[Advaita-l] Maha Bharata - Aranya Parva - Ajagara Parva - Brahmana

Durga Prasad Janaswamy janaswami at gmail.com
Fri Oct 22 16:56:40 EDT 2021

Hari Om,

Maha Bharata - Aranya Parva - Ajagara Parva - Brahmana
(Translated by Bibek Debro Y)

‘The serpent asked, “O king! O Yudhishthira! Who is a brahmana and what
should he know? From your words, I think that you are extremely wise.”

‘Yudhishthira replied, “O Indra among serpents! It is said that a brahmana
is one in whom truthfulness, charity, forgiveness, good conduct, lack of
cruelty, self-control and compassion can be seen. O serpent! He obtains
knowledge of the supreme brahman, which is beyond happiness and
unhappiness, and on attaining which, there is no sorrow. What else will you

‘The serpent asked, “Truthfulness and knowledge of the brahman can be found
in all the four varnas. O Yudhishthira! Truthfulness, charity, lack of
anger, lack of cruelty, non-violence and compassion can also be found among
shudras. O lord of men! You have said that the object of knowledge is
beyond happiness and unhappiness. But there is nothing that is free from
either. I do not think such a thing exists.”

‘Yudhishthira replied, “If these traits, not even found in a brahmana, are
seen in a shudra, he is not a shudra. A brahmana in whom a brahmana’s
traits are not found, is a shudra. O serpent! It is said that one in whom
these traits are found is a brahmana. O serpent! One in whom these traits
are not found, is marked as a shudra. Then again, you have said that the
object of knowledge does not exist, because there is nothing that is free
from both those sentiments.  O serpent! It is your view that nothing can
exist without those two. There is a state between cold and heat that is
neither cold nor heat. Like that, there is something in between that is
neither happiness, nor unhappiness. That is my view. O serpent! What do you

‘The serpent said, “O king! O one with a long life! If you assert that a
brahmana is known by his conduct, birth has no meaning, as long as those
characteristics can be seen.”

‘Yudhishthira replied, “O great serpent! O immensely wise one! I think that
among men, birth is difficult to determine, because of mixed birth among
all the varnas. Men always beget children on women from all varnas. All men
are equal in speech, intercourse, birth and death. The proof of this can be
found in the words of the learned rishis, who have said ‘We sacrifice’ and
so on, basing this entirely on conduct. The birth rituals of a man are
performed even before the navel chord has been severed. At that time, the
mother is Savitri and the father is the preceptor.  Before initiation into
knowledge of the Vedas, everyone is a shudra by conduct. When there is a
difference of opinion on this, Svayambhuva Manu has categorically stated,
‘The observance of rituals determines varna. If conduct cannot be seen,
mixed races overwhelmingly dominate.’ O Indra among serpents! O great
serpent! O supreme among serpents! I have earlier defined as a brahmana one
in whom the principles of good conduct are seen.”

Please tell  : What is the implication of the above conversation between
Yudhishthira and the serpent (Nahusha) about Brahmana?

thanks and regards
-- durga

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