The following was part of discussion I have been observing:
“…(prominent ISKCON figure) sometimes said that ISKCON needs brahmins before we can establish varnasrama (Srila Prabhupada said –just a paraphrase– society was headless and he came to give it a head).
“… would you agree with the idea of a sequence (brahmanas are needed first)?”
I strongly disagree. In the late 1990s I squandered a couple of years in the PAMHO Varna ashram conference arguing this very point.
The problem is this:
“Without protection of cows, brahminical culture cannot be maintained; and without brahminical culture, the aim of life cannot be fulfilled.”
Srimad Bhagavatam 8.24.5
If the premise is that first we have to have the brahmanas before we have the other varnas, but brahmans can’t exist without cow protection, then brahminical culture will never be established as it is trying to create itself while lacking an essential element. It will be like a dog chasing its own tail.
I observe that the “brahmans first ” mentality has dominated since the 90s and the rural communities have been neglected and guess what? The movement is languishing in the US, completely bearing out the point of the verse that brahminical life cannot be maintained without cow protection. Most temples have become Hindu social centers, an artificial show bottle of brahminical lifestyle, more like performance art than a society. (BTW all glories to the Hindus for preserving what is left of the movement, this is not meant as a knock on them.)
Yes, there needs to be brahmans, but without developing a vaisya class, and the most salient feature of that vaisya class being cow protection, an attempt at establishing brahminical culture will never thrive or be vibrant.
Also from that discussion and my reply:
“Look out the window (Gosh’s note: a reference to the larger society we exist in) and what you see is what Srila Prabhupada called asuric varnashrama. To say that Krsna is missing is to say quite a lot…”
And what was Krishna’s primary occupation? Cow protection. We want to be brahamans and have Krishna but we don’t want to bothered by protecting cows? Good grief!
“What you do NOT see is:
any idea of spiritual life
no social contract based on dharma
no ashramas certainly
actual spiritual understanding among the populace…”
Most prominently what you don’t see is cow protection.
As long as devotees feel that access to abundant milk is their entitlement, see it as a commodity and not as an opulence, and are accepting of cheap milk subsidized by the blood of the cow and her calf without offsetting it by donations to cow protection programs, brahminical culture will always be some pipe dream, the province of ivory tower intellectuals satisfied with abstract dissertations instead of concrete manifestations. An anomaly in the macro society, swept along by its currents, rather than having a beneficial effect or any influence at all on the macro society.
And I have little patience with the whole flimsy rationalization of “ajnata-sukrti” that the poor slaughtered cow will be benefited by having her milk offered to Krishna. That is a great reason for offering her milk but gives no support to devotees consuming it.
To build a house, first you build a foundation (that would be the stomach in the body analogy). You don’t start with the roof and hope everything else will manifest. Once cow protection is established, the brahminical class will follow.