Harmony between Brāhma and Kṣāttra in the Sanatana Tradition

The Hindu civilisation and culture flourished as long as harmony existed between Brāhma and Kṣāttra.
Harmony between Brāhma and Kṣāttra in the Sanatana Tradition

RIGHT FROM THE VEDIC ERA, the Indian tradition has accorded an exalted status to the harmony between brāhma and kṣāttra. The conception of brāhma and kṣāttra in the Vedic corpus must not be boxed within the narrow confines of jāti or varṇa, mere accidents of birth. In reality, both brāhma and kṣāttra are tenets that take the society forward. These are symbols of excellence that can emerge from all strata and all groups contained in a society. Therefore, the embodiments of brāhma and kṣāttra in the truest sense have always been minimal. This is akin to a spoonful of butter hidden within a cauldron of milk.

We can explore this in some detail.

The Influence of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas

In general, the mass of people in any country or period require a sanctuary of contentment and peace. The typical mentality of such people is to obtain contentment and peace with no effort. Therefore, it would not be far from the truth to claim that in the society at large, there is an abundance of tamas. The chief marker of tamas is sloth and an absence of reasoning. There is little scope for egotism here. Thus, the sloth-ridden tamas poses a lesser threat to the world. In spite of this, the tamasic life cannot rise above the animalistic.

However, positive elements like constructive work, wealth creation, and the ability and skill to manage both must emerge from tamas itself.  We can broadly call this as rajas.

Sattva is the overall sum of positive values such as knowledge and wisdom, and emotion and compassion.

It is natural for rajas to increase the quotient of its ego due to its competence, effort, wealth, achievement, indulgence and authority. Owing to its power, such rajas becomes a source of pain for itself and the world in which it lives. It might sound better to lead a values-bereft life based on the power of rajas compared to the animalistic existence of tamas. However, because of its intrinsic egoistic nature that causes self-harm, such a life can be quite debased.

To escape from this danger of degradation, rajas has no option but to seek the guidance of sattva. Just as how all the tamas in society cannot be completely sanitized into rajas, all the rajas cannot elevate itself to sattva.  It is doubtless that a lot of turmoil can be minimized if tamas is subordinated to rajas and rajas is subordinated to sattva. This is comparable to how we refer to books or the wisdom of elders when memory fails us. The world has been sustained for millennia through such informal adjustments.

The maharṣis who observed this worldly phenomenon classified the people in the society as follows:

1.     Viśaḥ; people mainly driven by tamas,

2.     Kṣattra: people mainly imbued with rajas, and

3.     Brahma: the small minority who had spiritually elevated themselves.

The fundamental reality is the class known as viśaḥ. The realizable ideal that emerges from this class is kṣattra. That which transcends even kṣattra is brahma.

Viśaḥ is akin to wild fruits. Kṣattra is akin to the process of preparing juice after refining them. Brahma is the spirit that ensures that: (1) the fruit juice does not sour into becoming alcohol and (2) the fruit is enjoyed by the entire society through its harmonious sharing.

When we transform the nouns, kṣattra and brahma into adjectives viz., kṣāttra and brāhma, the aforementioned principle becomes even clearer: the societal conflicts emanating from birth-based differences of superiority and inferiority will significantly reduce.

Sattva, rajas and tamas, which are the foundations for brahma, kṣattra and viśaḥ, cannot stand independently. A mutual mixture of all these is what runs the world and all human transactions therein.

From the foregoing exposition, it is clear that a vision and leadership that does not create conflict between brāhma and kṣāttra, will provide a peaceful environment for viśaḥ, always the majority in any society.  

When we study the history of the world, we clearly notice the aforementioned aspect cutting across space and time. The speciality of Sanātana-dharma is to: (1) systematically elucidate these principles, (2) create and nurture a profound culture based on these, (3) ensure the happiness and welfare of its adherents over thousands of years.

It is for this reason that our society venerates as models, several luminaries who personified the ideal of brāhma-kṣāttra harmony that worked for the welfare of viśaḥ. The twin deities that occur in the Vedas such as Indra-Agni, Mitra-Varuṇa, Indra- Bṛhaspati and Agni-Soma are basically symbols of brāhma-kṣāttra harmony. To this pantheon also belong Śiva and Skanda, occurring in the Purāṇa and Āgama lore.

These largely abstract conceptions become concretized and tangible in the Itihāsa and Purāṇa literature.  

Rāma established a happy, peaceful and prosperous empire under the guidance of Vasiṣṭha Viśvāmitra. Likewise, the Pāṇḍavas administered a large empire that ran on the principles of dharma under the guidance of Kṛṣṇa and Vyāsa. This is the reason all of these personalities have remained immortal.

To be continued

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