Is becoming a brahmin best for us? if yes then why? are we discouraged if we choose a different path?
Based on the nature a person has acquired from material modes; he can be classified to be belonging to one of the varnas.
There are 4 varnas Viz. Brahmin,Kshatriya,Vaishya and Shudra. The predominating modes that drive these four classes are:
- Brahmin-Mode of Goodness
- Kshatriya-Mode of passion
- Vaishya -mix of passion and Ignorance
- Shudra-mode of Ignorance
This is mentioned in 18th Chapter of Gita.
Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness – these are the natural qualities by which the brāhmaṇas work.
Brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras are distinguished by the qualities born of their own natures in accordance with the material modes, O chastiser of the enemy.
Now in 3rd Chapter Krishna says
Even a man of knowledge acts according to his own nature, for everyone follows the nature he has acquired from the three modes. What can repression accomplish?
It is far better to discharge one’s prescribed duties, even though faultily, than another’s duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, for to follow another’s path is dangerous.
So here Krishna is urging Arjuna to execute his duty of Kshatriya. Because its nature of Kashtriya to fight for right cause.
Krishna does not ask Arjuna to change his position of being a Kshatriya. So God Himself is not supporting 'Becoming someone that you are not' .
If someone has acquired Brahminical qualities he has to develop and enhance such qualities and engage them in service of God.
It is not encouraged to become a Brahmin if someone is not. Same thing goes for all other Varnas(Classes).
I am assuming that you are talking about the Brahmin Varna.
No,neither it is possible nor desired for everyone to become a Brahmin.
The four varnas(castes) viz the Brahmana,Kshatriya,Vaisya and the Sudras are created by the Almighty and to each of them he assigned separate duties.Everyone is supposed to follow his own courses and not those of the others.
For example,for the Kshatriyas ,protecting his subjects & allied jobs are the highest duties.
Manu Smriti 7.144. The highest duty of a Kshatriya is to protect his subjects, for the king who enjoys the rewards, just mentioned, is bound to (discharge that) duty.
So,it is not needed for a Kshatriya to become or act like a Brahmin.
Similarly for the Sudras,the highest duty is simply service to the higher varnas.
9.334. But to serve Brahmanas (who are) learned in the Vedas, householders, and famous (for virtue) is the highest duty of a Sudra, which leads to beatitude.
You can get an idea about what are the prescribed duties for each of the 4 castes from following verse:
Manu Smriti 11.235. (The pursuit of sacred) knowledge is the austerity of a Brahmana, protecting (the people) is the austerity of a Kshatriya, (the pursuit of) his daily business is the austerity of a Vaisya, and service the austerity of a Sudra.
It is also an offence for anyone belonging to any of the 4 castes to omit a prescribed duty.For example:
Manu Smriti 11.44. A man who omits a prescribed act, or performs a blamable act, or cleaves to sensual enjoyments, must perform a penance.
And,it is also recommended that one does his own duties as determined by his varna rather than trying to fulfill duties which are prescribed for some other varnas to fulfill:
Manu Smriti 10.97. It is better (to discharge) one’s own (appointed) duty incompletely than to perform completely that of another; for he who lives according to the law of another (caste) is instantly excluded from his own.
So,a simple NO is the answer to your question.
Yes, becoming a brāhmaṇa is the best thing and everyone should strive for it. After all, brāhmaṇa-like qualities are not easy to master.
As Yudhiṣṭhira declares in Nahuṣa-praśna from Vana-parva of Mahābhārata there are 7 qualities that are the hallmarks of a true brāhmaṇa.
The serpent said, 'O Yudhishthira, say -- Who is a Brahmana and what should be known? By thy speech I infer thee to be highly intelligent.'
"Yudhishthira said, 'O foremost of serpents, he, it is asserted by the wise, in whom are seen truth, charity, forgiveness, good conduct, benevolence, observance of the rites of his order and mercy is a Brahmana.
Yudhiṣṭhira further explains how a brāhmaṇa by birth who lacks those 7 virtues is no superior than a śūdra.
The serpent said, 'O Yudhishthira, truth, charity, forgiveness, benevolence, benignity, kindness and the Veda which worketh the benefit of the four orders, which is the authority in matters of religion and which is true, are seen even in the Sudra. As regards the object to be known and which thou allegest is without both happiness and misery, I do not see any such that is devoid of these.'
Yudhishthira said, Those characteristics that are present in a Sudra, do not exist in a Brahmana; nor do those that are in a Brahmana exist in a Sudra. And a Sudra is not a Sudra by birth alone -- nor a Brahmana is Brahmana by birth alone. He, it is said by the wise, in whom are seen those virtues is a Brahmana. And people term him a Sudra in whom those qualities do not exist, even though he be a Brahmana by birth. And again, as for thy assertion that the object to be known (as asserted by me) doth not exist, because nothing exists that is devoid of both (happiness and misery), such indeed is the opinion, O serpent, that nothing exists that is without (them) both. But as in cold, heat doth not exist, nor in heat, cold, so there cannot exist an object in which both (happiness and misery) cannot exist?"