LGBTQ In Hinduism: 7 tales of Acceptance
Does Hinduism accept the LGBTQ concept? This question I’ve come across a lot, I’m sure you all might have but what is the right answer to this. And after going through a bunch of articles and talking to many people who think they know Hinduism I’ve come to one conculsion “The divinity in all” and the openness to everyone without any exceptions. In Bhagavad Gita and Indian Metaphysics, it has been made clear that the soul and body are two different entities. It doesn’t matter what body demands, the power of the soul is everything.
Every man and woman has the way of consciousness through the soul and it never dies. Hindu scriptures and Vedas don’t define being Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender, and Queer as sin because Girls kissing girls and boys kissing boys isn’t the end of the world according to them too. They believe everyone is divine and it needs no introduction about how to guide your body if your consciousness that is soul is on the right path.
Hinduism is a very modern and very accepting religion that doesn’t forbid you from kama that is a pleasure as it is mentioned in four folds of life. If you want to attain Liberation that Moksha the last fold you have to attain the Kama.
“When we think of the Hindu religion, we find it difficult, if not impossible, to define the Hindu religion or even adequately describe it. Unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim anyone prophet, it does not worship anyone god, it does not subscribe to any one dogma, it does not believe in any one philosophic concept, it does not follow anyone set of religious rites or performances it does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed. It may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more.”Supreme Court Of India
There are some casual mentions in Hindu scriptures about LGBTQ relationships being normal in those times. Let’s take a look at LGBTQ In Hinduism: 7 tales of Acceptance:
1) Birth of Baghritath from two mothers:
In Padma Puran there is a tale about Raja Dilip who couldn’t have a son and died childlessly, he had two wives Chandra and Mala. The wives got worried because they had no heir so they went to Rishi Vashishta asking for help. Rishi gave them prasad and told them to have intercourse with each other with the intention of man. As directed by Rishi Vashishta, Mala got pregnant after making love with Chandra, and the son was born. But the child had no bones and he was named Baghritath because he was born from a union of two vulvas. Later Baghritath helped in bringing Ganga to earth for greater purposes. This shows how the same-sex union was normalized in those times and how the child was accepted coming from two mothers.
2) Sex change of Shikhandi:
In Mahabharat the greatest war of all time there was a character introduction at midnight interpretation into half. Shikandi was a girl born as the eldest child of king Drupad but she was destined to be the destruction of Bhisma Pitamah, but that was impossible because the baby was girl and girl can’t go to war. So king Drupad raised her as a son and he got married to a princess but in wedding night Princess found out and Shikandi ran into forest where Yaksha exchanged sex with her. This might be a very early sex swap in Vedic history but nowhere it is mention under sin. Shikandi later killed Bhishma as it was her sole purpose all along.
3) Sculptures in Khajuraho Referencing Homosexuality:
The temple in Khajuraho was built by the Chandela dynasty between 950 and 1050. This temple has many carvings with an erotic massage with an unnatural partner. The main thing that shows even at that time period they were aware of the existence of homosexuality. Those walls give the impression of Hinduism to be very accepting and welcoming to every sexual orientation in all ages.
4) The dying wish of Lord Aravan to marry:
Another story that considers our mind is Lord Aravan. There is a temple in Tamil Nadu of Lord Aravan where transgenders go once in a year and marry lord Aravan and that marriage life lasts in one day only. They weep the death of their husband in Hindu culture. So who is this Lord Aravan? The legend circle backs to the Mahabharata the greatest war of the time. Aravan was the son of Arjun and Ulupi. Arjun sends him to the battlefield when they needed a prince to volunteer in sacrifice. Aravan came forward but he didn’t want to die unmarried but as he was about to die no one wanted to be his widow. So, Lord Krishna came forward and transformed himself into Mohini to marry him. The next day he sacrificed himself but lord Krishna mourned him for a long time. This union of same-sex is a breakthrough into having a fascinating past if transgender people.
5) Son of Mohini (Vishnu) and Shiva:
One of the most debatable stories is about Son of Mohini (Vishnu) and Shiva Ayappa. When Lord Vishnu took Mohini transformation during Samudra Manthan. The whole God and demons were enchanted but you know who else was spellbound? Lord Shiva, yes that’s right even after knowing that it is Vishnu who transformed into Mohini Lord Shiva couldn’t resist and followed Mohini, and that leads to the union of Shiva and Mohini. The union resulted in a son named Hari Har Suta with the abilities of both Shiva and Vishnu. This is another presentation of Man marrying man or Same-sex in Hinduism was fine with God’s even.
6) Mention of third gender In Charak Samhita:
It is mentioned that when the maternal elements are dominated the child will be female, if paternal is stronger the child conceived will be male but when both are equally strong the child born will be specified as no sex that was considered the Third gender.
7) Lord Rama blessing third gender:
When Lord Rama left for exile, the whole kingdom followed him to the forest, but he stopped everyone and asked them to leave in the manner “ Men and women, please wipe your tears and go away”. Men and women left but those who were neither men nor women stayed for 14 years. When Lord Rama returned he blessed them with a special gift in Hindi mythology. Even today their blessings are auspicious on many occasions.
What does it tell us about LQBTQ in Hinduism?
These stories tell us nothing but how acceptance was widely known. LGBTQ existed before and everyone was fine with it. There is no mention of these being a sin or sinful practice. Lord Krishna who’s is said to be possessing most of the feminine side has a beautiful message when he agreed to dress up as Radha and letting Radha dress up as him that it doesn’t matter what we wear, men and women are no bar to the social norms. He is mostly represented as Queer people because of the way he dresses up.
Where did we go wrong?
Society and their norms:
Most of the people who present themselves as Hindu haven’t have read Gita. These people will still have many things to say about how religion should work. The society is an accumulation of half-knowledge brains, they don’t know what they are talking about but they certainly like the idea of imposing.
British Raj and their rules:
At the times of the Mughal emperor it was normal and the transgender community was highly appreciated. But British Raj enforced a controversial 1871 law, where it was criminalized to be the third gender. They even brutally murdered some Eunuchs and didn’t allow them to dress up as female.
How the scenario is changing in India?
India is Hindu dominant country, where it was kept as a foundation to accept the LGBTQ community. So there was nothing that could stop us to eventually achieve that level. So finally on 24 August 2017, India’s Supreme Court gave the country’s LGBT community the freedom to safely express their sexual orientation. That is a great win celebrated every day, but there is more to go. The current generation is being taught to be accepting and welcoming of all. The openness that Hinduism is teaching us we are adopting that, and I hope that we clear a place in society for the LGBTQ community without any judgment and hesitation in the future.
FOOTNOTE BY AUTHOR: I know it is 1 Jul today, I was hoping to write it in Gay pride month but it’s never too late for good things. All the thoughts included here are my thoughts and I wish you to understand it and respect it without mocking anything. If I’m missing any details or if I put anything in an insensitive way I apologize for that. Let me know my flaws in the comments.