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Adi Sankaracharya on Caste System by Birth.

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Hi Friends,


My name is Saurav.....I am from Bangalore city. I consider myself to be a follower of the Advaita vedanta philosophy but one thing which is really irritating me a lot is the Caste System phenomenon.


I used to read a lot of Adi Sankaracharya and I see in his commentary of the Smritis mainly the Brahmasmriti that manu smriti quotes saying that a Shudra should be poured molten metal in the ears to those who hear the vedas etc......


About Adi Sankaracharya it is not clear if he approved the Caste System by birth......Wikipedia says that Sankaracharya only asked those BORN as Brahmins to be his followers......


Now I would like to make a few points clear. I did study Hinduism and also Buddhism and Jainism and their histories.


Few points are very clear:


1. There did exist as today in the majority of history of Hinduism the period of Brahmanism where Brahmins abused and subjugated the lower caste and atrocities did take place against them quite frequently .


2. Jainism and Buddhism essentially were born to get rid the society of Caste System.


We do know that the Bhagavad Gita and Upanishads do mention that Caste System should be followed by MERIT and MERIT alone and no question of BIRTH comes into picture.


I wanted clarification with regards to these:


a. Did Adi Shankaracharya Approve the Caste System by birth ?



Any up-date on this would be helpful.



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ADI SANKARACHARYA had this cast diversity but later on lord shiva cleared his doubt by coming front of him as a begger sankara told the begger move away iam a bramin at that time begger (lord shiva) told who should move away its my body or me. then sankara bowed and he suddenly stucked with this question and suddnly realised what is the truth is chaithnyana in every human is one and the same only the dress he wears is different ie the body.

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Probably you are refering:




Section 3: Apasudradhikaranam: Topic 9 (Sutras 34-38)


The right of the Sudras to the study of Vedas discussed in Shankara Bhasya.

A Sudra by birth cannot have Upanayana and other Samskaras without which the Vedas cannot be studied. Hence the Sudras are not entitled to the study of the Vedas. The Sudras can attain the knowledge through the Puranas, Gita and the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata which contain the quintessence of the Vedas. It is a settled point that the Sudras do not possess any such qualification with regard to the Veda.




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Now it is very difficult to say why Sankara wrote like this. We cannot say Sankara is wrong because he was a great enlightened being and respected by many. What we can do, either (1) we can ignore the portion from Brahmasutra which is not relevant to us and to current age, Or (2) we can say "we don't agree with Sankara on that caste aspect, accept the rest related to non-dualism". That solves the problem. There are many saints who have taken disciples even in Vedic period without any caste discriminations. Now it is your choice to whom you want to follow and even to a person how much you want to follow. Out religion was never person dependent.

It is really unfortunate in Hinduism, the book which preaches highest philosophy of God and identity of God with Human being, same book points out that a section of Hindu does not fit for Vedic study. Now we need to change it and already great person like Swami Vivekananda allowed Vedic teaching and study among general mass. The things are changing. We should contribute our share also by studying and preaching Veda.

Everybody can read Veda. Veda declares that as (1) we are Brahman the pure entity, the embodied divine being, and (2) Vedic risis are our ancestors, our parent generation.. So Veda is our birth right for all human being. A single Sankara can't change the divinity. How can anybody become low or outcaste. There are all social disease.

I am quoting two Mantras from Veda which declares equality of all Human being in accessing Veda:

Yajurved 18.48:

rucham no dhehi brahmaneshu rucham rajsu

naskridhi | rucham vishyeshu shudreshu mai dhehi rucha rucham ||

This is a prayer for the intellect/brightness or teja among our Brahmins(Learned

people), among our rulers, Warriors (Kshatriyas), Traders/Vocational people

(Vaishyas) and other working class ( Shudras) and in me too.

Yajurved 26.2:

Yathemam vacham kalyanimavdani janebhyah|

Brahmrajanyabhyagvam shudraya charya ch svaya charnaya ch||

The way I gave this knowledge of Vedas for benefit of all humans, similarly you all also propagate the same for benefit of Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Shudras, Vaishyas, Women and even most downtrodden. The scholars and the wealthy people should ensure that they not deviate from this message of mine.

Hari Om!!



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