Hey i am a 7th grader and am writing a paper on Hinduism. I was wondering if the caste system had anything to do with Hinduism. If so has it affected Hinduism at all?
Yes, the caste system originated from Vedas. However, the Indian society is presently following the caste system with an incorrect understanding that the caste is determined based on birth. THIS IS WRONG. Therefore, the caste system as followed by Hindus today is irrelevant and it is a social evil.
Caste System as prescribed in Vedas is relevant to the whole world. It will do good to the society to follow this caste system. More details on this is given below.
Thanks for asking this question. I congratulate you for attempting to understand Hinduism. I wish you get complete understanding while writing your paper. In case you have any further doubts, please do not hesitate to ask me. You may even send your final paper (as a private question to me) and I will be glad to give suggestions for improvements.
Lesson 6: Prescribed Duty / Chosen Profession
Human beings are different from each other. Their attitude, aptitude, skill, capabilities and personality vary widely. All of them are engaged in some action or the other all the time.
The type of action that is appropriate for each individual is called his Prescribed Duty. It can either be allocated to him by the society or be chosen voluntarily by the concerned individual. In the later case, it is called Chosen Profession. In either case, once the duty is assumed, it becomes the primary responsibility. One should do his best all the time in the Prescribed Duty/ Chosen Profession.
Teaching 33: Everyone should be engaged in a Chosen Profession
People who are less intelligent resort to Prescribed Duty without a conscious decision to do so.
Example: A cobbler is carrying on his profession because he is trained in the same profession since his childhood. He does not know any other trade and therefore, he continues to be a cobbler. It is his chosen profession/prescribed duty.
However, when people grow intellectually they develop capabilities to do multiple jobs. In which case, it might be difficult to identify the Prescribed Duty. Following are the criteria, which will be of help in identifying the Prescribed Duty.
Criterion 1: Core competence and not Likes and Dislikes
Everyone is equipped to do some tasks better than the others. This unique capability is called core competence. Depending on what one is good at, one should select his profession.
In this way, the services of everyone will be very efficient and effective.
Example: A man can hunt the animals for food more effectively than a woman can. A woman can rear the children more effectively than a man can.
The Prescribed Duty is decided based on this core competency.
It is difficult or impossible to change the core competency in one lifetime. It is possible that the core competency will be relevant in more than one profession. In such a case, one has freedom to choose any profession that is based on his core competency as his chosen profession.
Criterion 2: Natural liking
This is the most important criteria based on which one’s profession can be chosen. One should enjoy doing the job.
Example: I like this job very much because it pays lots of money. This is incorrect.
Money should not be a criterion to decide on the chosen profession. If one is willing to take up a particular job even though it pays less, it may be his prescribed duty.
One should enjoy doing the job all the time. If someone is doing his prescribed duty, he will not feel the passage of time. He should be able to work for long number of hours without getting mentally tired.
Assuming a person has all the wealth in the world still he might continue to be engaged in a particular profession. It is his chosen profession.
Chosen profession is one in which one is willing to work even if there are many hurdles to it.
Example: I spend 3 hours commuting to work and I do not want to quit this job because I like it.
Thus, one should be willing to take additional trouble for the sake of being in the chosen profession.
Criterion 3: Required skills and capabilities
It is not enough if one likes the job. One should be qualified to do the job at a level of performance, which is above average.
Example: I would like to be a design engineer but I do not have engineering qualifications.
In general, people get to learn more about their profession of their choice and they are bound to gain required skills and capabilities. Therefore, this particular criterion may not be a hurdle if someone actually likes the job.
Criterion 4: Chosen Profession is not based on likes and dislikes
If one likes a profession without having the required skills and capability, then it should not be taken up as a Chosen Profession. It can utmost be a hobby. Likes and dislikes will keep changing according to the environment but the natural liking and the core competency are fixed for the lifetime.
It may take some time and external guidance to distinguish between a wish and natural liking. While some know their natural liking from the young age, others take time to identify. Some may have to take up some profession and try their hands on it before deciding whether it could be their chosen profession.
Natural liking of the profession and Core competency in the profession should co-exist to make a profession as a chosen one.
Since inaction is not possible, one should try to do action in the Chosen Profession. Converting Karma into Karma Yoga is possible only if one does his Prescribed Duty/ Chosen Profession and not otherwise.
There are three distinct elements (Aura, Energy and Matter), which make up the inert objects and the ratio in which these three elements are mixed varies from person to person causing wide variations in the personalities.
Teaching 34: Three elements determine the personality of the individual
Similar to the four lifestyles, Vedas have prescribed four broad professions based on the composition of mind. Mostly people belonging to a particular family will have similar traits. However, there can be exceptions. Without considering these exceptions and in the absence of proper understanding of the scriptures, Indian society has inherited a caste system based on this recommendation.
Teaching 35: Four groups of Chosen Professions are recommended
The four groups are called Brahmin, Ksatriya, Vaisya and Sudra. This grouping is not based on birth. It is based on ratio in which the basic three elements, AEM are composed. It may so happen that people choose a profession that is not in line with his personal nature. In such cases, there will be conflict between the nature of the person and the demand of the chosen profession. This will cause avoidable tension and confusion.
Example: A Brahmin (based on the nature) joining army will feel fish out of water.
Therefore, depending on the nature of the person, Vedas have recommended following four professions so that the demand of the profession is perceived as a natural outlet for action.
Example: Swimming is not considered to be a work for a fish.
1. Brahmins are Aura Dominant: Writing, teaching, consulting, designing and such staff functions are suitable for this group of people.
2. Ksatriyas are Energy Dominant supported by Aura: Managing, leading, controlling, organizing, delivering and such line functions are suitable for this group of people.
3. Vaisyas are Matter Dominant supported by Energy: Doing business, trading, banking and such independent professions are suitable for this group of people.
4. Sudras are Matter Dominant: Agriculture, construction and such manual labor oriented jobs are suitable for this group of people.
Once prescribed duty is chosen according to the nature of the person as suggested by Vedas, one should keep doing the duty to the best of his ability. Everyone is bound to act all the time since inaction is not possible in the creation. Such action is better to be done in the area of chosen profession so that the individual can convert his karma as Karma Yoga and proceed towards the goal of Joyful Living.
Teaching 36: Chosen Profession should be in line with the personality
Lord Krishna is asking Arjuna to fight, since fighting is his prescribed duty.
Chapter 3: Karma Yoga Verse: 8
3.8 Perform your prescribed duty, for action is better than inaction. A man cannot even maintain his physical body without work.