bhūteṣv antarhitaṁ guṇaiḥ
The wife of the brāhmaṇa did not regard her husband as a superficial brāhmaṇa who was called a brāhmaṇa merely because he was born of a brāhmaṇa family. Rather, this brāhmaṇa was actually qualified with the brahminical symptoms. Yasya yal lakṣaṇaṁ proktam (Bhāg. 7.11.35). The symptoms of a brāhmaṇa are stated in the śāstra:
śamo damas tapaḥ śaucaṁ
kṣāntir ārjavam eva ca
jñānaṁ vijñānam āstikyaṁ
“Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, wisdom, knowledge, and religiousness — these are the qualities by which the brāhmaṇas work.” (Bg. 18.42) Not only must a brāhmaṇa be qualified, but he must also engage in actual brahminical activities. Simply to be qualified is not enough; one must engage in a brāhmaṇa’s duties. The duty of a brāhmaṇa is to know the paraṁ brahma, Kṛṣṇa (paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān). Because this brāhmaṇa was actually qualified and was also engaged in brahminical activities (brahma-karma), killing him would be a greatly sinful act, and the brāhmaṇa’s wife requested that he not be killed.