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
> 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 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.