I am posting this particular comment of Raghavan Srinivasan as separate post. He has beautifully explained how english educated brahmins drifted away from dharma..
I have no idea about brahmins or anti-brahmin sentiments in parts of India other than Tamilnadu. I am but a frog croaking from my Tamilnadu well and can speak from that limited perspective only! At the risk of repetition kindly allow me to suggest a few clarifications.
I agree that it was indeed the British who were the primary villains in undermining Indian society. I also agree that the brahmins did not side with the British with the intent of maliciously oppressing others. The British ruled India with the idea of looting its riches. They rearranged the Indian society to cement their hold on the country and facilitate transfer of wealth to Britain. It was plain loot and the entire society became impoverished in the process. Some brahmins also realized the error of fraternizing British institutions and participated in the freedom struggle. All said and done, the brahmins, by falling into that trap set by the British, (knowingly or unknowingly) became accessories to the mischief and were seen as collaborators. Leave alone the Mughal and British eras, even now a lot of brahmins are true to their Dharma. The grievance of the other communities was caused by the brahmins deserting their dharma, NOT because they were true to it.
All brahmins were not only archakas. They were into other professions also, but always allied to academics and having altruism as a foundation of whatever profession they adopted. The “anushtaanam” here was adherence to academicia and altruism. They were teachers, priests, astrologers, poets, and advisors to the rulers (example, Chanakya). At no point were they money lenders, labourers or soldiers (at least in Tamilnadu!). You may say that the Sungas were brahmins as were the Peshwas, but these examples were only aberrations and NOT the norm.
In ancient times education, power, wealth and labour and compartmentalized as separate silos and a community was forbid from acquiring more than one of these. This arrangement counteracted tendencies for aggrandizement, made each community dependent on the others and contributed for social cohesion. A brahmin with English education under the British acquired an erstwhile forbidden taste for wealth and power and started to overlord the other communities. This was precisely the reason why the ancients forbid the brahmin from wielding wealth or power.
A brahmin could not ‘commoditize’ his knowledge. Denial of service by a brahmin on grounds of affordability or selling to the highest bidder would both be construed as trade – the prerogative of the vaishyas. I think that is the principle behind the dakshina – receiving wholeheartedly whatever is offered – a ‘pay what you can’ concept and that is how the brahmins functioned in the past. Society did not expect any free service from the brahmin – after all he also had to survive. It did expect him NOT to fix a fee and be rigid to the extent of denying services to others. Please also refer Dharmpal’s book ‘The Beautiful Tree’ which describes the education system in India as seen by the British Collectors and officials.
A dakshina demanded with an ulterior motive would not really be honourable and Dronacharya cannot be held as the ideal example of a brahmana. Using your own example, if a brahmin doctor in private practice said his fee was 100 rupees and if a poor patient went away without consulting him because he could not afford his fees, would you say the brahmin doctor is true to the brahmana dharma? Is he not commoditizing his education and selling to a higher bidder – in other words, engaging in trade? Do you still consider him to be a brahmin, even if he did his sandhyavandhanam religiously? Far worse would be the brahmin doctor building a private hospital and making a profit – imagine a so called brahmin making a profit from another man’s distress. You may say the brahmin doctor is doing a ‘service’ in providing treatment, but then should he not adopt a ‘pay what you can’ system to deserve the service halo? The motive behind fixing the fees is to make money and not really to ‘serve the poor’, isn’t it? By saying all this I am not blurring any lines. On the contrary, the lines blur only when the brahmin learns English medicine, becomes a private / corporate doctor, and starts to make money from the sick.
It was the dharma of a vaishya to generate wealth in a honourable manner, and naturally they were interested in wealth. Avarice was certainly condemned. In Roman times, India was considered to be a ‘gold sink’ and the Romans were so worried about their depleting treasury that they started to debase their coinage. The Indian traders retaliated by curtailing trade with the Romans. How can a trader NOT be interested in money? A money lender could have ‘adhyatmik chinthana’ and engage in philanthropy etc, but the minute he sat behind his counter he had better be sure all his debtors repaid their loans in time! Altruistic ‘pay as you can’ dakshina schemes have obviously no place here! Statements like ‘no one’s money or everyones money’ do not follow the logic of the market place and for a vaishya to be like that would invite only disaster.
Becoming a dubashi i.e acquiring English education in itself does not make anybody adharmic. Becoming a dubashi and misapplying the varna instinct is what is adharma. As I have explained before, the other communities (at least in Tamilnadu) after becoming dubashi, are now venturing into fields not really appropriate for commerce, for example education and medicine. At least the other communities can say, “You brahmins set the example first.We merely followed you because, during all these years we really were implicitly following whatever you said!” Still, the other communities, even after becoming dubashi, could remain true to their varna dharma. For example, a trader can apply modern computer and mathematical skills, become phenomenally successful in Dalal Street and yet be true to his varna dharma. A brahmin who uses the very same formulae becomes a trader and hence fails his dharma. A brahmin can design the programme, but pressing the ‘Buy/Sell – Yes/No’ button was the prerogative of the vaishya. Similarly a brahmin can design the best rifles, but pointing the weapon at the enemy and pulling the trigger is NOT his prerogative.
As for the statement of sweepers following their svadharma according to their svabhava, it was made in the context of varnas and occupations. Of course housewives also contribute to the prosperity of the nation by upholding their dharma, but that issue is out of context here.