In this answer it states that Brahmins should not perform vedic rituals for Shudras. Question is: does this mean most of the brahmins who are in temple or in priest role are breaking the rules by performing puja/havan for Shudras? These days there are very few Kshatriya/Vaishyas; so it is generally Brahmins or Shudras. So, how this works? Any views?

1 Answer 1


The answer you link to quotes references from dharmaśāstra and dharmasūtra literature. These are smṛti and not śruti, hence they are not authoritative for all times and places. This is why different dharmaśāstras and dharmasūtras were written in different epochs and different places, and in fact new ones can and should yet be written.

As I understand, Hinduism is not in any case a religion of absolute commandments. Rather, the right thing to do in any situation according to dharma should be determined by careful thinking (samīkṣā) and group discussion. This is the message of Mahābhārata and a lot of Indian literature.

Hence even in dharmaśāstra, there is variability on this question - I am quoting Kane History of Dharmaśāstra 2.1 p.156-7 as follows - "at least one ancient teacher was found (Bādari) was found who advocated that even śūdras could perform the Vedic sacrifices The Bhāradvāja Śrauta sūtra (V.2.8) states the opinion of some that the śūdra can consecrate the three sacred Vedic fires."

  • But Mahabharata you are quoting is not Shruti. So, how can to say Smriti can be ignored quoting ithihasa? @kalpya
    – Kanthri
    Apr 21, 2020 at 18:06
  • @SHebbar Thanks, good question. When we look at many examples in itihāsa, upanishads etc., we see ethical reasoning being applied in a non-dogmatic way, so we can understand that we can emulate the same example. This paradigm of not unquestioningly following general commandments doesn't itself need to be expressed as a commandment in order for us to agree with it. That is my view, but you may still disagree. Also, if I suggested śruti can be totally ignored, that's too strong - rather, it can be questioned, adapted and modified according to other pramāṇas, time, place and other factors.
    – Kalpya
    Apr 21, 2020 at 19:41
  • @SHebbar Also, in fact, we don't seem to find any absolute moral commandments in śruti, but in some cases the example of non-dogmatic thinking (e.g. RV Hiraṇyagarbha Sūkta, Nāsadīya Sūkta) and dialogue (e.g. RV Purūravas and Urvaśī Sūkta).
    – Kalpya
    Apr 21, 2020 at 19:53
  • I added one final paragraph to the original answer - please check again @SHebbar
    – Kalpya
    Apr 21, 2020 at 20:51

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