Varta – References In Ancient Bharatiya Scriptures

Varta was an important subject of knowledge in ancient Bharat, and it included aspects related to creating economic surpluses initially in agriculture, domestication of animals, commerce, and money lending. Later, it included sculpting and hastakalas (artisan and handicrafts).

Importance of Varta to society was emphasized in Ancient BharatThe subject concerned itself with productivity and economic value addition – specifically, it deals with how to do these works to create wealth and how to avoid the destruction of wealth. As the taxes for the ancient and medieval kingdoms came from these professions, the Bharatiya kings were required to compulsory study this subject.

Repeated references to Varta from Vedic agesNumerous ancient scriptures of Sanatana Bharat described Varta in different ways. The ancient Bharatiya texts treat Varta to be among the most significant duties for any king. Unfortunately, the contemporary people of Bharat have completely forgotten about this wonderful subject that elaborated upon key points pertinent to wealth and commerce. And, this write-up is going to focus on a few of those references to Varta seen in ancient Bharatiya scriptures.

Mention in Vedic texts is made about agriculture, animal husbandry, and trade.
The Ayodhya Kanda of the epic Ramayana elaborates on how paramount Varta is. Bhagwan Raama advises Bharatha to be fully informed about Varta, the three Vedas, and the Dandaniti. Bharatha is urged to pay special attention to the welfare of Vysyas who are involved in trade, agriculture, and animal husbandry. Bhagwan Raama opines that it’s the occupations of Vysyas that make sure that economic growth is possible in society.
In Mahabharata, Varta has been referred to as the ‘roof of the world’. Signifying the importance of this subject for keeping the civilization running – it is mentioned that till the rules of Varta are followed society will prosper. Sage Narada enquires with King Yudisthira if he is monitoring the status of Varta in his kingdom.
When Bhagavata Purana is taken into consideration, it is seen that Bhagwan Sri Krishna emphasizes the above-mentioned three professions of Varta. Bhagwan Sri Krishna included money lending as an essential occupation in Varta, too. Similarly, the Varta enumerated in Devi Bhagavata Purana covered craftsmanship under the main occupations.
In Shukra Neeti, it’s explained that an individual who is knowledgeable about Varta has no necessity to worry about earning money. The principles of Varta provide clear guidance, in this context. This Neeti categorically states that a ruler will be unable to provide good governance if they neglect Varta. This text adds that commerce, interest keeping, and aspects specific to profit and loss are pivotal elements of Varta.
In Arthashastra, Kautilya accorded such a prominent position to Varta that it was considered to be one of the four essential Vidyas. Trayi, Dandaneeti, and Aanvikshiki are the other three Vidyas. Even in this work, agriculture, animal breeding, and trade were considered to be the primary occupations to be taken up by Vysyas. Kautilya emphatically conveys that a state cannot expect to witness economic prosperity if it does not adhere to the principles enumerated in Varta.
The Jain kalpasutra has reference to Varta and specifically with Rishabdeva.
Bharatiya texts are clear that if the principles of Varta are followed – the society will flourish. If not, the society will decline.

Foreign rule – the disappearance of Varta from Bharatiya mindsIt is disturbing to note that Varta, which was such a relevant subject in ancient and medieval India, started losing its importance when foreign rule began in Bharat. The foreign conquerors slowly started destroying aspects of the rich economic heritage of Bharat. In this connection, maximum damage was done during the British regime.

It’s now high time that the modern-day citizens of Bharat are reminded of the uniqueness of Varta. Steps have to be initiated to restore it as a relevant subject worthy of being taught in educational institutions.

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