Vedic Marriage is not for Sex (Certainly not for Homosexuality!)
Please do not be worried. Our movement is essentially for spreading this chanting of Hare Krishna world wide. And the main responsibility of my disciples is to follow the four regulative principles and chant 16 rounds without fail. Please worry about that first. (Srila Prabhupada)
Hridayananda dasa Goswami is one of the greatest spiritual authorities in today’s ISKCON. He took the post of author of the “Bhaktivedanta Purports” for the completion of Srimad-Bhagagavatam after Srila Prabhupada left our material vision in 1977. For such a post one must be a pure devotee of Krishna on the topmost platform, a person Bhagavata, otherwise it is not possible to write commentary on the book Bhagavata. If he is not a person Bhagavata then his commentry on the book Bhagavata is useless and worse than that misleading.
Although as devotees we may have many anarthas [unwanted desires] and we may sometimes fall from the proper standard, we have to know what the proper standard is and we have to know if we are not following that standard we are fallen and in such a fallen condition we can not make spiritual advancement nor can we help others make spiritual advancement. We need that much honesty at least. If we are not even chanting our rounds and following the principles we are fallen and we have to recognize it and do everything in our power to recover from our fallen condition.
“For everything you want to learn, you have to take some penance voluntarily, so we have to give up something in the beginning. Just like we advise, “no illicit sex, no intoxication, even up to smoking cigarettes and taking tea.” So for one who is accustomed to these habits, for him to give up immediately these things, it becomes a little painful. Therefore one has to become tolerant, “Never mind, I will have to become free.” Just like to become cured from some disease, we agree to undergo sergical operation although it is very painful, tolerate. Similarly, we have to learn toleration although there will be some pain. That is called titiksavah.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam lecture Nov. 24, 1974)
The way to recover from our fallen condition is to accept the process of saddhana-bhakti, Krishna consciousness, as it has been taught to us by Srila Prabhupada. To begin this process following certain basic regulative principles is necessary. These principles are not optional. If we refuse to follow these principles there is no question of advancing in spiritual life. The four regulative principles are: no illicit sex life [this means sex only in marriage and then only for the purpose of having a Krishna conscious child], no meat eating, no gambling and no intoxication. In addition we must agree to chant at least 16 rounds of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra daily. Accepting these basic principles is the beginning, they pave the way for our advancement in Krishna consciousness.
“We have to be very cautious in executing our spiritual duties by observing the rules and regulations and regularly chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. If we neglect doing this, we will eventually fall down. We must rise early in the morning, bathe, attend mangal-arati, worship the Deities, chant the Hare Krishna mantra, study the Vedic literatures and follow all the rules prescribed by the acaryas and the spiritual master. If we deviate from this process, we may fall down, even though we may be very highly advanced.” (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.8 Purport.)
Hridayananda Maharaja’s conclusion is:
“Given the need to balance strict varnashrama with liberal spirituality, I believe that ISKCON should recognize and encourage monogamy among all its members of whatever orientation, and that such recognition and encouragement should take appropriate forms that achieve both purposes: the maintenance of varnashrama and the encouraging of spiritual sincerity.”
He is recommending formal recognition of homosexual relationships and it seems he believes introducing “liberal spirituality” (whatever that means) into ISKCON is important.
“Simply if the standard of our routine work is maintained very nicely, that is if we steadfastly perform our daily program of rising early, cleansing, chanting 16 rounds, holding kirtan wherever we are at least twice daily, reading, worshiping the Deity, going on Sankirtana, like that–if this routine work is always done nicely and never neglected, then our all success is guaranteed in whatever we do. But if this, our regular Krishna consciousness program is allowed to slacken, then everything else we try will fail. That is the simple formula for success.” (Srila Prabhupada letter to Kisora Feb 5, 1972)
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.” (BG 4.34)
To understand these perplexing issues we have to find a pure devotee of Krishna, a self-realized soul, surrender to him and render service to him, then if we inquire from him submissively he can give us real knowledge, because he has seen the truth.
We have Srila Prabhupada, he is certainly a self-realized soul and he has seen the truth, and he has given us perfect guidance on all issues including this one. If we hear from him submissively, surrender to him and render service unto him he will give us real knowledge.
The exact same position Hridayananda has recommended for ISKCON was taken by some Christian churches in the seventies, they were marrying same-sex couples.
“Even the priests have become licentious, and thousands of priests are going to the hospital to cure their drinking habit. They are sanctioning homosexuality. In a Christian newspaper I read about a priest even performing marriage between two men. So outside of this Krishna consciousness movement, I don’t find any group of ideal men. Therefore, if you want to help society, you must learn from us how to train men of ideal character.”
So the business of ISKCON is to train men of ideal character. Not to accept members who are engaging in illicit sex and are not prepared to even try to give it up…
“It is not my opinion–it is the verdict of the sastra[scripture]. Opinion–what is the value of opinion when the people are like dogs and asses? What is the use of taking the opinion of an ass? This vox populi–taking the opinion of the public–is degrading modern society. If the public is composed of drunkards, smokers, meat eaters, gamblers, and woman hunters, then what is the value of their opinion? Why take the opinion of fourth-class men? What Krishna says–that is the standard. Krishna is the supreme, and His version is final. No other opinion is allowed. When I introduced the principle “No illicit sex life,” I didn’t ask for opinions–“It must be done.”
“You are working with the public, and we are also working with the same people. We take the same people–those addicted to drinking, addicted to prostitution, addicted to meat eating—and we make them into saintly persons. So our method is practical. You can see what their previous history was, and what they are now. You must train up one class of men like them—men of ideal character.
“Our program is not vox populi. We are saying only what the authoritative scriptures say. If you actually want to do social welfare, then you must take to the standard formula as given in the scriptures. In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna explains how one can become peaceful–a first-class man. But if you don’t accept His authority–if you’d rather follow public opinion–you will never be successful. You want to make a peaceful society, but you do not know how. Therefore you must adopt this process of Krishna consciousness. If anyone–even a madman–agrees to follow our principles, then he can become peaceful. He can become a first-class man.
“In the sky there are so many stars, but there is only one moon. In terms of percentage, the moon is nothing. But in terms of its value, the moon is far more important than all the stars combined. So in our Krishna consciousness movement, our aim is to educate a few men of ideal character. If you and other leaders of society support this movement, you will be performing the highest social welfare. (Srila Prabhupada conversation with social worker, May 1975)
The purpose of Krishna conscious marriage is NOT to satisfy lust. If a man and a woman marry in Krishna consciousness that does not give them any facility for illicit sex. Sex is only for the purpose of bringing nice Krishna conscious children into the world. So a grhastha couple is permitted to have sex only for this purpose. So marriage in Krishna consciousness is NOT a facility for engaging in illicit sex in any way, shape or form.
“Generally the girls desire a good husband and a good home, children, that is their natural propensity, so we want to show some ideal householders also. But the proposal that marriage will solve the question of lust, is not practical. Neither wife should be accepted as a machine for satisfying our lust. The marriage tie should be taken as very sacred. One who marries for subduing lust is mistaken. Because lust cannot be satisfied simply by indulging in sense gratification. It is compared to trying to extinguish a fire with a large amount of petrol. For the time being the fire may appear to be extinguished by pouring a large quantity of petrol, but petrol is so dangerous that at any time, it can be in flame. So to subdue lust is a different process. Then you will have to take to Deity worship. I am sending herewith one copy of the process of Deity worship. Krishna is Madan Mohan. You have already stated in your letter, it is very nice, that you would much prefer to channel all your desires to Krishna, and you ask me how it is possible when enveloped in maya, seeing only material forms. You have also written to say that if you can see the Absolute Beauty which is all-attractive, then you could not help but be attracted and would scorn mundane beauty. This is the actual remedy. So you may take immediately to the Arcana, the Deity worship. Kirtanananda Maharaja has also begun Deity worship in New Vrindavan and Pradyumna knows how he is doing and similarly, in New York, Brahmananda is now engaged in Deity worship. The process is a little difficult in the beginning, but once habituated, it is not at all difficult. So apart from the marriage proposal, you may immediately take to Deity worship. I am sending herewith one copy of the process of Deity worship, compiled by Brahmananda, that will help you and Pradyumna also knows, so combined together you immediately begin Deity worship as Kirtananda and Brahmananda are doing, and I am sure this process, helped by your regular chanting, will kill Mr. Lust, rest assured. Of course, when you begin, I am at your service always, and give you suggestions and ways and means to make progress in the Deity worship, but you can immediately adopt this principle.” (Srila Prabhupada letter to Hayagriva October 7, 1968)
So we find Srila Prabhupada’s advice and Hridayananda’s advice apprear to be radically different. Maharaja seems to be suggesting that “devotees” may continue to engage in illicit sexual activities, but with only one person, and in this way they will gradually advance in Krishna consciousness. His advice is to continue to feed the lust with a limited amount of illicit sex and hope it will gradually go away. In reality lust will not go away by this process at all. As Srila Prabhupada has so graphically described this is like pouring a large amount of gasoline on to a fire to try and extinguish it.
Maharaja’s advice may appear very nice to many “devotees” who don’t want to follow the regulative principles and still want some standing as devotees in Krishna consciousness. The apparent purport of his statement is everyone, heterosexual and homosexual, may continue with illicit sex but with only one person and in this way they will make gradual advancement in Krishna consciousness. This is very dangerous advice indeed. Those who follow his advice will not make advancement in Krishna consciousness at all. The effect of accepting his advice will be devastating on their spiritual lives.
“We don’t want disciples. I never collected disciples. I never compromised that ‘You can do whatever you like, and you become my diciple.’ No. ‘You have to follow the regulative principles.’ This morning I accepted so many… ‘First promise whether you are going to do this. Then I initiate.’ This is my policy. If I would have said, ‘No, you can do whatever you like and give me some money, I shall give you mantra,’ then you would have seen millions. But I accept very selected disciple, not that anyone, everyone comes, and I accept disciple. No. He is first of all trained up for six months. Then, when he is able to promise to follow the regulative principles then I accept. This is stricture. It is not that everyone comes, ‘Give me thirty-five dollars. I give you mantra, and within six months you become God.’ I do not do like that. (Srila Prabhupada conversation May 20, 1975)
The whole basis of the argument of recognizing homosexual marriages is that hetrosexuals have the facility for illicit sex in marriage so why should homosexuals miss out. This is a completely baseless argument. There is no facility for sex life in Krishna consciousness whatsoever except for the purpose of having God-conscious children. So there is no basis for this arguement whatsoever. Krishna conscious marriage is not for sex.
“A Krishna conscious marriage is not based on sense gratification but rather mutual cooperation between husband and wife for making advancement in spiritual life and also for raising Krishna conscious children. It is said in the Vedas that one should not take on the responsibility of parenthood unless he can deliver the child from the repeated cycle of birth, death, disease and old age. So in this way mould your life in the service of the Lord and be happy.” (Srila Prabhupada letter to Babrubahan March 4, 1971)
“Regarding your wish to be married with a Krishna conscious family, that is nice. You will have a nice, fixed-up wife, and you will be happy working hard for Krishna together. I never discourage marriage, providing it is for Krishna’s service and not for simply sex life. It is always meant for a higher purpose. In God’s creation there is male and female even in the spiritual world, and there is purpose for such creation. The purpose is so that male and female may join together, not for sex-life, but to glorify the Lord. From Srimad-Bhagavatam we learn that in Vaikuntha the women are much more beautiful in their figure, smiling, dressing, etc., but the men and women there are so much attracted by the chanting of Hare Krishna that they do not get any sex impulse even by intimate mingling. Here also we sometimes get very good example, because when our nice boys and girls are dancing together in chanting Hare Krishna at least for the time they forget about the sex impulse. This is perfection of life, to be so much attached to Krishna that all insignificant pleasures are utterly forgotten. (Srila Prabhupada letter to Uddhava Feb 18, 1969)
“A devotee, therefore, should execute his devotional services with full energy, endurance, and confidence. He should perform his scheduled duties, he should be pure in heart, and he should serve in association with devotees. All six of these items will lead the devotee to the path of success. One should not be discouraged in the discharge of devotional service. Failures may not be detrimental; they may be the pillars of success. One must have good faith in the regulative principles followed by the self-realized souls, and one should not be doubtful about the ultimate result of such devotional service. Rather one must go on executing his prescribed duties without hesitation, and one should never be influenced by unwanted association.” (Light of the Bhagavata 43)
Chant Hare Krishna and be happy!