Varna-Ashrama in Modernity

11 months, 2 weeks ago by srinath in Personal Sadhana Reports, Special Category A

Dear Guru Maharaja

Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada! All glories to you!

Please forgive me for submitting this essay so late. It has been a hectic few weeks with the shutting down of office in SLC and planning the move to Dallas.

ASA - We are worse.   AGTSP!!!   We were told that "hectic" comes from "Hecate", a name for the Devil, Satan, The Evil One. Then Hectic days would be Satanic Days!!!

Thankfully, my brother is here with me for the summer and has been helping me with the move.

HpS - ASA -- Jaya!  What is his name?  Is he an Olympic Wrestler, Bollywood movie star?

We will be visting Boise for the Rath yatra on 4th July and drive to Texas from there. I am so eagerly looking forward to having your association in Boise in August.

I have been chanting my rounds and following the principles strictly. I have also been continuing my  FMP and am currently reading SB 2.5 for my daily SB reading.

HpS - Super!   You are becoming a very useful tool for Lord Caitanya!

My parents have also fixed my marriage date on the 28th October 2018 in Chennai. We need your mercy and blessing to successfully execute the ashrama in Krishna's service.

HpS - I bet you (and your esteemd fiancee) will be very nervous on that day. It is a formality but not a meaningless formality. Is very nice to read the Marriage of Kardama and Devahuti together, with family and friends, and discuss it. Intensely inspiring advice.

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VARNA ASHRAMA IN MODERNITY

Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita that the four divisions of the society are created by Him and it is based on guna and karma. Unfortunately, in the times we live in, the varna system has been deeply convoluted. Instead of looking at the modes of nature in which a person is situated in and the work associated with them, to decide the varna, it is based upon birth. I was born in an orthodox South Indian smartha brahmana family and considered myself a brahmana until I associated with the devotees. In the purport for BG 4.13, Srila Prabhupada writes

“as Kṛṣṇa is transcendental to this system of the four divisions of human society, a person in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is also transcendental to all divisions of human society”. 

We see in our own society in ISKCON that the qualities of a brahmana can be cultivated by anyone who follows the process and they can even transcend it by becoming a Vaishnava.

Guru Maharaja, you always quote Chanakya pandit on getting good advice from many people to make a good decision. I have been getting advice on my nature and how I should proceed from my brahmachary ashram as my parents have been pushing me to get married. The advice I got was to get married and make this the last time. Primarily, it would break my parent’s heart if I don’t get married. I am so attached to them that I cannot bear to see that happen. I have also come to realize that although all the gross material desires are under control, I have so many subtle desires and going through grahastha ashrama will purify me of those desires and make me realize what I sing every day - “Attachment to the lotus feet of the Spiritual master is the perfection that fulfills all desires.”

Thinking about grahasta ashrama and my position, I was reminded of Kardama muni from Srimad Bhagavatam. Although I am nowhere close to Kardama muni’s platform, I know for a fact that grahastha ashrama is going to slow my spiritual progress, I have to go through the ashram one last time and with the awareness, so that such desires are permanently vanquished.

HpS - Hmmm.   Doesn't have to slow your progress. Didn't slow Kardamas. If he had stayed B'cari in his current life he might have come back again to get married.

Kardama Muni prays in SB 3.21.14

Your lotus feet are the true vessel to take one across the ocean of mundane nescience. Only persons deprived of their intelligence by the spell of the deluding energy will worship those feet with a view to attain the trivial and momentary pleasures of the senses, which even persons rotting in hell can attain. However, O my Lord, You are so kind that You bestow mercy even upon them.

In BG 8.28, Srila Prabhupada writes that during brahmacharya, one studies Vedas and undergoes austerities by serving the spiritual master and the result of such education is good character. Hopefully, by Krishna’s mercy, I can take my education during my brahmachary ashram and apply those in grahasthasrama and lead a life centered around Krishna and execute the ashrama as a service by creating a Krishna conscious atmosphere at home and help everyone progress in their Bhakti.

HpS - Likw Bh. vinode Thakura.

I have been reading Srimad Bhagavatam daily and when I was pondering over the essay, I read the verse 2.3.22. I realized how Srimad Bhagavatam is a living scripture. Srila Prabhupada’s purport is very instructive. 

Especially for the householder devotees, the path of Deity worship is strongly recommended. As far as possible, every householder, by the direction of the spiritual master, must install the Deity of Viṣṇu, forms like Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa, Lakṣmī-Nārāyaṇa or Sītā-Rāma especially, or any other form of the Lord, like Nṛsiṁha, Varāha, Gaura-Nitāi, Matsya, Kūrma, śālagrāma-śilā and many other forms of Viṣṇu, like Trivikrama, Keśava, Acyuta, Vāsudeva, Nārāyaṇa and Dāmodara, as recommended in the Vaiṣṇava-tantras or Purāṇas, and one’s family should worship strictly following the directions and regulations of arcana-vidhi.

He continues to say, 

Engagement in such worship of the Deity, under the direction of a bona fide spiritual master, will greatly help the householders to purify their very existence and make rapid progress in spiritual knowledge.

In due course of time, after the responsibilities of grahastamsrama are done, I will hopefully be purified of my material desires and can become a nice tool for Krishna, so that He can use me full time for His service in vanaprastashrama. Again Kardama muni’s example is a very practical one, where one waits for the time when he can fully dedicate himself towards the service of Guru and Krishna.

HpS - Why wait?   If He wants Krsna can have us run over by a cement truck at any moment and take us directly back to serving in Goloka. If He wants us here then there must be intense service here. G. ashram can be just as much engagement as Sannyasa. Style is different and the formalities are different, but essence is the same, Krsna-bhajan.

Only by your grace can I cross the ocean of material suffering and obtain the mercy of Krishna.

Your servant

Srinatha Krsna dasa

HpS - Thank you for this nice essay.  We are all inspired!    Now, write another one about onw year from now!  Make it into a book.  Keep notes. Involve other in writing.