A child is born; he doesn’t know anything, but his capacity to know is pure. That is why children learn quickly and old people only with difficulty. This is because the old person’s capacity to learn has become less – he has had enough of everything. A lot has been written on his slate; now his paper is no longer blank. To write something new, the paper has to be made blank all over again. You can attain truth only if you can again become like the newborn child. So the arrival of the child into this world is the first birth, and the second birth is when sainthood is born in him. Whosoever goes through the second birth is dwija, twice born, and he is the real brahmin.
The scriptures say that all are born like sudras, untouchables. It is very rare that someone becomes a brahmin; most of the people are born like sudras and die like sudras. Who is a brahmin? Not the one who knows the Vedas, because anyone can know the Vedas. Not the one who has memorized the scriptures, because anyone can memorize scriptures. Memorizing the scriptures is just memory, not true knowledge. Only he is a brahmin who knows the brahman.
You have come here. You may not know that your coming here is actually the quest for being a brahmin – the quest to know the brahman.
Shankara wrote the first verse of this sweet song when he was passing through a village and saw an old man who was memorizing the rules of grammar. He felt pity for this old man who was on his deathbed – he had wasted his whole life and now he was wasting the last moment too. During his whole life he had never remembered the divine, and even now he was busy with grammar. What will he gain by memorizing the rules of grammar?
Swami Ramateertha went to America and the Americans were deeply impressed by him. He was a unique person, a living vedantin. For him the divine was not a borrowed idea it was an actual experience – he was luminous with his experience. The simple heart of America was greatly impressed by him. This heart of America is very simple; the reason is that America has no past, no history, no tradition. The country is only three hundred years old. Its heart is as simple as that of a child; it is not covered with many layers of words of knowledge and scriptures. So the people of that country loved Ramateertha. They listened to his words attentively, as if he had brought the message of nectar, of the deathless. They danced and sang with him.
Ramateertha returned to India. He thought that if a country like America – which has no tradition of religion, where people are absolutely materialistic – could be so impressed by his talks and by his personality, then what will happen in India? “I am coming back to my home country whose tradition is thousands of years old. Its history is so old that nobody knows when it started, it is hidden in darkness. The land where the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Gita were created, the land where people like Buddha, Mahavira and Shankara were born. With this background the people of India will listen to me eagerly, as if I am distributing diamonds.” When such a miracle could happen in America where people are materialistic, where they cannot understand godliness, where their connections with the divine are broken, then what would happen in India? But what actually happened in India Ramateertha could never have imagined!