The word Varna वर्ण has several meanings in Sanskrit, ie quality, paint, description, narration, class, word, vowel, unknown quantity, syllable, species, sound, sort, shape, renown, praise, property, quality, outward appearance, order, one who wards off, musical note, mantle, lustre, lid, measure, gold, form, figure, cloak, beauty, character, commendation, cloak, etc. (It does not mean ‘caste’ as is understood today. A Dharmic society does not have a caste system like we are forced to follow today.)
Our ideal society is based on the four Varna, Vipra or Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra. This enables the people and the society as a whole to maintain Dharma. Dharma at its simplest is the ‘right foundation’. Each one of the 4 Varna is essential as it performs critical functions in the society. If even one of them does not function properly, the entire society collapses, which is evidently happening today. Neither Varna is greater or lesser, all four are highly interdependent. If anyone disparages a Varna as ‘lower’ and another Varna as ‘higher’ then he does not follow Dharma.
In Jyotish, the planetary forces/ graha, the signs/ rashi and the lunar mansions/ nakshatra are assigned Varna. Varna is essential for deciphering the mindset of the person and this criteria is especially used during matching charts for marriage. The varna of the lunar mansions of the birth Moon and the ascendant degree/ Lagna and to some extent Rahu have a more significant effect on your mindset/ behaviour. Varna should be considered especially for questions related to the profession and finances. Even while prescribing remedies you can use Varna as an indicator.
To understand the Varna concept first, we need to understand Shukra and Ojas.
- Shukra शुक्र has several meanings, the Daityaguru Shukracharya / Venus, lucid, white, wealth, sperm, spotless, pure, era, light, plant, essence, gold, clear, bright, good actions, clear liquids etc.
- Ojas ओजस means splendour, vitality, power, strength, support, appearance, manifestation, lustre, light, water, ability, style, energy, expression, emphasis, etc.
The four Varna, Vipra or Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra are based on the energy dynamics that exist within the mind and body. This is reflected in the person’s outward behaviour, his preferred activities and most significantly in his profession. eg a teacher, soldier, carpenter and a businessman have different mindsets and behaviours. Thus earlier, the Varna of a person was never determined by birth but always by profession which is the expression of the Nakshatra, graha and rashi varnas in the chart. True Varna is chart specific.
Now to recap the seven ‘substances’, the Dhatu of the human body (this post). The seventh Dhatu in sequence is Shukra Dhatu. Shukra is used for three essential activities,
- Shukra dhatu is essential for reproductive activity. It is consumed to produce the physical sperm/ Shukra and ova/ Shonit and to charge these very valuable cells with the necessary ‘energy’ so that they can create equally highly energetic offspring in the future. This is the link between generations and consumes Shukra dhatu and its energy.
- A second use of Shukra is to fuel your interactions with everyone and everything around you. One is obviously when you are engaging in physical intimacy as a part of the reproductive process. And the second is the not so obvious but very much there energy use when you interact with anyone, living or non-living around you. eg when you talk to the grocer, there is an exchange of emotion, speech, non-verbal cues, money, groceries and also energy. eg if you are interacting with several hundreds of people on a daily basis, more of your Shukra dhatu gets drained. eg if you interact with non-living items all the time, eg you are a blacksmith and always around machinery, even then the drain on the Shukra dhatu is comparatively more.
- Any surplus Shukra dhatu remaining after these above two activities, is very slowly converted into Ojas.
Ojas is the finest essence of energy, the culmination of all the ‘food’ that you have taken inside your body /mind. Thus the production of Ojas also depends on your having a balanced/ satvik diet, a proper digestive system/fire, a regular routine, ie physical exercise like Yogasan and the regular spiritual practice which is a mental exercise, etc. The quantity of Ojas produced completely depends on the quantity of Shukra dhatu available for further refining (that is why several higher level yogic practices emphasise on using Shukra dhatu to the minimum by restricting activities 1 and 2 above). Ojas is a very precious resource and Ayurved recognises two types of Ojas – Para Ojas located at the Ajnya chakra and the Apara Ojas which circulates in the body.
With this basic background, let’s analyse the energy dynamics of the four Varna.
This is how Shukra and its refined form Ojas, is linked to Varna. The four Varna are Vipra, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra.
The Shudra शूद्र use the energy of the Shukra dhatu within their bodies ‘to produce’. The power of their physical work creates material produce and this is the core of a vibrant Dharmic society. A society cannot sustain without this ‘production’ power of Shukra. The root द्र in Sanskrit means produce, material, flow, sourced from, etc. And the शू indicates that this production is appropriate, exact, auspicious etc. Every activity involving physical labour is the domain of Shukra operating through the Shudra Varna. This Shukra performs all sorts of work, from the very basic physical labour to specialised jobs with specific skills, eg the skilled work needed to produce agricultural crops, manage animal husbandry, manufacture goods, machine work in industries, sewing clothes, making shoes, making gold ornaments, all this is the exclusive domain of the Shudra, the ‘auspicious material’. This is how they preserve Dharma within themselves and in the society. They expend very significant amounts of Shukra dhatu as they interact more with inanimate objects eg machinery or plants eg agriculture or animals eg animal husbandry etc who are all on the lower consciousness scale.
Next, the Vaishya वैश्य are required to use the energy of their Shukra dhatu to interact with others, to trade, to determine the exact value of material things, to exchange value and to thus add to the prosperity of the overall society. The keyword of this Vaishya Varna is ‘value’, wherever this word is used it is the domain of the Vaishya. Several types of goods produced by the power of Shukra in the Shudra Varna need to be first valued then traded, bartered or exchanged for other goods. This is a typical function requiring special skills, ability, confidence etc. And this is how the Vaishya varna works to preserve Dharma in the society and within themselves. Their Shukra dhatu is used to interact mainly with other human beings while bargaining, trading etc and thus there remains a greater surplus for conversion to Ojas.
Kshatriya क्षत्रिय use the energy of this same Shukra dhatu to govern and protect the individual, the society and thus Dharma. They have to learn and practice marital Vidyas, learn politics, governance, the mental skills to plan wars, enforce law and order, catch criminals, to judge and to punish them, to rule and properly manage a kingdom, its people and its assets. They are required to take on physical wounds and mental trauma, to hurt or kill others, also to leave their own physical bodies on the battlefield or while fighting against invaders and criminals. They have to use their minds to plan for death and destruction of those who attack the society and Dharma, they strategise and implement aggressive and defensive strategies. They are also required to govern with a dispassionate mindset, management at the highest level. A lifetime of sober and violent energies for protection of Dharma in the society and also within themselves. Again the primary interaction is with other humans so there remains a reasonably good quantity of Shukra dhatu for processing into Ojas.
Vipra use the energy of their Shukra dhatu to learn, practice and teach the Ved, the Vidyas like Jyotish, Ayurved etc, various subjects, philosophy, also maintain temples, perform pujas for families, manage schools/ Gurukul, teach children, advise the king, counsel those who come to them for help etc. By doing this, they ensure that Dharma prevails within themselves and in the society. They have to study and gain necessary knowledge and skills. Also to perform a lot of pujas, both personal and public, follow several personal rules regarding behaviour, interactions etc. Their primary interactions are with their deity who is on an exceptionally higher energy level. Also they are required to live a strict, regimented satvik lifestyle. Thus they retain significant surplus Shukra dhatu for conversion to Ojas. This Ojas is then used in their own Dharmic growth and for sharing with their students, devotees, everyone else in the society. The Brahmin varna is bound by the rules of Dharma to share this energy. So as they interact with the devotees of the deity, the families for whom they perform pujas, their students, people who do ‘namaste’ to them, in fact, everyone in the society who comes to the temples, they are required to give the blessings/ ashirwad and pass on the energy.
Finally the Sanyasis. These are spiritual aspirants who have taken formal Sanyas, ascetics. The Sanyasi are not a part of the society so they are not required to interact with anyone from any group within the society. They do not have a Varna, they are not required to have children or to interact with any other person. Their only interaction is with their deity, their mantra, their sadhana, ie their chosen spiritual path. The Shukra dhatu within their bodies is almost completely converted to Ojas. This then becomes Para Ojas, the undefinable ‘spiritual beauty’ that high level Yogis and Gurus radiate.
There was a question on Varna, the answer for which became too long for a comment. This analysis on the Shukra, Ojas and Varna has not been posted anywhere till now, and this was told by my Guru. I have analysed my sample charts observed and these people, their behaviour does match the Varna. (Those who are studying Jyotish open your sample chart collection and analyse your self/ friends/ family members with this perspective.)
Devbhasha Sanskrutam is a palimpsest, layers of meanings to be applied as per the intellect and the situation. The reference point, the context, the perspective is very important. All words in Sanskrit are titles, complete descriptions based on the meanings of the vowels and the consonants. The meanings of the Akshar are fixed, linked to the movement of the pran in the chakras within the Sushumna. Thus there can be no ambiguity in the meanings of Sanskrit words. Unfortunately our Sanatan Dharm concepts have been distorted and twisted on purpose by the invaders in an attempt to damage our culture. To really understand what we are all about, Sanskrit is essential. All our books are in Sanskrit. (Avoid reading books written by a non-Hindus who claim to translate, decipher or otherwise explain concepts from our Dharma and our Sanskruti).
(This is the first time on the internet, that Varna and Nakshatra Varna have been analysed in depth. Do read the next post on the Nakshatra Varna and how to use it in Jyotish).