Re: [INDOLOGY] Vīraśaivas and Vedas, etc.

Robert Zydenbos zydenbos at
Tue Nov 15 13:39:03 UTC 2016

Nityanand Misra wrote:

> On 14 November 2016 at 18:17, Robert Zydenbos > wrote:
>     (1) To begin with: there are Vīraśaivas of various kinds, […]
> View (a) needs evidence. Do we have any? Apart from genetic evidence, is there any other way to prove it?

Before going into detail, I want to state clearly and unmistakably that I have been reporting *what informants in India have been telling me, in their own words.* I do not subscribe to any of these views because I have no proof for any of them.

What I find most probable is that a collective adoption of Vīraśaivism by a group of brahmins took place, by which their group identity within the new super-community was retained. (This is found also in other religious groups, e.g., Konkani-speaking Catholics.)

> View (b): what exactly is meant by a quasi-brahmin?

Reportedly (remember: I am only repeating what people have told me! Fieldwork!), a person who is not a descendant of 'real' brahmins (by which is meant a genetic relationship to ancestors who were recognized as brahmins) and 'yet behaves like one' (by which is meant: social exclusiveness in matters of ritual purity, commensurality, intermarriage, or any other form of social intercourse, prompted by a sense of being 'superior' to others).

(If I may illustrate this through a concrete example: I myself can be the very worst of all quasi-brahmins when anyone through his or her behaviour tries to make me believe s/he is my superior for reasons that I find dubious. :-) Some friends claim that I simply am a kind of brahmin – but that is a matter of a different definition.)

> View (c), frankly speaking, is ludicrous and borders on conspiracy theory (I hope it is not meant to be a joke). As if the Brahmins have an underground organization (like the Mossad) which /infiltrates/ other communities to distort their teachings!!

No, sorry, this is not a joke at all. I am merely repeating what I have heard from more than one person over a period of several years. It has also been documented in a doctoral thesis, J.-P. Schouten's _Revolution of the Mystics_, of which an Indian reprint also exists. That such sub-communal tensions exist and are perceived in this way is a fact, whether we like it or not. I personally do not like it, but that is how it is. (My problem with that thesis is that its author apparently believes that this perception reflects historical reality. But I can confirm that the perception is real.)

> Vedādhyāpana is indeed done by Arya Samajis who are not Brahmin by birth. There is an influential Arya Samaj Pandit […]

I wonder: How many members does the Arya Samaj actually have? (By which I mean: the number of official members minus those who stopped having contact with the Samaj after their intercaste wedding.) What does "influential" mean? To what extent is the Arya Samaj (that organization whose founder claimed that electricity and railroads are found in the Vedas, and which is one of the nativist movements that led to the rise of Hindutva [see H.-J. Klimkeit, _Der politische Hinduismus_. Wiesbaden, 1981, chapter IV]) representative of Indian religiosity and social consciousness?

Mind you, these are mere rhetorical questions (so please do not respond). I am merely trying to point out that all these vague references, repeated in this thread, to the Arya Samaj are leading us away from the main issue, which is the question why anything that is manifestly non-Vedic should be labelled 'Vedic'.

Why should the Arya Samaj care about the Vedas in the first place? (My answer: because of the prestige lent to the Vedas by the prestigeous brahmin community!) – This is the last thing I will say about the Arya Samaj in this thread.

>     > Gujarat is predominantly vegetarian. Udupi Brahmin tag is not used, not required there.
>     Perhaps because Udupi is simply too far away from Gujarat? ;-)
> Still, Udupi/Udipi restaurants are common in Ahmedabad, where I lived for four years (2000 to 2004). There is a popular one at Paldi Char Rasta which was frequented by many students and tourists back then.

Excellent. Udupi food is good. So we may assume that 'Udupi' (or 'Udupi Brahmin') is used in their advertising, on sign boards etc.? Otherwise, how does one know?


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