Monday, July 6, 2009

Hindu Thought on Gay rights and Transgenders.

In the wake of the recent judgment of the Delhi High Court on LGBT, there is a criticism that religion comes in the way of the 'rights' of the gays, transgenders etc. Religions are criticized by the media and vested interests as coming in the way of rights and equality of LGBTs . While the other religionists have severely condemned the judgment, not much is heard from the Hindu side.  The two articles posted below (by Mr S.Gurumurthy and Dr S. Kalyanaraman) put in perspective how Hinduism treats this issue.

The basis of this issue is the segregation of the two genders with attendant codes binding them.

One Male and all others as female (God- Souls)

Hindu Thought begins from the genderless One Brahman that undergoes a division in the manifestation of Purusha giving rise to duality such as male – female, day- night, heat- cold etc in the nature of positive and negative.

The dual parts of the Purusha combine with each other to produce by-products thereby continuing Creation as a chain. One can find the details of this in Brihadaranyaka Upanishad and Aithareya Upanishad.

The duality as male and female is part of the One Ultimate God, Brahman which is necessary for the purpose of taking Creation to its logical end. The logical end is that of providing a turf – an environment for the jeevas (souls) to discharge their Karma so that they can come out of the Karmic bond of birth and re-birth.

The identity of a gender is to the births and not to the souls. The soul gets enshrined in a male or female body to discharge some karmas, some duties and some actions that can help the soul to come out of this binding cycle.

In the manifestation as a male or a female, the Hindu Dharma recommends the best course possible to discharge the karma. This Hindu Dharma is not a religion in the meaning of the term as it is understood. It is about a way of life – about how one must behave and lead a life in tandem with the purpose of Creation of this world and also the purpose of one's birth at any given time in this world. The purpose about oneself is to discharge the prarabhdha karma and to undergo experiences so that the soul transcends in its awareness about itself in its journey towards Liberation from this cycle

The Liberation is such that the Souls finally rest with / in the Brahman.
That is the Final Union! In Tamil, it is called as 'PErinbam' (Consummation of the Soul with God. Soul is personified as female and God as Male).

A replica of that Union in human births is called as 'Sittrinbam' (sexual consummation between a man and a woman).

In both cases, there are two entities – one male and one female coming into union.
An Union is that which happens between dual entities.
In the Final Union, the Ultimate God Himself is the Male – the PurushOtthaman!
All the souls are considered as Females only.

Even the enlightened Alwars and other devotees have at some time imagined themselves as females desiring for the One Male – the Ultimate God.

The naayaka- naayaki bhava is said to be the ideal bhavana to realize God.
The male –female union in marriage itself is considered as sacred bhavana of a union with God.
So the basic tendency of any desire towards another sex is based on this dual nature of the genders.
Looking through this perspective, there can not be attraction between the same gender.

But the general notion is that in gay relationship, male desirers a male.
Let us analyze this view from Hindu point of view

About Homosexuality in astrology

If a male has a male feeling in him, he will desire only a female. That is the way Nature works. If he desires another male, it means he has a female orientation in him. His partner in relationship also must be having the female orientation in him in such a way that he can not accept a female as his partner.

This issue is discussed in almost all astrological works.
Here one should not dismiss astrology as out of place, because it is the Eye of the Veda-purusha. It is only through it we can understand Creation, Created worlds, Created beings and the way the Karma theory works.

According to astrology of Hindus, though all the rules and combinations are common to both genders, there are a few which are peculiar to only females.
Female horoscopy or Sthree Jathaka has been in vogue from ancient times.
A separate set of clauses have been given by Maharishis about the different peculiar ways that some women behave. Such behavior is to do with the sexual desires. One such has been pointed out by most writers. Let me quote 2 of them – one from Varahamihira and another from Narada samhita.

In Chapter 24-7 of Brihad Jhathaka, Varahamihira gives the combination of planets that make the person behave in a way different from normality.
"If Saturn and Venus are in each other's navamsas, aspecting mutually, or if the birth falls in Taurus or Libra, with the Navamsa rising in Aquarius, the woman will get satisfaction from females dressed in male attire"

Verse 303 & 304 0f Samhita skanda of Narada Purana –II-55, says,
"If Venus and Saturn should occupy each other's Navamsa or if Venus be in Aquarius  Navamsa, the woman concerned would get highly inflamed by sexual congress with members of her own sex."

Two insights are drawn from these verses
(1)   No Marriage rights.
What is at first understood from these verses is that certain combination of planets do make the native born under the combination seek sexual gratification in abnormal ways. These abnormal practices are there at all times but they were very much limited to only those born under these astrological combinations.

Hindu Dharma as told in astrological texts does recognize this behavior and has also accounted for the reason for such behavior (astrologically induced).

What one must understand is that this is not a birth right or human right. One must understand that the soul has no gender. Only upon birth it gets a gender. When the birth happens in certain combination that makes one get as dual identity in a single body, then it must be considered as an aberration. Aberrations can not become altruisms. Abnormality can not be given a stamp of approval as being normal

Hindu Thought recognizes such behavior but it did not go beyond that.
Because, it is not warranted.
Let us see why?
The protagonists of the law want marriage rights between the same sexes.
How can marriage or union happen between 2 identities of same nature?
Marriage is not about an approval for sexual intercourse.
Hindu Dharma defines Vivaha (marriage) as 'vishesena vahati iti vivaha:'
It means Vivaha is that which gives special rights!
What are those special rights?
They are about the rights which the man can do only as a married one,
particularly all those yajnas / homas / spiritual karmas which he can not do
without his patni or wife.

Then who is this patni?
"patyAm vrathE thishtathi iti patni" (patni is one who has avowed to stand by Pati) –
Patni is one who stands by her pati in all his actions.

Why do they unite in marriage?
Because that ensures the completion of a circuit by union of  purusha (man) and sthree (woman) wherein man is considered as the doer and woman the thinker or the motivational force behind him in discharging the 3 Purusharthas of Dharma, Arttha and Kaama so that the 4th and the ultimate pursushartha of Moksha can be attained by them.
This is the purpose of marriage.
(More on this link )

This is Hindu Thought.
This is also the way the Karma theory works and quickly enables the souls to finish their dues so that they can hope to come out of the Karmic cycle soon. It is for this reason the 4- staged Ashrama dharma is handed down to us. The second stage (gruhastha) is about life with a partner so that most of the accrued karma is discharged off at this stage.
In this context, if one is born with astrological combination as given above, it is the most unfortunate thing to happen to him or her. A life of opportunity is lost for a person born in such combinations. The Karmic explanation for such a birth is that the person is only wearing off the burden of karma by behaving like that!

That is why the Hindu society has not made a big issue of them. Nor has it encouraged such behavior.

(2)  Predominance of Female factor.
Astrology indicates homosexuality as having predominance of female factor. No astrological text tells about astrological combination of a female becoming a male. Whenever that has happened, the changed male is considered as a female only.

We do have an episode in Mahabharata of a female becoming a male. Shikandini became Shikandi to fight with Bheeshma. But when Shikandi stood face to face with Bheeshma in the battle field, Bheeshma did not fight with him because he considered him as a female only.

That is, if a person changes his gender, the actual genotype identifies him/ her as the original entity he/ she is born as.
Similarly if a male changes into female, his genotype does not change with the sex change. This is an issue noted in sports where we need legal provisions to handle the issue of male or female genotype with physical resemblance of another gender, to take part in a sports event meant for a particular gender.

Varahamihira's verse is about 2 issues, one about such persons who change into female though they possess male gene type (or any transgender) and another about same sex relationship (gay / lesbian).
The said astrological combinations make a woman desire a woman in a male form / changed from a male.

The woman in a male desires the woman in another male. The so-called female- male balance in gay relationship is not possible according to this rationale. If one exhibits maleness then he would desire a female and not a female in a male. If two men desire each other, then it means / fulfils Varahamihira's verse of a female (in a male) desiring a female found in another male.

Change of sex at the fetal level.

Astrology explains transgender issue separately as this is something that happens at the fetal level. The recognition of gender begins at the 3rd month of conception when the planet Jupiter rules. Hindu seers have known that this period is vulnerable to change in the sex of the baby. The manipulation of the sex of the fetus can happen with a ceremony called "pumsavanam". Vediks permitted sex change at this 3rd month of pregnancy for the first child only, for the sake of getting a male progeny. The male progeny born in the consummation of marriage of young and healthy couple at the most auspicious moment of Nisheka –muhurtha is said to be most virtuous and desirable one who can shoulder the mantle of the family and continue the lineage to the satisfaction of all by discharging the 3 debts that one is born with (pithru, deva and rishi runa).

If the planetary combination at the time of sex formation in the baby is unfavorable and if Jupiter is afflicted at that moment, the problem of sex identity arises in the fetus.

Some astrological combinations identifying such a birth are as follows:-
(1)   The sun and the moon aspect each other, Mercury and Saturn aspect each other.
(2)   Mars aspects sun in an even rasi and lagna and moon in odd rasis.
(3)   Mars aspects moon in an even rasi and mercury in an odd sign. Mars aspects odd Navamsa.

This is a serious issue that is certainly unfortunate to happen to one. The transgenders do undergo the trauma which is not their own making. A sympathetic approach is needed to make life endurable for them.

The problem is with the female who is attracted to the transgender and not the transgender. (Varahamihira's verse is about such a female). In fact a person who turned into female would like a normal relationship with a male and not a female.

The issue with gays is not similar to this. If a man likes another man, it is because of the female orientation in him. (We can see the role of female horoscopy here too.) If he can not marry a female, it is because he is a female in mind though he is a male genetically and physically. The other male who is attracted to him also has a similar mental make-up. Psychologists say that the two males take up the complementary roles of a dominative and a submissive partner. It is what they rationalize for their behavior. But sexually both of them have female orientation only, because of which they are not attracted to females! These persons also are born under the astrological combination given by Varahamihira.

The predominance of female orientation is a fact of Creation because all the souls are in the nature of females – being subservient to Purushotthama.

Only the female factor is predominant in gay relations. It is obvious in lesbian relations.
It is prominent in transgenders too. The male becomes female or the female becomes male retaining the female genotype.

But that does not mean that they must be consummated in a marriage.

Marriage as an Ashrama has a different purpose as explained above.

Such rare behavior can not also be branded as a fundamental right. There have been many instances of abnormal relationships. We can not give a stamp of approval for all those behavior
For instance a person may desire sexual relationship with his daughter, or a son with his mother. We have seen instances such as these. No one says that it is the fundamental right of one to have consensual sex with his daughter or mother or brother.

It is because it goes against fundamental norms of family. Similarly the gay sex and approval for the same is against the fundamental norm of Nature of Man and Woman. That can not be approved though we know that such tendencies are there in some.

-         Jayasree.


Homosexuality is not a virtue 
By S Gurumurthy 

05 Jul 2009 12:59:00 AM IST
Homosexuals displaced the Economic Survey for the year 2008-09 from the headlines of most media on July 3, 2009. "Historic bench mark"; "Sexual equality"; "Landmark Judgement". This is how the media had headlined the Delhi High Court judgment holding Sec 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which makes homosexual acts offences in law, partly unconstitutional. Sec 377 of the Indian Penal Code was not Manu's code. It was Macaulay's. This colonial law made homo sexuality punishable.

In Judo-Christian tradition, homosexuality was seen an act against the law of God, punishable even with death. The Islamic rules also prescribed capital punishment for the offence. In all Abrahamic traditions, the hostility to homosexuality originated in the story associated with a city as Sodom (the etymological source of the world 'sodomy') where the sexual sin was first committed according to their texts, though the respective accounts varied. This is the philosophy of the law against homosexuals in Abrahamic societies. Macaulay's law reflected their theological position. Earlier, there was no state law in India to punish homosexuality. Does that mean that the Hindu — read Indian — tradition approved of homosexuality? Read on.  

What was the position of the state and state enacted laws in India such matters? The king or the state in India had refrained from handling most issues which the society or families could handle. It is the colonial state, with its laws and courts that began to intrude the sovereign domain of the family and society. The Indian discipline was always built around unenforced social and family norms; not state laws. Self-restraint and shyness were the tools to regulate the deviants from the norms, not the police or courts. Even today, it is this non-formal moral order — read dharma — not the laws of parliament or state assemblies, that largely governs this society. India is otherwise ungovernable; just some 12000 plus police stations in some 7 lakh towns and villages cannot regulate over 110 crore people. Thanks to this moral order, the Indian society had handled, and even now handles, such sensitive issues with great finesse than does state law. It is in stark contrast to the gross state law and media discourse of today.

Historian Devdutt Pattanaik says that in Hindu literature 'though not part of the mainstream, the existence of homosexuality was recognised, but, not approved'. Narada smiriti prohibited marriage of homo sexual men with women. Manu did suggest mild punishments for homos, but of an extreme type. The Indian tradition therefore neither encouraged nor punished lesbians or gays; nor did it celebrate them or despise them. It regarded them as a small, marginal fact of life, preferring to ignore them; and treating them as not worthy of public discussion for or against that might disturb the rest of the society. 

Homosexuals are, in numbers, marginal even in the West. In the US where the gay-lesbians are aggressive in the public discourse, the 2000 US Census data reveals that only 0.42% households are same-sex households. Studies in US or France and Canada show just some 1-2% admits to be gays or lesbians. The deviation from the mainstream behaviour is as marginal as that. Yet it is the geo-Christian hostility to even such marginal groups that turns them into vociferous action groups in the West.

In the Indian — read Hindu — civilisational ethos, humans had never been seen as belonging to one uniform behavioural class. The Indian civilisation had recognised diversity in behaviour and  morals. It therefore never imposed one moral value or rule for all. But it believed in a hierarchy of moral principles. It held out right conduct as ideal for the rest to imbibe and follow, but on their own volition. Even as it had evolved normative moral principles for the mainline society, it had subtly ignored, rather than focus on or punish, the deviants. Those who could not follow an ideal were never held as illustration for others to follow. 

For example, the Indian society had evolved one man-one wife as the ideal model for life, but never made it the law. It had indeed celebrated monogamy; but had never prohibited or punished polygamy. It did not even outlaw polyandry. Even today, regardless of the law, polygamy prevails in different parts of India. Even polyandry exists in certain communities in North India. It is neither proscribed nor accepted by others. But even those who did not follow the ideal of monogamy never disputed its virtue; nor did those who followed that virtue look down upon those who did not.

Sri Rama was monogamous, but his father, Dasharatha, was polygamous. Yet, Rama revered him; obeyed him totally. Rama is therefore regarded, besides an ideal being, an ideal son as well.
But Prahlada defied his father; he is regarded as an ideal person, though some may not see him as an ideal son like Rama.
Likewise, Sita obeyed her husband; but Meera defied hers; and yet both are accepted as great. Obeying one's husband or one's father or being monogamous was held as a high virtue.

Even the more macro idea of "ahimsa paramo dharma", namely non- violence as "the highest value", was regarded as a virtue of those only who had  renounced the world; and not for householders and others. So the society was ruled more by hierarchy of virtues and illustrative conduct than by law. What is correct was never judged by how many people  adhered to it; but how virtuous it was and regarded by all as such. 

Tolerance for the deviants from generally accepted human conduct is part of the Indian ethos.
Here, the society would wisely ignore the marginal deviants rather than punish them, even discuss them — a more subtle, sensible social management principle. The society felt, even now feels, shy to discuss them. That is why the traditional religious scholars have refused to be drawn into the current debate on the issue.
In the Indian tradition, homosexuals, as elsewhere, were thus regarded as deviants. But, here, unlike in the Abrahamic, the right of these deviants to exist without being punished was never denied; and will never be. Yet no one can argue here or elsewhere that homosexuality is a virtue. No law or court of law can declare it as a virtue. That is the crux of the debate; and that is what is being obfuscated. 

QED: The Delhi High Court ruling held only one part of Sec 377 as unconstitutional. But what part is held constitutional — that is, what act of homosexuality is still punishable — cannot be described without allowing the discourse to become shameless; without spilling filth in the discourse. So it is not being described as shamelessness should yield to shyness. But, the media, particularly the visual, has been purveying needless filth using the issue for quite some time now. And growing shamelessness is replacing dignified shyness that marks the public discourse. Is it fair to subject a shy society to a shameless debate?  

Gurumurthy is an economic and political
commentator. E-mail:


Marriage is a samskara, homosexuality is perversity, vikruti
Dr S. Kalyanaraman
Marriage is a sacred institution under Hindu Law. It cannot be subject to constitutional morality.
 Crime is a public wrong. The determination of what is public wrong is by the Samajam, and cannot be within the jurisdiction of a court of law. It is for the courts to enforce ethical standards set by the public.
 The word crime originates from the Latin crīmen (genitive: criminis), from the root of Latin cernō = "I decide, I give judgement" and Greek κρινω = "I judge". Originally the Latin word crīmen meant "charge (in law), guiltaccusation" (Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, 1989). A normative definition views crime as deviant behavior that violates prevailing norms  – cultural standards prescribing how humans ought to behave normally. 
Section 377 laid down homosexuality as a crime and is consistent with the ethical standards set by the public.
The very foundation of the Samajam is
·          a family governed by a respect for the traditions handed down to us by our elders;
·          a family which respects the natural laws and spirituality of every atman
·          a family which cherishes family values starting with a respect for the mother, matr devo bhava.
The ethical framework of this foundation is clearly NOT the atomized individual but the individual as a part of a larger network of relationships evolved through samskaras, respect for the mother, respect for the elders and responsibility towards the children and the helpless. 

Marriage is a samskara which ensures the stability of the family as the founding institution of the polity. The marriage is sanctified by the responsibility to strengthen the marital bond and by a vow to care for the offspring born out of wedlock. Homosexuality makes a mockery of the marriage as the foundation institution of the Samajam.   

Hindu law related to marriage, adoption, and inheritance, religious usages are a compendium of treatises derived from dharmashastras and dharmashastra traditions determining dharma, the fundamental duty of every citizen. This is the foundation of the Indian Constitutional morality and cannot be overridden by any legal interpretations. Fundamental duty overrides individual rights; this is Hindu law. If the Constitution is interpreted as framed only on the basis of liberties of individuals, it is an erroneous interpretation foisted by the courts of law.

This is a fundamental difference between Hindu Law and Anglo-Saxon Law: fundamental duty, dharma is the source of all laws codified by shrutis, smrutis and aacaara. What we have in vogue through a mish-mash of Macaulay-based criminal procedures is a hybrid referred to as Anglo-Hindu law.

It is time that we get back to Hindu law as the uniform civil and criminal code of the nation of Hindusthan.

Vyavahara is a matter justiciable before a court of law. The samskara of marriage governed by the sanctity and spirituality of motherhood and fatherhood are NOT justiciable in a court of law.

If public morality determines it to be deviant behaviour to indulge in, say, gay sex, no constitutional morality clause can be invoked by any court of law. Public morality is supreme and the courts are bound by this morality expressed through unambiguous laws as in Section 377 of CrPC.

To claim constitutional morality as superior to public morality is a travesty of justice and goes against the very grain of separation of powers. If the courts are confused about Constitutional provisions, the people enact appropriate Constitutional amendments to make it abundantly clear to the Courts that homosexuality is deemed to be unacceptable, deviant, vikruti Criminal behavior.


James said...

Thanks for giving an in depth analysis on such an important topic.Google

jayasree said...

Thanks Mr James

jayasree said...

Genetic study on ‘gay genes’-