The lines dividing male and female, heterosexual and homosexual were blurred in ancient India. These tales have been passed on from one generation to another with pride. Perhaps they have roots in Indian heritage, which accepted all kinds of people without any judgment. Our history preaches that there is nothing unnatural in nature, analyses Nikita, dispelling the taboo surrounding homosexuality, exclusively in Different Truths.
Religion has become a very profitable business in the 21st century and therefore what our ancestors believed and practiced is often debatable. All religions preach tolerance, compassion, love, and acceptance of one another. Contradictorily, wars are fought for ages in the name of religion.
All religions either have one prophet or worship one God. Hinduism, in that case, does not quite fit into the category of a religion. It has as many Gods as the religious rites or performances. Every person who believes in Hinduism is free to choose his own personalized way of worshipping God. It could be closely related to henotheistic (i.e., involving devotion to a single god while accepting the existence of others.)
Men and not women have written all religious books. This also explains why all religions have subdued women as an inferior race. The third sex, in this scenario, is seen as non-existent. Many countries still consider same-sex marriages punishable by law including India. However, historical literary evidence indicates that homosexuality has been prevalent across the Indian subcontinent throughout history and that homosexuals were not necessarily considered inferior in any way until about 18th century.
Here are few references, which prove that Hinduism has never considered homosexuality a crime and foreigners levied it upon us;
1. The Mughal empire combined a number of the preexisting Delhi Sultanate laws into the Fatwa-e-Alamgiri, mandating a common set of punishments for Zina (unlawful intercourse), these could include 50 lashes for a slave, 100 for a free infidel, or death by stoning for a Muslim.
2. Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), dating back to 1861, makes sexual activities “against the order of nature” punishable by law and carries a life sentence under The British Raj. It is a 150-year-old law imposed upon our society by the British that goes against thousands of years of historical precedence.
Here is a reference from our religious scriptures that narrate stories of homosexuals and how they were never seen as “the other”:
1. The Markandeya Purana carries the story of Avikshita, the son of a king who refused to marry because he believed he was a woman.
2. Rajasthan folklore tells tale about Teeja and Beeja, two women, are inadvertently promised to one another in marriage by their fathers
3. Kama Sutra, a classic written in the first millennium by Sage Vatsyayana, devotes a whole chapter to homosexual sex saying, “It is to be engaged in and enjoyed for its own sake as one of the arts.
4. In Valmiki’s Ramayana, Hanuman is said to have seen Rakshasa women kissing and embracing those women who have been kissed and embraced by Ravana.
5. In the Mahabharata, Drupada raises his daughter Shikhandini as a man and even gets ‘him’ a wife
6. Krishna turned into a woman, married Aravan, spent a night with him and when he was finally beheaded, mourned for him like a widow.
7. Vishnu even procreated with Shiva in the Mohini form, resulting in the birth of Ayyappa, a major figure still worshipped by millions who make pilgrimages to shrines in India.
The lines dividing male and female, heterosexual and homosexual were blurred in ancient India. These tales have been passed on from one generation to another with pride. Where do these stories stem from? Perhaps they have roots in Indian heritage, which accepted all kinds of people without any judgment. Our history preaches that there is nothing unnatural in nature. We were the glorious people with an open mind and a good heart. Is it the right time to attain wisdom from our own ancestors?
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s vice-president Om Prakash Singhal said, “Homosexuality is against Indian culture, against nature, and against science.” It could be against Indian culture but not Hinduism as India of today represents an amalgamation of all religions, cultures, races, and beliefs all over the world.
Maybe, it is the time we discover our own truth as Rig-Veda says, Vikriti Evam Prakriti, which translates as the unnatural, is also natural.
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