Understanding The Varna ( Caste ) System

चातुर्वर्ण्यम मया सृष्टं गुणकर्मविभागशः ! तस्य कर्तारमपि मां विद्ध्यकर्तारमव्ययम !!   

!! भागवद गीता ४:१३ !! 

ब्राह्मण, क्षत्रिय, वैश्य और शुद्र, इन चार वर्णों का समूह, गुण और कर्मों के विभागपूर्वक मेरे द्वारा रचा गया है (इस प्रकार) उस (सृष्टि रचनादि कर्म) का कर्ता होने पर भी मुझ अविनाशी परमेश्वर को (तू वास्तव में) अकर्ता (ही) जान !  

Cosmic Consciousness Sri Krishna

According to the differentiation of attributes (gunas) and actions (Karma), I have created the four Varnas. Though thus the Doer, yet know Me to be the Nonperfomer, beyond all change. 

The four natural classes of mankind are described allegorically in the Vedas as issuing from the body of Purushas, the Supreme Being: “From His mouth was born the Brahmin; from his two arms, the Rajanya (royal rulers and warriors); from his two thighs, the Vaishya; and from his feet, the Sudra.” This earliest scriptural reference is traditionally accepted as the original basis of the caste system that was later elaborated by tha lawgiver Maharaj Manu.

The sages of India were the first to pattern their civilization after the bodily government. That is why they emphasized the recognition of four natural castes, according to man’s natural qualifications and actions. The rishis maintained that four castes are necessary in the proper government of a country. This intellectuals and spiritual Brahmins, Kshatriya soldiers and rulers, the Vaishya businessman, and the Sudra labourers should cooperate in a successful government of a country- even as the brain, the hands, the tissues, and the feet all cooperate for the successful maintenance and progress of the bodily kingdom.  

The Lord, As The Cosmic Creator, has fashioned a world of beings patterned after the activities of His own nature: Cosmic Intelligence, Cosmic Energy, Cosmic Organization or Orderly Law, and Cosmic Motion. In man, these activities are expressed under the differentiating influence of the three Gunas or qualities with which the Lord has imbued Nature: Sattva (Elevating), Rajas ( Activating ), and Tamas ( Degrading ). From the actions and the good, active,  or evil qualities of man arise the four Natural Varna: Spiritual (Intelligence, or Brahmins), ruling and protecting ( Energy, or Kshatriyas ), organizing or business-cultivating ( Orderly Law, or Vaishyas ), and labour ( Motion, or Sudras ). God’s consciousness, pure and beyond all attributes, assumes an outward appearance of differentiation when expressed through the variety of human qualities and behavior. As a pure white light remains unchanged and yet appears different when viewed through glasses of different colors, so the one Spirit expressing through the good, active, and evil qualities and characteristic activities of human beings looks different in each case, but is nevertheless the one Spirit.  

The Sun, Moon, Stars, planets, creatures, man are the result of God’s Intelligence, energy, and motion moving through space in an organized manner. Intelligence is God’s “brain”; energy is His “life”; motion is His “body”; and organization or orderly law is His plan of Universe. These four activities were combined into the form of the human being. Intelligence became the head. Cosmic Energy provided the life and vitality in the body. Motion created the feet. And organization in the body came from orderly law, God’s organizing power. 

The four activities are the blueprint from which all races are made.

1. The Spiritual Leaders, or wisdom-guided. They are the natural Brahmins who live close to God and reflect His Intelligence by discriminating thought and spiritual activity.

2. The Energetic Warriors and rulers. They are the natural Kshatriyas. The direct result of God’s Energy, they like to be active, to fight for a cause, to defend their country, to protect the defenseless and the weak. In every society, there are those who become evil and have to be checked by the idealistic strong.

3. The Organizers:- These are the business leaders. They are the natural Vaishyas. As an outgrowth of God’s orderly activity, they have an ability to organize the economiic and labour structures of the society.

4. The Service-class. They are the natural Shudras. They express the motion of God, without which the universal and social machinery would come to a halt.

The difference in these four natural castes of avtivity do not make one greater or less than the others. All are necessary to the Cosmic Plan. When in man’s body the brain, or the feet, or the hands, or the orderly life fuctions refuse to cooperate, the whole body suffers as a consequence. If in a society the superior intellects, the rulers and soldiers, the business leaders, and the labourers all fight each other, they will all suffer and perish. The welfare of oee group cannot be sacrificed for the aggrandizement of another group falsely considered more elite or important. 

Caste was originally an arrangement for the distribution of functions in society, just as much as class in Europe, but the principle on which the distribution was based in India was peculiar to this country. A Brahmin was a Brahmin not by mere birth, but because he discharged the duty of preserving the spiritual and intellectual elevation of the race, and he had to cultivate the spiritual temperament and acquire the spiritual training which could alone qualify him for the task. The Kshatriya was a Kshatriya not merely because he was the son of warriors and princes, but because he discharged the duty of protecting the country and preserving the high courage and manhood of the nation, and he had to cultivate the princely temperament and acquire the strong and lofty Samurai training which alone fitted him for his duties. So it was with the Vaishya whose function was to amass wealth for the race and the Sudra who discharged the humbler duties of service without which the other castes could not perform their share of labour for the common good…. Essentially there was, between the devout Brahmin and the devout Sudra, no inequality in the single virat purusa [Cosmic Spirit] of which each was a necessary part. Chokha Mela, the Maratha Pariah, became the Guru of Brahmins proud of their caste purity; the Chandala taught Shankaracharya: for the Brahman was revealed in the body of the Pariah and in the Chandala there was the utter presence of Shiva the Almighty.

Caste therefore was not only an institution which ought to be immune from the cheap second-hand denunciations so long in fashion, but a supreme necessity without which Hindu civilisation could not have developed its distinctive character or worked out its unique mission.

Reference:-

1. Essays on Gita by Sri Aurobindohttp://www.holybooks.com/sri-aurobindo-vol-19-essays-on-the-gita/ )

2. God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagwad Gita by Paramhansa Yogananda

Chandan Priyadarshi

Chandan Priyadarshi

A student of Spirituality from the ancient city of Nalanda, a Vedantic by faith, an independent philosopher and wanna be philanthropreneur by interest just trying to explore the subtle world of Ancient Philosophy with reference to Modern Science. Having an immense ineterest in Ancient Indian and Vedic Philosophy, Philology, Lexicography, Comparative Religion, Comparative Philosophy, Oriental and Occidental Philosophy, Astrophysics and Astronomy, Ancient and Modern History, Parapsychology, just want to project an integral and synthesized approach of Ancient Philosophy and Modern science to world.

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