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ANNOUNCER: The following is a
class on the Bhagavad-gītā As It
Is, 4th chapter, text number 17,
given by His Divine Grace A. C.
Bhaktivedanta Swami
Prabhupāda, recorded on April 5,
1974 in Bombay, India.

PRADYUMNA: (leads chanting)
Translation: “Even the intelligent
are bewildered in determining
what is action and what is
inaction. Now I shall explain to
you what action is, knowing
which you shall be liberated from
all sins.”


kiṁ karma kim akarmeti kavayo
’py atra mohitāḥ tat te karma
pravakṣyāmi yaj jñātvā mokṣyase

So…. so again the same
beginning. Cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā
sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ
[Bg. 4.13]. Everything is being
spoken on that basis. Now,
everyone has to work. Kṛṣṇa
never says to Arjuna that “You
haven’t got to work. I am your
friend. I am the Supreme
Personality of Godhead. You
simply sleep, and I shall do
everything for you.” He never
said like that. He could say that.
Just like modern, rascal
incarnation of Gods, they say to
their devotees that “You simply
think of me. I shall do everything
for you.” But Kṛṣṇa never said
that. Kṛṣṇa said that man-manā
bhava mad-bhakto mad-yājī
māṁ namaskuru [Bg. 18.65], but
never said that “You sit down
idly.” Never said that. Kṛṣṇa,
rather, said that “You better do
akarma than sit down idly. Even
you do something mischievous,
that is also good than to sit down
idly.” He never said. Karmaṇy
evādhikāras te mā phaleṣu kadā…
Simply He said that “You work.
You have got the right to work
according to your capacity,
according to your position.” That
position is brāhmaṇa position,
kṣatriya position, vaiśya position,
śūdra position. In any position,
you work, but the result should
be given to Kṛṣṇa. That is wanted.

That is tyāga. Tyāga means to
give up the result to Kṛṣṇa. That
is sannyāsa. Sat-nyāsa. Sat means
the Supreme. And anyone who
renounces everything for Kṛṣṇa,
the Supreme, he is sannyāsī. That
will be explained in the Fifth
Chapter. Kāryaṁ karma karoti
yaḥ. Anāśritaḥ karma-phalaṁ
kāryaṁ karma karoti yaḥ, sa
sannyāsī. Kāryam, “It is my duty.”

Just like we have got in our
institution specified duties for
each and every member, and
they are doing, and if… They take
it seriously, every one of them,
that it is the order and duty. “My
Guru Mahārāja has specified this
duty upon me. So it is my duty.”
Kāryam. Kāryam means “It is my
duty. I must do it.” So anāśritaḥ
karma-phalaṁ kāryaṁ karma
karoti… That he is trained up.
According to varṇāśrama-
dharma, that is trained up.

A brahmacārī, from the very
beginning of his life, he is trained
to act only for guru. That is
brahmacārī. It is enjoined that a
brahmacārī live at the shelter, at
the care of guru just like a menial
servant. Kṛṣṇa also, although He
is the Supreme Personality of
Godhead, when He was living as
brahmacārī at His guru’s house,
Sāndīpani Muni, He was
collecting wood, fuel, from the
jungle. He was going daily. It is
not that because He was
Personality of Godhead,
therefore He should not go. No.
You will find in the Śrīmad-
Bhāgavatam, Kṛṣṇa Book, that
when Sudāmā Vipra met him, he
was talking with Him about His
childhood stories. Kṛṣṇa
reminded him, “Sudāmā, do you
remember that one day we went
to collect fuel for our Guru
Mahārāja, and there was storm
and rain, and we could not get
out of the forest. We had to live
overnight there. Then on the
morning Guru Mahārāja came
with other disciples and they
recovered us from the jungle. Do
you remember?” So Kṛṣṇa had to
do this. This is training.

A brahmacārī is trained up from
the very beginning how to
become a sannyāsī at the end of
life. How he is trained up? He is
trained up to collect for guru
alms. Everywhere the brahmacārī
would go to householder, and
they ask, “Mother, give us some
alms for my Guru Mahārāja.” And
the ladies would give him.
Because everyone’s son goes to
the gurukula. So there was no
hesitation. And the brahmacārī
would collect and bring it in the
āśrama, and then he should live
just like a menial servant. He may
be a king’s son or a very learned
brāhmaṇa’s son, but when he
lives at gurukula, he has to work.

It is said in the śāstra… In
Bhagavad-gītā, in Śrīmad-
Bhāgavatam you will find the
duty of brahmacārī, the duty of
gṛhastha, the duty of
vānaprastha, the duty of
sannyāsa. Everything is there. So
a brahmacārī is trained in such a
way that although he has
collected everything, but he does
not claim anything. He does not
keep anything with him. Even
though he has to eat in the
āśrama, but that he will eat upon
the calling by the guru, “My dear
such and such, please come and
take your prasādam.” It is said, if
the guru forgets to call him one
day, he will not take his food.
This is called brahmacārī, means
strictly following.

And they used to call every
woman from the beginning of
life, “Mother.” This is training.
Mātṛvat para-dāreṣu. From the
very beginning of life, all women
they are treated as mother. That
is the system, Vedic system.
Everyone will call a woman as
“Mother.” Never mind whether
she is younger or older. It doesn’t
matter. Woman has to be
addressed as “Mother.” That is
Cāṇakya Paṇḍita’s instruction.
Who is learned scholar? Who has
got three qualification, he is
learned scholar. What is that?
Mātṛvat para-dāreṣu: “To treat all
woman as mother.” Nowadays it
has been introduced in India,
“Bahinji.” No. This is not the
etiquette. The etiquette is to
address every woman, never
mind whether she is young or
old, as “Mother.” This is
brahmacārī. This is brahmacārī.

The brahmacarya is very strictly
enjoined in the Vedic śāstra.
Brahma, to maintain
brahmacarya, it is advised mātrā
svasrā duhitrā vā nāviviktā…
Mātrā svasrā duhitrā vā. So one
should not sit down with woman
in a secluded place, even though
the woman is mother, sister of
daughter. So much restriction.
And why? Balavān indriya-
grāmaḥ: “The senses are very
powerful.” Vidvāṁsam api
karṣati. “Oh, senses may be
powerful for the fools and
rascals.” No. Vidvāṁsam api
karṣati: “Even one is very learned,
advanced, still, senses are so
powerful that it can be agitated
even before the mother, sister
and daughter.” This is Vedic
injunction, brahmacarya. Tapasā
brahmacaryeṇa damena śamena
[SB 6.1.13]. These are the human
life. To accept brahmacarya life,
tapasya, controlling the senses,
controlling the mind, tyāgena, by
giving in charity whatever you
possess. These are the different

But if you take to bhakti-yoga,
then all these processes become
automatically accustomed. That
is the profit of bhakti-yoga. So
brahmacārī-karma, gṛhastha-
karma, vānaprastha-karma,
sannyāsa-karma, then
brāhmaṇa’s karma, then
kṣatriya’s karma, vaiśya’s karma,
śūdra’s karma. The society which
knows perfectly well all these
different karmas, that is perfect
society, that is human society.

Therefore Kṛṣṇa says that kiṁ
karma akarmeti kavayo ’py atra
mohitāḥ. Kavayaḥ, very learned
scholars, they are also become
bewildered how to specify duty
to a particular person. That is not
being done at the same time.
Everyone is going to the school
and colleges, passing their
examination, but because he is
not trained up according to his
tendency or according to his
quality, after education he is
unemployed. Because he has not
been trained up according to the
tendency, according to the
qualification. That is the basic
principle of karma. Kṛṣṇa has
begun in this chapter, cātur-
varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-
karma-vibhāgaśaḥ [Bg. 4.13].

That is very essential, the
varṇāśrama-dharma. Because we
must have the aim of life. At the
present moment there is no aim
of life. The aim of life is sense
gratification. That’s all. Indriya-
tṛpti. That is forbidden in the
śāstras. Nūnaṁ pramattaḥ kurute
vikarma [Bhāg. 5.5.4]. Kiṁ
karmeti kiṁ vikarmeti will be
described. So karma and vikarma,
prescribed duties according to
qualification, position,
occupation, that is called karma.
And just opposite, it is called
vikarma. Karma akarma vikarma.
That Kṛṣṇa will explain.

So at the present moment… Not
at the present moment. It is the
tendency of materialistic life to
act vikarma, forbidden karma.
That is explained by Ṛṣabhadeva
in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, nūnaṁ
pramattaḥ kurute vikarma yad
indriya-prītaya āpṛṇoti [Bhāg.
5.5.4]. That is visible in the
present moment in the Kali-yuga
all over the world. Vikarmeti. All
kinds of sinful activities, they are
performing. That is called
vikarma. The vikarma we have
specified especially: illicit sex,
meat-eating, intoxication up to
drinking tea, coffee and smoking.
These are all vikarma. So they do
not know. But they are going on.
Therefore Ṛṣabhadeva, many,
many years ago he warned his
sons, “My dear boys, nūnaṁ
pramattaḥ kurute vikarma.”
Pramattaḥ. Pra means sufficiently
or extraordinarily. Prakṛṣṭa-
rūpeṇa. Mattaḥ. Mattaḥ means
mad. Nūnaṁ pramattaḥ kurute
vikarma: [Bhāg. 5.5.4] “All people,
being mad, they are committing
all sinful activities.” They do not
know what is sinful activity. They
think everything is all right. No.
Nature will take account of
everything and he will give you a
next body.

The same example. If you infect
some disease and the after result,
you must suffer from that
disease. This is nature’s law.
Similarly, kāraṇaṁ guṇa-saṅgo
’sya sad-asad-janma-yoniṣu. That
is explained in Bhagavad-gītā.
Why one gets low grade life and
why one gets high grade life?
What is the reason? That is
explained by Kṛṣṇa, that kāraṇaṁ
guṇa-saṅgo ’sya. The reason is as
he is being infected by the
different qualities of material
nature. Therefore we have to be
very careful. There are three
qualities and mixed qualities.
Originally three qualities: sattva-
guṇa, rajo-guṇa, tamo-guṇa.
Then three multiplied by three,
mixture, then it becomes nine.
Then nine multiplied by nine it
becomes eighty-one. Different,
just like color mixture. So
therefore there are 8,400,000
species of life, this mixture of
qualities. Karmaṇā daiva-netreṇa.
We are infecting different types
of qualities of material nature,
and we are becoming fit for the
next life.

But next life there is, tathā
dehāntara-prāptiḥ. People do not
know it. Therefore we should be
very careful to take instruction
from Bhagavad-gītā, and make
our life successful, following the
rules and regulation as it is
prescribed there. Otherwise we
are animals.

The animals, they cannot follow
any rules and regulation. Animal,
you ask animal, dog, that “You
become a brahmacārī.” That is
not possible. That is not possible
(laughs). It is for human being.
These āśramas, the four āśramas
and four varṇas, they are all
meant for human society, not
that it is restricted in a certain
area or certain country or certain
community. No. It is meant for
the whole human society.
Bhagavad-gītā is meant for the
whole human society. When
Kṛṣṇa says, cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā
sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ
[Bg. 4.13], he never says that “It is
meant for India.” Where is that?
Why they came that the cātur-
varṇyam should be in India only?
Kṛṣṇa never said that. Kṛṣṇa said,
sarva-yoniṣu kaunteya
sambhavanti mūrtayaḥ yāḥ: “In
every species of life, as many
forms are there, all of them are
My sons.” Ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā.
Kṛṣṇa never says that “I am
Indian” or “I am kṣatriya” or “I am
brāhmaṇa.” Kṛṣṇa says, “I am the
father of everyone.” Therefore
this cātur-varṇya or this karma-
kāṇḍa, everything is meant for
the whole human society, if not
for the animal society. Of course,
animal society they cannot
follow. That is their degraded
position. Labdhvā su-durlabhaṁ
bahu-sambhavānte. Therefore
śāstra says that “This human form
of life is gotten after many, many
births,” labdhvā su-durlabham.
Su-durlabham. Durlabham
means very rare to be obtained,
and again addition, su, “very,

So we should not waste our this
human form of life whimsically. It
is a great loss. It is a great loss.
But people are not educated how
much important this human form
of life. (aside:) Don’t move like

Labdhvā su-durlabham idaṁ
bahu-sambhavānte mānuṣyam.
And Prahlāda Mahārāja says also,
the same thing. That is the basic
principle of Vedic civilization.
Prahlāda Mahārāja says,

kaumāra ācaret prājño dharmān
bhāgavatān iha durlabhaṁ
mānuṣaṁ janma tad apy
adhruvam arthadam [SB 7.6.1]

Kaumāra, from the very
beginning of life, kaumāra.
Kaumāra means from fifth year to
tenth year, five years. Within
these five years, education must
begin. And especially dharmān
bhāgavatān. Bhāgavata-dharma
means to understand Kṛṣṇa, to
understand the Supreme
Personality of Godhead.

I know, amongst the
Mohammedans, it is a system
that small children, they are
taught Koran. That is very good
system, but we have forgotten.
Although India is the land of
spiritual culture, our small
children, they go to school,
colleges, but he has no
connection with Bhagavad-gītā.
He has no connection with
Bhagavad-gītā. They are simply
trained up for sense gratification.
In Western countries also—for
sense gratification. Which is to be
suppressed, sense gratification,
that education is given. They do
not know what is karma and what
is vikarma. Now, when the
students become disobedient
and they create riots and set fire
in the buses, then they lament.
But why you have educated the
students like that? Who is
responsible for this? The rascals,
they do not know. Here is Kṛṣṇa
prescribing. Kiṁ karma kim
akarmeti kavayo ’py atra
mohitāḥ. Even learned men, they
become bewildered. Tat te karma

So in this bewildered condition,
baffled condition of the society,
we should consult Kṛṣṇa. Kṛṣṇa is
ready to give you advice, as He
was ready five thousand years
ago to give advice to Arjuna.
That instruction is still current. It
is not that it is finished with the
Arjuna and Kṛṣṇa, no. You can
take also the same advice from
Kṛṣṇa and mold your life. That is

So kurute vikarma, we are trained
up simply to act, opposite
direction. Instead of doing good
work, we are educated to do bad
work, just the opposite. And that
is not good. That is the advice of
Ṛṣabhadeva. Nūnaṁ pramattaḥ.
What is that bad work? Bad work
means sense gratification. That’s
all. Anything you do for the
satisfaction of your sense, that is
bad work. And anything you do
for satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa, that is
good work. This is the division of
bad work and good work. The
same thing, if you do for your
personal satisfaction, it is bad
work. And the same thing, if you
do for the satisfaction of Kṛṣṇa,
that is good work. We must first
of all learn this.

Just like Arjuna was thinking in
the beginning that “Fighting and
killing is not good, especially
fighting with the family members
and killing them. No, no, I cannot
do that.” Bad work. He was
thinking it was bad. But same
thing he did. When he
understood Bhagavad-gītā, he
did not do anything else,
because he was a fighter, he was
a warrior. In the beginning he
was refusing because he was
trying to satisfy his senses. “Oh, it
is very good. I think it is… I
think…” What you are? You are
always misguided if you think like
that. But the same Arjuna, when
understood Bhagavad-gītā…
Kṛṣṇa inquired from him, “Now
what is your decision?” Now,
kariṣye vacanaṁ tava [Bg. 18.73]
“Yes, now I have decided.” So
what is that vacanaṁ tava? Kṛṣṇa
asked him to fight. So same
fighting, how he became good
now? Because Kṛṣṇa wanted it. A
good work.

So this should be our motto of
life, that you should act if Kṛṣṇa is
pleased. This is good work. That
is confirmed in many places in
Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. Ataḥ
pumbhir dvija-śreṣṭhāḥ. Sūta
Gosvāmī said in the meeting of
great learned scholars and
brāhmaṇas in Naimiṣāraṇya. He
said, dvija-śreṣṭhāḥ: “O best of
the brāhmaṇas who have
assembled here to hear me…”
Dvija-śreṣṭhāḥ. Ataḥ pumbhir
dvija-śreṣṭhā varṇāśrama-
vibhāgaśaḥ. Again that
varṇāśrama. Without varṇāśrama,
it is a rascal society. That’s all. It is
not even human society. It is
animal society. But that we have
lost now. Again it is said,
varṇāśrama-vibhāgaśaḥ. Ataḥ
pumbhir dvija-śreṣṭhāḥ. He was
speaking amongst the very
learned scholars and brāhmaṇas.
Therefore he addressed, “My
dear all great brāhmaṇas, dvija-

Dvija means brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya,
vaiśya. And the brāhmaṇa is the
śreṣṭha, the best of the dvija.
Dvija means twice-born. One
birth by the father and mother,
and the next birth through the
guru and Vedic knowledge. Vedic
knowledge is the mother and
guru is the father. The next birth.
That is called dvija, twice-born.
Once born by father and mother,
that is śūdra. Janmanā jāyate
śūdraḥ. First birth is śūdra. The
next birth, when he is trained up
by the guru in Vedic knowledge,
that is real birth. Everything is
clearly explained. If we take
advantage of this Kṛṣṇa
consciousness movement then
our life will be perfect.

That is the special prerogative of
the Indians. Therefore Caitanya
Mahāprabhu said,

bhārata-bhūmite haila manuṣya-
janma yāra janma sārthaka kari’
kara para-upakāra [Cc. Ādi 9.41]

”Every Indian has to perfect his
life by accepting the Vedic
principle and distribute it to the
whole world.” This is the best
welfare activities in the human
society. Thank you very much.