Shri Gaudiya Kanthahara

by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati | 83,221 words

Shri Gaudiya Kantahara (English translation) was published by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati to train devotees in the philosophy of Krishna-consciousness and to be able to quote the authoritative parts of the Vedas. A collection of over a thousand verses, sorted by tattva, includes general index, alphabetical index of verses. Verses in in Roman tr...

Chapter 14 - Varṇadharma-tattva

The principle of social order

Two Kinds of Varṇāśrama Divine and Demoniac

14.1

dvau bhūta-sargau loke'sminn daiva āsura eva ca

viṣṇu-bhaktaḥ smṛto daiva āsuras-tada-viparyayaḥ

There are two classes of men in the created world the demoniac and the godly. The devotees of Lord Viṣṇu are the godly. All opposed are demons. (Padma Purāṇa)

Divine Varṇṃñrama

14.2

varṇāśramācāravatā puruṣeṇa paraḥ pumān
viṣṇurārādhyate panthā nānyat tat-toṣa-kārakaḥ

The Supreme Person, Lord Viṣṇu, is worshiped by a person who is engaged in the proper execution of prescribed duties in the system of varṇa and āśrama. There is no other way to satisfy the Supreme Lord. (Viṣṇu Purāṇa 3.8.9)

The Demoniac Social System

14.3

asatyam apratiṣṭhaṃ te jagad āhur anīśvaram
aparaspara-sambhūtaṃ kim anyat kāma-haitukam

The demoniac say that this world is unreal, that there is no foundation and that there is no God in control. It is produced of sex desire, and has no cause other than lust. (Bhagavad-gītā 16.8)

The Character of the Followers of Demoniac Society

14.4

asau mayā hataḥ śatrur haniṣye cāparān api
īśvaro 'ham ahaṃ bhogī siddho 'haṃ balavān sukhī

The demoniac think, "He is my enemy, and I have killed him; and my other enemy will also be killed. I am the Lord of everything, I am the enjoyer, I am perfect, powerful, and happy. (Bhagavad-gītā 16.14)

The Future of the Followers of Demoniac Society

14.5

tān ahaṃ dviṣataḥ krūrān saṃsāreṣu narādhamān
kṣipāmy ajasram aśubhān āsurīṣv eva yoniṣu

Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life. (Bhagavad-gītā 16.19)

14.6

āsurīṃ yonim āpannā mūḍhā janmani janmani
mām aprāpyaiva kaunteya tato yānty adhamāṃ gatim

Attaining repeated birth and death amongst the species of demoniac life, such persons can never approach Me. Gradually they sink to the most abominable type of existence. (Bhagavad-gītā 16.20)

The Birth, Family, and Knowledge

of the Followers of Demoniac Society is Useless

14.7

dhig janma nas tri-vṛd yat tad dhig vrataṃ dhig bahu-jñatām
dhik kulaṃ dhik kriyā-dākṣyaṃ vimukhā ye tv adhokṣaje

To hell with our birth as brāhmaṇas! To hell with our learning of Vedic literature! To hell with our performing sacrifice and observing the rules and regulations of scripture! To hell with our families! To hell with our expert service in performing the rituals exactly according to the description of scripture! To hell with it all, for as result of these things we have become opposed to loving the blessed Supreme Lord, who is beyond the speculation of our body, mind, and senses. (Bhāg. 10.23.40)

The Characteristics of Each Varṇa

14.8

śamo damas tapaḥ śaucaṃ santoṣaḥ kṣāntir ārjavam
jñānaṃ dayācyutātmatvaṃ satyaṃ ca brahma-lakṣaṇam

The symptoms of a brāhmaṇa are control of the mind, control of the senses, austerity, penance, cleanliness, satisfaction, forgiveness, simplicity, knowledge, mercy, truthfulness, and complete surrender to the Supreme Lord. (Bhāg. 7.11.21)

14.9

śauryaṃ vīryaṃ dhṛtis tejas tyāgaś cātmajayaḥ kṣamā
brahmaṇyatā prasādaś ca satyaṃ ca kṣatra-lakṣaṇam

To be influential in battle, unconquerable, patient, challenging and charitable, to control the bodily necessities, to be forgiving, to be attached to the brahminical nature, and to be always jolly and truthful are the symptoms of a kṣatriya. (Bhāg. 7.11.22)

14.10

deva-gurv-acyute bhaktis tri-varga-paripoṣaṇam
āstikyam udyamo nityaṃ naipuṇyaṃ vaiśya-lakṣaṇam

Being always devoted to the demigods, the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu; endeavoring for advancement in religious principles, economic development and sense gratification (dharma, artha, and kāma), believing in the words of the spiritual master and scripture, and always endeavoring with expertise in earning money are the symptoms of a vaiśya. (Bhāg. 7.11.23)

14.11

śūdrasya sannatiḥ śaucaṃ sevā svāminy amāyayā
amantra-yajño hy asteyaṃ satyaṃ go-vipra-rakṣaṇam

Offering obeisances to the higher sections of society, being always very clean, being free from duplicity, serving one's master, performing sacrifices without uttering mantras, not stealing, always speaking the truth and giving all protection to the cows and brāhmaṇas are the symptom of a śūdra. (Bhāg. 7.11.24)

Bhagavad-gītā on Varṇāṣrama

14.12

brāhmaṇa-kṣatriya-viśāṃ śūdrāṇāṃ ca parantapa
karmāṇi pravibhaktāni svabhāva-prabhavair guṇaiḥ

Brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas, and śūdras are distinguished by their qualities of work, O chastiser of the enemy, in accordance with the modes of nature. (Bhagavad-gītā 18.41)

Qualities of Brāhmaṇas

14.13

śamo damas tapaḥ śaucaṃ kṣāntir ārjavam eva ca
jñānaṃ vijñānam āstikyaṃ brahma-karma svabhāva-jam

Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, wisdom, knowledge, and religiousness these are the qualities by which the brāhmaṇas work. (Bhagavad-gītā 18.42)

Qualities of Kṣatriyas

14.14

śauryaṃ tejo dhṛtir dākṣyaṃ yuddhe cāpy apalāyanam
dānam īśvara-bhāvaś ca kṣātraṃ karma svabhāva-jam

Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity, and leadership are the qualities of work for the kṣatriyas. (Bhagavat-gītā 18.43)

Qualities of Vaiśyas and Śūdras

14.15

kṛṣi-go-rakṣya-vāṇijyaṃ vaiśya-karma svabhāva-jam
paricaryātmakaṃ karma śūdrasyāpi svabhāva-jam

Farming, cow protection, and business, are the qualities of work for the vaiśyas, and for the śūdras there is labor and service to others. (Bhagavat-gītā 18.44)

The Division of Varṇa and āśrama According to Guṛa and Karma

14.16

cātur-varṇyaṃ mayā sṛṣṭaṃ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ
tasya kartāram api māṃ viddhy akartāram avyayam

According to the modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. Although I am the ultimate creator of this system, you should know that I am not the direct creator, being unchangeable. (Bhagavad-gītā 4.13)

Evidence from Śrīmad Bhāgavatam

About the Divisions Varṇāśrama

14.17

mukha-bāhūru-pādebhyaḥ puruṣasyāśramaiḥ saha
catvāro jajñire varṇā guṇair viprādayaḥ pṛthak

[Camasa Yogendra said] From the mouth of Brahmā, the brahminical order has come into existence. Similarly, from his arms, the kṣatriyas have come, from his waist the vaiśyas have come and from his legs the śūdras have come. These four orders and their spiritual counterparts [brahmacārī, gṇhastha, vānaprastha, and sannyāsa] combine to make society complete. (Bhāg. 11.5.2)

14.18

ya eṣāṃ puruṣaṃ sākṣād ātma-prabhavam īśvaram
na bhajanty avajānanti sthānād bhraṣṭāḥ patanty adhaḥ

For one who simply maintains an official position in varṇasāśrama but does not worship the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu, he falls down from his puffed-up position into a hellish condition. (Bhāg. 11.5.3)

14.18a

cāri varṇāśramī yadi kṛṣṇa nāhi bhaje
svakarma karite se raurave paḍi' maje

The followers of the varṇāśrama institutions accept the regulative principles of the four social orders (brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra) and four spiritual orders (brahmacārī, gṇhastha, vānaprastha, and sannyāsa). If, one carries out the regulative principles of these orders but does not render service to Kṛṣṇa, he falls into a hellish condition of life. (Cc. Madhya 22.26)

In Satya-Yuga, There was Only one Varṇa Paramahaṃsa

14.19

ādau kṛta-yuge varṇo nṛṇāṃ haṃsa iti smṛtaḥ
kṛta-kṛtyāḥ prajā jātyā tasmāt kṛta-yugaṃ viduḥ

In the beginning, Satya-yuga, there was only one social class, called "haṃsa". In that age everyone was perfect (in devotional service) from birth. That age is therefore known as Kṇta-yuga, or the age in which all religious duties are fulfilled. (Bhāg. 11.17.10)

14.20

tretā-mukhe mahā-bhāga
prāṇān me hṛdayāt trayī
vidyā prādurabhūt tasyā
aham āsaṃ tri-vṛn makhaḥ

O blessed Uddhava, at the beginning of the Treta-yuga the threefold Vedas was manifest from My heart thorough My breath; and through the threefold Vedas I (who am known a Yajña) appear as sacrifice. (Bhāg. 11.17.12)

14.21

vipra-kṣatriya-viṭ-śūdrā mukha-bāhūru-pāda-jāḥ
vairājāt puruṣāj jātā ya ātmācāra-lakṣaṇāḥ

The four social orders appeared from the universal form of the Lord. The brāhmaṇas appeared from His face, the kṣatriyas from His arms, the vaiśyas from His thighs, and the śūdras from His feet. Each social order is characterized by specific systems and behavior. (Bhāg. 11.17.13)

Previously, Everyone was a Brāhmaṇa.

Later, According to Guṛa and Karma, Different Divisions Arose

14.22

na viśeṣo' sti varṇānāṃ sarvaṃ brāhmam-idaṃ jagat
brahmaṇā pūrva-sṛṣṭam hi karmabhir-varṇatāṃ gatam

[Bṛghu Muni said] Previously there was only one varṇa. Because everyone was born of Brahmā, everyone was a brāhmaṇa. However, later on different castes were categorized according to their activities. (Mahābhārata, Śānti Parva 188.10)

The Position of Varṇa-Dharma in Kali-yuga

14.23-27

brāhmaṇāḥ kṣatriyā vaiśāḥ śūdrāḥ pāpa-parāyaṇāḥ
nijacārā-vihīnāś ca bhaviṣyanti kalau yuge
viprā veda-vihīnāś ca pratigraha-parāyaṇaḥ
atyanta-kāminaḥ krūrā bhaviṣyanti kalau yuge
veda-nindākarāś caiva dyūtacaurya karās tathā
vidhavā-saṅga-lubdhāś ca bhaviśanti kalau dvijāḥ
vṛtty-arthaṃ brāhmaṇāḥ kecit mahākapaṭa-dharmiṇaḥ
raktāmbarā bhaviṣyanti jaṭilāḥ śmaśrudhāriṇaḥ
kalau yuge bhaviṣanti brāhmaṇāḥ śūdra-dharmiṇa

In Kali-yuga, all four varṇas are devoid of character and proper behavior and are addicted to sin. The brāhmaṇas are devoid of Vedic knowledge and sacrifice. Giving up the five sacrifices recommended in the Vedas and all brahminical behavior and consciousness, they engage in inferior activities. They collect charity to satisfy their unlimited appetite for sense enjoyment. The brāhmaṇas of Kali-yuga are characterized by the qualities of lust and cruelty. Unholy in deed and thought, they take pleasure in envy and malice. These professional thieves blaspheme the Vedas, drink liquor, and exploit women for sex, taking great pleasure in adultery and fornication. They accept extremely sinful means of maintaining their lives and, posing as svāmīs, dress in red cloth and wear long hair and beards. In this way the wretched so called brāhmaṇas of Kali-yuga accept the dharma of śūdras, that is, they become fourth-class men. (Padma Purāṇa)

Brāhmaṇas in Kali-yuga are Brāhmaṇas in Name only

14.28

rākṣasāḥ kalim-āśritya jāyante brahma-yoniṣu
utpannā brāhmaṇa-kule bādhante śrotriyān kṛśān

Those who were rākṣasas in previous ages, have taken birth as brāhmaṇas in Kali-yuga to torment the physically weak saintly persons who are engaged in the culture of hearing about the Lord. (Cb. Ādi 11.298)

The Evidence from Caitanya-Bhāgavata

14.29

ei sakala rākṣasa "brāhmaṇa" nāma mātra
ei saba loka yama-yātanāra pātra
kaliyuge rākṣasa-sakala vipra-ghare
janmiveka sujanera hiṃsā karivāre
e-saba viprera sparśa, kathā namaskāra
dharma-śāstre sarvathā niṣedha karivāre

All these demons are "brāhmaṇas" in name only. All of them will be finished by the agents of the king of death, Yamarāja. In Kali-yuga, demons take birth in the houses of brāhmaṇas to harass saintly persons. All the dharma-śāstras forbid one to touch, hear from or offer obeisances to such materialistic and demoniac brāhmaṇas. (Cb. Ādi 11.293-295)

The smṛti on how the Brāhmaṇa Caste was Debased

14.30 and 31

jatiratra mahā-sarpa manuśyatve mahā-mate
saokarāt sarva-varṇānāṃ duṣparīkṣyeti me matiḥ
sarve sarvāsva patyāni janayanti sadā narāḥ
vāṅghaithunamatho janma maraṇañ ca saman nṛṇām

[Yudhiṣṭhira told Nahūṣa] O noble-minded and great serpent, it is very difficult to ascertain one's caste because of promiscuity among the four orders. This is my opinion. Men belonging to all castes beget offspring among women of all the different castes. And among men of different caste the speech, sexual intercourse, birth, and death have become are common to all. (Mahābhārata, Vana Parva 180.31-32)

The Opinion of the Truth-Loving Vedic ṇñis

14.32

'na caitad-vidmo brāhmaṇaḥ smo vayam abrāhmaṇa veti'

"We don't know whether we were brāhmaṇas or non-brāhmaṇas. (Mahābhārata, Vana Parva 179.33)

The Śruti, Smṛti, Purāṇas, and Itihāsas

on the Occupational Duties of Brāhmaṇas

14.33

Brahma-kṣatriya-vaiśya-śūdro iti catvāro varṇās teṣāṃ varṇānāṃ brāhmaṇa eva pradhāna iti veda­-vacanānu-rūpaṃ smṛtibhir apy uktam. Tatra codyam asti ko vā brāhmaṇo nāma. Kiṃ jīvaḥ kiṃ dehaḥ kiṃ jātiḥ kiṃ jñānaṃ kiṃ karma kiṃ dhārmika iti. Tatra prathmo jīvo brāhmaṇa iti cettana, atītānāgatān eka dehānāṃ jīvasyaika-rūpatvāt ekasyāpi karma-vaśādan-eka-deha sambhavāt sarva śarīrāṇāṃ jīvasyaika-rūpatvācca. Tasmān na jīvo brāhmaṇa iti. Tarhi deho brāhmaṇa iti cettnna, ācāṇḍālādi-paryantānāṃ manuṣyāṇāṃ pāñca-bhautikatvena. Dehasyaika­-rūpatvāj-jarā-maraṇa dharmādharmādi sāmya-darśanād brāhmaṇaḥ śvetavarṇaḥ kṣatriyo rakta-­varṇo vaiśyaḥ pīta-varṇaḥ śūdraḥ kṛṣṇa-varṇa iti niyamābhāvāt. Pitrādi-śarīra dahane putrādīnāṃ brahma-hatyādi-doṣa-sambhavācca tasmān na deho brāhmaṇa iti. Tarhi jāti brāhmaṇa iti cenna. tatra jātyantarajantuṣu aneka-jāti-saṃbhavā maharṣayo bahavaḥ santi. Eṣya-śṛogo mṛgyāḥ kauśikaḥ kuśāt jāmbūko jambūkāt.Vālmīko valmīkāt. Vyāsaḥ kaivartta-kanyāyām. Śaśapṛṣṭhāt gautama. Vasiṣṭhaḥ urvaśyām. Agastyaḥ kalase jāta iti śrutatvāt. Eteṣāṃ jātyā vināpyagre jñāna-prati-pāditā ṛṣyo bahavaḥ santi. Tasmān na jātiḥ brāhmaṇa iti. Tarhi jñānaṃ brāhmaṇa iti cettnna. Kṣatriyādayo'pi paramārtha-darśino'bhijñā bahavaḥ santi. Tasmānha jñānaṃ brāhmaṇa iti. Tarhi karma brāhmaṇah iti cettanna. Sarveṣāṃ prāṇināṃ prārabdha-sañcitāgāmi karma-sā dharmya-darśanāt karmābhipreritāḥ sant janāḥ kriyāḥ kurvanīti. Tasmān na karma brāhmaṇa iti. Tarhi dhārmiko brāhmaṇa iti cettnna. Kṣatriyādayo hiraṇyadātāro bahavaḥ santi. Tasmānna dhārmiko brāhmaṇa iti. Tarhi ko vā brāhmaṇo nāma. Yaḥ kaścid-ātmānam-­advitīyaṃ-jāti-guṇa-kriyāhīnam ṣaḍūrmiṣaḍ-bhāvetyādi-sarva-doṣa-rahitaṃ satya-jñānānandānta-­svarūpaṃ svayaṃ nirvikalpaṃ aśeṣa-kalpādhāraṃ aśeṣabhutāhtaryāmitvena vartamānaṃ antar­bahiś-cākāśavadanu-syūtama-khaṇḍānanda-svabhāvam-aprameya manu bha vai kavedya ­parokṣatayā bāsamānaṃ karatalāmalakavat sākṣād-aparokṣī-kṛtya kṛtārthatayā kāma-rāgādi-doṣa-rahitaḥ śama damādi-sampanno cetā vartata, eva mukta-lakṣaṇo yaḥ sa eva brāhmaṇa iti śruti-smṛti-purāṇetihāsānām-abhiprāyaḥ. Anyathā hi brāhmaṇtva-siddhir nāsty eva.

The four varṇas are: brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, and śūdra. Among these, the brāhmaṇas are foremost. This is the verdict of the Vedas and the Smṛti. In these places the question is asked, "Who is a brāhmaṇa? On what basis is someone a brāhmaṇa? Among life (jīva), body (deha), birth (jāti), knowledge (jñāna), work (karma), and duty (dharma) what is it that constitutes a brāhmaṇa?"

The first question is: Since the jīva is part of Brahman, and alive, does that make him a brāhmaṇa? No. It is incorrect to call any jīva a brāhmaṇa. There are countless jīvas who have accepted innumerable material bodies according to their karma and mentality, but they cannot all be called brāhmaṇas).

The next point is whether one's body (deha) makes one a brāhmaṇa. The answer is no. The body of a caṇḍāla as well as that of all other men are subject to infirmity and death. It is only with respect to the way in which the mentalities of different classes of men are colored by different conceptions of religion and irreligion that brāhmaṇas are called "white," (ñveta-varṇa) kṣatriyas "red," (rakta-varṇa) vaiśyas "yellow," (pīta-varṇa) and śūdra "black" (kṛṣṇa varṇa). In this way, it should be clearly understood that one is not a brāhmaṇa on the basis of his body (deha). By burning up one's body one does not become free from the sin of killing a brāhmaṇa; nor is that sin transferred to one's son. In the same way one's brahminical status is not based on one's bodily condition, nor can brahminical status be transferred simply by seminal discharge and the procreation of children. Therefore it is concluded that the body (deha) does not make one a brāhmaṇa.

The next point is whether one becomes a brāhmaṇa by birth (jāti). The answer is no. In the midst of mixed ancestry have come great-souled ṛṣīs. The ṛṣī Śṇṛga took birth from a deer, and Kauśika was born from straw, Jāmbḥka ṛṣī was raised by a jackal, and Vālmikī came from an anthill. Vyāsa was born from a fisherman's daughter and the sage Gautama was born from a rabbit. Vaśiṣtha was born from a dancing girl Urvaśī. From a pitcher (in which semen was stored) the sage Agastya took birth. There are many examples of great saints who did not know in what circumstances they took birth. Therefore birth does not make a brāhmaṇa.

And what of jñāna? Knowledge does not make a brāhmaṇa either. Many kṣatriyas are vastly experienced in knowing the supreme goal of life. Therefore knowledge does not make a brāhmaṇa.

What about fate? Karma does not make one a brāhmaṇa either. All living beings have amassed karma from previous lives and have their karmic destinies to live out in the future along with their karmas and dharmas. According to one's karmic desires he is further implicated in karmic fate and continues to live in the world of action and reaction. A "brāhmaṇa" is more than this, and therefore karma does not make one a brāhmaṇa.

Then what about dharma, religion? Mundane piety does not make a brāhmaṇa either. There are many examples of great kṣatriyas who were highly religious and gave much gold in charity, but they were not brāhmaṇas.

Then what is a brāhmaṇa? A brāhmaṇa is one who is absorbed only in the Supreme Self. He is free from all mundane attributes of birth, work, and materialistic qualities, who is free from all faults. His very nature is that he takes pleasure in the knowledge of the limitless Supreme Truth. A real brāhmaṇa is completely absorbed in the infinite, limitless, absolute Supreme Person (present within the heart of every living being as the Supersoul just as ether pervades everything). That Supreme Lord is indivisible, and His very nature is divine ecstasy. The infinite is not a mango that can be grasped through sense experience; neither can He be known, directly or indirectly, through mental speculation.) Such a brāhmaṇa is free from faults such as lust, anger, greed, pride, illusion, and envy. He has all twelve brahminical qualities beginning with peacefulness and self-control (śamo, dama, tapa, etc.). He is never envious and is free from illusion and from any touch of pride and false ego. One who has these qualities may be called a brāhmaṇa. This is the opinion of the Śruti, Smṛti, Purāṇas and Itihāsas. No other endowments of perfection can confer brahminical status. (Vajra-sūcikā Upaniṣad)

Evidence from the Mahābhārata

14.34

śūdre caitad-bhavel-lakṣma dvije tac ca na vidyate
na vai śūdro bhavec-chudro brāhmaṇo na ca brāhmaṇoḥ

If it is seen that a śūdra has the characteristics of a brāhmaṇa he should be considered a brāhmaṇa. Similarly, if a brāhmaṇa has the characteristics of a śūdra he should be considered a śūdra. (Mahābhārata, Vana Purva 180.25)

Evidence From Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam

14.35

yasya yal lakṣaṇaṃ proktaṃ puṃso varṇābhivyañjakam
yad anyatrāpi dṛśyeta tat tenaiva vinirdiśet

If one shows the symptoms of being a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya, or śudra, as described above, even if he has appeared in a different caste, he should be accepted according to those symptoms of classification. (Bhāg. 7.11.35)

The Ancient commentator, Nīlakaṇṭha, on the Conduct of Brāhmaṇas

14.36

evañca satyādikaṃ yadi śūdro'pyasti tarhiso'pi brāhmaṇa eva syāt śūdra lakṣmakādikaṃ na brāhmaṇo'sti nāpi brāhmaṇa-
lakṣmaśamādikaṃ śūdro'sti.
śūdro'pi śamādyupeto brāhmaṇa eva, brāhmaṇo'pi
kāmādyupetaḥ śūdra eva

In the same way if a śūdra has qualities like truthfulness then he is a brāhmaṇa. And if a brāhmaṇa does not show the qualities such as peaceful nature which are appropriate for a brāhmaṇa, then he is a śūdra. If a śūdra has qualities like equananimity then he is a brāhmaṇa. If a brāhmaṇa has qualities like lust then he is a śūdra. (Nīlakaṇṭha commentary on Mahābhārata, Vana Parva 180.23-26)

Śrīdhara Svāmī's Opinion

14.37

śamādibhireva brāhmaṇādi vyavahāro mukhyaḥ na jātimātrāt.
yad yadi anyatra varṇāntare'pi dṛśyeta, tad-varṇāstaraṃ
tenaive lakṣmaṇa-nimittenaivavarṇena
vinirdiśet, na tu jātinimitenetyarthaḥ

The qualities of a brāhmaṇa, beginning with peacefulness (śamo, dama, tapaū, etc.) represent the chief characteristics or principle behavior of a brāhmaṇa. On the other hand, birth is no qualification for brahminical status. If one is seen to take birth in another varṇa, but has the qualifications of a brāhmaṇa, his birth should be disregarded and he should be accepted as a brāhmaṇa. One who is born a brāhmaṇa may be accepted as a brāhmaṇa if he has the qualifications, but otherwise he should not. (Bhāvārtha-dīpikā commentary on Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 7.11.35)

Mahāprabhu's Definition of What is and Isn't a Brāhmaṇa

14.38

sahaje nirmala ei 'brāhmaṇa'-hṛdaya
kṛṣṇera vasite ei yogya-sthāna haya
'mātsarya'-caṇḍāla kene ihān vasāile
parama pavitra sthāna apavitra kaile

The heart of a brāhmaṇa is by nature very clean; therefore it is a proper place for Kṛṣṇa to sit. Why have you allowed envy to sit there? Because of this , you have become like a caṇḍāla, the lowest of men, and you have also contaminated a most purified place your heart. (Cc. Madhya 15.274-275)

The Evidence of the Smṛti

14.39

etan me saṃśayaṃ deva vada bhūtapate'nagha
trayo varṇāḥ prakṛtyeha kathaṃ brāhmaṇyamāpnuyuḥ
sthito brāhmaṇa-dharmeṇa brāhmaṇyam-upajīvati
kṣatriyo vātha vaiśyo vā brahma-bhūyaṃ sa gacchati

[Umā said] "O Śiva, master of the bhūtas. O sinless one, through what kind of personal characteristics can the three classes of men kṣatriya, vaiśya, and śūdra become brāhmaṇas? Is it possible for them to become brāhmaṇas? Please enlighten my doubts on this subject." Śiva said, "If a kṣatriya or vaiśya is established in brahminical behavior, and spends his whole life in brahminical conduct, it is seen that such a person has attained brahminical status. (Mahābhārata, Anuśāsana Parva 14.3.5,8)

The Verdict of the Mahābhārata on the Occupation of Brāmaṛas

14.40 and 41

sāmpratañca mato me'si brāhmaṇo nātra saṃśayaḥ
brāhmaṇaḥ patanīyeṣu vartamāno vikarmasu
yastu śūdro dame satye dharme ca satatothitah
taṃ brāhmaṇam ahaṃ manye vṛttena hi bhaved-dvijaḥ

(The brāhmaṇa told the "hunter"), "In my opinion, you are a brāhmaṇa. Of this there is no doubt. It is my consideration that the brāhmaṇa who is proud and addicted to sin, who is full of vice and always engaged in evil and degraded practices, is certainly a śūdra. On the other hand, a śūdra who is endowed with the virtues of righteousness, self-restraint, and truthfulness is, in my opinion, a brāhmaṇa. The only qualifications for brahminical status are truthful character and saintly behavior. (Mahābhārata, Vana Parva 215.13-15)

14.42 and 43

hiṃsānṛta-priyā lubdhāḥ sarva-karmopjīvinaḥ
kṛṣṇa śaucaparibhraṣṭhāste dvijāḥ śūdratāṃ gatāḥ
sarva-bhakṣyaratirnityaṃ sarva-karmakaro 'śuciḥ
tyakta-vedastvanācāraḥ sa vai śūdra iti smṛtaḥ

Brāhmaṇas who live a life of violence, lies, and greed, who are impure and indulge in all kinds of karmic activity in order to maintain their lives are degraded to the status of śūdras. Such a person, who eats anything and everything without discrimination, who is attached to worldly things, who will accept any occupation just to make money, who has given up Vedic dharma and proper behaviour is called a śūdra. (Mahābharata, Śānti Parva 189.7)

The Smṛti on the Occupational Behavior of Brāhmaṇas

14.44

yatraital-lakṣyate sarpa vṛttaṃ sa brāhmaṇaḥ smṛtaḥ
yatraitan na bhavet sarpa taṃ śūdramili nirdiśet

[Yudhiṣṭhira said] "O serpent, whoever has the characteristics of a brāhmaṇa is said to be a brāhmaṇa. One who doesn't have the characteristics of a brāhmaṇa is a śūdra, even if he is "born" a brāhmaṇa. (Mahābharata, Vana Parva 180.26)

An Example of the Conduct of a Brāhmaṇa

14.45

taṃ hovāca kiṃ gotro nu saumyasīti.
Sa hovāca nāhametadveda bho yad-gotro 'ham asmi.
Apṛcchaṃ mātaram sā mā pratyabravīd
bhahvahaṃ carantī paricāriṇī yauvane tvāmalabhe.
Sāhaṃ etat na veda yad-gotras-tvamasi.
Jabālā tu nāmā ahamasmi, Satyakāmo nāma tvamasīti.
So'haṃ satyakāmo Jābālo 'smi bho iti.
Taṃ hovāca naitadabrāhmaṇo vivaktum-arhati samidhaṃ
saumyā āhara. Upa tvā nesye. Na satyādagā iti.

Gautama asked Satyakāma, "My dear boy, what is your gotra?" The boy said, "I do not know what my caste or family background is. I asked my mother, and she said, 'When I was young, I wandered here and there and knew many men. Then you were born. I knew so many men that I don't know who your father is, or what your caste is. All I know is that my name is Jabṃla and your name is Satyakāma (One who wants truth).' Therefore I am known as the Satyakāma of Jabṃla, and do not know my caste".

Gautama said, "My dear boy, you speak truthfully, and therefore you must be a brāhmaṇa. No one but a brāhmaṇa could speak such an unpalatable truth. O beautiful young boy, go and bring me wood for the sacrificial fire. I shall initiate you as my disciple, for you never depart from the truth. (Chāndogya Upaniṣad 4.4.4, Gautama)

14.46

ārjvavaṃ brāhmaṇe sākṣāt śūdro'nārjava-lakṣaṇāḥ
gautamastv iti vijñāya satya-kāmamupānayat

Truthfulness is the symptom of a brāhmaṇa, whereas dishonesty is the sysmptom of a śūdra. Knowing this, Gautama Ṛṣī initiated Satyakāma as a brāhmaṇa. (Chāndogya Upaniṣad, Mādhva-bhāñya, Sṃma-saṃhitā)

The Evidence of Vedānta-sūtra and the Example of Citraratha

14.47

"śugasya tadanādara-śravaṇāt sūcyate hi"
nāsau pautrāyaṇaḥ śūdraḥ śucād-bravaṇam eva hi śuda tvam
rājā pautrāyaṇaḥ śokāc-chudroti muninoditaḥ prāṇa-vidyām-avāpyāsmāt paraṃ dharma-vāptavān

The following story is from the Chandogya Upaniṣad (Saāvarga-vidya 4): There was a great king named Jānaśruti Pautrāyaṛa, who was famous for his good works. Two ṇñis wanted to create a desire for spiritual knowledge in his heart and they took the form of swans to accomplish this. One of them praised the king while the other contemptously accused him of lacking spiritual knowledge. The swan then praised the sage Raikva for being very learned. Upon hearing this the king was smitten with grief and approached the sage Raikva with presents seeking spiritual knowledge from him. Raikva twice addressed the king śūdra. "O Śūdra, you have brought all these presents, and now you want me to instruct you?" Thereafter, Raikva taught him the spiritual science.

The Brahma-sūtra says: "Raikva addressed Jānaśruti Pautrāyana as śūdra because Pautrāyana was overwhelmed with sorrow." The use of the word śūdra in this verse does not mean that Jānaśruti was a śūdra at birth, but that he was lamenting. The purport is that those who are overwhelmed by lamentation are known as śūdras. It is written in the Padma-Purāṇa that King Pautrāyana was a kṣatriya and that because of his lamentation, Raikva Muni called him a śūdra. [The word śūdra, therefore, means "one who laments."] Later, Pautrāyana gained knowledge of the ultimate goal of life and the supreme religion from Raikva. (Brahma-sūtra 1.3.34)

Madhvācārya's Commentary, Quoting from Padma-Purāṇa

14.48

"kṣatriyatvāvagateś ca uttaratra caitra-rathena liogāt" bhāṣye:
"ayaṃ aśvatarīratha iti citraratha samvandhinitvena liogena pautrāyaṇasya kṣatriyatvāvagateś ca rathastvaśvatarīyuktaścitra
ityabhidhīyate iti brāhme yatra vedo rathas tatra na vedo yatra no ratha iti ca brahma-vaivarte"

The Brahma-sūtra says: "That Jānaśrūti was kṣatriya and not a śūdra is understood from the rest of the story, where he is described along with a kṣatriya, Abhipratṃrin, who was a Caitra-ratha." [Because Jānaśrūti was a kṣatriya and not a śūdra by quality, he was fit for hearing spiritual knowledge from Raikva Muni, who would not have instructed him if he actuallly was a śūdra. The purpose of Raikva Muni's calling him a śūdra was simply to illustrate that constant lamentation is the quality of a śūdra, and that if he were to instruct Jānaśrūti, the king would have to rid himself of the tendency toward lamentation. That Raikva did instruct Jānaśrūti is proof that the king freed himself from the tendency, and was not a śūdra, but was qualified to study the Vedas. Those who have the qualities of śūdras are forbidden to study the Vedas because they will pervert the meaning of the Vedas.] The whole point is that one may know a person's varṇa from his qualities. (Brahma-sūtra 1.3.35 and commentary)

Members of Other Castes who Became Brāhmaṇas

14.49

nābhāgā-diṣṭaputro dvau vaiśyau brāhmaṇatāṃ gatau

Nābhāga and Diṣṭhaputra were two vaiśyas who attained the status of brāhmaṇas. (Hari-vaāśa 11)

14.50-56

evaṃ vipratvamagamadvītahavyo narādhipaḥ
bhṛgoḥ prasādād rājendra kṣatriyaḥ kṣatriyarṣabha
tasya gṛtsamadaḥ putro rūpeṇendra ivāparaḥ
sa brahmacārī virprarśiḥ śrīmān gṛtsamado 'bhavaṃ
putro gṛtsamadasyāpi sucetābhavat-dvijaḥ
varcāḥ sutejasaḥ putro vihavyastasya cātmajaḥ
vihavasya tu putrastu vita-tasya cātmajaḥ
vitatasya sutaḥ satyaḥ santaḥ satyas sya cātmajaḥ
śravāstasya sutaścarṣiḥ śravasaścābhavattamaḥ
tamasaś ca prakāśo 'bhuttanayo dvijasattamaḥ
prakāśasya ca vāgindro babhuva jayatāṃ baraḥ
tasyātmajaś ca pramitirveda-vedāṅgapāranga
ghṛtācyāṃ tasya putrastu rururnāmodapadyata
pramadvarāyasta ruroḥ putraḥ samupadyata
śunako nāma viprarṣiryasya putro'tha śaunakaḥ

[Bhīñma] explained how King Vītahavya became a brāhmaṇa: "O King Rajendra, best of the kṣatriyas, Vītahavya was a kṣatriya, but by the grace of Bhṛgu Muni, he became a brāhmaṇa. His son, Gṇtsamada, who was inferior to none save Indra, was a brahmacārī and a learned Ṛṣī. Gṇtsamada's son, Suceta, was a learned brāhmaṇa. Suceta's son was Varcāh, and his son was Vitatya, whose son was Vāgindra. His son was Santa, his son was ṇñiśravā, his son was Tama. Tama's son, was the best of brāhmaṇas, Prakāśa, whose son was Vāgindra, the foremost of all reciters of the Vedic mantras. Vāgindra had a son whose name was Pramati. Pramati was a master of all the Vedas and their branches. Pramati begot in the womb of the apsarā, Ghṇtṃcī, a son named Ruru, who had a son by his wife, Pramadvara. Ruru's son was the venerable ṛṣī, Śunaka. The son of Śunaka was the great sage Śaunaka (who heard Bhāgavatam from Suta Gosvāmī at Naimiśaraṛya).

In this way, O best of kings, the great king Vītahavya, a kṣatriya, attained the status of a brāhmaṇa by the mercy of Bhrgu, and by dint of his sons and decendants becoming great brāhmaṇas. (Mahābhārata, Anuśāsana, 30.66, 58, 60-65)

Examples from Bhāgavatam on Brahminical Conduct

14.57

yavīyāṃsa ekāśītir jāyanteyāḥ pitur ādeśakarā mahā-śālīnā mahā-śrotriyā yajña-śīlāḥ karma-viśuddhā brāhmaṇā babhūvuḥ

In addition to these nineteen sons mentioned above, there were eighty-one younger ones, all born of Rṣabhadeva and Jayantī. According to the order of their father, they became cultured, well-behaved, pure in their activities, expert in Vedic knowledge and the performance of Vedic rituals. (Bhāg. 5.4.13)

14.58

pūror vaṃśaṃ pravakṣyāmi yatra jāto 'si bhārata
yatra rājarṣayo vaṃśyā brahma-vaṃśyāś ca jajñire

[Śukadeva Gosvāmī said] O Mahārāja Parikṣit, descendent of Mahārāja Bhārata, I shall now describe the dynasty of Pūru, in which you were born, in which many saintly kings appeared, and from which many dynasties of brāhmaṇas began. (Bhāg. 9.20.1)

14.59

kāśyaḥ kuśo gṛtsamada iti gṛtsamadād abhūt
śunakaḥ śaunako yasya bahvṛca-pravaro muniḥ

Kṣatravñddha's son was Suhotra, who had three sons, named Kāśya, Kuśa, and Gṛtsamada. From Gṇtsamada came Śunaka, and from him came Śaunaka, the great saint, the best of those conversant with the ṇg Veda. (Bhāg. 9.17.3)

The Words of Brahmā From the Padma-Purāṇa

14.60-62

sac-chrotriya-kule jāto akriyo naiva pūjitaḥ
asat-kṣtrakule pūjyo vyāsa-vaibhāṇḍukay yathā
kṣatriyāṇāṃ kule jāto viśvāmitro'sti matsamaḥ
veśyāputro Vasiṣṭhaś ca anye siddhā dvijātayaḥ
yasya tasya kule jāto guṇavāneva tairgunaiḥ
sākṣād brahmanayo vipraḥ pūjīyah prayatnataḥ

[Lord Brahmā said] If one is born in a family of brāhmaṇas who are absorbed in hearing divine sound, but has bad character and behaviour, he is not worshipable as a brāhmaṇa. On the other hand, Vyāsa and Vaibhāṇḍaka Muni were born in unclean circumstances, but they are worshipable. In the same way, Viśvamitra Muni was born a kṣatriya, but he became equal to me by his qualities and activities. Vasiṣṭha was born as a son of a prostitute. Many other great souls who manifested the qualities of first-class brāhmaṇas also took birth in similar humble circumstances, but they are also called perfect. The place where one takes birth is of no importance in determining whether one is a brāhmaṇa. Those who have the qualities of brāhmaṇas are recognized everywhere as brāhmaṇas, and those who have such qualities are worshipable by everyone. (Padma Purāṇa, Sṇñṭhi-Khaṇḍa 43.321,322 Gautamīya-saṃskaraṇa)

The Seminal Brāhmaṇas of Kali-yuga are Impure

14.63

aśuddhāḥ śūdra-kalpā hi brāhmaṇaḥ kali-sambhavāḥ
teṣām āgama-mārgeṇa śuddhir na śrota-vartmanā

The brāhmaṇas born in the age of Kali are merely śūdras. Their so-called Vedic path of karma is polluted and cannot purify them. They can only be purified by following the path of the āganas or pañcaratrika-viddhi. (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 5.5, from Viṣṇu Yāmala)

What is Dīkṣā?

14.64

divyam jñānaṃ yato dadyāt kuryāt pāpasya saṃkṣayam
tasmād-dīkṣeti sā proktā deśikais tattva-kovidaiḥ

The process by which divine knowledge (divya jñāna) is given and sins are destroyed is called dikṣa by the highly learned scholars who are expert in spiritual affairs. (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 2.9, from Viṣṇu Yāmala)

Dīkṣā can Make a Common man a Brāhmaṇa

14.65

yathā kañcanatāṃ yāti kāṃsyaṃ rasa-vidhānataḥ
tathā-dīkṣā-vidhānena dvijatvaṃ jāyate nṛṇām

Just as bell metal is transformed into gold by alchemy, a common man is transformed into a twice-born brāhmaṇa by dīkṣā from a bona find spiritual master. (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 2.12, from Tattva Sṃgara)

14.65a

nṛṇāṃ sarveṣām eva dvijatvaṃ "vipratā"

The purport is that anyone can become twice-born if he is properly initiated. (Sanātana Gosvāmī's Dig Darśinī commentary on the above verse)

The Guru Initiates the Humble Disciple

14.66

svayaṃ brahmaṇi nikṣaptān jātān eva hi mantrataḥ
vinītānatha putrādīn saṃskṛtya pratibhodhayet

When the guru gives the mantra to his disciple according to the rules and regulations of pāñcarātrika-viddhi, then, by the influence of that mantra, the disciple never takes birth again. A humble disciple conducts himself with great respect for his spiritual master as if he is a son of the guru. To such a humble disciple, who has been purified by the appropriate saṃskāras, the guru teaches the meaning of the mantra. This is the way that spiritual initiation is performed according to the rules and regulations of scripture. (Nārada Paṣcarātra, Bharadvāja-saṃhitā 2.34)

The Evidence of Mahābhārata

14.67

etaiḥ karma-phalair-devi nyūna-jāti-kulodbhavaḥ
śūdro'py āgama-sampanno dvijo bhavati saṃskṛtaḥ

O goddess, even a śūdra can be purified though carefully following the proper conduct of a brāhmaṇa as prescribed in the Pañcaratra. Thus he is purfied of karmic reactions and by accepting initiation from a bona fide spiritual master he becomes a brāhmaṇa. (Mahābhārata, Anuśāsana Parva 143.46)

14.68

na yonir nāpi saṃskāro na śrutaṃ na ca santatiḥ
kāraṇāni dvijatvasya vṛttam eva tu kāraṇam

Neither birth, nor purificatory rites (saṃskāras), nor learning, nor offspring are qualifications for brahminical status. Only brahminical conduct is the basis for brahminical status. (Mahābhārata, Anuśāsana Parva 143.50)

14.69

sarvo'yaṃ brāhmaṇo loke vṛttena tu vidīyate
vṛtte sthitastu śūdro'pi brāhmaṇatvaṃ niyacchati

All genuine brāhmaṇas in the world are brāhmaṇas by virtue of their conduct. A śūdra who is established in good conduct is regarded as having attained the status of a brāhmaṇa. (Mahābhārata, Anuśāsana Parva 143.51)

The Conclusion of the Gosvāmīs

14.70

brāhmaṇa-kumārāṇāṃ śaukre janmani durjātitvābhāvo'pi savana-yogy-atvāya puṇya-viśesamaya sāvitra-janma-sāpekṣatvāt. Tataśca adīkṣitasya śvādasya. śvādasya savana yogyatva-pratikūla-durjātyāramakaṃ prārabdhamapi gatam eva, kintu śiṣṭhācārābhāvāt adīkṣitasya śvādasya dīkṣāṃ vinā sāvitryaṃ janma nāstīti brāhamana-kumārāṇāṃ savana-yogyatvā bhāvāvacchedaka puṇya viśeṣamaya-savitra janmāpekṣāvadasya adīkṣitasya śvādasya sāvitrya-janmāntaropekso vartata iti bhāvaḥ

[This is a quotation from Jīva Gosvāmī's commentary on a verse of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, Pūrva Vibhāga 1.13, which Rūpa Gosvāmī quotes from Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (3.33.6).]

The Bhāgavatam verse and its purport by Śrīla Prabhupāda is given as follows: "To say nothing of the spiritual advancement of persons who see the Supreme Person face to face, even a person born in a family of dog-eaters immediately becomes eligible to perform Vedic sacrifices if he once utters the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or chants about Him, hears about His pastimes, offers Him obeisances or even remembers Him.

Purport: Herein the spritual potency of chanting, hearing or remembering the holy name of the Supreme Lord is greatly stressed. Rūpa Gosvāmī has discussed the sequence of sinful activities of the conditioned soul, and he has established, in Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu, that those who engage in devotional service become freed from the reactions of all sinful activities. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gītā. The Lord says that He takes charge of one who surrenders to Him and makes him immune to all reactions to sinful activities.

If by chanting the holy name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead one becomes so swiftly cleared of all reactions to sinful activities, then what is to be said of those persons who see Him face to face? Another consideration here is that persons who are purified by the process of chanting and hearing become immediately eligible to perform Vedic sacrifices. Generally, only a person who is born in a family of brāhmaṇas, who has been reformed by the ten kinds of purificatory processes and who is learned in Vedic literature is allowed to perform the Vedic sacrifices, but here the word sadyaū, "immediately," is used.

Śrīdhara Svāmī also remarks that one can immediately be eligible to perform Vedic sacrifices. A person born in a family of the low caste which is accustomed to eating dogs is so positioned due to his past sinful activites, but by chanting or hearing once in pureness, or in a offenseless manner, he is immediately relieved of the sinful reaction. Not only is he relieved of the sinful reaction, but he immidiately achieves the result of all purificatory processes. Taking birth in the family of a brāhmaṇa is certainly due to pious activities in one's past life, but still a child who is born in a brāhmaṇa family depends on his further reformation upon initiation, acceptance of a sacred thread, and many other reformatory processes.

But a person who chants the holy name of the Lord, even if born in family of caṛdṃlas, dog-eaters, does not need reformation. Simply by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, he immediately becomes purified and becomes as good as the most learned brāhmaṇa. Śrīdhara Svāmī especially remarks in this connection, anena pūjyatavaṃ lakṣyate. Some caste brāhmaṇas remark that by chanting Hare Kṛṣṇa, purification begins. Of course, that depends on the individual process of chanting, but this remark of Śrīdhara Svāmī's is completely applicable if one chants the holy name of the Lord without offense for he immediately becomes more than a brāhmaṇa. As Śrīdhara Svāmī says, pūjyatvam: he immediately becomes as respectable as a most learned brāhmaṇa and can be allowed to perform Vedic sacrifices.

If simply by changing the holy name of the Lord one becomes sanctified instantly, then what can be said of those persons who see the Supreme Lord face to face and who can understand the descent of the Lord as Devahūti understands Kapiladeva. Usually, initiation depends on the bona fide spiritual master, who directs the disciple. If he sees that a disciple has become competent and purified by the process of chanting, he offers the sacred thread to the disciple just so that he will be recognized as one-hundred-percent equal with a brāhmaṇa. This is also confimed in the Hari-bhakti-vilāsa by Śrī Sanātana Gosvāmī:

"As base metal can be changed into gold by a chemical process, any person can similarly be changed into a brāhmaṇa by dikṣṃ-vidhāna, the initiation process." It is sometimes remarked that by the chanting process one begins to purify himself and can take birth in his next life in a brāhmaṇa family and then be reformed.

But at this present moment, even those who are born in the best brāhmaṇa families are not reformed, nor is there any certainty that they are actually born of brāhmaṇa fathers. Formerly the garbhādhāna reformatory system was prevalent, but at the present moment there is no such garbhadhāna, or seed-giving ceremony. Under these circumstances, no one knows if a man if factually born of a brāhmaṇa father. Whether one has acquired the qualification of a brāhmaṇa depends on the judgement of the bona fide spiritual master. He bestows upon the disciple the position of a brāhmaṇa by his own judgement. When one is accepted as a brāhmaṇa in the sacred thread ceremony, under the pāñcarātrika system, then he is dvija, twice-born. That is confimed by Sanātana Gosvāmī: dvijatvaṃ jāyate. By the process of initiation, a person is accepted as a brāhmaṇa in his purified state of chanting the holy name of the Lord. He then makes further progress to become a qualified Vaiṣṇava, which means that the brahminical qualification is already acquired.

The import of the above commentary by Jīva Gosvāmī on this verse is summarized as follows by Bhakti Hṛdaya vana Mahārāja in his translation of Bhakti-rasāmṛta-sindhu (which Śrīla Prabhupāda at one time authorized us to read in a letter to Yamunā Dāsī in 1968):

"According to Śrī Jīva Gosvāmī, though this rudimentary bhakti in a born caṇḍāla will remove the effects of his past misdeeds, yet he must wait for the next birth in a higher social status to qualify himself for the performance of the Vedic sacrifices. [Śrīla Jīva Gosvaāī says that just as one who is born a brāhmaṇa must wait to be purified though the sacred thread ceremony in order to perform sacrifice, in the same way, one who has chanted the holy name is eligible to perform Vedic sacrifice, but must wait to take birth as a brāhmaṇa in order to actually perform Vedic sacrifice.]

Jīva Gosvāmī, it is obvious, is reluctant to disturb the social order and tries to conform, as far as possible to the extant practices and ideas of the Hindu society of his time. Viśvanatha Cakravartī, however, considers Jīva Gosvāmī's view to give away the whole case for the quality of prārabdha-pṃpaharatva [power of deliverance from sin] that is claimed for bhakti. Viśvanātha's view is that bhakti, however slight, will at once remove all taints from the fallen human being and qualify him for the highest social duties of the Hindus. This is rather a controversial problem. The question is between 'eligibility' and ' capability'. Jīva Gosvāmī here argues that a brāhmaṇa born in a higher social order because of good deeds in previous births is eligible to perform Vedic rituals; while even a caṇḍāla born in the lowest social order owing to his misdeeds in previous births, becomes fully capable of performing such Vedic rituals when his prārabdha is wiped out by singing and listening to the name of the Lord in the stage of practice of bhakti."

But, as even a person born in a brāhmaṇa family has to wait till his sacred thread ceremony before he can actuallly perform such Vedic rituals in spite of his eligibility, so a devotee born in a caṇḍāla family, is cleansed of his sins committed in previous births by practising the rudiments of bhakti and becomes eligble to perform Vedic rites, but he does not do this as he is not interested in the fruits of Vedic karma."

14.71

tad evaṃ dīkṣātaḥ parastād eva tasya dhruvasyeva
dvijitva-saṃskārasta-dāvādhi-tatvāttattan-mantrādhi devāj-jātaḥ

As soon a Lord Brahmā was initiated by the gāyatrī mantra he was twice born. After this, the mantra sprang forth from the lotus mouth of that foremost of the demigods and he began to chant the gāyatrī [by which all subsequent brāhmaṇas are initiated.](Brahma-saṃhitā 5.27, Jīva Gosvāmī's commentary)

Three kinds of Birth Seminal, Brahminical, and Mantra-dīkṣā

14.72

māturagre'dhi-jananaṃ dvitīyaṃ mauñjibandhane
tṛtīyaṃ yajña-dīkṣāyāṃ dvijasya śruti-codanāt

The śruti states that a brāhmaṇa gets his first birth from his mother (śaukra-janma, seminal birth). He gets his second birth by receiving the sacred thread (sṃvitra-janma), and finally he gets his third birth by yajña-dīkṣā (ceremonial initiation at a fire sacrifice). (Manu-saṃhitā 2.169)

Śrīdhara Svāmī's Remarks on the Three Kinds of Birth

14.73

trivṛt śotraṃ sāvitraṃ daikṣamiti triguṇitaṃ janma

[In this verse from Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (10.23.39), dhig janma nastrivṇd..."To hell with our threefold birth as brāhmaṇas!] The word tṇvṇt means the threefold births śaukra-janma, purity of heredity and family, sṃvitra-janma, investiture with the sacred thread and initiation into the gāyatrī-mantra, and daikṣa-janma (consecration for Vedic sacrifices). (Śrīdhara Svāmī, Bhāvārtha-dīpikā 10.23.39)

Who has Done the Forty-eight Kinds of Saṃskāras is a Brāhmaṇa

14.74

"yasyaite'ṣṭha catvāriṃśat saṃskārāḥ sa brāhmaṇaḥ"

One who has performed the forty-eight kinds of saṃskāras is a brāhmaṇa.

1. garbhādhāna impregnation

2. puṃsavana causing the birth of a male child

3. sīmantonnayana parting of the hair

4. jāta-karma the duties after the birth of a child

5. nāma-karaṛa naming ceremony

6. niṣkramaṇa taking the child out of the room for the first time

7. anna-prāśāna eating grains

8. karaṛavedha piercing ears

9. caudakarma shaving the head

10. upanayana sacred thread

11. samāvartane completing education

12. vivāha marriage

13. antyeṣṭi funeral

14. deva yajña sacrifice to the gods

15. pitṛ yajña sacrifice to manes

16. bhuta yajña sacrifice to living beings.

17. nara yajña sacrifice to human beings

18. atithi yajña treating the guests

19-41. deva-vrata catuñṭhaya, añṭhakā-śrāddha, pṃrvaṛa-śrāddha, śrāvanī, āgrāyaṛī, prauñṭhapadī, caitra, cṃturmāsya, niruḍa paśubandha, sautrāmaṛi, agniñṭhoma, atyagniñṭhoma, uktha, ñoḍañī, vājpeya, atirātra, āptoryāma, rājasūyā names of various sacrifices

42-45. agnyādheyam, agnihotram, darśa-paurṇamasya, agrayāṛeñṭi.

46. śauca cleanliness

47. anāyasa-maṅgalācāra The auspicious acts done without endeavor.

48. akārpaṛya aspṛhā freedom from miserliness and desire. (Mahābhārata, Śānti Parva 189.2)

The One Branch and the Many Branches

14.75

yad apy uktaṃ garbhādhānādi-dāhānta-saṃskārāntara-sevanād bhāgavatā nāma-brāhmaṇyam-itiḥ tatrāpy-ajñānam-evāparādhyati, na punarāyusmato doṣaḥ; yadete vaṃśa-paramparayā bājasaneya-śākhā-madhīyānāḥ kātyāyanādi-gṛhyokta-mārgeṇa garbhādhānādi-saṃskārān kurvate, ye punaḥ sārvatranuvacana-prabhṛti trayī-dharma-tyāgena ekāyana-śruti-vihitāneva catvāriṃśat saṃskārān kurvate te'pi svaśākhā gṛhyoktam-arthaṃ yathādanutiṣṭhamānāḥ na śākhāntarīya-­karmānuṣṭhānād-bṛāhmaṇyāt pracyavante, anyeṣāmapi paraśākhā-vihita-karmān-anuṣṭhāna-nimittā-brāhmaṇya-prasaṇgāt.

[In the Āgama-Prāmāṇya, Yāmunācārya establishes the Prāmāṇya, or authority, of the Pañcarātrika scriptures (āgama, tantra, śāstra) in defense against the community of smārta brāhmaṇas who were at the time challenging the authority of the Pañcaratra traditions as being non-Vedic. Because Yāmunācārya's credibility as a Vedic brāhmaṇa could not be challenged, he was in a strong position to mount a defense of Pañcarātrika traditions.

According to Yāmunācārya, the class of qualified brāhmaṇas included those Deity worshipers who were not professional, but who worshiped only for their own benefit and the benefit of others, and who performed forty saṃskāras or purificatory practices based on the ancient Vājasaneya or Śukla Yajur Veda as an alternative to the traditional Vedic practices. The ritualistic priests, or smārta-brāhmaṇas, who were Yāmunācārya's enemies claimed that the practice of these alternate saṃskāras were non-Vedic, and therefore unholy. They accused Yāmunācārya of deceit by trying to base the system of saṃskāras on the lost Vedic scriptures. The ācārya's arguments on this point were difficult for the smārtas to defeat, however, since the practice of referring to lost Vedic scriptures was invented by the smārtas themselves to justify their own non-Vedic practices and give them a "Vedic" basis. Even the strictest smārta brāhmaṇa has to admit that there are injunctions and rituals in the dharma-śāstras for which there are no known Vedic injuctions, but for which a Vedic basis must be presumed.

In light of this, smārta brāhmaṇas have often appealed to the lost Vedic scriptures (such as the single original Veda which Vyāsadeva divided into three parts) in order to justify the practices and rules of corollary Vedic literatures such as the Manu-saṃhitā, which forms much of the basis for smārta ritual. While the smārtas attempt to discredit the idea that their own arguments can be used against them to establish Vedic support for Pañcarātrika practice, Yāmunācārya's arguments cannot be defeated without also destroying the basis for smārta ritual.

Yāmunācārya says: It has been said that the Bhāgavatas are polluted, because they have given up the Vedic saṃskāras, and have accepted an alternative system of purifactory rituals, beginning with the garbhādhāna-saṃskāra and ending with the funeral ceremony. My opponents have argued that the verdict of the scripture concerning offenders is clear on this point. In answer to this, I must say, in the words of Ayuñmān, that there is no fault in my opponents; the only fault is with their ignorance, because the forty purificatory rituals of saṃskāras practiced by the Bhāgavatas have descended from the "one Veda," the Ekāyana Śākha, or the "one branch" of the Śukla Yajur Veda, beginning with the Kātyāyana, which includes scriptural injuctions about the prescribed religious ceremonies to be performed at birth, marriage, and so on.

This process has descended through an ancient and unbroken family tradition in different brahminical families who for many generations have followed all these purifcatory practices, beginning with the garbhādhāna and other saṃskāras. In fact, those who perform these forty saṃskāras cannot be considered unbrahminical for failing to follow the saṃskāras as they are mentioned in the three Vedas. They do not fall from brahminical status simply for favoring the ancient and more traditional saṃskāras mentioned in the One Veda (Ekāyana-śruti) over those recommended in the three Vedas. These devotee brāhmaṇas are simply following carefully the ancient tradition of the one Veda and cannot be faulted for not following another branch of the Vedas. If it were the case that a brāhmaṇa who follows the rules of one branch of the Vedas is not "Vedic" and loses his caste for not following the rules of another branch of the Vedas, then all brāhmaṇas would lose their caste, because different systems of rules governing rituals are found in differenct parts of the Vedas. (And it is not possible to follow all of them, since by following the rules of one system one will violate the rules of other systems). (Śrī Yāmunācārya, Āgama-prāmāṇa)

Vaiṣṇavas are not Śūdras

14.76

na śūdrā bhagavad-bhaktāste tu bhāgavatā matāḥ
sarva-varṇeṣu te śūdrā ye na bhaktā janārdane

One who is a paragon of devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead can never be called a śūdra; rather he is glorified as a Bhāgavata, or one who is connected with Bhagavān. On the other hand, those who are antagonistic to bhakti are considered to be śūdras, no matter what caste they are born in. (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, 10.165)

Except for Paramahaṃsas, Devotees Worship

in Varṇāśrama and Accept the Sacred Thread

14.77

bahiḥ sūtram tyajed-vidvān yogam uttamam āsthitaḥ
brahma-bhāva-mayaṃ sūtraṃ dhārayed yaḥ sa cetanaḥ

Established in the state of the highest yoga, the wise should reject the external sacred thread. One who is really self-conscious must put on the thread constituted by awareness of spiritual reality. (Brahmopaniṣad 28)

The Sacred Thread Worn by Those who are Brāhmaṇas

in Name Only is the Ugly Conceit of the Proud

14.78

brahma-tattvaṃ na jānāti brahma-sūtreṇa gārvitaḥ
tenaiva sa ca pāpena vipraḥ paśurudāhṛtaḥ

A so-called brāhmaṇa who has no spiritual knowledge, but who, out of pride, wears the thread of a brāhmaṇa is certainly only a sinful impostor who is no better than a two-legged animal. (Atri Saṃhitā 372)

Real Brāhmaṇas

14.79

yathā kāṣṭhamayo hastī yathā carma-mayo mṛgaḥ
yaś ca vipro'nadhīyānas trayaste nāma vibhrati

Just as an elephant made of wood is an elephant in name only, and a deer made of leather is a deer in name only, similarly a brāhmaṇa who is devoid of Vedic knowlege is a brāhmaṇa in name only. (Manu-saṃhitā 2.157)

Giving the Sacred Thread to Those not on the

Vedic Path is Forbidden

14.80

yo'nadhītya dvijo vedam anyatra kurute śramam
sa jīvan eva śūdratvam āśu gaccati sāṇvayaḥ

A brāhmaṇa who without studying the Vedas who labors for other things material wealth, position, adoration, and other opulences, becomes śūdra along with all his family members. (Manu-saṃhitā 2.168)

14.81 - 84

vipraḥ saṃskāra-yukto na nityaṃ sandhyādi-karma yaḥ
naimitikastu no kuryāt brāhmaṇa-bruva ucyate
yuktaḥ syāt sarva-saṃskārair-dvijastu niyama-vrataiḥ
karma kiñcit na kurute vedoktaṃ brāhmaṇa bruvaḥ garbhādhānādibhir yuktas tathopanayanena ca
na karma-kṛt na cādhīte sa jñeyo brāhmaṇa-bruvaḥ
adhyāpayati no śiṣyān nādhīte vedam uttamam
garbhādhānādi-saṃskārair yutaḥ syād brāhmaṇa-bruvaḥ

 

A"brāhmaṇa" who has failed to perform any of the ten kinds of saṃskāras, who fails to regularly perform the duties of a brāhmaṇa, beginning with sandhya, vandya, etc., is a brāhmaṇa in name only (brāhmaṇa-bruva). Such a "brāhmaṇa" fails to follow any rules or vows, nor does he perform the ceremonial purificatory rituals mentioned in the Vedas. He has not been properly purified either by garbadhāna-saṃskāra or by the sacred thread ceremony, and neither does he study the Vedas. Such a worthless, so-called brāhmaṇa does not study the best of Vedic scriptures, nor does he teach them to his so-called disciples. (Padma Purāṇa)

14.85

kulluka-bhaṭṭa-ṭīkā yo brāhmaṇaḥ kriyā-rahita
ātmānaṃ brāhmaṇaṃ bravīti, sa brāhmaṇa-bruvaḥ

According to the commentary of Kulluka Bhaṭṭa, one who is devoid of proper behavior of a brāhmaṇa, and yet represents himself as a brāhmaṇa is a brāhmaṇa in name only. (Manu-saṃhitā 7.58)

14.86

atapās-tvanadhīyānaḥ pratigraha-rucir-dvijaḥ
ambhasy-aśma-plavenaiva saha tenaiva majjati

A brāhmaṇa devoid of austerity, who has not studied the Vedas, and yet accepts charity as a brāhmaṇa is condemned. Such brāhmaṇas are like a stone raft both themsleves and those who give them charity are doomed to go down in the ocean of hellish material existence. (Manu-saṃhitā 4.190)

The Consequences for the Brāhmaṇas in Name Only

14.87

aliṅgo liṅgiveṣeṇa yo-vṛttim-upajīvati
sa liṅgināṃ haratyenas-tiryag yonau cajāyate

When one unfit to wear the sacred thread of a brāhmaṇa wears it and earns his livelihood through sinful and unholy behaviour, such a person incurs sin and takes birth in sub-human wombs. (Manu-saṃhitā 4.200)

Students and Pracitioners of Professional

Brahmanism are Condemned

14.88

bhṛtak-ādhyāpako yaś ca bhṛtak-ādhyāpitas-tathā
śūdra-śiṣyo guruś caiva vāg duṣṭaḥ kuṇḍa-golokau

One who teaches the Vedas by accepting salary, one who studies by giving salary, disciple of a śūdra, guru of a śūdra, one who speaks nonsense and bastards should be avoided. (Manu-saṃhitā 3.156)

Demigod Worship and Other Unbrahminical Activities

14.89

api cācāratas-teṣām abrahmaṇyaṃ pratīyate
vṛttito devatā-pūjā-dīkṣā-naivedya-bhakṣaṇam
garbhādhānādi-dāhānta-saṃskārāntara-sevanam
śrautakriyā' nanuṣṭhānaṃ dvijaiḥ sambandha-varjanam
ity-ādibhiranācārair-abrahmanyaṃ sunirṇayam

 

Professional temple priests, who perform ritual worship of demigods in order to maintain their livelihood and who accept non-Vedic tantric initiations to do so find that their pūjā, their dīkṣā, their sacrificial offerings, and their offerings of foodstuffs are all unclean and unbrahminical. The results of their so-called saṃskāras, beginning with the garbhādhāna-saṃskāra, are burned to ashes. In order to correct themselves they must again undergo all the saṃskāras mentioned in the scriptures. Their study of the śruti is without any positon; having given up their connection with the genuine communtiy of twice-born brāhmaṇas, their worship is void and unbrahminical, and their association is polluting to true brāhmaṇas. (Śrī Yāmunācārya, Āgama Prāmāṇya, discussion of Sātvata Śāstra)

Demigod Worship by Brāhmaṇas is Condemned

14.90

devakośopajīvī yaḥ sa devalaka ucyate
vṛttyarthaṃ pūjayed-devaṃ trīṇi varṣāṇi yo dvijaḥ
sa vai devaloko nāma sarva-karmasu garhitaḥ

One who worships the demigods in order to increase his material wealth is called a "devala." Any brāhmaṇa who worships the demigods for three years is considered to be a devala. All his work is condemned from beginning to end. (Śrī Yāmunācārya, Āgama Prāmāṇya)

14.91

eṣāṃ vaṃśakramā deva devārcā vṛttito bhavet

teṣām adhyayane yajñe yājane nāsti yogyatā

Whoever worships the demigods on the basis of his family tradition his study of the Vedas, his yajña, and his worship have no connection with proper brahminical conduct. (Śrī Yāmunācārya, Āgama Prāmāṇya)

Demigod Worship is Damned

14.92

āpadyapi ca kaṣṭhāyāṃ bhīto va durgato'pi vā
pūjayenaiva vṛttyartaṃ deva-devaṃ kadācana

One should not engage in demigod worship, in which one must suffer pain, trouble, fear, danger, and difficulty. (Śrī Yāmunācārya, Āgama Prāmāṇya)

Spiritual Brahmanism

14.93

ya etad akṣaraṃ gārgi viditvāsmāl-lokāt praiti sa brāhmaṇaḥ

O Gṃrgi, one who is acquainted with that infallible truth by which one transcends death is a brāhmaṇa. (Bṇhad-Āraṇyaka 3.9.10)

14.94

tam eva dhīro vijñāya prajñāṃ kurvīta brāhmaṇaḥ

A wise person who knows the Supreme Lord, Parabrahman, through the process of devotion, is a brāhmaṇa. (Bṇhad-Āraṇyaka 4.4.21)

Who is a Brāhmaṇa?

14.95 and 96

jāta-karmādibhir-yastu saṃkāraiḥ saṃskṛtaḥ śuciḥ
vedādhyayana-sampannaḥ ṣaḍ saṭ karmasvasthitaḥ
śaucācārasthitaḥ samyag vighasāśī gurupriyaḥ
nityabralī satyaparaḥ sa vai brāhmaṇa ucyate

[Bharadvāja Muni said, "O best of the twice-born, Ṛṣi among the brāhmaṇas, best of the orators of Vedic knowledge, kindly instruct us in the differences between brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas, and śūdras." Bhṛgu Muni replied]:

One whose birth and subsequent works have all been purified by the appropriate saṃskāras, who has the qualities of purity and cleanliness, who is devoted to Vedic study, who performs worship of the Supreme Lord, Viṣṇu, and who instructs others in that worship, who is a paragon of the six activities of a brāhmaṇa, whose behaviour is never impure, who eats the remnants of his guru's prasṃda, who is dear to the guru, who always carefully follows his vows, and who is fixed in the truth is known as a brāhmaṇa. (Bhāradvāja Muni)

A Vaiṣṇava is the Best of all and the Guru of Everyone

14.97

viṣṇor ayaṃ yato hyāsīt tasmād-vaiṣṇava ucyate
sarveśāṃ caiva varṇānāṃ vaiṣṇavaḥ śreṣṭhaḥ ucyate

One who is related to Viṣṇu through devotion is known as a Vaiṣṇava. A genuine Vaiṣṇava is superior to all the varṇas and is the best of all. (Padma Purāṇa, Uttara Khaṇḍa 39)

A Vaiṣṇava from a Caṇḍala Family is Worshipable by Brāhmaṇas

14.98

urdha puṇḍram mṛjuṃ saumyaṃ sacihnaṃ dhārayed yati
sa caṇḍālo'pi śuddhātmā pūjya eva sadā dvijaiḥ

A caṇḍāla who is a pure Vaiṣṇava at heart and who decorates the eleven parts of his body with viṣṇu-tilāka and sandalwood paste is always worshipable, even by the best of brāhmaṇas. (Padma Purāṇa, Uttatra Khaṇḍa 66.84)

14.99 and 100

sakṛt praṇāmī kṛṣṇasya mātuḥ stanyaṃ pibenna hi
haripāde mano yeṣāṃ tebhyo nityaṃ namo namaḥ
pukkasaḥ śvapaco vāpi ye cānye mleccha-jātayaḥ
te'pi vandyā mahābhāgā haripādaika-sevakāḥ

One who even once completely gives up false ego and offers obeisances to the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa will never have to take birth again. One who keeps the holy feet of Hari within his mind is always worthy of worship. Whether one is a pukkasaū, a dog-eater, or a mleccha, if he takes shelter of the lotus feet of Śrī Hari with pure devotion, and serves Him with attachment, is to be considered most fortunate and highly worshipable. (Padma Purāṇa, Svarga Khaṇḍa, 50.10)

Vaiṣṇavas are Infallible

14.101

sarvatrāskhalitādeśaḥ sapta-dvīpaika-daṇḍa-dhṛk
anyatra brāhmaṇa-kulād anyatrācyuta-gotrataḥ

Mahārāja Pṇthu was an unrivalled king who had the scepter for ruling all seven islands on the surface of the globe. No one could disobey his irrevocable orders except for the saintly persons, the brāhmaṇas, and the decendants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead (the Vaiṣṇavas). (Bhāg. 4.21.12)

The Difference Between a Devotee

who is Low-Born and an Expert Brāhmaṇa

14.102


na me priyaś caturvedī mad-bhaktaḥ śvapacaḥ priyaḥ
tasmai deyaṃ tato grāhyaṃ sa ca pūjy yathā hyayam

A brāhmaṇa who is expert in studying all four Vedas is not dear to Me. But a devotee who comes from a family of caṇḍālas is dear to Me. He should be offered gifts and one should accept gifts from him. He is as worhipable as I am. (Hari-bhakti-vilāsa 10.127)

One who Takes the Holy Name of Kṛṣṇa, has Performed Austerity, Sacrifice, Holy Baths, and Vedic Study, and is Saved

14.103

aho bata śva-paco 'to garīyān yaj-jihvāgre vartate nāma tubhyam
tepus tapas te juhuvuḥ sasnur āryā brahmānūcur nāma gṛṇanti ye te

O Lord, how glorious are they whose tongues always chant Your holy name! Even if born in a family of dog-eaters, such persons are worshipable. Those who chant Your holy name must have performed all kinds of austerities and sacrifices. They must have achieved all the good qualities of the Āryans. They must have bathed at all the holy places, studied the Vedas, and fulfilled all to chant the Vedas and perform yajña. (Bhāg. 3.33.7)

The Behavior of Advaita Prabhu Instructs

that a Vaiṣṇava is the Guru of the Brāhmaṇas

14.104

ācārya kahena, "tumi nā kāriha bhaya
sei ācariba, yei śāstra-mata haya
tumi khāile haya koṭī-brāhmaṇa-bhojana"
eta bali, śraddha-pātra karāila bhojana

[After Advaita Ācārya offered Haridāsa Ṭhākura the śrāddha-paṭra, which is usually offered to a worshipable brāhmaṇa, Haridāsa Ṭhākura was surprised. Reassuring him] Advaita Ācārya replied, "My dear Haridāsa, do not be afraid, I shall behave strictly according to the principles of the revealed scriptures. Feeding you is equal to feeding ten million brāhmaṇas. Therefore, accept this śrāddha-pātra." Thus Advaita Ācārya made him eat. (Cc. Antya 3.221-222)

A Vaiṣṇava is the Guru for Millions of Brāhmaṇas

14.105

brāhmaṇānāṃ sahasrebhyaḥ satrayājī viśiṣyate
satra-yāji sahasrebhyaḥ sarva-vedānta-pāragaḥ
sarva-vedānta-vit-koṭyā viṣṇu-bhakto viśiṣyate
vaiṣṇavānāṃ sahasrebhya ekānty eko viśiṣyate

Among many thousands of brāhmaṇas, a yajñika brāhmaṇa is best. Amount thousands of yajñika brāhmaṇas, one who fully knows Vedānta is best. Among millions of knowers of Vedānta, one who is a devotee of Viṣṇu is best. And among thousands of devotees of Viṣṇu, one who is an unalloyed Vaiṣṇava is best. (Bhakti-sandarbha 177)

Thus ends the Fourteenth Jewel of the Gauḍīya-Kaṇṭhahāra, entitled Varṇadharma-tattva

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