By Yugala Kishor Dasa (Gainesville, Florida)
We were aghast after briefly reading the article titled, “India’s Slow Descent into Homophobia.” The term “Gay Vaishnava” is the epitome of an oxymoron. It is strikingly 108% oxymoronic. The Shastras sanctions the union of husband and wife in religious marriage, and even accommodates them into an ashrama; the grhastha asrama, for the sole purpose of spiritual advancement, so that they don’t live like cats and dogs. Why is this so? Perhaps, it has to do with the universal fact that – unlike homosexuality – the religious union of husband and wife has the natural purpose of procreation. This faculty of procreation is a divinely appointed function; since it is devised by the devatas, specifically Lord Brahma. No where in the Scriptures we see that there exists such a similar arrangement to accommodate homosexuality.
The fairly recent pomp about homosexuality—by the media—is an attempt by unscrupulous people, stemmed from certain academic circles, to misdirect the general public. Secular society (what we would call in ISKCON, the mleccha society) is increasingly plagued with the maladies such as the degradation of the individual, the breakdown of the family (kula kshaya), the corruption of social institutions, including the media and intelligentsia, the departure from basic moral or ethical values; in summary, the decay of society in general (kula dharma). Thus, the glorification in recent years of homosexuality in the media—websites, newspapers, TV, etc.—is a byproduct of the humanistic agenda which assiduously disregards basic religious principles, let alone Vaishnava or even Vedic ethics.
Some may argue that we in ISKCON have to catch up with the times, and since there is a increasing attention of the media on homosexuality, we need to do the same. But many of us do vehemently disagree. We mainly do not agree because spiritual values—as outlined in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings, his writings and his exemplary behavior—are not part of an antediluvian civilization. Vedic civilization and the principles it conveys, may be old, when viewed from the standpoint of linear-historical time; however, they are transcendental, and, hence entirely opposite; they are fully applicable at any time and in any place. Their salient relevance is guaranteed by the Supreme Personality of Godhead. The fact that certain sectors of contemporary secular society may focus their attention on the cheap glorification of homosexuality does not mean that the rest of society goes along with it; and this is also true for ISKCON society.
In a sense, homosexuality—along with divorce, getting involved with other men’s wives, defilement of women—is a form of illicit sex, although more blatant and vulgar than the other ones. The fact that these forms of illicit sex may now be practiced within ISKCON, by some weak and insincere individuals, does not mean that the whole body of Vaishnavas condone them.
By giving editorial space, in “Vaishnava-friendly” media, to such bagatelle as homosexuality, we are copycatting what the secular media is doing. Emulating the mleccha society is obviously not Srila Prabhupada’s mission. Tout au contraire, we are supposed to bring about a revolution in their impious lives. To accomplish this revolution, our character and integrity as individuals, the moral standing of our institutions and organizations, ought to shine forth the principles of Vaishnava ethics, morality, philosophy and theology.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada, So, in every sense, we are not homophobes; we are serious about defending Srila Prabhupada’s mission and his institution. The doors of Prabhupada’s mission are not closed to Amara dasa or any homosexuals in general. We are all welcome. But once we are in, we are expected to honor the commitments and vows as requested by the parampara, via Srila Prabhupada. We are to take the stand of perfect gentlemen. Giving up all forms of illicit sex is not only compulsory to be part of Srila Prabhupada’s mission, but to advance in spiritual realization, it is mandatory.
In the final analysis, the fruitless attempt to relate homosexuality with Vaishnava theology is an attempt to taint Vaishnavism, in general, and Srila Prabhupada’s movement, in particular. It is a direct offense to Srila Prabhupada, to the parampara, and to the legacy that they have handed down to us.