Click here to load whole tree
NITAAI-Veda.nyf > NITAAI Yoga Forums > Ask Spiritual Question(s) > Brahmana thread

Brahmana thread

Post Author: Hadai Nityananda dasa    Date: 2007-12-21 21:35:52
Nityananda Gauranga Hare Krishna!

Dear Guruji,

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to the Guru Parampara. All glories to Sri Sri Gaura Nitai. All glories to Sri Sri Radha Syamasundara. All glories to the assembled devotees.

Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura in his Jaiva Dharma Chapter 5 talks about Brahmana qualification. He explaines that although one can be spiritually qualified and be on the level of a Brahmana, when he is not a Brahmana by seminal birth he still is derived from certain privileges. The reason Srila Bhaktivinode brings forward is that of vyavaharika-dosa, the secular impropriety of violating social customs. He explains that the different varnas are according to people’s different natures and that those different natures are only partly based on birth but more so on association. To demonstrate this fact based on the scriptures?true meaning of the varnas Vaisnavas have abandoned the Brahmana thread since the time of Lord Chaitanya. In fact the Brahmana thread is not mentioned in the Vaisnava scriptures and wearing it is a Vedic custom.

The divine son of Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura introduces the Brahmana thread and the Brahma gayatri mantra into Vaisnavism to show that anyone who is initiated as a Vaisnava is above the castes and can perform all the rituals normally performed only by Brahmanas. I understand that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta undertook great effort to raise Vaisnavism to a socially accepted status and propagated the daivi-varnasrama-dharma which is divine and not based on birthright. Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada introduced this very thought to the West which was (and is) steeped into materialism and nowadays many Western devotees are wearing a Brahmana-thread which must be a blow into the face of the ‘traditional?Brahmana culture of India.

Regarding the above I have two questions.

1. Srila Bhaktivinode considers a social distinction that is related to birthright. Why does Srila Bhaktisiddhanta contradict that thought and overrules the social distinction?

2. Why does Srila Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada introduces the Brahmana thread into the Western societies who are traditionally not even aware of these social distinctions?

Swamiji, I know that this is a complex subject but I would love to hear your reflections on this.

Your aspiring servant,

Hadai Nityananda dasa

Nityananda Gauranga Hare Krishna!

Post Author: Swami Gaurangapada    Date: 2007-12-24 09:26:47
Srila Bhaktivinode Thakura in his Jaiva Dharma Chapter 5 talks about Brahmana qualification. He explaines that although one can be spiritually qualified and be on the level of a Brahmana, when he is not a Brahmana by seminal birth he still is derived from certain privileges. The reason Srila Bhaktivinode brings forward is that of vyavaharika-dosa, the secular impropriety of violating social customs. He explains that the different varnas are according to people’s different natures and that those different natures are only partly based on birth but more so on association.

Lord Krishna states in the Bhagavad Gita that chatur varnyam maya shrishtam, guna karma vibhagashah..."The four varnas are created directly by Him solely based on qualities and activities of an embodied soul." Also Shrila Narada Muni states in Shrimad Bhagavatam...yasya yal lakshanam proktam..."A seminal brahmana is considered a shudra if he behaves as such and vice versa."

The vyavaharika dosha which Shrila Sacchidananda Bhaktivinoda Thakura mentions in Jaiva Dharma of seminal brahminical association was fast losing its value due to the erosion of principles in Kali Yuga. The association in the seminal brahmana families was no longer having any brahminical characteristics. Mostly it was comparable to shudras or sometimes even worse. That is when even the need to maintain this vyavaharika etiquette towards "brahmanas" completely lost its meaning. Thus in his later pastimes, Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura wrote the famous letter to Shrila Sarasvati Prabhupada, instructing him to establish the Daivi Varnashrama purely on the basis of qualities and actions (which is the actual Varnashrama as described in the Gita) of the conditioned souls without considering this vyavaharika dosha because the brahminical culture was totally breaking down and unscrupluous people were exploiting this vyavaharika dosha on the basis of seminal brith to pretend that they were brahmanas and receive respect as brahmanas.

Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada introduced this very thought to the West which was (and is) steeped into materialism and nowadays many Western devotees are wearing a Brahmana-thread which must be a blow into the face of the ‘traditional?Brahmana culture of India.

The so-called "traditional" brahmana culture has no basis in the Gita or the Vedic scriptures. It turned out like that because in the ancient times, many of the seminally born brahamanas did possess most of the qualities of brahmanas so Varnashrama started to be identified by birth. This is impossible to find now. Please read the book Brahminism and Vaishnavism in the NITAAI Veda for the complete answers and scriptural quotes regarding all questions on this topic.

1. Srila Bhaktivinode considers a social distinction that is related to birthright. Why does Srila Bhaktisiddhanta contradict that thought and overrules the social distinction?

Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura fully understands the Daivi Varnashrama system. He was talking about this social distinction during the era of Lord Gauranga and also even 120 years before during his time when those born in brahmana families did possess some actual brahminical qualities so they should be given respect even due to their birth. He did not want to shake up the people's faith suddenly by fully abolishing the social distinctions based on birth immediately since that may have effected their faith in taking up Bhakti. But later in the 1900s, he found that Varnashrama was greatly corroded and even this formal social distinction of basis of birth becamse valueless. Thus Shrila Sarasvati Prabhupada decided to go back to the fully pure basis and the original root of Varnashrama i.e. qualities and actions. He did not completely overrule the social distinction though as you suggest and he did specially respect those people born in brahamana families with pure brahminical qualities even in consideration of giving them sannyasa.

2. Why does Srila Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada introduces the Brahmana thread into the Western societies who are traditionally not even aware of these social distinctions?

I have already answered this question above. Shrila Swami Prabhupada followed the perfect example of his spiritual master and gave the brahmana thread to those who were committed to act according to the qualities and actions of brahamanas (Vaishnava includes a Brahamana) even though were not seminally born in the brahmana family. As I said, social distinction is totally broken down because 99% of those born in traditional brahamana families are now engaged in non-brahminical activities like doing job under someone for money, impure life, no knowledge or study of Vedas or Mantras etc. In one way the social distinction solely on basis of birth is artificial

Another doubt which is raised by others in this regard is why did Shrila Sarasvati Prabhupada introduce this Daivi Varnashrama when Lord Gauranga Himself rejected even the Daivi Varnashrama during His conversation with Shrila Ramananda Raya stating it as "eho bahya" or external?

The answer is as follows: The talks between Lord Gauranga and Shrila Ramananda Raya are highest esoteric conversations in the bhakti smriti shastras. So Lord Gauranga wanted to establish the highest standard of bhajana in the form of hearing and chanting during these talks. That is why He asked Shrila Ramananda Raya to go beyond it and go deeper. But Lord Gauranga never rejected the Daivi Varnashrama mentioned in Shrimad Bhagavatam which states...hari toshanam...Varnashrama is solely meant to please Lord Hari by our activities. How could He ever abolish or not desire the establishment of pure Varnashrama which was based on...hari toshanam or pleasing the Lord. In fact it was His desire that it should be implemented. He often quoted the verse...sthane sthitah shruti gataam...which states one should properly situate oneself in the Daivi Varnashrama system and then one should hear attentively about the Lord in that position. Here the word "sthana" means one's position in the Daivi Varnashrama system. Thus Shrila Sarasvati Prabhupada monumentously established the pure Varnashrama system according to the desire of all the previous Acharyas and the Lord Himself.

Some people say that sannyasa and sacred thread have no meaning for rasika bhaktas or Gaudiya Vaishnavas and they criticize Shrila Sarasvati Prabhupada for giving the sacred thread and sannyasa.

We see directly in Lord Gauranga's pastimes that Lord Gauranga Himself accepted the sacred thread and respected others who wore the sacred thread and who had the divine qualities of brahamanas. He also greatly respected the sannyasa godbrothers of His own Gurudeva. So Lord Gauranga Himself accepted the brahamana sacred thread and the sannyasa order as the part of the Daivi Varnashrama system and never saw them as an obstacle to raganuga or rasika bhakti. Thus the Daivi Varnashrama was later by His intimate and powerful associate Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada according to His desire.

Nityananda! Gauranga! Hare Krishna! Thank you for this question.

Daaso'smi, Swami Gaurangapada.

Attachs list:
Brahmana_thread.htm