Kalidasa was an uncle of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami. Throughout his entire life, even in his old age, he tried to eat the remnants of food left by Vaisnavas. Kalidasa ate the remnants of food of as many Vaisnavas as there were in Bengal. He would go to all the Vaisnavas born in brahmana families, be they neophyte or advanced devotees, and present them gifts of first-class eatables.
He would beg remnants of food from such Vaisnavas, and if he did not receive any, he would hide. After the Vaisnavas finished eating, they would throw away their dishes or leaves, and Kalidasa would come out of hiding, take the leaves and lick up the remnants. He would also take gifts to the homes of Vaisnavas born in sudra families. Then he would hide and eat the remnants of food they threw away in this manner. There was a great Vaisnava named Jhadu Thakura, who belonged to the bhunimali caste. Kalidasa went to his home, taking mangoes with him.
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura remarks that both Kalidasa and Jhadu Thakura are worshiped at a place called Sripatabati, in the village known as Bhedo or Bhaduya. This village is situated about three miles south of the village of Krsnapura, the birthplace of Raghunatha dasa Gosvami, which is about one mile west of the Byandel junction of the Burdwan line. A post office there is named Devananda-pura. Jhadu Thakura used to worship the Deity of Sri Madana-gopala. The Deity is still worshiped by one Ramaprasada dasa, who belongs to the ramayet community. It is said that the Deity worshiped by Kalidasa had been worshiped until now in the village of Sankhya on the bank of the Sarasvati River, but the Deity has been taken away by a gentleman named Matilala Cattopadhyaya from the village of Triveni. The Deity is now being worshiped at his place.
Kalidasa presented the mangoes to Jhadu Thakura and offered him respectful obeisances. Then he also offered respectful obeisances to the Thakura's wife.
When Kalidasa went to Jhadu Thakura, he saw that saintly person sitting with his wife. As soon as Jhadu Thakura saw Kalidasa, he likewise offered his respectful obeisances unto him. After a discussion for some time with Kalidasa, Jhadu Thakura said something to him in sweet words. "I belong to a low caste, and you are a very respectable guest. How shall I serve you? "If you will permit me, I shall send some food to a brahmana's house, and there you may take prasada. If you do so, I shall then live very comfortably." Kalidasa replied, "My dear sir, please bestow your mercy upon me. I have come to see you, although I am very fallen and sinful. "Simply by seeing you, I have become purified. I am very obligated to you, for my life is now successful. "My dear sir, I have one desire. Please be merciful to me by kindly placing your feet upon my head so that the dust on your feet may touch it." Jhadu Thakura replied, "It does not befit you to ask this of me. I belong to a very low-caste family, whereas you are a respectable rich gentleman." Kalidasa then recited some verses, which Jhadu Thakura was very happy to hear. "Even though one is a very learned scholar in Sanskrit literature, if he is not engaged in pure devotional service, he is not accepted as My devotee. But if someone born in a family of dog-eaters is a pure devotee with no motives for enjoyment through fruitive activity or mental speculation, he is very dear to Me. All respect should be given to him, and whatever he offers should be accepted, for such devotees are indeed as worshipable as I am.' "A person may be born in a brahmana family and have all twelve brahminical qualities, but if in spite of being qualified he is not devoted to the lotus feet of Lord Krsna, who has a navel shaped like a lotus, he is not as good as a candala who has dedicated his mind, words, activities, wealth and life to the service of the Lord. Simply to take birth in a brahmana family or to have brahminical qualities is not sufficient. One must become a pure devotee of the Lord. If a sva-paca or candala is a devotee, he delivers not only himself but his whole family, whereas a brahmana who is not a devotee but simply has brahminical qualifications cannot even purify himself, not to speak of his family.'
"My dear Lord, anyone who always keeps Your holy name on his tongue is greater than an initiated brahmana. Although he may be born in a family of dog-eaters and therefore, by material calculations, be the lowest of men, he is glorious nevertheless. That is the wonderful power of chanting the holy name of the Lord. One who chants the holy name is understood to have performed all kinds of austerities. He has studied all the Vedas, he has performed all the great sacrifices mentioned in the Vedas, he has already taken his bath in all the holy places of pilgrimage, and it is he who is factually the Aryan.' "
Hearing these quotations from the revealed scripture Srimad-Bhagavatam, Jhadu Thakura replied, "Yes, this is true, for it is the version of sastra. It is true, however, for one who is genuinely advanced in devotion to Krsna.
"Such a position may befit others, but I do not possess such spiritual power. I belong to a lower class and have not even a pinch of devotion to Krsna."
PURPORT by Srila Prabhupada
In his statement, Jhadu Thakura presents himself as being born in a low-caste family and not having the qualifications of a bona fide devotee of Lord Krsna. He accepts the statements declaring a lowborn person highly exalted if he is a Vaisnava. However, he feels that these descriptions from Srimad-Bhagavatam appropriately describe others, but not himself. Jhadu Thakura's attitude is quite befitting a real Vaisnava, for a Vaisnava never considers himself exalted, even if he factually is. He is always meek and humble and never thinks that he is an advanced devotee. He assigns himself to a lower position, but that does not mean that he is indeed low. Sanatana Gosvami once said that he belonged to a low-caste family, for although he was born in a brahmana family, he had associated with mlecchas and yavanas in his service as a government minister. Similarly, Jhadu Thakura presented himself as someone who belonged to a low caste, but he was actually elevated above many persons born in brahmana families. Not only is there evidence for this in Srimad-Bhagavatam, as quoted by Kalidasa in verses 26 and 27; there is also considerable evidence for this conclusion in other sastras. For example, in the Mahabharata, Vana-parva, Chapter 180, it is stated:
sudre tu yad bhavel laksma
dvije tac ca na vidyate
na vai sudro bhavec chudro
brahmano na ca brahmanah
"If the characteristics of a brahmana are found in a sudra and not in a brahmana, that sudra should not be known as a sudra, and that brahmana should not be known as a brahmana."
Similarly, in the Vana-parva, Chapter 211, it is said:
sudra-yonau hi jatasya
"If a person born in a sudra family has developed the qualities of a brahmana, such as satya [truthfulness], sama [peacefulness], dama [self-control] and arjava [simplicity], he attains the exalted position of a brahmana."
In the Anusasana-parva, Chapter 163, it is said:
ksatriyo vatha vaisyo va
brahma-bhuyah sa gacchati
ebhis tu karmabhir devi
subhair acaritais tatha
sudro brahmanatam yati
vaisyah ksatriyatam vrajet
na yonir napi samskaro
na srutam na ca santatih
vrttam eva tu karanam
"If one is factually situated in the occupation of a brahmana, he must be considered a brahmana, even if born of a ksatriya or vaisya family.
"O Devi, if even a sudra is actually engaged in the occupation and pure behavior of a brahmana, he becomes a brahmana. Moreover, a vaisya can become a ksatriya.
"Therefore, neither the source of one's birth, nor his reformation, nor his education is the criterion of a brahmana. The vrtta, or occupation, is the real standard by which one is known as a brahmana."
We have seen that a person who is not the son of a doctor and has not attended a medical college is sometimes able to practice medicine. By practical knowledge of how to perform a surgical operation, how to mix medicine and how to give certain medicines for certain diseases, a person can receive a certificate and be registered as a medical practitioner in the practical field. He can do a medical man's work and be known as a doctor. Although qualified medical men may consider him a quack, the government will recognize his work. Especially in India, there are many such doctors who perform their medical services perfectly. They are accepted even by the government. Similarly, if one is engaged in brahminical service or occupational duties, he must be considered a brahmana despite the family in which he is born. That is the verdict of all the sastras.
In the Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.11.35), it is said:
yasya yal laksanam proktam
yad anyatrapi drsyeta
tat tenaiva vinirdiset
This is a statement by Narada Muni to Maharaja Yudhisthira, wherein Narada says that the symptoms of a brahmana, ksatriya and vaisya are all described in sastra. Therefore, if one is found exhibiting the symptoms and qualities of a brahmana and serving in a brahminical occupation, even if he is not born a brahmana or ksatriya, he should be considered according to his qualifications and occupation.
Similarly, in the Padma purana it is said:
na sudra bhagavad-bhaktas
te tu bhagavata matah
sarva-varnesu te sudra
ye na bhakta janardane
"A devotee should never be considered a sudra. All the devotees of the Supreme Personality of Godhead should be recognized as bhagavatas. If one is not a devotee of Lord Krsna, however, even if born of a brahmana, ksatriya or vaisya family, he should be considered a sudra."
In the Padma Purana it is also said:
sva-pakam iva nekseta
loke vipram avaisnavam
vaisnavo varno-bahyo 'pi
"If a person born in a brahmana family is an avaisnava, a nondevotee, one should not see his face, exactly as one should not look upon the face of a candala, or dog-eater. However, a vaisnava found in varnas other than brahmana can purify all the three worlds."
The Padma Purana further says:
sudram va bhagavad-bhaktam
nisadam sva-pacam tatha
sa yati narakam dhruvam
"One who considers a devotee of the Supreme Personality of Godhead who was born in a family of sudras, nisadas or candalas to belong to that particular caste certainly goes to hell."
A brahmana must be a Vaisnava and a learned scholar. Therefore in India it is customary to address a brahmana as pandita. Without knowledge of Brahman, one cannot understand the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore a Vaisnava is already a brahmana, whereas a brahmana may become a Vaisnava. In the Garuda Purana it is said:
bhaktir asta-vidha hy esa
yasmin mlecche 'pi vartate
sa viprendro muni-sresthah
sa jnani sa ca panditah
"If even a mleccha becomes a devotee, he is to be considered the best of the brahmanas and a learned pandita."
Similarly, Tattva-sagara says:
yatha kancanatam yati
dvijatvam jayate nrnam
"As bell metal is turned to gold when mixed with mercury in an alchemical process, so one who is properly trained and initiated by a bona fide spiritual master becomes a brahmana immediately." All this evidence found in the revealed scriptures proves that according to the Vedic version, a Vaisnava is never to be considered an abrahmana, or non-brahmana. A Vaisnava should not be thought to belong to a lower caste even if born in a mleccha or yavana family. Because he has become a devotee of Lord Krsna, he has become purified and has attained the stage of brahmana (dvijatvam jayate nrnam).
Kalidasa again offered his obeisances to Jhadu Thakura and asked his permission to go. The saint Jhadu Thakura followed him as he left. After bidding farewell to Kalidasa, Jhadu Thakura returned to his home, leaving the marks of his feet plainly visible in many places. Kalidasa smeared the dust from those footprints all over his body. Then he hid in a place near Jhadu Thakura's home. Upon returning home, Jhadu Thakura saw the mangoes Kalidasa had presented. Within his mind he offered them to Krsna-candra. Jhadu Thakura's wife then took the mangoes from their covering of banana tree leaves and bark and offered them to Jhadu Thakura, who began to suck and eat them.
When he finished eating, he left the seeds on the banana leaf, and his wife, after feeding her husband, later began to eat. After she finished eating, she filled the banana leaves and bark with the seeds, picked them up and threw them in the ditch where all the refuse was thrown. Kalidasa licked the banana bark and the mango seeds and skins, and while licking them he was overwhelmed in jubilation by ecstatic love. In this way Kalidasa ate the remnants of food left by all the Vaisnavas residing in Bengal.
(from Srila Prabhupada's translations and purports on the Sri Caitanya Caritamrta)