Brahmins are not a Privileged Caste
(HinduDharma: Part 10, Jyotisa (9 chapters))

It is alleged that Brahmins created the dharmasastras for their own benefit. You will realise that this charge is utterly baseless if you appreciate the fact that these sastras impose on them the most stringent rules of life. There is also proof of the impartiality of the dharmasastras in that the Brahmin who is expected to be proficient in all the arts and all branches of learning can only give instruction in them but cannot take up any for his livelihood however lucrative it be and however less demanding than the pursuit of the Vedic dharma.

Now it is claimed that all people are equal in all spheres, that all are equal before the law. But members of legislative bodies, judges, etc, enjoy certain privileges and cannot be treated on the same footing as the common man. These privileges have indeed been codified. If anyone criticises a judge he will be charged with contempt of court. Even I may be hauled up for contempt for my remarks. People who call themselves democrats and socialists have managed for themselves special allowances, special railway passes, etc, that the common people are not entitled to. In contrast, the Brahmins who have preserved the dharmasastras have bound themselves to vigorous discipline, roasted themselves, as it were, in the oven of ritual practices. If the Brahmin's purity is affected by someone he punishes himself by bathing and fasting.

The Brahmin must be conversant with the fourteen branches of the Vedic lore. He must be proficient even in Gandharva-veda or music and must be acquainted with agricultural science, construction of houses, etc. At the same time he must give instructions in these subjects to pupils from the appropriate castes. His own vocation is the study of the Vedas and he must have no other source of income.

Visvamitra was the master of Dhanurveda (military science). When he performed sacrifices, the demons Subahu and Marica tried to play havoc with them. Though a great warrior himself he did not try to drive away the demons himself. Instead, he brought Rama and Laksmana for the purpose. Visvamitra thereafter gave the instruction to the two in the use of astras and sastras.

If the Brahmin is asked, "Do you know to wield a knife? " he must be able to answer, "Yes, I know". If he is asked, "Do you know to draw and paint" again he must say, "Yes". But he cannot wield a knife or become an artist to earn his livelihood. All he can do is to learn these arts and teach others the same according to their caste. He is permitted to receive a daksina to maintain himself and he must be contented with it however small the sum may be. The Brahmin's speciality' his true vocation, is Vedic learning.

If members of certain castes are seen to enjoy certain privileges there must be some reason for the same. The man selling tickets has a room to himself and those who buy them have to stand outside and cannot complain about it saying that the practice offends against the principle of equality. If everybody gets in on the pretext of equality how can the ticket seller function? Will the man be able to sell the tickets properly? Everybody needs some special convenience to carry out his duties. A member of a joint family who falls ill has to be afforded certain special comforts- other members are not justified in demanding the same. In our religion there are many duties and rites that are common to all. But to carry out one's special duties certain conveniences are needed: as a matter of fact what are called conveniences are actually not conveniences or privileges, and also they are necessary to carry out the duties of the caste concerned for the welfare of the society as the whole. It is important to accept this truth: the special dharma of any jati is meant not only for those who constitute that jati but for society as a whole.

Love must spring from the heart, so too the sense of unity. Unity is not achieved by all jatis becoming one. What do we see in Western countries where intermarriage is not prohibited and where all people mix together? There is much rivalry and jealousy among people there. According to our sastras, everyone in the past performed his duty and helped others to perform theirs and this was how they remain united. The daughter-in-law does not speak to the father-in-law out of respect for him. Would you call such respect ill-will? If someone close to us and belonging to our own caste has some "pollution", we do not touch him. Does it mean that we dislike him? It seems we all are mentally confused and do not have a proper appreciation of our different dharmas.

"Hindu Dharma" is a book which contains English translation of certain invaluable and engrossing speeches of Sri Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi MahaSwamiji (at various times during the years 1907 to 1994).
For a general background, please see here