“Varnashrama Dharma” is a basic structure of Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma. We find “Varnashrama Dharma” elaborated starting from Vedas to Upanishads to Puranas to Lok-Kathas. The first law giver of the world (Manu) defined Varnashrama Dharma in Manusmriti.
Lord has also defined Varnashrama Dharma in Bhagwat Gita during His instructions to his friend and devotee Arjuna. Both Bhagavat Gita and Manusmriti divided the society in to 4 varnas.
Lord says in Bhagavat Gita (4-13) :chātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛiṣhṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśhaḥ
tasya kartāram api māṁ viddhyakartāram avyayam
The four categories of occupations were created by me according to people’s (Guna)qualities and (Karma)activities. Although I am the creator of this system, know me to be the non-doer and eternal. The word “guna” may mean “quality” or “skill” or “interest” or “passion”.
According to Manu, learning Vedas, teaching of Vedas, conducting yagnas is the job of a Brahmana. Keeping the society safe is the job of Kshatriyas. Doing trade and commerce is the job of a Vaishya. Providing service to others is the job of a Shudra.
As we can see definition of Varna in Bhagwat Gita and Manusmriti are consistent.
Let me give few instances of Varnashrama Dharma:
- I know of a person who owns company which does Solid Waste management for multiple municipal corporations. He is an entrepreneur and chose the profession of his free will. He belongs to Shudra varna even if his father is a priest.
- I know of another person who runs a security agency to provide security to vital institutions. He belongs to Kshatriya varna irrespective of what his parents did.
- Maharshi Vlamiki belongs to Brahmana varna even if his parents belonged to Shudra Varna.
In nutshell in a Varna System, the profession/job/karma is not tied to family only. One may choose a profession/job/karma which his/her parents did. But no one is restricted to choose a profession/job/karma different from his/her parents.
Let’s come to the “JATI SYSTEM”. Jati comes from work “Jat” which means where one was born. That means my profession/job/karma will be determined by my Birth not based on my talent/interest/passion. No other person has the right to pick up my profession, only my Child will do that job.
In other words "JATI SYSTEM" is a degenerated form of the noble "VARNA SYSTEM"
Lets do a comparison between both systems:
- Varna system gives me the freedom to choose any profession/job/karma. But Jati system ties me to the profession/job/karma which my ancestors did.
- Since Varna system allows new entrants to enter a profession, it results to innovation. But in the Jati system the profession is tied to lineage, it kills innovation. In the example I gave above, waste management would have been done in the same old way if entrepreneurs have not invested in waste management and picking up a Shudra varna.
- Since Jati system doesn’t allow people to change professions it results to cartelization. For e.g. carpenters/blacksmiths/barbers in a society may form a cartel and don’t allow new entrants to the business.
- The Varna system results to the formation of a free capitalist society but the Jati system results to the formation of a Plutocratic society.
- Jati System results to corruption as the cartels prevent the entry of new players by bribing the rulers. For e.g. in Syria, no one is allowed to enter the telecom business which is controlled one of president’s relative.
- IT is perfectly okay if a child picks up his/her dad’s/mom’s profession. But it is not okay if other’s kid is disallowed to pick up the profession/business I am doing.
When Hindus followed the Varna system as instructed by Lord or Manu, India was a Vishwaguru. But as the varna system degenerated to the Jati system, Hindus became weak and were eventually colonialized.
Vajpayee’s father was a teacher and hence belonged to Brahmana Varna. Since he could chose “Kshatriya Varna”, India got a legendary PM.
Modiji’s father had chosen Vaishya Varna, but Modiji chose Kshatriya Varna. And people know of Modiji’s contribution to India. If Modiji would not have been allowed to adopt Kshatriya varna, India would have lost another legendary PM.
Shiv Nadar was born to a Dalit father. He is the founder of Hindustan Computers Limited (HCL). Had he been tied to his Jati and not chosen “Vaishya” varna, India would have missed a jewel in form of HCL.
Hence, we need to go back to the Varna system and follow the Varnashrama Dharma in letter and spirit.
DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.