- kewal sethi
in defence of brahmins
in defence of brahmins
sometimes people write disparagingly about the brahmins. they aver that brahmins are those who just recite meaningless mantras and demand money for that. all this is, according to them , mere पाखंड. the listeners do not understand what is said in a strange language. it is just a means to extract money from some one.
the same person will go to the private school, pay a large sum of money for getting education for his child in a language which his child does not understand. not only that they will boast about his capacity to recite poems which mean nothing either to him or to the listeners for example " drickery dickery dock, the mouse ran up the clock, the clock struck one and down he ran".
it is indeed surprising that the lack of knowledge about a language is paraded as something superior. obviuosly it it is not the fault of the brahmin that you don not understand the meaning of the mantra he recites. the absence of knowledge about our scriptures is not, and should not be, a source of pride which sometimes it is put up as. in any case, it does mean something to some one and should be honoured for that.
the brahmin has taken pains to learn these rituals and if the teacher in the school is entitled to his emoluments, why not the brahmin. but we grudge that in the name of casteism. we just assume that one particular caste has become exploiter and nothing else whatever be their merits or their contribution.
by the way, when you visit a temple, in the temple, no body demands contribution.there is no entry fee. by custom the person you have accompanied may advise you to do it or you may do it on your own but the brahmin does not ask for it. of course, it is a different matter when you invite him to your home for doing some pooja. you would not like to get something for free.
i am also remanded of a statement by a friend of mine who visited the mandir with his friend but had hard words to say when his friend asked him to contribute. he could have avoided going there but having gone there, he should have observed the customs of the place. in india no one will think of paying tips to the auto or the taxi driver arguing that he gets paid for his duties. but in united states or united kingdom, this is the custom and one must adhere to it or be called uncouth and worse. one covers one's head when one goes to mandir but in west when you go to church, you take off your hat. two different places have two opposite customs and you observe wherever you happen to be. this is expected of a lady or a gentleman.
another point often taken up is about the shradhh where the brahmins are given food. it is considered to be superstition that the food given to him will reach the ancestors. look t it in a different way. any good you do, any virtuous act you do, adds to your merit. this will stand you in good stead in your next birth, if not in this one. if doing it in the name of ancestors encourages you to do it, it is not a demerit. it is a different matter if you do not believe in rebirth but even then you have to be helpful to others. the brahmins do not force you to have shradhh. but you have no right to deride those who do. it is their choice and their belief.
now let us look at the other side of the coin. society does need teachers. that duty was assigned to brahmins. is was also enjoined in the old days, that brahmins will not be expected to accumulate wealth and worldly goods. they lived on charity of the grahsth. in return they gave you the education and the spiritual knowledge. it was a quid pro quo. it continues to be the same but there are many brahmins now who have got alternate jobs. .they do not go for performing religious rituals for others.
bramins in the bygone days have been the keepers of the spiritual knowledge.even before the advent of the written word, they had contemplated on the universe and got insight into the system. they passed on this knowledge by word of mouth from generation to generation before writing was invented. once it was invented, they wrote it down and thus this knowledge has come to us. we have to be grateful to the entire community for preserving and passing on this knowledge.
about the significance of such knowledge, a detailed eposotition shall be required which is not the purpose here.