Varṇāśrama Interview with HH Bhaktividyā Pūrṇa Mahārāja

[The following interview about varāśrama was conducted on 30 May 2017 by Nagarī Mātājī (BVKS) for the Russian website of HH Bhakti Vikāsa Swami’s disciples.]

(This Interview was transcribed and kindly supplied to our website by Sulālitā dd (BBGS), edited by Balaram Briant from Bhaktivedanta Academy, Sridham Mayapur)

Varṇāśrama stereotypes

Nagarī Mātājī: What is the essence, or the foundation, of varāśrama? Many devotees confuse it with the caste system.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Caste system, I see. If you listen to modern academics, if you listen to modern socially oriented people, they will try to make it into a caste system. Because the purpose is if make it look bad you don’t have to follow it. In other words something scientific, which doesn’t give you an option for sentimental speculations that are based on selfish ambitions, then by getting rid of that you can move on by whatever I think is right, whatever we think together is the truth and therefore it’s the law, there’s natural laws and if we want to actually fit into the universal order we have to follow these laws. So that will be the basis, and of course coming from the country where the concept of no casts, right, communists means no casts, but, everybody accept the communists knows that there are people, the proletarian, and there are those that sit in Kremlin.

Everybody knows that out of four castes they only have two and there’s no questions that in Russia at any point of history, including Marks, that they ever followed one system. Right? So the point is that the society naturally divides into those four: there are always intellectuals, you know, your doctors, lawyers, writers, journalists, you always have administration, you always have businessmen and you always have those who are the support of all those. If you don’t have these four, it doesn’t work.

In other words, Russia as a communist country collapsed because they didn’t have intellectuals and economics, it was totally unreliable system. Right, so now that they’ve added that back, as it was before, now it’s starting to flourish. In other words, all the four positions have to be there. So now the question is are we going to follow these sentiments how to deal with each other or are we going to follow the science how are they related. That’s the question.

So you can say it’s the caste system, yes, there are groups, just like you don’t have in Russia white collar workers, blue collar workers, people who work in offices, in factories, in administration, bureaucrats. You don’t have the terms that define intellectuals, so then how is that any less than castes? Castes you have to have. The question is, “How are you in that caste, is it by birth or is it by qualification?” So there’s qualification, that’s the standard, that’s natural. Saying it’s by birth—that’s a problem. Right? So, therefore, in the Vedic system it’s not by birth, and people are complaining that it’s been practiced by birth. It’s a Vedic system, certain individuals are misusing it for their own benefit.

So since the system is meant for developing in spiritual life, then those who use it that way for them it works nicely, and those who use it for their own material benefit, of course it’ll create trouble. Any system does that. If the intellectuals work only for themselves it creates trouble, if the government works for their own benefit it creates trouble, if the economic community is working for themselves it creates trouble, and if people are doing things for themselves it creates trouble. The point is there has to be a cooperative system and that means you are qualified for your position. It has to be efficient.

Nagarī Mātājī: Many devotees know that Kṛṣṇa gave us varāśrama, but He also said abandon all religions and surrender unto Me. And in the discussion with Rāmānanda Rāya, Lord Caitanya said that it’s not important.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: That’s standard stuff. All atheists are using these quotes. So it’s standard, so they can feel comfortable, that “Yes, I am speaking standard atheistic philosophy.” Yes, they can be comfortable. But, if we look at it, is it varāśrama is what would make you perfect or is it Kṛṣṇa consciousness that makes you perfect, right? So, now, why is there varāśrama. Like on tapaloka do they need varāśrama? Right? They’re all brahmacārīs, they don’t need varāśrama, they live under a tree somewhere and haribol! Why do you need varāśrama? Because it maintains the body, it maintains the social structure, so I guarantee that most of the times devotees who are quoting these two atheistic points are ghasthas. How are they maintaining themselves? So therefore I use the term “atheistic.”

Now, if a hardcore brahmacārī (who is only preaching and doing book distribution all day and does nothing else the rest of the day) doesn’t worry about anything else, speaks on this point, now we have a basis for a discussion. But if they are ghasthas, there’s no point for discussion. Because vara means how you make money to maintain yourself. So vara is meant for ghastha. Vara isn’t meant for brahmacārī, vānaprastha, and sannyāsīs. That’s brahminical. Only ghastha somehow makes money by four different methods. The brahmacārīs, vānaprasthas and sannyāsīs are maintaining themselves by one, brahminical.

So all it is that first as we mentioned people want to be independent, they don’t want to follow any authorities, therefore if they can say or convince others that there is to Vedic authority, then they can by their own mental speculation establish how they should live their life according to their own whims, this is the motive behind those words. That’s the preliminary. Now let’s look at it.

Let’s start with the first one: sarva-dharmān parityajya. One is that you can give up religion only if you follow religion. Those who say we should abandon all religion—has he ever followed religion? Varāśrama is religion, first you follow then you leave it.

You know, I’m saying, it’s just like walking into the store and loudly declaring, “I will now renounce all the items in your store!” It’s not theirs! So they’re not following the religion, how can they claim to leave religion if they don’t know what religion is?

Religion is varāśrama, brahmacarya, studying the books, you know, performing the daily rituals, being austere, giving in charity, these are twelve different aspects of religion that Prahlāda Mahārāja mentioned in Seventh Canto, right? But, it mentions, and Kṛṣṇa also says, that even if you’re advanced in devotional service, then austerity, charity, and sacrifice are never given up. This is religion.

So what does it mean when Kṛṣṇa says “abandon all religion and surrender unto Me,” it means that all these religions generate material facilities, liberation—it’s all karma and jnana. You don’t get karma and jnana if you don’t follow religion. So by following religion you get these benefits, so why are you following religion, just to get the benefit of karma and jnana, or you’re simply using religion to engage in devotional service. Because to do devotional service there has to be some form. Right? So in other words, following the form of religion to please Kṛṣṇa is sarva-dharmān parityajya, and to follow the form of religion to get material benefit that is being religious and pious. That’s what Kṛṣṇa means.

Then Rāmānanda Rāya is asking Lord Chaitanya what is the ultimate goal, the question wasn’t, “Should we follow varāśrama?” The questions was, “What is the ultimate goal?” And so he first mentioned varāśrama engaged in devotional service, it’s not varāśrama that’s engaged, it’s serving the Lord with devotion in prema, that’s where we’re trying to get to. But which medium are we going to use?

We’re going to use varāśrama, because if we’re going to quote this as a point, then did Lord Caitanya follow the dharma of a sannyāsī? Did Rāmānanda Rāya follow the dharma of a ghastha and a governor of Madras province? Yes, very strictly. Therefore, you cannot take something out of context and then because you’re taking it out of context, then you’re trying to throw the whole thing out, that’s called cala, which means “to shift,” which means cheating religion. That’s why it says it’s atheistic, you’re using the definitions of something else and then throwing the whole thing out, cheating.

So in other words, those who are irreligious will use this arguments. You understand. There are individuals, as I mentioned, who are very strict and very renounced, very disciplinary in their holistic consciousness, so for them what Prabhupāda talked about in the beginning that’s all they do 24/7, they can make such comment and with them we can discuss the finer details. But for those who are ghasthas, going around in their sunglasses, haircuts and tattoos, their cargo-jeans, cutting their profile, riding on their jeep with hands out the window around Moscow—to make such arguments is atheistic.

Nagarī Mātājī: It’s also commonly heard, at least from leaders, that—

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Just because people don’t know philosophy doesn’t mean they won’t try to manage. In the society where somehow management is considered the ultimate position, knowledge of philosophy isn’t accepted as, you know, important. I’ve even heard leaders say, when you say the point they make is wrong philosophically, their answer is, “I don’t study so much all these things. Therefore we just agree to disagree.” It’s a typical American saying, “agree to disagree.” The point is we don’t agree to disagree, if śāstra says something, this is what Prabhupāda gave us, we don’t agree to disagree. The point is that Prabhupāda gave us standard things to do, if you’re a leader in the society, then you’re a brāhmaa, you’re supposed to be on the bhakti-śāstri level of study, right? If you’re a sannyāsī, you must be on the level of bhakti-vaibhava. If you’re a senior GBC and guru you must be on the level of bhakti-vedānta. Knock me out. How many are on that level? A few. And they don’t say these things.

So in other words substituting dharma with politics is not religion. It doesn’t benefit anybody. You know, and in Russia how good does the politics work for everybody? Political solutions do not make Kṛṣṇa consciousness, political solutions are political, their purpose is economics.

Why haven’t we applied varṇāśrama yet?

Nagarī Mātājī: Another argument that we would ask you to comment on is that western culture is so degraded, there’s no point to even try to apply varāśrama. And bhakti is independent from anything, you can practice it in any conditions.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Yes, yes, but practice it in any condition. Are they practicing or are they only saying that I could practice in in any condition? You know, in English we also have a saying, “lip-service.” In other words, it rolls off the tongue very nicely, but when you ask why you’re not doing anything even in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, the typical, standard recommendations, then they’ll say these things, but what do they do, they will practice their regular old habits. Basically speaking, accept for few pictures on the wall, no meat and eggs in the refrigerator, you cannot tell the difference between a Russian karmi house or a Russian devotee house. But that’s their own choice. It has nothing to do with western culture, this and that. Russia isn’t the west, it’s the east. If you’re in Moscow, okay, you’re a little bit European, but you’re east European, and everybody else are Asians. How do they think? Like Asians, it’s all about their mood, the feelings, so people are appreciating, relationships. West Europeans don’t think about that. So they can’t claim themselves western. They are the last ones that can claim they’re western. Just because you eat at McDonald’s and drive around in Mercedes, doesn’t make you western.

Nagarī Mātājī: It gives us hope. [laughing]

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: These are all excuses why I am going to maintain my attachment to my particular lifestyle, while trying to claim that I am being philosophical and advanced, but all this is attachment. Yes, the ācāryas do accommodate, but these people aren’t accommodating as ācāryas do. In other words, if you’re not Kṛṣṇa conscious—“Oh, we’re westerners.” These are just typical, everyone says that. Birds chirp, cats meow, dogs bark, those who are attached say these things. They don’t say anything else. I’ve been hearing this Rāmānanda Rāya and sarva-dharman since the 70s. You know—come up with a new one.

Nagarī Mātājī: This is eternal knowledge. [laughing]

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Yes. Eternal, material knowledge.

Nagarī Mātājī: Also, we wanted to mention in the same context that often times we hear that yajñas and other Vedic rituals are so complicated and difficult that nowadays they don’t even work, and even saskāras, that it’s not as important.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: As if Russian social scene works, right? You can’t even drive down the road, it’s all traffic. Let’s get too much into how the Vedic system doesn’t work. The point is that what doesn’t work is the karma-ṇḍa sections. We’re not talking about doing your ācamana and washing your hands and feet before entering the pūjārī room. You know, wear some clean clothes, take a bath, put on some tilak. You know, that’s not what we’re talking about, if they think that’s complicated, great. No problem. We don’t mind it’s complicated, but don’t try to present yourself as sophisticated, scientific, knowledgeable, liberal person if you can’t do these basic things, right?

We’re talking about performing these huge aśvamedha-yajñas; all these kinds of rituals can’t be observed now. But what Prabhupāda has given us—to say that that’s ritualistic and we can’t do that, again, that’s ignorance. Where is the training? We talk community. Is the community being trained? But without training how will everything take place? For example, I would like to get a position in the modern world, what do I require? Training. Right? So, therefore, I want to advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, lifestyle, practices, I need training. Somehow the training is not there, that’s why it’s defined as sentiments, it’s not scientific. They talk scientific, but where is the actual practice?

It’s always the excuse, “Oh it’s modern, even in Mayapur, Oh, we’re surrounded by modern culture.” We’re surrounded by Bengalis, you know, even the Muslims are wearing dhotis. And then we’re saying we can’t follow all this, it’s just an excuse.

That’s all, just an excuse. And because their friends buy it, therefore everyone says it. But in reality?

How important is varṇāśrama?

Nagarī Mātājī: From lectures of Guru Mahārāja I understood that varāśrama is the only way to exist in the material world which allows [you] to elevate yourself spiritually; meaning, without it it’s hard to advance, otherwise we will take up the culture of mlechhas and yavanas.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: The culture of mlecchas and yavanas is not progressive; it is meant for advancing in material life. In other words, even if you start at dharma, you’re trying to get to artha and ma, where ma is the goal, and for those of modern culture who are frustrated, they want to just destroy, right, nothing works. It’s like in the art house movie with a tragic ending; it can’t be a nice ending, that’s for sentimentalists. So, the whole thing is it doesn’t have anything to elevate, elevation is through knowledge, it’s the mode of goodness, right?

So you have sattva, rajas and tamas, ok? Sattva-gua is from the word sattva, which comes from sat, which means existence. Ok? Now, how do we define the existence of something? Something that has a location, form, quality and application or an action. That gives something existence. For example, this bench, it has the location, it has the form, it has a quality to hold you above the ground, it performs that action, therefore you’re sitting there and not on the ground. Therefore, we can understand it exists. So that existence is based on these four principles. That’s called sat-tva; tva means nature.

Now, when that existence has no beginning and no end, it’s spiritual. When that existence has a beginning and end, it’s material. Therefore, the whole idea is how to deal with sattva to bring it to śuddha-sattva; that’s what we’re striving for. Now if we’ll take a look at it, sattva means that everything already has internal nature, qualities and application. Right? It already exists whether it’s manifest or not, right? So the Vedic system, varāśrama, or religion, is a science of what is sattva and how that realizes in your life, other people’s lives, and the interaction between you and the world. That’s religion.

Śrīla Prabhupāda defines religion as intrinsic nature which doesn’t change. Sugar is sweet, fire is hot, you can’t change it, it’s the internal nature, that’s sattva.

So the Vedic culture is based on the mode of goodness, based on sattva, knowing these truths and applying these truths in your life, right? While modern isn’t based on the eternal knowledge. If it’s not based on that, what’s it based on? On what people want to get for their senses, so it’s passion on a good day and predominantly ignorance. Ignorance is the basis with a touch of passion, to make it not so unhappy, not so static, in other words passion gives a little more dynamics. Therefore, since the modern culture is based on passion and ignorance, mostly ignorance, where is the progressive aspect?

Because progress is the mode of goodness, in goodness you’re changing the consciousness, understanding who am I and what is the material energy with its laws and benefits I get makes goodness, but understanding there’s me, the material energy with its laws and Lawmaker and I’m trying to do my activities to please the Lawmaker makes it śuddha-sattva; so in other words, laws and following the laws, these are sattva and śuddha-sattva, the only difference being that in sattva you want to please yourself and in śuddha-sattva you want to please God. So therefore, where is there anything that the modern culture can offer? You know, taking bath once a week? Wearing your jeans for one week? But hey, ok, I understand, most of the people are at least changing underwear every day, socks maybe not, two-three days ok, but underwear generally they change. And French baths, you wash you face and put perfume and haribol! And how is that going to be progressive? How is that going to keep your mind pure, because the mind is created from goodness? Therefore, if the mind is not in the atmosphere of goodness it becomes degraded and becomes unsatisfied.

There’s one thing you can say about modern culture: dissatisfaction. You can put it in big letters on the board. Who is happy in modern culture? That’s right. And since they’re not paramahasas, it only gives one alternative: fools.

Remaining pieces of the puzzle

Nagarī Mātājī: Also, again in Guru Mahārāja’s lectures, I heard that if at first Śrīla Prabhupāda didn’t emphasize varāśrama, later on he gave to it great importance; he even said that 50% of his work wasn’t accomplished yet. Why at first he didn’t emphasize it, and later on only he started introducing it?

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: So varāśrama consists of how many parts?

Nagarī Mātājī: Varas and āśramas.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: How many in each?

Nagarī Mātājī: Four in each.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Right, so four and four. When Prabhupāda wasn’t emphasizing varāśrama, it was only in 1975 that he began to talk about it more, so before that did we have brahmacārīs? Did we have ghasthas? Did we have sannyāsīs? Did we have brāhmaas? Right? And everybody was pretty young, we didn’t have vānaprasthas, ok, but it’s not that it hasn’t been discussed, some old people joined the movement, so now how many parts we’ve covered?

Nagarī Mātājī: 5 out of 8.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: So now it is 5 out of 8 and no varāśrama? What is missing in varāśrama? Katriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras. Why do we need katriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras? For economic development. So since Prabhupāda has introduced Kṛṣṇa consciousness as simple temple life, preaching, harināma, book distribution, and all that, and devotees were doing it, what’s the need to introduce anything else? But when devotees wanted more, they wanted security, gain and safety, how are you going to accomplish that? By adding these other three. So before that we saw it as simply brahminical culture, and varāśrama is brahminical, but we’ve taken only the brāhmaa aspect of brahminical culture, so now he introduced katriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras, the complete structure of varāśrama.

Varāśrama has always been there; it’s not that, oh, Prabhupāda didn’t introduce varāśrama. This is claimed by those who don’t know what varāśrama is. It’s just there was no need for that, but if it’s required, it’s applied.

Nagarī Mātājī: Exactly, this is the point, if the āśramas are understood, but the varas—

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Āśramas are understood because people want to be in those positions. Varas are not understood because no one wants to admit they’re a śūdra. In other words, since it’s social, āśrama is spiritual, vara is social, and, according to modern culture, which position in society people want to be in? On the top. Brāhmaas they accept, the other ones, no.

Nagarī Mātājī: Yes, besides, often times we hear that Vaiṣṇavas are higher than brāhmaas.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Yes, but what religion do the Vaiṣṇavas follow? In other words, you are making money, how are you making money? Are you a doctor? Are you a lawyer? Are you a teacher? Right? Are you a journalist? Are you one of those social workers who are running around and trying to do big NGO stuff, is that how you are making money? If you are then you’re a brāhmaa. Are you a part of the government scene, are you making the law, are you enforcing the law? That’s administration. Not that it’s the guy walking around with the machine gun. Are you the one who generates the money? Are you manipulating the economical field and you are able to generate profit? You’re a vaiśya. Are you working for any of the above mentioned three and getting paid? You’re a śūdra.

So now, how do most devotees make money? As śūdras. It’s rare to find a devotee who’s a doctor, lawyer, teacher, journalist. Not very often. How many work in governmental positions? Bureaucrats? They are śūdras, right? And even those you’ll find few. And how many are businessmen? Several, and they have tons of money and everyone goes to them to ask for donations for this and that. So that means everybody is mostly a śūdra. No one wants to digest that. So that’s why that part is just so difficult to understand, so hard, which means that my false ego that I’m super special within the whole universe doesn’t fit into varāśrama, therefore it’s hard to understand.

Nagarī Mātājī: This is another argument that all of us are śūdras, we are even lower than śūdras.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Yes, that’s fine, if you’re lower than śūdras, act like it. Don’t say, “We’re lower than śūdras and we will tell brāhmaas what to do, we will say how the śāstras should be, we define how to follow great sages, ācāryas, Śrīla Prabhupāda and guru-paramparā, Nārada Muni and Prahlāda Mahārāja; we understand the material world better than them.” That is the mentality of someone who is lower than śūdra, but they don’t acknowledge their position and mentality.

So therefore, you can’t progress; just like if you want to go from your present location to the temple, if you accept where you’re sitting now as your present location, you can make it to the temple. But if you’re saying, “No, I’m standing right in front of the temple doors,” how are you going to walk to the temple? So that’s the whole problem. Everyone’s talking about, “Oh, we’re Vaiṣṇavas, we’re so spiritual, we’re so this, we’re so that.” Prahlāda Mahārāja and all our previous ācāryas are speaking like that, right, “We’re Vaiṣṇavas, we’re so elevated,” right? All our ācāryas talk like that? Or they say, “I’m the dog, sitting outside the house, trying to protect the house of my master”? They never say, “I’m fabulous.”

That’s the point: if we’re going to use the excuse, “Oh, we’re lower than śūdras,” then acknowledge your position so you can progress, don’t try to say it’s non-different from the brahminical position. Then how do you get anything done?

It’s just like, let’s say you have a business and we have people working for business. Now since all the working people are doing the work, now they decide, “Oh, we will work the way we like, we won’t listen to the businessman.” Will they make money? No. So, that’s modern culture. They don’t like authority, they don’t like tradition, and how successful is it? In other words, those who are successful, they follow tradition. They follow the tradition.

Simple for the simple

Nagarī Mātājī: As much as I understand, varāśrama is simple living and high thinking.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: But what does simple mean? It doesn’t mean a farmer who is overall covered with cow dung. Simple means not complicated, does that make sense?

Nagarī Mātājī: Yes, it is also connected with farms and agricultural communities.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Yes, this is another point. Now, Kṛṣṇa in Dvārakā, how many times in the Bhāgavatam they talk about farming in Dvārakā? Cows? Growing carrots? Or maybe beets? Otherwise how do you make borsch? Right? So, what are they talking about? They lived in the city, Yudhiṣṭhira Mahārāja lived in the city. Were they not following varāśrama?

Nagarī Mātājī: Yes, they followed.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Sudāmā Brāhmaṇa, he did farming. Does that mean he didn’t follow varāśrama? Kholāvecā Śrīdhara, ok, he is a śūdra, you know. So we take it that only if you have cows and land it’s varāśrama. No, that’s the vaiśya aspect of varāśrama.

Manu says that when the dharma-śāstra was created, it emanates from the Lord, then brāhmaas were created to protect it. When the people were created, katriyas were made to protect people. When cows were made, vaiśyas were made to protect the cows.

In other words, farming is for vaiśyas, it’s not for brāhmaas and katriyas, so this idea that unless everyone is farming we can’t make varāśrama is a total lack of understanding, you may understand one aspect, but the point is that varāśrama includes the cities.  In the Purāas all these people are following varāśrama. How many of them have lived in the cities?

Nagarī Mātājī: Again, but those were different cities, now we have modern cities.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: But the point is it’s still a city. Still a city. This whole idea is that varāśrama is how you identify. If you’re a doctor working in the city or a doctor working in the country, does that mean if you’re doctor at the farm you’re brāhmaa and the city doctor is not? You understand?

It’s the same whether you’re living in a farm or a city, of course; less people live in the city than in the farm who can define how according to the seasons you plant particular seeds at particular time and water it, you take the weeds out, you protect it—do we need to discuss it more? As soon as we’ve established it, no need to bring it up again. You know, because the complicated thing is the business: how do you buy something cheap and sell it? Did I leave something out? The whole art is how to get stuff that people want to buy for the price bigger than you bought it. That’s the whole art.

That means, why do you see Purāas that mostly talk about brāhmaas and katriyas, because that’s where all the technical stuff is, that’s where all the knowledge and techniques go; vaiśyas and śūdras, that’s easy. Does that make sense?

So, since, you can say 99% of our devotees, if not more, live in the cities, wouldn’t it be advisable to show them how varāśrama works in the cities, rather than saying that everyone has to move out in the farm? Go ahead, tell me how many farms have farmers on them. And how many are there. One, two, maximum three? And come back in five years, how many will be there? Who’s on the farm? 90% of the farm people are city people, who are living on the farm not as a farmer, but as a suburb. Right?

The city is big and nasty and you make nice houses outside the city, but where do they work? In the city. So they are part of the city, but they live in suburbs. Everyone loves suburbs, trees, fresh air, space, so most devotees live in the farm because of trees, fresh air, you know, fresh lettuce and beets.

Nagarī Mātājī: I may be mistaken, but the purpose of these farms is for creating a community, because in the city even if the person has a brahminical occupation, one may not have an opportunity for a nice spiritual practice, as the cities suck out all the energy.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: But what happened to all of our, “We’re devotees! We’re superior! We’re above all this!” You can use this argument only for your own purpose, when you like it. “Oh, we’re above, we’re so elevated and superior,” and next moment, “Oh, we’re so weak, nothing we can do!” You can’t do that, that’s cheating. If you can’t follow it at the city, if the city people can’t follow it at the city, the city people can’t follow it if they move out to the farm.

The point is if you don’t value varāśrama, you will not value farm life. That’s all.

Because farming is a part of varāśrama. Means you accept the laws of nature, a real farmer accepts the laws of nature, you know at this season I plant, at this season I harvest, this is what I can plant on this soil, this is what I can plant on this soil, this weather, that weather. The point is that city people aren’t in touch with their natures, so varāśrama becomes a problem for them because they don’t accept the laws of nature.

They think they’re independent: “Whatever problems I have can solve it. God created an imperfect universe but we as humans are so intelligent we can improve it.” And that’s atheism again.

Where is our standing at the establishment of varṇāśrama?

Nagarī Mātājī: And from the time of existence of ISKCON, how did we progress in the establishment of these remaining 50% of varāśrama?

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Certain individuals are doing very nice service, but some have got it backwards and have no clear definition on these things. Those who value these instructions of Śrīla Prabhupāda are trying apply them and up to certain level they achieve results and success in their preaching, so it’s just a matter of you keeping at it, trying to do it, adding more and trying to please Śrīla Prabhupāda and Kṛṣṇa will arrange for it to happen.

In other words, the argument against religion, who argues against religion accept for atheistic? We’re not saying devotees are atheists, we’re saying the position they take may be atheistic, and because they do not study philosophy they don’t know that. In other words, modern society in the news, right, whatever is the latest trend in the news devotees take that as authority, as the truth. That’s what journalism is for. Seeking the truth. And so they take that as truth.

Truth means Kṛṣṇa. Sat is existence, truth. Tat, this is knowledge, how it’s applied. But what is tat and sat for? O. O tat sat. It means Kṛṣṇa, His internal potency, the living entities, His creation, His pastimes—that’s what it’s for. In other words, the Lord’s pastimes—that’s what existence, knowledge, application is for, to achieve results to please the Lord. And when we engage in this activity to please ourselves, then what’s the advantage? What’s the difference between us and the karmis? There is a difference, we’re devotees, we’re accepting the position of Supreme Lord, but is pure devotional service our goal or is it getting material facilities, because we’re being practical, and it’s Kali-yuga, and we’re less than śūdras, but where does all that add up to? Put all these things on the list, draw the line and sum it up, what do you get?

“I do whatever I want for myself and whatever I like I will do in connection with Kṛṣṇa.” You know, I’ll show up for Janmāṣṭamī, will take darśana and prasāda.

Nagarī Mātājī: If you could mention some of the projects that are outstanding at the moment in regard to establishing varāśrama.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Say Chowpatty, they are doing nicely in the city and they have a farm outside. Śivarāma Mahārāja’s project, Govinda Mahārāja’s project at Kazakhstan, how you say, as CIS authorities will allow he is also very nicely developing. Nirañjana Mahārāja, you know, like that, here in Mayapur. So, means, individually.

Nagarī Mātājī: Can you say that that’s enough or is it very little that’s been done? Is it actually taken seriously at the present day?

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Individuals, yes. In general, no.

Nagarī Mātājī: Why not?

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Because the emphasis is on management, facilities, and on pure devotion. Not on training and education. Prabhupāda said that our centers are places of education. How many look at it as education? It’s a managerial authority controlled by the ultimate managerial! Where is the concept of education? In Vedic the ultimate managerial authorities are brāhmaas, because they control the managers by seeing that they are following the standards given by śāstras, they don’t manage the katriyas; they see that they’re following the standards.

But we have this concept that if I’m the managerial authority then center of everything, so I’m micromanaging everything. And where is that in the Vedic culture? When did Prabhupāda ever do that? So that means right there, that’s your problem.

So that’s why it says “individuals.” They understand, they are interested, they understood how it works. They don’t follow this ultimate managerial authority. Prabhupāda used this term, that means brāhmaa, not managers.

It’s not that these brāhmaas don’t know management, don’t preach in their own language and region. Prabhupāda also said that GBCs and sannyāsīs have the same occupation: they are preachers, they’re all understanding the preaching and so therefore it’s the preachers who should control and see so that temple presidents are managing according to the standards of progressive Kṛṣṇa consciousness. But if we turn GBCs into managers then who is controlling them? Where are the brāhmaas controlling the GBC? So either the GBC are brāhmaas and they control the project managers, you know, to see that they’re following the standards of pure devotional service, chanting, Vaiṣṇava etiquette, cleanliness, Deity Worship. Or if they are the ones who are in control of everything, they’re the managers and this have turned the temple presidents into śūdras, who are simply running to assist, then where are the brāhmaas controlling the GBCs? It’s very simple, it’s very straightforward.

If you don’t understand that one point, you cannot understand varāśrama. It’s that simple. If you don’t understand brāhmaas, how can you understand katriya, vaiśya, śūdra?

Women in varṇāśrama

Nagarī Mātājī: The next question is about strī-dharma. As I understand ladies have a special place? Or should we say a separate role in varāśrama?

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Either way. Ladies means special, so specialness.

Nagarī Mātājī: It’s just that in our country, this may be also a negative aspect, but oftentimes ladies claim that, “Man or women—doesn’t matter. We are all souls.”

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: We are all souls and who is wearing the Gucci shoes? Are the men walking around in Gucci?

Nagarī Mātājī: Yes…

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Ok, let’s say… triban? You know, the old-old car in Russia?

Nagarī Mātājī: I guess Volga.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Volga? Ok. Now much of the time if there were no women men would be driving Volgas. They still work. You don’t impress a woman with Volga. You take the Mercedes, that BMW, Audi, Porsche. Right? Then, all this stuff that “Oh, we’re the souls!”—nice! But who’s following it? And the ones who say it are the last ones who are following it.

Nagarī Mātājī: As I understood this comes from the misunderstanding of the purpose and goal of varāśrama.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: As we mentioned before what is sat, what is the nature. Ok, the whole point is that, for the feminine nature, is possessiveness. The masculine nature is independence. The feminine nature, being dependent, means she has to possess, control the environment. The man doesn’t think so much, “My house.” The women thinks, “My house.”

So the point is that possessiveness is there dealing with ghastha-āśrama. You’re supposed to reduce the possessiveness in brahmacarya, vānaprastha and sannyāsa. Right? And in varas where is the question of possessiveness? It’s the duty you have to do which makes money. As soon as the women do it, they bring their possessiveness and now, “It’s Mine!” and it all starts.

Nagarī Mātājī: Yes! [laughing]

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: When the women say, “Oh, the men are this, the men are that, they control women,” but women controlling women are way worse than men ever controlling women. Men are not as clever in control as the ladies. Right? Let’s take a big family—in reality, does the grandfather control the whole thing or the grandmother? So, the grandfather controls the rest of the ladies in the house or the grandmother?

Nagarī Mātājī: Grandmother!

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Yes, so where is this thing that “we’re all the same, we’re all souls” nonsense? There is the point that, yes, as far as being able to hear, chant, remember about Kṛṣṇa there is no difference. But as far as what the duties are, why is there a non-difference, since the needs and desires are different?

Nagarī Mātājī: In this case how important it is to follow strī-dharma for a Vaiṣṇavī? Often it’s also misunderstood, difficult to accept the position of the women, her dependence.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: But she is dependent. The point is that it’s not a matter of, it’s just that the fire is hot, it gives light. The dogs bark, the bats fly. How you say, cats chase mice. So what’s hard to understand? It’s again attachment, therefore. Does the babushka [old lady] have problems understanding this? Zero. But who is in control? Babushka. In other words, you control through service, but nowadays I want to control without service. That’s the meaning of lower than śūdra.

Nagarī Mātājī: Oh… interesting.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: So that’s the whole “I’m in control and I don’t have to respect anybody.” It’s just like this, this may be an extreme example. Ok, you have a man and a woman. Ok? Now, if you want to have this family life to be successful who is the center of attention?

Nagarī Mātājī: Kṛṣṇa? [laughing]

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Oh, with this then we’re done, no need to discuss varāśrama, we’re all paramahasas.

Nagarī Mātājī: Oh, I’m sorry [laughing]

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: So Kṛṣṇa is the center, but how do you please Kṛṣṇa as the center? Men do men’s duties, women do women’s [duties] and offer that to Kṛṣṇa. In Vraja does Kṛṣṇa do His duties or ladies’ duties? Rādhārāṇī and the gopīs are doing men’s duties or ladies’ duties? So, therefore, who is the center?

Nagarī Mātājī: Um…

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: This is not a trick question.

Nagarī Mātājī: Women, turns out, I guess?

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Yes. That’s the problem, we “guess.” In cultures that work, in those families that work, everyone knows this. It’s about the woman who is the wife and mother. She is the center of attention. Therefore the men, even though he is the authority, who is it about? It’s about the women. When the kids are there it shifts, it’s about the kids according to the women. In other words, the man is the last one.

Now let’s say we have two women living together. So one’s going to take the masculine role and one is the feminine. Now of the two who is the center of attention?

Nagarī Mātājī: I guess the one who took the feminine role.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: No, masculine. She is still a woman. So it has to be about her and she is the boss. You understand? That’s why it’s said that these kind of transitions, otherwise it’s not balanced. In other words, one is submissive in service and the other one is the boss in all aspects, so it’s much more extreme, that’s why it says women are much, much more chauvinistic that men, in charge and control. Much more in control.

Men controlling is one thing, women controlling women is way heavier. If they have full authority it’s much heavier.

That’s what we’re talking about here is that men aren’t trained as men, they act like women. So here you have a woman who calls himself “the husband” and for the husband who is it about? Himself. Just like women with women. That’s why there’s trouble. So the point is that there’s so much emphasis put on women, their duties, but the thing is that if the woman is dependent and following the husband, that means if the men doesn’t do his duties, how does she do hers? You can’t follow someone who goes nowhere. Means, the man is progressive, woman can follow, but if the husband is not progressive, whom does the women follow? You understand?

In other words, the boy has not been trained—his mom takes care of everything, right? And even badly behaved, mom still loves him. Are the wives like that? But that’s what the men expect. They expect that their wife will be just like their mother with benefits. You understand, right? That’s all. Therefore, it’s hard for women to do their duties if the men don’t do theirs. The man serves the wife, so what does the wife do? He is considerate of her, she is considerate to him.

Therefore, all we talk about that women should do, the men have to do it first, because if wife is following the husband, he has to do it first. Does that make sense? In other words, if the men aren’t trained as brahmacārīs, we don’t get ghasthas. You get bachelors who somehow or other have a wife. And they deal with their wife as if she is their mother. But what they don’t catch is that their mother doesn’t deal like that with her husband. They don’t see that. They see only how the mother deals with them and think all women should do that. Meaning, the mother fulfils all your desires, so my wife would fulfil all my desires.

So what does that have to do with brahmacarya? Therefore, brahmacarya is the first. Prabhupāda said, “First class brahmacārī—first class ghastha.” So a third-class brahmacārī makes a third-class ghastha.

Nagarī Mātājī: It’s so important, the brahmacārī-āśrama.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Yes. But the problem is that how much does the community support brahmacarya training? Do they look at, “Oh, these brahmacārīs aren’t being honest, they are this and that, we are the honest ones, we’re ghasthas.” It’s all social prestige. No one knows what’s going on. Prabhupāda gave it all, we followed before, maybe it was a bit rough at times, but pure devotional service purifies and it becomes much better. But we throw it out instead of dealing with it from a more refined, sophisticated understanding.

Nagarī Mātājī: Ok…

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: So if you don’t have brahmacārī training you don’t have varāśrama. That’s why, “Oh, it’s so hard to understand”—because they are not brahmacārīs.

Confusions regarding āśrama

Nagarī Mātājī: Also we would like to discuss the problems which are often times spoken by devotees who hear about varāśrama.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Problems? They say there’s problems?

Nagarī Mātājī: Yes, basic problems.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Modern culture has no problems? So we’re going from this culture that is so perfect, wonderful, but materialistic, I understand, that when I want to accept the spiritual life, the lifestyle that comes spiritual is so full of problems, unable to be practiced! So we’re practicing this perfect modern lifestyle which has zero problems, it’s just so much more practical!

Nagarī Mātājī: Exactly! [laughing]

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Right?

Nagarī Mātājī: Yes, for example, vānaprastha is not at all popular at least in Russia, and also there are a lot of half-brahmacārīs, bachelors, who come to the temple but don’t want to accept responsibility for the family and single mātājīs who are not in ghasthaāśrama and this creates disturbance in society.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Ok, vānaprasthas. What vānaprastha means? How do they define vānaprasthas? What’s the idea?

Nagarī Mātājī: Vānaprastha means slowly retiring from household duties.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: What does that mean? Means they don’t vacuum the rug, don’t wash the dishes, don’t take out garbage? What does it mean?

Nagarī Mātājī: I think that more time is given for preaching.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Yes, means, vānaprastha means that more time is given for direct practices of devotional service and indirect service is only as much as necessary. So ghastha life means a lot of indirect activities, which is present because you want to expand the facilities and experience, vānaprastha means the husband and wife have lived together for 20-30 years, and now they understand what is actually required. You know, what works. And everything else they just drop. And so, therefore, as much as it’s needed to maintain, then that’s what they do; all the rest of the time is engaged at the service. A temple, or preaching, you know, their own study in their house, sadhana…

So what’s not practical in that? You have people who want to die, how you say… practicing Kāma-sūtra with their wife, then, yes, we can say, pfft, there’s not much we can do about it. And the worst part is they don’t even know Kāma-sūtra. So for all the talk about sense gratification, where is their sense gratification? You know what I’m saying? They have the prestigious position, eating nice food, having sex every night, where is their sense gratification? Where is it?

Nagarī Mātājī: Yes…

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: So it’s just like Prahlāda Mahārāja said, śruti-sukhā, it’s “heard of happiness.” Right, oh, he’s got the Mercedes. Where do you park it? You park it anywhere in Moscow? No, you come back the wheels might not be there, or the whole car is gone, or if you’re stuck in traffic you won’t get scratches on it? But if you’re driving your Volga you can drive anywhere, don’t care less about a scratch: if you drive into the wall, the wall breaks! Park anywhere, no one will touch it!

Nagarī Mātājī: [laughing] Yes!

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: So who is relaxed?

Nagarī Mātājī: And how about those half-brahmacārīs and single mātājīs?

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Half-brahmacārīs means they want sense gratification, but don’t want any responsibility, so in other words they are oversized eight-year-olds. That’s all. At least if they are coming, the best thing for them is to gather and rent an apartment which they can all share, right, so expenses are less, more time for them to do service in the temple. You know, like this, so they could be engaged as much as possible. Cause if they’re just out on their own, they will be in Maya, but if they’re together, they can do more service. It’s not ideal, but, by the purification of devotional service, they will come to the position where they can take up responsibility, and either they see “ok, I was a brahmacārī so many years and I will go on as a brahmacārī in a more nicer way,” or they purify and see the importance of duties and responsibilities and get married.

But the only solution is devotional service. Just like vānaprastha, only through pure devotional service you can come to the understanding what is important. Otherwise all these extras aren’t necessary.

And if you speak of single ladies—that’s a problem. You can say that is the problem. Because, generally speaking, the reason of the problem is not that they are happily engaged in the activities of direct devotional service—they would like to be married. But who is there to marry? You’ve got the bachelors who are bozos, right? And brahmacārīs in the temple are too tough, you know—chunks of wood for breakfast, spitting on ladies, yes.

So what does that leave the girls? Because the point is girls are girls. The difference is whether they are trained girls or not. But boys if they aren’t trained they don’t become boys. And we all know what happens if two girls are left in one room—they fight. So if you put a so-called boy who acts like a girl and a girl who is a girl, there’s a fight, because the boy thinks he is more of a girl than the girl and she knows that she is the actual girl, and who is actually the authority. And since the girl has more of the authority than the boy, they’ll fight.

Nagarī Mātājī: I understand. What can be recommended to these single ladies, how can they follow varāśrama in their situation?

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Be chaste. Be chaste, be satisfied. Because that’s the basic thing. It’s like the basic training for the boy is sense control and sensitivity, consideration for the others, for the wife. So they can do that, if this is the position, this is what Kṛṣṇa gave them, that’s how it will go.

Nagarī Mātājī: Could you define what is chastity?

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Chastity is, whoever you’re connected to, that’s whom you serve and are faithful to. In other words, for girls, sense control isn’t the problem, the problem is where they want to apply the senses.

Gurukulas

Nagarī Mātājī: And how about education for boys and girls? Many devotees insist that children should get mundane education and they’re very afraid to give them into gurukulas, and to follow what Prabhupāda said, that girls are better trained at home. Parents are afraid for their future; they want to give them security.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: And those who are complaining, are they secure? Satisfied? They have a wonderful life? They think that their husband is the best thing since sliced bread? And so they’re all just perfect and happy? They are all engaged in their jobs that they have a degree for? Modern academic degree is what their occupation, and so much money they make, fully satisfied with their material facilities, you know, the relationships between the husband and wife is so great, because just naturally they know this, you know, just because they feel like it, they make perfect husbands, perfect parents, great friends, dynamic parts of the community? So where is the training for that?

Since everybody is basically scamming, somehow or another trying to maintain their life, and they’re untrained what life is, at least the children can be trained what is life. So that at least the children would be in the better position than them. If they have facility, what is the use of the facilities? How does it develop relationships?

Means, if you understand God’s laws, then any laws are easy to follow. If you don’t understand God’s laws, you won’t be successful anywhere.

How do we establish varṇāśrama

Nagarī Mātājī: You said that preaching of varāśrama is not as strong.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: It’s not about preaching varāśrama, we are not preachers of varāśrama. If we come back to the original question of who is the center of relationship between husband and wife, you said Kṛṣṇa. So we preach about Kṛṣṇa, we preach pure devotional service. Varāśrama is simply the lifestyle we follow. That’s all.

If it’s accepted as it is, then figuring it out and applying it is not difficult. You need practice for anything! Not that you decide, “I want to learn how to cook,” [and then] the first time you walk into the kitchen you finish cooking and the demigods are showering flowers, TV channels are calling you up and want to invite you to their shows, Oprah is calling you for her show, you’re the winner of Russia’s Got Talent. No, usually the first time you walk into the kitchen it’s a disaster. You burn your fingers, cut your thumb, burn your skin with hot water, then cold—forget to reduce the flame, so it’s half-burned and half-uncooked. So, then? Now we say, “Oh, this is impossible! It’s not practical! I didn’t grow up doing this! My mom always used microwave dinner, so why do I, as a proud westerner—not exactly western, actually—but why do I need to learn this? We’re devotees, we’re beyond this, we are transcendentalists! Same time, we are less than śūdras. So we don’t have to follow all this!

Nagarī Mātājī: Exactly. [laughing]

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: No, you go in there again and learn from your mistakes and move forward. If right today everyone accepted varāśrama, we still need years of practice to figure it out how to apply it. But instead of fifty years arguing against varāśrama and going nowhere, why not try to practice and get somewhere?

Imagine where the society would be if for fifty years we would try to practice varāśrama. One thing is if you want to apply it, as I said, you have to be able to acknowledge and accept that varāśrama practiced in the city is bona fide. So if that isn’t accepted, then no propounder of varāśrama will ever be successful. You understand? Otherwise our strongest propounders of varāśrama have farms with one person on them, two people on them. Why? Because they want to start it there. Having a farm is perfect! Great! But, where are the devotees? In the cities—they need to be explained how to practice varāśrama in the cities.

Because we have to remember that varāśrama is the body of laws, it’s not an economic system. It includes the economic system: it’s a perfect system. But unless you have the laws, you don’t have varāśrama.

In other words, if you have brāhmaas, you can establish varāśrama. Prabhupāda mentioned it: if you’ve got brāhmaas, then you can get katriyas. Katriyas will create the environment for the vaiśyas and śūdras.

In other words, vaiśyas and śūdras don’t create their own environment; this is called modern culture, it’s not regulated, not steady. Vaiśyas control hospitals, control the law, control education and simply make money out of it. They shouldn’t do this. Now that’s the problem.

So the point is they [katriyas] will create [the environment], but they will have to be controlled, so that what they do is religious. Right? So we need brāhmaas. Brāhmaas establish it, that creates katriyas, trained katriyas arrange everything else, they know how to do it.

Nagarī Mātājī: This is very important in that way, education, because…

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Yes, but it’s always starting with if you don’t grow carrots you don’t have varāśrama. Those who say that, they will always be unsuccessful, guaranteed.

Nagarī Mātājī: Last question: Indian culture and Vedic culture at the present day—what is their similarity and what is the difference?

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Prabhupāda gave the example of a live elephant or a dead elephant, both are worthy of the same price. Because as a living elephant so much work they can do and as a dead elephant their bones have ivory, so in other words what you see in Indian culture is the remnants of Vedic practice. It’s not just another culture of the world, as the modern academics try to present it, “Oh, there’s the Indian culture, there’s the American culture, there’s British culture, it’s just a culture, why do we need to follow Indian culture, it’s all material. And since we’re Americans we follow American culture, because nobody cares.” That’s nonsense. Because, no, it’s the leftover of reality, while American never was a reality. The only reality in America is European and that’s based on good Christians, that’s based on religion. So we will follow modern atheistic culture instead of following the religious one? You know, then how are we technically western?

Nagarī Mātājī: Thank you so much! It is such a big and deep topic, we can ask questions unlimitedly, so many things are misunderstood. Especially of course how to follow varāśrama in the city, requires comprehension.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: When they understand and appreciate they will give more support to farm projects. Now people don’t support the farm projects. Right know the city people don’t they only see it as a part of varāśrama. Because people don’t want to pay for varāśrama.

Nagarī Mātājī: Maybe I have an improper understanding, but I see varāśrama as a society which has brāhmaas, katriyas, vaiśyas and śūdras, but mixed in the big cities, mixed with karmis.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: It doesn’t matter. We associate between ourselves. Right? Who does the Russian devotee invite over for dinner? So it’s only an excuse, that I can do whatever I want—I’m going to invite people over for dinner, which is a formal occasion, but I’ll still wear shorts and t-shirt. Because we’re not controlled by the rules. The guy’s wife is very upset, but she can’t say anything, because he is a man. Whatever the man says. If the man says “Jump,” the wife should ask, “How high?” That’s varāśrama.

Nagarī Mātājī: [laughing]

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: So therefore… How is that called? That’s called Russia, that’s not called varāśrama. Russian men always think that it’s their right to get drunk and bother all the ladies around. That’s what makes them men. I can slap the women when I’m drunk, that makes me a man. Right? That’s the culture.

Because varāśrama says—this is the fun part. All the men will agree that women should be submissive and follow the husband. All, 100%, will agree to that. But when it comes to the duties of the men, then, “Oh, it’s Kali-yuga, we don’t care because we’re westerners! This that blah… And Ramananda Raya also said! And sarva-dharmān parityajya!” But if you talk about a lady, then that is shhhh!

And ghasthas, you know, it’s Kali-yuga, this and that, but if the brahmacārī or a sannyāsī does something wrong, then it’s all over the news, you know, it’s a nuclear holocaust when a brahmacārī or sannyāsī does anything wrong. You know, it’s strict according to Satya-yuga! But ghasthas, oh, it’s Kali-yuga, we’re this that—oh come on.

This is the problem that it’s all centered around themselves and has nothing to do with Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Otherwise if you’ll be so liberal, that ghasthas freely talk to women, then don’t get upset that the brahmacārīs freely talk to women. There is no law that ghastha can talk to all ladies, he can talk to his wife, but not the rest of them. We interpret it that ghastha can talk to anybody, right?

In other words, a man is sitting in the room alone with the women and talking, he’ll consider it’s my right, I’m a ghastha. But according to Manu that’s wrong. But only if the brahmacārī is sitting there alone, now we have a problem; this is an international issue, this should be all over the internet.

That’s the point, people simply accept what parts of varāśrama that fit into how they want to live their life and everything else we need to discuss, because, “Well, I don’t know…”

In other words, for the men it’s all, “Women have to be submissive and serve the husband, satisfy the husband no matter how bad and nasty he is”; mostly all men will accept that. And all the women accept, “We’re the soul, we’re not the body, we don’t have to follow anything.” So if we put together that man and that women—

Nagarī Mātājī: No…

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: What are we going to get?

Nagarī Mātājī: It’ll be something.

HH Bhaktividyā Pūra Mahārāja: Yes, so therefore it won’t work out. Because the point it, the granny controls everything, but she is nice.

Nagarī Mātājī:  Yes. Hare Kṛṣṇa.

Thank you so much, Mahārāja!

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