Random Musings- Part 39- Homosexual Marriages
There is a lot of debate going on regarding the place of Homosexuality in Hinduism and whether there is a sanction for Homosexual marriages or not in Hinduism. My few thoughts on the issue-
1. A soul takes up a Human body based on the Prarabda Karma. Hence, the gender is decided by the Prarabda Karma and Rina bandha. As a result, though majority are born as male or female, the Hindu religion also recognize what is called as “Tritiya Prakriti”- The Third Nature.
2. Tritiya Prakriti refers to those who are neither fully male nor fully female. Here, fully refers to “in both body and mind, both physical and subtle body”. The normal nature of the things is that Male and Female form the duality between which there is tension as well as attraction. Hence, the male and female are naturally attracted towards each other. This is the nature of the two genders. But, this changes in the case of Tritiya Prakriti, hence called as the Third Nature, something different from the common two behaviors. Tritiya Prakriti includes Transgenders, Homosexuals etc. who all have behavioral natures that does not confirm with the commonly accepted male and female.
3. This divergence in behavior and inherent nature, will also effectively change the lifestyle and hence the duties/sva-dharma applicable to such people. It is for such reason, historically they, the Transgenders etc. lived peacefully in their own groups, leading their own lifestyles in their way and following their own sva-dharma. This applies to Homosexuals as well and this applies to today’s context as well. Because, the whole Universe is based on Dharma, everyone has a place in Dharmic Order and everyone is obliged to perform their own sva-dharma. So, the people of Tritiya Prakriti also have their own rightful place in society and their own sva-dharma.
4. Now, coming to the issue of Marriage. In my opinion, there should be no legal issue with what two consenting adults do in their bedroom. Hence, there is nothing legally wrong in legalizing Homosexual marriages. But, coming to the issue of whether marriages of Homosexual couples is sanctioned or not in Hinduism, a deeper analysis is necessary.
5.Vivaha is a samskara, a rite by which two person, a man and a woman enters into Grihasta Ashrama. The reason for them getting married is that they have desires for worldly pleasures and hence do not have vairagyam and hence are unfit for taking up Sanyasa. Hence, for the sake of facilitating such people with desires to attain Vairayam/dispassion through a slow process, a person is made to enter Grihasta Ashrama. Hence, the purpose of marriage is to fulfill various desires through Dharmic means, and at the same time working towards purifying the mind to attain Vairagyam. Therefore, Grihasta-ashram is a stage in life, where a person involves in pursue of Dharma, Artha and Kama, with a desire to restrain and overcome Artha and Kama through Dharma and ultimately take up Sanyasa to pursue Moksha.
6. For this reason, the scriptures have allotted various duties/dharmas based on Vaarnas and Ashramas for a married person, by which he or she can fulfill their genuine desires in a manner wherein in they are free from sins and, at the same time, they will with time, overcome these very desires. So, the three principles on which Vivaha is based or defined is “Prajaa”, “Dharma” and “Rati”.
7. Prajaa refers to Progeny. It refers specifically to the Biological progeny. Because, as Upanishad says, through Progeny one attains this world. And this is so, because only by procreating that a person is able to fulfill his rina towards the Pitrs. Now, adoption is suggested for the sake of performance of last rites only in the absence of naturally born progeny and not as a replacement of biological son. Adoption is very dharmic act. But, the importance of biological progeny remains nonetheless.
8. Dharmaa refers to various other duties that a Grihasta is supposed to fulfill that changes from person to person based on his guna, varna and job. A Brahmana is obliged to perform Yajnas etc. but a Shudra is not. But, in any case, certain dharmas does require a presence of Husband and wife.
9. Rati refers to Love, attraction and commitment in the couple.
10. Now, in the case of Homosexual union, there is definitely Rati. And they can indeed perform many of the Dharmas, though they cannot perform some of them. For example, though they cannot perform the duty of a Brahmana like Yajna etc. They can definitely practice Japa for spiritual growth. There is nothing that stops them from performing various secular duties as well. It is only the Prajaa that they cannot perform. Adopting as I said is a method of recourse taken in absence of Biological offspring and cannot be considered an option in itself.
11. Hence, strictly from the definition of Vivaha, Homosexuals Union cannot be considered as a vivaha because they do not fulfill Prajaa and aspects of Dharma. Yet, because they do fulfill Rati and certain aspects of Dharma, they can be included as a sub-category under Gandharva Vivaha whose driving element if Rati or at least be given a Semi-Vivaha status.
12. Returning back to the basic definition of Vivaha as a ritual to help an individual satisfy his desires and then overcome them, even Homosexual Unions can be considered as Vivaha driven by Rati and hence under the Gandharva category. Hence, though they cannot take marriage vows in front of Agni, they can still have Vaidika Vivaha Samskara performed without the Agni a done by many non-Brahmin communities in India. Further, different duties or Dharmas can be enunciated for them based on their nature and abilities. Hence, according to Hindu tenets of Dharma, Homosexual marriages can be considered as a subset of Gandharva Vivaha or at least a semi-vivaha status can be definitely imparted.
13. To the question, why nobody asks about Yajna, Prajaa etc. in a Heterosexual marriages, and why the Heterosexual couple do not adhere to tenets of their sva-dharma, the answer is that, such non-practice of sva-dharma even among heterosexual couple is faulty and they is considered as a fallen from Dharma. Hence, their actions cannot be taken as a criteria to determine the validity of Homosexual marriages or not from Dharmic standpoint. On the other hand, scriptures clearly advice everyone to practice Dharma to the best of their ability.
14. Regarding the issue, that Homosexual marriages cannot be witnessed in Hindu history or no Hindu text prescribes it, the reason is that in the past such a situation had never arisen. The people of Thritiya Prakriti were quite happy to peacefully lead their life. A question of whether their Union was Vivaha or not had not arisen then.
In conclusion, in my personal opinion, a genuine Homosexual marriage can be considered as a sub-set of Gandharva Marriage with a specific duties prescribed that are applicable to them, or it can be at least given a status of Semi-Vivaa status owing to the different duties that are applicable to them based on their nature.