The context in the Gita , in which all this discussion of the varna system appears , is significant. Arjuna is told that he is a kshatriya, his foremost duty is not to run away from the field in compassion to his enemies, and it is better to do one's duty born out of one's own nature (sva-dharma) rather than adopt the dharma foreign to one's calling and nature. It is in this context the entire varna system is elaborated. So Krishna concludes this discussion by saying : Whoever performs diligently and contentedly the work allotted to him he is the one who finds perfection. Even if you put him in a different environment he would not blossom. And those whose natural instinct, born of his varna, is very strong, they will even transcend their immediate man-made limitations and will themselves, drawn by their Prakriti, seek the environment and the work which suit their nature.
A Ramanujan, though compelled to work as a quill-driving clerk in the Port Trust Office in Madras, could not restrict his braahmana urge toknow, which was predominant in him, and he finally ended up in Cambridge to become the twentieth century's most famous self-made genius of a mathematician. A shepherd boy of twelve could not be restricted to tend sheep and cattle in the distant land of Corsica, for his kshatriya genius would urge him to run away and seek aposition in the French army in which he quickly rose up to become the world's most well-known general, for all time, Napolean. Another lad of age sixteen, was sweating it out in the staircases of a multi-storeyed building in Calcutta carrying the share documents up and down, to the brokers and owners, and was not allowed, by the English overlords, even to use the lifts, because he was a 'native' -- but nothing could restrain his vaisya genius to become within the next decade so dynamic as to start his own business which in due time madehim one of the two tallest industrial giants of India, Ghanshyamdas Birla. All these three started their lives with a profession of servitude which was not in their inborn nature, but finally rose to shine in the work and calling that was theirs by their svabhaava, which they pursued diligently to perfection.
A Dhanurdasa, of low birth, a wrestler by profession, was spotted by Sri Ramanujacharya in a most lustful act of meanness, but was converted by him overnight into the most noble devotee of the Lord and disciple of his guru -- that the
braahmana disciples of the Guru felt jealous; and the teacher taught them by putting Dhanurdasa and his wife, of equally condemnable antecedents, to the most severe test out of which the couple came out not only as the winners but became the model of Brahmana devotees to the rest of the disciples of their teacher. There are scores of such instances in the ocean of Hindu tradition that emphasize the viewpoint that it is not the caste that one is born in but the present behaviour that really matters. Many of the Alvars and Nayanmars and several of the devotees we have listed as 'Towering Giants of Spirituality', belong to this category.
We conclude this Section on 'The Type' here, hoping to come back to it, if necessary, at a future time. We now go to the next Section, 'The Lesson' wherein we summarise for ourselves a Master Plan for Value Education, incorporating the lessons of what all we have said on Science and Spirituality so far.
February 14, 1999
Copyright V. Krishnamurthy
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