14. The Gunas: Developing Them And Going Beyond Them
75. Analysis Of Prakriti1
Brothers, the Fourteenth Chapter, in a way, complements the last Chapter. The Self has really nothing to achieve. It is complete and perfect in itself. The natural movement of the Self is upwards. But just as any object is dragged down by a heavy weight tied to it, the Self is pulled down by the body. We saw in the last Chapter that progress is possible if, by some means, the body and the Self could be separated. This is certainly difficult, but the reward that we shall have will also be great. If we could break the fetters of the body that bind the Self, we shall experience a great joy. Then the suffering of the body would not make us miserable. We would then be free. Who can rule over a man who has conquered his body? One who rules himself is the master of the universe. Therefore, end the domination of the body over the Self. The pleasures and pains of the body are all alien; they have absolutely no connection with the Self.
I had given the example of Jesus Christ to give an idea of the extent to which the pleasures and pains of the body should be separated from our Self. Christ shows how peaceful and cheerful one should be even when the body is succumbing to death. But, separating body from the Self needs discernment on one hand and restraint on the other. Tukaram has spoken of ‘विवेकासहित वैराग्याचें बळ’ (Strength of non-attachment in association with discernment). Discernment and non-attachment (vairagya), both are necessary. Non-attachment means, in a sense, self-restraint and endurance. The Fourteenth Chapter shows how we could proceed towards self-restraint. The oars propel the boat, but the rudder sets the direction. The oars and rudder, both are necessary. In the same way discernment and self-restraint, both are needed to separate the Self from the bodily pleasures and pains.
Just as a doctor examines the health of a patient and prescribes treatment, the Lord has examined the entire prakriti, analysed it and diagnosed the diseases. Prakriti has been neatly classified here. There is a principle in diplomacy that if we could create dissensions and divisions in the enemy’s camp, the enemy can soon be vanquished. The Lord has done the same here.
Prakriti of everything and every being consists of three constituents. Just as in ayurved (the Indian system of medicine), nature is divided in three categories—kapha (phlegm), pitta (bile) and vata (wind)—, prakriti has three gunas (modes)—sattva, rajas and tamas. All the things are made of these three materials; difference being only in their proportion. Only when we separate the Self from all of them, could we succeed in separating it from the body. To examine these gunas and to conquer them is the way to separate the Self from the body. With restraint and firmness, we have to go on subduing and conquering them one by one and reach the ultimate destination.
76. Bodily Labour: Cure For Tamas
Let us take tamas first. We are observing its terrible consequences in the present social situation. Its main consequence is laziness which, in turn, gives rise to sleep and blunders. Only if we overcome all the three things, we may take it that we have conquered tamas. Among them, laziness is extremely dreadful. It ruins the best among men. It is an enemy which destroys the peace and happiness in the society. It spoils everyone, from a child to an old man. It spares no one. It always lies in wait to pounce on us, and strikes at the slightest opportunity. A little more food induces us to lie down and a little more sleep makes us dull. Everything is in vain until this laziness is overcome. But, strangely, we look forward to idleness. We want to earn as much as possible in as less time as possible, so that we could relax later. The idea is to earn a lot to provide for idleness later! We believe that we must get rest in old age. But this is an erroneous idea. If we lead our life in the right way, we shall be able to work even in old age. In fact, we could be of greater service in old age because of our experience. And still we seek rest at that time!
We should be alert lest indolence should get the better of us. King Nala was a great man, but once he did not wash his feet properly and it is said that Kali (the evil spirit) entered into his body through the dry spot on the foot. Although Nala was pure and clean in all respects, a little neglect, a little laziness gave Kali an opportunity to enter into him. But our negligence is so total that indolence can gain an entry into us at any time, from anywhere. When the body becomes indolent, the mind and the intellect follow suit. The present-day structure of the society rests on laziness. This has given rise to innumerable miseries. If laziness could be removed, we would be able to eliminate a substantial number, if not all, of those miseries.
At present, everywhere, there is a talk of social reform. People are discussing about the minimum comforts that the common man should have, the structure of society necessary for it, and such other questions. At one end, there are excessive luxuries and at the other, there is extreme privation. At one end, there is excessive wealth and at the other, there is total destitution. How to remove these social disparities? How could everybody have minimum happiness? There is only one natural way for everyone to get the necessaries of life; and it is that all should shake off laziness and be ready to work hard. Laziness is the cause of our main woe, and this woe would be no more if all resolve to do physical labour.
But what do we observe in our society? On one side, there are men getting rusty and useless. The rich do not use their organs, which get rusted due to disuse. On the other side, some people are required to toil so hard that their bodies get worn out through overwork. There is a tendency in the whole of the society to evade bodily labour. Those who have to toil till the point of breakdown do not do so willingly and cheerfully, but because there is no other alternative. Clever people devise all sorts of excuses to avoid physical labour. Some say, “Why waste time in bodily labour?” But no one ever says, “Why should one sleep? Why waste time in eating?” They eat when they are hungry and sleep when they feel sleepy; but when the question of doing bodily labour arises, they say, “Why waste time in bodily labour? Why should we do such work? Why should we toil? We are already doing mental work.” To them I would say, “My dear friend, you talk of mental work; then why don’t you take mental food and mental sleep?”
Thus, there are two sections in the society: some work to the point of breakdown while others do no work at all. A friend once said, “In society, some are intelligent while others are stupid. Some have only heads while some have only trunks.” The brains think and the trunks work. Society has been divided in this manner. But, had there actually been some trunks and some brains, some arrangement for cooperation between them could have been evolved. The lame can lead the blind and the blind can carry the lame on his shoulders. But in reality, everybody has a brain as well as a trunk. This combination of head and trunk is found in each and everyone. What should then be done? Everybody must, therefore, shake off laziness.
To shake off laziness one must do physical labour. It is the only way to conquer laziness. If we fail to do this, nature will make us pay for this lapse. The price may be in the form of diseases or in some other form. As we have been given a body, it is imperative for us to use it for labour. The time spent in physical labour is not wasted. We get its reward in the form of sound health and pure, sharp and bright intellect. Physical discomforts like headaches are often found reflected in the thinking of many thinkers. If they work in the open, in contact with nature, their ideas would certainly be brilliant and healthy. It is a matter of experience that just as diseases of the body have adverse effect on the mind, good health of the body has a positive effect on the mind. What is the point in going to health resorts after contracting diseases? Why not instead work in the open, do gardening, digging or wood-cutting to keep healthy?
77. Another Cure For Tamas: To Conquer Sleep
Overcoming laziness is one thing; another is to overcome sleep. Sleep is, in fact, something sacred. When saintly persons put in selfless service till they get tired and then go to sleep, that sleep is a kind of yoga. Only the blessed ones can have such a sound and peaceful sleep. The sleep must be deep; its duration is immaterial. It does not depend on the kind of bed or the time a man is lying on it. The deeper the well, the purer and sweeter is its water. Likewise, deep sleep is more rewarding even if it is short. Half an hour’s study with full concentration is more fruitful than three hours’ study done with a wandering mind. Similar is the case with sleep. It is not that a long sleep is always beneficial. Patients lie in the bed for twenty four hours a day, but sleep eludes them. True sleep is essentially sound and dreamless. Whatever one may have to suffer in hell, one does not know; but when sleep eludes and nightmares haunt, the torment is indeed hell-like. Troubled by such a situation, the Vedic sage says, ‘परा दुःस्वप्न्यं सुव’—‘Let me not have such a cruel sleep full of nightmares.’ The sleep is meant to give rest, but if all kinds of dreams and thoughts assail therein too, where is the question of rest?
How can we have deep and sound sleep? The cure for laziness is applicable here too. The body should be continuously used; then one will sleep like a log the moment one retires to bed. Sleep is like death on a small scale. One must prepare thoroughly throughout the day to have such a beautiful sleep. The body must get completely exhausted. Shakespeare has said, ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.’ A king cannot sleep. One of the reasons is that he does not do any bodily labour. One who is sleepy during the day is bound to be awake when it is time for sleep. Keeping the body and the intellect idle during the day is nothing but sleep. Then the mind wanders at the time of sleep and the body too does not get real rest. Then one just keeps lying in the bed. Life is given to us to attain its highest ends, to fulfill its mission. If it is eaten up by sleep, how can we achieve anything worthwhile in life?
When a lot of time is consumed in sleep, the third manifestation of tamas—blunders—occurs naturally. A sleepy man’s mind is not alert. That results in inattentiveness. Too much sleep gives rise to laziness which results in forgetfulness; and this forgetfulness is detrimental to spiritual progress. It is, in fact, harmful even in worldly affairs. But it has become a normal phenomenon in our society. Nobody feels that it is a grave fault. We fix up an appointment with somebody and miss it, and then say casually that we forgot about it. We have no sense of having erred and do not feel bad about it; and one to whom this answer is given is also satisfied with this explanation. It looks as though people think that there is no remedy for forgetfulness. But such negligence is harmful both in worldly and spiritual matters. Forgetfulness is a serious disease. It corrodes the intellect and saps the vitality of life.
Lethargy of the mind is the cause of forgetfulness. If the mind is awake, it will not forget things. An inattentive mind is bound to contract the disease of forgetfulness. Hence Lord Buddha had said, ‘पमादो मच्चुनो पदं’. Forgetfulness is death itself.
To overcome it, one must conquer laziness and sleep, do physical work and be ever alert. Whatever you do, do it after due deliberation. Nothing should be done casually and impulsively. Thinking should precede as well as follow action; thought should be present at all the stages of an action. If such a habit is ingrained, the disease of inattention will be cured. The whole of the time at our disposal should be carefully planned. One should keep an account of every moment, so that laziness does not get any opportunity to penetrate one’s life. Efforts should thus be made to conquer tamas in all its forms.
78. Cure For Rajas: Living Within The Bounds Of Swadharma
Thereafter, we should turn to rajas. Rajas too is a terrible foe. It is the other side of tamas. In fact, ‘rajas’ and ‘tamas’ should be considered interchangeable terms. After resting for long, the body feels like doing something and after too much activity, it seeks rest. Thus rajas follows tamas, and vice versa. Wherever one of them is there, the other is invariably present. Like bread in the oven with the flames below and the embers above, man is caught between rajas and tamas. They toss him towards each other. They together ruin him. His life is spent in getting kicked around by rajas and tamas, like a football.
The main characteristic of rajas is the itch and ambition to engage in all sorts of activities. There is an intense desire to do daring deeds. Rajas gives rise to limitless association and attachment to actions. It is essentially greed that binds a man to actions. Then it becomes impossible to withstand the onslaught of desires and passions. Man wants to do something or the other. He feels an urge to move mountains, to fill up lakes and create new ones in the deserts. He wants to dig a Suez canal here and a Panama canal there. He is completely seized with such wild ideas. There is no thought except that of doing this or that thing. A child takes a piece of cloth, cuts it up and tries to make something out of its pieces. Activities impelled by rajas are of the same kind. Man is then never satisfied with what exists and wants to interfere with everything. He sees a bird, wants to fly and make aeroplanes; he sees a fish, wants to live like it in water and makes submarines. Thus, in spite of being a human being, he feels a sense of achievement in being like the birds and the fish. Although residing in a human body, he yearns to enter into the bodies of other beings to have different experiences. Some want to go to Mars. The mind is thus never at rest; it wanders all the time. A multitude of desires possess man like an evil spirit. He wants change, activity, excitement. He is not satisfied in letting things where they are. He feels that if the things remain in their places in spite of him, it is an affront to him! A wrestler cannot contain the energy within him and bangs anything which comes in his way, without rhyme or reason. Rajas is always gushing forth driving man to do this or that. It makes man dig the earth and bring out stones which he calls diamonds; it makes him dive deep into the sea and bring out rubbish which he calls pearls. He then pierces holes through them, and through his own nose and ears as well, so that those could be worn there! Why does a man do all this? All this is under the influence of rajas.
Another effect of the rajas is the loss of stability and patience. Rajas wants immediate results. A slight obstruction therefore makes man give up the activity. He starts new projects endlessly, leaving earlier projects incomplete. A man full of rajas is always vacillating between different activities. The result is that nothing concrete is achieved. ‘राजसं चलमधु्वम्’. A rajasic activity is invariably marked with fickleness, wavering and lack of firmness. A man with rajas is like a child who sows a seed and impatiently digs after a few minutes to find out whether it has sprouted. He is impatient to have everything quickly and lacks restraint. He does not know how to plant his feet firmly on the ground. Having done some work at a place and earned some recognition, he wants to go to other places seeking recognition there. Rather than doing concrete work steadily at one place, he prefers hopping from place to place in the pursuit of name and fame. His mind is fixed on that only. This lands him in a terrible condition.
Under the influence of rajas, man intrudes into all sorts of activities. He forgets his swadharma. In fact, performance of swadharma implies giving up all other activities. Karmayoga as enjoined by the Gita is the cure for rajas. Everything in rajas is unsteady and fickle. If the water falling on the mountain-top runs down in different directions, all of it disappears eventually; but if it flows down in a single stream, it becomes a river, gathers strength and benefits all. Similarly, if a man concentrates all his energy and applies it to a single task in an orderly manner instead of frittering it away in a variety of activities, it will prove fruitful. That is why pursuit of swadharma is important.
One should, therefore, always reflect upon one’s swadharma and devote all energies to it. The mind should never be drawn to anything else. This is the test for swadharma. Karmayoga does not mean excessive or stupendous work. Karmayoga is not about how much you work. Karmayoga of the Gita is something quite different. The distinctive feature of karmayoga is the performance of swadharma, which is in tune with our nature and which comes to us naturally and inescapably, without any attention to the fruit, and progressive purification of the mind thereby. Otherwise, activities are continually going on in the world. Karmayoga means doing everything with a particular frame of mind. Sowing seeds in the field is not the same thing as throwing them here and there. There is a world of difference between these two actions. We know what we gain by sowing seeds and what we lose by throwing them. Karma that the Gita prescribes is like sowing the seeds. There is tremendous potency in performing one’s swadharma which is one’s duty. Here no effort is too great. There is, therefore, no scope for running around helter skelter.
79. How To Determine One’s Swadharma?
How to determine one’s swadharma? If someone asks this question, the only reply is that it is natural. Swadharma comes naturally to everyone. The very idea of going in search of it is strange. Swadharma of a man is born along with him. Swadharma, like one’s mother, is not chosen, but pre-determined. It is given to us in advance, before we are born. The world existed before we were born and it will be there when we are no more. We were born into a stream of existence; we are a part of a continuum. Service of our parents and our neighbours is our naturally accrued duty. We also have the experience of our inborn natural urges; they are common to all. We feel hunger and thirst; it is therefore our natural dharma to feed the hungry and give water to the thirsty. Serving others, doing good to others, is thus our dharma which we do not have to go in search for. In fact, if we find that there is a search on for swadharma, it is a sure sign that there is something vitally wrong, that something is being done which is neither rightful nor righteous.
A man devoted to service does not have to search for the type and form of service; he finds his work laid out before him. But it has to be borne in mind that what appears to have come unsought is not necessarily a righteous duty. Suppose a farmer comes to me at night and says, “Let us shift the fence of my farm by a few feet so that the area of my farm will be larger. We can do it unnoticed.” Although this work has certainly come unsought before me, it is clearly not my duty, as it is unethical.
The chaturvarnya2 system appeals to me essentially because there are naturalness and dharma (duties) in it. Nothing can be gained by evading one’s swadharma. My birth gives me my parents. Can I say that I do not like them? Whatever I might feel, they will continue to be my parents. The parent’s calling comes naturally to the children. It is a distinguishing characteristic of chaturvarnya that the people should continue to follow their ancestral callings, provided they are not unethical. This system has now decayed and adherence to it has become difficult. But it would be nice if it could be properly reformed and revived. Nowadays first 25-30 years of life are spent in learning a new vocation and thereafter people try to get a job or start a business. Thus, man is getting educated for the first 25 years of his life without doing anything else and this education has absolutely no connection with life. This period is taken as the time for preparation for the life ahead, which perhaps means that it is not part of life; life is to come later! It is as if one has to get education first and live thereafter. Learning and living have thus been divorced from each other. But anything unrelated to living is akin to death. The average expectation of life in India is 23 years and people spend 25 years in learning a vocation!3 The best and the most precious period in life, which should be used in fulfilling oneself through energetic and enthusiastic service of the people, is thus wasted. But life is not a child’s play. It is indeed tragic that a valuable part of life is wasted in finding a calling. To avoid this, Hinduism has devised the concept of varnadharma.
But, even if the concept of chaturvarnya is set aside, everybody in all the nations of the world has his swadharma accrued to him even where there is no such system. All of us are born in a stream, in a continuum, in a particular situation, and that defines our duties. It is, therefore, imperative that one is not attracted to duties which are out of context from the situation that one is placed in, even though they appear good and attractive. In fact, they should not be called duties at all. Often, a distant thing looks attractive and man is taken in by it. A man surrounded by fog feels that the fog is denser at a distance, although it is equally dense everywhere. Thus, things that are closer often go unnoticed and man feels attracted to what is distant. But this is a delusion that must be shunned. Swadharma may appear to be commonplace, imperfect and uninteresting; still that alone is good and beneficial. When a man is drowning in the sea it is the log floating near him, however rough and gnarled, that will save him. There may be a number of beautiful pieces of polished and carved wood in a carpenter’s workshop; they are of no use to the man who is struggling for life in the sea. It is in his interest to catch hold of the log that happens to be at hand. Likewise, the calling that has come to me as swadharma is beneficial to me even if it appears unattractive and commonplace. I should follow it and be immersed in it. Therein lies my redemption. If I set out to search for another sphere of service, I may end up in losing both of them; and also the very urge for service. One must, therefore, be ever-absorbed in the performance of swadharma.
When one is absorbed in swadharma, rajas loses its force because the mind gets concentrated; it then never swerves from swadharma. Fickle rajas then becomes powerless. If a river is deep, it can contain within its banks the onrush of any quantity of water without getting unduly disturbed. The river of swadharma can likewise hold all the force and power of man. Energy spent in the performance of swadharma is never too much. Pour all your energy into it and then the restlessness, which is a distinctive characteristic of rajas, will disappear. The sting of fickleness will be broken. This is the way to conquer rajas.
80. Sattva And The Method To Deal With It
What now remains is sattva. One must be very careful in dealing with it. How can one detach the Self from sattva? It is a matter for subtle thinking. Sattva is not to be completely destroyed. Rajas and tamas are to be completely rooted out; but the matter is different with sattva. If a big mob is gathered at a place and it is to be dispersed, the police are ordered to shoot below the waist, so the people are not killed, but they do get wounded. Sattva is also to be wounded; it is not to be killed. After the disappearance of rajas and tamas, pure sattva remains. So long as the body is there, one must be in some mode or the other. What then does detachment from sattva mean?
When we have sattva, we become proud of it. This drags down the Self from its true nature. If we want bright light from a lantern, the soot deposit inside its glass cover has to be wiped off; but this is not sufficient. The dust on the outer surface of the glass cover has also to be removed. In the same way, the soot of tamas has to be wiped off and then the dust of rajas should also be removed, so that the radiance of the Self could spread. Then only the clean glass of pure sattva remains between the light and us. Does removing sattva mean breaking this glass? No. The lantern will then become useless. It needs glass. Therefore, instead of breaking the glass, one should fix a piece of paper on the glass so that we can have the light but avoid its glare. Conquering sattva means elimination of pride about and attachment to sattva. We should make use of sattva, but that has to be done with care and skill. Sattva should be freed from pride.
How to overcome the pride that ‘I have sattva in me’? There is a way. Sattva should be imbibed through constant practice, so that it becomes our second nature. Continuous performance of sattvik actions withers away the pride about it. Through such actions, sattva becomes an integral part of our being. It should not remain a guest; it should rather become a member of the family. We feel proud of things that we do once in a while. We sleep daily, but do not consider it something special and do not talk about it. But if a patient has no sleep for days, and then sleeps for a while, he would tell everybody about it. An even better example would be that of our breathing. We breathe for twenty four hours a day, but never talk about it or brag about it. A piece of straw may be carried along the stream of a river for miles; it will not brag about it. But swimming a few feet against the current will make one extremely proud of it. In short, one does not feel proud of something when it is natural.
We feel proud when some good action gets done through our hands. Why? Because it has not happened in the routine course. When a child does something good, the mother pats it on the back; otherwise the child is familiar with the mother’s scolding only! When in the thick darkness of night there is only one firefly, look how proudly it shows itself off! It does not display its light steadily all the time. It twinkles and stops and twinkles again. That intermittent light fascinates us. A steady light does not attract us. Unbroken continuity makes a thing appear natural. One does not feel that there is anything special about it. Likewise, if our actions become sattvik, sattva will become part of our nature. A lion is not proud of its prowess; it is not even conscious of it. Sattvik attitude should thus become so natural that one is no longer conscious of it. Giving light is natural to the sun. It takes no pride in it. In fact, for it, to exist means to give light. A sattvik man should attain the same state. Sattva should be deeply ingrained in him; it should pervade every pore of his being. Then he would not feel proud of it. This is one of the ways for subduing and overcoming sattva.
Another way is to give up attachment even to sattva. Pride and attachment are two distinct things. This is a subtle thought which can be understood more readily by means of illustrations. The pride of sattva may disappear, but attachment to it may remain. Take, for example, breathing. One does not feel proud about it, but attachment to it is very much there. We cannot stop breathing even for a few minutes. It goes on though there is no sense of achievement. Socrates was snub-nosed and people used to make fun of it. But the witty Socrates would say, “In fact, it is my nose which is beautiful as wide nostrils take in more air.” The point is that one feels attachment to sattva. Take, for example, compassion for all creatures. It is a good quality, but we should be able to keep away from attachment to it. We should have compassion, but no attachment to it.
The saints can guide others because they possess sattva. Their compassion attracts people to them so much so that the whole world showers love on them. As love has reached its zenith in them, they receive love from the whole universe. They give up attachment to their bodies, but the whole world gets attached to them. It cares for them. But the saints should give up this attachment too; they should get free from this bondage also. They should separate the Self from this love and adoration, which is their great reward. They must not feel that they are somewhat special or exceptional. Sattva should thus be assimilated.
Thus, first pride about sattva should be conquered and then attachment. Pride can be conquered through constant practice of sattvik actions. To conquer attachment, one should work without desire for fruit and dedicate to the Lord the fruit that is received because of sattva. When sattva is fully assimilated in life, the fruit of sattvik actions appears before us in the form of supernatural powers or fame. But that should also be regarded as worthless. A tree never eats its own fruit, howsoever attractive and delicious it may be. Renunciation is sweeter than enjoyment.
Dharmaraj rejected the ultimate fruit of all the merits acquired in life: the enjoyment of pleasures in heaven. That was the crowning finale to his sacrifices. He was entitled to enjoy that sweet fruit. But had he enjoyed it, it would have been consumed. ‘क्षीणें पुण्यें मृत्युलाकास येती.’ (‘Enjoyment of the heavenly pleasures consumes the merits and one has then to take birth again on the earth.’) He would have again got caught in the cycle of births and deaths. Dharmaraj’s great sacrifice always stands before my eyes. How great it was! Thus, pride about Sattva is to be vanquished by ceaseless performance of sattvik actions and then attachment to it should be conquered by remaining detached from the fruit of actions and dedicating it to the Lord.
81. The Concluding Point: Self-Realisation And Refuge In Bhakti
Now, to conclude, one last point. Even if you have imbibed sattva, vanquished your ego and given up attachment to the fruit of actions, you shall continue to be vulnerable to the onslaught of rajas and tamas from time to time, so long as you are saddled with the body. You may for a while think that you have conquered rajas and tamas, but they will return again and again with a vengeance. You must, therefore, be ever alert. As the sea-waves rush in and make inroads into the land, the waves of rajas and tamas dash against the mind and make inroads into it. They should never be allowed to do so. Vigilance should not slacken even for a moment. And it must also be borne in mind that danger continues to lurk in the background despite all the vigilance so long as there is no Self-knowledge, no Self-realisation. You must, therefore, attain Self-realisation at all costs.
This is not possible through mere vigilance. Then how could Self-knowledge be attained? Will constant practice be sufficient? No. There is only one way, and that is bhakti with all the earnestness and love. You may conquer rajas and tamas, become steadfast in sattva and make renunciation of the fruit a habit, but still this is not enough to attain Self-knowledge; and there is no redemption without Self-knowledge. The grace of the Lord is essential for this purpose. Through loving devotion, we should make ourselves worthy of it. I see no other way. Arjuna asks the same question at the end of this Chapter and the Lord answers, “Be devoted to Me with mind absolutely one-pointed and without any desire for reward. Serve Me. He who serves Me thus can cross the maya. Otherwise this mysterious maya is hard to cross.” This is the easy method of bhakti. This is the only way.
Please see footnote in Chapter 2.13
Please refer footnote in Chapter 1.8. The system pf chaturvarnya has been under fire from different quarters for being iniquitous. Vinoba too held that as it has been distorted because of hierarchical stratification, it has become irrelevant. However, he looked to it as a social arrangement which avoids unnecessary competition and is, therefore, conducive to peace and order in the society. He held that all the varnas or occupations should have equal social and spiritual status and should earn equal remuneration. He also believed that all should have the good qualities irrespective of their varna or occupation. It must also be pointed out that although Vinoba spoke of chaturvarnya in appreciative terms at times, referring to the basic idea underlying that system, he was against the caste system. He believed that it has nothing to do with the chaturvarnya and called it a blot on Hinduism.
This was the expectation of life at the time of these talks. Now it is well over 50. However, this does not affect the essence of the argument.