Let us for the time being leave the extraordinary talents aside and understand the common person who may not manifest any special talents in his life. Every person has some interest of his own right from childhood which the parents may also encourage. As the child grows he sees some great people who are highly successful in that field and he also reads about the life of people who attempted and became a failure. On one side he is inspired by the people who are successful but develops enormous fear of failure looking at the bigger number of people who failed. Many a times the influence of people who failed cast such great fear in parents they tend to become overcautious. That is why most people’s advices are very defensive. They say follow the middle path and do not venture into adventures.
The wonderful hereditary occupation based caste system took care of this. It gave a wonderful opportunity for the child to flower out its talents without these fears of failure. The system was so carefully organized that it could help every one to grow in the right direction with pride. In this system, society was divided into four types (castes) Brahmana, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra. The Brahmanas to carry out the intellectual functions as a teacher in all walks (both worldly and spiritual knowledge) and his duty was to protect the human value systems of the society as a guide to all other sections of the society. Hence he had to live a life of austerity with regular spiritual and yoga practices so that he could remain in tune with higher laws of nature and guide the society in the right direction. The Kshatriyas were the kings with enormous administrative skills and had to nurture physical valor, intelligence for strategic planning and the pride of protecting the entire community including the Brahmins. Trade and business was the occupation of the Vaishya community. Shudras were craftsmen (Blacksmith, goldsmith, architect, house keeping etc) and constituted the larger section of the society who had the responsibility to implement every thing through hard work and labor. When the system was designed this way there was no choice for the child born in one family to think of any new occupation that would create fear. This facilitated the person to get the necessary training right from his childhood .Over generations the skills of the family would snowball to move towards excellence. Thus, when a soul with a particular talent chose to enter the womb of the mother and took birth in that family the opportunities to express the talent were so congenial that the journey of the soul would become very easy. It facilitated a natural and systematic evolution and the child could easily find the opportunity to carry on further research in the same field of activity which his father was doing. Thus a doctor’s child could easily become a better doctor with some new innovations, a king’s son had the opportunity to be a better king and so on and so forth. Thus there was a vertical and horizontal matrix created so that there was social harmony. Every village therefore had all these four castes catering the needs of all types of people through clearly defined duties for each family group. This arrangement gave a very deep alignment in every individual and left no adolescent in a state of insecurity as it is happening today. In India today after the materialism and the foreign rule took over we have lost this system completely to the extent that we blame the caste system for the entire decline that India went through over the past two centuries. There was a systematic intellectual planning and brain washing by the British to erase this strongly protected system of the Indian society. The brain washing was done by introducing the concept of ‘high and low’ in this caste system. They used it as a strategy to win over the Indian minds and succeeded to rule India. This has become so much ingrained into the Indian system today that an adolescent feels ashamed to continue his father’s occupation and wants to venture into something different, more challenging, and more adventurous and ends up with the fear of failure. He loses his wonderful opportunity that was provided naturally through the family tradition. Modern management researchers from UK and Harvard are trying to study this caste system that had protected the Indian society over centuries.
This caste system was evolved taking into consideration the basic tendencies and preferences of a person which is called ‘gunas’. Let us now understand this concept of ‘triguna’ the three gunas that is necessary for balance and harmony in the society.
The law of triguna
It is very interesting to see how our ancient people of wisdom understood the creation as a whole in Sankhya philosophy. This is the concept of tri gunas which is translated roughly as three basic qualities. Using this concept of ‘guna’ we can divide the entire creation under three types. Creation includes not only the objects but animals human beings food and even the activity. Every thing in this creation, sentient and insentient, can be classified under three categories (gunas) namely Satva, Rajas and Tamas. We can understand this in this way that every plant has three components they are roots in the soil, the stem or trunk of the plant or the tree in between and the flowers fruits and foliage in the sky. The roots are tamas, the trunk is the rajas and the flowers and foliage is the satva. Accordingly since the roots are always in the darkness the darkness is called tamas, since the trunk is protecting the plant and constantly working in distributing the sap and organizing every thing of the plant in the place these kind of activities are also called as rajas, and finally the flowers and foliage are soft and colorful and having nice fragrance etc these qualities are called as satva. The roots are always in the soil and feed on the slush and dirt and the roots are tamas therefore the food which is petrified and causes dullness is all categorized into tamas. Tamas is also dullness and gravity. Dull and slow animals are called as tamas and aggressive type of animals are called rajas and the food they take are also called as rajas and those animals who are soft and gentle these animals are called as satva. Similarly the people in the society can be divided very systematically based on their deep inner nature or the gunas into satva rajas and tamas. These gunas are not arbitrary divisions in case of human beings but they are based on very deep inner psychology of a person and left to themselves what their predominant behavior.
Every individual is a combination of these three gunas in different proportions. Every individual like every plant has all the three gunas. In human beings they are in some proportion with one of the gunas predominating. Like his feet are tamas which carry the weight of the body all the time and goes through rough terrain, his stomach heart and the middle portion of the body is rajas which is constantly distributing the energy through out the body and is constantly working without any rest or respite and the head which is responsible for thinking and scheming and planning is satva. In the same way what happens in side of the body the human being also decides based on the gunas what he has to do outside. At different times he manifests one guna or the other depending on the requirement. Thus guna governs most of what we do. Let me explain this. When anyone is tired and needs sleep he resorts to his tamas guna so that he can enjoy his sleep. The same person when he has to think or plan for any activity he takes to satva whose very nature is analyzing and thinking. One may think of just simple travel he has to make or a big activity like planning an industry. Both involve thinking. Both involve satva. Similarly one uses rajas when he needs to get exited or irritated or perform intense activity. A harmonious blend of these gunas is a state of perfect balance and health. None of us are perfect in this mastery and blend of the gunas and we all have some predominance of one or two of these gunas. When this is used in the right way with mastery then the life goes on with health and happiness. For example if a person is predominately satvic then he would spend his time happily in doing satvic activities that involves thinking and soft emotions. He may be a scientist or a teacher. This kind of work would give him fulfillment according to his guna.
In Sanskrit language a ‘man’ is called PURUSHA which is Puri + isha. Puri means a city or a country and ‘isha’ means ‘the master’. Thus the body is the city in which we live as a master. Just like the body is a living organ the city is also a living system. Just like these three gunas are used by the person to carry on all activities of the body all activities of the social system also goes on with harmonious blending of these three gunas. Only when all these gunas are used efficiently and harmoniously the city can be healthy. In order to carry on these activities we require people who are having those qualities and will enjoy doing those activities. Thus we have people who are predominantly satvic and those who are predominantly rajasic and those who are predominantly tamasic in nature and they manage these activities according to their gunas and the society will grow harmoniously. The satva predominant families who were the teachers and spiritual masters were classified as Brahmins ; Vaishyas who looked after trade and business were also predominantly satvic persons with an additional component of rajas that was necessary for travel and hard work of carrying the goods etc. Kshatriyas’ duties were to protect righteousness and be physically and mentally very strong and hence were predominantly rajasic people. Shudras who were a combination of tamas and rajas were assigned the job of carrying on the routine duties in the society.
We saw the play of gunas in the society and human beings. Every thing else in nature sentient or insentient, are also made of these gunas. The sages said that all these gunas are necessary for the creation to continue. What is necessary is a wonderful harmony in these gunas. The beautiful blend of these gunas is ensured by the laws that govern the entire creation. This is the programmed functioning of the creative or cosmic intelligence (Ishwara or God) which we see in the universe starting from inanimate things that follow the laws of physics and also the living systems that follow biological (Darwinian) laws. But as we evolved as human species nature bestowed us with higher faculties of the mind that has introduced the wonderful component of freedom and mastery over these laws. By wrong usage of this freedom we have successfully messed up the programmed functioning of these gunas. We have succeeded in posing a big problem to even the creator! As long as a human being accepts and functions according to his or her nature then there will be no problem. But trying to tamper this balance by misusing the mastery over these basic qualities or gunas it can create a major imbalance within leading to diseases or in the whole society creating social and environmental problems. When one tries to imitate others and takes up jobs or activities that does not suit his/her nature then problems arise.
Until recently (150 years back) in India we had a well planned society and the caste system was functional. The education, occupation, and their contribution to the society were well defined and beautifully set based on their gunas. That way the society also had at any point of time people working the jobs which was harmonious to their nature and which is also required in the society. there were always competent rulers doing the rajasic work of ruling and competent intellectuals to carry n the satvic work of advising thinking and inventing and businessmen doing the rajasic work of distributing the material wealth and those who are tamas predominance who could happily do the labor work. With such an arrangement the society was very harmonious. This harmony was helpful for the future evolution of an individual during the next birth too. For example a person in a Brahmin community will have deep rooted impressions which are in harmony with Brahmin practices and when such a person dies the soul does not have to struggle for searching a suitable family to be born. The soul will be able to choose very easily another Brahmin family. This understanding of the gunas that control the whole of the universe and our human system was so good that people started evolving a method of predicting how, where and when a child will be born and what will be the tendencies of the person even from the time of its birth and developed into a big science. The soul would not be confused to choose parents and come back to take birth. I wonder we pay a great importance to select a dog or a horse and look at its father and mother for several generations but when we choose a boy or girl we do not look into what are their immediate parents. According to ancient Indian system the soul will look at the parents before choosing the birth.
- to be continued...
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