Indian Ethics Varnashrama & The Concept of Shreyas And Preyas for Arunachal Pradesh PSC

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Varnashrama and Shreyas And Preyas

Varnashrama and Shreyas and Preyas

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Complete Video at - Indian Ethics: Varnashrama & The concept of Shreyas and Preyas (Philosophy)


  • Varnashrama is a fundamental concept of Hinduism.

  • Etymologically speaking Varna means colour or the social standings of the people of the society.

  • The concept of jati or sub-communities comes under the concept of varna or communities.

  • Hence, it can be said that varnashrama is the idealised four-part division of the society into

    • Brahmins

    • Kshatriyas

    • Vaishyas

    • Shudras

  • People belonging to these varnas are said to possess certain set of characteristics and perform their individual functions in accordance with dharma.

  • It is important to note that the first three varnas, i.e. Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaishyas are called the “twice-born,” meaning they are allowed to read or study the Vedas.

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Image of Varnashrama concept

Image of Varnashrama Concept

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  • Brahmins is the top most level of the Varnashrama system.

  • The people belonging to this varna perform the functions of learning and teaching.

  • In other words, their function is to learn the eternal knowledge of the Vedas and perform academic activities and sacrificial rituals.

  • The brahmins are said to be of sattvic nature.

  • They are pure, spiritual in nature and are said to be the society’s bank of knowledge and wisdom.

Image of Brahmins

Image of Brahmins

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  • Kshatriyas are regarded as the marital class.

  • They perform the actives of the military defence and also perform the administrative activities or functions of the people and the society.

  • They fight the battles against the intruders, rule over the people and defend them.

  • They are responsible for maintaining peace and order in the society.

  • Their nature is sattvic and rajastic.

  • They share the Brahminic privilege of reading the Vedas.

Image of Kshatriyas

Image of Kshatriyas

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III. Vaishyas

  • Vaishyas belong to the third varna, they are regarded as the productive class of the society.

  • Their functions include trading and business.

  • They also deal with the work of cultivation of land, growing of crops, breeding of cattle, etc.

  • They belong to the business class and deal with money.

  • They always hence generate wealth.

  • For them, artha is important.

  • They have rajastic and tamasic nature.

  • They share the Brahmanic privilege of reading the Vedas.

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Image of Vaishyas

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  • They are considered to belong to the lower most varna.

  • They are believed to serve the other classes.

  • They are the artisan class; they are also those who perform the occupations of agriculture and mining.

  • They are believed to be of tamasic nature.

  • In short, they are the serfs or labour class.

  • They do not share the Brahmanic privilege of reading the Vedas.

The Concept of Shreyas & Preyas

  • According to the Katha Upanishad, all the human endeavours or actions fall under the two categories of Sreyas and Preyas.

  • In other words, there is not a single aspect that lies outside these two.

  • According to Katha Upanishad II, “The Shreyas is one thing and the Preyas is another. These two have different purposes which binds a man. The Shreyas (good) and the Preyas (pleasant) will approach a man and only the wise will distinguish the difference between the two.”

Image of Human Action

Image of Human Action

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  • Preyas means pleasure.

  • It deals with the sense bound actions.

  • In other words, dealing with those actions which give us pleasure or are pleasant in nature.

  • Majority of mankind deals with such actions alone.

  • Preyas deals with pleasure or they are pleasure oriented. They are regarded as inferior in nature as they are directed towards the worldly outlook.


  • Shreyas on the other hand means what is good.

  • It deals with virtues and strengths.

  • It deals with the good and the right actions.

  • Shreyas deal with the spiritual outlook, so, they are considered to be superior in nature.

  • According to the scriptures, the wise men perform them, while the fool choose preyas over shreyas.