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Food

Finding food to eat is the responsibility of a person. Nature is abundant in edible, nutritiuos food items. Sometimes it may require efforts to cultivate and process it. A person who reasonably exerts himself can satisfy his/her needs sufficiently.

bharatiya samaj sustained on the activities of people belonging to four varna based on their natural inclination. Inherent talent towards handling, producing and processing materials was termed vyshsya varna, and people who showed inclination towards it were considered vyshya. They produced and provided food and other materials for the entire society. In turn, people inclined to act to uphold righteousness administered society justly, people inclined towards spiritual pursuit spread wisdom they realized during the course of their pursuits and people inclined towards emulating others helped the other three.

The society thus catered to the taste and ability of each individual, providing avenues for individual growth, while simultaneously also provided the supportive environment required for sustenance of the person. Like in a living body where head identifies the source of food, legs takes it to the location, hand brings the food to mouth that delivers it to stomach that digests it and gives energy to the whole body. Each constituent performed the task it was most suited to perform and contributed to balanced sustenance of society.

When this balance is disturbed, for example, if mouth starts eating solely to indulge its sense of taste, if food is taken by hand excessively and ingested, the stomach would be thrown out of gear. If that happens and stomach shuts down, the body parts will be starved of energy. Then each body part will start seeking source of energy individually. Since they do not have the capacity to process food items to produce energy, instant energy sources will be sought out.

In the case of society, when the constituent part that should discern the truth and guide society indulges in selfish aggrandizing acts, misleads society, and ventures to consume voraciously, directing the administering part to indiscriminately appropriate resources, more than necessary and more than what can be processed, the processing power of society is left in disarray. This then leads to search for instant source of energy.

This was what happened in western societies. The aggrandizing behaviour of western empires developed the taste for selfish indulgence among those people who should have been providing correct guidance to society. The society that was disturbed as a result sought sources of instant energy. Instead of taking the trouble to grow food painstakingly over a long period and then processing it, they started eating ready source of energy- meat. They started eating other living beings and justified it, stating that they have a ‘god-given-mandate’ to indulge in such behaviour. Later they extended that ‘mandate’ to justify robbing, enslaving and killing other peoples, labelling them ‘heathen’, ‘pagan’, ‘indian’, ‘kaffir’, ‘negro’, ‘barbarian’, etc.

varnashrama

The case in Bharat was different. Here the people followed varnashrama dharma correctly. The role of head, to give guidance to the body, including identifying of appropriate food sources and tasting food to ensure it is fit to eat, without overindulging in sensual pleasure, was correctly followed.
The brahmana subsisted by begging alms, living frugally, pursuing the purpose of his life for which he was naturally endowed- realization of atman. The kshatriya, under the guidance of brahmana administered society justly, preventing excessive exploitation of resources. The vyshya produced and processed food items and other materials as necessary for society and sudra helped all three in achieveing the goal of sustaining society.

varna of each individual was based on his/her inherent qualities rather than the varna of parent, as evident from the fact that veda, mahabharata and bhagavad gita were compiled by Vyasa, the son of a fisherwoman, Satyavati, and Parashara, whose mother was also sudra. Ratnakara, a jungle robber, abandoned that occupation, sought realization, became Maharshi Valmiki, and compiled Ramayana. varna is also not static, a person who primarily seeks brahma jnana, a brahmana, may occasionally show kama, the primary moivator of sudra varna, like Parashara did in company of Satyavati.

gau

Bharat attained material prosperity based on vyshya activity, producing food and other materials of use. gau, Cow, was the source of milk, which was used to make curd, butter, ghee, etc., which formed integral part of diet. Milk was also used for medicinal purpose. Cow dung came in use for various purposes, including as cooking fuel and building material. Bullocks were used for agriculture. Artifacts found in Saraswati river valley sites, dating back to 5000 years and beyond, indicate prominence of cow in society. Cows were thus integral part of vyshya household, and by extension, that of the society as well, for society sustained on what vyshya produced.

Congruent with the dharmik inspirations that underlie bharatiya samskriti, cows were not treated as ‘animals to exploit’, but were cherished, and as milk givers, were given due respect, as a mother.

Killing such a being and eating was out of question. For three reasons- one, society produced enough food stuff, through occupations suited to the natural inclination of individuals, to meet all its needs. Two, killing cow would cut off source of milk and other necessary items. Three, and most important, killing a being required sufficient cause. Satisfying palate is not sufficient cause in a society that value dharma.

Cows are also peaceful, harmless beings, lovable. purana narrate many instances where cows play important part in society. Episodes of Kamadhenu and Nandini are well known. Sri Krishna is also known as Gopala- one who takes care of cow, which was his occupation during his growing up years.

In the veda, the word gau also means illuminating rays of wisdom, and is revered and sought by brahmana.

In both its meaning therefore gau is respect worthy. Those who consume, instead of nurture, gau, eitherway, are imbeciles wreaking destruction on themselves and society.

Disruption

Bharat thus maintained the necessary balance in society and prospered, repelling attacks from foreign aggrandizers such as Alexander. However, Ashoka, who grabbed power killing siblings, had insatiable appetite for territory and self-aggrandizement. Having usurped large land area killing millions of people, he imposed upon society a socio-political version Buddhism making rock edicts that were self-promoting than spiritually uplifting, glorifying himself as “devanam piya“- “beloved of devas”. He never relinquished the throne like Sri Buddha did, had many wives, and the youngest of them, Tishyaraksha, whom he married in his old age, he later killed.

Buddhism identifies incorrect craving, kama, as cause of suffering and abandoning it as way to enlightenment. kama is the main feature of sudra varna. Buddhism that prescribes eightfold path to develop good kama and reduce bad ones had applicability in the case of sudra, but offered little to the other three, for which main factors were dharma, artha and moksha. This lack, particularly, regarding upholding of dharma, fighting for it if necessary,- the main feature of kshatriya dharma, made application of Buddhism across the board, on all society, inappropriate; in fact, as it turned out, quite harmful, since it disrupted societal balance.

The society, that had a few years back successfully repelled the rampaging Alexander’s army, in the following years saw ingress of Shaka, Huna, Kushana, Turks, Mongols and Pashtuns into those areas where ‘Buddhism’ flourished, such as present day Pakistan and northern parts of India. These people came with their own way of life, different from bharatiya samskriti, and the resultant dilution of dharmik values imbalanced the society further and paved way for islamic invaders and later european colonizers, to establish primacy over the land.

Present

A society where varnashrama dharma is violated, where people who have no inclination to realize atman engage in guiding and influencing society for selfish benefit, people who have no inclination to uphold righteousness engage in administering society for selfish gain, people who have no inclination to handle materials engage in producing materials for selfish profit, and where the rest emulate unworthy people, it becomes like a dysfunctional body, where the mouth seeks to indulge in taste alone, where hands grab more than it requires, where stomach seeks fast digesting food that instantly provide energy without need for much efforts to digest it, and leg seeks to rest indolently.

In such a situation, the head, grown insensitive to other body parts, may start biting at them. The greedy, grabbing hands may injure other body parts. The stomach may start consuming itself and prolonged indolence would incapacitate legs.

Such a being, out of its mind, with limbs out of control, stomach cancerous, and fast approaching self-destruction, is dangerous to other beings.
When that being is powerful- grown powerful on ravenous consumption of others, like western society is at present, the danger to rest of the beings and Nature is so much more.

Regaining Balance

In the purana, whenever asura quality went out of control, necessary correction was made by checking it and balance was restored, taking guidance from the dharmik wisdom transmitted by bharatiya parampara.

Sometimes it may seem that dementia and cancer afflicting a body have reached advanced stage, is pervasive, and that it is near impossible to retrieve the situation. In those times Sri Krishna’s advice is relevant- actualise karma in dharmik way, without attaching to results, unaffected by success or failure.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन ।
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥

योगस्थः कुरु कर्माणि संगं त्यक्त्वा धनंजय ।
सिद्ध्यसिद्ध्योः समो भूत्वा समत्वं योग उच्यते ॥
भगवद् गीता 2.47-48

 

Do ideas attract you ?

Search for the truth of Life and its purpose interest you ?
The quest for meaning of life allure you ?

Then you think like a brahmana.
Seek to realise brahma and impart knowledge to society.

 

Are you interested in events, actions; look forward to making things happen ?
Do principles attract you ?
Do you feel impelled to raise your voice against unrighteusness,  uphold dharma ?

Then you act like a kshatriya.
Administer society. Uphold dharma, righteousness.

 

Do materials interest you ?
Gadgets engage you ? producing things attract you ? creating objects makes you happy ?

Then you may handle things like a vyshya.
Go on, set up business. Produce things for society.

 

Do you venerate personalities, identify with heroes, enamoured with film stars, adore cricketers, want to live their lifestyle ? Emulate people ? Seek guidance from others? Want to model yourself on another ?

Then you seek to ‘experience’ life, emotions, feelings, taking cue from others, like a sudra.

Accept as role models persons of true worth, not mere pomp and show. Choose those whose aim is to benefit society, not their own selves. Choose those who have realised brahma, those who upholds dharma and those who produces things for society. 
And help them in benefitting society.

 

Every person is a dynamic, growing, living, being. As a person grows, his outlook on life changes and his interests change. As one feels drawn to new aims, he should pursue them and actualise karma.

 

—You may also like to read this postAim of Life

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