|Chapter 18||Final Revelations of the Ultimate Truth||Verse 48|
Rudra Vaisnava Sampradaya:
If however according to the philosophy of sankhya or analytical reasoning the idea of performing the duty of another is appealing because it is superior to the degradation of killing someone it should be pointed out although superior it is still fraught with the chance of great demerits if performed improperly. So with this in mind one should never abandon their own natural path which is ordained by one's inherent nature from past life actions, even if it is attended with inauspiciousness. All actions and activities yielding visible and invisible results are always accompanied by some defect or other demerit as fire is enveloped by its attendant smoke. Hence by regardless of the smoke the fire is used to remove darkness, cook food and alleviate cold; in the same way by the meritorious parts of all activities alone are to be accepted for the purification of the mind. This is what Lord Krishna means.
Brahma Vaisnava Sampradaya:
Serenity, self-restraint, austerity, purity, forbearance, righteousness, wisdom, knowledge and faith are the natural characteristics found to be the inherent attributes of Brahmins and Vaisnavas. Some of the attributes such as righteousness and wisdom are found in a lesser extent in ksatriyas of the royal, warrior class and in special cases powerful emperors such as Yudhisthira Maharaja who ruled the entire Earth possessed these attributes even equal to that of the Brahmins. King Janaka was renown for possessing great wisdom and forbearance as well as righteousness. King Kartavirya was known to be a saintly seer with knowledge of past, present and future. The ksatriyas in general are courageous, steadfast, fearless, resourceful and righteous. The vaisyas or agriculture and mercantile class are less restrained and austere then the ksatriyas due to always being involved in activities of profit and gain supplying society with the staples of life. Because of their service to others sudras or the menial class are serving the three higher classes. If a sudra is found to possess superior qualities then based on such exemplary attributes he may become qualified to receive initiation and become a Vaisnava Brahmin. Contrarily if one born in a Brahmin family exhibits degraded qualities such a meat eating and wine drinking they have lost their caste and should be known as a sudra. Among humans those that follow righteousness and purity which are divine attributes, follow the path of God.
Now begins the summation.
It is acknowledged that when each class performs their prescribed Vedic activities some attributes from another class have been known to manifest. For example a ksatriya may possess the attributes of serenity and self- restraint for in their absence propitiation to the Supreme Lord is not possible. Devotional activities unto the Supreme Lord require serenity of mind and restraint of the senses to be considered actual worship. This conforms to the earlier maxim that yagna or ritualistic activities of propitiation along with tapah or austerities and danam or charity should never be abandoned. The mind must be tranquil and the senses must be controlled and combined with purity, austerity and righteousness glorifies a ksatriya and are most appropriate and praiseworthy such as Emperor Yudisthira Maharaja's immense wisdom and self restraint or like King Janaka's exemplary equanimity and serenity. Yet the prime duty of ksatriyas is ruling and protecting the citizenry and so to be fearless in times of war never fleeing from the battlefield until victory is secured is what is exceptional and praiseworthy.
The preceding attributes apply to ksatriyas, the attributes of vaisyas are cow raising and cow protection along with farming and mercantile affairs. For the sudras it is loyal service to the other three classes for acquiring sustenance. Brahmins of course study and teach the Vedas, perform yagnas and receive donations. These are the perennial principles established by the Supreme Lord but do not apply to others outside the pantheon of Vedic culture.
Valour, courage, fearlessness, dexterity, resourcefulness, etc. are to be found primarily in ksatriyas, some Brahmins possess such qualities as well, vaisyas may show a little from them in times of adversity and in sudras they hardly exist at all. The Brahmins may exhibit such attributes according to situation but it is not for the sake of livelihood but rather to set an example for society and educate the noble minded. Educating society according to dharma the eternal principles of righteousness is the principle activity of the Vaisnavas and Brahmins to the ksatriyas and vaisyas who learn from them. The sudras are prohibited from studying the Vedic scriptures and thus their duty is to offer service to the other classes as a donation or for renumeration.
Sometimes in extraordinary circumstance due to the force and rapidity of events even the natural attributes have to abandoned and the enactment of contrary activities must be enacted in emergency for example to save one's very life. Other times even those opposed to prescribed Vedic activities participate for their best interests and benefit. Yet for the spiritually qualified and evolved yagnas, tapah and danam must never be abandoned by the Vaisnavas and Brahmins as they are most auspicious and no other acts are more propitious.
Confiscating wealth obtained by unrighteous means, disciplining the disobedient, destroying parasitical economic power, imposing punishment and executions for heinous transgressions are the signs of the mighty and are enforced exclusively under the jurisdiction of the ksatriyas. The mleechas or low caste meat eaters and other outcastes who are not followers of the Vedic culture should be properly governed by the ksatriyas according to a minimum standard of adherence.
The Vaisnavas and Brahmins can punish their disciples without causing any bodily injury. The disciples who have voluntarily accepted the position as celibate student to learn the knowledge of the eternal Vedic scriptures and have been accepted by a Vaisnava spiritual master will learn their lesson and continue serving the guru. Teachers and relatives can administer punishment also ithout bodily harm according to the degree of the infraction. If a teacher is found to be defective due to following questionable activities then one should dispense with his services and according to applicable laws cancel the engagement. If an ordinary teacher unknowingly challenges one who is superior to him then this should be brought to his attention. They should be firmly disciplined but not abandoned as that would be offensive. Those teachers who are devoted to the Supreme Lord should never be abandoned or penalised as this would be opposed to righteousness. Disciples never have the right to criticise or chastise the Vaisnava spiritual master who gave one initiation into Krishna bhakti. Even if famous persons are seen performing activities contrary to the Vedic scriptures they should not be punished if such actions do not interfere with the mission of the spiritual master.
In times of adversity Brahmins may performed occupations ordained for ksatriyas or even vaisyas. But the sudras are never permitted to perform the occupations of the ksatriyas or Brahmins. Ksatriyas in adversity may perform the occupation of a vaisya and in extreme cases even the rites of the Brahmins but they are prohibited to beg for their food. Vaisyas in times of adversity may only accept the occupations of sudras and no other and become carpenters or blacksmiths, etc. which are known as the occupations of sudras. The sudras sometimes must accept the occupation of vaisyas but they are prohibited from any endeavour to study the Vedic scriptures. In times of greatest adversity a ksatriya may offer service to the Brahmins or otther well to do ksatriyas but they should never offer obeisance to their feet. It is not that such acts of a ksatriya are unworthy or ignoble for performed expressly for the purpose of concealing oneself incognito it is equal to even the activities of the Brahmins. The most meritorious actions are those sanctioned and ordered by the Vaisnava spiritual master, who are all followers of the Supreme Lord Krishna or any of His avatars or authorised incarnations and expansions revealed in Vedic scriptures. It is much more meritorious to follow the spiritual masters commands rather then to remain neutral not opposing him.
Krishna Dvaipayana Vyasadeva has stated that by the powerful arms of the ksatriyas and the spiritual wisdom and devotion to the Supreme Lord of the Vaisnava Brahmins, then the protection and evolution of the world is secured.
Sri Vaisnava Sampradaya:
The conclusion Lord Krishna gives for this subject is that actions that are initiated naturally and easily executed and are beset with no difficulties should be done even if there may be some fault or defect. The inner purport is that even those situated in jnana yoga or facilitating communion with the Supreme absolute by knowledge, they too should adopt the path of karma yoga or facilitating communion with the Supreme absolute by actions. All endeavours in the material world are accompanied by some sort of fault or defect and all living beings must perform actions to exist but the following of one's own natural path is not in the least difficult or beset with unpredictable dangers. Whereas the standard of jnana yoga being higher the possibility of mistake and the chance of defect is greater as well as the demerit incurred. So karma yoga is encouraged.
Kumara Vaisnava Sampradaya:
It may be postulated that if prescribed Vedic activities qualify one for moksa or liberation from material existence then one should abandon deeds which are violent and lethal and strive exclusively for moksa. Lord Krishna refutes this conception with the word sahajam or according to one's natural propensity. One should never relinquish their own ordained duty in favour of anothers because all endeavours are tainted by some defect or blemish just as fire is tainted by smoke. Although dispelling darkness and cold by providing heat and light fire is accompanied by smoke which burns the eyes and irritates the nose, similarly in the quest for moksa there will be some difficulties and irritations but without clarity of intention and purity of heart it will not be possible for moksa to be achieved. Hence on should perfom their natural duty with the intention to propitiate the Supreme Lord according to qualification and relinquish all desires for rewards. When the heart becomes pure then all imperfections are dissolved and dissappear. So by worshipping the Supreme Lord following one's own natural prescribed duty one attains self-realisation and achieves moksa. The Isa Upanisad, verse 11 beginning vidyam cavidyam ca yas states: One who knows what is nescience and what is transcendence can overcome samsara the perpetual cycle of birth and death.