One wonders that Varnaasramam of those ancient Indian days are worth to follow or practiced even today in modern era of technological developments. The Vedas and Sastras, the rituals (Sampradayam) or rules (Anushtaanam), the Yajnaas, Poojaas and Vrataas are still possible to follow or practiced?
Indians, tobe precise, Hindus were inseparable from their professions with respect to their religion right from Vedic period to till few centuries ago. Life of Hindus without religion is unimaginable. With a day start and till the day end, every Hindu will dwell along Dharmic rules called Anushtaanam, Sampradayam and so on, may it be child-birth, schooling, profession, marriage or even death. Hindu needs every aspects of his life is tobe encapsulated in a religious way. Hinduism or Sanatana Dharma as it supposed tobe called, will never impose or compel to follow any rules, however it definitely would explain elaborately that by practicing what best fruit one can meet. This is what we call ‘Karma’!
Based ones Karma, one gets the result, to understand in simple terms, it is a cause and effect. The fruits of Karma vary from Yuga to Yuga. Kaliyuga is most illusion based life style called Maya which will never allow you to follow these Anushtaanas as prescribed by our Vedas and Sastras. Hence in this Yuga one tend to make more Adharmic series of actions which will ultimately accumulate Papa Phala which otherwise called result of sin. Those who could overcome this Maya or Illusion will succeed to the path of Punya or virtue.
Now the question arises one’s mind that how to overcome Maya?
Let us introspect this here. With respect to one’s accumulated Punya and Papa, the Moksha (salvation), Swargam (heaven) and Narakam (hell) is decided after the death. Narakam, according to Garuda Puranam has different kind of punishment for different type of sins done by human; the punishment goes from few times to so many years. Garuda Puranam further says that to bring down the Naraka Yatra or duration of punishment period for departed soul is possible if their siblings do their Pitru Karmas precisely and periodically. However, with the severity of humans’ sins, the punishment will be higher and higher for a long period, say, few thousand years. With the help of good deeds during their life time one can ease their Naraka Yatra although you cannot avoid completely if you done more sins than good deeds. Good deeds such as Poor Feeding, shelter for Poor, unconditional help to the needy, construction or helping for maintenance of temple, Devatha Aaradhana, performing Yajna for public welfare, practicing Anushtaanam and following your Varnaasaramam Dharma.
Most of us know the meaning of Varnaasarama or division of a sect of people based on their profession. Unfortunately, the very idea of Varnaasaramam was misinterpreted deliberately by vested interest people year after year in past more than 600 years, only to break the integrity of this system, by means they could rule this rich country with the aim of swallowing the resources and spoil the culture. The importance of following this system was delinked first and discontinued later for several years as there was no proper channel to preach its vitality to the society. In the recent past, after the freedom, most political parties with the only interest of occupancy of power had messed the Varnaasaramam with caste system for their political advantages. The matter of fact, Varnaasaramam has no role to play in present caste system, but still it is significantly wrongly used by the politicians, is the sad turning point for India.
As you know based on one’s Varnaasaramam, the duties are prescribed in Vedas. Although these are not met in the present society because of life style and heavy financial commitments. The needs have increased in the upcoming lifestyle with no barrier in their desire. People have gone changing themselves beyond their level of reach, which forces to commit more sins in their day-to-day life. Obviously no one has time to look after even their siblings and children, where they have time to help others and worship God and extend the services to religious activities. Even if it is done, it is just name sake only, no any inherent feeling anybody has. Earning money has become the primary motto in the society, sadly.
In this scenario, where is the chance of following Varnaasramam? Well, as an English maxim goes, ‘where there is a will there is a way’, one can follow his Varnaasrama without giving up ones present lifestyle, but little inclination to sacrifice to strive for this. Is it still possible? Yes it is.
For a case in point, consider the one of the Varnaas people, Brahmins. The main duty of a Brahmin is to live for other three Varnaas. A Brahmin should not be self-centered but to perform Yajnas and Pujaas to the welfare of the society that which consists of all four Varnaas. He should perform Trikala Sandhayavandanam, daily Agnihotram, Veda Parayanam, Veda Adhyayanam, Deva Aradhana and political and Dharmic consultancy to the ruling king and other common pubic as and when required. If a Brahmin does all these things in a day where he will earn for his livelihood? Since a Dharmic Brahmin dedicates himself for the welfare of the society, the rest of the other three Varnaas should take care of his livelihood and his family.
Now come to the present day. Today’s Brahmin is not a Brahmin of those days. For his livelihood, he does so many other works which is not supposed tobe taken-up by him. He thinks it is inevitable, however he still can perform his Anushutaanam within his time frame. Veda study is not a part of their life for most of the present day Brahmins. Minimum doing of Sandhyavandam is vanishing all over now by all three Varnas viz., Brahmana, Kshatriya and Vaishya. The ‘pratha sandya’ should be done in Aruna Kaalam i.e., start before sunrise and continue Japa until Sunrise, say 6.30 – 6.45 in the morning. The second one, ‘Maadhyanam’ should be done at midday, i.e., at 12 noon. The third one should be done once he returns from office 6 O’ clock in the evening until 7.30 pm he can start and finish. If a Brahmin who cannot meet these timings at home for Sandhyavandanam but intention to do, still he can do. During that period wherever he is, can sit in a clean area, after washing his hands and legs and do it with least Gayathri Mantra ie., 10 with a ‘Sankalpam’. If time and place is available, one should do it in elaborated way, if not, make it simple but continue without break every day. Apart from Trikaala Sandhyavandanam, a working Brahmin does other rituals along like Pooja, Agnihotram, Veda Parayanam, etc., would be considered more sacred from his part.
Consider a Yadava who can still work anywhere and run simultaneously his cow breeding business. By this way he gives employment to others also and fulfills his Dharma.
For Kshatriyas, there is no Kingdoms to rule now but being protector of the society he can best fit for Army and Police jobs. However if he is in other jobs, he can still do the same in his leisure time to the society. Whatever best can be done from available sources and resources should be thoroughly analyzed and implemented.
With the high influence of Western system and Culture, Indian and Hindu rituals are slowly forgotten. The very purpose of Anustaanam is not given importance which will ultimately lead to a mess in the society. Varnaasaramam made with the intention of protecting the Hindu society not to discriminate any, as in the present day caste system.
I can narrate one befitting example for this. In Ramayana, Rama, Sita and Lakshmana along with Guha going to Bharatwaja Rishi Ashram to meet him. Bharatwaja Rishi offers seats to all as a matter of hospitality. Everybody sit on the seat except Guha who by his own sits on the floor. When Rishi asks why he sits on the floor, Guha claims that he is from fourth Varna hence it is not good to sit along with all other two Varnas, viz., Brahmana and Kshatrya. The Bhartwaja Rishi enlightens Guha that we all are being children of Almighty, no Varna people are higher or lower by their birth or profession, all should be treated equally in the society. Further he says that the time Rama proclaimed Guha as his friend as well as brother, where is the matter of high or low from then?
Hence, if Varnaasarama in this country is protected, then India is protected, Hindus are protected and no doubt, surly our Sanatana Dharma will be protected ultimately.
Authored by: Balaji Canchi Sistla
Hyderabad on Feb 8, 2016 @ 3.00 PM