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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Three Kinds of Intelligence – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 18, Vs 29-32

Intelligence - rajas, tamas, sattva

Intelligence (buddhi) – intellect, reason, differentiation, discernment, judgement; buddhi is the power of the mind that forms ideas, imaginations, conceptions, and knows how to figure things out.

Resolve (dhṛtes) – standing firm in the course of your practice; holding, resolute, courageous, determined and unwavering. You don’t quit when the going gets rough, or when you aren’t getting what you think you want.

29
Now hear the three kinds of intelligence and resolve, together and separately, according to the gunas, Conqueror of Wealth:

Intelligence

Buddhi – Reason, Discernment and Judgment

30 — Sattvic Intelligence (correctly discerning)
That intelligence which knows willful action from non-willful action, what is one’s duty and what is not, what is to be feared and what is not to be feared, and what is binding and what is liberating, is sattvic intelligence.

  • Willful action (pravṛitti) – acting to fulfill desires
  • Non-willful action (nivṛitti) – renunciation of action as one’s own doing
  • Duty (kārya) – required action
  • Not duty (ākārya) – action that is not required

Two Paths

Two Paths

There are two fundamental paths of spiritual advancement: pravritti marga and nivritti marga (marga means ‘path’).

The first of these, pravritti marga, the path of the will, is the first path you follow from childhood into adulthood, under the guidance of Guru (your parents are your first gurus, and later your teachers are your gurus). 

Ideally, during this time, your spiritual path, your career path and your life path work together. You learn and practice universal spiritual principles that act as the foundation for sustained success in all three — spiritual, career and life in general. During this time, you practice these principles in daily life, find and implement your career, have a family, and practice the teachings of Guru (a teacher that knows the way and can guide you in this). This prepares you for nivritti marga.

Nivritti marga, the path of non-willful action, is called the path of renunciation. What is being renounced is your sense of action as your own doing. This is not a path in which one remains involved with worldly duties and responsibilities. The only required action is the practice of a teaching lineage in which surrender (by any name) to Absolute God (by any name) is the main practice. This God-practice, which Lord Krishna has been teaching Arjuna, is your only ‘required’ action.

Old man meditatingThis new lifestyle begins around the age of 50, or when your first grandchild is born, which ever comes first. Because the main practice needs proper conditions, you seek out a proper place and go to that place to live. You are not necessarily estranged from your family, but your Guru and your practice are your first and most important priorities.

Once some headway is gained in your practice, you become experienced and Guru may ask you to teach others. When one will be ready for this path varies from person to person. The age of 50 is a rule of thumb based on what is natural for most people. Here I would cite the exception of Jesus, who began at a very early age. 

31 — Rajasic Intelligence (prone to flaw or confusion)
Intelligence that is incorrect in the distinction between righteousness and unrighteousness, what is right and what is wrong, is rajasic intelligence, Son of Prita.

  • Righteousness (dharma) – what is considered to be proper action; right or correct action (kārya).
  • Unrighteousness (adharma) – that which is considered to be improper action; wrong or incorrect action (ākārya).

32 — Tamasic Intelligence (incorrect, backwards)
Intelligence that is enveloped in darkness and imagines unrighteousness to be righteousness and has everything backwards, is tamasic intelligence.

When one understands righteousness and unrighteousness backwards and the opposite of Truth, one’s intelligence is tamasic.


You are probably wondering which of these three kinds of intelligence applies to you. But in truth, we all have a little bit of all three, though one will probably be more prominent than the others. Suffice it to say that we can all profit by aiming at complete sattvic intelligence until that time as we attain full enlightenment, which comes by means of the God-practice Lord Krishna is teaching. 

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

 

Action – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 18, Vs 23-28

Action

Previously:
Knowledge, Action and Agent are of three kinds according to the three gunas. — Verse 19

Three Kinds of Action

23 — Sattvic Action (pleasant and illuminating)
Action that is in accordance with scripture and free of attachment and aversion, which is performed without motivation for the results, is said to be sattvic.Meditation is a sattvic action

When one discovers Truth contained in scriptural injunctions, one becomes free of attachment, for attachment is no longer relevant. Then, attachment no longer determines action, and like and dislike also become irrelevant. Then one naturally performs action without consideration of self, and is headed for Liberation.

24 — Rajasic Action (passionate and excited)
Rajas - ExcitementBut self-motivated action performed with effort of will for the purpose of fulfilling desires, is declared to be rajasic.

When action is performed for the purpose of personal gain, the will is automatically engaged. This is what ‘will’ is. Acting to fulfill a desire, no matter what it is, always engages the will. 

25 — Tamasic Action (dark, prone to error)Tamas, dark and prone to error
Action undertaken out of ignorance with no consideration of the consequences of loss or injury to others, is tamasic.

A tamasic person is not self-motivated. His actions do not include pursuing interest in God/Truth. He may like the idea of having a spiritual experience, but he will only credit it if someone else gives it to him. Even if he finds a teacher who inspires him, he may return to that teacher, not for more knowledge or guidance, but for more inspiration.


Using willpower always produces imbalance in the body, feelings and mind. Trying to recover it, we engage our willpower, increasing the imbalance, and causing us to force or resist. Forcing and resisting are two sides of the same coin, and both are either rajasic or tamasic

In Surrender Meditation we surrender the use of our will to God — “Thy will be done, O Lord, not mine.”  The use of willpower in meditation is not in our best interest, and affect others as well … even people we don’t know. So even though we may reclaim the use of our will outside of meditation, we know where to put it when we meditate: outside the meditation room.

Three Kinds of Agents

The following three kinds of Agents address people who see themselves as doers of action, which we now know is not real. Nevertheless, it seems like we are doers of action, so we are going to see how this looks with the gunas, the real cause of action, running the show. 

26 — Sattvic Agent (pleasant, kind, illuminating)
Sattva - pleasant & kindFree of attachments and self-praise, resolved and not affected by success or failure, such an agent is sattvic.

You are a sattvic Agent when, free of considerations of success or failure or self, you will quit all attachments and pride. Until this time, the gunas rule. But when you are in sync with the Real You (the eternal non-doer), you are no longer subject to the sirens of ignorance, and the gunas bow at your feet — they are still there, but they no longer control you.

27 — Rajasic Agent (recklessly excited, self-serving)
Rajas - Ambitious & AgressivePassionately desiring the results of their actions, greedy, violent-natured and impure, influenced by happiness and unhappiness, such an agent is rajasic.

You’ll do it if you like it, you won’t if you don’t. If this fits you, you are a rajasic agent, and your karmic bondage rules. Even though it is the gunas that cause all action in nature, you experience action as your own doing. You have made yourself a slave to the influences of the gunas, and are bond by your karma.  

28 — Tamasic Agent (dark, lazy, procrastinating)
Tamas - lazy & procrastatingUndisciplined, unrefined, inflexible, wicked, overbearing, slothful, noncommittal and procrastinating, such an agent is tamasic.

It goes without saying that you are not one of these people! But you probably know someone who is, or know of them. These are people who never change, and never in their lifetime will they ever change. And they’re proud of it. They may call it tradition, or they may say, “That’s what the Good Book says,” all the while remaining ignorant of its meaning out of pure laziness. Or they say, “Like father like son” and brag about it. They beat their wives and children because they were beaten. And on it goes. This is tamasic action.

Knowledge, action and agent are of three kinds because there are three gunas: sattva, rajas and tamas

In this world, nature is always active in these three ways to greater and lesser of degrees and combinations. When we believe ourselves to be the doers of actions, we acquire karma of three kinds according to these three modes of nature. We are responsible people, and we hope we are good enough to acquire good karma.

But there is a trick here, for by identifying yourself as responsible, you identify yourself as the Agent of Action. This keeps you in bondage and compelled to return again and again, life after life, and always short on happiness. But what else is there? What are we to do?

There is only one escape from this continued cycling: You must become a serious seeker of Truth/God, and practice the ‘God-practice’ Lord Krishna is teaching Arjuna in this Gita. You must attain enlightenment, and you must create a regular meditation practice to put your knowledge into action and allow for the Real You to emerge.   

All action occurs in nature, and You are not nature. You are You. Period.

The Real You 

You are a god in a body made of God being human.

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