Different devotees serve according
to their natures:
is established by activities not by birth rite - Jati Gosai and Smarta
The Lineage & Nature of Brahmanas
Samashrayanam - Pancharatriki diksha - Pancha samskara diksha - upanayanam - initiation
Panch samskara initiation in Iskcon:
The Brahma-Madhwa-Gaudiya Guru-parampara - Whos Who:
See some of our traditional brahmin friends HERE: and our Iskcon brahmin friends HERE:
How to make a brahmin thread
Changing brahmin threads
Brahmin initiation is not a cheap thing, and not necessarily for everyone..........:
HH Romapad maharaj talks on brahminical culture:
Everything you wanted to know about Iskcon's guru-disciple structure:
dékñä, prätaù-småti-kåtya, çauca, äcamana
mantra-adhikäré—qualification for receiving mantra initiation; mantra-siddhi-ädi—the perfection of the mantra and so on; çodhana—purification; dékñä—initiation; prätaù-småti-kåtya—morning duties and remembrance of the Supreme Lord; çauca—cleanliness; äcamana—washing the mouth and other parts of the body.
“You should discuss the qualifications necessary for receiving a mantra, the perfection of the mantra, the purification of the mantra, initiation, morning duties, remembrance of the Supreme Lord, cleanliness and washing the mouth and other parts of the body.
The following injunction is given in the Hari-bhakti-viläsa (1.194) regarding mantra-adhikäré, the qualification for receiving mantra initiation:
täntrikeñu ca mantreñu
dékñäyäà yoñitäm api
sädhvénäm adhikäro ’sti çüdrädénäà ca sad-dhiyäm
“Çüdras and women who are chaste and sincerely interested in understanding the Absolute Truth are qualified to be initiated with the päïcarätrika-mantras.” This is confirmed by Lord Kåñëa in the Bhagavad-gétä (9.32):
mäà hi pärtha vyapäçritya
ye ’pi syuù päpa-yonayaù
striyo vaiçyäs tathä çüdräs te ’pi yänti paräà gatià
“O son of Påthä, those
who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth—women, vaiçyas
[merchants] and çüdras [workers]—can attain the supreme destination.”
If one actually wants to serve Kåñëa, it doesn’t matter whether one is a çüdra, vaiçya or even a woman. If one is sincerely eager to chant the Hare Kåñëa mantra or dékñä-mantra, one is qualified to be initiated according to the päïcarätrika process. However, according to Vedic principles, only a brähmaëa who is fully engaged in his occupational duties can be initiated. Çüdras and women are not admitted to a vaidika initiation. Unless one is fit according to the estimation of the spiritual master, one cannot accept a mantra from the päïcarätrika-vidhi or the vaidika-vidhi. When one is fit to accept the mantra, one is initiated by the päïcarätrika-vidhi or the vaidika-vidhi. In any case, the result is the same.
Regarding mantra-siddhy-ädi-çodhana, the efficacy of the mantra, Çréla Bhaktisiddhänta Sarasvaté Öhäkura gives sixteen divisions, which are confirmed in the Hari-bhakti-viläsa (beginning with 1.204):
kramäj jïeyo vicakñaëaiù
These are (1) siddha, (2) sädhya, (3) susiddha and (4) ari. These four principles can be divided further: (1) siddha-siddha, (2) siddha-sädhya, (3) siddha-susiddha, (4) siddha-ari, (5) sädhya-siddha, (6) sädhya-sädhya, (7) sädhya-susiddha, (8) sädhya-ari, (9) susiddha-siddha, (10) susiddha-sädhya, (11) susiddha-susiddha, (12) susiddha-ari, (13) ari-siddha, (14) ari-sädhya, (15) ari-susiddha, and (16) ari-ari.
Those who are initiated with the eighteen-syllable mantra do not need to consider the above-mentioned sixteen divisions. As enjoined in the Hari-bhakti-viläsa (1.215, 219, 220):
na cätra çätravä
åkña-räçi-vicäro vä na kartavyo manau priye
nätra cintyo ’ri-çuddhyädir näri-miträdi-lakñaëam
siddha-sädhya-susiddhäri-rüpä nätra vicäraëä
There is çodhana, or purification of the mantra, but there is no such consideration for the Kåñëa mantra. Balitvät kåñëa-manträëäà saàskäräpekñaëaà na hi: “The Kåñëa mantra is so strong that there is no question of çodhana.” (Hari-bhakti-viläsa 1.235)
As far as dékñä is concerned, one should consult Madhya-lélä 15.108. On the whole, when a person is initiated according to the päïcarätrika-vidhi, he has already attained the position of a brähmaëa. This is enjoined in the Hari-bhakti-viläsa (2.12):
yäti käàsyaà rasa-vidhänataù
tathä dékñä-vidhänena dvijatvaà jäyate nåëäm
“As bell metal can be turned into gold when treated with mercury, a disciple initiated by a bona fide guru immediately attains the position of a brähmaëa.”
As far as the time of dékñä (initiation) is concerned, everything depends on the position of the guru. As soon as a bona fide guru is received by chance or by a program, one should immediately take the opportunity to receive initiation. In the book called Tattva-sägara, it is stated:
ca sakåt-saìga upasthite
tad-anujïä yadä labdhä sa dékñävasaro mahän
gräme vä yadi väraëye kñetre vä divase niçi
ägacchati gurur daiväd yathä dékñä tad-äjïayä
yadaivecchä tadä dékñä guror äjïänurüpataù
na térthaà na vrataà hemo na snänaà na japa-kriyä
dékñäyäù karaëaà kintu svecchä-präpte tu sad-gurau
“If by chance one gets a sad-guru, it doesn’t matter whether one is in the temple or the forest. If the sad-guru, the bona fide spiritual master, agrees, one can be initiated immediately, without waiting for a suitable time or place.”
Concerning prätaù-småti, remembrance of the Lord in the morning, in the early morning hours (known as brähma-muhürta) one should get up and immediately chant the Hare Kåñëa mantra, or at least “Kåñëa, Kåñëa, Kåñëa.” In this way, one should remember Kåñëa. Some çlokas or prayers should also be chanted. By chanting, one immediately becomes auspicious and transcendental to the infection of material qualities. Actually one has to chant and remember Lord Kåñëa twenty-four hours daily, or as much as possible:
viñëur vismartavyo na jätucit
sarve vidhi-niñedhäù syur etayor eva kiìkaräù
“Kåñëa is the origin
of Lord Viñëu. He should always be remembered and never forgotten
at any time. All the rules and prohibitions mentioned in the çästras
should be the servants of these two principles.” This is a quotation from
the Padma Puräëa, from the portion called Båhat-sahasra-näma-stotra.
The word prätaù-kåtya in the present verse of the Caitanya-caritämåta means that one should evacuate regularly in the morning and then cleanse himself by taking a bath. One has to gargle (äcamana) and brush his teeth (danta-dhävana). He should do this either with twigs or a toothbrush—whatever is available. This will purify the mouth. Then one should take his bath. Actually householders and vänaprasthas should bathe two times a day (prätar-madhyähnayoù snänaà vänaprastha-gåhasthayoù). A sannyäsé should bathe three times daily, and a brahmacäré may take only one bath a day. Whenever one is not able to bathe in water, he can bathe by chanting the Hare Kåñëa mantra. One also has to perform his sandhyädi-vandana—that is, one has to chant his Gäyatré mantra three times daily—morning, noon and evening.
Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya-lila 24:331 purport.
Who may worship Shilas?
is the criterion:
Sincere eagerness to chant the holy name is the main qualification to be initiated according to the päïcarätrika process:
The following injunction is given in the Hari-bhakti-viläsa (1.194):
täntrikeñu ca mant
dékñäyäà yoñitäm api
sädhvénäm adhikäro ’sti
çüdrädénäà ca sad-dhiyäm
“Çüdras and women who
are chaste and sincerely interested in understanding the Absolute Truth
are qualified to be initiated with the päïcarätrika-mantras.”
This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gétä (9.32):
mäà hi pärtha vyapäçr
ye ’pi syuù päpa-yonayaù
striyo vaiçyäs tathä çüdräs
te ’pi yänti paräà gatim
“O son of Påthä, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth—women, vaiçyas [merchants], as well as çüdras [workers]—can approach the supreme destination.”
If one actually wants to serve Kåñëa,
it doesn’t maner whether one is a çüdra, vaiçya, or
even a woman. If one is sincerely eager to chant the Hare Kåñëa
mantra or dékñä-mantra, he is qualified to be initiated
according to the päïcarätrika process. According to Vedic
principles, only a brähmaëa who is fully engaged in his occupational
duties can be initiated. Çüdras and women are not admitted
to a vaidika initiation. Unless one is fit according to the estimation
of the spiritual master, one cannot accept a mantra from the päïcarätrika-vidhi
or the vaidika-vidhi. When one is fit to accept the mantra, he is initiated
by the päïcarätrika-vidhi or the vaidika-vidhi.
In any case, the result is the same.
kià janmabhis tribhir veha
karmabhir vä trayé-proktaiù
puàso ’pi vibudhäyuñä
kim—what is the use; janmabhiù—of births; tribhiù—three; vä—or; iha—in this world; çaukra—by semen; sävitra—by initiation; yäjïikaiù—by becoming a perfect brähmaëa; karmabhiù—by activities; vä—or; trayé—in the Vedas; proktaiù—instructed; puàsaù—of a human being; api—even; vibudha—of the demigods; äyuñä—with a duration of life.
A civilized human being has three kinds of births. The first birth is by a pure father and mother, and this birth is called birth by semen. The next birth takes place when one is initiated by the spiritual master, and this birth is called sävitra. The third birth, called yäjïika, takes place when one is given the opportunity to worship Lord Viñëu. Despite the opportunities for attaining such births, even if one gets the life-span of a demigod, if one does not actually engage in the service of the Lord, everything is useless. Similarly, one’s activities may be mundane or spiritual, but they are useless if they are not meant for satisfying the Lord.
PURPORT by HDG Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta
The word çaukra janma means “taking birth by seminal discharge.” Animals can take their birth in this way too. However, a human being can be reformed from the çaukra janma, as recommended in the Vedic civilization. Before the birth takes place, or before father and mother unite, there is a ceremony called garbhädhäna-saàskära, which must be adopted. This garbhädhäna-saàskära is especially recommended for higher castes, especially the brähmaëa caste. It is said in the çästras that if the garbhädhäna-saàskära is not practiced among the higher castes, the entire family becomes çüdra. It is also stated that in this age of Kali, everyone is çüdra due to the absence of the garbhädhäna-saàskära. This is the Vedic system. According to the päïcarätrika system, however, even though everyone is a çüdra due to the absence of the garbhädhäna-saàskära, if a person has but a little tendency to become Kåñëa conscious, he should be given the chance to elevate himself to the transcendental platform of devotional service. Our Kåñëa consciousness movement adopts this päïcarätrika-vidhi, as advised by Çréla Sanätana Gosvämé, who says:
dvijatvaà jäyate nåëäm
“As bell metal, when mixed with mercury, is transformed to gold, a person, even though not golden pure, can be transformed into a brähmaëa, or dvija, simply by the initiation process.” (Hari-bhakti-viläsa 2.12) Thus if one is initiated by a proper person, he can be accepted as twice-born immediately. In our Kåñëa consciousness movement, we therefore offer the student his first initiation and allow him to chant the Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra. By chanting the Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra regularly and following the regulative principles, one becomes qualified to be initiated as a brähmaëa, because unless one is a qualified brähmaëa he cannot be allowed to worship Lord Viñëu. This is called yäjïika janma. In our Kåñëa consciousness society, unless one is twice initiated—first by chanting Hare Kåñëa and second by the Gäyatré mantra—he is not allowed to enter the kitchen or Deity room to execute duties. However, when one is elevated to the platform on which he can worship the Deity, his previous birth does not matter.
caëòälo ’pi dvija-çreñöho
dvijo ’pi çvapacädhamaù
“Even if one is born in the family of a caëòäla, if one engages in the devotional service of the Lord, he becomes the best of brähmaëas. But even a brähmaëa who is devoid of devotional service is on the level of the lowest dog-eater.” If a person is advanced in devotional service, it does not matter whether he was born in a caëòäla family. He becomes purified. As Çré Prahläda Mahäräja said:
pädäravinda-vimukhäc chvapacaà variñöham
Even if one is a brähmaëa and is qualified with all the brahminical qualifications, he is considered degraded if he is averse to worshiping the Supreme Personality of Godhead. But if a person is attached to the service of the Lord, he becomes glorified even if he is born in a caëòäla family. Indeed, such a caëòäla can deliver not only himself but all his family predecessors. Without devotional service, even a proud brähmaëa cannot deliver himself, and what to speak of his family. In many instances in the çästras it is seen that even a brähmaëa has become a kñatriya, vaiçya, çüdra, mleccha or non-brähmaëa. And there are many instances of one’s being born a kñatriya or vaiçya or even lower and, in the eighteenth year, attaining elevation to the brahminical platform by the process of initiation. Therefore Närada Muni says:
yasya yal lakñaëaà
yad anyaträpi dåçyeta
tat tenaiva vinirdiçet
It is not a fact that because one is born in a brähmaëa family he is automatically a brähmaëa. He has a better chance to become a brähmaëa, but unless he meets all the brahminical qualifications, he cannot be accepted as such. On the other hand, if the brahminical qualifications are found in the person of a çüdra, he should immediately be accepted as a brähmaëa. To substantiate this there are many quotations from Bhägavatam, Mahäbhärata, Bharadväja-saàhitä and the païcarätra, as well as many other scriptures.
As far as the duration of life of the demigods, concerning Lord Brahmä it is said:
ahar yad brahmaëo viduù
te ’ho-rätra-vido janäù
The duration of one day of Brahmä is one thousand times greater than the four yugas, aggregating 4,320,000 years. Similarly, Brahmä’s one night. Brahmä lives for one hundred years of such days and nights. The word vibudhäyuñä indicates that even if one gets a long life-span, his life-span is useless if he is not a devotee. A living entity is the eternal servitor of the Supreme Lord, and unless he comes to the platform of devotional service, his life-span, good birth, glorious activities and everything else are null and void. (Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srimad Bhagavatam 2:31:10. purport)
"The whole problem is they are not following the regulative principles, that I can detect. Without this, enthusiasm will be lacking. Even mechanically following, and if he gets gradually understanding from the class, he will come to the point of spontaneous enthusiasm. This spontaneous loving devotional service is not so easy matter, but if one simply sticks strictly to the rules and regulations, like rising early, chanting 16 rounds, chanting gayatri, keeping always clean--then his enthusiasm will grow more and more, and if there is also patience and determination, one day he will come to the platform of spontaneous devotion, then his life will be perfect. All of this I have told you in Nectar of Devotion. So I do not think the leaders are themselves following, nor they are seeing the others are following strictly. That must be rectified at once. Each centre remain independent, that's all right, but the president and other officers must themselves follow and see the others are following the regulative principles carefully, and giving them good instruction so they may understand nicely why this tapasya is necessary." (Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Letter to Karandhara 22nd December 1972. excerpt)
yato dadyät kuryät päpasya saìkñayam
tasmät dékñeti sä proktä deçikais tattva-kovidaiù
"Dékñä is the process by which one can awaken his transcendental knowledge and vanquish all reactions caused by sinful activity. A person expert in the study of the revealed scriptures knows this process as dékñä." The regulative principles of dékñä are explained in the Hari-bhakti-viläsa (2.3-4) and the Bhakti-sandarbha (283). As stated:
yathädhikäro nästéha syäc copanayanäd anu
tathäträdékñitänäà tu mantra-devärcanädiñu
nädhikäro 'sty ataù kuryäd ätmänaà çiva-saàstutam
"Even though born in a brähmaëa family, one cannot engage in Vedic rituals without being initiated and having a sacred thread. Although born in a brähmaëa family, one becomes a brähmaëa only after initiation and the sacred thread ceremony. Unless one is initiated as a brähmaëa, one cannot worship the holy name properly."
According to the Vaiñëava regulative principles, one must be initiated as a brähmaëa. The Hari-bhakti-viläsa (2.6) quotes the following injunction from the Viñëu-yämala:
kåtaà sarvaà nirarthakam
paçu-yonim aväpnoti dékñä-virahito janaù
"'Unless one is initiated by a bona fide spiritual master, all his devotional activities are useless. A person who is not properly initiated can descend again into the animal species.'"
Hari-bhakti-viläsa (2.10) further quotes:
ato guruà praëamyaivaà
sarva-svaà vinivedya ca
gåhëéyäd vaiñëavaà mantraà dékñä-pürvaà vidhänataù
"'It is the duty of every human being to surrender to a bona fide spiritual master. Giving him everything-body, mind and intelligence-one must take Vaiñëava initiation from him.'"
The Bhakti-sandarbha (298) gives the following quotation from the Tattva-sägara:
yäti käàsyaà rasa-vidhänataù
tathä dékñä-vidhänena dvijatvaà jäyate nåëäm
"'By chemical manipulation, bell metal is turned into gold when touched by mercury; similarly, when a person is properly initiated, he can acquire the qualities of a brähmaëa.'"
The Hari-bhakti-viläsa (17.11-12), in discussing the puraçcaryä process, quotes the following verses from the Agastya-saàhitä:
nityaà japas tarpaëam eva ca
homo brähmaëa-bhuktiç ca puraçcaraëam ucyate
guror labdhasya mantrasya prasädena yathä-vidhi
païcäìgopäsanä-siddhyai puraç caitad vidhéyate
"'In the morning, afternoon and evening one should recite sandhya-vandanam (Gayatri), worship the Deity, chant the Hare Kåñëa mantra, offer oblations, perform a fire sacrifice and feed the brähmaëas. These five activities constitute puraçcaryä. To attain full success when taking initiation from the spiritual master, one should first perform these puraçcaryä processes.'"
The word puraù means "before," and charyä means "activities." Due to the necessity of these activities, we do not immediately initiate disciples in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. For six months, a candidate for initiation must first attend ärati and classes in the çästras, practice the regulative principles and associate with other devotees. When one is actually advanced in the puraçcaryä-vidhi, he is recommended by the local temple president for initiation. It is not that anyone can be suddenly initiated without meeting the requirements. When one is further advanced by chanting the Hare Kåñëa mantra sixteen rounds daily, following the regulative principles and attending classes, he receives the sacred thread (brahminical recognition) after the second six months.
In the Hari-bhakti-viläsa (17.4-5, 7) it is stated:
vinä yena na siddhaù
syän mantro varña-çatair api
kåtena yena labhate sädhako väïchitaà phalam
puraçcaraëa-sampanno mantro hi phala-dhäyakaù
ataù purañkriyäà kuryät mantra-vit siddhi-kaìkñayä
purañkriyä hi manträëäà pradhänaà véryam ucyate
vérya-héno yathä dehé sarva-karmasu na kñamaù
puraçcaraëa-héno hi tathä mantraù prakértitaù
"Without performing the puraçcharyä activities, one cannot become perfect even by chanting this mantra for hundreds of years. But one who has undergone the puraçcharyä-vidhi process can attain success very easily. If one wishes to perfect his initiation, he must first undergo the puraçcaryä activities. The puraçcharyä process is the life force by which one is successful in chanting the mantra. Without the life force, one cannot do anything; similarly, without the life force of puraçcharyä-vidhi, no mantra can be perfected."
In his Bhakti-sandarbha (283-84), Çréla Jéva Gosvämé describes the importance of Deity worship and initiation (dékñä) as follows:
tad vinäpi çaraëäpattyädénäm ekatareëäpi
çré-bhagavatä saha sambandha-viçeñaà
cikérñadbhiù kåtäyäà dékñäyäm
arcanam avaçyaà kriyetaiva.
yadyapi svarüpato nästi,
tathäpi präyaù svabhävato
vikñipta-cittänäà janänäà tat-tat-saìkocé-karaëäya
kvacit kvacit käcit käcin maryädä sthäpitästi.
"It is Çrémad-Bhägavatam's opinion that the process of Deity worship is not actually necessary, just as the specific prescriptions of the Païcharätra and other scriptures do not have to be followed. The Bhägavatam enjoins that even without practicing Deity worship one can achieve the complete success of human life by any of the other devotional processes, such as simply offering oneself at the Lord's feet for His protection. Nonetheless, Vaiñëavas following the path of Çré Närada and his successors endeavor to establish a personal relationship with the Lord by receiving the grace of a bona fide spiritual master through initiation, and in this tradition the devotees are obliged at the time of initiation to begin engaging in Deity worship.
"Although Deity worship is not essential, the material conditioning of most candidates for devotional service requires that they engage in this activity. When we consider their bodily and mental conditions, we find that the character of such candidates is impure and their minds are agitated. Therefore, to rectify this material conditioning the great sage Närada and others have at different times recommended various kinds of regulations for Deity worship."
Similarly, the Rämärcana-candrikä states:
viprendra puraçcaryäà vinaiva hi
vinaiva nyäsa-vidhinä japa-mätreëa siddhi-dä
"O best of the brähmaëas, even without initiation, preliminary purification or acceptance of the renounced order, one can attain perfection in devotional service simply by chanting the Lord's holy name."
In other words, the chanting of the Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra is so powerful that it does not depend on official initiation, but if one is initiated and engages in païcarätra-vidhi (Deity worship), his Kåñëa consciousness will awaken very soon, and his identification with the material world will be vanquished. The more one is freed from material identification, the more one can realize that the spirit soul is qualitatively as good as the Supreme Soul. At such a time, when one is situated on the absolute platform, one can understand that the holy name of the Lord and the Lord Himself are identical. At that stage of realization, the holy name of the Lord, the Hare Kåñëa mantra, cannot be identified with any material sound. If one accepts the Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra as a material vibration, he falls down. One should worship and chant the holy name of the Lord by accepting it as the Lord Himself. One should therefore be initiated properly according to revealed scriptures under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master. Although chanting the holy name is good for both the conditioned and liberated soul, it is especially beneficial to the conditioned soul because by chanting it one is liberated.
============ REF. Chaitanya Charitamrita Madhya 15.108
By chanting the Hare Kåñëa mahä-mantra regularly and following the regulative principles, one becomes qualified to be initiated as a brähmaëa, because unless one is a qualified brähmaëa he cannot be allowed to worship Lord Viñëu. This is called yäjïika janma. In our Kåñëa consciousness society, unless one is twice initiated-first by chanting Hare Kåñëa and second by the Gäyatré mantra-he is not allowed to enter the kitchen or Deity room to execute duties. However, when one is elevated to the platform on which he can worship the Deity, his previous birth does not matter.
============ REF. Srimad Bhagavatam 4.31.10
A brähmaëa gåhastha may earn his livelihood by becoming a learned scholar and teaching people in general how to worship the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He may also assume the duty of worship himself. Therefore it is said that only brähmaëas may engage in Deity worship, and they may accept as prasäda whatever people offer the Deity.
============ REF. Srimad Bhagavatam 6.5.36
RTW 4.1: The Fundamental Question Evades the Erudite Scholar.
In the First Canto of Çrémad-Bhägavatam, in the very first verse of the first chapter, the highest truth has been propounded in these words:
janmädy asya yato ’nvayäd
itarataç cärtheñv abhijïaù svaräö
tene brahma hådä ya ädi-kavaye muhyanti yat sürayaù
tejo-väri-mådäà yathä vinimayo yatra tri-sargo ’måñä
I meditate upon Lord Çré Kåñëa because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance, and destruction of the manifested universes. He is directly and indirectly conscious of all manifestations, and He is independent because there is no other cause beyond Him. It is He only who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto the heart of Brahmäjé, the original living being. By Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion, as one is bewildered by the illusory representations of water seen in fire, or land seen on water. Only because of Him do the material universes, temporarily manifested by the reactions of the three modes of nature, appear factual, although they are unreal. I therefore meditate upon Him, Lord Çré Kåñëa, who is eternally existent in the transcendental abode, which is forever free from the illusory representations of the material world. I meditate upon Him, for He is the Absolute Truth.
After defining the Absolute Truth and expanding upon it in the Vedas, Puräëas, and vast corollary literatures, Çréla Vyäsadeva still felt discontented. His spiritual master, Devarñi Närada, finding his disciple so dejected, inspired him to go inwards, into in deep meditation. In that state he perceived the highest Absolute Truth, who is free from the slightest illusion. The verse quoted above reflects Çréla Vyäsadeva’s spiritual perception. Närada instructed his disciple to reveal the nature of the Supreme Lord’s transcendental name, form, qualities, pastimes, paraphernalia, and associates. The result of Çréla Vyäsadeva’s efforts is the spotless Puräëa, Çrémad-Bhägavatam.
Çréla Vyäsadeva went to Badarikäçrama, and in the nearby place called Çamyäpräsa, went into samädhi and saw the Supreme Personality of Godhead. He also saw mäyä, the divine potency of the Lord that deludes the conditioned souls. In this realized consciousness Çréla Vyäsadeva described the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, as fully independent and transcendental. This implies that there is no one superior to Him or equal to Him. In the material world Lord Brahmä is accepted as the highest personality among the living entities. But even Lord Brahmä, who is described here as the ädi-kavi, the original intelligent being, is subservient to the fully independent Supreme Lord. Indeed, it was the Supreme Lord who first imparted the Vedic knowledge unto Lord Brahmä.
What to speak of the ordinary mortals, even great sages and powerful demigods become totally bewildered in their efforts to know the Supreme Lord. The purport of the word dhémahi—“I meditate upon”—is that only those who have perfected the chanting of the Gäyatré mantra can understand the supremely independent Lord. Who is eligible to chant the Gäyatré mantra? Those who are controlled by the modes of ignorance and passion can never chant the Gäyatré mantra, what to speak of attaining perfection in chanting it. Only those who possess the qualities of a brähmaëa and are situated in the mode of goodness are eligible to chant the Gäyatré mantra. Gradually, by constant chanting, they come to realize Parabrahman (the Supreme Brahman), or the Absolute Truth. Only then can they perceive the Supreme Personality of Godhead, along with His transcendental name, form, qualities, pastimes, and paraphernalia, as well as the Vaikuëöha planets and the Lord of the Vaikuëöha planets, Näräyaëa. And when one develops a taste for engaging properly in the Lord’s transcendental service and realizes the sublime mellows of devotion, one can see Lord Väsudeva, Kåñëa.
Mundane philosophers who try to attain
the Supreme through the ascending process of knowledge can never achieve
their goal. The only result of such an attempt, which naturally confuses
them, is that they become rooted to the misunderstanding that man is God
and vice versa, thus clearing their way to hell. A few among them may have
a moment’s glimpse of transcendence, but end up concluding everything backwards.
They fall prey to the erroneous impersonal principle.
To refute this impersonal conception of the Absolute, the previously quoted verse from Çrémad-Bhägavatam unequivocally states that the Absolute Truth is a person.
This transcendental personality is so powerful that He could impart the knowledge of the Vedas even to Lord Brahmä, who then went on to create the material universe. Lord Brahmä did not receive this extraordinary Vedic knowledge after creation but before he began the work of creation.The knowledge that existed before the mundane nature came into being is transcendental and is known as saàvit. The Viñëu Puräëa delves into the subjects of sandhiné, saàvit, and hlädiné, the Lord’s potencies of existence, knowledge, and pleasure. All together, these are known as the Lord’s internal potency, or spiritual potency. The Çrémad-Bhägavatam also discusses the subject of the Lord’s internal potency. This superior potency is quite different form the Lord’s inferior, external potency, which is qualified by the three material modes. An example of the Lord’s superior, spiritual potency is the jévas. One who can understand that the jévas are a product of the Lord’s internal potency, not His external potency, can immediately grasp the difference between these two potencies.
Delusion is the perverted image of reality and is the hallmark of mäyä, the Lord’s external energy. This delusion is totally absent in His internal, spiritual potency. The jéva is a product of the Lord’s superior, transcendental energy, but he becomes deluded into identifying his body as his self. Once this ignorance is dissipated, he can immediately understand the actual nature of the body. Illusion is possible on the mundane plane but never in the spiritual energy.
The variety visible in material nature is due to the influence of the Lord’s spiritual energy. In other words, material nature is but a perverted reflection of spiritual energy. For example, sunlight is ever-existing, but when sunlight is reflected on water, there comes into being a new source of light that must accept the cycle of creation, maintenance, and annihilation. The original sun, of course, is not bound by such changes. This practical analogy helps us understand that the spiritual nature is transcendental to creation, maintenance, and annihilation, whereas the perverted reflection of the spiritual energy—the material nature—is bound by these three conditions. The material nature is illusory: sometimes it is there, and at other times it is not. When this illusory, temporary existence of “there and not there” is totally removed and in its place are manifested the name, form, qualities, associates, paraphernalia, and abode of the Lord, one is on the platform of satyaà param, the Absolute Truth, who is described here as nirasta-kuhakam, “forever free from the illusory representation of the material world.”
The jéva has been referred to as the Lord’s marginal potency. The jéva is unpredictable: sometimes he is under the material energy’s control, and at other times under the spiritual energy’s shelter. But the supreme, infallible Lord never comes under the sway of any of His energies: He forever remains the absolute autocrat, the master of all energies, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Väsudeva. All energies emanate from Him, and thus He is the supreme energetic principle. When the two words sva-räö (“independent”) and param (“supreme”) are used to describe an entity, then He must be the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the eternal cause of all causes. That the Supreme Lord never comes under the influence of mäyä is confirmed elsewhere in the Çrémad-Bhägavatam (1.11.38):
etad éçanam éçasya
prakåti-stho ’pi tad-guëaiù
na yujyate sadätma-sthair
yathä buddhis tad-äçrayä
This is the divinity of the Personality of Godhead: He is not affected by the qualities of material nature, even though He is in contact with them. Similarly, the devotees who have taken shelter of the Lord do not become influenced by the material qualities.
It is the Supreme Lord’s special prerogative to descend to this material world and remain unaffected by it and detached from it. And like Him, His pure devotees also remain unattracted by the glare of the phenomenal world. As the Supreme Lord is eternal, liberated, and pure, so are His devotees, whatever situation they may be in. This can easily be understood through a simple example: technological advancement has added things like cinemas to the material attractions nature already has to offer, and yet, strangely, these illusory enticements have failed to attract genuine saints and hermits even to this day. And although we do see that some so-called modern saints and mendicants are addicted to cannabis and tobacco, even they are repulsed by many other modern sensual distractions. If the illusory material world holds little or no attraction for the Lord’s devotees, how much less must the Lord Himself be attracted to it! Therefore, although out of ignorance one might claim that mere mortals are God, that does not change the reality—that man is always man and God is always God, and never otherwise.
Once one of the brahmacärés of our äçrama met Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, who is a spiritualist of sorts and an erudite scholar. Dr. Radhakrishnan is the vice-president of India as I write this essay. On meeting him, our brahmacäré received from him a copy of his Bhagavad-gétä as a gift. Dr. Radhakrishnan had translated this Gétä into English and written a commentary on it, and it sold well in the market for ten rupees in those days .
The brahmacäré read the book and came to us a little dissatisfied, though the book itself was deeply esoteric. The reason for his dissatisfaction was that Dr. Radhakrishnan’s writing lacked spiritual insight: in many places he had mishandled and misinterpreted the text, and thus he had made his book unacceptable to spiritualists in the line of pure devotion. This is a perfect example of the Çrémad-Bhägavatam’s statement (1.1.1) that “by Him even the great sages and demigods are placed into illusion” (muhyanti yat sürayaù). When the Lord so easily bewilders Lord Brahmä, Lord Çiva, Lord Indra, and other great universal controllers, it is not at all surprising that Dr. Radhakrishnan is placed into illusion.
The brahmacäré was especially shocked and hurt by Dr. Radhakrishnan’s misinterpretation of Text 34 of Chapter 9, which appears in his book on page 254. He came to us very depressed, wanting to discuss this passage. The following words were found in the book:
It is not the personal Kåñëa to whom we have to give ourselves up utterly but the Unborn, Beginningless, Eternal who speaks through Kåñëa.
We have not the slightest intention of confronting a world-famous philosopher like Dr. Radhakrishnan with arguments, yet on the brahmacäré’s repeated request we have to scrutinize the text and point out the discrepancies. We have great respect for Dr. Radhakrishnan, not only because he is the vice-president of our country but also because of his scholarship and his position as an erudite master of Hindu philosophy. Furthermore, he is faithful to the brahminical tradition he hails from and is a follower of the Mäyäväda school. Going by the oft-quoted dictum that it is better to have a learned enemy than a foolish friend, I feel encouraged in this matter. An intelligent opponent will present reasonable rebuttals, but an ignorant friend may bring about disaster with his floundering. Therefore we feel no compunction about strongly arguing against the points Dr. Radhakrishnan makes in his Bhagavad-gétä commentary.
A well-known Bengali saying goes, “After reading the whole Rämäyaëa, you want to know whose father Sétä is?” This question is ludicrous, since Sétä is Lord Räma’s wife, and thus such a query will naturally invite quips and laughter. We find the same absurdity in Dr. Radhakrishnan’s English commentary on the Gétä. He writes that we do not have to surrender to the person Kåñëa but to “the Unborn, Beginningless, Eternal” within Kåñëa. This implies that Lord Kåñëa and His “inner self” are two separate identities. According to Dr. Radhakrishnan, since there is a difference between Kåñëa’s body and His soul, we must surrender to Kåñëa’s soul and not His body. This new discovery in the field of religious philosophy reminds us of the “paëòita” of the Rämäyaëa referred to above. Lord Çré Kåñëa’s sole purpose in speaking the Bhagavad-gétä is to convince us to surrender to His lotus feet. Yet right at the outset Dr. Radhakrishnan is unwilling to accept this point. Lord Kåñëa gives the central instruction in the Bhagavad-gétä (18.66):
mäm ekaà çaraëaà vraja
ahaà tväà sarva-päpebhyo
mokñayiñyämi mä çucaù
Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.
Lord Kåñëa spoke these words to Arjuna so that he would surrender to Him. The Sanskrit word çaraëam in this Gétä text means “surrender.” On page 62 of his “Introductory Essay”, Dr. Radhakrishnan has also discussed the idea of surrender in some detail. He writes,
Prapatti [surrender] has the following accessories—good will to all (änukülyasya saìkalpaù); (ii) absence of ill will (prätikülyasya varjanam); (iii) faith that the Lord will protect (rakñiñyatéti viçväsaù); (iv) resort to Him as savior (gopåtve varanam); (v) a sense of utter helplessness (kärpaëyam); (vi) complete surrender (ätma-nikñepaù).”
These six limbs of surrender should be followed in relation to Kåñëa, or Viñëu, because this instruction on the process of surrender appears in a Vaiñëava scripture. Dr. Radhakrishnan has translated the first limb (änukülyasya saìkalpaù) as “good will to all.” Question: Is it possible to surrender to everyone? Surrender should be directed toward the Supreme Lord alone. Dr. Radhakrishnan’s proposal is impractical, and indeed impossible. Long before Dr. Radhakrishnan wrote his commentary, many realized spiritual preceptors, including the famous Gosvämés of Våndävana, explained that the words änukülyasya saìkalpaù mean that one should render transcendental loving service to the Supreme Lord, Kåñëa, favorably. No genuine scholar would be willing to disregard all other spiritual authorities and accept Dr. Radhakrishnan’s version.
When Dr. Radhakrishnan uses the words “faith in the Lord,” he definitely refers to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By what logic does he say “Lord” but mean the impersonal Brahman? Arjuna certainly means the person Kåñëa when he says (Bg. 2.7), çiñyas te ’haà çädhi mäà tväà prapannam: “Now I am Your disciple, and a soul surrendered unto You. Please instruct me.” With these words he addresses Kåñëa at the beginning of the Bhagavad-gétä. At this stage of the Gétä the impersonal Brahman is still to be discussed. When the subject of the impersonal Brahman is finally raised, Lord Kåñëa unequivocally declares that He is the source of the impersonal Brahman. Sound logic says that one cannot surrender to something impersonal and formless. Those who are overly attached to the impersonal Brahman will find surrendering to this formless concept very painful and, indeed, impossible, and if they persist along this path they will end up surrendering to their wife, family, and relatives.
(Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad. written 1954 published 1998. Renunciation Through Wisdom. 4.1.)
Function of the Brahmins:
The Vedas are the storehouse of knowledge,
both material and spiritual. But such knowledge aims at perfection of self-realization.
In other words, the Vedas are the guides for the civilized man in every
respect. Since human life is the opportunity to get free from all material
miseries, it is properly guided by the knowledge of the Vedas, in the matters
of both material needs and spiritual salvation. The specific intelligent
class of men who were devoted particularly to the knowledge of the Vedas
were called the vipras, or the graduates of the Vedic knowledge. There
are different branches of knowledge in the Vedas, of which astrology and
pathology are two important branches necessary for the common man. So the
intelligent men, generally known as the brähmaëas, took up all
the different branches of Vedic knowledge to guide society. Even the department
of military education (Dhanur-veda) was also taken up by such intelligent
men, and the vipras were also teachers of this section of knowledge, as
were Droëäcärya, Kåpäcärya, etc.
The word vipra mentioned herein is significant. There is a little difference between the vipras and the brähmaëas. The vipras are those who are expert in karma-käëòa, or fruitive activities, guiding the society towards fulfilling the material necessities of life, whereas the brähmaëas are expert in spiritual knowledge of transcendence. This department of knowledge is called jïäna-käëòa, and above this there is the upäsanä-käëòa. The culmination of upäsanä-käëòa is the devotional service of the Lord Viñëu, and when the brähmaëas achieve perfection, they are called Vaiñëavas. Viñëu worship is the highest of the modes of worship. Elevated brähmaëas are Vaiñëavas engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, and thus Çrémad-Bhägavatam, which is the science of devotional service, is very dear to the Vaiñëavas. And as explained in the beginning of the Çrémad-Bhägavatam, it is the mature fruit of Vedic knowledge and is superior subject matter, above the three käëòas, namely karma, jïäna and upäsanä.
Amongst the karma-käëòa experts, the jätaka expert vipras were good astrologers who could tell all the future history of a born child simply by the astral calculations of the time (lagna). Such expert jätaka-vipras were present during the birth of Mahäräja Parékñit, and his grandfather, Mahäräja Yudhiñöhira, awarded the vipras sufficiently with gold, land, villages, grains and other valuable necessaries of life, which also include cows. There is a need of such vipras in the social structure, and it is the duty of the state to maintain them comfortably, as designed in the Vedic procedure. Such expert vipras, being sufficiently paid by the state, could give free service to the people in general, and thus this department of Vedic knowledge could be available for all.
(Srila A.C.Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Srimad Bhagavatam 1:12:29. purport.)
Salagram worshipped in the houses of pure brahmins:
Especially in every brähmaëa’s house there must be a çälagräma-çilä to be worshiped by the brähmaëa family. This system is still current. People who are brähmaëas by caste, who are born in a brähmaëa family, must worship the çälagräma-çilä. Unfortunately, with the progress of Kali-yuga, the so-called brähmaëas, although very proud of taking birth in brähmaëa families, no longer worship the çälagräma-çilä. But actually it has been a custom since time immemorial that a person born in a brähmaëa family must worship the çälagräma-çilä in all circumstances. In our Kåñëa consciousness society, some of the members are very anxious to introduce worship of the çälagräma-çilä, but we have purposely refrained from introducing it because most of the members of the Kåñëa consciousness movement do not originally come from families of the brähmaëa caste. After some time, when we find that they are actually situated strictly in the line of brahminical behavior, çälagräma-çilä worship will be introduced.
In this age, the worship of the çälagräma-çilä is not as important as the chanting of the holy name of the Lord. That is the injunction of the çästra: harer näma harer näma harer nämaiva kevalaà/ kalau nästy eva nästy eva nästy eva gatir anyathä [Cc. Ädi 17.21]. Çréla Jéva Gosvämé’s opinion is that by chanting the holy name offenselessly one becomes completely perfect. Nevertheless, just to purify the situation of the mind, worship of the Deity in the temple is also necessary. Therefore when one is advanced in spiritual consciousness or is perfectly situated on a spiritual platform, he may take to the worship of the çälagräma-çilä.
(Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada. Sri Chaitanya Charitamrita Adi-lila 13:86. purport.)
See all the Quotes Srila Prabhupad said about Salagrams HERE:
See some of our traditional brahmin friends HERE: and our Iskcon brahmin friends HERE: