1. Structure of Varna and Jati & differences:
Varna can be translated from Sanskrit and means colour. It is one of the four Aryan classes of society in
the 1500-200 B.C.E . Varna refers to symbolizing colour as the basis of determining the hierarchy of the
classes. The Brahmans and Brahmins are the priests and the religious elite who are considered pure and light. The
Brahman teach the veda, which means wisdom. The next important individuals down from the highest social
hierarchy are the Kshatriyas whom are kings, nobles, military men and political elite. Their duty is to protect the
people with their arms. These two varnas are considered the purest. The next class are the Vaisya, they are the
merchants who sell items and tend cattle. The Shudras are the labourers, ,farmers, commoners and peasants who
work for the upper classes. The untouchables are considered impure. The first three are considered the lighter
people and therefore come first on the social system and then the darker people become the labourers.
The first three classes were also called twice-born classes as they had the right to obtain an initiation into the life
of a Brahmin through an initiation ceremony involving a sacred thread.
The Jati system is determined by birth. The term Jati is related to the idea of the lineage or kinship group. Under
the Jati system, a person is born into a Jati with ascribed social roles and endogamy, i.e. marriages take place
only within that Jati. Jati refers to a system of class that involves all living things, such as, humans, animals,
insects, and plants. Karma means by your actions, and they believe that. People were born into a class
because of deeds (karma) done in their previous lives. A member from a higher class cannot perform the same
rituals as a member from a lower class and vice versa. The Jati system is radically different from the Varna system.
A jati is indentified in a local setting by whom its members will accept food and water and which Jatis will serve
them. However, the jati moves up the social scale as a group. A jati can improve their position in the class
system by advancing economically and by creating a pure, legendary origin.
The differences between the two systems of classification are that the Varnas, provide a more stable model for
a stratified social order in which each group is clearly defined. The traditional view is that the jatis represent
a proliferation of social groups from the varna system. Jati indicated a mere specialisation in a particular art, craft or
profession. The relationship between the varnas and jatis is complex. Some beliefs are that the varnas evolved into
the jatis. Major factors of the Caste system were: Endogamy: One could only marry within their caste
gotras. Commensality: One could not eat with a member of a higher or lower class.
2. (ALL IMP!) Indra and Agni Characteristics and Functions in Vedic religion:
In Vedic religion, which was brought about by the Invading Aryans, Indra was the God of the Atmosphere. His
human counterpart is Khsatriya. He is described in the Rig Veda as a warrior chieftain with a thunderbolt for a
weapon like the Greek god, Zeus. He is accompanied by a band of young warriors called the Maruts, who hold
lightning as their spear and are the gods of the thunderstorm.
Indra, is the warrior king, empowered by soma, who destroys obstacles with his thunderbolt group. His most
famous myth is the destruction of the snake Vrtra (obstacle) symbolizing cosmic chaos, thus freeing waters from the
sky. Indra on his adventures, which seem to reflect the warrior ethos of Vedic society: Indra captures the cows as
the Aryan warriors would have gone on cattle raids to neighboring groups. After Indra defeats Vrtra in battle, the
waters are released, the sun shines once more and Vrtras cattle are liberated.
Indra also engaged in battle with Dasas.
Agni means fire. The fire god. He is the sun in the sky and the lightning. He is associated with the Earth and his
human counterpart is Brahmin (priest). Agni is one of the two most significant devas (god) placed on Earth. The
Brahmins form his human counterpart and they offer sacrifices to him, he says: I give to you; you to me. As the
mouth of the Gods, he devours the offerings and as a priest, he brings back the gods to share the sacrificial feast.
Agni is particularly the sacrificial fire and he transports the dead to the realm of Yama, the lord of death, and
transports, and purifies all offerings to the realm of gods. The mythology of Agni plays on the idea of fire being
hidden within the world and awakened by the fuel-stick, which kindle him.
3) Chandogya Upanishad, Uddalaka Aruni, the father uses symbols to teach his son, Shvetaketu:
Upandishads literally means to sit down near to. Atman refers to the soul (individual soul as a part of
Shvetaketu, the grandson of aruna and the son of uddalaka aruni, was sent to gurukul forest ashrama
of a guru in ancient India) to study Vedas.
- The father told his son about the unifying principle of all the knowledge his son has acquired, the metaphysical
side of unity in diversity, the one substratum lying hidden within every name and form. He further adds
about all pervading Self or Atman as the basic Reality of every being and he does that by using different
analogies. For instance, as the bees, make honey by collecting the pollen from different flowers and trees. The
bees bring all the different pollen from distinct locations and form it into one substance: honey. In
addition, it is similar to the reference of the rivers that run toward the east (i.e. the ganga), and the western (i.e. the
sindhu). The river becomes one with the sea and has no distinction even though it can from another
location. It is like a droplet of water that falls from the sky, when it falls into the ocean, you can no
longer see it and it becomes apart of the large vast ocean. With both references of the examples, they both
are similar metaphorically to the the individual soul (Atman) is one with Sat (the ultimate reality or ground of
being or totality of the cosmos), but does not realize this due to ignorance. Jas individual rivers or pollen
become one with the ocean or the honey and lose their individuality, individual souls are made of the same
substance as Sat (Being) and eventually become one with Sat. Once more, Uddalaka repeats, That is
Atman. That art thou, Shvetaketu or in other words, Shvetaketus soul was also a part of the totality
of Sat. 2
The atman is the basic reality of every being and is presumed to have evolved as this universe. The
Atman transcends all the worlds. It is uncontaminated. He who is aware of only the Atman is ever in
Bliss. Therefore by adopting the right method and means of knowledge one can know the essence of
Atman everywhere in this universe; and ``Thou Art That Atman`` (*THIS QUOTE IS IMPORTANT!*).
Shvetashvatara Upanishad the One God who rules over the perishable and the self (JIVATMAN) and who is identified with
- The One God in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad who ruled over the perishable and the Jivatman, who is identified
with Brahman is Shiva or his Vedic counterpart Rudra
- There are several methods used to identify Brahman or Shiva in the Shvetashvatara Upanishad. A question
method is used to ask: What is the cause of the cosmos? What is the ground of being? Is it the female
womb (yoni)? Or is it the Male Person (Purusha or Lingam/phallus)?
- According to the Upanishad, the cosmos is created by the union of the male (spiritual) and female
(material) principles (Shiva and his consort Shakti/Devi). Even in the Indus Valley civilization, Shiva
was symbolized by an erect phallus (lingam) with a base in the yoni to show the union between male
and female principles.
- However, while Shiva was initially just one god among many, the Shvetashvatara Upanishad identifies
him as the First Cause and the efficient cause who emanates, sustains and reabsorbs the universe into
his own substance.
- He rules over the perishable and the imperishable (the Self or Individual soul called Jivatman). He is a
personal god who transcends the finite and infinite. However, even though Shiva lives within ones innermost
soul, he is not identical with it, unlike the Atman=Brahman synthesis in Chandogya and Brihadaranyaka Upanishads.
- The main goal of the SU is for the Jivatman to gain moksha (liberation) from