Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Varna system 2: Caste coding : Mahabharat Era

Q:- How are the codes different for these four Varnas?
A:- Here is a list of attributes for each of the Varnas.

Role: Teach Vedas, officiate religious ceremonies, receive charity, and provide advice to kings
Beliefs: Truth, Ahimsa, Purity, contentment, austerity and simplicity
Eating Habits: Vegetarian
Mark: Sacred thread made of munja grass
Demigods worshipped: Agni, Prajapati & Brahaspati

Role: Wield weapons protect and administer the people and country.
Beliefs: Valor, passion, fights righteous wars, justice, and courage.
Eating Habits: Rajasika food including meat
Mark: Sacred thread made of bow strings
Demigods worshipped: Indra, Varuna, Soma, Rudra, Yama and Mrtyu
Role: Agriculture, dairy farming, trade, money-lending.
Beliefs: Financial acumen, generosity, honesty in financial transactions.
Eating Habits: Vegetarian
Mark: Sacred thread made of hemp or wool
Demigods worshipped: Vasu Aditya Maruti

Role: labour.
Beliefs: Attachment to material and physical pleasures.
Eating Habits: Non-vegetarian Rajasika foods including meat
Mark: No Sacred thread
Demigods worshipped: Ashivn Pushan

Q:-But how and who monitors this Varna or Jaati (Caste)?
A:-A Varna council settles disputes on inter-caste issues. Caste is determined by their birth but it is only a family identity. The Varna council endorses the true Varna after the completion of education at the age of fifteen based on certain proficiency tests that assess the suitability of every person to a specific profession.

Every male in the kingdom of Krishna belongs to a designated Varna from ages fifteen to sixty. At sixty, their occupation comes to an end and thereafter they can opt for vanprastha. No Varna applies to individuals after turning sixty. Moreover, in this kingdom, there is no Varna for women and children.

Their caste is determined by their parent’s caste. If any inter-caste marriage occurs then, we have a mixed caste category; in short we have a very flexible caste system.There used to be an armband which identifies the Varna and Jathi. The metal and colour of the armband is different for every Jathi.

Q:-What about‘Inter caste marriage’ in the ancient India?
A:-Today we find men of the so called lower castes ascending to positions of eminence and authority. Only three of the Vishnu’s incarnations come from the so called high caste; most of his incarnations are even animal incarnations. God does not discriminate between his own creations. Many ancient sages come from humble background as well.

Sage Viswamitra – a warrior by birth practiced austerities like a Brahmin and was recognized as a great rishi. Sage Vysyawas born to a fisher woman, Rishi, and Valmiki the original composer of Ramayana came from a family of hunters. Drona, the great guru of the Pandavas was a Brahmin by caste but excelled in marital arts.
I can go on citing examples from our rich ancient past. However, lately, the flexible caste system of the past is slowly giving way to a more rigid caste system.

Our Sanatandharma is about setting up an egalitarian society and these man made rules are against the intentions of our dharma.

In short ‘Varna’ is skill driven, ‘Jathi’ is birth driven, Mother’s womb did not fix the occupation in the Mahabharat era. ‘Jathi’, caste is a family identity, that is birth driven. But ‘Varna’ was proficiency driven. Anyone can provide any occupation subject to proficiency tests.

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