Friday, April 9, 2010

Enge Brahmanan ?

Enge Brahmanan ?

I am starting with this title fully aware of the fact that this is a title of a serial in Jaya TV which is popular among Brahmins. The first part of the serial ended with a message that Brahmins are no where to be found in this world. This was the only conclusions possible for such a question.. But for some obscure reason , the second part started. This does not even try to remotely answer the question asked. An attempt so far is being made to show that a Brahmachari who follows Vedic rituals is the only Brahmin. Taking in to account the fact that Grahasthas(house holders) are the back bone of the Brahmin society feeding both the Brahmacharis and the Sanyasins, this seems to be a wrong conclusion. In my own way I would like to answer this question.

1. There is a great Upanishad called Vajra Suchi Upanishad which tried to answer this question. The author concluded based on available evidence that a man does not become a Brahmin based on parentage. He quoted umpteen examples , of Brahmins in Puranas, whose mother was not a Brahmin (Veda Vyasa for example) , father was not a Brahmin and either parent was not Brahmins.(For e.g. Agasthya who was born out of a pot) . He concluded that a person becomes a Brahmin only by realization of Brahmam and by his seeking salvation.
2. Manu as well as Chanakya in their well known treatises, tell of several circumstances when a Brahmin becomes a non Brahmin.
3. I have the good fortune to translate the prescribed Aacharas of Brahmins ( ) . Here one can find a very detailed list of rituals and Aacharas which a Brahmin has to follow. These are extremely difficult to follow even if one devotes all his 24 hours and all the assets to this purpose. But most of us have to earn money to make both ends meet. This is definitely not banned in the Puranas and Vedas. We , in Puranic and Vedic times find Brahmins whose job was not studying Vedas. There were doctors, astrologers . Astronomers, mathematicians , warriors etc among them. Possibly these hobbies(?) were done after they learnt the Vedas by heart. It is interesting to note that learning Vedas by heart and teaching what you have learnt to others was the only thing expected out of a Brahmin. It was not compulsory for them to learn the meaning of Vedas. There were another group of special Brahmins called Sages who were supposed to do this and educate people as to what is written in Vedas. The greatest of them was Veda Vyasa, the Son of Parasra who was born to a Brahmin father and fisher woman mother. These sages were living universities. They were the people who taught economics, warfare , architecture etc to other people. I am sure we do have people who learn Vedas by heart even today as a means of making both ends meet. Most of them do not know anything of the meaning of all that they know by heart. Most of them (I am talking about our Acharyas) have good knowledge of rituals (performance which is their livelihood ) as prescribed in Gruhya Suthras . I have also seen many priests even do not know manthras for some rare Karmas . For example the priest who conducts Avani Avittam, every year , prefers to read the manthra from a book, rather than tell the manthras by heart.
4. All Brahmin grahasthas are supposed to maintain the fire they light on the day of marriage, till their death. In fact their funeral pyre is to be lighted out of this fire. I am not an expert but I feel that as on today, not even one Brahmin among the million Brahmins maintain this type of fire. Then they are supposed to do Agni hothram and worship at dawn, noon and dusk (Sandhya Vandanam). People who do not have father are supposed to do 96 tharpanas in a year,. These tharpanas are supposed to be done after performing Madhayhneeka which is to be performed at noon. At least I do not know any one among my acquaintances who do all these things.
5. There are several taints due to birth and death to be observed in our clan. With scattering of the clan, all over the world and the phenomenal increase in members of the clan, I am not sure whether we ever hear about the birth and deaths in our clan and later observe the taint period. After the purificatory bath of the taint, it is necessary to change the Yagnopaveetha and sprinkle Punyaham in our homes.
6. With family definition becoming as husband and wife and their children and added to the fact that both husband and wife have to be employed to have a fairly decent living, It is almost impossible for the lady of the house not to cook during five days in a month and follow the rules and regulations during the period.. I agree that the percentage who observe this is in the lower end of the two digit figures.
7. I am of the strong opinion that observing rituals is not the sine qua non of a Brahmin. There were many great sages in India who opposed this tooth and nail. According to me , a Brahmin should be a gentleman human being whose heart is full of mercy to all living beings in the world. Apart from this he should make serious attempts to become one with God by methods mentioned in several of the Upanishads. He should eat soft food without Masalas . He should never get angry . He should not have an ego and should not be proud. I am sure such Brahmins exist in this world even today.


dondu(#11168674346665545885) said...

Cho has touched all the points that you have mentioned here. The first part was completed at the same point as the book, that was written more than 30 years back.

But then the way the book was concluded was not satisfactory even at that time. After reflecting on these points all these years, I guess he has come out with the extension.

Here the endeavour of Vasishta represented by the hero was to try to live as a true Brahmin. Whatever success or failure he encounters will be reported to Lord Shiva at the end, I hope. Now he is in the trial phase.

Please my coverage of almost all the episodes in my blog, see:

Dondu N. Raghavan

வடுவூர் குமார் said...

oop! So nicely written yet no comments!!
Thanks for the detailed explanation.

Kerala Brahmin said...

Enge Brahmanan?
Some time back I too joined in search of the elusive Brahmin and concluded , what Thiruvalluvar did thousands of years ago:-

Brahmins are people of dharma, because ,
They lead a life of divine kindness towards all beings.

I was aghast at the serial giving much more importance to the life of a Brahmachari , because , according to what I know Grahastha(family man), is the cog of the great wheel of Dharma. Without him , the Brahmachari and Sanyasi could not exist. Suddenly the hero in the serial God married as instructed by God. His view points changed. He thought that not traveling in a car and not allowing his wife to buy costly Saris was sufficient for him to be identified as a Brahmin. He sided with a corrupt politician to get him elected so that the temple could be repaired. (does this mean that tainted money is OK for God?). Later after election when he confronts the corrupt politician , he flies in high rage.(Definitely not a symptom of a good Brahmin).Cho and his friend talk about lot of things. None of these unfortunately have anything to do with Brahmin or Brahmanism. The scenes involving the families of the two Brahmin priests is very sickening. It leads to the thinking that even the Gurus of Brahmins are not exempt from Gossip, jealousy and bitter words. Today the second part ended without achieving any thing. The so called Brahmin departed back to Kailasa? Possibly Cho would start a third part some time later.

choorie said...

sir, would you know if an english translation on the book engey brahmanan is available?

choorie said...

sir, is there an english translation of this book

Divya Balakrishnan said...

Wonderful article! I watched the serial on Java TV. I don't know about the book. I felt the serial did not answer the question Engey brahmanan.

Aravindhan Ranganathan said...

Good article sir. But I like to say a few words that were mentioned by Sri Chandrasekarendra Sarasvathi (Maha periyavaa). He strictly mentions the duties to be performed by a brahmin daily. This includes sandhyavandanam, auras am, the fire that you mentioned, vaishvadevam, learning and reciting Veeam, brahmayagyam, reading storage and Puran am. He strongly says that these casts are acquired by ones birth, though any one can try to realize the Brahman. He also continues saying that in previous yugas brahmin were allowed to Marty other caste females and this is prohibited in this yoga. He quoted Sri Adi Shankaras guru for this. He also mentions eight guns mentioned in smruthis which are required for every brahmin. This includes the practices you mentioned like eating soft foods etc. I hope this gives a clear view.

Rajagopal said...

A good description by an eminent humble person who absorbed the values of being a brahmin. A balanced article that attempts to answer the question. While I agree that a brahmin must be a gentleman, humble, not get angry etc, the same traits are expected of one and all irrespetive of caste or other considertions.