CASTE AND VARNA – PART II

54. In a caste system, phrases like ‘son of a Kayastha’ or ‘son of a Gujjar‘ etc are not used because son of a Kayastha is a Kayastha and son of a Gujjar is also a Gujjar.

56. Therefore calling Karna in Mahabharata as suta-putra or son of a Suta (stable keeper) cannot be called a caste oriented insult

57. simply because suta is not a caste. Also Karna was kshathriya and not a suta (charioteer), even though he was son of a suta.

58. The matter is further proved when we find that Karna is appointed the king of Anga, and later the Commander in Chief of the Kaurava.

59. After 75 years of age people embraced sannyasa as also many directly from Brahmacharya. Sannyasis had no varna.

60. At one time majority entering Sanyasa Ashrama lived outside varna system. Still they were part of Aashrama Dharma.

61. This is in contrast with the caste system in which caste is thrust on to the individual at birth and it does not leave him till death.

62. Secular idea was Hindus were within the grips of caste system, which Buddha disliked, and started a new religion to end caste discrimination.

63. Buddha, they allege, criticized Brahmanas and it was because of this that most of the masses consisting of lower castes converted to Buddhism.

64. Such claims of Buddha vs Brahmins have no basis, and they are products of fertile brains.

65. Buddha never claimed departure from the Sanatana Dharma (Esa Dhammo Sanatano – Thus is the Sanatana Dharma – Dhammapada, 5).

66. At the time of Buddha, brahmanas were a class, not by birth, but by education and profession. Buddha indeed spoke very highly of the brahmanas.

67. Buddha described the characters of an ideal brahmana which is in consonance with the charecters of brahmanas described by Hindu scriptures.

68. Of all the classes of people, Buddha selected the Brahmana alone to declare that “no one should ever hurt a Brahmin”.

69. Buddha rated service to Brahmana at par with serving the parents. (atho brahmannata sukha; Dhammapada, 332).

70. Some translations give meaning of this verse (atho brahmannata sukha; Dhammapada, 332) as ―it is a blessing to be a brhamana.

71. The hereditary caste system did not exist at the time of Buddha, otherwise he must have condemned it.

72. Later Buddhists too supported the varna system, yet they claimed that Kshatriya was highest varna & Brahmana was below that (Basham:139).

73. In Jataka Kathas, written by Buddhist monks, Buddha (Bodhisattva) was almost always born in either a brahmana family or a kshatriya family.

74. Let me bring out the absence of Caste in Post-Vedic Ancient Period.

75. Tenth century Jain poet and historian Pushpadant in his Mahapurana says that there were four varnas during his times (10th century AD),

76. which were not based on birth, but on the duty one performed in his life.

77. Basham noted that Huen Tsang in the 7th century was well aware of the four varnas, and also mentioned many mixed varnas by marriage.

78. It however did not affect the varna system for none inherited a varna by birth. Neither was there a compusion to die in a varna.

79. A person taken on a varna on his mental inclination but wud’nt change it for the fun of it. He can abandon it for non-varna by assuming sanyasa.

80. Al-Biruni did not get three or four thousand castes in India in c. 1000 A.D., but found only four varnas.

81. VarNa classification did not apply to children, widows & sanyasis. So majority were outside varNa dharma in our system.

82. Impact of one’s varNa on society happens only when the person has a role to play such as profession or productive family role.

83. Children, students, widows, retirees, ascetics do not have productive role in society so varNa dharma cannot apply to them. They form majority.

84. Varna dharma apply only to householder who is called Grihastha. So focus of varna dharma is Grihasthasrama dharma.

85. Though kanchi Sankaracharya, Baba ramdev & Swami Vivekananda have no varNa. casteists brand them as Brahmin, Yadhav & Kayastha respectively.

86. Al Bruni said a 1000 years ago that he found no evidence of endogamy, the key component of caste.

87. Arthasasthra clearly states even a Shudhra cannot b made a slave. Human chattel was a key component of western caste system.

88. Megasthanes declared there were no slaves in India.

89. Slave trade started only in the 13th century after Turko-Afghan occupation of India.

90. Slave markets in Delhi appeared from the accounts of Barnani which is as recent occurance by alien occupiers & not indigenous.

91. Absence of slaves, rudimentary market economy & freedom of movement of people in India indicate far advanced economic system vs feudal west.

92. Thus contrary to allegation and propaganda Medieval Hindustan was egalitarian.

93. All classes had lived respecting each other. If any author had made disparaging remarks, it wont indicate social trend but of individual.

94. Those remarks of ill-will between different classes may as well be lated day insertions of wicked persons.

95. In fact slave trade started in India only after Turko-Afghan occupation of India.

96. And for the first time in 13th century, slave markets at Delhi appears from the accounts of Barani.

97. It may be understood that original Indian population must have consisted of innumerable tribes based on territoriality.

98. As civilization evolved, tribes were drawn into larger regional civilizations (like Mehrgarh or Harappa).

99. It was only after a level of civilization had been achieved, that people were considered as classes. Vedas mention these classes.

100. The oldest verses of Rig-Veda mention only two classes, brahmana and rajanya (or kshatriya).

101. The other two (vaishya and shudra) appear only in the last mandal, ie Mandala 10.

102. This indicates that these latter classes were products of increasing civilizational complexity in production, industry and trade.

103. If we accept Vedic timeline of Kazanas, the shudra varna (not caste) became prominent during Indus Civilization according to Premendra Priyadharshi.

104. Appearance of Vaishya & Sudhra correspond to the period of Atharvana Veda (Premendra Priyadharshi)

105. Although varnas were only few, Vedas always mentioned a large number of vedic tribes(called jana) like Kuru, Puru, Bharata, Panchala etc.

106. These tribes had local territories of origin. Each tribe later developed its brahmana, khshatriya & other classes depending on profession.

107. Vedic values laid stress on forgetting inter-tribal (or inter-jana) rivalry, and encouraged gotra-exogamy.

108. Gotra-exogamy led to establishing inter-jana relationships, and a stronger feeling of Indian identity.

109. Gotra-exogamy lead to weakening of jana identity or tribal identity, until advent of Islam.

110. Islam terminated the Vedic customs in India and the beginning of endogamy (marriage within group) the main feature of caste.

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