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How do you define a brahmana?

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Expressions researched:
"How do you define a brahmana"

Conversations and Morning Walks

1972 Conversations and Morning Walks

The brain.
Room Conversation -- June 29, 1972, San Diego:

Guest (2): Yes but what is the basis on which you decide whether a cause is right or wrong? There should be a common basis. You see.

Prabhupāda: Just like aggressor. Aggressor. Just like you are living in this room. If somebody enters your room and attacks your wife, you must fight. You immediately kill him. That is the law. This is fight. You cannot see your wife being insulted before you. You must fight. You must kill him. That is the law. Aggressor.

Guest (2): Does this apply to the brāhmaṇas?

Prabhupāda: You should fight... No, brāhmaṇas will not fight. the kṣatriyas will fight. The brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, they are part and parcel of the same unit. Just like hand. Hand is the part of your body. When there is attack, you first of all spread your hand. So this is kṣatriya's business. When somebody is coming to attack you, you don't put your legs, you put your hands. And the hand is raised by the order of the brain. And the hand and the brain is maintained by the belly. Why don't you study your own body? As in your own body there is brahminical department, there is kṣatriya department, vaiśya department and śūdra department... (laughter) But nobody is less important.

Guest (2): How do you define a brāhmaṇa?

Prabhupāda: The brain.

Guest (2): That is for a man, but...

Prabhupāda: That is for everything. The brain of the society should be brāhmaṇa.

Guest (2): By brain what do you mean?

Prabhupāda: What do you mean, that you learn. You come to our school. Then you learn. You cannot learn everything in one minute.

Guest (2): (laughs) No.

Prabhupāda: Then you just hear. Don't make yourself laughing stock.

Guest (2): No, what I mean is brāhmaṇa means by birth or by action or...

Prabhupāda: No, no. Not by birth. By action.

Guest (2): By action only.

Prabhupāda: Yes.

Guest (2): You don't recognize brāhmaṇas by birth, then.

Prabhupāda: No no. Then how they are becoming brāhmaṇas? They are not by birth brāhmaṇa? Why don't you see yourself? They are brāhmaṇa.

Guest (2): So if there is a brāhmaṇa by birth, if he doesn't...

Prabhupāda: No, there is no brāhmaṇa by birth. That is not sanctioned by the śāstra.

Guest (2): Oh, I see. So there is no real brāhmaṇa by birth.

Prabhupāda: No. There is no... That is not sanctioned by the śāstra. That is artificial.

Guest (2): I see. So according to you...

Prabhupāda: Brāhmaṇas means by quality. He must have the brahminical quality, then he's brāhmaṇa.

Guest (2): So under these principles then, there are no brāhmaṇas in India, really, then.

Prabhupāda: Yes. At the... Not only...

Guest (2): Not all the brāhmaṇas who are supposed to be brāhmaṇas.

Prabhupāda: Yes. We... Our... This philosophy, Kṛṣṇa consciousness, according to the Bhagavad-gītā and Bhāgavata, we don't accept brāhmaṇa by birth. We accept brāhmaṇa by quality. Cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ (BG 4.13). Quality and work.

Guest (2): What are your qualifications for a śūdra?

Prabhupāda: Śūdra is serving others. Get some salary and be satisfied. That's all. He has no more culture. That is śūdra. He cannot live independently. Anyone who serves others for his livelihood, he's a śūdra. A brāhmaṇa never serves anyone, a kṣatriya never serves anyone, a vaiśya never serves anyone. A śūdra... Paricaryātmakaṁ karma śūdrasyāpi svabhāva-jam (BG 18.44). They want some service: "Give me some money, sir. I am helpless." "All right, you work like this." That is śūdra.

Guest (2): So in other words, all dependent employees, they're all śūdras.

Prabhupāda: Yes. That is the statement of the śāstra. Kalau śūdra-sambhavaḥ: "In the Kali-yuga everyone is śūdra."

Guest (2): So only those who have independent means, then, would come in the...

Prabhupāda: They can be counted, yes. Because a brāhmaṇa is advised not to accept service at any circumstances. That is the injunction of the śāstra. He can take the profession of a kṣatriya or a vaiśya, but not the śūdra. That is brāhmaṇa.

Guest (2): So whoever cannot stand on his own legs as an independent businessman or landlord or whatever it be, he's a śūdra.

Prabhupāda: Yes. These are described in the Bhagavad-gītā. I have not manufactured these things. These are śāstra, that "He's brāhmaṇa,"—the qualification. "He's kṣatriya,"—qualification. "He's vaiśya,"—qualification. "He's śūdra—by qualification." And Nārada Muni says, but we have to judge by the qualification. Yasya yal lakṣaṇaṁ proktaṁ puṁso varṇābhivyañjakam, yad anyatrāpi dṛśyeta tat tenaiva vinirdiśet: (SB 7.11.35) "These are the qualities of different caste. If it is found in other place, you should designate him according to the quality." Just like a man born of a brāhmaṇa family, but if he has got the śūdra qualities, then he should be śūdra. And a man born of a śūdra family, if he has got the qualities of brāhmaṇa, then he must be designated as brāhmaṇa.

Marc +  and Rishab +
July 26, 0011 JL +
June 10, 0012 JL +
BG: 0 +, SB: 0 +, CC: 0 +, OB: 0 +, Lec: 0 +, Conv: 1 +  and Let: 0 +