Varna, jati, and caste are some of the most poorly understood concepts in India today. There are a few reasons for this:
1. The cosmological paradigm that led to the conceptualization of varna in Ancient India is not known, studied, and taught in the mainstream academia.
2. How the varna and jati have been represented in our various dharmashastras is also not part of the educated conversations.
3. The colonialists like James Mill—with an explicit agenda of showing Hindus as savages and barbarians—represented the varna-jati system in his ‘History of British India’ as hierarchical and oppressive that has become the received view in mainstream academia and Liberal and Left media in the West.
4. This became a reality of the Indian social system through the different caste census that the British undertook and interventions that they made. In other words, it is not sufficiently recognized that a narrative does not reside in books and universities only; it becomes a social reality with passage of time, particularly if it has political power backing it. In other words, the British creation of the narrative around caste and the subsequent Indian reality are also not critically investigated, understood, and commented upon.
5. The issue has become so politically and emotionally charged that scholars usually do not commit a dispassionate inquiry into this complex issue. This talk basically explains the cosmological underpinnings of the varna-jati system and how the internal decline and external aggression led to the awful situation that we find around jati and “caste” in India today.
As Sri Aurobindo explained the cosmological and psycho-spiritual underpinnings of the varna system, he decried the current-and-declined form that it has attained in the current times. He is clear in stating that the “caste” system, which has completely lost touch with its varna-jati underpinnings, must go in order for renaissance in India to emerge. There is a certain complexity in the talk, and therefore it is requested of the listener to go through the talk in totality and completeness.