The danger of promiscuity; the lot of the partnerless; homosexuality and prema-sadhana

I linked three articles from the blog to Facebook recently and received numerous responses, comments and questions. The blog set records for pages read over the past few days, so clearly the subject elicits interest from a substantial section of the spiritually inclined, as it should. So I am elaborating on some of the answers I gave in the Facebook comments and posting them here.

Will not associating sexuality with spirituality lead to promiscuity? I am ambivalent about the sahaja sadhana you advocate, maybe it will be possible for the very advanced, but not everyone.

The possibility of deviation from any prescribed path is always present. Sadhana is about attaining a high level of spiritual purity and it is easy to be misled by thinking you have become very advanced. This then inevitably leads to trouble.

But try to understand. What I am proposing is not merely about physical sex. That is why I think I will stop using the term "sex desire" and call it "love desire," because that is what it really is. Depending on one's evolution spiritually, the focus of that love desire will be different situated. Madhura-rasa is about the kind of love that has a sexual component. When physical sex alone becomes the goal, then it falls far short of our hopes and expectations and simply does not produce the desired result, which ultimately was, is, and always will be, prema. In this, the shastras are on the money.

I know that many of the older devotees will be somewhat ambivalent about my prescriptions because of the teachings they accepted in the beginning and have been hearing repeatedly ever since. But it is time, I think, to admit to the limitations of renunciation and celibacy as the basis and end of the bhakti path. Need I catalog the negatives that have ensued with that prescription?

I will admit the potential for trouble exists in Sahaja, and we have already seen many foolish people with a half-baked idea pushing it forward prematurely -- Jayatirtha, Pitambar, Gaurahari Das Babaji -- often combining their sexual ideas with drug taking and so on. What I am trying to do on these pages is to present Sahaja in a sophisticated and rational manner, to show that it is not a "fringe" idea, but one that is commonsensical and beneficial. I think it is time to give it a try. Sex is not going to go away, so we should understand its possibilities and value in spiritual life.

If two people love each other and chant and remember Radha and Krishna while making love, what can be the harm? They will associate two positives and strengthen each.

I see sexuality as being at the root of all our problems. But Radha and Krishna are not part of the problem, they are the solution. People are having sex of all varieties, they are looking for love in all the wrong places. It is time we tried to understand the sacred character of human love and the way that it can be dovetailed into appreciation for Radha and Krishna's lila.

In fact, whatever happens here in this world is Radha and Krishna lila. In various shades of darkness.

What about those who do not have a partner? Or handicapped? How can they practise this madhura rasa sadhana?

This is something that makes my own heart cry out with compassion. So many women in the ISKCON/GM movement have been abandoned by callous men who have not go the foggiest idea of what Radha and Krishna are all about. I know because I was one of them.

But I would like to make it clear that the sexual energy is the psychic energy and is ultimately based in the spiritual. Whether someone is sexually active or capable, or not, at some point they should engage in meditation with a partner of the opposite sex, i.e. with someone with whom they share a loving attraction. The power of the mutual attraction is operative even if there can be no physical consummation or practice. Those who have no such partner should simply go on deepening their personal sadhana on the pravartaka stage, internalizing the Vrindavan bhavas.

In my article I indicated my opinion that sannyasa is a sign of childishness and abdication of the duty to attain love. So many devotees in our movement have come to a ripe old age and they still don't have prema. And the main reason is that they did not love each other. They did not know how. They did not know that love actually both starts and culminates with erotic or romantic love. We came to Krishna consciousness in the hope of finding love and happiness, and for us old farts who were hippies, we tripped on it for a while.

Harinam and prasad took us quite far. But then... something got lost. We got indoctrinated and we became foot soldiers for Krishna, "Onward Krishna soldiers" and we forgot learning the art of love. We got caught up in proselytization, "selling books," collecting and building temples, and we forgot that this was even meant to be an art of love. And there is a lot of enchantment in building institutions and beautiful temples and so on. But none of it is the final product. The only prayojan is prema, and we have to become experts in that. Let the other things follow naturally, as they will.

Now our generation is coming to an end, and there are so many women dressed in white here in Vrindavan. Taking up the "cross" of Vrindavan widowhood. Renunciation has its rewards, and when there is no other means, then one has to accept the burden of one's destiny. In the end we will all have to take shelter in God alone. But the young people of our movement have lost all sense of what this is about.

They do some kirtan, hang out with other kids who have shared the same upbringing. But they no longer find much meaning in it. Institutional religion for children is duty. Let them be given the gift of prema. Let them know how it is done. Then their kirtan and their art, their entire lives will be transformed. A real community of devotees will be created, with love as its orientation, not duty or obligation.

It seems that for a homosexual man to be attracted to Krishna is more natural. What do you have to say about that? And can a homosexual practise this sexual sadhana ?

There was a book written by Morris Carstairs, an Englishman, in the 1950s when it was still very hip to be a Freudian. It is called "The Twice Born." In it, he calls Krishna worship “a thinly disguised desire for the Father as homosexual lover."

When intellectually confronting the psychological implications of mañjarī-bhāva, (something that very few devotees are willing to do, by the way) I had to think long and hard about this statement.

My conclusion is that there is much truth to the idea of repressed homosexuality in religion, especially where celibacy is prescribed. There are many homosexuals who find celibacy an option for dealing with an orientation that is still socially unacceptable in most places in the world. But what does repression accomplish?

But I don't think that the deeper meaning of mañjarī-bhāva is repressed homosexuality. I was accused by a lesbian (I presume) professor at JNU of having "heteronormative" bias because I spoke of Radha-Krishna or male-female love as being normative. Actually, I wasn't even speaking of normative, that was my inherent bias. But yes, for me male-female love is normative, and even homosexual love somehow or another imitates heterosexual love in its seeking a kind of natural complementarity.

That being said, the point of mañjarī-bhāva is that even for heterosexual men, a bias to the feminine is necessary in order to understand love. But there is a difference between mañjarī-bhāva and attraction to Krishna in a homosexual mood. Mañjarī-bhāva means serving the Divine Couple as the embodiment of Love Itself, which can only exist between two poles, or personalities. The inner identification as servant of Love overrides all other identities.

So, as far as Sahaja sadhana for gays is concerned: The way you envision your relation to Krishna will depend on your own rasa. You will relate to God in your own rasa, and he will reciprocate. The important thing is to remember that the goal is pure love and that this is a sadhana of love.

It was once believed that homosexuality is a result of uncontrolled sexual desire that has been misdirected. Now, people are generally becoming more inclined to accept that two men or two women can engage in "carnal sharing" as an expression of their love. I accept the latter, but the same concept of sacramentalization and spiritual purposefulness in the culture of prema should be there. What is gained in life if one has sexual freedom but no love? And what is love if it does not connect one to the Supreme in prema-samadhi?


Ramananda Das said…
This remember me of one history that I read in a book of Osho. He says that one boy came to him and said that he had dreams of being a gopi. So Osho said that this was covered homosexuality and told him to have a homosexual relationship. So after this never more the boy had dreams of being a gopi!

I had read some books of Osho and liked some aspects of his philosophy, but reading this showed to me how much limited was Osho vision about Gaudiya Vaishnavism.
Jagadananda Das said…
I am probably going to get into big trouble for this one, but after thinking about it a little, Gaura-lila, and in particular Gaura-Gadadhar, may be the best symbolic imagery for gay males. Gadai-Gauranga = Radha-Krishna.

I wrote an article about this a long time ago. Maybe I still have it somewhere.
Anonymous said…

Are you implying a gay relation between Gadai-Gauranga ?

Vivekananda considered Caitanya faith as making Bengali men effeminate, did he or other during that time see him as Gay?
Jagadananda Das said…
I wrote an article about this subject once and was rather troubled, I have to say, by the gay elements that I found in the Gaura-Gadadhara account. It makes Gadai one of the most controversial characters in the Chaitanya pantheon.

That was when my own homophobia was a little stronger.

I am really loathe to pronounce on it as a historical truth, mainly because I don't really know what social attitudes in Bengal were like in that time. Nevertheless, I can see that gay men who would like to find ways of identifying with Chaitanya lila might find such elements endearing.

In CC Madhya 2, Kaviraj Goswami clearly says that Gadadhara and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's relation was in the madhura-rasa.

Jai Sri Radhe.
Anonymous said…
Can you post the gay elements that you found in the Gaura-Gadadhara account...?


Anonymous said…
"I am probably going to get into big trouble for this one, but after thinking about it a little, Gaura-lila, and in particular Gaura-Gadadhar, may be the best symbolic imagery for gay males. Gadai-Gauranga = Radha-Krishna"

Your already in trouble, so don't worry LOL. Those who dare to speak truth will always be vilified, speaking truth always makes enemies.

However, your being a well known scholar on Caitanya Vaishnavism and coming out with your opinion/insinuation that Sri Caitanya had a gay side and at the same time would not even look at women even from the corner of his eyes leaves me to wonder about this religion again and again...

Anonymous said…
I guess your not responsive here and you wont make me a friend on FB...

So I bid you farewell.

take care,

Jagadananda Das said…
I am sorry, I do not recall getting a friend request on FB. Of course I would not refuse you. I consider you a real friend.

I posted those three articles on Gaura Gadadhar in answer to your request. You might have read them yourself to answer your own question.

Jai Radhe.
Anonymous said…
Thanks Jagat,

I am not able to friend you on FB , when I go to your page I am not able to make the request. I can message you and you can send me a request I think.

Ramananda Das said…
Updating about Pitambar situation, nowadays he don´t subscribe to free sex theory anymore, being married and father of 3 child. He said that he feel some shame about what he wrote in his books about it.

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