ब्राह्मणक्षत्रियविशां शूद्राणां च परन्तप | कर्माणि प्रविभक्तानि स्वभावप्रभवैर्गुणैः ||१८-४१||
brāhmaṇakṣatriyaviśāṃ śūdrāṇāṃ ca parantapa . karmāṇi pravibhaktāni svabhāvaprabhavairguṇaiḥ ||18-41||
18.41. The duties of the Brahmanas, the Ksatriyas, the Vaisyas, and of the Sudras are properly classified according to the Strands which are the sources of their nature, O scorcher of foes !
Shri Purohit Swami
18.41 O Arjuna! The duties of spiritual teachers, the soldiers, the traders and the servants have all been fixed according to the dominant Quality in their nature.
Sri Abhinav Gupta
18.41 See Comment under 18.60
18.41 The nature of Brahmanas, Ksatriyas, Vaisyas, and Sudras are due to their respective inherent dispositions. The meaning is that their past Karma has been the cause of determining births as Brahmanas etc. The Sattva and other Gunas are the result of such Karma. The Sattva-guna is born from the inherent nature of the Brahmana becoming dominant by suppressing the alities of Rajas and Tamas. The ality of Rajas originates from the inherent nature of the Ksatriyas becoming dominant by suppressing alities of Sattva and Tamas. Tamoguna arises from the inherent nature of the Vaisya, becoming dominant in a little way by suppressing Sattva and Rajas. The duties and works assigned to them according to the Gunas constituting their inherent nature, are expounded and allotted by the Sastras in the order described. For the Sastras analyse that the Brahmanas etc., possess such and such attributes and such and such are their duties and occupations.
18.41 Parantapa, O scorcher of enemies; karmani, the duties; brahmana-ksatriya-visam, of the Brahmanas, the Ksatriyas and the Vaisyas; ca, as also; sudranam, of the Surdras-the Sudras have not been included with the others (in the compund word) because, owing to their having a single birth, [Sudras have no right to be invested with the sacred thread which, in the case of the other three castes, symbolizes a second birth.] they have no right to (the study of) the Vedas; pravibhaktani, have been fully classified, have been prescribed by making distinctions among them;-according to what?-gunahi, according to the gunas; svabhava-prabhavaih, born from Nature. Nature means the Praktrti of God, His Maya consisting of the three gunas. ‘Born from Nature’ means ‘born of these three gunas. In accordnace with these the duties such as control of the internal organs, etc. of the Brahmanas and others have been classified. Or (the meaning is): The source of the nature of the Brahmanas is the ality of sattva. Similarly, the source of the nature of the Ksatriyas is rajas, with sattva as a subordinate (ality); the source of the nature of the Vaisyas is rajas, with tamas as the subordinate (ality); the source of the nature of the Sudras is tamas, with rajas as the subordinate (ality); for the natures of the four are seen to be tranillity. lordliness, industriousness and dullness respectively. Or, svabhava (nature) means the (individual) tendencies of creatures earned in their past lives, which have become manifest in the present life for yielding their own results. The gunas which have that svabhava as their source (prabhava) are svabhava-prabhavah gunah. Since the manifestation of the gunas cannot logically be uncaused, therefore a specific cause [i.e. the tendencies are the efficient cause, and Nature is the material cause.] has been posited by saying that Nature is the cause. Thus, the duties such as control of the internal organs etc. have been classified in keeping with the effects of the gunas, sattva, rajas and tamas, which are born of Nature, born of Prakrti. Objection: Well, are not the duties like controlling the internal organs etc. of the Brahmanas and others classified and enjoined by the scriptures? Why is it said that they are classified according to the gunas sattva etc.? Reply: This objection is not valid. For, the duties like controlling the internal organs etc. of the Brahmanas and others have been classified even by the scriptures verily in keeping with the specific alities sattva etc.; certainly, not without reference to the gunas. Hence, though the duties have been divided by the scriputres, they are said to have been classified according to the gunas. Which, again, are those duties? They are being spoken of:
18.41 The duties of the Brahmanas, Ksatriyas, Vaisyas and the Sudras are clearly divided, O Arjuna, according to Gunas, born of their nature.
18.41 O scorcher of enemies, the duties of the Brahmanas, the Ksatriyas and the Vaisyas, as also of the Sudras have been fully classified according to the gunas born from Nature.
18.41 Of Brahmanas, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas, as also of Sudras, O Arjuna, the duties are distributed according to the alities born of their own nature.
18.41 ब्राह्मणक्षत्रियविशाम् of Brahmanas? Kshatriyas and Vaisyas? शूद्राणाम् of Sudras? च as also? परंतप O Parantapa? कर्माणि duties? प्रविभक्तानि are distributed? स्वभावप्रभवैः born of their own nature? गुणैः by alities.Commentary Brahmanas? Kshatriyas and Vaisyas are alified to practise the Vedic rites. The members of the fourth class? O Arjuna? have no claim to these rites? for their profession is to serve the members of the first three. They are not allowed to study the Vedas or perform Yajnas. There is organisation of mankind into the four castes and each mans life is divided into four stages? according to the nature of the Gunas and the degree of the growth or evolution. I will now explain the specific duties of these castes according to the alities by means of which? freeing themselves from the grip of birth and death? they can attain Selfrealisation or knowledge of the Self. Passion (Rajas) slightly mingled with Tamas causes the growth of the merchant caste (the Vaisya). Rajas mixed with Tamas is the cause of the appearance of the Sudra.The one human race has been divided into four castes based upon the three alities. The duties are allotted to each according to the alities born of Nature.Nature (Svabhava) is Isvaras Prakriti (Maya) constituted of the three alities – Sattva? Rajas and Tamas.The Brahmanas nature is Sattva. So he is serene. The nature of the Kshatriya is Rajas and Sattva. Sattva in his case is subordinate to Rajas. Rajas predominates. Therefore he possesses lordliness. The nature of the Vaisya is Rajas and Tamas. Tamas is subordinate to Rajas. So he does various sorts of activities or business to earn money. The nature of the Sudra is Tamas? with subordinate Rajas. He is dull.Karma is action arising from and fashioned by past thoughts and desires. The Gunas cannot manifest themselves without a cause. Nature is the tendency? Samskara or Vasana in living beings. This is acired by them in the past births. This manifests itself in the present birth and produces its effects. This nature is the source of the Gunas. Every man or woman is born with his or her own Svabhava (nature). The Gunas operate according to the respective natural tendencies of man which impel him to perform his own duties as their natural effects. The duties are allottted to the four classes or castes in accordance with the Gunas of individuals. (Cf.IV.13)