Society Bhagavad-gita Plate 42 Varnasrama Four Varnas and Four Ashrams

Published on October 4th, 2001 | by bhakta-vaikuntha | Full size image

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Implementing A Vedic Society

In the wake of the mindless attacks on the citizens of America on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, DC, I would like to share my thoughts after careful deliberation and thought. Having been associated with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness for almost 22 years I would like to share my perspective and opinions.

TERRORISM AND FEAR

Throughout the billions of years of earth’s existence within this universe, human beings have been struggling with life and death, be it political, social , accidental or natural. This is known as birth and death. Much blood has been shed in the name of religious and political ideologies and one need only study the history of mankind from ancient times to the present to corroborate this fact. The basic principle of the human being is to live in a world where there is peace, harmony and a sense of well-being both collectively as well as individually. Human beings consciously or unconsciously realize that somehow they are mortal and are subject to the invisible laws of the universe. Thus, the root of terrorism and the fear that it engenders is in seeing one’s own death as it were…the great fear of the unknown. When 7,000 people suddenly lost their lives in the early morning of Sept. 11th, a part of everyone else also died with them. Hopefully, it is in that fear that we begin to re-evaluate our place in human society and our relationship with one another as emotional human beings. This is the very essence of self-preservation, be it national or global. Everyone wants peace. Everyone  wants to be loved and to love someone or something in return. This feeling of love is inherent in every species of life, even the animal kingdom. We are all searching for that unconditional love as the love of a mother for her child. This is natural. We seek the reciprocation of pure love that is enduring or eternal and that bonds itself in a relationship of trust without being cheated or hurt. This in fact, is what separates the human being from all other species of life on earth. Love. Not only for man, but for every living thing that lives. This is what it means to be “human.”

EVOLUTION THROUGH CONSCIOUSNESS

In light of the above, the ancient Vedic texts of India translated from Sanskrit and going back many thousands of years, not only addreses the nature of consciousness but defines it as well. It is not, contrary to popular opinion, that we evolved from the ape as Darwin would have us believe but rather, as human beings we are evolving through consciousness, that is to say, the bodies already exist, but we must qualify ourselves to gradually be promoted to that higher form of life and hopefully, in the end, to our rightful place of eternality. This is the primary subject matter of the entire Vedic literatures that the world must now come to grips with if we are to proceed as “civilized” human beings and live in a world of true peace and prosperity.  This is the natural order of things. How does one go about this and what does this mean?

WORLD RELIGIOUS CONGRESS

Every nation on earth be it hostile or benevolent has some form of government. In order for human society to function at all it needs to be governed. It is said that America is a nation of laws, but we must now define exactly what those laws are, whom they protect and what are the goals and motivations of the “lawgivers.” In view of this, there are two kinds of laws given in human society, manmade laws and God’s laws. While man’s laws are subject to change according to time, place and circumstances, God’s laws are immutable in that they never change. What are these laws? And who is God?

If we were to take the entire world’s religions or spiritual beliefs and proclivities be it, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Catholicism, Hindu or any of the other myriad of tributaries and sub-tributaries of religious thought on earth we will see that all these religions share certain basic ideals. The history of world religions and religious thought is very complex and covers an extremely wide territory of human evolution. Indeed, great wars have been fought throughout history in the name of God or because of religious ferver based on this notion that your God cannot be my God. But as far as the Vedas are concerned, books of knowledge, Veda means knowledge, God is one and yet, he goes by many unlimited names. Perhaps, the root of the problem is that most world religions are stuck in a mindset of cultural, historical and even generational propaganda if you will that does not allow the individual to at least be open-minded as to the real nature of God or the function of a real religion within human society by which everyone can accept practical basic truths.

Therefore, what is desperately needed are emissaries from all the world religions to co-ordinate and develop a kind of world religious UN as it were, by which the masses may share and discuss their points of view and thereby gain a better understanding of the multi-cultural world we live in. Even the atheists may be given an opportunity as to their beliefs of why God may or may not exist. It would be a parliament as it were, for debate and knowledge. This could be implemented very quickly and may be an idea whose time has come. This is not a time for separation of church and state, but rather a coming together for the primary purpose of creating this world peace that people so desperately claim they want.

IN THE NAME OF GOD

The time has finally come, in America’s history, or evolutionary process to now ask basic questions that have haunted mankind for millennia. Namely, who am I? Where have I come from? And where am I going and what is my purpose in the cosmos? Only human beings who are cognizant can ask these basic questions. In America it is said, “In God we trust.” But who is God? Do we trust Him? And how do we know we won’t be cheated? Don’t all religions have a concept of a Supreme Being? And if God truly does exist, then what is my place in this grand scheme of things? I know that my body is subject to birth, death, old age and diseases but how can I come to love God? I can’t see Him. Does he hear my prayers? Is He really a person?

These questions are common and have been rampant since the time of Plato, Aristotle and other great thinkers and philosophers since time immemorial. These questions and many more in regard to the nature of God, the nature of the self and the final goal of human life are elaborately delineated within the vast ancient Sanskrit texts known as the “Vedas.” They have as much relevancy today as they did thousands of years ago. And while there are many adherents who have accepted Vedic truths, hardly the rest of the world has had an opportunity to imbibe its real essence.

THE RAIN OF KARMA

As Americans, we must give up the notion that we are our body even though we know that today or tomorrow the body will disappear. This is known as death. However, according to Vedic thought, the soul, which is eternal and spiritual in constitution knows no material designation. This is practical. I may be American today, but Muslim tomorrow by conversion or in my next birth. Everything changes. One may ask, but I don’t believe in life after death or in reincarnation. This must be some kind of mythical, allegorical or occult sentiment and I’m in America now and I’m a product of the country I was born in. Besides, isn’t life just working hard, eat drink and be merry? What does all this have to do with me? These are common questions. Again, these are elaborated to in the Vedic texts and one need only lend an ear to “hear,” ask questions and think about their purport.

The nature of karma, that is, “works” or to coin a familiar term, “what goes around comes around” is very deep and should not be taken lightly. Again, the science of karma is intrinsic to everyday life be it tragic or happy. Karma is either collective such as the 9/11 attacks, or individual such as a person getting hit by a car, dying or being severely injured. Within the context of modern-day thinking, these occurences are known as “fate” or “coincidences” or “miracles”. That one lives or dies untimely may be viewed as a miracle but in fact, one’s karma according to past works. The Vedas also delve deeply into this subject and it is hoped that everyone will listen and weigh their final conclusions. It’s not a matter of belief, karma acts on everyone including other species of life in every universe and on every planet where birth and death take place. These are facts now. This is the real “undiscovered country.”

DUTIES OF THE KING OR EXECUTIVE HEAD OF STATE

Accepting that the living entity is bound by this karma, how then are we as a society able to change or alter these seemingly insurmountable laws of nature? The Vedas are very clear in this regard that it is incumbent upon the king, president or those who are in power and appointed by the people to enact laws that not only protect the citizenry materially, but spiritually as well. The Vedas then, in the final analysis, are lawbooks in regard to moral conduct as well as all other statuses of life including the military sciences. Leaders have an awesome responsibility to “teach by example” in every sphere of human life so as to lead the people to a higher moral standard and thus, prosper. The Vedas are very exact in how a leader should teach and govern according to the laws of God. While the Vedas are unequivocal in their conclusions, at its root they have their basis in truth. That a thief’s hands be cut off  and that murderers be swiftly put to death may seem draconian from an ACLU point of view, but upon further elucidation as to the “whys” it is meant to enlighten one in real self-realization. That armies were used by the king in ancient times to uphold religious principles and protect the citizens from aggression was not done whimsically but to uphold the laws of God, who was not a “nebulous” person but a reality even though apparently “invisible.” Again, one has to hear and read about these finer truths before embarking in an argumentative spirit. Thus, the previously mentioned importance of establishing a “World Religious Congress.”

When we talk of morality we also talk about being merciful to every living creature, including the animals. It is here, at this crossroad that world leaders must try to understand that the basic principle of ruling is to also see that every living being within the jurisdiction of the leader’s rule, in this case, America, preserve the sanctity of life. Therefore, while this may sound an impossible task without immediate understanding, if all the slaughterhouses were outlawed tomorrow as well as making it illegal for abortions to take place, then there would be a gradual diminishing of serious “karmic” reactions not only for America as a world leader, but the rest of the world as well. According to Vedic law, “There can be no justice in a slaughterhouse society.” In other words, abortion of the embryo which is life and the slaughtering of innocent animals according to the Vedas, is murder. Therefore, serious consequences await the perpetrators not only individually in this life and the next, but collectively as well. Man creates laws in order that human society does not regress to anarchy, likewise, God has His laws in order for human society to progress spiritually and this is the future of planet earth. Therefore, it can be said that while the world and America in particular is experiencing tragic events, this is a prelude to implementing a Vedic culture by which man can eventually live in peace.

VARNASHRAMA-DHARMA

One may ask, but this is a Himalayan proposal in this “digital” age. How can the government, especially the American government, assuming we agree with the Vedic texts suddenly bring about this Vedic society? Won’t this take forever? The Vedas have an answer to this question and basically, it is not that the entire world’s population is suddenly going to be vegetarian, or worship deities or give up sinful habits all at once. Therefore, the great science of establishing what is known as “varnashrama-dharma” is the essence for bringing about this gradual change in human society and one in which, despite one’s religious beliefs, can be adopted as a practical way of life. While the Vedas explore this subject in great detail, I will briefly give a rundown on how human society can come to this God-consciousness or “Krsna-consciousness.” It may also be noted that “Krsna” or “Krishna” is the primary name for God and means “all-attractive.” That Krsna or God is a transcendental person and the origin of all that be and that our souls are a “bit” or part and parcel of Krsna is the ultimate conclusion of the entire Vedic canon and that our duty is to serve Him, individually and collectively. This is also known as “bhakti-yoga.”  The varnashrama is in fact created by God Himself so that human beings can gradually elevate themselves to spiritual emancipation and hopefully, enter the spiritual planets known as “vaikunthalokas” loka meaning planet, where there is no birth and death. Varnashrama social system can be broken down thus:

Four spiritual orders

1)      brahmacarya-celibate student life

2)      grhastha-married or household life

3)      vanaprastha-retired householders

4)      sannyasa-renounced order-traveling and preaching

Four social orders

1) brahmacarya-priestly class

2) ksatriya-military and administrative class

3) vaisya-merchant class

4) sudra-laborer class. They assist all other classes

While the above is extant in society now, it is chaotic. That is, they are not putting God or Krsna at the center and therefore, due to material considerations so much class struggle ensues. In India this created a caste system. However, Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-Acarya of the Hare Krishna Movement, who brought Krsna consciousness to the west in 1965 stated in his purport to text 13 of Srimad-Bhagavatam –Canto One-Ch.2)

“Human society all over the world is divided into four castes and four orders of life. The four castes are the intelligent caste, the martial caste, the productive caste and the laborer caste.  These castes are classified in terms of one’s work and qualification and not by birth. In the best interest of human society there must be such divisions of life, otherwise no social institution can grow in a healthy state. And in each and every one of the above-mentioned divisions of life, the aim must be to please the supreme authority of the personality of Godhead (Krsna). The institutional function of human society is known as the system of varnasrama-dharma which is quite natural for the civilized life.  The varnashrama institution is constructed to enable one to realize the Absolute Truth. It is not for artificial domination of one division over another. When the aim of life, i.e., realization of the Absolute Truth is missed by too much attachment for sense gratification, then the institution of varnashrama is utilized by selfish men to pose an artificial predominance over the weaker section. The saner section of people know it well that the divisions of caste and orders of life are meant for smooth social intercourse and high-thinking self-realization and not for any other purpose. Herein the statement of “Bhagavatam” is that the highest aim of life or the highest perfection of the institution of the varnasrama-dharma is to cooperate jointly for the satisfaction of the Supreme Lord.”

Thus, it is the duty of every executive head of state to rationally hear and read the Vedic texts and to give strong consideration of adopting the Vedic principles set forth herein so that human society may be elevated to a higher status of life and thereby live in a world of peace.

CONCLUSION

Therefore, in a world where people have forgotten their constitutional position as “servants of God” in the truest sense of the term, the whole world is in a state of impending war with the possibility of a nuclear holocaust. War for freedom, war for land and war over twisted ideologies. While war is not a new phenomena, (the Bhagavad-gita talks of another great world war), we must not look at Krsna consciousness or the final realization of knowing who God is as an imposition on our lives due to ingrained cultural or religious indoctrination but open our hearts and minds to the possibilities that truth is universal and not a question of secular or geographical limitations.

Knowledge of God, or Krsna need not be a fearful thing in that it will eliminate one’s current belief system but instead, augment or enhance one’s God-loving propensities and live in this world in a practical and harmonious manner, with ourselves and with nature. Then humankind will begin to realize the true meaning of  “love of God.” This is the final frontier.

Bhakta Wallace is a devotee of Krishna and a writer living in Colorado.

vaikuntha@hotmail.com

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