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Indian caste system

In the Padma Purāṇa it is said:
na śūdrāḥ bhagavad-bhaktās
te ‘pi bhāgavatottamāḥ
sarva-varṇeṣu te śūdrā
ye na bhaktā janārdane

One who is actually advanced in spiritual knowledge of Kṛṣṇa is never a śūdra, even though he may have been born in a śūdra family. However, even if a vipra, or brāhmaṇa, is very expert in the six brahminical activities (paṭhana, pāṭhana, yajana, yājana, dāna, pratigraha) and is also well versed in the Vedic hymns, he cannot become a spiritual master unless he is a Vaiṣṇava. But if one is born in the family of caṇḍālas yet is well versed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, he can become a guru. These are the śāstric injunctions, and strictly following these injunctions, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, as a gṛhastha named Śrī Viśvambhara, was initiated by a sannyāsī-guru named Īśvara Purī. Similarly, Śrī Nityānanda Prabhu was initiated by Mādhavendra Purī, a sannyāsī. According to others, however, He was initiated by Lakṣmīpati Tīrtha. Advaita Ācārya, although a gṛhastha, was initiated by Mādhavendra Purī, and Śrī Rasikānanda, although born in a brāhmaṇa family, was initiated by Śrī Śyāmānanda Prabhu, who was not born in a caste brāhmaṇa family. There are many instances in which a born brāhmaṇa took initiation from a person who was not born in a brāhmaṇa family. The brahminical symptoms are explained in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.11.35), wherein it is stated:
yasya yal-lakṣaṇaṁ proktaṁ
puṁso varṇābhivyañjakam
yad anyatrāpi dṛśyeta
tat tenaiva vinirdiśet

If a person is born in a śūdra family but has all the qualities of a spiritual master, he should be accepted not only as a brāhmaṇa but as a qualified spiritual master also. This is also the instruction of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura therefore introduced the sacred thread ceremony for all Vaiṣṇavas according to the rules and regulations.

Ref>>Srila Prabhupada Vani.

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What is meaning of Radha?

When the gopīs began to talk among themselves, they said, ‘Dear friends, the gopī who has been taken away by Kṛṣṇa to a secluded place must have worshiped the Lord more than anyone else.’

The name Rādhā is derived from this verse (Bhāg. 10.30.28), from the words anayārādhitaḥ, meaning “by Her the Lord is worshiped.” Sometimes the critics of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam find it difficult to find Rādhārāṇī‘s holy name, but the secret is disclosed here in the word ārādhitaḥ, from which the name Rādhā has come. Of course, the name of Rādhārāṇī is directly mentioned in other Purāṇas. This gopī‘s worship of Kṛṣṇa is topmost, and therefore Her name is Rādhā, or the topmost worshiper.

Ref>>Srila Prabhupada Vani.

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Worshiping Durga

The goddess Durgā is the superintending deity of this material world, which is made of material elements. The demigods are simply different directors engaged in operating the departments of material activities, and they are under the influence of the same material energy. Kṛṣṇa’s internal potencies, however, have nothing to do with the creation of this cosmic material world. The spiritual world and all spiritual activities are under the direction of the internal, spiritual energy, and such activities are performed by Yogamāyā, the spiritual energy. Yogamāyā is the spiritual or internal energy of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Those who are interested in being promoted to the spiritual world and engaging in the service of the Lord attain spiritual perfection under the control of Yogamāyā. Those who are interested in material promotion engage in ritualistic religious ceremonies and economic development to develop sense gratification. They ultimately attempt to merge into the impersonal existence of the Lord. Such people generally become impersonalists. They are interested in worshiping Lord Śiva or Goddess Durgā, but their return is one hundred percent materialistic.

Following the example of the gopīs, the devotees sometimes worship the goddess Kātyāyanī, but they understand that Kātyāyanī is an incarnation of Yogamāyā. The gopīs worshiped Kātyāyanī, Yogamāyā, to attain Kṛṣṇa as their husband. On the other hand, it is stated in the Sapta-śatī scripture that a kṣatriya king named Suratha and a rich vaiśya named Samādhi worshiped material nature in the form of Goddess Durgā to attain material perfection. If one tries to mingle the worship of Yogamāyā with Mahāmāyā, considering them one and the same, he does not really show very high intelligence. The idea that everything is one is a kind of foolishness indulged in by those with less brain substance. Fools and rascals say that the worship of Yogamāyā and Mahāmāyā is the same. This conclusion is simply the result of mental speculation, and it has no practical effect. In the material world, sometimes one gives an exalted title to an utterly worthless thing; in Bengal this is known as giving a blind child a name like Padmalocana, which means “lotus-eyed.” One may foolishly call a blind child Padmalocana, but such an appellation does not bear any meaning.

Ref >> Srila Prabhupada Vani.

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Does God have many Forms?

It is a completely mistaken idea that one can worship Kṛṣṇa in any form or in any way and still attain the ultimate result of receiving the favor of the Lord. This is a decision made by gross materialists. Generally such men say that you can manufacture your own way of worshiping the Supreme Lord and that any type of worship is sufficient to approach the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Certainly there are different means for attaining different results in fruitive activity, speculative knowledge, mystic yoga and austerity. Crude men therefore say that if one adopts any of these methods one achieves the Supreme Personality of Godhead’s favor. They claim that it doesn’t matter what kind of method one adopts. A general example is given: If one wishes to arrive at a certain place, there are many roads leading there, and one can go to that place by any one of these roads. Similarly, these gross materialists say, there are different ways to attain the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. They claim that one can conceive of the Supreme Personality of Godhead as Goddess Durgā, Goddess Kālī, Lord Śiva, Demigod Gaṇeśa, Lord Rāmacandra, Kṛṣṇa, the impersonal Brahman or whatever, and one can chant the Lord’s name in any way and in any form. Such materialists claim that since ultimately all these names and forms are one, the result is the same. They also give the example that a man who has different names will answer if called by any one of them. Therefore, they claim, there is no need to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra. If one chants the name of Kālī, Durgā, Śiva, Gaṇeśa or anyone else, the result will be the same. Such claims made by mental speculators are no doubt very pleasing to mental speculators, but those who are actually in knowledge do not admit such conclusions, which are against the authority of the śāstras.

Ref >> Srila Prabhupada Vani.

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Is a devotee low caste or higher caste?

In the Bhagavad-gītā (9.32) the Lord says:

“O son of Pṛthā, those who take shelter in Me, though they be of lower birth-women, vaiśyas (merchants), as well as śūdras (workers)-can attain the supreme destination.”

The word pāpa-yonayaḥ means “born of lower-caste women.” The vaiśyas are merchants, and the śūdras or workers are servants. According to Vedic classifications, they belong to a lower social order. A low life means a life without Kṛṣṇa consciousness. High and low positions in society were calculated by considering a person’s Kṛṣṇa consciousness. A brāhmaṇa is considered to be on the highest platform because he knows Brahman, the Absolute Truth. The second caste, the kṣatriya caste, also know Brahman, but not as well as the brāhmaṇas. The vaiśyas and śūdras do not clearly understand God consciousness, but if they take to Kṛṣṇa consciousness by the mercy of Kṛṣṇa and the spiritual master, they do not remain in the lower castes (pāpa-yonayaḥ). It is clearly stated: te ‘pi yānti parāṁ gatim.

Unless one has attained the highest standard of life, one cannot return home, back to Godhead. One may be a śūdra, vaiśya or woman, but if one is situated in the service of the Lord in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, one should not be considered strī, śūdra, vaiśya or lower than śūdra. Though a person may be from a lowborn family, if he is engaged in the Lord’s service he should never be considered to belong to a lowborn family. The Padma Purāṇa forbids: vīkṣate jāti-sāmānyāt sa yāti narakaṁ-dhruvam. A person goes to hell quickly when he considers a devotee of the Lord in terms of birth.

Ref>> Srila Prabhupada Vani

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Story of Vasudeva vipra

There was a brāhmaṇa named Vāsudeva, who was a great person but was suffering from leprosy. Indeed, his body was filled with living worms. Although suffering from leprosy, the brāhmaṇa Vāsudeva was enlightened. As soon as one worm fell from his body, he would pick it up and place it back again in the same location. Then one night Vāsudeva heard of Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu’s arrival, and in the morning he came to see the Lord at the house of Kūrma. When the leper Vāsudeva came to Kūrma’s house to see Caitanya Mahāprabhu, he was informed that the Lord had already left. The leper then fell to the ground unconscious. When Vāsudeva, the leper brāhmaṇa, was lamenting due to not being able to see Caitanya Mahāprabhu, the Lord immediately returned to that spot and embraced him. When Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu touched him, both the leprosy and his distress went to a distant place. Indeed, Vāsudeva’s body became very beautiful, to his great happiness. The brāhmaṇa Vāsudeva was astonished to behold the wonderful mercy of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and he began to recite a verse from Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam, touching the Lord’s lotus feet. He said, “Who am I? A sinful, poor friend of a brāhmaṇa. And who is Kṛṣṇa? The Supreme Personality of Godhead, full in six opulences. Nonetheless, He has embraced me with His two arms.” The brāhmaṇa Vāsudeva continued, “O my merciful Lord, such mercy is not possible for ordinary living entities. Such mercy can be found only in You. Upon seeing me, even a sinful person goes away due to my bad bodily odor. Yet You have touched me. Such is the independent behavior of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.” Being meek and humble, the brāhmaṇa Vāsudeva worried that he would become proud after being cured by the grace of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. To protect the brāhmaṇa, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu advised him to chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mantra incessantly. By doing so, he would never become unnecessarily proud. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu also advised Vāsudeva to preach about Kṛṣṇa and thus liberate living entities. As a result, Kṛṣṇa would very soon accept him as His devotee. Although Vāsudeva Vipra was a leper and had suffered greatly, still Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu cured him. The only return the Lord wanted was that Vāsudeva preach the instructions of Kṛṣṇa and liberate all human beings. If one wants to be recognized as a devotee by Kṛṣṇa, he should take to preaching work, following the advice of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Then one will undoubtedly attain the lotus feet of Śrī Kṛṣṇa Caitanya, Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself, without delay.

Ref >> Srila Prabhupada Vani.

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Am I a First class devotee?

One who surrenders to Him and is ready to follow Him with heart and soul does not need to change his location. Nor is it necessary for one to change status. One may remain a householder, a medical practitioner, an engineer or whatever. It doesn’t matter. One only has to follow the instruction of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra and instruct relatives and friends in the teachings of the Bhagavad-gītā and Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam. One has to learn humility and meekness at home, following the instructions of Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu, and in that way one’s life will be spiritually successful. One should not try to be an artificially advanced devotee, thinking, “I am a first-class devotee.” Such thinking should be avoided. It is best not to accept any disciples. One has to become purified at home by chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra and preaching the principles enunciated by Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu. Thus one can become a spiritual master and be freed from the contamination of material life.

Ref >> Srila Prabhupada Vani.