Gita Daily Readings

12th December
Chapter
XVIII: 42-44
Serenity, self-restraint, austerity, purity, forgiveness and also uprightness, knowledge, realization and belief in God are the duties of the brahmanas, born of their own nature.

Prowess, splendor, firmness, dexterity and also not fleeing from battle, generosity and lordliness are the duties of the kshatriyas, born of their own nature.

Agriculture, cattle-rearing and trade are the duties of the vaishyas (merchants), born of their own nature; and action consisting of service is the duty of the shudras (servant-class), born of their own nature.

Commentary

Where is it said that the mere accident of birth or erudite scholarship are the qualifications of a brahmana? Elsewhere, the word "brahmana" has been defined as one who knows Brahman or the absolute. Shankaracharya defines "pandit" as one who knows "panda" or knowledge pertaining to self-realization.

It is said in the Bhagavatam that in this kali age, "members of the three castes are mostly converted into shudras" (12.11:4). Even here, it is not because people value service or realize the dignity of labor, but because the qualifications for belonging to the other three are absent. This moral degeneration and ethical apathy often assume strange roles: the brahmanas and the kshatriyas fight to stay as such, not because they are qualified to, but because such fighting is easier than the acquisition of the qualifications. Even the vaishyas do not produce wealth or food in the right spirit, but in order to become wealthier and stay wealthier than the others. Wealth is the god of the present (kali) age. Says the Bhagavatam: "In the kali age wealth alone will be the criterion of pedigree, morality and merit" (12.11:2). All people, including the shudras, serve...not one another, not the neighbor, not God, but wealth. Thus they are not even shudras in the real sense!

The caste system is gone (though a new caste or class system has taken its place). Has this led to real unity and understanding? Oh, yes, in one way - for we are all worshipping wealth as the only god. But wealth engenders hatred, jealousy and enmity, not love. God is love, and it is God we should worship.

Web Editor's Notes