Understanding *Varnasrama* Through Bhagavat-dharma
Introduction: In September 1972, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada gave a series of "Bhagavat-dharma Discourses" in New Vrndavana. I was greatly blessed by being present for all of them. Prabhupada explicitly spelled out the relationship of the mission of ISKCON, Bhagavat-dharma, to varnasrama-dharma. This paper is composed of direct quotations from those discourses (apart from my own linking texts that simply introduce or summarize Prabhupada's words). The quotations are excerpted from an edited-for-publication compilation that Palace Press produced in 1983. The BBT Vedabase Folio can be consulted for the raw ...view middle of the document...
According to the Vedic system, we are supposed to follow the *varnasrama-dharma.* However, at the present moment "Hindu *dharma*" has become very ambiguous. Actually the Vedic literatures never mention a thing as "Hindu *dharma*." Such an expression is never found in *Bhagavad-gita*, *Srimad- Bhagavatam* or any other authorized scripture. Unfortunately, in India the term "Hindu *dharma*" has become very prominent. This is unfortunate because so-called Hindu *dharma* is a vitiation of the real Vedic *dharma*, which is *varnasrama-dharma.*
Everyone can cultivate his particular occupational duty with the aim of attaining ultimate salvation. Human life is meant for salvation, for liberation from the bondage of birth and
death. Unfortunately at present the so-called intellectual class of men has no information of ultimate liberation.
Formerly, the *brahmanas* used to learn Ayurvedic medicine and astrology. The lower castes--the *ksatriyas*, *vaiyas* and *sudras*--used to consult the *brahmanas* on these two subjects. Everyone wants to know about his health, and therefore everyone wants to know about the future, so by studying these, the *brahmanas* could supply the information required. However, *Srimad-Bhagavatam* points out: "I am not this body."
As pointed out previously, to accept a *dharma* is to nullify all these *vargas*--hard work, fear, frustration and death. One should not think, however, that executing *dharma* is simply going to church or temple and asking God for some bread. ... Such a prayer means that one does not know how to pray. One should rather pray to God to grant him release from material miseries.
If one does not work for Yajna, Visnu, he is bound by the reaction of his work. If one works piously, he is elevated to higher planetary systems, or he becomes a rich man's son. By performing pious activities, one may get a good birth (*janma*) in an aristocratic or rich family, or one may receive good learning (*sruta*) or one may be rewarded by a beautiful body (*sri*). These are the results of pious activities. And if one performs impious activities, he receives just the opposite: birth in a low family, poor education and an ugly body. Generally people understand *dharma* by these things. But *Srimad-Bhagavatam* says that *dharma*, religious principles, should be executed in order to nullify material benefits. Whether one becomes poor or rich he has to undergod the tribulations of material existence. Just because one is a rich man, he cannot avoid death. The poor man also works hard but for even less money and is also subjected to the other tribulations. Some people think that if they become rich all their tribulations will be ended, but who would think that by becoming rich he will be free from old age, disease and death?
Modern educated society does not know what *vimukti* is. They may know what liberation is, but they do not know what the ultimate liberation is. The scientists, for...