I am Divine So are You

June is celebrated worldwide as the pride month. Given the global unrest there's hardly any reason left at this moment to celebrate anything. And yet I couldn't help talking about this absolute gem of a book that explores the very topic mostly considered a taboo in almost every religion, well, except one. While the Abrahamic faiths look at homosexuality as well as all kinds of queerness as 'sin' this book dives into the realm of orientalist faiths, namely, the four most important religious sects of India. Buddhism. Jainism. Sikhism. And of course, Hinduism. Each chapter goes deep into the backgrounds of the aforementioned sects and their respective takes on the role of LGBTQ community in the society. While none of the sects fully rejects them the first two advice to stay away from any sort of sexual pleasure given the importance of monastic life. Theraveda frowns upon carnal desires as it hinders nirvana according to them. Notably, Vajrayana Buddhism takes a totally different approach in this regard mostly because of massive Hindu and shamanistic influences. However, I am not aware of their take on sexuality or gender fluidity. The monastic order in Jainism is very strict however having sex with an intent for procreation is not forbidden for the lay person. (Homosexual sex doesn't help with that cause.) Sikhism was originally intended to be a modern approach to our Vedic legacy as opposed to the pragmatism of brahminical system that was imposed after Islamic invasion, they have deviated a lot over the years.

In the end, Sanatana Hinduism remains the only culture to accept LGBTQ community as precisely what they are. Both gender and sexuality are but a fluid concept in our culture. That's why Shiva becomes Ardhanarishwar. Vishnu takes the form of Mohini and seduces Shiva. Arjuna can be Brihannala and still kicks ass of the Kauravas. Shikhandi was a woman in a man's body hence Bhishma refused to kill him in the battle of Kurukshetra. In Hinduism, there is precisely no concept of 'sin'. The gods are not going to let you burn in hell for anything. Rather, the world runs in a cycle where no one can escape the consequences of their actions, and sometimes, even others'. In a religion where life itself is an illusionary game in an infinite loop of action and consequences, nothing is sin or abnormality but merely our own choices. Hence our gods sometimes transgress the boundaries of gender or sexual stereotypes. Because 'Bhagwan' is the one who is made of literally everything. And hence everyone is but a part of Him.

I am Divine and So are You is a beautiful read with philosophical insights about a topic that is still not widely accepted in any culture. Islamic and later British invasions have left poisonous residue in our nation that infected our Santana Hinduism to such extent we are still veiled under its wrong misguided notions. But times are changing. And perhaps someday we will be able to go back to our roots and embrace it for what it is. Not just a dumb religion, but an ancient way of living. During these difficult times that's all one can hope for.