Qualifications of a Brahmana
A Brahmana means one who understands Shastra, so as to realize Brahman, the Ultimate reality.
One has to satisfy fundamental criteria to qualify as a Brahmana according to the Scriptures.
A Brahmana is to understand the basic tenets of Shastra and apply them in his life to qualify as a true aspirant of Truth.
Maharshi Vishwamitra was born in a Kshatriya community.
But he performed severe penances and satisfied the Lord.
In return, he attained the blessings of Sage Vashishtha before he attained the title of Brahmarishi or “Knower of Brahman”.
He was the rarest among all beings because he attained Brahminhood in that very life.
His body and mind transformed from that of a Kshatriya king to a Brahmin.
This is one such state, where through penance, one can attain brahminhood in this very lifetime, wherein the body undergoes a transformation at the very core level.
However, today people are unable to resist their senses.
So, there is a strict criterion that one has to be born in the family of practicing Brahmanas.
The second criteria are that the person should do those activities enjoined in the Shastra, befitting a Brahmana.
The Karma (actions) and the Gunas (nature) of the individual should reflect that he is a Brahmana from every angle.
Only then can one qualify as a Brahmana.
A true Brahmana cannot be recognized by the imperfect society.
Instead, only Brahman or Paramatman can recognize a person as a Brahmana.
A Brahmana has to first prove his Brahminhood by his Actions, Karma.
Changing Times and the Varna Ashrama Dharma
According to Shastra Brahmanas, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras have fixed duties.
This is the ultimate position of Shastra.
These fixed duties seem to have altered with time, depending on the demands of the modern world.
But it is important to dwell upon the essence of the instructions of Shastra and not literally take them and try to implement them.
That would be an impossible task and also never practical.
In this article, We will try to explain the Varna Ashrama Dharma in the modern context and see how one can perform “perfect Karma”.
True Meaning of a Brahmana
A Brahmana, according to Shastra is one who is capable of knowing Brahman or one who knows Brahman, the Ultimate reality.
A Brahmin is one who is born with certain Gunas, certain Samskaras, and with certain ordained duties, right at the time of birth.
However, one who is born in other Varnas (Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras), can gravitate towards Brahman or the Supreme Being through their virtuous actions and commitment to Truth.
This is the true meaning of qualifying as a Brahmana.
Nobody recognizes a Brahmana only by birth.
He has to qualify through his thought, word, and deeds.
Only when we harmonize these three principles and tune ourselves to Brahman, can we attain liberation.
The Duties of Brahmin
A Brahmana is a person who has a soft heart.
He has six types of duties that he must perform, failing which, the pure society and Providence recognizes him as a “Shudra”.
He is recognized as a misaligned person working in a direction opposite to Brahman or the Supreme Being.
A Brahmana, according to Shastra has to
(3) Offer a Yajna
(4) Officiate a Yajna
(5) Accept Gifts
(6) Offer Gifts.
All these 6 activities should be in concurrence with the Scriptures.
We shall deal with the above activities, apparently obsolete in the modern context.
But, when we look deeper, they have the most significance in the current day.
Only thing is that we have lost our vision.
Now we shall discuss the 6 Duties of a Brahmana in brief
1) Study the Vedas
A person who is from the Brahmana class, who has undergone Yajnopaveetam and performing Sandhyavandanam is qualified to undertake the 6 tasks assigned to him by the Shastra.
The study of the Vedas in ancient times was a scientific process, including the practitioner reciting the shlokas in the right meter, tone, and pitch.
However, this science is no more prevalent and has gone extinct in the Brahmin community.
But, we do have access to Puranas, which are offshoots of the Vedas.
So, the Dharma of a Brahmana in modern times should be first to study scriptures such as Ramayana, Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita, and the Shrimad Bhagavatham.
Read how much ever you can.
But continue reading it every day, as a lifelong practice.
This shall satisfy the first duty of a Brahmana in modern times.
A Brahmana can have a two-pronged approach towards teaching.
Initially, Brahmanas were transmitters of the Vedic scriptures.
They used to educate young boys to recite the Vedic Scriptures.
However today, this too has gone extinct.
So, teaching in the modern-day context would be to teach material subjects like Maths, Science, Linguistics, etc.
However, the mood should be of service.
In return, you can demand a small fee for your service, in order to maintain your family.
In olden times, the teachings of the Vedas were free and the disciple used to offer Guru Dakshina.
However, if you are well versed with the scriptures you can transmit its knowledge, which will be more in line with the Varnashrama Dharma.
Teaching in institutions and schools does not qualify as the duty of a Brahmana.
Because a Brahmana should never work under others or work for profits.
3) Offer A Yajna
A Brahmana should offer a Yajna. Yajna means Sacrifice.
In the Vedic times, till the days of early Kali Yuga, Brahmanas performed the fire Sacrifice known as Agnihotra.
He is supposed to offer oblations to his ancestors and Pitrs and Feed the Cow.
This qualifies as Yajna.
In modern times, these sacrifices are no more carried out because of a lack of time, resources, opportunities, and social pressure.
The Yajna that a Brahmana should carry out an alternative is adherence to the policy of Truthfulness and fairness.
When a Brahmana serves Truth, without any selfish motive, for the sake of ascending on the Path leading to Moksha, this is considered a sacrifice.
The Brahmana should naturally develop the quality of giving and sharing. Only a person who is ready to give up his claim on the materials of the world is a Brahmana by heart.
4) Officiates a Yajna
In the olden days, a pure Brahmana would officiate Yajnas for the sake of the other three Varnas namely Kshatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shudras.
The Brahmana would conduct Vedic ceremonies and guide the other three Varnas so that 16 Samskaras right from birth to death were conducted for the people belonging to the other sections of society.
In the modern context, a Brahmana should set the highest standards for Truth.
He should work in propagating the Truths of the Vedic Scriptures and highlight to the general public the pitfalls of Life in the World and teach them the skills to live a life dedicated to the highest cause, Liberation.
This is one of the greatest sacrifices that a Brahmana should make, devoting a few hours of the day, for the welfare of society.
Before a Brahmana qualifies himself as a preacher, he himself should adhere to the norms of the Shastra and lead a life of Truth and straightforwardness.
The Brahmana should learn to walk the talk first and then take up the mantle, to contribute to society.
It is important that when a Brahmana takes up such a position, he should not fall prey to name, position, and possession.
He should offer all the social welfare activities as sacrifices at the feet of the Lord.
This is Yajna for the Brahmana in the modern world.
5) Accept Gifts
A Brahmana in the olden days was allowed to accept gifts, officiating Yajna, or performing social welfare activities for the sake of the betterment of mankind.
In the modern context, a Brahmana may accept gifts.
But he should take care that no Vedic principles are compromised.
He can only accept gifts and not demand gifts.
Demanding gifts will be considered as thievery for a Brahmana.
Anybody who wishes to offer money out of love or appreciation of a Brahmana’s selfless service can be accepted.
The Brahmana should consciously try to reject gifts and not make it a habit of expecting and accepting gifts for no rhyme or reason.
When a Brahmana keeps a high standard of Truth and conscience, it will be the responsibility of the Lord himself to compensate the Brahmana.
A Brahmana should only depend on the will of the Lord and depend on him completely for his sustenance.
In this mood, if there are some gifts that come along his way, he should accept it as a gift from the Lord.
6) Offer Gifts
A Brahmana should offer gifts and donations to other Brahmanas.
He should conduct ceremonies such as reading the Shrimad Bhagavatham, Ramcharita Manas and then offer gifts to other Brahmins.
He should also offer donations to other welfare activities.
But, there are Rules for Making Donations as well.
He should consciously visit Sages and Seers and take their blessings.
The ideal Brahmana is the one who takes care of the basic needs of elevated beings and protects them as the son takes care of his father.
By doing this the Brahmana averts different types of Karmic reactions.
Thanks for reading!