Friday, 10 June 2016

Gosain caste

Hinduism has traditionally 4 castes : Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra.

 But that is only the theory. In fact there are hundreds of castes, many of which do not fit into any of these 3 categories, e.g. Yadavas, Kurmi, Kayasthas, Bhumihars,  Gownda, Mudaliar, Vanniyar, etc
One of such castes which does not fall into any of the 4 traditional categories is a caste called gosains. Members of this caste have surnames lke Gosain, Goswamy, Giri, Puri, etc

In most Hindu temples the priests are Brahmins. But in  Banke Bihari temple, the most important of the temples in Vrindavan ( 18 kms. from Mathura ) the priests belong to the Gosain caste.

 Who are gosains ? I once put this question to a person who claimed to be conversant with the Hindu castes.

 He gave me an interesting answer. He said that most Hindu sadhus were bachelors, but a few had mistresses. The offspring of these mistresses became the gosain  caste.

I cannot vouchsafe for the correctness of this theory, as I did not find it in any text.

 He also said that in Hindu temples of Rama, Krishna, Hanuman, etc prasad is given to the visitors. But in Shiva temples ( at least in north India ) no prasad is given, but only some bhabhut ( ashes ) or tulsi leaves. That is because Lord Shiva partakes of bhang, ganja, and other intoxicants. In Bhairo temples whiskey, rum, and other liquoirs are offered to the deity.

 In the abhishek of Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi, and other Shiva temples, milk, ghee, honey and bhang or ganja are used.

According to the person who told me this, only members of one caste are entitled to the prasad of Shiva temples, and that is members of the gosain  caste, because gosains are said to partake bhang, ganja, etc.

 Once again I cannot vouchsafe for the correctness of this. I have many gosain friends, but as far as I know, none of them partake bhang and ganja ( though many consume whiskey, as I do )

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