Simple Living and Varnasrama
By Vrindavanlila Devi Dasi
A few years ago, when I was bringing my friend’s dog to my place for a few days, I realized that he had no belongings save the feeding bowl and the leash! In a moment it made me feel inferior. I with all my ‘intelligence’ had so many requirements and so many attachments in life. The dog was ‘rich’ as he had met all his requirements, while I was ‘needy’ with all the flaming desires in my heart. How complicated I had made my life! Not surprisingly all the religions and their holy scriptures instruct one to follow a life of renunciation and sacrifice. They instruct one to move from ‘body-consciousness’, which is the source of all our false attachments to ‘God-consciousness’, which is the source of all bliss. Our basic requirements are so less, yet how foolishly we spend our life in chasing those temporary material acquisitions, further at the expense of permanent spiritual acquisitions. We have limited time and we utilize it more for meeting bodily requirements and if not nil, next to negligible for spiritual requirements. The two are inversely related to each other. India, which is citadel of spiritual culture, has the tradition of “simple living and high thinking”. Indians minimize their bodily requirements so that they have more time to focus upon their spiritual cultivation. Frugality which is a tradition for India is poverty for westerners.
What is a ‘simple’ living? This body is nothing but just a lump of flesh, bones, blood, urine and stool, which has its value as long as it has a soul inside. It defines a saintly person should take just enough to keep body and soul together – deho varteta yavata (SB 11.8.9). The endeavor that goes in this defines simple living. The next question is what is ‘high’ thinking, for which we are sacrificing so much? ‘High thinking’ is to understand the ‘God’ better. Who is the original creator? To understand ourselves- who are we? How are we related to each other? What is the purpose of our life? How to attain the goal of our life? In the Bhagavad-gita, Krsna says, “The actual aim of Vedic research is to find out Krsna.” But we have failed so miserably in pursuing this Vedic research that we have already wasted 84 lakh life times chasing an illusion and still continue to do so. Especially in this age, everything is contrary to ideal standards of life. The panacea lies in following Varëäçrama dharma, which has been created by the Lord Himself and which offers a conducive atmosphere to pursue this path of realization. It gives everybody an opportunity to be stationed in their ‘natural’ guna and varna and still serve the Lord.
[The above is an excerpt from the author’s ‘Introduction’ to The Fourth Wave: A Collection of HH Bhakti Raghava Swami’s Essays on Daiva Varnasrama and appeared in THE EIGHT PETALS, an e-newsletter in support of Varnasrama dharma] For more details, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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