Our Life Is A Series Of Choices: As You Choose So You Become: Part II
Our life brings in front of us all possibilities and options to lead a life of fulfillment and peace in pursuit of worldly or in pursuit of spirituality. What we choose is up to us. This choice to some extent depends on our inclinations, circumstances, our environment and our stages of life.
VARNA SCHEME AND ASHRAMA SCHEME
Now in vedas we come across two types of progress in humans one is social and the other is personal or individual. Man is a social being so he cannot be apart from society. So development and progress of an individual is both personal as well as social.In our vedas thus we come across Varna scheme for social progress and asrama scheme for individual or personal progress. In varna scheme there are four types of varna or groups in which the society is divided based on birth, character and profession.They are Brahmana, Kshatriysa, Vaisyas and Shudras.Now by jati or by birth a person is born to Brahman parents or Kshatriyas or so on and so forth. For this we don’t have any choice.We cannot change our biological parents. It is our destiny according to our sanchit karmas.
VARNA BHEDAS IN TERMS OF CHARECTER
But then what do we mean by the four varna bhedas in terms of character? Character is defined as gunas in vedas.
Based on one’s character, swabhava or guna, we can have divisions. This is gunavyavastha. Broadly based, we can have four possible distinct characters. One is a spiritual character. Such a tendency is called brahmanaguna. The people with this character are called gunabrahmana, though by birth these people may not be brahmana.They have high sattva guna then Rajas and then Tamas in order.
Some others are selflessly active though they may not go to a temple or do meditation; they spend their entire life serving the society. Like the kings of earlier times. These people remain members of several social organizations and remain busy doing one service or the others; they may not have time even for their family.They serve and protect the society selflessly and are called Kshatriyas. People possessing this guna is called Kshatriyaguna..They have Rajas, in predominance then sattva and then Tamas.
The third is gunavaisya. There are some others who are selfishly active. They are also so active that they don’t have time for their wife and children. Most of their activities are centered on gathering money, possessions etc. for themselves and their family, and not for the sakeof society or others. They basically remain selfishly active. This character is called vaisyaguna and the persons having this character are called gunanavaisyas, These people have rajoguna predominance backed by tamoguna and very little sattvaguna.
The fourth is gunashudra. Who is a lazy person being inactive and only eating and sleeping.They have tamoguna predominance then rajas and little sattva.
CHOICES FOR GROWTH BASED ON CHARACTER AND PROFESSION BASED ON INCLINATION
So regarding Jati varna we have no choice. But regarding varna based on character or guna we have a choice to develop and grow from guna shudra to gunabrahmana. The scriptures say that with regard to character we do have a choice in gradually evolving to a better state.So also in our profession a priests son can become an engineer and vice versa. Thus regarding varna based on guna and karma ie character and profession we have a choice and should choose wisely.Our aim should be to develop our character and polish our life as well as choose a profession according to our natural penchant or swabhava. Some child may be interested in nature some in biology other in mathematics. So let him choose according to his interest. An individual performs best when we chooses a profession according to his interest and inclination.
But from societies point of view each profession is equally important. So respect and dignity of labour should be there. Therefore, even as we practice a profession, the goal of Our life and our character should be gradually changed. I should change from a gunasudra to gunavaisya to gunaksatriya to a gunabrahmana. This is called varnavyavastha.
CHOICES AT DIFFERENT STAGES OF LIFE
Next comes our choices at different stages of our life. Our life is divided into four stages student life, householders life, ascetic stage and monk or renunciate stage. The scriptures talk about four stages brahmacari, grhastha,vanaprastha and sannyasa stages. In student stage we are in learning mode learning for profession as well as for character building. So a wise choice of balance of sreyas and preyas is essential for instilling in the students.During household stage preyas are more important and should have higher priority. The householder’s asrama is the second stage where a person concentrates on preyas – the fulfillment of artha, kama and punyam and prepares for sreyas: To a householder preyas is of primary importance; sreyas or moksa receives secondary importance only. Gradually the priority has to shift from preyas to sreyas. During ascetic stage there is a gradual shift in vision . There is a gradual withdrawal from artha, kama and punyam. The fourth stage of sannyasa is fully dedicated to sreyas or moksa. Thus, by gradually shifting the vision, a person finally dedicates himself/herself wholly to the pursuit of sreyas and attains moksa.
This is the scheme of choices prescribed by Vedas and our scriptures. The more wisely we choose our path the more we can live a happy worldly as well as spiritual life. Wordly life is not contradictory to spirituality. It is a way to spirituality. As Buddha said Earthly desires also lead to Enlightenment. As after a certain point of time in pursuit of satiating your earthly desires we gradually shift our vision to sreyas or enlightenment.
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