“By remembering Shri Rama’s holy name, even those who are born into a low caste become worthy of fame, just as the wild trees that line the roads in the heavenly realm are famous throughout the three worlds.” (Dohavali, 16)
राम नाम सुमिरत सुजस भाजन भए कुजाति |
कुतरूक सुरपुर राजमग लहत भुवन बिख्याति |
rāma nāma sumirata sujasa bhājana bhae kujāti |
kutarūka surapura rājamaga lahata bhuvana bikhyāti |
“Listen, people make a big deal out of the caste system practiced in India, and how it is racist, bigoted, discriminatory, causes oppression, and the like, but the truth is that the same kind of class designations exist throughout the world, and since the beginning of time.
“It was one of the main reasons people fled to what was called the New World in the 17th century. In America, everyone was in a similar status of refugee. It didn’t really matter from where you came, who your parents were, how much land they owned back home, and the like.
“If you were still in England, France and other countries in Europe, class meant everything. If you were a printer by trade, you could never dream of meeting with the king and queen. Yet a famous printer from America did just that. He rose to the heights of aristocracy, never once falling back on his name or family reputation to get him places.
“You would have to admit that there is some validity to the scrutiny, or lack thereof depending on the case. For instance, if someone is born into a family of lawyers, it is understandable that others would take notice. There is some distinction based on the line of work, on the reputation established through previous generations.
“On the other side, if someone is born into a family lacking respect based on occupation, there is some embarrassment. What if I should fall into that category? What if I am ashamed of how my ancestors behaved? What if they were unclean in their habits, uncontrolled with the senses, and lacked a moral foundation upon which to stand? Does that not hurt my chances at spiritual life?”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that no matter the consequence of a particular action in material life, the end-result is always misery. If I am so pious that I ascend to the heavenly realm after death, I eventually have to leave. There is a fixed duration of residency commensurate with pious credits. Once the time runs out, you have to find a way to build up the credits again.
ते तं भुक्त्वा स्वर्ग-लोकं विशालं
क्षीणे पुण्ये मर्त्य-लोकं विशन्ति
एवं त्रयी-धर्मम् अनुप्रपन्ना
गतागतं काम-कामा लभन्ते
te taṁ bhuktvā svarga-lokaṁ viśālaṁ
kṣīṇe puṇye martya-lokaṁ viśanti
evaṁ trayī-dharmam anuprapannā
gatāgataṁ kāma-kāmā labhante
“When they have thus enjoyed heavenly sense pleasure, they return to this mortal planet again. Thus, through the Vedic principles, they achieve only flickering happiness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 9.21)
I may feel a temporary sensation from a successful venture, but since I am still subject to the threefold miseries of life, there is only suffering in my future. This naturally levels the playing field. The person born of a respectable family is suffering just as much as the one who is embarrassed by their family history.
If there is an inferiority complex and a fear that somehow there will be prohibitions on practicing spiritual life based on discrimination, one should remember that the solution to every problem is connecting with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. No person is restricted from genuine yoga, as the basis of the connection is the consciousness.
Goswami Tulsidas explains that when a person chants the holy name of the Lord, which is a form of yoga, they become famous throughout the world. It does not matter if they are born into a low family, kujati.
The saint makes the comparison to the trees lining the streets in the heavenly realm. Because of the nature of the place, even the small, insignificant trees are worthy of honor and respect. They are as much desire-trees as the ones standing tall.
Therefore, even if a person does not receive sufficient acknowledgment from the rest of society, if they are known as a devotee of the Supreme Lord there is nothing to fear. Just as His land, His pastimes, and His names are sacred, so are the people dedicated to Him in thought, word and deed.
Dedicated in thought, word and deed,
Worthy of fame and honor indeed.
Even if from low family coming,
High in status becoming.
Since associated with Rama so,
His shelter only to know.
Otherwise everyone suffering the same,
But equally saved by holy name.