Disclaimer: The thoughts described are just my understanding and neither facts nor proven theories, so just read it with a pinch of salt.
Another day when I read how Hinduism is all about caste and inequality. So, I just thought I’ll share my understanding of Varnas, which is considered a caste system in the Hindu religion (I’m not sure if it should be called a religion or not in the first place).
Why classification is/was required?
I have no doubt that the human mind is capable of doing lots of things, but it has its limitations. To overcome the limitation on how much we can remember/store, we try to generalize things. We classify things be it items, events, emotions, or living beings including humans.
So, while I do not exactly know how you feel when you failed, I can try to remember the moment(s) in my life where I had failed, or what implications failure had on other people’s life. And I will be able to empathize with the person or even guide her if I can.
What does it have to do with Caste or Varnas?
Varna literally could mean classification in older Sanskrit. It’s also used as a synonym for color, but guess what color is, another classification.
So, let’s say you go to a remote village/place where you don’t really know anyone. And, you need to survive there. The first thing you’ll need to do is understand how villagers function there, get a friend or two who can help you understand their ideology of life, lifestyle, etc.
If I were to talk to a random person so that I can get something done or get something that I want, it’d be great to know what the person values in life. For simplicity, I can probably classify how I can get people to do things for me.
- wants to do what (s)he thinks is best for the world.
- craves for power.
- desires wealth.
- doesn’t want anything, who just wants to enjoy life.
Now, if I were to convince these people, in the following manner respectively.
- I’ll convince the person by logic, how doing something is for the greater good and how (s)he as a part of this globe should do it.
- I’ll show the person how powerful I am, or will convince him how doing that will bring more power/strength.
- I’ll convince the person how it will bring her money or monetary benefit, or how not doing that would be equivalent to making some loss in long term.
- I can not convince her unless the person feels (s)he has no option, or not doing it will snatch freedom from her.
So, my interpretation of Varnas is lifestyles or ways of living and not the caste systems. Because you can definitely change your way of life with enough effort. I do not believe people are of specific Varna just by being born in specific families. Though, on the other hand, I do believe that environment around a child plays a vital role in the development of the child as well as how the child thinks or wants to live. So, my simplest interpretation of Varnas by their characteristics would be
A person who believes he’s part of this universe and wants to do what’s best for the universe. This is a person who is okay with doing something that hurts oneself if it’s for the greater good.
To do what’s good for the world, you need to understand what’s good for the world. Hence, this class aspires to be as knowledgeable as possible, because knowledge will guide them to understand what they should do and what they should not.
A person who aspires to gain as much power as she can, and wants to be the most powerful person (by skill). People who are okay with violence to gain control or power.
To claim and sustain power, you need to keep improving yourself in your skillset and should be open to challenging others or being challenged by others. You must be courageous and have the fighting spirit for this one.
A person who aspires to gain and gather as many assets and money as they can. Great in doing business and dealings in general.
To get the maximum benefit from something or someone, you must neglect some of the other factors like what’s right and wrong. And in a world with limited resources, your gain always comes from someone’s loss.
Considered most cunning and selfish because of their zeal and passion for getting the most benefit out of something. But to achieve this, they need to have knowledge about human behavior, business, and things revolving around these.
A person who believes in YOLO. Just thinks about personal happiness, not caring how it affects others, or oneself in the longer run. A person driven completely by instinct. This is a person you can’t reason with, and hence if you want to get something done from this person, you need to force him/her to do so. There’s no other way.
But, this class is often misunderstood. This is the most natural (nearest to nature) human. Innocent in one’s actions, no plans, no conspiracies, easily misled by instinct.
While some classes may look worse or better than others, just like houses in Harry Potter, the classes don’t define every person in that class. Each class consists of good and bad people.
e.g. A person who believes (s)he is part of this universe, could be wrong, and while (s)he thinks it’s all for a better world, but end up doing exactly the opposite (like Thanos maybe).
Similarly, a person who keeps gaining more and more money might use that for the greater good like Schindler (in Schindler’s List).