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

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.

Brihad Manu Siksha #4 Lecture Notes

Full lecture transcription [Link not active yet]

  • The glory of brahminical order.
  • The purest part of the body is the mouth.
  • Brahmanas are the best among men.
  • One who is learned is best. Of those who are learned, those who understand the necessity of the performance of duties. Of those who do duties, those who know Brahman are the best. Brahman here is referring to Vishnu. But in any case, even an impersonalist is higher than karma-kandi.
  • Bhagavatam is the essence of all the knowledge for the satisfaction of the paramahamsas.
  • All the scriptures are to serve the Lord, but people will forget that purpose.
  • Brahmanas are the most important because without the direction of the brahmanas and direction towards transcendence there is no human society.
  • The whole world belongs to brahmanas. But they themselves don’t demand much. Everything belongs to those who understand their relationship to the Lord.
  • Only brahmanas who are studying and practicing should teach Manu Samhita.
  • Vaishnavas are the best of those who follow brahminical culture.
  • Many devotees can do some Deity worship, but only one who has brahminical conditioned nature can be a full time pujari.
  • ‘Supreme bliss’ has different meanings for karmis, jnanis, yogis and devotees.
  • Brahmanas are the best because they follow the law, not whimsically.
  • Delineation of the 25 topics of Manu Samhita.

Discourse 2 Attachment is the basis of action

  • The Vedas should be basis of action; traditions by the sages; customs by holy men, and finally, personal satisfaction.
  • Self-love means desire to see one’s own elevation, and, ultimately, engagement in devotional service.
  • There is nothing that Manu declares that is not in the Veda, there is nothing in the Veda that is not in Manu.
  • We should study and then be ready to take up our own duty.
  • It’s not that by following Manu we will go back to Godhead, but Manu has given forms that we should engage in the Lord’s service.
  • Shruti and smrti can never be questioned, we should only question our understanding of them.
  • If we are not satisfied by applying the law, adjustments must be made in how we apply it.
  • Students of the sacred law should not be given to the acquisition of wealth or satisfaction of desires.
  • One who is both practicing and teaching is qualified to study these sacred texts.
  • For 1st generation devotees, initiation replaces garbhadana – we are born into tradition.
  • If we try to use Manu Samhita materially, it will always fail because we do not have that qualification. We should only use it devotionally.
  • For women the samskaras, except for marriage, are performed chanting mantras without svaras.

Brihad Manu Siksha #3 Lecture Notes
Full lecture transcription [link not active yet]

  • Bhrigu takes up the recitation..
  • The laws of Manu are composed by Vishnu Himself. Then they are given to Brahma, then to Manu.
  • Measurements of time:

1 nimisha 
18 nimishas = 1 kashta = 3.2 seconds

30 kashtas = 1 kala = 96 seconds

30 kalas = 1 muhurta = 2880 s = 48 minutes

30 muhurtas = 1 day and night

  • Sun divides days for exertion, nights for rest.
  • Dark fortnight is day for manes, bright fortnight – their night.
  • Year is day and night for demigods. Uttarayana is day, Dakshinayana – night.
  • Demigods get up in the month of Kartik.
  • Krta (Satya) yuga is 4,000 demigod years. 400+400 years is “twilight” between yugas.
  • Calculations given by Prabhupada include yuga-sandhis.

Treta 3,000 and 300+300
Dvapara 2,000 and 200+200

Kali 1,000 and 100+100

  • In yuga sandhis people like Duryodhana appear who have qualities of both ages.
  • These 12,000 years is one age of the demigods.
  • 1000 Mahayugas make one day of Lord Brahma.
  • One who knows these calculations, knows time.
  • The catalyst for modification of material elements is adding more false ego.
  • 71 periods of yugas is one period of Manu (Manvantara). There are 14 Manus in a day of Lord Brahma. Bet, between the rules of Manus there are also sandhis.
  • Everybody takes creation and dissolution so seriously, but the Lord is just having a good time.
  • In the Krta age people do not get any benefit from unlawful act. Everybody is doing what they should be doing.
  • In Treta yuga people start getting livelihood by wrong means.
  • In Kali yuga one progresses by ‘liberality alone’ – in means, by charity, and the highest charity is spreading the Sankirtana movement.
  • To get rid of sin, in Krta yuga one has to abandon the country where sinner lives, in Treta – the village, in Dvapara – the family, in Kali – the sinner himself.
  • When Lord Krishna appears, Treta and Dvapara yugas change their places, and so do the yuga-dharma.
  • In Kali yuga one is not degraded by others, but only by what one does oneself.
  • Curses have effect in a year in Kali yuga.
  • Best gift is to seek out the person and to give a gift.
  • If one acts in a way one should be acting, one can actually live in a higher age. But negative effects one only gets of one’s own age.
  • Rules are not necessarily different in Kali-yuga, but since people’s mentality is different, there is ways to apply them.
  • In Kali-yuga men are conquered by women and agnihotra sacrifices cease to exist.
  • The duties were created according to the nature of the people.
  • Brahmanas, kshatriyas and vaishyas all study, perform their own sacrifices and give in charity.
  • Only brahmanas accept charity, teach and do sacrifices for others – that is their maintenance. They may also accept other means of maintenance.
  • For brahmanas their occupation is their ashrama duties.
  • Sacrifice must never be means to make money for the temple. One who does yajna for money (not in a brahminical mood) does not last. Usual term is 6 moths.
  • When a kshatriya teaches, it’s always a fight. If student does not understand, it’s like ‘Are you stupid or what?!” Vaishyas run it as business, and it’s a big money. Education should be available to whoever is qualified, not only ones who have money.
  • After yajna brahmana becomes enemy – the person doing yajna could not care less about them after the yajna is over.
  • Kshatriya should work on abstaining from sensual pleasures.
  • Shudra should serve others without resentment. The highest virtue for a shudra is to serve Brahmanas.
  • Every devotee is a brahmana by duties, but not by occupation.
  • Shudra does not commit wrong by selling things he can collect – honey, milk, curd, whey etc.
  • If shudra eats prohibited food he does not lose his caste, but that does not mean he does not get a reaction.
  • By drinking the milk of Kapila, or Surabhi cow one will life 10,000 years and that would not be good for a shudra, because they will just party.