Two Kinds of Varnasrama Divine and Demoniac



dvau bhuta-sargau loke'sminn daiva asura eva ca

visnu-bhaktah smrto daiva asuras-tada-viparyayah


            There are two classes of men in the created world the demoniac and the

godly. The devotees of Lord Visnu are the godly. All opposed are demons.

(Padma Purana)


Divine Varnasrama



varnasramacaravata purusena parah puman

visnuraradhyate pantha nanyat tat-tosa-karakah


            The Supreme Person, Lord Visnu, is worshiped by a person who is en-

gaged in the proper execution of prescribed duties in the system of varna and

asrama. There is no other way to satisfy the Supreme Lord. (Visnu Purana 3.8.9)


The Demoniac Social System



asatyam apratistham te jagad ahur anisvaram

aparaspara-sambhutam kim anyat kama-haitukam


            The demoniac say that this world is unreal, that there is no foundation and

that there is no God in control. It is produced of sex desire, and has no cause

other than lust. (Bhagavad-gita 16.8)


The Character of the Followers of Demoniac Society



asau maya hatah satrur hanisye caparan api

isvaro 'ham aham bhogi siddho 'ham balavan sukhi


            The demoniac think, "He is my enemy, and I have killed him; and my other

enemy will also be killed. I am the Lord of everything, I am the enjoyer, I am

perfect, powerful, and happy. (Bhagavad-gita 16.14)


The Future of the Followers of Demoniac



tan aham dvisatah kruran samsaresu naradhaman

ksipamy ajasram asubhan asurisv eva yonisu


            Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men,

are cast by Me into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species

of life. (Bhagavad-gita 16.19)



asurim yonim apanna mudha janmani janmani

mam aprapyaiva kaunteya tato yanty adhamam gatim


            Attaining repeated birth and death amongst the species of demoniac life,

such persons can never approach Me. Gradually they sink to the most abominable

 type of existence. (Bhagavad-gita 16.20)


The Birth, Family, and Knowledge

of the Followers of Demoniac Society is Useless



dhig janma nas tri-vrd yat tad dhig vratam dhig bahu-jnatam

dhik kulam dhik kriya-daksyam vimukha ye tv adhoksaje


            To hell with our birth as brahmanas! To hell with our learning of Vedic

literature! To hell with our performing sacrifice and observing the rules and

regulations of scripture! To hell with our families! To hell with our expert ser-

vice in performing the rituals exactly according to the description of scripture!

To hell with it all, for as result of these things we have become opposed to

loving the blessed Supreme Lord, who is beyond the speculation of our body,

mind, and senses. (Bhag. 10.23.40)


The Characteristics of Each Varna



samo damas tapah saucam santosah ksantir arjavam

jnanam dayacyutatmatvam satyam ca brahma-laksanam


            The symptoms of a brahmana are control of the mind, control of the senses,

austerity, penance, cleanliness, satisfaction, forgiveness, simplicity, knowledge,

mercy, truthfulness, and complete surrender to the Supreme Lord. (Bhag. 7.11.21)



sauryam viryam dhrtis tejas tyagas catmajayah ksama

brahmanyata prasadas ca satyam ca ksatra-laksanam


            To be influential in battle, unconquerable, patient, challenging and chari-

table, to control the bodily necessities, to be forgiving, to be attached to the

brahminical nature, and to be always jolly and truthful are the symptoms of a

ksatriya. (Bhag. 7.11.22)



deva-gurv-acyute bhaktis tri-varga-pariposanam

astikyam udyamo nityam naipunyam vaisya-laksanam


            Being always devoted to the demigods, the spiritual master and the Su-

preme Lord, Visnu; endeavoring for advancement in religious principles, eco-

nomic development and sense gratification (dharma, artha, and kama), believ-

ing in the words of the spiritual master and scripture, and always endeavoring

with expertise in earning money are the symptoms of a vaisya. (Bhag. 7.11.23)



sudrasya sannatih saucam seva svaminy amayaya

amantra-yajno hy asteyam satyam go-vipra-raksanam


            Offering obeisances to the higher sections of society, being always very

clean, being free from duplicity, serving one's master, performing sacrifices with-

out uttering mantras, not stealing, always speaking the truth and giving all pro-

tection to the cows and brahmanas are the symptom of a sudra. (Bhag. 7.11.24)


Bhagavad-gita on Varnasrama



brahmana-ksatriya-visam sudranam ca parantapa

karmani pravibhaktani svabhava-prabhavair gunaih


            Brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras are distinguished by their quali-

ties of work, O chastiser of the enemy, in accordance with the modes of nature.

(Bhagavad-gita 18.41)


Qualities of Brahmanas



samo damas tapah saucam ksantir arjavam eva ca

jnanam vijnanam astikyam brahma-karma svabhava-jam


            Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, wisdom,

knowledge, and religiousness these are the qualities by which the brahmanas

work. (Bhagavad-gita 18.42)


Qualities of Ksatriyas



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 qualities of work for the ksatriyas.

(Bhagavat-gita 18.43)


Qualities of Vaisyas and Sudras



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

paricaryatmakam karma sudrasyapi svabhava-jam


            Farming, cow protection, and business, are the qualities of work for the

vaisyas, and for the sudras there is labor and service to others.

(Bhagavat-gita 18.44)


The Division of Varna and asrama According to Gura and Karma



catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah

tasya kartaram api mam viddhy akartaram avyayam


            According to the modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them,

the four divisions of human society were created by Me. Although I am the

ultimate creator of this system, you should know that I am not the direct cre-

ator, being unchangeable. (Bhagavad-gita 4.13)


Evidence from Srimad Bhagavatam

About the Divisions Varnasrama



mukha-bahuru-padebhyah purusasyasramaih saha

catvaro jajnire varna gunair vipradayah prthak


            [Camasa Yogendra said] From the mouth of Brahma, the brahminical or-

der has come into existence. Similarly, from his arms, the ksatriyas have come,

from his waist the vaisyas have come and from his legs the sudras have come.

These four orders and their spiritual counterparts [brahmacari, gnhastha,

vanaprastha, and sannyasa] combine to make society complete. (Bhag. 11.5.2)



ya esam purusam saksad atma-prabhavam isvaram

na bhajanty avajananti sthanad bhrastah patanty adhah


            For one who simply maintains an official position in varnasasrama but does

not worship the Supreme Lord, Visnu, he falls down from his puffed-up posi-

tion into a hellish condition. (Bhag. 11.5.3)



cari varnasrami yadi krsna nahi bhaje

svakarma karite se raurave padi' maje


            The followers of the varnasrama institutions accept the regulative prin-

ciples of the four social orders (brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya and sudra) and four

spiritual orders (brahmacari, gnhastha, vanaprastha, and sannyasa). If, one car-

ries out the regulative principles of these orders but does not render service to

Krsna, he falls into a hellish condition of life. (Cc. Madhya 22.26)


In Satya-Yuga, There was Only one Varna: Paramahamsa



adau krta-yuge varno nrnam hamsa iti smrtah

krta-krtyah praja jatya tasmat krta-yugam viduh


            In the beginning, Satya-yuga, there was only one social class, called "hamsa".

In that age everyone was perfect (in devotional service) from birth. That age is

therefore known as Knta-yuga, or the age in which all religious duties are ful-

filled. (Bhag. 11.17.10)



treta-mukhe maha-bhaga

pranan me hrdayat trayi

vidya pradurabhut tasya

aham asam tri-vrn makhah


            O blessed Uddhava, at the beginning of the Treta-yuga the threefold Vedas

was manifest from My heart thorough My breath; and through the three-fold

Vedas I (who am known a Yajna) appear as sacrifice. (Bhag. 11.17.12)



vipra-ksatriya-vit-sudra mukha-bahuru-pada-jah

vairajat purusaj jata ya atmacara-laksanah


            The four social orders appeared from the universal form of the Lord. The

brahmanas appeared from His face, the ksatriyas from His arms, the vaisyas

from His thighs, and the sudras from His feet. Each social order is character-

ized by specific systems and behavior. (Bhag. 11.17.13)


Previously, Everyone was a Brahmana.

Later, According to Guna and Karma, Different Divisions Arose



na viseso' sti varnanam sarvam brahmam-idam jagat

brahmana purva-srstam hi karmabhir-varnatam gatam


            [Brghu Muni said] Previously there was only one varna. Because every-

one was born of Brahma, everyone was a brahmana. However, later on differ-

ent castes were categorized according to their activities.

(Mahabharata, Santi Parva 188.10)


The Position of Varna-Dharma in Kali-yuga



brahmanah ksatriya vaisah sudrah papa-parayanah

nijacara-vihinas ca bhavisyanti kalau yuge

vipra veda-vihinas ca pratigraha-parayanah

atyanta-kaminah krura bhavisyanti kalau yuge

veda-nindakaras caiva dyutacaurya karas tatha

vidhava-sanga-lubdhas ca bhavisanti kalau dvijah

vrtty-artham brahmanah kecit mahakapata-dharminah

raktambara bhavisyanti jatilah smasrudharinah

kalau yuge bhavisanti brahmanah sudra-dharmina


            In Kali-yuga, all four varnas are devoid of character and proper behavior

and are addicted to sin. The brahmanas are devoid of Vedic knowledge and

sacrifice. Giving up the five sacrifices recommended in the Vedas and all

brahminical behavior and consciousness, they engage in inferior activities. They

collect charity to satisfy their unlimited appetite for sense enjoyment. The

brahmanas of Kali-yuga are characterized by the qualities of lust and cruelty.

Unholy in deed and thought, they take pleasure in envy and malice. These pro-

fessional thieves blaspheme the Vedas, drink liquor, and exploit women for sex,

taking great pleasure in adultery and fornication. They accept extremely sinful

means of maintaining their lives and, posing as swamis, dress in red cloth and

wear long hair and beards. In this way the wretched so called brahmanas of

Kali-yuga accept the dharma of sudras, that is, they become fourth-class men.

(Padma Purana)


Brahmanas in Kali-yuga are Brahmanas in Name only



raksasah kalim-asritya jayante brahma-yonisu

utpanna brahmana-kule badhante srotriyan krsan


            Those who were raksasas in previous ages, have taken birth as brahmanas

in Kali-yuga to torment the physically weak saintly persons who are engaged in

the culture of hearing about the Lord. (C.Bhag..Adi 11.298)


The Evidence from Caitanya-Bhagavata



ei sakala raksasa "brahmana" nama matra

ei saba loka yama-yatanara patra

kaliyuge raksasa-sakala vipra-ghare

janmiveka sujanera himsa karivare

e-saba viprera sparsa, katha namaskara

dharma-sastre sarvatha nisedha karivare


            All these demons are "brahmanas" in name only. All of them will be fin-

ished by the agents of the king of death, Yamaraja. In Kali-yuga, demons take

birth in the houses of brahmanas to harass saintly persons. All the dharma-

sastras forbid one to touch, hear from or offer obeisances to such materialistic

and demoniac brahmanas. (C.Bhag.. Adi 11.293-295)


The Smrti on how the Brahmana Caste was Debased


14.30 and 31

jatiratra maha-sarpa manusyatve maha-mate

sankarat sarva-varnanam duspariksyeti me matih

sarve sarvasva patyani janayanti sada narah

vanghaithunamatho janma maranan ca saman nrnam


            [Yudhisthira told Nahusa] O noble-minded and great serpent, it is very

difficult to ascertain one's caste because of promiscuity among the four orders.

This is my opinion. Men belonging to all castes beget offspring among women

of all the different castes. And among men of different caste the speech, sexual

intercourse, birth, and death have become are common to all. (Mahabharata,

Vana Parva 180.31-32)


The Opinion of the Truth-Loving Vedic Rsis



'na caitad-vidmo brahmanah smo vayam abrahmana veti'


            "We don't know whether we were brahmanas or non-brahmanas.

(Mahabharata, Vana Parva 179.33)


The Sruti, Smrti, Puranas, and Itihasas

on the Occupational Duties of Brahmanas



Brahma-ksatriya-vaisya-sudro iti catvaro varnas tesam varnanam brahmana

eva pradhana iti veda-vacananu-rupam smrtibhir apy uktam. Tatra codyam

asti ko va brahmano nama. Kim jivah kim dehah kim jatih kim jnanam kim

karma kim dharmika iti. Tatra prathmo jivo brahmana iti cettana,

atitanagatan eka dehanam jivasyaika-rupatvat ekasyapi karma-vasadan-eka-

deha sambhavat sarva sariranam jivasyaika-rupatvacca. Tasman na jivo

brahmana iti. Tarhi deho brahmana iti cettnna, acandaladi-paryantanam

manusyanam panca-bhautikatvena. Dehasyaika-rupatvaj-jara-marana

dharmadharmadi samya-darsanad brahmanah svetavarnah ksatriyo rakta-

varno vaisyah pita-varnah sudrah krsna-varna iti niyamabhavat. Pitradi-sarira

dahane putradinam brahma-hatyadi-dosa-sambhavacca tasman na deho

brahmana iti. Tarhi jati brahmana iti cenna. tatra jatyantarajantusu aneka-

jati-sambhava maharsayo bahavah santi. Esya-srogo mrgyah kausikah kusat

jambuko jambukat.Valmiko valmikat. Vyasah kaivartta-kanyayam.

Sasaprsthat gautama. Vasisthah urvasyam. Agastyah kalase jata iti srutatvat.

Etesam jatya vinapyagre jnana-prati-padita rsyo bahavah santi. Tasman na

jatih brahmana iti. Tarhi jnanam brahmana iti cettnna. Ksatriyadayo'pi

paramartha-darsino'bhijna bahavah santi. Tasmanha jnanam brahmana iti.

Tarhi karma brahmanah iti cettanna. Sarvesam praninam prarabdha-

sancitagami karma-sa dharmya-darsanat karmabhipreritah sant janah kriyah

kurvaniti. Tasman na karma brahmana iti. Tarhi dharmiko brahmana iti

cettnna. Ksatriyadayo hiranyadataro bahavah santi. Tasmanna dharmiko

brahmana iti. Tarhi ko va brahmano nama. Yah kascid-atmanam-advitiyam-

jati-guna-kriyahinam sadurmisad-bhavetyadi-sarva-dosa-rahitam satya-

jnananandanta-svarupam svayam nirvikalpam asesa-kalpadharam

asesabhutahtaryamitvena vartamanam antarbahis-cakasavadanu-syutama-

khandananda-svabhavam-aprameya manu bha vai kavedya paroksataya

basamanam karatalamalakavat saksad-aparoksi-krtya krtarthataya kama-

ragadi-dosa-rahitah sama damadi-sampanno ceta vartata, eva mukta-laksano

yah sa eva brahmana iti sruti-smrti-puranetihasanam-abhiprayah. Anyatha

hi brahmantva-siddhir nasty eva.


            The four varnas are: brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, and sudra. Among these,

the brahmanas are foremost. This is the verdict of the Vedas and the Smrti. In

these places the question is asked, "Who is a brahmana? On what basis is some-

one a brahmana? Among life (jiva), body (deha), birth (jati), knowledge (jnana),

work (karma), and duty (dharma) what is it that constitutes a brahmana?"

            The first question is: Since the jiva is part of Brahman, and alive, does that

make him a brahmana? No. It is incorrect to call any jiva a  brahmana. There

are countless jivas who have accepted innumerable material bodies according

to their karma and mentality, but they cannot all be called brahmanas).

            The next point is whether one's body (deha) makes one a brahmana. The

answer is no. The body of a candala as well as that of all other men are subject

to infirmity and death. It is only with respect to the way in which the mentalities

of different classes of men are colored by different conceptions of religion and

irreligion that brahmanas are called "white," (nveta-varna) ksatriyas "red," (rakta-

varna) vaisyas "yellow," (pita-varna) and sudra "black" (krsna varna). In this

way, it should be clearly understood that one is not a brahmana on the basis of

his body (deha). By burning up one's body one does not become free from the

sin of killing a brahmana; nor is that sin transferred to one's son. In the same

way one's brahminical status is not based on one's bodily condition, nor can

brahminical status be transferred simply by seminal discharge and the procre-

ation of children. Therefore it is concluded that the body (deha) does not make

one a brahmana.

            The next point is whether one becomes a brahmana by birth (jati). The

answer is no. In the midst of mixed ancestry have come great-souled rsis. The

Rsi Snrga took birth from a deer, and Kausika was born from straw, Jambhuka

rsi was raised by a jackal, and Valmiki came from an anthill. Vyasa was born

from a fisherman's daughter and the sage Gautama was born from a rabbit.

Vasistha was born from a dancing girl Urvasi. From a pitcher (in which semen

was stored) the sage Agastya took birth. There are many examples of great

saints who did not know in what circumstances they took birth. Therefore birth

does not make a brahmana.

            And what of jnana? Knowledge does not make a brahmana either. Many

ksatriyas are vastly experienced in knowing the supreme goal of life. Therefore

knowledge does not make a brahmana.

            What about fate? Karma does not make one a brahmana either. All living

beings have amassed karma from previous lives and have their karmic destinies

to live out in the future along with their karmas and dharmas. According to

one's karmic desires he is further implicated in karmic fate and continues to live

in the world of action and reaction. A "brahmana" is more than this, and there-

fore karma does not make one a brahmana.

            Then what about dharma, religion? Mundane piety does not make a

brahmana either. There are many examples of great ksatriyas who were highly

religious and gave much gold in charity, but they were not brahmanas.

            Then what is a brahmana? A brahmana is one who is absorbed only in the

Supreme Self. He is free from all mundane attributes of birth, work, and mater-

ialistic qualities, who is free from all faults. His very nature is that he takes

pleasure in the knowledge of the limitless Supreme Truth. A real brahmana is

completely absorbed in the infinite, limitless, absolute Supreme Person (present

within the heart of every living being as the Supersoul just as ether pervades

everything). That Supreme Lord is indivisible, and His very nature is divine

ecstasy. The infinite is not a mango that can be grasped through sense experi-

ence; neither can He be known, directly or indirectly, through mental specula-

tion.) Such a brahmana is free from faults such as lust, anger, greed, pride, illu-

sion, and envy. He has all twelve brahminical qualities beginning with peaceful-

ness and self-control (samo, dama, tapa, etc.). He is never envious and is free

from illusion and from any touch of pride and false ego. One who has these

qualities may be called a brahmana. This is the opinion of the Sruti, Smrti, Puranas

and Itihasas. No other endowments of perfection can confer brahminical status.

(Vajra-sucika Upanisad)


Evidence from the Mahabharata



sudre caitad-bhavel-laksma dvije tac ca na vidyate

na vai sudro bhavec-chudro brahmano na ca brahmanoh


            If it is seen that a sudra has the characteristics of a brahmana he should be

considered a brahmana. Similarly, if a brahmana has the characteristics of a

sudra he should be considered a sudra. (Mahabharata, Vana Purva 180.25)


Evidence From Srimad-Bhagavatam



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 caste, he should be

accepted according to those symptoms of classification. (Bhag. 7.11.35)


The Ancient commentator, Nilakantha, on the Conduct of Brahmanas



evanca satyadikam yadi sudro'pyasti tarhiso'pi brahmana eva syat sudra

laksmakadikam na brahmano'sti napi brahmana-

laksmasamadikam sudro'sti.

sudro'pi samadyupeto brahmana eva, brahmano'pi

kamadyupetah sudra eva


            In the same way if a sudra has qualities like truthfulness then he is a

brahmana. And if a brahmana does not show the qualities such as peaceful

nature which are appropriate for a brahmana, then he is a sudra. If a sudra has

qualities like equananimity then he is a brahmana. If a brahmana has qualities

like lust then he is a sudra. (Nilakantha commentary on Mahabharata, Vana

 Parva 180.23-26)


Sridhara Svami's Opinion



samadibhireva brahmanadi vyavaharo mukhyah na jatimatrat.

yad yadi anyatra varnantare'pi drsyeta, tad-varnastaram

tenaive laksmana-nimittenaivavarnena

vinirdiset, na tu jatinimitenetyarthah


            The qualities of a brahmana, beginning with peacefulness (samo, dama,

tapau, etc.) represent the chief characteristics or principle behavior of a

brahmana. On the other hand, birth is no qualification for brahminical status.

If one is seen to take birth in another varna, but has the qualifications of a

brahmana, his birth should be disregarded and he should be accepted as a                 

brahmana. One who is born a brahmana may be accepted as a brahmana if he

has the qualifications, but otherwise he should not. (Bhavartha-dipika commen-

tary on Srimad Bhagavatam 7.11.35)


Mahaprabhu's Definition of What is and Isn't a Brahmana



sahaje nirmala ei 'brahmana'-hrdaya

krsnera vasite ei yogya-sthana haya

'matsarya'-candala kene ihan vasaile

parama pavitra sthana apavitra kaile


            The heart of a brahmana is by nature very clean; therefore it is a proper

place for Krsna to sit. Why have you allowed envy to sit there? Because of this,

you have become like a candala, the lowest of men, and you have also con-

taminated a most purified place your heart. (Cc. Madhya 15.274-275)


The Evidence of the Smrti



etan me samsayam deva vada bhutapate'nagha

trayo varnah prakrtyeha katham brahmanyamapnuyuh

sthito brahmana-dharmena brahmanyam-upajivati

ksatriyo vatha vaisyo va brahma-bhuyam sa gacchati


            [Uma said] "O Siva, master of the bhutas. O sinless one, through what

kind of personal characteristics can the three classes of men ksatriya, vaisya,

and sudra become brahmanas? Is it possible for them to become brahmanas?

Please enlighten my doubts on this subject." Siva said, "If a ksatriya or vaisya is

established in brahminical behavior, and spends his whole life in brahminical

conduct, it is seen that such a person has attained brahminical status.

(Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva 14.3.5,8)


The Verdict of the Mahabharata on the Occupation of Bramanas


14.40 and 41


sampratanca mato me'si brahmano natra samsayah

brahmanah pataniyesu vartamano vikarmasu

yastu sudro dame satye dharme ca satatothitah

tam brahmanam aham manye vrttena hi bhaved-dvijah


            (The brahmana told the "hunter"), "In my opinion, you are a brahmana.

Of this there is no doubt. It is my consideration that the brahmana who is proud

and addicted to sin, who is full of vice and always engaged in evil and degraded

practices, is certainly a sudra. On the other hand, a sudra who is endowed with

the virtues of righteousness, self-restraint, and truthfulness is, in my opinion, a

brahmana. The only qualifications for brahminical status are truthful character

and saintly behavior. (Mahabharata, Vana Parva 215.13-15)


14.42 and 43


himsanrta-priya lubdhah sarva-karmopjivinah

krsna saucaparibhrasthaste dvijah sudratam gatah

sarva-bhaksyaratirnityam sarva-karmakaro 'sucih

tyakta-vedastvanacarah sa vai sudra iti smrtah


            Brahmanas who live a life of violence, lies, and greed, who are impure and

indulge in all kinds of karmic activity in order to maintain their lives are de -

graded to the status of sudras. Such a person, who eats anything and everything

without discrimination, who is attached to worldly things, who will accept any

occupation just to make money, who has given up Vedic dharma and proper

behaviour is called a sudra. (Mahabharata, Santi Parva 189.7)


The Smrti on the Occupational Behavior of Brahmanas



yatraital-laksyate sarpa vrttam sa brahmanah smrtah

yatraitan na bhavet sarpa tam sudramili nirdiset


            [Yudhisthira said] "O serpent, whoever has the characteristics of a brahmana

is said to be a brahmana. One who doesn't have the characteristics of a brahmana

is a sudra, even if he is "born" a brahmana. (Mahabharata, Vana Parva 180.26)


An Example of the Conduct of a Brahmana



tam hovaca kim gotro nu saumyasiti.

Sa hovaca nahametadveda bho yad-gotro 'ham asmi.

Aprccham mataram sa ma pratyabravid

bhahvaham caranti paricarini yauvane tvamalabhe.

Saham etat na veda yad-gotras-tvamasi.

Jabala tu nama ahamasmi, Satyakamo nama tvamasiti.

So'ham satyakamo Jabalo 'smi bho iti.

Tam hovaca naitadabrahmano vivaktum-arhati samidham

saumya ahara. Upa tva nesye. Na satyadaga iti.


            Gautama asked Satyakama, "My dear boy, what is your gotra?" The boy

said, "I do not know what my caste or family background is. I asked my mother,

and she said, 'When I was young, I wandered here and there and knew many

men. Then you were born. I knew so many men that I don't know who your

father is, or what your caste is. All I know is that my name is Jabmla and your

name is Satyakama (One who wants truth).' Therefore I am known as the

Satyakama of Jabmla, and do not know my caste".

            Gautama said, "My dear boy, you speak truthfully, and therefore you must

be a brahmana. No one but a brahmana could speak such an unpalatable truth.

O beautiful young boy, go and bring me wood for the sacrificial fire. I shall

initiate you as my disciple, for you never depart from the truth. (Chandogya

Upanisad 4.4.4, Gautama)



arjvavam brahmane saksat sudro'narjava-laksanah

gautamastv iti vijnaya satya-kamamupanayat


            Truthfulness is the symptom of a brahmana, whereas dishonesty is the

symptom of a sudra. Knowing this, Gautama Rsi initiated Satyakama as a

brahmana. (Chandogya Upanisad, Madhva-bhanya, Smma-samhita)


The Evidence of Vedanta-sutra and the Example of Citraratha



"sugasya tadanadara-sravanat sucyate hi"

nasau pautrayanah sudrah sucad-bravanam eva hi suda tvam

raja pautrayanah sokac-chudroti muninoditah prana-vidyam-avapyasmat

param dharma-vaptavan


            The following story is from the Chandogya Upanisad (Saavarga-vidya 4):

There was a great king named Janasruti Pautrayara, who was famous for his

good works. Two rsis wanted to create a desire for spiritual knowledge in his

heart and they took the form of swans to accomplish this. One of them praised

the king while the other contemptously accused him of lacking spiritual knowl-

edge. The swan then praised the sage Raikva for being very learned. Upon

hearing this the king was smitten with grief and approached the sage Raikva

with presents seeking spiritual knowledge from him. Raikva twice addressed

the king sudra. "O Sudra, you have brought all these presents, and now you

want me to instruct you?" Thereafter, Raikva taught him the spiritual science.

            The Brahma-sutra says: "Raikva addressed Janasruti Pautrayana as sudra

because Pautrayana was overwhelmed with sorrow." The use of the word sudra

in this verse does not mean that Janasruti was a sudra at birth, but that he was

lamenting. The purport is that those who are overwhelmed by lamentation are

known as sudras. It is written in the Padma-Purana that King Pautrayana was a

ksatriya and that because of his lamentation, Raikva Muni called him a sudra.

[The word sudra, therefore, means "one who laments."] Later, Pautrayana gained

knowledge of the ultimate goal of life and the supreme religion from Raikva.

(Brahma-sutra 1.3.34)


Madhvacarya's Commentary, Quoting from Padma-Purana



"ksatriyatvavagates ca uttaratra caitra-rathena lingat" bhasye:

"ayam asvatariratha iti citraratha samvandhinitvena lingena

pautrayanasya ksatriyatvavagates ca rathastvasvatariyuktascitra

ityabhidhiyate iti brahme yatra vedo rathas tatra na vedo yatra no ratha iti

ca brahma-vaivarte"


            The Brahma-sutra says: "That Janasruti was ksatriya and not a sudra is

understood from the rest of the story, where he is described along with a ksatriya,

Abhipratmrin, who was a Caitra-ratha." [Because Janasruti was a ksatriya and

not a sudra by quality, he was fit for hearing spiritual knowledge from Raikva

Muni, who would not have instructed him if he actuallly was a sudra. The pur-

pose of Raikva Muni's calling him a sudra was simply to illustrate that constant

lamentation is the quality of a sudra, and that if he were to instruct Janasruti,

the king would have to rid himself of the tendency toward lamentation. That

Raikva did instruct Janasruti is proof that the king freed himself from the ten-

dency, and was not a sudra, but was qualified to study the Vedas. Those who

have the qualities of sudras are forbidden to study the Vedas because they will

pervert the meaning of the Vedas.] The whole point is that one may know a

person's varna from his qualities. (Brahma-sutra 1.3.35 and commentary)


Members of Other Castes who Became Brahmanas



nabhaga-distaputro dvau vaisyau brahmanatam gatau


            Nabhaga and Disthaputra were two vaisyas who attained the status of

brahmanas. (Hari-vaasa 11)



evam vipratvamagamadvitahavyo naradhipah

bhrgoh prasadad rajendra ksatriyah ksatriyarsabha

tasya grtsamadah putro rupenendra ivaparah

sa brahmacari virprarsih sriman grtsamado 'bhavam

putro grtsamadasyapi sucetabhavat-dvijah

varcah sutejasah putro vihavyastasya catmajah

vihavasya tu putrastu vita-tasya catmajah

vitatasya sutah satyah santah satyas sya catmajah

sravastasya sutascarsih sravasascabhavattamah

tamasas ca prakaso 'bhuttanayo dvijasattamah

prakasasya ca vagindro babhuva jayatam barah

tasyatmajas ca pramitirveda-vedangaparanga

ghrtacyam tasya putrastu rururnamodapadyata

pramadvarayasta ruroh putrah samupadyata

sunako nama viprarsiryasya putro'tha saunakah


            [Bhinma] explained how King Vitahavya became a brahmana: "O King

Rajendra, best of the ksatriyas, Vitahavya was a ksatriya, but by the grace

of Bhrgu Muni, he became a brahmana. His son, Gntsamada, who was inferior to

none save Indra, was a brahmacari and a learned Rsi. Gntsamada's son, Suceta,

was a learned brahmana. Suceta's son was Varcah, and his son was Vitatya,

whose son was Vagindra. His son was Santa, his son was Rsisrava, his son was

Tama. Tama's son, was the best of brahmanas, Prakasa, whose son was Vagindra,

the foremost of all reciters of the Vedic mantras. Vagindra had a son whose

name was Pramati. Pramati was a master of all the Vedas and their branches.

Pramati begot in the womb of the apsara, Ghntmci, a son named Ruru, who had

a son by his wife, Pramadvara. Ruru's son was the venerable rsi, Sunaka. The

son of Sunaka was the great sage Saunaka (who heard Bhagavatam from Suta

Gosvami at Naimisararya).

            In this way, O best of kings, the great king Vitahavya, a ksatriya, attained

the status of a brahmana by the mercy of Bhrgu, and by dint of his sons and

decendants becoming great brahmanas. (Mahabharata, Anusasana, 30.66, 58,



Examples from Bhagavatam on Brahminical Conduct



yaviyamsa ekasitir jayanteyah pitur adesakara 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 cultured, well-behaved, pure in their activities, ex-

pert in Vedic knowledge and the performance of Vedic rituals. (Bhag. 5.4.13)



puror vamsam pravaksyami yatra jato 'si bharata

yatra rajarsayo vamsya brahma-vamsyas ca jajnire


            [Sukadeva Gosvami said] O Maharaja Pariksit, descendent of Maharaja

Bharata, I shall now describe the dynasty of Puru, in which you were born, in

which many saintly kings appeared, and from which many dynasties of brahmanas

began. (Bhag. 9.20.1)



kasyah kuso grtsamada iti grtsamadad abhut

sunakah saunako yasya bahvrca-pravaro munih


            Ksatravnddha's son was Suhotra, who had three sons, named Kasya, Kusa,

and Grtsamada. From Gntsamada came Sunaka, and from him came Saunaka,

the great saint, the best of those conversant with the Rg Veda. (Bhag. 9.17.3)


The Words of Brahma From the Padma-Purana



sac-chrotriya-kule jato akriyo naiva pujitah

asat-kstrakule pujyo vyasa-vaibhandukay yatha

ksatriyanam kule jato visvamitro'sti matsamah

vesyaputro Vasisthas ca anye siddha dvijatayah

yasya tasya kule jato gunavaneva tairgunaih

saksad brahmanayo viprah pujiyah prayatnatah


            [Lord Brahma said] If one is born in a family of brahmanas who are ab-

sorbed in hearing divine sound, but has bad character and behaviour, he is not

worshipable as a brahmana. On the other hand, Vyasa and Vaibhandaka Muni

were born in unclean circumstances, but they are worshipable. In the same way,

Visvamitra Muni was born a ksatriya, but he became equal to me by his quali-

ties and activities. Vasistha was born as a son of a prostitute. Many other great

souls who manifested the qualities of first-class brahmanas also took birth in

similar humble circumstances, but they are also called perfect. The place where

one takes birth is of no importance in determining whether one is a brahmana.

Those who have the qualities of brahmanas are recognized everywhere as

brahmanas, and those who have such qualities are worshipable by everyone.

(Padma Purana, Snnthi-Khanda 43.321,322 Gautamiya-samskarana)


The Seminal Brahmanas of Kali-yuga are Impure



asuddhah sudra-kalpa hi brahmanah kali-sambhavah

tesam agama-margena suddhir na srota-vartmana


            The brahmanas born in the age of Kali are merely sudras. Their so-called

Vedic path of karma is polluted and cannot purify them. They can only be puri-

fied by following the path of the aganas or pancaratrika-viddhi. (Hari-bhakti-

vilasa 5.5, from Visnu Yamala)


What is Diksa?



divyam jnanam yato dadyat kuryat papasya samksayam

tasmad-dikseti sa prokta desikais tattva-kovidaih


            The process by which divine knowledge (divya jnana) is given and sins are

destroyed is called diksa by the highly learned scholars who are expert in spiri-

tual affairs. (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 2.9, from Visnu Yamala)


Diksa can Make a Common man a Brahmana



yatha kancanatam yati kamsyam rasa-vidhanatah

tatha-diksa-vidhanena dvijatvam jayate nrnam


            Just as bell metal is transformed into gold by alchemy, a common man is

transformed into a twice-born brahmana by diksa from a bona find spiritual

master. (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 2.12, from Tattva Smgara)



nrnam sarvesam eva dvijatvam "viprata"


            The purport is that anyone can become twice-born if he is properly initi-

ated. (Sanatana Gosvami's Dig Darsini commentary on the above verse)


The Guru Initiates the Humble Disciple



svayam brahmani niksaptan jatan eva hi mantratah

vinitanatha putradin samskrtya pratibhodhayet


            When the guru gives the mantra to his disciple according to the rules and

regulations of pancaratrika-viddhi, then, by the influence of that mantra, the

disciple never takes birth again. A humble disciple conducts himself with great

respect for his spiritual master as if he is a son of the guru. To such a humble

disciple, who has been purified by the appropriate samskaras, the guru teaches

the meaning of the mantra. This is the way that spiritual initiation is performed

according to the rules and regulations of scripture. (Narada Pascaratra,

Bharadvaja-samhita 2.34)


The Evidence of Mahabharata



etaih karma-phalair-devi nyuna-jati-kulodbhavah

sudro'py agama-sampanno dvijo bhavati samskrtah


            O goddess, even a sudra can be purified though carefully following the

proper conduct of a brahmana as prescribed in the Pancaratra. Thus he is purfied

of karmic reactions and by accepting initiation from a bona fide spiritual master

he becomes a brahmana. (Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva 143.46)



na yonir napi samskaro na srutam na ca santatih

karanani dvijatvasya vrttam eva tu karanam


            Neither birth, nor purificatory rites (samskaras), nor learning, nor offspring

are qualifications for brahminical status. Only brahminical conduct is the basis

for brahminical status. (Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva 143.50)



sarvo'yam brahmano loke vrttena tu vidiyate

vrtte sthitastu sudro'pi brahmanatvam niyacchati


            All genuine brahmanas in the world are brahmanas by virtue of their con-

duct. A sudra who is established in good conduct is regarded as having attained

the status of a brahmana. (Mahabharata, Anusasana Parva 143.51)


The Conclusion of the Gosvamis



brahmana-kumaranam saukre janmani durjatitvabhavo'pi savana-yogy-

atvaya punya-visesamaya savitra-janma-sapeksatvat. Tatasca adiksitasya

svadasya. svadasya savana yogyatva-pratikula-durjatyaramakam

prarabdhamapi gatam eva, kintu sisthacarabhavat adiksitasya svadasya

diksam vina savitryam janma nastiti brahamana-kumaranam savana-

yogyatva bhavavacchedaka punya visesamaya-savitra janmapeksavadasya

adiksitasya svadasya savitrya-janmantaropekso vartata iti bhavah


            [This is a quotation from Jiva Gosvami's commentary on a verse of Bhakti-

rasamrta-sindhu, Purva Vibhaga 1.13, which Rupa Gosvami quotes from Srimad

Bhagavatam (3.33.6).]

             The Bhagavatam verse and its purport by Srila Prabhupada is given as

follows: "To say nothing of the spiritual advancement of persons who see the

Supreme Person face to face, even a person born in a family of dog-eaters im-

mediately becomes eligible to perform Vedic sacrifices if he once utters the

name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead or chants about Him, hears about

His pastimes, offers Him obeisances or even remembers Him.


Purport: Herein the spritual potency of chanting, hearing or remember-

ing the holy name of the Supreme Lord is greatly stressed. Rupa

Gosvami has discussed the sequence of sinful activities of the condi-

tioned soul, and he has established, in Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, that those

who engage in devotional service become freed from the reactions of all

sinful activities. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gita. The Lord says

that He takes charge of one who surrenders to Him and makes him

immune to all reactions to sinful activities.

            If by chanting the holy name of the Supreme Personality of

Godhead one becomes so swiftly cleared of all reactions to sinful activi-

ties, then what is to be said of those persons who see Him face to face?

Another consideration here is that persons who are purified by the pro-

cess of chanting and hearing become immediately eligible to perform

Vedic sacrifices. Generally, only a person who is born in a family of

brahmanas, who has been reformed by the ten kinds of purificatory pro-

cesses and who is learned in Vedic literature is allowed to perform

the Vedic sacrifices, but here the word sadyau, "immediately," is used.

            Sridhara Svami also remarks that one can immediately be eligible

to perform Vedic sacrifices. A person born in a family of the low caste

which is accustomed to eating dogs is so positioned due to his past sinful

activites, but by chanting or hearing once in pureness, or in a offenseless

manner, he is immediately relieved of the sinful reaction. Not only is he

relieved of the sinful reaction, but he immediately achieves the result of

all purificatory processes. Taking birth in the family of a brahmana is

certainly due to pious activities in one's past life, but still a child who is

born in a brahmana family depends on his further reformation upon

initiation, acceptance of a sacred thread, and many other reformatory


             But a person who chants the holy name of the Lord, even if born

in family of candalas, dog-eaters, does not need reformation. Simply by

chanting Hare Krsna, he immediately becomes purified and becomes as

good as the most learned brahmana. Sridhara Svami especially remarks

in this connection, anena pujyatavam laksyate. Some caste brahmanas

remark that by chanting Hare Krsna, purification begins. Of course, that

depends on the individual process of chanting, but this remark of Sridhara

Svami's is completely applicable if one chants the holy name of the

Lord without offense for he immediately becomes more than a

brahmana. As Sridhara Svami says, pujyatvam: he immediately becomes

as respectable as a most learned brahmana and can be allowed to per-

form Vedic sacrifices.

            If simply by changing the holy name of the Lord one becomes

sanctified instantly, then what can be said of those persons who see the

Supreme Lord face to face and who can understand the descent of the

Lord as Devahuti understands Kapiladeva. Usually, initiation depends

on the bona fide spiritual master, who directs the disciple. If he sees that

a disciple has become competent and purified by the process of chant-

ing, he offers the sacred thread to the disciple just so that he will be

recognized as one-hundred-percent equal with a brahmana. This is also

confimed in the Hari-bhakti-vilasa by Sri Sanatana Gosvami:

            "As base metal can be changed into gold by a chemical process,

any person can similarly be changed into a brahmana by diksm-vidhana,

the initiation process." It is sometimes remarked that by the chanting

process one begins to purify himself and can take birth in his next life in

a brahmana family and then be reformed.

            But at this present moment, even those who are born in the best

brahmana families are not reformed, nor is there any certainty that they

are actually born of brahmana fathers. Formerly the garbhadhana re-

formatory system was prevalent, but at the present moment there is no

such garbhadhana, or seed-giving ceremony. Under these circumstances,

no one knows if a man if factually born of a brahmana father. Whether

one has acquired the qualification of a brahmana depends on the judge-

ment of the bona fide spiritual master. He bestows upon the disciple the

position of a brahmana by his own judgement. When one is accepted as

a brahmana in the sacred thread ceremony, under the pancaratrika sys-

tem, then he is dvija, twice-born. That is confimed by Sanatana Gosvami:

dvijatvam jayate. By the process of initiation, a person is accepted as a

brahmana in his purified state of chanting the holy name of the Lord.

He then makes further progress to become a qualified Vaisnava, which

means that the brahminical qualification is already acquired.


            The import of the above commentary by Jiva Gosvami on this verse

summarized as follows by Bhakti Hrdaya vana Maharaja in his translation of

Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu (which Srila Prabhupada at one time authorized us to

read in a letter to Yamuna Dasi in 1968):

            "According to Sri Jiva Gosvami, though this rudimentary bhakti

in a born candala will remove the effects of his past misdeeds, yet he

must wait for the next birth in a higher social status to qualify himself

for the performance of the Vedic sacrifices. [Srila Jiva Gosvaai says

that just as one who is born a brahmana must wait to be purified though

the sacred thread ceremony in order to perform sacrifice, in the same

way, one who has chanted the holy name is eligible to perform Vedic

sacrifice, but must wait to take birth as a brahmana in order to actually

perform Vedic sacrifice.]


            Jiva Gosvami, it is obvious, is reluctant to disturb the social order and tries

to conform, as far as possible to the extant practices and ideas of the Hindu

society of his time. Visvanatha Cakravarti, however, considers Jiva Gosvami's

view to give away the whole case for the quality of prarabdha-pmpaharatva [power

of deliverance from sin] that is claimed for bhakti. Visvanatha's view is that

bhakti, however slight, will at once remove all taints from the fallen human

being and qualify him for the highest social duties of the Hindus. This is rather

a controversial problem. The question is between 'eligibility' and ' capability'.

Jiva Gosvami here argues that a brahmana born in a higher social order be-

cause of good deeds in previous births is eligible to perform Vedic rituals; while

even a candala born in the lowest social order owing to his misdeeds in previous

births, becomes fully capable of performing such Vedic rituals when his prarabdha

is wiped out by singing and listening to the name of the Lord in the stage of

practice of bhakti."

            But, as even a person born in a brahmana family has to wait till his sacred

thread ceremony before he can actuallly perform such Vedic rituals in spite of

his eligibility, so a devotee born in a candala family, is cleansed of his sins com-

mitted in previous births by practising the rudiments of bhakti and becomes

eligble to perform Vedic rites, but he does not do this as he is not interested in

the fruits of Vedic karma."



tad evam diksatah parastad eva tasya dhruvasyeva

dvijitva-samskarasta-davadhi-tatvattattan-mantradhi devaj-jatah


            As soon a Lord Brahma was initiated by the gayatri mantra he was twice

born. After this, the mantra sprang forth from the lotus mouth of that foremost

of the demigods and he began to chant the gayatri [by which all subsequent

brahmanas are initiated.](Brahma-samhita 5.27, Jiva Gosvami's commentary)


Three kinds of Birth Seminal, Brahminical, and Mantra-diksa



maturagre'dhi-jananam dvitiyam maunjibandhane

trtiyam yajna-diksayam dvijasya sruti-codanat


            The sruti states that a brahmana gets his first birth from his mother (saukra-

janma, seminal birth). He gets his second birth by receiving the sacred thread

(smvitra-janma), and finally he gets his third birth by yajna-diksa (ceremonial

initiation at a fire sacrifice). (Manu-samhita 2.169)


Sridhara Svami's Remarks on the Three Kinds of Birth



trivrt sotram savitram daiksamiti trigunitam janma


            [In this verse from Srimad Bhagavatam (10.23.39), dhig janma

nastrivnd..."To hell with our threefold birth as brahmanas!] The word tnvnt means

the threefold births saukra-janma, purity of heredity and family, smvitra-janma,

investiture with the sacred thread and initiation into the gayatri-mantra, and

daiksa-janma (consecration for Vedic sacrifices). (Sridhara Svami, Bhavartha-

dipika 10.23.39)


Who has Done the Forty-eight Kinds of Samskaras is a Brahmana



"yasyaite'stha catvarimsat samskarah sa brahmanah"


            One who has performed the forty-eight kinds of samskaras is a brahmana.

1. garbhadhana impregnation

2. pumsavana causing the birth of a male child

3. simantonnayana parting of the hair

4. jata-karma the duties after the birth of a child

5. nama-karara naming ceremony

6. niskramana taking the child out of the room for the first time

7. anna-prasana eating grains

8. kararavedha piercing ears

9. caudakarma shaving the head

10. upanayana sacred thread

11. samavartane completing education

12. vivaha marriage

13. antyesti funeral

14. deva yajna sacrifice to the gods

15. pitr yajna sacrifice to manes

16. bhuta yajna sacrifice to living beings.

17. nara yajna sacrifice to human beings

18. atithi yajna treating the guests

19-41. deva-vrata catunthaya, anthaka-sraddha, pmrvara-sraddha, sravani,

agrayari, praunthapadi, caitra, cmturmasya, niruda pasubandha, sautramari,

agninthoma, atyagninthoma, uktha, nodani, vajpeya, atiratra, aptoryama,

rajasuya names of various sacrifices

42-45. agnyadheyam, agnihotram, darsa-paurnamasya, agrayarenti.

46. sauca cleanliness

47. anayasa-mangalacara The auspicious acts done without endeavor.

48. akarparya asprha freedom from miserliness and desire.

(Mahabharata, Santi Parva 189.2)


The One Branch and the Many Branches



yad apy uktam garbhadhanadi-dahanta-samskarantara-sevanad bhagavata

nama-brahmanyam-itih tatrapy-ajnanam-evaparadhyati, na

punarayusmato dosah; yadete vamsa-paramparaya bajasaneya-sakha-

madhiyanah katyayanadi-grhyokta-margena garbhadhanadi-samskaran

kurvate, ye punah sarvatranuvacana-prabhrti trayi-dharma-tyagena

ekayana-sruti-vihitaneva catvarimsat samskaran kurvate te'pi svasakha

grhyoktam-artham yathadanutisthamanah na sakhantariya-

karmanusthanad-brahmanyat pracyavante, anyesamapi parasakha-vihita-



            [In the Agama-Pramanya, Yamunacarya establishes the Pramanya, or au-

thority, of the Pancaratrika scriptures (agama, tantra, sastra) in defense against

the community of smarta brahmanas who were at the time challenging the au-

thority of the Pancaratra traditions as being non-Vedic. Because Yamunacarya's

credibility as a Vedic brahmana could not be challenged, he was in a strong

position to mount a defense of Pancaratrika traditions.

            According to Yamunacarya, the class of qualified brahmanas included those

Deity worshipers who were not professional, but who worshiped only for their

own benefit and the benefit of others, and who performed forty samskaras or

purificatory practices based on the ancient Vajasaneya or Sukla Yajur Veda as

an alternative to the traditional Vedic practices. The ritualistic priests, or smarta-

brahmanas, who were Yamunacarya's enemies claimed that the practice of these

alternate samskaras were non-Vedic, and therefore unholy. They accused

Yamunacarya of deceit by trying to base the system of samskaras on the lost

Vedic scriptures. The acarya's arguments on this point were difficult for the

smartas to defeat, however, since the practice of referring to lost Vedic scrip-

tures was invented by the smartas themselves to justify their own non-Vedic

practices and give them a "Vedic" basis. Even the strictest smarta brahmana

has to admit that there are injunctions and rituals in the dharma-sastras for

which there are no known Vedic injunctions, but for which a Vedic basis must be


            In light of this, smarta brahmanas have often appealed to the lost Vedic

scriptures (such as the single original Veda which Vyasadeva divided into three

parts) in order to justify the practices and rules of corollary Vedic literatures

such as the Manu-samhita, which forms much of the basis for smarta ritual.

While the smartas attempt to discredit the idea that their own arguments can be

used against them to establish Vedic support for Pancaratrika practice,

Yamunacarya's arguments cannot be defeated without also destroying the basis

for smarta ritual.

            Yamunacarya says: It has been said that the bhagavatas are polluted, be-

cause they have given up the Vedic samskaras, and have accepted an alternative

system of purifactory rituals, beginning with the garbhadhana-samskara and

ending with the funeral ceremony. My opponents have argued that the verdict

of the scripture concerning offenders is clear on this point. In answer to this, I

must say, in the words of Ayunman, that there is no fault in my opponents; the

only fault is with their ignorance, because the forty purificatory rituals of

samskaras practiced by the Bhagavatas have descended from the "one Veda,"

the Ekayana Sakha, or the "one branch" of the Sukla Yajur Veda, beginning

with the Katyayana, which includes scriptural injuctions about the prescribed

religious ceremonies to be performed at birth, marriage, and so on.

            This process has descended through an ancient and unbroken family tradi-

tion in different brahminical families who for many generations have followed

all these purifcatory practices, beginning with the garbhadhana and other

samskaras. In fact, those who perform these forty samskaras cannot be consid-

ered unbrahminical for failing to follow the samskaras as they are mentioned in

the three Vedas. They do not fall from brahminical status simply for favoring

the ancient and more traditional samskaras mentioned in the One Veda

(Ekayana-sruti) over those recommended in the three Vedas.             

            These devotee brahmanas are simply following carefully the ancient tradition

of the one Veda and cannot be faulted for not following another branch of the

Vedas. If it were the case that a brahmana who follows the rules of one branch

of the Vedas is not "Vedic" and loses his caste for not following the rules of

another branch of the Vedas, then all brahmanas would lose their caste, be-

cause different systems of rules governing rituals are found in different

parts of the Vedas. (And it is not possible to follow all of them, since by following the

rules of one system one will violate the rules of other systems). (Sri Yamunacarya,



Vaisnavas are not Sudras



na sudra bhagavad-bhaktaste tu bhagavata matah

sarva-varnesu te sudra ye na bhakta janardane


            One who is a paragon of devotion to the Supreme Personality of Godhead

can never be called a sudra; rather he is glorified as a Bhagavata, or one who is

connected with Bhagavan. On the other hand, those who are antagonistic to

bhakti are considered to be sudras, no matter what caste they are born in. (Hari-

bhakti-vilasa, 10.165)


Except for Paramahamsas, Devotees Worship

in Varnasrama and Accept the Sacred Thread



bahih sutram tyajed-vidvan yogam uttamam asthitah

brahma-bhava-mayam sutram dharayed yah sa cetanah


            Established in the state of the highest yoga, the wise should reject the ex-

ternal sacred thread. One who is really self-conscious must put on the thread

constituted by awareness of spiritual reality. (Brahmopanisad 28)


The Sacred Thread Worn by Those who are Brahmanas

in Name Only is the Ugly Conceit of the Proud



brahma-tattvam na janati brahma-sutrena garvitah

tenaiva sa ca papena viprah pasurudahrtah


            A so-called brahmana who has no spiritual knowledge, but who, out of

pride, wears the thread of a brahmana is certainly only a sinful impostor who is

no better than a two-legged animal. (Atri Samhita 372)


Real Brahmanas



yatha kasthamayo hasti yatha carma-mayo mrgah

yas ca vipro'nadhiyanas trayaste nama vibhrati


            Just as an elephant made of wood is an elephant in name only, and a deer

made of leather is a deer in name only, similarly a brahmana who is devoid of

Vedic knowlege is a brahmana in name only. (Manu-samhita 2.157)


Giving the Sacred Thread to Those not on the

Vedic Path is Forbidden



yo'nadhitya dvijo vedam anyatra kurute sramam

sa jivan eva sudratvam asu gaccati sanvayah


            A brahmana who without studying the Vedas who labors for other things-

 material wealth, position, adoration, and other opulences, becomes sudra along

with all his family members. (Manu-samhita 2.168)


14.81 - 84

viprah samskara-yukto na nityam sandhyadi-karma yah

naimitikastu no kuryat brahmana-bruva ucyate

yuktah syat sarva-samskarair-dvijastu niyama-vrataih

karma kincit na kurute vedoktam brahmana bruvah garbhadhanadibhir

yuktas tathopanayanena ca

na karma-krt na cadhite sa jneyo brahmana-bruvah

adhyapayati no sisyan nadhite vedam uttamam

garbhadhanadi-samskarair yutah syad brahmana-bruvah


            A"brahmana" who has failed to perform any of the ten kinds of samskaras,

who fails to regularly perform the duties of a brahmana, beginning with sandhya,

vandya, etc., is a brahmana in name only (brahmana-bruva). Such a "brahmana"

fails to follow any rules or vows, nor does he perform the ceremonial purificatory

rituals mentioned in the Vedas. He has not been properly purified either by

garbadhana-samskara or by the sacred thread ceremony, and neither does he

study the Vedas. Such a worthless, so-called brahmana does not study the best

of Vedic scriptures, nor does he teach them to his so-called disciples.

(Padma Purana)



kulluka-bhatta-tika yo brahmanah kriya-rahita

atmanam brahmanam braviti, sa brahmana-bruvah


            According to the commentary of Kulluka Bhatta, one who is devoid of

proper behavior of a brahmana, and yet represents himself as a brahmana is a

brahmana in name only. (Manu-samhita 7.58)



atapas-tvanadhiyanah pratigraha-rucir-dvijah

ambhasy-asma-plavenaiva saha tenaiva majjati


            A brahmana devoid of austerity, who has not studied the Vedas, and yet

accepts charity as a brahmana is condemned. Such brahmanas are like a stone

raft both themsleves and those who give them charity are doomed to go down

in the ocean of hellish material existence. (Manu-samhita 4.190)


The Consequences for the Brahmanas in Name Only



alingo lingivesena yo-vrttim-upajivati

sa linginam haratyenas-tiryag yonau cajayate


            When one unfit to wear the sacred thread of a brahmana wears it

earns his livelihood through sinful and unholy behaviour, such a person incurs

sin and takes birth in sub-human wombs. (Manu-samhita 4.200)


Students and Pracitioners of Professional

Brahmanism are Condemned



bhrtak-adhyapako yas ca bhrtak-adhyapitas-tatha

sudra-sisyo gurus caiva vag dustah kunda-golokau


            One who teaches the Vedas by accepting salary, one who studies by giving

salary, disciple of a sudra, guru of a sudra, one who speaks nonsense and bas-

tards should be avoided. (Manu-samhita 3.156)


Demigod Worship and Other Unbrahminical Activities



api cacaratas-tesam abrahmanyam pratiyate

vrttito devata-puja-diksa-naivedya-bhaksanam


srautakriya' nanusthanam dvijaih sambandha-varjanam

 ity-adibhiranacarair-abrahmanyam sunirnayam


            Professional temple priests, who perform ritual worship of demigods in

order to maintain their livelihood and who accept non-Vedic tantric initiations

to do so find that their puja, their diksa, their sacrificial offerings, and their

offerings of foodstuffs are all unclean and unbrahminical. The results of their

so-called samskaras, beginning with the garbhadhana-samskara, are burned to

ashes. In order to correct themselves they must again undergo all the samskaras

mentioned in the scriptures. Their study of the sruti is without any positon;

having given up their connection with the genuine communtiy of twice-born

brahmanas, their worship is void and unbrahminical, and their association is

polluting to true brahmanas. (Sri Yamunacarya, Agama Pramanya, discussion

of Satvata Sastra)


Demigod Worship by Brahmanas is Condemned



devakosopajivi yah sa devalaka ucyate

vrttyartham pujayed-devam trini varsani yo dvijah

sa vai devaloko nama sarva-karmasu garhitah


            One who worships the demigods in order to increase his material wealth is

called a "devala." Any brahmana who worships the demigods for three years is

considered to be a devala. All his work is condemned from beginning to end.

(Sri Yamunacarya, Agama Pramanya)



esam vamsakrama deva devarca vrttito bhavet

tesam adhyayane yajne yajane nasti yogyata


            Whoever worships the demigods on the basis of his family tradition his

study of the Vedas, his yajna, and his worship have no connection with proper

brahminical conduct. (Sri Yamunacarya, Agama Pramanya)


Demigod Worship is Damned



apadyapi ca kasthayam bhito va durgato'pi va

pujayenaiva vrttyartam deva-devam kadacana


            One should not engage in demigod worship, in which one must suffer pain,

trouble, fear, danger, and difficulty. (Sri Yamunacarya, Agama Pramanya)


Spiritual Brahmanism



ya etad aksaram gargi viditvasmal-lokat praiti sa brahmanah


            O Gargi, one who is acquainted with that infallible truth by which one

transcends death is a brahmana. (Brhad-Aranyaka 3.9.10)



tam eva dhiro vijnaya prajnam kurvita brahmanah


            A wise person who knows the Supreme Lord, Parabrahman, through the

process of devotion, is a brahmana. (Brhad-Aranyaka 4.4.21)


Who is a Brahmana?


14.95 and 96

jata-karmadibhir-yastu samkaraih samskrtah sucih

vedadhyayana-sampannah sad sat karmasvasthitah

saucacarasthitah samyag vighasasi gurupriyah

nityabrali satyaparah sa vai brahmana ucyate


            [Bharadvaja Muni said, "O best of the twice-born, rsi among the brahmanas,

best of the orators of Vedic knowledge, kindly instruct us in the differences

between brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas, and sudras." Bhrgu Muni replied]:

            One whose birth and subsequent works have all been purified by the ap-

propriate samskaras, who has the qualities of purity and cleanliness, who is

devoted to Vedic study, who performs worship of the Supreme Lord, Visnu, and

who instructs others in that worship, who is a paragon of the six activities of a

brahmana, whose behaviour is never impure, who eats the remnants of his guru's

prasada, who is dear to the guru, who always carefully follows his vows, and

who is fixed in the truth is known as a brahmana. (Bharadvaja Muni)


A Vaisnava is the Best of all and the Guru of Everyone



visnor ayam yato hyasit tasmad-vaisnava ucyate

sarvesam caiva varnanam vaisnavah sresthah ucyate


            One who is related to Visnu through devotion is known as a Vaisnava.

A genuine Vaisnava is superior to all the varnas and is the best of all. (Padma

Purana, Uttara Khanda 39)


A Vaisnava from a Candala Family is Worshipable by Brahmanas



urdha pundram mrjum saumyam sacihnam dharayed yati

sa candalo'pi suddhatma pujya eva sada dvijaih


            A candala who is a pure Vaisnava at heart and who decorates the eleven

parts of his body with visnu-tilaka and sandalwood paste is always worshipable,

even by the best of brahmanas. (Padma Purana, Uttatra Khanda 66.84)


14.99 and 100

sakrt pranami krsnasya matuh stanyam pibenna hi

haripade mano yesam tebhyo nityam namo namah

pukkasah svapaco vapi ye canye mleccha-jatayah

te'pi vandya mahabhaga haripadaika-sevakah


            One who even once completely gives up false ego and offers obeisances to

the lotus feet of Krsna will never have to take birth again. One who keeps the

holy feet of Hari within his mind is always worthy of worship. Whether one is a

pukkasau, a dog-eater, or a mleccha, if he takes shelter of the lotus feet of Sri

Hari with pure devotion, and serves Him with attachment, is to be considered

most fortunate and highly worshipable. (Padma Purana, Svarga Khanda, 50.10)


Vaisnavas are Infallible



sarvatraskhalitadesah sapta-dvipaika-danda-dhrk

anyatra brahmana-kulad anyatracyuta-gotratah


            Maharaja Pnthu was an unrivalled king who had the scepter for ruling all

seven islands on the surface of the globe. No one could disobey his irrevocable

orders except for the saintly persons, the brahmanas, and the decendants of the

Supreme Personality of Godhead (the Vaisnavas). (Bhag. 4.21.12)


The Difference Between a Devotee

who is Low-Born and an Expert Brahmana




na me priyas caturvedi mad-bhaktah svapacah priyah

tasmai deyam tato grahyam sa ca pujy yatha hyayam


            A brahmana who is expert in studying all four Vedas is not dear to Me.

But a devotee who comes from a family of candalas is dear to Me. He should be

offered gifts and one should accept gifts from him. He is as worhipable as I am.

(Hari-bhakti-vilasa 10.127)


One who Takes the Holy Name of Krsna, has Performed Austerity, Sacrifice,

Holy Baths, and Vedic Study, and is Saved




aho bata sva-paco 'to gariyan yaj-jihvagre vartate nama tubhyam

tepus tapas te juhuvuh sasnur arya brahmanucur nama grnanti ye te


            O Lord, how glorious are they whose tongues always chant Your holy name!

Even if born in a family of dog-eaters, such persons are worshipable. Those

who chant Your holy name must have performed all kinds of austerities and

sacrifices. They must have achieved all the good qualities of the Aryans. They

must have bathed at all the holy places, studied the Vedas, and fulfilled all to

chant the Vedas and perform yajna. (Bhag. 3.33.7)


The Behavior of Advaita Prabhu Instructs

that a Vaisnava is the Guru of the Brahmanas



acarya kahena, "tumi na kariha bhaya

sei acariba, yei sastra-mata haya

tumi khaile haya koti-brahmana-bhojana"

eta bali, sraddha-patra karaila bhojana


            [After Advaita Acarya offered Haridasa Thakura the sraddha-patra, which

is usually offered to a worshipable brahmana, Haridasa Thakura was surprised.

Reassuring him] Advaita Acarya replied, "My dear Haridasa, do not be afraid,

I shall behave strictly according to the principles of the revealed scriptures.

Feeding you is equal to feeding ten million brahmanas. Therefore, accept this

sraddha-patra." Thus Advaita Acarya made him eat. (Cc. Antya 3.221-222)


A Vaisnava is the Guru for Millions of Brahmanas



brahmananam sahasrebhyah satrayaji visisyate

satra-yaji sahasrebhyah sarva-vedanta-paragah

sarva-vedanta-vit-kotya visnu-bhakto visisyate

vaisnavanam sahasrebhya ekanty eko visisyate


            Among many thousands of brahmanas, a yajnika brahmana is best. Amount

thousands of yajnika brahmanas, one who fully knows Vedanta is best. Among

millions of  knowers of Vedanta, one who is a devotee of Visnu is best. And

among thousands of devotees of Visnu, one who is an unalloyed Vaisnava is

best. (Bhakti-sandarbha 177)


Thus ends the Fourteenth Jewel of the Gaudiya-Kanthahara, entitled Varnadharma-tattva


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