Rediscover the Wisdom and Traditions of the World!
The Eternal Varna Asrama Dharma – Part 1
I had presented a paper during the WAVES 2011 Conference on Varna, Jati and Kula. I plan to elaborate it with lot more explanations as a series of blogs.
This series does not aim to justify the caste system or the practices of caste system. It is rather a sincere, honest and logical effort to understand the Varna Asrama Dharma and its implications on us.
Varna Asrama Dharma in essence is a socio-economic system that is based on natural principles. It is natural state of existence for happy and prosperous living.
Varna Asrama Dharma can be found in nature in all social living beings. Human beings are no exception to it. The aim of this series is to unravel the meaning and essence of Varna Asrama Dharma and use its principle for a happy living of our future.
What is Varna Asrama Dharma..?
Varna-asrama dharma is an eternal Universal Law of Professional Types. It holds good at all times for all societies. Varna means ‘Cloak or Mask we wear or Paint’. Asrama means ‘Way of Living’. Dharma means ‘An Eternal Law’.
Varna Asrama indicates the cloak /mask/ covering we wear to make a living. It indicates a Professional type. Varna Asrama Dharma means the Eternal Law of Professional types.
In short, according to Varna Asrama Dharma, there are three professional types at all times in all societies. They are Knowledge providers (Brahmanas), Service providers (Kshatriyas) and Goods/Material providers (Vaizyas). These professional types are called Varnas. The three Varnas are based on the three Gunas viz Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas.
A society based on true Varna Asrama Dharma will have only three Varnas (as there are only three Gunas). Sattwa Guna drives the Knowledge Providers (Brahmanas), Rajas drives the Service Providers (Kshatriyas), Tamasa Guna drives the Goods/Material providers (Vaizyas).
But in most societies we see a fourth professional type called Laborers. These Laborers are the Zudras. Typically laborers are those who are valued and used as bio-mass rather than any active contribution to society. They can be mechanized, replaced, automated and made redundant easily.
Can anyone identify JUST ONE modern profession that cannot be mapped to Knowledge Provider, Service Provider, Material/Good provider or Labor..?
A perfect Varna Asrama Dharma society will have no or little Zudras/laborers as they are formed not based on any Guna. A Profession based on a Guna can be acquired, improved and excelled. The Zudra or Laborer profession is neither acquired nor improved. It is in most cases thrusted upon people. None chooses to be a bio-mass. They are forced into being bio-mass of others. Thus Zudras also extend to Cheap Labor, Slave Labor apart from all types of modern Laborers who are given jobs at will and thrown out at will.
It is because a society that has too much Zudras or Laborers cannot sustain economically for long and is bound to suffer. Any society in which a significant population suffers cannot sustain long term. Though it is the Zudras who would suffer, they would ultimately bring down the whole society due to their suffering.
A prosperous society is a society in which Zudras/Laborers are very low in numbers or not present at all.
This is the basic principle of Varna Asrama Dharma.
Etymological analysis of Varna
Varnain essential indicates an external covering or cloak. It is related to the external appearance or ‘depiction’. It gets extended to color, paint etc in this way.
Varna is an ‘external’ cloak worn by human beings to serve the society. It is an external cloak and can be changed over based on the needs of the society. It is a way by which a human being serve the society and make a living.
Thus Varna in economic terms could be mapped to a ‘professional type’.
Etymological analysis of Varna Asrama Dharma
Dharma means that is firmly established, eternal or unchanged. Dharma is often used in vedic and upanishadic literature to indicate the well established, eternal Laws under which the Universe operates and evolves. Everything else in the Universe is subjected to change except the laws of the Universe, which are eternal for the life of the Universe. Hence they are the Dharma of the Universe.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi rightly interprets dharma in this way. Dharma “is that invincible power of nature which upholds existence. It maintains evolution and forms the very basis of cosmic life. It supports all that is helpful for evolution and discourages all that is opposed to it. Dharma is that which promotes worldly prosperity and spiritual freedom”
Asrama means a place of staying, extended to a way of living in a particular stage of life. Varna Asrama means the external way of living (profession). Varna Asrama, which means external way of living, is a dharma in the sense it is firmly established and is eternal in nature like the laws of Universe.
Varna Asrama Dharma means Firmly established way of living or eternal law of professions.