Thursday, July 21, 2005

Roles in the society

I was working in Rome during spring 2004. All my friends and colleague were Romans and other Europeans. We had lots of parties together, and in one, we started discussing about each of our cultures.

Some of them already had an idea of the Indian society, and rest all of them just had a view that India is a country of rich heritage and defined society.

I got a lot of queries from them wanting me to explain the social split up they had heard of [the caste system].

I went on to explain the reasons that would have put this system in place. The communitist society that prevailed that time, specialized roles, interdependent living, ‘you take care of my security, I will take care of your finances!’ I projected the essence of the whole system.

Later I went on to describe how the system was exploited by invaders to discriminate people and establish the Divide and Rule policy. Also how the system was later misused by vested interests for personal needs and the strength of the modern society to cleanse the discriminations.

That apart, everybody seemed to be convinced about the positive points of the system. One guy told, this was an ideal system, to bring in harmony in the society. Other was trying to associate the current western society in to the ChaturVarna blocks, and was surprised on how well, it fit.

Then I went on to explain the strict rules prescribed for each division, in order to prevent misuse of the system. Like isolating knowledge and money, by canonizing the Knowledge class to beg for their next meal went down with a big surprise.

Then suddenly one of my friends asked
“Hey, to which level do you belong to?”
“I belong to level 1”.
“Wow! You belong to level 1! That’s great!! We have got a prince amidst us!!!”
“What?I am not from the Royal, I am from the humble begging Knowledge class”
He looked puzzled!
“Then you said you belong to level 1??”

And this the biggest surprise everybody had that evening! A society developed thousands of years ago, giving priority to learning and knowledge ahead of the rulers of the land!!


At Thu Jul 21, 10:07:00 AM CDT, Anonymous lxsn said...

Begging knowledge class... thats not the rite way to put it... atleast of late..
We are transforming in fact transformed into " begging for knowledge " class... by being born in the so called level-1 we have become the most unpriveleged and unfortunate group of people in this country. Reservations.. reservations... reservations .... in every field doors are almost shut for us in the name of reservations under the argument that we savoured the priveleges long long ago and thrashed the other levels.. Our kids are not able to pursue in their field of interest even if they crack the exams with more than 90% when people from other levels can make it with a bare minimum.. By bringing in the :" cut off " system , the a******s are trying to "cut us off" from the society. How much are we supposed to compete ? This is not healthy competition cos there s discrimination in this system . Hatred and jealousy towards the level-1 has taken the form of such reservation policies..Don u feel the fundamental right of a level-1 child is denied?

So Nowadays i don find ane pride in being in level-1. We can just boast of the superiority we have achieved due to birth.. We were considered ahead of the rulers of the land.. but where are we now? And this can be one of many many reasons for the intercaste marriages.. brahmin girls going out of their way.I was pretty shocked when one of my close Brahmin friend in college told me.. " If i marry him, my son or daughter can show a MBC . And u know well how much it wud mean for him/her".

what is going to be the "roles in the society" for our future generations when in another few years reservations are going to be in place even for Kindergarden classes.


At Thu Jul 21, 11:01:00 AM CDT, Blogger TJ said...

very acidic views lxsn!!

Reservations, i undestand are for the weaker sections to move up. I understand lot of people are mis using it. But for social equality, nothing establishes as much as our scriptures does it. Please read my earlier post on purushasooktham

At Thu Jul 21, 02:15:00 PM CDT, Blogger Kasthuri Srinivasan said...

"A society developed thousands of years ago, giving priority to learning and knowledge ahead of the rulers of the land!!"

Very well said. I could recollect Swami Vivekananda's words along these lines. It
is something like this " If there is any land where kings would bow to ordinary man with knowledge, that is India"

At Thu Jul 21, 05:11:00 PM CDT, Blogger Ganesh said...

First time
thanks for visiting and your nice comments.
BTW being tambram in TN is not a good thing ennaseyaradhu :(

At Thu Jul 21, 06:05:00 PM CDT, Blogger ranganathan said...

romba nalla irukku.......

aaana 'knowledge' mattum pothuma tj:-)

At Thu Jul 21, 07:25:00 PM CDT, Blogger RS said...

And meanwhile in India, The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) called for 'purging' all religious scriptures of 'offending' and 'obsolete' texts propagating untouchability and division on caste lines.

And I guess the ‘suck’ularists will keep clipping away until there is nothing recognizable of our scriptures!

So what's the end point? Do we just keep changing our scriptures or updating it to keep up with the times? Then they will be just like our school history books and not scriptures!

At Thu Jul 21, 08:14:00 PM CDT, Blogger ada-paavi!!!! said...

begging knowledge class i agree, 4get the fact we r disadvantaged, but still the others r afraid of us, which is there is this reservation and stuff,
its true that level 1 guys stilldo excel in knowledge areas.
indian philosophy is far more advanced thanwestern thinking even 1000 yrs ago, very true, enna nambaooru makkaluku than adu teriyala, we r going western, they r going indian\eastern

At Fri Jul 22, 02:38:00 AM CDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...


nice post, Being a member of the knowledge-seeking cum begging class, I feel that the shift in focus from knowledge to material benefits has wrought much damage upon the so-called Brahmanas. I understand from the Gita that each of the 4 varnas had a particular preponderance of GUNAS according to the samkhya system and the duties prescribed to them were a matter of aptitude.
the duty of a brahmana according to Gita chapter 18 is
shamo, dama, tapa soucham, kshaantiraarjavam eva cha
jnaana vijnaanam aastikyam
Brahmakarma svabhavajam!
if we so called level-1's adhere to this simple prescription given by the great lord Krishna himself, we can arrive at the truths seen by the giants like Vyasa and the illustrious sages of the upanishads and also get rid of the blemishes acquired during the medieval ages.
knowledge is considered to be the most purifying thing according to KRISHNA.
being a tam-brahm in chennai is well... fine as long as you do not lead a public or celebrity life. the methodical deprecation of vedic religion is indeed going on and this can be prevented only if the brahmanical establishment realises the need for following Krishna's advice and not what they interpret of it.

At Fri Jul 22, 04:30:00 AM CDT, Blogger Ranj said...

TJ: Nice post. Linking this on my blog's entry about Levels of the Society! :)

At Sat Jul 23, 06:34:00 AM CDT, Blogger TJ said...

There is no part or view of indian philosphy tha can be expressed today, which has not been told by Swami Vivekananda. It would not be wrong if i say, his thought process was equivalent to the combined of all the indian thinkers of today.

Being a TamBram in TN is definitely not a pleasant feeling today. The roots of a Bram are not in the soil, it is in his way of life and thought.[appam vadai thayirsatham by balakumaran elaborates on this]

Knowledge mattume podhaadhu. Aanal naan unakku knowledge tharein, nee enakku padhukappu thaa endru vaazhvadhu, creates a socieity with clearly defined roles. It is like one person in the house cooks for all, one does shopping for all, one does domestic chores for all is a form of specialized management when compared to everybody shopping, cooking and doing daily chores for themselves. Enna solreenga?

You have raised a very valid point. Our scriptures are at great danger if they are edited. That is why they have always been trasferred in Karna parambara[based on hearing], and not on texts.
It is required to reinterpret the scriptures and not rewrite them.

Well Said, when everyone here is turning to east, people there are looking towards west. Never before in the history of mankind has so much people hate a so little.

Yes, Anand. Definitely there needs to be active and positive steps from the Vedic community to preserve the heritage. Lot of self realization proactivenss is required. But hasnt the situation in tamilnadu improved considerably than during the periyar days?

Thanks for visiting and for refering this site. Keep coming

At Tue Oct 16, 09:40:00 AM CDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats pretty cheeky of you assuming Brahmans are Level 1. They depended on the patronage of the kings, else who will build the temples for people to come in and drop their money and listen to the Vedas allowing for the priestly profession to pay for its bread. Kings have always been Level 1.

When the invaders with the "Divide and Rule" policy came to India they didnt understand the class structure here. So they asked somebody to articulate it. No King would do that as that would be giving into your enemy. So a "knowlegable" Brahmin quickly realising the power of these new set of Kshatriyas decided to articulate it into a simple minded "Level" system. Where they put the Brahmanan conveniently on top. And thus earn the thanks of these soon to be new traders later rulers.

Sorry TJ for all the air around absolving the sins of others and offering of pujas etc., its just another profession. In every other culture that had a caste system similar to Hinduism and I mean the Egyptians and Mayans (early Hindus??). The priestly class was never Level 1. But more or less Level 3 after the army.

Everybody possesses "knowledge" of some sort. And people treasured their knowledge (fighting, cooking, finance etc.,) just as in any profession since it guaranteed them bread.

But the richest and most powerful was the King (Level 1) and in Hinduism thats a Kshatriya. Who keep those ecomomies going by providing security and a system for knowledge to flow and be used. Therefore Level 1.

Come to think of it. The richest guys today are Kshatriyas (I think thats the rulers caste) turned corporate leaders who employ Brahmins, Vysyas, Sudhras to work for them as managers and employees. So thats who rules.

Of course everybody knows that now. Hence even Brahmins have become secular (funny to think of upholders of Hinduism as secular) and have moved to professions where you can make money and hopefully become a business leader. Since thats (you guessed it) where the real Level 1 lies.

To come full circle the reservation policy is not just to allow education to Sudras to rise up economically and socially. The concept of reservation also is to cause Brahmins and other self-segregated castes to intermingle and stop in-breeding. And that's what shocks "lxsn" in his comment above who clearly can't handle that his self identity will go away. But thats whats going to happen eventually as long as democracy prevails.


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