Chapter 1. Despondency of Arjuna: Verse 41

Sanskrit Verse


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

Transliteration


Adharmaabhibhavaat krishna pradushyanti kula-striyah
Streeshu dushtaasu vaarshneya jaayate varna-sankarah

English Translation


When irreligion is predominant O Krishna, Women of the family become corrupted. When women become corrupted, O Varshneya(Krishna) The social order (Varnas) is destroyed.

Commentary & Explanation

In previous verses Arjuna argued from the death of Men and Old people (because of war) religion & practices will be discontinued leading to irreligion.

Here Arjuna is arguing that non-practice of prescribed duties and timely rituals women of the family will become undisciplined and thus indulge in sense driven activities rather than intellect driven actions. Thus leading to mixing of social groups (Varnas)

Note: The prominence here is given to life of women because in the previous verses it is assumed that most men will die in the battle field, same laws are applicable to men too. Whatever arguments are made here are Arjuna's and not to be attributed to Krishna or as the message of Gita.

Varna System:

According to Hindu scriptures (Bhagavad Gita 4:13), human population can be naturally classified into four broader categories based on their Qualities of Sattva(knowledge, happiness, stable mind), Rajas(passion driven) and Tamas(lethargy, ignorance).

The purpose of Varnas was to create genetical refinement of natural human traits. Varnas were not based on birth, they were a quality based classification identified for the sake of refinement of various aspects of society.

Varna-system was not division of society, but was natural recognition of human types based on Guna(Qualities) & Karma(Actions). Varnas were given importance during times of marriage and choosing the profession.

Profession

A person with natural inclination towards intellectual refinement should do a job which helps enhance his natural abilities.

A Rajasic (action oriented, spirited, activist type) person should join armed forces or become a politician or an activist.

Similarly each person should do jobs which are not only naturally suitable to his inner qualities but also enhance him as a person.

When there is loss of Varnas, people will take up professions which they are not capable of handling and thus do justice to their profession, thus leading to incompetency and corruption.

A scholar fighting a war, a fool deciding laws for the society, an ignorant becoming a teacher will lead to the collapse of the system.

Arjuna argues that when women undergo irreligion the social order will collapse and the society as a whole will become less productive and chaotic.

Marriage:

Two people of same natural inclinations were advised to get married. A scholar marrying another intellectual type was not only good for them both, but also for the progeny, their child would have both the benefits of genetical refinement as well as environmental benefits. 

Similarly for warriors and other types.

It is a common concept among Indian religions that the soul chooses a suitable womb to take birth, it might not happen by choice in every situation, but believed to happen because of that particular soul's inclinations. A baby is naturally drawn into a family which supports the baby's natural inclinations(desires, aspirations)

Note: Varna is not a birth based system, a scholar can be born in a peasant's house and vice versa. However there is possibility of refinement of human qualities with the Varna system. Each person should be judged by his/her qualities not parents'.

Arjuna is using social beliefs of that time to justify his stand of not fighting the war.


Topics:Arjuna

Glossary

AdharmaaIrreligion
AbhibhavaatPreponderance, predominant
KrishnaKrishna
PradushyantiBecome corrupted; immoral; polluted
KulaFamily; clan
StriyaLadies; women
StreeshuOf women
DushtaasuBecoming immoral
VaarshneyaDescendant of Vrishni (Krishna)
JaayateComes into being
Varna-sankarahLoss of social structure