Communities in Age of Kali

Manidhara Das
16 Feb 2023

"Divide and Rule" is the common policy for the demoniac leaders of society.
Established in colonial imperialistic England, where the local leaders of individual occupied countries, India included, were "played against each other" by the incoming "superior race," the English, this policy was eagerly adopted by the "new English", later called Americans, in their policy to occupy new territories. Red Indians were played against each other, drowned in intoxication, their culture and basis for sustainability ruined, unrestricted immigration was initiated for economic purposes to ruin long-lasting traditions providing stability for local communities, and the final dominance of the "problems creating and solutions providing" dominant ruling class in the name of democracy was established.

The same policy dominates today's societies, and the old game of world dominance continues. Srila Prabhupadas' alternative was clear: the "grid" life style he preached and offered us was one of self-sufficiency in a mood of total dependence on the Supreme Personality of Godhead and as much disconnection as possible from the demoniac ruling class's invasive and exploitative totalitarian rule. The alternative is to sustain oneself through nature's gifts rather than through the sales of shopping malls, a life style based on austerity that many fear.
Non-cooperation and resistance are the ways to gain freedom from the totalitarian dominance of what we used to call in the sixties "the establishment."

To simplify one's life, carefully considering what is required and what is not required for one's body's sustenance is the way to avoid the massive brainwashing of the dominant business class of men who would like to sell us all that we don't need or that is even harmful to our mental and physical well-being.

Divided and ruled over, sitting in front of our computer screens, we believe to have achieved unity. But with our "private lives" entirely controlled and monitored by the invisible "Big Brother" howling over our heads in cyberspace, we became psychic and lonely beings, selfish introverts of the technocratic kind, believing more in our machines than in our neighbours.

The rural communities have been destroyed as a result of young people migrating to the great cities for high types of sense gratification (or whatever else it may be), being educated to become passive tools in the hands of the dominating industrial class of "society owners," leaving the old ones to wonder what happened.

As one of my neighbours in the small village where I used to live with my family told me:
Every day, after working on the field, we met here under the trees in the middle of our village, talked to each other, somebody played some music on his harmonica, and we danced. Then the radio came, and half of us remained at home in the evening, listening to what they told us on that radio. Then came the TV, and the benches under the trees remained empty. And now, with the internet? People don't even talk to each other anymore, staring into their screens even while walking. This man died along with his memories of bygone times where people still used to be people, even of the simple or barbarian type. We are now the modern impersonal barbarians pursuing a type of bisar perverted sense gratification, only one click on our computer's keyboard away from sense gratification that our forefathers couldn't even imagine.
All in the name of "advancement" and "progress," thanks to the scientific community developing our military equipment, which invites more death as some tenable and livable alternative. In the name of progress, we became surrounded by complexities that enslaved us more and more.

Establishing the spiritual life as a priority, Srila Prabhupada sought to give it a practical form while establishing rural farm communities. "The country is a place to live, and cities are where you preach," he told us. But already in the initial days of his movement, it was clear that there were very few farmers amongst his followers, who mostly came out of the cities. Farming is based on a traditional, experience-based life and cannot be learned only from manuals. Nonetheless, we must begin somewhere, and one can only hope that the children of farmers will continue to live in the ways of their fathers and mothers. Indeed, finding a real farmer in ISKCON is rare—almost impossible.

The sixties of the previous century were dominated by ideals of self-sufficiency, "grid living" and the creation of communities consisting of those who were determined to live from the land and not from the "special offers" of the local shopping centers. Despite the fact that the hippie ideals were quickly destroyed by intoxication and unrestricted sex life, and those who didn't become eliminated by drug use due to the need to maintain their families by saving their last supplies of marijuana for the weekends while working the rest of the time to pay the rent or mortgage of their houses, Srila Prabhupada continued to explain to us the need to undergo the austerity of communal life and disconnect ourselves from the main stream propaganda of total dependancy as much as possible.

Land and cows were the riches he advocated, not machines of any kind.
He was aware that this change would not be possible all at once, but he set the course for us to follow.

Communal life brings austerities. (City life doesn't?) not necessarily austerities of the physical kind, but mainly austerities of the emotional kind. Gossip, disagreement, and lack of privacy are the natural symptoms of any community. But in light of the benefits we may receive, tolerance is in order. There will be no community if the varnasrama dharma society's basic rules are not followed. Even in our western-barbarian tradition, communities were founded on the ksatriya type of royal protection, the financial input of the vaisya type of man, and the final support of the hard-working sudra class. But without the guidance of the brahminical class, which was soon lost and maybe never existed in the Christian tradition, the priestly class became corrupted by serving the even more corrupted ksatriya class, and so the process of degradation was quickly initiated. Still, it was the priest in the small rural community who, even though he was not always appreciated by the ruling church institution, joined the villagers on a daily basis and was appreciated for his assistance in times when simple folk struggled on an emotional level.

With even that kind of "priesthood" demolished, we truly became "one and the same in misery," leading people to believe that "we are all one and the same," a truly bisar claim.

Srila Prabhupadas' communities were designed to be based on spiritual principles with the clear understanding that everything is God's property and that we are merely recipients of His gifts. Only a god-blessed community can survive.
Otherwise, selfishness, taking the form of a claim of distinction and a claim for dominance over others, will again manifest and destroy any type of communal living. There is no communal living based on mere sense gratification, as my senses and your senses will have different demands. The demoniac ruling class of men knows it, and one of their primary goals is to drown people in sense gratification and the fear of losing it, thereby creating ample opportunity for envy and the isolation of all of us from one another.

Communal life is a way of productive sacrifice where, in return for the loss of privacy, one gets the spontaneous support of other community members in times of need. When "me and mine" is replaced by "us and ours" immense power is generated, with the children growing up in such a community benefiting most.
Growing up in an atmosphere of mutual support, with all the problems included, such children become productive members of further developing communities, naturally teaching what they have learned by their example.

Growing up as a single child surrounded only by grown-ups, I have practical experience with what it means to be a silent introvert, trying to live up to "my ideals." It is only thanks to Srila Prabhupada this type of existence was completely ended when I reached the age of eighteen and joined the brahmacary celibacy group with other brahmacaries who had little understanding of my "private" life style.
From the day I joined the Srila Prabhupadas movement, I was trained to make other people's problems my problems, and I eventually ended up struggling daily with 45 temple devotees as temple president. (A title I forbade devotees to use due to the presence of extremely envious people.) Here I was, serving the needs of others while my own were met automatically. It's easy to live a communal life in a sankirtan van, travelling and distributing Srila Prabhupaad's books, or live in an entirely preaching-oriented temple.

But then came the challenge of family life, and the first thing I aimed to do was create with my wife a small community so my daughter did not have to grow up in the same isolated way I did. Girls are inherently more social than boys, so I knew that if my daughter did not have devotee friends, she would befriend some materialistic-motivated children. I tried to serve those few devotees I trusted to join our congregational attempt to create a community, however small it may be, despite artificial austerity standards (some sort of "grhasta sannyas," occasionally advocated by some corrupt leaders who don't want to miss the regular income coming from the childless grhastas and impose the need to give money to them). Was it successful? Not completely, but it was worth trying.

As a result, founding communities is the "other part of Srila Prabhupadas' mission," as he put it. It is a natural follow-up to establishing spiritual values through book distribution and public preaching. As much as it is needed to present Krsna consciousness in its constitutional form, a practical example of how it can be lived in this world is the ultimate form of preaching, easily understandable by the general class of men.

The times are very favourable to the formation of self-sufficient communities, as the pressure exerted by the "owners of society" grows stronger by the day.
Srimad Bhagavatam predicts that by the end of this age of Kali, people will retreat to caves and live from roots and leaves only. But before that, with any kind of means available, the creation of pious devotee communities is an absolute necessity, regardless of our individual material qualifications.

Not many such communities are known to me, but one I can instantly point to is the Nava Gokula project in the eastern part of the Czech Republic, where a small band of devotees, under the brahminical guidance of their spiritual master, is in a most determined manner trying to live up to the "simple living, high thinking" ideals Srila Prabhupada advocated. By practically eliminating even the incoming electricity (which is not entirely possible yet) and having a truly professional and experienced farmer at its base, along with enjoying the benefits of purely brahminical guidance, it is obvious that such an attempt can be made. Every day, the local devotees collect valuable experiences and are surely ready to share them with others.

Such communities should possibly create a larger community of similarly motivated devotees who support each other in their congregational revolt against the artificial dependency created by the present demoniac leaders of society. The pattern for creating such communities, as well as for destroying such communities, is consistent. A pure varnasrama dharma established structure provides maximum security for such a community's ideals.

Any attempt in this direction is a most glorious attempt. What else do we want to do with our lives?