Varnasrama Dharma (Student essay)

Varnasrama Dharma
By: Atula Krsna dasa 
 
Atula Krsna Dasa has been studying in the Bhaktivedanta Academy since 2000. He is nineteen years old, and comes from Hungary. He has developed a taste for studying Srila Prabhupadas books and is a group leader in the Academy.
 
 
 
 
 
Atula pictured on far right.
 
 
Real Civilization
 
     Varna-asrama dharma is absolutely essential in human life. Actually, one not following Varna-asrama is not considered human. Srila Prabhupada writes in B.g. (2.31) “Human civilization begins from the stage of Varna-asrama”.
     Indeed, Krishna himself created Varna-asrama for the benefit of the human race. B.g. (4.13) “The above mentioned divisions are created by the Lord for the systematic development of Krishna consciousness”. Since we do have human bodies we must come to the human platform, or Varna-asrama. From that platform, we become interested in Brahman, or spirituality, “Athatho brahma jijnasa”. If one is not on this platform, then instead of systematically developing one’s Krishna consciousness, one is likely to become bewildered and entangled in the nets of this material world.
     One may be following Varna-asrama recognizing the creator, Krishna, and its ultimate purpose or not. In either case the follower will be successful. However, unlike those seekers who recognize Krishna, the karmis and jnanis, will be bound to the material world, even if in chains that glitter like gold. Therefore, following without proper understanding is not real success. We must, for this reason, recognize Krishna and please Him by following His law, and He being pleased will free us from all the chains of material existence. This is real success.
     Since God created this entire world, and established Varna-asrama as its social order, then all work according to it; either knowingly or unknowingly, willingly or unwillingly. Just because one may be ignorant of God’s laws, does not mean that one is not rewarded nicely if following them, or punished if not. If one is actually successful, then one is surely following the law, and if one is unsuccessful then one definitely has broken the law. 
     Accepting that one must follow Varna-asrama, the natural question that arises is, “Where do I fit in this system?” To come to a conclusion may be hard, but this difficulty arises as a result of various factors: A: Because of unfortunate circumstances, an individual’s consciousness could show symptoms of more than one Varna, and even asrama, and thus create difficulty for himself in deciding which Varna and asrama he belongs to. B: A problem may also appear due to insufficient or incorrect knowledge of the Sambandha (relationship) and/or the Prayojana (Goal) tattvas in connection to Varna-asrama. The one possessing such deficient knowledge, not knowing how to act appropriately may very easily commit many mistakes, and then, of course, blame the system. “The bad dancer blames the shoes”. Let’s now move on to the third and most common issue, C: False ego! It is not really uncommon that we think or feel, “I don’t want to be that, I have to be a Brahmana”. Srila Prabhupada, in his former years, accepted the occupation of a Vaisya, and Ramananda Raya that of a Sudra. Please! We must understand that anything and everything becomes perfect when done for the pleasure of Krishna. However, in the same way, anything and everything done not in connection to Krishna is nothing better than the teats under a goats chin.
     We have to understand that each Varna has a function to perform and, without that function, human society will not systematically progress. Each of the Varnas correspond to a certain limb of the Virat-purusa’s body. As we read in the Purusa-sukta, (13) “The mouth of the Virat-Purusa became the Brahmanas, the two arms were made into the ksatriyas. The stomach of the Virat-Purusa became the vaisyas and from His feet the sudras were born”. Just as, if any of the limbs are missing, the body cannot perform properly, if any of the Varnas are not present, the social body becomes dysfunctional.
 
     We will now briefly describe how each Varna and asrama sustains the others and thereby pushes forward the whole movement; on the sublime path back to Godhead.
     From the above, we understand the source of the brahmanas; the mouth of the Lord. The mouth is mainly responsible for two activities: vocal and ingestive. Therefore, the brahmanas engage themselves in preaching, teaching, chanting mantras, etc, all connected to the vocal aspect of the mouth. Also, they happily partake in consuming Mahaprasadam offered to them, since; after all, they eat on Krishna’s behalf. They may also similarly accept charity. Thus, their various functions give rise to society’s spiritual uplifment by educational and cultural development.
     The Ksatriyas emanated from the arms of the Lord, and just as the arms protect the body from danger, the Ksatriyas protect all the citizens from fear. When all the citizens are sheltered and secure, they, very enthusiastically perform their duties. Thus for the matter of good administration the second order is necessary.
      From the stomach of the Virat Purusa, the Vaisyas emanated. The stomach has two main responsibilities; 1.Accumulating food, and 2 Distributing the energy through the body. In the same way, the Vaisya’s occupation entails, accumulating wealth and distributing it to the members of society. By doing so, the economic well being of society is developed, and nobody goes hungry.
     From the lotus feet of the Lord, the Sudras came forward. As the feet are used primarily for moving the body from one place to another, in the same way, the Sudras carry the other social limbs to their goals. They perform service under the three Varnas. The majority of the society fits into this Varna. A society without Sudras is as incomplete as a body without legs.
 
Now the asramas:
     Brahmacaris study, under the guidance of a teacher, the subject of Brahman both directly and indirectly. In order to attain knowledge and its realization, the student must please his preceptor by humbly inquiring and rendering service. A major goal of this asrama is to train Brahmacaris to be able to take part and lead society appropriately.    
     The Grhastas are mainly engaged in their Varna duties. They have a license to gratify their senses, but in a restricted manner. They are responsible for creating Krishna conscious children.
     When a Grhasta realizes the fact that there is nothing in this material world to enjoy, then they naturally take up renouncing the material world in order to attain the spiritual realm. Such a person is known as a Vanaprastha. Since he has a lot of experience, he is very capable to give advice; particularly to the Grhastas.
     The Sannyasi is he who is even more renounced. He is fully dedicated to serving the Supreme Lord, tasting pure love of God and is very eager to preach about Krishna prema.
     These eight divisions are categorized by an individual’s nature and activities. Therefore, the divisions are completely natural and beneficial to all. If all parts of the body, socially and spiritually are present and functioning properly, doing their own quota, then would such a society not be going more systematically back home, back to Godhead?
      Therefore Varna-asrama is crucial for human society so that it may free its members from material entanglement, and most importantly, give them a chance to “systematically develop Krishna consciousness”.
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