Varna and one more

Jaldhar H. Vyas jaldhar at BRAINCELLS.COM
Mon Oct 15 10:24:46 CDT 2001

On Mon, 15 Oct 2001, K. Sadananda wrote:

> But I am not sure about your statement that varNa is not a caste.
> Traditionally VarNa in the chaturvarNyam .. sloka has been
> interpreted on the basis if four castes.  VarNa is used both in terms
> of caste and/or color.  VarNaashrama dharma is used to designate
> dharma for the four castes. The basis of human classification is
> universal based on the proportions of satva rajas and tamo guNa-s.
> The 18th chapter of B.G. has an extended discussion  related to GuNa
> and karma-s.  Brahman is one who has predominately satvic GuNa.
> Natually he follows the Dharma as defined by Saint ThiruvaLLuvar.  On
> the other hand - jaati is used traditionally for caste.  I know
> 'kula' is used - but never heard the use of jaati for caste.
> Shankara uses in VivekachuuDaamani - jaati neeti kula gotra duuragam
> ...
> Relation of caste to birth rather than guNa - But am not sure it is
> shruti based.  If it is so I would like to hear.  It is possible that
> one can gravitate to a particular yoni based on ones predominant
> guNa-s.   But then it  becomes a secondary cause.
> Anyway this is my understanding -

Anyone who has spent even five minutes in India knows that ones caste is
based on birth.  That this is even an issue shows how bogus it is to rely
on books, ignoring the evidence in front ones own eyes.

An example of this from the Shruti that comes to mind is there is a
certain rite which is supposed to be performed by a rathakara
(chariot-maker.)  The sages asked does this mean a person who follows
the profession of chariot making or someone who belongs to the caste of
chariotmakers?  The answer is the latter.  We recently discussed the story
of Satyakama and that all acharyas have interpreted Brahmanhood to be a
matter of birth in his case not deeds.

>From very early on, thinkers have realized the connection between varna
and jati is problematic.  One theory mentioned in the Dharmashastras is
that the various jatis are the result of varnasankara (or mixture of the
varnas.)  But again, this doesn't accord very well with reality.

Jaldhar H. Vyas <jaldhar at>

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