Devotee (1): Can you comment on India geographically, what was the influence of Muslim conquest, British and even American influence today on brahminical Varnashrama culture? What is the difference between regions?
HH BVPS Maharaja: The Muslims came in for so long, but they adopted a lot of the Vedic dress, music, so much of the cooking. They absorbed it, they did it in their own way. So the only main difference and problem is religion. The British came in, it’s also religion but they also didn’t like their structure, their economics and this and that. But they found the best way to run India was with the Indian stuff. They followed Manu in the court of law when it concerned Indians. But they tried to break it down. So they figured out by breaking down the educational system, then you change it. The Muslim was, ‘You become a Muslim or we cut off your head,’ it is more direct. The British figured out that ‘If we re-educate them then we can change, then we get done what we want.’ The Western is simply ‘If we can introduce our own culture through the means of consumerism and entertainment then we can economically get done what we want.’
All of them, it was economics, but the modern one was most effective because through television they are able to introduce everything that people should want to buy. By following modern culture you are a great consumer. The people who aren’t the consumers, the ones that control the consumer’s culture, generally you find they are closer to our principles than the modern person because you can’t lead the society by being a consumer. You have to lead the society by being controlled, by following etiquette and culture and all those things like that. Otherwise it doesn’t work, they know that. They are not trying to get social stability out of people more than that they are socially stable enough to spend money. When it breaks down that they can’t spend money then they want to fix that. Because where does welfare work stop? When you’re on your two feet that you are a consumer. That’s where it stops. They don’t care for you a day after that. But the Vedic cares for you from beginning to end. Because the real welfare is human life, is spiritual life.
Human means you are elevating yourself, you can’t be human and not be elevating yourself, either through karma, jnana, or yoga. You have to be elevating yourself. Of that the highest is bhakti-yoga. You have to be doing one of them, you can’t be doing nothing. Otherwise you would be considered a tribal.
(From Seminar on Philosophical Definitions, 29th Sep 2008, Bhaktivedanta Academy, Sridham Mayapur )
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Transcription by Uddhava Priya Prabhu. Used with permission.
Minor adjustments made by site authors.