The four character-types
The four character-types arising out of the 28 only possible types are mentioned in the Hindu scriptures as the four varnas. There are only four, neither more nor less.By the very definition, there is a hierarchy among them in terms of spiritual evolution. The spiritually most evolved is the B-type just because of the dominance of the satva in that type. The hierarchy for the purpose of spirituality goes down as: the B-type; the K-type; the V-type; and the S-type. The hierarchy is only for the purpose of spiritual evolution and for no other purpose. For all other purposes they are like the four walls of the society. The system has certainly suffered misuse and misappropriation both individually and collectively; but that does not take away the inherent nature of the classification.The entire humanity is subject to this classification of the svabhaava (one's-own-natue) of the mind for spiritual objectives.
One's varna at birth, is dependent, according to the scriptures, on the cumulative effect of responses in the previous life or lives to the six entities: Knowledge, Action, Doer, Intellect, Will and Happiness. There could certainly be other entities or factors which are relevant but Krishna mentions only these in the Gita for elaboration in this context. And since it illustrates the hidden theory (which must be pretty complicated) very well, we stick to these six entities as if they are everything. These are the genetic roots of the individual's later manifestations. The soul in seeking a rebirth, seeks that kind of genetic environment which matches with its own vaasanaas.
These four character-types were known as the braahmanas, the kshatriyas, the vaisyas and the soodras in the Hindu tradition. The qualities and the duties of each are mentioned by the Lord of the Gita very specifically in the 18th chapter after He has talked about the three-fold division of the six entities Knowledge, Action, Doer, Intellect, Will and Happiness. There is not a single thing in the world which is not subject to this guna-wise triple division. It is this triple division of the vaasanas carried into a new life at birth that decides what are inborn for him in that life. The qualities that a braahmana brings with him at birth are listed. He says (Ch.18-42)
Serenity, self-restraint, austerity, purity, forgiveness, uprightness, the urge to learn and know the truth of things, and belief in God are the duties of
braahmanas born of their own nature.
The words 'born of their own nature' (svabhaavajam) are important. These qualities must be inherent in him; then only he is a braahmana. If they are not his natural qualities, then he is not a braahmana even though a parent of his may be a braahmana. At the dawn of the twenty-first century it is ridiculous to interpret the verse in any other way. The verse should be taken as a definition of a braahmana thus: those who have these qualities as their own svabhaava (= one's own nature) are braahmanas. . A Mahatma Gandhi, a Mother Teresa, a Srinivasa Ramanujan, a Martin Luther King Jr., are the braahmanas.

Next
February 13, 1999
Copyright V. Krishnamurthy
Homepage Overview Beginning of this Section Previous Page