Homosexuality and the New Age
Abhaya Mudra Dasi:
Homosexuality has become so prominent in the second half of the 20th century that is has been propagated as a lifestyle of choice. But it wasn’t always like this. Before the technological revolution, homosexuality was referred to in the most derogatory of terms. Openly proclaiming oneself to having had intimate relations with a same sex individuals was considered shameful. Because society was oriented around the family unit, the number of homosexuals was kept to a minimum. In ancient India, and even up till the turn of the 21st century, homosexuals were considered outcastes. The existence of the third gender was not denied but was only tolerated outside the strict principles of a varnashram-structured society.
To this day, homosexuals often face social denial and hardships, yet such is the harsh verdict of karma upon same sex acts. But what lies at the root of this controversial mentality? Let us try to examine this ongoing social dilemma from a spiritual prospective. Generally homosexuals today claim the excuse of having been born as that way. Is this statement an undisputed truth?
Prakriti and Purush
From a spiritual perspective all living entities are prakriti, or expansions of the pleasure potency of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna. He is the only One Supreme Male and Supreme Enjoyer of all energies. Meanwhile, the deluded living entity thinks that the act of descent into the material world gives the entity a carte blanche to claim the position of supreme enjoyer. Shrila Prabhupada explains in Bhagavad Gita As It Is, (Intro):
The living entity is explained as the superior prakrti. Prakrti is always under control, whether inferior or superior. Prakrti is female, and she is controlled by the Lord just as the activities of a wife are controlled by the husband. Prakrti is always subordinate, predominated by the Lord, who is the predominator. The living entities and material nature are both predominated, controlled by the Supreme Lord. According to the Gita, the living entities, although parts and parcels of the Supreme Lord, are to be considered prakrti. This is clearly mentioned in the Seventh Chapter, fifth verse of Bhagavad-gita:
apareyam itas tv anyam prakritim viddhi me param
jiva-bhutam maha-baho yayedam dharyate jagat
“Besides this inferior nature, O mighty-armed Arjuna, there is a superior energy of Mine, which are all living entities who are struggling with material nature and are sustaining the universe.”
Therefore, the attempt of any living entity to try to enjoy another living entities equals spiritual homosexuality. This activity is initiated from the beginning of the soul’s fall into material existence. The jiva who has denied the supremacy of the Supreme Lord faces only one possible option: sharing temporary “enjoyment” with other conditioned living entities who are also prakriti energy of the Supreme Lord. The entity’s deluded concept of “enjoyment” in the material world is perpetrated infinitely due to ignoring the Supreme Male Shri Krishna. The material world is therefore defined as a madhouse wherein frustrated conditioned souls are forced to mingle forever with other conditioned souls in an attitude of mutual exploitation. It is a place of prakriti exploiting prakriti.
The Impersonal Calamity
The root cause of this mentality is an impersonal understanding of the Supreme Personality of Godhead Shri Krishna. The brahmajyoti or brilliant bodily effulgence of the Supreme Lord is covered by illusion and results in the creation of the material world. Shrila Prabhupada explains in the Bhaktivedanta Purport to Bhagavad Gita As It Is 4.24:
“Brahman means spiritual. The Lord is spiritual, and the rays of His transcendental body are called brahmajyoti, His spiritual effulgence. Everything that exists is situated in that brahmajyoti, but when the jyoti is covered by illusion (maya) or sense gratification, it is called material. This material veil can be removed at once by Krishna consciousness; thus the offering for the sake of Krishna consciousness, the consuming agent of such an offering or contribution; the process of consumption, the contributor, and the result are-all combined together-Brahman, or the Absolute Truth. The Absolute Truth covered by maya is called matter.”
When awakened through bhakti-yoga, the eternal spiritual relationship between the living entity and the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna bears no trace of impersonalism. As Shri Krishna tells Arjuna in the Gita (15.1)
“The Blessed Lord said: There is a banyan tree which has its roots upward and its branches down and whose leaves are the Vedic hymns. One who knows this tree is the knower of the Vedas.”
The spiritual world is compared to an infinite banyan tree whose reflection is the material world. That which is the highest point in the spiritual world is the lowest in this material reflection. The principles found in the spiritual world are mirrored in its reflection, although the three-dimensional feeling of spiritual reality is not present in the material world, which is insipid by comparison. Thus, the basic principle of the spiritual world regarding personal relationships is transferred into the reflective material world in the form of reproductive law which requires the association of different genders for the reproduction of another conditioned entity into that species.
Although such conditioned living entities may not be aware of it, even reflective nature is under the control of the Supreme Lord. He has designed the material world as a facility which gives a chance to the deluded jivas for a safe trip back to their original position in the spiritual world. For some of these living entities, unlimited lifetimes are required before they realize the futility of this impersonal existence.
Reproduction of Physical Bodies
Generally, the living beings in the material world are very dull. Therefore, Shri Krishna is not willing to directly participate in the activities conducted in the material world. He has made arrangements whereby reproductive law is automatically executed. By this process a living entity can receive new bodies over and over again until the spiritual goal of life is realized, which is only understandable in the human form of life by the mercy of the spiritual master. In this way, Shri Krishna had inspired Lord Brahma to design the bodies of the first male and female individuals. These bodies were just like machines that can reproduce new bodies without interference and we can witness this miracle of reproduction throughout the duration of the material universe. Since the reproductive law is a reflection of the spiritual principle of personalism, the individuals (both male and female) need to engage in a personal relationship in order to reproduce. The missing part in this reflective arrangement is the living entity’s satisfying relationship of the Supreme Lord Shri Krishna.
Although spiritual satisfaction is missing in the relationship between individuals embedded in their material male and female bodies, their union (as sanctioned by the Supreme Lord) is in accordance with the grand plan of this material world. By their union a new body is produced and this act ideally gives a chance for another conditioned soul on the great march towards liberation. Unfortunately in this material world there is nothing but misunderstanding in the relationship between embodied males and females because their physical identities are not genuine. They are imposters of the original Male and Female, Shri Radha and Shri Krishna.
Despite the variegated misunderstandings caused by the bodily conception of life, when an embodied male and female have the desire to deal with each other in a straightforward manner, they may come to a point of understanding. This arrangement is achieved by matching the couple according to Jyotish Shasta. Through harmoniously matching the elements of the horoscope they will have a far greater chance of surviving each others differences. And if they keep Shri Krishna in the center of their lives they can experience a real personal relationship.
A Perverted Reflection
Can homosexuality match the high standard arranged by natural law when it is not conducted in accordance with the grand purpose of Shri Krishna for the material creation? Homosexuality is based on sexual relations that offer no opportunity for giving another living entity a chance to take birth and thereby move towards liberation. Homosexuality is a reflection of an imaginative principle whereby two entities both pretending to be purushas attempt to exploit one another with the aim of intimate enjoyment. Since a same sex arrangement is not directly found in Krishna leela, for this reason homosexuality has no adequate reflection in the material world. It is a perverted reflection of a perverted reflection.
Sometimes we find that Shri Krishna assumes an identity of a girl in the intimate pastimes involving His dearmost consort Srimati Radharani. Sometimes Srimati Radhika becomes angry towards Shri Krishna and She does not want to meet Him. At other times Their meetings are interrupted by elders. Then Shri Krishna dresses as a girl in order to enjoy the company of Srimati Radharani unchecked. The identity of a girl is assumed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead in lila only in cases of emergency. Shri Krishna may play a role–although He may not identify with it–for the sake of rasa or humor. An assumed identity in the pastimes of Shri Krishna only serves to expand the freedom of ecstatic enjoyment between the Divine Couple.
In the reflective reality living entities who desire more freedom in their sexual relations assume the identity of the opposite sex. This is a copycat act mimicking the most intimate prototypic pastimes of Shri Krishna. But there is a vast difference between the Supreme Lord and the conditioned living entities that identify with their assumed identities. As a consequence, each jivas trapped within this material world becomes deeply confused and imbedded within maha maya.
A truly spiritualized person, even in the material world, does not seek to expand unchecked sexual enjoyment. Rather, he seeks to quit all material engagement and entanglement in the soul’s great march back to home back to Godhead. If he finds himself swept into violating the laws of nature impelled by the impressions his previous activities have imprinted upon his psyche, he should understand that acts such as homosexuality are non-different from the fundamental cause of material existence. It has been noted that homosexual perversions finds their roots in the desire of the living entity to enjoy the perverted reflection of spiritual reality. Those who would be tempted should consider what is at stake, whether it is worth eking out an existence any longer here in the material world for the sake of unattainable pleasures.
Illicit Sex Leads to Social Destruction
Unfortunately, issues related to homosexuality are never simple. Nowadays homosexuality is not only practiced between two men, but due to the pressures of media and unnatural urban living women are also turning to prakriti-on-prakriti forms of “pleasure.” A great contradiction is found when two individuals in female bodies try to intimately enjoy each other. This contradiction is especially exaggerated when the two individuals claim to be devotees of Shri Krishna. It is the basest hypocrisy when two living entities who acknowledge that they are both prakriti pretend to enjoy like two purushas regardless of the gender of their bodies.
Homosexuality is proven to be a form of impersonalism even from a material point of view. There are men who do not want to support a woman yet desire to indulge in unchecked sexual activities. Such men sometimes look to other men. For such men, cities like San Francisco have bath houses where homosexuals can meet and—without even bothering to look at each others’ face or speak with one another—they engage in abominable activities never to meet again. Homosexuality is deeply impersonal and is born from the passion of low-grade asuras. This is described in Shrimad Bhagavatam 3.20.29:
“The body given up by Brahma took the form of the evening twilight, when the day and night meet, a time which kindles passion. The asuras, who are passionate by nature, dominated as they are by the element of rajas, took it for a damsel, whose lotus feet resounded with the tinkling of anklets, whose eyes were wide with intoxication and whose hips were covered by fine cloth, over which shone a girdle.”
It is rule that when a man abandons a woman to enjoy with other men, then society is destroyed for all practical purposes. Out of frustration caused by dealing with a society in which homosexuality is condoned—one wherein men become callous—women react by becoming lesbians. In the days before homosexuality was widely accepted, a proper man controlled his sexual urges in a natural way simply by keeping association with his wife. A chaste woman who is satisfied in her relationship has an inclination to have sex only once a month after her menstrual cycle. This desire naturally leads to pregnancy.
Men who refuse to be regulated in this way go astray of their families by indulging in unrestricted sex with prostitutes. Overindulgence in sex causes severe physical weakness and ultimately leads to impotency and homosexuality. Women are always the followers of men and their reaction to the perverted behavior of men is that they also become lesbians. That society today welcomes openly same sex relations is a sure sign that modern civilization is becoming more and more impersonal and mechanized. Real human warmth is far afield. The shallow dealings between people in the pubs and theaters where they gather are seen in their superficial conversation. Nowhere is an inquiry into the Absolute Truth allowed.
Those who claim they have been born as homosexuals or lesbians usually carry some deep hurt from their previous lives. Having been treated impersonally, they now deny identification with their present material identities as some sort of a protective measure. They may even mistake that such an outlook is more spiritual because they live as individuals who function differently from their bodily situation. But the grand illusion is that our assumed identities are connected to sex, and sex is the root cause for material existence. The cure for homosexuality is personalism. When someone joins the Hare Krishna movement he or she does so to ultimately achieve liberation from the material disease of impersonalism.
Curing Sexual Addiction
Of course, sex can also be utilized in devotional service as everything else in this world as explained Shri Krishna in Bhagavad Gita As It Is 7.11:
“I am sex life which is not contrary to religious principles, O Lord of the Bharatas (Arjuna)”.
If someone desires to quit completely the temporary material identity, he must bid farewell to sex attachment. Sex which is aimed at satisfaction of ones senses is the greatest obstacle on the path of devotional service. Using this natural phenomenon of sex impulse in the service of Shri Krishna is the only way to purify this abominable tendency of the conditioned living entity towards deluded so-called enjoyment. If sex cannot be utilized according to Shri Krishna’s instruction then it is best to be given up completely.
A member of ISKCON who maintains a homosexual identity faces greater challenges in his or her devotional life. A homosexual cannot use his sexual urge in the service of Shri Krishna while wishing to maintain a perverse desire for the sense enjoyment. The outcome is frustration. Such homosexuals often will have no clue as to how to solve the dilemma in their lives. Some of them go back into the material whirlpool seeking release through fulfillment of illicit desires only to find themselves even more frustrated. To make matters worse, many devotees are harsh on homosexuals. Insensitivity is not a solution but rather it is a failure in practically applying the all-compassionate process of Krishna consciousness. In other instances some homosexuals have become prominent leaders in this Krishna Conscious society and have brought havoc upon the lives of many straight individuals. Although homosexuality calls for a deeper self-examination than other forms of material disease, the solution is simple and is essentially identical to the treatment that is recommended for anyone else. After all, everyone has fallen under the impersonal disease here in the material world. The solution to all material problems is found in accepting the Back to Godhead treatment. This medicine of Krishna Consciousness is simple and entails chanting 16 malas of the mahamantra daily, and observing four regulative principles (No meat, fish, eggs; no illicit sex; no gambling and no intoxication). Nonetheless, even by material standards, homosexuality is not a normal condition and the cure should be administered with greater care. A homosexual devotee is especially recommended to ardently chant and pray to Shri Krishna for deliverance from the deep ignorance of the bewildering, impersonal reflection of this material world rather than trying to adjust his perverse desires and adapt them to the Society. When a sincere devotee worships the forms of Shri Shri Radha-Krishna his attraction for material relations diminishes and the taste for spiritual personalism increases.
Liberation from Perversions
Frustration with one’s material body should be aimed at quitting it altogether rather than trying to adapt to another bodily conception of life. The material body is just like a blister which demands scratching. This propensity for scratching, satisfying the sexual urge, is seen in all activities of the conditioned living entities because all bodies ultimately have sexual identities. Some frustrated individuals have attempted to surgically remove or alter their sex organs in so-called “sex change operations” and in this way rid themselves of the material disease. Such attempts are useless and doomed to failure because we are surrounded by sex at every turn. This attempt is like trying to cure impersonalism with voidism. The attempt of some devotees to avoid sex confrontation by adopting a different bodily identity for protection is also as futile as mayavada philosophy. The material world is like a great pornographic web site and the sex urge can only be satisfied by pregnancy. Although pregnancy is ultimately very painful, if sex is not used for conceiving children it is better to abandon it.
The right way to indulge in sex life is simple. When women are satisfied once a month men also feel fulfilled. But any sex which does not lead to pregnancy is compared to masturbation. A person who masturbates is never satisfied and eventually his urges for sense indulgence kills him. Nobody can put down a fire by tossing gasoline upon the flames. Homosexuality is compared to masturbation. Contrary to this when two opposite forces unite in sex, a temporary though relatively final satisfaction is experienced. In this way the mind of the conditioned living entity is kept under control. But even so, the satisfaction found in getting pregnant can be compared to a drop of water in contrast of the ocean of satisfaction found in developing our personal relationship with Shri Krishna through Krishna consciousness.
Enjoyment or Emancipation?
Shrila Prabhupada says that the body of a woman is meant for enjoyment and infatuation but the body of a man is meant for liberation. Women may experience great satisfaction in their bodies but in a world wherein material identity becomes obsolete either through the natural life cycle or through voluntary renunciation they find their own challenges. They also have to transform their false identities and they find similar challenges as do homosexual devotees. Internally, devotee women identify with men because they have taken the same path of self realization as their male counterparts. But their external situation is often very different from the way they see themselves. On the outside they are often mistreated under the disguise of protection when in fact nobody wants to deal with them as women anymore because of their decision to forego their material identity.
Immature devotees come to the conclusion that when women are trying to be more spiritual they should not be regarded as women at all. This is another form of impersonalism which seeks to deny the present karmic condition of a devotee. If someone is living in the material world he or she, even if a pure devotee, will need to have a trace of karma in order to stay here. The right way to react to another devotee’s karma is to understand his or her needs with compassion. Educating oneself in the inner workings of material conditioning will definitely help. Devotees should read the books of Srila Prabhupada with a strong desire to understand how we have become confined within this material world and how we may obtain liberation through unending devotional service. In the context of Krishna Conscious philosophy let us now briefly examine the historical devolution that lead to the prominence of homosexuality today.
Industrial Revolution and Sexual Perversions
At the beginning of the industrial revolution people were worried that their families might be destroyed by the machines. For example, the initiators of the first railway between Stockton to Darlington in England were met with much opposition in their attempt to convince land owners of the practicality of trains. Especially farmers who could foresee unwanted train tracks running through their property stood in fierce opposition. They feared the danger trains posed to their animals, the loss of prime low lands, and the damage to their crops by soot and smoke. With traditional wisdom of the times, people considered that if the horses are put out of work, the women will have to seek engagement beyond their homes which would necessarily destroy their family units. Today in retrospect we can see that the common sense assessment of those simple folks was correct. The destruction of families forced men and women to wander in search of jobs unnourished by the association of their loved ones. Unrestricted sex became common and gradually accepted as the norm while those who opposed sexual infidelity were labeled as old-fashioned or outmoded. As a result of this “freedom,” many turned into sexual addicts, eventually becoming impotent. Others fell into homosexuality or other forms of sexual perversion. Today homosexuality is a social trend. Gay people are often married in the churches or city halls like other couples. They adopt children and raise them as their own. Their claim that they domicile together for the sake of paying reduced taxes is a ruse to hide the fact that they have fallen into the schemes of the lord of sin, Kali. In Kali Yuga traditional society is being undermined and gradually destroyed through homosexuality. People are strengthened when they are united by family values, but in Kali Yuga people hardly know any of their relatives beyond their immediate family. Thus they are easily manipulated and weakened by corrupt governments whose interest lies in exploiting every single individual through the help of their mouthpieces in the controlled media.
For devotees, the final authority on the subject regarding homosexuality comes from Shrila Prabhupada:
“That is not enjoyment. Just like sex indulgence. If you indulge in more than necessary, then you will be impotent. Nature will stop. You know impotency? That will be there. Impotency. This homosex is also another sign of impotency. They do not feel sex impulse to woman. They feel sex impulse in man. That means he is impotent. It is impotency.”
Arrival – Chicago, July 3, 1975
“Now this progeny is bother. It is sense enjoyment, homosex. Progeny, they don’t want. They’re not interested. Only sense gratification. This is another sign of impotency. When after enjoying so many women, they become impotent, then they artificially create another sex impulse in homosex. This is the psychology.”
Arrival – Chicago, July 3, 1975
“There is no limit of sense gratification. The sense gratification, homosex, they are supporting. Just see. Just see. At least, in animal society there is no homosex. They have created homosex, and that is being passed by the priest, the religious heads.”
Room Conversation – August 25, 1971, London
“Watchtower, it has criticized…one priest has allowed the marriage between man to man, homosex. So these things are going on. They take it purely for prostitution. That’s all. So therefore people are thinking, ‘What is the use of keeping a regular prostitution at a cost of heavy expenditure? Better not to have this.’”
Talk with Bob Cohen – February 27-29, 1972, Mayapur
“The animals also do not support homosex. They never have sex life between male to male. They are less than animal. People are becoming less than animal. This is all due to godlessness.”
Conversation with the GBC – May 25, 1972, Los Angeles
“Nowadays, of course, they are thinking like that, that man should remain independent, and they’ll have homosex, and the woman also independent and they will make some… This is most immoral…”
Morning Walk – December 10, 1975, Vrndavana
“I am very sorry that you have taken to homosex. It will not help you advance in your attempt for spiritual life. In fact, it will only hamper your advancement. I do not know why you have taken to such abominable activities. What can I say? Anyway, try to render whatever service you can to Krishna. Even though you are in a very degraded condition Krishna, being pleased with your service attitude, can pick you up from your fallen state. You should stop this homosex immediately. It is illicit sex, otherwise, your chances of advancing in spiritual life are nil.”
Letter to: Lalitananda – Hawaii 26 May, 1975