[Advaita-l] Notes on Musings on the Fundamentals of Hinduism - 7 (I)

Anbu sivam2 anbesivam2 at gmail.com
Sat Sep 12 21:17:39 CDT 2009



The Seventh Musing has raised some important concepts that need some
elaboration. The first one is Varna. I had written on this Varna sometimes
ago for a Hindu conference but then it was in relation to stating our
differences with the secularists. I was wondering if I should post the same
writing or write merely on Varna per se without reference to the
secularists. I felt it would add clarity if I posted the old version rather
than write new one. So here it is.

*Caste and the Secularists *

We are talking so much about castes perhaps without knowing what they are.
The following article of mine published in SAAG forum in Jan 2005 gives my
understanding. Hope this helps our readers.

"Caste is a misnomer that the Europeans applied to the social divisions that
then existed when they first saw them in India. [Spanish casta, race, and
Portuguese casta, race, caste, both from feminine of casto, pure, from Latin
castus] Today's caste proliferation has nothing to do with Hinduism but to
the secular government's policy of reservations in the field of education
and employment. The imputation of this caste proliferation to the
Brahminsor Hinduism per se is a motivated misinformation. The ills
that you see
today lie with sections benefiting from the man-made caste laws. The secular
government alone is responsible for this mess of caste proliferation.

The four varnas that Hinduism talks about is based on 'Guna' or the stuff
with which everything is made. The entire universe is made of this 'Guna'
stuff that is three in number - called Sathvam, Rajas and Thamas. It is very
difficult to explain in great detail in this blog and needless to say that
without detailed explanation it is easily misunderstood. Having initiated
the discussion, I do not wish to run away without saying something about
this Guna. Sathvam can be compared to transparency, clarity, light,
knowledge, subtleness, dispassion, love and so on. Thamas is the opposite of
Sathvam in character indicating opaqueness, darkness, confusion, ignorance,
grossness, passion, lust etc. Rajas can be compared to motion, work, order
and disorder, anger, violence, pride, deceit, etc. You can say, for
simplicity's sake, that mobility is its character. These three Gunas pervade
the whole universe and the absence of even one will collapse the world.

The world can be divided into broadly two categories viz. those that are
sentient and those that are inert. By sentience it is meant that it has
(sense) perception and by inertness it is void of or dormant of sense
perception. For example, a human being is sentient and a rock is insentient.
However you also notice that there is varying degree of sharpness in their
sentience among the sentient beings. Such degrees of sharpness are
attributed to the intellect. So the animals though sentient are devoid of
intellect. They are driven by their instinct. While animals move around, the
plants which are seen to be sentient compared to a rock do not move from its
fixed spot.

Now coming to humans, we see varying degrees of intellectual prowess from
those of extremely imaginative ones to those quite dull-witted. The
secularists who shout from the housetops about the equality of men and/or
women often lose sight of this fact. Why don’t they listen to the Fabian
Socialist George Bernard Shah who said that not everybody needs a
microscope? We Hindus treat all living beings by our instinct of Ahimsa and
not by secularists’ pretensions and professions.

A society needs both intellectuals as well as men who won’t be bothered
about it. This is because they both contribute to the well-being of the
society in their respective ways. Hindus understood that between these two
extremes there are others who would also constitute a society. They who are
between the intellectuals driven by Sathwa Guna and the dull-witted driven
by Thamasa Guna are the Kshathriyas and Vaisyas driven by Rajo Guna. Since
motion does not exist by itself but only with something else, for example
you see motion only when something moves such as the water flowing or fire
burning or wind blowing etc., so the Rajas has to cling on to either Sathwam
or Thamas. So you have two categories viz. Sathwik Rajas and Rajasic Thamas.
Since Rajas moves, Sathwic Rajas moves from Thamas to Sathwam and Rajasic
Thamas moves in the opposite direction from Sathwam to Thamas. So
intellectually you have a person who would go from ignorance to knowledge by
sacrificing immediate gains for Truth and you have a person who would move
abandoning reason to convenience. You see these two categories of people
also and the society needs them (If they were not needed they wouldn’t be
there). These are the fourfold varnas that you do see in society. Thus the
all pervasive Guna constitute humans in the way described above.

A knower thus unmistakably sees the play of the Guna in people and he sees
it as naturally residing in each individual as his driving force. The Guna
is not inherited from the parents but attained by the ‘Aathma’ or soul (I
hate to use the world ‘soul’ for it connotes a created entity whereas
‘Aathman’ is uncreated and eternal) by his poorva karma or actions in prior
births. Thus a person is a Brahmana or a Vaisya for example, not by being
born to Brahmin or to Vaisya parents and it does not also mean that a Vaisya
is not born to a Vaisya and so on. However the Hindus do not abandon lineage
as everyone has inherent pride in his heritage. Try asking M. Karunanidhi
who badmouths Hindus by sheer ignorance, to abandon his family and friends.
Actually many of DMK men themselves have voiced objections to making DMK a
family property of Karunanidhi. We call this “Abimaanam’ or attachment. Some
may say it is deceit or cheating! (People have a tendency to tell others but
not to themselves and Karunanidhi is a prime example.)

It is a fertile ground for a person to manifest his Guna in his own
environment, for example, a person with a Vaisya Guna (Rajasic Thamas) can
easily manifest himself in the company of Vaisya parents and Vaisya
community. Hindus see that also as a karma-phala. The secularists contend
that everyone can do everything and so a Vaisya need not be a Vaisya and
Sudhra need not be a Sudhra. To confine a person to a sect is a human right
violation they say. Very well, try it out.. I have no problem. We Hindus say
that you can do what you want but the outcome will always be the same. It is
also true that there is no gain without pain. The truth of this is for a
person to find out for himself. But however much the secularists might cry
aloud, not many people would risk abandoning their traits. It is their
nature. If a person abandons his nature he would soon find out he is a fish
out water when he abandons his nature.

My problem with the secularists is that they, in the name of advocating
human rights, themselves become violators of human rights by forcing others
to abandon their nature. If I say ‘be yourself’, I mean it out of the clear
knowledge that trying to be someone else is wrought with pain and suffering
in the end. By saying ‘be yourself’ I am not condemning anyone to be a
Brahmana or a Sudhra. But the secularists by abandoning the natural variety
in the name of misconceived equality, forces oneself to abandon his nature
and ask him to be different from who he is. This is clear human rights
violation. In our concept it is adharma.

A person who cannot learn beyond his parrot like repetition is difficult
indeed because he cannot be taught. He doesn’t know that he doesn’t
know.Hindus call him ‘aparaadhi’. An aparaadhi will have to learn by
More difficult indeed is a person who knows, yet he does things contrary to
the knowledge. There is nothing to teach him and none for him to learn. He
is a man of wanton disposition called ‘abhachaari’. Punishment is to only
recourse to contain him. The secularists form the above two varieties."
____________ _____
Sri Gurubyo Namaha

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