Karma And Varna Essay, Research Paper
What is the relation, if any, of the concept of varna to the concept of karma?
Of karma to the doctrine of reincarnation? The concepts of varna and karma are
each closely related to the eastern civilization religions of Hinduism,
Buddhism, and Jainism. Varna and karma go hand in hand with each other to
explain themselves, as does karma with the doctrine of reincarnation. The
complicated explanation of all of these concepts follows. In order to understand
the concept of karma, one must first understand the term varna. An appropriate
definition would be the rise of class system, which the Hindus adhere to. An
English translation of varna, however, is simply the word ?color? (Noss 87).
There are four social classes that break down the class system otherwise known
as varna. Beginning with the highest class, there is the Brahmins or priests,
followed by the ruling Kshatriyas, the Vaisyas (common people), and finally the
Shudras (servants). The Brahmins said that if one was a member of any of the
first three classes to be extremely careful to avoid the Shudras (Noss 87). Now
that we have somewhat of an understanding of varna, the concept of karma can be
more easily explained. Karma simply stated is that the way one lives his or her
life now determines destiny or fate. In other words, the consequences of one?s
actions in this life will determine what they do or become in the next life.
Therefore, karma is what made one who he or she is in the present life due to
the actions the person portrayed in his or her previous life. Karma is the cause
of one?s destiny in the future life, and is what caused a person to be who he
or she is today. Now we will explain the relationship between varna and karma.
Let?s imagine the following situation. There are two people living in the
Vaisyas class of commoners. One of them does only good deeds, has good thoughts,
and portrays an all around good sense of well being. The other person commits
crimes, has bad thoughts, and portrays an over all sense of evil or no good. The
first person will perhaps become a member of the Kshatriya class, moving up on
the wheel of samsara. The other person will most likely become a Shudra in the
next life. So, perhaps in their most recent previous lives. the first person
was a good person of the Shudra class, and samsara declared that he or she rise
in class; and the second person may have been a bad person of the Kshatriya
class, therefore he or she declined in class. There are endless possibilities,
but the relationship between karma and varna is obvious here. Simply stated,
karma determines varna. Next we will look at the doctrine of reincarnation as it
relates to karma. Reincarnation is an easier concept to grasp than karma.
Reincarnation can be defined as the never-ending time line of life. In other
words, we all have been someone or something else before or present life began,
and after the present life is over, we will become someone or something else
again. Karma is what determines who or what we will become. Karma develops our
own fate and destiny for reincarnation. The life one lives now determines what
he or she will be reincarnated as. Just as karma determined varna, karma now
determines reincarnation. Just incase, these ideas are the true meaning of the
after-life, I suppose I shall adhere to good karma so that maybe in my next life
I can be a member of the highest class.
Kushwaha (sometimes, Kushvaha ) [ 1 ] is a community of the Indian subcontinent. which has traditionally been involved in agriculture (including beekeeping ). [ 2 ] The term has been used to represent at least four subcastes, being those of the Kachhis. Kachwahas. Koeris and Muraos. They claim descent from the mythological Suryavansh (Solar) dynasty via Kusha. who was one of the twin sons of Rama and Sita. Previously, they had worshipped Shiva and Shakta .Demographics Myths of origin
Today, the Kushwaha generally claim descent from Kusha, a son of the mythological Rama, himself an avatar of Vishnu. This enables their claim to be of the Suryavansh dynasty but it is a myth of origin developed in the twentieth century. Prior to that time, the various branches that form the Kushwaha community - the Kachhis, Kachwahas, Koeris, and Muraos - favoured a connection with Shiva and Shakta. [ 3 ] Ganga Prasad Gupta claimed in the 1920s that Kushwaha families worshiped Hanuman - described by Pinch as "the embodiment of true devotion to Ram and Sita" - during Kartika. a month in the Hindu lunar calendar. [ 4 ]Classification Shudra varna
The Kushwaha were traditionally a peasant community and considered to be of the stigmatised Shudra varna. [ 5 ] Pinch describes them as "skilled agriculturalists". [ 6 ] The traditional perception of Shudra status was increasingly challenged during the later decades of British Raj rule, although various castes had made claims of a higher status well before the British administration instituted its first census. [ a ] Pinch describes that "The concern with personal dignity, community identity, and caste status reached a peak among Kurmi, Yadav, and Kushvaha peasants in the first four decades of the twentieth century." [ 8 ]Identification as Kushwaha Kshatriya
From around 1910, the Kachhis and the Koeris, both of whom for much of the preceding century had close links with the British as a consequence of their favoured role in the cultivation of the opium poppy. began to identify themselves as Kushwaha Kshatriya. [ 9 ] An organisation claiming to represent those two groups and the Muraos petitioned for official recognition as being of the Kshatriya varna in 1928. [ 10 ]
This action by the All India Kushwaha Kshatriya Mahasabha (AIKKM) reflected the general trend for social upliftment by communities that had traditionally been classified as being Shudra. The process, which M. N. Srinivas called sanskritisation. [ 11 ] was a feature of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century caste politics. [ 10 ] [ 12 ]
The position of the AIKKM was based on the concept of Vaishnavism. which promoted the worship and claims of descent from Rama or Krishna as a means to assume the trappings of Kshatriya symbolism and thus permit the wearing of the sacred thread even though the physical labour inherent in their cultivator occupations intrinsically defined them as Shudra. The movement caused them to abandon their claims to be descended from Shiva in favour of the alternate myth that claimed descent from Rama. [ 13 ] In 1921, Ganga Prasad Gupta, a proponent of Kushwaha reform, had published a book offering a proof of the Kshatriya status of the Koeri, Kachhi, Murao and Kachwaha. [ 6 ] [ 14 ] His reconstructed history argued that the Kushwaha were Hindu descendants of Kush and that in the twelfth century they had served Raja Jaichand in a military capacity during the period of Muslim consolidation of the Delhi Sultanate. Subsequent persecution by the victorious Muslims caused the Kushwaha kshatryia to disperse and disguise their identity, foregoing the sacred thread and thereby becoming degraded and taking on various localised community names. [ 6 ] Gupta's attempt to prove Kshatriya status, in common with similar attempts by others to establish histories of various castes, was spread via the caste associations, which Dipankar Gupta describes as providing a link between the "urban, politically literate elite" and the "less literate villagers". [ 15 ] Some communities also constructed temples in support of these claims as, for example, did the Muraos in Ayodhya. [ 4 ]Classification as Backward Caste
Some Kushwaha reformers also argued, in a similar vein to the Kurmi reformer Devi Prasad Sinha Chaudhari, that since Rajputs and Bhumihars and Brahmins worked the fields in some areas, there was no rational basis for assertions that such labour marked a community as being of the Shudra varna. [ 16 ]
Kushwahas are classified as a Most Backward Caste (MBC) in some Indian states. [ 17 ] In 2013, the Haryana government added the Kushwaha, Koeri and Maurya castes to the list of backward classes. [ 18 ]References
Any of the four traditional social classes of Hindu India.
One of the hymns of the Rigveda declares that the Brahman. the Kshatriya. the Vaishya. and the Shudra issued forth at creation from the mouth, arms, thighs, and feet of Prajapati. Traditional lawmakers specified a set of obligations, observed mainly in theory only, to each varna: the Brahman, to study and advise; the Kshatriya, to protect; the Vaishya, to cultivate; and the Shudra, to serve. An unofficial fifth class, the pancama. was created to include certain untouchable s and tribal groups falling outside this system. The relationship of the caste system to the class system is complex; individual castes, of which there are dozens, have sought to raise their social rank by identifying with a particular varna, demanding the associated privileges of rank and honour.
More meanings of this word and English-Russian, Russian-English translations for VARNA in dictionaries. Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
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Here is your essay on the Varna System in India !
There had been confusion about the concept of Varna and it is identified with Jati although Varna is far from having the same meaning as the Jati. The Varna system was conceived not as caste but as a class organization.
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Varna is from the root ‘vri’ which means choice according to inherent traits. Varna seems to have been the division of the society in the Rig Vedic times when there were four classes. These classes were Brahmin. Kshatriya, Vaishya and Sudra. It is found from the Vedic literature that Varna meant the color of the skin according to which society was divided into four classes. These classes were based on the distinction and differences between the white or the Aryans and the black or the Dravidians.
Another view point means to acceptor to profess. In this senses Varna represents the occupational groups into which Hindu society was divided. So we can have at least two interpretations of the concept of Varna: First Varna has been used as colour of the skin and it been means the classification of society on the racial differences: second, Varna means the division of society on the occupational differences. The functional of each Varna were specially laid down.Varna in Classical Literature:
There are passages in Vedic literature regarding the Varnas. There is a hymn in ‘Purusha Sukta’ of Rig Veda which says that the Brahaman Varna represents the mouth of the Purusha or the universal man, Kshatriya Varna forms his arms, the Vaishya forms his thighs and the Sudra, his feet. The division into four Varnas is related to the duties assigned to each Varna. Accordingly, each Varna had to pursue a particular vocation. It appears that the original part of the Vedas did not know about the caste system and the caste system came latter on. In Rig Vedic society there was no restriction on an individual regarding a particular occupation. Persons belonging to a particular Varna could accept and practise any profession they liked. A Brahmin could take the profession of a physician. Similarly, there was no restriction regarding food, drinking or diet among Varnas. Besides, there were no restrictions on inter-marriage between the different classes of the Aryan race. Hence, the Varnas w’ere “open classes”. The classes were not watertight compartments. These classes were based on individual traits and not on birth.Views of Sociologists on Varna:
We shall discuss the views of some sociologists regarding the concept of Varna.View of J. H. Hutton:
Hutton says that the concept of Varna is often confused with the concept of caste or Jati although caste and Varna have different meanings. The Varna seems to have been originally the four classes. In Vedic times, the line of demarcation between the various classes was not considered essential. A Kshatriya could become a Brahmana. At the time of Vedic invasion, the four Varnas represented a division of society into four classes, namely the Brahmanas who acted as priests, the Kshatriyas who were rulers, the Vaishyas who acted as priests, the Kshatriyas who were the servant class. Certain colours are associated with the four Varnas. The Brahmanas have white colour, the Kshatriyas red, the Vaishyas yellow and Sudras black.View of G. S. Ghurye:
Varna means distinction. In the beginning we find that there are two classes in Hindu society, the Aryas and the Dasas. Ghurye has written, “In the Rig Veda, the word Varna is never applied to any one of the classes (Brahmana, Kshatriya etc.). It is only the Arya Varna or the Aryan people that is contrasted with Dasa Varna. The Satapatha Brahmana, on the other hand, describes the four classes as four Varnas. Varna means colour and it is in this sense that the word seems to have been employed in contrasting the Arya and the Dasa, referring to their fair and dark colour respectively. He is of the opinion that the distinction between the Arya and Dasa was latter responsible for the distinction between Arya and Sudra.
In the Vedic age we find the division of society into three classes, namely Brahmana, Kshatriya and Vaishya. Only in the later Vedic period, a mention has been made about the fourth Varna of Sudras. In the Vidic age, there were only four Varnas and untouchables had no place in the Varna system.
In brief, the three classes of the early portion of the Rig Veda were latter solidified into four groups, more or less compact, with three or four other groups separately mentioned.
According to Ghurye, the term Varna has been used to denote the colour scheme of the different sections of the society. Since the Aryans came from outside India and conquered the indigenous population in India, they occupied a higher social status and the people who were defeated got the lowest position in the society. In this way, Ghurye has adopted the racial theory of the origin of the Varna system.View of ML N. Srinivas:
Prof. Srinivas is of the opinion that the caste system is a very complex organization and it should not be identified with the Varna system. There are only four Varnas but there are above three thousand castes. The distinction between the caste and Varna system is that the caste is a local group, whereas the Varna system has an all India basis. Similarly, there is no mobility in the caste system, whereas the Varna system is mobile. According to him, the Varna system conceals the diversity between the caste system of one region and that of an other.Different Varnas:
Although the different Varnas were open classes and were based on the individual traits, there were distinctions between various Varnas on different grounds. The distinctions between the four Varnas can be shown on many grounds. The four Varnas were addressed in different ways and different degrees of politeness. For example, when»welcoming a person, different terms were used, namely. Agachehha, Adrava etc. Similarly, the Gayatri mantra was to be recited by the three Varnas in different ways. The Brahmin started the mantra with ‘Bhuh’, the Kshatriya with Bhubah and the Vaishya with Swah.
We also find distinction between Varnas on the basis of type of wood for sprinkling purposes as a sacrifice. The Kshatriya us Nyagrodha wood and the Vaishya uses Aswattha wood. In this manner, the distinction between the different Varnas in terms of different rites and privileges can be seen in the Rig Vedic literature to Brahminic literature, that is to say, transition of society from the Vedic age to the Samhitas, from the Brahminic to the Upanishadic age.
As far as the Sudras were concerned, they still held the position of the menial labour or slave because they were still non-Aryans. In the late period, the four Varnas have been mentioned. Although the Sudra was accepted as belonging to the fourth Varna, he was not quite free from disability because he could not perform a sacrifice which the higher Varnas did.The Origin of the Varnas:
There are different theories regarding the origin of Varna. We shall mention some of them.The Theory of Parasara:
According to Parasara, the vVhole of mankind has emerged from the Brahmana. It is the law of nature that the children share the common nature of their parents and therefore all the men have been of the same Varna when they were created. The question arises as to why there is distinction between the various Varnas. Parasara replies. It is true that the offspring begotton by one is none else than the begetter himself, but if the soil and the seed are inferior, the offspring born of these will be inferior. Parasara says that mankind has originated from the great Brahmana himself but all sections of society did not emerge from the same parts of the body. The Brahmana have emerged from the mouth, the Kshatriya from arms, the Vaishya from thighs, and the Sudra from the feet. Originally, the four Varnas were created and the other classes were the result of inter – mixture. Parasara has given a list of fourteen subclasses.Theory of Mahabharata:
In the Mahabharata, the origin of the Varna has been described from the various parts of the body of the creator. The Brahmana originated from the mouth of the Brahma or the creater, the Kshatriya from his arms, the Sudra-from his feeUhe Brahmana was created to preserve the Vedas, the Kshatriya to rule the world and to protect it, the Vaishyas to support the other two Varnas and himself by agriculture, and the Sudras to serve the other three Varnas.Theory of Manu:
According to Manu Smiriti, the four Varnas have been created from the limbs of the creator. To protect the universe, different duties and occupations were assigned to the different Varnas. Brahmana Varna has been regarded as the supreme creation of God. Manu has asserted that the Brahmana, the Kshatriya, the Vaishya and the Sudra are the only Varnas in existence and there is no Pancham Varna.
1. What are the origins of the concepts of varna and jati, and why has the varna-jati system of social organization lasted so long? What social needs did they serve, and how are these social functions addressed in our culture?
During the Vedic Age of Indian civilization, it is believed that after the collapse of the Indus Valley civilization some of the kinship groups and patriarchal families migrated into India. As some within the Aryas tribe (light-skinned) entered into the Ganges Valley, they encountered a struggle with the Dasas tribe (dark-skinned) but managed to force the tribe into southern India. The struggle between the tribes led to the development of the Varna class system. Under this system, people were born into one of the four Varna’s: Brahmin was the class of priests and scholars; Kshatriya was warriors; Vaishya was merchants; and Shundra was peasants and laborers. The fifth group was the Untouchables; they were outside the system because of the nature of their work. The work was considered polluted as it dealt with dead things and cremations (Bulliet, et. 2011).
Now, the Varna was divided into groups and subdivided into jati’s: order of hierarchy. Under the hierarchy, were complex rules that governed the different occupations, duties, and rituals of each Jati as a well as regulations concerning interaction between people of different Jati (Bulliet, et. 2011). The system served to assign occupations to the Varna and Jati in which each individual belongs; and the system separated the members of the different Varna and Jati into a system of purity and impurity. Purity restrictions occurred in the areas of marriage, drink, food and touch.
The system of Varna and Jati lasted because many of the practices and attitudes were indoctrinated into the Hindu people, rules for social behavior, and the philosophy of reincarnation. The belief was every individual has an immortal spirit that will be reborn in.
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