Hinduism and Pride

6th sept 2018.That was the day on which  Consensual sexual conduct between two adults of same sex was decriminalized in the world's largest democracy (India). But why was it criminalized to begin with, you might ask. Surely, it must be due to the "backward mindset" of Indians who seemto be homophobic as a society? Negative.

It was criminalized under the BRITISH COLONIAL RULE. Due to the Section 377 of the British colonial Constitution. Gay sex is still a crime in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei,Myanmar, Kuwait, Oman, Kenya, Nigeria, Gambia, Uganda, Zambia,Mauritius, Iran, Yemen, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia. Sudan, UAE, Papua New Guinea etc.

The long list of countries is why I laugh when I read an article by a British person on how India is backwards with respect to homosexuality. Some of the countries I mentioned above do indeed have their own issues with accepting homosexuality. Some of them even had lawsin place to criminalise homosexuality before the BRITISH. But not India.

India has a rich history of acceptance to the LGBTQ community.Even the most worshipped god, Shiva, is considered as an androgynous. For centuries, Hindu literature, mythology, and religious texts have featured deities that defied the gender binary. The notion of gender as a spectrum may feel to some a modern revelation, but Hindu literature and mythology for centuries has taught of the figures who defied the binary. And while the reproductive connection between man and woman has always been revered in the faith, Hinduism, unlike most Western faiths, historically treats homosexuality as a natural behavior, one documented in folk tale and religious text alike. 

         

THE THIRD GENDER 

The Vedas have repeatedly mentioned about the tritiya prakirti (Which means the "third nature") but since it's used in connection to gender, It's referred to as the third gender.

It includes a wide range of ppl such as effeminate males, masculine females, transgenders, transsexuals,androgynes and so on. Many of them weren't even attracted to any gender, were homosexuals or in some instances, bisexual.

Many transgender ppl were also considered to be semi-divine and they were believed to have special powers that allowed them to bless or curse others. Vedic culture endorsed transgender people living openly according to their gender identity.

 Temples Portraying Homosexuality 


The khajuraho temple of Madhya Pradesh is well known for depicting homosexual relations as well as the bisexual ones. Interestingly (but not surprisingly in my opinion), Gandhi found the sculptures "embarrassing & Indecent "and he had asked his supporters to chip the temple walls clean of such depictions and carvings (thankfully, they didn't managed to do so.) Funny how Commentaries on Gandhi leave that out.

Such depictions are also seen in the Ranakpur Jain temple in Rajasthan, The sun temple & The Rajarani temple in Orissa, a 12th century temple of shiva in Bagali, Karnataka, a temple at Padhavli, near Gwalior and many others.


BISEXUALITY 

Agni, the God of fire, creativity and wealth, is depicted in Hindu scriptures as married to the goddess Swaha but also the partner (yes, that partner) of the male moon god Soma.

SAME SEX RELATION

Some versions of Kartik's conception involve Agni taking the semen of shiva.

Bhagirath, A king famous for having brought Ganga to Earth from Heaven, is said to have been born out of Copulation between two queens.

 CONCLUSION

Hindu mythology, through evolved devatas and instances, has displayed elements of gender variance and non-heterosexual sexuality. When we see it in the context of the current laws against homosexuality, based on colonial laws, it shows that it resisted sexual norms and the commonly perceived gender binary. Spoken more tenderly than directly, changes of sex, homoerotic encounters, and intersex or third gender characters are very often found in the epics, the Puranas and regional folklore.

While the reproductive connection between man and woman has always been honored, homosexuality and LGBT themes have been documented through ancient literature and folk tales, art and performing arts alike. Essentially because gender is often seen as an idea, a belief, a conviction, the sweep and scale of which can be seen through the diverse characters, each extraordinary and unusual.

And in either ways LGBTQ+ folks are valid and deserve rights no matter what. And to deny them the rights of basic human is in contradiction with the values pertained in the Preamble of our Constitution. The LGBTQ+ Community doesn’t ask for anything but respect and an equal place in society, a society whose ideas have become hazy and noncompliant with the ideas of democracy and its criminalization certainly makes for a case of hypocrisy.

Author- SOMYA SHREE

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