Shudra’s proclivity of greater Brahmacharya

Some of the most controversial issues in India, especially about Hindu culture is related to the Varna system, which is clearly emphasized and outlined in Bhagavad-Gita, a holy book for the Hindus. Although Varna is mentioned in other Vedic texts, Bhagavad-Gita comes handy to discuss this topic, as it is well organized thought with sufficient clarifications.

चातुर्वर्ण्यं मया सृष्टं गुणकर्मविभागश:|
तस्य कर्तारमपि मां विद्ध्यकर्तारमव्ययम् ||13||

chātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛiṣhṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśhaḥ
tasya kartāram api māṁ viddhyakartāram avyayam

The four categories of occupations were created by ‘Me’ according to people’s qualities and activities. Although I am ‘the Creator’ of this system, know ‘Me’ to be the ‘Non-doer’ and ‘Eternal’.

The varnas are created by ‘Me’, according to the guna created by the balance of Satva, Raja, and Tama nature as practiced in Ayurveda, much deeper than qualifications (such as a degree holder), and karma where karma is not just what one does (the kriya) but, in fact, what is one’s goal for which one is totally dedicated. Using grammatical comparison of Subject, Verb, and Object, for Karta, Kriya, and Karma, one could easily derive the actual meaning of Karma to be the objective in ideal terms.

In the concept of Karma, freedom is one of the features of all that is vyakta (expressed) in the entire universe, be it material or the man. The material world is expanding entropically since its origin, starting with the big bang to free the energy and material over time and distance. Material world in a short time range disintegrates for freedom into molecules, atoms, or subatomic particles, and associates in various combinations.

Humans, on the other hand, are defined as intelligent beings, and thus express themselves intelligently through language, art, dress, food habits, and ideas, including philosophies, or darshanas in case of the Dharmic traditions.

The Vedic concept of living in the moment implies that one could see changes from moment to moment. A human being needs to train himself or herself to realize oneself from a moment to moment, in a detached and unbiased manner, something that is done during the brahmacharya period of one’s life.

The knowledge of self provides the freedom to act according to one’s nature, and one also develops capacity to accept the consequences without fear, anxiety, or stress.

When the karma is performed as one’s only right, all appropriate human rights are secured through the understanding of its phala or consequences.

With those understandings of guna and karma, one could approach the proper understanding the practice of the varna system.  Freedom of being oneself, freedom of expression, freedom of senses, and freedom of action are the practices that dharmic traditions promote, and with that there is no need to pursue rules and regulations, as those are attached to one’s actions.

The quna and karma of all four varnas based on their swabhava or natural inclinations are well defined with Bhagavadgita – 9 for Brahmanas, 7 for Kshatriyas, 3 for Vaishyas, and 1 for Shudras. Mathematically speaking, in the Varna system:

1S = 3V = 7K = 9B


1B = 1/9xS

1K = 1/7xS

1V = 1/3xS

In other words, a Brahmin is worth only one-ninth of a Shudra, a Kshatriya is worth one-seventh, and Vaishya is one-third Shudra. The question is how to justify such a drastic change in the perspective from what we see today in India, and how India is looked at from the outside. More important question is how the so called Shudras of today can reach that mathematical glory.

To begin with, even today one can find the last names of so called Shudras as Vishwakarma (carpenters, blacksmiths, meaning the profession of engineering and technology), the god of construction and technology, and Prajapati (Kumhars or potters), the most creative form of the Brahm or the Purusha.

Such an entitlement is not accessible to any other Varna, and is so difficult to attain, and perhaps more so, for Shudras. Prajapati and Vishwakarma are worshipped by all Varnas, all gods, all incarnations of even Bhagvan Vishnu, Rama and Krishna included, whether when needing to build a bridge to Lanka in Ramayana time, or to build Indraprashtha for the Pandvas in Mahabharata time.

A Brahmacharya training is the key for this Varna, which is given at home, mostly because it builds upon the skills and resources already available. According to the experts, the Shudras are true praja which literally means the people of intense creativity. The foundation of such creativity is laid down during the brahmacharya period of one’s life. One would wonder the brahmacharya variations amongst varnas or even individuals for that matter!


Balram Singh is a Professor and the President of the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, researching Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedic education, and Vedic social and political traditions. He is also adjunct faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.

The views expressed are not necessarily those of The South Asian Times  

Images courtesy of (RBSI) and provided

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