A Cure for the Corruption in India, By Stephen Knapp

            Martin Luther King once said that he had a dream of when men would be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. But I say it is up to the individual to put some content in his character. Otherwise a man will be judged by whatever traits are perceived by others. And corruption in the activities of a person is a sign of a lack of proper content. And if there are numerous individuals, especially in high places, involved in crime and corruption, so goes the character and reputation of the country.

            Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the state or government provides the means and education for its citizens to develop the right content in their character. This is the importance of character development with nation building.

            Throughout my travels in India, while lecturing at so many cities and venues, it is not unusual for businessmen, industrialists, or even professors to ask me what I think should be done about all the corruption in India, which exists on every level. We all hear about the corruption in politics, and what intrigue goes on amongst the politicians, but it goes on in so many small enterprises, too. Like paying the bribes to get a phone line in your house. Innocent people have to bribe bureaucrats, police and even judicial officials to get anything done. Or how, as one friend told me, he took a test for his driving license three times, and they never even looked at the test but denied him each time, until he realized he had to pay a bribe for it. After he paid the clerk an extra Rs. 2000, he then took the test a fourth time and they still never looked at it, but this time he got his license.

            Another example of corruption that a friend told me about was when he was riding on a train and met a government inspector who told him the story of how the military men were getting sick from all kinds of digestive problems. They narrowed down the cause to the cooking oil that was being used in preparing the food served to the men in the military. They identified a possible source for the oil, and the inspector went to the company that was producing the oil and discovered that the owner of the company was adding all kinds of polluted oil to the regular oil he was making, which is what was causing the men to get sick. The inspector told the owner of what had been found, and the owner asked how much the inspector wanted in order for him to write a positive report for the military. So the company owner paid a large bribe to the inspector who took the money and gave a good report about the company and the oil it was producing. So the military went on purchasing this contaminated oil that is probably still making the military men sick at several bases.

            One more example is that some years ago the Japanese had offered to help with cleaning the Yamuna River, which is so contaminated around the Delhi area that it cannot support any life. It is a dead river there. So, the Japanese offered $20,000,000 to build a cleaning plant to help clean the water before it continued on its way. By the time all the bribes had been taken out, all that was left was $1,000,000. So, you can still see the small cleaning plant that had been built in the Vrindavana area, but a far bigger plant should have and could have been built to actually help the country and the people that depend on the water of the Yamuna River.

No doubt, much of what is wrong with India in this sense can be found everywhere. It is not only India. And I have often said that if you could see the corruption that goes on behind closed doors amongst politicians in America, you would be shocked. Or maybe not, depending on how aware you have been of what really goes on. But things have to change.

            The British also helped jump start this corruption by two things: First the bureaucracy they established in their managerial system which they used against the Indians, most of which was adopted by the Indians in the form of a Parliamentary government and which allows for the loopholes and cracks in the system for the continuation of so much corruption. Secondly, while under the British, the citizens of India were forced to struggle so hard to exist that it forced them to think in terms of the survival of their own immediate family while giving up the consideration of the whole community. After so many years of that conditioning, this need for self-preservation and the desire to fulfill selfish concerns went from one generation to the next until it became a general trend to get whatever you need regardless of the consequences or how it affects others.

            The Indian constitution itself, under the guise of freedom and fairness for the minority religions, fuels corruption and inequality by favoring the few at the expense of the majority Vedic or Hindu population. How can this inspire a united vision?

Furthermore, dishonesty and fraud in India has reached even the Supreme Court Chief Justices and several High Court Justices, which have been involved in prominent levels of corruption. We also have seen the reports about those presently in power (March, 2011) who are looting millions of rupees from India, and depositing it into secret accounts abroad. And they only pave the way for more of their own kind to be elected in order to make things easier for themselves.

We all know that a politician or person of influence is not to amass wealth dishonestly, and then indulge in extravagance or ostentatious living. Nor is he or she meant to give favors to their relatives, or their supporters or business associates by conferring special privileges or kickbacks to them. This is nothing but the misuse of the power and position of the office, a misappropriation of public funds, and the abuse of power, as well as the root cause of the rampant corruption that has become so noticeable throughout India. 

We have also seen the wealthy spend millions of dollars on nothing more than a marriage ceremony for their children, just for the sake of mainly creating a spectacle to be noted in the press, or to outdo some other wealthy person’s wedding. This kind of thing is but a huge black spot of selfishness on the character of the persons who make such arrangements when certainly the ceremony could have been limited in its expense, and the money that was saved could have been used for something far more practical or beneficial. That would have been worth noting in the media. In fact, people should make an example of spending less on their momentary weddings and then giving more money to a worthy cause. 

            So, obviously, the kind of corruption we are pointing out goes on because of a lack of morals in the content of one’s character. This is what has to change. India is obviously progressing economically and technologically, but this corruption really slows down the amount and speed of the progress that, otherwise, could be made for the benefit of everyone in the country at a much faster pace. Therefore, it hinders the well-being of everyone, and many countries outside of India hesitate to put full confidence in their business dealings with India when this corruption is so obvious.

Today, as Shahroz Raza said in his article “Corruption Bigger Factor Than Secularism” (Pioneer, January 8, 2011), India’s economy is “growing” at over 9%, yet every second child in India is malnourished. Less than one-fourth of the rural population has access to proper toilets. Eighty percent of India’s population lives on $2 a day or less. And what is most shameful is that only four of every 10 girls who enroll for schooling complete eight years of formal education. So, as anyone should question, is that real progress? Is that real growth?    

Let’s put this into perspective. Corruption has secular implications. The money looted by the rulers of India becomes food that is snatched away from the mouth of the newborn and the hungry; or the death that is caused for want of care in a ramshackle hospital; or the unemployment for an adult. This should be avoided by proper adjustments by India’s leaders. But the problem is that politics has simply become a business, which means they use the position and perks that come with it to look out for themselves and family and friends, and collect large amounts of property and money in whatever way necessary at the expense of the masses.

            As long as this corruption is allowed to continue, which lends to the reason why certain sections of society remain poor and hungry, then India, and the world, actually is not truly civilized. Swami Vivekananda has also explained, “So long as millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold educated man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them.”

A civilized society does not mean merely technological advancement or economic progress. It means that society has a unified civil code and unified vision of everyone having the right to the same basic facilities as everyone else, meaning food, shelter, clothing, and the means to an education so they can maintain themselves, however simple or sophisticated that may be. In other words, a starving sector of society means that society is uncivilized due to the wealthier section of society hoarding or profiting from the loss of others. 

            This goes back to the point that there is no real lack of anything in this world in regard to resources needed to survive. The only real lack is God-consciousness and the higher vision to see that spiritually we are all the same and that we are only barrowing things from the Supreme during the short duration of the life we are given. Thus, the world’s resources need to be distributed in a way so everyone benefits, and that it is not monopolized by greedy people in prominent positions.

            Even Mahatma Gandhi once said that the deadliest form of violence is poverty. It is poverty, whether it is planned, arranged, or merely allowed, that kills more people than all the wars that take place. In fact, all the money used for military spending could otherwise be used for solving many of the world’s problems. It is poverty which also causes much of the behavioral violence and criminality that affects us all. The problem is that as poverty expands, it becomes more difficult for the people who are affected by it to do anything about it.

            If corruption increases, the general well-being of everyone will decline, and the poor are the ones to feel it first, and feel it the most. But from there, it trickles up and affects everyone. As the people suffer, with poor people becoming poorer, farmers committing suicide, businessmen wasting or ruining the environment, we see the money launderers, smugglers, the land mafia, and others continue to plunder and loot money. Experts warn that if the existing state of severe corruption continues the way it is, then it will lead to greater national and international instability, economic failure, increased poverty, and environmental collapse. In other words, this is simply not sustainable. Things must change soon or all that will bring things back to some semblance of sanity is a people’s revolution to demand the removal of all corrupt politicians, judges, military personnel, bankers, etc.

However, the citizens of India cannot be apathetic and remain blind or tolerant to this, if they ever expect to put an end to it. And, fortunately, they are starting to realize that if anything is going to change, it is up to them to do something about it because the corrupt elitists will only do whatever it takes, and in whatever way they know, to perpetuate their kind and their ways, which has not been to the good of the people or the planet. Not all, but many of these politicians and wealthy elitists, criminals actually, are really but demons in human form, living a pampered life at the expense of the many, and driving the uplifting spiritual culture of India into extinction. They care little for anyone but themselves and have no feelings of compassion or the propensity to uphold justice towards the people they are cheating. In that way, they are like insensitive reptiles while portraying themselves to be good and qualified public leaders.

            Those in poverty in India often face a life and death struggle, where they have to make such decisions as whether to buy either medicine or food because there is not enough money for both. And even now those in poverty cannot afford certain foods, like dals, pulses, various fruits, and other foods that can provide necessary protein. The cost is too high for them. And, thus, malnutrition begins to affect an increasingly larger section of the population. So what does that say about the future potential of India? 

The latest government statistics on food inflation in India says it went up by 18.3% in the Christmas week of 2010. Even a common Indian knows the relationship between corruption and food inflation. And presently the Agriculture Minister and his cohorts are making plenty of money through their speculation in food prices, bidding on them while knowing prices are going up, or even working with those who manipulate the fundamentals to make sure the prices go up. Plus, they are allowing essential commodities to be hoarded and exported while the vast majority of India’s children are going hungry every night. This is nothing but a repeat of the same crimes that the British did to the Indian population in the late 1800s, when they exported so much food back to Britain, or used it for their own military while the people in India starved. Because of this profit-making tactic of the thoughtless British, it is estimated that between one-third and one-half of the entire population of India at the time—at least 10 to 15 million people—died from the famine. If there was ever a crime against India and its people, this was one. And now, to whatever degree, it is being repeated by the elitist Indians against their own people.

            At present, India has many multi-generational politicians who have become a caste unto themselves, making rules, or ignoring existing laws, in whatever way they choose in order to fill their own coffers at the expense of everyone else’s well-being. These politicians and similar people suffer from a value disorder, which is the addiction to the rush or thrill of acquiring more power, more money, more property. They are addicted to it and cannot control their mind or senses. If this disease cannot be cured, then they should be put out of office and forced to serve prison time for their crimes against humanity.

            Such a disease can only be cured or purged in society by having the proper training, especially while young and still growing up, in order to add the appropriate character building traits necessary to know what is a decent and balanced human being and how to be one.

THE CURE FOR THE PERVASIVE CORRUPTION

             Naturally one of the first things people would say is that we have to vote out of office those culprits that cheat the people, and are engaged in so much corruption, and vote in those who really care, if we know who they are. But where do we find those politicians who will truly help society and lead properly?

Plus, we need to work with all others who have the same realization and vision for India’s future, and want to clean up the mess we are presently in. For this to happen, people need to be aware of what is really happening and who is responsible. They need to be educated in how the corruption takes place. Therefore, ongoing meetings should provide this information.

Then there is a need of transparency and accountability in all government activities. For this to happen, we need a total constitutional reform. It is time for the majority to unite, to value the cultural tradition of India, or at least what is left of it, and take appropriate legal action to restructure the political and judicial system and eradicate the incompetence and treachery that seems to pervade so much of India. 

However, let us remember that, although necessary, these are all short term solutions. But there also has to be a long term plan to cure these previously mentioned criminal tendencies in people and create a positive effect throughout society that would make a change that would last for generations.

As I said earlier, I am often asked when I am in India what to do about all of this corruption. I always answered that the best thing that I know of is to continue to teach the ethical and moralistic standards as found in Vedic Dharma. Fortunately for me, this was reaffirmed while I was in Bangalore with my visit with the eminent M. Rama Jois, the retired Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He told me that this was indeed the best way to relieve the country of all the corruption that we see, but he explained the best means to do that.

            M. Rama Jois told me that before the independence of India in 1947, there used to be government pre-schools where the children would go to learn, not necessarily how to read and write, but about the basic rules of Dharma. Then the children would also hear of the examples of Dharma from the great epics, like the Mahabharata and Ramayana or Puranas, and about those great heroes who acted in various situations under the rules of Dharma. This way, before the children ever went to general school to learn reading and writing, etc., they were already educated in the proper content of character to know how to act as a proper human being, and know how to judge what is right or wrong in the various situations of life.

            Unfortunately, it was after 1947 when the new administration of independent India decided that learning the ethics of Dharma was religious study, and that the new secular government could no longer support such pre-schools. Thus, all such education of basic moralistic principles under Dharma were no longer to be taught in the schools of India. And since that time, the materialistic selfishness, greed, and the insensitivity to the situation of others for the benefit of oneself, have all increased to the point where now it is almost all-pervasive. 

            As M. Rama Jois explains in his book Dharma: The Global Ethic, “All our present day problems are a direct result of disregarding Dharma, under the influence of a materialistic philosophy, in the belief that it alone can usher in happiness and secure the welfare of the people. Now it is becoming clear that human problems increase as we go on multiplying our lust and desire for material wealth and pleasure, and that the solution to all the problems, whether they be social, economic or political, and in particular the crash of our moral edifice which the world and our nation are facing, is Dharma alone. There is no alternative to Dharma. This is the eternal truth. This can be realized if we understand the real meaning of Dharma.”

            So, what is Dharma? I have already written more extensively about this, but to put it simply, the Mahabharata (Shanti Parva, 109.9-11) says: “Dharma has been explained to be that which helps the upliftment of living beings. Therefore, that which ensures the welfare of living beings is surely Dharma. The learned rishis have declared that which sustains is Dharma.”

            A little more clarity can also be provided by Madhavacharya, a Minister to Hakka and Bukka, founders of the Vijayanagar Empire, in his commentary on the Parashara Smriti: “Dharma is that which sustains and ensures progress and welfare of all in this world and eternal bliss in the next world. Dharma is promulgated in the form of commands (rules both positive and negative, Vidhi and Nishedha).”

           The Mahabharata (Shanti Parva, 90.3) also says that “The proper function of the king [or any ruler or politician] is to rule according to Dharma and not to enjoy the luxuries of life.” Thus, a politician is not meant to take advantage of his position, but to execute his duties with the welfare of the people in mind, under the guidance of the rules of Dharma.

            This means that Dharma is not the teaching of a religion, but it is the global ethical standard that we all need to learn. It is the very content that forms good character, proper intentions, the means for making fair and just decisions, and good and effective plans for our future.

            The basic rules of Dharma, as explained in the Manu-samhita (10.63) are:  “Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (not acquiring illegitimate wealth), Shoucham (purity), and Indriyanigraha (control of the senses) are, in brief, the common rules of Dharma for all classes of men.”

            These are the Yamas and Niyamas, which also includes Santosha–satisfaction or contentment of mind with what one has without undue endeavor; Tapas–voluntary austerity and tolerance in body, mind, and speech for a higher cause; Swadhyaya–self-analysis, introspection, scriptural research, and reflection to understand and perceive who and what is our real identity and how we are progressing; Ishwara-pranidhana–acceptance, devotion, and surrender to God, or the offering of the fruits of one’s actions to God; and Brahmacharya–following the eternal principle of Brahma, or the control of sensual passions in thought, word, and deed, particularly in the student stage of life.

            Therefore, by learning these rules, how to apply them in all aspects of life, and by hearing the examples of the great souls in India’s history and great epics, a child would develop and build his character to be a truly strong, balanced and properly motivated individual who can continue to develop him or herself, and be a true contribution to the rest of society. When this kind of training is received at a young age, it can last for one’s whole life. This is what makes a difference in all aspects of society.

            Training in Dharma, which is certainly at the heart of India’s Vedic tradition, can help provide for an orderly society. And an orderly society is the result and an expansion or even incarnation of Dharma.

            This leads us to understand that the real happiness and prosperity of any nation is directly proportional to the number of men of character it has produced. This is why it is in the interest of the state or government to supply the means by which all children can understand these principles through appropriate education.

            Being trained in and understanding the principles of Dharma do not mean this is promoting a particular religion. It can still be considered secular training, and not going against the Indian constitution. The Yamas and Niyamas, or the codes of Dharma, are basic moralistic principles. Religion means a mode of worship of God by believers of a particular faith, and calling God by a certain name, or using a particular book and set of rituals. Religion actually divides or separates by its distinguishing characteristics between them, while Dharma unites by its unified code of conduct and seeing everyone equally. Dharma can be applied to all human beings. Thus, it sustains and harmonizes society, it does not create conflict. After all, regardless of whatever our theological beliefs may be, we can all agree on the need for kindness and honesty, self-control, compassion and respect for one another, and the need for fellowship in society to maintain harmony and cooperation, and the ways to establish these things. And the Yamas and Niyamas are merely codes of conduct to follow that will help everyone develop this content to their character.

            Even in places like America, it has been reported that over 60% of hapless Indian parents in metropolitan U.S. cities are aghast and powerless to the decadent metamorphosis of cultural changes in their children. This is especially noticeable in teenagers and the increase in behavior abnormalities, such as rudeness, rowdiness, disobedience, disparaging elders, and vulgarity and profanity in the language. There is also the deviance from traditional norms, a rise in selfishness, and little reciprocation for favors shown to them.

            However, such traits are also increasing in India. We are finding a rise in rebelliousness, lack of respect, an increase in the use of drugs and alcohol with both boys and girls, both of whom also show a higher tendency for premarital sex, which has given rise to abortions and later divorces. The traditional Dharmic culture of India is becoming lost, and the balance and harmony that once accompanied it is also becoming a thing of the past.

            Presently, humans are acting inhumanly, even using what should be blessings in the form of modern scientific knowledge and technological advancement against each other. Why? Because human beings have not been educated in the simple moralistic knowledge that provides the reasons and ways to exercise control over the mind, speech, and bodily activities, and not to inflict injury on others because of selfish motives. The point is that this is the most fundamental education that is meant to be imparted to all individuals right from their childhood. It is this education by which human beings develop the capacity and the reasons for controlling the mind, speech and actions. It is through this understanding that a person can realize that even though one might satisfy their greed or desire by indulging in illegal or immoral acts, and may secure a momentary enjoyment or thrill, but he will also cause deep trouble for himself and lose mental peace and real happiness.

            Therefore, it is this education that again needs to be offered and supplied to young students in India. This can be done by the government re-establishing the pre-schools, as previously mentioned, to teach the principles of Dharma. Or, as I have seen on my 2010 trip to India, through a grassroots effort of individuals, or husband and wife teams who give such classes on Dharma to the children of their neighbors or friends on weekends, such as Sunday mornings, they begin to influence each child who attends. This is very effective and will have long range results. Thus, everyone can do something. But people should team up and work together to make this possible and duplicate these methods that are successfully used in order to expand this process all across the country. They should also work with those honest and reputable politicians to help again establish such pre-schools throughout the nation so that gradually India can again return to being a country where corruption is not so pervasive. Then the character of the country will reflect the content of the character of the people who inhabit it.

Of course, there will be those cynics, those critics who will say that this is all too idealistic. But what other true options are there? It is either this, or let the country continue to become more hellish with each successive generation that has less and less knowledge or respect for Dharma and its universal code of ethics.  

            Therefore, the solution is through the education of the principles of Dharma that one adds to the content of one’s character, by which the person knows how to live a useful, purposeful and honest life which can give him real happiness and enable him to devote his time, energy and talents to the service of other human beings in a productive manner, and prevent him from exploiting others for selfish interests. Thus, the more such individuals populate the country, the more the whole nation will also uplift itself with a positive future.

Advertisements

Prophet Mohammed: Is He Really Predicted in the Vedas

 The Bhavishya Purana has a reference regarding someone named Mahamada, which some people are very eager to make the claim that it means Prophet Mohammed, thus saying that the Prophet is predicted in the Vedic literature. But before we come to that conclusion, with additional research, let us take a closer look to see what the full reference to Mahamada really says.

It is explained in the Bhavishya Purana (Parva 3, Khand 3, Adhya 3, verses 5-6) that “An illiterate mleccha [foreigner] teacher will appear, Mahamada is his name, and he will give religion to his fifth-class companions.” This does not describe much in regard to his life, but it does mention someone by the name of Mahamada, and what he was expected to do, which was to give his own form of religion to the lower classes of his region. Some people suggest this person to be Prophet Mohammed, and are, thus, most willing to accept that Prophet Mohammed was predicted in the Bhavishya Purana. Some Muslims then suggest that if he was predicted in this way by a Vedic text, then Hindus should all accept Mohammed and become Muslims. However, on the other hand, it would seem odd that Muslims would accept a Vedic text to try to convince Hindus to become Muslims. But if we look at the full translation of this story, they may not want to jump to the conclusion that this story represents Prophet Mohammed.
So here is the Roman transliteration of the Sanskrit in the Bhavishya Purana, however accurate it may be (Prati Sarga: Part III, 3.3.5-27).
mahamadh ithi khayat, shishya-sakha-samniviyath 5
……. mahadev marusthal nivasinam.
mahadevthe snanya-pya punch-gavua samnivithya
tripurarsur-nashav bahu-maya pravathiney 7
malech-dharma shav shudhaya sat-chit-anandaya swarupye,
thva ma hei kinkare vidhii sharanaghatham 8
suta uvacha: ithi shurthiya sthav deva shabadh-mah nupaya tam,
gath-vaya bhojraj-ney mahakhaleshwar-sthale 9
malech-shu dhushita bhumi-vahika nam-vishritha
arya dharma hi nav-vathra vahike desh-darunya 10
vamu-vatra maha-mayi yo-sav dagdho myaa pura
tripuro bali-daithyane proshith punaragath 11
ayoni sa varo math prasava daithyo-vrudhan
mahamadh ithi khayath , paishacha-kruthi thathpar 12
nagathvaya thvya bhup paisachae desh-vartake
math prasadhayane bhupal tav shudhii prajayathe 13

thi shruthva nupshav svadesha-napu maragmath
mahamadh toi sdhav sindhu-thir mupaye-yav 14
uchav bhupati premane mahamadh-virshad
tva deva maharaja das-tva magath 15
mamo-chit sabhu jiya-dhatha tatpashya bho nup
ithi shruthya ththa hata para vismaya-magath16

malechdhano mathi-shasi-tatsaya bhupasaya darutho17
tucha tva kalidas-sthu rusha praah mahamadham
maya-thei nirmithi dhutharya nush-mohan-hethvei 18
hanishyami-duravara vahik purusha-dhamum
ityak va sa jidh shrimanava-raja-tathpar 19
japthya dush-sah-trayach tah-sahansh juhav sa
bhasm mutva sa mayavi malech-dev-tva-magath 20
maybhithashtu tachya-shyaa desh vahii-kamayuuah
guhitva svaguro-bhasm madaheen tva-magatham 21
swapiit tav bhu-ghyot-thro-shrumadh-tathpara
madaheen puro jath thosha trith sayam smurthaum 22

rathri sa dev-roop-shav bahu-maya-virshad
paisacha deha-marathaya bhojraj hi so trivith 23
arya-dharmo hei to raja-sarvoutham smurth
ishapraya karinayami paishacha dharma darunbhu 24
linga-chedri shikhaheen shamshu dhaari sa dhushak
yukhalapi sarva bhakshi bhavishyat jano maum 25
vina kaul cha pashav-thosha bhakshava matha maum
muslanav sanskar kushariv bhavishyat 26
tasman-musal-vanto hi jathiyo dharma dhushika
ithi pishacha-dharma mya kruth 27

 

To set the scene, in this section of the Bhavishya Purana, Shri Suta Gosvami first explained that previously, in the dynasty of King Shalivahana, there were ten kings who went to the heavenly planets after ruling for over 500 years. [This gives these kings roughly 50 years of rule for each one.] Then gradually the morality declined on the planet. At that time, Bhojaraja was the tenth of the kings on the earth [who would have ruled about 450 years after King Shalivahana]. When he saw that the moral law of conduct was declining, he went to conquer all the directions of his country with ten-thousand soldiers commanded by Kalidasa. He crossed the river Sindhu [modern Indus River] going northward and conquered over the gandharas [the area of Afghanistan], mlecchas [present-day region of Turkey], shakas, Kashmiris [Kashmir and present-day Pakistan], naravas, and sathas. Crossing the Sindhu, he conquered the mlecchas in Gandhar and the shaths in Kashmir. King Bhoj grabbed their treasure and then punished them.
Then, as verses 7-8 relate, the Aryan King Bhojaraja, who had already left India for the lands across the Sindhu River and to the west, meets Mahamada [some say this is Mohammed], the preceptor of the mleccha-dharma [religion of the mlecchas], who had arrived with his followers. Thereafter, however, the King went to worship the image of Lord Mahadev, the great god Shiva, situated in the marusthal, desert. King Bhoj bathed the image of Shiva with Ganges water and worshiped him in his mind with panchagavya (the five purificatory elements from the cow, consisting of milk, ghee, yogurt, cow dung, and cow urine), along with sandalwood paste, etc., and offered him, the image of Shiva, sincere prayers and devotion. King Bhoj prayed to Lord Mahadev, “O Girijanath who stays in the marusthal (land of deserts), I offer my prayers to you. You have forced maya [the illusory energy] to destroy Tripurasur [the demon Tripura]; but the mlecchas are now worshiping you. You are pure and sat-chit-anand swaroop [eternal knowledge and bliss]. I am your sevak [servant]. I have come under your protection.”

Verses 10-27 relates next that Suta Goswami explained: After hearing the king’s prayers and being pleased with him, Lord Shiva said: “Let the King go to Mahakaleshwar (Ujjain) in the land of Vahika, which is now contaminated by mlecchas. O King, the land where you are standing, that is popular by the name of Bahik, has been polluted by the mlecchas. In that terrible country there no longer exists Dharma. There was a mystic demon named Tripura (Tripurasura), whom I have already burnt to ashes once before, he has come again by the order of Bali. He has no origin but he achieved a benediction from me. His name is Mahamada and his deeds are like that of a ghost. Therefore, O king, you should not go to this land of the evil ghost. By my mercy your intelligence will be purified.” [This would seem to indicate that this Mahamada was an incarnation of the demon Tripura.] So hearing this, the king came back to his country and Mahamada came with them, but only to the bank of the river Sindhu. He was expert in expanding illusion, so he said to the king very pleasingly, “O great king, your god has become my servant. Just see, as he eats my remnants, so I will show you.”

The king became surprised when he saw this happening before them. Then in anger Kalidasa, the king’s commander, rebuked Mahamada, “O rascal, you have created an illusion to bewilder the king, I will kill you, you are the lowest…” Then the king left that area.

Later, in the form of a ghostly presence, the expert illusionist Mahamada appeared at night in front of King Bhojaraja and said: “O King, your religion is of course known as the best religion among all. Still, by the order of the Lord, I am going to establish a terrible and demoniac religion and enforce a strong creed over the meat-eaters [mlecchas]. My followers will be known by their cut [circumcised] genitals, they will have no shikha [tuft of hair on their head, like Brahmanas], but will have a beard, make noise loudly, and eat all kinds of animals except swine without observing any rituals. They will perform purificatory acts with the musala, and thus be called musalman, and not purify their things with kusha grass [one of the Vedic customs]. Thus, I will be the originator of this adharmic [opposed to Vedic or Aryan Dharma] and demoniac religion of the meat-eating nations.” After having heard all this, the Bhavishya Purana goes on to relate that King Bhojaraja returned to his land and palace, and that ghost of the man also went back to his own place.

It is lastly described how the intelligent king, Bhojaraja, established the language of Sanskrit amongst the three varnas — the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas — and for the Shudras he established prakrita-bhasha, the ordinary language spoken by common men. After ruling his kingdom for another 50 years, he went to the heavenly planets. The moral laws established by him were honored even by the demigods. The arya-varta, the pious land is situated between Vindhyachala and Himachala, or the mountains known as Vindhya and Himalaya. The Aryans reside there, but the varna-sankaras reside on the lower part of Vindhya. The musalman people were kept on the other [northwestern] side of the river Sindhu.

* * *

Thus, from the interpretations of the present editions of the Bhavishya Purana that are available, it seems to say there was someone named Mahamada that King Bhojaraja met in the desert, who was supposedly a reappearance of the Tripura demon, who would start his own religion for those mlecchas who are unable to follow the spiritual codes of the deeper aspects of spiritual culture, or Vedic Dharma, and who would also spread adharma, or that religion that would be opposed to Vedic Dharma. Plus, Mahamada knew and accepted the depth of the Vedic spiritual path and admitted to its superiority. But is Mahamada really Prophet Mohammed?

Let me assure everyone that this section is not a commentary on Prophet Mohammed or Islam, and is only an explanation of what is said in the Bhavishya Purana. But since some people accept this to be a prediction, we need to take a closer look at it.

So, the first few lines of this translation does seem to hold a possibility of referring to the Prophet. But after that, it could be questionable whether a person would really want to accept this story to be about Prophet Mohammed or not.

Historically, however, we know that Prophet Mohammed was born between 570-580 CE, became interested in religion at age 40, preached in Mecca for 10 years, and then went to Medina in 621 CE at age 51 when he finally established a following. He started engaging in armed conflict in 624 CE, gained possession of Mecca in 630, and died in 632 CE at age 62. So, he would have had to have met King Bhojaraja only after he had a following, between the years of 621 and 632. That is an extremely narrow eleven-year window of time. However, herein it also says that Mahamada went with King Bhojaraja to the Sindhu River, but there is never any historical record that Prophet Mohammed personally went to that area, which establishes another doubt of whether this could have been the Prophet.

Furthermore, even though it is described how King Bhojaraja conquered over the gandharas [the area of Afghanistan], mlecchas [present-day region of Turkey], shakas, Kashmiris [Kashmir and present-day Pakistan], naravas, and sathas, it never mentions that he went into the area of central Saudi Arabia where he would have had to go in order to meet the Prophet at the particular time when the Prophet had a following.

Plus, if King Bhojaraja was the tenth king after Shalivahana, who was supposed to have existed about the time of Jesus Christ, according to the evidence provided in the previous section, that would mean that this king lived about 450 to 500 CE. This is too early to allow for a possibility to have met the Prophet. However, there are a few King Bhojaraja’s that are recorded in history. The one in the Bhavishya Purana is noted as intelligent, and who “established the language of Sanskrit amongst the three varnas — the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas — and for the Shudras he established prakrita-bhasha, the ordinary language spoken by common men.” The King Bhojaraja who was known for being a Sanskrit scholar is credited with being the author of two books, the Saraswatikanthabharana, and the Shringaraprakasha. Of these, the first is a compendious volume in five chapters, dealing with the merits and defects of poetry, figures of speech, language, etc. However, this scholar King Bhojaraja is said to have lived from 1018 to 1054 CE. This is way too late to have enabled him to personally have met the Prophet.

Therefore, at least with the present information that is available, we are left to conclude that, though King Bhojaraja may have indeed met a person named Mahamada, the meeting between the king and Prophet Mohammed as an accurate historical event is extremely unlikely. Thus, in this description from the Bhavishya Purana, Mahamada is not the Prophet. Beyond this point of view, is this a later interpolation? Who can say? Or is this is a prophecy in an allegorical form? That would be left to one’s own opinions or sentiments.

*  *  *

Was Prophet Muhammad in the Vedas?

Starting With the Rig-Veda

In this article we will take a look at some of the verses in the Vedas that some people, such as Dr. Zakir Naik, say that Mohammed is mentioned or foretold in them. This is a summary based on the research by Dr Radhasyam Brahmachari and others, and shows that these verses in fact do not speak of Prophet Mohammed, but are used in a way that is based on mistranslations to justify that idea.

First of all, the Rig-Veda is globally recognized and accepted as the oldest book created by man and hence if it could be shown that there is mentioning of Prophet Mohammed in that text, it will be immensely helpful to paint the Arabian Prophet as a divine personality. Not only that, it will be helpful to deceive the Hindus and convert them to Islam. So, it does not become difficult to understand what has inspired Dr Zakir Naik and others to discover the mentioning of Mohammed in the Rig-Veda and in other Vedic texts. But as his investigation culminated into a failure, he had no other way but to apply stupid arguments to befool the kafirs and infidels but to twist the meanings and translations into something different, all the while acting most scholarly and convincing.

First of all, we should see what the Rig-Veda actually says about Prophet Muhammad. It should also be mentioned at the outset that two Sanskrit words śaṃsata and narāśaṃsa play the central role in these arguments of such people as Zakir Naik. According to him, the word śaṃsata stands for an individual who praises. In Arabic, such an individual is called Ahammad, the other name of Prophet Muhammad. Therefore, wherever he could find the word śaṃsata, he took it as the mentioning of their Prophet.

According to him, the second word narāśaṃsa means an individual who is to be praised or who is praiseworthy. The Arabic word Muhammad means a man who is praiseworthy. So, wherever he could have found the word narāśaṃsa in any Sanskrit texts, he took it to be a mentioning of Muhammad.

In fact, both the Sanskrit words śaṃsata and narāśaṃsa stand for a deity or God, who is praiseworthy. According to Sāyana, the most reputed commentator of the Vedas, the word narāśaṃsa means a deity or a respectable entity (not a man) that deserves to be praised by man.

However, we should have a closer look to see what Zakir Naik has to say. According to him, the verses (1/13/3), (1/18/9), (1/106/4), (1/142/3), (2/3/2), (5/5/2), (7/2/2), (10/64/3) and (10/182/2) of the Rig-Veda contain the word narāśaṃsa, and hence mention Muhammad, and the verse (8/1/1) of the Rig-Veda contains the word śaṃsata (Ahmmad), or the other name of Muhammad. So here he begins with another blatant lie and says that the word śaṃsata stands for a man who praises, the Arabic equivalent of Ahammad and hence mentions Muhammad. The said verse (8/1/1) of the Rig-Veda reads:

Mā cidanyadvi śaṃsata sakhāyo mā riṣṇyata l
Indramitstot ā vṛṣaṇaṃ sacā sute muhurukthā ca śaṃsata ll (8/1/1)

“Glorify naught besides, O friends; so shall no sorrow trouble you. Praise only mighty Indra when the juice is shed, and say your lauds repeatedly.” (Translation: R T H Griffith; The Hymns of the Ṛgveda, Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, Delhi; 1995, p-388). So the word śaṃsata (praiseworthy) in the above verse refers to deity Indra, and not a man who praises (Ahammad) as claimed by Dr Zakir Naik.

We shall now see what the verses containing the word narāśaṃsa say. In Rig-Veda, a verse is refered as (x/y/z), where x stands for Mandala, y stands for Sukta and z stands for the Verse or Ṛk. The verse (1/13/3) of Rig-Veda, as mentioned above, belongs to 13th Sukta of the 1st Mandala. It should also be noted here that every Sukta of the Rig-Veda is dedicated to a deity. The presiding deity of the 13th Sukta of the 1st Mandala is Agni (the God of Fire). The verse says:

Narāśaṃsamiha priyamasminajña upahvaye l
Madhujihvat haviṣkṛtam ll (1/13/3)

“Dear Narāśaṃsa, sweet of tongue, the giver of oblations, I invoke to this our sacrifice.” (tr: ibid, p-7)

As Agni is the deity of the entire 13th Sukta, there is no doubt that the word narāśaṃsa (praiseworthy to man) in the verse refers to Agni. One should also note that the word narāśaṃsa does not signify a man who is praiseworthy, as some people claim.

The verse (1/18/9) of the Rig-Veda says:
Narāśaṃsaṃ sudhṛṣṭamamapaśyam saprathastam l
Divo na sadmakhasam ll (1/18/9)

“I have seen Narāśaṃsa, him most resolute, most widely famed, as ‘twere the Household Priest of heaven.” (tr: ibid, p-11)

The 18th Sukta, to which the verse belongs, is dedicated to Brahmaṇaspati, the Priest of heaven and hence the word narāśaṃsa (praiseworthy to man) in this verse refers to Brahmaṇaspati, the Priest of heaven.

The verse (1/106/4) of the Rig-Veda says:
Narāśaṃsaṃ vajinṃ vajayinniha kṣayadvīraṃ pūṣaṇaṃ summairī mahe l
Rathaṃ na durgādvasava sudānavo viśvasmānno ahaṃso niṣpipartana ll (1/106/4)

“To mighty Narāśaṃsa, strengthening his might, to Pūṣaṇa, ruler over men, we pray with hymns. Even as a chariot from a difficult ravine, bountiful Vasus, rescue us from all distress.” (tr: ibid, p-69)

The 106th Sukta of 1st Mandala, to which the verse belongs, is dedicated to the Viśvadevas, and hence the word narāśaṃsa (praiseworthy to man) in this verse refers to the Viśvadevas, again not to Mohammed.

The verse (1/142/3) of the Rig-Veda says:
śuci pāvako adbhuto madhvā yajñaṃ mimikṣati l
narāśaṃsasthrirā divo devo deveṣu yajñiyaḥ ll (1/142/3)

“He wondrous, sanctifying, bright, sprinkles the sacrifice with mead, thrice, Narāśaṃsa from the heavens, a God amid Gods adorable.” (tr: ibid, p-98)

The 142nd Sukta, to which the verse belongs, is dedicated to the deity Āprī, and hence the word narāśaṃsa in this verse refers to Āprī. Most of the scholars agree that Āprī is the other name of Agni and hence the word narāśaṃsa in this verse refers to Agni, the god of fire.

The verse (2/3/2) of the Rig-Veda says:
Narāśaṃsaḥ prati dhāmānyañjan tisro div prati mahṇā svarciḥ l
Ghṛtapruṣā manasā havyamundanmūrdhanyajñasya sanamaktu devān ll (2/3/2)

“May Narāśaṃsa lighting up the chambers, bright in his majesty through threefold heaven, steeping the gift with oil diffusing purpose, bedew the Gods at chiefest time of worship.” (tr: ibid, p- 132)

Like the earlier one, 142nd Sukta of 1st Mandal, this present 3rd Sukta of 2nd Mandala, is dedicated to the deity Āprī or Agni and hence the word narāśaṃsa in this verse refers to Agni the Fire God.

The Verse (5/5/2) of Rig-Veda says:
Narāśaṃsaḥ suṣūdatīmṃ yajñamadābhyaḥ l
Kavirhi madhūhastāḥ ll (5/5/2)

“He, Narāśaṃsa, ne’er beguiled, inspireth this sacrifice; for sage is he, with sweets in hand.” (tr: ibid, p- 240)

This 5th Sukta of 5th Mandala is also dedicated to Āprī or Agni and hence the word narāśaṃsa in this verse refers to Agni the Fire God.

The verse (7/2/2) of Rig-Veda says:
Narāśaṃsasya mahimānameṣamupa stoṣāma yajatasya yajñaiḥ l
Ye sukratavaḥ śucayo dhiyandhāḥ svadanti devā ubhayāni havyā ll (7/2/2)

“With sacrifice to these we men will honor the majesty of holy Narāśaṃsa – to these the pure, most wise, the thought-inspires, Gods who enjoy both sorts of our oblations.” (tr: ibid, p- 334)

Again this 2nd Sukta of 7th Mandala is dedicated to Āprī or Agni, and hence the word narāśaṃsa in this verse refers to Agni the Fire God.

The verse (10/64/3) of the Rig-Veda says:
Narā vā śaṃsaṃ pūṣṇamagohyamagni deveddhamabhyarcase girā l
Sūryāmāsā candramasā yamaṃ divi tritaṃ vātamuṣasamaktumaśvinā ll (10/64/3)

“To Narāśaṃsa and Pūṣaṇ I sing forth, unconcealable Agni kindled by the Gods. To Sun and Moon, two Moons, to Yama in the heaven, to Trita, Vāta, Dawn, Night and Aśvins Twain.” (tr: ibid, p- 578)

This 64th Sukta of 10th Mandala is dedicated to the Viśvadevas, and the word narāśaṃsa in this verse refers to the Viśvadevas.

The verse (10/182/2) of Rig-Veda says:
Narāśaṃso na avatu prayāje śaṃ no astvanuyajo habeṣu l
Kṣipadaśtimapa durmati hannathā karadyajamānāya śam ṣoḥ ll (10/182/2).

“May Narāśaṃsa aid us at Prayāja; blest be out Anuyāja at invokings. May he repel the curse, and chase ill-feeling, and give the sacrificer peace and comfort.” (tr: ibid, p- 650)

The 182nd Sukta of 10th Mandala, to which the above verse belongs, is dedicated to Vṛhaspati, and hence the word narāśaṃsa refers to Vṛhaspati, the Priest of the Gods.

Another verse (1/53/9) of the Rig-Veda says,
Tvametāñjanarājño dvirdaśābandhunā suśravasopajagmaṣaḥ l
ṣaṣtiṃ sahasrā navatiṃ nava śruto ni cakreṇa rathyā duṣpadā vṛṇak ll (1/53/9)

“With all-outstripping chariot-wheel, O Indra, thou far-famed, hast overthrown the twice ten Kings of men, with sixty thousand nine-and-ninety followers, who came in arms to fight with friendless Suśravas.” (tr: ibid, p-36)

To narrate the incident, Sayana, the renowned commentator of the Rig-Veda, says that twenty kings with a force, 60,099 strong, attacked the King Suśrava (Prajapati) and Indra alone defeated them and frustrated their ambition (the Vayu-Purana also narrates the incident).

Most of the scholars agree that the Rig-Veda was composed more than 5000 years BCE, and hence the incident narrated in the verse (1/53/9) took place more than 7000 years ago. And Muhammad conquered Mecca in 630 AD. But Zakir Naik has proceeded to link the incident with Muhammad’s capturing Mecca, which any sane man, except a Muslim, would feel shy to undertake. To give his mischief a shape, he has, firstly replaced the word Suśrava with Suśrama and says that the word Suśrama stands for one who praises, and hence equivalent to Ahammad in Arabic, the other name of Muhammad. And he claims that the verse narrates Muhammad’s conquering Mecca, as the then population of the city was about 60,000 and Muhammad had invaded Mecca with 20 of his closest followers. It is not difficult for the reader to discover the absurdity of this claim and the deceit involved with making it.

The verse (8/6/10) of the Rig-Veda says,
Ahamiddhi pituṣpari medhamṛtasya jagrabha l
Ahaṃ sūrya ivājrani ll (8/6/10)

“I from my Father have received deep knowledge of the Holy Law: I was born like unto the Sun.” (Tr: ibid, p- 396).
In this verse the word ahamiddhi stands for “I have received.” But as the word spells like Ahammad, the other name of Muhammad, Zakir Naik claims that the verse mentions Muhammad, which shows how he is prone to error on account of his Islamic bias.

Thus we have studied all the verses of the Rig-Veda which, according to Naik, mention Muhammad. It has been said above that the Sanskrit word narāśaṃsa stands for a deity or God who is praiseworthy to man, but not a man who is praiseworthy to other men, which is what Naik claims. So, according to this kind of childish logic, whenever someone uses the word “praiseworthy,” it should be taken granted that he mentions Prophet Muhammad. But that is far from the truth.

However, the intellectual level of those who try to use these techniques of mistranslations are revealed when they try to do the same thing with the word narāśaṃsa in other Vedas, like Atharva-Veda and Yajur-Veda and is again projecting them to be mentioning Prophet Muhammad. Though it is sheer wastage of time to deal with the utterances of such insane people as this, we may discuss these matters more thoroughly in the future. In the meantime, many are those who are realizing the confusing and inaccurate conclusions such as these and are losing confidence in such people who depend on this kind of tactic, as they also become an embarrassment to the religion they represent.

Debunking the Atharva-Veda Connection
Atharva-Veda, HYMN CXXVII

A hymn in praise of the good Government of King Kaurama

1 Listen to this, ye men, a laud of glorious bounty shall be sung. Thousands sixty, and ninety we, O Kaurama, among the Rusamas have received.
2 Camels twice-ten that draw the car, with females by their side, he gave.
Fain would the chariot’s top bow down escaping from the stroke of heaven.
3 A hundred chains of gold, ten wreaths, upon thee Rishi he bestowed,
And thrice-a-hundred mettled steeds, ten-times-a-thousand cows he gave.
4 Glut thee, O Singer, glut thee like a bird on a ripe-fruited tree.
Thy lips and tongue move swiftly like the sharp blades of a pair of shears.
5 Quickly and willingly like kine forth come the singers and their hymns:
Their little maidens are at home, at home they wait upon the cows.
6 O Singer, bring thou forth the hymn that findeth cattle, findeth wealth. p. 364
Even as an archer aims his shaft address this prayer unto the Gods.
7 List to Pariksit’s eulogy, the sovran whom all people love,
The King who ruleth over all, excelling mortals as a God.
8 ‘Mounting his throne, Pariksit, best of all, hath given us peace and rest,’
Saith a Kauravya to his wife as he is ordering his house.
9 ‘Which shall I set before thee, curds, gruel of milk, or barley-brew?’
Thus the wife asks her husband in the realm which King Pariksit rules.
10 Up as it were to heavenly light springs the ripe corn above the cleft.
Happily thrive the people in the land where King Pariksit reigns.
11 Indra hath waked the bard and said, Rise, wander singing here and there.
Praise me, the strong: each pious man will give thee riches in return,
12 Here, cows! increase and multiply, here ye, O horses, here, O men.
Here, with a thousand rich rewards, doth Pūshan also seat him-self.
13 O Indra, let these cows be safe, their master free from injury.
Let not the hostile-hearted or the robber have control of them.
14 Oft and again we glorify the hero with our hymn of praise, with prayer, with our auspicious prayer.
Take pleasure in the songs we sing: let evil never fall on us.

This hymn is merely a praise of King Kaurama (probably of Rajasthani origin). Some people, like Zakir Naik, have tried to twist this to mean that the first 13 verses tell the story of Mohammed! “Kaurama” actually means “born of a noble family” and has nothing to do with referring to Mohammed. It is closely related with the term Kaurava. And “Kuntapa” merely means the internal organs in the belly and has no alternate meaning as “safe journey” or as such. Sanskrit words aren’t as multi-layered as Arab words. All the verses in the Atharva-Veda from 126-133 are considered Kuntapa, but only one mentions a desert.

The Sama-Veda Connection

Some people (and you can guess who) think that the Sama-Veda, Book II, Hymn 6, verse 8, refers to Mohammed.

The verse –

1. Indra whose jaws are strong hath drunk of worshipping Sudaksha’s draught,
The Soma juice with barley brew.
2. O Lord of ample wealth, these songs of praise have called aloud to thee,
Like milch-kine lowing to their calves!
3. Then straight they recognized the mystic name of the creative Steer,
There in the mansion of the Moon.
4. When Indra, strongest hero, brought the streams, the mighty waters down,
Pushan was standing by his side.
5. The Cow, the streaming mother of the liberal Maruts, pours her milk,
Harnessed to draw their chariots on.
6. Come, Lord of rapturous joys, to our libation with thy bay steeds, come
With bay steeds to the flowing juice
7. Presented strengthening gifts have sent Indra away at sacrifice,
With night, unto the cleansing bath.
8. I from my Father have received deep knowledge of eternal Law:
I was born like unto the Sun.
9. With Indra splendid feasts be ours, rich in all strengthening things, wherewith,
Wealthy in food, we may rejoice
10. Soma and Pushan, kind to him who travels to the Gods, provide
Dwellings all happy and secure.

So some people say that verse eight says “Ahmed acquired from his Lord the knowledge of eternal law. I received light from him just as from the sun.” Then they associate the word as Ahmed to be Mohammed. But let us understand the verse accurately.

In these verses, Indra is strengthened with Soma sacrifice and the Priests cry out for Indra’s arrival. The priests recognize the name of the creative Seer – the personification Soma, there in the mansion of the moon – which in Vedic symbolism, resembles a drop of Soma. Next, Indra’s legendary battle with Viritra the dragon who holds back the waters of the Earth is reflected and it is seen how Indra brings the streams towards Earth with Pushan by his side. The description of a cow pouring forth her milk is also given and is thought akin to Indra’s action. Then, the priests once again call to Indra as the lord of joy to give his strengthening gifts to Soma and Indra doing so, fades away. The Priests partake in the Soma and receive knowledge of the eternal law – the law that governs nature (no Law in the ‘Jurisdiction’ sense) and share a feeling of warmth as if they were born unto the Sun. Once again, the Soma is praised for its strengthening qualities. Soma the personification and Pushan thus travel to the Gods.

Soma is a non-intoxicant juice from a certain vine that is burnt in Vedic rituals and the leftover remnants are eaten. This is not done anymore because nobody knows what the Soma plant is (presumed extinct). The Soma plant is renown for its strengthening properties and is drunk before war. Indra is a deity especially fond of Soma.

So the conclusion for this verse from the Sama-Veda is that there is no place for any “Ahmed” in this verse either storywise or literarywise. Adding “Ahmed” here is saying the grammatically incorrect (the Veda is gramatically perfect) – “Ahmed have received.” And besides, it is akin to saying Mohammed himself did the ritual to Indra’s glory, and partook in the leftovers and knew the Sharia – which is once again akin to idolatry for Muslims. The phrase “I from my father” seems second most likely (it refers to the Priests receiving knowledge from “Soma” about the Eternal Law) but the most likely seems to be Aham + Atha. It would translate the sentence to – “I now have received the eternal law.”

*  *  *

We could go on like this, and other people have, and compare additional verses from the Vedas to show how by mistranslations, people have tried to place references to Prophet Mohammed in them, thus misleading the public into thinking that the Vedic literature was advocating and giving credence or even prophecies to the Prophet Mohammed, but no such honest references can be found therein. It is another trick, the type of which is becoming increasingly common in order to persuade people to drop out of the Dharmic spiritual path and to convert to something else.

Such trickery is only successful with those who are under-educated in the Vedic philosophy, and are used by those who still lack genuine spiritual depth that can itself attract people. When that is missing, then they have to resort to all kinds of deceit and trickery, or worse, such as types of violence and attacks, to show the superiority of their religion. This is a pathetic technique but seems to be the last resort of those religions who especially want to gain popularity without showing a truly deep and sacred and enlightening spiritual path that is meant solely for the upliftment of the individual and society in general, rather than control through dogma and peer pressure and status from a growing congregation.

 

Vedic Literature Says Caste by Birth is Unjust, By Stephen Knapp

 

            When it comes to the sensitive topic of Varnashrama, or what many people call the caste system of India, we have seen so many talks over this issue, both pro and con, back and forth, this way and that. We all know that the Vedic system of Varnashrama has been mentioned in the Vedic literature in many places, such as in the Purusha Sukta verses of the Rig-veda (Book Ten, Hymn 90). But there is no indication in these verses that say that birth is the essential quality for one’s varna. Yet, it seems that many people still don’t understand how the varna system was meant to be implemented, as can be seen in the modern form of the caste system of today. The problem is not because of Varnashrama, but because of this misunderstanding of what it really is that has caused so many of India’s social problems. This article contains many quotes from Vedic shastra to clarify what the Varnashrama or caste system is actually supposed to be.

            This article is for those more familiar with the topic, but for those who are not we can explain briefly that there are four basic social divisions, namely the Brahmanas (those who are priests, or interested in the study, teaching and practice of spiritual knowledge and intellectual pursuits), Kshatriyas (those who are soldiers, in the military, or police, politicians, managers, etc.), Vaishyas (merchants, businessmen, bankers, farmers, tradesmen, etc.), and Shudras (those who have little interest in the study of the Vedic literature or spiritual pursuits, and would rather engage in simple labor or employment, or technicians and other craftsmen in the service of others, etc.). Outcastes are those who are outside these four. There are also the four ashramas of life, which include Brahmacharis (student life, generally celibates), Grihastas (householders), Vanaprasthas (those who are retired from family life), and Sannyasa (the renounced monks, some of whom travel the world to teach). This is the Vedic system of Varnashrama.

            The modern caste system is seen to usually dictate one’s varna or caste merely by one’s birth family, as if one automatically inherits the caste of one’s father, which is why there is a growing dislike for it. This is not the traditional Vedic system of Varnashrama. This is the difference and the problem. The traditional Vedic system calculated one’s occupational class by recognizing one’s natural talents, interests, tendencies, and abilities. It was similar to the modern system of having high school counselors adjust a student’s academic courses by discussing with the students their interests in conjunction with the results of their IQ tests. Thus, such counselors see what occupational direction is best suited for the students so they can achieve a fitting career that is of interest to them and helps them be a contributor to society at the same time. And the four basic divisions of society, as outlined in the Vedic system, are natural classifications and found everywhere, in every society, call it what you want. Plus, the traditional Vedic Varnashrama system was never so inflexible that one could not change from one occupation or class to another. The rigidity of the present-day caste system, based on jati or one’s birth family, is actually leading us away from the flexibility, and the common sense, of the Vedic varna system. 

            For this reason, you could say that the modern caste system that we find today is opposed to the Vedic system of varna. The Vedic process was a matter of bringing experience and wisdom of the ages to assist and direct a person’s life in what would be the most productive and satisfying occupation that would fit the mentality, interests, talents, and level of consciousness of an individual. It was never meant to dominate, stifle, hold down, or demean anyone. Therefore, the modern caste system as we find it today should be thrown out, and the natural system of the Vedic Varnashrama should be properly understood as it was meant to be.

            So, to show what I’m talking about, here in the shastric quotes that follow I try to provide a clear description of how the varna system was never meant to be based merely on one’s family birth, but by one’s talents, natural interests, proclivities, expertise, and activities. These quotes are from the Bhrama Parva section of the Bhavishya Purana (abbreviated as BP), and no matter how much or how little credit you give to this Purana, you still cannot deny the logic with which this information is presented. The verses cited herein from the Bhrama Parva section of the Bhavishya Purana is known to be relatively free of corruptions and its antiquity is vouchsafed as well. The same verses are also repeated verbatim in the Skanda Purana (north Indian versions) and a few verses of similar purport are also found in the beginning of the Shukranatisara. Some scholars say that the last is a 19th century forgery, but no less than Swami Dayanand Sarasvati acknowledged it as an ancient text, and most scholars date it between 300-1200 AD. So at a minimum, these verses do represent an alternative opinion and an elaboration on the Vedic varna-jaati system.
            There are many other points about the caste system that could be discussed, such as untouchability, etc., but please note, this article is not taking those up, but merely following the outline as brought up in the following shastric quotes focusing on the Bhavishya Purana. In this portion of the Bhavishya Purana that follows, the answers to the questions are spoken by Sumantu, the disciple of Srila Vyasadeva, to King Shatanika. This was at the suggestion of Srila Vyasadeva [VedaVyasa] who was sitting nearby in the assembly of sages, all of whom were listening to the discussion. (Bhavishya Purana, Bhrama Parva, Chapter 1.28-35)

HOW DO WE RECOGNIZE ONE’S VARNA?

              First of all, how do we recognize one’s varna is an ancient question, even asked by the sages of the distant past to Lord Brahma. What is it that really makes the difference between one person and the next? “The sages asked: O Lord Brahma, in the beginning of creation, how was one recognized as a Brahmana? Was it because of his birth in a particular family, his knowledge of the Vedas, the characteristics of his body, his accomplishment of self-realization, his quality of behavior, or the prescribed duties he carried out? Is it the mind, speech, activities, body, or the qualities that determine one’s social status? Surely one’s birth in a certain caste [or family] is not sufficient for one to be recognized as a Brahmana. One’s qualities and work must also play an important part in determining a person’s position in society. The Vedic literature supports this view.” (BP, 38.8-11)

            “Different social orders, such as the Brahmanas and Kshatriyas (and others) are directly seen, but simply being born in a particular family does not automatically grant one his social status. An intelligent person can easily recognize a horse in the midst of many cows. Similarly, among many who are born in a particular social status, those who are actually qualified in terms of character and activities can be easily recognized. (BP, 38.19-20)

            “Some people say that all of humanity is the topmost caste, and there is nothing more to be said than this. They fail to understand that the various purificatory processes, such as the sacred thread ceremony [initiation into the twice-born status], make a person distinct from those who do not undergo such rituals.” (BP, 38.21)

            Such customs certainly help one progress and is recommended, but the fact remains that in spite of such purificatory rites, we are all still very much the same, as described next.

WE ARE ALL QUITE ALIKE

             “How can all the living entities who take birth, grow old, become diseased, and then die, who suffer the threefold miseries of material existence, who take birth in innumerable species, such as human beings, birds, dogs, pigs, dog-eaters, insects, and tortoises, who are all placed into very awkward conditions of life, fraught with danger, illness, lamentation, and distress, and who are constantly being drowned by the burden of their grave sinful reactions, be accepted as qualified Brahmanas?” (BP, 38.23-25)

            Therefore, there must be some additional means that can help identify one’s mental makeup and high or low level of intellect and consciousness.

IT IS ONLY OUR ACTIONS AND QUALIFICATIONS

THAT DIFFERENTIATE US

             “Just as one can differentiate between a soldier, an elephant, a horse, a cow, a goat, a camel, and an ass by seeing their colors and forms [as distinguished because of their birth], all living entities have different characteristics and duties that distinguish them from one another.” (BP, 38.30)

            “[However] the question, ‘Who is a Brahmana?’ cannot be answered so easily. Actually, there is no question of a person being qualified as a Brahmana simply because he was born in a family of Brahmanas. When a person is designated as belonging to one of the four divisions of the social order [whether it be Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, Shudras or Brahmanas]—that [designation] is not eternal. There is no physical characteristic that enables one to determine who is a Brahmana. A fair or dark complexion, which, after all, is temporary, is no real indication of a person’s varna.” (BP, 38.31)

            In Goswami Tulsidas’s Shri Ramcharitmanas there are many instances when this issue is also addressed. In the ‘Sabri episode’, Lord Rama speaks to Sabri about the importance of action (Chapter III, Aranya Kand, Verse 34, Line 4,5,6). It is clearly stated that “Bhakti (devotion and unification with the supreme), does not consider caste, religion, etc., rather it is determined by the character and qualities of an individual.”
 

 A CASTE SYSTEM BASED ON BIRTH IS UNJUST

             “Therefore, the conception of a caste system based solely on birth is artificial and temporary. It may seem to be reality, but that is only due to the influence of the practice of a particular period. A businessman and doctor are both human beings, but their profession is different. Their work is according to their nature and qualities, and not because of the family they were born into.” (BP, 38.32)

            “Can a person, thus, claim to be a Brahmana if he does not act according to the codes of good conduct? Can a man claim to be a Kshatriya if he does not protect the citizens? Can a person claim to be a Vaishya if he gives up performing his prescribed duties [in business, trade or farming]? Can a person claim to be a Shudra if he abandons service to the higher three classes?

            “There is no physical difference between human beings as there is between cows and horses. Actually, all living beings should be treated with respect, knowing that they are one in quality as spirit souls, although they may temporarily have different varieties of forms and activities.” (BP, 38.33-34)

            “Therefore, the caste system in human society that is based solely upon birth should be understood as superficial, because it is not prescribed in the scriptures. Unfortunately, those in ignorance cannot understand that it is a man-made concoction that can be easily refuted by a person in knowledge.” (BP, 38.35)

            “If a person considers himself to be a Brahmana by birth but engages in [such things as] taking care of cows, buffalos, goats, horses, camels, or sheep, or acts as a messenger, tax collector, businessman, painter [artist], or dancer, he should be considered as not a real Brahmana, even though he may be very expert or powerful.” (BP, 38.36-37)

            “Brahmanas who have deviated from the path of righteousness as propagated by the scriptures are to be considered fallen [from their social status], even though they may belong to a very aristocratic family, and have performed all the required purificatory rituals, and carefully studied the Vedas. No amount of accomplishments gives one the right to justify sinful behavior.” (BP, 38.42-43)

            “Thus, it can be understood how a Brahmana can become a Shudra, a Shudra can become a Brahmana, a Kshatriya can become a Brahmana or a Vaishya, and so on.” (BP, 38.47)

Herein we can understand that a Brahmana is no Brahmana if he is not endowed with purity and good character, or if he leads a life of frivolity and immorality. However, a Shudra is a Brahmana if he leads a virtuous and pious life. Varna or caste is a question of character. Varna is not the color of the skin, but the color of one’s character and quality. Conduct and character is what matters and not lineage alone. If one is Brahmana by birth and, at the same time, if he possesses the virtues of a Brahmana, that it is extremely good, because it is only certain virtuous qualifications that determine if one is a Brahmana, just as certain qualities distinguish one as a Kshatriya, Vaishya or Shudra. But if a Brahmana does not have the necessary traits, then he cannot call himself a Brahmana.

            “Brahma said: If study of the Vedas is an important criteria for being recognized as a Brahmana, then many Kshatriyas and Vaisyas also deserve to be called Brahmanas, just as Ravana became known as a demon [by qualities and actions]. Similarly, there are many dog-eaters, laborers, hunters, fishermen, sailors, and other people [outside the higher classes] who study the Vedas… Therefore, mere study of the Vedas cannot be the criteria for determining a person’s social position.” (BP, 39.1-2, 6)

            The point is that “One who is twice-born and has thoroughly studied the Vedas, along with its six branches, cannot claim to be a purified soul if he does not observe the codes of good conduct. It is the occupational duty of one who is twice-born to study the Vedas, and this is one of the symptoms of a genuine Brahmana. If a person does not perform his prescribed duties after studying the four Vedas, he is like a eunuch who cannot take advantage of having a wife.” (BP, 39.8-9)

            Here again we see that the proper classification of an individual is not the status of one’s birth family, but the qualities that he shows in life. Otherwise, even someone who considers himself to be a sophisticated Brahmana may indeed be something far less. As it is further explained: “Just like a Brahmana, a Shudra can have a shikha, chant Om, worship the deities every morning and evening, wear a sacred [Brhamana’s] thread, carry a staff, and wear a deerskin [like a forest sage]. Even Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva are incapable of preventing people from becoming Shudras, and so what to speak of human beings. Therefore, wearing a sacred thread, keeping a shikha, and dressing a particular way are not really indications of a person’s position within the Varnashrama society. Who can stop a person’s Shudra mentality, even though he may be well-versed in the Vedic mantras and tantras, and is a very good speaker on these subjects?” (BP, 39.10-13)

            “[Generally it can be recognized that] All classes of men are seen to be capable of performing austerities, speaking the truth, worshiping the demigods, and chanting mantras. All classes of men generally avoid and [in some cases] even deceive those who speak harshly. Considering this, it is not possible to actually differentiate between a Brahmana and a Shudra. The power to curse and the exhibition of compassion can also be found in Shudras. One cannot ascertain from a person’s external appearance whether he is a thief, a cheater, or a prince. Just as a Shudra is incapable of relieving himself of his miseries and protecting his family, it is the same for a Brahmana.” (BP, 39.14-17)

THE DAMAGE OF UNQUALIFIED BRAHMANAS

             “It is better if there are no Brahmanas at all than to have sinful and unqualified Brahmanas in the kingdom [who thus mislead society by what they say and do], especially in Kali-yuga, because in previous ages such Brahmanas would have been censored.” (BP, 39.18)

            Furthermore, it is especially difficult in these days to find anyone who is eligible to be considered a member of the higher classes or varnas of society, for it seems that everyone is materially motivated. 

            “According to some opinion, the power to curse others, a compassionate nature, and an inclination toward spiritual life are the characteristics of a Brahmana. In spite of that, it is seen that practically everyone is attached to worldly activities, having fallen into the darkness of ignorance, and because of that they are helplessly rushing towards hell, just like flies rush towards a fire.” (BP, 39.19-20)

SO WHO IS A REAL BRAHMANA?

             We have now seen by the logic presented in the Bhavishya Purana how the jati or birth of an individual does not justify anyone’s social classification. But also how many of those who take pride in considering themselves of a higher caste or varna are actually not qualified in such a way at all. And yet, even a low-class person, meaning having taken birth from a lower social class, can indeed rise up to be a Brahmama. It all depends on one’s level of consciousness, which generally depends on one’s training and then mental disposition towards a spiritual life, and his natural inclination to follow a code of good conduct.

            “Only those who have been PROPERLY trained and who have studied the Vedas [are seen to generally] adhere to a life of piety, whereas those without training [in at least general moral standards], who have not studied the Vedas [nor their spiritual conclusion] engage in sinful activities. Because study of the Vedas is the primary duty of a Brahmana [or one who is seriously on the path to spiritual progress, thus showing Brahminical qualities], one who does not study the Vedas cannot be considered a genuine Brahmana.” (BP, 39.25-26)

            This is interesting because how many times have we met people who feel they have duly studied the Vedic conclusions but have yet to know how to apply them, nor have they continued to follow them, giving any number of excuses for their present activities. The above verses make it clear that one has to continue to follow the standards, and if he cannot, then he is no longer to be accepted as a person of a higher social class. And this can go for anyone and anywhere. If they have little respect for others, engage in materialistic pursuits without higher moral standards, then that person is someone with a low consciousness, or low varna.

A BRAHMANA CAN EASILY FALL DOWN,

WHILE A SHUDRA CAN EASILY RISE UP

             “A Brahmana can easily be diverted from his brahminical qualities and codes of good conduct if he becomes bewildered by desires for material enjoyment and blinded by pride, just like an ordinary materialistic person. Of course, anyone becomes degraded and goes to hell if he has a sinful nature, even after undergoing the samskaras. On the other hand, those who observe proper etiquette, even though they might not have undergone the samskaras, should be considered as Brahmanas.

            “It is a fact that even someone who chants various mantras and has undergone all the purificatory rituals may fall down into illusion and thereby become bereft of brahminical qualifications due to his sinful mentality. People who engage in abominable activities, and who are blinded by pride in their ability, fall down from their position and lose all brahminical qualities.” (BP, 40.15-18)  

            Here again I am reminded of what I have always said, that the present caste system based on one’s jati or birth is unjust. It is meant to depend on the person’s natural talents, abilities, tendencies, and mentality, which varies from person to person regardless of family, social class, culture, regional jurisdiction, etc. Each person has to be considered individually regardless of family background.

            “The caste system based simply on birth does not actually divide people according to their development of consciousness. It is one’s envy and hatred that allows us to place a person in a higher or lower category. If it is not helpful to divide people according to their bodily characteristics, [then why do so]? In the past, many great sages, such as Srila Vyasadeva, observed proper etiquette and became great souls, although they did not undergo the samskaras, such as the garbhadhana.” (BP, 40.19-20)

            For example, “Vyasadeva was the son of a fisherman’s daughter, his father Parashara was born from a woman who was a dog-eater. Shukadeva was born from a female parrot, Vashishtha was the son of a prostitute…” and other sages like Kanada, Shringi, Mandapala, and Mandavya all had questionable births, and yet all were highly qualified Brahmanas, and recognized as such.

            “Indeed, it is imperative that one strictly follow the instructions of these highly qualified sages, who all possess a spotless character, if one hopes to achieve success in life.

            “O King, undergoing the various samskaras certainly plays an important part in raising one to the platform of a qualified Brahmana, but there are many other important considerations. For example, the great sage Shringi achieved the status of a Brahmana on the strength of his austerities. It must be concluded that undergoing samskaras is a principal criteria for becoming a Brahmana. Still, on the strength of their penance and austerity, Vyasadeva, Parashara, Kanada, Vashishtha, and Mandapala became qualified Brahmanas, despite their taking birth from the womb of a fisherwomen, female dog-eater, or prostitute, etc.

            “[Therefore] undergoing the various samskaras is not sufficient to qualify one as a Brahmana. Those who are expert in performing the Vedic and tantrik samskaras require the attainment of transcendental knowledge and the performance of penance to support their claim of being qualified Brahmanas. Without such qualifications, one will certainly indulge in sinful activities and thus fall from his high position as a Brahmana. One who is a Brahmana in name only is not really a Brahmana.” (BP, 40.22-32)

Here in these quotations we can see that many great Rishis were born in lower varnas, such as Vashishta was the son of a prostitute; Vyasa was born of a fisher woman; Parashara’s mother was a chandala; Nammalwar was a Shudra. Similarly, Valmiki, Viswamitra, Agastya were Brahmanas in spite of their non-Brahmana origin. In more recent times, for example, Swami Vivekananda, one of the most revered Hindus worldwide, was a non-Brahmana. Or was he? In spite of a non-Brahmana birth he displayed so many high qualities. All this proves that birth is not a major player in attaining the status of Brahmana. It is the intellectual and spiritual level of consciousness that differentiates people.

In the same way, spiritual realization is not dependent on birth or book-learning, as has been repeatedly demonstrated in the lives of saints, from the very earliest times to our own day. So, then who is a real rishi? It is the person who has attained through proper means the direct realization of Dharma. That is the one who can be a rishi even if he is a non-Brahmana or mleccha by birth.  

The basis of varna is guna or the mode of nature in which a person is situated, and not birth. Therefore, one is a Brahmana not because of one’s birth or caste or heredity or color or profession or acquisition of worldly knowledge, or mere observation of social and moral codes, but because of his spiritual knowledge and insight, and his abidance in the Supreme Reality, his state of self-realization. This is the conclusion of all Vedas, Shrutis, Puranas, Itihasas, and of all great men ofIndia.

Therefore, casteism, meaning judging a person by one’s birth family, is a misguided social custom and not part of any spiritual tradition, and all our great preachers have tried to break it down. From Buddhism downwards, every sect has preached against caste.

WHEN A BRAHMANA BECOMES LOWER THAN A SHUDRA

             “According to Svayambhuva Manu, the principal characteristic of a Brahmana is that he possesses spiritual knowledge, is enriched with the power of penance, and maintains a state of purity. According to this understanding, anyone, whether he belongs to an upper, middle, or lower caste, if he never indulges in sinful activities, he must be considered a Brahmana. It is said that an honest and well-behaved Shudra is better than an arrogant Brahmana, and a Brahmana who disregards the prescribed codes of good conduct is inferior to a Shudra. A Shudra that does not keep wine in his shop or in his house is called an honest Shudra.” (BP, 42.29-32)

HOW EVERYONE CAN ADVANCE

 The proper observance of the Vedic system of Varnashrama-dharma is to help one’s growth and self-development. The great sages have explained that this system of division into varnas is the stepping-stone to civilization, providing a means so one can rise higher and higher in proportion to one’s learning and culture. Such is our ideal for raising all humanity slowly and gently towards the realization of the great ideal of being a spiritual man, who is calm, steady, worshipful, pure, and meditative. In that ideal there is God-realization.

The additional aim of Varnashrama-dharma is to promote the development of the universal, eternal Sanatana-dharma, the balanced state of being in which you perceive and live according to your genuine spiritual identity. Thus, as the saying goes, “if you take care of Dharma, Dharma will take care of you.” If you destroy it, society will become bereft of balance. Therefore, we should never destroy our Dharma. This principle holds true of the individual as much as of the nation. It is Dharma alone which keeps a nation alive and moving forward. Dharma is the very soul of man. Dharma is the very soul of a nation also, even the world. So how can we all move forward together on the sure path of progress? Here it is explained as follows:

            “Brahminical prowess progressively increases in pious persons who cultivate godly qualities such as forgiveness, control of the senses, compassion, charity, truthfulness, purity, meditation, respect for others, simplicity, satisfaction, freedom from false ego, austerity, self-control, knowledge, freedom from the propensity to blaspheme others, celibacy, cultivation of knowledge, freedom from envy, faithfulness, freedom from hatred, detachment, renunciation of the thirst for material enjoyment, service to the spiritual master, and control of the body, mind, and speech.” (BP, 42.12-15)

            “Many persons in the past became highly advanced and powerful by cultivating these qualities and practicing behavior befitting a saintly person. It is a fact that by such a practice, the heart becomes purified, freeing one from the influence of the modes of passion [raja-guna] and ignorance [tamo-guna].” (BP, 42.16)

            “According to learned authorities, those who possess these godly qualities are actually scholars of the Vedas and Puranas, and understand the confidential purport of the Bhagavad-gita. By faithfully following the principles of varna and ashrama, people in all four yugas have attained the perfection of life.” (BP, 42.17-18)

CLASSIFICATIONS BASED ON THE BODY ARE COMPLETELY FALSE

 By now we should be able to see that even a person who has taken birth from a family who has been considered of a low varna can raise him or herself up to a higher classification by having proper training and showing appropriate codes of conduct and lifestyle.

            “When a Shudra has become advanced by undergoing the [Vedic] samskaras, he can no longer be considered a Shudra. The conclusion is that a person’s external dress or appearance cannot be the criterion for his being accepted as a Brahmana.” (BP, 39.29)

            However, the samskaras or rituals and training in themselves cannot be the sole means of determining one’s social position. This certainly helps, but there must be more than that, which, as already explained.

            “If the undergoing of samskaras is the main criteria for being accepted as a Brahmana, then all those who have undergone samskaras are certainly Brahmanas. If that be the case, how can they be compared with personalities like Srila Vyasadeva, who did not undergo the samskaras. If we consider this, we see that there is no support for the theory of different castes. Although different castes are recognized in society, this is just an artificial conception of materialistic people. The material body is composed of the five gross elements—earth, water, fire, air, and sky. These elements cannot be the cause for one being accepted as a Brahmana [or anything else], because they combine for some time and then merge back into their source. Indeed, the body of an atheist, mleccha, or a yavana is made of the same material elements. [Thus, such designations based on the body are completely false].” (BP, 39.30-33)

            “Religiosity as described in the Vedas can also be found in people who are sinful, violent, of bad character, and cruel. Therefore the determination of one’s social status does not depend on undergoing [purificatory] samskaras.” (BP, 39.34)

            “Therefore, [from the conclusions that have been presented so far] there is no difference between a Brahmana and a Shudra in terms of bodily features, mentality, experience of happiness and distress, opulence, prowess, tendency toward gambling, shrewdness in business, ability to earn wealth, steadiness, restlessness, intelligence, detachment, virtue, accomplishment of the three objectives of life [dharma, artha and kama], cleverness, beauty, complexion, sexual capacity, stool, bones, holes of the body, manifestations of love, height, weight, and bodily hair. Therefore, even if the demigods were to try very hard to find distinctions between Brahmanas and Shudras [and everyone in between] in this way, they would not be able to do so.” (BP, 39.35-39)

            “One should not think that all Brahmanas are white like moon rays, that all Kshatriyas have a complexion like the color of a kimsuka flower, that all Vaishyas have a golden complexion like the color of an orpiment fruit, and that all Shudras are black like half-burnt coal. How can there be four classes of human beings when their walking, complexion, hair, happiness, distress, blood, skin, flesh, bone marrow, and fluids are totally identical? There is nothing special about anyone’s complexion, height, weight, figure, period of stay within the womb, speech, wisdom, working senses, life-air, strength, illnesses, objectives of life, and methods for curing diseases.” (BP, 39.41-43)

            “A father may have four sons and it is assumed that all of them belong to the same caste as their father. Similarly, all living entities are produced by the one Supreme Father and so, how can His children be divided into different castes? Just as the color, texture, structure, feel, and juice of different portions of a fig are the same, so are the human beings that are emanating from one source, and so it is improper to differentiate between them. The brothers, children, daughters-in-law, births, marriages, beauty, complexion, and artistic ability must be the same for the member of the lineages [or gotras] coming from Kaushika, Gautama, Kaumdinya, Mandavya, Vashishtha, Atreya, Kautsa, Angirasa, Maudgalya, Katyayana, and Bhargava.

            “Although some learned scholars accept the material body as being a Brahmana [or something else], this indicates that they are in the bodily concept of life [without spiritual perception], which exists in a condition of dense ignorance. This is like a blind person desiring to treat others’ eyes by applying a black ointment. Both are ludicrous. Because the material body has a beginning, it also has an end. After death, the elements of the body merge into the totality of material elements once again. Therefore, the body [alone] cannot be accepted as a Brahmana [or any other varna].” (BP, 39.45-51)

            In conclusion, therefore, “Only ignorant people accept this material body as being a Brahmana. According to their understanding, the position of being a Brahmana cannot be achieved simply by undergoing the various purificatory processes.” (BP, 39.54)

ONE MISSES GOAL OF LIFE WHEN PREOCCUPIED BY CASTE

             “If after attaining the human form of life, which enables one to possess things like attractive bodily features, abundant wealth, great power and prestige, one does not live according to the prescribed religious principles, it cannot be predicted what species of life he will thereafter be forced to accept on various planets. This is the fate of one who is so proud that he dares to challenge the supremacy of God. Being intoxicated by pride, thinking that their caste, race, beauty, social status, and education are very wonderful, people do not bother to understand their actual self-interest, and because of that in their next life they will suffer like eunuchs.

            “Material existence can be compared to a huge pit in which thousands of millions of living entities are drowning. Knowing this perfectly well, which intelligent person would be very proud of his caste?

            “There are many human beings who are presumed to be fully satisfied, having been born in aristocratic families, and yet because of their own misdeeds, after death they will be forced to take birth in this world in some lower species of life. In this world, no one can remain permanently in some situation.” (BP, 39.3-6)

            If this does not make it clear regarding the impermanent nature of the living being, and that even one’s high, intermediate or low birth is temporary, then I do not know what can. Yet, we see that so many people are going through life, completely asleep in regard to the real purpose of this existence. Thus, they may think their present position is so grand, not knowing that if they do not use this life properly for real spiritual progress, after death their next life may not be very great at all. But how many times must we go through this before we learn our lessons about the real truth of the matter, that our real position is as a spiritual being, beyond the body and its superficial designations, and everything else is temporary and secondary?

THE DIFFERENCE OF PROPER CONSCIOUSNESS AND INTENT,

OR MERELY GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS

             In the next few verses it is pointed out that a person must also have the proper concentration and focus, along with the proper intentions in their actions if they are expected to be qualified in their positions. Otherwise, it is seen that anyone can chant mantras and do rituals, but merely going through the motions, especially for adoration, profit and distinction, is not what is needed to suitably accept or be qualified for a higher status in one’s social classification.

            “Generally, those who are twice-born—the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas—undergo all the Vedic samskaras. For this reason, they are certainly to be considered as superior to the Shudras who engage in all kinds of frivolous activities.

            “In spite of undergoing the samskaras, if those who are twice-born engage in violent and sinful activities, such as killing a Brahmana [or worse], having sexual intercourse with the wife of the spiritual master, stealing, killing a cow, drinking wine, cheating, speaking lies, exhibiting great pride, speaking atheistic philosophy, blaspheming the Vedas, denying the authority of the Vedas, plundering the wealth of others, acting whimsically, earning money by dancing or cheating, eating all types of abominable food, and performing any other prohibited activity with the body, mind, and speech, they can never be considered purified, even if they perform thousands of sacrifices [rituals].

            “Therefore, the ability to chant mantras, perform fire rituals, practice penance, and sacrifices does not make one a Brahmana, just as a Shudra remains a Shudra, despite the ability to perform all these activities [when merely going through the motions].” (BP, 41.5-9)

            “Similarly, the Brahmanas who indulge in sinful activities must be considered fallen. Therefore, the only sane conclusion is that the concepts of Brahmana and Kshatriya etc., are temporary designations and not ultimate reality.” (BP, 41.52)

EXPECTED CHARACTERISTICS AND ACTIONS

OF EACH PERSON OF THE FOUR VARNAS

             What follows are a very few of the qualities, actions and characteristics that are typical of people in each of the four varnas.

“Brahma said: Genuine Brahmanas know very well what is to be accepted and what is to be rejected. They avoid sinful behavior, carefully control their senses, mind, and speech, and carefully observe the prescribed etiquette. They follow the rules and regulations that are prescribed for them in the scriptures, and constantly work for the welfare of others.  They work for the protection of religious principles in this world and are fixed in trance, meditating on the Absolute Truth. They restrain their anger, and are free from material attachment, envy, lamentation, and pride. They are attached to the study of the Vedas [and their supporting literature], very peaceful, and are the best well-wishing friends of all living entities. They are equal in happiness and distress, reside in a solitary place, observe all the vows prescribed for them with their body and mind, and are pious by nature. They are reluctant to perform any abominable act, and are freed from illusion and false pride. They are charitable, compassionate, truthful, and very learned in the scriptures. They know the Supreme Brahman and have high regard for the revealed scriptures.” (BP, 42.1-7)

            From this verse we can understand that if a Brahmana is not free from such things as anger, material attachment, envy, lamentation, and pride, along with the other qualities mentioned above, then such people do not have the real mentality of a Brahmana, even if they do appear to have some expertise in other areas. Thus, they are not genuinely qualified to be spiritual authorities for the rest of society, but, indeed, have much more work to do on themselves for their own progress and development.

            Another class of beings are also known as Brahmanas, as explained: “Brahma was born from the navel of the purusha-avatara [Vishnu]. All living entities were manifested by Him, and among them, those who are devotees, surrendered souls unto that Supreme Personality of Godhead, are also known as Brahmanas.” (BP, 42.9)

            Furthermore, “Those who have some realization of the Supreme Brahman, and who act according to the prescribed codes of good conduct, are called Brahmanas, and they are glorified by the other members of society.” (BP, 42.11)

            In regard to the other main varnas, namely the Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras, their expected standards are also described: “Those who give protection to others, saving them from all kinds of danger, are known as Kshatriyas. Those who engage in farming, cow protection, and trading are known as Vaishyas, and those who have no capacity to study the Vedas [or deep spiritual knowledge], and are engaged in serving members of the higher three classes are known as Shudras.” (BP, 42.10)

            “Lord Brahma has prescribed the methods for members of all the varnas that will enable them to achieve perfection by performing their respective duties.

            “Among the human beings, those who are comparatively more powerful and are thus able to give protection to others, saving them from all types of danger, should be known as Kshatriyas. Persons who approach the Kshatriyas to beg some charity after instructing them on the messages of the Supreme Lord as found in the Vedic literature should be known as Brahmanas.

            “Those who are almost as powerful as the Kshatriyas but engage in agriculture, cow protection, and trade [such as banking and business], should be known as Vaishyas. Those who, not very capable of working independently, and who are easily overcome by lamentation and illusion, should engage in the service of the higher three classes of men and thus be known as Shudras. In this way, according to their nature and qualities, there are prescribed duties for Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras.” (BP, 42.19-24)

            “The qualities of a Brahmana are peacefulness, austerity, self-control, purity, tolerance, simplicity, knowledge, the practical application of the knowledge, and inquiry into the nature of the Absolute Truth. Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity and leadership are the natural qualities of work for the Kshatriyas. Farming, cow protection and business are the natural work for the Vaishyas, and for the Shudras there is labor and service to others.” (BP, 42.25-27)

             In this way, everyone has a natural tendency for some aspect of the particular traits described, and are also a part of the social body of civilization to help contribute to its balance and progress, and the well-being of one and all.

IN CONCLUSION

 If people can understand the real basis of the Varna system, and be trained in acting accordingly, raising themselves to their original spiritual level, then the false, superficial and bodily based sectarian spirit can ultimately be put to rest. Then there is every possibility that such people can develop a spiritual vision of one another with a mood of love, care, cooperation, sacrifice, and service. This is the real purpose of the Varna system anyway, to see that everyone is a part of the larger social body, and part of the Supreme, and that each person, by their actions and occupation, has a contribution to make to the well-being of all.

            “It is therefore to be concluded that humanity is essentially one, but distinctions of caste have been made according to a person’s qualities and work [mentality and consciousness]. As far as general behavior is concerned, the entire human race is one. There is only a difference in people’s occupations and attitudes. Those who divide society into castes according to birth cannot see that human beings are essentially one.” (BP, 42.33-34)

             Another article of mine on my website that can help provide more clarity is Casteism: Is It the Scourge of Hinduism, or the Perversion of a Legitimate Vedic System?

 [This article is available at: www.stephen-knapp.com]

 

Sanatana-Dharma / Hinduism in a Nutshell, By Stephen Knapp

Some people think that Hinduism or Vedic culture is difficult to understand, but if you look at it succinctly, it is not very difficult at all. So this presents the essential principles in a concise way. Hinduism is also more correctly called by its Sanskrit name: Sanatana-Dharma. This, essentially, means to follow one’s eternal duty, which is to search for and understand our spiritual identity, and then to learn to live according to those eternal and spiritual characteristics, especially by one’s own spiritual realizations. This is also the purpose and mission of the Vedic philosophy and culture.  

The Vedic philosophy, or that which is based on the ancient Vedas and its supporting literature of India, is to help humanity understand who we really are, and the purpose of life. It is like the manual you get when you buy an appliance and need to understand exactly how it works. The Vedic literature is there to help all of us.

The essence of it comes down to 10 basic principles. These are the ones most accepted by the majority of people who follow Sanatana-dharma, and are also referenced in the Vedic texts. Beyond these, there are various schools of thought, which have further developments in their own outlook and philosophy, such as the Shaivites, Vaishnavas, Shaktas, Brahmanandis, Tantrics, and so on. These we can discuss at another time or you can read more about them in my books or website for further information.

In any case, the first code is: There is one Supreme Being, Bhagavan or God, with no beginning or end, the all in all, the unlimited Absolute Truth, who can expand into many forms. In this regard, the RigVeda (1:164:45) says: Ekam Sat Viprah Bahudha Vadanti. Though sages may call Him by different names, such as Krishna, Rama, Vishnu, etc., there is but one Absolute Truth, or one source and foundation of everything. God is considered Sat-chit-ananda vigraha, the form of eternal knowledge and bliss. He is supreme, full of beauty, knowledge, is all-powerful and all-pervading. He is also known by His three main features: namely Brahman, the all-pervading, impersonal spiritual force or effulgence; the Paramatma, the localized expansion known as the Supersoul which accompanies every individual soul in the heart of everyone; and then Bhagavan, the Supreme Personality and form of God.

The other principles are: (2) The Vedas are Divine knowledge and are the basis or foundation of the Vedic philosophy. Some of these texts have been given or spoken by God, and others were composed by sages in their deepest super conscious state in which they were able to give revelations of Universal Truths while in meditation on the Supreme. This Vedic literature, including, among other texts, the Rig, Sama, Yajur and Atharva Vedas, the Upa-Vedas, Vedangas, Shadarshanas, Upanishads, the Vedanta-Sutras, Yoga Sutras, Agamas, the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and Bhagavad-gita, and all Puranic literature and the practices congruent with them, contain the basis of the Vedic or Sanatana-dharma spiritual culture.

(3) God can and has appeared throughout history in the form of personal appearances (avataras) within the realm of matter, and even in the sound vibration of scriptures (the Vedic literature), and there are ten basic avataras of God, with numerous other expansions. (4) Our real identity is being a spirit soul, or jiva. (5) The soul undergoes it’s own karma, the law of cause and effect, by which each person must experience the results or consequences of his activities and creates his own destiny based on his thought, words and deeds. (6) There is also rebirth or reincarnation, wherein our next birth is directed by our karma. The soul incarnates through different forms until, by its own spiritual development, it reaches liberation (moksha) from the repetition of birth and death, when it attains its natural position in the spiritual domain. (7) We can elevate ourselves spiritually by also engaging in worship of the Divine, such as in His forms as deities in the temple. (8) We can receive proper instruction on how to follow the teachings of the Vedic philosophy from an authorized guru who is in line with a genuine parampara, or line of gurus. (9) We should also follow particular principles for our spiritual development, such as ahimsa or non-violence. (10) In our life there are four main goals, as indicated by the four ashramas of life, such as brahmacharya (the student’s life), the grihasta or the householder stage of life, the vanaprastha or retired stage of life in which we take our spiritual goals more seriously, and then the renounced or sannyasa stage of life in which our spiritual purpose is the main focus, culminating in attaining moksha or liberation from any further material existence.  

These ten principles expand to include several other additional points:

            1. The Vedic Tradition is more than a religion, but a way of life, a complete philosophy for the foundation and direction for one’s existence.

            2. It is based on Universal Spiritual Truths that can be applied by anyone at anytime.

            3. The Vedic tradition recognizes that the individual soul is eternal, beyond the limitations of the body, and that one soul is no different than another.

            4. All living entities, both human and otherwise, are the same in their essential and divine spiritual being. All of them are parts of the eternal truth, and have appeared in this world to express their nature and also to gather experience in the realms of matter.

            5. For this reason, Vedic followers accept the premise of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, that all living beings in the universe comprise one family, and that as such all beings are spiritually equal and should be respected as members within that family of the Supreme.

            6. The ultimate purpose of human life is to shed all attachments to matter and attain moksha (liberation from material existence) and return to the transcendental realm which is not only our true nature but also our real home.

            7. Every person’s capacity to progress spiritually depends upon their personal qualities, choices and abilities, and is not limited by the circumstances of one’s color, caste, class, or any other circumstance of birth or temporary material limitations or designations.

            8. The Vedic path is based on regaining our natural spiritual identity. To pursue this goal, all human beings have the eternal right to choose their personal form of spiritual practice, as well as the right to reject any form of religious activity, and that coercion, forced conversion, or commercial inducement to adopt one religion over another should never be used or tolerated to present, propagate, or enforce one’s spiritual beliefs on others.

9. The Vedic path offers personal freedom for one to make his or her own choice of how he or she wants to pursue their spiritual approach, and what level of the Absolute Truth he or she wishes to understand. This is the height of spiritual democracy and freedom from tyranny.

            10. Recognizing the value and sanctity of all forms of life, as well as the Eternal Divine Being that is their true Self, the Vedic principle is that we should therefore strive in every possible way to peacefully co-exist with all other species of living entities.

            11. The Vedic path consists of ten general rules of moral conduct. There are five for inner purity, called the yamaswhich include satya or truthfulness, ahimsa or non-injury to others and treating all beings with respect, asteya or no cheating or stealing, brahmacharya or celibacy, and aparighara or no unnecessarily selfish accumulation of resources for one’s own purpose. The five rules of conduct for external purification are the niyamas—such as shaucha or cleanliness and purity of mind and body, tapas or austerity and perseverance, swadhyaya or study of the Vedas and self-analysis, and santosh or contentment, as well as Ishwara-pranidhana, or acceptance of the Supreme.

            12. There are also ten qualities that are the basis of dharmic (righteous) life. These are dhriti (firmness or fortitude), kshama (forgiveness), dama (self-control), asteya (refraining from stealing or dishonesty), shauch (purity), indriya nigraha (control over the senses), dhih (intellect), vidya (knowledge), satyam (truth) and akrodhah (absence of anger).

             These principles are part of the eternal, universal truths that apply equally to all living entities who can use them for progress regardless of class, caste, nationality, gender, or any other temporary qualifications. These basic principles, as we can see, are not so difficult to understand and are the basis of the Vedic spiritual life.

[This is available at http://www.stephen-knapp.com]

How We Can See God, By Stephen Knapp (Sri Nandanandana dasa)

             First of all when it comes to trying to see God, if we expect to see God with our material senses, we need to first understand the limitations of the senses we have. We often need glasses merely to see clearly, and we also need enough light to do so. If it is too dark, or if there is no light with which to see, we can hardly make out what is right in front of us. So it is fair enough to say that we will never see that which is spiritual with these dull material senses.

However, even when it comes to researching the smallest elements like the atoms, and then defining parts of them like neutrons, protons, etc., do the scientists actually see every molecule that they discuss, even with super powerful microscopes? Sometimes not. In some cases, they only see the evidence that such particles exist, but do not directly see the particle itself. Similarly, even if we cannot see God directly with our material senses, we can still look around and see the evidence for God’s existence. But to do that, we also need to have the right knowledge.

For example, even a person with a little common sense can understand that there must be a source of everything, a point of origin, or what some call an Absolute Truth, the underlying basis or foundation for everything. And that something can be called God. That is why in some circles people ask, What is not God? And in that respect, we can perceive that everything is a part of God, or everything is but a display of God’s energy, including ourselves. Then we begin to see or feel the presence of God all around us.

However, in the Vedic sources of knowledge, such as the Bhagavad-gita, we find wherein Lord Krishna Himself begins to instruct Arjuna how to recognize Him in so many things. By meditating on and understanding this knowledge, we can begin to more closely recognize the evidence for God all around us, especially in all great and powerful things.

In Bhagavad-gita (7.4-11) Lord Krishna explains, “Earth, water, fire, air, ether, mind, intelligence, and false ego—altogether these eight comprise My separated material energies. Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe. Of all that is material and all that is spiritual in this world, know for certain that I am both its origin and dissolution. O conqueror of wealth [Arjuna], there is no Truth superior to Me. Everything rests upon Me as pearls are strung on a thread.

“O son of Kunti [Arjuna], I am the taste in fresh water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable Om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man. I am the original fragrance of the earth, and I am the heat in fire. I am the life of all that lives, and I am the penances [which brings one closer to God] of all ascetics. O son of Pritha, know that I am the original seed of all existences, the intelligence of the intelligent, and the prowess of all powerful men. I am the strength of the strong, devoid of passion and desire.” 

Another aspect of this description in Bhagavad-gita is to recognize how God Himself descends into this material realm to reveal Himself through His divine instructions, pastimes, personality, and to show us His form. And even if He is not in front of us personally, we can learn about Him and see Him through the descriptions of the Vedic shastra. Thus, even though we may not be able to see Him with our material senses, He can indeed reveal Himself and make Himself visible to us through such means. However, we also need to become qualified to do that, which we will discuss shortly.

            In another aspect of seeing God is that found in the descriptions that many of you have no doubt heard about in near-death-experiences. Often it is described that in such an experience someone may be going down a tunnel, sometimes greeted by past relatives, until they finally approach a fantastic light, a being of unconditional love and acceptance. They often do not exactly see the form of this being, since it is engulfed in light, but they accept the being to be the object of their faith or religion, such as Jesus, or Buddha, or Krishna, or someone similar.

          When our own level of consciousness is lower than the higher beings that we may encounter, as in a near-death-experience, we may often see them and the frequency in which they exist as merely white light. In other words, we have not elevated our own consciousness to the frequency of that level of existence to be able to perceive and discern all the details therein. Thus, we perceive such entities as either beings of light, or engulfed in effulgence.

          A similar experience is described in the Shri Ishopanishad in mantras 15 and 16, where it says: “O my Lord, sustainer of all that lives, Your real face is covered by Your dazzling effulgence. Please remove that covering and exhibit Yourself to Your pure devotee. O my Lord, O primeval philosopher, maintainer of the universe, O regulating principle, destination of the pure devotees, well-wisher of the progenitors of mankind—please remove the effulgence of Your transcendental rays so that I can see Your form of bliss. You are the eternal Supreme Personality of Godhead, like unto the sun, as am I.”

          In this way, we have to raise ourselves to the same refined frequency or energy level as God in our endeavor to perceive Him directly, beyond the dazzling effulgence. Also, the last statement in the above paragraph means that as the sunshine is basically of the same quality in essence as the sun, and an expansion of it, so we are also the same spiritual quality as God. We are not as powerful as God, but we are of the same essential quality. Thus, seeing God is not unexpected, but we simply have to regain that same spiritual quality in our consciousness to acquire the ability to perceive God directly. And all that really means is to reduce the power of the material energy’s influence on ourselves through our spiritual practice.

          One more example I would like to use is the radio and television waves that carry the signals of so many stations, whether it be news, music, entertainment, or other forms of communication that are all around us all the time. However, if I do not know about them, or do not think they exist, then how can you convince me that they are real? After all, you cannot see them, taste them, smell them, or feel them. So how can you convince someone that they are real?

          The answer is that you have to have a good receiver. Then anyone will see that such waves are all around us, but they mean nothing unless you have a good receiver. Then you realize that throughout the frequency range in which these waves travel, there are so many such waves, and that they are extremely useful, with numerous things that can be done with them. You can even broadcast your own radio waves simply by your cell phone, or use your GPS system, etc. Then they become such a common part of our everyday lives that we no longer even think about them. So if someone says that radio and television waves are not real, or that he does not believe in them, what would you think of him? Obviously, this guy has no knowledge, has no experience, he is not in touch with reality, which means he must have been living under a rock, in a closet, or way out in the wilderness all of his life. You would think he is too weird.

          Similarly, if someone has no knowledge of God, and says he does not believe in God, what would you think? Pretty much the same thing, that he is merely out of touch with the proper knowledge that would help make someone understand how to recognize God.

          Therefore, another way to perceive God is through the instructions and knowledge as given by a spiritual master, or a person who is a good receiver of the transcendental vibration that exists all around us. Thus, he can receive or perceive it, and then also broadcasts the spiritual knowledge through his instructions that will allow us to understand it, at least to those who will listen. This is how we learn, through such personal instructions or through books that are written by such pure receptors of the spiritual vibrations.

          It is also through this means that we can train ourselves to be such receivers of spiritual vibrations or frequencies if we want to. We have to learn it from others to be able to do it ourselves. It is through the spiritual practices, as provided by those spiritual teachers who are already successful, and through the information and instructions given in the Vedic texts, that will also enable us to elevate our consciousness, and the vibrational frequency in which we operate. Then we can also see that which exists in those higher dimensions or spiritual realms.    

          Therefore, unlike those religions that depend mostly on faith, the Vedic or Dharmic system is that a person follows the path to spiritualize their consciousness to the point where the spiritual dimension becomes perceptible, and then one can begin to enter into that dimension and function on that level. The point is that our consciousness is where we live. We may keep our body in a house, or in particular clothes, and so on, but it is our consciousness that is the vibrational frequency in which we live and send out to others. And as we raise that frequency, we will be able to see that which exists on those higher frequencies as well. In other words, the more spiritual you become, the more you can perceive that which is spiritual. As you become more spiritual, meaning the more you spiritualize your consciousness, then the more qualified you become to recognize, approach, or even see God in so many ways. And once you begin to have that experience, then there is no further argument about what is or what is not God.

          So, would you like to become such a perceiver of the spiritual realm? If you do, then the way we work to uplift and spiritualize our consciousness includes the following: Chanting or singing devotional songs, or the names of God, using mantras for japa meditation, associating with like-minded people, discussing this knowledge and information, especially by going to the temple, eating blessed vegetarian food or Krishna prasada, etc. 

          We have already explained many of these processes in greater detail as related in my other articles, free Ebooks and paperback books. Some of the articles on my website that can be helpful include:

1. Finding Our Real Spiritual Identity

2. Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, What’s so Special About Chanting Hare Krishna?

3. Seeing the Divinity in Everyone

4. Spiritual Enlightenment: What Is It

5. The Secret of Bhakti-yoga