Vanity thought #875. Varnashrama and homosexuality

I’m not going to replicate tons of research done by our GALVA community nor do I wish to argue with their interpretations. The site has been up for many years but I’ve never got around to reading it. I don’t know why exactly but something tells me it will be a waste of time. Maybe one day I’ll check into it again but for now I think their whole approach is of no interest to me.

They assume that by researching Vedic attitudes towards homosexuality they can propose “Vedic” solution to our current dilemmas, both inside ISKCON and outside it. I don’t think this is going to work.

Why? Because even mainstream prescriptions regarding marriage do not work in Kali yuga. Even devotees fail to implement most basic rules regarding sex life, for example, or any other aspect of grihastha life for that matter. We don’t walk out into the street and call anyone interested to come in for dinner nor do we donate fifty percent of our income to the brahmanas. There are many reasons for that and, perhaps, we all need just one giant push and a working example but until that happens we have the right to be skeptical about living our lives in a purely Vedic way.

If it doesn’t work for us, it won’t work for gays either.

Besides, there might be plenty of examples of third sex individuals in Vedic literature, as they call themselves on Galva, we don’t have any in the books relevant to us – Srimad Bhagavatam and Chaitanya Charitamrita. These are the books by which we, aspiring Gaudiya Vaishnavas, guide our lives, not by Mahabharata or other Puranas. Whatever is acceptable for us has already been collected from those Puranas by our acharyas – in Sat Sandarbhas by Srila Jiva Goswami and in Hari Bhakti Vilasa by Srila Sanatana Goswami. If they didn’t include any information about homosexuality it might as well not exist.

It doesn’t matter what Kama Sutra says about gays, we don’t live by kama sutras.

Just yesterday I’ve read this quote on

..the Lord is not like a shopkeeper trying to please all sorts of customers..

It doesn’t really matter if Srila Prabhupada was talking about mayavadis and not gays – we don’t get to invent our own ways of worshiping Krishna, our sadhana bhakti is very strictly defined and we don’t get freedom of service until we reach liberated stage.

Point is that even if gays can theoretically engage in this or that service, the question is not in what they can but in what Krishna wants, as expressed by our acharyas, and there are no provisions for gay devotees there.

I quickly browsed though one Galva article and ran into this sentence:

Many Hindus suggest that marriage is intended only for procreation and rearing children, but is this really true?

What do we care what Hindus think and who they marry? Path to Krishna requires either total celibacy or sex only for procreation, there are no other opinions on this even if one manages to find a gay friendly guru somewhere. You can read through all of Srila Prabhupada’s books and there will be no provisions for gays in Krishna consciousness and one would be foolish to think that alternative ways of reaching Krishna exist elsewhere. Krishna is not a shopkeeper, as Prabhupada said.

Now, if we don’t have any special provisions for gays and if old Vedic solutions won’t work in Kali yuga, what should we do?

With devotees it’s pretty clear – get on with the program and leave your sexuality out of it.

With non-devotees, however, it’s far more complicated.

We want to establish varnashrama, okay, but what kind and for whom? If it’s for ISKCON then Srila Prabhupada wanted us to have self-sufficient farms and our own gurukulas, clearly suggesting that varnashrama and modern society do not mix. If it’s for our greater congregation then we might have to make some concessions and relax some rules. If it’s for the rest of the world then we better be prepared to kiss goodbye to all our good habits. Why?

Varnashrama means making everyone follow some sort of dharma with the idea of gradual spiritual elevation. Following varnashrama pleases Vishnu, as Ramananda Raya gave a text book answer to Lord Chaitanya’s inquiries into the meaning of life. This answer didn’t satisfy Mahaprabhu and we never forget to mention that but we should also remember that most people in this world are not on Lord Chaitanya’s level and they do not share His devotion to Krishna. Even pleasing Vishnu would puzzle them: “Why, what for? I just come here to have some fun with my own senses.”

If we deal with outside world we should greatly reduce our expectations. We can tell them chant and be happy but it won’t be long before they knock on our doors and say “I also want to drink and be happy? And I’m also too partial to bacon? Can I have some?”

When we read life stories of devotees from Srimad Bhagavatam we don’t see any examples of them dealing with requests like that. They simply weren’t very concerned with organizing the society, even though we do get “And he ruled the kingdom according to the laws of dharma happily ever after” quite often.

If we, like those Galva devotees, look into the details of how those kingdoms have operated we’d notice that there were drunkards, meat eaters, prostitutes etc living there, too. Srila Vyasadeva himself is a son of a fisherman’s daughter, after all. I seriously doubt she grew up on vegetarian diet.

We can say that in Vedic times all those deviations were regulated, like meat could be consumed only after performing a sacrifice (what about fish then?) and that liquor can be purified by offering it to Kali but that was then, we can’t seriously expect billions and billions of Christians, Muslims or Chinese to go into Kali worship or revive Vedic sacrifices. We’ve got to give them some other rules to follow.

Saying grace before meal or having a tradition of Thanksgiving serve the purpose rather well. It’s not a brahmanic way and it’s not acceptable for devotees but it still invokes the best in people and so it IS elevating, however little.

Coming back to homosexuality – I don’t think we have a better choice than organizing gay marriages. Gay culture started off with plain cruising, according to this book at least, and having them settle down in monogamous relationships would surely be a better option. I don’t think this needs any more explanation, really.

Modern times require modern rules.

Having said that – I don’t think we should concern ourselves very much about implementing that kind of varnashrama. We don’t have the adhikar to introduce any new rules nor should we make it our business. When to drink, what to smoke, how much, what prayers to say before drinking or smokinge etc etc. We are here to preach the glory of the Holy Name, gradual elevation of society is beyond our purvey.

Let them chant and when they die let Krishna sort out their sins. If He needs our help He’ll send someone to tell us what to do about it.

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