“According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.13)
चातुर्-वर्ण्यं मया सृष्टं
तस्य कर्तारम् अपि मां
विद्ध्य् अकर्तारम् अव्ययम्
cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ
tasya kartāram api māṁ
viddhy akartāram avyayam
“It would be difficult to argue against the most controversial aspect of Hinduism. Yes, I know that is not the proper name for it. Sanatana-dharma, the eternal way of living, is not anything like a religion, but I am talking about in terms of common discussion.
“The sticky subject is the caste system. It is degraded in the modern day implementation, and it has a certain origin. There is a valid basis, I understand, but see how much trouble it has caused through the generations. People claiming high status simply because of who their parents are. None of us can choose that.
“Yes, I get it that karma is at play, but I still have to develop the proper qualities. Qualification should never be based on an honor that descends. In light of the widespread misunderstanding, why would the Supreme Lord ever create such a system? I know Bhagavad-gita confirms that He is the origin.”
An interesting exercise which may help us to understand is to study the results of a modern-day feature of video games. In some of the sports-related titles, such as with American football, baseball, or even ice hockey, there is the ability to create your own player.
That is to say there is already the list of players to mimic real life. For instance, if the title publishes today, it will have the current roster of players based on the matching professional league. The “create-a-player” feature is an addition. In essence, you could insert yourself into the game.
Now imagine that five different people purchase the game and use this feature. We will see that the players they create are different. The face is not the same. Neither is the hairstyle. The bodily complexion will be different. One person’s player might be fast, while another’s is big and strong.
The underlying cause is desire. Now expand the complexities of desire to the highest degree and you get an understanding of why there are up to 8,400,000 different species in this world. These body types, which have tight and detailed specifications, are rooted in the individual soul’s desires. The jiva wants to enjoy in a certain way, and nature obliges.
The caste system, which is originally based on varnashrama-dharma, is a way to match an occupation with the type of body inhabited. We know in modern life that a person takes great pride in their work. Even if it is something simple, like laying a floor in a house, there is a feeling of satisfaction upon completion.
Moreover, we know that every kind of worker is necessary for a society to function. In a large corporation, the CEO is really not more important than the common employee. They may earn a higher salary, but without the rank and file supporting the day-to-day affairs of the business, the company would have no revenue to pay people.
Varnashrama-dharma is a way to give each person pride in their work, to feel like they are contributing to society. The brains of the operation, the brahmanas, are intellectually-inclined and ready to guide others. The kshatriyas want to defend, to protect against injury, to the point of sacrificing their own lives. The vaishyas are interested in running business and earning money. The shudras provide the labor to support the other three groups.
As man further turns away from the Divine, forgetting His role in setting the stage, they take advantage of the divisions. They usurp authority when they don’t deserve it. They may even falsely take away one’s preferred occupation, declaring it to be demeaning. This leaves people without any occupation, which is a tragic consequence.
Whatever the ideal role, the objective is the same: transcendence. Work in such a way that the results do not affect you. Become detached from the outcomes, remain conscious of the Supreme Lord, and live in harmony with your fellow man. Make this lifetime the last one in the land of birth and death, and take residence again in the spiritual kingdom, Vaikuntha.
Utilized feature in video game,
Not players all created the same.
On desires of input depending,
As far as imagination extending.
To the entire world then apply,
For variety in species of nature supply.
Varnashrama for ideal work to give,
So that all in transcendence can live.