PRIDE in South Asia

In honor of Pride Month, a series of articles exploring LGBT themes and individuals in indigenous South Asian literary and scriptural traditions.
LGBTQ+ Themes in South Asian Literature: Arjuna to Arjuni

LGBTQ+ Themes in South Asian Literature: Arjuna to Arjuni

This tale occurs in the Padma Purāna (5.74.60-198). Here, Arjuna transforms into a ‘Gopi’ named ‘Arjuni’ to enjoy the Rāsa dance with Krishna. The background for such a tale can be seen in the Mahābhāratam, namely in the eternal and divine friendship between Arjuna...

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LGBTQ+ Themes in South Asian Literature: Ardhanārishwara

LGBTQ+ Themes in South Asian Literature: Ardhanārishwara

The form of Ardhanārishwara is an androgynous form of the deities Shiva and Pārvati. It is depicted as in equal parts, half-male and half-female. This form represents the equality between the genders - Male and Female. When discussing creation, the Manu Smriti (1.32)...

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LGBTQ+ Themes in South Asian Literature: Mohini

LGBTQ+ Themes in South Asian Literature: Mohini

This story is of the ‘female incarnation’ of Lord Vishnu - Mohini (‘she who attracts’), which can be interpreted as a ‘male-to-female transgender’ narrative. Vishnu represents the ‘omnipresent Ultimate Reality’, and his female form as Mohini signifies ‘Māyā’ (the...

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LGBTQ+ Themes in South Asian Literature: Ilā – Sudyumna

LGBTQ+ Themes in South Asian Literature: Ilā – Sudyumna

The following story, covering an interesting take on gender fluidity, the non-binary and bisexuality, is an important precursor to the lineage of the central characters in the political epic, the Mahābhāratam. The progenitor of mankind for this current time period was...

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