In Defence Of A Brahmin: Brahmin By Birth Alone !
The previous article”Why have the Brahmins become a miserable lot in India ?” gave rise to some pertinent concerns.One of the main concern was that the previous article needed more analytical and serious approach.I wish to present the missing links to establish that although the Brahmins have lost their aura to a great extent it still be a be contemptuous to pass lowly remark on their potential.I didn’t go in in-depth analysis in the previous article merely because my primary concern was to simply highlight the plight of the Brahmins.
However,as I now do so,I should make it absolutely clear at the beginning that there is no attempt to project the superiority of Brahmins over other caste.It’s not an attempt to substantiate the caste differences but only a humble attempt to make Brahmins realize that they have come far away from their original nature and yet it’s not too late to restore it back. Or for that matter, let’s make an attempt ,to gain the lost sheen which is in my eyes a simple task owing the ability of Brahmins to learn quickly.
True, the times have changed and it’s indeed not possible to move backwards.However,nothing has prevented us to imbibe the essence of past.Before I move ahead,I need to present set of views that seems to take note of the special features that separate the Brahmin from the rest of the community.It’s a tough task to fulfill the criterion which makes Brahmin worthy of being hailed as Brahmin.
The way Brahmins have to undergo so many sanctions,so many rituals and other ceremonies are indicative of the fact that living a Brahmin’s life is a tough task.It’s only their bonhomie with so many rigorous practices and prohibitions which makes them attain a tag of superior class. While criticizing Varna Vyavastha which in some eyes is a mean to upheld the superiority of Brahmins, I must say that Vedic sages had imposed more restrictions on Brahmins than on any other class of people.If there were do’s and don’ts for other classes,the Brahmins had lot more restrictions imposed on them by the sages.The progressive group of writers always talks about do’s and don’ts made for Dalits ,females and etc.but they simply fail to take note of the set of rules ascribed to the Brahmins.
Anyway,let me discuss the definition of Brahmins before I come to have a take on the whole issue in my own way.One’s that especially quoted by others to lambaste and ridicule Bramhins.One’s which are often quoted to prove that even when a person belongs to different “varna”(caste or group) he/she can be treated on par with a Brahmin.I have to do that because many of us love to quote them, in out-of-context manner, without bothering to realize that there is no point in bringing on forefront the essence of “Brahminhood” when the world has become a changed place.
There are many who love to remind Brahmins about the loss of their Brahminhood on the basis of these very defintions of Brahmins.Well,I would love to know which class of people are in tune with their “Svadharma” (roles defined on par with one’s nature) with right set of orientations ? None. Are women in league with essence of womanhood ? No.Are other castes in league with their orientations ? No.Virtually all the class of people have deviated away from their pre defined roles yet we find them being promoted and pushed ahead with favours and concessions.
However,the Brahmins are supposed to retain and exhibit their Brahminhood to elicit respect and promotion ? Am I at this point trying to make Brahmins worthy of admiration minus Brahminhood ? No.The point is that though it’s a great loss that most of the Brahmins have deviated away from the attributes that once made them special,it’s still sheer hypocrisy to measure their worth against backdrop made up of such lofty definitions.It’s another thing that most of them are in league with their potential lying in a dormant state within them.They are still reflecting the same essence but in a diminished way.At this point I must say, there is no need for the Brahmins to give way to concessions and favours. Let them retain most of their intrinsic features whether or not that makes them object of admiration in eyes of people around.That’s one of the chief purposes of this article.
I should begin with this verse :
“janmana jayate sudrah
samskarad bhaved dvijah
veda-pathad bhaved vipro
brahma janatiti brahmanah”
(By birth one is a sudra, by the purificatory process one becomes a dvija, by study of the Vedas one becomes a vipra, and one who knows Brahman is a brahmana.)
à€¶à„à€°à€Łà„ à€Żà€à„à€· à€à„à€€à€ à€€à€Ÿà€€à„ ,à€š à€žà„à€”à€§à„à€Żà€Ÿà€Żà„à€š à€š à€¶à„à€°à€€à€ź |
à€à€Ÿà€°à€Łà€źà„ à€čà€ż à€Šà„à€”à€żà€à€€à„à€”à„ à€ à€”à„à€°à€€à€źà„à€” à€š à€žà€à€¶à€Żà€ ||
(Mahabharata Vana Parva )
(One is brahmin because of one’s action not because of one’s ancestry or Veda’s recital.)
“Yasya yallakshanam proktam punso varnaabhivyajyakam |
yadanyatraapi drshyet tat tenaiva vinirdeshet ||
“Whatever be the signs, indication, distinguishing features, characteristics (lakshan) of a Brahmin, such as self-restraint and self-controlled (sham-dam) etc. if those qualities and characteristics naturally are in one from a different “varna”, then inspite of being in a different “varna” at birth, he must not be considered so.”
hinam hinams ca varjayan
brahmanah sresthatam eti
“If a brahmana disassociates himself from lower caste people and associates only with higher caste people, he attains greatness. If he does the opposite, he becomes a sudra.” (Manu 4.245)
“brahmanah ksatriya vaisah
bhavisyanti kalau yuge
vipra veda-vihinas ca
bhavisyanti kalau yuge”
(Padma Purana )
“In Kali-yuga, all four varnas are devoid of character and proper behavior and are addicted to sin. The brahmanas are devoid of Vedic knowledge and sacrifice. Giving up the five sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas and all brahminical behavior and consciousness, they engage in inferior activities.”
In Srimad Bhagvat Geeta Lord Krishna has stated that “Serenity, self-discipline, austerity, honesty, purity, forgiveness, knowledge, wisdom, and faith in the almighty” are the traits of Brahmin (Chap.18,Sholka 42)
na yonir napi samskaro
na srutam na ca santatih
vrttam eva tu karanam
“Neither birth, purificatory ceremonies, nor learning, nor progeny are qualifications for brahminical status.Only brahminical conduct is the basis for brahminical status.” (Mahabharataâ Anusasana Parva 143.50)
We are often reminded of the story of Ravana. Ravana was a grandson of risi Pulatsya. He was an expert on Vedas too. So, he was a Brahimin by birth under Manu definition as well as a Brahimin (educated) by qualification (veda-gyata).However,he paid a heavy price for his wrongdoings.Some also love to tell us that how others who were not Brahmins by birth got status of Brahmin by their karmas.The example of Rishis like Vishvamitra,Maharaja Dhrsta,Satyakama and others are often presented to show that how actions or Karma could lead transformation.In fact,some very enthusiastic souls would quote from Purush Sukatam to suggest that all the castes are basically one and the same as they belonged to the same Paramatma.Some over enthusiastic souls would also never fail to quote that a devotee( bhagavata)is superior ,and hence, even if one is Brahmin one is Sudra if the said Brahmin is not a devotee.
One would find numerous such analogies,assumptions, references and so on and so forth whose principle motive is to suggest that one is Brahmin by action and not Brahmin by birth.Anyone can be Brahmin ,whether one is born in a Brahmin yoni or not.That is what so many so-called lovers of Shastras (scriptures) wish to prove. Is it true that actions or Karma alone define Brahminhood and Brahmin by birth means nothing ? This is what I wish to explore and ascertain in my present lengthy piece.Is being Brahmin by birth means nothing ?Is there nothing special in being Brahmin if one is devoid of traits associated with Brahmins ? Aren’t the Brahmins a special class even as in the eyes of Lord all is equal-something so strongly expressed in Purush Suktam and other scriptures ?
My point is that most of the present age commentators have downplayed the importance of “Brahmin yoni”merely to serve their diabolical interests.The verses have been interpreted in whimsical manner to suit their own interests.It’s a well known fact that even a demon can quote verses to serve its interests.It’s motive which defines the utility of a given set of actions.This is ridiculous and dangerous as well that in our age it has become a fashion to misquote “Shastras ” and come out with self-concocted theories in their name.No one is above Shastras.Let us understand this fact very well. Once you get this fact very well half the problem is solved.Now let’s hear what Krishna says in Bhagvad Gita:
Yah sastra -vidhim utsrjya vartate kama-karatah
Na sa siddhim avapnoti na sukham na param gatim
Tasmacchastram pramanam te karyakaryavyavasthitau
Jnatva sastravidhan oktam karma kartum iha’rhasi
-Bhagavadgita, 16. 23 & 24.
(Who so forsakes the injunctions of the sastras and lives according to his own desires does not obtain liberation, finds no happiness. The Sastras determine your work, what is right and what is wrong. You must know the way shown by the sastras and pursue the work – vocation – according to them.)
We find that Krisna who loves to superimpose his persona/will in verses of Gita never suggests that do what as I say in matter pertaining to set of actions ascribed to four Varnas.He says do what scriptures suggest you as far as set of rules are concerned for living a proper life.If that’s the case let me suggest that scriptures convincingly suggest that not only one is Brahmin by birth but also that Brahmins as a class are superior as they enjoy so many privileges.This may shock many,especially who make a shrill cry about a society devoid of castes in which all are equal.As per their view “caste-less” society alone ensures a egalitarian society.I must say that people while discussing this issue forget one thing that exceptions are not rules.They also forget that reading scriptures in a sweeping way and then proclaiming fallacious interpretations as truth is a very dangerous phenomenon as it’s an attempt to hide the truth from the seekers.An attempt to confuse and distort the truth is certainly demoniacal.
Isn’t it reveals something that the way some people have so eagerly quoted that one via certain set of actions can become a Brahmin automatically proves that Brahmins as a class are superior in the hierarchy of Varna system ? Here lies the great paradox.Though the detractors are eager to quote the sholkas that suggest transformation of one class into a Brahmin class,it’s really hilarious to note that they are not willing to treat them as superiors.Then what is the urgency to be hailed as a Brahmin ? Stay in the class to one which you belong.The urgency is so great that one is willing to be a Brahmin even if one has not attained a Brahmin yoni.What does that suggest ? Anyway,let me is simple ways try to bring clarity in this very complicated issue
Now let’s know what is varna system.
” Varna is a Sanskrit term derived from the root ‘váč’ meaning âto encloseâ or âcolourâ.The term, which also means letter, paint, cover, coat, class and caste, has been used in various contexts in the hindu scriptures. In historical Indic traditions the varna and caste systems are not the same system, although they are related. Varna and caste systems are beleived to have become related to mean the same thing, as caste, after the Vedic_period when the puranas and dharmashastras were written.In popular belief, the varna system, also known as varnashrama dharma, is based on principles laid out in the scriptures of the Vedic tradition, which categorize Hindus into four âvarnasâ or social classes and prescribe specific duties for each.’
Now we are living in times of “Varna sankara” (distortion of caste), which Arjuna has talked about in Bhagvad Gita.Many are of the opinion that a classless society should be the aim and this Varna System is an obstacle.The most strongest reason is that it promotes superiority of Brahmins.May be in our times the caste politics has generated such impression but our sages were not politicians.They didn’t provide apparent privileges to Brahmins to create conflict.This varna system was not devised to proclaim one’s superiority over others but to ensure a balanced society by ensuring proper chanallization of one’s tendencies.
The “Gunas” (attributes) and “Karma” (action) became the deciding factor.The sages could easily see that this a best system to ensure a proper society instead of creating a so-called classless society. “None excels the sages in impartiality. They do not talk glibly like us of equality but they are truly egalitarian in outlook since they look upon all as one with Isvara.The conduct of the world’s affairs is such that it requires people following different vocations, doing different jobs and with different mental qualities in keeping with them. It is in conformity with these differences and dissimilarities that the sages assigned the samskaras also differently to different people. There is no question of high or low among them.”
Now what was the need to ensure that Brahmins enjoyed priviliges ?Let’s not raise eyebrows over the word “priviliges”. Let’s read it along with the word “sanctions’ to avoid heart burn.The Brahmins are supposed to follow so many strictest rules.So what’s wrong if in the process they enjoy certain privileges ? Basically these “privilges” enjoyed by them are for the ” Atmic and cultural advancement” of the rest of us.Aren’t in modern society most of the preachers of equality in which a bureaucrat is supposed to treat a commoner on equal footing have ensured for them all sorts of privileges ? So what’s the need to blame the sages that ascribed certain privileges to Brahmins ? They had some higher motives unlike the present people enjoying privileges for their own sake.“
In our religion there are many duties and rites that are common to all. But to carry out one’s special duties certain conveniences are needed: as a matter of fact what are called conveniences are actually not conveniences or privileges, and also they are necessary to carry out the duties of the caste concerned for the welfare of the society as the whole. It is important to accept this truth: the special dharma of any jati (caste) is meant not only for those who constitute that jati but for society as a whole.” No wonder,that Brahmins have been denied access to lucrative professions other than to pursue Vedic learning in an attempt to balance for the privileges enjoyed by them.Vedic learning in our times could mean dissemination of knowledge of the scriptures.
Now progressive people who are raised to making hue and cry about this varna vyvastha saying that it promotes all sorts of complexities just forget that we as owner of oldest civilization loaded with this system have managed to overcome all the crisis.We have remained the part of universe while so many societies across the globe plunged into nothingness with their so-called liberal values. Doesn’t that compels us to bow our head in admiration for the vision and understanding owned by our Rishis ? Today we are living a life hailed as “it’s my life” under the impulse of teachings shared by modern Gurus.Now see how “it’s my life” has given rise to unspeakable problems.Therefore,let’s kill the illusion that sages created dharmashatras for their own benefit,with a treacherous design to promote Brahminism.
Now let’s solve the dilemma with the Brahmin by birth or Brahmin by action ?This has to be solved to prevent the flow of unholy set of actions.I have already presented many verses that talk about the Svadharma(duty) of the Brahmins.I have also presented verses that suggested that almost anyone can be Brahmin if he/she ensures certain set of actions ascribed to the Brahmana.In the same breadth,these people have also suggested with the help of verses that how a Brahmin loses Brahminhood due to lack of sincerity in following code of conduct assigned to them.In lighter vein, it looks like treat all as Brahmins or else we will strip Brahmins of their dignity by pointing out flaws in their system !
I will begin with simple logic why Brahmin yoni is required to be hailed as a real Brahmin.It looks fascinating that all can be a Brahmin.However, a close reading of the scriptures proves that this simply can never be the case.There are exceptions.Sorry ! Exceptions are not rules.I just fail to understand even if a Brahmin fails to observe certain set of actions how does it ensure that “birth” no longer remains an essential quality to be hailed as Brahmin ? Now is there any relation between both of them ? I don’t think so. However,the overenthusiastic souls when they quote that Brahmins means following certain set of actions they often link it with futility of a Brahmin birth ? Now,how on earth this logic holds any merit ? However,the blockheads continue to see a relation.
Anyway, Gosvami Tuslidas says that “to attain a human birth” one needs grace of Lord-bade bhag manus tan pava.When that’s the case how come Brahmin by birth be of little significance ? Why are we seeing this only in light of observance of certain code of conduct ? In Saisatcharitra we find that while talking about the glory of human birth,it has been stated that to be born in refined Brahmin family is a greater blessing than a mere human birth. Actually,the problem is that the so-called interpretors of scriptures read scriptures with a closed mind,having certain biases towards the Brahmins.After all, they are special !That’s the only reason why they have come out with so many vague theories that have made Brahminhood slave to certain set of code of conduct.Though Brahmins have no problem with this drama as they themselves are highly conscious of their downfall ,it’s an altogether a different thing to promote false theories.
Now how important it is to be Brahimin by birth whether or not we are in league with code of conduct shall be explained in light of relevant examples.In fact, the Dharmashastras are unambiguous about the importance of Brahmin by birth.
utpanno brahmanah smrtah
“From the mouth (of the Lord) sinless brahmanas were created for the purpose of performing sacrifices.The child born of a brahmanain the womb of a brahmana wife is known as a brahmana.” (Harita Smrti 1.12.15)
Now in Yakshna Prashna episode in Mahabharata the Yaksha talks about for special feature that defines a Brahmin:
2. Vritta- good conduct
3. SvAdhyAya- proficiency in Vedic recitation
4. Shruta- learning
Yudhisthar gives preference to good conduct to determine the “Brahminhood”but the fact remains that “Kula” has not been ignored which we often ignore when we suggest that just good conduct is essential to be a Brahmin.Had that been the case the other three options would not have emerged and simply good conduct would have prevailed.Here let’s apply some common sense to grasp it.How come a human birth that is result of good previous past actions is so honourable but Brahimns who are hailed as “Brahmin Devta ” the yoni that determines their Brahminhood holds no meaning ? What sort of logic is that ?This is height of irrationality. Take the example of Karna hailed as “Sootpootra”.His example shows that there is no need to be surprised over varna determined by birth rather than by actions.In fact,the most ridiculous impression conveyed is that once a Brahmin is devoid of right conduct he immediately ceases to be Brahmin and turns into a Shudra.No he doesn’t turns into a shudra.He still remains a Brahmin by birth.Not a qualified Brahmin but an ordinary Brahmin. The fall of Ravana is so much quoted to highlight importance of actions but one forgets that he is all the time hailed as Brahmin- a Mahapandit.His ancestry still holds importance.
Now coming to the king of ridiculous assertion: ‘From birth everyone is Shudra’.Why ? Any answers ? That’s not correct.This shloka is a popular one but it serves little purpose other than creating confusion,other than laying stress on the fact that you have to be a “Dvija”.”Dvija” means one who has two births.One human and other spiritual. At higher level it means when a person attains realization.However, we are not concerned with this definition.
Let’s deal with it at gross level after all we are determining the Brahimin and Shudra at a gross level being more concerned with the “by birth” aspect.” Now how will yajnopaveetam would be conducted , which is a pre-requisite for becoming Dvija and taking education in the Vedas ? “Ashtame varshe braahmanam-upnayet , ekaadashe varshe-kshatriyam , dvaadashe varshe vaishyam “.It can be seen that no rule exists for Shudra to turn into a “dvija” via this ceremony which is necessary to turn into a “dvija”.Only the first three varnas in Hindu Dharma namely Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas are included in Dvija.Swami Dayanand Saraswati has stated in Satyarth Prakash that the Shudras can read scriptures but they are not supposed to have “Upanayanam”.Against,this backdrop isn’t a great dilemma that if all are born “Shudra” it would automatically mean that none of them would have “Upanayanam” and therefore the “vedarambha sanskaar” or for that matter sending Brahmins to Acharya-kulam for the study of the Vedas would be then impossible.This sacred Sanskaara of “Upanayanam” whereby one attains dvija-hood or second birth, where Gayatri is the mother and Guru the father would then be impossible.”
“Tatra yad brahm-janma- asya maunji-bandhan- chihnitam/
Tatraasya maataa saavitri pita tu-aacharya uchyate// Manu 2:170″
Now people who boast of varna based on “attributes need to tell how are they going to determine which one of them is going to follow a certain route via the Upanayanam if “by birth” aspect is zeroed.”If the above ages do not relate to the caste of the child from birth, then how precisely in the tender age of 8th, 11th and 12th years does one determine the varna of the child (according to attributes or propensity) in order to perform the Upanayanam at the correct age as stated in the scriptures? Moreover, at such a tender age how exactly do we ascertain (simply by attributes) which child is to undertake study to become a Brahmin, Kshatriya or Vaishya?” The people who are used to convey false impressions via the half baked understanding of the scriptures need to understand that their false understanding would lead to serious confusions. It would only lead to meandering.
Braahmanah kshatriyo vaishyas-tryo varnaa dvijaatayah/ Shankh 1:6
Braahmanah kshatriyo vaishyah tryo varnaah dvijaatayah/Anusha. 47:7
Braahman-kshatriya- vaishyas- tasmaad-ete dvijaah smrutaah/Yag. 1:2:17
(Scriptures suggesting who are the people on route to dvija)
Teshaam janma dviteeyam tu vigyeya maunji-bandhanam/ / Yag. 1:2:17
Maatur-agre adhijananam dviteeyam Maunji-bandhane/ Manu 2:169
Matur-yadagre jaayante-dviteeyam Maunji-bandhanaat/ Yag. Aach. 39
(These suggests that “Upanayanam” is an essential aspect )
I must say that people who are used to making frivolous declarations must come out with authentic declarations in support of their claims.If that’s not possible there is no point in going against the “Varna Ashrama” as laid down in the scriptures.There is also no merit in talking about the dominance of “guna” over “birth” via erroneous assertions with the help misquotes.Once again need to restate that while talking of rules let’s not rope in exceptions.If in some case two plus two is five I don’t think that gives one right to quash two plus two is four. People who talk about burning the Vedas,people who talk about caste less society, people who talk about superiority of Karma and Guna over birth and people who consider Varna Vyavastha a system to impose the dominance of Brahmin class are in reality the Moodhatmas (block heads).They are the quacks in the field of spiritual knowledge.Remember people with shallow knowledge are dangerous as their only task is to sow seeds of confusion where none exists.
Now let’s deal this “brahmin by birth” issue from a more higher angle.Beginning from an interesting perspective,Lord Krishna assures to Arjuna that “yoga bhrasta” (seekers unable to complete the spiritual journey) should not worry as they are born again in high-ancestry to begin from where they left in previous janma (birth).My question is that if “ancestry ” something that proves “birth” is essential how come in some eyes “birth” issue is insignificant.The most striking principle of Karma theory is that human birth is result of set of good actions. Obviously, only chosen fools would speculate that birth and high ancestry means nothing even as they come to believe that accumulation of good karmas and grace of Lord leads to birth both in manusya yoni(human birth) and mansya yoni in higher clan.It’s laughable that scholars who diminish the importance of “birth” forget to take note of Astrology that is totally dependent one “birth” aspect.It’s strange that in a mad rush to promote “gunas” or “set of actions” they have rubbished the cardinal principles of Jyotish-one of the six auxiliary disciplines of Vedic religion.I mean if the very birth is of no significance how will this science have any value ?
Now coming to the most important aspect which gives “birth”desired importance over “actions’ I need to unfold the most important declaration in this regard.The words of Krishna in Bhagavad Gita,which are simply the manifestation of views of ancient sages in Shastras (scriptures).Two slokas viz. (IV.13) and (XVIII.41) of Shrimad Bhagwat Gita support four castes by birth.Many interpretations have been given against it to upheld that though Krishna has determined the nature of tasks on par with natural tendencies (gunas) ,it’s ultimately the set of actions that determine the caste.Since I am myself not that qualified enough to comment on it in an authoritative fashion and also I am not interested in putting forward my own interpretations I would rely mainly on bona fide declarations of scriptures interpreted in light of words said by people belonging to authoritative and bona fide Hindu institutions related with the study of Vedantic scriptures like Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peethama and others.
The problem is that when so called Gyani-Dhyanis ( so-called people of wisdom) make stupid interpretations they are merely promoting “karmantara-pravista”(change in duties) which is even a greater offence than “Karma bhrasta” (people who have forsaken varna orientations).That simply means they are doubting over the wisdom of saints. Now what’s the need for one “varna ” to give way to duties of other varna only because “svabhava”(tendencies) of one Varna has become “svabhava” of another Varna or, for that matter,a Varna has attained rights through noble actions to be hailed as Brahmin class.People who love to quote Vishvamitra and other sages examples should first tell me that do the one’s wishing a virtual change in yoni leading to status of Brahmin have the aura and stature like Visvamitra ?If not ,then they better stop making bogus declarations.Remember one thing when you are born in a certain caste which includes the very birth then it is simply the manifestation of divine will.
I mean had one really deserved a Brahmin birth one would have attained it from the very beginning.If one has not attained it then it should mean wait until your time arrives in future births.It does not mean at all that be a Brahmin as you have done this or that set of noble actions in this very birth.That too by pointing out that Brahmins have not been performing their duties ? I laugh at such childish arguments. Suppose I feel that a certain bureaucrat is not discharging the duties in sincere way then that does automatically gives me the right to replace him/her ?
Even if I am granted the rights to replace that bureaucrat will qualifications required to deserve that post shall also be amended just for my sake who has the will,desire and ability to hold that post ?No.It’s simply impossible.May be an exception is generated but I don’t think a rule can be framed.But then have a look at people promoting Brahminhood without a Brahmin yoni ? I mean when you guys simply cannot bend an earthly rule that easily then who has given the rights to you people to make ridiculous assertions in matter of Varna system coined by enlightened sages.That “Brahmin yoni” in itself is meaningless in absence of right karma (actions). “The word svabhava means one’s inherent nature. This inherent nature arises from samskaras or past impressions and karma or reactions from past actions and is the root cause of determining birth as a Brahmin.” (Ramanuja’s commentary).
Now let’s have the two shlokas from Gita that talk about Varna Vyvastha.
cÄtur-varáčyaážż mayÄ sáčáčŁáčaážż guáča-karma-vibhÄgaĆaáž„ |
tasya kartÄram api mÄážż viddhy akartÄram avyayam ||
“The four orders of society were created by Me [Krishna] classifying them according to the mode of Prakrti predominant in each and apportioning corresponding duties to them; though the author of this creation, know Me, the immortal Lord, to be a non-doer.”
(Chap.IV Shloka 13)
Brahmana -Kshatriya-visham sudranam ca parantapa,
karmani pravibhaktani svabhava-prabhavair gunaih.
“O Arjuna,the activities of Brahmanas, Kastriyas,Vaishyas, and Sudras are clearly divided according to the qualties born of their own nature.”
The popular belief is that since Lord Krishna has based caste on one’s guna ,the caste system by birth is of little significance. This is far away from truth. The question often asked is “Where does He say that Varna is determined by birth in a particular family of parents of the same varna?” Most of the so-called lovers of classless society in blunt way state that ” Krsna Paramatman says in the Gita that the vocations are assigned to people according to differences in their nature, not according to their birth.”
This is once again to create a vulgar mis-impression.I wish to ask the detractors where does he suggest that “by birth” holds no significance ?Here the shloka plainly suggests that various castes have been asked to perform their duties as per the natural traits.Had he been utterly against the “by birth” concept then there was no need for him to specify the castes.When people talk about these two verses they forget to present the big picture involved in it. Now let’s remember the words of Krishna are to be understood in light of analytical understanding with the help of scriptural references.One fails to understand that how come one is talking about “svabhava” without “birth” ? If actions or karma had been that important as suggested by the people who wish to switch over to duties ascribed to others by quoting Vishvamitra and others ,then there was no need for Krishna to specifically refer to four castes. He would have then simply stated look these are the types of actions and anyone who may comes closest to them should treat themselves to be of that caste.
However,we find that’s not the case.Here svabhava or Gunas (attributes) are specifically used against the four varnas.The people who say that Brahmins are at par with other class are also wrong. “The predominating attribute of the Brahmins or spiritual class is sattva guna the mode of goodness.It is the Vedic scriptures which defines what qualities are possessed by Brahmins and what are the duties proper to their status as well as what occupations they may engage in. This Vedic directive applies to the other orders in society as well.“.(Commentary by Sri Ramanuja) .This commentary establishes two thing.One that any aspect need to be understood in light of Vedic directives ,and secondly, Brahmins are representative of Sattava and thus greater among equals.
The another curious thing is that when people so easily talk about to be known on the “basis of actions” or on the basis of traits that belongs to others they then forget that Krishna has also talked about “svadharma” ( following one’s duty in league with natural tendencies).In other words,there is no need to be lured by the charm of attributes of others.May be in our times when there is state of “Varna-sankara) this point may not be intercepted with true essence but then this is the ultimate truth.Remember,this was the dilemma before Arjuna who was talking like a philsopher when his basic duty was to fight like a warrior.
My request to over enthusiastic interpreters is that let’s not corrupt the proper interpretations with selective references. I think the problem is that democratic values have made Indians devoid of etiquette.They think that they have got right to curse Brahmins or Vedic system the way they feel like.Since greater blockheads (the people in league with demoniacal tendencies ) have occupied the media and government sector,the partisan and flawed views have hit our consciousness.And as we all know that we the people have become the part of rat race,there is little time left for the people to discriminate between right and wrong other than to give way to false impressions generated by the secular religious preachers.Anyway, my advice to conscious souls is that they should also remember the words of Krishna in Chap.16 wherein He suggests that who dares to follow his own stupid ways not on par with scriptures shall not attain proper end.
sreyan sva-dharmo vigunah
sva-dharme nidhanam sreyah
“It is far better to discharge one’s prescribed duties, even though they may be faultily, than another’s duties. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, for to follow another’s path is dangerous.”
It would be interesting to know that why Krishna did not refer to birth in clear terms while ascribing gunas to each castes.In other words ,though He meant birth yet there is no strong emphasis. It’s because He knew clearly that “whatever be the outward qualities of individuals, their inner quality is in keeping with their hereditary vocations.” It would be interesting to know that in his times “the various castes were divided according to birth: we learn this, without any room for doubt, from the Mahabharata, the Bhagavata and the Visnu Purana.”.
It was commonplace to find an individual’s vocation determined by birth in those times.In fact,if we take into view the opinion of present age scientists it’s now proven beyond doubt that ” heredity and environment play a crucial part in determining a man’s character, abilities and attitudes.” In those time unlike the confused state of affairs in our times the professions practised according to birth came to be the same as that practised according to guna.In our times ,it might be that some variations have appeared but then who can deny that heredity and the environment in which we are placed still the determining factor.It’s not that strikingly visible that Gunas and birth are one and the same but in those times the relations was highly obvious.
The relation is in our times is also very much clear but then we are used to propaganda instead of having faith in words of sages and Lord. The guanas and karamas that determine us are the ones we receive via heredity even as we swing to a different mode.That’s why Krishna suggests that there is a greater chance to succeed in professions that are at par with one’s natural traits.However,the point is that heredity is the essence of one’s persona irrespective of gunas one come to possess.I am not sure that how many of us who are so vocal about “actions and gunas alone ” are truly are having a job at par with Gunas they claim to possess.If we look closely at the problems that have hit the modern times one would know that most of the problems are result of people doing the work not at par with their inner traits. Only God knows what will happen if one who is supposed to be a teacher turns into a warrior ?
And that’s the reason why a highly respected saint from Kamakoti Peetham in unambiguous way states that “Sri Krsna establishes that an individual owes his caste to his birth.There should not be the slightest doubt about it.” So when Lord Krishna gives values to “attributes” he is not trying to create a contradiction.He is surely confirming the “by birth” phenomenon as that’s desirable.
The same thing has been confirmed by other great saint Swami Ramsukhdasji Maharajji.His interpretation when read together with the authentic interpretation by Sri Adi Shankara presents a different meaning to the Gita’s shloka from Chap.IV. whose popular interpretation says that “The four fold varna was created by me based on guna and karma.”
Chaaturvaryam=chatvaar eva varnaaH chaaturvarnya
sRShTam=utpaaditam (braahmano’sya mukhamaaseet-ityaadi shruteH)
(From the Geeta Bhashya by Sri Adi Shankara)
“What Bhagavan Krishna ji says is that the fourfold varNa system as described in Shruti (Brahmana was the mouth of Purush etc.) is designed by me and a person takes birth according to the prevalence of the three guna (sattva-rajas-tamas) coupled with the effect of their karma (according to the actions of previous existences etc.).There is no inference here that a person’s caste is determined by their actions and attributes in their current existence. Hindu Dharma upholds that the prAni attains a birth according to the fruits of their previous lives and that action done in that life will determine the outcome of any subsequent birth. This also applies to the verse from Gita (18.41) which actually means that all varnas are allocated duties according to the guNa (sattva-rajas-tama) that has determined their birth. There is no implication that these attributes develop through the current existence and in fact refer to the guNa which a person possesses at birth.” ” Genetics has proven that we inherit various traits, idiosyncrasies and disorders from our parents, so would we now refute this also?One’s jati or natal kinship community (not varNa) is intrinsically linked to parentage.”
Before I conclude I must clear the air,especially to the secular and progressive minds, that it’s not at all an attempt to project the supremacy of Brahmins.It’s also not an attempt to lessen the value of actions.After all, why would I ,a lover of Advaita philosophy, come to glorify the gross body.I had to get involved in the painful exercise yet highly enlightening experience of writing a long piece merely to quash the fallacious views that have gained importance.And yes ,as I say ,I am not at all interested in creating caste conflict by bringing the supremacy of Brahmins on the fore.
On the contrary,I am in league with the words of Sage Vyasa that “Sudrah sadhuh” (sudrah is at par with saint).Since a Sudrah is devoid of most of the restraints that has been imposed on other three castes,a sudra always has a great chance to have an inner perfection via his set of simple actions.A few word on the deterioration that has hit the Brahmins.It would indeed be foolishness to suggest that Brahmins alone have fallen from the grace.Nearly all the classes have given way to corrupt practices as highlighted in one of the verses from Padma Puranas.Most of us are aware of the reasons that have caused the degradation of various castes.So instead of using the downfall as a pretext to curse Brahmins,it’s time to allow Brahmin Devatas to regain their lost glory.Let’s not make the revival of Brahmins a difficult task by giving rise to so-called progressive theories aimed at transformation of society.
Sri Geeta Talk
Sri Geeta Sholka
Sri Geeta Shloka
Pic Credit :
A Child Praying
Sri Adi Shankara