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  • Gita Nagari Retreat: Exploring Varnasrama

Date: Sept 2-5
Theme: "Exploring Varnasrama"
Contact: gitanagariretreats@gmail.com

“Exploring Varnasrama” Conference
Romapada Swami
“Introducing the Topic of this Conference”

Devamrita Swami
Topic –
“Amish: A demonstration of a different social order sustaining over time in modern America and Canada” {30 minute video}
Abstract: Varnasrama naysayers deny the possibility of Srila Prabhupada’s “exotic, baffling” vision of varnasrama taking root, surviving, and growing in our modern times. Information supporting the possibility of a varnasrama society, even though so unique and contrarian, with be explored, by presenting some facts about the success of the Amish, as an example in the USA and Canada for establishing, maintaining, and growing — despite all odds and dire predictions — a different kind of social order, with its own values, traditions, etc. Indeed, Amish demonstrate a different type of society within the “normal” society. Although the entire KC Movement need not adopt this same model, some may do so, particularly in rural communities.

Vraja Vihari dasa
Topic –
“Oh My God! We're Going to Talk About Varnasrama?” {Saturday am Intro}
Abstract: Framing the ‘Exploring Varnasrama’ Discussion
What are the questions we should be asking regarding varnasrama? Why are there different opinions? How can we have fruitful discussions on topics we have varying opinions about?
"Prabhupada said, "....." "Well he also said, "....."
Reconciling seemingly contradictory statements by Srila Prabhupada is a key for the future of ISKCON. Srila Prabhupada said different points at different times--often on the same topic! As his followers we should examine this reality and learn ways to deal with it, both in general, and specifically for varnasrama.

Sivarama Swami
Topic –
“Varnasrama: Why devotees need to adopt it and the first steps to doing so”
Abstract -
1. Srila Prabhupada said many things about the feasibility of varnasrama today—could it be done or not—and whether it applied to devotees or not. His Divine Grace's statements taken on whole indicate a desire to establish varnasrama.
2. There are certain qualities every devotee needs to have and to cultivate, to be eligible for the varnasrama system. These qualities invoke the mode of goodness and are favorable for the practice of Krsna consciousness.
3. To practice varnasrama means to accept a certain lifestyle that is quite different in ways to the lifestyle of the world around us and to the lifestyle that even we devotees are accustomed to. What challenges face us to accepting such a lifestyle change?

Tukarama dasa
Topic –
Did Srila Prabhupada want varnasrama? And if so, what did he mean by "varnasrama?"
Abstract -
1. Something of an anthology of Srila Prabhupada’s quotes on varnasrama, coupled with an attempt to navigate them and harmonize the varying statements he made (at different times), dealing with issues like varnasrama and bhagavat dharma, brahmanas and vaisnavas, etc.
2. First step towards "varnasrama within ISKCON" The essence of varnasrama (for Srila Prabhupada), at least the first step, is the farm, and how these farms should center around cow protection.

Abhirama dasa
Topic -
*A strategy for varnasrama connected to New York City HariNam Ashram*
Abstract -
Elements of Abhirama Prabhu’s presentation will include:
1) Srila Prabhupada's instructions and words spoken personally to Abhirama Prabhu on the topic of varnasrama.
2) “Pluralism” – Can we co-exist with other communities, of similar nature based subsistence? How important is this? Examples? Amish, Organic farming communities and family units. Naturalist/ecologist, American Native Indians? Waldorf/Steiner communities, other yogic, Hindu oriented communities? General public?
3) “The Bija or Seed of Varnasrama” -- How do we start? On what foundation? Is it an economic or social system? If both, how does this integrate and dynamically interact? Based on trade or giving one's dharmic seva to the community? Invitation for critical discussion and advice from other attendees.
4) Beyond theory, how do we adjust our current conditions towards fostering a varnasrama settlement proximate to a major urban population like New York City? Elements of current strategy will be presented, plus invitation for critique from attendees.

Kaunteya das
Topic- Varnasrama Dharma [VAD]: Paroxysms, Parallaxes & Paradoxes
Abstract -
Paroxysms: Sudden attacks or outbursts of particular emotions or activities; spasms, outbursts, convulsions… The topic of VAD seems to evoke intense, conflicting reactions; from idolization to repulsion; from enthusiasm to confusion. Let’s take a look at this phenomenon.
Parallaxes: Effects whereby the position an object appears to differ when viewed from different positions. Different devotees think and feel about VAD in differing, even opposing ways. Why? Let’s take a look.
Paradoxes: Seemingly absurd or contradictory statements. How to reconcile the apparently incongruent statements by Srila Prabhupada on VAD? How to amicably find a path of implementation?
This presentation will harmonize all contradictions, will resolve all disorientation and will offer a clear way forward. Or maybe it won’t.

A comprehensive supervised Children's Program will also be conducted