Although of the highest mundane order, the qualifications of a brahmana are not transcendental

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"although of the highest mundane order, the qualifications of a brahmana are not transcendental"

Other Books by Srila Prabhupada

Message of Godhead

Although of the highest mundane order, the qualifications of a brāhmaṇa are not transcendental. How one can attain to the supreme transcendental knowledge simply by the performance of transcendental service to the Personality of Godhead is explained in the twenty-fourth verse of the fourth chapter of Bhagavad-gītā.
Message of Godhead 2:

If we examine human affairs in the light of the caste system as created by the Personality of Godhead, surely we can visualize the four social orders functioning in every part of the world. In every part of the globe, wherever there is human habitation, there are some persons who have the qualifications of brāhmaṇas, and there are others who have the qualifications of kṣatriyas, vaiśyas, and śūdras. The various modes of nature are persistent in every corner of the universe, and since brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, and so forth are simply products of the modes of nature, how can one say that the four castes do not exist in a particular part of the world? This is absurd. In every country and at all times there have been, there are, and there will be the four social orders, according to the modes of nature.

Those who persist in the theory that the four social orders called the caste system exist only in India are totally mistaken. In all other countries, also, there are the same orders of life, under some name or other. And thus everywhere in the world, even those who are far below the qualifications of an ordinary śūdra, the fourth social order, are eligible for the transcendental service of the Personality of Godhead, Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The spiritual perfection which a qualified brāhmaṇa attains by the transcendental service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa can also be attained by anyone, even in a lower status than that of śūdra, by the same process of transcendental service to Śrī Kṛṣṇa. For this reason, Śrī Kṛṣṇa, the all-attractive Personality of Godhead, is the Absolute Truth in all creation, and Śrīmad Bhagavad-gītā is the supreme scripture within the universe. According to other scriptures such as the Purāṇas, even a caṇḍāla, or a person of the fifth social order (lower than a śūdra), becomes more than a person of the first order (a brāhmaṇa) by dint of his transcendental devotional service. The confidential teachings of the Bhagavad-gītā are therefore meant for nothing but attaining the highest perfection of human life—the transcendental service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

So, regardless of caste, creed, or color, everyone must adopt the process of karma-yoga, or work with transcendental results. And by so doing, everyone shall help to spiritualize all the activities of the world. By such activities, both the performer and the work performed become surcharged with spirituality and transcend the modes of nature. And as his activities become spiritualized, the performer automatically attains the qualifications of the highest social order, the brāhmaṇas. In fact, one who becomes fully spiritualized is transcendental to the modes of nature, and thus he is more than a brāhmaṇa. After all, although of the highest mundane order, the qualifications of a brāhmaṇa are not transcendental. How one can attain to the supreme transcendental knowledge simply by the performance of transcendental service to the Personality of Godhead is explained in the twenty-fourth verse of the fourth chapter of Bhagavad-gītā. It is explained there that through performance of work with transcendental results, everything becomes spiritualized. Ācārya Śaṅkara's philosophy of "pantheism," which has spread a perverted interpretation of the Vedānta maxim that the Supreme Spirit is omnipresent, nonetheless has a practical bearing on the above verse.

There are various kinds of sacrifices that will be examined later on, but we should understand that the ultimate goal of all sacrifices is to please the Supreme Godhead, Viṣṇu. During our material existence, we have to deal with material objects, if only to keep body and soul together. But in all such material activities we can evoke the spiritual atmosphere, in terms of the Vedantic truth that the Supreme Spirit is omnipresent. This truth is imperfectly explained by the proponents of pantheism, the misconception that everything is the Supreme Spirit simply because the Supreme Spirit is everywhere. Once this misconception is cleared up and if we remember that the Supreme Spirit is indeed omnipresent, we can create a spiritual atmosphere by performing all our activities in relation to the Supreme Spirit, with everything directed by one who is a self-realized soul. Then the whole thing is transformed into spirit.

An example may be given here to illuminate the above process of spiritualization. When the iron is put into the fire and becomes red hot, the iron then develops the qualities of fire and stops functioning as iron. In the same way, when all our activities are done in terms of our relationship with Kṛṣṇa, then everything is surcharged with spiritualization. Because pleasing Kṛṣṇa has become our ultimate goal, all our activities have become spiritual activities. In a sacrifice there are five primary elements—namely, (1) the process of offering, (2) the offering itself, (3) the fire, (4) the sacrifice, and (5) the result of the sacrifice. When all of these elements become related with the Supreme Spirit, all of them become spiritualized; and at that time the whole thing becomes really a sacrifice. So when offered to the transcendental service of Śrī Kṛṣṇa, all the above-mentioned five elements become interrelated with Him, and thus they become totally spiritualized.

Therefore, learned men perform all their activities for transcendental results and thus direct all their activities toward the transcendental service of the Personality of Godhead. These genuinely purified souls actually control all their sensory activities and also master their true, spiritual self. Such spiritualized persons alone can show actual sympathy to the fallen in terms of the individual, the place, and the time. And in spite of performing apparently material activities, such spiritualized persons are free from the bondage of work. This process is explained in the seventh verse of the fifth chapter of Bhagavad-gītā: "Householders who perform their work with a view to transcendental results, out of sympathy for all others, are really eligible to become public leaders. All others who claim to be public leaders are mistaken."

The enemies of the karma-yogīs—who generally perform all works for self-satisfaction or sense gratification, and who are not in touch with the Supreme Spirit by the transcendental relationship of service—sometimes pose themselves as working according to the desire of the supreme will. As a matter of fact, they are pantheist pretenders, trying to cover their extravagancy by falsely labeling it transcendental service to Godhead. But those who are pure in heart—that is, those who have surrendered everything unto the lotus feet of the Personality of Godhead—remain aloof and separate from such easygoing pseudo transcendentalists, while giving them all respects that they may demand.