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The third birth
There are three kinds of birth-
shaukra, savitra, and daiksha.
Although “third birth” may sound new to many persons, there are so many references to this in the scriptures. Those who have studied the Bhargaviya Manu-samhita must have come across the following verse in the Second Chapter: matur agre 'dhi-jananam dvitiyam maunjibandhane-“a brahmana gets his first birth from his mother (shaukra-janma, seminal birth), and he gets his second birth by receiving the sacred thread (savitra-janma).” When a twice-born receives spiritual initiation in the form of hearing the Vedas (about one's relationship with the Lord) along with fire sacrifice, it is called “third birth.” The first birth is the birth from one's father and mother. After duly undergoing the purificatory processes one receives second birth from a father in the form of the acarya and a mother in the form of Gayatri. When a twice-born becomes qualified to serve the Supreme Lord, he gets his third birth from a father in the form of the spiritual master and a mother in the form of initiation mantras. In the ascending path, three births-the birth of the body, the birth of the mind, and the formal birth-are found. These three births are described in Shrimad Bhagavatam as shaukra, savitra, and daiksha births. It is stated in Shrimad Bhagavatam (4.31.10 and 10.23.40) as follows: kim janmabhis tribhir veha shaukra-savitra-yajnikaih-“A civilized human being has three kinds of births. The first birth is by a pure father and mother, and this birth is called birth by semen. The next birth takes place when one is initiated by the spiritual master, and this birth is called savitra. The third birth, called yajnika, takes place when one is given the opportunity to worship Lord Vishnu.” and dhig janma nas tri-vrid yat tad dhig vratam dhig bahu-jnatam-“To hell with our threefold birth, our vow of celibacy, and our extensive learning!” In his commentary on the later verse, Shridhara Svamipada has written: trivrit shaukram savitram daiksham iti trigunitam janma. shukra-sambandhi-janma vishuddha-mata-pitribhyam utpattih. savitryam upanayanena yajnikam dikshaya.-“There are three kinds of birth-shaukra, savitra, and daiksha-according to their different qualities. The shaukra-janma refers to birth from a pure father and mother, the savitra-janma refers to birth by undergoing the sacred thread ceremony, and daiksha-janma refers to spiritual initiation before the sacrificial fire.” Birth from a pure father and mother means brahmanad brahmanyam jatah-“a brahmana is born from a brahmana father and mother.”
The qualifications of seminal brahmanas
and examples of professional brahmanas.
One who can ascertain the forefathers of his family beginning from Lord Brahma without any break, who can confirm that they have all properly undergone the ten purificatory processes, who can prove that there was never any intercaste marriages in his family, and who can establish that before each pregnancy the appropriate samskaras have been performed-he is a seminal brahmana. The Vedic statement ashta-varsham brahmanam upanayita-“a brahmana boy should be brought to an acarya for sacred thread ceremony at the age of eight” and the smriti statement garbhashtame 'bde kurvita brahmanasyopanayanam-“a brahmana should be awarded the sacred thread at the age of eight” refer only to the above-mentioned brahmanas, not to the sons of brahmanas who have been accepted as brahmanas only from a few generations. In other words, it does not refer to those in whose family an intercaste marriage took place, to those who have undergone garbhadhana-samskara only once, or to those who have improperly or imperfectly undergone samskaras. “Brahmanas from a few generations” means either the descendants of those who have taken birth in other varnas yet qualified themselves as brahmanas or those who were qualified brahmanas according to the process mentioned in the Vedic literatures. Just as the Gargya brahmanas were descendants of Shini, the son of Garga; the Maudgalya brahmanas were descendants of Mudgala; the Vashishtha brahmanas were descendants of sage Vashishtha, the son of Mitra from the womb of Urvashi; and so on-inumerable such brahmana families, though not shaukra brahmanas, will remain glorified as brahmanas as long as they continue to remain qualified, which is the root foundation of brahmanism.
One's position as a brahmana is determined
according to the Vedas and the Pancaratras.
If the descendants of either seminal or professional brahmanas do not possess the necessary qualifications, then they are also fallen. It is stated in Mahabharata, Vana-parva, Chapter 215 as follows:
brahmanah pataniyeshu vartamano vikarmasu
dambhiko dushkritah prajnah shudrena sadrisho bhavet
“If a brahmana is engaged in sinful activities, if he is proud, or if he is a miscreant, then he falls to the level of a shudra.” According to this statement from the scriptures it is difficult in this age of Kali to ascertain who is in a pure unbroken seminal brahmana line and who is not. Therefore, through the ascending process it is very uncommon to identify a real twice-born or thrice-born. But those who receive the knowledge of serving the transcendental Lord through the process of disciplic succession and follow the Vedic injunctions, they are becoming qualified to undergo the samskaras mentioned in the Vedic literatures. In this age of Kali, there is no other way of becoming purified.
ashuddhah shudra-kalpa hi brahmanah kali-sambhavah
tesham agama-margena shuddhir na shrota-vartmana
“The brahmanas born in the age of Kali are merely shudras. Their so-called Vedic path of karma is polluted and cannot purify them. They can only be purified by following the path of the Agamas or Pancaratras.” Therefore, at present, a brahmana should accepted as such only if he follows the rules and regulations of the satvata-agamas, tantras, or Pancaratras, since the scriptures clearly mention that brahmanas born in this age of Kali are impure, or their purity is not maintained through seminal descent. Therefore according to Vedic injunctions, they cannot even become twice-born in their impure state, and what to speak of becoming thrice-born.
Necessity of the sacred thread ceremony
after receiving pancaratrika initiation.
According to the process of Vaishnava literatures in pursuance of the Vedas, an impure person can become pure only by spiritual initiation; there cannot be any other arrangement for purification. It does not matter in which family one is born, either in a so-called brahmana family or a lower family, if he wants to be purified in this age of Kali then he should earn his qualification to be twice-born by first being initiated according to the rules and regulations of the Vedic Pancaratras and thereafter accept the signs of a twice-born. It is stated in the scriptures:
yatha kancanatam yati kamsyam rasa-vidhanatah
tatha diksha-vidhanena dvijatvam jayate nrinam
“As bell metal is turned to gold when mixed with mercury in an alchemical process, so one who is properly trained and initiated by a bona fide spiritual master immediately becomes a brahmana.” Every human being must take Vaishnava initiation according to the proper Vedic Pancaratra process, then he becomes a qualified twice-born, who must then accept the appropriate signs such as the sacred thread.
Those who consider paramahamsas, who are eternally pure and beyond the principles of varnashrama, as belonging to a particular caste have a hellish mentality.
The paramahamsas, who are actually eternally perfect pure souls, are beyond the principles of varnashrama. They need not again purify themselves. Therefore they may also not accept the sacred thread. This does not mean, however, that they are in any way less than a thrice-born. They are the spiritual masters of the brahmanas, and the brahmanas are their servants.
The four varnas were created according to
quality and work, and examples of twice-borns
who were properly initiated.
In ancient times there was only one varna called hamsa. Later on, according to qualities and work, the four varnas were created-there were not four varnas in the beginning. Of course, there is a gulf of difference between the four varnas and their respective qualifications. Intelligent people should carefully consider this. Apart from the four varnas created by the Lord, the system of a son's purely inheriting the varna of his father has also been accepted. This is called seminal varna. But every reader of the scriptures knows that the seminal process is not the only way of ascertaining one's varna. He certainly knows that among the one hundred sons of Rishabhadeva, eighty-one of them became brahmanas, nine of them became kshatriyas, and nine became Vaishnavas. Apart from brahmana sons such as Shaunaka, Gritsamada also had kshatriya, vaishya and shudra sons. The sons of the kshatriya Duritakshaya-Trayyaruni, Kavi, and Pushkararuni-became brahmanas. In the dynasty of King Ajamidha, the brahmana Priyamedha was born. There are hundreds of such examples in the scriptures. Though Shathakopa Dasa, the spiritual master of Shri Shri Ramanujacarya Prabhu, was born in the family of a shudra, he was a brahmana. And in the Gaudiya Vaishnava society, in the families of Shrila Rasikananda Prabhu, Shrila Raghunandana, Shri Hari Hoda, and others, performance of the twice-born samskara is still current. This spiritual position of brahmanas, attained through spiritual initiation, has been accepted by intelligent people from time immemorial. There is no need to be surprised by seeing or hearing this. (Weekly Gaudiya, Vol.1, Part 28)