There's an article in the Convivium magazine of Autumn 2003 by SM Jaiswal. It is about the concept of Sanatana Dharma, laws conceived 'by wise men on the pattern of the ever-present, eternal laws of nature'. The laws evolved in Ancient India 'for social co-operation, Man's equitable relation with the universe at large, and for the successful realisation of his own possibilities.' Jaiswal goes on to say that 'Sanatana Dharma proposes 4 types of people or caste:
Brahmana – the philosophical type
Kshatriya – the organising type
Vaishya – the enterprising type
This classification is based on the emotional, intellectual and physical talent which may predominate in the individual. The fourth is called
Shudra or one who has fallen from his duties by conscious rejection of the whole Sanatana Dharma. He is out of the law system.'
Jaiswal's use of language is interesting. He equates Brahmana with 'the philosophical type' which just happens to fit the people in the SES who call themselves 'philosophers'. Certainly 'philosophical type', 'organising type' and 'enterprising type' are not the terms used in the Laws of Manu and it seems a bit of a stretch from Manu's words to Jaiswal's.
This (below) is how it is put in the new translation of the Laws of Manu that the SES have undertaken. Note also that the printed copy of this 'new' translation does not provide the names of those involved in the translation, which would be unheard of in academic circles (and this ommission has nothing to do with 'ego', it is important to take both the credit and the responsibility for what you produce. I happened to be in the room at one of the Manu translation sessions at Mandeville Place library so I know there are at least half a dozen people involved in this translation.):
Page x of the Introduction:
"The four classes of society and the four stages of human life
With the aim of promoting stability and prosperity, society is arranged in four classes:
i) The Brahmana, the priest and teacher, performs sacrifices, and studies and transmits the teachings of the Veda.
ii) The Ksatriya, the warrior and ruler, governs and protects society.
iii) The Vaisya, the merchant and farmer, cultivatres the land and ensures the material welfare of society.
iv) The sudra, the labourer, offers service in support of all."
The translators also offer the following comment here: "A similar division of society is laid out by Plato in the Republic, and is also reflected in the feudal system of the Middle Ages, with the Priest, nobleman, townsman, and serf. Perhaps some such division is natural to all human societies."
Note the absence of a question mark here. This is not a question posed to others, it is a statement made by the translators who are clearly considering the obvious benefits of living in a society based upon such a system. One wonders if the translators would like to be 'serfs'?
Also to be clear what a 'serf' is, this is copied from thefreedictionary online:
1. A member of the lowest feudal class, attached to the land owned by a lord and required to perform labor in return for certain legal or customary rights.
2. An agricultural laborer under various similar systems, especially in 18th- and 19th-century Russia and eastern Europe.
3. A person in bondage or servitude."
Here is some information about Plato's Republic if anyone is interested: http://www.friesian.com/plato.htm.