Picking out men with first-class intelligence and training them how to become first class in every respect
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© 2007 - Hansadutta das
Bhagavad-gita As It Is Bhagavad-gita As It Is by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami
Unabridged, unrevised reprint of the 1972 MacMillans ed. $14.95 Buy it now
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[Posted June 1, 2007]

Class Not by Birth, Nor by Economic Status


His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Srila Prabhupada
New York Times -  May 31, 2007 - ARCHIE TSE & BEN WERSCHKUL How Class Matters
While there are many characteristics that could be used to describe a person's class, among the most influential are the person's occupation, education, income and wealth.
how class matters(Left:) Snapshot of an interactive graphic illustrating "How Class Matters", taken from the New York Times article.
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Lowborn or highborn—it doesn't matter
Interview with freelance reporter Ms. Sandy Nixon, Philadelphia, July 1975 (cited in Science of Self Realization, "What is Krishna Consciousness?")
Co-operative Society

Body Without Head and Arms Hansadutta das

Vedic society is not competitive as is capitalistic society. Capitalism encourages everyone to make profit by exploiting the less intelligent working class. The mercantile class organizes and exploits the laborer class for sense gratification. In contrast, the Vedic society is cooperative. The four classes cooperate for meeting the material necessities of life: eating, sleeping, defending and sex. All classes cooperate for the welfare of everyone. more

Ms. Nixon: Are you attempting to revive the ancient Indian caste system in the West? The Gita mentions the caste system...

Srila Prabhupada: Where does the Bhagavad-gita mention the caste system? Krishna says, chatur-varnyam maya srishtam guna-karma-vibhagashah: "I created four divisions of men according to their quality and work." (Bg. 4.13) For instance, you can understand that there are engineers as well as medical practitioners in society. Do you say they belong to different castes—that one is in the engineer caste and the other is in the medical caste? No. If a man has qualified himself in medical school, you accept him as a doctor; and if another man has a degree in engineering, you accept him as an engineer. Similarly, the Bhagavad-gita defines four classes of men in society: a class of highly intelligent men, a class of administrators, a class of productive men, and ordinary workers. These divisions are natural. For example, one class of men is very intelligent. But to actually meet the qualifications of first-class men as described in the Bhagavad-gita, they need to be trained, just as an intelligent boy requires training in a college to become a qualified doctor. So in the Krishna consciousness movement we are training the intelligent men how to control their minds, how to control their senses, how to become truthful, how to become clean internally and externally, how to become wise, how to apply their knowledge in practical life, and how to become God conscious. All these boys [gestures toward seated disciples] have first-class intelligence, and now we are training them to use it properly.

We are not introducing the caste system, in which any rascal born in a brahmana family is automatically a brahmana. He may have the habits of a fifth-class man, but he is accepted as first class because of his birth in a brahmana family. We don't accept that. We recognize a man as first class who is trained as a brahmana. It doesn't matter whether he is Indian, European, or American; lowborn or highborn—it doesn't matter. Any intelligent man can be trained to adopt first-class habits. We want to stop the nonsensical idea that we are imposing the Indian caste system on our disciples. We are simply picking out men with first-class intelligence and training them how to become first class in every respect.


Propagating brahminical culture for the world
Renunciation Through Wisdom

The pious and saintly Vaishnavas understand the exact meaning of the Bhagavad-gita. The simple message of the Gita is self-illuminated like the sun. Its knowledge is not hidden under a gloomy shroud of impersonalism. There is actually no room for extracting some alternative meaning and then giving a so-called esoteric dissertation on it. The devotees of Lord Krishna alone can fully take to heart the instructions of the Gita, and by acting accordingly they are liberated from the awesome and eternal enslavement of the cycle of karma. Such persons are not restricted to a particular country, race, or society. The Lord's devotees belong to a class of their own—they form a spiritual society unhindered by geographical conditions. God is not the monopoly of any particular group. Therefore the message of the Gita, being universal can be followed by anyone and everyone. After all, it is in the Gita (9.32) that Lord Krishna has unconditionally declared

"O son of Pritha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth—women, vaishyas (merchants), as well as shudras (workers)—can attain the Supreme destination."

The demons misinterpret the words of Lord Krishna concerning caste and social division, and they act capriciously on that basis. But this cannot blemish Lord Krishna or His words. In the Bhagavad-gita (4.13) Lord Krishna clearly says

"According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the nondoer, being unchangeable."

The four divisions of society—namely intellectuals, administrators, merchants, and laborers—should be determined not by birth but by merit, just as one becomes a doctor or a judge not by birthright but by merit alone. In this world of the three modes of material nature, social classes have always existed. Therefore a person's birth should never determine his caste or class in society. The four classes were created according to a person's qualifications.

Doctors are available in every country and society; similarly, the four classes of men are also present in every country and society. A son born to a doctor is not necessarily sure to grow up to be a doctor; similarly, the progeny of the four classes of society do not automatically fix their future career according to that of their parents. The scriptures describe in detail the divisions of society, with their inherent characteristics. Therefore we commit a serious mistake when we regard the different classes of men as belonging to particular countries or races. The Indian culture of today is restricted by the hereditary caste system and kept in the custody of narrow-minded people who are like frogs in a well. If instead India had spread the transcendental message of Bhagavad-gita in the generous manner befitting a noble brahmana, then peace and tranquillity in this world would not be in such acutely short supply. By the propagation of brahminical culture, the world would have greatly prospered. Instead, the Vedic culture has been seriously maimed by the imposition of the hereditary caste system, and this has had grievously adverse effects on the world. The Supreme Lord in His incarnation as Lord Chaitanya has opened many avenues to peaceful living by propagating the brahminical culture, which He calls the religion of the soul. Those who are fortunate can emulate His life, follow His divine teachings, and perfect their lives.

Varnashrama-dharma, the system of four spiritual orders and four social orders of life, is of two kinds: demoniac and transcendental. They have nothing in common. The divisions of society mentioned in the scriptures are present at all times and in all lands. If one with knowledge of the scriptures scrutinizes the different societies, he can easily discern the four classes. Persons possessing brahminical or priestly qualities in varying degrees are seen in practically every society. In modern terms they are called intellectuals. All the other classes are also present. Therefore it is an established fact that the four divisions of society, according to merit, are, were, and will be present everywhere.


Class Not by Birth Nor by Economic Status/ WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY
©2007 - Hansadutta das
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