Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

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Sex Within Marriage = Sex for Procreation
By Ananda   |  Jan 01, 1901

Whenever I found time, I sparingly read GK das’s post on the subject matter of illicit sex. Below are my thoughts.


In India, at least where I grew up, one can find remnants of Vedic culture prominent even today in small towns and villages. What to speak of 60-70 years before; before the advent of globalization and technology. It was very much old school traditional lifestyle. So in India, when people marry, husband and wife had sex for children and not otherwise. In other words, the common practice, there was no question of contraceptives (any family planning methods), although, currently things are changing due to birth control measures adopted by the government. But generally, the culture was that people married and sex was common for ONLY begetting children.


Sex outside of marriage was considered a social stigma unless one pays a prostitute but not in the traditional sense. Boys and girls were never allowed to mix freely and this was the case for me also when growing up. One can say there were lots of restrictions for boys and girls to mix freely in public as it is practiced in western culture generally. The trend, although, is changing due to influx of cable and internet.


Therefore, when a reference is made by Srila Prabhupada to sex outside of marriage, it is spontaneously considered illicit but when a reference is made to sex inside of marriage, it spontaneously means to beget a child (b’cos the idea of contraceptives were not common). Therefore when Prabhupada refers to illicit sex such as the conversation with the reporter, he defines illicit sex as sex outside of marriage and does not mention about procreation. However, the concept of procreation is implicit when he mentions sex within marriage because culturally speaking; there was no question of contraceptives especially if one grew up in India in the early and mid 1900s. Of course, there are always anomalies”¦but by and large the generation that belonged to my grandparents never contemplated the use of contraceptives. Sex within marriage and sex for procreation were not two different things but meant the same thing for people from that time period and from India.


So whenever Prabhupada says sex within marriage or sex only for procreation actually means the same thing because sex within marriage in those days were meant only for procreation and never considered otherwise. There was never a need to explicitly state “for procreation” for all one needed to know is if one is married or not. That is why the average household size of a normal Indian family in the early and middle 1900s were 4 or 5 at least and people lived in “joint family” system which currently the system is completely gone. The only way one could maintain such big families is if one lived within a joint family system. Due to socio-economic reasons this concept has been completely eroded and hence families want to have sex but not children hence the idea of contraceptives became popular. With this shift in culture, all of a sudden a refinement in the definition of illicit sex is necessary. If it was in a joint family system, uncle, aunt, grandparents all will take care of the child while the biological parent can spend time otherwise.


My mother’s family I think is a family of 6 children and my father is 4. Families with 8 or 10 children were considered very common in India during the British Raj. Why this big size”¦that is because contraceptives were never used among married couples and hence the idea of illicit was never there within marriage but existed only out of it.


This is exactly why Prabhupada never explicitly distinguishes sex inside marriage as different from procreation purposes only”¦rather he uses them interchangeably simply because sex within marriage and sex for procreation colloquially means the same thing.


And this is what Krishna Himself says in the Gita 10.28


Personally”¦I don’t think there is any contradiction or confusion on the definition of illicit sex but if I cannot follow that standard then that is a different conversation!


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