The fourth varna
If the nature of responses to the six deciding factors in the previous births cumulate into one of dominant tamas type, the individual is born of the fourth varna, the s-type, whose nature will be to serve. Again where the Gita verse (Ch.18-44, 2nd line) says that the inborn nature of a soodra is servitude, we have to correctly interpret it as follows. Those whose inborn nature is one of servitude, they are the soodras. Looked at this way, the verse loses all its 'sting' attributed to it by successive social reformers. Properly understood it means that all the clerks of the world, all the 'employees' who cannot do anything else except 'obey orders' -- maybe because they have been put in those circumstances, but more often because they cannot do anything better -- belong to the fourth varna. The so-called brahmin who quill-drives all his life-time, not knowing anything else to do, and not having anything else to do, is a soodra by this definition. He has no business to take pride in the fact that he was born of brahmin parentage and therefore deserves respect. If he makes any claim to brahminhood it has to be on the basis of the definition of a braahmana, given in verse no.42. The 'brahmin' who has defaulted on the Gaayatri, the Queen of all mantras, must be considered lower in spiritual evolution than the fourth varna who just chanted the names of God. See the Essay on Mantra for more detail.
A useful authentic modern reference:
For a fuller understanding of the varna system in reference to one's birth, one's character and one's calling, one should go to
Swami Paramarthananda's exposition.
In fact the scriptures say that the moment a 'brahmin' thinks that he is superior because of his varna, his eligibility to that varna is already jeopardized. A braahmana by attitude is what every world citizen should strive for. In the country which gave the world the greatest apostle of non-violence, there must not be any doubt about Truth and Non-violence being more basic social virtues than a social system like the present caste system in India. Remember the scriptures prescribe only four varnas and no more. 'Varna' should not be translated into 'caste' The caste system is man-made. But the varna system is universal. The multiplicity of castes in India is a fault of the sociological milieu of the nation and a massive misuse of the natural theory of varna. Listen to Mahatma Gandhi on this:
Varna-asrama is in my opinion inherent in human nature. Hinduism has simply reduced it to a science. A man cannot change his varna by choice. Not to abide by one's varna is to disregard the law of heredity. The division however into innumerable castes is an unwarranted liberty. The four divisions are all-sufficing. They define one's calling; they do not restrict or regulate social intercourse. The divisions define duties, they confer no privileges. To arrogate to oneself a higher status is arrogance. Varna-asrama is self restraint, economy and conservation of energy.
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February 13, 1999
Copyright V. Krishnamurthy
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