Brahmana Initiation Lecture with Professor O'Connell
Boston, May 6, 1968,
(Glenville Ave. Temple)
Prabhupada: We are very glad to receive Professor O'Connell in this auspicious meeting. And it will be very nice, because he's studying the process of Caitanya philosophy. And this ceremony is one of the functions in devotional service. We have got a big book... I think, Professor O'Connell, you have secured that book, Hari-bhakti-vilasa. Have you secured that book?
O'Connell: I have the book. I'm yet to be a professor or even get my degree beyond the... I have the book.
Prabhupada: That's all right. So that Hari-bhakti-vilasa is written by Sanatana Gosvami in the name of Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. Because Gopala Bhatta Gosvami was a very young boy, and Rupa Gosvami and Sanatana Gosvami, they were very elderly. But because all the six Gosvamis happened to be direct disciples of Lord Caitanya, so Gopala Bhatta Gosvami, although very young, he was treated as younger brother of Sanatana Gosvami. So this book was actually written by Sanatana Gosvami, but it was published or dedicated to Gopala Bhatta Gosvami. In this book the rules and regulation of the Vaisnavas are described—of the brahmacaris, the students; of the grhasthas, householders; vanaprastha, retired men; and sannyasi, renounced order—how grhastha should live, how brahmacari should live, how vanaprastha should live, how sannyasis should live. All the... It is called Vaisnava smrti.
Sruti and smrti. Sruti means Vedic literature, which is traditionally, from time immemorial, it is learned simply by hearing from authoritative sources. Just like in the Srimad-Bhagavatam in the First Canto, first verse, it is said, tene brahma hrda adi-kavaye. The original authority of Vedic literature, Lord Brahma. He was instructed about Vedic knowledge by Lord Krsna. And he imparted Vedic knowledge to the world. So he was the first creature, living creature, after creation. So there was nobody to give him initiation because he is the only living creature at that time. So the Lord Himself initiated. How He initiated? Hrda, through the heart. Because He is situated in everyone's heart. Isvarah sarva-bhutanam hrd-dese 'rjuna tisthati [Bg. 18.61]. He is, the Lord is seated in everyone's heart. So he initiated. Tene brahma hrda. Hrda means "through the heart." And that is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita, that buddhi-yogam dadami tam, "I give instruction, buddhi-yogam, the yoga principle of intelligence or bhakti-yoga." Whom? Tesam satata-yuktanam bhajatam priti-purvakam [Bg. 10.10]. One who is engaged with love and affection in devotional service, to him He gives instruction.
Not to all. Samo 'ham sarva-bhutesu [Bg. 9.29]. God is equal to everyone. That is a fact. So far eating, sleeping, mating, these four principles are concerned, God is giving everyone. Just like government provides maintenance, provision, even in the prison life. That is not very important thing for government. But education department or other higher cultural department, that is not for all. Similarly, although God is equal to everyone, he's especially inclined to the devotees. Ye tu bhajanti mam pritya tesu te mayi. Those who are engaged in devotional service, He's specially inclined to him. And to him he gives instruction from within. Tesam satata-yuktanam [Bg. 10.10]. Satata means always. Twenty-four hours, one who is engaged in Krsna consciousness, to him He gives instruction from within because he's qualified. Others, instruction He's giving, but other is not obeying the instruction. Just like a man is ready to commit some sinful activities. He thinks, "Shall I do it?" From within, "No, no. Don't do it." Again he says, "Why not? Let me do it." In this way, when he insists, oh, then He says, "All right, do it. Do it." So the word that "Nothing can happen without the sanction of God," that is a fact. Nobody can act anything... Then the question is why a man acts sinfully? Why...? Does God give sanction for sinful action? Yes. When one insists that "I shall do it." "All right, do it. And suffer the consequences."
So this purification process, according to Vaisnava smrti, adau gurvasrayam tato sad-dharma-prcchat sadhu marganugamanam. In the beginning one has to accept a spiritual master, bona fide spiritual master. And who is bona fide spiritual master? That is also described in several Vedic scriptures. In the Upanisad it is said, srotriyam brahma-nistham [MU 1.2.12]. One who has come down in disciplic succession and as a result of such authorized succession one has become fully, firmly convinced in Brahman. Brahman, Paramatma, Bhagavan, the same thing. Brahma-nistham. He is transcendentally situated. So these things are there. And in the Srimad-Bhagavatam also it is said that who requires a spiritual master? That is also said. Tasmad gurum prapadyeta [SB 11.3.21]. One, let one surrender himself unto the spiritual master. Who is that one? Jijnasuh. One who is inquisitive. What about inquisitiveness? Jijna... sreya uttamam. The highest perfectional stage of life. If one is inclined what is transcendental life, what is spiritual life, what is perfection of life, if one is inclined to this subject matter, for him there is necessity of approaching a bona fide spiritual master.
To accept a spiritual master is not a hobby. "Because everyone accepts some spiritual master, let me have also a spiritual master without following the instruction, without following the principles." That sort of acceptance of spiritual master is not required. He doesn't require to accept a spiritual master who is not inquisitive on transcendental subject matter. Jijnasuh sreya uttamam. Uttamam means... Ut means surpassing, and tamam means the darkness. This material world is darkness. And one who has transcended the darkness region and has come to the region of light... Jyotir gamah tamasa ma, "Don't remain in this darkness. Go to the light." So that is called uttamam. Uttamam. Udgata tamam yasmad. So questions, jijnasuh, inquisitive, of transcendental matter. There are many things to inquire. Srotavyadini rajan. There is... in the Srimad-Bhagavatam... There are many subject matter for inquiry and hearing. But one who is interested in hearing about the transcendental subject matter, ramante yoginah anante [Cc. Madhya 9.29], the unlimited, infinite subject matter, for him a spiritual master is needed. Not for all. Tasmad gurum prapadyeta jijnasuh sreya uttamam [SB 11.3.21].
And who is spiritual master? That is also stated. Sabde pare ca nisnatam. Sabde means the Vedic sruti, sruti. This is called sabda-brahma. One who has learned both sruti and smrti. Sruti means Vedas, and smrti means books derived from Vedic knowledge. That is called smrti. And Sri Rupa Gosvami says in his Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu, sruti smrti...
aikantiki harer bhaktir
If one poses himself a great devotee, but does not follow the principles of sruti, smrti, purana, and Narada-pancaratra, and the rules and regulation thereof, then his presentation as great devotee is simply disturbance. According to this Hari-bhakti-vilasa and according to the direction of the Gosvamis in the Lord Caitanya's line, if one does not follow the principles of Vedas, principles of the smrti or corollaries, Vedic literature... Just like Bhagavad-gita is called smrtiand Srimad-Bhagavatam, Maha-purana. So sruti, smrti, puranadi [Brs. 1.2.101], and pancaratriki-vidhim, Narada-pancaratra. Without following the rules and regulation of these scriptures, if one poses himself as devotee of Krsna, aikantiki harer bhaktih-harer means Lord, bhakti, devotional service—he is a disturbance to the society.
So the general rule is that if one is inquisitive... Just as we follow in our, this Krsna consciousness society we ask everyone to come. We don't make any imposition that with such and such qualification one can sit here or hear. No. All these students who are initiated, they know we don't impose anything. "You must be such and such, you must be such an such educated, you must be Hindu or you must be brahmana, or you must be white or black..." No such restriction. Anyone. This is universal. Chanting Hare Krsna, everyone is welcome. Chant Hare Krsna. That's all. And hear something from Bhagavad-gita. So following this principle, if one is a little more interested, then he offers himself. "Swamiji, I shall be initiated." So if I see that that boy or that girl is sincere and is following, then we say that "You have to follow these four principles." What are these? Nisiddhacara. These are injunction by Lord Caitanya, that no illicit sex life, no intoxication, no, I mean to say, nonvegetarian dishes, and no gambling. These four principles. So they agree, and he is given initiation for chanting beads, Hare Krsna, at least sixteen rounds daily. So if one follows the rules and regulation rigidly...
And the next initiation is this dvijatvam. Dvijatvam means twice-born. Twice-born one becomes immediately when he approaches a spiritual master, but the sacred thread is offered as the symbol that he has a spiritual master. Just like there is some phase, there is some degree. So this sacred thread is offered after one year. One who has followed strictly the rules and regulation and chanted sixteen rounds Hare Krsna at least, so he is given the second chance. The third chance is to offer renunciation. If he wants to completely in the service of the Lord, there is sannyasa. Just like the other day we were discussing, anasritah karma-phalam karyam karma karoti yah, sa sannyasi [Bg. 6.1]. Of course, these are formal regulative principles. Real life is within, how much one is sincere in the service of the Lord. So according to rigid class of Hindus, this sacred thread ceremony, they say it is to be offered only to the person who are born in the brahmana family. Perhaps you have studied all these things while you were in India. But Srimad-Bhagavatam says no. There is no question of birthright that because one is born in the brahmana family, therefore he can become brahmana.
Of course, the Vedic regulation is that unless one is born by a brahmana father, he cannot be initiated according to the Vedic regulation. But to take birth in the brahmana family, that is now oblivion, at the present moment. Because in the brahmana family formerly, not only in the brahmana; ksatriya family and vaisya family also, there was a garbhadhana ceremony. Garbhadhana ceremony means when the father goes to beget a child, there is a ceremony like this. It is not a secret service. It is open secret that "Today he is going to have sex life with his wife for begetting a nice child." It is not sexual enjoyment. It is to beget a nice child. So there is a ceremony which is called garbhadhana ceremony, pregnancy ceremony. So at the present moment this ceremony is not observed. Even in rigid families they have already given up. And the sastra injunction is, as soon as one gives up this ceremony, garbhadhana ceremony, he at once falls down to the classification of a sudra. The whole family, no more. Because who knows by whom this child is born? Nobody knows whether he's a brahmana's son or a sudra's son or a rascal's son or a pandita's son. Because there is so much freedom.
So kalau sudra-sambhava. Therefore the general enunciation is that in this age everyone has to be accepted as born-sudra. But this principle is accepted always, by birth everyone is sudra. Janmana jayate sudrah. Everyone is born sudra. Then? Samskarad bhaved dvijah. Dvijah means this samskara. This samskara... By gradual process of cultivation of knowledge, of behavior, of rules and regulations, one becomes a dvijah. Dvijah means twice-born. The first birth is by the father and mother, and the second birth is by the spiritual master and Vedic knowledge. At that time, the second birth means mother is the Vedic knowledge and father is the spiritual master. So Sanatana Gosvami says, because he has enunciated this rule for the so-called rigid brahmanas, they say, "Without taking birth in a brahmana family there is no possibility of one's becoming a brahmana." But Bhagavad-gita does not say like that. Bhagavad-gita says, catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah [Bg. 4.13]. "These four principles of caste—brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra—I have created that division." Now it is creation of God. Nobody can nullify it.
So that division is everywhere. Not only in the India or Hindu society or... No. Everywhere. Guna-karma-vibhagasah, by classification of quality and work. Here also the same thing is there. And Srimad-Bhagavata also confirms this by Narada Muni, when he describes about these four principles of social division, he says, yasya hi yal laksanam syad varnabhivyanjakam. Now there is classification who is a brahmana, who is a ksatriya, who is a vaisya, the qualities. Because according to quality, the divisions shall be there. Now in the Bhagavad-gita you'll find the brahmana's quality, the vaisya's quality, the sudra's quality. So Bhagavata also confirms that yasya hi yal laksanam syat. The symptoms of a person qualifying himself to become a brahmana or ksatriya or vaisya or sudra, that is the main principle. If that symptom is found elsewhere, he should be accepted in that classification. Suppose a man is born in a sudra family or less than a sudra family, but if his qualities are just like brahmana, then he should be accepted as brahmana. That is Bhagavata's...
So this process of Krsna consciousness is a manufacturing process of brahmana, Vaisnava. Vaisnava means surpassing the brahminical stage. Brahma janatiti brahmanah. One who has realized Brahman, he is called brahmana. After realization of Brahman, then realization of Paramatma, then realization of Bhagavan. And one who comes to the stage of understanding Bhagavan, the Personality of Godhead, Visnu, he is called Vaisnava. A Vaisnava means he is already a brahmana. Because in the Bhagavad-gita it is said,
na socati na kanksati
samah sarvesu bhutesu
mad-bhaktim labhate param
The devotional service begins when one has already realized Brahman. Because to whom rendering devotional service? To the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Bhagavan. And Bhagavan is the last word in the Absolute Truth.
vadanti tat tattva-vidas
tattvam yaj jnanam advayam
bhagavan iti sabdyate
The Absolute Truth is realized in three phases. First impersonal Brahman realization, the localized Paramatma realization, and then the last word is to realize the Supreme Personality of Godhead. And that is also confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita.
One who has accepted that Vasudeva, the Supreme Personality of Godhead Krsna... Krsna is Vasudeva. So mahatma, he is the greatest soul. And Bhagavata confirms,
If one is engaged in the transcendental loving service to Vasudeva, then automatically the stage of Brahman realization automatically becomes revealed. So this ceremony is just according to the strict principles of Vaisnava smrti. And today... And Sanatana Gosvami confirms this, that yatha kancanatam yati kamsyam rasa-vidhanatah. By chemical process, one can turn the bell metal into gold. That is alchemistry, that bell metal, if it is treated with mercury properly, then it can become gold. Formerly people knew it. So the example is given that as bell metal, a base metal, can be turned into gold by a chemical process, similarly... (break—end)
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