Chapter Six

 

INTOXICATION AND SEXUAL ENJOYMENT

 

RABBI: The Jewish scriptures state, "Drink no wine nor strong drink, thou nor thy sons, etc." R. Judah said: 'The fact that this injunction was given to the priests shows that Nadab and Abihu were under the influence of wine.' R. Hiya adduced here the verse: "Wine rejoiceth the heart of man" (Ps. CIV, 15). 'If, he said, the priest is supposed to be joyful more than other men, why is he forbidden wine, which creates joy and smiles? The truth is that wine rejoices at first and saddens afterwards, and the priest must be glad throughout." [Zohar IV, 39a] What do the Vedas say regarding the use of intoxication?
DEVOTEE: The use of intoxication was greatly discouraged in Vedic culture and was completely forbidden for the saintly priestly class. According to His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, "The Vaisnavas [devotees of Krsna] are trained to become freed from the four kinds of sinful activities--illicit sex, indulgence in intoxicants, gambling and eating animal foodstuffs. No one can be on the brahminical platform without having these preliminary qualifications, and without becoming a qualified Brahman, one cannot become a pure devotee." [Bhag 10.86.59, Purport] Intoxication puts one in the mode of ignorance, and in the mode of ignorance one cannot see things as they are. How then can one act properly if he cannot properly perceive reality, and how can a saintly person give proper guidance if he is unable to understand reality?
RABBI: What do the Vedas say about sexual enjoyment?
DEVOTEE: The whole purpose of Vedic culture is to help everyone in the society to gradually give up all kinds of material enjoyment and to become lovers of God, Krsna. Although sex life is considered one of the highest forms of enjoyment in this world, the Vedas teach gradual detachment from such indulgence to help people to direct their attention toward the higher goal of self-realization. In the four orders of social life, brahmacari, grahastha, vanaprastha, and sannyasa, the only one that allowed any intimate relationship between man and woman is the grahastha ashram. Even within the grahastha ashram, sex is allowed between a man and his wife only once a month and then only to conceive children who are to be raised to be God conscious. Any indulgence beyond that constitutes illicit sex and is most detrimental to one's ability to advance on the spiritual path. Definitely, there is no provision permitting either homosexuality or relationships with animals.
RABBI: In the Torah, Moses, repeating the commandments of God, said, "Do not lie with a male as you would with a woman, since this is a disgusting perversion. Do not perform any sexual act with an animal, since it will defile you. A woman shall [likewise] not give herself to an animal and allow it to mate with her. This utterly detestable perversion.... Thus, whenever anyone does any of these disgusting perversions, [all] the people involved shall be cut off [spiritually] from the midst of their people." [Torah, Leviticus, Acharey Moth, 18:22, 23, 29]
DEVOTEE: In the Srimad-Bhagavatam there is a description of the beginning of our present age, Kali-yuga, or the Age of Kali. It is described that the personality of Kali, who is in charge of this degraded age, is the accelerating agent for irreligious principles. He was allowed to reside in those places where there was intoxication, gambling, illicit connection with women, animal slaughter. Wherever these activities are present, the basic principles of religiosity, namely cleanliness, austerity, truthfulness and mercy, are gradually lost. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada writes in this regards, "By pride, either artificial or real, the resultant action of austerity is spoiled; by too much affection for female association, cleanliness is spoiled; by too much addiction to intoxication, mercy is spoiled; and by too much lying propaganda, truthfulness is spoiled."


 

 

 

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