Q: Manu on Pouring Lead in Sudra Ears

Robert Zydenbos zydenbos at BIGFOOT.DE
Tue Feb 1 00:29:24 UTC 2000

On 31 Jan 00, at 6:07, Madhav Deshpande wrote:

> In this connection, I came across a series of documents in the
> files of the Peshwa rulers of Maharashtra (Peshwa Daftar, Vol. 43,
> pp. 92-94, edited by G.H. Sardesai).  Documents 108 and 110 deal
> with an interesting case.  Doc. 108 is a letter from an official
> who caught a Jangam (a non-Brahmin Shaiva priest) performing a
> Rudra (Taittiriya YV) recitation during an Abhisheka for a Bania.
> This was detected by the local Brahmins and reported to the
> official.  Both the Jangam and the Bania were jailed, [...]

> But then how did the non-Brahmin Jangam learn the Vedic Rudra
> recitation?  Who taught him? Document # 110 reports the finding
> that a Brahmin, Lakshman Bhat Bawle taught the Rudra recitation to
> the non-Brahmin Jangam.  The Brahmin was fined, was forced to give
> up the fees he had received from the Jangam, and was made to
> perform a series of penances [...]

Could it be that the 'jangama' was a Virasaiva? There are numerous
Virasaivas in Maharashtra too (also in the Pune area), and in
Karnataka the term 'jangama' was originally used for a wandering
Virasaiva mendicant (later it became a term for a heriditary, more-
or-less priestly sub-caste).

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. These arguments have also led to
a few cases of litigation, esp. in the Karnataka-Maharashtra border
area. The Rudra recitation was brought forward as a point of
dispute in one case early in the previous century, about which a
short book (in Kannada) was written some 30 years ago.


Charumati S. Zydenbos
de Genestetlaan 6
NL-5615 EH  Eindhoven
the Netherlands
tel. (+31-40-) 211-7804
e-mail c.s.zydenbos at iae.nl

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