Establishing VAD Universities

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By Ameyatma das

Hare Krsna

Please Accept my worthless obesiances at your feet. All glories to ISKCON’s Founder-Acharya, HDG AC Bhaktivedanta Swami - Srila Prabhupad.

I am writing this article in response to Karuna Das’s article
(http://www.dandavats.com/?p=3917) “Varnasrama”, and to a number of VAD related articles appearing on Dandavats.com. Rather then just write a comment, I have decided to write a quick article instead.

I first heard the Vrndaban Varnashram Morning Walk tapes of 1974 when they first arrived from India. I was working with Krsna Kanti prabhu at the time in the Golden Avatar studios, and when the tapes arrived I had the service of opening them, placing them on the tape deck and making a master copy duplicate. As I did this I was the very first to hear those tapes when they arrived in the US. (By Krishna’s arrangement, those were the only tapes were the first and last that I performed that service as I joined the BBT art department just after this).

In those talks Srila Prabhupad gave the instruction that he wanted Varnarshram dharma established in all of his temples, immediately, he said. That was 33 years ago, and still today this instruction has not manifest.

I also noted from day one that it seemed devotees who were there with him did not grasp a clear understanding of what Srila Prabhupad was saying, and I admit that I also did not understand it clearly myself the fist time I heard the tapes. Ramesvar immediately had the BBT publish a book on the transcripts of those tapes. And I made myself a personal set of tapes from the original unedited tapes which I have to this day. The recordings took place over many days, 3-4 or so.

9 years later in 1983 I was speaking privately with Ramesvar and asked him why the ISKCON temples have not implemented those instructions? Why Varnarshram Dharma had not yet been established. He immediately snapped back, paraphrasing from memory, “How can we establish VAD when the GBC have no idea what that means?” And he refused to discuss the idea any further.

Then, about 10-12 years ago I was digitizing my cassette tapes and I rediscovered the Vrndaban VAD Morning Walk tapes and this time when I played them I grasped a very clear, crystal clear, understanding of the very simple thing that Srila Prabhupad was saying that seemed to allude everyone all these years.

What I see has been misunderstood: What I see has been misunderstood was that everyone was thinking how to apply the Varnas to them brahminically trained current members of ISKCON. From the day he spoke and for decades afterwards when devotees would discuss how to implement VAD one major contention was: So many ISKCON devotees are already initiated as Brahmana, how can some now become ksatriya, vaishya and especially sudras? In fact, Ramesvar asked me that same question when I raised the topic with him years ago. Since the majority members of any society is sudra, how can we institute VAD in our temples where the entire membership population is to be trained brahmanas? This has been a puzzling issue. Some devotees wanted to become ksatriya, or vaishya, but, few were running out demanding to be known as sudra. After all, we had been trained by SP to become Brahmanas. And, the GBC were also asking, “How can we force many brahman initiated devotees to now become sudra?”

What I finally realized, 20 years after first hearing those tapes, was that this is not what SP was asking us to do. He was not asking us, his direct followers, to take up the different varnas. No. Not At ALL. As he always said, ISKCON was established to train up a class of first class men, Brahmanas, who will lead the society. What I finally grasped was that what Srila Prabhupad was asking us to do was really very simple.

He had trained us to become brahmanas, and brahmanas are the teachers for society. As teachers he wanted us to established VAD based “Colleges” in our temples. Colleges or schools where the Brahminically trained teachers would then teach others their Varnas.

What would this have meant if, back in 1974, we had actually implemented the VAD based schools that SP instructed we open in each of his temples?

What would have happened is that not very many new members would have been trained to become brahmana after that date. Rather, those whom SP had more personally and directly trained to become brahman would have been acting as teachers in the schools and would need to evaluate each new member to see where their propensities lay, then, in cooperation with that new member, they would send them to the appropriate department and that new member would be trained in his appropriate varna.

If the new member desired to work on the farms doing manual labor, then they would be trained by the appropriate Brahmana who had knowledge in those varnas and would be sent to our farms to work as Vaishnav Sudras. If they were inclined to take up art and crafts, then they would be trained by the appropriate brahmana in the shilpa arts (which is sudra class) and engage in cottage industry arts and crafts. If inclined toward construction and building, or jewelry making, black or gold smithing, dance or drama, again, these are all sudra arts, they would be trained by the appropriate brahminically trained teachers. Those who were inclined to take up cottage based business, become land holders and protect the cows, they would be trained by the appropriate Brahman devotee to become Vaishya Those whose inclination was as protector of the society, who desired to administer the arm of the law, they would be trained by the appropriate Brahmana initiated devotee and be trained as Ksatriyas. Eventually society would see that a ksatriya who was properly trained and graduated from our temple universities will make the best government leaders and those graduates would find themselves in demand being elected as Senators, Governors, and even Presidents of their nations. Then, those fewer new members who were inclined to shastric studies and puja, or teaching, or as doctors and medicine, they would be trained as brahmanas.

Thus, if ISKCON had implemented that VAD school instructions as SP told us to do at the time, back in 1974, then a majority of the new members since that date would NOT have been trained to become brahmanas, but would have been trained to take up the varna they were best suited for, and our farming communities would be over flowing the trained vaishyas and artisans and craftsmen able to build sustainable communities. Even though the majority would be trained in Sudra arts and crafts and labor, each and every new member would become Vaishnav. Devotee of God. Even if they worship God as Yaweh or Allah, they are more then welcome to come and study in our schools and be trained by brahmana Vaishanvas.

This is the clear vision that I have imbued from study of SP’s teachings on VAD.

That is how we are to establish VAD. Via schools, via training. SP trained a class of Brahmanas and he gave us the duty to teaching the mass society as the “Teachers”, as the brahminical heads. And, not all, in fact, only a small fraction, of new members would be trained to the brahminical standards after we implement the VAD schools.

Hoping this meets you all in good health. Aspiring to become your most humble and worthy servant, the lowly ameyatma das
(ACBSP)

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1 sita-pati

I believe that this article accurately describes the situation, with two additional caveats. In addition to situating newcomers according to their propensity, Srila Prabhupada also wanted that 1) existing devotees who required it (not brahminical by nature or able to sufficiently transcend identification with their nature) would be resituated, and 2) existing devotees who were sufficiently transcendental to their conditioned nature would adopt the external roles of the various occupations in order to provide the ideal example of that occupation.

In other words, Varnasrama-dharma is for everyone. Those who need it, need it. Those who don’t need it, need to give the ideal example to others.

It’s never too late to start, and the distilling clarity on this subject is a good sign of progress.

Comment posted by sita-pati on July 30th, 2007
2 Unregistered

Good points here, IMHO. Srila Prabhupada said that “every center” should be a varnashrama college. Perhaps if spiritual masters began following the direction below from SB it would help.

“The people who take birth in this tract of land are divided according to the qualities of material nature — the modes of goodness [sattva-guna], passion [rajo-guna], and ignorance [tamo-guna]. Some of them are born as exalted personalities, some are ordinary human beings, and some are extremely abominable, for in Bharata — varsa one takes birth exactly according to one’s past karma. If one’s position is ascertained by a bona fide spiritual master and one is properly trained to engage in the service of Lord Visnu according to the four social divisions [brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya and sudra] and the four spiritual divisions [brahmacari, grhastha, vanaprastha and sannyasa], one’s life becomes perfect.” SB 5.19.19

Comment posted by Chintamani on August 12th, 2007
3 Unregistered

Jaya Ameyatma Prabhu
please accept my humble obeisances, jaya Srila Prabhupada

I believe the concept I was trying to convey was absolutely grasped by your text and wonderfully further elaborated. Thank you very much for giving me more insight into this issue.

your servant
Karuna Das

Comment posted by Karuna on August 12th, 2007
4 Caitanya candrodaya dasa

Is there any way to hear the original unedited tapes. As you said: ” I made myself a personal set of tapes from the original unedited tapes which I have to this day.”?

Even from edited tapes Prabhupadas intent was very clear, but still it would be such a benefit for all of us to hear it without cuts and edits.

Thank you for very personal and in fact amazing recollection of what happened and the reaction of then management. Of course a lot has changed to the social dynamics in ISKCON since then, but such radical thinking is always an inspiration to hear. Thank you.

your servant

Caitanya candrodaya dasa

Comment posted by Caitanya candrodaya dasa on August 13th, 2007
5 dayananda

In the Vedic varnasrama tradition yajna is in the center. In this age, yajna is sankirtana. Successful teaching and establishing varnasrama requires that sankirtana be taught explicitly as its theme. Sankirtana is not an implicit part; it must be explicitly linked to each varna, asrama, and the cooperation of all of varnasrama.

Comment posted by dayananda on August 13th, 2007
6 Unregistered

I agree with Dayananda

Comment posted by Karuna on August 16th, 2007
7 Citraketu dasa

Hare Krsna!
Please accept my humble obeisances!
All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Actually, this was an issue with slavery. They would sometimes mercilessly beat the slave child for reading. They needed sudras to do the work. The didn’t want slaves to get ideas possibly becoming less respectful, submissive and obedient.

But, we do want to be as obedient as possible to the pure devotees of the Lord. One great Acarya in the Vaisnava Parampara was illiterate, but he was literate in the essentials of the science of Krsna consciousness.

Most schools have a choice of study plans. Normally people get married and need a particular occupation to pay the bills. The choose a career and study accordingly. Then if one become a crafts person then they are always in company with crafts people. A crafts person may be a brick layer or an electrician, for instance. Therefore, they may call themselves a brick layer or an electrician. According to Vedic understanding these occupations are different types of sudra labor. However, even as a crafts person there may be higher and lower levels similar to different Varnas. One crafts person may be more common labor, another crafts person may be more expert with money handling, another crafts person may be good at management, another crafts person may be good at higher intellectual concerns. The devotee crafts person may also be good at being an example of Krsna consciousness to others at work, at home and in society in general.

Over-all, we can see the advancement to godliness related to classifications according to Varna. It takes virtuous behavior just to do sudra and vaisya work. We see virtues more clearly stated for the Ksatriya and then the brahmana. The Paramahamsa has all godly virtues. Godly virtue is the concern because we are seeing different levels of awakening for the all-godly spirit soul that is part and parcel of the All-Godly Supreme Personality of Godhead.

We become godly through the actions of the mind, words and body. We associate with the All-Godly Supreme Personality of Godhead through His pure devotees, and His teachings. We also associate with the Supreme Personality of Godhead through devotional meditations, especially on the Holy Names or simply the Maha-mantra.:

HARE KRSNA HARE KRSNA
KRSNA KRSNA HARE HARE
HARE RAMA HARE RAMA
RAMA RAMA HARE HARE

Your servant in Krsna consciousness,
Citraketu dasa

Comment posted by Citraketu dasa on July 8th, 2008
8 Akruranatha

I am trying to visualize how practically such a college would work, for example here at my local temple.

Maybe I am being a little dense and unimaginative. We are not really talking about vocational training, right?

At my temple, we have a lot of software engineers, a couple physicists, a medical researcher, some contractors, plumbers, truck drivers, cab drivers, hotel owners, a registered nurse, an emergency medical tech (now retired), a licensed massage therapist, various office clerical workers, and probably devotees with many other occupations (I think I am still the only local devotee attorney).

Obviously, our temple is not going to teach people how to be nurses, lawyers, engineers, scientists, carpenters, electricians or what have you. There are other places people go to learn how to practice those kinds of occupations. Generally, you have to learn from someone who already knows how. The temple couldn’t possibly teach nursing or other specialized vocations.

So what exactly *would* our local Varnasrama College teach? Will there be some kind of specialized spiritual training I need as a lawyer that would be different from the spiritual training of a doctor or a hotel owner? If so, what is it? How will it benefit us?

These are the kinds of practical questions I am having trouble wrapping my mind around. It seems that all the “varnashrama” discussions remain at a very theoretical level. I want to understand, in concrete terms, what actions will come from all this theory, and what effects will come from such actions.

That kind of discussion I am eager to hear. It seems like we are starting to at least move in that direction, but I still have no clear picture of what this college will do, how it will do it, and what will be the benefit.

It does not seem that we will all be asked to quit our jobs and move to a farm community or city ashram where our families’ economic needs will somehow be met. That is not what anyone is talking about, is it?

[Or is it? It may be a laudable project to create a completely independent devotee economy, a real “Gita nagari”, but it is not what we are doing here at ISV.]

We have our various jobs, trades and professions, which we learned in much the same way as everyone else does. Now, what is it we are supposed to learn at Varnasrama College? How will it be different from Bhagavatam class and Bhagavad Gita class? And why?

Comment posted by Akruranatha on July 11th, 2008
9 Akruranatha

Some Christian fundamentalists in the U.S. create their own colleges. There has been a kind of political scandal during the current administration because the U.S. Justice Department hired a lot of lawyers from some evangelical law school (I forget whether it was Bob Jones or Jerry Fallwell or whatever). It is argued and apparently believed by a large (non-evangelical) section of the U.S. public that these are inferior schools that produce inferior lawyers, and that these politically motivated hirings were a mistake.

[I know nothing about the quality of education students get at Oral Roberts School of Law (or whatever), and what kind of admissions policies they have, or who their faculty is. I do have some idea, though, that the students and their training is probably inferior to the Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and other leading law schools.]

Of course there are also big, big colleges and universities that were founded (at least originally) by religious orders like Jesuits or Methodists or even Mormons. I have the impression that in the 18th and much of the 19th centuries one of the big tasks of American universities was to train up clergymen (I think I read something by Robert Bellah about that) Largely, though, as the demands U.S. society has placed on universities grew and changed, the religious component of going to Georgetown (a Jesuit school) or Southern Methodist Univ., or even Brigham Young Univ. (a respected Mormon school), takes a back seat to the secular academic standards and performance.

The point is, it takes a lot or resources to run a good law school or medical school or even an agricultural college or vocational institute. What makes us think that if ISKCON ran an ag college or even a truck driver academy, our truck drivers or dental hygienists or whatever would be prized more than some other academy’s graduates?

I am not, obviously, disagreeing with Srila Prabhupada’s instructions re Varnasrama Colleges. I am just admitting that I still do not understand them and hope someone can clarify for me how these colleges will work, what will be the curriculum, who will make up the faculty, and what will they do different from other existing educational institutions.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on July 11th, 2008
10 Kulapavana

Ameyatma prabhu, let me see if I understand you correctly. You write:
“Thus, if ISKCON had implemented that VAD school instructions as SP told us to do at the time, back in 1974, then a majority of the new members since that date would NOT have been trained to become brahmanas, but would have been trained to take up the varna they were best suited for, and our farming communities would be over flowing the trained vaishyas and artisans and craftsmen able to build sustainable communities. Even though the majority would be trained in Sudra arts and crafts and labor, each and every new member would become Vaishnav. Devotee of God. Even if they worship God as Yaweh or Allah, they are more then welcome to come and study in our schools and be trained by brahmana Vaishanvas. ”

What exactly makes you think that pre-1974 devotees were actually qualified to teach others all these things? Our movement does not a very good record (to put it mildly) when it comes to creating educational institutions even on the elementary level. Being a teacher requires both actual knowledge and the ability to convey it to others. Most pre-1974 devotees were ex-hippies with very few life skills. Do you think that after a few years in the movement all of a sudden they were qualified to act as brahmanas posessing knowledge to teach others how to build sustainable communities for example? Do you know of any pre-1974 sustainable ISKCON communities? You can’t teach to others what you do not know yourself.

I think I understand what Srila Prabhupada meant when he said that our temples and farms should become educational centers for the varnashrama society. First we must develop our own working society where ACTUAL (not make believe) brahmanas, kshatriyas, vaishyas, sudras, brahmacaris, grihasthas, vanaprasthas, and sannyasis work together in a sustainable fashion. Then and ONLY then we can expect others to even have a desire to become trained by us.

After close to 35 years (counting from 1974) we still have a long way to go.

Comment posted by Kulapavana on July 11th, 2008
11 Citraketu dasa

Hare Krsna!
PAMHO AGTSP

What will be the curriculum?

Of course, some work would have to be done to deal with any maya in text books. Eventually text books could be completely rewritten in accordance with Varnasrama Dharma, Bhagavat Dharma, and Krsna consciousness. There are text books and educational materials for all branches of knowledge.

Who will make up the faculty?

Those who have proven advanced in understanding the principles of Dharma in Krsna consciousness as well as expertise in a particular field of study.

What will they do different from other existing educational institutions?

Initially there is a need for all orders, all career types to fully understand the four legs of Dharma which are godly virtues such as cleanliness, self-control, temperance, honesty, education, charity, and mercy. In other words, some may need special training program just to understand these principles and then how to make them happen at home, at school and at work. Otherwise, the idea is to follow these godly virtues at school and in employment. Ultimately, these godly virtues result in devotion and surrender to Guru, Sastra, Sadhu and Krsna.

Therefore, even the ditch digger and the janitor learn sufficient understanding of Dharma principles to maintain these godly virtues in all these endeavors. And, so on up the ladder we see the other crafts peoples, service workers, financial management, lawyers, law enforcement, teachers, priests. They all need to learn how to develop and maintain the four legs of Dharma.

Even the ditch diggers and garbage collectors can have people over to the house for refreshments and discussion of Dharma in Krsna consciousness. They can also simply turn on some Hare Krsna video or music while enjoying Krsna Prasad.

Whatever kind of work we do we need to learn an understanding that there is a higher purpose for our labors. The higher purpose is not just the selflessness of supporting our family. The higher purpose we need to learn is our relationship with the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Therefore, there should be a striving for ideals and higher standards of orderliness and cleanliness .

Your servant in Krsna consciousness,
Citraketu dasa

Comment posted by Citraketu dasa on July 11th, 2008
12 Akruranatha

I guess one thing that might be taught at Varnasrama College is, as Dayananda states, *cooperation* for sankirtan yajna.

“By worship of the Lord, who is the source of all beings and who is all-pervading, a man can attain perfection by performance of his own work.” (B.G. 18.46)

We all have different qualities of our gross and subtle bodies that we are born with, that suit us to work in different ways. There is absolutely no reason to be ashamed to be a sudra or vaisya. (In fact, the saying goes, kalau sudra sambhavah). What would be a real shame is if we did not engage ourselves fiully, according to our propensities, in properly glorifying Krishna.

So, first and foremost, Varnasrama College should teach all the devotees to recognize that although we each do different service according to the qualities we were born with (not the family we were born in, but our actually work and the qualities that go along with them), we are all serving a common purpose in the sankirtan yajna. The arms and legs and head and stomach all have to do their respective functions to make the social body work well.

In modern society, young people spend a lot of energy worrying about what they ought to do for a living. Sooner or later their fate catches up witrh them and they fall into doing something, although it may not be what they are most suited for.

I do not know if I trust all of our ISKCON initiated brahmanas to go start assigning everyone a job according to perceived qualities, at least not right now. But I do see the value in at least the ideal that each person can be properly engaged in doing something they are suited to doing, which serves the needs of society, and knowing how to see and perform such engagement as service to Krishna.

It is not so much that the college will teach certain men to work with heroism, power, courage in battle, leadership and generosity and they will become Ksatriyas. Rather, there are men who already have such qualities and they should be encouaged to find a way to use them in devotional service, just as others naturally have self-control, austerity, honesty, tolerance, etc.

Now, will we run our own police academies and army boot camps for Ksatriya devotees? I do not see that in the near future anyway.

But if our Varnasrama Colleges can teach devotees how to cooperate better to make ISKCON’s sankirtan mission more and more successful, that will be a valuable education indeed.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on July 12th, 2008
13 Akruranatha

Sometimes I get a sense that there are too many controversies in ISKCON, that they are holding us back, interfering with the kind of unity and cooperation we need to get Lord Caitanya’s message broadcast widely per Srila Prabhupada’s wishes.

Other times I feel that controversies are to be expected in any society, and there is just a jarring quality to some of the ISKCON controversies for certain reasons.

Our philosophy is that when society puts Krishna in the center then there will naturally be harmony and unity. (Of course there is variety also, and there are even “camps” in the spiritual world, but the existence of variety and competition there does not disturb the pure atmosphere of the internal energy where everything is done in unalloyed devotion for Krishna’s pleasure.)

Maybe controversies stand out more in ISKCON because we don’t expect them. We have an idealized sense that we are all supposed to be pure devotees, immune from the influence of the Age of Quarrel.

Or maybe we have a hard time processing disagreements because our ideal is to just do what Krishna wants, so when a difference of opinion arises we have a very black and white attitude: You are either with Krishna or you are a demon. You are either a pure devotee or a nonsense rascal (and if you disagree with me you must be the latter).

Of course it is true that with Krishna in the center there is harmony and unity, and our every move should be guided by what Krishna wants. Still, we need to recognize that Krishna wants devotees to be able to deal with controversies better and work cooperatively in unity and harmony.

That paramount desire of Krishna may require a more subtle and nuanced approach to resolving disputes and dealing with controversy, one that recognizes that devotees can legitimately have differences of opinion even on important topics, and that permits devotees to admit that they are not yet perfect, but are at least “rightly situated,” and their opinions are worthy of respect even though we may disagree with them.

I am not sure how this relates to Varnasrama Dharma but I think it does somehow. The Varnasrama system acknowledges that people have different natures, that they work according to their nature (rather than pretending to transcend it), and the whole system is to promote harmony and unity under the guidance of real holy men for the pleasure of God.

Whether our philosophy and practice promotes harmony will be judged by the results.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on July 15th, 2008
14 ccd

There is huge variety of things that can be taught in the VA college. I remember a first encounter with this concept in detail, when we were designing a large complex for it in Mayapur and Hridanayanada Maharaja was to head it there. He visited a few times and supervised it for a while, but as with any educational institution, there is serious need of investment. But the key would be a variety, as Varna-ashrama Dharma would mean different things depending on who is teaching it. So many thing relate to it, starting from Sankirtana (as a yajna) to social and communal projects (as varnas). The last thing we should think about is the caste system. Our acharyas denounced and represented missions to put it to the end. We should do the same, so one purpose of VA college is to denounce evil cast system that is still a prominent element of some fundamentalist’s thoughts. Not only the result that is important, also the intent, we should see what was the message and not just the words of the acharyas, as words without the message means fanatical following. Who needs it?

Comment posted by ccd on July 16th, 2008
15 Unregistered

IMHO,I believe that the creation of self-sufficient vedic communities would be a great start to establish VAD,as most devotees are now living among karmis and doing karmi jobs,such as lawyer,doctor,IT technicians,bankers,supermarkets etc..Such jobs can be quite full of karma,as they have to exist with the present establishment,whose materialistic objectives have nothing to do with devotional service,but aim at maximizing profits at all costs.

For example,the qualified doctor has to prescribe medicines that are known to be harmful to the body,due to serious side effects,but they are prescribed so as to make the pharma business a very profitable one. While on the self-sufficient farm,an ayurvedic doctor would cure most diseases by herbal remedies,that are grown on the farm. Residents on such a farm would be of very good health,due to organic products,and pure cow’s milk. The actual milk and milk products we are now taking is full of hormones and other chemicals,and the cows are badly treated and eventually killed after a lifetime of milk-giving.

On such a farm,there is always a need for carpenters,potters,artists,planters,cowboys, etc and they all will live in good consciousness,as they can go to all spiritual functions,morning or evening. The most intellectual and examplary ones give classes,while those with administrative qualities manage the farm,which should not grow too big[ 500?]If such projects are planned all over the world,soon,other non-devotees would be impressed by the simple living style,devoid of stress and clean,and will imitate,as the fuel crisis is now favouring such establishments.Actually,there are already such projects among non-devotees,but not all are vegetarian.

It is not conceivable that the present demoniac rulers would agree for a quick change in their way of life:they have a definite agenda,full of great mistakes,and can lead the world to destruction. France President is pushing for nuclear power,which is very dangerous….but will he listen to devotees regarding gobar gas fuel?

I believe that the devotee farms could be the ideal refuge in case of nuclear war,that can destroy great cities.

Comment posted by cidanandas on July 19th, 2008
16 Unregistered

Without the good intelligence of real brahmanas to guide a varnashram society, the whole thing must fail. However, please simultaneously consider Srila Saraswati Thakur’s bold declaration that true Vaishnavas are to be esteemed above even brahmanas. Because of their extreme compassion and naturally inherent spirit of supreme self-sacrifice in complete harmony with the Divine Will; a real Vaishnava may perfectly serve Sri Guru, God (and subsequently all other living entities) in any capacity within the four varnas and ashrams.

The real problem in terms of any type of education process is getting people to actually think (reflect for themselves). Srila Bhaktivinode considers basic thoughtlessness and/or unawakenedness to be the primary problem inhibiting either individual or collective social progress. For the more than quarter century since I first read Srila Bhaktivinode’s Bhagavat speech, I have contemplated that the singular principle of awakening the uniquely subjective thoughts of an individual student might effectively prove the basis of a new system of education wherein satellite-like students become truly reflective of their studies (in a Bhaktivinodian manner).

Unfortunately, many people spend entire lifetimes in vocations which they actually detest. Vocation is not the same as “avocation” (which implies a deeper affection for a unique individual’s natural life’s work). Varnashram means to have uniquely intuitive and astute avocational guidance into what specific innate skills each individual embodied soul might possess in their lifelong attempt to achieve sympathetic or harmonious dealings with the environment which comprises ‘their” world. When souls are actually engaged according to their true natural propensity (avocation) from among the four varnas they derive the natural fulfillment of being an intrinsically functional component working for the mutually beneficial, self-sufficient harmony of the Entirety.

However, as history demonstrates time and again, the emergency or crisis of any given moment may cause a brahmana to be forced to act as an administrator or farmer and simply “do the needful” for the real fundamental benefit of all the people. Nowadays, many apparently disdain the grueling sweat and grimy dirtiness which occurs when farming (or doing any hard work). This becomes an especially critical obstacle when considerable collective toil is immediately required to truly achieve successful harmonious self-sufficiency.

Comment posted by jagabandhu dasa on August 14th, 2008
17 Akruranatha

“But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes. ”

From “Two Tramps In Mud Time”, by Robert Frost

Sorry, Jagabandhu Prabhu’s last comment called to mind this poem about working for some reason other than to get paid, “for heaven’s sake.”

yajnarthat karmano ‘nyatra loko ‘yam karma bandhana

Karma-yoga and bhakti-yoga are really the same thing, because the duties one performs in bhakti yoga may be (usually are) in accordance with one’s proper behavior and work according to varnasrama dharma. Or, to put it the other way around, the whole purpose of performing one’s duties according to varna and asrama must be to satisfy Hari, or else one really wastes one’s time in a very important sense.

It is not that we have to stop working so we can sit and chant. “Mam anusmara yudhya ca” is a call to keep performing our proper social and economic duties according to our specific position, but to do so in full yoga of remembering Krishna and seeking only His satisfaction through such work.

After all, what does He really want from us? He does not need anything, but He does care about “loka sangraham”. People who work in full knowledge and detachment still work beneficially for all of society. They should set an example for those who still work with attachment for the fruits. They should *not* encourage everyone to prematurely “tune in and drop out”.

“Ma te sango ’sta karmani” means we should not be attached to giving up our prescribed material duties.

The problem at the present time, however, is that the institutions of varna and asram are not very well understood. Not only in the vast outside society, but even those of us who read Prabhupada’s books (at least I can speak for myself) may have trouble knowing exactly what our duty is according to varna and asrama. I cannot say what varna I am in, and there are probably some things I am supposed to be doing as a grhastha that I do not know about (or maybe I am not sincere enough to *want* to know about).

Vanaprastha is an asrama we seem to neglect in ISKCON. It is supposed to be a time when husband and wife practice austerity together. I turn 50 in a few months. My wife and I need a good VAD university course on duties of a retired couple.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 15th, 2008
18 Akruranatha

“Thus the Krishna consciousness movement is so nice that there is no need of even designating oneself as brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra, brahmacari, grhastha, vanaprastha or sannyasi. Let everyone be engaged in whatever occupation he now has. Simply let him worship Lord Krishna by the result of his activities in Krishna consciousness. That will adjust the whole situation and everyone will be happy and peaceful within this world.”

“Nectar of Devotion”, from the last paragraph of Part One, Chapter 2, “First Stages of Devotion.”

Of course, Prabhupada also ordered us to establish VAD universities, or that every temple should have (or be?) a VAD university. And we do have at least some system of brahmacari, grhastha and sannyasa in ISKCON. (But it appears to me that the varnas and the vanaprastha asrama are not as prominent at the present time).

There may be specific duties, rules and regulations pertaining to different varnas and asramas we are supposed to know about and follow, and there is a need for qualified and wise teachers who can help us adopt such things practicaly in our actual lives.

In the same chapter of NOD quoted above, Prabhupada discusses the famous “yena tena prakarena” verse, and says that if we stick to this simple universal prescription and prohibition (to always remember Krishna and to never forget Him), then all other rules and regulations will fall into line.

It reminds me of BG 10.10-11. If we are really practicing Krishna consciousness sincerely and constantly, Krishna will enlighten us how to carry out Srila Prabhupada’s instructions for pleasing Him, including the instruction to establish varnasrama dharma.

I just have to admit (please pardon my lamenting) that I am still in the dark about it. Surely I am not yet steady and sincere enough in my hearing, chanting, remembering and worshiping to see how these things can be accomplished.

I only can vaguely grasp the more general outlines, that society should be organized in such a way that the four main kinds of workers should be engaged cooperatively in performing sankirtan yajna for the satisfaction of Krishna.

For example, much of the world is currently absorbed in the spectacle of the Beijing Olympics, a huge endeavor requiring lots of work and cooperation.

Somehow world leaders should organize huge international sankirtan spectacles, with all people using their best talents for glorifying Bhagavad Gita, Bhagavatam and Caitanya Caritamrta.

Comment posted by Akruranatha on August 15th, 2008

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