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Ancient India’s Take On The LGBTQ+ Community 

Have you ever stopped to think about how love and identity were understood in different times and places?  The West often paints a picture of a monolithic past where LGBTQ+ people were universally excluded. 

But the truth, as with most things in history, is far more fascinating. A look at ancient Indian culture reveals a society with a much more nuanced perspective on love and gender, offering a valuable lesson in acceptance, for the modern world. Let’s take a look at the LGBTQ+ history in India, and LGBTQ+ rights in ancient India.

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A Third Gender and Acceptance in Art and Literature

Evidence abounds in the form of temple sculptures depicting same-sex relationships, with Khajuraho being a prime example. Ancient texts acknowledge a “tritiya-prakriti” (third gender) with terms for transgender individuals. The erotic manual, Kamasutra, even dedicates a chapter to exploring various expressions of sexuality, including same-sex relationships, this shows a significant historical LGBTQ+ acceptance

Religion and Fluidity

Hinduism, the dominant religion, offers a pantheon of deities with fluid gender identities. The concept of “Vikriti Evam Prakriti” from the Rigveda translates to “what seems unnatural is also natural,” suggesting an acceptance of diversity.

Support for Variations, Not Always Unconditional

It’s important to acknowledge that the picture isn’t perfect. While disapproval of homosexuality existed in some texts, the extent of such views is debated. What’s clear is that even with some disapproval, there wasn’t the level of marginalization seen in the West.

Westernization's Shadow

The arrival of colonialism and Western influence brought a stricter moral code, pushing India towards a more exclusionary view of LGBTQ+ identities. This shift has had a lasting impact on modern India, where the community still faces challenges.

Lessons from the Past: Reclaiming an Inclusive Future

Despite the historical legacy of acceptance, India’s LGBTQ+ community continues to fight for equality. In the end, someone’s identity or sexuality shouldn’t define their worth. We, as a society, must strive to see the human being above all else, and embrace the beautiful spectrum of love and identity that enriches our world.
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