Reply to Bhaktin Ayu Dwi
by Gaurachandra dasi
Posted December 12, 2002

Dear Bhaktin Ayu Dwi,

Hare Krsna. Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada.

I wanted to respond to your question, "Why Galva?" My name is Gaura dasi and I am a member of Galva. My service in the Sankirtana mission of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is that of a preacher. I enjoy preaching Krsna Concsiousness.

Before I get to Galva, I want to share some of my personal experiences which may help you to understand its purpose.

Once upon a time, when I was a temple brahmacarini, there lived an elderly woman in the asrama. She was a very quiet woman and never talked to anybody, except to say Hare Krsna. One day, however, I noticed that she was crying. I found out the woman was South American and did not speak any English. She was crying because of lonliness and isolation. My heart natually broke -- we as women by nature have very soft hearts. I took it upon myself to teach her English to remove myself for just a few minutes from MY self absorbtion, MY important service, MY glorious postition as an American citizen, MY wonderful healthy body...

Months passed, and we began to communicate. She learned several hundred English words and was very dedicated to learing. At the age of 60, learning a foreign language is no easy task. I learned about her life, growing up an orphan -- both of her parents were killed when she was a child. She showed me photos of her family, how she became a devotee and so on... If only all devotees could hear her story. What an amazing woman!

Time passed, and a few more Spanich-speaking devotees came to the temple -- oh, we had Spanish brahmacaris, but you know, men cannot associate with women -- finally this devotee made some friends. Together she and her Spanish friends began to talk up storms! She came to life, she was becoming happy and found within herself a new freedom.

They would read the Spanish translations of Prabhupada's books, she began to chant the Sanksrit during Bhagavatam classes, she listened to tapes in both English and Russian. Somehow she got Spanish Bhagavatams and made a committment to read the verse and purport before every class so that she would not miss a single word.

The dedication she had, I will never know. For those of us who take devotional service for granted, just stop and take a few minutes away from self-absorption to understand the nature of others. That was Prabhupada's mood.

When she found others like her, she stopped crying, her pain was removed. This pain can only be understood by persons who have lived it. Others can never relate or have any clue. My life is very different from hers, but we are both very similar. The compassion of a Vaisnava is to stop and inquire, "Who are you?"

We may feel that we as devotees have no time... too busy... too much service... to stop and take that time. We claim the most personal and highest philosophy, yet exspect others to be our robots. Everyone should be the same, ultimately impersonal. But we are not mayavadis, we are Vaisnava.

My real joy in devotional service began when I knew I was not alone, that there were others like me, and they too are serving the Lord.

Why Galva? so I can a have a place to grow, role models that are showing the way towards Krsna.

I also spent many days crying alone, tears the devotees never saw. Every gay or lesbian devotee can tell their story of suffering and pain. Most have left Krsna Consciousness, and some have died, for example, the suicide death of the young man at the Potomac temple this past summer.

Who stopped to take the time and ask why he killed himself? Who cared? Who was too busy with their own service? I took the time to inquire because his pain must have been very great. I learned that he killed himself as an act of love and loyalty towards Prabhupada. He killed himself for being a homosexual. If this body is not favorable for devotional service, kill it. Today he is safer as a ghost, today the devotees cannot hurt him anymore. When will the devotees stop hurting each other? Out of ignorance, out of impersonalism, so-called brahmanas, so-called ISKCON that is supposed to represent Srila Prabhupada, a life has been taken.

Do we turn our heads?

Devotees who think that gay people are just about sex, that is because they are just about sex. Devotees who think that a gay person sees their partner as a sex object feel that way because they themselves cannot imagine their own wives or husbands as anything but sex objects.

This whole sex life is *over-rated* -- it's not what it's cracked up to be. A devotee who understands this, gay or straight, makes advancement. Prabhupada never claimed to be a bedroom monitor, that was not his purpose -- his purpose was to teach us and break us from bad habits.

A devotee should see their partner, family, and friends, gay or straight, as spirit souls and non-separate from Krsna, that these people are part and parcels of God, not meant for our enjoyment but for His service. Sex life is irrelevant. We have learned the true essence of devotional service.

Sex life, in the end, is up to Yamaraja to judge. I cannot claim to be Yamaraja, I will never claim to be another devotees bedroom monitor. Even the grhastas who fail to follow garbo samscara perfectly will have to deal with Yamaraja, not with me. Just see how puffed up we are...

To illustrate the mercy of a Vaisnava, I will give one more story before closing...

Once upon a time when Prabhupada was alive, there lived a devotee named Sudhama who was gay. Prabhupada had a very special liking towards him and even promised that he would personally petition Lord Caitanya on his behalf because of his wonderful service.

Back in those days the temples had photos of Prabhupada in the vyasasans. It is not our tradition to make murtis, it's not acceptable to make a murti prior to the departure of one's guru. Today, our temples have so many murtis of Prabhupada in the vyasasan, and that is okay. Back then, it was not okay. As far as I know, it has never been done prior to the disappearance of any of our acharyas. Our murtis came after Prabhupada left the planet.

So Prabhupada understood that Sudhama was having a difficult time. Yes, Prabhupada understood that Sudhama was gay, he even gave him sannyasa, hoping to purify the young man.

Prabhupada broke all the rules... He allowed a murti to be made of himself to help Sudhama overcome his material problems.

In our ISKCON history, the first Prabhupada-murti ever made was made as a gift to a gay man from his own beloved guru. In our ISKCON history, Prabhupada broke all the rules. He gave women gayatri mantra, he settled on only 16 rounds of maha mantra instead of 64 rounds daily, he allowed a murti to be made of himself out of compassion. According to time, place, and circumstance, all Prabhupada wanted was that we go back to Godhead. Prabhupada respected Allen Ginsberg, also a part of our history, who was also an openly gay man.

Today, the orginal murti of Sudhama is worshiped in the Puerto Rico temple.

So why Galva?

If you want to, or if anybody wants to take a few minutes out of their self-absorption to see into the hearts of gay and lesbian devotees, to share our tears and show us the path back to Godhead, to share our joys and nectar of devotioanl service I am always willing to write and share my life and to listen, really listen in a personal comapassionate way.

I have no secrets, I have no shame. All I have is firm faith in our process and the Holy Name.

your humble servant,
Gaurachandra dasi