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Unlike Aeroplanes, There is Proof of Homosexuality in Ancient India: Author Devdutt Pattanaik

The author says that pleasure of all forms, heterosexual and homosexual, was celebrated in ancient India. It was British who criminalised pleasure.

Eram Agha | News18.comEramAgha

Updated:September 9, 2018, 8:19 AM IST
Unlike Aeroplanes, There is Proof of Homosexuality in Ancient India:  Author Devdutt Pattanaik
File photo of Devdutt Pattanaik.

New Delhi: Mythologist, author and theorist Devdutt Pattanaik is not bothered by the statements of All India Muslim Personal Law Board or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on Supreme Court verdict decriminalizing homosexuality.

Enthralled after the judgment, Pattanaik visited Siddhivinayaka Temple, remover of all obstacles, to give thanks for the “wisdom that prevailed in Supreme Court leading to decriminalizing same sex queer love.”

The Supreme Court verdict has outlined the “History of Section 377,” saying, “In the western world, given the fact that both Judaism and Christianity outlawed sexual intercourse by same-sex couples, offences relating thereto were decided by ecclesiastical courts. It is only as a result of Henry VIII of England breaking with the Roman Catholic Church that legislation in his reign, namely the Buggery Act of 1533, prohibited “the detestable and abominable offence” of buggery committed with mankind or beast.

In the short interview with News 18 Pattanaik talks about the second “decolonization” with this verdict and how we came to this pass, cornering a community for their sexual orientation.

The Supreme Court decriminalised homosexuality. Did India just reclaim its past and it is another episode of decolonization, as being perceived by many supporters of gay rights?

This was long overdue. Going by our history, pleasure of all forms, heterosexual and homosexual, was celebrated in ancient India. It was British who criminalised pleasure. Now kama(pleasure) sits proudly with dharma(responsibility), artha(success) and moksha(freedom), the four goals of human life, as per Indian tradition. It is certainly another episode of decolonisation. Since the Penal Law was formulated by Lord Macaulay and, ironically, it was supported by many ‘nationalists’ and religious lunatics.

Could you explain how did we come to this pass - making homosexuality a crime? How did we become a people cornering a community for their sexual orientation?

The British followed Victorian values rooted in Christian ideas of sin. They saw Indians as effeminate and pleasure-seeking. So they introduced laws to discipline and civilise Indians. During independence most of the founding fathers of our nation state, trained in British schools and colleges, seemed to agree with this British worldview.

This self-hatred for all things Indian exists even today. We cannot accept that Indians were broadminded. We want to believe that ancient India was like Victorian England. Many believe ancient India had aeroplanes, despite no evidence, but not homosexuality, despite evidence. But wise sages know that people with low spiritual index love to corner and criminalise people who are different; people with high spiritual index accept and include diversity.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh believes in decriminalisation of homosexuality but finds gay relations subject to treatment. On the other hand, All India Muslim Personal Law Board has condemned the SC verdict. Your views?

Indian Psychiatric Association that was quoted by the SC judgement is clear that homosexuality is not a disease or disorder. Surely RSS has no expertise in these matters. Why would you bother with their statement? Of course everyone in the world is entitled to their fantasies as long as they do not violate the rights and privacy of other human beings.

What should be the next step for gay rights?

Gay rights is no different from human rights. All humans have a right to marry, I believe. And the state agrees. We just have to clarify the process.

| Edited by: Sana Fazili
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