Bhagavad-gītā 2.31 , London , 1973-09-01

Pradyumna: Oṁ namo bhagavate vāsudevāya. [leads chanting of verse, etc.] [Prabhupāda and devotees repeat]

sva-dharmam api cāvekṣya
na vikampitum arhasi
dharmyāddhi yuddhāc chreyo 'nyat
kṣatriyasya na vidyate



Translation = "Considering your specific duty as a kṣatriya, you should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting on religious principles; and so there is no need for hesitation." [Bg. 2.31]

Prabhupāda: Hmm. Sva-dharmam. Sva means...

[aside to Pradyumna:] You finish?

Pradyumna: Yes.

Prabhupāda: Sva means "own," and dharmam means "occupation." Dharma means occupation and sva means own. Sva-dharmam: "one's own occupation." So according to Vedic civilization, everyone has his own sva-dharma. This has been misinterpreted by the rascals = "Sva-dharma means anyone can discover his own religious principle. Yato mata tato patha. Whatever you think is religious principle, that's all right." This is going on. But that is not the meaning. Sva-dharma means own occupation. Actually, dharma means which you cannot give up. Dhṛ-dhātu manu[?]. You have to capture it; to keep your existence you must capture it.

So because we have got body and soul, two different things... We are combination, body and soul. That is already explained very nicely in so many ways. So actually, sva-dharma means the occupation of the soul. Because in the material condition we do not understand what I am---whether I am this body or I am soul. Mostly people they do not know that one is soul, not this body. Body is the dress, or outward covering, external covering. Subtle covering and gross covering. But so long one is in the bodily concept of life, so one has got different occupational duty according to the conception of the body. So the nature is being conducted by three modes of nature. Therefore, according to one's nature there is occupational duty. That is scientific division. At the present moment there is no such division. Therefore gradually people are degrading to the lowest quality---ignorance, śūdra. They are taking to the śūdra principles.

Yesterday I was presented with a paper, Indian government scheme to help people starting small-scale industries, and government is ready to help.

[aside:] You sit cross-legged, not like that. All of you.

So a small industry, there are so many motor parts, so many other parts. About two hundred, three hundred items, government is ready to help a small industry. But the government does not know or the leaders do not know that to engage people in such industrial affair means to bring them to the śūdra platform. Śūdra platform. Every government is encouraging people how to become śūdra.

But actually, the human society must be divided into four parts, four divisions = brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra. Just like in our body there is division = the head department, the arms department, the belly department and the leg department. You cannot say, "Let there be only leg department. There is no use of head and arms and belly." Will that go on nicely? If your body, you cut off all other parts and simply keep the legs, will that be very nice proposal? Leg is required. But if you keep the body only by the legs, then this kind of body is dead body. Any part of the body, especially the head. If you cut off the head, then the body is altogether dead. You can cut off the arms, you can cut off the legs, but it is very difficult to cut off the belly also. Then it will be dead.

So, sva-dharma. Sva-dharma means the division, kṣatriya division of the society. The brāhmaṇa division, the kṣatriya division, the vaiśya division and the śūdra division. Everything is required. It is not that śūdra is not required. Śūdra is required, but if you make propaganda simply to make people śūdras, then who will give direction? If there is no head, who will give the direction? So a kṣatriya, kṣatriya has got a very difficult task = to see. Kṣatriya means government, the governing division. So the governing division has got a very important duty, to see that everyone is following his duty = the brāhmaṇa is following his duty, a kṣatriya is following his duty, vaiśya is following the duty, and śūdra... That is, government's duty is...

Just like in India nowadays it has become a secular government. Secular government means impartial to any religious system. But the government should not be so callous that in religious principle, let people do whatever he likes. No. The government cannot do so. You can say that "You are Hindu; you execute your own system of religion. You are Muslim; you can execute your system of religion. You are Christian; you follow your system of religion. You are Buddhist; you follow your system of religion." But the government cannot be callous that whatever they may follow or whatever they may not do, and government is neutral. No.

Anyone, if he is professing himself that "I am Hindu," then it is the government's duty to see whether he is actually executing the Hindu principles of religion. That is secular state. If you are calling himself a Muslim, then it is government's duty to see that whether actually you are following the Muslim principles of religion. If you are a Christian, it is the government's duty is to see that you are following the Christian principle of religion. Not that callous, "You can do whatever you like." No. Kṣatriya's duty is to see. The king, government's duty is to see.

Similarly, if one is claiming that he is a brāhmaṇa, it is the government's duty to see whether he's strictly following the brāhmaṇa principles = śamo damas titikṣā ārjavam, whether he is strictly following how to become self-controlled, how to remain always pure, clean, śuci. Brāhmaṇas' another name is śuci, always cleansed. Similarly ārjava, simplicity. Brāhmaṇa's life should be very simple. They should not imitate the kṣatriyas and the vaiśyas and the śūdras. So this principle, whether one is actually following the brahminical principle.

So here Kṛṣṇa is pointing out that "As a kṣatriya you must follow your principle, kṣatriya principle." What is kṣatriya principle? Kṣatriya principle is that dharmyāddhi yuddhāt, dharmyāddhi yuddhāc chreyo 'nyat kṣatriyasya na vidyate. Kṣatriya must be always prepared, and if required, to fight also, whether people are keeping their own principle of religion. That is kṣatriya's duty. He, if a brāhmaṇa is bluffing people that "I am brāhmaṇa," but he is acting as a śūdra, immediately kṣatriya should point out and offer him fight = "Why you are cheating people? Why you are cheating people?" Similarly, a kṣatriya is declaring himself that "I am kṣatriya," but he's acting as a śūdra, it is the kṣatriya's or the government's duty that "Why you are cheating people?"

So a kṣatriya's business is always prepared to fight. Fight means that to see that everyone is acting nicely. Because if you are not acting nicely, and if I say that "You are not acting nicely," you'll be angry. Mūrkhāsya upadeśa prakopāya na śāntaye [Hitopadeśa]. Because if one is actually brāhmaṇa, he must act as a brāhmaṇa. So if somebody says that "You are declaring yourself as brāhmaṇa but you are not following the brāhmaṇa principle," he will be angry. But a kṣatriya's duty is that if he is angry, he should be punished immediately. He should be punished immediately. Kṣatriya's yuddhāc, dharmyāddhi yuddhāt. He should challenge. Challenging means yuddha, fight. So kṣatriya cannot be nonviolent. It is not possible. Violence is also required to keep the social system strictly in order. Just like the government has violence department---the police department, the military department. That is required to keep up the society in order.

So here Kṛṣṇa says that "You are kṣatriya; your duty is to fight." Dharmyāddhi yuddhāt. "This fight arranged by Me in the battlefield of Kurukṣetra, because it is sanctioned by Me, it is dharma-yuddha, it is religious fighting." It is not the political diplomats declaring war to keep the people in ignorance. No. It is sanctioned by Kṛṣṇa. Whatever is sanctioned by Kṛṣṇa, that is dharma. Dharma, the explanation of dharma I have several times given you, that dharmaṁ hi sākṣād bhagavat-praṇītam: whatever God sanctions, that is dharma. So God, Kṛṣṇa, personally has sanctioned this Battle of Kurukṣetra. So therefore it is dharma, dharma-yuddha, religious fight. It is not ordinary fighting of the diplomats and the politicians. It is dharma-yuddha. So therefore He says, dharmyāddhi yuddhāc chreyo 'nyat kṣatriyasya na vidyate: "You are kṣatriya. You are fighting for the sake of religious system. That is the..., your first-class duty." Śreyaḥ.

So a kṣatriya... These four principles must be there in the society, brāhmaṇa, kṣat... The brāhmaṇa will not be required to fight. A brāhmaṇa will not be required to work like śūdra. A brāhmaṇa will not be required to work like vaiśya. Therefore brāhmaṇa can beg. Paṭhana pāṭhana yajana yājana dāna pratigrahaḥ. This is brāhmaṇa's business. He must be good scholar in Vedic literature and he must teach others. Not that "I have learned everything; I'll not teach anything." No.

Brāhmaṇa must be well versed in the Vedic literature and he must preach also, make others also brāhmaṇa, paṭhana pāṭhana. Not that "I have become brāhmaṇa, so there is no need of others becoming brāhmaṇa. There will be competition." Just like in India they have become very much afraid that I am making Europeans and Americans brāhmaṇas, so they are very much against me. They come to fight with me. So in Hyderabad they came to fight = "Sir, you are making brāhmaṇas, these Europeans and Americans? This is not good." "And why not?" So we had some discussion.

So actually it is not that brāhmaṇa is made by birth. Brāhmaṇa means cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ [Bg. 4.13] = by quality and work. Similarly, everything, by quality and work. This is confirmed by Nārada Muni:

yasya yal lakṣaṇaṁ proktaṁ
puṁso varṇābhivyañjakam
yad anyatrāpi dṛśyeta
tat tenaiva vinirdiśet

Yad anyatra. If the brahminical qualities are visible, manifest, elsewhere... Elsewhere... May be he's śūdra, may be caṇḍāla. Tat tenaiva vinirdiśet. So you..., one should accept him as brāhmaṇa. Similarly, if one is born in brāhmaṇa family but his qualities are like śūdra, tat tenaiva vinirdiśet [SB 7.11.35], he should be accepted as śūdra. This is the injunction given by Nārada Muni, not ordinary person. Tat tenaiva vinirdiśet. And upon this, the greatest authority of comment on Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, Śrīdhara Svāmī, he has commented that janma, birth, is not the chief requisition to become... Śama-damādi. One must be qualified with śamo damas titikṣāḥ śuci. Then he should be accepted. So it is the duty of the kṣatriya. Unfortunately, the so-called government men, they are also śūdras. The so-called priests, they are also śūdras. The so-called vaiśyas, they are śūdras. The whole world is now full of śūdras. So you cannot expect anything very nice in this situation, because everything is being conducted by śūdras.

So Kṛṣṇa is advising Arjuna that "This fight is not ordinary fight. It is dharma-yuddha, and you should accept it; you should not hesitate. After all, the soul is never killed. It is the duty, it is the duty of different dharma." Sva-dharma. Sva-dharma means so long one is in the bodily concept of life... This sva-dharma means this brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra. This is sva-dharma. And Arjuna belonged to the kṣatriya; therefore his sva-dharma, his occupational duty, is to fight. So... And real sva-dharma is spiritual sva-dharma. In the spiritual, so when you go deep into the matter, when you understand that "I am not this body; I am soul," then that is real sva-dharma. And what is the occupation of that sva-dharma? That is to be engaged in the service of the Lord. Jīvera svarūpa haya nitya-kṛṣṇa-dāsa [Cc. Madhya 20.108-109]. Actually that is sva-dharma. Every soul is eternally servant of Kṛṣṇa. That is spiritual sva-dharma. And material sva-dharma means this brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra.

Therefore the sva-dharma changes. Sva-dharma changes as soon as one is elevated to the spiritual platform. That is explained in the Bhagavad-gītā = sa guṇān samatītya etān brahma-bhūyāya kalpate [Bg. 14.26]. Who? Brahma-bhūyāya kalpate: one who is engaged in devotional service. A devotee's position is transcendental. He has no..., no more sva-dharma in the bodily concept of life, because he's neither brāhmaṇa, neither kṣatriya, nor vaiśya, nor śūdra. Caitanya Mahāprabhu has said that "I am not a brāhmaṇa. I am not a śūdra. I am not a kṣatriya. I am not a brahmacārī. I am not a sannyāsī." In this way He negativated all the eight items, because sva-dharma means varṇāśrama dharma. Varṇa and āśrama. Four castes = brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra.

And four spiritual order = brahmacārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa. So Caitanya Mahāprabhu denied, that "I am not this, I am not this, I am not that, I am not that." Then what You are? Gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayor dāsa-dāsānudāsaḥ [Cc. Madhya 13.80]. Jīvera svarūpa haya nitya-kṛṣṇa-dāsa [Cc. Madhya 20.108-109]. Gopī-bhartuḥ means this maintainer of the gopīs, Kṛṣṇa. Gopī-bhartuḥ. Gopī-bhartuḥ pada-kamalayoḥ [Cc. Madhya 13.80] = "I am the lotus..., servant of the servant of the servant of the servant who is engaged in the service of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa."

So this is... Those who are in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, those who have decided to serve Kṛṣṇa only, they are no longer in the categories of sva-dharma, the bodily sva-dharma, brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra, or brahmacārī, vānaprastha. He is transcendental. That is confirmed in every śāstra. So, so far we are concerned, Kṛṣṇa conscious, so long our bodily concept of life is not completely eradicated, we must follow the sva-dharma of the body = brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra, ity ādi. But when actually advanced, that is mahā-bhāgavata. We should not imitate that, but our process is the more we advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we become transcendental to this bodily concept of life, brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra. But Kṛṣṇa says,

māṁ ca 'vyabhicāreṇa
bhakti-yogena yaḥ sevate
sa guṇān samatītyaitān
brahma-bhūyāya kalpate

So anyone who engages himself, without any reservation, to the service of the Lord, he is not within the category of these eight varṇāśrama-dharma. He's transcendental. Sa brahma-bhūyāya kalpate. So as a Kṛṣṇa consciousness person, he can act like anything by the order of Kṛṣṇa. He can act as a brāhmaṇa, he can act as a śūdra---because his main business is to carry out Kṛṣṇa's order. He's no longer within the category of this sva-dharma. So Kṛṣṇa, asking Arjuna, that "If you are thinking in the bodily concept of life, then also..." Means, "First of all, when I have ordered, I have sanctioned, you can work it beyond the bodily concept of life. But if you are thinking still that you are in the bodily concept of life, then, as a kṣatriya, it is your duty to fight."

Kṛṣṇa is trying to put Arjuna in the dilemma, "This way or that way, you must have to fight. If you think that you are not in bodily concept of life, then it is My order, 'You must fight.' And if you think that you are in bodily concept of life, then you are a kṣatriya, you must fight. Both ways you have to fight." This is Kṛṣṇa's conclusion.

Thank you very much. [end]