The Brahmin of Manu Smriti – The other side of the coin

brahmins

Manu smriti is one of the most popular law books of ancient India. One of the reasons for its popularity is that the ‘caste system’ of the Hindus has found its deepest details in it. So it is also despised by many people. The caste system of the Hindus is based on an hierarchy which is: Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, Shudra. Brahmins are meant to be teachers & priests, Kshatriyas are meant to be warriors & politicians, Vaishyas are meant to be farmers & traders, Shudras are meant to serve the above three castes. So Brahmin is at the top.

Such a position of the Brahmin makes him be inferred as a subject of the most comforts and the most power. But a sincere reading of the text shows another side of his life. The bias of a reader begins with the first chapter, where in its 93rd verse, it is said that because the Brahmin was produced from the mouth of the God, he is the lord of this whole creation, which means that all this belongs to him.

But as one proceeds to read the next chapters, one finds that such extreme gifts for a Brahmin are subject to so many regulations. It is said that even though a Brahmin is worthy of having gifts, he must not incline towards accepting them as it diminishes his divine light. So it is an order that without the full knowledge of the prescribed rules for the acceptance of gifts in the sacred law, he must not accept any gift even if he pines with hunger (Chapter 4, verses 186-187).

Then is mentioned (Chapter 4, verse 204) that if a Brahmin does not observe the paramount duties (Yama) and only observes the secondary duties (Niyama), he loses his rank, or falls from his caste. What is Yama? In Yama are included non-violence, non-stealth, self-restraint and renouncing of every possession. Niyama include cleanliness, contentedness, penance, meditating on self, and devotion to god. So even if a Brahmin is clean, is a devotee of god, but is violent and/or possesses riches/property, he shall lose his caste. So acquiring any sort of property or riches can lead to the loss of the brahminhood of a Brahmin.

In chapter 4 (verse 179-185), it is clearly mentioned that if anyone (mother, father, wife, son, daughter, servant[shudra]) insults a Brahmin, the Brahmin must bear that without anger and avoid any quarrel with them.

In the chapter 11 (verse 31 & 33) the Brahmin is given the right to himself punish someone who has insulted/injured him. And how to punish? By reading certain verses, that is it. Speech alone is said to be the weapon of a Brahmin.

So he has to be way too humble in all respects. He cannot be angry, he cannot hit anyone physically (except for his son & pupil for discipline-chapter 4, verse 164), he cannot own property or he shall lose his caste. This is the other side of the coin which is taken out of this book. One side of it has been told popularly, but this side too needs to be seen, if this book is considered to be a reflection of the society of its time.

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Assumptions Vs Facts: 3 most common logical fallacies

Never-Lie

Irrespective of how serious we feel we are, we commit numerous logical fallacies throughout our daily life. A logical fallacy is an assumption which is made as the base of an argument and is asserted strongly as being a fact. All it does it waste your time & energy and bring down the level of the debate or inquiry. Following are the most common of them.

  • Appeal to purity: “Too pure to commit any wrong” is a small illustration of this logical fallacy. It could apply to a person, a group or even an ideology, which ‘you assume’ to be the epitome of purity, ethics or morals. Here it is ‘your assumption’ which at first has to be proved to be true.

 

  • Appeal to authority: This is just another shade of the aforesaid fallacy. This takes into consideration the professional status or general social status of the person being discussed or the person speaking. “He is a scientist, so whatever he says about science or nature, has to be true in all cases” is an illustration. Second illustration could be “I am a lawyer, how can I be wrong about the interpretation of this legal provision”. In both the cases, it is the ideas being produced by the scientist & the lawyer which are to be examined, irrespective of the good or bad record of professional performance of both of them.

 

  • Fallacy of proportion/constitution: “Out of numerous parts of something, if one part of it is of a particular nature, so all parts of it must be of that very particular nature” is an illustration. The assumption is that all parts are equal in all respects. This illustration can also apply for proving something or someone as being wholly good or wholly bad.

 

If you value your time and energy, if you value your own self, if you respect your own self, then you must guard your intellectual integrity and must not present your assumptions as facts, that simply means you must not lie.

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My ideal world

Everyone has his or her ideal world, differing on one’s emphasis about what is the most essential element to one’s life. The thing on which I put the greatest emphasis is abstract, yet rational and is probably the real centre of our existence and growth.

My ideal world is a world where ideas are put at the centre of the whole view, irrespective of who produces them and how weird they may sound at that point. In that world, there wouldn’t be any fanclubs. There would be no allegiance to any person, group or ideology. There would be a true seeking of what is true, irrespective of how adverse would it be to one’s own agreed-upon opinions.

In that world, people wouldn’t be in a hurry to judge ideas, let alone judging people & situations. There would be an agreement on considering it a sin to jump to conclusions, and it would be the highest virtue to closely observe and analyse ideas without biases. No one would be rebuked for questioning the agreed-upon ideas some day. Where the lust for great ideas would never die, that is my ideal world.