Chapter XVIII: 41
|Of brahmanas, kshatriyas and vaishyas, as also of shudras, Oh Arjuna, the duties are distributed according to the qualities born of their own nature.|
At each incarnation we bring forward with us our "nature." This nature manifests the preponderant quality which determines our "caste." This is nothing more than a cast - a mould for casting. The Oxford dictionary's definition of it as "any of the E. Ind. hereditary classes with members shunning intercourse with the other castes" is plain mischievous mis-statement.
The "nature" that is brought forward undergoes incessant change. It is true that the basic aspects do not change, e.g. one who is born a male dies a male, but a great degree of change in other aspects is possible. After all, the "brought forward" nature was the cumulative effect of the continuous interaction of the self and environment, of aspiration and limitation, of the upward pull of spiritual evolution and the downward pull of animal urges.
If that nature determined the caste in which we were born, the latter, too, would undergo the same change as the former. As we shall presently see, the gulf that separates one caste from the other - the gulf of fundamental nature - is wide enough to make it difficult for one to jump from one to the other. But we should bear in mind:
(a) that it is impossible to assert that any human being falls entirely within one category - he always has some element of the other categories, and
(b) that the transfer, though difficult, is not impossible, as is demonstrated in the legendary heroes who achieved it, and also in modern sex-change experiments.
What is perhaps more difficult and vitally important is to be efficient and diligent in the righteous expression of one's own essential nature, without the presumption that one is superior or inferior to another - which is false and artificial.
So, dharma can be looked at from two extremely simple angles. Firstly, your own essential nature and secondly, a certain built-in balance that sustains the entire universe and the human personality - a universal vibration.
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