[Advaita-l] Re : Karma and Reincarnation (Chandrashekar)
lakmuthu at yahoo.com
Fri Jul 21 05:28:46 CDT 2006
CAturvarNyam -Verse 4.13 Bhagavad Gita Home study by Swami Dayananada Sarasvati Continued 3
Superiority is determined by ones maturity and not duty
No duty is superior to another. Each duty is as good, as necessary, as every other duty. Therefore, one group of people is not superior or inferior to another group of people. The people themselves are nothing but parameshvara, irrespective of which group they belong to. In every society there are certain activities to be performed and these activities or duties fall into four general groups. Thus, the groups that people belong to differ from each other only in terms of the duties attached to them.
When a person belonging to any group performs his or her duty with an attitude of karma-yoga, that person becomes, guNa wise sattva-rajas-tamas. A brahmaNa who chants the veda for personal glory becomes rajas-sattva-tamas; if he does it for money alone, with no other ambition, he becomes rajas-tamas-sattva. And if he performs a ritual in the temple with an attitude of dullness, for no other reason than to feed himself, he is tamas rajas-sattva.
There is another kind of brahmaNa who enjoys what he does and does it well but, at the same time wants everyone to listen to him. He is always looking around to see who is coming. There are also those who, seeing someone with a lot of money coming, will stop right in the middle of performing a puja and fawn all over the person. God has to wait it seems! Thus, there are several varieties of brAhmaNas brAhmaNa brAhmaNas, meaning brAhmaNas, both duty-wise and guNa-wise; Kshatriya-brAhmaNas, those who are brAhmaNas duty-wise and kshatriya guNa-wise; vaishya brAhmaNas, those who are brAhmaNas duty-wise and vaishya guNa-wise; shudra brAhmaNas, those who are brAhmaNas duty-wise and shUdra guNa-wise.
In the same way there are brAhmaNa kshatriyas, kshatriyas- kshatriyas, vaishya- kshatriyas and shUdra kshatriyas;
brAhmaNa vaishyas, kshatriya vaishyas, vaishyas- vaishyas, and shUdra vaishyas;
brAhmaNa shUdras, kshatriya shUdras, vaishya- shUdras, and shUdra- shUdras.
Who is superior in all of this? A brahmNa brahmana, brahmana-kshatriya, brahmana-vaisya, and brahmana-shUdra all are equal. So the brahmana is superior. This statement must not be misunderstood. When we refer to a brahmana as superior, we are not taking about a person who performs the duties of a brahmana. We are talking about the quality, the maturity, of the persons mind. There is a lot of confusion around this very point that has given rise to the prevalence of caste related problems.
If a man who performs brahmana duties says he is superior, he is definitely demonstrating a lack of the qualities of a brahmana and is therefore not a brahmana- brahmana. You will find many historical saints who were not brahmanas by birth being worshipped in the temples of India. Some were Sudras and some were harijans, meaning those who do not belong to any of the four groups. Most of these saints were duty-wise Shudras, but they have places in the temples because they were brahmana Shudras. Therefore guNa-wise, people can be brahmanas while belonging to any of the four duty-based divisions.
Duties may change but qualities do not
This classification of duties and people can apply anywhere, not just in India. Here, the only difference in the four-fold division is that it was reflected within the family structure itself, each family belonging to one of the four groups. Probably less than one percent of the people follw this system, but amongst those who do, the son of a brahmana still studies and teaches the Veda, performs the prescribed rituals, prays for the society, and lives a simple lief. The system is almost gone because it requires a certain protection that it no longer enjoys.
No system can survive unless it is protected. Prior to the Mughal invasions, the four-fold classification structure in India was protected by the royal families. However during the eight hundred years of Muslim rule, it was destroyed. Later, in the interests of survival, people concerned themselves only with doing what had to be done to look after themselves and their families. Because a man no longer bothered about what his fathers karma was, the whole structure changed in terms of duty.
However, in terms of quality, guna-vibhaga, the division of people does not change. This is where karma-yoga as an attitude becomes clearer. A karma-yogi is one who does what has to be done with a proper attitude. Such a person is also a brahmana, sattva-rajas-tamas, with reference to the quality of his or her mind. Only this brahmana can be a sannyasi. The mandate that a brahmana can be a sannyasi is based on the quality of the mind alone and it has nothing to do with which group a person is born into in terms of duty.
To be continued.
Om namo narayanaya.
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