Here's a discussion I had with someone over Bhagwad Geeta on TOI forum (Stop reading now if you don't want to go to the end, it may mislead):
mukunda (Bengaluru) replies to Siddharth
21 Jul, 2011 02:50 PM
Ok,lets read ch 4 verse 13. catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah tasya kartaram api mam viddhy akartaram avyayam "According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me. And although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the nondoer, being unchangeable." 1st line"catur-varnyam maya srstam" 4 varnas are created by Me(Paramatma),2nd line "guna-karma-vibhagasah" where the vabhajan\categorization is based on one's guna composition and karma composition. 3rd and 4th line states how He is the non doer and unchangable. Sri Krishna says that each living entity is categorized into one of the 4 varnas based ONLY on their previous records of Gunas and their Karma. NOWHERE He mentions about janana\birth as the basis of categorization (example: a son of a brahmana is not a brahmana(by birth), but he becomes a brahmana by his gunas and karma), where as caste system is a system which is categorized purely based on birth(example: a son of a brahmana is automatically placed in the general merit(due to birth in a brahmana family) and a son of a scheduled caste is placed as a scheduled caste(due to birth in a scheduled caste family)). now can you please explain your statement "Gita encourages caste system. How can we allow a book that doesn't consider all humans as equal and believes that the humans are divided in 4 castes." Gita states that you earn your varna due to your previous deeds and guna records. this system is present everywhere. you dont ask a school dropout person to become an IAS officer. he has to earn this position by doing required action(passing IAS exam) and also including his guna composition. NOTE: its very easy to read anti hindu articles on the internet and comment by taking bits and pieces. but Satyameva Jayate, Truth alone triumphs. regards, mukunda
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Siddharth replies to mukunda
11 hrs ago (02:36 PM)
If Varna is NOT determined by birth then tell me how many people were there in our entire history that were the born in the house of shudras but became Brahmins by their deeds? You just can't name it. Because a son of brahmin is always considered a brahmin and it is assumed that he did good deeds in his past life. and same goes for the shudras. Hence, encouragement of caste system.
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Rahul Bhalerao (bglr) replies to mukunda
21 Jul, 2011 10:41 PM
Why doesn't Geeta clearly say that it is not the birth that determines varna? why make ambiguous statements? Previous deeds/karma means what? The deeds/education/skills acquired in this birth or the popular interpretation of previous birth's karma? If deeds decide varna then just like deeds can keep changing why can't a varna change? If it is only the deeds that determine varna, why are the atrocities based on varna justified? Let the incompetent be poor, why do we need to torture them? Why doesn't it acknowledge the scientific and philosophical truth that all human beings are equal? Are all these confusions left like that so that it can be interpreted to justify the injustice in the name of varna and dharma? We don't know of practical goodness of the bright interpretations of Geeta but we certainly know the dark side of it, that varna is birth based and has caused injustice for thousands of years.
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mukunda replies to Rahul Bhalerao
11 hrs ago (02:48 PM)
Namaste Rahul,answers to your queries are below 1:"Why doesnt Geeta clearly say that it is not the birth that determines varna? why make ambiguous statements?" ans: its not ambiguous, in fact Sri Krishna clearly states the definition of varna as based ONLY on guna and karma.example: definition of sphere is : a sphere is a perfectly round geometrical object in three-dimensional space, such as the shape of a round ball(wikipedia).here the sphere is defined by categorically placing it in the shape of round and in 3D space. now i would definitely look foolish if i state that its ambigious since it doesnt state anything about squares or rectangle shapes(apart from circular/round). it doesnt include any other shapes since it does not categorically fall in any other shapes. likewise, when Sri Krishna is clearly telling varna is based ONLY on guna and karma, asking the question of janma is irrelevent since this definition is not proof by negation/proof by shortlisting. in ch 18 verse 41, Sri Krishna reaffirms about the varnas "brahmana-kshatriya-visam "O Arjuna, the karma/acitivities of the brahmanas,ksatriyas,vaisyas and sudras are clearly divided according to the gunas/qualities born of their own nature" 2: "previous deeds/karma means what? " again Sri Krishna defines karma as sanchita karma prarabdha karma aagama karma. 1. sanchita karma (karma in storage, karma already done) 2. prArabdha karma (karma that has begun to bear fruit,karma being done) 3. AgAmi karma (karma resulting from future activities). this is a very huge topic to cover here. 3:"If deeds decide varna then just like deeds can keep changing why can't a varna change? " ans:varna does change; a brahmana can become a shudra and vice versa. example: Brahmarishi Vishwamitra was a kshatriya Raja/king and his original name was Kaushika. He was a Kshatriya who became a Brahmana due to his deeds(becoming a Brahmarishi). since nobody is born to any varna, they can change varna depending on their karma and guna. regards,
Mukunda, it is good that you brought the point of altering Varna! I suggest you take a look at the research paper 'who were shudras' by Dr. Ambedkar. There are number of cases where you see varna being changed in mythological history. But the question remains the same, first of all why divide the society in general, and second how did this division became so robust, rigid and remained based on birth for all the practical reality of 3 thousand years? What was it in the religion that caused an apparently mere labor hierarchy into a rigid system of varna and caste that is present in all its glory? Start reading all these mythological scriptures in more un-religious manner and you find the answers. Just like any other society in world, the priest class of brahmins secured unequivocal powers in the times of darkness through religion. Your own Upanishads are the story of competition between kshatriyas and brahmins. Off-course it is not just the Gita that made the varna/caste system the way it is, there has been a steady and well thought process behind it with all the conflict of interests doing their part of the job. Brahmins corrupted Vedas to gain religious sanction for their authority. Kshatriyas in competition with brahmins to control the society made their own versions by posing themselves as the incarnation of Gods. And again brahmins proved their superiority by reciting the brahmin authority through God's own mouth. In order to make sure that the powers of one generation remain reserved for rest of the coming generations of the same class, Varna had to be made rigid. If only Karma was the determinant of one's destiny, then what is the explanation for all the rigidity over thousands of year? Why didn't these apparently great thoughts resulted in a great society? Varna/Caste system as we know and as has existed for thousands of years, is the greatest poison in our society. Now please don't make the futile claims of how great system it used to be and how it must have benefited people. Buddha has already condemned this system very strongly even 2500 years ago. No matter how hard you try to sugar coat a poison, it will still have its effect. The effect is what we have witnessed but the poison is still we deny.
By the way, we don't have problem with round shape being defined specifically and interpreted in one single way without any ambiguity, because there is no way it could be interpreted differently, neither there has been any proof to any interpretation of it being a square. That is mathematical conformance. Coming back to your Varna and Karma and geeta etc., we do know for sure that Varna is indeed practiced based on birth, we all know about the interpretation that the karma of past birth causes one to be born in particular Varna, and the belief that a particular Varna person has particular qualities suitable for that Varna only. All these are well propagated interpretations supporting the rigid system (not flexible as claimed by you) and accepted throughout the Indian society (irrespective of the caste they belonged to or religious practices they had). We don't say Brahmins or Kshatriyas established and manipulated the Varna system for their benefit because they are inherently a cunning race, no, but they did do it certainly and cunningly because they happened to have powers in their hands which made them corrupt. Now that we know the truth of this evident corruption, at least now we can stay away from everything that has caused this corruption in first place. This is the precise reason why no anti-caste movement has ever called for a crusade against brahmins or upper castes but have condemned and burnt all these scriptures that have given opportunity for corruption and caused all the misery.
Out of my 7 questions, only first three were attempted to be answered to some extent, which are appearing non-satisfactory from the above reply. The core of the matter lies in later 4 questions which are not answered by Geeta admirers but better answered through the theory of religion based caste formation for power politics which is well explained by Dr. Ambedkar.