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Kinds and degrees of illicit sex

Friday, 13 April 2007 / Published in Articles, Urmila Devi Dasi / 15,526 views

By Urmila Devi Dasi

Please accept my obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada!

Certainly we Gaudiya Vaisnavas, members of ISKCON, should know what is sinful and what is not. In the ultimate sense, “sin” is anything that is not done 1) for Krishna, 2) with a desire to please Him without wanting anything in return, and 3) without any interruption in the service. Such pure bhakti is the nature of the soul, and anything contrary to that, or less than that, is untruth and sinful.

But sin is of different kinds and degrees. Just as one cannot say that because a cat is an animal and a dog is an animal that a cat is a dog, so one cannot say that because two things are both sinful that they are the same kind of thing, or to the same degree. Murder is a different kind of sin than is stealing, and there are degrees of both, with different types and severity of consequences. First degree murder is of a different degree than manslaughter; and manslaughter is a different kind of sin than armed robbery with a deadly weapon, which is of a different degree than burglary.

Therefore, to gradually elevate conditioned souls, “upper levels” of sin are considered pious. In other words, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors which are to some degree and of some kind of sin, when dovetailed with bhakti, under the guidance of a bona fide guru, can lead us to bhakti. As Narada Muni instructed, “Does not a thing, when applied therapeutically, cure a disease which is caused by that very same thing?”

In this regard, there are both kinds and degrees of illicit sex. The fact that one can categorize them all as “illicit” does not equate them, nor will there be the equivalent type and severity of reaction. And some types of “illicit” sex are more likely to bring one to a pious platform than are others. In fact, there are kinds and degrees of pious or “licit” sex, as well, and even pious sex will only take one to the heavenly planets.

For an analogy, there are different types of eating. The most first-class eating is to eat food grown, cooked, and offered by first-class devotees. The offering should be made to Deities who receive regular top grade worship. And, when eating, one should be meditating on the mercy of Krishna, loving the Lord. However, we all recognize that there are “lower” platforms which are still within the range of acceptability for a Vaisnava “in good standing.” Although strict devotees cook the food and offer it to the Lord, that food may be grown or produced by non-devotees, or we may have to make offerings in a situation where regulated worship is impossible, as when traveling. Someone who offers vegetarian food that non-devotees have grown and cooked does not have a very high standard, but could still be considered “acceptable” in a general way. Below that standard is the vegetarian who perhaps eats prasadam when it is available. Such a standard is still better than meat-eating. Then, in the “kind” of sin of meat-eating, there are degrees. Eating a chicken’s egg is not as sinful as eating a goat, which is not as sinful as eating a cow or a human being. One cannot possibly equate the eating of a cow or human with eating vegetarian food offered to Krishna but prepared by a non-devotee or by a “loose” devotee and then offered in a relatively casual manner.

Regarding sexual behavior specifically, the main point is that sex should be connected with pleasing Krishna, who has designed the function of sex to be connected with creation. The main criterion in the sastra for righteous sex is that which is “pro-creation.” And the children produced should be trained as devotees. The best way for such training of children is for children to be produced within marriage. Limiting procreative sex to marriage is also beneficial for the parents as it practically and mentally connects pleasure to responsibility and service. Further limiting sex to only the most favorable time for procreation, and an even further limitation of a deliberate preparation of the parents’ mental state, is the most beneficial. The closer sexual behavior is to the ideal of responsibility and service, both in regards to the sexual partner and the offspring, the more “pious” and the less hindrance for the development of bhakti. As one gets further from this ideal, bhakti becomes more and more difficult, though in an ultimate sense bhakti is independent of material circumstances. There are also sexual behaviors that by their very nature cannot be offered in service and are therefore great obstacles to bhakti, just as there are foods which cannot be offered.

Ideally, a Vaisnava’s mentalilty when striving for personal purity should not be to define the “bottom line” of acceptability so as to justify staying a millimeter above the line. Rather, in each of our personal lives we should seek the highest platform we can maintain at our current level of realization and detachment, always seeking further purity and love for Krishna.

But the most important element of our spiritual advancement is the chanting of the Holy Name. We do not discourage anyone–even a cow eater–from chanting. As a person chants with sincerity and attention, he or she will naturally lose all desire for anything except Krishna’s pleasure, and all forms of personal sense gratification will become detestable.

Your servant, Urmila devi dasi

27 Responses to “Kinds and degrees of illicit sex”

  1. Tamoharadasa says :

    Hare Krsna . All Glories to Srila Prabhupada.

    Thank you for your thoughtful article meant to encourage us in our advancement in Radha Krsna’s service. I hope you will tolerate if I comment, hopefully to further draw out the character of pure devotioanl service.

    In response to Deviji’s first paragraph, that unless the service is 100% unmotivated then there is sin; is it not true that the devotees in the Vaikunthas are somewhat attached to opulence? Yet, this is not considered sinful. Devotees also have categories and degrees of devotional service, but these are not considered to be within the mundane category of more or less materially sinful. These Vaikuntha devotees of course cannot be called sinful, though their position is perhaps less than the highest order of absolute purity of devotion sepcifically to Sri Krsna, which is our standard, and possibly the highest standard in all creation. This is the ultimate standard by which Urmila Devi is judging sin or not sin.

    So far as righteous sex goes, there is no material sex life which is acceptable . The compromise is there because very few of us can totally renounce serving these bodily itchings. The manjaris have no sex life. We aspire for no sex life, also. Mataji has captured this point. Grhastas having sex is natural within material nature. It is not sinful, when properly regulated, or rather as she states, there are degrees. We as devotees are propounding a very elevated state in which a higher nature’s rules are the criteria. In the material world, we are subject to Maya’s rules, whereas we seek to be free and engaged according to Godly standards far above those of the varnashram of this relative realm.

    Sastra suggests that giving the Holy Names to the unqualified is an offense against the Holy Names. Herein lies an example of Srila Prabhupada’s exceptional spiritual position; he authorized us to give these Names indiscriminatley, like the clouds pouring water on the land and the sea equally. This is uniquely merciful, and seperates us from other Vaisnava groups, to our great international spiritual success. Srila Prabhupada’s mercy is still unmatchable .

    Ultimately, even if a pure devotee acts abominably by mundane standards, Krsna’s merciful glance is the highest authority. Even a sinful rascal recognized by Him is far above the brahmana who neglects devotional service, even though otherwise engaged in following all the Vedic regulations, and tI suggest that herein lies Mataji’s point. I say this to note that devotional service grows crookedly, and is not forced by mere adherence to rules and regulations, and austerities, but immediately purity is summoned when we are recognized by God as we shed tears chanting the Holy Names.

    Tamoharadasa (ACBSP)

  2. anantaramdas says :

    I am concerned with the general mood of this article. It sounds apologetic, though disguised as “understanding”. It might pave the way for dangerous “concesions”. For instance, in this gradation of sins, what is “more sinful”, to have an abortion or to abuse a child? Should we welcome abortion into our philosophy, just like some are accepting homosexuality? One can be compassionate and yet uncompromising in one’s beliefs. It is my impression that too many Vaishnavas are opting for compassion disregarding their principles. Once you do this, you may end up in that kind of trouble or lead others into such darkness. Prudence is needed.

  3. Amara_dasa says :

    Hare Krsna!

    This was a thoughtful article and fair enough. I’m glad to see that devotees are beginning to contemplate the nuances of sin and virtue. For too many years we have just been dismissing and condemning the fallen rather than trying to help, advise and encourage them.

    Tamohara Prabhu’s point that no material sex life is ultimately acceptable is a good one. We should not be attached or falsely proud of any sex life in this world. One time an Indian man proudly paraded all of his many children before Srila Prabhupada. Srila Prabhupada, however, was not particularly impressed and even told one of his disciples, “He is simply showing me his sex life.” We should not be falsely proud of ourselves as great progenitors and “pro-creationists.” Nor should we belittle or ridicule those who do not have children or big, big families. In truth, procreation and pregnancy are affairs of this material world. Srila Prabhupada explains this as follows:

    “In all eight of the heavenly varsas [planetary islands], although men and women enjoy sex pleasure, there is no pregnancy. Pregnancy only takes place in lower-grade life. For example, animals like dogs and hogs become pregnant twice a year, and each time they beget at least half a dozen offspring. Even lower species of life such as snakes give birth to hundreds of young at one time. This verse informs us that in grades of life higher than ours, pregnancy occurs once in a lifetime. People still have sex, but there is no pregnancy. In the spiritual world, people are not very attracted to sex life, due to their exalted devotional attitude. Practically speaking, there is no sex life in the spiritual world, but even if sometimes it does occur, there is no pregnancy at all.”
    (Srimad Bhagavatam 5.17.12, purport)

    This is just a side point, however. I appreciate Urmila’s article and especially commend the last paragraph.

    -Amara dasa

  4. varahanarasimha says :

    actually sex is only for getting KC kids and nothing else

    Bhagavad-gītā As It Is 7.11

    balaḿ balavatāḿ cāhaḿ


    dharmāviruddho bhūteṣu

    kāmo ‘smi bharatarṣabha


    I am the strength of the strong, devoid of passion and desire. I am sex life which is not contrary to religious principles, O lord of the Bhāratas [Arjuna].


    The strong man’s strength should be applied to protect the weak, not for personal aggression. Similarly, sex life, according to religious principles (dharma), should be for the propagation of children, not otherwise. The responsibility of parents is then to make their offspring Kṛṣṇa conscious.

    Srila Prabhupada’s Nectar of instruction vers 1 is of great importance in this regard

    The Nectar of Instruction 1

    vāco vegaḿ manasaḥ krodha-vegaḿ

    jihvā-vegam udaropastha-vegam

    etān vegān yo viṣaheta dhīraḥ

    sarvām apīmāḿ pṛthivīḿ sa śiṣyāt


    vācaḥ — of speech; vegam — urge; manasaḥ — of the mind; krodha — of anger; vegam — urge; jihvā — of the tongue; vegam — urge; udara-upastha — of the belly and genitals; vegam — urge; etān — these; vegān — urges; yaḥ — whoever; viṣaheta — can tolerate; dhīraḥ — sober; sarvām — all; api — certainly; imām — this; pṛthivīm — world; saḥ — that personality; śiṣyāt — can make disciples.


    A sober person who can tolerate the urge to speak, the mind’s demands, the actions of anger and the urges of the tongue, belly and genitals is qualified to make disciples all over the world.


    In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (6.1.9-10) Parīkṣit Mahārāja placed a number of intelligent questions before Śukadeva Gosvāmī. One of these questions was: “Why do people undergo atonement if they cannot control their senses?” For instance, a thief may know perfectly well that he may be arrested for his stealing, and he may actually even see a thief arrested by the police, yet he continues to steal. Experience is gathered by hearing and seeing. One who is less intelligent gathers experience by seeing, and one who is more intelligent gathers experience by hearing. When an intelligent person hears from the lawbooks and śāstras, or scriptures, that stealing is not good and hears that a thief is punished when arrested, he refrains from theft. A less intelligent person may first have to be arrested and punished for stealing to learn to stop stealing. However, a rascal, a foolish man, may have the experience of both hearing and seeing and may even be punished, but still he continues to steal. Even if such a person atones and is punished by the government, he will again commit theft as soon as he comes out of jail. If punishment in jail is considered atonement, what is the benefit of such atonement? Thus Parīkṣit Mahārāja inquired:

    dṛṣṭa-śrutābhyāḿ yat pāpaḿ

    jānann apy ātmano ‘hitam

    karoti bhūyo vivaśaḥ

    prāyaścittam atho katham

    [SB 6.1.9]

    kvacin nivartate ‘bhadrāt

    kvacic carati tat punaḥ

    prāyaścittam atho ‘pārthaḿ

    manye kuñjara-śaucavat

    [SB 6.1.10]

    He compared atonement to an elephant’s bathing. The elephant may take a very nice bath in the river, but as soon as it comes onto the bank, it throws dirt all over its body. What, then, is the value of its bathing? Similarly, many spiritual practitioners chant the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra and at the same time commit many forbidden things, thinking that their chanting will counteract their offenses. Of the ten types of offenses one can commit while chanting the holy name of the Lord, this offense is called nāmno balād yasya hi pāpa-buddhiḥ, committing sinful activities on the strength of chanting the Hare Kṛṣṇa mahā-mantra. Similarly, certain Christians go to church to confess their sins, thinking that confessing their sins before a priest and performing some penance will relieve them from the results of their weekly sins. As soon as Saturday is over and Sunday comes, they again begin their sinful activities, expecting to be forgiven the next Saturday. This kind of prāyaścitta, or atonement, is condemned by Parīkṣit Mahārāja, the most intelligent king of his time. Śukadeva Gosvāmī, equally intelligent, as befitting the spiritual master of Mahārāja Parīkṣit, answered the King and confirmed that his statement concerning atonement was correct. A sinful activity cannot be counteracted by a pious activity. Thus real prāyaścitta, atonement, is the awakening of our dormant Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

    Real atonement involves coming to real knowledge, and for this there is a standard process. When one follows a regulated hygienic process, he does not fall sick. A human being is meant to be trained according to certain principles to revive his original knowledge. Such a methodical life is described as tapasya. One can be gradually elevated to the standard of real knowledge, or Kṛṣṇa consciousness, by practicing austerity and celibacy (brahmacarya), by controlling the mind, by controlling the senses, by giving up one’s possessions in charity, by being avowedly truthful, by keeping clean and by practicing yoga-āsanas. However, if one is fortunate enough to get the association of a pure devotee, he can easily surpass all the practices for controlling the mind by the mystic yoga process simply by following the regulative principles of Kṛṣṇa consciousness — refraining from illicit sex, meat-eating, intoxication and gambling — and by engaging in the service of the Supreme Lord under the direction of the bona fide spiritual master. This easy process is being recommended by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī.

    First one must control his speaking power. Every one of us has the power of speech; as soon as we get an opportunity we begin to speak. If we do not speak about Kṛṣṇa consciousness, we speak about all sorts of nonsense. A toad in a field speaks by croaking, and similarly everyone who has a tongue wants to speak, even if all he has to say is nonsense. The croaking of the toad, however, simply invites the snake: “Please come here and eat me.” Nevertheless, although it is inviting death, the toad goes on croaking. The talking of materialistic men and impersonalist Māyāvādī philosophers may be compared to the croaking of frogs. They are always speaking nonsense and thus inviting death to catch them. Controlling speech, however, does not mean self-imposed silence (the external process of mauna), as Māyāvādī philosophers think. Silence may appear helpful for some time, but ultimately it proves a failure. The meaning of controlled speech conveyed by Śrīla Rūpa Gosvāmī advocates the positive process of kṛṣṇa-kathā, engaging the speaking process in glorifying the Supreme Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. The tongue can thus glorify the name, form, qualities and pastimes of the Lord. The preacher of kṛṣṇa-kathā is always beyond the clutches of death. This is the significance of controlling the urge to speak.

    The restlessness or fickleness of the mind (mano-vega) is controlled when one can fix his mind on the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa. The Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Madhya 22.31) says:

    kṛṣṇa — sūrya-sama; māyā haya andhakāra

    yāhāń kṛṣṇa, tāhāń nāhi māyāra adhikāra

    Kṛṣṇa is just like the sun, and māyā is just like darkness. If the sun is present, there is no question of darkness. Similarly, if Kṛṣṇa is present in the mind, there is no possibility of the mind’s being agitated by māyā’s influence. The yogic process of negating all material thoughts will not help. To try to create a vacuum in the mind is artificial. The vacuum will not remain. However, if one always thinks of Kṛṣṇa and how to serve Kṛṣṇa best, one’s mind will naturally be controlled.

    Similarly, anger can be controlled. We cannot stop anger altogether, but if we simply become angry with those who blaspheme the Lord or the devotees of the Lord, we control our anger in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu became angry with the miscreant brothers Jagāi and Mādhāi, who blasphemed and struck Nityānanda Prabhu. In His Śikṣāṣṭaka Lord Caitanya wrote, tṛṇād api sunīcena taror api sahiṣṇunā: “One should be humbler than the grass and more tolerant than the tree.” One may then ask why the Lord exhibited His anger. The point is that one should be ready to tolerate all insults to one’s own self, but when Kṛṣṇa or His pure devotee is blasphemed, a genuine devotee becomes angry and acts like fire against the offenders. Krodha, anger, cannot be stopped, but it can be applied rightly. It was in anger that Hanumān set fire to Lańkā, but he is worshiped as the greatest devotee of Lord Rāmacandra. This means that he utilized his anger in the right way. Arjuna serves as another example. He was not willing to fight, but Kṛṣṇa incited his anger: “You must fight!” To fight without anger is not possible. Anger is controlled, however, when utilized in the service of the Lord.

    As for the urges of the tongue, we all experience that the tongue wants to eat palatable dishes. Generally we should not allow the tongue to eat according to its choice, but should control the tongue by supplying prasāda. The devotee’s attitude is that he will eat only when Kṛṣṇa gives him prasāda. That is the way to control the urge of the tongue. One should take prasāda at scheduled times and should not eat in restaurants or sweetmeat shops simply to satisfy the whims of the tongue or belly. If we stick to the principle of taking only prasāda, the urges of the belly and tongue can be controlled.

    In a similar manner, the urges of the genitals, the sex impulse, can be controlled when not used unnecessarily. The genitals should be used to beget a Kṛṣṇa conscious child, otherwise they should not be used. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement encourages marriage not for the satisfaction of the genitals but for the begetting of Kṛṣṇa conscious children. As soon as the children are a little grown up, they are sent to our Gurukula school, where they are trained to become fully Kṛṣṇa conscious devotees. Many such Kṛṣṇa conscious children are required, and one who is capable of bringing forth Kṛṣṇa conscious offspring is allowed to utilize his genitals.

    When one is fully practiced in the methods of Kṛṣṇa conscious control, he can become qualified to be a bona fide spiritual master.

    In his Anuvṛtti explanation of Upadeśāmṛta, Śrīla Bhaktisiddhānta Sarasvatī Ṭhākura writes that our material identification creates three kinds of urges — the urge to speak, the urge or demands of the mind and the demands of the body. When a living entity falls victim to these three types of urges, his life becomes inauspicious. One who practices resisting these demands or urges is called tapasvī, or one who practices austerities. By such tapasya one can overcome victimization by the material energy, the external potency of the Supreme Personality of Godhead.

    When we refer to the urge to speak, we refer to useless talking, such as that of the impersonal Māyāvādī philosophers, or of persons engaged in fruitive activities (technically called karma-kāṇḍa), or of materialistic people who simply want to enjoy life without restriction. All such talks or literatures are practical exhibitions of the urge to speak. Many people are talking nonsensically and writing volumes of useless books, and all this is the result of the urge to speak. To counteract this tendency, we have to divert our talking to the subject of Kṛṣṇa. This is explained in Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.5.10-11):

    na yad vacaś citra-padaḿ harer yaśo

    jagat-pavitraḿ pragṛṇīta karhicit

    tad vāyasaḿ tīrtham uśanti mānasā

    na yatra haḿsā niramanty uśik-kṣayāḥ

    “Those words which do not describe the glories of the Lord, who alone can sanctify the atmosphere of the whole universe, are considered by saintly persons to be like unto a place of pilgrimage for crows. Since the all-perfect persons are inhabitants of the transcendental abode, they do not derive any pleasure there.”

    tad-vāg-visargo janatāgha-viplavo

    yasmin prati-ślokam abaddhavaty api

    nāmāny anantasya yaśo ‘ńkitāni yat

    śṛṇvanti gāyanti gṛṇanti sādhavaḥ

    [SB 1.5.11]

    “On the other hand, that literature which is full of descriptions of the transcendental glories of the name, fame, forms, pastimes, etc., of the unlimited Supreme Lord is a different creation, full of transcendental words directed toward bringing about a revolution in the impious lives of this world’s misdirected civilization. Such transcendental literatures, even though imperfectly composed, are heard, sung and accepted by purified men who are thoroughly honest.”

    The conclusion is that only when we talk about devotional service to the Supreme Personality of Godhead can we refrain from useless nonsensical talk. We should always endeavor to use our speaking power solely for the purpose of realizing Kṛṣṇa consciousness.

    As for the agitations of the bickering mind, they are divided into two divisions. The first is called avirodha-prīti, or unrestricted attachment, and the other is called virodha-yukta-krodha, anger arising from frustration. Adherence to the philosophy of the Māyāvādīs, belief in the fruitive results of the karma-vādīs, and belief in plans based on materialistic desires are called avirodha-prīti. Jñānīs, karmīs and materialistic planmakers generally attract the attention of conditioned souls, but when the materialists cannot fulfill their plans and when their devices are frustrated, they become angry. Frustration of material desires produces anger.

    Similarly, the demands of the body can be divided into three categories — the demands of the tongue, the belly and the genitals. One may observe that these three senses are physically situated in a straight line, as far as the body is concerned, and that the bodily demands begin with the tongue. If one can restrain the demands of the tongue by limiting its activities to the eating of prasāda, the urges of the belly and the genitals can automatically be controlled. In this connection Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura says:

    śarīra avidyā jāla, jaḍendriya tāhe kāla,

    jīve phele viṣaya-sāgare

    tā’ra madhye jihvā ati, lobhamāyā sudurmati,

    tā’ke jetā kaṭhina saḿsāre

    kṛṣṇa baḍa dayāmaya, karibāre jihvā jaya,

    sva-prasāda-anna dila bhāi

    sei annāmṛta khāo, rādhā-kṛṣṇa-guṇa gāo,

    preme ḍāka caitanya-nitāi

    “O Lord! This material body is a lump of ignorance, and the senses are a network of paths leading to death. Somehow or other we have fallen into the ocean of material sense enjoyment, and of all the senses the tongue is the most voracious and uncontrollable. It is very difficult to conquer the tongue in this world, but You, dear Kṛṣṇa, are very kind to us. You have sent this nice prasāda to help us conquer the tongue; therefore let us take this prasāda to our full satisfaction and glorify Your Lordships Śrī Śrī Rādhā and Kṛṣṇa and in love call for the help of Lord Caitanya and Prabhu Nityānanda.” There are six kinds of rasas (tastes), and if one is agitated by any one of them, he becomes controlled by the urges of the tongue. Some persons are attracted to the eating of meat, fish, crabs, eggs and other things produced by semina and blood and eaten in the form of dead bodies. Others are attracted by eating vegetables, creepers, spinach or milk products, but all for the satisfaction of the tongue’s demands. Such eating for sense gratification — including the use of extra quantities of spices like chili and tamarind — is to be given up by Kṛṣṇa conscious persons. The use of pan, haritakī, betel nuts, various spices used in pan-making, tobacco, LSD, marijuana, opium, liquor, coffee and tea is indulged in to fulfill illicit demands. If we can practice accepting only remnants of food offered to Kṛṣṇa, it is possible to get free from māyā’s victimization. Vegetables, grains, fruits, milk products and water are proper foods to offer to the Lord, as Lord Kṛṣṇa Himself prescribes. However, if one accepts prasāda only because of its palatable taste and thus eats too much, he also falls prey to trying to satisfy the demands of the tongue. Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu taught us to avoid very palatable dishes even while eating prasāda. If we offer palatable dishes to the Deity with the intention of eating such nice food, we are involved in trying to satisfy the demands of the tongue. If we accept the invitation of a rich man with the idea of receiving palatable food, we are also trying to satisfy the demands of the tongue. In Caitanya-caritāmṛta (Antya 6.227) it is stated:

    jihvāra lālase yei iti-uti dhāya

    śiśnodara-parāyaṇa kṛṣṇa nāhi pāya

    “That person who runs here and there seeking to gratify his palate and who is always attached to the desires of his stomach and genitals is unable to attain Kṛṣṇa.”

    As stated before, the tongue, belly and genitals are all situated in a straight line, and they fall in the same category. Lord Caitanya has said, bhāla nā khāibe āra bhāla nā paribe: “Do not dress luxuriously and do not eat delicious foodstuffs.” (Cc. Antya 6.236)

    Those who suffer from diseases of the stomach must be unable to control the urges of the belly, at least according to this analysis. When we desire to eat more than necessary we automatically create many inconveniences in life. However, if we observe fasting days like Ekādaśī and Janmāṣṭamī, we can restrain the demands of the belly.

    As far as the urges of the genitals are concerned, there are two — proper and improper, or legal and illicit sex. When a man is properly mature, he can marry according to the rules and regulations of the śāstras and use his genitals for begetting nice children. That is legal and religious. Otherwise, he may adopt many artificial means to satisfy the demands of the genitals, and he may not use any restraint. When one indulges in illicit sex life, as defined by the śāstras, either by thinking, planning, talking about or actually having sexual intercourse, or by satisfying the genitals by artificial means, he is caught in the clutches of māyā. These instructions apply not only to householders but also to tyāgīs, or those who are in the renounced order of life. In his book Prema-vivarta, Chapter Seven, Śrī Jagadānanda Paṇḍita says:

    vairāgī bhāi grāmya-kathā nā śunibe kāne

    grāmya-vārtā nā kahibe yabe milibe āne

    svapane o nā kara bhāi strī-sambhāṣaṇa

    gṛhe strī chāḍiyā bhāi āsiyācha vana

    yadi cāha praṇaya rākhite gaurāńgera sane

    choṭa haridāsera kathā thāke yena mane

    bhāla nā khāibe āra bhāla nā paribe

    hṛdayete rādhā-kṛṣṇa sarvadā sevibe

    “My dear brother, you are in the renounced order of life and should not listen to talk about ordinary worldly things, nor should you talk about worldly things when you meet with others. Do not think of women even in dreams. You have accepted the renounced order of life with a vow that forbids you to associate with women. If you wish to associate with Caitanya Mahāprabhu, you must always remember the incident of Choṭa Haridāsa and how he was rejected by the Lord. Do not eat luxurious dishes or dress in fine garments, but always remain humble and serve Their Lordships Śrī Śrī Rādhā-Kṛṣṇa in your heart of hearts.”

    The conclusion is that one who can control these six items — speech, mind, anger, tongue, belly and genitals — is to be called a svāmī or gosvāmī. Svāmī means master, and gosvāmī means master of the go, or senses. When one accepts the renounced order of life, he automatically assumes the title of svāmī. This does not mean that he is the master of his family, community or society; he must be master of his senses. Unless one is master of his senses, he should not be called gosvāmī, but go-dāsa, servant of the senses. Following in the footsteps of the six Gosvāmīs of Vṛndāvana, all svāmīs and gosvāmīs should fully engage in the transcendental loving service of the Lord. As opposed to this, the go-dāsas engage in the service of the senses or in the service of the material world. They have no other engagement. Prahlāda Mahārāja has further described the go-dāsa as adānta-go, which refers to one whose senses are not controlled. An adānta-go cannot become a servant of Kṛṣṇa. In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (7.5.30), Prahlāda Mahārāja has said:

    matir na kṛṣṇe parataḥ svato vā

    mitho ‘bhipadyeta gṛha-vratānām

    adānta-gobhir viśatāḿ tamisraḿ

    punaḥ punaś carvita-carvaṇānām

    “For those who have decided to continue their existence in this material world for the gratification of their senses, there is no chance of becoming Kṛṣṇa conscious, not by personal endeavor, by instruction from others or by joint conferences. They are dragged by the unbridled senses into the darkest region of ignorance, and thus they madly engage in what is called ‘chewing the chewed.’ ”

    Lust must always be given up at all times places and circumstances

    Bhagavad-gītā As It Is 16.21

    tri-vidhaḿ narakasyedaḿ

    dvāraḿ nāśanam ātmanaḥ

    kāmaḥ krodhas tathā lobhas

    tasmād etat trayaḿ tyajet


    There are three gates leading to this hell — lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul.


    The beginning of demoniac life is described herein. One tries to satisfy his lust, and when he cannot, anger and greed arise. A sane man who does not want to glide down to the species of demoniac life must try to give up these three enemies, which can kill the self to such an extent that there will be no possibility of liberation from this material entanglement.

    see also SB 5.18. 8

    SB 5.18.8: I offer my respectful obeisances unto Lord Nṛsiḿhadeva, the source of all power. O my Lord who possesses nails and teeth just like thunderbolts, kindly vanquish our demonlike desires for fruitive activity in this material world. Please appear in our hearts and drive away our ignorance so that by Your mercy we may become fearless in the struggle for existence in this material world.

    SB 5.18.9: May there be good fortune throughout the universe, and may all envious persons be pacified. May all living entities become calm by practicing bhakti-yoga, for by accepting devotional service they will think of each other’s welfare. Therefore let us all engage in the service of the supreme transcendence, Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa, and always remain absorbed in thought of Him.

    SB 5.18.10: My dear Lord, we pray that we may never feel attraction for the prison of family life, consisting of home, wife, children, friends, bank balance, relatives and so on. If we do have some attachment, let it be for devotees, whose only dear friend is Kṛṣṇa. A person who is actually self-realized and who has controlled his mind is perfectly satisfied with the bare necessities of life. He does not try to gratify his senses. Such a person quickly advances in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, whereas others, who are too attached to material things, find advancement very difficult.

    SB 5.18.11: By associating with persons for whom the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Mukunda, is the all in all, one can hear of His powerful activities and soon come to understand them. The activities of Mukunda are so potent that simply by hearing of them one immediately associates with the Lord. For a person who constantly and very eagerly hears narrations of the Lord’s powerful activities, the Absolute Truth, the Personality of Godhead in the form of sound vibrations, enters within his heart and cleanses it of all contamination. On the other hand, although bathing in the Ganges diminishes bodily contaminations and infections, this process and the process of visiting holy places can cleanse the heart only after a long time. Therefore who is the sane man who will not associate with devotees to quickly perfect his life?

    SB 5.18.12: All the demigods and their exalted qualities, such as religion, knowledge and renunciation, become manifest in the body of one who has developed unalloyed devotion for the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Vāsudeva. On the other hand, a person devoid of devotional service and engaged in material activities has no good qualities. Even if he is adept at the practice of mystic yoga or the honest endeavor of maintaining his family and relatives, he must be driven by his own mental speculations and must engage in the service of the Lord’s external energy. How can there be any good qualities in such a man?

    SB 5.18.13: Just as aquatics always desire to remain in the vast mass of water, all conditioned living entities naturally desire to remain in the vast existence of the Supreme Lord. Therefore if someone very great by material calculations fails to take shelter of the Supreme Soul but instead becomes attached to material household life, his greatness is like that of a young, low-class couple. One who is too attached to material life loses all good spiritual qualities.

    SB 5.18.14: Therefore, O demons, give up the so-called happiness of family life and simply take shelter of the lotus feet of Lord Nṛsiḿhadeva, which are the actual shelter of fearlessness. Entanglement in family life is the root cause of material attachment, indefatigable desires, moroseness, anger, despair, fear and the desire for false prestige, all of which result in the repetition of birth and death.

    Though Sex is Krsna when for having kC children ,Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Prabhupada said “if Icould have KC children he would have sex hundreds of times”, but stated he was not qualified” ,what to speak of others-our concern is simply to give this up as it is the single most binding force to this material world
    Bhagavad Gita
    BG 3.36: Arjuna said: O descendant of Vṛṣṇi, by what is one impelled to sinful acts, even unwillingly, as if engaged by force?

    BG 3.37: The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material mode of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring sinful enemy of this world.

    BG 3.38: As fire is covered by smoke, as a mirror is covered by dust, or as the embryo is covered by the womb, the living entity is similarly covered by different degrees of this lust.

    BG 3.39: Thus the wise living entity’s pure consciousness becomes covered by his eternal enemy in the form of lust, which is never satisfied and which burns like fire.

    BG 3.40: The senses, the mind and the intelligence are the sitting places of this lust. Through them lust covers the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him.

    BG 3.41: Therefore, O Arjuna, best of the Bhāratas, in the very beginning curb this great symbol of sin [lust] by regulating the senses, and slay this destroyer of knowledge and self-realization.

    BG 3.42: The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence.

    BG 3.43: Thus knowing oneself to be transcendental to the material senses, mind and intelligence, O mighty-armed Arjuna, one should steady the mind by deliberate spiritual intelligence [Kṛṣṇa consciousness] and thus — by spiritual strength — conquer this insatiable enemy known as lust.

    Srila Prabhupadas purports are very important in this regard

    Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has sung

    Song Name: Gopinath Mama Nivedana Suno

    Official Name: Upalabdhi Vijnapti Song 1

    Author: Bhaktivinoda Thakura

    Book Name: Kalyana Kalpataru

    Language: Bengali


    gopīnāth, mama nivedana śuno
    viṣayī durjana, sadā kāma-rata,
    kichu nāhi mora guṇa

    gopīnāth, āmāra bharasā tumi
    tomāra caraṇe, loinu śaraṇa,
    tomāra kińkora āmi

    gopīnāth, kemone śodhibe more
    nā jāni bhakati, karme jaḍa-mati,
    porechi soḿsāra-ghore

    gopīnāth, sakali tomāra māyā
    nāhi mama bala, jñāna sunirmala,
    swādīna nahe e kāyā

    gopīnāth, niyata caraṇe sthāna
    māge e pāmara, kāndiyā kāndiyā,
    korohe karuṇā dāna

    gopīnāth, tumi to’ sakali pāro
    durjane tārite, tomāra śakati,
    ke āche pāpīra āro

    gopīnāth, tumi kṛpā-pārābāra
    jīvera kāraṇe, āsiyā prapañce,
    līlā koile subistāra

    gopīnāth, āmi ki doṣe doṣī
    asura sakala, pāilo caraṇa,
    vinodá thākilo bosi’


    1) O Gopinatha, Lord of the gopis, please hear my request. I am a wicked materialist, always addicted to worldly desires, and no good qualities do I possess.

    2) O Gopinatha, You are my only hope, and therefore I have taken shelter at Your lotus feet. I am now Your eternal servant.

    3) O Gopinatha, how will You purify me? I do not know what devotion is, and my materialistic mind is absorbed in fruitive work. I have fallen into this dark and perilous worldly existence.

    4) O Gopinatha, everything here is Your illusory energy. I have no strength or transcendental knowledge, and this body of mine is not independent and free from the control of material nature.

    5) O Gopinatha, this sinner, who is weeping and weeping, begs for an eternal place at Your divine feet. Please give him Your mercy.

    6) O Gopinatha, You are able to do anything, and therefore You have the power to deliver all sinners. Who is there that is more of a sinner than myself?

    7) O Gopinatha, You are the ocean of mercy. Having come into this phenomenal world, You expand Your divine pastimes for the sake of the fallen souls.

    8) O Gopinatha, I am so sinful that although all the demons attained Your lotus feet, Bhaktivinoda has remained in worldly existence.

  5. varahanarasimha says :

    Bhagavad-gītā As It Is 2.70

    āpūryamāṇam acala-pratiṣṭhaḿ

    samudram āpaḥ praviśanti yadvat

    tadvat kāmā yaḿ praviśanti sarve

    sa śāntim āpnoti na kāma-kāmī


    āpūryamāṇam — always being filled; acala-pratiṣṭham — steadily situated; samudram — the ocean; āpaḥ — waters; praviśanti — enter; yadvat — as; tadvat — so; kāmāḥ — desires; yam — unto whom; praviśanti — enter; sarve — all; saḥ — that person; śāntim — peace; āpnoti — achieves; na — not; kāma-kāmī — one who desires to fulfill desires.


    A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires — that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being filled but is always still — can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.


    Although the vast ocean is always filled with water, it is always, especially during the rainy season, being filled with much more water. But the ocean remains the same — steady; it is not agitated, nor does it cross beyond the limit of its brink. That is also true of a person fixed in Kṛṣṇa consciousness. As long as one has the material body, the demands of the body for sense gratification will continue. The devotee, however, is not disturbed by such desires, because of his fullness. A Kṛṣṇa conscious man is not in need of anything, because the Lord fulfills all his material necessities. Therefore he is like the ocean — always full in himself. Desires may come to him like the waters of the rivers that flow into the ocean, but he is steady in his activities, and he is not even slightly disturbed by desires for sense gratification. That is the proof of a Kṛṣṇa conscious man — one who has lost all inclinations for material sense gratification, although the desires are present. Because he remains satisfied in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, he can remain steady, like the ocean, and therefore enjoy full peace. Others, however, who want to fulfill desires even up to the limit of liberation, what to speak of material success, never attain peace. The fruitive workers, the salvationists, and also the yogīs who are after mystic powers are all unhappy because of unfulfilled desires. But the person in Kṛṣṇa consciousness is happy in the service of the Lord, and he has no desires to be fulfilled. In fact, he does not even desire liberation from the so-called material bondage. The devotees of Kṛṣṇa have no material desires, and therefore they are in perfect peace.


  6. anantaramdas says :

    I am concerned with the general mood of this article. It sounds apologetic and it might pave the way for dangerous “concesions”. For instance, in this gradation of sins, what is “more sinful”, to have an abortion or to abuse a child? Should we welcome abortion into our philosophy, just like some are accepting homosexuality? One can be compassionate and yet uncompromising in one’s beliefs. I think many are having trouble understanding this point.

  7. Suresh das says :

    All the above scriptural quotes carry tremendous validity, beauty, and truth. What does someone do however who isn’t enlightened, or who has not reached the inner circle of self-realization?

    For myself, the rule “no illicit sex”, in all its forms, is the most difficult to observe, because I am undeniably a sensual person, who has deep emotional needs to be loved and nurtured.

    I am not very successful as a sense enjoyer. I am like a round peg, trying to fit in a square hole in relationship to the material world. To me, in my experience, the material world is nothing more than a place of suffering. At the same time though, I am not highly advanced in spiritual life or self-realization either. I possess much theoretical knowledge, but little practical realized knowledge or experience of how to apply spiritual knowledge to my personal path, or type of personality.

    This makes me quite vulnerable to the attack of Maya. I have found it is useless to run away from women, or the association of women. At the same time, for various reasons (astrological, physical and emotional limitations, finances, etc.) women are generally disinterested in me.

    The best course for me seems to be the continual application of devotional service, in spite of my personal shortcomings. The world needs enlightened men and women. It seems, for the type of person that I am, that I can best serve humanity, by striving for such enlightenment.

    At the same time, the reality is, I am usually filled with a sense of deep loneliness and despair.

  8. varahanarasimha says :

    You wrote:
    At the same time, the reality is, I am usually filled with a sense of deep loneliness and despair.

    can I humbly suggest to take shelter of Srila Prabhupadas books and the holy name more seriously, Krsna and the devotees and the holy dhamas like Sri Vrindavan and Mayapure,to the degree we do this maya’s influence is not there.Why should there be loneliness and despair in the association of devotees, are we these material bodies and minds? Or eternal spirit souls part and parcel of Krsna?If the mind becomes our friend as Krsna tells us to do in 6 chapter of Bhagavad Gita there is no despair and only spiritual joy .Hankering and lamenting over matrial pleasure is simply useless-even if one gets such flickering happiness for a few moments is it really worth it?Not at all-best to renounce it -this is best done by getting very serious about sadhana bhakti best done in association of devotees

  9. varahanarasimha says :

    lust and love is differentL Love is for Krsna -lust is for the opposite sex

    Bhagavad-gītā As It Is 3.40

    indriyāṇi mano buddhir

    asyādhiṣṭhānam ucyate

    etair vimohayaty eṣa

    jñānam āvṛtya dehinam



    The senses, the mind and the intelligence are the sitting places of this lust. Through them lust covers the real knowledge of the living entity and bewilders him.


    The enemy has captured different strategic positions in the body of the conditioned soul, and therefore Lord Krsna is giving hints of those places, so that one who wants to conquer the enemy may know where he can be found. Mind is the center of all the activities of the senses, and thus when we hear about sense objects the mind generally becomes a reservoir of all ideas of sense gratification; and, as a result, the mind and the senses become the repositories of lust. Next, the intelligence department becomes the capital of such lustful propensities. Intelligence is the immediate next-door neighbor of the spirit soul. Lusty intelligence influences the spirit soul to acquire the false ego and identify itself with matter, and thus with the mind and senses. The spirit soul becomes addicted to enjoying the material senses and mistakes this as true happiness. This false identification of the spirit soul is very nicely explained in the Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (10.84.13):

    yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke

    sva-dhīḥ kalatrādiṣu bhauma ijya-dhīḥ

    yat-tīrtha-buddhiḥ salile na karhicij

    janeṣv abhijñeṣu sa eva go-kharaḥ

    “A human being who identifies this body made of three elements with his self, who considers the by-products of the body to be his kinsmen, who considers the land of birth worshipable, and who goes to the place of pilgrimage simply to take a bath rather than meet men of transcendental knowledge there, is to be considered like an ass or a cow.(end)

    Sex life is not where it is add it is simply PLEASURE WORTHY OF THE HOGS AND DOGS AND SUCH ANIMALS, Srila Prabhupada has stated this a million times and we need to wake up of this illusion of maya and stop chasing her like a mirage in the desert

    WE SHOULD beg devotees to preach to us to wake us up and drag us away from the filthy thought of sense gratification:
    Rupa Goswami has prayed that My dear mind you are like a calf that has entered a deep cave and drinking the filthy water of sensegratification but you my dear Krsna are the all attrative cowhered boy and please drag my mind out of this cave and give me Your association .
    No one is forcing us to go to maya the choice is abviously ours

  10. varahanarasimha says :

    Srila Prabhupada was disappointed when devotees feel down:”But you promised to follow these 4 regulative principles”- what you read above has to be implemented in ones life at all costs, and there is no glorious victory without a glorious struggle

  11. Tamoharadasa says :

    Dear Suresh Prabhu; PAMHO

    The life situation which you describe is common to most men and women. Thank you for taking this position so that instruction can be expanded for all.

    Spiritual life is quite demanding, but we should not take on more than we can reasonably handle. Any “self-gratification”, in which the “self” refers to the temporary physical body, is ultimately to be renounced in favor of Self-gratfication, with a capital “S” The Self is eternal servant of Godhead. The temporary physical body is a vehicle that can deliver us or carry us downwards, depending upon the knowlege by which we act.

    Our egos determine how we decide to act, and these have a gross and a subtle side. The gross side is identification with place of birth, sex, race, country of origin, political affiliations, and religion. The subtle ego is the underlying misunderstanding which is then bedecked with the previous aspects related to the gross physical body and it’s place of birth etc. This subtle false ego is that I am the enjoyer and controller of all around me, everything is meant for my enjoyment.

    Hence, pleasures related to the physical body can deepen the trance of false ego, and so are not conducive to advancement in spiritual understanding and freedom from the conditioning that such so-called pleasures actually strengthen.

    By performance of austerity, such as celibacy, the root of the false ego is shaken, and the soul begins to again control her destiny. For a househoilder, regulated sex life is one of the keys to emancipation from the driving control of the senses. For a renunciant, total celibacy is said to be the key. The presription is as according to the body and mentality to be healed, but in all cases there is a question of exercising control over the drives of the senses by application of the teachings given by the liberated spiritual master.

    Taking on more than one is capable of is brave but foolhardy. Choose your battles wisely, and do not take on a fight that you have no chance of winning. The devotees and spiritual masters can help you decide which ashrama may be best for you if you are in doubt; renounced or married. Both ashramas are good. In Kali yuga, for a fully grown young person to take up renounced life is not recommended. Householder life is safer, and for most of us by far, the best course. But whichever, you must stick to the specific prescription, or the medecine will be impeded.

    Celibates having trouble controlling sex drive is nothing new in this world. Austerity, eating just enough to keep your body healthy, avoiding overly spiced or rich food, completely giving up association with the opposite sex, living in holy places free from sex propaganda such as movies and TV, and fully engaging the mind in chanting Hare Krsna Hare Krsna and serving the devotees are essential.

    If one can keep the mind fully remembering Krsna etc., and when any other thought arises, to immediately re-remember Krsna before the sex thought reaches a level of feeling and desiring, will make it possible to be free of the trap of sex life, otherwise not possible. by constant practice and detachment, you can conquer.

    At any rate, regulation is also a step forward, but try not to increase the sexual behavior. While entangled, giving up sex life seems impossible , unimaginable. But without being too cynical, keep in mind that as these bodies age, the force of sex drive reduces. Thus, a householder, having passed through life, in older age, can take up vanaprastha or even sannyasa. By steadily chanting and following the ideals as best as possible over time, one makes advancement in sense control. Don’t be a fanatic, but don’t give up either. Do the best you can, engage fully in devotional services, and have confidence that Sri Krsna will bless you with all needed energy to go back to Godhead.

    Enjoy yourself in the right context;. take nice prasad, sing nicely with accompanying instruments, read nice Krsna philosophy, associate with the devotees, always chant Hare Krsna Hare Rama, and soon you will find that these pleasure are freeing. These pleasures are of the Self, and should be enjoyed. This is the real life.

    Suresh Prabhu, we have talked before, and there are your personal circumstances. I am wondering, did the devotees’ prayers help even a little? I always enjoy to see your articles and comments on the websites. Haribolo!

  12. Akruranatha says :

    In our preaching we do not often discuss different grades of sin, but obviously they exist, as Urmila Mataji points out. We can all relate to the example that there must be different sentencing guidelines for first degree murderers and candy bar-shoplifters. How could human society exist without different grades of punishments for different major and minor crimes?

    Srila Prabhupada did not often emphasize distinguishing between relatively mild or grave sins. I think he must have expected us to be aware of the difference, and to try to avoid both. Ideally, the very serious sins were things we should not even have to be warned about.

    [I am told that in a private letter he advised some married disciples to at least cut back on sex if they could not immediately limit it to once a month. I do not have a citation, though, nor would I argue that a private letter to a specific disciple gives any license to others.]

    Another thing that comes out in the discussion is that there are apparently two different regimes for morality existing side by side: One regime for those engaged in the futile struggle for material enjoyment, and another very fine and exacting one for the devotees who are trying to achieve perfection in devotional service.

    As Mother Urmila states, only uninterrupted, unmotivated, favorable devotional service to Krishna is really proper conduct. Anything else “misses the mark” for those on the path of pure bhakti and will never fully satisfy the soul. That is ultimately the real standard.

    “Only those who render unreserved, uninterrupted, favorable service unto the lotus feet of Lord Krishna, who carries the wheel of the chariot in His hand, can know the creator of the universe in His full glory, power and transcendence.” (S.B. 1.3.38)

    Anything less than unalloyed devotional service is in that sense a “sin”, and on the progressive path of sadhana bhakti there are many offenses to avoid so that we may be elevated gradually to genuine spontaneous devotion. These offenses can be called “sins” for the aspiring devotee, even if he or she is otherwise blameless. If we forget Krishna for a moment, isn’t that a “sin”?

    In this way we can see that nondevotees, even if they are otherwise paragons of Vedic virtue, actually have no good qualities (harav abhaktesu kuto mahad gunan mano rathenasati dhavato bahi). Imagine how high Srila Prabhupada is trying to lead us, far above the material piety even of pious and pure brahmanas, mystic yogis and learned sages!

    All devotional service, under the guidance of a qualified spiritual master, is on the brahma bhuta platform. It is generally expected that only those who are free of material sins can take to this path. “yesam tv anta gatam papam jananam punya karmanam te dvandva-moha-nirmukta bhajante mam drdha-vratah” (B.G. 7.28 )

    This is truly astonishing to me, that some new bhakta can be engaged immediately in pure devotional service, just by taking a book, saying the name “Krishna”, or tasting a prasadam sweetball. It is only a matter of time before Radha and Krishna completely capture that person.

    “My dear Vyasa, even though a devotee of Lord Krishna sometimes falls down somehow or other, he certainly does not undergo material existence like others [fruitive workers, etc.] because a person who has once relished the taste of the lotus feet of the Lord can do nothing but remember that ecstasy again and again.” (S.B. 1.5.19)

    That is, once someone sincerely gives himself or herself to Krishna, the regular regime of papa-punya does not exactly apply. Krishna directly makes special arrangements for that person. Jayananda Prabhu used to say, if you take one step toward Krishna He takes a hundred toward you.

    Still, a person who is seriously on the path of bhakti is expected to display all of the first-class qualities of the pious. (Sarvair gunas tatra samasate surah) If we do not display all the good qualities of the demigods, it must be because our devotional service is still in a very immature stage, or we may even have “fallen down somehow or another”.

    Devotional service is so strong it can purify mlecchas, hunas, pulindas, andhras, yavanas, etc., and if we take it up very seriously even we mlecchas will display all the good qualities of first-class brahmanas, sages, and siddhas. So, the devotees of Krishna should act more piously than even the advanced fruitive workers and speculative philosophers. We expect that.

    But if some beginners do not immediately come up to the high standards, we can still expect them to do so soon. We do not blame a dirty man who is in the shower. “Quickly he will become righteous. Declare it boldly O Arjuna, My devotee never perishes.”

    By performing pious deeds, one acquires high birth, beauty, wealth, education, health, fame, and even good qualities like detachment and sense control, but none of these qualities will help one reach life’s ultimate goal unless one somehow takes advantage of association with devotees.

    “I adore the primeval Lord Govinda, who burns up to their roots all fruitive activities of those who are imbued with devotion, and impartially ordains for each of those who walk in the path of work the due enjoyment of the fruits of his activities, in accordance with the chain of his previously performed works, no less in the case of the tiny insect that bears the name of “indragopa” than in that of Indra, king of the Devas.” (B.S. 5.54)

    The pious sacrifices prescribed in the “karma path” section of the Vedas do have some degree of service to Vishnu, so that one not only develops in material goodness, the liberating guna, but also gets some contact with devotional service, if even to a limited degree.

    But actually, Krishna cannot be sincerely approached by those on the path of material progress; He is thus famous as “the property of the materially impoverished.” (S.B. 1.8.26-27)

    Even if one follows the three Vedas expertly and is elevated to the moon planet to enjoys godly delights, still one will return to the world of death when his or her stock of pious credits is exhausted. (B.G. 9.20-21)

    Generally, ordinary people who have no conception of the glories of pure devotional service think in terms of punishment and reward for pious and sinful activities. They want to be rewarded for piety with heavenly enjoyment, and are afraid of hellish punishment for their misdeeds. They are correct that the world really does work that way, with its stringent laws of action and reaction for different kinds of work, but they are mistaken in maintaining an ideal of so-called heavenly enjoyment which is separate from Krishna’s loving devotional service.

    Concerns for reward and punishment keep society functioning on a somewhat even keel. Some forms of illicit sex create social upheavals like divorce, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and abortion. Solitary gratification is still sinful (the wasting of seed is itself a violation of the orderly laws of the universe), and generally will lead to other forms of illicit sex, or to implication in the brutal pornography industry that caters to such things.

    At least if sex is restricted to within marriage, society functions better, but still if there is no conception of regulation and sense control and producing nice devotee children as the goal, it is not a very good society.

    Even those who are concerned about avoiding sin are often dragged to it, as if by force. (B.G. 3.36-40). Chanting Hare Krishna destroys both the sinful reactions waiting to happen, and the dirtiness in our hearts which will impel us to future sins.

    Nowadays, many people are so materialistic and fallen that they do not think about karmic reactions at all, or they think the concept of “sin” is just a relic of some pre-rational, superstitious religious culture. More intelligent societies will be concerned about the problems of reaction to sinful deeds, whether of lust, greed or anger, which degrade the mind and drive us to hellish life.

    Christian dogma seems to have some appreciation for the interaction between material pious fruitive activities and bhakti. They often preach that one is not saved by “works” but by grace (or sometimes “faith”), and they also quote St. Paul, saying that “faith without works is dead”. It seems that during the Roman empire when the Christian tradition was first developed, the population was concerned about getting relief from sinful reactions, and must have had a sense that performing rituals like “pagan” sacrifices to Greco-Roman demigods would absolve sins.

    Sorry for rambling a bit. I guess I am just feeling very talkative today.

  13. Akruranatha says :

    Suresh Prabhu, I am sorry to hear of your deep loneliness and despair. I usually think of the materialists as lonely, because nondevotee relationships are based on the material conception of life and seem so dead.

    Sometimes devotees fail to be really friendly with each other for some reason, but there is nothing like the real friendship available in Krishna consciousness. I know we both share that experience.

    The trend toward having temples in our own homes and moving away from the vicissitudes of communal temple life might have its good points, but I miss the camaraderie of living in a temple commune (in spite of the craziness and difficulties).

    I would love to get out on traveling sankirtan again with a group of guys and re-live that very “social” experience in devotional service.

    Maybe this cyberspace forum is an opportunity to converse with devotees, but there is something missing when we do not really see each other and hear the voices and occupy the same rooms, vans, parking lots.

  14. varahanarasimha says :

    Kesava Kasmiri’s Commentary to BG 2.62

    Lord Krishna further explains here that from anger arises delusion which is the lack of discrimination about knowing what actions to perform and what actions not to perform. From delusion comes confusion which is the bewilderment of intelligence and forgetfulness of the truths written in the Vedic scriptures instructed by the spiritual master. From confusion comes illusion the misinterpretation of intellect in determining the true nature of reality. From illusion one becomes completely ruined. One loses focus on the goal of material existence and the purpose of human life and lives in the darkness of nescience. Thus it must be understood that controlling ones mind is essential.

  15. Suresh das says :

    My only interest is in finding out how to follow this principle successfully, and with enthusiasm.

    A little history about myself, when I was 19, I took 1st initiation from Srila Prabhupada, in 1971. At that time I had already been a Brahmacari, in the temple, following the four regulative principles, for almost two years. I agreed to follow the principle “no illicit sex”, because I was already following it, and it was no big deal for me. I never contemplated that in the years, and decades ahead, my life might transform, or the possibility that my needs as an individual might change in the future.

    I would not consider myself a standard ISKCON devotee. I always tried my best to follow the rules, but I never actually fit very well into any sphere. I tried to interpret what the temple authorities, under the direction of Srila Prabhupada, were asking me to do, and cope with the realities of being a regulated devotee, often using my own interpretation of the “rules”. I never went through the gradual process of meeting the devotees, following Krishna Consciousness at home, coming to the Sunday Feast for a period of time, surrendering and then moving in. I surrendered immediately, almost as soon as I met the devotees, mostly because life in the material world was too much emotional torture to endure. The problem though is I had no experience of sex before becoming a devotee, so I only possessed a theoretical idea that it was bad.

    I wish I could say the day I moved into the temple was the happiest day of my life, but in fact my second day in the temple was even happier, and the day after that was happier still. The ever-increasing happiness went on for several weeks, but then abruptly stopped. I sensed I was being encouraged on by a higher power, who was giving me a taste for spiritual life, was showing me I had made the right decision to become a devotee, but who, at the same time, possessed full control over my ability to feel happiness and distress.

    I was a Brahmacari for six years, though possibly for the wrong reasons. I believed during that time that I was extremely ugly, worthless and unlovable. I believed that no woman could possibly ever be interested in me. The problem – it wasn’t the truth.

    I have always been troubled by lifelong depression and a debilitated mind. I have noticed through self-introspection, that I often put false labels on periods of mental suffering, that I can’t explain, with negative affirmations such as I am fat, I am worthless, I am ugly, I am unlovable, as my reasons for feeling emptiness and despair.

    I recognize that I possess a deep, unquenchable hunger that can’t be satisfied by anything available to me in the material world, including food or sex. Nothing available stops the feelings of sadness, emptiness, and despair. The problem though for me, at the same time, is Krishna Consciousness no longer provides feelings of happiness either. It is a great problem for me, because I experienced so much joy in the past from practicing Krishna Consciousness. But that same joy seems unavailable to me now.

    I so much want the process of Krishna Consciousness to work for me. I can’t say there is anything actually wrong with the Krishna Consciousness processes either, because unless I am following everything completely, I have no right to say it doesn’t work. At the same time though I can’t feel any happiness coming to me from the process, and certainly not enough to give up my deep founded beliefs that happiness lies somewhere in material world.

  16. Suresh das says :

    I feel deeply ashamed to complain about not feeling Lord Krishna’s mercy in my life, especially when it can be perceived all around me – I just have to open my eyes to see it. I also sense that every time I complain and feel ungrateful about the mercy and kindness which the Lord has bestowed upon me, all I get as my reward is a space farther back in line to finally meet Him.

    It is such a misnomer, which people have, that sex is the highest enjoyment. We can’t deny that sex is not enjoyment. Otherwise why would everyone, all over the world, be running after it day and night? We just have to educate people that Krishna Consciousness is the highest pleasure. We are seeking the highest pleasure, and for this reason we are willing to forsake the lower pleasures of life, such as sex in order to attract the supreme pure -. Lord Krishna. No one can approach the supreme pure without becoming pure themselves.

    Of course I have to feel the mercy of Krishna Consciousness for myself, otherwise what can I teach with conviction? Srila Prabhupada stated that if I try to teach, but I am not properly qualified in Krishna Consciousness, then I am like a doctor who is not licensed to practice medicine – I am a quack.

    To enjoy fabulous sex life requires tremendous work, money and effort. Even though Lord Chaitanya prayed that He did not desire beautiful women, the reality is that virtually all men desire beautiful women. But great beauty is only attracted to great wealth. For the average man, enjoying a beautiful woman is an impossible dream.

    Everyone desires enjoyment. Previously, in another article, a devotee here at Dandavats proposed that I was immature, because I seek enjoyment in spiritual life. A pure Vaishnava is not supposed to seek or ask for anything from Lord Krishna. I am not that advanced. I practice Krishna Consciousness because I seek the highest level of enjoyment, happiness, and bliss. I know that all forms of happiness in this world, however wonderful an arrangement they might be, are only at best temporary. I seek the highest quality of happiness, which I want to feel permanently, ever-increasingly, ever-fresh, and in newer and newer varieties. That’s why I practice Krishna Consciousness. That’s my goal.

  17. Akruranatha says :

    Dear Suresh Prabhu:

    Thanks for once again being so disarmingly open in public. Your candor and frank discussion of your personal problems embarrasses even me, so I can imagine how difficult it must be for you.

    I see a lot of interesting things in what you wrote. One thing is, you recognize that whether practicing the rules of Krishna consciousness will make you happy or not depends on Krishna’s own will. We have to follow the rules of vaidhi bhakti as a matter of duty and not as a method of mechanically obtaining instant gratification.

    It reminded me of the story that Narada told Vyasa, about how he was meditating on Krishna and then his meditation broke and he felt great separation. When he tried mechanically to do everything he had previously done, he still could not get Krishna to appear back in his heart, because the Lord appears by His own sweet will.

    Still, it is clear from your writing that you are convinced that the only thing that can really satisfy you is Krishna consciousness. You are obviously very fortunate, even though you may not always feel fortunate. You have been accepted as a disciple by Srila Prabhupada and your future is very bright.

    So-called materially advanced people, the rich and the famous, the beautiful and admired, are truly most unfortunate if they become so intoxicated they cannot feelingly worship Krishna. You realize that only unmotivated, uninterrupted devotional service can fully satisfy the self. “Sa vai pumsam paro dharmo yato bhaktir adhoksaje ahaituky apratihita yayatma suprasidati” (S.B. 1.2.6)

    Your story illustrates the verse I quoted from First Canto, Fifth Chapter, about how one tasting Krishna consciousness never undergoes material existence like an ordinary karmi. I do not really believe you have experienced no happiness in Krishna consciousness after the first several weeks (you must have had some ecstatic japa and kirtans and classes and darshans and feasts and pilgimages and snans since those first weeks, if you honestly stop to think about it). But even so, it is amazing how an American like you can remain as committed as you have been, over these 37 or 38 years, to an apparently “foreign” and seemingly marginal religious movement, based largely on remembering the initial taste you got when you first joined.

    Krishna is indeed the “property of the dispossessed,” and Lord Caitanya and His followers worship in the mood of separation. We know that material happiness is temporary, empty, not fully satisfying, and yet even the advanced devotees do not claim to possess Krishna. The six goswamis were always looking, “Where is Krishna?” O Radharani, Queen of Vrndavana! O Lalita, where have you gone?”

    I also am like a quack doctor, not able to give good, practical advice in Krishna consciousness. But we can still serve Srila Prabhupada as his assistants. We can carry Srila Prabhupada’s teachings like simple wheelbarrow drivers, and tell them, “the medicine is here, in this mantra. In these wonderful books is the panacea for the disease of material bondage. Prabhupada is the great doctor, Lord Caitanya has brought this medicine.” You and I know it, like in Bhaktivinode Thakur’s song, Lord Caitanya is calling, “Jiva Jago! Wake up! I have brought this medicine of the maha mantra, now take it.” So we can carry the message and books like humble delivery men.

    Just before I first joined I asked Sriman Jayananda how he had become a devotee. He answered in such a humble way – about how he was in total despair and nothing in his life was working until he met Srila Prabhupada – that I foolishly thought, “Well, this guy is such a loser, of course he needed some religious crutch, but I have so much going for me, I can be happy without it.” It makes me cringe now when I think about how insanely puffed up I was to think in that way about wonderful and saintly Jayananda.

    Materialistic people will have a similar reaction when they read about your depression, your insecurity, your description of your “self” as unlovable. (Isn’t it great that we are not these bodies?) :-)

    They will see, “Here is someone with few material assets, I am more fortunate.” I see someone who may be materially exhausted, and therefore eligible for Srila Prabhupada’s and Krishna’s inconceivable mercy.

  18. Akruranatha says :

    If we see sex and raising a family in religious household life as part of a single package (as they truly are in any sane human civilization), it will help wean us away from the idea of sex as a form of immediate sense gratification or entertainment.

    Of course we love our families, and we love raising them and caring for them, but it is also a difficult and exhausting enterprise. Just earning enough money and trying to set a good example for the kids and make sure they have what they need diverts a lot of energy away from the “game” of dating and sleeping around as young singles often do in this irreligious, animalistic society.

    And then as we get older the drive at least slackens a bit, thank God. I forget which Platonic dialogue it is, where some young Athenian athlete asks Socrates how it feels to be old, and he replies that it is wonderful, like a great weight of lust has been lifted from him, or something like that.

    It is surely a crazy society we live in, how illicit sex is promoted so heavily as the standard of happiness, when it is easy to see that such so-called happiness is fleeting, destructive, and the source of great future misery.

    Probably no society was crazier about sex, at least in recent memory, than the “free love” hippy culture of the late ’60s and early ’70s, when any sexual shyness or inhibition was condemned as a mere “hang up”, left over from “outdated, square, bourgeois values.”

    But we have seen, even most of our nondevotee hippy friends eventually decided to get married and raise families and go to PTA meetings and bake sales and take mortgages out on the house to put the kids through college and grad school. (And those who didn’t marry mostly became miserable by even material standards.)

    So, getting back to the orginal thrust of this article, there is something superior and socially healthy about at least embracing the minimum standard of morality that sex is only permitted within respectable marriage.

    That is not to say that we give a “pass” to contraception or other illicit sex within marriage, but illicit sex outside of marriage is just obviously more destructive of society and moral values. (I would say, illicit sex outside of marriage usually includes all the vices of illicit sex within marriage, and then some.)

    Another thing we can notice is, Krishna consciouness is strong enough to turn even hippies into happies. We do not have to emphasize the prohibitions, the restrictions. We can say, “Here, chant this mantra and experience unlimited happiness”. Then, when they are sufficiently experienced, bhaktas naturally want to learn how to chant properly, avoiding the four prohibited behaviors, and they are able to do so (although there may be some stumbling as we take our first baby steps on the royal path of devotional service).

    These various Christian abstinence programs like “Ring Thing” and so on seem to have a pretty low success rate. Let’s face it, lust is very prevalent everywhere, and illicit sex is extremely prominent today. But Krishna consciousness is powerful enough to purify even modern, unqualified aspirants.

    Not everybody is going to achieve much success right away. As Srila Prabhupada said, when you are selling diamonds, you do not have so many customers. But we can see practically that many people who chant Hare Krishna do give up illicit sex in all its forms. That is truly amazing and a great testament to the power of the holy names.

  19. Suresh das says :

    I think it’s a mistake to think that we will somehow be able to distribute Krishna Consciousness, without become enlightened in it ourselves. People will take us a lot more seriously if they can see that it works for us, and that we are happy, content , and well-adjusted ourselves. Giving out books anonymously is going to work really well for me. I see the looks on people’s faces lately, such as friends and acquaintances, when I hand them a free book. Maybe they had bad experiences in the past with devotees, or they don’t like our reputation, maybe they know me only too well – super depressed, Mr. Negative, so they aren’t so attracted to self realization, because I get in the way. We have to become potent to do any good for anyone else.

  20. Suresh das says :

    I felt great happiness throughout the time I spent within ISKCON. There were so many kirtans, harinams, festivals, and other wonderful events, such as Akruranatha Prabhu mentioned, that were great sources of intense happiness. Book distribution was an especially pleasurable experience. Every time a book left my hands, I felt a charge of bliss. I felt happy after completing my rounds, and taking prasadam. I felt great relief from reading Srila Prabhupada’s books. I could actually say I got high reading those books. I guess I always assumed that I would always be happy and high, but one day, and for no explainable reason, all my happiness stopped. I have not been able to revive my happiness it again by any means.

  21. Mithuna Das says :

    Hare Krishna Prabhus
    Thank you all for sharing so many knowledgeable information on Krishna Consciousness, from the perspective of practicing devotees. I want to field my perspective on this subject of illicit sex. I am approaching my 20th year as a devotee, and all of these years have been very joyful for me.It seems as though that among the senses , the tongue and the genitals ( a concentrated extension of the skin) have the potential to produce the greatest magnitude of conditioning. When we multiply the continuous use of these sense organs over millions of births, we are dealing with much more than Ivan Pavlov’s dog. The constant demand of the genitalia can be a disturbance to the practice of one’s uninterupted Krishna Consciousness; sometimes such a demand can even lead to a complete diversion of the devotee away from Krishna. The best way to deal with this problem ( and problems related to any type of material conditioning) is to try to understand , and embrace the practice krishna Consciousness from the “root” up. This means beginning with proper acceptance of sambhanda tattva as per our real identity. We should understand that despite what appears to the knowledge acquiring senses in this phenomenal world, we are nothing but an eternal fragmental part of krishna , related to him by servitude. This notion of our identity as Krishna’s fragmental part is an axiomatic vedic truth ,that is both INCONTROVERTIBLE and INALIENABLE. Simply, our constitutional position cannot be overturned, nor can we be fundamentally alienated from it. Knowing this “root” vedic axiomatic truth , we should feelingly prayer to the Lord to IRREVOCABLY imprison this truth within the core of our heart ( actually, this is the equal of planting the seed of indomitable faith). To the extent that this truth becomes imprisoned in our heart to that extent we would perform the activities of devotional service despite all and any circumstance; neither the intense cold of the winter, nor the scorching heat of the summer, nor our impending organic death can alter our true identity. As we mature in our devotional practices and we begin to differentiate Krishna as the object of our devotion from our own private motivations ,to that extent also we will experience a deepening satisfaction of our heart. For some devotees this deepening sense of satisfaction manifest itself in the awareness as a non localised feeling of joy, and its accompanying expressions. Of course if Krishna’s wills it , the experience can be more than a deepening satisfaction in the heart. As a corollary to the deepening satisfaction of the heart , all the senses ( including the genitals and the mind) becomes quiet. As the senses become quiet they will no longer imper us to act privately , but we would be easily able to use then for the pleasure of Hari, Guru, Vaisnava. With quiet senses not impelling us to act privately, we give ourselves the super golden opportunity to perform uninterupted devotional service and ” crawl towards the devotional benchmark ” of nishta. Some Vaisnva gurus say that real devotional service begins from the platform of nishta. When hearing, chanting ( and the other angas of devotional activities) become exceedingly sweeter than our private acts we would have attain ruci. Ruci successively expands through the portals of asakti, bhava, and prema coming to rest at the lotus feet of Sri Hari.

  22. Suresh das says :

    I appreciate hearing the philosophical and scriptural presentations. I have been listening to it for many decades. I personally read Srila Prabhupada’s books everyday. Unfortunately for me though, however well meaning, words are just not enough for me. I need to feel loved.

    I have accepted that I can not find happiness or love in sex, and I haven’t had any in several years. I have been married in an ISKCON arranged marriage for 31 years. The relationship with my wife is more like brother and sister, or best friends. We have no children. I have accepted that I possess neither the money, the strength, or the emotional ability to enjoy successful sex life.

    That’s the primary reason I have chosen the path of self realization and Krishna Consciousness. I am just trying to understand the mystery though of why I can’t feel like I am making even a little progress, even after many decades of effort and following the principles, such as “no illicit sex”.

    If it is so difficult for me, what hope is there for others, whom we are trying to attract to our process?

  23. Suresh das says :

    I am always underestimating the costs of things. Pure Krishna Consciousness is much more expensive than I originally estimated.

  24. mata says :

    Hello Suresh Das, I have to tell you that I admire you greatly, not only for your open candor with your psychological state but also for your ability to have faith even during a dark night. I have always disliked the idea that we are “tested” for our stamina, but the truth is that you inspire faith in others by your continued loyality. You seem like a modern Job and my prayer is that Krishna will lighten your burden. I myself have no qualifications, I’m not even a true practitioner, but your story gives me hope that even I can find a way to become focused on his Lotus feet.

  25. Suresh das says :

    In observing how I have lived my life I can understand that my suffering has been brought to me by my own actions and desires. I am glad to be reminded again about the life and reform of Ajamil in the pages of Srimad Bhagavatam, through this article.

    Srila Prabhupada writes in the 6th Canto regarding the definition of properly following Brahmacarya, and defines the person who is actually adhering to the principle “no illicit sex”.

    “Brahmacarya, the life of celibacy, has eight aspects: one should not think of women, speak about sex life, dally with women, look lustfully at women, talk intimately with women or decide to engage in sexual intercourse, nor should one endeavor for sex life or engage in sex life. One should not even think of women or look at them, to say nothing of talking with them. This is called first-class brahmacarya. If a brahmacārī or sannyāsī talks with a woman in a secluded place, naturally there will be a possibility of sex life without anyone’s knowledge. Therefore a complete brahmacārī practices just the opposite. If one is a perfect brahmacārī, he can very easily control the mind and senses, give charity, speak truthfully and so forth. To begin, however, one must control the tongue and the process of eating.”

    Srila Prabhupada also states in the 4th Canto: “if the Brahmacari eats too much, he falls down.” In another place Srila Prabhupada states if a Brahmacari sees the face of a woman, and thinks it is very beautiful, then he experiences a subtle fall-down.

    In studying my own life, I know that I have rarely actually ever followed true Brahmacarya, even when I lived for 6 years in the Brahmacari ashram. In the moments when I actually followed Brahmacarya, in those moments I felt great peace of mind, happiness, and joy.

  26. Mithuna Das says :

    Hare Krishna
    Suresh das
    Thank you for being candid about your personal Krishna Consciousness practice. Please continue to have faith that no private material act can ever satisfy the self who is “ananda mayo bhysat.” The only thing that can satisfy the self is the activities of devotional service. The purer this service becomes to that extent our material curiosity becomes inert. Try to embrace your real identity from the “root”, and act in your service portfolio from this pivot( see post # 18). If we perform devotional service with the motivation to obtain pleasure ( or escape suffering) a time would come when the demand of surrender( and responsibility) in Krishna Consciousness may outweigh the pleasure ” output” we expect; in such circumstances it is easy for a practioner to become diverted from Krishna Consciousness, and seek easier( and less responsible ) means to pleasure. Invariably, these easier means are often some kind of material activity( including illicit sex, and ingestion of various kinds of psychotropic substances). However, if we practice Krishna Consciousness from the ” root” up, we will easily become steady; our intrinsically driven motivation to serve will continue to flicker ,despite the presence or absence of others.

  27. One “gurukuli” wrote me this letter and gave me permission to send it here as a comment without giving the gurukuli’s name….Here it is:

    I also really appreciated your recent article on degrees of sin.

    I would add that the degree of sin can also scale to the number of people you hurt in the pursuit of your enjoyment (or their spiritual caliber aka don’t mess with sages/brahmanas/Vaisnavas). For instance, I re-read the story of Ajamila a few months back and was struck by the fact that he was married ( His sin was certainly greater because he hurt his wife and community. We’ve both seen that devotees who suffer personal problems but don’t let that hurt those around them, do much better than those who willfully hurt or manipulated others.

    Your article made me peaceful because I can see that I am at least at a small working level.

    It IS very difficult to stay with 1 person for any length of time. No, seriously. It is tapasya. They don’t always want what you want when you want it…and I’m not even talking about intimate stuff! They get sick and you have to take care of them, even if you want to do something else. Or you get sick and they don’t take care of you like you want! You have to spend time with them, cook with them, do laundry, the whole thing. It’s a lot of work. Happiness at times, pain at others.

    Ajamila fell because he was trying to avoid all of that by getting a prostitute. He was trying to play the system. He wanted all the fun and none of the work – which he got for a bit until she took over his life! If he had fallen and picked himself up, it would have been a different story. But he deliberately went back, brought the prostitute into his home and wove her into his life. It’s your own fault if you invite the vampire in, right? ;-)

    I’m convinced that Krsna’s name is where it’s at…now to translate that into a real CONSISTENT reality.

    Your servant, (name withheld)

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