Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Lord's multiple oneness

It is a material condition the fact that an object cannot occupy more than a single space. If two different spaces are occupied, we have to conclude that there are two distinct objects. Similarly, we cannot speak of a variety of attributes belonging to the same object if there concomitance is not possible, like hot ice, or soft rock. But if we want to understand a bit about the potencies of God, we have to set aside these rational limitations. The sruti confirms that Lord Visnu is one, although He manifests Himself in many forms:

eko vasi sarvagah krsna idya eko 'pi san bahudha yo 'vabhati
tam pithastham ye tu yajanti dhiras tesam sukham sasvatam netaresam
(Gopala-tapani Upanisad, 1.21; Govinda-bhasya, 2.3.38)

"Lord Krsna is the worshipable, all-pervading supreme controller, and although He is one, He manifests Himself in many forms. Those who are intelligent worship that Supreme Lord Who remains in His spiritual abode. Those persons attain the eternal transcendental happiness which is not available for others."

If one erroneously applies the material rational estimations in regard to the innumerable manifestations of God, he will come to the faulty conclusion that there are many gods, what undermines the whole concept of bhakti unto a supreme person. To emphasize the necessity of discarding all material conceptions and to corroborate the inconceivable potency of Lord Krsna, the Brahma-sutras state:

na sthanato’pi parasyobhaya-lingam sarvatra hi

“The essential nature of the Supreme Lord, though differentiated by space, does not undergo any change of characteristics, because He simultaneously exists everywhere.”
(Brahma-sutras, 3.2.11)

That means, no material condition can limit His potency. So being, He can become manifest in unlimited places at the same time, and still remain the very same one Personality of Godhead, or He can assume slightly different features, or absolutely different features in each different manifestation, and still this would in no regard affect His supremacy. That is one of the modes by which God is able to personally reciprocate in a very particular way with each of His devotees, for every one of them also has a unique mood and feeling towards the Lord. If He were not able to expand unlimitedly in all aspects, it would not be possible for Him to properly deal with His worshippers, and this would disqualify Him as the all-powerful One. Similarly, there is no limitation regarding the quality or number of distinct attributes that God can assume in the very same form or in diverse forms, even if they apparently show contradiction. For example, in His very sweet form as a cowherd boy in Vrndavana, He manifested Himself as fierce death to many demons, while in His terrific form as Nrsimhadeva, He displayed a very affectionate mood towards Prahlada. But in spite all these multiple displays, it must be understood that we are speaking of the very same Supreme Personality of Godhead. To corroborate this fact, the sruti declares:

indro mayabhih puru-rupah iyate yukta hy asya harayah satadasety ayam vai harayo’yam vai dasa ca sahasrani ca bahuni canantani ca tad etad brahmapurvam anaparam anantaram abahyam ayam atma brahma sarvanubhutir ity anusasanam
(Brhadaranyaka Upanisad, 2.5.19; Govinda-bhasya, 3.2.12)

“The Supreme Personality of Godhead along with His transcendental potencies is manifested as the thousand Visnu forms, as the ten avataras, and as unlimited other forms, but He is the very same primeval, matchless, unlimited, all-pervasive, omniscient Parabrahma.”

This is another aspect of the acintya-bhedabheda-sakti of the Lord, through which He performs what no one else can. The sruti and smrti also confirm His multiple ability to display Himself unlimitedly:

amatro’nanta-matras ca dvaitasyopasamah sivah
omkaro vidito yena sa munir netaro janah
(Mandukya-karika, 26-29)

“He who knows the Om-kara as partless, and yet full of infinity parts, the destroyer of all false knowledge, and blissful, is a sage, no one else.”

eka eva paro visnuh sarvatrapi na samsayah
aisvaryad rupam ekam ca suryavad bahudheyate
(Quoted in the Govinda-bhasya, 3.2.13)

“The Supreme Lord Visnu is undoubtedly only one, though existing
everywhere. By His mystic opulence He appears as many, just like the sun.”

Although it is not possible to find any parallels in the material platform, still Baladeva gives some analogies to better appreciate this mystic opulence of the Lord: the vaidurya gem, though one, is seen by different people from different angles as possessing different forms and colors; an actor on stage, though remaining the same person, assumes different characters and expresses different emotions according to the role he is playing. Similarly, the one and the same Supreme Personality of Godhead displays different forms to display particular rasas, without ever abandoning His original forms or status. These analogies are backed up by the sastras in the following words:

manir yatha vibhagena nila-pitadibhir yutah
rupa-bhedam avapnoti dhyana-bhedat tathacyutah
(Narada-pancaratra, quoted by Jiva Gosvami in his Bhagavat-sandarbha, 40)

“When the jewel known as vaidurya touches other materials, it appears to be separated into different colors. Consequently the forms also appear different. Similarly, according to the meditational ecstasy of the devotee, the Lord, Who is known as Acyuta (infallible), appears in different forms, although He is essentially one.”

yat tad vapur bhati vibhusanayudhair avyakta-cid-vyaktam adharayad dharih
babhuva tenaiva sa vamano vatuh sampasyator divya-gatir yatha natah

“The Lord appeared in His original form, with ornaments and weapons in His hands. Although this ever-existing form is not visible in the material world, He nonetheless appeared in this form. Then, in the presence of His father and mother, He assumed the form of Vamana, a brahmana-dwarf, a brahmacari, just like a theatrical actor.”
(Bhagavatam, 8.18.12)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Origin of Brahman

A common question raised by skeptics is that everything in the world has a cause, so if God is the cause of the world, then who or what is the cause of God? Here we come to the specific definition of God- the One Who is the supreme cause of all causes, while He Himself has no cause. As He declares:

aham sarvasya prabhavo mattah sarvam pravartate
iti matva bhajante mam budha bhava-samanvitah
(Bhagavad-gita, 10.8)

“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who perfectly know this engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.”

Here the word ‘sarvam’(everything) is significant, for that includes whatever might exist in the material and spiritual worlds, that means, anything or anyone other than Himself. Thus, nothing can be the cause of God, for there is nothing that exists which was not manifested by Him, and it would be illogical to consider a created being to be the cause of its cause. Moreover, the imposition that God must have a cause would lead to regressus ad infinitum, what would contradict the very definition of God too. This is described in sankhya in these words:

mule mulabhavad amulam mulam
(Sankhya-sutra, 1.67)

"This is so because the root cause of everything is not caused by another root cause."

The sruti confirms:

na tasya kascit patir asti loke na cesita naiva ca tasya lingam
sa karanam karanadhipadhipo na casya kascij janita na cadhipah
(Svetasvatara Upanisad, 6.9; Govinda-bhasya, 1.1.1)

“No one is His master. No one controls Him. He does not have a material body. He is the cause of all causes. He is the master of all masters of the senses. No one is His father. No one is His king.”

The smrti says:

isvarah paramah krsnah sac-cid-ananda-vigrahah
anadir adir govindah sarva-karana-karanam
(Brahma-samhita, 5.1)

“Krsna, Who is known as Govinda, is the Supreme Godhead. He has an eternal blissful spiritual body. He is the origin of all. He has no other origin and He is the prime cause of all causes.”

The conclusion is that everything other than God has an origin, thus by the indirect process if we find someone who has no cause, He is God.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Brahman’s inconceivable manifestations

Some may question Brahman’s capacity to be simultaneously the efficient and the material cause of creation on the basis of the diversity of attributes required to perform all the different creative functions and the display of all metamorphosis that the elements go through, while the spiritual nature is said to be immutable, constant, etc. Here relies one of the distinctive attributes of God: His capacity to remain eternality unchanged although manifesting unlimited spiritual and material creations, a feature that is absent in any material element, in any jiva, and in prakrti or pradhana. In other words, Lord Krsna is not subject to any of the material, logical limitations that condition everything in this world. The following quotations substantiate His supreme inconceivable powers. In the sruti it is said:

brhac ca tad divyam acintya-rupam suksmac ca tat suksmataram vibhati
durat sa-dure tad ihanti ke ca pasyatsv ihaiva nihitam guhayam
(Mundaka Upanisad, 3.1.7)

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the greatest. He is splendid and transcendental. His form is beyond the understanding of the material mind. He is more subtle than the most subtle. He stays far away from the impious. The devotees see Him in their hearts."

Lord Brahma explains:

tam ekam govindam sac-cid-ananda-vigraham panca-padam vrndavana-sura-bhuruha-talasinam satatam sa-marud-gano 'ham paramaya stutya tosayami.
(Gopala-tapani Upanisad, 1.38)

"With eloquent prayers I and the Maruts please Lord Govinda, Whose form is eternal and full of knowledge and bliss, Who stays under a desire tree in Vrndavana, and Who is this five-word mantra."

barhapidabhiramaya ramayakuntha-medhase
rama-manasa-hamsaya govindaya namo namah

“Obeisances to Lord Govinda, handsome with a peacock-feather crown, Who is identical with Balarama, Who is the swan in the Manasa lake of the goddess of fortune's thoughts, and Whose intelligence is unobstructed.”

This proves that the Lord’s body is divine and transcendental, distinct from that of any other living entity, therefore beyond all the physical laws.

eko vasi sarvagah krsna idya eko 'pi san bahudha yo 'vabhati
(Ib.,1.23; Govinda-bhasya, 2.3.38)

“Lord Krsna is the omnipotent, all-pervading worshipable Personality of Godhead. Although He is one, He is manifested in many forms."

amatro 'nanta-matrasca dvaitasyopasamah sivah
omkaro vidito yena sa munir netaro janah

(Mandukya-upanisad, 1.29)

“He who knows the Lord as devoid of parts and yet full of infinity parts, as blissful, the reconciliation of all dualities and the syllable Om personified, is indeed a sage, and no one else.”

This proves that the Lord although one and the same can manifest Himself in unlimited expansions and still remain the same undivided Supreme Spirit.
It is further stated:

asino duram vrajati sayano yati sarvatah
(Kathopanisad, 1.2.21)

“He walks though sitting, and though He reclines (upon His bedstead) He goes everywhere.”

That means, He can simultaneously be situated in a single place as well as in many places, be lying down and at the same time move. This proves that He can be specifically within the parameters of physical space and beyond it simultaneously, being measurable and immeasurable according to His supreme will.

visvatas-caksur uta visvato-mukho visvato-bahur uta visvatas-pat
sam bahubhyam dhamati sam patatrair dyav abhumi janayan deva ekah
(Svetasvatara Upanisad, 3.3)

“His eyes are everywhere. His faces are everywhere. His arms are everywhere. His feet are everywhere. He, the one Supreme Personality of Godhead, breathed life into those who have two arms on the land and those who have wings in the sky.”

esa devo visva-karma mahatma sada jananam hrdaye sannivistah
hrda manisa manasabhiklpto ya etad vidur amrtas te bhavanti
(Ib., 4.17)

“Those who know the Supreme Personality of Godhead become immortal, Who is the universes' creator, Who always stays in everyone's heart and is the object of the wise heart's meditation.”

sa visva-krd visva-vid atma-yonih jnah kalakaro guni sarva-vid yah
pradhana-ksetrajna-patir gunesah samsara-moksa-sthiti-bandha-hetuh
(Svetasvatara Upanisad, 6.16; Govinda-bhasya, Introduction)

“The Supreme Lord, the creator of this cosmic manifestation, knows every nook and corner of His creation. Although He is the cause of creation, there is no cause for His appearance. He is fully aware of everything. He is the Supersoul, the master of all transcendental qualities, and He is the master of this cosmic manifestation in regard to bondage to the conditional state of material existence and liberation from that bondage.”

niskalam niskriyam santam niravadyam niranjanam
amrtasya param setum dagdhendhanam ivanalam
“Let me surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Who is perfect, complete, free from material activities, peaceful, pure, and free from the touch of matter, Who is a bridge to immortality, and Who is a blazing fire greedily consuming fuel.”

All these statements corroborate Lord Govinda’s inconceivable potency with which He creates, maintains and destroys all the material universes while His Own nature remains totally unaffected. Therefore, the Kurma Purana establishes the principle to look through the Lord’s puzzling attributes:

nasthulas cananus caiva sthulo 'nus caiva sarvatah
avarnah sarvatah proktah syamo raktakta-locanah
aisvarya-yogad bhagavan viruddhartho 'bhidhiyate
tathapi dosah parame naivaharyah kathancana
guna viruddha apyete samaharyah samantatah
(Quoted by Rupa Gosvami in his Laghu-bhagavatamrtam, 1.97)

"He is neither great nor small. He is great and small. He is colorless. He is said to have red eyes. It is said that by the touch of His potencies the Supreme Lord has many mutually contradictory qualities. Though He has these attributes, no evil or falsehood should ever be attributed to Him. On the contrary, all these attributes should be reconciled with each other as far as possible."

God being one, it might be expected that when He manifests Himself, He does so in the same way. The Brahma-sutras (3.2.35), however, explain that God is free to manifest Himself in unlimited ways according to the situation and the devotee, just like the same light appears distinct when reflected in walls carved with gems. Baladeva also gives the example of sound, which even being of the same pitch has a different timber according to the instrument played, and that too might vary in speed and intensity. Similarly, Lord Krsna and His avataras display Their pastimes in a way just suitable to all the circumstances involved. For example, it would be incompatible for Him to appear in a form predominantly in the mood of the Vaikuntha opulence (aisvarya) for a devotee in the mood of the Vrajavasis’ spontaneous conjugal love (madhurya), as when He showed His Narayana form to the gopis when they were roaming through the forest looking for Govinda. It would also not be fair from Him to display a huge form like Kurma on this tiny earth planet or a form like Nrsimhadeva to devotees who feel parental loving devotion for Him.

The Brahma-sutras explain:

vyaptes ca samanjasam
(Brahma-sutras, 3.3.10)

“Because He is all-pervading, He always presents Himself in a harmonious form.”

The purport is that the Supreme Lord’s form can have infinite modalities, and each of them is unique. A devotee may choose any of them to worship or meditate, and there will never be any difference from the ontological point of view. Those forms vary according to His own will, never due to any material factor, and for this reason one should not think that when the Lord plays as a human being He is also going through the same influence of time and nature. For example, when Lord Krsna displays pastimes in different stages as childhood (kaumara), boyhood (pauganda), and youth (kaisora), He shifts His external appearance by the power of His mystic yoga, never by the regular process of aging to which all the living beings are subject.

An objection might be raised: if the Lord’s manifestations in His pastimes are eternal, then we have to imply that every one of those devotees that take part in each activity, and each activity as well, must also be eternal. In this case, we have an inconsistent picture, for we see a sequence of activities performed both by the Lord and His devotees, and each of them has a particular beginning and end, otherwise there would be no diversity of activities at all. But this contradicts the definition of eternal. Moreover, there is a constant change of devotees who take part in every pastime, therefore how can the Lord’s activities be called eternal at all? This is another example of improper material reasoning applied to God. Lord Krsna, His activities and His associates have nothing to do with the influence of kala, time, for in the transcendental platform there is another frame of time that is distinct from the one predominant in this world. The sastras also describe the Lord as comprising all frames of time within Himself:

yad bhutam bhavac ca bhavisyac ca
(Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad, 3.8.3)

"The Supreme Personality of Godhead exists in the past, present, and future."

Although there may be a continuous succession of events and interactions in the Lord’s pastimes, they are essentially all of the same spiritual nature, and therefore not subjected to the abovementioned arguments. Lord Krsna Himself qualifies His own activities in this way:

janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah
tyaktva deham punar janma naiti mam eti so 'rjuna
Bhagavad-gita, 4.9

“One who knows the transcendental nature of My appearance and activities does not, upon leaving the body, take his birth again in this material world, but attains My eternal abode, O Arjuna.

This evinces how His pastimes are of a divine (divyam) nature, and by definition must be eternal. The non-eternal activities of the Lord are manifested through the agency of prakrti and kala, which produce all movable and non-movable things within the material universe. These are prone to be destroyed by those very agents, but the Lord’s pastimes are totally beyond their influence. By the agency of the Lord’s internal potency, His pastimes appear to be within a time frame and thus we can speak of His appearance and disappearance.

In this way, even in the minor details, every manifestation of God is a very detailed organized spiritual affair in which His yoga-maya potency makes all the arrangements so that He can apparently fit in the parameters of this relative world. Baladeva further points out that the motivator factor that impels the Lord to act in a particular way is essentially the feeling of His devotees towards Him, which surcharges the Lord of with the same mood. Thus the displays of God are a dynamic emotional exchange between Him and His devotees.

Monday, May 9, 2011


Sanskrit poetry is enriched with a great variety of metrical patterns, figures of expression, and innumerable other features. The mere combination of short and long syllables in verses that have from one to twenty six-syllables per quarter makes a total of 134,217,470 possibilities. Citra-kavitva is one of the most impressive kinds of compositions, consisting in poems in the form of animals, flowers, etc. Such poetry has been common among Indian poets for at least two thousand years, and poets like Magha (7th century A.D.) became renowned for intricate arrangements in the form of sword, zigzag, wheel, etc. The rules for such compositions were laid down in several treatises on poetics, among which King Bhoja’s (11th century A.D.) “Sarasvati-kanthabharana” has a distinct place. Although not so well-known yet, several Gaudiya poets wrote works that are nothing less than the consecrated maha-kavyas of Kalidasa and others. The book called “Stava-mala” contains Srila Rupa Gosvami’s poems arranged in different shapes, such as lotus, drum, wheel, etc. in which the exquisite vocabulary, grammatical constructions, and figures of expression are breath-taking. Inspired by these, what follows is my humble attempt to write a citra-kavitva.

Click to enlarge:

Some of the characteristics of this formation are as follows. The first three lines of the verse are arranged as the six spokes of the wheel, sharing the same syllable at the centre. The first and the last syllable of the first three lines are shared with the fourth line, forming the rim. The last syllable of the third line is the first and the last syllable of the fourth line. With some exceptions, a syllable with a short vowel is considered long when followed by two consonants, so here the first syllable of the three first lines should be long when read towards the centre, but short when read in the rim.


smaryam – to be remembered; vedyam – to be known; rtam – the Truth; prapatti-satakam – hundreds of ways of devotional service; vaidesya-patre – unto the foreign people who became his recipient; dade – imparted; svarnanga-prabhu-campakanghri-sarano – whose shelter is the campaka like feet of the Lord’s golden incarnation; dharmyan – religious principles; pradatte – imparts; ca – also; me – to me; vrtva –refraining; asambhu-cakram – a multitude of inauspicious things; vyathatma-samakah – the pacifier of the afflicted souls; yah – one who; krsna-pantha – the path to Krsna; sah – he; vai – indeed; vaikunthe – in the spiritual world; smayinah – smiling; svatah – in his original constitutional position; anivrta-bhah – with unobstructed effulgence; deve – at Krsna; sah – he; me – me; patu – protect; vai – truly.


“Taking full shelter at Lord Caitanya’s feet, which are just like yellow campaka flowers due to His golden complexion, he made the foreign people recipients of his mercy by imparting to them the Supreme Absolute Truth and hundreds of ways to engage in devotional service. This Truth is to be known and remembered by all, and therefore he imparts the eternal religious principles to me also. Restraining a multitude of inauspicious characteristics common in this age, he pacifies the suffering conditioned souls, for he is indeed the personified path back to Krsna. Now situated in his original constitutional position in the spiritual world, with unobstructed effulgence he is smiling lovingly at Krsna. May that Srila Prabhupada always protect me.”

Another common feature of this construction, as exemplified by Magha in his famous cakra-bandha in the “Sisupala-vadha” (19.120), is a hidden signature, a somewhat modest, though ingenious way to sign one’s work. It should start in one of the inner circles of the wheel and be read clockwise towards the centre. Eight inner circles can be drawn from the centre, one for each syllable. Here, in the sixth syllable of the second spoke (from the centre) we read ‘pra’, and in the sixth syllable of the third spoke we read ‘bhu’, etc. Continuing in the fourth inner line, we have the following:

prabhupada-padya-cakram demyan-krtam

“This poem in the form of a wheel was composed by Demian to glorify Srila Prabhupada.”

For those who appreciate poetry, this is an insignificant drop compared to the ocean of nectar written by Srila Rupa Gosvami, Srila Visvanatha Cakravarti, and so many others.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Brahman’s diverse nomenclature

Some may quote several passages of the scriptures to identify the Supreme Brahman as someone else than Lord Visnu, or to prove that the creation can have a cause different than Him. Here are some examples:

ksaram pradhanam amrtaksarah harah
(Svetasvatara Upanisad, 1.10; Govinda-bhasya, 1.4.Adhikarana 8, Intro.)

"The material nature is in constant flux, but Lord Hara is eternal and unchanging."

eko rudro na dvitiyaya tasthuh
(Ib., 3.2)

"Lord Rudra is the Supreme. He has no rival."

yo devanam prabhavas codbhavas ca visvadhiko rudrah sivo maharsih
(Svetasvatara Upanisad, 3.4)

"Lord Siva, who is known as Rudra, is the omniscient ruler of the universe. He is the father of all the demigods. He gives the demigods all their powers and opulences."

yada tamas tan na diva na ratrir na san na casac chiva eva kevalah

"When the final darkness comes and there is no longer day or night, when there is no longer being and non-being, then only Lord Siva exists."
The scriptures also state:

pradhanad idam utpannam pradhanam adhigacchati
pradhane layam abhyeti na hy anyat karanam matam
(Quoted in the Govinda-bhasya, 1.4.27)

"From pradhana this material world was born. This world knows only pradhana. This world merges into pradhana at the time of annihilation. Nothing else is the cause of this world."

jivad bhavanti bhutani jive tisthanty acancalah
jive ca layam icchanti na jivat karanam param

"From the jiva all the elements of this world have come. In the jiva they rest without moving, and they finally merge into the jiva. Nothing else is the cause of this world."

From the immediate literal meaning of these verses, it seems that the vaisnava conclusions are contradicted. Vidyabhusana replies to this by quoting the Bhalvaveya-sruti :

namani visvani na santi loke yad avirasit purusasya sarvam
namani sarvani yam avisanti tam vai visnum paramam udaharanti

"The names of this world are not different from Him. All names in this world are names of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. All names refer to Him, Lord Visnu, Whom the wise declare is the Supreme Personality of Godhead."

The mentioned names should be understood to be names of the Supreme Brahman because all names are originally names of the Supreme Brahman.
Vaisampayana Muni explains that all these names are names of Lord Krsna. The Skanda Purana also explains:

sri-narayanadini namani vinanyani rudradibhyo harir dattavan
(Quoted in the Govinda-bhasya, 4.1.28)

"Except for Narayana and some other names, Lord Hari gave away His names to Lord Siva and the other demigods."

This is the rule that should be followed: When the ordinary sense of these names does not contradict the essential teaching of the Vedas, the ordinary meaning should be accepted. When the ordinary sense of these names does contradict the teaching of the Vedas, these names should be understood to be names of Lord Visnu.

It may also be argued that the Supreme Brahman, being the cause of all moving and non-moving entities and the soul of all souls, can be called by any name denoting any of those entities, but in fact we see that this usage is not current. For example, when we speak of the ocean, we literally mean the sea and not God. It could only figuratively or poetically refer to Him. The fact, however, is that God as the source of everything is also the source of the power of the words and their capacity to convey meaning. Therefore, all words are primarily denotations of God, for nor they, nor the objects they denote can possibly exist independently of Him. Indeed, the purpose of all the words of the scriptures is exactly to lead one to understand that Lord Krsna is behind everything. As He declares:

raso 'ham apsu kaunteya prabhasmi sasi-suryayoh
pranavah sarva-vedesu sabdah khe paurusam nrsu
(Bhagavad-gita, 7.8)

“O son of Kunti, I am the taste of water, the light of the sun and the moon, the syllable om in the Vedic mantras; I am the sound in ether and ability in man.”

In the tenth chapter of Bhagavad-gita, called ‘vibhuti-yoga’, the Lord extensively describes how He is to be seen as the all in all. On this light, we should understand the statements such as:

ta apa aiksanta bahvayah syama prajayemahiti ta annam asrjanta
(Chandogya Upanisad, 6.2.3-4; Govinda-bhasya, 2.3.Adhikarana 6, Intro.)

"Water thought: `I shall become many. I shall father many children.' Then water created anna."

Here the meaning of the word ‘apa’ is God, not water as one could literally expect. The sruti confirms the non-difference from the Lord:

tato visuddham vimalam visokam asesa-lobhadi-nirasta-sangam
yat tat padam panca-padam tad eva sa vasudevo na yato’nyad asti
(Gopala-tapani upanisad, 1.37)
“That spiritual world, completely pure, uncontaminated, free from suffering, free from greed and all other vices, and identical with this five-word mantra, is manifested from Lord Vasudeva. There is nothing separate from Him.”

In the smrti it is said:

kataka-mukuta-karnikadi-bhedaih kanakam abhedam apisyate yathaikam
sura-pasu-manujadi-kalpanabhir harir akhilabhir udiryate tathaikah
(Visnu Purana, 3.7.16; Govinda-bhasya, 2.3.15)

"As golden bracelets, crowns, earrings, and other golden ornaments are all one because they are all made of gold, so all demigods, men, and animals are one with the Lord because they are all made of Lord Hari's potencies."

The meaning is that whatever exists is manifested through the potencies of Krsna, therefore any word denoting energy or attributes naturally refer to Him, Who is the supreme possessor of all of them.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Caste System of India: Spreading Racism and Madness in the name of Religion

Lord Caitanya carries the body of Haridas Thakur, a Vaisnava saint raised in a Muslim family

Not to speak of the humans, even the animals divide themselves into different groups, mostly to fight one another. From the primeval stages of society, man has been forming groups according to things as basic as ethnicity or as silly as a football team. Again, the purpose is imposing one’s group on another’s. A very ancient tactic for assuring that one’s acquired status will not be hampered is to promote an imaginary hereditary prerogative, which then enforces not only the present generation’s stability, but also that of the future ones. The most common example of hereditary claim experienced in the western world was the monarchy, a system quite obsolete nowadays. It was the natural course of action that one day people would realize that their king was not any divine envoy as advertised; after all, he often could be clearly perceived as a regular drunker and imbecile. Apparently, the idea of putting words in the mouth of God to legitimate one’s claims is as old as humanity, for this worked for many centuries in Europe and has been working in India for much longer, as to the present day there are still so many people glad to accept any cock-and-bull story as religion.

One of the most far-fetched, baseless, and, indeed, insane tales widely accepted in India is that one’s social or religious status is determined by birth. Thus, one’s “jati” or caste is an irrevocable fact for life. Why is it so? Wherefrom did this idea come? How to back it up? Easy: concoct a lot of rubbish, write it down, and present it as “sacred scripture”, “culture”, “tradition”, etc. This was the beginning of a long and sad history of interpolated texts that constitute a great part of the smrtis.


Instead of wasting time quoting spurious texts, I will here quote the legitimate ones, by which any contrary statement will become automatically evinced as bogus. All orthodox religious and philosophical lines in India agree that sruti is the primary evidence in all regards. I have carefully searched the Rg, Atharva,Sama, and Yajur Vedas, the main Upanisads, and the main Brahmanas and Aranyakas, and there is not even a single instance where the word “jati” is used. Rather, the ancient scriptures simply refer to the social divisions, or varnas, and their respective characteristics. There is nothing about birth rights whatsoever. Although the Bhagavad-gita is part of the Mahabharata – a very much interpolated text – it is called “Gitopanisad”, it has the status of an Upanisad, for it is directly spoken by Lord Krishna and it was passed down through the disciplic succession as it is. Therein, the Lord declares:

catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah
tasya kartaram api mam viddhy akartaram avyayam

“According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me. And although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the nondoer, being unchangeable.” Bg 4.13

samo damas tapah saucam ksantir arjavam eva ca
jnanam vijnanam astikyam brahma-karma svabhava-jam

“Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness -- these are the natural qualities by which the brahmanas work.” Bg 18.42

sauryam tejo dhrtir daksyam yuddhe capy apalayanam
danam isvara-bhavas ca ksatram karma svabhava-jam

“Heroism, power, determination, resourcefulness, courage in battle, generosity and leadership are the natural qualities of work for the ksatriyas.” Bg 18.43

krsi-go-raksya-vanijyam vaisya-karma svabhava-jam
paricaryatmakam karma sudrasyapi svabhava-jam

“Farming, cow protection and business are the natural work for the vaisyas, and for the sudras there is labor and service to others.” Bg 18.44

Here it is crystal clear that one’s social status is based on work (karma) and quality (guna). It is very unfortunate that even so-called Vaisnavas think themselves greater authority than Lord Krishna to say something that is not based on His words.

The Vedanta-sutras are also highly considered as scriptural evidence, and there we see in the “Apasudra-adhikarana”(1.3.34-38) the example of Satyakama quoted from the Chandogya Upanisad. He was admitted by Gautama in the gurukula on the mere basis of his truthfulness in unhesitatingly declaring to be the fatherless son of a maidservant. This is an evident instance of a low born person accepted as a brahmana on account of his qualities. The scriptures abound in examples of persons who were born in a particular varna but adopted another varna and were legitimately recognized. Just to give another example, it is described in the fourth chapter of the fifth canto of Srimad Bhagavatam that Rsabhadeva was a ksatriya king, and among his sons some became ksatriyas and some became brahmanas.

Since at this point of history the staunchest jativadis (advocates of casteism) are those who claim to be brahmanas by birth, I put five basic questions for them:


Here we touch the bottom line of the issue: given the high rate of illiteracy in India, it is not a surprise if people lack a minimum knowledge of biology. In taxonomy, the living entities are classified according to kingdom, division, class, order, family, genus, and species. Species is the exact meaning of the word “jati” in Sanskrit, and here it refers to the broad category of beings that can breed. A cow is a specie, and a horse is another specie. One may spend years trying to breed both of them, but they will never produce offspring. The jativadis claim that brahmana is a jati and sudra is another jati, but they fail to explain how they can have children without any difficulty. In this way they also fail to pass even the primary school exam in science. It is also remarkable that the same scriptures that state that the brahmanas are descendents of the seven great rsis also state that these same rsis are also the fathers of the ksatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras. There is not a single genetic trait that could possibly distinguish any caste from another. We also see people from different ethnic groups in the same caste, sub-caste, and gotras.


Let us recap their slogan: “Brahmana is a jati, and sudra is another jati. One is born brahmana, and one is born sudra.” But when we analyze the concept of specie again, we see that a cow is born a cow; she does not need to do anything to become a cow, or even a better cow. A horse is born a horse; he does not need to do anything to become a horse, or even a better horse. However, the scriptures state again and again that one should receive the proper samskaras within the proper time in order to be a brahmana, otherwise one is not different than an outcaste. Manu, for example, declares that the age limit for receiving the upanayana samskara is sixteen for brahmanas, twenty two for ksatriyas, and twenty four for vaisyas. What happens to those who did not receive it within this period?

ata urdhvam trayo ’pyete yatha-kalam asamskrtah |
savitri-patita vratya bhavanty arya-vigarhitah ||

“After these periods, those in the three castes who have not received the samskara at the proper time become outcastes. They are fallen from the Vedic system and are despised by the Aryans.” Manu, 2.39

Nowadays, however, it became such a joke that in some communities a man receives the brahminical thread at the moment of marriage, sometimes even after he is thirty years old!


A cow is born a cow and remains a cow for life. Except for death, there is nothing that a cow could do to lose its ‘cowness’. However, the scriptures are emphatic when they mention that if a brahmana indulges in sinful or degrading activities, his “brahminhood” is gone. The list can be quite large, including drinking liquor, cohabiting with a low class woman, accepting a job as an employ, eating food cooked by a sudra, etc. To give an example, the Mahabharata (12,181.13) states:

himsanrta-priya lubdhah sarva-karmopajivinah
krsnah sauca-paribhrastas te dvijah sudratam gatah

“When the twice-born 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 sudras.”

Nowadays, however, they have such a system that one can be a meat-eater, drunkard, and criminal, and yet claim to be a brahmana!


This is a very common term used in the scriptures. For example:

stri-sudra-dvijabandhunam trayi na sruti-gocara
karma-sreyasi mudhanam sreya evam bhaved iha
iti bharatam akhyanam krpaya munina krtam

“Out of compassion, the great sage thought it wise that this would enable men to achieve the ultimate goal of life. Thus he compiled the great historical narration called the Mahabharata for women, laborers and degraded relatives of the twice-born.” Srimad Bhagavatam, 1.4.25

This term specifically refers to those who were born in a family of qualified brahmanas, ksatriyas, or vaisyas, but failed to achieve the same qualifications, and therefore cannot be called dvija, twice-born. Thus, according to the scriptures the unqualified son of a qualified brahmana is a dvija-bandhu, and the unqualified son of a dvija-bandhu is a sudra. Nowadays, however, they find no meaning for this term, for they think that the only qualification they need is to be born in a family that somehow still holds a brahmana title!


The main characteristic of a brahmana is knowledge, particularly Vedic knowledge. However, we see that every child is born totally ignorant, no matter what the family is. Unless one is taught everything from the scratch, he will remain an ignoramus for the whole life. If the son of a brahmana is abandoned in the jungle, he will not even learn to speak. Factually, the scriptures state:

yo ‘nadhitya dvijo vedam anyatra kurute sramam |
sa jivann eva sudratvam asu gacchati sanvayah ||

“One who in his lifetime does not endeavor to study the Vedas but labors hard in other pursuits quickly becomes a sudra along with his family in this very life time.” Manu, 2.168

nabhivyaharayed brahma svadha-ninayanad rte
sudrena hi samas tavad yavad vede na jayate

“Without initiation, one should not recite the Vedas, except while offering oblations to the forefathers. Until one is not qualified in the Vedas, he is on the same level as a sudra.” Manu, 2.172

Nowadays, however, the jativadis insist that they are brahmanas even if they have not even read a single mantra in life!

In this way, by following a concocted and demoniac system, the results can simply be demoniac too, with daily news of parents who proudly slaughter their son or daughter because they wanted to marry out of their caste, and other innumerable atrocities. In the words of Vivekananda Swami: “Caste conscious lunatics live in this lunatic asylum, of course, against our will, and ‘blessed’ with an eternal curse of associating with the insane. The Indian caste system is pointedly diabolical. It is a real curse.” How ironic that renowned Advaitavadis such as Ramakrishna, Vivekananda, Dayananda Sarasvati, and others vehemently opposed casteism, while many of those who claim to be Vaisnavas keep on supporting a system created by Kali to destroy the sanatana dharma.

Thus, as we have seen above, the caste system based on birth is against the scriptures, against reasoning, against common sense, and against humanity, and so being it cannot be professed by others than demons and madmen. What follows is a compilation of verses quoted in the book “Brahmana and Vaisnava” by Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati.

asuddhah sudra-kalpa hi brahmanah kali-sambhavah
tesam agama-margena suddhir na srota-vartmana

“The brahmanas born in the age of Kali are impure, mere sudras. Their so-called Vedic path of karma is polluted and cannot purify them. They can only be purified by following the path of the agamas or pancaratrika-viddhi.” (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 5.5, from Visnu Yamala Samhita)

raksasah kalim asritya jayante brahma-yonisu
utpanna brahmana-kule badhante srotriyan krsan

“In Kali-yuga, demons will take birth in the families of brahmanas to harass those rare persons who are conversant with the Vedic way of life.”

[This verse was spoken by Lord Siva in the Varaha Purana.]

If the descendants of either seminal or professional brahmanas do not possess the necessary qualifications, then they are also fallen. It is stated in Mahabharata, Vana-parva, Chapter 215 as follows:

brahmanah pataniyesu vartamano vikarmasu
dambhiko duskrtah prajnah sudrena sadrso bhavet

“If a brahmana is engaged in sinful activities, if he is proud, or if he is a miscreant, then he falls to the level of a sudra.”

yasya yal laksanam proktam pumso varnabhivyanjakam
yad anyatrapi drsyeta tat tenaiva vinirdiset

“If one shows the symptoms of being a brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya or sudra, as described above, even if he has appeared in a different class, he should be accepted according to those symptoms of classification.” Srimad Bhagavatam 7.11.35

In his commentary on (7.11.35), Srila Sridhara Svamipada has clarified the above statement as follows:

samadibhir eva brahmanadi-vyavaharo mukhyo na jati-matrad ity aha yasyeti—yad yadi anyatra varnantare 'pi drsyeta tad varnantaram tenaiva laksana-nimitenaiva varnena vinirdiset na tu jati-nimitenety arthah

“The brahmanas' main characteristics are qualities such as peacefulness, not birth. If these main characteristics are seen in persons other than those born as brahmanas, then such persons should be considered brahmanas. They should not be considered according to their caste by birth.”

In the Mahabharata (Santi-parva, Moksa-dharma, Chapter 188) our first evidence is
given as follows:

bharadvaja uvaca
jangamanam asankhyeyah sthavaranam ca jatayah
tesam vividha-varnanam kuto varna-viniscayah
bhrgur uvaca
na viseso 'sti varnanam sarva-brahmam idam jagat
brahmana purva-srstam hi karmabhir varnatam gatam
himsanrta-priya lubdhah sarva-karmopajivinah
krsnah sauca-paribhrastas te dvijah sudratam gatah

“Bharadvaja said: There are innumerable categories of animate and inanimate living entities. How can one determine their various varnas?”
“Bhrgu 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 sudras.”

In the Santi-parva, Chapter 189, our second evidence is given as follows:

bharadvaja uvaca
brahmanah kena bhavati ksatriyo va dvijottama
vaisyah sudras ca viprarse tad bruhi vadatam vara
bhrgur uvaca
jata-karmadibhir yas tu samskaraih samskrtah suci
vedadhyayana-sampannah satsu karmasv avasthitah
saucacara-sthitah samyag vighasasi guru-priyah
nitya-vrati satya-parah sa vai brahmana ucyate
satya-danam athadroha anrsamsyam trapa ghrna
tapas ca drsyate yatra sa brahmana iti smrtah
sarva-bhaksa-ratir nityam sarva-dharma-karo 'sucih
tyakta-vedas tv anacarah sa vai sudra iti smrtah
sudre caitad bhavel laksyam dvije tac ca na vidyate
na vai sudro 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, ksatriya, vaisya, or sudra.”
“Bhrgu 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 sudra. If the symptoms of a brahmana are found in a sudra and if the symptoms of a sudra are found in a brahmana, then the sudra should not be called a sudra and the brahmana should not be called a brahmana.”

Our third evidence is given in the Vana-parva, Chapter 211, as follows:

sudra-yonau hi jatasya sad-gunanupatisthatah
vaisyatvam labhate brahman ksatriyatvam tathaiva ca
arjave vartamanasya brahmanyam abhijayate

“O brahmana, if a person is born in the family of a sudra and posesses good qualities, he becomes a vaisya or a ksatriya. And if he possesses the quality of simplicity, he is a brahmana.”

Our fourth evidence is stated in the Vana-parva, Chapter 215:

brahmano vyadhaya
sampratam ca mato me 'si brahmano natra samsayah
brahmanah pataniyesu vartamano vikarmasu
dambhiko duskrtah prajnah sudrena sadrso bhavet
yas tu sudro dame satye darme ca satatotthitah
tam brahmanam aham manye vrttena 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 sudra. And I consider a sudra 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 Santi-parva, Chapter 318, as follows:

sarve varna brahmana brahmajas ca
brahmasyato brahmanah samprasutah
bahubhyam vai ksatriyah samprasutah
nabhyam vaisyah padatas capi sudrah
sarve varna nanyatha veditavyah
tat-stho brahma tasthivams caparo yas
tasmai nityam moksam 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 ksatriyas were born from his arms, the vaisyas were born from his navel, and the sudras 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 moksa-sastra was spoken for the benefit of those brahmanas and ksatriyas who have attained knowledge. This is the opinion of ancient scholars.”

In his commentary on these verses Sri Nilakantha has stated: tat-stho jnana-nistho yah sa eva brahma brahmanah. aparo ksatriyadir api tasthau tasthivan.—“Persons who are born from Brahma and fixed in knowledge are called brahmanas. The other castes like ksatriyas were also born from Brahma.”

Our sixth evidence is stated in the Vana-parva, Chapter 180, as follows:

sarpa uvaca
brahmanah ko bhaved rajan vedyam kim ca yudhisthira
bravihy ati-matim tvam hi vakyair anumimimahe
yudhisthira uvaca
satyam danam ksama-silam anrsamsyam tapo ghrna
drsyante yatra nagendra sa brahmana iti smrtah
sarpa uvaca
sudresv api ca satyam ca danam akrodha eva ca
anrsamsyam ahimsa ca ghrna caiva yudhisthira
yudhisthira uvaca
sudre tu yad bhavel laksma dvije tac ca na vidyate
na vai sudro bhavec chudro brahmano na ca brahmanah
yatraital laksyate sarpa vrttam sa brahmanah smrtah
yatraitan na bhavet sarpa tam sudram iti nirdiset

“The snake asked: O Maharaja Yudhisthira, who is a brahmana, and what is the object of knowledge? You are very intelligent, therefore I will be enlightened by your statement.
“Maharaja Yudhisthira replied: A person who possesses truthfulness, charity, forgiveness, sobriety, gentleness, austerity, and lack of hatred is called a brahmana.
“The snake said: Sudras also possess truthfulness, charity, freedom from anger, nonviolence, noneviousness, and lack of hatred.
“Maharaja Yudhisthira replied to this: If such symptoms are found in a sudra he should never be called a sudra, 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 sudra.”

We will quote the conversation between Uma and Mahesvara from the Mahabharata (Anusasana-parva 163.5, 8, 26, 46, 48, 51, and 59) in order to further strengthen this evidence.

sri-uma uvaca
etan me samsayam deva vada bhuta-pate 'nagha
trayo varnah prakrtyeha katham brahmanyam apnuyuh
mahesvara uvaca
sthito brahmana-dharmena brahmanyam upajivati
ksatriyo vatha vaisyo va brahma-bhuyah sa gacchati
ebhis tu karmabhir devi subhair acaritais tatha
sudro brahmanatam yati vaisyah ksatriyatam vrajet
etaih karma-phalair devi nyuna-jati-kulodbhavah
sudro 'py agama-sampanno dvijo bhavati samskrtah
karmabhih sucibhir devi suddhatma vijitendriyah
sudro 'pi dvija-vat sevya iti brahmabravit svayam
svabhavah karma ca subham yatra sudro 'pi tisthati
visistah sa dvijater vai vijneya iti me matih
na yonir napi samskaro na srutam na ca santatih
karanani dvijatvasya vrttam eva tu karanam
sarvo 'yam brahmano loke vrttena tu vidhiyate
vrtte sthitas tu sudro 'pi brahmanatvam niyacchati
etat te guhyam akhyatam yatha sudro bhaved dvijah
brahmano va cyuto dharmad yatha sudratvam apnuyat

“Uma said: O Lord, O sinless master of the living entities, I have some doubt about how members of the three castes—ksatriya, vaisya, and sudra—will attain through their own nature the platform of brahmanas.
“Mahesvara replied: If ksatriyas or vaisyas become situated in the behavior of brahmanas and spend their lives in the occupations of brahmanas, then such persons can attain the position of brahmanas.
“O goddess, by the same procedure a sudra can become a brahmana and a vaisya can become a ksatriya.
“By the results of these activities and by becoming an adherent of the agama scriptures, or in other words, by taking initiation through the pancaratrika system, then a low-born sudra also becomes a brahmana.
“O goddess, Lord Brahma has personally declared that by performing pure activities, a self-controlled sudra is fit to be served just like a brahmana.
“In my opinion, if pious activities and good character are found in a sudra, it should be understood that he is better than a brahmana.
“Birth, purificatory processes, study of the Vedas, and good birth are not the criterion for being a brahmana. The only criterion is one's behavior.
“A person is born as a brahmana in this world simply as a result of his nature. A sudra situated in the profession of a brahmana also becomes a brahmana.
“I have thus explained to you the secret of how a person who is born as a sudra becomes a brahmana and how by deviating from his occupational duties a person born in the family of a brahmana becomes a sudra.”
In the Brahma-sutras (1.3.37) it is stated: tad-abhava-nirdharane ca pravrtteh—“Whether a person belongs to a varna other than that of his birth may be ascertained by considering his qualities.”

The compilers of Dharma-sastras Visnu (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 lubdhas chadmiko loka-dambhakah
vaidala-vratiko jneyo himsra-sarvabhisandhikah
adho-drstir naikrtikah svartha-sadhana-tatparah
satho mithya-vinitas ca baka-vrata-paro dvijah
ye baka-vratino vipra ye ca marjara-linginah
te patanty andha-tamisre tena papena karmana
na dharmasyapadesena papam krtva vratam caret
vratena papam pracchadya kurvan stri-sudra-dambhanam
pretyeha cedrso vipro grhyate brahma-vadibhih
chadmanacaritam yac ca tad vai raksamsi gacchati
alingi lingi-vesena yo vrttim 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 sudras 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 varnasrama, and as a result of those sins he will take birth as an animal.”

The Dharma-sastra compiler Visnu (82.3-29) also states:

hinadhikangan vivarjayet, vikarma-sthams ca, vaidala-vratikan, vrtha-linginah, naksatra-jivinah, devalakams ca, cikitsikan, anudha-putran, tat-putran, bahu-yajinah, grama-yajinah, sudra-yajinah, ayajya-yajinah, tad-yajinah, parva-karan, sucakan, bhrtakadhyapakan, bhrtakadhyapitan, sudranna-pustan, patita-samsargan, anadhiyanan, sandhyopasana-bhrastan, raja-sevakan, nagnan, pitra vivadamanan, pitr-matr-gurv-agni-svadhyaya-tyaginas ceti, brahmanapasada hy ete kathitah pankti-dusakah. etan vivarjayet yatnat sraddha-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 sudras, 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 sudras, 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 sraddha ceremony for their fathers.”

Since brahmanas are also capable of committing any of the nine types of sinful activities—atipataka, mahapataka, anupataka, upapataka, jati-bhramsa-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 vaisyah sudro nisadakah
pasur mleccho 'pi candalo vipra dasa-vidhah smrtah
sandhyam snanam japam homam devata-nitya-pujanam
atithim vaisvadevam ca deva-brahmana ucyate
sake patre phale mule vana-vase sada ratah
nirato 'rahah sraddhe sa vipro munir ucyate
vedantam pathate nityam sarva-sangam parityajet
sankhya-yoga-vicara-sthah sa vipro dvija ucyate
astrahatas ca dhanvanah samgrame sarva-sammukhe
arambhe nirjita yena sa viprah ksatra ucyate
krsi-karma-rato yas ca gavam ca pratipalakah
vanijya-vyavasayas ca sa vipro vaisya ucyate
laksa-lavana-sammisra- kusumbha-ksira-sarpisam
vikreta madhu-mamsanam sa viprah sudra ucyate
cauras ca taskaras caiva sucako damsakas tatha
matsya-mamse sada lubdho vipro nisada ucyate
brahma-tattvam na janati brahma-sutrena garvitah
tenaiva sa ca papena viprah pasur udahrtah
vapi-kupa-tadaganam aramasya sarahsu ca
nihsankam rodhakas caiva sa vipro mleccha ucyate
kriya-hinas ca murkhas ca sarva-dharma-vivarjitah
nirdayah sarva-bhutesu vipras candala ucyate

“There are ten kinds of brahmanas mentioned in the scriptures—devas, munis, dvijas, rajas, vaisyas, sudras, nisadas, pasus, 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 sraddha 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 ksatra-vipra.
“One who likes to cultivate the land, protect cows and other animals, or accept the profession of trade and commerce is called a vaisya-vipra.
“One who sells varnish, salt, safflower oil, milk, honey, or meat is called a sudra-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 nisada-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.”

In addition to this, Atri (287) also says:
satham ca brahmanam hatva sudra-hatya-vratam caret
“If one kills a deceitful brahmana he should perform the same atonement as prescribed for killing a sudra.”

In this way, including this pseudo-devotee brahmana, there are twenty-four varieties of brahmanas described by the Dharma-sastra compiler Atri Mahasaya. Manu (2.157-158, 168, 172, and 4.245, 255) has stated:

yatha kastha-mayo hasti yatha carma-mayo mrgah
yas ca vipro 'nadhiyanas trayas te nama bibhrati
yatha sandho 'phalah strisu yatha gaur gavi caphala
yatha cajne 'phalam danam tatha vipro 'nrdho 'phalah
yo 'nadhitya dvijo vedam anyatra kurute sramam
sa jivan eva sudratvam asu gacchati sanvayah
sudrena hi samas tavad yavad vede na jayate
uttamanuttaman gacchan hinan hinams ca varjayan
brahmanah sresthatam eti pratyavayena sudratam
yo 'nyatha santam atmanam anyatha satsu bhasate
sa papa-krt-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 sudra along with his family.
“One should know that until a brahmana is qualified in the Vedas, he is on the same level as a sudra.
“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 sudra.
“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 Anusasana-parva, Chapter 143, of the Mahabharata it is stated:
sruti-smrti ubhe netre vipranam parikirtite
ekena vikalah kano dvabhyam andhah prakirtitah
“The sruti and smrti 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 srutim dvijah
sa sammudho na sambhasyo veda-bahyo dvijatibhih
na veda-patha-matrena santusyed esa vai dvijah
yathoktacara-hinas tu panke gaur iva sidati
yo 'dhitya vidhi-vad vedam vedartham na vicarayet
sa candhah sudra-kalpas tu padartham na prapadyate
seva sva-vrttir yair ukta na samyak tair udahrtam
svacchanda-caritah kva sva vikritasuh kva sevakah
pani-krtyatmanah pranan ye vartante dvijadhamah
tesam duratmanam annam bhuktva candrayanam caret
nadyac chudrasya vipro 'nnam mohad va yadi kamatah
sa sudra-yonim vrajati yas tu bhunkte hy anapadi
go-raksakan vanijakan tatha karuka-silinah
presyan vardhusikams caiva vipran sudra-vad acaret
trnam kastham phalam puspam prakasam 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 sudra 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 sudra. If other than in an emergency one either willingly or mistakenly does eat food cooked by a sudra, then as a result of eating such food he is born as a sudra.
“Those brahmanas who protect cows, engage in trade, become artists, take the occupation of servants, and loan money on interest are no better than sudras.
“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.”

Chandogya Upanisad:
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.”

Sripada Sankaracarya has commented on this verse as follows: he saumya ananucya anadhitya brahma-bandhur iva bhavatiti brahmanan bandhun vyapadisati, na svayam brahmana-vrtah.—“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.”

In the Vajra-sucikopanisad it is stated:

yaj jnanad yanti munayo brahmanyam paramadbhutam
tat trai-pada-brahma-tattvam aham asmiti cintaye
om apyayantv iti santih
cit-sad-ananda-rupaya sarva-dhi-vrtti-saksine
namo vedanta-vedyaya brahmane 'nanta-rupine
om vajra-sucim pravaksyami sastram ajnana-bhedanam
dusanam jnana-hinanam bhusanam jnana-caksusam
brahma-ksatriya-vaisya-sudra iti catvaro varnas tesam varnanam brahmana eva pradhana iti veda-vacananurupam smrtibhir 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-vasad aneka-deha-sambhavat sarva-sariranam jiva-svaikarupatvac ca. tasman na jivo brahmana iti. tarhi deho brahmana iti cet tan na a-candaladi-paryantanam manusyanam panca-bhautikatvena dehasyaika-rupatvaj jara-marana-dharmadharmadi-samya-darsanad brahmanah sveta-varnah ksatriyo rakta-varno vaisyah pita-varnah sudrah krsna-varna iti niyamabhavat. pitradi-sarira-dahane putradinam brahma-hatyadi-dosa-sambhavac ca tasman na deho brahmana iti. tarhi jatir brahmana iti cet tan na. tatra jaty-antara-jantusu aneka-jati-sambhava maharsayo bahavah santi. rsyasrngo mrgah. kausikah kusat. jambuko jambukat. valmiko valmikat. vyasah kaivarta-kanyayam. sasa-prsthat gautamah. vasisthah urvasyam. agastyah kalase jata iti srutatvat. etesam jatya vinapy agre jnana-pratipadita rsayo bahavah santi. tasman na jatih brahmana iti. tarhi jnano brahmana iti cet tan na. ksatriyadayo 'pi paramartha-darsino 'bhiksa bahavah santi. tasman na jnanam brahmana iti. tarhi karma brahmana iti cet tan na. sarvesam praninam prarabdha-sancitagami-karma-sadharmya-darsanat karmabhipreritah santah janah kriyah kurvantiti. tasman na karma brahmana iti. tarhi dharmiko brahmana iti cet tan na. ksatriyadayo hiranya-dataro bahavah santi. tasman na dharmiko brahmana iti. tarhi ko va brahmano nama. yah kascid atmanam advitiyam jati-guna-kriya-hinam sad-urmi-sad-bhavety-adi-sarva-dosa-rahitam satya-jnananandananta-svarupam svayam nirvikalpam asesa-kalpadharam asesa-bhutantar-yamitvena vartamanam antar bahis cakasa-vad anusyutam akhandananda-svabhavam apremeyam anubhavaika-vedyam aparoksataya bhasamanam kara-talamalaka-vat saksad aparoksi-krtya krtarthataya kama-ragadi-dosa-rahitah sama-damadi-sampanno bhava-matsarya-trsnasa-mohadi-rahito dambhahankaradibhir asamsprsta-ceta vartate. evam ukta-laksano yah sa eva brahmana iti sruti-smrti-puranetihasanam abhiprayah. anyatha hi brahmanatva-siddhir nasty eva. sac-cid-anandam atmanam advitiyam brahma bhavayed atmanam sac-cid-anandam brahma bhavayed ity upanisat.
om apyayantv iti santih.

“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-sastra. This knowledge dissipates ignorance, reproaches the ignorant persons, and is the ornament of intelligent persons with vision.
“There are four varnas—brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, and sudra. According to the statements of the Vedas, the brahmanas are the highest class. This is confirmed by the smrtis 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 ksatriyas are red, the vaisyas are yellow, and the sudras 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. Rsyasrnga was born from a deer, Kausika was born from kusa grass, Jambuka Rsi 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, Vasistha was born from Urvasi, 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 ksatriyas, 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 ksatriyas 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.”

In his commentary on the Mahabharata (Vana-parva 180.25, 26), Sri Nilakantha clearly says:

sudra-laksma kamadikam na brahmane 'sti. napi brahmana-laksma samadikam sudre 'sti. sudro 'pi samady-upeto brahmana eva. brahmano 'pi kamady-upetah sudra eva.

“The symptoms of a sudra, such as lust, are not present in a brahmana. Similarly the symptoms of a brahmana, such as peacefulness, are not present in a sudra. A sudra who possesses the quality of peacefulness is certainly a brahmana, and a brahmana who posesses the quality of lust is certainly a sudra.”

It is stated in the Chandogya Upanisad of the Sama Veda (4th prapathaka, 4th khanda) as follows:

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. aprccham 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 nesye. 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 (Adi-parva, Chapter 174) it is stated:

tatapa sarvan diptaujah brahmanatvam avaptavan

“The greatly effulgent Visvamitra thus performed all kinds of austerities and attained the position of a brahmana.”

In the Mahabharata (Anusasana-parva, Chapter 30) there is the following description of how the ksatriya-born Maharaja Vitahavya became a brahmana:

evam vipratvam agamad vitahavyo naradhipah
bhrgoh prasadad rajendra ksatriyah ksatriyarsabha

“This is how Maharaja Vitahavya attained the position of a brahmana: O best of the ksatriya kings, although Vitahavya was a ksatriya by birth, by the mercy of Bhrgu he became a brahmana.”

The Karusa ksatriyas descended from Karusa, the son of Manu, and the Dharsta ksatriyas, who descended from Dhrsta, the brother of Karusa, attained the position of brahmanas. This is confirmed in the Srimad Bhagavatam (9.2.16-17) as follows:

karusan manavad asan karusah ksatra-jatayah
dhrstad dharstam abhut ksatram brahma-bhuyam gatam ksitau

“From Karusa, another son of Manu, came the Karusa dynasty, a family of ksatriyas. From the son of Manu named Dhrsta came a ksatriya caste called Dharsta, whose members achieved the position of brahmanas in this world.” In his commentary on this verse, Sridhara Svami has written that the word brahma-bhuyam means “the position of brahmanas.”

Devadatta was the tenth descendant from Narisyanta, the son of Manu. The son of the ksatriya Devadatta was Agnivesyayana, who became a maharsi-brahmana, thus inaugerating a dynasty of brahmanas.

As stated in the Srimad Bhagavatam (9.2.19-22):

citraseno narisyantad rksas tasya suto 'bhavat
tasya midhvams tatah purna indrasenas tu tat-sutah
vitihotras tv indrasenat tasya satyasrava abhut
urusravah sutas tasya devadattas tato 'bhavat
tato 'gnivesyo bhagavan agnih svayam abhut sutah
kanina iti vikhyato jatukarnyo mahan rsih
tato brahma-kulam jatam agnivesyayanam nrpa

(1) Narisyanta, (2) Citrasena, (3) Rksa, (4) Midhvan, (5) Purna, (6) Indrasena, (7) Vitihotra, (8) Satyasrava, (9) Urusrava, (10) Devadatta, and (11) Agnivesya. The fire-god Agni himself appeared as Agnivesya, the son of Devadatta. This son, who was a celebrated saint, was well known as Kanina and Jatukarnya. O King, from Agnivesya came a brahminical dynasty known as Agnivesyayana.”

The son of Garga was Sini, who had a son named Gargya. Here is another example of a ksatriya giving birth to brahmanas. This is described in the Srimad Bhagavatam (9.21.19-21, 30, 31, 33) as follows:

gargac chinis tato gargyah ksatrad brahma hy avartata
duritaksayo mahaviryat tasya trayyarunih kavih
puskararunir ity atra ye brahmana-gatim gatah
brhatksatrasya putro 'bhud dhasti yad-dhastinapuram
ajamidho dvimidhas ca purumidhas ca hastinah
ajamidhasya vamsyah syuh priyamedhadayo dvijah
nalinyam ajamidhasya nilah santis tu tat-sutah
santeh susantis tat-putrah purujo 'rkas tato 'bhavat
bharmyasvas tanayas tasya pancasan mudgaladayah
mudgalad brahma-nirvrttam gotram maudgalya-samjnitam

“From Garga came a son named Sini, and his son was Gargya. Although Gargya was a ksatriya, there came from him a generation of brahmanas. From Mahavirya came a son named Duritaksaya, whose sons were Trayyaruni, Kavi and Puskararuni. Although these sons of Duritaksaya took birth in a dynasty of ksatriyas, they too attained the position of brahmanas. Brhatksatra had a son named Hasti, who established the city of Hastinapura [now New Delhi]. From King Hasti came three sons, named Ajamidha, Dvimidha and Purumidha. The descendants of Ajamidha, headed by Priyamedha, all achieved the position of brahmanas.
“Ajamidha had a son named Nila by his wife known as Nalini, and the son of Nila was Santi. The son of Santi was Susanti, the son of Susanti was Puruja, and the son of Puruja was Arka. From Arka came Bharmyasva, and from Bharmyasva came five sons, headed by Mudgala. From Mudgala came a dynasty of brahmanas known as Maudgalya.”

Maharaja Nabhi, the son of Priyavrata, had a son named Rsabha. Rsabhadeva begot one hundred sons in the womb of His wife, who was given to Him by the King of heaven, Indra. Bharata and his next nine younger brothers became the kings of the nine varsas. Nine sons headed by Kavi and Havi, known as the Nava-yogendras, became Vaisnavas. The other eighty-one sons became brahmanas.
This is confirmed in the Srimad Bhagavatam (5.4.13) as follows:

yaviyamsa ekasitir jayanteyah pitur adesa-kara maha-salina maha-srotriya yajna-silah karma-visuddha brahmana babhuvuh.

“In addition to these nineteen sons mentioned above, there were eighty-one younger ones, all born of Rsabhadeva and Jayanti. According to the order of their father, they became well cultured, well behaved, very pure in their activities and expert in Vedic knowledge and the performance of Vedic rituals. Thus they all became perfectly qualified brahmanas.”

It is explained in the Hari-vamsa (Hari-vamsa-parva 11.9):

nabhagadista-putrau dvau vaisyau brahmanatam gatau.

“Nabhaga and the son of Dista, although vaisyas, both became brahmanas.”

According to their individual natures, among the sons of Grtsamada there were
brahmanas headed by Saunaka as well as ksatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras. This is stated in the following words from the Hari-vamsa (Hari-vamsa-parva 29.7-8):

putro grtsamadasyapi sunako yasya saunakah
brahmanah ksatriyas caiva vaisyah sudras tathaiva ca

In his commentary on this verse, Nilakantha says: grtsamada-santatau sunakadayo brahmana anye ksatriyadayas ca sudrantah putra jatah—“Among the offspring of Grtsamada, some, headed by Sunaka, were brahmanas, some were ksatriyas, some were vaisyas, and some were sudras.”

Apart from his five ksatriya sons, Bali Maharaja also had sons who founded brahmana dynasties. This is explained in the Hari-vamsa (Hari-vamsa-parva 31.33-35) as follows:

maha-yogi sa tu balir abhuta nrpatih pura
putran utpadayam asa panca vamsa-karan bhuvi
angah prathamato jajne vangah suhmas tathaiva ca
pundrah kalingas ca tatha baleyam ksatram ucyate
baleya brahmanas caiva tasya vamsa-kara bhuvi

“Bali Maharaja was a great yogi who became a king long ago. He begot five sons in order to increase the population of the earth.
“The first of his five sons was named Anga, the second was Vanga, the third Suhma, the fourth Pundra, and the fifth was Kalinga. These sons were known as Baleya ksatriyas.
“In the dynasty of Bali there were also Baleya brahmanas, who increased their descendants on the earth.”

na sudra bhagavad-bhaktas te tu bhagavata matah
sarva-varnesu te sudra ye na bhakta janardane

“A devotee should never be considered a sudra. All the devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead should be recognized as bhagavatas. If one is not a devotee of Lord Krsna, however, even if born of a brahmana, ksatriya or vaisya family, he should be considered a sudra.” Padma Purana

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Srila Jiva Gosvami’s extraordinary accomplishments in the field of grammar, poetics and philosophy earned him a distinguished position among the greatest scholars of all times. His Sat-sandarbhas are the mark that established the philosophy of Lord Caitanya as a unique vaisnava school of thought, which for the first time was being named ‘acintya-bheda-abheda-vada’. The word ‘sandarbha’ means a literary composition consisting in the arrangement or collection on a specific topic. In the beginning of the Tattva-sandarbha, Jiva explains that in its original format, the work consisted in notes written by Srila Gopala Bhatta Gosvami aften scrutinizingly studying the scriptures and the vaisnava commentaries. Those notes were not in any specific or systematic order, and what Jiva did was to arrange them according to different topics and fully elaborate on their explanations. The main resource used by him was the Srimad Bhagavatam, and for this reason the Sandarbhas are indeed a kind of thematic commentary on the Bhagavatam and are also known as Bhagavata-sandarbhas

The author himself also wrote a commentary on the Sat-sandarbhas, which is called ‘Sarva-samvadini’. As the name suggests, it discusses all the main philosophical views that were commonly raised in orthodox treatises, either to support one’s arguments or to defeat others. Jiva was sent to Varanasi to study, and there he became conversant with all the traditional philosophical systems of ancient and medieval Indian schools. More than in any other of his works, in the Sarva-samvadini he displays his full-fledged scholarship as a philosopher and debater, quoting from innumerable treatises and commentators. It is interesting to see how he quotes Sankara, Kumarila Bhatta, Vacaspati Misra - all renowned advaitavadis – and others to corroborate some of the arguments he propounds. This, on the one hand, evinces how there is a vast common ground that covers all different schools of Vedic thought, and on the other hand, it shows how liberal and open-minded was Jiva Gosvami to give due credit to those who are otherwise taken as rivals.

It is not clear whether Jiva was ever able to complete the commentary on all the Sandarbhas or the last portion was lost, but the fact is that in the present day only the commentary on the four first books is available. What follows is my own translation of the Sarva-samvadini on text 10 of the Tattva-sandarbha.

tatas tani na pramananity anadi-siddha-sarva-purusa-paramparasu sarva-laukikalaukika-jnana-nidanatvad aprakrta-vacana-laksano veda evasmakam sarvatita-sarvasraya-sarvacintyascarya-svabhavam vastu vividisatam pramanam ||10||

Therefore, they (direct perception, etc.) are not proper means to acquire knowledge. For us who desire to know that object whose constitutional position is beyond everything, which is the shelter of everything, and which is totally inconceivable and wonderful, only the Vedas, which are characterized by transcendental words, are the proper means, for they are the original source of all worldly and transcendental knowledge and are established in all human traditions since time immemorial.

sarva-samvadini : athaivam sabdasya pramanatve paryavasite ko’sau sabda iti vivecaniyam | tatra “bhramadi-rahitam vacah sabdah” ity anenaiva paryaptir na syat | yatha sva-mati-grhite pakse bhramadi-rahito’yam ayam eveti pratisvam mata-bhede nirnayabhavapattes tatha tasyapi sabdasya pratyaksavagamyatvena paranugatatvad apramanyapatteh | tasmad yo [sabdah] nija-nija-vidvattayai sarvair evabhyasyate, yasyadhigamena sarvesam api sarvaiva vidvatta bhavati, yat-krtayaiva parama-vidvattaya pratyaksadikam api suddham syat, yas canaditvat svayam eva siddhah, sa eva nikhilaitihya-mula-rupo maha-vakya-samudayah sabdo’tra grhyate | sa ca sastram eva | tac ca veda eva |

Now, since it has been concluded that sabda is a valid means of knowledge, it is required to discuss what sabda is. In this regard, simply by stating that sabda is the word devoid of the four defects (mistake, etc.) there would be no conclusion, for each person has his own distinct opinion and sticks to it by declaring it to be free from mistake, etc. Thus there would be no decision. Besides that, words are also apprehended by means of sense perception, and on account of being subsequent to it, they may happen to be devoid of authority. Therefore, the collection of great words that are employed by everyone to substantiate their own knowledge, by whose comprehension arises the total knowledge about everything, by means of which the acquired supreme knowledge purifies even the direct perception and the other means of knowledge, which is self established since time immemorial, and which is the root of all historical records - this is what is here accepted as sabda. Sabda is sastra, and sastra means Veda.

ya evanadi-siddhah sarva-karanasya bhagavato’nadi-siddham punah punah srsty-adau tasmad evavirbhutam apauruseyam vakyam | tad eva bhramadi-rahitam sambhavitam | tac ca sarva-janakasya tasya ca sad-upadesayavasyakam mantavyam | tad eva cavyabhicari pramanam | tac ca tat-krpaya ko’pi ko’pi grhnati | kutarka-karkasa mudha va tan na grhnantu nama, tesam aprama-padam katham apayatu ? na cesvara-vihita-vaidyakadi-sastram amatam | pramanabhavad itaravad yatiti cen, na | paresam tad-anugatatvad eva sastratva-vyavaharah | na ca buddhasyapisvaratve sati tad-vakyam ca pramanam syad iti vacyam | yena sastrena tasya isvaratvam manyamahe, tenaiva tasya daitya-mohana-sastra-karitvenoktatvat |

The Supreme Personality of Godhead is beginningless, perfect, and the cause of all causes, and from Him only emanate the beginningless, perfect, and superhuman Vedic words again and again in the beginning of every creation. Only these words can possibly be devoid of the four defects. Since the Lord is the creator of all beings, His words must be considered necessary for the good instruction of all. Only this is an infallible means for acquiring knowledge, and it is accepted by those who have received His mercy. Let the fools and those whose hearts were hardened by bad logic not accept it. How can someone remove their ignorance? The other sastras prescribed by God, such as the Ayurveda, etc. are not to be disregarded either. If someone objects that they lack authority just as other books, we say that it is not so, for they follow the Vedas and are thus commonly accepted as sastra. Nor it can be said that Lord Buddha’s words are also authoritative because he is also an incarnation of God, for the same scripture by which we accept his divinity also states that he is the compiler of a scripture meant to deceive the demons.

atra [vedasya pramanya-visaye] vacaspatis caivam aha [sankara-bhasya-bhamati-tikayam upodghate]—“na ca jyestha-[agrajata]-pramana-pratyaksa-virodhad amnayasyaiva tad-apeksasyapramanyam upacaritarthatvam veti yuktam | asyapauruseyataya nirasta-samasta-dosasankasya bodhakataya ca svatah-siddha-pramana-bhavasya sva-karye pramitau paranapeksatvat | pramitav anapeksatve’py utpattau pratyaksapeksatvat tad-virodhad anutpatti-laksanam asyapramanyam iti cet, na utpadakapratidvandvitvat |

Regarding the authority of the Vedas, Vacaspati Misra speaks the following words in the introduction of his ‘Bhamati’ sub-commentary on Sankara-bhasya: “It is not correct to say that the Vedic words are devoid of authority or have secondary meanings because they contradict direct perception, which precedes them and upon which they depend, for the Vedas are superhuman and impart knowledge devoid of all defects and doubts, and being a self established evidence, they have valid knowledge as their natural product, not depending on any other means. If someone objects that spite their independence in producing valid knowledge, they depend on direct perception as a means for its generation, and therefore they are not authoritative, for upon contradicting direct perception the Vedic words would fail to produce valid knowledge, the answer is that it is not so, for the Vedas produce knowledge devoid of any contradiction.

na hy agama-jnanam samvyavaharikam pratyaksasya pramanyam upahanti, yena karanabhavan na bhaved api tu tattvikam | na ca tattvikam tasyotpadakam atattvika-pramana-bhavebhyo’pi samvyavaharikebhyah [pramanebhyah] tattva-jnanotpatti-darsanat | yatha varne hrasva-dirghatvadayo’nya-dharma api samaropitas tattva-pratipatti-hetavah | na hi laukika naga iti va, nagah iti va padat kunjaram va tarum va pratipadyamana bhavanti bhrantah | na cananya-param vakyam svarthe upacaritartham kartum yuktam | uktam hi—na vidhau parah sabdarthah iti | jyesthatvam [agra-jatatvam] canapeksitasya badhyatve hetur na tu badhakatve, rajata-jnanasya jyayasah sukti-jnanena kaniyasa badha-darsanat | tad-anapabadhane tad-apabadhatmanas tasyotpatter anupapattih | darsitam ca tattvika-pramana-bhavasyanapeksitatvam | tatha ca paramarsam sutram— paurvaparye purva-daurbalyam prakrtivat [pu.mi. 6.5.54] iti | tatha—

purvat para-baliyastvam tatra nama pratiyatam |
anyonya-nirapeksanam yatra janma dhiyam bhavet || [ 3.3.2] iti ||”

“Nor does the scriptural knowledge hinder the authority of the empirical direct perception of ordinary life, in whose absence no real knowledge would be produced at all. Nor can the real knowledge derived from direct perception be the cause of Vedic knowledge, for we see that even empirical means that lack substance also produce real knowledge. For example, the quality of long or short duration is an attribute imposed on the letters and thus become causes of real knowledge. Common people do not become confused when the word ‘nAga’ is used for ‘elephant’, and the word ‘naga’ is used for ‘tree’. It is also not appropriate that a statement that has no other meaning be interpreted in a secondary sense besides its own primary meaning. It is said: na vidhau parah sabdarthah- ‘In a Vedic injunction there should be no other word meaning than the one intended.’ The quality of direct perception as a preceding means can be the cause of an undesired perception being contradicted, but not the very cause of the contradiction (the fact that pratyaksa precedes cognizance can eventually lead to misapprehension, but this itself does cause it), just as we see that the subsequent perception of an oyster shell contradicts the preceding misapprehension of it as being silver. If the preceding misapprehension is not contradicted, then the subsequent correct apprehension of what is contradicting it would not arise. It was already demonstrated that the real means of knowledge does not depend on any other means. As stated by the great sage Jaimini in his Mimamsa-sutras (6.5.54): ‘paurvaparye purva-daurbalyam prakrtivat’- ‘When there are two consecutive injunctions, the previous one is weaken, as in the case of the prakrti sacrifice.’
Kumarila Bhatta confirms it in his Tantra-vartika (3.3.2) : ‘When a preceding and a subsequent cognizance are independent of each other, the latter should indeed be recognized as stronger than the former.” (end of Vacaspati’s quotation)

atra samvyavaharikam iti sarvatrikam eva vyavaharikam iti jneyam | kvacid upamardasya [arvacina-jnanasya] darsitatvad eva sastratva-vyavaharah | drsyate canyatra—suryadi-mandalasya suksmataya pratyaksikrtir apy anumana-sabdabhyam badhita bhavatiti durastha-vastunas tadrsataya [sthulasya suksmataya] drstatvac chastra-prasiddhatvac ca | tad evam sthite sri-vaisnavas tv eva vadanti | vedasya na prakrta-pratyaksadivad avidyavad visaya-matratvena yavad evavidya tavad eva tad-vyavaharah | sati vyavahare pramanyam ceti mantavyam, apauruseyatvan nityatvat, sarva-mukty-eka-kalabhavena [sarvesam jivan-muktanam yavat sadyo-videha-muktih prapance avasthane] tad-adhikarinam satatastitvat, paramesvara-prasadena paramesvaravad evavidyatitanam cic-chakty-eka-vibhavanam atmaramanam parsadanam api brahmanandoparicara-bhakti-paramanandena samadi-parayanader darsayisyamanatvat, srimat-paramesvarasya sva-veda-maryadam avalambyaiva muhuh srsty-adi-pravartakatvac ca | yesam tu purusa-jnana-kalpitam eva vedadikam sarvam dvaitam, tesam apauruseyatvabhavat tata eva bhramadi-sambhavat svapna-pralapavad-vyavahara-siddhav api pramanyam nopapadyata iti tan-matam avaidika-visesa iti |

Here the word ‘samvyavaharikam’ should be understood as ‘what is commonly experienced in ordinary life’. Because the scriptures sometimes demonstrate the suppression of the previous apprehension, they are designated as ‘sastra’. It is also seen in other instances that the perception of the sun globe and other celestial bodies as being small is contradicted by inference and sabda, for it is observed that a large object situated at a long distance appears to be small, and because their real dimensions are well known in the scriptures. Being so, the glorious devotees of Lord Visnu declare that the Vedas do not merely deal with objects that are the product of ignorance, as those apprehended by mundane direct perception and inference, for as long as there is ignorance, so long one will be engaged in it. The Vedas being applied even in ordinary life, their authoritativeness must admitted, for they are superhuman and eternal, and because there are always persons who are eligible to study them, as they do not attain final liberation all at the same time. As it will be shown later on, those who by the mercy of the Supreme Lord are beyond ignorance just like Him and enjoy the very same spiritual opulence created by His energy, who rejoice within themselves with the blissfulness of devotional service, which is above even the bliss of the impersonal liberation, they also engage in reciting the Sama Veda, etc. It is also a fact that the very Supreme Personality of Godhead also repeatedly performs the creation, maintenance and dissolution of the cosmos abiding by the tenets of the Vedas, which emanate from Him. As for those who consider the Vedas and other sastras as man-made imaginative knowledge full of dualities, they do not accept them as authority even in accomplishing ordinary affairs, just like words spoken in dreams, for they do not see them as superhuman, and thus conclude that they possibly have the four defects. This is another kind of non-Vedic view.

nanv arvag-jana-samvadadi-darsanat katham tasyanaditvady ucyate—ata eva ca nityatvam [ 1.3.29] ity atra sutre sankara-sariraka-bhasya-pramanitayam srutau sruyate—yajnena vacah padaviyam ayan tam anvavindy rsisu pravistam [ 10.71.3] iti | smrtau ca—

yugante 'ntarhitan vedan setihasan maharsayah |
lebhire tapasa purvam anujnatah svayambhuva || [ma.bha. 12.203.17] iti |
Someone may object that since we see things like the narrations and conversations of recent personalities (like the demigods and sages) therein, how can the Vedas exist since time immemorial, be superhuman, etc? In reply to this, the Vedanta-sutras (1.3.29) state: ata eva ca nityatvam, “Therefore the eternity of the Vedas is established.” In the commentary to this sutra, Sankaracarya quotes the evidence from the sruti: yajnena vacah padaviyam ayan tam anvavindy rsisu pravistam(Rg Veda, 10.71.3), “Through sacrifice they found the path of the Vedic words, which were within the sages, and carried them.” In the smrti it is also said: “Being first instructed by Lord Brahma, by the performance of penances the great sages obtained the Vedas, which had disappeared the end of the yuga.” [ma.bha. 12.203.17]

tasman nitya-siddhasyaiva veda-sabdasya tatra tatra pravesa eva, na tu tat-kartrkata | tatha canadi-siddha-vedanurupaiva pratikalpam tat-tan-namadi-pravrttih | tatha hi—samana-nama-rupatvac cavrttav apy avirodho darsanat smrtes ca [ 1.3.30] ity atra tattva-vada-bhasya-krdbhih sri-madhvacaryair udahrta srutih | suryacandramasau dhata yatha-purvam akalpayat [ 10.190],
yathaiva niyamah kale suradi-niyamas tatha |
tasman nanidrsam kvapi visvam etad bhavisyati || iti |

smrtis ca—
anadi-nidhana nitya vag utsrsta svayambhuva |
adau veda-mayi divya yatah sarvah pravrttayah ||
rsinam namadheyani yas ca vedesu srstayah |
veda-sabdebhya evadau nirmame sa mahesvarah || [ma.bha. 12.217.49]

Therefore the eternal and perfect Vedic words are simply introduced at particular times, but they never have an author. Similarly, the appearance of the respective names and forms of all created things and beings in every kalpa is also according the very same eternal and perfect Vedas. As the Vedanta-sutras[1.3.30] state: “The very same names and forms are repeatedly manifested without any contradiction. This is proved by the sruti and smrti.” In connection to this sutra, in his commentary defending the tattva-vada, Madhvacarya quotes the sruti: “The creator created the sun and the moon exactly as they were in the previous creation.” [RgVeda, 10.190], “Just as there is a law ruling over time, so there is a law ruling over the demigods and everything. Therefore this universe will never become at all different than what it is.” In the Mahabharata (12.217.49) is it said: “The eternal Vedic words have no beginning or end, and they were first transmitted by self-manifested Supreme Lord. In the beginning there was the transcendental sound of the Vedas, from which everything began. The created things and the names of the sages are all mentioned in the Vedas. In the beginning, the Supreme Lord engaged in creation through the words of the Vedas.”

atra sabda-purvaka-srsti-prakrame srutis cadvaita-sariraka-bhasye darsita—eta iti vai prajapatir devan asrjata, asrgram iti manusyan indava iti pitrn ity adika | tatha sa bhur iti vyaharat sa bhumim asrjata [tai.bra. 2.22] ity adika ca | tatha sri-ramanuja-saririke (1.3.27) darsita ca—vedena nama-rupe vyakarot satasati prajapatih iti | ata evautpattike sabdasyarthena sambandhe samasrite nirapeksam eva vedasya pramanyam matam | sabda iti cen natah prabhavat prayaksanumanabhyam ity atra samvadadi-rupa-prakriya tu srotr-bodha-saukarya-kariti samanjasyam eva bhajate | tasmad vedakhyam sastram pramanam tat-tal-laksana-hinatvat tad-viruddhatvac cavaidika tu sastram na pramanam ||10||

In connection to the gradual process of creation with the Vedic words, Sankaracarya quotes the following passage from the sruti (Panca-vimsati Brahmana, 6.9.15): "Pronouncing the word ‘ete’, Lord Brahma created the demigods. Pronouncing the word ‘asrgram’, he created the human beings. Pronouncing the word ‘indava’, he created the forefathers.” It is also stated in the Taittiriya Brahmana (2.22): “Lord Brahma uttered the word ‘bhur’ and thus created the earth.” In his commentary on the Brahma-sutras, Ramanujacarya quotes the Taittiriya Brahmana (6.8): “By the Vedas, Lord Brahma created all true and false names and forms.” Therefore, the Vedas are considered an independent authority, for in them the meanings and the words are intrinsically related to each other. The Vedanta-sutra (1.3.28) says that “if it be said that the words of the Vedas are non-eternal because they contain names of temporary personalities like the demigods, the answer is that it is no so, for their creation is made with the Vedic words, and both the sruti and smrti confirm it”. Here it is appropriate to say that the conversations and narrations in the Vedas are means for making them easier for the hearer to understand. Therefore, the scriptures called Vedas are authoritative, but not the non-Vedic texts, which are devoid of the characteristics of the Vedas and contradict them.