Our sexual drive is a powerful force—so powerful that many civilizations have believed it must be regulated in order to avoid conflict. By establishing rules of conduct, a society sets up a standard of correct behavior, or morals, that every individual is expected to uphold. A society's sexual morals are often based on a religion or philosophy that is predominant in that culture. However, not all members of a particular society necessarily believe in the same religion or philosophy and, therefore, the same set of morals
We Indians have many different religious beliefs about the nature of sexuality and the appropriateness of various sexual behaviors. Within any one religious tradition there are often multiple organizations addressing sexual issues, and people in those organizations have varying levels of agreement with the official teachings and practices of the larger religious organization. This publication is an attempt to summarize some of these varied beliefs without regard to the official positions of any of the religious traditions in question. We will use the phrase "sexual behavior" without actually defining it, because how sexual behavior is defined is one of the many differences of opinion with which people of faith are grappling
While there are traditions with no official platform on the nature or purpose of sexuality, sexuality is considered by most religious traditions to represent one or more of the following: a general temptation, The temptation is sometimes considered an acceptable one when limited to certain relationships and or in certain forms; some view sexuality as a gift that can be misused, and some only consider it to be a gift when used for a specific purpose, but otherwise a temptation
Restrictions religious institutions have put on sexual partners include: proscribing all sexual behavior; limiting sexual behavior to relationships blessed by the religious institution; suggesting strongly that sexual behavior be limited to partners in a loving, committed relationship; and/or teaching that sexual relationships are complicated and should only be entered into with extreme caution. Some traditions do not consider sexuality to be a specific category of human behavior, but expect people to regard sexuality using the same ethical or moral guidelines as for other behavior. A small number actively encourage sexual behavior without restriction.
Am pasting below three articles and a blog post that i came across, it is longish but makes an interestintg read, do read on
With the judgement of the Delhi high court decriminalizing homosexuality, the issue of sexual minorities, and in particular homosexuality, has opened up to a plethora of public comments. The first to take a tirade against the issue of homosexuality and homosexuals, were the religious leaders and cultural chauvinists.
Arguing that homosexuality is against India Culture and a sinful, shameful act of perversion, deserving of the highest punishment and in fact the wrath of god, by `closing ranks’, religious leaders from various faiths have come together condemning the high court judgement and the sexual rights. Thus giving a picture that, religions and religious traditions are inherently conservative or even reactionary in their commitments to powerful patriarchal and pro-natalist sexual norms and gender categories.
In the midst of these, there have also been voices that spoke differently and adopted a more middle way. These voices, however little they might have got the attention, are engaged in brining a diverse, complex and at times a fresh reading of religious texts, even bringing contradictory traditions and practices that could support a more broad understanding of religion.
Understanding that, “religions have also been influenced by strong movements for rights and with texts and practices, constantly being reinterpreted by people coming from other perspectives and in the process having transformed religion,” a discourse on "Religion, Inclusiveness and Sexual Minorities'' was organized in Bangalore by Sangama and Aneka, two organizations fighting for the rights of sexual minorities.
According the organizers, it was an attempt (first of its kind) to give these sane voices, a platform to ire their thoughts and engage in a meaningful discourse on the religious inclusiveness of sexual minorities. They also highlighted that there are also sexual minorities who are people of faith; embracing both religion and their sexuality with joy, who are again invisible in the discourse. They have brought the basic tenets of religion that is love, compassion and benevolence, hence seeing a divine meaning in all beings.
Participating in the seminar, scholar and activist Swami Agnivesh said that, the "We want sexual minorities to be respected, not tolerated,’’. Agnivesh said, I hope that the Union government would not oppose the Delhi High Court order. Instead, the government should try to uphold constitutional morality by filing an affidavit taking a pro-sexual minority stand.
Swami Agnivesh, in particular attacked his co-religionist yoga guru Baba Ramdev for claiming to treat and change sexual minorities. Agnivesh said, homosexuality is an inherited sexual orientation that one cannot change forcibly. He particularly referred to the `` GAY GOD’’ Swami Aiyyappa, whom it has been believed was born out of a union between Shiva and Krishna (VISHNU).
Dr Asghar Ali Engineer, an Islamic Scholar and activist, welcoming the Delhi High Judgement said that, “ homosexuality has always been part of the Islamic/Muslim societies’’. Referring to the sufi poetry and in particular the ghazal poetry, Asghar Ali said, the entire ghazal poetry is full of references to homosexuality and he said, even in Tuzak-Babri, Babur, one can see that of the Mughal king’s expression of love for his young boy friend.
Further Asghar Ali states, the only actual reference to homosexuality in the Qur'an and in all the Semitic faiths can be found in the sections about Sodom and Gomorrah. He maintains that, the incident referred to, wherein the harsh punishment inflicted on the people of Sodom and Gomorrah at the time of the prophet Lot, was keeping in mind that the entire community had indulged in that practice, and hence defeating the purpose of procreation. However, if an individual or a minority section of the population indulges in it, there is no specific punishment prescribed in the sharia.
Father, K.C. Abraham from the Church of South India said that, the final goal of all religions was to move towards an inclusive society and not isolate anyone. He said, society and religions should be open to all people without discrimination. He appealed to sexual minorities to take forward their struggle for justice.
Religious leaders support LGBT rights
First Published: 05 Sep 2009 12:00:00 AM IST
Last Updated: 04 Sep 2009 01:40:38 PM IST
The recent meet on religion and sexual minorities has been described as an attempt to give space to the saner voices in the religion vs homosexuality debate. It was a platform for them to air their thoughts and engage in a meaningful dialogue on religious inclusiveness and sexual minorities. Participants also highlighted the existence of sexual minorities who are people of faith; embracing both religion and their sexuality with joy, who are again invisible in the discourse. They have brought the basic tenets of religion that is love, compassion and benevolence, hence seeing a divine meaning in all beings.
Participating in the seminar, scholar and activist Swami Agnivesh said, “We want sexual minorities to be respected, not tolerated.’’ Agnivesh added his hope that the Union Government would not oppose the Delhi High Court verdict. Instead, the government should try to uphold constitutional morality by filing an affidavit taking a pro-sexual minority stand, he said. He attacked his co-religionist yoga guru Baba Ramdev for claiming to treat and change sexual minorities. Agnivesh said homosexuality is a sexual orientation that one cannot change forcibly. He referred to the “Gay god” Ayyappa, who was born out of a union between gods Shiva and Vishnu (in his Mohini avatar).
Dr Asghar Ali Engineer, an Islamic scholar and activist, welcoming the Delhi High judgment said that, “homosexuality has always been part of Islamic/Muslim societies’’. Referring to sufi poetry and ghazals, Asghar Ali said, ghazals were replete with references to homosexuality. Even in Tuzak-Babri Babur, one can see the Mughal king’s expression of love for his young male friend, he said. Ali added that the only actual reference to homosexuality in the Qur’an and in all the Semitic faiths are in the sections related to Sodom and Gomorrah. He maintained that the incident referred to — the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were punished at the time of the prophet Lot — happened because the entire community had indulged in sodomy, thereby defeating the purpose of procreation. However, if an individual or a minority section of the population indulges in it, there is no specific punishment prescribed in the Sharia.
KC Abraham from the Church of South India said that the final goal of all religions was to move towards an inclusive society and not isolate anyone. He said society and religions should be open to all people without discrimination. Sexual minorities had a long way to go in their struggle for justice but they had to persist.
Sri Rama Ramanuja Acharya
[Sri Rama Ramanuja Acharya (Ram Sivan) is a disciple of H.H. Yatiraja Jiyar Swamigal in the Sri Vaishnava line and the Australian Representative and Initiating Acharya of the Sriperumbudur Yatiraja Matham.]
“Being non-dogmatic and non-institutional, there can be no official Hindu dogma or position on the subject of homosexuality or ‘gay marriage.’ The Abrahamic communities are turning themselves inside out over the subject, arguing that homosexually is a sin and against the natural order.
“Firstly, to judge whether something is morally wrong or right we need to establish that there was free will and ability to choose in the matter. The Hindu scriptures declare homosexuality an orientation that is karmically predisposed and not a matter of choice:
The Self, which is enveloped by ignorance, is sometimes embodied as a male, sometimes as a female and sometimes as a homosexual (ubhaya). According to its deeds and the nature one acquires thereby, one may be born as a god, a human or a beast.
(Srimad Bhagavatam 4.29.29)
Whatever the sexual orientation of the child whether it be male, female or homosexual (napumsaka), it is born in the ninth or the tenth month.
(Garuda Purana 2.32.29)
“In fact, one need not refer to scripture for support when every homosexual will testify that they had no choice in the matter! The ‘against the natural order’ argument also does not stand because every aspect of human life is against the natural order—from clothing to housing to food etc.
“Secondly, the Acharyas and Alvars have mentioned everything conducive to our spiritual life including obstacles thereto, but nowhere have any of them discussed homosexuality per se; it is therefore a matter of no consequence whatsoever.
“Hinduism is concerned with Liberation—liberation from suffering here and now and avoidance of rebirth:
If one desires the highest goal, which is communion with Me (Krishna), one should develop a focused mind, subdue the senses and strive to perfect non-attachment.
However, if this regime is practiced without devotion to Me—despite having knowledge and whether man, woman or homosexual—it will not yield rewards.
(Varaha Purana 142.50)
“What is required for communion with Krishna is primarily Bhakti—devotion that leads to focusing the mind on Him, subduing the senses and developing non-attachment to material things.
“One of the greatest of the Sri Vaishnava Acharyas—Pillai Lokacharya—was of the view that all forms of sensuality and self-enjoyment are incompatible with our essential nature, which is to find our delight in and be a source of pleasure to Krishna alone.
“But in an imperfect world we should at least try and maintain the highest Dharmic standards in all our relationships with whomsoever they may be.”
(Official statement for GALVA, July, 2008)
Swami Bodhananda Sarasvati
[Swami Bodhananda Sarasvati is a Vedanta master in the Sarasvati line, sannyasa disciple of Swami Chinmayananda, and founder of the Sambodh Foundation with worldwide branches.]
“There is no official position in Hinduism. From a spiritual or even ethical standpoint, we don’t find anything wrong in it. We don’t look at the body or the memories; we always look at everyone as spirit…It’s a Christian idea that it is wrong. From a Hindu standpoint, there is nothing wrong because there is nothing against it in scripture…Different priests may or may not perform same-sex weddings—it is their individual choice because there is no one position or one head of Hinduism. I am not opposed to relationships or unions—people’s karma brings them together. Sexual attraction is not under your control…Everyone comes into the world with their own set of needs and talents, and tries to fulfill their needs and express their talents in relationships with others. The problems are the same, whether in a gay marriage or a heterosexual marriage.
“We have to face this issue now…I am sure spiritual persons will have no objection when two people come together. But it is a social stigma…So what is required is a debate in society. I have not debated it enough. I have to do that. I have a lot of people confiding to me, ‘I am very worried. I am gay. What should I do now?’ I ask them to relax, ascertain their feelings, and not to worry; there is nothing wrong in that.”
(Love’s Rite: Same-Sex Marriage in India and the West by Ruth Vanita, pp. 307-308)
Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami
[Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami is a sannyasa disciple of Jnanaguru Yogaswami of the Nandinatha Sampradaya and founder of the Saiva Siddhanta Church.]
“Intensely personal matters of sex as they affect the family or individual are not legislated, but left to the judgment of those involved, subject to community laws and customs. Hinduism neither condones nor condemns birth control, sterilization, masturbation, homosexuality, petting, polygamy or pornography. It does not exclude or draw harsh conclusions against any part of human nature, though scripture prohibits adultery and forbids abortion except to save a mother’s life. Advice in such matters should be sought from parents, elders and spiritual leaders. The only rigid rule is wisdom, guided by tradition and virtue. The Vedas beseech, ‘May all the divine powers together with the waters join our two hearts in one! May the Messenger, the Creator and holy Obedience unite us.’ Aum Namah Sivaya.”
“Sons and daughters who are gay may not benefit from marriage, and should be taught to remain loyal in relationships and be prepared to cope with community challenges.”
(Dancing With Siva: Hinduism’s Contemporary Catechism by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, pp. 217, 245)
Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
[Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati is a disciple of Neem Karoli Baba in the line of Swami Nityananda of Ganeshpuri. She is a devotee of goddess Kali and founder of Kashi Ashram.]
Namaste my chelas all over the world,
Your Ma has written that God has no gender and has the freedom of diversity.
When you are in the full light of God and Goddess, you truly have no gender; therefore, there is no prejudice or bigotry in your life.
There is such a freedom of diversity simply because there are no boundaries.
Thick boundaries are the dark lines that keep one in the Karmic Spaces of Duality.
In the beginning days of my Teaching, and before that, I had the awareness to understand that the Soul kept no gender and had no gender to keep.
My own Swami Nityananda speaks of this in His original book of the Chidakasha Gita.
And so your Ma went into shock when I saw and heard so much prejudice against Gays, Lesbians and all who are in between.
Instead of understanding and accepting others no matter what their sexual orientation, so many spiritual leaders have blasted them and continue to lock their church doors to this community.
And so your Ma picked up the sword and will never, ever, put it down until all peoples of the world are treated the same.
Interfaith teaching is not just about the different religions; it is about the diversity and the beauty of knowing all the different paths of life.
Homosexuality is not a choice of human beings; it is the choice of God and Goddess.
I will fight for the right of my gay children all of my life and then from my own death.
For this is the way so many labels are formed and so many groups are feeling the pain of bigotry.
I have blessed and will continue to bless the marriages of so many of my children who are gay, and in doing this I will bless the world of diversity.
My Pujas and Prayers go out to my Beloved Mother Ganga, who is my life’s flow of non-duality.
I ask the flowing mother to bring peace to all my children’s hearts and to all peoples of the world.
This is my Puja and this is my Prayer.
I love you all so very much.
Love, Ma Jaya
(Kashi Darshan Line, January 11, 2005)