[Advaita-l] Varnashrama dharma - based on Paramarthanandaji talks.-1

kuntimaddi sadananda kuntimaddisada at yahoo.com
Wed Jul 18 20:30:10 CDT 2012

PraNAms - About Varna aashrama
dharma I am coping below with permission a write up that was put on in
Facebook. This post is only for information purposes. If you have questions to
Swamiji you should meet him in Chennai and discuss and normally he is very
easily accessible for seekers sometime even on phone. 
My praNAms to Swamiji for providing clear guidance to those seekers who are
interested -others obviously will ignore it anyway. I am posting in parts since
the write up is big. 

Hari Om!
Varna Dharma
Lecture Series: Introduction to Vedanta
Acharya: Pujya Swami Paramarthananda ji
Compiled by: Aprameyaha ji

3. Varna Dharma
- A unique design for peace and prosperity

In this session, we will discuss the important topic of Varna Āshrama
Vyavasthā. Varna Āshrama Vyavasthā can be translated as Varna Āshrama scheme.
We saw in the last session how the main aim of the scriptures is to help the
human being in accomplishing the four fold human goals. The scriptures are
willing to help those people who are willing to take the assistance of the
scriptures. There is no enforcement. Whoever has got faith in the scriptures,
however is humble enough to take assistance in the scriptures, the scriptures
provide valuable help for the humanity in accomplishing the four fold goals or
Preyas and Shreyas.

For accomplishing these four fold goals, the scriptures provide a particular
infrastructure. A country’s progress needs a proper infrastructure like roads
and communication. Vedas or the scriptures also understand the role and
importance of the infrastructure and the infrastructure presented by the Vedas
is called Varna Āshrama Vyavasthā. According to the scriptures this scheme is
the ideal scheme in which the society can or the human beings can accomplish
all the four Purushārtha. It must be remembered that when Vedas provide a
scheme, they keep in mind the spiritual and material goals of life. The western
society specialises in providing the infrastructure only for material success –
making money and providing entertainment. An infrastructure which suits only
the material success is not enough for the accomplishment of spiritual goals.
Hence the scriptural infrastructure keeps in mind both the material and
spiritual goals of humanity. This is because, according to the scriptures, mere
material success is absolutely worthless. This is what Arjuna discovered in the
battle field. Even though he was materially rich and accomplished person, his
spiritual bankruptcy came into the fore when he faced a crisis in life. And
therefore the scriptures say the material success is extremely important but it
should be equally balanced by spiritual success also and ultimately what matters
is spiritual success. A truly successful person is one who has discovered his
real spiritual nature.

And the infrastructure or the social design or scheme given by the scriptures
is called Varna Āshrama Vyavasthā. It consists of two schemes, Varna Vyavasthā
and Āshrama Vyavasthā. We will first take up the Varna Scheme for our study and
then the Āshrama Scheme.

3.1. Varna Vyavasthā

Varna Vyavasthā is a social scheme which is meant for the upliftment of, the
growth of, the prosperity of the society as a whole. Varna Vyavasthā is a
sociological scheme. It is a Macro scheme taking a society into account whereas
Āshrama Vyavasthā is a scheme in which the individual growth and success are
kept in mind. The society must also be taken into account as a whole and the
individual must also be taken into account because individual put together
alone form the society. Therefore a balance has to be struck between the
individual and the society. Hence Varna Vyavasthā is a social scheme.

In the Varna Vyavasthā the whole humanity or society is classified into four
groups or four classes. Each group is called a Varnaha. And the society is
divided into four such groups which we called Varna Vibhāgaha. Varna Vyavasthā
is a scheme in which the society is broadly classified into four groups known
as Varna Vibhāgaha. And each group serves as an organ of the society if the
society is taken as one body. Thus the society is seen as an organic whole
having this four fold organs. Those four Varnāhā
· Brāhmana Varnaha
· Kshatriyaha Varnaha
· Vaishya Varnaha
· Shūdra Varnaha

Varnaha can be translated as ‘groups’ for the time being.

What is the basis on which this division is made ? Any distinction can be made
based on any characteristic or condition. Thus whenever you talk of classification
you should ask what is the basis of classification so that I can determine into
which group I belong to. And when we look at the basis of classification, we
can see that there are three different bases or conditions on which the society
can be classified. The groups will change and my status will change based on
the norm of classification.

3.1.1.Guna Vibhāgaha

The first norm on which the society can be classified is character or
personality or inclination or trait. In Sanskrit we call it Guna Vibhāgaha –
Guna based division of society. And when you make such a division we talk about
four types of personalities and based on the type of personality, the person
will be called :-
· Guna Brāhmana or
· Guna Kashatriya or
· Guna Vaishya or
· Guna Shūdra
The above classification is purely based on personality.

The next question is what makes me a Guna Brahmana ? What personality trait
makes me a Guna Brahmana or Guna Kshatriyaha or Guna Vaishya or Guna Shūdra ?

The four traits given in the scriptures are as follows

· Spiritual Personality
· Dynamic Personality
· Selfishly Motivated Personality
· Lethargic Personality

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