Varna : In My View

October 12, 2019   

In my 6th or 7th grade (if I remember correctly), during a history lecture (as it should be), I publically (along with my class) came across the concept of Caste System in India. It said that it is comprised of 4 different types, namely:

  1. Brahmins
  2. Kshatriyas
  3. Vaishyas and
  4. Shudras

We were, I’m not quiet sure of what to call it, taught or told, of their definitions as well but I still remember that I scored around as high as 60 for 100 in History (Pun intented) for a reason. I had to lose those 40 marks somewhere, ain’t it? :-P. In fact, I’m actually grateful to my brain for helping me score at least that in that subject.

Fast forward to the year 2005, months around April - May, post the results of JEE exam. I remember, I didn’t even check my result, my college principal did and informed me that I didn’t make it through and that I lost in about a mark. Then I heard from somewhere that a friend of mine, belonging to one of those caste based Reserved category had made it through, scoring around half of mine. Being angry, not sure for my failure or his success, I confessed that thought to my (another) friend.

Since years and generations together, the so called upper caste people haven’t even let others try their performance at education. It is to provide opportunity for them as well that this was introduced. The idea was to have certain number of seats reserved for them, so that, basing on the relative performance within themselves (Reserved Category), they were awarded their seats and that their screening cut-offs are not predecided, explained my friend. The first thought that struck me after understanding it, was that I should be grateful to have him my friend for his sensibility, by then itself.

Since then, whenever I come across any topic involving the caste system, I’d go pondering on it. Wondering that, had there ever been any innovation in the ‘history’ of human kind that was intended to harm the human race? Any innovation made, was to improve our living standards and it was few individuals who innovated further with the usage of the same means for completely contradictory purposes. Just like barter system was introduced for making everybody able to enjoy things that they haven’t had until then and then that was introduced into marriages (pun intended!). Then why was this segregation called ‘Varna’ was introduced? Why did this segregation come into picture, though all our biological constituents are insanely same?

Definition of Varna:

a Sanskrit word with several meanings including type, order, colour or class, was used to refer to social classes in Brahminical texts like the Manusmriti.

- Wikipedia

In a nut shell, it means that they are just different shades of the same thing (maybe also of Grey :-P), subtly implying that at the end of the day they all belong to the same thing.

In 2003 when India made it to the finals of the World Cup in Cricket under the official captaincy of Saurav Ganguly, it was told that his secret of being able to do so was dividing the team into 3 categories and delegating his powers of captaincy to his peers like, Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj Singh were made the captains of fielding, Sachin and himself have been the captains deciding the batting order and so with the bowlers. Now, why do you think he has implemented this strategy of segregation if not to enhance efficiency? Does that, in any way, mean that Batsmen are more important than bowlers or bowlers are more important than the fielders or anything combination of them? At the end of the day, it is the Team India that made it, isn’t it?

I also sometimes wonder what is the most important part of a vehicle? Can you imagine what could happen, if the nut that’s holding the wheel of your machine together with the body gives up? At least, what if the tyre itself gives up while you’re having and exciting ride?

A short story at this juncture, about 30-40 yrs ago, a person decided to ride across india, alone, on his motorcycle. He had to get the motorcycle serviced during his ride, when he was somewhere in the interiors of Kerala. He found a mechanic shop and went in. He found the mechanic, servicing a couple of motorcycles, all, with one tool. The rider said, ‘Never mind!’, to that mechanic, came out and starts servicing his motorcycle by himself. The rider when shared this story to others, was asked, why hadn’t he got it serviced by that mechanic? to which he replied, ‘He would for sure service my motorcycle but then I can expect what the condition of my machine would be post service. He just had one tool for every task.’

Isn’t the story implying that, though one tool or an individual could do everything or almost everything, having specialised tools or individuals, would just enhance the efficiency of the work done and improve the performance / life of the work done?

I see that it is for this reason, even us, humans were classified / categorised / segregated. People who were acquiring knowledge by research and sharing their knowledge were made a group and named as Brahmins. Those who were guarding and administering the welfare of all others were named as Kshatriyas, those who performed trading were termed as Vaishyas including the agriculturists and farmers and the ones who offered their services were termed as Shudras. Now, who do you think is more important than the other? Aren’t we all interdependant? Then, when dependency is mutual, how come one is at a higher stage in the society to the other?

But I guess the problem must have actually arrived when the descendants of the above segregated groups came into picture and they must have concluded that it is logically obvious to make the descendant of a Brahmin to become a Brahmin, after all, genes would come into the play, wouldn’t they? While their presumption holds good in general, that ain’t only influential factor in the development of mind, is it? If yes, then how come (in recent times), Anand Kumar, a dalit, was able to make it to Cambridge? And, how come the descendant of the head of the first family of Bollywood struggled at the industry?

I see this caste or Varna as a mere ID card. It is just your identity at work showcasing your specialised trade. It is created only to make sure that the right sources are identified for the right job. Apart from which, it is not you.

Couple of years ago, I stumbled upon this thought that every individual has all the four varnas within themselves. At mind, he learns, researches and understands stuff, and that is a Brahmin, he protects himself and his family with his arms at which he is a Kshatriya, at trading his time for resources for living, he is a Vaishya and the part of his body that makes him do all the above and more, his feet, at which he is a Shudra. And today I learnt that, the Rig Veda, one of the four vedas, has a piece of text that acknowledges the above under the title Purusha Sukta

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Conclusively, any segregation in the society ever made was only to improve the efficiency of our living itself not to call ourselves superior to others or feel inferior to others. If even in these times one wants to label individual by Varna or Caste, then label Mr. Anand Kumar, leading trainer of AI, Mr. Andrew NG and all the professors, lecturers and teachers and preachers as Brahmins. The defence system of all the countries as Kshatriyas. The product based companies as Vaishyas and the service based companies as Shudras. After all, that was what the original definition meant. Isn’t it?



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