Book excerptsAcarya KesariEligibility for Serving Śrī Śālagrāma

Eligibility for Serving Śrī Śālagrāma

Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī has a full understanding of vaiṣṇava-smṛti, and he has refuted the imaginative considerations of certain hateful, envious smārtas. He has written in his Hari-bhakti-vilāsa that certain smārtas who are engrossed in the bodily concept of life believe that only men who have taken birth in a brāhmaṇa dynasty are eligible to worship Śālagrāma. They think that women are not eligible to worship Śālagrāma under any circumstances, because they are śūdras, even if they are born brāhmaṇas. However, these points are opposed to śāstra in all respects. Males or females who are initiated into viṣṇu-mantra by a bona fide guru are eligible to perform arcana, regardless of birth. In his Digdarśinī-ṭīkā, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī has quoted many scriptural references as evidence to support his point of view. He has quoted the words of Bhagavān Kapiladeva from the conversation between Bhagavān Kapila and His mother, Devahūti, found in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (3.33.6):

yan-nāmadheya-śravaṇānukīrtanād
yat-prahvaṇād yat-smaraṇād api kvacit
śvādo ’pi sadyaḥ savanāya kalpate
kutaḥ punas te bhagavan nu darśanāt

O Bhagavān, even a person born in a family of untouchable dog-eaters immediately becomes eligible to perform celestial Vedic sacrifices (soma-yajña) if he hears Your name and afterwards performs kīrtana, offers obeisances to You and remembers You. What more can be said about one who has actually attained Your audience?

Furthermore, Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī has clarified this point with an example from the life history of Pṛthu Mahārāja. Although Śrī Pṛthu Mahārāja was the emperor of the entire Earth planet consisting of seven islands, he never enforced discipline or punishment upon brāhmaṇas born in the line of ṛṣis or upon Vaiṣṇavas, who, regardless of which family they are born into, belong to acyuta-gotra, the dynasty of the infallible Supreme Lord (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 4.21.12). Śrīla Sanātana Gosvāmī has also given evidence from Purañjana-upākhyāna that King Purañjana also never ordained punishment for brāhmaṇas and Vaiṣṇavas (Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam 4.26.24). Therefore, women as well as śūdras are eligible to perform arcana of Śrī Śālagrāma once they are initiated into the viṣṇu-mantra by a bona fide guru, because they also become equal to brāhmaṇas and Vaiṣṇavas. Food offerings cooked by them can certainly be offered to Śrī Bhagavān and sad-guru. It would be an offence to disregard this conclusion.

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