Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Few thoughts on Varnashrama system

Few thoughts on Varnashrama system: "

There requires a certain pool of young people in particular ratio for effective functioning of varnashrama. If that ratio is disrupted, the varnashrama system breaks down to suffer various inglorious fates like its despicable conversion to birth based caste system (as happened with "Hindus") OR en masse abandoning of the dharma (as happened with buddhists and other dharmiks in Sindh and Bengal after Islamic conquests) OR migration (as happened in many places and times, including partition and Kashmiri Pandit problem).

What that ratio should be, what were thoughts of various sages on ratios of different times and places need to be seen.

Before I proceed, here is the disclaimer. The terms Brahmin-Kshatriya-Vaishya-Shudra are used strictly in professional sense. I am aware of certain castigating remarks on Shudras and women in books like Manu smriti and hence the book is worth condemning and abandoning. However, the classification of a complex society in intellectuals, politicians & military, Merchants and workers is seen in all the societies. While it remains based on "Guna-Karma (interest and profession)" of individuals, in India, it became rigidly birth-based in past 1000 years which led to all the social evils. I am simply using the Sanskrit terms (Brahmin-Kshatriya-Vaishya-Shudra) instead of English ones to make following argument. Thank you.

In my humble opinion, at least 8% of society should be Brahmin class (scientists, policy makers, professors, philosophers, poets, writers, thinkers, researchers). 16% kshatriyas (military, paramilitary, police force, spies, sportsmen, politicians, ministers), 24% Vaishyas (self employed people) and 50% of society should be workers (People who take salary, from public OR private sector). Men and Women included.

2% should be roaming saints, sanyasis, sadhu baba, bhikkhu, tantriks, fakirs and similar people.

It is extremely essential to have a large pool of self employed people (small, medium, big businesses, farmers etc) to maintain multipolar society inherent in concept of dharma. I am not claiming my figures in above paragraph are from standard texts, they are simply my thoughts. The problem arose, as said earlier, when this ratio is disturbed by one reason or another.

Here is a mental exercise -

If India today had 8% intellectuals, then that figure would be approximately 10 crore. 1 intellectual per 10-15 people is a healthy teacher-student ratio. There would be about 20 crore kshatriyas. 1 crore of armed men are essential for protecting subcontinent (afghanistan to myanmar, tibet included) internally and externally. Rest can be politicians, police, ministers (2-3 crore more). If there are 15 crore sportsmen in country, it will tremendously boost the fitness level and health of entire dharmik community. This is seen by presence of gymnasiums in all villages since ancient times. These sportsmen are also part time warriors and teachers with some occupation thus form second line of defence in case first one falls.

40 crore independent businessmen in various fields and occupations. All dharmashastras categorically state that upper limit of taxation should be 16% in peacetime and 25% in wartime. Each of them taxed only 16% by government, thus providing incentive to find new ways of getting rich. These people pay remaining 60-70 crore people their salary. Vaishya class patronize various sportsmen, events and intellectuals. They are coaxed to donate money again and again, plus they are the ones who usually built lakes, dharma-shalas, roads which facilitated their trade in country and abroad.

Now, what happens if this ratio is disturbed?

If brahmins decrease, knowledge level of society goes down, if kshatriyas decrease then fitness and sovereignty goes down, if vaishyas decrease economy goes down and if Shudras decrease then first technical expertise prevalent in society goes down and then entire system goes down. Shudras form the basis, the foundation of this bottoms up system. Vice-versa if any of them increase too much, then too we have similar destabilizing problems. The epics and medieval period from guptas to ghori shows efficacy of this fully functioning system at its optimum.

History shows this is what happened. Islamic narratives are filled with mountains of "Shikha" and "Yajnopavitams" after massacres of inhabitants of many cities. Kshatriya women folk going in purdah and committing johar. This resulted in blatant compromise on principles by surviving brahmins and Kshatriyas thus gradually converting gunakarma based varnashrama system into birth based caste system. This led to gradual increases in atrocities on lower castes by upper castes which rendered lower castes soft targets for ideologies seeking forcible converts.

There requires an education system which trains every pupil with best of all four Varnas. Thus, everyone will have all characteristics and will be able to switch either of the characteristics on as time demands. Perhaps, this is what is hinted in Purusha-Sukta which says all four segments of society are present in one single body of Samaaj-Purusha.