Brāhmaṇas generally used to become astrologers, Āyur-vedic physicians, teachers and priests. Although highly learned and respectable, such brāhmaṇas went from door to door to distribute their knowledge. A brāhmaṇa would first go to a householder’s home to give information about the functions to be performed on a particular tithi, or date, but if there were sickness in the family, the family members would consult the brāhmaṇa as a physician, and the brāhmaṇa would give instruction and some medicine. Often, since the brāhmaṇas were expert in astrology, people would also be greatly inquisitive about their past, present and future.
Although the brāhmaṇa appeared at Lord Caitanya’s house as a beggar, Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu received him with great respect because he was a qualified brāhmaṇa who knew the astrological science perfectly. Although brāhmaṇas would go door to door just like beggars, they were honored as very respectable guests. This was the system in Hindu society five hundred years ago, during the time of Caitanya Mahāprabhu. This system was current even one hundred years ago; even fifty or sixty years ago, when we were children, such brāhmaṇas would visit householders like humble beggars, and people would derive great benefit from the mercy of such brāhmaṇas. The greatest benefit was that a householder could save a great deal of money from being spent on doctor bills because the brāhmaṇas, aside from explaining the past, present and future, could ordinarily cure all kinds of diseases simply by giving instructions and some medicine. Thus no one was bereft of the benefit of a first-class physician, astrologer and priest. The important members of ISKCON should give careful attention to our Dallas school, where children are being taught Sanskrit and English to become perfect brāhmaṇas. If they are actually trained as perfect brāhmaṇas, they can save society from rogues and ruffians; indeed, people can live happily under the protection of qualified brāhmaṇas. Therefore the Bhagavad-gītā (BG 4.13) gives special stress to the division of society (cātur-varṇyaṁ mayā sṛṣṭaṁ guṇa-karma-vibhāgaśaḥ). Unfortunately some people are now claiming to be brāhmaṇas simply by birthright, with no qualifications. Therefore the entire society is in chaos.