The Caste System Of India

The Caturvarna in The Typical Stage

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The Caturvarna in The Typical Stage :

The symbol of the cosmic godhead had now to be effected in the life of the community. This could be properly done if each personality type (Swabhava) was allowed to follow rightfully its spontaneous law of action (Swadharma) and discover its suitable socio-economic function (Karma). This ideal eventually resulted in the development of a social order based

  1. Primarily on temperament and personality-type (guma) with a corresponding ethical discipline and

  2. secondarily on the social and economic function that suited the personality-types.

Thus the symbolic stage passed into a typal stage of social cycle where the psychological and ethical elements predominated while the religious and spiritual ideas were relegated to the background. This was necessary for otherwise the symbol would have remained utopian and elusive. However, while the psychological and ethical factors became more and more important, the original symbol of the direct expression of the cosmic godhead in man receded to the background and finally disappeared from practice and even from the theory of life. The chief utility of religion became more social than spiritual and instead of expressing the Universal Spirit, it merely came to serve as a reference for ethical disciplines enshrined in the Dharma-idea.

It is interesting to observe how psychological differentiation based on the Gunas (the universal determinative forces to Indian philosophy known as Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas) helped to form the fourfold social order. The Gunas are universal modes to energy which constitute human behaviour in dynamic interaction with the environment. Sattwa is the mode of balance, harmony and intelligence. Rajas is the mode of action of and movement. Tamas carries the seed of inertia and negation of intelligence. The three qualities are in present in every individual in variable degrees but one or the other predominates at a particular phase of life. Man meets the battle of life in the manner most consonant with the Guna dominant in his nature. The purely Sattwic man seeks primarily for himself a principle of law, poise, harmony, peace and satisfaction with a sense of inner detachment from life. If however, the sattwic man has an admixture of the Rajasic impulse, then the poise and harmony can be universalized to vindicate a victory for peace, love and harmony over the principle of war, discord and struggle. The predominantly Rajasic man fights the battle of life for his own egoistic assertions : to slay, conquer, dominate and enjoy. However, with a certain admixture of the sattwic quality, he can make the struggle of life a means of increasing inner mastery, joy, power and possession. The Tamasic man on the other hand succumbs to the play of the world – forces. If he is supplemented by other qualities (Sattwa, Rajas), he can at best continue to survive somehow without making any progress. The ‘Gunas’ therefore determine the ‘Karma’ and the Caturvarna in the Typal stage is actually a Guna-KarmaVibhaga. The law of individual action (Swadharma) is in consonance with the dominant action of the Guna. Subbannachar (14) represents the relation between the Gunas and Varnas :


Sattwic – Rajasic Brahmin

Rajasic‑Sattwic Kshatriya


Rajasic ‑ Rajasic

Tamasic, ‑Raj asic Vaishya

Tamasic ‑ Rajasic Sudra


The status and role of the individual was determined by his personality (Swabbava‑adhikara), not by his birth. Hence if his occupation suited his characteristic law ‑of‑action (Swadharma) he had a two‑fold advantage. On one hand he could be successful in hiss social role and on the other hand he could progress spiritually, It is no wonder that the ethical ideals of the Typal stage in consonance with the psychological differentia helped, to develop honor, education, function and utility.

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