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Why does in Mahabharata Samba Parva (chapter 42 verse 15) Krishna says Shispula didn't obtain Rukmini like a Shudra not obtain Vedas? Does this imply that Shudras are forbidden from the knowledge of Vedas?

The verse is

रुक्मिण्याम अस्य मूढस्य परार्थनासीन मुमूर्षतः
न च तां पराप्तवान मूढः शूद्रॊ वेदश्रुतिं यथा

The translation given is as follows

Desirous of speedy death, this fool had desired Rukmini. But the fool obtained her not, like a Sudra failing to obtain the audition of the Vedas.

source: Sacred texts

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  • This should help you hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/43845/19211 Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 5:57
  • This is not shocking because all Hindu scriptures say the same thing even the Tantras say the same.
    – Rickross
    Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 6:54
  • Doesn't that verse suggest Shudras can learn the Vedas? But, one who fails at doing so are similar to what Shishupal.
    – Haridasa
    Commented Jan 9 at 14:22

2 Answers 2

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Sudras are majority 85% of society and they were Engineers, Metal Works, Potters, Carpenters, Artisans, Craftsmen, Tradesmen, Peasants, Weavers, Cart-builders and other Service Professions . If they stopped all works to build society and study Vedas how will society run? Study of each Veda takes 12 years with lots of restrictions on food, wealth etc. Its tiresome and time consuming and if majority society follows it then building of society shall stop. Does this imply that Shudras are forbidden from the knowledge of Vedas? No! Sudras are eligible to acquire knowledge from other sources like Agamas/Puranas and achieve the same end result. All such devotees are as respected as Bramhanas.

I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone. I am equal to all. But whoever renders service unto Me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.(Gita 9.29)

O son of Prtha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth, women, vaiśyas and śūdras can attain the supreme destination.(Gita 9.32)

Sufficient liberty of action is left to them in consequence of which all individuals may attain to an equality of condition. (MB Anu CLXIV)

Yajnavalkya says By obtaining brahmajnana from a brahmana or kshatriya or vysya or shudra or even a person of low caste, person with faith should constantly practice the same.(MB Shanti 378,Shl 87)

I have already told you that people of all varnas can remain in their ashrama-dharmas and obtain jnana. Therefore, whether a person dedicated to jnana of any varna he will surely get moksha;this is the opinion of scholars.”(MB Shanti 378,Shl 91)

This is the procedure for the Diksha and its attending ceremonies meant for the Sudras. This is conducive to the deliverance from the worldly existence for all the four castes.(Varaha Purana 127.32)

They remain severally in their own Varna,Asrama and Acara,but are all impressed (without caste distinction) with the Cakra and Sankha which are sacraments of Vaishnava initiation.(Ishwara Samhita 7.179)

Yogis are born among all castes; and no caste-odium shall hold in their cases, for they have seen their souls.(Bharadvaja-Samhita 1.44)

Brahmins learned in the Vedas, monarch, regard a (virtuous) Sudra as equal to a Brahmin himself. I, however, O king, look upon such a Sudra as effulgent Vishnu of the universe, the foremost one in all the worlds.” (MB Shanti 302,Shl 12-18)

One who is a devotee of Supreme Personality of Godhead can never be called a Sudra, rather he is glorified as a Bhagavata or one who is connected with Bhagavan. If one is not a devotee of Lord Krsna,however,even if born of a Brahmana, Ksatriya or Vaisya family, he should be considered a Sudra. (Hari Bhakta Vilasa 10.165)

Trying to prove and recognize a Vaishnava devotee through his caste,form,place,home, profession etc is considered as the greatest of the sins. (Prajapathya Smriti)

If a devotee of Vishnu, even though he be a Chandala, is recollected, named, seen or touched accidentally by anybody, O dear madam, the former purifies them. (Varaha Purana 211.9)

It is through deep love that the Chandala makes me his own, while without it the Brahmin is nothing to me. (Garuda Purana 1.231.9)

A Bramhana who is expert in studying all four Vedas is not dear to Me. But a devotee who comes from a family of Chandalas is dear to Me. He should be offered gifts and one should accept gifts from him. He is as worshipable as I am. (Hari-Bhakta-Vilasa 10.127)

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The OP asks the following question -

Does this imply that Shudras are forbidden from the knowledge of Vedas?

Answer: The Hindu Smriti texts do not permit Shudras to obtain knowledge of the vedas.

Brutal punishments are prescribed for Shudras who listens to or recites or remembers the vedas.

Gautama Dharma Sutra 12

  1. Now if he (Sûdra) listens intentionally to (a recitation of) the Veda, his ears shall be filled with (molten) tin or lac.
  1. If he recites (Vedic texts), his tongue shall be cut out.
  1. If he remembers them, his body shall be split in twain.

Other smritis also mention that Shudras cannot obtain knowledge of vedas.

Vasistha Dharmasutra 18

  1. Some call that Śūdra race a burial-ground.
  1. Therefore (the Veda) must not be recited in the presence of a Śūdra.
  1. Now they quote also the (following) verses, which Yama proclaimed: 'The wicked Śūdra-race is manifestly a burial-ground. Therefore (the Veda) must never be recited in the presence of a Śūdra.'
  1. 'Let him not give advice to a Śūdra, nor what remains from his table, nor (remnants of) offerings (to the gods); nor let him explain the holy law to such a man, nor order him (to perform) a penance.'
  1. 'He who declares the law to such a man, and he who instructs him in (the mode of) expiating (sin), sinks together with that very man into the dreadful hell, (called) Asaṃvṛta.'

Manusmriti 4

  1. Let him not give to a Sudra advice, nor the remnants (of his meal), nor food offered to the gods; nor let him explain the sacred law (to such a man), nor impose (upon him) a penance.
  1. For he who explains the sacred law (to a Sudra) or dictates to him a penance, will sink together with that (man) into the hell (called) Asamvrita.

Apastambha Dharmasutra 1.3.9

  1. He shall avoid to Study the Veda on a high-road.
  1. Or he may study it (on a high-road), after having smeared (a space) with cowdung.
  1. He shall never study in a burial-ground nor anywhere near it within the throw of a Samyâ .....
  1. A Sûdra and an outcast are (included by the term) burial-ground, (and the rule given, Sûtra 6, applies to them).

PS: Above verses are extremely offensive but please dont shoot the messenger.

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  • I think mostly the OP wants to know why Krishna said so? I think it is hidden after my edition to the question. Will edit and keep it correctly.
    – Mr_Green
    Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 5:30
  • @Mr_Green Does this imply that Shudras are forbidden from the knowledge of Vedas? This is the question OP asked. And I answered this question.
    – user22374
    Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 5:35
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    Very bad answer. "The Smrti and the Puranas are productions of men of limited intelligence and are full of fallacies, errors, the feelings of class and malice. Only parts of them breathing broadness of spirit and love are acceptable, the rest are to be rejected." O ruler of the Videhas, Brahmins learned in the Vedas, monarch, regard a (virtuous) Sudra as equal to a Brahmin himself. I, however, O king, look upon such a Sudra as effulgent Vishnu of the universe, the foremost one in all the worlds.” (MB Shanti 302,Shl 12-18) Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 5:55
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    I don't downvote answers because I know it spoils points of you. You are just trying to quote Dharma Sastras neglecting all good points from Mahabharata. Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 6:04
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    @SethuSrivatsaKoduru You already explained this in the answer. Better not to repeat the same to each person. Having unnecessary discussions leads to debates which this Q&A site is desperately trying to avoid as much as possible. Better to just downvote, for the time being. Hope you will understand :).
    – Mr_Green
    Commented Jan 15, 2021 at 8:20

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