The process of bodily self-consciousness—the misunderstanding that I am this material body and mind and, for that matter, that I am part and parcel of this material world and that everything in this material world is thus an object for my enjoyment—does not allow me to become a transcendentalist or a really learned fellow. Up to this point, we have already discussed this transcendental knowledge somewhat. And on the basis of this preliminary discussion, the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, advises us to become spiritually inclined, to become transcendentalists. Then only can we understand that we are nothing whatsoever of this material world, that we are eternal, spiritual living entities. By such spiritual realization, disintegration of our material affinity naturally begins, and the more we become spiritually developed, the less we are affected by the happiness or distress that arise out of sense perception in contact with material association. The false ego created by material contact is then gradually vanquished, and this dismantling of false egoism causes liberation from all material designations and renewed awareness of our relationship with the Absolute Truth. This is called liberation in life.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Personality of Godhead, is the Absolute Truth. This is corroborated in all authentic scriptures. Our spiritual life begins to develop as soon as our relationship with Śrī Kṛṣṇa is reawakened. Śrī Kṛṣṇa is compared to the sun. The darkness of nescience disappears as soon as our relationship with Śrī Kṛṣṇa is established. With the appearance of Śrī Kṛṣṇa within our heart, we become cleansed of the impurities of material contact, much as the morning appears new and fresh with the appearance of the sun. This is not a concoction of childish imagination but a factual experience of spiritual realization. One who has sincerely followed the footsteps of Śrī Kṛṣṇa or His bona fide servants has also realized this simple truth.
But one who envies Śrī Kṛṣṇa and poses himself as a competitor of Śrī Kṛṣṇa—one with such a foolhardy and perverted mentality does not accept this statement of fact. Thus, without understanding the primacy of karma-yoga, the foolish mundaners indulge in unrestricted material activities resulting in bondage; their very work keeps them in the material existence of births and deaths perpetually. Such foolish mundaners actually envy Śrī Kṛṣṇa and deride Him as one who is like other mundaners. The truth about Śrī Kṛṣṇa does not easily enter into the perverted brain of such mundaners infected with the empiric approach to philosophy. But a devoted person faithfully understands just what is actually stated in the pages of Bhagavad-gītā and does not resort to imagination, or the empiric philosophical approach, generally called "spiritual interpretation." Only such a devoted person can accept the logic of fully surrendering unto Kṛṣṇa and can thus adopt the process of karma-yoga to escape the dangerous bondage of work.
There is nothing in the codes of Śrī Kṛṣṇa to stipulate that these devoted persons will make their appearance within the boundaries of a particular caste, creed, color, or country. These devoted persons can and do appear everywhere, without any restriction of caste, creed, color, or country. So everyone, whatever and whoever he may be, is eligible to be a devotee of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. To confirm this fact, in Bhagavad-gītā the Personality of Godhead says the following words: "O son of Pṛthā, even those who are faithless and are of lower birth—including fallen women or professional prostitutes, ignorant manual laborers, and the merchant class—all shall attain perfection and reach the Kingdom of God, if they actually take shelter of the devotional service of the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa." In other words, the unscrupulous caste system now dominant in the society of the asuras or the faithless cannot be any barrier to approaching Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the Absolute Personality of Godhead.
Śrī Kṛṣṇa Himself has enumerated the basic principles of a caste system that is real and universal. The four social orders (intellectual, administrative, mercantile, and laborer) are set by Him according to the qualities these persons have acquired through their actions under the modes of nature. So although in one sense He is the maker of this caste system all over the world, still, in another sense, He is to be understood as not its maker. That is, He is not the maker of a tyrannical and unnatural caste system in which the faithless dictate one's position according to one's birth. Rather, He is the maker of a caste system that is applicable universally, is voluntary and natural, and is based on one's qualities and abilities.
The four social orders—generally known as the "caste system" and consisting of the brāhmaṇas (priests and intellectuals), the kṣatriyas (administrators and soldiers), the vaiśyas (merchants and farmers), and the śūdras (laborers)—were never meant for a caste system by birthright. This system is universally applicable in terms of one's mundane, practical qualifications and personality traits. The classification of brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra is never made with reference to one's accidental birth—any more than someone could become a medical practitioner by some mere birthright, simply because he happened to be the son of a noted doctor. The real qualification of a medical practitioner can be obtained only through strenuous study of medical science for a considerably long period, and only upon completion of his studies can he take up the medical profession. Naturally, when a patient goes to a medical practitioner, he does not look at the birthright of the physician, but at his real, professional qualifications.