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The Third and Fourth quartet of Yakṣa Prashna

Third query quartet:

kiṃ brāhmaṇānāṃ devatvaṃ?
kaśca dharmaḥ satāmiva?
kaścaiṣāṃ mānuṣo bhāvaḥ?

Present translation:

The Yakṣa inquires, "What is the divinity of the Brāhmaṇas? What is their dharma as that of the virtuous? What signifies their human nature? And what signifies their contrary nature?"

Response quartet:

svādhyāya eṣāṃ devatvaṃ|
tap eṣāṃ satāmiva|
maraṇaṃ mānuṣo bhāvaḥ|

Present translation:

Yudhiṣṭhira answers, "Their divinity is in their svādhyāya (self-study or the study of scriptures). Their virtuous nature is in their tapas (austerity). Their human nature is signified by death, and their unrighteous nature is signified by criticism."


Divinity refers to possessing the capacity or the power to give. How do Brāhmaṇas achieve this? To possess the capability to give, one must have the capability to listen and to be encouraged by what they hear. It means inspiring individuals to request what is within the giver's capability. For example, if one has ten chocolates and offers them to those craving them, they become a deity in the eyes of the recipients. Therefore, making the seekers request only what the giver possesses elevates the Brāhmaṇa to a divine status.

The answer provided signifies that the divinity of the Brāhmaṇas comes from svādhyāya, which translates to the study of the Vedas. This seems to be a clarifying verse that emerged as an explanatory comment. If one does not walk, there is no chance of losing their way. But if one starts walking, they may lose their path. Therefore, since these verses don’t seem to have any ambiguity or confusion, they assure that there's no chance of being misled.

Should the guidance offered by these verses be misinterpreted, there lies the risk. The principle resonates with the adage that what the patient asks for and what the doctor prescribes are often the same. Hence, the doctor is considered a divine healer. Generating interest in society about knowledge is an act of wisdom in itself! By instilling this interest, and then addressing it, givers eliminate the scarcity in their giving. But when they are asked for what they don't have, the challenge arises. This challenge disappears if the seekers only ask for what the givers have. When the Brāhmaṇa ensures that this happens, he ascends to divinity.

The interpretation highlights that the path to divinity for Brāhmaṇas is through the study of Vedas. If there's no movement forward, there's no risk of straying off the path. Only when there's forward movement can one stray. These verses serve as guiding principles, ensuring that those who follow them won't stray from the righteous path.

Fourth query quartet:

kiṁ kṣatriyāṇāṁ devatvaṁ?
kaśca dharmaḥ satāmiva?
kaścaiṣāṁ mānuṣo bhāvaḥ?

Present translation:

What grants divinity to a Kshatriya?

What is the dharma suitable for them?

From where arises their human nature?

And by which qualities are they not considered virtuous?


Who truly embodies the essence of a Kshatriya? Certainly, not everyone who is born into the Kshatriya varna (class) by birthright. Let's delve deeper into this.

  • vākyāt kṣatriya: Translates to the one who harms through speech. This refers to those who use their words as weapons, causing pain. An example would be someone speaking ill of others in a crowd. Those hundred people might have never heard such derogatory words in their lives. This becomes the harm inflicted by speech, representing a Kshatriya's characteristic.

  • ācaraṇāt kṣatriya: This is the one who inflicts harm through actions. For instance, imagine a dog being beaten. Many might watch this brutal act. The dog belongs to you, so no one intervenes, but your act not only harms the dog but also distresses the onlookers.

  • annāt kṣatriya: It translates to one who harms by what they consume. Consuming something unpleasant or disgusting can be distressing to those who witness it. A person might abandon their meal upon seeing someone consume something extremely unpalatable.

  • mānyatāt kṣatriya: Refers to one who harms by misplacement of respect. Picture this: A traveler visits a village and goes to a grand house to ask for water. Instead of just giving water, the homeowner makes a show of honoring him in front of the villagers. The traveler, exhausted from his journey, is continuously praised but isn’t given water or even allowed to speak.

These four characteristics provide a profound understanding of what constitutes the nature of a Kshatriya. However, it's essential to recognize that these traits are not just limited to the Kshatriya varna but can be found in individuals across different walks of life. It's their actions, words, consumption habits, and the way they offer or withhold respect that truly define them.

The Essence of Kshatriya Nature: An Analysis

Response quartet:

Iṣvasṯrameṣāṁ dēvatvaṁ |
Yajñaṁ eṣāṁ satāmiva |
Bhayaṁ vai mānuṣo bhāvaḥ |
Parityāgo'satāmiva ||

Yudhishthira said, "Weapons are their divinity. Sacrifice is their truth. Fear represents their human sentiment, and renunciation represents their untruth."


The reference here provides an example of the Kshatriya disposition, not necessarily of the comprehensive Kshatriya class. It underscores a theatrical nature. Even while appearing righteous, they might commit wrongs. This is identified as the characteristic of a Kshatriya Bhāva. Thoughts of violence are predominant in their psyche. Letting go of these tendencies is what makes one truly human. Even if endowed with vast knowledge, one can't attain the Brahmin nature if one retains violent tendencies.

  • "iṣvastrameṣāṁ devatvaṁ": should be corrected to "iṣvatrameṣāṁ devatvaṁ". The phrase "atram eṣāṁ" conveys the idea of 'these particular ones' or 'someone here.'

  • "yajñaṁ eṣāṁ satāmiva": Innate tendencies require no profound wisdom. But to act, to pretend to know when one doesn't, requires deep understanding. To act without revealing one's true intentions is a skill. "yajña" refers to actions performed with awareness - a conscious act. The Kshatriya nature is linked to acting with awareness while the Brahmin nature is associated with acting righteously with true understanding.

  • "bhayaṁ vai mānuṣo bhāvaḥ": When one is pretending, there's always a lurking fear that people might recognize their true nature. This fear prompts them to act even more. Only the wise can pretend; not the naive. The term "mānuṣa bhāva" or 'human nature' is the collective answer to all these concerns. As humans naturally develop their capabilities, they tend to look down upon what's behind them. If they show respect suddenly, it's theatrical. Nothing can be done about it since it's inherent. It's their "human nature." This nature prompts them to improve continuously.

  • parityāgō’satāmiva: Transcending Dualities: The True Essence of a Brāhmaṇa. As mentioned before, parityāgō’satāmiva translates to suggesting the abandonment of insincerity. As elaborated further, if one refrains from insincere acts and dedicates oneself to righteous deeds, they are esteemed as a ‘Satpurusha’ or a good person, deserving the title of a 'Brāhmaṇa'. Here, the dual roles of ‘Brāhmaṇa’ and ‘Kṣatriya’ do not exist as separate entities. Instead, they are two qualities co-existing within a single individual. For a person who is known as a ‘Brahmajñāni’ (knower of the ultimate reality or Brahman), if he still possesses the aggressive traits of a Kṣatriya, then he cannot truly be called a ‘Brahmajñāni’. Only by relinquishing tendencies towards violence and drama and embracing virtues like calmness (śama) and self-restraint (dama), can one truly be called a Brāhmaṇa. Such a person with the knowledge of Brahman possesses the power to ascend to divinity. However, if they retain the qualities of a Kṣatriya, they might cause destruction. Thus, holding onto Kṣatriya traits prevents one from attaining divinity, pushing them instead towards entities like Yakṣa or Piśāci. For instance, an ordinary individual, say a cattle or sheep herder, may act in any manner without causing significant disturbance to society. In contrast, a slight mistake from a king can lead to widespread ramifications. Each individual, based on their societal standing, should operate within the boundaries set for that role. The notion isn't about treating everyone equally but recognizing that responsibility and accountability vary based on one's role in society. Acting impulsively or out of self-interest without considering societal implications can lead to detrimental consequences. A case in point is Viśvāmitra. Despite his many achievements, he often exhibited an urge to prove his superiority. This lingering Kṣatriya sentiment within him was arguably the reason behind such behavior. In essence, while individuals might possess multiple traits, it is the transcendence beyond these dualities and the adherence to righteousness and wisdom that determine their true nature and place in society. In conclusion, the Kshatriya essence represents a blend of divinity, truth, human sentiment, and inherent untruth. The nature of Kshatriyas, as described, emphasizes their strength, valor, and also their vulnerabilities. This duality is what makes their character intricate and fascinating.

Human & Indra: Juxtaposition between Atīndriyatva & Jitēndriyatva

"Mana eva kāraṇānāṃ manuṣyaḥ" - It is through the mind that humans act and interact. This phrase implies that only those who operate judiciously through their mind attain true humanity. Such individuals who demonstrate this true essence of humanity stand a chance to realize divinity. To become a God is a potential reserved for a true human; whereas, just being a Brahmin doesn’t guarantee one divinity. Embracing our humanity, in essence, is commendable. But what is the purpose of understanding Brahman and becoming a Brahmajñāni? Is it not true that even if you don't understand Brahman, you can still find peace? Indeed, it is. The peace one achieves by becoming a Brahmajñāni might not be more than the tranquility one feels in simple humanity. Hence, it might be easier and more fulfilling to remain human than strive to fit the Vedic mold of Brahmajñāni. Why aim for divinity when the true essence of being human exceeds the Brahmin ideal?

Humans, in their relentless pursuits, can often become slaves to their senses. This condition gives rise to the deity called "Indra". The one who establishes dominion over his senses becomes Indra, not the one who transcends them. Establishing dominion signifies harmonizing with one's senses, like driving a car or riding a horse. However, it's important to remember that riding these vehicles comes with its challenges. Just as one might encounter unexpected obstacles while driving, myths and Purāṇas recount several tales where Indra, despite his dominion, falters. To engage with our senses is to embrace the essence of Indra. But what assurance is there that we won't face pitfalls in this journey? Had there been no pitfalls, the tales in the Purāṇas wouldn't exist. Their existence bears testimony to these unavoidable challenges.

There is a difference between 'transcendentalism' (atīndriyatva) and 'mastery over senses' (jitēndriyatva). Jitēndriyatva is a term for navigating the world, organizing the world, and the arrangement needed for continuity. Atīndriyatva means to operate as if without senses. For example - it's not necessary for the eye to see; seeing is its nature. Hence, it always observes the world. Why should we be slaves to its nature, why should we react? Whether something is audible or inaudible, whether we like it or not, the ear keeps hearing it. If there's no reaction there, that's transcendentalism. To discern within that what's pleasant and to enjoy is mastery over senses. Indra became Indra because he set out to experience it, and he who abstains from experiencing is Brahma. He who manages the senses, who has control over them through mastery, might reach heaven but falls from there, as it's impermanent. He who makes the senses non-functional through transcendentalism reaches salvation; he is immovable and eternal.

This article is compiled in English based on my understanding of the concepts and guidelines narrated by my Guru Brahma Rushi K S Nityananda Swamiji, Purvottara Meemaamsaka, Veda Vijnana Mandira, Chikmagalur, Karnataka, India.

-Hemanth Kumar G

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