Lord Krishn sings in Chapter Four, Verse Thirteen of Bhagavad Gita :
cāturvarṇyam mayā sṛṣṭam
tasya kartāram api mām
viddhy akartāram avyayam
“Although I have created the four classes (varn)-Brahmin, Kshatriy, Vaishy and Shudr-according to innate properties and actions, know me the immutable as a non-doer.’’
Lord Krishn represents himself as the maker of the four classes.
Does it mean that he has divided men into four rigid categories determined by birth?
The truth is rather that he has divided actions into four classes on the basis of inherent properties. All the same, as he tells Arjun, he-the imperishable God-is a non-agent and should be known as such. The innate property (gun) of a being or of a thing is a measure, a yardstick. If the dominant property is that of ignorance or darkness (tamas), it will result in an irresistible inclination to laziness, excessive sleep, wantonness, aversion to work, and compulsive addiction to evil in spite of the realization that it is evil.
How can worship commence in such a state?
We sit and worship for two hours and we try to do it with the utmost earnestness, and yet we fail to secure even ten minutes that are truly propitious. The body is still and quiet, but the mind which should be really quiet soars aloft weaving webs of fancies. Waves upon waves of speculation toss it. Then why do we sit idly in the name of meditation and waste time? The only remedy at this stage is it dedicate ourselves to the service of wise men who dwell in the unmanifest and of those who have gone ahead of us on the path.
This will subdue negative impressions and strengthen thoughts that are conducive to worship.
Gradually, with the diminishing of forces of darkness and ignorance, there is the growing sway of the quality of rajas, and a partial awakening of the property of good and moral virtue (sattwa) as well, because of which the worshiper’s ability is elevated to the Vaishy level.
Then the same worshiper begins spontaneously to imbibe qualities such as control of the senses and to accumulate other virtuous impulses. Proceeding further on the path of action, he is endowed with the wealth of righteousness. The property of rajas now grows faint and tamas is dormant. At this stage of development the worshiper steps on to the Kshatriy level.
Prowess, the ability to be immersed in action, unwillingness to retreat, mastery over feelings, the capacity to carve his way through the three properties of nature-are now the inherent features of the worshiper’s disposition.
With yet further refinement of action, sattwa makes its approach, at which there is the evolution of virtues such as
control of the mind and senses, concentration, innocence, contemplation and abstract meditation, and faith as well the capacity to hear the voice of God-all qualities that provide access to Him. With the emergence of these qualities the worshiper comes to belong to the Brahmin level.
This, however, is the lowest stage of worship at this level. When ultimately the worshipper is united with God, at that point-the highest point-he is neither a Brahmin, nor a Kshatriy, nor a Vaishy, nor a Shudr. So worship of God is the only action-the ordained action.
And it is this one action that is divided into four stages according to the motivating properties. The division was made, as we have seen, by a saint—by a Yogeshwar. A sage dwelling in the unmanifest was the maker of this division.
Yet Lord Krishn tells Arjun to regard him, the indestructible and maker of varn, as a non-doer.
Lord Krishn declares in Chapter Sixteen, Verse Six of Bhagavad Gita:
dvau bhūtasargau loke’smindaiva āsura eva ca
daivo vistaraśaḥ prokta āsuraṁ pārtha me śṛṇu
“There are in the world, O Parth, two kinds of beings, the pious, on whom I have already dwelt at length, and the devilish of whom you will now hear from me.”
There are in the world two kinds of men, godlike and demon-like. When sacred impulses are active within the heart, man is godlike; but he turns devilish if he is rife with demoniacal inclinations. Whether born in Arabia or Australia or anywhere else, people all over the world are divided into only these two classes.
“Varn” denotes “form”. A man’s form is not his body but his inborn disposition. Sri Krishn tells Arjun in the third verse of Chapter 17:
”Since the faith of all men, O Bharat, is according to their inherent propensity and man is essentially reverent, he is what his faith is.”
Every man’s character is moulded by his faith and the faith is according to his dominant property. Varn is thus a scale, a yardstick, to measure one’s capacity for action. But with the passing of time we either grew oblivious of or discarded the appointed action, began to decide social status by heredity-thus treating varn as caste, and laid down rigid occupations and modes of living for different men. This is social classification, whereas the classification made in the Bhagavad Gita is spiritual.
Moreover, they who have thus twisted the meaning of varn have also distorted the implications of action. With the passage of time, thus, varn came to be determined by birth alone. But the Gita makes no such provision.
Lord Krishn says that he was the creator of the fourfold varn. Are we to assume from this that there was creation within the boundaries of India alone, for castes such as ours cannot be found anywhere else in the world?
The number of our castes and subcastes is beyond counting. Does this mean that Sri Krishn had divided men into classes?
The definitive answer to this is found in the thirteenth verse of Chapter 4, where, he declares:
‘‘I have created the four classes (varn) according to innate properties and action.”
So he has classified action, not men, on the basis of inherent properties. The meaning of varn will be understood without difficulty if we have grasped the significance of action which is nothing but true worshiping of single God as per core teachings of Bhagavad Gita.
~ As expounded by most revered Gurudev
Swami Adgadanand Jee Paramhans ~
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