Published on May 11th, 2023 | by HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada


Krishna Consciousness: A Wholesale, Thorough Overhaul of Human Society

So if you want to remodel your life, the society, the human society, nationally or internationally then you have to take to the advice of Krsna. This is the purpose of Krsna consciousness movement: wholesale, thorough, overhauling of the human society.

Bhagavad-gita 4.13, Bombay, April 2, 1974

Pradyumna: (leads chanting)

catur-varnyam maya srstam
tasya kartaram api mam
viddhy akartaram avyayam

Translation: “According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.”

catur-varnyam maya srstam
tasya kartaram api mam
viddhy akartaram avyayam

So beginning of human civilization is this varnasrama-dharma. The Vedic system is varnasrama-dharma.

The people known as Hindus in the world, the Hindu is a term given by the Mohammedans, from “Indus.” Indus River is there. Now it is in Pakistan. So people beyond the Indus River, the Mohammedans in Arabia and other countries, they pronounce “s” as “h”. Instead of “Sindhu,” they used to pronounce it as “Hindu.” So people living, crossing the river Indus or Hindus, they were called “Hindus.” Otherwise, this “Hindu” term is not seen in any Vedic literature.

The real meaning is the people who observe the varnasrama-dharma, four varnas and four asramas. Four varna means brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra. And below the sudras, they are called candalas, pancama, fifth grade, less than the sudras. That natural division is there everywhere.

Brahmana means the most intellectual, most intelligent person. Intelligent means one who knows, who has got sufficient knowledge. So brahmana means he has got sufficient knowledge even up to the understanding of the Absolute Truth. Brahma janatiti brahmanah. So that is first-class men, brahmana. So intellectuals or very intelligent class of men, these are everywhere, all over the world. You may call them brahmana or not, but a class of men, very intelligent, that is available in every part of the world. So brahmana means the intelligent class of men. And ksatriya means they are less than the brahmanas. And vaisyas means less than the ksatriyas. And sudras less than all of them. It is a question of intelligence.

So catur-varnyam maya srstam. Krsna says, “These four varnas are created by Me.” So anything created by God, that is not monopoly for any class of men or for any country. Just like the sun is created by God. The sun is the thing which is enjoyed by all parts of the world. But there are countries, Western countries, where sun is not visible, covered by the cloud. Any country, any part of the world which is covered by cloud and the sun is not visible, according to sastra, such country is condemned. Because, although the sunshine is there, but certain condition, they cannot enjoy the sunshine.

Therefore from the Western countries, when people come to this country, especially in India, when they see from the Arabian Sea bright sunshine, they very much become astonished, “How nice sunshine is here.” So sunshine is the property for everyone, but according to intelligence or according to fortune, they enjoy it.

So brahminical culture also, similarly, it is just like sunshine. It is meant for everyone. But the people must be intelligent enough to take it.

Unfortunately, this system, although India was observing very rigidly, now it is slackened, or practically nil. We have lost our brahminical culture, the catur-varnyam maya srstam. This is the, due to the influence of Kali-yuga. Kalau sudra-sambhavah In the Kali-yuga practically everyone is a sudra or less than sudra. Less than sudra is called candala. Sudras, sometimes sudras also eat meat, but the less than sudras, they have no discrimination. They eat even dogs. The dog-eaters, they are described in the sastra, sva-paca. Sva means dog, and paca means, pacanti, cook.

But Krsna consciousness is so nice. It is said in the sastra, aho bata sva-paco ‘to gariyan yaj-jihvagre (vartate) nama tubhyam. Even a sva-paca, candala, dog-eater, if he learns from the spiritual master how to chant Hare Krsna mantra, he is gariyan, he is glorified. In another place also, that sva-paca, candalo ‘pi dvija-srestho hari-bhakti-parayanah. Even candala, he becomes greater than a brahmana, provided he becomes a devotee of the Lord. Hari-bhakti-parayanah.

So ordinarily, when people are not on the standard of bhagavad-bhakti, devotees of the Lord, there is division of the society. There must be. Otherwise things cannot go on. In the sastras we find that there is division even in my body: the brain division, the hand division or the arms division, the belly division and the leg division.

The brain division is the brahmana, and the arm division is the ksatriya, gives you protection. As soon as somebody is going to attack you, immediately, automatically you spread your hands. Ksatriya. Ksat means injury. In Hindu it is called ksatra. So ksat trayate. A ksatriya’s business is one who can save you from being injured by others. That is ksatriya. And brahmana means the intelligent class. So as in the body, the brain is also required the hand is also required the belly is also required, and the leg is also required. Although the activities of the leg is not so important than the activity of the brain. Comparatively studying, the brain is most important part of the body, this head. If you cut the head of a man, then, in spite of possessing the arms, belly and legs, he is dead man. But if you cut the hand or the leg, he can live, and the brain can work. This is an example.

Similarly, when the society is divided nicely in these four divisions, the brahminical culture, the ksatriya culture, the vaisya culture, and the sudra culture… Brahminical culture means people should learn how to speak truth, satya, sama, how to control the mind, how to control the senses. Satya, sama, damah, titiksa, how to become tolerant, arjavam, how to become simple in life, how to become cleansed, how to acquire knowledge and how to practically apply the knowledge in daily life.

Jnanam vijnanam astikyam. And astikyam means full faith in the Vedic literature. That is called astikya. Astikya generally is called theism. So if one has full faith and full knowledge in Vedas, he becomes theist. If he has no sufficient knowledge in the Vedas, he becomes atheist. So just like Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu says, veda na maniya bauddha haila nastika. The Buddhists, they did not accept the authority of the Vedas. Therefore they are called nastika, or atheist. That is the definition, that if you do not accept the authority of the Vedas, then you become atheist. So this is the brahminical…. One of the brahminical qualification is how to live under the Vedic civilization. That is brahmana.

Similarly, ksatriya. Tejah, sauryam, very powerful, and ksatriya will never go away from the battlefield. Ksatriya’s business is, in the battlefield, either to become victorious or lay down life. That is ksatriya. He is not coming back from the battlefield without being victorious, no. That is ksatriya’s business. Not like…. ksatriya, therefore, they are in charge of the government. Nowadays the ksatriyas, they do not go to the government. Practically there is no ksatriya. That is stated in the sastras. Asamskrtah kriya-hina mleccha rajanya-rupinah. Mleccha. They have no that ksatriya qualification, mleccha, unclean.

Mleccha means unclean, without any Vedic culture. They are called mleccha. Anyone. It does not mean that any particular class of men is called mleccha. Anyone who is unclean and does not abide by the injunction of the Vedas, they are called mleccha, yavana. That is the shastric term.

So Krsna says for the upkeep of the society, there must be this cultural division of the society, namely varna and asrama. But at the present moment people do not know what is the aim of life. They do not know.

na te viduh svartha-gatim hi visnum
durasaya ye bahir-artha-maninah
andha yathandhair upaniyamanas
te ‘pisa-tantryam uru-damni-baddhah

Uru-damni-baddhah. Te ‘pisa-tantryam uru-damni-baddhah, andha yathandhair upaniyamanah. People are…. Because the Vedic culture is lost, the system of brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, is no longer existing, neither there is training. One politician, minister in Calcutta, he came to see me, I was talking. “Why there is chaotic condition?” And the simple reason is there is no this catur-varnya system is lost. Practically without any brahminical culture, ksatriya culture, people remain sudras, the fourth-class man. Or fifth-class men.

So unless there are first-class men, second-class men, at least third-class men, only fourth-class, fifth-class, sixth-class men, how they can conduct. That is not possible. Therefore it is enjoined that catur-varnyam maya srstam. This division of the society must be observed.

Educational institution, there should be, but the education…. Just like in a university, they have different departments: medical department, engineering department, or biological and so many, psychological, chemical, physical…. They have so many departments. But there is no department, brahminical, kshatriyacal, or vaisya, nothing. Because they do not know what is the aim of life. They are simply interested with the bodily comforts of life. That’s all. Never mind what is our next life, What kind of life we are going to. But that is, this is a fact.

Therefore we have to study Bhagavad-gita very seriously. In the beginning of Bhagavad-gita it is said by Krsna, tatha dehantara-praptir. There is dehantara. After leaving this body, I have to accept another body. Tatha dehantara-praptir dhiras tatra na muhyati. Dhirah means those who are sober, intelligent, they know that what is death. Death means giving up this body and accepting another, transmigration of the soul. That is death. So dhiras tatra na muhyati. A dhirah who is learned, he knows, but others, adhirah…

There are two classes of men: dhira and adhira. Adhirah means not controlled, animals. Just like animal cannot control. So human being is gradually coming to the platform of the animals. Because they are being conducted on the bodily concept of life.

yasyatma-buddhih kunape tri-dhatuke
sva-dhih kalatradisu bhauma ijya-dhih
yat-tirtha-buddhih salile na karhicij
(janesv abhijnesu) sa eva go-kharah

Anyone Who is thinking that “I am this body,” yasyatma-buddhih kunape…. Kunape means this bag, tri-dhatuke, of kapha, pitta, vayu. Am I this body? A first-class intelligent man is composed of this body. What is the composition? The blood, bone, flesh, muscle, stool, urine. Does it mean a first-class man is composition of these ingredients? But foolish people are taking the bodily conception of life.


Tatha dehantara-praptih. Dehino ‘smin yatha dehe. This is the first understanding of knowledge, but people do not understand that within the body there is soul. They are so fool. Therefore they have been described in the sastra, sa eva go-kharah: “This class of men, they are no better than the cows and the asses.” So you cannot become happy in the assembly of some animals.

Therefore people are so much disturbed at the present moment. There is no sober life, dhira. If you want peaceful life in the society, then you must accept this program. Catur-varnyam maya srstam. There must be brahminical class of men, ksatriya class of men, vaisya class of men.

The vaisya… Generally, we understand, vaisya means the mercantile class of men. No. At the present moment the so-called vaisyas are sudras, less than sudras. Why? Now the vaisya’s business is krsi-go-raksya-vanijyam vaisya-karma svabhava-jam. The vaisyas must be engaged in producing foodgrains, but they are not interested. They are interested for opening factories for bolts and nuts and tires, Goodwheel tires, Goodyear tires. Now you eat tire and bolt nut. No, you cannot eat. You have to eat rice, and rice is ten rupees per kilo. That’s all. Because no vaisya is producing food grains. This is the defect.

They don’t see the defect. They’re simply howling, bawling, “Oh, it has increased price”. Why not, increased, price? There are millions of people in Bombay city. Who is producing food grain? But they are known as vaisya. What kind of vaisya? There is no brahminical culture; there is no brain. There is no ksatriya who can give you protection. There are so many defects.

So if you want to remodel your life, the society, the human society, nationally or internationally–everything is spoken here, international–then you have to take to the advice of Krsna. This is the purpose of Krsna consciousness movement: wholesale, thorough, overhauling of the human society. We have not manufactured anything, concocted things. It is very scientific. If you actually want to fulfill the mission of your life, then you have to take to this advice of Bhagavad-gita, very scientific and spoken by the Supreme Personality of Godhead, without any defects.

If I speak something, there may be so many defects, because I am imperfect. Every one of us, imperfect. We commit mistake. To err is human. There is no human being who can say boldly that “I never committed any mistake.” That is not possible. You must commit mistake. And sometimes we are illusioned, pramada. That we are all, because we are accepting this body as “I am,” which I am not. That is called pramada, bhrama pramada. Then vipralipsa. I have got bhrama, I commit mistake, I am bewildered, I am illusioned. Still, I am taking the position of teacher. That is cheating. If you are defective, if you have got so many defects in your life, how you can become teacher? You are a cheater. Nobody’s teacher, because without being perfect, how you can become teacher? So this is going on.

And the last defect is that my senses are imperfect. I cannot see properly, I cannot smell properly, I cannot touch properly. So many defects. Just for example I am seeing the sun everyday but I am seeing just like a disk. But it is fourteen hundred thousand times bigger than the earth. So sastra-caksusa. You must see through the sastra, not with these eyes. Just like they say sometimes, “Can you show me God? Have you seen God?” Well, can you see God? You cannot see even the sun properly. How can you see God? Why you are proud of your eyes so much? If you cannot see even material object and you cannot see even the spirit soul…

You are seeing daily your father, and when your father dies you cry, “Oh, my father is gone.” Well, your father is lying here. How do you say your father is gone? “No, father is gone.” Then how it is gone? “Now he is dead.” How he is dead? That means you are seeing your father so many years, but you did not see who is your father. Now he cries, “Now my father is gone.” Where he is gone? He is there, lying on the floor. So just see our fault, how much defective our eyes. I am seeing the body of the father and I am thinking, “He is my father.” Sa eva go-kharah, ass and cow, the seeing of the ass and cow. So in this way we are defective.

How we can guide the people? How we can become teacher? How we can become leader? Andha yathandhair upaniyamanah, yasyatma-buddhih kunape. Andha. I am andha, blind, and I try to lead others, andhas. Therefore there must be chaos. This will not help us. We must see through the eyes of Krsna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. We must study Bhagavad-gita perfectly well.

How to read? Evam parampara-praptam, through the disciplic succession. As Krsna said, you have to accept that teaching through the disciplic succession, not concocted meanings. “Oh, I am a very good scholar. I passed my DHC or MAC or MA. I can comment on Bhagavad-gita in my own way.” That is rascaldom. That is not understanding of Bhagavad-gita. Bhagavad-gita means you must understand what Krsna says. That is understanding. But generally, it is done, “Kill Krsna. There was no Krsna. There was no battlefield. There was no Mahabharata. I have my concoction about Krsna.” This kind of commentary and understanding of Bhagavad-gita has spoiled the whole world.

Therefore in the Western countries so many swamis and yogis went there and they misrepresented Bhagavad-gita. Of course, everyone knows in Eastern country Bhagavad-gita. Every institution, every gentleman, learned man, knows that there is a nice book, Bhagavad-gita, but they read these faulty commentaries. They cannot understand. Now we are presenting Bhagavad-gita as it is, and they are now understanding what is real Bhagavad-gita. Therefore they are now devotees. For the last two hundred years, so many swamis and yogis went there and talked about Bhagavad-gita. Not a single person became a devotee of Krsna. Now you will find thousands. Why? The Bhagavad-gita is being accepted as it is. This is the secret of this Krsna consciousness movement.

So our only request is that if you want happiness, if you want to prosper, make your life successful, you must read Bhagavad-gita thoroughly, as it is, as Krsna says. Don’t try to misinterpret. “Krsna means this” and “pandava means this” and “This means this.” Don’t make this foolish rascaldom. Take as it is, Bhagavad-gita.

Krsna says that mattah parataram nanyat kincid asti dhananjaya, aham adir hi devanam, catur-varnyam maya srstam. Here it is said. Krsna says, catur-varnyam maya srstam, you cannot cancel this system of varnasrama. Then you will suffer. You cannot cancel. You must accept, that there must be a class of men, real, brahmana. Not that “I am born in a brahmana family and I am doing the work of a cobbler. Still, I am a brahmana. No, not like that. Guna-karma-vibhagasah. Krsna never says that brahmana is born in a brahmana family. Here it is clearly said, catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah. Guna means quality. As you purchase something, that it is good quality, nice quality, similarly, you should accept a brahmana, a ksatriya, a vaisya, a sudra, by the quality and by the work.

Not only that. Just like you qualify yourself as a lawyer, but you do not practice. So who will call you lawyer? Nobody will call. But if you are qualified and if you are practicing, everyone says, [Hindi] He will go. People will go to consult with you.

But if you do not practice, simply you have passed legal examination, nobody will come to you. So two things are required: the brahminical qualities and work like a brahmana. These two things…. If you are born in a brahmana family and you are, “Oh, all blessing to you,” oh, what power you have got to bless me? You are not in quality, not in work. But people accept it, panditaji.

What kind of panditaji? Pandita. Pandita means one who knows. Then the Bhagavad-gita says, panditah sama-darsinah.

brahmane gavi hastini
suni caiva sva-pake ca
panditah sama-darsinah

So this is the pandita, definition of pandita, not this rascal pandita, that rascal pandita. Pandita means one who has attained the spiritual platform. That is called pandita. Panditah sama-darsinah.

Vidya-vinaya, brahmane, a learned brahmana; gavi, a cow; hastini, an elephant; suni, suni means candala, er, suni means dog; and sva-pake, those who are dog-eaters, candala. Panditah sama-darsinah. How is that, pandita has become mad that he is seeing the brahmana, learned brahmana, and a candala and a cow, everything on the same platform? How? Because he is not seeing this body: he is seeing the soul. That is pandita. Otherwise how a panditah sama-darsinah… He is not madman. Those who are advanced in education, learned, they see that everyone is living entity, part and parcel of God. He is under condition now. So let him be awakened. Uttisthata jagrata prapya varan nibodhata. This is pandita’s business, to educate. Just like the human being, one who hasn’t got the spiritual knowledge, it is the business of the pandita to educate him.

Uttisthata jagrata prapya varan nibodhata: “You have got now this human body. In the animal body you could not understand what is spirit soul, what is God. Now you have got the opportunity.” Uttisthata: “Now get up.” Prapya varan nibodhata. “You have got this opportunity to understand.” Athato brahma-jijnasa. “Now it is your opportunity to inquire about jivasya tattva-jijnasa.” These are the instruction in the Vedic literature. Tattva-jijnasa. The human life is only meant for tattva-jijnasa, to understand the Absolute Truth.

That requires brahminical culture, not the dull brain of sudras and candalas. They cannot understand. Therefore there must be an institution to educate a brahmana, to educate ksatriya. That is required. Catur-varnyam maya srstam. If you don’t do it, if you simply produce sudras, bolt, nut manufacturers, technicians, then how you can be happy? Sudras. This is the business of the sudras. This is not business of brahmana. You keep sudras, but there must be brahmanas also.

Just like leg is also required, the brain is also required. You cut the leg, simply keep the brain, that is also defective and if you cut off the brain, then everything is finished. This is going on. There is no brahmana, there is no ksatriya, there is no vaisya, only sudras. So how you can be happy?

Therefore it is very essential to understand this verse. Catur-varnyam, train a class of men. Everyone required. There is intelligent class of men, but there brain is being misused, and intelligent man is being taught technology, how to manufacture machine. This is sudra’s business. This is sudra’s business. Misuse, brain misuse. There must be university where brain is properly utilized. Here is a child or here is a boy. He has good intelligence. Train him as brahmana. Less than that, train him as ksatriya, train him as vaisya.

Everything is there in the Bhagavad-gita. There is no difficulty. So if you actually want happiness, prosperity of the society, not only of this society, that, whole human society, they must accept this Krsna consciousness movement and then they will be happy. Thank you very much. (end)

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About the Author

Founded the Hare Krishna Movement in 1966 in New York. In only 11 years he spread the movement all over the world. He wrote more than 80 books including Bhagavad-gita As It Is, Srimad-Bhagavatam, Sri Caitanya-caritamrta, Sri Isopanisad. Prabhupada's books constitute a complete library of Vedic philosophy, religion, literature and culture.

One Response to Krishna Consciousness: A Wholesale, Thorough Overhaul of Human Society

  1. mahasrnga dasa says:

    5,000 changes are not Prabhupada’s books. Distribute “As It Is”, original only. If BBTI changes, then they’re not Prabhupada’s books.

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