To maintain the peace and prosperity of the whole worldly social order, you must create a class of men very intelligent, a class of men very expert in administration, a class of men very expert in production, and a class of men to work.
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Spiritual Communism

Talks with Professor Kotovsky in Moscow on Varnashram Dharma

by His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Founder-Acharya of the world-wide Hare Krishna Movement, Brahma Sampradaya Acharya

Srila Prabhupada

Conversation with Professor Kotovsky, Moscow, 22 June 1971

In 1971, during his historic visit to the Soviet Union, Srila Prabhupada was introduced to Professor Grigoriy Kotovsky, head of the India Department at the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences and chairman of the Indian studies department at the University of Moscow. As they sat informally in Dr. Kotovsky's office, the spiritual leader and the communist scholar vigorously discussed topics of mutual concern, and Srila Prabhupada proposed a radical reformation of the communist system.


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Srila Prabhupada in MoscowPrabhupada: Modern sociology is targeting the state or the people as the owner of a certain state, but our Vedic conception is ishavasyam idam sarvam [Ishopanishad mantra 1]: "Everything is owned by Isha, the Supreme Controller." Tena tyaktena bhunjitha: "What is given by Him, allotted to you, you enjoy that." Ma gridhah kasya svid dhanam: "But do not encroach upon others' property." This is Ishopanishad, Vedas. And the same idea is explained in different Puranas ...

The other day I was reading in the... that paper, Moscow News, there was a congress, Communist congress, and the president declared that "We are ready to get others' experience to improve." So I think the Vedic concept of socialism or communism will much improve the idea of communism. Just like we are thinking in terms of human beings, in the socialistic state, that "Nobody should starve. Everyone must have his food." And in the Vedic conception of grihastha, householder, it is recommended there that a householder shall see that even a lizard living in the room or even a snake living in that house should not starve. They should be also given food. And what to speak of others? The grihastha, before taking his lunch, he is recommended to stand on the road and declare that "If anybody is still hungry, please come. Food is ready." Then, if there is no response, then the proprietor of the household life, he takes his lunch. In this way there are so many good concept about this socialistic idea of communism. So I thought that these ideas might have been distributed to some of your thoughtful men. Therefore I was anxious to speak with you.

Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, you know, what is interesting... As it is here in our country, with our great interest in the history of old, old god, from this point of view our institute translated into Russian and published many, I may say, literary monuments of great Indian culture. I will have a pleasure to present you a copy of a booklet which was written here by me and my colleagues. It's account of Soviet studies of India. And here there is chapter, chapter second, "Studies of Ancient Indian Texts in the U.S.S.R.. ." You'll be interested to discover, we published not all but some, some in exceptions, Puranas. We published most of them, then some parts of Ramayana, eight volumes in Russian, Mahabharata...

Prabhupada: Now, amongst these Puranas, the Srimad-Bhagavatam is called the Maha-purana.

Prof. Kotovsky: Maha-purana.

Prabhupada: Yes. So we have translated in English the full, with the original Sanskrit text, its transliteration, an English equivalent for each word, then translation, and then purport, explanation of the verse. In this way there are 18,000's of verses in Srimad-Bhagavatam. And the acharyas, the great saintly sages who are the preachers of this Bhagavatam throughout India, their opinion is that it is the ripened fruit of the Vedic desire tree. Nigama-kalpa-taror galitam phalam idam. [Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.1.3]: "O expert and thoughtful men, relish Srimad-Bhagavatam the mature fruit of the desire tree of Vedic literatures."] And it is accepted by all, I mean, Indian scholars, and especially Lord Chaitanya, He preached this Bhagavata. So we have got that, complete in English translation. If you want to see some of them, we can show you...

Prof. Kotovsky: In Leningrad now we have now a branch of our institute dealing mainly...

Prabhupada: Yes.

Prof. Kotovsky: ...with the history of Asiatic culture...Here is a sample account of our book. You will find here some account of what has been translated and what else is being done in the history of Indian philosophy, and now with this Indian philosophy, history of Indian religion, and now with this Indian... what is Hinduism now, just now in India also. It is very simple account of...

Prabhupada: Hinduism is a very complex term. [laughs]

Prof. Kotovsky: Oh, yes, Hinduism. It is not all... It is really... To my understanding it is not religion from European point of view. It is a really a way of life...

Prabhupada: Yes.

Prof. Kotovsky: ...religion, Indian, a way of philosophy, a way of life, a religion, everything...

Prabhupada: No, this Hinduism, Hindu, this word, is not a Sanskrit word. It is given by the Mohammedans. You know there is a river, Indus, which is... Sanskrit name is Sindhu. Sindhu.

Prof. Kotovsky: Yes. Oh, yes, yes, yes.

Prabhupada: These Mohammedans, they pronounce "S" as "H." "Hindus," "Hindus." Instead of [sic:] "Hindus," they made it "Hindus." So Hindu is a term which is not found in the Sanskrit dictionary.

Prof. Kotovsky: Yes.

Prabhupada: But it has come into use. But the real cultural institution is called varnashrama, four varnas and four ashramas: brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya, shudra—these four varnas-and brahmachari, grihastha, vanaprastha, and sannyasa. So according to Vedic concept of life, unless people take to this system or institution of varna and ashrama, four varnas and four ashramas, actually he does not become a civilized human being. One has to take this process, four divisions of varnas and four... four divisions of social order and four divisions of spiritual order. That is called varnashrama. So India's culture is based on these four, eight system, varna and ashrama.

Prof. Kotovsky: Varnashrama.

Prabhupada: Varna, varnashrama. And in the Bhagavad-gita—perhaps you have read Bhagavad- gita—there is also the statement, chatur-varnyam maya srishtam [Bhagavad-gita 4.13]. It is... This system is created originally by Vishnu. So as everything is creation of the Supreme, they cannot be changed. That is a prevalent everywhere, like the Sun. Sun is creation of the Supreme. So sunshine is here in America, in Russia, in India—everywhere. Similarly, this varnashrama system is prevalent everywhere in some form or other. Just like the brahmanas. The brahmanas means the most intelligent class of men, brain, brain of the society. Then the kshatriyas, the administrator class. Then the vaishyas, the productive class, and the shudras, the worker class. These four classes of men are everywhere present in different names. And because it is creation by the original creator, so it is prevalent everywhere, varnashrama-dharma.

Prof. Kotovsky: But you know, what is interesting to... It is the opinion of some European and old, old Russian scholars, this varnashrama system...

Prabhupada: Yes.

Prof. Kotovsky:...is a bit late creation. If you would trace the old sutras, texts, of Vedic literature, you would find much more simple and egalitarian society. And there is an opinion that this varnashrama system was introduced into Indian society on the late stage of Vedic era but not from the beginning, about... If you would analyze scientifically the old texts, you'll find that... [break]....about the duration of this period because unfortunately the old classic India we have not so much information.

Prabhupada: But so far... So far we are concerned, this Bhagavad-gita... It is mentioned in the Bhagavad-gita, chatur-varnyam maya srishtam [Bhagavad-gita 4.13]. Now, this Bhagavad-gita was spoken five thousand years ago, and in the Bhagavad-gita it is said that "This system of Bhagavad-gita was first spoken by Me to the Sun-god." So if you take estimation of that period, it comes forty millions of years. So whether the European scholars can trace out the history of at least for five thousand years together, not to speak of forty millions?

Prof. Kotovsky: Yes.

Prabhupada: So we have got evidences that his varnashrama system is current at least for the five thousand years, varnashrama system. And this varnashrama system is mentioned in the Vishnu Purana also. Varnashrama charavata purushena parah puman [Chaitanya-charitamrita Madhya 8.58] [Vishnu Purana 3.8.9]. Varnashrama acharavata. So that is stated in the Vishnu Purana. And so varnashrama -dharma is not a... within any historical period calculated in the modern age.

It is natural. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam the comparison is given, just like in your body, in my body, there are four divisions: the face, facial, or the brain division, and the arms division, the belly division, and the leg division. Similarly, by nature's way these four divisions are existing in the social body. You may take history wherever you begin, but this is existing. A class of men, they are considered to be brain. A class of men, they are considered to be the arms, administrators. And a class of men, they are called productive class. So there is no need of tracing the history. It is naturally existing from the day of creation.

Prof. Kotovsky: According to so many... You have just told that in any society there are four divisions, but the case is not so easy to distinguish. For instance, one can group, one can group, group together, different social classes and professional groups into four divisions in any society. There's no difficulty. Only difficulty, for instance, in socialist society of our country and a socialist society how can you distinguish productive group and workers?

Prabhupada: Just like you belong to the intelligent class of men.

Prof. Kotovsky: Intelligent, yes, so...

Prabhupada: So this is a division.

Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, intelligent class, for instance, brahmanas, if you can put together also with intelligentsia under the brahmanas...

Prabhupada: Yes.

Prof. Kotovsky: Then administrative staff...

Prabhupada: Yes.

Prof. Kotovsky: ...everywhere.

Prabhupada: Kshatriya.

Prof. Kotovsky: From top to... From top to collective farm, for instance, is kshatriyas. But who would be here vaishya and who shudra? That is the difficulty because all others will be workers—factory workers, collective farm workers and so on. So from this point of view...

Prabhupada: From this point of view...

Prof. Kotovsky: ...there is a great distinction, in my opinion, between socialist society and all societies preceding socialist because in a modern western society you can group all social professions, classes, for instance, practically, very conditionally, you know, at least you can, the brahmanas, kshatriyas... Excuse me... Then this vaishya, this productive class, is owners...

Prabhupada: That is...

Prof. Kotovsky: ...of the means of production...

Prabhupada: Yes.

Prof. Kotovsky: ...these factory owners, for instance.

Prabhupada: Yes.

Prof. Kotovsky: And the shudras are workers, menial workers. But here you have no vaishyas from this point of view because you have administrative staff... In fact, there is administrative staff. You can call them kshatriyas. And then shudras, that's workers themselves. But not this intermediate class.

Prabhupada: That is stated, kalau shudra-sambhavah: "In this age practically all men will be shudras." That is... That is predicted. But if there are simply shudras, then the social order will be destroyed. You... Just like in spite of your state of shudras, a brahmana is found here. And that is necessity. So if you do not divide the social order in such a way, then there will be chaos. That is the scientific estimation of the Vedas. You may... You may belong for the time being to the shudra class, but to maintain the social order you have to train some of the shudras to become brahmana, some of the shudras to become kshatriyas. You cannot depend on the shudras. Then there will be chaos. Neither you can depend only on brahmana. Just like to fulfill the necessities of your body there must be a portion called the brain, there must be a portion called the arms, there must be a portion called the stomach, or the belly, and there must be a portion which is called the leg. The leg is also required, the brain is also required, the arm is also required—for cooperation, to fulfill the mission of the whole body. So any... any society you conceive, unless there are these four divisions, there will be chaos. It will be... not be properly, I mean to say, going on, smoothly going on. There will be some disturbance. Brain must be there.

So at the present moment there is scarcity of brain. I am not talking of your state or my state. I am taking the world as it is. The brain... Formerly the Indian administration was going on in monarchy. Just like this picture. This picture is a kshatriya king. Before his death he renounced his, I mean to say, royal order and he came to the forest to hear about self-realization. So if you want to maintain the peace and prosperity of the whole worldly social order, you must create a class of men very intelligent, a class of men very expert in administration, a class of men very expert in production, and a class of men to work. That is required. You cannot avoid it. That is the Vedic conception. Mukha-bahuru-padebhyah. They say, mukha... Mukha means the face. Bahu means the arm. Uru means this... this [indicates stomach] or waist. And pada. So anywhere, either you take this state or that state —doesn't matter—unless there is a smooth, systematic establishment of these four orders of life, the state or the society will not go very smoothly.

Prof. Kotovsky: Generally it seems to me that this old varnashrama system to some extent practiced the nature of division of labor in ancient society. So now division of labor among people in any society is much more complicated and sophisticated. So it would be very...

Prabhupada: Not complicated.

Prof. Kotovsky: ...conditionally [?] to group them in four classes because...

Prabhupada: The... the confusion, confusion has come into existence because in India in later days the son of a brahmana, without having the brahminical qualification, claimed to be brahmana, and others, out of superstition or traditional way, they were accepted as brahmana. Therefore the Indian social order has disrupted. But our, this Krishna consciousness movement, we are picking up from everywhere brahmanas, everywhere, because the world needs the brain of a brahmana. Just like here, Maharaja Parikshit, although he was a monarch, he had a body of learned sages and brahmanas to consult, advisory body. It is not that the monarchs were independent. In the history it is found that some of the monarchs were not in order. They were dethroned by the brahminical advisory committee. Although the brahmanas, they did not take part in politics, but they would give advice to the monarch how to, I mean to say, execute the royal function. Just like not, not very old, very, say, about... What is the age of, I mean to say, Ashoka? Say about thousands of years ago.

Prof. Kotovsky: As we call from our... In our terminology we call, in ancient and medieval India...

Prabhupada: Med... Yes. In medieval India.

Prof. Kotovsky: ...and old and feudal India, you are right, this was very often. And from brahmanas the major part of height is [?] religious stuff [?] [rigid stock] in religious department [?]. Even Mogul emperors, there were brahmanas who advised modern Mogul emperors...

Prabhupada: Yes.

Prof. Kotovsky: ...in administration...

Prabhupada: Yes.

Prof. Kotovsky: ...and such like.

Prabhupada: Our predecessor acharya, Rupa Gosvami, he was finance minister in the Mohammedan government. He was. When he resigned, the Nawab was not very satisfied, that "I cannot relieve you because you are my right hand man. If you resign all of a sudden in this way, then I shall arrest you." There is a long history. So that's a fact. The brahmanas were kept [as] advisory committee of the king... Now, as I was going to speak, the latest Hindu king, Chandragupta...is the age of Alexander the Great because a little before Chandragupta, Alexander the Great from Greece, they went to India and conquered some portion. So this Chandragupta, when he became emperor, he had his prime minister, Chanakya. Perhaps you heard this name, Chanak... Cha-na-kya.

Prof. Kotovsky: Chanakya. Oh, yes.


Prabhupada: Yes. He was a great politician, brahmana. And under whose name in New Delhi all the foreign embassies, they are flocked together. Yes. It is called Chanakya Puri.

Prof. Kotovsky: Hm hm. Chanakya Puri, yes, I know.

Prabhupada: So this Chanakya Pandita was a great politician and brahmana. And as brahmana, he was vastly learned. He has got some moral instruction. They're very valuable, still going on. In India school children are taught. So this Chanakya Pandita, although he was prime minister, he maintained his brahminical spirit. He was not accepting any salary, yes, because for brahmanas to accept salary, it is understood that he becomes a dog. That is stated in the Srimad-Bhagavatam. He can advise, but he cannot accept. So he was living in a cottage, but he was prime minister. So this brahminical culture, the brahminical brain, is the standard of Vedic civilization... So many things they're changing. But before this modern age the whole Hindu society was being governed by Manu-smriti.

Prof. Kotovsky: In all periods in India...

Prabhupada: Manu-smriti. Now they are changing so many. Strictly speaking, the modern Hindus, they are not strictly according to the Hindu scripture.

Prof. Kotovsky: Oh, yes.

Prabhupada: No. They are not... So our point is, we are not going to bring back the old type of Hindu society. It is not that.

Prof. Kotovsky: It is impossible.

Prabhupada: It is impossible. Our idea is that best ideas from the original idea. Just like in the Bhagavata there is a description of communistic idea, and it is being described to Maharaja Yudhisthira. So if there is something good, good experience, why it should not be adopted? That is our point of view... In the modern civilization the ultimate goal, aim, is sense gratification. That's all. Beyond that, they do not know anything more. They do not know what is next life. There is no department of knowledge or science, scientific department, to study what is there after life, after finishing this body. That is a great, I mean to say, department of knowledge...

Prof. Kotovsky: ... What I am most interested in is, for instance, not a student but a young worker or a young son of a farmer—he would abstain from his old life and he would be initiated and join your community into a given center. How he would entertain himself?... Would he be paid to stay in that center?

Prabhupada: ... This propaganda is meant for creating some brahmanas all over the world because the brahmana element is lacking, so one who seriously comes to us, he has to become a brahmana. So he has to adopt the occupation of a brahmana, and he has to give up the occupation of a kshatriya or a shudra.

But if one wants to keep his profession, at the same time wants to understand also, that is allowed. Just like we have many professors. There is Howard Wheeler, professor of Ohio University. He's my disciple. So he is continuing his professorship. But whatever money he's getting, almost he's spending for our, this Krishna consciousness. For grihasthas, those who are householders living outside, they are expected to contribute fifty per cent of the income for the society, twenty-five per cent for the family, and twenty-five per cent for his personal emergency. After all, in this world, if we live... So far we are concerned, we are sannyasi, but you are a professor. If there is some emergency, you cannot go to beg. But I am a sannyasi

So we have got four orders. Just like he's brahmachari, and he's grihastha. He has got his wife, children. So he's a grihastha. He's a brahmachari. Similarly, there is sannyasi. So that is Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's teaching. It doesn't matter whether one is a grihastha, householder, or renounced order or a brahmachari or a brahmana or shudra. It doesn't matter. If anyone understands the science of Krishna, he becomes the spiritual master. The exact word is, in Bengali:

kiba vipra, kiba nyasi, shudra kene naya
yei krishna-tattva-vetta, sei 'guru' haya
[Chaitanya-charitamrita Madhya 8.128]
"Whether one is a brahmana, a sannyasi or a shudra—regardless of what he is—he can become a spiritual master if he knows the science of Krishna."

Anyone who understands the science of Krishna, he can become...

Prof. Kotovsky: Guru.

Prabhupada: ...the spiritual master.

Prof. Kotovsky: I understand. But in generally, by creating brahmanas from different social classes of society, really you deny the old prescription of Hindu script. Because according to old script, the Puranas, etc., every member of one of the four classes, these varnas...

Prabhupada: Yes.

Prof. Kotovsky: ...is to be born inside it...

Prabhupada: No, no, no.

Prof. Kotovsky: ...but not appointed.

Prabhupada: No, no, no, no. No, no, no.

Prof. Kotovsky: This is the major...

Prabhupada: No, no... I am sorry...

Prof. Kotovsky: ...foundation of all the varnas.

Prabhupada: You are not speaking correctly... With great respect I beg to submit, you are, that you are not speaking correctly. In the Bhagavad-gita it is stated, chatur-varnyam maya sristham guna-karma-vibhagashah : [Bhagavad-gita 4.13] "These four orders of brahmana, kshatriya, vaishya, shudra is created by Me according to quality and work." There is no mention of birth. There is no mention of birth.

Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, I agree with you that this was addition of late brahmanas who tried to...

Prabhupada: No, that, that has killed the Indian culture. You see? Otherwise there was no necessity of division of this Pakistan. Not only that, from history, perhaps you know, this whole planet was Bharatavarsha, and it was controlled by one flag up to Maharaja Parikshit. Gradually they separated, separated. This is the history. And lately, they have separated Pakistan. So Bharatavarsha is now crippled into a small piece of land. Otherwise... according to our scripture, Vedic scripture, this whole planet is called Bharatavarsha...

Prof. Kotovsky: Have you come across some hostile attitude to your teaching from orthodox Hindu, from orthodox brahmanas in India itself?

Prabhupada: But rather, we have subdued them.

Prof. Kotovsky: Ah, yes.

Prabhupada: ...Any orthodox Hindu may come, but we have got our weapons, Vedic evidences. So nobody has come...

Prof. Kotovsky: And how many disciples you have in India itself? From three thousand, how many members of your community you have in India itself?

Prabhupada: In India?

Prof. Kotovsky: Yes.

Prabhupada: And India, there are many Krishna conscious persons, hundred thousands, millions. India, there is no question. There is not a single Hindu who is not Krishna conscious.

Prof. Kotovsky: Yes, I understand, but this, especially, specifically...

Prabhupada: Vaishnava. This is called Vaishnava cult. The Vaishnavas, as you know—you have been in India—there are many millions of Vaishnavas.

Prof. Kotovsky: Oh, yes.

Prabhupada: Many millions of Vaishnavas and... Just like this gentleman. He is a commander of the Air, India Air Lines. So he's not my disciple, but he's a Vaishnava, Krishna conscious. Similarly, in India millions and trillions there are, Krishna conscious persons. And practically there is not a single... Even there are Mohammedans who are Krishna conscious. In Allahabad University there is a Mohammedan professor. He's a great devotee of Lord Krishna.

So this is natural. It is said in the Chaitanya-charitamrita that Krishna consciousness is everywhere, in everyone's heart. It has to be awakened only by this process. That's all. It is there in your heart also. It is not that it is foreign to you. It is not that. In everyone's heart, there is Krishna consciousness. By this process we have to awaken that. Shravanadi shuddha chitte karaye udaya. [From Chaitanya-charitamrita Madhya 22.107: "Pure love for Krishna is eternally established in the hearts of living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, the living entity naturally awakens."] Udaya. You know this word udaya. Just like sun rises. It is not that sun all of a sudden comes from somewhere. It is there, but it rises in the morning. Similarly, this Krishna consciousness is everywhere, but some way or other, it is now covered. By this process it is awakened and aroused, by association... The other day...in Bombay, I think, I was speaking some respectable gentlemen that "Krishna says:

mam hi partha vyapashritya
ye 'pi syuh papa-yonayah
striyo vaishyas tatha shudras
te 'pi yanti param gatim
[Bhagavad-gita 9.32]

Krishna says, "Even those who are low-born, papa-yoni—the striya, vaishya and shudra, they are also included—but by accepting Me, accepting my shelter, they are also elevated to the transcendental position." Now, why the higher class of Hindu society, they neglected this injunction of Bhagavad-gita? Suppose one is papa-yoni. Krishna says that "They can be elevated to the transcendental position if they accept Me." Why this propaganda was not done by the higher class people so that the so-called papa-yoni could be elevated? Why you rejected them? The result was that the Mohammedans... Instead of accepting them, you rejected them, and they have partitioned, and they have gone away, and they have become eternal enemy of India. You see?

So this is the first time that we are trying to elevate to the highest position of Krishna consciousness, even one is in the papa-yoni. It doesn't matter because soul is pure. Asango 'yam purushah. The Vedas says, "The soul is untouched by any material contamination." Simply, temporarily, he is covered. This covering should be opened. Then he becomes pure. That is the mission of human life, to uncover ourselves from this material envelopment and come to the spiritual understanding, surrender to Krishna.


Spiritual Communism—Talks with Professor Kotovsky in Moscow/ WORLD SANKIRTAN PARTY
©2004 - Hansadutta das
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