Chakra Announcements

Varnasram Newsletter Started

by Vrndavanlila dasi (Dr Vrinda Baxi)

Posted September 7, 2009

In his last days' message to the devotees, Srila Prabhupada put emphasis on the importance of Varnasrama and mercifully left that 50 percent of the job of his spiritual mission for his empowered disciples, giving them an opportunity to thus serve the Lord and gain proximity with Him. They in turn, carrying on the tradition of munificence, have passed it on us, while guiding us by example.

His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada condemned the social setup based on industrialism, materialism and a perverted value system. He called for a spiritual overhaul of society and also began the process by teaching the world the profound principles of love and submission to God — Krishna consciousness.

Spiritual growth is everybody's right; Krishna consciousness is not just for the elite but for everybody. As H.H. Bhakti Raghava Swami says, "All spirit souls are meant to progress towards Godhead, and no matter what one's material situation, the most challenging and binding obstacle in this material world is the living entities' perverted reflection of pure love, material sex desire, which all devotees have to work on."

How to come out of this illusion and control the material senses? The two different methods of controlling material senses as recommended in the Srimad Bhagavatam are the processes of jnana — the path of philosophical understanding of the Supreme as Brahman, Paramatma and Bhagavan — and of bhakti — direct engagement in the transcendental loving devotional service of the Lord. The latter one happens to be easier, as the devotee does not have to wait for the attainment of the fruitive results of pious activities. Reviving our original relationship with the Lord is crucial, but how? - Hari nama.

Harer nama, harer nama, harer namaiva kevalam
Kalau nastyeva, nastyeva, nastyeva gatir anyatha
[CC Madhya. 241-2. In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy, the only means of deliverance is the chanting of the holy names of the Lord. There is no other way. There is no other way.]

We have wasted enough lifetimes (84 lakhs!) in pursuing our concocted ideas of 'pleasure' and 'happiness'. Now that we have this body, let us give this one birth to Him, just one lifetime. But in this age even this is difficult, despite its inherent simplicity, so creating a conducive atmosphere for practicing Krishna consciousness is essential. Citing Bhagavad-gita, Srila Prabhupada and other acharyas advocated varnasrama dharma, a social institution in which people ensure spiritual advancement by following their basic proclivities — a life centred around land, cow and Krishna. The setup trains everybody's sensibilities in a manner that we are more disciplined and detached. In Srila Prabhupada's own words:

The Vedic principle is to reduce attachment, not to increase it. Therefore the whole system is called Varnasrama dharma. The Indian system calls for varna and ashrama — four social orders and spiritual orders. Brahmacharya (celibate student life), grhastha (married life), vanaprastha (retired life) and sannyasa (renounced life) — these are the spiritual orders. And the social orders consist of brahmans (intellectuals), kshatriyas (administrators), vaishyas (merchants and farmers) and sudras (ordinary workers). Under this system, the regulative principles are so nice that even if one has the tendency to enjoy material life, he is so nicely moulded that at last he achieves liberation and goes back home, back to Godhead. This is the process. Sex life is not required, but, because we are attached to it, there are some regulative principles under which it is maintained.
However, Srila Prabhupada faults the modern caste system that is prevalent in India presently, calling it as a perversion of scriptural injunction — asuric varnasrama. What we require is daivi varnasrama, where Krishna is at the center of activities; it is a society where occupations are determined by character and training, not by birth and wealth — guna-karma-vibhagasah — and one that is based on mutual appreciation and cooperation between classes, not on force and greed. Economic progress, pursuit of material comforts and sense aggrandizement are not the goals. The guiding principle of life remains "simple living, high thinking."

Since varnasrama happens not to be a much-travelled road, it is an area which offers childlike pleasure. In digging the goldmine there is so much to explore, know and do. Since it is a way of life, it touches all the aspects of life — from family life, administration, agriculture and cow protection to devotion for Him. There is a lot happening because of the untiring efforts of so many.

Varnasrama Research Teams are satellite localized research units working towards spreading the message of varnasrama and thus to help in preparing ourselves to come out of the material conditioning and take to the lifestyle created by Lord Krishna and recommended by various acharyas, including Srila Prabhupada. One Varnasrama Research Team has tried to make its small contribution with the recent launch of a newsletter titled The Eight Petals: VRT Newsletter to Attain the Lord's Feet. The first issue was published on the auspicious day of Lord Krishna's appearance this year, August 14, 2009. The newsletter is planned to be a monthly, with one bonus annual issue. Everybody is welcome to be a part of it by reading it, commenting on the articles or on the newsletter itself for improvement, and to send their articles sharing their experiences and realizations in the context. While this was the introductory issue, the following issue is planned to be Farming-centric.

Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. Isn't it beautiful to chant the mantra in the verdant environs of fields, rivers flowing with clear water, the cooing of the birds, the mooing of the cows, and fresh breezes carrying the fragrance of unknown flowers? While sitting in an air-conditioned room with no ventilation and fresh air, does this seems to be a pipe dream? It can be translated to reality through our adoption of varnasrama. Let us make a move, if nothing else by emotionally supporting those who are already trying to do it. Hare Krishna.