Even if earlier Varna was not birth based, and later it degenerated into birth base Varna and even later into birth based caste system. But whether there are counter arguments within Hinduism(esp. Hindu scriptures) regarding this degeneration into Birth based Varna/Caste system?

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    varna does not translate as caste. jati does not translate as caste. The word caste was introduced by the Portuguese. See "Classifying the Universe: The Ancient Indian Varna System and the Origins of Caste" by Brian K. Smith and also "Indra's Net: Defending Hinduism's Philosophical Unity" by Rajiv Malhotra – Swami Vishwananda Mar 21 '18 at 4:53
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    Go through Yudhisthira's argument in the answer to this question hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/4089/… – Pradip Gangopadhyay Mar 21 '18 at 10:55
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    Possible duplicate of Can a Sudra become a Brahmin in 'this' birth? – Rakesh Joshi Mar 25 '18 at 21:10
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    Varna is based entirely on birth, because if it wasn't, then anyone can claim to be part of any Varna before doing any action. For example, a Brahmin can identify as a Shudra before going into a bar to drink alcohol, thereby incurring no sin. – Ikshvaku Mar 27 '18 at 15:14
  • There is no counter arguments because by default it is birth based. it is only later a Brahmin can become Shudra (very easy) and a Shudra can become Brahmin (extremely difficult). From my own experiences I have never found Shudra who has changed his conduct or way of living although I have found some mixed castes turned themselves very noble. One who can become Brahmin from Shudra is also capable to get Moksha. – Mr. Sigma. Mar 27 '18 at 17:09

7.11 The Perfect Society: Four Social Classes) of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa):

यस्य यल्लक्षणं प्रोक्तं पुंसो वर्णाभिव्यञ्जकम्।

यदन्यत्रापि दृश्येत तत्तेनैव विनिर्दिशेत् ॥३५

[Nārada Muni:]

If one shows the symptoms of being a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra, as described above, even if he has appeared [born] in a different class, he should be accepted according to those symptoms of classification.

Vana Parva: Tirtha-yatra Parva of Mahabharata:

A Sudra is not a Sudra by birth alone--nor a Brahmana is Brahmana by birth alone. He, it is said by the wise, in whom are seen those virtues is a Brahmana. And people term him a Sudra in whom those qualities do not exist, even though he be a Brahmana by birth.

Vana Parva: Markandeya-Samasya Parva of Mahabharata:

A man, may be born in the Sudra caste, but if he is possessed of good qualities, he may attain the state of Vaisya and similarly that of a Kshatriya, and if he is steadfast in rectitude, he may even become a Brahmana.

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa) 9.2:

From the kṣatriya known as Agniveśya came the celebrated brāhmaṇa dynasty known as Āgniveśyāyana.

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa) 9.2:

Manu also had a son known as Dhṛṣṭa, from whom another sect of kṣatriyas was generated, but although they were born of one who had the qualities of a kṣatriya, they became brāhmaṇas."

Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (Bhāgavata Purāṇa) 5.4.13:

In addition to these nineteen sons mentioned above, there were eighty-one younger ones, all born of Ṛṣabhadeva and Jayantī. According to the order of their father, they became well-cultured, well-behaved, very pure in their activities and expert in Vedic knowledge and the performance of Vedic rituals. Thus they all became perfectly qualified brāhmaṇas.

Santi Parva: Rajadharmanusasana Parva of Mahabharata:

That wretched Brahmana who falls away from his duties and whose behaviour becomes wicked, becomes, O king, a Sudra.


Vishvamitra was a kshatriya king earlier. Later, he undertook intense penance and attained brahminhood. This is discussed here.

Bali Maharaj (son of a Daitya) will become next Indra. This is discussed here.

Related Post(s)

Any references where varna/caste is determined independent of birth/parentage?

Can a Sudra become a Brahmin in 'this' birth?

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    You may want to add Mahabharata verse mentioned in my question hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/28905/…. Even though that verse doesn't talk of varna being dependent on character, knowledge or actions, it shows that varna status change is possible even from lower varna to higher. – Aks Sep 29 '18 at 17:02

Shanti Parva of Mahabharata says people of all varnas can perform sacrifices as at first only Brahmin Varna was created, from Brahmin Varna only other Varnas emerged.

Bharadwaja said, 'If the distinction between the four orders (of human beings) be made by means only of color (attribute), then it seems that all the four orders have been mingled together. Lust, wrath, fear, cupidity, grief, anxiety, hunger, toil, possess and prevail over all men. How can men be distinguished by the possession of attributes? The bodies of all men emit sweat, urine, faeces, phlegm, bile, and blood. How then can men be distributed into classes? Of mobile objects the number is infinite; the species also of immobile objects are innumerable. How, then, can objects of such very great diversity be distributed into classes?'

"Bhrigu said, 'There is really no distinction between the different orders. The whole world at first consisted of Brahmanas. Created (equal) by Brahman, men have, in consequence of their acts, become distributed into different orders. They that became fond of indulging in desire and enjoying pleasures, possessed of the attributes of severity and wrath, endued with courage, and unmindful of the duties of piety and worship,--these Brahmanas possessing the attribute of Passion,--became Kshatriyas. Those Brahmanas again who, without attending to the duties laid down for them, became possessed of both the attributes of Goodness and Passion, and took to the professions of cattle-rearing and agriculture, became Vaisyas. Those Brahmanas again that became fond of untruth and injuring other creatures, possessed of cupidity,--engaged in all kinds of acts for a living, and fallen away from purity of behaviour, and thus wedded to the attribute of Darkness, became Sudras. Separated by these occupations, Brahmanas, falling away from their own order, became members of the other three orders. All the four orders, therefore, have always the right to the performance of all pious duties and of sacrifices.

Mahabharata Shanti Prava book 12 Section CLXXXVIII

Also, the very next chapter says Varna is not birth based.

Bharadwaja said, 'By what acts does one become a Brahmana? By what, a Kshatriya? O best of regenerate ones, by what acts again does one become a Vaisya or a Sudra? Tell me this, O foremost of speakers.'

"Bhrigu said, 'That person is called a Brahmana who has been sanctified by such rites as those called jata and others; who is pure in behaviour; who is engaged in studying the Vedas; who is devoted to the six well-known acts (of ablutions every morning and evening, silent recitation of mantras, pouring libations on the sacrificial fire, worshiping the deities, doing the duties of hospitality to guests, and offering food to the Viswedevas); who is properly observant of all pious acts; who never takes food without having offered it duly to gods and guests; who is filled with reverence for his preceptor; and who is always devoted to vows and truth. He is called a Brahmana in whom are truth, gifts, abstention from injury to others, compassion, shame, benevolence, and penance. He who is engaged in the profession of battle, who studies the Vedas, who makes gifts (to Brahmanas) and takes wealth (from those he protects) is called a Kshatriya. He who earns fame from keep of cattle, who is employed in agriculture and the means of acquiring wealth, who is pure in behaviour and attends to the study of the Vedas, is called a Vaisya. He who takes pleasure in eating every kind of food, who is engaged in doing every kind of work, who is impure in behaviour, who does not study the Vedas, and whose conduct is unclean, is said to be a Sudra. If these characteristics be observable in a Sudra, and if they be not found in a Brahmana, then such a Sudra is no Sudra, and, such a Brahmana is no Brahmana.

Mahabharata Shanti Parva Book 12 Section CLXXXIX

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