The Gita talks of 4 Varnas or categories into which the 4000 odd Kulas or castes can be accomodated.
The Varnas of Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaisya, Sudra were based on Guna (nature) and karma (work) at least in the design stage.
The Kulas and jathis are primarily identified by birth and maintained by inter-marriage within that kula.
There are no 4 varnas today… and definitely none that people are aware of. A highly educated girl of the kamma caste and a highly educated American born boy of the kayasth caste innocently asked me what Varna they belong to. I told them rather reluctantly what Varna they would have belonged to had they belonged to end of dwapara yuga or beginning of kali yuga. But not today.
Today the situation is very different. Today a kamma belongs to the kula of N.T. Rama Rao, and a kayasth belongs to the kula of Amitabh Bacchan. They are highly educated, accomplished, wealthy and powerful communities.
Today when the newspapers talk of Agra Kulas or Upper castes they mean kammas and reddis in Andhra and Vokkaligas and Lingayats in Karnataka. Not about the brahmins and kshatriyas. Only a foreigner with mixed-up timelines would think otherwise.
At some point in history when tribes encountered each other and fought, it is likely that some tribe W or some tribe B, won. As more tribes clashed we can imagine that some form of alliance and hierarchy formed among these tribes… not a lasting hierarchy but a keenly contested and changing hierarchy. I can only imagine that the winning tribes had either stronger teams, greater technology or better strategy…
Once some tribes won, they evolved systems where by they could stay at the top without fighting everyday.. some form of treaties.. I would imagine. However things never stay one way forever and the clashes continued and continue till today. The clashes are between the tribes or kulas or castes.. between gene pools.
With the French revolution and American Civil War there was a general awareness of “human equality” and those in power fought on the side of their “ideological tribes” against their own “classes and races” and established a new order. With the British rule and english education, our thinking nationalist leaders embraced those ideas and stuck them in our constitution. It was not an “organic” change from bottom-up but and enforced change from “top-down”.
As a consequence, in cities, people of all kulas go to the same schools and work for the same organisations and are bound by the same laws (dharma sastras of this century).
So they meet and fall in love and often succeed in getting married. This is leading to a new set of problems and questions with parents and communities. To the clashing tribes/kulas/castes this looks like outright treachery and raises very strong primordial emotions in the hearts of the families and communities. There are street fights generally resulting in beatings and sometimes resulting in deaths.
Of course sometimes the grandparents on either side rally around once the grandchildren happen and that is much desired.
Which side am I on?
If all Indians and all Hindus blended into one community… that would makes us stronger both genetically and internationally. I believe that blending is the need of the hour.. but this could be a naive thought. I think people will always organise themselves into groups if not on caste/race lines then on lines of gender, or jobs or region or language or something else and fight for a better deal for their groups.. so that they get a better deal for themselves and their children.
I think conflicts are inevitable as long as different human beings want different things.. or the same thing for that matter. And when there is conflict there is victory and there is defeat. And then there are challenges to the victors to keep their positions. People will continue to do what they want and find justifications for it.
The fault being with Brahma. It is said that when he created ideal men .. the Sanat Kumaras.. they refused to marry and get involved in worldly affairs. Brahma was in no mood to create millions of individual people so he created the prajapatis with a bit of desire, greed, anger etc thrown in. And they were happy to get married and have children and establish kingdoms. However each generation was a little greedier on average than the previous one and finally people got so messed up that a periodic pralaya was called for at the end of each day of Brahma and a fresh creation at the beginning of each of his days!
Something like the “comment pralaya” I do when comment threads deviate from the purpose of the post!
My other posts :
- Brahmans Then and Brahmins Now.
- British presence, influence, interference, distortions and legacy
- Hinduism Abroad
- Indian Caste System: Then and Now: Jati, Varna, Kula
Authorship and Copyright Notice : All Rights Resrved : Satya Sarada Kandula