Daily Readings from the Works of Swami Venkatesananda

Song of God (Bhagavad Gita) Chapter 1: 40-42

January 12, 2019

™kulakṣaye praṇaśyanti kuladharmᾱḥ sanᾱtanᾱḥ
dharme naṣṭe kulaṁ kṛtsnam adharmo ’bhibhavaty uta (I-40)

™adharmᾱbhibhavᾱt kṛṣṇa praduṣyanti kulastriyaḥ
strīṣu duṣṭᾱsu vᾱrṣṇeya jᾱyate varṇasaṁkaraḥ (I-41)

™saṁkaro narakᾱyai ’va kulaghnᾱnᾱṁ kulasya ca
patanti pitaro hy eṣᾱṁ luptapiṇḍodakakriyᾱḥ (I-42)

™I/40-42. In the destruction of a family, the immemorial rites
of that family perish. On the destruction of spirituality, impiety
overcomes the whole family. By the prevalence of impiety,
O Krishna, the women of the family become corrupt. And,
with the women being corrupted there arises intermingling of
castes. Confusion of castes leads the slayers of the family to hell,
for their forefathers fall, deprived of the offerings of rice-balls
and libations.

Swamiji's Commentary

      This is an argument of sterling value and unassailable logic, though not in this context. As Aldous Huxley points out in his ‘Perennial Philosophy’, the chaos in the world of today is partly attributable to the collapse of the caste system. No one seems to know what is each one’s duty (which is one’s function in society), and when an inner conflict arises, different theorists, leaders and philosophers pull him in different directions. The poor man himself goes to the hospital with ‘tension’ and nervous breakdown.

     When knowledgeable persons in a society are either killed in war or lured away to other countries or avocations, the ‘spirit’ of the customs, traditions and rites is lost, leaving the dead carcass of a ritual to which the masses cling. When the spirit is lost, piety or righteousness is lost. The custodians of piety (our womenfolk) become corrupt and there is confusion of castes. No one has a clear idea of his duty, and consequently there is chaos.

     Though all are equal – socially, politically, economically and in the eyes of God – this does not mean that inter-racial or inter-caste marriage is the only or even the best way in which to demonstrate this equality. The history of mankind is the story of such inter- racial fusion, though its primary result may be confusion of duties and neglect of the cultures of both the parties. However, it leads to a re-awakening of the spirit, a re- assessment of cultural values and a new civilization. But, this natural process of blending should not be forced prematurely.

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