Chapter 17: The Varnâs'rama System and the Boat of Bhakti: the Students and the Householders
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    Welcome, Guest · RSS 2019-07-17, 9:53 PM
    Chapter 17: The Varnâs'rama System and the Boat of Bhakti: the Students and the Householders (1-2) S'rî Uddhava said: 'O Lotus-eyed One, You previously described the religious principles that are prescribed by bhakti and are respected by all varnâs'rama followers and even by those who do not follow this system. You should explain to me that process by means of which human beings executing their occupational duties by Your grace can achieve devotional service. (3-4) The religious principles by which there is the supreme happiness and of which You, as said [11.13], previously, dear Mâdhava, o Mighty-armed One, in the form of Lord Hamsa spoke to Brahmâ, will, the way they these days have been taught by You, after having ruled for such a very long time, o Subduer of the enemies, not be common any longer in human society [see also 5.6: 10 and 11.5: 36 and Kali-yuga]. (5-6) Dear Acyuta, there is no other speaker, creator and protector of dharma but You; not on earth, nor even in the assembly of Brahmâ where You're present in the form of a part of You [viz. the Vedas, see also 10.87]. When the earth is abandoned by Your lordship, o Madhusûdana, o Creator, Protector and Speaker, then who, o Lord, will speak about the knowledge that was lost? (7) Therefore, while You are still among us, please describe to me o Master, o Knower of All Dharma, who would be fit to execute the original duties that characterize Your bhakti and how they should be performed.'

    (8) S'rî S'uka said: 'He, the Supreme Lord Hari, thus pleased to be questioned by the best of His devotees, for the sake of the highest welfare of all conditioned souls spoke about the eternal duties of dharma. (9) The Supreme Lord said: 'This dharmic question of yours constitutes for normal human beings the cause of the highest welfare. Please, Uddhava, learn from Me about the duties, the way they are executed by those who observe the varnâs'rama system. (10) In the beginning there is the age of Krita wherein the human beings belong to one class that is called hamsa. The citizens of that age are by birth well known with the duties to be performed - hence do the learned know it as Krita-yuga, the age of the fulfillment of duty. (11) First of all is the [undivided] Veda expressed with the Pranava, with which I am known as duty in the form of the bull of religion [see 1.16: 18 and 1.17: 24]. With that they, who fixed in austerity are free from sins, worship Me as Lord Hamsa. (12) At the beginning of Tretâ-yuga, o greatly fortunate one, originated from the prânâ in My heart the threefold of knowing [the three Vedas Rig, Sâma and Yajur] to the occasion of which I appeared in the three forms of sacrifice [hence the name Tretâ, see ritvik]. (13) Generated from the Original Personality the learned, the warriors, the merchants and the workers [the varnas] were born and by their personal activities recognized as [respectively] being from the mouth, the arms, the thighs and legs of the universal form [compare 2.1: 37]. (14) The householders are situated in My loins, the celibate students in My heart, in My chest the ones dwelling in the forest are found and the renounced order is situated in My head [see âs'ramas]. (15) Depending the superior or inferior position that one according to one's birth occupies in My body, developed the higher and lower human nature of the people belonging to the different societal classes [varnas] and status groups [âs'ramas]. (16) Equanimity, sense-control, austerity, cleanliness, contentment, forgiveness, sincerity, devotion to Me, compassion and truthfulness are the natural qualities of the brahmins [compare 7.11: 21 and B.G. 18: 42]. (17) Ardor, physical strength, determination, heroism, tolerance, generosity, endeavor, steadiness, being mindful of the brahminical and leadership are the natural qualities of the kshatriyas [compare 7.11: 22 and B.G. 18: 43]. (18) Belief in God and dedication to charity, straightforwardness, love for the brahminical and always being busy accumulating money constitute the natural qualities of the vais'yas [compare 7.11: 23 and B.G. 18: 44]. (19) Free from duplicity to be of service for the brahmins, the cows and the godly and to be perfectly contented with the earnings are the natural qualities of the s'ûdras [compare 7.11: 24 and B.G. 18: 44]. (20) To be unclean, deceitful, thievish, faithless, quarrelsome, lusty, fiery and of constant hankering constitutes the nature of those occupying the lowest position [the outcastes]. (21) For all the members of society it is the duty to be of nonviolence, truthfulness and honesty, to be free from lust, anger and greed and to desire the welfare and happiness of all living entities.

    (22) When he in due order [with samskâras] begins a new life with performing his duties [ends his karma, sins no more and usually with initiation into the Gâyatrî receives the sacred thread], someone twice born should, residing in the spiritual community of the guru, with his senses under control follow the precept to study the scriptures [see also B.G. 16: 24]. (23) With a belt, a deerskin [or these days: simple clothes], a staff [or other means of transport], prayer beads, a brahmin thread, a waterpot, matted hair [devotees these days are shaven], with teeth well maintained and clothes properly covering [*] is he [the brahmacârî], carrying kus'a [being of the prayer mat], not after the highest seat. (24) Bathing and eating, attending sacrifices and doing the rosary, passing stool and urine, he does in silence [Vaishnavas do murmur with japa]; he should not [completely, these days] cut his nails or hair, including the hair under his arms and in the pubic area [see also s'ikhâ]. (25) Someone of the vow of celibacy should never spill his semen and, when it flowed of its own, take a bath, control his breath and chant the Gâyatrî [see also ûrdhva-retah]. (26) Purified with the consciousness fixed in respect for the fire-god, the sun [see cakra], the cows, the learned, the spiritual master, the elderly and the godfearing, should he, observing silence, do japa at the two junctions of time [morning and evening, compare: 11.14: 35]. (27) The teacher of example [the âcârya] one should know to be Me. The âcârya should never at any time enviously be disrespected with the notion of him being a mortal being, for the guru is the representative of all the gods [see also rule of thumb and compare e.g. 7.14: 17, 10.81: 39, 10.45: 32 and 11.15: 27]. (28) In the evening and morning one should bring him the food that was collected and offer it to him together with other articles. Being of self-restraint one should be pleased to accept what is allotted [by him]. (29) Always engaged in serving the âcârya one should humbly at not too great a distance with folded hands prove one's respect for his path, his resting, his sitting and his standing. (30) Thus engaged he should [the upakurvâna brahmacârî], free from [unregulated] sense gratification, carry on unbroken in the vow [of celibacy], living in the school of the guru until the education is completed [see also Kumâras]. (31) If he [naishthhika, for life] desires to climb up to the world of the verses [Maharloka] in order to be engaged in the Absolute Truth he should for the purpose studying the True Self offer his body to the guru with respect for the great vow [see yama]. (32) Vedically enlightened and sinless one should worship Me in the fire, in the spiritual master, in oneself and in all living beings as the Supreme Non-dual Conception [see also B.G. 5: 18, siddhânta and advaita]. (33) With [sexually receptive] women - or sex-minded living beings - glancing, touching, conversing and joking and such is the first thing that someone not running a household [who is not married: the sannyâsî, the vânaprastha and the brahmacârî] should forsake [see 11.14: 29 and 6.1: 56-68]. (34-35) Cleanliness, washing one's hands, bathing, in the morning and evening, being of religious service, worshiping Me, visiting holy places, doing the rosary, avoiding things untouchable, things not fit for consumption and things not to discuss - this all constitutes the voluntary penance that with Me, I who reside within all beings, in order to restrain the mind, the words and the body is enjoined for all spiritual departments [âs'ramas], o Uddhava. (36) A brahmin thus observing the great vow becomes bright like fire My spotless devotee of whom the karma was burned by the intensity of the penance. (37) Thus properly having studied the vedic literatures he should [as a brahmacârî], care for what's next [see next paragraph], offer the guru remuneration, tidy himself and leave [**] with his permission.

    (38) He should found a family or else live in the forest [becoming a recluse] or, belonging to the best of the twice-born [the brahmins], become a mendicant. For someone who didn't surrender to Me there is no alternative but to move systematically from one spiritual department to the next âs'rama. (39) Desiring a household one should marry a wife with similar qualities who is beyond reproach and younger in age. With the first wife of the same vocation may follow another one [of a lower class or caste]. (40) Sacrifice, vedic study and charity are the activities of all the twice-born, but only the brahmins practice the acceptance of charity, teaching vedic knowledge and officiating in sacrifices [compare 7.11: 14]. (41) When an intellectual [a brahmin] considers the acceptance of charity as detrimental to his penance, spiritual stature and glory, he must subsist on the other two [of teaching and sacrifice] or, when he considers these two as incompatible with his spirituality, subsist on gathering ears of corn left behind in the field ['of the stones', live on the dole, see also 6.7: 36, 7.15: 30 and B.G. 9: 22]. (42) Certain is that the embodiment of a brahmin is meant for the hardship of [voluntary] penances in this world to find unlimited happiness in the hereafter and not for futile sense gratification [and the consequent involuntary penances of war, disease and incarceration, see also 11.6: 9 and B.G. 17: 14-19]. (43) Perfectly contented in being occupied with gleaning grains and magnanimously, free from passion cultivating dharma, can, even staying at home, the one who turned his mind to Me - and is thus not that attached - achieve liberation [compare B.G. 3: 22 and 10.69]. (44) Those who uplift the learned as well as the ones who having surrendered to Me are suffering [poverty and disease], will by Me, like with a boat in the ocean, very soon be delivered from all miseries. (45) Like a bull elephant who fearlessly protects himself and other elephants, protects the king himself by saving, just like a father, all citizens from difficulties [see also 4.20: 14]. (46) Thus the human ruler, who on earth removes all sins, enjoys heaven, together with Indra riding a heavenly vehicle as brilliant as the sun. (47) When a learned person is indebted the calamity must be overcome by doing business in behaving like a merchant, or else, still afflicted with misfortune, he must take up the sword [go in politics]. In no case can he behave like a dog [follow a lower master]. (48) A king suffering want may maintain himself acting like a merchant, or do so by means of hunting or by stepping forward as a man of learning. Under no condition may he follow the course of a dog. (49) A vais'ya may adopt the business of a s'ûdra and a s'ûdra may adopt the way of an artisan, making baskets and mats to deal with an awkward situation, but freed one must not desire the work of such an inferior livelihood [see also 7.11: 17]. (50) According to one's prosperity one should daily be of respect for the manifestations of My potency - the gods, the sages, the forefathers and all living entities - by vedic study and by offerings of food and such accompanied by [the mantras] svadhâ ['blessed be'] and svâhâ ['hail to', this rule thus applies to normal householders, see also 11.5: 41]. (51) Unembarrassed with one's dependents whether one is of money acquired without endeavor or of money acquired by honest work, one should be of proper respect with the help of vedic rituals. (52) One should not be attached to family members, nor go crazy [in being the controller]; nay, a wise person should see that things that lay ahead are just as temporary as matters that have happened. (53) The association of children, a wife, relatives and friends is like the being together with travelers; like a dream occurring in one's sleep are they all separated with each change of body [see also 7.2: 21, 9.19: 27-28]. (54) With that conviction a liberated soul who doesn't identify with the body and lives selflessly at home like a guest, will not get entangled in the domestic situation. (55) When one with the activities of a family life worships Me, may one as a devotee remain at home or enter the forest, or also, given responsible offspring, take to the renounced order. (56) Someone fixed on women however and whose consciousness is perturbed by the desire for a home, children and money, is in his bondage unintelligently with a miserly mentality thinking 'I am that and this is mine'. (57) 'O my poor old mom and dad, my wife with a baby in her arms and my young, unprotected children! How in the world can they live when they wretched have to suffer greatly, missing me?' [see e.g. also 11.7: 52-57]. (58) Thus will, with his home as his retreat, such a one, with his heart overwhelmed unsated ruminating about them, with a wrong point of view blinded land in darkness when he dies.'