“Four Varnas were made by me according to variations
of character and work.”
The Gita says this, and it specifies
the occupations and traits pertaining to each Varna.
Everyone knows what they are. I may be permitted to
call this Chatur varnya (Four Varna System) bye the
name of “ the Gita theory of society”, although it is
well known that the same ideal is upheld in most of
the ancient writings. I do so for convenience. The Gita
theory may, or may not, promote the highest interests
of man. It was never experimented in its pure form,
or, if it was, history tells us nothing about it. As
a hypothesis it is one of the best and the most attractive.
At least some of us think so.
But the caste law is leagues away from
the Gita theory. For the Brahmanas have long ceased
to make Vedas and Shastras; they have long ceased to
think seriously of eternal verities of the sciences
of this earth. They have totally forgotten the meaning
of the older and purer writings. They adopt all professions.
They are cake-sellers, railway clerks, and police –
constables. And their general intelligence and character
are naturally on a level with their pursuits. The Kshatriyas
have long ceased to govern.
The Vaishyas and Shudras have followed
the great chaos. They are honest but they are very ignorant
and down-trodden-very far indeed from being fit for
performing their duties as prescribed by the Gita ideal
of society. And instead of the four Varnas, you have
four thousand castes . And you sometimes quote ethnology,
eugenics, hydrostatics, and what not, to support these
four thousand castes! But, alas, the ignorant masses
or our country have been made to believe that this caste
chaos is a special divine gift to our country and whoever
transgresses it has to go to hell. It is this belief
more than anything else that makes people insensible
to the injurious results of caste. If you really have
your justification in ethnology or hydrostatics, then
you have been cheating people during all these centuries
by telling them a different story. No science can justify
The Sole remedy is in inter-dining
and inter-marrying. The others are mere quack remedies
of an anaesthetic character. There are many difficulties
in the way of applying this remedy on a large scale.
One very real difficulty is the fact that many members
of the purely vegetarian sects cannot physically endure
the smell of flesh and fish at a distance of five yards.
But the vegetarian worthies, consisting both of Brahmnasa
and non-Brahmanas, can marry among themselves. There
is no National excuse for not doing that. I repeat there
are many-but not insuperable-difficulties in the way
of applying that remedy. But there is not othe remedy
that the human mind can think of.
Sometimes people who seem half-inclined
to admit the injustice and inutility of caste suddenly
turn round and shout: “But they have similar prejudices
ins South Africa, North America and Oceania.”
If other people are fools, that is
no reason why we should be so. If others to-day are
thoughtlessly committing the mistake that we committed
many centuries ago and became much degraded as a consequence
thereof, it is our duty to warn them. But we ought not
to make it an excuse for not rectifying the mistake
for which we have been so signally punished by the laws
“But the masses of people are quite
content, “say some. “It is only the intellectual classes
that are always harping on this old grievance. From
Buddha to Vivekananda, many have been the sages who
condemned this chaos. But it persists. It is in the
blood of the Indian people.”
I reply that the people are not contented.
That is proved by the very fact that for these two thousand
and five hundred years great ones have again and again
risen from the ranks of the people and condemned this
caste in no measured language. During these two thousand
and five hundred years it has lost most of its saving
features. Little vitality is now left in it. The form
remains with a shadow of life and a million bad wounds
on it. Let none rejoice that caste takes a long time
in dying, for its life will be all the ghastlier for
Who knows? Who knows that the Brahmanas
may not purify themselves by the waters of knowledge
and them recognize that no caste can be irredeemably
impure? Who knows that the other castes which have been
out-heroding Herod, the castes which are fonder of their
chains than the Brahmanas themselves, even they may
not behold the vision of the age and proclaim democracy?
If only the Brahmanas of to-day will
read aright the signs of the times, then they will see
that Democracy, for from being a thing to be dreaded,
will be as great a joy to tem as to any other class.
The three watchwords of France – Liberty, Equality,
and Fraternity-when fully understood by men, will really
prove to be the highest guides of human evolution.