What was the attitude towards homosexuality in india and china historically?

Jul 2017
510
Sydney
#51
Finally I could get one precise reference on the subject. It is in verse 175, chapter-11, Manu Smriti:

"A twice-born man who commits an unnatural offence with a male, or has intercourse with a female in a cart drawn by oxen, in water, or in the day-time, shall bathe, dressed in his clothes."

The penalty for homosexual contact in Hindu jurisprudence was to have a bath with clothes on!

This broadly answers the opening question.

Reference: The Laws of Manu XI
Wow! Amazing research. This proves it that homosexual contact was not considered an aberration.

It was no worse than heterosexual conduct during day time
 

kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,647
USA
#53
Finally I could get one precise reference on the subject. It is in verse 175, chapter-11, Manu Smriti:

"A twice-born man who commits an unnatural offence with a male, or has intercourse with a female in a cart drawn by oxen, in water, or in the day-time, shall bathe, dressed in his clothes."

The penalty for homosexual contact in Hindu jurisprudence was to have a bath with clothes on!

This broadly answers the opening question.

Reference: The Laws of Manu XI
Twice-borns are only some 10% of the Hindus. How about the rest, once-borns?
 
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Oct 2015
1,045
India
#54
Twice-borns are only some 10% of the Hindus. How about the rest, once-borns?

Nice to have you come into the discussion.

There were two more classes apart from 'twice born'. At that time these were known as Shudras and Panchamas.

Shudras:

Firstly, let us look at this class. They lived inside the fortified city itself along with other three castes. For evidence we have Valmiki Ramayan (present version may be 250 CE) and also Fa-hien's descriptions (c. 400 CE).

What we know about Shudras is that (a) they were economically the proletariat / working class with rather severe restrictions on ownership of wealth and (b) Brahmin priests did not preside over their religious or social functions.

All the same the social system followed by them was more or less the same since they were part of the society inside the fortress. The story in Valmiki Ramayana about Rama leaving Sita depicts the then prevailing social & political system.

It goes like this: A Shudra refused to allow his wife into his house in the morning as she had spent the night out without telling him. So the wife approached & complained to the King and the king asked him to take her back. The man replied to king that he was different from the king. Though king had accepted his queen even though she spent time in another's house, he would not. As a consequence of this incident, the Queen Sita was divorced by the king. The points I am highlighting is that King & Shudra lived inside the same city, everyone has access to king's justice, and social rules were similar.

Even though social practices were the same for all four classes, the Shudras had their Headman as the person to officiate over religious ceremonies & functions like birth marriage. Of course, we also know that the jurisprudence of those times prescribed different punishments for same offence. In some offences the punishment was higher for Shudras while in others for upper castes.

In short, one does not expect any different rules on homosexuality in this fourth class.


Panchamas:

These people lived outside the fortified cities. They were a minor part of the economic system of the city, i.e of the economic life of the first four castes. They faced social discrimination on entering the city. However, since they were not part of the social system inside, we can not be sure what rules they applied to themselves.

All the same, the dominant culture always affects other surrounding cultures. Take the simple example of wearing jeans. It began with US and now we find it everywhere. All the guys & girls in tourist industry in Thailand wear them. In India from delivery boys to industrialists wear them. So the dominant cultures of those times must have had some impact.

My observation is that organized religions tend to have prescribe stricter moral rules than the less organised ones. So you can make a guess as to what may have applied in various Panchama groups. It actually consisted of many diverse groups with very diverse occupations, some of which may still have been following their tribal cultures.

Today:

Economic discrimination has been ended and affirmative action taken. Society has also changed much especially in urban areas. However, politicians and religious groups keep fanning old issues for their own sub-optimal objectives.

And no illegality is attached to homosexual behaviour since 7th Sep 2018. This decision would apply to all citizens of India irrespective of their religious belief or rules.

Reference:

Section 377: Supreme Court rewrites history, homosexuality no longer a crime
 
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Likes: Aupmanyav

kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,647
USA
#55
^^ I was curious as to why Manusmrithi restricted its ruling on homosexuality to 'twice-borns'. Manusmrithi is usually contemptuous towards the 'once-borns' and severe in their punishments too, and also careless towards them at the same time. May be that Manusmrithi didn't care how the once-borns behaved as long as they didn't tread on the twice-borns.
 
Jul 2017
510
Sydney
#56
Twice-borns are only some 10% of the Hindus. How about the rest, once-borns?
Looking at Raja Manu's edict on this subject, I don't even think it was a real crime to him.

Saying something like just clean yourself up including your clothes shows it was something that could not be stopped and could easily happen to anyone.

So, you are right in posing that question and I believe the answer is it was perfectly fine behavior among those without yajnopaveet
 
Oct 2015
1,045
India
#57
May be that Manusmrithi didn't care how the once-borns behaved as long as they didn't tread on the twice-borns.
'Once born' constituted the proletariat base on which the bourgeois 'twice born' survived in Marxist terminology. In fact the 'once born' were well regulated by depriving / moderating their economic rights. So we cant say that it "didn't care".
 

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,375
New Delhi, India
#58
So, you are right in posing that question and I believe the answer is it was perfectly fine behavior among those without yajnopaveet.
It was not a right behavior, not approved, but one that did not entail the British punishment for all people. It was a fact of life, one of the things that happen in life.
'Once born' constituted the proletariat base on which the bourgeois 'twice born' survived in Marxist terminology. In fact the 'once born' were well regulated by depriving / moderating their economic rights. So we cant say that it "didn't care".
The deprivation belonged to the middle ages. Otherwise they were treated just as well. Chandala employed Raja Harischandra after he gave away his riches and kingdom in charity. A barber from my childhood, Kanhaiya lal, Kanji Ba, as we called him, was prosperous and spent a lot of money for public benefit, wells and dharmashalas. It is not that all of them were poor.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,338
Florania
#59
However, as time went on, the Chinese attitudes shifted. Starting from the Tang onwards, the perception of homosexuality became more and more negative. For example, during the Tang period a word jijian was used to describe sodomy and homosexuality was compared to bestiality. In the 12th century, during the reign of the Song emperor Huizong a first law banning male prostitutes (which mainly serviced other men) was established. First law banning male homosexuality in China is from the Ming period, to be more precise from the reign of Jiajing Emperor. Later, in 1740, the Qing also introduced a similar law. While it was often claimed that this rise of Chinese homophobia was due to increasing influence of the Abrahamic religions, it is not really the case. Neo-Confucian thinkers like Han Yu and Zhu Xi stressed the importance of temperance, they condemned extramarital affairs (such as homosexual ones) and certain Buddhist texts from the 10th century also condemned homosexuality.
Some may blame the "backwardness" of China on Neo-Confucianism and Mahayana Buddhism.
Then, even Hinayana Buddhism is known to condemn improper sexual relationship.
Since homosexuals cannot have children and are sexual minority, we often consider them "unnatural".
 
Jul 2017
510
Sydney
#60
'Once born' constituted the proletariat base on which the bourgeois 'twice born' survived in Marxist terminology. In fact the 'once born' were well regulated by depriving / moderating their economic rights. So we cant say that it "didn't care".
Don't agree with this analogy. Raja Harishchandra was in the employ of a so called Sudra when he fell into hard times.

Similarly, there are numerous examples of people from different trades being successful and prosperous.

After all we must remember the Jaati construct is nothing else but a guild of people with a common line of business or trade.

There are not supposed to be any unequal status just on the basis of what you do.

For a reality check, bear in mind King Janak ploughed the earth, Harishchandra worked as assistant in a cremation ground, Bhagirath spent his life digging the course of the Ganga.

This list can go on
 
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