SCIENCE of LIFE

Sree Narayana Guru's

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  JATI-NIRNAYAM

(Ascertaining Caste/Class)

 

Caste discrimination was at its zenith in Guru’s life time. It does not mean it is not prevalent today. It is much more tolerant and understanding than that period. The low-caste people could not walk freely on the roads. They had to stand/walk at a safe distance from the upper-castes, to avoid polluting the latter. The lower-caste women should not cover their bosoms. They should wear clothes that do not reach below the knee. They were not to adorn themselves with gold ornaments. They were prohibited from installing and worshiping the idols of benevolent Gods. Admission to schools were denied. They could not get government jobs. Such were the shackles that bound them in that period.

 

The poet, Kumaranasan has written a verse on this which when translated loosely means;

 

They are untouchables. They are polluting people. They are bad omen to come in your sight. They are without marriage bonds. They cannot sit and dine in the same table with others.”

 

Thus there were umpteen caste discriminations. In this work Guru has attempted to confront the devil of caste discrimination.

 

In the eyes of Veda, all creations are also the creator. Therefore all are brothers, born of the same parent, the creator. Guru asks ‘If this is so, where is the justification (place) for existence of class discrimination?’Using the same medium of Sastras; based on which the upper castes tried to establish their superiority, Guru pointed out the fallacy of caste system, by proving that it is against the scriptures.

 

Stanza 1.

 

manushyanam manushyatvam

jathir gotvam gavam yadha.

na brahmanadi rasaivam

ha tatvam vethi co-api na.

 

Humanity is the race of humans Just like bovinity is that of a cow.Brahmin-caste and such are not there.Nobody recognizes this fact, strange indeed.

 

The fist stanza is in Sanskrit. The rest is in local language Malayalam. Here Gurudeva assertains that for man humanity is the caste/race just like bovinity for the cow. This is the real fact. But people do not recognize this truth.

 

Stanza 2.

 

oru jathi oru matham

oru daivam manushyanu

oru yoniyorakaram

oru bhedavumillithil.

 

One race, one religion, one God for man

One womb, one form there is no difference at all.

 

Humanity is the name of the common race of humans. Every man makes effort in everyway, all the time, for the happiness of the Self (Atmo-49.). This is the one religion. Consciousness is the one God. Man is born of woman. This is the universal womb. The forms and structure of people are the same. There are no major differences as seen by some people. Hence there is no proof to support race/caste discrimination among mankind.

 

Though the Gita says that the four class system is based on the three gunas (Satva, Rajo orTamo gunas) and karma (good deeds) performed by the person, the state of affairs here is like this- “Just as a cow begets a cow (as calf), a Brahmin is born out of a Brahmin!” Therefore, by conducting a sacred thread ceremony, a boy becomes a Brahmin. The definition of Brahmin is “One who knows Brahman (Brahma jnani) is a Brahmin.” This fact has been conveniently ignored or concealed, when a thread ceremony is conducted to make a boy a Brahmin. Whatever be his qualities (Satva, Rajas or Tamas) and whatever be his actions, he becomes a Brahmin by virtue of birth was decided by the authorities and their advisers. Thus a person wearing a sacred thread, at times indulged in adharmic (sinful) activities not befitting a Brahmin. In course of time the community faced deterioration and with that the total humanity.

 

Stanza 3.

 

oru jathiyil ninnallo

piranneedunnu santhati

narajathiyithorkkumbol

oru jathiyilullatham.

 

It is from one species young ones are born.

Human race if contemplated belong to one species.

 

Progeny is the result of union between man and woman. From this point, it can be interpreted that all humans belong to the same caste. In other words birth cannot determine a caste since all are born the same way.

 

Stanza 4.

 

narajathiyil ninnathre

piranneedunnu vipranum

parayanthanu menthullathan

tharam narajathiyil?

 

It is from human race Brahmin is born.

What is the difference for a Pariah, who also takes birth in human race.

 

Both the high-caste Brahmin and the lowest caste Pariah, are both born in the same caste, Human-caste. What distinction is there between two humans? This shows that there are no two castes- but just one.

 

Stanza 5.

 

parachiyil ninnu pandu

parasara mahamuni

pirannu mara suthricha muni

kaivartha kanyayil.

 

Sage Parasara, of the ancient days, was born of a Pariah-woman.

 

As also the sage of Vedic-aphorisms (Vedavyasa) was born of a virgin of the fisher-folk.

 

Vedavyasa was the son of sage Parasara and a fisher-woman (Satyavati), on whom he had an infatuation. The story of the sage Parasara and Vedavyasa show that all men belong to the same caste and birth is inconsequential. Otherwise they would not have become sages.

 

Stanza 6.

 

Illajatiyilonnundo

vallathum bhetamorkkukil

chollerum vyaktibhagathi-

lalle bhetamirunnidoo?

 

The distinctions or differences propagated by the caste system does not exist. These are created by individuals with vested interests. Distinctions exist only at the individual level.

 

Cows belong to the same (bovine) species. Similarly, humanity is the caste of humans. The distinction between individuals do not arise from caste. The classification should be based on their level of knowledge. ie. the knowledgeable and the ignorant, or on the basis of their cultural achievement. Cultured and not cultured, and so on. These differences have nothing to do with their birth.

 

The war against caste that was initiated by the Gurudeva, without bloodshed, has attracted the attention of the whole world.