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I haven’t really talked about many Hindu Concepts on this blog, but I was very upset after hearing this. Now just to be clear, I am a college student, and I just read up on Hinduism on my spare time. I am not an expert by any means, but that does not mean I am not knowlegable.
So yesterday, my boyfriend was telling me about a guest speaker he heard at HSC (Hindu Student Council) camp. He mentioned that the speaker talked about some people interpreting some characters in the Mahabharata as gay. He then told me that many people at the camp thought that it was very disrespectful that this idea was even being thought of and talked about. I could not find the thesis online (although I am sure it available somewhere, if someone can direct m I would love to read it), I have a feeling the character whose sexuality is in question is Arjun. (My boyfriend could not recall the name of the character.)
I just sat there and wondered, why? Why would this interpretation be disrespectful? Again, I could not find the thesis, but being an academic thesis I would assume this person did extensive research (I am told psychoanalysis and reading in-between the lines…). I am also assuming that they do not say that Arjun (or who ever this character is) did not complete all the actions mentioned in the Mahabharata. So the question is, do these people find it disrespectful just because this person (as well as others) believes he was homosexual?
Now this is the part where I get confused. How is a homosexual character disrespectful? Even though there are many different sects in Hinduism, the one uniting principle, I thought, was Dharma. Duty. There are many different duties a person may have, one to him or herself, to their family, society, etc. Some of these duties are more important than others. Did Arjun not complete his duties in the Mahabharata to his best ability? Does a homosexual man or women not complete their duties? They have jobs and families. It is not like their homosexuality gets in the way of that. One could argue that one of their duties is to have children rather than indulge in their desires, but I could argue that if they adopt that they are fulfilling a duty to humanity. After all, children are much better off with a loving family than in an orphanage. As for indulging, we also have a duty to ourselves. Not all of us are enlightened beings and Hinduism permits us to have fun and enjoy ourselves. After all, all work and no play doesn’t make you more productive, it hinders you. If you can’t even fulfill a duty to your well being, how can you take on the world? All Hinduism states is to use moderation so it does not get in the way of our duties.
Homosexuality is not something new to Hinduism either. It has been mentioned in many texts and is even in exotic temple carvings! I will post more of these stories and pictures later on, to not make this post too long. While there are positive mentions of homosexuality, others will point out negative ones as well. To that point, I argue that in Hinduism, the Vedas are supreme over any text after it. As posted earlier in this tumblr:
Vikruti Evam Prakriti
What seems unnatural is also natural.
Hinduism believes in infinite cycles. (See earlier post on a quote by Swami Vivekananda.) Perhaps we are in a middle of a transition between where homosexuality was discouraged to one where it is acknowledged as natural because clearly in the past it was. One of the reasons Hinduism has lasted so long is because of it’s beautiful nature to adapt. It is such a flexible religion and lifestyle, that often I am baffled by those who tell me vegetarianism and heterosexuality is the Hindu way. To that notion, I wholeheartedly disagree.
I will expand on this topic as time goes on. For now if anyone has any questions or comments please ask! I would love to hear what my followers have to say. And again, if anyone can find me this thesis I would be very happy!
P.S. Congrats NY on their new legislation!