Rāmānuja’s Thought Spells End of Caste System

Fr Francis Vattukulam, SDB

ROME – An Indian doctoral student presenting Rāmānuja’s philosophy at the Salesian University Rome (UPS), 15 June, has argued the end of caste system on grounds of equality and unique status of human beings. Rāmānuja was 11th century philosopher from Tamil Nadu. Though born a Brahmin, he taught both upper and lower caste people the way to God through bhakti mārga, realized more specifically through the path of self-surrender (prapatti). The president of the five member defence panel, UPS Pro-Vice-chancellor and Philosophy Faculty Dean Prof. Mauro Montovani declared panel’s verdict granting him “the highest marks” awarded to a doctoral candidate.
“Caste system,” says Fr Francis Vattukulam, “embodies a fundamental denial of equality and fraternity since it creates classes based on birth and profession. The division is based on the higher and the lower, the pure and the impure, and the sacred and the profane. There is no role for fundamental rights in a caste-ridden society, let alone a discussion about rights.”

Being Awarded "the highest marks"

Salesian Father Vattukulam of Bangalore province states “from a philosophical foundation the dignity of man definitely lies in being created in the image of God. This aspect of being created by God, in His likeness and as His mode (prakāra) wins for him/her an absolute value and dignity vis-à-vis God’s existence and dignity.
Fr Vattukulam 39, who did his research under the guidance of former Dean of the UPS Philosophy Faculty Prof Scaria Thuruthyil SDB insists, “the point of relevance for us here is that, the nature of every individual self (jīva), applies not only for the Brāhmaņa, Kșatriya and Vaiśya, but also to those condemned to remain in the fourth caste and those termed as Casteless and Untouchables, for they are also governed by the same principle and have the same characteristics. Therefore we cannot predicate of a differentiating characteristic between one person and the other on the basis of their birth or the occupation that one follows. Everyone shares in the same level of dignity that God has bestowed on the human being. This is what comes to be affirmed by Rāmānuja.”
“Vattukulam followed basically a descriptive-analytical method in articulating Ramanuja’s understanding of man, as well as in delineating the origin and import of caste system, giving at the same time due attention to present the same from a philosophical prospective,” says Prof. Thuruthyil commenting on candidate’s research methodology.
Fr Vattukulam was fortunate to have as his second guide the Dean of the Faculty of Missiology at the Gregorian, Fr Christopher Shelke SJ, a social activist who made a name with his work among under privileged people in Maharashtra.

Fr. Francis with members of the defense panel.

The third reader, Prof Maurizio Marin SDB is professor of ancient philosophy at UPS Philosophy Faculty.
In addition, Fr Vattukulam’s vast experience of studying philosophy and theology as well as teaching philosophy in various academic institutions in Kerala, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka exposed him to the plight of the oppressed classes.
He will shortly take charge as Principal and Dean of studies at Don Bosco College, Keezhmad, Aluva in Kerala.
Photos by Fr Varghese Kaplikunnel SDB



Filed under Caste System, Ramanuja, Salesian, Salesian College Sonada, School, Student, Teacher, Uncategorized

27 responses to “Rāmānuja’s Thought Spells End of Caste System

  1. Moncy John

    Hearty Congratulations to Fr. Francis for having defended his thesis successfully. All the best for his future ministry.

  2. Vatcis

    Hi CM,

    That was a great one! Congrats to you for the prompt & wonderful coverage!

  3. purnima

    Congratulations Francis! This is very good news. Wish you all the very best for your future ventures.

  4. Jiji

    Hello Francis Congratulations………….feel proud of your achievements…….congrats

  5. jessy


  6. Joby

    hallo….wow……….congratulations…you are great….i am proud of you…for this wonderful thoughts and achievement…..

  7. Sunny Francis

    Congratulations man! you made it!!!

  8. Joy

    Congrats Fr. Francis….well done….

  9. Congratulations, Francis, on both your research findings and on the top grade you won. May do much good in your new responsibility. Talking from experience, I know that teaching philosophy can be an exhilarating experience, which stimulates, challenges and enriches both the teacher and the student.

  10. Mario Villa

    Congratulazioni, sii sempre forte, non mollare mai.
    Auguri vivissimi per il futuro lavoro

  11. Thomas Tharayil SDB

    Dear Francis,

    Congratulations and well done. Feel proud of you. Your hard work has brought you the highest grade. All the best in your new assignment. God bless!

  12. Shaju K J

    Hello Francis, Congrats. That was great witnessing your defence. Well, that is a new approach to fight caste system. Amazing!

  13. P.T.Thomas


    Hearty Congrats, Fr.Francis
    for the great achievement.
    regards from all of us from ‘sitara’
    Pathiyil Family
    St.Francis unit
    Vicar & parishners

  14. Joshi

    Hearty Congratulations Francis!!…
    Its so nice to have this news…
    And I am sure you can achieve much much more in the future as you hold so much potential….
    Congratulations Once again…

  15. saamuel mondol

    Dearest Fr. Francis,
    A BIG HUG.

  16. Merriam

    Fr. Francis,

    Awesome! Congratulations! I am so proud of you.

  17. Fr. Raju Philip

    Congratulations my dear Francis… Well Done…..

    “Caste system,” says Fr Francis Vattukulam, “embodies a fundamental denial of equality and fraternity since it creates classes based on birth and profession”. I am interested to know what did Ramanuja speaks about the same…..

    Fr. Raju

  18. MKG

    CONGRATS FRACIS… You haave done really well…. We are proud of you… All the best for your next ministry…

  19. Karen Bodacoloffi

    Congratulations Fr.! I had no doubt that you would do great! India is very lucky to have you there to guide them. Many Blessings.

  20. Oledath

    Well done! Really inspiring! Hearty congratulations! And best wishes for the future!

  21. Thomas

    Dear Francis,

    my supreme congrats to your graduation.
    I hope we meet again some day in India.
    Good luck and GOD´s blessing for all your missions.

    Thomas from Konstanz

  22. Mylaparampil Thomas,sdb

    Hello, dearest Vattukulam Francis!
    “Well done! Good, wise, & efficient doctor & worthy son of don Bosco!”
    Salesian Alwaye welcomes you with open arms!
    with fond love & felicitations! Mylaparampil Thomas, Roppolo (Piemonte)

  23. Pradeep

    Congratulations uncle Francis ..

  24. Sivy

    Hi Francis,

    Congrats on your great achievement!
    All the best in Aluva.


  25. prince sdb

    Hearty Congrats.
    I am proud to have lived with this recognized international philosopher.
    All the best and Welcome back to God’s Own Country.
    Prince sdb.

  26. Fatima

    Dear Fr. Francis
    Congratulations…. A very relevant topic of the times
    .Human beings are still not considered equal where much of ‘social exclusion’ is found and ‘dignity’ is not granted to all human beings alike…. especially in the developing countries.
    We are eagerly waiting for your guidance and directions.
    With all best wishes

  27. Regin

    All the best in your future ministry

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