Who were the shudras ?

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The first piece of such evidence, to which attention may be invited, is the discrimination which existed for a long time in the matter of the recognition of the sacred character of the different Vedas. All students of the Vedas know that there are really two Vedas: (1) the Rig Veda and (2) the Atharva Veda. The Sama Veda and the Yajur Veda are merely different forms of the Rig Veda. All students of the Vedas know that the Atharva Veda was not recognised by the Brahmins as sacred as the Rig Veda for a long time. Why was such a distinction made? Why was the Rig Veda regarded as sacred? Why was the Atharva Veda treated as vulgar? The answer, I like to suggest, is that the two belonged to two different races of Aryans and it is only when they had become one that the Atharva Veda came to be regarded on a par with the Rig Veda.

Besides this, there is enough evidence, scattered through the whole of the Brahmanic literature, of the existence of two different ideologies, particularly relating to creation, which again points to the existence of two different Aryan races. Reference to one of these has already been made in Chapter 2. It remains to draw attention to the second type of ideology.

To begin with the Vedas. The following ideology is to be found in the Taittiriya Samhita:

T.S., [f21] vi.5.6.1.—"Aditi, desirous of sons, cooked, a Brahmaudana oblation for the gods, the Sadhyas. They gave her the remnant of it This she ate. She conceived seed. Four Adityas were born to her. She cooked a second (oblation). She reflected, 'from the remains of the oblation these sons have been born to me. If I shall eat (the oblation) first, more brilliant (sons) will be born to me.' She ate it first; she conceived seed; an imperfect egg was produced from her. She cooked a third (oblation) for the Adityas, repeating the formula 'may this religious toil have been undergone for my enjoyment.' The Adityas said, Let us choose a boon; let anyone who is produced from this be ours only; let anyone of his progeny who is prosperous be for us a source of enjoyment' In consequence the Aditya Vivasvat was born. This is his progeny, namely, men. Among them he alone who sacrifices is prosperous, and becomes a cause of enjoyment to the gods."

Turning to the Brahmanas. The stories of creation contained in the Satapatha Brahmanas are set out below :

S.B.,1 i.8.1.1—In the morning they brought to Manu water for washing, as men are in the habit of bringing it to wash with the hands. As he was thus washing, a fish came into his hands (which spoke to him) 'preserve me: I shall save thee.' (Manu enquired) From what will thou save me?' (The fish replied) 'A flood shall sweep away all these creatures; from it will I rescue thee.' (Manu

asked) 'How (shall) thy preservation (be effected)?' The fish said : 'So long as we are small, we are in great peril, for fish devours fish; thou shall preserve me first in a jar. When I grow too large for the jar, then thou shall dig a trench, and preserve me in that. When I grow too large for the trench, then thou shall carry me away to the ocean. I shall then be beyond the reach of danger. Straight, away he became a large fish; for he waxes to the utmost. (He said) Now in such and such a year, then the flood will come; thou shall embark in the ship when the flood rises, and I shall deliver thee from it.' Having thus preserved the fish, Manu carried him away to the sea. Then in the same year which the fish had enjoined, he constructed a ship and resorted to him. When the flood rose, Manu embarked in the ship. The fish swam towards him. He fastened the cable of the ship to the fish's horn. By this means he passed over this northern mountain. The fish said, 1 have delivered thee; fasten the ship to a tree. But lest the water should cut thee off whilst thou art on the mountain, as much as the water subsides so much shall thou descend after it.' He accordingly descended after it as much (as it subsided). Wherefore also this, viz., ' Manu's descent ' is (the name) of the northern mountain. Now the flood had swept away all these creatures, so Manu alone was left here. Desirous of offspring, he lived worshipping and toiling in arduous religious rites. Among these he also sacrificed with the paka offering. He cast clarified butter, thickened milk, whey and curds as an oblation into the waters. Thence in a year a woman was produced. She rose up as it were unctuous. Clarified butter adheres to her steps. Mitra and Varuna met her. They said to her ' who art thou? ' ' Manu's daughter' (she replied). Say (thou art) ours ' (they rejoined). ' No', she said, I am his who begot me.' They desired a share in her. She promised that, or she did not promise that; but passed onward. She came to Manu. Manu said to her, 'who art thou?' Thy daughter' she replied. 'How, glorious one 'asked Manu,' (art thou) my daughter?' "Thou has generated me, ' she said, ' from those oblations, butter, thick milk, whey and curds, which thou didst cast into the waters. I am a benediction. Apply me in the sacrifice. If thou wilt employ me in the sacrifice, thou shall abound in offspring and cattle. Whatever benediction thou will ask through me, shall accrue to thee.' He (accordingly) introduced her (as) that (which comes in) the middle of the sacrifice; for that is the middle of the sacrifice which (comes) between the introductory and concluding forms. With her he lived worshipping and toiling in arduous religious rites, desirous of offspring. With her he begot this offspring which is this offspring of Manu. Whatever benediction he asked with her, was all vouchsafed to him. This is essentially that which is Ida. Whosoever, knowing this, lives with Ida, begets this offspring which Maim begot Whatever benediction he asks with her, is all vouchsafed to him."

(2) S.B., [f22] vi.l.2.11.— "Wherefore they say, "Prajapati having created those worlds was supported upon the earth. For him these herbs were cooked as food. That (food) he ate. He became pregnant. He created the gods from his upper vital airs, and mortal offspring from his lower vital airs. In whatever way he created, so he created. But Prajapati created all this, whatever exists."

(3) S.B. [f23]vii.5.2.6.— Prajapati was formerly this (universe),one only. He desired.' Let me create food, and be propagated.' He formed animals from his breath, a man from his soul, a horse from his eye, a bull from his breath, a sheep from his ear, a goat from his voice. Since he formed animals from his breaths, therefore men say, ' the breaths are animals.' The soul is the first of the breaths. Since he formed a man from his 'soul' therefore they say 'man is the first of the animals, and the strongest.' The soul is all the breaths; for all the breaths depend upon the soul. Since he formed man from his soul, therefore they say,' man is all the animals;' for all these are man's."

(4) S.B., [f24]x. 1.3.1.— "Prajapati created living beings. From his upper vital airs he created the gods: from his lower vital airs mortal creatures. Afterwards he created death a devourer of creatures."

(5) S.B., [f25]xiv.4.2.1.— "This universe was formerly soul only, in the form of Purusha. Looking closely, he saw nothing but himself (or soul). He first said,' This is 1.' Then he became one having the name of 1. Hence even now a man, when called, first says/this is I, 'and then declares the other name when he has. In as much as he, before (purvah) all this, burnt up (aushat) all sins, he (is called), purusha. The man who knows this burns up the person who wishes to be before him. He was afraid. Hence a man when alone is afraid. This (being) considered that ' there is no other thing but myself; of what am I afraid?' Then his fear departed. For why should he have feared? It is of a second person that people are afraid. He did not enjoy happiness. Hence a person when alone does not enjoy happiness. He desired a second. He was so much as a man and a woman when locked in embrace. He caused this same self to fall as under into two parts. Thence arose a husband and wife. Hence Yajnavalkya has said that 'this one's self is like the half of a split pea.' Hence the void is filled up by woman. He cohabited with her. From them Men were born. She reflected how does he, after having produced me from himself, cohabit with me? Ah! let me disappear'; she became a cow, and the other a bull; and he cohabited with her. From them kine were produced. The one became a mare, the other a stallion, the one a she-ass, the other a male-ass. He cohabited with her. From them the class of animals with undivided hoofs were produced. The one became a she-goat, the other a he-goat, the one a ewe, the other a ram. He cohabited with her. From them goats and sheep were produced. In this manner pairs of all creatures whatsoever down to ants, were produced.

The Taitritriya Brahmana has the following :

T.B.1 ii.2.9. [f26].—"At first this (universe) was not anything. There was neither sky, nor earth, nor air. Being non-existent, it resolved let me be.' It became fervent. From that fervour smoke was produced. It again became fervent. From that fervour fire was produced. It again became fervent. From that fervour light was produced. It again became fervent. From that fervour flame was produced. It again became fervent From that fervour rays were produced. It again became fervent. From that fervour blazes were produced. It again became fervent It became condensed like a cloud. It clove its bladder. That became the sea. Hence men do not drink of the sea. For they regard it as like the place of generation. Hence water issues forth before an animal when it is being born. After that the Dasahotri (a particular formula) was created. Prajapati is the Dasahotri. That man succeeds, who thus knowing the power of austere abstraction (or fervour) practises it. This was then water, fluid. Prajapati wept (exclaiming). ' For what purpose have I been born, if (I have been born) from this which forms no support.' That which fell into the waters became the earth. That which he wiped away, became the air. That which he wiped away, upward, became the sky. From the circumstance that he wept (arodit), these two regions have the name of rodasi, (words). They do not weep in the house of the man who knows this. This was the birth of these worlds. He who thus knows the birth of these worlds, incurs no suffering in these worlds. He obtained this (earth as a) basis. Having obtained (this earth as a ) basis, he desired. ' May I be propagated.' He practised austere fervour. He became pregnant He created Asuras from his abdomen. To them he milked out food in an earthen dish. He cast off that body of his. It became darkness. He desired ' May I be propagated.' He practised austere fervour. He became pregnant. He created living beings (prajah) from his organ of generation. Hence they are the most numerous because he created them from -his generative organ. To them he milked out milk in a wooden dish. He cast off that body of his. It became moonlight He desired 'May I be propagated.' He practised austere fervour. He became pregnant. He created the seasons from his armpits. To them he milked out butter in a silver dish. He cast off that body of his. It became the period which connects day and night He desired ' May I be propagated.' He practised austere fervour. He became pregnant. He created the gods from his mouth. To them he milked out Soma in a golden dish. He cast off that body of his. It became day. These are Prajapati's milkings. He who thus knows, milks out offspring. ' Day (diva) has come to us:' this (exclamation expre-sses) the godhead of the gods. He who thus knows the godhead of the gods, obtains the gods. This is the birth of days and nights. He who thus knows the birth of days and nights, incurs no suffering in the days and nights. Mind (or soul, manas ) was created from the non-existent. Mind created Prajapati. Prajapati created offspring. All this, whatever exists, rests absolutely on mind. This is that Brahma called Svovasyasa. For the man who thus knows, (Ushas), dawning, dawns more and more bright; he becomes prolific in offspring, and (rich) in cattle; he obtains the rank of Parameshthin."

(3) T.B. [f27] ii.3.8.1.— "Prajapati desired, ' May I propagate.' He practised austerity. He became pregnant. He became yellow brown. Hence a woman when pregnant, being yellow, becomes brown. Being pregnant with a foetus, he became exhausted. Being exhausted he became blackish-brown. Hence an exhausted person becomes blackish-brown. His breath became alive. With that breath (asu) he created Asuras. Therein consists the Asura-nature of Asuras. He who thus knows this Asura-nature of Asuras becomes a man possessing breath. Breath does not forsake him. Having created the Asuras he regarded himself as a father. After that he created the Fathers (Pitris). That constitutes the fatherhood of the Fathers. He who thus knows the fatherhood of the Fathers, becomes as a father of his own; the Fathers resort to his oblation. Having created the Fathers, he reflected. After that he created men. That constitutes the manhood of men. He who knows the manhood of men, becomes intelligent. Mind does not forsake him. To him, when he was creating men, day appeared in the heaven. After that he created the gods. This constitutes the godhead of the gods. To him who thus knows the godhead of the gods, day appears in the heavens. These are the four streams, viz; gods, men, fathers and Asuras. In all of these water is like the air."

(4) T.B., [f28] iii.2.3.9.— "This Shudra has sprung from non- existence."

The following explanation of the origin of creation is given by the Taitririya Aranyaka:

T.A., [f29]i.l2.3.1.— "This is water, fluid. Prajapati alone was produced on a lotus leaf. Within, in his mind, desire arose, ' Let me create this.' Hence whatever a man aims at in his mind, he declares by speech, and performs by act. Hence this verse has been uttered, 'Desire formerly arose in it, which was the primal germ of mind, (and which) sages, searching with their intellect, have discovered in the heart as the bond between the existent and the non-existent' (Rig Veda X.129.4). That of which he is desirous comes to the man who thus knows. He practised austere fervour. Having practised austere fervour, he shook his body. From its flesh the rishis (called) Arunas, Ketus and Vatarasanas arose. His nails became the Vaikhanasas, his hairs the Valakhilyas. The fluid (of his body became) a tortoise moving amid the waters. He said to him ' Thou hast sprung from my skin and flesh.' ' No,' replied the tortoise, ' I was here before.' In that (in his having been 'before'' purvam) consists the manhood of a man (purusha) . Becoming a man Purusha with a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, a thousand feet (R.V.X.90.1) he arose. Prajapati said to him, 'thou wert produced before me; do thou first make this.' He took water from this in the cavity of his two hands and placed it on the east, repeating the text, 'so be it, 0 Sun.' From thence the sun arose. That was the eastern quarter. Then Aruna Ketu placed (the water) to the south, saying 'so be it, 0 Agni.' Thence Agni arose. That was the southern quarter. Then Aruna Ketu placed (the water) to the west, saying ' so be it, 0 Vayu.' Thence arose Vayu. That was the western quarter. Then Aruna Ketu placed (the water) to the north, saying 'so be it, 0 Indra.' Then arose Indra. That is the northern quarter. Then Aruna Ketu placed (the water) in the centre, saying 'so be it, 0 Pushan.' Thence arose Pushan. That is this quarter. The Aruna Ketu placed (the water) above saying ' so be it, gods.' Thence arose gods, men, Fathers, Gandharvas and Apsarasa. That is the upper quarter. From the drops which fell apart arose the Asuras, Rakshasas, and Pisachas. Therefore they perished, because they were produced from drops. Hence this text has been uttered; 'when the great waters became pregnant, containing wisdom, and generating Svayambhu, from them were created these creations. All this was produced from the waters. Therefore all this is Brahma Svayambhu.' Hence all this was as it were loose, as it were unsteady. Prajapatiwas that. Having made himself through himself, he entered into that. Wherefore this verse has been uttered; ' Having formed the world, having formed existing things and all intermediate quarters, Prajapati the first born of the ceremonial entered into himself with himself.' "

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