Can there be any proofs from Hindu Scriptures where we could say that Shudras read Vedas ?

  • 1
    I'm very sure that even if any such examples present, they can safely be discarded as "exceptions" & "not a suggested dharmâcharaňa" for a common "average-joe" hindu.
    – Vivikta
    May 18, 2021 at 9:18
  • I don't think so - To my knowledge a Sudra has to first become something else like Brahmin - which is possible in many ways.
    – R. Kaushik
    May 18, 2021 at 9:47
  • There are countless instances in Hinduism of people changing Varna. You can just google it. Not only that there are also many people above Vedic varna system. One such link is here - hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/16417/…
    – R. Kaushik
    May 18, 2021 at 10:32
  • 1
    Thankyou , Had seen this once @R.Kaushik May 18, 2021 at 10:33

2 Answers 2


Here are some of the quotes from Hindu Scripture which say Shudras can read Vedas :-

  • Agni, the all-beholding, who is in the form of the Pavamana, the benefactor of the five orders, the precede at sacrifice: him we solicit, who is hymned by the great.(Rig Veda 9.66.20) 1

Prof Wilson writes that the five orders could indicate four castes and the outcasts.

  • According to Aupamanyava, they are the four castes and the Nisadas. Yaska quotes RV 8.63.7 to show that the five-tribes of the stanza under discussion are meant to be human, and thus supports this view by implication. This means that the four castes and the Nisadas shared the sacrifice in common. This would imply some sort of inter-dining among the various castes, and would show that the water-tight compartments into which the various castes are divided, and separated by rigid barriers of mutual exclusiveness, did not exist in Yaska's time. Further, the epithet ' holy' (yajhiyasah) is applied to 'five-tribes'. If we accept Aupamanyava's view, all the four tribes and the Nisadas would be holy. (Nirukta 8.9 commentary) 2
  • There is a view that setting up of sacred fire is prescribed for the fourth caste. (Bharadvaja Srauta Sutra 5.2.9) 3
  • The Shudras have Anustubhs as their metre, thereby gets honour among the Shudras (Sankhayana Srauta Sūtra 14.33.18-19) {Indra performed a sacrifice known as ‘Apaciti’ for honour. Just as he got honour among the different categories of gods who have Gayatri, Trishtubh, Jagati and Anushtubh as their metres, so does a person who performs this sacrifice gets honour among the 4 varnas} 4
  • Now there are four different forms of this call, viz. 'come hither!' in the case of a Brâhman; 'approach (âgahi)!' and 'hasten hither (âdrava)!' in the case of a Vaisya and a member of the military caste ; and 'run hither (ādhāva)!'in that of a Śūdra. {Generally the maker (Haviskrt) of the sacrificial oblation (Havis), which is usually the wife of the sacrifice performer (Vide SB, is to be called at a certain time of the yajna. The call differs for all four castes. As per it, the words for calling the Shudra yajamana’s oblation preparer are : Haviskrit ādhāva} - SB 5
  • Let him not make it (the sepulchral mound) too large, lest he make the (deceased's) sin large. For a Kṣatriya he may make it as high as a man with upstretched arms, for a Brāhmaṇa reaching up to the mouth, for a woman up to the hips, for a Vaiśya up to the thighs, for a Śūdra up to the knee; for suchlike is their vigour.{ In context of Somayaga in place of the payovrata i.e. vow to drink milk only mastu is prescribed for Sudra indicating thereby that the Sudra could perform Somayaga } - SB 6
  • For special reason says Badari, all are, therefore, equally entitled.(Mimamsa Sutras 6.1.27).

Commentary reads "He is, therefore, of opinion that a Shudra can perform fire sacrifise at any time he likes. The word special reason in the sutra may also mean ample time or reason "{Though Jamini tries to refute his statements later} 7

  • Sanskara Ganapati the Commentary of The Paraskara Grhya has a provision for Upanayana of Shudras. 8
  • Kavasha Ailusha is the author of several hymns in the tenth Book of the Rig-veda and was born of a Shudra women. 9
  • Lastly in this answer 10 the Author cites Uvata and Mahidhara commentaries saying Veda itself says that it is for the benefit of all classes of society.

Edit : Famous indologist, Patrick Olivelle mentions, " These groups were not as watertight as the later caste divisions of Indian society, and there appears to have been some mobility across the groups. (The Early Upanishads, page 5)."11

  • Okay, nice. Also, Is the Prof. Wilson you quote here called Horace Hayman Wilson in full? If so, he might become a distasteful source for an answer on HSE, for some members.
    – Vivikta
    May 18, 2021 at 10:45
  • Let it be so. He just cites opinions of other Vedic commentators. And lastly I have mentioned various direct quotes from scriptures. Readers can "ignore" this quote @Vivikta May 18, 2021 at 10:59

Are there any proofs in Hindu Scriptures as well as cited by scholars that Shudras might have / can read Vedas?

There were some Mimamsakas during the time of Jaimini and before who thought that anyone including Shudras is eligible to perform Vedic yajnas. One of them went by the name of Badari and he is mentioned as a purvapaksha in Jaimini's purva mimamsa sutras.

This article illustrates his beliefs:

On another occasion also, Badari is referred to by Jaimini as having offered a similar interpretation of the Vedic sentences against all approved conventions. He held the view that members of all the four classes are permitted by the Vedic injunctions to perform sacrifices when they desired any result, because there is no specific mention to exclude the fourth class. In order to substantiate his own view, he has interpreted many Vedic sentences as he liked to suit his purpose (see purva mimamsa sutra 6.1.27 and shabara's bhashya on it).

Such extra-ordinary interpretations and theories of Badari and some early Bhashyakaras according to him, are gracefully but emphatically rejected by Shabara in his Bhashya. Such views appear to have been the origin and source of inspiration for many later writers like Bhartrmitra and others who were opposed to Shabarswamin.

To elaborate on his justifications: In the Vedas, there are statements like, "one who desires heaven, should offer the agnishtoma yaga". In this sentence, there is no restriction on caste. All it says is, "one who desires", so by default that means anyone.

There is another common Vedic statement that says, "We don't know our ancestral lineage on whether we are brahmins or not. Therefore, before conducting this yajna, we will declare ourselves as descendants of the devatas". The rule before conducting yajnas is that one should announce their ancestral rishi. But no one can guarantee that their lineage is accurate due to the possibility of adultery, secret sex, inter-caste mixture, etc. being done by ancestors. So, the priests will instead say, "we are descendants of the gods".

There is another Vedic statement that says something like, "He becomes a Brahmana before performing the yajna." The gist is that a person is like a Brahmana when performing a yajna. This is why the dharma shastras say that a person who kills a kshatriya or vaishya who is performing a yajna acquires the sin of brahmahatya, and should therefore do the prayaschitta for brahmahatya. From this vedic statement, one could think that a shudra is a brahmana when he performs a vedic yajna.

  • Badari said that Shudras could perform Fire Sacrifise whenever they wanted. They could get initiated whenever they wanted. Its Jamini who lays theories of Heaven etc all. archive.org/details/mimamsasutra00jaimuoft/page/306/mode/2up May 18, 2021 at 13:47
  • 1
    @SethuSrivatsaKoduru Right, that's what I said in this answer.
    – Ikshvaku
    May 18, 2021 at 13:49
  • @SethuSrivatsaKoduru Shudras can do some yajnas like pakayajna, shraddha, etc. But in many places in vedas, brahmana, kshatriya, and vaishya are only mentioned, and no shudra. Shudras are omitted there for a reason.
    – Ikshvaku
    May 18, 2021 at 13:50
  • Yes sir ! My point is "one who desires heaven, should offer the agnishtoma yaga". In this sentence, there is no restriction on caste. All it says is, "one who desires", so by default that means anyone." But this isnt whay Badari thinks. Yes they are omitted in later texts but why Madhidhara Uvata Yaska(His preceddesors) Bharadvaja Commentaries on Srauta Sutras ask Sudras to establish 3 fires, lay provision for Upanayana and so on ? May 18, 2021 at 13:52
  • @SethuSrivatsaKoduru "But this isnt whay Badari thinks." - oh, then what does he think?
    – Ikshvaku
    May 18, 2021 at 13:54

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