“Force will not work” The argument for gay marriage

Krsna Kirti has claimed that Hrdayananda Maharja is deviating from the commentary of Srila Prabhupada (to SB 3.20.26, regarding the homosexual appetite being demoniac) in his recommendation of restrained marriage for gay devotees. How so, escapes us totally, as Hridayananda is suggesting a way to contain the demoniac propensity- restrained monogamy as opposed to promiscuity.

This all-inclusive mentality, which is acknowledging of the principle that sense restraint cannot be forced but happens naturally as one develops one’s love for Krishna, and that anyone can become a devotee of Krishna, is reminiscent of Srila Prabhupada’s reaction when he heard his heterosexual brahman grhastha couples were not following the “no illicit sex” principle. Rather than exclude them, or separate them or nullify their marriages, and instead of chastising or guilt-tripping them, he asked that varnasrama be introduced in ISKCON and devotees adopt a varna that was representative of their conditioning in the modes of nature.

It was never followed, and that was why I wrote my book, “Varnasrama the Eight Petalled Lotus” “Everyone for Krsna, and Krsna for Everyone” was Srila Prabhupada’s mood.

Despite our total and blatant disregard for Srila Prabhupada’s instructions regarding varnasrama, we seem to be very concerned about them in regard to this topic and KK has implied a disregard for the same in Hridayananda Maharaja.

The conclusion is that Hridayananda Maharaja advocates a system of moral behavior whose legitimacy depends on contradicting the authoritative statements (and hence authority) of Srila Prabhupada.

Yet there has been no authoritative statement that has been disregarded- just the opposite. If I have a business and one of my employees is skimming money and I say “this is demoniac” and another employee makes a suggestion how to contain him- such as have him work in the kitchen instead of at the cash register, how is that disregarding the instruction?

“Following the Spirit of the Law”

The argument that it is a compromising of our standards, was the exact point made to SP during the varnasrama conversation, wherein devotees objected that such was a compromise, as most devotees were brahmanas. He replied “yes we are raising them to that platform but they are falling down. Therefore, we need this”

In devotee varnasrama, certain things such as worship of the demigods and forefathers are excuded- everything is centred around Krsna but there is acknowledgement of one’s conditioning in the modes, so there is no hypocrisy, no compromise of standards. Sudras and vaisyas just follow the “no illicit sex” principle as best they can, increasing their ability over the course of time, as love for sense objects is replaced by the inflaming of passionate, friendly, parental or servile love for Krsna.

This is the natural process of awakening one’s natural propensity to love. In the conditoned mindset, there is love and attachment for sense objects. This is called raga. The path of raga is not to nullify raga but change its flow to the lotus feet of Krsna by constant immersion in hearing, chanting etc

In the beginning, in the stage of vaidhi bhakti, some restraint must be there, however. It is not that vairagya has no place at all. Thus, restrained marriage is important in the beginning. As one develops a sense of loving Krsna, then one succeeds very easily in sense control- it is automatic. Then one may be married or not married, it does not matter, for marriage becomes a friendship between two souls helping each other love their common beloved Krishna.

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  • saci dasi

    Bravo, Niscala, devi, dandavat!

  • Bimbadhara das

    The problem is gross but the solution is subtle. The mainstream debate over gay marriage, is not about private behavior, I think most people, including conservatives would agree that adults have the right to behave, in private, any way that they agree upon with each other, when it doesn’t hurt the rest of us –even if it is wrong. Nor is it reasonable to prevent government benefits from reflecting gay social contracts on a par with normal ones.
    The debate is about language and behavior in the public forum. First, it’s about the use of the word “marriage”. Straights just don’t like equating gay bonding with their own by calling it marriage.
    Secondly, in society, refined people have always found ways of insulating themselves from the profane. This includes restricting public behavior in various ways. Before I became a devotee, I took my girlfriend to a restaurant where a country-western band was practicing. When I kissed her on the lips, a fellow from the band came over and said to me:”We don’t do that stuff in here.” I liked him for that.
    To the eye, subtle public expressions of sexual affection can be seen as an “ornament” decorating the religiously sanctified process of producing a family. Gay behaviour carries no such caveat. Hetrosex can be blessed. Homosex is something crooked that cannot be made straight. In other words, hetrosex can be existentially sinful. Gay sex is essentially sinful.
    “Born that way” is a weak argument. It could be applied to a lot of behavior that people are in jail for. Note that gays were produced by intimate behavior radically different from their own.
    So what to do about our dear charming loving gay friends? Not around my kids.

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

      In the U.S. South, Whites didn’t like Blacks eating in their restaurant tables because they felt it degraded or spoiled the traditional “all-white” ambiance, whatever that meant. The truth is they were simply unaccustomed to mixing with people of other races. When the “sacred” so-called Biblical tradition of segregation was broken, southern Whites discovered that Blacks were ordinary people just like them. They did not threaten their women or children in any way. After reading the above post, which expresses shocking prejudices, the similarities are striking. I guess it is something people have to get used to, those who are as yet unaccustomed to seeing and mixing with loving gay couples on an equal level.

    • niscala

      >>So what to do about our dear charming loving gay friends? Not around my kids.

      This is ignorant and hateful and I certainly did not approve it for posting. I will ask the webmaster to remove it.

  • Baladas

    good point. The Vivaha samskara (marraige yajna) is meant for a man and woman who have the potential to use sex to create children. That yajna creates a contract with controlling demigods including Lord Visnu, and facilitates the capability of the couple to have sexual relations in such a way that an advanced pure devotee might incarnate into their home.

    If a woman is 100% physically incapable of bearing children, there is no reason for her to engage in sex with a man outside of mutual sense gratification. So if a man chooses to take her for a wife, there is no reason to perform the marraige sacrifice. They can choose to cohabitate and even adopt a child, but the marriage sacrifice is not necessary and should not be performed as it will be done only for show and is offensive to the Demigods.

    Similarly, since sex between members of the same gender is only for mutual comfort through sense gratification, there is no justification to perform a Vivaha samskara yajna.

    But there are good reasons to create some sort of formal recognition of monogamous commitment if it would support their ability to avoid promiscuity because that benefits themselves and society.

    • niscala

      Along with infertile couples, you also have couples who have decided that they have produced enough children but still stay together. They have the challenge of remaining forever celibate- quite unreasonable and not many follow it. It is to be understood that the ideal is there, but the fact is, unless we have become free from material desires, the ideal is not likely to be followed. So we just live as much as possible in a completely sattvic lifestyle- which is why SP wanted the majority of his householder disciples to be living in a rural setting. And if a gay couple commit not just to each other’s material well-being, but their spiritual well-being, by daily discourse on the gita and other sastra, by chanting and so on, then why not call it marriage?

      • Jester

        My example referred to the status of individuals before they consider the Vivaha Samskara or Marriage Ceremony. If there was prior knowledge that there is no possibility of bringing Krishna conscious children into the world then Srila Prabhupada would not recommend a man and woman disciple of his to couple up and choose to live together domestically. I do not know what he would do if they were already coupled, or were not, and insisted on coupling anyway. I am sure he would be loving and supportive of their rejection of his guidance, but it is hard to believe he would give it sanction with the Vivaha samskara. Especially in the later days when he was even restricting the qualifications for 2nd initiation and instituting DVAD.

        As for the word Marriage. The English definition of the word marriage is very close to the Vedic concept which is why Srila Prabhupada made them equivalent.

        MAR’RIAGE, noun [Latin mas, maris.] The act of uniting a man and woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. marriage
        is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to
        live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall
        separate them. marriage was instituted by God himself for the
        purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for
        promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and
        education of children. (Webster 1828 edition)

        Srila Prabhupada used the word in his books as follows.

        vivāha—marriage (Adi 15.30 : SYNONYMS)

        …especially the vivāha-yajña [the marriage ceremony for sons and daughters...(SB 5.14.18 : TRANSLATION)

        For example, *marriage or the combination
        of a man with a woman* is necessary for progeny, but it is not meant
        for sense enjoyment. (SB 1.2.10 Purport)

        - He also warned of the foretold degradation of the marriage ceremony by scripture and cast the act of marrying outside of scriptural injunction in a negative light.

        In the age of Kali, the women and the children, along with brāhmaṇas
        and cows, will be grossly neglected and left unprotected. In this age
        illicit connection with women will render many women and children
        uncared for. Circumstantially, the women will try to become independent
        of the protection of men, and [i]marriage
        will be performed as a matter of formal agreement between man and woman[/i].
        In most cases, the children will not be taken care of properly. (SB 1.16.21 : PURPORT)

        “And in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam there is foretelling that in this age there will be no more marriage. Vedic marriage will be stopped. Svīkāra eva ca udvāhe. [i]Simply by agreement, the marriage function will be performed.[/i] But as far as we are concerned, we are trying to establish daiva-varṇāśrama, as it is instructed by the Gosvāmīs, by Hari-bhakti-vilāsa, by our spiritual master.” (Bombay, 3/29/71)
        ————————————-

        It seems clear that the word marriage has a distinct meaning, and Srila Prabhupada used it as such.

        So it seems reasonable that for those in Srila Prabhupada’s Iskcon who are not qualified for marriage but wish to enter into formal agreements that are recognized by Iskcon, Iskcon’s leaders are authorized to be creative according to time place and circumstance and create a separate and distinct formality that would not compete with or imitate the marriage ceremony.

        The term given to the formality should reflect the true nature of the event, to avoid confusion and watering down of meaning. In America we call these civil unions or domestic partnerships. So a “partnership ceremony” or “commitment ceremony” seems appropriate.