On the Application of Varnashrama in Mayapur

Minutes from SPCM Masterplan Meeting, 21 March - unknown year


HH Bhaktividya Purna Swami, Hrdaya Caitanya Prabhu, Samba Prabhu, Sridhama Prabhu, Pancaratna Prabhu, Vraja Kumar Prabhu, Shyamasundar Jagannath Prabhu, Nandan Prabhu, Tara Prabhu, Doyal Gauranga Prabhu


How in core area Daivi-varnasrama can be implemented in a real and exemplary way? How the masterplan facilitates the ashramas and the varnas? Ashramas, how to facilitate brahmacaris, sannyasis, single women, elderly brahmanas? Varnas, how to facilitate their basic needs (housing, food etc), lifestyle and culture, livelihood, relationships with other members of the community, varnas and ashramas. Brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas, sudras. 

HH Bhaktividya Purna Swami: Definition of Daivi-varnasrama: everything is created and controlled by the Lord, that is the basis of Daivi-varnasrama. You have to control the 8.4 million species. To know that brahmanas are there. To create safety ksatriyas are there. To run you require money, therefore vaisyas. Shudras assist all the other four. That is defined by the Lord, you can’t change that.

Varnashrama is the principles on which the creation function, and forms that the creation works with. Usually the mistake is taken that one only sees the form. Therefore one can’t translate one form into another, not considering the principle. Most important is to obtain the principle. If administration can’t protect the people and people don’t feel secure, it is not administration. Manipulating the material energy - that is management.

Question: The next step, what are the principles that dictate the form? Some principles are broad. What are the best forms? The principle of brahmacarya, full time student vs management position? Apartment living conducive for grhastha life? How does city create strong vaishya community?

HH BVPS Maharaja: Protection. We owned the land of Gaurnagar before. As administrators we sold it. If that was city land, run by a government, the government would have put in the roads, water, electricity, sewage and sold the plots. You would have straight roads and everything would be organized, and people could do only certain amount of things. That’s government. What we did - that’s business.

What was the decision for making these houses in the grhastha area? To build them, to give them devotees doing full time service? Or do we sell them to whoever can buy them? The decision was to sell them to whoever can buy them. So there is hardly any facility for those who want to do full time service. That is not government. Since the 90s I have not seen administration. I have only seen business.

Generally, where that’s happening, there should be an administrator, it was a business decision. You get a bureaucrat who doesn’t know how to make money. So he only knows how to tax. Therefore if it doesn’t make money he is not supportive. Education doesn’t make a lot of money the way we do it. Vaishyas aren’t going to prosper because the taxes are too high.

Question: Prabhupada speaks about in grhastha area it should be joint families living together?

HH BVPS Maharaja: It’s a good idea. But to do that you need education. We can create buildings that can facilitate joint families. But we have to first value it. Values come from training that is practiced. Culture is application of the philosophy.

Question: Private property? Auroville has zero private property. There is something in-between, a regulated system where people have security of ownership, but without commercializing.

HH BVPS Maharaja: That is government regulation. In the city is just the core essential things. Outside the city that’s where farmland and cows are. There is a green belt, so that two cities can never bump into each other.

Question: Do what extent do we design for visitors and for residents?

HH BVPS Maharaja: Guesthouses should not be like hotels. You can design buildings, but unless use of the buildings is in line with Varnashrama principles, then you just got the building. It’s how to make money off the hospitality without being hospitable. So you get neither ashrama, nor a good hotel. Hospitality means they get a good experience and take that back with them, so, they come to the Dhama to experience how they can live in their homes. Rather, it’s just a pilgrimage and we make so much money off of them.

If you have 50,000 people living here, how many do you require for education, for administration, to do business, and how many assist them? Then you will see the proportion of what is residential and what is floating.

What is simple? The open drain at the Lotus building - that’s simple. Here they put underground - that’s complicated. Simple means it’s direct and closer to what’s natural. It doesn’t mean it’s not sophisticated. Marble floor is simple, it’s stone. To put a carpet from wall to wall - that’s complicated. We think simple means no opulence. But in the Vedic the opulence is designed for the mode of goodness. We say marble is very expensive, but from the Vedic perspective it’s very pure. It’s more pure the gold. So it’s simpler because a floor of gold would be quite expensive.

How much business do you need that makes money and at the same time the city makes its money? A 1000% markup should not be standard, as in our mini market. Government controls this.

What’s more important is central. Cottage industry doesn’t need to be in the center, they have to sell their stuff in the center, but they don’t have to be in the center. In the Vedic the temple is in the center, education and pujaris etc. Then administration, then vaishyas. Everything else in the periphery. The center is small and the periphery is big.

In Varnashrama everything is about prestige and domination. But in Daivi-varnashram that doesn’t matter. There are four varnas but there is only one culture, brahminical culture. By ashrama everyone is brahmana. How strictly they follow their ashrama - that is another thing. The varnas - that is social. But the ashrama - that is spiritual. So community is there. Everyone has their work, but at the end of the day everyone’s coming to the program and it has nothing to do what your varna is.

How to put together an apartment? You have general living area where guests come, dining areas, bathroom. Then you have part of the house you can move in the house, bedroom, kitchen, bathroom without being seen. One can easily design as such, it’s just a question of knowing it.

Question: What is self-sufficiency?

HH BVPS Maharaja: Two aspects. You generate it yourself, you have land, cows, industry, generate it from local things. Other aspect, it’s sustainable. You have business environment that is sustainable. Family environment, devotional environment is sustainable. Sustenance is not only economic. You have to include the other four. You have dharma, artha, kama, moksa, and bhakti, that they are sustainable. What you do here you have to look at it from the element of proper knowledge and protection. If you do that, money automatically will come.

Yudhisthira Maharaja building Indraprastha first built place and laid out. They invited brahmanas. They are already kshatriyas. Vaishyas automatically come because they see the opportunity. There is place and safe environment. If it’s safe, vaisyas will come and do business. No training, they can do business. Brahmanas and kshatriyas need training to function. It’s qualities that make them work. The others have skills.
If it’s sustainable and you create a business environment then people can actually make money. The vaishya has tons of money, that’s why he is working. 'If I can do this and get a million bucks, I will do it. If I am going to do it and make a million bucks and they are going to take it away from me because they think I only need one lakh to live' and we keep the rest, that’s not government. That’s thieves. If he gives charity, pays tax and his people a proper amount, what does it matter if he makes so much? We have to accommodate that there is going to be devotees that do business here that have tons of facilities and money. As long as they don’t bother anybody and their attitude is okay.

Economy will happen if you create a safe environment, it is fair. The Vedic is, you generate profit, you pay tax, if not tax, then you pay duty. If you are in an area that is not under your control and you come in their area, you pay duty. If you have set up thing here, you pay tax. Different for different things. Maximum in emergency is 25%. The general standard is 16.5% or 1/6.

The government has to control. During the festival the rates go through the roof. Why? People want to come during the festival to the holy place. Then making money from the holy place. What are the ten offences against the Holy Dhama? That the government has to control. People, when it comes to money, they go crazy. If the government doesn’t control it they will do something that is detrimental to their spiritual life.

Just like joint family system, it’s something that takes generations. It’s a value you want, but it takes generations. Do something that’s immediate, something that works now and has the flexibility to adjust with time.

Question: How to change present infrastructure into perfect Varnashrama system?

HH BVPS Maharaja: It’s done through education. By educating people know why they do things. People do wrong because they are not educated. Some people, by previous lifetimes they have the karma that they know what to do. But without training you won’t fit into the culture. A businessman knows how to do business. You don’t need to teach him business. But you have to teach him how to be cultured, so that in doing business he fits into the community and doesn’t bother anybody.
To be able to explain why it’s done in a particular fashion. You all stay here, but the people who make decisions don’t. Rule number one in developing a project: you have to work with people that live in the place. As resident of Mayapur you have to explain why this is what you want. They have to be convinced because they are from another reality.

Question: Hospitality in Mayapur is meant to uplift people. At the same time hospitality is business. Who are best people to engage in hospitality sector?

HH BVPS Maharaja: You have... There is an aspect of it... There is on one end some general type of taking care of anyone coming to Mayapur and showing around - that doesn’t cost much. You give them facility and people to take care. Then you have nice facilities, that, the charging for that can pay for these charity hospitality. Everybody coming to Mayapur is given an experience, they are not on their own. That involves a lot of people. That needs facility that’s generated from the end that makes the money.

Question: Giving facility to brahmanas, they don’t own it, but what facility is appropriate?

HH BVPS Maharaja: Brahmanas who have facility, then they can generate their own. Brahmanas who don’t, then you give them. That facility should be for those who do full time service.

Question: What other facilities for brahmanas?

HH BVPS Maharaja: Housing and maintenance. Not much, if they have full time service and a place to stay, and they have enough money to live what you would consider you average lifestyle, not opulent, not poor.

(Please Note: We have lost track of the source of this transcript. We do not possess the original audio recording. Some parts seem to be unclear or incomplete, but, unfortunately, we are not able to compare them to original.)

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