The Philosophica Basis of Gitagrad

Our Gitagrad communities all follow the same philosophy and ideal of endeavoring to fulfill the instructions of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada as closely as possible. Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acharya of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, had a vision for re-establishing a global spiritual culture centered around devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Sri Krishna. He understood that this culture could only arise from a village setting as the ways of modern life do not support this divine culture. To that end he endlessly encouraged his followers to take up the simple way of living, but also to include what he called “high thinking.” During his last year with us he spoke repeatedly on these issues, and despite his failing health had endeavored to go to the Gita Nagari farm in Pennsylvania to teach his followers in the ways of living this “Daiva Varnashrama” culture. Unfortunately he was unable to complete the journey and the task of establishing the transcendental culture remains for us to accomplish.

The instructions of Srila Prabhupada on “simple living and high thinking” are scattered throughout his writings, lectures, and conversations with his leading disciples. These statements tell us not only of the need, what to do, and how to do it, but also motivate us with a blistering critique of modern city life, as a negative motivation.

We have gathered a sampling of these quotes below to give the reader a feeling for what he intended to develop. A comprehensive listing of these instructions can be found online here.

Civilization will not last:

. . So this civilization will not endure. If there is no culture, simply by money you cannot maintain a standard of civilization. That is not possible. Now the American leaders they are thinking, “Let us have money, then everything. . . “ Of course, by money you are covering all the defects of the social culture. But this will not endure. Day will come and everything will be exposed. Therefore culture required.

June 14, 1976 Detroit

Prabhupada: Question is that your forefathers and fathers have got so much money, whether it has solved the problems of life?

Ambarisha: No, it hasn’t solved any of their problems. It has multiplied them. (laughter)

Prabhupada: He is the best…. He could have personally owned this palace and lived very luxuriously. He has got the means. But he did not like that. He gave it to the Vaishnavas. So money cannot solve the problems. That is not possible…So why you cannot write propaganda? You should. You are preaching. You must meet them and must convince them that simply getting money is not the solution of the problem. That you have to convince.

June 15, 1976 Detroit

Foolish people enamored by modern living will not follow:

Wasteful, yes. Therefore I say they have no brain. All, they are rascals. Rascal leaders. A little labor in agriculture will be sufficient to produce the family’s food stock for the whole year. You can stock. You work only three months, and you get sufficient food for your whole family. And for nine months, you chant Hare Krishna. But these rascals will not do that. They will work hard like ass simply for eating. They will not accept easy life.

June 2, 1974, Geneva

Therefore we say change the society. Society means you and me. If we agree that this kind of civilization is wrong, then society, what does it mean? . . . So you make that four orders, and then society will be in order. But you are not taking Krishna’s advice. You are manufacturing your hellish ideas.

October 16, 1975 Mauritius

What is their economic progress? That means busy fool. Fool, they do not know how to satisfy the economic problem. That is recommended in the Bhagavad-gita, You grow food grains. Then all economic questions are solved. But why you are not producing food grains? Why you are producing iron stools and instruments and motor and tire and collecting petrol far away from Arabia? That is… Krishna never says that “You do all this nonsense.” He said, “Grow food grains.”. . . No, that is waste of energy. Because you are eating the bulls, therefore you require a tractor. Otherwise you don’t kill the bulls. This animal will do the business of tractor.

October 19, 1975

Better one should be satisfied with agricultural produce than go into large cities to be engaged in industry. Peaceful life depending on agricultural produce can bring him real happiness and prosperity, not otherwise. The more persons will be satisfied at their home, with home economics, not to go outside the home, that is peaceful life.

Letter to Rayarama dasa,

17 October, 1968

Our farm project is they should be satisfied with simple living. That is nice living. If you get milk, if you get fruit, if you get grain and open air, it is very healthy life.

This should be our aim. We should not be attracted by the modern city life. Simplified life. Save time and utilize for advancing in Krishna consciousness. That is perfect life.

Just like Vrindavana. Vrindavanalife means cowherd boys, uneducated girls, cows and calves, and tree, fruits. This is Vrindavana. The center is Krishna. And they are the topmost devotees. These uneducated cow-men, they are Krishna’s best friend. Unsophisticated, no education, but love intense—that is perfect. That attracted Krishna more.

January 31, 1977 Bhubaneswar

We Must Create Culture & Ideal Example:

But there is cooperation between brahmana, ksatriya, vaisya and sudra, and the society makes progress simultaneously for everyone. That is human society. At the present moment mostly all of them remain sudras or less…, candalas. So how there can be any peace? It is not possible. There is no brahmana, no ksatriya, maybe a few vaisyas only. They are also half-reformed. And European culture, that is candela culture, yavana culture. There is no reformation, no brahmana, no ksatriya, no vaisyas, . . . simply sudras and candalas mostly candalas. So Krishna consciousness movement is means for thoroughly overhauling the whole human society. (aside:) Hare Krishna. Thank you.

September 25, 1975, Ahmedabad

Regarding the elements in our tradition relating to dharma and shastra, we must adopt the whole varnas and ashramas as they are recommended in all the shastra. If you give up these directions of the shastras, that is neither dharma nor shastra. It is directed in the Bhagavad-gita that the four divisions of social and the four divisions of religious systems like brahmana, ksatriya, vaishya, shudra, brahmacari, grihastha, vanaprastha and sannyasi must be adopted.

April 20, 1975 Vrindavana

The whole western world is going on for industry, for making money, eat, drink, be merry, wine and women. That’s… They’re all less than зьdras and caлтдlas. This is the first time attempt is being made to make them human beings.

March 14, 1974, Vrindavana

No, no. That… You have created this animal civilization. Now they are coming out as naked animals. This is the result. Now you have to reform them. That reformation is Krsna consciousness. So you have to make an example, what is actually human life. Then others will see. You cannot stop them. But some of them, those who are intelligent, they will see, “Yes, here is life.” As they are coming to nakedness, they will come to this, our mode of life. So you have to become an ideal society. You live locally, and be self-sufficient. They will see that it is possible to live locally without movement, and still highly cultured men, self-sufficient. That is required.

So you have to set up real human society in a small scale so people will see, “Yes.”

May 28, 1974, Rome

So similarly, in villages, everyone, if he has got some land, he can live simply without any gorgeous building. What is the use? Just have a cottage and have garden. You’ll live very peacefully…Produce your own food, live peacefully, fresh vegetable, fresh grains, fresh milk, and prepare so many nice milk preparation, kachori, halava,with ghee. Offer to the Deity. Eat sufficiently. What is the use of going outside? Simple life and chant Hare Krishna. . . What is this rascal civilization, whole day “Where is money? Where is money? Where is money? Where is money? Where is money?” Everyone. Busy means “Where is money? Where is money?” Just like the hog, he is busy: “What time…? Where is stool? Where is stool? Where is stool? Where is stool? Where is stool?” That is not civilization.

First of all be engaged yourself. Then they will see the example and they’ll join.

October 28, 1975 Nairobi

Vedic culture is meant for the whole world. So you produce your own food grains, not for making money but just for feeding yourself and the animals, cows… And then you become peaceful, no anxiety for your maintenance. And then cultivate this spiritual knowledge the same way. Have a temple there. Have… Go on chanting, offering prasadam. You have got your food grains. Don’t be dependent on anyone else. Become self-independent. And don’t be after money. Simply produce your bare necessities of life. Keep yourself fit, strong. And chant Hare Krishna, read book. Then you’ll grow strong. Is there any difficulty?

October 5, 1975 Mauritius

Ideal Society:

This should be exemplary, that our community shall live in this way and save time for spiritual advancement of life. This example should be shown to the whole world, that “Here is a community. They have no problem, and they are simply interested in Krishna consciousness.” This will be the idea. Is it possible?

HansauLta: Yes.

Prabhupada: Yes. “They do not do any industry. They do not kill cows. They do not go to cinema. They do not have illicit sex. They don’t drink. No problems. Simply they’re eating very nicely and chanting Hare Krishna.” Show this example.

June 17, 1974, Germany

But our duty is that we shall arrange the external affairs so nicely that one day they will come to the spiritual platform very easily, paving the way. And Caitanya Mahaprabhu, personality like that, they have nothing to do with this material world. But we are preaching. We are preaching. Therefore we must pave the situation in such a way that gradually they will be promoted to the spiritual plane.

Mayapur, February 14, 1977

The purport of the verse is that even Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu —He is God himself, Krishna Himself — He felt, alone, unable to do this task. He felt. So this is the position. You are cooperating; therefore I am getting the credit. Otherwise alone what could I do? Caitanya Mahaprabhu Himself wanted our cooperation. He is God, Krishna. And therefore cooperation is very important thing. Nobody should think that “I have got so great ability. I can do.” No. It is simply by cooperation we can do very big thing. “United we stand; divided we fall.” This is our…. So be strong in pushing on Krishna consciousness, and Krishna will help. He is the strongest. Still, we must be combined together. Sankirtana.

Sankirtana means many men combined together chanting. That is Sankirtana. Otherwise kirtana. Sankirtana. Bahubhir militva kirtayeti sankirtana. Bahu. Bahu means many, many combined together. That is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s mission, combined together. All nations, all persons they should combine together.

March 16, 1976, Mayapur

Grow Your Own:

.. . . You must be attractive to bring them. And that is spiritual attraction. You must behave yourself nicely…Purity is required. That will attract. Param brahma param dhama pavitram paramam bhavan. One must be pure. Then he will be able to attract. So if they see practically that “These people are very happy; they have no anxiety,” then they will be attracted. Is it not? What is the difficulty? …Otherwise the idea which I am giving, you can start anywhere, anywhere, any part of the world. It doesn’t matter. Locally you produce your own food. You get your own cloth. Have sufficient milk, vegetables. Then what you want more? And chant Hare Krishna. This is Vedic civilization: plain living, high thinking. And poor thinking, poor in thought, poor in behavior, and living with motorcar and this, that, nonsense. It is all nonsense civilization…

Indian man: Car is a necessity, Swamiji, don’t you think so? Car is a necessity.

Prabhupada: Not necessary. What is the use of car? If you locate yourself to get everything, your necessity, then where is the use of car?

So long it is not available, we must take the best advantage. That is another thing. But gradually we shall develop a society that all these unnecessary rubbish things should be rejected. That is the idea.

October 5, 1975 Mauritius

You should take to farming for supporting yourself. That’s all. Grow your own food. Grow your own cloth. There is no need of financial help from outside. You get your food grains sufficiently, rice, dahl, wheat, vegetables, milk, sugar. Bas You get everything. From these five, six items you should be economically free. That you have to do, not for trade to get money. Then it will be failure. . . Grow food first of all to feed yourself sumptuously. You must get strength, and that is needed. But not for trade. The policy should be that you should be self-sufficient and save time for advancing in Krishna consciousness.

That is wanted.

October 28, 1975 Nairobi

So you produce your own food grains, not for making money but just for feeding yourself and the animals, cows… And then you become peaceful, no anxiety for your maintenance. And then cultivate this spiritual knowledge the same way. Have a temple there. Have… Go on chanting, offering prasadam. You have got your food grains. Don’t be dependent on anyone else. Become self-independent. And don’t be after money. Simply produce your bare necessities of life. Keep yourself fit, strong. And chant Hare Krishna, read book. Then you’ll grow strong. Is there any difficulty?

October 5, 1975 Mauritius

No, we have to make this propaganda because we are servant of Krishna. And Krishna orders. So we must take to agricultural work to produce food and give protection to the cows. And if there is excess product, we trade. This simple thing we must do. Therefore I’m anxious to take this center outside Paris . Our people should live there peacefully, produce food grains, give protection to the cows, and work hard. And if there is excess product, you can make money also. With ghee, you can start so many restaurants. That I have already… I have discussed on this point. We can make good money. We’ll not be loser. Krishna conscious men, they’ll be never loser by following the instruction of Krishna. They’ll live comfortably without any material want, and tyaktva deham punar janma naiti, and after leaving this body, go to, directly to God.

June 11, 1974, Paris

Varnashrama & Simple Living

Better one should be satisfied with agricultural produce than go into large cities to be engaged in industry. Peaceful life depending on agricultural produce can bring him real happiness and prosperity, not otherwise. The more persons will be satisfied at their home, with home economics, not to go outside the home, that is peaceful life.

Letter to Rayarama dasa,

17 October, 1968

Our farm project is they should be satisfied with simple living. That is nice living. If you get milk, if you get fruit, if you get grain and open air, it is very healthy life.

This should be our aim. We should not be attracted by the modern city life. Simplified life. Save time and utilize for advancing in Krishna consciousness. That is perfect life.

Just like Vrindavana. Vrindavanalife means cowherd boys, uneducated girls, cows and calves, and tree, fruits. This is Vrindavana. The center is Krishna. And they are the topmost devotees. These uneducated cow-men, they are Krishna’s best friend. Unsophisticated, no education, but love intense—that is perfect. That attracted Krishna more.

January 31, 1977 Bhubaneswar

Varnashrama. This is real Vedic system, varnashrama. And human life begins when one observes the varnashrama regulations. Varnashrama.

June 19, 1976 Toronto

Therefore the constitution of manava-dharma or the institution of varnashrama must be interesting for the whole world, and it should be exemplified by practical demonstration.

The immediate program should be village organization as Mahatma Gandhi contemplated. In India the majority of the population is in the villages. The difficulty is that there is no sufficient supply of water to produce food grains. Mother nature, or mother Durga, punishes the godless demons by restricting the supply of food grains. The godless demons are very enthusiastic to produce motorcars, skyscrapers, brothels, and cinemas, and many unnecessary demands of the body, but they are not interested in producing food grains. This is the defect of the modern society.

April 20, 1975 Vrindavana

Yes. They want to remain in degradation, and they will protest again. Therefore to save the degradation, this catur-varnyam must be established. That I… The ideal class. People will follow, “Oh, here is the ideal class.” So we are trying to make an ideal class of Krsna conscious people. And if you treat yourself as degraded, then who will care for you? You should remain an ideal class. People will follow gradually.

Hyderabad, 23 April, 1974

There is the institution of varnashrama. Catur-varnyam maya… Krsna says, “I have made this varnashrama for the benefit of the whole human society, although I don’t belong to any varna, asrama.” Krsna has nothing to do. But to maintain the human society very peaceful, advancing in spiritual knowledge, this varnashrama is required. Therefore sometimes I become very eager to start a varnashrama college. We have nothing to do with varnashrama, but we want to see that the whole human society is peaceful. That is our mission.

June 25, 1975 Los Angeles

Hari-sauri: Should we try to make an effort to have our householders go and live on the farms, a special effort? If it’s ready to do that?

Prabhupada: Why only householders? Everyone.

Ramesvara: In America there is a very big emphasis on getting people to join us by moving into our temples. The temple presidents are very eager to get as many people to move in as possible, but in the long run most people cannot come up to the standard.

Prabhupada: Therefore I am [advocating] farms.

Ramesvara: So they have to be encouraged to have a little bit of Krsna consciousness in their own home, make their home a temple.

Prabhupada: No, let them go to the farm, New Vrindaban.

India, January 11, 1977

Daivi Varnashrama:

Yogeçvara: So in other words the workers are unsatisfied because they see that the managers are exploiting them, but if they see the managers are giving the money to Krishna, they will feel satisfied.

Prabhupada: Yes, and they will also give. Krishna becomes the proprietor. Everyone is satisfied.

Dhanaпjaya: Jaya. This is varnashrama institution.

Prabhupada: Yes. This is above varnashrama. It is above varnashrama. Varnashramathere is give and take, but here [in the dominant culture] there is no give and… Here [in Krishna Consciousness] is simply give, no take. That is above varnashrama.

Dhananjaya: So the workers are giving to the devotees and the devotees are giving to Krishna.

Prabhupada: Yes. They become devotee, they will give to Krishna. You also become devotees. Not that they become devotee and you exploit them very nicely. That is not.

May 28, 1974, Rome

One of Srila Prabhupada’s disciples, Kuladri Das, was the president of the New Vrindavana Community in West Virginia. Speaking about his memories of Srila Prabhupada Kuladri gave the following statement, indicating the vision and intentions of Srila Prabhupada regarding his village communities and their role in the Krishna Consciousness Movement. He states:

“I was the temple president at New Vrindavan for so many years, and Prabhupada had a vision for a pilgrimage site in North America and a farm community. So he never emphasized book distribution to us. He explained to me that, especially at the end when I was with him in Bombay and in Vrindavan just before he left, that the second half of his movement would be dramatically different than the first half. The emergency tactics that he used to distribute books and give young people sannyasa and open as many temples as possible, he wanted places like New Vrindavan to establish the culture of Krishna consciousness with colleges, grihastha lifestyle, all of the things to demonstrate the philosophy that he was so careful to present in his books. So he right up to the end was telling me that the farm communities were so important for the second half and the vision would be so different than when his movement got started in the Western world.”

Transcript from “Following Srila Prabhupada” DVD #10


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