|Canto 7: The Science of God||Chapter 12: The Perfect Society: Four Spiritual Classes|
Bhaktivedanta VedaBase: Śrīmad Bhāgavatam 7.12.13-14
dvijo 'dhītyāvabudhya ca
dattvā varam anujñāto
guroḥ kāmaḿ yadīśvaraḥ
gṛhaḿ vanaḿ vā praviśet
pravrajet tatra vā vaset
uṣitvā — residing; evam — in this way; guru-kule — under the care of the spiritual master; dvi-jaḥ — the twice-born, namely the brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas and vaiśyas; adhītya — studying Vedic literature; avabudhya — understanding it properly; ca — and; trayīm — the Vedic literatures; sa-ańga — along with supplementary parts; upaniṣadam — as well as the Upaniṣads; yāvat-artham — as far as possible; yathā-balam — as far as one can, according to one's ability; dattvā — giving; varam — remuneration; anujñātaḥ — being asked; guroḥ — of the spiritual master; kāmam — desires; yadi — if; īśvaraḥ — capable; gṛham — household life; vanam — retired life; vā — either; praviśet — one should enter; pravrajet — or get out of; tatra — there; vā — either; vaset — should reside.
According to the rules and regulations mentioned above, one who is twice-born, namely a brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya or vaiśya, should reside in the guru-kula under the care of the spiritual master. There he should study and learn all the Vedic literatures along with their supplements and the Upaniṣads, according to his ability and power to study. If possible, the student or disciple should reward the spiritual master with the remuneration the spiritual master requests, and then, following the master's order, the disciple should leave and accept one of the other āśramas, namely the gṛhastha-āśrama, vānaprastha-āśrama or sannyāsa-āśrama, as he desires.
To study the Vedas and understand them, of course, requires some special intelligence, but the members of the three higher sections of society — namely the brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas and vaiśyas — must learn the Vedic literatures according to their capability and power to understand. In other words, studying the Vedic literatures is compulsory for everyone but the śūdras and antyajas. The Vedic literature gives the knowledge that can lead one to understand the Absolute Truth — Brahman, Paramātmā or Bhagavān. Guru-kula, or the reformatory educational institution, should be used only to understand Vedic knowledge. At the present time there are many educational institutions for training and technology, but such knowledge has nothing to do with understanding of the Absolute Truth. Technology, therefore, is meant for the śūdras, whereas the Vedas are meant for the dvijas. Consequently this verse states, dvijo 'dhītyāvabudhya ca trayīḿ sāńgopaniṣadam. At the present time, in the age of Kali, practically everyone is a śūdra, and no one is a dvija. Therefore the condition of society has very much deteriorated.
Another point to be observed from this verse is that from the brahmacārī-āśrama one may accept the sannyāsa-āśrama, vānaprastha-āśrama or gṛhastha-āśrama. It is not compulsory for a brahmacārī to become a gṛhastha. Because the ultimate aim is to understand the Absolute Truth, there is no necessity of going through all the different āśramas. Thus one may proceed to the sannyāsa-āśrama directly from the brahmacārī-āśrama. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura accepted the sannyāsa-āśrama directly from the brahmacārī-āśrama. In other words, His Divine Grace Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura did not think it compulsory to accept the gṛhastha-āśrama or vānaprastha-āśrama.
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His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda, Founder Ācārya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness