वर्णव्यवस्थेवर प्रखर आघात करणारे आद्य लेखन "वज्रसूची" हे मानले जाते व त्याचे कर्तुत्व अश्वघोष या विद्वान बौद्ध पंडित/महाकवीला दिले जाते. अश्वघोष हा इसवी सनाच्या पहिल्या शतकाच्या आसपास झाला अशी मान्यता आहे. संत तुकारामांनी आपली शिष्या बहिणाबाईकडुन वज्रसूचीचा पद्यमय अनुवादही करुन घेतला होता. पुढे महात्मा फुलेंचे निकटवर्ती तुकाराम तात्या पडवळ यांनी "जातिभेदविवेकसार" या जातीभेदावर हल्ला चढवणा-या पुस्तकात वज्रसुचीचा समावेश केलेला आहे. बहिणाबाईंचे वज्रसूचीतील अभंगही त्यांनी या पुस्तकात सामाविष्ट केल्यची माहिती डा. सदानंद मोरे देतात.
वज्रसूचीत नेमके काय आहे हे आपण पुढे पाहु. या सूचीचा कर्ता नेमका कोण, हिंदु कि बौद्ध असे काही प्रश्न निर्माण होतात त्याबद्दल येथे प्रथम चर्चा करायची आहे.
अश्वघोष हा वज्रसूचीचा कर्ता आहे ही माहिती फक्त "सूत्रालंकार" या असंग नामक पेशावर येथील बौद्ध विद्वानाने लिहिलेल्या ग्रंथात ७७ क्रमांकाच्या सुत्रात मिळते. परंतू तिबेटी, तंजावरी येथील साधनांत कोठेही अश्वघोषाच्या नांवावर ही कृती असल्याचे नमूद नाही. इ-त्सिंगनेही अश्वघोषाच्या लेखनात या कृतीचा समावेश केलेला नाही. सर्वात प्रथम ही कृती बौद्ध साहित्यात अवतरते ती त्रिपिटक-सूचीत. ही सूची सन ९७३ ते ९८१ च्या दरम्यान चीनी भाषेत अनुवादित झाली. पण या ग्रंथानुसार वज्रसूचीचा लेखक अश्वघोष नसून धर्मकिर्ती आहे असे दिसते.
दुसरीकडे १०८ उपनिषदांच्या सूचीत (मुक्तिका उपनिषद) "वज्रसूचिका उपनिषद" या नांवाने वज्रसूची अवतरते. हे उपनिषद सामवेदाशी संबंधित आहे असेही नमूद आहे. या उपनिषदाचा कर्ता अज्ञात असला तरी त्याचे कर्तुत्व आदि शंकराचार्यांचे असल्याचे व हे शैव उपनिषद असल्याचे काही उल्लेख मिळतात. .
मग आता प्रश्न हा पडतो कि या कृतीचा निर्माता कोण? हिंदू कि बौद्ध?
वज्रसूचीची थोडक्यात वैशिष्ट्ये:
१. वज्रसूचीची शैली ही टिपिकल उपनिषदी आहे.
२. वज्रसूचीत बौद्ध तत्वज्ञानाचा कोठेही मागमूस नाही.
३. वज्रसूचीने आपले मत सिद्ध करण्यासाठी वेद, मनूस्मृती, पुराणे व महाभारताचा आधार घेतला आहे.
४. शिव व पार्वतीचा स्पष्ट उल्लेखही अश्वघोषाच्या नांवावर असलेल्या आवृत्तीत मिळतो व तिचा अनुवाद बी. एच. होब्सन यांनी केला असून तो रोयल एशियाटिक सोसायटीने १८३५ साली प्रसिद्ध केला आहे.
५. उपनिषदांतर्गत वज्रसुचिका उपनिषद म्हणुन जी आवृत्ती प्रसिद्ध आहे तिचा गाभा व अश्वघोषाच्या नांवावर आढळना-या आव्रुत्तीचा ढांचा समसमान आहे. कही ठिकाणी उदाहरणे विस्त्रुत आहेत तर कोठे कमी. परंतु अर्थबदल होत नाही.
६. आत्मा, मोक्ष, जीव, ब्रह्म, इ. या बौद्ध तत्वज्ञानात नसलेल्या संज्ञा अश्वघोषाच्या म्हणुन प्रसिद्ध वज्रसूचीत येतात.
७. श्रेष्ठ ब्राह्मण कोण हे सांगणे हा वज्रसूचीचा अंतिम उद्देश आहे. हा बौद्ध उद्देश असू शकत नाही.
वज्रसूचीचे वैशिष्ट्य असे कि हा एकमात्र ग्रंथ आहे जो वर्णव्यवस्थेचा फोलपणा सांगत सर्व मानव एकच आहेत असे प्रतिपादित करतो. (मी हिंदू व्हर्शन आणि बौद्ध व्हर्शन लेखाच्या शेवटी वाचकांना तुलनेसाठी पुरवले आहे.) हिंदु व बौद्ध धर्मियांतील तत्कालीन संघर्ष पाहता वर्नव्यवस्थेचीच चिरफाड करनारे बौद्ध लेखन उपनिषद म्हणुन हिंदुंनी स्वीकारणे शक्य दिसत नाही. होब्सनच्या मते वज्रसूचीवर (अश्वघोषाची म्हणवली जाणारी) शैव तत्वज्ञानाचा प्रभाव आहे. जेवढीही ऋषि-मुनींची उदाहरणे दिली आहेत त्यात एकही बौद्ध परंप्रेतील नाही हेही उल्लेखनीय आहे.
बौद्ध तत्वज्ञ चातुर्वर्ण्याचा पाया उखडायचा प्रयत्न करण्यासाठी एकदाही चातुर्वर्ण्य विरोधक बौद्ध तत्वज्ञानाचा वापर करत नाही हेही एक आश्चर्य आहे. उलट खरे ब्राह्मणत्व कशात आहे याचाच उद्घोष वज्रसूचीत पहायला मिळतो. एवढेच नव्हे तर अश्वघोषाची म्हणुन जी वज्रसूची आहे त्यात शेवटचा परिच्छेद हा युधिष्ठिराला उद्देशुन आहे...पहा... Oh, YUDHISTHIRA! If a Sudra be superior to the allurements of the five senses, to give him charity is a virtue that will be rewarded in heaven. Heed not his caste; but only mark his qualities. Whoever in this life ever does well, and is ever ready to benefit others, spending his days and nights in good acts, such an one is a Brahman; and whoever, relinquishing worldly ways, employs himself solely in the acquisition of Moksha, such an one also is a Brahman; and whoever refrains from destruction of life, and from worldly affections, and evil acts, and is free from passion and backbiting, such an one also is a Brahman; and whoso possesses Kshema, and Daya, and Dama, and Dán, and Satya, and Souchana, and Smritti, and Ghrina, and Vidya, and Vijnan, &c. is a Brahman. Oh, YUDHISTHIRA! if a person perform the Brahmacharya for one night, the merit of it is greater than that of a thousand sacrifices (yajna). And whoso has read all the Vedas, and performed p. 169 all the Tirthas, and observed all the commands and prohibitions of the Sastra, such an one is a Brahman! and whoso has never injured a sentient thing by act, word or thought, such a person shall instantly be absorbed (at his death) in BRAHMA. Such were the words of BAISHAM PAYANA. Oh, my friend, my design in the above discourse is, that all ignorant Brahmans and others should acquire wisdom by studying it, and take to the right way. Let them, if they approve it, heed it; and if they approve it not, let them neglect its admonitions. (अनुवाद- होब्सन)
या विषयावर संशोधन करायला पुष्कळ वाव आहे. माझ्या मते वज्रसूची हे वर्णव्यवस्था विरोधक शैव उपनिषद असून पुढे बौद्ध अनुयायांनी ते वज्रघोषाच्या अथवा धर्मकिर्तीच्या नांवावर घेत आपल्या धर्मप्रचारासाठी वापरले असावे. असा प्रकार फक्त वज्रसूचीच्याच बाबतीत झालेला दिसून येतो...वज्रसूचीतील वर्णव्यवस्थेविरुद्धची मते पुर्वी विखुरलेल्या स्वरुपात सर्वत्रच विखुरलेली होती जी कोणीतरी अनाम (शंकराचार्यही असू शकतील.) वज्रसुचिका उपनिषदाच्या रुपाने संग्रहित केली असावीत. वज्रसूचीचा बौद्ध धर्माशी संबंध दिसत नाही हे मात्र स्पष्ट आहे.
मी खाली प्रथम वज्रसूचिका उपनिषदाचा विशाल आगरवाल यांने केलेला संक्षिप्त अनुवाद देत आहे. तदनंतर रोयल एशियाटिक सोसायटीने प्रसिद्ध केलेला अश्वघोषाची म्हणुन जी वज्रसूची आहे तिचाही बी. एच. होब्सनकृत अनूवाद देत आहे. जिज्ञासुंनी अवश्य वाचावे, विचार करावा, तुलना करावी व तदनुसार व्यापक चर्चा करावी.
Translation and Notes
"I expound the 'Vajrasuchi' which is a doctrine that dispels ignorance,
Brings disrepute to those who are devoid of (spiritual) knowledge
And is an ornament to those who see with the eye of (spiritual) knowledge". || 1 ||
Exegetical notes: The opening lines indicate that the esoteric doctrine of this text is potent and precious and should be granted only to the select few who are spiritually inclined. If this doctrine is debased by bestowal to an unworthy, the recipient comes to harm and is not able to derive any benefit from it.
The Central Question
"Brahmin (priests), Kshatriya (soldiers and kings), Vaishya (merchants and agriculturists) and Shudras (artisans and farmers)- these are the four castes.
Amongst these castes, Brahmins indeed are the supreme (pradhana)- this accords with the statements of the Vedas and is stated by the Smritis also.
In this regard, the following enquiry is made:
Who indeed has the designation 'Brahmin'? Is he the individual soul (jiva)? Is he the body? Is it the class based on birth or one’s lineage (that is responsible for Brahminhood)? Is it the (spiritual) knowledge (that is responsible for Brahminhood)? Is it the ritualistic karma or fruits thereof (that is responsible for Brahminhood)? Is he the performer of meritorious acts (dharmika)?" || 2 ||
Exegetical notes: The text is clear.
Is Jiva the Brahmin?
"Of these options, if the first i.e. 'the designation Brahmin applies to the Jiva' is considered, then no (i.e., this cannot be true) because the nature (rupa) of the Jiva remains the same in the bodies it assumed in previous lives and also in the future bodies.
Impelled by the fruit of its actions, the Jiva attains numerous bodies (in different births) and in all these bodies, the nature of the Jiva remains the same.
Therefore, the designation 'Brahmin' cannot apply to the Jiva." || 3 ||
Exegetical notes: The passage does not consider the possibility that the nature of the Jiva itself changes from one life to another because it is a fundamental dogma of the Vedic philosophies that the Jiva or the individual soul is immutable and changeless. In fact, it is the non-Vedic philosophies that often hold the opposite teaching about the Jiva.
Is Body the Brahmin?
"Then, if it is said that the body has the designation 'Brahmin', then no (i.e., this cannot be true),
Because the bodies of all human beings down to the chandalas (=outcastes) have the same nature since they are composed of the same 5 elements;
Because features like death, birth, vice and virtue are seen in all bodies;
Because of the absence of the rule that Brahmins are white, Kshatriyas are red, Vaishyas are yellow and Shudras are black.
Because upon cremating the corpses of their fathers/elders and others , one would get tainted with the sin of Brahminicide.
Because of these reasons, the body cannot bear the designation 'Brahmin'." || 4 ||
Exegetical notes: Murder of a Brahmin is considered one of the greatest sins in Hindu scriptures. The author therefore argues that if it is the body that is the Brahmin, then cremation of that 'Brahmin' body upon the death of the person will be akin to the sin of killing a Brahmin.
Familial Lineage and Caste:
"Then, if is said that the class by birth (or familial lineage or genus) bears the designation 'Brahmin', then no (i.e., this cannot be true), because there are several non-human species from whom numerous great Sages emerged.
We hear from the sacred texts that
- Sage Rsyasrnga was born of a deer,
- Sage Kausika of the Kusa grass,
- Sage Jambuka from a jackal,
- Sage Valmiki from white termite hill,
- Sage Vyasa from a fisher woman,
- Sage Gautama from the back of a hare,
- Sage Vasishtha from Urvashi- the celestial nymph
- Sage Agastya from a pitcher.
Amongst these, there have been many Sages who have been amongst the foremost of men that have demonstrated spiritual realization.
Therefore, it is not one's class by birth that can be taken as (the determinant of the designation) ‘Brahmin'." || 5 ||
Exegetical notes: The passage takes recourse to several unscientific, popular fables about the origin of Sages but its logic is not untenable. Many of Hinduism's greatest sages have had humble origins. See Appendix B.
Spiritual Knowledge and Brahminhood
"Then, if it be said that spiritual knowledge is (the cause of) Brahminhood, no (i.e., this cannot be true), because amongst Kshatriyas and others, there are many who have realized the Supreme Reality and have attained Wisdom. Therefore knowledge does not determine Brahminhood.” || 6 ||
Exegetical notes: An example of Kshatriyas who were spiritually realized sages are King Janaka of Videha. An example of a Vaishya who was a realized Sage is the Rigvedic seer Bhalandana. Likewise, Matanga, the son of a Vaishya father and a Shudra mother became a realized Sage. See Appendix B for more details.
Religious Rituals (Karma) and Brahminhood
"Then, if it is said that performance of karma or the fruits thereof (makes one) a Brahmin, no (i.e., this cannot be true), Because association with karma that has been commenced, karma done in the past and karma that will be done, is seen common to all creatures.
(Moreover) good men perform karmas, impelled by (the effects) their past karma.
Therefore, karma does not (make) one a Brahmin.” || 7 ||
Exegetical notes: The text means that the performance of karma or rituals in this life does not form the basis of Brahminhood. Why? Because man, or his soul, is associated or tainted not only with the karma performed in this very life, but also with the unseen karmas performed in previous lives. Moreover, who knows what and how many karmas one will perform in future lives. Since man’s net karma is the sum of all the past, present (and future), is it justified to assign him a caste merely on the basis of his present karma? No! Moreover, we see that all men are not inclined equally to the performance of karma. It is stated in the scriptures that inclination to perform good karma in this life itself is a fruit of good karma performed in previous lives. On the other hand, a man who performed good karmas might yet willingly shun them in this life, contrary to his nature. Therefore, when we assign a caste to someone on the basis of his current life’s karma, we are belittling the importance of his past and future karma wrongly. I have not translated ‘karma’ in this passage as ‘virtuous deeds’ and have adopted the rather restricted meaning of the word because the next passage encompasses the broader meanings of karma. Therefore, assuming the broader meaning of karma here itself would result in the fault of useless repetition by the text.
Meritorious Acts and Brahminhood
“Then, if it is said that (performance of) meritorious deeds (makes one) a Brahmin, no (i.e., this cannot be true), because there have been many Kshatriyas and others (Vaishyas and Shudras) who have (done meritorious deeds like having) gifted gold (to Brahmins, to religious institutions etc.).
Therefore, the performer of meritorious deeds is not (automatically) the Brahmin.” || 8 ||
Exegetical Notes: The passage clarifies that performance of acts of piety alone does not make one a Brahmin.
Who is a Brahmin?
“Who indeed then bears the designation Brahmin?
He (indeed) who, after having all his desires fulfilled as a result of perceiving (realizing) directly, as an amalaka fruit in one’s hand-- The Atman that is One without a second (or is beyond compare), (That is) bereft of (distinctions of) clan and (is not composed of) the constituents of Prakriti (guNa-hInaM), and actionless, (That is) free of all defects like the six infirmities (viz. old age, death, sorrow, delusion, hunger and thirst) and the six states of existence/transformations (viz. birth, existence, growth/development, transformation, waning and perishing), (That is) of the nature of Immutable Reality, of Consciousness, Blissful and Infinite/Eternal, (That is) an Independent Entity (not deriving its existence and properties from anything else), (That is) devoid of determinations, but (itself) the support of infinite determinations, (That is) present in all living and non-living beings as the immanent Soul, (Who) pervades the interior and envelopes the exterior of everything as ether, (That is) possesses the attribute of perfect and complete (akhanda) Bliss, (That is) incomparable, (That is) known only through one’s own (spiritual) experience (and not through reading of books or teaching by others) and is inferred only indirectly (because of It cannot be perceived by the senses);
Becomes free of the defects of desire, attachment and the like, becomes endowed with the (positive) qualities like tranquility etc., becomes free of (negative) behaviors like jealousy, greed, expectations, delusion etc., and leads a life in which the mind is not tainted pretensions, ego and the like.
He alone, who possesses the aforementioned characteristics, is a Brahmin- such is (indeed) the import of Sruti, Smriti, Itihasa and the Puranas.
There is no other way of attaining Brahminhood.
Meditate upon Brahman, the Atman, (That is) of the nature of Immutable Reality, of Consciousness, Blissful and One without a second (or is beyond compare! Meditate upon Brahman!
Such is this Upanishad (secret/exalted) doctrine!” || 9 ||
होब्सनकृत वज्रसूचीचा संपुर्ण अनुवाद:
I, ASHU GOSHA, first invoking MANJA GHOSHA, the Guru of the world, with all my soul and all my strength, proceed to compose the book called Vajra Suchi, in accordance with the Shastras (Hindu or Brahmanical Sastras).
Allow then that your Vedas and Smrittis, and works involving both Dharma and Artha, are good and valid, and that discourses at variance with them are invalid, still what you say, that the Brahman is the highest of the four castes, cannot be proved from those books.
Tell me, first of all, what is Brahmanhood? Is it life, or parentage, or body, or wisdom, or the way (áchár), or acts, i.e. morality (Karam), or the Vedas?
If you say it is life (jiva), such an assertion cannot be reconciled with p. 162 the Vedas; for, it is written in the Vedas, that "the sun and the moon, INDRA, and other deities, were at first quadrupeds; and some other deities were first animals and afterwards became gods; even the vilest of the vile (Swapak) have become gods." From these words it is clear that Brahmanhood is not life (jiva), a position which is further proved from these words of the Mahabharata: "Seven hunters and ten deer, of the hill of Kalinjal, a goose of the lake Mansaravara, and a chakwa of Saradwipa, all these were born as Brahmans, in the Kurukshetra (near Dehli), and became very learned in the Vedas." It is also said by MANU, in his Dharma Sastra, "Whatever Brahman learned in the four Vedas, with their ang and upang, shall take charity from a Sudra, shall for twelve births be an ass, and for sixty births a hog, and seventy births a dog." From these words it is clear that Brahmanhood is not life; for, if it were, how could such things be?
If, again, you say that Brahmanhood depends on parentage or birth (jàti); that is, that to be a Brahman one must be born of Brahman parents,--this notion is at variance with the known passage of the Smritti, that ACHALA MUNI was born of an elephant, and CESA PINGALA of an owl, and AGASTYA MUNI from the Agasti flower, and COUSIKA MUNI from the Cusa grass, and CAPILA from a monkey, and GAUTAMI RISHI from a creeper that entwined a Saul tree, and DRONA ACHARYA from an earthen pot, and TAITTIRI RISHI from a partridge, and PARSWA RAMA from dust, and SRINGA RISHI from a deer, and VYASA MUNI from a fisherwoman, and KOSHIKA MUNI from a female Sudra, and VISWA MITRA from a Chandalni, and VASISHTHA MUNI from a strumpet. Not one of them had a Brahman mother, and yet all were notoriously called Brahmans; whence I infer, that the title is a distinction of popular origin, and cannot be traced to parentage from written authorities.
Should you again say, that whoever is born of a Brahman father or mother is a Brahman, then the child of a slave even may become a Brahman; a consequence to which I have no objection, but which will not consort with your notions, I fancy.
Do you say, that he who is sprang of Brahman parents is a Brahman? Still I object that, since you must mean pure and true Brahmans, in such case the breed of Brahmans must be at an end; since the fathers of the present race of Brahmans are not, any of them, free from the suspicion of having wives, who notoriously commit adultery with Sudras. Now, if the p. 163 real father be a Sudra, the son cannot be a Brahman, notwithstanding the Brahmanhood of his mother. From all which I infer, that Brahmanhood is not truly derivable from birth; and I draw fresh proofs of this from the Manava Dharma, which affirms that the Brahman who eats flesh loses instantly his rank; and also, that by selling wax, or salt, or milk, he becomes a Sudra in three days; and further, that even such a Brahman as can fly like a bird, directly ceases to be a Brahman by meddling with the flesh-pots.
From all this is it not clear that Brahmanhood is not the same with birth: since, if that were the case, it could not be lost by any acts however degrading. Knew you ever of a flying horse that by alighting on earth was turned into a pig?--'Tis impossible.
Say you that body (Sarìr) is the Brahman? this too is false; for, if body be the Brahman, then fire, when the Brahman's corpse is consumed by it, will be the murderer of a Brahman; and such also will be every one of the Brahman's relatives who consigned his body to the flames. Nor less will this other absurdity follow, that every one born of a Brahman, though his mother were a Kshatriya or Vaisya, would be a Brahman--being bone of the bone, and flesh of the flesh of his father: a monstrosity, you will allow, that was never heard of. Again, are not performing sacrifice, and causing others to perform it, reading and causing to read, receiving and giving charity, and other holy acts, sprung from the body of the Brahman?
Is then the virtue of all these destroyed by the destruction of the body of a Brahman? Surely not, according to your own principles; and, if not, then Brahmanhood cannot consist in body.
Say you that wisdom* constitutes the Brahman? This too is incorrect. Why? Because, if it were true, many Sudras must have become Brahmans from the great wisdom they acquired. I myself know many Sudras who are masters of the four Vedas, and of philology, and of the Mimansa, and Sanc' hya, and Vaisheshika and Jyotishika philosophies; yet not one of them is or ever was called a Brahman. It is clearly proved then, that Brahmanhood consists not in wisdom or learning. Then do you affirm that the Achár is Brahmanhood? This too is false; for if it were true, many Sudras would become Brahmans; since many Nats and Bháts, and Kaivertas, p. 164 and Bhánds, and others, are everywhere to be seen performing the severest and most laborious acts of piety. Yet not one of these, who are all so pre-eminent in their Achár, is ever called a Brahman: from which it is clear that Achár does not constitute the Brahman.
Say you that Karam makes the Brahman? I answer, no; for the argument used above applies here with even greater force, altogether annihilating the notion that acts constitute the Brahman. Do you declare that by reading the Vedas a man becomes a Brahman? This is palpably false; for it is notorious that the Rakshasa RAVAN was deeply versed in all the four Vedas; and that, indeed, all the Rakshasas studied the Vedas in RAVAN'S time: yet you do not say that one of them thereby became a Brahman. It is therefore proved that no one becomes a Brahman by reading the Vedas.
What then is this creature called a Brahman? If neither reading the Vedas, nor Sanskar, nor parentage, nor race (Kula), nor acts (Karam), confers Brahmanhood, what does or can? To my mind Brahmanhood is merely an immaculate quality, like the snowy whiteness of the Kundh flower. That which removes sin is Brahmanhood. It consists of Uráta, and Tapas, and Neyama, and Ripavas, and Dan, and Dáma, and Sháma, and Sanyama. It is written in the Vedas that the gods hold that man to be a Brahman who is free from intemperance and egotism; and from Sanga, and Parigraha, and Praga, and Dwesha. Moreover, it is written in all the Sastras that the signs of a Brahman are these, truth, penance, the command of the organs of sense, and mercy; as those of a Chándala are the vices opposed to those virtues. Another mark of the Brahman is a scrupulous abstinence from sexual commerce, whether he be born a god, or a man, or a beast. Yet further, SUKRA ACHARYA has said, that the gods take no heed of caste, but deem him to be the Brahman who is a good man although he belong to the vilest. From all which I infer, that birth, and life, and body, and wisdom, and observance of religious rites (achár), and acts (karam), are all of no avail towards becoming a Brahman.
Then again, that opinion of your sect, that pravrajaya is prohibited to the Sudra; and that for him service and obedience paid to Brahmans are instead of pravrajaya,--because, forsooth, in speaking of the four castes, the Sudra is mentioned last, and is therefore the vilest,--is absurd; for, if it were correct, INDRA would be made out to be the lowest and meanest of beings, INDRA being mentioned in the Parni Sutra after the dog, thus-- p. 165 "Shua, Yua Maghwa." In truth, the order in which they are mentioned or written, cannot affect the relative rank and dignity of the beings spoken of.
What! is PARVATI greater than MAHESA? or are the teeth superior in dignity to the lips, because we find the latter postponed to the former, for the mere sake of euphony, in some grammar sentence? Are the teeth older than the lips; or does your creed teach you to postpone SIVA to his spouse? No; nor any more is it true that the Sudra is vile, and the Brahman high and mighty, because we are used to repeat the Chatur Varána in a particular order. And if this proposition be untenable, your deduction from it, viz. that the vile Sudra must be content to regard his service and obedience to Brahmans as his only pravrajaya, falls likewise to the ground.
Know further, that is is written in the Dharma Sastra of MENU, that the Brahman who has drank the milk of a Sudarni, or has been even breathed upon by a Sudarni, or has been born of such a female, is not restored to his rank by prayáschitta. In the same work it is further asserted, that if any Brahman eat and drink from the hands of a Sudarni, he becomes in life a Sudra, and after death a dog. MANU further says, that a Brahman who associates with female Sudras, or keeps a Sudra concubine, shall be rejected by gods and ancestors, and after death shall go to hell. From all these assertions of the Manáva Dharma, it is clear that Brahmanhood is nothing indefeasibly attached to any race or breed, but is merely a quality of good men. Further, it is written in the Sastra of MANU, that many Sudras became Brahmans by force of their piety; for example, KATHINU MUNI, who was born of the sacrificial flame produced by the friction of wood, became a Brahman by dint of Tapas; and VASISHTHA MUNI, born of the courtezan URVASI; and VYASA MUNI, born of a female of the fisherman's caste; and RISHIYA SRINGA MUNI, born of a doe; and VISHVA MITRA, born a Chandalni; and NARED MUNI, born of a female spirit-seller; all these became Brahmans by virtue of their Tapas. Is it not clear then that Brahmanhood depends not on birth? It is also notorious that he who has conquered himself is a Yati; that he who performs penance is a Tapasya; and that he who observes the Brahma charya is a Brahman. It is clear then that he whose life is pure, and his temper cheerful, is the true Brahman; and that lineage (Kula) has nothing to do with the matter. There are these slokas in the Manava Dharma, "Goodness of disposition p. 166 and purity are the best of all things; lineage is not alone deserving of respect. If the race be royal and virtue be wanting to it, it is contemptible and useless." KATHINA MUNI and VYASA MUNI, and other sages, though born of Sudras, are famous among men as Brahmans; and many persons born in the lowest ranks have attained heaven by the practice of uniform good conduct (sila). To say therefore that the Brahman is of one particular race is idle and false.
Your doctrine, that the Brahman was produced from the mouth, the Kshatriya from the arms, the Vaisya from the thighs, and the Sudra from the feet, cannot be supported. Brahmans are not of one particular race. Many persons have lived who belonged to the Kaivarta Kul, and the Rajaka Kul, and the Chándal Kul, and yet, while they existed in this world, performed the Chura Karan, and Mung-bandan, and Dant-kashtha, and other acts appropriated to Brahmans, and after their deaths became, and still are, famous under the Brahmans.
All that I have said about Brahmans you must know is equally applicable to Kshatriyas; and that the doctrine of the four castes is altogether false. All men are of one caste.
Wonderful! You affirm that all men proceeded from one, i.e. Brahma; how then can there be a fourfold insuperable diversity among them? If I have four sons by one wife, the four sons, having one father and mother, must be all essentiaily alike. Know too that distinctions of race among beings are broadly marked by differences of conformation and organization: thus, the foot of the elephant is very different from that of the horse; that of the tiger unlike that of the deer; and so of the rest: and by that single diagnosis we learn that those animals belong to very different races. But I never heard that the foot of a Kshatriya was different from that of a Brahman, or that of a Sudra. All men are formed alike, and are clearly of one race. Further, the generative organs, the colour, the figure, the ordure, the urine, the odour, and utterance, of the ox, the buffalo, the horse, the elephant, the ass, the monkey, the goat, the sheep, &c. furnish clear diagnostics whereby to separate these various races of animals: but in all those respects the Brahman resembles the Kshatriya, and is therefore of the same race or species with him. I have instanced among quadrupeds the diversities which separate diverse genera. I now proceed to give some more instances from among birds. Thus, the goose, the dove, the parrot, the peacock, &c. are known to be different by their diversities of figure, p. 167 and colour, and plumage, and beak: but the Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya and Sudra are alike without and within. How then can we say they are essentially distinct? Again, among trees the Báta, and Bakula, and Palás, and Ashoka, and Tamal, and Nagkeswar, and Shirik, and Champa, and others, are clearly contradistinguished by their stems, and leaves, and flowers, and fruits, and barks, and timber, and seeds, and juices, and odours; but Brahmans, and Kshatriyas, and the rest, are alike in flesh, and skin, and blood, and bones, and figure, and excrements, and mode of birth. It is surely then clear that they are of one species or race.
Again, tell me, is a Brahman's sense of pleasure and pain different from that of a Kshatriya? Does not the one sustain life in the same way, and find death from the same causes as the other? Do they differ in intellectual faculties, in their actions, or the objects of those actions; in the manner of their birth, or in their subjection to fear and hope? Not a whit. It is therefore clear that they are essentially the same. In the Udambára and Panosa trees the fruit is produced from the branches, the stem, the joints, and the roots. Is one fruit therefore different from another, so that we may call that produced from the top of the stem the Brahman fruit, and that from the roots the Sudra fruit? Surely not. Nor can men be of four distinct races, because they sprang from four different parts of one body. You say that the Brahman was produced from the mouth; whence was the Brahmani produced? From the mouth likewise? Grant it--and then you must marry the brother to the sister! a pretty business indeed! If such incest is to have place in this world of ours, all distinctions of right and wrong must be obliterated.
This consequence, flowing inevitably from your doctrine that the Brahman proceeded from the mouth, proves the falsity of that doctrine. The distinctions between Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras, are founded merely on the observance of divers rites, and the practice of different professions; as is clearly proved by the conversation of BAISHAM PAYANA RISHI with YUDHISTHIRA RAJA, which was as follows: One day the son of PANDU, named YUDHISTHIRA, who was the wise man of his age, joining his hands reverentially, asked BAISHAM PAYANA, Whom do you call a Brahman; and what are the signs of Brahmanhood? BAISHAM answered, The first sign of a Brahman is, that he possesses long-suffering and the rest of the virtues, and never is guilty of violence and wrong doing; that he p. 168 never eats flesh; and never hurts a sentient thing. The second sign is, that he never takes that which belongs to another without the owner's consent, even though he find it in the road. The third sign, that he masters all worldly affections and desires, and is absolutely indifferent to earthly considerations. The fourth, that whether he is born a man, or a god, or a beast, he never yields to sexual desires. The fifth, that he possesses the following five pure qualities, truth, mercy, command of the senses, universal benevolence, and penance.* Whoever possesses these five signs of Brahmanhood I acknowledge to be a Brahman; and, if he possess them not, he is a Sudra. Brahmanhood depends not on race (Kuli), or birth (Jat), nor on the performance of certain ceremonies. If a Bhandál is virtuous, and possesses the signs above noted, he is a Brahman. Oh! YUDHISTHIRA, formerly in this world of ours there was but one caste. The division into four castes originated with diversity of rites and of avocations. All men were born of woman in like manner. All are subject to the same physical necessities, and have the same organs and senses. But he whose conduct is uniformly good is a Brahman; and if it be otherwise he is a Sudra; aye, lower than a Sudra. The Sudra who, on the other hand, possesses these virtues is a Brahman.
Oh, YUDHISTHIRA! If a Sudra be superior to the allurements of the five senses, to give him charity is a virtue that will be rewarded in heaven. Heed not his caste; but only mark his qualities. Whoever in this life ever does well, and is ever ready to benefit others, spending his days and nights in good acts, such an one is a Brahman; and whoever, relinquishing worldly ways, employs himself solely in the acquisition of Moksha, such an one also is a Brahman; and whoever refrains from destruction of life, and from worldly affections, and evil acts, and is free from passion and backbiting, such an one also is a Brahman; and whoso possesses Kshema, and Daya, and Dama, and Dán, and Satya, and Souchana, and Smritti, and Ghrina, and Vidya, and Vijnan, &c. is a Brahman. Oh, YUDHISTHIRA! if a person perform the Brahmacharya for one night, the merit of it is greater than that of a thousand sacrifices (yajna). And whoso has read all the Vedas, and performed p. 169 all the Tirthas, and observed all the commands and prohibitions of the Sastra, such an one is a Brahman! and whoso has never injured a sentient thing by act, word or thought, such a person shall instantly be absorbed (at his death) in BRAHMA. Such were the words of BAISHAM PAYANA. Oh, my friend, my design in the above discourse is, that all ignorant Brahmans and others should acquire wisdom by studying it, and take to the right way. Let them, if they approve it, heed it; and if they approve it not, let them neglect its admonitions.