Introduction to Varnashram Dharma

After completing the life of a student, let a man become a householder.
After completing the life of a householder, let him become a forest dweller,
let him renounce all things. Or he may renounce all things directly from the student state
or from the householder's state, as well as from that of the forest dweller.

Sukla Yajur Veda, Jabala Upanishad 4.

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    In all cultures of the world for practical social structure, society has a natural division according to the propensity of the individual persons in the community.

Just like with any body no-one would be foolish enough to say that one part of the body has greater importance or significance than another. A head is useless without a body; as feet are useless without a head, etc.

If each  of the social limbs co-operatively work toward the benefit of society under the sanction of the Lord, we have a very healthy society - body.

If any of the limbs becomes unruly it can cause a disturbance or dysfunction to the entire health of the rest of the body.

We have seen that in some places in the world the feet (sudra - working classes) revolt and create an artificial system like communism, but then again someone usually abuses the situation and within that idealistic structure a group like the KGB sets up an elite......
    When the belly (vaishya community - merchants, farmers, bankers, etc) become dominant without good guidance, again there are situations that arise where they colonize and exploit, or put others into slavery, or impose trade sanctions, or create recessions, depressions and even wars, just to control the economy. By democratic right the unqualified, unworthy masses demand of their elected and equally unqualified politicians lower taxes, higher incomes, and shorter working weeks, etc.....
    When the so-called kshatriyas (the military, administrative persons) become dominant or try to control by their nature they use military force, coups, and political uprisings to gain what they want, and then impose high taxes upon the people so they can live a  life of luxury, etc......
    When the brahminical (priestly, intellectual classes) get out of sync' they too cause social problems. They expect a life of luxury and demand all comforts and contributions, while themselves give very little back to society. Often because of a lack of austerity (personal discipline) they fall prey to all the sinful activities they are meant to be guiding their congregations to avoid (sexual perversions, intoxication, hoarding wealth - gambling, haughtiness, greed, abuse - of both man, child and beast, etc).

A proper balance in social structure maintains purity and sanity in society (keeps away social diseases), just as proper bathing of our bodies keeps away physical disease.
    All this is explained in the qualities of the four social bodies in the 18th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita (BG 18:41-44.

çüdräëäà ca parantapa
karmäëi pravibhaktäni
svabhäva-prabhavair guëaiù
(Bg 18:41) according to their individual nature's.
çamo damas tapaù çaucaà
kñäntir ärjavam eva ca
jïänaà vijïänam ästikyaà
brahma-karma svabhäva-jam
Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness—these are the natural qualities by which the brähmaëas work. Bg 18:42.
çauryaà tejo dhåtir däkñyaà
yuddhe cäpy apaläyanam
dänam éçvara-bhävaç ca
kñätraà karma svabhäva-jam
Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity and leadership are the natural qualities of work for the kñatriyas. Bg 18:43.
vaiçya-karma svabhäva-jam
paricaryätmakaà karma
çüdrasyäpi svabhäva-jam
Farming, cow protection and business are the natural work for the vaiçyas, and for the çüdras there is labor and service to others.Bg 18:44.
sve sve karmaëy abhirataù
saàsiddhià labhate naraù
sva-karma-nirataù siddhià
yathä vindati tac chåëu
By following his qualities of work, every man can become perfect. Now please hear from Me how this can be done.
Bg 18:45
yataù pravåttir bhütänäà
yena sarvam idaà tatam
sva-karmaëä tam abhyarcya
siddhià vindati mänavaù
By worship of the Lord, who is the source of all beings and who is all-pervading, a man can attain perfection through performing his own work. Bg 18:46.

PURPORT by Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta swami Prabhupada.
As stated in the Fifteenth Chapter, all living beings are fragmental parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord. Thus the Supreme Lord is the beginning of all living entities. This is confirmed in the Vedänta-sütra—janmädy asya yataù [Srimad Bhagavatam 1:1:1]. The Supreme Lord is therefore the beginning of life of every living entity. And as stated in the Seventh Chapter of Bhagavad-gétä, the Supreme Lord, by His two energies, His external energy and internal energy, is all-pervading. Therefore one should worship the Supreme Lord with His energies. Generally the Vaiñëava devotees worship the Supreme Lord with His internal energy. His external energy is a perverted reflection of the internal energy. The external energy is a background, but the Supreme Lord by the expansion of His plenary portion as Paramätmä is situated everywhere. He is the Supersoul of all demigods, all human beings, all animals, everywhere. One should therefore know that as part and parcel of the Supreme Lord one has his duty to render service unto the Supreme. Everyone should be engaged in devotional service to the Lord in full Kåñëa consciousness. That is recommended in this verse.
Everyone should think that he is engaged in a particular type of occupation by Håñékeça, the master of the senses. And by the result of the work in which one is engaged, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Çré Kåñëa, should be worshiped. If one thinks always in this way, in full Kåñëa consciousness, then, by the grace of the Lord, he becomes fully aware of everything. That is the perfection of life. The Lord says in Bhagavad-gétä (12:7), teñäm ahaà samuddhartä. The Supreme Lord Himself takes charge of delivering such a devotee. That is the highest perfection of life. In whatever occupation one may be engaged, if he serves the Supreme Lord he will achieve the highest perfection.

çreyän sva-dharmo viguëaù
para-dharmät sv-anuñöhität
svabhäva-niyataà karma
kurvan näpnoti kilbiñam
It is better to engage in one’s own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly. Duties prescribed according to one’s nature are never affected by sinful reactions. Bg 18:47.

PURPORT by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
One’s occupational duty is prescribed in Bhagavad-gétä. As already discussed in previous verses, the duties of a brähmaëa, kñatriya, vaiçya and çüdra are prescribed according to their particular modes of nature. One should not imitate another’s duty. A man who is by nature attracted to the kind of work done by çüdras should not artificially claim to be a brähmaëa, although he may have been born into a brähmaëa family. In this way one should work according to his own nature; no work is abominable, if performed in the service of the Supreme Lord. The occupational duty of a brähmaëa is certainly in the mode of goodness, but if a person is not by nature in the mode of goodness, he should not imitate the occupational duty of a brähmaëa. For a kñatriya, or administrator, there are so many abominable things; a kñatriya has to be violent to kill his enemies, and sometimes a kñatriya has to tell lies for the sake of diplomacy. Such violence and duplicity accompany political affairs, but a kñatriya is not supposed to give up his occupational duty and try to perform the duties of a brähmaëa.
One should act to satisfy the Supreme Lord. For example, Arjuna was a kñatriya. He was hesitating to fight the other party. But if such fighting is performed for the sake of Kåñëa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, there need be no fear of degradation. In the business field also, sometimes a merchant has to tell so many lies to make a profit. If he does not do so, there can be no profit. Sometimes a merchant says, “Oh, my dear customer, for you I am making no profit,” but one should know that without profit the merchant cannot exist. Therefore it should be taken as a simple lie if a merchant says that he is not making a profit. But the merchant should not think that because he is engaged in an occupation in which the telling of lies is compulsory, he should give up his profession and pursue the profession of a brähmaëa. That is not recommended. Whether one is a kñatriya, a vaiçya, or a çüdra doesn’t matter, if he serves, by his work, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Even brähmaëas, who perform different types of sacrifice, sometimes must kill animals because sometimes animals are sacrificed in such ceremonies. Similarly, if a kñatriya engaged in his own occupation kills an enemy, there is no sin incurred. In the Third Chapter these matters have been clearly and elaborately explained; every man should work for the purpose of Yajïa, or for Viñëu, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Anything done for personal sense gratification is a cause of bondage. The conclusion is that everyone should be engaged according to the particular mode of nature he has acquired, and he should decide to work only to serve the supreme cause of the Supreme Lord.

saha-jaà karma kaunteya
sa-doñam api na tyajet
sarvärambhä hi doñeëa
dhümenägnir ivävåtäù
Every endeavor is covered by some fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work born of his nature, O son of Kunté, even if such work is full of fault. Bg 18:48.

PURPORT by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.
In conditioned life, all work is contaminated by the material modes of nature. Even if one is a brähmaëa, he has to perform sacrifices in which animal killing is necessary. Similarly, a kñatriya, however pious he may be, has to fight enemies. He cannot avoid it. Similarly, a merchant, however pious he may be, must sometimes hide his profit to stay in business, or he may sometimes have to do business on the black market. These things are necessary; one cannot avoid them. Similarly, even though a man is a çüdra serving a bad master, he has to carry out the order of the master, even though it should not be done. Despite these flaws, one should continue to carry out his prescribed duties, for they are born out of his own nature.
A very nice example is given herein. Although fire is pure, still there is smoke. Yet smoke does not make the fire impure. Even though there is smoke in the fire, fire is still considered to be the purest of all elements. If one prefers to give up the work of a kñatriya and take up the occupation of a brähmaëa, he is not assured that in the occupation of a brähmaëa there are no unpleasant duties. One may then conclude that in the material world no one can be completely free from the contamination of material nature. This example of fire and smoke is very appropriate in this connection. When in wintertime one takes a stone from the fire, sometimes smoke disturbs the eyes and other parts of the body, but still one must make use of the fire despite disturbing conditions. Similarly, one should not give up his natural occupation because there are some disturbing elements. Rather, one should be determined to serve the Supreme Lord by his occupational duty in Kåñëa consciousness. That is the perfectional point. When a particular type of occupation is performed for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord, all the defects in that particular occupation are purified. When the results of work are purified, when connected with devotional service, one becomes perfect in seeing the self within, and that is self-realization.

(quotes taken from Bhagavad Gita As It Is by Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. BBT International, VedaBase. )

Daivi-Varnashrama - Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Room conversation in Mayapura, February 14th, 1977
Varnashram Solutions - discussions with His Divine Grace A C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

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