Surrender begins with accepting whatever is favorable for Krishna consciousness and rejecting whatever is not

In response to the article I wrote about how devotees struggling with homosexual desire can gradually become free of their sex urge, a devotee responded by saying that all that Lord Krishna prescribes up to verse 18.66 (sarva dharman parityajya…) should not be practiced.

Here is his letter, and my response follows.

> Dear XYZ,
> I did not read the entire article because this “issue” is something I am
> less concerned about.
> What I am more concerned about is the misuse of the Bhagavad Gita.
> Krishna Kirti prabhu presents a half truth (i.e. a faulty argument) at the
> beginning of his essay which I would prefer to address.
> Although Krishsna does say not to give up dharma at the beginning of chapter
> 18, by the end of the chapter he does says to give it up. And thsi is
> substantiated by Srila Prabhupada.
> Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall
> deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear. [BG 18.66]

[Author quotes purport in full.]

> The conclusion is that the later instructions trump the earlier
> instructions.
> Moreover, even in a sinful condition, Prabhupada states, one should continue
> in bhakti yoga.
> In Dwaraka, there were prostitutes who were devotees and Krishna smiled at
> them and gave them the same respect as any other resident of Dwaraka.
> If KK wants to present a different opinion than Krishna and Prabhupada, that
> is his choice. But one can’t have a different opinion than the Lord and be a
> representative of the Lord.
> That is my point.

[My response]

My so-called misinterpretation is not a misinterpretation at all. Different people are at different levels of consciousness, and they require different instructions to help the come to the point of surrendering to Krishna. The Bhagavad Gita is full of different instructions for people at different stages of consciousness.

For example, Gita verse 12:8 first says “Just fix your mind upon me, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and engage all your intelligence in me. Thus you will live in me always, without a doubt.”

But then in the next verse, Lord Krishna says if you cannot practice this, then follow the rules of bhakti yoga and try to develop he desire to attain him. In the verse after that, the Lord says that if you can not follow the rules about to yoga, then just try to do some work for him.

So there are people at different levels of consciousness. And they require different directions in order to make spiritual advancement. Not everyone is competent to surrender immediately.

As under discussion, in the purport to Gita verse 18:5, Srila Prabhupada explains that acts of sacrifice charity and penance are not to be given up because such acts are for the advancement of human society. He says,

“Sannyasis should never associate with women, but that does not mean that one who is in the lower stages of life, a young man, should not accept a wife in the marriage ceremony. All prescribed sacrifices are meant for achieving the Supreme Lord. Therefore in the lower stages, they should not be given up.”

So here we see again this distinction between higher and lower qualification in the Gita, and on account of these different levels of consciousness there are different rules for people to follow for their progressive elevation. Devotees who want to surrender to Krishna must therefore begin the process of surrender according to the instructions appropriate for their level of consciousness.

The process of surrender is defined by Srila Sanatana Goswami as follows:

One should accept things favorable for discharging devotional service, reject things unfavorable, believe firmly in the Lord’s protection, feel exclusively dependent on the mercy of the Lord, have no interest separate from the interests of the Lord and always feel oneself meek and humble.

Commenting on this criteria, Srila Prabhupada says, “The Lord commands that one surrender unto Him by following these six guidelines, but the unintelligent so-called scholars of the world misunderstand these demands and urge to general mass of people to reject them.”

So, if someone needs to be married, and on the basis of Gita verse 18:66 we tell that person he should not get married, then are we not rejecting the process of surrender? According to this statement of Srila Prabhupada, we would be rejecting the surrender process. That would be committing violence against other living entities.

The mistake attributed to me turns out not to be a mistake after all. The recommendation to perform sacrifice, charity and pennance are needed by most people, including devotees. Why else would Srila Prabhupada get his disciples married? Because their surrender requies it of them.

Why prescribed duties are same for gay and straight devotees

Proper use of left hand vs. right is a good example of how svadharma cannot be changed merely because of feeling awkward or unnatural. Even if you are left handed, the rules of cleanliness and proper use of which hands for what purposes do not change. Similarly, because one may be gay does not mean that his prescribed duties are any different from those of anyone else with a male body. His prescribed duties would still be the same because he has the same kind of body.

Srila Prabhupada on Lesbianism

Mother Govinda dasi’s recollection of an encounter with Srila Prabhupada concerning a lady disciple struggling with her homosexuality is informative. The link is here:

It is interesting to note that Srila Prabhupada says that all sexual attraction binds us to the material world, but that only sex between a man and a woman can be sanctified, not homosexual sex.

Purification in Krishna Consciousness – What Homosexuals Need to Know

Krishna-kirti das, Date: 5 Dec 2014.

In many countries in the world, what is called “gay marriage” is accepted by law and practiced if not lauded in those countries. Naturally, devotees and prospective devotees from these countries ask about the place of gay marriage in Krishna consciousness and sometimes harbor doubts because Srila Prabhupada not only did not endorse it but spoke unequivocally against it. More often than not, these devotees are misdirected by others who in the name of Krishna consciousness preach a faulty notion of incremental purification called “gay monogamy”, which is the idea that if you restrict your sexual partners to one instead of many, then that results in some purification, because fewer sexual partners means less sinful activity. This mistaken notion belies a lack of knowledge about how dharma actually purifies the practitioner, and those who follow such advice miss the opportunity for genuine emancipation from their troublesome condition. In explaining what will not and what will work in terms of purification, these topics will be explained in order: how dharma in pursuit of bhakti purifies us, the nature of sex desire and its implications for homosexuals, what homosexuals who are or want to be devotees should do to overcome their conditioning.

Purification through dharma

Devotees sometimes ask , “If bhakti is superior to dharma and we are already engaged in performing bhakti, then do we need to follow the prescribed rules and regulations for dharma?” Lord Krishna addresses this very question in His famous conversation with His friend and disciple, Arjuna, in the Bhagavad-gita. “Some men declare that all kinds of fruitive activities should be given up, but there are yet other sages who maintain that acts of sacrifice, charity and penance should never be abandoned” (18.3). Lord Krishna then gives his opinion: “Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance are not to be given up but should be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity and penance purify the great souls” (18.5). Thus according to the Lord, dharma is not optional, it is mandatory even for the great souls.

What is it that even the great souls need to be purified of? Attachment to matter. In the next four verses (18.6 – 9) Lord Krishna explains how performing one’s prescribed duties leads to renunciation. “Anyone who gives up prescribed duties as troublesome or, or out of fear, is said to be in the mode of passion. Such action never leads to the elevation of renunciation” (18.8). Renunciation of one’s prescribed duties leads away from detachment from matter, which is true renunciation. “But he who performs his prescribed duty only because it ought to be done, and renounces all attachment to the fruit—his renunciation is of the nature of goodness, O Arjuna” (18.9). In the purport to this verse, Srila Prabhupada elaborates on this principle.

Prescribed duties must be performed with this mentality. One should act without attachment for the result; he should be disassociated from the modes of work. A man working in Krishna consciousness in a factory does not associate himself with the work of the factory, nor with the workers of the factory. He simply works for Krishna. And when he gives up the result for Krishna, he is acting transcendentally.

The preceding verses and Srila Prabhupada’s commentary on those verses establish that performing one’s prescribed duties as a matter of duty steadfastly, without abandoning them, without expectation of reward, and for the sake of Krishna leads to detachment from matter. The same principles directly apply to charity, austerity and penance.

Renunciation is, of course, a very important result, because unless one has developed detachment from matter, it will be very difficult to make advancement in devotional service. This is because attachment to matter obliges one sooner or later to engage in sinful activity. Yesam tvanta gatam papam jananam punya karmanam, te dvandvam moha nirmuktah yajante shradayanvitah, “Only to those who have acted piously in this life and in previous lives, whose sinful actions are completely eradicated and who are freed from the duality of delusion, engage themselves in My devotional service with determination” (7.28). Otherwise, it is like pouring water while trying to light a fire. Therefore Lord Krishna has advised that prescribed duties must never be given up, for they help one maintain his determination to make advancement in Krishna consciousness.

The salient points to remember about dharma are that one’s prescribed duties (sva-dharma) must be performed steadfastly without abandoning them, without expectation of reward, and for the sake of Krishna. That will lead to detachment from matter.

The Nature of Homosexual Desire

Devotees who are homosexual and who know that acts of sacrifice, charity and penance are mandatory and beneficial for spiritual life therefore inquire about marriage. They understand that their appetite to enjoy sex with other men, or if women their appetite to enjoy other women, is a great stumbling block for their own devotional service. And since the homosexual urge seems natural to them, they inquire with the hope that marriage can be adjusted to accommodate their sexual preferences. Could not an adjusted form of marriage for gay and lesbian devotees not also be beneficial?

To answer this question one must begin with an inquiry about the fundamental nature of sexual desire. According to Lord Rshabhadeva (Srimad-Bhagavatam 5.5.8), pumsah striya mithuni- bhavam etam, “The fundamental principle of material existence is the attraction between male and female.” Because this statement is comprehensive, it means that homosexual attraction must be understood in terms of male-female attraction. There is no third gender. There is only male and female, and all sexual attraction must be understood according to this principle.

As explained by Srila Prabhupada in his commentary on the Bhagavatam (SB 3.20.26 purport), “It appears here that the homosexual appetite of males for each other is created in this episode of the creation of the demons by Brahma,” and when at the request of Lord Vishnu Lord Brahma shed his body, that body took on the appearance of a beautiful female who continued to attract the minds of the demons (SB 3.20.29). Thus the Bhagavatam explains homosexual attraction also in terms of male-female attraction. This is in accordance with the principle enunciated by Lord Rshabhadeva, that male-female attraction is the fundamental principle of material life.

Since homosexual attraction is of the same nature as male-female attraction, it differs only by degree, not in kind. In terms of degree, the homosexual appetite represents an extreme condition of lust, which is described at graphically and at length in Bhagavatam verses 3.20.29 – 37. In this regard, Srila Prabhupada comments, “As early morning is the period for spiritual cultivation, the beginning of evening is the period for passion. Demoniac men are generally very fond of sex enjoyment” (SB 3.29). What we see in this section of verses is that lust is definitive of the demoniac mentality. “The difference between demons and demigods is that a beautiful woman very easily attracts the minds of demons, but she cannot attract the mind of a godly person” (SB 3.20.31 purport).

The salient points to remember about the nature of homosexual desire is that it is a form of male-female attraction, it is an extreme degree of lust, and it is definitive of the demoniac mentality.

Overcoming Homosexual Conditioning

As all devotees know, “we are not the body.” This means everyone is eligible to overcome his (or her) material conditioning, chiefly the attraction to sex life. In this regard, within the Krishna consciousness movement, there are two kinds of sincere devotees who are materially conditioned. According to Lord Krishna (BG 12.9), one kind of devotee is able to follow the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga and does so in order to develop a desire to attain love of Krishna, abhyasa yogena tato mam icchaptum. The other kind (BG 12.10) cannot follow the regulative principles but is nonetheless willing to do something for Krishna. In due course of time, that person also will attain perfection, kurvan siddhim avapsyasi. That means the way one should be directed to purify himself from attachment to matter depends on whether he is fit to follow the regulative principles.

The implication of this for homosexual devotees is that they should expect to spend much more time doing some service for Krishna without expectation of being able to follow the regulative principles than would other devotees. Anyone who is afflicted by extreme lust will have great difficulty following the regulative principles of bhakti-yoga. Since being homosexual means one is afflicted by excessive lust, devotees who are homosexual will tend to have more difficulty following the regulative principles than most other devotees.

The implication of homosexuality being an extreme form of male-female attraction means that the prescribed duties followed by heterosexual devotees, such as marriage, will also purify homosexuals, provided, of course, one who is homosexual also has the steadfast determination to follow his (or her) prescribed duties without expectation of reward and for the sake of Krishna. If someone is determined to follow his prescribed duties however troublesome, then his attraction to matter (and hence sex life) will also slacken as a result. He will be elevated to the platform of renunciation.

Whether heterosexual or homosexual, some have the mistaken belief that companionship in marriage (companionate marriage) shared by two people is somehow purifying. But is it? Let’s say instead that a husband and wife in a marriage actually despise each other. They can’t stand each other, but they stay married nonetheless. Are they being purified of their attraction to matter? They most definitely are!

As discussed earlier, sacrifice, austerity, and charity must be performed in the mode of goodness to be beneficial. If they are performed in the modes of passion or ignorance then they have no spiritual worth. That is the difference between a grihastha and a grihamedi. A grihastha and his dharma-patni help each other perform their prescribed duties without expectation of reward and however troublesome. A grihamedhi and grihamedhini however are focused on material enjoyment, which is why they are apt to divorce. As discussed earlier, Lord Krishna says that renunciation of one’s prescribed duties because they are troublesome is renunciation in the mode of passion. If you want to leave a marriage because you don’t have an affectionate wife, or you don’t have an affectionate husband, then you are in the mode of passion, and your pending separation and divorce will do no one any good.

Another implication of homosexuality not differing in kind from male-female attraction is that gay marriage is not approved of or sanctioned by the shastras or acharyas. As already noted, Srila Prabhupada was unequivocally against it. The reason there cannot be homosexual marriage is that one’s religious duties are prescribed according to one’s nature. That means there are certain duties that come with having a particular kind of body, because that body is ultimately given to us by the Lord.

“Everyone should think that he is engaged in a particular type of occupation by Hrishikesa, the master of the senses. And by the result of the work in which one is engaged, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Sri Krishna, should be worshiped” (18.46).

What this means is that if you are a man and you marry, your duties to a wife are prescribed for you, because it is your nature. You have a male body, so one has duties to complement the fact of one’s embodied existence. Thus sva-bhava (one’s nature) determines one’s sva-dharma (prescribed duties). That is why the Lord says, “It is better to engage in one’s own occupation, even though one may perform it imperfectly, than to accept another’s occupation and perform it perfectly. Prescribed duties are never affected by sinful reactions” (Bg 18.47).

Getting the Mercy of the Devotees

Since most devotees who are homosexual will find it too difficult to follow the four regulative principles, they will have to not only do some steady service on behalf of Krishna but also cultivate friendships with and serve unreservedly devotees who are, as Srila Rupa Goswami says, sushrushaya bhajana vijnan ananya anya nindadi shunya hridam ipsita sanga labhdya, advanced in undeviated devotional service and whose hearts are devoid of the propensity to criticize others. This is very important because such devotees are so powerful that they themselves purify holy places. And if one receives great favor from them, one may immediately come to be situated irrevocably on the transcendental platform.

There are many examples of this. By the grace of Vidura, Dhritarastra and Gandhari immediately left home to prepare for death. The prostitute that was dispatched to entrap Srila Haridas Thakura in a sex scandal herself became a fully transcendental \devotee of the Lord in a matter of a few days just by hearing Haridas Thakura chant the Mahamantra. Freedom from material desire can happen in an instant. A humble service attitude will attract the mercy of the Lord and His devotees.

Avoiding bad association

If good association can immediately free one from material entanglement, then bad association can ruin one’s spiritual life just as quickly. One should recognize that since a demoniac nature implies excessive sex desire and excessive sex desire implies a demoniac nature, and since homosexuality itself is a symptom of excessive sex desire, one is very likely to encounter one or more so-called devotee homosexuals who are determined to promote something irreligious in the name of Krishna.

For example, some self-styled advocates for the cause of gay devotees in the Hare Krishna movement claim that the Bhagavatam does not address homosexuality and that we have to engage in creative “moral reasoning” about it, and others say that in addition to male and female there is a third (homosexual) gender. But both are wrong because they propose something that is contrary to the Lord’s statement. If there were actually a third-gender whose fundamental principle of sexual attraction is different from that of male-female attraction, then the Lord’s verse would be in error, and the Bhagavatam as an authoritative scripture would be useless. One should avoid the company of such persons. They twist the message of sastra, however well-meaning they may seem to be.


Devotees who are homosexual have extra challenges they face. Nonetheless, the community of devotees is willing to help, but the help should be sought on Krishna’s terms. That means especially following the means given by Srila Prabhupada through the parampara and not following some other idea that might bear some resemblance to religious principles but actually are not.

Some principles to keep in mind:

  1. All sexual attraction is male-female sexual attraction, even when it seems otherwise.
  2. Homosexuality has to be understood as an extreme manifestation of male-female sex attraction.
  3. Since sva-dharma is based on sva-bhava, and since homosexuality is also fundamentally male-female attraction, one’s prescribed duties will be the same as those of heterosexual devotees in society.
  4. Good association will help promote one to the transcendental platform. Bad association could ruin you for life.


  • Keep the association of advanced devotees and humbly serve them.
  • If you are married to someone of the opposite sex, stay married.
  • Perform your duties without attachment and without abandoning them.


  • Do not associate with people who promote religious principles opposed to the Bhagavatam.
  • Do not participate in or become involved in the new gay marriages. They will not help.
  • Do not openly identify as a homosexual if you can avoid it.

JRR Tolkien on Chivalry

By JRR Tolkien. From a letter to Michael Tolkien 6-8 March 1941
[On the subject of marriage and relations between the sexes.]

There is in our Western culture the romantic chivalric tradition still strong, though as a product of Christendom (yet by no means the same as Christian ethics) the times are inimical to it. It idealizes ‘love’ — and as far as it goes can be very good, since it takes in far more than physical pleasure, and enjoins if not purity, at least fidelity, and so self-denial, ‘service’, courtesy, honour, and courage. Its weakness is, of course, that it began as an artificial courtly game, a way of enjoying love for its own sake without reference to (and indeed contrary to) matrimony. Its centre was not God, but imaginary Deities, Love and the Lady. It still tends to make the Lady a kind of guiding star or divinity – of the old-fashioned ‘his divinity’ = the woman he loves – the object or reason of noble conduct. This is, of course, false and at best make-believe. The woman is another fallen human-being with a soul in peril. But combined and harmonized with religion (as long ago it was, producing much of that beautiful devotion to Our Lady that has been God’s way of refining so much our gross manly natures and emotions, and also of warming and colouring our hard, bitter, religion) it can be very noble. Then it produces what I suppose is still felt, among those who retain even vestigiary Christianity, to be the highest ideal of love between man and woman. Yet I still think it has dangers. It is not wholly true, and it is not perfectly ‘theocentric’. It takes, or at any rate has in the past taken, the young man’s eye off women as they are, as companions in shipwreck not guiding stars. (One result is for observation of the actual to make the young man turn cynical.) To forget their desires, needs and temptations. It inculcates exaggerated notions of ‘true love’, as a fire from without, a permanent exaltation, unrelated to age, childbearing, and plain life, and unrelated to will and purpose. (One result of that is to make young folk look for a ‘love’ that will keep them always nice and warm in a cold world, without any effort of theirs; and the incurably romantic go on looking even in the squalor of the divorce courts).

Women really have not much part in all this, though they may use the language of romantic love, since it is so entwined in all our idioms. The sexual impulse makes women (naturally when unspoiled more unselfish) very sympathetic and understanding, or specially desirous of being so (or seeming so), and very ready to enter into all the interests, as far as they can, from ties to religion, of the young man they are attracted to. No intent necessarily to deceive: sheer instinct: the servient, help meet instinct, generously warmed by desire and young blood. Under this impulse they can in fact often achieve very remarkable insight and understanding, even of things otherwise outside their natural range: for it is their gift to be receptive, stimulated, fertilized (in many other matters than the physical) by the male. Every teacher knows that. How quickly an intelligent woman can be taught, grasp his ideas, see his point – and how (with rare exceptions) they can go no further, when they leave his hand, or when they cease to take a personal interest in him. But this is their natural avenue to love. Before the young woman knows where she is (and while the romantic young man, when he exists, is still sighing) she may actually ‘fall in love’. Which for her, an unspoiled natural young woman, means that she wants to become the mother of the young man’s children, even if that desire is by no means clear to her or explicit. And then things are going to happen: and they may be very painful and harmful, if things go wrong. Particularly if the young man only wanted a temporary guiding star and divinity (until he hitches his waggon to a brighter one), and was merely enjoying the flattery of sympathy nicely seasoned with a titillation of sex – all quiteinnocent, of course, and worlds away from ‘seduction’. accessed 21 Nov. 2014

Back to Godhead Magazine’s Policy Against Running Articles by “Controversial” Authors

By Krishna-kirti das, 21 Sep 2014

I have been informed by Prabhu Nagaraja, current editor of Back to Godhead magazine, that they will not run any of my articles because I have written “controversial” things on other online forums. (I put “controversial” in quotes for a reason, which I will soon explain.)

This is our initial chain of correspondence:

Forwarded conversation
Subject: Article for submission: Reforming Marriage in Society

From: *Krishna Kirti Das* <kri...>
Date: Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Dear Editors, PAMHO AGTSP.

Please accept the attached article for submission to Back to Godhead

Your servant, Krishna-kirti das

From: *Nagaraja Dasa* <>
Date: Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 9:12 AM
To: Krishna Kirti Das <kri...>

Thank you, Prabhu. We'll review it, and I'll get back to you.

Your servant,
Nagaraja dasa

From: *Nagaraja Dasa* <>
Date: Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 9:54 AM
To: Krishna Kirti Das <kri...>

Dear Krishna-kirti Prabhu,

BTG is aimed at the ISKCON congregation, especially people who don't know
ISKCON inside-out, and therefore we prefer to avoid controversies within
the movement. Considering your controversial writing in other forums, we've
decided that the safe course for BTG would be not to run your articles.

Hare Krishna.

Your servant,
Nagaraja dasa

According to Nagaraj, BTG’s readership does not know “ISKCON inside-out”, so unless the BTG reader is already someone who does know “ISKCON inside-out”, how is he (or, she) going to know that I am (in Nagaraja’s estimation) “controversial”? The article itself (available here) contains no mention of past or current ISKCON controversies, neither directly nor indirectly. It’s just a straight-forward critique using the three modes of nature as first principles to evaluate modern family therapeutic practice. No ISKCON controversies here.

And then there is this problem with who counts as “controversial”? What is your criteria? One man’s “controversy” is another’s settled truth. It’s a propaganda word that has no meaning. Essentially, he is just calling me names because one or more issues I am on the side he doesn’t agree with.

I subsequently asked a senior devotee and disciple of Srila Prabhupada who was also formerly an editor of the magazine if he could intervene, and he was kind enough to do so. After getting little more than the same response given to me, it was evident that Nagaraja was determined to be unreasonable.

Here is my below response to him:

Date: Sun, 14 Sep 2014 07:37:19 -0500
Subject: Re: Article for submission: Reforming Marriage in Society
From: Krishna Kirti Das <kri...>
To: Nagaraja Dasa <>

Dear Nagaraj Prabhu,

I am sorry to hear about your decision and about your feelings towards me.
The real losers in this, however, are ISKCON's congregational members that
you are allegedly preaching to through BTG.

Last month at the San Antonio preaching center, I was asked by the
president there to give the Sunday Feast lecture, to people "who don't know
ISKCON inside-out". And the lecture was very well received by the guests.
In particular, one young man and his fiancée warmly thanked me afterwards
for it. Using the content of that lecture I wrote the article that I
submitted to you and which you apparently found no reason to review because
of my "controversial writing" in other forums.  As far as the article is
concerned, there is nothing "controversial" in it; I took care to avoid
touching on any ongoing ISKCON controversies. And except for excerpts from
the APA article, which was the focus of the article's critique, the content
closely follows Srila Prabhupada and the Gita. It was a good faith attempt
to help create a revolution in the consciousness of the members of a
misdirected civilization. But none of that matters because the content of
the article itself was irrelevant to your decision to perpetually ban
anything I write from BTG, which then brings us to consider what, exactly,
are your purposes by name-calling and labeling me "controversial."

All controversies have at least two sides. One man's "controversial"
statement is another man's "moderate" statement. One man's "extremist" is
another man's "freedom fighter", and so forth. It is unfortunate that as an
experienced editor you have descended to using such newspeak. And your
response is disingenuous because you have knowingly chosen a side of a
controversy yet pretend to be "uncontroversial."

Mother Urmila, a member of BTGs board of editors, writes plenty of
controversial things on other forums, especially when it comes to advocacy
for women's equality. For example, on the Dandavats website is a
transcribed lecture of hers that very quickly became controversial because
other women started objecting to her promoting women's equality. (Here is
the lecture: That article has more than
400 comments, and you want to pretend that  she does not write or say
controversial things? Hence your response has been thoroughly disingenuous.

And as far as Urmila is concerned, this isn't just a gaffe. Her struggle
for women's equality in ISKCON overshadows her other work. As a member of
the Shastric Advisory Committee, she and another female devotee were
contributors to the recent SAC paper endorsing female diksha gurus, which
was noted both by some GBC members and ISKCON India leaders as constituting
a substantial conflict of interest. Her participation gives all the
appearance that she is contributing to an unbalanced effort to persuade
others to elect her to be a diksha-guru. That is what a conflict of
interest means: not only must justice be done, it must appear to be done as
well. She and the other female devotee should have recused themselves from
this project, like justices do when a potential conflict of interest in a
case exists. But they didn't.

Indeed, on receipt of the paper by the GBC, it was disclosed to the GBC,
and later to the public, that the paper itself excluded the views of
dissenting SAC members. Its purpose was not to inform but to sway an
audience by presenting a view on the matter the authors knew was biased.
Mother Urmila made a leading contribution to that baldly ambitious piece of
propaganda, and I don't recall that she ever distanced herself from it. And
here you are playing make-believe that she is not controversial. If you had
been practicing what you have been preaching about avoiding controversies,
you would have banned Mother Urmila from BTG long ago and taken steps to
remove her from the editorial board.

And it's not just Mother Urmila who writes, says, and does controversial
things and who is more than welcome to grace the pages of BTG. There is a
certain Swami who for years has been advocating and continues to advocate
something he calls "gay monogamy", who routinely and publicly mocks temple
attire of dhoti and sari and street harinama sankirtana, and who has a
project called "Krishna West", which is itself a controversial undertaking.
And it is without doubt that you would welcome his contributions to BTG.
Why? Not because he does not write controversial things in other forums but
because in terms of controversies, you are more or less on the same side of
them, at least most of the time. That is why your labeling me
"controversial" is hypocritical. You don't mind at all someone who writes
things that are controversial so long as you agree with them.

And let us not forget your own wife, Mother Pranada, who, when women's
rights in ISKCON in the 90s and early 2000s was a hot issue, earned herself
a reputation as a firebrand (ahem, your "freedom fighter") for that cause
and contributed at least one article to BTG to that end. But in your argot
that's decidedly not controversial, because you agree with her views.
Things you  disagree with are "controversial", and things you agree with
are "reasonable." (Funny how language works like that.)

And then later on, because of trying to practice the equality she preached,
she found herself at the center of a public scandal that resulted in the
marginalization of one of ISKCON's most important early leaders and
literary figures as well as the marginalization of his own literary
contributions. Oops! Maybe there was some truth in what all those people
you disagree with and label "controversial" have been saying all along. You
can say a lot of things about your wife's involvement in that incident, but
you cannot say that it was not controversial--especially in light of her
equal rights advocacy. It was orders of magnitude more controversial than
anything I have ever written, said, or done for that matter. But without
doubt your good wife would be welcome to contribute more articles to BTG,
would she not?

So, what are we to make of this? It's certainly not the content of what I
submitted to you that matters now, for that was irrelevant to your
decision. As far as controversies are concerned, you have misused language
to engage in name-calling and to hide the fact that you and like-minded
others endorse or write plenty of things that are controversial and are
still welcome to write for BTG. And by refusing to deal with substantive
matters--like the content of my article--you have signaled loud and clear
that for your editorial decisions you and the BTG institution place your
own personal agendas and ambitions above any kind of objective criteria,
like sadhu, shastra, and guru. If my article is at an acceptable standard
of writing for your publication and does indeed faithfully represent the
parampara on the topic that it addressed, then by withholding it from your
readership solely for reasons unrelated to the article's merits you are
committing spiritual violence against them. That I may have written
something controversial in another forum is irrelevant because so have a
good many of you.

The unfortunate outcome of this is that BTGs readers, who mostly don't know
the ins and outs of ISKCON, will in good faith imbibe the materialistic
content representing your personal agendas along with the genuinely
spiritual content that still makes its way into BTG today. It is
unfortunate that Srila Prabhupada's historic publication under your
guidance has begun to place petty politics and personal agendas above its
original, spiritual mandate.

Yours in the service of Sri Sri Gaura-Nitai and Srila Prabhupada,

Krishna-kirti das

So, that is it. Nagaraja defines “controvesial” as something someone says or writes and which he does not agree with. Not unlike how Mayavadis indulge in the grammatical manipulation of shastra to make it say what they want it to mean, Nagaraja’s use of language here depends on the corruption of language. The only difference is the Mayavadis do it as a part of a formal, trained process whereas Nagaraja et al do it because similar processes are “in the air”, so to speak, a part of their culture. When Srila Prabhupada says in his second pranama mantra that he is delivering the Western countries from impersonalism and voidism, here in Nagaraja’s dismissal is exactly the kind of thing Srila Prabhupada tried to save us from.

Reforming Marriage in Society

by Krishna-kirti das, 21 Sep 2014

“Even when therapists speak of the need for ‘meaning’ or ‘love,’ they define love and meaning simply as the fulfillment of the patient’s emotional requirements. It hardly occurs to them—nor is there any reason why it should, given the nature of the therapeutic enterprise—to encourage the subject to subordinate his needs and interests to those of others, to someone or some cause or tradition outside himself.”

— Christopher Lasch, The Culture of Narcissism (1979)

Marriage is a universal human institution. All human societies have it, almost everyone in the course of their lives will be married at one time or another, and almost everyone looks forward to not only being married but being happily married.  However, the problem with marriage in much of the world is that while the shared aspiration for happiness within marriage has not waned, there are a great number of marriages that end unhappily in divorce. According to the latest statistics from the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the marriage rate is 6.8 per 1000 people, and the divorce rate is 3.6 per 1000 people. That is, in America for every 100 marriages that take place, 53 end in divorce. In other industrialized countries like Britain and France, the statistics are similar, and India itself is also seeing a rise in divorce. Why is the institution of marriage so prone to dissolution nowadays, and what can be done to reform it?

In order to better understand why marriages today are so fragile, it is necessary to view the problem through an objective conceptual framework—a working theory about the phenomenon being studied—that can be used to understand the problem as it is. Many theories have been created to understand worldly phenomena, and these have been put forward by professional philosophers, scientists, and psychologists. They have produced different theories about human behavior, and these theories have informed and guided innumerable attempts to improve the quality of various facets of human life, including that of marriage. But these theories are defective, as they have been created by imperfect people with vested interests to see the world in one way as opposed to some other. Because these theories are subjective and defective, they cannot help us understand the trouble with marriage today. Indeed, despite vigorous research activity guided by these theories and backed by generous government funding, psychologists have been unable to substantially alter the high divorce rate in society at large. If substantial progress is to be made, efforts to improve marriage must be guided by an objective conceptual framework, an objective view of the problem.

That objective framework comes from Lord Krishna. In the Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna analyzes all physical and psychic phenomena in terms of the three modes of material nature—goodness, passion, and ignorance. This framework is the correct starting point for understanding all natural phenomena, including marriage. Because it is put forward by Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, it is to be accepted not simply as theory but as fact. Whatever the Lord says is to be accepted over the opinion of all others, as He is the supreme authority. He knows everything directly and indirectly about the world, and He is not prone to the defects of ordinary people. Thus whatever Lord Krishna says must be accepted as objective, without defect or error. In the Gita (10.12 – 13), Lord Krishna’s friend and disciple Arjuna confirms this truth about the Lord:

paraṁ brahma paraṁ dhāma pavitraṁ paramaṁ bhavān
puruṣaṁ śāśvataṁ divyam ādi-devam ajaṁ vibhum

āhus tvām ṛṣayaḥ sarve devarṣir nāradas tathā
asito devalo vyāsaḥ svayaṁ caiva bravīṣi me

“You [Krishna] are the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the ultimate abode, the purest, the Absolute Truth. You are the eternal, transcendental, original person, the unborn, the greatest. All the great sages such as Nārada, Asita, Devala and Vyāsa confirm this truth about You, and now You Yourself are declaring it to me.”

Not only does Arjuna declare this, but he also notes that other great sages, Narada, Asita, Devala, and Vyasadeva, great authorities in their own right, also confirm the Lord’s superlative, absolute position. As Lord Krishna says, “There is no being existing, either here or among the demigods in the higher planetary systems, which is freed from these three modes born of material nature” (Gita 18.40). On the authority of Arjuna, the great sages, and Lord Krishna Himself, we accept this statement of Lord Krishna’s as factual and without error. Thus our analysis of the problem of marriage in modern times proceeds from Lord Krishna’s framework of the three modes of material nature.

According to this framework, happiness in marriage can be analyzed in terms of the modes of goodness, passion and ignorance. As per Lord Krishna,

Bg 18.37 — That which in the beginning may be just like poison but at the end is just like nectar and which awakens one to self-realization is said to be happiness in the mode of goodness.

Bg 18.38 — That happiness which is derived from contact of the senses with their objects and which appears like nectar at first but poison at the end is said to be of the nature of passion.

Bg 18.39 — And that happiness which is blind to self-realization, which is delusion from beginning to end and which arises from sleep, laziness and illusion is said to be of the nature of ignorance.

How is the dominant, modern notion of marital happiness classified within this framework? Today’s leading authorities on marriage are to be found in the profession of psychology, and the American Psychological Association is the largest organization of psychology professionals in the world. At their official website is an article titled, “Happy couples: How to keep your relationship healthy,” and this is what the article says we should do:

Between kids, careers and outside commitments, it can be difficult to stay connected to your partner. Yet there are good reasons to make the effort. In one study, for example, researchers found couples that reported boredom during their seventh year of marriage were significantly less satisfied with their relationships nine years later.

To keep things interesting, some couples plan regular date nights. Even dates can get old, though, if you’re always renting a movie or going to the same restaurant. Experts recommend breaking out of the routine and trying new things — whether that’s going dancing, taking a class together or packing an afternoon picnic.

Intimacy is also a critical component of romantic relationships. Some busy couples find it helpful to schedule sex by putting it on the calendar. It may not be spontaneous to have it written in red ink, but setting aside time for an intimate encounter helps ensure that your physical and emotional needs are met.[1]

What mode or combinations of the modes of nature does this prescription reflect? Here are some signs: “regular date nights”, going to “the same restaurant,” watching different movies, “dancing”, taking a class together, going on a picnic. The page also makes a big point about having sex. “Some busy couples find it helpful to schedule sex. . .” All these prescriptions are characterized by happiness that arises from contact of the senses with their objects—a sure sign of happiness in the mode of passion. And because happiness as prescribed in the article is so thoroughly defined in terms of sensual indulgence, it is blind to self-realization and therefore also has an element of the mode of ignorance. According Lord Krishna’s framework of the modes of material nature, the prevailing idea in society about happiness in marriage is dominated by the mode of passion and mixed with the mode of ignorance.

Marriage in the mixed modes of passion and ignorance explains why marriage today is so fragile. Happiness in the mode of passion is like “nectar in the beginning and poison at the end,” which explains the high divorce rate. In his purport to the verse about happiness in passion (Gita 18.38), Srila Prabhupada describes this all-too-familiar scenario:

A young man and a young woman meet, and the senses drive the young man to see her, to touch her and to have sexual intercourse. In the beginning this may be very pleasing to the senses, but at the end, or after some time, it becomes just like poison. They are separated or there is divorce, there is lamentation, there is sorrow, etc. Such happiness is always in the mode of passion. Happiness derived from a combination of the senses and the sense objects is always a cause of distress and should be avoided by all means.

Indeed, even the APA article notes that “more than 40 percent of new marriages” end in divorce, yet the article still insists that “romantic relationships are important for our happiness and well-being.” Not just any relationship will do, “romance” is important for our happiness. But is it? According to the conception of marriage in the mode of goodness, a topic we shall soon visit, romance at most is incidental to marriage, not essential to it. The happiness within a marriage in the mode of goodness comes not from sense gratification but arises from a different source, which is why marriages in the mode of goodness are much more durable and in the end much happier.

Nonetheless, a question naturally follows from the futility of finding happiness in the modes of passion and ignorance: how is it that an entire, influential profession cannot grasp that its recommendations are not actually a remedy for unhealthy relationships but are instead fundamental causes for unhealthy relationships?

The answer is simple: barring fringe exceptions, the most influential theories in the field of modern psychology define the self as nothing more than a collection of senses, either physical or psychological (mind, ego). Lord Krishna says that this belief is held by the asuras, those who have an ungodly nature: “They say that this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control. They say it is produced of sex desire and has no cause other than lust. . . . They believe that to gratify the senses is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus until the end of life their anxiety is immeasurable” (Gita 16.8, 11). They believe that the senses, whether physical or mental, are who we really are, and therefore they cannot conceive of any aspiration higher than the satisfaction of those senses. They believe this is “the prime necessity.” Consequently, it never occurs to them that there could be some other, higher standard of happiness that should instead be pursued. That is why the APA article assures us that a sexually “intimate encounter helps ensure that your physical and emotional needs are met.” Their assumptions about the self are wrong, so their conclusions are wrong.

Because further research in marital satisfaction based on the principle of sense gratification results in a further refinement of happiness in the modes of passion and ignorance,  no lasting benefit can be obtained from the advice or therapies produced by modern psychology, at least in its current orientation. For example, the APA article notes that “in particular, negative communication patterns such as anger and contempt are linked to an increased likelihood of splitting up.” And thus it recommends avoiding these and developing positive communication patterns. But even if one adopts the best communication strategies, the stated objective for utilizing them is still to obtain sense gratification, and this is the real source of marital dissatisfaction. It is still “nectar in the beginning, poison at the end.”

Marriage in the mode of goodness however takes the opposite approach. Since anger is a product of unsatisfied lust and lust is the motivation for sense-gratification, marriage in the mode of goodness actively cultivates indifference to lust itself. Reduced lust means reduced anger, reduced anger means less marital dissatisfaction, less marital dissatisfaction means less divorce. Lord Krishna’s first lesson in Bhagavad-gita is that we are not the body, we are not the temporary mind and senses. We are spirit souls whose factual existence is beyond the sphere of matter. Hence, sense-gratification as the basis of happiness is discouraged. Therefore marriage in the mode of goodness focuses on carrying out prescribed marital duties regardless of pleasure or displeasure.

Lord Krishna explains (Gita 2.14) that the non-permanent appearance of happiness and distress arise from sense perception; one must therefore perform one’s duties without being disturbed. “According to Vedic injunction, one has to take his bath early in the morning even during the month of Māgha (January-February). It is very cold at that time, but in spite of that a man who abides by the religious principles does not hesitate to take his bath,” says Srila Prabhupada. “Similarly, a woman does not hesitate to cook in the kitchen in the months of May and June, the hottest part of the summer season. One has to execute his duty in spite of climatic inconveniences.”

Because the true self stands apart from the physical body and mind, carrying out one’s prescribed duties with indifference toward physical and mental pleasure and displeasure means that one is acting according to one’s true nature, and one’s activities are therefore considered to be in the mode of goodness. “Similarly, to fight is the religious principle of the kṣatriyas [warriors], and although one has to fight with some friend or relative, one should not deviate from his prescribed duty,” says Srila Prabhupada. “One has to follow the prescribed rules and regulations of religious principles in order to rise up to the platform of knowledge, because by knowledge and devotion only can one liberate himself from the clutches of māyā (illusion).”

The source of trouble for everyone in this world is misidentification of the true, eternal self with the temporary body and its temporary mind and senses. Activity aimed at becoming free from this misidentification is called self-realization, which is one of the defining characteristics of the mode of goodness—it “awakens one to self-realization” (Gita 18.37). Although it is difficult at first to act against one’s bodily and mental urges, doing so for the sake of self-realization inevitably brings one to a higher state of consciousness and therefore to a superior state of happiness—“poison in the beginning, nectar at the end”, another defining characteristic of the mode of goodness.

A marriage in the mode of goodness is a marriage in which self-realization is the focus of the couple’s endeavors. Because its objective is self-realization, it gives rise to the greatest happiness. It is enduring because couples in such marriages are determined to carry on with their duties despite the temporary disturbance of displeasure or pleasure. Efforts in the field of modern psychology to further refine marriage according to the modes of passion and ignorance will help no one. That will only perpetuate misery. Only reformation of the institution of marriage according the mode of goodness, for the sake of self-realization, will make for better, happier, and enduring marriages.


[1] American Psychological Association, 25 Aug. 2014,

Post Script

This was submitted on August 26, 2014, to the editorial board of Back to Godhead magazine, and the editors decided against running the article not on its merits but because of a personal bias. The correspondence is reproduced below, and a further response is to be found here:

Forwarded conversation
Subject: Article for submission: Reforming Marriage in Society

From: *Krishna Kirti Das* <kri...>
Date: Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Dear Editors, PAMHO AGTSP.

Please accept the attached article for submission to Back to Godhead

Your servant, Krishna-kirti das

From: *Nagaraja Dasa* <>
Date: Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 9:12 AM
To: Krishna Kirti Das <kri...>

Thank you, Prabhu. We'll review it, and I'll get back to you.

Your servant,
Nagaraja dasa

From: *Nagaraja Dasa* <>
Date: Mon, Sep 8, 2014 at 9:54 AM
To: Krishna Kirti Das <kri...>

Dear Krishna-kirti Prabhu,

BTG is aimed at the ISKCON congregation, especially people who don't know
ISKCON inside-out, and therefore we prefer to avoid controversies within
the movement. Considering your controversial writing in other forums, we've
decided that the safe course for BTG would be not to run your articles.

Hare Krishna.

Your servant,
Nagaraja dasa