I have read the Geeta but I am unable to understand what exactly is someone's Dharma. If I am an established teacher from a kshatriya varna, is my dharma to teach or to protect/fight in a war? For example, Parshurama was born in a brahmin family but he portrayed himself as a kshatriya. Does that mean he was adharmic? If he wasn't adharmic, then what is the reason for having the caste-system as anyone from any caste can do any occupation as they desire?

  • 3
    see this:hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/289/…
    – Garg's
    Dec 21 '15 at 7:20
  • See this answer to know about ancient Varna System. Today's caste system is meaningless.
    – The Destroyer
    Dec 21 '15 at 9:39
  • Very good question. IMHO Dharma is something deeper than that. Dharma is not about doing your duty or etc. It is about being true to your conscience. That is Dharma. inside everyone the Lord resides in the form of conscience. When people wholeheartedly follow this, they are being Dharmic. Living from your heart is righteousness and lying to yourself is Adharma. The saints, who have conquered their lust, anger, greed, delusion, pride and envy (arishadvargas) are being true to their conscience and they are Dharmic. Seeking God (or One's True Self) is one's Svadharma. All the best.
    – Sai
    Dec 21 '15 at 15:56

The answer to your question can be found by scrutinising the Gita verses on Varna.

I am posting the relevant Gita verses on varna:

O great hero! The duties of Brahmanas, Ksatriyas, Vaisyas and also Sudras have been divided according to the quality born of their own nature. [Gita 18.41]

Serenity, control of the sense, austerity, purity, straight-forwardness, knowledge, insight, and faith in the Supreme Being - these are a Brahman's duties born of his own nature. [Gita 18.42]

Prowess, splendor of personality, unfailing courage, resourcefulness, dauntless in battle, generosity, leadership - these are a Ksatriya's duties born of his specific nature. [Gita 18.43]

Agriculture, cattle-rearing and trade form the duty of the Vaisya springing from his own nature, while the natural duty of a Sudra consists in subordinate service under others. [Gita 18.44]

By being devoted to one's own natural duty, man attains to spiritual competency. Now hear how devotion to one's own natural duty generates spiritual competency. [Gita 18.45]

From whom all beings have emanated and by whom all this universe is pervaded - by worshipping Him through the dedicated performance of one's duty, man attains to spiritual competency. [Gita 18.46]

One's own duty, even if without excellence (i.e. inferior in the scale of worldy 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]

As can be seen Gita varna is dependent on Karma and Gunas and has nothing to do with the last name dependent Jati system of Hindus. Varna is not dependent on occupation. It is the other way round. Occupation should be chosen according to your Varna or mental makeup. Look at the bolded portion of Gita 18.47 where you are asked to choose an occupation that suits your nature. Thus it does not matter what Jati someone is born into. What is important is the mental makeup due to Karma and Gunas of the person. Thus Parshurama must have felt that his mental makeup is closer to that of a Kshatriya than to other Varnas. Drona also chose to be a weapons instructor presumably because it suited his mental makeup. You cannot ask a Sachin Tendulkar to be a rocket scientist while an Abdul Kalam will simply not succeed as a cricketer. One has to choose that work which best suits him.

  • The explanation for BG 18.47 from vedabase.com - the merchant should not think that because he is engaged in an occupation in which the telling of lies is compulsory, he should give up his profession and pursue the profession of a brāhmaṇa - seems to be in direct contradiction of "one has to choose that work which best suits him." So what should a person from today's generation, born in to a merchant family, do, if he doesn't want to lie in his profession to get ahead of competition? Is it ok to quit and pick up another line of work? Dec 21 '15 at 19:59
  • The explanation from vedabase is peculiar to say the least. What if the merchant does not want to tell lies? Should he still stick to that profession? What about the example of Valmiki alias Ratnakar the robber? If you follow the vedabase explanation Ratnakar should have stuck to robbery. A modern example is Dr. Saraswat, a former head of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). He said in an interview that he did not like being a business man in which his community specialises and studied science because he liked to do it. Dec 22 '15 at 6:14
  • @PradipGangopadhyay Valmiki may have been raised to be a robber, but he was actually the son of Varuna. And it is no one's dharma to be a robber. On the other hand, it is some people's Dharma to be a Vaishya. Dec 22 '15 at 7:51
  • @KeshavSrinivasan, I was commenting on the peculiar Vedabase explanation. Is lying dharma? Just as Valmiki changed from being a robber to a sage and author similarly a person tired of lying has every right to change his occupation. His ancestry should not matter. Dec 22 '15 at 9:02
  • @PradipGangopadhyay Well, we just have fundamentally different views of the caste system - I think ancestry does matter, and both the Brahma Sutras and all the commentaries on the Brahma Sutras agree. But in any case, I agree with you that Prabhupada's suggestion that lying is part of the dharma of a Vaishya is awfully strange and very likely wrong. I assume that a Vaishya who lies is committing a sin, in which case the proper course of action would be to continue to be a merchant but do so honestly. But I don't think it's acceptable to leave the merchant profession altogether. Dec 22 '15 at 9:09

I think caste or casting is meant to improve the process only. But the word been over killed in india due to political reasons.

I feel every one of us have the freedom to choose what we want to do. In a age where a Tea seller will lead a country like King. A refuge become a founder of top company. It is about the choice we make and whether we are giving our best to it.

Dharma for me is not derived from verna now. It is the conscious choice of what you choose to be and whether you are giving your best to it or not.

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    Welcome to Hi.SX. We encourage you to provide citation for the answer. Dec 21 '15 at 12:38

Valmiki Ramayana says, "Raamo vigrahavan dharmaha" i.e. Rama is dharma personified.

In Bhagavad Gita,Lord Krishna says :

"Sarva dharman parityajya mam ekam sharanam vraja, ahantva sarva paapebyo moksha iccha mi maa suchaha"

Which is giving up the 32 Vidyas like sad vidya, bhuma vidya etc, surrender to Lord krishna/Vishnu/Narayana alone, and He alone will destroy all the karmas and grant moksha.

In Vishnu sagasranama, part of vyasa Mahabharata, bheeshma says :

"Dharmasya Prabhur achyuthaha" i.e. Achyutha is the actual dharma.

In Vishnu Sahasranama bhasya of Adi Shankar's, for VrishaKapi and many other names, the Lord of Dharma is Lord Varaha.

Vyasa Mahabharata says Dharma protected Draupadi during vastrapaharanam. This Dharma is identified as Lord Krishna only by all acharyas.

So, worshiping and saranagati to Krishna/Vishnu/Narayana alone is the ultimate dharma.

  • This answers the question in the title but not in context of the body of the question (Parshurama was born in a brahmin family but he portrayed himself as a kshatriya. Does that mean he was adharmic?) Dec 23 '15 at 15:50
  • @SV. - Lord never violates Dharma. You might come with many instances where it appears outwardly that Lord has done so. But, he never violates Dharma. He protects those who follow dharma and punishes those who trouble dhamics and sadhu janas. There is absolutely no violation. Dharma's are two types samanya dharma and vishesha dharma. Vishesha dharma over rides samanya dharma which you have quoted.
    – user808
    Dec 23 '15 at 16:01
  • I believe OP is asking in general ("If I am an established teacher from a kshatriya varna, is my dharma to teach or to protect/fight in a war?"), considering Parashurama as a brahmana or a kshatriya but not as an incarnation of God. The message in your answer is not clear to me; are you indirectly implying that varna or the caste-system has no meaning or doesn't matter in the end? Dec 23 '15 at 23:20
  • @SV. - As far as Parashurama and other avatavaras are concerned there is nothing adharmic about it, as already informed. Coming to worldly men and women, varna and caste doesn't get nullified fully because it is applicable to this body and not to the soul. If someone is highly evolved soul, like a bhagavatha, that person has to be respected highly and should be accorded all the due respects, irrespective of caste and varna.
    – user808
    Dec 24 '15 at 1:38
  • @SV. - For e.g. bhagavathas are considered not only sub servient to Lord Vishnu but also sub servient to each other, irrespective of caste or varna. But, that doesn't mean one gives up all the rules laid out in scriptures like those mandatory activities which are mandated in sastras like nitya and naimittika karmas as prescribed as per his or her own state of being. I can say only this much with the limited info i have on this aspect. For more information, one can approach bona fide acharyas or highly evolved learned bhagavathas for more clarification.
    – user808
    Dec 24 '15 at 1:42

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