Danavir Goswami Smashed Hridayananda Goswami

MORAL THESIS UNRAVELLED

By Danavir Goswami

It is astonishing to see how Sanskrit scholarship and intellectual reasoning
can be used, supposedly for the good of ISKCON, to advocate things which
contradict the explicit words of ISKCON’s founder-acarya and the injunctions
of Vedic sastra. Recently a paper by the title “Vaisnava Moral Theology and
the Homosexual Issue” (hereafter Moral Thesis) appeared on a public internet
news forum frequented by ISKCON devotees and followers. The title itself
reveals that the thesis has opened more than a debate over sexual
preferences-ISKCON now faces a deliberate challenge to the implicit faith it
places in its founder-acarya and Vaisnava scriptures. A weakening of that
faith will act like a broadside to the ship so carefully constructed and
guided by His Divine Grace. Along with marginalization of
guru-mukha-padma-vakya cittete kariya aikya comes normalization of adharma
(irreligious behavior).

Quite frankly, we didn’t find any Vaisnava theology within the paper nor
anything of value for the Vaisnava community. In a previous work entitled
“Chaste Harlots” I have comprehensively responded to the “Homosexual Issue”
brought forward in the Moral Thesis, thus I will not do so again here. In
our present paper, we will attempt to analyze and unravel, if you will, the
rather protracted Moral Thesis considering the paper’s assumptions and their
implications for ISKCON. The Moral Thesis is designed to make its readers
think that superseding the explicit instructions of guru, sadhu and sastra
is possible by moral reasoning according to fashionable social mores.
The Krishna consciousness movement should not be overly influenced
by popular opinion lest it abandons its foundational tenets. We know that
scholars, anti-cultists, governments and others are putting pressure on
ISKCON to conform to their ideas. In fact some members of the academic
community cry that unless ISKCON gives up its literal interpretation of the
scriptures the organization will become irrelevant to scholars. This is
totally untrue. Just the opposite is true. If ISKCON compromises its pure
position to cater to modern whimsical trends the institution will become
rubbish. The tendency to compromise in the place of preaching should not be
indulged.
The Moral Thesis employs suspicious scholarship—at times quoting
His Divine Grace when convenient and at other times totally ignoring his
statements. Although the Moral Thesis presents several scriptural stories
and references, its shocking conclusions place the devotee-reader, in the
most unenviable position of having to accept several premises.

PREMISE #1: Sastric Ambiguity

The Moral Thesis:

“Prabhupada states in his Bhagavatam purport to 3.20.26: ‘It appears here
that the homosexual appetite of males for each other is created in this
episode of the creation of the demons by Brahma.’ Although homosexuality is
said to have existed since the dawn of creation, the Bhagavatam does not
explicitly describe nor proscribe it.”

Firstly, by saying “said to have existed” the Moral Thesis makes it sound as
if the Bhagavatam’s statement may not be accurate. The Srimad Bhagavatam is
accepted as the topmost trusted scripture and its statements are held above
all others by Vaisnava acaryas such as Sridhara Svami, Ramanujacarya and
Vallabhacarya. Srila Vyasadeva also confirms this: srimad-bhagavate
maha-muni-krte kim va parair isvarah. “This beautiful Bhagavatam, compiled
by the great sage Vyasadeva [in his maturity], is sufficient in itself for
God realization. What is the need of any other scripture?” Srila Jiva
Gosvami explains in his Sandarbha that even if there are some paradoxical
statements between scriptures, Bhagavata Purana is to be taken as the final
decision. Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu too accepted Srimad Bhagavatam as the
spotless Vedic authority.

Secondly, how can the Moral Thesis say that the Bhagavatam does not
explicitly describe homosexuality when we have a graphic case of it in the
very verse under discussion (3.20.26)?

Lord Brahma, approaching the Lord, addressed Him thus: My Lord, please
protect me from these sinful demons, who were created by me under Your
order. They are infuriated by an appetite for sex and have come to attack
me.

The Sanskrit indicates that the men created by Brahma (tah imah) were
approaching (upakramanti) him (mam [brahma]) for sex (yabhitum).
Three texts prior in verse 23 the Bhagavatam also discloses that they (te)
approached (abhipedire) Brahma for copulation (maithunaya). The topic of
these verses is clearly a case of persons of one sex (male) approaching
another person of the same sex (male) for sex-there is no ambiguity here. In
fact, considering the attempted homosexual encounter Srila Prabhupada could
not have translated the verses more literally.

Thirdly, it is untrue that Srimad Bhagavatam does not explicitly proscribe
homosexuality. The word proscribe is defined: “To condemn or to prohibit.”
In general the Srimad Bhagavatam condemns and prohibits sinful activity of
all kinds. The persons involved in the attempted sinful act are termed
“demons” (adevan) in verse 23 indicating the ungodly or those who oppose the
demigods and Lord Visnu. Verse 26 refers to those persons as “sinful demons”
(papah). How could the behavior of persons characterized as “demons” and
“sinful demons” not be proscribed by the scripture in which such
descriptions appear? Demoniac behavior is most assuredly condemned in the
Srimad Bhagavatam and other Vedic literature exemplified by the hordes of
demons killed by the Lord Himself. In particular, the Bhagavatam is
described as the very source of religious principles for the age of Kali.

krsne sva-dhamopagate
dharma-jnanadibhih saha
kalau nasta-drsam esa
puranarko ‘dhunoditah

This Bhagavata Purana is as brilliant as the sun, and it has arisen just
after the departure of Lord Krsna to His own abode, accompanied by religion,
knowledge, etc. Persons who have lost their vision due to the dense darkness
of ignorance in the age of Kali shall get light from this Purana.

One of the expressed purposes of the Lord’s descent upon this material world
is to annihilate the miscreants who do not care for Krsna consciousness. In
the Bhagavad-gita the Supreme Lord eternally prohibits such demons by
threatening to personally annihilate them (vinasaya ca duskrtam). If one
argues that the Lord only personally appears to annihilate big demons and
not the ordinary small sinful persons-it can be seen that the Lord also
denounces such small sinful persons in the Bhagavad-gita:

He who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims
attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme
destination.(16.23)

Furthermore the Lord condemns such persons by casting (ksipami) them
(dvisatah kruran) “into the ocean of material existence, into various
demoniac species of life.”
Aside from this, we find in the episode under discussion, sinful
demons directly attacking Brahma, or Vidhi the father of all religious
principles. What could be more condemned or proscribed?

PREMISE #2: Poor Sanskrit Scholarship or Homophobia

The Moral Thesis:

“The story does not describe mutually consensual homosexuality, since Brahma
fled the lusty demons.”

By use of the term “mutually consensual homosexuality”, the Moral
Thesis wishes to make a distinction between the demoniac homosexual
attackers of Brahma and modern gay partners. The nature of the
Brahma-attacking demons’ sexual attraction was confirmed above, now we will
address the terms mutually consensual. The Moral Thesis contends that the
demons attacking Brahma were wicked primarily because they attempted to
force their lusty desires upon another unwilling person-whereas typical gay
behavior taking place between willing adults cannot be considered to be in
the same category. Such guesswork is reminiscent of some dead so-called
scholars who accused Bhaktivedanta publications of inconsummate Sanskrit
scholarship arising from an overzealous preacher. How lamentable it is that
“Vaisnavas” are joining the group of mundane scholars who oppose the pure
devotee’s writings because, unbeknownst to them, the subject matter is
transcendental to their understanding.

atah sri-krsna-namadi
na bhaved grahyam indriyaih
sevonmukhe hi jihvadau
svayam eva sphuraty adah

“No one can understand the transcendental nature of the name, form, quality
and pastimes of Sri Krsna through his materially contaminated senses. Only
when one becomes spiritually saturated by transcendental service to the Lord
are the transcendental name, form, quality and pastimes of the Lord revealed
to him.” (Bhakti-rasamrta-sindhu 1.2.234)

Although it is true that the demoniac attack against Brahma represents
homosexuality in a most extreme manner, still homosexual behavior of any
type is held as immoral by the Bhagavatam. In his purport to Srimad
Bhagavatam 3.20.26 as quoted above, Srila Prabhupada viewed both forced and
consensual homosexuality as falling into the same category of sinful
activity or illicit sex. The Moral Thesis finds this assessment faulty and
thus insinuates that ordinary gays of today have been contemptuously lumped
into the same category as those of the demoniac attackers. Thus the
implication points to either poor Sanskrit scholarship or homophobia.
Let us consider Srila Prabhupada’s Sanskrit scholarship first.

Moral Thesis:

“We must search the most important Vaishnava sciptures presented by Srila
Prabhupada, the Bhagavad-gita and the Srimad-bhagavatam, for specific,
explicit, unambiguous scriptural statements about homosexuality. The result?
There are none. Remarkably, neither the Gita nor the Bhagavatam gives a
single explicit reference to mutually consensual homosexuality.”

“The story does not give any rule, injunction, or prohibition regarding
homosexuality. Indeed the very word homosexuality does not appear in the
Bhagavatam.”

“Since we do not find a specific, explicit, unambiguous set of rules for
dealing with homosexuality, we must engage in spiritual reasoning about it.”

A good friend of mine wondered out loud whether to credit such ludicrous
statements to poor research, inanity, intelligence stolen by illusion
(mayayapahrta-jnana) and/or an attempt to beguile. The very word zoo-philia
also does not appear in the Bhagavatam—does that mean sex with animals is
acceptable? The Moral Thesis attempts to justify its claim that “the
Bhagavatam does not explicitly describe nor proscribe” homosexuality by
suggesting that only the homosexual attack is forbidden and not homosexual
behavior if it is mutually consensual among adults.
This proposal is fundamentally wrong since there is indeed a perfectly
specific, explicit, unambiguous set of rules for dealing with homosexuality
as we will demonstrate. In attempting to eliminate a scriptural prohibition,
the Moral Thesis employs absurd literalism to support its claim that
“neither the Gita nor the Bhagavatam gives a single explicit reference to
mutually consensual homosexuality.”
Lord Krishna states that He is sex life which does not violate religious
principles (dharmaviruddho bhutesu kamo ‘smi). [bhagavad-gita 7.11] What
constitutes religious principles with regard to sex indulgence is clearly
enunciated throughout the Srimad Bhagavatam.

” Particularly in the Third Canto the incident of Diti’s impregnation
instructs that even when duly married and desiring offspring, sexual union
is considered illicit when bereft of purificatory regulations.

” In the Seventh Canto, Sri Narada Muni also prescribes principles of
the eternal religious system which he “heard from the mouth of Narayana”
beginning with brahmacaryam. There brahmacaryam is defined as continence or
abstaining from misuse of one’s semen (not indulging in sex with women other
than one’s own wife and not having sex with one’s own wife when sex is
forbidden, like during the period of menstruation). The sage further
explains that, the grhastha “is given permission by the spiritual master to
indulge in sex during the period favorable for procreation (guru-vrttir
vikalpena grhasthasyartu-gaminah.” (7.12.11)

” Another directive is given in the Eleventh Canto to Vasudeva as
follows:

Religious sex life is also permitted, but only in marriage for begetting
children, and not for sensuous exploitation of the body. Unfortunately,
however, the less intelligent materialists cannot understand that their
duties in life should be performed purely on the spiritual platform.
(vyavayah prajaya na ratya imam visuddham na viduh sva-dharmam)(11.5.13)

” The most explicit information found in the Srimad Bhagavatam,
however, is spoken by the supreme authority, Lord Krishna as follows:

A householder may approach his wife for sex only at the time prescribed for
begetting children. (grhasthasyapy rtau gantuh). (11.18.43)

Since the scriptural injunction for grhasthas excludes any sexual activity
not specifically intended for procreation, it naturally forbids all sex for
any other purpose. By forbidding all rather than most, some or numerous the
order is unambiguous and explicit. Thus the prohibition necessarily includes
each and every diverse form of illicit sex such as homosexuality, incest,
auto-eroticism, pedophilia, zoo-philia, necrophilia, etc. When sex
indulgence is allowed only under specific conditions, it automatically
prohibits any sex indulgence which does not meet those specific conditions.
The sastra’s way of identifying prohibited behavior is the most
comprehensive and intelligent because it not only makes sense in the
immediate time period but it also allows for any situation that could arise
in the future. In Kali-yuga the perverted sinful activities of men and women
take on newer and more bizarre shapes and thus the sastras sensibly provide
prohibitions for each and every form of illicit sexual behavior which does
not conform to the precise allowable application given in the sastra.
If a man tells a barber to shave his head clean, it is understood
the man means that all the hairs on his head should be cut. The barber need
not ask whether the man wants this or that specific hair to be shaved. Nor
can the man be rightly accused of being ambiguous or inexplicit in his
instruction. He has accurately included each and every hair in the
instruction for the barber to cut. A typical barber would not become
bewildered by this instruction. The instruction is explicit because it
refers to each individual hair and it is unambiguous because there is no
doubt about which hairs are included. Not only would the task of
specifically attempting to name each and every hair to be cut impractical,
it is also redundant and unnecessary. Thus the Srimad Bhagavatam and the
Bhagavad-gita display the kind of wisdom and foresight that one would expect
from the most important Vaisnava scriptures.
Looking at this in another way, let’s imagine an attorney arguing in
court to defend his client:

“Your Honor, my client was given a citation for breaking the traffic law
Number 1634 of the Municipal Traffic Section, which states that: (quote) “no
motor vehicle weighing over 2 tons may be driven on this road.” (end quote)
Your Honor, please note that my client was driving a sixty foot long, green
Mac truck that weighed 4 tons. I have searched the entire traffic law book
and I can swear that in that entire body of laws there is not a single
explicit reference prohibiting a 60 foot long, green, Mac truck weighing 4
tons to drive on that road.”

>From a purely and absurdly technical angle of vision, the attorney is
stating a fact: indeed there is no “single explicit reference” prohibiting a
“60 foot, green Mac truck weighing 4 tons” in the traffic law book. However,
a sober judge will explain to the foolish attorney that the single law
prohibiting any motor vehicle weighing more than 2 tons includes all
varieties of motor vehicles never minding whether the vehicle’s brand is
Mac, Scania, International, Volvo, brandless or any other brand-and whether
the vehicles are colored green, blue, pink, grey, polka-dotted or
whatever-and whether the vehicles weigh 2 tons, 4 tons, 8 tons or any
other weight beyond 2 tons-or whether the vehicles are 60 feet long, 20 feet
long, or 120 feet long. The law applies equally to them all. There is no
need, nor any possibility, for the traffic law book to enumerate all the
trillions of potential characteristic-combinations of motor vehicles which
could violate the law. In short, it is understood by sane persons that this
prohibition refers to all types of motor vehicles weighing more than 2 tons.
So, getting back to the claim that: “neither the Gita nor the
Bhagavatam gives a single explicit reference to mutually consensual
homosexuality,”-it must be soberly pointed out that indeed mutually
consensual homosexuality is included in the multitudes of types of
prohibited illicit sex indulgence because it falls outside of Srimad
Bhagavatam’s accepted criterion for religious sex. These accepted criterions
include: 1) within a sacred marriage between a man and a woman, 2) the
purpose must be for procreation and, 3) the scriptural regulations must be
observed, etc. Since mutually consensual homosexuality unmistakably meets
none of these decisive factors, it must be considered prohibited or illicit.
Consensuality is by no means a saving grace for homosexuality according to
Vaisnava scripture.
It is also unfair to charge Srila Prabhupada of being homophobic
when his very life’s example of saving the conditioned souls, (including
gays) proves otherwise. It is observed that many former homosexuals
experienced transcendental transformations by engaging in devotional service
to Krishna under the direction of Srila Prabhupada. The qualification of
those persons was their willingness to give up sinful habits and abide by
the guidance given by His Divine Grace. Lacking such faith, some of today’s
homosexually-oriented candidates for Krishna consciousness represented by
the Moral Thesis, claim unfair discrimination. No, it is not homophobia at
work but rather careful adherence to the verdict of the scriptures and the
unswerving dedication of the society’s founder-acarya. Members of ISKCON
take the purports of His Divine Grace to be as good as scripture, without
which there would be no understanding of scripture in the West today. The
Moral Thesis, on the other hand, seems to view them as expendable.
Fortunately, we have His Divine Grace to clarify exactly what is meant by
Bhagavatam stories so we don’t need to speculate and come to perverse
conclusions.
Some human acts are deemed wrong by God and scripture and it is the
faithful, honest and pure persons who accept and abide by those injunctions.
For example, stealing is deemed wrong by God and scripture. Similarly,
whether we like it or not, homosexual behavior is also one of the human acts
which is deemed wrong by God and revealed scriptures throughout the world,
thus it should be given up by all sane persons. One may argue that there are
exceptions to the rule and sometimes stealing could be condoned. That
exception is very rare and it is certainly not a principle which should be
broadly encouraged. But one may object: “There is a vast spectrum of
stealing from armed robbery to shoplifting and surely they differ in their
severity.” Although there is a relative hierarchy in stealing diamonds
(hira-cora) or cucumbers (khira-cora) both are criminal acts and are
punishable. Similarly, according to scriptures (sastra caksus) the
aggressive homosexual attack and the commonplace consensual homosexual
relationships found today are both immoral and condemned.
Devotional service encompasses the highest reason because it has
been decided by superior authorities. When the founder-acarya has given his
verdict on an issue, it is offensive to bring that same issue up to the open
forum for debate. A lower court cannot overrule a higher court’s decision.
Whether one does not understand the instruction or one does not accept the
instruction or one thinks the instruction is ok but needs a little work-the
policy of trying to outsmart the founder-acarya is not wise.

PREMISE #4: Infidelity to Acaryas

The Moral Thesis:

“The godless demons who chased Brahma for sex were apparently attracted to
the specific part of his body that manifests female beauty. Both in the
Bhagavatam text itself, and in the commentaries of the great Acaryas, we
find unanimous evidence that these demons were actually lusting after
women.”

“In conclusion, there is no doubt that the godless demons created by Brahma
all felt extreme lust toward women. A question arises as to whether they
approached Brahma in a straighforward homosexual way, or whether they were
attracted to a female aspect of Brahma’s cosmic body, since Brahma gave up
to them a body in the form of a beautiful female. Keep in mind that the
Bhagavatam itself states at 3.20.53 that Brahma gave them a “part”, amsha,
of his body, and Sridhara Swami states that this part was in fact an aspect
of Brahma’s mental state, specifically the state of lust. Thus according to
the Bhagavatam and Sridhara Swami, the demons lustfully rushed at Brahma who
then seems to have given them what they wanted: a beautiful female.
Therefore it is clear that the demons had a strong heterosexual appetite, as
well as an ambiguous attraction to a lusty female aspect of Lord Brahma.”

“In their commentaries on this incident, three great commentators —
Sridhara Swami, Vira Raghavacarya, and Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur, all
describe these demons as stri-lampata, “lusting after women.” Thus when the
Bhagavatam first mentions this incident and desribes the demons as
atilolupan, “excessively lusty,” Sridhara Swami states that this lust was
for women.”

The insinuation here by the Moral Thesis is that because the Bhaktivedanta
Translations and Purports describe the demons’ attack on Brahma for sex as
homosexual they have deviated from the acaryas’ (such as Sridhara Swami,
Vira Raghavacarya, and Visvanatha Cakravarti Thakur), standard conclusion
concerning this episode of Srimad Bhagavatam.
This claim cannot stand. Srila Prabhupada taught that the homosexual
appetite within men is produced of excessive lust after women (atilolupan
stri-lampata) just as the commentators have explained. He is totally in
agreement with the acarya commentators on this point. Thus the Moral Thesis’
attempt to discredit Srila Prabhupada’s fidelity to the acaryas of the
Srimad Bhagavatam fails.
What makes the Bhaktivedanta Purports so outstanding is that they
focus the light of the Bhagavata and the previous acaryas into a powerful
and compassionate beam of hope and mercy for the fallen conditioned souls of
Kali-yuga. His Divine Grace further extended that mercy with practical
advice to his followers of homosexual inclination that they should sincerely
perform devotional service to Krishna and they, like others, would transcend
the material impurities of their birth and activities. Those who carefully
follow the principles of bhakti-yoga achieve spiritual advancement proving
that His Divine Grace’s advice continues to work. The purport under scrutiny
is especially brilliant because it crystallizes exactly what is happening in
the episode and what is to be learned by such an incident.
A renowned modern Sanskrit scholar expresses the opinion that Srila
Prabhupada’s purports to the Srimad-Bhagavatam reveal his loyalty to the
Vaisnava tradition of scriptural commentary:

“I have gathered some insights into Srila Prabhupada’s hermeneutic
methodology.He always de-emphasized his own abilities, preferring to be
judged on the more objective grounds of his bona fide allegiance to the
teachings of the Vaisnava tradition he represented. He did not credit his
preaching success to any special abilities of his own. As he once said, ‘I
don’t claim that I am a pure devotee or perfect, but my only qualification
is that I am trying to follow the instruction of the perfect.’.
To publicly establish spiritual authority, then, a teacher, rather
than making an open spectacle of his intimate ecstasies, should simply speak
philosophically on the basis of what previous authorities have said in
scripture and on reputable commentaries of scripture. Srila Prabhupada
wanted his own authority to be accepted according to how faithfully he lived
up to that standard.
Srila Prabhupada was firmly convinced of the relevance of
Srimad-Bhagavatam. In his view, the Bhagavatam’s teachings were timeless,
the perennial science of God consciousness. His own responsibility was
simply to translate them without distortion. If the instructions of his
authoritative predecessors were properly served, the whole world would
surely benefit. He based his own presentation largely on the commentaries of
previous authorities.”

(Back to Godhead Magazine; Volume 36, Number 04, 2002;
“Serving the Words of His Predecessors,” By Gopiparanadhana Dasa
Bhaktivedanta Book Trust (BBT) Sanskrit editor and translator for more than
25 years. His works include Srimad Bhagavatam and Sri Brhad-Bhagavatamrta)

The Moral Thesis:

“It is not clear from the original Bhagavatam story that the demons were
true homosexuals. By close study of this story, we find that in fact the
demons who approached Brahma were at most bi-sexual, and that even this
bi-sexuality is quite ambiguous.”

Whether the demoniac men approaching Brahma were “true” homosexuals meaning
persons exclusively attracted to males without sexual attraction for females
is not of primary concern. The Moral Thesis tries to divert attention from
the primary action of the verse to a technical discussion of bisexuality
which carries little relevance to the event. A judge is not is not
particularly interested in whether a rapist is heterosexual, bisexual or
homosexual. The criminal act itself is to be judged-not latent tendencies.

PREMISE #5: Human Reasoning Paramount

Moral Thesis:

“Sometimes devotees state that ‘no illicit sex’ means ‘no sex outside of
marriage.’ Indeed that is the standard that many respected grhasthas are
able to follow.”

“ISKCON teaches the ideal in regards to avoiding illicit sexuality within
marriage but in reality accommodates illicit sex within marriage.”

The Moral Thesis here puts forward the idea that ISKCON and its
founder-acarya authorize two acceptable standards of sexual indulgence (a
higher and a lower) within the grhastha asrama. Although acknowledging that
the higher standard is the ideal, the Moral Thesis argues that the lower is
also authorized by default despite it’s accommodating illicit sex.
Supposedly, authorization of a lower standard emanates from statements made
by Srila Prabhupada himself, such as those below:

” “Illicit sex is sex outside of marriage.” (Science of
Self-Realization, Chapter 2)

” “Students are required to follow strictly the regulative principles
of Vedic life: 1) No illicit sex-life (i.e. outside of marriage)” (From a
letter to a life member; April 5, 1972)

It is disturbing and unethical the way that the Moral Thesis disregards
certain statements of Srila Prabhupada entirely and yet uses other
statements out of context. It seems that it is not His Divine Grace’s words
which the Moral Thesis holds as absolute but rather its own agenda. While
Srila Prabhupada’s statement that “illicit sex is sex outside of marriage”
is certainly true, it does not constitute an “easier version of the rule” as
the Moral Thesis demands. It cannot be supported that Srila Prabhupada
taught such an “easier” version of regulative principles because illicit sex
is not limited only to sex outside of marriage. His Divine Grace made
numerous statements on the subject as did Srimad Bhagavatam (see the four
verses quoted in the Premise #3 section above). When asked for a brief
definition of what illicit sex constituted, His Divine Grace sometimes opted
to give a simple, abbreviated description of the term rather than the more
detailed explanation which he reserved for the proper time and circumstance.
Consider a botany professor who tells some children that coconuts
come from seeds in the ground. The statement is not incorrect but certainly
lacks completeness. The simplified explanation cannot be taken as realistic
guidance on how to grow coconuts. The same professor lectures his university
graduate students on the details of growing coconuts such as the type of
seed, soil, sowing techniques, weeding, temperatures, quantities of water,
sunlight, fertilizers, diseases, plant predators, plant characteristics-its
flowers, fruits, etc. The professor reveals more about the science of
botanically growing coconuts according to time and circumstances and the
capacity of the students. Not only is the statement to the children
incomplete, but an inexperienced person trying to grow coconuts simply based
on that meagre information would easily become baffled presuming that
putting any seed, in any type of ground, at any time, in any location would
produce coconuts. Further information would be required to successfully grow
coconuts from the start.
In the same way, when comprehensive explanations were required,
Srila Prabhupada spared no pains in providing minute details about the
standard for sex within Vaisnava marriage. On the other hand, when a
reporter from the London Times interviewing Srila Prabhupada asked about it,
His Divine Grace replied with the abbreviated “illicit sex is sex outside of
marriage.” (Science of Self-Realization, Chapter 2).

Moral Thesis:

“Why do we thus condone a sexual act which is, in the strictest sense,
sinful? Surely because it is the lesser of two evils, the greater evil being
sex outside of marriage.”

If the discussion revolves around the standard for the grhastha asrama or
the standard for Vaisnavas within marriage, or the standard for married
initiated students within the International Society for Krishna
Consciousness, the truth is that there is but one acceptable standard. The
acceptable standard is the complete explanation given in Srimad Bhagavatam
(see the Eleventh Canto quoted above) and confirmed by His Divine Grace as
follows.

“It is sometimes misunderstood that a grhastha, a householder, is permitted
to indulge in sex at any time. This is a wrong conception of grhastha life.
The grhastha is allowed to indulge in sex life during the period favorable
for procreation and in accordance with the spiritual master’s order. If the
spiritual master’s orders allow a grhastha to engage in sex life at a
particular time, then the grhastha may do so; otherwise, if the spiritual
master orders against it, the grhastha should abstain. The grhastha must
obtain permission from the spiritual master to observe the ritualistic
ceremony of garbhadhana-samskara. Then he may approach his wife to beget
children, otherwise not.” (Srimad Bhagavatam 7.12.11 Purport)

This line of reasoning should be clear to all honest persons. Why then does
the Moral Thesis propose that an “easier rule” was established for Vaisnava
grhasthas? Wishful thinking does not constitute religious principles nor can
illicit sex within marriage be rightly called the grhastha asrama. Srila
Prabhupada set equal standards for all of his followers where the grhastha
asrama is characterized as a spiritual order in which husband and wife make
spiritual advancement. Householders who do not follow the regulative
principles enunciated in these verses of Srimad Bhagavatam do not belong to
the grhastha asrama but are termed grhamedhis (materialistic householders).
The “easier rule” fallacy is definitely not a rule for Vaisnavas because it
was not given by sastra, previous acaryas nor by Srila Prabhupada.
The Moral Thesis fabricates an “easier rule” on the basis of its own
concocted “lesser of the two evils” reasoning. Such a proposition is as
foolish as the atheistic slogan yata mata tata patha-“all ways lead to the
Truth.” We cannot manufacture our own way of understanding devotional
service for it is not that everything one manufactures or concocts will lead
to understanding God.

Moral Thesis:

“The question then arises: is the policy of choosing the lesser of evils
valid only for heterosexuals, or is it also a necessary strategy for
homosexuals?”

Now by disclosing this “easier rule-lesser of evils” theory, the Moral
Thesis makes it easy to see the basis of the “gay monogamy” proposition. In
a vain attempt to support this objective, the Moral Thesis employs
pieced-together bits of mundane interpretations of scriptural stories.

PREMISE #6: Story Interpretations

The telling of stories to fulfill one’s own mental purpose is
counterproductive to bhakti-nevertheless, the Moral Thesis indulges in such
acts.

Story #1) Moral Thesis: “In both these stories of Asvatthama and Rukmi
we find justice
tempered by mercy, resulting in an act of merciful justice which does not
obey the strictest letter of the law.”

The Moral Thesis proposes that the punishments Krishna meted out to
Asvatthama and Rukmi compromised justice and mercy and did “not obey the
strictest letter of the law.” The Moral Thesis has not accurately understood
these pastimes. In reality, Krishna never compromises justice in favor of
mercy. Rather His mercy is always perfectly just and His justice is always
perfectly merciful and both follow the supreme letter of the law. This marks
the difference between the ordinary flawed living entities trying to play
God by redesigning human morality and the Lord Himself. The Lord and His
devotee Arjuna did not compromise the letter of the law in punishing
Asvatthama. More accurately, they knew all the laws and thus came to the
perfect conclusion that Asvatthama should not be slain but humiliated. It
may appear like a compromise to those who are not conversant with all the
appropriate laws or to those who choose to ignore the appropriate laws.
According to Srimad Bhagavatam, the punishment chosen for Asvatthama was
perfect according to dharma.

“Cutting the hair from his head, depriving him of his wealth and driving him
from his residence are the prescribed punishments for the relative of a
brahmana. There is no injunction for killing the body.” (1.7.58)

Srila Prabhupada nicely comments on the outcome:

Contradictory orders of different persons are impossible to carry out.
Therefore a compromise was selected by Arjuna by his sharp intelligence, and
he separated the jewel from the head of Asvatthama. This was as good as
cutting off his head, and yet his life was saved for all practical purposes.
Here Asvatthama is indicated as twice-born. Certainly he was twice-born, but
he fell down from his position, and therefore he was properly punished. Thus
being insulted, the humiliated Asvatthama was simultaneously killed and not
killed by the intelligence of Lord Krsna and Arjuna.

Story #2) Moral Thesis: “A strong male seeks to act in a strong way
claiming such an act to be
just. A respected lady [Kunti] then insists on a somewhat different course,
and the male adjusts his behavior.”

The Moral Thesis asserts that when calling demigods for sons Pandu
compromised dharma to appease his wife Kunti. In reality this story provides
no compromise of dharma in the least. Pandu’s acquiescence to his wife’s
opinion was fully based on dharma. Kunti devi also happened to be a very
great devotee of the Lord and a learned scholar in Vedic knowledge in
addition to her being Pandu’s beloved wife. There was no fault on Pandu’s
part in listening to his dharma patni, nor was there any fault on Kunti’s
part for speaking what she had heard from saints and sastra. The final
decision was made mutually in accord with all dharmic principles and did not
depend on mundane human feminine appeals.

Story #3) Moral Thesis: “The family’s moral duty, was not at all clear
to the them and they could
not agree on what to do since any possible moral act seemed to violate
another moral duty of equal importance. The key point here is that practical
circumstances presented a seemingly insoluble moral conflict to a good,
brahminical, Vedic family.”

The Moral Thesis wishes to use the Eka-cakra brahmana family’s dilemma in
deciding which family member should be sacrificed to the demon Baka to prove
that no matter how hard one tries to be moral or pious, one will inevitably
fail due to “conflicting moral duties.” Such a gloomy view is not entirely
untrue however it certainly does not touch the actual lesson to be learned
from the story. In reality, the brahmana and his family represent all
conditioned souls in this material world facing the perplexities of worldly
existence. Ordinary dharma or varnasrama provides some relief from the
confusion, however it is not capable of solving the problems entirely.
To actually resolve life’s dilemma everyone requires the guidance of a bona
fide spiritual master whose transcendental instructions burn away the dense
fog of confusion and anxiety. Fortunately for the brahmana family of
Eka-cakra, the Lord sent His dear representative Vaisnavi in the form of
Srimati Kuntidevi to compassionately, transcendentally and efficiently solve
the family’s problems. So the moral dilemma was solved permanently and
safely by the divine grace of Srimati Kuntidevi and her son Bhimasena.
Sanjaya declared that:

Wherever there is Krsna, the master of all mystics, and wherever there is
Arjuna, the supreme archer, there will also certainly be opulence, victory,
extraordinary power, and morality. That is my opinion.

yatra yogesvarah krsno
yatra partho dhanur-dharah
tatra srir vijayo bhutir
dhruva nitir matir mama

The pure devotee knows how to act in all circumstances satisfying both
morality and bhakti.

Story #4) Moral Thesis: “Narada urges upon Mrgari the lesser of
evils.”

The Moral Thesis wishes to show how Narada chose the lesser of moral evils
when he advised Mrgari the hunter to fully kill animals rather than to
half-kill them. Again the Moral Thesis has put aside the true significance
of the scriptural story (this time from the Puranas) to instead emphasize a
minor element-and that also incorrectly. A great saintly person like Narada
Muni does not travel around the material and spiritual worlds to split hairs
over the relative papa of killing and half-killing animals. Narada Muni’s
real intent was to encourage the hunter to stop hunting altogether and
depend totally on the Lord for his maintenance. That is why he spoke the
significant words to the hunter, “You stop this hunting business and I will
give you your livelihood.”
Narada’s preaching strategy was successful with Mrgari as it was
when he disclosed to Kamsa that Krsna and Balarama were sons of Vasudeva. In
that pastime, Narada knew that as a result of his disclosure Kamsa would
arrange to kill the boys—but Krsna would defeat Kamsa. In the same way,
Narada knew that although Mrgari the hunter was sinful, he was nonetheless
simple-hearted and would give up killing animals completely.

Story #5) Moral Thesis: “In a sense, Bhishma declares here that even
if the universe should
collapse, he will not give up his vow. Consequences don’t matter. All that
does matter is the integrity of an act itself, in this case the act of
keeping one’s vow.”

The Moral Thesis considers Bhisma’s vow of celibacy insensitive to its
consequences. This seemingly sanctimonious interpretation attempts to bring
down one of Vedic culture’s most sacred and beneficial vows to the mundane
level. Bhisma never intended that consequences didn’t matter, rather he
meant that the act of dharma (keeping his sacred vow) inevitably produces
the best consequences. Of that he is sure, and he is a mahajana. Bhisma
should not be considered an ordinary impetuous youth prone to making rash
vows without due deliberation. At the time of making his vow, Bhisma was
already perfectly educated in all branches of Vedic knowledge by great
rishis. If Bhisma’s vow was truly whimsical, irresponsible and harmful as
implied by the Moral Thesis, why would Yamaraja, the great demigod and
universal authority on morality, include Bhisma’s name as one of the twelve
wisest authorities (mahajanas) in existence?

Several other factors must be considered in regard to Bhisma’s vow:

A) Bhisma was well-aware that the fisherman’s daughter Satyavati was
divinely chosen to be
the mother of the Kuru dynasty.
B) Despite his vow of celibacy Bhisma never shirked his responsibility
to protect and guide the Kuru dynasty through valiant fighting and giving
perfect counsel.
C) The sacred vow of naistiki brahmacarya is authorized by Vedic
authorities and has been
glorified in the lives of the Kumaras, Narada, Hanuman, Kapila, Sukadeva,
Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati, etc. Bhisma’s vow was no different.
D) We have not heard of any acarya intimating that Bhisma’s vow of
celibacy was inauspicious
or would bring inauspicious results.
E) The vow was so glorious and auspicious that the Supreme Lord Sri
Krishna Himself
personally attended to Bhisma at the time of his passing from this world.

Story #6) Moral Thesis: “There is, however, another approach to
morality in which one’s
primary concern is with the consequences of an act. The most famous
proponent of this pragmatic approach is of course Krishna Himself. Indeed
Krishna teaches pragmatic moral philosophy to Bhishma himself at the Battle
of Kurukshetra.”

The Moral Thesis considers Krishna’s picking up the broken chariot wheel to
protect Arjuna from Bhisma’s attack a model of breeching dharma (morality)
for the sake of helping people. In reality however, Lord Krishna does not
become immoral by His activities but rather He becomes glorified by the
seemingly immoral acts, as indicated earlier. His youthful dancing with the
gopis, childish butter-stealing, fleeing the battlefield and breaking a
promise demonstrate independence from mundane governance. These special
activities must be considered the transcendental prerogative of the Supreme
Personality of Godhead and should not be used as models upon which ordinary
souls compromise morality to achieve social expediency.
If one actually wishes to critique the broken promise of Krishna,
many additional factors must be taken into account:

A) Krishna’s singular status as the omniscient, benevolent,
all-merciful God.
B) Lord Krishna’s chivalrous relationship with Bhisma known as vira
rasa.
C) Lord Krishna’s magnanimous willingness to sacrifice His own promise
in order to keep the promise of His beloved devotee Bhisma. Bhisma vowed
earlier that morning he would kill Arjuna unless Krishna broke His promise.
D) The intimate friendship of Arjuna with Krishna.
E) Krishna’s preference to honor the declaration of Arjuna (kaunteya
pratijanihi na me bhaktah pranasyati). Krishna prefers to be known as the
protector of His devotees rather than the keeper of promises.
F) The fate of the world should Arjuna have been slain.
G) How morality is defined when it is employed by God, etc.

Story #7) Moral Thesis: “Krishna tells Yudhisthira, ‘O Pandava,
casting aside dharma, do what is
practical for victory so that Drona of the golden car does not kill you all
in battle.’

The Moral Thesis highlights how Krishna advised Yudhisthira to cast aside
dharma in order to defeat Drona. Many of the same considerations discussed
in Story #6 apply here with the addition of several other factors.

A) The statement of Bhagavad-gita provides a higher stratum of dharma
or morality which is accomplished when one has implicit faith in the
directions of the Supreme Lord.

sarva-dharman parityajya
mam ekam saranam vraja
aham tvam sarva-papebhyo
moksayisyami ma sucah

“Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall
deliver you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear.” (18.66)

An ordinary person cannot invoke such indemnity by his would-be desire to
become a social reformer. For example, an ordinary soul should not recommend
casting aside Vedic morality for the sake of supposedly appeasing the minds
of those unable to follow standard religious principles.

B) Drona the brahmana had already breeched dharma by fighting in a
ksatriya war.
C) Drona had lost his respectability by siding with the evil
Duryodhana.
D) Drona himself had personally and explicitly outlined to Yudhisthira
what means should be used for his own defeat.
E) Drupada had performed a Vedic sacrifice to kill Drona and a son
(Dhrstadyumna) was born for fulfilling that purpose.

Story #8) Moral Thesis: “One must keep in mind that the whole purpose
of moral principles is to
benefit people. At times, good people, externally, perform bad deeds.
At times, bad people, externally, perform good deeds.
In such cases one must look beyond appearances to see what actually produces
good consequences.”

The Moral Thesis uses a story from the Mahabharata to demonstrate how a
family-minded hunter was sent to heaven and a superficially truthful
brahmana was sent to hell. From this we are supposed to look beyond outward
appearances and to be careful of false self-righteousness. There is a
similar story told by Srila Prabhupada about a brahmana who lived next to a
prostitute. Each time the prostitute had a customer, the brahmana would add
a stone to a pile that gradually became a wall, revealing to everyone her
sinful activity. He became so absorbed in pointing out her sinfulness that
at the time of death, he thought of the prostitute and fell down from his
position. The prostitute, however, felt remorse for her sinful behavior and
longed to become purified and thus she became elevated.
Karmic reactions are often mystifying and those engaged in
karma-kandiya activity are subjected to the sometimes confusing results. For
example, King Nrga was turned into a lizard for an apparently innocent faux
pax. No doubt that we should be cautious about finding faults in others
ignoring our own, yet this obvious fact does not justify disobeying the
instructions of the founder-acarya in the guise of magnanimity.
Lord Krishna has also confirmed that the intricacies of action are
complicated:

karmano hy api boddhavyam
boddhavyam ca vikarmanah
akarmanas ca boddhavyam
gahana karmano gatih

The intricacies of action are very hard to understand. Therefore one should
know properly what action is, what forbidden action is, and what inaction
is. (4.17)

However, Srila Prabhupada has made the whole process quite easy by his lucid
instructions and the sincere follower accepts them without a challenging
spirit. The Moral Thesis, on the other hand, obsessed with juggling words
like “good” and “bad,” hopes to find loopholes in the system of dharma,
karma and bhakti. If guru, sastra and sadhu all agree on a particular topic,
which is definitely true with the case under discussion, why should one
waste time in such hermeneutical gymnastics. Indeed Lord Krishna instructs
in His Uddhava-gita that mundane duality and the Absolute Truth go ill
together.

kim bhadram kim abhadram va
dvaitasyavastunah kiyat
vacoditam tad anrtam
manasa dhyatam eva ca

Anything not conceived in relationship to Krsna should be understood to be
illusion [maya]. None of the illusions uttered by words or conceived in the
mind are factual. Because illusion is not factual, there is no distinction
between what we think is good and what we think is bad. When we speak of the
Absolute Truth, such speculations do not apply. (Srimad-Bhagavatam: 11.28.4)

Similarly, Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu points out the mistake of
speculating.

‘dvaite’ bhadrabhadra-jnana, saba-‘manodharma’
‘ei bhala, ei manda’,-ei saba ‘bhrama’

“In the material world, conceptions of good and bad are all mental
speculations. Therefore, saying ‘This is good’ and ‘This is bad’ is all a
mistake.” (Caitanya-caritamrta: Antya 4.176)

It may also be aptly questioned why the Moral Thesis includes
episodes from Mahabharata to support its own purposes while privately
considering the book corrupt. To make matters worse, the Thesis chooses to
quote from a Sanskrit edition of the work produced by scholars who reject as
spurious, certain portions of the Mahabharata such as the attempted
disrobing of Draupadi. The Moral Thesis’s curving thread running through all
these stories is that human reasoning surpasses dharma, scriptural
injunctions, the words of the Supreme Lord and the spiritual master.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

Moral Thesis:

“To encourage devotees who are struggling to regulate, reduce and eliminate
sinful sexuality in any form is not to praise or encourage sinful
activities. The truth is the opposite: we are praising and encouraging the
reduction and gradual elimination of such activities.”

“Lord Krishna Himself states at the end of the Gita, 18.66: Giving up all
moral/religious principles and come to Me alone for shelter. I shall protect
you from all sinful reactions. Do not fear!”
“Thus considering Vaishnava moral philosophy, as taught by Krishna Himself
and by His pure devotees, ISKCON must encourage sincere devotees who at
times, in good faith, and within reasonable limits, choose the lesser of
evils in order to stabilize themselves on the spiritual path. This principle
applies to human sexuality among mutually consenting adults.”

Dharma is not achieved by adharma. Inventing a so-called religious
principle based on an insane society’s mores is like cleaning a wine-stained
pot with Academian Wine. The process of trying to understand scriptures by
use of logic and argument goes on unsuccessfully for millions of
lifetimes-vedesu durlabham adurlabham atma-bhaktau. A simple devotee gives
the guru a glass of water when it is asked for whereas the sophisticated
philosopher conjectures that soy milk is better, so he brings that.
A similar phenomenon befell Western society at large when in the beginning
of the 20th century Sigmund Freud introduced an atheistic, decadent paradigm
of pseudo science and rhetoric. Hopefully, the Vaisnava community will stand
its ground against the “Moral Thesis” which ostensibly appears as a
scholarly Vaisnava reassessment of preaching strategy.
Although completely blinded by ignorance, the lost souls of
Kali-yuga have received the grace of Krishna in the form of His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

tarko ‘pratisthah srutayo vibhinna
nasav rsir yasya matam na bhinnam
dharmasya tattvam nihitam guhayam
mahajano yena gatah sa panthah

Dry arguments are inconclusive. A great personality whose opinion does not
differ from others is not considered a great sage. Simply by studying the
Vedas, which are variegated, one cannot come to the right path by which
religious principles are understood. The solid truth of religious principles
is hidden in the heart of an unadulterated, self-realized person.
Consequently, as the sastras confirm, one should accept whatever progressive
path the mahajanas advocate. (Mahabharata, Vana-parva (313.117).

As with the punishing of Asvatthama Arjuna incorporated all relavent
instructions and made the perfect conclusion without breaking any dharmic
rules, so has Srila Prabhupada incorporated ISKCON. True devotees and
members of ISKCON accept His Divine Grace as the person bhagavata and thus
his words are the same as Srimad Bhagavatam. ISKCON has become somewhat
celebrated for its high standards and Srila Prabhupada requested his
followers to maintain those high standards.
ISKCON accepts its founder-acarya as a prominent mahajana and agrees
to follow his conclusions without wrangling new interpretations to suit the
current social trends-but the Moral Thesis dares to differ. Ignoring the
founder-acarya’s explicit directives on the subject, the Moral Thesis
produces four papers of twenty pages and displays them eagerly. Yet, moral
reasoning which contradicts scripture and guru and sadhu is useless. In Sri
Isopanisad we learn that the culture of so-called knowledge is worse than
the culture of nescient activities and Canakya Pandita compares misused
education to a jewel on a serpent’s hood. The danger is that sometimes a
student gains a little bit of learning and thinks himself qualified to
dispute the real teacher. The result of this is that the student becomes a
mouse again (punar musiko bhava).
Running through the Moral Thesis we find an underlying theme that
His Divine Grace’s teachings are outdated. The Moral Thesis endorses
sub-religious principles and gives assurances to persons accepting them that
they will make spiritual advancement. However, non Vedic standards cannot be
established whimsically. Abandoning the founder-acarya’s guidance,
unfortunately the Moral Thesis is guilty of not knowing what actually
produces good consequences. In the Srimad Bhagavatam’s Fifth Canto we learn
of how Bharata Maharaja sought a righteous path in saving a drowning fawn
but because he had no counsel of a spiritual master, became entangled in his
affection and thus lost his status as an advanced devotee. Social reasoning
may be popular with ordinary society but a devotee prefers to please the
real acarya and Krsna. Those who wander off into the realm of mundane
wrangling and speculation (mano dharma) forgetting the simplicity of
accepting the words of the spiritual master as one’s life and soul also lose
their status as advanced devotees.

ei kali-kale ara nahi kona dharma
vaisnava, vaisnava-sastra, ei kahe marma

In this Age of Kali there are no genuine religious principles other than
those established by Vaisnava devotees and the Vaisnava scriptures. This is
the sum and substance of everything. (CC Madhya 9.362)

Hare Krishna.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s