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Caste education: Decoding caste system

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Recently in Tamilnadu, teaser of a low budget film titled “Draupadi” created polarization among OBC communities against Dalit based parties. The teaser spoke about how Dalit based organizations are involved in organized syndicate of love-trapping affluent OBC community girls and creating havoc among their families.

The rise of Dalit based movie creators over past decade in Tamilnadu, opened up Dalit centric view of social life and also they exposed the difficult terrain being pushed by the affluent communities on them. As the immediate fallout, Ramadoss, founder of one of the caste based parties (PMK) immediately started exposing the organized love-trapping done by Dalit parties against their community girls in the name of equality and it created clashes among communities across North Tamilnadu.

All the Dalit centric parties ganged up and called for stopping of the release of the movie “Draupadi”. In one of the prime time debate surrounding this controversy director of the film Mohan, clearly told that the need of the hour is caste based education. Instead of keep on abusing our society about caste based issues, if we can take a step back and explain to the next generation about the rationale behind the caste system we can avoid most of the violent incidents around it.

Indic Texts on Caste:

There are numerous texts in our tradition which support the view that caste is not determined based on birth but based on the life a person leads. Like the profession, nature of food habits etc. Even in Bhagwad Gita it is said that the Varna (Caste) is determined based on profession not based on birth.

There are numerous scripts which in detail explain how the Varna of a person should be determined based on the profession and nature of his living not based on birth.

Triumph of Brahmanism:

According to Ambedkar, in his book (Triumph of Brahmanism), Varna has been determined based on social status and profession. But he observes that the very meaning given for “Brahmin” has collapsed the entire concept. Also he explains about the way Varna was determined in previous times.

In one way (Census) there was a group of officials (called Manu) whom we can relate to as Govt officials of current times who take part in a Census activity and determines the Varna of each person. This activity happens every 4 years, so a person can move across the hierarchy any way in his entire life time. In the second way through Gurukuls, the Varna of a person is determined. Based on the interest and nature of the student, teacher in the Gurukul will determine his Varna. Main difference between the above two ways are in Census way People can change the Varna but in the Gurukul way Varna can’t be changed. But in both ways Varna can’t be determined by Parents.

The third way (Time of distress) is the one which we follow now and it converted Varna into Castes.

Time of Distress:

Communists blame everything on Manu-Smriti. But many (don’t want us to) know that there are 6 Manu texts (smiritis). They are Svayambhuva manu, Svarocishe Manu, Uttama Manu, Tapasa Manu, Raivata Manu and Kakshusha manu. During the rise of Buddhism across India, Vedic scholars announced the Time of distress as there was patronage all across India for Buddhism by the rulers. People where openly criticizing the Vedic rituals, so the Vedic scholars gathered and wrote the Seventh substitute script “Visvasvat Manu”. But they have openly declared, once the Time of Distress is over we have to start following the previous Manu script which is Kakshusha manu.

But a twice-born, who, without being in distress, performs his duties according to the law for times of distress, obtains no reward for them in the next world; that is the opinion (of the sages).(11:28)

By the Visve-devas, by the Sadhyas, and by the great sages (of the) Brahmana (caste), who were afraid of perishing in times of distress, a substitute was made for the (principal) rule. (11:29)

Here the Principle rule stands for Kakshusha manu and the Substitute is the Visvasvat Manu.

As per Ambedkar this period was around 270 B.C and during this time only power to determine of Varna of a person was handed over to their Parents. As time progressed it became rigid and led to following of Castes based on Birth.

So as per the above history it can be clearly ascertained that the Varna of a person is based on Profession & Nature of a living. Also a person can move across Varna in his life time there are no discriminations. Once it became Caste we are struck in a quagmire. Let us pray that the next generation at least understands this idea and try to live with clearer awareness on Castes & Varna.

Varna Based on Spirituality:

Another theory based on Indic consciousness is that Varna is used to determine the Spiritual Progress of a person. As our life in India is more of seeking than believing, a person can attain God realization on 4 ways. They are Gnana,Bhakti,Kriya & Karma.

So based on these, a person can choose the way he/she wants to follow to attain God realization.

Sudras: If you use your body, or physical action to reach the ultimate, we call this Karma yoga

Kshatriyas: If you transform your energies and try to reach the ultimate, we call this Kriya yoga

Vaishiyas: If you use your emotions and try to reach the ultimate, we call this Bhakti yoga.

Brahmins: If you use your intelligence and try to reach the ultimate, we call this Gnana yoga.

As life starts, we like more of doing things physically. Slowly we transform ourselves and finally reach the stage that we will try to gain God realization based on our Intelligence (Gnana).

So as a Seeker in our entire span of Life we move across different Varnas and finally reach the God Consciousness the highest goal which we can aspire as a human being.

Let us more gracefully approach the idea of Caste and Varna and educate about the nuisances of the Varna system to our next generation, so that they become a better Seeker in their life.

Sources:

Triumph of Brahmanism: Dr Ambedkar

Types of Yoga: Isha foundation

The Laws of Manu: George Buhler

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