Myths related to the Bhagavada Gita
Bhagavada Gita, in brief, is not just a conversation between Arjun and Lord Krishna. It is a spiritual knowledge imparted by Krishna to Arjun, who in despair seeing his relatives, teachers and friends as his enemy, was confused and shattered. Gita, imparts the knowledge of karma yoga, importance of gyana yoga, consciousness and the truth about the ultimate reality.
Myth 1 : Krishna is the only god (Usually advocated by the people who identify the ultimate reality with a human form and a name ‘Krishna’)
The ancient Indians only believed in the concept of ultimate reality which is called by various names and symbology. They never used words like monotheism or polytheism. They believed that the different aspects of the nature like fire, wind, sun etc are all parts of the nature. Hence in Vedic hymns one can find reveration to the individual elements of the nature in a metaphorically personified form. E.g fire, personfied as agni-dev and sun as surya-dev. The Upanisadic texts proclaim that the Brahman is the one and only Godhead, in the Kathopanisad it is called Visnu and in the Mandukyopanisad it is called Sivam. So it is said in the Vedas: “Ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti”, which means that the truth is called by different names. The chapter 10 of Bhagavada-Gita alone teaches of the various conceptions about the ultimate reality idenitifed by different names.
BG 10.20: I am the Supersoul, O Arjuna, seated in the hearts of all living entities. I am the beginning, the middle and the end of all beings.
BG 10.21: Of the ?dityas I am Vis?n?u, of lights I am the radiant sun, of the Maruts I am Mar?ci, and among the stars I am the moon.
BG 10.22: Of the Vedas I am the S?ma Veda; of the demigods I am Indra, the king of heaven; of the senses I am the mind; and in living beings I am the living force [consciousness].
BG 10.23: Of all the Rudras I am Lord ?iva, of the Yaks?as and R?ks?asas I am the Lord of wealth [Kuvera], of the Vasus I am fire [Agni], and of mountains I am Meru.
BG 10.24: Of priests, O Arjuna, know Me to be the chief, Br?haspati. Of generals I am K?rtikeya, and of bodies of water I am the ocean.
BG 10.25: Of the great sages I am Bhr?gu; of vibrations I am the transcendental om?. Of sacrifices I am the chanting of the holy names [japa], and of immovable things I am the Him?layas.
BG 10.26: Of all trees I am the banyan tree, and of the sages among the demigods I am N?rada. Of the Gandharvas I am Citraratha, and among perfected beings I am the sage Kapila.
BG 10.27: Of horses know Me to be Uccaih??rav?, produced during the churning of the ocean for nectar. Of lordly elephants I am Air?vata, and among men I am the monarch.
BG 10.28: Of weapons I am the thunderbolt; among cows I am the surabhi. Of causes for procreation I am Kandarpa, the god of love, and of serpents I am V?suki.
BG 10.29: Of the many-hooded N?gas I am Ananta, and among the aquatics I am the demigod Varun?a. Of departed ancestors I am Aryam?, and among the dispensers of law I am Yama, the lord of death.
BG 10.30: Among the Daitya demons I am the devoted Prahl?da, among subduers I am time, among beasts I am the lion, and among birds I am Garud?a.
BG 10.31: Of purifiers I am the wind, of the wielders of weapons I am R?ma, of fishes I am the shark, and of flowing rivers I am the Ganges.
BG 10.32: Of all creations I am the beginning and the end and also the middle, O Arjuna. Of all sciences I am the spiritual science of the self, and among logicians I am the conclusive truth.
BG 10.33: Of letters I am the letter A, and among compound words I am the dual compound. I am also inexhaustible time, and of creators I am Brahm?.
BG 10.34: I am all-devouring death, and I am the generating principle of all that is yet to be. Among women I am fame, fortune, fine speech, memory, intelligence, steadfastness and patience.
BG 10.35: Of the hymns in the S?ma Veda I am the Br?hat-s?ma, and of poetry I am the G?yatr?. Of months I am M?rga??rs?a [November-December], and of seasons I am flower-bearing spring.
BG 10.36: I am also the gambling of cheats, and of the splendid I am the splendor. I am victory, I am adventure, and I am the strength of the strong.
BG 10.37: Of the descendants of Vr?s?n?i I am V?sudeva, and of the P?n?d?avas I am Arjuna. Of the sages I am Vy?sa, and among great thinkers I am U?an?.
BG 10.38: Among all means of suppressing lawlessness I am punishment, and of those who seek victory I am morality. Of secret things I am silence, and of the wise I am the wisdom.
BG 10.39: Furthermore, O Arjuna, I am the generating seed of all existences. There is no being — moving or nonmoving — that can exist without Me.
Myth 2 : Krishna was egotistical as he asked to worship him (Usually propagated by the anti-hindus)
This kind of criticism is usually done by the anti-hindus. In Gita, there are several places where Lord Krishna articulates with pronouns like “I am, Me”. The most critical part in that understanding is as to what that “I, Me” actually refers to? This is the explanation given in the whole of Bhagvada-Gita. It is the explanation of ultimate reality which consists of spiritual energies, knowledge, material manifestations etc, every thing that emanates out of that ultimate reality or that definition behind “I, Me” (BG 12.3-4, 12.5-7, 10.2-3, 10.12-13, 9.4, 9.10-11, 10.8). This further explains the concept of avatar in Hinduism. An avatar is simply a divine and living manifestation of the supreme reality according to hinduism.
Gita is a divine knowledge and nowhere Lord Krishna force Arjun to acknowledge his words. He only says, it his opinion.
BG 6.36: For one whose mind is unbridled, self-realization is difficult work. But he whose mind is controlled and who strives by appropriate means is assured of success. That is My opinion.
BG 18.63: Thus I have explained to you knowledge still more confidential. Deliberate on this fully, and then do what you wish to do.
It was only Arjun who asked Krishna to help him as he was depressed and disturbed to see his relatives, teachers and friends in the battlefield (as explained in chapter 1 and 2). Krishna was only trying to help him.
By Prashant Saxena
In Bhagabat Gita lord krishna first brings the topic of caste in chapter 2 when he says
sva-dharmam api caveksya na vikampitum arhasi
dharmyad dhi yuddhac chreyo ’nyat kshatriyasya na vidyate
...B.G.CHAPTER 2 SLOKA 31
English translation- “In view of your own dharm, too, it is unworthy of you to fear, for there is nothing more propitious for a Kshatriya than a righteous war.’’
It has been repeatedly said by lord krishna that “the Self (Atma) is immutable,” that “the Self is eternal,” and that “the Self is the only real dharm.” Now what is this dharm of the Self (swadharm)? The Self is the only dharm, although the capacity to engage in this dharm varies from individual to individual.
This ability arising from one’s disposition has been named swadharm or the inherent dharm.
To make matters clear around this subject of caste let us go to chapter 4 of Bhagabat Gita where lord krishna says..
catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah
- tasya kartaram api mam viddhy akartaram avyayam
...B.G.CHAPTER 4 SLOKA 13
English translation- “Although I have created the four classes (varn )-Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudr-according to innate properties and actions, know me the immutable as a nondoer.’’
In this sloka lord krishna clearly says that I have created the four castes (or classes) i.e. Brahman, Khatriya, Baishya and Shudra. Does this mean that the great lord has divided men into four rigid categories determined by birth? The truth is rather that he has divided actions into four classes on the basis of inherent properties. All the same, as he tells Arjun, he-the imperishable God-is a non-agent and should be known as such. The innate property (gun) of a being or of a thing is a measure, a yardstick.
In the starting stage of any yogi when he begins the journey to unify with paramatman the dominant property is that of ignorance or darkness (tamas), it will result in an irresistible inclination to laziness, excessive sleep, wantonness, aversion to work, and compulsive addiction to evil in spite of the realization that it is evil. At this stage the yogi is shudra. (This is not determined by birth. Even if the yogi is born into a family of brahmin he will still be shudra when he starts the journey to unification).
Later with the service to wise men which is the work that should be done by shudras he cultivates and develops there is the growing sway of the quality of rajas, and a partial awakening of the property of good and moral virtue (sattwa) as well, because of which the worshipper’s ability is elevated to the Vaishya level. Then the same worshipper begins spontaneously to imbibe qualities such as control of the senses and to accumulate other virtuous impulses.
Proceeding further on the path of action, he is endowed with the wealth of righteousness. The property of rajas now grows faint and tamas is dormant. At this stage of development the worshipper steps on to the Kshatriya level. Prowes- s, the ability to be immersed in action, unwillingness to retreat, mastery over feelings, the capacity to carve his way through the three properties of nature-are now the inherent features of the
With yet further refinement of action, sattwa makes its approach, at which there is the evolution of virtues
such as control of the mind and senses, concentration, innocence, contemplation and abstract meditation, and faith as well the capacity to hear the voice of God-all qualities that provide access to Him. With the emergence of these qualities the worshipper comes to belong to the Brahmin class.
This, however, is the lowest stage of worship at this level. When ultimately the worshipper is united with God, at that point-the highest point-he is neither a Brahmin, nor a Kshatriya, nor a Vaishya, nor a Shudr. So in 2nd chapter lord krishna advices arjun..
trai-gunya-visaya veda nistrai-gunyo bhavarjuna
nirdvandvo nitya-sattva-stho niryoga-kse- ma atmavan
...B.G.CHAPTER 2 SLOKA 45
English translation- “Since all the Ved, O Arjun, only illumine the three properties, you should rise above them, be free from the contradictions of happiness and sorrow, rest on that which is constant, and be unconcerned with getting what you do not have as well as with protecting what you have, in order to dedicate yourself to the Self within.”
Krishna tells arjun The Ved only illumine the three properties of nature; they know nothing of what is beyond them. So Arjun should go beyond the sphere of action laid down by the Ved. How to do this? Krishnadvises Arjun to liberate himself from the conflicts of joy and sorrow,concentrate on the one changeless reality, and desire neither the unobtained nor the obtained; so that he may devote himself singlemindedly to the indwelling Self. This is how he can rise above the Ved. But is there any precedence of anyone going beyond them?
Krishn says that as a man transcends the Ved, even so he comes face to face with the Supreme Spirit, and that the man who is aware of him is a true Vipr, a Brahmin. Arjuna is a khatriya ..but lord krishna says him to become brahman. So it is clear that the caste or class is not determined by birth but are determined by the state of gunas.
What does the Bhagavad Gita say about the caste system?
A Hindu through and through
In the Bhagavad Gita, Shri Krishna explains 4 types of people based on the actions they perform out of their own nature. (Not based on Birth or any other factor)
Translation - O Arjuna, the activites of the Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras are clearly divided accorfing to the qualities born of their own nature.
Translation - The actions of a Brahmana arising from his own nature are serenity, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge of the Vedas, wisdom and firm faith.
Translation - The actions of a Kshatriya born of his own nature are heroism, exuberance, determination, resourcefulness, no trace of cowardice in battle, generosity and leadership.
Translation - The actions of a Vaishya born of his own nature are agriculture, cow protection and trade; also the actions of a Shudra born of his own nature consists of service to Brahmanas, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas.
So, as you can see all that is explained above contains no trace of the so called "Caste System" prevalent today which defines the caste of a person by birth. Bhagavad Gita talks about Varna as shown above. The focus is 100% on the actions which determine the Varna with no reference to the Birth factor . And this is as close as The Bhagavad Gita comes to talking about anything which might remotely relate to caste.
Final Note - Bhagawad Gita doesn't talk anything about the "Caste System" as we see today.
What are some scientific facts about the Bhagavad Gita?
Jahnu Das, Hare Krishna
One does not find a more scientific description of reality than the one Krishna delivers in Bhagavad Gita according the the three modes of material nature.
How nature works according to the three gunas or modes of nature - sattva, rajas and tamas - or goodness, passion and ignorance is a science that can be tester and verified by anyone, regardless of belief, social status, or anything else. It is a science in the true sense of the word - something that can be empirically investigated, tested and verified.
In Bhagavad Gita, people of different mentalities and psychological profiles are described.
They come under three headings, and everything within the material world is a combination of these three categories, or modes, as they are called.
By observing people around you and referring to the scientific presentation of these three categories or qualities in Bhagavad Gita, it becomes easy to psychologically evaluate yourself and any other human with minute accuracy.
The 3 modes of material nature - goodness, passion and ignorance - are like the three primary colors. From the three prime colors all other colors and shades of colors are made. Similarly, everything in the material world - the body, the mind, the intelligence, the work, the action, the mentality, the situation, is a unique mix of these 3 modes.
It's important to understand, that we are all a mixture of goodness, passion and ignorance, but one of these mode always predominates.
So lets look at how different persons view the world according to the three modes. Let us examine how they perceive reality. This is very important because reality is all about perception and awareness.
A person in whom the mode of ignorance predominates will identify people and himself by their work, usually what they do to make money or what kind of degree and education they have. The work a person does is the main determining factor of a person's identity.
A person in the mode of passion will identify other living entities according to the body like gender, race and family they inhabit. You identify people according to their body.
A person in the mode of goodness will identify people according to their soul. He will see the same soul in all living entities. He won't identify persons according to their work or their body, he will see that all souls are part of the same whole, one energy. So in the mode of goodness you will have a holistic world view
A person in the mode of ignorance will find his main enjoyment in intoxication, sleep and dreaming. A person in the mode of passion will find his main enjoyment in sex, power and prestige. A person in the mode of goodness will find his main enjoyment in knowledge.
Again, it's important to note that you don't find people purely in one mode, it's always a mix.
The mode of ignorance destroys, the mode of passion creates and the mode of goodness preserves and maintains.
So you can have a person who goes to his job every day for 20 years. That's maintaining, so that's the mode of goodness. But in his free time he sits in the sofa watching TV and smoking a joint or having a drink, that's the mode of ignorance. Or he is a big business man making lots of money having power and prestige from some corporation. That's the mode of passion. Or the scientist or philosopher who study and gather knowledge. That's the mode of goodness.
Thus it can be noted that heaven and hell are both temporary, material situations.
Liberation, however, means to transcend these three modes. That's the Brahman plane.
And beyond the Brahman plane is the Krishna plane where you act out all your desires to give Krishna enjoyment.
That is the final stage and goal of human life.
Bhagavad gita quote against caste system
Posted By Sarin on May 12, 2012
Already, I have written many articles on caste system to depict the need of caste system in ancient india. We also discussed on the merit of caste system and the division of people according to the need of the society. However, there has been serious adulteration in the original caste system and what we see today i no way close to vedic caste system. Earlier, we saw the Vedas quotes against present caste system. In this article, we will see the quotes of lord krishna against present discriminative caste system through the verses of holy bhagavad gita. Let us see what lord krishna says about the present caste system.
If You haven’t read my earlier post, then please read Part-1 , Part-2 and part-3 on caste system before you read this post
Bhagavad gita, chapter 5, verse 29
Krishna Said “ I am the friend of all creatures” (suhridam sarva bhutanam)
He doesn’t differentiate between Brahmin, Kshatriya, vaishya or Shudra. Anyone has the right to worship lord krishna and so, brahmins stopping Lower castes and untouchables from visiting the temples cannot be justified anyway.
Bhagavad gita, chapter 6, verse 41
“The unsuccessful yogi, after many, many years of enjoyment on the planets of the pious living entities, is born into a family of righteous people, or into a family of rich aristocracy.” (Bhagavad-gita 6.41)
I.e. one gets birth to a good family based on his good karma in previous life. One needs to be a good karmic yogi to be born in a respectable family of rich aristocracy.
Bhagavad gita, chapter 9, verse 29
Krishna Said “I have the same affection for all creatures, and whosoever remembers the Lord, resides in the Lord, and the Lord resides in him.”
Lord krishna in heart of all living creatures.
Again, He doesn’t differentiate between Brahmin, Kshatriya, vaishya or Shudra. God treats everyone equal and the only way to attain him is good karma. Above image shows lord residing in every heart in form of soul(Atma). One needs to enlighten this soul through meditation, yoga and good karma. On enlightenment, This soul merges with Parmatma(Supreme god) thus attaining moksha(Salvation)
Bhagavad gita, chapter 18, verse 61 Krishna Said “God resides in every heart” (ishwar sarva bhutanam hrudyeshe Arjun tishthti).
Again, He doesn’t mention Brahmin, Kshatriya, vaishya or Shudra
Similarly, Remaining verses are self-explanatory.
Bhagavad gita, chapter 4, verse 13
As a part of God's creation (work), the four vocations are subgrouped according to people's guna (skills) and karma (assignments). Know that all work is for Him, even though He is beyond work, in Eternity i.e. Here, lord krishna advises people of all caste to do their activities thinking that the god has assigned that activity to him. One should not diffrentiate any task as cheap or decent. Even the high preist or brahmins sweeps the floor of the temple.
Bhagavad gita, chapter 5, verse 4
Ignorant men, but not the wise, say that Sankhya (variously as: Jnana Yoga , Sanyasa or Surrender, Path of Vision or Wisdom) and Yoga (variously as: Karma Yoga, Tyaga or Renunciation, Path of Action, Bhakti or devotional service, Japaa or Silence, Dhayana or Contemplation / Meditation, Brahamcharya or Austerity, Vaanprastha or Hermitlike) are different paths; but he who gives his self (soul) to one reaches the end of two.
Bhagavad gita, chapter 9, verse 30
Even if the greatest sinner worships God with all his soul, he must be considered righteous because of his righteous will.
i.e Even the lowest of all castes or the criminals, crooks,murderers who is ready to undertake hard penance for his sins can worship god.
Bhagavad gita, chapter 9, verse 31
And he shall soon become pure and reach everlasting peace. For this is His covenant that he who adores Him is not lost.
i.e Soul of any person can become pure through meditation and yoga irrespective of the caste he belong to.
Bhagavad gita, chapter 9, verse 31
God is one in all, but it seems as if he were many; He (as Vishnu / preserver) supports all beings: from Him (as Rudra / destroyer) ensues end, and from Him (as Brahma / creator) ensues beginning.
i.e God is in everyone.
Krishna in everone soul.
The Only diffrence between humans and god is enlightenment.
Bhagavad Gita, chapter 18, verse 40
"There is no being on earth, or again in heaven among the gods, that is liberated from the three qualities born of Nature."
Bhagavad gita, chapter 18, verse 41
The duties involving Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra are grouped according to people's abilities and skills. (Ch. 18 - verse 41)
i.e.People are grouped according to their abilities and depending upon how they enhance their skills and abilities, their caste changes accordingly. A meditating khsatriya becomes a brahmin Ex: gautama buddha, whereas a brahmin fighting in battlefield becomes a Kshatriya Ex: parshuram. Actually, as per vedic system, every person has two caste, one by birth and one by deeds, with the latter overriding the former.
Bhagavad gita, chapter 18, verse 42
The skills for a Brahmin involve serenity, self-harmony, austerity and purity, loving-forgiveness and righteousness; vision, wisdom and faith. (Ch. 18 - verse 42)
i.e This is what brahmins are supposed to do. Unfortunately, Even 1 percent of the present brahmins doesn't do this task. Hence as per the vedic verses, such namesake brahmins are infact sudras.
Bhagavad gita, chapter 18, verse 43
The qualities needed according to Kshatriya are: a heroic mind, splendor or inner fire, constancy, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity and noble leadership. (Ch. 18 - verse 43)
this is what kshatriya are supposed to do. Even if 10% of the indian kshatriya would have done their activity perfectly, then indians wouldn't have become slaves of mughals and british.
Bhagavad gita, chapter 18, verse 44
Trade, agriculture and rearing of cattle may be tackled by Vaishya; and the background (tenure) of a Shudra is also suited to providing support (Ch. 18 - verse 44)
Bhagavad gita, chapter 18, verse 45
People attain perfection when they find joy in their work. Hear how a person attains perfection and finds joy in his work.
Bhagavad gita, chapter 18, verse 46
A person achieves perfection when his work is - performed with pure feeling of - worship of God, from whom all things come and who is in all.
Bhagavad gita, chapter 18, verse 47
"Better is one`s own duty (though) destitute of merits, than the duty of another well performed. He who does the duty ordained by his own nature incurs no sin."
i.e Here, lord krishna clearly says that one should follow his own duty instead of doing another unless well performed which means one can do the duty of another caste if he has the ability and skills to do that task perfectly.
Bhagavad gita, chapter 18, verse 48
"One should not abandon, O Arjuna, the duty to which one is born, though faulty; for, all undertakings are enveloped by evil, as fire by smoke."
i.e.Lord krishna says one shouldn't abandon his task even when he is not happy with his task becaue the unhappiness comes from faulty thinking, wordly desires and wrong undertakings.
Bhagavad gita, chapter 18, verse 63
The words of vision and wisdom have been conveyed. Ponder them in the silence of your soul, and then in freedom do your will.
i.e. At the end, lord krishna says that i have given you wisdom and knowledge. Now it's up to you whether you wanna take it or not. It's upto you whether you wanna do the activity assigned to you by god or you wannna do activity assigned to you by your materialistic mind, thus tarpping yourself in continous cycle of death and rebirth.
Cycle of birth and death.
Swami Sivananda (The Divine Life Society, Rishikesh) , in his commentary on Gita,Ch.18, verses 41,and 45 says:
"Mankind is organised into the four castes and each man`s life is divided into four stages, according to the nature of the Gunas and the degree of growth or evolution. This is the division of labour for which each caste is fitted according to its own nature. The duty prescribed is your sole support, each devoted to his own duty in accordance with his own nature or caste, and the highest service you can render to the Supreme is to carry it out whole-heartedly, without expectation of fruits, with the attitude of dedication to the Lord.
The caste system is, indeed, a splendid thing. It is quite flawless. But the defect came in from somewhere else. The classes gradually neglected their duties. The test of ability and character slowly vanished. Birth became the chief consideration in determining castes. All castes fell from their ideals and forgot all about their duties." Persons got trapped in materialistic desires. Persons bewildered in lust looks for pleasures and recreation in every activity and forget their rightful duty assigned by the lord. Guys, Seek for the ultimate truth, do meditation and yoga to enlighten your soul, preach others the true message of the god, stop fighting on silly issue regarding caste and religion, Seek peace in churches/Temples/Mosques, sing glories of the gods, dance to the divine music and most of all, dedicate all your activities to god.
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What does The Bhagavad Gita say about the caste system in India? Published on November 12, 2017he Bhagavad Gita say about the caste system in India?
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The fourfold caste has been created by Me according to the differentiation of GUNA and KARMA; though I am the author thereof know Me as non-doer and immutable.
The biggest falsehood all Indians are being told by their elders right from the moment they are borne is that your caste is decided by your birth. This is a big lie being told by saints with little knowledge of scriptures. According to The Bhagavad Gita, the nature of your thoughts decides the caste which you belong too. In the Gita, your thoughts are divided into three categories- sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. In the above verse, GUNA means the nature of your thoughts and KARMA means the work that you do. So, let us try to understand the nature of these thoughts.
Tamasic- A person with tamasic nature of thoughts is dull-witted, lazy, not willing to work, doesn't apply his brains, happy sitting idle. This is the lowest nature of existence and person having such thoughts is categorized as shudra and the nature of work such a person will do will obviously involve physical labor as such a person does not like education and is unwilling to raise his/her standards.
Rajasic- People with rajasic nature are full of materialistic and worldly desires, crave for money, power, fame, status. So, all politicians and soldiers are recognized as kshatriyas who have a propensity for fighting wars and battles. Also all traders, farmers, artisans come under the category of vaishyas who constantly have thoughts about increasing profits, making more money, earning for their family.
Satvic- This is the higher nature of thoughts in an individual. A person with sattvic thoughts craves for learning and doing something good and noble for the society. So, in the modern scheme of work, all entrepreneurs, scientists, scholars, philanthropists come under this category who were recognized as a brahmin.
Now, Gita says that the very basic nature of man is tamasic. All men if given a choice would love to sit idle and enjoy life without doing anything. So, a tamasic individual can be raised to the category of rajasic by whipping up his desires. How do your parents motivate you to study? they tell you that if you study you will earn more money, buy big houses and fancy cars, marry a beautiful girl. So, you become rajasic in nature and fulfill your materialistic desires. After your desires are fulfilled, money no longer remains your motive and you move to a higher state. You want to do something good for your country i.e you start entertaining sattvic thoughts and enter a state of brahman-hood. Thus you can see, at different stages of one”s life one person shifts from being a tamasic to rajasic to sattvic. So, nobody”s caste is determined by his birth. Anyone in a lower category can raise himself to a higher state by gaining knowledge and education. Also, we have seen a lot of people who fall from a higher state to lower state because of inaction or worldly desires. So no one is a brahmin by birth. Also, nobody is a shudra by birth. This is the biggest falsehood spread by ignorant people.
Source- The Holy Geeta- By Swami Chinmayananda
Blog dedicated to the life and works of the path breaking Indian historian and mathematician.
Untouchability, Gita and the Pursuit of Truth
Remembering Vivekanand Jha
by Vishwa Mohan Jha
It might come as a surprise to the uninitiated that untouchability remains among the darkest aspects of India’s social history – despite Bhimrao Ambedkar, Marxist and “post-Marxist” histories, a wealth of contemporary caste studies, and the rise of dalit politics. It is to the labours of Vivekanand Jha, who passed away on 30 November 2012, that so much of our present understanding of the history of untouchability in ancient India is indebted to.
Historians had generally been evasive about the issue; or else we had apologias. Thus in the brief chapter on untouchability in the second volume of P V Kane’s masterly History of Dharma śāstra, all that he discussed was that inequities such as untouchability were not unique to India but were a fairly widespread phenomena; that it was not to be found in our glorious Vedic period; and how in numerous ways it has been is represented, its evils exaggerated. While we need to recognise, for example, that concern with hygiene contributed to the making of untouchability, we can equally be certain (Kane contended) that it was imposed with no hard feelings towards the untouchables!1 Ambedkar sought to fill the void and provide a corrective. In his Untouchables: Who Were They? and Why They Became Untouchables? (1948), he historicised the issue in important ways, as by drawing the crucial distinction between impurity and untouchability, and located the origins of the latter in the beef -eating of the downtrodden.
The historian Ram Sharan Sharma of Patna University began to take interest in the history of the shudras about the same time when Ambedkar was coming out with his works on the shudras and “untouchables”. But the gauntlet that Ambedkar threw down before the specialist historians was to be picked up by Vivekanand Jha in his doctoral thesis “Untouchables in Early Indian History” (1972) under the supervision of Sharma.
Jha meticulously collected and vetted a truly impressive range of evidence and arguments, and marshalled them into a systematic account of the origin and development of untouchability in early India. This history unfolded itself as a part of the larger process of the transformation of a succession of aboriginal tribes (for example the Chandalas) into caste society as well as of the gradual degradation of the status of a number of professional groups such as washer-men and -women and leather workers. In the process a number of received ideas (beginning with the pet brahminical idea that untouchability proceeded from the “mixture” of castes) were, as they had to be, critiqued and set aside. A different chronology of the advent of untouchability than the one suggested by Ambedkar was worked out, sundering the causal connection between beef-eating and untouchability postulated by him.
It is revealing indeed that leatherwork, that was to become a surest sign of untouchability in medieval times, should not have been considered polluting, not only during the Vedic period, but for centuries thereafter. For instance, a record dating from early fi rst millennium AD refers to a pious donor named Vidhika as a Chamār (Cham makāra), the son of an Upājhāya (a teacher, Prakrit form of Sanskrit Upād hyāya). Incidentally, the surname “Jha” is supposed to derive from Upājhāya.
Jha’s works became conspicuous for a wrong reason too, which he himself much regretted: for a long time he was perhaps the only standard authority on the subject, at least going by the references to untouchability in scholarly literature. The works of Mikael Aktor and Genichi Yamazaki (preceded by that of K R Hanumanthan) are beginning to redress the complaint, however, and they further underline the lasting nature of his legacy.
Caste in the Bhagavad Gita – Satanic Verses of Bhagavad GitaRead it in Hindi from भगवद गीता में जाति – भगवद गीता के शैतानी छंद।
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar on Bhagavad Gita
…The Bhagvat Gita is not a gospel and it can therefore have no message and it is futile to search for one. The question will no doubt be asked: What is the Bhagvat Gita if it is not a gospel? My answer is that the Bhagvat Gita is neither a book of religion nor a treatise on philosophy. What the Bhagvat Gita does is to defend certain dogmas of religion on philosphic grounds. If on that account anybody wants to call it a book of religion or a book of philosophy he may please himself. But essentially it is neither. It uses philosophy to defend religion…
…Bhagvat Gita comes forward to offer a philosophic defense is Chaturvarnya. The Bhagvat Gita, no doubt, mentions that the Chaturvarnya is created by God and therefore sacrosanct. But it does not make its validity dependent on it. It offers a philosophic basis to the theory of Chaturvarnya by linking it to the theory of innate, inborn qualities in men. The fixing of the Varna of man is not an arbitrary act says the Bhagvat Gita. But it is fixed according to his innate, inborn qualities…
Source – ‘Revolution and Counter-revolution in Ancient India’ (Vol 3 of the Writings and Speeches of Dr B. R. Ambedkar)
Dr Ambedkar noted in his book ‘Revolution and Counter-revolution in Ancient India’ (Vol 3 of the Writings and Speeches of Dr Ambedkar) that Manusmriti lays down the laws of caste and the Bhagavad Gita gives a philosophical defence of the new social order. The philosophy that has helped grow Brahmanism and graded inequality system of caste. Dr Ambedkar also believed that Bhagavad Gita isn’t written by one author as claimed by some and was written and rewritten over the period of counter-revolution time.
Hinduism (Brahmanism) is the only religion that prohibits almost 85% of its followers from reading its scriptures or worshipping its Gods and I have always believed that it is a wastage of time to read Brahminical scriptures especially those which have already been rejected by Jotiba Phule, Dr. Ambedkar and other Dalit-Bahujan ideals.
Simple answer, to bring out casteist verses which have not been discussed in public as the government of India is pushing hard to make sure Bhagavad Gita is taught in all the schools.
Do we really want our kids to learn from Bhagavad Gita?
Dr. Ambedkar said that Bhagavad Gita provides a defence of murder. So it’s certainly not a text meant for schools. You want to teach Gita in schools and expect crime to go down, both of these are contradictory. Bhagavad Gita provides a defence of murder. Bhagavad Gita can never form a moral foundation of the nation. Bhagavad Gita espouses violence and varna system. There will never be a peace in India till the time our generation will stop taking inspiration from such books. If today, we didn’t raise our voice against such books, those teach discrimination, our future generations will not forgive us.
So, I wanted to do my bit by compiling the casteist verses from the Bhagavad Gita.
[I will be using ‘varna’ and ‘castes’ interchangeably, though under each varna there are 1000s of castes. But for the sake of simplicity sometimes I have used ‘varna’ and ‘castes’ to imply the same meaning.]
Religious texts all over the world have set fundamental element of common values and morals. Bhagavad Gita has influenced the culture and shaped the mindset of people in India as it offers guidelines to live in a certain way. By examining the teachings of Bhagavad Gita we can understand the type of culture or society it promotes. Bhagavad Gita is one of the eighteens Smritis and it stands closer to Manusmriti in terms of teachings and type of philosophy it preaches. To find truth or seeking enlightenment through Gita is a rubbish idea and all those who preach such kind of nonsense are either gullible or of Brahminical mindset.
Chapter 1, 2 and 11 of Bhagavad Gita are focused on convincing Arjuna to follow his caste duties by making him fight the battle. It provides justification for the war and killing while giving the logic, which doesn’t make sense, that all things are going to end, man is bound to die and it doesn’t make any difference whether man dies of natural death or is killed in the violence. Such is the main idea of the book and anyone believing or preaching such ideas can’t be a sane, let alone worthy of reverence.
After going through it, I found that it is no different from the Manusmriti or Parashara Smriti, both of which are against so-called lower castes and women. Bhagavad Gita assigns different castes, different responsibilities, which are not different from the four varna duties assigned by the other Brahminical scriptures (such as read Purusha Sukta 10:90 of Rig Veda, which says in verse 12, “The Brahman was his mouth, of both his arms was the Rājanya made. His thighs became the Vaiśya, from his feet the Śūdra was produced.”). Fulfilling the ‘dharma’, sacred duties as assigned to each varna is the key notion of the Bhagavad Gita. Warnings of never to violate the caste laws and ‘fear’ factors are included in the verses so that people don’t deviate from following the caste duties. Caste duties remain same throughout the life hence one should focus on his caste duties only. By doing so, Bhagavad Gita shapes a rigid caste hierarchy.
Further, Bhagavad Gita is full of contradictions – both at the fundamental level and at the highest level of philosophical discourse. What is said in one chapter is contradicted in the very next chapter. Bhagavad Gita (verse 9:32) degrades the status of women and it proclaims that women were born from wombs of sin.
In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna is made to utter that he is God and he created the caste hierarchy to promote dharma (peace and harmony) in this world. When Dr. Ambedkar propagated ideas of the annihilation of caste, RSS people followed the logic of Krishna ‘harmony among different caste’ and formed ‘Samajik Samrasta Manch’. Krishna’s logic is illogical. Now, look around yourself and think about what caste system has done to Dalits and how it has disturbed the peace and harmony among communities.
In Hinduism (Brahmanism), people are divided into castes according to their responsibility of satisfying ‘sacred unavoidable obligations’ as assigned by ‘dharma’. To make people fulfil these obligations, Brahmins gave religious justification and created scriptures around them. They created 18 Smritis. (Read also casteist quotes from Manusmriti and Parashara Smriti) Bhagavad Gita is another Smriti that promotes caste system and discrimination.
Caste and caste duties in Bhagavad Gita
There is ample justification in the Bhagavad Gita alone to maintain caste divisions & oppression.
“I created mankind in four classes, different in their qualities and actions; though unchanging, I am the agent of this, the actor who never acts!” (Bhagavad Gita 4:13)
Verse 4:13 within the Bhagavad Gita shows that mankind is established into four classes (varnas). This means that castes which have been created are not changeable because they are set when people are created. You are born with a caste and die in the same caste.
Rahul Bhalerao in his article ‘What is wrong with Bhagavad Gita?’ mentions, “while one can make a hundred attempts at justifying that Caste as per the Gita is based on Karma alone and it is only meant for the good of society, but it would be a grave mistake to ignore the practical nature of Caste, which is based solely on birth for thousands of years, along with fixity of professions, disallowing of inter-dining and inter-marriages.”
Rahul further notes that the fact that birth-based caste system existed at the time of Gita is evident within the Gita itself!
“For finding refuge in Me, even those who though are born of the womb of sin, women, Vaishyas, and Shudras too, reach the supreme goal.” (Bhagavad Gita 9:32)
Isn’t this an utter obscenity and contempt based on birth?
The strictness of caste responsibilities is mentioned clearly in verses 3:4 and 3:5 of Bhagavad Gita.
“A person can never achieve freedom from reactions to activities without first performing prescribed Vedic duties: neither can perfection be attained by renouncing them as well.” (Bhagavad Gita 3:4)
“No one exists for even an instant, without performing an action; however unwilling, every being is forced, to act by the qualities of nature.” (Bhagavad Gita 3:5)
This explains the absoluteness of the caste system and performing caste duties will be the highest priority in one’s activities. You live and die for maintaining and performing the Vedic duties. [Verse 3:5 is talking about ‘qualities of nature’, you should read verse 4:13 and verse 18:41 along with it to understand what qualities it is talking about, i.e. it relates to the activities assigned to different caste groups.] By creating such stringent order, the Bhagavad Gita reinforces the hierarchy of the caste system, which can’t be changed and caste rules of which should be followed at any cost.
Verses 18:41 to 18:48 shows the real picture of how society is divided into varnas and what obligations are assigned to each Varna. Bhagavad Gita says varna is fixed according to his innate, inborn, qualities. By linking innate qualities of different varnas Gita provides the philosophic basis to the theory of chaturvarna.
Let’s look at the verses 18:41 to 18:48
“O Arjuna, the activities of the brahmanas, kastriyas , vaisyas and sudras are clearly divided according to the qualities born of their own nature.” (Bhagavad Gita 18:41)
“The actions of a brahmana arising from his own nature are serenity, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honest, knowledge of the Vedas, wisdom and firm faith.“ (Bhagavad Gita 18:42)
“The actions of a ksatriya born of his own nature are heroism, exuberance, determination, resourcefulness, without trace of cowardice in battle, generosity and leadership.“ (Bhagavad Gita 18:43)
“The actions of a vaisya born of his own nature are agriculture, cow protection and trade; also the actions of a sudra born of his own nature consists in service to brahmana, ksatriyas and vaisyas.“ (Bhagavad Gita 18:44)
“Following each his own activity, a man achieves finally perfection; now hear how the performer of action prescribed according to nature attains perfection.“ (Bhagavad Gita 18:45)
“From whom is the existence of all living entities, by whom all this is pervaded; through worshipping Him, by one’s own actions prescribed according to nature a man achieves perfection.“ (Bhagavad Gita 18:46)
“It is better to engage in one’s own svadharma (occupation), even though one may perform it imperfectly than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly. Duties prescribed according to one’s nature are never affected by sinful reactions.“ (Bhagavad Gita 18:47)
“One should not abandon duties born of one’s nature, even if one sees defects in them, O son of Kunti. Indeed, all endeavors are veiled by some evil, as fire is by smoke.“ (Bhagavad Gita 18:48)
Verses 18:41 to 18:48 of the Bhagavad Gita describe that every caste group has its specific activities (dharma), stresses that the dharma is set by birth and there is no chance of escaping! Don’t we see the same in the present caste-ridden society in India? “Own activity” means assigned caste duties, which set the different paths that people must take to achieve the same end goal, moksha but by setting out different paths it arranges people in the caste (varna) order.
The idea that different actions from each caste group are needed to achieve moksha further makes the differentiation clear that Bhagavad Gita propounds. Verse 18:45 make clear that focus should be on one’s “own activity” (specific caste duties of each caste group, see verses 18:41 to 18:48 for caste duties) only then one can achieve moksha. This verse doesn’t only sets out different caste groups but also comforts those at the lower end by making the promise that if they will follow the own activity (caste duties), they will be able to achieve moksha. Such verses from the Bhagavad Gita has done much harm to the society and have kept so-called lower castes in darkness.
Those who say, ‘oh, karma decides your varna or caste’, I have a question for them. How many Brahmins have you ever seen been degraded to untouchables’ status? You can look into the history books and answer if you can find any. An idiot son of Brahmin will always be considered worth more than a doctorate degree holder Dalit because Brahmins’ religious scriptures preach so.
Fear and sin as a weapon to ensure people fulfil caste duties
Further, Bhagavad Gita makes sure that people stick to their prescribed duties.
“It is far better to perform one’s svadharma (prescribed duties), even though faultily, than another’s duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, for to follow another’s path is dangerous.” (Bhagavad Gita 3:35)
“The wise should not create doubt in the minds of ignorant people, who are attached to fruitive actions (follower of karma kand/ chaturvarna), by inducing them to stop work. Rather, by performing their duties in an enlightened manner, they should inspire the ignorant also to do their prescribed duties.” (Bhagavad Gita 3:26)
Throughout the history, so-called lower castes have risen against oppression and have rebelled against the caste system. The threat that so-called lower castes might pose in future is taken care of with such verses (3:26 and 3:35). Bhagavad Gita makes sure that one doesn’t rebel or encourage others to rise against the oppression and instructs to keep on following the prescribed caste duties.
Another support for the caste system in the Bhagavad Gita is the fact that its central point is that by focusing on one’s sacred duties, one can escape from the cycle of rebirth. Such a state is called moksha and can only be accomplished through satisfying one’s caste duties. The same notion is conveyed when Krishna explains to Arjuna to do what should be done in order to achieve the everlasting peace.
Krishna convinces Arjuna, in the Bhagavad Gita, to set aside his personal will, suppress emotions and perform his caste duties of a warrior. Verses 2:31 to 33 of the Bhagavad Gita should be looked into how Krishna forces Arjuna to undertake his caste duties, no matter Arjuna is no ready.
“Look to your own duty; do not tremble before it; nothing is better for a warrior than a battle of sacred duty.“ (Bhagavad-Gita 2:31)
“The doors of heaven open for warriors who rejoice to have a battle like this thrust on them by chance.“ (Bhagavad-Gita 2:32)
“If you fail to wage this war of sacred duty, you will abandon your own duty and fame only to gain evil.“ (Bhagavad-Gita 2:33)
The Bhagavad Gita verses, 3:35 and 2:31 to 33 not only force to fulfil one’s caste duties but also bring in ‘fear’ to help ensure that people follow their caste responsibilities and don’t oppose.
Such ideas of ‘fear’ are used at multiple places to reinforce that the caste duties of different varnas are followed accordingly. Verses 1:40 to 1:43 are even worse which state that varna-samkarna (mixture of varnas) leads to the destruction of the family and lead to hell.
“When the family is ruined, the timeless laws of family duty (dharma) perish; and when duty (dharma) is lost, chaos overwhelms the family.“ (Bhagavad Gita 1:40)
“In the overwhelming chaos, Krishna, women of the family are corrupted; and when women are corrupted, disorder is born in society.“ (Bhagavad Gita 1:41)
“This discord drags the violators and the family itself to hell; for ancestors fall when rites of offering rice and water lapse.“ (Bhagavad Gita 1:42)
“The sins of men who violate the family create disorder in society that undermines the constant laws of caste (varna) and family duty (dharma).“ (Bhagavad Gita 1:43)
Verses 1:40 to 1:43 use ‘fear’ to ensure caste strictness and that failure to appropriately fulfilling caste duties is sinful and creates havoc in the family and society. These verses attach sin to guilt and create the new definition of good and bad dharma (duties), forcing everyone to fulfil their assigned caste duties. Verse 1:43 states that ‘sins of men who violate the family create disorder in society’ hence focus is made on making sure that society as a whole obeys the rules of Varna/caste. As per the verses, indiscipline from a single person can create disorder in the society so the social pressure is mounted on the person who doesn’t follow the prescribed caste duties. Bhagavad Gita makes sure that maintaining the caste duties is the responsibility of everyone so that society can survive and avoid the catastrophe that would occur if caste duties are not followed. Further, this whole thing designs the rules for different castes and sets guidelines that everyone is required to follow the set caste duties.
Detachment to make easier to endure the pain of carrying out caste-duties
Verses 2:71, 3:19 and 12:12 of the Bhagavad Gita mention ‘detachment’ and ‘renunciation’ as the perfect way to execute caste responsibilities. One can see this notion of detachment when Krishna explains to Arjuna to fight the battle rather than be affected by his own feelings (see also, verses 2:31 to 2:33 mentioned above).
“When he [the virtuous person] renounces all desires and acts without craving, possessiveness, or individuality, he finds peace.” (Bhagavad Gita 2:71)
“Always perform with detachment any action you must do; performing action with detachment, one achieves supreme good.” (Bhagavad Gita 3:19)
“If you cannot take to this practice, then engage yourself in the cultivation of knowledge. Better than knowledge, however, is meditation, and better than meditation is renunciation of the fruits of action, for by such renunciation one can attain peace of mind.” (Bhagavad Gita 12:12)
Bhagavad Gita encourages people to detach themselves from feelings/sentiments as it makes much easier to endure the pain of carrying out caste-duties especially for the so-called lower castes as they are assigned the worst caste duties. The concept of detachment is devised to promote caste system by making each caste group to focus on their caste duties and to reduce the anger of so-called lower castes who are unhappy with the caste system.
Better Next Life
In the Bhagavad Gita, promises of attaining better next life if people would devote themselves to their caste duties (and punishment if they don’t) encourage so-called lower castes to endure suffering at the hands of oppressors. Verse 6:41 and 6:45 of the Bhagavad Gita states that a person will continue to suffer until he is reborn to a higher caste and only way to be reborn into a higher caste is to accept one’s caste responsibilities and accept suffering in the current life.
“Fallen in discipline, he reaches worlds made by his virtue, wherein he dwells for endless years, until he is reborn in a house of upright and noble men.” (Bhagavad Gita 6;41)
“The man of discipline, striving with effort, purified of his sins, perfected through many births, finds a higher way” (The Bhagavad Gita 6:45).
So, Bhagavad Gita through notion and hope of better next life provided so-called lower castes psychological support and purpose to undergo suffering in the present life. From these, we can easily see the way the Bhagavad Gita provides support for the caste system by giving spiritual aids that decreases the oppressiveness of the caste system in the present. It sets the position of higher castes above others and tries to give so-called lower castes, those who suffer caste oppression, optimism that if they will perform their caste duties in present life they will be capable of being reborn in a higher caste.
Equality in the Bhagavad Gita?
The famous verse which is mentioned by followers of Bhagavad Gita to proclaim that it promotes ‘equality’ is verse 5:18, which states,
“Learned men see with an equal eye, a scholarly and dignified priest, a cow, an elephant, a dog and even an outcaste scavenger.” (Bhagavad Gita 5:18)
This verse is as casteist as others and doesn’t promote social equality at all. The verse is talking in a spiritual sense and one might say that verse promotes spiritual equality but it doesn’t promote social equality. Verse might seem to promote that audience see everything evenly, which might seems like it markets the idea of egalitarian society, however, it does not imply that society should be egalitarian. In stating “and even an outcaste scavenger” the text places “outcaste scavenger” lower than priests and animals. Doesn’t it indicate to you the hierarchical caste order? It certainly does. Additionally, it is important to note that looking things with “equal eye” doesn’t mean ‘equal status’ or ‘equal rank’ in the varna.
It strengthens the caste system by downplaying the oppressiveness of the caste system as it makes so-called lower castes to believe that they are equivalent to the folks from the so-called upper castes, which was never the reality of caste-ridden society. So, even if Bhagavad Gita mentions ‘equality’, it only provides encouragement to the caste system.
These Satanic verses from the Bhagavad Gita cannot be ‘explained away’, you either agree or disagree with them and all those who try to explain these verses in any other way certainly are supporters of the caste system and are enjoying the fruit of caste system.
What other scholars have said about Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita is neither moral nor progressive; it is the antithesis of everything that is progressive and desirable in this world, and it indeed is the bible of bondage and slavery. It is anti-human rights and anti-human values. It is a sad day if Indians are still under the delusion that it is their salvation. The sooner we recognize the Gita for what it is, the better for India and the world. – V.R. Narla, author of ‘The truth about the Gita’
Following two quotes are taken from ‘Revolution and Counter-revolution in Ancient India’ (Vol 3 of the Writings and Speeches of Dr B. R. Ambedkar)
Hopkins speaks of the Bhagvat Gita as …an ill-assorted cabinet of primitive philosophical opinions.
Bohtlingk says, “The Gita contains by the side of many high and beautiful thoughts, not only a few weak points ; contradictions (which the commentators have tried to pass over as excusable), repetitions, exaggerations, absurdities and loathsome points.”
Bhagavad Gita Verses are taken from the following sources –
Sacred Texts Interpreted: Religious Documents Explained by Carl Olson
The Bhagavad-Gita: Krishna’s Counsel in Time of War by Barbara Stoler Miller
Anthology of World Scriptures by Robert Van Voorst
Author – Pardeep
Rakesh Patil, studied at College of Engineering, Pune
I saw this question before but wanted to study Gita further for myself instead of falling for interpretations provided by others. Also it was important to learn the history behind creation of Gita. Because British in particular along with their Brahmin contemporaries were hell bent in promoting Gita among the Hinduism population as their one and foremost important book above all others. British and Brahmin associates even made it as an official book in the court of law for Hindus to swear on. Even so, a translation copy of Gita was gifted to Mohandas Gandhi who had never read the Gita before.
I find Gita as a book of principles instead of a book of Philosophy. It had the principles that needed to be followed by a particular sect or a kingdom. From further research, found out that Gita was never a part of Mahabharata. They both were not written at the same time but were generations apart. Also Gita was written, rewritten, more contents added and modified several times throughout generations.
Very likely Gita was first composed during the reign of Shunga Dynasty under King Pushyamitra in opposition of Buddhist revolutionaries who were against the caste system. Their were ruins of ancient Buddhist temples that archeologists found to have been destroyed during the reign of Pushyamitra. And Pushyamitra was a Brahman.
Coming back to question, Gita does promote caste system. And their are verses which also justify it. Couple of chapters, Krishna tells Arjuna to follow his castely duties to fight in the war. And the justification given by Krishna for fighting in the war is that, we are all going to die, whether by natural cause or by killing, there is no difference. Also Gita clearly mentions different castes and their duties:
Brahman is the mouth
Rajanya is the arms
Vaisya is the thigh
Shudra is the feet
Now a days, some priests sugarcoat the discriminatory ideology so that it can be acceptable. But the verses state that its the law that no one should ever deviate from their caste or else would have to go through rigorous punishment. You remain in the same caste throughout your life.
So say, you are born through the womb of a sweeper. So your duty is to be sweeper for the rest of your life. If you even think about becoming a doctor, you are violating the law of the dharma, hence you would be punished. Below verse shows that your duty in life can never be changed since your creation.
चातुर्वर्ण्यं मया सृष्टं गुणकर्मविभागश: |
तस्य कर्तारमपि मां विद्ध्यकर्तारमव्ययम्
chātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛiṣhṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśhaḥ
tasya kartāram api māṁ viddhyakartāram avyayam
I created mankind in four classes, different in their qualities and actions; though unchanging, I am the agent of this, the actor who never acts!
Here is another one quite often debated. This verse in particular is actually an extremely offensive expression. And seems to have been promoted to provide comfort for sinners, women and lower castes that no matter what actions you take, you all will live in same shelter of the supreme being.
मां हि पार्थ व्यपाश्रित्य येऽपि स्यु: पापयोनय:
स्त्रियो वैश्यास्तथा शूद्रास्तेऽपि यान्ति परां गतिम्
māṁ hi pārtha vyapāśhritya ye ’pi syuḥ pāpa-yonayaḥ
striyo vaiśhyās tathā śhūdrās te ’pi yānti parāṁ gatim
For finding refuge in Me, even those who though are born of the womb of sin, women, Vaishyas, and Shudras too, reach the supreme goal.
Here are some verses that clearly subjugates to follow your castely duties without any objection. Verses are pretty strict and enforces the hierarchy of caste system.
न कर्मणामनारम्भान्नैष्कर्म्यं पुरुषोऽश्नुते
न च संन्यसनादेव सिद्धिं समधिगच्छति
na karmaṇām anārambhān naiṣhkarmyaṁ puruṣho ’śhnute
na cha sannyasanād eva siddhiṁ samadhigachchhati
A person can never achieve freedom from reactions to activities without first performing prescribed Vedic duties: neither can perfection be attained by renouncing them as well.
न हि कश्चित्क्षणमपि जातु तिष्ठत्यकर्मकृत्
कार्यते ह्यवश: कर्म सर्व: प्रकृतिजैर्गुणै
na hi kaśhchit kṣhaṇam api jātu tiṣhṭhatyakarma-kṛit
kāryate hyavaśhaḥ karma sarvaḥ prakṛiti-jair guṇaiḥ
No one exists for even an instant, without performing an action; however unwilling, every being is forced, to act by the qualities of nature.
Further more, Gita dictates duties based on different castes and that their is no way you can come out of your caste as you are born into one. Also strictly states that different caste should perform only their own castely duties and of no other caste. Some of these verses were also written as a comfort for the lower castes that they too will achieve Moksha by just performing their own duties. In our current society, these verses have caused much divide among people within Hinduism and caused inhumane treatments of the lower castes.
ब्राह्मणक्षत्रियविशां शूद्राणां च परन्तप
कर्माणि प्रविभक्तानि स्वभावप्रभवैर्गुणै
brāhmaṇa-kṣhatriya-viśhāṁ śhūdrāṇāṁ cha parantapa
karmāṇi pravibhaktāni svabhāva-prabhavair guṇaiḥ
O Arjuna, the activities of the brahmanas, kastriyas , vaisyas and sudras are clearly divided according to the qualities born of their own nature.
शमो दमस्तप: शौचं क्षान्तिरार्जवमेव च
ज्ञानं विज्ञानमास्तिक्यं ब्रह्मकर्म स्वभावजम्
śhamo damas tapaḥ śhauchaṁ kṣhāntir ārjavam eva cha
jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ brahma-karma svabhāva-jam
The actions of a brahmana arising from his own nature are serenity, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honest, knowledge of the Vedas, wisdom and firm faith.
शौर्यं तेजो धृतिर्दाक्ष्यं युद्धे चाप्यपलायनम्
दानमीश्वरभावश्च क्षात्रं कर्म स्वभावजम्
śhauryaṁ tejo dhṛitir dākṣhyaṁ yuddhe chāpy apalāyanam
dānam īśhvara-bhāvaśh cha kṣhātraṁ karma svabhāva-jam
The actions of a ksatriya born of his own nature are heroism, exuberance, determination, resourcefulness, without trace of cowardice in battle, generosity and leadership.
कृषिगौरक्ष्यवाणिज्यं वैश्यकर्म स्वभावजम्
परिचर्यात्मकं कर्म शूद्रस्यापि स्वभावजम्
kṛiṣhi-gau-rakṣhya-vāṇijyaṁ vaiśhya-karma svabhāva-jam
paricharyātmakaṁ karma śhūdrasyāpi svabhāva-jam
The actions of a vaisya born of his own nature are agriculture, cow protection and trade; also the actions of a sudra born of his own nature consists in service to brahmana, ksatriyas and vaisyas.
स्वे स्वे कर्मण्यभिरत: संसिद्धिं लभते नर:
स्वकर्मनिरत: सिद्धिं यथा विन्दति तच्छृणु
sve sve karmaṇy abhirataḥ sansiddhiṁ labhate naraḥ
sva-karma-nirataḥ siddhiṁ yathā vindati tach chhṛiṇu
Following each his own activity, a man achieves finally perfection; now hear how the performer of action prescribed according to nature attains perfection.
यत: प्रवृत्तिर्भूतानां येन सर्वमिदं ततम्
स्वकर्मणा तमभ्यर्च्य सिद्धिं विन्दति मानव
yataḥ pravṛittir bhūtānāṁ yena sarvam idaṁ tatam
sva-karmaṇā tam abhyarchya siddhiṁ vindati mānavaḥ
From whom is the existence of all living entities, by whom all this is pervaded; through worshipping Him, by one’s own actions prescribed according to nature a man achieves perfection.
श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुण: परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात्
स्वभावनियतं कर्म कुर्वन्नाप्नोति किल्बिषम्
śhreyān swa-dharmo viguṇaḥ para-dharmāt sv-anuṣhṭhitāt
svabhāva-niyataṁ karma kurvan nāpnoti kilbiṣham
It is better to engage in one’s own svadharma (occupation), even though one may perform it imperfectly than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly. Duties prescribed according to one’s nature are never affected by sinful reactions.
सहजं कर्म कौन्तेय सदोषमपि न त्यजेत्
सर्वारम्भा हि दोषेण धूमेनाग्निरिवावृता
saha-jaṁ karma kaunteya sa-doṣham api na tyajet
sarvārambhā hi doṣheṇa dhūmenāgnir ivāvṛitāḥ
One should not abandon duties born of one’s nature, even if one sees defects in them, O son of Kunti. Indeed, all endeavors are veiled by some evil, as fire is by smoke.
Also, what happens if each caste doesn't perform his/her duties? They are punished for this sin and below verses were written in particularly for lower castes only to avoid any rebellion and oppression. Clearly states that no one should create doubt to make someone stop the work or rebel against it.
श्रेयान्स्वधर्मो विगुण: परधर्मात्स्वनुष्ठितात्
स्वधर्मे निधनं श्रेय: परधर्मो भयावह
śhreyān swa-dharmo viguṇaḥ para-dharmāt sv-anuṣhṭhitāt
swa-dharme nidhanaṁ śhreyaḥ para-dharmo bhayāvahaḥ
It is far better to perform one’s svadharma (prescribed duties), even though faultily, than another’s duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, for to follow another’s path is dangerous.
न बुद्धिभेदं जनयेदज्ञानां कर्मसङ्गिनाम्
जोषयेत्सर्वकर्माणि विद्वान्युक्त: समाचरन्
na buddhi-bhedaṁ janayed ajñānāṁ karma-saṅginām
joṣhayet sarva-karmāṇi vidvān yuktaḥ samācharan
The wise should not create doubt in the minds of ignorant people, who are attached to fruitive actions (follower of karma kand/ chaturvarna), by inducing them to stop work. Rather, by performing their duties in an enlightened manner, they should inspire the ignorant also to do their prescribed duties.
There are verses to tell each caste to remain in their own caste and to not mix with other castes either via marriage, adoption or even duties. If someone dares to do so, it can bring bad karma to him/her or the whole entire family and society. Just like I stated in an example above, if you are born a sweeper, do not dare to even think about becoming a doctor. Verses below also give rules and regulations for different castes to follow.
कुलक्षये प्रणश्यन्ति कुलधर्मा: सनातना
धर्मे नष्टे कुलं कृत्स्नमधर्मोऽभिभवत्युत
kula-kṣhaye praṇaśhyanti kula-dharmāḥ sanātanāḥ
dharme naṣhṭe kulaṁ kṛitsnam adharmo ’bhibhavaty uta
When the family is ruined, the timeless laws of family duty (dharma) perish; and when duty (dharma) is lost, chaos overwhelms the family.
अधर्माभिभवात्कृष्ण प्रदुष्यन्ति कुलस्त्रिय
स्त्रीषु दुष्टासु वार्ष्णेय जायते वर्णसङ्कर
adharmābhibhavāt kṛiṣhṇa praduṣhyanti kula-striyaḥ
strīṣhu duṣhṭāsu vārṣhṇeya jāyate varṇa-saṅkaraḥ
In the overwhelming chaos, Krishna, women of the family are corrupted; and when women are corrupted, disorder is born in society.
सङ्करो नरकायैव कुलघ्नानां कुलस्य च
पतन्ति पितरो ह्येषां लुप्तपिण्डोदकक्रिया
saṅkaro narakāyaiva kula-ghnānāṁ kulasya cha
patanti pitaro hy eṣhāṁ lupta-piṇḍodaka-kriyāḥ
This discord drags the violators and the family itself to hell; for ancestors fall when rites of offering rice and water lapse.
दोषैरेतै: कुलघ्नानां वर्णसङ्करकारकै
उत्साद्यन्ते जातिधर्मा: कुलधर्माश्च शाश्वता
doṣhair etaiḥ kula-ghnānāṁ varṇa-saṅkara-kārakaiḥ
utsādyante jāti-dharmāḥ kula-dharmāśh cha śhāśhvatāḥ
The sins of men who violate the family create disorder in society that undermines the constant laws of caste (varna) and family duty (dharma).
Verses below, specifically written for lower castes as a comfort that its ok to go through suffering in this life but as long as you faithfully and with discipline perform all your castely duties and activities in this life, you are promised to move to upper caste in next life. How many of us would like to hear or believe such promise?
प्राप्य पुण्यकृतां लोकानुषित्वा शाश्वती: समा
शुचीनां श्रीमतां गेहे योगभ्रष्टोऽभिजायते
prāpya puṇya-kṛitāṁ lokān uṣhitvā śhāśhvatīḥ samāḥ
śhuchīnāṁ śhrīmatāṁ gehe yoga-bhraṣhṭo ’bhijāyate
Fallen in discipline, he reaches worlds made by his virtue, wherein he dwells for endless years, until he is reborn in a house of upright and noble men.
प्रयत्नाद्यतमानस्तु योगी संशुद्धकिल्बिष
अनेकजन्मसंसिद्धस्ततो याति परां गतिम्
prayatnād yatamānas tu yogī sanśhuddha-kilbiṣhaḥ
aneka-janma-sansiddhas tato yāti parāṁ gatim
The man of discipline, striving with effort, purified of his sins, perfected through many births, finds a higher way.
Like I said earlier, the whole book was written as a book of principles to be followed especially for lower caste. It was also written to avoid any rebellion and oppression from other castes and sects.
Another interesting fact is that Gita became least known in later period where other scriptures were given higher preference. Infact, the emergence of Gita is very new especially after it was discovered and translated by Charles Wilkins under the Governorship of General Warren Hastings. And after the invention of Hinduism, British colonists used Gita as an official text of Hinduism. There were numerous texts and schools of Philosophy that existed but British along with their Brahmin contemporaries, ignored them all and gave preference to Bhagavad Gita. And the reason is the verses in the Gita itself which benefitted both parties.
So, Gita was just a book of principles, rules, law and order to be followed by all castes in ancient times under a specific kingdom. It isn't a religious book. The element of God and supposedly conversation between Krishna and Arjuna were elements added to show as if the rules were dictated directly by God as it would have been more impactful for the innocent civilians of the kingdom to follow effortlessly.