ami--nica-jati, amara nahi krsna-bhakti
anya aiche haya, amaya nahi aiche sakti"
ami—I; nica-jati—belonging to a lower caste; amara—my; nahi—there is not; krsna-bhakti—devotion to Krsna; anya—others; aiche haya—may be such; amaya—unto me; nahi—there is not; aiche sakti—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 Krsna."
In his statement, Jhadu Thakura presents himself as being born in a low-caste family and not having the qualifications of a bona fide devotee of Lord Krsna. He accepts the statements declaring a lowborn person highly exalted if he is a Vaisnava. However, he feels that these descriptions from Srimad-Bhagavatam appropriately describe others, but not himself. Jhadu Thakura's attitude is quite befitting a real Vaisnava, for a Vaisnava 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 that he is indeed low. Sanatana Gosvami once said that he belonged to a low-caste family, for although he was born in a brahmana family, he had associated with mlecchas and yavanas in his service as a government minister. Similarly, Jhadu Thakura presented himself as someone who belonged to a low caste, but he was actually elevated above many persons born in brahmana families. Not only is there evidence for this in Srimad-Bhagavatam, as quoted by Kalidasa in verses 26 and 27; there is also considerable evidence for this conclusion in other sastras. For example, in the Mahabharata, Vana-parva, Chapter 180, it is stated:
sudre tu yad bhavel laksma
dvije tac ca na vidyate
na vai sudro bhavec chudro
brahmano na ca brahmanah
"If the characteristics of a brahmana are found in a sudra and not in a brahmana, that sudra should not be known as a sudra, and that brahmana should not be known as a brahmana."
Similarly, in the Vana-parva, Chapter 211, it is said:
sudra-yonau hi jatasya
arjave vartamanasya
brahmanyam abhijayate
"If a person born in a sudra family has developed the qualities of a brahmana, such as satya [truthfulness], sama [peacefulness], dama [self-control] and arjava [simplicity], he attains the exalted position of a brahmana."
In the Anusasana-parva, Chapter 163, it is said:
sthito brahmana-dharmena
brahmanyam upajivati
ksatriyo vatha vaisyo va
brahma-bhuyah sa gacchati
ebhis tu karmabhir devi
subhair acaritais tatha
sudro brahmanatam yati
vaisyah ksatriyatam vrajet
na yonir napi samskaro
na srutam na ca santatih
karanani dvijatvasya
vrttam eva tu karanam
"If one is factually situated in the occupation of a brahmana, he must be considered a brahmana, even if born of a ksatriya or vaisya family.
"O Devi, if even a sudra is actually engaged in the occupation and pure behavior of a brahmana, he becomes a brahmana. Moreover, a vaisya can become a ksatriya.
"Therefore, neither the source of one's birth, nor his reformation, nor his education is the criterion of a brahmana. The vrtta, or occupation, is the real standard by which one is known as a brahmana."
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 brahmana despite the family in which he is born. That is the verdict of all the sastras.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.11.35), it is said:
yasya yal laksanam proktam
pumso varnabhivyanjakam
yad anyatrapi drsyeta
tat tenaiva vinirdiset
This is a statement by Narada Muni to Maharaja Yudhisthira, wherein Narada says that the symptoms of a brahmana, ksatriya and vaisya are all described in sastra. Therefore, if one is found exhibiting the symptoms and qualities of a brahmana and serving in a brahminical occupation, even if he is not born a brahmana or ksatriya, he should be considered according to his qualifications and occupation.
Similarly, in the Padma purana it is said:
na sudra bhagavad-bhaktas
te tu bhagavata matah
sarva-varnesu te sudra
ye na bhakta janardane
"A devotee should never be considered a sudra. All the devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead should be recognized as bhagavatas. If one is not a devotee of Lord Krsna, however, even if born of a brahmana, ksatriya or vaisya family, he should be considered a sudra."
In the Padma Purana it is also said:
sva-pakam iva nekseta
loke vipram avaisnavam
vaisnavo varno-bahyo 'pi
punati bhuvana-trayam
"If a person born in a brahmana family is an avaisnava, a nondevotee, one should not see his face, exactly as one should not look upon the face of a candala, or dog-eater. However, a vaisnava found in varnas other than brahmana can purify all the three worlds."
The Padma Purana further says:
sudram va bhagavad-bhaktam
nisadam sva-pacam tatha
viksate jati-samanyat
sa yati narakam dhruvam
"One who considers a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead who was born in a family of sudras, nisadas or candalas to belong to that particular caste certainly goes to hell."
A brahmana must be a Vaisnava and a learned scholar. Therefore in India it is customary to address a brahmana as pandita. Without knowledge of Brahman, one cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore a Vaisnava is already a brahmana, whereas a brahmana may become a Vaisnava. In the Garuda Purana it is said:
bhaktir asta-vidha hy esa
yasmin mlecche 'pi vartate
sa viprendro muni-sresthah
sa jnani sa ca panditah
"If even a mleccha becomes a devotee, he is to be considered the best of the brahmanas and a learned pandita."
Similarly, Tattva-sagara says:
yatha kancanatam yati
kamsyam rasa-vidhanatah
tatha diksa-vidhanena
dvijatvam jayate nrnam
"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 brahmana immediately." All this evidence found in the revealed scriptures proves that according to the Vedic version, a Vaisnava is never to be considered an abrahmana, or non-brahmana. A Vaisnava 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 Krsna, he has become purified and has attained the stage of brahmana (dvijatvam jayate nrnam).

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