The Four Kinds of People -Bhagavad Gita, Ch 18, Vs 40-45

The Four Castes

40-41
There is nothing on earth among living beings, or even in heaven among the gods, that can exist free of the three gunas of Nature. The innate actions of people — Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Shudras — are therefore determined according to the gunas of Nature.

1. Brahman (God-person) – Priest, spiritual leader, teacher, scholar.

2. Kshatriya (Warrior) – Warrior or leader of the People.

3. Vaishya (Tradesman) – Merchant, journeyman, businessman.

4. Shudra (Servant) – Laborer. (Originally part of the Kashatriya caste but since degraded. For more details, read “Who Were the Shudras?”).

“Nothing on earth … can exist free of the three gunas” says that there is no such thing as not acting, for the gunas are forms of action in Nature. As beings we have bodily forms that exist in the realm of Nature, so we are not exempt from Action. So there is no one, not even among the gods, who can exist free of Action and its effects.

  • The gods – deva (m) or devi (f) — Divine Individuals on a higher plane of being than our own.

As long as you are being something, you are not exempt from Action. 

When a yogi is ill or suffering, it is often believed by others that he cannot really be a yogi, or even an avatara; he would be immune to such maladies, or would simply cure the problem and remain solidly in Divine Bliss. But they forget that his physical body, which is a part of nature, is as vulnerable to nature’s effects and maladies as anyone else. Bodies do not exist in the Absolute. Bodies can only exist in Relative realms. 

“The innate actions of people” refers to the way people tend to carry out action according to their natural traits, abilities, talents, interests, etc. We are all born with something that we can do well. It is only natural that we use this as an occupation in life. It was once believed, and probably still is, that these traits are inherited, and therefore set in stone.

There was probably a time when people naturally tended to stick to their own kind of people. However, with the descent from a more enlightened time into a darker and overpopulated age, this is no longer as prominent. Nowadays, likenesses are more likely to be based on intolerance. Standards are more likely to be based on class (money), religion and race. But the four kinds of people mentioned here, still have something equally valuable to teach us.

Four Castes

This verse is introducing us to the caste system. It is my opinion that the caste system as we know it today, was not originally meant as a hard rule to be followed at all costs, but as a guide. I also think that it is essentially correct. It provides us with some practical understanding of people and how people are ‘wired’ in general — their characteristics, traits and tendencies, and their various talents and abilities. But one must always leave room for exceptions. Even in the Mahabharata, which was written not so long ago (8th and 9th centuries BCE), and in which this Bhagavad Gita appears, there are instances of these exceptions. 

42  — The Actions of Brahmans (God-People)
Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, patience, integrity, knowledge, discrimination and faith, are the inherent actions of Brahmans.

Speaking in general where ‘people’ are concerned, I think of Brahmans as God-people, and God-people as those who practice God-action and therefore know God, and consequently have the above characteristics.

43 — The Actions of Kshatriyas (Warriors)
Valor, strength, fortitude, skill, not fleeing in battle, generosity and leadership, are the innate actions of Kshatriyas.

“Not fleeing in battle” Not quitting when the going gets rough.

The picture of a warrior is one of valuable traits, whether war is concerned or not. Kshatriyas are leaders of people, kind and wise whether in war or peace. In battle, they adhere to traditional rules, i.e., warriors on elephants battle with other warriors on elephants, not archers; an archer will do battle with other archers, not swordsmen; when an archer runs out of arrows his enemy stands down until he has replenished them.

Well, it starts like that. But in the story of the Mahabharata war, as with all wars, honor in battle ultimately falls apart. But it is interesting to know that these ideals existed among Kshatriyas, passed down from times long forgotten.

44 — The Actions of Vaisyas and Shudras
Agriculture, cow-herding and commerce are the innate actions of Vaishyas, and services are the innate actions of Shudras.

The Brahmans are the teachers, scholars and priests of the spiritual, and the Kshatriyas are the barons, warriors and leaders of the people. The Vaishyas are tradesmen who sell their products in large or small businesses, and the Shudras provide services ranging from healing to house-cleaning.

(It is my opinion that the caste system comes down to us from a more enlightened time, and that what was probably original has degraded. In our present age (kali yuga), we are at the bottom of the bucket, and our so-called traditions must surely be corrupted and misunderstood, for this is a characteristic of this age. I believe these four categories of people came down the slide from the satya yuga, the Golden Age, where intolerance and inequality did not exist, and have been degraded, ranked, and set in stone over time.)

45
Content in the performance of one’s own innate kind of action, one attains success. Hear now how one who is contented in his own innate action finds perfection.

We are being reminded that to do our own dharma poorly is better than doing another’s well, and that by doing this, we will ultimately succeed in our endeavors.

It is clear that the teaching here are centered on success, and that doing what you are best qualified to do is essential for attaining it and living a happy life.

Your Life Purpose lies within one of these four general kinds of people. Once you have determined this, you will consider your options within that category, choose one, and succeed. This places you in a position to attain perfection (siddhi – success, perfection and special powers).

Namaste (I bow to the divine one that you really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

 

 

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IV:12-13 You Get What You Worship

In the last verse we discovered that the way we take refuge in God is how God reciprocates. Put another way: You get what you worship.

12
Those who desire success in the world worship the gods here in this world. In this world success comes quickly through action.

One might be tempted to think that since all is God, one might just as well worship God any ole way he pleases. If he worships fame he should get fame. If he worships money he should get money. There is truth to this. Such a person, filled with the desire for money, for instance, has his attention fixed on getting it at all times, and deems it the most important thing in existence. He is worshipping it so he will likely get it. Money is his god.

“The gods here in this world”
The word for ‘god’ in Sanskrit is deva, and in this usage means ‘a sense organ, an entitled person, or a person or thing idolized or held in high regard here on earth’.

“Worship”
One ‘worships’ when there is an intense and constant desire or longing for something. What that something is, is the ‘object’ of one’s worship. In worshipping the adored object, the attention is fixed on it with uninterrupted focus. By keeping the attention on something intently enough, and long enough, union with it is achieved—you get what you worship. It is simple cause and effect.

In this world success comes quickly through action.”
The action is ‘sacrifice‘. What is sacrificed yields results according to the nature of the sacrifice. For instance, water evaporates from the oceans (sacrifice) and the result is rain. Sacrifice to ‘the gods here in this world’ is the action by which success is attained here in this world. The sacrificial action that produces success may take the form of energy, time, effort, and/or the act of paying intent, resolute attention to the object of worship here in this world.

13
The four castes were created by Me according to the divisions of the qualities of nature and their interactions. Although I created them, know Me to be eternally non-doing.

Looking at these categories of people, we discover that they all sacrifice and how they do.

“The four castes were created by Me according to the divisions of the qualities of nature and their interactions.”

The four castes are four broad categories of the kinds of things we humans are inclined to do according to the predominance of certain characteristics of nature (gunas) that we bear. Following the previous verse with this subject, it seems likely that what is being suggested is that the way one worships, or sacrifices, ‘here in this world’ is associated with these traits.

Castes

The teacher’s sacrifice is teaching, the scholar’s sacrifice is study, and so forth. By their sacrifices, they succeed in their objectives. By sacrificing to God in this manner (God is the object of their teaching, their study, etc.), they attain God.

You get what you worship.

These categories have transitioned over time from being descriptive to being a system written in stone, however, they are good ways of seeing the different kinds of abilities people generally have.

Any system can become a trap when humans try to regulate and enforce it. Krishna has urged Arjuna to a battle that will end in all this getting mixed up, and while Arjuna sees this as a reason not to fight, Krishna tells him to get on with it.

Although I created them, know Me to be eternally non-doing.
First He says He creates something and in the next breath He says that He never does anything. So He creates something without doing anything…? Non-doership has been the subject throughout this chapter. But how can anything happen without our doing something?

“Created” srishta ( सृष्ट ) – ‘let go, discharged, brought forth, produced, created,’ and ‘firmly resolved’.

The keys to understanding this statement is to keep in mind that…

  • ‘Non-doing’ does not mean that nothing happens.
  • All action occurs in nature.
  • The actions of nature are produced by the interactions of the gunas.
  • God in Its relative form is Nature (i.e., mind, intelligence, ego, earth, water, fire, air and ether).

One achieves the state of ‘non-doership’ upon achieving this understanding experientially. This experience occurs spontaneously through Surrender Meditation (Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga).

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

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Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 1, Vs 41-44

Ancient Mystical Writings – Download clear and simple translations in plain English from Durga Ma.

41
“Because of this [see previous verses], the family women are defiled. When the family women are defiled, caste becomes intermixed.

“The family women are defiled”

The word for ‘woman‘ here is stri, which means, ‘bearer of children’. There are other words for women, but women are mentioned specifically in this verse as the bearers of children. There is concern regarding the progeny of the male leaders of society who would lose control over the continuation of their line (‘family law’) if they were to lose control of the women. A woman knows who her children are, but a man can only know this if he controls the woman. This takes us back to the previous installment and the mention of “the destruction of family” causing the “family laws to be lost”. What would be lost is a clear male family line.

(Ladies: For an interesting interpretation of this, read this Translation and the Purport. Scroll down to page 83, and fasten your seat belts.)

42
“This intermixture is hell for the destroyers of the family and for the family as well, and indeed, the ancestors also fall, deprived of offerings of rice and water.

43
“By these wrongs of the family-destroyers, producing mixed caste, caste dharma disappears along with family dharma.

Dharma – laws, customs, traditions.

The word for caste means ‘race, species, kind, sort, character, nature, property, or quality’ and can be applied to people or things. Here it is referring to social classes into which the characteristics and abilities of people can be generally categorized, and which eventually became fixed and determined by birth, as was the case in the time of the Mahabharata war. The four castes are, Brahmin (God-people), Kshatriya (warriors and leaders), Vaishya (farmers, merchants, businessmen), and Shudra (servers).

In this verse, Arjuna is saying that the loss of family dharma (‘family laws’) would cause confusion about an individual’s caste. Because the caste system has become fixed and is determined by birth, this system would no longer be reliable with the destruction of controlled family lines based on male lineage.

44
“Men whose family laws have been obliterated, O Agitator of Men [Krishna], dwell indefinitely in hell, thus we have heard repeatedly.

We are to understand that this situation would be an unending hell for a man whose male family line has been destroyed. Another translation of this verse is, “Thus men whose family lines have been destroyed always live in hell, subordinate to women (literally, ‘one who waits on a child’, mothers).”

Maintaing ‘family laws’ has been a means of keeping society righteous, prosperous, and spiritually and morally virtuous. However, it is assumed that this can only happen in a patriarchy, but, much to Arjuna’s distress, here we have Krishna urging a war that will end all this.

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Once again, unaware of the significant departure from the norm that this war represents for him, Arjuna resorts to what he has been taught. What he has been taught was valid and adequate when he learned it in the past, but he doesn’t realize that it is not sufficient for what he is up against now. What he sees as he looks upon the two opposing forces, is the destruction of those he holds dear, and the destruction of the proper order of things, a destruction that he believes will bring only suffering.

To understand these verses as they pertain to surrender yoga sadhana, we must begin to think beyond the concepts of ‘family’, hereditary ‘caste’, and ‘ancestors’ in the usual way. Considering the similarity of these, this statement from the previous installment reminds us of their place in understanding yoga: “…at another level ‘family’ (including caste and ancestors) brings to mind a genetic pool. DNA is one way of looking at the evolutionary force (kundalini) in its physical form, so we might assume that this ‘war’ will affect some transformative change (‘destruction’) within ‘the family law of the human body’ (DNA).”

We are being told that once the evolutionary force that Arjuna is about to deal with gets its way, things are going to change. As a result of this, there will be a new order, and the body is going to go through some interesting changes to get there.

Jaya Bhagavan,
Durga Ma
durgama.com

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