Open Letter to the SSPT
Posted March 13, 2005
Hare Krishna, Please accept my humble obeisances. All glories to Srila Prabhupada. Uncertain of what exactly your plans are with this initiative since there is no description on the website, I'm not sure how relevant my comment will be or if it should be placed under a different category. Nonetheless, knowing Anuttama prabhu, this looked as good a place as any and it certainly ties in with the topic of grhastha ashrama.
To put it concisely, there needs to be something instituted within ISKCON, particularly ISKCON America, that recognizes there are devotees who due to their orientation will be unable to be traditional grhasthas. At the same time, the needs of such devotees are analogous if not identical in most respects. As we know most of us who are conditioned souls in this world are not meant for life-long brahmacarya or sannyasa, but have relationship needs. These needs should be dovetailed in as KC a way as possible. This same principle applies to those who are gay or homosexual as much as it does to those who are heterosexual. So, my suggestion is that there needs to be something done on an institutional level to encourage those who are gay but need to go through something like the grhastha ashrama. At present there has been nothing done on an institutional level and there is little, on a practical level, to encourage gay and lesbian devotees within ISKCON who struggle with trying to balance their emotional needs with their orientation and spiritual aspirations. There has in fact been much to discourage them to leave ISKCON and head elsewhere, either outside of the Gaudiya family or within the Gaudiya family, for example such as Tripurari Swami's shelter whose policy of inclusiveness and understanding has attracted many such devotees. There are a large number of us who would like to see more encouragement and inclusiveness from ISKCON, including myself. Recently, H.H. Hridayananda Maharaja has written a public statement and a follow up essay on this very need.
I would be happy to correspond further with anyone from the SSPT on this issue for the betterment of their understanding of it or ideas on how it can be addressed within ISKCON. I should also add that this is a particularly important issue in America right now not only for community development within ISKCON, but in terms of how Americans perceive ISKCON and its inclusive or exclusive policies.
Tripurari dasa (HDG)