Transcribed by Matsya das
The culture of varna and ashrama is the basis for spiritual life. Without varnashrama it is not easy to practice spiritual life. We will not be very successful establishing Krishna consciousness in the global society without varnashrama, because only the pure devotees are trancendental to varnashrama and whether they follow the principles of varnashrama or not, it doesn’t matter. They are simply acting for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord. But the regular conditioned souls will not be able to avoid sinful activities without following the priciples of varnashrama. Therefore, for us who are certainly in the category of regular devotional service, varnashrama is beneficial and helpful as a supporting structure.
Varnashrama itself is not transcendental. It is the system by which people can develop the mode of goodness, and when we come to the mode of goodness then we can more easily develop devotional service. Devotional service can be picked up by anyone and everyone, regardless of what mode of nature they are in, so even those who are in the mode of ignorance can take up the devotional service. This is how Srila Prabhupada began. He was preaching to hippies on the Lower East Side in New York or in San Francisco, and many of them were on LSD and other drugs, and still they were able to take up the devotional service. Devotional service is to potent that it takes over and changes one completely to the point when one can give up all sinful activity.