Varnasrama Explained By Srila Prabhupada
November 1, 2017
Compiled By Damaghosa das
March 4 1974 Vrndavana- conversation about Varnasrama and its application
Hṛdayānanda: Not necessary. So in this varṇāśrama college there would be two divisions, varṇa and āśr… Learning a materia…
Prabhupāda: First of all varṇa. And āśrama, then, when the varṇa is perfectly in order, then āśrama. Āśrama is specially meant for spiritual advancement, and varṇa is general division. It must be there in the human society, or they’re on the animals. If varṇa is not there, then this is a society of animal. And when the varṇa is working perfectly, then we give them āśrama. Varṇāśrama. That is later on.
Hṛdayānanda: First they should be taught a skill.
Prabhupāda: Yes. First of all, the whole society must be divided into four varṇas. Otherwise, there will be chaotic condition. That is what is the position now. What is he, what he has to do, one does not know. And there are so many unemployment. But if you organize the society into varṇas, there will be no question of unemployment.
Hṛdayānanda: From the very beginning we should teach Bhagavad-gītā?
Prabhupāda: Yes. But our, our position is that we are above varṇāśrama. But for management or ideal society, we are introducing this. We, so far we are concerned, Kṛṣṇa conscious men, we are above varṇāśrama. But to show the people that we are not escaping, we can take part in any order of life. That is our position. Just like if I brush somebody’s shoes, that does not mean I am shoemaker. My position is the same. But to show how to do it… Just like a servant is doing. The master is, “Oh, you cannot do. Just see.” Just like I show you sometimes how to mop. So I am not a mopper, but I am showing how to mop. So our position is like that. We do not belong to any varṇa and āśrama. But we have to show these rascals. Just like Dhruva Mahārāja. He, he was perfect Vaiṣṇava, but when he was king, he was fighting like anything. Not that, “Oh, I am now become Vaiṣṇava. I cannot kill.” What is this? He killed like anything. When the Yakṣas attacked his kingdom, he was killing like anything then the Yakṣa-rāja came and asked him to pardon this. He immediately accepted. So he wanted to give him some benediction, that “You are so great that simply on my request, you have stopped killing these rascals, Yakṣas. So you can take some benediction from me.” He said, “That’s all right. Thank you. You give me the benediction that I may be a pure lover of Kṛṣṇa. That’s all.” This benediction he asked. Although he was so powerful and, the Yakṣa-rāja, he could give him the wealth of the whole universe. But he made that, “Thank you very much. You give me this benediction that I may remain a pure devotee of Kṛṣṇa.” This is Vaiṣṇava. He is doing everything, but his aim is to please Kṛṣṇa. Similarly, even if we take to varṇāśrama, we do not belong to any… Just like Kṛṣṇa says, mayā sṛṣṭam. “I have inaugurated.” But Kṛṣṇa has nothing to do with varṇāśrama. Similarly, if we act as varṇāśrama, still, we have nothing to do with the varṇāśrama.
Hṛdayānanda: Prabhupāda, can you say something about the training for a brāhmaṇa.
Prabhupāda: Yes. They are satyaṁ śamaḥ damaḥ. He must be truthful, he must control the senses, control the mind… śamo damaḥ,… He must be tolerant. He should not be agitated in trifle matters. Satyaṁ śamo damaḥ śaucam. He must be always clean. Three times he must take bath at least. All the clothing, all, everything is clean. This is brahminical training. And then he must know all what is what, knowledge, and practical application, and firm faith in Kṛṣṇa. This is brāhmaṇa.
Hṛdayānanda: So what kind of practical work could we engage them in?
Prabhupāda: They’ll be teaching. They’ll be all teachers.
Hṛdayānanda: Oh, they’ll be teachers.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Just like Droṇācārya. He was brāhmaṇa, but he was teaching military art to the Pāṇḍavas. General teacher class will be the brāhmaṇas. It doesn’t matter what he’s teaching. But teaching, perfectly teaching, how to become a military man. Arjuna’s fighting was due to Droṇācārya. He learned it from Droṇācārya. He was a brāhmaṇa. But because he took the position of a teacher, he thought very perfectly. A brāhmaṇa should be expert in every kind of knowledge. If requires, he’ll become teacher. This is brāhmaṇa.
Hṛdayānanda: So brāhmaṇa can teach how to fight?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Brāhmaṇa means intelligent, brain. So in intelligent brain one can learn anything and teach anything.
Satsvarūpa: This is very new. It seems there’ll be many difficulties. So we should try to start this school.
Prabhupāda: What is the difficulty? If I teach you how to cook, is it very difficult?
Satsvarūpa: Yes, we have to… No, we have to learn, though.
Prabhupāda: Then similarly, like that. Like that. I am doing that. I am teaching how to mop the floor.
Satsvarūpa: Then it becomes easy.
Prabhupāda: But I must know everything because I am a teacher.
Hṛdayānanda: So, for example, if I become a teacher at varṇāśrama, say, the first teacher at the varṇāśrama college, then I have to also become expert at how to fight, how to…
Prabhupāda: Not all of you, but some of you must be, must learn the art of fighting also. But in a practical you are not going to fight. If required, you can fight. I say that we are above all these varṇāśrama, but we must train others or ourself also for material activities, everything, under these divisions.
Viṣṇujana: For example, in New Vrindaban we have brāhmaṇas that are very expert at tilling the soil and taking care of cows.
Viṣṇujana: And they could travel around and teach others how to do that as well.
Prabhupāda: Yes. That’s right. He is brāhmaṇa, but he’s teaching how to take care of the cows and ploughing.
Hṛdayānanda: It’s not that one teacher has to teach everything.
Prabhupāda: No, no.
Hṛdayānanda: Oh, I see. So a brāhmaṇa teacher should become expert in a particular subject and then teach that.
Hṛdayānanda: Oh. It’s very exciting, Prabhupāda, because all the, at the present time in the…
Prabhupāda: No, the thing is that actually, at the present moment, they are śūdras or less than śūdras. They are not human beings. The whole population of the world. It doesn’t matter whether it is western or eastern. That is the position. So unless they are trained up, so the society’s already in chaos, and it will go on still more in chaos, chaos. It will be hell. How people will live? And these rascals are being elected as government men, and they’re only making budget how to tax. So one side, there is no rain; one side, there is no rice, especially in India; and one side, heavy tax. So they’ll be all confused. They have already become confused. So in the confusion state it will be very difficult to make them Kṛṣṇa conscious. Therefore preliminary help should be given.
Prabhupāda: Yes. That they should not be in chaos and confusion. Otherwise, how the brain will work?
Viṣṇujana: Yes. No one can give rapt attention without peace of mind.
Prabhupāda: Yes, yes. Our main aim is how to give them Kṛṣṇa consciousness. But if they are already disturbed in every respect, then how they’ll take it? Therefore we are taking these subjects, to help him to come to the Kṛṣṇa consciousness. And this is the method-varṇāśrama.
Hṛdayānanda: So just to clarify, Prabhupāda, I want to make sure I have it very clear, that if someone comes to our varṇāśrama college, even though this may be preliminary help, in general—you’ve made some exceptions—but in general, when they come to our college, they have to follow the four regulative principles, also learn something about Bhagavad-gītā and then, side by side, they learn a…
Prabhupāda: Four regulative principles compulsory.
Prabhupāda: But if some of the kṣatriya or the śūdras, they want,[to eat meat] so that is our prescription: “Go to the forest and kill some animal and eat that.” That’s all. You can kill one boar. Some disturbing elements, you can kill. You can kill some tiger. Like that. Learn to kill. No nonviolence. Learn to kill. Here also, as soon as you’ll find, the kṣatriya, a thief, a rogue, unwanted element in the society, kill him. That’s all. Finish. Kill him. Bās. Finished. So other will see, “Oh, the ruler is very strong.” And others will… One killing will be lesson for many hundreds and thousands. No mercy. “Kill him.” That’s all. That was the system. In Kashmir about hundred years ago. If somebody has stolen, cut his hand. Bās. He cannot steal any more. So one cutting hand means finish. In that part of the world, no more stealing.
Yaduvara: How would the kṣatriyas kill the animals?
Yaduvara: How would they kill? With guns or bow and arrow?
Prabhupāda: That, as it is suitable. It is not that because the kṣatriyas were killing by bows and arrows formerly, you have to continue that. That is another foolishness. If you have got… If you can kill easily by guns, take that gun. Just like formerly, parivrāja, Caitanya Mahāprabhu walked on the street. There was no aeroplane or… Or he did not use it. Does it mean that I shall have to follow that? I must take the jet engine. If it is available. If somebody criticizes, “Oh, Caitanya Mahāprabhu walked on leg and you are travelling in the jet plane?” Shall I have to take that ideal? These are rascaldom. When you have to work, you have to work with the greatest facility. That’s all. Now I have got the facility of the talking in microphone, and… So why should I not take it? It will be recorded. It will be heard by so many others. I am speaking to four, five men. It can be heard by a big crowd of four hundred men.
Viṣṇujana: So we should perpetuate this technical skill of…
Prabhupāda: No. We are not going to… But if somebody’s interested doing, so we take it, make the best use of it.
Viṣṇujana: Oh, I see.
Prabhupāda: Just like we do not want money. But they are having money by so many ways. So we take their money and construct a temple. We can sit down here and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa. We don’t require that temple. But these rascals are accumulating money for wine and women. Take their money, some way or other, and builds a temple. And invite them, “Come and see.” Give them prasādam. This is our policy. We are not constructing big, big buildings and temples for our convenience. For their convenience. This is sannyāsī.
Viṣṇujana: So there should always be programs in the temples for their welfare, not…
Viṣṇujana: …that we live there and…
Prabhupāda: No. But we are taking it, “Now we have got very nice house, room. Let us sleep and eat.”
Viṣṇujana: Then there’ll be wide criticism.
Prabhupāda: That is… This is not good.
Prabhupāda: You should remain always sannyāsī within. Outwardly, for others’ convenience, you may do something. Similarly, we are accepting this varṇāśrama. We are not varṇāśrama; we are above varṇāśrama. But to give others facility to come to the stage of Kṛṣṇa consciousness, this program must be done.
Hṛdayānanda: Prabhupāda, generally in colleges in the West, they charge some fee for going to the college. What is our position?
Prabhupāda: No, we don’t charge any fee. There is no question of money. Because the brāhmaṇas, they’ll teach free. They require money because they have to give fat salary to these rascals. But we haven’t got to. And even we have to feed them, we produce our own grain. So where is the question of taking money? So therefore it is required, somebody must produce food. Then there is no necessity of money.
Hṛdayānanda: The vaiśya students will produce the food.
Satsvarūpa: Should our children who are at gurukula, when they grow up, should they go to that varṇāśrama college, or…?
Prabhupāda: Yes, yes. They should go.
Hṛdayānanda: We’ll start it right away.
Prabhupāda: Varṇāśrama college means for grown-up students. College means for grown-up students.
Hṛdayānanda: Is there a minimum age for beginning such a college?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Ten to twelve years.
Hṛdayānanda: They can start at ten to twelve?
Prabhupāda: Yes. From five to ten years, gurukula. And after ten years, they should go to the varṇāśrama college.
Viṣṇujana: New Vrindaban would be an ideal place in America for such a school.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Organize that.
Prabhupāda: Yes. I shall go.
Viṣṇujana: This Mahārāja is also going to New Vrindaban.
Prabhupāda: Yes, yes.
Viṣṇujana: He can…
Prabhupāda: Do that. Kīrtanānanda Mahārāja, you, and combined together, do that.
Prabhupāda: We have got so many duties to do. Don’t waste time, a single moment. And don’t eat more and don’t sleep more. Then you’ll be able to work.
Viṣṇujana: And this is the most auspicious work for now, is this remedial measure of…?
Viṣṇujana: This is the most auspicious work for now, is this remedial measure to stop the chaos in the world?
Viṣṇujana: That’s most auspicious.
Prabhupāda: Most auspicious. Because if the people are in chaos, how they’ll be able to accept the great philosophy? It requires cool brain.
Viṣṇujana: My program now is I have ten brahmacārīs in buses, and everything and we’re distributing books. But if the people are in chaos, how they will be able to accept the knowledge in the books?
Prabhupāda: No, not all of them are in chaos. There are some of them. Some of them. Not that all of them. Hare Kṛṣṇa [break] …in separate department.
Passer-by: Rādhe, Rādhe!
Prabhupāda: Hare Kṛṣṇa. Just see. Due to the past training, even an ordinary man, he’s chanting, “Rādhe, Rādhe.”
Viṣṇujana: When we had our boat, the boatmen every morning were…
Prabhupāda: This is India.
Prabhupāda: Because, due to past culture, even the lowest class of men, he’s also great philosopher than these rascals in western countries.
Hṛdayānanda: So all the other programs should be continued, and this program should be added.
Parivrājakācārya: Śrīla Prabhupāda?
Parivrājakācārya: Would the…? The persons who would take part in such program, they would have to be devotees in the first place. Is that…?
Prabhupāda: Devotees is… I have already explained. We are all devotees. Past condition, we are all devotees. We are not, we do not belong to this varṇāśrama. I have already told you. Suppose I am mopping. So that does not mean I am mopper. But I am teaching how to mop. This is our position.
Parivrājakācārya: So the students, also, they must all be devotees.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Devotees are… That is our life and soul.
Satsvarūpa: And the idea is that after they’ve finished their schooling, they would take part in ISKCON, preaching in some way as vaiśya or…
Prabhupāda: Yes. This preaching is also required, to make the groundwork. Because nobody’s taking care. Just like some of the devotees, great devotees, they took the profession of becoming thief. They, in South India, it was done so. They took the profession of becoming thief. So a devotee is a thief? But he took. They took it. Because nobody was paying. [for a temple construction then]So they organized a plundering party. “Plunder all these big men.” Just like the politicians do. There is history. Yes. So even up to the point to become a thief, devotees took it. Yes. And the gopīs, even up to the point of becoming prostitute—for Kṛṣṇa. So for Kṛṣṇa’s sake we have to accept any nonsense type of business. Or on the highest grade. Anything. But for Kṛṣṇa we have to do that.
Hṛdayānanda: So, Prabhupāda, in our temples, we have so many devotees. Should the devotees…?
Prabhupāda: They should be engaged.
Hṛdayānanda: Should they be trained in a particular…?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Those who are not able to preach or to do other things, they must go to the plough department, agriculture.
Hṛdayānanda: Those who cannot preach.
Prabhupāda: Yes. Those who are less educated, not very much expert in preaching, they must be acting as kṣatriya or vaiśya, or as śūdra.
Hṛdayānanda: And sometimes…
Prabhupāda: :Not he’s śūdra. Always remember that. But he has to act to fulfill the, fill up the gap. Proxy.
Hṛdayānanda: So we should encourage people, young people, young students to come to our college.
Prabhupāda: They’ll automatically come if you are ideal. Because they are being forced to poverty. So when there is a question of poverty, they’ll come.
Hṛdayānanda: Room and board and training.
Prabhupāda: Yes. This poverty. Why there is poverty? Because they are not producing food. Everyone wants so-called comfortable life. So-called education. Sitting idle in the table and chair, and talking all gossips, nonsense, and sleeping. They have been trained up in this way, śūdra.
Hṛdayānanda: So they should be trained to rise early and so on.
Prabhupāda: Yes. No, if you keep healthy, then you will naturally rise healthy, er rise early in the morning. But if you… Because you have lost all, what is called? Stamina?
Hṛdayānanda: Yes. Yes.
Prabhupāda: Therefore sleeping is my only business. Sleeping means for the weak. And for the strong, perspiration. This is the sign. When a man sleeps too much, he’s weak in his health. And the strong man will perspire. These are very… Balera ghāma, and the durbalera ghuma. Ghāma and ghuma. Ghuma means sleeping, and ghāma means perspiration. [break] …principle. And human beings means trained up under principle. That is the difference between animal. The animals, they cannot take up any training. But the human being, this human form of body is meant for taking training. So if they are not properly trained up, they remain animals and the whole society in chaos and confusion. That’s all.
Some conclusions—This conversation (which is much more in length than you see here)with Srila Prabhupada will help to clear up some of the foggy ideas devotees may have about what they should DO for Krsna in terms of daily activity. I think many devotees may not even know of these talks, and even if they do, do not want to follow these instructions. Implementing Varnasrama at the outset, can only be done by those devotees who want to preach and spread Krsna Consciousness, not those who just want to be satisfied with eating and sleeping and just going to some temple to get some spiritual benefit for themselves and family members. It is meant as Srila Prabhupada mentions in the SB purport-to “create a revolution in the impious lives of a misdirected civilization”.
May 15th 1975 Perth
Devotee (1): Śrīla Prabhupāda, we received news yesterday that one man in northern New South Wales is willing to sell us a farm, a great big farm out there in the southern tropics. Would this be a good place for engaging boys like the Indian, the Indian boy that came yesterday?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Our next program is to organize farming. Let anyone come. We shall give him free food and employment: “Come on.” Not that “I want to work as a clerk in the city.” You produce your own food. I give you ingredients. I give you land. And work for five, six hours, and take your food and chant Hare Kṛṣṇa.
Letter to: Kartikeya K. Mahadevia
19 October, 1975
Now, our next program will be to organize farming land to set an example to the whole world how people can be peaceful, happy, and free from all anxieties simply by chanting Hare Krishna Maha-mantra and living an honorable life in Krishna Consciousness. In India especially people are religiously inclined. They like to live in village and also like to love Lord Rama, Lord Krishna. This idealism is running through their blood and veins. We have to organize their natural tendency and elevate them again back to Home, Back-to-Godhead. Please think over these points very seriously and as soon as I return we shall take up the program. My beloved sannyasi disciple Swami Pusta Krishna has promised to give me a car, and as soon as I get it I shall move from village to village along with some selected assistants and organize this farming village development program.