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Consider the following words by Arjuna in Bagavath Geetha.

यद्यप्येते न पश्यन्ति लोभोपहतचेतस: | कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं मित्रद्रोहे च पातकम् || 38||

कथं न ज्ञेयमस्माभि: पापादस्मान्निवर्तितुम् | कुलक्षयकृतं दोषं प्रपश्यद्भिर्जनार्दन || 39||

कुलक्षये प्रणश्यन्ति कुलधर्मा: सनातना: | धर्मे नष्टे कुलं कृत्स्नमधर्मोऽभिभवत्युत || 40||

अधर्माभिभवात्कृष्ण प्रदुष्यन्ति कुलस्त्रिय: | स्त्रीषु दुष्टासु वार्ष्णेय जायते वर्णसङ्कर: || 41||

सङ्करो नरकायैव कुलघ्नानां कुलस्य च | पतन्ति पितरो ह्येषां लुप्तपिण्डोदकक्रिया: || 42||

दोषैरेतै: कुलघ्नानां वर्णसङ्करकारकै: | उत्साद्यन्ते जातिधर्मा: कुलधर्माश्च शाश्वता: || 43||

Since there are different versions of English translations available that may imply different meanings, I am avoiding presenting all those English translations here.

Arjuna is saying that one needs to preserve the dharmas of her caste and if she destroys them by doing varna-sankarya then pitrus won't get the Sraddha offerings and she will go to hell. The pitrus also will fall from higher planes.

All these statements of Arjuna are following the scriptures. I am not asking for the validity of the statements. I am only asking for the validity of using the statements of Arjuna for the contemporary caste system. There is no need to restrict to these statements of Arjuna only, this question applies to the statements of all scriptures that disallow inter-caste marriages.

Many orthodox people are uses these verses (of Arjuna) to discourage all inter-caste marriages and to promote the same caste marriages only. I want to know the relevance of these statements for the majority of castes in current days.

It is well-known that many entities are induced by an individual from her caste. I am not asking about the castes that are strict in preserving those entities i.e., traditions, rules, occupations, etc., based on scriptures as Arjuna's statements apply to them.

As per my knowledge, many castes that exist today originated in History. Although people from those castes are strict about marriages within their castes, they don't have any explicit kula/varna dharmas or traditions. People from those castes are not even following their occupations. They are not preserving any other entity and I don't know whether they have any such entities based on scriptures as they are of historical origin. And it should be noted that an individual can get her caste intact if and only if all her ancestors, (at least from the last five to ten generations), preserve it. So, I believe that varna/kula-sankarya has already happened. But the marriages are happening for the namesake only either for economic or political reasons and not for scriptural reasons. The economic reason is to preserve assets and distribute them within the same caste only. Political reason is to keep united and support a political party of their interest. It is also useful to note those same caste marriages may lead to genetic disorders, which is the opposite of inter-caste marriages. This might be happening because of leaving traditions, occupations, etc., but not leaving marriages in the same caste.

It is given in scriptures that a family needs to do the same occupation for at least five to seven generations to change or evolve into the new caste of that occupation. If we force to apply the lines of Arjuna to the present-day castes, then there will be no caste-occupation mapping, and no explicit traditions, which tends to continue the ill effects of varna sankarya on the people. So, it is necessary to do inter-caste marriages rampantly such that occupation-based castes will be evolved in future generations along with the adaption of good traditions if needed. Thus, I believe that the words of Arjuna should be applied only to the castes that are strict about their occupations, traditions, etc., and not to the castes, of historical origin, that have no explicit traditions, occupations, etc.


Am I missing anything? Are there any other aspects I should consider that make the statements of Arjuna applicable in discouraging contemporary inter-caste marriages?

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    A point we may note here that this is Arjuna Uvacha, and not Bhagavan Uvacha. In Bhagavan's reply in the 2nd Chapter, he doesn't acknowledge this argument of Arjuna.
    – Surya
    Jun 10, 2022 at 4:04
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    Inter caste marriage is condemned in all scriptures .. are you asking whether such prohibitions are valid in Kali Yuga or not?
    – Rickross
    Jun 10, 2022 at 9:35
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    Okay understood what you're trying to say @hanugm
    – Rickross
    Jun 10, 2022 at 9:51
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    @hanugm - standard rule of thumb - All rules are valid for all yugas. But as we go from Krita to Treta to Dwapar to Kali, the number of people following these rules reduces. So, they try to change the idea to that the rule itself is wrong. It's like - we have to stop at red light. But when 90% of people don't stop at light, they say 'stopping at red light itself is wrong'. No - the rules are never wrong. It is the degraded people who are wrong.
    – ram
    Jun 11, 2022 at 0:02
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    if they decide they're going to follow varnashram dharma from now on, then marry within their same (mixed) varna - the big list of mixed varnas is given in some other question on this site. then within a couple of generations of their sons and grandsons following that varna, they will become experts in that occupation and gain fame. if they continue to wander between one and another, then it's like each generation starting from scratch so they will throw away all generational knowledge and be mediocre in whichever "passion" field they choose.
    – ram
    Jun 11, 2022 at 22:10

1 Answer 1

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Arjuna's statement is invalidated by Krishna's definition of Varnashram dharma.

According to the aptitudes resulting from the dispositions of Nature (gunas) and works (karma), the social order of fourfold division has been created by Me. Though I am their originator, know me not to be an agent but the spirit unchanging.

Gita 4.13

If Varna depends on birth in endogamous groups then Varna-sankara will mean mixing of the two different endogamous groups. If Varna only depends on guna and Karma and not birth in endogamous groups there will then be no mixing of endogamous groups when 2 people of different Varna marry. The collapse of the idea of Varna-sankara is the reason why Lord Krishna did not bother to answer Arjuna's question.

The whole concept of varna-sankara collapses if Varna depends on karma and guna and not on birth in an endogamous group.

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    This does not invalidate arjuna's statement at all. Bhagavan created the 4 varnas based on guna & karma. It does not mean humans can choose any of the 4 varnas based on how they are feeling on Monday and Tuesday. Humans guna & karma is based on their birth varna. and how they act in this birth determines their guna & karma & varna in next birth.
    – ram
    Jun 10, 2022 at 23:59
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    @mar, guna here does not mean Sattva, Rajas or Tamas but rather skills. So, a bramhin who fights with weapons is a Kshatriya and a King who reads scriptures and performs Yajnas is a bramhin. Jun 11, 2022 at 5:02
  • @kesarlingHe-Him- those skills are just a reflection of the combination of satva, rajas, tamas. by that logic, dronacharya is a kshatriya ? No. In fact, he gets scolded by Sapta Rishis at end of Mahabharat war for transgressing the code of brahmins by fighting. Your varna doesn't change because you picked up a weapon to fight or a spoon to do yagna. If that was case, I could be Brahmin at 8am, Vaishya at 11 am, Shudra at 6pm on the same day.. so on.
    – ram
    Jun 11, 2022 at 15:01
  • //and how they act in this birth determines their guna & karma & varna in next birth// Sir can you give a source for this statement? @mar
    – LSSJ Broly
    Dec 24, 2022 at 12:15
  • @LSSJBroly - it is there in some smritis - those shudras who do their duty properly in this birth go to gandharva loka, vaishyas who stick to their duty go to kubera loka, kshatriyas to indra loka, brahmanas to brahma loka etc. and after their punya is almost over, they get born back to next (promoted) varna.
    – ram
    Dec 28, 2022 at 0:14

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