Still, however Varna system of Vedic religion remains an enigma to the scholars as even Vedic literatures too gives conflicting explanations to its origin. As we have seen in the last chapter, except of Purushasukta Varna system doesn’t occur anywhere in Rigveda. The term Shudra, except Purushasukta, is totally unknown to the rest of Rigveda. Apparently Varna or Shudra terms too do not appear in Avesta. We have seen that it is proven beyond doubt that the Purushasukta is composition of far later times, when Vedic language was more perfected. So the natural question will arise, how come that all of sudden the term Shudra for people appears in Purushasukta and later Vedic literature?
Without going in details of the stories created to explain for classes or Varna’s, let us focus on a major issue that needs to be taken on anvil.
Aryan invasion theory was considered to be a main reason for creation of fourth Varna and caste system. It was widely assumed that the invading Aryans won over Dasa-Dasyus, aboriginals of India and enforced lowly social status upon them. AIT is debunked long ago and is replaced with the Indo-European Language speakers’ migration theory to explain linguistic similarities across India to Europe.
Even if Invasion or Migration theory is taken as true following points has to be honestly dealt with.
1) Indian subcontinent doesn’t show major influx of foreigners since +7000 BC. Most of the Indian tribes were settled by then with the invention of the agriculture. Indus-Ghaggar Civilisation started to flourish in the same region by collective efforts of same people, as explained by J. M. Kenoyer. This would mean that the aboriginals of India weren’t savage people as Invasion theorists want to imply. Decline of IGC is now unanimously attributed to the climatic changes and its continuity in changed forms is archaeologically also well documented.
2) If we consider migration theory to be true, in waves, migrating people only can enforce their language and culture on the original residents only if they can outnumber the locals. It is roughly estimated that the population of IGC alone (about 12.5 lakh sq. kilometers) was about five millions. They were well cultured people having their own religion to follow. The question would be, without any wars or violent conflicts, the migrating hoards of the so-called Aryans, how could they enforce their rule upon them? There is no slightest reference in any of the Vedic literature of such conflict. There is not a single archaeological evidence to indicate wars and battles. Since there also is no shred of proof available of demographic migration, the question remains same.
3) From IGC (Indus-Ghaggar Civilisation) finds we have fair idea of the religion the people adhered to. Normally invaders try to impose their own gods and culture on the subjugated populaces. Religiously speaking, we clearly find that the fourth class, i.e. Shudra was always outside of the Vedic religion and its rituals. There seems no attempt to destroy old faiths, though Vedics detested them. Shaivait or idolatrous faiths have been survived till date. On the contrary, Vedic gods remained only in Vedic literature, never got noteworthy attention of the common people. Rather Vedic people started efforts to assimilate Hindu Gods with Vedic Gods. Had Vedic Aryans been superior and had enforced their religion on the local people after subjugating them, naturally past faiths would have been destroyed. This doesn’t seem to be the case at all!
5) Similar logic can be applied to the language. If the migrating Vedic Aryans weren’t large in number, nor they were victorious, how could they linguistically Aryanize the local populace, that too only in north India? This only does mean that Vedic Aryans neither could impact on local languages and religion! Then how could they enforce some lowly social status on them?
6) Fourth Varna is considered to be the part of Vedic social order. But was the fourth Varna ever part of the Vedic religion? It was not as evidenced by Vedic literature itself because this Varna had no Vedic religious rights whatsoever. With this condition, naturally the fourth Varna, considered as part of Vedic social order becomes non-Vedic, of another religion. Had they been part of Vedic social order, they would have some or other religious rights, but it was never a case.
6) We find many contradictory examples from the Vedic literature and known history. According to Vedic doctrine Shudra cannot accumulate wealth or attain any social status. But Sutra literature commands that the Brahmin should not eat in even the domain of Shudra kings! If considered this being true, there were Shudra kings. Satapatha Brahmin informs Shudra Kings were ruling in southern parts of India. Also it is another story of origin of Shudra that they were offspring’s of the Asuras. It clearly shows that the Shudras were the class not related anywhere with the Vedics, having their own independent existence and religious practices. Had it been the case that the Vedic Aryans ruled the sub-continent, there wouldn’t have been any Shudra King!
7) In known history, we are aware that Shishunaga, Nanda, Maurya, Satavahana, Yadava and many other dynasties belonged to the Shudra class. Mahabharata too states participation of Shudra kings in epical war. Had Vedic doctrine been that strict and implemented forcibly or honored by the masses there wouldn’t have been such a case.
8) There also is no known example of Shudras being denied of accumulation of the wealth in practice. Rather most of the landlords belonged to Shudra Varna. The mercantile classes, not designated as Vaishyas, were the wealthy people, were conducting nationwide trade, occasionally donating to the temples and public works and had good reputations in the royal courts. The donation inscriptions at Buddhist caves to temples clearly points out to this fact.
Having considered above points, though there are many to point out our major misunderstanding about the fourth Varna, we have more to discuss on the caste system. However we first have to erase our most grave misunderstanding that HINDU AND Vedic communities are one and the same.
Two religions: Two systems
We cannot overlook at the fact that there are two distinct religions and hence two different social orders. Whether Vedic religion came to India by mass migration or was spread here with missionary practices by handful of the preachers, a fact remains that the people here were already following idolatrous religion centered on fertility concepts, i.e. Shakti and Shiva or whatever they were being called in ancient times.
It is a fact that the Vedic religion is not idolatrous. It is fire centric, just like Zoroastrian religion. They have a pantheon of the abstract gods to be praised through the offerings in sacred fire.
The ritualistic practices of both the religions stand poles apart. Tarkateertha Laxmanshastri Joshi states, the fire-centric religion of the Aryans was of primordial kind whereas Puja of non-Aryans (non-Vedics) was exaltation of the religious thought. Puja, must be noted here, is not at all Vedic term, but have Dravidian origin.
Whenever the Vedic religion came to India, there already existed another religion. There is no slightest indication in the Vedic literature that they had conflicts with the local religion. Rather it seems they adopted the philosophies and local gods including Shiva, though they kept him outside of the Vedic pantheon and rituals.
Shudra term appears in only once, that too in a late hymn, only because they had not come earlier across them. The commands of Smriti’s were only applicable to the Vedic’s, those conducted fire sacrifices as their only religious ritual chanting Vedic verses. I have shown in this book elsewhere, the despicable commands those appear for Shudra’s were limited to the people those were employed by the Vedics to look after menial work. These people (including females) delved with them in their independent settlements. Keeping them aloof from their rituals was but natural. Though important to them for survival, the restrictions upon them were forced when men and women from both the classes naturally established sexual relationships, thus polluting Vedic breed. This all is clear from Smriti literature. There were two kinds of Shudra’s, those who were in their service and those who were not. There were Shudra kingdoms. Greek historians inform us of “Sudroi” (Shudra) tribe delving in north-west regions.
It, ironically, seems that in later era, it was erroneously considered that the commands of Smritis were applicable to all Shudras and that it was a lowly class. This is not the historical fact at all. We shall discuss over Mansmruti to know more on this.
On backdrop of this, we can conclude as following:
1) Whatever way Vedic religion might have come to India, could not force its social doctrine on the local people.
2) They could not change basic religious structure of the people, though they attained a kind of religious supremacy in later era.
3) Fourth Varna, i.e. Shudra, always meant the people those who never were Vedics. They made them pariah in their own rituals for they did not belong to their religion.
5) They laid down restrictions only on those Shudras who were taken into the personal service. Shudras were always majority of the people. It was no surprise that the poor folks sought services wherever they could. Vedic religion was always limited and they needed servants. The need was fulfilled from the non-Vedic Shudra class.
One must not forget here that Shudras have totally different system on which we shall discuss in next chapter.
(To be contd.)