Question: Class by Birth?
While reading the book title "Science of Self Realization" written by Srila Prabhupada, I have been pondering about these two questions. Can you please answer them and remove my ignorance?
1. It is said that a human being (due to his consciousness) takes his next body according to his thoughts at the time of dying. It is also said that animals do not have developed consciousness hence goats can still keep eating while other goats are killed before them. So, if animals do not have developed consciousness what decides the next body acquired by them?
2. Regarding the varnashram system, it was said that a person falls in a particular class of society as a brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya, or sudra due to his qualities and work and not due to his birth in a particular class. But in all the scriptures like Ramayana and Mahabharata we read stories that a person is considered to belong to particular class due to his birth. In Vedic times are children born in particular class forced to following their birth dharma or allowed to choose their own dharma? If so, can you please give some example where a person born in one class has chosen different dharma than their parents? Is it practical to follow varnashram dharma in today's world?
Answer: No. Class According to One's Qualities.
The animals naturally progress birth and birth through various animal births until they reach the human form at which time that soul has the opportunity to escape the cycle of birth and death by surrendering himself fully unto the Lord.
Although in the Vedic times a soul would generally take birth from parents of the same varna as his own nature, in many cases it was not so. Just like in the Jabala Upanisad there is the history of a boy named Satyakama-jabala who approached Gautama Muni for becoming his disciple. The muni asked the boy what was his caste because in the Vedic times nobody could be accepted as a disciple unless he was born in a high class family as a brahmana, ksatriya, or a vaisya--especially brahmana. When he was asked, "Which family you belong to?" he said, "I do not know what is my classification." Gautama Muni asked "Who is your father?", and the boy could only say, "I do not know." So the sage told him, " Go ask your mother." Then he went to his mother and inquired, "Who is my father?" She said, "My dear boy, I do not know." His mother was a prostitute who engaged in sex with so many men. So by whom she was pregnant she could not remember. Just as his mother told the truth, Satyakama went to Gautama Muni and also told the truth, "Sir, my mother does not know who is my father." "Oh, that's all right." Gautama Muni replied, "You are a brahmana because you are truthful. You do not hide that you are a prostitute's son. You are plainly speaking that your mother does not know who is your father." So because he exemplified the brahminical quality of honesty Gautama Muni said, "Yes, I'll accept you as my disciple."
So even though the varna of one's parents has an influence on one's own varna, it is definitely not the deciding factor. What nature and activities one manifests are the real deciding factors for determining one's varna, or position with the social strata.
In order to bring happiness to the human society it is essential that everyone be engaged in earning their livelihood in a manner which is compatible with their nature. In the present social system so many people are miserable because they are forced by circumstances to earn their livelihoods in ways that are not compatible with their natures. In other words, instead of loving their jobs, they hate their jobs. In a varnashram society everyone has a job which they love.