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.

Conclusion

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.

Do’s

  • 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.

Don’ts

  • 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.
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9 thoughts on “Purification in Krishna Consciousness – What Homosexuals Need to Know

  1. How about omnisexual? Why be satisfied with homo or hetero? The whole life experience can be a solid energized rush. We emerge from the womb a glowing ball of erotic, orgasmic vibrating joy and ecstasy and then the material world proceeds to beat it out of us. By the time we hit puberty all our dynamic blissful force is reduced to and centered around the genitalia for purposes of procreation. For most people that’s it until cremation or grave. For a fortunate few there is the yoga that can help them understand how to manage ojas shakti. For them life can once again become a joyful adventure and orgasmic erotic energy can suffuse their entire being.

    • The “glowing ball of erotic, orgasmic vibrating joy and ecstasy” you mention with which we emerge from the womb is the first I have heard of it. I, along with many devotees, have the misconception given in the teachings of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada and the Vedic scriptures that:

      “So we have forgotten what is the distress to remain in the womb of mother. And that also, sometimes a child is killed. At the present moment, advanced civilization, pregnancy is killed sometimes. So we cannot see even light. We die within the womb of a mother and again enter another womb. And it may be we die again. So just try to understand what is the miserable condition of birth. But because we forget, we think we are very happy. And again, not only that, as soon as we take birth, again a new chapter of life begins. Again you… Even after coming out of the womb, when we are little child we cry. There may be mosquito biting or bugs biting or something in the belly, troubling, crying. Mother is trying to pacify, but we are crying, crying. We cannot express. So these are the miserable condition of life. Kṛṣṇa says it is duḥkhālayam aśāśvatam BG 13.9 . So under the illusion of māyā, as soon as we get out of the womb we forget everything, what we are suffering. And because the mother and relatives, they take on the lap, we forget. So this is the condition, miserable condition of birth.” – SP Lecture Gorakpur February 18, 1971

      Srila Prabhupada does elaborate on our condition when we grow healthy and sexually active:

      “In the hellish condition within the womb, the living entity is very much afraid of being born again, but when he is out of the womb, when he is in full life and good health, he forgets everything and commits again and again the same sins for which he was put into that horrible condition of existence.”

      Prabhupada here says “commits again and again the same sins” – which suggests that just because some pattern of sexual activity comes more easily in one body than another it does not make it less sinful -by engaging again in that activity one will again take a body attracted to those same sinful activities. Again and again. There is no mention that by continuing sinful activities one is attracted to by taking birth in a particular body one is somehow excused. The result of sinful activity is attraction to more sinful activity. And hence more suffering.

      But being an erotic, orgasmic vibrating organism pulsating with joy and ecstasy sounds like much more fun than being the humble servant of an all-powerful Supreme Personality awaiting on his pleasure. Philosophically it makes little sense and is not in line with any mainstream religion I have studied, but it sounds like fun.

      ys

      Antardwip das

  2. I am very happy that narscistic, rascistic, and fanatic people like you, unable to get a few for the reality of the world, are not ruling the world and surpressing and monitorizing the millions of good people outside of your sect, who are not fitting in your narrow concepts. You should ask yourself why you have such a insecure psyche that you need to exchange your ability to percive and think with blind dogmas about a transcendental truth, which nobody will ever proof to you. Are you hiding your own doubts and maybe yourself from Gods reality?

  3. Omnisexual is unacceptable. Lord Rshabhadeva says pumsah striya mithuni-bhavam etam. Male-female attraction is the fundamental principle of material existence. If there is some other attraction, then the Lord is wrong.

  4. Sarvopama Prabhu has coined the essence of Krishna-Kirti’s article. His level of understanding is excellent for advancing in Krsna consciousness, though the application is probably best presented to advanced devotees. I’m still working on clarity myself.

  5. I composed this primarily in response to a request for some guidance from a homosexual devotee who believes that homosexuality is wrong but is being counseled otherwise by so-called followers of Srila Prabhupada.

  6. I am just curious was Prabhupada even aware of the existence of homosexuals during his time? Were the devotees able to discuss such things with him either in public or private openly? I remember reading somewhere, there was a devotee who used to dress as a woman sometimes and as a man sometimes. Prabhupada asked him/her (it) to make up his/her mind and stick to either being male or female. Doesn’t that mean he allowed us to choose our sexual identity and he (SP) didn’t mind if we did? Would that also not apply to being either heterosexual or homosexual ? The lusty desire in either case is irrelevant. Normal devotees who have been married several times still engage in illicit relationships due to their lusty desires. We have bent our rules to promote KC as we see in ISKCON today so why can’t we do the same in this case? Isn’t spreading KC more important than anything else? Do it what it takes as long as you chant you are ok?????

    Just playing devil’s advocate to see what is the response. Thanks and Hare Krsna!

  7. “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 above statement is incorrect. The excessive lust is afflicted even if the devotees are heterosexual/normal. Even Heterosexuals in ISKCON are not fit to follow the regulative principles what to speak of others. But you allow that. Shouldn’t we focus on fixing the core problem before we try to fix the lusty desires of homosexuals? Or perhaps we should just temporarily ignore the big and existing problem to deviate everyone’s mind to homosexuals? Just like you can’t stop the so call devotees from practicing illicit relationships you won’t be able to stop devotees from being homosexuals in spite the fact what Sastras and Prabhupada’s comments and preaching have to say. Hare Krsna

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