Monday, January 10, 2011

Division of society

Growing up I’d often felt how unfair it was that the society in India was divided into classes; with the lower ones being treated condescendingly by the higher echelons. So while reading the Gita when I came upon the chapter that talks about class division it touched a nerve. It enlightened me on why it’s necessary and the way it is today is how the mankind evolved it. It was not designed by God to be this way.

We need brains to solve an issue, muscle power for protection, food and money to nourish the brains and body; and hard work to produce the food. Society is like our body. The brahmins are the brain of the body, kshatriyas the arms, vaishyas the thighs and shudras the feet. Thus each and every class is important for the smooth functioning of the society. They’ve all been born off the body of God and hence all are equal. There’s no question of one superseding the other.

Each class has it’s own qualities but these qualities are neither to be used for personal gains nor to rule over the other classes.

The position of the brahmin is the highest. He’s the one who makes the rules of the society. He’s the teacher and the enlightened one; but he’s not the one who earns money or punishes anyone. Nor does he indulge. Selfishness is completely absent from his life. He eats simple food and gains as well as disburses knowledge. He uses whatever the society gives him.

Kshatriya is the ruler – he punishes the sinner and rewards the Samaritan. It’s his duty to protect the society and religion. Even though he punishes, he is not the creator of the rules. He just follows the rules made by the brahmins. According to the rules, he collects the taxes from the public and spends it for public benefit.

Vaishya is the one who possesses money, farms and animals. He earns money and finds way to increase it. His life is made easy by the rule of the kshatriyas and the knowledge of the brahmins. He happily pays his taxes, serves the brahmins and donates clothes etc. to shudras.

Shudras by nature are more in number as compared to other classes. They’re more physically skilled than mentally. Hence they perform the physical work of the society. Just like the body can walk because of the feet, the society can function because of the physical work of the shudras. In return for his services, the vasihya gives him money, kshatriya protects his money and brahmin shows him the righteous way.

Hence each class has its own function. Just like a factory. A factory has workers, engineers and managers. They all have their work cut out for them based on their skills. If any one category stops working then the factory can’t do production. So they’re all equally important.

After reading this it made so much sense that our society was divided into classes.


Anonymous said...

How did it all fail?

peeyush said...

It failed because some people got greedy. Brahmins got greedy about the position/stature in society, kshatriya's got greedy about power and vaishya's got greedy about money.

BTW, these models still exists but with different labels though :)

Smriti said...

@Peeyush: Thanks for answering :)

@Anonymous: I agree with Peeyush - it was the greed that led to the downfall. So predictable, isn't it?!?