26 April 2009

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Understand; Know The Truth and Story Behind Varna And Caste System:

Understand; Know The Truth and Story Behind Varna And Caste System:

One of our readers Kiran has posted, written article about caste system saying British people created caste system this is totally wrong

Let’s understand the caste system and Varna:

The Manu Smriti is said to be divine in its origin.
It is said to be revealed to Man by Manu to whom it was revealed by the Swayambhu (i.e. the Creator).

It is surprising that nobody has cared to examine the grounds
Of such a claim. The result is that there is a complete failure to realize the
Significance, place and position of the Manu Smriti in the history of India.

Brahmanism may be catalogued under seven heads

(1) It established the Right of the Brahmin to rule and commit regicide.

(2) It made the Brahmins a Class of privileged persons.

(3) It converted the Varna into caste.

(4) It brought About a conflict and anti-social feeling between the different castes.

(5) It Degraded the Shudras and the women

(6) it forged the system of graded Inequality

(7) it made legal and rigid the social system which was Conventional and flexible.

Manu called the Brahmins the 'lords of
The earth' and he framed (the law) with such care that they shall remain so.

Having made full provision for Brahmin Rule and Brahmin dominance
We have a lot of confused thinking on the relation
Between Varna and Caste.
Some think that Varna and Caste are the same.Those who think that they are different seem to believe that Varna became
Caste when prohibition on intermarriage became part of the social order.

The fact that Manu in transforming the Varna into Caste has nowhere explained his ends and how his means are related to those ends.

Now let me clear the confusion between Varna and Caste.Varna and Caste are Identical in their de jure connotation.
Both connote status and occupation.
Status and occupation are the two concepts which are implied both in the
Notion Varna as well as in the notion of Caste.
Varna and Caste however Differ in one important particular.

Varna is not hereditary either in status or Occupation.
On the other hand Caste implies a system in which status and
Occupations are hereditary and descend from father to son.

In the beginning, the task of determining Varna of a person was
effected by a body of officers called Manu and Sapta Rishis.

From the mass Of people Manu selected those who were fit to be Kshatriyas and Vaishas and
The Sapta Rishis selected those who were fit to be Brahmins.
After this Selection was made by Manu and Sapta Rishis for being Brahmins,
Kshatriyas, Vaishas, the rest that were not selected were called Shudras.

The Varna arrangement so determined lasts for one Yug i.e. A period of four
Every fourth year a new body of officers known by the same
Designation Manu and Sapta Rishi were appointed for making a new Selection.

It happened that last time some of those who were left to be fit only
For being Shudras were selected for being Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas
While some of those who were, elected last time for being Brahmins,
Kshatriyas and Vaishyas were left as being fit only of being Shudras.

Thus the Personnel of the Varna changed.
It was a sort of a periodical shuffling and Selection of men to take up according to their mental and physical aptitudes And occupations which were essential to the life of the community.

The time when the reshuffling of the Varnas took place was called Manwantar which
Etymologically means change of Varna made by Manu.
The word Manwantar Also means the period for which the Varna of an individual was fixed.

The Word Manwantar is very rich in its contents and expresses the essential
Elements of the Varna system which were two.
First it shows that Varna was Determined by an independent body of people called Manu and Saptarshi.
Secondly it shows that the Varna was for a period after which a change was
made by Manu.
According to ancient tradition as embodied in the Puranas the
period for which the Varna of a person was fixed by Manu and Saptarshi was
a period of four years and was called Yug.

At the end of the period of four years there occurred the Manwantar whereby every fourth year the list was revised. Under the revision some changed their old Varna, some retained it,
some lost it and some gained it.

The original system seems to have in contemplation the determination of
the Varna of adults.
It was not based on prior training or close scrutiny of bias and aptitude. Manu and Saptarshi was a sort of a Board of Interview which determined the Varna of a person from how he struck them at the interview.

The determination of the Varna was done in a rough and tumble manner. This
system seems to have gone into abeyance.

Now came the second stage , A new system grew up in its
place. It was known as the Gurukul system.

The Gurukul was a school maintained by a Guru (teacher) also called Zachary (learned man).
All children went to this Gurukul for their education.

The period of education extended for twelve years.
The child while at Gurukul was known as Bramhachari.

After the period of education was over there was the Upanayan ceremony performed at the Gurukul by the Acharya.

The Upanayan ceremony was the most important ceremony. It was a ceremony at which the Acharya determined the Varna of the student and sent him out in the world to perform
the duties of that Varna.

Upanayan by the Acharyas was the new method of determining Varna which came into vogue in place of method of determination by Manu and Saptarshi. The new method was undoubtedly superior to the old method.

It retained the true feature of the old method namely that the Varna
should be determined by a disinterested and independent body.

But it added a new feature namely training as a pre-requisite for assignment of Varna.

On the ground that training alone developes individual in the make up of a person
and the only safe way to determine the Varna of a person is to know his
individuality, the addition of this new feature was undoubtedly a great

With the introduction of the Acharya Gurukul system, the duration of the
Varna came to be altered.
Varna instead of being Varna for a period became Varna for life.
But it was not hereditary.
Evidently Brahmanism was dissatisfied with this system.

The reason for dissatisfaction was quite obvious.
Under the system as prevalent there was every chance of the Acharya declaring the child of a Brahmin as fit only to be a Shudra.

Brahmanism was naturally most anxious to avoid this result.

It wanted the Varna to be hereditary.
Only by making the Varna hereditary could it saves the children of the Brahmins from being declared Shudra.

Now the 3rd most important change :Brahmanism made three most radical changes in the system of determing the Varna of the child. In the first place the system of Gurukul as the place where training to the child was given and its Varna was determined by the Guru at the end of the period of training was abolished.

In place of the Guru Manu allows the Upanayan of the child to be performed by its father at home. Secondly Upanayan was made into a Sanskara i.e. a sacrament. In olden times Upanayan was like a convocation ceremony held by the Guru to confer degrees obtained by
students in his Gurukul in which certificates of proficiency in the duties of a
particular Varna were granted.

In Manu's law that Upanayan was a complete.

change in the meaning and purpose of this most important institution. Thirdly
the relation of training to Upanayan was totally reversed. In the olden system
training came before Upanayan.

Under the Brahmanism Upanayan came before training.

Manu directs that a child be sent to the Guru for training but that is after Upanayan i.e. after his
Varna is determined by his father.

The principal change made by Brahmanism was the transfer of authority
from the Guru to the father in the matter of performing Upanayan.

The result was that the father having the right to perform the Upanayan of his child gave
his own Varna to the child and thus made it hereditary.
It is by divesting the Guru of his authority to determine the Varna and vesting it in the father that Brahmanism ultimately converted Varna into Caste.

Such is the story of the transformation of Varna into Caste.

the consequences of this transformation of Varna into Caste has to introduce a most pernicious mentality among the Hindus.

It is to disregard merit and have regard only to birth. If one is descended from the high he has respect although he may be utterly devoid of merit or worth.


preposterous girl April 26, 2009  

nice piece of information..I din't knew the difference between varna and castes and how the system changed..
Keep up the good work!

sm,  April 26, 2009  

preposterous girl ty for reading it this system is older than Mahabharat and Ramaya there you can see gurukul system,the 2nd stage

sm,  April 27, 2009  

i voted for you .

Indian Home Maker August 01, 2009  

I feel the system of grading and categorising people was wrong even then, and the present form is of course obnoxious.
Always a pleasure to read such articles here.
:) You are doing a great job sm!

sm,  August 01, 2009  

IHM thanks

Anonymous,  April 15, 2010  

It is totally wrong to say Manusmriti of Divine origin. This is a man-made scripture & actually against the teachings of Vedas.

Unknown May 15, 2010  

Dear SM, your mind is library , lots of information.Very nice one.From yesterday i have been reading ur articles in this blog. really gaining lots of knowledge.Thanks for the post.

sm,  May 15, 2010  

Keep Reading .

sm,  May 16, 2010