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Re: Gita and Varnaashrama Dharma

From: Parthasarati Dileepan (MFPD_at_UTCVM.UTC.EDU)
Date: Sat Oct 28 1995 - 14:59:18 PDT

On Fri, 27 Oct 1995 15:01:50 -0700 Mani said:


>This is a difficult question to answer and one that I have
>debated on many occasions. In my gut I feel that Sri Krishna is not
>talking about any kind of rigid birth-based varna, even though
>Vedanta Desikar says the opposite.  Ramanuja is not so clear, but it
>does not seem to be a big issue for him.


Let me say at the outset that my objective is
inquiry, not criticism.

The following verse seems to indicate that the
concept of 'VarNam' in Srimad Bhagavath Geethai
is something determined solely and rigidly by birth.

Verse 41 of chapter 1, a part of Arjunan's
justifications for refusing to fight.

"adharmaabhivaath pradhushyanthi kulasthriya:
sthreeshu dhushtaaSu vaarshNEya jaayathE varNaSangra:"

The interpretations I found in RK Mutt publication
as well as one affiliated with Sri Ahobila Mutt, say
that with the rise of immorality (in other words,
decline of righteousness) women belonging to
specific 'kulam' lose their chastity; with such loss
of chastity comes mingling of varNam.

One possible explanation is that this is said by
Arjuna and not by the Lord.  But this is not
satisfactory.  The notion that 'loss of chastity will
result in varNaSangraha' is never rejected, or so it
seems to me.  Even in later chapters where
characteristics for different varNaas are described
there is no rejection of Arjunan's statement 1.42.
The presence of verse 1.42 makes the absence of
its rejection significant.  In the absence of such a
rejection, one is left to conclude that according to
Srimad Bhagavath Geethai birth determines varNam.

-- Dileepan