Varnashram and bhakti
There are two paths, varnashram and bhakti. Varnashram refers to the
social or spiritual divisions like brahmachari, grhastha, vanaprastha
and sannyasi, or brahmin, ksatriya, vaishya and sudra.
A human being may take birth within any of these groups. But we must
remember that in this age of Kali there is no pure caste. Nevertheless,
I am aware that those like the brahmins try hard to maintain the purity
of their caste, but generally the social classes are merged. Sometimes
according to one’s nature one is classified as belonging to a certain
caste. So Krishna says in the Gita that one should always perform his
duty, rather than that of another, and by that He clearly means the
duty of one’s ashram.. This is the cause of elevation, and ensures the
smooth functioning of society. Therefore in India it has been important
to maintain the purity of caste, but these days it is hardly successful.
According to varna, the spiritual head of society is the brahmin, while
the sannyasi is respected as the most spiritually advanced among the
four social groups, so it has been traditional to operate under the
guidance of these two. It is actually wise. Of course Ram and Krishna
themselves had their own gurus, so it is definitely a sacred tradition
worth observing. Now, in America this is becoming a popular
the style in India is to copy the worst of the West, so young people
tend to abandon this practice. One must be faithful to the tradition
and honor those who deserve to be honored.
There are codes of morality, sins and punishments listed in Manu’s law
books. These are vital to know, and putting them into practice helps to
keep social order. But is this varnashram system designed for the
Westerner ? The answer I believe is no, for they were not born with the
mentality to support it.. But it is known that Christ spent his lost
years in India and his tomb rests today in Kashmir. He has brought the
knowledge of God’s existence to the masses, and a sense of morality
which would lead to their elevation. So this is very good for the
western mind which have already gotten accustomed to this idea of
godliness. I don’t think though, that varnashram was meant for them.
This dharma you see, starts with the protection of women, for Krishna
warns that when women become corrupt, unwanted or undesirable progeny
is created, then chaos sets in. Thus women should be guarded in their
youth by the father who should give her to a suitable groom, maybe even
before she reaches womanhood. She must not remain without male
protection. I don’t believe that this idea will find favor in our
society, so just for starters, we could see that the application of
varnashram is impossible here and now. The Westerner is certainly born
outside of a structure that supports it.
So what is the saving grace for that person who is born outside of
varna ? The answer to this of course is bhakti or devotion to God. Now
there are different grades of bhakti. There is sadhana bhakti which
involves physical rituals done in a regulated way. The devotee wakes at
a certain hour, bathes, and commences his puja of the deity forms of
the Lord. Then there is prema bhakti which is a manifestation of prema
or love of God flowing within the bhakta, who becomes so absorbed in
that bliss, that he disregards his physical existence, He is not bound
by rituals or social expectations, and is constantly immersed in
spontaneous love of God.
One who reaches such a platform is indeed rare, and purifies everything
and everyone around him. Their actions are so out of the ordinary that
sometimes ignorant people might mistake them to be mad. These types
would dress in a loincloth and keep their matted. Actually they would
have no regard for their physical looks. But just by coming across
them, even a sinful person could be infused with this bhakti, they are
such powerful souls.
Even in our present time there exist such rare souls who lead an
existence unknown to the world. In areas of Vraja, and Bengal they
could be found. This type of saint resists any type of advertisement or
publicity, so in order to meet them one has to travel to India and
really beg for God’s mercy.
When this prema bhakti manifests in a jiva, one must question
,"Wherefrom does it come?" Well, bhakti you see, is nothing short
the Lord’s own pleasure potency. The Lord personally savors this prema
or sweet relationship of the jiva with him. So this bhakti, which does
not depend on birth, status or scholarship is a direct gift from the
Lord. But how does this bhakti reach to an ordinary jiva who not long
before seemed non different in behavior from one of us ? How was it
possible for him to achieve this divine state of ecstasy? The source of
this great treasure is none other than a great bhakta himself, for he
is the only channel through which the Lord pours down this mercy. Only
a bhakta can shower bhakti on an ordinary soul, so this is the secret,
my dear friends.
But how does one become fortunate to receive the association of such
souls ? By the accumulation of pious activity performed in past
previous lives and by the mercy of god. There are many factors
involved, but its not something that happens by chance. Remember that
Krishna says that out of millions of men, only one comes to me, and out
of those, hardly one knows me in truth.
We know that the soul which is eternal transmigrates through millions
of bodies. Some transcendentalists want to achieve the state of mukti
or liberation to escape this bothersome samsara, and there exists a
process where this could be accomplished. This soul receives relief,
but the situation is not permanent, however. He would experience ananda
or the bliss of merging with the supreme cosmic being, which is the
impersonal aspect of God.
Bhaktas however have the chance to experience what is called sanatan
dharma, or the real nature of the soul. This dharma is servitorship to
the supreme Lord, for according to Krishna we are his eternal
servants. The nature of sugar is sweetness, and the nature of
wetness. In the same manner the soul’s nature is service to Bhagawan.
So the bhakta gets the opportunity to enlist in Bhagawan’s service in
the planet where that specific form of Bhagawan is conducting his
leela. For instance Krishna bhaktas enter the the Goloka planet
Narayan bhaktas go to Vaikuntha etc. Those attracted to Ram may get a
chance to join Ram Leela. So the bhakta tastes the sweet rasa of these
affairs, and he develops a distaste for the anything pertaining to this
In this age, the main jagya or sacrifice recommended by Chaitanya is
the recitation of the Lord’s holy name following the following recipe,
"Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare. Hare Rama Hare
Rama, Rama Rama Hare Hare."
So the method is quite simple. But what are the rules and regulations
governing the mantra if it must work really effectively ? The
surprising answer is that there are none. Some bobbleheads will try to
put forth a strict set of rules and regulations with which to accompany
this chanting. They will say that one must give up flesh eating and
alcohol, to be pure enough to chant. To this I must firmly
disagree. Is it possible that one can chant and go on sinning ?
it impossible to escape from sin in this age of Kali. Sometimes one is
unconsciously killing other jivas. Just driving your car to go to work,
causes the death of so many small entities on the road, so who can
profess to actually be free from killing? Sometimes we have to kill
mosquitoes to avoid dengue, so it is impossible to be free from sin. So
Jains make sure to step carefully lest an ant be killed. Some cover
their noses so as not to inhale creatures in the air.
Sinfulness is a part of society these days. America is spreading its
fast food business in every vacant crevice. Now Mac Donald has opened
shop in Vraj. This tells us of our state of existence. The Indian
politicians cannot fight it. They must give in to those who are
stronger and wealthier. But these holy names have descended to save us.
These names are a
manifestation of the Lord. The name is not different from the named.
The only difference is that the name is more compassionate than the
named. But isn’t that amazing, you may ask ? Yes, but now see the
logic. The Lord will not enter a place or the heart of a person which
is filled with dirty things, The name will. It will sit on the tongue
of the most vile sinner. And what does it do there ? It cleans, shines,
and purifies that place until the Lord is pleased to take up residence.
The name will do all the dirty work, just like a sweeper cleaning dirt.
See how compassionate it is.
This is why I say that one simply has to recite these names without any
consideration for rules, for sins and anything else inauspicious will
fly away in no time. Bad planets will run from the radius of anyone who
carries the name with him, so one needs not worry about anything else,
once the holy names are present.
One does not have to join an institution, shave one’s head, abandon
relatives and friends. Where did these ideas come from? It was
Chaitanya who revealed that in this age the chanting of the Lord’s name
will be the prescribed jagya or sacrifice. Sin, which binds us in this
dark age runs far away from the devoted chanter. So the holy names are
not bound by rules and institutional laws. But when the Lord desires to
enter the heart, what next? Well the
Lord’s leela is revealed to the devotee. But this is a very advanced
stage, and one must be guided by a suitable guru at this point. This
guru would be a bhakta of course, and I must stress here that an
advanced bhakta does not operate within the confines of any
institution. He cannot be bound by anything like that. He humbly exists
independently, and depends only on the mercy of God.
So there are many paths and according to what one wants, Krishna makes
it available, for every soul has an entirely different current of karma
and desires. No two are alike. If one wants wealth, Laksmi devi will
provide it. If one wants protection, Narasimhadeva is to be worshiped
etc. So everyone can exist peacefully. This is all due to the mercy of
Krishna, for he is the source of all.
But those who want bhakti or bhajan, the process revealed by Chaitanya
is the recitation of harinam. These names are also magical and wish
fulfilling. Whatever wish the person has in mind will be automatically
fulfilled. The name is equal to Krishna and is compared to a desire
tree. So it benefits all to recite them : those seeking bhakti, and
those seeking personal improvement or happiness. Make a regular
practice of it. You will notice the difference. Blessings !
Tel 787 712 0759
Gurabo, Puerto Rico, 00778