Gosh’s note: This is a good paper floating around to read and understand though I would take issue with the emphasis on raw milk.
While homogenization is pretty artificial Srila Prabhupada did instruct us to pasteurize the milk in general. The whole” bring it to foam three times” thing.
Besides the recent experience of Balabhadra getting deathly sick from drinking raw milk, it is also the vector for other diseases, including tuberculosis. Dharmakala and her whole family got TB when she was a child and it was traced to the family cow and drinking raw milk.
Another issue is with the idea that Amish are successfully living on the land. While there are many that are, more than 50% of Amish no longer make the main source of their income off farming.
Many of them do construction, logging, and crafts to survive. This is largely due to the high cost of land and competing in an economy where food commodities are highly subsidized by the government.
Establishing Varna ashram agriculturally based rural communities will require subsidization.
NEED FOR DEVELOPING VRINDAVAN
VILLAGES IN NORTH AMERICA
In 1949 Srila Prabhupada mentioned in a letter to Vallabhai Patel that his mission is divided into four movements: a) congregational chanting of the holy names of the Lord, b) building the temples, c) spiritual initiation, and d) establishing a classless society based on god realization.
Today in ISKCON we have in many ways fulfilled the first three movements. However, the fourth movement of establishing the classless society or Daiva Varnasrama culture remains largely unfulfilled. The purpose of this paper is to outline the need of fulfilling Srila Parbhupada’s desire of establishing the classless Daiva Varnasrama society in North America. In this paper, we have first presented Srila Prabhupada’s ideology on Varnasrama. As we proceed, we analyze the present situation in North America and provide the necessary steps required to fulfill Srila Prabhupada’s desire of re-establishing the varnasrama dharma for the betterment of the human society by establishing self sufficient farm communities.
1.1 Srila Prabhupada’s Vision on Varnasrama
As early as 1949, Srila Prabhupada described his mission in a letter to the Vallabhai Patel, the then Deputy Prime Minister of India, outlining four movements. The first was the “sankirtan” movement of chanting and philosophical discourse that was to be introduced all over the world. Then came the “temple entry” movement; organizing temples as centers of spiritual culture according to scriptures like Bhagavad-Gita. Thirdly, he described the “spiritual initiation” movement; a movement that would be conducted under strict disciplinary methods to enable to enable individuals to attain the perfection of human life. Finally, he described the “classless society” movement or the “Daiva Varnasrma” movement.
In the last film footage of Srila Prabhupada we find him lying in his bed with H.H. Jayadvaita Swami holding a microphone close to his lips. Carefully choosing the words for what were to become his final purports, he explained exactly why we need varnasrama as follows:
“According to the association of different natures, we get a body. karanam guna sangasya sad asad yoni janmasu. Therefore, we should always seek good association, devotee association. Then our life will be successful. If we live with good association, then we cultivate knowledge. A man is known by his company. So if we have the chance of association with devotees, then our character, nature becomes better. By hearing, by discussing Srimad Bhagavatam, this rajo guna, tamo guna are subdued. Then sattva guna remains. nasta prayesu abhadresu nityam bhagavata sevaya. Then rajo guna, tamo guna cannot do us harm. Therefore, varnasrama dharma is so essential that people live in sattva guna. Tamo guna, rajo guna increases lust and greediness, and that implicates the living entity who exists in the material world in many, many forms. That is very dangerous. Therefore, they should be brought into sattva guna by the establishment of varnasrama dharma.”
1.2 Srila Prabhupada’s Vision on Varnashrama Education
The following conversation between Srila Prabhupada and his disciples provides an insight to his vision of Varnasrama education:
When it was suggested that the chanting of Hare Krishna was meant to replace varnasrama for everyone, Srila Prabhupada replied:
Prabhupäda: Yes, it can replace, but who is going to replace it? People are not so advanced. If you imitate Haridäsa Thäkura to chant, it is not possible . . . the sahajiyä’s chanting will come. Just like our (name withheld). He was not fit for sannyäsa but he was given sannyäsa. And five women he was attached and he disclosed. Therefore varnasrama dharma is required. Simply show-bottle will not do. So the varnashrama-dharma should be introduced all over the world, and…
Satsvarüpa: Introduced starting with ISKCON community?
Prabhupäda: Yes. Yes. Brahmanas , Kshatriyas. There must be regular education.
Hari-sauri: But in our community, if the…, being as we’re training up as Vasihnavas…
Hari-sauri: …then how will we be able to make divisions in our society?
Prabhupäda: Vaishnava is not so easy. The varnasrama dharma should be established to become a Vaishnava. It is not so easy to become Vaishnava. [Mäyäpura 14 February 1977]
From the above, we can understand that the sankirtan movement as introduced by Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu based on the chanting of the holy names and the performance of devotional service to Lord Krishna, is not meant to replace varnasrama as a means of societal organization. Rather the varnasrama dharma should be established in society as a supportive measure to help individuals become Vaishnavas.
In Sri Bhaktyaloka, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura also confirms that Lord Caitanya did not reject varnasrama for social organization. After quoting Bhagavatam 1.2.8 – dharmaù svanuñöhitaù puàsäà viñvaksena-kathäsu yaù / notpädayed yadi ratià çrama eva hi kevalam – the Thakur explains:
“The occupational activities a man performs according to his own position are only so much useless labor if they do not provoke attraction for the message of the Personality of Godhead.”
From this one should not conclude that Sri Chaitanya Mahäprabhu has ordered us to discard varnasrama dharma. If that had been the case, then He would not have instructed all living entities through His pastimes of completely following the orders of grihastha and sannyäsa. As long as one has a material body the system of varnasrama dharma must be followed, but it should remain under the full control and domination of bhakti. Varnasrama dharma is like the foundation of one’s supreme occupational duty. When one’s supreme occupational duty is matured and one achieves his goal, then the process is gradually neglected. Again, it is also abandoned at the time of death.
2.0 PRESENT SCENARIO IN NORTH AMERICA
The general population in North America, especially in the United Sates is living in a very fragile state of economy. This economy dwells on the supply of oil and automobiles. Reduction in the supply of oil increases the price of fuel for automobiles which in turn increases the price of all essential commodities such as food items, etc. Srila Prabhupada has explained in several places in Srimad Bhagavatham that drilling oil is the propensity of demons. The situation in the cities has become so intense that sometimes the devotees have to work 80 hours a week to pay off their debts and live a decent life. This creates an unfriendly atmosphere for practicing devotional service and also living a healthy family life.
If a devotee works more than 80 hours a week it can be understood that his / her devotional life is under threat. This is especially true when the devotee has to associate with non-devotees in the place of occupation. Moreover, many devotees are forced by the current economic situation to get indulged in occupations that involve the violation of four regulated principles such as working in grocery stores and restaurants that sell meat products and alcohol. There is a great need to find an alternate atmosphere that provides the devotees with sufficient amount of time and opportunity to practice devotional service. It is to be understood that we may not be able convert the devotees living in the cities into overnight farmers. However, we can create an appreciation for an alternative lifestyle that involves self sufficiency and healthy devotional life.
3.0 SRILA PRABUPADA’S VISION OF RURAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Srila Prabhupada expressed his desire to establish Krishna Conscious, self-sufficient communities and villages. He also gave instructions to make existing villages Krishna Conscious. So far, ISKCON has become very successful at city preaching and large numbers of the populace have taken up to the chanting of the holy names sincerely, thus adapting their lives to the principles of Krishna consciousness. However, the establishment of a society based on the traditional village lifestyle has been neglected. Although one can still advance in Krishna consciousness living in the cities, the degraded influences of urban life place serious constraints on the progress most devotees can make. ISKCON must recognize the need to re-establish, develop, and maintain the ideals of village-based communities. Initially, perhaps only a few will want to take it up, but without it, Srila Prabhupada’s mission in four phases or “movements”, and ISKCON’s preaching programs, remain incomplete. The following are but a few selected quotes supporting the need to remain in the villages:
“Actually, everyone should be engaged to produce food, but the modern set-up of civilization is that few people are engaged in producing food, and others are eating. They are offering… They are artificially getting money.” [Conversation 25/7/73 London]
“Clever means that he must stay in his own land. He should not be cheated by the paper and go to the city.” [Conversation 25/7/73 London]
“Gandhi’s program was very nice, village organize so that they may not come to the city and help the capitalists. Remain satisfied in the village.” [Conversation 12/9/76 Vrindavan]
“So this Krishna consciousness movement is trying to revive the original, constitutional position. So one of them, in Krishna consciousness movement, is village organization, as you are trying here.” [Lecture 15/7/76 Gita Nagari]
3.1 Desired Relationships between City Temples and Farm Communities
Srila Prabhupada wanted that we should have farms supporting our city temples. In this way, people living in the cities can be shown the right path of living a simple Krishna conscious lifestyle. Srila Prabhupada predicted that many people will be attracted to Krishna consciousness in his following statements:
“It is very good that the farm will be providing foodstuffs for both the farm and the temple in Paris. That is wanted. The farm program should be: grow your own food, produce your own milk, cloth and everything and chant Hare Krsna.” [Letter to Bhagavan 14/11/75]
“Regarding Ahmedabad Centre, we must have a place there… (it is) one of the most opulent and important cities of India. We have to organize in the neighboring village… Now, our next program will be to organize farming land to set an example to the whole world how people can be peaceful, happy, and free from all anxieties simply by chanting Hare Krishna Maha-mantra and living an honorable life in Krishna Consciousness.” [Letter to Kartikeya Mahadevia 19/10/75]
4.0 INITIAL STEPS FOR PROMOTING FARM COMMUNITIES
4.1 Educating Cow Protection
In North America once the cow stops producing milk it is sent to the slaughter houses and the flesh of the cow is generally in great demand. This is largely because people are not generally educated in the benefit they can derive from not sending the cows to the slaughter houses. For instance, if people are educated about how cow dung can be used to improve the fertility of the soil they may not want to slaughter the cows.
It has recently been discovered that the direct milk from the cow is much more nutritious than the processed and pasteurized milk available in the markets. Although the sale of raw unpasteurized milk is banned in the United States there is no harm in educating the masses regarding the benefits of raw milk. ISKCON can promote education on the need for cow protection not just to the devotees but also to the general masses by having seminars in colleges and universities on cow protection.
4.2 Promoting Organic Farming
The ISKCON farms in North America can be used to provide a good infrastructure for building organic farms. Cow dung and cow urine can be used as manures as an alternative to chemical fertilizers. These farms can sell their produce in ISKCON organic farm stores setup in the cities. In this way the farm communities can have a source of revenue other than collecting donations directly or through book distribution. The Amish community have been very succesful in growing crops and sustaining themselves just by farming and selling their produce. This success can be easily replicated. The following is a conversation between Srila Prabhupada and his disciple:
“Pusta Krishna: Sometimes the argument is put forward that in places where there is no sufficient food and shelter and things like this, these problems should be solved first before the problem of spiritual life.
Prabhupada: Yes. Why don’t you solve? There are so many land. Come here and grow food. Grow fruit. That is … That is the desire of Krishna. Annad bhavanti bhutani [Bg 3.14: All living bodies subsist on food grains, which are produced from rains. Rains are produced by performance of yajna [sacrifice], and yajna is born of prescribed duties.] Produce food and eat sufficiently, be strong, and chant Hare Krishna. That is our philosophy.”
In this paper, we have made a small attempt to present Srila Prabhupada’s idea of Varnasrama dharma. Today, we are living in a world where economic collapse, natural calamities, and deteriorating climate are very much evident. The expansion of the intensity of human greed is fast destroying the amount of tranquility involved in our daily lives. This expansion is supported by television programs, cinema, billboards, consumerism, and many other such elements of our so called human society. By following Srila Prabhupada’s foot steps we can re-establish and facilitate farm culture to induce the required tranquility to practice devotional service in a very conducive atmosphere.