Today, I’m going to be speaking on the Varnas in Varna-Ashrama Dharma, or the so-called “Caste System”, which is controversial and drives passions into overdrive. I’d urge that you keep a open mind and not let preconceived notions or for that matter generalizations color your judgement.

I present this to you here, via my website, www.sumirnagar.com. This will also be available in Video format on You Tube and via voice and video Podcast as well. The Spirituality and Beyond Podcast is available via all major Podcast channels such as Apple, Spotify, Breaker and Google.

Before I get right into the matter at hand, I’d like to tell you a little more about Spirituality and Beyond. It is a platform or rather forum, to share information, tips and means to adopt a wholesome and well balanced lifestyle, albeit with a background of spirituality. It is friends, well-wishers and seekers asking me questions about our Culture and our way of life – Sanatan Dharma that encouraged me to carve out time for such projects. Whereas I talk predominantly about Spirituality interspersed with my personal experiences, every once in a while I am driven and motivated to talk about topics such as the one today and I present them via special releases.

So, Varna-Ashrama Dharma is part of Sanatana Dharma, or what is commonly, but ignorantly called Hinduism. “Sanatan” is a balanced way of life and can be adopted by simple and practical steps and methods. The Varnas are but one part of our way of life. A transliteration of Varna is Class or Section, but for some reason this got re-labeled as the “Caste System”.

“Varna-Ashrama Dharma” is Sociology 101, representing the Social Order, but is based on Spiritual Values.

Balance in life and in general is everything, yet, it is probably the most difficult to achieve. The current social and professional fabric, does tend to detract people in general from leading a balanced life. To succeed and even play the game, it has become very necessary to maintain social pretenses and adopt modern social traits which are largely driven by the digital intrusion that is not just at your doorstep but, inside your home, at your fingertips via the mobility devices that you carry around everywhere we go. Not staying on top of digital does expose you to the risk of not being on top of things or then even expose you to the risk of becoming irrelevant. With this kind of pressure we tend to spend far too much time on Social Media to stay relevant and therefore it becomes difficult to remain rooted in our deep, rich culture and traditions. I’m sure the majority of us have experienced this, ie: spending too much time keeping up with Social Media as opposed to spending time to know more about who we are, where we came from, how we can lead effective lives or even something as simple as having real and meaningful relationships.

It is a prevalent, widespread belief overseas and even in modern day India, arising out of created perceptions, that what is labeled as the “Caste” System is bad and evil.

Disclaimer:

I propose (and I am going to be making a series of propositions, observations or for that matter, statements, that may rattle, fire up emotions that may not necessarily be positive. The first proposition is that vested interests have played a large role in providing seed to this line of thinking and to propagate and support such negative thought. I seek to debunk these misconceptions and with that, I come to the topic of controversy, The Varnas in Varna-Ashrama Dharma. I believe that it is essential to put this entire, debate and ill-founded belief to rest, because the misconceptions around the Caste System are steeped in ignorance, lack of authoritative knowledge and a lot of conjunctures.

What is this Caste System all about? What’s all the fuss about? Before I present to you what it really is, let’s talk about what you’d hear from the layperson. In all likelihood you will be told a rather simplistic and short narrative saying that it is about Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras and the definitions will most certainly be as follows, Brahmins are the Priestly Class, Kshatriyas the Ruling Class, Vaisyas the Trading Class and Shudras the Servant Class and that’s pretty much it!!!

There is so much more to know and what we’re told is such a narrow, insignificant, dangerous and divisive interpretation. Why dangerous and divisive? Simply because when facts twisted around or misrepresented often enough, they tend to become a perception and if repeated often enough and goes unchallenged, becomes a convoluted version of the truth. 
So that the right context is set and a well rounded explanation is provided, I’d like to examine this from various angles and therefore I will propose that we look at factors such as, Roles, Responsibilities, Qualities, Attitude and Economic sustainability.

What then is the basis of this Classification? Let’s tell it like it is. There are societies that classify people based on Birth and then there are Societies that classify on the basis of Roles, Duties, Qualifications, Qualities, Attitudes, Abilities and the means adopted to survive and earn a livelihood.

Not just that, I will lay foundations and pillars to support my propositions by relying on Scripture, History, Sociology, Genealogy, Biology and Geo-politics.

You will mostly read or hear about the pecking order commencing with the Brahmins and what I’d like to do is turn this thing around on its head. I’m going to speak about this in contrarian order, so I’m going to go with Shudra – Vaishya – Kshatriya – Brahmin. So sue me, I am not well known for treading the oft-trodden path.

What I also seek to do is draw various parallels from our day to day lives and even look at how this is prevalent in the corporate world, where, like anywhere else, there is always a pecking order.

So there you have it! If you’ve noticed, I’ve replaced Class as opposed to Caste, for in FACT they are nothing but a logical categorization of people into various Classes.

In the next Part in this series I will speak specifically about the classes. To continue reading and know more please click this link : Part 2.

Write in and tell me what you think about this! I can be reached at sumir@sumirnagar.com or you can even leave your comments here.