Who is a brahmana and who is a Vaisnava ?

August 18, 2020 in Articles by Damaghosa dasa

SB. 10.7.13-15–When brāhmaṇas are free from envy, untruthfulness, unnecessary pride, grudges, disturbance by the opulence of others, and false prestige, their blessings never go in vain. Considering this, Nanda Mahārāja soberly took Kṛṣṇa on his lap and invited such truthful brāhmaṇas to perform a ritualistic ceremony according to the holy hymns of the Sāma Veda, Ṛg Veda and Yajur Veda. Then, while the hymns were being chanted, he bathed the child with water mixed with pure herbs, and after performing a fire ceremony, he sumptuously fed all the brāhmaṇas with first-class grains and other food.

PURPORT Nanda Mahārāja was very confident about the qualifications of the brāhmaṇas and their blessings. He was fully confident that simply if the good brāhmaṇas showered their blessings, the child Kṛṣṇa would be happy. The blessings of qualified brāhmaṇas can bring happiness not only to Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but to everyone. Because Kṛṣṇa is self-sufficient, He does not require anyone’s blessings, yet Nanda Mahārāja thought that Kṛṣṇa required the blessings of the brāhmaṇas. What then is to be said of others? In human society, therefore, there must be an ideal class of men, brāhmaṇas, who can bestow blessings upon others, namely, upon the kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras, so that everyone will be happy. Kṛṣṇa therefore says in Bhagavad-gītā (4.13) that human society must have four social orders (cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ); it is not that everyone should become a śūdra or a vaiśya and human society will prosper. As enunciated in Bhagavad-gītā, there must be a class of brāhmaṇas with qualities like satya (truthfulness), śama (peacefulness), dama (self-control) and titikṣā (tolerance).Here also, in the Bhāgavatam, Nanda Mahārāja invites qualified brāhmaṇas. There may be caste brāhmaṇas, and we have all respect for them, but their birth in brāhmaṇa families does not mean that they are qualified to bestow blessings upon the other members of human society. This is the verdict of the śāstras. In Kali-yuga, caste brāhmaṇas are accepted as brāhmaṇas. Vipratve sūtram eva hi (Bhāg. 12.2.3): in Kali-yuga, simply by putting on a thread worth two paise, one becomes a brāhmaṇa. Such brāhmaṇas were not called for by Nanda Mahārāja. As stated by Nārada Muni (Bhāg. 7.11.35), yasya yal lakṣaṇaṁ proktam. The symptoms of a brāhmaṇa are stated in śāstra, and one must be qualified with these symptoms.The blessings of brāhmaṇas who are not envious, disturbed or puffed up with pride and false prestige and who are fully qualified with truthfulness will be useful. Therefore a class of men must be trained as brāhmaṇas from the very beginning. Brahmacārī guru-kule vasan dānto guror hitam (Bhāg. 7.12.1). The word dāntaḥ is very important. Dāntaḥ refers to one who is not envious, disturbing or puffed up with false prestige. With the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, we are trying to introduce such brāhmaṇas in society. Brāhmaṇas must ultimately be Vaiṣṇavas, and if one is a Vaiṣṇava, he has already acquired the qualifications of a brāhmaṇa. Brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā (Bg. 18.54). The word brahma-bhūta refers to becoming a brāhmaṇa, or understanding what is Brahman (brahma jānātīti brāhmaṇaḥ). One who is brahma-bhūta is always happy (prasannātmā). Na śocati na kāṅkṣati: he is never disturbed about material necessities. Samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu: he is ready to bestow blessings upon everyone equally. Mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām: [Bg. 18.54] then he becomes a Vaiṣṇava. In this age, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura introduced the sacred thread ceremony for his Vaiṣṇava disciples, with the idea that people should understand that when one becomes a Vaiṣṇava he has already acquired the qualifications of a brāhmaṇa.Therefore in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, those who are twice initiated so as to become brāhmaṇas must bear in mind their great responsibility to be truthful, control the mind and senses, be tolerant, and so on. Then their life will be successful. It was such brāhmaṇas that Nanda Mahārāja invited to chant the Vedic hymns, not ordinary brāhmaṇas. Verse thirteen distinctly mentions hiṁsā-māna. The word māna refers to false prestige or false pride. Those who were falsely proud, thinking that they were brāhmaṇas because they were born in brāhmaṇa families, were never invited by Nanda Mahārāja on such occasions.

SB 10.7.17–The brāhmaṇas, who were completely expert in chanting the Vedic hymns, were all yogīs fully equipped with mystic powers. Whatever blessings they spoke were certainly never fruitless.

PURPORT Brāhmaṇas fully equipped with the brahminical qualifications are always yogīs fully powerful in mystic yoga. Their words never fail. In every transaction with other members of society, brāhmaṇas are certainly dependable. In this age, however, one must take into account that the brāhmaṇas are uncertain in their qualifications. Because there are no yajñic brāhmaṇas, all yajñas are forbidden. The only yajña recommended in this age is saṅkīrtana-yajña. Yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi sumedhasaḥ (Bhāg. 11.5.32). Yajña is meant to satisfy Viṣṇu (yajñārthāt karmaṇo ’nyatra loko ’yaṁ karma-bandhanaḥ [Bg. 3.9])). Because in this age there are no qualified brāhmaṇas, people should perform yajña by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra (yajñaiḥ saṅkīrtana-prāyair yajanti hi sumedhasaḥ). Life is meant for yajña, and yajña is performed by the chanting of Hare Kṛṣṇa, Hare Kṛṣṇa, Kṛṣṇa Kṛṣṇa, Hare Hare/ Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare.

Feb 14 1977 Mayapura conversations

Hari-śauri: When one is only on the platform of neophyte.

Prabhupāda: Yes. Yes. Kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, yes.

Hari-śauri: Varṇāśrama system is beneficial.

Prabhupāda: Kaniṣṭha-adhikārī means he must be a brāhmaṇa. That is kaniṣṭha-adhikārī. The spiritual life, kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, means he must be a qualified brāhmaṇa. That is kaniṣṭha. What is esteemed as very high position in the material world, brāhmaṇa, that is kaniṣṭha-adhikārī.arcāyām eva haraye pūjāṁ yaḥ śraddhayehate na tad-bhakteṣu cānyeṣusa bhaktaḥ prākṛtaḥ smṛtaḥ The brāhmaṇa means from the material stage gradually he is elevated to the spiritual stage. And below the brāhmaṇa there is no question of Vaiṣṇava.

Hari-śauri: No question of?

Prabhupāda: Vaiṣṇavism. śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥhṛdy antaḥ-stho hy abhadrāṇi vidhunoti suhṛt satām [SB 1.2.17]By becoming a brāhmaṇa, hearing, hearing, hearing… Or by hearing, hearing, hearing, he becomes a brāhmaṇa. The other qualities, śūdra quality, kṣatriya, vaiśya, means finished. So then next stage is, śṛṇvatāṁ sva-kathāḥ kṛṣṇaḥ puṇya-śravaṇa-kīrtanaḥ, hṛdy antaḥ… Naṣṭa-prāyeṣv abhadreṣu. By this process, hearing… Without becoming a brāhmaṇa nobody is interested to hear. Then, by hearing, naṣṭa-prāyeṣv abhadreṣu, then abhadra, means the base qualities, means ignorance and passion… These are the base qualities. So naṣṭa-prāyeṣv abhadreṣu. When these base qualities are finished almost, not complete, nityaṁ bhāgavata-sevayā, by hearing from Bhāgavata or by serving the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement-naṣṭa-prāyeṣv abhadreṣu nityaṁ bhāgavata-sevayā bhagavaty uttama-ślokebhaktir bhavati naiṣṭhikī [SB 1.2.18]Then he becomes fixed up in devotional… This devotional service is the first-grade quality of sattva-guṇa.naṣṭa-prāyeṣv abhadreṣu nityaṁ bhāgavata-sevayā bhagavaty uttama-ślokebhaktir bhavati naiṣṭhikī [SB 1.2.18]Tadā rajas-tamo-bhāvāḥ [SB 1.2.19]. When one is situated as a devotee, then this base quality, rajas-tamaḥ, ignorance and passion, the symptoms: kāma-lobhādayaś ca ye. Kāma, lusty desires, and greediness. Sex desire, strong sex desire or satisfy the senses, eating too much, lobha, greediness—these things go. Nityaṁ bhāgavata-sevayā bhagavaty uttama… When one is situated in devotional service, tadā rajas-tamo-bhāvāḥ. These are rajas-tamo… These are the symptoms of rajas-tamo-bhāvāḥ. Tadā rajas-tamo-bhāvāḥ kāma-lobhādayaś ca ye, ceta etair anāviddham [SB 1.2.19]. The mind is no more disturbed with all these things. Sthitaṁ sattve prasīdati. Then he is to be understood… He’s in the sattva-guṇa. That is perfect brahminical life. Then he’ll be pleased. Prasīdati. In this way, gradual step… So it is very difficult to bring, introduce varṇāśrama, but at least there must be some idea. Just like in the university, nobody is going to study higher mathematics, higher English literature. Nobody goes even in your country. The classes are almost vacant. But still, the government does not close it. The expenditure is high, but there is no student, no income. Therefore the professors coming to us, “Give us some student.” You know that?

NOTE-Here is the verse below that Srila Prabhupada mentioned earlier for brahmanas qualifications

SB 7.11.35–If one shows the symptoms of being a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra, as described above, even if he has appeared in a different class, he should be accepted according to those symptoms of classification.

PURPORT Herein it is clearly stated by Nārada Muni that one should not be accepted as a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra according to birth, for although this is going on now, it is not accepted by the śāstras. As stated in Bhagavad-gītā (4.13), cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ. Thus the four divisions of society—brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra—are to be ascertained according to qualities and activities. If one was born in a brāhmaṇa family and has acquired the brahminical qualifications, he is to be accepted as a brāhmaṇa; otherwise, he should be considered a brahma-bandhu. Similarly, if a śūdra acquires the qualities of a brāhmaṇa, although he was born in a śūdra family, he is not a śūdra; because he has developed the qualities of a brāhmaṇa, he should be accepted as a brāhmaṇa. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is meant to develop these brahminical qualities. Regardless of the community in which one was born, if one develops the qualities of a brāhmaṇa he should be accepted as a brāhmaṇa, and he then may be offered the order of sannyāsa. Unless one is qualified in terms of the brahminical symptoms, one cannot take sannyāsa. In designating a person a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya or śūdra, birth is not the essential symptom. This understanding is very important. Herein Nārada Muni distinctly says that one may be accepted according to the caste of his birth if he has the corresponding qualifications, but otherwise he should not. One who has attained the qualifications of a brāhmaṇa, regardless of where he was born, should be accepted as a brāhmaṇa. Similarly, if one has developed the qualities of a śūdra or a caṇḍāla, regardless of where he was born, he should be accepted in terms of those symptoms.Thus end the Bhaktivedanta purports of the Seventh Canto, Eleventh Chapter, of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, entitled “The Perfect Society: Four Social Classes.”

Here is the verse from BG which explains Brahminical qualities.BG 18.42–peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, wisdom, knowledge, and religiousness-these are the qualities by which the brāhmaṇas work.

Some Conclusions—Prabhupada gives us this verse from ….SB 10.7.17–The brāhmaṇas, who were completely expert in chanting the Vedic hymns, were all yogīs fully equipped with mystic powers. Whatever blessings they spoke were certainly never fruitless.Also this very important conversation about who is a Vaishanva and who is a qualified brahmana….….kaniṣṭha-adhikārī, means he must be a qualified brāhmaṇa. That is kaniṣṭha. What is esteemed as very high position in the material world, brāhmaṇa, that is kaniṣṭha-adhikārī. arcāyām eva haraye pūjāṁ yaḥ śraddhayehate na tad-bhakteṣu cānyeṣu sa bhaktaḥ prākṛtaḥ smṛtaḥ The brāhmaṇa means from the material stage gradually he is elevated to the spiritual stage. And below the brāhmaṇa there is no question of Vaiṣṇava.In many different places Srila Prabhupada explains who is a Vaisnava and he gives some loose definitions of this status at times. But here we see this is what he means by who is an actual Vaisnava who is far above the fully qualified brahmana. It is not a cheap thing to attain. To become Vaisnava means to be a pure devotee of the Lord. There is a book put out called brahmana-Vaisnava which was a documented lecture given by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta maharaja to a gathering of learned pandits. When they heard him speak, they all rose and gave him a standing ovation due to his exacting and concise talk based upon the Vedas about who is brahmana and who is Vaisnava.
Hare Krsnadamaghosa das