I saw this in the list of hot newtwork questions.

I get that they are quoting scriptures, but still, there is no context in that page for anybody who reaches it using google that this is not actual advice. There are things like this:

Those sons of the twice-born, begotten on wives of the next lower castes, who have been enumerated in due order, they call by the name Anantaras (belonging to the next lower caste), on account of the blemish (inherent) in their mothers.


From a Kshatriya and the daughter of a Sudra springs a being, called Ugra, resembling both a Kshatriya and a Sudra, ferocious in his manners, and delighting in cruelty


The son that is begotten by a Brahmana upon a Sudra wife is called Parasara, implying one born of a corpse, for the Sudra woman's body is as inauspicious as a corpse.


His third wife being of the Sudra order is regarded as very inferior.


A son that takes birth under circumstances other than those mentioned above, comes to be looked upon as a very inferior one If a person of a lower order begets a son upon a woman of a superior order, such a son is regarded as outside the pale of the four pure orders. Indeed, such a son becomes on object of censure with the four principal orders.


I'm perfectly fine with scholarly discussion of religious texts, but it should be clear when they are scholarly discussions by the stack schange community, tags or content of the questions and answers.

Usually, religious StackExchange communities are not limited to scholarly discussion. Questions and answers about actual advice in those communities should conform to the same norms as the rest of the StackExchange communities.

  • 2
    why do you think that is not actual advice, the last sentence of the answer does seem to endorse the caste system. Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 11:32
  • @MadScientist I prefer to err in the side of assuming the best option. That las sentence could also be interpreted just as a summary of the quotes.
    – Pablo
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 11:46
  • 1
    Also, there's a bit of debate over whether this is off topic - since it involves one specific site. I kinda chose to answer and leave it open cause while these specific examples are from hinduism - other religion, and well many other sites may have similar content issues. Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 11:54
  • @JourneymanGeek this question is is about allowed content in general in any site, not only Hinduism.
    – Pablo
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 12:11
  • I think you misunderstand my comment - that's roughly what I'm saying, and that closing it might be a mistake. Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 12:33
  • 1
    I don't get the question, Even if it was advice in answer to the Question, what is the problem ? I really dislike seeing answer to SSL problem saying 'Just disable ssl verification' as it's dangerous for various reasons, but well, we obviously are comfortable with dangerous answers so what's the problem here ?
    – Tensibai
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 14:09
  • 6
    Why not? i don't see what the objection is. It is not an advice question nor is it making any speculations. The answer quotes from accepted books of authority in the religion. And @MadScientist "the last sentence of the answer does seem to endorse the caste system." - being against the caste system is not the only allowed option. Hypothetically, if some answer is pro-caste-system, it is still allowed to exist on the site.
    – moonstar
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 14:16
  • 1
    @moonstar2001 Calling specific groups of people "inferior" would get your posts removed and your account suspended quickly across the SE network. Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 14:19
  • @MadScientist Ok. that's fair but the word is part of a direct quote.
    – moonstar
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 14:28

4 Answers 4


If you show up on that page from Google you'll see a large banner just below the "Hinduism beta" header which states, in part:

Hinduism Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for followers of the Hindu religion and those interested in learning more about Hinduism. Join them; it only takes a minute:

If this isn't sufficient information for the reader that the information on this page is specialized and to be understood only within the context of the Hindu religion, then the problem lies with the reader, and not the site or its content.

It would be ridiculous to put a disclaimer or ban questions because they could be misunderstood by a layperson. For instance when discussing I2C on the electronics StackExchange you might have a post about "Slave requirements" but the terms "Master" and "Slave" have very specific meanings in that context and we don't intend to stifle a community with unnecessary censorship just because outside their community their terminology may have alternate meanings.

  • 2
    multiple slave termination
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 11:59
  • As scholarly discussion, this is perfectly fine. But the Hinduism beta is not limited to scholarly discussions, they also have normal questions and answers with advice. Those normal questions and answers should conform to the same norms as all stack schange communities.
    – Pablo
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 12:09
  • 5
    @Pablo The sections you mention are direct quotes to religious texts or authorities. They are not advice, they are an answer to a question. With regards to whether questions containing ambiguity regarding ethics or morality, I have a much more comprehensive answer here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/36397/…
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 12:39
  • 1
    @Pablo Further consideration - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/102536/… - So while those deal with other "is this content ok" questions, the foundation should be clear - it may be that under some circumstances the question or answer is somehow "bad" or "wrong" but since we cannot determine that, then we leave it to the community to downvote, flag, or otherwise moderate such things. If you are an expert in hinduism, we encourage you to participate as part of the community and use the tools provided to downvote, flag, or similar.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 12:42
  • 8
    @Pablo If, however, you are an outsider of the community and have no specific knowledge or expertise, then you forcing your beliefs onto that community is inappropriate. If that's the case I encourage you to get to know the material, the people, and see if you can understand the perspective they are speaking from before you attempt to stifle commentary and discussion in their community.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 12:43

Not actually sure what sort of google search that would hit this - but its a problem inherent to religion sites. Not everything in religious texts is suitable for everyone.

These do seem pretty terrible out of context - but the question provides the context, and the answers do cite the original sources. Unless you're picking quotes to be offended about, its pretty clear, they talk about the mixing of castes, which least in very traditional society was a no no.

I'm pretty sure you can find similar cases in any religion, and the relevant sites might have such things. I suppose the problem here is "do we censor scholarly discussion of religious texts in the context of sites that discuss them?" but if we go down that rabbit hole, we're probably going to end up needing to pretty much vet every question for contemporary political correctness. Its not really going to work that well.

Its worth remembering as well the cultural contexts of hinduism have changed massively since then, I for one probably have never come across any of it.

So, I don't really think there's much to do.

And really this isn't a context issue. If you have an issue with content - please say so. That said, this seems to be the sort of thing that certainly shouldn't be discussed without context.

  • A bunch of quotes without any discussion of historical context, varying interpretations between different traditions or textual exegesis (which is what the current answers are) hardly qualifies as scholarly discussion (if you really meant scholastic, applying European mediveal teaching to Hinduism would be a strange thing to censor indeed ;) ), so I think you may have misconstrued the (admittedly not very clear) intent of the question. Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 11:45
  • I actually wouldn't be surprised - as these works were often memorised, and passed down by rote, that the actual historical context is long forgotten. Also, feel free to correct that error. Blah ENGLISH. Will be the death of me. Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 11:49
  • By context - historical or otherwise - I meant that the current answers simply present the scriptual quotes without any indication how seriously their contents have been taken in the past and are taken today, and without any mention of whether there's controversy over their exact meaning or not (cf. also the comment to the question implying the answers could be read as actual advice). I believe this is the lacking context OP is complaining about, but maybe I'm just projecting what I would find most objectionable here. Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 11:55
  • I'm perfectly fine with scholarly discussion of scriptures, as long as it is clear that it is scholarly discussion, not actual advice. Normal advice should conform to the same norms as any stack schange site. Do religious stack schange sites only have scholarly discussion, or do the mix that with actual advice in questios and aswers? If it is the latter, scholarly discussions should be clearly differentiated as such.
    – Pablo
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 11:56

There's no advice in that answer. The answer states what scriptures say. Hinduism SE strictly quotes scriptures and reader is free to believe them or not. We also don't allow personal advice and opinion based questions. OP added the tag dharma-sastras as he knows Dharma Sastras are best place to find answers for his question.

Hinduism has many scriptures and among them Vedas have highest priority. Based on interpretations of terse verses of Vedas, we have different philosophies. Traditionally, Astikas are the one who accept authority of Vedas and all those who don't accept Vedas are Nastikas. These words are often translated as Theists and Atheists respectively but that's not correct. In short, traditionally Hindu (follower of Sanatana Dharma or simply Dharma) is the one who accepts words of Vedas.

We have many scriptures such as Ithihasas, Puranas, Smritis besides Vedas. Some schools in Hinduism don't subscribe to one or other above scriptures. The answer is from Manu Smriti and all Hindus don't believe what Manu Smriti says. So, even some Hindus won't accept authority of Manu Smriti. So, there's point of forcing on readers what Manu is saying.

As a non-Hindu, you are free to even not believe Vedas. But context of those verses are important. If you have problem with content, knowing Varna system (often translated as caste system in English) helps you to understand those verses better. You can see questions under caste system to get a glance of it.

You could have got better answer(s), if you had asked this question on Hinduism meta.


Since I have asked and answered that question, I will post my point of view here.

"I get that they are quoting scriptures, but still, there is no context in that page"

Not quite true IMO. The first line from where the answer starts with the block quotes is the context.

Yudhishthira said, "... intermixture happens of the several order What, O grandsire, are the duties of persons that are born in the mixed classes and what are the acts laid down for them?"

In short, Yudhishthira is about to be king, who is having knowledge transfer from his grand-father-equivalent Bhishma lying on the deathbed of arrows about -- how the children born from the hybridisation of the classes are seen and treated.

All the other subsequent quotes are the advises on the same topic from Bhishma. And since they are in the "quoted texts", it implies that the content are from the Hindu scripture named as "AnusAsana Parva" mentioned in the beginning.

The last line in my answer which you/other might consider as advise from me, is probably a misunderstanding. It's just a summary of the central quoted text, which appears last in your question:

A son that takes birth under circumstances other than those mentioned above, ...

After seeing this meta question, I have also added an update in my question clarifying the potential confusion.

  • The problem is not a distinction between "caste" and "class", that is not the missing context I am talking about. The missing context is between "scholarly discussion" and "advice".
    – Pablo
    Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 12:30

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .