Srimad Bhagavatam 11.17.46-47 - Integrating Varnasrama Dharma With Bhagavat Dharma (download mp3)
by Radhika Vallabha Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
indrena saha modate
An earthly king who protects himself and all citizens by removing all sins from his kingdom will certainly enjoy with Lord Indra in airplanes as brilliant as the sun.
sidan vipro vanig-vrttya
panyair evapadam taret
na sva-vrttya kathañcana
If a brahmana cannot support himself through his regular duties and is thus suffering, he may adopt the occupation of a merchant and overcome his destitute condition by buying and selling material things. If he continues to suffer extreme poverty even as a merchant, then he may adopt the occupation of a ksatriya, taking sword in hand. But he cannot in any circumstances become like a dog, accepting an ordinary master.
Sva-vrttya, or “a dog’s profession,” refers to the sudras, who cannot live without accepting a master. A destitute brahmana who is suffering intolerably may become a merchant and then a ksatriya but may never take the position of a sudra by working in a company or accepting a master. Although a ksatriya is ordinarily considered more elevated than a vaisya, the Lord here recommends that distressed brahmanas first accept the vaisya occupation, since it is not violent.