Varnashrama and Harinam Sankirtan
By Yudhistir Govinda Das
Below is the transcription of Sripad Aindra Prabhu’s reply to a question on why Srila Prabhupada in his final years stressed on Varnashrama. Due to the duration of the reply the whole tape couldn’t be transcribed. If you wish to hear the full tape, you can listen to the recording titled ‘Sara-Grahi Sanga’ available on the 24 hour kirtan website.
“Varnashram is for those who are not having pure devotional sharddha. That’s means pure devotional shradhaa not bhäva not prema but pure devotional shardha. That’s the basis of pure deviton because in the writings of Bhaktivinod Thakur, he de-alinates rather scientifically, distinction between pure devotional shraddha, chäyä shardha and pratibhimba shradha äbhäsa…..
Most devotees have become bewildered by these [Varnashrama] instructions of Srila Prabhupada thinking that establishment of Varnashrama dharma is of utmost importance. But actually the establishment of Varnashrama Dharma was mostly, if you go through all of the recordings of Srila Prabhupada’s conversation etc., with religionist and scientist and what not, you will hear on how he again and again harps on the necessity for there to be a head on human society and that others will be able to function properly only if there is a head to guide them like that, and the whole idea of his teaching against classless society or communism. Which is not classes, but basically just sudra society with a few administrators reaping in at the expense of others which proves that the concept is virtual impossibility.
So In this way Prabhupad mostly focused his preaching to such kinds of people in the direction of you could say sub-religious principle because varnashram is a sub-religious principle not a real religious principle. And even here in Vrindavan there are some morning walks where Prabhupad is discussing Varnashram college and his idea of instituting of Varnashram. His main purpose that I can understand although as you pointed out he said that ‘if they are Vaishnavas why are they falling down?’, but his main purpose was to set an example in the microcosm for the benefit of macrocosm. That was his main intention. Ofcourse in the Chaitanya Charitamrita as far as I remember he mentions that Varnashram is only necessary,it is not necessary, but it is only necessary to the extent there are residues of bodily conception of life. So there are those amongst us in the society of devotes who are determined to remain attached to their bodily conception of life and they will determinately attach themselves to the Upadhi of being a brahmacari or the upädhi of being a sanyasi…… identifying with a particular role that they are endeavoring to model for the benefit of others but many of them inspite of the fact that they were roll modeling as Sanyasis or good little brahmacari’s or Grihastas with redoubled preaching strength and all these things, they fell away.
It’s not that Prabhupada didn’t introduce Varnashram in the sense that certain individuals who are accepting positions in relationship to the Krishna Consciousness society in various ashram practically from the very onset, maybe not in the very beginning but like the time I joined. I joined in 1973 that was 7 years after he the registered society in New York or let’s say 7 years after his preaching actually took off and long before that and even several years before that, atleast. Sixty eight there was the idea amongst the devotees of Grihastas, Brahmacari and Sanyasis. So they had their safety net to fall back on in terms of human existence. Varnashram is the beginning of human life, but did that stop them from falling down? You understand my point?…… That the reason why they fell down is because they were not sufficiently encouraged to pursue the Paro dharma because they were already distracted thinking that they had to involve themselves with conditional dharmas more than what was perhaps actually required thereby loosing valuable time in others words the preaching perhaps didn’t sufficiently impress upon them the need to progress.
I’m not saying Prabhupada’s preaching……But many of the leaders in our movement became absorbed in conditional pursuit in terms of their idea that we have to setup varnashram within our society although Prabhupada said it’s a virtual impossibility although quite necessary to rectify the ill of human society, re-establish varnashram in the context of the present demoniac leadership infrastructure of the so-called civilization. It is not possible. Prabhupada has clearly said it was not possible and he also offered the solution. I say if it’s the solution for the macrocosm then it’s also a solution for the microcosm. It should be seen as the solution for the microcosm even before thinking to apply it to the macrocosm. And that is to increase piety, to force the people to become pious. Because it’s for the people, by the people.
The government for the people by the people means because the people are not pious, a bunch of small dogs animals getting together and electing one big animal and glorifying him until they are ready to pull him off the throne. The blue jackal syndrome. But how to make them pious? How to increase their spiritual intelligence so they can see the things in proper perspective, so they can see the distinction between the pure devotional ideals or the Vedic ideals and to the present demoniac, mundane wrangling exploitative type of government that is going on now. So Prabhupada told that the solution for this problem is to perform mass harinam sankirtan and book distribution. But he specifically mentioned mass harinam sankirtan, all over the world. Because the atmosphere which is surcharged with the influence of the holy name and even the ethereal elements in the atmosphere purified so much so that even after the sankirtan party has gone back to the temple still that atmosphere is so pure that the people entering into that atmosphere where the sankirtan party was, they become purified of sinful reactions and they get piety. Not just any piety, Bhaktion Mukhe Sukriti.
So they become more and more eligible to get shradha and even pure devotional shradha. But atleast shradha äbhäsa which is somehow connected with Krishna Consciousness then it’s possible for them to recognize the need for superior Krishna Consciousness leadership in human society and by voting God conscious leadership into the office for the people…..”
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