SrI: SrImathE SatakOpAya nama: SrImathE rAmAnujAya nama: SrImath varavaramunayE nama:
SlOkam – Original
chAthurvarNyam mayA srushtam guNakarmavibhAgaSa: |
thasya karthAram api mAm vidhdhyakarthAram avyayam ||
word-by-word meaning (based on puththUr krishNamAchArya swAmy’s thamizh translation)
chAthur varNyam – all worlds which are presided by the four varNas (classes namely brAhmaNa, kshathriya, vaiSya and SUdhra)
mayA – by me who is the sarvESvara
guNa karma vibhAgaSa: – based on the classification on guNa (qualities) such as sathva, rajas and thamas and, based on the classification of karma (activities) such as Sama (control of mind) and dhama (control of senses)
srushtam – created;
thasya – for this amazing creation etc
karthAram api – though I am the creator
akarthAram – not being the creator for the variegated nature of creation (highs and lows) etc
(due to that)
avyayam – to be faultless
mAm – me
vidhdhi – know
Simple Translation (based on puththUr krishNamAchArya swAmy’s thamizh translation)
All worlds which are presided by the four varNas were created by me who is the sarvESvara, based on the classification of guNa (qualities) such as sathva, rajas and thamas and based on the classification of karma (activities) such as Sama (control of mind) and dhama (control of senses). Though I am the creator for this amazing creation etc., know me as not the creator for variegated nature (highs and lows) of creation etc and due to that, to be faultless.
A few points to add clarity:
- The context of this SlOka is not to explain the varNa division but is to establish that bhagavAn is unaffected by the variegated creation.
- Also, bhagavAn is explaining that the varNas are created based on guNa (qualities) and karma (activities). He is not saying that one can change their varNa based on their guNa and karma. As one takes birth in a family belonging to a particular varNa based on their previous karma [and not based on random choice], one needs to pursue the varNa of the family he was born in and execute the actions as per his varNa. This is explained clearly in gIthA itself from 1.39 to 1.44 and in 18.45 and 18.46 too.
- As the varNa is specific to body only and not for the soul, our preceptors never attempted to change varNa. Instead they developed real devotion towards bhagavAn and focussed on eternal service to him.
Rendering based on ALkoNdavilli gOvindhAchArya swAmy’s English translation of gIthA bhAshyam
‘The fourfold varṇa1 (class or caste) was created by Me according to dispositions (guṇa), and occupations (karma). Though I am its Creator, know Me to be the Imperishable Non-creator.’
The whole Universe, from the (four-faced) Brahmā down to the blade of grass, is divided by Me into the four-fold classification, in conformity with the dispositions, or qualities, viz, satva2 etc., and in conformity with the occupations3 (or communal division of labour), suited to the qualities that the several classes possess; for example: the practice of the śama quality, (or restraint of the desires etc., by the brāhmaṇa). ‘Creation’ (sṛishti) implies the other conditions of the Universe, viz; that of sustentation (for a period) and disappearance, —all which, I do.
Though I am the Author of these several acts, creation etc., know Me yet to be No-author.
How (Author and yet No-author)? It is explained:—
archived in http://githa.koyil.org
- The four varṇas are Brāhmaṇa, Kshatriya, Vaiśya and Śūdra. The four aśramas are Brahmacharya (bachelor and student), Gārhastya (married life), Vānaprastha (retired forest life) and Sanyāsa (monastic or ascetic life). ↩
- ‘Tamas śūdre, rajaḥ kshatre, brāhmaṇe satvam-uttamam’. i.e., tamas-quality in the Śūdra-class, rajas-quality in the kshatriya-class, and satva-quality in the brāhmaṇa-class. (Tātparya-chandrika). ↩
- As described in Gi XXIII-41. ‘Brāhmaṇa kshatriya viśām’ etc. ↩