What About Sex?

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To speak ill of sexual pleasure was certainly not a strategic move for one who wanted to create followers among the Lower East Side hippies during the 1960s in New York. But Prabhupada never considered changing his message. When told that Americans didn't like to hear that sex was only for conceiving children, Prabhupada had replied, "I cannot change the philosophy to please the Americans."

"What about sex?" asked the ISKCON attorney, Steve Goldsmith, one evening, speaking out from the rear of the crowded temple.

"Sex should only be with one's wife," Prabhupada said, "and that is also restricted. Sex is for the propagation of Krishna conscious children. My spiritual master used to say that to beget Krishna conscious children he was prepared to have sex a hundred times. Of course, that is most difficult in this age. Therefore, he remained a brahmacari."

"But sex is a very strong force," Mr. Goldsmith challenged. "What a man feels for a woman is undeniable."

"Therefore in every culture there is the institution of marriage," Prabhupada replied. "You can get yourself married and live peacefully with one woman, but the wife should not be used as a machine for sense gratification. Sex should be restricted to once a month and only for the propagation of children."

Hayagriva, who was seated just to Swamiji's left, beside the large, dangling cymbal, spoke out suddenly. "Only once a month?" And with a touch of facetious humor he added loudly, "Better to forget the whole thing!"

"Yes! That's it! Very good boy." Swamiji laughed, and others joined him. "It is best not to think of it. Best just to chant Hare Krishna." And he held up his hands as if he were chanting on a strand of beads. "That way we will be saved from so much botheration. Sex is like the itching sensation, that's all. And as when we scratch, it gets worse, so we should tolerate the itching and ask Krishna to help us. It is not easy. Sex is the highest pleasure in the material world, and it is also the greatest bondage."

But Steve Goldsmith was shaking his head. Prabhupada looked at him, smiling: "There is still a problem?"

"It's just that... well, it's been proved dangerous to repress the sex drive. There's a theory that we have wars because . . ."

"People are eating meat," Prabhupada interrupted. "As long as people eat meat, there will be war. And if a man eats meat, he will be sure to have illicit sex also."

Steve Goldsmith was an influential friend and supporter of ISKCON. But Prabhupada would not change the philosophy of Krishna consciousness "to please the Americans."

- from the Prabhupada Lilamrita, by Satsvarupa dasa Goswami