Bhagavad-gītā 4.15 , Bombay , 1974-04-04

Pradyumna: [leads chanting of verse, etc.]

evaṁ jñātvā kṛtaṁ karma
pūrvair api mumukṣubhiḥ
kuru karmaiva tasmāt tvaṁ
pūrvaiḥ pūrvataraṁ kṛtam

[break] [01:11]

Translation = "All the liberated souls in ancient times acted with this understanding and so attained liberation. Therefore, as the ancients, you should perform your duty in this divine consciousness."


evaṁ jñātvā kṛtaṁ karma
pūrvair api mumukṣubhiḥ
kuru karmaiva tasmāt tvaṁ
pūrvaiḥ pūrvataraṁ kṛtam

Now, in this verse three times, four times, the word has been used, pūrvataram, pūrvatamaiḥ. Kuru karmaiva tasmāt tvaṁ pūrvaiḥ pūrvataraṁ kṛtam. Pūrva, pūrvataram, pūrvatama: comparative, superlative and positive. So this is the process that we have to follow the previous ācāryas. That is Vedic system. In the very beginning of this chapter Kṛṣṇa said, evaṁ paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ [Bg. 4.2]. We haven't got to make any research, modern understanding. There is no question of modern understanding. We are all following the old, ancient understanding. Now, even from ordinary platform, the eating, sleeping, mating and defending, is that modern? It is not modern. Formerly also, all living entities were eating, they were sleeping, they were having sex intercourse and they were defending. The main business is... Nothing is modernized. You can say modernized, but the principle is the same, old system. Nobody can change. The people are dying also, janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi [Bg. 13.9]. That is also the old system. Everyone is taking birth, everyone is growing, everyone is falling diseased and everyone is dying. Can the modern system stop this? The modern system can say, "Now you do not require to eat, you do not require to sleep," or "You do not require to have sex," or "You do not require to defend"? No. The same system. "The old wine in a new bottle." Similarly, janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi, five thousand years before, Kṛṣṇa said... This is real problem = janma-mṛtyu-jarā-vyādhi-duḥkha-doṣānudarśanam. The same problem is still going on.

So it is useless to say that modern time, modern ways, modern things. There is nothing modern. The old thing is going on. So if we follow systematically the previous ācāryas, previous system, as Kṛṣṇa is advising... Kṛṣṇa does not advise, "Modern." Five thousand years ago He instructed Bhagavad-gītā. Still, He was saying pūrva pūrvataraiḥ, pūrvatamaiḥ. Evaṁ paramparā-prāptam imaṁ rājarṣayo viduḥ [Bg. 4.2]. This is intelligence. We have to accept the real truth and follow it. It does not mean modern age or previous age, past age. That is not Vedic system. The old system is going on, everything. The sun is also the old. The sun is rising as it was doing in olden times. The moon is also rising. The years and season are changing. Everything is going on. Why we should not accept the system of Vedic knowledge, the oldest of all in the world? There is no history. That is intelligence.

So Kṛṣṇa is advising here, evaṁ jñātvā kṛtaṁ karma pūrvair api mumukṣubhiḥ. What Kṛṣṇa said? That the karma should be divided according to the quality of the person. There are three qualities---sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa, tamo-guṇa---of the material world. Guṇa-mayī māyā. Daivī hy eṣā guṇa-mayī mama māyā [Bg. 7.14]. So guṇa-mayī. Guṇa means the three qualities = sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa, tamo-guṇa. And guṇa, another, means rope. Just like strong rope, three, three ropes. You take three ropes and wind it, it becomes very strong. That is also guṇa-mayī. So Kṛṣṇa advised, cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ [Bg. 4.13]. So guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ, guṇa, quality, is there. Now you act according to the quality. Don't be idle.

Now at the modern age, in every country all over the world, there is unemployment. Why unemployment? Because people do not know how to divide the population according to guṇa and karma. One is qualified as a śūdra, and he is engaged in the business of a kṣatriya. There is problem. The people are educated as śūdras, and when they are called for recruiting for the armies, they are afraid. The problem is very acute in America. Nobody wants to join military department. Why they will join? They have been trained up as śūdra, and why they will be like the business of kṣatriya? That is the problem. Everyone wants to avoid. Actually, the hippie movement is started on account of this..., what is this?

Devotees: Draft.

Prabhupāda: Draft, yes. Young men, they want to avoid it, and they are forced. Therefore they take the part of madman or lunatic, in this way. This is going on, to avoid it. So that is the problem. People should be trained up according to quality and work. There must be institution to train first-class men. There are first-class men, intellectuals. They should be trained up as brāhmaṇas. That is the system. Second-class men, they should be trained up as kṣatriyas. Third-class men, they should be trained up as vaiśyas. And fourth-class men, means below third class, they should be engaged as śūdras, worker, and below them, caṇḍāla. That I have already explained. So nobody should be left alone. Everyone should be engaged. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Everyone should be engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness business. Then there will be no unemployment.

First-class men, let them become scholars, philosophers, preachers, instructors, brahminical business. Paṭhana pāṭhana yajana yājana dāna pratigrahaḥ. These are the six businesses for the brāhmaṇa class. They should be highly educated, paṭhana, highly learned; and pāṭhana, and they should educate others also. But if he is not educated, how he will educate others? Paṭhana pāṭhana yajana yājana. He should be worshiper of the Supreme Lord, yajana; and yājana, he should instruct others also.

yuktasya bhaktāṁś ca niyuñjato 'pi
vande guroḥ śrī-caraṇāravindam

Śrī-vigraha. This is yajana yājana. Śrī-vigraha. This is śrī-vigraha, Kṛṣṇa's arcā-mūrti. Kṛṣṇa has taken, advented, as avatāra, arcā-avatāra. Arcā-avatāra means made of stone, wood, metal, jewel, or coloring, painting. There are eight kinds of arcā-avatāra. So Kṛṣṇa has consented to descend before us to accept our service in a manner which we can do. If Kṛṣṇa remains in His virāḍ-rūpa, then it will be very difficult to capture Him. Kṛṣṇa remains in virāḍ-rūpa, but He becomes arcā-vigraha, a small Deity, so that everyone can worship Him at home. It does not take much time, it does not take much place. To make dress of Kṛṣṇa you can utilize little cloth. Kṛṣṇa is agreeable to accept your service. And offering? Patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ yo me bhaktyā prayacchati [Bg. 9.26]. At any means you can worship Kṛṣṇa, and that is the business of brāhmaṇa and Vaiṣṇava.

Brāhmaṇa... Brahma jānāti. One must know what is Kṛṣṇa. Paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ para... [Bg. 10.12]. Brahma. Brahma jānātīti brāhmaṇaḥ. One who is aware of Kṛṣṇa, what is Kṛṣṇa, he is above brāhmaṇa---brāhmaṇa qualification is already there, because a brāhmaṇa means one who knows Kṛṣṇa, Para-brahman. That is brāhmaṇa. Brahma jānātīti brāhmaṇaḥ. Veda-pāṭhād bhaved vipro brahma jānātīti brāhmaṇaḥ. Janmanā jāyate śūdraḥ saṁskārād bhaved dvijaḥ, veda-pāṭhād bhaved vipro brahma jānātīti brāhmaṇaḥ. This is the process. Janmanā, by birth, everyone is śūdra or caṇḍāla. Those who are satisfied that "I have taken birth in my brāhmaṇa family, so now my business is over," no. Janmanā jāyate śūdraḥ. The birth by the father and mother, that is śūdra; that is not brāhmaṇa. Saṁskāra. If a man is born brāhmaṇa, then why there is necessity of sacred thread ceremony? No. That is the saṁskāra. Saṁskāra means the sacred thread is the symbol. It is offered by the ācārya. It is the certificate that "This boy has been trained up as a brāhmaṇa." Therefore the sacred thread is a symbolic presentation. Not that to purchase one two-paisa–worth sacred thread and one becomes brāhmaṇa. No.

Now, of course, in Kali-yuga... Vipratve sūtram eva hi. In Kali-yuga this will go on. Vipratve. A brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, śūdra..., brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, simply purchase one thread from the market and get it on your body and you become. Vipratve sūtram eva hi. No, that is not actually. It is a qualification and it is certificate. One who has got the sacred thread, that means... Just like in our Vedic system, one has got the red mark on the forehead, one woman, it is to be understood that she is married. Similarly, one who has got the sacred thread means that he has approached qualified ācārya, and the ācārya has recognized him as brāhmaṇa. This is sacred thread, not that purchase one sacred thread and get it and become a brāhmaṇa. No. This is very important thing.

And then divide. First of all educate. Where is that education? Of course, this is meant for... At least in India, Indians should be educated as brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, śūdra. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu's mission.

bhārata-bhūmite manuṣya-janma haila yāra
janma sārthaka kari' kara para-upakāra

[Cc. Ādi 9.41]

This is Caitanya Mahāprabhu's mission. Anyone who has taken birth in India, he must take the Vedic culture. The Vedic culture is described here by Kṛṣṇa, the master of the Vedas, vedānta-vid vedānta-kṛt cāham. That supreme Vedāntist. Kṛṣṇa says in the Fifteenth Chapter that vedānta-vit: "I am the knower, supreme knower of the Vedānta." Vedānta-vit and vedānta-kṛt: "I am the compiler of the Vedānta." So wherefrom you'll learn Vedānta? From Kṛṣṇa. Vedaiś ca sarvair aham eva vedyaḥ [Bg. 15.15]. This is the formula.

So one who knows Kṛṣṇa, he is vedānta-vit, because he has learned the Vedānta philosophy. What is that Vedānta philosophy? Veda means knowledge, and anta means the end. So Vedānta means the end, the end of all knowledge. What is that end of all knowledge? Bahūnāṁ janmanām ante jñānavān māṁ prapadyate [Bg. 7.19] = "After many, many births, when actually one is wise, Vedāntist," māṁ prapadyate, "he surrenders unto Me." Vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti sa mahātmā su-durlabhaḥ [Bg. 7.19] = "Such kind of mahātmā is very, very rare, one who knows," vāsudevaḥ sarvam iti, "Vāsudeva, Kṛṣṇa, is the origin of everything."

ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo
mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate
iti matvā bhajante māṁ
budhā bhāva-samanvitāḥ

These are the knowledge. One who knows that Kṛṣṇa is the origin, cause of all causes... Govindam ādi-puruṣaṁ tam ahaṁ bhajāmi.

īśvaraḥ paramaḥ kṛṣṇaḥ
anādir ādir govindaḥ

[Bs. 5.1]

Cause of all causes. When one is fully aware of this, he is brāhmaṇa Vaiṣṇava. Brahma jānātīti brāhmaṇa. This brahma jānāti means paraṁ brahma is Kṛṣṇa. One who knows what is Kṛṣṇa, "Kṛṣṇa is the origin. He's the original cause of all causes," sarva-kāraṇa-kāraṇam [Bs. 5.1], so he is brāhmaṇa. He is Vedāntist. He knows everything. And if he acts like that, then what to speak...

That is advised here = evaṁ jñātvā kṛtaṁ karma pūrvair api mumukṣubhiḥ. Evaṁ jñātvā. First of all it is the business of brāhmaṇa to understand. So if you cannot understand, then you do the business of kṣatriya. If you cannot do that, then do the business of a vaiśya. And if you cannot do that, then remain as a worker, assist others, assist the brāhmaṇa, the kṣatriya. So everyone will be engaged. And it is the duty of the government to see that nobody is unemployed. Then it will be devil's workshop. There will be so much movement, Communist movement, this movement, that movement, because everyone is not employed. The unemployment, devil's workshop, that is breeding so many isms and that... Otherwise, if anyone is engaged into work, his brain will not be a devil's workshop. He will work something.

So this is Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, that everyone should be employed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. That I am repeatedly saying to my students, that "Nobody sit idly. You must be engaged, either as a brāhmaṇa or as a kṣatriya or as a vaiśya or at last, as a śūdra. But there must be..." But anyone who is engaged in the business of... Superficially, it may be the brāhmaṇa's business, but in Kṛṣṇa consciousness there is no such difference. Even though one is sweeping the temple, it may be śūdra's business, but he can be allowed to worship the Deity, the brāhmaṇa's business. Because a devotee is neither brāhmaṇa, neither kṣatriya, nor vaiśya, nor śūdra, because he is above. He is in the transcendental position. But in this material world, guṇa-karma, if one is not fit for performing the work as a brāhmaṇa, he can work as a śūdra, he can work as a vaiśya. But employment must be there for Kṛṣṇa. That is Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. Employment must be there.

So our Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, this system is being followed. We have got a very nice business, Spiritual Sky. We are making good profit, millions of dollars. Therefore our expenditure is going on. We sell our books and we sell our Spiritual Sky products. In this way, we meet not less than eight to ten lakhs of rupees' expenditure per month, this Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement. We are not idle; neither we allow anyone to become idle. It is not this business, that go to the temple and ring the bell and close the door and go to smoke gāñjā. No, it is not like that. It is not like that. Everyone is engaged fully, twenty-four hours, kīrtanīya sadā hariḥ. That is explained here:

evaṁ jñātvā kṛtaṁ karma
pūrvair api mumukṣubhiḥ
kuru karmaiva tasmāt tvaṁ
pūrvaiḥ pūrvataraṁ kṛtam

So we have to follow. Now, follow pūrvataraiḥ. Now, we are listening Bhagavad-gītā. So Bhagavad-gītā was first heard by the Vivasvān, the sun-god. So giving aside sun-god, we can take at least Arjuna. Pūrvataraiḥ, mahadbhiḥ. Arjuna is mahat, mahat. Sa mahātmā su-dur..., because he knows Kṛṣṇa. Śiṣyas te 'haṁ śādhi māṁ tvāṁ prapannam [Bg. 2.7]. He surrendered to Kṛṣṇa for solution of the problem, whether he was to fight or not to fight. So Kṛṣṇa instructed directly, and Kṛṣṇa certified him, bhakto 'si me priyo 'si [Bg. 4.3] = "You are My dear friend. You are My devotee. Therefore I shall talk to you the mystery." Rahasyam etad uttamam, Bhagavad-gītā. So take the lesson from Arjuna, how he acted, how he understood Bhagavad-gītā. Then pūrvataraiḥ. You don't have to go very long, long before. You take the symbolical representation of Kṛṣṇa, Arjuna.

So how did he understood? How he did understand Kṛṣṇa? He understood Kṛṣṇa = paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān [Bg. 10.12]. So you understand like that. Why do you misinterpret, "Oh there is no Kṛṣṇa, there is no battlefield. It is all fictitious. It is..., I can make my own commentary, you can make your own..."? Why all this nonsense? Pūrvataraiḥ. Just Arjuna did, Arjuna accepted, accept like that. Then your Bhagavad-gītā reading is perfect. Otherwise simply wasting your time and misleading others, "This meaning is this, meaning is that, meaning is that." Why meaning is that? What right you have got to say like that? But these rascals are doing and spoiling the whole country. You see? Misinterpreting. There is no misinterpretation. Try to understand Bhagavad-gītā as it is. Your life will be successful. So try to follow Arjuna. Mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ [Cc. Madhya 17.186]. Dharmasya tattvaṁ nihitaṁ guhāyāṁ mahājano yena gataḥ sa panthāḥ. [aside:] Take this.

So the śāstra says, tarko 'pratiṣṭhaḥ: "If you simply want to know what is self-realization, what is religion, simply by argument, logic, it is not possible." Tarko 'pratiṣṭhaḥ śrutayo vibhinnāḥ: "If you want to learn by studying scriptures, Vedic literature, you will find different scriptures," Sāma, Yajur, Ṛg, Atharva, then different Purāṇas. There are eighteen Purāṇas, Mahābhārata. That is also impossible; means you cannot understand. Śrutayo vibhinnā nāsāv ṛṣir yasya mataṁ na bhinnam. But if you philosophize, following some philosopher... There are six kinds of philosophers in India. So philosopher means he must decry another philosopher, that he must give a new theory. So nāsāv ṛṣir yasya mataṁ na bhinnam [Mahābhārata, Vana-parva 313.117]. That will also not help. Dharmasya tattvaṁ nihitaṁ guhāyām. It is very confidential subject matter. Mahājano yena gataḥ so panthāḥ. Then you accept the mahājana. Mahājana means following the paramparā system.

According to Vedic system, there are twelve mahājanas = svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ kumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ, janako bhīṣmaḥ and vaiyāsakir vayam [SB 6.3.20], like that. I am just now forgetting. Excuse me. Svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ kapilo kumāraḥ manuḥ, prahlādo janako bhīṣmaḥ. Prahlāda, Prahlāda Mahārāja, this gṛhastha. Amongst these mahājanas, there are sannyāsīs, there are brahmacārīs, and there are gṛhasthas also. So it does not mean only the sannyāsī and brahmacārī can become mahājana. There are gṛhasthas also, just like Prahlāda Mahārāja is gṛhastha. Brahmā is gṛhastha. Svayambhū. Svayambhū. Nārada is brahmacārī. Svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhu. Śambhu, Lord Śiva, is also gṛhastha. Svayambhūr nāradaḥ kumāraḥ, brahmacārī, four Kumāras, from the birth, naiṣṭhika-brahmacārī. Kapila, Kapila is also brahmacārī. Svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ kumāraḥ kapilo manuḥ. Manu is gṛhastha. Similarly, Prahlāda Mahārāja is also gṛhastha. Prahlādo janakaḥ. Janaka Mahārāja is also gṛhastha. Bhīṣma, brahmacārī. Bhīṣma. Bali, Bali Mahārāja, gṛhastha. Vaiyāsaki, a brahmacārī. So it doesn't matter whether one is brahmacārī, sannyāsī or gṛhastha, he must know the science.

Just like if you go to a scientist man, you don't inquire whether he is a brahmacārī or a sannyāsī or gṛhastha. You require the knowledge. That is also confirmed by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu says,

kibā vipra, kibā śūdra, nyāsī kene naya
yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā, sei 'guru' haya

[Cc. Madhya 8.128]

It doesn't matter whether one is a brāhmaṇa, kibā vipra; kibā śūdra, or one is śūdra; kibā vipra, kibā nyāsī, kene naya, or whether he is a sannyāsī. Yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā: one must know the science of Kṛṣṇa. The science of Kṛṣṇa is being explained by Kṛṣṇa Himself. So in whatever position you are, you try to understand the science of Kṛṣṇa. Then you become guru. That is Caitanya Mahāprabhu's mission.

āmāra ājñāya guru hañā tāra' sarva deśa
yāre dekha, tāre kaha 'kṛṣṇa'-upadeśa

[Cc. Madhya 7.128]

This is Caitanya Mahāprabhu's mission. He says, "You become a spiritual master." "How? I have no qualification." "No. You just accept My order." "So what is Your order, Sir?" Yāre dekha, tāre kaha 'kṛṣṇa'-upadeśa [Cc. Madhya 7.128] = "You simply speak the instruction of Kṛṣṇa whoever you meet. Then you become a spiritual master."

So actually it is happening. We are not wonderful men. But our only business is that we are speaking only the same thing as Kṛṣṇa has spoken. That's all. There is no magic. This is the magic. If you adulterate nonsensically like a rascal, then you cannot become a spiritual master. If you simply follow what Kṛṣṇa has spoken, then you become spiritual master. Very simple thing. It doesn't require education. You can hear from your spiritual master what has Kṛṣṇa said. It doesn't require even literacy. There are many great personalities, saintly person. My Guru Mahārāja's Guru Mahārāja, he was illiterate, Gaura Kṛṣṇa [sic] dāsa Bābājī Mahārāja. He could not sign even his name. But my Guru Mahārāja was the best scholar of his time. He accepted him as guru.

So this is the process, that yei kṛṣṇa-tattva-vettā sei guru haya. That is the business of every Indian. And Caitanya Mahāprabhu therefore asking,

bhārata-bhūmite haila manuṣya-janma yāra
janma sārthaka kari' kara para-upakāra

[Cc. Ādi 9.41]

Indians are meant for para-upakāra, because outside India they are in darkness. But unfortunately, Indians are now imitating the Western kind of life. It is very regrettable. You have to make your life successful by reading Bhagavad-gītā and preach the truth all over the world. Then world will be happy and you will be happy. This is required. Yāre dekha, tāre kaha 'kṛṣṇa'-upadeśa. That is recommended here, evaṁ jñātvā kṛtaṁ karma pūrvair api mumukṣubhiḥ. This kind of business can be done by whom? Mumukṣubhiḥ, not ordinary men. Those who are aspiring after liberation. Those who are thinking of stopping this nonsense business of repetition of birth and death, for them. They are not ordinary men. Mumukṣubhiḥ.

When Viśvāmitra Muni approached Mahārāja Daśaratha for help, taking Rāmacandra and Lakṣmaṇa for killing that rākṣasī... Viśvāmitra Muni could kill that rākṣasī, but because he was brāhmaṇa, it was not his business to kill. He begged help from Mahārāja Daśaratha to lend Lord Rāmacandra and Lakṣmaṇa, to take Him there. This is the systematic way. The brāhmaṇas should be engaged in knowledge and distributing knowledge. That means their business is not fighting. The kṣatriyas, they should fight. The killing business is meant for the kṣatriya. That is also required. Evam... Cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭam [Bg. 4.13]. The first of all... Unless this division is there, that is animal society. That is not human society if these four divisions are not there. Varṇāśramācāravatā puruṣeṇa. Systematic human society means,

puruṣeṇa paraḥ pumān
viṣṇur ārādhyate punsam
nānyat tat-toṣa-kāraṇam

[Cc. Madhya 8.58]

This is required, varṇāśrama. That is again confirmed here, evaṁ jñātvā kṛtaṁ karma pūrvair api mumukṣubhiḥ. Mumukṣubhiḥ. The real business is mumukṣā, how to get out of this business of repetition of birth. People do not know it. They do not know what is the aim of life. The aim of life is mumukṣā. This human life is meant for that, to get out of the cycle of birth and death. The animal cannot know this. Therefore it is called mumukṣubhiḥ, "one who wants to get rid of this business of repetition of birth and death." Mumukṣubhiḥ.

Kuru karmaiva tasmāt tvam. That is advice of Kṛṣṇa to Arjuna, that "You follow the previous ācāryas, previous personalities, authorities," just like svayambhūr nāradaḥ śambhuḥ, I have already described. "You follow them, and act like that, and you try to understand that what is My position. If you simply understand My position, immediately you become liberated." Janma karma me divyaṁ yo jānāti tattvataḥ, tyaktvā dehaṁ punar janma naiti. This is liberation. If you simply understand, try to understand Kṛṣṇa, why Kṛṣṇa comes, what is His instruction, why He says yadā yadā hi dharma, these things, if you simply understand, then you become liberated person.

And this is required in human life to be liberated. What is this nonsense business, sometimes human being, sometimes cat, sometimes dog? But they do not know. But this is a fact, that dehino 'smin yathā dehe kaumāraṁ yau..., tathā dehāntara [Bg. 2.13]. You have to change your body, transmigrate, but change for the better, or stop this change, go back to home, back to Godhead. That is required.

Thanking you very much. Hare Kṛṣṇa.

Devotees: Haribol Prabhupāda. [end]