Category Archives: Varnashrama

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. Continue reading Varṇāśrama Interview with HH Bhaktividyā Pūrṇa Mahārāja

SB 6.3 Yamaraja Instructs His Messengers

6th May 2016 Lecture 3
  • Yamaraja is death personified, and he does not get stopped by anyone.
  • The chanting of the Holy Name is not restricted.
  • No rule given in the Vedas ever get in the way of devotional service. They only get in the way if we think they have the same value as bhakti – we trip over our own low consciousness.

Continue reading SB 6.3 Yamaraja Instructs His Messengers


23rd January 2015, Bhaktivedanta Academy, Sri Mayapur Dhama

Reading from Srimad Bhagavatam Study Guide: 23. The Supreme Lord continued: “The Emperor Svāyambhuva Manu, the son of Lord Brahmā, who is well known for his righteous acts, has his seat in Brahmāvarta and rules over the earth with its seven oceans. The day after tomorrow, O brāhmaṇa, that celebrated emperor, who is expert in religious activities, will come here with his queen, Śatarūpā, wishing to see you. He has a grown-up daughter whose eyes are black. She is ready for marriage, and she has good character and all good qualities. She is also searching for a good husband. My dear sir, her parents will come to see you, who are exactly suitable for her, just to deliver their daughter as your wife.” Continue reading SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM CANTO 3 #55


16th January 2015, Bhaktivedanata Academy, Sri Mayapur Dhama

Reading from Srimad Bhagavatam Study guide: “Devotional service to His lotus feet is the root cause of all perfections a person can find in heaven, in liberation and in the subterranean regions and on earth (SB 10.81.19). It is further explained by Srila Prabhupada in his purport:

“In spite of his condemning persons who approach the Lord for material advantages, Kardama Muni expressed his material inability and desire before the Lord by saying, “Although I know that nothing material should be asked from You, I nevertheless desire to marry a girl of like disposition.” Continue reading SRIMAD BHAGAVATAM CANTO 3 #53


  • King should rise early in the morning and honor brahmanas. Kings have to learn from those brahmanas who know how to apply Vedic principles in administration. From other brahmanas he may learn about spiritual life etc.
  • One who worships more experienced men is honored even by rakshasas.
  • The duties of vaishyas and shudras depend on skills, not on character. But for brahmanas and kshatriyas their ashrama is more prominent to enable them to execute their duties.
  • King should be modest. He may show off in front of his army, but in general should be humble.
  • Ashrama, personal character, should always be developing, so the king is always learning.
  • Kings have to learn Vedanta, logic and the science of governing from brahmanas, in the academy. From people he learns various trades and professions – for that one does not have to go the academy.
  • Study and contemplation is always constant. In the Vedic time ‘thinking out of the box’ is just called contemplation.
  • Devotees have problem with the ritualistic side of the Vedic culture, but ritualistic side is actually only for those who do not understand what the culture is for.
  • Vedic education. Any Gurukula teaches the character training and the 14 books of Vedic knowledge. After that, there may be specialization in some field, and study of arts.
  • Day and night a kshatriya must strenuously exert himself to control his senses. If one is not obedient, one cannot keep the subjects obedient.
  • A man who does not control his senses is not very attractive to women, so he does not actually get any sense gratification. One who does not control senses always wants to exploit others, so women don’t want to be with such a man.
  • Kshatriyas have the most facility and thus they have to have the greatest control.
  • There are 18 kinds of vices one has to avoid, they are arising from desire for pleasure and from anger.
  • Hunting, gambling, sleeping during day, sensuousness, critical attitude, excess with women, drinking, inordinate love for dancing, singing and music, useless travel – 10 vices springing from love of pleasure.
  • Tale-bearing, violence, treachery, envy, slandering, unjust seizure of property, insulting others and assault – 8 vices springing from anger.
  • Greediness is the root of all the vices.
  • Drinking, dice, women and hunting (the 4 regulative principles) are the most harmful from those vices coming from love of pleasure.
  • Eating meat through sacrifice is not a joke, there are complicated rules and rituals involved.
  • All animals killed by Pandavas or Lord Ramacandra were liberated.
  • Eating forbidden foodstuff and taking intoxication are on the same level.
  • Bodily injury, criticizing others and seizing their property are the 3 worst of the vices born of anger.
  • Meat eating means that one’s senses are so much out of control th one dos not mind killing others. For meat-eater cultures the concept of prescribed duties therefore is so foreign.
  • Intoxication and gambling are considered worse than meat eating and illicit sex, because they completely disable the person from doing one’s prescribed duties.
  • Polish kingdom was once the biggest in Europe, but they lost everything due to drinking.
  • Vice is worse than death. 
  • Nowadays government derives huge income from taxes on sinful activities – intoxication, gambling.
  • The king should appoint 7 or 8 ministers, max 9 (on the top level), otherwise it is difficult to have uniform government. But on lower level there may be as many committees as necessary.
  • Bureaucrats are there on the lower levels, but they can never replace leadership.
  • The king should daily discuss the businesses of the kingdom with his ministers. First king should discuss some matter with each minister separately, then he should call a meeting of all of them together.
  • Generally ministers are brahmanas, but sometimes there are exceptions, like Vidura.
  • Ministers should generally be skilled in weapons, so that they may not be so easily killed.
  • The most important matters should be discussed with prime minister.
  • Brave, skillful and highborn people are employed in dealing outside the palace, the timid – within the palace.
  • The ambassador should know all the sciences.
  • There are certain gestures people make when they think certain things and skilled people can read it. In politics people have to learn to control that, so as not to disclose one’s intentions.


  • Only because of punishment things function on the social platform. If there is no reaction, everyone would do whatever they wanted.
  • Generally, it is talked about education, encouragement etc, but actually punishment keeps things in line. If only encouragement is required, that is used. One who can be encouraged generally has some knowledge and qualities.
  • If things are not going to improve by discussion, there is punishment.
  • Liberal society trains people to think punishment is bad, but how do they deal with people who are not liberal?
  • Actually the confusion is when punishment is necessary; sometimes it is good, sometimes – bad.
  • Nowadays artists write all kinds of destructive lyrics, but government does not forbid it, ‘they should be allowed to express,’ but in that case selling cocaine to kids is also fine.
  • Encouragement is there when there is something to work with.
  • Nowadays absurd cases come up where criminals are protected and innocent people punished. Everything is based on sentiment.
  • Justice has to be applied by qualified people.
  • This section of Manu Samhita proves the absurdity of liberals and brings out the weaknesses of conservatives.
  • There must be standards and people must follow them.
  • Punishment means there is going to be reaction that we do not want.
  • Punishment may not be necessary if people are very well trained, but then one has to invest in the training.
  • Nowadays people only discuss their rights; Vedic system means that people focus on their obligations, so everyone’s rights are fulfilled
  • Obligation means that we have to perform some activity. Right means that we just sit and do nothing, and somebody else has to do something.
  • Properly inflicted punishment makes all people happy.
  • It is much easier to manage trained people.
  • There is no punishment in the spiritual world because everybody is a servant of God and does everything properly.
  • We are under the false impression that material world can be made nice and ideal.
  • Punishment is simply there, so that people do what is proper because when they properly perform their duties, everybody benefits.
  • We want to be so liberal and deny the importance of punishment, but what if demigods like Surya, Vayu etc gave up their duties that they also perform out of fear of punishment?
  • Taxes and punishment are not a problem, it is only a matter of the qualification of the governors.
  • In the Vedic system one can choose a specific set of duties (e.g. to get married or to renounce), but once the choice is made, one has to follow that set of duties.
  • Qualities of king who can administer punishment: truthful; acts after due consideration; wise; knows value of dharma, artha and kama; endowed with great energy; munificent; grateful; dedicated to the service of aged; humble; virtuous; born in a good family; pure; active; well-read in dharma-shastras; devoid of fault-finding; large-minded; free of vices like gambling; capable of hiding one’s shortcomings (otherwise, enemy can conquer the king on the basis of his weakness); well-versed in logic, politics, economics and the three Vedas.
  • To simply see weakness – that the leader has to be able to do, but to emphasize weakness is faultfinding.
  • King’s authorities know his weaknesses, but he is not supposed to show them to others. King’s authorities are also capable of keeping secrets.
  • King who is voluptuous, deceitful and partial is destroyed by the punishment he inflicts. Indian kings have a successful rule and then retire; in other places we see them destroyed.
  • ‘Absolute power corrupts absolutely’ is itself an absolute statement, and those who make it are themselves corrupt.
  • Punishment is not possible to administer by men with unimproved character – then it destroys all.
  • Chapters about king’s duties are really freaky for those who do not have knowledge and character.
  • There is no such thing as not having leadership and authority, it’s a question of their qualities. At the same time, the character of the followers is equally important to run a successful social system.
  • One who is not self-realized, or on the path of self-realization (unimproved mind) is not qualified to be a leader.
  • King is behaving without duplicity towards his friends (means, he has friends). He should act with justice in his domain, chastise enemy with vigour, and be lenient towards brahmanas.
  • Kings protects people through his actions.
  • The basic principles of running government are applied in various circumstances, but a king deals with the full government.
  • To actually be in charge is a big job – it means to practically personally get things done. One has character, one has energy, one has ability to deal constantly with various problematic situations. Even the Lord Himself personally comes to establish dharma. If one is not able to do this, one should not be a leader.
  • Actual management meetings should not be long, 10-20 minutes, because real managers want to do something practically.
  • Those who cannot deal with people should manage things.

Brihad Manu Siksha #10 Lecture Notes

Full lecture transcription [link not active yet] 

  • One who is not up to a particular standard and properly initiation, should not pronounce the Vedic mantras.
  • We should be wearing whatever is the prescribed dress of our sampradaya.


  • Maximum rules on purity is described in the section dealing with grihasthas. Everyone is dealing with purity, but rules are given in those places where it is the most relevant.
  • Brahmachari should abstain from anything that has gone sour that is not naturally sour. Excess sourness thins the semen, so it tends to go down. Semen is present in the whole body.
  • Payment for Mayapur Gurukula Education is only meant for things that students themselves use. Teachers use nothing of the money given by the parents, otherwise the teachers would be under the parents as if hired.
  • Only brahmanas are supposed to run schools, not vaishyas or kshatriyas.
  • Fines collected from people who have committed mortal sins are not used for any day-to-day purposes. They are either given to extremely qualified brahmanas, or put into water.
  • Articles meant yajna should never be placed directly on the ground.
  • Students who eat only begged food get the same benefit as always fasting.
  • Rules for respecting teacher.
  • Teacher’s name should never be pronounced without a honorary title.
  • One should never hear the censuring of the teacher, even if just.
  • If we lower our respect for guru, we will drop it for everybody else also.
  • In the 1970s devotees would deal with 2nd initiated devotees like nowadays with the most senior men. The respect for guru was great, so it was great for everybody else also.
  • Parents are not the best to properly train the children, especially in lifestyle, due to their sense of possession. Child is already part of their scene.
  • Parents add things that the teachers cannot give, but teachers are indispensable in the child’s life.
  • In the Vedic culture both parents and teachers are there. The child can choose to be more affectionate to the parents, or to the teachers, and nobody gets upset.
  • Gurukula has lost many students because the parents could not handle the children becoming more affectionate to the teachers than to them.
  • The child will be able to be raised by the whole village if they have that respect for everyone.

Brihad Manu Siksha #8 Lecture Notes

Full lecture transcription [Link not active yet]

  • Savitri = Gayatri
  • Rules for chanting Gayatri
  • During sandhyas mind is more easily controlled, or it becomes more disturbed.
  • Facing east vs facing Srila Prabhupada
  • There are times when Vedas should not be studied, but this does not apply to repetition, recitation at yajnas etc.
  • Persons who may be instructed in the Vedas.
  • Brahmana should move around as if he does not know anything, unless there is proper situation and person to teach.
  • Person learning must at least have respect for knowledge.
  • Brahmana should rather die with his knowledge than impart it to unqualified people.
  • 28:30 Book distribution to people who don’t appreciate – Krishna consciousness must be presented honestly, not with cheating and simply to get people’s money.
  • Knowledge should not be secretly heard from someone who does not intend to impart it. From a tape it is ok if the person himself has put out the tape.
  • By respecting the guru one will anyway get the benefit of it, independent of the Guru’s higher or lower qualification.
  • Small amounts of money should be given only to those beggars who do not ask themselves, who do not pursue people.
  • When superiors enter, life airs move up, so we should stand up to receive and salute them.
  • Length of life, knowledge, fame and strength increase by respecting elders. Elder means by age or by knowledge of the Veda.
  • 42:10 One who does not know how to receive salutation should not be respected.
  • Different words are used to inquire about the health of different castes: welfare, freedom from sinful reactions, gain and safety and freedom from disease.
  • One initiated for sacrifices should not be addressed by name even though of younger age.
  • Wife of another man who is not a relative should always addressed respectfully, ‘Bhavati.’
  • Superior relatives like uncle should be addressed respectfully, even though they are younger by age.
  • 50:20 In ISKCON respects are expressed by ‘Prabhu’ and ‘Mataji’
  • 50:40 Matajis that want to be called ‘Prabhu’ are not returning respect in a proper way, so they may be ignored.
  • Eating little and having much energy for service – that is spiritual potency.
  • 10 yr old brahmana is as father to a 90 yr old kshatriya.
  • Among ordinary citizens those within 10 yrs of age difference are considered equal.
  • Wealth, family relations, age, performance of sacrifice and knowledge – these are the criteria of seniority, in increasing order. 
  • A shudra who is above 90 yrs of age is respected by everyone.
  • Everyone is respected by what they have, but there are gradations of respectability.
  • Of 2 people with the same knowledge, one who is more humble is higher.
  • Of a Western and Indian scholar of similar achievements, Indian is higher, because the science is more complex. Transcendental knowledge is still above that.
  • Even people who are more respectable will respect other people with respectable qualities.
  • The way is made for king, snataka, bridegroom, carrier of a burden, person above 90. Of them snataka and king are the most honored, and of them snataka.

Brihad Manu Siksha #6 Lecture Notes

Full lecture transcription [Link not active yet]

  • The rules of begging.
  • Brahmana starts begging with bhavati – first respect, then activity, then result.
  • Kshatriya first states the activity, then respect, then result.
  • Vaishya fist states the benefit, then activity, then respect.
  • Within upanayanam samskara first alms are given by mother, sister or aunt, so it turns out auspicious.
  • Prasada may be honored sitting in any direction.
  • While eating one should be focused on the prasada. No discussions distracting from the meal should be entertained.
  • Eating is not maya, maya is not seeing things in connection to Krishna.
  • Austerity on its own is not devotional service. Good things on their own are not devotional service. It becomes devotional service when we understand the connection to Krishna.
  • One should eat what one is happy about.
  • Food eaten in worshipful mood gives good health and nourishment, neglectfully – vice versa.
  • We should never eat with people who complain about what we are eating.
  • There is no healthy health food freaks.
  • The laws given in the Manu Samhita are not an option, they are laws. Some laws don’t apply to Vaishnavas as a lifestyle, ashrama. But in varna all the rules given apply.
  • We follow laws everywhere else, but we question God’s laws. If we are scared, we should not stay in this class.
  • People who are materially regulated are generally healthy because they unknowingly follow God’s laws.
  • Manu tells us not eat between meals.
  • One should not overeat oneself, but should try to feed others as much as possible.
  • Overeating is impediment to health, fame and way to heaven.
  • Brahmana sips water from the base of the wrist, root of the thumb. For demigod, pitri worship etc there are other places to sip from.
  • Acamana is a Vedic ritual that is used in Pancaratra.
  • Acamana should be performed facing East or North.
  • Water should be clean and cool.
  • Brahmana is purified when acamana water reaches his heart – that happens when one uses the right quantity and concentrates. That focus ensures the purity of the brahmana. Shudra is purified when water merely touches the lips.
  • Those who worship Vishnu always wear thread on the left shoulder to the right, and expose right arm and shoulder while wearing chaddar. For other worships it is vice versa.
  • Sacred items are placed in water after use. Burning or burying is the next option.
  • First 6 chapters of Manu Samhita are going in the order of samskaras.
  • Keshanta – clipping hair, confirming student’s vows. Brahmana is mature at the age of 16. One shows one’s own commitment and desire to study, as opposed to just what parents wanted. Brahmanas continue to study, while kshatriyas and vaishyas usually graduate at the age of 16.
  • Ceremonies for females are performed chanting mantras without svaras. For women, upanayana is replaced by marriage.
  • Women don’t have the ceremony of keshanta. For women the conviction to remain unmarried is not important, since girls are always focused in what they are doing.
  • Marriage is equal to initiation for women. Serving the husband is equal to service to the teacher. Household duties give the same benefit as performance of yajnas.
  • Vedic is equal because everyone gets the same benefit, even though the means may be different.
  • It’s not that men and women like exactly the same things in the same way.
  • 44:30 Women want to give a class. What result are they looking for?
  • To give class just because one is a woman is quite bodily conscious.
  • When men do something the formality is great. When women do something, they always involve some art. Therefore there are things that only men do, since women would not be satisfied with them anyway – there is no aspect of art there.

Topic 3 The ordinances of studentship

  • First teacher instructs the student in personal purification and conduct. Next is yajna, Deity worship and chanting of mantras. After that comes study.
  • While offering obeisances, hands are put on top of each other and crossed (as if touching the right foot of the teacher with right hand, left foot with the left hand.)
  • The brahmana teacher must always be enthusiastic to teach. If student doesn’t learn they repeat it.
  • Lesson should start with transcendental sound, otherwise knowledge will slip away, and end also, otherwise knowledge will fade.
  • We chant “Om” before Hare Krishna to catch people’s attention and to get everyone on the same note.
  • AUM represents the three Vedas, three worlds, three padas of Gayatri, the Lord, His internal potency and the living entities.
  • By chanting Gayatri one gets the benefit of reciting the whole Veda.
  • Gayatri is chanted morning and evening with all the accompanying rituals, but at noon simply purification and chanting takes place. Therefore sometimes it is misunderstood that Gayatri is chanted twice a day.
  • 60:30 Wrapping the thread around thumb while chanting Gayatri – it is meant for those who chant Gayatri as japa, many times, to help counting.
  • 63:00 Portals before internet.
  • Chanting of Gayatri is entrance into study of the Veda and into transcendence.
  • Brahma Gayatri removes the purusha-bhava. Therefore women traditionally would not chant it.
  • Prabhupada did not want to give Brahma-gayatri to women, but they went on strike, and Prabhupada decided that they had as much purusha-bhava as men, so it would help. But technically it is not a glory.
  • Don’t use dharma to establish adharma, use dharma to establish things the way they work.

Brihad Manu Siksha #5 Lecture Notes

Full lecture transcription [Link not active yet]

  • Sarasvata Brahmanas migrated from North West of India to various other parts. Rupa and Sanatana belonged to Sarasvata Brahmanas.
  • Our qualification to access the Vedic is through Pancaratra.
  • People coming from specific areas in India as delineated were actually exposed to proper Vedic culture, they studied and practiced, therefore they were qualified to understand Manu Samhita.


  • Conditioning means that we function on rituals. But we have the tendency to only accept those rituals that we are used to and reject others.
  • Vedic mantras should be chanted with proper svaras, otherwise they don’t work. Learning svaras take a very long time, and it does not cater to the needs of the artists.
  • Vedas are not studied by the artists, because there is no artistic expression there.
  • The story of Satyakama Javala
  • Jata karma is performed before the umbilical cord is cut for the male child. He is fed gold with honey and ghee.
  • There is scientific reason why umbilical cord is not cut immediately.
  • 10 to 12 days after birth on an auspicious day nama-karana ceremony is done.
  • Brahmana’s name should be auspicious. Kshatriya’s name should be connected to power.
  • Women’s names should be easy to pronounce, pleasing, not denote anything terrible, end with long vowels. Boys’ names may be more complicated.
  • Australians shorten devotees’ names to one syllable.
  • Name should be given according to the constellation of the Moon. It enhances auspiciousness for the child.
  • 4th month is nishkramana, 6th – anna-prashana.
  • There are total of 48 samskaras, but not all are followed in all communities.
  • Niskramanta is perfomed for stability and fixed residence. Anna-prashana – for good health.
  • All old traditions make sense, but we are not the caliber of the material that it is suggested to work with.
  • No 2nd generation mothers have had problems spending first 3 months just with their baby and not going out anywhere.
  • Former times kids were generally much more healthy than they are nowadays.
  • Staying in the mother’s house was the time for her to spend time with the daughter.
  • Cuda-karana ceremony is there to develop purity. It is performed during 1st year if skull bones are firm, or during 3rd year.
  • Education should begin 5 years after conception.
  • Astrological chart can be made according to the time of conception, or birth.
  • If child is conceived at an auspicious time, he will also be born in auspicious time.
  • Kshatriya may begin education in the 6th year, vaishya in the 8th.
  • The earlier one becomes education, the better qualities one develops.
  • Upanayanam should be received up to a certain age, otherwise one is considered an outcaste.
  • Deerskin embodies the light of the Sun.
  • Girdle of brahmana should be made of munja grass.
  • Soccer develops very low consciousness, since all consciousness go into legs.
  • Martial arts ensure the best physical development.
  • Following Ekadasi and Caturmasya have about 50 rules, but Lord Caitanya made it very simple. But still we complain about too many rituals.
  • In Bengal everyone wears 9 threads on upavita, representing the 9 qualities of the devotee. In other places brahmacharis wear 3 threads, while grihasthas wear 6.