Krishna Yajur Veda prohibit a shudra to perform sacrifice.

was created, the Vairaja Saman, of men the Çudra, of cattle the horse. Therefore the two, the horse and the Çudra, are dependent on others. Therefore the Çudra is not fit for the sacrifice, for he was not created after any gods. Therefore they depend on their feet, for they were created from the feet. The Trivrt is the breaths; the Pañcadaça the half-months; the Saptadaça Prajapati; these worlds are three; the Ekavinça is the sun yonder. In this they rest, in this they find support. He who knows thus rests on this, finds, support in this.

But in Rigveda 10:53:4, all varnas and nishadas are said to perform sacrifice.

Rigveda 10:53:4. This prelude of my speech I now will utter, whereby we Gods may quell our Asura foemen. Eaters of strengthening food who merit worship, O ye Five Tribes (brahimn Kshatriyas, Vaishya, shudra and nishada) , be pleased with mine oblation.

Nirukta 3:8.Ye five-tribes, enjoy my sacrifice. According to some, (the five-tribes) are the gandharvas, the manes, gods, demons, and evil spirits. 'They are the four castes with nisada as the fifth/ says Aupamanyava.3 From what (root) is nisdda (hunter) derived? (He is so called because) he lives by killing animals. Sin is embodied (ni- Vsad) in him,' say the etymologists.

Mahabharata also allow shudras to perform all the duties and sacrifices that are done by Brahmins.

All the four orders, therefore, have always the right to the performance of all pious duties and of sacrifices. Even thus were the four orders at first created equal by Brahman who ordained for all of them (the observances disclosed in) the words of Brahma (in the Vedas). — The Mahabharata, Book 12: Santi Parva: SECTION CLXXXVIII

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    Very nice question! Lets wait for answers! Commented Apr 18, 2021 at 4:51
  • "Not fit for" does not mean forbidden. It means the rite will have no effect. Shudras are free to do them, but they will not get any divine favour (or disfavour) from the rites. Commented Oct 6, 2021 at 13:56

1 Answer 1


But in Rigveda 10:53:4, all varnas and nishadas are said to perform sacrifice.

It doesn't actually say that:

O ye Five Tribes, be pleased with mine oblation.

Some devata is the speaker of that verse, he offered an oblation, and is asking "the five tribes" to be pleased with his oblation. Nowhere is it saying that shudras, nishadhas, etc. are performing sacrifices.

Krishna yajur veda verse occurs in the context of the soma yajna. So at least from the context, shudras are prohibited from performing the soma yajna. As a matter of fact, shudras must perform some sacrifices as mentioned by even the dharma shastras:

Gautama (10.64-65).—‘If permission has been given to him, the Śūdra may use the syllable namaḥ as his mantra. Some people declare that he may himself offer the Pākayajñas.’

Yājñavalkya (1.121).—‘Devoted to his wife, pure, supporting his dependants, devoted to the performance of śrāddha, he should not omit to perform the fire sacrifices with the syllable namaḥ as his mantra.’

Therefore, we can conclude that shudras are prohibited from sacrifices, but not all sacrifices.

There are Vedic yajnas where even shudras and nishadas participate and recite some mantras.

Mahabharata also allow shudras to perform all the duties and sacrifices that are done by Brahmins.

In other places in the Mahabharata, shudras are prohibited from taking up the duties of brahmanas. Perhaps in ancient times when all the castes were brahmanas, anyone could take up the duty of a brahmana. But today, after generations of degradation and intermixing, that option is not possible.

  • That is a good answer for the Vedic part, but it clearly states in Mbh that they have the right to participate in all Vedic rituals that doesn't mean giving up one's job per se perhaps look at the original Sanskrit verse.
    – Haridasa
    Commented Jun 6 at 23:00

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