yad brahma nityam virajam sanatanam
samadhina bibhrati hartha-drstaye
yatredam adarsa ivavabhasate
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
In brahminical culture a brahmana’s transcendental position is eternally maintained because the injunctions of the Vedas are accepted with faith, austerity, scriptural conclusions, full sense and mind control, and meditation. In this way the real goal of life is illuminated, just as one’s face is fully reflected in a clear mirror.
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
Since it is described in the previous verse that feeding a living brahmana is more effective than offering oblations in a fire sacrifice, in this verse it is now clearly described what brahmanism is and who a brahmana is. In the Age of Kali, taking advantage of the fact that by feeding a brahmana one obtains a more effective result than by performing sacrifices, a class of men with no brahminical qualifications claim the eating privilege known as brahmana-bhojana simply on the basis of their birth in brahmana families. In order to distinguish this class of men from the real brahmanas, Maharaja Prthu is giving an exact description of a brahmana and brahminical culture. One should not take advantage of his position simply to live like a fire without light. A brahmana must be fully conversant with the Vedic conclusion, which is described in Bhagavad-gita. Vedais ca sarvair aham eva vedyah (Bg. 15.15). The Vedic conclusion — the ultimate understanding, or Vedanta understanding — is knowledge of Krsna. Actually that is a fact because simply by understanding Krsna as He is, as described in Bhagavad-gita (janma karma ca me divyam evam yo vetti tattvatah), one becomes a perfect brahmana. The brahmana who knows Krsna perfectly well is always in a transcendental position. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (14.26):
mam ca yo ’vyabhicarena
sa gunan samatityaitan
“One who engages in full devotional service and who does not fall down in any circumstance at once transcends the modes of material nature and thus comes to the level of Brahman.”
Therefore a devotee of Lord Krsna is actually a perfect brahmana. His situation is transcendental, for he is free from the four defects of conditional life, which are the tendencies to commit mistakes, to be illusioned, to cheat and to possess imperfect senses. A perfect Vaisnava, or Krsna conscious person, is always in this transcendental position because he speaks according to Krsna and His representative. Because Vaisnavas speak exactly according to the tune of Krsna, whatever they say is free from these four defects. For example, Krsna says in Bhagavad-gita that everyone should always think of Him, everyone should become His devotee, offer Him obeisances and worship Him, and ultimately everyone should surrender unto Him. These devotional activities are transcendental and free from mistakes, illusion, cheating and imperfection. Therefore anyone who is a sincere devotee of Lord Krsna and who preaches this cult, speaking only on the basis of Krsna’s instructions, is understood to be virajam, or free from the defects of material contamination. A genuine brahmana or Vaisnava therefore depends eternally on the conclusion of the Vedas or Vedic versions presented by the Supreme Personality of Godhead Himself. Only from Vedic knowledge can we understand the actual position of the Absolute Truth, who, as described in Srimad-Bhagavatam, is manifested in three features — namely impersonal Brahman, localized Paramatma and, at last, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This knowledge is perfect from time immemorial, and the brahminical or Vaisnava culture depends on this principle eternally. One should therefore study the Vedas with faith, not only for one’s personal knowledge, but for the sake of spreading this knowledge and these activities through real faith in the words of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and the Vedas.
In this verse the word mangala, “auspicious,” is very significant. Srila Sridhara Svami quotes that to do what is good and to reject what is not good is called mangala, or auspicious. To do what is good means to accept everything favorable to the discharge of devotional service, and to reject what is not good means to reject everything not favorable for discharging devotional service. In our Krsna consciousness movement, we accept this principle by rejecting four prohibited items — namely illicit sex life, intoxication, gambling and flesh-eating — and accepting the daily chanting of at least sixteen rounds of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra and meditation three times a day by chanting the Gayatri mantra. In this way one can keep his brahminical culture and spiritual strength intact. By following these principles of devotional service strictly, chanting twenty-four hours a day the maha-mantra — Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare/ Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare — one makes positive progress in spiritual life and ultimately becomes completely fit to see the Supreme Personality of Godhead face to face. Because the ultimate goal of studying or understanding the Vedic knowledge is to find Krsna, one who follows the Vedic principles as described above can from the very beginning see all the features of Lord Krsna, the Absolute Truth, very distinctly, as one can see one’s own face completely reflected in a clear mirror. The conclusion is, therefore, that a brahmana does not become a brahmana simply because he is a living entity or is born in a brahmana family; he must possess all the qualities mentioned in the sastras and practice the brahminical principles in his life. Thus he ultimately becomes a fully Krsna conscious person and can understand what Krsna is. How a devotee continuously sees Krsna face to face within his heart is described in the Brahma-samhita (5.38) as follows:
santah sadaiva hrdayesu vilokayanti
yam syamasundaram acintya-guna-svarupam
govindam adi-purusam tam aham bhajami
The devotee, by development of pure love for Krsna, constantly sees the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is known as Syamasundara, within his heart. That is the perfectional stage of brahminical culture.