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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Brahmins dogs

I was reluctant to blog this, but as I saw a debate going on about cats and dogs on 'gaudiya-repercussions' I decided to add my opinion here.

There is an increasing number of western Vaiṣṇavas that start keeping dogs in their house, many of them claiming a quick-fix brahminhood, taking a second birth without having the first birth to start with, saying they are instead brahmins by quality. These qualities are mentioned in Bhagavad Gītā 18.42 as śama damas tapaḥ śaucam. śaucam means cleanliness, and keeping a dog inside the house is certainly not clean - loose mammals like cats and dogs contaminate the whole house, lock stock and barrel. And such devotees usually keep deities inside their house as well! In India not even the sweepers keep dogs in their houses, so why should then the 'qualified' brahmins here in the west do so? Is there then really such a gap between birth and quality after all? How completely opposite was the attitude and conduct of Śrīla Sanātan Gosvāmī - though he was the greatest sadācārī (devotional puritan) he rather burned his foot-soles on the hot beach-path of Puri than to touch the pūjārīs of the Jagannāth Temple. Of course, Śrīman Mahāprabhu delivered Śivānanda Sena's dog, but Caitanya Caritāmṛta mentions (Antya 1.28): prabhu pāśe bosiyāche kichu alpa dūre, that the dog sat at some distance from the Lord. He did not sit on His lap or lick His face, which I have seen happening with the above-mentioned devotees. Sādhu Bābā also had a dog for a short while, but she too was kept far away from the cooking pots, the kitchen and the āśram's quarters, nor have I seen Sādhu Bābā or anyone else touch her.

A pet-loving 'brahmin' then argued that 1) Kṛṣṇa keeps two dogs too (Vyaghra and Bhramarak), but of course these are transcendentally pure eternally liberated souls, and 2) that rāgānugā bhakti is beyond rules and regulations, but that is not the opinion of Śrīla Rūpa Goswāmī:

śravaṇotkīrtanādīni vaidhi bhaktyuditāni tu
yānyaṅgāni ca tānyatra vijñeyāni manīṣibhiḥ

(Bhakti-Rasāmṛta Sindhu 1.2.296) 

"All limbs of vaidhi bhakti, such as hearing chanting etc. are also to be practised in rāgānugā bhakti. This is the verdict of the wise."

If anyone still argues that this inclusion only applies to hearing and chanting, then my question is 'when did the rāgānugā role-models Rūpa and Raghunātha keep dogs inside their kuṭīrs where they worshipped their dieties?'

Viśvanātha Cakravartīpāda comments on this verse that only meditation on Dwārkā, mudra, nyāsa and worship of Kṛṣṇa's queens are exempt for rāgānugā sādhana.


  1. Indian dogs are particularly nasty.

    I could see keeping a dog if he is partitioned from the kitchen and pooja room, making it easy to bathe before entering that part of the house (or kept strictly outside). However, it sounds like a pain to practice such frequent bathing.

  2. Indeed, why would any Vaishnava go through such a hassle? What is the benefit of keeping a dog? As a guard to the house perhaps? Move to a safer neighborhood, I would advise, rather than purchasing a bloodhound. Or a teckle, or a poodle......

  3. 1) Krishna keeps two dogs too (Vyaghra and Bhramarak)

    Krishna is also not a Brahmin.

  4. These western vaisnavas who defy traditional ways by keeping cats, dogs, goats, llamas, chicken, think such step is keeping up with modern times and a sign of intelligence. They feed their pets meat, then they allow the animals inside the home free to sniff and nibble on Tulasi.

    These pet owners also claim to have a deeper and wider undertanding of Vaisnavism. The pet food industry really like such intellectuals.

  5. 1) Krishna keeps two dogs too (Vyaghra and Bhramarak)

    Krishna is also not a Brahmin

    That is quite a silly argument, anon. The Bhagavata clearly forbids imitation of Krishna: naitat samAcarejjAtu manasApi hyanIsvara "You should not even within your mind, imitate the Lord."
    If you can lift mount Govardhan for 7 days on your little finger you can also keep dogs, is that a deal?