Written by Sri Swami Chandrashekarendra
When there are so many jatis and each lives separately from the rest,
how can the community remain united as a whole? But the fact is unity
did exist in the past. Indeed it is now that our society is divided
of ill-will among the various groups. The binding factor in the past was
faith in our religion and its scriptures. The temple strengthened this
and the sense of unity, the temple which belongs to the whole village or
town and which is situated at its centre. People had the feeling of
togetherness in the presence of Isvara as his children. In festival all
took part contributing to their success in various ways.
In the rathotsava (car festival) of a temple, all sections including
pulled the chariot together. On returning home they did not bathe before
eating. This practice has the sanction of the sastras. [Talking of the
was a time when people were divided in their callings but were of one
heart. Though stories are concocted that there was no unity since
was divided into a number of jatis, the fact is people then had faith in
sastras and in the temples and this faith was a great unifying force.
Today, ironically enough, hatred and enmity are spread between the
various jatis in the name of unity. That is the reason why nowadays the
cry against the caste has become a cry against the vedic dharma and
The vedas themselves proclaim that when a man attains to the highest
state [that is jnana] he does not need either the Vedas themselves or
temples. The Upanisads too have it that in the state of jnana or supreme
awareness the Vedas are not Vedas, the Brahmin is not a Brahmin, the
untouchable is not an untouchable. It is to reach this state - the state
which the Vedas and all the differences in society cease to be- that you
need the very Vedas, temples and caste differences. The condition of
utter non-difference, may it be noted, is realised through these very
He who constantly strives to be free from worldly existence ultimately
discovers that everything is one, so proclaim the Vedas. Krsna
Paramatman pronounces the same truth when he says that in the end
there is worklessness -"Tasya karyam na vidyate".
In the phenomenal world with its works and day-to-day affairs, it does
not make sense to claim that there are no differences. The sastras,
however, teach us that even in such a world we must be filled with love
for all castes, for all creatures and we must look upon all as the same
without regarding one as inferior to the rest or superior. It means the
attitude of non-difference is in love, not in karma. "We must always
inwardly that all are one and we must be permeated with love for all.
in karma, in action there must be differences," such is the teaching of
"Bhavadvaitam sada kuryat, kriyadvaitam na karayet", so it is said.
Oneness must be a matter of our feelings, not our actions. Unless
differences are maintained outwardly the affairs of the world will be
conducted neither in a disciplined nor in a proper manner. It is only
that Atmic inquiry can be practised without confusion and without being
mentally agitated, In sanatana dharma worldly life has been systemised
as though it were real for the very purpose of its being recognised and
experienced as unreal.
In this worldly life, the four varnas developed branches and many jatis
came into being. From the saptasvaras (the seven notes) are formed the
72 melakarta ragas. And from them have developed countless musical
modes called janya ragas. In the same way, from the four varnas the
numerous jatis were born. Separate dharmas separate customs and rites,
evolved for these jatis.