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Historically for thousands of years, only Brahmin and Kshatriya men had access to Hindu texts. Women, Vaishyas, Shudras, and any foreigners were not allowed access to Hindu texts or Hindu teachings, or Hindu gods. People of other caste got access to the Hindu religion only recently after the coming of Britishers.

Al-Beruni who visited India in around 1000 AD reported that Hindu texts were limited to Brahmin and Kshatriya men only. Women, Vaishya, and Shudras were not allowed access to them. Because of this reason Hindu texts were only preserved in oral form so that people of other castes can't get access to them. Basically Knowledge of Hinduism was kept secret from people of other castes and foreigners. Hindu texts were recited and studied in a secret manner.

Because of this a section of Vaishays formed the Jain religion and Shudras formed Buddhism.

So, my question is Is Hinduism only for Brahmin and Kshatriya men? What does scriptures say about it. Can people of other castes and foreigners go to heaven?

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  • Please edit the question as it is unclear whether you are interested in knowing only the historical stance or the scriptural stance or the interplay of both.
    – hanugm
    May 14 at 8:08
  • @hanugm I wanted to know what scriptures say about it.
    – river
    May 14 at 8:09
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    Then obviously it is for all, but based on work division, it becomes necessary for some to read, understand, interpret, spread scriptureal knowlege and for others it is unecessary to do so. hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/46697/661
    – hanugm
    May 14 at 9:11

1 Answer 1

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1. Is Hinduism only for Brahmin and Kshatriya men? What does scriptures say about it?


No. Hinduism is for all the four castes and even mixed castes (although not encouraged). But, mostly, the major focus as per most texts and their interpretations by traditional, orthodox acharyas is towards the birth-based varna system.

Also, one can only be a Hindu, if born to Hindu-parents, as per traditional viewpoints.

It's based on the doctrine of the chatur Varṇāśrama dharma.

Canonical texts enjoin vertical divisions amongst people in the form of varna (popularly misnomered as caste), as per their karma (previous birth + current), and the horizontal division amongst each varna as phases of life viz. the Brahmacharyam, Grihastha, Vanaprastha and Sannyasi.

Note that: All the four āśramas may not be valid for Shudras and Vaishyas. I am not entirely sure about that

So, each varna has their prescribed Dharma (Agni Purāṇa 151.2-9), and one ought to follow that.

Srimada Bhagvada Gita 18.45a

स्वे स्वे कर्मण्यभिरतः संसिद्धिं लभते नरः।

Being devoted to his own duty, man attains complete success.

And eventually, step by step, as per merits, a person is said to raise in their varna and attain heaven or salvation, as per their karma.

This is how Brahma Purāṇa states the above fact.

Chapter 121 - Manifestation of Māyā, Brahma-purāṇa

संसारेऽस्मिन्महाघोरे सर्वभूतभयावहे । महामोहकरे नॄणां नानादुः खशताकुले ॥ २२९.४ ॥ तिर्यग्योनिसहस्रेषु जायमानः पुनः पुनः । कथंचिल्लभते जन्म देही मानुष्यकं द्विजाः ॥ २२९.५ ॥

  • 4 & 5. The worldly existence is extremely terrible. It strikes terror into all living beings. It causes sorrow to men. Hundreds of miseries abound in it. A soul is born again and again in thousands of species of lower living organisms, O brahmins, and with great difficulty it attains human birth.

मानुषत्वेऽपि विप्रत्वं विप्रत्वेऽपि विवेकिता । विवेकाद्धर्मबुद्धिस्तु बुद्ध्या तु श्रेयसां ग्रहः ॥ २२९.६ ॥

  • After human birth, he attains brahmin-hood, power of discrimination, a sense of piety, and happiness in successive births.

यावत्पापक्षयं पुंसां न भवेज्जन्मसंचितम् । तावन्न जायते भक्तिर्वासुदेवे जगन्मये ॥ २२९.७ ॥

  • Until the ultimate destruction of all sins of men accumulated in different births, devotion to Vāsudeva who is identical with the universe, is not possible.

So, basis above passage, an average person pass through successive births, and through merits acquired in each preceding birth he becomes a Brahmin, and then with devotion towards the God, such a person will attain Moksha.

This is for normal people, for their are always exceptions to the the above, but that must be treated as exception, and not a generalized theory.




2. Can people of other castes and foreigners go to heaven?


As per the Hindu worldview, everyone can attain Moksha, but as explained above not immediately, it's a process that might span thousands or lakhs of birth.

As regards the question on non-Hindu people reaching heaven, from Hinduism worldview, since their after-death rites are not performed as per Vedic injunctions, thus they cannot attain heaven, and roam as pretas, as discussed in this answer

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  • Thanks for answering but my question was about heaven (as getting moksha is very difficult ) . And for going to heaven , having a son of same caste (i.e Brahmin or Kshatriya) is essential.
    – river
    May 14 at 15:06
  • That's been explained in the l2nd part. @river . Heaven can be attained by anyone with great merits, provided they are Hindus, as explained in the answer linked. There are other views too, you can check out the linked answer and other answers there.
    – Vivikta
    May 14 at 15:09
  • By the way, your argument Regarding Shudras forming Buddhism is doubtful. Buddha himself was Kshatriya, and there are historical proofs that the shifts from Hinduism to Buddhism were from almost all the varnas, although it was skewed more towards the lower rung. But, that's a question for History.SE not here.
    – Vivikta
    May 14 at 15:11

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