In a historic judgment delivered on June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of making the United States of America the 23rd country that allowed same-sex marriages. In India, a few years back, the Delhi High Court had struck down the 150-year-old Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, thus legalising consensual homosexual activities between adults. However, to the dismay of many, the Indian Supreme Court, which has had a distinguished record in recent times of ensuring fundamental rights and liberty are not taken away by the state, overturned the Delhi HC decision. While the matter is expected to come up for hearing once again before the Supreme Court, the issue of “gay rights” seems to have divided the nation.
Those opposing the decriminalisation of same-sex relationships among consenting adults include a number of “conservative Indians” led by various religious heads who call this sexual choice “unnatural”. One of the most vocal opponents of the gay movement is Baba Ramdev, a friend and supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has an opinion on every issue, from calling actresses promiscuous, to saying homosexuality is a disease that can be cured. Unfortunately for those with different sexual choices, this issue seems to unite priests, babas and maulanas from different faiths, who never seem to agree on anything except this one topic. And one often finds them in television studios, giving sound bites on how homosexuality is against the “great Indian culture”.
Indian mythology has several stories of alternate sexual choices or even of men turning into women or vice-versa. Shiva bathes in the Yamuna and becomes a gopi so that he can participate in raas-leela with Krishna. Another tale is that of Aravan, the son of Arjuna and Ulupi, who had to be sacrificed to ensure the Pandavas’ victory in the war. However, Aravan did not want to die unmarried. As no woman wanted to marry a man who would die the next day, Krishna took his female form, Mohini, became Aravan’s wife, spent the night with him and then mourned for him next morning – as his widow – when he was killed.
Mohini, the female avatar of Lord Vishnu, is worshipped throughout Indian culture. Amongst her other stories in the Puranas is how Shiva and his wife Parvati visit Vishnu’s home, where Shiva asks Vishnu to take on the Mohini form so he can see the actual transformation for himself. Vishnu smiles and takes the form of the gorgeous Mohini. Overcome by lust, Shiva chases Mohini as Parvati hangs her head in envy. From their coupling is born the god Maha-Sastha. Then there is another story of Vishnu who takes the form of Mohini to save Shiva’s life from a demon that was chasing him. Mohini enchanted the demon Bhasmasura and made him touch his own head, thus reducing him to ashes, saving Shiva’s life. In Shiva Purana, the birth of Hanuman is attributed to the union between Shiva and Mohini. The Mahabharata also has, in one of its stories, the episode when the great archer Arjuna goes to visit his father, god Indra, in Amravati while in exile. There he spurns the advances of Urvashi who, at being rejected, curses him to become a eunuch. His father – the king of Devas – modifies the curse, so Arjuna loses his manhood just for a year, and advises him to live the curse in the 13th year of exile when the Pandavas are expected to be in hiding.
Another chapter from the Mahabharata is the story of Budh (the planet Mercury), which is neither male nor female. Brihaspati (the planet Jupiter) discovers that his wife Tara (the goddess of stars) is pregnant with the child of her lover, Chandra (the moon god). He therefore curses the unborn child. The neuter Budh (Mercury) later marries Ila, a man who becomes a woman when he accidentally trespasses into a forest. In the Ramayana, two widows who want to give birth drink a magic potion and make love to each other. In Valmiki Ramayana, in order to taste Ravana, Rakshasa women kiss other women on their lips.
There is also the story of Narada, who desires to understand Lord Vishnu’s Maya. The lord asks him to bathe in a lotus pond. As soon as he enters the pond, he transforms into a female form and forgets his earlier identity. He then gets married to a king, lives the life of a queen and even has children. The gender and sexual divide was often diminished by Indian writers. So today when Babas or other religious heads preach to us or PM Modi’s government votes (against the benefits for same-sex couples working at the UN) with Russia, Pakistan and Iran to curtail the rights of those who have an alternate sexual orientation under the garb of “Indian culture”, I have my doubts whether they have actually studied what Indian spirituality is all about.
In this great land, it is the soul that is important. The body is just temporary. As lord Krishna teaches us, the true meaning of enlightenment is to go beyond all things worldly, and to achieve this we as people, must start accepting the infinite possibilities that the universe throws up. So let us accept it, celebrate it, and empathise with those whose choices may differ from ours. Because we can only achieve the higher level when we destroy all the lines that we, ourselves, have created.
(This article, which first appeared in DailyO on January 7, 2017, has been republished on Nation Next with the permission from the author.)
RMBRCN celebrates Charter Presentation & Installation, Rina Sinha becomes Charter President
The Rotary Means Business chapter of Rotary Club Of Nagpur (RMBRCN) celebrated their Charter Presentation and Installation of Board on September 17, 2023 in a crisp official ceremony at Hotel Centre Point, Nagpur.
Rotary Means Business encourages Rotarians to support the success of their fellow Rotarians by doing business with them and by referring others to them.
Charter President Past President Rtn Rina Sinha presided over the ceremony. Renowned entrepreneur and Rotarian Aspi Bapuna, Chairman of Bapuna Group, was the Chief Guest and Rtn Namita Sharma, President of RCN, was the Guest of Honour.
The Board of Directors of RMBRCN include Rtn Navneet Jain, Vice President, Rtn Mohammed Master, Honorary Secretary, Rtn Sanjay Aggarwal Treasurer, Rtn Rakhi Bhatia Director Chapter Service, Rtn Rahul Shrivastava, Director Vocational Service, Dr Ruchi Choudhry, Director Membership Development, Ranjana Duseja, Director Attendance.
Past Rotary District Governor (PDG) Shabbir Shakir, Past Presidents- Bharat Goenka , Khushnoor Chugh, Sanjiv Chugh, Akhtar Parvez, Tejinder Singh Rawal, Alok Goenka, Jerestine Watchmaker, Sandeep Dhodapkar, Sanjay Arora, President RMB Nagpur, and Behram Patel and Amitabh Sinha were present.
President Rina Sinha informed that within a short period of its formation already 48 members representing various businesses have joined the chapter and the numbers are increasing . The Chapter has already crossed 5 crores of business amongst their members and RMB will further strengthen Rotary in membership growth and retention .
Chief Guest Rtn Aspi Bapuna lauded the chapter’s success and reiterated that its comfortable and safe to do business among fellow rotarians as all follow the Four Way Test of Rotary. Jerestine introduced President Rina. Aspi Bapuna presented the charter and installed President Rina Sinha . Rtn Namita congratulated the RMB chapter and informed that this is the new initiative at RCN.The Board was installed by Rina Sinha and all members were installed by the Past Presidents. An exclusive digital Monthly Magazine ‘Growth Engine’ was launched by Editor Niharika Chugh Vali.
Navneet Jain and Rahul Choudhry conducted the referral and thank you session where enthusiastic members informed about their successful business details. Nishchay Sinha launched the social media and MYRMB app which connects members to other chapters digitally, Treasurer Sanjay Agarwal gave treasurers report, Rtn Rakhi Bhatia managed the event. Rtn Parag Datey and Niharika were the Masters of Ceremony (MOCs). Secretary Mohammed Master proposed the formal Vote of Thanks .
Nitin Gadkari inaugurates double-decker electric bus availed for senior citizens in Nagpur
Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, on Saturday, inaugurated the double-decker electric bus designed for senior citizens in Nagpur. The initiative has been undertaken in association with Ashok Leyland’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Committee and Jyeshtha Nagarik Pratishthan.
Executive President of Jyeshtha Nagarik Pratishthan Datta Meghe, Vice Chairman of Ashok Leyland Limited Yash Sachar, CEO of Switch Mobility Mahesh Babu, and other dignitaries were present during the inauguration.
“I am very thankful to Ashok Leyland’s electric vehicle arm ‘Switch Mobility’ for donating an electric bus for our senior citizens. The bus can hold a capacity of 65 people and will benefit a lot to disabled and senior citizens,” Gadkari said.
“We already have a green Electra bus available to us for the past five to six years. Krishna Reddy has taken the responsibility of repairing and providing air-conditioning to the bus, moreover, he is providing us with one additional bus. A Tata Motor bus will be arriving this month as well, giving us a total of four buses to operate. This will solve the issue of waiting list due to the lack of buses for senior citizens in the city.” he added.
With the help of these buses, senior citizens can avail the benefit of free trips to religious places like Ambhora, Adasa, Shegaon, Mahur, Dhapewada, and Kalamb.
Nagpur: Married man accused of girlfriend’s rape commits suicide on Facebook live
A 38-year-old married man named Manish alias Raj Yadav, on Sunday, committed suicide during a Facebook live-stream after allegedly being accused of rape by his girlfriend and her family in Nagpur.
During the live stream, Manish, who was married and a father to three children, stated that his 19-year-old girlfriend, Kajal, along with her family members demanded a sum of five lakh rupees and threatened to press charges of rape if he failed to do so.
On September 6, the situation became grave as the woman’s family accused him of eloping after Kajal went missing from her residence.
The deceased refused the claims of having any sexual relationship with the woman and identified her, her family, and a photo studio operator responsible for his condition. He, then, jumped into the river.
After the live video surfaced online, Kalamna Police launched a search operation and recovered the deceased’s body from the river. Four people have been detained in the case for questioning. Further investigation is underway.