na teṣāṁ satya-śīlānām
āśiṣo viphalāḥ kṛtāḥ
iti bālakam ādāya
hutvā cāgniṁ dvijātibhyaḥ
prādād annaṁ mahā-guṇam
ye—those brāhmaṇas who; asūya—envy; anṛta—untruthfulness; dambha—false pride; īrṣā—grudges; hiṁsā—being disturbed by the opulence of others; māna—false prestige; vivarjitāḥ—completely devoid of; na—not; teṣām—of such brāhmaṇas; satya-śīlānām—who are endowed with perfect brahminical qualifications (satya, śama, dama, etc.); āśiṣaḥ—the blessings; viphalāḥ—useless; kṛtāḥ—have become; iti—considering all these things; bālakam—the child; ādāya—taking care of; sāma—according to the Sāma Veda; ṛk—according to the Ṛg Veda; yajuḥ—and according to the Yajur Veda; upākṛtaiḥ—purified by such means; jalaiḥ—with water; pavitra-auṣadhibhiḥ—mixed with pure herbs; abhiṣicya—after bathing (the child); dvija-uttamaiḥ—with ceremonies performed by first-class brāhmaṇas with the above qualifications; vācayitvā—requested to be chanted; svasti-ayanam—auspicious hymns; nanda-gopaḥ—Mahārāja Nanda, the head of the cowherd men; samāhitaḥ—liberal and good; hutvā—after offering oblations; ca—also; agnim—unto the sacred fire; dvijātibhyaḥ—unto those first-class brāhmaṇas; prādāt—gave in charity; annam—food grains; mahā-guṇam—excellent.
When brāhmaṇas are free from envy, untruthfulness, unnecessary pride, grudges, disturbance by the opulence of others, and false prestige, their blessings never go in vain. Considering this, Nanda Mahārāja soberly took Kṛṣṇa on his lap and invited such truthful brāhmaṇas to perform a ritualistic ceremony according to the holy hymns of the Sāma Veda, Ṛg Veda and Yajur Veda. Then, while the hymns were being chanted, he bathed the child with water mixed with pure herbs, and after performing a fire ceremony, he sumptuously fed all the brāhmaṇas with first-class grains and other food.
Nanda Mahārāja was very confident about the qualifications of the brāhmaṇas and their blessings. He was fully confident that simply if the good brāhmaṇas showered their blessings, the child Kṛṣṇa would be happy. The blessings of qualified brāhmaṇas can bring happiness not only to Kṛṣṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, but to everyone. Because Kṛṣṇa is self-sufficient, He does not require anyone’s blessings, yet Nanda Mahārāja thought that Kṛṣṇa required the blessings of the brāhmaṇas. What then is to be said of others? In human society, therefore, there must be an ideal class of men, brāhmaṇas, who can bestow blessings upon others, namely, upon the kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras, so that everyone will be happy. Kṛṣṇa therefore says in Bhagavad-gītā (4.13) that human society must have four social orders (cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ); it is not that everyone should become a śūdra or a vaiśya and human society will prosper. As enunciated in Bhagavad-gītā, there must be a class of brāhmaṇas with qualities like satya (truthfulness), śama (peacefulness), dama (self-control) and titikṣā (tolerance).
Here also, in the Bhāgavatam, Nanda Mahārāja invites qualified brāhmaṇas. There may be caste brāhmaṇas, and we have all respect for them, but their birth in brāhmaṇa families does not mean that they are qualified to bestow blessings upon the other members of human society. This is the verdict of the śāstras. In Kali-yuga, caste brāhmaṇas are accepted as brāhmaṇas. Vipratve sūtram eva hi (Bhāg. 12.2.3): in Kali-yuga, simply by putting on a thread worth two paise, one becomes a brāhmaṇa. Such brāhmaṇas were not called for by Nanda Mahārāja. As stated by Nārada Muni (Bhāg. 7.11.35), yasya yal lakṣaṇaṁ proktam. The symptoms of a brāhmaṇa are stated in śāstra, and one must be qualified with these symptoms.
The blessings of brāhmaṇas who are not envious, disturbed or puffed up with pride and false prestige and who are fully qualified with truthfulness will be useful. Therefore a class of men must be trained as brāhmaṇas from the very beginning. Brahmacārī guru-kule vasan dānto guror hitam (Bhāg. 7.12.1). The word dāntaḥ is very important. Dāntaḥ refers to one who is not envious, disturbing or puffed up with false prestige. With the Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement, we are trying to introduce such brāhmaṇas in society. Brāhmaṇas must ultimately be Vaiṣṇavas, and if one is a Vaiṣṇava, he has already acquired the qualifications of a brāhmaṇa. Brahma-bhūtaḥ prasannātmā (Bg. 18.54). The word brahma-bhūta refers to becoming a brāhmaṇa, or understanding what is Brahman (brahma jānātīti brāhmaṇaḥ). One who is brahma-bhūta is always happy (prasannātmā). Na śocati na kāṅkṣati: he is never disturbed about material necessities. Samaḥ sarveṣu bhūteṣu: he is ready to bestow blessings upon everyone equally. Mad-bhaktiṁ labhate parām: [Bg. 18.54] then he becomes a Vaiṣṇava. In this age, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura introduced the sacred thread ceremony for his Vaiṣṇava disciples, with the idea that people should understand that when one becomes a Vaiṣṇava he has already acquired the qualifications of a brāhmaṇa. Therefore in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, those who are twice initiated so as to become brāhmaṇas must bear in mind their great responsibility to be truthful, control the mind and senses, be tolerant, and so on. Then their life will be successful. It was such brāhmaṇas that Nanda Mahārāja invited to chant the Vedic hymns, not ordinary brāhmaṇas. Verse thirteen distinctly mentions hiṁsā-māna. The word māna refers to false prestige or false pride. Those who were falsely proud, thinking that they were brāhmaṇas because they were born in brāhmaṇa families, were never invited by Nanda Mahārāja on such occasions.
Verse fourteen mentions pavitrauṣadhi. In any ritualistic ceremony, many herbs and leaves were required. These were known as pavitra-patra. Sometimes there were nimba leaves, sometimes bael leaves, mango leaves, aśvattha leaves or āmalakī leaves. Similarly, there were pañca-gavya, pañca-śasya and pañca-ratna. Although Nanda Mahārāja belonged to the vaiśya community, everything was known to him.
The most important word in these verses is mahā-guṇam, indicating that the brāhmaṇas were offered very palatable food of exalted quality. Such palatable dishes were generally prepared with two things, namely food grains and milk products. Bhagavad-gītā (18.44) therefore enjoins that human society must give protection to the cows and encourage agriculture (kṛṣi-go-rakṣya-vāṇijyaṁ vaiśya-karma svabhāvajam). Simply by expert cooking, hundreds and thousands of palatable dishes can be prepared from agricultural produce and milk products. This is indicated here by the words annaṁ mahā-guṇam. Still today in India, from these two things, namely food grains and milk, hundreds and thousands of varieties of food are prepared, and then they are offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. (Catur-vidha-śrī-bhagavat-prasāda. patraṁ puṣpaṁ phalaṁ toyaṁ yo me bhaktyā prayacchati .) Then the prasāda is distributed. Even today in Jagannātha-kṣetra and other big temples, very palatable dishes are offered to the Deity, and prasāda is distributed profusely. Cooked by first-class brāhmaṇas with expert knowledge and then distributed to the public, this prasāda is also a blessing from the brāhmaṇas or Vaiṣṇavas. There are four kinds of prasāda (catur-vidha). Salty, sweet, sour and pungent tastes are made with different types of spices, and the food is prepared in four divisions, called carvya, cūṣya, lehya and pehya—prasāda that is chewed, prasāda that is licked, prasāda tasted with the tongue, and prasāda that is drunk. Thus there are many varieties of prasāda, prepared very nicely with grains and ghee, offered to the Deity and distributed to the brāhmaṇas and Vaiṣṇavas and then to the general public. This is the way of human society. Killing the cows and spoiling the land will not solve the problem of food. This is not civilization. Uncivilized men living in the jungle and being unqualified to produce food by agriculture and cow protection may eat animals, but a perfect human society advanced in knowledge must learn how to produce first-class food simply by agriculture and protection of cows.
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