Moving to Farms – The Great Varnashrama Misconception

Prabhu: Maharaja, this question I am asking this for my clarification. Since we are preaching to the peoples…

HH BVPS Maharaja: To the peoples…

Prabhu: …and people, they are coming and joining the temples, now they have joined the temples…

HH BVPS Maharaja: The peoples are joining the temples?

Prabhu: Devotees…

HH BVPS Maharaja: So, you are preaching to the peoples, but only devotees join?

Prabhu: Those who get, people, they understand the philosophy, they come…

HH BVPS Maharaja: Okay, those peoples that understand, they become devotees, they join, okay.

Prabhu: Now they are chanting and reading books, and now they are preaching, going for the book distribution, and main activity is they are raising the funds, so that temple can sustain, they can purchase the rice, wheat, instead of growing their food. So now, we are more dependent on profit and people are living in the cities. So how we can preach so that they can be in their position, they are doing pottery, they are doing agriculture, they are doing all duty according to their varna and ashrama, so it will not….

HH BVPS Maharaja: So the way that you will get them to be comfortable in that is being able to appreciate that whatever position one is in that’s comfortable… Because I would say that there is probably a very major, well, yeah, I would consider a major point that most devotees who are dealing with Varnashrama miss. Dvaraka was not a village, neither was Indraprastha, neither was Mathura, neither was Hastinapura. Right? Or Pataliputra, or Drupada’s kingdom, his city. So Varnashrama also includes cities. So the main point is Krishna consciousness. What is the advantage of living in the rural environment? What is the advantage?

Prabhu: In rural environment there is more peace than city.

HH BVPS Maharaja: More peace? But peace, what’s that got to do with Krishna consciousness? Mayavadis sit in the stone room somewhere is some ashrama on the side of the Ganga and endeavor for peace. The Buddhist sits in his stupa somewhere, or stupor, whatever, and he is endeavoring for peace. Does that make sense? So how is that an advantage, why would peace be an advantage?

Prabhu: Peace in the sense that they have more time for chanting and reading the books.

HH BVPS Maharaja: But so then what would effect peace? Because people are in a peaceful environment, but are they peaceful? You know what I am saying? It’s just like, you go to, you look at the magazines and that. There is an island somewhere, perfect turquiose ocean, white beach, coconut trees and everything. And what are they advertising? A 5-star hotel there. They will say, ‘Yes, it is very peaceful,’ and this and that. So the people are going there, they are peaceful. So now is the natural thing therefore Krishna consciousness? No. What are they going to do? Now they are peaceful, what are they going to do?

Prabhu: Sense enjoyment.

HH BVPS Maharaja: Yeah, they are going to spend their time at the beach or at the SPA, or at the restaurant. Do you understand? So the point is is, even peace, if you don’t understand that it has to be connected to Krishna, even if you have it you are not going to use it properly. Mayavadis, their peace they misuse, Buddhists misuse it, materialists misuse it. Does that make sense? 

So the point is is, whatever you have, engage in Krishna’s service. You have a nature. So if you have a nature to function in a rural environment, that’s what you should be doing. Right? But you should be doing it for Krishna. Same thing is, someone is living in a city environment, they should be doing that for Krishna. 

The point is is, in a rural environment you are more in tune with the laws of God, so it’s more easy to remember the Lord. But you can also, just as easily, forget Him, the animals are out there and they don’t remember at all. But it’s just you are more in tune, while in the city if it’s not set up according to Vedic standards, it is very easy to forget the Lord due to the modes of passion and ignorance being very prominent. Because you create the environment. 

In the nature, living in nature, then the mode controlling that is goodness, but it doesn’t mean that you are controlled by goodness. You can be in passion or ignorance while you are there. So, the idea is that if they are there then how to make their situation Krishna conscious, whether you are in the city or whether you are in the country. And so, in that situation you see what would be the Krishna consciousness, what would please Krishna? So if you look at that, that will automatically adjust what you are doing. The form in the rural setting, basically you don’t necessarily have much adjustment. In the urban setting you might have more adjustment. But the point is, it’s the change of the consciousness that’s important because whether one is in the city or whether one is in the other, it doesn’t matter. Because in the Vedic thing… 

It’s just like this. Let us say, you live on a farm. Where is your house? Is it within the farm? Yeah. But in your house, is there farming? Okay, maybe, that avocado seed is growing on the window sill and your wheatgrass is growing, whatever, but the point is, your house is a house. Okay. Let us say, you have a big family, and so now you have three generations there, you are there, your ten children are there with their families, and their grandchildren. So, you have quite a few houses there on your farm. So, where are those houses? Are they all together, or one is here, one is over there, one is over… No, you put them all together, it’s surrounded by farm. Right? So, all you do is you expand that more and then you end up with a town or a city, but in the Vedic concept then where is that city situated? In the middle of farm. So, all around the city on all four sides, that’s farm. 

So that’s the weakness in your modern urban environment, there is no farm. The people want to move out of the city, they then go out and start a new town. Because if you take the farmland and make it into the urban environment, then that’s a problem. Or, as you make the rural into the suburban, then extend the rural. Do you understand? But all cities, depending on how big they are, that much degree of land they are supposed to have. So, in other words, Manhattan Island basically should have all of Jersey and half of New York as farmland. Then what’s the problem? All it is is that more developed thing of what the man who is living in the rural is doing anyway. He is not living out there with his carrots. He lives in a house, there is not one carrot growing out of his ground there. In his living room there is no carrots. So, all it is is that the city is the bigger environment for living in, so, therefore, the rules still apply, it’s not that there is two different lifestyles and all that. That’s if you are not very good at principles and only see details then, yes, it’s very different. Like here, this rock and this brick, ‘Oh, they are so different, oh, this and that,’  no, they are both made of earth. The same rules apply. 

(From Bhagavad-gita Thematic Study Course, lecture #44, Bhaktivedanta Academy, Sridham Mayapur)

Full lecture audio, this passage starting at 33:20

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