About Hinduism and India

Posts tagged ‘Khashatriya’

Splashes– 63/72 – Era of British Rule

During Renaissance several nations from Europe raced to reach India, the name they associated with wealth, wisdom and mysticism. Hindu Kings had made India a Paradise and a destination for knowledge. In contrast, Muslim Rule converted India in to a living hell, drenched in blood, superstitions, and poverty but devoid of knowledge. Therefore after reaching India, the early Europeans must have been saddened as the land was not of their expectations. It was ridden with disease and illiteracy as compared to the awareness Europe had started experiencing.  Thus to some extent, the Europeans rightly called the native as savages, primitive, and snake charmers.

Dragnet of Colonization

Private companies from England, France, Portugal and Dutch had ventured into competition for taking away gains out of India. They came with advanced weaponry, ships, and above all patriotic fervor that Indians had not been left with. Though the colonial contingents were rivals against each other in Europe, they had common thread of Christianity to bind them. They were set to spread Christianity in their respective colonies and strengthened their hold by conversion of population to their faith by cruelty, coercion, deceit, and allurements.

It was easier for European nations to usurp political power by inter playing rivalries between feudal Nawabs and petty rulers. While Mughals were still busy enjoying Mujras and quil-fights, India slipped into another spell of foreign rule. The British out maneuvered the other competitors and established ‘East India Company Bahadur’ as a paramount power over local rulers.

Atrocities by the British

East India Company incorporated in England ruled the country till 1857. Thereafter the governance of India passed on to British Crown. The colonial rulers also followed the cruel and ruthless methods of the Islamic rulers for subduing natives, though they professed to be civilized.

They converted the poor population to Christianity. They could not motivate Brahmins, Khashatriyas and Vaishyas, but misled poor and illiterates by over-playing social and caste disparities.   Muslims were still in power in several regions. It was not easy for the Christians to convert them without inviting retaliation. Hindus being devoid of political power were easy targets for conversion.

Demeaning of religious traditions and atrocities motivated Indian masses to revolt in 1857 against the British with slogans like “Maro Firangi ko.”  Some rulers also joined the violent retaliation, but mainly due to their individual grudges against the British. For want of coordination between revolutionaries, and due to the support received by the British from Indian rulers, the mass revolt got crushed. Thereafter, the governance of India was taken over from East India Company by British Parliament.

Obliteration of Hindu Identity

British considered Hinduism to be a formidable barrier in establishing their hold over India, and therefore concentrated on dismantling the foundations of Hinduism, by projecting that to be faith of superstitions and blind faith. History of ancient India had already been destroyed by Islamic invaders. The India of 18th Century had nothing left about her pre-Muslim past. Indian History was reconstructed and to suit the current British rulers. Fortunately, archeological sites were brought under protection thereafter; otherwise we would not have had any trace left of our past.

Emergence of Anglicized Class

To pacify Indian masses on account of religious atrocities, and to legitimize their colonial rule in India, the British overtly distanced themselves from Christian missionaries, and started calling their government secular. Also they invented a theory of Aryan invasion of India to justify their own hold over India. For strengthening their hold they pacified masses through administrative reforms, to gain acceptability of their imperialist rule. Intellectual vacuum created by Islamic rule provided environment conducive for this purpose.

The British did introduce some reforms as well as modernization, but only to the extent necessary to strengthen their hold over the resources of the country. Laws were codified to replace Shariyat jurisprudence from India. A hierarchy of courts was set up to streamline system of justice that hitherto depended upon the whims of illiterate Qauzis (Islamic Jurists). Certain undesirable social practices were also abolished.

The British appointed Brahmins and Maulvies to act as amicus curie for British judiciary in interpreting Hindu and Muslim customs of inheritance. Till then Brahmins had been devoid of proper means of livelihood under Islamic rule, and had been living under fear and insult. This opportunity was exploited by some of them to stress more upon rituals than the substance in Hinduism.

New Education System

The British introduced an Education system recommended by Lord McCauley after prolonged deliberations held in British Parliament.  The curriculum was designed to project British as the custodians of all wisdom and scientific knowledge and tarnishing Hindu scriptures as mere farce founded on blind faith.  They succeeded in rearing a loyal workforce of anglicized Indians to support their government while they were in power, and even thereafter.

As a natural consequence, Hindus were more influenced by English culture than the Muslims, in the matter of dress, eating habits, socialization and education system. Gradually Western systems started replacing indigenous Indian systems. Hindus got used to Christian calendar, time schedules, weights and measure, distances, technical terminologies, legal terms and practices, and even recreational activities since our games and sports appeared to us primitive in glitter. European past times came to be regarded as status symbols.

Forum to distract Educated Indians

With far sightedness an Englishman Allan Octavian Hume founded Congress in 1885 as a political forum for neo educated Indians to vent out their political aspirations so that situations like 1857 revolt could be foreseen and avoided. They had nothing to worry about its activities, since that was founded by the British and worked under their supervision. Aristocrat Indians and some erstwhile Opium Business Partners of East India Company era were kept in the fore front to keep budding Indians satisfied by having some minor say in local self governance.

Subsequently when Leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak projected demand for freedom as a birth right the British got alerted. One by one such patriotic leader were jailed, and replaced by humble, soft-spoken, non-violent  leaders who had been trained in England and behaved Europeans in thought and tastes. The British media groomed and established them in Indian masses to emerge as their representatives. Basically illiterate at that time Indians hailed their indigenous English-speaking leaders by their outwardly charms.

Mental Slavery

Over the period British had a considerable strength of Indians to support their ideology. We accepted whatever they preached and acted. We started viewing everything was according to their point of view and willingly discarded whatever was unacceptable to them. Even we could not identify that whatever new knowledge British had brought with them was nothing more than already complied by our ancestors, because the same was presented to us using British technology.

Resurgence of Hindu Nationalism

However, changes in the environment ignited resurgence of Hindu Nationalism. Several movements of social reform such as Brahmo Samaj and Arya Samaj were started by Hindu intelligentsia. Participation of Indian soldiers as mercenaries of British government provided Indian common folks to get a feel of democratic freedom available to people on other part of the globe. Demand for political freedom grew in India at grass root level. On the whole, after the dark tunnel of Islamic rule, India could see the modern age dawning at the far end of the tunnel, through the reforms brought in by the British.

It was ironical that through British, Indians tasted the fruits, for which trees had been planted by Hindu sages long ago, and that had been devastated by Muslim barbarians. As the end products bore European tag of manufacture, the credit for modern advancement in the field of science and technology was claimed by western nations.  Hindu identity had been obliterated.

Freedom Movement

Gradually the demand for freedom got boost from several quarters. Due to heavy expenditure and loss of manpower in World Wars I and II, it became difficult for the British to continue hold over colonies. They were on look out to retreat safely without much loss to their men and materials. They used few educated Indians to play for time through various gimmicks in the form of Round Table Conferences by playing divide and rule between Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and native rulers who had remained mainly supportive to the British. Finally the British diplomacy succeeded and Muhammad Ali Jinnah projected demand for Pakistan as a separate home land for Muslims by addressing a crowd in Lahore in 1940. Jinnah spoke:-

“Muslims were not just a minority, but also a nation, fully entitled to their own state. Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literature. They neither intermarry nor inter-dine together and indeed they belong to two different civilizations… They have different epics, different heroes, and different episodes. Very often the hero of one is the foe of the other…. During the ages, India has always divided into Hindu India and Muslim India. The present artificial unity of India dates back only to the British conquest… Muslims are nation according to any definition of a nation and they must have their territory and their state.”

Thus, India was partitioned between Muslims and Hindus on the basis of population. It turned easier for British to vacate the region safely and left India crippled.

Partition on Religious Ground

With partition of India between Hindus and Muslims, the transgressors, claimed a large chunk of Hindu land. The country’s borders shrunk over night to exclude Hindus as citizens from that area of newly formed Pakistan. Despite having held the tag of Indian Nationality, Hindus had to leave their ancestral land and homes. Thus Hindus had to surrender their motherland to Muslim invaders under pressure from British usurpers in spite of  verbose denials made by certain Indian leaders like Gandhi and Nehru, who had actually been signatory to the agreement.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 64/72 – India after Partition)

 

 

 

Advertisements

Splashes – 57/72 – Sunset in East – Sun Rise from West

Unlike other invaders of medieval age, Alexander did not indulge in reckless destruction of knowledge and civilizations of the areas he conquered. He remained an inquisitive disciple, a soldier to the hilt, and a general par excellence. Indian fame had already impressed him and he was keen to see the country rather to destroy the same. Conquering India meant victory over the world.

When he reached India, the border King Ambhi extended cooperation to him. Thereafter he met next border King Puru (Porus) on the battle field. Although Puru was defeated on account of multiple reasons, the battle made Alexander realize that if he were to continue fighting he would be completely ruined. His army was grief-stricken and expressed strong desire to return.

As a matter of fact Alexander did not win any major war on the Indian soil but merely passed through the Indus Valley fighting skirmishes with the tribes of that area to safeguard the exit route of his bruised army that had got demoralized due to the might of Nanda Empire at Magdha. Alexander was the first European who carried the first-hand accounts of India’s glory to Europeans during 300 BC.

Renaissance in Europe

The period from Fourteenth Century to Seventeenth Century is known as the age of Renaissance in Europe. It bridges medieval age to modern age. Prior to Renaissance the theological shackles imposed by Roman Church had made any kind of scientific development impossible.

Although the European intellectuals had in their possession some texts of Greek and Arabs since first awakening, but they lacked courage and opportunity to put that knowledge to any practical use. As soon as the interference from Church declined, the knowledge gathered during ‘First Awakening’ and thereafter during ‘Renaissance’ electrified the spirit of exploration and inventions in every field. Geographically tiny countries also emerged as super powers on the globe to colonize others.

India after Alexander

During 563-483 BC, Buddhism and Jainism had emerged within Hinduism. Both sects had their founders as Khashatriya princes. Both preached Non Violence and stressed on living a simple life with nature. Several contemporary kings adapted to their fold. Prominent among them were Emperor Chandragupta Maurya who voluntarily gave up his newly found empire and converted himself to a Jain monk.

His grandson Emperor Ashoka turned a Buddhist and was instrumental in propagation of Buddhism to South Eastern Countries. Beside other things, several monasteries and statues of the founders were set up in all parts of India. House holders and youths started leaving simple life in monasteries according to tenants of new faiths with more stress on non-violence. Although they had certain reservations about castes and some rituals but after their founders, both the sects developed their own superficial rituals that could not withstand later events. After the retreat of Alexander, the tide of Buddhism was halted for some time in India, but it spread in the neighboring countries of South East Asia, Tibet and China.

Hinduism during Gupta Period

There was revival of Hinduism during the reign of Gupta KIngs. Hindu culture and literature witnessed progress in every field. Finest literature in Sanskrit was written during this period and the language came to be associated with the nobility. Most of the scriptures were written down during this period.

Hinduism witnessed the emergence of two prominent sub branches, such as Vaishnaites, and Shivaites. Brahmanas leading their respective branches authored mythological stories high lighting the prominence of their respective deities. Temples were constructed and rituals of stricture nature came to be observed.

ertain wrong practices also made their entry into Hindu society such as caste pride and rivalry among ruling classes. Brahmins and business community over indulged in pleasure. Gupta Empire declined in 500 AD and was followed by emergence of Kushana dynasty. After Emperor Kanishka there was again a vacuum of central authority in India and fragmentation of smaller kingdoms.

Excessive Indulgence 

There was a spurt in rituals of idol worship. Due to patronization of ruling classes the monasteries grew richer to attract more youths who discarded their worldly duties to pick up living on alms as monks. By over indulgence in pleasures or spiritual pursuits, Hindus went astray from political realities, environmental changes around them, and overlooked the need of political unity as a nation.

If birds and animals discarded their instinctive duties given by Nature, their existence would be useless in the chain of ecology. For example if snakes, lions, eagles and cats turn vegetarians overnight and adopted total non-violence, what would be the purpose of their living? Khashatriyas in India were confronted with similar situation.

They replaced their weapons with begging bowls, discarded their ruling functions particularly in the area of security of the state and neglected vigilance to indulge in sensuality. They forget that many often offensive action was the best form of defense. Their over indulgence to principle of non-violence proved disastrous.

Smaller fiefdoms started emerging all over India on the basis of caste or families. Military training was relegated to pleasures of dance and music. Even robbers settled on the out skirts of India turned bold to over-power frontier rulers. The environment was ripe to invite death and destruction as the riches of India were alluring motivating force.

The Last Hindu Emperor

Emperor Harsha Vardhana was the last Hindu Emperor who ruled the country at the age of sixteen and continued for 41 years from his capital at Kannauj. He tried his best to forge unity once again but achieved partial success. He was defeated by Pulkeshi II of Karnataka and had to compromise on accepting River Narmada as a border between the two states. Emperor Harsha Vardhana took interest to consolidate segmented Hindu faiths together.

Buddhism and Jainism came to be accepted in the fold of Hinduism since the life styles of their followers and the philosophy of ‘Live and let live’ was perfectly in tune with Hinduism. Cultural integration among various communities of India had been taking place since the pre-Vedic periods. All those who entered India such as the Greeks, Parthians, Sakas, Huns, Gurjaras, Pratiharas, Kushans, and the Scythians had already been assimilated into the Hindu culture. The Buddha and Tirathankaras of Jainism came to be regarded as incarnations of Vishnu. Once again Emperor Harsha Vardhana put India to glory but that was short-lived and proved to be the beginning of anti-climax.

The Slide was set

Soon after the demise of Emperor Harsha Vardhana India fragmented into small states on the basis of clans and castes. There was disunity and strong jealousy among the neighboring states. Rituals eclipsed the substance and grew like cobwebs. Brahmins turned selfish and greedy, Khashatriyas turned sensual and debauch; and were less farsighted to discriminate between personal and state interests. Spiritual, economic and intellectual progress came to abrupt halt. Business men felt insecure, and people at the lower strata started looking for personal safety for life and living elsewhere.

Excess of everything is bad 

Orthodoxy and lethargy prevented Hindus from going abroad across the sea to see for themselves the dangers that were lurking all around. Although the Sun of progress moved towards West but it took over thousand years to disappear.

In comparison by this time Europe was in total darkness except couple of countries like Greece and Rome that were raising powers. The effect of Renaissance was not universal in all the countries of Europe. During Renaissance age India was under the rule of Khilji, Tughlak and Lodhi dynasties. It was under Mughal rule during French Revolution.

Wars for succession always followed the death of Islamic rulers coupled with uncertainty and insecurity in the country. Provincial rulers went out of control of central authority. Indian population was frequently getting looted and massacred by Nadir Shah and Ahmed Shah Abdali as well as the local claimants to the throne.

The Niyama of Contentment (Santosha) had been greatly influential on the mindset of Indians. It helped them to have fewer demands and necessities. In the absence of necessities, there were no inventions either. That was the reason that in spite of knowledge in their possession, Indians did not invent like the Europeans who were able to put several inventions of utility items in everyday life.

Thus when Sun went down in India, Europe was basking in glory.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 58/72 – Darkened Horizons)

Splashes -23/72 – Rationale of Varna System

Four natural broad working groups formed the backbone of the Hindu society. No vocation was considered high or low. All segments had to be working together for the common good.  Everyone was born as a Shudra to begin with. It was only after acquiring knowledge and skills that individuals moved to higher class. Non Hindus, out of these Varna were identified as Malechcha or Yavana. They were aliens to Hindu Society.

Dignity of Labor

Hindu society has given due importance to every kind of duty performed. Of all the functions Sevak Dharma (servitude) is regarded as highest form of duty alias Dharma. Lord Hanuman is regarded as an ideal role model in the performance of Sevak Dharma and has been honored as one amongst the five principal gods known as (Panchdeva). Dignity of labor is thus imbibed in Varna system.

Occupation based social Groups

Social grouping of Manu was based upon the mental make-up and aptitudes of persons according to the role they were required to perform in society. They were not based on birth of a person in any Varna. There is no country, no race, or society in this world, which is free from social segmentation in some form or the other, similar to caste system in Hindu society. Even in the so-called socialist countries, where all are claimed to be equal, some are more equal than others!

A society based on the division of labor is far superior to a society divided on the basis of wealth or color of the skin. For administrative convenience workers are divided in to several departments, trades and grades all over the world. The social differentiation on the basis of birth and race is still prevalent in Western world in the form of ‘lords’ and ‘commoners’, ‘whites’ and ‘blacks’. In the case in Islamic world Master (Aaqa) and slave (ghulaams) vocabulary is part of holy literature.  In Hinduism the distinctions were related to actual occupation of the person and not on the basis of race, color, or wealth.

Identical to Modren Life styles

The Indian Varna system encompasses all the aspects that management experts of today suggest regarding work culture, environment, and work ethos. Hindu life style prescribed for each Varna did not confine only to the work place, but also prescribed a way of life in totality. Brahmins need to be living an ascetic life, eating simple Satvik food consisting of non-alcoholic, vegetarian and low-calorie diet.  The Khashtriya are prescribed more nourishing and regal life style as Rajasik. For the remaining, it is Tamasik or a mix of Rajsik and Tamsik, keeping in mind that these strata of working groups required more physical energy.

oday in all health conscious societies, people are adopting dietary habits and living style suiting their work environment more or less similar to the type advocated in Hindu scriptures. In no way modern science of Personnel Management differ on this concept. Intellectuals prefer low-calorie Satvik food and life style; Executives live the Rajsik way, while rests indulge in Tamsik fast food and life style. Western counterpart of Tamsik food is known as junk food. Can this fact be denied that today hotels also advertise working lunch on similar classification as low-calorie Healthy Herbal food, Executive food and Economic packets made of Junk-food assortments?

Profession and Heredity

All members of nomadic groups were socially equal, but all civilized societies have segments depending upon educational differences, financial status, and occupations of persons. Almost in every country, individuals inherited family name, property and social status from parents, and retain the same till they earn or relinquish at their own.

Normally in every society a son adopted profession of his father, because having been brought up in the environment of his family, it was genetically natural for him to have similar genes, aptitude, and facilities for developing and improving skills needed for the family profession. On the other hand, since it was not practically feasible to predict the aptitudes of every individual for allotting profession at the time of birth. Thus heredity had come to be accepted as a working principle to suggest the most likely profession of every child. Subsequently, as the son easily inherited the traits, working and living environment of his father; he adopted the trade also of his father to carry forward family’s expertise and skills. The ‘thumb rule’ based on heredity was flexible and voidable in the past as it is today.

Exceptions to Heredity

There is enough evidence in the scriptures to show that persons adopted professions other than the Varna at their birth. Notable examples are that of Parshuram, Dronacharya and Kripacharya. They were Brahmans by birth, but turned warriors. Sage Vishwamitra was a Kshatriya, while Maharishi Valmiki was a Shudra, but they are respected and remembered today on the basis of their professions, and not because of their Varna at birth.

There have been several other cases where people born in lower castes have risen higher to saint-hood by their virtues and those born in the upper castes have been degraded due to their vices. Ravana was a highly learned Brahmin, but he is equated with evil as compared to Rama, who was a Kshatriya.

Sage Manu’s classification of society permitted Varna swapping also. He has recommended weaponry by Brahmins and even killing of Brahmins by others in the following verse:-

आत्मनश्च परित्राणो दक्षिणानां च संगरे। स्त्रीविप्राभ्युपपत्तौ चघ्नन्धर्मण न दुष्यति।।

गुरुं वा बालवृद्धौ वा ब्राह्मणं वा बहुश्रुतम्। आततायिनमायान्तं हन्यादेवाविचारयन्।।

– Manusumriti Chapter 8- 349-350

(It meant, when it is necessary to protect the learned and ladies, Brahmins and other castes should take up arms for the protection of Social Order of Dharma. Such violence is not sinful. Similarly if Guru, Brahmin, or any learned person runs amuck, he must be killed without any hesitation).

Thus, as and when Shudras, Vaisyas and Kshatriyas acquired knowledge and reformed habits, they empowered themselves to the upper castes.

For vested interests and vote bank politics, today Varna classification by the government is being done on the basis of heredity.  Like educational institutions issue degrees and diplomas to the learned, government is issuing certificate to the backwards. Ironically, today more Hindus clamor for obtaining a certificate of being backward than classified as learned persons.

Restrictions on Higher Education

The intelligence of person is dependent upon heredity as well as the environment in which he lived. The acquisition of higher education demands higher level of intelligence, which mediocre performers are not likely to possess. As resources cannot be wasted on persons lacking requisite intelligence, grasping power, and aptitude, non-performers get ousted from the realms of higher education everywhere. The restrictions on higher learning were not only in India but are prevalent all over the world even today. Aptitude test is nothing but a tool to gauge the potential of an individual for assessing his suitability to absorb higher education. All those who do not score the minimum prescribed grade on the aptitude test are barred admission.

It will be an unrealistic proposition to reform the entire world, since some diversity has been created by Nature even among brothers of same parentage and environment. People should be given equal opportunity and scope for development but not get walk-overs on account of birth certificate.

Restrictions for Common Good

Power of knowledge is a double-edged weapon that can be used for a good cause, as well as for pursuing evil designs, as per the mental make-up of the user.  Even those who create virus in computers are experts in the field of software; those who steel and sell kidneys are also doctors. They turn evils on the basis of their using their expertise.

There is a perfect illustration in Mahabharata. Having seen Eklaveyya misusing the archery skill to block the mouth of a poor dog, Guru Dronacharya incapacitated Eklaveyya from possessing superior technology. Today also, if nuclear technology is possessed by under developed nations, misuse the same is apprehended. But if the same is possessed by developed countries, it is taken for granted to be used to ensure peace. The precedence of Guru Dronacharya is being followed by USA and UNO alike.

There are many instances, when villains earned higher skills and capabilities through hard work initially, but the granting Rishis subsequently withdrew the same through a curse, when the same were misused.

Hygienic Segregation

Certain jobs in every society require persons to work in contaminated surroundings. For hygienic reasons, it is therefore necessary to restrain them from coming in contact with others in private as well as at public places. Operation Theaters in hospitals are not open to all, unless, the entrants adopt prescribed standards to disinfect. Likewise temples, kitchens, water sources, and other places of public utility are not open to persons employed on unclean jobs. This is legitimate restriction that speaks high of awareness in ancient Hindu society towards public sanitation.

It is desirable even today. One would not like to come in contact even with nearest relation, who is habitual of keeping poor personal hygiene. While certain upper classes, due to cumulative effect of multiple reasons, over practiced un-touch ability, certain persons to malign Hindu religion have also over played it for political reasons.  It was to engineer conversion to other religions for changing the demographic profile of population for imperialist designs.

Shudras are an inseparable integral part of Hindu society and not a race different from other Varna of Hindu society. It is not to be confused with racial discrimination that is practiced in other parts of the civilized world. Segregation of some people from Shudra with poor hygiene was nothing but a method to enforce desirability of maintaining cleanliness at public places.

With the introduction of modern technology and constitutional regulatory provisions, this issue is now irrelevant. Some self-styled politicians have kept the same alive to nurture their vote banks. It is ironical that most of such leaders never advised people at lower pedestals to move up through hard work and genuine knowledge. They want them to continue.

Chand K Sharma

Next: Splashes – 24/72 – Status of Women in Hindu Society)

Splashes – 22/72 – Formation of Hindu Society

The early man did everything himself. He searched, hunted, cooked and ate his own food. He found a place of living for himself, and everything for his clothing and other needs. But everyone was not equally intelligent to think, skilled to improve, apt at problem solving, or strong to defend in the face of dangers. Thus people started doing jobs that suited their individuality, capability, tastes, and skills. They depended upon each other.

Interdependence in Relations

The stronger started protecting weaker. In return weaker provided them food and other services. The one who was more experienced and intelligent, emerged as leader or adviser, and commanded the rest to follow his advice and commands. Those who were unskilled and timid, accepted to be followers, did unskilled jobs and obeyed the commands of those who were superior and more competent. Thus men inter-depended on each other according to their individual, capabilities, leadership traits and needs. Humans got classified into various segments in every society all over the world. With this the system of social classification based on interdependence started. Consequently some customs to regulate barter deals had to be evolved.

Varna System of Barter Relationships

Varna means something that is voluntarily adopted by an individual. It is not thrust upon by someone else. Sage Manu has been the first social regulator for the mankind. He formalized barter relationships in the human society. He classified the population of the society in to four ‘Varnas’, keeping in mind the traits required by persons to perform various functions in interdependent group. His classification was based on ‘division of labor’, ‘dignity of labor’ and the ‘interdependence’ of individuals by traits and skills on each other.

Thus society functions were classified under four broad groups relevant to the time. The new formed groups were titled Shudra, Vaisha, Khashatriya, and Brahmana. Sage Manu matched aptitudes and skills to the demands of the job. Even today, job descriptions and job specifications continue to be structured on the technique initiated by Sage Manu. With passage of time more vocations have also brought under those broad social groups.

Shudras – Unskilled workers

To begin with, everyone was primitive, unskilled, and savage at birth. All shared the same platform in respect of personal traits. Collectively all of them lacked inquisitiveness, knowledge, enthusiasm, courage, and even motivation to work harder than bare minimum required to meet their immediate needs. Because of poor communication skill they could not barter group products with neighboring groups to supplement their resources. All of them carried their own load in hunting group and performed all sorts of jobs irrespective of their personal likes or dislikes. Collectively were classified under the title Shudras.

They had to be led by one person who possessed more skills and courage than the rest. The structure of society, which started developing in the shape of a pyramid.

Vaisha – Skilled workers  

Gradually hunting groups advanced and some Shudras learnt farming. They could supplement their food and clothing requirements from the agricultural produce. They reared animals and held livestock as additional assets to offer the same to others in exchange of their manual services. They got settled at places where farming could be done. Due to their skills life was more comfortable than the nomadic hunters and Shudras.

Being better skilled, their activities involved resource generation, conservation and distribution of materials and livestock. Additional vocations emerged, as some persons were required to make and repairs tools for agriculture, making shelters, and other house hold items. The additional traits required for resource generation were business sense, skills, entrepreneurship, trading, hard work, flexibility, interactive skills, tact, risk taking, perseverance and adaptability. Therefore those possessing such additional skills and traits came to be classified as Vaishas. They were identified as the business community among hunters and workers. In the beginning they engaged ‘Shudras’ for manual work by offering them food, clothing or other items, and as the civilization advanced further, by paying them wages. The position of Vaishas was above the Shudras in the structure of society.

Kshatriyas – Administrators and Protectors

Agriculture produce, livestock, standing crops and habitats were vulnerable to attacks from neighboring nomadic groups who could take away by force the fruits of their hard work. Thus arose the need to spare some persons from the group to be on guard throughout the day and night to protect the habitat and assets of the group. They were required to be spared from agricultural duties and allied jobs to practice weaponry. In lieu, their personal needs had to be looked after by other group members, to provide them food, clothing and other necessities of life.

The traits required for this class of persons were courage, proficiency in fighting, initiative, drive, and loyalty towards the group. With passage of time, this segment got actively involved with the administration, coordination, and supervision of the group activities. They were called Kshatriyas.

The Kshatriyas protected the society with the strength of their arms and were responsible for the maintenance of law and order including administration of justice. The title and stature of group leader was elevated to be called King and the concept of Kingship developed. A brave person with saintly traits was preferred to rule the country according to Dharma. In general interest and well-being of group, Kshatriyas were placed under the King and given authority to disciple the errant in the group.

Brahmin – The Intellectuals

Since everyone was busy with tasks related to generation of resources, protection, and administration, additional persons had to be found within the group to oversee that Kshatriyas that they observed ‘Dharma’ while using their powers.

They were also made responsible for generation of ideas, their assimilation and propagation to the group members. Thus, those who were the best, farsighted, mature, perfectionists, learned and experienced, were assigned the task to lead and train the society. The learned men were called Brahmin (Intellectuals). It came to be their duty to acquire knowledge, and impart the same to others.

For their knowledge and leadership they were placed at the top of the society’s ladder and were entitled to respect, cooperation and obedience from all the other segments. They were to live simple and exemplary life. As thinking, meditation, and leadership traits are not equally distributed in human beings, it was natural that entry to the upper most segment of society remained open only to the few who were qualified and had leadership traits and intellectual superiority. This intellectual group therefore, emerged as the most powerful and envied group of society.

Traits based Stratification

It can be visualized that the formation of the Varna pyramid took its roots from the ground towards top and not otherwise. As and when people improved in skills and proficiency, they moved upwards. Those who did little for their self-development remained at the bottom of the pyramid whatever be their identity.

Sage Manu clearly stipulated that any Brahmin without knowledge was only name sake like a wooden elephant or artificial deer –

यथा काष्ठमयो हस्ती .यथा चर्ममयो मृगः। यश्र्च विप्रोSनधीयानस्त्रयस्ते नां बिभ्रति ।। (Manusmruti 157)

While in other civilizations people were ‘captured’ and mustered at the lower levels as slaves, and conquers descended from the top as masters, in Hindu society Brahmins were never inducted from outside. Every one born ‘without knowledge’ was regarded as a Shudra, and it was only after acquiring skills and knowledge (Gyana) that  person was graded to higher Varna.

This organizational structure is being followed by all the civilized societies of the world even today. Modern Corporations in the field of business and manufacturing also have job classification conceptually similar to the titles created by Sage Manu. The Directors are like Brahmins, Executives perform like Kshatriyas, Technical Personnel are similar to Vaishyas, and Unskilled Workmen are at the lowest pedestal like Shudras.  Only the titles have been named differently. As and when a person improved his profile he was allowed to join the upper group.

Caste system was a functional division of society in to four occupations based on the temperaments, traits and capabilities of individuals. With passage of time the identification turned hereditary and now with free lancing of occupations it has lost its occupational relevance. Now it is being used mainly as an extension of personal identification.

Chand K Sharma

(Next: Splashes – 23/72 – Evaluation of Varna System)

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: