Sunday, March 1, 2009

The True Meaning Of Caste System

If we have thus to transform the Indian mind's attitude to the caste system, we must begin not from a mere social or humanitarian angle but from a spiritual perspective. And to do so we have to separate the from the 'spirit' and go back to the seed-ideas in the Purushasukta of the Vedas from which the Caturvarna was born, to see if we can combine the elements to form a novel and innovative synthesis.
The four orders of the Caturvarna figuratively sprang from the limbs of the creative deity -- the cosmic godhead, from his head, arms, thighs and feet. Ordinarily this is construed to indicate that Brahmins were pure men of knowledge, Kshatriyas were men of power, Vaishyas were the producers and support of the society and the Sudras were its servants. But this is a too superficial reading of the imagery which actually tried to depict how the Divine expresses itself in man and his myriad activities -- the Divine as knowledge in man, the Divine as Power, the Divine as production, enjoyment and mutuality and the Divine as service, obedience and work. These divisions correspond to the four cosmic principles whose efflorescence need the help of the four great powers of the Divine Shakti -
(a) Wisdom that conceives the order and principle of things and manifested by Maheswari, Goddess of supreme knowledge;
(b) The Power that sanctions, upholds and enforces it, aided by Mahakali, Goddess of the supreme strength;
(c) The Harmony that creates the arrangements of its parts with the help of Mahalakshmi, the Goddess of love and beauty; and
(d) The Work that carries out what the rest directs with the sanction of Mahasaraswati, Goddess of skill and perfection. *

These four principles justified the four-fold order of the society. They can also be used to justify and build up an ideal four-fold personality as the same Reality expresses itself equally in man and the collectivity. Sri Aurobindo describes that the very nature of our life is such that it is at every moment subject to the influence of these four principles at work -'Our life itself is at once an Inquiry after truth and knowledge, a struggle and battle of our will with ourselves and surrounding forces, a constant production, adaptation, application of skill to the material of life and a sacrifice and service.' (25)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It started way back then, but today the caste system has taken an ugly side.