“Progressive human civilization is based on brahminical culture, God consciousness and protection of cows…. Cow protection means feeding the brahminical culture, which leads towards God consciousness, and thus perfection of human civilization is achieved. The age of Kali aims at killing the higher principles of life…” SB 1.19.3
“Where wealth and strength are not engaged in the advancement of brahminical culture, God consciousness and cow protection, the state and home are surely doomed by Providence. If we want peace and prosperity in the world, we should take lessons from this verse; every state and every home must endeavour to advance the cause of brahminical culture for self-purification, God consciousness for self-realization and cow protection for getting sufficient milk and the best food to continue a perfect civilization.” SB 1.19.3

“The life of a human being is a chance to prepare oneself to go back to Godhead, or to get rid of the material existence, the repetition of birth and death. Thus in the system of varnasrama-dharma every man and woman is trained for this purpose. In other words, the system of varnasrama-dharma is known also as sanatana-dharma, or the eternal occupation. The system of varnasrama-dharma prepares a man for going back to Godhead… Foolish men forget this sure fact of death and neglect the duty of preparing themselves for going back to Godhead. They spoil their lives in animal propensities to eat, drink, be merry and enjoy. Such an irresponsible life is adopted by the people in the age of Kali because of a sinful desire to condemn brahminical culture, God consciousness and cow protection, for which the state is responsible. The state must employ revenue to advance these three items and thus educate the populace to prepare for death. The state which does so is the real welfare state. The state of India should better follow the examples of Maharaja Pariksit, the ideal executive head, than to imitate other materialistic states which have no idea of the kingdom of Godhead, the ultimate goal of human life. Deterioration of the ideals of Indian civilization has brought about the deterioration of civic life, not only in India but also abroad.” SB 1.19.4

“From the Lord’s personal activities, human society should learn how to give protection specifically to the brahmanas and cows. Then the protection of religious principles, fulfilment of the aim of life and protection of Vedic knowledge can be achieved. Without protection of cows, brahminical culture cannot be maintained; and without brahminical culture, the aim of life cannot be fulfilled… If human society wants to be exalted, the leaders of society must follow the instructions of Bhagavad-gita and give protection to the cows, the brahmanas and brahminical culture.” SB 8.24.5


During the mid-eighteen century a great personality by the name of Kedernath Datta (later to be known as Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakur) was faced with a great dilemma. As a young man he had a deep desire to understand the mysteries of life and a strong hankering for spiritual life. Upon encountering persons who professed to be Vaisnavas, like many respected persons of his time, he shied away from them knowing them to be debauchees and deviants in the name of spirituality.
Although Vaisnavism is clearly mentioned in all the Vedic literatures as being the highest expression of spirituality even more so than the position of an ordinary brahmana, the practice of Vaisnavism during this historical period had degraded to the point of being scorned upon and rejected by most of the intelligentsia. What was once preached and practiced by the great ascetic and social reformer of the 15th century, Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu who had unveiled the hidden treasures of the bhakti cult, had now degenerated into an assortment of unauthorised practices promoted by various false teachers of deviant disciplic successions or apa-sampradayas.
It was only years later that the young Kedernath Datta, on the request of some of his close friends, consented to reconsider the study of these sacred teachings. Upon deepening his understanding of the basic ideology of Vaisnavism, he came to realize its depth, purity and potential influence and asset to humanity at large. Indeed he became so absorbed and convinced by the exalted philosophy of Vaisnavism that although the popular opinion of the time remained very much sceptic to the ideals of Vaisnavism, Kedernath Datta singlehandedly pioneered a revival of the bhakti cult which was soon to take on global dimensions.
His renowned son, Srila Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati Thakur was to carry out this mission by further expanding and popularizing the principles of the Vaisnava philosophy. What was once considered degraded and dejected, by the great efforts of this one dedicated saintly person, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, the world of Vaisnavism became more and more accepted in India during the first part of the 20th century when his son, Srila Bhaktisiddanta Sarasvati Thakur, by his forceful preaching, established 64 branches of the Gaudya Math and initiated thousands into the practice of Vaisnavism.


One such personality who received these sacred teachings and who inherited this great mission was requested personally by his spiritual master to introduce the world of Vaisnavism to the English speaking countries outside of India. As a young man, Abhay Caran De (later to be known as Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada) was also sceptic about those who professed spirituality.
Daily, Abhay’s father, Gour Mohan De use to invite sadhus (saintly persons) to his home for the noon meal, prasadam, but Abhay was generally unimpressed. However, upon meeting with Srila Bhaktisiddanta Saraswati Thakur at the earnest request of a close friend, Abhay Caran became convinced of this saintly person, and of the importance of the Vaisnava philosophy for the benefit of all humanity. He prepared himself for many years, first as a householder and then as a vanaprastha and finally as a sannyasi to take up the challenge of introducing God consciousness in a predominantly materialistic country like America and in the most degraded city of New York.
And so it was that in the mid-20th century this lone individual sailed to America, penniless, to accomplish the mission of his spiritual master. Some of his close acquaintances in America, upon hearing his intention to start a society having the name “Krishna” consciousness advised him to replace the name Krishna with “God”. However, for reasons which are now self-evident, Srila Prabhupada kept the word “Krishna” and his society was registered in 1966 under the name International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) as opposed to International Society for God Consciousness (ISGCON).


In this way, two rather important nomenclatures of spirituality, the word “Vaisnavism” and “Krishna”, both intimately related with one another were saved and kept intact. Both terms gradually gained immense popularity although initially they were faced with obstacles and objections. In the 21st century the Vaisnava community of ISKCON is faced with yet another dilemma. Although all Vaisnavas will agree that the word “varnasrama” is authorised and directly referred to in many Vedic scriptures, including some of the original and most ancient teachings such as the Bhagavad-gita and Srimad-Bhagavatam, many sincere devotees express deep reservations about the concept of varnasrama and even about the very use of the term.
This is quite understandable as the varnasrama system has been under pressure since the time of Lord Buddha who actually rejected the entire Vedic literatures due to the misuse by brahmanas promoting a perverted system of varnasrama. Why the term varnasrama and why the lifestyle advocated by adherents of the varnasrama system need to be upheld and promoted form the essence of this presentation. For this we must know something about the internal and external purpose of “varnasrama dharma” but beforehand we must also understand the dual nature of “sanatana dharma” or eternal occupation. Intertwined in this presentation will be quotes from various acaryas, in particular Srila Prabhupada, the Founder-acarya of ISKCON, who have strongly advocated, upheld and even urged the establishment and practice of varnasrama dharma.


Sanatana Dharma as “Bhagavat Dharma”
Sanatana dharma comprises two levels of realization and two levels of practical application. The first level of realization is called “Bhagavat Dharma”, the natural occupation/duty of the spirit soul in relation to “Bhagavan” or God. This “Bhagavat Dharma” is actually the eternal condition of the liberated soul, “mukta jiva”, that occupation or activity being of bhakti or pure devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna and is fully manifest in the spiritual kingdom of God, in particular Goloka Vrindavan, where all living entities engage incessantly in the Lord’s service through various eternal relationships based on eternal mellows or rasas, the subjet of which would take up an entire different presentation and explanation as it refers to the nitya-swarupa or eternal spiritual identity of each spirit soul, the greatest of all sciences only accessible to liberated souls, the maha-bhagavatas. We can learn more about this level of realization and its practical application by reading the life history of such exalted personalities like the six Goswamis of Vrindavan and some of their immediate followers Srinivas Acarya, Srila Narottama Das Thakur and Srila Shyamananda Pandit.

Sanatana Dharma as “Varnasrama Dharma”

The second level of realization and the second level of practical application is called “varnasrama dharma” the natural occupation/duty of the spirit soul in relation to varna (social occupations) and asrama (spiritual duties), varnasrama being based on the two principles of guna (quality of thought in either goodness, passion or ignorance) and karma (activity or prescribed duties/occupations according to guna). The varnasrama system is the eternal, natural, scientific and standard system for those who are living in the material world which is made up of the three modes of material nature, tama guna, raja guna and sattva guna.
Bhagavat-dharma and Varnasrama Dharma are Eternal
Both levels of “Bhagavat Dharma” and “Varnasrama Dharma” can therefore be rightly referred to as “Sanatana Dharma”, in that they describe the eternal position of both the liberated souls in the spiritual world and the eternal position of the conditioned souls in the material world.
We must note with great care that in both levels of existence, either in his liberated stage of “mukta-jiva” (in either the material or spiritual world) or in his conditioned stage of “baddha jiva” (in the material world), the living entity is associating with eternal systems, eternal principles and eternal concepts.
The Activities of Nitya-siddhas
For the liberated souls in the spiritual world (nitya siddhas) their only reality is pure bhakti, pure devotional service unto the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna. That realm is pure, complete in itself and totally devoid of any mundane characteristics, totally beyond the gunas or the modes of material nature. Such liberated souls swim in the ocean of transcendental mellows called rasas for which our Vaisnava philosophy had developed a deep theology. All spirit souls ultimately belong to this realm of existence and hanker to again become reinstated in their natural and eternal loving relationship with Lord Krishna. That is the level of Bhagavat Dharma and is meant for the liberated souls in the spiritual world and for those on the way to become liberated but who are still in the material world.

The Activities of Nitya-baddhas

For those who are still conditioned souls in the material world (nitya baddas), if by some great fortune they come in contact with the knowledge of the self, “atma-jnana”, in particular as presented by a pure Vaisnava, they can also take up the process of bhakti at the first level of sadhana (following rules and regulations) and then gradually rise to the more advanced level of raganuga bhakti (pure and spontaneous devotion) and beyond. However, as long as such living entities remain in the material world, especially in their conditioned stage but also in their liberated stage, they will respect and adopt the chosen and natural system of varnasrama dharma. That is the clear directive given in all śāstra and is also advocated by the acaryas as nicely explained by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
Both Nitya-siddhas and Nitya-baddhas Follow Varnasrama Dharma
“But a devotee who desires to properly pass his life still accepts his duties according to varnasrama, as those duties are favourable to devotional service and counted as part of devotional service. All these activities are no longer called karma.” [Sri Bhaktyaloka]
“With the assistance of varnasrama dharma, a person should cultivate bhakti. It is also necessary to follow the rules of varnasrama in the cultivation of bhakti.”
“Though all humans have a right to practice bhakti, those who follow the regulations of varnasrama have a much easier time.” [Sri Caitanya Siksamrta]
Let us now consider the external and internal purposes of varnasrama dharma.



Varnasrama dharma is essentially a way of life and a consciousness one develops which favours one’s advancement in spiritual life and prepares one to return back home, back to Godhead in the spiritual world. By living a particular lifestyle which is primarily agrarian in nature, one avoids becoming entangled in the artificial necessities of life advocated by our present modern day materialistic and heavily industrialized society. The following instructions given by the great authority on varnasrama, Srila Narada Muni, and the explanations by Srila Prabhupada give us a clear understanding of this external purpose of varnasrama dharma where one can best meet all his material necessities of life and not become allured to the attractions of the material world.
Narada Muni: “One may claim proprietorship to as much wealth as required to maintain body and soul together, but one who desires proprietorship over more than that must be considered a thief, and he deserves to be punished by the laws of nature”. SB 7.14.8
Srila Prabhupada: “Materialists are inventing so many artificial necessities, and those who have money, being allured by such artificial necessities, try to accumulate money to possess more and more. This is the idea of modern economic development. Everyone is engaged in earning money, and the money is kept in the bank, which then offers money to the public. In this cycle of activities, everyone is engaged in getting more and more money, and therefore the ideal goal of human life is being lost. SB 7.14.8
Narada Muni: “Even if one a householder… one should not endeavour very hard for religiosity, economic development or satisfaction of the senses….one should be satisfied to maintain body and soul together with whatever is available with minimum endeavour… One should not engage oneself in ugra-karma.” SB 7.14.10
Srila Prabhupada: “As far as economic development, the responsibility for this should be entrusted mainly to the vaisyas and grhasthas. Human society should be divided into varnas and asramas…. As for ksatriyas, they are supposed to be the kings of the land, and the land should be distributed to the vaisyas for agricultural activities, cow protection and trade. Sudras must work; sometimes they should engage in occupational duties as cloth manufacturers, weavers… or else they should engage in hard labour to produce food grains. These are the different occupational duties by which men should earn their livelihood, and in this way human society should be simple…..even though one is a householder, one should not engage himself in severe hardships. One’s means of livelihood should be extremely simple… the grhasthas, vanaprasthas, brahmacaris and Sannyasis should endeavour together with their total energy to become Krishna conscious. This type of civilization is called daiva-varnasrama. One of the objectives of the Krishna consciousness movement is to establish this daiva-varnasrama…”. SB 7.14.10
We must come to understand that other than this simplified lifestyle which helps to meet all the basic necessities of the body, mind and spirit soul, there is no better scientific system, no more practical system, no more simpler system than this one created by the Lord Himself.

As Krishna explains in the Bhagavad-gita, 4.13
Catur-varnyam maya srstam guna-karma-vibhagasah
Tasya kartaram api mam viddhy akartaram avyayam

“According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me. And although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the nondoer, being unchangeable. This word avyayam is important. As the Lord is unchangeable, so the system He creates, being perfect and completer, is also unchangeable.
It is this perfect system masterminded by the greatest of all geniuses Himself Lord Sri Krishna, to help facilitate conditioned souls to function at their best levels both materially and spiritually. Cow economy, we must come to know, is the simplest, noblest and most effective of all economic systems as it is intimately connected with natural agriculture, the best way for a nation to acquire wealth. Benjamin Franklin, one of the Founding Fathers of America had this to say:
“There seem to be three ways for a nation to acquire wealth. The first is by war, as the Romans did, in plundering their conquered neighbours. This is robbery. The second by commerce, which is generally cheating. The third by agriculture, the only honest way, where a man receives a real increase of the seed thrown into the ground, in a kind of continual miracle, wrought by the hand of God in his favour as a reward for his innocent life, and his virtuous industry.”

The same is confirmed by the Lord Himself in the Bhagavad-gita, 3.14
Annad bhavanti bhutani parjanyad anna-sambhavah
Yajnad bhavati parjanya yajnah karma-samudbhavah

“All living entities subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. Rains are produced by performance of yajna (sacrifice) and yajna is born of prescribed duties.”

Thus, the varnasrama system being created and advocated by the Lord Himself should never be abandoned or altered. It is part of a tradition whose basic principles and concepts remain perpetually correct and practical. It is not that now we are living in so called modern times where due to advancement of technology it is no longer necessary to use the traditional method of ploughing with bullocks. Now we have tractors and these wonderful machines can do so much more work and at a much greater speed than the traditional ox power driven plough. Now we have motorized vehicles and super highways, we don’t need bullock carts to travel for they are cumbersome, take much time and simply cannot be compared to present day modern cars.

This is our faulty understanding which has led to the destruction of thousands of lives (both cows and farmers) and the destruction of agriculture land due to artificial pesticides, artificial fertilizers and the wide use of hybrid and Genetically Modified seeds. With monopolisation of seeds by multi-million dollar greedy corporates we have developed factory farming and have destroyed the natural variety of yields traditionally produced by farmers. We have set up an artificial and unnatural system for producing food. Over 50% of the food produced today is also not for human consumption but for feeding to animals to make them fatty for the slaughterhouses. Cows that normally graze in green pastures are kept locked up inside factory warehouses denying them the light of the day. In Europe close to 70% of the cows never get to graze in green pastures as they are kept inside for maximum exploitation in such factory horrors. A varnasrama based society will never allow such atrocities to take place and responsible Vaisnavas should also not allow such atrocities to prevail under our very eyes.
Varna Sankara and Ugra Karma Increase without Varnasrama
We must know for certain that varṇa sankara or unwanted population coupled with unregulated and unwholesome artificial relationships among members of family, communities, society and nations are direct by-products of having deviated from the natural scientific system of varnasrama. The same holds true with ugra karma, activities and occupations in society which cause undue stress and anxiety. We have abandoned the traditional occupations of agrarian life preferring to adopt the ways and mentality of urban living gradually becoming more and more conditioned with a lifestyle based on varṇa sankara populace and ugra karma professions. By doing so we have disrupted the natural harmony and balance meant to prevail when we follow the lifestyle advocated in our scriptures and have opted for the total disarray of present day so called advanced civilization. Srila Prabhupada referred to modern way of life as “the western adventure” indicating that as in any “adventure” it must come to an end soon. In no unclear terms Srila Prabhupada stated that present day civilization is doomed and will soon come to an end and instructed the one of the purposes of the Krishna consciousness movement was to bring a complete overhaul in society and to revert to the natural traditional lifestyle based on the four varnas and four asramas, independent of modern day misdirected civilization.
Actually, Srila Prabhupada made many other startling points in his numerous discussions on varnasrama. Here are a few reminders for those who are heavily caught up in today’s modern city rat-race.


Establish Villages and Grow Your Own Food

1. Morning Walk (May 25, 1974, Rome)
Bhagavan: The easiest way to manage, then, is to have everything more or less in small villages.
Prabhupada: Yes, that was Gandhi’s philosophy, village organization… Our philosophy is that you produce your food anywhere. You stay, and keep cows, take milk, produce vegetables, food grains, and chant Hare Krishna. That’s all. This is our philosophy. Make your life successful. By becoming Krishna conscious, you become free from all these troubles of material condition. This is our education. Don’t be after these motorcars, television, and all nonsense things, sporting, wine, women. Don’t be after these. Simply eat sufficiently, keep your health nicely, chant Hare Krishna, realize Krishna, and go back to home. This is our philosophy.
We don’t require cars
2. Morning Walk (May 27, 1974, Rome)
Keep amongst yourself and produce. Produce food grain, produce cotton, mustard seed. Self-dependent, no use… And we don’t require motorcar. Bullock cart is sufficient. There is no need of going anywhere…
We don’t Want Cities
Yogesvara: So then we should begin our rural communities like New Vrindavan, and then by training up people in the cities, we can send them gradually…
Prabhupada: There will be no city. We don’t want cities.
Bhagavan: What about our city temples?
Prabhupada: No, no. For the time it may go on. But as we make progress, there will be no necessity. City means… For the present we have got. Because the city is there, we are there. But suppose the city is closed. We shall be there? If the city is closed, you still will be there?
Make Ideal Rural Communities
Yogesvara: But we can predict that the cities will go on for quite some time.
Prabhupada: Yes, it will go on, but when they will see that your ideal community is better than city life, people will take to it. Paraà dåñöva nivartate. [From Bg. 2.59: “…Ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.”] When one gets a better standard of life, naturally he will give up the lower standard of life.
3. Conversations (June 6, 1974, Geneva)
Prabhupada: But every man should produce his own food. That is Vedic culture. You get a piece of land and produce your family’s foodstuff.
No Need of Factory
4. Conversations (August 1, 1975, New Orleans)
This is Vrindavan. There is no need, and I don’t find in Bhagavat, big factory and slaughterhouse, no. Nothing. The whole atmosphere is surcharged with sinful life. How people will be happy? Now they are coming to crimes and hippies and so many things, problems, diplomacy, CIA and what other? So many unnecessary waste of energy, time, and money. Vicious condition. Better give up city. Make Våndavana, like this. City life is abominable. If you don’t live in the city, you don’t require petrol, motor car. It is no use… Maybe local moving, from this village to that village. That is sufficient, bullock carts. Why motor car? Drive here and park problem. Not only park problem, there are so many things. There are three thousand parts, motor car. You have to produce them, big factory.
Education Only for Brahmanas and Ksatriyas
5. Conversations (January 11, 1977, Mayapur)
Prabhupada: No education, no. Education will be required only for the guiding class: brahmanas, ksatriyas, not for anyone, sudras. They are two only. Others will… What education required? Suppose if you produce… If you are accustomed to agriculture, cow protection, there is no need going to college and schools. If you remain illiterate, still you can do.
Ramesvara: But in America…
Prabhupada: No, no, America. Actually only brahmanas, they require education, or all others, they will simply see and learn. So little education required—that you can learn by hearing only, that’s all. Suppose a brähmaëa class says that “This is good; this is bad.” So you hear and accept. It doesn’t require to go to school and college. So education will be simplified. (break) It has become very much complicated.
Concentrate on Farm Projects
6. Conversations (January 21, 1977, Bhuvanesvar)
Prabhupada: And besides that, if we concentrate in farm project there will be no need of exchange, because I’ll be satisfied with my products. That’s all. There is no need of exchange. Whatever I need, I get in my farm.
Ramesvara: Weaving, cloth.
Prabhupada: Everything I get. So I haven’t got to go outside for exchange. If you are satisfied in your farm—I am satisfied—then where is question of exchange? There is no need of artificial… So this banking, “fanking,” everything will collapse automatically. There is no money, who is going to keep money in the bank?
Hari-sauri: Who needs it?
Banks Will Collapse
Prabhupada: (laughs) So this artificial way of banking, that will be also collapsed.
Hari-sauri: This is revolutionary.
Ramesvara: It’s very hard for the mind to…
Prabhupada: No, simply do this.
Be Satisfied Locally
Ramesvara: Such a dramatic transformation of society.
Prabhupada: Yes. Whatever it may be… We should be satisfied locally by our food, by our cloth, by our milk. That’s all. Let the whole world go to hell. We don’t care. If you want to save yourself also, you do this. Here is an example. If you want artificial life, city life, and hellish life, you do. But we shall live like this. This is the ideal life.
Therefore varnasrama dharma is required
7. Conversations (February 14, 1977, Train to Allahabad)
Hari-sauri: Well, at least my own understanding was that the chanting was introduced in the age of Kali because varnasrama is not possible.
Prabhupada: Because it will cleanse the mind. Chanting will not stop.
Hari-sauri: So therefore the chanting was introduced to replace all of the systems of varnasrama and like that.
Prabhupada: Yes, it can replace, but who is going to replace it? The… People are not so advanced. If you imitate Haridasa Öhakura to chant, it is not possible.
Satsvarupa: We tell them go on with your job but chant also.
Prabhupada: …Therefore varnasrama-dharma is required. Simply show-bottle will not do. So the varnasrama-dharma should be introduced all over the world, and…
8. Conversations (February 15, 1977, Mayapur)
Prabhupada: Yes. Farm project is very nice. Krishna gives. Kåñi-go-rakñya- vaëijyaà vaisya-karma svabhava-jam. [Bg. 18.44]: “Farming, cow protection and trade are the natural work for the vaisyas…”] This is economic problem solved. And brahmaëa, brain problem solved, and kñatriya, protection problem solved, and çüdra, labour problem solved. Four things combined together, live peacefully, happily. Chant Hare Krishna. Introduce this farm project.
We Will Do It
9. Conversations (October 8, 1977, Vrindavan)
Prabhupada: This is soul-killing civilization, this kind way of life, especially European countries. Anywhere you can inhabit it. It is not very difficult. A cottage; you can produce your own food anywhere. Am I right?
Hamsaduta: Yes, Prabhupada. We will do it.
Prabhupada: And money, spend for Krishna—for Krishna’s palace, for Krishna’s temple, for Krishna’s worship, gorgeous, as gorgeously as… Not for false… This is the human civilization. And to organize this, varnasrama will help you to divide the society—brähmaëa, kñatriya, vaiçya—as there is division in the body. That will help. Don’t waste human form of body for sense gratification. I wanted to introduce this. Now I have given you ideas. You can do it.


Some may argue that the above quotes from Srila Prabhupada are taken out of context and do not necessarily reflect his actual views. When Srila Prabhupada speaks so heavily against modern industry, modern cities, modern amnesties, and this not only in his conversations but in his Bhagavatam Purports as well, we should try to sincerely and practically understand how to apply such directives. It is not that nobody should be living in the cities and no one should be using various modern facilities. Srila Prabhupada certainly wanted us to be very much present in the cities but that was primarily for preaching purposes. Our preaching basis can still be the cities since the majority of people have been allured to the cities and we need to reach out to them. However, our living basis for the vast majority of devotees should be the country. Simply put, if one is not engaged in front line preaching, he should not be living and working in the cities. Maya is just too strong.
And to discourage devotees from leaving the cities and re-establishing themselves in the villages (either existing ones or new ones we can pioneer), as clearly advocated by Srila Prabhupada, is maya. It simply demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of Srila Prabhupada’s mission and direct rejection of his clear instructions. When we hear of Temple Presidents and even very senior devotees within the ISKCON society openly speaking (sometimes in classes as well) against these clear instructions given by Srila Prabhupada and discouraging devotees from taking up the mission of varnasrama, we should know this to be extremely dangerous being a direct offense to the orders of the spiritual master.


In addition to these external purposes, varnasrama or more precisely daiva varnasrama is the most comprehensive method and most scientific social system to help revive our dormant love for Krishna. That is the internal purpose of varnasrama. The purpose or end is bhakti but the means is varnasrama. If one advocates taking up immediately bhava bhakti and prema bhakti without undergoing the process of sadhana bhakti, one will surely fail. A varnasrama lifestyle keeps us more easily focussed on the goal of life, that of self-realization. Why this is so? Because one learns to become regulated by following the various prescribed samskaras and through the guidance of qualifies teachers (elders, brāhmaṇas, guru, etc.) one gradually progresses from one asrama to another and one is not allured by the strong attractions of maya. The external features of varnasrama, i.e. an agrarian lifestyle, localized living, all help foster a congenial atmosphere for practicing spiritual life and attaining perfection in life, ante Narayana smriti.
Such understanding of the need for introducing daiva varnasrama is also connected with our appreciation and development of devotional service itself as explained by Srila Prabhupada:

“The four divisions are exactly like the four divisions of the body, but by themselves they are only parts. That is the significance of the whole scientific system of four castes and four social orders. The value of such scientific divisions of human society can be ascertained only in terms of the proportionate development of devotional service to the Lord.” SB 2.6.16


Both Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura and Srila Prabhupada have written very clearly about the need and importance of varnasrama. We should simply try to understand and believe in their words of wisdom.
Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura to his son
O Sarasvati
“People of this world who are proud of their own aristocratic birth cannot attain real aristocracy. Therefore they attack the pure Vaisnavas, saying, ‘They have taken birth in low-class families because of their sins.’ Thus they committee offenses. The solution to this problem is to establish the order of daivi-varnasrama dharma, something you have started doing; you should know that to be the real service to the Vaisnavas.”
Srila Prabhupada in Conversations (October 18, 1977, Vrindavan)
Catur-varnyam maya srstam. [Bg. 4.13] Unless in the human society the varnasrama system is introduced, no scheme or social order, health order or any order, political order, will be successful.


When we deviate for traditional occupations, as we have done so on a massive scale since the days of the Industrial Revolution in Europe some 200 years ago, we open the doors to all types of disorders and irregularities both intimately connected with ugra karma and varṇa sankara. Such nasty, dehumanizing work we especially find in factory work and in the externally attractive allurements of computer software occupations. Both lead to all types of social anomalies and unregulated lifestyle. Such non-traditional occupations are the root cause of increasing stress, strokes and heart attacks among a population of relatively young people, a phenomenon not seen before.
For the vast majority of householders, including ISKCON householders not engaged in front line preaching in our cities, agriculture related activities are meant to be the norm where one is intimately connected with nature, the land, cows and living based on principles of self-sufficiency, sustainability. These are all clearly explained in the instructions given by Narada Muni in the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Canto 7, chapters 11 to 15.


Produce only what you need and use only what you produce.
Agriculture, not industry, is meant to be the norm for society.
An agrarian lifestyle, not an urban lifestyle, is meant to be the norm and standard for the vast majority of citizens, including devotees.
Education is not everyone’s right, it is a privilege accorded to those who quality and are deserving.
Three things can make one happy (Canakya Pandit and Yudhisthira Maharaja)
– One who is not a debtor (avoid the modern credit card system)
– One who lives locally (avoid traveling and being away from family)
– One who can digest his food (the need to maintain good health)
Five items not to be sold
– Land is not a commodity to be sold (land belongs to God and is meant to be administered by God’s representative the king (and his representatives). Private ownership is not the Vedic standard. Everyone should be given access to free land and everyone should be connected with agriculture.
– Food is not a commodity to be sold (production should be primarily to meet one’s family needs, not for profit as we see today).
– Education or knowledge is not a commodity to be sold (hence Vedic education is free where the qualified brāhmaṇas do not accept salary but freely give education to those who are deserving and qualified, totally opposite to present day educational system).
– Cows are not commodities to be sold (as soon as we start selling cows a profit making mentality develops and the cows are ill-treated)
– Milk is not to be sold (it leads to adulteration of milk)
Our philosophy is to perform both activities of Bhagavat Dharma, the essence of which is chant, chant, chant while simultaneously performing prescribed duties of Varnasrama Dharma, the essence of which is plant, plant, plant. In this way we are actually fulfilling the mission of human life, simultaneously addressing the needs of the body, mind and soul by following Lord Krishna’s plan on the spiritual platform, the science of devotional service which in Kali Yuga can best be invoked by chanting the holy names of the Lord, and on the material platform, the science of prescribed duties as outlined in the system of varṇa and asrama.


Even before venturing to America, Srila Prabhupada had already envisioned and chalked out how he would spread Krishna consciousness in the western world. In his yet somewhat unknown essay, “Conceptions of Gita Nagari” which he wrote in the early fifties and which first appeared in his Back to Godhead magazine in 1956, Srila Prabhupada identified four movements or divisions which would comprise the preaching mission of the previous acaryas, keeping in line with Lord Caitanya’s Sankirtan Movement. He spoke of the first wave as being the Sankirtan Movement, based on two things, the chanting of the holy names and the distribution of transcendental literatures which he referred to as the brihat mridanga. The second wave was called the Temple Worship Movement centered on constructing attractive temples where deities of Sri Sri Radha and Krishna would be gorgeously worshiped. The third wave Srila Prabhupada coined as the Spiritual Initiation Movement, where individuals would become formally connected in guru parampara, within ISKCON, the various congregational preaching programs. Srila Prabhupada spoke of his fourth movement as the Classless Society Movement, referring to daiva varnasrama as the social institution within which to promote all the other activities of Krishna consciousness. If we observe the early activities of Srila Prabhupada both in America where he first established his new movement of ISKCON, and in India where he began the second and third phases, it is clear that all four were meant to be developed as they scientifically complement one another. Details of these four movements can be found in our book Make Vrindavan Villages and the original explanations can also be read in the original essay Conceptions of Gita Nagari which is available is Srila Prabhupada’s VedaBase.

—-By His Holiness Bhakti Raghava Swami
Thank you…


For more information on the subject matter of varnasrama:

1. Join the pamho conference called GLOBAL VARNASRAMA MISSION

2. Visit the website and

3. Read books written on the subject of varnasrama (see above websites)

Varnasrama Books Online:
Order This Book Online!

Devotees wishing to become involved with the global varnasrama mission may contact any of our devotees who are members of the Global Village Initiative Committee [GVIC] as they are spread out on each continent. They will be pleased to hear from you and can give you some helpful information how you may be involved in your respective areas. Here is the list of GVIC members by alphabetical order and their email

Balabhadra das (USA)
Global Minister for ISKCON Cow Protection and Agriculture Ministry

Bhakta Scott (Australia)
Preacher in South America

Bhakti Dhira Damodara Swami (Nigeria)
Deputy GBC for ISKCON East Africa, based in Nigeria

Bhakti Raghava Swami (Canada)
National Minister for ISKCON Daiva Varnasrama Ministry [IDVM]-India

Bharat Chandra das (India)
National Coordinator for ISKCON Daiva Varnasrama Ministry [IDVM]-India

Dhanesvara das (USA)
Author of Spiritual Economics, based in Kiev-UA

Gokul das (Australia)
Farmer and Preacher at New Govardhan

Gour Gopal das (India)

Radha Krishna das (Hungary)
Varnasrama Minister for ISKCON Europe and President of Eco-valley Foundation.

Samba das (England)
Director Mayapur Varnasrama College, based in Sri Mayapur

Vrindavana Lila dasi (India)
Editor of the newsletter, The Eight Petals

Yogesh Candra das (India)
National Director-Ksatriya Wing for ISKCON Daiva Varnasrama Ministry [IDVM]-India


  1. Dear R.P. Bhakti Raghava Swami Guru Maharaja,
    Please accept my humble obeisances,
    All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    just giving a piece of SP’s lecture that can be used to help proving the point about Varna-asrama.

    Here it is; from the lecture BG 02-31 – Sept 1, 1973 – LON – Duties and the body and Soul:

    “So this is… Those who are in Krsna consciousness, those who have decided to serve Krsna only, they are no longer in the categories of sva-dharma, the bodily sva-dharma, brahmana, ksatriya, vaishya, sudra, or brahmacari, vanaprastha. He is transcendental. That is confirmed in every sastra.


    So so far we are concerned, Krsna conscious, so long our bodily concept of life is not *completely eradicated*, we must follow the sva-dharma of the body. Brahmana, ksatriya,
    vaishya, sudra, ity adi.

    But when actually advanced, that is *maha-bhagavata*.

    *We should not imitate that*, but our process is the more we advance in Krsna consciousness, we become transcendental to this bodily concept of life, brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya, sudra.


    But Krsna says:

    mam ca yo ‘vyabhicarena
    bhakti-yogena sevate
    sa gunan samatityaitan
    brahma-bhuyaya kalpate
    [Bg. 14.26]

    So anyone who engages himself without any reservation to the service of the Lord, he is not within the category of these eight varnasrama-dharma. He’s transcendental. Sa brahma-bhuyaya kalpate. So as a Krsna consciousness person, he can act like anything by the order of Krsna. He can act as a brahmana, he can act as a sudra, because his main
    business is to carry out Krsna’s order. He’s no longer within the category of this sva-dharma. So Krsna asking Arjuna, that “If you are thinking in the bodily concept of life, then also…” Means “First of all, when I have ordered, I have sanctioned, you can work it beyond the bodily concept of life. But if you are thinking still that you are in
    the bodily concept of life, then, as a ksatriya, it is your duty to fight.” Krsna is trying to put Arjuna in the dilemma, “This way or that way, you must have to fight. If you think that you are not in bodily concept of life, then it is My order, ‘You must fight.’ If you think that you are in bodily concept of life, then you are a ksatriya, you must fight. Both ways you have to fight.” This is Krsna’s conclusion.
    Thank you very much. (end)”

    I know for sure that I am not a maha-bhagavata neither am I completely free from the material bodily conception of life; therefore I need to follow the varna-asrama system as instructed by Krsna in this verse.

    sva-dharmam api caveksya
    na vikampitum arhasi
    dharmyaddhi yuddhac chreyo ‘nyat
    ksatriyasya na vidyate
    [Bg. 2.31]

    your very fallen unworthy aspiring servant,
    Kanai Krsna Dasa.

  2. Dear R.P. Bhakti Raghava Swami Guru Maharaja,
    Please accept my humble obeisances,
    All glories to Sri Guru and Sri Gauranga.
    All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    I said to help but please forgive me.
    It is not that your Holiness need help to make this point.
    I am simply adding more information on the subject.

    your very fallen unworthy aspiring servant,
    Kanai Krsna Dasa.

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