Vedas and Shudras
Dr Vivek Arya
There is a quite common doubt regarding the Vedas that they discriminate Shudras from upper castes. This doubt needs urgent clarification because there are many lobbies working day and night to misguide the Dalits of our country.
First of all it is wrong to consider the term Shudras as equivalent to Dalits. The word Dalit means any person whose rights have been suppressed. Following this definition the whole Hindu community is Dalit. Since last 1200 Years Hindus have been facing continuous persecution and forcible conversion by Islamic/Christian invaders. Their rights were suppressed and they faced all sorts of tortures. So, all Hindus are Dalits. Now we come to word Shudra.
Vedic philosophy believes in Varna Vyavastha. A system of four class division based on qualities of a person. The four classes were Brahman (learned/scholar), Kshatriya ( ruler/defending warrior), Vaishya (business class) and Shudra (worker). A shudra was a class of person whose duty was to help all three class in their respective duties. This class was assigned to any person who was unable to read, unable to govern and unable to bring prosperity. It is entirely different from caste system.
Caste system became popular in middle ages. It is based on the basis of birth order. Varna is decided after completion of studies while Caste is decided with birth. Varna is issued by the teacher of a student. Caste system is decided by the family caste. The motive of Varna is issuing right job to right person. The side effect of Caste system is to ignore the qualities and appoint an unfit person on an important job.The caste system paralyzed the whole Hindu society. It divided them, weakened their social architecture, ignored the talented persons and thus ruined it completely. This was the main reason why Hindus in-spite of large number fell like an easy prey in front of the invaders. Varna system permitted equal opportunities for everyone while caste system forbid equal rights. Caste system favored birth based Brahmans and ignored the rights of Shudras.
In similar way Caste system also denied the reading of the Vedas by Shudras. This idea became popular in middle ages. The priesthood class completely denied the teachings of the Vedas to all four Varna and restricted Vedas only to their families.
Interestingly they even ignored the message of the Vedas. Readers will feel pride when they learn the truth. The Vedas permit equal opportunity to read for everyone including Shudras. The middle age Acharyas like Sayana, Mahidhara were orthodox in their approach. They didn’t propagate the message of equality in the Vedas. Only Swami Dayanand the famous commentator of Vedas propagated the rights of Shudras in the Vedas.The word Shudras is mentioned in Vedas for about 20 times. Its nowhere mentioned in denigrating and inferior way.
The Vedas no where deny Shudras the right to read Vedas.
The Vedas no where consider Shudras as untouchables.
The Vedas no where consider Shudras as inferior.
The self testimony of the Vedas will prove my stand.
Yajurveda 26 /2 God says O! Humans i gift you with this blissful knowledge of Vedas for all Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya as well as Shudra. This knowledge is for benefit of everyone.
[God do not deny the knowledge of Vedas for Shudras. Shudras enjoys equal right to read Vedas as a Brahman. ]
Atharveda 19/62/1 I pray to God that O God! Let all Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras glorify me.
[Vedas do not discriminate between different classes.They consider everyone as equal.]
Yajurveda 18/46 says that O God make me so gentle that all Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras have affection for me.
[Vedas speak of good relations with all four classes]
Rigveda 5/60/5 says There is no one superior or inferior in the Vedas. All are equal just like brothers.All should help each other to attain the pleasures of this as well as the other world.
[This mantra considers all humans as equal irrespective of their duties.]
These are few Vedic mantra from the Vedas which prove that Vedas do permit Shudras the right to Read,Learn and Propagate.