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Le blog de Maroudiji

Les grands enjeux de société et les idées qui en font la trame, avec humour, passion et gravité.

Follow up on politics, kshatriya and varnashrama. 

Emmanuel Macron, the French President, receives the Srimad-Bhagavatam from the hand of a female devotee. Politician and chief of the armed forces, he is the supreme authority in military matters.

In my last message to you on varnashrama-dharma, I stressed the importance given by Srila Prabhupada to the status of brahmanas and kshatryas. I ended it by saying: “I want to prove to you the relevance of appealing to brahmanas and ksatriyas’ qualities for resolving the problems of the world.”

When spirituality mingles with politics, it weakens. In fact, in real life, religion gets outrageously involved in politics; it is happening in India and everywhere else, as in France. And politics is more and more devoid of religious principles. So, what to do when we want a society inclined towards spiritual goals? It looks like a dog trying to bite its tail.

When the Kazi broke the mridanga, Mahaprabhu was furious and asked his devotees in town to take part in a protest against the king’s offense. So doing, he chastised him. On another occasion, soldiers were coming to imprison Srivas Thakur for his vaishnava display. Caitanya came to his rescue and promised him to see the authority. Everything will be fixed. There is nothing to worry.

Our philosophy commands to follow -strictly- the order of the spiritual master, Krishna takes care of everything. We just chant the holy Names, preach Krishna consciousness around the world and initiate brahmanas, in the way Srila Prabhupada taught us. “Strictly” is the key word here. Otherwise, this plan will not work.

In canto 7 of SB, Srila Prabhupada stresses his point about pure devotion and politics by giving the example of Prahlad Maharaj, who is an avadhutta, beyond material considerations. “Prahlāda certainly heard and recited the topics of politics and economics taught by the teachers, but he understood that political philosophy involves considering someone a friend and someone else an enemy, and thus he did not like it.” 7.3.5 And in the purport he writes: Politics involves accepting one group of men as enemies and another group as friends. Everything in politics is based on this philosophy, and the entire world, especially at the present, is engrossed in it. The public is concerned with friendly countries and friendly groups, or enemy countries and enemy groups, but as stated in Bhagavad-gītā, a learned person does not make distinctions between enemies and friends. Devotees, especially, do not create friends and enemies.”

That is highly transcendental, isn’t? Pure devotees do not distinguish between someone friends or enemies. Prabhupada left this world in 1977. We experienced in our movement plenty of things that damaged the consciousness of devotees, horrible events. Because of our naivety, children have been abused, while leaders deviated under our eyes. Secular justice had to intervene since we made no arrangements to identify right from wrong.

Conclusion: Prahlad Maharaj's conduct is not imitable. We couldn't follow “strictly” the order of the spiritual master. Our bramanical power was not enough to protect us. Caitanya Mahaprabhu or Krishna did not come to save the institution against evil forces. We must learn from 

Prema bhakti, as opposed to varnashrama

The ISKCON spiritual experience didn't go as expected. We went to chase the rhinos, but it was unsuccessful. Do we have a Plan B? Yes, the varnashrama-dharma. 

Prema bhakti, pure love of Radha and Krishna, is for the topmost devotees, paramo nirmatsaranam satam. The Bhagavatam starts by stressing this point. Krishna's pastimes with the gopis starts only in the 10th canto. Why don’t we apply the regular process and go for the rabbit, not the rhinoceros? Because liberation and pure love of God are the price of one who is serious, who “strictly” follows the order of the spiritual master. Is it not? Yes or not?

When Chaitanya Mahaprabhu met Ramananda Roy he asked him: “Recite a verse from the scriptures concerning the ultimate goal of life.” He replied: “Lord Viṣhṇu is worshiped by the proper execution of prescribed duties in the system of varṇa and ashram. There is no other way to satisfy Him. One must be situated in the institution of the four varṇas and āśramas.” (CC Madhya 8.57) Prabhupada commented by adding this: The verse comes from the Vishnu Purana. Outstanding personalities like Parasurama, Bodhāyana, Taṅka, Dramiḍa, Guhadeva, Kapardi and Bhāruci confirm this method. The Vedānta-sūtra also confirmed it. 

At this point in his life, Caitanya Mahaprabhu is a sannyasi and is displaying Srimati Radharani’s mood in separation from Krishna. He is not interested in social considerations that Ramananda Roy is proposing. Somehow or other, Mahaprabhu knows that Ramananda Roy is a paramo nirmatsarāṇāṁ satāṁ. Therefore, he is asking him to disregard varnashrama-dharma. As a sannyasi, Caitanya renounced everything and absorbed himself in prema. He likes to hear and teach love of God at its higher level, and nothing else. His consciousness was like of Prahlad Maharaj, absorbed in Vishnu without failing a moment. His torturer could cut him in pieces; he did not care. Beyond good and bad, Prahlad saw him with an equal vision: pandita sama darshina.

Srila Prabhupada preached to devotees such pure love of God. This view has prevailed in the movement. Like a sannyasi, a devotee renounces everything, even as a grihasta. He offers any moment of his life and any possessions he has to Krishna. The Bhagavad-gita confirms this: cetasa sarva-karmani, “The Sanskrit word mat-parah, writes Prabhupada, is very important in this verse.” It shows that one has no goal in life save and except acting in Krsna consciousness to satisfy Krsna.

In South France, where I arrived from Canada, there is a nice little community of devotees. Many amongst them joined the Gaudiya math after the fall of their guru in the late 80s. They impregnated their minds with Narayana Maharaj’ teachings, for example, on raganuga bhakti: always hankering to be in Vrindavan, chanting the maha mantra and focusing on the pastimes of Radha and Krishna. With faith and sincerity, I see it. They are fond of doing bhajans and kirtanas in the mood of the six goswamis and Narottam Das Thakur. As soon as the winter comes, they go to spend a few months in the holy dhamas: Vrindavan, Mayapur or Jagannath Puri. Don’t talk to them about varnashrama-dharma and virat-rupa. Neither about the stage of goodness by which devotional service starts. They don’t care being on the platform of Brahman, where joyfulness, freedom from dualities of good and bad, and devotional service are attained. The mode of goodness is not attractive enough. Jnana, sankhya, science, politic, sociology are tinged with material qualities. The gopis were not interested by these categories of knowledge. anyābhilāṣitā-śūnyaṁjñāna-karmādy-anāvṛtam. So, devotees go for the rhinoceros: ānukūlyena kṛṣṇānu-śīlanaṁ bhaktir uttamā.

In Caitanya Caritamrita it is written: “After hearing this from Ramananda Roy, Mahaprabhu, as usual, rejected it, considering it to be external devotional service.” (CC. madhya 8.66) Although it appears contradictory, some form of “pure” devotional service can be external to real pure analoyed devotional service. Therefore, Gaudya vaishnavas aspire only to the highest stage. They only hope to reconnect with their original constitution as Krishna’s servant, in the gopis' company. In Vrindavan, not Vaikunta, not Dwarka, but Vrindavan. Such achievement, however, is very rare. Ramananda Roy is not a regular devotee, he is a nitya siddha, an eternal liberated soul. As an intimate gopi in the spiritual sky, he came down to join Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's pastimes. In opposite, we are nitya baddha. It means, according to Srila Prabhupada: “ever-conditioned. Those who are in this material world they do not know when they came in touch with this material world. Neither do they know when they will be liberated. They are called nitya-baddha, ever-conditioned.” By Prabhupada and Mahaprabhu's grace, we got the chance to free ourselves from this existence after millions and millions of lives. Big difference! 

We have been taught, nevertheless, to go for the rhinoceros. And devotees keep coming back with rabbits. 

Then, Prabhupada realised that some change is needed. Abhiram prabhu talks about this moment:* The first time, several devotees were there with Srila Prabhupada. We knew that his health was getting weaker. He was talking to the devotees about his imminent departure. “I have no lamentation,” Prabhupada said. He paused for a few seconds, and then he said, “No, I have one lamentation.” A devotee asked, “Because you have not finished translating the Srīmad Bhāgavatam?” Prabhupada replied, “No, that I have not established varṇāśrama.” 

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