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It seems highly likely that verse 5.10.7 of Chandogya Upanishad is not authentic. The first reason is that there are multiple versions and manuscripts of the Chandogya Upanishad that do not have verse 5.10.7. If the verse is authentic, how do you explain those manuscripts that do not possess this verse? The second reason is that Chandalas, as we know them today, didn't even exist in Vedic times. If the verse is authentic, it can not be referring to the group of people called 'Chandalas' today. The third reason why is because it's face-value interpretation is contradictory to the rest of the Upanishad.

I've been trying to find a reason why it could be an authentic verse but I can't find one.

Please don't downvote this without explaining why.

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  • If we ever come across a passage that was added to scripture, we have the duty to remove it, so that we may restore scripture to it's original state. Sep 16, 2022 at 17:18
  • Why would it be inauthentic? I mean all the verse is stating is those who do good get a good birth and those who do bad get a bad birth it isn't discussing character simply quality of life.
    – Haridasa
    Jan 20 at 18:41

5 Answers 5

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None of the answers objectively proved this verse as unauthentic. All Srutis and Smritis unanimously declare varna is based on birth at many places. people who are claiming this verse as unauthentic must prove it with evidences.

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  • This should be a comment under those answers; you'll be able to do that once you have 50 rep. Answer-posts, however, should actually be answers.
    – CDR
    Jan 20 at 20:40
  • Good, but I disagree. The verse above mentions that born of not necessarily is. One who is born in the womb of a high varna has access to worldly pleasures due to good karma of previous life it doesn't make them that varna and vice versa for low. A Shurda can become a Brahmin wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/the-mahabharata-mohan/d/…
    – Haridasa
    Jan 21 at 16:53
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तद्य इह रमणीयचरणा अभ्याशो ह यत्ते रमणीयां योनिमापद्येरन्ब्राह्मणयोनिं वा क्षत्रिययोनिं वा वैश्ययोनिं वाथ य इह कपूयचरणा अभ्याशो ह यत्ते कपूयां योनिमापद्येरञ्श्वयोनिं वा सूकरयोनिं वा चण्डालयोनिं वा ॥ ५.१०.७ ॥

tadya iha ramaṇīyacaraṇā abhyāśo ha yatte ramaṇīyāṃ yonimāpadyeranbrāhmaṇayoniṃ vā kṣatriyayoniṃ vā vaiśyayoniṃ vātha ya iha kapūyacaraṇā abhyāśo ha yatte kapūyāṃ yonimāpadyerañśvayoniṃ vā sūkarayoniṃ vā caṇḍālayoniṃ vā || 5.10.7 ||

  1. Among them, those who did good work in this world [in their past life] attain a good birth accordingly. They are born as a brāhmin, a kṣatriya, or a vaiśya. But those who did bad work in this world [in their past life] attain a bad birth accordingly, being born as a dog, a pig, or as a casteless person.

~ Chandogya Upanishad 5.10.7

In my opinion, the above verse is authentic. There are similar verses in Bhagavad Gita that reflect the same.

प्राप्य पुण्यकृतां लोकानुषित्वा शाश्वती: समा: | शुचीनां श्रीमतां गेहे योगभ्रष्टोऽभिजायते || 41|| अथवा योगिनामेव कुले भवति धीमताम् | एतद्धि दुर्लभतरं लोके जन्म यदीदृशम् || 42||

BG 6.41-42: The unsuccessful yogis, upon death, go to the abodes of the virtuous. After dwelling there for many ages, they are again reborn in the earth plane, into a family of pious and prosperous people. Else, if they had developed dispassion due to long practice of Yog, they are born into a family endowed with divine wisdom. Such a birth is very difficult to attain in this world.

~ Bhagavad Gita 6.41-42

The verses above clearly reflect that those yogis who weren't able to detach completely and know atman through eradication of false ego by practicing as yogi this birth, might get better family, knowledge, wealth status next birth and they would be born as more prosperous people.

But the inverse relation hasn't been shown in any scripture to be true, i.e. being born into a family of riches and learning guarantees good karma in the past or a good yogi in the past lives. The best of the yogis always treat all wealth, birth, gunas, people, etc the same and aren't affected by it.

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The authenticity of any text used to haunt the ancients. Hinduism has faced this problem in the past. In the ancient world no text was safe from modification because of the absence of the printing technology. So Hindu scriptures have given us guidelines to follow.

Guidelines

Everything written in Hindu scripture is not valid. A scriptural statement can be invalid if it does not satisfy reason.

Primacy of reason

Bhishma Said:

Even the words heard from an ignorant person, if in themselves they be fraught with sense, come to be regarded as pious and wise. In days of old, Usanas said unto the Daityas this truth, which should remove all doubts, that scriptures are no scriptures if they cannot stand the test of reason.

Mahabharata Shanti Parva Section CXLII

Acharya Shankara says:

The appeal to the infallibility of the Vedic injunction is misconceived. The infallibility in question refers only to the unseen forces or apurva, and is admissible only in regards to matters not confined to the sphere of direct perceptions, etc ... Even a hundred statements of sruti to the effect that fire is cold and non-luminous won't prove valid. If it does make such a statement, its import will have to be interpreted differently. Otherwise, validity won't attach to it. Nothing in conflict with the means of valid cognition or with its own statements may be imputed to sruti.

REF: Srimad Bhagavad Gita Bhasya 18.66 of Sri Sankaracarya translation by Dr. A. G. Krishna Warrier, p. 629.

Rejection of discriminatory verses

Any discriminatory verse in Hindu scripture is also automatically invalid according to Hindu scripture and should not be followed. This is necessary because Hinduism is not an organized dharma and does not have any central body to oversee the content of Hindu spiritual texts.

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 implication of the Kurma Purana verse is that the hereditary caste system practiced by Hindus is an invalid system on the grounds of discrimination. So if you think that the Chandogya Upanishad V.10.7 is discriminatory then you can regard that shloka as invalid regardless of its authenticity.

However, I don't think the Chandogya shloka is discriminatory. Read my post on this issue: Is it justified to Outcaste Chandalas?

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  • But how do you explain the existence of versions of the Chandogya Upanishad without this verse? And why do the earliest manuscripts not have this verse?
    – user28653
    Nov 4, 2022 at 1:16
  • If this verse really is authentic, then the word "chandala" is probably referring to some kind of impure animal species. If authentic, then the use of this word would predate any other mention my many centuries.
    – user28653
    Nov 4, 2022 at 1:18
  • It's implausible that Chandala could mean evil man considering that it's talking about birth as a Chandala. In all certainty, if the verse is authentic, then the word must be referring to some kind of animal.
    – user28653
    Nov 4, 2022 at 1:26
  • All the translations that I have seen contain this verse. That means Sankaracharya must have accepted this verse. Scholars consider the Upanishads commented on by Sankaracharya to be authentic. I don't know why some manuscripts don't contain this verse. Nov 4, 2022 at 3:23
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The second reason is that Chandalas, as we know them today, didn't even exist in Vedic times. If the verse is authentic, it can not be referring to the group of people called 'Chandalas' today.

The above argument seems to be that, as chhAndogya upanishad verse 5.10.7 mentions the term "chandala", the verse cannot be authentic.

However, even the Brihadaranyaka upanishad, which also belongs to the same period as chhAndogya upanishad, mentions the term "chandala", in a verse referring to the state of deep sleep and/or brahman.

Brihadaranyaka 4.3.22

atra pitāpitā bhavati, mātāmātā, lokā alokāḥ, devā adevāḥ, vedā avedāḥ । atra steno'steno bhavati, bhrūṇahābhrūṇahā, cāṇḍālo'caṇḍālaḥ, paulkaso'paulkasaḥ, śramaṇo'śramaṇaḥ,; tāpaso'tāpasaḥ, ananvāgataṃ puṇyenānanvāgataṃ pāpena, tīrṇo hi tadā sarvāñchokānhṛdayasya bhavati || 22 ||

  1. In this state a father is no father, a mother no mother, the worlds no worlds, the gods no gods, the Vedas no Vedas. In this state a thief is no thief, the killer of a noble Brāhmaṇa no killer, a Caṇḍāla no Caṇḍāla, a Pulkasa no Pulkasa, a monk no monk, a hermit no hermit. (This form of his) is untouched by good work and untouched by evil work, for he is then beyond all the woes of his heart (intellect).

Hence, this is not sufficient evidence to argue that the chhAndogya verse is not authentic.

It is also to be understood from the above Brihadaranyaka verse,that in the state of brahman and deep sleep, all caste and status distinctions, relations, merits, demerits etc disappear.

Bhagavad Gita also says the same thing -

vidyāvinayasaṅpannē brāhmaṇē gavi hastini|

śuni caiva śvapākē ca paṇḍitāḥ samadarśinaḥ৷৷5.18৷৷

5.18 The learned ones look with equanimity on a Brahmana endowed with learning and humility, a cow, an elephant and even a dog as well as an eater of dog's meat.

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You are completely right. The fact that the earliest manuscripts do not include this verse, and that there are still versions of the Upanishad that do not include this verse, mean that it's extremely unlikely this verse is authentic.

If the verse is authentic, then the word "chandala" must be referring to some type of impure animal, considering that no class of chandalas existed at the time of the composition of the Upanishads. Overtime, the word would have changed meaning until it reached it's current state.

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