kavyany anantyam icchata
daive ca tad-abhave syad
Translation by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
A person desiring liberation for his forefathers or himself should give charity to a brahmana who adheres to impersonal monism [jñana-nistha]. In the absence of such an advanced brahmana, charity may be given to a brahmana addicted to fruitive activities [karma-kanda].
Purport by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Srila Prabhupada:
There are two processes by which to get free from material bondage. One involves jñana-kanda and karma-kanda, and the other involves upasana-kanda. Vaisnavas never want to merge into the existence of the Supreme; rather, they want to be everlastingly servants of the Lord to render loving service unto Him. In this verse the words anantyam icchata refer to persons who desire to achieve liberation from material bondage and merge into the existence of the Lord. Devotees, however, whose objective is to associate personally with the Lord, have no desire to accept the activities of karma-kanda or jñana-kanda, for pure devotional service is above both karma-kanda and jñana-kanda. Anyabhilasita-sunyam jñana-karmady-anavrtam. In pure devotional service there is not even a pinch of jñana or karma. Consequently, when Vaisnavas distribute charity, they do not need to find a brahmana performing the activities of jñana-kanda or karma-kanda. The best example in this regard is provided by Advaita Gosvami, who, after performing the sraddha ceremony for his father, offered charity to Haridasa Thakura, although it was known to everyone that Haridasa Thakura was born in a Mohammedan family, not a brahmana family, and was not interested in the activities of jñana-kanda or karma-kanda.
Charity, therefore, should be given to the first-class transcendentalist, the devotee, because the sastras recommend:
muktanam api siddhanam
kotisv api maha-mune
“O great sage, among many millions who are liberated and perfect in knowledge of liberation, one may be a devotee of Lord Narayana, or Krsna. Such devotees, who are fully peaceful, are extremely rare.” (Bhag. 6.14.5) A Vaisnava is in a higher position than a jñani, and therefore Advaita Acarya selected Haridasa Thakura to be the person to accept His charity. The Supreme Lord also says:
na me ’bhaktas catur-vedi
mad-bhaktah sva-pacah priyah
tasmai deyam tato grahyam
sa ca pujyo yatha hy aham
“Even though a person is a very learned scholar of the Sanskrit Vedic literatures, he is not accepted as My devotee unless he is pure in devotional service. However, even though a person is born in a family of dog-eaters, he is very dear to Me if he is a pure devotee who has no motive to enjoy fruitive activity or mental speculation. Indeed, all respect should be given to him, and whatever he offers should be accepted. Such devotees are as worshipable as I am.” (Hari-bhakti-vilasa 10.127) Therefore, even if not born in a brahmana family, a devotee, because of his devotion to the Lord, is above all kinds of brahmanas, whether they be karma-kandis or jñana-kandis.
In this regard, it may be mentioned that brahmanas in Vrndavana who are karma-kandis and jñana-kandis sometimes decline to accept invitations to our temple because our temple is known as the angareji temple, or “Anglican temple.” But in accordance with the evidence given in the sastra and the example set by Advaita Acarya, we give prasada to devotees regardless of whether they come from India, Europe or America. It is the conclusion of the sastra that instead of feeding many jñana-kandi or karma-kandi brahmanas, it is better to feed a pure Vaisnava, regardless of where he comes from. This is also confirmed in Bhagavad-gita (9.30):
api cet suduracaro
bhajate mam ananya-bhak
sadhur eva sa mantavyah
samyag vyavasito hi sah
“Even if one commits the most abominable actions, if he is engaged in devotional service he is to be considered saintly because he is properly situated.” Thus it doesn’t matter whether a devotee comes from a brahmana family or non-brahmana family; if he is fully devoted to Krsna, he is a sadhu.