Chakra Discussions

On the Evil of Merging

by Niscala dasi

Posted March 10, 2007

The basis of the division of service in varnasrama is that which powers the individual - his/her psycho-physical make up. Thus it separates spiritual from material power, and productive from physical power. The latter separation is necessary for good business management, for it is obviously a waste of talent for an architect to be laying bricks, and an over-expectation for a brick-layer to be trying to design buildings.

What is not so clear (the resolution of which is more pertinent to us) is why the ksatriya and the brahmana class must separate. Surely a spiritually minded ksatriya could do both? Why does Krsna recommend they separate? The answer could not be more simple when we examine the meaning of varnasrama and the basis for its class separation- psycho-physical tendencies. With this in mind, to say "could not a brahmana manage?" is exactly like saying "could not a architect lay bricks?" He could, but why would he want to? It is not in his nature... Similarly, it is not in the nature of a true brahmana to manage. He is repulsed and repelled by material power- its trappings, its use of legislative force over persuasion, its focus on smooth and problem-free management as opposed to essential principles of ethics and spirituality.

Our Problem of Paradox

But the paradox of ISKCON is that it is- or should be- a spiritual society. At least it has spiritual aspirations, and consequently, its members tend to regard those whom they consider to be brahmanas more seriously and reverently than those who are obviously ksatriyas. Thus, while it is a fact that a true brahmana will never be willing to take up the reins of management as it is not in his nature, it is indeed in the power hungry nature of a ksatriya to covet *all* the reins of power, thus rising to the top of the perceived heirarchy.

An example of this that is extant in our society is when the legislative power passes a resolution or law that its power is spiritual. This is a dead-set proof of fraud, as the very notion of defining class by passing resolutions about it, defies the authority of the Supreme Brahman who declares that the separation is based on qualities and work only, which excludes governmental decree. Thus a brahmana who is an obedient servant of the Supreme Brahman, would find it impossible and outrageously hypocritical to ever enact such a pantomime of disgraceful proportions so as to make a laughing stock of that which he regards most highly- the orders of the Supreme Brahman.

If out of pure necessity only a brahmana takes up management, he would never pass a resolution about his power still being spiritual, for he is uninterested in power per se. He would only take up the burden of management as a temporary solution to a lack of qualified ksatriyas- such as Srila Prabhupada did in the early days of Iskcon. No one can argue that Srila Prabhupada was reluctant to manage, he made it explicitly clear, but in ISKCON our managers are making sure that re-elections never happen, so they never have to give it up!

The two greatest threats to them are varnasrama and re-elections, for both are challenges to their security and accountability, yet uncomfortably both are the explicit directions of the founder-acarya (whom they nevertheless hope to place "in the center", again not by action but by decree!) They know that either will force them to step down, as they would have to face their failure to respond appropriately to crises such as child abuse, cow abuse as well as the neglect of the instructions of Srila Prabhupada and the misrepresentation of the philosophy as outlined above. Yet re-elections and varnasrama are both necessary for our long-term survival which necessitates that the spiritual concerns of all members be heard and acted upon, so as to have the kind of faith in one's leadership that make it a joy to serve.