Q: Manu on Pouring Lead in Sudra Ears

Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan Palaniappa at AOL.COM
Tue Feb 1 05:31:27 UTC 2000

In a message dated 1/31/00 6:33:47 PM Central Standard Time,
zydenbos at BIGFOOT.DE writes:

> The issue becomes interesting in view of repeated brahmin-
>  Virasaiva polemics about whether the Virasaivas have
>  vedaadhikaara or not. The Virasaivas redefined what brahminhood
>  means, and this meant that according to the (more) orthodox
>  brahmins, the Virasaivas cannot have such authority, whereas the
>  Virasaivas claimed the contrary.

Didn't Virazaivism have many vizvakarma-brAhmaNa followers who were
anti-brahminical unlike the Tamil zaivism where brahmins and vellALas were

A Salankayana charter has the following contents.

"Hereby I, being desirous of increasing the dharma (merit), longevity and
strength of myself, as also of increasing the fame, strength and happiness of
bAlaka-mahArAjakumAra khaMdapotta, have given this village of piDiha, in
accordance with the prescribed rites and formalities pertaining to the
agrahAra-rathakAra (class of gift), to the rathakAra-chaAturvaidya (the
chaturvedin of the rathakAra class or caste) who is endowed with the capacity
of cursing and of conferring boons, and is engaged in meditation and in the
study of the vedas ordained (according to rules) for the various gotras and
charaNas in accordance with the prescribed rites and formalities pertaining
to the agrahAras of the rathakAras..." (p.7)

(See "Two Salankayana Charters from Kanukollu" by B. V. Krishna Rao, EI,
vol.31, p. 1-10)

The anti-brahminical attitude of the vizvakarma brAhmaNas could have been the
result of them being deprived of their earlier privileges as the varNa/caste
rules became stricter.

Although zaGkara and rAmAnuja used the rule of pouring lead in zUdra's ears
to support their  positions denying zUdra's access to the knowledge of
brahman, the reality seems to have been different. A 10th century inscription
of Rajaraja I (no. 170 of SII. vol. 13) mentions the recitation of
talavakAra-sAmaveda, taittirIya veda and chandoga-sAmaveda before the deity
at kuttAlam, Tanjore dt., for which 25 brahmins were appointed. In the temple
setting, I doubt if zUdras (veLLALas) could not hear the vedic recitation.

S. Palaniappan

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