Every individual has the right to walk the spiritual path. – Chinmaya
According to the above quote, if all have the right to practise spirituality, then why in scriptures it is said that a Brahmana alone has the right to practise spirituality?
To answer this question, a detailed analysis of the caste system becomes unavoidable.
According to the scriptures, human beings are divided into four castes: Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. These divisions are made based on 1.Guna 2.Karma and 3.Jaati
1. Based on Jaati:
Jaati means birth. So if a person is born in a Brahmana community, he is called Jaati-Brahmana; another person is Jaati-Shudra because of being born in a Shudra family.
Now, who is superior among the four Jaatis?
The scriptures say that by birth, none is superior. Just because a person is born in a particular family/caste, he doesn’t become superior/inferior. Hence by Jaati/birth, all are equal.
2. Based on Karma:
Karma means profession. Based on one’s profession four divisions can be made.
They are the intellectual class in the society. They have a sharp intellect and therefore they have been blessed with the ability to think deep in a particular subject. They become the think-tanks in any organisation. The philosophers, the research scholars, the teachers, the scientists, the engineers, the doctors, the lawyers – all belong to this category.
They are good organisers. They are able to inspire people for the chosen task. They have a charismatic personality and great leadership qualities. They are successful as politicians, as executives, as army officers and so on.
They are the people who are very good at finance. They are good fund-generators. Handling money is in their blood. They convert the bankrupt organisations into profit-making ones. They know when and where to invest. They become successful businessmen.
They are the people who have neither the deep-thinking ability, nor the leadership quality, nor the profit-making capacity. But they are blessed with a strong physical body. Hence they form the worker-class serving the above three through their physical labour in farming, construction work and other such services.
Now, who among them is superior?
The scriptures say that none is superior. All are equal. All four are necessary for the smooth functioning of any system – be it a family, a community, an organisation, or even a nation. We need people who can think deeply and plan the project; we need people who can execute the well-thought-out plans; we need people who can provide monetary help for project-execution, and we also need people who can physically toil at the worksite to transform the plan on the paper into a solid physical reality. Among the four, even if one section of the society becomes unavailable, the whole project will fail to materialise.
Hence all four categories of people are equally important in any society.
3) Based on Guna:
In scriptures, three gunas are mentioned: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
Sattva stands for peace/purity, Rajas stands for activity and Tamas stands for inactivity.
Based on the gunas, the classifications are as follows:
Their personality can be represented as S>R>T. That is, they are the people who have maximum Sattva and minimum Tamas. Hence they are pure, selfless, loving, compassionate, cooperative, humble and virtuous. They have a peaceful and cheerful mind. They have the right understanding of life.
Their personality make-up is R>S>T. In them, Rajas dominates, and next comes Sattva. They are highly active and restless. But since Sattva backs Rajas, they are selflessly active. They work hard for the welfare of all.
They have the personality in this order: R>T>S. Rajas makes them highly active. But since Tamas backs Rajas, they are selfishly active. The only question they ask before any work is “What will I get?” They work hard for name, fame, power, position and everything else that helps them boost their ego.
Their personality can be described as: T>R>S. Since Tamas is predominant in them, their first preference is always to sleep or idle away the time. Lethargy, carelessness, laziness, forgetfulness, inadvertence etc. can be found in them in abundance. Unless the boss is behind, they hardly work. They work only in choiceless conditions and only for meeting the basic necessities of life. They are the dull and stupid ones in the society who, because of their wrong understanding of life, harm others and in the process harm themselves too.
Now, who among these four is superior?
No doubt Guna-Brahmana alone is superior. A Guna-Brahmana has a Sattvic, pure mind – an instrument which is necessary to realise God. Hence he is next only to God and therefore the most worshipful among all the four.
A person may be a Jaati-Brahmana but a Guna-Shudra. Another one may be a Jaati-Shudra but a Guna-Brahmana. An IAS officer who is corrupt is a Karma-Brahmana, but a Guna-Vyshya. A corrupt politician is a Karma-Kshatriya, but a Guna-Shudra. A lazy poojari (priest) in the temple is a Karma-Brahmana and Jaati-Brahmana but a Guna-Shudra.
The scriptures don’t ask us to change our Jaati or Karma. We need not change our caste or profession. But everyone must strive to become Guna-Brahmanas.
Shabari and Sant Chokhamela were Jaati-Shudras. Purandaradas and Tukaram were Jaati-Vaishyas. Ambareesh, Meera Bai and Arjuna were Jaati-Kshatriyas. But all of them, through their single-pointed devotion for God became Guna-Brahmanas.
Everyone has the choice to become Guna-Brahmana, irrespective of their caste, creed, nationality, religion, gender or profession.
Everyone has the right to walk the spiritual path. But not all are eligible to walk the spiritual path. To become eligible, one should become a Guna-Brahmana – a pure-hearted one.
May we make ourselves eligible to walk the path of spirituality by becoming Guna-Brahmanas – the pure-hearted ones – and thus be a Brahmana in the true sense of the word mentioned in the scriptures.
O M T A T S A T