“It is clearly declared here by the Supreme Lord that in devotional service there is no distinction between the lower or higher classes of people. In the material conception of life, there are such divisions, but for a person engaged in transcendental devotional service to the Lord, there are not. Everyone is eligible for the supreme destination.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 9.32 Purport)Download this episode (right click and save)
Friend1: I read something interesting today.
Friend2: What’s that?
Friend1: Relating to the characteristics of Kali-yuga.
Friend2: The age of quarrel and hypocrisy.
Friend1: Yeah, those things are always interesting, especially considering that the words were spoken so long ago.
Friend2: Before the age even began. It’s a prediction. The Sanskrit word is bhavishya.
Friend1: You become accustomed to your surroundings, which means that your idea of normal doesn’t necessarily mean “right.”
Friend2: If I grow up in a family of thieves, I will naturally think that stealing is the way to live. This helps to explain how meat eating became so widespread.
Friend1: How so?
Friend2: Meat eating was always there, but it was regulated. One of the pillars of religion is tapasya, which is penance or austerity. In the human form you will be happier with less. More specifically, if you control the sense urges, which keep rushing in like a river flowing towards an ocean, then you’ll be better off.
Friend1: If you control your desire to eat, it will benefit you later on?
Friend2: Exactly. Eating and sex. Those two things must be controlled. Anyway, over time classes of people ignored shastra, or scripture. As you go through the generations, pretty soon righteousness turns into sin, and vice versa. It explains how in Kali-yuga, the present age, there is hardly any real religion to be found.
Friend1: Thanks for bringing me back to the purpose of the discussion. One of the characteristics I read was that the shudra, which is the fourth class man, will challenge the brahmana, the first class man.
Friend2: Right. “Why should there be classes? Everyone is equal.” This is the stated objective of communism.
Friend1: It can’t really happen, though. Someone has to be in government. This means that anyone who wants to escape the squalor of the equally distributed misery of socialism and communism strives to go into government.
Friend2: They will then be exempt from the strict laws enforced upon everyone else.
Friend1: The shudra challenges the brahmana by referencing Brahman, the impersonal aspect of the Supreme. They will say, “Do you know Brahman? That is the meaning to a brahmana, after all. If you did know Brahman, you wouldn’t create distinctions. You would know that I am equal to you.”
Friend2: That logic does make sense. That is the definition of a brahmana, after all.
Friend1: I thought the same thing. Why is that description there, then? In Kali-yuga everything is supposed to be the opposite.
Friend2: There is the verse in the Bhagavad-gita where Krishna describes the state of mind of the humble sage.
“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste] .” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.18)
From transcendental knowledge they are able to see the various species as being equal. The dog, the cow, the enlightened person - they are all the same spiritually.
Friend1: Right. They are Brahman, which is like a fragment of the spiritual energy.
Friend2: An expanded fragment. Brahman comes from Krishna, who is Parabrahman. He can expand infinitely and still remain who He is. That is why He was able to show the universal form to Arjuna on the battlefield but still not lose anything.
Friend1: Okay. The brahmana sees equally. Why, then, should there be different classes?
Friend2: The material nature is a reality, after all. There are so many ways to explain this. I know you’re a big baseball fan. Think of the different positions on a team. There is the pitcher. There is the first baseman. They are both playing baseball. In that sense they are equal.
Friend2: Would you ever put the first baseman in to pitch? If you’re looking for a big hit late in the game, would you pinch-hit using the pitcher?
Friend1: Most likely not for either situation.
Friend1: The pitcher’s expertise is in throwing the ball. They may be a decent hitter, but not compared to the first baseman. The same for the other way around. The first baseman’s focus is on fielding their position and hitting for power, not necessarily varying their pitches to get a batter to swing and miss.
Friend2: Another example is the human being and the tiger. We know that the tiger is a spirit soul, Brahman at the core. Does this mean that we will go up to a tiger and start speaking about the federal budget deficit? Will we sit down and have lunch with the tiger?
Friend1: No, because the tiger will have us for lunch.
Friend2: But it’s a spirit soul. Are you saying that you are better than the tiger?
Friend1: Not better; just in a different material body.
Friend2: So it’s the same with the four varnas. People have different gunas, or material qualities. There is no way around this. It’s the reality of life. Not everyone is fit to lead. Not everyone is cut out for business. Not everyone can be a spiritual leader. You need laborers, as well. Everyone should work together to reach the ultimate goal of remembrance of God at the time of death. In Kali-yuga, through misunderstanding the purpose of the four varnas, there is dispute over classes. The person with the qualities of a lower class man thinks they should be just as respected as the high class man. Knowledge descending from authority in the spiritual science clears up the confusion.
As brahmana with equal vision to see,
So how thinking you’re better than me?
Distinctions and divisions always there,
Like tiger that it’s an animal not aware.
Though spirit soul not as human to treat,
Otherwise me for lunch soon to eat.
Different designations, should work together all,
To stay conscious of God, Krishna to recall.