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Homosexuality and Marriage: A Hindu Perspective

Homosexuality and Marriage: A Hindu Perspective

In September this year, a public interest litigation was filed in the Delhi High Court seeking a direction that homosexual couples have the right to get married under the 1955 Hindu Marriage Act and that barring such unions was a violation of their constitutional rights.

Historically, homoerotic persons were never persecuted in India, and in fact, they had their own safe socio-economic space within the larger society [1]. There was also widespread support across the country when the colonial Sec 377 criminalizing homosexuality was finally removed in 2018.

However, the present petition to get homosexual unions declared as marriage under a law that applies to only the Hindu community is likely to open a can of worms.

The Hindu Marriage Act enacted as part of Hindu Code Bills in the 1950s is problematic at many levels, including the fact that it not only discarded the Hindu dharmaśāstric recognition of eight-forms of marriage, but also discarded the diversity of marriage practices prevalent in different Hindu communities across India, and instead adopted a homogenous version of marriage alone as valid Hindu marriage, thus seriously compromising the Hindu traditions related to marriage.

The present petition if it results in substantial changes to existing Hindu law, then it would lead to irreversible changes in the institution of Hindu marriage by fundamentally changing the very definition of Hindu ‘vivāha’. That is, the petition does not merely challenge existing law, but challenges the core principles of Hindu philosophy and practice around marriage.

Therefore, it becomes imperative to examine the issue of homosexual union and the possibility or not of its designation as a ‘vivāha’ from a Hindu philosophical perspective especially derived from its textual tradition.

This essay is a humble attempt in this direction.

Vivaha and gṛhastha-dharma: Hindu notion of marriage

In Hindu tradition, the marriage or vivāha is understood as a saṃskāra- a sacrament and a purificatory ritual that imparts competency and allows a couple to enter the gr̥hastha-āśrama or the stage of the householder to pursue dharma, artha, kāma, and mokṣa together.

Etymologically, vivāha means a ‘special kind of carrying away (viśiṣṭaḥ vāhaḥ vivāhaḥ)’ of the bride by the bridegroom. The ‘carrying away’ refers to the process of bridegroom accepting the bride into his life and family symbolized by the ritual processes of kanyādāna, pāṇigrahaṇa, and saptapadī.

It is a special kind of ‘carrying away’ because the saṃskāra of vivāha, on the one hand, purifies the bride and makes her competent to enter householder life and on the other hand it facilitates the groom to embrace her into his life as his half and accept her into his family and gotra lineage such that he attains competency to perform householder duties as well [2].

Further, vivāha is a special relationship, a sacred bond standing on the three pillars of rati (desire), dharma (duty), and prajā (progeny), which involves a pursuit of both Saha-dharma and Saha-kāma, i.e. a pursuit of both the duties and the experiencing of life-pleasures, which are accomplished together.

Even a cursory examination of different Hindu texts reveals this understanding of vivāha as being rooted in the triune of desire, duty, and progeny as can be seen from a few verses from Manusmṛiti and Mahābhārata which have been quoted below:

The begetting of the child, the nourishing of the born, and the ordinary life of the world,—of each of these things the woman is clearly the main-spring. Off-spring, religious acts, faithful service, highest happiness,—all this is dependent on the wife; as also the attainment of heaven by oneself as well as by his forefathers.—(Manusmṛiti 9.27-28)

Women were created for the purpose of child-bearing, and men for the purpose of procreation. Hence it is that Religious Rites have been ordained in the Veda as common between the man and his wife.—(Manusmṛiti 9.96)

The relationship between wife and husband, as between woman and man, is very intimate and subtle, with sexual intimacy as its common characteristics.—(Mahābhārata Anuśāsanaparva 45.9)

It is the householder who performs the Yajna, and it is he who engages in tapas. It is life in the family that is the foundation of all good that is done.—(Mahābhārata Śāntiparva 269.7)

Let us briefly examine these three elements of Hindu marriage.

  1. Rati: As the Mahābhārata verse quoted above shows the relationship between a wife and a husband is very intimate and subtle and has sexual desire as its basis. However, kāma is not merely sexual desire, but it refers to all the worldly desires that one tries to fulfill through one’s senses. Further kāma has a twin meaning of both desire (pravṛtti) and pleasure (pratīti) as enunciated in Kāmasūtra 1.2.11-12. Thus, Hindu vivāha is an institution that facilitates a couple to pursue their worldly desires including sexual desires as well as experience joys and pleasures of life together as a whole. Thus, Saha-kāma and saṃbhoga are two aspects of vivāha rati.
  2. Dharma: Hindu tradition posits mokṣa or liberation from the bondage of the karmic cycle of birth and death as the ultimate goal of life. Though mokṣa is the ultimate goal, Hindu tradition recognizes that not all have the ability to attain mokṣa in a particular life. This is so because, to attain mokṣa, one must first have attained dispassion and a condition of desirelessness towards worldly pleasures.Since, most people are under the influence of all kinds of worldly desires, which could be broadly divided into artha (material prosperity) and kāma (material pleasures), the Hindu texts posit dharma as another puruṣārtha, which, while facilitating one to fulfill artha and kāma in a measured restrained manner, also helps one to slowly move from a state of desire to a state of dispassion i.e. towards mokṣa.Vivāha as a saṃskāra facilitates the bride and the bridegroom to enter into gṛhastha-āśrama (householder life) thereby facilitating them to practice varṇāśrama dharma in the pursuit of the dharma puruṣārtha. The vows taken during the marriage ceremony show that marriage is a commitment by the bride and bridegroom to pursue all the puruṣārthas of life together and hence, the notion of ‘Saha-dharma’- pursuing life duties together is central to Hindu understanding of marriage. The Mahābhārata Anuśāsanaparva chapters 19-21 contains a story of Aṣṭāvakra and Uttaradiśā which effectively conveys that vivāha-dharma is basically a state of Saha-dharma or togetherness with a sense of ‘diśā’ or direction or purpose [3].However, though the goal pursued is the same, the roles played by the man and the woman in a marriage are different. While the man plays the role of a husband and a father, the woman plays the role of a wife and a mother. While the husband takes the role of yajamāna, the conductor of the rituals and other dharmic duties, the wife takes up the role of Saha-dharmachāriṇī, one who accompanies the husband in fulfillment of dharmic activities. A virtuous wife is, in fact, identified with the sacred fires of the house itself [4]. That is, the role played by the wife is like that of the sacred fire: the role of a facilitator, without whom a gṛhastha man cannot perform any dharmic rituals or actions. That is, the husband is the performer of the dharmic actions like yajñá, etc. with the support, help, and company of his wife. On the other hand, for the wife, facilitating the husband in the accomplishment of the gṛhastha duties is itself the dharmic duty and a means for her overall emancipation. It is for this reason, the texts note how the half of dharmic merit of all the actions of the husband automatically becomes transferred to the wife. That is, the husband himself becomes the direct means for accomplishing all the puruṣārtha-s for wife. This is the true meaning of Saha-dharma in the context of Hindu vivāha [5].
  3. Prajā: Since human life is very unique and rare, dharmic tradition holds that giving birth to a human jīva is a very noble act and prescribes it as a duty for the householder. Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad 1.5.17, for example, lists studying of scriptures, performances of actions (yajñá and other duties), and attaining of all the three worlds as the duties of a householder. It further explains in verse 1.5.16 that the three worlds for a householder to attain are the world of men (manuṣyaloka), the world of forefathers (pitṛloka), and the world of gods (devaloka). It says that a householder can attain manuṣyaloka only through offspring, while pitṛloka and devaloka are to be attained by the practice of karma and bhakti, respectively. Similarly, in the Taittirīya Upaniṣad 1.11.1, after teaching the Vedaḥ and other knowledge systems, the teacher imparts final instructions to the student. Among other instructions like speak the truth and practice dharma, the teacher reminds the student to not cut off the line of progeny [6]. Then, there is the concept of ṛṇatraya according to which a person is born with three debts: debt to the gods (deva-ṛṇa), debt to the ancestors or manes (pitṛ-ṛṇa) and the debt to the sages (rṣi-ṛṇa). Texts like Taittiriya Samhitā, Satapatha Brāhmana, Manusmṛiti 6.35-37 give enunciate upon these debts. Manu says one should turn his mind towards liberation only after having paid off the three debts; without having paid them, if he seeks for liberation, he sinks downwards. The debt to the gods is paid off by conducting sacrifices, etc., the debt to the manes is paid off by having progeny, and the debt to the sages ate paid off by study and teaching of Vedah. Only a gṛhastha can pay off all the three debts, most important among them being the pitṛ-ṛṇa, which can be paid off only through progeny.

From the above discussion, it is very clear that the Hindu notion of vivāha is nuanced, multi-faceted, and is much more than physical attraction and emotional attachment. It is clearly a heterosexual institution designed to facilitate a man and a woman to pursue the four-fold goals of life together by complementing each other’s efforts.

The three elements/principles of Hindu marriage viz. rati, dharma, and prajā must be understood as complementing and reinforcing each other and not in isolation. These principles are applicable to all the eight kinds of marriages [7] recognized in Hindu texts. Further, one can discern these elements in the marriage rituals and traditions that are prevalent across India despite their diversity.

Hence, any discussion on the possibility or not of designating homosexual unions as marriage in a Hindu sense must involve an evaluation of homosexuality on the basis of these principles.

Homosexual unions and the question of marriage

In Hindu tradition, while there is a clear classification of humans into puruṣa (men) and strī (women) along with their specific duties and roles in society as was evident from Manusmṛiti 9.96 quoted before, we find an enunciation of the third order of humans called the ‘tṛtīya prakṛti’ in texts like Vātsyāyana’s Kāmasūtra which refers to homoerotic and transgender persons.

Kāmasūtra 2.9.1 notes that those belonging to tṛtīya prakṛti are of two kinds: of female kind and male kind. The verses 2.9.2-10 further suggest that while those of the female kind can be employed for oral sex and could work as a paid-sex-worker, those of the male kind who desire other men, should take upon professions of hairdresser or masseur and thus fulfill their desires through intimate contact with other men.

Nāradasmṛti 12.8-19 defines people belonging to third-nature in terms of their inability to produce offspring either because they are physically impotent, or because they do not have sexual desire towards the opposite sex.

Dr. Bharat Gupt observes: “The ancient Hindu society, as is evident here, did not consider homosexuals as perverts or sinners. As the term, tṛtīya prakṛti or third-nature describes them, they are being themselves, they are being natural. This is the primary difference between the Christian and the Hindu attitude. Christianity did not accept the third-nature people and hence imposed punishment on their activities….For the Hindu social order, the homoerotics were not expected to follow the heterosexual norms of behavior. They cannot be blamed for being what they are. And for this reason, accepting their nature, they were not excommunicated or purged from human societies. They had to be given a place in it and they were to be protected and prevented from harm by the State [8].

It is very evident that in ancient Hindu society, homoerotics had a safe protected space and were an inseparable part of the larger society, however, there was a clear demarcation between heterosexual norms and institutions and homosexual norms & institutions. The former did not persecute the latter and the latter did not infringe upon the norms and institutions like vivāha of the former.

Keeping this historical reality in mind, let us now try to answer the central question that this essay seeks to explore:

Whether homosexual unions can be considered as vivāha or marriage in a Hindu sense?

The clear answer is a No.

The reason is Hindu vivāha by definition is a heterosexual institution that has been designed to facilitate strī (women) and puruṣa (men), who lack dispassion and other such qualities required to exclusively pursue spiritual liberation, to enter gṛhastha-āśrama and pursue all the four puruṣārthas, such that they can slowly purify their minds and attain dispassion and renunciation.

It is an institution which is built upon three elements of rati, dharma, and prajā to cater to the human need to become free from the three-debts and the heterosexual need to fulfill their gender functions by ensuring the continuity of the lineage, all the while also fulfilling their sexual and otherworldly desires.

While homosexual unions are endowed with rati with its twin aspects of Saha-kāma and saṃbhoga, it is completely devoid of elements of gṛhastha-dharma and prajā. In fact, the gṛhastha-āśrama is itself a heterosexual arrangement whose purpose is to facilitate heterosexual couples to pursue duties and desires such that they can eventually attain dispassion, as noted before.

Therefore, due to lack of gṛhastha-dharma, and prajā in a homosexual union and the fact that vivāha by definition is a heterosexual arrangement, the homosexual unions cannot be considered as a vivāha.

That vivāha is by definition a heterosexual institution can also be known by the fact that several texts like Nāradasmṛti 12.11-19 prohibit the marriage of homoerotic persons with persons of opposite gender and one of the reasons they provide for prohibiting such marriages is that they define marriage in heterosexual terms as a relationship which facilitates conception of children.

However, some authors like Amara Das Wilhelm argue that homosexual union can be classified under gāndharva type of marriage. Wilhelm defines gāndharva marriage as “as a union of love and cohabitation, recognized under common law, but without the need of parental consent or religious ceremony” and further cites Kāmasūtra and its 12th-century Saṃskṛta commentary Jayamaṅgala as evidence for some homosexual people entering into marriage due to love and trust between them [9].

But, a careful reading of the definition of the gāndharva type of marriage as mentioned in texts like Manusmṛiti 3.32 reveal that it is specifically speaking about a heterosexual union between kanyā (bride) and vara (bridegroom) and not a sexual-orientation neutral arrangement.

Further, though rati occupies a central role in a gāndharva marriage, it nevertheless also has the elements of gṛhastha-dharma and prajā in it, which are not possible in the case of homosexual unions. Hence, to consider homosexual unions as a form of gāndharva marriage is incorrect.

Moreover, the evidence from Jayamaṅgala commentary cited by Wilhelm is a case of a mistranslation of the Saṃskṛta word ‘paraspara-parigraham’. Wilhelm follows Alain Daniélou [10] in translating the term as “to get married together”.

However, the context of the verse is not marriage but oral sex. The said portion of Jayamaṅgala is actually speaking about how some homoerotic males out of love and friendship engage with each other and sexually satisfy one another through oral sex [11].

Thus, we can clearly see that homosexual unions cannot be considered as a vivāha either on its own standing as a separate category of marriage or as a part of gāndharva or other types of marriages, because vivāha and gṛhastha-āśrama by definition are heterosexual arrangements.

Does it mean homosexual couples have no place within the dharmic framework?

Again the answer is a clear No.

As the historical evidence shows, people of third-nature always had space within the larger Hindu society. They were not only protected by the state from persecution, but various professions were also open for them to earn a livelihood. More importantly, they had and even today have their own sacred spaces and ritual practices, and celebrate both mainstream Hindu festivals like Navaratri and festivals like Aravan, Renuka-Yellama, etc. which are exclusively observed by third-gender communities [12].

More importantly, an exclusion from vivāha and gṛhastha-āśrama does not imply exclusion from dharma.

Hindu texts enunciate two kinds of dharma: sāmānya (common) and viśeṣa (special). Sāmānyadharma deals with ethical principles like truth, non-injury, non-stealing, self-control, purity, etc., which are common duties applicable to all beings [13].

Viśeṣadharma, as the name itself, shows, refers to special duties which are contextual in nature and unique to each individual depending on the time, place, gender, varṇa, and āśrama.

An exclusion from gṛhastha-dharma and the duties unique to male and female genders, which fall under the purview of viśeṣadharma, does not imply exclusion from sāmānyadharma.

Instead, these ethical principles which are posited as duties to be inculcated in one’s everyday life so as to purify the mind and attain dispassion and other qualities necessary to pursue liberation are as relevant and necessary for homosexual persons as they are for heterosexual persons.

Further, the paths of bhakti-yoga (devotion), karma-yoga (path of unselfish action as enunciated in Bhagavad-gītā), tantra- sādhanā (spiritual practices in the tantric path), and tapasyā (austerity) are open for everyone irrespective of their class, stage, gender, or any other considerations.

The same goals of abhyudaya (worldly welfare) niḥśreyasa (spiritual wellbeing) that heterosexual couples attain through the sincere practice of gṛhastha-dharma can be attained by homosexual individuals by sincerely practicing any of the above-mentioned paths.

Therefore, homosexual individuals are as much a part of the dharmic worldview as heterosexual individuals and their ineligibility for vivāha saṃskāra (or the non-designation of homosexual unions as vivāha) does not handicap them in any way as far as the pursuit of puruṣārthas are considered.

However, one question remains:

What about the homosexual couple’s desire to sacralize their union and have specific ācāras for their daily practice as a couple?

Though we do not see an enunciation of any specific ritual procedure for sacralizing a homosexual union or any specific prescription of ācāras for them in the smṛtis and dharmaśāstra texts (to the best knowledge of this writer), there is no reason why such ritual procedures and a set of guidelines regarding ācāras cannot be developed today for the benefit for sincere dhārmika homosexual couples.

The absence of such guidelines in available texts is most likely because there was probably no such aspirations among homoerotic communities in the past and they were quite satisfied with the existing arrangements of their times, including practicing the norms and rituals that the third-gender communities have evolved over time.

However, the correct way to pursue a practical resolution to the questions related to dharma and ācāra is to approach the competent gurus and dharmācāryas who have the learning and authority to give definite guidance on the matter and not take the top-down approach of using secular courts to push one’s wishes on the rest of the society without a thought for long-term consequences on the Hindu civilization as a whole.

The Hindu way of resolving questions related to dharma & ācāra

The Hindu way of resolving disputes on matters relating to dharma are enunciated in various smṛitis and other dharmaśāstra texts.

Manusmṛiti, for example, takes up for discussion this question in verses 108-115 of chapter twelve. It says:

If the question should arise—“How should it be in regard to those points upon which the laws have not been declared?”—[the answer is]—what the virtuous and duly qualified Brāhmaṇas declare, that shall be the undoubted law.—(12.108)

Those Brāhmaṇas, by whom the Veda, along with its supplements, has been learned in the right manner, and who are guided directly by the revealed texts,—shall be regarded as ‘duly-qualified [14]’.—(12.109)

When a council consisting of at least ten men,—or of at least three men firm in their duty—declares a certain law, one should not seek to dispute it.—(12.110)

Such a council of ten Brāhmaṇas must include: one person well-learned in Ṛgveda, one learned in Yajurveda, one in Sāmaveda, one learned in tarka i.e. logic, one learned in investigative principles of mimānsā, a person knowing the nirukta, one who is well-versed in dharmaśāstras and one person from each of the first three life-stages.—(12.111)

A person knowing the Ṛgveda, a person knowing the Yajurveda, and a person knowing the Sāmaveda, shall be understood to form the council of at least three members, competent to decide doubtful points of law.—(12.112)

That which even a single Brāhmaṇa learned in the Veda decides to be the law, shall be understood to be the highest law,—and not what is asserted by ten thousand ignoramuses.—(12.113)

Even if thousands of Brāhmaṇas come together,—who have not fulfilled their duties, who are ignorant of the sacred texts, who subsist merely by the name of their caste,—the character of the ‘council’ cannot belong to them.—(12.114)

When ignorant men, partaking of the quality of ‘tamas,’ declare a certain act as right, without knowing what ‘right’ means,—the sin of that act falls a hundred-fold upon those who propound it.—(12.115)

Similar opinions have been expressed by other dharmācāryas:

Gautama (28.49)—‘They declare that a pariṣad, council, shall consist of at least the ten following—four men who have completely studied the four Vedas, three men belonging to the first three orders, and three men who know the different institutes of Law.’

Baudhāyana (1.1.7, 9)—‘On failure of the śiṣṭas, a council consisting of at least ten members shall decide disputed points of Law.’

Vaśiṣṭha (3.20)—‘Four students of the four Vedas, one knowing Mīmāṃsā, one knowing the subsidiary sciences, a teacher of the sacred law, and three eminent men of the three different orders compose a legal assembly consisting of at least ten members.’

Yājñavalkya (1.9)—‘Four persons well versed in the Veda and in Law, or learned in the three Vedas, constitute the pariṣad, council; whatever this council declares is the Law; or what is declared by a single person thoroughly cognizant of the Self.’

The above quotations are self-evident. If some dhārmika homosexual couples have a sincere desire to have their unions sacralized through some form of vaidika or paurāṇika based ritual procedure and have a clear-cut guideline regarding ācāras, then they must approach either competent gurus who can guide them or request the ācāryasabhās i.e. the established institutions of saints and traditional teachers belonging to different sampradāyas to deliberate on the issue. Or else, they can choose to anchor themselves to sāmānyadharma and practice any of the available spiritual paths like devotion, austerity, etc. and attain overall wellbeing.

Final Comments on the Petition

Here are a few final comments regarding the petition itself.

  1. If the issue was one of the homosexual couples not having the same rights as heterosexual couples, then why file a petition under the Hindu Marriage Act? What about homosexual couples among Christian or Muslim communities? Do they not deserve equal rights?
  2. If the petitioners’ intention was to ask for property and other secular rights for homosexual couples that are enjoyed by heterosexual couples, then, why did they not ask for the enactment of separate laws giving these secular rights to Homosexual couples?
  3. If the contention is that since the petitioners are Hindus, they can only speak for Hindus, and hence they have filed the PIL under Hindu Marriage Act, then it is even more problematic. How can a small group of petitioners represent the whole Hindu community? If they really wanted to create a debate and discussion within the Hindu community regarding the definition of ‘vivāha’ why not approach our gurus and dharmācāryas and dharmasabhās, who alone have the training, competency, and authority to speak about the nuances of dharma and ācāra as per Hindu philosophy?
  4. Why did the petitioners take this top-down approach of forcibly changing the definition of Hindu Marriage by using legal activism and opening Hindu society for yet another interference from secular courts?
  5. How different is this intervention from the legal intervention that happened with respect to Sabarimala temple practice?

The fact is, howsoever one sees it and whatever be the intentions of the petitioners, this employment of legal activism to reform and redefine Hindu traditions and institutions would ultimately lead to the dismantling of Hinduism.


Primary Texts:

Baudhāyana Dharmasūtra
Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad
Gautama Dharmasūtra
Satapatha Brāhmana
Taittiriya Samhitā
Taittirīya Upaniṣad
Vaśiṣṭha Dharmasūtra

Secondary Resources:


  1. Ananthanarasimhachar, A. Samskara Mahodadhi. Bengaluru: Anantha Prakashana, 2014.
  2. Badrinath, Chaturvedi. The Mahabharata: An Inquiry in the Human Condition. Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan, 2007.
  3. Manusmriti with the ‘Manubhashya’ of Medatithi, Volume 3, English Translation, Part 1, Discourses I & II. Translated by Ganganath Jha. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, 1920-39.
  4. Sridhar, Nithin. Samanya Dharma: Ethical Duties Common to All. Hubli: Subbu Publication, 2019.
  5. The Kamasutra by Sri Vatsyayana Muni with the Commentary Jayamangala of Yashodhar. Edited by Gosvami Damodar Shastri. Varanasi: Chowkamba Sanskrit Series, 1929.
  6. The Minor Law-Books. Translated by Julius Jolly. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1889.
  7. Tryambakayajvan. The Perfect Wife (Stridharmapaddhati). Translated by Julia Leslie. New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 1995.
  8. Vatsyayana. Kamasutra: A new, complete English translation of the Sanskrit text. Translated by Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakar. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  9. Vatsyayana. The Complete Kamasutra: The First Unabridged Modern Translation of the Classic Indian Text. Translated by Alain Daniélou. Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1994.
  10. Wilhelm, Amara Das. Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex: Understanding Homosexuality, Transgender Identity, and Intersex Conditions Through Hinduism. Philadelphia: Xlibris Corporation, 2003.


  1. Gupt, Bharat. “What Hinduism thinks of gay sex through the ages.” DailyO, March 21, 2016.
  2. Sridhar, Nithin. “Abortion, a Dharmic Perspective- II: Giving Birth as a Noble Act.” IndiaFacts, June 6, 2017.
  3. Sridhar, Nithin. “Revisiting Sati: Understanding the practice from a Dharmic perspective.” IndiaFacts, November 29, 2017.


Gupt, Bharat. “Hindu View on Homosexuality.” India Inspires, 2017.

References Order 1 to 14:

  1. Bharat Gupt, “Hindu View on Homosexuality,” India Inspires, 2017,
  2. Dr. A Ananthanarasimhachar, Samskara Mahodadhi (Bengaluru: Anantha Prakashana, 2014), 526.
  3. Chaturvedi Badrinath, The Mahabharata: An Inquiry in the Human Condition (Hyderabad: Orient Blackswan, 2007), 326.
  4. Tryambakayajvan, The Perfect Wife (Stridharmapaddhati), trans. by Julia Leslie (New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 1995), 141.
  5. Nithin Sridhar, “Revisiting Sati: Understanding the practice from a Dharmic perspective,” IndiaFacts, November 29, 2017,
  6. Nithin Sridhar, “Abortion, a Dharmic Perspective- II: Giving Birth as a Noble Act,” IndiaFacts, June 6, 2017,
  7. The eight kinds of Hindu marriage are brāhma, daiva, ārṣaḥ, prājāpatya, āsuraḥ, gāndharva, rākṣasa, and paiśāca. This has been elaborated in Manusmṛiti 3.21-34.
  8. Bharat Gupt, “What Hinduism thinks of gay sex through the ages,” DailyO, March 21, 2016,
  9. Amara Das Wilhelm, Tritiya-Prakriti: People of the Third Sex: Understanding Homosexuality, Transgender Identity and Intersex Conditions Through Hinduism (Philadelphia: Xlibris Corporation, 2003), 22.
  10. Vatsyayana, The Complete Kamasutra: The First Unabridged Modern Translation of the Classic Indian Text, trans. Alain Daniélou (Vermont: Inner Traditions, 1994).
  11. Wendy Doniger, who is otherwise known for her misrepresentation of Hinduism, has rightly translated ‘paraspara-parigraham’ as ‘take one another’. She translates the relevant portion of Jayamaṅgala commentary as follows: “Certain men-about-town, the ones who are practically women, take one another, in friendship, and give one another the sensual pleasure of ejaculation. They say, ‘You do it for me now, and I will do it for you later.’ Or both of them do it at the same time, by turning their bodies head to foot, losing all sense of time because of their passion. Thus there are two ways of doing it.” [Vatsyayana, Kamasutra: A new, complete English translation of the Sanskrit text, trans. Wendy Doniger and Sudhir Kakar, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 68.]
  12. Wilhelm, Tritiya-Prakriti, Appendix 5.
  13. For a detailed exposition on sāmānyadharma, refer: Nithin Sridhar, Samanya Dharma: Ethical Duties Common to All (Hubli: Subbu Publication, 2019).
  14. The term used is ‘śiṣṭa brāhmaṇa’. We find different definitions for who a śiṣṭa is. For example, Vaśiṣṭha (1.6-7) says—‘He whose heart is free from desire is called śiṣṭa. Acts sanctioned by the sacred law are those for which no worldly cause is perceptible.’ In another place, Vaśiṣṭha (6.43) says—‘Those Brāhmaṇas in whose families the study of the Veda and the subsidiary sciences is hereditary, and who are able to adduce proofs perceptible by the senses from the revealed texts, must be known to be śiṣṭa, cultured.’ Likewise, Baudhāyana (1.1.5-6) says—‘Śiṣṭa, cultured, forsooth, are those who are free from envy, free from pride, contented with a store of grain sufficient for ten days, free from covetousness, and free from hypocrisy, arrogance, greed, perplexity and anger. Those are called cultured who, in accordance with the sacred Law, have studied the Veda together with its subsidiaries, know how to draw inferences from it, and are able to adduce proofs perceptible by the senses from the revealed texts.’

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article belong to the author. Indic Today is neither responsible nor liable for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information in the article.

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