What Does “No Illicit Sex” Mean?


This is an item of concern that is important to clarify. When you take diksa, you will take a vow of “no illicit sex.” What do we mean by “no illicit sex?” Are we breaking the principles if we have sex within marriage more than once a month for the sake of procreation, and then only after chanting fifty rounds?

First, if one is not married, any kind of sex is illicit because Prabhupada has defined illicit sex as “sex outside of marriage.” But this would lead us to believe that if one is married, sex within marriage is acceptable as part of one’s vow of no illicit sex. Is this true?

The ideal is mentioned above. A couple only have sex for procreation, and only after first chanting fifty rounds. However, almost fifty years of ISKCON history tells us that this standard is difficult for everyone to perfectly maintain. This is indeed the goal, and a lesser standard of sex within marriage (more than once a month and not even solely for procreation) should be acknowledged as something which is of a lower standard. Thus, if one cannot perfectly follow the higher standard, one should gradually work towards coming to it. Thus, when vowing to follow the principle of no illicit sex, in the broadest sense we are vowing to remain celibate until marriage, and within marriage aim to follow the highest standard as best we can.

This might seem like an overly liberal approach and not consistent with the mood of achieving excellence in everything we do. However, problems may ensue when devotees who take diksa cannot perfectly follow this principle (I refer to this as “The Fourth Principle”), and I have discussed this issue at length with god-brothers and sisters who are both liberal and conservative. We have concluded, based on Prabhupada’s own words, that first initiation can be given a little more liberally than second initiation. However, Prabhupada required that we insure that those taking second initiation are “strictly following.” If you wish to take second initiation and are not sure that you are strictly following “The Fourth Principle,” you can consult me or another senior devotee.

We wish to become free from sexual attachments to advance in Krsna consciousness, so we deal with our sexuality in a way that we can gradually become more attached to Krsna, and more detached from bodily gratification.