“Kastvam, Khastvam”




A village was predominated by a proud pandit named Dada Thakura who, in spite of his brahminical heritage, was an unlettered fool. But it had been the custom for many generations for the villagers to respect the male members of Dada Thakura’s family as great learned authorities.

There was one villager who was a little more experienced in life than the others. He grew tired of seeing Dada Thakura’s fumbling rituals and hearing his inaccurate recitation of mantras. He grew tired of seeing him collect money from superstitious simpletons who blindly believed that this, their village pandit, was one of the great sages of all time. Finally this gentleman decided to invite a truly erudite brahmana to hold a public discourse.

When the news that a pandit with the title “Shastri” (learned in the Vedic scriptures) would soon visit spread around the village, Dada Thakura’s family became alarmed. “What will become of us all”, they lamented, “if this new pandit wins away this village from us? How will we live?”

Dada Thakura called his kinsmen and the important men of the village together. “Have no fear,” he assured them all. “Our village traditions are safe. As soon as that pandit arrives, you village leaders usher him here to me. I will speak with him in Sanskrit, and all of you will see who is truly learned.

And so on the appointed day the visiting pandit was brought to the house of Dada Thakura, where a high pedestal had been erected. The thakura sat atop it on a plush seat. Seeing this, and having been informed that Dada Thakura wished to converse in Sanskrit, the pandit addressed him by stating, “Kastvam?”, which means, “Who are you?”

In reply Dada Thakura thundered, “Khastvam gastvam ghastvam mastvam castvam chastvam jastvam jhastvam nastvam tastvam thastvam dastvam dhastvam ksatvam!”

The visiting pandit was aghast at this display of blatant foolishness. He instantly feared his reputation; he might become a laughingstock if it became known that he had visited this village and had mixed with such a crazy fellow as sat upon the high throne. Without a further word the pandit offered his pranams to everyone present and turned to leave.

The Thakura’s family and the onlooking villagers laughed and cheered their great Dadaji. “Our Dada Thakura is such a great pandit that this Shastri could not even open his mouth before him. Did you hear how Dadaji spoke Sanskrit? Who in the whole world could stand before him?”


Persons who are very determined to cling to material existence similarly answer the questions “kastvam?” or “Who are you?” with a meaningless barrage of pseudo-science and pseudo- philosophy which is just meant to hide the real answer: that we are eternal servants of Sri Krsna. They are praised by fools and avoided by the truly learned.


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