LGBTQ and Modern Hinduism
“I am equal towards all living beings: no one is hated by me and no one is beloved. Those who worship me with devotion, however, are in me, and I am in them” - Krishna, Bhagwat Gita 9.29
From a religion that was one of the world's most liberal and most scientific religions, modern Hinduism today has become dispiriting. Most of the Indian Hindus today use their religion as an excuse to disapprove of homosexuality. The same religion that has varying proofs of homosexual gods, a book called Kamasutra, and a temple named Khajuraho.
Then why do most Hindus today ignore the LGBTQ community and disregard the topic of homosexuality as a taboo? Let's dive right into it by first insighting a brief history of Hinduism and homosexuality.
Hinduism has always been a religion that is based on the basis of condemning hinsa or violence. The Hindu religion only prohibits same-sex relations that lead to harm to either party. Hinduism neither condemns nor condones homosexuality. There is no mention of homosexuality in the four Vedas, but there isn't any mention of its prohibition, either. Manu Smriti, however, does acknowledge the existence of a third gender.
In the Gita, there is a quote”samatyam yoga ucyate” that is, yoga is equanimity, which means nothing in life is bad or good. We decide for ourselves what is good or bad for us. Equanimity is about accepting everything natural as God's creation, including people from the third gender. even in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit, there are pronouns and nouns for a third gender napusakling (not striling: female or puliing: male)
There are a number of mythologies and puranic scriptures stating the existence of gods in more than one form of gender. The major Hindu god, Shiva, is shown to hold two sides to his body: the right as Shiva and the left as Shakti. Lord Krishna is shown cross-dressing with Radha to such an extent that one cannot tell who is Radha and who is Krishna. Although cross dressing instills the idea of one body two souls, it still shows cross-dressing existing way back. The great Mahabharata has examples of Arjuna taking the form of Brinhala, a third gender dance teacher and teaching dance to a princess. The Sushruta Samhita also states that men with dominant feminine energy and women with dominant masculine energy are found having the same energies in the womb. Thus, establishing that being gay is not a choice but something a person is born with. The medieval temple of Khajuraho also shows acts of same-sex relations via sculptures on walls.
The question that comes to our mind is, then, how did a religion that was so open about homosexuality become a part of the Indian culture that is so homophobic? It is when the British happened and when Islamic biased rulers took over India. Thomas Macaulay introduced section 377 to the Indian penal code. A penal code that was made a part of the Indian constitution till 2018. This section prohibited same-sex relations and breaking it was punishable by life imprisonment. It was decriminalized in the UK by 1967 but continued in India till the Supreme Court decriminalized it in 2018.
So what does all this mean for modern Hindus and the upcoming generations? There are a lot of hate groups and gurus that are anti-LGBTQIA. A true devotee of Hinduism must research their facts and learn about the rich history of Hinduism and India to form an opinion about homosexuality. No, it's not a crime, and no, Hinduism doesn't condemn it. So,why hate people based on who they love? Why guilt trip them in the name of religion when you can just accept the fact that love is love? All love is valid.