Seminar on Vaisnava Etiquette and Culture given by HH. Bhakti Vidya Purna Swami given at ISKCON Radhadesa in 1998.
Today we’ll continue with the questions. May be you have anything you feel relevant to our topic what we discussed or how to applicate these kinds of things that would make anything more useful or you have some ideas you would like to perceive with that.
The concept is that everybody according to their varna has a particular way in which they work best and feel the most comfortable. But as there is anything, because when you’re dealing with the religious principles there’s a restriction, so the freedom is given where it will give rights to the manifestation of the best part of the nature and the restrictions are given where that will control your undesirable parts .If it’s done properly then you can get a proper blend of social interaction that works. The problem comes when somebody’s nature, the bad side comes out and the good side is repressed or misused. Then you have a problem.
You find that character in everyone. Just like for children because they’re younger naturally they tend to be frivolous At the same time because they’re younger it’s very obvious for them that they are not to be senior persons. They’re not the most knowledgeable and most experienced. So if you bring out the side of them respecting others and learning to work with others and you restrict the frivolous part, just some time in the day they have for playing or some occasions, then you get a very nice child. While if you go the other way – they figure that they’re expert in whatever they do and they play whenever they like and don’t respect others, then it is a big problem.
So the whole idea is if you restrict their respect and allow the frivolous side to go, then it’s a great problem. The system that you’re using is not the most essential point. It’s just practical. If you want to do a particular work, a particular tool works best for that. You want to get done, you may be able to improvise. One has to understand what principles you’re trying to obtain.
So in this when we see in the different status of society, you’re common general mass of people, they work best when they’re under the protection of the government and basically taken care of. This kind of socialistic kind of aspect works very nicely for them. But we see that the socialist idea, it just takes care of the people but it doesn’t encourage economic development nor necessarily proper caring government.
So this means that the actual business itself has to be able to work according to principles of capitalism that they are able to buy and sell and do these things to create economic development. S o that must be allowed. Though at the same time, that must be restricted so that they do not unnecessarily exploit the situation. In other words this aspect always brings out the service side or the benefit side and restricts that side which will create exploitation. For example, general populists, they take care of. But at the same time in that character must also be developed like that aspect of service, loyalty and gratefulness- all these nice qualities. Then you feel like taking care of someone. Just like if you have a child and he behaves properly, you want to take care of him. But if he becomes arrogant even though it’s proper for the parents to take care of the children it becomes a great burden. The emotional exchange is lost.
So the idea in the Vedic culture, the most important thing that someone needs is the emotional exchange. The idea is we have to transform that from emotional exchange on the material platform and the emotional exchange in the spiritual platform, with the Lord and His devotees. That’s the purpose. And the senses and all that come with when there’s an emotional exchange will do it through mediums that the senses are taken care of. “Dadati prati-grihnati guhyam akhyati prichati bhunkte bhojayate.. “ you’re giving gifts, something to eat or discussing confidentially – all these things. You’re using your eyes, ears and nose and all these things are being used for the expression of relationship or Rasa.
So the culture is meant that the emotional exchange is kept on its optimum and those that restrict that or disturb or reduced. So if the common people do their work and being taken care of, they don’t have to worry about things. They also have to be grateful to that loyal to those people taking care of them. Then you get a nice balance. Then those who are doing the economic growth they have to be able to feel that they are doing this work, they’re respected for that work. The more they can produce wealth, the more they’re respected. Just like for the common person- the more they expert in their area of art, the more famous they are, by their age they’re respected then they feel satisfied.
So in the business community those who are able to create more economic development they must be respected. Then they have to give a portion of that for the overall governance of the community, of the society. And they have to feel that it’s going for someone’s good, that there’s no exploitation. They’ve worked very hard. They created this economic development. They can’t just feel that someone is just coming and taking it away. Therefore there is a restriction of how much you can take. The governance can take 25 or 18 percent. These are generally the 2 figures between 18 to 25, probably depending upon what is needed, what is necessary – 25 will be the maximum and 18 probably will be general minimum.
So in taking the businessman’s mind can be fixed when he knows how much has been gone. So the mind just accepts that and he knows what’s left – that’s theirs. Then it’s recommended – now you give the charity and do all different things. You do good work also with that money. And then they feel “ I’m doing the work” because may be they mind so it’s taking away someone else that uses , does good this work but they don’t’ feel they’re getting any credit for that. If course they are, but they don’t’ feel it because there is no emotional exchange there. They give to someone in charity, people respect that, appreciate that, they’re glorified for that. So that aspect must be there.
That’s why sometimes you have a devotee doing business or generating a lot of funds and then it’s just thought that if you don’t give all to the temple just like that without thinking then you’re in Maya. But the thing is that mentality doesn’t go with the generation of funds. So the person who’s expecting it doesn’t necessarily understand psychology. He doesn’t understand personal relationships. Someone may give once but then that’s it. A businessman may generally give up all his business and everything once and then take vanaprastha. They won’t do it many times. They won’t do it then after 3 months. It means that there’s a certain amount that they can expect. “Yes I want to give this every month” and then if there’re other projects, they’re encouraged and inspired and like the people who they’re working above them, so they naturally like to give, especially for specific things. It’s general no one likes to give for maintenance. They like to give for projects that something you could see – capital investment or big festivals. So it has to see that nature and deal with that and that’s how someone will give.
The idea is you’re getting profit. So you see instead of just getting material profit they’re getting spiritual profit. But one has to do within the mentality. So this means that the next level up must then be very fair and equal in the dealings and very proper and the mood of taking things is for that shelter. It means the tax is simply for shelter of the whole community. They take that money and with that they do good work for facility for the people. They maintain roads and water, whatever is necessary for the interaction, the protection, whatever is needed in the government. So people can see that they’re getting some benefits from it – one gives taxes and then they see if the level of pranamaya is maintained very nicely- your justice , your common facilities, the economic growth, all these different things are taken care of. So then one is very satisfied with that mentality.
Kshatriyas, vaishas and shudras
Those who are leading that community, the main element of their work is that they can give shelter. They train properly the scriptures. They know what the standards are and the actual laws of God. And they have devotion for the Lord. In other words they know the purpose – to serve the Lord and benefit themselves and others with this understanding. And they have the marshal spirit. So they have no problem to take up the challenge. If there’s something’s going right then everything’s peaceful. And if something’s going wrong they’ll step forward.
For example, everyone wants to do something. So that person who comes forward and does it properly with fairness and proper consideration everybody respects. If something’s going wrong in a community or society, everyone wants a solution. But the problem is no one can step forward and do it because they don’t have these qualifications. They don’t have proper knowledge, proper devotion nor they have the proper marshal understanding, resourcefulness and protection and all these different things which are required. So that mood is there then everybody else doesn’t mind giving tax or following the rules that are given and when they give, they deal with their justice and all these things it’s respected. But it has to be that fairness is there. In other words a businessman gives his word but then afterwards if he sees that it’s bad for the business he’ll go back on his word. It’s just common. He decides – okay, this is the deal and you’re happy, he’s happy and come back tomorrow. And then he goes off and thinks about it and recalculates it and figures out – it’s not making so much profit or there’s a loss. Then you come the next day ready for everything and then he says- I’m sorry, there’s been something that we can’t. They have some very nice excuse, worded very nicely, that it’s just they broke their promise. But a king, even if it means loss he won’t break his promise, means personal loss, social loss that won’t be allowed, but personal loss that they have no problem with.
Because basically a kshatriya and a brahman are practically the same entity. Just the one has more passion and another more wants to see that the knowledge of the scriptures is applied. And they know they have the resources to do it and they have that marshal’s spirit to see everything through. They’re not afraid of anyone.
Like we see Abhimanyu, he’s only 16, is just married. Sixteen years old – you generally expect to just be sitting around and doing some kind of stupid stuff. He’s out on the battlefield and it takes seven Maharathis to defeat him. And he‘s just using a chariot wheel. He has no weapons other than chariot wheel that he spins it in such a way that when they throw the weapons at him he catches them with the chariot wheel and throws it back at them. So it takes seven Maharathis including Bhishma, Drona, Kripa – all them to defeat him. He’s just a 16 year old kid.
The kshatriya’s spirit is a special spirit but in the fighting it’s not passion such as we think. We think passion generally we must take ignorance for passion, just anger. Like someone always angry and someone’s very passionate. No, anger is ignorance if it’s just anger for oneself. You see that kshatriyas and their anger over when religious principles are not being followed. Because it means that someone is being affected. The society can’t run. The laws of God are being broken. They get angry. They fight over that. They don’t get angry over themselves. That’s not the point.
So it’s a different a thing. They’re not angry over their senses. So therefore they can be in the battlefield. And when power is shown, as they deal with power, they appreciate it. That’s why they like the battlefield because so much power is being shown. And when someone else does something very good, they appreciate that. It’s not that when the other kshatriya does something they say “ah that’s not ah”… No, they appreciate it that was very good. In fact they want to fight with someone who has some power because if you’re going to be defeated you want to be defeated by the best.
There’s a certain group of warriors. Arjuna did it that one day when he vowed by sun down: “If I don’t kill Jayadratha then I’ll enter the fire”. So it’s a particular battlefield vow. And so many days, practically every day there’d be a group, sometimes thousands of people who would make their vow -that today I will fight and kill Arjuna otherwise I will enter the fire. So because they have this vow that the rule is that they get the first fight. Even if someone else’s challenge first, they get first right because the other person will be around tomorrow. This person says by sun down – if I haven’t fought either won or lost then I’ll enter the fire. They get the first right to fight. So everyday Arjuna would be dealing with 10,000, 15,000, 25,000 of these persons who would come forward. So that we’ll be the first business on the agenda then he would get down to the other bigger kshatriyas because it’s a glory that you die on the battlefield but he wasn’t just some shnook. You’ve been killed by the hand of Arjuna. And people say – that’s a real kshatriya. He went forward, such powerless and he still went forward to fight with him. So that means they have some potency.
So it’s a rasa they’re tasting. It’s not just passion or anger. It’s an exchange. The modern thing is “I get angry”. Like you see the marshal arts in films when a guy is just himself . His rasa’s with himself and his ego. There’s no rasa between him and the other person. The people that are fighting are shudras not kshatriyas. Because everybody – vaishas, kshatriyas and brahmans have shudras that assist them in their field. So on the battlefield shudras assist kshatriyas who fight with them. They’re the foot soldiers. That’s why you don’t have to challenge them. You shoot some arrow, chant some mantras, turns into 50,000 arrows and kills 50,000 of them. They don’t mind and no one else does. But as kshatriya you have to challenge first. You can’t shoot them from behind.
That’s why Bali was so upset, that you shot me from behind. Why didn’t you come forward and present yourself? You’re from the dynasty from Ayodha. You’ve heard a lot about it and now we’ve found out you’re just a coward – fight, shooting from behind the tree and shooting me in the back. Then he made the point: “Well, you are just the monkeys and that’s for humans. “ But he says: “ Okay, but you see how we’re fighting and I expected more from you”. So this is a whole rasa going on there. And it wasn’t until there was the point of “you’ve taken someone else’s wife”. And that person is there and can’t take care. It wasn’t that he had no shelter, no, you had, you could take care, you took, that ‘s against the religious principles. Therefore you are not on the proper standard of religion. Therefore I didn’t want to bother and challenging you and fight because you are not fit the challenge. Because you are not on that platform. Then Bali said: “Yes, I accept that argument”. And he died peacefully.
But the point is it’s a rasa, very strong rasa. So when the kshatriyas come out on the battlefield and they see fighting and they see all the blood and everything like that, they become very encouraged because they hear some real show of power and the people that are on that battlefield they’re not afraid. So I’ve mentioned that fight with Jarasandha and Mathura. He will come so many times and it’d just be the elephants like mountains, little hills and the pearls were like pebbles and the blood was like rivers . And they said that those who were of weak heart they couldn’t see. They just turned away. But the kshatriyas become very inspired and be looking around for their men to arrange their chariots and checking their weapons.
It’s a total different. It’s a flavor. So that flavor to take challenge and meet it – that is a kshatriya. And it’s for the benefit of somebody else. All those kings are perfectly situated in the kingdom. They don’t have to come over and fight with Duryodhana. But here you’re talking about a religious war. It started on a religious place, the religious war based on the religious principles and so they want to take part. Be cause religion is being established here, so they want to come. Duryodhana is the only one in the battlefield that is not in the proper mood. But everyone else is coming with the proper spirit. He’s just got the wrong attitude. And everybody else’s good clean fun. So they’re all coming. So they’re not on the battlely platform there.
This whole idea that they must have the prestige, the honor but that is because if the seat is not honored, if the family is not honored who wants to follow them, who wants to pay tax, who’ll be satisfied with this person, taking my money and I trust him. Because in our family, no one has ever gone back on their word so that’s a great honor. The king has a place where there’s a special courtyard. And if someone through the normal channels of justice hasn’t gotten justice they can go to that courtyard and be beat on that drum and get direct audience with the king. So it’s a great prestige for a family that in our family line this drum has never been beaten. So if somebody beats on that drum that’s considered not very good. It means somebody through your management has not been satisfied in justice and now they’ve had directly go to the top because your whole system failed. So it’s always considered that it’s not proper. Therefore also the person who comes to beat the drum that they have a good reason otherwise the guards, could end him up in jail. Because that drum is just not beaten unless it’s a real serious thing.
So we see that a brahman came and approached directly Arjuna. “My sons are being taken and none of you can protect. You’re not kshatriyas. What are your management skills?” So Arjuna took this very seriously. “I’ll do it myself personally”. So previously in Dvapara-yuga seems to be able to more often used but in Treta-yuga it was just like never used. The kings were so expert. I think that another brahman came, “they took 10,000 of my cows and what are you doing about it?” So then Arjuna went to get his bow. He has to catch these people. These thieves have taken this brahman’s 10000 cows. But now what does it mean him doing his duty? That means to go into the room where Yudhishtira and Draupadi are. And the rule they made between the brothers is that whenever someone is ultimately alone with Draupadi no one else can come into the room, otherwise 12 years to the forest. But to do his duty for him is more important and go to the forest for 12 years than not to go for his own personal reason. Otherwise how anyone could have faith in him. Someone has put to full surrender, so he has to give that full shelter that means it is not difficult for him. So he goes in there, takes the bow, goes and defeats thieves, gets the brahman’s cows, back and then prepares to go to the forest. So even though Yudhishtira says: “No, that’s a normal thing and emergency. You don’t have to do that”. But no, the word has been given, he’ll do that.
So it’s a mood, that makes the kshatriya. And it’s very special and rare – someone who likes to fight. It is not like to be passionate or anyone who likes to collects a lot of things and does it through managing. It means you can take management as an art. So because you can manage, that doesn’t make anyone as a kshatriya. It’s an art. Anyone can perform it. So we see that people do business, their business is management. Like a landlord, his business is management. So he runs so many villages and takes the tax but that’s a business. He protects the people because if you don’t protect the people working in your company, then you don’t get your returns. So he sees all the people that are under him is a part of his business. So he protects them. He may keep a small army. He may do all these things. He takes the tax. And then he gives whatever he needs to the ones above him. He keeps his share and that’s his business. Even though it looks the same, it’s totally different because the mood’s different.
You see the time of Syamananda in that story when he’s talking about the local kings. Sometimes he called them kings, sometimes – gopas, because they’re vaishas, aristocratic vaishas. We see Nanda Maharaja. He’s a vaisha, the king of the vaishas. The benefits one will get from hearing the story of Pitu. It says a brahman will become the topmost of the brahmans, a king will become an emperor, a vaisha will become a king amongst the vaishas and a shudra will become a devotee. So being the king of vaishas means they’re still vaishas but that’s their king.(51:22) They have that mood, taking care this or that. It’s part of their business. It’s different. In other words the flavor is different. That’s how you identify the varnas – by the flavor. Generally we take it by what we’re doing. Someone wants to get a profit out of many areas then we try to claim that we’re all these varnas. But it’s one single mood and you can tell what varna they are. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing.
Because you have these government officials like ministers, some more brahmans but other are shudras. They’re just hired people, like Ramananda Rai. He was the manager of the whole of South India. Iit’s not a small place. It’s the third of India he’s managing. But he’s doing it on the behalf of Maharaja Prataparudra. It’s not his land. He manages – he takes the taxes, does all these things but it’s not his tax. It’s not his money. The land is not his. So he’s not a kshatriya, he’s a shudra though he’s a big time manager. When you go to Harvard School of Business Management, then unless you got out and open your own business (but if you go to work for someone else) you’re a shudra. So Harvard School of Business Management, trains skilled shudras in the art of business management but a businessman, a vaisha is the guy that owns the company. Even if he doesn’t come in, doesn’t sell. He hires people. Just because you can sell doesn’t make you a vaisha. All those guys when you go into big shops and all the guys sitting around are all shudras. That guy over at the corner wearing the torn shirt, with chewing gum and has a little box there that’s a vaisha. But all the swank looking guys have dressed nicely and doing all the things, they’re all shudras.
So it’s a very fine thing. It’s a mood in what you’re doing. That’s why it’s a culture. Because it’s not so cut and dry. Like I remember ,we had a very old picture. You have the absent minded guy at the chalk board putting equal mc square. That’s a brahman. Then the next was some guy with an army outfit with an AK 47. He’s a kshatriya. Then you have two really happy looking guys sitting on a mountain of grain. That’s a vaisha. That’s right. And then you have a shudra with the jackhammer. So that’s also right but there’s another end. The another end is you have a guy like Picasso or Salvador Dolly. They’re artist but they have a philosophy. They’re respected all over the world for their intellectual but they’re shudras. But they have philosophy, they move with the biggest top people, the biggest political people, the biggest economic. Anything they can move because they’re of a fine character and intelligence. So shudras can be super qualified like what we’re saying Ramananda Rai. He’s taking that position. The king depends upon him to manage the whole South India. Because he’s a manager. He’s a hired man. The difference is you have a king of South India and he is a vessel for the bigger king. It means he runs a kingdom and he pays a tax if the other king needs it. And if the bigger king has to fight, he’ll come and bring his army. Or if he has a problem, the bigger king will come and help him. So there’re two kings. But here he’s managing on behalf of someone else.
So it’s a very different flavor. It’s just like when you have a corporate business. Technically you’re not dealing with vaishas unless somebody’s got 51 percent. 51 percent and they know how to run it, organize it. They’re vaishas. But just because they bought a few shares from somebody sitting in there, play somewhere and they see some shares and want invest in it – it doesn’t make him a vaisha. All the managers don’t necessarily have to be vaishas. They might be but they don’t have to be. They just have to know how to manage business. So it’s been thrown into the modern culture kind of perverted varnas.
You have a doctor that works for a hospital. He seems to be like a kind of hired by the hospital but he’s doing brahminical work. They’re not fully satisfied they generally see. Those ones they know you’re the best. The ones that are really outstanding. The ones who want their own chambers and they come and they do something at the hospital. They only have their visiting times. The hospital can say – we can get avail to the facilities of this particular person. They’re the real like brahminical. Otherwise just their art they know how to cut up bodies and do different things. But all the assistants to the doctors, the anesthetists and all those kinds of people -they’re all shudras. They’re not doctors.
So it’s a very fine point between all these. The kshatriyas are very special and so they have to work on monarchy. They hear everything and then they give a decision. So the vaishas are working on like democracy. They get together and discuss this and that like the Chamber of Commerce. They get together and discuss how to make more money or train amongst themselves and this and that. And then somebody of course is the leader of it. So you have a committee and you have a leader of the committee. But he’s just one of us but he’s naturally richer and fatter so we accept him. And as soon as he’s not richer and fatter then whoever else is richer and fatter they’ll be sitting there. That’s the term “sate.” “Sate” means you’re rich and that’s generally obvious by how fat you are. Because vaishas won’t spend anything on food unless. like if they’re making billions of dollars then they’ll spend a little more on something to eat. Otherwise they won’t. They always eat less. At the same time because they’re making so much, like reaching their peak in performance they become very peaceful. So when they’re peaceful there’s no anxiety, they become also fat. So a fat businessman is a good sign. But in some communities like you see in Gujarat they’re always skinny. You’ll never see fat ones. The Rajastanis are fat.
The vaishas work on democracy, shudras on socialism, kshatriyas work on monarchy. Now the interesting system in the Vedic literature, in Vedic system is the village level also works on like committees, village heads. And the vaishas work on that. Then all that piles up you have in a village you have one leader. Then you have 10 villages amongst those 10 village leaders, there’s one leader. So 10 villages, they meet together and 1 of them is a leader. Then 10 of those and then there’s a leader amongst themselves. So how much is your population that much levels you have, to finally get to a level which is the lower court. And then at that point it’s still a democratic process. They discuss amongst themselves, discuss all these different kinds of things. Then they present their problems to the king – plans, problems, everything to the king. And then that’s where democracy stops. Democracy is that they have the right to present their ideas, their difficulties and their experience but the decision on what will happen, that comes from a king. That’s a monarchy. So everything has its line, it stops there.
Like a shudra, he’s a part of the business, he has everything in the business but he just gets his paycheck. He doesn’t get kickbacks of the shares. It means the businessman is pleased with his performance, the festival or something where there was extra work. He always gives something. But he will give it according to the personality. He won’t give more. If you give too much to a shudra he will become very proud. He will become lazy. You have to be very careful. Give how much is actually deserving. Only when it’s needed. Because they should work hard anyway. But because of the relationship and you’re especially pleased you’re doing. It’s not just – I work hard you give me more. No, it’s a relationship. You’re part of the business. You work hard and the business prospers. The business prospers – you get more money.
In other words the rasa of the worker is they care for the welfare of the businessman. They care for whoever they’re working for -the kshatriya, the brahman they’re working for. Whatever they’re doing will prosper. And if I may be able to help I do as best I can. And we have a relationship you take care. So it’s not business that I do this and you give me this. See the basically the businessmen are so clever they’ve allowed the shudras to think they’re businessmen. And they get things they don’t deserve.
For example, we may think –“It’s a great modern thing. Oh, you don’t have to work so hard, we’ve made you this nice washing machine or dishwasher- saves your time.” So the person thinks, “Yeah, that’s great” and he goes and buys one. But that’s not the real thing. Then the person has to go to the health clinic to get their health back because he doesn’t do any work. The real thing behind it is that the vaisha gets money and he’s figured a clever way to exploit shudras. Or you want a house. Okay, you can take a mortgage and all these different things. For a businessman it’s his business. But a shudra goes his whole life paying it back. Instead of just paying the normal amount he pays much more. He makes more profit or is something as 50 percent more, 60 percent because his sense stretched out and because he’s not a good businessman. A businessman will say: “No, I won’t do that. I’ll better get my money together and buy the house and car for cheaper. And then that money saved all will invest at something else to make profit from that”. A shudra never thinks like that. “Wow! I can’t get my car and house today, just I want it”.
So he’s being exploited by the businessmen. Kshatriyas keep vaishas from doing that. The business is to keep the vaishas from overly clever. So the point is, they turn them into businessmen to get more out of them and when you don’t like you can fire them but before they were part of the family. It means shudras in the business and they were part of the family. They were the family members, one of the workers. If it’s their daughter’s time to get married then the businessman will help with the arrangements, give something because it’s like part of the family. So the whole thing is relationship. The bodyguards, foot soldiers with the king, that’s part of the whole thing. He cares for them. They care for him. The queen Devaki had her assistants and when she got married she came with 2000 maid servants. So they’re all shudras. So they are the servants of the queen. They don’t have another husband. So basically, technically they’re the assistants of the queen, married to the king. So they’re kind of an indirect way also wives of the king but their children can’t sit on the throne. They’re called shudranis. So their children like Vedura, he was the son of a shudrani. So they’re given all the facilities, basically royal prestige. But they can’t sit on the throne. They grew up in the palace. They knew so many things. Their mothers are always with the queen so they know what’s going on. They see everything but they’re fully taken care in everything there.
That mood of being able to be satisfied, seeing someone else’s satisfied is a very special quality that they experience that the other three orders don’t as directly. That’s what it says that a brahman will become the best of brahmans, a king – the best of emperors, a vaisha – the king among vaishas. But it doesn’t say anything about becoming a great devotee but a shudra becomes a devotee because a shudra is already in that mood of when someone else’s pleased, I’m pleased. When my master’s please, I’m pleased. So they just understand that the Lord is our ultimate master. It’s very easy for them. So the Vedic society gets advantages of where subsiding disadvantages is also a great advantage. So they may say that shudras always have to work and serve others but because of that it’s very easy for them to just serve the Supreme Lord. They have to serve anyway and they know it. So I’ll serve the Supreme Lord or I’ll do my service but without understanding. So there’s nothing to distract them. I’m serving anyway. I’m serving someone higher with greater quality. So it’s very easy for me to understand the Supreme Lord.
That’s why the devotee always takes the position of the servant – das or dasi. So that’s the best situation in which to advance. It’s a great advantage for them on that side. That’s why it’s not bored. And you see so many examples of stories where a shudra is advancing very nicely while someone on the higher level is not because of mentality. A kshatriya gets carry away by his power and what he’s doing he sometimes forgets. That’s why we need the next level – the brahmans. They are independent of the government and have no obligations to anybody but the Supreme Lord. And the Supreme Lord has given a code of conduct and so they follow that. They don’t have to establish it for others. They don’t have to do that themselves. So they are directly under the God. But because it’s within their rules, they know the system because of their detachment and intellectual abilities. So therefore they advise everybody how to follow it nicely and that’s their dharma. That’s how they add into the society.
In other words vaishas, shudras have to be controlled. Otherwise they may veer from the path. You can, you see in the Gita – a brahman can only do his duties if he has qualities. A kshatriya can only do his duties if he has qualities. Krishna doesn’t mention all different kinds of brahminical duties or all the different kshatriya’s duties. He doesn’t mention. Fo vaishas and shudras He just mentions their duties, but He doesn’t say anything about qualities. Because you can be a great businessman and be a number one demon. But you can’t be a great kshatriya if you’re a demon. You have to be a devotee. To be a good Brahman you have to be a devotee. Vaishas and shudras just need some control. Then their mind is peaceful. But because of the nature of their work the mind becomes can be dissatisfied very easily. You’re doing business and it’s not satisfied when you’re just into how to make more and more. So if there’s some restriction the mind is peaceful. When the mind is unrestricted, it’s crazy and one is very frustrated. Like you see, sometimes when you sit down, the mind runs over and you want to do something. You feel very bad. And when the mind is very peaceful and just fix on some point you feel very good. So the Vedic culture is how to make the mind peaceful. So the businessman knows- this is my limits. So his mind is peaceful. Shudras are always thinking how to develop and have a direction for that. They know they have to do it like this. Otherwise they don’t fit into the society. No one’s going to care for them. If you don’t do your work nicely, don’t have proper relationships with people, not loyal, trustworthy then no one wants you. So it makes the mind very fixed and they’re peaceful and very satisfied.
Kshatriyas rule and they see what happens but they’re kept in line by brahmans. Brahmans keep them in line that “in the shastra here, you’ve considered these three points but you’ve forgotten these two. Therefore, you’re having difficulty in applying your solution. So if you look at all these five then you’ll have a better result.” But that’s where they stop also. This is very important. This is also a major failure that we would have in application is that brahmans come to that point: “ These are all the scriptures say, all these books and these five points to consider. Now it’s up to you what you do”. Vaishas and shudra’ come up to a point where the democracy and they stop. The king makes the decision. Brahmans come down with their advise and they stop. The decision is the king’s. And if you make a decision that they don’t really approve up, again they’ll advise. He takes it, doesn’t take it, it doesn’t bother them personally. And they bother that the country may not be run properly. But personally they don’t take it. He didn’t take it because they know. The king’s absorbed in all these things, sometimes they get carried away. Like a Shaunaka Rishi. He’s a king. He’s running around fighting, hunting, doing all these things. You’ll get totally into you. You don’t notice what’s going on. You get totally fatigued and thirsty and then he walks in and gets no reception. He does a big deal. He’s a kshatriya.
The whole point is that you shouldn’t do this to someone who’s a subordinate. So brahmans are seeing the kings just like for your children go out and yell, scream and play and make themselves tired and they come in and they’re in a bad grumpy mood and all this and that and you’re busy doing something and they freak out. They’re just kids. So you don’t take it so seriously. So that is the point. Otherwise we think, “Where are brahmans?”, “Why are they not listening this and that”. That means because there’s a desire on the doer. “I said it is done.” Let it be written, let it be done!” That’s the kshatriya’s thing. “What I speak happens. Run: 1 word, 1 arrow, 1 wife. If he said it, it will happen”. If he said: “ I’m going to kill Ravana”, he’s going to do it. It’s just the way it is. But a brahman’ll speak. Kshatriyas take it fine. They don’t take it it’s their problem. It’s not brahman’s problem. Krishna’s taking care of them. Because they depend upon God. So they’re not in anxiety.
So this is what brahminical mission means. You advise those who knows what‘s going on but either can’t or don’t want to get involved in day to day hands on management. They give advice when they’re asked and then that’s where they stop. And those who have the ability to actually organize it, they should be given that facility. And even they make mistakes. It’s part of the game. Everybody’s making mistakes. And they’re encouraged. Only one is just seen that they’re bad. And they don’t actually have a good organization. Their character is very bad. They’re devotionally very bad. Then one will make some adjustments. You’ll see kings may fight amongst each other but will be based on this. One king see the next king is not qualified and his subjects are suffering. So because of that, he’ll come in, fight, take over that kingdom for the benefits of those subjects, either makes that king a vassal or removes him and puts someone else on the throne. Or if he has that great of ability, he may manage the whole thing.
But otherwise their point was just the citizens have to be taken care of. So in a community you have somebody, someone who’s not able to take care of their children properly, they’ll come and help with that. You can’t get away with something. You can’t have another person in the community, their kids are crazy running around, bothering everybody and no one’s going to say anything. No, because a grihastha means they know how to give shelter to the children. So this child is unsheltered. His parents are unqualified. If they’re going to be a part of our community, they have to become qualified or they have to leave the community. Liberalness means allow the society or the community to be destroyed. That’s liberality. Broadmindedness is needed. It means that broad mind helps to see what’s good, support what’s bad for Krishna, what you have that’s good, he preserves. What you don’t have, he provides.
For example, a lady has a kid. No husband. There’s a lack. The child is not going to have a full input of authority in the family structure. If you want to take this person in the community, the community has to be willing to put in what’s missing. Otherwise don’t complain. Don’t complain your kid doesn’t respect authority because there’s no father, so what do you want? What do you expect? So the community to take them must be willing to put that in. However it is.
So brahmans are independent and they work under the king. It means they work advising the king. So they come and sit in his court and do all these different things, it looks like they work under him. But actually they do not. And then there are those who work under him but they do have a brahman who works above him. That’s the Raj Guru. The Raj Guru doesn’t manage but they know management better than anybody. They know what to do. TheyHH could run the whole thing themselves because brahmans don’t. Like we see Vasishtha. He can run everything – no problem. So they have their own management system. They have their own people they work with and those who are independent from the king. And then they see that the things are going on, how they are being organized. And in this way they check and then tell the king -this was good, this was not good. So those dealings are private. Because it’s a prestige of the king. In the court with the other brahmans, administers, they are there. They mention their thing. The king makes his point. If everybody say “Ji ho” then the court is closed. And if they have something in private, they tell. And even after that if that doesn’t work then the Raj Guru comes and says: “You know, this is a problem”.
The temple president (Must he be more brahminically or kshatriya inclined?)
Brahmans and the kshatriyas are the same entity. Just one doesn’t want to get involved in the management and the other does. Otherwise they go in the same training and everything. They have the same body of knowledge. The kshatriya manages from the same body of knowledge that the brahman works in. Just he is the marshal side. In other words the Dharma shastras and the Vedanta vedas– these are his main field. And he does that through understanding the philosophy, Sanskrit, rituals, astrology, history, logic and argument -all these things, the different arts and crafts.
Like you see Krishna’s education is totally complete. There’s nothing more in Vedic education to learn. He first took Upanayanam then he practiced the sadhana in a Krishna book. And then when Sandipani Muni was pleased with that, then he told them all the 14 books of Vedic knowledge. So that was all the Scripture. Sadhana and the Scripture that were learned. Then because they were kshatriyas they specifically learned all the politics and the marshal things. Then after learning all that, so that their culture didn’t refined then they learned 64 arts.
Arts teach how you exchange with people and create a nice atmosphere. The arts create the niceness – how to put the lights, how to decorate, flower arrangements, deity dresses, kirtan, these are all arts. That’s what makes the whole things nice. The Scripture is the deity should be offered nice clothes. One should glorify the Lord with kirtan. That’s the Scripture. The art is how nice you do it, how you arrange it, how you put it on.
So the arts are very necessary to encourage and enlighten the human society. That’s why shudras are such an intricate part. And everybody knows arts. Vaishas know some, kshatriyas know some, emperors will know all of them. Emperors and queens study all the arts. And others – according to their interest. The king has to know everything. Otherwise how does he know if they have done proper decoration, how does he know if the singers are singing properly or the dancers are dancing properly? How does he know painters painted properly? How does he know if the Sutas who are singing his glories are saying so many things in the proper, they may not be using proper Sanskrit? Because he knows Sanskrit. How does he know brahmans are doing the right rituals because he knows what rituals are? How does he know If they pick the right time? Because he knows times. He doesn’t just sit down and do it. The pick the proper time they’ll say “Maharaja’s we found this time”. “Oh explain to me what are the glories of this time”. And so they say “this planet is in this house, and this Nakshatra and this”. Because he knows it then “yes very good, very nice time”. So they have to know everything – all the knowledge, all the arts. Then they work very nicely.
So the point is they are brahmans but they do kshatriya’s activities, so they’re kshatriyas. Just like Drona. If he doesn’t step foot on the battlefield, he’s a brahman. As soon as he steps foot in the battlefield and start fighting instead of teaching, he’s a kshatriya, you can kill him. He’s no longer a brahman. Because a brahman won’t go to the battlefield. So now he’s on the battlefield, he’s a kshatriya. He’s not a brahman anymore. You see Priyavrata. When his brother, Utanaphrata took up the throne, he just went off to the forest. He was happy in his meditation. Lord Brahma had to come and said “Hey, come back” because kshatriya’s nature duty is there, people are suffering; “ Okay, I’ll do it”. But for his own: “No I’d rather stay in the forest.” Then you see as soon as the sun is ready gone. Parchina Barhishad, as soon as the Prachetas were ready, he went. Every king. Parikiya was ready, Pandavas went. Because of that nature.
Therefore they re detached. So this idea – passionate attached, when someone’s attached -that’s ignorance. It stems from passion but if they think they’re going to get some out of that. Kshatriya has all these things. It just helps one if you have a lot of opulence people, think that this guy is really great. If the king walks in just very simple and humble, everyone will go “That’s the king?” If he comes in and says “do this or that”, then everyone “oh!”. But it’s not from self. It’s for doing that duty and you can tell it. Someone may say, it’s not for me. But you can tell it is. You can also tell, it’s not for them because it’s not. Neither they let anyone take advantage of it nor they take advantage of it. It’s used when it’s needed. And when it’s not it’s not. So it’s a very fine point.
When we look at the culture, we always want to point a finger – well this one’s fault, it’s everybody’s fault because it’s a mood. The point is like the president wants to say: “Where are the managers, the JBC should be brahmans and give us a break.” But when it comes to financial problem, manpower problems, then they should solve it themselves. Do not expect that the JBC will arrange it. And when the JBC comes and says “This is a below standard. Your temple has a below standard. It’s not clean. It’s not maintained. The sadhana is bad to your devotees”. You have to listen because they’re brahmans. So the point is the knife cuts both ways but the problem is where the expert that they have a duck logic and that’s it. And just a concept that there’s a whole duck and it’s alive. We’re used to a dead half of a duck. We’re not used to alive the whole duck. So the problem is not in the system. The problem is that we don’t want to take our part in the system. Because we have our own ideas of control, power, influence, wealth, facilities. And so that’s a great problem.
So if everybody understands where they fit and just do it will work perfectly. The head has no problems with arms. It means it picks up the food and puts it into the mouth. Heads really like food. But the mouth doesn’t mind that after chewing on it a while it swallows and it goes to the stomach. So the economic development happens in the stomach. Then they get it and distribute it. So the whole thing works very nicely. Just we accept our part – it works nice. What if the kids all the time will think: “I don’t want to be just on the bottom and just a small guy in the family. I want to be on the top. My word is as good as everybody else. I’ve got a mouth. I’ve got a modem. I’ve got a bigger modem than most GBC.” That’s not reality.
So we have to look at our place from a very detached thing and figure it out or take shelter of others who can give us that direction. So the trust has to start from something. We may say: “I don’t trust?” So it has to start from somewhere. So the whole point is you should just go and try. But that point is there. It goes all the ways, both ways. Someone who wants to be the hands of a manager and wants everyone to keep their hands off. Then whether it sinks or swims then that’s theirs. You can’t expect that the GBC has to put in money. The GBC does not put in money. When the kingdom has hard times the king doesn’t go to the Brahmans and says: “You have to arrange the money for us.” It just doesn’t function.
So the point is that I just don’t want to decide what’s happening and that’s it. When they say: “Well, my own idea is that the one that has power on the top.” It’s not. The one who has the detachment is on the top. And brahmans also work as a group because they’re individuals. But it’s not a committee and power. They get together and talk. Everybody gets the idea and they just do it. That’s the thing. You get a bunch of brahmans together doing the puja. They just know what has to be done and they just do it. They will say after the deity’s address before the darshanartik there’s the 10 things that has to happen: they have to move this, put this on, do this and that. So you may have a general thing – who does what? But it’s generally quite loose, you’ll see amongst brahmans. They don’t get that much into organization. They just know. Okay I generally do point 2 and 3. But I see also 4 and 5 has to be done now, I just do it. That’s a very different mentality. Because they just click into the mood. And they just do it. It’s a very subtle thing.
In other words brahmans have things done without having organization. Kshatriyas have to be organized. Vaishas will only organize if there’s a profit. If there’s profit I’ll do it. If there’s no profit, I won’t do it. Kshatriya – it’s religion, it’s to be done, whether there’s profit or not. Because they know if it’s done, there will be profit. From Dharma comes Artha, comes economic development. So when Dharma’s established, the society will be prosperous. Just like it said when the wife is like Lakshmi in her chastity and behavior, then the family is prosperous. Economic development is automatic. Because the mood, everything is so nice. Everybody is so satisfied. Everyone does the best. But if her mood’s bad, everybody becomes so misery. No one can do their best. So from Dharma comes Artha.
So in our approach to social development, we want solutions and we generally talk about economic solutions. To solve our economic solutions, there should be some management. But this is a vaishas approach. That’s why you’ll say the social development, circles and they also talk – well, one of the brahmans come out and get their hands dirty and grow a few carrots. Because that’s to them. If there’s no tangible material profit then there’s no benefit. But that’s why in the Vedic culture it’s approach them in a different angle. It comes from the philosophy into the Dharma, then down to Artha. That is the approach. If you establish Dharma, Artha is automatic.
I mean I didn’t hear of any financial problems up until we threw respective authority out of our movement, in the mid 80’s. Up to that time the principles are going on. They may not have been going nicely. There may have a lot of people with a lot of bad attitudes. But because they were doing what they were supposed to do there was a great opulence. And as soon as you threw out a respective authority, then the whole movement became poor.
That was what Maharaja was talking about – “The new bhakta knows everybody can say anything they want about anybody”. That situation will never prosper. Never. You can bring Covey (referring to Stephen R. Covey to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) pod or any pod you want. You will not prosper. Impossible. Because the only reason Covey’s principle work is because you do something and you make an economic profit out of that. If the person doesn’t function, you fire him. So these principles work in the business world. I guarantee you the people who are the big political leaders that run countries and that don’t read Covey these are all business managers. Because we have the idea that if you manage you’re a kshatriya. But a housewife is managing a house. It doesn’t look nice just by magic. It’s hard work going in and deciding what colors, what goes where; keep everything in its place and that. It’s a big management. So management’s an art. Kshatriyas use management as one of their major tools and they use it in a very serious way. Even just being an administrator, you can still be an administrator and be a shudra. Bureaucracy is used by kshatriyas but just being a bureaucrat doesn’t make you a kshatriya. That’s also a shudra art. How to push the papers around it’s an art. You decide, these ones are useful. These ones are not so useful. That’s an administrative art. It doesn’t make you a kshatriya. Kshatriyas we describe before is a mood. It’s a challenge and we come to that challenge.
Brahmans can manage. Though it may not be as economically wonderful. Sometimes it is if they know. like you see Shanakya. He organized and did everything for 8 years. He did heavy duty organization and management for 8 years until he got the king on the throne. And when the king was on the throne, it was safe. He was situated there, no enemies. Then he stepped back. Just like Drona. Drona could run a kingdom. He got half of Droupad’s kingdom. You never hear that he wasn’t run properly.
Yamuna Acharya was a brahman, a brahman kid. He hears about the king has a very proud puffed up, unqualified as far as culture goes but very qualified intellectually. He had a chief priest. And he was fighting, verbal fighting logic with everybody. He’s very nasty person. Yamuna Acharya heard about him and decided to go. And I think he was just a little kid. I think he was 12. He sent a message to the palace that says, “I’m willing to fight with this person. You just send somebody to pick it up.” And they thought: “Why do we have to send somebody?” if you don’t want a discussion -fine but if you want a discussion, if you’re going to talk to the Raj Guru, we expect some reciprocal. If we’ve come to defeat the Raj Guru, we expect some reciprocal respect. So then they sent the palanquin and all royal thing to bring him from the ashram and when he came, he stepped out of the palanquin, they were surprised that it was a 12 year old kid. The queen because she knew all the sciences and all that, saw the kid and this kid will win. She just knew this is the kid. When he came in and Raja Guru said: “ Ah, I don’t argue with a kid. It’s against my prestige and I argue with mature brahmans. So In other words, you’re afraid I’m going to defeat you.” Then he can’t say anything. So then they sit down and then Raja Guru said: “ Because you’re a kid, so the junior always asks the questions first”. Because asking the questions is the hard part than giving answer. So the senior is the one who gives the answer because the junior asks first. “So, you ask the questions first”.
So he says: “Okay, I have 3 questions. One is I want you to prove by shastra, that you yourself, meaning the Raj Guru, your mother is barren means that she has no children. You have to prove that the queen is unchaste and the king is a sinful man by shastra. Raj Guru is thinking, “How do I do that? I’m here, it means my mother had a child, she’s not barren and how can I say that to the king and queen. I’ll lose my head.” So he couldn’t say anything. As soon as he said the questions, the queen stood up and said “He’s the one”. And then, he said: “Wait, wait, wait. Okay, okay. Let’s go through this. Now you’ve asked these questions. Then the point came up is very nice questions but what if there’s no answers. May be he just asked some crazy questions. I mean there is a point that a fool can ask more questions than a wise man can answer. So maybe you just made these up. Let’s first see you answer them. If you answer them, then I accept defeat”. So then Yumana Acharya said: “Yes, so the first point is that, your mother is barren. It means that according to the Dharma shastras, when a woman has two children she’s known as Sumangali and she’s considered barren. Because if one dies then she has no kids. The shastras say when she has two then that’s considered that now she is like fully mother . Then he said: “As far as the queen. Since the queen, he says, that “chastise” means a girl never been associated closely with another man. So before marriage according to the shastra there’ re 7 demigods living reside in the body of the girl. That’s why kanyas or unmarried girls are considered very auspicious. Because all the demigods are residing in her. Then at the time of marriage they agreed to leave and then the husband takes over. So she’s already be associating with 7 men before she even got married. And then the 3rd question, about the king. Because he takes a 6th of the tax of the people. He takes 1/6 of their karma. Therefore he gets these sinful activities. He’s sinful”.
Then the king was defeated. He had promised to give a half of his kingdom. So Yumuna Acharya got that. He managed it expertly. So he got so involved that then his Guru later after some time said – “now it’s time to get him back”. He sent another disciple. He says “you go there and get him back.” So the disciple started to think how to get him back. He was thinking for long time and then he thought that he really liked a particular type of spinach. So that brahman, his god brother, went out and collected all the spinach, a special kind of wild spinach. It only grew in the forest. You can’t get it in the cities. He went to the back door, knocked on the cook’s door and said: “ You cook this for the king. The king will give you plenty of blessings. I know he likes this”. So the cook cooked it. Then the king ate it, liked it and he told the cook that it was very nice .And then the next day that Brahman came and gave again it. So it was lasted for 3 months. Every day he came and gave the spinach but one day he didn’t’ come. And then the spinach didn’t come and the king called the cook. “Every day you cook the spinach. Why did you cook it?” He says: “Well, to tell the truth, I don’t arrange it. There’s some sadhu who comes everyday and brings the spinach. I don’t know who he is.” The king said: “Get me that sadhu”. Of course the next day, the brahman shows up and then he gets audience with the king. He recognizes his god brother, he preaches to him and then he left. Then he gets those prayers by Yamuna Acharya “whenever I think of sense gratification I spit of a thought.
So that means the brahman who was technically called Shrikarya, means they are able to manage. They are generally in their proper position, they are the secretary to the Acharya like Sruti Dharma to Lord Caitanya. They’re the head pujaris and managers for the deities. They manage the festivals and all these kinds of things or they’re administers to the kings. So they know management. They can manage but generally they don’t. But if it needs, they can. Vaishnavas can do so many of these things because they do it for Krishna. It means a vaisha is doing a vaisha’s work for Krishna without attachment, without desire, without wanting result, without ego. What’s the difference between him doing that and a brahman doing it? It’s going to be the same result. So a brahman knows how to do it. And if it needs to do it, he’ll do it. When there’s no need he won’t do it. So therefore he could do business if it needs be. A vaisha, whether he needs it or not, he will do business. That’s the difference. So you have a very unique platform for the vaisha. It means one should find one’s own thing, but there’s emergency. And when emergency is over one actually comes back to one’s position. In other words everybody is in the boat together. Everybody has come from a bad background. As in one of the reverses in Maharaja’s class, Suta Goswami is saying: “I’m coming from biloma” – It just means low birth. But by association with devotees one can become qualified; by glorifying the Lord’s position. So by association of devotees we become qualified to actually take up a human life within the varnashram system. It means human life starts with that. Otherwise it’s not human life.