Vedas prescribe that all human beings should leave ignorance, get educated, select a profession for himself based on his "tatva" (basic traits) and education, take a vow to follow such a profession, and follow such a profession.
Vedas classifies all profession into three viz. "Knowledge based", "Justice / state administration based" and "finance / economics based". Though all professions include some or other aspect of knowledge, administration and economics but the key element in each profession can be acknowledged to anyone of the given three.
A follower of a "Knowledge based" profession is called a "Brahmin";
A follower of a "Justice / state administration based" profession is called a "Kshatriya";
and a follower of an "finance / economics based" profession is called a "Vaishya".
Anyone who is not following any profession is called a "Shudra".
These four classification of human beings are called the four "VARNAS".
However, the above are not strict rules but the core rules of classification. There can be many exceptions / inter changeover / etc in the Varnas of people. For example,
- A Shudra after he acquires requisite knowledge / experience and devotes himself to any profession acquires the status of a Brahman, Kshatriya or a Vaishya, as the case may be. No shastra prohibts any erson from gaining education or bhakti.
- One may at the beginning of the career be working as a manager in a commercial company. He is a Vaishya then. After years of experience he started teaching principles of management in colleges, then he becomes a Brahmin.
- A Brahmin's son / daughter would normally have more tendencies to indulge in knowledge based profession and hence become a Brahmin but he choose to go otherwise also. Similarily with others also.
All humans by birth are Shudra. At different stages of life, they complete their basic education, their basic traits identified, etc depending on which they take on some profession for themselves. At such a time, that person is called to taken a re-birth. That is why, Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vysyas are called DWIJ (twice born).
The system of VARNA (VARNA VYAVASTHA) has nothing to do with Caste System, which is not supported by Vedic Literature. It also has nothing to so with the system of using the surnames.
The Varna of a person is also often called, the Dharma of that person.
Manusmriti is an adulterated text. The original Manusmriti was against caste system but later shlokas were inserted during the dark era of history. The adulterated verses of Manusmriti are clear and obvious. Thanks to some dedicated people, who have done lots of work in this area. We will deal with this issue at an appropriate place in this website.
WHY VARNA VYVASTHA?
Many a times, we come on cross roads when it becomes difficult to decide what action to take and what not. That time it is best advised that we act according to our Dharma, because this is where one will be able to perform best.
Example:- The enemy country has attacked. The armymen (Kshatriya) are defending their posts, exchanging firing with the enemy on the other side. On the border they see some shepherds with cows, etc. Saving innocent animals is a noble deed. What should the Kshatriyas do? The answer is he should give priority to his Dharma and worry not to much about the killing of the innocent animals.
This subject has been dealt in great detail and depth in Bhagvad Geeta. Kindly refer.
Given below are some excerpts for the Vedas on the Varna Vyavastha.
Book - Chaturvarnya Sikhsha: http://www.new1.dli.ernet.in/scripts/FullindexDefault.htm?path1=/data4/upload/0105/709&first=1&last=539&barcode=99999990252905