Mahabharata Santi Parva - Translation by KM Ganguly

Mahabharata Adiparva


"Bhrigu said, 'Brahman first created a few Brahmanas who came to be called Prajapatis (lords of creation). Possessed of splendour equal to that of the fire or the Sun, they were created out of the energy of that First-born Being. The puissant Lord then created Truth, Duty, Penance, the eternal Vedas, all kinds of pious acts, and Purity, for enabling creatures to attain to heaven (by practising them). After this, the Deities and the Danavas, the Gandharvas, the Daityas, the Asuras, the great snakes, the Yakshas, the Rakshasas, the Serpents, the Pisachas, and human beings with their four divisions, viz., Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras, O best of regenerate ones, and all the other orders of creatures that exist, were created. The complexion the Brahmanas obtained was white; that which the Kshatriyas obtained was red; that which the Vaisyas got was yellow; and that which was given to the Sudras was black.'

"Bharadwaja said, 'If the distinction between the four orders (of human beings) be made by means only of colour (attribute), then it seems that all the four orders have been mingled together.  Lust, wrath, fear, cupidity, grief, anxiety, hunger, toil, possess and prevail over all men. How can men be distinguished by the possession of attributes? The bodies of all men emit sweat, urine, faeces, phlegm, bile, and blood. How then can men be distributed

into classes? Of mobile objects the number is infinite; the species also of immobile objects are innumerable. How, then, can objects of such very great diversity be distributed into classes?'

"Bhrigu said, 'There is really no distinction between the different orders. The whole world at first consisted of Brahmanas. Created (equal) by Brahman, men have, in consequence of their acts, become distributed into different orders. They that became fond of indulging in desire and enjoying pleasures, possessed of the attributes of severity and wrath, endued with courage, and unmindful of the duties of piety and worship,--these Brahmanas possessing the attribute of Passion,--became Kshatriyas. Those Brahmanas again who, without attending to the duties laid down for them, became possessed of both the attributes of Goodness and Passion, and took to the professions of cattle-rearing and agriculture, became Vaisyas. Those Brahmanas again that became fond of untruth and injuring other creatures, possessed of cupidity,--engaged in all kinds of acts for a living, and fallen away from purity of behaviour, and thus wedded to the attribute of Darkness, became Sudras. Separated by these occupations, Brahmanas, falling away from their own order, became members of the other three orders. All the four orders, therefore, have always the right to the performance of all pious duties and of sacrifices. Even thus were the four orders at first created equal by Brahman who ordained for all of them (the observances disclosed in) the words of Brahma (in the Vedas). Through cupidity alone, many fell away, and became possessed by ignorance. The Brahmanas are always devoted to the scriptures on Brahma; and mindful of vows and restraints, are capable of grasping the conception of Brahma. Their penances therefore, never go for nothing. They amongst them are not Brahmanas that are incapable of understanding that every created thing is Supreme Brahma. These, falling away, became members of diverse (inferior) orders. Losing the light of knowledge, and betaking themselves to an unrestrained course of conduct, they take birth as Pisachas and Rakshasas and Pretas and as individuals of diverse Mleccha species. The great Rishis who at the beginning sprang into life (through Brahman's Will) subsequently created, by means of their penances, men devoted to the duties ordained for them and attached to the rites laid down in the Eternal Vedas. That other Creation, however, which is eternal and undecaying, which is based upon Brahma and has sprung from the Primeval God, and which has its refuge upon yoga, is a mental one.'"