The real greatness of the Indian system of the four varnas


For the real greatness of the Indian system of the four varnas

did not lie in its well-ordered division of economic function;

its true originality and permanent value was in the ethical and

spiritual content which the thinkers and builders of the society

poured into these forms. This inner content started with the

idea that the intellectual, ethical and spiritual growth of the

individual is the central need of the race. Society itself is only the

necessary framework for this growth; it is a system of relations

which provides it with its needed medium, field and conditions

and with a nexus of helpful influences. A secure place had to

be found in the community for the individual man from which

he could at once serve these relations, helping to maintain the

society and pay it his debt of duty and assistance, and proceed

to his own self-development with the best possible aid from the

communal life. Birth was accepted in practice as the first gross

and natural indicator; for heredity to the Indian mind has always

ranked as a factor of the highest importance: it was even taken

in later thought as a sign of the nature and as an index to the

surroundings which the individual had prepared for himself by

his past soul-development in former existences. But birth is not

and cannot be the sole test of Varna. The intellectual capacity

A Rationalistic Critic on Indian Culture – 6 173

of the man, the turn of his temperament, his ethical nature,

his spiritual stature, these are the important factors. There was

erected therefore a rule of family living, a system of individual

observance and self-training, a force of upbringing and education

which would bring out and formulate these essential things.

The individual man was carefully trained in the capacities, habits

and attainments, and habituated to the sense of honour and duty

necessary for the discharge of his allotted function in life.He was

scrupulously equipped with the science of the thing he had to

do, the best way to succeed in it as an interest, artha, and to

attain to the highest rule, canon and recognised perfection of its

activities, economic, political, sacerdotal, literary, scholastic or

whatever else theymight be. Even the most despised pursuits had

their education, their law and canon, their ambition of success,

their sense of honour in the discharge and scruple of well-doing,

their dignity of a fixed standard of perfection, and it was because

they had these things that even the lowest and least attractive

could be in a certain degree a means of self-finding and ordered

self-satisfaction. In addition to this special function and training

there were the general accomplishments, sciences, arts, graces of

life, those which satisfy the intellectual, aesthetic and hedonistic

powers of human nature. These in ancient India were many

and various, were taught with minuteness, thoroughness and

subtlety and were available to all men of culture.





One comment on “

  1. Smitha Patil says:

    Thanks for sharing Kitu mama.

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