Critics of varna dharma will perhaps argue thus: "Let the pronouncements of the Vedas and of Krsna be whatever on the subject of jati dharma. We do not accept them because they represent a partisan view. We must devise a system in which vocations are determined according to one's guna or quality and mental proclivity and not according to birth. Caste systems must be done away with."
What is the relationship between a man's vocation on the one hand and his guna - his character and natural inclination - on the other? If you pause to think about the question, you will realise that this relationship is highly exaggerated these days. Everybody suffers from the sense of self-importance and want a great measure of freedom for himself in all things. That is the reason why people insist that their feelings and thoughts must be respected. They do not pause for a moment to consider whether such feelings are helpful to society, whether they are good or harmful for it. And if they are harmful, should they not be checked for the sake of the community? Freedom is demanded for everything without such questions being taken into consideration.
If we examine how far the natural inclination and character of a man have to do with the work he likes to do, we will discover that in 90 out of 100 cases there is no connection at all between the two. A person of vairagya (that is one who is detached and without any passion ) would not like to stick to any job. Another who is full of energy and enthusiasm and who does his work after careful planning would be averse to any job of a routine nature. Some are keen to join army and some the navy and, in contrast, there are some others who would turn their face against either even if compelled to do so. Those with a flair for writing, music or painting would discountenance any type of drab work.
But how many get the job for which they think that they are fitted and for which they have a natural aptitude? Not even 10 per cent.
All sorts of people come to the Matha to see me. They pay their respects and tell me about what they want to do in life. I gather the impression that most of them are in jobs that are not in keeping with their interests or aptitude. A father comes and tells me: "My son has applied for admission to the engineering college as well as to the commerce college. If he fails to get admission to the first he will join the second. If he join the engineering college there is nothing like that. I seek your blessings." Is there any connection between the job of an engineer and that of a commerce graduate? Even so the boy in question is prepared to the work of an engineer (like surveying) or of a commerce graduate (like auditing). A young man tells me: "I have passed myIntermediate" I am not sure whether I should join the medical college or prepare for the IAS examination. " Again what is the connection between the work of a doctor and that of a collector perhaps? If one's profession is based on one's qualities, how is it that a young man who wants to become a doctor also contemplates a career in the IAS?
What would you say of a lawyer or an industrialist joining a political party and eventually becoming a minister? Among ministers today we see not only lawyers and industrialists but also ex-officials, doctors, professors, and so on. Are the qualities required for a minister the same as those required for a doctor, lawyer or professor?
There being no compatibility between a man's job and his qualities and natural inclination is a phenomenon not confined to the "higher" levels. Sometimes a devotee comes and tell me: "I was a counter clerk in a cinema. Now I have joined in the army. Please bless me". Another says: "I was a waiter in a restaurant but now I manage a Kiosk." What is the connection between the job of a cinema assistant and a soldier or between that of a waiter and that of a wayside shopkeeper?
Today the government professes to be "socialistic". Its view is that appointments are to be made not on the basis of caste but on the basis of character and educational qualifications of the candidates. But when it conducts examinations for big positions some are selected for IAS and some for IPS from the same group of candidates. Now from the point of view of natural inclination what is the relation, say, between a collector and a police superintendent? So long as no technical work is involved, employees of one department are transferred to another where the work is entirely different. In these instances there is nothing to support the theory of quality and mental proclivity in the allotment of work.
The majority of people do not choose their jobs according to their inborn character. They somehow learn to adjust themselves to their work whatever it happens to be. On the whole there is competition for such jobs are very paying. To talk of inborn nature, quality or mental outlook is all bunkum. Would it not be ridiculous if "svadharma" comes to mean the job or vocation that brings the maximum money for the minimum of work?
For a general background, please see here