iti rajna upadisya
pratijagmuh svakan grhan
iti—thus; rajne—unto the King; upadisya—having advised; viprah—persons well versed in the Vedas; jataka-kovidah—persons expert in astrology and in the performance of birth ceremonies; labdha-apacitayah—those who had received sumptuously as remuneration; sarve—all of them; pratijagmuh—went back; svakan—their own; grhan—houses.
Thus those who were expert in astrological knowledge and in performance of the birth ceremony instructed King Yudhisthira about the future history of his child. Then, being sumptuously remunerated, they all returned to their respective homes.
The Vedas are the storehouse of knowledge, both material and spiritual. But such knowledge aims at perfection of self-realization. In other words, the Vedas are the guides for the civilized man in every respect. Since human life is the opportunity to get free from all material miseries, it is properly guided by the knowledge of the Vedas, in the matters of both material needs and spiritual salvation. The specific intelligent class of men who were devoted particularly to the knowledge of the Vedas were called the vipras, or the graduates of the Vedic knowledge. There are different branches of knowledge in the Vedas, of which astrology and pathology are two important branches necessary for the common man. So the intelligent men, generally known as the brahmanas, took up all the different branches of Vedic knowledge to guide society. Even the department of military education (Dhanur-veda) was also taken up by such intelligent men, and the vipras were also teachers of this section of knowledge, as were Dronacarya, Krpacarya, etc.
The word vipra mentioned herein is significant. There is a little difference between the vipras and the brahmanas. The vipras are those who are expert in karma-kanda, or fruitive activities, guiding the society towards fulfilling the material necessities of life, whereas the brahmanas are expert in spiritual knowledge of transcendence. This department of knowledge is called jnana-kanda, and above this there is the upasana-kanda. The culmination of upasana-kanda is the devotional service of the Lord Visnu, and when the brahmanas achieve perfection, they are called Vaisnavas. Visnu worship is the highest of the modes of worship. Elevated brahmanas are Vaisnavas engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, and thus Srimad-Bhagavatam, which is the science of devotional service, is very dear to the Vaisnavas. And as explained in the beginning of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, it is the mature fruit of Vedic knowledge and is superior subject matter, above the three kandas, namely karma, jnana and upasana.
Amongst the karma-kanda experts, the jataka expert vipras were good astrologers who could tell all the future history of a born child simply by the astral calculations of the time (lagna). Such expert jataka-vipras were present during the birth of Maharaja Pariksit, and his grandfather, Maharaja Yudhisthira, awarded the vipras sufficiently with gold, land, villages, grains and other valuable necessaries of life, which also include cows. There is a need of such vipras in the social structure, and it is the duty of the state to maintain them comfortably, as designed in the Vedic procedure. Such expert vipras, being sufficiently paid by the state, could give free service to the people in general, and thus this department of Vedic knowledge could be available for all.
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