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Purifying Sex Desire Through Devotional Service.

A desire for illicit sex is like a disease. It complicates our existence and puts us into miseries and suffering just like any other disease. Any sensible person must be interested in curing a disease he is infected with. In order to cure the disease of illicit sex, we should know its origin. Knowing its origin can help us to deal with the diease effectively and thoroughly without unnecessarily depending on temporary " fixes" and superficial treatments. Our material disease, or bhava-rhoga is the misuse of our minute independence and a desire to enjoy in this world without Krishna. Srila Prabhupada writes: As stated in Bhagavad-gita (7.27):


dvandva-mohena bharata

sarva-bhutani sammoham

sarge yanti parantapa

"O scion of Bharata [Arjuna], O conqueror of the foe, all living entities are born into delusion, overcome by the dualities of desire and hate." This is an explanation of how the living entity falls down into this material world. In the spiritual world there is no duality, nor is there hate. The Supreme Personality of Godhead expands Himself into many. In order to enjoy bliss more and more, the Supreme Lord expands Himself in different categories. As mentioned in the Varaha Purana, He expands Himself in visnu-tattva (the svamsa expansion) and in His marginal potency (the vibhinnamsa, or the living entity). These expanded living entities are innumerable, just as the minute molecules of sunshine are innumerable expansions of the sun. The vibhinnamsa expansions, the marginal potencies of the Lord, are the living entities. When the living entities desire to enjoy themselves, they develop a consciousness of duality and come to hate the service of the Lord. In this way the living entities fall into the material world. In the Prema-vivarta it is said:

krsna-bahirmukha hana bhoga-vancha kare

nikata-stha maya tare japatiya dhare

The natural position of the living entity is to serve the Lord in a transcendental loving attitude. When the living entity wants to become Krsna Himself or imitate Krsna, he falls down into the material world. Since Krsna is the supreme father, His affection for the living entity is eternal. When the living entity falls down into the material world, the Supreme Lord, through His svamsa expansion (Paramatma), keeps company with the living entity. In this way the living entity may some day return home, back to Godhead.

By misusing his independence, the living entity falls down from the service of the Lord and takes a position in this material world as an enjoyer. That is to say, the living entity takes his position within a material body. Wanting to take a very exalted position, the living entity instead becomes entangled in a repetition of birth and death.

(SB 4.28.53)

This idea of trying to imitate Krsna and a desire to become Him is our original problem. The more the jiva desires to become the Lord, the more he becomes entangled in the material existence. And similarly, the more we try to come back to our original position as the Lord's servants, the more independence we gain. This principle is very nicely expressed by Krsna in the Bhagavad-gita:

The bewildered spirit soul, under the influence of the three modes of material nature, thinks himself to be the doer of activities, which are in actuality carried out by nature.

(Bg 3.27)

Srila Prabhupada explains:

The material atmosphere, in which we are now living, is called maya, or illusion. Maya means that which is not. And what is this illusion? The illusion is that we are all trying to be lords of material nature, while actually we are under the grip of her stringent laws. When a servant artificially tries to imitate the all-powerful master, it is called illusion. We are trying to exploit the resources of material nature, but actually we are becoming more and more entangled in her complexities. Therefore, although we are engaged in a hard struggle to conquer nature, we are ever more dependent on her. This illusory struggle against material nature can be stopped at once by revival of our eternal Krsna consciousness.

(TYS 6: The Hare Krsna Mantra)

Krsna consciousness is not an artificial imposition. It is our original consciousess, but in the state of maya, it appears to be foreign to the conditioned soul. In the Caitanya Caritamrta it is said:

"Pure love for Krsna is eternally established in the hearts of the living entities. It is not something to be gained from another source. When the heart is purified by hearing and chanting, this love naturally awakens."

Madhya 22.108

Srila Prabhupada explains:

Practice means employing our senses in some particular type of work. Therefore devotional service in practice means utilizing our different sensory organs in service to Krsna. Some of the senses are meant for acquiring knowledge, and some are meant for executing the conclusions of our thinking, feeling and willing. So practice means employing both the mind and the senses in practical devotional service. This practice is not for developing something artificial. For example, a child learns or practices to walk. This walking is not unnatural. The walking capacity is there originally in the child, and simply by a little practice he walks very nicely. Similarly, devotional service to the Supreme Lord is the natural instinct of every living entity. Even uncivilized men like the aborigines offer their respectful obeisances to something wonderful exhibited by nature's law, and they appreciate that behind some wonderful exhibition or action there is something supreme. So this consciousness, though lying dormant in those who are materially contaminated, is found in every living entity. And, when purified, this is called Krsna consciousness.

There are certain prescribed methods for employing our senses and mind in such a way that our dormant consciousness for loving Krsna will be invoked, as much as the child, with a little practice, can begin to walk. One who has no basic walking capacity cannot walk by practice. Similarly, Krsna consciousness cannot be aroused simply by practice. Actually there is no such practice. When we wish to develop our innate capacity for devotional service, there are certain processes which, by our accepting and executing them, will cause that dormant capacity to be invoked. Such practice is called sadhana-bhakti.

(NoD 2: The First Stages of Devotion)

A jiva at one point decides to overtake the position of Krsna in the spiritual world and thus he becomes degraded and entangled in his material desires which force him to transmigrate from one material body to another. However, this very desire to lord it over material nature is in its original pure form the very desire to love Krsna. It simply acts pervertedly. The analogy is given by Srila Prabhupada that just like a rain water becomes polluted by earth when landing on the ground, similarly in contact with material nature our original consciousness of Krsna becomes polluted by material desires. However, just as a dirty rain water can be distilled by a certain process to its original pure form, our material lust can be purified by the process of sadhana bhakti to its original state, namely love of Godhead. Srila Prabhupada explains:

When a living entity comes in contact with the material creation, his eternal love for Krsna is transformed into lust, in association with the mode of passion. Or, in other words, the sense of love of God becomes transformed into lust, as milk in contact with sour tamarind is transformed into yogurt. Then again, when lust is unsatisfied, it turns into wrath; wrath is transformed into illusion, and illusion continues the material existence. Therefore, lust is the greatest enemy of the living entity, and it is lust only which induces the pure living entity to remain entangled in the material world. Wrath is the manifestation of the mode of ignorance; these modes exhibit themselves as wrath and other corollaries. If, therefore, the modes of passion, instead of being degraded into the modes of ignorance, are elevated to the modes of goodness by the prescribed method of living and acting, then one can be saved from the degradation of wrath by spiritual attachment.

The Supreme Personality of Godhead expanded Himself into many for His ever-increasing spiritual bliss, and the living entities are parts and parcels of this spiritual bliss. They also have partial independence, but by misuse of their independence, when the service attitude is transformed into the propensity for sense enjoyment, they come under the sway of lust. This material creation is created by the Lord to give a facility to the conditioned souls to fulfill these lustful propensities, and when they are completely baffled by prolonged lustful activities, the living entities begin to inquire about their real position.

This inquiry is the beginning of the Vedanta-sutras, wherein it is said, athato brahma-jijnasa: one should inquire into the Supreme. And the Supreme is defined in Srimad-Bhagavatam as janmadyasya yato 'nvayad itaratas ca, or, "The origin of everything is the Supreme Brahman." Therefore, the origin of lust is also in the Supreme. If, therefore, lust is transformed into love for the Supreme, or transformed into Krsna consciousness-or, in other words, desiring everything for Krsna -- then both lust and wrath can be spiritualized. Hanuman, the great servitor of Lord Rama, engaged his wrath upon his enemies for the satisfaction of the Lord. Therefore, lust and wrath, when they are employed in Krsna consciousness, become our friends instead of our enemies.

(Bg 3.38, 1972)

So this is very significant. This very desire for illicit gratification is actually our original pure desire for Krsna. They are not two separate things. We should keep this in mind. Of course, the impersonalists who simply want to deny any form of desire completely due to their bad experience in the material world become at this point bewildered. Lust and wrath can become our friends? How could this be?? Unable to use these in Krsna's service, they continuously fall down and artificially renounce and again fall down and renounce. Because their mind is not fixed on Krsna's service, they are forced by their consitutional position to seek pleasure in material gratification. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna explains how such fall downs work:

While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises. While contemplating the objects of the senses, a person develops attachment for them, and from such attachment lust develops, and from lust anger arises.

Bg 2.62-63

Srila Prabhupada comments:

One who is not Krsna conscious is subjected to material desires while contemplating the objects of senses. The senses require real engagements, and if they are not engaged in the transcendental loving service of the Lord, they will certainly seek engagement in the service of materialism. In the material world everyone, including Lord Siva and Lord Brahma -- to say nothing of other demigods in the heavenly planets -- is subjected to the influence of sense objects, and the only method to get out of this puzzle of material existence is to become Krsna conscious. Lord Siva was deep in meditation, but when Parvati agitated him for sense pleasure, he agreed to the proposal, and as a result Kartikeya was born. When Haridasa Thakur was a young devotee of the Lord, he was similarly allured by the incarnation of Maya Devi, but Haridasa easily passed the test because of his unalloyed devotion to Lord Krsna. As illustrated in the above-mentioned verse of Sri Yamunacarya, a sincere devotee of the Lord shuns all material sense enjoyment due to his higher taste for spiritual enjoyment in the association of the Lord. That is the secret of success. One who is not, therefore, in Krsna consciousness, however powerful he may be in controlling the senses by artificial repression, is sure ultimately to fail, for the slightest thought of sense pleasure will agitate him to gratify his desires.

By development of Krsna consciousness one can know that everything has its use in the service of the Lord. Those who are without knowledge of Krsna consciousness artificially try to avoid material objects, and as a result, although they desire liberation from material bondage, they do not attain to the perfect stage of renunciation. On the other hand, a person in Krsna consciousness knows how to use everything in the service of the Lord; therefore he does not become a victim of material consciousness. For example, for an impersonalist, the Lord, or the Absolute, being impersonal, cannot eat. Whereas an impersonalist tries to avoid good eatables, a devotee knows that Krsna is the supreme enjoyer and that He eats all that is offered to Him in devotion. So, after offering good eatables to the Lord, the devotee takes the remnants, called prasadam. Thus everything becomes spiritualized and there is no danger of a downfall. The devotee takes prasadam in Krsna consciousness, whereas the nondevotee rejects it as material. The impersonalist, therefore, cannot enjoy life due to his artificial renunciation; and for this reason, a slight agitation of the mind pulls him down again into the pool of material existence. It is said that such a soul, even though rising up to the point of liberation, falls down again due to his not having support in devotional service.

(Bg 2.63-64 purport)

So we must use this desire to lord it over material nature and dovetail it in the service of Krsna. It is just like they say the vaccine works. By taking a miniscule amount of a virus under superior guidance of a physician and injecting the body with it, the body develops the immunity to fight the same virus. This is very nicely explained in the Srimad Bhagavatam in connection with Narada Muni explaining to Srila Vyasadeva the importance of propagating the transcendental pastimes of the Lord:

O good soul, does not a thing applied therapeutically cure a disease which was caused by that very same thing?

(SB 1.5.34)

Srila Prabhupada comments:

An expert physician treats his patient with a therapeutic diet. For example, milk preparations sometimes cause disorder of the bowels, but the very same milk converted into yogurt and mixed with some other remedial ingredients cures such disorders. Similarly, the threefold miseries of material existence cannot be mitigated simply by material activities. Such activities have to be spiritualized, just as by fire iron is made red-hot, and thereby the action of fire begins. Similarly, the material conception of a thing is at once changed as soon as it is put into the service of the Lord. That is the secret of spiritual success. We should not try to lord it over the material nature, nor should we reject material things. The best way to make the best use of a bad bargain is to use everything in relation with the supreme spiritual being. Everything is an emanation from the Supreme Spirit, and by His inconceivable power He can convert spirit into matter and matter into spirit. Therefore a material thing (so-called) is at once turned into a spiritual force by the great will of the Lord. The necessary condition for such a change is to employ so-called matter in the service of the spirit. That is the way to treat our material disease and elevate ourselves to the spiritual plane, where there is no misery, no lamentation and no fear. When everything is thus employed in the service of the Lord, we can experience that there is nothing except the Supreme Brahman. The Vedic mantra that "everything is Brahman" is thus realized by us.

(SB 1.5.34 purport)

Now, this material disease of lording it over the material nature exhibits itself in two forms as a) gross sex desire (desire to gratify the senses grossly) and b) subtle desire (a desire for name, fame, profit and distinction) Both can be purified if we simpyl engage in the devotional service under the guidance of a pure devotee. It is important to note that in order to come out of the material disease completely it is necessary to purify both gross and subtle sex desire. One may be able to control his gross senses for some time, but unless the purification is complete and the subtle sex manifesting in a desire to have worship, profit or distinction is also purified he may again relapse into gross sense gratification. So, the acharyas have given the remedial measure to purify our gross and subtle sex desire by the process of pancaratrika viddhi (temple worship) and bhagavat vidhi (hearing and chanting under the guidance of a Bhagavata, a pure devotee) . One process supports the other and combinedly they help us to come to the state of pure devotional service. Although the bhagavad-vidhi does not depend on the pancaratrika system, such exclusive worship is meant only for very elevated devotees and it is not meant for neophytes.

Although initiation may depend on purascarya or purascarana (activities before initiation), the actual chanting of the holy name does not depend on purascarya-vidhi, or the regulative principles. If one chants the holy name once without committing an offense, he attains all success. Generally brahmanas are puffed up with false prestige because they belong to the aristocracy and perform many Vedic sacrifices. In South India especially, this fastidious position is most prominent and this was the case five hundred years ago also. Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu actually started a revolution against this brahminical system by inaugurating the chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra. By this chanting, one can be delivered regardless of caste, creed, color or social position. Whoever chants the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is immediately purified due to the transcendental position of devotional service. One might ask, if by chanting the holy name of the Lord, one can reach the platform of love of Godhead, then what is the necessity of being initiated? The answer is that even though the chanting of the holy name is sufficient to enable one to progress in spiritual life to the standard of love of Godhead, one is nonetheless susceptible to contamination because of possessing a material body. Consequently, special stress is given to the arcana-vidhi.

Srila Jiva Gosvami says that although sankirtana is sufficient for the perfection of life, the arcana, or worship of the Deity in the temple, must continue in order that the devotees may stay clean and pure. Even at the present moment people are attracted more if there is a temple. If one simply chants, very few people will come. Therefore both are recommended: chanting and at the same time temple worship. People’s minds are so materialistic that they cannot give proper respect to or understand the importance of chanting the holy name. Generally, they are attracted by the karma-kandiya vicara (fruitive activities). If the preachers of the Krsna consciousness movement do not arrange for a gorgeous system, people will not be attracted. Therefore sometimes, in order to attract people to chant, gorgeous temple is required.

Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura says that simply by chanting the holy name of Krsna once, a person becomes perfect. Such a person is understood to be a Vaisnava. With such faith and belief, one may begin a life of Krsna consciousness, but an ordinary person cannot chant the holy name of Krsna with such faith. This is confirmed by Srila Rupa Gosvami in his Upadesamrta: krsneti yasya giri tam manasadriyeta. One should accept the holy name of Krsna to be identical with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Transcendence Himself. The holy name of Krsna is also identical with Krsna and is also cintamani. The name Krsna is the personification of sound perfectly transcendental and eternally liberated from material contamination. One should understand that the name Krsna and Krsna are identical. Having such faith, one must continue to chant the holy name. When one is situated on the neophyte platform, one cannot understand the devotional ingredients of a pure, unalloyed devotee. However, when the novice engages in devotional service-especially in Deity worship-and follows the order of a bona fide spiritual master, he becomes a pure devotee. Anyone can take advantage of hearing about Krsna consciousness from a pure devotee and thus gradually become purified. In other words, the chanting of the Hare Krsna maha-mantra is so powerful that it does not depend on official initiation, but if one is initiated and engages in pancaratra-vidhi (Deity worship), his Krsna consciousness will awaken very soon, and his identification with the material world will be vanquished. Sometimes neophyte devotees think that they can continue the sravana-kirtana process without worshiping the Deity, but the execution of sravana-kirtana is meant for highly developed devotees like Haridasa Thakura, who engaged in the sravana-kirtana process without worshiping the Deity. However, one should not falsely imitate Haridasa Thakura and abandon Deity worship just to try to engage in sravana-kirtana. This is not possible for neophyte devotees.The path of Srimad-Bhagavatam is for the paramahamsas, and the path of Pancaratra is for the neophytes. The temple worship is necessary for the beginners so that by following the regulative principles such devotees become more and more purified and thus gradually come to the platform of understanding Srimad-Bhagavatam. One's gross body should be engaged in the service of the Lord through the path of archan or worshipping the Lord in the temple, whereas the subtle mind should be engaged in the matter of hearing the transcendental pastimes of the Lord, thinking about them and chanting His name. All such activities are transcendental. None of the gross or subtle senses should be engaged otherwise.

Most of our difficulties in devotional service comes from either neglecting bhagavad-viddhi, when we put too much emphasis on temple construction, formalities and expansion of the mission in terms of naumber of devotees, the opulence of the temples etc and neglect the hearing and instruction of a pure devotee, or by neglecting the pancaratrika viddhi, when devotees simply engage in mental speculation, politics, or exclusive discussion on highly elevated topics about the nature of transcendence without following the basic rules and regulations. Both are the manifestation of being deviated from the order of the spiritual master.

It is very important therefore to take shelter of a pure devotee and follow his instructions strictly in terms of both bhagavad-viddhi and pancaratrika viddhi. We should hear from a pure devotee, but at the same time we should engage practically in the execution of his preaching mission by setting up places of worship where neophyte devotees can be invited and engaged in the bhagavad-viddhi process. It is not sufficient to simply hear without following the orders to please the spiritual master. By pleasing the spiritual master, Krsna is pleased yasyad prasada bhagavat prasada, yasya aprasada na gatih kutopi. By displeasing the spiritual master, Krsna is displeased. When Krsna is displeased, we cannot derive any pleasure from our service and our attachment to service dwindles. Thus, the original disease relapses again and we fall down. It is therefore crucial for us to engage in favorable devotional service under the order of the acharya. The more we please the spiritual master and the more we engage in such purely intentioned service for the pleasure of the Lord, the more we will be able to conquer over material desires. And a slight deviation from the order of the guru will create havoc and plunges us back into material tabernacle. So this faithful execution of devotional service under the guidance of the guru can never overemphasized.

So practically speaking, we should always try to create preaching centers and temples and center all our activities for this purpose. To say that we do not need temples and we should simply distribute books and the pure devotee will preach to the people of the world for us is simply laziness and it is in roundabout way negligence of the guru's order. As mentioned above, the general mass requires a place of worship to be inspired to chant and hear, so it is the duty of the acharya to establish temples where the general mass of people can be taught practical devotional service and engage their gross senses by sweeping the temple floor, cutting vegetables, collecting funds, training new devotees, etc. Srila Prabhupada says one must be always busy with activities otherwise the senses will be engaged otherwise. The Bhagavad-gita says:

"As a boat on the water is swept away by a strong wind, even one of the senses on which the mind focuses can carry away a man's intelligence."

(Bg 2.68)

Srila Prabhupada comments:

Unless all of the senses are engaged in the service of the Lord, even one of them engaged in sense gratification can deviate the devotee from the path of transcendental advancement. As mentioned in the life of Maharaja Ambarisa, all of the senses must be engaged in Krsna consciousness, for that is the correct technique for controlling the mind.

(Bg 2.68 purport)

At the same time, the whole purpose of the temple is to make people qualified to accept Srila Prabhupada as their spiritual master and hear from him. So side by side, we must make sure that we hear regularly from Srila Prabhupada and understand the siddhanta so we can protect the devotees from deviant philosophies or deviant conclusions that might completely destroy the purpose of our establishing such centers.

Organizing preaching centers, collecting donations for such purpose and engaging the general mass of people in temple worship will purify our gross senses and engaging in the glorification of the Lord and His devotee will result in purifying our desire for worship, distinction and profit. This powerful process will assure we will never fall down into material contamination again.

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