(This articles is derived from ideas in Kanchi Paramacharya’s Deivattin Kural and from Sringeri Acharya’s teachings. Kindly excuse any mistakes or inaccuracies by me.)
Some persons get offended by the very word Sudra. They feel that it is a bad word. In Smrutis-Sastras, the Sudra varna is supposed to be a working class, mostly doing physical work like farming, agriculture, house building etc. It is not an inferior caste but a varna having different type of works. A large number of castes are grouped under Sudra Varna. They are not called as Sudras but by their caste names like Mudaliars, Pillai, Gounders etc. Similarly for Vaisyas and Kshatrias. Even Brahmins have a large number of sub castes but they are generally called as Brahmins and not by their particular caste name.
Some 300 or more years back, the Brahmins led a highly disciplined life and they were like fire compared to other castes. If we see from that context, we can see how the Sastra witer Rishis were fully justified in all their rules. But from today’s perspective when Brahmins have given up their disciplined life and started living like Sudras, the Sastra rules appear discriminatory and not just. But even today nothing prevents any Brahmin from living a highly disciplined life as ordained by Sastras. The administrative rules in Sastras do not hold today as laws have changed and to that extend the Brahmins will have to adopt while still leading a Brahmana type of life.
To illustrate the above, I give some basic Sastra rules, (B) for Brahmins and (S) for Sudras.
- WORK: B – Veda chanting, Veda preservation, Scriptural studies, studying other disciplines and teaching to other castes. Performing Yagas (sacrifices) for individual and common good.
- S – Doing all types of physical work with dignity.Helping other caste in their efforts. Offering services.
- EARNING: B – By Daana (donations) from other castes or other Brahmins, by endowments and charities by Kings and landlords and other rich persons. As Veda chanting is done for common good, they do not get individual salaries from any one except Dakshina for some performances on one off basis.
- S – They are paid for the services done. They are employed under other castes and get periodic salaries in cash or kind.
- LIFE STYLE: B- get up before 5 AM. Bath. Morning Sandya etc. Pujas, Bramha Yagya, Veda chanting, teaching others, conducting Sacrifices. Noon Bath, Madyanikam, Veda chanting, teaching, evening bath, Sandya etc. No after noon sleep is allowed. Strict rules in dressing and hair arrangement apply.
- S – No rigid rules apply. But the whole day they do work for others for salary. No rules of bathing, no rituals prescribed.
- FOOD: B – strict restrictions apply. Vegetarian food avoiding Onion, Garlic, hot spices, some vegetables like drumstick, radish etc. Food to be prepared under pure conditions, offered to God and then only taken. Only two meals allowed in a day. No breakfast or evening tiffin etc. No food older than 6 hours or so. No fermented drinks. No eating with holding food in hand or while standing. No outside food allowed. Strict fasting on Ekadasi and other Vrata days.
- S – very few restrictions apply. Beef and pork not allowed. No timing or frequency. Purity not specified. Any food any where any time is allowed. No need for in-house food.
- WORSHIP: B – generally worshipped Vedic Gods through various rituals and sacrifices. Temple worship also was there but in-house rituals were given priority. Vedanta studies and Spiritual aspiration encouraged.
- S – Mostly worshipped various village gods and Temple worship of Siva, Visnu, Durga, Pillayar, Murugan, Kali etc. More involvement with Bhakti. No one prevented them from Vedanta studies or Yoga, Siddha etc. The large number of books in Tamil, Kannada, Telugu etc on these subjects written several centuries back is a proof of this.
- COMMON DHARMAS: Be good, do good, do not kill or steal or rape or have other’s wife etc. No falsehood, no cheating, no harming other beings excepts as part of food or sacrifice. Marriages to be in-same-caste only. ALL THESE ARE DHARMAS COMMON TO ALL CASTES.
iF YOU SCAN THE ABOVE RULES, THEN WE EASILY SEE THAT TODAY, BRAHMINS HAVE ADOPTED MOST OF THE S rules as their own and forgotten their B rules! No wonder we see Sastras as being distorted and not just!
If you want to live more like a Brahmin, then be ready to change your job to satisfy the living conditions and timings, be ready for lesser salary and be ready for simple living, and take guidance from Sat sangh. Give up material life full of sense pleasures and come to spiritual living.
Paramacharya of Kanchi says that in olden days more Sudras got attracted with Brahmin ways of living and started adopting Brahmin styles. But today the situation is exactly reverse.