This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

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Four principal castes

The organization usually consisted of four broad “types,” known as the “principal” castes. These provided their respective types with protection, stability, and direction from birth to death. The structure was necessarily hierarchical, and this ordering was always based on logic and function. We can hold this in opposition to the modern social order which is based on purely economic factors, a situation which the traditional world found appalling and therefore took steps to prevent. It might be helpful here to imagine the four traditional castes in relation to the human body, as society was often envisaged in this way to illustrate its ordered unity. First there was the head, responsible for knowledge, occupied by the spiritual authority or the “priestly caste.” This sacred head was supported by warrior-nobility, pictured as the chest and arms, and symbolic of strength. These were responsible for both ruling and war. The legs, supportive and stabilizing, represented those who functioned in economic roles: the craftsmen and merchants. Lastly, there remain the “feet,” which are fundamental in importance and always in the most direct contact with the earth. This symbol represents those in society who contribute primarily their raw productive labor—for example, the subsistence farmer or the peasant. This superstructure, as offensive as it certainly sounds to modern ears, is a manifestation of justice. It was realized and respected in all of the highest traditional cultures, and clear examples of a corresponding caste philosophy can be found universally, from India to Japan to the Christian Middle Ages.

Because it is always helpful to adopt a specific terminology when discussing somewhat foreign concepts, we will adopt, from here on out, names given to the castes by Hindu tradition. We already enumerated them in a previous section, but he four principal castes (or varnas) are as follows: the Brahmins (priests); the Kshatriyas (warrior nobility); the Vaishyas (merchants and craftsmen); the Shudras (serfs, peasants, laborers).

Brahmins. The first caste is concerned with the protection and transmission of spiritual knowledge, which is the source and guide of all other forms of truth. The Brahmins are necessarily distanced from worldly matters, because the temporal realm involves application of doctrine, not doctrine purely speaking. The ruling of society, therefore, involves a “secondary” kind of knowledge which is of a lower order. The concerns of the priests are therefore knowledge and teaching of all other castes.

Kshatriyas. If the function of the priestly caste is knowledge, then the function of the Kshatriyas or “nobility” is power. Members of this class are those whose orientation is toward action and expansion—the realization of potentialities of the temporal order rather than supra-temporal as in the case of the priests. This is why the governing nobility is also tasked with war, and it is a strange situation indeed that rulers are no longer the ones who fight in battle. The path of the warrior is, in fact, the most desirable and fruitful discipline for men of this caste, allowing them their highest realization.

Vaishyas. Those in the Vaishya caste have aptitudes which are best suited to the economic order, such as the design and production of goods, the business of trade, and the art of banking. These are the guildsmen, merchants, and lower nobility. This is the caste which, in modern times, has come to rule, rendering the two superior castes virtually impotent.

Shudras. Shudras are laborers, serfs, or slaves, and are thus functionally subordinate to the Vaishyas.

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