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In this rather biased and hinduphobic video spreads misinformation about Hinduism a lot, saying it was cruel and completely ignored the wellbeing of lower classes and exploited who were eventually saved by the British. Not only that it implies that Hindus were cruel because of their religion.

One important thing I'm trying to refute is at 1:44:00, Dr Jordan Peterson says there was no idea or concept of higher class people working for the welfare of the lower class people. And it is certainly not Bramhinical Doctrine. Is this true? Are there any instances in Puranas or Itihasa granthas where a high class has served low class. Or is it there in any moral scriptures like Vidura Neeti or others about how a king should serve his subjects as a public servant.

Please reply with the reference and quotation.

Edit: This answer already gives a lot of sources from Mahabharata. Please answer if you know any from the Smritis or Vedanta or Ramayana or Puranas? Regarding general virtue and especially how upper kingly and priestly class should treat the lower classes well and serve them?

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    These people (who are in video) ignored Sudama, Drona etc., they suffered alot for wealth.
    – hanugm
    Jun 4 at 17:19
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    And it is clearly mentioned in Mahabharatha that it is the responsibility of other orders/varnas to maintain Sudras.
    – hanugm
    Jun 5 at 5:47
  • @hanugm can you please give sources Jun 5 at 7:47
  • I shall now tell thee the profession he should follow and the means by which he may earn his livelihood. It is said that Sudras should certainly be maintained by the (three) other orders. sacred-texts.com/hin/m12/m12a059.htm
    – hanugm
    Jun 5 at 8:04
  • Please read this answer
    – hanugm
    Jun 5 at 8:06

2 Answers 2

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I am giving some quotes that may or may not be the ones you are looking for. There are indeed verses in Hindu scripture that seem to show cruelty towards the lower classes. However, a Hindu is not supposed to agree with such verses.

A Hindu should not practice anything given in any scripture that is against the interest of another person. A Hindu has no obligation to follow scripture slavishly. Her only obligation is to truth. Critics of Hinduism are very quick to point out some of the bad things in Hindu scripture. They, however, 'forget' to add the warning in Hindu scripture not to follow such bad things.

If a holy act is against the interest of other members of the society, it should not be practiced. It is Dharma which is the source of Artha and even of Kama.

Kurma Purana I.2.54

The Smritis 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. The Upanishads and the Gita are the true scriptures.

The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda/Volume 6/Epistles - Second Series/CXXIV

Liberality

  1. The Gods have not ordained hunger to be our death: even to the well-fed man comes death in varied shape. The riches of the liberal never waste away, while he who will not give finds none to comfort him. 2 The man with food in store who, when the needy comes in miserable case begging for bread to eat, Hardens his heart against him-even when of old he did him service-finds not one to comfort him. 3 Bounteous is he who gives unto the beggar who comes to him in want of food and feeble. Success attends him in the shout of battle. He makes a friend of him in future troubles. 4 No friend is he who to his friend and comrade who comes imploring food, will offer nothing. Let him depart-no home is that to rest in-, and rather seek a stranger to support him. 5 Let the rich satisfy the poor implorer, and bend his eye upon a longer pathway. Riches come now to one, now to another, and like the wheels of cars are ever rolling. 6 The foolish man wins food with fruitless labour: that food -I speak the truth- shall be his ruin. He feeds no trusty friend, no man to love him. All guilt is he who eats with no partaker. 7 The ploughshare ploughing makes the food that feeds us, and with its feet cuts through the path it follows. Better the speaking than the silent Brahman: the liberal friend out yalues him who gives not. 8 He with one foot hath far outrun the biped, and the two-footed catches the three-footed. Four-footed creatures come when bipeds call them, and stand and look where five are met together. 9 The hands are both alike: their labour differs. The yield of sister milch-kine is unequal. Twins even differ in their strength and vigour: two, even kinsmen, differ in their bounty.

Rig Veda 10.117

Helping the indigent

Bhishma said, "Whatever wishes one entertains with respect to oneself, one should certainly cherish with respect to another. With the surplus wealth one may happen to own one should relieve the wants of the indigent. It is for this reason that the Creator ordained the practice of increasing one's wealth (by trade or laying it out at interest)."

Mahabharata, Santi Parva, Section CCLIX

Fellow-feeling

Austerity, purity, fellow-feeling and truth are the four qualities of Dharma…

Srimad Bhagavata Purana I.17.24

Need to feel for the afflicted

A Brahmana might be even-sighted and calm in disposition. But if he cannot sympathise with the afflicted, all the merits of his austerity come to naught like water kept in a broken pot.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana !V.14.41

Service to the afflicted humans

I abide in all beings as their inner-most soul. Disregarding My presence within them, men make a show of worshiping Me through images. If one disregards Me present in all as their soul and Lord but ignorantly offers worship only to images, such worship is as ineffective as a sacrificial offering made in ashes. A man who persecutes Me residing in others, who is proud and haughty, who looks upon God as the other – such a person will never attain to peace of mind. If a man disregards and persecutes fellow beings, but worships Me in images with numerous rituals and rich offerings, I am not at all pleased with him for proffering such worship. A man should, however, worship Me in images, side by side with discharging his duties, which include the love of all beings, until he actually realises My presence in in himself and in all beings. As long as man is self-centred and makes an absolute distinction between himself and others (without recognising the unity of all in Me, the Inner Pervader), he will be subject to the great fear of Death (including every form of deprivation of self-interest). So, overcoming the separateness of a self-centred life, one should serve all beings with gifts, honour and love, recognising that such service is really being rendered to Me who reside in all beings as their innermost soul.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana III.29.21-27

King's duties

A King will attain to joy in this world and the next, if he protects his subjects from oppressive officers and thieves, and collects taxes in accordance with the scriptural law.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana IV.14.17

King gets merits or demerits

The King derives his highest good by protecting his people. A King who protects his people well, will derive one-sixth of the merits of his subjects in the life hereafter. But a King who collects taxes from people without administering their affairs properly, will lose all the merits to his credit and will inherit the sins of his people to boot.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana iV.20.14

Importance of service

Narada said, ‘Yet just as the heavenly wish-yielding Tree, the Kalpakavriksa, gives one’s objects of desire only when one goes under it and prays for what one wants, so Thy grace too is bestowed on men through the service of Thee. Blessings come according to service, not on considerations of high and low.

Srimad Bhagavata Purana VII.9.27

Tenderness towards all creatures

"Besides these their respective obligations, there are duties equally incumbent upon all the four castes. These are, the acquisition of property, for the support of their families; cohabitation with their wives, for the sake of progeny; tenderness towards all creatures, patience, humility, truth, purity, contentment, decency of decoration, gentleness of speech, friendliness; and freedom from envy and repining, from avarice, and from detraction. These also are the duties of every condition of life.

Vishnu Purana III.viii.1-

Vidura on virtue

Vidura said, ‘Study of the various scriptures, asceticism, gift, faith, performance of sacrifices, forgiveness, sincerity of disposition, compassion, truth, self-restraint, these constitute possessions of Virtue. Do thou adopt Virtue. Let not, thy heart ever turn away from it. Both Virtue and Profit have their roots in these. I think that all these are capable of being included in one term. It is upon Virtue that all the worlds depend (for their existence). It is by Virtue that the gods attained to their position of superiority. It is upon Virtue that Profit or Wealth rests. Virtue, O king, is foremost in point of merit. Profit is said to be middling. Desire, it is said by the wise, is the lowest of the three. For this reason, one should live with restrained soul, giving his attention to virtue most. One should also behave towards all creatures as he should towards himself.

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CLXVII

Vidura on Kindness

Ablution in all the holy places and kindness to all creatures – these two are equal. Perhaps, kindness to all creatures surpasseth the former.

Mahabharata, Udyoga Parva, Section 35

Rule of Righteousness

Vrihaspati said, 'That man who practises the religion of universal compassion achieves his highest good. .. He who, from motives of his own happiness, slays other harmless creatures with the rod of chastisement, never attains to happiness, in the next world. That man who regards all creatures as his own self, and behaves towards them as towards his own self, laying aside the rod of chastisement and completely subjugating his wrath, succeeds in attaining to happiness. The very deities, who are desirous of a fixed abode, become stupefied in ascertaining the track of that person who constitutes himself the soul of all creatures and looks upon them all as his own self, for such a person leaves no track behind. One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one's own self. This, in brief, is the rule of Righteousness.

Mahabharata Anusasana Parva, Section CXIII

King must behave like father and protector and not like a tyrant

O king, thou shalt not swerve from virtue. Those men only, O Yudhishthira, whose practices resemble those of robbers, cause a king by their counsels to take to a career of war and victory. That king who, guided by considerations of place and time and moved by an understanding dependent on the scriptures, pardons even a number of robbers, incurs no sin. That king who, realising his tribute of a sixth, doth not protect his kingdom, taketh a fourth part of the sins of his kingdom. Listen also to that by which a king may not swerve from virtue. By transgressing the scriptures (one incurs sill), while by obeying them one may live fearlessly. That king who, guided by an understanding based upon the scriptures and disregarding lust and wrath, behaves impartially, like a father, towards all his subjects, never incurs sin. O thou of great splendour, if a king, afflicted by destiny, fails to accomplish an act which he should, such failure would not be called a trespass. By force and policy should the king put down his foes. He must not suffer sin to be perpetrated in his kingdom but should cause virtue to be practised. Brave men, those that are respectable in their practices, they that are virtuous in their acts, they that are possessed of learning, O Yudhishthira, Brahmanas conversant with Vedic texts and rites, and men of wealth, should especially be protected. In determining suits and accomplishing religious acts, they that are possessed of great learning should alone be employed. A prudent king will never repose his confidence upon one individual, however accomplished. That king who does not protect his subjects, whose passions are ungovernable, who is full of vanity, who is stained with haughtiness and malice, incurs sin and earns the reproach of tyranny. If the subjects of a king, O monarch, waste away from want of protection and are afflicted by the gods and ground down by robbers, the sin of all this stains the king himself. There is no sin, O Yudhishthira, in doing an act with heartiness, after full deliberation, and consultation with men capable of offering good advice. Our tasks fail or succeed through destiny. If exertion, however, be applied, sin would not touch the king.

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section XXIV

Maintenance of Social Harmony duty of a King

"Vyasa said, 'O thou of eyes like lotus petals, the protection of subjects is the duty of kings. Those men that are always observant of duty regard duty to be all powerful. Do thou, therefore, O king, walk in the steps of thy ancestors. With, Brahmanas, penances are a duty. This is the eternal ordinance of the Vedas. Penances, therefore, O bull of Bharata's race, constitute the eternal duty of Brahmanas. A Kshatriya is the protector of all persons in respect of their duties. 1 That man who, addicted to earthly possessions, transgresses wholesome restraints, that offender against social harmony, should be chastised with a strong hand. That insensate person who seeks to transgress authority, be he an attendant, a son, or even a saint, indeed,--all men of such sinful nature, should by every means be chastised or even killed. That king who conducts himself otherwise incurs sin. He who does not protect morality when it is being disregarded is himself a trespasser against morality. The Kauravas were trespassers against morality. They have, with their followers, been slain by thee. Thou hast been observant of the duties of thy own order. Why then, O son of Pandu, dost thou indulge in such grief? The king should slay those that deserve death, make gifts to persons deserving of charity, and protect his subjects according to the ordinance.'

Mahabharata Santi Parva Section XXXII

Lying is allowed to save the life of a Sudra

Manu Smriti is usually criticized for it's illiberal attitude towards Sudras. There is one verse that is an exception.

शूद्रविड् क्षत्रविप्राणां यत्रऋतोक्तौ भवेद् वधः । तत्र वक्तव्यमनृतं तद् हि सत्याद् विशिष्यते ॥ १०४ ॥

śūdraviḍ kṣatraviprāṇāṃ yatraṛtoktau bhaved vadhaḥ | tatra vaktavyamanṛtaṃ tad hi satyād viśiṣyate || 104 ||

Where the telling of the truth would lead to the death of a Śūdra, a Vaiśva, a Kṣatriya or a Brāhmaṇa,—in that case falsehood should be spoken; as that is preferable to truth.

Manu Smriti 8.104

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  • Superb answer. Do ypu know any from the Smritis or Vedanta or Ramayana? Regarding general virtue and hiw upper kingly and priestly class should treat the lower classes well and serve them? Jun 5 at 7:50
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    Your question really deals with secular matters. There may be some information about it in Arthasastra. I have not read that book so I can't provide any quote from that text. There is some discussion about duties of Kings in the early part of Mahabharata Santi Parva. I am adding those discussions. By the way I have given quotes not only from Mahabharata but also from Vishnu Purana and Bhagavada Purana, Jun 5 at 11:34
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    I have added one verse from Manu Smriti and also another verse from Kurma Purana that says that a Hindu does not have to slavishly agree with anything written in scripture. Jun 5 at 12:17
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This is in reference to the role and the social contribution of priestly class .

An ideal Brahmin is not a slave of sensual pleasure ,upholds the Vedic dharma, offers protection not only to humans but also to other creatures thru Vedic practices(eg. vaishvadeva),

Vana Parva ,Mahabharata

दानं क्षमा शीलम आनृशंस्यं दमॊ घृणा दृश्यन्ते यत्र नागेन्द्र स बराह्मण इति समृतः
satyaṃ dānaṃ kṣamā śīlam ānṛśaṃsyaṃ damo ghṛṇā dṛśyante yatra nāgendra sa brāhmaṇa iti smṛtaḥ

Truthfulness, generosity, patience, good character, compassion, self-control, tenderness One in whom these are seen, O King of Snakes, he is a Brahmana. Thus it is known.

Shrimad Bhagavad Mahapurana 11.17.42

brahmanasya hi deho ’yam  ksudra-kamaya nesyate krcchraya tapase ceha  pretyananta-sukhaya ca
The body of a brahmana is not intended to enjoy insignificant material sense gratification; rather, by accepting difficult austerities in his life, a brahmana will enjoy unlimited happiness after death.

Following excerpt from Hindu Dharma, The Universal Way of Life,by Pujyasri Chandrasekharendra saraswati swami, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan details the role , contribution of Brahmana Varna to the society.

The Brahmin's body is not meant to experience sensual enjoyment but to preserve the Vedas for the good of mankind. It is for this purpose that he has to perform rites like upanayana. He has to care for his body only with the object of preserving the Vedic mantras and through them of protecting all creatures. Others may have comfortable occupations that bring in much money but that should be no cause for the Brahmin to feel tempted. He ought to think of his livelihood only after he has carried out his duties. In the past when he was loyal to his Brahminic dharma the ruler as well as society gave him land and money to sustain himself. Now conditions have changed and Brahmin today has to make some effort to earn his money. But he must on no account try to amass wealth nor must he adopt unsastric means to earn money. Indeed he must live in poverty. It is only when he does not seek pleasure and practices self-denial that the light of Atmic knowledge will shrine in him. This light will make the world live. The Brahmin must not go abroad in search of fortune, giving up the customs and practices he is heir to. His fundamental duty is to preserve the Vedic mantras and follow his own dharma. Earning money is secondary to him. If the Brahmin keeps always burning the fire of mantras always burning in him, there will be universal welfare. He must be able to help people in trouble with his mantric power and he is in vain indeed if he turns away a man who seeks his help, excusing himself thus: "I do the same things that you do. I possess only such power as you have".

If a Sudra does not have enough food , if he does not have enough clothing, and if he does not have roof over his head to shelter him from rain and sun, the whole community and the government must be held responsible-and both must be held guilty.

I repeat that the Brahmin's means of livelihood was in no way better than the Sudra's, nor did he enjoy more comforts than members of the fourth varna.
(Pujyasri Chandrasekhara Saraswathi Swami)

some additional quotations from Vidhura Neethi on kshatriya dharma,

In malice lieth the strength of the wicked ; in criminal code, the strength of kings, in attentions of the weak and of women; and in forgiveness that of the virtuous(Himsa balama saadhunaam.. 62)

That king who renounceth lust and anger, who bestoweth wealth proper recipients, and is discriminating, learned, and active is regarded as authority of all men(yaha kama manyu.. 85)

Illustrious Kings (Lord Rama, King Janaka , Harishchandra, et al. -list continues unabated) have enlivened the Kshatriya Dharma , and their history is the source for the Kshatriyas virtue (conduct) and how their attitude towards people.

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