In a recent (2004) essay “Vaisnava Dharma is very liberal“, Amara prabhu raises the following question:

Gay marriage is . . . taken to be outside of the rigid varnasrama system and the ordinary prescription for married life, but suppose it is found to be the best practical arrangement to sustain a person’s bhakti, someone who is exclusively homosexual and unable to follow complete celibacy. Can an exception be made to the general rule in the spirit of encouraging bhakti, as cited above, or should we give more importance to the rigid codes of ordinary dharma?

I agree with Amara that a truly spiritual society must constantly seek a balance between the strict codes of varnasrama, and the practical spiritual needs of sincere devotees. There can be no doubt that a significant number of souls, whose external sexual orientation is homosexual, sincerely strive to be Krishna conscious. It is entirely natural and predictable that a majority of these devotees, as with most hetereosexual devotees, will not be suited for lifelong celibacy.

My view of this issue is as follows:

  1. As a general rule, we should appreciate devotees in terms of the sincerity and diligence of their spiritual attempts, given the psycho-physical circumstances of their life. In other words, in any condition of life, if a devotee sincerely strives to please Krishna, that devotee is to be admired.
  2. It is the duty of any society to recognize, and thus encourage, the admirable behavior of its members. Monogamy, among devotees of any orientation, is an admirable achievement in the context of today’s promiscuous society, and should be thus appreciated and encouraged.
  3. Given the need to balance strict varnasrama 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 varnasrama and the encouraging of spiritual sincerity.
  4. I am not convinced that marriage is the best means in all cases, but some serious, formal and public recognition and appreciation of gay monogamy is, in my view, in the best interest of ISKCON and its members.

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  • Amar Puri

    Those who are not able to control of the urges of the senses can not be called Devotee because a Devotee’s aim is to engage the senses in cultivating KC by following the rules and regulations set forth by the Acaraya Srila Prabhupada in His Iskcon world wide.
    Who is setting such rules to balance strict varnasrama with liberal spirituality ?

    • http://iskcon.us/ Alexander Shenkar

      We should appreciate devotees in terms of the sincerity and diligence of their spiritual attempts, given the psycho-physical circumstances of their life.

    • http://iskcon.us/ Alexander Shenkar

      To engage in a monogamous relationship is a commitment to control the senses. To deny marriage is to deny the facility for controlling the senses. Given the option between uncommitted relationships and a marriage – being married is a big step forward in controlling the senses.

      • http://www.galva108.org Amara Das Wilhelm

        Exactly.

      • J. Venkatacalam

        One does not need to be married to have a monogamous relationship.

        • http://iskcon.us/ Alexander Shenkar

          One certainly does not have to be married to have a monogamous relationship. That is true, whether in a heterosexual or gay relationship. Anyone who has been married understands and can relate to the importance of taking a vow and making formal commitment to their partner. So while it’s not necessary, it certainly helps and strengthens a committed relationship.

  • Absolute

    His Divine Grace Srila
    Prabhupada explains about the enjoyment of SEX, between man and woman, man to
    man and woman to woman …………. very illuminated indeed.

    Excerpt from Srimad-Bhagavatam
    6.1.64-65 lecture in Vrindavan, India, September 1, 1975

    Woman means enjoyed, and man
    means enjoyer !

    You do not think that only
    woman is woman. The man is also woman. Don’t think that the woman is condemned;
    man is not. Woman means enjoyed, and man means enjoyer. So this feeling, this
    feeling is condemned. If I see one woman for enjoyment, so I am man. And if
    woman also sees another man for enjoyment, she is also man. Woman means enjoyed
    and man means enjoyer. So anyone who has got feeling of enjoyment, he is
    considered to be man. So here both sexes meant for… Everyone is planning, “How
    I shall enjoy?” Therefore he is purusa, artificially. Otherwise, originally, we
    are all prakrti, jiva, either woman or man. This is outward dress.

    In the Bhagavad-gita it is
    said,

    apareyam itas tv anyāṁ

    prakṛtiṁ viddhi me parām

    jīva-bhūtāṁ mahā-bāho

    yayedaṁ dhāryate jagat

    [Bg. 7.5]

    The prakrti… We are prakrti,
    nature, spiritual nature, para prakrti. The material nature is apara prakrti,
    and we living entities, we are trying to enjoy this prakrti. Therefore
    sometimes the living entity, either man or woman, he is described as purusa.
    Purusa means the one who keeps the feeling of becoming enjoyer. That is purusa.
    So this material world is prakrti and purusa. It is said in the Srimad
    Bhagavatam in the instruction of Rsabhadeva, pum sam striya mithuni-bhavam
    etat. The whole basic principle of materialistic civilization is the attachment
    between man and woman. Pumsam striya mithuni-bhava. Mithuni-bhavam is sex. And
    tayor mitho hrdaya-granthim ahuh. On account of this sex relationship, the man
    or woman is bound up. Hrdaya-granthi. Granthi means knot, and hrdaya means
    heart. So the man is thinking of the woman, and the woman is thinking of man.
    Hrdaya granthim ahuh. Then we require material possession. Atah
    grha-ksetra-sutapta-vittair janasya moho yam aham mameti [SB 5.5.8].

    This is our material,
    conditional life.

    As we understand from the
    Sastra that the Jivas in the demoniac nature must be created in the process of
    the creation so that these Jivas are able to purified their contaminants of all
    sorts by the guidance of the Spiritual Master in the disciplic succession.

    Such guidance is indeed very
    rare.

    As Srila Prabhupada very nicely
    explains ; ” The whole basic principle of materialistic civilization is the
    attachment between man and woman. On account of this sex relationship, the man
    or woman is bound up ”

    Jai Srila Prabhupada.

  • Krishna Kirti Das

    This statement of HH HDGs shows nicely that Krishna West’s success depends on changing our principles. As the recent dismissal of Brenden Eich as Mozilla’s CEO shows (he supported California’s Proposition 8 with a domation), the demons will oppose us for our principles. Maharaja put forward the idea of gay monogamy specifically to appeal to the new Moral Majority: http://www.slate.com/blogs/saletan/2014/04/07/brendan_eich_homophobia_and_corporate_values_the_left_is_the_new_moral_majority.html

    • http://iskcon.us/ Alexander Shenkar

      What principles are you saying being changed?

      • Krishna Kirti Das

        Our understanding and hence practice involving proper and illicit sex for one. Another is our fundamental epistemology via consequentialism. See here (http://akincana.net/philosophy/316-hh-hridayananda-goswami,-krishna-west,-and-consequentialism.html) for details.

        — quote —

        Although the typical response to Maharaja’s controversial statements and actions has been to treat them as separate, one-off events without relation to each other, they are instead deeply connected by a moral philosophy called “consequentialism.”

        As Maharaja explains in his 2005 paper titled “Vaisnava Moral Theology and Homosexuality,”consequentialism seeks “morality primarily in the consequences of acts” and “argues that moral behavior must produce good consequences.” Consequentialism is plainly operative in some of his more controversial statements: . . .

        1. “In fact, he [Yudhisthira] acts so badly that he practically drops from the list of heroes in the rest of the Mahabharata. He is officially Dharma-raja, but no one, including Draupadi, respects him anymore. . . . I don’t believe this is the real Dharma-raja.” (AskAcharyadeva.com) This is, however, a pastime that Srila Prabhupada himself accepts and defends in many places, as do a number of other acharyas in our disciplic succession.

        — end quote —

        The bottom line is Maharaja practically jettisons the guru-parampara for a speculative process called consequentialism, and he adopts that because it is a means to an end for him to be accepted by an elite group of Westerners whose moral litmus test is his position on gay marriage. If he repudiates it, his Krishna West will never become the popular movement he thinks it can be.

        • http://iskcon.us/ Alexander Shenkar
          • Krishna Kirti Das

            I have forwarded my response for posting on your website. I hope you will post it promptly. ys,

          • http://iskcon.us/ Alexander Shenkar

            Where have you forwarded the response? I haven’t received it yet.

            Also, please be sure that your response is cool and to the point, like the one from Hridayananda das Goswami. No need to mix character assessment with ideas. Let’s just stick to the philosophy and not think ill of someone’s motives or intentions.

          • Krishna Kirti Das

            There is no email address published on your website for forwarding articles, so I used the contact form. If you send me your email address to krishnakirti at gmail dot com I will forward you a fair copy, which has hyperlinks.

          • http://iskcon.us/ Alexander Shenkar
  • dravinaksa das

    I suppose the sannyasis should be getting quite a few marriage proposals now….