Value of the Land
Land in the dham should not be measured in terms of mundane monetary value. It is much more valuable than that. It is actually considered to be chintamani. Yet we are sometimes scolded that the land in Mayapur has so much monetary value that we cannot afford the luxury of creating simple housing, or dedicating some land to demonstrate simple living. This contention is not born out by Srila Prabhupada’s teaching however. When it comes to principles, he saw things from a completely different perspective.
In a BTG issue from 1952 Srila Prabhupada describes the birth right of each individual:
“The Supreme Godhead being the Father of all living being, every one has got birth right share in the property of Godhead according to His plan. Such plan is not direct design of the Almighty Father but it is influenced by the living entities according to their mode of nature which they confront in the relative world.”
Unfortunately due to the current trend of the world, business mindedness (a quality Prabhupada repeatedly warned us against) has affected even our devotees: “The mode of ignorance and passion have pervaded the whole atmosphere. The mode of goodness has altogether been banished from the religio-social life of the present generation.”
Brahmanas see everything through the light of sastra. The actual owners of everything are the brahmanas and they use everything to engage the praja in the Lords service in whatever way they can. Prabhupada’s stated intentions for Mayapur fit this mould.
“Since brahmanas and Vaisnavas are direct servants of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they do not depend on others. In actuality, everything in the world belongs to the brahmanas, and out of their humility the brahmanas accept charity from the ksatriyas, or kings, and the vaisyas, or merchants. Everything belongs to the brahmanas, but the ksatriya government and the mercantile people keep everything in custody, like bankers, and whenever the brahmanas need money, the ksatriyas and vaisyas should supply it. It is like a savings account with money which the depositor can draw out at his will. The brahmanas, being engaged in the service of the Lord, have very little time to handle the finances of the world, and therefore the riches are kept by the ksatriyas, or the kings, who are to produce money upon the brahmanas’ demand. Actually the brahmanas or Vaisnavas do not live at others’ cost; they live by spending their own money, although it appears that they are collecting this money from others. Ksatriyas and vaisyas have no right to give charity, for whatever they possess belongs to the brahmanas. Therefore charity should be given by the ksatriyas and vaisyas under the instructions of the brahmanas. Unfortunately at the present moment there is a scarcity of brahmanas, and since the so-called ksatriyas and vaisyas do not carry out the orders of the brahmanas, the world is in a chaotic condition.” SB 4.22.46
Prabhupada clearly instructed us to demonstrate the actual worth of this land in a meaningful demonstration of dependence and cooperation with the Lord. This preaching would attract men who are actually intelligent.
Another aspect of brahminical culture that we imbibe from the above is the principle that brahmanas are independent:
“A brahmana does not become anyone’s servant. To render service to someone else is the business of the sudras. A brahmana is always independent because he is a teacher, spiritual master and advisor to society. The members of society provide him with all the necessities of life… Jagannatha Misra was a brahmana; therefore people would send him all bodily necessities—money, cloth, grain and so on. While Lord Caitanya was in the womb of Sacimata, Jagannatha Misra received all these necessities of life without asking for them… In other words, if a brahmana or Vaisnava sticks to his position as an eternal servant of the Lord and executes the will of the Lord, there is no question of scarcity for his personal maintenance or the needs of his family. CC Adi 13.82
My own personal experience, bears this out. I joined ISKCON when I was 16 in London and for the first 17 years I was engaged as a bramachary in various services. I was married in ’93 and quickly discovered that maintaining a new family can be a challenge. I was able to work for ISKCON in India for a stipend and at one point was provided with a reasonable income for about a year or so. Then in ’98 we decided to try to develop a varnasrama community with my extended family in Mauritius. It was not easy, we had to borrow money from the family to set things up on the land. We were determined that we should spend full time working towards developing a project for Prabhupada and not seeking out paid employment.
Things didn’t work out in Mauritius, but quite quickly we were invited to Spain to try to help save the New Vrajamandala farm from being sold. We agreed, on the terms that we would be allowed to take a portion of the land to develop a varnasrama project. Again we threw ourselves into it, not knowing how we would maintain ourselves but having faith that the Lord would help. It was tough, but the Lord did help in all sorts of wonderful ways. HH Kadamba Kanana Swami was very supportive and would donate laxmi whenever he could to help us set things up. My wife was almost out of decent clothes, when suddenly we received a box full of almost new saris and other clothes from a local mataji, just in the style that my wife liked.
We shared the maintenance and daily care of some cows with another family and got milk and manure for the land. We started to grow our own food and build cottages. Sometimes we would be down to our last 100 Euros not knowing if more would come. I would sometimes be in anxiety how to maintain, but somehow we had faith it would all work out. Then, one day I got the news that my father had died and left us property in London. I hardly had anything to do with my father who left home to travel the world when I was very young. So it was a great surprise to receive such an inheritance and came just in time for us to move back to India and enroll our son in Gurukula. In this way we had been able to somehow or other continue to be inspired by and work towards fulfilling Srila Prabhupadas orders to demonstrate Daivi Varnasrama. In India we were able to utilize part of the inheritance to start to organize a varnasrama college.
In a discussion in Vrindavana in March 1974 Prabhupada said: “There should be no unemployment… Now this unemployment question is very strong all over the world… So much (land), lying vacant… Everyone should be engaged. That is management. So all GBC members must see that in every temple, everyone is engaged… This is the meaning of leadership, that all the devotees are protected.” He told Balavanta Prabhu, whom he encouraged to run for political office in America, to preach: “…if you take our Kåñëa consciousness movement, there will be no unemployment.” He then went on to describe a problem that is only really becoming apparent now: “…the farmers, their sons, they’re giving up the farming business.”
Thirty seven years later, as of December 2011. The chairman of the National Commission on Farmers, reported that 45% of Indian farmers want to quit: “Hundreds of tenant farmers are reported to have committed suicide in the last few days. Why this crisis continues to haunt farmers? We are entering a state of agrarian crisis.” He admitted that it is a bewildering situation. http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/todays-paper/article1030041.ece
Prabhupada warned us about this. The problem is much more serious now.
Prabhupada’s earnestness regarding the land in Mayapur is actually part of a much larger picture of his understanding of the worlds ills and the solutions. In a March 1974 discussion Prabhupada concluded: ” Practically attract… The Hare Krsna movement will practically attract the people. If the world affairs are adjusted according to our Krsna conscious plan, there will be no difficulty for all the nations, all the countries. They will be happy. So we have to educate people gradually. And by our example, living example, we’ll have to attract.”
We have a number of simple brahmanas in our society who are engaged in service in some way or another. Persons of similar caliber as the late Gopiparanadana Prabhu, should be invited to come and reside in free accommodation in Mayapur with their families and be encouraged to speak boldly. Gopiparanadana Prabhu had in fact spoken very eloquently of the need for varnasrama. Our managers should seek the advice of such Brahmanas and act according to their recommendations. Once such qualified people are found, they should be allowed to live here with no strings attached. Nothing that will compromise their freedom of expression. Not only this, but we need to encourage a class of vaisyas that can produce wealth from the land in Mayapur and freely support the Brahmanas with generous donations.
Our managers have to assume the protective role of the Ksatriya. In general people become managers because they have that bhava. They need to realize that their prime duty is to protect all others. They need to find brahminical persons who can take the lead philosophically. They need to formulate some policies in Mayapur to facilitate the emergence of the rest of the brahminical culture. Vaisyas should also be attracted.
This can be difficult because naturally vaisyas tend to be more materialistic. They have more of a mix of raja and tama guna. Those who have not been raised in a brahminical family or had the advantage of gurukula training (brahmana, ksatriya and vaisya training), often don’t understand the value of respecting brahmanas and ksatriyas, or how to deal with them. So its important to make a very clear presentation of what is expected. We have the advantage in Mayapur of having the Bhaktivedanta Academy gurukula, some of whose students are ideally suited to graduating into a greater varnasrama ordered community.
Some say that there is no hope to start varnasrama in ISKCON because the devotees are just not prepared to take to simple living, most being city slickers. Why is this the case? One only has to travel to south India, to Auroville to find a community started in the 60’s by a young group of foreigners, not at all unlike the young people who joined ISKCON at that time. Auroville has as its charter a plan to foster human unity. In the 60’s this had great appeal. As such, many development minded idealists flocked there.
At this time Auroville probably has the greatest per capita ratio of architects, entrepreneurs and artisans than any other place in the world. It is greatly supported by its more than 60 cottage industries, which produce world class, naturally made products. Foreigners on a shoestring budget started many of these industries. Another startling fact is that private property is not allowed in Auroville. Despite this foreigners are prepared to spend thousands of dollars to invest in building a house there, knowing they can never sell it, because they are so attracted by the thriving community.
Why can we not attract such people? We don’t have the right policies in place.
Vastu – Varnasrama – One system – Vedic Culture
Varnasrama is a function: “[The] institutional function of human society is known as the system of varnasrama-dharma, which is quite natural for the civilized life. The varnasrama institution is constructed to enable one to realize the Absolute Truth.” SB 1.2.13
In the context of town planning varnasrama is arranged according to Vastu Sastra, which describes where the varnas should be situated in a town plan.
“In the construction of that city could be seen the full scientific knowledge and architectural skill of Visvakarma. There were wide avenues, commercial roads and courtyards laid out on ample plots of land; there were splendid parks, and also gardens stocked with trees and creepers from the heavenly planets. …Beside the houses stood treasury buildings, warehouses, and stables for fine horses… Each residence had a watchtower, and also a temple for its household deity. Filled with citizens of all four social orders, the city was especially beautified by the palaces of Sri Krsna, the Lord of the Yadus.” SB Verse 10.50-53
Help in Developing Spiritually
Its described that Brahma: “…created the medical science, military art, musical art and architectural science, all from the Vedas. They all emanated one after another, beginning from the front face.” In the purport Srila Prabhupada says: “The Vedas contain perfect knowledge, which includes all kinds of knowledge necessary for the human society, not only on this particular planet but on other planets as well…All these groups of knowledge are called the Upapurana, or supplements of the Vedas. Spiritual knowledge is the main topic of the Vedas, but to help the human being’s spiritual pursuit of knowledge, the other information, as above mentioned, forms necessary branches of the Vedic knowledge.” SB 3.12.38
Srila Prabhupadas instructions as regards Vedic Culture in Mayapur can be fulfilled quite easily. Physically, at the level of streets, we can arrange residential areas according to the recommendation of the sastra. In the western world we find there are divisions according to class, which is mostly dictated by wealth. The wealthiest live in gated communities, the middle classes in suburbs, and the working classes in blocks of flats. Prabhupada describes how Maharaja Priyavrata “divided the surface of the globe into different islands so that each class of men would live peacefully and not clash with the others.” SB 5.1.40
People who are in sattva guna will like to live with other similarly peaceful people. Those in rajas will want to associate with more active people; Birds of a feather flock together.
Save Society from Rogues and Ruffians!
Prabhupada said in the Adi Lila [17.103] Although brahmanas would go door to door just like beggars, they were honoured as very respectable guests. This was the system in Hindu society five hundred years ago, during the time of Caitanya Mahaprabhu. This system was current even one hundred years ago; even fifty or sixty years ago, when we were children, such brahmanas would visit householders like humble beggars, and people would derive great benefit from the mercy of such brahmanas. The greatest benefit was that a householder could save a great deal of money from being spent on doctor bills because the brahmanas, aside from explaining the past, present and future, could ordinarily cure all kinds of diseases simply by giving instructions and some medicine. Thus no one was bereft of the benefit of a first-class physician, astrologer and priest.
The important members of ISKCON should give careful attention to our Dallas school, where children are being taught Sanskrit and English to become perfect brahmanas. If they are actually trained as perfect brahmanas, they can save society from rogues and ruffians; indeed, people can live happily under the protection of qualified brahmanas. Therefore the Bhagavad-gita (4.13) gives special stress to the division of society (catur-varnyam maya srstam-guna-karma-vibhagasah).
(Edited and compiled by Samba das)