A-AS Level (CIE) Hinduism: Specimen Questions with Answers 21 - 21 of 41

Question number: 21

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Is Varna system and caste system same in Hinduism? Elucidate.

Explanation

  • According to Hinduism, Varna means one’s own profession. It has nothing to do with the present caste system. One can choose his/her profession by one’s own taste not by birth.

  • In B. Gita, lord Krishna clearly states that-“Chatur varnyam maya srushtam, guna karma vibhakasha”. It means-as per the nature, situation and taste-professions are divided into four categories. They are-Brahmana, Kashatriya, Vaisya, Sudra.

  • Brahmana-Brahmins are those who are real aspirants of spiritual knowledge/divine knowledge on Brahma (Brahma gyan). They always try to acquire as well as provide the ultimate knowledge to the common people through vivid interpretations according to the aspirants’ taste and grasping power.

  • Kshatriya-Kshatriyas are those who protect and defend the society as well as one’s own nation from getting injured, even by sacrificing the self.

  • Vaishya-Vaishyas are those who are engaged in the activities like business, agriculture, cattle rearing, and trade and so on. They do all these activities not just to earn and but to provide the best service that which is beneficial to the society. In short, we can say that the Vaishyas were not profit oriented people.

  • Sudra-Sudras are those who are engaged in social services and menial task. Without Sudras, no society can survive. That is why our ancient sages says-“Sevanam parano dharma”, means-“Services is the ultimate duty”.

  • Among all these, one can choose any of these profession as per one’s own taste and passion.

  • But, only Brahman, Kshatria and Vaisya are supposed to have Upanayana (sacred thread ceremony). Only they are considered as ‘dwija’, that is-Twice born. Sudras are excempted from this.

  • Apart from all these, anyone can turn any of these varnas as per the situation in the daily life.

  • If a person is praying or worshiping as the part of daily routine, he/she is a Brahmana, if the same person is defending oneself from any attack, he/she becomes Kshatriya, if a person is trying to sell anything, he/she is a Vaishya and if a person is cleaning or doing service to any person, he/she becomes Sudra at that time.

  • If we look at from other perspective, normally we consider sages as Brahmana. But, we can see the Kshatriyas as security guards at the entrance of their hermitage for the protection. Then we see Army as Kshatriya. But, we can see Vaishyas and Sudras in their camp doing canteen works, gardening, driving etc.

  • From all these statements, we can conclude that the Varna is all about prescribed duty according to their passion and has nothing to do with the present caste system.