Varsha – Why She Comes, When She Does?

India receives its monsoon rain every year in June. This has been happening without fail year after year for the last so many millennia.

Annual Rains in Ramayana times

Even in the Ramayana text, there is mention of this annual rainy season period. In the year 5076 BCE, Sugreeva and his army had to wait for a couple of months before starting their march to Lanka, because it was the rainy season. This shows that this rain is an annual, regular feature.

Correlation between rain, year and land

Rain, in India, is called Varsha.

The year is also called Varsha.

The land is also called Bharatha Varsha.

So, there is a distinct correlation between rain, year and land.

Varsha, Varsha, Varsha

The arrival of Varsha, the rain, at a regular frequency of once a year, gave the notion of Varsha, the year and the land on which she poured, gave the notion of Varsha, the nation.

The cause for Monsoon in India

Have we ever questioned as to why it rains every year without fail?

What are the forces of nature that brings rain every year to this land?

Have we ever thought what brings us these rains?

To answer these questions, we need to step back a bit and look at not just the landscape of India but look at the world as a whole.

Heat generates wind flow

In the month of May, it is summer in the Northern hemisphere, especially in India, with the average temperature in the inlands of India touching over 45 degrees centigrade. This extreme heat creates a low pressure in the central parts of India as well as over the Thar Desert of Rajasthan.

Similarly, in Northern Africa, in the Sahara desert, the temperatures are also in the range of 45-50 degrees centigrade, due to which there is also a low pressure created there. At the same time, it is winter in the southern hemisphere. The great Australian desert is cooler and hence higher pressure prevails there.

In the case of swirling winds on earth, it is well known that winds always move from a higher pressure region to a low pressure region.

Pressure Zones

The pressure zones are created by heat and cold, among other factors and the winds keep swirling all over the world, trying to neutralize these pressures. Due to this reason, the winds move from cooler and high pressured, Central Australia, in a northwesterly direction, towards the huge Sahara Desert because it is hot and low pressure there.

Ferrel’s Law in action

But, as soon as the winds cross the equator, they change direction and instead of blowing in a northwesterly direction they blow in a northeasterly direction and start approaching the Indian subcontinent, because of which India has been experiencing its bountiful Southwest monsoons every year.

William Ferrel was an American Meteorologist who lived between 1817 and 1891. He developed many theories which explained atmospheric circulations.

Ferrell American Meteorologist, William Ferrel

Ferrel’s Law states that “high pressure systems, as seen from space tend to spin clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counter clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere and low pressure systems spin in the respective reverse direction.”

Ferrel Law

Graphical Depiction of Ferrel’s law

This means that, the moment the winds cross the equator or go from one hemisphere to the other, they automatically change direction. Thus, the rain bearing winds, going towards Africa, change their direction while crossing the equator and blow towards India, bringing the monsoon rains to India.

Equatorial Bulge

What is of interest to be noted here is that, the equatorial bulge is believed to be the cause for this change in the direction of the wind flow.

Source of Monsoons

All this shows that the world is One. While the lands may be many, Nature’s way of reaching out is indeed interesting.

Whoever would have thought that the copious monsoon rains, that this land of India receives, starts as dry, hot winds in the Australian desert which pick up moisture in the Indian Ocean, turn direction after crossing the equator, come towards the land of India and then pour out all the moisture as monsoon rains year on year, to make this land a prosperous one?

Do we harness?

What do we do with the waters brought to us by these benevolent clouds, which have travelled all the way from the Great Dessert?

While nature pours a bounty on this land, unfailingly, year after year, do we take the effort of harnessing it for the rest of the year?

We have discussed this in our earlier Rishimukh article – Fill a Pail of Water, in the month of July 2011. The same can also be accessed from our Bharath Gyan website.

Wind churn – Earthly, Solar and Galactic

This churn of winds on the face of the earth is beneficial in bringing rains of our land. Similarly, there is also a churn of solar winds in the solar system and also a churn of galactic winds at a galactic level, which have got their own effects on us.

This we discuss in some good detail in our book, 2012 – The Real Story.

                         2012-front cover 2012-back cover

2012 – The Real Story

As we await the annual visit of Varsha this year, let us marvel at the precise, principled and predictable way of working of Nature.

Let us relish the rains this season and the shower of knowledge. 

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Guru Arjan

Guru Arjan is the 5th Sikh Guru who became a Guru at the age of 18.

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Guru Arjan

He built the base of the Golden temple in 1601 CE and also compiled the sacred Adi Granth, which was in the year 1708, conferred the title of Guru Granth Sahib by Guru Gobind Singh, and is revered as the Holy Book of Sikhs.

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       Guru Arjan and his team compiling the Adi Granth beside the golden temple

Guru Arjan was also a poet and composed 2312 hymns. These hymns were called “Sukh Mani Sahib”. They console our minds and hearts and have a soothing effect on the reader, the listener and the singer.

Guru Arjan composed these hymns sitting on the banks of Ramsar Sarovar.

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Sukh Mani Sahib

The oppression from the Mugals led Guru Arjan to sacrifice his life at a young age of 43 in 1606 CE for which he is reverentially referred to as “Shahid De Sartaj”.

Guru Arjan was sentenced to death by the then Mughal King Jahangir for including Islamic references in the Holy Book. He was made to sit on a hot sheet and burning sand was put on him.

Guru Arjan passed away on 30th May, 1606.

Many years after his death, Guru Arjan’s social, spiritual, and poetic legacy along with the golden temple still stands a testimony to the vision he had for the people.

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, born on May 28, 1883, was a major player in India’s Independence. He was a poet, a writer and a politician, who shaped Indian nationalism through the concept of Hindutva, a term that was coined by this leader.

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Vinayak Damodar Savarkar

Concept of Hindutva

Hindutva has been a much misunderstood word these days, for, the term Hindu has been equated with the religion, Hinduism and many people have termed this concept as an idea of following and promoting one religion.

Hindutva, a Value System

In actual sense, what Sarvarkar meant was a value system based on the culture and traditions of this land. It was a value system that revolved around the core principles of Universalism, Humanism, Positivism, Pragmatism and Rationalism.

Savarkar believed in influencing the masses towards independence, by reminding them of their unique cultural identity.

Activities as youth

Savarkar’s pro independence activities began from his student days in England, where, as a part of the India House, he founded the twin student societies, Abhinav Bharat Society and Free India Society to encourage the youth to participate in Indian revolution for independence.

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Veer Savarkar and his friends

Img: courtesy Flickr

Publications

He also brought out many publications towards this effect. “The First Indian War of Independence” was one of his major works highlighting the Indian struggle of 1857 against the British misrule. The work was banned by the British administrators.

Fighting untouchability and casteism

Savarkar was against religions, untouchability and openly spoke out against castism. He thereby played a vital role in forging unity among masses. He is credited to have facilitated in discarding the practice of untouchability in the remote areas of Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, in less than 10 years.

Netaji on Savarkar

Netaji in his speech of June-25, 1944, acknowledged Savarkar’s perspicacity.

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Savarkar with Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose

Starting Ganesh Utsav

Savarkar was also one of the leaders along with Bal Gangadhar Tilak who started the Ganesh Utsav that became and is still one of the major festivals of Maharashtra, to build national and cultural unity.

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Ganesh Utsav

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Veer Savarkar Paying Homage to Lokmanya Tilak in 1937

In Jail

For all these, Savarkar was arrested in London in 1910 for carrying out anti-colonial activities. While being shifted to India in a ship, Savarkar tried to escape when the ship reached Marseilles by diving into the water and escaping to the shore. But, the alarm bells were rung before he could be saved by his friends and he was rearrested. He was now sentenced to two consecutive terms of life imprisonment, i.e, 50 years in jail and was shifted to the Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar islands. His brother was also in same jail at the same time for many years, but both did not know of each others’ presence.

 

Cellular Jail, Savarkar Cell

This did not impede Sarvarkar as he carried out his pro independence activities from jail. He wrote his biggest work on Hindutva while serving his sentence.

In 1921, Savarkar was released on the condition that he would not hence forth encourage and carry out any revolutionary activities.

Speeches across land

Once outside jail, Savarkar concentrated on travelling across the country and giving speeches on the concept of Hindutva that he had formulated while in prison. As an able orator and poet, he was able to greatly influence the minds of the people towards his idea of India.

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Veer Savarkar giving speech

President of Hindu Mahasabha

He was elected the president of Hindu Mahasabha in 1937, which he served until 1943.

Against partition

Savarkar was vehemently against partition. His position on partition has been aptly summarized by Ambedkar in his work, ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’.

“Mr. Savarkar… insists that, although there are two nations in India, India shall not be divided into two parts, one for Muslims and the other for the Hindus; that the two nations shall dwell in one country and shall live under the mantle of one single constitution…”

After Independence

After Independence, Savarkar continued his agenda of promoting Hindutva through his oratory, poetry and writing skills. He had to sail through a few controversial moments when he was accused in Mahatma Gandhi assassination case, but was later acquitted.

‘Veer’ Savarkar

Savarkar passed away on 26th February, 1966. Around 2000 Rastriya Swayam Sevaks conducted a grand funeral for this great freedom fighter. The term ‘Veer’ was added to his name in recognition of the great courage he had shown in fighting the British Rule.

We, Hari and Hema got the opportunity to visit his cell in Andaman Jail. We recollect with pain to have seen the many torture tools that were used then.

The struggle, the freedom fighters have gone through to give us, the next generations, the freedom we are enjoying today truly leave us tearful and speechless!!!

The only words that arise in the silence are,

“Are we living up to the dreams they cherished for India, for the sake of which they underwent so much torture?”

Rashbehari Bose

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Rashbehari Bose was one of the prominent Indian leaders who fought against the British Rule.

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Role in Ghadar revolution

He played a prominent role in the Ghadar revolution, a pan Indian mutiny in the British Indian Army that was planned by Ghadar party and carried out in February 1915.

Worked as a Clerk at Forest Research Institute

Rashbehari Bose worked as a head clerk at the Forest Research Institute, in Dehradun, which was set up in 1906.

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The Building where Rashbehari worked as a clerk, in Dehradun

Leaving for Japan

Post the Ghadar revolution, Rash Behari Bose had to leave India to escape from the British hunt. He left for Singapore on May 22nd, 1915 and from there went to Japan in June, under the impersonation of Raja P N T Tagore, a distant relation of Rabindranath Tagore.

In Japan, he played a key role in the formation of the Indian National Army.

On arriving in Japan, he met his colleagues of the Ghadar Party, Herambalal Gupta and Bhagavan Singh and formulated the agenda against the British, in hiding.

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Indo Japan Connect

The Indo – Japan connect from a friendship angle was initiated during the 1915s, when Japan gave shelter to Rash Behari Bose, who was looking for a place to hide from the British. Despite many requests from the British to extradite him, Japan firmly stood by him.

Key thought leaders of Japan, such as Tsuyoshi Inukai, who later went on to become the Prime Minister of Japan, Mitsuru Toyama, a Pan Asian leader of Japan, became his close friends and together they established the platform of the modern day bond between India and Japan.

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A dinner party hosted in the honour of Rash Behari Bose in 1915 at Japan.

Mitsuru Toyama is at the centre of the table, Tsuyoshi Inukai to his right and Rash Behari Bose is behind Mitsuru Toyama – A file photo

Mitsuru Toyama is at the centre of the table, Tsuyoshi Inukai to his right and Rash Behari Bose is behind Mitsuru Toyama – A file photo

Becoming a Japanese citizen

When Japan, an ally of the British in the First World War, discovered their identities and wanted to extradite them, Herambalal escaped to US, while Rash Behari came out of his ‘hiding’ by marrying the daughter of a Japanese bakery owner and becoming a citizen of Japan. Through this bakery, he also introduced Indian Curry to Japan.

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Rash Behari Bose with his Japanese wife

Nakamuraya Curry

Rash Behari was admired by most of the Japanese as also Nakamuraya Bose. The Nakamuraya Curry launched by Rash Behari in Japan, is still a favourite food, widely sold in food chain outlets of Tokyo as, “Indian Curry”.

More on Rash Behari and the Indo-Japan Connect, in our book, Indo Japan, A Connect Over Millennia.

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As a journalist

Rash Behari became a journalist and explained the Indian view to the outside world for the next 20 years. It was due his earnest efforts that a conference was held in Tokyo in 1942 to discuss political issues.

Forming of Indian Independence League

The Indian Independence League was soon formed, under the leadership of Rash Behari.  Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was made the president of this league.

Formation of INA

Many Indian prisoners captured by the Japanese army in Burma and Malaysia were persuaded to join the Indian National Army under this Independence league.

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Thus, the Indian Army took shape due to the efforts of Rashbehari Bose. It was named Azad Hind Fauj.

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Conferred prestigious title

Rashbehari passed away on 21st January, 1945. The Japanese government honoured him with the prestigious title, ‘The Second Order of Merit of the Rising Sun’, the highest recognition for a foreigner.

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It is even more heartening to note that a royal coach was sent by the Japanese Emperor Hirohito, to carry the mortal remains of this great Indian revolutionary.

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World Turtle Day

Amphibians

Tortoises and turtles are reptiles. They are able to survive both on land and in water.

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They were one of the early creatures to make the evolutionary shift from living in water to also living on land. A big shift.                             2

Tortoise Turtle – Difference

The major difference between a turtle and a tortoise is that turtles mostly live in water while tortoises mostly live on land. Some of the other differences being,

Difference in Tortoise Turtle
Shell Dome shaped shells Flat shells
Feet Bent legs and short feet Webbed feet with long claws
Diet Mostly Herbivorous Omnivorous
Hatchlings Hatchlings move to mother’s burrow from their nest soon after birth Hatchlings stay in their next on their own for 3 to 4 months
Life span 80-150 years 20-40 years

Tortoise legends across the world

There are numerous legends associated with tortoises across many civilizations.

        Dasavatara

In the sequence of Dasavatara, the 10 incarnations of Divinity Vishnu, Kurma Avatara, the tortoise incarnation, is the second Avatara, incarnation of the Divinity Vishnu. The first in the 10 incarnations was Matsya, the Fish, which can live only in water. The second is Kurma, a tortoise which can live both on land and water, representing the evolutionary leap.

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Vishnu takes the form of a tortoise and supports the hill on His back during the churning of the oceans, Samudra Manthan by the Deva and Asura.

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           Sri Kurmam Temple

There is a temple in Srikakulam district of coastal Andhra Pradesh dedicated to this Kurma Avatara of Vishnu. The temple is called Sri Kurmam. The idol in the temple is not a sculpture designed by man, but a fossil of a real tortoise.

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        Tortoises and Tectonic plates

Indian geological texts also describe the earth as being supported by 8 tortoises.

Here, the analogy of the tortoise stands for the 8 solid tectonic plates on the earth’s crust, over the molten core of the earth, which are constantly moving but very slowly, just like a turtle and its hard shell which covers the soft animal inside.

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          In Indonesia

The architectural representation of this turtle legend can be seen in the old archaeological sites of central Java in Indonesia and the adjoining Bali islands too.

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       American Legend

There is a similar turtle legend that is explicitly expressed in the ancient American legends too, where a turtle dives to the bottom of the ocean to bring back mud to create the earth.

Thus, we see that turtles have been revered across civilizations from time immemorial.

Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin on his study of various life forms, conducted his research on the famous Galapagos tortoise of Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean that live for over 100 years.

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World Turtle Day

World Turtle Day is observed every year on May 23rd to raise awareness on turtles, tortoises, and their protection.

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On this day, animal lovers and organizations come together and organize events around turtles and tortoises.

Caring for Turtles

Turtles might not be favourites of people, like dogs, but it is vitally important that we care for this species, one of the ancient creatures of our planet.

Need to protect Turtles

This Turtle’s day, let us take steps to protect this endangered species, by saving the turtle hatchings on the coasts.

International Day Of Biodiversity

Biodiversity is defined as variety and variability in living organisms. From our immediate environment to the whole world, the flora and fauna are intensely diverse.

How many amazing varieties of lives we encounter in our life, from insects, to animals, to plants. Each ecosystem brings with it its own set of creatures, who are dependent on each other.

Every life is dependent on the other for its survival, and are part of the food chain. And, even if one life becomes extinct, then the whole food chain is affected.

Thus understanding of the Ecology of living creature, will help us to understand how vital it is to preserve the Biodiversity.

Biodiversity in India

India has been a richly biodiverse civilization from ancient times, partly because of its diverse terrain. From the Himalayas in the north to the Indian Ocean in the south to the Thar Desert in North West, to peninsular plateau, India is a home to a variety of ecosystems.

Ecology and Biodiversity are integral to the ethos of this land.

This diversity is echoed in our Upanishad, which has the sloka, “Ekoham Bahushyam, meaning, “I am One. I shall become many.” Thus Divinity divided Himself into infinite lives, through the universe.

Shiva Parivar

The concept of Biodiversity and food chain is beautifully depicted through Shiva Parivar, Shiva’s Family.

Shiva has Nandi, bull for his Vahana, vehicle and wears a snake. Parvathi has a lion, Ganesha has a mouse and Karthikeya a peacock.  In real world, the lion considers bull as its prey and the bull fears the lion. Similarly, snake preys on the mouse and a peacock preys on snake. Here we see that the family members of Shiva have Vahana that are by nature antagonistic to each other. This is symbolic of Biodiversity and food chain that are the very nature of Nature.

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Shiva Parivar

4 types of Creatures

In the Mahabharata, Chapter-5, Sanjaya describes to Dhrtharashtra, the types of life, immobile and mobile.

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Sanjaya describing to Dhrtharashtra

 

Three Categories of animals

Similarly, animals were categorized into three.

  1. Vayavya – those of the air
  2. Aranya – those of the wild
  3. Gramya – Those of the village

Ramayana

Ramayana speaks of the biodiverse nature of the forests.

At the time when Rama was leaving for exile, Kaushalya, His mother expressed her fear about His safety, wherein she says,

“May the huge elephants not harm you my dear son, nor the lions, tigers, bears, boars or ferocious horned buffalo.”

At another place, Sita expresses her delight in witnessing the forest, where she refers to lotus ponds, herds of deer, geese and ducks.

Ayurveda

Ayurveda, the Indian science of medicine, consists of profound knowledge of Biodiversity. Ayur means life and Veda, knowledge. Ayurveda is the knowledge about life. In Ayurveda, the inter-relationship between living creature and their habitat was establish.

Vriksha Ayurveda, is a branch of Ayurveda that studies the science of flora. In it, various aspects of plant life and forest ecosystems are dealt with. It also describes varieties of plants that have medicinal properties, and are widely used in treatment.

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Arthasastra

Chanakya’s Arthasastra, gave importance to preservation of Biodiversity.

The Arthasastra divides the environment into several regions like,

  • Aranya – Forest Areas
  • Parvata – Mountains
  • Audaka – Wet and humid regions
  • Bhauma – Drylands
  • Sama – Plains
  • Visava  – Uneven lands

Protection of each of these ecosystems, as well as the creature are given prominence in Arthasastra, which specifies penalties and punishments for injuring living creatures.

Jungles to Concrete Jungles

Today, in the name of progress and prosperity, buildings replace trees in most major cities. Water bodies disappear to make way for residential and business complexes. Jungles are slowly giving way for concrete jungles. This has greatly affected the Biodiversity of our planet.

Humans are the Cancer of this planet

A thought-provoking quote from the Hollywood movie, Matrix states:

“Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply… until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern.

Do you know what it is?

A virus.

Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet”.

International Day for Biodiversity

International Day for Biodiversity is a UN instituted day observed every year on May 22nd to raise awareness on preservation of Biodiversity.

Only preservation of this diversity can save us from the adversity that our planet is facing these days.

International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

Man, Woman and The Other in India

International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia Day is observed every year on May 17. Homophobia means “dislike or prejudice against the homosexual people”. Biphobia is “dislike or prejudice against bisexual people”. And, Transphobia refers to, “dislike or prejudice against transgenders”.

Section 377  is an article in the Indian Penal Code, IPC. It is all about what constitutes permitted sexual act in humans.

What has been the ethos of India with regards to this subject that goes beyond sex between a man and a woman?

Delving into the Samskrt language, we find a word Napumsaka. Pumsa means male. There is infact a mantra/ritual called Pumsavana performed in early conception for avana, i.e. to wish, hasten, a pumsa, male progeny. Pumsa denotes the spirit of being a man, masculinity.

Here we see the specific word Napumsaka meaning, “not pumsa”, those who are not fully male either by body or in character, in other words transgenders.

We also come across another word Samalingakamin, meaning those who desire the same gender, in other words homosexuals.

The fact that these words exist implies that such people existed too. If such people existed, then their practices of sex and other aspects would have existed too. Acknowledging them, also acknowledges their lifestyle.

While most languages in their usage have only 2 genders, one comes across 3 genders in prayoga, usage, in Samskrt and other Indian languages. So, it was an accepted fact in the Indian ethos, that besides the two genders, male and female, a 3rd division also exists in reality.

Transgenders were therefore accepted as a 3rd form of humans as Nature expresses itself in many forms.

The 3rd gender have been referred to in India by diff names – Eunuchs in English, Hijara in Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Arabic languages, Jogappa in Kannada, Aravani, Ali or Thirunangai in Tamil. Nangai means womanly and Thiru is an honorific title given to males. Thirunangai means male and female in one body. This word for the transgenders in Tamil Nadu implies that they are not looked down upon.

When did this scenario change in India?

In 1870, the Indian Penal code (IPC) was formulated by the British administrators. In article 377 of the IPC, non heterosexual sex between male and female humans has been classified as “unnatural” and punishable upto a period of 10 years in jail.

Why was it classified as “unnatural”?

In 1870s, it was the Victorian puritan view that was prevalent in medieval Europe. That view was imposed on India through this section 377.

But since then, in the last 140 years, Europe and England have moved on in thought and practice, whereas India has been stuck with an outdated, alien law section – alien to the views of this land, alien to the jurisprudence of this land.

The origins of this thought in England and medieval Europe comes from the Biblical incident of Sodom and Gomorrah wherein it is expressed that the city of Sodom was burnt down by a fiery shower because some of its residents had indulged in homosexual acts.

It is from the name of this Biblical town Sodom that certain types of sexual acts are now called sodomy.

Modern science and analysis have proved that there was a meteor strike in the Alps mountains over 3000 years ago. Rebounding of the meteor parts as they hit the Alps, caused a spray of molten rocks on Sodom. This astral event has now been scientifically analyzed and explained with specific dates. In the wake of this analysis, to link the fiery shower to the act of sodomy of a few in Sodom makes it irrational, unscientific.

We need to now move ahead shedding behind the unscientific as well as Victorian views.

The issue concerning 377 can be viewed at from different perspectives.

It is a bodily fact that a person is born as a transgender. It cannot be expressed as a bodily defect. Mutations are a process by which evolutions evolve.

In the bodily realm, besides the physically noticeable bodily differences, what is physically not seen but is equally potent are the effects of hormone play in a person. The play of hormones is not limited to the stage of puberty but continues through the life. Imbalances in these can give rise to such situations in a person.

The other factor is the mind play. We all know that mind can play a substantial role in determining tastes, preferences, attitude in all aspects including sex.

While the case of physical body variations gives to transgenders, the other cases of hormonal and mental influences tend to take the preference towards homosexuality (gay or lesbian or bisexual).

In modern parlance the homosexuals, transgenders and transvestites have all been brought under the broad term LGBT – Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgenders, to distinguish them as a community different from the heterosexual community.

Fundamentally it denotes a sexual minority of people who vary from a stereotype male or female in their physical body parts, physique, physiology, psychology or preferences. It is a variance that reveals itself in their choice of partners for sex and life.

While the heterosexuals look at LGBT as a deviance, the LGBT community which over the last few decades have found a global voice, express in loud and clear terms, that it is not a deviance but another way of thinking where there is no harm done to other members of the society.

In the traditional Indian view also the personal preferences of LGBT were acknowledged. They also realized that the LGBT community were not harmful to society and were allowed to live their lives as per their preferences quietly. People from the LGBT community were given their lawful share, stake, pangu of village resources. They also figured among the rightful pangudhars, stakeholders in the village.

India had devised its own way of dealing with this community. The LGBT formed cults of their own and intermingled within themselves without intruding on the lifestyle of the rest of the heterosexual society.

The Kama Sutra also contains mention that homosexuality is something that is enjoyed by its practitioners. Narada Samhita, Manusmriti and a whole host of other texts acknowledge the existence of such people and their personal preferences. In a few temples there are sculptures of not just heterosexual couples but of homosexual couples as well. These are strewn all over the land and have been sculpted through the ages.

Literature and art thus showcase existence of homosexuality in ancient India.

These highlight that while heterosexuality is needed for procreation, homosexuality is seen to have been practiced by a minority few, purely for pleasure and solace.

This distinction can be seen in depictions even while dealing with concepts, principles, Tattva.

Everything in Nature including divine forces was attributed a gender – masculine, feminine or neuter.  There are stories of two masculine divinities, Tattva, Hari and Hara, coming together for a purpose – to bring forth Ayyappa, another divinity with their combined qualities, principles.

But here too, inorder to depict the concept of procreation, Hari or Vishnu principle takes the female form of Mohini, as the legend goes. The divinity Ayyappa however is commonly referred to only as HariHara Putra, meaning son of Hari and Hara.

There is another very interesting story in the Mahabharata legend. Where there is a dialogue between Yudhishtra and Bhishma. Bhishma is on his deathbed, on a bed of arrows. This dialogue takes place in the month of January 3066 BCE. Yudhishtra asks Bhishma as to, in sex, who enjoys more – man or woman. Bhishma then narrates the story of a king of a bygone era who had got converted into a woman, lady. In that king’s opinion, it was the woman who enjoyed the sexual act more.

What this brings out is that there were incidents where people of yore did consider changing their gender to enjoy the sexual act.

What is even more interesting is that such a topic was discussed between two men of high esteem, separated by two generations, such as Yudhishtra and his grand uncle Bhishma, on a solemn occasion when Bhishma was on his deathbed. Even on such an occasion, it was not out of the norm to discuss such a matter.

This tells us of the openness with which this subject was discussed.

As the heterosexual community does not make a big noise about their sexual preference, the LGBT community also did not, about theirs. It is only when one group tries to look down upon the other and intrude through laws and punishments, on the other’s right to live their lives as per their choice, do such issues come to the fore and seem larger than life.

In conclusion, the Indian ethos has been an open one where issues of sex, gender and LGBT have been given their due place in discussion and freedom of choice. We too, this day, should discuss and come up with laws that are in tune with the times, with the nature of this land and Nature “herself” to address this issue which perhaps is as timeless as the origins of man and woman.