An interesting take on LGBT folks in Hinduism
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« on: February 14, 2018, 09:29:13 pm »

I was raised Hindu, and am an atheist now. But I do find Hinduism's stance regarding LGBT issues very interesting. There is no clarity (unlike say Christianity or Islam), so there are many ways of interpreting scriptures. One of the more interesting ones is from the Rigveda, one of the four canonical sacred texts of Hinduism. It says 'Vikruti Evam Prakriti'  which means perversity/diversity is what nature is all about, and what seems unnatural is also natural.

I find that to be a beautiful sentiment, one that I haven't seen many religions take.
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« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2018, 05:19:46 pm »

I was raised Hindu, and am an atheist now. But I do find Hinduism's stance regarding LGBT issues very interesting. There is no clarity (unlike say Christianity or Islam), so there are many ways of interpreting scriptures. One of the more interesting ones is from the Rigveda, one of the four canonical sacred texts of Hinduism. It says 'Vikruti Evam Prakriti'  which means perversity/diversity is what nature is all about, and what seems unnatural is also natural.

I find that to be a beautiful sentiment, one that I haven't seen many religions take.

Are there any scriptures in Hinduism which you'd interpret as... homophobic? Explicitly or implicitly.
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« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2018, 10:19:26 pm »

There is a rather esoteric bit buried in, which lists 12 (or maybe it was 15) types of "men who are not men", including "men who have vaginas", "men who use their mouths as vaginas", "men who use their ass as vaginas" etc.
It is tough to say whether it's homophobic or whether it embraces homosexuality, since it does not advocate hatred for said categories, and maybe legitimises them by acknowledgement. It could also be interpreted as saying that these are not "real men," and is perhaps meant to deprive them of patriarchal authority.

Hinduism has been trans- friendly, with gods/deities taking transgender forms, incarnating in opposite genders, lusting said opposite-gendered incarnation etc. Trans communities have traditionally been acknowledged, respected, and given space in society.

Unfortunately, some very popular religious figures are now marketing their yoga retreats as un-gaying centres. They get away with classifying homosexuality as a disease because it is not directly mentioned at all in scripture. And Hinduism is generally used as a tool for oppression by politicians today, who interpret it to cater to their political ends.
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« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2018, 09:29:47 am »

There is a rather esoteric bit buried in, which lists 12 (or maybe it was 15) types of "men who are not men", including "men who have vaginas", "men who use their mouths as vaginas", "men who use their ass as vaginas" etc.
It is tough to say whether it's homophobic or whether it embraces homosexuality, since it does not advocate hatred for said categories, and maybe legitimises them by acknowledgement. It could also be interpreted as saying that these are not "real men," and is perhaps meant to deprive them of patriarchal authority.

Hinduism has been trans- friendly, with gods/deities taking transgender forms, incarnating in opposite genders, lusting said opposite-gendered incarnation etc. Trans communities have traditionally been acknowledged, respected, and given space in society.

Unfortunately, some very popular religious figures are now marketing their yoga retreats as un-gaying centres. They get away with classifying homosexuality as a disease because it is not directly mentioned at all in scripture. And Hinduism is generally used as a tool for oppression by politicians today, who interpret it to cater to their political ends.

How does Hinduism feel about crossdressers or effeminate men?
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« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2018, 06:04:03 pm »

There isn't a definitive stand on cross-dressing per se, but many folk traditions involve men dancing in drag to religious songs during festivals, so it was clearly never a problem.
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« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2018, 03:12:31 pm »

In the English translation of the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, urging him to fight in the Mahabharata war:

 "Do not become a coward, O Arjuna, because it does not befit you. Shake off this weakness of your heart and get up (for the battle), O Arjuna." (2.03)

There are many English translations and sadly, many translations into Indian languages that are retranslations of English. The actual Sanskrit word translated as "coward" above is "Kliba". The meaning of Kliba is very clear from multiple Sanskrit sources. It means any man who would make an unsuitable husband for a woman because he is impotent with women for physical or psychological reasons. It is also clear from Sanskrit texts that list the many types of men who are Kliba, that it includes gay men.

English translators of ancient Hindu (and Buddhist) texts often deliberately translated words that seemed vulgar to their Victorian English audiences inaccurately (or just left the sections out of the translation completely). The most precise translation they could come up with for Kliba and therefor the one that has most often stuck even into modern times is "eunuch", although the practice of castrating boys to make sterile men (eunuchs) was unknown in ancient India, though it was later introduced from the Muslim world.

For scholars who know the accurate meaning of "Kliba", the very famous verse from the Bhagavad Gita that I quoted above has been taken to be a condemnation of Homosexuality in (arguably) Hinduism's most important scripture.

However, this is only because people read the Bhagavad Gita outside of its Mahabharata context. People who know the full story known that just before the start of the war, Arjuna and his brothers spent twelve years in exile and then the thirteenth year in disguise. Arjuna spent his thirteenth year disguised as a woman Brihannala, but due to a curse from the Apsara Urvashi, he was not only disguised as a woman, he was changed into a woman to the extent that when the women of the king's harem "inspected" "him" (presumably looked at his genitals), he passed as a woman.

It is clear from the context that Krishna's words to Arjuna at the start of the war were not a criticism of Kliba people. In the context of the Mahabharata, it should be:

"Do not hesitate Arjuna, otherwise people will think that you are still a transexual woman, (i.e. Brihannala)".

There is a very interesting book called:

Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex: Understanding Homosexuality,Transgender Identity,and Intersex Conditions Through Hinduism by Amara Das Wilhelm

I have to admit that I have only read about the first half. It does drag on a bit but it contains a huge quantity of well researched information about Homosexuality and Hinduism historically.


PS, I have uploaded the epub of that book to this site if you are interested.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2018, 04:50:48 pm by (Hidden) » Logged


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