Rakshasa wrote:I am especially referring to Lalitavistara Sutra which preaches that only a Kshatriya and a Brahmin - both of which are the top two castes/varnas of the Brahmanic society - can ever become Buddhas (or Bodhisattvas). I am not sure whether to ignore this as a later import to the sutra, or to treat it as a truth.
The standpoint which caste a Buddha should belong to has not been revised in Buddhism up to the pre-
sent day. It is dogmatised in the Lalitavistara in the following way: a Bodhisattva can by no means
come from a lower or even mixed caste: “After all Bodhisattvas were not born in despised lineage,
among pariahs, in families of pipe or cart makers, or mixed castes.” 25
Instead, in perfect harmony with the Great Sermon, it was said that: “The Bodhisattvas appear only in
two kinds of lineage, the one of the brahmanas and of the warriors (kshatriya).” 26
In which of the two high castes they were born depended on the fact which of the two had the better
reputation at that particular moment. "When the Brahmins are especially respected on earth, they were
born in a lineage of Brahmins, when the warriors play a greater role, they appear in a noble family." 27
According to Buddha, at his time the kshatriyas were above the now impure brahmanas. That is why,
only a kshatriya can have the Buddha-ship. "Today the nobility has priority in the world, therefore the
Bodhisattvas were born in a noble family." 28
Worldly reputation determines the Buddhas' caste, not the moral qualification of the family or the caste.
Lower castes have never had the chance to consider Buddha among them namely because they don't
have a good reputation.
The Bodhisattva explains to the gods that he should be born only in a family of a noble birth and caste.
Furthermore the family ought to have procreated only in a direct line and on the man’s side, an adop-
tion is impossible. Otherwise, purity would not be guaranteed. The purity of the family is so essential,
that the father-to-be Suddhodana says: "King Suddhodana is pure on the side of the mother and father
and was born in a respected family." 29
The early Buddhist theology shows clearly that the gods were highly respected and enthusiastically worshipped by the Buddhists.
According to this Buddhist tradition, it is thanks to the gods and in a broader sense to the brahmanas, who joined Siddharta straightway in big numbers, that Buddha addressed the people and made the path of salvation accessible to them as well. Therefore, Buddhism owes its origin to the gods and brahmanas.
And why, monks, did the Bodhisattva behold the family of his birth? Because a
bodhisattva is not born into an inferior family, like a family of outcastes, flute makers, cartwrights, or servants. A bodhisattva is only born into one of two families—a
priestly family or a family of the ruling class. When the priestly families are dominant in the world, the bodhisattva is born into a priestly family. When the rulingclass families are dominant in the world, the bodhisattva is born into a ruling-class
family. Thus, monks, at this time the ruling-class families were dominant in the
world, so bodhisattvas were born into such families
Rakshasa wrote:Dont know about the exact verse, but I got the above from an article.
Buddha thaught untouchables, not? Certainly he didn't perceive "them" like that.
But castes-likes are everywhere where the idea of a self is, not only in India.
LastLegend wrote:Also, we have to consider that to be born into a high class is display of merits. Buddha was born a Prince with good looks, and lacked nothing of the material world. A being who lacks of great merits cannot be born as a Prince or King. Also, as maybay suggested, if Buddha were born into a low class, it would have been problematic for him to transmit Dharma.
In other words, anyone can practice the Mahayana and become a Bodhisattva, but after becoming a Bodhisattva, one is only reborn as a respected and impressive member of society, which in ancient India required being a member of a high caste."After all Bodhisattvas were not born in despised lineage,
among pariahs, in families of pipe or cart makers, or mixed castes.”
“The Bodhisattvas appear only in two kinds of lineage, the one of the brahmanas and of the warriors (kshatriya).”
"When the Brahmins are especially respected on earth, they were
born in a lineage of Brahmins, when the warriors play a greater role, they appear in a noble family."
"Today the nobility has priority in the world, therefore the Bodhisattvas were born in a noble family."
I dont think you know the reality of caste system. What you are talking about is class system. For example, in India today, thanks to affirmative action, there are many former untouchables who are rich and flourishing. But they are still despised because of their caste. On the other hand, there are "Brahmins" and "Kshatriyas" who are poor. So who has had greater merit? Someone who is born into a poor Brahmin family barely making a sustenance or a rich former untouchable who has every luxury of life? Mayawati, a political leader of the Dalits, is a multimillionaire, and her followers almost worship her. Does she have more merit or less than an a Brahmin living in a village, sustaining his family through temple donations? Of course, there are people in Brahmin or Kshatriya families who are born with birth defects, are they less meritorious?
Buddhism supports the theory that if you are rich and prosperous, have good looks, and are loved in society, you probably have a lot of merit from the past lives. But this has nothing to do with Brahmanic caste system which is based on birth.
Rakshasa wrote:From what I have read, the Hinayana was vociferously against Brahmanic caste system.
Classifying someone low or high simply based on their birth, and giving them no chance to rise higher in their life, while even creating obstacles for certain section of society to liberate itself or progress, is almost non-existent in many western countries. Probably because people belong to a single race.