Satapatha Brahmana II. 1.4.11

“(Uttering), ‘bhuh’, Prajapati generated this earth. (Uttering)‘bhuvah’ he generated the air, and (Uttering) ‘svah’ he generated the sky.This universe is co-extensive with these worlds. (The fire) is placed with the whole. Saying ‘bhuh’, Prajapati generated the Brahman; saying ‘bhuvah’’ he generated the Kshattra; (and saying) ‘svah’, he generated theVis. The fire is placed with the whole. (Saying) ‘bhuh’, Prajapati generatedhimself; (saying) ‘bhuvah’, he generated offspring : saying ‘svah’, he generated animals. This world is so much as self, offspring, and animals. (The fire) is placed with the whole.”

Taittirya Brahmana III. 12.9.2

“This entire (universe) has been created by Brahma. Men say that the Vaishya class was produced from ric verses. They say that the Yajur Veda is the womb from which the Kshattriya was born. The Sama Veda is the source from which the Brahmins sprang. This word the ancients declared to the ancients.”

Why are Brahmanas speaking of only three Varnas? Was there never a Sudra Varna? What's the context of these hymms?

  • 3
    When enumerating triads, the Shudra is included in the Vit (or Vish) i.e Vaishya. It is because they form part of the general population. You can see in the quotes above, everything is fitted into triads to correspond to the bhUr-bhuvah-svah triad. This is similar to the triad of Vedas vs 4 Vedas. When triad of Vedas is needed, Atharva is included in the Rik, because they are both metrical. Shudra varna may have started out as a sub-group within Vaishyas, where they were assistants. Even in temple priests, you find main priest and assistant priest.
    – RamAbloh
    Jan 24, 2021 at 18:22
  • 1
    Here you get a couple of Vedic mantras that mention the 4 Varnas together. @SethuSrivatsaKoduru
    – Rickross
    Jan 25, 2021 at 9:06
  • 1
    @SethuSrivatsaKoduru hi, they are 2 different issues. First, those who say Purusha Suktam is interpolated, what is the timeline? I had written an answer saying it is not interpolated based on its concepts and linguistic style. It belongs properly in the 10th mandala of Rig Veda. It is not out-of-place. So it is not interpolated. As for the mention of 4 varnas, some say only that verse was inserted later. But again, there is no evidence for that. The entire suktam lists all the different things in the universe coming out of Purusha. Shudra and earth both come from the feet.
    – RamAbloh
    Jan 28, 2021 at 20:54
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    The Purusha Suktam mentions the varnas as philosophical categories, not as hereditary lineages. The same is seen in most instances in Vedas. I have written in detail about it here.
    – RamAbloh
    Jan 28, 2021 at 21:10
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    As regards Vaishya and Shudra, if you see their attributes, they are involved in all the worldly activities like agriculture, manufacturing, business, infrastructure, engineering, arts, crafts, etc, So that is their commonality. So it is very likely in ancient times, there was no hard and fast demarcation. "Vaishya" comes from "Vish" meaning "people". So all people who were not Brahma or Kshatra were Vaishya. But as I said before, within every category, there will be some who provide service as needed.
    – RamAbloh
    Jan 28, 2021 at 21:18


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