|NITAAI-Veda.nyf > All Scriptures By Acharyas > Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura > Brahmana & Vaishnava > Worldly People > Prakriti Jana Kanda|
Section Concerning Worldly People
The pure tracts of land known as Aryavarta and Dakshinatya, which have existed since time immemorial and which stretch from the eastern ocean to the western ocean and from the Himalaya Mountains in the North down to the abode of the demons in the South, are presently known as Bharata-varsha, or India. Being known since time immemorial as karma-kshetra, or the field of fruitive activities, this Bharata-varsha is the land of various activities of innumerable expert fruitive workers. Sometimes the skies of Bharata-varsha are saturated with the rishis' chanting of hymns from the Vedas and the smoke emanating from the sacrificial fires, sometimes the land of Bharata-varsha is soaked with blood from battles between the demigods and demons, sometimes the demons are destroyed by the wonderful prowess of incarnations of the Supreme Lord, sometimes philosophers debate, poets compose sweet verses, scientists display extraordinary expertise-foreigners are astonished on seeing these social and cultural arrangements-in this way various scenes appear in one's heart while reflecting on the land of Bharata. In all these scenes we can see one community as the principle hero; that is the community of brahmanas. The creator of this universe is Lord Brahma; so those who are born from his head, his principle limb, into the field of fruitive activities, those foremost sons and their descendants accepted the designation of brahmana and thus spread his glories. Even today in India the glories of the brahmanas are accepted as truth by men and women, from childhood to old age.
From time immemorial the prestige of the brahmanas has surpassed all opposition and remained intact. Many historical incidents support this fact. All Sanskrit literatures proclaim the glories of the brahmanas. It is stated in the Mahabharata (Vana-parva, Chapter 206):
indro 'py esham pranamate kim punar manavo bhuvi
brahmana hy agni-sadrisha daheyuh prithivim api
apeyah sagarah krodhat krito hi lavanodakah
yesham krodhagnir adyapi dandake nopashamyati
bahu prabhavah shruyante brahmananam mahatmanam
“Even Indra, the King of the demigods, offers obeisances to the brahmanas, so what can be said of the people of earth? The brahmanas are as powerful as fire; if they want they can burn the entire world to ashes. The water of the ocean is salty and therefore undrinkable due to the anger of the brahmanas. The fire in the Dandakaranya forest started by the brahmanas' anger cannot be extinguished even today. Many similar glories of the pious brahmanas are heard.” A compiler of Dharma-shastras, Vishnu (19.20-23), has stated:
devah paroksha-devah. pratyaksha-devah brahmanah.
brahmanair loka dharyante.
brahmananam prasadena divi tishthanti devatah
brahmanabhihitam vakyam na mithya jayate kvacit
yad brahmanas tushtatama vadanti tad devatah pratyabhinandayanti
tushteshu tushtah satatam bhavanti pratyaksha-deveshu paroksha-devah
“The demigods are not seen by gross senses. The brahmanas are manifestions of the demigods. The brahmanas sustain all the planets. The demigods reside in the heavenly planets by the mercy of the brahmanas. The brahmanas' words can never be false. Whatever the brahmanas speak in great satisfaction is accepted by the demigods. When the manifested forms of the demigods, the brahmanas, are satisfied, the demigods, who are beyond sense perception, are also satisfied.” Another compiler of Dharma-shastras, Brihaspati (49, 50, 52), has stated:
shastram ekakinam hanti vipra-manyuh kula-kshayam
cakrat tivra-taro manyus tasmad vipram na kopayet
raja dahati dandena vipro dahati manyuna
“A weapon can destroy only one person, but the anger of a brahmana can destroy one's entire family. The anger of a brahmana is more fiercely powerful than a disc, so one should not make a brahmana angry. A king burns through his punishment, while a brahmana burns through his anger.”
Other compilers of Dharma-shastras, Parashara (6.60, 61) and Shatatapa (1.27, 30), have stated:
brahmana yani bhashante bhashante tani devatah
sarva-deva-maya vipra na tad vacanam anyatha
brahmana jangamam tirtham nirjanam sarva-kamadam
tesham vakyodakenaiva shudhyanti malina janah
“Whatever the brahmanas speak, those are the words of the demigods. The brahmanas are the manifestation of all the demigods. Their words never prove false. The brahmanas are moving secluded holy places that fulfill all desires. Sinful persons are purified by the pure as water words of the brahmanas.” A compiler of Dharma-shastras, Vyasa (4.9, 10, 54), has stated:
brahmanat paramam tirtham na bhutam na bhavishyati
yat phalam kapiladane kartikyam jyeshtha-pushkare
tat phalam rishayah shreshtha vipranam pada-shaucane
vipra-padodaka-klinna yavat tishthati medini
tavat pushkara-patreshu pibanti pitaro 'mritam
yasya dehe sadashnanti havyani tri-divaukasah
kavyani caiva pitarah kim bhutam adhikam tatah
“There is no other, nor will there be, a superior holy place than a brahmana. O best of the sages, simply by honoring the water that has washed the feet of a brahmana one achieves the same result that one attains by donating a brown cow on the full-moon day of Kartika. As long as the earth is moistened by the water that has washed a brahmana's feet, the forefathers will drink nectar from lotus vessels. Through the body of a brahmana, the demigods, though living in heaven, always eat havya offerings and the forefathers in Pitriloka always eat kavya offerings, so who can be superior to such brahmanas?” In the Bhargaviya Manu-samhita (1.93, 94, 96, 99-101) it is stated:
sarvasyaivasya sargasya dharmato brahmanah prabhuh
havya-kavyabhivahyaya sarvasyasya ca guptaye
buddhimatsu narah shreshtha nareshu brahmanah smritah
brahmano jayamano hi prithivyam adhijayate
ishvarah sarva-bhutanam dharma-koshasya guptaye
sarvam svam brahmanasyedam yat kincij jagati-gatam
shraishthyenabhijanenedam sarvam vai brahmano 'rhati
svam eva brahmano bhunkte svam vaste svam dadati ca
anrishamsyad brahmanasya bhunjate hitare janah
“The brahmanas have become the lords of the entire creation through their religious counsel. The brahmanas were born in order to receive havya and kavya offerings on behalf of the demigods and forefathers. Among those with developed intelligence, the human beings are the highest. Among the human beings, the brahmanas are the highest. As soon as they are born, the brahmanas assume the topmost position in this world, and in order to protect religious principles they become the lords of all living entities. All the wealth of this world belongs to the brahmanas. Due to their high birth, the brahmanas are meant to receive all sorts of wealth. Whatever foods a brahmana accepts from others, whatever clothes he accepts from others, whatever items he accepts from others, and whatever items he gives in charity in fact belong to him. Only by his mercy can other people enjoy these things.” Shri Parashara (8.32) further says:
duhshilo 'pi dvijah pujyo na shudro vijitendriyah
kah parityajya dushtam gam duhec chilavatim kharim
“Even if a respectable brahmana who has undergone all reformatory processes is sinful, he should still be worshiped. A self-controlled shudra who is always lamenting, however, should never be worshiped. Who will reject an ill-natured cow to milk a well-behaved she-ass?” Forsaking the Vedic way of life can never be compared with the godless, ever-lamenting, averse to the Vedas state of the shudras.
The prestige of the brahmanas is seen throughout the Ramayana, the Puranas, and the Tantras. Religious-minded people always carefully protect the prestigious position of the brahmanas. In fact throughout the four yugas, religious-minded people of India have neither disrespected nor considered that others should disrespect the brahmanas. In a place where proper respect for each of the varnas is found in social dealings, each varna displays its own greatness by endeavoring to increase the prestigious position of the brahmanas.
All brahmanas are superior to, the protectors of, and more powerful than the demigods, the other castes headed by the kshatriyas, the animals, the birds, the reptiles, and the plants. Due to their sharp intelligence they are capable of acquiring all kinds of knowledge and are exclusively qualified to impart knowledge to others. By virtue of their keen intelligence, they are worshipers of the demigods, they are respectful to the kshatriyas, they are the well-wishers of the vaishyas, shudras, antyajas, and mlecchas, and they assist in the worship of the demigods. On the strength of their renunciation, they are unattached to their assets, they earn their livelihood by begging, and they give their surplus in charity.
Those who have accepted the Aryan way of life in India-the followers of the Vedas, the smartas, the followers of the Puranas, the followers of the Tantras-all offer respects to the brahmanas. The brahmanas are the only masters and experts in executing the three types of rituals. Animals and persons other than brahmanas are naturally obliged to these persons who are endowed with such influence. We are unable to understand who would not desire the mercy of personalities who have such authority, respect from the demigods, and omnipotency. Not only the Aryans, but every Indian; not only the Indians, but the people of the entire world; not only the people, but all living entities; not only the living entities, but even the inanimate world- all should more or less know the uncommon power and influence of the brahmanas and thus certainly consider them to be in the topmost position. The statements of Vaishnava literatures, the far-sighted teachings of sages who are adorned with varieties of knowledge and transcendental opulences, and the unwavering faith of perceptive Indians who respect the scriptures cannot be considered by us as simply encouragement for the wild dancing of useless gossipers.
If one studies the statements of the scriptures of India regarding the prestigious position of the brahmanas with a narrow mind, then all the expected conclusions will turn into churning waves within the ocean of arguments. Such heaps of biased arguments are not pleasing to the ears of opposing thinkers; they only promote the interest of the propounder. The esteemed logicians who maintain such ideas soon fall from their own self-interest and display their narrow sectarian spirit by disrespecting impartiality. Such logicians go to England, Japan, Germany, or America but are unable to attract the faith of intelligent people of those countries in their biased interpretations of the scriptures. If they give up their self-interest and consider things impartially, however, then the deep meaning of the scriptures' purports will easily be revealed in their hearts. In brief, we can say that things in general are perceived as auspicious or inauspicious when seen by swanlike or asslike people respectively; such distinctions of auspicious and inauspicious are the result of these person's language and mentality. As far as we are concerned, we are not busy in simply carrying the load of the scriptures, rather we are on the front line of accepting their essence. I cannot say whether those who have given up the path of reasoning and foolishly accepted carrying the load as the goal will be happy by our presentation.
If we want to analyze who is actually such an influential brahmana, we can find in Manu's Dharma-shastra that in the beginning of creation the universe we now see was devoid of characteristics, invisible, and full of darkness. Thereafter the self-manifest Lord agitated the maha-bhutas and other material elements and entered within in order to illuminate this unmanifest universe. Lord Narayana first created water, and with a desire to produce various progeny from His own body He then placed His seed in it. From His seed a golden egg as brilliant as a thousand suns appeared. Lord Brahma, the creator of all the worlds, was born from that egg. In order to increase the population of all planets, brahmanas were born from the mouth of Brahma, kshatriyas were born from his arms, vaishyas were born from his thighs, and shudras were born from his feet. Thus the four varnas were created. This is explained in the first chapter (5, 6, 8, 9, 31) of Manu's Dharma-shastra as follows:
asid idam tamo-bhutam aprajnatam alakshanam
tatah svayambhur bhagavan avyakto vyanjayan idam
mahabhutadi vrittaujah pradurasit tamo-nudah
so 'bhidhyaya sharirat svat sishrikshur vividhah prajah
apa eva sasarjadau tasu bijam avashrijat
tad andam abhavad dhaimam sahasramshu-sama-prabham
tasmin jajne svayam brahma sarva-loka-pitamahah
lokanam tu vivriddhy-artham mukha-bahuru-padatah
brahmanam kshatriyam vaishyam shudram ca niravartayat
In the Rig-parishishta it is stated:
brahmano 'sya mukham asid bahu rajanyah kritah
uru tad asya yad vaishyah padbhyam shudro `jayata
“The brahmana appeared from his face, the royal class from his arms, the vaishya from his thighs, and the shudra was born from his feet.”
A compiler of Dharma-shastras, Harita (1.12, 15), has stated:
yajna-siddhy-artham anaghan brahmanan mukhato 'shrijat
brahmanyam brahmanenaivam utpanno brahmanah smritah
“From the mouth the sinless brahmanas were created for the purpose of performing sacrifices. The child born of a brahmana in the womb of his brahmana wife is known as a brahmana.” Yajnavalkya (1.90) has stated:
savarnebhyah savarnasu jayante vai sva-jatayah
“When men of the various castes headed by the brahmanas produce children in the wombs of their wives belonging respectively to the same caste, their sons attain the same caste as their fathers.”
When intercaste marriages first became current, the sons born from brahmanas in the womb of either a kshatriya or vaishya woman were also accepted as brahmanas.
brahmanyam brahmanaj jato brahmanah syan na samshayah
kshatriyayam tathaiva syat vaishyayam api caiva hi
“The son born of a brahmana in the womb of a brahmana woman is undoubtably a brahmana, and the son born of a brahmana in the womb of a kshatriya or vaishya woman is also a brahmana.” But medieval smartas such as Kulluka, a commentator on the Manu-samhita, and Vijnaneshvara, the author of the Mitakshara, consider that these intercaste children belong to the caste of their mothers. In the Manu-samhita (10.6) it is stated:
strishv anantara-jatasu dvijair utpaditan sutan
sadrishan eva tan ahur matri-dosha-vigarhitan
“Sons begotten in the wombs of women belonging to castes lower than that of the father are considered as similar to the father but contaminated due to their mothers' inferior position.” In the opinion of some commentators like Kulluka, the caste status of such sons is inferior to that of their fathers and superior to that of their mothers. In some places these sons are given designations like murdhabhishikta. It is stated in the Manu-samhita (10.41) as follows:
viprasya trishu varneshu nripater varnayor dvayoh
vaishyasya varne caikasmin shad ete 'pasadah smritah
sajati-jan antara-jah shat suta dvija-dharminah
shudranam tu sadharmanah sarve 'padhvamsa-jah smritah
“Children born from a brahmana father and a kshatriya, vaishya, or shudra mother; from a kshatriya father and a vaishya or shudra mother; and from a vaishya father and a shudra mother-these six are inferior to the children born of parents belonging to the same caste.”
Sons born of brahmana parents, sons born of kshatriya parents, and sons born of vaishya parents, as well as sons born from brahmana father and either kshatriya or vaishya mother and sons born of kshatriya father and vaishya mother are all considered among the dvijas, or twice-born. They are therefore all eligible for accepting the sacred thread and the other brahminical samskaras. Those sutas, magadhas, and others who are born through pratiloma marriages involving the twice-born classes, such as shudra father with brahmana mother, vaishya father with brahmana mother, or kshatriya father with brahmana mother, shudra father with kshatriya mother, shudra father with vaishya mother, and vaishya father with kshatriya mother, are all considered shudras and therefore do not undergo the sacred thread ceremony.
When the sages who compiled the twenty Dharma-shastras assisted the kings in controlling and maintaining human society, they directed society in following the path of ritualistic fruitive activities. The compilers of the Puranas also recorded the customs and activities of those times. The methods found in the Itihasas and Puranas for ascertaining who was a brahmana are often more or less the same as those found in the Dharma-shastras. Although the Dharma-shastras are composed of rules and regulations, how those rules and regulations were followed in practice and respected by the people of this world has been described by the learned writers of the Itihasas in the course of their describing historical events. In ancient times the activities of the varnas were determined in different provinces by the various textbooks of practical application of rituals belonging to the different branches of the Vedas. That is why the behavior of a family in one region was different from that of a family in another region.
Textbooks of practical application like the Ashvalayana-grihya-sutras and Shankhayana-shrauta-sutras among the Rig Veda branches, the Latyayana-shrauta-sutras and Gobhiliya-grihya-sutras of the Sama Veda branches, the Katyayana-shrauta-sutras and Paraskariya-grihya-sutras of the Shukla-yajur Veda branches, and the Apastambiya-shrauta-sutras of the Krishna-yajur Veda branches, as well as the Kaushitaka-sutras of the Atharva Veda branches were more or less mastered under the support of kings by the sages who compiled the twenty Dharma-shastras.
Moreover, the rules and regulations of a particular Dharma-shastra were followed according to the particular place. In the opinion of some persons, at the beginning of the Kali age the Manu Dharma-shastra and the doctrine of Parashara Muni were prominently accepted, while the other twenty Dharma-shastras were neglected. Others say that the doctrine of Harita was prominent and the activities prescribed by the other Dharma-shastras were neglected. Generally, whatever one found convenient was accepted, without regard for other's consent and liking.
In the medieval age, many new smritis were compiled on the basis of the Dharma-shastras in various parts of the country. Sometimes people gave special credence to certain parts of the Dharma-shastra lawbooks to suit their own taste, and sometimes they neglected the main purpose of the Dharma-shastras by rejecting those portions that did not suit their taste. Those who are conversant with various scriptures can often see this from their study of various books. When the ritualistic smriti-shastras are effective for a particular person, in a particular place, at a particular time, then that particular person at that particular place and time has a high regard for those scriptures. But we cannot say whether this same regard was felt or accepted by other persons in other places and times.
One cannot expect that the ritualistic smriti-shastras will be fully honored by all persons, at all places, and at all times. At those times, in those places, and for those persons for which ritualistic practices are prominent and the topics of jnana and bhakti were not respected, are not respected, and will not be respected, any conduct other than that prescribed in the smriti-shatras have certainly been neglected, are being neglected, and will be neglected. Evidence from the many Vedic sutras, the twenty Dharma-shastras, the Puranas, the Itihasas, the Yamalas, the Pancaratras, and the Tantras is found in the writings of the learned compilers of smriti-shastras of our country, Raghunandana Bhattacarya and Kamalakara. Madhava's Kala-madhava, Kamalakara's Nirnaya-sindhu, Candeshvara's Vivada-ratnakara, Vacaspati's Vivada-cintamani, Jimutavuhana's Daya-bhaga and Kala-viveka, Halayudha's Brahmana-sarvasva, Shulapani's Prayashcitta-viveka, Chalari Nrisimhacarya's Smrity-artha-sagara, Ananda Tirtha's Sad-acara-smriti, Nimbaditya's Surendra-dharma-manjari, Krishnadeva's Nrisimha-paricarya and Ramarcana-candrika-in all these digests differences of opinions due to different tastes are found. Whatever opinion the author nourishes has been supported by those statements of previous sages that suit their taste.
In regards to a brahmana's qualification by birth: in the Anushasana-parva of the Mahabharata and in other scriptures, the apasadas, anulomajas, murdhabhishiktas, and ambashthas are specifically accepted as authorised brahmanas. In many parts of India the sons of apasadas, murdhabhishiktas, and ambashthas are known as brahmanas and considered equal to those born in strict brahmincal lineage. In some parts of India, however, they are rejected and not included amongst the brahmanas. If one studies the Samhitas and certain other parts of the Vedas, the reader will obtain a clear impression that the overall message of the Vedas is the path of fruitive activities. But if one studies texts like the Upanishads, which are the “head” of the Vedas, then one will certainly receive the impression that the science of self-realization is superior, and consequently the path of fruitive activities will appear less important. Moreover, there are two tendencies among the readers of the Upanishads. Some, with a desire to enhance their knowledge of the self, take help from fruitive activities in order to attain the contrary mentality of monism, in which they ultimately give up all activities and practice renunciation. Others, who neither accept nor reject the fruitive activities of this world, neither accept the help of karma-kanda nor the philosophy of jnana-kanda, rather they realize that the Truth established in the Vedas is full of spiritual variegatedness, and thus they engage in His devotional service. A certain great soul who understood that religious persons belong to three categories expressed his understanding in the following verse, quoted by Shrila Rupa Gosvami in his Shri Padyavali:
karmavalambakah kecit kecij jnanavalambakah
vayam tu hari-dasanam pada-tranavalambakah
“Among religious-minded people, some follow the path of fruitive activities and some follow the path of mental speculation, but our only resort is to carry the shoes of Lord Hari's servants.” Karma and jnana are two branches of the Vedic tree. Those who have taken shelter of these two branches have certainly fallen from the standard of pure devotional service. Pure devotional service is the topmost ripened fruit of the Vedic tree. In the field of fruitive activities all people are bound by the fruits of their actions. Although one is freed from bondage to the fruits of karma by the process of jnana, until one takes to pure devotional service he remains bound by the fruits of his karma. Therefore the jnanis are by their own identification bound in fruitive activities. The Shrimad Bhagavatam (3.23.56) says:
neha yat karma dharmaya na viragaya kalpate
na tirtha-pada-sevayai jivann api mrito hi sah
“Anyone whose work is not meant to elevate him to religious life, anyone whose religious ritualistic performances do not raise him to renunciation, and anyone situated in renunciation that does not lead him to devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, must be considered dead, although he is breathing.” People engage in fruitive activities according to their own desires. These activities are divided into four categories-akarma, or actions without fruitive reactions, vikarma, or unauthorized or sinful work, kukarma, or acts against the principles of religion, and sat-karma, or pious activities. From the mundane point of view, those activities that are in the mode of goodness, or that are moral and beneficial for others, are called sat-karma. If one's activities are meant only for fulfilling one's own desires and do not benefit others, they cannot be called sat-karma. Those who give up sinful activities, which harm the performer and others, and engage in activities that are not meant for the pleasure of Lord Vishnu are actually dead, although breathing. Everyone who is on the platform of fruitive activities should execute his own duties for the purpose of dharma. But if one does not engage in all his religious duties for the purpose of developing renunciation, they simply generate ignorance. When a person becomes overly proud of being situated in the mode of goodness, then he gives up pious activities and again becomes attached to activities in the modes of passion and ignorance. The perfection of knowledge is to destroy ignorance by passion, to destroy passion by goodness, and to become detached from goodness by pure goodness. This state is called nirguna, or transcendental to the material modes of nature. Without attaining the state of nirguna, a life of renunciation nourished by ignorance is as good as death. Therefore a person who has acquired knowledge takes shelter of the service of the Supreme Lord, at whose feet are found all the holy places. In other words, he takes shelter of the activities of bhakti. This is the symptom of real life in a living entity. When one surpasses whimsical, unregulated activities, he comes to the level of regulated, pious activities. When he further advances from pious activities, he comes to the level of knowledge, or renunciation, wherein he gives up activities. When a person loses interest in the paths of karma and jnana, he comes to the path of bhakti, which is the highest development of human consciousness. In the pure devotional path there is no scope for fruitive activities, which are meant for sense gratification, or impersonal knowledge, which is meant for renunciation.
Although the three paths and their practices are different, they appear the same in the eyes of foolish people. The people of India who are engaged in karma-kanda consider every human being under the jurisdiction of karma-kanda like themselves. Until one personally understands the powerful reactions of karma, he cannot avoid glorifying karma and desiring to achieve its fruits. When knowledge is awakened, fruitive activities subside and one's self-realization becomes completely purified, then one can finally identify with the propensity for devotional service. One who misunderstands the path of bhakti as another version of the path of karma considers himself a practioner of jnana and simply creates anxiety for himself. Yet the activities performed by such jnanis fall more or less under the category of karma.
Although the self-realization of those who follow the path of bhakti is not actually under the jurisdiction of karma, it appears as such to the eyes of the karmis and jnanis. Respectable persons who are attached to fruitive activities mistakenly consider that the devotees who have taken shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord are on the same platform as themselves and forced to enjoy the fruits of karma. Thanks to their poor fund of knowledge, the jnanis have convinced themselves that the devotees are chained by the laws of karma. Indeed, other than those engaged on the path of bhakti, all people-the karmis, the jnanis, and the whimsical-consider that devotees are forced to enjoy the fruits of karma. But in the pure devotional path this conclusion is actually very weak. Intelligent followers of the above-mentioned three paths will undoubtedly profit in this regard by refering to the innumerable books, life histories of sages, and historical incidents connected with these paths.
Those who have accepted the rulings of the scriptures on karma with unshakable faith and fixed minds are naturally indifferent to the scriptural conclusions of jnana and bhakti spoken by the Upanishads. That is why we have written this present essay to appeal to those who are attached to karma. This present essay will consist of topics related with the realm of karma and its logical analysis. Therefore this chapter is being named Prakriti-jana-kanda, and the next chapter must be named Hari-jana-kanda. In that chapter we will discuss topics concerning the communities of jnanis and hari-janas, who are both beyond the jurisdiction of karma. Since worldly people do not completely reject the statements of literatures that respect the jnana and bhakti scriptures, there will be no fault in quoting herein evidence and arguments from those literatures.
It is an established fact that the descendants of those who were even once known in society as brahmanas are all considered brahmanas. The descendants of those who have once somehow been designated brahmanas-in Satya, Treta, or Dvapara-yugas-have kept their claims to the brahminical designation and authority intact with the help of the twenty Dharma-shastras and social customs. In this regard we can only say that in early times ten samskaras, or purificatory processes, were followed by the brahmanas. Among these, one is the garbhadana ceremony, which was based on seminal line. It has, however, been changed and perverted in the course of time. According to the opinion of Devala, if the womb is once purified before intercourse then it is not necessary to purify the womb before every pregnancy. He states this as follows:
sakric ca samskrita nari sarva-garbheshu samskrita
“A once-consecrated women is consecrated for all her pregnancies.”
The respected smarta Raghunandana Bhattacarya of Bengal was also of the opinion that the samskara need only be performed once. But if this samskara was taken more seriously, then seminal consideration would have been more applicable. In the Mahabharata (Vana-parva 180.31-32) it is stated:
jatir atra maha-sarpa manushyatve maha-mate
sankarat sarva-varnanam dushparikshyeti me matih
sarve sarvasv apatyani janayanti sada narah
van-maithunam atho janma maranam ca samam nrinam
“Maharaja Yudhishthira said to Nahusha: O broad-minded, great serpent, because there are persons born from mixed marriages among each of the varnas, it is extremely difficult to determine an individual's caste. This is my opinion. The reason for this is that men of all castes are able to beget children in the women of any caste. Speech, sex, birth, and death are similar for men of all castes.”
It is especially difficult to ascertain whether a given person is born from a brahmana, kshatriya, or other caste father. Other than trusting a person's words there is no way to investigate his caste. The caste of those belonging to brahmana and other caste dynasties coming from Lord Brahma and said to be purely descending to the present day cannot be known in truth without definitely validating every person in the line. In his commentary on the above verse, Shri Nilakantha, the commentator on the Mahabharata, quotes from the Vedas as follows:
na caitad vidmo brahmanah smo vayam abrahmana veti
“We do not know whether we are brahmanas or non-brahmanas.” Such doubts arose in the hearts of the truthful sages.
The qualification of those who take birth in brahmana families but are unable to maintain brahminical qualities and the qualification of their descendants needs to be considered. By immoral activities the qualification and potency based on seminal descent is reduced, and by sinful activities persons become sinners and fall from their positions. The compilers of Dharma-shastras Vishnu (93.7-13) and Manu (4.192, 195-200) have stated as follows:
na vary api prayacchet tu vaidala-vratike dvije
na baka-vratike vipre naveda-vidi dharma-vit
dharma-dhvaji sada lubdhash chadmiko loka-dambhakah
vaidala-vratiko jneyo himsra-sarvabhisandhikah
adho-drishtir naikritikah svartha-sadhana-tatparah
shatho mithya-vinitash ca baka-vrata-paro dvijah
ye baka-vratino vipra ye ca marjara-linginah
te patanty andha-tamisre tena papena karmana
na dharmasyapadeshena papam kritva vratam caret
vratena papam pracchadya kurvan stri-shudra-dambhanam
pretyeha cedrisho vipro grihyate brahma-vadibhih
chadmanacaritam yac ca tad vai rakshamsi gacchati
alingi lingi-veshena yo vrittim upajivati
sa linginam haraty enas tiryag-yonau prajayate
“Religious-minded persons should not give even a drop of water to the hypocritical son of a brahmana, the follower of the “vow of a cat.” One should not give even a drop of water to the son of a brahmana who is either a sinful imposter or ignorant of the Vedas.
“One should know that a dharmadhvaji (who makes a false show of being religious), a person who always desires other's wealth, a duplicitous person, a cheater, an envious person, and a blasphemer is a hypocritical brahmana who follows the `vow of a cat.'
“An imposter brahmana, the follower of the `vow of the duck,' is he who always looks down in order to make a show of humility, who is cruel, and who pretends to be submissive.
“As a result of their sinful activities, those who are hypocrites and imposters go to the hell known as Andha-tamisra.
“Such people make a show of being religious in order to impress women and shudras by pretending that their acts of atonement, which are meant for counteracting their sins, are simply pious vows.
“Such people are condemned in this world and the next by those who are conversant with the Absolute Truth. Vows that are executed with duplicity are simply demoniac.
“If someone accepts the symptoms and occupation of a status for which he is not qualified, he is guilty of breaking the principles of varnashrama, and as a result of those sins he will take birth as an animal.”
The Dharma-shastra compiler Vishnu (82.3-29) also states:
hinadhikangan vivarjayet, vikarma-sthamsh ca, vaidala-vratikan, vritha-linginah, nakshatra-jivinah, devalakamsh ca, cikitsikan, anudha-putran, tat-putran, bahu-yajinah, grama-yajinah, shudra-yajinah, ayajya-yajinah, tad-yajinah, parva-karan, sucakan, bhritakadhyapakan, bhritakadhyapitan, shudranna-pushtan, patita-samsargan, anadhiyanan, sandhyopasana-bhrashtan, raja-sevakan, nagnan, pitra vivadamanan, pitri-matri-gurv-agni-svadhyaya-tyaginash ceti, brahmanapasada hy ete kathitah pankti-dushakah. etan vivarjayet yatnat shraddha-karmani panditah.
“One should reject the following brahmanas: those with missing limbs, those with extra limbs, those who behave unjustly, hypocrites, those who falsely accept the signs of some status, professional astrologers, professional priests, physicians, the sons of unmarried women, their sons, worshipers of many gods, priests of the village, priests of the shudras, priests of the untouchables, those who have failed to take their second birth, their priests, performers of religious rites, betrayers, salaried teachers, the students who pay the salaries, those who are nourished by the food of shudras, those who associate with fallen persons, those who are ignorant of the Vedas, those who fail to observe the sandhya rites (chanting the Gayatri mantra), government servants, those who do not wear clothes, those who quarrel with their fathers, and those who reject their father, mother, spiritual master, the sacred fire, or the study of the scriptures. Such persons are considered the worst kinds of brahmanas and are disgraces to their line. Learned persons should carefully reject these persons while performing the shraddha ceremony for their fathers.”
Since brahmanas are also capable of committing any of the nine types of sinful activities-atipataka, mahapataka, anupataka, upapataka, jati-bhramsha-kara, sankari-karana (killing animals), patri-karana, malavaha, and prakirnaka-it is difficult to know how far a brahmana is qualified if he conceals these sins without undergoing atonement. It is true that a brahmana can escape reproach from society if he successfully conceals those sinful activities by which he becomes fallen, but if he does so his truthfulness is ruined and as a result he is degraded. The descendants of such a person will then surely and proudly accept that same sinful way of life.
According to their occupations, there are many types of brahmanas. Atri (364-374) has stated:
devo munir dvijo raja vaishyah shudro nishadakah
pashur mleccho 'pi candalo vipra dasha-vidhah smritah
sandhyam snanam japam homam devata-nitya-pujanam
atithim vaishvadevam ca deva-brahmana ucyate
shake patre phale mule vana-vase sada ratah
nirato 'rahah shraddhe sa vipro munir ucyate
vedantam pathate nityam sarva-sangam parityajet
sankhya-yoga-vicara-sthah sa vipro dvija ucyate
astrahatash ca dhanvanah samgrame sarva-sammukhe
arambhe nirjita yena sa viprah kshatra ucyate
krishi-karma-rato yash ca gavam ca pratipalakah
vanijya-vyavasayash ca sa vipro vaishya ucyate
vikreta madhu-mamsanam sa viprah shudra ucyate
caurash ca taskarash caiva sucako damshakas tatha
matsya-mamse sada lubdho vipro nishada ucyate
brahma-tattvam na janati brahma-sutrena garvitah
tenaiva sa ca papena viprah pashur udahritah
vapi-kupa-tadaganam aramasya sarahsu ca
nihshankam rodhakash caiva sa vipro mleccha ucyate
kriya-hinash ca murkhash ca sarva-dharma-vivarjitah
nirdayah sarva-bhuteshu viprash candala ucyate
“There are ten kinds of brahmanas mentioned in the scriptures-devas, munis, dvijas, rajas, vaishyas, shudras, nishadas, pashus, mlecchas, and candalas.
“One who regularly bathes, chants japa, performs fire sacrifices, daily worships the demigods, observes the sandhya rites, honors his guests, and worships the fire-god is a deva-brahmana.
“One who always lives in the forest, eats only spinach, leaves, fruits, and roots, and regularly performs the shraddha rites is called a muni-brahmana.
“One who gives up all association and spends all his time reading Vedanta and studying Sankhya-yoga is called a dvija-vipra.
“One who publicly attacks opponents who confront him with weapons and defeats them with his own weapons is called a kshatra-vipra.
“One who likes to cultivate the land, protect cows and other animals, or accept the profession of trade and commerce is called a vaishya-vipra.
“One who sells varnish, salt, safflower oil, milk, honey, or meat is called a shudra-vipra.
“One who is a thief or a rogue, who gives bad counsel, who is a betrayer, who bites with his harsh words, and who is always greedy to eat fish and meat is called a nishada-brahmana.
“One who proudly advertises himself as a sanctified brahmana but is ignorant of the Absolute Truth is because of this sin called a pasu-vipra.
“One who prevents others from using ponds, wells, lakes, or gardens is called a mleccha-vipra.
“One who is devoid of pious activities, who is a fool, completely irreligious, and merciless to all living entities is called a candala-brahmana.”
Apart from these ten kinds of brahmanas, Atri Mahashaya (376-379) also describes:
jyotir-vido hy atharvanah kira-paurana-pathakah
avikash citrakarash ca vaidyo nakshatra-pathakah
catur vipra na pujyante brihaspati-sama yadi
magadho mathurash caiva kapatah kauta-kamalau
panca vipra na pujyante brihaspati-sama yadi
yajne hi phala-hanih syat tasmat tan parivarjayet
“There are three types of brahmanas-those who know astrology, those who know the Atharva Veda, and those who recite the Puranas like parrots.
“Goat traders, painters, physicians, and astrologers-these four kinds of brahmanas never become worshipable, even if they are as learned as Brihaspati,.
“Magadhas, Mathuras, Kapatas, Kautas, and Kamalas-these five kinds of brahmanas never become worshipable, even if they are as learned as Brihaspati.
“Such brahmanas will spoil the results one's sacrifice, so they should be rejected.”
In addition to this, Atri (287) also says:
shatham ca brahmanam hatva shudra-hatya-vratam caret
“If one kills a deceitful brahmana he should perform the same atonement as prescribed for killing a shudra.” According to Atri, a compiler of the Dharma-shastras, besides these above-mentioned twenty-three types of brahmanas, there is one other kind. He says as follows (Atri 375):
vedair vihinash ca pathanti shastram
shastrena hinash ca purana-pathah
purana-hinah krishino bhavanti
bhrashtas tato bhagavata bhavanti
If a brahmana is unable to extract any benefit from his hard studies of the Vedic literatures, he begins to study the Dharma-shastras. If he is unable to abstract any benefit from studying the Dharma-shastras, he becomes a reciter of the Puranas. If he fails to get any benefit from reciting the Puranas, he considers that it is better to earn his livelihood by farming. In other words, such people consider that studying the Vedic literatures, the Dharma-shastras, or the Puranas is simply meant for earning one's livelihood; they see no other purpose in these activities. When such brahmanas are unsuited for all these engagements, they even take to farming. When they cannot be successful even in reciting Puranas, they decide that farming is the best occupation for them. And when due to incompetence and lack of skills they fail to fill their bellies even by farming, they become spiritual masters of the Vaishnavas, accumulate wealth, and advertise themselves as great devotees, establishing this as their means of livelihood.
In this way, including this pseudo-devotee brahmana, there are twenty-four varieties of brahmanas described by the Dharma-shastra compiler Atri Mahashaya. Manu (2.157-158, 168, 172, and 4.245, 255) has stated:
yatha kashtha-mayo hasti yatha carma-mayo mrigah
yash ca vipro 'nadhiyanas trayas te nama bibhrati
yatha shandho 'phalah strishu yatha gaur gavi caphala
yatha cajne 'phalam danam tatha vipro 'nridho 'phalah
yo 'nadhitya dvijo vedam anyatra kurute shramam
sa jivan eva shudratvam ashu gacchati sanvayah
shudrena hi samas tavad yavad vede na jayate
uttamanuttaman gacchan hinan hinamsh ca varjayan
brahmanah shreshthatam eti pratyavayena shudratam
yo 'nyatha santam atmanam anyatha satsu bhashate
sa papa-krit-tamo loke stena atmapaharakah
“A vipra who does not study the Vedas is similar to a wooden elephant or a deer made of skin, which are an elephant or deer only in name but do not effectively function as such.
“As a eunuch is of no use to women and a cow cannot be impregated by another cow, giving charity to a foolish brahmana who does not study the Vedas yields no result.
“One who in his lifetime does not endeavor to study the Vedas but labors hard in other pursuits quickly becomes a shudra along with his family.
“One should know that until a brahmana is qualified in the Vedas, he is on the same level as a shudra.
“If a brahmana disassociates himself from lower caste people and associates only with higher caste people, he attains greatness. If he does the opposite, he becomes a shudra.
“A person with a particular nature who claims to be different when coming before a sadhu is the topmost sinner, a cheater of himself, and a thief.”
In the Anushasana-parva, Chapter 143, of the Mahabharata it is stated:
guru-talpi guru-drohi guru-kutsa-ratish sa yah
brahma-vic capi patati brahmano brahma-yonitah
“One who has sex with the wife of his spiritual master, one who is envious of his spiritual master, one who habitually criticizes his spiritual master such a brahmana, even if he knows the Absolute Truth, falls from his position.”
shruti-smriti ubhe netre vipranam parikirtite
ekena vikalah kano dvabhyam andhah prakirtitah
“The shruti and smriti scriptures are the two eyes of the brahmanas. Lacking one of them, a brahmana is half blind, and deprived of both he is considered completely blind.”
It is stated in the Kurma Purana:
yo 'nyatra kurute yatnam anadhitya shrutim dvijah
sa sammudho na sambhashyo veda-bahyo dvijatibhih
na veda-patha-matrena santushyed esha vai dvijah
yathoktacara-hinas tu panke gaur iva sidati
yo 'dhitya vidhi-vad vedam vedartham na vicarayet
sa candhah shudra-kalpas tu padartham na prapadyate
seva shva-vrittir yair ukta na samyak tair udahritam
svacchanda-caritah kva shva vikritasuh kva sevakah
pani-krityatmanah pranan ye vartante dvijadhamah
tesham duratmanam annam bhuktva candrayanam caret
nadyac chudrasya vipro 'nnam mohad va yadi kamatah
sa shudra-yonim vrajati yas tu bhunkte hy anapadi
go-rakshakan vanijakan tatha karuka-shilinah
preshyan vardhushikamsh caiva vipran shudra-vad acaret
trinam kashtham phalam pushpam prakasham vai hared budhah
dharmartham kevalam vipra hy anyatha patito bhavet
“O brahmanas, one who does not study the Vedas but carefully endeavors for other pursuits is certainly foolish and ostracized from Vedic life. Brahmanas should not speak with such a person.
“A brahmana should not be satisfied merely with studying the Vedas, for if he does not act accordingly he will be as helpless as a cow that has fallen in the mud.
“One should know that a person who has studied the Vedas but does not properly consider their purport is like a blind person or a shudra and will never attain the supreme goal of life.
“Those who describe the occupation of a servant to be like that of a dog are unable to give a proper comparison. How can a freely wandering dog be compared to a sold out servant?
“If one eats food cooked by fallen, sinful brahmanas who have sold themselves to others, then one must atone by observing candrayana.
“A brahmana should never eat food cooked by a shudra. If other than in an emergency one either willingly or mistakenly does eat food cooked by a shudra, then as a result of eating such food he is born as a shudra.
“Those brahmanas who protect cows, engage in trade, become artists, take the occupation of servants, and loan money on interest are no better than shudras.
“If a brahmana does not accumulate grass, wood, fruits, and flowers for religious purposes, he becomes eligible for falling down as result of such actions.”
By seminal consideration, the descendants of a brahmana are also brahmanas-this belief has been generally accepted for a long time. There is no shortage of evidence from the smritis, Puranas, and histories in support of this belief. Yet by the evidence that we have presented regarding the degradation of brahmanas, the disqualification of brahmanas who commit sinful activities, and the uncertainty of who is a real brahmana, every listener will be able to understand how qualified the present day descendants of brahmanas are.
Why should those who are brahmanas by birth but have taken to other occupational duties and not shown any interest in acquiring the characteristics of properly initiated brahmanas be respected? The word bandhu generally means relatives like one's son, but the word brahma-bandhu cannot be simply used for those who are related to brahmanas by birth. Since the word brahma-bandhu has been used in a derogatory way, such descendants of brahmanas have not accepted this designation very proudly. Women, shudras, and brahma-bandhus all belong to a particular category that is inferior to the class of topmost brahmanas. These people have no qualification to study the Vedas. Brahma-bandhus are those who are devoid of brahminical culture, engaged in abominable activities, and brahmanas simply by birth. It is stated in the Chandogya Upanishad:
asmat kulino 'nanucya brahma-bandhur iva bhavati
“A brahma-bandhu, or a mere relative of a brahmana, is one who who belongs to our brahmana community but has not studied the Vedas.”
Shripada Sankaracarya has commented on this verse as follows: he saumya ananucya anadhitya brahma-bandhur iva bhavatiti brahmanan bandhun vyapadishati, na svayam brahmana-vritah.-“O beautiful woman, one who has not studied the Vedas is like a mere relative of brahmanas. He calls the brahmanas his relatives, but he does not have the behavior of a brahmana.”
It is stated in the Shrimad Bhagavatam (1.4.25):
stri-shudra-dvijabandhunam trayi na shruti-gocara
“The Rig, Sama, and Yajur Vedas should not be recited before women, shudras, and dvija-bandhus.”
One should neither kill nor award physical punishment to brahma-bandhus. This is confirmed in the following words of the Shrimad Bhagavatam (1.7.57):
esha hi brahma-bandhunam vadho nanyo 'sti daihikah
Persons who are engaged in fruitive activities are less-intelligent than those who have the nature of either a jnani or a bhakta. The goal of fruitive workers is to attain worldly or heavenly happiness. The majority of people in this world are inclined towards fruitive activities. Only the devotees and jnanis have become liberated from this fruitive mentality. Ordinary people are unable to realize knowledge higher than their mundane experience.
The descriptions of the heavenly planets given in the karma-shastras are for persons who are attached to the material world. Such persons are also familiar with the presence of misery. The prototype misery described in the karma-shastras is that found on the hellish planets. It is a fact that on the strength of their pious and sinful activities less-intelligent, ordinary people who are attached to karma-kanda achieve either heaven or hell in the next life and distinction or atonement in this life.
In order to attract the minds of such persons and entice them to behave in appropriate ways, various flowery exaggerations are found in the instructions of their scriptures. Then again, the condemnations are also exaggerated so that these people will not engage in sinful activities. The fear of misery, dishonor, and condemnation stops many of these people from becoming degraded. In this way, such persons are regulated by required atonements and by hell and other punishments.
The glories, prestige, and prowess of the brahmanas are profusely sung in the scriptures. Similarly, the excellence of brahmanas when they are qualified and their degraded condition when they are disqualified are also found described in the same scriptures. Such principles need to be prescribed for those who are directed by the ideas of relative good and bad. In order to minimize the disappointment of the cripple-minded, incapable, weak, foolish, fearful brahma-bandhus, we can respectfully quote a few statements from the scriptures. The Mahabharata, Vana-parva, states:
nadhyapanat yajanad va anyasmad va pratigrahat
dosho bhavati vipranam jvalitagni-sama dvijah
durveda va suveda va prakritah samskritas tatha
brahmana navamantavya bhasmacchanna ivagnayah
yatha shmashane diptaujah pavako naiva dushyati
evam vidvan avidvan va brahmano naiva dushyati
“Brahmanas are like burning fire; therefore even if they do not study the Vedas, even if they act as priests for those who should not perform Vedic sacrifices, or even if they accept charity from low-class people, they are not at fault.
“Whether brahmanas possess knowledge of the Vedas or are devoid of knowledge of the Vedas, whether they are worldly or have undergone the reformatory processes, they do not deserve to be disrespected, for they are like fire covered by ashes.
“As the bright fire of the funeral pyre is not considered impure, a brahmana, whether foolish or learned, is not faulty.”
yuge yuge ca ye dharmas tatra tatra ca ye dvijah
tesham ninda na kartavya yuga-rupa hi te dvijah
“The predominent religious principles of a particular age are followed by brahmanas (who are twice-born according to those principles) according to the time, therefore such brahmanas should not be condemned.”
The purpose of these statements found in the scriptures is to somehow minimize the unfortunate condition of the incapable living entities. But those who fall down from the position of real brahmanas with the help of these statements destroy their religious principles. Brihaspati says:
kevalam shastram ashritya na kartavyo vinirnayah
yukti-hina-vicare tu dharma-hanih prajayate
“One should not conclude that the statements meant to minimize the disappointment of unqualified persons who are unable to follow the real instructions of the Dharma-shastras comprise the actual purport of the scriptures.”
The statements of Parashara, the narrations of the Mahabharata, and other such authoritative sources are just like lamps of hope for those whose desires are thwarted in the kingdom of hopelessness. If one carefully considers, then he will understand that the aim of the scriptures is to minimize the hopelessness of the living entities, encourage them to behave better in the future, uplift the non-brahmanas to the level of brahmanas, and prevent the further degradation of non-brahmanas.
The compilers of the scriptures did not ever intend to block the living entities' path of progress and perfection. That is why the most intelligent Brihaspati Mahashaya has said that one should not ascertain the conclusion by simply reading the scriptures, because if one considers without proper reasoning he becomes irreligious. A compiler of Dharma-shastras, Vishnu (71.1), states as follows: atha kanca navamanyeta-“Do not disrespect anyone.”
A person should not in any way disregard or condemn even the lowest class of men in this world, and what to speak of the brahmanas, who are the highest class. A person who condemns or insults another certainly commits a sin. Even to hide the real truth for the benefit of the world is also a sign of cheating. The Mahabharata, Vana-parva, has established that simplicity is the only identification of a brahmana. Therefore we find that by the influence of this extraordinary quality the ideals of simplicity are found in scriptures that are written by brahmanas. Neutrality is the ornament of the simple-minded brahmanas. A brahmana proves his simplicity by opening his heart and speaking the truth, even if it hampers his own self-interest. Wherever there is a lack of simplicity one should know that there is no question of brahminical culture.
The statements of the Vedas, the practical ritual textbooks, the Dharma-shastras, the Puranas, the Itihasas, the Patalas, and other literatures compiled in a spirit of simplicity by the sages are meant only for the benefit of the people of the world, not for condemning or insulting incapable persons. When neutral, thoughtful persons who follow the authority of these scriptures disclose the real purport of the Dharma-shastras to ignorant, selfish people, then those who try to hamper the prestige of such truthful persons and safeguard their own interests like low-class people by publicly criticizing the shastras and the speaker of the shastras are cowards and violators of religious principles.
If someone blasphemes the Vedas, the ritual textbooks that follow the Vedic version, the Dharma-shastras, the Puranas, the Tantras, as well as neutral speakers of the truth and think that this will enhance the prestige of degraded persons like themselves, then honest fruitive workers will never approve. Let the brahmanas become purely brahminical, and let the prestige of the brahmanas who have actually become brahminical remain intact forever-this is the intention of the shastras and the speakers of the shastras; they never want to condemn the brahmanas. We are also of this opinion. One should not engage in the sin of criticizing brahmanas like low-class, selfish proponents of argumentative views who hanker after high prestige; rather one should study the following verses of Manu. There is no use of gaining prestige from such people. The Manava-dharma-shastra (2.162-163) says:
sammanad brahmano nityam uddhijet vishad iva
amritasyeva cakankshed avamanasya sarvada
sukham hy avamatah shete sukham ca pratibudhyate
sukham carati loke 'sminn avamanta vinashyati
“Throughout his life a brahmana should consider material prestige to be like poison and dishonor to be like nectar.
“After all, if one learns to tolerate dishonor, then his agitation will subside and he will happily sleep, happily wake, and happily move about. The person who insults him will as a result of his sin become embarrassed, and his happiness in this and the next life will be vanquished.”
Religious principles stood on four legs in Satya-yuga, on three legs in Treta-yuga, on two legs in Dvapara-yuga, and on only one leg in Kali-yuga. The brahmanas, who are the priests of these religious principles, also become proportionately degraded. If one ascribes the prestige of a Satya-yuga brahmana to a Kali-yuga brahmana, the result is simply a distortion of the truth. If one offers a brahmana more respect than he deserves, then the glories of he who offers the respect will increase and the respected brahmana's affection for him will increase. But if a respected brahmana forgets his actual position out of pride, then when he remembers the following statement from the Vishnu-yamala he will be agitated and lose sleep at night, as previously confirmed by Manu. When those brahmanas who know the condemnations of the Vishnu-yamala hear such things, they should keep their mouths shut. The Yamala says:
ashuddhah shudra-kalpa hi brahmanah kali-sambhavah
“The brahmanas born in Kali-yuga are impure and no better than shudras.” In Kali-yuga, or the age of quarrel, seminal lines are not pure, so those born as brahmanas are equal to shudras and qualified only in name. Such brahmanas cannot be purified by Vedic rituals. Rather they can be purified by following the Tantras.
Has the king of smritis, Hari-bhakti-vilasa, been neglected by such persons because the above verse from the Vishnu-yamala is quoted in the beginning of its fifth Vilasa? This is the age of Kali, so anything is possible! In the Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.7.5) it is stated:
jano 'bhadra-rucir bhadra bhavishyati kalau yuge
“O gentle one, the people in Kali-yuga will be addicted to all types of sinful activities.”
We have thus discussed seminal considerations regarding persons and time. Now we are quoting Manu regarding the question of place. The Manu-samhita (2.17-24) states:
sarasvati-drishadvatyor deva-nadyor yad antaram
tat deva-nirmitam desham brahmavartam pracakshate
tasmin deshe ya acarah paramparya-kramagatah
varnanam santaralanam sa sad-acara ucyate
kurukshetram ca matsyash ca pancalah shurasenakah
esha brahmarshi-desho vai brahmavartad anantarah
etad-desha-prasutasya sakashad agra-janmanah
svam svam caritram shiksheran prithivyam sarva-manavah
pratyag eva prayagac ca madhya-deshah prakirtitah
a-samudrat tu vai purvat a-samudrat tu pashcimat
tayor evantaram giryor aryavartam vidur budhah
krishna-saras tu carati mrigo yatra svabhavatah
sa jneyo yajniyo desho mleccha-deshas tatah parah
etan dvijatyaya deshan samshrayeran prayatnatah
shudras tu yasmin kasmin va nivased vritti-karshitah
“The tract of land founded by the demigods between the celestial Sarasvati and Drishadvati Rivers is called Brahmavarta.
“The traditional behavior of the people in the various castes and mixed classes of that land is called sad-acara, or proper behavior.
“Kurukshetra, Matsya, Pancala, and Shurasena, or Mathura-these four sacred provinces situated in the south of Brahmavarta are called Brahmarshi-desha.
“The people of this world should mold their character after the brahmanas who originally inhabited all these provinces.
“The province west of Prayaga is named Madhya-desha.
“The area between the Himalaya and Vindhya Mountains and stretching from the eastern ocean to the western ocean is called Aryavarta by those who are learned.
“The place where spotted deer naturally wander is suitable for sacrifices. Other places are known as Mleccha-deshas, the lands of barbarians.
“Those who are twice-born should endeavor to take shelter of these pure tracts of land. There is no restriction, however, on where a shudra may earn his livelihood.
Therefore brahmanas of places other than where sacrifices are performed are understood to be residents of Mleccha-deshas and behaving improperly. In the Shrimad Bhagavatam (11.21.8) a mood opposite to that described above is seen in the following words:
akrishna-saro deshanam abrahmanyo 'sucir bhavet
krishna-saro 'py asauvira- kikata samskriterinam
“Among places, those bereft of the spotted antelope, those devoid of devotion to the brahmanas, those possessing spotted antelopes but bereft of respectable men, provinces like Kikata and places where cleanliness and purificatory rites are neglected, where meat-eaters are prominent or where the earth is barren, are all considered to be contaminated lands.”
Anyway, leaving aside the evidence we have quoted so far from the scriptures regarding seminal brahmanas, we will now discuss the processes mentioned in the shastras by which a person attains the position of an actual brahmana, and who is a fit candidate for becoming a brahmana.
In the Muktikopanishad there is a list of one hundred eight Upanishads, among which, the thirty-eighth is named Vajra-sucikopanishad. It is said that Shri Shankaracarya became famous by composing an elaborate commentary on this Upanishad. In the Vajra-sucikopanishad it is stated:
yaj jnanad yanti munayo brahmanyam paramadbhutam
tat trai-pada-brahma-tattvam aham asmiti cintaye
om apyayantv iti shantih
namo vedanta-vedyaya brahmane 'nanta-rupine
om vajra-sucim pravakshyami shastram ajnana-bhedanam
dushanam jnana-hinanam bhushanam jnana-cakshusham
brahma-kshatriya-vaishya-shudra iti catvaro varnas tesham varnanam brahmana eva pradhana iti veda-vacananurupam smritibhir apy uktam. tatra codyam asti ko va brahmano nama. kim jivah kim dehah kim jatih kim jnanam kim karma kim dharmika iti. tatra prathamo jivo brahmana iti cet tan na. atitanagataneka-dehanam jivasyaika-rupatvad ekasyapi karma-vashad aneka-deha-sambhavat sarva-shariranam jiva-svaikarupatvac ca. tasman na jivo brahmana iti. tarhi deho brahmana iti cet tan na a-candaladi-paryantanam manushyanam panca-bhautikatvena dehasyaika-rupatvaj jara-marana-dharmadharmadi-samya-darshanad brahmanah shveta-varnah kshatriyo rakta-varno vaishyah pita-varnah shudrah krishna-varna iti niyamabhavat. pitradi-sharira-dahane putradinam brahma-hatyadi-dosha-sambhavac ca tasman na deho brahmana iti. tarhi jatir brahmana iti cet tan na. tatra jaty-antara-jantushu aneka-jati-sambhava maharshayo bahavah santi. rishyashringo mrigah. kaushikah kushat. jambuko jambukat. valmiko valmikat. vyasah kaivarta-kanyayam. shasha-prishthat gautamah. vashishthah urvashyam. agastyah kalase jata iti shrutatvat. etesham jatya vinapy agre jnana-pratipadita rishayo bahavah santi. tasman na jatih brahmana iti. tarhi jnano brahmana iti cet tan na. kshatriyadayo 'pi paramartha-darshino 'bhiksha bahavah santi. tasman na jnanam brahmana iti. tarhi karma brahmana iti cet tan na. sarvesham praninam prarabdha-sancitagami-karma-sadharmya-darshanat karmabhipreritah santah janah kriyah kurvantiti. tasman na karma brahmana iti. tarhi dharmiko brahmana iti cet tan na. kshatriyadayo hiranya-dataro bahavah santi. tasman na dharmiko brahmana iti. tarhi ko va brahmano nama. yah kashcid atmanam advitiyam jati-guna-kriya-hinam shad-urmi-shad-bhavety-adi-sarva-dosha-rahitam satya-jnananandananta-svarupam svayam nirvikalpam ashesha-kalpadharam ashesha-bhutantar-yamitvena vartamanam antar bahish cakasha-vad anusyutam akhandananda-svabhavam apremeyam anubhavaika-vedyam aparokshataya bhasamanam kara-talamalaka-vat sakshad aparokshi-kritya kritarthataya kama-ragadi-dosha-rahitah shama-damadi-sampanno bhava-matsarya-trishnasha-mohadi-rahito dambhahankaradibhir asamsprishta-ceta vartate. evam ukta-lakshano yah sa eva brahmana iti shruti-smriti-puranetihasanam abhiprayah. anyatha hi brahmanatva-siddhir nasty eva. sac-cid-anandam atmanam advitiyam brahma bhavayed atmanam sac-cid-anandam brahma bhavayed ity upanishat.
om apyayantv iti shantih.
“I meditate on that sac-cid-ananda supreme knowledge, endowed with three features, by which sages attain the wonderful platform of brahminical culture.
“I invoke peace by reciting the mantra beginning, “May You be pleased.”
“I offer my respectful obeisances to the Supreme Brahman, who possesses unlimited forms, who is known by the Vedanta, whose form is sac-cid-ananda, and who is the witness of all activities of living intelligence.
“I am now speaking the Vajra-suci-shastra. This knowledge dissipates ignorance, reproaches the ignorant persons, and is the ornament of intelligent persons with vision.
“There are four varnas-brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya, and shudra. According to the statements of the Vedas, the brahmanas are the highest class. This is confirmed by the smritis as well. Therefore the question now comes: Who is a brahmana? The living entity, the body, the caste, the knowledge, the activities, or the religionist-of these, which is the brahmana? If it is proposed that the living entity is the brahmana, that is not correct. The living entity remains the same in the past, present, or future. Though he receives various types of bodies according to his karma, he remains unchanged. Therefore the living entity is not the brahmana. Then is the body the brahmana? No, it is not. The bodies of human beings down to the candala are all made of the same five gross elements. Therefore birth and death and religion and irreligion equally effect all bodies, and since there is no law that the brahmanas are white, the kshatriyas are red, the vaishyas are yellow, and the shudras are black, the body is therefore not the brahmana. Moreover, when the son of a brahmana burns the body of his dead father, he does not commit the sin of killing a brahmana. Therefore the body is not the brahmana. So, then, is caste the brahmana? No, this is also not the case. Many great sages have been born of other living entities. Rishyashringa was born from a deer, Kaushika was born from kusha grass, Jambuka Rishi was born from a jackal, Valmiki was born from an ant hill, Vyasadeva was born from a fisherman's daughter, Gautama was born from the back of a rabbit, Vashishtha was born from Urvashi, and Agastya was born from a pitcher. Apart from these personalities, there are many other wise persons born from other castes who became sages. Therefore caste is not the brahmana. So, then, is knowledge the brahmana? No, it is not that either. Because many persons, such as some kshatriyas, were very learned and knew the Absolute Truth. Therefore knowledge is also not the brahmana. Then are activities the brahmana? No, they are not. Because every living entity shares the common nature of having to suffer the matured reactions of his karma that come to him in the future. By karma, human beings are engaged in further karma. Therefore activities are not the brahmana. Then is the religionist the brahmana? No, he is not. Because many kshatriyas give gold in charity. Therefore the religionist is not the brahmana. Then who is the brahmana? Anyone who knows the Self as one; devoid of mundane caste, qualities, and activities; devoid of contamination by the six enemies1 and six waves2; the personification of transcendental knowledge and bliss; beyond duality, yet the basis of all material dualities; the Supersoul of all living entities; all-pervading inside and outside like the vast sky; endowed with uninterrupted bliss; immeasurable; known only through spiritual realization; and directly self-manifesting-one who directly realizes the Self (as one sees an amlaki fruit in the palm of his hand), who lives always satisfied, devoid of faults like lust and anger, who posesses qualities like peacefulness and self-control, who is devoid of envy, the thirst for material enjoyment, illusion, and other faults, and who is untouched by pride, false ego, and so on-such a person is a brahmana. This is also the opinion of the shrutis, smritis, Itihasas, Puranas, and other scriptures. Otherwise one cannot be a real brahmana. The Upanishads instruct us that the Supreme Soul is sac-cid-ananda and the Absolute Truth, one without a second.” It is stated in the Chandogya Upanishad of the Sama Veda (4th prapathaka, 4th khanda) as follows:
1. satyakamo ha jabalo jabalam mataram amantrayam cakre brahmacaryam bhavati vivatsyami. kim gotro 'ham asmiti. 2. sa hainam uvaca. naham etad veda. tata yad gotras tvam asi. bahv-aham caranti paricarini yauvane tvam alabhe. sa aham etan na veda. yad gotras tvam asi. jabala tu namaham asmi. satyakamo nama tvam asi. sa satyakamo eva jabalo bruvitha iti. 3. sa ha haridrumatam gautamam etya uvaca. brahmacaryam bhagavati vatsyamamy upeyam bhagavantam iti. 4. tam hovaca kim gotro nu saumyasiti. sa hovaca. naham etad veda bho yad gotro 'ham asmi. apriccham mataram. sama pratyabravid bahv-aham caranti paricarini yauvane tvam alabhe. saham etan na veda yad gotras tvam asi. jabala tu nama aham asmi. satyakamo nama tvam asiti. so 'ham satyakamah jabalo 'smi bho iti. 5. tam hovaca na etad abrahmano vivaktum arhati. samidham saumya ahara upayitva neshye. na satyad aga iti.
“Once Satyakama, the son of Jabala, asked his mother, `I want to live as a brahmacari. Which dynasty do I belong to?' In answer, Jabala told Satyakama, `My son, I do not know which dynasty you belong to; in my youth I served as a maidservant in various places and at that time begot you as my son. Therefore I don't know which gotra you belong to. My name is Jabala and your name is Satyakama. Therefore you should say that you are Satyakama Jabala.' Thereafter Satyakama Jabala approached Haridrumata Gautama and said, `I wish to live with you as a brahmacari.' Gautama inquired, `O gentle one, which dynasty do you belong to?' Satyakama replied, `I do not know which dynasty I belong to. I asked my mother and she said, “I begot you as my son when I was wandering in my youth as a maidservant. Therefore I do not know which dynasty you belong to. My name is Jabala, and your name is Satyakama.” So I am Satyakama Jabala.' Gautama then said to him, `My dear son, no one other than a brahmana can speak such truth that you have spoken. Therefore you are a brahmana, and I accept you. O gentle one, go bring wood for sacrifice.' Jabala replied, `I am going right now to bring wood.' Gautama said, `Never divert from the truth.'”
In the Mahabharata (Shanti-parva, Moksha-dharma, Chapter 188) our first evidence is given as follows:
jangamanam asankhyeyah sthavaranam ca jatayah
tesham vividha-varnanam kuto varna-vinishcayah
na vishesho 'sti varnanam sarva-brahmam idam jagat
brahmana purva-shrishtam hi karmabhir varnatam gatam
himsanrita-priya lubdhah sarva-karmopajivinah
krishnah shauca-paribhrashtas te dvijah shudratam gatah
“Bharadvaja said: There are innumerable categories of animate and inanimate living entities. How can one determine their various varnas?”
“Bhrigu replied: There are no real differences among varnas. When Brahma first created the universe, it was inhabited only by brahmanas. Later on, as a result of their activities, people attained the designations of different varnas.
“When the brahmanas commit violence, speak lies, become greedy, earn their livelihood by any and all activities, lose their purity by sinful activities, then they become degraded into shudras.”
In the Shanti-parva, Chapter 189, our second evidence is given as follows:
brahmanah kena bhavati kshatriyo va dvijottama
vaishyah shudrash ca viprarshe tad bruhi vadatam vara
jata-karmadibhir yas tu samskaraih samskritah shuci
vedadhyayana-sampannah shatsu karmasv avasthitah
shaucacara-sthitah samyag vighasashi guru-priyah
nitya-vrati satya-parah sa vai brahmana ucyate
satya-danam athadroha anrishamsyam trapa ghrina
tapash ca drishyate yatra sa brahmana iti smritah
sarva-bhaksha-ratir nityam sarva-dharma-karo 'shucih
tyakta-vedas tv anacarah sa vai shudra iti smritah
shudre caitad bhavel lakshyam dvije tac ca na vidyate
na vai shudro bhavec chudro brahmano brahmano na ca
“Bharadvaja said: O best of the brahmanas, O sage among the twice-born, O best of eloquent speakers, please explain how one becomes a brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya, or shudra.”
“Bhrigu replied: A person who has been purified by the reformatory processes like jata-karma, or name-giving ceremony, who is clean, devoted to studying the Vedas, expert in the six occupations like worship and teaching worship, situated in pure conduct, eating the remnants of his spiritual master, dear to the spiritual master, regularly engaged in performing vows, and fixed in truthfulness is considered a brahmana. A human being who is truthful, charitable, shy, not hateful, austere, not vengeful, and not cruel is a brahmana. One who is attached to eating all kinds of foods and performing all kinds of activities, who is impure, deviant from the principles of Vedic culture, and ill-behaved is known as a shudra. If the symptoms of a brahmana are found in a shudra and if the symptoms of a shudra are found in a brahmana, then the shudra should not be called a shudra and the brahmana should not be called a brahmana.”
Our third evidence is given in the Vana-parva, Chapter 211, as follows:
shudra-yonau hi jatasya sad-gunanupatishthatah
vaishyatvam labhate brahman kshatriyatvam tathaiva ca
arjave vartamanasya brahmanyam abhijayate
“O brahmana, if a person is born in the family of a shudra and posesses good qualities, he becomes a vaishya or a kshatriya. And if he possesses the quality of simplicity, he is a brahmana.”
Our fourth evidence is stated in the Vana-parva, Chapter 215:
sampratam ca mato me 'si brahmano natra samshayah
brahmanah pataniyeshu vartamano vikarmasu
dambhiko dushkritah prajnah shudrena sadrisho bhavet
yas tu shudro dame satye darme ca satatotthitah
tam brahmanam aham manye vrittena hi bhaved dvijah
“The brahmana told the pious hunter: In my opinion you are still a brahmana. There is no doubt about it. After all, a brahmana who is proud and engaged in various sinful activities that result in his falling down into the degradation of being contaminated by impure karma is equal to a shudra. And I consider a shudra who is self-controlled, truthful, and always enthusiastic about executing his religious duties to be a brahmana. Indeed, the only criteria for being a brahmana is to possess pure characteristics.”
Our fifth evidence is given in the Shanti-parva, Chapter 318, as follows:
sarve varna brahmana brahmajash ca
brahmasyato brahmanah samprasutah
bahubhyam vai kshatriyah samprasutah
nabhyam vaishyah padatash capi shudrah
sarve varna nanyatha veditavyah
tat-stho brahma tasthivamsh caparo yas
tasmai nityam moksham ahur narendra
“Persons of all varnas are brahmanas, because they are all born from Lord Brahma. The brahmanas were born from the mouth of Brahma, the kshatriyas were born from his arms, the vaishyas were born from his navel, and the shudras were born from his legs. Do not consider the varnas in another way. One who is fixed in knowledge is a brahmana. Therefore, O king, this moksha-shastra was spoken for the benefit of those brahmanas and kshatriyas who have attained knowledge. This is the opinion of ancient scholars.”
In his commentary on these verses Shri Nilakantha has stated: tat-stho jnana-nishtho yah sa eva brahma brahmanah. aparo kshatriyadir api tasthau tasthivan.-“Persons who are born from Brahma and fixed in knowledge are called brahmanas. The other castes like kshatriyas were also born from Brahma.”
Our sixth evidence is stated in the Vana-parva, Chapter 180, as follows:
brahmanah ko bhaved rajan vedyam kim ca yudhishthira
bravihy ati-matim tvam hi vakyair anumimimahe
satyam danam kshama-shilam anrishamsyam tapo ghrina
drishyante yatra nagendra sa brahmana iti smritah
shudreshv api ca satyam ca danam akrodha eva ca
anrishamsyam ahimsa ca ghrina caiva yudhishthira
shudre tu yad bhavel lakshma dvije tac ca na vidyate
na vai shudro bhavec chudro brahmano na ca brahmanah
yatraital lakshyate sarpa vrittam sa brahmanah smritah
yatraitan na bhavet sarpa tam shudram iti nirdishet
“The snake asked: O Maharaja Yudhishthira, who is a brahmana, and what is the object of knowledge? You are very intelligent, therefore I will be enlightened by your statement.
“Maharaja Yudhishthira replied: A person who possesses truthfulness, charity, forgiveness, sobriety, gentleness, austerity, and lack of hatred is called a brahmana.
“The snake said: Shudras also possess truthfulness, charity, freedom from anger, nonviolence, noneviousness, and lack of hatred.
“Maharaja Yudhishthira replied to this: If such symptoms are found in a shudra he should never be called a shudra, just as a brahmana is not a brahmana if he does not possess these qualities.
“O snake, only a person who is endowed with the characteristics of a brahmana can be called a brahmana, otherwise he is a shudra.”
By these six separate evidences quoted from the Mahabharata, it is clearly understood that one should be accepted without hesitation as a savitrya or daikshya (Vedic or spiritually initiated) brahmana if he possesses simplicity and the nature of a brahmana, regardless of his birth. Those who are brahmanas by birth are very orthodox in regards to their eating and sexual relations. But these principles are not obstacles for the savitrya brahmanas. We do not find any obstacles in the smooth performance of such persons' spiritual brahminical duties. All shastric evidence that is unfavorable to the ascertainment of who is a brahmana on the basis of seminal descent are reasonable and unrefutable by argument. The Dharma-shastras that support the seminal brahmanas do not contradict Vyasadeva. The evidence in Shri Mahabharata, however, is more important and more respected than that of the Dharma-shastras. The evidence of the Dharma-shastras is only theoretical, while the evidence in the Mahabharata is practicle. Those who oppose this principle will simply confirm themselves as evil doers of this world.
Just as the Vedas and the Mahabharata have confirmed that a person who is not a seminal brahmana yet possesses the qualities of a brahmana is accepted as a qualified brahmana, the Shrimad Bhagavatam, which is the crest jewel of all scriptures, the ripened fruit of the Vedic tree, and the literature for perfect swanlike men, bravely and neutrally supports this doctrine.
In the Shrimad Bhagavatam (7.11.21-24, 35) it is described:
shamo damas tapah shaucam santoshah kshantir arjavam
jnanam dayacyutatmatvam satyam ca brahma-lakshanam
“The symptoms of a brahmana are control of the mind, control of the senses, austerity and penance, cleanliness, satisfaction, forgiveness, simplicity, knowledge, mercy, truthfulness, and complete surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
shauryam viryam dhritis tejas tyagash catma-jayah kshama
brahmanyata prasadash ca satyam ca kshatra-lakshanam
“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-these are the symptoms of the kshatriya.
deva-gurv-acyute bhaktis tri-varga-pariposhanam
astikyam udyamo nityam naipunyam vaishya-lakshanam
“Being always devoted to the demigods, the spiritual master and the Supreme Lord, Vishnu; endeavoring for advancement in religious principles, economic development and sense gratification [dharma, artha and kama]; believing in the words of the spiritual master and scripture; and always endeavoring with expertise in earning money-these are the symptoms of the vaishya.
shudrasya sannatih shaucam seva svaminy amayaya
amantra-yajno hy asteyam satyam go-vipra-rakshanam
“Offering obeisances to the higher sections of society [the brahmanas, kshatriyas and vaishyas], 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 brahmanas-these are the symptoms of the shudra.”
yasya yal lakshanam proktam pumso varnabhivyanjakam
yad anyatrapi drishyeta tat tenaiva vinirdishet
“If one shows the symptoms of being a brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya or shudra, as described above, even if he has appeared in a different class, he should be accepted according to those symptoms of classification.”
Although we have collected six different evidences from the Mahabharata regarding the eligibility for a person born from any of the varnas to become a qualified brahmana and we have also seen verses from the Shrimad Bhagavatam that corroborate this evidence, we will nevertheless quote the conversation between Uma and Maheshvara from the Mahabharata (Anushasana-parva 163.5, 8, 26, 46, 48, 51, and 59) in order to further strengthen this evidence.