The Candid Eye

January 3, 2010

Caste system -2. Varna -the division of labor

Previous article is here.

Wherever the Chaturvarna system started, there may have been some reason for its introduction. This article investigates such possible reason and usefulness of Varna in the light of division of labor for complete progress of society.

In any work there are two types of activities involved – Physical Activity and Mental Activity. In society, there are people who preferably opt for a high or low of either type of activity. Let’s look at the Varna system from the requirements of the activity in each:-

Varna Physical Activity (in terms of outdoor work) Mental Activity (in terms of thinking, planning, Analysis) Skills needed
Khatriya – Defense High High Agility of body and constant analysis of politics
Vaisya – Trade Low High Skillful decisions and good negotiation skills needed
Sudra – Logistics High Low High Physical robustness
Brahmin – Teachers Low Low Steadiness of mind

This table shows that according to the body – mind type of a person, only certain activities can be suitable to that person. E.g., if someone is highly involved in physical activities, he or she may not be interested to sit at one place and perform chantings and give teachings. Someone who is not physically fit, cannot take up challenge of defending the nation.

If you look at the tasks required to run a nation, it will also broadly fall in the four categories:-

Defense from enemies – internal or external; Trade for prosperity and exchange of products- again internal and to the other nations; Logistics management in the entire country; Teaching of values, learning from past experiences.

Other way to see its importance is, if either of any of these categories fails, the country cannot survive – A security breach can be dangerous to the country. Lack of proper trade brings down the economy. In any war hit area, the opposing nation first hits the logistics, like roads, water channels, modes of transport and so on. The moment Teachers are not skilled, the knowledge transfer from one generation to the next generation doesn’t happen.

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