Pouring Ghee Into Ashes: Bodily Discrimination in ISKCON


The Bhagavad-gita advises, or warns us: “Whatever leaders do, the common men follow, and whatever exemplary acts they perform, all the world pursues.” Srila Prabhupada stressed the converse when he warned of “the blind, leading the blind, who all fall into a ditch.”

Lord Kapiladeva in the Third Canto of Srimad Bhagavatam teaches us that if we discriminate at all on bodily differences, then all our strict worship of the Deity in the temple is as useless as pouring ghee into ashes. He is Krsna, so He is saying: “I will not accept your worship.”

For the above reasons, it is alarming when we see our leaders deviating into bodily identification, for that disease can spread like wildfire in our ranks, extinguishing spiritual knowledge, realization, compassion and truth. When that happens, according to Lord Kapiladeva, we might as well forget about Deity worship; it will never bear fruit.

We don’t want to be falsely alarmed, however. Is the following an example of discriminating on bodily differences or just concern for the moral fibre of our society?

“…[E]ducators are passing on their decadent moral values to our children. For example, the New York City public school board recently introduced textbooks in the first grade that show families with two ‘mommies’ or two ‘daddies,’ to get children used to homosexuality. And schools aren’t the only place kids learn to think well of illicit sex.” — Urmila Devi dasi, “Schooling Krsna’s Children, Teens and Celibacy

Gay couples and illicit sex are not the same

Here Urmila dasi starts off talking about gay couples with families and concludes that seeing them is encouraging us to “think well of illicit sex.” It appears that her concern is to not have us think well of illicit sex, except that gay couples and illicit sex are not the same thing. One can think well of a gay couple, how fine a parenting job they are doing, how morally upright and responsible they are or how many devotional qualities they have, and not think well of illicit sex, which is another term for lust. By making the mistake of equating illicit sex with gay relationships, she is ignoring the fact that there is just as much illicit sex going on in heterosexual relationships, nor may there be any more to be found in a gay relationship.

Here is a way to test our degree of bodily identification. What about when a married, heterosexual devotee couple are not producing children? We assume they are on the platform of platonic friendship, or we assume nothing at all, simply because it is rude to do so. Actually they are in the same situation as a gay couple — staying together could lead to falldown — but we assume no illicit sex, because it is none of our business. The fact that some of us do not extend the same courtesy to gay couples when they are in the same position belies our bodily identification, with hurtful implications for our gay brethren. If we are to ban gay relationships because they could facilitate illicit sex, then to be fair, we would have to ban from living together all couples who are not having children anymore. Why be nice to one group and make nasty assumptions about the other?

Gay marriage is a commitment to love and serve

There can be platonic love in a gay relationship, just as much as in a heterosexual relationship, and it is exactly platonic love that marriage is there to encourage — to be committed to lovingly support each other in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad times, etc. It is a non-devotional, lusty and Kali-yuga interpretation of marriage that assumes it to be just about sex. Marriage should be encouraged because implicit in the contract there is a mutual commitment to love and serve. Illicit sex should be discouraged, which means sex for lust only. Licit sex is not about lust at all, but about producing Krsna-conscious kids — which, ironically, are not produced by sex but through the loving guidance which any spiritually minded couple can give.

The purpose of marriage is not sense gratification but spiritual realization, which comes about through cultivating loving relationships and ridding oneself of all traces of exploitative mentality, sexual or otherwise. Therefore, the grhastha ashrama is an ashrama. Even when it is not centred on spiritual development, the commitment to serve another person “through thick and thin,” through all types and times of difficulty, requires huge amounts of tolerance, forgiveness and empathy — all qualities necessary for attaining enlightenment.

This is not stressed in our movement, however, and Urmila prabhu’s article is a logical product of this problem. Generally, devotees see the grhastha ashrama as a step backward from brahmacarya, when it is actually a step forward, and a very large one. We are missing the point.

The point is not to extinguish lust, but to transform it into love — love for God and all that is His — which is everything animate and inanimate. When great devotees forgo the grhastha ashrama, it is not because it is a fallen status; it is because the hearts are so all-encompassing that they do not want to be limited in their loving service to only spouse and family. Most of us have to get to that point by starting small, but we are meant to expand. That is why married couples are enjoined to always open their doors and hearts to the world outside their homes, by offering hospitality to strangers, treating them as being as good as Narayan, and to always shout out into the street, “Is anyone hungry?” before taking meals themselves.

For these reasons, gay marriage should be encouraged in our society and in the wider society as well. It is not about encouraging illicit sex, which can and does take place in- or outside of marriage; it is about encouraging the sublimation of selfish lust into selfless love. As we know from our philosophy of parakiya bhava, forbidden alliances hold far greater attraction for the soul than the socially sanctioned love of married union. Generally, they are obsessional and completely unrealistic. We see the forbidden beloved through rose-tinted glasses, or, to put it in the common vernacular: “The sun shines out of their ass….”

This stops the instant we start living with them, realizing that, just like everyone else, they can be annoying, frustrating and argumentative. When we get over the disillusionment period, we come closer to truth, reality. When we forgive them for all their faults, tolerate their shortcomings, we grow within in the qualities that make us very dear to the Lord. That is the goal of marriage, in spiritual terms. In material terms, it is doomed from the start, for all the lusty reasons we are drawn to a person — their beauty, power and wealth — are taken away by time, and we are left with nothing to draw upon other than our own inner qualities of love for love’s sake — the causeless service attitude.

Don’t assume gay relationships are materialistic

To assume such an evolution to be possible only in heterosexual relationships and not in homosexual ones is a diversion from reality, as there are no facts to support such an assumption, and it is based also on the misidentification of spirit with matter, which means it an assumption based on an assumption. We assume people to be their bodies, so on that assumption, we assume that their relationships are entirely materialistic or, as Urmila puts it so artlessly: “illicit sex.” Seeing others to be their bodies, and not spiritual souls, not only wreaks havoc in our own spiritual lives and those of our readers and disciples; it does a grave injustice to all the great souls whose lives are surrendered to the Lord, even while their bodies are attracted to other bodies of the same gender. Despite the hurtful attitudes of the devotees in this movement, and despite being seen by some to be sinful, they do not give up their determination to serve the Lord. Such a fiercely loyal devotion is nothing short of admirable, and we should fall at the feet of all who serve under such debilitating conditions. To offend them by innuendo, attitude or speech only hurts our own devotional creepers.

It may be argued that Urmila prabhu is not indicting gay devotees but governments that portray gay relationships as normal. That is true, but in her indictment, she is equating illicit sex with gay relationships, which is a false equation. And why shouldn’t governments give the message to kids that it is okay to have two daddies or two mommies, given the amount of bullying and social exclusion that gays and their kids have to tolerate and which so often, tragically, ends in suicide? When kids see other kids as “not normal,” this is what happens. It is the duty of the government to protect its citizens. Children are the most vulnerable of all.

Focusing on ridding ourselves of the negatives such as illicit sex is like telling the mind not to think of ripe, juicy watermelons. The mind does not respond to “do not,” as it is an active principle. If we instead engage the mind in thoughts of Krsna, how He is dwelling in the hearts of all and waiting to receive our love, then we focus on the positive. All living beings, whether human or not human, straight or gay, are His parts and parcels. They are not “illicit sex” but divine objects of our devotional service attitude, devoid of any sense of bodily identification. Being thus situated, our worship of Krsna in the Deity form, or the chanting of His name, melts our hearts. Not being situated thus, we may chant or worship for lifetimes without any effect, for we commit offences to His dear devotees, who sometimes appear in unfamiliar bodily circumstances.

  • http://gravatar.com/krishnabhaktiband Gaura Das

    Would Srila Prabhupada Perform Gay Marriages Today ?

    I was passing through the Newsfeed on Facebook today, and I came across this article : “Bodily Discrimination in ISKCON marriage institution” . I saw that Stritama Sherreitt raised the question as to what HH Bhakti Vikasa Swami would have to say about it. I think that most of us already know what is Maharaja’s position on this topic.

    After reading the article, I noticed it was written by Niscala Devi Dasi and wondered how she came to her conclusions that Gay marriages should be honored and encouraged within ISKCON today

    I can imagine it must be as difficult for one who is inclined toward homosexuality as it is for one who deals with heterosexuality to control their mind and senses. Srila Prabhupada has equally give us the process on how to accomplish this, but still we struggle with our conditioning, on a daily basis. This article is not meant to bash Gay devotees, so please don’t make comments like that. I am opening things to dialogue, based on Srila Prabhupada’s statements, and not my neophyte , materially conditioned understanding . Despite their formerly acting on their homosexual conditioning, we do not judge a Vaisnava on their sins prior to taking up devotional service, neither do we condemn anyone if they have a fall down. I have known of some godbrothers with homosexual conditioning who I remember doing first class service as pujaris, cooks, editors and holding a variety of responsible services in ISKCON that Srila Prabhupada was very grateful for.

    Here are some references to Srila Prabhupada dealing with devotees and homosexuality :

    “In N.Y. there is a big press that prints “Watchtower.” They are forcefully criticizing Christian behavior. I read that one Christian priest allowed a marriage between two men-homosex. So these things are going on.” ( To Rayarama 1971 )

    26 May, 1975

    My Dear Lalitananda dasa,

    Please accept my blessings. I am in due receipt of your letter dated May 13rd, 1975 and have noted the contents. I am very sorry that you have taken to homosex. It will not help you advance in your attempt for spiritual life. In fact, it will only hamper your advancement. I do not know why you have taken to such abominable activities. What can I say? Anyway, try to render whatever service you can to Krishna. Even though you are in a very degraded condition Krishna, being pleased with your service attitude, can pick you up from your fallen state. You should stop this homosex immediately. It is illicit sex, otherwise, your chances of advancing in spiritual life are nil. Show Krishna you are serious, if you are.
    I hope this meets you in good health.

    Your ever well-wisher,
    A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami

    I remember many years ago when the five volumes of Srila Prabhupada’s Letters books came out from The Bhaktivedanta Archives, as I was reading through them, I came across a letter by Rayarama prabhu, where he was expressing how he was becoming too afflicted by sex desire. Srila Prabhupada wrote him a compassionate letter , telling him to find a nice Krsna concious woman, marry her and settle down.

    Rayarama prabhu wrote back to Srila Prabhupada explaining that he didn’t understand fully. He explained that he had no attraction to women, but only to men. Srila Prabhupada wrote back the same basic letter, telling him to purify his sex desire by procreating children in a relationship with a Krsna conscious wife, even though he was Gay.

    As I continued to read through the chronological letters, I found it interesting that when Srila Prabhupada replied to Rayarama prabhu, he did not retract his earlier statement, or apologise that he did not understand that Rayrama prabhu had homosexual conditioning, and therefore he should marry someone of the same gender. From a mundane point of view, one could commit would some would consider guru aparadha and think that Srila Prabhuapda ” didn’t get it “. Am I being too conservative in thinking this way, or not liberal enough ?

    When I once quoted this before on FB, I have seen Gay devotees online argue against Srila Prabhupada saying that it never works when a Gay devotee marries someone of the other gender. These protests made it sound like Srila Prabhupada didn’t know what he was talking about

    Some might argue that dealing with such things was outside of Srila Prabhupada’s experience, and that therefore adjustments have to be made, according to time, place and circumstance. This makes me question why Srila Prabhupada did not arrange marriages for Gay devotees during the 12 yrs. he was with us if he was in agreement with it ?

    In several letters, he seemed to be quite disgusted with the failure of our heterosexual marriages, or changing partners, and at one point refused to marry any more devotees or perform any more sannyasa initiations. This raises the point, “Would Srila Prabhupada bless a Gay marriage if the couple refrained from any illicit sex ” ? From what history dictates, he never did such a thing, as it would give an entirely new definition to the meaning of marriage.

    What is Srila Prabhupada’s actual definition of marriage ? Someone please look up some references if you don’t mind. My understanding from what I read in Srila Prabhupada’s books over the years was that the purpose of marriage was for a couple to procreate Krsna conscious children, and to double their potency by preaching Krsna consciousness together. Can someone please explain to me how you procreate Krsna conscious children as a Gay couple ?

    I looked online for those three letters I made reference to, and could not locate them. I definitely do remember reading them and the impact that Srila Prabhupada’s response had on me at that time. I had no idea that 30 yrs. later, some devotees would be rejecting his statements. I have run out of time to search for them , or to use the Vedabase right now.

    As a final comment, these are a few other letters from Srila Prabhupada on the topic :

    Srila Prabhupada: “Now the priestly order is supporting homosex. I was surprised. They are going to pass a resolution for getting married between man to man. The human society has come down to such a degraded position. It is astonishing.”
    (May 25, 1972, Los Angeles)

    Srila Prabhupada: “They are marrying man to man, what to speak of marriage. Sodomy. Homosex. They are supporting homosex. So degraded, and still they say, ‘What we have done?’ They do not know what is degradation, and they are priest. They are teaching others. They do not know what is the meaning of degradation.”
    (September 28, 1972, Los Angeles)

    Srila Prabhupada: “So they are passing, ‘Yes, you can have homosex with man.’ They are getting man-to-man marriage. You know? They are performing the marriage ceremony between man to man in the open church. What class of men they are? And they are priest. Just see. Such degraded persons…”
    (May 13, 1975, Perth)

    Srila Prabhupada: “In India there are some such low-class (homosexual) men, but not (lesbian) women, never women. This is very low class.”
    (Conversation with Govinda dasi, Montreal)

    I think most are familiar with the reference in the Srimad Bhagavatam :

    Srila Prabhupada: “It appears here [a narration in which demons, later revealed to be attracted to women, attempt to approach Lord Brahma for sex] that the homosexual appetite of males for each other is created in this episode in the creation of the demons by Brahma. In other words, the homosexual appetite of a man for another man is demoniac and is not for any sane male in the ordinary course of life.”
    (Srimad Bhagavatam 3.20.26, purport)

    • Niscala Devi Dasi

      Thanks Gaura, as you know, but others here may not, this is the FB discussion which I refer to in my post to Jeremy, and I am sure you agree that it is relevant to your post. It is abundantly clear from Srila Prabhupada’s teachings that he regarded homosexuality as an undesirable activity, but it is also abundantly clear from his example that whenever a person showed interest in Krsna, he had one desire- to encourage them in every way humanly possible. To do that, he was inclusive of everyone. Every one of us is fallen. No exceptions- and we have been fallen since time immemorial. We are in the abominable condition of having no prema for Krsna even though He is all-attractive- and we don’t melt on the sound of His name- which means we have hearts encased in steel. Yet Krsna does not judge us- He declares that even if a devotee is found to commit an abominable action, according to social standards, he is not to be judged as anything other than saintly! Falling to abominable action is only possible for a person who is less than ruci on the devotional scale, arguably less than nishta. So He is speaking of “ordinary” devotees here! We should not judge! We should regard them as non-different from ourselves, or with better qualities- that is humility. We should abide by Lord Krishna’s instruction. How can we please Him, while ignoring His instructions?

      • http://gravatar.com/krishnabhaktiband Gaura Das

        You are preaching to the choir Niscala prabhu . I have absolutely no issue with encouraging everyone in Krsna consciousness. I have been a bhakta director to gay devotees and tried my best to serve them as much as any hetero bhakta. Sexual preference is irrelevant to me. A soul is a soul. We are not our madness, regardless of hetero or homo madness. However, when I hear devotees start to berate my spiritual master , Srila Prabhupada saying that his disdainful attitude toward homosex was conditioned by Victorian England, this is total nonsense. To elabaorate on this, and to think that because Srila Prabhupada was not up to speed, that he would now be presiding over ” gay marriages ” and that ISKCON is wrong for not doing this , Supersoul is telling me that I need to avoid these conversations, get a life and look for innocent people that need to receive a book of Srila Prabhupada. People will continue to accuse ISKCON of this and that, as you also have in this article, and they can criticise ISKCON until they are blue in the face. My little words won’t make much difference. It’s the popular sport to take shots at ISKCON today, whether warranted or not. I need to avoid that kind of association. I have heard enough for several lifetimes. There is no ruci there for me. All the best in your endeavours

        • Niscala Devi Dasi

          Gaura prabhu, have I ever said anything like these devotees who criticize Srila Prabhupada. On the FB thread you said that I might have written what I did because some people might be “rude” to visiting gay people or gay devotees, and I wrote what I did for them. Look at Jeremy’s post. One does not have to witness outright rudeness to recognize discrimination- 90% of communication is non-verbal. Our attitudes (of being holier-than-thou, or better-than-them) are communicated to others, even if we make conscious efforts to hide them. I am not making a criticism of you, just trying to make ISKCON a place where everyone feels at home. That Jeremy does not feel so is alarming and indicative that something is wrong. We should meditate that I am more fallen than anyone, and a humble servant of all, even newcomers- that will help us get rid of the condescension or other non-rude forms of communication that are nevertheless offensive and off-putting. Thank you for the exchange. All the best in our endeavours as well.

          • https://www.facebook.com/jeremy.adkison Jeremy Adkison

            Gaura’s comments are a flashing neon sign of why I feel so uncomfortable with much of ISKCON. It’s why I will either A) Never go to an ashram not associated with Swami Tripurari, or B) If I go to an ISKCON temple stay very, very low under the radar.

            I want to marry. I want to have kids. I want to fall in love with someone and build a life with them, according to MY nature, MY dharma. Krishna did not make me broken in this regard and command me to be whole. It’s simply my dharma.

            That aside, that above diatribe is precisely how to alienate someone like me, and drive me straight out the door. It certainly does let me feel very good when I have to constantly defend my dignity and integrity, when all I want to do is have a family and love God.

        • Sambhavi Siva

          hare krishna prabu..the best way isto avoid those who find faults by interpreting srila prabhupadh’s teachings wiih their impure and judgeble heart…all glories to assembled pure devotees…hare krishna..:)

      • https://www.facebook.com/jeremy.adkison Jeremy Adkison

        My desires to fall in love, and raise a family, pursuant to MY nature, MY dharma, is not a sin. And as someone who has conducted much research on the subject of ‘mixed-orientation “marriages”‘, I can tell you with good certainty that less than 20% of them will succeed. The divorce rates are catastrophically high as each year passes, and the study I’m referencing only ended after 3 years- presumably the couples kept dissolving, not to mention the massive emotional and spiritual harm caused to the partners involved, and the unfortunate children born into such abominable unions.

        Gaura Das’s above diatribe is it, though. There you have it, why I will likely either A) Never enter an ISKCON temple, or B) Never let those inside that temple truly know me as I am, and keep my activities there very, very below the radar.

        Krishna did not make me so to damn me. It’s inconceivable.

  • gpdas

    politically correct expressions of our thoughts and feelings covering what we rely feel and think so as not to be criticised or even killed is one big control trip that we have almost all fallen victim of, if anyone thinks they can have a society with a large percentage of gay people think again because it will dye out in one generation, this is a fact, and this is what is happening in industrialised ecologically or otherwise degraded society’s they are some how or other dyeing out, our so called western civilisation is dying out and we industrialised people living in city’s are not reproducing sufficiently to replace the population therefore the importing of foreign persons into the industrialised nations to bolster the work force, the catholic church is failing badly due to sexually deviants within its ranks, i sincerely hope iskcon does not follow the christian church in the matter of supporting or harbouring sexual deviants of any kind, putting political correctness aside and being real, we all now whats degraded and what is not, so why back a 3 legged horse.

    • Niscala Devi Dasi

      So, you have a problem with people not reproducing sufficiently in western civilization, even though the great percentage of the people thus reproduced contribute untold suffering to the animal welfare cause by becoming great consumers of meat? Interesting…

      • https://www.facebook.com/jeremy.adkison Jeremy Adkison

        Concerns about reproduction in relation to this issue is, without much more thought, absurd. This is not Battlestar Galactica, we are not 50,000 humans left trying to save our species. This is a world with billions of people, and overpopulation is, in many places, a serious issue.

        • http://gravatar.com/krishnabhaktiband Gaura Das

          My spiritual master Srila Prabhupada quotes the verse from the Sri Isopanisad, om purnam adah purnam idam…there is no question of over-population because the Lord has produced everything to be complete and perfect. Only a small percentage of agricultural land is being utilized to fed the public. There is enough for man’s needs but never for man’s greed. At the expense of many, a few live lavishly

          • Niscala Devi Dasi

            Part of that complete and perfect arrangement for not overpopulating, it seems to me, is that some people are born without attraction to the opposite sex. And to prove that such individuals are not less than other individuals, Krsna shows his causeless mercy, and they get attached to His lotus feet, and by doing so, they gradually become pure devotees. This can only happen if a person has executed pious activities in past lives- they have good sukriti. So, this is proof that being born gay is not sinful- though being born in kali yuga is. Way before that point of full surrender, at even the beginning of devotional service, they are not to be judged for falling down due to sense objects- any more than our straight couples, who are similarly falling down, by having sex not because of a desire to have kids. By the way, unwanted children cause havoc in society- they grow up unloved and have many problems. So, this issue goes deeper and is more problematic than that which can be solved by a few quotes, as we need to consider the welfare of children as well. The gurukula system has lost its crediblity due to insufficient child protection and the farms have failed to offer families a safe haven. Most families have kids growing up in the cities. People know that there is no guarantee of producing kids that are KC, and so they just do the best they can under the circumstances. Gradually, their love becomes platonic, as they advance in KC and become older- t is the natural progression. What is really wrong is to judge a devotee for falling down- we should always consider them saintly and not get judgmental of their faults.

  • https://www.facebook.com/jeremy.adkison Jeremy Adkison

    It’s ironic, that after this long spiritual journey though a myriad of faiths and beliefs that I, the gay boy, have found salvation at the feet of Krishna, and Srila Prabhupada.

    Thank you, for a breath of fresh air, and a reasoned and thoughtful discussion about this topic. I’m very fortunate where I live to be around an ashram of devotees who, though originating in ISKCON, are not directly affiliated with ISKCON. I’ve never been to an ISKCON temple, in part because I find them to be a bit frightening, but it’s good to know there are some more loving devotees out there in the world.

    Haribol, sister! Jai! <3

    • Niscala Devi Dasi

      Thanks Jeremy, for the kind comment. Not sure if I am actually a loving devotee, but trying to be. I’m also glad you’ve found an ashrama of devotees who are accepting and all-inclusive. It should be that way in every ashrama- as we are not these bodies. Just in case you’re interested these are some further thoughts from a FB discussion I took part in on the topic. I am not expecting we will agree on this issue at any point, and to save time, let me summarize the situation in order to show why. There are two ways of viewing a wedding between two people, either straight or gay– one is group approval of their sex life, which may include the conviction that guru and God approves also of their sex life, and the other is to approve the commitment of two individuals to the material and spiritual wellbeing of each other. Similarly, there are two ways of viewing homosexuality- one is that it is the result of rajas and tamas running amok, or not being satisfied with the opposite sex, then because the nature of lust is that it burns like fire, one tries it with same sex, or other options which we won’t mention in this august assembly… The other way of viewing it is that it is simply the result of attraction to the same sex, rather than the opposite one, and this does not imply any of the above as the attraction is thoroughly contained. If we take the first interpretations of both of these words (wedding and homosexuality) then we will necessarily disapprove of a gay marriage. If we take the second interpretation, which I do, we will probably approve, as I do.

      The other issue is two interpretations of following the acarya, the sastra, God, or anyone else worthy of following. One is to follow literally, which is we quote them, without entering into their mood and example. The other is to follow spiritually, which is to even oppose them literally, after entering into their mood and example. We saw Srila Prabhupada as loving and inclusive of everyone who wanted to be a devotee. We saw him as seeing all of us with one lens- devotee- and not according to the body. This being so, I can only conclude that he disapproved of gay marriage, because of the fact that it is often seen and interpreted as category one- such approval would be taken as his thumbs-up for their sex life.

      There are another two ways of following the acarya- without consideration of time/place/circumstance, and with due consideration of the same. If we look around us, which means we see the time, the place and the circumstance, we can see so many very sincere devotees who happen to be also gay. Not approving marriage means they are put into the terrible situation of frustrate life-long celibacy or terrible guilt. It also places them in the precarious position of uncommitted affairs which are catastrophic, whether they are of the straight or gay genre. When one has uncommitted sexual affair with another person, the mentality is mutual sexual exploitation of their bodies, which leaves the soul feeling unloved, uncared for and merely a sex object. This causes untold suffering on the spiritual and psychological level, which may lead to relief through intoxication and other forbidden activities and thus one spirals into an abyss of hopelessness and self-abuse.

      My conclusion is that everyone should be married, at some point in their lives, and to someone they feel cares about them on every level it is possible to be cared for. Then we appreciate and learn to see the other person, not just as a sense object, but a psychological reality capable of being hurt and offended, needing our time, patience and nurturing. We grow through that spiritual awakening and eventually appreciate them as a spiritual reality, and wanting them only to be owned and enjoyed by Krsna, we enter and embrace celibacy with a joyful heart. At this point, we love and respect them way too much to regard them as a sense object, and applying this vision to other people, our heart grows. Eventually, we can separate and totally depend on God, feeling no more need of support from another person. This is the sannyasa mentality, which we should all aim towards. As for taking up the title and the dress, it is a heavy burden around our neck, which we should not, as our own best well-wishers, ever contemplate. Receiving honor from others is an anartha.

      Having written this, I don’t expect people to agree with me. I am expecting further quotes will be thrown my way by the literalists and those who adhere to the second interpretations mentioned above. Thats fine with me. Go right ahead. And I hope it will be also fine with you if I abstain from answering, as it will be a waste of time- without changing one’s viewpoint to the first one, mentioned above. Thanks for indulging me.

  • http://gravatar.com/krishnabhaktiband Gaura Das

    Jeremy, thank you for sharing. I aslo was a bit frightened to visit an ISKCON temple before I did, largely due to my addiction to sense gratification. However in 1975, in my hometown of Winnipeg , Manitoba, I met a very kind devotee named Nandi Kesvara das, who invited me to the Sunday Feast and I immediately fell in love with the beauty of the deities on the altar with the gorgeous floral arrangements, the aroma of incense and clarified butter mingling together as the samosas cooked, the primeval rhythms of the mrdanga, the melody of the maha mantra, the fascinating philsophy of the Bhagavad Gita class and the mouth watering experience of tasting Krishna prasadam. All my fears went away after the first bite ! It was love at first bite, lol. I didn’t know any of the other devotees, and none of them were as kind, warm and friendly as Nandi was. Because of out mutual affection for one another, I easily took up his offer to put my blues band on the back burner while I accepted his invitation to go and meet Srila Prabhupada in Chicago. My life became totally transformed after that

    I love to associate with all variety of devotees, especially those who are pro-active and are eager to contribute to preserving ISKCON and being pro-active at making it an even better place. I also like to hear from devotees who have distnaced themselves from mainstream ISKCON to hear if there is any legitimacy to their complaints or their reservations about how ISKCON is being managed, or how they were trated by a particular leader. ISKCON is HUGE, with over 400 temples world-wide, so if it doesnt click for you in one place, it will in another.

    I had the experience of just doing a visit to the Amsterdam temple on my way back from India to Canada, and the devotees were so sweet and kind to me, unlike almost anywhere else I had been, in over 40 temples I have visited. THey wanted me to give both the Bhagavatam and Gita class evryday, day after day. They would stick around after class and breakfast to ask me more questions. They were fired up to go out on Harianama. They took my suggestions about how to increase book distribution and it started to increase, and more visitors started to come for the Sunday Feast. I felt really loved , valued and wanted. It was wonderful ! Other temples have been colder. It’s not the same everywhere.

    No one can really stay in ISKCON if for long if they are puffed up . You get tested there . Very often what we despise in others are the very same qualities that we have yet to have purged from ourselves. It’s like looking into a mirror. Sometimes we don’t like what we see in the reflection. That is Maya’s job to test us. There are different definitions of ISKCON as well. Srila Prabhupada told Yamuna devi dasi that wherever two people are that are chanting Hare Krishna and are compatible with one another, that is ISKCON

    There are thousands of amazing devotees in ISKCON, many of them the younger disciples of my godbrothers, who I find to be extremely inspiring. Personally, I aspire to be like godbrothers like Mahatma das and Vaisesika das. They are humble grhasthas, but they are not on any ego trip. You never hear them criticising anybody. They are exemplary in that way. I LOVE to be around that type of energy and association. ANything less is depressing and brings me down. They contribute to ISKCON in marvelous ways. They hold seminars to help devotees improve their spiritual lives, they inspire devotees to distribute Prabhupada’s books. They are my heros. Devotees that bash ISKCON and/or the GBC and no longer try to help it or turn their backs on it, are a dime a dozen. It’s the latest fad and fashion. I was never one to follow the sheep, although is some people’s eyes, to be loyal to my Guru Maharaja’s institution is being a sheep. I find there is a certain healthy rebelliousness in going against the flow of taking shots at ISKCON from the grandstands or the wings . I want to get back out on the court and be in the game, not a heckler from the grandstands. From my perspective, it takes a greater man or woman to stick it out and continue to preserve the mission that put Krsna consciousness on the western map.

    I have had to take courses on learning forgiveness, for my own benefit. I feel that a lot of devotees that have left ISKCON, it is because they never learned to forgive. It takes hard work. I recommend them to read DHira Govinda prabhu’s book “Relationships that Work” ( Dr David B. Wolf, a devotee mental health care professional ) or Non Violent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. Mahatma das also gives wonderful courses on Living A LIfe Of Total Forgiveness. I think it is way more cool and hip to be working on forgiveness, than to remain prisoners of our past, holding grudges and resentment towards those that were doing the best they could with what they had, at that particular time. Perhaps they had no tools in their communication tool box. Are we going to damn them forever for taht, or are we going to be compassionate ?

    To forgive requires the philosophical basis of understanding as Srila Prabhuapda has stated not to “become angry at the agents of your karma” otherwise you go on creating more for yourself. Listen, I grapple with the same stuff. I lent my car to a Swami and his driver lost control of it and destroyed it. Did he offer to repair it ? No. Am I going to blame ISKCON for that for the rest of my life ? It was my choice to lend it to him for a preaching program, and it was my oversight to forget that I only had one way insurance on it. I accept responsibility for that. I have other stories / tests , that I can share where I failed, where I didn’t have sufficient humility to stay in the fold. I have told one leader that he was being to rough with those who chatted in the hallway while the Sunday Feast lecture was going on, and I got banned from the temple, and I pouted and boycotted the temple for months because of playing the victim, thinking I was going to derive some type of “payoff” from that. The only one I was hurting ws myself. I can point fingers at others, or I can look within. If you don’t go within, then you have to go without, and going without, you may find association with others that have all done the same. I think it is always good to challenge ourselves, and not get too comfy in our comfort zones, if we really want to grow

    Someone else may have grown up in another sanga, and that is where their loyalty lies. I encourage them to serve there. I owe my life to hundreds of devotees that I have grown up with in ISKCON, that took the time and trouble to train me up. I do not feel worthy to be it’s member. It requires more of me to be able to go to my GBC and ask for their opinion of me and get an assesment on “how am I doing” ? What are my strengths and what are my weakneses ? How can I improve ? What do I need to change to become a better devotee ? If we really want to grow, we all require accountability. Who do you want to be accountable to ? Which senior devotee do you have faith in, and inspires you ?

    In the end, I don’t think it matters at all whether we are a “gay boy” anymore than it matters that we are a “hetero boy”. A devotee of the Lord does not evaluate themselves in terms of what sexual appetite they have. That sexual appetite is a perverted reflection of the original sexuality found in Lord Krsna in it’s pure state for Srimati Radharani. Our sex desire is only a symptom of our envy of Krsna, to want to be the Supreme Enjoyer. Everyone and everything belongs to Him. As soon as we forget that, and act otherwise, then karma is a bitch, and we experience the consequences.

    As devotees, we need to learn how to have loving and affection dealings with one another in a healthy was as Srila Rupa Goswamis describes in his Nectar of Instruction, verse four. Thank you Niscala and Jeremy for allowing me to share my thoughts.

    Your servant,
    Gaura das

  • saci dasi

    great article….thanks NIscala Prabhu!

  • https://www.facebook.com/anze.cimzar.1 Anže Čimžar

    Room Conversation, August 25, 1971, London
    These rascals should understand that they have created problem on account of their animalistic, less than animalistic civilization. There is no limit of sense gratification. The sense gratification, homosex, they are supporting. Just see. Just see. At least, in animal society there is no homosex. They have created homosex, and that is being passed by the priest, the religious heads. You know that?

    • Murli

      After reading this I Googled —-Homosexuality in Animals
      Tons popped up, along with images and videos, with over a million results.
      Wikipedia: Homosexual behavior in animals –is sexual behavior among non-human species that may be interpreted as homosexual or bisexual. This may include sexual activity, courtship, affection, pair bonding and parenting among same-sex animal pairs. Research indicates that various forms of this are found throughout the animal kingdom.
      As of 1999, nearly 1,500 species, ranging from primates to gut-worms have been observed engaged in same sex behavior ; this is well documented in about 500 species.

  • https://www.facebook.com/anze.cimzar.1 Anže Čimžar

    Conversation with the GBC, May 25, 1972, Los Angeles
    Prabhupada: Now the priestly order supporting homosex. I was surprised. They are going to pass resolution for getting married between man to man. The human society has come down to such a degraded position. It is astonishing. When I heard from Kirtanananda Maharaja there is a big conference for passing this resolution. In India still, if there somebody hears about homosex (makes sound of breathing out). Homosex is there but nobody will support publicly. (indistinct) People are going down and this is the subject matter for priestly order? It may be subject matter for the legislator, priestly order, they are discussing for one week. Just imagine. Phalena pariciyate, one has to study by the result. Not that superficially you show that “We are very much advanced.” Phalena, what is the result? Phalena pariciyate, your, that is in English word also, end justifies the means. The end is this (indistinct) “We are going to support homosex.” Getting married. There are many cases the priestly order has actually got married. I read it in that paper, Watch, what is called?
    Devotees: Watchtower.
    Prabhupada: Watchtower. They have complained(?). So we have nothing to (indistinct) them. The world is degrading to the lowest status, even less than animal. The animal also do not support homosex. They have never sex life between male to male. They are less than animal. People are becoming less than animal. This is all due to godlessness.

  • https://www.facebook.com/anze.cimzar.1 Anže Čimžar

    Morning Walk, September 28, 1972, Los Angeles
    Jayatirtha: Ordained priests, they have left and gone off to marry or whatever. Especially they are concerned that they can’t marry. Catholic priests are not allowed to marry.
    Prabhupada: Marrying? They are marrying man to man ,what to speak of marrying. Sodomy.
    Jayatirtha: So that’s the alternative. Either they’re leaving or they’re marrying man to man.
    Prabhupada: Homosex. They are supporting homosex. So degraded, and still they say, “What we have done?” They do not know what is degradation, and they are priest. They are teaching others. They do not know what is the meaning of degradation.
    Svarupa Damodara: So if the leader is degraded, how can the followers…
    Prabhupada: Similarly, scientists, they do not know what is imperfection, and they are scientists.
    Devotee (2): The thing about the blind leading the blind.

  • https://www.facebook.com/anze.cimzar.1 Anže Čimžar

    Morning Walk, December 8, 1973, Los Angeles
    Yasomatinandana: These Christians are very blasphemous.
    Prajapati: Very blasphemous.
    Prabhupada: Yes.
    Karandhara: Party spirit.
    Prabhupada: No no, what is their value? When they are sanctioning abortion, homosex, now they are finished. They have no value.
    Karandhara: Well, most or a greater proportion of the traditional Christians condemn homosex and abortion. A good quantity of the traditional Christians, they condemn abortion and homosex.
    Prabhupada: Yes, they are good, but mostly, as you were telling me that, that Pope is disgusted… Yes. Nobody cares for the Bible or the Pope. That is everywhere, not only Christian. Actually there is no religion at the present moment. All animals. We don’t blame only the Christians. The Hindus, Muslim, everyone. They have lost all religion.

  • https://www.facebook.com/anze.cimzar.1 Anže Čimžar

    Morning Walk, May 11, 1975, Perth
    The dog and cat they are having sex on the open street, and now they are talking of homosex in the school, colleges for education. This is their position. They do not know even what is the standard of human civilization.

  • https://www.facebook.com/anze.cimzar.1 Anže Čimžar

    Morning Walk, May 13, 1975, Perth
    Our difficulty: the so-called swamis, priests, popes, they are also in the pravrtti-marga. All these, priests, and they have illicit sex. Pravrtti-marga. So they are passing, “Yes, you can have homosex with man.” They are getting man-to-man marriage. You know? They are performing the marriage ceremony between man to man in the open church. What class of men they are? And they are priest. Just see. Such degraded persons, drinking… They have got hospital for curing their drinking disease. Five thousand patients in a hospital in America, all drunkards, and they are priest. Just see.

  • https://www.facebook.com/anze.cimzar.1 Anže Čimžar

    Morning Walk, May 13, 1975, Perth
    Paramahamsa: They also have that “Thou shalt not commit adultery.”
    Prabhupada: Yes. And they are very expert in doing that. That is advanced civilization. Now they are marrying man to man and accepting homosex, so what is the value now of this priestly class?

  • https://www.facebook.com/anze.cimzar.1 Anže Čimžar

    Morning Walk, May 14, 1975, Perth
    Prabhupada: Fourth-class men.
    Amogha: Yeah.
    Prabhupada: They are discussing in the university homosex. They are advanced. Advancement of education. Just see. They are not even fourth-class men; they are animals, producing so many animals, that’s all, dogs and hogs. [break] …in the beginning samah. Samah, damah — first two business. Control the sense and keep the mind undisturbed. That is the beginning. Now they are so much sexually disturbed, they’re discussing about the profit of homosex. Where is first-class men?
    Amogha: They say that homosex keeps the balance of things because…
    Prabhupada: Yes, fourth-class man can say anything wrong, bad, but we are not going to hear of it. A fourth-class man’s philosophy, we will have to waste our time to hear them — that’s not good. They are not even fourth class; they are animal class. Fourth class has got some position, but they are naradhama, the lowest of the mankind. So what is their philosophy, and who is going to spoil his time to hear about their philosophy?

    • http://gravatar.com/niscala1 niscala1

      Anze, posting quotes like these, by Srila Prabhupada is actually irrelevant. You may wonder why- as it is quotes about the topic. It is irrelevant in terms of time, place and circumstance. When Srila Prabhupada was preaching, it was either to young devotees or guests who were not sure about moral conduct, and especially during the 60’s and 70’s most young people believed in free sex. No devotees here and now are confused that sexual activity that is not for begetting Krsna conscious offspring is an anartha. But focusing on the negatives of anarthas is not the solution and it certainly wasn’t Srila Prabhupada’s solution either. Instead of looking up “homosex” in the vedabase, I suggest you look up these words. Krsna. Radha. Bhakti. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. In this reply to you, to make things simple, I will focus on the Krsna word, and explain how it puts this and many other issues into perspective. There is magic in the holy name!

      I’ve made the point before, a gay couple have the same exact challenge that a straight couple has, who don’t want children, or don’t want more children. They somehow have to live together as celibates. How well they navigate this issue depends entirely on how much attraction they have for Krsna. So they should saturate their minds with talks about Krsna’s sweet lila with the Vraja associates, meditate constantly on His beautiful form along with His associates, hear sweet kirtan at every opportunity, smell, taste and feel His prasadam, basically drown every one of the senses in Krsna nectar. They should live in a Holy place and/or make their home a temple, and engage in Diety worship. For their livelihood, they should not be in cities- following SP’s order for our grhasthas to live in “Vraja villages” they should live very simply and happily.

      They should also develop loving relationships with other devotees, so they do not seek intimacy with their partners out of loneliness and feelings of disconnection. They should try to connect with their partners on the level of seeing them as Krsna’s- to be enjoyed by Him alone. In this way, very quickly all our couples can be raised to the platform of transcendence.

      The key to turning the lock of samsara is raga- attachment. So long as our raga is for sense objects, our actions will go there, but if we make ourselves very attached to Krsna, then the sense objects have little sway. I am mentioning this because I have a friend who visited a gay devotee’s home and found, instead of Krsna artwork on his walls, sexually expolicit pictures- and this was an initiated devotee. Everywhere, we should be seeing Krsna- on every wall- and preferably gazing at them while we chant. The mind has to be filled with positive samskaras, impressions, to counteract the countless material samskaras it has accumulated over many lifetimes. This is a challenge filled with joy- because Krsna and Krsna kirtan is sweet- but our conditioning is to be forgetful. So, giving blessing to a gay couple is an opportunity for a guru, like Hridayananda, to instruct a couple about these things, and how to make their lives Krsna-centred.

      Overall, we are too busy thinking about how people are falling down, in what abominable manner they do it, and so on, that we forget in what manner they can not fall down- it is Krsna consciousness, not falldown consciousness, even in a negative sense. The mind does not respond to negative instructions. If I say “Don;t think of a ripe juicy watermelon” what do you think of? Therefore one acarya instructed “Don’t think of Krsna, standing besides the Yamuna in the moonlight, in His charming threefold bending form the color of sapphires, playing the flute…” The “not” just doesn;t have effect…

      • niscala


  • https://www.facebook.com/anze.cimzar.1 Anže Čimžar

    Outside of loving God there is no possibility of loving. Rather, there is lusty desire only. Within this atmosphere of matter, the entire range of human activities — and not only every activity of human beings but all living entities — is based upon, given impetus and thus polluted by sex desire, the attraction between male and female. For that sex life, the whole universe is spinning around — and suffering! That is the harsh truth. So-called love here means that “you gratify my senses, I’ll gratify your senses,” and as soon as that gratification stops, immediately there is divorce, separation, quarrel, and hatred. So many things are going on under this false conception of love. Actual love means love of God, Krsna.

    >>> Ref. VedaBase => SSR 7d: Protecting Oneself from Illusion


    DANG, too much talk about sex is also contaminating. Bhagavatam teaches us to cent per cent stop focusing on the material energy and all its nuances. No doubt the standards must be set since we have the tendencies to have to deal with the subject, and Srila Prabupada has done so in his words above. I am happily married to a wonderful Vaisnavi. Children cant be produced from a combination of men on men in the natural sense so its the proof its not right.. My take is that women have taken birth in mens bodies due to some kind of Karma and thats why they still have an attraction for men. I dont mean to offend folks here. BUt we do need to stop focusing on this foolish issue and turn our attention to the Parampadam. Your Servant Bhagavad Gita das. (now lets see who gets riled about about this) if you do you are focusing on your material life which is to be rejected.

    • Niscala Devi Dasi

      >>DANG, too much talk about sex is also contaminating

      Yes, the focus is not on the sex, though, but discriminating according to the bodily concept. If some people think of sex because I have mentioned “gay” that is their problem.

      >>Bhagavatam teaches us to cent per cent stop focusing on the material energy and all its nuances.

      Exactly, then one can see everyone in their true forms- as servants, not according to gender, third or otherwise.

      >>No doubt the standards must be set since we have the tendencies to have to deal with the subject, and Srila Prabupada has done so in his words above

      Of course, regardless of bodily type, everyone should try to follow as best they can, keeping in mind that Krsna does not care for how many times you fall, but how much devotion you have for His lotus feet, which is watered by hearing and chanting about the name, form, pastimes, etc. Read Sarartha Darsini if you have not done so already and you will see what I mean. As the taste for the exquisitely sweet pastimes of the Lord is kindled, the taste for sense objects declines. What can repression accomplish?

      >>I am happily married to a wonderful Vaisnavi.

      Good, just remember she is Krsna’s.

      >>Children cant be produced from a combination of men on men in the natural sense so its the proof its not right.

      Are we talking about sex? OK, you are quite astute in your observation. So any sex, straight or otherwise, that does not have KC conception as it’s goal, is symptomatic of a diseased condition. Let’s talk now about Krsna- lack of devotion to His lotus feet, His pastimes, His name, His form, ensures we will continue to run after sense objects, because the jiva is pleasure-seeking.

      >>My take is that women have taken birth in mens bodies due to some kind of Karma and thats why they still have an attraction for men. I dont mean to offend folks here.

      You are right of course. I can’t think of another reason.

      >>BUt we do need to stop focusing on this foolish issue and turn our attention to the Parampadam.

      My point exactly. But part of that surrender to to treat His exceptionally dear devotees, exceptionally carefully. Many exceptionally nice devotees, full of good qualities, happen to be in gay bodies- it may be even Krsna’s arrangement to expose our propensity to see (and to judge) according to the bodily platform. If you are doing that, don’t. Read the instructions of Lord Kapiladeva in the 3rd canto. Any of these gay devotees may be a better devotee than you or me or that sannyasi guru with the big seat and getting grand accolades. Krsna doesn’t care for that- just what’s in the heart. Thank you.

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