Tag Archives: homosexuality

Q&A with Srila Hridayananda das Goswami on Homosexuality and Spiritual Practice

Comments by Srila Hridayananda das Goswami when asked to review the article “A Hindu Response to Gay Rights” (Huffington Post):

 

A) The notion of a ‘trtiya prakrti’, or ‘third gender’ tends to distort the Shastra view. The Shastras do not explicitly speak of a 3rd gender/prakrti. The term is not traditional.

B) Interestingly, the Manu-samhita states that homosexuality is not a big sin. The text is overwhelmingly concerned with varna-sankara, varna-mixing that produces mixed progeny. Since gays don’t reproduce, there is not much concern with them.

C) I understand the militant gay response to oppression. At the same time, there is something unfortunate about identifying oneself by sexual orientation. Bodily-identification, with any orientation, is illusory,  and further identifying oneself not merely with the body, but with the body’s sexuality, is clearly not ‘the way.’

D) The abused become the abusers. I know of several cases, among my acquaintances, where gays discriminated against straight people. One case occurred with my disciple who is a straight, modern dancer. He was fired from his job, despite his qualifications, because the other dancers found out he was straight.

Conclusion: I believe we should support spirituality, and support gays within that framework.

With best wishes,

Hridayananda das Goswami

Click here to see an earlier essay on a similar theme.

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Hridayananda Maharaja’s Views on Gay Marriage

There is quite a bit of confusion going on about Srila Hridayananda Das Goswami’s views on gay marriages. The ultra-conservatives are quite agitated and the pro-gay are celebrating. They are both off the mark, though.

In fact, his profoundly philosophical  views are quite middle of the road. Here is a quote:

“ISKCON should recognize and encourage monogamy among all its members of whatever orientation, and such recognition and encouragement should take appropriate forms that achieve both purposes: the maintenance of varnasrama and the encouraging of spiritual sincerity.”

On the other hand, he recently wrote this to a godbrother of his, who was suggesting he fully support gay marriage:

You mention “It [homosexuality] is not criminal, nor is it a pathology…”

One definition of ‘pathology’ is ‘mental, social, or linguistic abnormality or malfunction.’ I believe there is a sense in which same sex union is ‘abnormal’, though we should not mean condemn or persecute one born with that abnormality. Radha Krishna are the eternal model, and there is a sense in which the union of male with female, even in this bizarre world, is ‘natural.’

I do not oppose or deny the science on homosexuality, I simply make a distinction between what is natural for the individual and for society.

Srila Hridayananda Maharaja fully declares he does NOT favor gay marriage (for the reasons stated above), yet he is also not willing to ignore the fact that, whether we like it or not, there are gays in the world and they need to be treated with civility, be encouraged to be chaste and monogamous and be given every opportunity to advance in Krishna consciousness.

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Homosexuality Raises Ethical and Practical Questions – Part II

In Part I I discussed some ethical and practical issues concerning the subject of homosexuality, which I believe ISKCON, sooner rather than later, must deal with so that our Society can have clear, rational, moral guidelines. Here I’d like to add another, purely practical issue.

If we conclude, with the help of empirical science, that homosexuality is a result of the way one is born, and not merely a matter of whimsically deciding to be sexually attracted to people of the same sex, then how should we deal with homosexual sannyasis?

All the current, traditional rules governing proper sannyasa behavior in regards to him never being alone with a woman, never being served too closely by women, etc. render the very opposite result if the sannyasi is naturally NOT attracted to women but to men instead.

In such a case, imagine the situation of that sincere soul – to find himself alone only with the objects of his sexual desires, subdued though they may be. This is, of course, rendered more troublesome if we take into consideration all the personal service a sannyasi may naturally receive from brahmacaris or, if he is a guru, his young brahmacari disciples.

Imagine a heterosexual sannyasi being massaged, in his little gamsha, by young brahmacarini disciples! Scandalous! And what hope would that sannyasi have of keeping his lifelong vow? Yet, that is the exact equivalent of what a homosexual sannyasi may go through with his male servants.

And yet, imagine how even more scandalous it would be if a sannyasi not only openly declared to being gay, but chose to have female personal servants so as to not be sexually tempted.

How is ISKCON to deal with all this?

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Homosexuality Raises Ethical and Practical Questions – Part I

During my touring of Brazil I came across the following administrative situation: an initiated devotee who had graduated from our 9 month Bhakti-shastri Seminary had been giving classes at the temple, and also teaching a bhakti-shastri course to the other devotees. She had been doing that for some time, to the satisfaction of the leaders and congregation. Then she decided to move in with her girlfriend and they signed some paperwork between themselves, making it as close to a legal marriage as they could. The other girl also became a devotee by her influence.

So, a female-female devotee couple was formed. Because she did not hide the situation, the local leaders became disturbed.  They then banned her from giving further classes and canceled her bhakti-shastri course to the local congregation.

(At the same time, in this same congregation, a male initiated devotee is living with a bhaktin, and they are not married. He not only teaches the bhakti-shastri course, but also cooks for the congregation.)

The general question I raised when discussing the issue with the local leaders, and for which they could not give me a satisfactory reply, is whether it is fair to ban someone from doing some kind of service on the basis of how they were born. That, it seems to me, would be grossly unfair and exactly like saying that, for example, blacks cannot be pujaris, or women cannot distribute books, etc.

So, IF it is the case (and I’m not saying it is or not, but that science can probably show this) that certain people are born homosexual AND not born with the inclination for lifelong celibacy, THEN is it fair to ban them from certain kinds of service to Prabhupada and Krishna when they naturally settle into a relationship?

The leadership argued that the homosexual devotees were breaking the illicit sex rule. I said, “how do you know?” I argued that any heterosexual couple could also be breaking the principle. But, just as we do not ask a married devotee what he and his wife have done in bed before allowing him to sit on the Vyasasana, we also cannot ask that of a homosexual couple. In other words, I cannot see how we can be any more sure that a homosexual couple is breaking the principle of illicit sex than a heterosexual couple. How about married heterosexual couples who can´t have children for medical reasons? Should we ban them from giving class too?

It seems to me that IF it is the case that homosexuals are BORN homosexuals (and as far as I am aware, science strongly supports this claim), then ISKCON must deal with this ethical issue urgently, lest we be guilty of the grossest kind of prejudice – that based on the way a person is born, regardless of his possessing all other qualifications.

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