Equality of Man
The hard reality that different people are blessed with different intellects, temperaments, men are not equal. Division of society into groups based on common vocation, interest is common. Recognizing difference in temperaments, those possessing aspirations were Brahmins, those possessing energy with the urge to purify were Kshatriyas, those possessing energy without aspirations were Vaishyas and those possesing inertia were Shudras. The Kshatriyas and Vaishyas received education in the Brahman’s house but could not do the duties allotted to Brahmans. A Kshatriya was the protector and the upholder of Dharma. The Vaishya was the producer and distributor of wealth. A Shudra could serve the Brahman, follow arts and crafts, enter the army and when in distress follow the vocation of Vaishya. He could not study the Vedas but could study the Puranas, Epics.
Thus a place was accorded in society to each group according to the duties and functions that it could perform best. If the west truly believed in the equality of man, what was the need for Martin Luther King? Inspite of material prosperity, there is racial discrimination in Germany; the Blacks of America are poor.
The Dalits of today are critical of Manu Smriti, the caste system etc. While I empathize with their plight and the problems faced by them what prevents them from studying, working harder (not that do not), and facing up to life to improve their conditions. Do they not see that there are poor people belonging to the other three castes? Former Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Manohar Joshi is believed to have come to Mumbai virtually penniless. While some of you may questions the means, none can deny the hard work that has gone into making him a prosperous businessmen today. If a member of the backward caste can become a distinguished member of the country’s foreign service and be its President, cannot others attempt to reach half way? Are not problems faced by all of us? Are they unique to my dalit brothers? Also read ‘Rediscovering India’ section Dharampal.
When two children of the same parents can have different intellects so also can people of the same country.
To understand the social philosophy we must try and remove certain ideas that we have been ingrained into our minds. Manava Dharma ruled out a competitive society because such a society has a tendency to stimulate egotism, greed, and untruth. On the other hand, by following the competitive model, there is no equality either. Employment is uncertain and worry, frustration engulfs you. Insecurity, frustration, tension, heart-attacks, blood-pressure follow. In a competitive society, the strong will prosper while the poor will be pushed towards the wall, their minds filled with envy and hatred. Some sociologists believe that the riots in India are a result of the class conflict between the have be and have nots.
Some of you might argue, that if there is no competition, how do, we decide admission into medical colleges, employees get increments, we bring out the best in individuals. Competition is a part of modern society but it is our approach to it that determines our state of mind. If we were to enter an examination hall worried about how tough the paper would be or start worrying about the results after appearing we are bound to get stressed. On the other hand if our approach were to be study hard, give it our best short and leave the rest for the future to decide we would be much happier.
Manav Dharma takes into account the biological fact that every person is likely to inherit the traits and aptitudes of his parents. Family association would make more easily available for the child to uphold family traditions and value. Working with a community spirit leads to greater degree of cooperation. If one’s duties are clearly laid down the scope for greed, self-indulgence, a life of egotism is reduced.
Some of you might argue that how system would work in a globalised economy and in mega corporations like General Electric, Unilever. We must realize that the Manu Smiriti was written thousand of years of ago. What was relevant then might not be wholly relevant today. But the concept of joint effort, cooperation, different traits in human beings are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago.