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The beginning of real human civilization is observance of the institute of four varnas and four asramas. That is the beginning of civilized life

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"The beginning of real human civilization is observance of the institute of four varnas and four asramas. That is the beginning of civilized life"

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Festival Lectures

The beginning of real human civilization is observance of the institute of four varṇas and four āśramas. That is the beginning of civilized life.

His Divine Grace Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Gosvami Prabhupada's Appearance Day, SB 6.3.24 -- Gorakhpur, February 15, 1971:

When Caitanya Mahāprabhu was discussing with Rāmānanda Rāya what is the process of elevation, sādhya, sādhana, what is the ultimate objective, Rāmānanda Rāya quoted a verse from the Viṣṇu Purāṇa that,

varṇāśramācāravatā
puruṣeṇa paraḥ pumān
viṣṇur ārādhyate panthā
nānyat tat-toṣa-kāraṇam
(CC Madhya 8.58)

The beginning of real human civilization is observance of the institute of four varṇas and four āśramas. That is the beginning of civilized life. Otherwise, it is not civilized life; it is crude, uncivilized life, where there is no varṇāśrama, where there (is) no division of society according to work and quality and āśrama, spiritual life division. So Rāmānanda Rāya recommended this verse, that this is the process to satisfy the Supreme Lord Viṣṇu. But Caitanya Mahāprabhu said that eho bāhya āge kaha āra, "This is external. If you know something more, better than this, you say." Why He said? There is the version, viṣṇur ārādhyate. Does it mean that He is rejecting Viṣṇu worship? No, He's not rejecting. Because generally, they, these impersonalists, Māyāvādīs, they also worship sometimes Viṣṇu, these five demigods and God. But their idea is that ultimately impersonal. The impersonal takes the form by the help of this material world. The formation takes place simply in the material. That is their opinion. Therefore they say, call, saguṇa. Saguṇa-upāsanā.

Just try to understand this. Saguṇa-upāsanā means when Brahman takes a form He takes a form from this material help. Just like we take a form, we spiritual entities. We also take a form, transmigration of the soul according to karma. I create a certain type of mentality, and that continues throughout my life. And at the time of death, because I have got a certain type of mentality, man-mentality or God-mentality or dog-mentality or fly-mentality, any kind of... There are so many. So I have to take a certain type of body. So that body I have to take not by my whim. Daivena. Daiva-netreṇa: by the decision of higher authorities. Daiva, generally, it means the Supreme Personality of Godhead and His agents. He has got many. Parāsya śaktir vividhaiva śrūyate (CC Madhya 13.65 purport). So the material agent is Durgā. So I create a mentality by my association with this material world. There are three kinds of qualities: sattva-guṇa, rajo-guṇa, tamo-guṇa. So one of them or mixed, I will have to accept. Because I am associating. Just like... It is not difficult. If you associate with the hippies, you will become hippie. If you associate with the hippies, you will become hippie. If you associate with the Vaiṣṇava, you become Vaiṣṇava. That is practical. So similarly, if you associate with tamo-guṇa... One of the features of tamo-guṇa is laziness and sleepy. I am against so much sleeping because it is tamo-guṇa. And the features of rajo-guṇa is very active, but for sense gratification. Just like ordinary persons, they are very active. They rise also early in the morning, they work very hard, but the whole plan is for sense gratification. That's all. That is rajo-guṇa. And sattva-guṇa means they are silent, they are sober, they know what is what, and they try for spiritual advancement. That is sattva-guṇa.