Duties of a Brahmana
Srimad Bhagavatam 7.11.1
Translation and Purports By
His Divine Grace
AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
The varnasrama system delineates the divisions of brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya and sudra. It also sets forth the system of samskaras. The garbhadhana samskara, the ceremony for begetting a child, must be observed by the higher section of people, namely the dvijas. One who follows the garbhadhana samskara system is actually twice-born, but those who do not, who deviate from the principles of varnasrama-dharma, are called dvija-bandhus. The principal occupations for a brahmana are worshiping the Deity, teaching others how to worship the Deity, studying the Vedic literatures, teaching the Vedic literatures, accepting charity from others and again giving charity to others. A brahmana should make his livelihood from these six occupational duties. The duty of a ksatriya is to give protection to the citizens and levy taxes upon them, but he is forbidden to tax the brahmanas. The members of the Krsna consciousness movement should therefore be exempt from government taxation. Ksatriyas may tax everyone but the brahmanas. Vaisyas should cultivate the land, produce food grains and protect the cows, whereas the sudras, who by quality never become brahmanas, ksatriyas or vaisyas, should serve the three higher classes and be satisfied. Other means of livelihood are also prescribed for the brahmanas, and these are four--salina, yayavara, sila, and unchana. Each of these occupational duties is successively better.
One who is in a lower grade of social life cannot accept the profession of a higher class unless necessary. In times of emergency, all the classes but the ksatriyas may accept professional duties of others. The means of livelihood known as rta (silonchana), amrta (ayacita), mrta (yacna), pramrta (karsana), and satyanrta (vanijya) may be accepted by everyone but the ksatriyas. For a brahmana or a ksatriya, engaging in the service of the vaisyas or sudras is considered the profession of dogs.
Narada Muni also described that the symptom of a brahmana is controlled senses, the symptoms of a ksatriya are power and fame, the symptom of a vaisya is service to the brahmanas and ksatriyas, and the symptom of a sudra is service to the three higher classes. The qualification for a woman is to be a very faithful and chaste wife. In this way, Narada Muni described the characteristics of higher and lower grades of people and recommended that one follow the principles of his caste or his hereditary occupation. One cannot suddenly give up a profession to which he is accustomed, and therefore it is recommended that one gradually be awakened. The symptoms of brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras are very important, and therefore one should be designated only by these symptoms, and not by birth. Designation by birth is strictly forbidden by Narada Muni and all great personalities.
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