(Click to enlarge photo of Srila Prabhupada chanting the gayatri mantra)
Prabhupāda: I have seen in Los Angeles, Beverly Hills. You know?
Prabhupāda: That is a rich quarter. Very nice house. And one boy is coming, he is hippie, and riding on his car and going. Then I saw, although it is such a nice, rich quarter, there are also hippies. That I could study. Why these boys are becoming hippies? And New York you know, the hippies are lying here and there in the Fifth Avenue, on Central Park, and they are worshiping pig. (laughs) You know that?
Banker: Yes, I know.
Prabhupāda: He also knows. Why this disappointment?
Banker: We have had a long history of debate in America over wealth. We have had one group, the fundamentalist Protestants, who argue that... most of them are poor, and they feel very guilty if they have money. And then you have another group of Protestants, the gospel of wealth Protestants, who say that if you are truly holy, then it is better that the money be entrusted to your hands than to a man who is unholy.
And then you have still another group that regards money as an end in itself, rather than a means to committing you to do other things. And this confuses people in America. Your parents will be one thing, you'll be another. In my case, my mother is a gospel of poverty person. "Blessed are the poor." She thinks you won't get into heaven unless you are poor. And I'm in the gospel of wealth category. (laughter) And you just select your own philosophy along the way. Carnegie was in that philosophy. He even wrote a book about it one hundred years ago. The steel Carnegie, Carnegie Steel.
Prabhupāda: Yes, Carnegie's name I know.
Banker: He was one of the number-one advocates of this philosophy, that if you are holy, then the money should be in your hands, because you can use it for better purposes.
Prabhupāda: That is a good philosophy.
Banker: Therefore, then he started building libraries all over the country and everything else, besides his steel company. But this has been a big fight. It still is a big fight. Today you have the people who support welfare and those who oppose it.
Prabhupāda: No. We don't oppose wealth.
Banker: Welfare. Payment to people who don't work.
Prabhupāda: No, everyone should work. Our Vedic philosophy is that everyone must work. But there must be division of work. Just like in your body there are different parts: the head department, the arms department, the belly department and the legs department. These are different parts. So all these departments must work for the total benefit of the body. That is our philosophy. Nobody should sit idle. But he must work according to his capacity. Brain must work for giving direction. Hand must work for giving protection. Belly must work for supplying food, energy. And leg must work for carrying the body.
So similarly the society must be divided: the brain of the society, the arms of the society, the belly of the society and the legs of the society. That will make perfection. The brain will give direction; that is the brāhmaṇas. The arms will give protection; that is the kṣatriya. And the belly will give energy, food; that is vaiśya. And the legs will carry the body; that is śūdra. This is... Whole society should be divided into four divisions: the brāhmaṇas, the kṣatriyas, the vaiśyas and the śūdras. And they should work cooperatively for the total benefit of the body. This is perfect life. Not that everyone should be brain. Then who will carry me? Just like in your bank, the manager is the brain. The secretaries and assistants are the hands, clerks. And ordinary worker, they are legs. Anywhere you go, you must find out these four divisions. Therefore the human society must be divided into four divisions.
But there is no such plan. Now the plan is that everyone is being educated to learn technology, how to—in your country, especially— how to make economic development. So they have no brain. Therefore there are hippies. There is no brain actually. Now the President Nixon, he is in the topmost post. He has no brain. Therefore he is being ridiculed. Neither he has honor. He is not, I mean to say, resigning the post. He has been ridiculed by the people, but still, he is sticking to his post. So this is the defect. You have got in your country only the vaiśyas, the belly and the legs. I am just giving a rude example. Not only in your country; every country nowadays. There is no brain. Brain is finished. Therefore everywhere you will find chaos and confusion. There is no brain.
So this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement means we are creating some brain. We are not creating the technological expert, but we are creating brain to know the purpose of human life and work on it under a systematic way. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. It is not such bluff, that "In darkness you meditate this, that." No. It is a science. It is a science, how the human society can be happy in all respect. And everything is directed there in the Bhagavad-gītā. Just like to keep up your body fit, you require brain in order, your arms in order, your stomach in order, your legs in order. Everything must be in order. But out of all of them, if there is no brain, then everything is useless—the hand is useless, the stomach is useless, the leg is useless. So at the present moment there is no brain in the society. Lack of brain. All these things, directions, are there in the Bhagavad-gītā. What is the brain, or brāhmaṇa?
(aside) Find out this verse, śamo damas titikṣā, in the Eighteenth Chapter. Jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ brahma-karma svabhāva-jam.
Devotee: Śamo damas tapaḥ śaucaṁ?
śamo damas tapaḥ śaucaṁ
kṣāntir ārjavam eva ca
jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ
"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.
(Srila Prabhupada Conversation, Bombay, September 21, 1973)