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VarnA & Its DharmA - 2

From: Anand K Karalapakkam (
Date: Wed Jul 08 1998 - 18:44:24 PDT

                                  Sri :
             Srimate  Sri Lakshmi Nrusimha Para Brahmane Namaha

             Srimate Sri Lakshmi - Nrusimha Divya PAdukA Sevaka - 
         Srivan  Shatagopa  Sri NArAyana Yateendra MahAdesikAya Namaha      

     Dear  bhaktAs of Sriman NArAyanA,
     Namo NArAyanA . kindly accept adiyen's pranAmams. 

  -- cont --

   Now , the question arises as to how to deal with those born in a
BrAhmanA family & doesn't perform karmA according to that varnA .
Enough PramAnAs are present (some already quoted) which verily chastises
such persons. If a BrAhmanA is not a devotee of Sriman NArAyanA , he has
to be considered a chandAlA only ie. no more can he be respected as a
BrAhmanA .

   A very popular quote from DakshaSmruthi : "The man (whomsoever are
ordered to perform ) who doesn't perform the rites pertaining to sandhyA
is ** always impure ** & is * unfit * for the performance of any
other rite. Whatever other rite or karmA he may perform , he will not
obtain the fruit thereof " .
 Such men who doesn't perform  SandhyAvandanam eventhough  born in a
BrAhmanA family can't enter perumAL sannidhi , can't enter temples , can't
prostrate to elders , perumAL & the like , can't dine with other BrAhmanAs
etc , since they are always impure ( nithya theetu ie. permanant Asoucham
) . A dhoora strI (ladies in menstrual cycle) is prohibited to do certain
activities because of the theetu . Similarly , the men who according to
their varnA should perform SandhyAvandanam , somehow doesn't perform it , 
gets theetu & is thus forbidden from performing many activities .
  Thus , by "BrAhmanAs" sAstrAs mean those born in BrAhmanA family & live
upto the standards of BrAhmanA & likewise.

   Now let us see the Ultimate Analysis by which all the previous
discussions would become very clear : 

  Sathvam Of the Body & the Sathvam of the Mind :

   SwAmi Desikan explains the difference between the sathvam of the body &
the sathvam of the mind.

   MahAbhArathA :Aswamedhika ParvA (40.11) states " Tamas (ignorance,
sloth etc) is found in great measure in the sUdrA , rajas in the kshatriyA
and sathvam in the BrAhmin " . 

   The qualities of caste pertaining to the body which are due to the 
special qualities of the body ,arise even at the time of birth & remains
until death. Thus , the varnA is fixed by birth , due to the type of body.
These qualities of body which can't be observed by naked eye , somehow
make the body either pure or impure for the performance of certain karmAs.

   But, a sUdrA eventhough has the predominance of Tamas in the
composition of his body , can very well obtain the quality of sathvam
in his mind. It is because of the preponderance of sathvam in the minds of
sUdrAs & the like , the sAstrAs eulogize them & instructs everyone to
respect them highly for their devotion to Sriman NArAyanA. For great
devotees like PrahlAdA , the preponderance of sathvam in the mind was
present from the very birth. Anyone can obtain the preponderance of
sathvam in one's mind by the mercy of a SadAchAryA .

   It must be noted that if a man born in other castes acquires the higher
virtues , he will be extolled highly as stated in the Vishnu PurAnA slokA
6.2.6 : " Men are to be honoured in the following order of preference -
for the possession of vidyA (J~nAnA) , of right karmA , of age, of
relatives & of wealth . Even a sUdrA possesing these is fit to be honoured
in old age " .

   It is ** very very important ** to note that the excellence arising
from the body & from qualities of the mind were to cause pride or
arrogance , it would lead to evil consequences . One should for certain
develop Akinchanyam ( feeling of lowliness / lack of virtues) in the lines
of AzhvArs & AchAryAs who have set the right example :

  Tirucchanda Viruttam (90) : " I was not born in any of the four castes
where dharmA could be practised " 

  Stotra Ratnam (61) : "I was born in a family renowned in the world
wherein everyone was pure & performed yogA (upAsanA) , where everyone knew
the truth about prakruti with its three qualities and the jIvAs , where
everyone had their mind firmly fixed at Your (Sriman NArAyanA) Lotus Feet
& yet I inclined to commit sin & am now sunk in samsArA, O Saviour ".

    KArpanya (deep humility , lowliness etc) is very essential for a
PrapannA , since it forms as one of the angAs of Prapatti . 

    Thus , though there are regulations regarding castes and the code of
conduct pertaining to each caste, there is nothing to prevent a person
from being honoured "in the mind" . 


Exceptional cases / Doubts : 

   a. What about AzhvArs from lowly castes ? :  AzhvArs as true devotees
of Sriman NArAyanA lived according to  the varnAshrama dharmA. They never
violated it. No one can even be compared for the exaltedness of their
supreme devotion unto Sriman NArAyanA . Anyway AzhvArs are certainly
exceptional cases . The point is that , they are Nitya SoorIs having taken
the incarnation out of their mercy to preach to the suffering jIvAtmAs .   

   b. VidurA : VidurA himself says "As I was born a sUdrA , I can't teach
any further " (MahabhArathA:Udyoga ParvA 41.5 ) , since initiation into
vidyAs (upAsanAs) , mantrAs and the like should be only from a BrAhmanA.
But Sri KrishnA ate at his house because he was certainly a premier
devotee . 

   Anyway ApasthambA in his dharma sootrA (2.2.4) states that SUdrAs who
are under the supervision of AryAs are competent to cook for AryAs . In
yugAs other than kali  , sUdrAs having great qualities were permitted to
cook the food for AryAs under their own supervision. MahAbhArathA:  
UdyogaparvA 91.43 says " The pure VidurA having the qualities necessary
for it , brought the food ".    

  c. VisvAmitrA : He became a BrAhmanA after being a kshatriyA because of
the special causes , as the charu ( oblation of grain cooked in milk and
other things) eaten by his mother without knowing that it was intended for
producing a Brahmin child .

     There are some more episodes which may seem to be contradictory , but
actually they aren't .

    Performance of Rites according to VarnA & AshramA : 

    Lord KrishnA in His GIta Upadesam says "One shouldn't give up karmA
ordained for the varnAs & the AshramAs .Their omission arising from
ignorance is renunciation due to tamas "  & "He who gives up karmA because
it is painful & fatiguing to the body - he renounces owing to rajas and
does not obtain the fruit of renunciation " (Bhagavad GItA 18.7,8 ).

      Rather , one should perform  the prescribed karmAs with sAthvIka
tyAgam ( kartrutva tyAgam ie. without the doership attitude + mamatA
tyAgam ie. without the attitude of "mine" + phala tyAgam ie. without any
want  of fruits / solely for the pleasure of Sriman NArAyanA) .
    "To perform the karmA ordained for a man with the thought that it is
an end in itself and that it ought to be done without the desire for gain
of any kind - this is O ArjunA , tyAgam (renunciation) due to sathhvam " (
Bhagavad GItA 18.9 ).

   Glories of VarnAshrama DharmA :

   Some of the pramAnams that glorify VarnAshrama dharmA are as follows .

  Vishnu PurAnA (3.8.9) : "BhagavAn who is the Supreme Person is adored by
the man who performs the duties and rite of his varna and his AshramA
.There is nothing which delights BhagavAn other than this "

  Vishnu PurAnA (3.7.20) : "The man who doesn't deviate in the least from
the karmAs ordained for his caste , who considers alike those who wish him
well and those who wish him ill and who never deprives another of what
belongs to him and never does any action of violence (himsA) - know that
this man who has a mind free from faults like desire , is a devotee of
Vishnu "   

   No one has right to violate sAstrAs : 
   No one has any right to violate sAstrAs . SAstrAs are the only guiding
light for the baddha jIvAtmAs . If someone does contradictory to what
sAstrAs says , it will not be pleasing to the divya dampati . For instance
, if a BrAhmanA forfeits the performance of SandhyAvandanam (*) it is 
certainly an act that won't please the Divya Dampati .

  Note : SandhyAvandanam is a mahA yogA combining karma , jn~Ana & bhakti
yogA , filled with their aids such as japA , dhyAnA , prAnAyAmA etc . But
, a prapannA does not perform this as an angA of Bhakti yogA , but rather
to just please Sriman NArAyanA . SandhyAvandanam is anyway filled with
Holy Names of Sriman NArAyanA & is a very great way of worshipping Him .
Even a casual understanding of the meanings of the mantrAs & slokAs
recited during SandhyAvandanam would make one deeply devoted to Sriman
NArAyanA & would love to perform SandhyAvandanam regularly . What to speak
about those who understands the deep imports of GAyatri mantrA , 
AshtAksharam etc ?

  Following is the quote from Lakshmi Tantram (17.93-97) , wherein
PIrAtti is saying the following :

   " In order that there may be no violation of dharmA , for the
protection of family , for keeping ignorant men in right path by setting
them an example , for the preservation of the moral law as defined in the
sAstrAs , for My satisfaction & for the satisfaction of the Lord armed
with sArngA who is god of all gods , the prapannA who is wise shouldn't
even think of transgressing the ordinances of vedA. Even a king's
favourite , who because it serves no purpose of his own destroys the bund
of a river dug by the king's order , which is of great use to the world ,
is beautiful in itself & causes abundance of crops , - even he will be
impaled for having done so. So also , though he may be dear , the man who
violates the ordinances of the vedAs is no favourite of mine - in as much
he violates My commands "

   Another famous quote from VishnuDharmA (6.31) , wherein Sriman
NArAyanA says : "Sruti & Smruti are indeed My commands . He who
transgresses them violates My commands . He is My dhrohi. Though he may be
devoted to Me , he shouldn't be called a VaishnavA " 

   Let us meditate on the following verse as the conclusion :

    Jitante stotram : "I may be born to anyone in whatever family
(wherever I may be born) , may I have the eager longing to enjoy the
pleasure of rendering service to You (Sriman NArAyanA) ! I will never do
anything on behalf of any other deity with my body , mind, speech or head"

  Note : All the pramAnams are taken from Srimad Rahasya Traya SAram
(SRTS) of SwAmi Desikan. Almost all the explainations too are from that
granthA only . SwAmi Desikan anyway deals with this topic very

    The posting is just on what the sAstrAs say about VarnA & its
dharmA. The  prevailing situations make many a persons unable to follow
their dharmA properly . Its upto one to realize one's inabilities
to follow the sAstrAs & develop Akinchanyam , & mentally acquire
the angAs of prapatti & proceed in that direction to finally perform
prapatti & lead a life of a prapannA with atleast minimal   anushtAnams .
One must atleast repent mentally over one's transgressions of the sAstrAs
, as taught by our AzhvArs & AchAryAs . 

             Srimate NigamAntha MahA DesikAya Namaha
   Namo NArAyanA


   Anantha PadmanAbha dAsan  

                      Sarvam  Sri KrishnArpanamastu