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According to proponents of guṇa-based varṇa system (i.e., those that do not believe you are born into one specific Hindu varṇa), can a Christian or Muslim be also a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, etc., based on the guṇas they acquired during the course of their life?

For example, can a learned man and a practicing Muslim like the former/late President of India A. P. J. Abdul Kalam be called a brāhmaṇa?

Also, according to this system, are qualities (guṇas) that describe the 4 four varṇas are present in all individuals? I.e., can a brāhmaṇa behave like śūdra at times and vice versa?

  • Even plants and soil and gemstones can be classified in four categories... – Rakesh Joshi Apr 16 '18 at 16:42
  • Guna-based varna system is a theoretical concept so far. there is no any mean by which it can be manifested into practicality. – Mr. Sigma. Apr 16 '18 at 16:43
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    @RakeshJoshi Plants I agree. But lifeless soil and gemstones? – sv. Apr 16 '18 at 16:45
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    "guṇa-based varṇa system" - this is a case of chicken & egg. Because one exhibits fighting tendencies in this birth, he will be born in a family of kshatriyas in the next. Because he is born in a family of kshatriyas in this birth, he has a head-start in physical & mental strength to fight enemies, and if he follows those as a duty, he helps society and achieve salvation. Krishna is saying "If you're born as a 6'6" tall, fast male in a family of athletes, try and become a basketball player, instead of being an accountant", to which people scream "OOOH BIRTH-BASED DOWN DOWN" – ram Apr 16 '18 at 21:06
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    most people who are angry about the birth-based varna, are confused about what path to follow, because of the above mentioned varna-sankara. But there is one path that is open to all - letting go of the ego. – ram Apr 16 '18 at 21:09
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"can a Christian or Muslim be also a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, etc., based on the guṇas they acquired during the course of their life?"

Yes.
As already stated in Gita, the classification is decided based on the nature. It is not related to ethnicity. The 4 classes are ever existent irrespective of religions.

BG 18.41 - O scorcher of enemies, the duties of the Brahmanas, the Ksatriyas and the Vaisyas, as also of the Sudras have been fully classified according to the virtues born from Nature.
-- Gambhirananda translation

There is no reference of whether only a certain group of people can be part of these 4 classes.


"For example, can a learned man and a practicing Muslim like the former/late President of India A. P. J. Abdul Kalam be called a brāhmaṇa?"

Yes [IMHO].
Coincidentally I have taken Dr. Kalam's reference as Brahmana in this answer. I will categorise Albert Einstein also in the same category. See my answer in: Who becomes a Brahmin?

Abdul Kalam had all, what it takes to become Brahmana. Started from a very humbled background (Shudra), who used to petty jobs. He was sincere and knowledgeable in his field (Brahmana). Publicly he was Never behind money (Vaishya) or fame (Kshatriya). Being bachelor throughout the life, he could have been on the path of Brahmacharya. He had love for children and always thought well about his country.


"the 4 four varṇas are present in all individuals?"

Yes.
Like how anyone cannot escape 4 directions (north/south, east/west), every individual will fall under these 4 classes without fail.
Sometimes due to inter-class marriages, certain sub-classes of these 4 classes are created. However these sub-classes are just fine-tuning of the original 4 classes. More information here:
What are the order & duties of the children born from intermixing/hybridisation of 4 classes?


"can a brāhmaṇa behave like śūdra at times and vice versa?"

Yes.
During lifetime, people may choose to alter their Swa-Dharma. e.g.

  • Mahatma Gandhi was born & worked according to Vaishya division; However at later point of his life, he acted like a Brahmana [read BG 18.42]
  • Drona/Ashwathama were Brahamana, but fought on behalf of Hastinapur as of they were Kshatriyas; Similarly Krishna was born & brought up into Vaishya division, but lived life as Kshatriya
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  • 'people may choose to alter their Swa-Dharma' - this implies people are born into a particular dharma/profession? I think this svadharma concept is closed tied to birth-based varṇa. Do you believe that everyone is a born a śūdra? – sv. Apr 17 '18 at 16:06
  • @sv. I read somewhere in this site that certain Veda declares everyone as born Shudra. Shudra is service-class while other 3 classes belong to "Dvija" (second born). How I interpret this Veda verse, is that -- all don't have those inherent qualities of being "Dvija" at birth, but rather they have to earn it by studying their respective profession/work. Personally I believe that, person assumes their parent/father's Swadharma by default. e.g. A doctor's kid tends to be doctor & actor's son tends to be actor. -- In modern times, however quality deviations happens due to external factors. – iammilind Apr 17 '18 at 16:16

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