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Scriptures have remedy for everything. Various mantras various austerities can give us miraculous position. For eg. It is possible to become Indra (who is King of Heaven) by performing 100 Ashwamedha Yajnas.

Similarly mantras can also have wonderful powers. Eg. As I discuss in this question Mritasanjeevani Vidya can even make a dead person alive. Although it seems like rising from dead is impossible but power of mantras can make it possible.

We see that we can achieve unbelievable things through the power of Mantras. Although the Vedas do not speak of birth based caste system, but as discussed here Brahma Sutra seem to suggest
caste system is birth based and all ancient commentators of Brahma Sutra think caste system is birth based.

Although I personally believe in Guna Based Varna system. We can find several examples in Smriti/ Itihasa (which may be latter addition) that the caste system is birth based. In such situation Sudras aren't considered eligible for Jnana or to learn Vedas.

Now, if a Sudra has curiosity to learn Vedas or has curiosity to achieve Jnana then how can he remove his Sudrahood in his very birth and thus learns Vedas? Can a Shudra convert himself to Brahmana in this very birth? Are there any mantras, any austerities any methods which a Shudra can do to make himself a Brahmana in this very birth?

  • Two headed cows don't exist in reality. – Julien Dec 19 '16 at 16:25
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Yes, it is possible through the power of Panchakshari Mantra. As already discussed in question Mantras can have wonderful powers. Similarly through the power of Panchakshara Mantra even a Shudra can become a Brahmana in this very birth.

Panchakshara Mantra is "Namaha Shivaya" or "Om Namaha Shivaya" or "Shivaya Namaha."

In the chapter Glory of Pranava Panchakshara Mantra [Chapter 17 Videsvara Samhita Shiva Purana] various powers of Panchakshara Mantra are told. There Sage Suta also tells that Panchakshara Mantra even can convert Sudra into a Brahmana. As stated in chapter:

क्षत्रियः पञ्चलक्षण क्षत्रत्वमपनेष्यति ।
पुनश्च पञ्चलक्षण क्षत्रियो ब्राह्मणो भवेत् ।।
मन्त्रसिद्धिर्जपाद्यैव क्रमान्मुक्तो भवेन्नर ।
वैश्यस्तु पञ्चलक्षण वैश्यत्वमपनेष्यति ।।
पुनश्च पञ्चलक्षण मन्त्रक्षत्रिय उच्यते ।
पुनश्च पञ्चलक्षण क्षत्रत्वमपनेष्यति ।।
पुनश्च पञ्चलक्षण मन्त्रब्राह्मण उच्यते ।
शूद्रश्चैव नमोऽन्तेन पञ्चविंशतिलक्षत ।।
मन्त्रविप्रत्वमापद्य पश्चाच्छुद्रो भवेद्द्विज।
नारीवाथ नरो वाथ ब्राह्मणो वान्य एव वा ।।

A Kshatriya should recite this mantra five lacs of times, then he is freed from duties of a Kshatriya. By again reciting the mantra by five lakhs (five hundred thousand) of times more, he becomes a Brahmana. By again reciting the same number of the mantra, one achieves the siddhi in the mantra and one gets free from reciting the japam. By performing the japam of the mantra five lacs of times, a Vaisya is freed from Vaisyatwa or remaining as Vaisya. By reciting the mantra for five lacs of times, it is called as mantra Kshatriya. By reciting further by five lacs of times his Ksatriyahood is removed. By further reciting the mantra by five lacks times more, he is called the mantra Brahmana. In case a Sudra adding Namah at the end of the mantra, recites the mantra by twenty five lacs of times, then he achieves the position of a mantra Brahmana. After reciting the japam by twenty five lacs of times again, a Sudra is turned into a pure Brahmana. Irrespective of the one, being a woman, man. a Brahmana or anyone else, all are purified with the reciting of this mantra. 

Thus it is clear from the above passage that it is possible for a Sudra to remove his Sudrahood and become a Brahmana through the power of Panchakshara mantra.

From the above passage:

For a Kshatriya:

● If a Kshatriya wants to remove his Kshatroto so that he wants to be free from duties of Kshatriya then he should do japam of Panchakshari Mantra (Om Namaha Shivaya) 5 Lakhs times.

● If he now wants to become Brahmana he should do japam of same Panchakshari Mantra 5 Lakh times. Then he gets the position of Brahmanhood.

For a Vaishya:

● If a Vaishya wants to remove his Vaishatwo (being free from duties of Vaishya) he should do japam of Panchakshari Mantra "Om Namaha Shivaya" for 5 Lakh times. Then his Vaishyahood is removed.

● By doing Japam of Panchakshari further 5 Lakh times he gets to the position of Mantra Kshtraiya.

● By further chanting 5 Lakh more times he can remove his Kshatriyahood.

● By further doing japam 5 Lakh times he reaches to the position of Mantra Brahmana.

● After attaining position of Mantra Brahmana if he does japam for further 25 Lakh times he gets the position of pure Brahmana.

For a Sudra:

For a Shudra the rule is a little bit different as the passage states " शूद्रश्चैव नमोऽन्तेन" ie. "Shudras should chant with Namaha at the end." ie. Instead of chanting "Om Namaha Shivaya" , one should chant "Shivaya Namaha" (ie. Having Namaha at the end).

● On doing japam of "Shivaya Namaha" mantra 25 Lakh times, a Shudra gets the position of Mantra Brahmana.

Now after getting position of Mantra Brahmana if he does japam of "Om Namaha Shivaya" 25 Lakhs time he gets the position of Pure Brahamana.

Thus it is possible for a Shudra to become a Brahmana through the power of Panchakshari Mantra. For the information about general method of japam of Panchakshari mantra, one can refer to the beginning of the same chapter of Shiva Purana ie. Vidyesvara Samhita chapter 17 "Glory of Pranava Panchakshara Mantra."

As a Side Note I want to give some features of Panchakshari Mantra here:

▪ It is called Panchakshari Mantra because of five (Pancha) syllables in it "Na" "Ma" "Shi" "Va" "Ya".

▪ Vedas during the time of dissolution enter inside Panchkashari Mantra and thus remain protected as I discuss here.

▪ To the newly formed five headed Brahma Lord Shiva provides Panchakshari through his five heads and thus this mantra is revealed to Brahma at that time. [Linga Purana Part 2 chapter 85].

▪ Panchakshari Mantra is also revealed in Veda Samhita of Yajurveda in the SataRudriya section. Like 16th chapter of Shukla YajurVeda, 4.5.8 of Krishna Yajurveda, 17th Chapter of Kathaka Samhita, 2.9.2 of Maitrayani Samhita and so on..

[Note that for those verses it doesn't matter whether one believes in birth based caste system or Guna based Varna system.]

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    @Rickross Some people now just chant names without OM or Beeja words.. But a mantra is said is to be useless without "Beeja" sounds. I think for Sudras it works like "Nama Japa" (just my guess). But Smriti only impose those rules on Sudras and women. So, not sure whether to believe those smriti or not. – The Destroyer Dec 19 '16 at 8:57
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    @Rickross yes, a Sudra should chant only "Shivaya Namaha" without Pranava until he achieves position of mantra Brahmana.. then he can use Om.. it is made clear after the coming verses in the chapter... – Tejaswee Dec 19 '16 at 9:00
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    @Rickross "Shivaya Namaha" doesn't become lifeless without Om because.. it itself is the expansion of Om.. the beginning part of that chapter.. (chapter 17 Vidyevara Samhita) explains it... – Tejaswee Dec 19 '16 at 9:04
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    @Rickross yes Japa includes Homam (1000 oblations), at least 6 Brahmans (1 normal and 5 representing Sadyojata, Ishana, etc..). Donation of either 2 cows or 1 cow and 1 bull. It's method is given in the same chapter.. That's why I wtote: "For the information about general method of japam of Panchakshari mantra, one can refer to the beginning of the same chapter of Shiva Purana ie. Vidyesvara Samhita chapter 17 "Glory of Pranava Panchakshara Mantra."" Because writing all will make answer very long... – Tejaswee Dec 21 '16 at 3:49
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    @Rickross but these Homams and Donations may not be mandatory for Sudras and womens because one verse says: Sudras and women should take mantra from a Brahmana/Guru without Pranava and start the Japa... – Tejaswee Dec 21 '16 at 3:51
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By Deeksha also (Guru Deeksha i mean) a Sudra can get rid of his Sudratva.

Gatam Sudrasya sudratvam ViprashyApi cha VipratA|| DeekshasamskAraSampanne JAtibhedo Na Vidyate ||

After Deeksha Samskara a Sudra does not remain a Sudra,neither a Vipra remains a Vipra.There remains no differences of caste after Deeksha.

KulArnava Tantram,Chapter 14,Verse 91.

Its interesting to note that the differences due to varnashrama ceases to take effect after Guru Deeksha.That is why deeksha is given supreme importance in all Agama Shastras.

  • If this is true, why does Hindu scripture have stories such as Drona refusing to be Karna's guru (although I think it's an interpolation). Aren't these contradictory? This looks like a chicken and egg problem to me. Back then I think it was difficult to find a guru who'll initiate a shudra. – sv. Feb 13 '17 at 19:13
  • Also, I don't think this answers the question. Isn't the question: How can one convert to a Brahmin? I think what you're saying is: One can remove his Shudratva thru Deeksha. But what is he now after his Shudratva is gone? No caste? – sv. Feb 13 '17 at 19:15
  • @sv. This is true so there is no ifs and buts here..Its Lord Shiva who is saying so..This is also about Guru Deeksha Or Mantropadesha as per Agamas that is as per Tantras..It comes only from a Guru of a particular Sampradaya(which started from Lord Shiva) & not from any other forms of Guru..The case of Drona and Ekalavya is un related here..Yes, it does not answer the Q if u see from one angle but it answers if u see it from my angle..What is the main problem that a Sudra has?He has a whole lot of restrictions regarding performing rituals regarding studying scriptures etc.... – Rickross Feb 14 '17 at 4:57
  • @sv....By this Deeksha those restrictions r removed..So he becomes as good as a Brahmin(in many sense but may be not in every sense).. Actually what it says is that the caste system cease to exist after the Deeksha..At least as far as the Agama rites are concerned its true..Also before Deeksha both a Sudra & a woman has to be purified by the elaborate prescribed methods.. – Rickross Feb 14 '17 at 4:58
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    @sv.drona refused not because of caste but he was allowed only to royal families. – Rakesh Joshi Feb 14 '17 at 6:12
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Very nice question. As far as Vedas are concerned, there is no differentiation based on caste or gender. Any genuine seeker is welcomed here.

If there is brahmajijnasa/dharma jijnasa in anyone born in shudra family he can be verily initiated into vedas and gayatri by upanayana.

*

***brAhmaNaH kShatriyo vaishyaH trayo varNAH dvijAdayaH saMskRtAshcAnyathA shUdrAH evaM vedavido viduH tasmAdayaM suto me.adyaH shUdravat vartate shishuH upanItaH kriyArhaH syAt iti vedeShu nirNayaH rAjJAmekAdashe varShe sadopanayanaM smRtaM aShTame brAhmaNAnAM ca vaishyAnAM dvAdashe kila (devI bhAgavata 7-7)

“The three varNa-s of brAhmaNa, kShatriya and vaishya are dvija (twice born) only if they undergo the upanayana saMskAra otherwise they are indeed considered to be shUdra in the absence of saMskAra”****

Janmana jayate shudrah
One is a Shudra by birth

Samskarad dvija ucyate
By observing Sanskara one becomes a Dvija

Vedapathi bhaved viprah
By studying the Vedas one becomes a Vipra

Brahma janati brahmanah
One who knows Brahman is a Brahmana

Hence by performing samskara and giving mantra upadesha he gains dwijahood. there is no need to chant any panchakshari etc for million times.

यथेमां वाचं कल्याणीमावदानि जनेयः। ब्रह्म राजन्यायां शूद्राय, चार्याय च स्वाय चारणायच।। – यजुः अ. 26-2

Just as I am speaking these blessed words to people (without distinction), in the same way you also spread these words among all men and women – the Brahmanas, Ksatriyas, Vaisyas, Shudras and all others, whether they be our own people or aliens(foreigners).

Shukla Yajurveda 18.48:

Ruchannu dhehi brahmanesu ruchaha rajasu naskrudhi | Ruchanwisyeshu Sudreshu mayi dheyi rucha rucham ||

O Lord! Provide enlightenment to our Brahmanas, Ksatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras. Provide me also with the same enlightenment so that I can see the truth.

Further, many shastras say that a brahmin or dwija becomes candala by doing wrong deeds or by ignoring the prescribed vedic duties like sandhyavandanam. Same way a shudra can also be promoted as a dwija and a dwija can become chandala by wrong deeds.

Further, there is also opinions that Mahidasa Aitariya and Satyakama Jabala etc were also born from low caste women. yet they went on to learn from gurus and became enlightened.

Reference

  • From the scriptural references you provide, The Devi Bhagwata verse itself clearly mentions Brahmanas, Vaishyas and Kshatriyas distinctly. It is to be noted that it doesn't mention Shudras. Also, that these varnas become Shudra without sanskara doesn't prove the converse that Shudras become "dwijas" by sanskara. – SMJoe Apr 7 '17 at 18:54
  • "If there is brahmajijnasa/dharma jijnasa in anyone born in shudra family he can be verily initiated into vedas and gayatri by upanayana." - This is an over-arching feat of imagination without any scriptural basis whatsoever. – SMJoe Apr 7 '17 at 18:56
  • It would be great if you provide the source for translation of the first Yajurveda verse, I could not find such a translation anywhere. As regards the second Yajurveda verse, there are many verses in the Vedas which pray for all living beings, even animals and insects as well as humans, in the same verse. This doesn't mean that all these living species are equal and have no distinction. Thus, just because all the four varnas are prayed for in the same verse doesn't imply anything. – SMJoe Apr 7 '17 at 19:00
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    @SMJoe the verses show that dwijahood is based on samskara.. even if one is born in a brahmin family and does not have samskara then he is not eligible for access to Vedas. – Rakesh Joshi Apr 8 '17 at 5:59
  • Yes, but does any verse show that a Shudra becomes a "dwija" by Samskara? Also, the people are Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas already, and then they become Shudras without Samskara. What makes them so in the first place? – SMJoe Apr 8 '17 at 6:55
0

Yes, there are a number of instances in the Hindu scriptures that talk about falling down from a varna or the other way around. By not following one's svadharma (own dharma), one loses his varna. In Srimad Bhagavatham, Ajamila who was initially a Brahmin is described to have fallen from the varna because of his ill conduct and neglect of svadharma. Scriptures quote that a Brahmin who does not perform regular sandhyavandana is no more a Brahmin. He is simply called a brahmana-bandhu (a friend of Brahmin). If three generations of a family do not perform sandhyavandana and Gayatri, they are not considered as Brahmins according to the scriptures. Likewise, there are other instances in the scriptures where sages like Vishwamitra and Harithas (the progenitor of Harithasa gothra) who were originally Kshatriyas changed to the brahmin varna by virtue of their sadhana and penance. Change of varna is possible by rigorous practice of mantra that is obtained from an accomplished Guru. But one has to bear in mind that the svadharma still has to be followed, while chanting the mantra.

  • But what about Sudras?Do u know of any methods by which a Sudra can become a Brahmin?Tezz's answer mention one such method. – Rickross Dec 20 '16 at 9:21
  • By penance and austerities. Though very generic, that's the certain answer that we get to this question from the puranas. The specific method and practice that one must adapt can only be suggested by a spiritual master/guru. – Vamsi Emani Dec 20 '16 at 9:39
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    By austerities a Shudra can become a Brahmin in his present life--I wud love to see which Scriptures say so..Pls add those references in ur answer. – Rickross Dec 20 '16 at 12:04

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