Resources > Sexuality and Hinduism
Sexuality is a natural part of every living entity’s genetic makeup. It plays a vital role in peoples’ lives; in fact for most people, life without it would not be enjoyable. Hinduism recognises this inevitable requirement of the human body.
References are found in the Hindu scriptures in connection with human sexuality, but above all, this aspect of human life has been elaborately covered by prescribing a balanced approach between four ‘pursharthas’ (goals of human life) i.e. ‘dharma’ (religiosity), ‘artha‘ (economic development), ‘kama’ (sense gratification), and ‘moksha’ (liberation).
‘The Kama Sutra’ would feature at the top of these references for most. Certain sections of this book talks of just not of heterosexuality but also of homosexuality in graphical detail. However, many Hindus do not recognise the Kama Sutra to a part of the vast collection of sacred books called the Vedas. Kama Sutra may be the oldest book on the topic but it is just regarded as a sex manual and has nothing to do with spirituality.
Tantric sexual practises may also be referred to by many in this discussion. But this type of sexual practices are also not recognised by most Hindus to be bonafide since they do not lead one towards spiritualism, but rather towards materialism.
One may raise a point about erotic iconography on the outside of various temples in India such as Khajurao and Konark. There are many explanations for this. One such explanation points out that to filter out people with unscrupulous consciousness i.e. those captured by the allurement of sense pleasure (mode of ignorance) so they would not enter the temple (the spiritual world) but rather stay out (the material realm) being attracted to the imagery.
Many teachers have also proclaimed emancipation from the material world by the practice of unrestricted sex. They may have made or continue to make many direct or indirect references to the Vedas to support their ideas, but this type of philosophy, according to most practitioners, also does not find any basis in Hinduism.
One of many indubitable sources of reference on sexuality is the Bhagavad-Gita where Lord Krishna tells Arjuna ‘ … I am sex life which is not contrary to religious principles’ (7.11). Before we try to understand what are the religious principles Lord Krishna is referring to we have to understand the goal of one who is on the spiritual path in Hinduism.
Contrary to popular perception, Hinduism is a monotheistic religion believing in one Absolute Truth who is known by various names, depending on His activities, such as Krishna, Rama, Brahman, Hari, Vishnu, etc. The aspiration of a practising Hindu is to achieve liberation from the bondage of the material world, which is temporary and full of miseries of birth, death, old age and death, and to attain Love of God (Bhagavat Prema).
To achieve this aim, Hinduism prescribes many processes by which an individual can achieve that spiritual goal. All the processes start when the aspirant begins to revive certain qualities, which are inherent in all of us, namely mercy, truthfulness, austerity and cleanliness. To cultivate these qualities, certain rules and regulations are followed i.e. to cultivate the quality of mercy one abstains from eating meat, to cultivate the quality of truthfulness one abstains from gambling, to cultivate the quality of austerity one abstains from intoxication; and although total abstinence from sex is recommended for the cultivation of the quality of cleanliness, if one unable to follow this then one is advised to abstain from illicit sexual activity.
So when Lord Krishna talks about ‘sex life not being contrary to religious principles’ it is understood that sex is only meant for procreation, otherwise this act becomes illicit and is therefore against religious principles.
It is important to note that Hinduism does not exclude anyone, from practising ‘religiousness’ and believing in God because of their sexual orientation, since it believes that ultimately one has to take the spiritual journey individually. In other words, everyone is responsible for his or her own actions and will thus face respective reactions positive or negative. But to advance in the spiritual process and to achieve the desired goal one has to adhere to prescribed scriptural regulations, otherwise progress is virtually impossible.
In conclusion, Hinduism views homosexuality as incompatible with spiritual advancement and heterosexuality is restricted to procreation.
Neither heterosexuality nor homosexuality are “natural.” Heterosexual desire is a perverted reflection of our original love for Krishna and homosexuality is another twist. Srila Prabhupäda: “The homosexual appetite of a man for another man is demoniac and is not for any sane man in the ordinary course of life.” (Srimad Bhagavatam purport 3.20.26)
Due to the influence of Kali-yuga, homosexuality is now a common problem. As Kali-yuga advances we will have to accommodate more and more people with past perverse lives and give them the opportunity for purification. If homosexuals sincerely come to Krishnaa consciousness, what advice should we give them?
In the Vedic culture, heterosexual desires can be accommodated within the grihastha-äshrama, but there is no scope for accommodating homosexual desires. Srila Prabhupäda recommended marriage (to a woman!) for a disciple with homosexual desires. This advice may not seem very practical, for the homosexual’s attraction is to men rather than women. But homosexual or heterosexual, the disease is lust. Homosexuality means that the lust has increased to an abnormally high degree. Marriage means to channel that lust in a manner acceptable within the Vedic culture.
Anyway, homosexuals coming to Krishna consciousness will need special guidance from senior devotees. The homosexual must be understood as an individual person and be given proper facility after frank discussion. He should understand his condition to be especially fallen, but should be confident that by Krishna consciousness, all difficulties can be overcome. And other devotees should be sympathetic and understanding with such sincere souls.
As with any conditioned soul accepted for devotional service, sheltering homosexuals in the äshrama is a risk. As with a heterosexual, we shall first have to see if a homosexual is sufficiently self-controlled before he or she may be allowed to stay in the äshrama, remembering that, whereas heterosexual brahmacäris are sheltered from the objects of their attraction in the brahmacäri-äshrama, the homosexual is surrounded by them. We must be compassionate, but we cannot sacrifice our standards of purity.
courtesy of http://www.vedabase.com
You're Looking for an Easy Fix
From Joshua Hawley
Posted Dec. 21, 2004
It's not really a solution to give all people who say they are gay some formal recognized status. We're not getting at the core of the issue by giving someone a status. Rather, it seems we are justifying that behavior.
According to all scriptural evidence, homosexuality is condemned as being a sinful activity. There is no argument to defy that point. If you are really serious about giving gays a solution in spiritual life, then why not take a look at the factors that lead to homosexuality? There are numerous studies being conducted into just that very matter.
Instead of giving someone a title or recognition for what we genuinely know to be against the principles of sastra, why not look for the cause of this type of behavior? More and more evidence is showing that homosexuality is not something that is a genealogical defect. Rather, it is something that develops in early childhood.
How about doing some preventative measures, instead of looking for an easy fix? Yeah, everyone wants to be Krishna conscious, so everyone should have that opportunity. But please remember that giving people a recognized formal status of being "gay" would mean that you would have to facilitate them in every way that you would any other recognized social group.
In effect you would have to, by your endorsement, give them asrama facilities independent of other asramas and any other requirement they may need. While that is not an entirely objectionable idea, I personally feel that it would have to be done as a sort of rehabilitative process.
There are a good many Christian scholars dealing with this very point,
and they have come up with some remarkable insights. They are offering
many social and welfare programs, and Dr. Dobson has devoted a good amount
of time and effort in researching this exact point: that homosexuality
is not something one is born with but rather a result of defects in the
parenting and other social factors current in modern times that allow for
someone to entertain the idea of homosexuality.
Thanks and appreciation from dipika.org to our sponsor and host,
I have heard from many gays that the only reason they are gay is that the sex is so much better. So in this modern age, where everything is driven by how you feel and not on principle and integrity, that would lead many to believe that homosexuality is a right and natural function of humanity. It's a fault of the modern education and media and ultimately ourselves for not alleviating the causes that lead to these various social abnormalities such as homosexuality.
My point is that you're not really offering a solution to this issue. Rather, it's like a little piece of adhesive tape over the wound. The best medicine is prevention, and if we are really serious about tackling this issue, then it would require a much deeper and much more serious look.
Finally, I would invite Hridayananda Maharaja to offer some scriptural or scientific evidence support each of his points.
© dipika.org Dec. 21, 2004
Future hope in hands of Iskcon:
There is a lot of evidence round the world to suggest that at one time
Vedic culture was prevalent throughout the world. In course of time, however,
it broke down and gave rise to many unhealthy practices. People seemed
to forget the main point of the Vedic culture that one should submit to
the will of the Supreme Being. Their faith was reduced to endless, empty
rituals and blatant propitiation of various gods and Goddesses for all
sorts of mundane favours. Hereditary caste system came into being and smothered
the urge to improve spiritually. So, in response to all this, many new
religions came into being. As the Lord tells us in the Bhagavad Gita,"
Whenever and wherever there is a decline in religious practice, O descendant
of Bharata, and a predominant rise of irreligion -- at that time I descend
So, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism -- all these religions appeared in reaction to the unhealthy state of the correct spiritual culture. Christianity, Islam and Sikhism -- all are fiercely monotheistic because, when they appeared, polytheism was rampant. Also, all these are strongly against the hereditary caste system. Buddhism and Jainism put a lot of emphasis on 'ahimsa' or non-violence because when they appeared, animal sacrifice was very much the order of the day. These two religions also put a lot of emphasis on righteous thought and action because at that time people were indulging in many undesirable activities, in the hope that they would escape any painful consequences by propitiating their gods and Goddesses.
Fortunately for all of us, Srila Prabhupad has now resurrected the Vedic system in its purest form. It is pure, it is practical and it is concerned with the spirit of things and not with mere labels. It has every thing that a truly universal spiritual culture needs to have. It is rooted in authentic scriptures and it completely ignores one's place of birth, colour of skin or any other physical peculiarities. It puts equal emphasis on one's own efforts and on the Lord's grace. It also draws on the teachings and personal examples of generations of past spiritual masters. Last, but not least, it has no political aspirations. So, it is bound to sweep over Christianity, Islam and other religious systems which came into being to fill in the spiritual vacuum. Christianity seemed to have lost its original spritual message. It has become more or less a superficial Sunday morning ritual. Its highest reach seems to be material welfare work. And Islam with its fanaticism and violence seems to have something very disturbing at its very core. Lord Buddha was the very embodiment of non-violence but Buddhists of to-day very rarely follow his example. Mankind seems to be crying for spiritual guidance. Fortunately we have something worthwhile in our hands now. The future is full of hope but also many challenges. It is fervently hoped that we would rise up to them.
Sent in by Mr GL Mehta, former President of the South Taranaki (NZ) Indian Association, New Zealand.