In the material world, there are three qualities: the quality of goodness, the quality of passion, and the quality of ignorance. And either human being or animal or demigods or American or Indian, everywhere these qualities are working

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"In the material world, there are three qualities: the quality of goodness, the quality of passion, and the quality of ignorance. And either human being or animal or demigods or American or Indian, everywhere these qualities are working"

Lectures

Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

In the material world, there are three qualities: the quality of goodness, the quality of passion, and the quality of ignorance. And either human being or animal or demigods or American or Indian, everywhere these qualities are working. So some of them are in the modes or quality of goodness, and some of them are in the quality of passion, and some of them are in the quality of ignorance. Those who are in the quality of goodness, they are called brāhmaṇas, or the intelligent class of men.
Lecture on BG 4.12-13 -- New York, July 29, 1966:

The Lord says that cātur-varṇyam, four castes or four divisions of human society. You have heard that there is caste system in India. There is caste system in India. There is caste system in India. Sometimes Indians are criticized by the outsiders that they have caste system. But here the Lord says the cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ: "This caste system is created by Me. This caste system is created by Me, how?" Guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ: "According to quality and according to work." That division in the human society, according to quality and according to work, is there in everywhere, everywhere in the world, not only everywhere in the world, but everywhere in the universe. God's creation cannot be stopped.

God's creation cannot be stopped. Just like in God's creation there is sun, there is moon, there is seasonal changes, nobody can stop this, similarly the cātur-varṇyam, according to quality and karma, that division prevails all over the universe, not only in India but also in your country also. In your country also.

And what are the divisions? Now, what are the guṇa and karma? The guṇa, the quality. There are three qualities. In the material world, there are three qualities: the quality of goodness, the quality of passion, and the quality of ignorance. And either human being or animal or demigods or American or Indian, everywhere these qualities are working. So some of them are in the modes or quality of goodness, and some of them are in the quality of passion, and some of them are in the quality of ignorance. Those who are in the quality of goodness, they are called brāhmaṇas, or the intelligent class of men. In Sanskrit language, because intelligence, intelligence does not mean to know, to have some knowledge of the material things. Intelligence means to know about the spiritual world also. That is intelligence.

Because as you know that I am combination of matter and spirit... I am spirit, and I am now entangled in this material body. I am spirit, consciousness. As soon as I am out of this body, I can distinguish or... I cannot distinguish because I will go away. You can distinguish that "Now this real Swamiji's spirit is gone; the Swamiji's material body is here." So it is very plain thing. Therefore we should not only have perfect knowledge of this matter, but we should have perfect knowledge of the spirit also, if we are actually intelligent. Therefore the brāhmaṇas... Why they are called brāhmaṇas? Brahma jānāti iti brāhmaṇaḥ. Brahmin, it is English transcription. But real word is brāhmaṇa, brāhmaṇa. And wherefrom this brāhmaṇa word comes? Brahma jānāti iti brāhmaṇaḥ. That means one who knows the spirit, the spiritual. One who has got complete knowledge of the spiritual world, he is called brāhmaṇa.

How one becomes brāhmaṇa? Now you will find distinctly that cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ: (BG 4.13) "The four divisions of qualitative divisions is set by Me according to quality and karma." Never says, "according to birth," you will find. "According to birth," it is not said here. Although in India it is now misrepresentated that a brāhmaṇa's son is trying to designate himself as brāhmaṇa, but according to Bhagavad-gītā, that is not sanctioned. Bhagavad-gītā says, "according to quality."