“Nanda Maharaja said: My dear great sage, if you think that your performing this process of purification will make Kamsa suspicious, then secretly chant the Vedic hymns and perform the purifying process of second birth here in the cow shed of my house, without the knowledge of anyone else, even my relatives, for this process of purification is essential.” (Shrimad Bhagavatam, 10.8.10)
अलक्षितो ’स्मिन् रहसि
मामकैर् अपि गो-व्रजे
alakṣito ’smin rahasi
māmakair api go-vraje
An intelligent person is grateful. They are automatically so; no reminders necessary. In the Ramayana, we see Lakshmana use his brother’s gratefulness as one of the reasons to follow. Lakshmana and Rama’s wife Sita will follow Rama to the ends of the earth, if necessary. They understand that He never forgets a kind act done in His favor.
अहमस्यावरो भ्राता गुणैर्दास्यमुपागतः
कृतज्ञस्य बहुज्ञस्य लक्ष्मणो नाम नामतः
ahamasyāvaro bhrātā guṇairdāsyamupāgataḥ
kṛtajñasya bahujñasya lakṣmaṇo nāma nāmataḥ
“I am His younger brother, Lakshmana by name. Due to His transcendental qualities, I have taken up service to Him, as He is grateful and very knowledgeable.” (Lakshmana speaking to Hanuman about Rama, Valmiki Ramayana, Kishkindha Kand, 4.12)
In this light, a saintly person has tremendous affection and appreciation for their parents. They inherently understand that in the infancy stage the human being has no other support. They cannot do anything on their own. In most cases, the mother makes the greatest sacrifice.
She is with the child constantly. Little chance to sit back and sleep for hours, uninterrupted. No freedom from responsibility; at least not until the child goes to school or is placed in someone else’s care for a considerable portion of the day. In the modern day, the mother may even be called to duty to support the family financially.
The infant relies on the work of the father and the protection he provides to the entire family. Even if there is turmoil, argument, or general difficulty in dealings with the father later on in life, the saintly person cannot forget the efforts from the past.
The genuine brahmana of the Vedic tradition has appreciation for a different set of parents. They may even downplay the significance of the birth mother and father as a way to put the priorities into perspective. The common teaching is that every person has biological parents, but to receive the gifts from above for becoming a dvija is rare.
1. Vedic literature
The Sanskrit word is shastra. You can translate as “scripture,” but these works actually predate the written word. They first appear as sound, heard by the creator, Lord Brahma. They later get passed on in written form, when the memory ability in the human society diminishes.
The word dvija means “twice-born.” It is the second birth, so to speak, which is the more important one. The first birth can take place from any womb. Nature’s way, I had no say in where I was born and who my parents would be.
With the second birth, the mother is shastra. This is how the saintly person gets nurtured. They get everything they need from Vedic literature. Sometimes only a single work suffices, such as Shrimad Bhagavatam or Bhagavad-gita.
Shastra is the trusted source for resolving doubts, for settling contradictions, for finding relief during a difficult time, for gaining inspiration in the continuing fight against illusion. Shastra is as benevolent as the birth mother, never forgetting the relationship to the child.
2. The spiritual master
The Sanskrit word is guru. He is the father to the dvija. I could not make sense of shastra without the guru. The spiritual master opens the darkened eyes, helping to escape the illusion and find the light of transcendence.
Like the birth father, the spiritual master may be tough on the disciple. They may demand a lot and not provide much encouragement along the way. This is intentional, to support an output which goes beyond what was previously thought possible. Reaching new heights, exceeding potential, by being pushed instead of patted.
The saintly person appreciates these parents just as much as they do their biological ones. The combination of spiritual master and shastra is the conduit to the Supreme Lord, who is the original seed-giving father of this world.
मूर्तयः सम्भवन्ति याः
तासां ब्रह्म महद् योनिर्
अहं बीज-प्रदः पिता
mūrtayaḥ sambhavanti yāḥ
tāsāṁ brahma mahad yonir
ahaṁ bīja-pradaḥ pitā
“It should be understood that all species of life, O son of Kunti, are made possible by birth in this material nature, and that I am the seed-giving father.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 14.4)
The material nature serves as the original mother, and through proper instruction from the second set of parents, the dvija is able to fulfill their duties in the proper way. They may visit householders and provide vital services like offering names to newborns, as was done by Garga Muni in the home of Nanda Maharaja. They help others to advance in the evolution through the stages of life, hopefully culminating with liberation, which is the end to the cycle of birth and death.
For dvija new mother and father too,
Providing for second birth who.
More important required,
Since towards liberation inspired.
Shastra nurturing and with wisdom packed,
Through guru those meanings extract.
Then benevolently traveling where,
Glories of Narayana to share.
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