Hare Krishna! Welcome to the4regs, the Hare Krishna movement's celibacy reform website!

This webpage is for updating and reforming the 4 regulatory principles. Actually, this website is concerned with changing only one of the four regs, the one outlawing sex. In case your are not a Hare Krishna devotee, let me explain. Our Hare Krishna movement does not allow us to have sex. We only supposed to have sex once a month when we are trying to have children. Of course, many of us devotees rebel against this rule. We form deep, loving relationships and have really great sex.

Discuss ISKCON celibacy reform here on this topic I started on Istagosthi.org, an uncensored devotee forum.

Sex is a supposed to be against our societies rules not because we are hurting other living entities when we have sex, but because sex desire is binding us to the material world. So the question is how do we overcome sex desire?

If one chooses to try celibacy, then one must be careful to not become puritanical and obsessed with other people's sex lives, or become bounded up into a group celibate eroticism. One must always guard against developing a celibacy fetish.

If one feels that the celibate approach is not the best thing for them at this time, then one can try various ways of lessening sex desire by trying to fulfill the sex desire. This approach can be difficult or even impossible, because it often requires the participation of other devotees. Also, the sex desire is sometimes inflamed, not lessened by this approach. Sometimes this approach works very well, though. One has to be honest with themselves and be aware that things sometimes change.

Many devotees seemed to be blessed with the ability to be austere and celibate. We do not deny the pleasures of celibacy, but celibacy does not seem work for many devotees or is not achievable by many devotees in present day Iskcon. We need to prevent devotees who are unable to be celibate from leaving the movement entirely. We need to show respect for devotees who can't or will not be sexless.

We need to take an honest look at ourselves and our motives: Are we trying to build a happy society and help new people become devotees, or are we just collecting temporary devotees to fill our Temples? Do we want to keep on forcing many devotees to lie about being celibate? Shouldn't our society have a place for devotees who have a hard time following a monastic regimen?

Here is an excellent article, On Leaving ISKCON, by Steven J. Gelberg (Subhananda das), a former high ranking ISKCON member. In it Steve Gelberg describes how he has totally lost his faith and religion. Steve Gelberg was an ISKCON devotee for seventeen years, and most of that time he was a staff writer for the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust. "After many years of monitoring my own and other's (through conversation and counseling) ambivalence about and mixed-success in following the standards, the whole celibacy fetish began to look a bit suspect. Why the abysmal failure of most devotees to be uncompromisingly celibate? Why the pervasive inability to perform an act of renunciation that ISKCON defines as a precondition not only of serious spiritual practice but of civilized human life? Why that fundamental failure?"

Often a devotee who likes to think of himself as celibate is actually enmeshed in bizarre, complicate subtle sexual dramas or celibate-erotic entanglements. (This is not always bad.) This is not at all difficult to recognize. In fact, many "karmis" will quickly see it for what it is. The problem is that we have to be willing to be honest with ourselves. One must always be vigilant. The celibacy fetish is a big problem for many devotees.

This is often the reason why gay devotees sometimes find it difficult to be accepted in our movement. But gay devotees need to be aware they can be guilty of the same types of things. It is unfair to expect a gay devotee to be allowed to live in a strict brahmachari ashram where the straight male devotees are not allowed to associate with women. But of course our movement needs to create places for everyone, with all different levels and types of ashrams. Gay devotees should work for emancipation of all devotees from unworkable, anti-family, anti-happiness, one-size-fits-all Iskcon regimentation.

What about devotees who spend years living in a Temple, impersonal, dogmatic, always giving the "correct" answers? And then they leave and never come back, totally repudiating our entire movement, and even sometimes snarl or worse when I meet them on the street and say "hari Bol"? Did they ever really know what Krisna consciousness was about? Can they now admit that they spent 15 years or whatever and may know less than some devotees who never even lived in a Temple? They will not talk about it.

Have we ISKCON devotees who have tried to apply the whole celibacy ideal to our lives ended up becoming more, or less, attached to the material world?

What about our movement's extremely high divorce rate? And don't we practice almost every form of vice at a much higher rate than the so-called "karmis"?

Don't we sometimes cling to a celibacy ideal at the expense of our humanity? Doesn't this leave us little room for compassion and the reforms that are long overdue?

Hasn't our celibacy ideal as it has been practiced been somewhat of a disaster? Haven't some parts of Iskcon turned into a kleptocracy, where those who are good at hiding their feelings and activities are promoted at the expense of the more honest devotees who admit they are human?

We are human beings. Aren't we beyond the simple animals who use sex just for procreation? Aren't we complicated spiritual beings? Do we really want to try to drag ourselves down into the lower animal kingdom by having sex only for procreation?

Was Harikesh swami really that wrong to say
"Do it till you are blue in the face"?

Celibacy has an important role to play in our society. Shouldn't we be promoting a pure celibacy? Shouldn't we try to free our celibate devotees from the burden of worrying about and trying to manage the sex lives of our non-celibate devotees?

I have read that strict celibacy may cause prostate cancer. In the old days, priests were always in hospital for prostrate problems that were called "Priest's disease".

I had a friend who was a Benedictine monk. He told me that the Benedictines would honestly discuss the celibacy issue amongst themselves. From my conversations with him, I learned that they were aware of the prostate health issue, and would often recommend regulated masturbation.

I remember talking to devotees, about 14 years ago(1988?). We were talking about how ISKCON protects cows and oxen. They told me that the young male calves are fitted with rubber bands around their scrotum, above their testicles. This slowly cuts off the the blood supply to their testicles. "And they eventually just fall off", the devotees told me. It is interesting to note that ISKCON has now banned this cruel practice. Isn't it time ISKCON stop using the equivalent practice against human devotees, using social pressure instead of rubber bands but with the same effect?

"No, it'll be great! It'll be great, because all those Ph.D.'s are in there ... discussing 'modes of alienation' and we'll be in here quietly humping."
Woody Allen,
in Annie Hall

Discuss ISKCON celibacy reform here on this topic I started on Istagosthi.org, an uncensored devotee forum.