“Among the Daitya demons I am the devoted Prahlada; among subduers I am time; among the beasts I am the lion, and among birds I am Garuda, the feathered carrier of Vishnu.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.30)
It’s big news. The new leader of the spiritual institution has reversed course. The past policy was in place for centuries. No one dared challenge it. It was accepted, blindly. Isn’t that what faith is? If you can challenge, if you have doubts borne of logic and reasoning, then why not stay outside the religion? Faith is the dividing line between the believers and the atheists.
The change the leader has made relates to who is eligible for salvation. Previously, only those who acknowledged their faith in the institution could expect to see the best afterlife. Now it is supposedly open to everyone. How is this possible? Even those of other faiths, who put trust in other books and saviors, can reach the same place?
This makes sense to those who understand the science behind spirituality. That understanding goes beyond faith. The truths are believed with the same certainty that one has in the law of gravity and the predictability in the timing of the seasons.
The Sanskrit term svartha refers to interest in the present lifetime. Paramartha is for the afterlife. Prahlada Maharaja reveals that the actual self-interest of the individual is to go towards Vishnu, who is the personal God. Prahlada Maharaja was in the body of a five-year old boy at the time. He also belonged to a race of people known for atheism. Just as he was eligible for reaching the supreme destination, so are people from other groups not typically associated with elevated consciousness.
1. All four varnas
This is a group within a group. The Sanskrit word varna means “color.” It is a kind of distinction. When discussing varnashrama-dharma, which is the more complete definition to what passes today as Hinduism, varna refers to an occupation. The division in occupations is based on gunas, which are material qualities. Each person has a certain quality-set they inherit at the time of birth. That is what makes distinctions, or vishesha.
Qualities aren’t the lone factor. There is karma, too. This is fruitive activity. Based on gunas and karma a person is suited to be a priest, a brave leader, a businessman, or a laborer. There are varieties within each division, but these four groups have existed since the beginning of time. The four divisions have their origin in God.
“According to the three modes of material nature and the work ascribed to them, the four divisions of human society were created by Me. And, although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 4.13)
Typically, the brahmanas get the most respect. They are the priestly class, and their qualities are commendable and desirable. The real brahmanas are clean, pure, detached, compassionate, and knowledgeable. The summit of their knowledge is Brahman, which is the undifferentiated spiritual energy. The brahmana knows about distinctions, but they also see the spiritual equality in all beings.
The brahmanas live in the mode of goodness, and with the other three groups the lower modes of nature enter the picture. When there is passion and ignorance, the paramartha is typically in the earthly realm. Nevertheless, all four groups are eligible to reach the supreme destination. Even a person who has little understanding of spirit can go to Vishnu.
A material estimation is made on births, based on the potential for understanding Brahman. Women are considered to have a low chance of understanding the equality of spirit. The same goes for those in the two lower varnas, vaishyas and shudras.
“O son of Pritha, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth – women, vaishyas [merchants], as well as shudras [workers] – can approach the supreme destination.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.32)
From history we see that some of the greatest devotees have been women. A simple boatman earned the tremendous opportunity to wash the lotus feet of the Supreme Lord in His incarnation of Rama. Thus even those without a high potential for understanding spiritual topics have a chance for reaching the supreme destination, param gatim.
These are considered the worst of the worst. A person has sunk so low that they will eat an animal that usually offers so much service to the human society. Milk, fruits and grains are in abundance, so there is no reason to degrade the consciousness by eating food not fit for human consumption. Still, even the dog-eater has a link to God on the inside, which means they can reconnect in consciousness at any time.
These are man-eaters. The behavior is intentional, making them most sinful. Rakshasas were prominent during the reign of Ravana, the king of Lanka. That leader instructed his associates to go and disturb the religious activities of the brahmanas living in the forests. The Rakshasas obliged, killing and eating on a repeat basis. We know that Ravana achieved liberation by dying directly at the hands of Rama.
The reason the different groups can reach the imperishable heavenly realm is that bhakti is superior to any kind of activity, material or religious. Every person has that devotion to God inside of them. The gunas accepted at the time of birth determine the probability for reconnecting, but the opportunity is always there. The chance meeting with the bona fide spiritual master can change everything. The person with the least potential can overcome great obstacles through the favor of His Divine Grace, who recommends staying with God now and in the future through the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Bhakti recommended by Divine Grace,
So powerful even odds can erase.
Like when born in form considered lower,
Where difficult to become realized knower.
Since rope-like gunas binding,
Then work of kama finding.
Women, even untouchables who at not to glance,
All for God’s favor given the chance.
Categories: the four