Varna System was based on Guna. This sounds so nice but how we can classify people based on Guna because ...

Varna are only 4 and the number of Guna or combination of Gunas can be infinite as it's related to human nature which we can't classify in only 4 Varna.

I am not able to frame my thought so creating table

%age of
like Guna
%age of
like Guna
%age of
like Guna
%age of
like Guna
(Dominating Gunas)
0             0 0 Can someone be absolutely Brahmin? I guess No
0%   100%
(Dominating Gunas)
0% 0% Can someone be absolutely Kshatriya? I guess No
0%   0% 100%
(Dominating Gunas)
0% Can someone be absolutely Vaishyas  ? I guess No
0%   0% 0% 100%
(Dominating Gunas)
Can someone be absolutely Shudra? I guess No
(Dominating Gunas)  
3% 2% 4% We will call him Brahmin
(Dominating Gunas)  
6% 10% 6% We will call him too Brahmin
1% 89%
(Dominating Gunas)
4% 6% We will call him Kshatriya   
3% 77%
(Dominating Gunas)
5% 5% We will call him too Kshatriya   
2% 3% 93%
(Dominating Gunas)
2% We will call him Vaishya   
4% 5% 82%
(Dominating Gunas)
9% We will call him too Vaishya   
3% 5% 8% 84%
(Dominating Gunas)
We will call him Shudra  
11% 7% 9% 73%
(Dominating Gunas)
We will call him too Shudra  
25% 25% 25% 25% Of course such a combination of Gunas is possible because someone can be interested in knowledge, fighting, administration/merchant and serving others.
What would be his/her Varna?
10% 40% 40% 10% Of course such a combination of Gunas is possible because someone can be interested in fighting, administration/merchant  and small interest in knowledge and serving others also
What would be his/her Varna?
40% 10% 10% 40% Of course such a combination of Gunas is possible like the previous case, What would be his/her Varna?
(where 0<w<100)
(Where 0<x<100)
(Where 0<y<100)
(Where 0<z<100)
Of course such infinite combinations of Gunas are possible, What would be their Varna?

Its not easy to classify poeple into only 4 category so how Varna system was working? Was it really based on only Gunas? Or we were forcing people to adjust their gunas so they can be fit in 4 Varna?

  • 3
    A Varna system based on gunas does not work. It is an imaginary system, it can not be followed practically and its useful only in theoretical discussions/debates in forums and elsewhere on internet. It has no utility in real life.
    – Rickross
    Sep 5, 2021 at 12:30
  • @Rickross: Can you answer hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/48935/… ?
    – Alok
    Sep 11, 2021 at 6:30
  • 1
    You can see my answer here (hinduism.stackexchange.com/a/16900). Caste system is primarily based on birth when it is to be practiced and followed (which is what is meant to be). But Karmas and Gunas also play their roles. For example a Brahmin by birth who has not undergone Upanayana Samskara is more or less like a Shudra in religious aspects. Similarly, a Brahmin who has Upanayana but with bad deeds and habits is equal to a Chandala.
    – Rickross
    Sep 11, 2021 at 7:16
  • 1
    @Rickross: Thank you :)
    – Alok
    Sep 12, 2021 at 16:28

2 Answers 2


A Varna system based on the gunas is not a practical system just as a jati system based on birth is an absurd and demeaning system. In todays age very few people will accept any birth based discrimination. A birth based system was linked with jobs in ancient times. The latest news in Tamil Nadu is that a 'non-Brahmin' lady has been appointed as a priest in a major TN temple by the Stalin government. This is what will happen in future. The father of a CM has asked villagers to not allow Brahmins into their villages. I was told by an official of the Kalighat Kali temple in Kolkata that most of the Sanskrit pouting priests outside the temple are really Dalits from states like Telengana. Society is not accepting any birth based system. There is no long term future for the birth based system. I have given below a discussion on the impracticality of the Varna system.

One's own duty, even if without excellence (i.e. inferior in the scale of worldly values)is more meritorious spiritually than the apparently well-performed duty of another. For no sin is incurred by one doing works ordained according to one's nature.

[Gita 18.47]

These verses, which were easy for our ancients to understand, pose great difficulty for us today. So long as Varna was identified with the endogamous caste, and valid texts ascribed particular works to each caste it was easy to find out one's Svadharma, and if one had a will, to perform it too. That a priest's son should be a priest, a soldier's son a soldier, a merchant's son a merchant, an agriculturist's son an agriculturist, a serf's son a serf - is an arrangement that could be practised to some extent in the old feudal society when educational opportunities were restricted, when there was no choice in following professions, when social contacts were limited, and when the validity of the system was accepted by the people in general. But today such an idea of Svadharma hereditarily determined, is impossible of practice. Society and professions have become competitive. The imparting of education without any restriction imposed by caste, has helped the shuffling of professional abilities among all members of society, setting aside hereditary factors. So it has become honourable for any one to follow any profession, and the determination of Svadharma based on birth as in a caste based economy, has become impractical and impossible, and also undesirable. In a democratic society, the same kind of education is open to all, and every one is eligible, according to one's qualification and capacity, to positions of power, prestige and high income. In these days of national armies every able-bodied citizen has the eligibility to be recruited - he may even be conscripted - in the armed forces of the country. In such a milieu, if the Gita idea of Svadharma is accepted as caste based, as it was understood a few generations back, and as it used to be interpreted by old commentators, then it has become thoroughly outmoded and will be rejected by every section of society in India and outside.

But as already pointed out, the wording of the Gita about Caturvarnya, except as interpreted by old commentators, does not mean endogamous castes, but the four psychological types. If this is accepted, Svadharma would mean only work that springs out of one's own nature and therefore adapted to one's natural development. But how to recognise these types and how to provide them with work suited to their nature - is a problem that cannot be solved. We have to leave work based on psychological type as an ideal arrangement in a more rationally organised society of the future. There is no other way today but to understand Svadharma as the duty devolving on oneself in society, inclusive of the profession one follows. If that is done well with God in view, and not merely for remuneration or with a worldly master in view, then one may be said to follow Svadharma.

Commentary on Gita 18.47 by Swami Tapasyananda in his English translation of Srimad Bhagavad Gita.


The gunas as per the Bhagavad Gita are the various qualities within a person suited for the job. Of guna, there are three types. Sattvas, are the guna of knowledge. They illuminate the self, giving happiness, and joy. While I don't like to compare scientific concepts with philosophical ones think of a proton. It can hold energy while still being stable in the nucleus of an atom. Next is the rajas a guna of passion. This being has energy but in an unstable manner. This leads to craving think of a toddler who had sugar. All energetic, but not knowing how to use that energy. This is also like an electron which has a negative energy and is not stable until its valence electron shells are filled. Finally, there is tamas which is like a neutron, being a dull mass. Think of you sitting on the couch scrolling on YouTube shorts just for the sake of it. Or just eating junk food, because it's easy to get. Rather than satisfying attachment, this guna has uncaringness or aversion to everything. Leading to ignorance and delusion. To summarize the sattvas represent satisfaction in what is already there. Neither craving nor averse to anything. The rajas are that craving for more satisfaction and the tamas represent aversion and uncaringness to everything. Of course, a priest and spiritual master would be considered sattvic. They need knowledge to illuminate themselves and others. A warrior can use his rajistic energy to fight in a war effectively. A Vaishya being equal in all 4 varnas or similar is best at managing businesses where various situations may arise where one varna may need to be used or another. A Shudra represents your everyday man or worker usually ignorant of spiritual knowledge. These beings offer labor unto others like the workers of today do to a business or corporation. Unlike what you may think the Gita explains by doing the duty born of your OWN nature, you may attain moksha or salvation. Please keep in mind people have different percentages of these Varnas within them as well as their own atma or individual. Gunas are more like tendencies rather than characteristics. https://www.holy-bhagavad-gita.org/index Gita chapters 14 and 18 give the best summary of this for a more authoritative explanation. I also suggest Gita verse 4.13. Karma is also a big part of Varna. Karma in this context likely means any action done in the past. One needs to understand Karma and Gunas are directly related. By being able to find your internal tendencies you better understand how you act. Through this, you can find which Varna you are most suited for you. Which you can use in turn to achieve moksha.

  • @Rickross I think it's better to understand the Gunas from an internal or spiritual level versus a literal one. While Varna certainly won't work in a modern world in regards to it being implemented as a Smirti on society, which I think fundamentally destroys the whole point of Varna and the Gunas. I see it more as looking at your actions in total and why you act to choose an occupation that suits you best to help yourself as well as others around you.
    – Haridasa
    Nov 11, 2023 at 4:44
  • 1
    Read my question again. I did not ask about varna. Is varna based on Guna only ? or its based on Guna and other parameters? If yes then what are those other parameters?
    – Alok
    Nov 11, 2023 at 4:55
  • Sorry sir as per the Bhagavad Gita it is based on Gunas and Karma. 4.13 for reference. Other scriptures may however hold slightly different beliefs in regards to Varna.
    – Haridasa
    Nov 11, 2023 at 13:19
  • Please edit your answer to put relevant sentences. you are saying that Varna depends on guna and karma then write on these in your answer. No need to elaborate each varna as that was not asked.
    – Alok
    Nov 11, 2023 at 16:16
  • Alright I edited it sir! :)
    – Haridasa
    Nov 12, 2023 at 0:22

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