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

1 Answer 1


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.


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