Degradation of the varnasrama in Kali-yuga

By editor - 18.5 2017

Identification of one's varna

Jiva Gosvami, one of the greatest acaryas in our line of disciplic succession, recommended that one examine the motivation that causes one to join the Krsna consciousness movement. In his society of Vaisnavas, he had his leaders interview the new entrants and ask them why they wanted to surrender to Krsna. If they replied that they were distressed, it indicated that they were of the sudra category. If they were in need of money, it indicated that they were of the vaisya category. If they were curious to see what was going on, then it indicated that they were of the ksatriya category and if they were seeking wisdom it indicated that they were of the brahmana category. The four orders of social division in the varnasrama correspond to the four classes of pious men who surrender to Krsna. (source unknown)

Varna can be ascertained:
- by jyotisa (horoscope)
- by tridosa (ayurvedic constitution, only approximately)
- by choosing specific object during annaprasana
- by one's use of the leisure time: Brahmana educates himself, Ksatriya trains in fight (martial arts) or hunts, Vaisya thinks about making and investing money, Sudra has fun or is bored, in worse cases is engaged in crime

- by using money: Brahmana keeps just what he needs and the rest distributes as charity to other brahmanas, Ksatriya uses some to run his estate and the rest distributes as charity to brahmanas and needful, Vaisya invests in business or liabilities and the rest distributes as charity, Sudra saves something and spends the rest, or spends immediately everything, esp. for drugs

- by money-intelligence combination:
Brahmana: money-, intel+++
Ksatriya: money++, intel++
Vaisya: money++ (depends), intel+
Sudra: money-, intel-

- by objects and abilities:
Brahmana works with people (education), subtle body (thinking, speaking, writing) and spirituality (sacrifice, meditation, etc.)
Ksatriya with money (taxes) and people (authorities, armed forces)
Vaisya with animals, material objects (agriculture) and money (trade, services)
Sudra with material objects (production, arts)

Everyone is trying to do the best he can. When one cannot act as Brahmana, Ksatriya nor Vaisya, then he is Sudra. Someone may object: "I can't even do the work of Sudra. I do not want to do anything, just want to have fun." This is the evidence that he is sudra.

Varna tendencies among Vaisnavas:

Transcendental (jive-daya, nama-ruci, Vaishnava-seva)

Brahmana (strict sadhana, renunciation, detachment, philosophy, slokas, Sanskrit)

Ksatriya (discipline, systematization, monitoring, checking)

Vaisya (results, business)

Sudra (hard work and fun, excessive body care)


"...The brahmanas who maintain their sacred rites attain Prajapatya (Brahma's) region. "The ksatriyas who never quit the battleground in fear attain Indra's region. The vaisyas who strictly adhere to their duties attain the region of the Maruts (wind gods). "The sudras who serve others attain the region of Gandharvas. The region attained by the eighty-eight thousand sages who have sublimated their sensual feelings can be attained by pupils who remain continuously with their preceptors [brahmacaris]. The region of the seven divine sages is obtained by forest-dweller [vanaprastha]. "The region from which the sage never returns, the region of Brahman, the Blissful, is for the ascetics [sannyasis] who control their minds, who renounce and who sublimate their base passions." (Garuda Purana 1.49.24-29)

Degradation of the varnasrama in Kali-yuga

"At that time the people in general will fall systematically from the path of a progressive civilization in respect to the qualitative engagements of the castes and the orders of society and the Vedic injunctions. Thus they will be more attracted to economic development for sense gratification, and as a result there will be an unwanted population on the level of dogs and monkeys." (SB 1.18.45)

"People who are lowest among men and bewildered by the illusory energy of the Supreme Lord will give up the original varNAzrama-dharma and its rules and regulations. They will abandon bathing three times daily and worshiping the Lord. Abandoning cleanliness and neglecting the Supreme Lord, they will accept nonsensical principles. Not regularly bathing or washing their mouths regularly, they will always remain unclean, and they will pluck out their hair. Following a concocted religion, they will flourish. During this age of Kali, people are more inclined to irreligious systems. Consequently these people will naturally deride Vedic authority, the followers of Vedic authority, the brAhmaNas, the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the devotees." (SB 5.6.10)

"The brahmacArIs will fail to execute their vows and become generally unclean, the householders will become beggars, the vAnaprasthas will live in the villages, and the sannyAsIs will become greedy for wealth." (SB 12.3.33)

kaler daza-sahasrAni 
madbhaktaH samti bhU-tale 
ekavarNa bhaviSyaMti 
madbhakteSu gateSu ca

"For 10,000 years of Kali such devotees of Mine will fill the whole planet. After the departure of My devotees there will be only one varna [outcaste]." (Brahma-vaivarta Purana 4.129.59)

Vaisnava verse book:
"Note that this phrase (kalau zUdra-sambhavaH) originates from the following verse found in the Skanda Purana:

azuddhaH zUdra-kalpa hi
brAhmaNaH kali-sambhavAH

asuddhah - impure, sudra-kalpa - like sudras, brahmana - brahmanas, kali-sambhavah - born in Kali-yuga, present age of degradation

In the Kali-yuga brahmanas will certainly become like (be born as) impure sudras. (Without samskaras and spiritual training, the brahmanas of Kali-yuga are considered sudras.)

Comparison of social systems

1. human being definition

varnasrama: eternal entity in human body
capitalism: material body
socialism: material body

2. attitude to dharma and moksha

varnasrama: positive, both cultivated systematically
capitalism: neutral (secularism)
socialism: negative (considered to be man-made obstacles)

3. natural differences among people accepted

varnasrama: yes, cultivated systematically
capitalism: yes, cultivated unsystematically
socialism: no (egalitarianism)

4. people brought up and engaged according to their nature

varnasrama: yes
capitalism: no
socialism: no

5. education expenses

varnasrama: guru daksina
capitalism: paid directly
socialism: paid by taxes

6. capital, property, resources ownership, control over production

varnasrama: mainly ksatriyas and vaisyas
capitalism: mainly 'vaisyas'(1)
socialism: 'sudras'/state (no private property)

7. health care

varnasrama: individual, holistic (ayurveda), low cost, high quality
capitalism: institutionalized (private companies), allopathic, quality mainly depends on cost
socialism: state companies, allopathic, low quality (high quality only for elite)

8. nature of economics

varnasrama: stable, based on self-sufficiency and minimalization of material needs
capitalism: expansive (surplus reinvested), performance and profit-based
socialism: degressive (surplus dilluted), state plan-based

9. survival time

varnasrama: treta yuga, dvapara yuga
capitalism: hundreds od years
socialism: tens of years

10. economics vs. nature

varnasrama: preserving status quo, low impact on environment (agrarian-based system)
capitalism: expansive (produces surplus), depletes resources, externalizes environmental costs
socialism: degressive, depletes resources, neglects environment

11. power holders

varnasrama: ksatriyas guided by brahmanas and economically supported by vaisyas and sudras
capitalism: 'vaisyas', increasing taxes-based state, totalitarian tendencies (capital > power > tailor-made laws)
socialism: 'sudras', totalitarian state

12. currency standard

varnasrama: gold, barter
capitalism: gold, later nothing
socialism: gold, money value decided by state

13. public debt

varnasrama: no
capitalism: yes

socialism: yes (hidden by 'eating out the future')

14. taxes

varnasrama: 25%(2)
capitalism: mostly 50%+ (in West)
socialism: ? (supposedly less than capitalism)

15. interest

varnasrama: low(3)
capitalism: high (usury)
socialism: individual forbidden (no private property)

16. individual business profit surplus used for

varnasrama: investment, charity
capitalism: self and family, investment, charity
socialism: self and family

17. unemployment

varnasrama: no (cooperation of varnas)
capitalism: yes
socialism: no (compulsory employment)

18. life standard/social tensions

varnasrama: hierarchized (cooperation of varnas)/no
capitalism: hierarchized (supressed)/yes
socialism: overtly equal (with exception of elite)/no (forbidden)

19. work motivation

varnasrama: dharma, profit (artha), sense enjoyment (kama)
capitalism: profit, sense enjoyment
socialism: small incentives, utopian bright future (lasts only several years, must be enforced), a fear of an imminent war

20. charity motivation

varnasrama: dharma, good karma, mercy
capitalism: profit, self-promotion
socialism: none (enforced equality)

From this comparison it's obvious that capitalism and socialism are retrogressive systems, heading to a collapse. Of the two, socialism collapses sooner.

(1) quotation marks represent unqualified status from the varnasrama pov
(2) Manu samhita 7.126-138
vaisyas: 2% cattle and gold, 8,3-12,5% crops, 16% other commodities
sudras: one day work per month (i.e. 12 days per year, vs 180+ days in capitalism)
vs. Middle Ages in Europe: one day work per week for a lord (14%), tithe for church (10%)
(3) 2-5% as per varnas (Manu samhita 8.140-144)

Further resources:
Vajrasucika Upanisad from the Sama Veda describes the true character of a Brahmana and incidentally offers comments on the nature of the Supreme Reality. This Upanisad undermines caste distinctions based on birth.

Among the dharma-sastras (category of scriptures dealing with social and religious rules) one can find very elaborate treatment of the varnas and asramas with their roles and duties in the Manu-samhita, the lawbook of humanity:

"In reply to questions asked by certain sages, he [SvAyambhuva Manu], out of compassion for all living entities, taught the diverse sacred duties of men in general and the different varNas and Azramas." (SB 3.22.38)

"All the Manus offered their prayers as follows: As Your order carriers, O Lord, we, the Manus, are the law-givers for human society, but because of the temporary supremacy of this great demon, HiraNyakazipu, our laws for maintaining varNAzrama-dharma were destroyed. O Lord, now that You have killed this great demon, we are in our normal condition. Kindly order us, Your eternal servants, what to do now." (SB 7.8.48)