|Antya-līlā||Chapter 16: Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu Tastes Nectar from the Lips of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrī Caitanya Caritāmṛta Antya 16.29
āmi — nīca-jāti, āmāra nāhi kṛṣṇa-bhakti
anya aiche haya, āmāya nāhi aiche śakti"
āmi — I; nīca-jāti — belonging to a lower caste; āmāra — my; nāhi — there is not; kṛṣṇa-bhakti — devotion to Kṛṣṇa; anya — others; aiche haya — may be such; āmāya — unto me; nāhi — there is not; aiche śakti — such power.
"Such a position may befit others, but I do not possess such spiritual power. I belong to a lower class and have not even a pinch of devotion to Kṛṣṇa."
In his statement, Jhaḍu Ṭhākura presents himself as being born in a low-caste family and not having the qualifications of a bona fide devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa. He accepts the statements declaring a lowborn person highly exalted if he is a Vaiṣṇava. However, he feels that these descriptions from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam appropriately describe others, but not himself. Jhaḍu Ṭhākura's attitude is quite befitting a real Vaiṣṇava, for a Vaiṣṇava never considers himself exalted, even if he factually is. He is always meek and humble and never thinks that he is an advanced devotee. He assigns himself to a lower position, but that does not mean he is indeed low. Sanātana Gosvāmī once said that he belonged to a low-caste family, for although he was born in a brāhmaṇa family, he had associated with mlecchas and yavanas in his service as a government minister. Similarly, Jhaḍu Ṭhākura presented himself as someone who belonged to a low caste, but he was actually elevated above many persons born in brāhmaṇa families. Not only is there evidence for this in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, as quoted by Kālidāsa in verses 26 and 27, but there is also considerable evidence for this conclusion in other śāstras. For example, in the Mahābhārata (Vana-parva, 177.20), it is stated:
śūdre tu yad bhavel lakṣma dvije tac ca na vidyate
na vai śūdro bhavec chūdro brāhmaṇo na ca brāhmaṇaḥ
"If someone born a śūdra possesses the characteristics of a brāhmaṇa and someone born a brāhmaṇa does not, that śūdra should not be known as a śūdra, and that brāhmaṇa should not be known as a brāhmaṇa."
Similarly, in the Vana-parva, Chapter 203.11-12, it is said:
śūdra-yonau hi jātasya
"If a person born in a śūdra family has developed the qualities of a brāhmaṇa, such as satya [truthfulness], śama [peacefulness], dama [self-control] and ārjava [simplicity], he attains the exalted position of a brāhmaṇa."
And in the Anuśāsana-parva, Chapter 163, it is said:
sthito brāhmaṇa-dharmeṇa brāhmaṇyam upajīvati
kṣatriyo vātha vaiśyo vā brahma-bhūyaḥ sa gacchati
ebhis tu karmabhir devi śubhair ācaritais tathā
śūdro brāhmaṇatāḿ yāti vaiśyaḥ kṣatriyatāḿ vrajet
na yonir nāpi saḿskāro na śrutaḿ na ca santatiḥ
kāraṇāni dvijatvasya vṛttam eva tu kāraṇam
"If one is factually situated in the occupation of a brāhmaṇa, he must be considered a brāhmaṇa, even if born in a kṣatriya or vaiśya family. O Devī, even if one is born a śūdra, if he is actually engaged in the occupation and pure behavior of a brāhmaṇa, he becomes a brāhmaṇa. Moreover, a vaiśya can become a kṣatriya. Therefore, neither the source of one's birth nor his reformation nor his education is the criterion of a brāhmaṇa. The vṛtta, or occupation, is the real standard by which one is known as a brāhmaṇa."
We have seen that a person who is not the son of a doctor and has not attended a medical college is sometimes able to practice medicine. By practical knowledge of how to perform a surgical operation, how to mix medicine and how to give certain medicines for certain diseases, a person can receive a certificate and be registered as a medical practitioner in the practical field. He can do a medical man's work and be known as a doctor. Although qualified medical men may consider him a quack, the government will recognize his work. Especially in India, there are many such doctors who perform their medical services perfectly. They are accepted even by the government. Similarly, if one is engaged in brahminical service or occupational duties, he must be considered a brāhmaṇa despite the family in which he is born. That is the verdict of all the śāstras.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.11.35), it is said:
yasya yal lakṣaṇaḿ proktaḿ puḿso varṇābhivyañjakam
yad anyatrāpi dṛśyeta tat tenaiva vinirdiśet
This is a statement by Nārada Muni to Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, wherein Nārada says that the symptoms of a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya and vaiśya are all described in the śāstra. Therefore, if one is found exhibiting the symptoms and qualities of a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya or vaiśya and serving in a brahminical, kṣatriya or vaiśya occupation, even if he is not born a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya or vaiśya he should be considered such according to his qualifications and occupation.
Similarly, in the Padma purāṇa it is said:
na śūdrā bhagavad-bhaktās te tu bhāgavatā matāḥ
sarva-varṇeṣu te śūdrā ye na bhaktā janārdane
"A devotee should never be considered a śūdra. All the devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead should be recognized as bhāgavatas. If one is not a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, however, even if born in a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya or vaiśya family, he should be considered a śūdra."
In the Padma Purāṇa it is also said:
śva-pākam iva nekṣeta loke vipram avaiṣṇavam
vaiṣṇavo varṇo-bāhyo 'pi punāti bhuvana-trayam
"If a person born in a brāhmaṇa family is an avaiṣṇava, a nondevotee, one should not see his face, exactly as one should not look upon the face of a caṇḍāla, or dog-eater. However, a Vaiṣṇava found in varṇas other than brāhmaṇa can purify all the three worlds."
The Padma Purāṇa further says:
śūdraḿ vā bhagavad-bhaktaḿ niṣādaḿ śva-pacaḿ tathā
vīkṣate jāti-sāmānyāt sa yāti narakaḿ dhruvam
"One who considers a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead who was born in a family of śūdras, niṣādas or caṇḍālas to belong to that particular caste certainly goes to hell."
A brāhmaṇa must be a Vaiṣṇava and a learned scholar. Therefore in India it is customary to address a brāhmaṇa as paṇḍita. Without knowledge of Brahman, one cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore a Vaiṣṇava is already a brāhmaṇa, whereas a brāhmaṇa may become a Vaiṣṇava. In the Garuḍa Purāṇa it is said:
bhaktir aṣṭa-vidhā hy eṣā yasmin mlecche 'pi vartate
sa viprendro muni-śreṣṭhaḥ sa jñānī sa ca paṇḍitaḥ
"Even if one is born a mleccha, if he becomes a devotee he is to be considered the best of the brāhmaṇas and a learned paṇḍita."
Similarly, the Tattva-sāgara says:
yathā kāñcanatāḿ yāti kāḿsyaḿ rasa-vidhānataḥ
tathā dīkṣā-vidhānena dvijatvaḿ jāyate nṛṇām
"As bell metal is turned to gold when mixed with mercury in an alchemical process, so one who is properly trained and initiated by a bona fide spiritual master becomes a brāhmaṇa immediately." All this evidence found in the revealed scriptures proves that according to the Vedic version, a Vaiṣṇava is never to be considered an abrāhmaṇa, or non-brāhmaṇa. A Vaiṣṇava should not be thought to belong to a lower caste even if born in a mleccha or yavana family. Because he has become a devotee of Lord Kṛṣṇa, he has become purified and has attained the stage of brāhmaṇa (dvijatvaḿ jāyate nṛṇām).
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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness