(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 06 September 2016, Cape Town, South Africa, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.26)


In this purport, we read about the brahmanas and the kshatriyas, and Srila Prabhupada put the emphasis, especially for the brahminical class of men, on controlling the senses. He said, “For the intelligent men, controlling the senses is the essence,” and then he expands on that, “… sex indulgence even with the legitimate wife must also be controlled and therefore family control will automatically be followed.” So this is intelligence and it is a different definition than the modern definition of intelligence in that conduct is also considered. It is not that one just knows standards or better ways of life but one must also embody it. If one does not embody the intelligent conclusions then one is not intelligent at all. Therefore intelligence must translate into a higher moral standard of life otherwise, as Prabhupada said, it is misused and this is the result of modern education which does not offer morality.

This Movement is particularly for intelligent people because it is not so simple to understand how to act. The other day, I addressed the topic of fundamentalism and how it is a form of reductionism where we try to reduce everything to very simple principles that apply at all times and where we just switch off the intelligence – no need to judge any circumstances, no shades of grey, just all black and white, no need to apply a principle and see how to fits in the circumstances and find an appropriate solution.

An example that comes to mind is that of Ashwathama and Arjuna. Ashwathama was the son of Dronacharya, a brahmana, but he had misbehaved because he had revenged the death of his father by killing the sleeping sons of Draupadi. So it was outright murder, a most heinous act and at that stage Ashwathama lost his brahminical status. Arjuna pursued him, defeated him, captured him and brought him back bound-up. This was very shocking, to see a brahmana bound up like an animal. Draupadi found this very difficult to see as Ashwathama was the son of their teacher.

Then a whole discussion unfolded where the Pandavas and Krsna were all divided. Krsna asked what will be done – Ashwathama was the killer of man therefore he should be killed. Bhima agreed that he should be killed immediately but then Draupadi said, “No, he is the son of our teacher and a brahmana. How can we kill him? And I don’t want his mother to go through what I am going through so he should be spared.” Yudhishthir also said they should consider that throughout his life, Ashwathama was a brahmana of high qualification and even though he had committed a heinous act, he should not be considered an ordinary man, therefore he should not be killed.

Then Krsna asked Arjuna, “So, what will you do now?” Then Arjuna had a difficult task and he figured it out with intelligence. He cut off the jewel on Ashwathama’s head. This jewel was the symbol of Ashwathama’s brahminical qualities and in this way, he killed him but he also did not kill him. Arjuna killed Ashwathama’s identify as a brahmana but he did not take his life. In this way, Krsna was very satisfied. So just see, it was not all fundamentalism – just kill him – it was about intelligence!

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