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Written by Sir John Woodroffe, Book: Introduction to Tantra Sastra 


ORDINARILY there are four chief divisions or castes (varṇ a) of Hindu society—viz.: Brāhmaṇ a (priesthood; teaching); Kṣattriya (warrior); Vaiśya (merchant); Śūdra (servile) said to have sprung respectively from the mouth, arm, thigh, and foot of Brahma. A man of the first three classes becomes on investiture, during the upanayana ceremony of the sacred thread, twice-born
(dvija). It is said that by birth one is sūdra, by saṃ skāra (upanayana) dvija (twice born); by study of
the Vedas one attains the state of a vipra; and that he who has knowledge of the Brahman is a Brāhmaṇ a.1 The present Tantra, however, speaks of a fifth or hybrid class (sāmānya), resulting from intermixture between the others. It is a peculiarity of Tantra that its worship is largely free of Vaidik exclusiveness, whether based on caste, sex or otherwise. As the Gautamiya-Tantra says,
“The Tantra is for all men, of whatever caste, and for all women” (Sarvavarṇ ādhikāraśca nāriṇ ām
̣ yogya eva ca).

1 Janmanā jāyate Śūdrah
Saṃ skārād dvija ucyate
Veda-pāthat bhavet viprah
Brahma jṇ ānāti brāhmaṇ āh.














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