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Article by Upendranath Dasa 

Authoritarian Dynamics in Religion, How Corruption Begins to Take Hold and Spread

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Segment 10

A Social Order that Develops Reason; Varnasrama Society

The next point is very significant.  We should recognize that persons willing to withstand isolation are rare. The majority of us need the security of the herd. Yet to realize our fullest potential, the capacity to distinguish reality from illusion, we need to achieve the full flowering of our powers of reason, which the herd psychology generally works against. What is needed, is social order, that provides both—the shelter of the herd and the latitude for developing our reason to the fullest. Hence, in Gaudiya Vaisnava philosophy, varnasrama society is recommenced as the next best thing for those who cannot emulate the true hero.

Yet for the vast majority of men, who are not heroes, the development of reason depends on the emergence of a social order in which each individual is fully respected and not made a tool of the state or any other group, a social order in which he need not be afraid to criticize and in which the pursuit of truth does not isolate man from his brothers but makes him feel one with them. It follows that man will attain the full capacity for objectivity and reason only when a society of man is established above all particular divisions of the human race, when loyalty to the human race and to its ideals is considered the prime loyalty that exists. 

In Lord Rama’s time, we see that a washerman was not afraid to criticize the king, who was the Supreme Person Himself.

And when the Lord overheard Himself criticized, He responded in a way to appease the criticism. He banished pregnant Sita from His kingdom. The point is that the mere act of criticism was not taken as an offense. That is a healthy social order—an open society.

In contrast, the atmosphere of an authoritarian social system, or religious community, is the same as the totalitarian political system, that we abhor in today’s communist world, which is somewhat crumbling as the evolution of that dynamic runs its natural cycle. The humanitarian religious system, is what we associate with the open society.

Of the range of open social systems, varnasrama dharma, was created by the Lord Himself.

Bhagavad-gita 4.13,

“According to the three modes of material nature and the work associated with them, the four divisions of human society are created by Me. And although I am the creator of this system, you should know that I am yet the non-doer, being unchangeable.

catur-varnyam maya srstam, is the best. It is scientifically designed to elevate participants to the highest level of reason—the capacity to distinguish between matter and spirit.”

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