Varna Vyavastha

Caste, Jati and Varna systems

Varna system or Varna Vyavastha prevailed in India since time immemorial. IN fact the word Caste is of Portuguese origin used to denote endogamous communities. But application of word caste to Kula, varna and Jaati is not right. When Portuguese came and got in contact with Indians they must have found that native Indian people followed certain norms with regard to Marriages. They mis-conceived the then Indian social system with regard to marriages as Endogamous, hence called Indian communities as Castes.

(These are extracts from Chapter 32 u0026amp; 33 titled ‘ The Viswanaras’ and ‘ Sutas and Magathas’  in author’s Book, ” A Tribute to the Ancient world of India “, ©)

Later during the last two centuries many a Indologist continued the Caste notion and added a new dimension to it.. They started labeling the Indian Social system as a “Stratified”  since millennia and drew parallels to Western Christian Society of Medieval Europe. But this is not so in reality. They called all those who ruled in India as Sudras including Magathas of Pataliputra as Sudra extracts.

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But Magathas were Magathas not sudras or Sutas. They claimed that Brahmanas were superior castes and oppressed lower rungs of the society. But this is not the reality in fact.. It is pathetic to know that Indians follow these notions blindly to the extent that present so called lower people claim compensation for discrimination against them since millennia.

And the so called Upper classes grant sops for these people with hidden joy for their past subjugation of the others.

But thing is that there never existed any discrimination or enslavement of any peoples by the ancient Indian establishment / ruling class at any point of time. This so called Stratification of the society and exploitation of the weak by the strong never took place. And society was not divided into to four Varnas or Castes at any point of time. For example Brahmanas were Brahmacharis (celebates). They cannot carry forward their blood line anyway. Then where from Brahmanas came from. From common people only.


    Meaning of word Nara is man. All those Naras (people) excluding Brahma, Indra, Agna, Rudra, etc., are collectively called as Vaish in the Vedas . Hence, Vaisvanara should be understood as common folk. They are variously referred to as Vis or Vaish or Vaisya. And epithet of Brahma as Viswakarma seems to have its origin with word Vis. Word Karma means work/deed or profession. Then Viswakarma can be understood as the work done by Vis or Working Class. So calling Brahma as Viswakarma drives the point home that Brahma is all pervading and He is there in the Work of Vaish also. And we know that the Arrows that are shot from the bow of Rudra are termed as “Sharavye Brahma Samhite”.  So, Brahma was there in the making of Arrows also.

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 Brahmana who      follows Brahmacharya in letter and spirit could become an Acharya (Sage/Rushi) and later a Prajapati. His disciples are called as his children, actually they were his desciples. A Brahma who indulges in sexual act eventually not only falls down morally but also loses his divine power.  So lineages of Rushis in Indian tradition are a myth. Then who would have contributed to the ranks of sages and Brahmanas of the ancient wolrd ? Obviously Viswanaras, the common folk !

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Then what did the Vaiswanaras do in the ancient world? What was thier profession? Manu Smriti elucidates the duties of Vaish like this,

पशूनां रक्षणं दान मिज्याध्ययन मॆव च

वणिक्पथ कुसीदं च वैश्यस्य कृषि मॆव च

paSUnaaM rakShaNaM daana mijyaadhyayana mEva cha

vaNikpatha kusIdaM cha vaiSyasya kRuShi mEva cha

    “Vaish have to graze cattle and do animal husbandry, they have to participate in wars in order to protect the community, they have to donate to the needy and to the Brahmanas, they also have to learn Vedas, and have to perform Yajnas and Yagas. They are supposed to do the job of doing trading / business. They can do the banking (money lending) profession and lastly but importantly they have to do farming.” All the professions on earth have been included in the duties of a Vaish. 

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Also Read

Sutas and Magathas

  Originally Suta is a word used to refer to a woman who conducts a cesarean operation in order to facilitate free delivery of a Baby from a mother’s womb. So      occupation of a Suta woman was not simply midwifery but also an Obstetrician. And male members of Suta families were  employed as personal assistants of Kings and also as representaties of the King in rural areas. In addition they were also engaged in the professions of rearing Horses and riding of chariots.

The following sloka from Atharvana Veda showcases the event of a Child Delivery in a vivid manner. In this sloka a Suta woman is referred to as facilitating the child delivery with the active help of a Hota and Aryama.

वषट तॆपूषन्नस्मिन्त्सूतावर्यमाहॊ ताकृणॊतुवॆधा:

सिस्रतां नार्यृ तप्रजाता वि पर्वाणि जिहतां सूतवा उ

vaShaT tEpUShannasmintsUtaavaryamaahO taakRuNOtuvEdhaa:

sisrataaM naaryRu taprajaataa vi parvaaNi jihataaM sUtavaa u

( SlOka  46 , sUkta-11, kaaMDa 1, Atharvana Veda)

    “Suta is performing the cesarean operation ( kRuNOtuvEdhaa ). Aryama        (father of the ensuing child?) with the help of a Hota is praying to Devi Usha like this, ‘ Let Devi bless the mother with a healthy and fortunate male child’.”

 Sudras Shudras

And word Sudra seems to have evolved from word Suta. Plural of Suta is Sutara just like Matara for Mata. And in due course of time word Sutara would have become Sudara and thence Sudra.  

    Mata →       matara (plural of mata)  →      matru

    Suta  →      sutara (plural of suta) →    sudara  →    sudra

    In the epics male Sutas are shown as Horse breeders and Chariot riders and also as personal assistants of Rulers. Plus King’s personnel in Villages.

. . . .

ब्रह्मणॆ ब्रह्मणं क्षत्राय राजन्यं मरुद्भ्यॊ वैश्यं तपसॆ

शूद्रं तमसॆ तस्करं नारकाय वीरहणं पाप्मनॆ क्लीबमाक्र या

या२अयॊगूं कामाय पु३श्चलूमति क्रुष्टाय मागधम

brahmaNE brahmaNaM kShatraaya raajanyaM marudbhyO vaiSyaM tapasE

SUdraM tamasE taskaraM naarakaaya vIrahaNaM paapmanE klIbamaakra yaa

yaa2ayOgUM kaamaaya pu3ScalUmati kruShTaaya maagadham

(SlOka 1641 , adhyaaya 30 , Yajur Veda)

    This sloka from Yajurveda is very promising in knowing the duties performed by           different kinds of people in the grand olden days. Accordingly “a Brahmana has to    perform his duties as Brahmana, Kshatriya as Rajan, Maruts as Vaisyas, Sudra has to conduct his duty with devotion (tapas) to his master, a deceptive person will have Tamas guna…Magadhas should call the king in the morning with their inherent talent to sing  (kruShTa = singing the same song repeatedly)…”


नृत्तय सूतं गीताय शैलूषं धर्माय सभाचरं

सरिष्टाय भीमलं नर्माय रॆभगंहसाय कारिमानन्दाय स्त्रीषखं

प्रमदॆ कुमारीपुत्रं मॆधायै रधकारं धैर्याय तक्षाणम

nRuttaya sUtaM gItaaya SailUShaM dharmaaya sabhaacaraM

sariShTaaya bhImalaM narmaaya rEbhagaMhasaaya kaarimaanandaaya strIShakhaM

pramadE kumaarIputraM mEdhaayai radhakaaraM dhairyaaya takShaaNam

( SlOka 1642 , adhyaaya 30, Yajur Veda )

    “Sutas shall be perfect in dance, dancers shall be perfect in singing, and Court shall have Justice as its duty, who are about to face tragedy (sariShTa) shall be brave, clowns (rebha) shall cultivate humor, (stage) performers (karim) shall be in a happy mode, gandharvas (pramada) shall accompany apsarasas (stri), kumaari (woman) shall bear children, maker of Rathas          (chariots) shall have intellect and mettle, a thief….

Pl read my book, “A Tribute to the Ancient World of India” for further information.