Understanding Varnasrama-dharma
(Top left: brahmana. Top right: ksatriya. Lower left: vaisya. Lower right: sudra. Center: Krishna)

Prabhupāda: So we are stressing on the point of education. You educate certain section as brāhmaṇa, certain section as kṣatriya, certain section as vaiśya. In that education we don't discriminate because he's coming of a śūdra family. Take education; be qualified. Then you talk. Not by votes.

Devotee: Lord Caitanya, when Rāmānanda Rāya brought this up, He said it was not possible in this age to introduce this.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Not... He did not say possible. Ihā bāhya. Caitanya Mahāprabhu was interested only on the spiritual platform. He had no idea of material side. He rejected material side.

Devotee: But don't we do that also?

Prabhupāda: No. Our position is different. We are trying to implement Kṛṣṇa consciousness in everything. And Caitanya Mahāprabhu personally took sannyāsa. He rejected completely material. Niṣkiñcana. But we are not going to be niṣkiñcana. We are trying to cement the troubled position of the... That is also in the prescription of Bhagavad-gītā. We are not rejecting the whole society. Caitanya Mahāprabhu rejected everything, ihā bāhya. Rejected meaning, "I do not take much interest in this." Bāhya. "It is external." He was simply interested in the internal, the spiritual. But our duty is that we shall arrange the external affairs all so nicely that one day they will come to the spiritual platform very easily, paving the way. And Caitanya Mahāprabhu, personality like that, they have nothing to do with this material world. But we are preaching. We are preaching. Therefore we must pave the situation in such a way that gradually they will be promoted to the spiritual plane, which is not required.

Devotee: Varṇāśrama is not required.

Prabhupāda: Not required. Caitanya Mahāprabhu denied, "I am not brāhmaṇa, I am not kṣatriya, I am not this, I am not this." He rejected. But in the Bhagavad-gītā, the cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭam (BG 4.13). So we are Kṛṣṇa..., preaching Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It must be done.

Devotee(2): But in Caitanya Mahāprabhu's practical preaching He only induced them to chant.

Prabhupāda: That is not possible for ordinary man.

Devotee(2): What, to simply induce people to chant?

Prabhupāda: Hmm?

Devotee(2): He only introduced just the chanting.

Prabhupāda: But who will chant? Who'll chant?

Devotee: But if they won't chant, then neither will they train up in the varṇāśrama. That's the easiest.

Prabhupāda: The chanting will be there, but you cannot expect that people will chant like Caitanya Mahāprabhu. They cannot even chant sixteen rounds—(laughs) these rascals, they are going to be Caitanya Mahāprabhu.

Devotee: No. But if they at least will chant and take some prasāda...

Prabhupāda: Chanting will go on. That is not stopped. But at the same time the varṇāśrama-dharma must be established to make the way easy.

Devotee(2): Well, at least my own understanding was that the chanting was introduced in the age of Kali because varṇāśrama is not possible.

Prabhupāda: Because it will cleanse the mind. Chanting will not stop.

Devotee(2): So therefore the chanting was introduced to replace all of the systems of varṇāśrama and like that.

Prabhupāda: Yes, it can replace, but who is going to replace it? The... People are not so advanced. If you imitate Haridāsa Ṭhākura to chant, it is not possible.

Devotee: We tell them, "Go on with your job, but chant also."

Prabhupāda: Yes. Thākaha āpanāra kāje, Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura. Āpanāra kāja ki. Caitanya Mahāprabhu recommended, sthāne sthitaḥ (SB 10.14.3). And if they do not remain in the sthāna (their material position), then the sahajiyā's chanting will come. Just like the sahajiyās also have got the beads and..., but they have got three dozen women. This kind of chanting will go on. Just like our (indistinct). He was not fit for sannyāsa, but he was given sannyāsa. And five women he was attached, and he disclosed. Therefore varṇāśrama-dharma is required. Simply show-bottle will not do. So the varṇāśrama-dharma should be introduced all over the world, and...

Devotee: Introduced starting with ISKCON community?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Yes. Brāhmaṇa, kṣatriyas. There must be regular education.

Devotee(2): But in our community, if the..., being as we're training up as Vaiṣṇavas...

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Devotee(2): ...then how will we be able to make divisions in our society?

Prabhupāda: Yes. Vaiṣṇava is not so easy. The varṇāśrama-dharma should be established to become a Vaiṣṇava. It is not so easy to become Vaiṣṇava.

Devotee(2): No, it's not a cheap thing.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Therefore this should be made. Vaiṣṇava, to become Vaiṣṇava, is not so easy. If Vaiṣṇava, to become Vaiṣṇava is so easy, why so many fall down, fall down? It is not easy. The sannyāsa is for the highest qualified brāhmaṇa. And simply by dressing like a Vaiṣṇava, that is... Fall down.


Prabhupāda: Nobody is interested with higher study. They want some technological understanding so that they can earn money. That's all. This is only interest.

Devotee: In our ISKCON, one becomes a brāhmaṇa after a year. It's not very hard. Everyone becomes a brāhmaṇa.

Prabhupāda: That is due to chanting. That lift very easily.

Devotee(2): Where will we introduce the varṇāśrama system, then?

Prabhupāda: In our society, amongst our members.

Devotee(2): But then if everybody's being raised to the brahminical platform...

Prabhupāda: Not everybody. Why you are misunderstanding? Varṇāśrama, not everybody brāhmaṇa.

Devotee(2): No, but in our society practically everyone is being raised to that platform. So then one might ask what is...

Prabhupāda: That is... Everybody is being raised, but they're falling down.

Devotee(2): So then we should make it more difficult to get...

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Devotee(2): ...brahminical initiation. After four or five years.

Prabhupāda: Not necessary. You remain as a kṣatriya. You'll be ha...

Devotee(2): No need for even any brāhmaṇa initiation, then...

Prabhupāda: No, no.

Devotee(2): ...unless one is...

Prabhupāda: No, brāhmaṇa must be there. Why do you say, generalize?

Devotee(2): Unless one is particularly...

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Devotee(2): ...inclined.

Prabhupāda: Not that a śūdra man is by force become a brāhmaṇa. You cannot improve. That is not possible. But even if he remains a śūdra and does accordingly, he will get the same position as devotee. Sva-karmaṇā tam abhyarcya sam... (BG 18.46). He'll get the perfection. At the present moment the idea is: if one remains a śūdra, then he cannot get perfection. No. Even a śūdra can get perfection, provided he does the work of a śūdra perfectly.

Devotee(2): For Kṛṣṇa.

Prabhupāda: Therefore why a śūdra artificially should be a brāhmaṇa? Let them..., let him remain a śūdra, and if he follows strictly the rules and regulation of śūdra, he'll also be as good as a brāhmaṇa. The same example: Just like head is as important as my leg. It is not that because it is leg, it is less important than my head. And if you ask the head, "Do the work of a leg," it is impossible. And if you ask the leg to work as a brain, that is impossible. Let him remain brain, let him remain leg, and do your duty, and you become perfect.

Devotee: Today you've been saying that the Vaiṣṇava is the highest, above the brāhmaṇa. But then we've also understood that everyone in ISKCON is a Vaiṣṇava.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Vaiṣṇava everyone, even if he's not brāhmaṇa. Jīvera svarūpa haya nitya-kṛṣṇa-dāsa (CC Madhya 20.108). But you have to gradually bring him to that pure consciousness that "I am servant of Kṛṣṇa." Here the bodily conception is going on: "I am American," "I am Indian," "I am this," "I am that."

Devotee: If in our society we say, "Śrīla Prabhupāda wants some to be śūdra..."

Prabhupāda: No, no, no. I don't want. I want everyone to become Vaiṣṇava. But because he's a śūdra, it is not possible to bring him immediately to the platform of brāhmaṇa or Vaiṣṇava. Therefore falling down. Therefore system must be. But even if he remains a śūdra, he's a Vaiṣṇava.

Devotee(2): So we'd have to completely revise the whole system that we have now.

Prabhupāda: No. Whatever we have, that is all right. But we see by experience that they're falling down. There must be systematic. Why falling down? Because he was not fit for the position, therefore he has fallen. Better remain in his position and become perfect. Why artificially bring them? There is no need. Kṛṣṇa says. Bring that Bhagavad-gītā. Sve sve karmaṇy abhirataḥ?


    sve sve karmaṇy abhirataḥ
    saṁsiddhiṁ labhate naraḥ
    sva-karma-nirataḥ siddhiṁ
    yathā vindati tac chṛṇu
    (BG 18.45)

"By following his qualities of work, every man can become perfect. Now please hear from Me how this can be done."

Prabhupāda: Yes. He is śūdra, clerk. He can... As a śūdra, he can get the perfection. Why he should artificially become a brāhmaṇa and sannyāsī and fall down? This has to be checked.

Devotee(2): So that depends upon our men who are giving recommendations.

Prabhupāda: So that recommendation is not good. Bible is giving so many recommendation. He's also not following them. (laughs)

Devotee(2): Following them. So how will we implement? Right now we have... Every temple president can...

Prabhupāda: That is supposed. Where there is no tree, a castor seed tree is very big tree. That is going on.

Devotee: If there's no tree?

Prabhupāda: You know castor seed tree, a plant? It does not grow.

Devotee: Small.

Prabhupāda: Small. So there is no banyan tree, it is taken, "Oh, it is very big."

Devotee(2): I don't follow the analogy.

Devotee: In the complete absence of trees, then a small tree is considered big tree.

Devotee(2): Oh. (laughs) Well, say, like here in Māyāpur now we have a situation...

Prabhupāda: No, no. Why? Why one should stress to become big tree? Here it is clearly said even if you are small tree, you can get perfection. So we should take that.

Devotee(2): So in Māyāpur here now we have that situation, that so many...

Prabhupāda: Everywhere, wherever, Māyāpur or anywhere. Question is that here it is clearly said, sve sve karmaṇy abhirataḥ. Brāhmaṇa has his duty, kṣatriya has his duty, vaiśya has his duty, śūdra has his duty. And if he performs his duty nicely, then he also becomes perfect. So why artificially he should be called a brāhmaṇa? Let them do, according to śāstra, the work of śūdra or vaiśya. He'll get the perfection. Perfection is not checked. But why artificially he should be made a brāhmaṇa or he should be made a sannyāsī and fall down and become a ludicrous? That is the point. Better let him live in his position and become perfect. That's good. That looks very nice. And that is possible. That is possible. Varṇāśramācāravatā puruṣeṇa paraḥ pumān viṣṇur ārādhyate (CC Madhya 8.58). Viṣṇu, Lord Viṣṇu, can be worshiped if you perfectly follow the rules and regulation of four varṇas and four āśramas. Here it is also said, sve sve karmaṇi. You work as a perfect brāhmaṇa or a perfect kṣatriya, perfect śūdra, you get perfection. The perfection is available in your natural life. Why should artificially you become unnatural and fall down and become ludicrous? Perfection is not checked.

(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, Mayapur, February 14, 1977)
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