VarNa and colour

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann reimann at
Sat May 17 01:01:31 UTC 1997

At 12:00 PM 5/15/97 BST, Mikael Aktor wrote:
>Indeed it seems to be correct that the straightforward relation between
>varNas (B, K, V, Z) and colours (white, red, yelow, black) is more part of a
>popular tradition than it is warranted by ancient and classical texts. But
>there is a tendency among scholars to reiterate this tradition _as if_ it
>were a textual one.

The texts usually identify the four yugas with the four colors, and as the
varnas are sometimes associated to the yugas, the relation is probably
indirect.  It is a symbolical correspondence that is frequently applied to
sets of four.

According to the Mbh, the color of Narayana/Visnu/Krsna throughout the yugas
is white, red, yellow and black (Mbh 3.148.16,23,26,33); but soon after it
is said to be white, yellow, red and black (Mbh 3.187.31).

Luis Gonzalez-Reimann
University of California, Berkeley

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list