O Adi shankaracharya and Acharya Ramanuja commenting on Brahmasutras said

  • Sudras are not allowed to study or hear any Vedas.
  • If a sudra studies or hears Vedas he should be punished.
  • Reading or Hearing about Vedic knowledge will destroy ignorance.

  • Are Sudras allowed to read scriptures other than Vedas ?

  • Why they are not allowed to study them ?


Are sudras allowed to read scriptures other than Vedas ?

Yes they are allowed to read and hear some Scriptures like the Puranas,Itihasas etc.

From Devi Bhagavatam:

18-24. At every Manvantara, in each Dvâpara Yuga, Veda Vyâsa expounds the Purânas duly to preserve the religion. Veda Vyâsa is no other person than Visnu Himself; He, in the form of Veda Vyâsa, divides the (one) Veda into four parts, in every Dvâpara Yuga, for the good of the world. The Brahmânas of the Kali age are shortlived and their intellect (Buddhi) is not sharp; they cannot realise the meaning after studying the Vedas; knowing this in every Dvâpara Yuga Bhagavân expounds the holy Purâna Samhitas. The more so because women, S’udras, and the lower Dvijas are not entitled to hear the Vedas; for their good, the Purânas have been composed

And the reason why they are not allowed to read or hear the Vedas is because they don't wear the Sacred thread.

The Sacred thread ceremony is done only for the men belonging to the first 3 castes but neither for the Sudras nor for the women.

Before reading the Vedas an "initiation" is needed which the Sudras are not entitled to have.

Manu Smriti 10.126. A Sudra cannot commit an offence, causing loss of caste (pataka), and he is not worthy to receive the sacraments; he has no right to (fulfil) the sacred law (of the Aryans, yet) there is no prohibition against (his fulfilling certain portions of) the law.

10.127. (Sudras) who are desirous to gain merit, and know (their) duty, commit no sin, but gain praise, if they imitate the practice of virtuous men without reciting sacred texts.

However,having posted all this,let me clarify that i'm not quite in support of determining caste by birth or by samskara.

Because,in Brahma Purana even Parama Shiva says:

Na yonirnaapi samskaaro na Shrutirnacha santatih, Kaaranaani Dwijasttvasya vrutthamevatu vidheeyatey

It is not by birth, samskara, knowledge of Vedas and by the Offspring that a person possesses, but Brahmanatwa is a decisive factor merely on one’s own behavior, conduct and actions!

But determining caste by Gunas only is also no doubt a complicated and somewhat impractical process.

  • Can you provide the exact verse reference from Brahma Purana? – SMJoe Apr 7 '17 at 6:01
  • 1
    @SMJoe i found the verse on this page.. The verse is highlighted so u'll find it easily. – Rickross Apr 7 '17 at 12:33

I am supplementing the answer given by defining the term Sudra.

These teachings are not to be imparted to persons who are wicked, haughty, barbarous, foul in conduct, hypocritical, given to sensuous indulgences, interested exclusively in their worldly concerns, who are without devotion to Me or who persecute My devotees.

Srimad Bhagavata Purnana III.32.39-40

Srimad Bhagavatam emphasizes conduct as the reason for not teaching the Vedas to a person and not last name based Sudra.

What is curious is that Vedas themselves deny such a thing (i.e. Vedas are not for Sudras)!

I do hereby address this salutary speech for the benefit of humanity, for the Brahmanas, the Kshatriyas, the Sudras, the Vaishas, the kinfolk and the men of the lowest position in society.

Yajur Veda 26.2 translated by Devi Chand


we have seen many from lower stratum of society reach high place with devotion to lord.

  1. Varaha purana (kaishika ekadashi) one ekadashi is named after chandala
  2. In haridasas Kanaka dasa had darshan of lord, In alzhwars thirupannalzhwar, thirumangai alzhwars reached paramapada
  3. Elephant attained moksha by the grace of Sri Hari

Lord doesnt differentiate in his benevolence for his grace, but he had codified certain role for every varnas. One accordingly does their duty Lord is still happy.

In order to know whether they know vedas check with their songs which revels vedas message

All the above received the grace without knowing Vedas no not really, everything is inside self, when you realize yourself, everything will be revealed on its own including the knowledge contained in vedas. Lord required unalloyed love and devotion, everything else is fulfilled on its own. But when you dont perform the duties prescribed by lord according to varnashrama dharma, then there will punishment. In that sense its more easier for sudras to attain lord than brahmanas who need to perform lot of prescribed karmas as per his varnas.

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