Dec 21, 2013

Brahma's Lotus Arse: A Hindutva view of LGBT issues

Recently the bizarre stance taken by the Supreme Court of India in criminalizing homosexuality has been in the news. Taken in an isolated sense, it is a matter of concern to most right-thinking people, whatever be their political orientation. It is also surprising that supposedly 'Hindutva' forces have chimed in with an asinine note in this debate on LGBT issues. India is a society in unprecedented flux, which over the past 60 years has seen an unprecedented re-alignment of social forces (for better justice and empowerment) in modern history - all through the ballot rather than the bullet. Just like there can be good things from this flux, there is apparently the possibility of ignorance that emerges from this churning, too.

Political Identity
Political orientation - exactly like sexual and gender identity - is not a bipolar case of 'left' and 'right', 'male' or 'female'. Therefore it should be apparent to the discerning that the BJP is a political bandwagon that is not equivalent to 'Hindutva' as a political philosophy. The BJP as a political vehicle has its own share of Dilli billis who are politician passengers rather than statesmen drivers with an ideological vision. One can read up on the "D4" within the BJP to get an idea of the wheels-within-wheels of the political forces that run this country - on both sides of the political spectrum and across party lines. There is conflict between them and, say, Modi.

There is nothing special in the fact that there are "communal" forces of all stripes in India (or any other society), most of them as Congress affiliates and some of them in the opposition. There is also nothing special that there are "liberal" forces on all sides, and so it should not be surprising that there are truly liberal forces that form an intrinsic part of 'Hindutva'. This essay here tries to put forward a 'Hindutva' liberal view on LGBT issues. Its also worth noting apologetically that every country has its pseudo-liberal jackasses. Their fashionable cerebral musings are blissfully disconnected from other parts of their own brains. Unfortunate societies must wait for Time to show fully the actual fruits of a generation's reckless experiments with truth. A more holistic perspective serves the purpose better.

Sexuality and Psychophysical Identities
Sexuality and even gender identity is a continuum, not merely a polarity of male-female. This is true even biologically within one individual's composite body of all types of cells, irrespective of the body's aggregate gender. The fact that sexuality is a continuum with many 'overlapping' areas even in 'mainstream' society can be seen with classifications of sexual preferences such as "gynandrophilia" (attraction for transsexuals), etc. Statistically, it has been noted to emerge as an increasingly preferred customer choice in escort services, pornography, etc. Among Hinduism one sees deity forms of various intersections of categories of species and gender identity, such as the iconic ardha-nareeshwara form (check out the 'lotus' diagram below).

Gender differences range from 'absolute' to merely a matter of degree. 'Absolute' differences are sex-dichotomous differences, such as the presence or absence of gender-specific genital organs. On the other hand, a greater number of gender differences are sex-dimorphic and therefore only a mater of statistical degree, such as stature, behaviors and psychological and other abilities (typically complementary). These categories of psycho-physical differentiation are a product of, both, nature and nurture.

However, even the 'absolute' differences are developmentally a matter of degree of elimination, sharing the same 'substrate' (in an ontological, or better called 'morphogenetic', sense). For instance, in order to become 'male', the foetus goes through a de-feminization (and thereby masculinization) process. The 'female' is the default path for the psycho-physical development of the human being, in the sense that gene actions that result in the formation of 'absolute' female-specific systems are merely eliminated. This idea is supported by the fact that there are no female-specific genes or hormones that correspond to the hormones active in males only. Therefore, the Vedas switch to female deities at particular points in the spiritual journey. [Agniveer: 1. Vedas on Woman – "Sunrise of enlightenment"; 2. Vedas on Woman – "Foundation of knowledge"]

Thus, in a psycho-spiritual and psycho-physical process of self-discovery, there is a good possibility of having to discover and pass through a beingness that strides and encompasses gender identities. In the end, atman is said to be asexual - or rather pan-sexual. Along the way, as part of a process of self-discovery, there appears to be a phase of homo-eroticism, i.e., developing a sort of intimate comfort - or even admiration - for the morphological body of the same gender as one's current mortal coil. In some Dharmic systems, this phase, like many other phases, seem to be projected on the ishta devata. E.g., there are detailed descriptions of the spiritual body, including all private parts, of chosen deities, both male and female. Clearly, these were not meant for the meditations of devotees of the opposite sex, and of course these are not lustful flights either. But they do indicate a 'transmutation' of eros and its perspective.

It follows that tendencies like homophobia would become a deep-seated developmental block in spiritual life. It may or may not be the case that there are healthier paths for the common man to self-discovery than those manifested by LGBT, but the fact is that LGBT is relatively uncommon by nature as much as by nurture. Therefore, it should be treated with the humility, respect and wonder that is due to all such relative phenomena of nature that are the products of crises or blurs of identity. If destiny is born out of crisis, and if the spiritual task is to derive new order out of chaos, then the revulsion to outliers and counter-examples to common set identities is counter-productive across all purushaarthas and for socio-political varnashrama.

Justice, Ethics & Experience
Law (prescription and proscription) should ideally set the contours for spiritual life within a particular society. Criminalization of homosexuality does the opposite at this point in our society. Unbelievably, in India homosexuality is being legally conflated with pedophilia and bestiality, perhaps because a lot of homosexual conditioning happens in such contexts as the systematic buggery of street children as a form of abuse and gang dynamics, turning into a cycle of the abused becoming the abuser. Promiscuity also may be a problem within consensual homosexual social circles, but that is partly related to their lack of space and status in society. It is not inherent in LGBT orientations, but is a combination of legitimate LGBT tendencies with other illegitimate tendencies common to all sexual orientations - such as lust, abusiveness, irresponsibility and other forms of perversity.

So the legal position is tantamount to aiding in the nurture of perversity by compartmentalizing a particular psycho-physical tendency and pushing it down into a vicious spiral instead of containing (regulating) and edifying it into virtue. The law should promote fidelity and discourage promiscuity and abuse. Criminalizing homosexuality serves no purpose whatsoever. However, in my humble opinion, a useful debate could be had on whether same-sex couples can be "married" in the same cultural form as regular couples, or whether it should be differentiated for cultural purposes (if not legal). Perhaps it calls for containment but not ostracism, definitely for unbiased edification and not visceral condemnation in the garb of religion or culture.

In some ancient societies they actually took the opposite stance of elevating the status of people with mixed gender identities, etc. For example, in Wahaca (Mexico), even today the old tradition persists, that if one offspring happens to be 'transsexual', he/she wears distinguishing jewelry and inherits the entire family property - and then may choose to re-distribute it one way or another. Et cetera. I guess the purpose behind such traditions must have been to uphold such a minority cases of "freaks" of nature so that the aam abdul can wonder about the fixed conceptions around identities that are common in society, and also to induce a sense of spiritual responsibility as an antidote to a vicious spiral of promiscuity or persecution that often stems from identity crises.

देवोsदेवान् जघनतः
सृजति स्मातिलोलुपान् ।
त एनं लोलुपतया
मैथुनायाभिपेदिरे ॥

"The God Brahma then created the Demons from his buttocks, overly concupiscent. Due to excessive sexual lust, they approached Him for copulation." - The Bhagavatam, 3:20:23

In its morphology, the Bhagavatam or any Vedic text is interesting. One could think of the homunculus. Even by its own devotional logic, Brahma (with the four-lobed head) is the Supreme Being's first-born son, and Brahma's blessed arse rests on the Lotus emanating from Vishnu's own navel, the source of everything.