Srimad Bhagavatam 11.02.51 - High Birth Can Lead Pride in Devotees Life (download mp3)
by Sridama Sakha Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty
na yasya janma-karmabhyam
sajjate ’sminn aham-bhavo
dehe vai sa hareh priyah
Birth in an aristocratic family and the execution of austere and pious activities certainly cause one to take pride in himself. Similarly, if one enjoys a prestigious position within society because his parents are highly respected members of the varnasrama social system, one becomes even more infatuated with himself. But if despite these excellent material qualifications one does not feel even a tinge of pride within himself, he is to be considered the dearmost servitor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
According to Srila Sridhara Svami, the word janma (“good birth”) refers to such classes as the murdhavasiktas (children of brahmana fathers and ksatriya mothers) and ambasthas (children of brahmana fathers and vaisya mothers), both of which are considered anuloma since the father comes from a higher caste. Marriages in which the mother comes from a higher class than the father are called pratiloma. In any case, one who becomes proud of his so-called prestigious birth is certainly in the bodily concept of life. Birth in any material body is a serious problem, which one should solve by surrendering to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One can thereby release himself from the golden shackles of a so-called aristocratic material body.
According to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, kanistha-adhikaris think that karma-misra bhakti, or devotional service mixed with material endeavor, is the ultimate in spiritual life. They become attached to verses such as this:
purusena parah puman
visnur aradhyate pantha
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Visnu, is worshiped by the proper execution of prescribed duties in the system of varna and asrama. There is no other way to satisfy the Supreme Personality of Godhead. One must be situated in the institution of the four varnas and asramas.” (Visnu Purana 3.8.9) Thus they think that material work in which a portion of the fruits are offered to God forms the highest platform of human life. According to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, there are several smrti literatures that have encouraged such mixed devotional service. Such books are taken by materialistic devotees as facility for offending the holy name of the Lord because of egotistic attachment to the material body. Thus one thinks that a prestigious position in the varnasrama system according to birth and so-called pious activities is a prerequisite for becoming successful in life.
But those who have actually taken shelter of the holy name of Krsna never boast about their birth in the material world, nor do they pride themselves on their so-called expertise in material work. As long as one’s mentality is encumbered by the material designations of the varnasrama system, one has very little chance of becoming free from material bondage and establishing himself as dear to the Lord. In this regard, Caitanya Mahaprabhu emphatically declared that He could not identify Himself with any varnasrama designation, such as that of a great intellectual or priest, a courageous warrior in the Lord’s army, a brilliant businessman making money for the Lord, or the hardest worker for the Lord. Nor could Caitanya Mahaprabhu identify Himself as a stalwart brahmacari, a noble householder or an exalted sannyasi. These designations reflect the material pride that can infiltrate the execution of devotional service. Although a devotee may carry out the standard duties of varnasrama, his only designation is gopi-bhartuh pada-kamalayor dasa-dasanudasah, the eternal servant of the servant of the servant of the Lord, the master of the gopis, Krsna.
According to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura, when a devotee understands that the process of bhakti-yoga is complete in itself and he becomes absorbed in hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord, the supremely merciful Personality of Godhead affectionately lifts such a first-class devotee onto His own lap. The Supreme Lord can be pleased only by unalloyed devotion, and not by any arrangement of the gross body, composed of five material elements, or the subtle body, composed of innumerable speculations and bogus pride. In other words, Lord Krsna can never be pleased by one’s so-called aristocratic body, which is due to be devoured by worms or vultures. If one becomes proud of his material birth and so-called pious activities, by such false pride one gradually develops the impersonal mentality of merely renouncing the fruit of work or else the karmi mentality of enjoying the fruits of work. Neither the karmis nor the jñani speculators are aware that the fruit of work actually belongs to Krsna. The conclusion is that one should carefully give up all false pride and always remember that he is a humble servant of Krsna. As stated by Caitanya Mahaprabhu, amanina manadena kirtaniyah sada harih.