Daring to Move Beyond Scripture

Dalit – ‘untouchable’ a term many of us will have heard in relation to caste. In certain communities, rules still exist about where Dalits can walk, the utensils they can use, who they can touch & of course who they can marry etc.

In fact, the opinion still remains, the Dalit birthright is to clean up the waste of others.

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But the issue of caste goes far deeper than what we see on the surface.  It’s vital to acknowledge however, when considering the issue of caste – what most Westerners see as cruel, discriminatory & outdated is actually rooted in early religious text. This text being the Law of Manu found in the Upanishads & accompanied by the belief that a person’s caste is the result of their past karma.

The Laws of Manu – date of publication uncertain but believed to be about 200 BC – was a hybrid moral-religious-law code and one of the first written law codes of Asia. In spite of its age, it has sustained paramountcy in the Hindu culture. It was also the code of conduct for inter-caste relationships in India.
Formed from the Laws of Manu, it has governed much of Hindu history. At the top of Hindu society were the Brahmin. As members of this caste, Brahmins made up the priestly caste of Hindu society. For them was reserved the right to both study and teach the Hindu sacred texts, known as the Vedas.

Both Hinduism & Buddhism share beliefs on the law of karma, its influence on rebirth & the impact our present behaviour may have on future lives.  Both differ strongly however on the issue of caste with Buddhism very much rejecting the idea, in the belief we all have the potential to connect with our Buddha nature in this life if we so wish.

What are your thoughts on Karma? & Because the idea of caste is rooted in religious texts, can it ever be abolished?

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