Sunday, June 1, 2014

Notes on the VarnaH Dharma - VarnaHshram Dharma or VarnaH System

The VarnaH-Dharma or VarnaH-system was a non-rigid system. It was based on one's pravritti (nature, inclination, interest) and guna (traits, aptitude, talent).

"Brahmin" is associated with priestly duties and (maybe) teaching. Anyone engaged in or having a talent for administrative or defense-related activities was a "Kshatriya". Someone with a talent for mercantile or trading activities was a "Vaishya". While anyone associated with or having a talent for agro-based activities, animal husbandry, artisanship or craftsmanship was a "Sudra". In a way, the "varnaH-system" was essentially indicative of the available talent and work force. It may not have meant to indicate a social hierarchy (given that it was a non-rigid system), although "Brahmanas" probably were accorded respect due to their wisdom and knowledge. | VarnaH does not mean "caste". The word 'caste' is derived from 'casta', which is a Portuguese word - meaning, 'purity of descent'. Even 'jaati' does not mean "caste". It indicates clan/kula, sort of genesis of a clan.

Our ancients were able to view greatness, wisdom, etc without the additional baggage of prefix and/or suffix. [A seeker of knowledge (someone who trod the path of knowledge - not mechanical regurgitation arising out of learning by rote), or a wise and highly learned/knowledgeable person was called "Brahmana".]

However, if a so-called "Brahmin" is involved in trading or administrative (legal, political) activities; if a "Kshatriya" has never been to war or is ignorant about weaponry; if a "Vaishya" is involved in teaching, agriculture etc; if a so-called "Sudra" is an educationist, or involved in trading or administrative (legal, political) activities... then??

Is the old bracketing/categorization/terminology helpful? Is it logical? Given the changed social milieu and even employment opportunities, does it suffice??

... Things went steadily downhill with the decline of the Gupta era. Boudhya Dharma or the 'path/way of the Buddha' (enlightened way of life; Buddha = the Enlightened One) is part of Sanaatan Dharma. Hinduism is a term that came about in the nineteenth century. | Whenever things take a turn for the worse: BG 4.7 || yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srijamy aham || Sri Gautam Buddh too was part of sambhavami yuge yuge.

As per a commitment/pledge, the ten principal manifestations (avatars - Dasavatara) help and guide humankind yuge-yuge (yug/era after yug/era - time and time again) - whenever adharma or malevolence gains the upper-hand (i.e. when negativism, confusion, avarice, ignorance etc becomes a bane).

BG 4.8 ||
paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam dharma-samsthapanarthaya sambhavami yuge-yuge ||

paritranaya sadhunam vinasaya ca duskrtam = to curb malevolence/negativities (including the negativism that resides in the hearts and minds of humankind - lethargy, apathy, perfunctoryness, ignorance, moribund discourse, finger-pointing, inertia, and other members of that brood), for the collective good of humanity, sambhavami yuge-yuge = I manifest Myself (sambhavami) yuge-yuge - yug/era after yug/era. The focus/objective is to revive/rejuvenate dharma - sattvic or noble aspects (dharma-samsthapanarthaya).


Food for thought: If catching fish is considered to be a "backward" activity, does it imply that fishes are "backward" and/or that lakes and ponds, rivers and seas, streams, bays and oceans are "backward"? ~ Also, what about the ones who consume those fishes ~ are they "forward" or "backward"?

~ What about Jeeves, then?


Weaves, textiles, tapestry, basketry, toy making, pottery, decorative arts (enameling, jewelry design, etc), visual arts (painting, drawing, sculpture), lacquerwork, metalwork, the arts, music, agriculture, etc are integral to our culture and way of life. Their practitioners have therefore been a connecting element. However, by terming all these as "backward," did the nation choose a negative way and/or create a negative perception, attitude and/or psychology? 

~ Do psychology (social, behavioural, cognitive aspects) affect or undermine a civilisation?

Is negative/demotivating/pessimistic-sounding terminology part of "the dreary desert sand of dead habit"? 

... Is changing minds through changing the language ~ "ever-widening thought and action"?

~ Will Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, René Lacoste, Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Luis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo, Jose Eber, Vidal Sassoon, etc be called "backward" given our worldview? 

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