The Concept of Varna(Caste)

A section of English educated, present day intellectual jugglers are found to engage in
arguments and altercation on issues relating to Varna Vyavastha and caste system. An erudite scholar of the Shastras Tattwabhikshu, Sri Shaktipada Das in his translation and treatise on Srimad Bhagavad Gita (in Bengali language, published by Shastra Dharma Prachar Sabha), explains that Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra are in the primary spiritual heritage of human beings – which flows through the Bharatiya Vaidic
tradition or dynasty, since times immemorial. It is therefore said the social system based on differences of Varna and Ashrama is the specialty of Bharatvarsha.

1. Varna Vyvastha as per the Shastras is governed primarily by birth (based on fruition of past deeds of previous births) and then essentially by Achaar i.e. Karma-and Swabhava influenced by three Gunas- viz. Satwa, Rajas and Tamas.
Chaaturvarnam maya srishtam guna
karma vigashah ( Gita), says Lord Krishna.
In addition to what has been stated above, there are very many references linking Varna with birth. In the Purusha Sukta of Rigveda Samhita (10/90/12), in Shukla Yajurveda (13/11) and Atharva veda(19/6/6) and in Krishna Yajurved- Tattiriya Samhita7-1/1) –

According to the desire of Brahma the following were created by Him. From His mouth the hymn of Tribrit was created and Brahmins amongst human creation, from His
chest and arm fifteen creations were created amongst which were Kshatriyas of men, from the middle part seventeen creations including the Vaishyas and from the feet twenty-one including the Shudras.

2. In the Ahirbudha Samhita , it is mentioned that – Manu was born from
Pradyumna Vishnu . On his Sankalp (resolve) Brahman couple originated
(created) from His mouth, Kshatriya couples originated from His Chest, Vaishya couples
originated from His Thighs and Shudra couple originated from His Feet. Their bodies were divine in mental form, hence all were Manus and sprang from the original source of Varna  –Adi Varna Yoni .All the Jeevas according their own action attain
the original Yoni out of (cosmic element) or consciousness and assume the physical forms of Brahman etc. All these activities take place in the mental receptacle of nature .

From Manu’s mouth means – from the Brahma-tej  – Supreme energy or effulgence emitted from the face of Manu, Kshatra tej  from Manu’s Chest means – from the Kshatra effulgence emitted from Manu’s Chest, Vaishya- tej means energy or effulgence emitted from the Thigh of Manu, and from Manu’s Pada means Shoudra tej, energy radiated from the twin feet of Manu. The first splendor or effulgence is permeated with Sattwa Guna(attribute), the second effulgence consists of mixture of Sattwa and Rajas, the third effulgence is thoroughly permeated with a mixture of Rajas and Tamas , and the fourth effulgence consists of Tamas . The unified embodiment (concept) of Manus is called Purusha i.e the Manomaya Purusha in the supra-mental sphere.
The world is created from the knowledge i.e. Vedas of Purusha.
Bhagawan Manu (12/97) says that –

The four Varnas, the three worlds, the four Ashramas, the past present and future, all have evolved from the Vedas. In the initial stages of Creation there was neither any Varnashrama nor any Sankar . All were living in Topovan , ascetics or renunciated . All were (Brahmanishtha) Brahmanas. Gradually based on their Karma  in (successive births) they assumed different Varnas.

3. Besides this, in many portions of Samhitas of the Vedas references about Caste
System can be seen in galore.
(Brihadaranyak Upanishad, 1/4/11-12)

At first the Brahmins were created, but it was not suitable for them to stay alone; so
as a betterment the Kshatriyas were created. But that did not also work properly,
so the Vaishyas were created. Yet that was also not enough, so to perfect the normal
working of God’s creation, the Sudras were created.

Those, whose actions are noble in this birth, have noble births in the next, such as Brahmin, Kshatriya or Vaishya birth. Those, whose actions are derogatory in this birth, have derogatory births such as dog, pig or Chandala births.

In Kathopanishad  it is seen, Yama the Lord of Death (who is a Kshatriya, because the Devatas have also castes) bowed to Nachiketa as a Brahmin although he was a
boy. Yama said O Brahmin, I bow to thee.(Kathopanishad 1/19)

4. In Manusmriti it is written, For the good of the world, God created Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra from His Mouth, Arms Thighs and Feet respectively.There can not be any doubt that a Jeeva, conceived in the womb of a Brahmani by a Brahmin, according to Dharma is a Brahmin. The same principle is also true in case of Kshatriya and Vaishya.

A Brahman’s Varna is known by his birth, after Upanayan (Sacred thread ceremony) he
becomes Dwija  (born twice), he becomes a Vipra  after completion of his learning, and all the three combined, a Brahman is called Shrotriya .

We refrain from extensively quoting slokas from various Shastras which proved to the hilt that Varna or Jati  is decided by birth, and ones action should confirm to the dictates
of the Shastras towards fulfillment of the five Yajnas as ordained for every individual.

5. The truth of the matter is that neither of the two, Caste (God-ordained ) and
conduct (individual activities — purushakar) should be disregarded. Of the two, Caste or God-ordained, predominates by far almost in all cases but sometimes conduct can be so
powerful as to override Caste. The chandalas are of five kinds – four kinds
by Purushakar (conduct) and one by birth. The ingrate, the willful violator of the
Shastras, the hot-tempered rager, the crooked and deceitful – even though Brahmins, are four kinds of Chandalas by nature. The fifth kind of Chandala is by birth only and God-ordained. There are many other things which make all Hindus untouchable, such as death or birth in the family, menstruation, defecation, before ablution in the morning, wearing shoes, touching a dead body or a new born. This proves that the Hindus abhor sin, not the sinners. The sinful conduct, the sinful birth, anything associated with sin makes a Hindu, untouchable. It is not spite or hate but to remind him of the direness
of sin so that he may become humble and in future refrain from associating himself with
sinning and accruing further sin with dire consequences in after life.

6. Hindu untouchability is the surgeon’s glove that protects society from the terrible sins of the untouchables, who are born as such because of grievous sin. To cleanse the sinful body of the chandala nothing is efficacious but Achar  and Bhakti. To try to raise the
Chandala by removing untouchability by preaching so-called equality, by tempting them
to defile temples, by Godless education, by riches, by inter-dining and inter-marriage, and thus to get round God’s punishment for the sins committed in previous lives, is the height of madness befitting a perverted infidel whose vanity is equal to making and unmaking the world at his sweet will and pleasure, and can never commend itself to a Hindu. These apostates in their mad frenzy of destroying Hindu religion are only making the life of Hindu untouchables more miserable, leading them with more sin which is already likely to break their back.

7. There is no hate, as the hateful haters of Hindu Dharma say, in Hindu untouchability, the untouchability of the Shastras, which is the lifesaviour, the preserver of purity, the core of character and the maker of manhood. It hates sin, not the sinner and is therefore a bugbear of sin and as such the modern people who love sin always rail at it. This Divine untouchability of the Hindu is only for the upliftment and good of the untouchables because it turns the untouchable into an offspring of humility  by reminding him of his low position in the social status due to his sinful past and thus expiate his enormous sin with the least of suffering and least rig effort. Hence to attain the degree of humbleness, which God in His Infinite Mercy vouchsafed to the untouchables, through their humble birth, the higher castes had to strive very
hard for attaining the Lotus Feet of Sri Hari, the goal of human life.

8. The Hindu untouchability is Divine, the Hindu has nothing to do with its creation. It has been created by God to serve His purpose as an impartial administrator of the holy Vedic Law so that the Jeevas  should undergo the fruits of their karma in obedience to the Vedic Law.Therefore, there cannot be spiteful hate about it. Nowhere in the Shastras there exists any sanction for spiteful hate, torture or tyranny on the untouchables. If any spiteful hate has crept in, it is a modern creation and due to the innate egoism of a perverse brain which cannot perceive the real significance of this Divine, naturally just and righteous Dispensation. One can easily realise that there is no spite about it
when all the rigours for associating with a sinful man are to be undergone by the toucher and not the touchable.

9. Therefore it is the sin which matters not the sinner. Because as soon as this sinner makes himself free from sin through devotion to God, he is revered.How is he an untouchable, whose mind is filled with the love of the Maker?

A chandal who has devoted his heart and soul to the Holy Feet of Sri Hari is better than a
Brahman. A Brahman without Bhakti is far worse than a chandal The three worlds are hallowed by the dust of the Holy Feet of chandala, though he is beyond the pale of four castes, if he is a Bhakta of Vishnu.Although Brahmin may be endowed with all
the twelve virtues, but if he is not devoted to the Lotus Feet of God, then a Chandala, who
has dedicated his mind, words, actions, wealth and life to Him is far far better and more elevated than the said Brahmin. Because that Chandala sanctifies his whole family whereas the Brahmin with those virtues cannot.He who keeps chanting Your graces
constantly is the most venerable of all creatures, even if he is a Chandala. So much so that God Himself has said.

To me the Chandala Bhakta is dear and not the Brahman, who has the four Vedas at his
fingers’ ends. To him should gifts be made as the best of Satpatra  and from him gifts
should be received absolutely hallowed as they are by his most sacred touch. He should be worshipped just like Myself.

10. It is pertinent in this context to provide a glimpse of the Shastric view which considers past karma and present  in the most judicious sense and also proves how past
karma is inexorable.
a) Maharshi Viswamitra and Bhargava Ram or Parashu Ram: In the Mahabharat
we find mention of Rishi Vishwamitra who was elevated to a Brahmin after repeated failures in spite of prolonged penance and that too his birth having been caused as a result of the Charu (rice milk preparation) prepared after havan and yajna by Rishi Richik through divine power. The episode goes that Richik pleased with the piety
and seva of his consort Saatyabati wanted that she begets a child with qualities of a great
vedajna Brahmin with high qualities and prepared the Charu accordingly and asked her
to embrace a Udumbar tree (Yajna-Fig, Brahmin category) after her periods and take
the Charu( purified after incantation of Mantras). He prepared another Charu on
request from his spouse for her mother(King Gadhi’s wife who had no son) for a son with
traits of a valiant Kshatriya with indomitable prowess, and prescribed for her an Ashwattha (holy fig tree- of Kshatriya varna or category) to be embraced after the periods and take the charu purified by incantations of Mantra). But Satyabati’s mother deliberately influenced her daughter and did the reverse expecting a Vedajna Brahmin to be born as her son. She gave birth to Vishwamitra who had all the Brahminical inclinations and inquisitiveness, knowledge and know-how. The Charu prepared by Rishi Richik that was intended for Satyavati’s mother was, on the contrary, taken by Satyavati to obviously deliver a strong and valiant Kshatriya. Satyavati wept, prayed to Rishi Richik to partly change the boon. Rishi Richik kindly consented and Jamadagni was born as Satyabati’s son, whose son in turn- Jaamadagna Ram or Bhargava Ram i.e.  Parashuram had those fierceful traits known all over the world. But this solitary event was the exclusive outcome of the Rishi Richik’s truthfulness, penance and divine strength. In spite of this background, Rishi Vishwamitra could become a Bramhjna after repeated prolonged and severe penance. This stands out, as a solitary instance in the Mahabharata (Anushashan Parva, 4th chapter).

b) Matanga fails to attend Brahminhood: In Mahabharat Anushashan Parva, 27-29 th chapter, we find from the ancient, Matanga Gardhavi episode, how Matanga having been born in the womb of an unchaste Brahmin women(who was the wife of a pious Brahmin) by a barber , though having good qualities, was considered a Chandal with hidden sanskara which stopped him from acquiring Brahmanatwa in spite of great penance. Lord Indra every time appeared before him, told him how it takes thousands, and lakhs of years to get the body of a Bramin, gradually by succession from animals through Pukkash or Chandal, Sudra, Vaishya, Kshatriya, Brahmin, a shrotriya Brahmin get elevated from one varna to other.A Brahmin is a person with all virtuous qualities of piety, love for all beings, renunciation etc. etc. Yes, there are many persons in those varnas devoid of those qualities and features, but it is impossible to elevate one transgressing the natural system for the welfare of all beings. Even after undertaking thousands of years of tapasya (penance) Indra could not grant him Brahmanatwa, from a born Chandal, and at long last, on his prayer blessed him and made him Chandodeb, highly famous and illustrious for his traits, and worshipped by women. c) Veetahavya episode: There is also mention of another incident of a different type. In the lineage of Mahatma Sharyati, Manu’s son (Kshatriya), Maharaja Vatsya was born, who had two sons Haihay and Taljangha. Haihay was later known as Veetahavya. Veetahavya had ten wives and 100 sons who were valourous and killed the dynasty of the King Divodas of Kashi after repeated attacks over several wars. King Divodas ultimately took refuge in Maharshi Bharadwaj and with his grace and yajna, begot an all powerful son Pratardana who grew up as a 13 year old boy just after his birth, learned the Vedas and Dhanurved,
became highly mighty through Rishis strength, went for a war, and killed all the
100 sons of Veetahavya in a retaliation. Finally trounced and dejected, and finding
no escape, Veethavya took refuge in the Ashram of Bhrigu. Pratardan prayed before
the most powerful Rishi Bhrigu to relieve Veetahavya. But, Maharshi Bhrigu said that
in his Ashrams there are only Brahmins. This delighted Pratardan, who said that since
King Veethahavya had lost his Kshatriya varna, his mission is accomplished. He
offered pranams to Rishi Bhrigu and went away. Since, Bhrigu the most powerful sage
granted him Brahmin status, his latter children were all versed in Vedas with great
qualities. Later, a child was born to Veetahavya named Gritsamada who was a Mahatma, and in his dynasty, in future all were virtuous Brahmins. This was a very very exceptional case and an effect of Rishi Vrigu interference and Brahma vakya.
Exceptions actually prove the rule.(Anushashan Parva, 30th chapter).

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