Saturday, December 4, 2021

God and Good God

  • Caste, a meaningless concept

God is perceived in Hinduism in two ways. Some consider Him formless, and without any qualities (Nirguna Brahma). He is indescribable, beyond understanding and beyond words. Only Jnanis on the path of Wisdom meditate and experience Him.  Many others on the path of Karma (Duty) or on the path of Bhakti (Devotion) believe that God has qualities like benevolence and that he likes good people and punishes bad people (Saguna Brahma). All these people worship God in their favourite form or idol though they agree that God is one. Followers of these two paths have to practice rituals prescribed by religion.

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Three qualities

There are three qualities (gunas). Satva, Raja, Tama gunas. Satva is being good and leading a pious life. Those who possess good character are said to be having Satva guna and such people are called Brahmins (followers of Brhma). They are teachers and advisers on righteousness. Those who have physical power and control evil are said to have a combination of Satva and Raja gunas. They are called Kshatriyas (kings) and they use their might to see that all follow righteous path (Dharma).The third category of people has a combination of Raja and Tama qualities. They are said to be Vaisyas. They were farmers and maintained cattle. They produced food for all people. They became the merchant class in course of time as they found more profit in exchanging goods rather than in producing them. The fourth type of people has Tama quality. They are skilled workers practising all other professions and are called Sudras. This division of men into four categories, according to Krishna, is based not on birth but on their qualities and the work they do (“guna, karma vibhagaha”). Since all are created by God no one is superior or inferior to anyone. A point to note is that these four are Varnas and not castes.

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Marrying in the same profession

Hinduism has no castes. People who followed a particular profession married only people from their own profession for economic reasons. The inherited professional knowledge and expertise of a potter’s daughter would be wasted if she married a carpenter’s son. In a society in which both men and women shared work she would become a liability. If she marries a potter’s son she would be an asset to the family. So marriages took place between people in the same profession and this economic convenience is later wrongly given a religious colour and was called caste.

If we understand these realities caste becomes a meaningless concept as today anybody can follow any profession. Politics based on caste will disappear.

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Rajendra Singh Baisthakur
Rajendra Singh Baisthakur had been a Lecturer in English. He is a poet, critic and translator. His interests are Literature, Philosophy and social media.

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