Chakra Discussions

Ideal family and third gender

by Vilasa Manjari dasi

Posted April 1, 2005

I've been reading Chakra articles with an open mind and quite some interest. When I opened the "third gender" section, I, a little country girl who hardly ever reads newspapers, didn't even know what this term meant. I found Hrdayananda Goswami's article very interesting and I also read a few other interesting articles.

Somehow, even though I really don't know much psychology and I'm not a great expert in this subject, I feel I have something important that I want to share and that maybe someone would like to read. I have studied the Vedas since childhood and am now interested especially in simple living and Varnasram and, since I'm just starting a family, I urgently read books like Men Are from Mars; Women Are from Venus and papers on dharmic living for grhasthas (Prabhupada's quotes put together by devotees).

One thing I've missed in all the discussions here about the ancient living circumstances of vedic life is that women indeed were with women all of the time back then. They just saw their husbands a few hours every day and, even then, not in so much privacy and intensity.

Prabhupada himself said that men and women used to live in separate quarters -- even sleeping separately -- and this separation of genders is the ideal. The famous book Men Are from Mars; Women Are from Venus explains how all the millions of divorces each year are all about how men and women are totally different and actually have to learn how to cope with each other. (It might be wise since, in modern life, the standard is that men and wife are each other's greatest, uninterrupted company.)

I've had a woman friend who was married to another woman; we studied at the same school (they happened to be vegetarian, Krsna conscious and offering food (all quite in privacy). During that time, I saw how, most of the time, they seemed like really good friends, girl to girl -- no complicated man's ego and woman's emotions crashing or anything.

My speculation is that gays are actually having a good time, missing out on many complex men-women issues which we all actually should miss out on. It was indeed a thought-provoking experience to know them.

My conclusion in the whole matter is that, from the ideal point of view (as Hrdayananda Goswami pointed out in his interesting article about ideals), not only are gay relationships not natural, but even our "normalized modern" marriages are not natural. To have a real vedic family, you need a super-simple life: dedicated wife rolling chapatis (yes, ayurvedically, that's best anyways), all the family in one place -- grandma, grandpa, brother, brother's wife. I live with a Bangladeshi man, so I know what a real family means -- he misses it a lot. (In Bangladesh, families are even more traditional than in India -- it may be one of the most traditional societies in the world.)

For me, to view a gay or a "normal marriage" (even my own!) is to admit that family values are hardly existing anymore at all. The romance and sex ideal of western life is hard to overcome, and families are scattered in different cities and different countries -- what to speak about the poor grandmas who sit alone in some institution, or all the isolated people.

Krsna consciousness is a slow process, but Prabhupada had high, high ideals for us, even to go as far as wanting a whole varnasram system (that obviously includes the old kind of really real family). I think, before going somewhere, we have to realize where we are, do our best (or whatever little we can do actually) and not judge -- but also not blindly accept everything society is feeding us.

I hope someone enjoyed and understood my article a tiny bit (however unprofessionally written), and that Krsna will thereby be pleased with me. This is really a quite unprofessional letter. Sorry if I messed something up or offended someone -- I didn't mean to -- but, from my point of view in life, I think I might very well be correct. Who, after all, doesn't think that about their views?