Currently, the issue of homosexuality in Hinduism is controversial, especially amongst Hindus in countries where homosexuality is generally accepted. Hindu views of homosexuality are varying and diverse, in part because the accepted Hindu religious texts do not explicitly mention homosexuality.
Homosexuality is also a complex matter in Hinduism because of the many types of religious life. In general, "twice-born" Hindus are prohibited from homosexual acts (maithunam pumsi), such as in Manusmrti 11:174, which mentions both men and women.
On the other hand, the famous Kama Sutra states that homosexual sex "is to be engaged in and enjoyed for its own sake as one of the arts." In general, then, the Hindu evaluation of homosexuality depends heavily on the context.
Homosexuality has an ancient history in India. Ancient texts like Rig Veda (which dates back around 1500 BC), sculptures and vestiges depict sexual acts between women as revelations of a feminine world where sexuality was based on pleasure and fertility.
There are great differences amongst Hindus as to whether homosexuality is acceptable behavior. The debate takes place against the background of Hinduism's teachings on love, sex, and marriage, which might be summarized as follows:
Marriage in Hinduism is said to fulfill three functions: Prajaa, Dharma, and Rati. In marriage, Prajaa is progeny for perpetuation of one's family, Dharma is fulfillment of responsibilities, and Rati is companionship as friends and mutual pleasure as lovers. These three functions are given in the Dharma Shastras, books that are not considered to be religiously binding within Hinduism.
In Hinduism many of the divinities are androgynous and some change gender to participate in homoerotic behavior. In the popular Hindu epic Mahabharata, a transgender character named Sikhandin plays a pivotal role (5.191-5).
In modern India, transgendered men known as Hijras have sex with men. They religiously identify as a separate third sex, with many undergoing ritual castration. In Hindu thought a man who penetrates a Hijra is not defined as gay. And in the Kama Sutra sex acts involving homosexuality are regarded in some castes permissible while not in other castes.
Most of the debate on homosexuality within Hinduism is centered on these three teachings, and how proponents and opponents of homosexuality interpret these teachings.
Opponents of homosexuality argue that:
Proponents of homosexuality argue:
Within the Srimad Bhagavatam there are a few lines (Canto 3, Ch.20 Text 23, 24 & 26) that describe Brahma's creation of a group of demons that became obsessed with sex and demanded sex from him, but then he became frightened and ran away from them. Opponents of homosexuality believe this proves that homosexual behaviour is lustful and evil. Proponents of homosexuality argue that the demons were the children of Brahma, and that this story teaches that incest is lustful and evil (compare to the story of Shatarupa).
This article incorporates text from "Homosexuality and Hinduism" at Wikipedia.org, and as such is available under the GFDL license.
|Title||Hinduism and Homosexuality|
|Published||March 17, 2015|
|Updated||October 29, 2016|
|MLA Citation||“Hinduism and Homosexuality.” ReligionFacts.com. 29 Oct. 2016. Web. Accessed 10 Dec. 2016. <www.religionfacts.com/|