Veda Vyasa & the question of untouchability

vedvyasVeda Vyasa is a legendary Hindu sage, whose very name is synonymous to Hindus with knowledge. According to traditional Hindu accounts, he lived at the end of the Treta Yuga and early Kali Yuga (the date for the beginning of the Kali Yuga is 3102BC).

Veda Vyasa is accredited with compiling the Vedas and writing the Brahma Sutras, which are one of the three great authoritative Hindu philosophical texts. He was also the recorder/writer of the earliest form of the Mahabharata (which was originally called the ‘Jaya’). The followers of Veda Vyasa (the Vyasas or ‘compilers’) carried out the compilation of the Puranas.

His birthday is celebrated as ‘Guru Purnima’ – one of the most sacred days in the Hindu calendar, which is the day when teachers are honored. A popular saying about Veda Vyasa goes: ‘Vyasocchishtasam jagat sarvam’ meaning that so great was the learning of Rishi Veda Vyasa, that even his voluminous writings represent only the periphery of his knowledge. Virtually every Hindu sampradaya (order) traces their lineage to him, and wherever knowledge is propagated and respected is called a Vyaspeeth – Vyasa’s throne.

Yet had Veda Vyasa, the compiler of the Vedas, lived in the later degenerate and perverted age of Hindu society, he may well have been considered an untouchable and not even allowed to touch the Vedas!

His mother (Satyavati) used to sell fish to make a living, and in many parts of Hindu society in its later period of caste insanity this would have made him an untouchable. Yet Vyasa is considered by all Hindus to be the very epitome of wisdom!

This is just one of many examples (another being Valmiki – author of the Ramayana) that shows that the terrible caste rigidity of Hindu society that we have seen at some points in our past, and which still persists today in some parts, was definitely not originally the state of things, and certainly does not represent the true spirit of Hinduism.

Related article: An alternative look at the “caste system”


  1. A very interesting post. Yes, the caste system is terrible and certainly does not represent true Hinduism.

    • Harbans Lal Badhan says:

      “The Untouchables (Dalits) of India want economic, social, political, religious and educational equality in Society, not in the eyes of God”
      (Harbans Lal Badhan)

      • absolutely because they are equal in the eyes of god. Now it’s time to change the view of Indian society against caste based biasing.

      • Agreed….But no hindu scriptures Vedas,Upanishads or Bhagavadgita supports caste discrimination…It is only the man made Manu smrthi…which is a compilation of several proposed or implemented Sharia laws at that age speaks about this inhuman thing.The smrthis should be changed with respect to time and present smrthi for all of us is “The constitution of India”…..the word “Dalit” in sanskrit means oppressed …It means even at that age there were few groups which were considered oppressed ..So there were people who have raised their voices in that era…But i like to call them as “Harijans” instead of dalits..

  2. Ved Vyas wrote Mahabharat and the most famous part of it is Geeta. Verse 32 in chapter 9 says – O son of Pṛthā, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth -women, vaiśyas [merchants], as well as śūdras [workers ] – can approach the supreme destination. Why are they of lower birth?

  3. Guru and Acharya are different in hinduism.

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