Hinduism

Hinduism

 

Quick Hinduism 101:

 

Unlike some religions, Hinduism does not have a single founder, it has developed over a long period of time with a myriad of beliefs. Scholars believe that Hinduism could have started between 2300 B.C. and 1500 B.C. or earlier in the Indus Valley (modern day Pakistan). 

 

Around 1500 B.C. the Indo-Aryans migrated to the Indus Valley where indigenous people were already settled, and an exchange of culture and language occurred between the two. 

 

During the 1500 B.C. to 500 B.C. the Vedas were composed, and this became known as the “Vedic Period”. Later on, the Epic, Puranic, and Classic periods tools place between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. 

 

Many individuals are quick to claim that Hinduism is a polytheistic religion, however most forms are henotheistic. This means that there is a consensus of worshipping a single deity (“Brahman”),  while also recognizing other gods and goddesses. Hinduism believes in samsara, which is the continuous cycle of life, death, and reincarnation, and karma (universal law of cause and effect). Thus, the actions and thoughts directly determine current life and future lives. There is an emphasis on living a good and morally sound life, known as dharma. 

 

Another emphasis in Hinduism is the belief in “atman” or the belief in soul. By this logic, all living creatures have a soul and are part of a supreme soul. The goal then is to achieve “moksha” or salvation, which ends the cycle of rebirths to become part of the absolute soul. 

 

The resources below relate to those who are spiritually aligned with Hinduism and have questions relating to sexuality and LGBTQ+ in Hinduism. 

 

Want to learn more? Click here for a more in depth introduction and resources on the history of Hinduism:  https://www.history.com/topics/religion/hinduism http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/history/history_1.shtml

Hinduism Resources

  • Purple Pundit Project

    Hi! I'm Sushma. I'm a mother of 2 who decided to find a way to make Hinduism more relevant in this century. So I provide progressive, inclusive, LGBTQ+-friendly Hindu pundit services. Whether you're straight, gay, having an inter-racial marriage or just want a female Pundit who gets you - I'm here to help. Right now, it's hard to find Hindu pundits who are progressive, inclusive, LGBTQ-friendly or heck, female! I'm really hoping that changes in the next 5 years. I would love nothing more than to be rendered completely obsolete because EVERY Hindu pundit was one who embodied progressive values and didn't discriminate on the basis of race or sexual orientation. Until that happens, I'll keep this side hustle strong. I dream of a world where everyone has the right to be and get married as they wish.
    Temporal Coverage21st Century
  • Akkai Padmashali: Transgender People Activist & Founder of Ondede

    What would you call a person who wanted to end life at the age of 12, but goes on to fight a system that oppresses a large minority, and becomes an icon of change in India? Akkai Padmashali (35) is a ChangeMAKER, an activist who gets things done, and the voice of LGBTQ+ community in India. But the only title she wants is ‘woman,’ one which she has fought hard for. Born as a boy in a lower middle class family in Bengaluru, her journey from Jagadeesh to Akkai is one of resilience and perseverance. During her childhood, her craving to embrace her femininity was met with aggressive response from her family and society. Her parents tried to ‘straighten’ her out by physical abuse, while in school, she was bullied and even sexually assaulted to the extent that she left school after 10th grade. As a teenager, Akkai -then Jagadeesh - found comfort among the transgender community who were doing sex work in Bengaluru’s Cubbon Park in late 1990s. Although she joined them in prostitution for a livelihood, she did not let her family know the source of her income. Rather than ending her own life in despair, Akkai’s way was to build a world she wants to live in. In her twenties, Akkai left sex work and joined Sangama, an LGBT rights group, and decided to work for better living conditions for the transgender community. Her efforts culminated in a landmark judgement by the Indian Supreme Court, to ensure equality and dignity to all citizens, irrespective of their sexuality.
    Spatial CoverageIndia
    Temporal Coverage21st Century
  • Meet Rudrani Chettri - The Transgender Actor from Vikas Khanna’s Debut Film ‘The Last Colour’

    Chef Vikas Khanna made his directorial debut with The Last Colour, a powerful story from the alleys of Benaras and Vrindavan, addressing the age-old taboo surrounding the widows who are abandoned to fend for themselves. With this film, he broke more barriers than one, as he casted Delhi-based transwoman, Rudrani Chettri, to play the character of Anarkali in his film. “I'M NOT GOING TO DRESS UP A MAN IN A SAREE & CAST HIM FOR A TRANSGENDER ROLE. WE HAVE TO FIND A TRANSGENDER PERSON' I repeated these words million times until I found Rudrani. I have to use my voice for change that I want to see," he wrote on Twitter. He opened up about Rudrani in an Instagram post as well, as he wrote, "I sometimes field questions about my choice of casting Rudrani —an Indian hijra (transgender) in the film. Rudrani, an activist who also runs India’s first transgender modeling agency plays Chhoti's friend and protector, 'Anarkali', in The Last Color." "To me such a decision seemed contrived and I recalled how people of color or certain castes or cultures or sexes have historically been disallowed from portraying their own in films,” he added.
    Spatial CoverageIndia
    Temporal Coverage21st Century
  • Shikhandi: the Mahabharata’s transgender warrior

    In one sense, the essence of Hindu philosophy is simple. Every individual is an embodied eternal atman (spirit or soul). Being distinct from the body — including its extended attributes like race, gender, and sexual orientation — every atman originates from the same Divine source and is therefore part of the same spiritual family, deserving the dignity of love, respect, and equal treatment. But morality is a complex topic, and some of Hinduism’s most highly regarded figures have grappled with its nuances. Though all moral codes espoused in the religion are meant for the ultimate purpose of unconditional love and acceptance, India’s great epics convey numerous examples in which even well-meaning people have missed this purpose in their determination to strictly follow the “rules.” Perhaps the most famous example is that of Bhishma, whose treatment of Amba, a princess who later becomes the transgendered Shikhandi, ultimately leads to his physical demise.
    Spatial CoverageThe Internet
    Temporal Coverage21st Century
  • Homosexuality isn’t a Western import to India, but bigotry against LGBT people is

    Though much of the response to the policy brief was positive, an alarming number of comments were along the lines of ‘homosexuality is a perverted Western import to India and that traditional Indian and Hindu society has been sullied by this’. It cannot be overstated how historically wrong this view is. Not only does Hindu scripture and history have extensive documentation of gay individuals existing — as they do in every single human society around the world and in other animal species — there is copious evidence LGBT people were accepted into society.
    Spatial CoverageWorldwide
    Temporal Coverage21st Century
  • HAF Policy Brief: Hindu Teachings Inclusive of LGBT People

    “Homosexuality has never been considered a crime in Hindu culture. In fact, Lord Ayyappa was born of Hari-Hara (Vishnu & Shiva). It is not a crime in any Smriti. Everyone has male & female elements. According to their dominance, tendencies show up & may change. Nobody should face discrimination because of their sexual preferences. To be branded a criminal for this is absurd.” – H.H. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar One of Hinduism’s core teachings is that every being is Divine or a reflection of Divine qualities, regardless of one’s outer attributes. Aside from the humanitarian imperative to offer equal treatment to all, the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) believes that this and other fundamental and ancient Hindu teachings may allow Hindus to more openly embrace LGBT rights and marriage equality. In this paper, we seek to elucidate these aspects and, at the same time, elaborate on the legislative history of LGBT rights in India.
    Spatial CoverageWorldwide
    Temporal Coverage21st Century
  • Galva-108

    This website is provided by the Gay & Lesbian Vaishnava Association, a nonprofit religious organization offering positive information and support to LGBTI Vaishnavas and Hindus, their friends, and other interested persons. GALVA-108 is an international organization dedicated to the teachings of Lord Caitanya, the importance of all-inclusiveness within His mission, and the Vedic concept of a natural third gender. Its purpose is to help educate Vaishnavas, Hindus and the public in general about the “third sex” as described in Vedic literatures. This knowledge will help correct many of the misconceptions people hold today concerning LGBTI people--lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and the intersexed. In addition, GALVA-108 hopes to provide a friendly and positive-oriented place where third-gender devotees and guests can associate together, discuss issues, address problems, encourage one another to learn more about Krsna consciousness and advance in spiritual life. GALVA-108 is mostly a cyber-organization with few if any offices or centers. It is nonsectarian and encourages members to attend their local temples, devotional programs and gatherings for spiritual inspiration and service. Most of our members are from ISKCON or other Gaudiya Vaishnava groups but all stripes of Vaishnavas and Hindus are welcome. We have been online since 2001 with members all over the world but especially in North America, India, Europe, English-speaking countries and Latin America. Please feel free to browse our website and learn more about the traditional Hindu/Vedic approach to people of the third sex.
    Spatial CoverageWorldwide
    Temporal Coverage21st Century
  • Stances of Faiths on LGBTQ Issues: Hinduism

    The third largest religion in the world – after Christianity and Islam – Hinduism accounts for roughly 14% of the global population, with approximately 2 million Hindus living in the United States. Among its most familiar texts are the Bhagavad Gita, though the Vedas are considered the authoritative guiding text by which one’s life is shaped. Dating to 6,000 BCE, the Vedas constitute the oldest scripture in the world.
    Spatial CoverageWorldwide
    Temporal Coverage21st Century
  • SEXUALITY IN HINDUISM

    Sexuality in Hinduism is most notable through the observance of kama, one of Hinduism’s catur-purusartha’s (four human aims). Within the Dharma Sastras contain prescriptions for how one should live one’s life, as well as outlining various religious duties (dharma). Kama in this instance refers to fulfilment of sensual and sexual pleasure (Lidke 108). Attainment of kama for males is prescribed in the second of the four asramas (life stages), the grhastha stage. This stage of life is known as the householder stage, and in it Hindus are expected to marry. Sexual relations within a Hindu marriage are meant to be for procreation, however it is expected that couples will be intimate for pleasure also. Sexual indulgence can become a problem that will cause unhappiness for grhasthas and self-restraint is cautioned. Mentioned in various scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita is extramarital sex, considered taboo as marriage is seen as contractual and for life (Mehta 66-67). The catur-purusartha exists within Hinduism’s caste system, and only the upper three classes undergo the rituals that transition from one asrama to the next (Mehta 63).
    Spatial CoverageThe Internet
    Temporal Coverage21st Century
  • Meet the Hindu Priest Officiating L.G.B.T.Q. Weddings

    Sushma Dwivedi offers nuptials and other religious services to underserved people.
  • Storytelling: LGBT themes in Hindu mythology

    Indian mythology is a wonderful way to introduce gender into conversations at home. Tell your child stories of these characters, known for their gender fluidity.
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