TEXT 29
iti rājña upādiśya
viprā jātaka-kovidāḥ
labdhāpacitayaḥ sarve
pratijagmuḥ svakān gṛhān
SYNONYMS
iti—thus; rājñe—unto the King; upādiśya—having advised; viprāḥ—persons well versed in the Vedas; jātaka-kovidāḥ—persons expert in astrology and in the performance of birth ceremonies; labdha-apacitayaḥ—those who had received sumptuously as remuneration; sarve—all of them; pratijagmuḥ—went back; svakān—their own; gṛhān—houses.
TRANSLATION
Thus those who were expert in astrological knowledge and in performance of the birth ceremony instructed King Yudhiṣṭhira about the future history of his child. Then, being sumptuously remunerated, they all returned to their respective homes.
PURPORT
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 brāhmaṇas, 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 Droṇācārya, Kṛpācārya, etc.
The word vipra mentioned herein is significant. There is a little difference between the vipras and the brāhmaṇas. The vipras are those who are expert in karma-kāṇḍa, or fruitive activities, guiding the society towards fulfilling the material necessities of life, whereas the brāhmaṇas are expert in spiritual knowledge of transcendence. This department of knowledge is called jñāna-kāṇḍa, and above this there is the upāsanā-kāṇḍa. The culmination of upāsanā-kāṇḍa is the devotional service of the Lord Viṣṇu, and when the brāhmaṇas achieve perfection, they are called Vaiṣṇavas. Viṣṇu worship is the highest of the modes of worship. Elevated brāhmaṇas are Vaiṣṇavas engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, and thus Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, which is the science of devotional service, is very dear to the Vaiṣṇavas. And as explained in the beginning of the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, it is the mature fruit of Vedic knowledge and is superior subject matter, above the three kāṇḍas, namely karma, jñāna and upāsanā.
Amongst the karma-kāṇḍa experts, the jātaka 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 jātaka-vipras were present during the birth of Mahārāja Parīkṣit, and his grandfather, Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira, 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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