a simple (silly?) question (was Re: Metric Melodies)

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at cco.caltech.edu
Sat May 31 07:50:41 UTC 1997

On Sat, 31 May 1997, Jacob Baltuch wrote:

> >What I meant is that there are groups of Nambudiris, on
> >the whole a minority, who were traditionally not permitted
> >to learn/recite the Vedas.  The explanation given is that
> >these groups lost their "purity" at some point in history...
> >due to their involvement with medicine and healing, martial
> >arts etc.
> Yet that subgroup of the Nambudiris are still considered
> to be brahmans? In other words the statement that the first
> three varnas are permitted to learn the vedas (whereas
> shudras are not) is an oversimplification, as in fact there can
> be subgroups of the first three varnas who also were not taught
> the vedas?

Yes. Almost everything that is said about varNas is an oversimplification.
Those who read only the texts probably do not realize it, and continue to 
think of all brahmins as one homogeneous group. Those who research the
social reality understand how complicated the power relationships within
the castes really are. 


ps. I was under the impression that the ottillAta nambUdiris were supposed
to be a result of a curse that SankarAcArya is supposed to have laid on
some relatives of his, barring them from Vedic study. Is this correct? 

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