The Part 1 of this write up can be read here which introduces the reader to the business of religious conversion by Christian missionaries, and how to refute a few common conversion tactics. We continue with more conversion tactics and how to refute them :
Conversion Tactic # “Create guilty feeling of caste”
In this tactic, the preacher tries to impress upon you a guilty feeling of caste.
Missionary Preacher: There are many incidents reported in newspapers (shows clippings) about how upper caste Hindus discriminate against lower caste Hindus. Caste in Hinduism is dividing people. Christianity on the other hand doesn’t have inequality.
Hindu Refuting: Let me quote a few Bible verses that endorse slavery:
- Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5)
- Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2)
- If a man hits his male or female slave in the eye and the eye is blinded, he must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. And if a man knocks out the tooth of his male or female slave, he must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth. (Exodus 21:26-27)
- Also Deuteronomy 20:10-11; 1 Corinthians 7:20,21; Colossians 3:22 etc.
Bible was used as endorsement and basis by Europeans to trade African origin Blacks as slaves for more than 4 centuries. They were chained, exported in ships in inhuman conditions from Africa/Europe to US. Discrimination against Blacks still continues till date in incidents like Ferguson shooting etc., despite strict laws.
Ebenezer Warren, pastor of First Baptist Church of Macon, Georgia, in a sermon titled ‘Scriptural Vindication of Slavery‘ mentioned both Christianity and slavery are from heaven; both are blessings to humanity; both are to be perpetuated till the end of time. Later, Martin Luther King Jr, who took inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi, fought the slavery in Bible. There are also 45000 various denominations in Christianity as well. Coming to Hindu Dharma, can you answer some questions:
Can you quote any Hindu scripture that endorses untouchability? As there is no Hindu scripture that endorses untouchability.
Can you quote any Hindu scripture that refers to the word “Caste”? There is no such word ‘Caste’ or its equivalent in any Hindu scripture.
Can you quote any Hindu scripture that classifies castes as Upper and Lower Castes? No such word CASTE exists as well as no classification of Upper and Lower caste exists in any Hindu scripture. There are only 4 Varnas that are divinely ordained and which work exactly opposite to present-day castes.
Do you know of any scripture that divinely ordains all 3500 castes instead of only 4 Varnas? None exists. Caste is social stratification and it only means occupation / inherited occupation.
Only Varna is divinely ordained. Varna derived from root word “Vrinja” means choice, as in “SwayamVar”(Self Opted). A person will have 4 Varnas to choose from but can opt to embrace one Varna. Varna is NOT birth-based and it is determined based on ‘trigunas’ (innate qualities) and actions. There is no hierarchy of superior or inferior in Varna and everyone is eligible for moksha.
Many scriptural references exist, but here are a few scriptural references in support:
- Amritasya Putra (Shvetashvatara Upanishad Chapter 2 verse 5) addresses all humans as sparks of immortal divinity. Classification of only 4 Varnas (works opposite to caste system) :
- chātur-varnyammayāsṛiṣhṭaṁguṇa-karma-vibhāgaśhaḥtasyakartāramapimāṁviddhyakartāramavyayam (BhagavadGita Chapter 4, Verse 13) -The four Varna categories were created by me according to a person’s innate qualities and actions. Although I am the creator of this system, know me to be the non-doer and eternal.
Varna determined based on Trigunas and not by birth
- brahmanakshatriyavishamshudranam cha parantapakarmanipravibhaktanisvabhavaprabhavairgunah (BhagavadGita Chapter 18, Verse 41) – The duties of the Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras—are classified according to their work based on one’s natural innate qualities / trigunas (and not by birth).
No hierarchy of superior or inferior and all Varnas are capable of attaining enlightenment
sva-karma-nirataḥsiddhiṁyathāvindati tach chhṛiṇu (BhagavadGita Chapter 18, Verse 45) -By fulfilling their duties, born of their innate qualities, human beings can attain enlightenment (moksha). Now hear from me how one can become enlightened by discharging one’s duties and says next verse below.
sva-karmaṇā tam abhyarchyasiddhiṁvindatimānavaḥ (Bhagavadgita Chapter 18, Verse 46) -By performing one’s duties based on natural innate qualities, one worships the Creator from whom all living entities have come into being, and by whom the whole universe is pervaded. By such performance of work, a person easily attains enlightenment (moksha)
Migration within Varnas
Manusmriti 10.65 says that Brahmin can become Shudra and Shudra can become Brahmin. Similarly, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas can also change Varnas.
No Varna is superior or inferior
Rigveda Mandala-5, Sukta-60, Mantra-5 says
“AjyesthaasoAkanisthaasaYeteSam hraataroVaavrudhuhSoubhagaya”‘No one is superior or inferior; all are brothers; all should strive for the interest of all and progress collectively’.
Shantiparva in Mahabharat says
“Na VisheshostiVarnanaamSarvamBraahmyamidamJagatBrahmanaapoorvaSristhim hi KarmabhihVarnataamGatam.” There are no distinctions of varnas. Divine consciousness is omnipresent in the world. It was Brahmanic entirely at first. The Varnas have emerged in consequence of one’s actions
Shankara Digvijaya Adi Shankaracharya said
“JanmanaaJaayateShudrahSanskaraatDwijaUcchateVedapaathiBhavetViprah Brahma janaatiBrahmanah“. By birth all are Shudras only. By actions men become Dwija (twice-born). By reading the Vedas one becomes Vipra and becomes Brahman by gaining the knowledge of God.”
PurushaSukta also mentions 4 Varnas but never says its based by birth or has hierarchy of superior or inferior.
Historical examples (many exists but few are quoted):
- Valmiki who wrote original Ramayana was born hunter and became Rishi; Aitreya born to Daasa wrote Aitreya Brahman & Aitreya Upanishad and became Rishi; Vishwamitra who gifted Gayatri mantra to world was a king and became Rishi; Raavana (Ramayana) born to Pulatsya Rishi became King; Ailush born to Daasi became Rishi; Satyakaam Jaabaal, son of prostitute was initiated into Gayathri mantra, was also officiating priest and adviser in Ayodhya royalty, became Rishi; Parishad was son of King Daksha became Shudra and later did Tapasya and achieved Salvation; Nabhag son of King Nedishtha became Vaishya; Drisht son of Nabhag (Vaishya) became Brahmin and so on.
- Krishna Dwaipayana (Veda Vyasa) born out of Brahmin father & Fisherwoman wrote Vedas, became Rishi. You may argue its father that matters, but consider example of Vyasa (Rishi) fathered Dritarashtra for Ambika (daughter of queen), Pandu for Ambalika (daughter of queen) and Vidura for Daasi (Servant lady); both Dristarashtra and Pandu were Kshatriyas but Vidura was Shudra. Vidura was most respected next to Krishna for his great Vidura Neethi. Father or mother is insignificant when opting to embrace Varna.
- Ekalavya was cousin of Krishna and was denied archery by Dronacharya not because of being low-caste but due to his enmity with Hasthinapur. Ekalavya also helped Jarasand to fight against Krishna. Karna is soot putra but that doesn’t mean low born, but actually well-respected. He was denied training because of doubts over his being well-trained in being a King.
- Fact that Hindus still revere Veda Vyasa, Valmiki, Shabari, Bhakta Kannappa and many non-brahmin saints that are part of Bhakti movement such as Tukaram, Kabirdas (more than 50 of them) is a reflection of the fact that one’s Birth is insignificant.
- Present Brahmin Caste name is misnomer (wrongly labelled by British colonial administrator Risley), they are rather called Iyers, Iyengars, Purohits, Vaidikis, Karanas etc.
Arvind Sharma, professor at McGill University, says that caste rigidity and discrimination emerged around 1 CE. It was challenged in 1200 CE by Bhakti movement equally by both Non-Brahmin Saints (Kabirdas, Tukaram and over 50 others) as well as by great Acharyas such as Ramanuja, Madhva, Basava etc. Many powerful empires led by Shudras (such as Kakatiyas) also emerged at that time. Again birth-based caste system became rigid during British colonial period and remained so until now.
Herbert Risley, a colonial era ‘race scientist’ (Race science classifies various African, Europe races into more evolved and less evolved by misusing Darwin’s theory of evolution) carried out the first census of Bharat, categorizing everyone by caste. Risley in his census report mentioned that he had to educate many Hindus about what their caste was, as many community leaders mentioned they didn’t fit into Risley’s definition of caste.
Scientific evidence provided by genetic research supports the ancient scriptural absence of a birth-based caste system. Banning of inter-marriage in pursuance of endogamy is a fundamental marker of this birth-based caste system. Various scientific papers published in journals such as the American Journal of Human Genetics, Nature and the National Academy of Sciences Journal, have established that inter-breeding among different genetic groups in Bharat was extremely common for thousands of years until it stopped around 0 CE to 400 CE.
Dr B R Ambedkar in his paper ‘CASTES IN INDIA: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development’ presented at Columbia University mentions the following:
“…To say that individuals make up society is trivial; society is always composed of classes. It may be an exaggeration to assert the theory of class-conflict, but the existence of definite classes in a society is a fact. Their basis may differ. They may be economic or intellectual or social, but an individual in a society is always a member of a class.
This critical evaluation of the various characteristics of Caste leave no doubt that prohibition, or rather the absence of intermarriage—endogamy, to be concise—is the only one that can be called the essence of Caste when rightly understood….
……As for myself I do not feel puzzled by the Origin of Caste in India for, as I have established before, endogamy is the only characteristic of Caste and when I say Origin of Caste I mean The Origin of the Mechanism for Endogamy.”
Hindu Dharma that preaches oneness of Divine and living beings never supports discrimination and hierarchy.