The Qualities of a Brahmana

    śamo damas tapaḥ śaucaṁ
    kṣāntir ārjavam eva ca
    jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ
    brahma-karma svabhāva-jam
    (BG 18.42)

"Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, wisdom, knowledge and religiousness—these are the qualities by which the brāhmaṇas work."

Prabhupāda: So those who will act as brain, they must possess these qualities. But who is being taught of these qualities? This modern civilization is teaching people how to steal, how to cheat, how to satisfy your own sense gratification. You see? No tolerance, no complete knowledge. All fools and rascals; no knowledge. Knowledge means they must know what is the aim of life, what is God, what we are, what is this material world, why you have come here. So many things. This is called God consciousness. There is no such educational institution all over the world. Is there any institution where it is being especially taught what is God, what I am? Is there any institution?

Banker: Well, there are metaphysics departments in almost every university.

Prabhupāda: Metaphysics department is there. I was also a student of philosophy. That is theories only. Of course, they are trying, psychology, metaphysics, ethics. You were also a student of philosophy?

Banker: I took some courses. My major courses were in business. But I took some in philosophy... (indistinct)... ethics, logic.

Prabhupāda: So apart from that metaphysical, from this worldly platform, there must be divisions. Just like in your bank, if everyone is manager, that is not possible. There must be clerks and other assistants. So that is required. The society must be divided into four classes. That is brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra.

Banker: Well my question is, how does one determine into which part he goes?

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is by tendency. Guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ (BG 4.13). By the tendency. Therefore one has to approach the spiritual master. He will give direction that, "This boy is meant for becoming a brāhmaṇa." Everyone has got some tendency. From the tendency it should be designated. Or by work.

Indian lady: But in India it wasn't like that. Suppose if you are born into brāhmaṇa, fortunately, then you become brāhmaṇa.

Prabhupāda: No, no, that is not. No, no, no.

Indian lady: ... (indistinct)

Prabhupāda: No, that is not śāstra. That is a... lately, this brahminical class, they made it. Just like he is a manager in the bank. His son does not mean that he is also manager. He must be qualified to become a manager. He has got the facility. Because he is son of a bank manager, so he can get some facilities, father's training. He can quickly become a manager. Others may takes time. Similarly, a person born in brāhmaṇa family, if his father is actually brāhmaṇa, then automatically he is getting the brahminical training at home. This satya, śama, dama, titikṣā, ārjavam (BG 18.42), this qualification. Because naturally the children follow the father. So if the father is a real brāhmaṇa, then he naturally becomes. But if by chance he develops the śūdra quality, then he must be accepted as śūdra, not as a brāhmaṇa.

That is the śāstra. Yad anyatrāpi dṛśyeta tat tenaiva vinirdiśet (SB 7.11.35). If the qualities, brahminical qualities, are found somewhere else in śūdra or a vaiśya, then he should be accepted as brāhmaṇa. Similarly, if śūdra qualities are found in the son of a brāhmaṇa, he should be accepted as śūdra. It is the quality, not the birth. That is not a fact. They have made it now like that. Because without any qualification, if he can become a brāhmaṇa, why he should not take the advantage? That has fallen down the Vedic culture in India, when it came to the caste system. It is not the caste system by birth. In Bhagavad-gītā it is said, "By quality," guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ.

(aside:) Read that, cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ.

Devotee (2): Cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ (BG 4.13). Guṇa means quality, karma means to work.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Just like he is manager. He has got the qualification of manager and he is working as manager. Then he is a manager. Even if he has got the quality, if he does not work, he is not a manager. Suppose he has got the qualities, but he does not work, he sits at home. Nobody will call him bank manager. He must have the qualities and he must work. Then he is. So here is guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ. A brāhmaṇa or a kṣatriya or vaiśya or śūdra must have the requisite quality. And at the same time he must work as such. Then he is brāhmaṇa. This is the ... (indistinct) ... But now in India they have taken: no quality, no work, still, he is brāhmaṇa.

He is pulling on ṭhelā (hand cart), no brāhmaṇa quality, neither work is brāhmaṇa, but still, he is paṇḍitjī. I have seen it in Calcutta. One man was pulling on ṭhelā with great difficulty, and another man is offering respect, "Paṇḍitjī, namaskāra." And he was ... (Hindi: Bless you son.) He was pulling ṭhelā. I have seen it. I have seen it in the street. You see. He is still thinking that "I am brāhmaṇa." He is working like an ass. He has no qualification, neither he is qualified. Still, he is thinking that he is brāhmaṇa. Is it not? Yes.

That is the cause of India's falldown. You work... these things should be... I am accepting somebody as brāhmaṇa; then I must see that he has the quality of brāhmaṇa, that is there, satya, śama, dama, titikṣā, and he is working as a brāhmaṇa. When this was not examined, checked, anyone born in a brāhmaṇa family became a brāhmaṇa, the whole thing topsy-turvied. Just like my student here. He belongs to the kṣatriya family. But he is not in the fighting, military plan. So he is not kṣatriya. But he is now more than kṣatriya. He is worshiping God; therefore he is brāhmaṇa. He is neither kṣatriya nor śūdra. He is brāhmaṇa. His hereditary title is kṣatriya, kṣanna. Kṣat na, kṣat na. He cannot tolerate injury to others. That is kṣanna. Is it not?

Devotee (3): I think so.

Prabhupāda: (laughs) Kṣat means injury, and triya means one who delivers. Just like Parīkṣit Mahārāja immediately took his sword, "Oh, why you are injuring one cow in my kingdom?" The kṣatriya's business is to give protection to the citizen from being injured by others. That is called kṣatriya. Brāhmaṇa means whose knowledge is so perfect that he knows what is God. That is brāhmaṇa. And śūdra means one who laments. Śocati ti śūdra. Śocati.

Devotee: Na śocati na kāṅkṣati. Na śocati...

Prabhupāda: Śocati means in everything he laments. "Hai, hai, I have lost so much things. I have not these things, I have not that thing." So at the present moment, all the people, they are so dissatisfied that they are all śūdras. Śūdra is always in want. So who is not, at the present moment, not in want? Everybody's in want. Therefore everybody is a śūdra now. Kalau śūdra-sambhavaḥ. And that is his qualification, always feeling in want, śocati. And his work is to serve others, master. A brāhmaṇa will not work under anybody. A kṣatriya will not work under anybody. Nowadays the industrial development has taken place because people are śūdras. They want some service. So-called technologist and laborers and... everything. Everyone is searching after good job. He cannot live independently. Just like a dog. A dog cannot live independently. He must have a master. Then he is happy. Is it not? Otherwise it is street dog.

So modern education is that they are creating śūdras, to become dependent on others. And therefore modern economic development is taking place because there are so many people, they are prepared to give them service. Suppose in your bank, if you withdraw from the service, the bank will stop. Industry will stop. So because there is no such division as brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra—everyone is śūdra—therefore this economic development, so-called economic development, has become possible. But in spite of all this economic development, because people are śūdras, they cannot be happy. Because śocati, they will lament, strike. Even they are getting thousands of rupees—strike. Even they get five hundred thousands of rupees, still there will be strike. Because they are śūdras.

Devotee (3): Even the doctors are going on strike now.

Prabhupāda: Yes. They are śūdras. Therefore, because it is the society of śūdras everywhere, there is confusion. No brain. Simply śocati, "want, want, want, want, want." And in brahminical culture, you will find even he is very poor brāhmaṇa, no source of income, no fixation of foodstuff even, but he is happy. He is happy. He is happy by his knowledge. He'll satisfy himself. If he does not get his food, then he will think that, "This day Kṛṣṇa desired that I should not have my food. Oh, it is Kṛṣṇa's pleasure. It is Kṛṣṇa's mercy." Therefore in Vedic culture, other section, the kṣatriyas and the vaiśyas, they would call the brāhmaṇas to take food. Brāhmaṇa-bhojana. Because they know, "The brāhmaṇas, they will starve; still they will not ask anybody to give him food." Therefore brāhmaṇa-bhojana.

And now they have discovered daridra-nārāyaṇa-bhojana. There are so many things. Vedic culture is the perfect for human society. Perfect culture. And this is not bogus humbug, go into the darkness and do something nonsense. It is everything open, in the śāstra, in the book. You have to adopt it. Then you become happy. The whole society, the whole human society becomes happy, never mind where it is. It is science, how to live just like human being, not like cats and dogs. That is Vedic culture. Everyone is happy. Still, those who are following Vedic principle, they are happy than others. These Ārya-samājī, they say the Vedic culture, but they are not happy as the strictly followers of Vedic culture.

Devotee (3): There's a lot of politics in it.

Prabhupāda: Huh?

Devotee (3): I think there is a lot of politics in it. Different groups and everything.

Prabhupāda: Yes, yes. As soon as you go against the standard rules and regulation, there must be some motive. That is politics. That is politics. All politicians, they are with motive. They are not for... now, all these big, big political parties, they are fighting with one another. They are simply trying to keep their post and they are fighting for that. So where is the time for them to think of the general people, how they will be happy? There is no time. It is the Kṛṣṇa conscious people who are actually thinking of others. Para-duḥkha-duḥkhī. Kṛpāmbudhir yas tam ahaṁ bhajāmi (CC Madhya 6.254). Para-duḥkha-duḥkhī. Vaiṣṇava qualification is he is unhappy by seeing others unhappy.

Let us enlighten. Otherwise what is the use of working in this old age. Vaiṣṇava's qualification is, para-duḥkha-duḥkhī. He is unhappy by seeing others unhappy. Because without God consciousness, without understanding, "What I am? What is God? What is my relationship?" everyone shall remain unhappy. There cannot be happiness. Without knowledge of God, nobody can be happy. Superficially they may try, so-called humanitarianism, this "ism," that "ism." Now, say for these Communists country, they have struggled for the last sixty years. They started from 1917. How many years?

Devotee (3): Seventy.

Devotee (4): The Russian Revolution.

Prabhupāda: Seventy. Seventeen. Yes, no, we were student at that time. So what they have done? They are changing, changing, changing. And I went to Moscow, I saw the people were not happy. There are so many things that is against one's psychological understanding. So many things. Therefore now they are going to hold some peace conference. So without God consciousness, there cannot be any peace. That's a fact. Therefore our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is there.

(Srila Prabhupada Conversation with Banker, September 21, 1973, Bombay)

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