Storm in a Tea-Cup
Posted April 18, 2009
This is a sincere appeal to all devotees who are passionate about protecting Srila Prabhupada's house. Can we please adopt a balanced, rational and compassionate perspective regarding the recent homosexual union in Los Angeles blessed by Hridayananda Maharaja? This is my humble request. Please hear me out, and then make up your own minds.
First of all, according to Sarvatma prabhu, who officiated at the ceremony, both Bhakta Josh and Bhakta Stan are devotees, and thus deserve the utmost respect. One of the first principles of devotional service is that we should honour all devotees, no matter at what stage of devotional service they may find themselves. As Srila Rupa Gosvamipada writes in Sri Upadeshamrta, verse 5:
"krsneti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta"
One should mentally honour the devotee who chants the name of Lord Krishna.
Rupa Gosvami's words are very clear: he does not exclude anyone of a particular varna, asrama or body type from his definition of a devotee.
Second of all, these men are straightforward about their sexuality, and moreover are monogamous, vegetarian, philosophically enquiring and upstanding citizens who earn an honest living. Dare I ask how many of our so-called brahminical leaders meet all these qualifications? How many devotees (initiated or not) can claim to be consistently chanting sixteen rounds of the maha-mantra, as Josh is? Or how many of us have the past-life sukriti to be lifelong vegetarians, as Stan is? I offer my humble obeisances to both of them again and again.
Third of all, please assess the value of bridge preaching. At the event celebrating their exchange of vows, the maha-mantra was sung and prasadam was distributed. Do we want to be seen as a bunch of rigid fanatics who chase pious, favourable people away, as has happened so many times in the past? Bhakti is a culture, not a cult.
Fourth of all, Srila Prabhupada wanted us to cultivate this culture of bhakti through the establishment of varna-asrama-dharma, a solid social structure built on Vedic principles in which all kinds and classes of people would be able to find their natural position, and progress in a stable, sane way towards Krishna. Instead, frequently we find the unattractive cult of niyamagraha: a chaotic ossilation between fanatically following the rules and regulations and whimsically disregarding them.
Fifth of all, Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura has instructed us to be "strict with ourselves but lenient with others." I personally am still struggling to follow this simple but profound injunction.
Josh and Stan prabhus, if you are reading this, please accept my apologies for all the unkind and unfair statements others may have made regarding your union. Please do not take offence, but continue instead with your journey towards the source of all varieties of love, Lord Sri Krishna.
Your humble servant, Tulasi devi dasi