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Decoding Varna Order of Hindus!

The values of Varn-Ashrama Vyavastha are based on perceived unity of divinity in macrocosm and microcosm

Yajvan
Itihaas, the ‘history’ of tradition is different from gross materialist conception of ‘History’ of the West. The difference is that of approach; while the former gives preponderance to values which are non-sectarian, hierarchical, natural-local yet universally moral and ethical, the latter is primarily materialistic power - greed based clannish-sectarian social conventions sanctioned by revealed religious commandments and expanded globally through enticement or fear. According to this dominant historical narrative, the dharmic tradition appears as a record of decline of values and resultant effect on the people.

To comprehend why Varna-is a more accommodating system, we need to understand the conception of cosmogony behind this all. The values of Varn-Ashrama Vyavastha are based on perceived unity of divinity in macrocosm and microcosm. There is a deep appreciation of all pervading sacredness of existence and that is the crux of dharma. This grasp has its foundation in super consciousness experience, enshrined in the Veda.

The movement of cosmos visible in the sun, moon, planets, stars, and constellation is divine; seasons, flora fauna, rivers, oceans, mountains the whole earth possess divine attributes or powers and follow it. Man with all his faculties like wisdom, intellect, emotion-feelings and body, knowing or unknowingly follow the same scheme of cosmic movement and thus is also divine.

This conception of sacredness of universe has lent a deep sense of responsibility to dharmic philosophy. It has also instilled a spirit of renunciation as greedy consumption is thought to be rooted in ignorance.  Thus top order of Vyavastha is encapsulated in Varna, one who is head of the Purusha (Supreme Being), the all pervading spirit. It is advisable to take a cursory survey of conduct rules of Brahmana complied in smritis of Manu, Yajnavalkya, Parashar, Narad etc.

The severity and austere conduct laid down for them is most difficult one and it was practiced till early 20th century, Like Brahman is not expected to earn livelihood except dakshina of Yajna, Upasana and imparting Siksha. The most revered Brahmans collect food from grains scattered in field after the crop is taken home by farmers. He is not expected store grains in house. He cannot take dakshina from varna-bahya people and persons of unethical conduct. He is expected to live such life while following a most demanding schedule of Trikala Sandhya, Agnihotra and Vedic recitation. He has to live a pious life dependent upon society. No wonder the Varna conduct rules are lax as we go down in hierarchy and punishments being more physical and corporeal appear more harsh. These rules were in force till the Gupta period and were followed in varying degrees till modern education and British judicial model replaced all. The disruption and decline of Varna order and our acceptance of its shallow interpretations lead us to sorry situation of today.

The Ashrama order gave individual members of Jati, a route to fulfil his personal psychological, emotional and spiritual yearning in accordance of Varna Vyavastha. Brahmacharya Ashrama is for character building and carrying forward of knowledge base. The Grihastha stage is for procreation and fulfilling duties towards other Ashrama and Varnas. Vanprastha is for meditation and practicing detachment. The fourth Sannyasa stage is of complete detachment from worldly affairs and total alignment and surrender to the supreme reality. Now, if we go by popular Marxist class hypothesis, Brahmans should device rules for maximum material benefit and earthly enjoyments but here the reality is totally different. Only Brahmans are eligible for severe Sannyasa life, Kshatriya can go upto Vanprastha and these stages have no gain attached in terms of material or social advancements. The Vaisya or Shudra can live all their life in Grihastha life after Brahmacharya. They can attain Mukti through Bhakti, the way of devotion and love for the God.
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