Follow What Swami Vivekananda said: …
How many gushing springs and roaring cataracts, how many icy rivulets and ever-flowing streamlets, issuing from the eternal snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, combine and flow to Ganga-and rush impetuously towards the ocean? So, what a variety of thoughts and ideas, how many currents of forces, issuing from innumerable sanity hearts, and from the brains of geniuses of various lands have already enveloped India, the land of Karma, the arena for the display of higher human activities.
A veritable ethnological museum! Possibly, the half-ape skeleton of the recently discovered Sumatra link will be found on search here too. The Dolmens are not wanting. Flint implements can be dug out almost anywhere….Then there are the more historical varieties-the Negrito-Kolarian, the Dravidian, and the Aryan. To these have been added from time to time, dashes of nearly all the known races, and a great many yet unknown….An Ocean of humanity composed of these race waves, seething, boiling struggling, constantly changing form, rising to the surface, and spreading and swallowing little ones, again subsiding- this in the history of India.
From the fusion of these different types and races our modern societies, manners, and customs began to be evolved. New ideas sprang up and new sciences began to be cultivated. One class of men went on manufacturing articles of utility and comfort, either by manual or intellectual labour. A second class took upon themselves the charge of protecting them, and all preceded to exchange these things. And it so happened that a band of fellows who were very clever undertook to take these things from one place to another, and on the plea of remuneration for this, appropriated the major portion of their profit as their due. One tilled the ground, a second guarded the produce from being robbed, a third took it to another place, and a fourth bought it. The cultivator got almost nothing, he who guarded the produce took away as much of it, as he could, by force; the merchant who brought it to the market took the lions share; and the buyer had to pay out of all proportion for the things, and smarted under the burden! The protector came to be known as the king; he who took the commodities from one place to another was the merchant. These two did not produce anything but still snatched away the best part of things, and made themselves fat by virtually reaping most of the fruits of the cultivators, toil and labour. The poor fellow who produced all these things had often to go without his meals and cry to God for help!
Now, with the march of events, all these matters grew more and more involved, knots upon knots multiplied; and out of this tangled net-work has evolved our modern complex society. But the marks of bygone character persist, and do not die out completely.
The whole of the Asiatic civilisation was first evolved on the plains near large rivers and on fertile soils-on the banks of the Ganga, the Yangtse-kiang and the Euphrates. The original foundation of all these civilisations is agriculture, and in all of them the Daivi (divine) nature predominates. Most of the European civilisation, on the other hand, originated either in hilly countries or on the seacoasts-piracy and robbery forms the basis of this civilisation; there the Asuri (non-divine) nature is predominant.
The European civilisation may be likened to a piece of cloth, of which these are materials; its look is a vast temperate hilly country on the sea-shore; its cotton, a strong warlike mongrel race formed by the intermixture of various races; its warp is warfare in defence of one’s self and one’s religion….Its woof is commerce. The means to its civilisation is the sword; its auxiliary-courage and strength; its aim-enjoyment here and hereafter.
The loom of the fabric of the Aryan civilisation is a vast, warm, level country interspersed with broad, navigable rivers. The cotton of this cloth is composed of highly civilised, semi-civilised, and barbarian tribes, mostly Aryan. Its warp is Varnashramachara,*(The old Indian institution of the four castes (Brahmins, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra and four stage of life, student life, householders life, hermit life and life of renunciation) and its woof, the conquest of strife and competition in nature.
The object of the peoples of Europe is to exterminate all in order to live themselves. The aim of the Aryans is to raise all up to their own level, nay even to a higher level than themselves. The means of European civilisation is the sword; of the Aryans, the division into different Varnas (Natural caste). This system of division into different Varnas is the stepping stone to civilization, making one rise higher and higher in proportion to ones learning and culture. In Europe, it is everywhere victory to the strong, and death to the weak. In the land of Bharata every social rule is for the protection of the weak.
The name Brahmana, Kshatriya, etc…represent the status of a community in itself continuously fluctuating, even when it has reached the summit; and all further endeavours are to-wards fixity of the type by non-marriage, by being forced to admit fresh groups from lower castes or foreign lands, within its pale. Whatever caste has the power of the sword, because Kshatriya; whatever learning, Brahmana; whatever wealth, Vaishya. The groups that have reached the coveted goal, indeed, try to keep themselves aloof from the new-comers, by making subdivisions in the same caste; but the fact remains that the coalesce in the long run. This is going on before our own eyes, all over India.
……..We are, in spite of our various castes, and in spite of the modern custom of marriage restricted within the sub-divisions of a caste (though this is not universal), as mixed race in every sense of the term.
The institution of caste has always been very flexible, sometimes too flexible to ensure a healthy up rise of the races very low in the scale of culture. It put, theoretically at least, the whole of India under the guidance-not of wealth, nor of the sword-but of intellect-intellect chastened and controlled by spirituality. The leading caste in India is the highest of the Aryans – the Brahmanas. Though apparently different from the social methods of other nations, on close inspection, the Aryan method of caste will not be found so very different except on two points:
The first is, in every other country the highest honour belongs to the Kshatriya-the man of the sword….In India, the highest honour belongs to the man of peace-the Sharman, the Brahmana, the man of God….The second point is, the difference of unit. The law of caste in every other country takes the individual man or woman as the sufficient unit. Wealth, power intellect or beauty suffices for the individual to leave the status of birth and scramble up to anywhere he can. Here, the unit is all the member of a caste community. Here too, one has every chance of rising from a low caste to a higher or the highest; only, in this birth-land of altruism, one is compelled to take his whole caste along with him. If you want to rise to a higher caste in India, you have to elevate all your caste first and then there is nothing in your onward path to hold you back.
So, what is the basis of the India’s social order? It is the caste law. I am born for the caste; I live for the caste….Born in the caste, the whole life must be lived according to caste regulation. In the other words, in the present-day language…the Western man is born individualistic, while the Hindu is socialistic-entirely socialistic…, So, I have no voice in my marriage, or my sister. It is the caste that determines all that. We are married sometimes as children. Why? Because the caste says, if they have to be married anyway without their consent, it is better that they are married early….You may say, “Oh, they lose a great deal of enjoyment-those exquisite emotions of a man falling in love with a woman, and a woman falling in love with a man….”But the Hindu says, “We are socialistic. For the sake of one man’s or one women’s exquisite pleasure, we don’t want to load misery on hundreds of others”.
Our castes and our institutions have been necessary to protect us as a nation, and when this necessity for self-preservation will no more exist, they will die a natural death. But the older I grow, the better I seem to think of these time-honoured institutions of India. There was a when I used to think than many of them were useless and worthless; but the older I grow, the more I seem to feel diffidence in cursing any one of them, for each one of them is the embodiment of the experience of centuries.
A child of but yesterday, destined to die the day after tomorrow, comes to me and ask me to change all my plans; and I hear the advice of the baby and change all my surroundings according to his ideas, I myself should be a fool, and no one else. Much of the advice that is coming to us from different countries is similar to this. Tell these wiseacres: I will hear you when you have made a stable society yourselves. You cannot hold on to one idea for two days, you quarrel and fail; you are born like moths in the spring and die like them in five minutes. You come up like bubbles and burst like bubbles too. First form a stable society like ours. First make laws and institutions that remain undiminished in their power through scores of centuries. Then will be the time to talk on the subject with you; but till then, my friend, you are only a giddy child.
They say, there should be no caste. Even those who are in caste say, it is not a very perfect institution. But they say, when you find us another and a better one, we will give it up. They say, what will you give us instead? Where is there is no caste? In you nation (USA) you are struggling all the time to make a caste. As soon as a man gets a bag of dollars, he says, “ I am one of the Four Hundred.” We (India) alone have succeeded in making a permanent caste. Other nations are struggling and do not succeed. We have superstitions and evils enough. Would taking the superstitions and evils from your Western country mend matters? It is owing to caste that three hundred millions of people can find a piece of bread to eat yet. It is an imperfect institution, no doubt. But if it had not been for caste, you would have had no Sanskrit books to study. This caste made walls, around which all sorts of invasions rolled and surged, but found it impossible to break through. That necessity has not gone yet (March 25, 1896); so caste remains.
The solution is not by bringing down the higher, but by raising the lower up to the level of the higher. And that is the line of work that is found in all our books, in spite of what you may hear from some people whose knowledge of their own scriptures and whose capacity to understand the mighty plans of the ancients are only zero…. What is the plan? The ideal at the end is the Brahmana, and at the other end is the Chandala; and whole work is to raise the Chandala up to the Brahmana. Slowly and slowly you find more and more privileges granted to them. There are books where you read such fire words as these: “If the Shudra hears the Veda, fill his ears with molten lead; and if he remembers a line, cut his tongue out.” … Later on, this tone is modified a little as for instance, “Do not disturb the Shudras, but do not teach them higher things.” Then gradually we find in other Smritis, especially in those that have full power now, that if the Shudras imitate the manners and customs of Brahmanas they do well; they ought to be encouraged. Thus it is going on…Coming to plain facts we find that all the castes are to rise slowly and slowly; however, there are thousands of castes and some are even getting admission into Brahmana hood, for what prevents any caste from declaring they are Brahmanas? Thus, caste with all its rigour, has been created in that manner. Let us suppose that there are castes here with ten thousand people in each. If these put their heads together and say, “”We will call ourselves Brahmanas,”” nothing can stop them; I have seen it in my own life. Some castes become strong, and as soon as they all agree, who is to say nay? Because, whatever it was, each caste was exclusive of the other. It did not meddle with others affairs; even the several divisions of the one caste did not meddle with the other division; and those powerful epoch-makers, Shankaracharya and others, were the great caste-makers.
I do not propose any levelling of caste. Case is a very good thing. Caste is the plan we want to follow. What caste really is, not one in a million understands. There is no country in the world without caste. In India, from caste we reach to the point where there is no caste. Caste is based throughout on that principle. The plan in India is to make everybody Brahmana, the Brahmana being the ideal of humanity. If you read the history of India you will find that attempts have always been made to raise the lower classes. Many are he classes that have been raised. Many more will follow till the whole will become Brahmana. That is the plan. We have one to raise them without bringing down anybody.
The ideal man of our ancestors was the Brahmana…In Europe, there is my Lord the Cardinal who is struggling hard and spending thousands of pounds to prove the nobility of his ancestors; and he will not be satisfied unless he has traced his ancestry to some dreadful tyrant, who live on a hill, and watched the people passing by, and whenever he had the opportunity, sprang out on them and robbed them…. In India…. you are of the highest caste when you can trace your ancestry to a Rishi, and not otherwise. Our ideal is the Brahmlana and not otherwise. Our ideal is the Brahmana of spiritual culture and renunciation. By the Brahmana ideal what do I mean? I mean the ideal Brahmananess in which worldliness is altogether absent and true wisdom is abundantly present. That is the ideal of the Hindu race.
The Brahmana caste and the Brahmanya qualities are two distinct things. In India, one is held to be a Brahmana by ones’s caste; but in the West, one should be known as such by one’s Brahmanya qualities. As there are three Gunas-Sattva, Rajas and Tamas-so there are Gunas which show a man to be a Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, or a Kshtriya are dying out from the country; but in the West they have now attained to Kshatriyahood, from which the next step is Brahmanahood, and many there are who have qualified themselves for that.
With the prevalence of the Sattvika essence a man becomes inactive and rests always in a state of deep Dhyana or contemplation; with the prevalence of the Rajas, he does bad as well as good works; and with the prevalence of the Tamas again, he becomes inactive and inert…..The Sattva prevailing, the man is inactive, he is calm to be sure; but that inactivity is the outcome of the centralisation of great powers. That calmness is the mother of tremendous energy….That man of predominating Sattva is the Brahmana, the worshipped of all. Has he to go about from door to door, begging others to worship him?…. And mark you, those things which you see in pusillanimous, effeminate folk who speak in a nasal tone chewing every syllable, whose voice is as thin as of one who has been starving for a week, who are like a tattered wet rag, who never protest or are moved even if kicked by anybody-those are the sign of the lowest Tamas, those are the sign of death-not of Sattva-all corruption and stench… During these last thousand years, the whole country is filling the air with the name of the Lord, and is sending its prayer to him; and the Lord is never lending His ears to them. And why should He? When even man never hears the cries of the fool, do you think God will? …See the irony of it! Jesus Christ, the God of the Europeans, has taught: Have no enemy, bless them that curse you; … stop all work and be ready for the next world…. And our Lord in the Gita is saying: Always work with great enthusiasm, destroy your enemies and enjoy the world. But, after all, it turned out to be exactly the reverse of what Christ or Krishna implied…. Who are following the teachings of the Gita? The Europeans! And who are acting according to the will of Jesus Christ?-The descendants of Shri Krishna!
Now you understand whether there are Brahmanas in the West or not. You have Brahmanas here (in India) also; but they are bringing the country down to the verge of ruin by their awful tyranny, and consequently what they have naturally is vanishing away by degrees.
My disciples are all Brahmanas!…. The son of a Brahmana is not necessarily always a Brahmana; though there is every possibility of his being one, he may not become so. Did you not here that the nephew of Aghore Chakravarty of Baghbazar became a sweeper, and actually use to do all the menial services of his adopted caste? Was he not the son of a Brahmana.
As there are Sattva, Rajas and Tamas-one or other of these Gunas more or less-in every man, so the qualities which make a Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya or a Shudra are inherent in every man, more or less. But at time one or other of these qualities predominates in him in varying degrees and in manifested accordingly. Take a man in his different pursuits, for example; when he is engaged in serving another for pay, he in in Shudrahood; when he is busy transacting some piece of business for profit, on his own account, he is a Vaishya; when he fights to right wrongs, then the qualities of a Kshatriya come out in him; and when he meditates on God, or passes his time in conversation about Him, then he is a Brahmana. Naturally, it is quite possible for one to be changed from one caste into another. Otherwise, how did Vishvamitra become a Brahmana, and Parashurama a Kshatriya?
We find clear proofs about caste being based on qualification both in the Bhishma-parva of the Mahabharata and in the stories there of the Ajagara and the Uma and Maheshvara.
Every individual is a centre for the manifestation of a certain force. This force has been stored up as the resultant of our previous works; and each one of us is born with this force at his back.
This is the great truth which the Lord Shri Krishna, the reveller of the Gita has tried there in to explain; and upon this great truth is established the Varnashrama system and the doctrine of Svadharma, ec. Of the Hindu religion.
It is only the Vedic religion which considers way and means and lays down rules for the fourfold attainment of man, comprising Dharma, Artha (Wealth), Kama (Enjoyment), and Moksha (Salvation)….The right and correct means is that of the Vedas-the Jati-Dharma, that is the Dharma enjoined according to different castes-the Svadharma, that is one’s own Dharma, or set of duties prescribed for man according to his capacity and position-which is the very basis of the Vedic religion and Vedic society…. This Jati Dharmla, the Svadharma, is the path of welfare of all societies in every land, the ladder to ultimate freedom. With the decay of this Jati-Dharma, the Svadharma, has come the downfall of our land. But the Jati-Dharma or Svadharma, as commonly understood at present by the higher castes, is rather a new evil, which has to be guarded against. They think, they know everything of Jati-Dharma, but really they know nothing of it. Regarding their own village custom as the eternal custom laid down by the Vedas, appropriating to themselves all privileges, they are going to their doom! I am not talking of caste as determined by qualitative distinction, but of the hereditary caste-system. I admit that the qualitative caste-system is the primary one; but the pity is, qualities yield to birth in two or three generations. Thus the vital point of our national life has been touched; otherwise, why should we sink to this degraded state? Read in the Gita, “I should then be the cause of the admixture of races, and I should ruin these beings.” How came this terrible Varnasamkara-this confounding mixture of all castes and disappearance of all qualitative distinctions? Why has the white complexion of our forefathers now become black? Why did the Sattva Guna give place to the prevailing Tamas with a sprinkling, as it were, of Rajas in it? That is a long story to tell, and I reserve my answer for some future occasion. For the present try to understand this that, if the Jati-Dharma be rightly and truly preserved, the nation shall never fall. If this is true, then what was it that brought our downfall? That we have fallen is the sure sign that the basis of the Jati-Dharma has been tampered with. Therefore, what you call the Jati-Dharma is quite contrary to what we have in fact. First, read you own Shastras (scriptures) through and through, and you will easily see that what the Shastras define as caste-Dharma has disappeared almost everywhere from the land. Now, try to bring back the true Jati-Dharma, and then it will be a real and sure boon to the country.