Brahmanya-Deva and Brahmanas.
( PROF. YADUBAR DASADHIKARY M, A. B. L. BHAKTISHASTRI).
The Harmonist (Sree Sajjanatoshani)
The word ‘Brahmanya’ means a friend or benefactor to Brahman or Brahmana. It also means the object of worship to a Brahmana. And both these senses in fact point to one and the same thing, for the real Friend and the best Benefactor is certainly the truest and highest Object of worship or love. Who is then this Brahmanya-deva?
He is no other than Vishnu Himself, the all-pervading Supreme soul. So we find in the Santi Parvan of the Mahabharata ‘Brahmanya’ and ‘dear to Brahmana’ as two of a thousand epithets of Vishnu, the Supreme Lord.
Anhika-Chandrika also points to the same fact.
Here the Brahmanya-deva is Vishnu, the All pervading. He is Achyuta—the ever Unchangeable, and is Krishna—the Son of Devaki. Hence we make obeisance to Him in the words of Vishnu-Puranam.
‘Salutation to Brahmanya-deva, the Friend (Protector) of the vedic lore and Brahmanas, Who is Krishna (the most pleasing Attractor) and Cowherd (of Brindaban); salutation to Him again and again.’
The word ‘Namas’ in the verse means the negation of egoism or pride. So by salutation we mean absolute surrender at the Feet of our object of worship or love. For true and perfect love is not possible so long as one retains an iota of selfishness or egoism.
A certain degree of self-surrender and selflessness seems to be present also in lust. Any display of palpable excess of selfishness would scare away the victim of lust and make the process difficult of realisation. But in so-called earthly love genuine self-surrender and selflessness is out of the question. Love here on earth,—nay in the domain of Maya, can not but be wholly selfish. Here all existence being phenomenal and self-centred, love also directly and necessarily pertains to the deluded mind and body, and cannot divest itself of self-seeking and self-gratification. And self-gratification of the Jiva is sensuousness or lust. Love here on this earth and of one creature towards another is essentially sensuous and can therefore, be never lasting or true. Yet selflessness is the only admitted mark of its purity which of course may vary in the degree of perfection.
But the case is quite different with transcendental love which is a function of the pure soul and which is therefore necessarily pure. Any reservation in favour of physical or mental gratification will deprive love of the quality of its natural absolute purity. Transcendental love connects the individual Soul with the Oversoul and regulates the dealings of individual souls towards one another in the state of grace. It is perfectly free from any touch of mundane impurity. The serving individual soul seeks no pleasure of his own. His only object is to seek the pleasures of the senses of the Godhead,—the only Object of his love. As this also happens to be the function and lookout of all pure souls, they are all united by those common impulse in truly unselfish friendly emulation for serving the Lord by the method of unity in diversity. Love has been set forth by Sree Chaitanyadeva in the last Sloka of the octave of His own composition.
‘He (Krishna) may hold me lying at His feet in close embrace, trample upon me with scorn, or wound me to the quick by keeping out of my sight. Attached to the gratification of His senses whatever may be the course of that Libertine, nevertheless, He alone — and none else is, indeed, the beloved Lord of my life.’
Real love is possible only when directed to the holy Feet of Krishna alone. This is the highest goal of human life as taught by the Supreme Lord Chaitanya.
It has been said above that Lord Vishnu, Brahmanyadeva, Krishna is dear to, and is the Worshipped of, Brahmans. Is he then the exclusive Lord of any particularly favoured caste or class? Have not people other than Brahmanas any right to worship and love Him? And have not creatures other than human being the same right and fitness? In other words, is Brahman-hood the monopoly of a particular species of created beings? And is it again the monopoly of a particular class of a species of creatures called man?
It will surely be preposterous to answer it in the affirmative. It is arrogance and ignorance on the part of a particular class or species to deny this right to any other creature. And it does not stand to reason to maintain that it should be necessary to regard it as their special and exclusive privilege in any limited sense. God is the creator, Friend and Protector of all creatures and every creature is endowed with an inherent right to claim Him as his own, or in other words, to worship and love Him. Godhead retains the prerogative of being partial to those who are partial to Him. Else God would be no God, becoming only a subservient creature of the fancy of erring tiny individuals.
Hence the word ‘Brahmana’ in the epithet ‘dear to Brahmanas’ is not to be taken in any narrow sense defined by the circumstances of this world. Here ‘Brahmana’ has the true universal sense, meaning any creature recognising his relationship of absolute association with the great One.’ ‘All creatures created by Brahma or Brahmanyadeva are Brahmanas.
Every individual soul is a Brahmana by his essential nature; he is Brahmana as a creature of Brahmanyadeva, as a worshipper or servant of the one Lord. The worshipper of Brahmanyadeva, is, therefore, a Brahmana. So that Brahmanhood is the inherent quality or virtue of every pure serving soul. The worship of Vishnu or Brahmanyadeva is everyone’s birthright and only natural duty.
Although the condition of a Brahmana is the essential nature of all creatures, yet obviously enough, it is the special privilege of human beings to be able to attain easily to this most desirable state, and to know and love God; because the possibility of rational and true knowledge is found only in human beings. Among men again the perfection of rationality and true knowledge is to be met with, not universally, but only in very rare cases. These rare cases of human beings are the only true Brahmanas.
For this possibility the attainment of true rationality and knowledge by a human being, human life, though in itself imperfect and transitory, has been declared by the Scriptures as the most precious of all and most difficult of attainment. By humanity alone the truest and highest good open to all creatures can be achieved. Hence it is enjoined in the Scriptures that human life should be utilised to the full for the above purpose. This should be done without delay and continued till the moment of death. For this peculiar advantage human beings are regarded by the Scriptures as the highest of all creatures in this world.
It is also quite obvious, that even among men it may not be the lot of one and all to turn this great possibility into reality. The condition of a Brahmana has not been achieved by one and all in any Age in the history of creation. Diversity of taste and capacity is noticeable in different persons, and according to this diversity there is found to exist a broad Divine classification of human beings under fourheads, viz. Brahmana, Kshattriya, Vaishya and Shudra. As humanity is the highest of all worldly conditions, so Brahmanhood again is the highest level of humanity. But this does never mean that Brahmanas are an exclusive hereditary caste, or that the so-called caste-Brahmanas are perfect human beings. Brahmanhood is not the exclusive possession of any human being by right of birth. What is meant by the Varna or class of Brahmanas is that the aptitudes of Brahmanhood are found to prevail in the members and that they are for this reason naturally and individually better qualified than any other class of individuals by their possession of true knowledge to serve Krishna which is the highest goal and good of the human life. They form a spiritual class of individuals devoted to the service of Vishnu and are accordingly regarded by the Scriptures as the natural leaders of society for guiding it to the same perfection.
It has been observed above that Brahmanas are so called to indicate that they are individual souls wholly devoted to the worship of Brahmanyadeva or Vishnu. In this sense the term Brahmana is wide enough to be able to accommodate any and every created being, as also in its restricted and higher sense. Owing to the disinclination of the creatures of this world to serve Vishnu, it means a particular class of select individuals. Any individual member of the Brahmana class is liable to forfeit his status of a Brahmana by neglect of the service of Brahmanyadeva, Krishna—his eternal Lord,—enjoined by the Scriptures for the purposes of developing our love for Krishna, which is the supreme goal of all individual existence. A Brahmana who neglects his duty will automatically lose his pre-eminence and will have no more claim to be a Brahmana than any member of any other class. He has failed to utilise the opportunities available to him and has abused the privileges, and, therefore, should rightly forfeit his right to the distinction and honour of a Brahmana. For the same reason, any individual of any other class, manifesting the aptitudes of a real Brahmana should be regarded and classed as a Brahmana. Caste conventions can and should never be any bar to the recognition of Brahmanhood. The classification of society into four Varnas noted above is a convention based on accurate observation of actual conditions. But shorn of their true meaning and purpose they are liable to become selfish iron-shackles and obstacles to retard the spiritual progress of society. The Scriptures fully recognise the fact that a Brahman may degenerate into a worldling and a Sudra by birth may display the qualities of a Brahmana.
We have noticed above that true knowledge and love of Godhead constitute Brahmanhood. Hence this is the fundamental qualification of a true Brahmana; and motiveless uninterrupted unalloyed and all-round service of Brahmanyadeva is the proper and only function of a Brahmana or a pure soul. A Jiva or individual soul in his pure state is, therefore, a Brahmana. When he chooses to forget the true nature of his ownself by deliberately attaching himself to non-Brahmanyadeva or Maya, he becomes subject to misery by his election of ignorance. In this apparently forgetful and miserable state be degenerates into a Sudra or a creature of sorrow and ignorance. Sudrahood is the self-acquired second nature of a worldling; it is the perverted reflection of the real self which is mistaken as his true nature by a deliberately irrational use of his judgement.
Non-remembrance once deliberately and wilfully adopted, quickly grows so strong and complete that a Jiva in the Sudra state regards it as self-annihilating to believe in his inherent, indestructible Brahmanhood, and would not care, nor have any liking for his proper function of the service of Brahmanyadeva, and consequent unalloyed and ever-increasing joy flowing from the service of the Divinity. Yet the Brahmanhood of Jivatma or a pure soul in his free state can never become altogether extinct, just as the activities of our consciousness do not wholly cease even during sound sleep. Brahmanhood thus enshrouded by Maya has to be regained. This is true self-realisation. And when from a sincere desire to know and consciously serve Brahmanyadeva a Jiva approaches, with proper submission, the Acharya, true Preceptor who knows and serves the Absolute Truth, and by the grace of Brahmanyadeva, is accepted and admitted into pupillage by the merciful Acharya, he is then truly initiated into the process of self-realisation and gets the appellation of a Brahmana.
In Sudra or miserable deluded state a Jiva has a fourfold pride or conceit which is the characteristic and expression of his Sudra nature so long as a Jiva prefers to be blinded by these conceits he necessarily fails to perceive and accept the favour and light that is always vouchsafed by Brahmanyadeva. That is, on account of his challenging spirit due to these ignorant conceits and consequent utter want of submission, the Truth who reveals Himself mercifully to all who do not shut their eyes is not welcome and knowable.
The first of these conceits is the conceit of birth. When a Jiva forgets his true self, he chooses to believe his physical encasement i.e. the body, to be his own self. He identifies himself in practice with the mortal material body, and does not effectively believe in his spiritual existence which is quite apart from and beyond the body. He is then proud or humble, elated or depressed, according to the social rank in which he i.e., his body appears to be born. To such a human being occupying a high or low social position, the Vedas give the name of Sudra and the Srimad Bhagabatam calls him Gokhara or one of the most foolish of foolish animals.
The other three forms of conceits are inseparably related to and dependent on the first one which is, indeed, the main root and stay of the rest. The second conceit is that of wealth. All the wealth of the phenomenal universe is really no property of the soul. Nobody carries it away with him as he departs from the world. It is at least only an apparent right of temporary possession and enjoyment. But this right of seeming temporary possession and enjoyment is declared by the Scripture as imaginary and as the source of all misery. Brahmanyadeva is the real and only proprietor of everything. This phenomenal world is, however, His disowned property located outside His proper realm. Jivas or creatures forgetful of the nature of their true selves and their true function viz., the eternal service of Brahmanyadeva in the Absolute Realm, pose as tin-gods and pseudo-masters and usurp the right of material enjoyment in this house of correction. Such wrong conceit of being proprietor and enjoyer of the objects of the material universe arises, when the true knowledge of the relation eternally subsisting between Brahmanyadeva, the individual souls, and the material and spiritual worlds, is overshadowed by self-willed ignorance of the individual soul. At the dawning of true knowledge the Jiva sees that he is the eternal servant of Brahmanyadeva in the realm of Vaikuntha and no self-elected pseudo-proprietor of the realm of Illusion and that his duty is not to pursue selfish enjoyment but to serve the Lord not with material things of this world which although belonging to Him are never acceptable to Him, but by the faculties of his pure soul restored to their natural function by the Grace of the Saviour or Sri Gurudeva.
The third is the conceit of learning or scholarship. This is also born of sheer ignorance. True knowledge of the proper relation between Brahmanyadeva, Brahmana and the worlds spoken of above is the real and useful knowledge, and it keeps the pure soul really humbler than a blade of grass. By the cognitive faculty of the pure soul a Jiva realises his own spiritual nature as an infinitesimally small fractional part of the Serving Potency of Brahmanyadeva, and the futility of his deluded ignorance, thus called knowledge, generated by his irrational dealings with this world. He realises that the knowledge of physical Nature is the ignorance that screens from his view the realm of Vaikuntha and perpetuates his ignorance and holds him fast in the fell grip of the deadening Energy. He realises that Brahmanyadeva is the Absolute Truth, the Supreme Godhead, that every particle of the Absolute realm which alone is real is of His essence and that Krishna with His spiritual realm makes one indivisible conscious personality, Who is related to this world as light to darkness.
The fourth is the conceit of physical beauty. It is quite obvious how fragile and vile this apparently charming commodity of this world is. This is one of the brood of the wilful identification of the soul with his physical temporal prison and is the sauce that stimulates the inclination for selfish enjoyment. It enchants and betrays its victims viz., the so-called enjoyer and the enjoyed, by holding out the prospect of a false satisfaction, that is never satiated, of enjoying and being enjoyed. This physical beauty deludes the vision and keeps concealed from it the eternal and true Beauty of Brahmanyadeva that is visible only to the serving soul.
All these four forms of false pride constitute the motive behind the functions of the perverse soul or Sudra, the creature of sorrow. If any of these conceits is unsatisfied partially satisfied, or obstructed, the Jiva feels very miserable and unhappy and considers his life a failure. Whereas the function of a Brahmana, or a loyal soul is the perpetual service of Brahmanyadeva only, which is Bhakti or Devotion. A Brahmana categorically discards all these conceits and is perfectly submissive to Brahmanyadeva.
If these four are the false prides that are liable to overtake a Jiva due to his wilful ignorance, what constitutes the truth corresponding to them?
The Absolute Godhead, Lord Gaurasundar, has pointed out the true nature of the Jiva and his natural relation with the Godhead:— I am no member of any of the four orders (Varna), nor am I in any of the four stages (Asrama). But I am a humble servant of the servants of the servants of the lotus feet of the sweetheart of the spiritual milkmaids, Who is the ocean of all ever-increasing Supreme Joy.
A Jiva by his spiritual nature is an eternal servant of Krishna. He is a pure devotee. He is not a member of any social order of this world, nor belongs to any stage of the worldly life. One whose soul is awakened is spontaneously inclined to and engaged in the service of Godhead by all his faculties and for all time. He is a Brahmana who is altogether free from the sway of Maya. The true devotee is the only perfect and true Brahmana. It is only a malicious atheist who can fail to recognise the Brahmanhood of the true devotee. True devotion is to be found only in the Brahmanas and never in Sudras. A Brahmana is such because he is always a true devotee of Brahmanyadeva, whereas a Sudra, so long as he persists in his worldly conceits, can never be regarded as fit to be servant of Brahmanyadeva. Semblance of devotion that is to be met within him is nothing but his love for objects of his own sensuous enjoyment, and not any love for Brahmanyadeva. Want of pure devotion manifests itself in a Jiva who is averse to serve God by free choice and is the only criterion of the condition of a Sudra. So says Sruti:
‘O Gargi! One who passes away from this world without knowing the immortal Reality is an object of pity,— a Sudra; whereas one who leaves this world after having known Him is truly a Brahmana.’