Chapter 11: The Perfect Society: About the Four Social Classes and the Woman
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    Welcome, Guest · RSS 2019-07-17, 9:45 PM

    Chapter 11: The Perfect Society: About the Four Social Classes and the Woman

    (1) S'rî S'uka said: 'After having listened to the story about him, [Prahlâda] the most important of all great devotees, him the master of the Daityas who was so faithful to the Lord who covers the world in a single step [Urukrama], he who is discussed in the assemblies of the saints, Yudhishthhira greatly pleased again asked the son of Brahmâ [Nârada] questions. (2) S'rî Yudhishthhira said: 'Oh great Lord, I would like to hear about the sanâtana dharma activities [the  eternal, common duties] of our human society that belong to the order of the status orientations [varnâs'rama] by which the common people find a better life. (3) You, oh fortunate one, are directly the son of our original father, the supreme person within this universe [Lord Brahmâ].  One considers you oh brahmin to be the best of all his sons because of your austerity, yoga and meditation. (4) Among the ones devoted to Nârâyana you are the sage conversant with the most confidential and supreme aspect of dharma; there is no devotee as merciful, exalted and peaceful as you are.'

    (5) S'rî Nârada said: 'I offer my obeisances to the Supreme Lord, the Unborn One who defends the dharma throughout the universe. I will expound on sanâtana dharma the way I heard about it from the mouth of Nârâyana. (6) He who, begotten by Dharma Mahârâja in the womb of Daksha's daughter [Mûrti], descended [as Nârâyana] along with a part of Himself [Nara], executes [even today] for the benefit of all people austerities in Badarikâs'rama [the Himalayan resort for meditation]. (7) Oh King, the mind, the body and the soul find their full satisfaction in Bhagavân, the Supreme Lord who is the essence of all Vedic knowledge, the root of all dharma and the remembrance of the ones versed in that [what is called the science of devotional service]. (8-12) Truthfulness, compassion, austerity and cleanliness [with the vidhi]; tolerance, discrimination, composure and continence, nonviolence, celibacy, generosity and study of the scriptures, sincerity, contentment and to serve the holy ones [in yama and niyama]; gradually cutting with that what is unnecessary and to be of gravity in avoidance of empty talk, self-search, to share food and drink with all beings and to consider everyone first of all a part of God, oh Pândava; to listen and to sing and also  to remember Him who is the shelter of all the great ones, to attend, to worship and to propitiate, to be a servant, to be a friend and to be of surrender [in bhâgavata dharma]; to possess all the thirty characteristics as described constitutes the supreme of dharma that pleases Him the Soul of All, oh King [compare B.G. 12: 13-20]. (13) They who because of their prolonged reconsideration [or formally by means of undergoing the so-called sixteen samskâra's] are lead by [the spiritual] instructions [of the unborn Lord Brahmâ and his teachers], are called twice-born souls [dvijas] who pure by their birth and activities [on the basis of their education in normally the three higher classes of society and by their initiation of having received the sacred thread] are of worship, are versed in the scriptures and give charity. They are expected to behave according to the status of their [age-bound] spiritual departments [or âs'ramas *]. (14) For the brahmins there are the six [duties] of studying the scriptures and so on [to teach, to worship, to lead sacrifices, and to give and receive charity] and for the rest [the other occupations] there are the same six minus the duty to accept charity. The means of livelihood for the rulers [the kshatriyas] who maintain the people, consists of levying taxes and such [like customs duties and fines] from those who do not belong to the ones who are motivated from within [the brahmins]. (15) The vais'yas [the merchants] are to be engaged in their occupational activities [of farming and trading] and should always follow what the brahmins teach, while the s'ûdras [the laborers] for their livelihood have to accept the three types of twice-born souls as their masters to serve [see also B.G. 18: 41-44]. (16) There are [next to teaching, leading sacrifices and accepting charity] four different types of livelihood for the learned brahmin: to subsist on what is achieved without asking for it [s'âlîna], on what one obtains by begging [yâyâvara], on what one finds left behind in the fields [s'ila] and on that what is not wanted by others in shops and markets [uñchana]. The latter means of these are better than the former. (17) Without a good reason, the lower classes must not [desire to] subsist the way the higher classes do, but in times of emergency anyone, except for the ruling class, may take to the means of livelihood of any other class. (18-20) Rita [honest or courageous] is what one calls subsisting on what remained in the fields etc., amrita [sustainable or nectar] is called subsisting on what was obtained without asking, one speaks of mrita [finality of engagement]  when one asks for what one needs, while it is called pramrita [or cultivation] when one subsists on tilling one's own field. It is called satyânrita [simultaneously true and untrue] when one trades, but when brahmins and kshatriyas versed in the Veda, in subordinate positions have to serve the lower classes, one speaks of s'va-vritti [or doggery], an engagement that must be given up, for the brahmins and rulers embody all the gods. With rita or amrita one can live and one can even live with pramrita and satyânrita, but one can never reconcile with a life like that of a dog [see also B.G. 4: 13]. (21) The brahmin is known for his control of the mind and senses, his penance, cleanliness, satisfaction, forgiveness, straightforwardness, spiritual knowledge and compassion, the perfection of his service to the Lord, the True Self, and his truthfulness. (22) A kshatriya makes his mark by his fighting skills, by his bravery and by his resolution, strength, charity, restraint, forgiveness, faithfulness to the brahminical command, his kindness and his love of truth. (23) A vais'ya is characterized by his devotional service unto the God-conscious ones, the guru and the Infallible One, for his practicing the three virtues [of dharma, artha and kâma], his piety and his constant effort and expertise. (24) The s'ûdra is known for his obedience, cleanliness, service to the master who maintains him, his single-mindedness, willingness to make sacrifices without further prayers, truthfulness, his protection of cows and brahmins and the fact that he does not steal [see also B.G. 18: 41-44].

    (25) A woman in divine respect of her husband will always following him in his vows, be of service to her husband, be eager to please him and be well-disposed towards his friends and relatives [see also B.G. 1: 40]. (26-27) By means of cleaning, mopping and decorating running her household and personally dressing up nicely in always clean garments, a woman should chastely and modestly answer to the small and great desires of her husband and be in control of her senses and her speech, be truthful, pleasing and loving and regularly prove her respect for her husband. (28) With contentment, freedom from greed, skill, conversancy with dharma, pleasure, speaking the truth, attentiveness, purity and affection, she should honor her husband for as long as he is not fallen [in being guilty of murder, theft, addiction, adultery or complicity in crime]. (29) When a woman meditates upon her husband as being the Supreme Personality she is of the same service as the Goddess of Fortune; in her devotion thinking of Hari she enjoys with her husband His spiritual abode [of Vaikunthha] just like Lakshmî. (30) The livelihood of those who were born from mixed marriages [of different classes, pratilomaja with a lower man and anulomaja with a higher man] and who are considered lower [antyaja] or have been marginalized [antevasâyî], should not consist of stealing and [other forms of] sinning, but should correspond to the respective family traditions.

    (31) Oh King, when the occupational duty [the dharma] is in accordance with someone's societal position, that is in every age [yuga] by the seers of Vedic knowledge recognized as generally being auspicious for both one's present life and the life hereafter [see also B.G. 3: 25]. (32) When one for one's livelihood abides by the activities belonging to one's professional engagement one can, in gradually putting an end to the karma that resulted from one's own nature, attain the [nirguna] state transcendental to the [operating] modes of nature [see also B.G. 3: 35]. (33-34) [But...] a field over and over cultivated may, being exhausted, fall barren having become unsuitable for further harvesting so that seeds sown are lost. The same way a mind full of lusty desires enjoying over and over the objects of desire may [at some point be unable to enjoy any further and thus] become detached oh King. Just think of small drops of ghee that may be lost in a [sacrificial] fire, [but all poured at once may extinguish it]. (35) [And so,] if one happens to see a person behave according to the symptoms as described above that belong to another class than his own, that person consequently has to be respected accordingly [in other words, when for example someone behaves like a brahmin he must be treated like a brahmin].'