Varnasrama Shift

The following is an interview of His Holiness Bhakti Räghava Swami Mahäräja, conducted by Sriman Hari Kirtana Däsa, in Puncak Indonesia on March 23, 2003.

Sriman Hari Kirtana Däsa (AP – India): Hare Krsna

His Holiness Bhakti Räghava Swami: Hare Krsna

Hari Kirtana Däsa: Please accept my most humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupäda. Mahäräja, Srila Prabhupäda said that only fifty percent of his preaching work was established. So, there is fifty percent of the mission left. Would you please elaborate on this?

Bhakti Räghava Swami: Yes, fifty percent of Srila Prabhupäda’s mission is yet to be done. There have been various interpretations of this statement. I would say that the majority of devotees—whom I know—understand that this fifty percent is the establishment and development of daiva-varnasrama. This includes varnasrama rural development and also varnasrama colleges. There are many, very clear, detailed instructions by Srila Prabhupäda on varnasrama colleges, even in his early Essay on Gita-nagari, which he wrote before going to America. varnasrama colleges are meant to help the development of varnasrama communities.

Although initially, Srila Prabhupäda—and there are quotes to that effect—was giving less importance to varëäçrama and more importance to direct devotional service—he even mentioned that it is not possible to have varëäçrama nowadays, in some context— later on, especially during the last year he was with us, he explained

that so many of our devotees cannot come up to the platform of pure devotional service directly. We all know it is not such an easy thing. Therefore, in order to help our devotees, our communities, our society, both individually and collectively, come up to the platform of pure devotional service, varëäçrama is necessary. It is the method to regulate human life in this world. The devotee follows different saàskäras and receives proper training so that he can advance toward the ultimate goal, in a very methodical and scientific manner—because varëäçrama is very scientific. It is the ideal and perfect program because it is given by Lord Kåñëa himself, as explained in the Bhagavad-gétä and the Çrémad-Bhägavatam.

So, this fifty percent is referring to the establishment of varëäçrama. What we fail to apprehend, even though we are already in 2003, are the methods to apply this varëäçrama in practice. We have been, and are still somewhat, slow to understand the scope of varëäçrama and its significance. This is true for many of our devotees—I would even say for a good number of our leaders. The understanding I get, from reading various quotes and hearing the conversations of Çréla Prabhupäda, is that devotees do not belong in the cities. We do not realize, or possibly do not know, that although he established our temples in the cities initially, Çréla Prabhupäda did not want us to always remain in the cities.

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