Saturday, 26 July 2014

is the varna system based on birth ?


 Practical  steps  to  spirituality- section 6 part 96  

The  Gita  revisited  

Is  the  varna  system  based  on  birth  ?

             It  is  wrongly  believed  that  Manu  created  the  caste  system. The  Lord  says  in the  Gita  that  He  created  it  ,which  means  it  is  universal. It  only  means  that  wherever  there  are  human  beings  there will  be  these  four  types  :thinkers,  executives  , businessmen  and  labourers . We  have  seen  in the  previous  page  that  when  one's  karma  (  work  or  profession  )  matches   with  one's  gunas  , the  work  turns  out  to  be  successful and  efficient  .

             Seen  from  a  different  angle  , we  find  that  our  past  karmas  and  inclinations  decide  our  parents  and  lineage  we  are born  in. Heredity  and  upbringing  also  have  a role  to  play  in what  we  have  (  guna  )  and  what  we  do  (  karma  )  A  child  born  in a  musician's  family  is  generally  seen  to  have  a  flair  for  music  . Hence  birth  too  becomes  a  secondary  basis  for  the  varna  classification. . However  if  a  child  , even  though   born  in  a  vaishya  family , does  not  show  any  inclination  for  taking up  business  ventures  or  has  any  qualities  of a  true  vaishya  , he  cannot  be  called  a  vaishya  at  all.  It  applies  to  all  varnas also. If  a   child  born  in a  brahmin  family  does  not  exhibit  the  qualities  of a  brahmana   or  takes  to the  profession  of  a  brahmana  , then  he  cannot  be  considered  a  true  brahmana. . Only  guna  and  karma  are  the  primary  criteria  for  classifying  the  varna  system  . 

            A  misunderstanding  and  misuse  of  the  system  has  brought  about  a  lot  of  sufferings  to  all.  Centuries  back,  the  brahmanas  ,who  became  power  hungry  and  greedy  , made  birth  the  basis  of  classification   and  then  exploited   suppressed  and  humiliated  certain  varnas  by  turning them  into  untouchables  and  thus  depriving  them  totally  of  their  right  to  living  with  dignity. Only  a  proper understanding  and  right  application  of  the  system  can  correct  the  wrongs  done  to  many  in the  name  of  the  caste  system  . A  right  understanding  that  when  the  Lord  created  it  , it  was  based  only  on  gunas  and  karmas   and  not  on  birth  , that  the  misuse  of the  system  can  be  corrected  for  the  benefit  of  all  concerned. 

to  be  continued.....

Friday, 25 July 2014

the varna system


Practical steps  to  spirituality section 6 part 96

The  Gita revisited  

The varna system 

                  The term varna means  to describe  . We  often  describe an  object by its  qualities. . The  varna  system  , otherwise  called  the  caste system  , classifies  man  according  to  the  qualities   or  attitude  (  guna  )  of  the  mind   and  karma  (  work  or  profession). Everything  in creation  is  made  up  of  the  permutation and  combination  of the  three  basic  qualities  - sattva, rajas  and  tamas  which  get reflected  as  knowledge,  activity  and  inertia  respectively. . On  the  basis  of  gunas  ,  an  individual  could  be  a  brahmana,  a  kshatriya  , a  vaishya  or a  sudra. A brahmana  is  predominantly  sattvik, backed  by  little  rajas  and  very little  tamas. and  is  highly  selfless..He is peace loving , knowledge oriented self controlled  and  so  on.    A kshatriya  is  predominantly  rajasic  , with  little  sattva  and  very  little  tamas  and  is  fairly  selfless.  He  is  dynamic  fearless  and  is  a  good  leader.  A  vaishya  on the  other  hand  is  fairly  selfish  with  a  high degree  of  rajas  , little  tamas  and  very little  sattva. and    he  is  resourceful, active, profit seeking  and  good at  making business  deals. And  lastly  and  a  sudra  for  sure  is  highly self centered  with  lots  of  tamas,  little  rajas  and  very little  sattva. and  is  good  at  becoming a  good  follower  and  helper . 

               Karma  is  the  other factor  based  on which  the  four varnas  are  also  classified. . The  brahmanas  are thinkers  , philosophers  , planners , policy  makers , teachers  and  so  on.  The  kshatriyas  are  the leaders  , rulers,  law enforcers  , defenders  of a  country  , social workers and  so on. and  they  are  the  ones that get things  done. . The  vaishyas  are the  ones  who  mobilise  resources, create  wealth  ,produce  goods  , trade  and  transact. ,  while  the  sudras  are  those  who  serve  , do all  the  running  around  , the  labourers  and  artisans  . For  the  success  of  a  company  or  organisation  , a  family  ,  society  or  nation  all  the  four  types  of  people  are  needed.  The  world  over  , we  find  these  four  classifications of  people  , for  are there not thinkers, leaders, business  minds  and  labourers  wherever  we  go  ?

                There  is a  co-relation  between  gunas  and  karma  . Everyone  cannot  do  everything  but  everyone  is  capable  of  doing  something. . So  it  becomes  logical  that  a  person  should  take  up a  work  or  profession  he  is  good  at   and  efficient. . When  people  take  up  a  profession   (  karma  ) according  to  their mental  attitudes or  qualities  (  gunas), they  do  that  work  happily  and  joyfully  and  the  net result  is  better  performance  at  the  workplace. If  the  karmas  do not  match  the  gunas  , that  is,  when  a person  takes up a  profession  not  according  to  his  own  quality  of  mind  , there  happens  a  mass-match,and  the  work  becomes  tiresome,  boring  and   a  drudgery  and  there  would  be  a  lot  of  hypocrisy  , tension  and  frustration  in the  individual's  mind. . In  modern  times  we  do  see  students  taking  up  courses  for  which  they  have  no  inclination  but  they  are  forced  by  parents  or  peer pressure  to  become  engineers  or  doctors  and  when  they  start  practicing  as a  doctor or  work  as  an  engineer  , we  can  see  how  unhappy  they  are  in the  workplace  and   repent   all their  for  their  past   wrong  decisions.  

to  be  continued....

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Dharma -a deeper understanding


Practical  steps  to spirituality- section 6 part 95 

The  Gita revisited 

Dharma  - a deeper  understanding 

                        Dharma  is not just telling the  truth  , or leading a righteous or  virtuous  life , it is something more than that. . Lord Krishna  tells  Arjuna  in  the  Kurukshetra war , that  dharma  cannot  be  static  . It  changes  from  person  to  person  and  even  in an  individual  ,it  changes  from  time  to  time  in accordance  with  the  circumstances. . In  the  Mahabharata  , we  find  that  while  Druapadi  was  being disrobed  , Yudhistir  kept  quiet  because  he  was  bound  by  his  own  individual  dharma  of  not  protesting  now  as  he  had  already  agreed  to  abide  by the  rules  of the  game  of dice. The  other  husbands  of  Druapadi  too  kept  silent  while  she  was  being  disrobed  , because  they  too  thought  that  it  was  their  dharma  not to go against  their  brother . The  elders  in the  assembly   too  kept  silent  without raising  their  protest  as  they    (  Bhisma,  Drona  and  others ) too were  bound by their own  individual  dharmas  to  agree  to what ever  the  king did  or  said. If  only  one  of them  realised  that  there  was  a  greater  dharma   for them  to  follow up  than  just  following  their  own  individual  dharmas , all  the  insult  and  injustice  that  happened  to  Druapadi  would  not have  happened   and  the  Mahabharata  war  would  not  have  occurred  .

                    In  the  Ramayana  , we  find that  Lord  Rama  sent  away  His  wife  Sita , to the  forest  even  when  she  was pregnant  because  He  realised  that   though  being a  good and  protective  husband  was  his  dharma, yet  He  had a  greater  dharma  to  see  himself  as  a  king  and  not just  as  a  husband  . The  king's  duties  and  responsibilities  were  to  please  his  subjects  and  do  what they  wanted  him to  do   and  the  people  of Ayodhya  were  against  the  king keeping  Sita  in the  palace  as  they  considered  her  impure  because  she was  abducted  by Ravana  and that  keeping her in the  palace  would become a bad precedent  for  others. . Lord  Rama  hence  realised  that His  greater  dharma  was  to  do  what  the subjects  wanted  Him to  do.    though  it gave  Him great grief  to send Sita to the  forest  . We  all  know  that  the  Lord  thereafter  lived the  life  of a  sannyasi  being separated  from Sita  ,yet  carrying out all  his  duties  as  a  king  and  went  on to  establish  Ramrajya  in His  kingdom  where  all  were  prosperous  , happy  and  peaceful. 

             A  Vivekananda,  a  Ramakrishna  ,  a Chinmayananda  ,  a  Sankara  too  had  their  own  personal   and  family  duties  and  their  own  individual  dharmas. Yet  they  renounced  their own  individual  dharmas  for  the  greatest  dharma  ,that  of  realization  of the  Self  and  thereafter  spread  the  knowledge  of Vedanta  to  mankind  and  helped   others  too to  pursue  their  highest  dharma  . Any  action  can  be  judged  to  be  dharmic  only  if  it is  done  selflessly  and  only when  that action benefits  the  largest  number of people 

to  be  continued....   


Sunday, 13 July 2014

dharma and adharma


Practical  steps  to spirituality- section 6  part 94

 The  Gita revisited  

Dharma  and  adharma  

                         There  can  be  many definitions  for  dharma  and  adharma. They all will  depend  from  what  perspective  we  view  them  .Some  consider  dharma  as  that  which supports, integrates  ,unites  , harmonises  the  individual  and  the  society. . Love  unites  people  hence   love  is  dharma  while  hate  creates  conflicts  ,hence  adharma. . Dharma  brings  about   an  integration  of  our  thought, word  and  deed  , when   there is  an  imbalance  between  one's  thoughts, words  and  deeds  it  is adharma.  Dharma  harmonises  relationships  ,  balances  power  ,nurtures  growth  and  progress  and  creates  peace  and  prosperity  among  societies  ,  nations  and  so  on. . Adharma  on the  other hand  creates  war  and  destruction  and  divides  people. 

                         Looked  at  from  a  different  angle , dharma  can  be  defined   as  the  inherent  nature  of  a  thing  without  which  that  thing  cannot  exist ,  for  example  the  heat  of  the  fire. So  to  abide  in  one's  own  true  nature  of  Sat- Chit- Ananda  is  the  highest  dharma  but  to  be  away  from  one's  true  nature  is  adharma. . To  lead  one's life  intelligently  and  be  humane  by  living  life  with  virtues   is  dharma  ,while  to  be  inhuman  and  lead  a  thoughtless  life  is  adharma. 

                        Dharmas  can  also  be  considered  as  laws  given  out  by  nature,  government  and  societies. and  they  get  expressed  as   laws  of  nature  ,   scriptural  injunctions  , governmental  laws  , professional  ethics  and  social  norms  and  morals  . To  follow  them  is  dharma  and  to  disobey  them  is  adharma. . Living  a  dharmic  way  of  life  brings  about  material  prosperity  as  well  as  spiritual  unfoldment. . When  there  is  an  imbalance between  the  two  it  causes  adharma  

                    Adarma increases  when  people  come  to  have  no respect  for  the  scriptures,  when  material  gains  are  given  importance  over  spiritual  growth, when  very  few  follow  the  righteous   ways  of  living  , when  individuals   fail  to  carry  out  their  duties  and    have  no  value  for   adhering  to values   . In  such a  scenario  , adharma  reins  supreme  causing  conflicts  and  destruction  both  at  the  personal  as well  as  the  social and  national  levels.  . It  then  becomes  necessary  for  the  Lord  to  incarnate  to  destroy  adharma  and  establish  dharma  on  earth. 

to  be  continued....

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

the best form to worship


Practical  steps  to  spirituality-  section  6 part 93

The  Gita  revisited  

Which  is  the  best  form   to  worship  ? . 

                         We  all  know  that  Hinduism  allows  the  devotees  to  choose  and  worship  their  own  Ishta  devata  according  to  their  own  inclinations  , faith. and  mental  aptitudes . Lord  Krishna  says  that  in  whatever  form  or  manner    a  devotee  worships   , he  worships  the  Lord  only. and  the  Lord  responds  to  them  accordingly  . Everyone  in  all  circumstances  follows'  My ' path  only  says  the  Lord.

                          There  are  four  kinds  of  devotees. and  they  are  the  aartha  ,  the  artharthi  , the  jigyasu  and  the  jnani. . The  one   who   prays  to  God  when  he  faces  tough  situations  in  life  and  wants  to  find  relief  from  problems    , the  second  prays  to  God  for  the  attainment  and  fulfilment  of  his  desires  for  wealth  and  material  things,  the  third   the  jigyasu  searching   for  knowledge  about  God   and  the  last  is  the  jnani  whose  mind  is  totally  absorbed  in  God  . The  Lord  says  whatever  be  the  purpose  of  worship  of  the  Lord   by  a  bhakta,  the  Lord  accepts   and  reciprocates  in  the  same way. People in the  material  world  ,who desire  material  success  perform  sacrifices  in  worship  of  the  gods  . They  would  surely  see  the  results  of  such  ritualistic  acts  in  this  world. 

                        Some  follow  the  path  of  devotion  , some  others  the  path  of  knowledge  ,  some  seek  Him  for  material  gains  ,  some  for  spiritual  gains  . The  Lord  blesses  all  in  accordance  with  their  desires  ,encouraging  them  to  grow  in  their  faith. The  Lord  alone  is  in  all  the  forms  and  He  alone  is  attained  through  whatever  be .the  kind  of  worship.Ultimately  all  seek  Him  alone  through  different  paths  even  as  all  roads  lead  to  Rome  .All  seek  happiness  and  the  Lord     is the very  abode  of  Bliss  and  hence  we  are  indeed  seeking  Him  alone. 

to  be  continued....