It is claimed by Srivaishnavites that although scripture has statements supporting Nirguna Brahman and also statements supporting Saguna Brahman - Ramanuja allegedly found yet another category of statements "ghataka shrutis" that resolved everything in favor of the Srivaishnavite position.

Analogously, scripture has both "caste by birth" and "caste by gunas" statements. Have Srivaishnavite teachers found "ghataka shrutis" on the caste question that resolve the contradictions?


Do Srivaishnavites have the equivalent of “ghataka shrutis” to resolve the birth vs guna caste question?

The Vedas themselves declare that caste is based on ancestry (gotra), and hence birth.

There are several Sruti texts that state Varna is based on birth. I've listed a few below:

Chhandogya Upanishad 5.10.7 - Those whose conduct has been good here will shortly get birth such as a Brahmana (brahmana yonim), a kshatriya, or a vaishya. But those whose conduct has been evil will be born in evil births shortly such as the birth of a dog (shva yonim), or as a pig, or a chandala.

The word used is "yonim", and it means birth or womb, and is used to refer to birth as a dog (shva), and pig, and since it's also used along with the names of castes, it must be taken to mean that one is born into those castes just like animals, so it doesn't merely mean being born into a woman who self-identifies as a Brahmin. It means being born into the womb (yoni) of a Brahmin, and a person born into such a womb naturally acquires Brahminical qualities due to gene transfer.

Maitrayani Samhita 1.4.1 - We know not if we are brahmins or non-Brahmins. ...Therefore, when recounting our gotra-pravaras, say that the devas are our ancestors.

This verse from the Maitrayani shakha of the Krishna Yajur Veda is referred to in Jaimini's Mimamsa Sutras, and commented on by Shabara swami. The sutra reads:

On account of the failings of women, (there can be no certainty regarding one's caste); specially as the son belongs to the progenitor.

Shabara's commentary for the sutra:

It is difficult to know if one is really a Brahmana; - and this is what is figuratively spoken of as 'we do not know'; and the difficulty in knowing it for certain is due to the 'failings of women'.

This vedic verse shows that caste is determined by gotra pravaras (ancestral lineages), and hence caste is inherited and based on birth.

If caste was determined by guna or self-identification/self-claiming, like the followers of Vivekananda and reformist Vedantins believe, then this verse would not mention gotra pravaras at all since it wouldn't be relevant.

And another verse is from the Ashwamedha section of the Taittiriya Brahmana, which reads:

‘When a Sudra woman is the mistress of an Arya, she does not seek wealth for prosperity’. Therefore they (the priests) do not bestow royal consecration on the son of a Vaishya woman."

This shows that only kshatriyas by birth are allowed to be consecrated as kings, and not other castes.

The pre-Ramanuja Sri Vaishnava scholar Yamunacharya has stated:

Every man has some Vedic rites for which he is not qualified: the Brahmin is not qualified for the royal consecration, the Kshatriya for the ritual drinking of soma.

So it is proven that the Vedas talk about a birth-based caste system.

Then what about those scriptures that say caste is based on guna?

Here is how Vedanta Desikan resolves it in his Rahasya Traya Sara:

In such passages as this: - "He should be considered as a Shudra", the great sages called men of higher castes by the words applicable to lower castes and vice versa merely to indicate the degree of consideration or respect to be shown. - page 301

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Ghataka sruti's are used by Advaitins too and it does not mean that "Ramanuja allegedly found yet another category of statements "ghataka shrutis" that resolved everything in favor of the Srivaishnavite position."

In advaita vedanta,

bheda shruti talks about jiva and Brahman or ishwara as different.

Abheda shruti talks about the oneness of Atman and Brahman

The link joining bheda and abheda is called as ghaTaka shruti. They explain the link between jiva atman and parama atman.

From the Vedartha Sangraha of Sri Ramanujacarya English Translation by S.S. Raghavachar

Sri Ramanuja recognises three lines of thought in the Upanishads concerning the relation between Brahman, the self and the world:

(1) Passages which declare difference of nature between the world, the self and Brahman. Here the world is the non-sentient matter (acit) which is the object of experience, the self is the experiencing conscious subject (cit), and Brahman, the absolute ruling principle.’ These may be named analytical texts.

(2) Passages which teach that Brahman is the inner self of all entities which constitute his body. For instance, ‘He who dwells in the earth and within the earth, whom the earth does not know, whose body the earth is, and who rules the earth within, he is thy Self, the ruler within, the immortal’ etc. (Br. 3:7:3-23). These are called ghataka-shrutis or mediating texts.

(3) Passages which proclaim the unity of Brahman with the world in its causal as well as effected aspect. The famous text, ‘That thou art, O Svetaketu’ (Chan. 6:2-8) comes under this category. These may be termed as synthetic passages.

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  • I did not see Shankara using the word "ghataka sruti" to refer to any portion of sruti. Please cite references to support your position. – kākatālīya Mar 17 at 17:41
  • Of course not. It is only used by advaita vedanits who refute Ramanuja. Vedanta Paribhasha discusses the philosophy of Ramanuja and refutes it. – GIRIBLR Mar 18 at 4:11

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