Spiritual identification over bodily parameters

by Neel Krishna Prabhu at ISKCON Chowpatty

SB 01.18.18
sūta uvāca
aho vayaṁ janma-bhṛto ’dya hāsma
vṛddhānuvṛttyāpi viloma-jātāḥ
dauṣkulyam ādhiṁ vidhunoti śīghraṁ
mahattamānām abhidhāna-yogaḥ

Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī said: O God, although we are born in a mixed caste, we are still promoted in birthright simply by serving and following the great who are advanced in knowledge. Even by conversing with such great souls, one can without delay cleanse oneself of all disqualifications resulting from lower births.

Sūta Gosvāmī did not take his birth in a brāhmaṇa family. He was born in a family of mixed caste, or an uncultured low family. But because of higher association, like Śrī Śukadeva Gosvāmī and the great ṛṣis of Naimiṣāraṇya, certainly the disqualification of inferior birth was washed off. Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu followed this principle in pursuance of the Vedic usages, and by His transcendental association He elevated many lowborn, or those disqualified by birth or action, to the status of devotional service and established them in the position of ācāryas, or authorities. He clearly stated that any man, whatever he may be, whether a brāhmaṇa or śūdra by birth, or a householder or mendicant in the order of society, if he is conversant with the science of Kṛṣṇa, he can be accepted as an ācārya or guru, a spiritual master.

Sūta Gosvāmī learned the science of Kṛṣṇa from great ṛṣis and authorities like Śukadeva and Vyāsadeva and he was so qualified that even the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya eagerly wanted to hear from him the science of Kṛṣṇa in the form of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. So he had the double association of great souls by hearing and preaching. Transcendental science, or the science of Kṛṣṇa, has to be learned from the authorities, and when one preaches the science, he becomes still more qualified. So Sūta Gosvāmī had both the advantages, and thus undoubtedly he was completely freed from all disqualifications of low birth and mental agonies. This verse definitely proves that Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī did not refuse to teach Sūta Gosvāmī about the transcendental science nor did the sages of Naimiṣāraṇya refuse to hear lessons from him because of his inferior birth. This means that thousands of years ago there was no bar to learning or preaching the transcendental science because of inferior birth. The rigidity of the so-called caste system in Hindu society became prominent within only one hundred years or so when the number of dvija-bandhus, or disqualified men in the families of higher castes, increased. Lord Śrī Caitanya revived the original Vedic system, and He elevated Ṭhākura Haridāsa to the position of nāmācārya, or the authority in preaching the glories of the holy name of the Lord, although His Holiness Śrīla Haridāsa Ṭhākura was pleased to appear in a family of Mohammedans.

Such is the power of pure devotees of the Lord. The Ganges water is accepted as pure, and one can become purified after taking a bath in the waters of the Ganges. But as far as the great devotees of the Lord are concerned, they can purify a degraded soul even by being seen by the lowborn, and what to speak of association. Lord Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu wanted to purify the whole atmosphere of the polluted world by sending qualified preachers all over the world, and it remains with the Indians to take up this task scientifically and thus do the best kind of humanitarian work. The mental diseases of the present generation are more acute than bodily diseases; it is quite fit and proper to take up the preaching of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam all over the world without delay. Mahattamānām abhidhāna also means dictionary of great devotees, or a book full of the words of great devotees. Such a dictionary of the words of great devotees and those of the Lord are in the Vedas and allied literatures, specifically the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam.

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