Monday, January 16, 2006

From: OpenSpace:Resource from LGBT Hindus: The Gay and Lesbian

Hinduism and sexuality

Hindu texts have discussed variations in gender and sexuality for more than two millennia. Like the erotic sculptures on ancient Hindu temples at Khajuraho and Konarak, sacred texts in Sanskrit constitute irrefutable evidence that a whole range of sexual behaviour was known to ancient Hindus. Traditions of representing same-sex desire in literature and art continued in medieval Hinduism.

The sacred Hindu epics and the Puranas, compendia of devotional stories, depict gods, sages and heroes springing from ayoni sex. Ayoni sex never became a major topic of debate, nor was it categorized as an unspeakable crime. There is no evidence of anyone in India ever having been executed for same-sex relations.

Hindu scriptures contain many surprising examples of diversity in both sex and gender. Medieval texts narrate how the god Ayyappa was born of intercourse between the gods Shiva and Vishnu when the latter temporarily took a female form. A number of 14th-century texts in Sanskrit and Bengali (including the Krittivasa Ramayana, a devotional text still extremely popular today) narrate how hero-king Bhagiratha, who brought the sacred river Ganga from heaven to earth, was miraculously born to and raised by two co-widows, who made love together with divine blessing. These texts explain that his name Bhagiratha comes from the word bhaga (vulva), because he was born of two vulvas. Another sacred text, the fourth-century Kamasutra, emphasizes pleasure as the aim of intercourse. It categorizes men who desire other men as a "third nature." The text goes on to subdivide such men into masculine and feminine types and describes their lives and typical occupations (including flower sellers, masseurs and hairdressers). The Kamasutra also includes a detailed description of oral sex between men and refers to long-term unions between male partners. Hindu medical texts dating from the first century also provide taxonomies of gender and sexual variations, including same-sex desire.

Modern trends and views Hindu philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti said that homosexuality, like heterosexuality, has been a fact for thousands of years, and that it becomes a problem only because humans focus too much on sex. When asked about homosexuality, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the international Art of Living movement, said, "Every individual has both male and female in them. Sometimes one dominates, sometimes other; it is all fluid."

Mathematician Shakuntala Devi, in her 1977 book The World of Homosexuals, interviewed Srinivasa Raghavachariar, head priest of the Srirangam temple. Raghavachariar said that same-sex partners must have been cross-sex partners in a former life. The sex may change, he said, but the soul retains its attachments; hence love impels them toward one another.

When, in 2002, Hindu scholar Ruth Vanita interviewed a Shaiva priest who had performed the marriage ceremony for two women, the priest said that having studied Hindu scriptures, he had concluded, "Marriage is a union of spirits. And the spirit is not male or female."

As Amara Dasa, founder of Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association, noted in Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex, several Gaudiya Vaishnava authorities emphasize that since everyone passes through various forms, genders and species in a series of lives, people should not judge each other by the material body but should view everyone equally on a spiritual plane and be compassionate, as God is.

Resource from LGBT Hindus: The Gay and Lesbian Vaishnava Association


Blogger ontheotherhand said...

It's nice that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said that all individuals have both male and female in them and that sometimes one or the other dominates. But wouldn't it be far more helpful if world famous Hindu gays like him would come out of the closet? Until gay Indians can be open and honest about their sexuality, any comments like his are really pseudo acceptance. If he doesn't even accept himself to come out, then how will others gain acceptance of the gay community he has served well over the years? His courses for AIDS patients and for gay men are very good, but he needs to care less about the money that comes from the acceptance of the general Indian public (which would dump him if they knew he was gay!) and more about men who are like him and suffering the stigmas that cause them to be closeted.

11:45 AM  
Blogger kari said...

I agree, but any step is a good step... and I post this more for those that forgot there past not the present denial. the past get so neatly wiped clean that we forget it was not all so neat and perfect sizes..

3:25 AM  

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