Çré Çré Guru-Gauräìga Jayatah
The Rise And Fall of The Western brähmin
What Çréla Prabhupäda gave to the Western world was complete, true, and pure. Every action of this great spiritual master and true brähmin should be understood as having been perfect. This is why he was fit to create a real Vedic culture and process, one based upon the principle of the perfection of a human being culminating in the spirit soul's liberation from the bondage of this world. In every way, he fulfilled the orders and interest of his guru mahäräj and socially integrated a bhakti-modified version of varëäçrama-dharma into the modern (and now post-modern) democratic-republics of the Western world.
Social Integration in the Post-Modern Democratic Republic
In this world, the current system of social integration is loosely based upon the principles of the Greek, democratic, political process. This kind of democracy has proliferated throughout the world and is now the most popular system of government, fulfilling the desires and interests of its citizens in terms of social integration. However, despite its improvements, great social injustices and misgivings are experienced throughout the West.
We, as individuals, come together within a mass society (of other individuals) in order to seek success for ourselves, as well as to secure common goals. In a democracy, the main purpose of social integration is always the individual's interest, and the individual is only interested in other individuals to the extent that it suits his own self-interest. In some cases, an individual may put the interest of the society (or another individual) above his own, but these cases are rare, especially in this post-modern democratic version.
The ultimate ideal of a Western democratic society is to align all of its individuals and their interests within a political structure where everyone has some power delegated to direct society toward social success for the common good; this paradigm would also guard against social injustices. Yet, in a democratic society, the ideal of an individual putting social or other greater interests ahead of own is usually not paramount, but it is also unacceptable for any individual to put his own interest above that of any other individual. The interests of all the people in a democracy, in theory, should be equal, facilitating complete social integration.
The current post-modern democracies are more like republics, operating in a democratic spirit. Political structures, such as senates or houses of representatives, are elected by the mass of voters to represent the interest of society at large. These elected representatives of the greater social interest are the leaders of all the individuals, and are supposed to facilitate social integration, i.e., their interests are supposed to be to ensure the interest of all.
These points are somewhat crucial, as the leaders in the current system have been delegated greater power in order to represent the common interest of the group. This republican arrangement is quite different from the original system of democracy, the Greek prototype. The post-modern democratic republic has become the current prototype for our social integration, yet its principles and ideals seem to continually develop more toward a kind of a neo-socialist dictatorship. As a friend of mine once said of democracy in America, "The idea is great; the execution is horrible."
In the Vedic paradigm, saìga refers to social integration, and deça-käla refers to the time-space continuum, while asat signifies that everything in nature (prakåti) is temporary. The Vedic paradigm centers around all the components of social integration working together to enable mukti or liberation for the individual from the deça-käla of prakåti. The supreme individual here is an all-powerful entity in full control of the whole arrangement and also full with complete opulences. He is the Supreme Lord. He delineates, through a Vedic paradigm, a political structure and spiritual institution that can function within the deça-käla, and it is known as varëäçrama, viz., the four social orders and four spiritual orders.
His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda did not establish the Vedic prototype of varëäçrama but instead established a bhakti-modified version of it, the goal of which was to develop Western brähmins. That was his particular saìga. In the Vedic teachings, individuals are defined eternally as jévätmä, spirit selves, and they make up the saìga within varëäçrama-dharma in order to eventually secure what is called prayojana, which is defined as the goal. This goal is mukti, the state of complete happiness.
Liberation (mukti) is revealed by the arrangement of the supreme individual entity and controller, Lord Çré Kåñëa (paraà brahman). The agenda and interest of every individual self or jévätmä is dove-tailed to the interest of the paraà brahman, the greatest individual entity possessing complete and pure consciousness, Lord Hari.
The efficiency of the social integration is then defined by the ability of any given saìga to secure the prayojana. The Vedic paradigm clarifies, through ultimate transcendental realization, that the happiness of the jévätmä is intrinsically dependent upon securing mukti from the asat of saàsära, repeated birth and death of the gross bodies temporarily possessed of the soul; this is what makes mukti the prayojana of the Vedic scheme of social integration.
Sanätana Dharma and Varëäçrama-dharma
Interface between and amongst individuals is meant for securing their interest, which is personal happiness. Their ultimate happiness cannot be obtained without first getting relief from all forms of misery, and that relief is mukti (sometimes, also called mokña). Mukti is intrinsic to the agenda of the Paramätmä, the Supreme Self accompanying the ätmä, the individual self. As such, the agenda of the transcendental Veda, which is the scripture of the Vedic paradigm, culminates in mukti.
Both the Veda and the Paramätmä are sat (eternal) and nirguëa (unaffected by the material modes, which constitute the deça-käla of prakåti). Thus, a transcendental agenda of an eternal social and political structure, unaffected by the temporary nature of this world and with its ultimate goal of mukti for each individual, is integral to what is known as sanätana-dharma, a special variety of which was brought to the West by His Divine Grace Çréla Prabhupäda. That sanätana-dharma is the highest octave of the aforementioned varëäçrama-dharma, just as the Vaiñëava scriptures are the essence of the Veda.
The leaders of this system are defined by the goal, just as to say that, to run a society directed toward mukti, you have to be able to provide full capacity leading to that goal. To lead to a place you haven’t been is, in essence, completely mis-leading. As such, in a fully-potent Vedic society, the leaders must be muktas, i.e., they must be liberated and possess transcendental knowledge in full, along with realized experience as to how to become a jévan-mukta, one who is still manifest physically but is completely liberated.
In the true sense of the term, this jévan-mukta is the real brähmin, which means that he is the real spiritual master. Such a brähmin could lead an entire Vedic civilization, as he has full knowledge of that civilization's greatest interest and how to obtain it. Anything less than a jévan-mukta would eventually prove to be insufficient.
When the interest of each individual in a society is the same, that singularity of purpose acutely narrows the direction its leaders will take it. A Vedic saìga whose prayojana is mukti needs fuly-realized brähmins, who have total knowledge of its prayojana and are completely focused on that alone. Anything less will ultimately become a disturbance and an obstacle for any of the saìga's individuals to secure the prayojana. Compromised brähmins are not actually fit to lead a Vedic civilization (or any society) practicing a standard version of varëäçrama-dharma or a special version of bhagavad-dharma, one which is meant primarily to produce realized brähmins for society at large.
The first actual sun to rise on the Western shores of the United States came in the form of a fully self-realized jévan-mukta brähmin known as His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedänta Swämi Prabhupäda. Liberated muktas may have came before and entertained some limited cross-sections of Western society with no real result, but, in the modern (and now, post-modern) times, the greatest brähmin to grace the West was Çréla Prabhupäda. He was, and remains, certainly most prolific in the propagation of sanätana-dharma, the eternal codes and goals of Vedic social integration. His version of varëäçrama-dharma was better known as bhagavad-dharma, facilitating the propagation of his disciplic line of succession.
In the service of his guru, a nitya-siddha mukta (eternally liberated individual), Bhakti Siddhänta Saraswäti Goswämi Mahäräj, his attempt to mix his version of varëäçrama with the structures of the West wasn't to meld them but to introduce a pure Vaiñëava system of social integration, along with its goal, to the West. He was obviously qualified to lead this Vedic movement and its society of individuals, because he was fully in knowledge of the prayojana and fully liberated from the clutches of the asat-deça-käla sambandha.
His system introduced the rise of the brähmin in Western society. Up until that point, we had no actual chance of ever being liberated, because we were simply disinterested. The democratic system of social integration has many interests coming from its individuals, but, until that point, liberation wasn't one of them. Even if it had been the interest of some in the democratic republic, without the mercy of a fully-realized brähmin, in full knowledge of mukti, it certainly would have never been obtainable.
Çréla Prabhupäda chose to formally mix these two systems of social integration via the Western organized, institutional model. He founded, in the United States, an incorporated religious organization of confederated äçramas and temples, and his organization was known as The International Society for Kåñëa Consciousness. More times than less, to operate in Western countries, you have to conform with the institutional structures the government has mandated. Religion is no exception. Çréla Prabhupäda also initiated into his disciplic line, the oldest and most prophetic line known in the world, over 5,000 Western disciples, a feat which certainly didn’t win him fans in his native country of India, where such initiation of foreigners was considered heresy.
Operating on the highest level of human consciousness for the interest of his guru mahäräj and Çré Kåñëa Chaitanya Mahäprabhu, he organized the biggest Vedic movement, one based on the goals of vimukti (liberation with form in the spiritual planets) and prema (love of Godhead), using his bhakti-modified version of varëäçrama--something that the modern world had never witnessed.
He did all of this as an elderly man, sleeping generally four hours or so a day, and having to confront constant turmoil in his movement. He set the perfect example and led it from the absolute platform of perfection. This was an actual Vedic culture manifest on earth, led by someone genuinely connected to God, delivering perfect conclusions to assist the spiritual destiny of the jévätmäs for vimukti. The golden years had arrived.
As is the nature of this temporary world, all things must come to an end. The pure influence of the perfected (and their realizations) will also often come to an end, once the perfected individual leaves his physically manifest life. To the world's great fortune, Çréla Prabhupäda transcribed his realizations into a huge volume of work, based on books like the Bhagavad-gétä and Çrémad-Bhägavatam, the highest philosophy of the Veda. By this means, people could assimilate the understanding of how to gain mukti even after his physical association was lost. Yet, those transcribed realizations of absolute eternal truths are under attack and are being altered to suit the agenda and interest of the impermanent, mutable nature of this world. With its main social interest vimukti, the religious organization he built (via, to some extent, Western institutional convention) has now been slowly vitiated and converted into a Western abridged version of a so-called Vedic society.
The new goals of what only appears to be his religious institution are now the same as in every other Western religious institution, viz., material gain, self accreditation, and the proliferation of a crore of personal interests for its leaders and (sometimes) its members. None of these goals are conducive to vimukti.
This transformation marked the fall of the brähmin in Western society. Now divine, perfected interest--based on divine, perfected realization--has been replaced with the imperfect, the impermanent, and the pretensions of the asat prakåti märga.
Çréla Prabhupäda hoped that, if his disciples couldn’t themselves become muktas, then they could be trusted to secure the teachings and keep his organized society on the basic, bona fide path. He hoped that, after he left the scene, his disciples would, at bare minimum, assist future generations in the West on the path of liberation, even in the absence of a manifest jévan mukta, fixed in absolute realization of the Truth. Unfortunately, this has turned out not to be the case.
Our ultimate catalyst to execute successful devotional service, at this current junction of time, will come from our own ability to see through the major inaccuracies and mis-leadings that have obfuscated the realized contributions Prabhupäda left us in our pursuit of mukti. If we stray and fall under the spell of these inaccuracies and mis-leadings that have covered the realized master's purport, than we tread the märga of prakåti in the deça-käla sambandha and will never attain sufficient guidance to have our feet firmly planted on the nivritti-märga of bhakti yoga, the only course that leads effectively to the ultimate aim, vimukti. Çréla Prabhupäda came to give us this matchless gift, the highest possibility attainable for a sentient being. Please repay your debt to him by accepting, promulgating, and taking advantage of his gift just as he gave it.
Quotes from the books of His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada are copyright by the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust