Tag Archives: Shudras

Bhagavadgita Chapter 18 Moksha Sannyas Yoga Verse 45

Swe swe karmanyabhiratah samsiddhim labhate narah; Swakarmaniratah siddhim yathaa vindati tacchrinu.

Each man, devoted to his own duty, attains perfection. How he attains perfection while being engaged in his own duty, hear now.

Interpretation

After talking about the duties of the four varnas ie Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras, Lord is here talking about the concept of perfection. Lord says that every man has to perform some duty or the other at every moment of his life. As he is devoted to his own duty he starts to attain perfection in that. Lord here also refers to the concept of attaining perfection while he is engaged in his own duty. Thus the word perfection comes here two times, once while being devoted to his duty and the other while engaged in his duty. Then Lord tells Arjuna to listen carefully how this perfection can be attained.

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

The word one needs to focus is “own duty” or swa-dharma. What is this own duty, and how do we identify what our duty is? This is one question that Lord will answer in the coming shlokas. Not only that he is also going to talk about how a person needs to be devoted to his own duty. We see many people who when engaged in a particular activity they attain a high degree of mastery on it. I have heard story of how a kanchi sari was packed and stacked in a matchbox and sent to Queen Elizabeth. To weave a sari to fit into a matchbox is no ordinary skill and requires a very high degree of perfection. This perfection comes only through devotion and constantly doing that activity. So, let us wait what Lord says about swa-dharma and how it leads to perfection. 

Bhagavadgita Chapter 18 Moksha Sannyas Yoga Verse 44

Krishigaurakshyavaanijyam vaishyakarma swabhaavajam; Paricharyaatmakam karma shoodrasyaapi swabhaavajam.

Agriculture, cattle-rearing and trade are the duties of the Vaishya (merchant class), born of their own nature; and action consisting of service is the duty of the Sudra or servant class, born of their own nature.

Interpretation

After talking about the Brahmans and Kshatriyas who are possessed by Sattwik and Rajasic guna completely, this shloka is talking about the duties of Vaishyas and of shudras. First talking about Vaishyas, Lord says that the duties of vaishyas include agriculture and cattle rearing apart from trade. Vaishyas are engaged in the activities related to trade and both agriculture and dairy industry is in a way linked to trade. Then coming to shudras Lord says that those activities which are of a servant class, servant class here means activities which are aimed at only serving the society. Thus people who are born out of this nature are shudras.

Extending Interpretation to Mankind’s Life!

If Brahmanas are Sattwik and Kshatriyas are Rajasic, then what are Vaishyas and shudras and what is the difference between the Vaishyas and Shudras? Lord gives a clear cut differentiation which is Vaishyas have a mix of Rajasic and Tamasic nature while Shudras are complete of Tamasic nature. When an individual has a mix of both Rajasic and Tamasic qualities, he would want to work hard, lead and get into a powerful position, but because of the Tamasic nature in him, he also wants enjoyment and fulfilment of desires. That’s how he gets into trading activity, where he works very hard in his business to earn money and then he enjoys the same wealth. Enjoyment here is with alcohol, women and other materialistic pleasures.

When we look at Shudras, they have very little or no Rajasic qualities in them and they are completely dominated by Tamasic gunas which is enjoyment and ignorance. So, they do not work hard to acquire the knowledge or skill that is needed to become a sattwik or a rajasic person. That leaves him with jobs which are menial and that serve people of higher gunas. He makes pots and sells it to people, he weaves clothes and sells them to the people around. He can be a barber, he can be a tailor who stitches clothes. These are not businesses but only the sources of livelihood. People who work as clerks and other lower level cadre jobs also come under this category. This is primarily due to the absence of Rajasic qualities in them.