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Sunday, 16 April 2017

The Scriptural Sanction for Caste-Based Discrimination in Hinduism. Part VII.


The Scriptural Sanction for Caste-Based Discrimination in Hinduism. Part VII


The Scriptural Sanction for Caste-Based Discrimination in Hinduism

Part VII

The Bhagavad Gita, As It REALLY Is

BG5: Detailed Exposition: The Nature of the Shudras

Written by Dr. Seshadri Kumar, 16 April, 2017


Bhagavad Gita Series Abstract

This series on the Bhagavad Gita is part of a larger series of articles which examine the important question: Is caste-based discrimination in Hindu society an intrinsic part of Hinduism? Is it sanctioned in Hindu scripture? Or is it simply a social custom arrived at by distorting the scriptures?

A key attendant question is: Is caste, according to Hindu scripture, a rigid status that accrues to an individual only by virtue of birth in that caste, and hence unchangeable during that person's life? Or, is it a more fluid descriptor of a person that can change during a person's lifetime? In other words, is caste birth-based, or can it be earned?

To examine this question, I investigated every verse in the Bhagavad Gita that has any relationship to the issue of varNa, the overarching concept that contains the concept of caste, and subjected each of these verses to a detailed analysis, using both the literal meaning of the Sanskrit shlOkas as well as the commentaries of highly respected commentators on these verses. I viewed the verses both in isolation and in the overall context of the Bhagavad Gita, as well as in the overall context of Hindu theology and philosophy. The results of my study are presented in this seven-part series (BG1 to BG7), which is part of my larger series on caste in Hinduism.

I conclude that caste and caste-based discrimination are fundamental to the very foundation of Hinduism as expressed in the Bhagavad Gita.

They are not a distortion of the scriptures of Hinduism. Far from being an added social custom, the birth-based caste system is at the very basis of Hindu thought.

The caste system, as seen today, is largely a faithful representation of Lord Krishna’s words and intended meaning in the Bhagavad Gita. The central arguments in the Bhagavad Gita itself would collapse without the support of caste-based discrimination. The system, therefore, is expressly sanctioned in the Bhagavad Gita.

In this seven-part series, I present the original Sanskrit text of each verse discussed, its transliteration, its word-by-word meaning, its free translation, and the commentaries of six major interpreters of the Gita: Adi Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharya, Madhvacharya, Shridhara Swami, Acharya Keshava Kashmiri, and Sant Jnaneshwar. Based on all these, I draw overall meanings for each verse, and overall conclusions for each group of verses. Finally, I draw overall conclusions on the scriptural sanction for caste-based discrimination in the Bhagavad Gita.

A concise summary of the ideas in the Gita discussed in this seven-part series can be found in BG0 (Part II of the larger series.)


Current Article Abstract

In previous articles of this series, I have shown how, according to Krishna’s teaching in the Gita, human beings are possessed of different fundamental qualities (guNas) in different quantities – sattva (goodness), rajas (passion and activity), and tamas (darkness and ignorance). We have also seen how sattva corresponds to the varNa of Brahmins; rajas to Kshatriyas; a combination of rajas and tamas, with rajas predominating, to Vaishyas; and a combination of rajas and tamas, with tamas predominating, to Shudras.

In this part of the series, BG5, I share verses from the Gita where Krishna explains what the nature of a person whose soul is dominated by tamas, i.e., a Shudra, is like.

In brief, the Shudra, according to Krishna’s teachings, possesses the worst of all qualities of humankind – untrustworthy, unkind, wicked, evil, lustful, lazy, superstitious, covetous, etc. In addition, he is refractory to learning, and always misunderstands teachings to be the opposite of what their true meaning is, and thus education is not only wasted on such a person, but positively dangerous.

It is no wonder that such people are denied any occupation other than servitude, given that they are believed to possess such an overwhelming preponderance of negative qualities.


Table of Contents

Sources, Methodology, Transliteration Scheme, and Numbering Scheme
The Nature of the Shudras
Overall Conclusions: The Nature of the Shudras
Chapter 14, Verse 13
Original Sanskrit Shloka
Transliteration
Word-by-word Translation
Free Translation
Commentaries
Shridhara
Ramanuja
Keshava Kashmiri
Jnaneshwar
Chapter 14, Verse 17
Original Sanskrit Shloka
Transliteration
Word-by-word Translation
Free Translation
Commentaries
Shridhara
Madhva
Ramanuja
Keshava Kashmiri
Adi Shankara
Jnaneshwar
Chapter 18, Verse 22
Original Sanskrit Shloka
Transliteration
Word-by-word Translation
Free Translation
Commentaries
Shridhara
Madhva
Ramanuja
Keshava Kashmiri
Adi Shankara
Jnaneshwar
Chapter 18, Verse 25
Original Sanskrit Shloka
Transliteration
Word-by-word Translation
Free Translation
Commentaries
Shridhara
Madhva
Ramanuja
Keshava Kashmiri
Adi Shankara
Jnaneshwar
Chapter 18, Verse 28
Original Sanskrit Shloka
Transliteration
Word-by-word Translation
Free Translation
Commentaries
Shridhara
Madhva
Ramanuja
Keshava Kashmiri
Adi Shankara
Jnaneshwar
Chapter 18, Verse 32
Original Sanskrit Shloka
Transliteration
Word-by-word Translation
Free Translation
Commentaries
Shridhara
Ramanuja
Keshava Kashmiri
Jnaneshwar
Chapter 18, Verse 35
Original Sanskrit Shloka
Transliteration
Word-by-word Translation
Free Translation
Commentaries
Shridhara
Madhva
Ramanuja
Keshava Kashmiri
Adi Shankara
Jnaneshwar
Chapter 18, Verse 39
Original Sanskrit Shloka
Transliteration
Word-by-word Translation
Free Translation
Commentaries
Shridhara
Ramanuja
Keshava Kashmiri
Jnaneshwar
Acknowledgments
Caste-Based Discrimination in Hinduism - The Full Series
Indexes


Sources, Methodology, Transliteration Scheme, and Numbering Scheme

The methodology and sources used for the analysis of the verses in the Bhagavad Gita have been already presented in Part III, including brief backgrounds of the commentators and their philosophical leanings. The overall framework of this entire series has been presented in Part I of this series. The transliteration scheme used here can be seen in Part II of the series. A Glossary can also be found in Part II.

The overall conclusion for this set of verses is first presented, followed by a discussion of individual verses and their meanings.

The numbering scheme followed in this entire "Caste Discrimination in Hinduism" series is that each article has an number in the overall sequence of articles in the "Caste Discrimination in Hinduism" series, represented by Roman numerals. Within the larger series, individual series articles, dealing with individual scriptures, are numbered using scripture initials and Arabic numerals. For instance, the articles in the Bhagavad Gita series are numbered as BGN, where N is the number of the article in the Bhagavad Gita series.


Verses on the Nature of the Shudras

So far, we have seen:

  • In Part III, the proscription against inter-varNa unions and the resultant production of “unwanted, mixed-varNa children” because they would destroy the social order of Hindu society;
  • In Part IV, how Krishna talks about how He created the four varNas, and how human souls take birth in these different varNas, based on the karmas of their past lives, and the resultant guNa imprints on their AtmAs; and how individuals are solely responsible for their births in whatever varNa they end up being born, not the Lord;
  • In Part V, how an AtmA’s future births are based on his past karmas and the guNas attached to his soul; what attachments are created by the three guNas and how they attach themselves to the soul; and how these guNas result in a person being born in a higher birth (e.g., Brahmin) or a lower birth (e.g., Shudra); specifically, and most relevant to this part, how the AtmAs of Brahmins are dominated by sattva guNa; how the Atmas of Kshatriyas have a preponderance of rajas guNa; how the AtmAs of Vaishyas have a mixture of raja guNa and tama guNa; and how the Atmas of Shudras have a preponderance of tamas guNa attached to them - thereby creating a direct correspondence between Shudras and tamas guNa;
  • In Part VI, what the duties of the different varNas are; how a Brahmin should be serene, pure, knowledgeable in the Vedas, and the like; how a Kshatriya should be heroic and show firm leadership; how a Vaishya should engage in agriculture, cow protection, and trade; how a Shudra should engage in the service of the other three varNas without complaining; how all these duties have been determined in accordance with their inborn natures, because of actions performed in millions of past births; how one’s salvation (in karma yOga) consists in performing his varNa duties as described by Krishna to the best of his ability; how this should be done without selfishness and as an offering to God; how one must never perform the duty (dharma) meant for another varNa; and that it is superior to perform one’s own dharma, even if one is unable to perform it well, to performing the dharma of another varNa, even if one can do that dharma perfectly.

In many of the commentaries thus far, we have seen how the commentators have reiterated that the Shudras do not deserve education; that they should not be taught the Vedas.

One might be tempted to argue that this is merely the interpretation of scholars and saints who, though great souls, were still trapped by the social context of their times – that the prohibition on education has not been explicitly stated by the Lord Himself.

This part of the series is intended to answer that objection.

We already know, from the previous discussions, that Shudras are those whose souls are strongly tainted by the guNa of tamas, and only one level removed from animals. What effect does this high level of tamas have on a person? One does not have to guess, for Krishna explains in detail the effects of tamas in the Gita. Some of this has already been in discussed in previous shlOkas, such as 14-8 and 14-9, but the following verses make things very clear indeed. While the shlOkas in this part do not actually mention Shudras, Krishna has already made it very clear in the verses quoted in Part V that there is a one-to-one correspondence between the guNa of tamas and the Shudra varNa. The shlOkas describing the tama guNa, therefore, can be assumed to be descriptive of Shudras with no error, as only they, among the four varNas, posssess tamas in abundance.

Since the shlOkas are fairly straightforward, I will not explain the “Overall Meaning” of each shlOka by looking at the translation and the commentaries. I will summarize the import of all the shlOkas in the “Overall Conclusion” section.

Overall Conclusion: The Nature of the Shudras

If you believed that some people were born with these qualities, as the Gita clearly does, why would you bother giving them an education?

After all, if they regard good as bad and bad as good, and have wicked souls, it would be positively dangerous to give them an education, because chances are that they would misrepresent the teachings of God and twist them around for evil if they were educated. And it also stands to reason that they should never be allowed to rise in society.

In fact, they should always be kept in their place and not even allowed to raise their voice, because they could cause much evil in society.

The influence of such verses in perpetuating caste-based discrimination and cruelty is obvious.

On whose door can we lay the blame for the ill-treatment of the Shudras and Dalits over millenia, except on Hindu religion and scripture, when the scripture says such terrible things about them?

In Part V, we have seen that the Shudras are supposed to be strongly imbued with the tama guNa; that this is a consequence of their actions in millions of past births. Because of one’s bad deeds and poor choices in previous births, the qualities of his guNas gets progressively degraded, and he is born with a preponderance of tamas in the jIvas he is born into. What are the consequences of a tamas-ridden jIva? What is the nature of the Shudra?

The eight verses in this appendix give a very clear answer.

The Shudras, as they are dominated by the guNa of tamas, are ignorant, negligent, forgetful, lazy, wicked, irrational, whimsical, close-minded, obstinate, reckless, destructive, violent, deceptive, overbearing, morose, vulgar, vain, inert, careless, vile, unrefined, deceitful, arrogant, dejected, fearful, sleepy, slothful, irresponsible, foolish, foolhardy, procrastinating, and pretentious. In addition, they regard good as bad and bad as good; unrighteous as righteous and righteous as unrighteous; false as real and real as false; fiction as fact and fact as fiction; worthless as worthy and worthy as worthless; desire what should be rejected and reject what should be desired; and in this way, they are given to misinterpretation of reality. They have an inability to reason; are stagnant in their thinking; are given to engaging in ill-considered action; do not care about the consequences of their actions; live their life in a state of illusion; come to erroneous conclusions about everything; are interested only in sensual enjoyment; are insulting of others; lack self-control; and are always either fearing, dreaming, grieving, or feeling depressed.

If you believed that some people were born with these qualities, as the Gita clearly does, why would you bother giving them an education? After all, if they regard good as bad and bad as good, and have wicked souls, it would be positively dangerous to give them an education, because chances are that they would misrepresent the teachings of God and twist them around for evil if they were educated. And it also stands to reason that they should never be allowed to rise in society. In fact, they should always be kept in their place and not even allowed to raise their voice, because they could cause much evil in society.

Those are the obvious conclusions one comes to if one agrees with the statements in the Gita regarding the guNa of tamas, which Krishna says the Shudras are born with because of their sins in their past lives. The influence of such verses in perpetuating caste-based discrimination and cruelty is obvious.

Although Dalits have not been specifically mentioned in these verses, one should remember that Dalits, such as shvapAkas (mentioned in 5-18, discussed in Part VIII), are considered even lower than Shudras in the Gita, so one can only imagine how low the assessment of their character in those days was.

On whose door can we lay the blame for the ill-treatment of the Shudras and Dalits over millenia, except on Hindu religion and scripture, when the scripture says such terrible things about them?


Chapter 14, Verse 13

Original Sanskrit Shloka

अप्रकाशोऽप्रवृत्तिश्च प्रमादो मोह एव च।
तमस्येतानि जायन्ते विवृद्धे कुरुनन्दन।।

Transliteration

aprakAshO pravRuttis ca pramAdO mOha Eva ca
tamasyE tAni jAyantE vivRuddhE kuru-nandana

Word-by-word Translation

kuru-nandana – O Arjuna, descendant of the Kuru dynasty; aprakAshaha – ignorance; apravRuttihi – inertness; pramAdaha – negligence; mOha Eva ca – and also illusion; EtAni – these; jAyantE – arises; tamasi vivRuddhE – the mode of ignorance predominates.

Free Translation

O Arjuna, ignorance, inertness, negligence, and also illusion – when these arise, the mode of ignorance predominates.

Commentaries

Shridhara

Lord Krishna confirms that the tama guNa, or mode of ignorance, is darkness of knowledge, absence of discrimination, indolence, listlessness, forgetfulness, delusion, and erroneous conclusions. Where such characteristics are seen, it is clear that tama guNa is predominant within a jIva or embodied being.

Ramanuja

Here, Lord Krishna explains what is indicative of tama guNa, or the mode of ignorance. The word aprakAsha means devoid of illumination, nescience, and ignorance. The word apravRuttihi means inertia, lethargy, absence of effort. The word pramAda means madness, fragmentation, propensity for sinful activities. The word mOha means illusion, distortion, and misinterpretation of reality. When tamas is predominant, then delusion and perversion are seen to be rampant in society.

Keshava Kashmiri

Here, Lord Krishna speaks of the indications of tama guNa, or the mode of ignorance with the presence of inertia, indolence, and delusion in the mind and in the senses. The word mOha means absorption in illusion; hence, neglectfulnesss of the teachings of the spiritual master and carelessness in obligatory duties, such as fasting from all grains on ekAdashi, which is the 11th day leading to the new moon and full moon. Listlessness, inactivity and being subject to the illusion of a perverted reality, with distorted impressions giving a false view of life – by all these things one can be seen to be controlled by tama guNa.

Jnaneshwar

The tamas waxes strong after swallowing the rajas and sattva guNas. The signs that then appear inside and outside the body, I now narrate to you, and do hear attentively. The mind in the tamas stage becomes like the sky on an amAvAsya night (the last day of the lunar month), having neither the sun nor the moon. Similarly, the heart becomes blank, inactive and dull, there remaining no vivacity in it, while the language (all vestige) of reasoning is lost. The intellect loses all its elasticity, and becomes so hard that even a stone cannot compare with it, while the memory goes into oblivion. The arrogance of thoughtlessness resounds through the body, while the being goes on performing “give and take” transactions full of sheer foolishness. The bones, in the form of breaches of good manners, give (painful) pricking to the senses, and yet he continues to behave along the same lines, even though it gives mortal agonies. There is one more novel thing about it: the mind of the tamas-ridden being gets enlivened while doing wicked actions, in the way that an owl gets vision in the dark. Similarly, his mind is fired with wild expectations when confronted with the idea of an act that is forbidden, and the senses also go galloping in hot pursuit of the same. In this way, the being staggers without being drunk, raves without being delirious in high fever, and gets infatuated even in the absense of love, like a mad man. He is in an ecstasy which is not, however, due to the mind getting enwrapped in concentrated meditation. In this way, he is possessed by insolent infatuation.

In short, these signs are developed when the tamas waxes stronger and stronger.

Chapter 14, Verse 17

Original Sanskrit Shloka

सत्त्वात्सञ्जायते ज्ञानं रजसो लोभ एव च।
प्रमादमोहौ तमसो भवतोऽज्ञानमेव च।।

Transliteration

sattvAt sanjAyatE jnAnam rajasO lObha Eva ca
pramAda mOhau tamasO bhavatO jnAnam Eva ca

Word-by-word Translation

sattvAt – along the mode of goodness; sanjAyatE – arises together; jnAnam – wisdom; rajasaha – along with the mode of passion; lObhaha – greed; Eva ca – certainly too; tamasaha – from the mode of ignorance; pramAda-mOhau – delusion and illusion; bhavataha – arise; ajnAnam Eva ca – and nescience, too, surely.

Free Translation

Along with goodness arises wisdom; along with the mode of passion, certainly does greed arise; likewise, certainly, along with the mode of ignorance arise delusion, illusion, and nescience.

Commentaries

Shridhara

The cause of the variation in results is being stated by Lord Krishna: that from sattva guNa, or mode of goodness, arises luminosity, the results of which are knowledge and happiness. From raja guNa, or the mode of passion, arise desires, the results of which are greed and suffering. From tama guNa, or the mode of darkness, comes illusion in the form of madness and delusion.

Ramanuja

When those situated in sattva guNa, or the mode of goodness, increase their wisdom to fruition, then Atma tattva, or realization of the immortal soul, becomes a reality. When raja guNa, or the mode of passion, increases in intensity, more and more avid appetites are incited. Similarly when tama guNa, or the mode of ignorance, increases, it manifests itself as perverted understanding and the proclivity to be influenced by wickedness, from which more and more tamas is begotten. Thus, all developement of intelligence is blocked and neutralised.

Keshava Kashmiri

Lord Krishna is explaining that, concerning the guNas, or the three modes of material nature, the variations in the results is attributed to the respective charcterisitics of each quality. The results from sattva guNa, or mode of goodness, is knowledge, which has understanding that is illuminated, and which gives great happiness. The results from raja guNa, or mode of passion, is unabated desire, which incites incessant greed for wealth, and constant hankering for sense gratification, from which comes pain by the endeavor and suffering from the loss. The results from tama guNa, or the mode of ignorance, is nescience and inertia, which causes delusion and forces one to be in the darkness of illusion.

Jnaneshwar

Therefore, O Arjuna, the sattva quality is the root cause of knowledge, in the way that the sun is the cause of the day. And, in the same way, know also that rajas is the cause of grief, in the way that forgetfulness of one’s own self is the cause of duality. Infatuation, nescience, heedlessness (pramAda)—the collection of these three faults springs from the tamas guNa, wise one! I have preached to you separately the different signs of each of the three guNas in a way that would make your discerning power see them clearly, like the Avala fruit placed on an open palm. Thus, the rajas and tamas are observed to be the means leading to man’s moral fall; none but the sattva can lead the individual soul to knowledge. It is on account of this that so many follow the tenets of sattva guNa throughout their life, just as some follow through the path of absolute renunciation—the fourth kind of devotion, (which consists of identification of the individual soul with Supreme Spirit).

Chapter 18, Verse 22

Original Sanskrit Shloka

यत्तु कृत्स्नवदेकस्मिन्कार्ये सक्तमहैतुकम्।
अतत्त्वार्थवदल्पं च तत्तामसमुदाहृतम्।।

Transliteration

yat tu kRutsanavad Ekasmin kAryE saktam ahaitukam
atatvArthavad alpam ca tat tAmasam udAhRutam

Word-by-word Translation

yat – that; tu – by which; saktam – one is engrossed; Ekasmin kAryE – in some fragmental conception; kRutsnavat – as if it encompasses all; ahaitukam – irrational; atatva-arthavat – without knowledge of reality; alpam ca – and whimsically; udAhRutam – is called; tAmasam – the nature of darkness.

Free Translation

That by which one is engrossed in some fragmental conception as if it encompasses all, irrationally, without knowledge of reality, and whimsically, is called the nature of darkness.

Commentaries

Shridhara

Here, Lord Krishna explains that knowledge in tama guNa, or mode of ignorance, is limited to the singular idea of bodily conception, as if the physical body is the actual identity of the jIva, or embodied being. Animals which are driven by instinct are possessed with this ignorance. But believing that the physical body is the be-all and end-all is not consciousness; it is fallacious and irrational, without any connection to reality. Such a misconception is irrelevant and inconsequential, because of possessing an extremely limited scope of existence, and hence produces paltry and meagre results. Such knowledge is in tama guNa.

Madhva

Obstinately clinging to one’s limited viewpoint, without considering the vision of others, is a symptom of tama guNa, the mode of ignorance. Also, if one supposes that after acquiring wisdom and thereafter achieving mOksha, or liberation from material existence, a jIva, or embodied soul, is independent, when in reality even a liberated being is completely dependent and subservient to the Supreme Lord, such a conception would be a great offence and cause demerits. Again, if one assumes that nothing exists beyond the jIva, or embodied being, what one perceives is illusory and unmeritorious. What need then is there to emphasise the fact that the acquisition of illogical hypotheses and untenable suppositions is a source of great degradation.

Now begins the summation.

Irrational consciousness obtained from distorted and perverse conceptions, far removed from perceptions of the ultimate truth, have no benefit for anyone in this life or the next, and are fully situated in tama guNa. There is an aphorism that knowledge must be received from a proper source in the proper order. This being the case, there is no necessity in itemising degraded and depraved conceptions. The cause for such degradation of consciousness is miniscule knowledge and limited understanding, which consequently develop acute unawareness. For a jIva to think of themselves as omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent, and on the same level as the Supreme Lord, or entertain the illusion that they are the same as the Supreme Lord, is the height of folly and completely devoid of all rationality and common sense. Such erroneous conclusions, which stem from irrational consciousness, deprive actual knowledge of its elevated position, and are always immersed in tama guNa. It is seen that those who follow teachings, beliefs, doctrines and philosophies opposed to the eternal and imperishable Vedic scriptures are primarily mayavAdis, or impersonalists, whose religions are designed in such a way that they are bereft of any actual conception of the Supreme Lord to comprehend; and so they either follow a creationist conception without purpose, or a concoct a supreme being without qualities and attributes.

Ramanuja

One who clings to a single activity in a stagnant and obstinate manner, such as the worship of an impersonal conception of God, and considers that such an insignificant activity has the highest perfection in existence, to the exclusion of all other possibilities, without considering any other conception as tenable; and in stagnation, ceases to develop and grow, is the epitome of one shackled in tama guNa. The word ahaitukam means irrational, without reason – imagining that which gives meagre results to be that which gives great results. The words attatva-arthavat means devoid of reality, without substantiation of the Vedic scriptures. The word alpam means limited in scope, and relates to foolish, trivial pagan acts, such as worshiping ghosts and spirits for material power. Thus, Lord Krishna shows how the three guNas, or modes of material nature, have a direct effect on the knowledge possessed by the performer of any action.

Keshava Kashmiri

That knowledge which mechanically clings to the stagnating mentality that there is nothing better than their own conception, that there is nothing more to discover, that there is no other path but theirs, is in the mode of ignorance, or tamas. Those who perform the most trivial types of worship merely for their own selfish goals; who worship impersonal conceptions of God without qualities and attributes; who worship pagan forms symbolising God; who worship ghosts, spirits, goblins and demons; who irrationally dedicate their lives to such mundane delusions without any tangible objective, while foolishly imagining they are accomplishing results of great import; such jIvas, or embodied beings, are inescapably enslaved in tama guNa, the mode of ignorance.

Adi Shankara

tAmasik knowledge is engrossed in one single effect, such as the body or an external idol—as though it were all-encompassing, thinking “this body is the Self,” or “that is God,” and that there is nothing higher than that. jIva (soul), for example, dwelling in the body is regarded by the naked Jains, etc., as being of the size of that body; and Ishvara (God) is regarded (by some) to be a mere stone or piece of wood. This knowledge is not founded on reason, and does not perceive things as they are. Because it is not founded on reason, it is narrow, as extending over a limited area, or as producing very small results. This knowledge is said to be tAmasik, because it is found only in tAmasik beings possessing no faculty of discrimination.

Jnaneshwar

O Arjuna, that knowledge which wanders about naked, stripped of all clothes in the form of scriptural mandates, and therefore, on which the Shruti (Vedas) turns its back, is tAmasik. Being boycotted also by other putative scriptures which, to avoid all contact even of hearing its ill-repute, banish it to the mountain in the form of non-Aryan, i.e. heinous (mlEccha) creed, called false religion. Possessed by this knowledge in this way, the tamas demon roams about like a lunatic (getting mad). This knowledge observes no restrictions in regard to forming bodily contacts and holds no object as prohibited, in the way a stray dog in a desolate village devours everything, except such as cannot (on account of its size) be held in his mouth, or if taken it would only burn his mouth; then only he lets the thing alone. A rat stealing gold (ornaments) takes no account (of the fact) whether it is fine or alloyed; a flesh-eater takes no account whether the flesh is (of) fair or dark (animals); the conflagration in a forest does not discriminate while burning the forest growth; and a fly sitting (on a body) does not care to see if it is dead or alive. A crow does not consider if his find is vomit or served food, or whether it is fresh or completely rotten. In that way, while dealing with objects, this knowledge has no discretion to abandon what is prohibited, and to accept only what is permitted by the scriptures. Whatever such a demon sees, he takes it as intended for enjoyment; if it happens to be a woman or riches, he assigns them to the male generative organ or the stomach respectively.

He does not know how to discriminate between holy and unholy waters; quenching his thirst and feeling happy is all he cares for. Similar is the case with regard to eatables and non-eatables, or forbidden and unforbidden. He believes that whatever is agreeable to the palate is holy and pure. As regards womenfolk, the only relation through which he can understand them is the sense of touch; he knows (entertains) no other idea about them except one, viz., sexual enjoyment. Whoever serves his selfish purpose is alone considered as a relative, blood relationship being no consideration at all with such knowledge. Death devours all, as also the fire consumes all; in the same way, tamas knowledge considers the entire world as its own wealth. Thus, to one who considers the entire universe as only an object of enjoyment, its only end and purpose is the preservation (feeding) of his body. The sea is the only final place of repose for the water descending down from the sky (clouds); in the same way, all the endeavours of tAmasik knowledge culminate in the feeding of his belly. The tAmasik knowledge is ever in the dark with regard to the realization of the fact that there are in existence places like Heaven and Hell, or the desirability of securing Heaven and avoiding Hell. That knowledge does not extend beyond accepting the body (mortal frame) as the soul, and the stone idol as God. According to that knowledge, the soul dies (disappears) together with all its actions at the fall of the body, and then there remains no one to endure the repercussions of one’s actions.

Further (according to this understanding), if the existence of God is presumed, and if it is accepted that He dispenses pleasure and pain to the people according to their acts, then that very God is fit to be sold away and the proceeds used for subsistence. If the (stone) idols of God in the village temple should be taken as ruling (the universe), would the mountains in the country remain idle (i.e., the mountains have a far superior claim to rule the universe vis-a-vis the stone idols)? – asks the tAmasik knowledge. Further, if the existence of God is somehow accepted, then that God must be taken to be a stone and the soul the body. That knowledge thus regards merit, sin, and other things as bare lies, and further regards as always beneficial the enjoyment of objects, devouring all like the wild fire. According to the experience (of that knowledge) only objects that are perceptible to the physical eye and are palatable (pleasing) to the senses are real. In short, O Arjuna, such a line of thinking goes on widening to such an extent, that it proves unavailing, like the coil of smoke ascending the sky; like the vigorous shoot of pith, whether dry or fresh, getting overgrown and broken; like the ear of corn of a sugarcane; like a neuter amongst men; like a pasture of prickly pear; like the mind of a child; like the riches in the house of a thief; and like the nipples hanging down from the neck of a she-goat.

Knowledge unavailing like all these, and lustreless in appearance, I call as tamas-knowledge. The very name “knowledge” given to it carries no greater sense than that attached to the broad “eyes” in the case of one born blind, or to the fine “ears” in the case of one deaf, or to the term “drink” applied to wine. In that way the term knowledge, applied to tamas, is only a misnomer.

Well, how far to proceed with this! Such tAmasik knowledge is no real knowledge at all. It is only a visual darkness.

Chapter 18, Verse 25

Original Sanskrit Shloka

अनुबन्धं क्षयं हिंसामनपेक्ष्य च पौरुषम्।
मोहादारभ्यते कर्म यत्तत्तामसमुच्यते।।

Transliteration

anubandham kshayam himsAm anapEkshya ca pauruSham
mOhAd ArabhyatE karma yat tat tAmasam ucyatE

Word-by-word Translation

tat karma yat – that action which; ArabhyatE – is begun; mOhAt – out of illusion; anapEkshya – without consideration; anubandham – of the consequences; kshayam – loss; himsAm – injury; pauruSham ca – and one’s ability to fulfil it; ucyatE – is called; tAmasam – in the nature of darkness.

Free Translation

That action which is begun out of illusion, without considering consequences, destruction, violence, and one’s own ability to fulfil it, is called in the nature of darkness.

Commentaries

Shridhara

Lord Krishna affirms that actions which are undertaken under delusion, without consideration of the good and evil consequences that will follow from such actions, without evaluation of their worth, which incur unreasonable expenditure in time, energy or resources, which cause injury to oneself and to others, and are pointless to pursue, are situated in tama guNa, the mode of ignorance.

Ramanuja

The word mOhAt means in illusion, deluded. The word kshaya means loss, referring to loss of time, energy and expenditure. The word anubandham, meaning consequences, implies not considering the consequences of one’s actions; and paurusham, meaning capacity, denotes obliviousness to whether or not one has the capability to complete it. The word himsa, meaning violence, denotes causing injury to others. Lord Krishna reiterates that such endeavours, engaged in foolish delusion, are locked in tama guNa, the mode of ignorance.

Keshava Kashmiri

Those actions that are undertaken through the defect of not knowing that absolutely everything is under the complete control of the Supreme Lord Krishna; those actions that are engaged in without considering the consequences of good or evil for them, or determining as to whether or not one is capable of accomplishing them; those actions that cause harm to others and to oneself and that are merely a waste of time, energy and expenditure; such actions are invariably situated in tama guNa, the mode of ignorance.

Jnaneshwar

Oh, that action which is the very dark abode of slander, and which justifies the birth of all that is prohibited for being sinful, is tAmasik action. Such action leaves no trace behind once it is performed, as do lines drawn on a water surface. Such actions are all unavailing as is churning of rice gruel; the blowing of ashes; the grinding of sand in an oil-mill; the winnowing the chaff; the piercing of a cavity; or the placing of snares for catching the wind, all of which prove barren. Now such an action, performed at the sacrifice of a valuable treasure like the human body, spoils the world's happiness, in the way the act of dragging a thorny bush over a group of lotus flowers results in making blunt the sharp edges of thorns as also tearing into shreds the lotus flowers; and in the way a moth, voluntarily dashing against and embracing a lamp (flame), not only gets itself burnt, but also becomes the cause of stealing the vision of the world by extinguishing the lamp (flame). In the same way, although such action results in the loss of all (wealth and efforts), and proves injurious to the body of the doer, yet it brings nothing but positive harm to others. A fly gets itself swallowed and causes the agony of vomiting to the one swallowing it. tAmasik action is akin to such wickedness.

Such actions are performed by a person without forethought; he fails to consider whether he is endowed with sufficient strength to execute them; moreover, he takes no thought about their repercussion on others. He (the tAmasik doer) sets out to perform such actions thoughtlessly, discarding considerations such as his own resources, the magnitude of the actions, and his own capacity to carry them through. The fire produced by the rubbing of bamboo shoots burns its own shelter and rushes wildly, far and wide; the sea rises high submerging its limits; and once both these do so, they treat things, big or small, indiscriminately, neither looking backwards nor forward, and push headlong, gulping up and bringing into one lot all ways and by-paths. Actions in which virtuous and vicious elements are hopelessly muddled, and in whose performance no regard is paid to the ensuing evil affecting the doer and others (people)—such actions, know it, are definitely tAmasik actions.

Chapter 18, Verse 28

Original Sanskrit Shloka

अयुक्तः प्राकृतः स्तब्धः शठो नैष्कृतिकोऽलसः।
विषादी दीर्घसूत्री च कर्ता तामस उच्यते।।

Transliteration

Ayuktaha prAkRutaha stabdhaha shaThO naiShkRutiko alasaha
viShAdI dIrgha-sUtrI ca kartA tAmasa ucyatE

Word-by-word Translation

Ayuktaha – the unqualified; prAkRutaha – degraded; stabdhaha – slothful; ShaThaha – deceptive; naiShkRutikaha – overbearing; alasaha – lazy; viShAdI – morose; dIrgha-sUtrI ca – and procrastinating; kartA – performer of actions; ucyatE – is called; tAmasaha – in the nature of darkness.

Free Translation

The unqualified, degraded, slothful, deceptive, overbearing, lazy, morose, and procrastinating performer of actions is said to reside in the nature of darkness.

Commentaries

Shridhara

One who performs actions inconsistently; who is careless; who is vulgar; who insults others; who is pretentious and indolent; who procrastinates, unable to accomplish in a timely manner what one promised; who has an acute lack of discrimination; is unremittingly situated in tama guNa, the mode of ignorance.

Madhva

The compound word dIrgha-sUtrI means procrastinating, but it also infers dIrgha-suchi, given to calumny, of pointing out the past defects of others. The amarakOsha also states that one who exposes the mistakes of others from the past is called dIrgha-sUtrI.

Now begins the summation.

According to the Shabda Tattva, one who follows the procedures for prescribed Vedic activities but procrastinates and does not commence it at the proper time is known as dIrgha-sUtrI.

The activity that is required to be performed at an auspicious time, but is delayed and hence misses the mark, also indicates the meaning of dIrgha-sUtrI, which includes indolence and incompetence. Although “procrastination” is an accurate translation, this word also implies indolence, for even if one is inspired to perform prescribed Vedic activities, there are some impediments and obstacles in accomplishing them. This is the result of obscuration of vision and lack of cognizance of the Supreme Lord Krishna's paramount position. So even one with the potential for great achievements, due to bewilderment, despondency and laziness, fails to reap the benefits because of not performing the proper activity at the proper time. Such a one is undeniably situated in tama guNa, the mode of ignorance.

Ramanuja

One who is unqualified by not having the requisite competence to perform prescribed Vedic activities; who is prAkritaha, or mundane and hence vulgar, vile and unrefined; who is stabdhaha – indolent, lethargic and unmotivated to engage in spiritual activities; who is ShaThaha, or wicked, having a predilection for evil and sorcery; who is lazy, morose and deceitful; who is dIrgha-sUtrI, rancorously insulting of others from envy and harbouring deep, dark vengeance against them; such a person is unremittingly situated in tama guNa, the mode of passion.

Keshava Kashmiri

One lacking in self control and devoid of piety, who is vain, vile and vulgar; who identifies with the mundane material nature, without discriminative knowledge; who is deceitful, lethargic and morose; who is offensive to others, and who procrastinates in doing what is expected; such unfortunates are indisputably situated in tama guNa, the mode of ignorance.

Adi Shankara

Vulgar: quite uncultured in intellect, like a child. Unbending: not bowing, like a stick, to anyone. Deceptive: concealing his real power. Wicked: setting others at variance with each other. Indolent: Not doing even what ought to be done. Despondent: always depressed in spirit. Procrastinating: postponing duties too long, always sluggish, not doing even in a month what ought to be done today or tomorrow.

Jnaneshwar

The fire does not realize how other things get scorched by coming in contact with it; a weapon does not know how others get killed with the sharpness of its edge; and a subtle poison does not know how fatal it is to living creatures. In the same way, the tamas-dominated agent, O Arjuna, undertakes such wicked actions as are calculated to pain others. While doing such actions, he pays no attention to the consequences that might follow, like the fitful behaviour of a stormy whirlwind. There being no coordination between his actions and their aim, even a person of unsound mind cannot stand comparison with him. He maintains himself on the enjoyment provided by sense-objects, like a cattle-louse stuck on the udder of the bullock (maintaining itself on the bullock's blood). He behaves waywardly like an ignorant child, which takes no time to change from laughing to crying. He is never alive to whether a particular action is good or otherwise, having entirely gone under the sway of the prakRuti, and remains puffed up with false contentment like a dung-hill, with the result that he never bends low (in reverence) even before God through self-conceit, and exceeds even a hill in point of stiffness (hauteur). His mind is like the trodden black soil of the thief’s haunt in a dense wood, while his vision is (as if) taken in mortgage from a harlot. Nay, his very body is formed of wickedness; while the entire life is the very den of gamblers; and his very sight is like a locality inhabited by the greedy Bhil tribes (highly criminal). No one should even approach his vicinity.

Good actions of others (appear crooked to him), prick his mind like thorns, just as salt, when mixed with milk, makes it unfit for drinking; as an oblation (such as a fuel stick), put into fire, suddenly blazes forth, becoming fire; as dainties of various sorts (swallowed and) entering into the body get ultimately reduced to excreta; similarly, he receives mentally good actions done by others, but they are metamorphosed into their opposite (bad actions) when passing through his mind. He transforms (good) qualities into defects and converts nectar into poison, in the way milk taken in by serpents is changed into poison.

On occasions of the (likely) happening of events that lead to the fulfilment of the very object of one's life, in this world as also in the other, slumber automatically visits his eyes, (as if by pre-arrangement). During seasons of making grape and mango juice, crows are affected with the mouth disease, and owls lose their vision during the day-time; in the same way, laziness devours him whenever there presents an occasion tending to the securement of real good; but that very laziness leaves him entirely, in all obedience, when he is about to do some despicable act. He is ever possessed of malice, in the way the sub-marine fire remains (latent) in the sea. Throughout his life, he is full of gloom, in the same way there is copious smoke in the fire made of animal-dung; or in the way there always exists foul smell in the wind (ApAna) let out from the anus. He starts greedy transactions to an extent that would even serve him beyond the (current) kalpa (age), and bears anxieties unknown to (extending beyond) this world; yet if actual results (of his acts) are seen, not even a blade of grass accrues to him (comes into his hands). Should such a heap of sins incarnate come to be seen by you in the universe, take it definitely as a tamas-dominated agent.

Chapter 18, Verse 32

Original Sanskrit Shloka

अधर्मं धर्ममिति या मन्यते तमसाऽऽवृता।
सर्वार्थान्विपरीतांश्च बुद्धिः सा पार्थ तामसी।।

Transliteration

adharmam dharmam iti yA manyatE tamasAvRutA
sarvArthAn viparItAns ca buddhihi sA pArtha tAmasI

Word-by-word Translation

sA – that; buddhihi – spiritual intelligence; AvRutA – enveloped; tAmasA – in ignorance; yA – which; mAnyatE – regards; adharmam – unrighteousness; dharmam – as righteousness; sarva-arthAn ca – and everything; viparItAn – contrary to what they are; tAmasI – in the nature of darkness; pArtha – O Arjuna, son of Pritha.

Free Translation

That spiritual intelligence, enveloped in ignorance, which regards unrighteousness as righteousness, and everything contrary to what they are, is in the nature of darkness, O Arjuna.

Commentaries

Shridhara

Lord Krishna asserts that those whose buddhi, or intellect, is situated in tama guNa, or the mode of ignorance, are enveloped in darkness with a mentality whose understanding is distorted. They are unable to discriminate between what is real and what is false; what is to be done and what should not be done. Embracing inferior conceptions that are devoid of actual knowledge, they desire what should be rejected and reject what should be desired; hence their delusion increases.

Ramanuja

Now Lord Krishna states that the buddhi, or intellect, of those in tama guNa, or mode of ignorance, are enveloped in the darkness of consciousness. What they perceive is a distortion of reality. They think what is worthy is worthless and what is worthless is worthy; what is fact is fiction and what is fiction is fact; what is inferior is superior and what is superior they consider inferior. They are easily led astray, having no grasp of truth, and no understanding of what is real and what is unreal, and thus endlessly they revolve in samsAra, the perpetual cycle of birth and death.

Keshava Kashmiri

Now the influence on buddhi, or intellect, of one situated in tama guNa, or mode of ignorance, is described by Lord Krishna. That intellect which is enveloped in ignorance and warped by distortion; which considers the highest reality as an insignificant entity; which understands the Supreme absolute truth to be lower than an abstract, impersonal conception; which considers the conditioned jIva to be erqual to the Supreme Lord; which imagines the Supreme Lord, who is overflowing with all divine qualities, attributes and potencies, to be on the same platform as all other gods; which negates the eternal and imperishable Vedic scriptures for some impermanent, temporal religious texts applicable for limited time; which cannot tell what is real in this world and which thinks what is unreal is real; which is unable to fathom that the Supreme Lord is one with and different from His creation simulataneously; such an intellect is unavoidably situated in tama guNa.

Jnaneshwar

A thief considers as a byway the high road taken by a king; it is the night time to the demons when it is day time for others; to an unlucky one there appears a heap of coal where there is in fact a treasure; and an (ordinary) being considers non-existent the (essence of the) “Self.” The intellect that, in this way, considers as sins all religious acts, and also considers false all that is real; the intellect that converts all right things into wrong ones and considers as defects all that are good qualities; the intellect which considers as perverse all that is sanctioned by the Vedas; that intellect, O Arjuna, should be known as tamas-ridden intellect, without reference to anything else. Could the (dark) night be ever taken as suitable for doing religious acts?

Chapter 18, Verse 35

Original Sanskrit Shloka

यया स्वप्नं भयं शोकं विषादं मदमेव च।
न विमुञ्चति दुर्मेधा धृतिः सा पार्थ तामसी।।

Transliteration

yayA svapnam bhayam shOkam viShAdam madam Eva ca
na vimuncati durmEdhA dhRutihi sA pArtha tAmasI

Word-by-word Translation

sA dhRutihi – that determination; pArtha – O Arjuna; yayA – by which; durmEdhAha – the unintelligent; na vimuncati – are unable to abandon; svapnam – dreaming; bhayam – fearing; shOkam – grieving; viShAdam – feeling depressed; madam Eva ca – and foolhardiness; tAmasI – is in the nature of darkness.

Free Translation

That determination, O Arjuna, by which the unintelligent is unable to abandon dreaming, fearing, grieving, feeling depressed, and being foolhardy, is in the nature of darkness.

Commentaries

Shridhara

The dhRuta, or determination, whereby a jIva, or embodied being, due to acute lack of intelligence, is unable to abandon sleep, fear, grief, dejection and delusion, is declared by Lord Krishna as situated in tama guNa, the mode of ignorance.

Madhva

One who exhibits dhRuti, or determination, yet follows dharma, or righteousness, in a haphazard way, sometimes adhering to and sometimes opposing it, is situated in raja guNa, the mode of passion; and one who is so deluded that they are unable to discriminate between what is real and what is unreal, what is appropriate and what is inappropriate, and what is beneficial and what is detrimental, is situated in tama guNa, or mode of ignorance. Fear, lamentation and dejection, which are the indication of delusion, are the by-products. Exclusive loving devotion to the Supreme Lord is known as bhakti, and is situated exclusively in sattva guNa, the mode of goodness. Because bhakti is transcendental and not mundane, it is virtuous and blissful. What is recommended by the Vaishnavas, saintly sages and learned elderly, as well as what is prescribed in the Vedic scriptures is always considered undeniably to be situated in sattva guNa; whatever is done contrary to this is in raja guNa; and whatever repudiates this in tama guNa. This is well corroborated in the Bhagavat Purana. The Padma Purana states that, by the grace of the Supreme Lord, one becomes internally elated, and such elation becomes luminous.

Ramanuja

The word svapnam means slumber, implying slothfulness. madam is the delusion of enjoying sense objects. The dharmEdaha, or unintelligent fools, do not oppose their mind allowing their senses to buffet them hither and thither in pursuit of sense gratification. They even sanction such treatment to satisfy their desires. The terms bhayam, or dread; shOkam, or grief; and vishAdam, or dejection are the by-products of this delusion. Those who occupy their time and energy and waste their invaluable human life in this manner are indispensably situated in tama guNa.

Keshava Kashmiri

Here, Lord Krishna explains that dhRuti, or determination, situated in tama guNa, or mode of ignorance, is dominated by evil and wickedness, whose discriminatory faculties are focused on demoniac activities prohibited in the Vedic scriptures, such as cow killing, which they will not abandon on their own volition. Due to constant speculation, reality for them is a fog of doubts and despondency, acerbated by fears and grief and uncertainty.

Adi Shankara

The stupid man holds sensual gratification in high esteem, and never gives up lasciviousness. He regards sleep, etc., as things that ought always to be resorted to.

Jnaneshwar

That (which) is formed of all sorts of heinous qualities – were such heinous and vulgar aspects to be taken as “qualities,” why not then call the demons as persons of merit? The one amongst the planets which has the appearance of live coal is called “Mangal,” (i.e., Mars, the auspicious one); in the same light, the term “quality” (guNa) is figuratively used in respect of this dark and thoughtless one (dhRuti).

Such a person is the very idol, prepared out of well-wrought darkness (tamas), in which are stored up all the demerits. He carries laziness under his arm pit, with the result that slumber never leaves him, just as misery always dwells where sin is nurtured. Fear never deserts him, consequent on his strong attachment to his body, in the way hardness ever accompanies the stone. He is a regular abode of grief, because he is addicted to all worldly things, in the way that sin never departs from an ungrateful person. He harbours discontent in his heart day and night, with the result that despondency is his constant companion. Foul smell never leaves garlic, and disease (never leaves) the patient who habitually goes against his prescribed regimen. In the same way, despondency clings to him till his death. His infatuation with female companionship, wealth, and passion ever waxes strong, with the result that arrogance makes its home in him. Heat never leaves the fire, and spite never leaves a serpent of high breed; fear, the enemy of the world, is never destroyed; the destructor never forgets the body; in the same way, arrogance makes its seat firm in the tamas-ridden being. The tenacity that enables the five demerits (viz. slumber, fear, grief, despondency, and arrogance) to sustain a tamas-ridden being “is called the tamas-dominated tenacity,” said the Lord of Universe. (He further said), “Thus whatever actions are resolved upon (to be performed) by the three-fold intellect are successfully carried out by tenacity. The path becomes discernible on account of the sun, and feet walk over it; yet it is the courage (tenacity) that brings about the walk. In the same way, the intellect shows the action which the group of instruments (organs etc.) performs; yet there is the necessity of tenacity for the production of actions. That tenacity, which is three-fold, has been explained to you.

Chapter 18, Verse 39

Original Sanskrit Shloka

यदग्रे चानुबन्धे च सुखं मोहनमात्मनः।
निद्रालस्यप्रमादोत्थं तत्तामसमुदाहृतम्।।

Transliteration

yad agrE cAnubandhE ca sukham mOhanam Atmanaha
nidrAlasya-pramAdOttham tat tAmasam udAhRutam

Word-by-word Translation

tat – that; sukham – happiness; nidrA-alasya-pramAda-uttham – arising from sleep, sloth, and irresponsibility; yat – which; Atmanaha-mOhanam – deludes the embodied self; agrE – in the beginning; anubandhE ca – and at the end; udAhRutam – is called; tAmasam – in the nature of darkness.

Free Translation

Happiness arising from sleep, sloth, and irresponsibility, which deludes the embodied self at the beginning and at the end, is said to be in the nature of darkness.

Commentaries

Shridhara

The sukham, or happiness which, in the beginning, from the first moment, is deluded; and also deluded at the end; arising from slothfulness, lassitude, and foolishness; and neglecting what needs to be done and to be accomplished, Lord Krishna asserts, is situated in tama guNa, the mode of ignorance.

Ramanuja

That sukham, or happiness, which enthrals the jIva, or embodied being, both at the beginning as well at the end, even after the habitual, repetitive experience, exhibits its true nature of enslavement and bondage to samsAra, the perpetual cycle of birth and death, is affirmed by Lord Krishna as tama guNa, the mode of ignorance. The word mOhanam means delusion, and is the obscuration of the true nature of reality. nidrA, or slumber, denotes unconsciousness, which can transpire even while engaging in an act of enjoyment. alasya is slothfulness, the lassitude which comes from habitually dulled senses, and which certainly contributes to dullness of mind. pramAda is inattention to what is required, and is connected to dullness of mind. So the delusive nature of nidrA, alasya and pramAda are all situated firmly in tama guNa, and along with the characteristics of raja guNa, are very detrimental to the aspiring jIva.

Keshava Kashmiri

That sukham, or happiness, which stupefies the jIva, or embodied being, by making perception of reality obscure; which seems to be like nectar in the beginning as well as in the end; and which is supported by slothfulness, indolence, folly and delusion is declared by Lord Krishna as situated in tama guNa, the mode of ignorance.

Jnaneshwar

And that pleasure, which is derived from drinking undrinkables (potent liquors); from enjoying a meal of uneatable (unapproved) dishes; from the company of females of ill-repute; from killing others; from robbing others of their property or money; from hearing false praises sung by a bard (flatterer); from laziness; from slumber; and which from the first to the last misleads the being in regard to the right path, and leads him into a wrong one—such pleasure, O Arjuna, is entirely tamas-dominated pleasure, and I would not talk more on it, the thing being quite indecent and despicable.


Acknowledgments

I would first and foremost like to thank my wife, Sandhya Srinivasan, for giving me unstinting support in the many months and years it has taken me to do the research for this article series and write it, even though it took me away from her and our daughter for extended periods. Without her constant, unwavering, and enthusiastic support, this series would not have been possible.

I also owe thanks to Sandhya for being a strong intellectual partner in this endeavor. She has been very kind to spare time from her busy schedule to read every word of every article that I have ever written for my blog, and offer careful, considered, and critical feedback on them. Her inputs on this caste-discrimination series in the form of feedback and suggestions have been invaluable.

One friend without whom this series would not have been possible is Ganesh Prasad. He has been a source of constant encouragement, and his unflagging enthusiasm for the project allowed me to continue with it even at times when I started to wonder if the effort was at all worth it. In addition, Ganesh has been very patient and thorough in proofreading every line of every article in the series, and offering extremely valuable feedback that has greatly improved the series, from as far back as 4 years ago when he read the first draft of this series, to the final posted articles now. I owe him a debt of gratitude.

I would like to thank Dileepan Raghunathan for his help in understanding some passages in the Gita. I would also like to thank Ramdas Menon for helpful comments and feedback on the articles in this series, and for his strong encouragement and support of this series in particular, and my writing in general.

Lastly, I would like to thank the many people with whom I have had vigorous arguments on this topic, on Facebook and WhatsApp. Some of those arguments took up entire weekends, but they ended up clarifying my thinking immensely and helped me sharpen my positions.

Any errors or mistakes in this article, however, should not be attributed to any of these people, for such errors and mistakes are entirely my own fault. The contributions of my kind and patient friends and family have been only to enhance this humble work.

Caste-Based Discrimination in Hinduism – The Full Series

This is an evolving list. More titles will be added as they are published. This list is the current list of published articles.

Indexes



Disclaimer: All the opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of Dr. Seshadri Kumar alone and should not be construed to mean the opinions of any other person or organization, unless explicitly stated otherwise in the article.

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