Bharat: An Eternal Celebration of All Genders (Part 2)
माया ह्येषा मया सृष्टा यत्पुमाांसां स्त्रियांसतीम्।
Sometimes you think of yourself as a man, sometimes a chaste woman, and sometimes a neutral eunuch. This is all because of the body, which is created by illusory energy. This illusory energy is My potency, and actually both of us — you and I — are pure spiritual identities. Now just try to understand this. I am trying to explain our factual position. - Bhagavata Purana (4.28.61)
Tradition, culture and civilization.
A few terms that are usually disassociated with idea of promoting rights of the “traditionally” weaker sections of the society, i.e., the third genders and the women.
More importantly, the trio is looked upon as impediments to life and liberty of these weaker sections. Contrary to popular belief, Bharat was an amalgamation of equity and tradition where the former and the latter could not exist without each other
Forms of Deities
The following list of Hindu deities provides interesting examples of saints, demigods, and incarnations of the Gods associated with gender transformation and diversity. These include:
Deities that are hermaphrodite (half man, half woman) ‘
Deities that manifest in all three genders
Male deities who become female, or female deities who become male
Male deities with female moods, or female deities with male moods
Deities born from two males, or from two females
Deities born from a single male, or from a single female
Deities who avoid the opposite sex, and
Deities with principal companions of the same gender
Beginning with Ardhnarishwar, where Shiva and Parvati amalgamate to form a single human being, with equal parts of both male and female.
Lord Vishnu, who was known to change his forms, did not limit himself to the male gender. Mohini is a classical example of Lord Vishnu changing his form to become a woman. Vishnu even procreated with Shiva in the Mohini form, resulting in the birth of Ayyappa.
The god of fire, creativity, and wealth is depicted in the Hindu faith as married both to the goddess and Svaha and with the male moon god Soma. Connor and Sparks relate that Agni importantly received Soma’s semen orally. British scholar Phil Hine says Agni gave a divine blow job to Shiva as well, resulting in the birth of Skanda, the god of war.
A Vedic sage and a Job-like figure, this devotee of Vishnu once boasted he was above being a victim of Maya. Vishnu encouraged Narada then to take a dip in a pool, which erased the sage’s memories and turned him into a woman. In that state, Narada would marry a king and produce several sons and grandsons doomed to die in war. While Narada was in mourning, the sage’s gender was restored to male, and he had a greater understanding of the power of Maya.
The Tholkappiam, the ancient grammar of the Tamil language, consists of eleven gender suffixes as enlisted by Tholkappiar.
The Narada Smriti says that, "These four – Ishyaka (the voyeur who watches other men having sex), sevyaka (who is sexually enjoyed by other men), vataretas and mukhebhaga (who has oral sex with other men) – are to be completely unqualified for marriage, even by a wife who is no longer a virgin.
The Sushrata Samhita lists five types of men who are impotent with women and known as kliba: the asekya (who swallows the semen of other men), the saugandhika (who smells the genitals or pheromones of other men), the kumbhika (who takes passive role in anal sex), the irshyaka (the above-mentioned voyeur) and the shandha (who has the qualities and behaviour of a woman).
In a chapter pf Charaka Samhita (4.2) discussing embryological development and exceptional births, eight types of napumsa are listed and defined as follows:
- Dviretas—he has both male and female “seed.”
- Pavanendriya—he has no discharge of semen.
- Samskaravahi—he is aroused according to previous life impressions.
- Narashandha—his manhood is completely destroyed.
- Narishandha—her womanhood is completely destroyed.
- Vakri—his penis is severely curved or deformed.
- Irshyabhirati—he is aroused only by the jealous feelings of seeing other men in the act of sexual union.
- Vatika—he is born without testicles.
The Kama Sutra describes the svairini (independent woman) who engages in aggressive lovemaking with other women. Lesbians and women who are either masculine or impotent with men for a variety of reasons are mentioned in the ancient Bhartiya scriptures under terms such as nastriya, stripumsa, shandi, etc.
The svairini (she engages in lovemaking with other women) is described in the Kama Sutra (2.8); the kamini (she engages in lovemaking with both men and women) in the Bhagavata Purana (5.24.16); the stripumsa (she is masculine in behaviour and form) in the Mahabharat (Shikandi); the shandhi (she is averse to men and has no menstruation or breasts), sucivaktra (she has an extremely small, undeveloped vagina), vandhya (her menstruation is absent or suppressed) and putanghni (she has repeated miscarriages) in the Sushruta Samhita (6.38); the shandhi, narishandha (her womanhood is completely destroyed), varta (her female ‘seed’ is afflicted in utero), sucimukhi and putraghini in the Charaka Samhita.
The medieval temples of Khajuraho famously include depictions of people in sexual congress, a demonstration of the importance of sexual interaction within the Hindu faith. Included in the carvings are a number of depictions of gay sex, sometimes in orgy situations where several women are involved in intercourse with a single man, but they’re also are images of men having sex and engaging in fellatio with one another.
The Bahuchara Ma temple in Mehsana district of Gujarat is another masterpiece. Bahuchara Ma is a dedicatedly worshipped deity amongst the transgender community throughout the Indian subcontinent. From Gujarat to Bangladesh,
Bahuchara Ma is one of the most celebrated figures in the community.
The Kamakhya Temple, as well as the Tara Tarini Shakti Peeth, are places where the vagina and the breast of Goddess Sati have been said to be fallen, contradicting the popular taboo of feminine body parts.
The famous Chamayavilakku is a unique festival held at the Kottankulangara Sree Devi Temple near Chavara in Kollam where thousands of men irrespective of their religious faith get dressed up as women to offer prayers to the Goddess; the presiding deity of the temple is Goddess Durga also known as Vanadurga.
The Ardhnarishwar is depicted in the form of sculptures at the Elephanta Caves. Ardhanrishwar temples are to be found in several parts of the country including Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Kerala (Thekkumkara Sree Ardhanariswara Temple) and Tamil Nadu, etc.
At the Tiruvanaikovil Siva Temple on the banks of the Kaveri, a priest will wear a sari and headdress of the goddess while offering puja to Lord Shiva. In Kulasekarapattinam, also in Tamil Nadu, men traditionally dress up as women during Navaratri and go house to house asking for donations for the festival.
This immortal being of Bharata is termed ‘primitive’ by the colonisers and the colonized minds when fully reclaims to what it was, is, and can be, will be devoid of the crisis of confidence that currently impedes its social development agenda. Just as how Bharat has broken away from the colonial shackles of section 377 of the IPC, it will continue to reclaim its lost glory in its own India Way.