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  • As Garuda is the enemy of snakes, as impersonalism is the enemy of devotion, so lust is the enemy of the conditioned soul. It is the first of three gateways to hell. (Bg. 16.21) Lust is so powerful that it may seem impossible to overcome. The brahmacari vows to fight sex desire, and may sometimes think he is winning the battle, only to find himself again plunged into the ocean of material desire.
    This is due to previous samskaras (impressions in the citta, subconsciousness). Every activity, thought, and sensual experience of a conditioned soul produces a samskara. Each samskara becomes added to a stockpile of mental impressions that is not vanquished even at death. Sexual acts, or even thoughts of sex, produce particularly strong samskaras. These samskaras influence the disposition (vritti) of a person and give rise to innumerable vasanas (material desires).
    These samskaras, impressions from previous births, are embedded deep in the subconsciousness, and thus even a devotee seriously practicing brahmacarya may still have strong sexual desires. Even an apparently pure brahmacari may have latent sexual desires that can emerge and destroy him at any time, as was the case with Ajamila. (SB 6.1.56-63) How can we overcome this eternal enemy, this destroyer of knowledge and self-realization? (Bg. 3.39.41) What can we do if we are sexually agitated?
    There is a process to overcome sex attraction, and that process is the system of devotional service. The practice of brahmacarya is essential in, but subsidiary to, the ultimate purifying process of devotional service. Only by devotional service can material desires be entirely overcome. As with Ayurvedic treatment, the cure for the disease may not be immediate, but it will be complete. The malady is deeply rooted and complex. We have been dominated by sexual desires for millions of lifetimes, and it is not easy to shake them off. To overcome it we will have to take a serious, mature decision to continue with devotional service throughout our lives. That is the only remedy.
    First of all, we have to understand that everyone is sexually agitated. Apart from completely pure devotees, who are very rare in this world, everyone from Brahma down to the ants and bugs is disturbed by sexual attraction. Even sannyasis and other advanced devotees may be subject to such attacks from maya at any time. But because they have practiced controlling these gross desires, they are able to remain steady in Krishna consciousness.
    We should not become discouraged, thinking that sex desire is impossible to overcome. We must have the conviction that it is possible. Prahlada Maharaja compares sex agitation to an itch. (SB 7.9.45) It irritates, and we want to scratch it. But if we scratch it, it gets worse. Better to tolerate without scratching; then in course of time, the irritation will gradually go away. We have to be realistic that in almost all cases it will take considerable time, patience, and faith to conquer this most basic and overwhelming of all material desires. We have to go on in Krishna consciousness, praying to Krishna for help in controlling the rascal mind.
    In the Bhagavad-gita Krishna admits that it is very difficult to curb the restless mind, but assures that it is possible by constant practice and by detachment. Shrila Prabhupada: “By training, one can forget sex life.” (Conversation, 30/08/73) Traditionally, brahmacaris were trained rigidly from birth. That was when the whole atmosphere was much more favorable for spiritual advancement. But we have been brought up in a highly disturbed society, with no training in sense control—rather, the opposite. How is it possible, then, for us to control the mind and senses and be rigid brahmacaris?
    No doubt, it is very difficult to control the mind and senses, especially in the modern age. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. Unless we at least try, we are not even civilized human beings, what to speak of being spiritual aspirants.
    And certainly Krishna will help us, if we really want to be helped. Krishna has come as Lord Chaitanya to help us in our most fallen position with the best of all advice: chant Hare Krishna. Everything is possible for those who chant the holy names with sincerity and patience. Chanting cleans the heart. Ceto-darpana-marjanam. Lord Chaitanya said, iha haite sarva-siddhi haibe sabara: “By chanting the Hare Krishna mantra, everyone will get all perfection.” (-Chaitanya-bhagavata Madhya 23.78)
    As explained by Shrila Prabhupada: “Everyone wants to fulfill lusty desires. So unless one is in the modes of goodness or transcendental, everyone will like. That is the material world, rajas-tamah. Just like I am a hungry man. There is foodstuff. I want to eat it. So if I take by force, that is illegal, and if I pay for it, then it is legal. But I am the hungry man, I want it. This is going on. Everyone is lusty. Therefore they say ‘legalized prostitution.’ They want it.
    “So marriage is something legalized, that’s all. The passion and the desire is the same, either married or not married. So this Vedic law says, ‘Better married. Then you will be controlled.’ So he will not be so lusty as without married life. So the grihastha life is a concession—the same lusty desire under rules and regulation. Without married life he will commit rape in so many ways, so better let him be satisfied with one, both the man and woman, and make progress in spiritual life.
    “Everyone in this material world has come with these lusty desires and greediness. Even demigods like Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma became lusty after his daughter. And Lord Shiva became mad after Mohini-murti. So what to speak of us insignificant creatures? Lusty desire is there. That is the material world.
    “Unless one is fully Krishna conscious, this lusty desire cannot be checked. It is not possible. That is tapasya, that voluntarily we accept some inconvenience. Tapasa brahmacaryena. Tapasya means first brahmacarya, how to avoid sex desire. That is first step. Where is their tapasya? It is very difficult to do this tapasya. Therefore Chaitanya Mahaprabhu has given harer nama. If you chant Hare Krishna mantra regularly, you’ll be cured. Otherwise, regular tapasya is almost impossible nowadays.” (Conversation, 11/05/75)
    We have to chant Hare Krishna, not just mechanically, but really calling out to Krishna for help to follow all the eight features of brahmacarya properly. Shrila Prabhupada writes: “If we stick to the principle of chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra offenselessly, then, by the grace of Shrila Haridasa Thakura, we may be saved from the allurement of women. However, if we are not very strict in chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, we may at any time fall victim to women.” (SB 5.6.3)
    The Vedanta-sutra (4.4.22) refers to anavrittih shabdat, liberation by sound. Chanting loudly and clearly greatly helps in overcoming lust. In traditional gurukulas, brahmacaris chant Vedic mantras for hours daily. Along with chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra, devotees may take up the sadhana of loudly chanting verses from Bhagavad-gita, Shrimad-Bhagavatam, or other scriptures or stotras.
    Chanting should be accompanied by regular hearing about the realities of material life. The Shrimad-Bhagavatam narrates the activities of great personalities like Yayati, Pururava, and Saubhari who found out after years wasted in attempting to enjoy sex that there is no enjoyment in it at all. Their stories are recorded so that intelligent people can come to the same conclusion simply by hearing about them.
    Hearing about Krishna’s pastimes with the gopis is specifically recommended to vanquish lusty desires in the heart. (SB 10.33.39) However, “If you become more lusty by seeing or hearing the pastimes of Krishna with Radharani, that means you are not fit. Stop it. Don’t be foolish.” (Lecture, 30/03/75)
    Hearing accompanied by contemplation leads to realization. The real thing is to become totally disgusted with the thought of sex. But until we reach that stage, we have to carefully control the mind and body by intelligent understanding that sex is not in our interest. Therefore the intelligence should be applied to consider the following points:
    The temporary nature of the beauty of young women; the young girls of today are the old women of tomorrow.
    The illusory nature of that beauty. Try imagining how beautiful a woman’s body would be minus it’s skin!
    Sex does not bring happiness. The nondevotees are having sex, but they are miserable. The devotees are happy, and the more they advance and give up material attachments, the happier they become.
    On the contrary, engagement in sex, licit or illicit, inevitably leads to suffering. It is unavoidable. (See “Sex—The Cause of Unlimited Suffering,”) Sex desire, although much appreciated by people in general, causes pain to the heart.
    Sex is disappointing, firstly because the anticipated delight is never fulfilled in the actual act. In other words, it is not as enjoyable as maya would have us believe.
    Sex is frustrating, because desires for it are unlimited, but physical ability to engage in it is limited to a few minutes at a time.
    Devotees have higher knowledge and experience of a higher taste. Just as a rich man can never savor the coarse rice relished by the poor man, so even a fallen devotee cannot enjoy the illusory pleasure of sex, even though he tries.
    We made a commitment at the time of initiation. For one who knows the difference between right and wrong and has taken a vow not to sin, to willingly engage in illicit sex will bring serious reactions.
    The most important reason for refraining from illicit sex, or from even thinking of sex, is that it is not pleasing to guru and Krishna.
    According to Shrila Shridhara Svami, by meditation on the Supreme Lord one can overcome lust and other mental disturbances. (SB 11.28.40) More specifically, the Bhagavatam states that sex desire can be overcome by meditation on Krishna’s eyebrows. (SB 3.28.32) This can be very effective. We can meditate on the Deity we are serving, or on pictures of Krishna—Krishna will help us. Shrila Prabhupada also recommended Deity worship for those very troubled by lusty desires. We may think ourselves too impure to go anywhere near the Deities, but this process is prescribed because if one is at all principled, when he comes in the presence of the Deities he must force his mind to stop thinking of sex. And gradually, by performing this intimate service, a conscientious devotee will become so attracted to Krishna that all lower desires will become insignificant.
    Don’t play games with the mind. It is useless to meditate on sense gratification and also hope to give it up. (SB 11.22.56) Better than meditating on sex is meditating on the consequences of it. Any sane person should consider the suffering that accrues from sexual activity and resolve not to indulge in it.
    Habitually looking at women and thinking of them plunges a person into the ocean of lusty desires and drives him mad. There is no question of spiritual advancement for such a person. Conversely, one who gives up the bad habit of looking at women with lusty intentions will automatically become more peaceful in mind. What to speak of not looking at women, a brahmacari should not even look at animals engaged in sexual affairs, remembering that the great yogi Saubhari Muni fell down by seeing the copulation of fish. (SB 9.6.39-53)
    Somehow or other the mind must be wrenched away from sense gratification and fixed on Krishna. Tell yourself: “If you want to have sex, you can. It’s not difficult to arrange. Everyone is having sex. But if you want Krishna, that is something else. So either go ahead, get married, do it, or forget it altogether.”
    As stated in Shrimad-Bhagavatam (7.15.22), asankalpaj jayet kamam: By making plans with determination, one should give up lusty desires for sense gratification. Asankalpat can be translated as, “By not making plans for sex; by not thinking about it; by not visualizing it; by not day-dreaming about it.” In his commentary, Shrila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura suggests bhogarhata-buddhi varjanat as a synonym for asankalpat. This basically means, “by giving up the enjoying mentality.” Shrila Vishvanatha Cakravarti Thakura comments: “Asankalpat means that even if lust arises from remembrance or seeing of a woman, a person is determined not to think, ‘This woman is to be enjoyed by me;’ thus he conquers lust.”
    One technique to control the mind is to ignore it. “A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires—that enter like rivers into the ocean, which is ever being filled but is always still—can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires.” (Bg. 2.70) “By tolerance alone can one conquer desires and avarice.” (SB 1.9.27)
    So many nonsense thoughts enter our minds. If instead of picking up on them we simply ignore them, they will naturally and quickly die, to be replaced by other thoughts. Therefore we have to train our minds to think of Krishna. Sa vai manah krishna-padaravindayoh: Maharaja Ambarisha engaged in various activities of devotional service but first of all he fixed his mind on Krishna. (SB 9.4.18) Philosophical discussion between devotees, attempting to understand the philosophy of Krishna consciousness “from different angles of vision” (as Shrila Prabhupada encouraged us to do), gives the mind meaningful subject matter to meditate on and makes it strong. “One should not be lazy in the matter of understanding the philosophical conclusions of devotional service, for such discussions strengthen the mind. Thus one’s mind becomes attached to Shri Krishna.” (Cc. Adi 2.117)
    Bhaktivinoda Thakura has suggested that devotees harassed by morbid desires for sexual enjoyment meditate on Krishna’s pastime of killing Shankhacuda. Shankhacuda wanted to enjoy with the gopis. Similarly, we should understand that our desire to enjoy sex is demoniac, for all living entities are prakriti and are meant to be enjoyed by Krishna. So we should loudly cry out to Krishna that, just as He killed the demon Shankhacuda, may He please kill our demoniac desires.
    There are many suitable prayers to help us overcome sexual agitation. In Shrimad-Bhagavatam there is a prayer, “May Sanat-kumara protect me from lusty desires.” (SB 6.8.17) In the purport Shrila Prabhupada writes, “Lusty desires are very strong in everyone, and they are the greatest impediment to the discharge of devotional service. Therefore those who are very much influenced by lusty desires are advised to take shelter of Sanat-kumara, the great brahmacari devotee.” Another nice prayer is found in Chaitanya-caritamrita (Madhya 22.16):
    kamadinam kati na katidha palita durnideshas
    tesham jata mayi na karuna na trapa nopashantih
    utshrijyaitan atha yadu-pate sampratam labdha-buddhis
    tvam ayatah sharanam abhayam mam niyunkshvatma-dasye
    “O my Lord, there is no limit to the unwanted orders of lusty desires. Although I have rendered them so much service, they have not shown any mercy to me. I have not been ashamed to serve them, nor have I even desired to give them up. O my Lord, head of the Yadu dynasty, recently, however, my intelligence has been awakened, and now I am giving them up. Due to transcendental intelligence, I now refuse to obey the unwanted orders of these desires, and I now come to you to surrender myself at your fearless lotus feet. Kindly engage me in your personal service and save me.” Then there is the classic prayer of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu:
    ayi nanda-tanuja kinkaram
    patitam mam vishame bhavambudhau
    kripaya tava pada-pankaja-
    sthita-dhuli-sadrisham vicintaya
    “O son of Nanda Maharaja (Krishna), I am your eternal servitor, yet somehow or other I have fallen into the ocean of birth and death. Please pick me up from this ocean of death and place me as one of the atoms at your lotus feet.” (Shikshashtakam 5)
    We have no other shelter but Krishna, as Shrila Prabhupada explained: “Our most difficult position is sex. Krishna, maya, has given such a propensity—sex—that it will create disturbance. Even though you are rigid and vowed and you are doing nicely, sometimes, especially at night, you are disturbed. Therefore, suratau—Krishna is the most expert in this conjugal love, therefore we have to admit, surrender to Krishna, suratau pangor. We are very much feeble and very slow and so far as our sex impulse is concerned, here it is especially mentioned Madana-mohana. Sex impulse is called Cupid, Madana. If we become staunch devotees of Krishna these material sex impulses will vanish. Because even Cupid becomes attracted by Krishna. We are attracted by Cupid, but Cupid is attracted by Krishna, therefore Krishna is Madana-mohana. That is the only remedy. Yadavadhi mama cetah krishna-padaravinde. If you stick to the lotus feet of Krishna—‘Krishna please save me’—then this material thing, sex agitation, will not disturb you. This is the only way. Therefore it is said, ‘Madana-mohana.’ Our spiritual life is hampered very strongly by this sex impulse, but it is material so we try to tolerate.
    “Just tolerate a little, and chant Hare Krishna, pray to Krishna, ‘Please save me from these disturbances.’ And we should materially also control. Control means atyaharah prayasash ca prajalpo niyamagrahah. Atyaharah means too much eating, that is also agitating. So everything can be controlled by Krishna’s grace. He is Madana-mohana; therefore our first business is to surrender to Madana-mohana and establish our relationship with Him. ‘My dear Lord Krishna, I have so long forgotten You.’ That song is sung by Shrila Bhaktivinoda Thakura, manasa deho geho jo kichu mora, arpilun tuwa pade nanda-kishora. This is full surrender. Then Krishna answers, aham tvam sarva-papebhyo mokshayishyami ma shucah. He will protect us, so tams titikshasva bharata. There are many disturbances. So Krishna says, ‘Tolerate, and do your business faithfully.’ Chant Hare Krishna, follow the rules and regulations, and remain fully surrendered at the lotus feet of Madana-mohana, there will be no more disturbance.” (Lecture, 08/04/75) (Shrila Prabhupada also described that unless one is captivated by the beauty of Madana-mohana, then he will be Madana-dahana, troubled by the arrows of Cupid. See Cc. Adi 1.19 Purport to understand more about approaching Madana-mohana.)
    Perfection is not achieved in a day. We may stumble while climbing a mountain, but we have to re-gather our strength and determination and resume the climb, until we become so adept that we don’t slip anymore. Ultimately, we have to develop a superlatively higher taste in Krishna consciousness. We have to actually get to the stage where we’re always experiencing great bliss.
    To get to the top of the mountain and onto the plateau takes much endeavor. What is required is full surrender of mind, body, and words, twenty-four hours a day, forever, and nothing less. It definitely is possible, for that is the promise of guru and Krishna. But we have to become qualified to receive their mercy.
    Lord Krishna instructed Uddhava (SB 11.20.27-29) that a devotee should continue in devotional service without becoming depressed by his inability to immediately overcome sense desire. These texts and purports are so relevant in this regard that they have been reproduced here in full.
    TRANSLATION
    Having awakened faith in the narrations of my glories, being disgusted with all material activities, knowing that all sense gratification leads to misery, but still being unable to renounce all sense enjoyment, My devotee should remain happy and worship Me with great faith and conviction. Even though he is sometimes engaged in sense enjoyment, My devotee knows that all sense gratification leads to a miserable result, and he sincerely repents such activities.
    PURPORT
    The beginning stage of pure devotional service is described here by the Lord. A sincere devotee has practically seen that all material activities lead only to sense gratification and all sense gratification leads only to misery. Thus a devotee’s sincere desire is to engage twenty-four hours a day in the loving service of Lord Krishna without any personal motivation. The devotee sincerely desires to be established in his constitutional position as the Lord’s eternal servitor, and he prays to the Lord to elevate him to this exalted position. The word anishvara indicates that because of one’s past sinful activities and bad habits one may not immediately be able to completely extinguish the enjoying spirit. The Lord here encourages such a devotee not to be overly depressed or morose but to remain enthusiastic and to go on with his loving service. The word nirvinna indicates that a sincere devotee, although somewhat entangled in the remnants of sense gratification, is completely disgusted with material life and under no circumstances willingly commits sinful activities. In fact, he avoids every kind of materialistic activity. The word kaman basically refers to sex attraction and its by-products in the form of children, home and so forth. Within the material world, the sex impulse is so strong that even a sincere candidate in the loving service of the Lord may sometimes be disturbed by sex attraction or by lingering sentiments for wife and children. A pure devotee certainly feels spiritual affection for all living entities, including the so-called wife and children, but he knows that material bodily attraction leads to no good, for it simply entangles one and one’s so-called relatives in a miserable chain reaction of fruitive activities. The word dridha-nishcaya (“steadfast conviction”) indicates that in any circumstance a devotee is completely determined to go on with his prescribed duties for Krishna. Thus he thinks, “By my previous shameful life my heart is polluted with many illusory attachments. Personally I have no power to stop them. Only Lord Krishna within my heart can remove such inauspicious contamination. But whether the Lord removes such attachments immediately or lets me go on being afflicted by them, I will never give up my devotional service to Him. Even if the Lord places millions of obstacles in my path, and even if because of my offenses I go to hell, I will never for a moment stop serving Lord Krishna. I am not interested in mental speculation and fruitive activities; even if Lord Brahma personally comes before me offering such engagements, I will not be even slightly interested. Although I am attached to material things I can see very clearly that they lead to no good because they simply give me trouble and disturb my devotional service to the Lord. Therefore, I sincerely repent my foolish attachments to so many material things, and I am patiently awaiting Lord Krishna’s mercy.”
    The word prita indicates that a devotee feels exactly like the son or subject of the Supreme Personality of Godhead and is very attached to his relationship with the Lord. Therefore, although sincerely lamenting occasional lapses into sense enjoyment, he never gives up his enthusiasm to serve Lord Krishna. If a devotee becomes too morose or discouraged in devotional service, he may drift into an impersonal consciousness or give up his devotional service to the Lord. Therefore, the Lord here advises that although one should sincerely repent, he should not become chronically depressed. One should understand that because of his past sins he must occasionally suffer disturbances from the material mind and senses, but one should not therefore become a devotee of detachment, as do the speculative philosophers. Although one may desire detachment to purify one’s devotional service to the Lord, if one becomes more concerned with renunciation than with acting for the pleasure of Lord Krishna, he is misunderstanding the position of loving devotional service. Faith in Lord Krishna is so powerful that in due course of time it will automatically award detachment and perfect knowledge. If one gives up Lord Krishna as the central object of one’s worship and concentrates more on knowledge and detachment, one will become deviated from one’s progress in going back home, back to Godhead. A sincere devotee of the Lord must be sincerely convinced that simply by the strength of devotional service and the mercy of Lord Krishna he will achieve everything auspicious in life. One must believe that Lord Krishna is all-merciful and that He is the only real goal of one’s life. Such determined faith combined with a sincere desire to give up sense enjoyment will carry one past the obstacles of this world.
    The words jata-shraddhah mat-kathasu are most significant here. By faithful hearing of the mercy and glories of the Lord one will gradually be freed from all material desire and clearly see at every moment the utter frustration of sense gratification. Chanting the glories of the Lord with firm faith and conviction is a tremendously powerful spiritual process that enables one to give up all material association.
    There is actually nothing inauspicious in the devotional service of the Lord. Occasional difficulties experienced by a devotee are due to his previous material activities. On the other hand, the endeavor for sense gratification is completely inauspicious. Thus sense gratification and devotional service are directly opposed to each other. In all circumstances one should therefore remain the Lord’s sincere servant, always believing in His mercy. Then one will certainly go back home, back to Godhead.
    TRANSLATION
    When an intelligent person engages constantly in worshipping Me through loving devotional service as described by Me, his heart becomes firmly situated in Me. Thus all material desires within the heart are destroyed.
    PURPORT
    The material senses are engaged in gratifying the concoctions of the mind, causing many types of material desires to become prominent, one after another. One who constantly engages in the devotional service of the Lord by hearing and chanting the Lord’s transcendental glories with firm faith gets relief from the harassment of material desires. By serving the Lord one becomes strengthened in the conviction that Shri Krishna is the only actual enjoyer and all others are meant to share the Lord’s pleasure through devotional service. A devotee of the Lord situates Shri Krishna on a beautiful throne within his heart and there offers the Lord constant service. Just as the rising sun gradually eliminates all trace of darkness, the Lord’s presence within the heart causes all material desires there to weaken and eventually disappear. The words mayi hridi sthite (”when the heart is situated in Me”) indicate that an advanced devotee sees Lord Krishna not only within his own heart but within the hearts of all living creatures. Thus a sincere devotee who chants and hears the glories of Shri Krishna should not be discouraged by the remnants of material desires within the heart. He should faithfully wait for the devotional process to naturally purify the heart of all contamination.

    The above texts refer to devotees who are fixed in their devotional determination, yet still subject to disturbance. Those who are more neophyte and agitated may try to forcibly suppress their desires. However, such a process cannot ultimately be successful, for desires cannot be overcome unless they are purified. Like pressing on a bump in a carpet, a suppressed desire simply comes up elsewhere. A brahmacari struggling with sex desire may not like to admit his predicament even to himself. But if he clearly has problems with gluttony, anger, or other contaminations, he should know it to be the same enemy—sex desire—manifesting in a different way. It is best for such a brahmacari to admit his difficulty and face up to it with intelligence. Biting the teeth and straining to hold on eventually leads to collapse.
    Devotees who feel excessively agitated, whose minds are always disturbed by lusty desires, had better consult a senior devotee for help. Shrila Rupa Gosvami recommends in his Upadeshamrita that devotees reveal their minds in confidence to others. Discussing spiritual difficulties with advanced devotees helps in overcoming them.
    We should know that there is no easy way out. You can’t just take a pill to stop sex desire. There is no instant mantra, tantra, yantra, kavaca, or astrological stone that makes material desires vanish. And although mechanical means, such as restricting association with women and dietary control, will help, the real magic formula is Krishna consciousness, pure devotional service.
    kecit kevalaya bhaktya
    vasudeva-parayanah
    agham dhunvanti kartsnyena
    niharam iva bhaskarah
    “Only a rare person who has adopted complete, unalloyed devotional service to Krishna can uproot the weeds of sinful actions with no possibility that they will revive. He can do this by discharging devotional service, just as the sun can immediately dissipate fog by its rays.” (SB 6.1.15)
    Shrila Prabhupada: “Why are you induced by sex life? Stop it by Krishna consciousness. If you devote your whole life in Krishna consciousness you will not be agitated by any sex life. If one is actually advanced in Krishna consciousness, he will deride, ‘Huh! Nonsense! What is this?’ That is Krishna conscious advancement. The only remedy is Krishna consciousness.” (Conversation, 28/05/74)
    There is no other solution. We have to apply ourselves to Krishna consciousness very seriously, and when Krishna sees our sincerity He will bless us, and gradually all these dirty things will go away. As Shrila Prabhupada replied when asked what to do about lust, “You have to become Krishna conscious, otherwise there is no solution to this problem.” (-The devotee who asked was Dina Bandhu dasa.) “It is only by the grace of the Supreme Lord that one can be protected from the allurement of lusty material desires. The Lord gives protection to devotees who are always engaged in His transcendental loving service.” (SB 3.12.32)
    As stated by Shrila Narottama dasa Thakura, kama krishna-karmarpane: lusty desires should be redirected towards the service of Krishna. This is practical. A devotee who develops the desire to please Krishna, and is constantly absorbed in His service, automatically overcomes material lust.
    To maintain a constant service mood requires the steadiness of the mode of goodness. Steady brahmacarya is also possible only for those on the platform of goodness. Ati-brahmacarya, “extreme brahmacarya” may be manifested as artificial austerities or misogyny, but these are symptoms of the mode of passion.
    It is a common misconception that lust can be conquered by being nasty to women, but traditional brahmacari training is to learn to respect women. For a person brought up in lust, ugly passions will arise whenever he sees a beautiful young woman. But the sight of the same woman will arouse a respectful feeling for a mother in the heart of a person who has been trained properly. One who feels reverence for women, considering them as mothers, cannot lust after them or want to exploit them.
    The tendency for the mind to sink to the lowest depths can be overcome by bringing it to the highest level. Instead of thinking of exploiting the bodies of others by sex life, a brahmacari should meditate on how to bestow the topmost benefit upon all by preaching Krishna consciousness. A brahmacari sees the body of a woman as an allurement of maya, but also sees a soul within crying out for Krishna.
    Narottama dasa Thakura states that material desires become insignificant if one gets the mercy of Lord Nityananda. Lord Nityananda was ordered by Lord Chaitanya to preach Krishna consciousness to all classes of men, even to the most fallen, which he did under the most difficult circumstances by exhibiting the greatest humility. So if we take on difficulties in preaching service, praying for Lord Nityananda’s mercy, surely He will help us.
    Some new devotees experience that they feel more sexual agitation after coming to Krishna consciousness than they did before! Philosophically we can understand that it was not that the devotee was more pure before coming to Krishna, but that the stockpile of dormant material desires within the heart has become manifested. (SB 4.29.69) When a room is cleaned after a long time, all the dust and dirt which was hidden in dark corners comes out. On initial cleaning, the room actually seems to become more dirty. The fact is that the room was full of dirt before, but because there was no proper attempt to clean it, the dirt remained unnoticed. But the end result is that the room becomes clean in a way that it never was before—not superficially, but completely. Similarly, chanting Hare Krishna cleans the mirror of the heart. When material desires come out, go on chanting. If the heart is very dirty, the cleansing process may be long and difficult. But the end result, maybe after much endeavor, will be that the heart will be spotlessly clean.*

  • Srimad-Bhagavatam

    SB Canto 9

    By the austerity of voluntarily stopping sex life at home and going to the forest to engage in spiritual activities in the association of devotees, one achieves the actual purpose of human life.
    SB 9.19.11, Purport

    When one is bound by affection for one's wife, one is attached to sexual desires that are very difficult to overcome. Therefore, according to Vedic civilization, one must voluntarily leave his so-called home and go to the forest. Pañcāśordhvaṁ vanaṁ vrajet. Human life is meant for such tapasya, or austerity. By the austerity of voluntarily stopping sex life at home and going to the forest to engage in spiritual activities in the association of devotees, one achieves the actual purpose of human life.

    Lectures

    Bhagavad-gita As It Is Lectures

    Even if you don't do anything, if you simply restrain your sex life, you become a very powerful man. People do not know the secret. So anything you do, if you want to do it with determination, you have to stop sex life.
    Lecture on BG 6.13-15 -- Los Angeles, February 16, 1969

    So Gandhi, he invented this method, that "I shall fight with the Britishers, even they become violent, I shall not become violent. So I shall get world sympathy." So this was his plan. He was great statesman. But his determination was so fixed up because he was a brahmacārī. From, at the age of thirty-six years he gave up. He had his wife but he gave up his sex life. He was a family man, he had children, he had his wife. But from the age of thirty-six, young man, a thirty-six year old, he gave up sex life with his wife. That made him so determined, that "I shall drive away these Britishers from the land of India," and he did it. You see? And actually he did it. So controlling the sex life, to refrain from sex life is so powerful. Even if you don't do anything, if you simply restrain your sex life, you become a very powerful man. People do not know the secret. So anything you do, if you want to do it with determination, you have to stop sex life. That is the secret.

    Srimad-Bhagavatam Lectures

    You have to regulate your life. You have to stop sex life. You have to eat certain procedure. You have to sit under certain procedure. In this way, you have to follow so many regulative principles.
    Lecture on SB 1.5.13 -- New Vrindaban, June 13, 1969

    The first stage is yama, saṁyama, controlling the senses. Yoga indriya-saṁyama. The beginning of yoga system means you have to control your senses. This is the first beginning. It is not a play thing, that you do all nonsense and you become a yogi. No. These things are very clearly explained in the Bhagavad-gītā. You have to regulate your life. You have to stop sex life. You have to eat certain procedure. You have to sit under certain procedure. In this way, you have to follow so many regulative principles. That is called yama. And niyama. Niyama means regulative principles. Yama means controlling the senses. Yama, niyama. Then āsana. Then sitting posture.

    There are eight types of different regulation to stop sex life. But these things are very difficult in this age. Therefore we have simply summarized that don't have sex life beyond the married life.
    Lecture on SB 6.1.11 -- New York, July 25, 1971

    Unless there are nice population, children born in a systematic way, how you can expect peace in the world? That is described in the Bhagavad-gītā. When there are varṇa-saṅkara the whole world becomes hell. This is described in the Bhagavad-gītā. So the life of austerity begins from the life of celibacy, brahmacarya. So brahmacarya, the descriptions are given here, how you can execute brahmacārī life. You cannot think of sex life, you cannot talk of sex life, you cannot whisper about sex life. There are eight types of different regulation tostop sex life. But these things are very difficult in this age. Therefore we have simply summarized that don't have sex life beyond the married life. That is not good.

    Now they are advertising, "One, two, three—no more children." But "one, two, three" means balance children, you kill. This is going on. Then why not stop sex life?
    Lecture on SB 7.6.4 -- Vrndavana, December 5, 1975

    The doctors, the medical men, the scientists, advise, "If you like, you can kill your child." And to kill a child means how much sinful activities, they do not know, but they are inducing. He has to become a child and he will be killed by somebody else. And again as many times he has killed children he will have to live within the womb and be killed. Bahu-duḥkha-bhājaḥ. It will be followed by so many miserable condition of life. But now they are advertising, "One, two, three—no more children." But "one, two, three" means balance children, you kill. This is going on. Then why not stop sex life? Oh, that is not possible. Bahu-duḥkha-bhājaḥ. Not only in this life but in the next life, next life, because there is no... Mūḍhā nābhijānāti mām ebhyaḥ param avyayam. These rascals... This rascal civilization is so dangerous, mūḍhā, full of rascals.

    Festival Lectures

    Brahmacārya means stopping sex life or controlling sex life. Therefore Vedic civilization, from the very beginning, aims to train the boys to become brahmacārī, celibacy.
    Radhastami, Srimati Radharani's Appearance Day -- London, August 29...

    So human life is not meant for hog civilization. So modern civilization is hog civilization, although it is polished with shirt and coat. So, we shall try to understand. This Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is for understanding Kṛṣṇa. For understanding Kṛṣṇa, it requires little labor, austerity, penance. Tapasya brahmacāryeṇa śamena damena ca. Tapasya. One has to undergo tapasya; brahmacārya, celibacy. Tapasya. Brahmacārya means stopping sex life or controlling sex life. Brahmacārya. Therefore Vedic civilization is, from the very beginning, to train the boys to become brahmacārī, celibacy. Not that modern days, the schools, boys and girls, ten years, twelve years, they're enjoying. The brain is spoiled. They cannot understand higher things. The brain tissues are lost. So without becoming brahmacārī, nobody can understand spiritual life.

    General Lectures

    Our, this method, we don't say "Stop sex life," but we say "Don't have illicit sex life." Illicit sex life, of course, even there is no question of transcendent life, that is a question of civilized life.
    Northeastern University Lecture -- Boston, April 30, 1969

    Instead of transcending from the concept of body life, it becomes still more hard knot. It is very difficult. Therefore those who are practicing yoga, or trying to be on the transcendental platform, the restriction is that one must cease sex life, if you at all interested. But that is not possible. Therefore our, this method, we don't say "Stop sex life," but we say "Don't have illicit sex life." Illicit sex life, of course, even there is no question of transcendent life, that is a question of civilized life. Civilized life. In every civilized society—it may be Hindu society or Muslim society or Christian society—any civilized human society, there is the system of marriage. And beyond marriage, if there is sex life, that is called illicit sex life. That is never indulged in any society. So what to speak of transcendental life? Transcendental life must be purified from mental concoction or bodily concept of life.

    Philosophy Discussions

    The life simply for sense gratification, and for that purpose working so hard, but that is the business of the pig. That is not the business of the human being. Human being is tapasya. Tapasya means stop sex life.
    Philosophy Discussion on Sigmund Freud:

    Prabhupāda: The life simply for sense gratification, and for that purpose working so hard, but that is the business of the pig. That is not the business of the human being. Human being is tapasya. Tapasya means stop sex life. That is tapasya. Tapasā brahmacaryeṇa (SB 6.1.13). So our philosophy is different from his philosophy. And actually we are suffering. The pig has got good facilities for sex. Does it mean that is ideal life, eating stool and having sex without discrimination? They have no discrimination, whether mother or sister or daughter. That is hog life. So if sex life is final pleasure, then hog is in the greatest pleasure. He has no social obligation. He has no discrimination. But our philosophy says "Don't become a hog, become a sane man." There, there, there is a difference between his philosophy and our philosophy.

    Conversations and Morning Walks

    1968 Conversations and Morning Walks

    We don't prohibit that you don't mix with woman or you stop sex life. But we make everything regulated under Kṛṣṇa consciousness.
    Press Interview -- December 30, 1968, Los Angeles:

    Prabhupāda: Just like our boys and girls, they are all engaged in Kṛṣṇa consciousness business, in temple work, in painting, in typing, in recording, so many things. And they are happy. They are not going to cinema, they are not going to club, they are not drinking, they are not smoking. So practically I am training them how to control. And there is possibility because these boys and girls, they are all Americans. They are not imported from India. Why they have taken to this? The system is so nice that they have liked it. So if you spread this system, everything will be solved.

    Journalist: So then it...

    Prabhupāda: We don't prohibit that you don't mix with woman or you stop sex life. We don't say that. But we make everything regulated under Kṛṣṇa consciousness. Their aim is higher. These are all secondary platform. So in this way everything is nice.

    1975 Conversations and Morning Walks

    Sex life allowed only to the gṛhasthas, householder, restricted. Not illicit sex. We are not stopping sex life. Sex life is required. But under rules.
    Room Conversation with Director of Research of the Dept. of Social ...:

    Prabhupāda: Sex life we are not stopping. But sex life allowed only to the gṛhasthas, householder, restricted. Not illicit sex. We are not stopping sex life. Sex life is required. But under rules. And if you enjoy illicit sex, then the whole society is spoiled. You make the innocent girls spoiled. And they have no other business than prostitution. That means you put the society into chaotic condition. The young girls they become cheap, you enjoy, then you become irresponsible. You have no family encumbrances, and you do not know how to maintain the family. That is the position. What is this welfare? Because the young boys enjoy the young girls and they get children, the government has to support.

    If you want stop population why you are inducing "Indulge in sex life"? Stop sex life—brahmacārī. Everything is contradictory. And it is all sense gratification, based on sense gratification.
    Morning Walk -- September 13, 1975, Vrndavana:

    Prabhupāda: Therefore they are rascals. Rascal. This is a rascal civilization. Rascal civilization: one side, they say contraceptive; another side, they will encourage woman to marry three times a week. This is their civilization. If you want stop population why you are inducing "Indulge in sex life"? Stop sex life—brahmacārī. Everything is contradictory. And it is all sense gratification, based on sense gratification.

    If you stop sex life, then you become spiritually advanced, and if you indulge in sex life, then you will be materially enthusiastic.
    Morning Walk -- October 18, 1975, Johannesburg:

    Prabhupāda: Yes. Without sex life one cannot be materially enthusiastic. And if you stop sex life, then you become spiritually advanced. This is the secret. If you stop sex life, then you become spiritually advanced, and if you indulge in sex life, then you will be materially enthusiastic. That is the difference between Western and Eastern culture. The whole Eastern culture is based on how to stop sex life, and here in the Western countries, how to increase sex life. They are eating meat, eggs, drinking wine. These things will enthuse sex life. And as soon as you get very satisfactory sex life, you become enthused to work hard. Therefore karmīs, marriage is necessary, because without sex life they cannot work. And for jñānīs, yogis, bhaktas, sex life prohibited. Actually they do not know the science of life, this Western civilization. Their life means this body

    1976 Conversations and Morning Walks

    Younger generation, they're allowed gṛhastha life from twenty-five years to fifty years. After that, stop sex life.
    Room Conversation -- April 27, 1976, Auckland, New Zealand

    Just like we have taken sannyāsa. What is that? "Oh, we have no sex life only. Otherwise, we are also eating, we are also sleeping." So that is also stopped in good old age. In old age, if a person like me, at the age of eighty years, if I would have shopped for sex life, does it look very good? Young men, they are allowed. That's all right. But a young..., old man is going to the club and spending for sex life so much money. Therefore younger generation, they're allowed gṛhastha life from twenty-five years to fifty years. That's all. After that,stop sex life. Actually, they want to stop population. Then why it, sex, then? No, they'll have sex life, at the same time, no population, kill the children. What is that? Simply sinful life. They will suffer, continue to suffer. So we want to stop that suffering. These rascals, they do not understand. They think, "Hare Kṛṣṇa movement is disturbing." A rascal civilization.

    1977 Conversations and Morning Walks

    If they advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they will stop sex life.
    Conversation on Train to Allahabad -- January 11, 1977, India:

    Rāmeśvara: That means that they want to have nice clothing and cars for sex. As soon as there is sex, then they want so many other things to make it more attractive.

    Prabhupāda: Not necessarily. Not necessarily. Formerly there was sex life. They're thinking like that, "We require," naturally. First of all they'll be... If they advance in Kṛṣṇa consciousness, they will stop sex life. Yad-avadhi mama cetaḥ kṛṣṇa... If they're really Kṛṣṇa conscious, they'll have no more taste for sex life. That is...

    Correspondence

    1968 Correspondence

    If one does not want more than one or two children, he should voluntarily stop sex life. But one should not strictly use any contraceptive method and at the same time indulge in sex life.
    Letter to Satsvarupa -- San Francisco 20 September, 1968

    A sannyasi is not supposed to be asked about anything sexual. But still, because you are so much dependent on my instruction, so I must give you information as far as possible. Married life is not for sex indulgence. The principle of marriage is on the background of getting good children. So the householder is allowed to have sex life once in a month, just after the menstrual period. The menstrual period prolongs at least for 5 days, so after this 5 days, one can have sex life provided he desires to get a child. And as soon as the wife is pregnant, no more sex life, until the child is born and is grown up at least for 6 months. After that, one may have sex life on the same principle. If one does not want more than one or two children, he should voluntarily stop sex life. But one should not strictly use any contraceptive method and at the same time indulge in sex life. That is very much sinful. If the husband and wife can voluntarily restrain by powerful advancement of Krishna Consciousness.

    1969 Correspondence

    By mutual agreement and advancement of Krishna Consciousness you can stop sex life, but there is no question of separation. Separation is artificial.
    Letter to Himavati -- Los Angeles 24 January, 1969

    The deity clothing that you have sent are all very beautiful, and everything is fitting just rightly. Regarding your thoughts of separating from your husband, I do not think this is a very good plan. You should always live with your husband and help him with his personal comforts, and he will look after your all necessities of life. There is no question of separation. By mutual agreement and advancement of Krishna Consciousness you can stop sex life, but there is no question of separation. Separation is artificial. As Hamsaduta advances in Krishna Consciousness then by his company you will also profit. So the husband and wife are mutually beneficial.

    1972 Correspondence

    You are repenting, so Krsna will excuse you. But never do this again. Rather you should stop sex-life altogether, make this your austerity.
    Letter to Name withheld -- 17 December, 1972

    If you are repentant, that's all right. You have got your wife, so if you are sexually inclined therefore you should always be with your wife. You are repenting, so Krsna will excuse you. But never do this again. Rather you should stop sex-life altogether, make this your austerity. Do not eat nicely, chant always sixteen rounds, and pray to Krsna to excuse you for your great offense. You are one of the senior devotees, therefore if you behave like that then the whole Society will be at risk. By their nature, gestures, dress, women are lusty—that is their habit. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated that when a woman comes to serve you, you must be very careful, especially for sannyasis and brahmacaries.

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