śrī śrī guru gaurāṅga jayataḥ!
Year 11, Issue 3
Posted: 5 April 2018
nitya-līlā praviṣṭa oṁ viṣṇupāda
Śrī Śrīmad Bhakti Prajñāna Keśava Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Inspired by and under the guidance of
Śrī Śrīmad Bhaktivedānta Nārāyaṇa Gosvāmī Mahārāja
Do Vedic Brāhmaṇas Know the Truth?
Part 1 of 2
Paṇḍit Śyāma Sundara: What is the distinction between a brāhmaṇa and a Vaiṣṇava?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: One who worships Śrī Viṣṇu, who has distinctive attributes and sentient playfulness, is a Vaiṣṇava. On the other hand, the culturist of brahma, which is devoid of attributes, is a brāhmaṇa. One who knows brahma is known as a brāhmaṇa, and when he worships Bhagavān (God) he is known as a Vaiṣṇava.
The fully manifested Truth is Bhagavān, and the insufficiently manifested Truth is brahma. Consequently, a brāhmaṇa with knowledge of relativities can be a Vaiṣṇava by means of worship. The contrivance of professors of non-distinction to worship brahma in five forms (pañcopāsana), [temporarily] attributing attributes to Him on the basis of the theory of illusion, does not refer to the Truth of knowledge of singularity. These illusionists, unduly identifying as “brāhmaṇas”, think brāhmaṇism is confined to the religion of attainment of worldly desires, whereas the virtue of the knower of brahma is eternally innate in the essential condition of jīvas (living beings).
When a brāhmaṇa is fortunate enough to be rid of the clutches of māyā through Viṣṇu’s grace, he is able to become a pure brāhmaṇa, or in other words, a Vaiṣṇava. In Bhakti-sandarbha, Śrīla Jīva Gosvāmī has cited the following from the Garuḍa Purāṇa: “A performer of sacrifices is better than a thousand brāhmaṇas; a scholar of Vedānta is better than a thousand performers of sacrifices; a devotee of Viṣṇu is superior to ten million Vedānta scholars; and one who is wholly and exclusively devoted to Viṣṇu is superior to a thousand [ordinary] Vaiṣṇavas.
Paṇḍit Śyāma Sundara: Are Vaiṣṇavas also brāhmaṇas?
Śrīla Prabhupāda: That Vaiṣṇavas, too, are brāhmaṇas, you have learned from the answer to the previous question. Brāhmaṇism is the lowest rung of the ladder of Vaiṣṇavism, which is a far higher rung. A brāhmaṇa is the attendant to a Vaiṣṇava. Just as the possessor of one hundred thousand rupees also possesses one thousand rupees, one who is a Vaiṣṇava must already be a brāhmaṇa, for brāhmaṇism is included within Vaiṣṇavism.
Paṇḍit Śyāma Sundara: Nowadays, very few think along this line. Whenever the term ‘Vaiṣṇava’ is used, people generally interpret it in quite a different manner.
Śrīla Prabhupāda: It is on account of people’s forgetfulness of these deliberations and of the fact that the highest seat of Vaiṣṇavism has been looked down upon and spoken of with a degree of contumeliousness, and due to the want of necessary culture and sufficient propagation by means of proper custom and conduct that, willed by God, the institution of the Gauḍīya Maṭha has come into existence to propagate that very culture.
This institution has undertaken the task of re-establishing the system of daiva-varṇāśrama* and re-instating the populace in the proper functioning of true brāhmaṇa culture. The populace has forgotten that the [fundamental] principle of the dharma of jīvas is to be servitors of Vaiṣṇavas. On account of forgetting this dharma, the current culture has been running to embody the outward functions of kṣatriyas (aristocracy and warriors), vaiśyas (agriculturalists and merchants) and so on.
* Daiva-varṇāśrama: the deistic centred division of human civilization into four natures according to work-aptitude, and four stages of life.
Mahāprabhu Śrī Caitanydeva has said, “It is he who is conversant with knowledge of Kṛṣṇa who can function as a guru (spiritual instructor), whether he is born as a brāhmaṇa or a śudra, or is a sannyāsī or otherwise.” An a-brāhmaṇa (one who is not a true brāhmaṇa) cannot be a guru. The word ‘guru’ implies a brāhmaṇa. He who laments (who is a śūdra by nature) or who runs after functions other than those of a brāhmaṇa, is not a guru. He who knows the truth about Kṛṣṇa, he who is adept in the full perception of the true knowledge of singularity, is certainly not an a-brāhmaṇa, for in him there is implicit knowledge of brahma.
to be continued…
Adapted from The Gauḍīya, Volume 8, Number 2, Part 1 of 2
by the Rays of The Harmonist Team