Farm-asrama debate with a happy endingHanuman das
How often do you hear varna asrama being discussed and implemented in corporate ISKCON? Not much. Only Bhakti Raghava Swami and Bhakti Vikasa Swami are talking about it. Why? Because Srila Prabhupada talks about it every 10 pages or so in his books.
But, being offender and envious fault-finder, I allowed myself to be dragged into varna asrama discussion. It was pretty heated at one point, but it ended up nicely.
Person that I was discussing with is Srila Prabhupada disciple who got carried away into joining another sampradaya, but still he is knowledgeable and more intelligent that average ISKCON follower who thinks it is offensive publicly expose sannyasis with girlfriends.
Panditji: I liked your video about following Varnashrama however I wonder how much varnashrama can be followed today
Hanuman: People were always growing food and having cows, and they are doing it today. Why not?
Panditji: Some people are doing those things but most people are not farmers. That is why today they are not doing those things.
Dvaraka was a city, it was also part of Varnashrama. None of the residents were growing food or breeding cows. There were also other occupations, even prostitutes. Was this not also Varnashrama. The very name Varnashrama means society is divided into people who have different varnas and ashramas. Without such divisions no society can be called varnashrama. Such divisions are pretty natural. So many societies have such divisions but do not assign duties, powers and responsibilities as per those divisions. Today there are also farmers, but due to mechanization and other factors there are less of them as a percentage of population.
Hanuman: Yes, but we must start all over.
Panditji: In what way?
Hanuman: Before you can establish a city, you have to establish village.
Panditji: We already have both
Hanuman: We have vaisnava city?
Panditji: You sound like Pol Pot.
Hanuman: Can you point me to varna asrama city?
Panditji: No we have cities and villages.
As I said all societies have people who are acting in different varnas. Like I said we already have farmers.
Varnashrama doesn’t mean everyone is a Vaisnava
Do you want everyone to become farmers?
Hanuman: Varna asrama means that devotees live together and practice Krishna consciousness.
Panditji: ISKCON already has that. But that is not the meaning of Varnashrama
Hanuman: And everybody should grow their own food and have a cow, in that sense yes, everbody should be a small farmer in the beginning.
Panditji: How can there be Varnashrama without dividing people by varna and asharma?
Hanuman: Except brahmanas, and ksatriyas, but they represent small percentage of population.
Panditji: That is Farmashram not Varnashram
Actually most are sudras, do you agree?
Vaishyas are also small percentage
Sudras just serve the divjas.
Hanuman: Our farm projects are an extremely important part of our movement. We must become self-sufficient by growing our own grains and producing our own milk, then there will be no question of poverty. So develop these farm communities as far as possible. They should be developed as an ideal society depending on natural products not industry. Industry has simply created godlessness, because they think they can manufacture everything that they need. Our Bhagavad-gita philosophy explains that men and animals must have food in order to maintain their bodies. And the production of food is dependent on the rain and the rain of course is dependent on chanting Hare Krsna. Therefore let everyone chant Hare Krsna, eat nicely and keep their bodies fit and healthy. This is ideal life style. We do not condemn modern civilization but we don’t like to get it at the cost of God Consciousness, that is suicide. Your farm in Pennsylvania sounds very nice. As far as Bali Mardan beng involved with the management he will have nothing to do with that. The two men you have appointed, Paramananda and Devakinandana Prabhus, are both capable and experienced men from New Vrndavana and I am sure they will manage everything very nicely there. (Dec 18, 1974 letter to Rupanuga).
Panditji: OK but that isn’t Varnashram it’s Farmashram
I am not against selfsufficient farm communities. But it isn’t Varnashram
Hanuman: So, you know better than Prabhupada what is Varna asrama?
So, then, tell me, what is varna asrama?
Panditji: Sastra defines Varnashram. Prabhupada told that it is described in Manu. Please read Manu to know what is Varnashram
Hanuman: If Prabhupada is preaching farmasrama, then you please enlighten me, mister Smart.
I don’t need Manu, I have Prabhupada.
You can read Manu.
Panditji: And that is fine
But it isn’t Varnashram it’s Farmashram
Hanuman: ok, thank you, I am enlightened now.
Panditji: I have no problem with Prabhupadas instructions just don’t call it sastric Varnashrama because it isn’t
Hanuman: I am going to sleep now.
Hanuman: Yea, you know better.
Mister Sastra man.
Panditji: Not at all Prabhupada himself said that the Varnashram system is described by Manu. He called Manu the Lawbook for Mankind. I am not saying anything different from Prabhupada
Look it up. I am not impressed by cherry picking quotes about Farmashram. The sastra is clear about Varnashram you can’t have it unless you divide people according to Varna and Ashram that is the first step. Since your quote doesn’t mention that it is not Varnashram
Read Prabhupada essay about the original Gita Nagari. He explains dividing people according to Varna and Ashram
It isn’t just farming
purushena parah puman
vishnur aradhyate pantha
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Vishnu, is worshiped by the proper execution of prescribed duties in the system of varna and ashrama. There is no other way to satisfy the Lord.” (Vishnu Purana 3.8.9)
In many places in Bhagavad-gītā, the Supreme Lord, Kṛṣṇa, refers to the varṇāśrama-dharma of four varṇas and four āśramas. He teaches people about this varṇāśrama-dharma so that all of human society can live peacefully by observing the principles for the four social divisions and four spiritual divisions (varṇa and āśrama) and thus make advancement in spiritual knowledge. The Manus compiled the Manu-saṁhitā. The word saṁhitā means Vedic knowledge, and manu indicates that this knowledge is given by Manu. … Manu gave the law known as Manu-saṁhitā, which is full of directions based on varṇa and āśrama concerning how to live as a human being. SB 7.8.48
Hanuman: From farmasrama, when devotees live together, varna asrama will develop naturally.
There will be some leader obviously on such project, he is ksatriya.
There will be some farmer who will grow grains and take care of the cows, he is vaisya.
And people who will be helping are called Sudras.
Somebody will need to teach kids in school, worship Deities, those are brahmanas.
It is very simple.
Panditji: So what distinguishes these people as far as the duties, powers and responsibilities they have? Their varna and ashrama. Exactly what I said.
How can you have varnashrama is everyone is initiated as brahmana?
Hanuman: Bhakti Vikasa Swami is not giving brahminical initiation to everybody.
Only those who are preachers and live brahminical lifestyle.
Panditji: Does he have any farm?
Brahmanical lifestyle is described in Manu
Hanuman: Yes, he has at least two farms in India, and one coming up in Czech Republic.