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Positive Perspectives

Bhagavad Gita: “I envy no one, nor am I partial to anyone.  I am equal to all.  But whoever renders service unto me in devotion is a friend, is in Me, and I am also a friend to him.”  (9.29)


Srimad Bhagavatam: “As the blazing fire of death, I cause great fear to whoever makes the least discrimination between himself and other living entities because of a differential outlook.  Therefore, through charitable gifts and attention, as well as through friendly behavior and by viewing all to be alike, one should propitiate Me, who abide in all creatures as their very Self.”  (3.29.26-27)


Sri Isopanisad: “He who sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, who sees all living entities as His parts and parcels, and who sees the Supreme Lord within everything never hates anything nor any being.” (6)


Sri Caitanya-Caritamrta: “One should know for certain that nothing can exist in this cosmic manifestation that has no real counterpart in the spiritual field.  All material manifestations are emanations of the Transcendence.  The erotic principles of amorous love reflected in mixed material values are perverted reflections of the reality of spirit, but one cannot understand the reality unless one is sufficiently educated in the spiritual science.”  (1.4.29, purport)


Mahabharata: “Lord Krsna said: ‘My dear Arjuna, you know that marriages are of many kinds.  But the most wonderful of all these is the marriage of two people in love.’”  (Adi Parva, Ch. 41, p. 114)


Baudhayana Dharmasutra: “Some commend the gandharva form of marriage for all, because it flows from love.”  (1.20.16)


Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura: “One should not enter marriage with a desire to beget children, or to worship the forefathers and Prajapatis.  It is favorable to bhakti to think, ‘I am only accepting this maidservant of Krsna so that we can assist each other in Krsna’s service and establish Krsna-centered family life together.’  Whatever one’s materially attached relatives or family priest may say, ultimately one reaps the fruit of one’s own determination.”  (Jaiva Dharma, p. 164) 


Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura: “Ah!  Vaishnava-dharma is very liberal.  All jivas have the right to vaishnava-dharma; that is why it is also known as jaiva-dharma.  Even outcastes can take up vaishnava-dharma and live as grhasthas, although they are not part of varnasrama.”  (Jaiva Dharma, p. 172)


Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura: [A Vaishnava] never adheres blindly to the rules and prohibitions of the sastras [scriptures].  He accepts the instructions of the sastras graciously, but only when they are favorable to his practice of hari-bhajana [worship of God].  When they are unfavorable, he immediately rejects them.  (Jaiva Dharma, p. 54)


Srila Prabhupada: (After asking a disciple what “eunuchs” were called in the West and not getting a satisfactory answer.) “I do not know exactly, but such people, they have their own society, and their means of livelihood is that whenever there is some good occasion…marriage or childbirth, like that, so, they go there and pray to God that this child may be very long-living.  In this way they make some prayer… They are dancing.  Yes.  They are chanting Hare Krsna.”  (Tape No. 67—002, April 5, 1967)


Srila Prabhupada: “In all communities in human society—including the brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaishyas, sudras, candalas, etc.—and in the animal kingdom—including the cows, dogs, goats, etc.—everyone has his part to play.  Each is to work in cooperation for the total benefit of all society, which includes not only animate objects but also inanimate objects like hills and land…. Another hint we get from this statement is that the candalas, or the untouchables, are also not to be neglected by the higher classes and should be given necessary protection.  Everyone is important, but some are directly responsible for the advancement of human society, and some are only indirectly responsible.  However, when Krsna consciousness is there, then everyone’s total benefit is taken care of.”  (Krsna book, pp. 245-246)


Srila Prabhupada: “It is said that by modern medical treatment, a male can be transformed into a female, and a female into a male.  The body, however, has no connection with the soul.  The body can be changed, either in this life or the next.  Therefore, one who has knowledge of the soul and how the soul transmigrates from one body to another does not pay attention to the body, which is nothing but a covering dress.  Panditah sama-darsinah.  Such a person sees the soul, which is part and parcel of the Supreme Lord.  Therefore he is a sama-darsi, a learned person.”  (Srimad Bhagavatam 9.1.33, purport)


Srila Prabhupada: (To an aspiring disciple considering a transsexual operation) “First of all, you decide whether you are male or female, then be one or the other.  Then, you may enter our temple anytime you like.  But sometimes man, sometimes woman, that is not proper.  Such awkward things cannot be allowed.  It will be disturbing to others.  Anyway, continue to chant Hare Krsna as much as possible.”  (Letter, June 10, 1975)


Srila Prabhupada: “This is the sum and substance of Lord Caitanya’s sankirtana movement.  There is no distinction made between those who are fit and those who are not fit to hear or take part in the sankirtana movement.  It should therefore be preached without discrimination.  The only purpose of the preachers of the sankirtana movement must be to go on preaching without restriction.  That is the way in which Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu introduced this sankirtana movement to the world.”  (Sri Caitanya-caritamrta 1.9.29, purport)


Srila Prabhupada: “Conservative we are not.  Caitanya Mahaprabhu was so strict that He would not even look on a woman, but we are accepting everyone into this movement, regardless of sex, caste, position, or whatever.  Everyone is invited to come chant Hare Krsna.  This is Caitanya Mahaprabhu’s munificence, His liberality.  No we are not conservative.’”  (Srila Prabhupada-Lilamrta, 3.1)


Srila Narayana Maharaja: “I received your letter and became very happy to read that you are inspiring so many devotees by Internet.  My heartly blessings are for you and for all of the members of your preaching program [GALVA-108].  This is a very important service, please continue with this and help all to make progress on the path of pure bhakti.  (Letter to Amara dasa, December 20, 2005)


Amara dasa: “Srila Narayana Maharaja was once asked by one of his temple presidents whether or not gay devotees should be allowed to live in his centers.  He replied that everyone was welcome to join his temples as long as they followed the rules and regulations.  He added that Srila Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada wanted all types of people to join Lord Caitanya’s movement, and this was also his desire.”  (December 5, 2005)


ISKCON Governing Body Commission: “While Srila Prabhupada’s definition of illicit sex is clear [sex outside of marriage and/or for purposes other than procreation], it is also clear that some devotees have difficulty maintaining this initiation vow.  The GBC recognizes this, and suggests that rather than trying to adjust Srila Prabhupada’s definition we should go on with devotional service and humbly and sincerely keep endeavoring to reach the proper standard.  In this regard, Srila Prabhupada writes, ‘In the beginning of Krishna consciousness, one may not fully discharge the injunctions of the Lord, but because one is not resentful of this principle and works sincerely without consideration of defeat and hopelessness, he will surely be promoted to the stage of pure Krishna consciousness. (BG 3.31, purport)’” (GBC Resolution 303, February, 2001)


Hridayananda das Goswami: “A truly spiritual society must constantly seek a balance between the strict codes of varnasrama, and the practical needs of sincere devotees.  There can be no doubt that a significant number of souls, whose external sexual orientation is homosexual, sincerely strive to be Krishna conscious.  It is entirely natural and predictable that a majority of these devotees, as with most heterosexual devotees, will not be suited for lifelong celibacy.  My view of this issue is as follows:


  1. As a general rule, we should appreciate devotees in terms of the sincerity and diligence of their spiritual attempts, given the psychophysical circumstances of their life.  In other words, in any condition of life, if a devotee sincerely strives to please Krishna, that devotee is to be admired.

  2. It is the duty of any society to recognize, and thus encourage, the admirable behavior of its members.  Monogamy, among devotees of any orientation, is an admirable achievement in the context of today’s promiscuous society, and should be thus appreciated and encouraged.

  3. Given the need to balance strict varnasrama with liberal spirituality, I believe that ISKCON should recognize and encourage monogamy among all its members of whatever orientation, and that such recognition and encouragement should take appropriate forms that achieve both purposes: the maintenance of varnasrama and the encouraging of spiritual sincerity.

  4. I am not convinced that marriage is the best means in all cases, but some serious, formal and public recognition and appreciation of gay monogamy is, in my view, in the best interest of ISKCON and its members.”  (Open letter, December 11, 2004)


Swami BV Tripurari: “My opinion regarding gay and lesbian devotees is that they should be honored in terms of their devotion and spiritual progress.  They should cultivate spiritual life from either a celibate status, or in something analogous to a heterosexual monogamous situation.  Gay and lesbian people have always been a part of society from Vedic times to our postmodern times.  They should be accepted for what they are in terms of their sexual orientation and encouraged like everyone else to pursue spiritual life.”  (Letter to Bhakta Alberto, July 2001)


Swami BV Tripurari: “Although my Guru Maharaja [Srila Prabhupada] frowned on homosexuality in general, he was also very practical, flexible, and compassionate.  One of his earliest disciples was a gay man who once related how he had ultimately discussed his sexual orientation with Srila Prabhupada.  He said that at that point Srila Prabhupada said, ‘Then just find a nice boy, stay with him and practice Krsna consciousness.’  I also had the experience of meeting a transsexual who explained her sexual orientation and confusion to Srila Prabhupada before committing to an operation.  She told me that Prabhupada told her, ‘Just pick one or the other [sex] and stick with it.’  Those who knew him well would have expected him to say something like this in both of these incidences.  Again, he was very flexible and compassionate.”  (Sanga: Vol. V, no. 13, June 2003)


Swami BV Tripurari: “Hindu scripture is largely silent on homosexuality, although it may be acknowledged in books such as the Kama Sutra, but not with regard to spiritual progress.  Modern Hinduism for the most part condemns homosexuality but misunderstands it to be an improper choice rather than psychophysical reality that some people are born with, rendering them as attracted to the same sex, as heterosexuals are attracted to the opposite sex.  As modern society has come to better understand this phenomenon, it is also imperative that Hindu traditions do the same if they are to remain vital.  A dynamic approach in doing so might involve encouraging homosexuals to also establish committed relationships in an effort to help them transcend sexuality altogether, as is done in the case of heterosexuals.”  (Sanga: Vol. V, no. 13, June 2003)


Swami B.A. Asrama: “Once, when Srila Prabhupada was leaving after a visit to Honolulu in July of '74, a few of us stayed in the airport terminal with him while most of the other devotees stayed out on the sidewalk and kept a kirtana going.  Satsvarupa Maharaja was reading ISKCON-related newspaper clippings to Srila Prabhupada when Prabhupada interrupted him: ‘I hear Aniruddha [a gay disciple who had fallen away] is here in Hawaii, but he has not come to see me. Do you know?’  One devotee volunteered that Aniruddha was outside with the kirtana party and Prabhupada told him, ‘He may come inside; there is no difficulty.’ The devotee scampered out to retrieve Aniruddha but returned empty-handed.  Prabhupada told him, ‘No, you don't understand. He may come inside; there is NO difficulty!’ The devotee ran out again and Aniruddha, who apparently wasn't spiritually strong at the time, came in wearing cut-off jeans, a T-shirt and a stud in his left ear. He folded his hands and offered pranamas to Srila Prabhupada. ‘So, Aniruddha, how are you?" Srila Prabhupada said. Aniruddha blushed and replied, ‘Actually, Srila Prabhupada, not so good.’ Srila Prabhupada insisted, despite Aniruddha's protests, that Aniruddha sit on the seat next to him (the rest of us were sitting on the floor at Srila Prabhupada's feet), and they exchanged small talk for a minute or two. Then Srila Prabhupada turned to us and said, ‘In Los Angeles temple, he is the beginning.’ It was clear that Srila Prabhupada's vision was different from ours. The feeling I heard expressed among devotees around that time was something like, ‘Poor Aniruddha; Prabhupada loves him so much but he just can't surrender!’ Srila Prabhupada's perspective, however, was obviously different. Although he was not unaware of Aniruddha's difficulties, he simply saw, like Raghunath Bhatta Goswami, that the problems were ephemeral, but the service is eternal, the essence of any devotee's identity.” (GALVA-108 e-group post)

Bhakti Tirtha Swami: “‘Srila Prabhupada, there are prejudices in this movement.’ Prabhupada looked at him and said, ‘Ah.  Someone is thinking you’re the body?  That is their nonsense.  And if you’re disturbed because they see you in that way, then you are also nonsense.’”  (Black Lotus, p. 118, by Steven J. Rosen)


Bhakti Tirtha Swami: “It is quite amazing how most of us can be so prejudiced about so many things and not even know it.  As we read Srila Prabhupada’s books, our own prejudice can easily cause us to see and not to see (pasyann api na pasyati).  I thank you and several others for your compassion and for your tolerance in making efforts to educate your godfamily, so that we can be more authentic servants of the servant.  (Letter to Amara dasa, July 7, 2002)


Bhakti Marga Swami: “Regardless of whatever sexual orientation we may belong to—hetero, bi or homo—we are all endeavoring through the process of Krishna Consciousness by chanting, etc., to reduce the sex appetite and increase the urge to serve Krishna.  In the Ninth Chapter of the Gita, the Lord explains that everyone has the opportunity to accomplish love of Krsna.  So for starters it is recommended that we take direction from a siksa guru and then, to enhance our devotion more, to take diksa [initiation]—oftentimes from the same person who counsels us.  (Letter to Manohara, May 18, 2003)


Bhakti Ananda Goswami: “Humans are masculine and feminine, not just genitally male and female or XY and XX.  For physical, mental, affective/emotional health and ultimately self-realization, people need to understand themselves and be understood by others on their own terms, not indiscriminately lumped-in-together in pastoral care, diagnosis and treatment.  There are so many combinations and variations of the basic types and relationships that ideally there should be no categories and every precious soul should be understood individually.  However, since this is not possible, then at least we can make some effort to understand people a little better, and to stop impersonally merging them all-in-together under too general and simplistic labels like ‘homosexual.’  By daring to leave our comfortable denial to ask the right questions, we can accept the right answers and finally begin to render sex and gender justice to all of our sisters, brothers and others.  This means honoring the basic beingness of every person, and recognizing the primacy of persons over their parts.”  (From the article, Modern Biology and the Concept of a “Third Sex”)


BV Vaishnava Maharaja: “Every congregation and indeed many temples and ashramas around the world have gay and lesbian members. This is only natural. The sad fact remains, however, that many of these good devotees—rare souls that they are—often find they need to secret their inborn natures for fear of being ostracized. I found this the case in many places personally. Although I was “out” with many devotees I had to be discreet in order to remain in the ashrama. This only put undo emphasis on what I needed to transcend above many other misconceptions, especially as a brahmacari and even more now as a sannyasi—when honesty is essential. I am of course no angel but being excluded from the open and friendly atmosphere enjoyed by my dear heterosexual brothers and sisters, and then being ridiculed for not fitting in, was a most cruel experience which was difficult to reconcile. Many devotees were banned and/or even in some places beaten and/or sexually abused. Still, by Sri Sri Nitai-Gauranga’s grace, I managed to use the situation to my advantage as an impetus to take shelter of the Holy Names.”  (Open letter to GALVA-108)

Narahari dasa: "Whatever impermanent karmic identity we have assumed in this lifetime, we can certainly use nicely in Krishna’s service. There is no need to artificially change who we are for now. In fact, we can have fun with our temporary identity in this lifetime by learning to use it in Krishna’s service.  This can be an enjoyable experience as our true eternal identity gradually awakens. For example, if someone is an actor in a movie, they can have a lot of fun playing their role. However, at the end of the day, the actor leaves his character behind and returns to his family. In this present age of Kali Yuga, by the unlimited mercy of Lord Caitanya and Lord Nityananda, anyone, in any condition of life, can take up the process of chanting Krishna’s Holy Names.  By this simple process we can transcend the amnesia of illusion and begin to awaken our original Krishna consciousness. In this way, we will begin to taste the nectar of our eternal, loving relationship with Krishna. For many years I’ve had the honor of performing same-sex marriages and assisting many wonderful souls in the LBGTQ community on their journey back to the Lotus feet of Krishna. If anyone is interested in speaking with me, please feel free to get in contact. I would consider it a great honor. I may or may not be able to help, but it certainly may be worth a try." (Open letter to GALVA-108)

Adi-karta dasa: “In his early brahmacari days [Upendra dasa] had the honor of being Srila Prabhupada’s personal servant for a couple of years.  And I had the honor of being his close friend from 1975 until his death.  Upendraji was always one to speak from the heart.  He related to me once something that he said Srila Prabhupada told him in a private conversation.  Upendra was bemoaning his fate as a homosexual in the Hare Krsna movement, and (according to him) Srila Prabhupada—perhaps tired of his endless moaning—advised him to ‘just find a nice boy then, and settle down!’  This was in a private conversation (not recorded), and what actually transpired was that Upendraji got married to a woman instead, some time later.  But he did tell me this anecdote, I can vouch for that.  And Upendra was, in my experience, an honest and honorable man.  Srila Prabhupada was an absolutely sacred memory for him, the most meaningful thing in his entire life, and it’s hard for me to imagine he would ever make up something and pass it off as ‘Prabhupada said…’”  (Letter to Amara dasa, June 28, 2001)


Shyamasundar: "[May, 1976] One morning in Hawaii, I was standing by Srila Prabhupada’s window overlooking his private garden when a senior disciple named Siddhasvarupa Swami came in.  He began complaining about all of the ‘pretty boys’ and homosexuals in ISKCON and Srila Prabhupada just let him vent, not saying much of anything.  After some time Siddhasvarupa left, not getting the reaction he had wanted.  Prabhupada sat at his desk for a while.  I was feeling really angry toward Siddhasvarupa but also self-conscious about my own sexuality.  Prabhupada sat there quietly and in deep thought.  He then looked over at me briefly and said, ‘What is the difference if a person is held in this material world by a gold chain, or by a silver chain?’  I replied, ‘I don’t know, Srila Prabhupada.’  He continued, “I am glad that Siddhasvarupa is chanting and reading my books, but he is always focusing on everyone else and not on the Supreme Person.  That is the important thing.’”  (Ashe Journal, Vol. II, no. 4)

(Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex, pp. 468-476)


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