Valmiki and Vedavyasa were Brahmins, according to Hindu scripts, yet their names are being used by the Hindutwa groups to wrongly establish that India had been a land of people where casteism was not based on skin colour, but professional jobs.
Valmiki and Vedavyasa are quoted and showed as the shining example of India’s caste system wherein people are segregated according to their skills so that they can engage with and contribute to the society in a meaningful manner avoiding professional confrontations and conflicts.
If you take a close look at the same scripts that the Hindutwa cyber and land army milk out examples from, to support their view, you can clearly see that the scripts are selling a different proposition. Manuvad is traceable to these scripts too.
Valmiki was born as Agni Sharma to a Brahmin named Pracheta – also known as Sumali – of Bhrigu gotra, According to legends he once met the great sage Narada and had a discourse with him on his duties. Moved by Narada’s words, Agni Sharma began to perform penance and chanted the word “Mara” which meant “die”. As he performed his penance for several years, the word became “Rama”, the name of Lord Vishnu. Huge anthills formed around Agni Sharma and this earned him the name of Valmiki. Agni Sharma, rechristened as Valmiki, learnt the scriptures from Narada and became the foremost of ascetics, revered by everyone.
There also exist some legends about Valmiki having been a thief before turning into a rishi. The Nagara Khanda of the Skanda Purana in its section on the creation of Mukhara Tirtha mentions that Valmiki was born a Brahmin, with the name of Lohajangha and was a devoted son to his parents. He had a beautiful wife and both of them were faithful to each other. Once, when there was no rain in the region of Anarta, for twelve long years, Lohajangha, for the sake of his hungry family, started robbing people that he found in the forest. In the course of this life he met the seven sages or the Saptarishi and tried to rob them as well. But the learned sages felt pity on him and showed him the folly of his ways. One of them, Pulaha gave him a Mantra to meditate upon and the Brahmin turned thief got so engrossed in its recitation that ant-hills came up around his body. When the sages returned and heard the sound of the mantra coming from the ant-hill, they blessed him and said, “Since you achieved great Siddhi seated within a Valmīka (an anthill), you will become well-known in the world as Vālmīki.”
Valmiki is the first author in all history to bring himself into his own composition, Vyasa did the same thing after him.
According to the Mahabharata, the sage Vyasa was the son of Satyavati and Parashara. During her youth, Satyavati was a fisherwoman who used to drive a boat to ferry people. One day, sage Parashara was in a hurry to attend a Yajna. Satyavati helped him cross the river. Parashara was enchanted by the beauty of Satyavati and wanted his heir from her. Initially she did not agree to his demand telling that other saints would see them, and her purity would be questioned. So Parashara created a secret place with bushes and Satyavati agreed. Satyavati later gave birth to Vyasa. Parashara took away Vyasa with him when he was born. She kept this incident a secret, not telling even King Shantanu whom she was married to later.
So it is very clear that Vyasa was born and brought up as a Brahmin, who only had access to learning to read and write in that time.
It is not a possibility that any shudra could learn reading and writing in the puranic times, if they did so molten lead would be poured into their ears to punish them for doing the thing reserved for Brahmins only. It is highly improbable that Vatmiki and Vedavyasa were shudras who could not learn the academic language of the time, Sanskrit and write Ramayan and Mahabharat respectively.
They might not be real persons that lived in history. But the proposition that they were real persons who belonged to lower caste yet they could write sacred books like Ramayan and Mahabharat to justify the caste system is the real tool in the hands of Manuvadis of our time. Never fall for this misleading narrative next time you hear it.
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