Third Sex in Hinduism

“What does Hinduism teach about homosexuality? Ancient Hindu teachings describe homosexuality as a “third sex” (tritiya-prakriti), an inborn nature combining both male and female properties. Homosexuals and transgenders were recognized for their unique nature and incorporated into Vedic society accordingly. They were not punished or persecuted under ancient Hindu law and elaborate descriptions of homosexuality can be found in the Kama Shastra (Hindu scriptures describing the art of lovemaking).

“What exactly is the Hindu third sex? The Hindu third sex refers to people we know today as gender minorities— homosexuals, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, the intersexed—people who do not fit neatly into society’s “normal” male and female roles. Such people are sometimes described as “neither man nor woman” or “both man and woman.” In Hinduism, the universal creation is honored as unlimitedly diverse and the recognition of a third sex is one more aspect of this understanding. Gender-ambiguous persons were traditionally awarded a semi-divine status and their participation in religious ceremonies, especially as crossdressing dancers and devotees of the temple deity, was considered auspicious—a symbol of good luck, peace and cultural prosperity. This tradition can still be observed in India today. Many Hindus believe that people of the third sex have special powers that allow them to bless or curse others.

“What are the primary considerations in determining the third gender? There are two primary considerations in determining the third gender—the first being social and the second, biological. The social consideration refers to whether or not a person is sexually procreative (bearing offspring in society) and the biological consideration refers to whether or not a person, by nature and birth, has both male and female characteristics. A completely third-gender person will have both of these aspects but in some instances only one may be present. For instance, a bisexual person is third gender by nature (having both male and female attractions) but if he or she unites with the opposite sex and begets children, such a person is not socially viewed as belonging to the third gender. Similarly, heterosexually potent males and fertile females who never produce offspring throughout their lives are socially viewed as third gender, even though biologically they are not.”


Published by shokti

i am shokti, lovestar of the eurofaeries, aka marco queer magician of london town. i explore the links between our sexual-physical nature and our spirits, running gatherings, rituals and Queer Spirit Festival. i woke up to my part in the accelerating awakening of light love and awareness on planet earth during a shamanic death-and-rebirth process lasting from January 1995 to the year 2000, and offer here my insights and observations on the ongoing transformation of human consciousness, how to navigate the waves of change, and especially focusing on the role of queer people at this time.

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