Thursday, 29 October 2009

What Does Hinduism Say About Homosexuality?

Q. We met a new girl/boy in the hare krsna temple. Her/his name is Yasodhini.You might wonder why it is girl/boy. Because she is girl but trying to be born. She say that our Shastra or Vedas did not mentioned anything against about Homosexuality. Is that true?

A. Homosexuality and Scriptures

I was quite beside myself with mirth reading your mixture of the "she/he" pronouns. More than that mix-up, what upended me to a serious degree was the cove's egregious notion. Before I address the issue of whether 'homosexuality' is or is not in the scriptures, you would have to permit me to say a few words on the bloke's "not-in-the-scriptures-hence-it-is-fine-to-do-it" mentality.

No U-turn Sign Syndrome

There are, you would agree I am sure, a lot of things which are not mentioned in the scriptures. Yet we do not do them. Where in our scriptures or in any world religions' scriptures is it mentioned that we should not consume fecaes? Yet, we do not, right? No where in the tomes of scriptures is there a mention that we should blink once every 3 to 4 seconds, i.e., blink 1,200 in one hour, 14,400 in 12 hours and 28,800 in one day (if we do night shift, well of course without sleeping). Yet, we blink. No where does it say that it is wrong to pick our noses in public, yet, the Whites do not; and nowhere does it say that we should greet someone (albeit when we are meeting him for the first time in our life), even so, the Caucasian say 'hello' to strangers at the cashier counter in New South Wales.

There are things which are obvious, hence, we require no sanctions, and there are yet others which are not too apparent to the disoriented jivas swathed in mitya, that is when the scriptures come howling to us. That is why Sri Krsna has said in Mahabarath [8.49.48-49]

"It is difficult to grasp the highest understanding [of morality]. One ascertains it by reasoning. Now there are many people who simply claim 'morality is scripture.' Though I don't oppose that view, scriptures do not give rules for every case."

What Do the Scriptures Say?

Let me now address whether our shastras or scriptures have any strictures against homosexuality (
tritiya-prakriti). The Rigveda says "Vikruti Evam Prakriti" (diversity is what nature is all about) but it stops short just there. Srimad Bhagavatam has also made references to homosexuals [Canto 3.20.23-37]. Homosexuality is said to have existed since the dawn of creation. But the Bhagavatam does not explicitly describe nor proscribe it.

In Manusmriti, however, engaging in homosexuality (of all varieties) is put down as a sin: Chap 8:369-370 prescribe the punishment for lesbian conduct; ibid (Chap 11:68 & 175) probcribe male homosexuality. Narada Smriti condemns "irsyaka, sevyaka, vataretas and mukhebhaga" (homosexual men) [Your friend's case is within the 20 odd types that the scripture has made reference to].

The above do not, therefore, mean that our shastras are tolerant of heterosexual excesses. Opposite-sex sexual relationships should take place only within marriage; and that too should take place only for the purpose of producing progeny. It is not for satiating the couples' concupiscence. In this regard, whether it is homosexuality, hetersexuality, bestiality, pedophiliaty, or whatever that borders on pleasures that anchors the jivas to the world, it is proscribed.

Remind your friend, we must keep in mind the ultimate moral principle, found in the Padma Purana and quoted in the Sri Caitanya Caritamrta 2.22.113: "Vishnu is always to be remembered and never to be forgotten. All injunctions and prohibitions can only be servants of these two."

The following will also be a good read in this respect:

The world is all sexy

Passion reigns supreme in all parts of the world. The minds of people are filled with sexual thoughts. The world is all sexy. The whole world is under a tremendous sexual intoxication. All are deluded and move in the world with perverted intellects. No thought of God. No talk of God. It is all fashion, restaurants, hotels, dinners, dances, races and cinema. Their life ends in eating, drinking and procreating. That is all.

Passion has introduced new fashions not only in London, Paris and Lahore, but even in Madras amongst the Brahmin girls of orthodox families who apply Cherry Blossom Powder and Hazeline Snow to their faces, instead of the sacred turmeric powder, and dress their hair like the French girls. This sort of vile imitation has crept into the mind of our boys and girls in India. The sacred percepts and teachings of our ancient sages and Rishis have been totally ignored. What a lamentable state! They will accept anything as true only if a Johnson or a Russel brings something by way of the theory of evolution, motion, atom, relativity or transcendentalism. Shameful indeed! Their brains are all clogged with foreign particles. They do not have the brain to absorb anything good in others. There is a miserable degeneration in the present young men and women in India. This is the age when they cannot walk even a short distance without a Rickshaw, a car, a tram, a bicycle or a carriage. What an awful artificial life! Bobbing of the hair amongst the ladies in India has become a severe epidemic and has invaded the whole of India. This is all due to the mischief of passion and greed.

Young men of the present day indiscriminately imitate the West and this results in their own ruin. Men are swayed by lust. They lose their sense of righteousness, and of time and place. They never discriminate between right and wrong. They lose all sense of shame.

Read the history of the crimes—robbery, rapes, kidnapping, assaults, murders—that come up for trial before the Sessions Courts. Lust is at the root of all this. It may be lust for money or lust for carnal pleasure. Lust ruins life, lustre, strength, vitality, memory, wealth, fame, holiness, peace, wisdom and devotion.

Man, with his boasted intellect, has to learn lessons from birds and animals. Even animals have more self-control than men. It is only the so-called man who has degraded himself much by indulgence. At the heat of sexual excitement, he repeats the same ignoble act again and again. He has not a bit of self-control. He is an absolute slave to passion. He is a puppet in the hands of passion. Like rabbits he procreates and brings forth countless children to swell up the numbers of beggars in the world. Lions, elephants, bulls and other powerful animals have better self-control than men. Lions cohabit only once in a year. After conception, the female animals will never allow the male animals to approach them till the young ones are weaned and they themselves become healthy and strong. Man only violates the laws of nature and consequently suffers from innumerable diseases. He has degenerated to a level far lower than that of animals in this respect.

As a king is no king without a treasury, subjects and an army, as a flower is no flower without fragrance, as a river is no river without water, so also, a man is no man without Brahmacharya. Ahara, Nidra, Bhaya and Maithuna—food, sleep, fear and copulation—are common to both animals and men. That which differentiates a man from an animal is Dharma, Viveka and Vichara Sakti. Jnana and Vichara can be secured only by the preservation of Veerya. If a man has not got these qualifications, he should really be reckoned as a veritable animal only.

If lust, which is the source of all enjoyments in this world, ceases, then all worldly bondage, which has 
its substratum in the mind, will cease. Even the most virulent poison is no poison when compared to lust. The former defiles one body only, whereas the latter adulterates many bodies in successive births. You are a slave of passions and desires, emotions and attractions. When are you going to rise up from this miserable state? Those persons, who, in spite of the knowledge of the non-existence of happiness, both in the past and in the present, in the baneful objects of the world, do yet entangle themselves in them with their thoughts clinging to them, deserve the appellation of an ass, if not a worse one. If you do not possess Viveka, if you do not try your best for salvation, if you spend your lifetime in eating, drinking and sleeping, you are a horizontal being only, having to learn some lessons from those animals, which possess far more self-restraint.

The sexual degradation that has overtaken mankind today is due directly to the fact that people have assumed that there is a natural "sexual instinct" in human beings. It is not so. The natural instinct is the procreative one. If men and women restrict sexual indulgence to mere procreation, then that itself is observance of Brahmacharya. As this is found to be impossible in the vast majority of cases, total abstinence is enjoined on those who seek the higher values of life. As far as the Sadhaka of burning Mumukshutva is concerned, celibacy is a sine qua non, as he cannot afford to waste his vital energy at all.

The gratification of every worldly desire is sinful; the flesh should be the abject slave of the spirit intent upon divine things. Man was created for a life of spiritual communion with God, but he yielded to the seduction of evil demons who availed themselves of the sensuous side of his nature to draw him away from the contemplation of the divine and lead him to the earthly life. Moral goodness, therefore, consists in renouncing all sensuous pleasures, in separating from the world through discrimination and dispassion, in living solely after the spirit, in imitating the perfection and purity of God. Sensuality is inconsistent with wisdom and holiness. The great business of life is to avoid impurity.

Spiritual Sadhana is the answer to sex attraction

Real culture is the establishment of perfect physical and mental Brahmacharya. Real culture is the realization of the identity of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul through direct experience. For a passionate worldly-minded man, the terms Self-realization, God, Self, Vairagya, renunciation, death and burial ground are very revolting and terrifying, because he is attached to objects. The terms singing, dancing, talks about women and so on are very pleasing.

The attraction for objects will gradually vanish if one begins to think seriously of the unreal nature of the world. People are burnt by the fire of lust. All measures that are calculated to eradicate this dire disease should be initiated and put through. All people should be made fully conversant with the different methods that will help them to root out the dire enemy lust. If they fail in one method, they can take recourse to another. Lust is a brutal instinct in unregenerated men. One should be ashamed to repeat again and again the sensual acts when one is fully aware that the goal of life is Self-realization through the attainment of purity and the practice of constant meditation. An objector may say that these topics should not be dealt with openly, but should rather be talked about secretly. This is wrong. What is the use of hiding things? Hiding a thing is a sin.

In these days of modern culture and new civilization, in this era of scientific advancement, these lines may not be relished by some people. They may remark that some of the terms are jarring, revolting, offending and indecent and will not suit the people of refined tastes. They are entirely mistaken. These lines will produce a very deep impression in the minds of thirsting aspirants who are longing for liberation. Their minds will be entirely changed. There is no real spiritual culture amongst the people of modern society. Etiquette is mere show. Everywhere you can see much show, hypocrisy, pretended politeness, meaningless formalities and conventions. Nothing emanates from the core of the heart. People lack sincerity and integrity. The utterances of the Mahavakyas of the sages and the valuable teachings of the scriptures will not produce any impression in the minds of passionate, worldly-minded persons. They will be like seeds thrown in rocky soil. They will be like pearls thrown before swine.
If one clearly understands the serious damage that comes through an impure life and determines to attain the goal of life by leading a pure life, he must keep his mind busily engaged in divine thoughts, concentration, meditation, study and service of humanity.

Lack of spiritual Sadhana is the main cause for all sexual attractions. Mere theoretical abstention from sensuality will not bring you good results. You must mercilessly cut off all formalities in social life and lead a pious life freed from the business of bodily existence. Leniency to internal lower tendencies will land you in the region of suffering. Excuse will be of no use in this respect. You must be sincere in your quest for the sublime life of spirituality. Half-heartedness will leave you in your old state of misery.

Wake up, friends, from this mire of illusory Samsara now. Passion has wrought great havoc in you as you are drowned in Avidya. How many millions of fathers, mothers, wives and sons you have had in previous births! This body is full of impurities. What a shame it is to embrace this filthy body! It is mere foolishness only. Give up Moha for this body. Also, give up identification with this body by meditating upon the glory of the Suddha Atman. Give up worship of the body. Worshippers of the body are Asuras and Rakshasas.

Hrdayananda das Goswami (February 9, 2005), "It is a basic principle of Krishna consciousness that this material world is a perverted reflection of the eternal spiritual world. Our temporary bodies are shadows or reflections of our eternal, spiritual bodies. And Krishna Himself is the Supreme Person with a supreme eternal body. Sacred texts like Srimad-bhagavatam and Bhagavad-gita reveal in detail the nature, behavior and activities of the Supreme Lord Krishna, and so we possess an absolute objective standard against which we can measure our own behavior. This is especially true because we not only have information of Krishna's activities in the spiritual world, but we also know of His activities in this material world where He descends as an avatara to demonstrate dharma, proper behavior, by His own life on earth, and through the lives of His pure devotees who assist Him.

Thus we can say that the absolute, objective and eternal standard for conjugal relationship is that such a relationship should develop between a male and a female who possess, respectively, male and female qualities both in body and mind. Further such conjugal relationships must be dedicated to transcendental devotional service and must ultimately aim at pure spiritual love, free of material lust.

In this world we find some degree of impurity in almost every conjugal relationship. Still the appropriate pairing of male and female, in body and mind, even in this imperfect world is, in one sense, a closer reflection of the eternal standard than we find in irregular sexualities which do not reflect absolute standards.

Lord Krishna states in the Bhagavad-gita 7.11, that He is present in sexuality which does not oppose dharma. Srila Prabhupada teaches that sex is ultimately meant for devoted procreation in the service of God. Even if most grhastha devotees struggle with this standard and, in practice, restrict themselves to the easier version of the rule -- no sex outside of marriage -- the higher standard is still the ideal to which all serious devotees should aspire. The fact that many or even most grhasthas find it difficult to always act on the ideal platform does not at all invalidate, nor even diminish the value of the ideal."

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