that it says is they have originated from different parts of the purusha. Bottom line is the Purusha tatva is present in all. May be Ambedkar read it wrong there.

BTW both my grandparents were farming for some part of their lives, even though we happen to be Brahmins. Your Coorg incident is not a surprise to me at all 🙂

and where can I read Dharmapala’s works?

I am also searching for works of Anand Kumaraswamy. SL Byrappa mentions about this person in his novel Dharmashri. His analysis on the Indian society is supposed to be exemplary. Have you heard of him?

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