What's your VARNA quotient?
What's your IQ? What's your EQ? These days we are also asked what your SQ (spiritual quotient) is. These IQ, EQ, SQ etc are available today only to measure our aptitude, emotions, spirituality etc. But there is a quotient that was discovered thousands of years ago in India, which is based on natural order of things. It is the Varna quotient that is simple, logical and provides a template to understand oneself.
BY: Rām Lingam
The Indian sourcebooks and the extensive body of knowledge explain these categories. They are very clear about these concepts and candid in its explanations, duties, responsibilities etc.
Lord Krishna says in his Gita (ch-4, verse 13) that “The fourfold-varna (Chaatur-varna) has been created by Me according to the differentiation of ‘GUNA’ and ‘KARMA’; though I am the author thereof know Me as non-doer and immutable.”
To call Varna as caste simply shows a lack of research and an intellectual myopia. In fact there is no such word as ‘caste’ in the Indian vocabulary. It was coined from the word Portuguese word ‘Casta’ by the Portuguese invaders during their maiden voyage to India in the 16th century. The British in India simply continued using this incorrect word.
The generic definition of the term ‘Varna’ comes from ‘Vriyate Iti Varnaha' implying that one can choose the group and occupation based on your innate tendencies. "Just as a wooden toy elephant cannot be real elephant, and a stuffed deer cannot be a real deer, so, without studying scriptures and the Vedas and the development of intellect, a Braahmana by birth cannot be considered a Braahmana" says the Manu Smriti. A hymn from the Rig Veda goes to the extent of saying, "No one is superior, none inferior. All are brothers marching forward to prosperity".
Swami Vivekananda explains “Take a man in his different pursuits, for example: when he is engaged in serving another for pay, he is in Shudra-hood; when he is busy transacting some piece of business for profit, on his account, he is a Vaishya; when he fights to right wrongs then the qualities of a Kshatriya come out in him; and when he meditates on God, or passes his time in conversation about Him, then he is a Braahmana. Naturally, it is quite possible for one to be changed from one Varna into another. Otherwise, how did Vishwamitra become a Braahmana and Parashurama a Kshatriya?”
The ancient Varna system may or may not be in ideal practice, but it's a flexible natural order of mankind and makes sense even today. In fact many sections of society follow this naturally without any such stratification. The Varna quotient basically makes us who we are and what we do, in line with our inner callings. So what's our dominant mental temperament - your Varna quotient? Are we the kind of a "Braahmana", a "Kshatriya", a "Vaishya" or a "Shudra"? There is obviously no right or wrong answer. There is only a true answer that only we know of. That determines who we really are inside despite how we want to see ourselves as.
Ram Lingam blogs his insights on India and Indian culture at www.indiasutra.co.nz